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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. 117-131.



DURING the sessions of a parliament held at London, the king was desirous of putting every thing else aside, and to succour the countess of Montfort, who at that time was on a visit to the queen of England. He entreated, therefore, his dear cousin lord Robert d’Artois, that he would collect as many men at arms and archers as he could, and pass over with the countess into Brittany. The lord Robert made his preparations, and, having assembled his number of men at arms and archers, went to Southampton, where they lay a considerable time on account of contrary winds. About Easter, they embarked and put to sea. At this same parliament, the barons earnestly advised the king, in consideration of the multitude of business he had upon his hands, to send the bishop of Lincoln to his brother-in-law the king of Scotland, to treat for a firm and stable truce to last for two other years. The king was loath to do it; as he was desirous to carry on the war against the Scots in such a manner that they themselves should request a truce. His council, however, with all due deference, said, that that would not be the most advisable means, considering he had before so ruined and destroyed that country, and that he had more important affairs on his hands in other parts. They added, that it was great wisdom, when engaged in different wars, to pacify one power by a truce, another by fair words, and make war on the third. The king was persuaded, by these and other reasons, and begged the above-mentioned prelate to undertake this mission. The bishop would not say nay, but set out on his journey. He soon returned without doing any thing, and related to the king, that the king of Scotland had no power to make a truce without the will and consent of the king of France. Upon hearing this, the king exclaimed aloud, that he would shortly so ruin and destroy the kingdom of Scotland, it should never recover from it. He issued out a proclamation through his realm, for all persons to assemble at Berwick, by the feast of Easter, properly armed, and prepared to follow him wherever he should lead them, except those who were to go into Brittany.

When Easter came, the king held a great court at Berwick. All the princes, lords, and knights, who at that time were in England, were there, as well as great numbers of the common people of the country. They remained there three weeks, without making any excursion; for prudent and good men were busily employing themselves to form a truce, which at last was agreed and sworn to, for two years; and the Scots had it confirmed by the king of France. The king of England sent all his people to their own homes: he himself returned to Windsor. He sent the lord Thomas Holland and sir John Darvel to Bayonne, with two hundred men at arms and four hundred archers, to guard that frontier against the French.




WE must now return to Lord Robert d’Artois and his army. Easter fell so late that year, that it was about the beginning of May; and the middle of that month was the period when the truce between lord Charles and the countess of Montfort was to expire. The lord Charles had received information of the countess of Montfort’s journey into England, of her solicitations for assistance, and of the succour the king of England was to give her: on which account, the lord Lewis of Spain, sir Charles Grimaldi, and sir Otho Doria, were stationed off Guernsey, with thirty-two large vessels, having on board three thousand Genoese, and a thousand men at arms. The lord Robert d’Artois, the earl of Pembroke, the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Suffolk, the earl of Oxford, the baron of Stamford, the lord Despencer, the lord Bouchier, with many other knights from England, and their followers were accompanying the countess of Montfort to Brittany, and had a wind to their wish: when in an afternoon, as they were near the island of Guernsey, they perceived the large fleet of the Genoese, of which the lord Lewis was commander. Upon this, the sailors cried out, “Gentlemen, arm yourselves and make ready, for here are the Genoese and Spaniards bearing down upon us.” The English then sounded their trumpets, spread out their pennons to the wind, ornamented with the devices of their arms and with the banner of St. George. Every one posted himself properly at his quarters, and filling up the intervals with archers, they advanced full sail toward the enemy. They might be about forty-six vessels, great and small; but there were none so large as nine of those under the lord Lewis, who had likewise three galleys; in each of which were the three chiefs, the lord Lewis, sir Charles Grimaldi, and sir Otho Doria. The fleets approached each other, and the Genoese began to shoot with their cross-bows at random, which the English archers returned. This continued some time, and many were wounded: but when the barons, knights, and squires, were able to come to close combat, and could reach each other with their lances, then the battle raged, and they made good trial of each other’s courage. The countess of Montfort was equal to a man, for she had the heart of a lion; and, with a rusty sharp sword in her hand, she combated bravely.

The Genoese and Spaniards, who were in these large vessels, threw down upon their enemies great bars of iron, and annoyed them much with very long lances. This engagement began about vespers, and lasted until night parted them; for, soon after vespers, there came on such a fog, they could scarcely distinguish each other; they therefore separated, cast anchor, and got their ships in order, but did not disarm, for they intended renewing the fight the next day. About midnight, a violent storm arose; and so tremendous was it, that it seemed as if the world would have been destroyed: there were not, on either side, any so bold, but who wished themselves on shore; for these barges and vessels drove so furiously against each other, that they feared they would go to pieces. The English lords inquired of the sailors what was best to be done: they answered, to disembark as soon as they could; for there were such risks at sea, that if the wind should continue as violent as it then was, there would be danger of their being all drowned. They therefore drew up their anchors, set their sails about half a quarter, and made off. On the other hand, the Genoese weighed their anchors, and put off to sea; for their vessels, being so much larger than the English, could weather the tempest more securely; and also, if they should drive too near the shore, they ran a risk of being wrecked, which made them take to the deep. As they were going off, they fell in with four English vessels, laden with provisions, which had kept out of the engagement: they seized them, and took them in tow. The wind and tempest were so vehement, that, in one day, they were driven more than a hundred leagues from the place where they had fought. The lord Robert gained land at a small port near the city of Vannes; and they were all rejoiced when they set foot on shore.




