After Richard Lionheart’s death, Philip II of France set to work at absorbing the Angevin dominions into France. The Rock of Andely was an especially impressive fortress, constructed by Richard, which Philip needed to conquer if he wished to complete his conquests. The fortress was nearly impregnable, but Philip was perfectly willing to starve out the defenders. His recent attacks had driven a large number of noncombatants into the castle, who would help deplete the food stores of the castle. Already, the commander of the castle, de Lacy, had sent out a number of elderly as worthless mouths, and the French had allowed them to pass through unmolested.
When he tried to expel all noncombatants, though, the French fired upon them, in order to keep them from escaping the castle. The men, women, and children now tried to return to the castle and safety, but de Lacy had raised the drawbridge and shut the gates against them. These people now had to survive between two armies for weeks, eating rats and grass, huddling in the moats together for warmth. When the castle released its dogs in order to improve its food situation, these people tore them apart and devoured them. Before long, they resorted even to cannibalism in order to stay alive.
Finally, Philip took pity and gave the order to let them go and give them food, but they had starved for so long that they were now too weak to survive, and almost every one of them died immediately after their first taste of real food in months.