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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. 131-142.
AFTER this conquest, and that the earl of Derby had left there men at arms and archers, he came before Bonneval*, and made a violent attack upon it, in which many were killed and wounded. At last he took it, and showed mercy. After he had reinforced it with men at arms, and another governor, he pushed forward, and, entering the county of Perigord, passed by Bordelles†, but did not attack it, as he saw it would be only pains thrown away. He still advanced, until he came before Perigueux‡. There was in the town the earl of Perigord, the lord Roger de Perigord his brother, the lord of Duras, and fully six-score knights and squires of that country. When the earl of Derby came there, he considered in what manner he might attack it most advantageously, for he saw it was very strong. But, after having maturely weighed it, he thought it most prudent not to waste his time: he therefore retreated two leagues, and took up his quarters upon the banks of a river, in order to attack the castle of Pelagrue§.
Towards midnight, about two hundred lances, well mounted, sallied out of Perigueux: they rode so fast, that before daylight they came to the English camp, and falling upon it, killed and wounded many. They entered the tent of the earl of Oxford, whom they found arming himself: he was immediately attacked and taken prisoner, as well as three knights of his household, otherwise he would have been slain. The Gascons finding they had awakened the whole army, retired, and took their road to Perigueux. It was time for them to do so: and fortunately they found the gates of the barriers open; for they were so closely pursued that they were thrown into confusion: but the Gascons, as soon as they could rally themselves, dismounted, and, sword in hand, fought with the English, and maintained their ground so well that they lost nothing.
The English returned to the earl of Derby, who marched forward until he came before Pelagrue, where he remained six days, and many an assault was made upon it. During the time he continued there, the earl of Oxford and his companions were exchanged, for the viscount de Bousquetin, the viscount de Châtillon, the lord of Lescun, the lord of Chateauneuf; and upon condition that the lands of Perigord should remain in peace for three years: not, however, but that any knight or squire might take up arms, without forfeiting the 132 treaty; but nothing was to be burnt or pillaged in that country for that space of time. The English therefore departed from before Pelagrue, as it was part of Perigord, and rode towards Auberoche¶, where there is a handsome and strong castle, appertaining to the archbishop of Toulouse. The English took up their quarters round about it, as if they meant to remain there for a length of time, and sent word to those within, that if they did not surrender speedily, when the town was taken, they should be all put to the sword without mercy. The inhabitants of the town and castle were much alarmed: and, seeing no appearance of any succour coming to them, they put themselves under the obedience of the earl of Derby, upon condition that their lives and fortunes were spared, and acknowledged him as their lord, for the king of England.
The earl then made a handsome retreat towards Bordeaux, having left in Auberoche a sufficient garrison, under the command of sir Frank van Halle, sir Alain de Finefroide, and sir John Lendal. On his road he came to Libourne, a fair and large town, twelve leagues from Bordeaux; to which he laid siege, and told those about him, that he would not quit it before he had got possession of it. The inhabitants consulted together; and considering well the good and evil of being assaulted and vexed, they surrendered themselves to the earl of Derby, and did homage to him during the three days he remained there. The earl of Derby sent the earl of Pembroke to Bergerac, and left the lord Stafford, sir Steven de Courcy, and the lord Alexander de Haulfiel¥, with their men, in Libourne. He himself, accompanied by the earl of Oxford and sir Walter Manny, took the road for Bordeaux, where they arrived.
* A village in the diocese of Agen.
† A village in Bazadois, election of Condom.
‡ Capital of Perigord,
§ A town in the Condomois.
¶ A town in Perigord.
¥ Barnes makes him Sir Alexander Hussey.
THE earl was joyfully received on his return to Bordeaux: the clergy and inhabitants of the town came out to meet him, in a grand procession: they allowed him to take provisions and whatever else he desired, according to his will and pleasure; and he and his army continued in the town, amusing themselves with the citizens and their wives.
We will now return to the count de Lisle, whom we left in la Rèole: as soon as he was informed that the earl of Derby had returned to Bordeaux, and had taken up his residence there, he did not think it probable he would undertake any more expeditions this season. He sent letters therefore to the earls of Perigord, of Carmain, of Comminges, of Bruniguel, and to all the barons of Gascony that were in the French interest, to desire that they would collect as many people as they could, and come with them properly armed, by an appointed day, to meet him at Auberoche, as he intended to besiege it. They all obeyed his summons; for he was as a king in these parts of Gascony. The knights who were in Auberoche were not aware of this until they found themselves so closely besieged on all sides that no one could go out of the garrison without being seen. The French brought from Toulouse four large machines, which cast stones into the fortress night and day; and they made no other assault; so that in six days’ time they had demolished all the roofs of the towers, and none within the castle dared to venture out of the vaulted rooms on the ground floor. It was the intention of the army to kill all within the castle, if they would not surrender themselves unconditionally.
