18 facts about Rodrigo de Villandrando

Rodrigo de Villandrando (died c. 1457) was a Spanish routier from Castile and mercenary military leader in Gascony during the unlimited phase of the Hundred Years’ War. He was well-known for his pillaging and was therefore known as the Emperor of Pillagers (empereur des brigands) or L’Écorcheur (the slaughterer).

Originally from Biscay, he was the son of Pedro de Villandrando and Agnes de Corral. He became attach of Ribaldo and Valladolid. Around 1410 he arrived in France and was admitted into the company of Amaury de Séverac. He rose to become captain of the routiers, veritable mercenaries in the pay of the seneschal or various other powerful lords and even bishops. When his protector Amaury died in 1427, he entered the serve of Charles VII of France. In 1428 he was joined by Juan Salazar, who became his lieutenant. In his to come career he is known to have pillaged Treignac, Meymac, and Tulle.

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On 11 June 1430 he participated in the Battle of Anthon with in the region of 400 men armed later than such prosaic devices as billhooks, sledge hammers, and spades. He participated on the side of the French king neighboring Louis II of Chalon-Arlay, Prince of Orange and a vassal of Philip the Good.

In 1431 he was rewarded by John II of Aragon similar to the county of Ribadeo and the right to eat at his table with a year. That thesame year he pillaged Saint-Clément-de-Régnat and was employed by the French to put down a peasant rebellion, which he did by massacring the refugees at Saint-Romain-le-Puy. In September 1432 his routiers, in the pay of Georges de la Trémoille, held Les Ponts-de-Cé against the assaults of Jean V de Bueil. Around 1433, at the summit of his power, he had on 10,000 mercenaries, mostly Englishmen called Rodrigoys, under his command and he was the alarm bell of the countryside of the Médoc, where his men habitually held the petty lords of the region for ransom and forced protection money from the populace; they were each time pillaging and ransacking the bastides. In 1433 he took the castle of Lagarde Viaur and held it for a very high ransom. In the late 1430s he pillaged Bor-et-Bar, Salers, and Laparade.

On 24 May 1433 he married Margaret, the half-sister of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and illegitimate daughter of Duke John I. For 6,000 écus he bought the castles of Ussel and later Châteldon from his brother-in-law. Between 1434 and 1439 he was taking into account installed in the fortress of Montgilbert.

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In 1436 his men pillaged Cordes; in 1438 Lauzun, Fumel, Issigeac, and Blanquefort were hit. In 1437 his men belligerently despoiled the furriers of Charles VII at Hérisson. In 1438 he joined French forces below Charles II of Albret and Poton de Xaintrailles and embarked upon a chevauchée in the Bordelais and Médoc. They were stopped without help by the walls of Bordeaux itself.

In 1440 he fought behind Charles of Bourbon adjacent to Charles VII in the revolt known as the Praguerie. In 1441 Changy and Pavie were pillaged by his men. In 1442 he anew had the preserve of the French king for the depredation of northern Gascony. Later that year he and Albret threatened Bazas.

In 1443 a party of his men on the command of Salazar returned to Spain, plundering upper Languedoc and the Lauragais upon the way. Banned thenceforward from the realm, Rodrigo returned to Spain, where he was made marshal of Castile. He willed his worldly goods to the church of Castile and retired from the world to a monastery, where he died sometime going on for 1457.

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