The Lioness of Brittany: Jeanne de Clisson, and Her Black Fleet
Jeanne De Clisson, the “Lioness of Brittany,” was a fierce and fearless female pirate who terrorized the seas of France and England during the 14th century. Her story is one of revenge, courage, and cunning, and it has inspired countless tales of female empowerment and liberation.
Jeanne was born into a noble family in 1300 in Brittany, France. She lived a comfortable life as a wife and mother until her husband, Olivier III de Clisson, was executed by King Philip VI of France in 1343. The king accused Olivier of conspiring with the English and ordered his public execution by beheading.
She was devastated by her husband’s politically motivated murder and swore revenge against the French king. She sold all her possessions, raised a private army, and started attacking French ships in the English Channel. She became known as the “Black Fleet,” and her ship was painted black to symbolize her mourning and thirst for revenge.
Jeanne’s attacks were brutal and swift. She would capture French ships, kill the crew, and then spare one or two men to tell the tale of her vengeance. She even went as far as to have her ships’ hulls painted red to represent the blood of the French nobles she had killed.
Jeanne’s exploits quickly caught the attention of the English king, Edward III, who was at war with France at the time. Edward offered to support Jeanne in her quest for revenge, and she accepted his help.
Jeanne’s Black Fleet became a formidable force on the seas, and she continued to wreak havoc on French ships. Her most famous attack was against a ship owned by the French Admiral Hugues Quiéret. Jeanne captured the ship, executed the crew, and personally beheaded Quiéret with an axe. She then threw his body overboard, declaring that it was not enough to simply kill him; she wanted to make sure he would never rest in peace.
Jeanne’s reputation as a ruthless and vengeful pirate grew, and she became known as the “Lioness of Brittany.” She was feared by both French and English sailors and was considered one of the most dangerous pirates of her time.
Despite her success, Jeanne’s pirate career was short-lived. In 1356, Edward III signed the Treaty of Bretigny, which ended the war between England and France. Jeanne was left without a cause, and she retired from piracy. She later remarried and lived a quiet life in England until her death in 1359.
Jeanne’s story is a remarkable one, and it has inspired countless tales of female empowerment and liberation. She defied the expectations of her time and became a powerful figure in a male-dominated world. Her bravery, cunning, and thirst for revenge have made her a legendary figure in history.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jeanne De Clisson, there are several great resources available online. The following blog posts provide additional information about her life and adventures:
- The Lioness of Brittany: Jeanne de Clisson, and Her Black Fleet by Isabel Panadero.
- The Incredible Story of a 14th Century French Female Pirate: The Lioness of Brittany, Jeanne de Clisson by Tom Daly.
- The Lioness of Brittany: Jeanne de Clisson, Pirate Queen by Female Pirates Jeanne De Clisson, The Female Pirate Who Vowed Revenge by Daniel Rennie.
Marge is a game designer for Seaport Games. Learn more in the About section of this website.
Pirate Party: Women of the High Seas
Jeanne De Clisson is one of six vibrant, diverse, historic women pirate captains with special powers in this new pirate card game for 2-4 players.
Race to collect sets of cards by suit that include a captain and crew or sets of 3-of-a-kind. Plunder, pillage and raid from other players to take the most pirate booty to win. There’s plenty of adventure, period ships, tresure and mermaid wild cards. Just beware the Kraken!
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