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From Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, by Sir John Froissart, Translated from the French Editions with Variations and Additions from Many Celebrated MSS, by Thomas Johnes, Esq; London: William Smith, 1848. pp. 398-411.
YOU have heard how much the prince of Wales was offended by the summons which had been served on him to appear at the court of the parliament in Paris. It was fully his intention to perform the answer he had given to the commissioners from the king, namely, that in the course of the summer he would come and take his seat, and personally appear at the feast of the lendit.† He therefore sent orders to those captains of English and Gascon companies who were attached to him, and in quarters upon the banks of the Loire, not to march to any great distance from that river, for he should shortly have occasion for them, and would find them employment. The greater part of these companies were much rejoiced at the news. The prince would not have failed in his intentions, but that his illness and the swelling daily increased (which had been caused by his expedition into Spain): so that his attendants were very much alarmed at it, for he could not at this moment mount his horse. The king of France had received accurate information of all this, and had been furnished with the statement of his case drawn up in writing; from which the physicians and surgeons of France judged that he had a confirmed dropsy, and declared him unable ever to recover.
As soon as the capture of sir Caponnel de Caponnal and the man of law was publicly known, who, as it has been before said, were arrested by sir William le Moine, and carried prisoners to Agen, the earl of Comminges, the earl of Perigord, the viscount of Carmaing, sir Bertrand Taude, the lord de la Barde, the lord de Pincornet, and many more knights and squires who resided on their estates and lordships, were very much offended at this measure; since for them, and upon their account, had they undertaken this commission. They determined to have revenge for this violence, and to begin the war in their own country, by making prisoners some of those attached to the party of the prince. They had information that sir Thomas Wake was on his road to Rhodez, to examine the strength of the castle; that he was at Villeneuve d’Agénois, from whence he was to be escorted by only sixty lances.
When these knights heard this news, they were in high spirits, and resolved to lay an ambuscade for sir Thomas, consisting of three hundred lances; so that about two leagues from Montauban, as the high steward was continuing his route with sixty lances and two hundred archers, they were attacked by this large ambuscade of Gascons. The English were very much surprised: for they, not suspecting such an attack, were quite unprepared for it: however, they began to exert themselves stoutly in self-defence; but the Gascons, who had formed their plan at leisure, were too many for them, and at the first shock numbers were dismounted: the English, not being able to resist the violence of the Gascons of Perigord, Comminges and Carmaing, were thrown into disorder, and, being defeated without much resistance, turned their backs. Many were taken and slain. Sir Thomas was obliged himself to fly, otherwise he would have been made prisoner; and he owed his safety to the fleetness of his horse, which carried him to Montauban. The Gascons and others returned to their own country, carrying with them their prisoners and booty.
News was very soon brought to the prince of Wales, who at that time resided at Angoulême, how his high steward of Rouergue had been defeated by the earl of Perigord, and by those other noblemen who had summoned him by appeal to the chamber of peers at Paris. Much enraged was the prince, when it was told him: he said, he would have a severe and early revenge for this, upon the persons and lordships where this outrage had been 399 committed. He wrote directly to sir John Chandos, who had retired to his estate at St. Sauveur le Vicomte in Coutantin, ordering him to come to him, without delay, as soon as he should have received his letter.
Sir John Chandos, desirous of obeying the prince, made all possible haste, and came to Angoulême to the prince, who received him with great joy. Soon after, the prince sent him to Montauban, with a large body of men at arms and archers, to make war upon the Gascons and French, who were every day increasing in numbers, making incursions upon the territories of the prince. Sir Thomas Wake collected his scattered men as well as he could, and went to Rhodez, which he amply reinforced and re-victualled, as well as the castle of Milhaud upon the confines of Montpelier; and in every place he put men at arms and archers.
Sir John Chandos made the town of Montauban his head-quarters, and gallantly defended the frontiers against the Gascons and French, with the other knights whom the prince of Wales had sent thither; such as, the captal de Buch, the two brothers de Pommiers, sir John and sir Helie, the souldich de l’Estrade, the lord of Partenay, the lord of Pons, sir Louis de Harcourt, the lord de Pinaine, the lord de Tannaybouton and sir Richard de Pontchardon. These knights, with their companies, made frequent attacks upon the forces of the earl of Armagnac, the lord d’Albret, the earls of Perigord and Comminges, the viscounts of Carmaing and of Tharide, the lord de la Barde, and several other barons and knights of the same connexion, who, with their companies, were upon this frontier. Sometimes one side was victorious, sometimes the other, as in war such things commonly happen.
The duke of Anjou remained very quiet, and made not the smallest movement, notwithstanding the rumours he heard; for the king of France had strictly ordered him not to make war upon the prince of Wales, nor on his subjects, until he should receive from him positive orders for so doing.
* The earls of Carmaing have since taken the name of Foix, by an alliance with an heiress of this name, who brought to them the county of Foix, in the 14th century. The earls of Perigord bear to this day the same name; they are likewise known under those of princes of Chalais, earls of Perigord, or earls of Talleyrand, which is the primitive name of their house. M. de Talleyrand de Perigord was bishop of Autun, of which office he divested himself, when, in the course of the revolutionary furor, episcopacy became unpopular, and is now minister for foreign affairs to the republic of France, 1803. — [Prince Talleyrand has within these few days (May, 1838) departed this life, after reconciling himself to the church of Rome. — ED.]
† Lendit, — a great fair kept (in a field near St. Denis) from the second Wednesday in June until Midsummer eve — whence lendits, — gate-money, fairings, or yearly presents, bestowed by the scholars of the university, especially those of Paris, on their tutors. — Cotgrave.
THE king of France, all this time, was secretly and ably gaining over several of the captains of the free companies, and others attached to the party of the English, who had ascended the river Loire, and were on the confines of Berry and Auvergne, where the king of France had given his permission for them to reside. Not one of the companies of France was in motion; for the king did not wish that his name should yet be made use of in this war, lest it might do his affairs harm; and lest he should lose the county of Ponthieu, which he was very anxious to regain.
