A translation of posting # 26 for those whose French is not so good as Serge !
The Story of “Chevalier [Knight] Bayard” (The Fearless Knight Who was Beyond Reproach) Pierre du Terrail, Château deBayard, Isère 1475 - Romagnano Sesia, [District of] Milan, 1524
Pierre du Terrail, known as Seigneur [Lord] Bayard, was one of those historical personages whose exemplary life gave birth to a legend which has crossed the centuries. The perpetuation of these bold accomplishments and of his great bravery was assured by one of his companions in arms, Jacques de Maille, who has recounted his life under the heading “the very joyous, pleasant, and oft-retold history of the Knight Bayard”. The personality and the life of Bayard are entirely contained in the famous phrase “a fearless Knight beyond reproach” which has come down to our time.
His life: The du Terrail family was one of princely nobility which, over five generations, had watched four of its members perish during the Hundred Years’ War. A certain sense of how to live and how to die, plus a keen sense of honour were therefore essential qualities of this family. Pierre du Terrail was born at Grenoble around 1475.
As a young page, he began training himself in tournaments, then from 1494 to 1524, Bayard distinguished himself over a 30-year period on all the fields of battle. He was “an armed marvel” in numerous front-line actions in the Italian campaigns. He participated in the Battle of Fornoue (1494) and in the difficult expedition of (les) Pouilles, before distinguishing himself in a decisive manner in 1504 in the famous defence of the bridge of Garigliano. The favourable attention allowed him to be introduced at court in 1505. In 1507, he forced through the Appenine Pass to Gênes, and tempted fate in 1510 by supporting Pope Jules II. Wounded in 1512 at Brescia, he was picked up by a gentleman whose house he had saved from pillaging, and whose wife he had saved from dishonour. At Marignan in 1515, he “was greatly honoured to accept the Order of Knighhood from his hand”. In 1521, he defended Mézière against German forces. Then his friendship with the Duke of Bourbon made him suspect in the eyes of [those in] power, and he was somewhat side-lined. Bayard was mortally wounded on April 29, 1524 at Romagnano in [the District of] Milan, while in the rear guard he was covering the retreat from the French army. Sensing his end was near, he begged his companions to leave him so they would not be captured by the enemy.
The myth: The admiration which the Chevalier de Bayard engendered both during his lifetime and long after his death can be compared to that which inspired the disciples of Joan of Arc or du Gesclin. Bayard represents the kind of subordinate officer who did not hold [any] noteworthy posts nor [did he become] commander in chief (he had been promised that he merited “the highest post”), but whose historical renown certainly surpasses that of many notable persons whose roles and posts were theoretically more important. The classic image attached to Bayard is that of the “perfect knight” who not only knows how to fight with aplomb, but also how to defend the oppressed, and to oppose the pillaging of conquered towns. In this sense, he is no less than the inheritor of a medieval concept of honour.