Battle of Muret

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Battle of Muret
Part of the Albigensian Crusade
Battle of Muret.jpg
The Battle of Muret: illustration from the Grandes Chroniques de France
Date 12 September 1213
Location Muret, France
43°28′N 1°20′E / 43.467°N 1.333°E / 43.467; 1.333Coordinates: 43°28′N 1°20′E / 43.467°N 1.333°E / 43.467; 1.333
Result Decisive French-Crusader victory
Belligerents
Cross-Pattee-alternate red.svg Crusaders
Arms of the Kingdom of France (Ancien).svg Kingdom of France
Escudo del reino de Aragon.png Crown of Aragon
Blason Languedoc.svg County of Toulouse
Armoiries Comminges.png County of Comminges
Blason du comté de Foix.svg County of Foix
ArmoiriesTrencavel.svg Viscounty of Carcassonne
Commanders and leaders
Simon IV de Montfort
Bouchard de Marly
Guillaume des Barres
Guillaume de Contres
Peter II of Aragon  
Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse
Raimond-Roger, Count of Foix
Strength

1,000–1,700[1]

  • 240–260 knights
  • 500–700 horse sergeants
  • 300–700 crusader-pilgrim infantry

4,000–6,000[2]

  • 2,000 knights and horse sergeants
  • 2,000–4,000 militia infantry
Casualties and losses
8 killed[3] Heavy[4]

At the Battle of Muret[5] on 12 September 1213 the Crusader army of Simon IV de Montfort defeated the Catharist, Aragonese and Catalan forces of Peter II of Aragon, at Muret near Toulouse.

Background

Simon IV de Montfort was the leader of the Albigensian Crusade to destroy the Cathar heresy and incidentally to join the Languedoc to the crown of France. He invaded Toulouse and exiled its count, Raymond VI. Count Raymond sought assistance from his brother-in-law, King Peter II of Aragon, who felt threatened by Montfort's conquests in Languedoc. He decided to cross the Pyrenees and deal with Montfort at Muret.

On 10 September, Peter's army arrived at Muret, and was joined by a Toulousain militia. He chose to position his army so their right flank was protected by the Saudrune River, and the left protected by a marsh. He left the Toulousain militia to assault the walls of the city.

Armies

Simon de Montfort led an army of 1,000–1,700 French Crusaders, including a small contingent of knights brought by his ally, the viscount of Corbeil. Montfort had 900 cavalry, of which 260 were knights. His 300–700 infantry stayed behind at Muret to hold the town and tie down the Toulousain militia.[1][6]

King Peter of Aragon had brought 800 to 1,000 Aragonese cavalry, joined by a militia of 2,000–4,000 infantry from Toulouse and cavalry from the counts of Comminges and Foix. King Peter of Aragon's combined forces possibly numbered 2,000 cavalry and 2,000–4,000 infantry.[2]

Battle

Montfort led his knights and horse sergeants out of the walled town and divided his cavalry army into three lines, with his half-brother William of Barres commanding the first line and Montfort himself commanding the third for purposes of tactical command and control. King Peter had arranged his men in the same formation, with the Count of Foix commanding the first line and the King disguising himself in a borrowed suit of armor in the second line. Once deployed, Peter's army remained stationary and waited for the Crusaders' approach.[6]

Crossing a stream, William of Barres' cavalry rode for the center of the Count of Foix's line, with the second Crusader line following him.[6] The coalition's first line was crushed by the impetus of the charge and the Crusaders broke through to the second. At the same time, Montfort maneuvered his unit to outflank the coalition cavalry from the left and crashed into them. Confused and disorganized, the coalition cavalrymen began to retreat.[7]

King Peter may have been killed in the initial clash or the Crusaders may have headed for his standard in the second line during the battle, seeking to kill him. According to one contemporary account, he shouted "I am the king!" but was not heard and was cut down instead. Knowledge of his death contributed to the rout of his army.[7]

Montfort's first two lines pursued the defeated coalition cavalry, while Montfort himself rallied his third line and kept them in reserve in case the pursuers encountered resistance. This proved unnecessary as the fleeing cavalrymen put up no such effort.[8]

Montfort then returned to the besieged Muret. The militia from Toulouse renewed their assault on the city. When they saw the Crusader horsemen returning and learned that King Peter of Aragon was killed[9] they broke and fled their fortified camp toward the Garonne River. They were slaughtered in the rout.[10]

Course of the battle

Aftermath

This would be the last major battle of the Albigensian crusade.[9] During the battle, Saint Dominic prayed the rosary. The victors credited their success to divine intervention.

Notes

  1. ^ a b Marvin 2009, p. 185.
  2. ^ a b Marvin 2009, pp. 186–187.
  3. ^ Marvin 2009, pp. 191.
  4. ^ Marvin 2009, pp. 192.
  5. ^ Also called Murel, Murell, or Morel.
  6. ^ a b c Marvin 2009, p. 188.
  7. ^ a b Marvin 2009, p. 189.
  8. ^ Marvin 2009, pp. 189-190.
  9. ^ a b A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East, Vol. I, ed. Spencer C. Tucker, (ABC-CLIO, 2010), 269.
  10. ^ Marvin 2009, pp. 175-195.

Bibliography

Secondary sources

  • (in Spanish) Martín Alvira-Cabrer, El Jueves de Muret. 12 de Septiembre de 1213, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, 2002. ISBN 84-477-0796-2
  • (in Spanish) Martín Alvira-Cabrer, Muret 1213. La batalla decisiva de la Cruzada contra los Cátaros, Ariel, Barcelona, 2008. ISBN 978-84-344-5255-8
  • Marvin, Laurence W. (2009). The Occitan War: A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209-1218. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521123655. 
  • Jonathan Sumption. The Albigensian Crusade, 2000
  • Hoffman Nickerson, Warfare in the Roman Empire, the Dark and Middle Ages, to 1494 A.D., 1925

Further reading

  • Guillaume de Puylaurens (2003). Silby, W.A.; Silby, M.D., eds. The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens: The Albigensian Crusade and its Aftermath. Suffolk, UK: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 0-85115-925-7. 
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