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Portrait of Sir John Chandos from Bruges' Garter Book, BL

Sir John Chandos (d. 1370)

SIR JOHN CHANDOS (d. 1370), soldier, was descended from Robert de Chandos, a companion of William the Conqueror. In the thirteenth century two families claimed descent from this Robert—one settled in Herefordshire, and the other in Derbyshire. To the latter branch Sir John Chandos belonged. His father, Sir Edward Chandos, received a pension of £40 for military service rendered in 1327. His mother was Isabel, daughter of Sir Robert Twyford.

Garter Arms of Sir John Chandos Chandos's earliest military achievements known to us are associated with the siege of Cambrai (1337), and the battles of Crécy (1346) and of Poitiers (1356). In the last engagement he saved the life of the Black Prince, who was his devoted friend, and was rewarded with a grant of the manor of Kirkton, Lincolnshire.1 Edward III presented him at the peace of Bretigni (1360) with the lands of Viscount Saint Sauveur in the Coutantin. About the same time Chandos was appointed 'regent and lieutenant' of the king of England in France, and vice-chamberlain of the royal household. In 1362 he received the Black Prince on a visit to Poitiers, and was made constable of Guienne. Two years later he went to the assistance of the English ally, John de Montfort, in Brittany; prevented the conclusion of a peace between Montfort and his rival Charles de Blois, and was in command of Montfort's and the English forces at the battle of Auray (6 Oct. 1364), when De Blois was killed and Bertrand du Guesclin became Chandos's prisoner. Du Guesclin was ransomed during the following year for one hundred thousand francs.

In 1367 the Black Prince resolved to cross the Pyrenees to re-establish Pedro the Cruel on the throne of Castile, whence he had been driven by his natural brother, Henry de Trastamare, aided by Du Guesclin and the free companies of Gascony. Chandos tried to dissuade his friend from joining in the enterprise; but his advice was of no avail, and Chandos was at length induced to accompany Prince Edward's troops across the Pyrenees. Chandos negotiated the passage of the army with the king of Navarre. On 3 April 1367 the English army met and defeated the enemy at Navarette, when Chandos's bravery was specially conspicuous, and Bertrand du Guesclin became his prisoner for the second time. With John of Gaunt he was in command of the advance guard of the English army.

On his return to Guienne Chandos strongly urged Edward to remit the hearth-tax, which was causing the inhabitants of the province great irritation. His counsel was rejected, and Chandos retired to his estate in the Coutantin, where he arrived in May 1368. In December of the same year, after the rupture of the peace of Bretigni, Chandos returned to Guienne at the earnest entreaty of the Black Prince, and took command of Montauban. Soon after March 1369 he became seneschal of Poitiers. The Earl of Pembroke declined to serve under him, and the invasion of the neighbourhood of Poitiers by the French rendered Chandos's position a hazardous one.

At the end of the year the French had occupied St. Savin's Abbey, near Poitiers, which Chandos, aided by Thomas Percy, seneschal of Rochelle, attempted and failed to recapture (30 Dec.). The French pursued Chandos, deserted by all but a few soldiers, to the Vienne, and an engagement took place (31 Dec.) by the bridge at Lussac. There Chandos was wounded, and he died the next day at Mortemer (1 Jan. 1369-70), where he was buried. The following epitaph was long extant above his tomb:

Je Jehan Chandos, des Anglois capitaine,
Fort chevaler, de Poictou seneschal,
Après avoir faict guerre très lointaine
Au roi françois tant à pied qu'à cheval
Et pris Bertrand de Guesquin en un val,
Les Poictevins près Lussac me defirent:
A Mortemer mon corps enterrer firent.

The king of France expressed great grief at the news of Chandos's death, and declared that Chandos alone could have made the peace permanent between England and France. His chivalrous temper was recognised by both friend and foe, and Bertrand du Guesclin was one of his many admirers. Sir John was one of the founders of the order of the Garter (about 1349), and one of the original knights. His plate is still visible above the eleventh stall on the south side in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Chandos was unmarried. His estate was divided between his sisters, Elizabeth, unmarried, and Eleanor, wife of one Roger Colyng, and a niece Isabella, wife of Sir John Annesley, and daughter of a deceased sister Margaret.



1. Rymer, Fœdera (1708), iii. 343.



      Excerpted from:

      Lee, Sidney L. "Sir John Chandos."
      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. X. Leslie Stephen, ed.
      New York: Macmillan and Co., 1887. 43-4.




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Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)

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Images:

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Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
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