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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. 501-517.
CHAPTER CCCXX. — THE EARL OF PEMBROKE AND HIS COMPANIONS ARE RANSOMED. — A SHORT TRUCE BETWEEN THE FRENCH AND THE ENGLISH. — BECHEREL SURRENDERS ON TERMS. — THE DEATH OF THE EARL OF PEMBROKE.
ABOUT this time there was an exchange made of the lands of the constable of France and sir Oliver de Mauny, which the king of Spain had given to them for their gallant services. The constable exchanged his estate of Soria in Castille for the earl of Pembroke, who had been made prisoner off La Rochelle. Sir Oliver de Mauny gave up his estate of Grette for sir Guiscard d’Angle and his nephew William, Otho de Grantson, John de Grinieres, and the lord de Tannaybouton.
Whilst this treaty was going forward, another was opened between the dukes of Anjou and of Lancaster, through the means of the two before-mentioned prelates. The duke of Lancaster sent, under passports, to the duke of Anjou at Perigord, (where he resided and governed as king or regent the lordships of England and France,) the canon de Robesart, and the lords William Hellunay and Thomas Douville. A truce was agreed on, between these dukes and their allies, until the last day of August: and they engaged themselves to be, in the month of September, in the country of Picardy, — the duke of Anjou at St. Omer, and the duke of Lancaster at Calais. After this truce, the dukes of Lancaster and of Brittany, the earls of Warwick, Suffolk, and Stafford, the lords de Spencer and Willoughby, the canon de Robesart, lord Henry Percy, the lord Manne*,with the other lords and knights, set out from Bordeaux the 8th day of July, and returned to England.
Sir John Appleyard and sir John Cornwall held their castle of Becherel for nearly a year against the French, who were closely besieging it, and had much constrained them; but not receiving any intelligence of succours coming to their assistance, and their provisions beginning to fail, they held a council whether it would not be advisable to offer terms for its surrender. They entered, therefore, into a treaty with the lords d’Hambuye, d’Estonville, de Blainville, de Frainville, and the barons of Normandy, who were quite tired with the siege having continued so long. But they would not conclude anything without the knowledge of the king of France. He consented, that if the duke of Brittany in person did not come in sufficient force before Becherel, by All-Saints-days next approaching, to raise the siege, the garrison should surrender on capitulation. Hostages were given to observe these terms.
The earl of Pembroke was ransomed for 120,000 francs, which the Lombards of Bruges agreed to pay when he should be arrived in good health at Bruges. The earl journeyed, under the passport of the constable, through the kingdom of France: but a fever, or some other sickness, overtook him on the road, so that he was obliged to travel in a litter unto the city of Arras, where his disorder increased so much as to occasion his death. The constable, 502 by this event, lost his ransom†. The earl of Pembroke left by his second wife, the lady Anne, daughter of sir Walter Manny, a fair son who at that time was two years old.
Sir Guiscard d’Angle obtained his ransom, as you shall hear. You remember that the lord de Roye remained prisoner in England: he had an only daughter, a great heiress. The friends of the lord de Roye entered into an agreement with sir Oliver de Mauny, a Breton knight, and nephew to sir Bertrand du Guesclin, that if he could deliver the lord de Roye from his prison by means of an exchange, he should have the daughter of the baron de Roye for his wife, who was of very high birth. Upon this, sir Oliver de Mauny sent to the king of England, to know which of the knights he would wish to have set at liberty for the lord de Roye. The king was most inclined for sir Guiscard d’Angle. The lord de Roye was therefore sent home free, and the lord de Mauny espoused his daughter. Shortly afterwards, the lord de Roye himself married the daughter of the lord de Ville and de Floron in Hainault. The other knights, that is to say, the lord de Tannaybouton, sir Otho de Grantson, and sir John de Grinieres, obtained their liberties, and compounded in a handsome manner for their ransom with sir Oliver de Mauny.
* Q. Maine.
† The constable carried on, for three years, a fruitless lawsuit with the Flemish merchants for this ransom, which they refused to pay. He at length gave up his claim to the king of France for 50,000 francs. — Hist. de Brétagne.
CHAPTER CCCXXI. — SEVERAL TOWNS IN GASCONY SURRENDER TO THE KING OF FRANCE. — SIR HUGH DE CHASTILLON RETURNS FROM PRISON. — THE CASTLE OF BECHEREL SURRENDERS TO THE FRENCH.
WHEN the middle of August approached, which was the appointed time for the meeting before Monsac, the duke of Anjou arrived with a grand array of men at arms. He fixed his quarters in the plain before Monsac, where he was lodged for six days without any one coming to meet him. The English thought that the truce which had been entered into would have annulled this agreement. But the duke of Anjou and his council did not consider it in this light. Sir Thomas Felton, séneschal of Bordeaux, argued the matter for a long time; but he could not gain anything. The duke, therefore, sent to the count de Foix, the viscount de Châtel-Bon, to the lords de Marsen, de Chateauneuf, de l’Escut, and to the abbot de St. Silvier, to summon them to keep their agreements, or he would put to death their hostages, and enter their lands in such a manner as would oblige them to throw themselves on his mercy. These lords, therefore, placed themselves and their lands under the obedience of the king of France. The inhabitants of Monsac opened their gates, and presented the keys to the duke of Anjou, doing to him fealty and homage. The lords who attended the duke entered the town with him, where they remained for eighteen days; during which time they held councils as to what part they should next march.
Shortly after the middle of August, when the truces which had been entered into between the English and French in Gascony were expired, these lords recommenced the war. The duke of Anjou came before la Réole*; and, after three days’ siege, the inhabitants submitted to the king of France. From thence he marched to Langon†, which also surrendered; as did St. Macaire‡, Condom§, Basille¶, la Tour de Prudence, Mauleon¥, and la Tour de Drou. Full forty towns and castles turned to the French in this expedition: the last was Auberoche**. The duke of Anjou placed in all of them men at arms and garrisons: and, when he had arranged everything according to his pleasure, he and his constable returned to Paris, for the king had sent for them. He dismissed, therefore, the greater part of his army: and the lords de Clisson, de Beaumanoir, d’Avaugour, de Ray, de Riom, the viscounts de la Val, de Rohan, and the other barons, returned to the siege of Becherel, to be ready at 503 the time appointed; for it was reported that the duke of Brittany, sir Robert Knolles, and the lord de Spencer would attempt to raise the siege.
You have before heard how sir Hugh de Châtillon, master of the cross-bows, had been made prisoner near Abbeville, by sir Nicholas Louvain, and carried into England: he was unable to obtain his liberty on account of the large sum asked for his ransom: however, a Flemish merchant stepped forward, and exerted himself so effectually that he cunningly got him out of England. It would take too much time to enter into the whole detail of this business; therefore, I shall pass it over. When he was returned to France, the king gave him back his office of master of the cross-bows, and sent him to Abbeville, as he had before done, to guard that frontier, with two hundred lances under his command. All the captains of castles and towns were ordered to obey him; such as John de Berthouilliers governor of Boulogne, sir Henry des Isles governor of Dieppe, and those who commanded in the frontier towns of Terouenne, St. Omer, Liques, Fiennes, and Montroye.
