French Ancien Régime


French soldier

Born on 1476 in Château Bayard, Pontcharra, France , France

Died on April 30, 1524 in Robecco Sul Naviglio, Italy

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The descendant of a noble family, nearly every head of which for two centuries had fallen in battle, he was born at the Château Bayard, Dauphiné (near Pontcharra, Isère). He served as a page to the young Duke Charles I of Savoy, until March 1490, when the Duke died of illness. Later that year, he took service as a man-at-arms in the household of Louis de Luxembourg, the seigneur de Ligny (November, 1490); a favorite of King Charles VIII. As a youth, he was distinguished for his looks, charming manner, and skill in the tilt-yard. In 1494, he accompanied Charles VIII's expedition into Italy to seize Naples and was knighted after the 1495 Battle of Fornovo, in which he captured a standard. Shortly afterwards, entering Milan alone in pursuit of the enemy, he was taken prisoner, but was set free without a ransom by Ludovico Sforza. In 1502, he was wounded at Canossa.

Bayard was the hero of a celebrated combat of thirteen French knights against an equal number of Spaniards, and his restless energy and valour were conspicuous throughout the Italian wars of this period. On one occasion, it is said that he single-handedly defended the bridge of the Garigliano against 200 Spaniards, an exploit that brought him such renown that Pope Julius II tried unsuccessfully to entice him into his service. In 1508, he distinguished himself again at Louis XII's siege of Genoa, and early in 1509, the king made him captain of a company of horse and foot.


In 1510 Bayard was co-commander of the French contingent sent to the city of Ferrara; to aid the Duke, Alphonso d'Este, against the forces of Venice and the Papacy. During his eight month stay, Bayard won the admiration of the Duke and his infamous wife, the lady Lucrezia Borgia. According to his biographer, "The Loyal Servant" (likely Bayard's archer and life-long secretary, Jacques de Mailles) the chevalier fully returned Lucrezia's admiration; considering her "a pearl" among women. Bayard would return to Ferrara on other occasions to pay his hommage to the lady; once in the company of Gaston de Foix, Duke of Nemours, just months before the Battle of Ravenn, where the Duke lost his life.

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Geographical origins

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