SIR ROBERT KNOLLES
SIR ROBERT KNOLLES (c. 1325 – 15 August 1407)
Sir Robert was an important English knight of the Hundred Years' War, who, operating with the tacit support of the Crown, succeeded in taking the only two major French cities, other than Calais and Poitiers, to fall to Edward III. His methods, however, earned him infamy as a freebooter and a ravager: the ruined gables of burned buildings came to be known as "Knolly's mitres".
Born in Cheshire, Knolles first appears as the captain of several castles throughout Brittany in the mid-
Knolles' finest hours were to come that autumn when he led a Great Company of 2,000–3,000 Anglo-
In 1359 Knolles reached Auxerre, which fell after a two-
At the climax of the Breton War of Succession he participated in John de Montfort's siege of Auray in July 1364, the prelude to John's decisive victory at the Battle of Auray in September. He joined the Black Prince at the Battle of Nájera (Navarrete) of 1367.
In 1370 he was given a large grant of lands and money to raise an army to invade northern France. He landed at Calais in August with 6,000 mounted men and carried out a raid deep into French territory, burning villages on the outskirts of Paris but failing to bring the French King Charles V out to battle. He then turned towards Gascony and began capturing and fortifying castles and churches in the region between the rivers Loir and Loire. However he had to cope with much criticism from his younger subordinate commanders such as Sir John Minsterworth who were spoiling for a fight. When it became known that French armies under the command of Bertrand du Guesclin were closing in on them, Knolles proposed to retreat into Brittany but most of the army refused. He therefore marched away with his own retinue, leaving the bulk of the army where they were, to be comprehensively defeated and slaughtered at the Battle of Pontvallain on 4 December.
Knolles passed the winter in his castle at Derval on the Breton March and afterwards attempted to evacuate his men and those of Minsterworth, who had managed to join him with his surviving troop, from the port of Saint-
He died at his seat in Sculthorpe, Norfolk on 15 August 1407.
He also founded Trinity Hospital, Pontefract and helped to suppress the Peasants' Revolt.
Knolles' coat of arms decorates the postern tower of Bodiam Castle, Sussex. It was a statement of loyalty to Knolles by its builder, Edward Dalyngrigge who served under Knolles in a Free Company during the Hundred Years' War.