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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. 453-466.
DURING the time sir Robert Knolles was employed in his expedition, and the prince of Wales with his two brothers were at the siege of Limoges, sir Bertrand du Guesclin with his company, amounting to about two hundred lances, marched through a part of Limousin, but did not encamp in the open plain for fear of the English. He retreated every night into some of the strong places which had lately turned to the French: in that number were the castles of sir Louis de Maleval and sir Raymond de Marneil, and several others: from thence he made daily excursions to conquer other towns and castles. The price knew well all this; for he received every day information of what was passing, as well as complaints on the subject; but he would not break up his siege, for he had too much at heart the loss of Limoges. Sir Bertrand entered the viscounty of Limoges, a territory which was dependent on lord John de Montfort, duke of Brittany, in the name of the widow of lord Charles de Blois, to whom it had formerly belonged. He made war upon it without any opposition; for the duke of Brittany did not imagine sir Bertrand would carry the war into any part of his property. He came before St. Yrier* where there were not any gentlemen that knew how to defend it; and the inhabitants were so frightened, they surrendered themselves under the obedience of the duchess of Brittany, in whose name the war was made. The Bretons formed St. Yrier into a considerable garrison; by which means they took many other towns in Limousin. But let us return to the prince.
The prince of Wales remained about a month, and not more, before the city of Limoges: he would not allow of any assaults or skirmishing, but kept his miners steadily at work. The knights in the town perceived what they were about, and made countermines to destroy them; but they failed in their attempt. When the miners of the prince (who, as they found themselves countermined, kept changing the line of direction of their own mine) had finished their business, they came to the prince, and said: “My lord, we are ready, and will throw down, whenever you please, a very large part of the wall into the ditch, through the breach of which you many enter the town at your ease and without danger.” This news was very agreeable to the prince, who replied, “I wish then that you would prove your words to-morrow morning at six o’clock.” The miners set fire to the combustibles in the mine; and on the morrow morning, as they had foretold the prince, they flung down a great piece of wall, which filled the ditches. The English saw this with pleasure, for they were all armed and prepared to enter the town. Those on foot did so, and ran to the gate, which they destroyed as well as the barriers, for there were no other defences; and all this was done so suddenly that the inhabitants had not time to prevent it.
The prince, the duke of Lancaster, the earls of Cambridge and of Pembroke, sir Guiscard d’Angle and the others, with their men, rushed into the town. You would then have seen pillagers, active to do mischief, running through the town, slaying men, women, and children, according to their orders. It was a most melancholy business; for all ranks, ages and sexes cast themselves on their knees before the prince, begging for mercy; but he was so inflamed 454 with passion and revenge that he listened to none, but all were put to the sword, wherever they could be found, even those who were not guilty: for I know not why the poor were not spared, who could not have had any part in this treason; but they suffered for it, and indeed more than those who had been the leaders of the treachery. There was not that day in the city of Limoges any heart so hardened, or that had any sense of religion, who did not deeply bewail the unfortunate events passing before their eyes; for upwards of three thousand men, women and children were put to death that day. God have mercy on their souls! for they were veritable martyrs.
A company of English, in entering the town, hastened to the palace of the bishop, whom they there found and took prisoner, carrying him, without any regard to his dignity, to the Prince of Wales, who, eyeing him indignantly, told him that his head should be cut off and ordered him out of his presence.
We will now speak of those knights who were in the town, sir John de Villemur, sir Hugh de la Roche, and Roger de Beaufort, son to the count de Beaufort, governors of the city. When they perceived the tribulation which was overpowering them, they said: “We shall all be slain for a certainty, if we do not gallantly defend ourselves: let us therefore sell out lives as dearly as good knights ought to do.” Upon this, sir John de Villemur said to Roger de Beaufort, “You must be knighted.” Roger replied, “Sir, I have not as yet signalised myself sufficiently for that honour, but I thank you much for you good opinion in suggesting it to me.” No more was said, for they had not time to hold further conversation. They collected in a body, and, placing themselves before an old wall, sir John de Villemur and sir Hugh de la Roche displayed their banners, and drew up in good order. They might be, in the whole, about fourscore. The duke of Lancaster and the earl of Cambridge, with their men, advanced upon them, and dismounted, to be on an equality with the enemy. They attacked them with hearty good will. You may easily imagine that this handful of men could not resist the English, but were all slain or made prisoners.455
The duke of Lancaster was engaged for a long time with sir John de Villemur, who was a hardy knight, strong and well made. The earl of Cambridge singled out sir Hugh de la Roche, and the earl of Pembroke Roger de Beaufort, who was but a simple esquire. These three Frenchmen did many valorous deeds of arms, as all allowed, but ill did it betide those who approached too near. The prince, coming that way in his carriage, looked on the combat with great pleasure, and enjoyed it so much that his heart was softened and his anger appeased. After the combat had lasted a considerable time, the Frenchmen, with one accord, viewing their swords, said, “My lords, we are yours: you have vanquished us: therefore act according to the law of arms.” "By God,” replied the duke of Lancaster, “sir John, we do not intend otherwise, and we accept you for our prisoners.” Thus, as I have been informed, were these three knights taken. But the business was not here ended, for the whole town was pillaged, burnt, and totally destroyed. The English then departed, carrying with them their booty and prisoners. They marched to Cognac, where the princess had remained, and there the prince disbanded his forces, not intending to do anything more that season; for he did not feel himself at his ease, as every exertion aggravated his disorder, which was increasing, to the great dismay of his brothers and all those about him.
I must inform you how the bishop of Limoges escaped with imprisonment, who had been in imminent danger of his life. The duke of Lancaster asked him of the prince, who consented, and ordered him to be given up to the duke, for him to do with him according as he willed. The bishop having good friends, they sent information of his situation to the pope, who had lately arrived at Avignon; and fortunate was it for the bishop they did so, otherwise he would have been a dead man. The pope wrote such pressing and kind letters to the duke of Lancaster, to request he would give him the bishop, that he was unwilling to refuse, and sent him to the pope, who felt himself exceedingly obliged for it.
