Jane of Flanders
Countess of Montfort
1310 (?) – 1362 A.D.
Jane of Flanders was one of the most extraordinary women of her age. Her husband, the Count of Montfort, having been, in 1342, made prisoner and conducted to Paris, she assembled the inhabitants of Rennes to take up arms in her behalf. The movement was participated in by all in Brittany, and she soon found herself in a position to protect her rights. Having shut herself in the fortress of Hennebonne, Charles de Blois, her husband’s enemy, besieged her there, after an obstinate defense, in which the countess showed many of her qualities of a commander.
The repeated breaches made in the walls at length rendered it necessary for the besieged, who were diminished in numbers and exhausted by fatigue, the treat for a capitulation. During a conference for that purpose, in which the Bishop of Leon was engaged with Charles de Blois, the countess, who had mounted a high tower which commanded a view of the sea, described some sails at a distance, and immediately exclaimed, “Behold the succors! The English succors! No capitulation!”
The fleet prepared by Edward III, for the relieve of Hennebonne, having been detained by contrary winds, entered the harbor under the command of Sir Walter Mauny. The garrison, by this reinforcement, animated with fresh spirits, immediately sailed forth, beat the besiegers from their posts, and obliged them to decamp. The flames of war still continued their devastation, when Charles de Blois, having invested the fortress of Roche de Rien, the Countess of Montfort, reinforced by some English troops, attacked him during the night in his entrenchments, dispersed his army, and took him prisoner.
The mediation of France and England failed to put an end to the disputes in Brittany, till Charles de Blois was at length slain, at the battle of Auray. Through the influence of his mother, the young Count de Montifort soon obtained possession of the duchy, and through a zealous partisan of England, had his title acknowledged by the French king, to whom he did homage for his dominions.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.