It happened that the lord de Gommegines, governor of Ardres, and sir John d’Ubrues, collected their forces in Ardres, to the amount of about eight hundred lances. They marched, one morning early, well mounted, towards Boulogne, to see if they should meet with any adventures. That same morning, sir John de Berthouilliers, governor of Boulogne, had also made an excursion, with about sixty lances, towards Calais, and with the same intent. On his return, he was met by the lord de Gommegines and his party, who immediately charged the French, and overthrew them, so that their captain saved himself with great difficulty, but lost fourteen of his lancemen. The lord de Gommegines, after the pursuit, returned to Ardres.
The master of the cross-bows this day made a muster of his forces: he had with him a great number of men at arms from Artois, Vermandois, and from that neigbourhood: in all, upwards of three hundred lances. The count de St. Pol, who had lately come to Picardy from his estates in Lorraine, was on his road to fulfil a pilgrimage to our Lady of Boulogne: he was informed on his way, that the master of the cross-bows was about to undertake an excursion, which made him wish to be of the party: they therefore rode together and advanced before Ardres, where they remained drawn up for some time; but they knew nothing of the English being abroad, nor the English of them.
After the French had continued some time before Ardres, and saw that none attempted to sally from the town, they began their retreat towards the abbey of Liques. No sooner had they marched away than an Englishman privately left the place, and rode through lanes and cross-roads (for he knew the country well) until he met the lord de Gommegines and his party returning to Ardres, who, when he learnt the expedition of the French, slowly advanced with his men in a compact body. When the French had passed Tournehem, having also had intelligence of the English being abroad under the command of the governor of Ardres, they immediately marched towards them, and placed an ambuscade in a coppice, above Liques, of three hundred lances, of which sir Hugh de Châtillon was the captain. The young count de St. Pol was ordered forward on the look-out, and with him went many knights and squires. Not far distant, by the side of a large hedge, the lord de Gommegines and sir Walter Ukeues†† had halted, and drawn up their force on foot in a very handsome manner. Sir John Harlestone set off on a gallop, with twenty lances, to entice the French into this ambuscade, saying he would allow himself to be pursued to the place where they were: he therefore entered the plain. The young count de St. Pol, who was arrived thither with a hundred lances, spying sir John Harlestone’s troops, called out to his companions, “Forward, forward! here are our enemies.” Upon which they stuck spurs into their horses, and hastened as fast as they could to come up with the English. But sir John Harlestone began his retreat, allowing them to pursue him until he came to the hedge where the English were drawn up, with their archers in front. On the arrival of the French, the English received them with battle-axes, swords, and spears: the archers began so brisk an attack that men and horses were overthrown. Many gallant deeds were done; but in the end the French were surrounded, and the greater part slain. The young count de St. Pol was made prisoner by a squire of Gueldres: the lords de Pons and de Clary, sir William 504 de Nielle, sir Charles de Châtillon, Leonnet d’Araines, Guy de Vaisnel, Henry des Isles and John his brother, the chatelain de Beauvais, and several other knights and squires, were also captured.
Shortly after this defeat, the lord de Châtillon came, with his banner and three hundred lances, to the path of the hedge; but, when he saw that his men were defeated, he wheeled about with his troops, and returned without striking a blow: upon this, the English and Hainaulters led their prisoners to the town of Ardres. The lord de Gommegines, that evening, bought the count de St. Pol from the squire who had taken him: he soon after carried him to England, and presented him to the king, who thanked him kindly for so doing, and made him great presents.
When the duke of Anjou and the constable were returned to Paris from Gascony, they found the archbishop of Rouen and the bishop of Carpentras had been some time with the king. These prelates continued their journey, and arrived at St. Omer. The duke of Lancaster and the lord Bacinier had crossed the sea to Calais, and from thence went to Bruges. The duke of Anjou soon after came to St. Omer in grand array, and sent for his cousin sir Guy de Blois to meet him, who left Hainault handsomely equipped to wait on the duke. The constable of France, the lords de Clisson, de la Val, and sir Oliver de Mauny, with upwards of six hundred lances, had posted themselves on the frontiers between France and Flanders, near to Aire, La Croix, Bailleul, Cassel, and in that neigbourhood, to guard the country, and to prevent any injury being offered to the count of Flanders; for he had not any great confidence in the negotiators, nor would he go to Bruges notwithstanding their earnest solicitations.
You have before heard how the garrison of Becherel had held out for upwards of a year, and had entered into a capitulation to surrender, if they were not relieved before All-Saints-day. When the day was near approaching, the king of France ordered thither many men at arms: and all the knights of Brittany and Normandy were entreated to be there, except such as were with the constable. The two marshals of France, the lord Louis de Sancerre and lord Mouton de Blainville, the earl of Harcourt, sir James de Vienne admiral of France, the dauphin of Auvergne, sir John de Bueil and several more, arrived before Becherel. These lords kept the day with great solemnity; but as none appeared to relieve the castle, it was surrendered, and those who were so inclined left it. Sir John Appleyard and sir John Cornwall marched out with their men, embarked and crossed over to England. The barons of France took possession of the place, which they repaired, re-victualled and reinforced with men, provision and artillery.
By orders from the king of France, these men at arms shortly after laid siege to St. Sauveur le Vicomte in Coutantin, which had belonged to sir John Chandos; and after his death the king of England had given it to sir Aleyne Boxhull, who at that time was in England: he had left there as governor a squire called Carenton‡‡, with sir Thomas Cornet, John de Burgh, and the three brothers Maulevriers: there might be with them about six score companions, all armed and ready for defence. St. Sauveur was first besieged on the side next the sea by sir John de Vienne admiral of France, with all the barons and knights of Brittany and Normandy. There was also a large army before it, with plenty of everything. These lords of France had pointed large engines against it, which much harassed the garrison.
* “La Réole,” — a town in Bazadois, eighteen leagues and a half from Bordeaux.
† “Langon,” — a town in Bazadois, six leagues from Bordeaux.
‡ “St. Macaire,” — nine leagues from Bordeaux.
§ “Condom,” — a city of Gascony, four leagues from the Garonne.
¶ “Basille.” Not in Gazetteer.
¥ “Mauléon,” — a town in Armagnac, diocese of Aire.
** Auberoche,” — — a town in Perigord, near Perigueux.
†† He is before called sir John d’Ubrues.
‡‡ Probably Carrington.
CHAPTER CCCXXII. — A TRUCE AGREED ON AT BRUGES BETWEEN THE KINGS OF FRANCE AND ENGLAND. — THE DUKE OF BRITTANY RETIRES TO HIS OWN COUNTRY, AND REGAINS SOME OF HIS TOWNS AND CITIES.