We will now say what was going forward in France.
* “St. Yrier,” — a village in Limousin, election of Tulles.
THE king of France was informed of the conquest and destruction of Limoges, and how the prince and his army had left it empty and deserted, which vexed him much on account of the distress and loss of the late inhabitants. It was therefore thought advisable in a council of nobles and prelates, as well as by the common assent of the whole kingdom, to elect a chief or commander, called a constable (for sir Moreau de Fiennes wished to resign that office) who was a valiant and enterprising man, and one to whom all knights and squires would pay proper deference. After all things had been well considered, they unanimously elected sir Bertrand du Guesclin (provided he would undertake the office), as the most valiant, the best informed, the most virtuous and fortunate in conducting affairs for the crown of France of all those who were bearing arms in its defence. The king wrote to him by messengers, for him to come to Paris. Those sent found him in the viscounty of Limoges, taking castles and forts, which he put under the obedience of madame de Bretagne, widow of the late lord Charles de Blois. He had lately taken a town called Brantome*, whose inhabitants had surrendered themselves to him, and was then on an expedition against another.
When the king’s messengers came to him, he received them handsomely, as he knew well how to do. They gave him their letter, and delivered their message word for word. When sir Bertrand thus saw himself specially ordered, he was unwilling to make any more excuses for not waiting on the king of France to know his will: he set out as soon as possible, having ordered all his men into the garrisons which he had conquered, and appointed his nephew, sir Oliver de Mauny, commander over them. He rode on to Paris, where he found the king surrounded by a number of the lords of his council. He was received by all with great pleasure; and the king told him of his being chosen constable of France. On hearing which, sir Bertrand modestly and sagely excused himself, saying, “he was not worthy of it: that he was but a poor knight, and simple bachelor, in comparison with the great lords and 456 valorous men of France, however fortune might have been favourable to him.” The king replied, “that his excuses would be of no avail; that he must consent to accept this dignity, for it had been so determined by the decision of the whole of the council of France, and that he would not break through such a resolution.” Sir Bertrand used other arguments to excuse himself; adding "Dear lord and noble king, I cannot, I dare not, whatever I may wish, oppose what may be your good pleasure: but in truth I am too poor a man, and of low extraction, for the office of constable, which is so grand and noble that it is proper for those (who wish to exercise it justly and honourably) to command and keep a strict eye more upon the great than the poor. Now Sir, here are my lords your brothers, your nephews and your cousins, who will have different commands in your armies, and in various expeditions; and how shall I dare to order them? Certainly, my dear lord, envy and jealousy are so much abroad, I ought to be on my guard against them; I therefore entreat you will not insist on my taking this office, but give it to some other who will readily accept it, and, who knows better than I do how to execute it.” The king made answer: “Sir Bertrand, that excuse will not serve you; for I have neither brother, nephew, cousin, count or baron in my realm but who will obey your orders; and should any one act otherwise, he would so anger me that he should soon feel the effects of it: I therefore beg of you to accept this office with a good will.”
Sir Bertrand, finding that no excuse nor any thing he could say would be listened to, accepted the king’s offer, but it was much against his inclination. He was invested with the office of constable; and the king, to show him greater affection, made him be seated at his table, and gave him, besides his office, many rich gifts and large domains in land, for him and his heirs. The duke of Anjou was very active in forwarding this promotion.
* “Brantome,” — a town in Perigord, diocese of Perigueux.
SOON after sir Bertrand du Guesclin had been invested with the dignity of constable, he told the king he wished to form an expedition against sir Robert Knolles and his forces, who were at that time on the borders of Maine and Anjou. This was very agreeable to the king, who said to him, “Take any number of men at arms you please, and whatever else you may think right.” The constable made every necessary preparation, and collected a large body of men at arms, Bretons and others, and marched towards Maine, taking with him the lord de Clisson. The constable came to the city of Mans, where he fixed his headquarters, and the lord de Clisson in another town hard by: they might be about five hundred lances.
Sir Robert Knolles and his army were still in that part of the country, but they did not agree very well together; for there was an English knight among them, called sir John Menstreworth†, who always objected to what others proposed, and said they only wasted their time in these expeditions, and wore down and fatigued the men without doing anything essential, or making any conquest. This knight who commanded a large force, and had some able men at arms with him, left the others. Sir Robert Knolles and sir Aleyne Boxhull, however, kept together, and were quartered pretty near to Mans. Sir Thomas Grantson, sir Gilbert Gifford, sir Geoffry Worsley, and sir William Neville, were quartered a good day’s march in the rear.
