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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. 466-478.
YOU have before heard how James, king of Majorca, was taken at Valadolid, when king Henry re-conquered Spain, and that he continued prisoner to king Henry. When the queen of Naples, his wife, and the marchioness of Montferrat, his sister, heard this they were much distressed, and immediately began to think of remedying it in the manner I shall mention. They sent trusty men to king Henry to treat for his ransom, who brought the matter about on consideration of the sum of one hundred thousand francs, which those ladies so graciously paid that king Henry was obliged to them. The moment the king of Majorca gained his liberty he set out for Naples, but remained there only sufficient time to collect large sums of money and a body of troops, with which he again set off to make war on the king of Arragon his adversary, whom he could never love, as he had slain his father and detained his inheritance. The king continued his journey until he came to Avignon, to visit pope Gregory XI. where he staid upwards of a month. He made such able remonstrances with the holy father that he listened to his entreaties, and consented to the war which he was desirous of making on the king of Arragon, as the cause which urged him to it was the recovery of his heritage. The king of Majorca engaged men at arms at a very high price wherever he could meet with them; English, Gascons, Germans, Bretons, and some of the free companies, under the command of sir Gracien du Châtel, John de Malestroit, Sylvestre Budes, and James Bray. They might amount to about twelve hundred fighting men, who marched with him, and entered Navarre, and there remained with the consent of that king. From thence they advanced into Arragon, where the knights and men at arms made war on the king, over-ran his country, taking and destroying small forts 467 and ransoming its inhabitants. The king of Arragon, expecting this war, sent some men at arms towards the frontiers of his kingdom, under the command of the count de Roquebertin and the count de Rodais.
Whilst this war was carried on, which was done with much inveteracy and cruelty, the king of Majorca fell sick again at Val di Soria, and the disorder increased so much that he there died. By this means, the Arragonians had peace for a long time from that quarter. The free companions who had been engaged in this war returned to France, to that party from whom they thought they should gain most.
We will now speak of the duke of Lancaster.
CHAPTER CCCI. — THE DUKE OF LANCASTER ESPOUSES THE ELDEST DAUGHTER OF THE LATE DON PEDRO, KING OF SPAIN. — TREATIES OF ALLIANCE ARE ENTERED INTO BETWEEN THE KINGS OF FRANCE AND SPAIN.
DUKE John of Lancaster remained in the city of Bordeaux, and with him many knights, barons, and squires of Aquitaine; for, notwithstanding some barons of Poitou and Limousin had turned to the French party, that of the English was in a tolerably good state, and made frequent inroads upon the French, on which occasions they lost nothing, but well scoured the country of those who were defending the frontiers for the duke of Anjou. The duke of Lancaster as a widower since the death of the lady Blanche, duchess of Lancaster and Derby: upon which the barons of Gascony, in concert with sir Guiscard d’Angle, considered that don Pedro, king of Spain, had left two daughters by his marriage with the sister of the king of Portugal, who were then in the city of Bayonne, whither they had been conducted, under the safeguard of some knights, by sea, from the neighbourhood of Seville, for fear of king Henry. As soon as they were informed of the death of don Pedro, these ladies were almost distracted with grief. Every one compassionated them, for they were the true heiresses of Castille, which was their just right, by succession to their father. This matter was thus opened to the duke: “My lord, it is time you should think of re-marrying: we know of a very noble match for you, one from which you or your heirs will be kings of Castille. It will be a charitable deed to comfort and advise damsels who are daughters of a king, especially when in such a pitiable state as those ladies are. Take, therefore, the eldest for your bride. We advise you to do so; for at this moment we know not where you can more nobly ally yourself, nor from whence greater profit can accrue to you.” These and such like words made an impression on the duke, and were so agreeable to him that he consented to what they had proposed with much good will. He immediately ordered four knights to seek these ladies without delay, whose names were Constance and Isabella. The duke himself set out from Bordeaux, when he knew they were coming, to meet them in grand array. He married the eldest, the lady Constance, at a village on the road called Rochefort, on the other side of the city of Bordeaux, and gave there, on the day of his marriage, a splendid feast, to which were invited a great number of lords and ladies to add to its magnificence. Soon after the wedding, the duke conducted his lady to Bordeaux, where there were again grand entertainments. The duchess and her sister were much feasted by the ladies and damsels of Bordeaux, who presented them with magnificent gifts and presents for the love they bore the duke.
News was brought to king Henry of Castille, and to all the barons of the realms, who were allied to him by fealty and homage, that his niece had married the duke of Lancaster, and that it was supposed the younger sister would espouse the earl of Cambridge upon the duke’s return to England. The king was very melancholy on hearing this, and summoned his council. He was then advised to send able ambassadors to the king of France, to explain his situation. The king agreed to their opinions, and chose the wisest men in his kingdom to go to France. They set out with a grand retinue, and continued their road without interruption until they came to Paris, where they found the king, who received them with every politeness. The king of France had many interviews with these ambassadors, who had full powers, properly sealed and authenticated, to enter into any treaties, and to act in 468 everything for their lord, so that many secret councils were held. At last, every thing was concluded; and a treaty was entered into between the two kings, of perpetual amity, love and alliance, which was most solemnly sworn to be maintained, and that neither party would dissolve or weaken without the other’s consent. The king of France swore, on the word of a king, that he would aid and assist the king of Castille in every matter which might concern him, and that he would never make peace with the king of England without his being a party.