THUS by this tempest was the engagement at sea interrupted, between the lord Robert and lord Lewis and their fleets. It is difficult to say to whom the honour belongs; for they separated unwillingly, on account of the badness of the weather. The English, having landed near Vannes, disembarked on the sand, their horses, provisions, and arms. They then ordered their fleet to make for Hennebon, and determined to lay siege to Vannes. The lords Hervé de Léon and Olivier de Clisson were in it, as governors for the lord Charles of Blois: the lords of Tournemine and Loheac were there also. When they perceived that the English were coming to besiege them they looked well to the castle, their watch-towers, and gates; and at every gate they posted a knight, with ten men at arms and twenty archers among the cross-bows. To return to the lord Lewis and his fleet, who were, all that night and the morrow until noon, violently driven about by the tempest, and in very great danger: they lost two of their ships, with all that were on board. The third day early, the stormy weather abated, when the knights asked the sailors which was the nearest land; who answered, the kingdom of Navarre: and the masters of the vessels said, the tempest had driven them more than one hundred and twenty leagues from the coasts of Brittany. They cast anchor, and waited for the return of the tide. When flood came, they had a tolerable fair wind to carry them towards La Rochelle. They coasted by Bayonne, but did not touch there: and falling in with four vessels belonging to Bayonne, which were coming from Flanders, they attacked and took them, and put all whom they found on board to death. They made for La Rochelle, and, in a few days, came to Guerrande, where they landed; and, having heard that the lord Robert d’Artois was laying siege to Vannes, they sent to lord Charles, who was at Rennes, to know how he would have them act.

The lord Robert, as you have heard, was before Vannes, with a thousand men at arms, and three thousand archers. He overran, burnt, and destroyed all the country round about, as far as Dinant and Goi la Forêt, so that no one dared remain in the flat country. During this siege of Vannes, there were many skirmishes and attacks at the barriers of the town, the inhabitants of which were eager to defend themselves. The countess remained all the time with lord Robert at the siege. Sir Walter Manny, who had continued in Hennebon the whole time that the countess was in England, gave up the charge of it to the lord of Cadoudal; and taking with him sir Yves de Tresiquidi, a hundred men at arms, and two hundred archers, came to the army before Vannes. Soon after his arrival, the town was assaulted in three places at once; and the English archers shot so thickly, that scarcely any one dared to show themselves at the battlements. This combat lasted a whole day, and many were killed and wounded on both sides. Towards evening, the English retired to their quarters, and the inhabitants to their houses, quite tired, when they disarmed themselves: but the army did not do so; they only took off their helmets, and drank once to refresh themselves. Presently after, by the advice of lord Robert, the army was drawn out again in three divisions: two of them were led to that part of the town where they intended to make the strongest assault, and the third was ordered to remain quiet, until the engagement should have lasted some time, which would probably bring all the inhabitants to that quarter to defend themselves: they were then to advance to the weakest part of the place, and, being provided with rope ladders and iron hooks, they were to attempt to scale the walls and conquer the town. This was executed. The lord Robert marched with the van division, and skirmished close up to the barriers: the earl of Salisbury did the same at another gate: and because it was very late, to alarm the inhabitants more, they made great fires, so that the flames lighted the whole town; which made many think their houses were on fire. They cried out “Treason! treason! arm yourselves;” for many were already gone to rest, as they had worked hard in the day time. They got up as quickly as they could, and ran, without any order, and without speaking to their captains, to the part where the fires were. The lords also, who were in their hôtels, armed themselves. In the midst of this bustle, the earl of Oxford and sir Walter Manny advanced, with the third division, to 120 a part where there was no guard; and, having fixed their ladders, mounted them, with their targets on their heads, and entered the town very quietly, without the French or Bretons, who were within it, having the least suspicion until they saw their enemies in the streets. They then all took to flight, each to save himself: their captains, not having time to get into the castle, mounted their horses, and, passing through a postern, gained the fields, to save their lives: happy were those who could by this means escape. However, the four knights mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, saved themselves, and a part of their people; but all who were encountered by the English were slain or made prisoners. The town of Vannes was overrun and sacked; all sorts of people entered into it; and the countess of Montfort made her entry there with lord Robert d’Artois, to her great joy.



THUS, as I have related, was the town of Vannes taken. Five days after that event, the countess of Montfort, sir Walter Manny, sir Yves de Tresiquidi, and many other English and Breton knights, returned to Hennebon. At the same time, the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Suffolk, the earl of Pembroke, with three thousand men at arms and three thousand archers, took leave of the lord Robert, left Vannes, and went towards Rennes, which the lord Charles and his lady had quitted four days before, and were gone to Nantes; but they had left in that city great numbers of knights and squires. The lord Lewis of Spain remained at sea with his Genoese and Spaniards, and so carefully guarded the coasts of England, that no one could come from thence, or go into Brittany, without much danger; and this year he did great damage to the English.

The country was much agitated by the capture of the city of Vannes; for they imagined that the captains who were within it ought to have defended it against all the world, as it was sufficiently strong, very well provided with men at arms, artillery, and all other sorts of provision. The lord of Clisson and sir Hervé de Léon were quite ashamed of their mishap; and, their enemies speaking villanously of what they had done, they sent to a great number of knights and squires of Brittany, and entreated they would meet them at an appointed rendezvous, by a certain day, with as many followers as they could bring. They all cheerfully promised, and exerted themselves so much, as did many of the people in Brittany, that, by the appointed time, there came before the town of Vannes twelve thousand men armed, including freemen and feoffs. Thither came, with a numerous body, the lord Robert de Beaumanoir, marshal of Brittany, and having besieged the city on every side, they began to assault it very sharply. When the lord Robert found himself thus besieged in Vannes, he was not negligent to defend it valiantly against the Bretons, who repeated their attacks with great courage and eagerness, lest those who had gone for Rennes should return and disappoint their enterprise. They gave one assault so well supported by the knights, squires, and even by the commonalty of the country, that they overpowered the barriers of the town, then the gates, and entered the town by storm, putting the English to flight, killing and wounding many. Among the last was the lord Robert, who was very badly wounded, insomuch that it was with difficulty he escaped being taken: he fled through a postern gate, and lord Stafford with him. At this capture of Vannes, the lord Despencer, son of the lord Hugh Spencer, mentioned at the beginning of this history, was taken prisoner by sir Hervé de Léon; but he was so badly wounded that he died the third day afterwards. Thus did the French regain the town of Vannes.