When Sir Robert Knolles and sir Aleyne Boxhull heard that the constable of France and the lord de Clisson were come into those parts, they were much rejoiced, and said, “It will be well for us to collect our forces more together, and post ourselves to our advantage in this country; for sir Bertrand, in the novelty of office, is certainly come to look at us, and he would not have been happy if he had not made this expedition. We have already rode 457 through the realm of France without meeting any hindrance. Let us inform sir Hugh Calverley (who is at Saumur on the Loire), and sir Robert Cheney, sir Robert Briquet, and the other captains of companies who are near us, of our situation and intentions, who will willingly hasten to join us. We may therefore fall upon this new constable, and the lord de Clisson, who is so much our enemy‡; and we shall make a handsome finish to our campaign." Between sir Robert Knolles, sir Aleyne Boxhull, and sir John Seton, there was not any difference of opinion; and they acted always in unison. They immediately sent off messengers secretly to sir Hugh Calverley, sir Robert Briquet, and the others, with letters to inform them how they were situated, and to propose that they should join in an attack upon the French. They signified the same to sir Thomas Grantson, sir Gilbert Gifford, sir Geoffry Worsley and the others, desiring them to advance to a place which they pointed out to them, for they were in hopes to engage the French who had come on this expedition. Upon receiving this intelligence, they all made ready with great cheerfulness to join their companies, amounting to about two hundred spears. This matter, however, was not carried on so secretly but that sir Bertrand and the lord de Clisson got wind of it, and knew also what was intended on the junction of their forces: they therefore armed themselves during the night, and, marching with their men and garrisons, took the field. This same night, sir Thomas Grantson, sir Geoffry Worsley, sir Gilbert Gifford, sir William Neville, and the others, had left their quarters, and advanced towards sir Robert Knolles and sir Aleyne Boxhull, to a spot where they expected to find them. But their march was shortened; for, directly at a place called Pont-valin, they were met by the French, who immediately charged them, and surrounded them, as they were full four hundred lances and the English about two hundred. The battle was sharp and long, and well fought on both sides. As soon as they met, they dismounted, and attacked each other most valiantly with spears and sword. The French gained the victory over the English, who were all slain or made prisoners; for not an Englishman fled, except some of the pages or servants, who, mounting their masters’ coursers, made off as fast as possible when they saw they were defeated. Among the prisoners were, sir Thomas Grantson, sir Gilbert Gifford, sir Geoffry Worsley, sir William Neville, sir Philip Courtenay, sir Hugh Despencer, and many more knights and squires, who were all conducted to the city of Mans. Intelligence of this was speedily spread over the country, and soon known to sir Robert Knolles, sir Hugh Calverley and the others, who were much vexed thereat, and broke up their intended attack through this unexpected event. Those at Saumur, as well as in the other quarters, remained quiet. Sir Robert Knolles and sir Aleyne Boxhull made a handsome retreat into Brittany, for they were not far distant. Sir Robert went to his castle of Derval, where he gave orders to all his men at arms and archers to go wherever they might find profit or honour, and several returned to England, whence they had come. Sir Aleyne Boxhull went to pass the winter in this town of St. Sauveur le Vicomte, which the king of England had given to him.
After the defeat of Pont-valin, where a part of the English were slain and the remainder put to the rout, so that the expedition was ruined, sir Bertrand du Guesclin (whose entrance into the office of constable had been thus fortunately signalized, in a way to gain him great honour and reputation) came to Paris, accompanied by the lord de Clisson, and bringing with them the greater part of the prisoners, to whom they behaved very handsomely, allowing them to go at large on their parole for their ransom. They neither shut them up in prison, nor put on shackles and fetters, as the Germans do in order to obtain a heavier ransom. Curses on them for it. These people are without pity or honour, and they ought never to 458 receive quarter. The French entertained their prisoners well, and ransomed them courteously without being too hard with them.
The prince of Wales, the duke of Lancaster and all the English, who, after the conquest and vengeance taken on Limoges, had retired to Cognac, were much dismayed by the defeat at Pont-valin.
This year, about Christmas, Pope Urban V. died at Avignon. He was a learned and wise man, and a good Frenchman. The cardinals assembled in conclave to choose a successor, when they unanimously elected the cardinal de Beaufort, who took the name of Pope Gregory XI. The king of France was well pleased with his creation and divine election, for he knew him to be a loyal Frenchmen and a prudent man. The duke of Anjou was at Avignon during the conclave, and took much pains that he should be elected pope.
* Pont-Valin, — a town in Anjou, election of la Flèche.
† “Sir John Menstreworth.” Froissart calls him Maistrurde. I have followed Barnes, who adds that he was a traitor, sold to the French, and, having embezzled large sums destined for the pay of the army, was afraid to be called to an account for them.
‡ The lord de Clisson, so much our enemy. His quarrel with the duke of Brittany and the English, to whom he had always been attached, was caused by the duke’s refusal of a request he made for the lordship of Gavre, which was very convenient to him, and near his castle of Blein.
When he asked for it, the duke said he had disposed of it in favour of sir John Chandos, to whom he had essential obligations. Clisson, enraged at this preference, swore he would never have an Englishman for his neighbour, set fire to the house, and had the stones carried to Blein, using them to fortify this castle. He conceived so mortal a hatred to the English that he embraced the party of the countess de Penthievre, on whom he had before made war, and accepted the lieutenancy of Brittany under her, and the guard of all the places she had there. This change of conduct introduced him to the service of Charles V. who admitted him to his councils, loaded him with gifts and gave him the lieutenancy-general de Touraine. — Mémoires de Bertrand du Guesclin, par Berville, vol. ii. p. 210, note.
CHAPTER CCXCIII. — SIR EUSTACE D’AMBRETICOURT IS MADE PRISONER AND RANSOMED — SIR RAYMOND DE MARNEIL, A PARTISAN OF FRANCE, IS TAKEN, AND IN IMMINENT DANGER, BUT SAVED BY HIS KEEPER.
A VERY unfortunate adventure befel sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt much about this time. As he was riding one day through Limousin, he came in the evening to the castle of the lord de Pierre Buffiere, which he entered, thinking him a friend, a brother soldier, and a good Englishman. But Pierre Buffiere had given up his castle to Thibaut du Pont, a man at arms from Brittany, and his company. Thibaut seized sir Eustace, who was not any way on his guard, made him his prisoner, and afterward ransomed him for twelve thousand francs, of which he paid down four thousand, and left his son, François d’Ambreticourt, his hostage for the remainder to the duke of Bourbon, who had gone surety for him, and had taken great pains to obtain his liberty, because sir Eustace had been very active in obtaining the freedom of the lady his mother, when she had been made prisoner by the free companies at Belleperche. After he had obtained his liberty, sir Eustace went and resided in Carentan, beyond the fords of St. Clement, in lower Normandy, a very handsome town which the king of Navarre had given him, and where he died. God have mercy on his soul! for whilst he lived and remained in the world he was a most valiant knight.