News was brought to the earl of Derby, that Auberoche was besieged; but he did not imagine his friends were so hard pushed. When Sir Frank van Halle, sir Alain de Finefroide, and Sir John Lendal, who were thus besieged, saw how desperate their situation was, they asked their servants, if there were not one among them who would, for a reward, undertake to deliver the letters they had written to the earl of Derby at Bordeaux. One from among them stepped forward, and said, he would be the man who would cheerfully undertake the commission, not through lust of gain, but from his desire to deliver them from the peril they were in. The following night the servant took the letters, sealed with their seals, and sewed them up in his clothes. He was let down into the ditches: when he was at the bottom, he climbed up the opposite side, and took his road through the army; for he 133 could not avoid passing through it. He was met by the first guard, but was not stopped, for he understood the Gascon language well, and named one of the lords of the army, as if belonging to him; so he was suffered to pass on: but he was afterward arrested, and detained under the tents of some other lords, who brought him to the main watch. He was interrogated, searched, and the letters found upon him, and guarded until morning, when the principals of the army assembled in the tent of the count de Lisle, where the letters were read. They were rejoiced to find that the garrison was so much straitened that they could not hold out longer; and, seizing the servant, they hung the letters round his neck, thrust him into one of the machines, and flung him into Auberoche. The valet fell quite dead amidst the other valets of the castle, who were much terrified at it.
About this time, the earl of Perigord, his uncle sir Charles de Poitiers, the earl of Carmain, and the lord of Duras, mounting their horses, rode as near to the walls of the castle as they could, and, calling out to those within by way of derision, said, “Gentlemen, inquire of your messenger where he found the earl of Derby, and whether he is prepared to assist you, since your man was so eager to quit your fortress, and has returned as quickly.” Sir Frank van Halle replied, “By my faith, gentlemen, if we be so closely confined in this place, we will sally forth whenever it shall please God and the earl of Derby. I wish to Heaven he were acquainted with our situation; for if he were, the proudest of you all would be afraid of standing your ground; and, if you will send any one to give him this information, one of us will surrender himself to you, to be ransomed as becomes a gentlemen.” The French answered, “Nay, nay, matters must not turn out so: the earl of Derby, in proper time, shall be made acquainted with it; but not until our engines have battered your walls level with the ground, and you shall have surrendered yourselves to save your lives.” “That, for certain, will never happen,” said Sir Frank van Halle; “for we will not surrender ourselves, should we all die upon the walls.” The French lords then rode on, and returned to their army. The three English knights remained in Auberoche, quite confounded by the force of these engines, which flung such quantities of stones, that in truth it seemed as if the thunder from heaven were battering the walls of the castle.
THE TREBUCHET, a machine for casting stones, engraved in Grose’s Military Antiquities. From an ivory carving of the period.
ALL these speeches, the treatment of the messenger, the contents of the letters, and the perilous situation of Auberoche, were known to the earl of Derby, by means of a spy he had in the French army. The earl therefore sent orders to the earl of Pembroke in Bergerac, to meet him at an appointed place and hour; and also the lord Stafford and sir Stephen Tombey, who were at Libourne. The earl of Derby then, accompanied by sir Walter Manny and the forces he had with him, took the road towards Auberoche as secretly as possible; for he had guides who were acquainted with all the by-roads. They came to Libourne, where they staid a whole day for the earl of Pembroke; but hearing no tidings of him, and being impatient to succour their friends who were so distressed, the earl of Derby, the earl of Oxford, sir Walter Manny, sir Richard Hastings, sir Stephen Tombey, the lord Ferrers, and other knights, set out from Libourne: riding all night, they came on the morrow within two leagues of Auberoche. They entered a wood, when, alighting from their horses, they tied them to the trees, and allowed them to pasture, in expectation of the arrival of the earl of Pembroke: they waited all that morning, and until noon, in vain, not knowing what to do; for they were but three hundred lances and six hundred archers, and the French were from ten to twelve thousand men. They thought it would be cowardice to suffer their friends to be lost, when they were so near them. At last sir Walter Manny said, “Gentlemen, let us who are now here mount our horses, skirt this wood, and advance until we come to their camp: when we shall be close to it, we will stick spurs into our horses, and, with loud shouts, fall upon them. It will be about their hour for supper; and we shall see them so much discomfited, that they can never rally again.” The knights present replied, that they would all do as he had proposed. Each went to his horse, re-girthed him, and tightened his armour: they ordered their pages, servants and baggage, to remain where they were.