Sir Bertrand du Guesclin, who much loved the king of Spain, took great pains to bring this treaty about. After this business had been completely finished, the ambassadors took their leave and returned to Spain. Thy found their king at Leon, who was much pleased at having so well concluded the matters they were sent on. King Henry, from this alliance, felt himself ever after much more assured and comforted.
CHAPTER CCCII. — THE DUKE OF LANCASTER APPOINTS GOVERNORS IN GUIENNE: HE RETURNS TO ENGLAND, AND CARRIES HIS LADY WITH HIM. — SIR WALTER MANNY DIES IN LONDON.
WE now return to the duke of Lancaster, who still resided in the city of Bordeaux. He had determined that about Michaelmas he would embark for England, in order to make the king his father better acquainted with the affairs of Aquitaine. To this end he made every preparation; and, a little before his departure, he assembled in Bordeaux all those barons and knights of Gascony who were of the English party. When they were all collected, he addressed them by saying, he had a great desire to return to England on particular business, as well for the advantage of all present as for the principality of Aquitaine; but that he would come back in the ensuing summer, if the king his father would permit it. These words were very agreeable to all who heard them. He then appointed the captal de Buch, the lords de Mucident and de l’Esparre, governors of all those parts of Gascony which were attached to England. In Poitou, he nominated sir Louis de Harcourt and the lord de Partenay. In Saintonge, sir Louis d’Argenton and sir William de Montendre. He left all the seneschals and other officers as they were before. The council of he Gascons, Poitevins, and Saintongers ordered sir Guiscard d’Angle, the lord de Pinane and sir Aimery de Tarbe to accompany the duke to England, in order more fully to explain the affairs of Aquitaine; and the duke, by waiting for them, delayed some little his voyage. When all was ready, they embarked on board of vessels in the harbour of Bordeaux, which is large and spacious. The duke as attended by a large body of men at arms and archers, having sixty vessels in the fleet, including those with provisions: he carried with him his lady and her sister. They sailed with favourable winds, which brought them safe to Southampton, where they disembarked, and entered the town. They reposed themselves there for two days, when they set out, taking the road to Windsor, where the king resided. He received his son the duke, the ladies, damsels, and the foreign knights with great joy and feasts, but especially sir Guiscard d’Angle, whom he was delighted to see.
About this time that gallant knight sir Walter Manny departed this life in the city of London; for which all the barons and knights of England were much afflicted, on account of the loyalty and prudence they had always found in him. He was buried with great pomp in the monastery of the Carthusians*,which he had built, at his own expense, without the walls of London. His funeral was attended by the king, his children, and the barons and prelates of England. All his landed property on each side of the sea fell to John earl of Pembroke, who had married his daughter Anne. The earl sent two knights to take possession of the lands which had fallen to him in Hainault, and they performed their duty well towards duke Albert, who at that time governed the country in the name of his deranged brother William.
* Now the Charter House.
CHAPTER CCCIII. — THE KING OF ENGLAND APPOINTS THE EARL OF PEMBROKE GOVERNOR OF AQUITAINE. — THE SPANIARDS, BEING ALLIES OF FRANCE, ATTACK HIM AT SEA, OFF LA ROCHELLE.
DURING this winter (1372), many councils were held in England on the state of affairs, and upon the best methods of conducting them. The English had planned two expeditions; one to Guienne, another into France through Calais, and were gaining allies, as well in Germany as in other parts of the empire, where several knights and squires had joined them. They were busily employed in making great preparations for the largest army which had been seen for a long time. The king of France was regularly informed by some Englishmen of these transactions, the state of them, and what was the end proposed. Upon which, having duly considered his intelligence, had acted accordingly, and laid in a sufficiency of provision in all the cities, towns and castles of Picardy; having strongly reinforced the garrisons with men at arms, that the country might not be surprised.
When summer was arrived, king Edward kept the feast and solemnity of St. George in Windsor castle, as he was yearly accustomed to do, when sir Guiscard d’Angle was elected a brother-knight with the king, the princes and barons, who were called, in this fraternity, The Knights of the Blue Garter. The king, after this, went to London, to his palace of Westminster, where he held a grand council on public affairs. The duke of Lancaster was ordered to invade France by entering Picardy. He was to be accompanied by his brother the earl of Cambridge. The king, at the entreaty of sir Guiscard d’Angle and the Poitevins, appointed the earl of Pembroke governor of Aquitaine, in room of the duke of Lancaster, with orders to hasten to those countries, and to conduct the war against the French.