WE will now return to the noble negotiators at Bruges, that is to say, the dukes of Anjou* and Burgundy, the count de Saltzbourg, the bishop of Amiens, the elected bishop of Bayeux; 505 the duke of Lancaster, the earl of Salisbury and the bishop of London†. In order that no harm might happen to these lords, nor to their people, who were going from one to the other, it was agreed there should be a truce, to last to the first of May, 1375, in all the country between Calais and the river Somme; but that it should not interfere with the other parts of the country now at war. Upon this being done, the lords de Clisson and de la Val were sent back to Brittany with their forces, to assist in guarding that country and the neighbouring frontiers.
During the time these negotiations were going forward at Bruges, the duke of Brittany, as has before been said, remained in England, where he felt much for the distress of his country, the greater part of which had turned against him: his duchess also was besieged and shut up in the castle of Auray. The duke, while he resided with the king of England, was very melancholy: upon which the king, who much loved him, said: “Fair son, I well know that through your affection to me, you have put into the balance, and risked, a handsome and noble inheritance: but be assured that I will recover it for you again, for I will never make peace with the French without your being reinstated.” On hearing these fine promises, the duke bowed respectfully to the king and humbly thanked him. Soon after this conversation, the duke of Brittany assembled at Southampton two thousand men at arms and three thousand archers, who all received their pay for half a year in advance, by orders from the king of England‡. Among the commanders were the earls of Cambridge and March, the lord de Spencer, sir Thomas Holland, sir Nicholas Camoire, sir Edward Twyford, sir Richard de Pontchardon, sir John Lesley, sir Thomas Grantson, sir Hugh Hastings, the lords de Manne§ and de la Pole, with many other knights and squires.
The duke and all his men at arms arrived at St. Matthieu de Fine Poterne in Brittany, where, after they had disembarked, they attacked the castle very sharply. This castle was out of the town, and ill supplied with men and artillery, so that the English took it by storm, and slew all who were in it. When the inhabitants of the town were informed of this, they opened their gates, and received the duke as their lord. The English next advanced to the town of St. Pol de Léon, which was strong and well inclosed. The duke took his station; and, during a marvellously well conducted attack, the archers, who were posted on the banks of the ditches, shot so excellently, and so much together, that scarcely any dared appear to defend them: the town was therefore taken and pillaged. After this, they came before St. Brieu, which at that time was well provided with men at arms and all other provisions and stores: for the lords de Clisson, de Beaumanoir, the viscount de Rohan, and many other barons of Brittany, whose quarters were at Lamballe, had lately been there and had reinforced it with every thing necessary. The duke and the English besieged this town.
When the garrison of St. Sauveur le Vicomte heard that the duke of Brittany and the English lords were arrived in Brittany, they expected them to come and raise their siege; which they much desired, for they were greatly straitened by the engines, which day and night cast stones into the castle, so that they knew not where to retire to avoid them. Having called a council, they resolved to make overtures to the French lords, to obtain a truce for six weeks, until Easter, 1375; and proposed, that if within that time there should not come any relief, which might be sufficient to offer battle and raise the siege, they would surrender themselves, their lives and fortunes being spared, and the fortress should be given up to the king of France. This treaty went off, and the siege continued; but no harm was further done to those of St. Sauveur, for the besiegers and garrison were both inactive.
* The historian of Languedoc says, the duke of Anjou was not present at this meeting, but in Avignon; and that, when the treaty was concluded, the duke of Burgundy sent from Bruges orders for the séneschal of Beaucaire to publish it. — Vol. iv. p. 357. Passports were, however, granted to the duke of Anjou, by Edward, to come to Bruges, and are to be found in Rymer.
† In addition, there were, sir John Cobham, sir Frank van Hall, sir Arnold Savage, and master John Shepeye and master Simon Multon, doctors of laws. — See their warrant in Rymer.
‡ Edward nominated the earl of Cambridge conjointly with the duke of Brittany, his lieutenants in France, with full powers to act as they pleased, without prejudice to the rights of the duke or to the patrimony of the church, dated 24th November, 1374. — See Rymer.
§ Q. Maine.
CHAPTER CCCXXIII. — SOME BRETON LORDS OF THE FRENCH PARTY ARE NEAR BEING TAKEN BY THE DUKE OF BRITTANY, BUT ARE DELIVERED BY THE TRUCES AT BRUGES.
THE viscount de Rohan, the lords de Clisson and de Beaumanoir, were guarding the frontiers against the duke of Brittany and the English, at that time before St. Brieu. Sir John Devereux was then quartered near to Quimperlé, and was destroying that part of the country: he had caused to be repaired and fortified by the peasants a small fort which had made his garrison, and called it the New Fort, in which he resided, so that none could venture out of the town without risk of being taken. This information the townsmen of Quimperlé sent to the lord de Clisson and the other lords at Lamballe. They marched immediately thither, leaving a sufficiency of men to guard that town, and rode on until they came before this new fort, which they surrounded. News of this was carried to the British army before St. Brieu. The duke had ordered a mine to be sprung, which they had worked at for fifteen days; but at that moment the miners had lost their point, so that it was necessary for them to begin another: which when the duke and the lords of his army heard, they said among themselves; “Every thing considered, we are but losing time here: let us go to the assistance of sir John Devereux, and if we shall be able to fall in with those who are besieging him in the open field, we shall perform a good exploit. Upon this, they held a council, and marched off, taking the road for the new fort, which the lords of Brittany were then assaulting. They had done so much that they were already at the foot of the walls, and dreaded not what might be thrown down upon them; for they were well shielded, but those within the fort had not wherewithal to annoy them in that manner.
Just at this instant a scout came with speed to the lords of Brittany who were busy at the assault, saying, “My lords, make off in haste from hence; for the English are coming with the duke of Brittany, and they are not more than two leagues off.” The trumpet sounded a retreat: they collected themselves together, called for their horses, set off, and entered Quimperlé which was hard by. They closed the gates; but scarcely had they raised the draw-bridges, and strengthened the barriers, when the duke of Brittany with the barons of England were before it. They had passed by the new fort, and spoken with sir John Devereux, who thanked them exceedingly for coming, otherwise he must have been very shortly made prisoner. The duke and the English formed the siege of Quimperlé, and ordered their archers and foot soldiers, well shielded, to advance, when a sharp attack commenced; for the English, as well as those in the town, were very determined: so that there were many wounded on both sides. Every day there were such skirmishes and assaults that those in the town saw they should not be able to hold out much longer, and there did not seem any likelihood of their receiving assistance. They could not escape any way without being seen, so well was the town surrounded: and if they should be taken by storm, they doubted if they should receive any quarter, more especially the lord de Clisson, for he was much hated by the English.
