Sunday, August 2, 2020
On this day in 1343 the French king, Philip VI, arranged for the execution on possible trumped up charges of treason of Oliver de Clissons IV, a Breton noble. While Jonathan Sumption appears to believe the charges were legitimate (Sumption, The Hundred Years War I: Trial By Battle at 411-12), the execution of Oliver was a big mistake.
Oliver’s wife, Jeanne, sold off her property and with her two sons in tow purchased a fleet of three ships. With which she began pirating in the English Channel, targeting the ships of Philip and assisting the English in the Hundred Years War. The name of her flagship: My Revenge. She is reported to have made a practice of killing the entire crew of a captured ship save one so that he could report back to Philip who had captured the ship. This she did for some 13 years.
Eventually her small fleet was lost. She would marry one last time, this time to an English commander, Walter Bentley.