The Gascons and Poitevins had requested of the king by letters, as well by sir Guiscard d’Angle, that if he should be advised not to send any of his own children, he would nominate the earl of Pembroke, whom as they loved much they desired to have, for they knew him 470 to be a good and hardy knight. The king, therefore spoke to the earl of Pembroke, who, with several other barons and knights, was present at this council, saying: “John, my fair son, I ordain and institute you governor and captain of all the men at arms in Poitou, who according to the accounts I have had, are very numerous; and also of those you will conduct from hence thither. You will, therefore, accompany sir Guiscard d’Angle into Poitou.” The earl of Pembroke, falling on his knees, replied: “My lord, I return you my warmest thanks for the high honour you have conferred upon me. I will act for your majesty beyond seas as one of your smallest marshals.” After this, the council broke up, when the king returned to Windsor, taking sir Guiscard d’Angle with him. They frequently conversed on the affairs of Poitou and Guienne. In one of these conversations, he said: “My lord, when our governor and captain shall arrive in that country, we shall carry on a good war; for we shall there find between four and five hundred lances, who will all cheerfully obey you, but they must be regularly paid.” The king answered: “Sir Guiscard, sir Guiscard, do not be uneasy on account of wanting money to continue the war, for I have enough, and will eagerly employ it for such an occasion, as it very sensibly affects us and our kingdom.” In these and such like discourses did the king of England amuse himself with sir Guiscard d’Angle, for he had great confidence in him, not indeed without reason.
The season was now arrived for the departure of the earl of Pembroke, who took his leave of the king, as did all those who accompanied him. It seems to me that sir Otho de Grantson*, d’outre la Somme, was appointed to go with him. The earl of Pembroke had not a very large force with him, but only the knights of his household, on account of the information which sir Guiscard d’Angle had given the king; but he carried a sufficient sum in nobles and florins to pay three thousand fighting men. After taking leave of the king, they set out for Southampton, where they remained fifteen days waiting for a wind. On the sixteenth, they had a wind to their wish; and, embarking, they sailed out of the harbour for the coasts of Poitou, recommending themselves to the care of God and St. George.
King Charles of France was perfectly well acquainted with the greater part of the king of England’s councils, (I do not know by whom or how they were revealed to him) and that sir Guiscard d’Angle and his companions were gone to England to request from the king an able leader. He already knew that the earl of Pembroke had the appointment, and that he was on his way thither. Upon which the king of France had secretly raised a large naval armament; that is to say, it had been done at his request, for it belonged to king Henry of Castille, who had sent this armament in conformity to the treaty which had been lately concluded between them. This Spanish fleet consisted of forty large vessels and thirteen barks, well provided with towers and ramparts, as the Spanish ships usually are. Four valiant men were the commanders of this fleet: Ambrosio de Balequer, Cabesso de Vaccadent, Hernando de Leon, Rodrigo de Rosas†. These Spaniards had remained a considerable time at anchor, waiting for the return of the Poitevins, and the coming of the earl of Pembroke; for they were well informed that he was to land on the coast of Poitou, and had therefore placed themselves at anchor before the town of La Rochelle.
It happened, therefore, that on the day preceding the vigil of St. John the Baptist, in the year of grace 1372, when the earl of Pembroke and his fleet expected to enter the port of La Rochelle, they found that the Spaniards had blocked up the entrance by lying before its mouth, and were ready prepared to receive them. When the English and Poitevins saw the Spaniards thus posted, and that an engagement must happen, they encouraged each other, though they were not near an equal match, either in regard to the number of vessels or men, and made preparations for an immediate combat, posting their archers on the bows 471 of the ships. The Spaniards were well equipped with men at arms and foot soldiers, who had cross-bows and cannons: many had also large bars of iron, and staves loaded with lead, to make their attacks with. They advanced with shoutings and a great noise. These large ships of Spain made sail to gain the winds, so that they might bring their towers to bear on the English, who little suspected their intent, and less feared them. Thus did they bear down on them full sail. At this commencement, great were the shouts and cries on both sides. The English behaved gallantly, and the earl of Pembroke, his knights and squires, acted worthy of their honour.
The engagement was very severe, and the English had enough to do; for the Spaniards who were in large vessels had great bars of iron and huge stones, which they launched and flung from their ships in order to sink those of the English, by which they wounded desperately both sailors and men at arms. The knights of England and Poitou that day showed excellent proofs of chivalry and prowess. The earl fought gallantly, seeking his enemies everywhere, and did extraordinary feats of arms. Sir Otho de Grantson, sir Guiscard d’Angle, the lord de Pinane and all the other knights, behaved equally well.
* “Sir Otho de Grantson.” Barnes calls him sir Thomas Grantson; but sir Thomas Grantson was made prisoner by Bertrand du Guesclin, and, I suppose, was then at Paris. Froissart, I should imagine, by mentioning outre la Somme, must mean a different person, one who had an estate beyond the Somme. In the MS. collections of Mr. Anstis, a sir Otho Grantson is spoken of; but, by a reference to Dugdale, it appears he must have lived in a much earlier period.
† I have copied the names of these Spanish captains from Barnes, but am doubtful if they are right; for in Choisi’s history of Charles V. Roderique de Roux is mentioned as admiral. In Villaret’s history of France, Boccanera is called the admiral. Indeed, this is nearer to Froissart, who calls the first captain Ambrose de Boucquenegre. Barnes gives not any authority for his alterations.
CHAPTER CCCIV. — THE INHABITANTS OF LA ROCHELLE REFUSE TO ASSIST THE EARL OF PEMBROKE. — THE SENESCHAL AND THE LORD DE TANNAYBOUTON, WITH OTHERS, COME TO HIS AID.
