26 March

The Combat of the Thirty occurred on this day in 1351 and was an episode in the Breton War of Succession, a war fought to determine who would rule the Duchy of Brittany. It was an arranged fight between picked combatants from both sides of the conflict.

It was fought at a site midway between the Breton castles of Josselin and Ploërmel between thirty champions, knights and squires on each side, in a challenge issued by Jean de Beaumanoir, a captain of Charles of Blois supported by the King of France, to Robert Bemborough, a captain of Jean de Montfort supported by the King of England.

After a hard-fought battle, the Franco-Breton Blois faction emerged victorious. The combat was later celebrated by medieval chroniclers and balladeers as a noble display of the ideals of chivalry. In the words of Jean Froissart, the warriors “held themselves as valiantly on both sides as if they had been all Rolands and Olivers.” This idealised account conflicts with a version according to which the combat arose from the mistreatment of the local population by Bemborough.