Pierre Du Terrail Bayard, chevalier de, a French knight, born at the chateau de Bayard, in Dauphiny, in 1475, died in Italy, April 30, 1524. He came of a martial family: his great-great-grandfather was killed at Poitiers, his great-grandfather at Crecy, his grandfather at Montlhery, and his father received many wounds in the wars of Louis XI. As page to the duke of Savoy and in the household of Paul of Luxemburg, count de Ligny, he received while young his education in horsemanship, feats of arms, and rules of chivalry. At the age of 18 he entered the service of Charles VIII. and accompanied him in his expedition to Naples in 1494-'o, during which he distinguished himself by capturing a stand of colors in the battle of Fornovo. In the Italian wars of Louis XII. he displayed great courage, especially at the siege of Milan (1499), where in the eagerness of pursuit he was carried by the press of fugitives inside the gates, but was liberated with horse and armor, without ransom, by Ludovico Sforza. On one occasion he alone defended a bridge over the Garigliano against 200 Spaniards until the French army had effected its retreat.
He was wounded in the assault of Brescia, and carried to a house in the town, where in his disabled condition he defended the ladies of the household against the brutality of the soldiery. For this service his hostess prevailed upon him to accept 2,000 pistoles, which ho at once bestowed upon her two daughters as marriage portions. In the war with the English king Henry VIII. at Terouanne and Tournay, Bayard struggled bravely to sustain the failing fortunes of Louis XII. In the "battle of the spurs" at Guinegate, Aug. 16, 1513, he with 14 men-at-arms held the English army in check, while the French, who were retreating panic-Ktricken, reassembled. Bayard with an advance force preceded Francis I. on his expedition into Italy to regain Milan and other conquests of his predecessors; he captured Pros-pero Colonna, who had formed an ambush for the French, and on Sept. 13 and 14, 1515, gained the battle of Marignano, during which he performed such feats of valor that at the close of the contest Francis asked to be knighted by his hands. In 1522, with a force of 1,000 men, he defended the unfortified frontier town of Mezieres for six weeks against the invading army of the count of Nassau, which nninhered 35,000 and was aided by strong artillery.
For this service Bayard received the collar of St. Michael, and was made a commander of 100 men-at-arms - a position until then never held except by princes of the blood royal. In 1524 he was summoned from Dauphiny, over which he had been made lieutenant general, and given a subordinate command in the army of Bonnivet, which Francis I. sent into Italy to act against the constable de Bourbon. Bonnivet was obliged to retreat, and being wounded committed the army to Bayard, who succeeded for a while in checking the enemy. While fighting in a ravine near the banks of the Sesia he was struck by a stone from an arquebuse, taken from his horse, and at his own request left seated against a tree with his face to the advancing enemy, among whom he died after having confessed his sins to his squire. With his fall the battle ended; the French lost standards, ordnance, and baggage, and their retreat became a disorderly flight. Bayard was the last, as he was the best, example of the institution of knight errantry. He lived at a time when the strict laws of chivalry were becoming greatly relaxed, and when knights were assuming the vices as well as the profession of mere soldiers of fortune.
For this reason his loyalty, purity, and scrupulous honor gained for him the more universal admiration, and the titles of "the good knight" and the chevalier sans peur et sans reproche. According to original signatures of his preserved in the national library, Paris, the name should be spelled Bay art.