BY what I have heard from those who were present at this engagement, the English and Poitevins showed plainly they wished for victory, and obtained great praises for their valour; for never people exerted more courage, nor fought more bravely, considering what a handful of men they were in comparison with the Spaniards, and in such small vessels that one cannot but marvel how it lasted so long: but their great prowess and chivalry raised a mutual spirit of emulation, and, had their vessels been of the same size with their enemy's, the Spaniards would not have had the advantage; for they handled their spears, which were well steeled, so briskly, and gave such terrible strokes, that none dared to come near unless he were well armed and shielded; but the showers of stones, lead, and iron bars annoyed them exceedingly, and in this first engagement several knights and squires were severely wounded.
The Rochellers saw plainly the whole of this engagement, but never offered to advance to the assistance of their countrymen, leaving them to shift for themselves. This battle lasted until night, when each party separated and cast their anchors: but the English lost two barges of provision, and all those in them were slain. Sir John Harpedon, who at that time was séneschal of La Rochelle, employed himself all the night in entreating the inhabitants, the mayor, John Chauderon, and the others to arm themselves, and to draw out the commonalty, and embark in the vessels and barges which were lying on the shore, in order to assist and aid their fellow-subjects whom they had seen so valorously defend themselves. The inhabitants, however, who had no inclination so to do, excused themselves by saying they had their town to guard; that they were not seamen, nor accustomed to fight at sea, nor with the Spaniards; but that, if the battle had been on shore, they would very willingly have complied with his request. The business remained in this state, and nothing could bring them to change their resolution.
At this moment there were in La Rochelle the lord de Tannaybouton, sir James de Surgeres, and sir Maubrun de Linieres, who handsomely acquitted themselves in joining their entreaties with those of the séneschal . When these four knights saw they could not gain any thing, they armed themselves, ordering their people, who were not in any great numbers, to do the same; and, on the return of the tide, they embarked in four boats which they took from the shore, at break of day, and made for the vessels of their friends, who were right glad to see them. They told the earl of Pembroke and sir Guiscard d’Angle, that they must not expect any assistance from la Rochelle, as the townsmen had positively refused it; to which, as they could not better themselves, they replied that they trusted in the mercy of God, and would wait the event; that a time might come when the Rochellers should repent of their refusal.
CHAPTER CCCV. — THE EARL OF PEMBROKE IS DEFEATED, AND MADE PRISONER BY THE SPANIARDS. — THEY SAIL FROM LA ROCHELLE WITH THEIR PRISONERS. — THE CAPTAL DE BUCH ARRIVES THERE, BUT TOO LATE.
WHEN it was day, and the tide had flowed full, the Spaniards weighed their anchors, and, with a great noise of trumpets and drums, formed a line of battle, like to that of the preceding day, with their large vessels, which were well manned and armed, and having gained the wind in hopes of inclosing the English vessels, which were but few in comparison, the before mentioned four captains led the van in handsome order. The English and Poitevins, observing their line of battle, formed theirs accordingly, and, having collected themselves together, placed their archers in front. The Spaniards, under the command of these captains, bore down on them full sail, and began the engagement, which was dreadfully deadly. When they came to close quarters, the Spaniards flung out grappling-hooks with chains of iron, which lashed the English to their vessels, so that they could not separate, and thus, as it were, held them close*.
With the earl of Pembroke there were twenty-two knights, who united good inclinations to tried valour, and who vigorously defended themselves with spears, swords, and other weapons. They remained there closely engaged, fighting desperately, for a considerable time; but the Spaniards had too much the advantage, as their vessels were larger and higher 473 above the water than those of the English, from which they flung down stones, bars of iron, and lead, that much annoyed their adversaries. The engagement continued with great fury between them until near nine o’clock; and no people ever laboured harder than the English and Poitevins, but the greater part of their men were now wounded by the stones and other things which were thrown on them, and that gallant knight of Gascony sir Aimery de Tarbe was slain, as well as sir John Lauton, who was knight of the body to the earl of Pembroke. Four large Spanish ships had grappled with that in which was the earl: they were commanded by Cabesso de Vaccadent and Hernando de Leon, and full of men at arms for the combat and to work the vessels. After an obstinate resistance, they boarded the earl’s ship, when he was made prisoner, and all on board slain or taken. Among the last were, sir Robert Beaufort, sir John Curzon, sir John Grimstone: sir Simon Whitaker, sir John Morton, and sir John Touchet shared the fate of the first.
At some distance, the Poitevins, under the command of sir Guiscard d’Angle, the lord de Pinane, the lord de Tannaybouton, and other knights, with their followers, continued the fight; and in another ship, sir Otho de Grantson was engaged against Ambroise de Boccanera and Roderigo de Rosas, who were too many for him; so that all these knights were taken by the Spaniards, not one escaped being killed or made prisoner. Their men were also in great danger, but their lords, when taken, desired they would cease the slaughter, as they would pay a proper ransom for them. Whoever may find himself in such a strait of arms as the earl of Pembroke or sir Guiscard d’Angle were in, before La Rochelle, must cheerfully submit to whatever God or fortune may please to order. But know, that in the loss of this day, of knights or squires, the king of England in comparison was by far the greatest sufferer; for, in consequence of this defeat, he lost afterwards all Guienne, as you will have related in this history.