These lords of Brittany opened a treaty with the duke to surrender; but they wanted to depart on a moderate ransom, and the duke would have them surrender unconditionally: they could only obtain a respite for eight days, and that with very great difficulty. This respite, however, turned out very fortunate to them; for during that time two English knights, sir Nicholas Carswell and sir Walter Ourswick*, sent by the duke of Lancaster from Bruges, where he had remained the whole winter, arrived at the army of the duke of Brittany. They brought with them deeds engrossed and sealed of the truces entered into between the kings of France and England. The duke of Lancaster sent orders, that in consequence of the treaty of Bruges, the army should be disbanded without delay. The truce was immediately read and proclaimed through the army, and signified also to those who were within Quimperlé. The lords de Clisson, de Rohan, and de Beaumanoir, and the others, were much rejoiced thereat, for it came very opportunely.
The siege of Quimperlé being raised, the duke of Brittany disbanded all his troops, except those of his household, and went to Auray, where his duchess was. The earls of Cambridge 507 and of March, sir Thomas Holland earl of Kent, the lord de Spencer, and the other English, returned home. When the duke of Brittany had settled his affairs at his leisure, and had reinforced the towns and castles of Brest and Auray with artillery and provisions, he set out from Brittany with his duchess, and went for England.
* Sir Nicholas Charnels — sir Walter Urswick. — Barnes.
CHAPTER CCCXXIV. —— ST. SAUVEUR LE VICOMTE SURRENDERS TO THE FRENCH. — THE LORD DE COUCY LEADS A LARGE ARMY INTO AUSTRIA, WHICH HE CLAIMS AS HIS INHERITANCE.
ON the day in which the truces were concluded at Bruges between the kings of France and of England, to last for one whole year, including their allies, the dukes of Lancaster and Burgundy again swore they would return thither on All-Saints-day. Each party was to keep, during this truce, whatever he was then in possession of. The English thought that the capitulation respecting St. Sauveur le Vicomte would be voided by this treaty; but the French would not allow of this, and said the treaty did not affect the prior engagement concerning it: so that, when the day arrived for its surrender, the king of France sent troops thither from all quarters. There were assembled before it upwards of six thousand knights and squires, without counting the others: but no succour came to its relief, and when the day was expired, St. Sauveur was given up to the French, but most unwillingly, for the fortress was very convenient for the English. The governor sir Thomas Cornet, John de Burgh, the three brothers Maulevriers, and the English, went to Carentan, where having embarked all which belonged to them, they sailed for England*. The constable of France reinforced the town and castle of St. Sauveur le Vicomte with a new garrison, and appointed a Breton knight as governor. I heard at the time, that the king of France gave him the lordship of it.
The lord de Coucy at this period returned to France: he had been a long time in Lombardy with the count de Vertus†, son of the lord Galeas Visconti, and had made war on lord Bernabo Visconti and his allies, for the cause of the church and of Gregory XI. who at that time was pope, and for the holy college of Rome. The lord de Coucy, in right of succession to the lady his mother, who was sister to the duke of Austria last deceased, was the true heir of that duchy. The last duke did not leave any child by legal marriage, and the inhabitants of Austria had disposed of the estate in favour of a relation, but farther removed than the lord de Coucy. This lord had frequently complained of such conduct to the emperor, the lord Charles of Bohemia. The emperor readily acknowledged the lord de Coucy’s right: but he could not compel the Austrians to do the same, who were in great force in their own country, and had plenty of men at arms. The lord de Coucy had gallantly carried on the war against them several times, through the aid of one of his aunts, sister to the aforesaid duke; but he had not gained much. On the lord de Coucy’s return to France, the king entertained him handsomely. Having considered there were numbers of men at arms in France then idle, on account of the truce between the French and English, he entreated the king to assist him in obtaining the free companies of Bretons, who were overrunning and harassing the kingdom, for him to lead them into Austria. The king, who wished these companies any where but in his kingdom, readily assented to his request. He lent, or gave, I know not which, sixty thousand francs, in order to get rid of these companions. They began their march towards Austria about Michaelmas, committing many ravages wherever they passed. Many barons, knights, and squires of France, Artois, Vermandois, Hainault, and Picardy, such as the viscounts de Meaux and d’Aunay, sir Raoul de Coucy, the baron de Roye, Pierre de Bar, and several others, offered their services to the lord de Coucy. His army was increased by all those who wished to advance themselves in honour.
* Froissart has forgotten to add sir Thomas Carington among the governors of St. Sauveur le Vicomte. Nothing was said against him until the reign of Richard II. when he was accused of having treacherously given up this place by sir John Annesley, who had married sir John Chandos’ niece: he challenged him to single combat, fought and vanquished him in the lists, formed in Palace-yard in the presence of the king. He was afterwards drawn to Tyburn, and there hanged for his treason. — See Dugdale, Fabian, &c.
† John Galeas Visconti, first duke of Milan, bore the title of count de Vertus, until Wenceslaus, king of the Romans, invested him with the ducal dignity 1395. He gained, by treachery, possession of his uncle Bernabo, and put him to death by poison. — For further particulars, see Muratori and Corio.
CHAPTER CCCXXV. — THE TRUCE BETWEEN FRANCE AND ENGLAND IS PROLONGED. — THE DEATH OF THE BLACK PRINCE. — THE LORD DE COUCY RETURNS, HAVING HAD INDIFFERENT SUCCESS.
WHEN the feast of All-Saints was drawing near, the duke of Burgundy, the count de Saltzbourg, the bishops of Amiens, and of Bayeux, came to Bruges by orders of the king of France, to hold a conference. The duke of Anjou staid at St. Omer, where he continued the whole time. From the king of England there came, the dukes of Lancaster and Brittany, the earl of Salisbury and the bishop of London: so that the town of Bruges was well filled by their retinues, more especially by that of the duke of Burgundy, who kept a most noble and grand state. Sir Robert de Namur resided with the duke of Lancaster, and showed him every attention as long as he remained in Flanders.
The ambassadors from the pope, the archbishop of Rouen and the bishop of Carpentras, were also there, who went to and fro to each party, proposing different terms for an accommodation, but without any effect; for these lords, in their first parley, were too much divided to come to any agreement. The king of France demanded repayment of fourteen hundred thousand francs which had been given for king John’s ransom, and that the town of Calais should be dismantled. This the king of England would never consent to. The truces were therefore prolonged until the feast of St. John the Baptist in the year 1376. The lords remained all that winter in Bruges, and some time longer. In the summer, each returned to his own country, except the duke of Brittany: he continued in Flanders with his cousin the count Lewis, who entertained him handsomely.
In this year, on Trinity-Sunday, that flower of English knighthood the lord Edward of England, prince of Wales and of Aquitaine, departed this life in the palace of Westminster 509 near London. His body was embalmed, placed in a leaden coffin and kept until the ensuing Michaelmas, in order that he might be buried with greater pomp and magnificence when the parliament assembled in London*.
King Charles of France, on account of his lineage, had funeral service for the prince performed with great magnificence, in the holy chapel of the palace in Paris, which was attended, according to the king’s orders, by many prelates and nobles of the realm of France.
