Norman legends: the mistress of Molay

The Hundred Years’ War (1337 -1453) was a conflict between England and France and French soldiers were fighting on both sides. Jeanne Bacon, mistress of Molay, was married with Guillaume Bertrand who fell in the battle of Mauron 1352.

After the battle of Mauron the lord of Balleroy moved his troops to the castle of Molay. A messenger came to Jeanne Bacon, he told her that her husband fell in battle and about the marching up of the troops of Balleroy.

Jeanne told her people to arm themselves and she put on her armour. The day passed and the enemy didn’t show up. The forest of Plège was located between Balleroy and Molay and the lord of Balleroy was hiding with his men inside the forest. Jeanne feared Balleroy could attack at night and she let her men ignite huge fires on the towers of the castle walls. Thus the castle was encircled by a flaming ring. But no enemy appeared during the night.

Molay, Littry und Balleroy auf einer Karte von César François Cassini de Thury (1714-1784), Lizenz:public domain

Molay, Littry and Balleroy on a map of César François Cassini de Thury (1714-1784), licence:public domain

Jeanne sent scouts, that affirmed that Balleroy was hiding in the forest. She realized, that a siege would tire her men out and that Balleroy would take advantage of that. Jeanne prayed to God for the grace to see her enemies. Suddenly the sky darkened, the air blurred and whole forest of Plège went up and planted himself on the other side of the castle. The soldiers of Balleroy lost their defilade and advanced, after a moment of irritation, towards the castle of Molay.

The battle lasted the whole day, Balleroy and his men surmounted the castle wall, but Jeanne slew his standard bearer with a battle axe. Her men took heart from her deed and they drove the attackers back. Balleroy himself was wounded and fell into the moat, where he drowned. His death demoralized his men, they dropped their weapons and fled. It was a horrible carnage, the blood was spilled on walls, in the court, in the moat and even in the beck of Molay.

The story about the bravery of Jeanne Bacon, about the death of the lord of Balleroy and about the forest that changed it’s place was told in the area for a long time.

Le Molay was incorporated by Littry in 1968. Today it’s called Le Molay-Littry. Jeanne Bacon married again. Jean Ier de Luxembourg-Ligny (1300-1364) was her second husband. Only ruins are left of the old castle of Molay.

Illustration aus der französischen Version des Roman dAlexandre (geschrieben von Alexandre de Bernay im 12. Jahrhundert), Illustration von 1338-44, public domain

illustration (1338-44) of the French version of the Alexander romance (written by Alexandre de Bernay in the 12th century), public domain

Bild 37 aus einer illustrierten Bibel aus dem 14. Jahrhundert, Quelle:, Lizenz: public domain

image 37 of an illustrated Bible (14th century), the knights are wearing typical armour, source:, licence: public domain

Website of Le Molay-Littry and the intercom Balleroy-Molay-Littry:

Les Légendes Normandes, by Louis Bascan, a collection of Norman legends of older sources, reprint of 1929, published by “les Editions du Bastion”, 1999, ISBN=2745500503, page 140-145, (French)


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