They advanced in silence by the side of the wood until they came to the other end, where the French army was encamped in a wide valley, near a small river: they then displayed their banners and pennons, and sticking spurs into their horses, dashed into the midst of the French and Gascon forces, who were quite confounded and unprepared for this attack, as they were busy about their suppers, many having set down to table. The English were well prepared to act, and crying, “Derby, Derby for ever!” they cut down tents and pavilions, and slew and wounded all that came in their way. The French did not know where to turn, so much were they surprised; and when they got into the plains, if there were any large body of them, the archers and cross-bowmen made such good use of their weapons, that they were slain or dispersed. The count de Lisle was taken, in his tent, badly wounded; the earl of Perigord in his pavilion, and also sir Charles, his uncle; the lord of Duras was killed, and so was sir Aymery de Poitiers; but his brother, the earl of Valentinois, was made prisoner. Every one took to his heels as fast as he could; but the earl of Comminges, the earls of Carmain, Villemur, and Bruniguel, the lords de la Barde and de la Taride, with others, who were quartered on the opposite side of the castle, displayed their banners, and, having drawn up their men, marched for the plain: the English however, who had already defeated the largest body of the army, fell upon them most vigorously. In this engagement, many gallant deeds of arms were performed, many captures made, and many rescues. As soon as sir Frank van Halle and sir John Lendal, who were in Auberoche, heard the noise, and perceived the banners and pennons of their friends, they hastened to arm themselves, and all those that were with them; when, mounting their horses, they sallied out of the fortress, made for the plain, and dashed into the thickest of the combat, to the great encouragement of the English.
Why should I make a long story of it? All those who were of the count de Lisle’s party were discomfited, and almost all taken prisoners, or slain. Scarcely any would have escaped, if night had not closed so soon. Nine earls and viscount were made prisoners, and so many barons, knights and squires, that there was not a man at arms among the English that had 135 not for his share two or three. This battle before Auberoche was fought on the eve of St. Laurence’s day, in the year 1344. The English treated their prisoners like friends: they received many upon their promises to surrender themselves by a certain day at Bordeaux, or Bergerac. The English retired into Auberoche; and the earl of Derby entertained at supper the greater part of the prisoners, earls, viscounts, barons, and knights. They gave thanks and praises to God, for having enabled them to overcome upwards of ten thousand men, when they themselves were not more than one thousand, including every one, and to rescue the town and castle of Auberoche, in which were their friends, that must have been captured in two days’ time. On the next morning, a little after sun-rise, the earl of Pembroke arrived with three hundred lances and four thousand archers; he had been informed of the event of the battle as they came along, and said to the earl of Derby “Certainly, cousin, you have neither been courteous, nor behaved honourably, to fight my enemies without waiting for me, seeing that you had sent for me; and you might have been assured, that nothing should have prevented my coming to you.” The earl replied, “Fair cousin, we were very anxious for your arrival, and we waited for you from the morning until vespers: when we saw no appearance of your coming, we dared not wait longer; for had our enemies been informed of our arrival, they would have had the advantage over us; but now, thanks to God, we have conquered them, and we pray of you to help us in conducting them to Bordeaux.” They remained that day and night in Auberoche: on the next day early, they were armed and mounted, and set off, leaving there a Gascon knight in their interest, as governor, named the lord Alexander of Chaumont. They took the road to Bordeaux, and carried with them the greater part of their prisoners.
