The Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais) is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1888. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the
English for over a year.
Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, laid siege to Calais and Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip failed to lift the siege and starvation eventually forced the city to parley for surrender. Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out almost naked and wearing nooses around their necks and be carrying the keys to the city and castle.
Their heroism moved the King’s French wife Philippine of Hainault to plead successfully for their pardon. Edward bowed to his wife’s wishes and spared the band of six men and the Calasiens.
What a fantastic sculpture.