Nearly at this period, sir Raymond de Marneil, who had changed his party from the English to the French, was returning to his own country from Paris, when he met with a disagreeable accident. On his road, he encountered a body of English, belonging to the forces of Hugh Calverley, commanded by a knight of Poitou, and came so suddenly among them that he could not escape: he was thus taken, and carried prisoner to the castle of the knight in Poitou. The capture of sir Raymond was known in England, and came to the king’s knowledge, who immediately wrote to the knight, ordering him to send that enemy and traitor sir Raymond de Marneil directly to England, on whom he would wreak such vengeance that it should serve as an example to all others; and that he would pay him six thousand francs for his ransom. Sir Geoffry d’Argenton, who had taken sir Raymond, was not willing to disobey the orders of his sovereign and lord, and replied he would punctually follow his commands. Sir Raymond de Marneil was informed that the king of England wished to have his person, and had sent orders to that effect; and also that sir Geoffry was determined to obey him. He was therefore more alarmed than ever, and not without reason. He began to utter in his prison the most piteous moans, insomuch that the person who guarded him, and was an Englishman, began to compassionate him, and gently to soothe him. Sir Raymond, who saw no rays of comfort in his distress, since he was to be sent to England, at last opened his mind to his keeper. “My friend,” said he, “if you will engage to deliver me from the peril in which I am, I will promise and swear on my loyalty to divide half and half with you all my landed possessions, which you shall have for your inheritance; and never as long as I live will I be wanting to you in whatever manner you may please.” The Englishman, who was poor, considered that sir Raymond was in danger of his life, and as he had promised him such a handsome recompense to save it, he took compassion on him, and said he would do all he could to serve him. Sir Raymond heard 459 this with great joy, and swore upon his honour to perform strictly what he had promised, and even more if he insisted upon it. Upon which they consulted how they could best bring this business to a happy end.
When night came, the Englishman, who kept the keys of the tower of the castle where sir Raymond lay, opened his prison and a postern-gate, from which they issued into the plain, and made for a wood, to prevent themselves being overtaken. They were in greater distress all the night than can be imagined; for they marched seven leagues on foot, and it had frozen so hard that their feet were all cut and torn. At last, however, at the dawn they came to a French fortress, where they were heartily received by the companions who guarded it. Sir Raymond related to them his adventures, and they all returned thanks to God for his fortunate escape. In truth, when the knight on the morrow found they had gone off, he sent horsemen everywhere round the country in search of them, but in vain. In this manner did sir Raymond de Marneil escape from such imminent danger. He returned to Limousin, and told all his friends his great obligations to the English squire. The Englishman was much honoured by them, and sir Raymond wanted to divide his estate with him; but he refused to accept so much, and would only take two hundred livres a-year, adding that was fully sufficient for the support of himself in his situation.
CHAPTER CCXCIV. — THE PRINCE OF WALES, HAVING LOST BY DEATH HIS ELDEST SON, GIVES UP THE DUCHY OF AQUITAINE TO THE CARE OF THE DUKE OF LANCASTER. — FOUR KNIGHTS OF BRITTANY TAKE THE CASTLE OF MONT-PAON*.
AT this time, the eldest son of the prince and princess of Wales died in the city of Bordeaux. They were exceedingly grieved at this event, and not without reason. The prince was advised to return to England, as perhaps there he might recover his health; and as this advice was given him by his physicians and surgeons, he agreed to it. Preparations were made for his departure; and, I believe, the earls of Cambridge and Pembroke were ordered to return with him to bear him company.
When the prince was about to leave Aquitaine, and his vessel was in the harbour of Bordeaux, on the river Garonne, where he had arrived with the princess and the young Richard, his son, he issued from the city of Bordeaux a special summons to all the barons and knights of Gascony and Poitou, and to all others over whom he was lord or who depended on him. When they were arrived, and assembled before him in his hall of audience, he addressed them by saying, “that during the time he had been their prince, he had always maintained them in peace, prosperity, and power, as far as depended on him, against all their enemies; but that now, in the hope of recovering his health, of which he had great need, he intended to return to England: he therefore besought them earnestly to put their faith in, and to serve and obey his brother, the duke of Lancaster, as they had before served and obeyed him: that they would find him a good and courteous lord, and he begged of them to aid and assist him in all his affairs.” The barons of Aquitaine, Gascony, Poitou, and Saintonge assented to his request, and swore upon their faith and loyalty never to desert him. They performed fealty and homage to the duke, declaring themselves willing to pay him all affection, service, and obedience. This they swore in the prince’s presence, and they all kissed him on the mouth†. After these affairs were settled, the prince did not tarry long in Bordeaux, but embarked on board his vessel with the princess and his son, accompanied by the earls of Cambridge and Pembroke. There were in this fleet five hundred combatants, besides archers. They had favourable weather, and, meeting with no accident, arrived safely at Southampton. They were disembarked; and, after having refreshed themselves for two days, all mounted their horses, and took the road for Windsor, except the prince, who was carried in his litter. On their arrival, they found the king, who was 460 then there. He received his children very kindly, and made many enquiries into the state of Guienne. After the prince had made some stay with the king, he took his leave, and retired to his manor of Berkhamstead, twenty miles from the city of London. We will for the present leave the prince, and say what had passed in Aquitaine.
Soon after the departure of the prince from Bordeaux, the duke of Lancaster ordered preparations for the funeral of his nephew Edward. It was very grand and magnificent, and was attended by all the barons of Gascony and Poitou‡. Whilst all these things were going forward, and the funeral occupied every one’s attention, and detained the barons in Bordeaux, there issued forth from the garrison of Perigord upwards of two hundred lances of Bretons, whom the duke of Anjou had sent and posted there. They were commanded by four valiant and hardy knights, whose names were, sir William de Longueval, sir Alain de la Houssaye, sir Louis de Mailly, and the lord d’Arcy. These knights marched with their men to a handsome and strong castle called Mont-paon, of which a knight was lord. When these Bretons arrived, and had advanced up to the barriers, they manœuvred as if they intended an immediate assault, and completely surrounded it. Upon which sir William de Mont-paon, proving he had more of French courage than English, turned to them, and in short surrendered. He gave admittance to these knights and their companions into his castle, of which they took possession, and said they would defend it against all the world. They repaired and added to it whatever might have been wanting.