I was informed that the English vessel which had on board the money for sir Guiscard d’Angle to pay the soldiers of Guienne was lost, and everything on board with it; so that it was not of profit to any one. All this day, which was the vigil of St. John the Baptist, the ensuing night, and the morrow until noon, did the Spaniards remain at anchor before La Rochelle, shouting and rioting with joy. It happened fortunately that a knight of Poitou, called sir James de Surgeres, addressed the person who had taken him with so much eloquence that he agreed to give him his liberty for three hundred francs, which he paid down. He dined in La Rochelle on St. John’s day; and by him it was known how the affair had ended, who were slain or made prisoners. Many citizens of the town pretended to be much concerned at this event, though in their hearts they rejoiced, for they never were well inclined towards the English.
In the afternoon of St. John’s day, at high flood, the Spaniards weighed anchor, set their sails, and departed with a great noise of drums and trumpets. They had on their mast-heads standards like to pennons, with the arms of Castille displayed on them, and of such length that their ends frequently touched the sea. It was a fine sight to see them thus sail off, as they steered for the coast of Galicia. In this same day, towards the evening, there came into La Rochelle a large body of men at arms, Gascons and English, who had not heard what had passed, but they knew that the Spaniards were lying before the town, and had done so for some time: they came, therefore, to reinforce it. The leaders of the Gascons were, the captal de Buch, sir Beras de la Lande, sir Peter de Landura, the souldich, sir Bertrand du Trane: of the English, lord Thomas Percy, sir Richard de Pontchardon, sir William Farrington, the earl of Angus, sir Baldwin Freville†, sir Walter Hewet, and sir John Devereux‡.
When these lords and their troops, which were full six hundred men, were arrived in La Rochelle, the inhabitants made appearance of being very glad to see them, for they dared not do otherwise. They learnt from sir James de Surgeres the event of the battle with the Spaniards, and the names of those killed and taken. The barons and knights were sorely 474 afflicted at this news, and thought themselves more unfortunate than they had ever yet been for not arriving sooner. They regretted much the loss of the earl of Pembroke and sir Guiscard d’Angle. I know not how many days they remained in La Rochelle, to consider what would be the best manner for them to conduct themselves, and whither they should march. We will leave them for a while, and speak of Evan of Wales, and of his exploits this season.
* The Mémoires de Du Guesclin say, that fire-ships were first used in this engagement by the Spaniards, and that by their means thirteen of he largest ships were destroyed. — Coll. Mémoires Historiques, vol. i. p. 432.
† “Sir Baldwin Freville” — had summons to parliament the 1st Edward III. See Dugdale. He was competitor for the office of champion at the coronation of Richard II. but the earl-marshal decided on the superior claim of the Dymocks. See Dugdale’s Warwickshire, where the pedigree is.
‡ “Sir John Devereux.” See Dugdale, From him are descended the viscounts Hereford, &c.
CHAPTER CCCVI. — EVAN OF WALES* DEFEATS THE ENGLISH OFF THE ISLAND OF GUERNSEY. — THE KING OF FRANCE SENDS HIM TO SPAIN TO SEEK FOR MEN AT ARMS, TO LAY SIEGE TO LA ROCHELLE.
EVAN of Wales was the son of a prince of Wales, whom king Edward, for some reason I am ignorant of, had put to death, and seized his territories and principality, which he had given to his son the prince of Wales. Evan went to France, to lay his complaints before king Charles of the injuries he had suffered from the king of England, by the death of his father and the seizure of his inheritance. The king of France had retained him in his service, and much advanced him, by giving him the command of a large body of men at arms. In this summer, he sent him to sea with four thousand fighting men, with whom he acquitted himself much to his honour, as you shall now hear.
When he took command of these men at arms, and vessels which the king of France had equipped and provided for him, he embarked in the port of Harfleur, and set full sail for England, making the island of Guernsey, which lies opposite to Normandy. Edmund Ross, squire of honour to the king of England, was then governor of that island. On hearing of the arrival of the French under the command of Evan, he was much angered, and advanced out to meet him. He issued his summons throughout the island, which is not large, and collected, as well of his own men as of the islanders, about eight hundred, with whom he gave battle. It was sharp and long; but the English, at last, were defeated, leaving upwards of four hundred dead on the field. Edmund was forced to fly, otherwise he must have been slain or taken. He escaped with great difficulty and saved himself in a handsome castle, called Cornet, situated at the distance of two leagues from the place where the battle had been fought, and which he had beforehand provided with every thing necessary for such a fortress. After this defeat, Even, having collected his army, and hearing that Edmund had retreated into Cornet castle, advanced thither, and invested it closely, giving frequent assaults; but the castle was strong and well provided with artillery, so that the French could not gain it.