Lord Robert d’Artois continued some little time in Hennebon; but at last he was recommended to return to England, where he would find more skilful surgeons and physicians. On his voyage, he was so much affected and oppressed by sea-sickness that this wounds grew worse: he survived but a short time after he had been carried to London. He was courteous, courageous, and gallant, and of the first blood in the world. He was buried at London in the church of St. Paul; and the king of England made his obsequies as solemn as if they had been for his cousin-german the earl of Derby. The lord Robert was much lamented in England; and when the king was informed of his death, he swore he would 121 never rest until he had revenged it: he would go himself into Brittany, and reduce the country to such a situation that it should not recover itself for forty years. He issued out his summons for all manner of persons to get themselves in readiness to follow him at the end of the month; and he collected a numerous fleet, well provided with every thing that was necessary. At the end of the month he put to sea, and anchored near Vannes, at the same place where lord Robert had landed with his army. It took them three days to disembark their horse, provisions, &c.: on the fourth, they advanced toward Vannes. The earls of Salisbury and Pembroke, with the English before named, were all this time carrying on the siege of Rennes.



THE English king was so active from the time of his landing in Brittany, that he advanced with his whole army before Vannes, and laid siege to it. At that time there was in Vannes Olivier de Clisson, sir Hervé de Léon, the lord of Tournemine, sir Geoffry de Malestroit, sir Guy de Loheac, who having imagined for some time that the king of England would come to Brittany, had amply provided the town and castle with men, and every kind of stores and provisions. When the king had quartered his men, he ordered an assault, and his archers to make good use of their bows. This lasted half a day; but he won nothing, though they laboured hard, so well was the town defended. As soon as the countess of Montfort knew of the arrival of the king of England, she set out from Hennebon, accompanied by sir Walter Manny and other knights and squires, and came towards Vannes to compliment the king, and entertain him and all the barons of his army. After a stay of four days, she and her suite returned to Hennebon.

We must now speak of the lord Charles of Blois, who remained in the city of Nantes. When he was informed that the king of England was come into Brittany, he signified it to the king of France, his uncle, in order to obtain assistance. The king of England perceiving that Vannes was strong, and well provided with every necessary, and hearing from his people that the country round about was poor, and so destroyed that they had difficulty in getting forage for themselves and horses, as they were very numerous, ordered the earl of Arundel, the baron of Stafford, sir Walter Manny, sir Yves de Tresiquidi, sir Girard de Rochefort, with five hundred men at arms and six thousand archers, to remain there. He himself, with the rest of his army advanced towards Rennes, burning and ruining the country on all sides, and was most joyfully received by his army, who lay before it, and had been there for a considerable time. When he had tarried five days, he learnt that the lord Charles was at Nantes, collecting a large force of men at arms. He set out, therefore, leaving those whom he had found at Rennes, and came before Nantes, which he besieged as closely as he could; but he was unable to surround it, such was its size and extent. The marshals therefore, and their people, overran the country, and destroyed it. The king of England drew out one day his army in battle array on a hill near Nantes, in expectation that the lord Charles would come forth, and offer him an opportunity of fighting with him: but, having waited from morning till noon in vain, they returned to their quarters: the light horse however, in their retreat, galloped up to the barriers, and set fire to the suburbs.

The king of England, in this manner, remained before Nantes: the lord Charles, who was within it, sent frequent information to the king of France of the state of his affairs, who had already ordered his son, the duke of Normandy, to his assistance, and which duke was then come to Angers, where he had fixed the rendezvous for his forces that came to him from all quarters. During this siege, the king of England made frequent skirmishes, but without success, always losing some of his men. When, therefore, he found he could gain nothing by his assaults, and that the lord Charles would not come out into the plains to fight with him, he established there the earl of Oxford, sir Henry Beaumont, the lord Percy, the lord Roos, the lord Mowbray, the lord Delawar, sir Reginald Cobham, sir John Lisle, with six hundred men armed and two hundred archers. He himself advanced into 122 the country of Brittany, wasting it wherever he went, until he came to the town of Dinant, of which sir Peter Portebœuf was governor. He immediately laid siege to it all round, and ordered it to be vigorously assaulted: those within made a valiant resistance. Thus did the king of England, in one season and in one day, make an assault by himself, or those ordered by him, upon three cities in Brittany and a good town.



DURING the time that the king of England was thus overrunning the country of Brittany, his army that was besieging Vannes made every day some sharp assaults upon one of the gates: all the most expert warriors of each side were attracted to that place, and many gallant deeds of arms were performed; for those of Vannes had opened the gate, and posted themselves at the barriers, because they had noticed the banners of the Arundel, the earl of Warwick, the baron of Stafford, and sir Walter Manny, who appeared to them to adventure themselves too rashly. Upon which the lord of Clisson, sir Hervé de Léon, and some other knights, took more courage. The engagement was well supported on both sides and lasted a considerable time: but finally the English were repulsed, and driven back from the barriers. The Breton knights, opening the barriers, pushed forward, sword in hand, leaving behind them six knights, with a sufficient force, to guard the town and pursued the English, who fought well as they retreated. The conflict became stronger; for the English increased and were strengthened, which forced the Bretons to retire, but not so regularly as they had advanced. The struggle now was very hard: the Breton knights had much difficulty to return, and many were killed and wounded. When those at the barriers saw their people retreating and driven back, they closed them, but so untimely that the lord of Clisson was shut out, and also sir Hervé de Léon, who were both taken prisoners. On the other hand, on the part of the English, who had advanced too eagerly, was the baron of Stafford, who was enclosed between the barriers and the gate, where the combat raged very fiercely. The lord Stafford was taken, and many of his people were made prisoners, or slain. So the English retreated to their quarters, and the Bretons into the city of Vannes.



IN the manner above related were these knights taken prisoners. After that engagement, there were not any others of consequence; for each side was upon its guard. The king of England had laid siege to Dinant, who when he had been four days before it, collected a great number of boats, in which he placed his archers and had them rowed up to the palisades of wood with which the town was enclosed. They shot so well that no one dared scarcely to show himself at the windows, or any where else, to defend it. With the archers, there were others who with sharp axes, whilst the archers made use of their bows, cut the palisades, and in a short time did so much damage that they flung down a large part of them, and entered the town by force. The town’s people then fled towards the market-place; but there was little regularity or order among them, for those who had passed the ditch in boats, and had entered the town, advanced to the gate, and opened it, so that every one might pass. Thus was the town of Dinant in Brittany taken, sacked and pillaged, and the governor, sir Peter Portebœuf, made prisoner. The English took whatever they pleased, and made a rich booty, for the town at that time was very wealthy and full of merchandise. When the king of England had achieved this deed, and had conquered the town, he left it empty, not having any intention of keeping it, and advanced towards Vannes, where he took up his quarters.