THE earl of Derby and his army, upon their arrival at Bordeaux, were received with very great rejoicings: the inhabitants thought they never could enough testify their joy to the earl, and to sir Walter Manny, for their enterprise; in which the count of Lisle and more than two hundred knights were made prisoners. The winter passed over, without any action taking place in Gascony that is worthy of being recorded. Easter, which may be reckoned the beginning of the year 1345, was about the middle of May, and the earl of Derby, who had tarried all the winter in Bordeaux, collected a very large body of men at arms and archers, and declared he would make an expedition to la Rèole, where the French had fixed their head-quarters. He went the first day from Bordeaux to Bergerac, where he found the earl of Pembroke ready with his troops. These two noblemen, with their forces, remained for three days in Bergerac, and on the fourth departed. When they were got into the open country they halted their men, counted them, and found that they had about a thousand men at arms, and two thousand archers. They pushed forward, until they came to a castle called St. Basile, to which they laid siege. Those within, considering that the principal barons of Gascony were prisoners, and that they had no expectations of receiving succours from any place, resolved to swear fealty to king Edward of England. The earl of Derby continued his route, and took the road towards Aiguillon*; but, before he arrived there, he came to the castle of Roche-milon, which was well provided with soldiers and artillery; nevertheless, the earl ordered it to be vigorously assaulted. As the English advanced to the attack, those within threw down upon them stones, bars of iron, and pots full of hot lime; by which many were slain and wounded who adventured themselves too rashly.
When the earl of Derby perceived that his men were labouring in vain, and getting themselves killed without any advantage, he sounded a retreat: on the marrow, he ordered the peasants to bring great quantities of brushwood, faggots, straw, and turf, and to throw them all into the ditches of the castle, and plenty of earth of with them. When a part of the ditch was so filled that one might get to the foot of the walls, he assembled three hundred archers, 136 well armed, and in battle array, and sent before them two hundred countrymen covered with shields†, having large pick-axes and hooks: whilst these first were employed in picking the walls, the archers made such good use of their bows, that no one dared to show himself on the battlements. This lasted the greatest part of the day, when the pick-axe men made so large a breach in the walls, that ten men might enter abreast. The inhabitants of the town and castle were quite confounded; some fled towards the church, and others by a back way out of the town. The fortress was immediately taken and pillaged; and all the garrison were put to death, excepting such as had taken refuge in the church, whom the earl of Derby pardoned, for they had submitted to his mercy. The earl placed in the castle a fresh garrison, under the command of two English captains, Richard Willes and Robert Scot; and then he came before Monsegur‡, where he ordered his men to prepare huts for themselves and horses: he continued before it fifteen days.
The governor of the town was sir Hugh de Bastefol, and there never passed a day without some assault being made upon it. They sent for large machines from Bordeaux and Bergerac; and the stones which they cast into the town destroyed roofs, tiles, and the principal buildings. The earl of Derby sent every day to let them know, that if they suffered the town to be stormed, every one would be put to the sword; but, if they would render obedience to the king of England, he would pardon them, and treat them like friends. The townsmen would cheerfully have surrendered; and they went to the governor to consult him, and to sound his intentions, who answered them by ordering them to the battlements, for that he had provision of every sort in sufficiency to hold out for half a year, if it were necessary. They left him in apparent good-humour; but about the time of vespers they seized him, and closely confined him; assuring him at the same time, he should never be set at liberty, if he did not assist them to make some terms with the earl of Derby. When he had sworn that he would do every thing in his power, they let him go: he went directly to the barriers of the town, and made signs that he wished to speak with the earl of Derby. Sir Walter Manny being present came to the governor, who said to him, “Sir Walter Manny, you ought not to be surprised if we shut our gates against you, for we have sworn fealty to the king of France; but not perceiving any one coming from him to stop your career, and believing that you will still proceed further — for these reasons, in behalf of myself and the inhabitants of this town, we wish you would allow us these terms, namely, that no hostilities be carried on against us for the space of one month; and if in that time the king of France, or the duke of Normandy, come into this country in such force as to give you battle, we then shall hold ourselves free from our engagement; but if neither of them come, we will then enter the obedience of the king of England.”
Sir Walter Manny went to relate this proposal to the earl of Derby, who acceded to it, upon condition that there should not in the mean time be any repairs made to the fortifications of the town, and that, if any of the English army should want provisions, they might be at liberty to purchase them. Upon this there were sent twelve of the principal citizens as hostages, who were ordered to Bordeaux. The English refreshed themselves with provisions from the town, but none were suffered to enter it. They then continued their march, burning and destroying all the country as far as Aiguillon; the governor of which place came out to meet the earl, and surrendered the town and castle to him, on condition of their lives and fortunes being spared, to the great astonishment of all the country, for it was one of the strongest castles in the world, and almost impregnable. When the squire, who had thus surrendered Aiguillon, came to Toulouse, which is seventeen leagues distant, the townsmen arrested him on suspicion of treason, and hung him. This castle is situated on the point between two navigable rivers. The earl ordered it to be re-victualled, and the fortifications repaired, in order to its being fit to receive him on his return, and that it might serve for a secure guard to his other possessions. He gave the command of it to sir John de Gombry§. He then came to a castle called Segart, which he took by storm, and put all the foreign soldiers he found in it to death; from thence he came to the town of la Rèole.
