Battle of Nájera
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|Battle of Nájera (Navarrete)|
|Part of Castilian Civil War|
The Battle of Nájera from a fifteenth-century manuscript of Froissart's Chronicles. The English and Peter of Castile are on the left.
|Crown of Castile|| Crown of Castile
Kingdom of France
|Commanders and leaders|
| Peter of Castile
Edward, the Black Prince
John of Gaunt
| Henry II of Castile
Bertrand du Guesclin
4,000 Jinetes (horsemen)
|Casualties and losses|
|approximately 200 dead||approximately 7,000 dead|
The Battle of Nájera, also known as the Battle of Navarrete, was fought on 3 April 1367 between an Anglo-Gascon army and Franco-Castilian forces near Nájera, in the province of La Rioja, Castile. The English were led by Edward, the Black Prince, and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, allied with Peter of Castile (sometimes called "Peter the Cruel") against his brother Henry of Trastámara (Spanish: Enrique II).
Peter and Henry had been in armed conflict, the Castilian Civil War, for some time before the intervention of foreign powers was sought. Peter begged assistance from the Black Prince in Bordeaux to restore him to his throne. James IV of Majorca also agreed to support Peter.
With 24,000 men, the Anglo-Gascon army marched south from Aquitaine and crossed the river Ebro at Logroño. They took control of the fortified village of Navarrete and continued towards Nájera to face Henry's Franco-Castilian army, the latter's strength being 60,000. Despite the large size of his army, Henry's commander, Bertrand du Guesclin, was later reported to have been reluctant to face the English in a pitched battle, but he was overruled.
The battle began with the English longbowmen gaining dominance over the French archers. Then, the English vanguard, led by Sir John Chandos and the Duke of Lancaster, attacked the French mercenaries commanded by Du Guesclin and Arnoul D'Audrehem. The chronicler Froissart gives detailed information about the participants in the battle.
Under the pennon of St. George, and attached to the banner of Sir John Chandos, were the free companies, who had in the whole twelve hundred streamers. Among them were good and hardy knights and squires, whose courage was proof; namely, Sir Robert Cheney, Sir Perducas d’Albret, Robert Briquet, Sir Garsis du Chastel, Sir Gaillard Viguier, Sir John Charnels, Nandon de Bagerant, Aymemon d’Ortige, Perrot de Savoye, le bourg Camus, le bourg de l’Esparre, le bourg de Breteuil, Espiote, and several others.
The Castilian cavalry, under heavy arrow fire from the English longbowmen, fled early, leaving Henry's battle exposed to attack from the mounted English rearguard. The Franco-Castilian army disintegrated and retreated, pursued by the English, back to the bank of the river Najerilla. Du Guesclin was captured, but Henry escaped and fled.
Peter and the English completely routed Henry and the French, inflicting heavy losses. Unlike at other battles of the Hundred Years' War, at Nájera it was the English who were attacking dismounted French troops. As with many other battles of the period, the English longbow proved a significant advantage, probably for the first time in the Iberian Peninsula. However, the battle was of dubious long-term significance as Peter and the Black Prince fell out over money, and Peter was not able to maintain his rule for long without foreign support.
- Sir John Froissart; Translated from the French by Thomas Johnes. Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. London 1808 . p. 309.
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