Act IV, We fight as one
As the sun went down over Brittany it marked the end of July, and the passage into August. The nation had now been at war for 6 months, and thus far the Bretons had not been broken. In Pierre's camp, located in France the mood was optimistic. As yet the Bretons had not suffered any setbacks, that was about to change.
On the tenth of August, however, Pierre's hopes of a quick end to the war were shattered when he got news from Rennes. During the night of the first of August, just after the siege had lasted for half a year the Danish attempted another attack, this time they were ready for the crossbow and arrow fire, and they formed shield walls which advanced slowly and methodically towards the castle. The Breton militia kept up fire, and for another ten days the attacks went on. On August tenth the last 23 Breton's had rallied in the town center, here they put up a last stand, one of them shouted "Men, we have nothing to fear, we are Bretons, and fight as one!" This became the new rallying cry for the nation. Their brave fight could not save the castle, and on the evening of August tenth, the battle was over.
(The Danish attack on Rennes was immortalized by a famous painter.)
The news did not reach Pierre until the twelfth of August, but he had anticipated it, and on this scorching August day he rallied his army, their half year long wait n French territory was finally over. Pierre rode in front of his men, and said a few words to lighten the mood. "Men, the enemy have just taken the castle at Rennes, they are now on the moving, thinking that they can move on and occupy our entire country, I think we should prove them wrong! One of our men in Rennes immortalized our struggle, as he was about to die, he charged the enemy and yelled to his countrymen, we fight as one! Let us do the same!" As Pierre finished his words echoed through the ranks, the men cheered and the morale was back at the top again, not even Jean le Conquéreur could have done better.
As Pierre's army marched northwest towards Rennes the Danes moved south, they moved quickly along the paved roads towards the central region of Brittany, as the Danes marched they had a chance to forage the ripe fields for some vegetables and fruit, many of them had not eaten a proper meal since leaving their homeland. In late August they reached the walls of Rohan, the regional capital in the province of Morbihan. The Danes were impatient, they did not want to besiege the city for as long as they had to with Rennes. In May they had a force of 16 000 men, now they were 11 000. Their commander decided that attrition was wearing down his army and therefore he had to attack as soon as possible.
(Ripe apples were like a gift from God to the Danes.)
On top of the walls of Rohan 1000 Breton soldiers were ready to receive, these had been militia when the war started, but the commander of the city, commandant Jaque Brne had anticipated that the Danes would move towards Rohan as soon as they were done with Rennes. As a consequence he had improved the fortifications and his men were both well trained and well equipped. Only two days after the Danes began their siege they tried to take the walls by means of assault. Their attacking waves of foot soldiers did not get even close to the walls. Jaque had prepared the fields in front of the walls, and there were obstacles at every turn. After a few days of assaults, the Danes started to whither, Jaque's men fought like lions, at one point ten Danish soldiers had been on top of the gatehouse with a banner, and they were ready to let their countrymen into Rohan, but one Breton soldier had fought his way towards the gatehouse, and had single handedly killed 7 of them, the others had been downed by arrows. On that same day, the assault was called off, the Danes had hundreds of casualties, among them were several knights and nobles. Jaque had also lost a good deal of his men, but he had held firm and had, as Pierre said, "broken the back of the enemy".
(Jaque Brne walking past his soldiers.)
To the north of Rohan, the Breton army crossed back into their own lands, they were greeted with joy by the people of Armor, soldiers got kisses from the local girls and men who knew the region like their own pocket joined the army as guides. On the same day that the Danes reached Rohan, Pierre's army stood outside the shaken walls of Rennes. The Danish garrison, which was only 100 men strong were totally surprised by the sight of thousands of soldiers, at first they thought it was their fellow countrymen who had returned, but when they saw the banners of Brittany they realized that the main Breton army had come back, with a vengeance. Pierre did not waste any time, he ordered his army to attack the castle at once, he outnumbered the enemy fifty to one and no one could beat such odds. After 5 days the siege was over, and Breton banners were once again on top of the walls of Rennes. A city that 5000 Danes had perished to take, was now back in Breton hands for the cost of about 100 dead and wounded. Pierre had won his first land victory over the invaders.
The next day he got more good news, the Breton navy had beaten a Pomeranian naval force in the Quiberon bay. The enemy had a force of four carracks, who acted as escorts for three cogs, these were bringing 3000 men to fight the Danish war in Brittany. In the naval action the Pomeranian navy performed well, and for hours they managed to protect the cogs, their luck ran out in the end. One of the Breton carracks ran the gauntlet and managed to get passed the protective shield of enemy carracks. Once through it sank one of the enemy cogs, before being forced to withdraw. After this incident the Pomeranians withdrew and under the cover of darkness they managed to escape northwards. They had not failed totally, 3000 Pomeranian soldiers were now on Breton soil, and moving towards the Breton capital of Nantes.
When Pierre heard about the Pomeranian landing he immediately broke camp, his army was assembled outside Rennes, and started marching southwards, it was now October and the first year of the war was coming to its end. Pierre avoided the Danish army which besieged Rohan, and instead he moved around them and headed straight for Nantes.
When the Pomeranians landed on the beaches near Nantes they marched slowly inland, enjoying themselves and looting wherever they could, discipline broke down, and the commanders did little to restore order. In early October they had reached Nantes and started to build ladders, they did not know that the entire Breton army was within a week's march.
On a cold October night a Pomeranian guard detail spotted a long line of infantry coming towards them out of a nearby tree line, a hail of flaming arrows rained down upon their camp, and shortly afterwards the Breton infantry shouted their battle cries and came charging towards them. The Pomeranians stumbled out of their tents and struggled to put up arrow fire, they formed a battle line with their infantry. The Bretons ran through the scattered arrow fire and hit the enemy line, the fighting went on for a few hours, but when the Breton cavalry charged the Pomeranians from the rear, they were cut down, the remainder fled, saving their colors. Pierre was satisfied with the victory, he had inflicted about 1200 casualties on the Pomeranians and broken the siege of Nantes, his own losses were about 600 men. Pierre's men could also equip themselves with new swords and armor which they looted from the battlefield.
(The Breton archers fireD volleys of flaming arrows before the infantry went in.)
After the Breton victory there was no new developments, the siege of Rohan continued, but the defenders showed no sign of giving up, Pierre did still not have enough men to attack the main invasion force and thus, nothing happened.
In January Pierre got some good news from Burgundy, The Burgundians had been besieging Trier and Koblenz for about a year now, and they had finally captured both cities, with their country lost to the Burgundians the leaders of Trier decided to negotiate. The Burgundians agreed to end the fighting if Trier would become a vassal of Burgundy, they had no choice but to agree. Within March Luxembourg had also fallen to the Burgundian armies, the tiny state was annexed by the Burgundians, and on March 19. Cologne surrendered as well. They received generous terms, they only had to annul their treaties and pay war reparations of 27 ducats.
Pierre hoped that now that the Burgundians had beaten their enemies in Germany they would come to his aid, he could not have been more wrong.
(Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.)