* A town of Guienne, situated at the confluence of the Lot and Garonne.
† Pavisscs, says Lord Berners, that is large shields or coverings of planks, which being supported by some of the party, sheltered the others whilst at their work. — ED.
‡ A town of Bazadois, election of Condom, near to la Rèole.
§ Barnes says, to the lord John Moubray; but I do not see upon what grounds. I should rather imagine it was John de Montgomerie, who was captain of Calais in the 21st of Edward III., and had other charges of trust.
Breaching Tower: — men-at-arms storming the walls; archers in the moat, shooting under cover of their Pavisors. From an ancient carving of the period, engraved in Grose’s Military Antiquities.
WHEN the earl of Derby was arrived at la Rèole, he encompassed it closely all round, erecting towers in the plains, and near to every road, that no provision of any kind could enter it. He caused it to be assaulted almost every day. This siege took up much of the summer; and, when the time had expired which those of Monsegur had fixed for surrendering themselves, the earl of Derby sent thither, and the inhabitants of the town became liege men to the earl, who in all these cases, was the representative of the king of England. Even sir Hugh de Bastefol served under the earl with the men of Monsegur, for a certain salary, which he received from the said earl, for himself and his fellow-soldiers. The English who were besieging la Rèole had lain before it more than nine weeks, and had constructed two large towers of great beams of wood, three stories high: each tower was placed on wheels, and covered over with prepared leather, to shelter those within from fire and from the arrows: in each story were one hundred archers. These two towers, by dint of men’s force, were 138 pushed close to the walls of the town; for, during the time they were building, they had filled up the ditches, so that these towers could easily pass over them. Those that were in them began immediately to shoot so well and quick, that none dared to appear upon the battlements unless he were well armed, or had a shield. Between these two towers were posted two hundred men with pick-axes and bars, to make a breach in the walls; which they did, and cast away the stones. The inhabitants seeing this, came upon the walls, and inquired for some of the chiefs of the army, to speak to them. The earl of Derby, being informed of it, sent thither sir Walter Manny and the lord Stafford, who found the townsmen willing to surrender the town, on condition of their lives and fortunes being spared.
When the governor, sir Agos de Bans, a Provençal, found that the inhabitants wanted to surrender the town, he retired into the castle of la Rèole, with his fellow-soldiers; and, whilst this treaty was going on, he had conveyed into it great quantities of wine and other provision. He then ordered the gates to be fastened, and said, he would never surrender in so shameful a manner. The two knights returned to the earl of Derby, and related to him that the townsmen were desirous of surrendering upon the terms above named: the earl sent them back, to know what the governor’s intentions were respecting the castle. They returned with the answer, that he had shut himself up in the castle, and would not yield it. After a little consideration, the earl said, “Well, well, let us have compassion on the inhabitants: by means of the town, we shall soon gain the castle.” The knights again went to the townsmen, and received their submissions. They all came out to the plain, and presenting the keys of the town to the earl said, “Dear sir, from this day forward, we acknowledge ourselves as your loyal subjects, and place ourselves, in every respect, under the obedience of the king of England.” They swore by their heads, that they would not in any manner assist or succour those in the castle, but on the contrary, distress them all in their power. The earl forbade under pain of death, that any hurt should be done towards the inhabitants of la Rèole. He then entered it with his army, and surrounding the castle, erected all his machines against it; but they did little mischief, for the castle was very high and built of a hard stone. It was erected a long time since by the Saracens, who laid the foundations so strong, and with such curious workmanship, that the buildings of our time cannot be compared to it. When the earl found that his machines had no effect, he commanded them to desist; and, as he was not without miners in his army, he ordered them to undermine the ditches of the castle, so that they might pass under. This was not however soon done.