The truces, through the mediation of the ambassadors, were again prolonged until the first day of April.
We will now say something of the lord de Coucy and the Germans. When those of Austria and Germany heard that he was advancing with so strong a force to carry on the war against them, they burnt and destroyed three days’ march of country by the river side, and then they retreated to their mountains and inaccessible places. The men at arms, of whom the lord de Coucy was the leader, expected to find plenty of forage, but they met with nothing: they suffered all this winter very great distress, and knew not in what place to seek provision for themselves, or forage for their horses, who were dying of cold, hunger and disorders: for this reason, when spring came, they returned to France, and separated into different troops to recruit themselves. The king of France sent the greater part of the companies into Brittany and lower Normandy, as he imagined he should have occasion for their services.
The lord de Coucy, on his return into France, began to think of becoming a good and true Frenchman; for he had found the king of France very kind and attentive to his concerns. His relationship to the king made him consider it was not worth his while to risk the loss of his inheritance, for so slender a reason as the war with the king of England; for he was a Frenchman by name, arms, blood, and extraction. He therefore sent the lady his wife to England, and kept with him only the eldest of his two daughters: the youngest had been left in England, where she had been educated. The king of France sent the lord de Coucy to attend the negotiations carrying on at Bruges, which continued all the winter. None of the great lords were there, except the duke of Brittany, who had staid with his cousin the count of Flanders; but he entered very little into the business.
* The prince of Wales was buried in the cathedral at Canterbury — For particulars, see Mr. Gough’s Sepulchral Monuments.
CHAPTER CCCXXVI. — RICHARD, SON OF THE PRINCE OF WALES, IS ACKNOWLEDGED AS PRESUMPTIVE HEIR TO THE CROWN OF ENGLAND. — THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE HAVING FAILED, AND THE TRUCES EXPIRED, THE WAR IS RENEWED BETWEEN THE FRENCH AND ENGLISH.
AFTER the feast of Michaelmas, when the funeral of the prince had been performed in a manner suitable to his birth and merit, the king of England caused the young prince Richard to be acknowledged as his successor to the crown after his decease, by all his children, the duke of Lancaster, the earl of Cambridge, the lord Thomas his youngest son, as well as by all the barons, earls, prelates, and knights of England. He made them solemnly swear to observe this; and on Christmas-day he had him seated next to himself, above all his children, in royal state, that it might be seen and declared he was to be king of England after his death.
The lord John Cobham, the bishop of Hereford, and the dean of London, were at this time sent to Bruges on the part of the English. The French had sent thither the count de Saltzbourg, the lord de Châtillon, and master Philibert l’Espiote. The prelates, ambassadors from the pope, had still remained there, and continued the negotiations for peace. They treated of a marriage between the young son of the prince and the lady Mary, daughter of the king of France: after which the negotiators of each party separated, and reported what they had done to their respective kings.
About Shrovetide, a secret treaty was formed between the two kings for their ambassadors to meet at Montreuil-sur-mer; and the king of England sent to Calais sir Guiscard d’Angle, 510 sir Richard Sturey, and sir Geoffry Chaucer. On the part of the French were, the lords de Coucy and de la Rivieres, sir Nicholas Bragues and Nicholas Bracier. They for a long time discussed the subject of the above marriage; and the French, as I was informed, made some offers, but the others demanded different terms, or refused treating. These lords returned therefore, with their treaties, to their sovereigns; and the truces were prolonged to the first of May. The earl of Salisbury, the bishop of St. David’s chancellor of England, and the bishop of Hereford, returned to Calais; and with them, by orders of the king of France, the lord de Coucy, and sir William de Dormans chancellor of France.
Notwithstanding all that the prelates could say or argue, they never could be brought to fix upon any place* to discuss these treaties between Montreuil and Calais, nor between Montreuil and Boulogne, nor on any part of the frontiers; these treaties, therefore, remained in an unfinished state. When the war recommenced, sir Hugh Calverley was sent governor of Calais.
* They durst never trust to meet together in any place between Montreuil and Calais, &c. — Lord Berners.
CHAPTER CCCXXVII. — POPE GREGORY XI. LEAVES AVIGNON, AND RETURNS TO ROME. — ON THE DEATH OF EDWARD III. RICHARD, SON OF THE LATE PRINCE OF WALES, IS CROWNED KING OF ENGLAND.
WHEN pope Gregory XI. who had for a long time resided at Avignon, was informed there was not any probability of a peace being concluded between the two kings, he was very melancholy, and, having arranged his affairs, set out for Rome, to hold there his seat of government.
The duke of Brittany, finding the war was to be renewed, took leave of his cousin the count of Flanders, with whom he had resided upwards of a year, and rode towards Gravelines, where the earl of Salisbury and sir Guiscard d’Angle, with a body of men at arms and archers, came to meet him, to escort him to Calais, where the duke tarried a month: he then crossed over to England and went to Shene, a few miles from London, on the river Thames, where the king of England lay dangerously ill: he departed this life the vigil of St. John the Baptist, in the year 1377. Upon this event England was in deep mourning. 511 Immediately all the passes were shut, so that no one could go out of the country; for they did not wish the death of the king should be known in France, until the had settled the government of the kingdom. The earl of Salisbury and sir Guiscard d’Angle returned at this time to England.
The body of king Edward was carried in grand possession, followed by his children in tears, and by the nobles and prelates of England, through the city of London, with his face uncovered, to Westminster, where he was buried by the side of his lady the queen.
Shortly afterward, in the month of July, the young king Richard, who was in his eleventh year, was crowned with great solemnity at the palace of Westminster: he was supported by the dukes of Lancaster and Brittany. He created that day four earls and nine knights; namely, his uncle the lord Thomas of Woodstock earl of Buckingham, the lord Percy earl of Northumberland, sir Guiscard d’Angle earl of Huntingdon, and the lord Mowbray earl of Nottingham. The young king was placed under the tutorship of that accomplished knight sir Guiscard d’Angle, with the approbation of all, to instruct him in the paths of virtue and honour. The duke of Lancaster had the government of the kingdom.
As soon as the king of France learnt the death of king Edward, he said that he had reigned most nobly and valiantly, and that his name ought to be remembered with honour 512 among heroes. Many nobles and prelates of his realm were assembled, to perform his obsequies with due respect, in the Holy Chapel of the Palace at Paris. Shortly after, Madame, the eldest daughter of the king of France, died. She had been betrothed to that gallant youth William of Hainault, eldest son of duke Albert.
CHAPTER CCCXXVIII. —THE KING OF FRANCE EQUIPS FOR SEA A LARGE FLEET, WHICH BURNS SEVERAL TOWNS IN ENGLAND.