We must now speak of the lord Lewis of Spain, the lord Charles Grimaldi, and lord Otho Doria, who at this time had under their command eight galleys, thirteen barges, and thirty-nine 123 vessels, manned by Genoese and Spaniards. They kept cruising between England and Brittany, and at times did great mischief to the English, who were coming to recruit their countrymen with troops and provisions. Once, among other times, they attacked the fleet of the king of England, that lay at anchor in a small port of Brittany near Vannes, which not being sufficiently guarded, they slew a great part of the mariners, and would have done much more damage, if the English, who were before Vannes, had not hastened to their assistance. When this news was brought to the army, every one was in motion: but, notwithstanding the speed they made, they could not prevent the lord Lewis and his party from carrying off four vessels laden with provisions, and sinking three others, the crews of which were all drowned. The king was then advised to send one part of his fleet to the harbour of Brest, and the other to that of Hennebon, which he complied with, and continued to besiege both Vannes and Rennes.



WE will now return to the army which the duke of Normandy was marching into Brittany, to assist his cousin the lord Charles of Blois. The duke, after having collected his forces, was informed how the king of England was laying waste all the country of Brittany; that he was besieging three cities, and had taken the town of Dinant: he set out therefore with a very great force from the city of Angers, having more than four thousand men at arms, and thirty thousand others. All the baggage took the high road for Nantes, under the command of the two marshals of France, the lord of Montmorency, and the lord de St. Venant. After them came the duke of Normandy, the earl d’Alençon his uncle, the earl of Blois his cousin, the duke de Bourbon, the earl de Ponthieu, the earl of Boulogne, the earl of Vendôme, the earl of Dammartin, the lord of Craon, the lord of Coucy, the lord of Sully, the lord of Fresnes, the lord of Roye, and so many barons and knights from Normandy, Auvergne, Limousin, Berry, Maine, and Ponthieu, that it would take too much time to name them all; and they were every day increasing, for the king of France had reiterated his summons. The English lords before Nantes received intelligence, that the duke of Normandy was on his march with forty thousand men: this news they sent off in great haste to king Edward; the receiving of which made him very thoughtful; and he had at one time the idea of breaking up the siege of Vannes, as well as that of Rennes, and to retire towards Nantes. He was, however, advised to continue where he was, as his position was strong, and near to his fleet, and to wait for his enemies. He was also advised to send for the division of his army that was before Nantes, and continue the siege of Rennes; as that place was not so far distant but that his army could come to his assistance, if there should be any necessity for it. The king followed this counsel, and sent for those that were before Nantes, who came to the siege of Vannes. The duke of Normandy and his army arrived at Nantes, where the lord Charles and a number of knights were. The lords were lodged in the town, and the army round about; for there was not room for them in the city or suburbs.



DURING the time the duke of Normandy remained in Nantes, the lords of England who were before Rennes made a vigorous assault upon that city: they had, for a long time before, prepared machines for this attack. Though it lasted a whole day, they gained no advantage, but lost many of their men. The baron d’Ancenis, the lord du Pont, sir John de Malestroit, Yvain Charruel, and Bertrand du Guesclin, then a squire, were in the town, and, as well as the bishop, defended themselves so valiantly, that they suffered no loss. 124 Notwithstanding this, the English remained before the place, and wasted and destroyed the country round about.

The duke of Normandy left Nantes with his army, and was advised to advance towards Vannes, that he might the sooner meet the enemy; for he had heard that that town was much straitened, and in greater danger of being lost than Rennes. He and his whole army, therefore, took their route to Vannes, under the command of the two marshals and sir Geoffry de Charny: the earl of Guines, son to the constable of France, had the rearward. They continued their march until they came pretty near to Vannes, on the opposite side where the king of England was quartered: they then halted, encamped in a fine meadow, and made a large ditch in their front. The marshals, and sir Robert de Beaumanoir, marshal of Brittany, made frequent excursions; there were skirmishes on both sides, which occasioned the overthrow and death of many. The king of England sent for the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Pembroke, and the rest who were besieging Rennes. The English, and the Bretons of the Montfort party, might amount to nearly two thousand five hundred men at arms, six thousand archers, and three thousand men on foot. The French were four times that number, well conditioned and well armed. The king of England had taken such a position before Vannes, that the French could not attack him but to their disadvantage; and since the arrival of the duke of Normandy, he had not made any assault upon the town, wishing to spare his men and his artillery.

Thus these two armies lay near each other for a long time. When the winter set in, pope Clement VI. sent thither the cardinal of Preneste and the cardinal of Clermont, who made frequent visits from one army to the other, to endeavour to reconcile them; but they would not consent to a peace.* There were frequent engagements between the foragers, and many killed on each side. The English were obliged to go out foraging in large parties, for fear of falling into ambuscades; and every time they went abroad they were in great danger of them. Add to this, that the lord Lewis of Spain, and his fleet, guarded so carefully the coast, that the English army could scarcely receive any thing from England, which made them suffer much. It was the intention of the duke to keep the king thus in a manner besieged; but the French endured much pain from the inclemency of the weather, for it rained night and day, which destroyed the greater part of their horses, and forced them to dislodge and lie in the open fields, from the great quantity of water which inundated their camp. The cardinals now exerted themselves so effectually, that a truce for three years was agreed to; and the king of England and the duke swore, as is customary, not to infringe it during that time.


*  The first of these prelates was Peter des Près, born in Quercy, chancellor of the church of Rome, and bishop of Frescati: the other was Annibal de Cecano, bishop of Palestine. The conferences were held in the priory of the Magdalen, in the town of Malestroit. The commissioners on the part of France were, Eudes duke of Burgundy, and Peter duke of Bourbon; on the part of England, Henry earl of Lancaster, William Bohun and William Montacute. — Hist. de Bretagne.