WHILST they were lying before this castle, and miners only could be employed, sir Walter Manny was reminded of his father, who formerly had been murdered in his journey from St. James of Compostella; and he had heard in his infancy, that he had been buried in la Rèole, or in that neighbourhood. He therefore made inquiries in the town, if there were no one who could inform him of the truth of this matter, and offered a hundred crowns to whoever would conduct him to the spot. This brought forward an old man, who said to sir Walter Manny, “Certainly, sir, I think I can lead you to the place where your father was buried, or very near to it.” Sir Walter replied, “If you prove your words true, I will stick to my bargain and even go beyond it.” To explain this matter more clearly, you must know that there was formerly a bishop of Cambray, a Gascon, and of the families of Buc and Mirepoix; and, during the time of his holding that see, a magnificent tournament was held at Cambray, where there were upwards of five hundred knights. A knight from Gascony tilted with the lord of Manny, the father of sir Walter: the Gascon knight was so roughly handled and wounded, that he never enjoyed his health afterwards but died. His death was laid to the door of the lord of Manny, and the bishop and his kindred vowed revenge for it. Two or three years after, some good-hearted people endeavoured to reconcile them; and peace was agreed to, on condition and by way of penance that the lord of Manny made a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella.
During the time of this journey, the earl Charles of Valois, brother to king Philip the 139 Fair, was besieging la Rèole, and had been there some time; for it appertained, as well as many other cities and towns, to the king of England, the father of him who besieged Tournay; so that the Lord of Manny on his return went to visit the earl Charles of Valois, as William earl of Hainault had married the lord Charles’s daughter, and showed him his letters; for, in these parts, he was as king of France. It chanced, one night, as he was returning to his lodgings, he was watched and waylaid by the kindred of him on whose account he had performed this pilgrimage, and was murdered at a small distance from the earl Charles’s hôtel. No one knew positively who had done his deed; but the relations of the Gascon knight above mentioned were very strongly suspected: however they were so powerful, that it was passed over, and excused; for none took the part of the lord of Manny. The earl of Valois had him buried immediately in a small chapel, which at that time was without the walls of la Rèole; and, when the earl of Valois had conquered the town, this chapel was enclosed in it. The old man remembered all these circumstances perfectly well, for he had been present when the lord of Manny was interred. When sir Walter came to the spot, where his father had been formerly buried, with his aged conductor, he found there a small tomb of marble, which his servants had erected over him; and the old man said, “You may be perfectly assured, that your father was buried and lies under this tomb.” Sir Walter then caused the inscription, which was in Latin, to be read to him by a clerk, and found that the old man had told him the truth. Two days afterward, he had the tomb opened, took out the bones of his father, and, placing them in a coffin, sent them to Valenciennes, in the county of Hainault, where they were again buried in the church of the Freres Mineurs, near the choir. He ordered masses to be said, and continued yearly.
THE earl of Derby was more than eleven weeks besieging the castle of la Rèole: the miners, however, made such advances that they had got under one of the courts of the castle; but they could not undermine the donjon, for it was built on too hard a rock. The lord Agos de Bans, the governor, then told his companions they were undermined, and in great danger, who were much alarmed at it, and said, “Sir, you will be in equal peril with ourselves, if you cannot find some method of avoiding it. You are our captain, and we ought to obey you. In truth, we have defended ourselves honourably, and no one can blame us if now we enter into a treaty. Will you, therefore, talk with the earl of Derby, and know if he will accept of our surrender, sparing our lives and fortunes, seeing that we cannot at present act otherwise?” Sir Agos went down from the great tower, and, putting his head out of a window, made signs that he wished to speak with some one from the army. A few of the English came near him, and asked what he wanted: he replied, that he would speak with the earl of Derby, or sir Walter Manny. When this was told the earl, he said to sir Walter Manny, and to lord Stafford, “Let us go to the fortress, and see what the governor has to say to us:” they rode therefore up to it. When sir Agos perceived them, he saluted each very respectfully, and said, “Gentlemen, you know for fact that the king of France has sent me to this town and castle, to defend them to the best of my abilities. You know in what manner I have acquitted myself, and also that I should wish to continue it on: but one cannot always remain in the place that pleases one best. I should therefore like to depart from hence, with my companions, if it be agreeable to you; and that we may have your permission, if you will spare our lives and fortunes, we will surrender this castle up to you.” The earl replied, “Sir Agos, sir Agos, you will not get off so: we know that you are very much distressed, and that we can take you whenever we please; for your castle now only stands upon props: you must surrender yourselves up unconditionally, and so shall you be received.” Sir Agos, answering, said, “Certainly, sir, if we should do so, I hold you of such honour and gallantry, that you will show us every mark of favour, as you would wish the king of France should do towards any of your knights; and, please God, you will never stain your honour and nobility for a few poor soldiers, that are within here, who have gained their money with great pain and trouble, and whom I brought with me 140 from Provence, Savoy and Dauphiné: for know, that if the lowest of our men be not treated with mercy, as well as the highest, we will sell our lives in such a manner as none besieged ever did before. I therefore entreat of you to listen to me, and treat us like brother soldiers, that we may feel ourselves obliged to you.”
