This image, created by the French artist Henri-Louis Dupray (c. 1841-1909), depicts the surrender of King John II of France to the forces of Edward “the Black Prince” of England at the Battle of Poitiers on September 19, 1356. Dupray’s illustration closely follows the account of the chronicler, Jean Froissart (c. 1337-1410), who wrote of how the English troops struggled amongst themselves to be the first to capture the French king and the king’s son, Philip, who was also present at the battle. Amid the cacophony of Englishmen shouting “surrender” in poorly-pronounced French, one of the voices (speaking the king’s language perfectly) stood out to King John II—this eloquent knight is likely the man Henri-Louis Dupray depicted in the center of the image, with his arm outstretched toward King John and Prince Philip. Jean Froissart described the scene:
“’Who are you?’ the King asked. ‘Sire, I am Denis de Morbecque, a knight from Artois. But I serve the King of England because I have been exiled from France and have forfeited all my possessions.’ Then, as I [Jean Froissart] was informed, the King answered, or probably answered: ‘I surrender to you’, and gave him his right-hand glove” (Chronicles, Book One, Penguin translation pg. 141).
Despite the king’s submittal to Sir Denis de Morbecque, the squabbles among the Englishmen about who would claim credit for the capture did not abate until the Black Prince sent trusted aides to the scene to ensure the king and his son were treated with respect.
Written by C. Keith Hansley.
- Chronicles of Jean Froissart, translated by Geoffrey Brereton. London: Penguin Classics, 1968, 1978.
- The Chronicles of Froissart, translated by Lord Berners, in Chronicle and Romance: Froissart, Malory, Holinshed, edited by Charles W. Eliot in the Harvard Classics series. New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910, 1938.