Talbot, John

, a name mentioned with distinguished honour in the English annals, was second son to Richard lord Talbot, and was born at Blechmore in Shropshire, in the reign of king Richard II. His first summons to parliament was in the eleventh year of the reign of king Henry IV. He married Maud, the eldest of the two daughters | and coheiresses of sir Thomas Nevil, by Joan, sole daughter and heiress to William lord Furnival. In the first year of Henry V. he was committed to the Tower, but far what reason we are not informed. He was, however, soon released, and constituted, in Feb. following, lord lieutenant of Ireland, and had letters of protection sent him thither by the name of sir John Talbot, knight, lord Furnival. While in this office, he took Donald Mac Murghe, an Irish rebel of considerable note and power: and afterwards brought him prisoner to the Tower of London.

Although we cannot fix the exact time of his going to France, it appears that he attended Henry V. at the siege of Caen in 1417; and the following year, in conjunction with Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, lord Talbot took the strong castle of Dumfront: and was afterwards present at the siege of Rouen, on all which occasions he was esteemed one of the bravest of those officers who had contributed to the conquest of France. About 1422 we find him again in England, employed in suppressing some riots, in the counties of Salop, Hereford, &c. but he returned again to the continent before the year 1427, at which time he regained possession of the city of Mans, which had been a considerable time in the hands of the English, but had in part been retaken by the French, who were now attacked with such impetuosity, that all their troops were either killed or taken prisoners. The unexpected recovery of this important place, the capital of the province of Maine, as it was entirely owing to lord Talbot, contributed not a little to encrease his military fame. He then made himself master of the town of Laval, and having joined the earl of Warwick in the siege of Pontorson, carried that place too, which had before been the grand obstacle in preventing the regent, the duke of Bedford, from carrying the war beyond the Loire. On its surrender, the earl of Warwkk appointed lord Talbot and lord Ross governors of it.

In 1428, the earl of Warwick having returned to England, on being appointed governor to the young king Henry, Thomas Montacute, earl of Salisbury, arrived in France, and, accompanied by lord Talbot, sir John Fastolf (See Fastolf) and others, undertook the memorable siege of Orleans, in the course of which lord Talbot exhibited such striking proofs of uncommon valour, that his very name would strike terror into the French troops. The siege was long carried on with great valour on the part of | the French, and the English had much reason to think that even if it concluded in their favour, the victory would be dearly purchased. They continued however to be apparently advancing towards the accomplishment of this important object, when the relative positions of the besiegers and the besieged began to assume a new appearance, in consequence of one of the most singular occurrences that is to be met with in history, namely the intervention of the celebrated maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, whose actions have been already detailed. (See Joan.) It may suffice here to add, that when this heroine, whose valour was attributed to supernatural agency, had spread dejection throughout the English army, the earl of Suffolk raised the siege, and retreated with all imaginable precaution. He afterwards retired with a detachment of his army to Jergeau, where he was besieged by the French, attended by Joan of Arc, and, the place being taken, his lordship was made prisoner.

After the siege of Orleans was raised, lord Talbot retired to Meun, which he fortified, and then seized another town in the neighbourhood, and threw a reinforcement into Bangenci, and on the disaster of Suffolk, he succeeded to the command of the remainder of the British troops. He was now however doomed to sustain a fatal reverse in the battle of Patay, which the French, encouraged by their enthusiasm, began in so sudden a manner that the English had no time to form themselves, and were still so possessed with the opinion that their enemies were assisted by a supernatural power, that all the efforts of lord Talbot were insufficient to make them sustain the attack of the enemy. He did all that became a brave man and an able general, and his enemies were astonished at his valour, for in conjunction with the lords Scales and Hungerford, and sir Thomas Rempstone, he sustained almost the whole fury of the French attack; but the general rout of his army was at last completed by the French with great slaughter, and lord Taibot, who was wounded in the neck, was taken prisoner, together with some other officers of distinction.

Lord Talbot had sustained a tedious captivity of three years and a half in the hands of the French, when the duke of Bedford found means to have him exchanged, Feb. 12, 1433, for Xaintrailles, a French officer of great reputation; and after paying a short visit to England, his lordship resumed his command in France, and Joan of Arc’s magic | having no longer any influence, she having, according to the common accounts, been put to death as an impostor, or a witch, Lord Talbot, whose name was still an object of terror, extended his conquests, and took several fortified places, with his accustomed skill and bravery. In some instances he is accused of having treated the garrisons with improper severity, and perhaps the long duration of his captivity might have contributed to increase his animosity against the enemy. Among the places he took were the castle of Joigny, Beaumont upon the Oise, Creil, Pont de Maxeme, Neufville, Rouge Maison, Crespi in Valois, Clermont, St. Dennis, and Gisors. One of his exploits was performed in a singular manner. In the beginning of H37, the weather was so extremely cold, that the generals on both sides could not undertake any regular operation in the field, yet even this lord Talbot contrived to turn to advantage. He collected a body of troops, and putting white cloths, or shirts, over their other clothes, marched with them all night, and brought them to the very walls of Pontoise, unperceived by the garrison, who did not distinguish them from the snow with which the ground was covered. They then mounted the walls by means of scaling-ladders, and seizing the chief gates, lord Talbot made himself master of this important place, which exposed the Parisians to the continual incursions of the English garrison up to the very gates of Paris.