THUS these great armies were separated, and the siege of Vannes raised. The duke of Normandy retired to Nantes, and took the two cardinals with him: the king of England went to the countess of Montfort at Hennebon. There was an exchange made of the lord of Clisson for the baron of Stafford. When the king of England had been some time at Hennebon with the countess, and had arranged his affairs, he gave her in charge to the two brothers de Spinefort, sir William de Cadoudal, and others, and set out with his knights for England, where he arrived about Christmas*. The duke of Normandy returned into France, and, having disbanded his army, each went to his own home.

Soon afterwards, the lord of Clisson was arrested, upon suspicion of treason, and confined in the prison of the Châtelet in Paris: at which all who heard it were much surprised. The barons and knights of France asked each other what could be the reason, for they could 125 not make out any thing satisfactory; but they imagined it might be occasioned by jealousy, because the king of England had preferred to exchange him for lord Stafford to sir Hervé de Léon, who was still a prisoner: so that the favour the king of England had shown to the lord of Clisson in preference to sir Hervé, his enemies thought had been improperly gained, and grounded upon that the suspicion for which he lost his head at Paris, and which occasioned great grief, for no one could find a sufficient reason for it. Shortly afterwards, many other knights were accused of similar crimes. The lord of Malestroit and his son, the lord of Avaugour, sir Tibaut de Morillon, and other lords of Brittany, to the number of ten knights and squires, were beheaded at Paris. Four other knights of Normandy, sir William Baron, sir Henry de Malestroit, the lord of Rochetesson, and sir Richard de Persy, were put to death upon reports, whether well founded or not I am ignorant, which caused afterwards great troubles in Brittany and Normandy. The lord of Clisson left behind him a son, named Olivier de Clisson after his father, who withdrew himself immediately to the castle of Montfort, with the countess and her son, who was nearly of the same age with himself, and without a father; for in truth the earl of Montfort had died in the Louvre at Paris.


*  Edward embarked about the end of February, and landed at Weymouth on a Sunday, 2nd March, 1343. — Rymer.

  The lord Stafford was exchanged for Olivier de Clisson, and Godfrey de Harcourt. They entered into a treaty with Edward, and the earl of Salisbury was the person to whom it was intrusted. On the earl’s return to England, on hearing from his countess Edward’s conduct to her during his absence, he retired from the court secretly, and went to France, when he delivered up to Philip de Valois the engagements of Olivier de Clisson and the other knights. Olivier was beheaded, and his body hung on the gibbet at Monfaucon. Godfrey de Harcourt, being banished the kingdom, retired to England. — Hist. de Bretagne, vol. i. p. 268.

  See a former note, p. 96, respecting his death.



ABOUT this time, the king of England resolved to rebuild and embellish the great castle of Windsor, which king Arthur had first founded in time past, and where he had erected and established that noble round table from whence so many gallant knights had issued forth, and displayed the valiant prowess of their deeds at arms over the world. King Edward, therefore, determined to establish an order of knighthood, consisting of himself, his children, and the most gallant knights in Christendom, to the number of forty. He ordered it to be denominated “knights of the blue garter,” and that the feast should be celebrated every year, at Windsor, upon St. George’s day. He summoned, therefore, all the earls, barons and knights of his realm, to inform them of his intentions; they heard it with great pleasure; for it appeared to them highly honourable, and capable of increasing love and friendship. Forty knights were then elected, according to report and estimation the bravest in Christendom, who sealed, and swore to maintain and keep the feast and the statutes which had been made. The king founded a chapel at Windsor, in honour of St. George, and established canons, there to serve God, with a handsome endowment. He then issued his proclamation for this feast by his heralds, whom he sent to France, Scotland, Burgundy, Hainault, Flanders, Brabant, and the empire of Germany, and offered to all knights and squires, that might come to this ceremony, passports to last for fifteen days after it was over*. The celebration of this order was fixed for St. George’s day next ensuing, to be held at Windsor, 1344; and the queen was to be present, accompanied by three hundred ladies and damsels, all of high birth, and richly dressed in similar robes.


*  The number of knights of the garter were only twenty-six: underneath are the names of the first knights: —

 1.  King Edward.

 2.  Edward prince of Wales.

 3.  Henry earl of Lancaster. .

 4.  Thomas earl of Warwick.

 5.  Piers de Greilly, captal of Buch.

 6.  Ralph lord Stafford.

 7.  William earl of Salisbury.

 8.  Roger earl of March.

 9.  John lord of Lisle.

10.  Bartholomew lord Burgherst.

11.  John lord Beauchamp.

12.  John lord Mohun of Dunster.

13.  Hugh lord Courtenay.

14.  Thomas lord Holland.

15.  John lord Gray of Codnore.

16.  Sir Richard Fitzsimon

17.  Sir Miles Stapleton.

18.  Sir Thomas Wale.

19.  Sir Hugh Wrottesley.

20.  Sir Nele Loring.

21.  Sir John Chandos.

22.  Lord James Audley.

23.  Sir Otho Holland.

24.  Sir Henry Eam of Brabant.

25.  Sir Sanchio d’Ambreticourt.

26.  Sir Walter Paveley.

  The first mention of robes for the queen, &c., is an. 7 Ric.2; but it is supposed the custom originated at the institution. — Ashmole.

For further particulars respecting the order of the garter, see Ashmole and Anstis.




