Geoffroi de Charny

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The Battle of Poitiers (1356) Eugène Delacroix

Geoffroi de Charny (c. 1300 – 19 September 1356) was the Lord of Lirey, a French knight and a writer. Sir Geoffroi was born of an important French family. Throughout his life he fought many battles for France. He fought in the Crusades and many times throughout the war with England. He was always loyal to his King, Jean II, King of France and died at the Battle of Poitiers protecting him. Throughout his lifetime he was well known and well respected by both the French and the English kings and nobles. At Poitiers he was chosen to carry the Oriflamme into battle. The Oriflamme was the Kings banner and this was a great honor given to a knight by the King. He was also one of the Knights chosen to fight close to and protect the King. De Charny was said to be a "true and perfect Knight".[1]

Jean de Joinville was de Charny's grandfather's. He was a close friend of King Louis IX and author of his biography. In the same tradition, Sir Geoffroi wrote three books in his time. His most famous book was "A Knight's Own Book of Chivalry". In this book he shared his great skill and knowledge of combat. The second book written by de Charny is entitled, "Requests (or Questions) for jousting tournaments and war". It was written about 1352 to the Knights of the Order of the Star which Sir Geoffroi founded. This book was written in the form of questions. His third book was the book "Charny", describes the life of a knight and lists the qualities a good knight must possess.[2]

Charny fought in Flanders[3] and Tournay.[4] He was taken prisoner but was ransomed because the King considered him so important.[2] He fought in many major battles during the Hundred Years' War such as the battles of Calais, Crecy and Poitiers.

Sir John Chandos was a close friend and biographer of Edward, the Black Prince, the eldest son of King Edward III of England. Chandos was a famous knight himself. He was an educated man and wrote down the events of a great meeting of both sides before the Battle of Poitiers. He wrote that at that meeting Sir Geoffroi tried to avoid a great bloodshed by proposing a smaller battle where 100 knights on each side would do battle with each other and the outcome would decide the battle. Chandos writes that Charny was trying to find an honorable solution to avoid a great many more deaths. The Black Prince refused that offer. Charny’s predictions turned out to be true and indeed a great many nobles on both sides lost their life that day, including de Charny himself.[5]

Charny died at the Battle of Poitiers while protecting the King.[6]

Pilgrim Badge of the Pilgrimage of Lirey representing the Shroud of Turin (Croquis d'Arthur Forgeais, 1865)

The Shroud of Turin[change | edit source]

Historical records seem to indicate that a shroud bearing an image of a crucified man (represented in the Pilgrim Badge shown here) existed in the small town of Lirey in France around the years 1353 to 1357 in the possession of Geoffroi de Charny. The cloth itself is controversial. Some believe it is a fake, while others believe the shroud to be the true burial cloth of Jesus Christ.[7]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror, the Calamitous 14th Century (Published Alfred A. Knopf: 1978).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Richard W. Kaeuper and Elspeth Kennedy, The Book of Chivalry of Geoffroi de Charny: Text, Context and Translation (Philadelphia, University of Philadelphia Press) Introduction
  3. Jean Froissart, Editors Berners, John Bourchier, Lord, 1466 or 7-1533; Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, Froissart Chronicles, p. 112 [1]
  4. Jean Froissart, Editors Berners, John Bourchier, Lord, 1466 or 7-1533; Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, Froissart Chonicles, Chpt. LIII [2]
  5. Sir John Chandos, edited by Mildred K. Pope and Eleanor C. Lodge of Oxford Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos, edited from the Manuscript in Worcester College with Linguistic and Historical notes (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1910) translation at 142 [3]
  6. Jean Froissart, Editors Berners, John Bourchier, Lord, 1466 or 7-1533; Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, Froissart Chronicles p. 105 and Chpt. CLV [4]
  7. W. Meacham, "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud, An Issue in Archeological Epistemogy", Current Anthropology, 24, 3, 1983 Article