Intelligence of this was soon carried to Bordeaux, when the duke of Lancaster told the barons they were inactive, for that the Bretons had made an incursion, and had taken Mont-paon, which was close to their borders. Indeed, when the duke and barons first heard of this, they were much ashamed and made immediate preparations for marching towards that part; they set out from the city of Bordeaux on a Wednesday after dinner. With the duke of Lancaster there were, the lords de Pons and de Partenay, sir Louis de Harcourt, sir Guiscard d’Angle, sir Percival de Coulogne, sir Geoffry d’Argenton, sir James de Surgeres, sir Maubrun de Linieres, sir William de Montendre, sir Hugh de Vinoye, the lord de Crupenac, and many more knights and barons of Poitou and Saintonge. From Gascony were, the captal de Buch, the lord de Pommiers, sir Helie de Pommiers, the lords de Chaumont, de Montferrant, de Langeron, the souldich de la Trane, sir Bernardet de l’Abret, the lord de Gironde, sir Aimery de Testu, and several others. Of the English were, sir Thomas Felton, lord Thomas Percy, the lord Roos, sir Michael de la Pole, the lord Willoughby, sir William Beauchamp, sir Richard de Pontchardon, sir Baldwin de Franville, the earl of Angus, and many more. They were in all rather more than seven hundred spears and five hundred archers. They marched in good order to Mont-paon, where on their arrival sir William de Mont-paon, seeing the duke of Lancaster and his army come to besiege him, felt very uneasy; for he knew that, if he were taken, he should die a disgraceful death, without hopes of mercy, as he had done too much against him to expect any. He told his fears to the four knights, and said he should make his escape and go to Perigord: but that they were masters of his castle to do as they pleased with it. Upon this he directly departed, and went to the city of Perigord, which was very strong, and left his castle under the guard of these four knights.
* “Mont-paon,” — a village of Rouergue, election of Milhaud.
† “All kissed him on the mouth.” Hommage de bouche et des mains is done by a vassal with head uncovered, hands joined, and a kiss received, which binds him to fight for his lord only in defence of the lands whereof he holds. — Cotgrave.
‡ He was buried in the Augustine Friars, London.
“Here was interred the bodie of Edward, the eldest sonne of Edward the black prince, by Joan his wife, surnamed The Faire Maide of Kent, who was born at Angolesme anno 1375, and died at seven years of age." — Weever’s Funeral Monuments.
WHEN the duke of Lancaster was arrived at Mont-paon, with all his barons, knights, and men at arms, he immediately laid siege to it. They built themselves substantial huts all round the castle, as if they were to remain there seven years. They were not, however, idle, but began the assault with great vigour, and had large quantities of wood and faggots 461 cut down by the peasants, and carried to the ditches, which they threw in and covered with large beams and earth; by which means they were so filled up that they could advance to the walls to skirmish with the garrison, as was daily done, and there were many gallant conflicts. The four Breton knights in the castle were right good men at arms, and fought and defended themselves so valorously, that they were deserving of great praise. They were not dismayed, however near the English or Gascons might advance, and never suffered them to return conquerors.
Not far distant, in the garrison of St. Macaire*, which belonged to the Bretons, were John de Malestroit and Silvestre Budes, the governors of it, who, hearing every day of the great feats of arms which were doing before Mont-paon, were anxious to be partakers of them. They conversed frequently on this subject, saying, “Since we know that our companions are so near to us, and those valiant men,” as such a one and such a one, naming them, “have daily five or six attacks on their hands, and are continually fighting, whilst we remain here doing of nothing, we certainly do not act well.” They were very eager to go and assist them; but, when they and their companions had all spoken, they began to consider the danger there might be, if they should leave the garrison without one of the commanders, and this puzzled them how to act. Silvestre Budes said, “By God, I will go.” “Silvestre,” replied John, “you shall stay, and I will go.” This dispute continued some time. At last they agreed on their oaths, before their companions, to draw straws, and that he who had the longest straw should go, and the other remain. Upon which they drew straws, and Silvestre Budes had the longest, which created a great laugh among the company. Silvestre did not take it for a joke, but went and made himself ready; when, mounting his horse, he set off with eleven men at arms, and rode for the castle of Mont-paon, where he arrived and entered in the evening. The knights and garrison were much rejoiced at seeing him, for they had a high opinion of his courage.
As I have before said, there were continued attacks every day made on Mont-paon; and the knights within defended themselves so well that they acquired great honour, for until a large piece of the wall had been thrown down, they were not any way dismayed. The English had brought thither large machines and other engines of assault, which they could now place near to the walls where the ditches were filled up. There were also footmen covered with large shields, who worked with pick-axes, and laboured so earnestly that one afternoon they flung down upwards of forty feet of the wall. The lords of the army directly ordered out a body of archers, who kept up so well-directed and sharp an attack with their arrows, that none could stand against them, nor even show themselves. Upon this, sir William de Longueval, sir Alain de la Houssaye, sir Louis de Mailly, and the lord d’Arcy, finding from this situation that they could not any longer hold out, sent one of their heralds mounted on horseback, through the breach, to speak with the duke of Lancaster; for they wished, if possible, to enter into a treaty. The herald advanced to the duke, way being made for him, and explained the business on which he was sent. The duke, by the advice of those about him, granted an armistice to the garrison during the time of a parley; and the herald returned with his answer to his masters. The four knights directly came forward upon the ditch, and the duke sent sir Guiscard d’Angle to hold a parley with them.