Had the king of England perceived that the king of France had intended war, he would easily have prevented the loss of Ponthieu by reinforcing the garrisons of Abbeville with English, and others attached to him; so that he would have been master of the whole country; and in the like manner would he have done to all the other garrisons dependent on that county. The king of England had at this time, for high steward of Ponthieu, a good English knight called sir Nicholas Louvain, in whom the king had great confidence, and with justice; for, sooner than commit any cowardly or unworthy deed, he would have had his limbs torn from him.
At this period, the king of France sent to England the earl of Saltzburg and sir William des Dormans, to remonstrate with the king and his council, and to complain that part of the country of France had been, and still was, much harassed, as well by the daily incursions of the free companies, who had for these last six years made war upon France, as by other oppressors, of which the king of France and his council had had information, and were very ill satisfied that the king of England and his eldest son the prince of Wales should act in such a manner as to countenance them. These two personages remained in England for the space of two months: and during this time, they proposed various agreements and reasons to the king, which made him frequently out of humour and in a passion; but they did not pay much attention to this, for they had received instructions from the king of France and his council how to act and what to say.400
When the king of France had received such information as he could depend on, that the inhabitants of Abbeville were in their hearts Frenchmen; that the war was begun in Gascony; that all the men at arms in the kingdom of France were prepared, and eager to wage war upon the prince of Wales and to enter his territories; he was anxious that no reproach might be cast on him, either at the present moment, or in times to come, for having ordered an army into the territories of the king of England, or the prince of Wales, to take cities, castles, towns or fortresses, without having sent them a challenge: he therefore resolved to defy the king of England; which he did by sealed letters. One of his valets, who was from Brittany, carried them. He met at Dover the earl of Saltzburg and sir William des Dormans, who were returning from England to France, having accomplished the business they had been sent on. The Breton, according to the orders he had received, told them what he was going about; which they no sooner heard than they set off as quickly as possible, and crossed the sea. They were very happy when they found themselves in the town and fortress of Boulogne.
About this time, sir Guiscard d’Angle, marshal of Aquitaine, had been sent by the prince of Wales to pope Urban V. at Rome, on affairs relating to Aquitaine. He had found the pope very polite in complying with the requests he had to make to him. On his return, he first heard the news of war being made on the prince, and that the French had entered the principality. he was very much surprised at this, and dubious how he should be able to continue his journey. He went, however, to the gallant earl of Savoy, whom he found at the town of Pignerol, in Piedmont, engaged in war with the marquis de Saluces. The earl of Savoy received sir Guiscard and his company with great pleasure: he entertained them for two days with much magnificence, and presented them with handsome gifts, particularly sir Guiscard, who had the larger share: for the gallant earl respected him greatly, on account of his hardy knighthood.
When sir Guiscard and his companion had left the earl of Savoy, the nearer they approached the boundaries of France and Burgundy the worse news they heard, and more disagreeable to their feelings. Sir Guiscard having well considered all the information he could gain, saw that it would be impossible for him to return to Guyenne in the state he travelled. He therefore delayed as much as he could, and gave the command of his whole army and attendants to a knight called sir John Shore, who had married his daughter. Sir John came from Brittany, and spoke very good French: he took the command of all the attendants and baggage of his father-in-law: when coming to the estate of the lord of Beaujeu, he crossed the rive Saône, and became so well acquainted with the lord of Beaujeu that he conducted him and his whole company to Rion in Auvergne, to the duke of Berry: he there offered to become a true Frenchman, proved he were suffered to return peaceably to his house in Brittany, as it had before been settled between him and the lord of Beaujeu.
In the meantime, sir Guiscard, under the disguise of a poor chaplain, ill mounted and badly equipped, passed through France, Burgundy, and Auvergne, and with great difficulty entered the principality. On his arrival at Angoulême, he was heartily received by the prince of Wales. Another knight, whose name was sir William de Sens, who had accompanied him on this embassy to Rome, took refuge in the abbey of Clugny in Burgundy, from whence he never stirred for five years, and at last turned Frenchman.
We will now return to the Breton who was the bearer of the challenge from Charles king of France to Edward king of England.
THE valet before mentioned made haste to London, as he had heard the king of England and his council were assembled at the palace of Westminster. The king had for some time held various councils upon the state of the prince’s affairs, who was at war with the barons and knights of Gascony, to examine into the best means of assisting him, and to consider 401 whom he should send from England to the prince’s aid. He soon heard other news, which troubled him more than before; for the valet who was the bearer of these letters managed so as to enter the chamber where the king and his council were sitting. He said he was a valet belonging to the household of the king of France, and had been sent by that king with letters addressed to the king of England, but was ignorant what were their contents, nor did it belong to him to know. He presented them on his knees to the king; who, being desirous to know what might be their subject, ordered them to be taken, opened, and read. The king and all those with him were very much surprised when they heard the challenge they contained. They examined them very carefully every way, as well as the seal, and clearly saw that the challenge was good. They ordered the valet to withdraw, telling him he had done his business well, and that he might boldly set out on his return, for he would not meet with any obstacle to his doing so, as indeed he did not: he therefore went back to France as speedily as possible.
The earl dauphin of Auvergne, the earl of Porcien, the lord de Maulevrier, and several others at this time in England, as hostages for the king of France, were in the greatest anxiety on hearing the above intelligence; for they were doubtful of the intentions of the king of England and his council, and what they meant to do to them.
It is proper to be known that the king and his council were greatly offended that this challenge should have been brought by a valet: they said it was not decent that a war between two such great lords as the kings of France and of England should be announced and declared by a common servant; that it would not have been unworthy of a prelate, or of a valiant baron or knight, to have been the bearer of such a declaration; however, nothing more was done.