DURING the negotiations for peace, the king of France had been very active in providing ships and galleys: the king of Spain had sent him his admiral, sir Fernando Sausse, who, with sir John de Vienne, admiral of France, had sailed for the port of Rye, which they burnt, five days after the decease of king Edward, the vigil of St. Peter, in June, and put to death the inhabitants, without sparing man or woman. Upon the news of this event coming to London, the earls of Cambridge and Buckingham were ordered to Dover with a large body of men at arms. The earl of Salisbury and sir John Mountague, on the other hand, were sent to the country near Southampton.
After this exploit, the French landed in the Isle of Wight. They afterwards burnt the following towns: Portsmouth, Dartmouth, Plymouth*, and several others. When they had pillaged and burnt all in the Isle of Wight, they embarked and put to sea, coasting the shores until they came to a port called Poq†. The earl of Salisbury and sir John Mountague defended the passage, but they burnt a part of the town of Poq. They again embarked, and coasted towards Southampton, attempting every day to land; but the earl of Salisbury and his forces, who followed them along the shore, prevented them from so doing. The fleet then came before Southampton; but sir John Arundel, with a large body of men at arms and archers, guarded well the town, otherwise it would have been taken. The French made sail from thence towards Dover, and landed near to the abbey of Lewes, where there were great numbers of the people of the country assembled. They appointed the abbot of Lewes, sir Thomas Cheney, and sir John Fuselee their leaders, who drew up in good array to dispute their landing, and to defend the country. The French had not the advantage, but lost several of their men, as well might happen. However, the better to maintain the fight, they made the land, when a grand skirmish ensued, and the English, being forced to retreat, were finally put to flight. Two hundred at least were slain, and the two knights, with the abbot of Lewes, made prisoners.
The French re-embarked, and remained at anchor before the abbey all that night. They then heard, for the first time, from their prisoners, the death of king Edward and the coronation of king Richard, and also a part of the regulations of the kingdom, and that great numbers of men at arms were under orders to march to the coast. Sir John de Vienne despatched a sloop to Harfleur, where there was a knight in waiting, who immediately rode to Paris to the king, and reported to him such intelligence respecting the death of king Edward that he was convinced of its truth.
The French and Spaniards put to sea, and having the wind favourable, came with an easy sail that same tide, about the hour of nine, before Dover. They amounted in all to about six score galleys. At that time there were in Dover the earls of Cambridge and Buckingham, with immense numbers of men at arms and archers, who, with a hundred thousand common men, were waiting for the arrival of the French, drawn up before the port with displayed banners, for they had seen them at a distance, and they were continually joined by people from the country who had noticed this large fleet.
The French came before the harbor, but did not enter it, making for deep water, as the tide began to ebb. Notwithstanding this, the English continued strict guard all that day and following night. The French who were on the sea came with the next tide before Calais‡, to the great surprise of the inhabitants, who closed their gates against them.
* Lamende, Dartemode, Plemende, Plesume. — D. Sauvage.
† Q. if not Pool.
‡ Lord Berners says, The Frenchmen with the next tide came before the haven of Calais, and there entered. — ED.
CHAPTER CCCXXIX. —THE TOWN OF ARDRES SURRENDERED TO THE FRENCH. — THE DEATHS OF THE CAPTAL DE BUCH AND OF THE QUEEN OF FRANCE.
WHILE these things were passing, sir Hugh Calverley, governor of Calais, sir John Harlestone, governor of Guines, and the lord de Gommegines, governor of Ardres, made very frequent excursions into Picardy; three or four in every week. They advanced often before St. Omer, Arques, Mouton, Fiennes, and the towns in that neighbourhood, as well as to Boulogne and near to Terouenne, which was particularly molested by the garrison of Ardres. Complaints of them had frequently been made to the king of France. On asking how this was to be prevented, he was answered, “Sire, the garrison of Ardres is not so strong but it may be won.” The king replied, “Have it then we will, whatever it may cost us.” He soon after issued a secret summons, and it was not guessed to what part he intended sending this army, of which he made the duke of Burgundy general. There were in it twenty-five hundred lances of good and hardy men. They marched suddenly to the castle of Ardres, which they invested. With the duke of Burgundy were the count de Guines, the marshal de Blainville, the lords de Clisson and de la Val, de Rougement, de la Riviere, de Bregide, de Frainville, d’Ainville, d’Ancoing, de Rayneval, and d’Angest, sir James de Bourbon, the séneschal of Hainault, with many other knights and barons. They had with them machines that cast stones of two hundred weight, with which they made a most vigorous assault.
The lord de Gommegines, captain of the castle, was astonished to see himself surrounded by such numbers of gallant men at arms, who seemed determined, that if the place were taken by storm, they would spare no one they should find within it. As he was not provided with artillery for a long siege, through the mediation of his cousin-german, the lord de Rayneval, he offered to enter into a treaty for surrendering the place, on condition of their lives and fortunes being spared. This treaty was long debated; but at length the castle was surrendered, and all who chose it departed, and were conducted by sir Walter de Bailleul to the town of Calais. Sir William des Bordes was appointed governor of Ardres: he was succeeded by the viscount de Meaux, who remained there a long time: the third governor was the lord de Saimpy.
The same day that Ardres surrendered, the duke laid siege to the castle of Ardvick, which the three brothers Maulevriers held for England. During the three days he staid there, many skirmishes passed; but they at last surrendered, and the garrison was conducted to Calais by the marshal of France. After this the duke besieged Vauclignen, which also surrendered on the same terms as the others had done: and, when the duke had re-victualled and reinforced them with men at arms and cross-bows, he disbanded his army and returned to the king at Paris. The Breton lords went to Brittany, for they had heard that the duke of Brittany had arrived at Brest with a large army. The barons of Burgundy and the others returned to their own homes.
You have before heard how the lord John captal de Buch, having been made prisoner before Soubise, was confined in the Temple at Paris. The king of England and his son greatly desired his liberty, and it had been much debated at the negotiations at Bruges: they would willingly have given in exchange for him the young count de St. Pol and three or four other knights: but the king of France and his council would not consent. The king had him informed through the grand prior, who had guard of him, that if he would swear never to bear arms against the crown of France, he would listen to terms for his liberty. The captal replied, that he would never make this oath, though he were to die in prison. He remained therefore strictly guarded for five years in confinement, to his great discomfort; for he bore it so impatiently that at last he died*. The king of France had him interred; and a solemn service was performed, which was attended by the barons, prelates, and nobles of France.
England was thus losing her great captains; for, in this same year, the lord de Spencer, a great banneret of England, died. He left issue by his lady, the daughter of the late sir 514 Bartholomew Burghersh, one son and four daughters. Soon after the death of that gallant knight the captal de Buch, the queen of France was brought to bed of a daughter, who was named Catherine; and, whilst in childbed, the queen was seized with an illness that caused her death. This amiable queen was daughter of the valiant duke of Bourbon, killed at the battle of Poitiers. Her obsequies were performed in the abbey of St. Denis, where she was buried with great solemnity, to which were invited all the nobles and prelates of France in the neighbourhood of Paris.