Upon the ditch, therefore, they entered on a treaty, by asking, “In what sort or manner does the duke intend to make us prisoners?" Sir Guiscard, who had received his instructions, replied, “Gentlemen, you have greatly displeased my lord; for you have detained him here several weeks†, which has fretted him very much, and caused the loss of several of his men: for which reasons, he will not receive you, nor grant you mercy, but will have you surrender yourselves simply to him. He also insists on sir William de Mont-paon being first given up, for him to be dealt with according to his deserts as a traitor.” Sir Louis de Mailly replied, “Sir Guiscard, in regard to sir William de Mont-paon, whom you require from us, we swear truly and loyally that we are ignorant what is become of him, for he did not remain in this town a moment after you had begun to besiege it. But it will be very hard 462 for us to surrender ourselves in the manner you insist on, who are soldiers sent here for pay, just as your commanders may send you, or you may be obliged to it by personal service; and, before we accept of such a bargain, we will sell our lives so dearly that report shall speak of it a hundred years hence. Return, therefore, to the duke of Lancaster, and tell him to accept of us in a courteous manner, upon certain terms of ransom, as he would wish should be done to any of his own party, should they happen to be so unfortunate.”
Sir Guiscard answered, that he would very willingly do so to the utmost of his power. With these words, he returned to the duke, and took with him the captal de Buch, the lords de Rosen and de Mucident, the better to forward the business. When these lords were come into the duke’s presence, they remonstrated with him so eloquently, and with such good success, that he granted their request, and received the four knights, with Silvestre Budes, and their men, in mercy as prisoners.
Thus had he once more possession of the castle of Mont-paon, an received the homage of the inhabitants of the town. He placed there two Gascon knights as governors, with forty men at arms and as many archers, and had all the walls completely repaired by masons in the neighbourhood: he victualled the place, and supplied it well with all sorts of artillery.
* St Macaire, — a city of Guienne, on the Garonne, nine leagues from Bordeaux.
† “Several weeks.” All my copies differ as to the number of weeks: some eleven, some six weeks: I have therefore said several weeks, as it appears very uncertain: but I should rather incline to the smaller number.
AFTER the conquest of Mont-paon, when the duke of Lancaster had reinforced it with good men at arms and captains, he broke up his camp, and disbanded his army. Each therefore went to his own home, and the duke returned to Bordeaux. The Poitevins retreated to their country, and the Gascons to their towns and castles; but the free companies dispersed themselves over the whole principality, where they did as much mischief to friends as enemies. The duke winked at this, and suffered them to act as they pleased, because he thought he might soon have a fresh occasion for their services; more especially as the war at that moment was much more oppressive in Poitou, without comparison, than any where else.
The French kept a large garrison in the castle of Montcontour, four leagues distant from Thouars, and six from Poitiers, which was commanded by Peter de Guerfille and Jourdain de Coulogne. They daily harassed the country, either about Thouars or about Poitiers, and greatly damaged and pillaged the inhabitants. On the other side, Carnet le Breton held Chatelheraut, with seven hundred Bretons, who much ruined the country. The garrisons from la Roche-Posay and St. Salvin were out almost every day, so that the barons and knights of Poitou attached to the English dared not venture abroad but in large parties, for fear of the French who had thus forced themselves into their country.
Soon after the return from Mont-paon, and when the lords of Poitou had retired to their own country, which was one of the frontiers to France, many secret negotiations were set on foot by the lord Louis de St. Julien, the viscount de la Rochechouart, and several others in the French interest, who, with large sums received from the king of France, laboured day and night, to gain over the lords of Poitou to his party. These negotiations were so successful that the lord de Pons turned to the French, in spite of the entreaties of the lady his wife, and of all the inhabitants of the town of Pons in Poitou. Notwithstanding, however, the lord de Pons changed his side, the lady remained attached to the English. All the barons and knights in Poitou in the English interest were violently enraged, for the lord de Pons was a powerful baron. The duke of Lancaster was much grieved at this, and, wishing every curse to attend the lord, felt himself obliged to the lady and to those of the town who had not deserted him. Sir Aimemon de Bours, a good and valiant knight, was ordered to assist the lady with his advice and courage; for the lord de Pons advanced every day to the gates of the town, doing no damage to any one; but sometimes he was driven back, and retreated with loss.
THUS were the English affairs in Poitou entangled; the lords and knights opposed to each other; when the strong oppressed the weak, and none received either law, justice, or right. The castles and strong places were intermixed; some being French, others English, who each made excursions on the other, and pillaged on all sides without mercy. Some of the barons and knights of Poitou of the English party, having considered that the garrison of Montcontour was more active in harassing the country than the others. resolved to march thither and lay siege to it. They therefore issued a summons from the city of Poitiers in the name of lord Thomas Percy, séneschal of Poitou, which was obeyed by all knights and squires. They amounted to five hundred spears and full two thousand footmen, with large shields, among the archers who accompanied them. There were sir Guiscard d’Angle, sir Louis de Harcourt, the lords de Partenay, de Pinane, de Tannaybouton, du Cupegnac, sir Percival de Coulogne*, sir Geoffry d’Argenton, sir Hugh de Vinoye, the lord de Coyes, the lord de Puissances, sir James de Surgeres, sir Maubrun de Linieres, and several more. There were also some English, who at the time were resident in Poitou, either from the offices they held there, or to assist in guarding the country; such as sir Baldwin de Franville, the earl of Angus, sir Walter Hewett, sir Richard de Pontchardon and others. When they had been mustered at Poitiers, and had completed their preparations, they marched from thence, taking the road for Montcontour, in full array, with everything necessary for the siege of that place.
The castle of Montcontour is situated in the country of Anjou, is very strong and handsome, and four leagues distant from Thouars. The Poitevins, to the amount of three thousand combatants, continued their march until they arrived there, when they laid siege to it, and invested it on all sides. There had been brought from Thouars and Poitiers large engines, which they pointed against the castle, and flung from them stones night and day. They made daily assaults, and the lords frequently had skirmishes with the garrison, in which several gallant actions were performed: there were with the Poitevins several of the free companies, who were unwilling to remain during the siege; such as John Creswell and David Hollegrave: these two, with sir Walter Hewett, were their leaders. Sir Peter de Guerfille†, and Jourdain de Coulogne, who were in the castle, defended it valiantly, and advanced every day to the combat with the English at their barriers. On the tenth day after their arrival, in the midst of these attacks, the English and Poitevins assaulted it so briskly, and in such good order and strength, that they broke down the walls of the castle, through which they passed, and conquered the French. All within were slain, except sir Peter and Jourdain, and five or six men at arms, to whom the companions granted quarter.