In this council, the king was advised to send directly reinforcements of men at arms to Ponthieu, to guard that country, more particularly to Abbeville, which ran much risk of being taken. The king approved of this, and ordered the lord Percy, the lord Neville, the lord Carbestone* and sir William Windsor on this business, with three hundred men at arms and one thousand archers.
While these lords were making their preparations, and were already as far advanced on their road as Dover, to cross the sea, other news was brought which did not please them much. For as soon as the earl Guy de St. Pol and sir Hugh de Châtillon, who was at that time master of the cross-bows of France, could suppose that the king of England had received the defiance, they advanced towards Ponthieu, having before sent privately their summons to the knights and squires of Hainault, Artois, Cambresis, Vermandois, Vimeu, and Picardy; so that their whole force amounted to not less than a hundred and twenty lances, with which they appeared before Abbeville . The gates were immediately opened, as had before been privately concerted; and these men at arms entered the town without doing any harm to the inhabitants.
Sir Hugh de Châtillon, who was the leader of this expedition, marched to that part of the town where he thought he should find the high steward of Ponthieu, sir Nicholas Louvain, and exerted himself so effectually as to make him his prisoner, as well as a very rich clerk and valiant man who was treasurer of Ponthieu. The French made this day many a good and rich prisoner; for the English lost everything they had in the town. On the same day the French advanced to St. Valery, which they took by storm; they did the same to Crotoy†, as well as to the town of Derne‡ upon the sea.
Shortly after, the earl of St. Pol went to Pont de St. Remy on the Somme, where some English were collected. The earl ordered them to be attacked. There was a grand skirmish, with many valorous deeds of arms. His eldest son, Galeran, was created a knight, and did honour to his new knighthood. The English were so roughly handled, that they were either slain or made prisoners, and the bridge and fort conquered by the French. In short, the whole territory and county of Ponthieu were freed from the English, so that none remained who could any way do mischief.
News was brought to the king of England, who was at London, how those of Ponthieu had 402 deserted him, and turned to the French. The king was much enraged at this, and at first had intentions of severely retaliating upon those of the hostages who were still in London; but he thought it would be cruel to make them answer for his ill fortune. Nevertheless, he sent all the citizens who had been given as hostages from the cities and principal towns of France, to other towns, castles, and forts in his kingdom, and did not allow them the same liberty they had before enjoyed. He ransomed the earl dauphin d’Auvergne for thirty thousand francs, and the earl of Porcien for ten thousand. The lord de Roye, however, remained in prison, in great peril; for, as he was not in any favour at the court of England, he was obliged to endure much ill treatment, until delivered by accident and great good fortune, as you will hear in the continuance of this history.
* Barnes says, lord Henry Percy, lord William Neville, and lord William Windsor, and one lord more, but does not name him.
† Crotoy, — a town opposite to St. Valery, on the Somme.
‡ “Derne.” No such place. Q. if not Rue, which is a small town on the coast, two miles from St. Valery?
WHEN the king of England thus saw himself defied by the king of France; the county of Ponthieu lost, after having cost him such sums in the reparation of towns, castles, and houses (for he had expended one hundred thousand francs in addition to the revenues he drew from it;) he was in a mighty passion. He had, however, more fears of a war from Scotland than from France: he knew the Scots did not love him, for the great mischiefs he had done them in former times. He therefore sent large detachments of men at arms to Berwick, Roxburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and to the whole border, to guard it. He also ordered detachments to Southampton, Guernsey, and to the island of Blisso*; for he had procured information that the king of France was making great preparations, and collecting a number of ships, in order to invade England. He did not know what part to guard the most; and, to speak truth, the English were very much alarmed.
As soon as the dukes of Berry and of Anjou were certain that the challenge had been delivered, and war declared, being unwilling to remain idle, they issued their special orders; one in Auvergne, the other at Toulouse; for their vassals to enter the principality. The duke of Berry had under his command all the barons of Auvergne, of the bishoprics of Lyons and Mâon, the lords de Beaujeu, de Villars, de Tournon, sir Godfrey de Boulogne, his brother-in-law John d’Armagnac, sir John de Villemur, the lords de Montagu and de Talencon, sir Hugh Dauphin, the lord de Rochefort, and several more. These men at arms immediately advanced to Touraine, and to the borders of Berry, from whence they carried the war into the fine country of Poitou; but they found it well filled with knights and squires, who did not permit them to gain much advantage.
Sir Louis de St. Julian, sir William des Bourdes, and Carnet le Breton, were at that time in garrison in the French castles of Touraine. These three were great captains, brothers in arms: they performed many gallant deeds, and did much harm to the English, as will hereafter be more fully related.
* “Blisso.” Q. of Wight. Lord Berners says the Isle of Wight. — ED.
THE duke of Lancaster possessed, as part of his inheritance in Champagne, a castle situated between Troyes and Châlons; called Beaufort; of which an English squire, named the Poursuivant d’Amour* was the captain. When this squire perceived that the war was 403 renewed between the kings of France and England, he turned to the king of France, and swore to him faith and loyalty from this time forth, as a good Frenchman. The king for this enriched him greatly, and left this castle under hic care, in conjunction with another squire called Yvain†. The poursuivant and Yvain were great friends. They performed many feats of arms against the English, and against their partisans.
The canon de Robesart, who had before been a loyal and good Frenchmen, on the renewal of the war turned to the English, and became the liege man of the king of England, who was well satisfied with his services. In this manner, several knights and squires changed their party. The duke of Anjou had been so active among the free companies of Gascony that sir Perducas d’Albret, le petit Mechin, le bourg de Breteuil, Aimemon d’Ortige, Perrot de Savoye, Jacquet de Bray and Arnaudon de Pans, turned Frenchmen; which much displeased the English, as their forces were greatly weakened by it. Naudon de Bagerant, le bourg de l’Esparre and le bourg Camus, remained steady to the English; as well as the most approved captains among them, such as sir Robert Briquet, Robert Thin, John Tresnelle, Gaillard de Motte, and Aimery de Rochechouart. These companies of English and Gascons, with their followers, fixed their quarters in the bishopric of Mans in lower Normandy; where they took a town called Vire‡, and destroyed and ruined all the neighbouring country. Thus these free companies changed their sides; but all of them were engaged for the French or English.