* The prince of Wales gave to the captal de Buch, and his male heirs, the county of Bigorre, with all its towns, &c. the 7th June, 1369. Confirmed by the king. — Rymer.
CHAPTER CCCXXX. — — THE WAR RECOMMENCES BETWEEN THE KING OF FRANCE AND THE KING OF NAVARRE. — THE SIEGE OF CHERBOURG. — THE DUKE OF LANCASTER INVADES BRITTANY. — THE CASTLE OF AURAY SURRENDERS TO THE FRENCH.
SINCE the peace made at Vernon between the kings of France and Navarre, as has been before related, and since the king of Navarre had left his two children with their uncle the king of France, suspicions had fallen on a squire of the king’s household. He had been placed there by the king of Navarre at the time he left his children: his name was James de la Rue. A lawyer, who was one of the king of Navarre’s council, and his chancellor in the county of Evreux, was also implicated in this business: the name of this chancellor was master Peter du Tertre.
These two men were cruelly executed at Paris, and acknowledged, before all the people, that they had intended to have poisoned the king of France. The king immediately collected a large army, the command of which he gave to the constable: there were with him the lord de la Riviere and many other barons and knights. They marched into Normandy, to attack the castles of the king of Navarre, which were strong and well garrisoned, and laid siege to one of them called Pont-au-demer*. The French had with them many cannon, and various engines and machines, with which, in the course of different assaults, they pressed the garrison hard; but they defended themselves valiantly. Though there were many attacks and skirmishes, the siege lasted a long time: the castle was much ruined, and the garrison hard pushed. They were frequently required by the constable to surrender, or they would all be put to death, if the place were taken by storm: this was the threat which the constable was accustomed to make. The men of Navarre seeing their provisions decrease, and finding themselves much weakened, without any hopes of assistance from their king, who was at too great a distance, surrendered the castle, and were conducted to Cherbourg, carrying with them all their plunder. This castle was razed to the ground, though it had cost large sums to erect: and the walls and tower of Pont-au-demer were levelled with the ground.
The French then advanced to besiege the fortress of Mortain†, where they remained some time; but the garrison, seeing no appearance of assistance from the king of Navarre, and that the other Navarre fortresses were too weak to resist the French, surrendered themselves on the same conditions with those of Pont-au-demer. You must know, that in this expedition, the constable put under the obedience of the king of France all the towns, castles, and forts in the county of Evreux: the castles and principal towns were dismantled, that from henceforward no war should be carried on against the kingdom of France from any town or castle which the king of Navarre held in the county of Evreux. The king of France established in them the gabelle and subsidies, in like manner as they were in the realm of France.
On the other hand, the king of Spain had ordered his brother, the bastard of Spain, to enter Navarre with a powerful army: he attacked towns and castles, and gained much country, in spite of the king of Navarre, who could do but little to defend himself. He sent to inform king Richard of England how he was situated, in the hope that the would aid him in opposing the king of France in his county of Evreux; for that he himself would remain in Navarre, to guard his fortresses against the king of Spain.
King Richard, in consequence of a council which had been called on this business, sent sir 515 Robert le Roux‡ with a body of men at arms and archers, to Cherbourg. The garrisons of the different fortresses won by the constable in the county of Evreux were also collected at that town. When all were assembled, they were a numerous and handsome body of picked men, who had provided the castle with stores, for they concluded it would be besieged. The constable and the lord de la Riviere, having visited every place in the county of Evreux with their army, found that all the towns formerly belonging to the king of Navarre were now under the obedience of the king of France: they then came before Cherbourg, which is a strong and noble place, founded by Julius Cæsar, when he conquered England, and likewise a sea-port.
The French besieged it on all sides except that of the sea, and took up their quarters in such a manner before it as showed they were determined not to quit until they had conquered it. Sir Robert le Roux and his forces made frequent sallies, for neither night nor day passed without skirmishing. The French could never form a wish for feats of arms but there were always some ready to gratify it. Many combats took place with lance and sword, and several were killed or taken prisoners on each side, during this siege, which lasted the whole summer.
Sir Oliver du Guesclin posted himself in an ambuscade near the castle: he then ordered his men to begin a skirmish, in which the French were repulsed by the English, and driven back as far as the ambuscade of sir Oliver, who immediately rushed out with his troop, sword in hand, and advanced boldly on the enemy, like men well practised in arms. The encounter was sharp on both sides, and many a man was unhorsed, killed, wounded, or made prisoner: at last, sir Oliver du Guesclin was taken, and avowed himself a prisoner to a Navarrois squire, called John le Coq, an able man at arms: he was dragged into Cherbourg. The skirmish was now over, more to the loss of the French than of the English. Sir Oliver was sent to England, where he remained prisoner for a long time in London, and was at last ransomed.
The French remained before Cherbourg, at a heavy expense, the greater part of the winter, without having gained much. They thought they were losing time, and that Cherbourg was impregnable, as all sorts of reinforcements, men at arms, provision and stores, might be introduced into it by sea: for which reason the French broke up their camp, and placed strong garrisons in the places round Cherbourg, such as Montbourg, Pont Doue, Carentan, St. Lo, and in St. Sauveur le Vicomte. The constable then disbanded his army, and every one returned to the place whence he came. This was in the year 1378.
You have before heard how the duke of Brittany had left that country, and had carried his duchess with him to England. He resided at the estate he had there, which was called the honour of Richmond, and took great pains to obtain assistance from the young king, Richard, to reconquer his duchy, which had turned to the French, but he was not listened to. At length the duke of Lancaster was informed, that if he landed in Brittany with a good army, there were some forts and castles that would surrender to him: in particular, St. Malo, a handsome fortress, and a sea-port town. Upon this, the duke of Lancaster, having raised a large army, went to Southampton. He there prepared his vessels and stores, and embarked with many lords, men at arms and archers. This fleet had favourable winds to St. Malo; and when near the shore, having landed and disembarked their stores, they advanced towards the town, and closely besieged it. The inhabitants were not much alarmed, for they were well provided with provision, men at arms and cross-bows, who valiantly defended themselves, so that the duke remained there a considerable time. When the constable of France and the lord de Clisson heard of this, they sent summonses everywhere, and marched to St. Malo to raise the siege. Many thought that a battle must ensue; and the English drew out their army several times in battle-array, ready for the combat; but the constable and the lord de Clisson never came near enough for an engagement. The English, therefore, having lain before the town some time, and not perceiving any inclination in the inhabitants to surrender, the duke of Lancaster was advised to decamp, for he saw it was only wasting time; he therefore re-embarked, and returned to England, where he dismissed his army.