After the capture of Montcontour, lord Thomas Percy‡, sir Louis de Harcourt, and sir Guiscard d’Angle, by the advice and consent of the other barons and knights, gave the castle to sir Walter Hewett, John Creswell , and David Hollegrave and their companies, who were full five hundred combatants, for them to guard the frontiers against Anjou and Maine. The lords then marched away, and dismissed their army. Thus was this castle made a guard for the borders by those to whom it had been given, who collected a numerous garrison, and had it completely repaired. They maintained possession of it for a very long time, and much harassed all the country about it; for there was not a day but they made some excursions into Anjou or Maine.
* “Sir Percival de Coulogne.” Barnes calls him sir Percival Collins.
† In the Hist. de Bretagne, he is called Pierre de la Gresille.
‡ Lord Thomas Percy was knight of the Garter. — Anstis MS. Collections.
“He was brother to the first earl of Northumberland, and uncle to Hotspur, who was created earl of Worcester by Richard II. His barony was that of Haverfordwest, and he had a considerable estate in South Wales, now in the possession of the duke of Rutland." — Note in the above Collections, by Dr. Percy, bishop of Dromore.
This estate is, I believe, sold: at least a rent resolute was sold by the duke (lord lieutenant of Ireland) to Mr. John Manners.
WE will now return to sir Bertrand du Guesclin, constable of France, who had remained at Paris, near the king, since the defeat of Pont-valin, where he and sir Oliver de Clisson had so dreadfully beaten the English, as has been before related. It was told him that the English still kept the field in Poitou and Guienne: upon which he declared his intentions, that soon after Candlemas, at the commencement of spring, he should collect a very large force of men at arms and noblemen, and would make an incursion to another part of the country, since the English were thus employed in Quercy, Poitou, and Rouergue. Some of the English had very honourably remained in these countries, and had maintained themselves there since the renewal of the war. Sir John Devereux and his men had again got possession of Limousin, and had taken in Auvergne a castle with its dependencies, called Uzes, which the constable said was not to be suffered, and that he was determined to march thither. With the king’s permission, he assembled a large body of men at arms; and, quitting Paris, his army increased daily until he arrived in Auvergne.
There came with him, under his command, the duke of Berry, the duke of Bourbon, the count d’Alençon, the count du Perche his brother, the count de St. Pol, the dauphin of Auvergne, the counts de Vendôme and de Porcien, the lords de Sully and de Montagu, sir Hugh Dauphin, the lord de Beaujeu, the lords de Rochefort and de Talençon, and a great many more barons and knights of France. This army continued its march until it came before the city of Uzes, when they encamped; and, after remaining there fifteen days, during which time many fierce assaults were made, but without impression on the fortress, for it had an English garrison who very valiantly defended it, they broke up the siege and departed, the constable continuing his march into Rouergue. Some of the principal lords took this opportunity of going to Avignon to visit pope Gregory and the duke of Anjou, who at that time was with him. Soon after this visit, and having had a conference with the duke, they left the city of Avignon and followed the constable, who was advancing through Rouergue, taking towns and castles from the English. They came before the town of Milhaud†, which was held by sir Thomas Wake‡, and had been so for some time: they laid siege to it, as well as to the rock of Vauclerc; but the English knight surrendered upon terms, to sir Bertrand, this as well as some other castles on the borders of Limousin.
When sir Bertrand had refreshed his army, he marched away, taking the road on his return to the city of Uzes, to which he again laid siege. The constable and the dukes of berry and Bourbon had ordered large machines to be brought from Rioms and Clermont, which they had pointed, as well as other warlike engines, against the walls of the castle.
The English, who had before so gallantly defended the place, seeing the great preparations which were making against them, as well as the numerous army of the besiegers, and having heard the manner in which sir Thomas Wake had given up the strong places in Rouergue, at the same time not expecting any succours to come to their assistance, held a council, and resolved to surrender upon capitulation, but not upon any other terms. They entered into a treaty with the constable, which was so well conducted on all sides, that they were to march out without danger or blame, carrying off whatever they could take with them, and besides were to be escorted as far as St. Severe in Limousin. This treaty was strictly observed, and the English marched out, having surrendered whatever they had held in the town and castle of Uzes, and were conducted without peril to the garrison they had fixed upon. Sir Bertrand gained by this expedition a very large extent of country, of which the English had had possession, and then returned to France.
* “Uzes.” I am inclined to believe it must be Usson, a town in Auvergne, instead of Uzes, which is in Lower Languedoc, eight leagues from Avignon. See Hist. de Bretagne, vol. i. p. 336.
† Milhaud, — a town in Rouergue, on the Tarne.
‡ “Sir Thomas Wake.” In all the editions, printed and MSS. which I have seen, this name is strangely disfigured. I have followed Barnes, for I could not make anything of Veulquefaire or Bueilcafare.
YOU have before heard of the expedition which sir Robert Knolles* commanded in France, and how afterwards he retired to his castle of Derval in Brittany. In truth, some of the English, on their return home, spoke much against him, so that the king and his council had information of it, and were highly displeased with him. When sir Robert heard of this, he sent over his two principal squires to explain everything, and to clear him of whatever might be said against him: insomuch that the king and his council were satisfied they had been wrongly informed, and thought as favourably of him as before. Sir Aleyne Boxhull, and other knights who were favourites with the king, assisted in his disculpation, and made sir John Menstreworth pay dearly for what he had done: he was taken, and publicly executed in the city of London†. By this act of justice sir Robert Knolles was cleared of all the charges which had been laid against him, and remained in the good graces of the king and prince.
