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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., Volume II, London: William Smith, 1848. pp. 618-648.
CHAPTER LXXX. — THE CEREMONY OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING OF ENGLAND WITH A PRINCESS OF FRANCE. — THE KING OF FRANCE DELIVERS HER TO THE KING OF ENGLAND, IN HIS TENT BETWEEN ARDRES AND CALAIS.
YOU have before heard of the journey of the king of England to Calais, where he resided with his uncles, prelates, and barons of his council, during which time he had held a conference with the duke of Burgundy respecting the articles of peace. The king had returned to London to wait the meeting of his parliament at Michaelmas; but in the mean time great purveyances were made for him and for his barons, and sent to Calais and Guines. The larger part were forwarded down the river Thames, but a good deal was collected in Flanders, at Damme, Bruges, and Sluys, which were sent by sea to Calais. In like manner, great preparations were made for the king of France, the duke of Orleans, their uncles, and the barons and prelates of France, at Saint Omer, Aire, Therouenne, Ardres, la Montoire, Leulinghen, and in all the monasteries and houses round about. No expense was spared on either side; and the lords of each country were emulous to outshine one another. In the abbey of Saint Bertin*, great were the preparations to receive the royal visitors.
The session of parliament, which usually lasts forty days, and is held in the king’s palace at Westminster, was now abridged, for the king attended it only five days: when the business of the nation, and what particularly interested the king, and had caused his return from Calais, was settled, he and his two uncles of Lancaster and Gloucester, and the members of his council, set out from London, and crossed the sea to Calais. The duke of York and the earl of Derby did not attend the king, but remained behind to guard England in his absence. Information was instantly sent to the French lords in Picardy of the king of England’s return to Calais; and the duke and duchess of Burgundy came to Saint Omer, and fixed their residence in the abbey of Saint Bertin. The king of France sent he count de Saint Pol to king Richard, as soon as he heard of his arrival at Calais, to compliment him in his name, and to lay before him the orders which had been given for the ceremony of his marriage. The king of England eagerly listened to this, for he took much pleasure in the business. The count de Saint Pol, in his return to Saint Omer, was accompanied by the duke of Lancaster, his son Beaufort of Lancaster, the duke of Gloucester, with his son Humphrey, the earl of Rutland, the earl marshal, the earl of Huntingdon, chamberlain of England, and many other barons and knights, who were handsomely received by the duke and duchess of Burgundy. The duke of Brittany came thither also, having left the king of France and the young queen of England at Aire.
You must know that every honour and respect that could be imagined were paid to the English lords. The duchess of Burgundy entertained them splendidly at dimmer; at which was present the duchess of Lancaster, with her son and two daughters. There was an immense variety of different dishes and decorations on the tables, and very rich presents made of gold and silver plate: nothing, in short, was spared, so that the English were astonished where such riches could come from, and especially the duke of Gloucester, who told his friends that the kingdom of France abounded in wealth and power. To soften the temper of the duke of Gloucester, whom the French lords knew to be proud, and their bitter enemy, they paid him the most flattering attentions. Notwithstanding this, and the handsome presents they offered, which he accepted, the same rancour remained in his breast, and, in spite of everything the French could say or do, whenever the subject of peace was mentioned, his answers were as harsh and severe as ever. The French are very subtle; but, with regard to him, they could never gain his affections; and his conversations was so reserved, it was not possible to discover his real sentiments. When the duke of Burgundy saw this, he said to his council, — “We shall never succeed until we gain over this duke of Gloucester: as long as he lives, there will not be any solid peace with England, for he will ever find some cause of quarrel, and renew the hatred of the people of both countries: his whole thoughts are on such subject; and were it not for the amiable qualities of the king of England, which we hope may produce in time more favourable effects, in good truth he 619 should never had our cousin as his wife.” After the duchess of Burgundy, the countess of Nevers, the countess of Saint Pol, and the lords and ladies of France, had, as you have heard, magnificently entertained the English lords and ladies (at which time it was determined when and where the two kings should meet, and the king of England receive his wife), the company took leave of each other, and the two dukes, with their duchesses and children, returned with the other barons and knights to Calais, and related to king Richard how grandly they had been received, and the rich presents that had been made them. Their praises pleased the king; for he was delighted whenever he heard the king of France or the French well spoken of, so much was he already enamoured with them, on account of the king’s daughter whom he was to marry.