The three knights withdrew to a little distance, and conversed a long time together: when, considering the gallantry of sir Agos, that he was a foreigner, and besides, that they could not undermine the donjon, they returned, and said to him, “Sir Agos, we shall be happy always to treat every stranger knight as a brother at arms; and if, fair sir, you and yours wish to leave the castle, you must carry nothing with you but your arms and horses.” “Let it be so then,” replied sir Agos. Upon this he returned to his companions and related what he had done: they immediately armed themselves, and caparisoned their horses, of which they had only six remaining. Some purchased horses of the English, who made them pay dearly for them. Thus sir Agos de Bans gave up the castle of la Rèole, of which the English took possession; and he went to the city of Toulouse.
WHEN the earl of Derby had gained possession of the town and castle of la Rèole, where he had spent a long time, he pushed forward, but left there an English knight, to see after the repairs, that it might be put in a similar situation as when he had come before it. The earl advanced towards Monpouillant‡, which he instantly ordered to be attacked the moment he arrived. There were in the castle none but the peasantry of the country, who had retired thither with their cattle, depending on the strength of the place: they defended themselves as long as they were able; but at last it was taken by escalade, though it cost the earl dear, in the loss of many archers, and a young English gentleman called sir Richard Pennort§, who bore the banner of the lord Stafford. The earl gave the command of the castle and its dependencies to a squire of his own, called Thomas Lancaster, and left him with twenty archers. The earl then came to Castel Moron, which he attacked; but, finding he could not make any impression, he took up his quarters before it for that night. On the morrow morning, a knight from Gascony came to him, called sir Alexander de Chaumont, and said, “Sir, pretend to decamp with your army, leaving only a small detachment here before the town; and, from the knowledge I have of its inhabitants, I am sure they will sally forth to attack them. Your men will defend themselves as they retreat, and by placing an ambuscade under these olive trees, which as soon as they have passed, one party of your army may fall upon their rear, and the other make for the town.” The earl followed this advice, and ordered the earl of Oxford to remain behind, with only one hundred men, giving him directions what he wished to have done. He then ordered all the baggage to be packed up, and to march off, as if he were going to another place: after having posted a strong ambuscade in the valley among the olives and vines, he rode on.
When the townsmen of Castel Moron perceived that the earl and the greater part of his army were marching off, they said among themselves, “Let us hasten to arm, and sally forth to combat this handful of English that stay behind: we shall soon discomfit them, and have them at our mercy, which will bring us great honour and profit.” They all agreed to this proposal; and, hastening to arm themselves, they sallied out for the fastest, and might amount to about four hundred. As soon as the earl of Oxford and his party saw them coming, they began to retreat, and the French to follow them with great eagerness; they pursued them, until they had passed the ambush, when those posted there advanced upon them, calling out, “Manny for ever!” for sir Walter commanded this ambuscade. One part of his detachment fell upon those that had come from the town, and the other made for Castel Moron, where they came about midnight, and found the barriers and gates wide 141 open; for the guards thought it was their own people returning. The first comers therefore seized the bridge, and were soon masters of the town; for the inhabitants that had sallied out were surrounded on all sides, and either slain or made prisoners. Those that had remained in the town surrendered themselves to the earl of Derby, who received them kindly, and, out of his nobleness of disposition, respited the town from being pillaged and burnt. He made a present of it, and all its dependencies, to sir Alexander de Chaumont, through whose advice he had gained it. Sir Alexander made his brother, who was a squire, called Antony de Chaumont, governor: and the earl of Derby left with him his archers, and forty infantry armed with bucklers, in order to enable him the better to guard the town. The earl then came before Villefranche, which he took by storm, as well as the castle. He made an English knight, sir Thomas Cook, governor of it. Thus did the earl of Derby march through every part of the country, without any one venturing out to prevent him. He conquered many different towns and castles; and his army gained so much riches, that it was marvellous to think on.
* A town of Bazadois, near la Rèole.
† A small town, not far from Bergerac.
‡ A town of Bazadois.
§ Penford, according to Barnes.