The king of England, who found himself hard pressed by this war with France, gained as many friends as he could on the other side of the sea. He had for allies the duke of Guelders, his nephew, and the duke of Juliers, who had engaged to raise a large force, as they were well able to do, and to make an incursion into France. At this time, the king sent the earl of Hereford‡ and some other knights of his household, handsomely equipped, to Brittany, to consult with the duke on the arrangements which it was necessary should be made between them.
The English and Flemings were not at this time on good terms, but attacked each other whenever they met on the seas; and so much had the Flemings lost, that they were extremely angry. By accident, a fleet of each nation met off the island of Bas in Brittany§. The commander of the Flemings was John Peterson, and of the English sir Guy Brian¶. As soon as they saw each other, they prepared for action, which was immediately begun: and very sharp it was. The king’s knights who accompanied the earl of 466 Hereford, sir Richard Sturey¥, sir Thomas Vuisque and the others were in this engagement. These knights and their men fought very valiantly against the Flemings, and exerted themselves the more, because the enemy were in greater numbers, and were better prepared for action, as, during the whole summer, they had been wishing to meet the English. However, this time they did not gain much by the meeting. This sea-fight lasted full three hours: many gallant acts were performed, and many were killed and wounded by the arrows. The ships were grappled together with chains and hooks, so that they could not escape. In the end, the victory remained with the English; for the Flemings were discomfited, and John Peterson, their captain, made prisoner: the rest were either taken or slain, for none escaped. The English made sail for England with their prizes and prisoners, which prevented them from continuing their voyage to Brittany. The king was much rejoiced at the success of this engagement, and defeat of the Flemings, especially when he learnt that they were the aggressors. John Peterson and his captains were put into close confinement, and the others dispersed in various parts of England.
After this defeat off the isle of Bas, the king of England ordered a large armament to be prepared against the Flemings, to engage the enemy wherever they should meet with them, and to blockade their ports, so that no vessel could sail from them without risk of being taken. When the citizens of Bruges, Ypres, and Ghent, heard of these orders, they summoned a council, and, after mature deliberation, resolved that it was not for their advantage to be at war or to have any ill-will with the English, who were their neighbours and connected with them by commerce, on account of any quarrel of their earl, nor would it be expedient for them to aid and support him. The principal towns, therefore, dissembled, but sent able and good men to negotiate with the king of England and his council, who managed the affair so well that on their return they brought peace to the country of Flanders and to the Flemings, conformably to certain articles in the treaty which was sealed by each party. Thus was this business settled on a good and solid foundation.
We will now say something of the king of Majorca.
* “Sir Robert Knolles was but of mean parentage in the county of Chester, but by his valour advanced from a common soldier in the French wars under Edward III. to a great commander. Being sent general of an army into France, in despite of their power he drove the people before him like sheep, destroying towns, castles, and cities in such a manner and number that long after, in memory of this act, the sharp points and gable ends of overthrown houses and minsters were called Knolles’ Mitres. After which, to make himself as well beloved of his country, he built a goodly fair bridge at Rochester over the Medway, with a chapel and chauntry at the east end thereof. He built much at the Grayfriars, London, and an hospital at Rome for English travellers, and pilgrims. He deceased at his manor of Scone Thorpe in Norfolk, — was buried by the lady Constance, his wife, in the church of Grayfriars, London, 15th August, 1407.” — Weever’s Fun. Mon. p. 436.
In 1365, John de Montfort, duke of Brittany, gave him, at the assembly of the states at Vannes, the lands, castle, &c. of Derval and Rougé, which had been excepted at the treaty of peace. — Hist. de Bretagne..
He was created a knight of the Garter, Richard II. and is the 74th knight.
Knolles earl of Banbury, took his descent from sir Robert Knolles. — Dugdale’s Baronage.
Lobineau says, Derval, &c. was given to him and his descendants. In 1373, the duke, going into England, left his government to sir Robert Knolles: but few lords obeyed him. The French besieged his castle of Derval, which he had left in the custody of Hugh Broc his kinsman, who capitulated to surrender if not relieved in two months, during which time no person was to be received there. But Knolles disavowed the act of his nephew, alleging he could not treat without his consent; so that the duke of Anjou sent his herald to say, that having done contrary to his capitulation in admitting Knolles, in case he did not surrender, he would put to death the two knights and a squire who were the hostages; which being done, Knolles immediately executed three French knights and a squire, and threw their bodies into the ditch; whereupon the siege was raised. — Lobineau, p. 409.
† His head as affixed to a pole on London Bridge, which, on the rebellion of Jack Straw, &c. was taken down to make room for the head of the bishop of London. — Leland’s Collectanea, vol. iii.
‡ “Earl of Hereford,” — Humphry Bohun, constable of England, 32nd knight of the Garter. — See Dugdale.
It appears however, from Rymer, that sir Robert de Neville and Raulyn de Barey, ecuyer de sa chambre, were the ambassadors to Edward.
§ The isle of Bas is on the coast of Brittany, near Morlaix. In the original, it is, the two fleets met in a harbour of Brittany, “qu’on dit à la Baye:” and Carte says in “the bay:” but I should rather suppose it was meant as I have translated it. This signal victory is very little noticed by our historians.
¶ “Sir Guy Brian.” — was 57th knight of the Garter, in the stall of sir John Chandos. He was third husband to Elizabeth dowager of William earl of Salisbury — died 14th Richard II. He was brother to the bishop of Ely.
Pat. 35. Ed. III. p. 1. Guidoni de Bryan 200 marcos in provita quod prudenter deferebat vexillum regis, in quodam conflictu apud Cales. — Antis MS. Collect.
He is buried at Tewksbury. In Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments is a plate of his tomb.
¥ Sir Richard Sturey. I cannot find anything of him but in the first volume of Leland’s Collectanea, p. 183, date 1375: — Ricardus Sturey revocatus in familiaritatem et gratiam ab Edwardo rege.