The king of England determined to send his son, Edmund of Langley earl of Cambridge, and his son-in-law, John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, to the assistance of the prince of Wales in the duchy of Aquitaine, with the command of a body of men at arms and cross-bowmen. He also named such as he thought right to send with them; and in the number were, the lord Braddeston§, sir Bryan Stapleton, sir John Trivet, sir Thomas Banaster and divers others. They embarked as speedily as they could, and put to sea, having with them four hundred men at arms and as many archers. They steered their course for Brittany; and, having a wind to their wish, they landed at the port of St. Malo. When John de Montfort, duke of Brittany, was informed of their arrival, he was much rejoiced, and immediately sent some of his knights to receive and entertain them; namely, sir John de Laigniguay and sir John Augustin. The earls of Cambridge and Pembroke were well pleased on seeing these knights: but they were not perfectly assured if the barons and principal towns of Brittany would permit them to pass through the country, in their way to Poitou. The English lords, therefore, made this their request to the duke and to the country. The duke, being very partial to the English, complied directly with their wishes, and acted so efficaciously with the barons and principal towns, that it was agreed they should pass through the country in a peaceable manner, upon paying for whatever they might have occasion to use: to which terms the English joyfully assented.
The earls of Cambridge and Pembroke prepared to march with their army to join those free companies who were in the province of Maine, and Château Gontier¶; where they had destroyed and pillaged the whole country; declaring their intentions to advance farther into the interior of the kingdom. The Bretons entered into treaty with them; and 404 it was agreed that they should have liberty to pass through that country, by crossing the river Loire at the bridge of Nantes, engaging not to do any mischief on their march.
At this time, sir Hugh Calverley was on the borders of Arragon, with a large body of the free companies, who had lately quitted Spain. As soon as he heard that the French were making war upon the prince, he set off with all the men at arms of the companies, passed through Arragon and Foix, entered Bigorre, and hastened until he came to the prince, who at that time held his court in the city of Angoulême. When the prince saw him arrive, he gave him a handsome reception, and thanked him much for the assistance he had brought. He prevailed with him to be his guest until the companies which had left Normandy (having first sold those fortresses which they held there) were come; for the Bretons allowed them to pass through their country, provided they behaved themselves well. As soon as they were arrived at Angoulême and in that neighbourhood, the prince appointed sir Hugh Calverley to be their captain. They were in the whole, including those who had come with them from Arragon, two thousand fighting men. The prince immediately ordered them to march to the estates of the earl of Armagnac and the lord d’Albret, to burn and destroy them. In consequence of this order, they made a very disastrous war, and did great damages.
* Poursuivant d’Amour, was a title that knights and squires gave themselves, on account of their wearing the portrait or colours of their mistresses, and challenging each other to fight in honour of their ladies. Barnes calls him Percival Damorie, but I do not see on what foundation: it seems to me to be a corruption of Poursuivant d’Amour.
“The duke of Lancaster at this same time lost his castle of Beaufort, between Troyes and Châlons. He had intrusted this place to the guard of Evan of Wales. This Evan was called le Poursuivant d’Amour. He was the son of Edmund, the last of the ancient sovereigns of Wales, who had been beheaded by Edward. He had been brought up at the court of Philip de Valois, as page of honour to his chamber, and made his first campaign under king John. At the peace, the duke of Lancaster, who was probably ignorant of his birth, made him governor of his castle of Beaufort. Being naturally an enemy to the English, he eagerly seized this opportunity of revenging himself for the ancient injuries of his house. The king of France accepted his offers of service, and gave him the command of some ships, with which he made incursions on the English coasts.“ — Hist. de France, par Villaret, tome v. p. 396.
There must be some mistake in the preceding account from Villaret, for Wales was finally conquered by Edward I. in 1283, by the defeat of Llewelin, and the disgraceful manner in which Edward murdered his brother David. The surrender of the castle of Beaufort happened nearly one hundred years afterwards, so that Evan could not have been a son of one of our last sovereigns.
† It seems probably that this chevalier was the Welshman mentioned in the foregoing note, and that the Poursuivant was a totally different person. Who Evan really was it is not easy to discover. — ED.
‡ Vire, — a town in Normandy, on the river Vire, diocese of Bayeux.
§ In Froissart, it is “le sire de Tarbestonne,” which I think must be Braddeston. See Dugdale’s Baronage.
¶ Château Gontier, — a town in Anjou, diocese of Angers.
THE earls of Cambridge and Pembroke remained at St. Malo with their troops, as has been before said, until all the free companies of their party had come through the country with the assent of the duke of Brittany. When they had sufficiently recruited themselves, and had permission to march, they set out from St. Malo, and by easy days’ journeys arrived at Nantes, where the duke received these lords most honourably, and kept them with him for three days, which were spent in magnificent feasts. On the fourth day they crossed the great river Loire over the bridge at Nantes, and then continued their march until they came to Angoulême, where they found the prince and princess. The prince was much rejoiced at the arrival of his brother the earl of Cambridge and the earl of Pembroke. He inquired after the healths of the king his father, the queen, and his other brothers: to which questions he received satisfactory answers. After they had remained with him three days, and had refreshed themselves, the prince ordered them to set out from Angoulême, to make an excursion into the country of Perigord.