Shortly after this, the king of France, accompanied by the duke of Brittany, came to Saint Omer, and was lodged in the abbey of Saint Bertin; all who had before occupied it were forced to dislodge. The dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, having been ordered to confer with the king of England at Calais, set out from Saint Omer, and, on their arrival at Calais, were received with every honour and kindness by the king and his lords. They were entertained with splendour; and the three dukes concluded certain treaties with the king of England and his uncles. Many in France and England thought a peace had been concluded, for at that time the duke of Gloucester was well inclined to it, in consideration of the kind promises of the king, who had engaged, if a peace were made, to create his son Humphrey earl of Rochester, and make the annual revenue of it equal to two thousand pounds sterling, and to present the duke of Gloucester with fifty thousand nobles on his return to England. Thus, through his avaricious disposition, was the duke of Gloucester softened in his opinion respecting a peace with France. It was so visible, that the French dukes observed it, for they had never before found him so tractable or moderate: in his conversation. When the French lords had concluded the business they had come upon, they took leave of the king, and returned to the king of France and the duke of Orleans at Saint Omer, who were impatient to hear the success of their journey. The king of France departed from Saint Omer, and resided in the fort of Ardres: the duke of Burgundy went to la Montoire, the duke of Brittany to the town of Esque, and the duke of Berry to Tournehem. The plain was covered with tents and pavilions full of French and English, the king of England and the duke of Lancaster were lodged in Guines, and the duke of Gloucester at Hamme.
On the vigil of the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude†, which fell on a Friday, in the year of grace 1396, the two kings left their lodgings on the point of ten o’clock, and, accompanied by their attendants, went to the tents that had respectively been prepared for them. Thence they advanced on foot to a certain spot which had been fixed on for their meeting, and which was surrounded by four hundred French and as many English knights, brilliantly armed, with swords in hand. These eight hundred knights were so drawn up, that the two kings passed between their ranks, conducted in the following order: the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester supported the king of France, as did the duke so Berry and Burgundy the king of England, and thus they advanced slowly through the ranks of the knights; when the two kings were on the point of meeting, the eight hundred knights fell on their knees and wept for joy. The two kings met bareheaded, and having saluted, took each other by the hand, when the king of France led the king of England to his tent, which was handsome and richly adorned: the four dukes took each other by the hand, and followed them. The English and French knights remained at their post, looking at their opponents with good humour, and never stirred until the whole ceremony was over. The spot where the two kings had met was marked, and a chapel in honour of the Virgin Mary was proposed to be erected on it, but I know not if it were every put into execution. On the entrance of the two kings holding each other by the hand into the tent, the dukes of Orleans and of Bourbon came forwards and cast themselves on their knees: the kings stooped and made them rise. The six dukes then assembled in front and conversed together: the kings passed on, and had some conversation, while the wine and spices were preparing. The duke of Berry served the king of France with the confit-box, and the duke of Burgundy with the cup of 620 wine. In like manner was the king of England served by the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester. After the kings had been served, the knights of France and England took the wine and spices, and served the prelates, dukes, princes, and counts; and, after them, squires and other officers of the household did the same to all within the tent, until every one had partaken of the spices and wine; during which time, the two kings freely conversed.
After a short space, the two monarchs took leave of each others, as did the different lords. The king of England and his uncles retired to their tents, while the horses were made ready: they then mounted, and took the road towards Calais; the king to Guines, the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester to Hamme, and the others to their lodgings at Calais. In like manner did the king of France return to Ardres, accompanied by the duke of Orleans; the duke of Berry to Tournehem, and the duke of Burgundy to la Montoire; for nothing more was done that day, although the tents and pavilions of the king of France and other lords were left standing.