It was during the time of this siege the unfortunate defeat and capture of the earl of Pembroke and sir Guiscard d’Angle happened before La Rochelle, which has been just related. The king of France, when he heard of the success of the Spaniards, was exceedingly rejoiced, and paid more attention than ever to the affairs of Poitou; for he thought, perhaps rightly enough, that if the English should have a few more such defeats, the cities and principal towns would willingly surrender to him. He therefore determined, with the advice of his council, to send the constable and all his men at arms into Poitou, Saintonge and the Rochellois, in order to carry on the war more briskly by sea and land, whilst the English party should be without a leader, for the whole country was wavering in its allegiance. He therefore sent messengers to Evan of Wales, who was lying before Cornet castle, as he was perfectly acquainted with the state of it, and knew it to be impregnable, ordering him instantly to break up the siege, and put to sea in a vessel equipped for him, and to make sail for Spain to prevail on king Henry to grant him boats and galleys, with his admirals 475 and men at arms, to blockade La Rochelle. Evan, on receiving the messengers with the king’s orders, promptly obeyed them, as was right; broke up the siege, and disbanded his men, lending them vessels to carry them to Harfleur. He himself immediately embarked on board a large ship, and made sail for Spain. Thus was the siege of Cornet castle raised.
* Among the members of the council of war whom Du Guesclin called, before he attacked St. Maure sur Loire, are Carenlouet capitaine de la Roche-Posay, Ivain de Galles, and another knight called the Poursuivant d’Amours. — Note 83d in the same vol. says, “This famous Poursuivant d’Amours was also called le chevalier Bauwen, most probably a Welshmen of the name of Bowen." But how is this to be reconciled with the preceding quotations? — See Mémoires de Du Guesclin, vol. iv. of the Historical Collection of French Memoirs, p. 397.
YOU must know that when the king of England heard of the defeat of the armament he had sent to Poitou, and that it had been overcome by the Spaniards, he was greatly afflicted; so were all those who were attached to him; but for the moment he could not amend it. The wisest in the kingdom imagined that this unfortunate business would cause the loss of the countries of Poitou and Saintonge; and they stated this as their opinion to the king and duke of Lancaster. They held many councils upon it. The earl of Salisbury was ordered thither with five hundred men at arms. However, notwithstanding this order, he never went; for other affairs came into agitation respecting Brittany, which prevented it from taking place. The king repented of this afterwards, when it was too late.
The Spaniards who had taken the earl of Pembroke and his companions were detained some little time at sea by contrary winds. They arrived at the port of St. Andero in Biscay, and entered the town about mid-day, when they conducted their prisoners to a strong castle, and fastened them with iron chains according to their usual custom; for the Spaniards know not how to show courtesy to their prisoners, but act like the Germans. Evan* of Wales had the same day arrived with his ship at St. Andero, and had entered the hôtel where don Fernando de Rosas and Cabesso de Vaccadent had conducted the earl of Pembroke and his knights. This was told to Evan in his apartment, saying: “Sir, come and see the English knights whom our people have made prisoners, they will enter this hôtel, for it is not long since they arrived.” Evan being very desirous of seeing them, to know who they were, went out. He met, on quitting his chamber, in the apartment of the landlord, the earl of Pembroke, whom he directly recognized, though he had scarcely ever seen him before. He addressed him in a reproachful manner: “Earl Pembroke, are you come into this country to do me homage for the lands you hold of me in the principality of Wales, of which I am the heir, and which your king has deprived me of, through the advice of evil counsellors?" The earl of Pembroke was much displeased and ashamed, feeling himself a prisoner in a strange country, to be thus apostrophised in his own language by one whom he did not know, and replied, “Who are you that you address me in such words?" Even answered, “I am Evan, son and heir of prince Edmund of Wales, whom your king wickedly and wrongfully put to death, and disinherited me afterwards. But I may perhaps be able, through the assistance of my very dear lord the king of France, to apply a remedy to this, and I will certainly then do so. I wish you to know, that if I can meet you in a proper place and time to offer you combat, I will show you the wrongs you have done me, as well as the earl of Hereford and Edward Spencer; for by your father and other evil counsellors was my lord and father betrayed, which ought to anger me, and I will be revenged of it whenever I may have an opportunity.”
Sir Thomas St. Aubin, who was one of the earl’s knights, stepped forward and eagerly said: “Evan, if you mean to say and maintain, that my lord has now, or at any other time, committed a dishonourable act, or that my lord his father has done so, or that he owes you any homage or anything else, throw down your glove and you will find one ready enough to take it up.” Evan replied: “You are a prisoner: I shall gain no honour in calling you out, for you are not your own master, but belong to those who have taken you: but when you have gained your liberty, I shall speak out more boldly, for things shall not remain as they 476 now are.” As he finished these words, some knights and Spanish men of valour got between them, and separated them. The four admirals did not, after this, make any long stay, but led their prisoners to Burgos, to deliver them up to the king of Spain, who at that time resided there.
When the king heard of their coming, and that they were near to Burgos, he sent his eldest son, John, who was called the Infanta of Castille, attended by a large company of knights and squires, to meet and to do them honour; for king Henry knew well that it became him so to act; and he himself paid them much attention, as soon as they were come into his presence. Shortly after, the king issued out his orders, when they were sent to different places in the kingdom of Castille.
* By every thing I can find, this Evan was an impostor — Llewellyn, the last prince of Wales, was treacherously slain, near Builth, in Edward I.’s reign. Probably the king of France knew this, but employed him in hopes of his assistance against England. — See Barnes and others.