The two lords and the knights who had come with them from England instantly made preparations to provide themselves with every thing that might be necessary. Having taken leave of the prince, they marched off in grand array. They were, in the whole, full three thousand combatants: among these were several knights and squires from Poitou, Saintonge, Limousin, Quercy and Rouergue, whom the prince ordered to accompany them. These lords and men at arms entered hostilely the country of Perigord, which they overran, and did much mischief to tit. When they had burnt and destroyed the greater part, they laid siege to a fortress called Bordeilles*, of which two squires of Gascony were governors: they were brothers, named Ernaldon and Bernardel de Batefol. There were in this garrison of Bordeilles, with the two captains, a number of men at arms, whom the earl of Perigord had sent thither. It was also amply provided with artillery, wine, provision and everything else that might be necessary to hold out for a considerable time; and those in garrison were well inclined to defend it: so that during the siege of Bordeilles many gallant deeds of arms, many a skirmish and many an assault, were daily performed. The two before-mentioned squires were bold, proud and enterprising: they little loved the English, and in consequence advanced frequently to their barriers to skirmish with them. Sometimes one side conquered, sometimes the other, as it happens in such adventures and deeds of arms.405
On the other hand, there were full one thousand combatants, French, Burgundians, Bretons, Picards, Normans and Angevins, in Poitou, and on the borders of Anjou and Touraine, who were overrunning the lands of the prince of Wales, and daily committing great devastations. The leaders of these men at arms were, sir John de Bueil, sir William de Bourdes, sir Louis de St. Julian and Carnet le Breton.
In order to oppose this force, some knights and squires of the prince, in particular sir Simon Burley and the earl of Angus, were quartered on the borders of Poitou and Saintonge: buy they were scarcely a fourth part of the strength of the French. Whenever the French made any excursions, they amounted always to a thousand fighting men: whereas the English were never more, at the utmost, than two or three hundred; for the prince had sent off three very large detachments, — one to Montauban, of five hundred men at arms, under sir John Chandos, to ravage the lads of the earl d’Armagnac and the lord d’Albret, — another of considerable numbers, under sir Hugh Calverley, — and the largest division under the command of his brother, the earl of Cambridge, before Bordeilles. Notwithstanding this, those who were in Poitou did not fail to acquit themselves gallantly, and to do their duty in making excursions on the lands of France, and in guarding their own. The English, with their partisans, have always acted in this manner, and have never refused nor dreaded the combat because thy were not in greater numbers.
It happened then one day, that the French had gained exact information how the English had taken the field and were out on an excursion, which gave them such spirits that they collected all their forces, and placed themselves in ambuscade, to fall upon the English as they returned from the inroad which they had made between Mirebeau† & and Lusignan‡. It was on a broken causeway that the French, to the amount of five hundred men, commanded by the before-mentioned captains, sir John de Bueil, sir William des Bourdes, sir Louis de St. Julien, and Carnet le Breton, advanced to attack them. A sharp engagement ensued, when many were unhorsed; for the English defended themselves bravely, and fought gallantly as long as it lasted. Many valorous actions were performed. Sir Simon Burley and the earl of Angus proved themselves good knights: but in the end they had the disadvantage, for they were only a handful of men when compared with the French. They were therefore defeated, and compelled to fly. The earl saved himself as well as he could, and gained the castle of Lusignan; but sir Simon Burley was so closely pursued, and surrounded on the broken causeway near Lusignan, that he was made prisoner by the French: most of his people being killed or taken, for very few escaped.
The French returned to their garrisons rejoiced at the issue of this adventure, as was also the king of France when he heard it. Not so the prince of Wales, who was much vexed, and bitterly lamented the capture of his good knight sir Simon Burley, whom he loved well, as indeed he had reason; for, to say the truth, he was a most expert man at arms for his time, very courageous, and had always carried himself valiantly for his lord the king of England and his country. His companions who had been slain or made prisoners on the causeway had behaved equally well; for whose loss the prince was in great sorrow, and much enraged. It is a common saying, that one man is worth a hundred, and that a hundred is not worth one man; for in truth, it happens sometimes, that by the good conduct and courage of one man, a whole country is preserved, whilst another person may totally ruin and destroy it. Thus things frequently fall out.
* Bordeilles, — a town in Perigord, diocese of Perigueux.
† “Mirebeau,” — a town in Poitou.
‡ “Lusignan,” — a town in Poitou, seven leagues from Poitiers.
AFTER this defeat, which happened, as has been related, between Mirebeau and Lusignan, the English and Poitevins, when they made any excursion, acted with greater prudence and 406 kept more together. We will now speak of sir John Chandos, sir Guiscard d’Angle **, and others who were in Montauban, seven leagues distant from Toulouse, and who had made frequent sallies from that place very much to their honour. However, whilst they were there, they thought they could employ their time more profitably than in guarding the frontiers, and in consequence determined to lay siege to Terrières in the Toulousin. They made therefore every necessary preparation, and, marching form Montauban in grand array, came to Terrières. The whole army being arrived, it was surrounded closely; for they depended on gaining it by means of mines, as it could not easily be taken by assault. Their miners were set to work, who laboured so well that at the end of fifteen days the took the town; all who were in it were killed, and the place pillaged and destroyed. In this excursion, they had intended to take another town, three leagues from Toulouse, called Laval, and had placed an ambuscade in a wood near the place. They advanced with about forty men, armed, but dressed in peasants’ clothes. They were, however, disappointed by a country boy, who, following their footsteps, discovered their intentions; by which means they failed, and returned to Montauban.
The earl of Perigord, the earl de Comminges, the earl de l’Isle, the viscount de Carmaing, the viscount de Brunikel, the viscount de Talar, the viscount de Murendon, the viscount de Laustre, sir Bertrand de Tharide, the lord de la Barde, the lord de Pincornet, sir Perducas d’Albret, the little Mechin, the bourg de Breteuil, Aimemon d’Ortige, Jacquet de Bray, Perrot de Savoye, and Arnaudon de Pans, took the field about this period. There were among these free companies full ten thousand fighting men. By orders of the duke of Anjou, who at that time resided in Toulouse, they entered Quercy in great force, where they brought on much tribulation by burning and destroying the whole country. They advanced to Rélville, wherein they besieged the high steward of Quercy, who had before provided it with everything necessary for the defence of a town, and with good English soldiers, who had resolved never to surrender but with their lives: notwithstanding the inhabitants were well inclined to the French.