The castle of Auray was still in the possession of the duke of Brittany, who resided quietly 516 in England: the king of France sent thither several lords of France and Brittany, who began a siege which lasted a long time. The garrison of Auray, not seeing any hope of succour, entered into a treaty, that if they were not relieved by the duke of Brittany or the king of England, with a sufficient force to raise the siege on a certain day, they would surrender. This treaty was acceded to; and when the appointed day arrived, the French were there, but no one came from the duke nor the king of England: the castle was therefore placed under the obedience of the king of France, in the same manner as the other castles and principal towns of Brittany; and those of Auray, who were attached to the duke, departed thence.
* “Pont-Audemer,” — a town in Normandy, on the Rille, forty-one leagues from Paris.
† “Mortain,” — a town in Normandy, seventy-one leagues from Paris.
‡ Probably sir Robert Roose, or Rouse.
CHAPTER CCCXXXI. — THE FRENCH GARRISON OF MONTBOURG IS DEFEATED BY THE ENGLISH AT CHERBOURG.
SOON after Easter, in the year of our Lord 1379, king Charles of France, finding the garrison of Cherbourg was oppressing the whole country of Coutantin, appointed sir William des Bourdes, a valiant knight and good captain, to be chief governor of Coutantin, and of all the fortresses round Cherbourg. Sir William des Bourdes went thither with ah handsome body of men at arms and Genoese cross-bows, and fixed his quarters at Montbourg; which he made a garrison against Cherbourg; whence he formed frequent expeditions, and would willingly have met with the men of Cherbourg; for he wished for nothing better than an engagement with them, as he felt himself a good knight, bold and enterprising, and had also under his command the flower of the men at arms from all the adjacent garrisons. About the same time, sir John Harlestone was sent to Cherbourg, to take command of it. I have before-mentioned him as having been governor of Guines. He had embarked at Southampton with three hundred men at arms and as many archers, and with them had safely arrived at Cherbourg. There were in this army sir Otho de Grantson*, and among the English sir John Aubourc†, sir John Orcelle‡, with other knights and squires. On their arrival, they disembarked their horses and armour, with other stores, and remained some days in Cherbourg to recruit themselves, and make preparations for expeditions and for carrying on the war in earnest.
Sir William des Bourdes puzzled himself day and night in endeavouring to find out some means of annoying them. You must know, that these two governors laid several ambuscades for each other, but with little effect: for by chance they never met, except some few companions, who adventured themselves fool-hardily, as well to acquire honour as gain: those parties frequently attacked each other: sometimes the French won, at others they lost. Such skirmishes continued so often, that sir William des Bourdes marched out one morning from Montbourg, with his whole force, towards Cherbourg, in hopes of drawing that garrison out into the plain.
On the other hand, sir John Harlestone, who was ignorant of the intentions of the French, had also that same morning made an excursion, and had commanded his trumpets to sound for his men to arm themselves, as well horse as foot, and to advance into the plain: he had already ordered who were to remain in the garrison. He marched forth in handsome display, and ordered sir John Orcelle, with his foot soldiers, to take the lead as their guide. Having done this, he sent forward his light troops. Sir William des Bourdes had made a similar arrangement of his army. They both advanced in this array until the light troops of each party met, and came so near that they could easily distinguish each other. Upon which, they returned to the main body, and reported all they had observed. The two leaders, on hearing their reports, were quite happy; for they had at last found what they had been seeking for, and were much rejoiced thus to meet.
When the two knights had heard the news from their light troops, they each drew up their forces with great wisdom, and ordered their pennons to be displayed. The English 517 foot were intermixed with their men at arms. As soon as they were within bow-shot, the French dismounted; so did likewise the English: then the archers and cross-bowmen began to shoot sharply, and the men at arms to advance with their lances before them in close order. The armies met, and blows with spears and battle-axes began to fly about on all sides. The battle was hardly fought, and one might there have seen men at arms make trial of their prowess.
Sir William des Bourdes was completely armed, and, with his battle-axe in his hand, gave such blows to the right and left, that on whomsoever they fell that person was struck to the ground. He performed valorous deeds, worthy of being praised for ever after; and it was not his fault the English were not discomfited. In another part of the field, sir John Harlestone, governor of Cherbourg, fought well and valiantly with his battle-axe, one foot advanced before the other; and well it needed him, for he had to do with an obstinate body of hardy men. Several gallant deeds were performed this day; many a man slain and wounded. Sir John Harlestone was struck down and in great peril of his life; but by force of arms he was rescued. The battle lasted long, and was excellently kept up, as well on one side as on the other. The English had not any advantage, for they had as many killed and wounded as the French; but at last the English continued the combat so manfully, and with such courage, that they gained the field: the French were all either slain or made prisoners: few men of honour saved themselves, for they had entered into the engagement with so much good heart that they could not prevail on themselves to fly, but were determined to die or to conquer their enemies.
Sir William des Bourdes was made prisoner on good terms by a squire from Hainault, called William de Beaulieu, an able man at arms, who for a considerable time had been attached to the English in the castle of Calais: to him sir William surrendered in great grief, and much enraged that the victory was not his. The English that day did much harm to the French. Several were made prisoners towards the end of the engagement; but it was a pity to see the numbers killed. When the English had stripped the dead, sir John Harlestone and his men returned to Cherbourg, carrying with them their prisoners and their riches. You may be assured that they rejoiced mightily in the success of this day, which God had given to them. Sir William des Bourdes was feasted and entertained with every possible attention; for he was personally deserving of whatever could be done for him. This defeat took place, between Montbourg and Cherbourg, the day of St. Martin le bouillant 1379.
When the king of France heard that the garrison of Montbourg and its governor were either slain or made prisoners, and that the country was much alarmed by this defeat, the king, like one well advised and attentive to his affairs, immediately provided a remedy, by sending, without delay, fresh troops to guard the frontiers, the fortresses and the country round Cherbourg. Sir Hutin de Bremalles was appointed general of these troops by the king of France, who kept the country against the English. However, by orders of the king, they afterwards abandoned Montbourg, and all the country of Coutantin, which is one of the richest in the world. They made all the inhabitants give up their handsome houses and other possessions, and retreat out of this peninsula. The French guarded the frontiers at Dune, Carentan, and at St. Lo, and all the borders of the peninsula of Coutantin.§
* “Sir Otho de Grandson” — was before mentioned, not as an Englishman, but as one who had an estate on the other side of the sea.
† “Sir John Aubourc.” May it not be Aubrey?
‡ “Sir John Orcelle.” Perhaps Worsley, or Horseley.
§ The division into two volumes here observed is in accordance with the French edition of D. Sauvage and of the most authentic MSS. Mr. Johnes did not adhere to the original arrangement, but divided the work and numbered the chapters to suit the four quarto volumes in which he originally published his work; and Lord Berners, who published his translation in two folio volumes, attended only to that natural division, so that the numbers of his latter chapters are quite at variance with those of other editions. We have thought it better to restore the old divisions which originated with Froissart himself. The numeration and arrangement of the chapters will be found nearly in unison with that of D. Sauvage, but Mr. Johnes’s additions and corrections prevent their being identical. — ED.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE CHRONICLES OF SIR JOHN FROISSART.