[Llewellyn left only one legitimate child, a daughter, afterwards married to Malcolm earl of Fife; he also, it is said, left an illegitimate son called Madoc, but nothing is known of his history or fate; it is not improbable that this Evan was the son of Madoc. — ED.
WE will return to the affairs of Poitou, which at that time were not trifling matters, and say how those knights from England and Gascony acted who had come into La Rochelle at the feast of St. John the Baptist, as has been before related. They were exceedingly vexed they had not arrived there the preceding day, and been in time for the Spaniards. They held long councils how they should act, and which way they should advance, for they already had their suspicions of the loyalty of the Rochellers. They appointed sir John Devereux séneschal of La Rochelle, with three hundred men at arms for the defence of the castle, for as long as they should be masters of that, the town dared not to rebel. This business done, the captal de Buch, who commanded the expedition, lord Thomas Percy, the earl of Angus, sir Richard de Pontchardon, the souldich†, sir Beras de la Lande, and the others, with their men, marched from La Rochelle. About four hundred lances took the road for Soubise‡; for there were some Bretons near that place, who having taken possession of several churches and small forts, had fortified them: but as soon as these lords approached they fled, and the country was freed of such visitors.
At this time, the constable of France, the dukes of Berry and Bourbon, the count d’Alençon, the dauphin d’Auvergne, the lord Louis de Sancerre, the lords de Clisson and de Laval, the viscount de Rohan, the lord de Beaumanoir, and numbers of the barons of France, had taken the field, and were with the army in the countries of Anjou, Auvergne and Berry: in all, upwards of three thousand spears. Those lords who were under the immediate command of the constable advanced into Poitou, where they kept in a body, and then proceeded to lay siege to a castle called Monmorillon. On their arrival, they assaulted it briskly and gained it, putting all within to the sword. They reinforced it with another garrison. They then marched to Chauvigny§, on the river Creuse, and besieged it. They remained there two days, but on the third it surrendered, and the garrison was spared. They continued their march towards Lussac, where there is a town and castle, which surrendered immediately without waiting the assault. They advanced towards the city of Poitiers, and lay one night in the vineyards, which very much alarmed the city, as they were fearful of being besieged; but for this time they were free, for they marched off the following day, advancing towards Moncontour. John Cresswell and David Hollegrave commanded in the place, and had under them about sixty good companions, bold and hardy, who had very much harassed the surrounding countries of Anjou and Touraine, as well as all the French garrisons, so that the constable declared he would not undertake anything before he had gained this town.
* Monmorillon, — a town in Poitou, eleven leagues from Poitiers.
† Monseigneur le Souldich. — D. Sauvage..
‡ Soubise, — a town in Saintonge, six leagues from La Rochelle.
§ Chauvigny, — six leagues from Poitiers.
CHAPTER CCCIX. — THE CONSTABLE OF FRANCE TAKES MONCONTOUR BY A CAPITULATION. — HE MARCHES FROM THENCE TO FORM A JUNCTION WITH THE DUKE OF BERRY IN THE LIMOUSIN, WHEN THEY LAY SIEGE TO ST. SEVERE.
THE constable of France, the duke of Bourbon, the count d’Alençon, the lord de Clisson, the viscount de Rohan, the lords de Laval, de Beaumanoir and de Sully, with the others, advanced until they came before Moncontour, a handsome castle, six leagues from Poitiers. On their arrival, they began the siege, and made different assaults in good order; but, as the ditches were very deep round the walls, they could not easily approach. They ordered the peasants to cut timber and faggots which they caused to be drawn and thrown into them, and afterwards covered with straw and earth. Four days were taken up in doing this. When they had completed it, they began their attacks in earnest, and in a regular way. Those within defended themselves well, for they were masters of their profession; and they sustained the assault one whole day, when they had hard fighting, and were in great danger of being taken. On the sixth, the constable advanced himself with his Bretons in regular order, to make a fiercer assault than any of the former ones. Being covered with large shields, and armed with pick-axes and mattocks, they came up close to the walls, which they immediately battered, pulling out stones in various places, insomuch that the garrison began to be alarmed: they, however, defended themselves as well as ever garrison did.
John Cresswell and David Hollegrave, the governors, saw the peril they were in, and guessed that sir Bertrand, from this manner of proceeding, would not quit the place before he had conquered it; so that, should they be taken by assault, they would certainly be put to death; and, not seeing nor hearing of any succour coming to them, they opened a treaty to surrender the place, on their lives being spared. The constable, who did not wish to harass his own people, nor to push too far the garrison, whom he knew to be resolute men at arms, accepted the terms, and agreed they should leave the castle, taking nothing with them but gold or silver, and that they should be escorted to Poitiers. In this manner did the constable get the castle of Moncontour, of which he took possession, and had it well repaired. He remained in it to refresh himself and men, for he was not determined whither he should march next, to Poitiers or elsewhere.
