September 4th The Siege of Calais

Fowey from the valley above


In the medieval period, Fowey was one of the most important English ports and played an essential part in the Siege of Calais (4th September 1346 – 3rd August 1347) which occurred at the end of the Battle of Crécy (August 26th). 

Having defeated the French army of King Philip VI, the English forces of Edward III, numbering some 10,000, attacked the strongly fortified port of Calais and its garrison but failed to breach the town’s defences, which comprised a double moat outside the city walls whilst the citadel of the garrison itself was protected by its own moat. 

It is fascinating that soldiers were often accompanied by wives and children and the camp followers were also accompanied by merchants and traders.  This is demonstrated by the fact that the English established a camp to the west of Calais, ‘Nouville’, which even had two market days a week. 

For the first few months of the siege the French were resupplied from the east until the English managed to blockade that route.  It has been estimated that, over the year-long siege, 853 ships manned by 24,000 sailors blockaded the port and resupplied the English forces. 

Fowey and Polruan sent more ships to the blockade than did London.

When the French capitulated, the ‘Fowey Gallants’, were rewarded for their efforts with Royal permission to raid French ships off Cornwall.   Subsequently, Calais remained in English hands until 1558.



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