WHEN the earl of Derby gained Villefranche, he advanced towards Miraumont*, approaching nearer to Bordeaux; for, in all this expedition his light horse, or scouts, had never come near to Port Sainte Marie†. He was three days before Miraumont, and on the fourth it surrendered. The earl gave the command of it to one of his squires, called John Briscoe‡: his army took afterwards a small fortified town upon the Garonne, called Tonniens§, and the strong castle of Damazan, which was well provided with men at arms and archers. He then came to the city of Angoulême¶, which he closely besieged, and declared he would not depart before it was in his possession. The townsmen hearing this entered into a treaty that their city should remain unhurt for one month; and twenty-four of the principal inhabitants were sent to Bordeaux, as hostages: if during this time the king should send forces sufficient to make head against the earl of Derby, the hostages should be returned, and they be accounted free to take which side they pleased; but if otherwise, they would put themselves under the obedience of the king of England.
The earl of Derby continued his march, and came before Blayes¥, which he besieged on all sides. Two knights from Poitou were governors of it, named sir Guiscard de l’Angle**, and sir William de Roche-chouart, who declared they would never surrender to any man. Whilst the English were besieging Blayes, a detachment of them marched on to Mortaigne†† in Poitou, which was under the command of the lord of Boucicault; and there was a sharp engagement, which ended in nothing, except leaving behind many of their men dead and wounded. They returned, therefore, and came by Mirabeau and Aulnay to the siege before Blayes, where almost every day there was some gallant deed of arms performed. The term of the month being expired when the town of Angoulême was to surrender, the earl sent his two marshals thither, to whom they swore homage and fealty, in the name of the king of England: the city by this means enjoyed peace, and had their hostages returned to them; and the earl, at their request, made sir John Norwich‡‡ governor of it. The siege of Blayes was still continued, until the English began to be weary of it; for winter was approaching, and as yet they had gained no advantage. They held a council, to consider if it would not be better to retire to Bordeaux, and return in a more favourable season. This was agreed to, and they decamped, passed the Garonne, and came to Bordeaux. Soon afterwards the earl divided his forces, and sent detachments to different garrisons, to keep order, and spread more over the country.
* In the diocese of Agen.
† A town on the Garonne, near Aiguillon.
‡ Barnes and lord Berners call him Bristol, but I see no authority.
§ In the Agenois, diocese of Agen.
¶ The capital of the Angoumois.
¥ An ancient town upon the Garonne.
** See more of him, and sir Frank van Halle, in the histories of the order of the garter, and also of sir Henry Eam.
†† Diocese of Rochelle.
‡‡ Summoned to parliament the 16th and 34th Edward III. — See Dugdale.
ABOUT this period, sir Godfrey de Harcourt incurred the anger of the king of France. He was a great baron in Normandy, brother to the earl of Harcourt, and lord of St. Sauveur le Vicomte, and of many other towns in Normandy. This was occasioned through jealousy; for a little before he was so much in favour with the king and duke, that he could do as he liked with either*. He was publicly banished from France; and, if the king’s rage had not subsided, he would have been served as sir Olivier de Clisson and the other knights who had been beheaded the preceding year in Paris. Sir Godfrey, however, had some good friends, who gave him information privately how much the king was incensed against him. He quitted the kingdom as speedily as possible, and went to Brabant, where the duke John, his cousin, received him most joyfully. He remained there a considerable time, and spent what revenue he had in Brabant; for in France he had nothing, as the king had seized all his estates in Coutantin, and received the rents for his own use. The knight could never regain the love of the king of France, notwithstanding all the earnest entreaties of the duke of Brabant.
This hatred cost dear to France, especially to the province of Normandy; for the traces of it appeared a hundred years afterwards, as you will find by the following history†.
* Sir Godfrey de Harcourt’s disgrace was caused by a quarrel he had with the maréchal de Briquebec, on account of a marriage being broken. They fought. The king ordered the affair to be discussed in his parliament; but Harcourt, instead of appearing, besieged a castle belonging to the bishop of Bayeux, brother to the marshal, entered into negotiations with the enemies of his country, and by his hatred to his king gained the favour of Edward.
Grands Chroniques de St. Denis, a beautiful copy on vellum in the Hafod Library. They had formed part of the celebrated library of Diane de Poitiers, at Anet.
† Godfrey de Harcourt did homage to king Edward, as king of France, the 13th June, 1345; when Edward engaged, if he could not recover for him his estates in Normandy, to give him their equivalent in England. — Rymer.