When the news was known in the city of Poitiers, that the constable and his Bretons had retaken the castle of Moncontour, they were more alarmed than before, and immediately sent off messengers to lord Thomas Percy, their séneschal, who was on the expedition with the captal de Buch. At the same time that lord Thomas Percy received this information, sir John Devereux, who resided in the castle of La Rochelle, was told that the constable of France, having encamped before Poitiers, had reconnoitred the place, and that the inhabitants were the more afraid he would besiege it because their séneschal was absent. Sir John did not hear this intelligence with indifference, but set about to aid and comfort the Poitevins: he marched from La Rochelle, with only fifty lances, having appointed, on is departure, one of his squires, named Philip Mansel, governor of the castle until his return. He took the road to Poitiers, which he entered; and the citizens testified their obligations to him for it. The principal citizens who brought the news from Poitiers to lord Thomas Percy, serving in the captal’s army, begged of him to hasten thither; and as they expected an immediate siege, to bring with him as strong a force as he could, for the French army was very considerable. On hearing this, lord Thomas explained the business to the captal, to know what he would say to it. The captal, having considered it, was unwilling to break up his expedition, but gave lord Thomas Percy leave to go there: he set off, and on his arrival in Poitiers was received with great joy by the inhabitants, who were very desirous of having him among them. He found sir John Devereux there, and great feastings and rejoicings were made on the occasion.
All this was known to the constable, who had continued in Moncontour, and also that Poitiers had been reinforced with a body of men at arms. At the same time he heard from the duke of Berry, who commanded a large army in Auvergne, Berry, and Burgundy, upon 478 the borders of Limousin, that he was desirous of laying siege to St. Severe*; which town belonged to sir John Devereux, but was garrisoned, under his orders, by sir William Percy, Richard Gill, and Richard Orme, and a large body of men at arms, who had overrun the countries of Auvergne and Limousin, doing much mischief to both of them. The duke of Berry, on this account, wished to march thither, and therefore entreated the constable, if he had not any other views, that he would join him before St. Severe. The constable, who was very wise, prudent, and inventive in all his undertakings, considered that at that moment he could not expect success before Poitiers, even if he were to march his men thither; for the city had been greatly reinforced with men at arms: he therefore declared he would join the duke of Berry. He set out from Moncontour with his whole army after he had appointed a garrison to defend it, and joined the duke, who thanked him much for coming, as well as all his knights and squires. When this junction was formed, there was plenty of men at arms. The duke of Berry, in company with the constable, reconnoitred St. Severe: their force was about four thousand men at arms: they directly laid siege to the place, declaring they would not depart until they had possession of it. They began the siege with great vigour, and sir William Percy and his companions defended themselves equally well.
News was brought to sir John Devereux in the city of Poitiers, how the duke of Berry, the dauphin d’Auvergne, the constable of France, the lord de Clisson, the viscount de Rohan, with four thousand men at arms, were besieging his castle of St. Severe. He was very pensive on hearing this, and spoke to lord Thomas Percy, who was present when the intelligence came: “Lord Thomas, you are séneschal of this country, and have sufficient influence and power to do what I am about to request of you; which is, that you would advise and assist me in succouring my people, for unless they are reinforced they must be taken by assault.” “By my faith,” replied lord Thomas, “I have every inclination and good wish to assist you: and through love to you, I will set out, and speak to my lord the captal de Buch, who is not far distant. I will do all in my power to induce him to accompany us, to raise the siege, and to offer battle to the French.” They immediately set out from Poitiers, leaving the city under guard of the mayor of the place, whose name was John Regnault, a good and loyal man. These knights rode until they met the captal de Buch, in the plain, advancing towards St. Jean d’Angely. They remonstrated with him in a courteous manner, how the French had taken Monmorillon, near Poitiers, as well as the strong castle of Moncontour; and that they were now employed at the siege of St. Severe, which belonged to sir John Devereux, to whom certainly some good services were due. Besides, there were shut up in the castle, sir William Percy, Richard Gill, and Richard Orme, who were too valiant men to be lost.
The captal de Buch, having considered a moment replied, “Gentlemen, what is it you wish me to do?” Some knights who were near had been called to this council, and they replied: “It is now a long time since we have heard you express a strong desire for an opportunity of fighting with the French, you can never find a more favourable one than by hastening to St. Severe; and, if you will issue your summons to Anjou and Poitou, we shall have a sufficient number to combat the French with the good will we have to meet with them.” “By my faith,” answered the captal, “I wish nothing better; and we will soon measure our strength with theirs, if it please God and my lord St. George.” The captal immediately issued his summons to all barons, knights, and squires of Poitou and Saintonge attached to the English, entreating and enjoining them strictly to meet him, at a certain fixed place, armed and prepared in the best manner they could. Every knight and squire who received these letters made all possible dispatch to make himself ready, and took the field to meet the captal as speedily as he could. Among the principal were, the lord de Partenay, sir Louis de Harcourt, sir Hugh de Vinoue, sir Thomas his brother, sir Percival de Coulonge, sir Aimery de la Rochechouart, sir James de Surgeres, sir Geoffry d’Argenton, the lords de Puissances, de Roussillon, de Crupenac, sir John d’Angle, sir William de Montendre, and many other barons and knights: so that they mustered full nine hundred lances and five hundred archers.
* “St. Severe,” — a town in Saintonge, near Saintes.