Ruins of the Castle of Ventadour


About 1378 Teste Noire had seized the well-protected fortress of Ventadour, and for the next ten years he plundered or extorted tribute payments from those in surrounding regions. There were other garrisons of castles in the area which practiced the same profitable ‘protection racket,’ and although in the late 1380s most of them agreed to be bought out of their strongholds and withdraw, Geoffray refused. In response, in 1387 the powerful duke of Berry, a co-regent for the young King Charles VI and governor of neighboring Auvergne, sent troops against Ventadour under Sir John Bonne Lance and others (see lines 9-10). Since they could neither capture the highly fortified castle directly nor starve it out (Froissart says that Geoffray had enough stores to hold out for seven years), they blockaded it (lines 13-16). Geoffray nonetheless found ways of slipping past the Duke’s bastides [i.e. small forts or blockhouses] and taking captives for ransom until eventually, probably late in 1388, he suffered a head wound in a skirmish at the barriers outside the castle gate. According to Froissart, although he might otherwise have been cured, his sensual and sexual excesses led to his dying (see lines 186-89) On his deathbed he divided his ill-gotten gains and appointed Alleyne Roux (the Red) (see lines 25), one of his two nephews, to succeed to the command.

For exact citations from Froissart, see Peter Wright, “Historical Notes on ‘Concerning Geffray Teste Noire,’” William Morris Archive,

Associated Place(s)