During the time these knights and barons of France were besieging this town, they sent to Toulouse for four great engines, which were immediately brought thither. They were pointed against the walls of Rélville, into which they flung night and day large stones and pieces of timber that did much mischief and weakened it. They had also miners with them, whom they set to work, and who boasted that in a short time they would take the town. The English, however, behaved like good and brave men, supported each other, and in appearance held these miners very cheap.
* “Rélville,” — a town of Quercy, on the river Aveyron, about two leagues from Montauban.
† Sir Guiscard d’Angle was created a peer, by the title of earl of Huntingdon, 1st Ric. II. He was also a knight of the Garter, which dignity he received for having been instrumental to the marriage of the duke of Lancaster with a daughter of don Pedro of Castile.
WHILST the French men at arms were thus quartering themselves in Quercy, and upon the borders of Limousin and Auvergne, the duke of Berry was in another part of this last province, where he had a large body of men at arms, under sir John d’Armagnac, his brother-in-law, the lord John de Villemur, Roger de Beaufort, the lord de Beaujeu, the lords de Villars, de Sergnac, de Calencon, sir Griffon de Montagu, sir Hugh Dauphin, and a great many other good knights. They made inroads on the confines of Rouergue, Quercy, and Limousin, and carried ruin and devastation wherever they went, for nothing was able to stand before them. By the advice of the duke of Berry, the duke of Anjou sent the archbishop of Toulouse from that city, during the time these armies were overrunning the country, to the city of Cahors, of which place his brother was bishop. This archbishop was a very learned clerk, as well as a valiant man. He preached up this quarrel of the king of France so earnestly, and so well, that the city of Cahors turned to the French side: and the 407 inhabitants swore that from this time forth they would be loyal and faithful subjects to the king of France. After this, the archbishop continued his journey through the country, preaching everywhere, with such good success, the rights of the king of France, that all the people of those parts embraced his opinions: and upwards of sixty towns, castles, and fortresses were turned to the king of France, with the assistance of the army of the duke of Berry; that is to say, of sir John d’Armagnac and the others who were overrunning the country. He caused also Sigeac, Gaignac, Capedonac, and several other principal towns and strong castles to change sides; for he remonstrated and preached, that the king of France had a good and clear right in this quarrel, with such effect, that all who heard him were convinced: besides, naturally in their hears they were more French than English, which greatly helped this business.
In like manner, as the archbishop went preaching and remonstrating on the justice of the quarrel of the king of France along the confines of Languedoc, there were in Picardy many prelates and lawyers who were as active in doing the same duty, by preaching and converting the people of the cities, large towns, and villages. Sir William des Dormans, in particular, distinguished himself by preaching this quarrel of the king of France from city to city, and from town to town, so wisely and ably that all people listened to him willingly; and it was wonderful how well he coloured the whole business through the kingdom by his harangues. In addition to this, the king of France, moved by devotion and humility, ordered frequent processions of the whole clergy: when he himself, as well as the queen, attended without stockings, and bare-footed. In this manner, they went praying and supplicating God to listen to them, and to the necessities of the kingdom of France, which had been for so long a time under tribulation. The king ordered all the subjects of his realm to do the dame, by the advice of the prelates and churchmen.
The king of England acted in a similar manner in his kingdom. There was at that time a bishop of London* who made several long and fine sermons: he demonstrated and preached in these sermons, that the king of France had most unjustly renewed the war, and that it was against right and reason, as he plainly showed in different points and articles. In truth, it was but proper, that both kings, since they were determined on war, should explain and make clear to their subjects the cause of the quarrel, that they might understand it, and have the better will to assist their kings; to which purpose they were all equally alert in the two kingdoms.
The king of England had sent to Brabant and Hainault, to learn if he could have any assistance from either of them; and had frequently, on account of his near connection, requested duke Albert, who at that time governed the country for his brother, to allow him to pass through his territories, or to remain there, if there should be occasion, and to enter through his country the kingdom of France, to carry the war into the heart of it.
Duke Albert would willingly have complied with the requests of the king of England, his uncle, and of queen Philippa his aunt, through the mediation and advice of lord Edward de Gueldres, who was of the king’s party, and also by means of the duke of Juliers is cousin-german, but he had been already gained, as you will hear. These two were in those times strictly connected, by faith and homage, to the king of England, who had desired each of them to engage for him as many as a thousand lances, for which they should be well satisfied. On this account, these two lords would have been very glad to have had duke Albert in alliance with the king of England. The duke was much tempted to join them by the magnificent presents which the king offered to make him; which promises were frequently repeated by these two lords, as well as by other knights whom he sent over to him, and principally by the lord de Comines†, who chiefly on this account had returned to 408 Hainault, after having resided some time with the king. But the king of France and his council had gained over the lord John de Verchin, seneschal of Hainault, who governed the whole country. He was a wise man, a valiant knight, and a good Frenchman. This high steward had so much weight, and was so beloved by the duke and duchess, that he overset all the expectations of the English, with the assistance of the earl of Blois, sir John de Blois his brother, the lords de Ligny and de Barbançon, and exerted himself so that duke Albert and the whole country remained neuter, and would not take either side, which was the answer made by the lady Jane duchess of Brabant.
King Charles of France, who was wise and artful, had taken the previous measures, and settled all this business three‡ years before. He well knew that he had good friends in Hainault and Brabant, especially among the greater part of the counsellors of the principal noblemen. In order to put a better colour on his war, he had copies made by learned men of different papers relative to the peace, which were signed at Calais, in which he stated all the facts in his favour, and those articles the king of England and his children had sworn to maintain, and to which they had submitted by sealed deeds, with the orders which they ought in consequence to have given to their subjects: in short, all the points and articles which were favourable to him, and condemned the actions of the English. These papers were made public in the town-halls, and in the presence of different noblemen and their counsellors, that they might be fully informed on the subject.
