IT IS DIFFICULT to imagine a more unlikely candidate for the appellation 'the flower of chivalry' than Bertrand du Guesclin. The phrase conjures up one of the heroes of medieval romance literature. One imagines, for instance, Roland dying heroically in Charlemagne's service as he defends the Pass of Roncevaux against the Saracens, or Lancelot deliberately losing jousts because Guinevere has demanded he do so as proof that his love for her is greater than his prid e in his repu tation, or Galahad, whose faith, purity and perfection lead him to achieve the ultimate glory of finding the Holy Grail.
Bertrand du Guesclin's career was quite different. Born into the Breton petty nobility in or around 1320, he won a certain fame (which some would call notoriety) and an indisputable fortune as one of the most feared mercenary captains of the Hundred Years War. The time-honoured chivalric virtues of defending