WHILST the king of England was employed in making preparations for the reception of the lords and ladies whom he expected at this feast, news was brought him of the death of the lord of Clisson and the other knights. He was so much enraged at it, that he had determined to retaliate upon the body of sir Hervé de Léon, who was his prisoner, and would surely have executed it, if the earl of Derby, his cousin, had not remonstrated, and showed in council such good reasons, as, for the sake of his own personal honour, induced him to refrain from this revenge. He added, “My lord, if that king Philip has, through rashness, had the villany to put to death such valiant knights as these were, do not suffer your courage to be tainted by it; for in truth, if you will but consider a little, your prisoner has nothing to do with this outrage: have a goodness, therefore, to give him his liberty, at a reasonable ransom.” The king ordered the captive knight to be brought before him, and said, “Ha, sir Hervé, sir Hervé, my adversary, Philip de Valois, has shown his treachery in too cruel a manner, when he put to death so many knights. It has given me much displeasure; and it appears as it were done in despite of us. If I were to take his conduct for my example, I ought to do the like to you; for you have done me more harm in Brittany than any other; but I shall endure it, and let him act according to his own will. I will preserve my own honour unspotted, and shall allow you your liberty at a trifling ransom, out of my love for the earl of Derby, who has requested it; but upon condition, that you perform what I am going to ask of you.” The knight replied, “Dear sir, I will do, to the best of my power, whatever you shall command.” The king said, “I know, sir Hervé, that you are one of the richest knights in Brittany; and, if I were to press you, you would pay me thirty or forty thousand crowns for your ransom. But you will go to king Philip de Valois, my adversary, and tell him from me, that, by putting so many knights to death in so dishonourable a manner, he has sore displeased me: and I say and maintain, that he has by this means broken and infringed the truce which we had agreed to; and that from this moment I consider it as broken, and send him by you my defiance. In consideration of your carrying this message, I will let you off for ten thousand crowns, which you will pay, or send to Bruges, in five days after you shall have crossed the sea. You will also inform all such knights and squires as wish to attend my feast, for we shall be right glad to see them, not to desist on this account, for they shall have passports for their safe return, to last for fifteen days after it be over.” “Sir,” answered the knight, “I will perform your message to the best of my abilities; and God reward you and my lord of Derby for your kindness to me.”

Sir Hervé de Léon did not after this remain long in prison, but, having taken leave of the king, went to Southampton, and embarked on board a vessel, with the intention of landing at Harfleur. A violent storm, however, which lasted fifteen days, prevented it. He lost his horses, as well as those of his servants, which were thrown overboard; and he himself was so ill by it, that he never after enjoyed good health. At last the mariners, with much danger, landed at Crotoy*; from whence sir Hervé and his suite went on foot to Abbeville, where they procured horses; but sir Hervé was so ill, he could not bear the motion of the horse: he was therefore put in a litter, and came to Paris, to king Philip, to whom he delivered his message, word for word; but he did not live long. He died in returning to his own country, in the city of Angers. God have mercy on his soul!


*  Crotoy, a town in Picardy, situated at the mouth of the Somme, opposite to St. Valery.




ST. George’s day drew near, when the grand feast was to be celebrated at the castle of Windsor. The king had made great preparations for it; and there were earls, barons, ladies, and damsels, most nobly entertained. The festivities and tilts lasted a fortnight. Many knights came to them from beyond sea, from Flanders, Hainault, and Brabant, but not one from France. During the holding of these feasts, the king received intelligence from different countries, particularly from Gascony. The lord de l’Esparre, the lord de Chaumont, the lord de Mucident, were sent thence by the other barons and knights who at that time were dependent on the king of England; such as the lord d’Albret, the lord de Pumiers, the lord de Montferrant, the lord of Duras, the lord of Craton, the lord of Grailley, and many others; and some were likewise sent by the cities of Bordeaux and Bayonne. These ambassadors were most courteously entertained and received by the king and his council; to whom they explained the weakness of the country of Gascony, and that his good friends in that country and the loyal city of Bordeaux wanted aid: they therefore entreated, that he would send thither such a captain and force of men at arms, as he might think able to make head against the French, who kept the field in opposition to all that were sent to meet them. The king soon afterward appointed his cousin the earl of Derby leader of the expedition, and nominated those knights that he had fixed upon to be under him: first, the earl of Pembroke, the earl of Oxford, the lord Stafford, sir Walter Manny, sir Frank van Halle, sir Henry Eam of Brabant, sir Richard Fitzsimon, sir Hugh Hastings, sir Stephen Tombey, sir Richard Haydon, sir John Norwich, sir Richard Radcliffe, sir Robert Oxendon, and several more. They were fully three hundred knights and squires, six hundred men at arms, and two thousand archers. The king advised the earl his cousin to take plenty of gold and silver with him, and to bestow it liberally among the knights and squires, in order to acquire their good opinion and affection.

The king also, during the time of these festivals, sent sir Thomas Dagworth into Brittany, to reinforce the countess of Montfort, and assist her in preserving that country; for notwithstanding the truce, he doubted not but that king Philip would begin the war, on account of the message he had sent to him by sir Hervé de Léon. He therefore despatched thither one hundred men at arms, and two hundred archers, under the command of sir Thomas. He likewise ordered the earl of Salisbury into the county of D’ulnestre; for the Scots and rebelled against him, had burnt much in Cornwall, and had advanced as far as Bristol, and besieged the town of D’ulnestre*. However, the earl of Salisbury marched thither, with three hundred men at arms, and six hundred archers well appointed. Thus the king sent forth his people, and directed his treasurers to deliver out to the commanding officers a sufficiency of money for their own expenses, and to pay their fellow-soldiers; and each set out according to the orders he had received.

We will speak first of the earl of Derby, as he had the greatest charge, which he conducted to Southampton, and embarking on board the fleet stationed there for him, made sail for Bayonne: it was a handsome city, and had always held out for the English. He arrived there, without accident, on the 6th day of June 1344, when he disembarked and landed all his stores: they were joyfully received by the inhabitants, and he remained there seven days, to refresh himself and his horses. The earl of Derby and his army left Bayonne the eighth day after his arrival, and set out for Bordeaux, where a grand procession came out to receive him. The earl was lodged in the abbey of St. Andrew, and his people within the 128 city. When the count de Lisle was informed of the arrival of the English, he sent for the count de Comminges, the count de Perigord, the count de Carmain, the viscount de Villemur, the count Duras, the count de Valentinois, the count de Mirande, the lord of Mirade, the lord de la Barde, the lord of Pincornet, the viscount de Châtillon, the lord of Chateauneuf, the lord de Lescun, the abbot of St. Savin, and for all the other lords who were attached to the king of France. As soon as they were all assembled, he demanded their counsel on the arrival of the earl of Derby. The lords, in reply, said, they were sufficiently strong to defend the passage of the river Dordogne, at Bergerac, against the English. This answer mightily pleased the count de Lisle, who was at that time like a king in Gascony, and had been so since the commencement of the wars between the two kings. He had taken the field, captured the towns and castles, and waged war upon all who were of the English party. These lords sent immediately to assemble their dependants on all sides, and advanced to Bergerac, where they entered the suburbs, which are large, strong, and partly surrounded by the Dordogne. They had all their purveyances brought to them there in safety.