On the other hand, the king of England acted in like manner; for he sent memorials and remonstrances through Germany, or wherever he expected to gain assistance. The duke of Gueldres (who was nephew to the king of England, being the son of his sister, and thus cousin-german to the children of the king), and the duke of Juliers, were at that time true and loyal Englishmen: they had been very much affronted by the manner of the king of France sending his challenge by a servant, and rebuked the king for it, highly blaming both him and his council for this unbecoming form of sending it. They said, that war between such great and renowned lords as the kings of France and of England should have been declared by proper messengers, such as dignified prelates, bishops or abbots. They added, that the French had not followed this usual mode, through pride and presumption. These lords sent their challenge to the king of France in a handsome manner, as did several other knights of Germany. It was their intention immediately to have entered France, and to have done such deeds there as twenty years should not efface: but their schemes were broken by means they did not expect, as you will hereafter find recorded in this history.
* Dr. Simon Tibald, alias Sudbury. — Barnes.
† “Lord de Comines.” My MSS. have Gommegines. This passage seems very much confused, Lord Berners says, in his translation, that the lord de Comines was at the French court, and came away to prevent duke Albert joining the king of England. — [This passage has been, as D. Sauvage expresses it, “horribly corrupted.” He had considerable difficulty in settling it, and quotes the parallel passage from two other copies besides his own text, all varying from each other. It is not at all clear from these that Comines or Gommegines was not on the French party as lord Berners presents him to be, and this appears more probably from a former passage, where he is represented as attached to the French party; and, again, at page 411, Mr. Johnes in that place uses a third orthography, and spells the name Comminges, but all three appear to be the same name.] — ED.
‡ Three years. Denys Sauvage suspects it ought to be three months, but gives no reason for it.
IT has been before related how much the king of England solicited and intrigued, during upwards of five years, the marriage of his son, Edmund earl of Cambridge, with the daughter of the earl of Flanders. As the detailed account of the different negotiations would be too long, I shall briefly pass them over: but you must know that the king of England could not by any means whatever obtain from pope Urban V. a dispensation. As this was absolutely necessary, the marriage remained in suspense. The earl of Flanders being solicited, on the other hand, by the king of France, for his brother the duke of Burgundy; and seeing that the marriage not being likely to take place with England, his daughter ought to marry, as he had not any other children; having also learnt that the countess of Artois, his mother, was favourable to the duke of Burgundy’s suit, for it was a grand and well-assorted alliance; for these reason he sent noble ambassadors to England, to treat with the king for an acquittal of his engagements between them.
Those ambassadors managed the business so ably that the king of England, who always wished to act honourably, assented to the earl of Flanders’ request. They returned, there 409 for, to Bruges, and related to the earl their lord what they had done. The earl was much pleased at their success. It was not long before the marriage of the duke of Burgundy with the heiress of Flanders was determined on. There were great treaties, agreements and alliances made between both parties; and it was then told me, that the earl of Flanders, in consideration of this marriage, received upwards of fifty thousand crowns*: that the towns of Douay and Lille were given up to him, on account of the money which the king of France was to give his brother on this marriage. The earl of Flanders took possession of these towns, put his own subjects into them, and they were esteemed as part of Flanders, on account of the sums they were pledged for. But I know nothing further.
Soon after these arrangements were concluded, they proceeded to the marriage, which was celebrated in the city of Ghent. There were great feasts at the solemnity of the wedding, and afterwards, which were attended by crowds of lords, barons and knights. The gallant lord of Coucy was there, whose presence was so acceptable at a feast, of which none knew better how to do the honours: it was for this reason the king of France had sent him thither. After they had been magnificently entertained, as well with tournaments as otherwise, they separated, and returned to their homes.
The king of England, who saw that from this marriage the earl of Flanders must become the ally of the king of France, was ignorant whether the earl would take part against him with the duke of Burgundy his son, who of course would be his heir to the county of Flanders, and what treaties had been entered into by the earl with the king of France. The king, therefore, was much harder upon the Flemings than before, and harassed them by sea and land, and whenever he found them in his own country with their merchandise. The king of France was not displeased at this, and would willingly have seen a war declared between the Flemings and the English: but the prudent men of Flanders and the citizens of the principal towns were averse to it, for the commonalties of Flanders maintained the quarrel between the two kings to be more just of the part of England than of France.
King Edward was gaining friends on all sides, and much need had he of them, from the appearance of the great wars and rebellions that were breaking our in his dominions beyond sea. He was given to understand, that his cousin king Charles of Navarre, who at that time resided in lower Normandy, would join the party; for he hated the king of France, on account of some estates which the king of Navarre claimed as his inheritance, and which the king of France denied his right to. Counsellors on each side had frequently met, but they could never come to nay agreement. The affair had remained in this situation, and each was on his guard. The king of Navarre had amply provided his towns and castles in Coutantin, in the county of Evreux, as well as his principal towns in Normandy, with all sorts of stores: he had filled Cherbourg, where he resided, with men at arms.
At this time, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt was with the king of Navarre: he was governor of a town called Carentan†, beyond the fords of St. Clement in Coutantin, which he held under the king of Navarre, being part of his inheritance: sir Eustace was also one of his privy counsellors: so that the king of England sent to him (for he was his liege man and knight), to sound the intentions of the king of Navarre. He found him well inclined, and treated so successfully that the king of Navarre, with a small retinue, embarked on board a ship called the Lynne, and visited the king of England, who was right glad to see him. He entertained him handsomely; and they had many conferences together, in which they understood each other so well that, on the return of the king of Navarre, he was to declare war against the king of France, and to admit English garrisons into all his castles.