His next conquests were Harfleur, Tankerville, Crotoy, where he defeated the troops of the duke of Burgundy, who had deserted the English interest, Longueville in Normandy, Carles, and Manille, and performed feats of great bravery, when the French attempted to recover Pontoise. In truth, all the reputation which the English arms in France still retained appears to have been almost wholly owing to the abilities, courage, and activity of lord Talbot: and in consideration of so great merit, he was advanced to the dignity of earl of Shrewsbury, his patent of creation bearing date May 20, 1442. In the following year, he was constituted one of the ambassadors to treat of peace with Charles VII. king of France; and the year after, the king acknowledging himself indebted to him in the sum of 10, M6l. 4. and a farthing, in consideration of his great services, as well to king Henry V. (his father) as to himself, botli in France and Normandy, granted, that after the sum of twenty-one thousand pounds, in which he stood indebted | unto Henry the cardinal bishop of Winchester, were paid, he should receive, yearly, four hundred marks out of the customs and duties issuing from tfje port of Kingston upon Hull. He was, the same year, again retained to serve the king in his wars of France, with one baron, two knights, fourscore and sixteen men at arms, and three hundred archers, the king having given him ten thousand pounds in hand.

In 1444- he was again constituted lieutenant of Ireland, where he landed in 1446, and soon after held a parliament at Trim, in which several good laws were enacted for the security of the English. On July 17, the same year, having then the titles of earl of Shrewsbury, lord Talbot, Furnival, and Strange, “in consideration of his great services and blood spilt in the wars; as also considering the devastation and spoil done in the county and city of Waterford, and barony of Dungarvan, in the realm of Ireland, by several hostilities of the rebels; to the end that the said realm of Ireland might thenceforth be better defended and preserved, he was advanced to the title and dignity of earl of Wexford and Waterford; having the said city and county of Waterford, with the castles, honour, lands, and barony of Dungarvan, granted to him, with jura regalia, wreck, &c. from Youghal to Waterford, to hold to himself, and the heirs male of his body; and that he and they should thenceforth be stewards of that realm, to do and execute all things to that office appertaining, as fully as the steward of England did perform.” Which patent was granted by writ of privy- seal and authority of parliament. He returned to England the next year, leaving his brother Richard Taibot, archbishop of Dublin, his deputy.

In 1450, being again in the wars of France, where the good success of the English then more and more declined, he was at the surrender of Falaize, and quitted that; place on honourable terms. In 145 1 he was made general of the English fleet, then going out, having four thousand soldiers with him in that expedition; and the year following, 1452, lieutenant of the duchy of Aquitaine, having under him these captains of his men at arms and archers, viz. John Viscount Lisle (his eldest son by his second wife), sir Robert Hungerford, lord Molins, sir Roger Camoys, sir John Lisle, and the bastard of Somerset: and in consideration of his great charge in that high employment, had a grant of the thirds, and third of the thirds, which were reserved | to the king upon his retainer therein. He then marched thither; took Bourdeaux, and put a garrison into it, which success caused several remote cities to submit to his authority. Hearing that the French had besieged Chastillon, he advanced thither, and gave them battle, on July 20; but the event of that day (though for a while it stood doubtful) at length proved fatal to the English; this renowned general being killed by a cannon ball, and his whole army routed.

He died on July 20, 1453, aged eighty, as the inquisition after his death shews; but the inscription, on a noble monument, erected to his memory at Whitchurch, in Shropshire, (to which his body was removed from Roan) makes his death on the 7th of that month.

He was first buried at Roan in France, together with his eldest son, and the inscription for him is thus translated “Here lyeth the right noble knt. John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, earl of Wexford, Waterford, and Valence, lord Talbot of Goderich and Orchenfield, lord Strange of Blackmere, lord Verdon of Alton, lord Cromwell of Wingfield, lord Lovetofte of Worsop, lord Furnival of Sheffield, lord Faulconbridge, knight of the noble orders of the garter, St. Michael, and the golden fleece, great marshal to Henry VI. of his realm of France, who died in the battle of Bourdeaux, 1453.

It has been observed of this gallant soldier that he had been victorious in forty several battles and dangerous skirmishes. He was usually called the Achilles of England. Camden, in his “Remains,” says that his sword was "not long since found in the river of Dordon, and sold by a peasant to an armourer of Bourdeaux, with this inscription; but pardon (he adds) the Latin, for it was not his, but his camping chaplain’s

"Sum Talboti M. mi. c. XLIII.

Pro Vincere Inimico Meo."


Collins’s Peerage.—Monstrelet’s Chron.—Rapin’s Hist.—British Biography, &c.