*  This passage has puzzled me much, Mr. Barnes, in his Life of Edward III., says, it was the young earl of Salisbury. One of my MSS. calls him the lord William earl of Salisbury, which was the name of the earl’s son. But Dugdale contents himself with saying, that in the 18th of Edward III., “the earl of Salisbury” (speaking of the first earl) “was sent into the north, with the earl of Ulster, one hundred men at arms, and six hundred archers, against the Scots, then in hostility.”

If the Scots had advanced to Bristol, then it may perhaps be Dunster castle.

Froissart seems to have been under a mistake, from misinformation, as I cannot find any traces of this invasion.



WHEN the earl of Derby had remained at Bordeaux for about fifteen days, he was informed that the barons and knights of Gascony were in Bergerac: he therefore, one morning, marched that way with his army, and ordered his marshals, sir Walter Manny and sir Frank van Halle, to push forward. The English marched that morning no more than three leagues, to a castle called Montcroullier, which belonged to them, and was situated a short league from Bergerac. At this castle of Montcroullier, they tarried that day and night. The day following, their scouts were sent as far as the barriers of Bergerac: and, on their return, they related to sir Walter Manny, that they had reconnoitred the position of the French, which did not appear to them any thing very formidable. This day, the English dined early; and, during the repast, sir Walter Manny, addressing himself to the earl of Derby, said, “My lord, if we were good knights, and well armed, we might, this evening, partake of the wines of these French lords who are in garrison in Bergerac.” The earl answered, “that it should not be his fault if they did not.” When their companions heard this, they said, “Let us hasten to arm ourselves; for we will ride towards Bergerac.” It was no sooner said than done: they were all armed, and mounted, in an instant. When the earl of Derby perceived such willingness in his men, he was exceedingly joyful, and cried out, “In the name of God, and of St. George, let us march to our enemies.” They then rode on, with banners displayed, during the greatest heat of the day, until they came to the barriers of Bergerac: which was not a place easily to be taken, for a part of the river Dordogne surrounded it. The French lords who were in the town, seeing the English coming to attack them, said they should be well received, and sallied forth in battle array: they had with them a multitude of foot soldiers, and country people badly armed. The English made their approaches in close order, so that they were plainly to be distinguished by the townsmen, and the archers began to shoot thickly. When the foot soldiers felt the points of the arrows, and saw the banners and pennons glittering in the air, which they had not been accustomed to see, they fell back upon their own men at arms: the archers continued to shoot with great quickness, doing much mischief to them. The lords of England then advanced, mounted on their excellent coursers, with lances in their rests, and, dashing into the midst of this infantry, drove them down at pleasure, and killed and wounded the French men at arms in abundance; for they could not in any way exert themselves, as these runaways had blocked up the road.

There was a severe engagement, and many were killed and unhorsed: for the English archers, being posted on each side of the road, shot so well together, that no one dared to venture upon it. Thus were those of Bergerac driven back again to the suburbs, but with so much loss, that the first bridge and bars were taken by storm, and the English entered 129 with them. Upon the pavement were many knights and squires slain and wounded, and many prisoners made of those who came forward to defend the passage. The lord of Mirepoix was slain under the banner of sir Walter Manny, who was the first that entered the suburbs. When the count de Lisle saw that the English had got possession of the suburbs, and were knocking down and killing his people without mercy, he and the other lords of Gascony made a handsome retreat towards the town, and passed the bridge with great difficulty. At this place the engagement was very severe, and lasted a considerable time: the noblemen of France and of England, named in the preceding chapters, combated most valiantly hand to hand: neither knight nor bachelor could there conceal himself. Sir Walter Manny had advanced so far among his enemies, that he was in great danger. The English made prisoners of the viscount de Bousquetin, the lords of Châtillon, of Chateauneuf, and of Lescun. The French retreated into the fort, let down the portcullis, and, getting upon the battlements, began to throw stones and other things, to drive their enemies away. This assault and skirmish lasted until vespers, when the English retreated, quite weary, into the suburbs, which they had won; where they found such quantities of provision and wine, that might, on occasion, have lasted them for four months most plentifully.

When the morrow dawned, the earl of Derby had his trumpets sounded, and his forces drawn out in battle array, to approach the town, and make a mighty assault, which lasted until noon. They had not much success; for they found that there were within it men at arms who defended themselves valiantly. At noontide, the English retreated, perceiving that they only lost their time. The lords then assembled in council, and determined to attack the town on the side next the river; for it was there only fortified by palisades. The earl of Derby sent therefore to the fleet at Bordeaux for vessels, which he ordered to come to him up the Dordogne: there were upwards of sixty barks and other vessels lying at Bordeaux, that came to Bergerac. In the evening of the following day, the English made their arrangements, and at sun-rise, all those who were ordered to attack the town, and the fleet, were quite ready, under the command of the lord Stafford. There were many knights and squires who had requested to be on this expedition, in hopes of preferment, as well as a body of archers. They advanced in haste, and came to some large round piles placed before the palisades, which they flung down. The townsmen, seeing this, went to the count de Lisle, the lords, knights, and squires, who were present, and said to them, “Gentlemen, we pray you to take heed what you are about; for we run a great risk of being ruined. If the town be taken, we shall lose all we have, as well as our lives: it will therefore be much better that we surrender it to the earl of Derby, before we suffer more damage.” The count replied, “We will go to that part where you say the danger is; for we will not consent to surrender it so easily.” The Gascon knights and squires came, therefore, to defend the palisades; but the archers, who were in the barks, kept up so quick an attack with their arrows, that none dared to show themselves, unless they chose to run the risk of being killed or wounded. In the town, there were with the Gascons two or three hundred Genoese cross-bowmen, whose armour shielded them from the arrows: they kept the archers well employed all the day, and many on each side were wounded. At last, the English who were in the vessels exerted themselves so much, that they broke down a large piece of the palisades; those of Bergerac then retreated, and requested time to consider, if they should not surrender the place. The remainder of that day and night was granted them, upon condition that they did not attempt to repair the breaches: and every one retired to his quarters. The lords of Gascony held, that night, a long council; and, about midnight, having packed up all their baggage, they set out from Bergerac, and followed the road to la Rèole, which is not far distant, whose gates were opened to them, and there they took up their quarters.