After these engagements and treaties had been concluded, the king of Navarre returned to Cherbourg in Normandy. He was escorted thither by some of the knights of the household of the king and queen of England, who were unfortunate as they came back; for they met some pirates of Normandy that attacked their vessels, and, being the strongest, overpowered them, and killed every person: they gave no quarter to any one. The king of England was much enraged when he heard this, but he could not possibly then remedy it.410
Soon after the return of the king of Navarre to Cherbourg, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt (who had been sent for by the prince of Wales, and whose heralds had summoned his attendance) took his leave, in order to obey the prince. The king parted with him with much regret, but sir Eustace explained his reasons so fully that he allowed him to depart. He embarked with his attendants, and sailed for St. Malo, where he landed, and then rode to Nantes, in order to pass the river Loire, with the permission of the duke of Brittany and the inhabitants, who as yet had not taken any part in this war. He continued his journey until he arrived in Poitou, at the town of Angoulême, where the prince received him with great pleasure, and shortly afterwards sent him to sir John Chandos and the captal de Buch, who were in Montauban, guarding the frontiers against the French. Sir Eustace, on his arrival, was most joyfully greeted by his former companions.‡
* One of the fragments or abridgments made use of by D. Sauvage in his ed. and quoted by him as “La Chaux,” has 100,000 crowns. — ED.
† Carentan, —, a town of Normandy, three leagues from the sea-coast, diocese of Coutances.
‡ From the Fœdera it would appear, that Charles of Navarre sent two ambassadors to England; for there is a passport for Peter Terturon, his secretary, and one also for William Dordane, dated the 6th June, 1370. The king’s passport is dated the 12th August, 1370, when, I suppose, he came to England, where he must have remained some time, for the passport for his return is dated the 28th November, 1370. The convention between the two kings is in the Fœdera, to which I refer for further particulars. The king of Navarre, when returned to Cherbourg, sent other ambassadors to England, as their passport in the Fœdera is dated the 1st December, 1370.
THE knights of Picardy, about this period, were preparing a grand expedition of men at arms, with the intention of payig a visit to those of Ardres*. Sir John Moreau de Fiennes, constable of France, and sir John Werthin, constable† of Hainault, were appointed, by order of the king of France, the leaders of it. Their rendezvous was in the good town of St. Omer. They amounted, in the whole, to a thousand lances, knights and squires. These men at arms advanced, to show their array, before the fort of Ardres, which was well garrisoned with English. They encamped there, and gave out that they intended to lay siege to it. The English in Ardres were not alarmed, but made every necessary preparation to defend themselves, if they should be attacked. One day these lords o France and of Hainault drew out their army to the field in gay spirits, and in noble array. It was a fine sight to behold the banners of these lords flying before them, and the gallant muster they made. They began an attack, but with little advantage: for many were killed and wounded; and nothing gained. According to the information which I then received, I believe it was on the fifth day they left Ardres, without any other action, and each man returned to his own home. Thus was this expedition put an end to.
We will now return to what was going forwards in a distant part of the country, and related the siege of Réalville in Quercy by the French. There were upwards of twelve thousand combatants, all good men at arms; and at two days’ march were the duke of Berry, sir John d’Armagnac, sir John de Villemur, the lord de Beaujeu, and others from Auvergne and Burgundy, in all about three thousand fighting men, who were ready to advance should there be occasion. Sir John Chandos, the captal de Buch, sir Guiscard d’Angle, and the others who were guarding the frontiers of Montauban, knew well what was passing at Réalville, and what the strength of their own forces in that part of the country consisted of. They found they were not strong enough to fight, nor to raise the siege: for the earls of Cambridge and Pembroke, who were besieging Bourdeilles, would not give up that siege.
The French had set their miners to work at Réalville, and by their machines, which cast stones, &c. into it day and night, had harassed the garrison so much, they could not sufficiently watch these miners, who succeeded in their operations, and flung down a great part of the walls; by which means the town was taken, and all the English in it were put to death without mercy, which was a pity, for there were among them several good squires. The 411 inhabitants were pardoned on their promising from that time forth to be loyal Frenchmen. The French commanders appointed captains and men at arms to guard it, as well as others to give advice in the article of repairs, or in whatever other business occasion might require.
After the conquest of Réalville, the army dispersed itself over the countries of Quercy and Rouergue, to get refreshment and recruit themselves. The companies went to the city of Cahors and its neighbourhood. Their leaders were Aimemon d’Ortige, Perrot de Savoye, le petit Mechin, Jacques de Bray and Arnaudon de Pans, who despoiled the whole country. The earl of Perigord, the earl de l’Isle, the earl de Comminges‡, the viscount de Carmaing and the other lords returned to their own estates; for sir Hugh Calverley, sir Robert Briquet, John Tresnelle, Lanut, Naudon de Bagerant, le bourg Camus, le bourg de l’Esparre and other captains of these free companies, were carrying on a destructive war there, and had burnt and ravaged the lands of the earl d’Armagnac and the lord d’Albret.
There was at this time, as high steward of Rouergue, a very valiant man and good knight, an Englishman, called sir Thomas Whiteval§. He resided in the town and castle of Milhaud¶, a day’s journey from Montpelier; and notwithstanding the whole country surrounding it had changed sides, and was conquered, he kept this garrison upwards of a year and a half, and also another fortress in Rouergue called Vauclerc. He made many expeditions, and different sallies much to his honour, until sir Bertrand du Guesclin drove him out, as you will hear related anon in the course of this history.
The town and castle of Bourdeilles still remained besieged.
* Ardres, — a strong town in Picardy, four leagues from Calais. Near this place was held the famous interview between Henry VIII. and Francis I.
† Sir John Werthlin, or Verchin, constable. He was before séneschal.
‡ See note p. 407.
§ Whiteval. Q. if not Whitwell. Barnes calls him sir Thomas Wake.
¶ Milhaud, or Millau, — a town in Rouergue, on the river Tarne.