To Win and Lose a Medieval Battle

Nájera (April 3, 1367), A Pyrrhic Victory for the Black Prince

In To Win and Lose a Medieval Battle: Nájera (April 3, 1367). A Pyrrhic Victory for the Black Prince, L.J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay provide a full treatment of one of the major battles of the Hundred Years War, which, perhaps because it was fought in Spain, is lesser known to scholars and general readers. Drawing information from contemporary European chronicles and the massive documentary collections of Spanish and French archives, the authors have painstakingly investigated the Iberian and European background events to Nájera and have in minute detail laid out how the army of Enrique II of Castile (assisted by Bertand de Guesclin) and that of his half-brother, Pedro I of Castile (assisted by Edward, the Black Prince), clashed at Nájera on April 3, 1367.

Winner of the 2019 Brigadier General James L. Collins Jr. Prize, awarded by the U.S. Commission on Military History for the best book on military history published in 2017 or 2018. The awarding committee praised the volume as ‘a genuinely original scholarly contribution... comprehensive, balanced, and insightful... this 600-page magnum opus will significantly enhance our understanding of military history during a seminal period of human development.’

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L.J. Andrew Villalon earned his Ph.D. in history at Yale University and, after a long career at the University of Cincinnati, is now an independent scholar in Austin, Texas. He has published seven books and many articles on military history in major academic journals and has served as the president of the Texas Medieval Association and De Re Militari.
Donald J. Kagay earned his Ph. D. in medieval history at Fordham University, and after a long career at Albany State University, currently serves as a part-time professor at the University of Dallas. He has published twelve books and many articles on medieval legal and military history and is the founder and former president of the Texas Medieval Association.
"This is an immensely thorough and detailed study of the battle of Najera. The event itself is often dismissed by modern writers as an exotic adventure by the Black Prince, a mere adjunct, and a futile one, to the ‘real substance’ of the ‘Hundred Years War’ which remains such a focus for historians, and especially those interested in military development. But this book is much more than simple ‘metal-bashing’ […] In this valuable analysis of the battle of Najera, its causes and consequences, the authors discuss topics of wide general interest to military historians, notably the problems of logistics and the desirability (or otherwise) of battle. The great virtue of the account is that it is built upon the sources which are discussed and evaluated throughout. But its greatest value undoubtedly lies in the translations of sources in the appendices. This is an important book based on solid and careful scholarship". John France, in De Re Militari April 2019.
Authors’ Academic Biographies
List of Maps, Tables and Genealogies


Part 1: Background

1 Intersecting Conflicts
 1 Introduction
 2 The Reconquista
 3 Hundred Years War

2 Three Who Ruled
 1 Introduction
 2 Pedro “the Cruel”
 3 Pere “the Ceremonious”
 4 Enrique “the Bastard”

3 A Clash of Kings
 1 Introduction
 2 The Spark
 3 A War of Words
 4 Aragon’s Attempt to Avoid Conflict
 5 Opening Stages
 6 Failure of Papal Diplomacy
 7 Castilian Motives
 8 Escalating Hostilities
 9 The Castilian Exiles
 10 Pedro’s Alliances and the Role of Granada
 11 An Increasingly Brutal Conflict

4 Foreign Policy and Foreign Intervention (1365–1366)
 1 Introduction
 2 Collecting Foreign Enemies: France and the Papacy
 3 An English Alliance
 4 The French Intervention That Wasn’t
 5 The Rise of the Free Companies
 6 The Companies enter Iberia (1365–1366)
 7 A Royal Loss of Nerve? (Spring, 1366)
 8 Aragonese Reclamations
 9 A Triumph and a Flight

Part 2: Campaign and Battle

5 Preparations for Invasion (1366–1367)
 1 Introduction
 2 Journey to Aquitaine
 3 An English Welcome
 4 Winning English Aid
 5 Recruitment and Preparation
 6 Events at Angoulême
 7 The Diplomatic Chessboard: Trilateral Negotiations
 8 Aragonese Indecision
 9 The Muster at Dax
 10 England’s Strategic Conundrum
 11 Castilian Moves and Countermoves (1366–Spring, 1367)

6 The Campaign (February–April 2, 1367)
 1 Introduction
 2 A Mountain Crossing
 3 Campaigning in “the Hungry Season”
 4 Marching to Vitoria: Feint or Blunder?
 5 A Royal Defection
 6 England’s Hour of Discontent
 7 Facing Starvation
 8 To Fight or not to Fight: The Crucial Question
 9 End Run To Logroño
 10 The War of Words

7 The Battle of Nájera (April 3, 1367)
 1 Introduction
 2 The Castilian Army
 3 English Advantages and an “English Bow”
 4 The Numbers Game
 5 English March to the Battlefield
 6 Chivalric Niceties and Knightly Housekeeping
 7 The Battle Begins
 8 The Wager of Battle
 9 The Role of the Longbow
 10 The Face of Battle
 11 Learning from Discrepancies?
 12 Defeat, Pursuit, and Massacre
 13 The Reason Why

Part 3: Aftermath

8 Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
 1 Introduction
 2 An Unusual Court of Chivalry
 3 The Initial Quarrel
 4 Non-Payment of War Debts
 5 Live to Fight Another Day
 6 The King is Dead/Long Live the King
 7 The Hundred Years War Renewed: The First Period of English Defeat
 8 The Turning Wheel of Fortune


Appendix A: Lists of Participants from Five Sources
 A.1 Pedro López de Ayala, Crónica de Pedro I
 A.2 The Chandos Herald
 A.3 Jean Froissart’s Chronicle
 A.4 John of Reading
 A.5 Anonymous Canterbury Chronicle
Appendix B: Document Translations
 B.1 Treaty of Alliance between Pedro I of Castile and the Crown of England (June 22, 1362)
 B.2 Pere III’s Secret Agreement at Monzón to Support Enrique de Trastámara’s Bid for the Castilian Crown (March 31, 1363)
 B.3 Royal Letter of Pedro I Conferring upon Fernando de Castro the Lands and Titles of Count of Castañeda, Lemos, and Sarria (June, 1366)
 B.4 Agreement between Pedro I of Castile, Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine, and King Charles II of Navarre allowing an Anglo-Gascon Army to Traverse Navarre (Fall, 1366)
 B.5 Letters of Pedro I to the City of Murcia (Spring, 1367)
 B.6 Letter of the Black Prince to his Wife, Joan of Kent, Concerning the Victory at Nájera (April, 1367)
 B.7 English Response to Pedro I’s Appeal for Renewed English Aid (1368)
Appendix C: Chronicle Translations
 C.1 Pedro López de Ayala’s Crónica de Pedro I
 C.2 The Chandos Herald’s Life of the Black Prince
 C.3 The Chronicles of Jean Froissart
 C.4 Crónica of Pere III [Pedro IV]
 C.5 The DuGuesclin Memoirs
 C.6 Chronique des Quatre Premiers Valois
 C.7 The Anonymous Chronique Normande
 C.8 Chronique des Regnes de Jean II et Charles V
 C.9 Latin Poem by Walter of Peterborough
 C.10 Latin Poem by an Anonymous pro-English Author
 C.11 Chronicle of King Fernando by Fernão Lopes
 C.12 Monastic Chronicles
Appendix D: Western European Royal Dynasties of the Fourteenth Century
 Kings of England
 Kings of France
 Kings of Castile
 Kings of Crown of Aragon
 Kings of Navarre
 Kings of Portugal
This book, from its fast-moving, though professional style, will appeal to both scholarly and general readers, and will cast a clear investigative light on an important, though understudied, battle of the Hundred Years War: Nájera (April 3, 1367).