The English, on the morrow morning, re-embarked on board their fleet, and came to the part where the palisades had been broken down: they found in that place great numbers of the townsmen, who entreated the knights, that they would beseech the earl of Derby to have mercy on them and allow them their lives and fortunes, and from thenceforward they 130 would yield obedience to the king of England. The earl of Pembroke and the earl of Oxford replied, they would cheerfully comply with their request, and went to the earl of Derby who was not present, and related to him what the inhabitants of Bergerac had desired of them. The earl of Derby answered, “He who begs for mercy should have mercy shown him: tell them to open their gates, and let us enter, when we will assure them of safety from us and from our people.” The two lords returned, and reported what the earl had said. Upon which the townsmen went to the market-place, where every one men and women being assembled, they rang the bells, threw open the gates, went out in procession to meet the earl of Derby, and with all humility conducted him to the church, where they swore homage and fealty to him, acknowledging him as their lord, for the king of England, by virtue of a procuration which he had with him.


*  A populous town in Perigord, diocese of Perigueux.

  Rèole, — a town of the Bazadois, on the Garonne.



THE same day that the count de Lisle, the barons and knights of Gascony, had retreated to la Rèole, they held a counsel, and resolved to separate and withdraw into fortresses, to carry on the war from these garrisons, and to form a body of four or five hundred combatants, by way of frontier guard, under the command of the seneschal of Toulouse. The count de Villemur was ordered to Auberoche*; sir Bertrand des Pres to Pelagrue; the lord Philip de Dyon to Montagret: the lord of Montbrandon to Mauduran; sir Arnold de Dyon to Montgis; Robert de Malmore to Beaumont, in Laillois; sir Charles de Poitiers to Pennes in the Agenois. All these knights departed for their different garrisons; but the count de Lisle remained in la Rèole, and had the fortress put in proper repair. When the earl of Derby had taken possession of Bergerac, and staid there two days, he asked the seneschal of Bordeaux, what was most advisable for him next to undertake, as he wished not to remain idle. The seneschal replied, that he thought it would be best to go towards Perigord and upper Gascony. The earl of Derby then gave out his orders to march to Perigord, and left sir John de la Santé§ captain of Bergerac. As the English advanced, they came to a castle called Langon, of which the provost of Toulouse was governor: they halted there, not thinking it prudent to leave such a post in their rear, and the marshal’s battalion immediately began the assault, which lasted all that day; but they gained nothing. Almost the whole army was employed against it the next day; and, with wood and faggots, they filled up the ditches, so that they could approach the walls. Sir Frank van Halle asked the besieged if they were willing to surrender, because they might delay it until it was too late. Upon this, they demanded a truce to consider of it, which being granted them, after some little time spent in counsel, they all set out for Monsac¥, in the French interest, but took nothing with them. The earl of Derby appointed a squire called Aymon Lyon, governor of the castle of Langon**, and gave him thirty archers.

The earl of Derby then rode on towards a town called Le Lac; but the townsmen came out to meet him, brought him the keys of the town, and swore homage and fealty to him. The earl passed on, and came to Mandarant, which he took by storm: after he had placed a garrison in the fortress, he came before the castle of Montgis, won it in the same manner, and sent the governor prisoner to Bordeaux. He afterwards advanced to Punach, which he took and did the same to the town and castle of Lieux††, where he staid three days, to refresh himself and army. On the fourth day he marched to Forsath‡‡, which he gained easily enough, and then the town of Pondaire. He next came to a town of considerable 131 size, called Beaumont en Laillois, which was a dependency on the count de Lisle. The earl was three days before it, and many vigorous attacks were made; for it was well provided with men at arms and artillery, who defended themselves as long as they were able: at last it was taken, with much slaughter on all those that were found in it. The earl of Derby recruited his forces there with fresh men at arms, and then advanced towards the principal town of the inheritance of the count de Lisle, which was under the command of the lord Philip de Dyon and the lord Arnold de Dyon. He invested it on all sides, and made his archers advance to the barriers, where they shot so well that none durst appear to defend them: the English, having won the barriers, and every thing even to the gate, retired in the evening. On the next morning, they renewed the attack in different places at once, and gave those within so much to do, that they did not know which way to defend themselves. The inhabitants therefore requested two knights who were there to treat with the earl of Derby for a peace, that their fortunes might be saved. They sent before them a herald, who obtained a short truce, to see if any agreement could be entered into. The earl of Derby ordered his men to retire, and came himself, accompanied by the lord Stafford and sir Walter Manny to the bars, to confer with the inhabitants. The earl at first would hear of nothing but unconditional submission: at last it was settled, that the town should put itself under the dependency of the king of England, as duke of Guienne, and that twelve of the principal citizens should be sent to Bordeaux, as hostages. The French knights and squires left the place with passports, and went to la Rèole.


*  In Perigord, diocese of Perigueux.

  A small town of Condomois, in the diocese of Condom.

  A town in Perigord, diocese of Perigueux.

§  In one MS. it is Sonce: in Barnes’ history of Edward III., sir John St. John; but he does not mention his authority for so altering it. In my printed copies and another MS. it is Santé, and is so in lord Berners’ translation.

  Langon, — a town in Bazadois, upon the Garonne, about six leagues from Bordeaux.

¥  A town in Perigord, diocese of Sarlat.

**  Barnes calls him an English squire, Timothy Lyon; but I see no authority for it.

††  In Gascony, diocese of Comminge.

‡‡  Fronsac, — upon the Dordogne, six leagues from Bordeaux.