At eleven o’clock of the Saturday morning, the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, the king of England, attended by his uncles and all the noblemen who had accompanied him from England, waited on the king of France in his tent. They were received by the king, his brother, and uncles, with great pomp and the most affectionate words. The dinner-tables were there laid out: that for the king was long and handsome, and the side-board covered with the most magnificent plate. The two kings were seated by themselves; the king of France at the top of the table, and the king of England below him, but at a good distance from each other. They were served by the dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon: the last entertained the two monarchs with many gay remarks, to make them laugh, and those about the table, for he had much drollery, and, addressing the king of England, said, — “My lord king of England, you ought to make good cheer, for you have had all your wishes gratified. You have a wife, or shall have one, for she will be speedily delivered to you.” “Bourbonnois” replied the king of France, “we wish our daughter were as old as our cousin of Saint Pol, though we were to double her dower, for then she would love our son of England much more.” The king of England heard well these words, and replied, bowing to the king of France (for he did not address himself to the duke of Bourbon, since the king had compared his daughter with the countess 621 of Saint Pol’s), “good father-in-law, the age of our wife pleases us right well: we pay not so much attention concerning her age, as we value your love, and that of our subjects, for we shall now be so strongly united that no king in Christendom can any way hurt us.”
When dinner was over, which lasted not long, the cloth was removed the table carried away, and wine and spices brought. After this, the young queen of England entered the tent, attended by a great number of ladies and damsels. The king led her by the hand, and gave her to the king of England, who instantly after took his leave. The queen was placed in a very rich litter which had been prepared for her; but, of all the French ladies who were there, only the lady of Coucy went with her, for there were may of the principal ladies of England, such as the duchesses of Lancaster, York, Gloucester, Ireland, the lady of Namur, the lady Poinings, and others of the nobility, who received queen Isabella with great joy. When the ladies were ready, the king of England and his lords departed, and, riding at a good pace, arrived at Calais. The king of France and his court returned to Saint Omer, where he had left the queen and duchess of Burgundy, and staid there the Sunday and Monday following. On the Tuesday, which was All-saints-day, the king of England was married by the archbishop of Canterbury, in the church of Saint Nicholas at Calais, to the lady Isabella of France. Great were the feastings on the occasion, and the heralds and minstrels were so liberally paid they were satisfied.
On the ensuing Thursday, the dukes of Orleans and Bourbon came to Calais, to visit the king and queen of England: they staid that day, and on the following went back to dinner at Saint Omer, where the king and queen of France waited for them. This same morning, the king and queen of England, having heard an early mass and drank some wine, embarked on board the vessels which had been prepared for them, with a favourable wind. They weighed anchor, set their sails, and in less then three hours landed at Dover. The king dined at the castle, and lay the next night at Rochester: passing through Dartford, he arrived at his palace of Eltham, where the lords and ladies took leave of the king and queen, and went to their homes.
Fifteen days after, the queen made her entry into London, grandly attended by lords, ladies, and damsels. She lay one night in the Tower, seated on the banks of the Thames, and the next day was conducted in great pomp, through the streets, to Westminster, where the king was waiting in his palace to receive her. This day, the Londoners made very rich presents to the queen, which were graciously accepted. During the time the court was at Westminster, a tournament was ordered to be held at Candlemas in Smithfield, between forty knights and as many squires; and notices of it were given to the heralds, that they might publish it beyond sea, and as far as Scotland.
When the king of France was returned to Paris after the marriage of his daughter, and his lords were gone to their residences, there were great rumours of war. It was said to have been settled that, at the beginning of March, the king was to lead a large army into Lombardy to destroy the duke of Milan; and that the king was so bent on this expedition, he would not listen to anything that was said against it. The king of England was to send his father-in-law six thousand archers; and the duke of Brittany, who had been constantly with the king offered his services on the expedition, with two thousand Breton spears. Purveyances were already making for the king and lords in Dauphiny and in Savoy. When the duke of Brittany took leave of the king of France and his lords, to return to his duchy, I believe the duke of Burgundy made such earnest intercession with the king, and those immediately concerned, that the duke of Brittany carried with him his cousin sir Peter de Craon, who was confined a prisoner at his own charges, in the tower of the Louvre, for the debt he had been sentenced to pay of one hundred thousand francs to the queen of Jerusalem. I imagine he engaged to pay the queen the above sum by instalments; but I will, for the present, leave speaking of these matters, and return to what was passing in Turkey.
* “Saint Bertin,” — an abbey in the city of Saint Omer.
† The feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude is on the 28th October.
CHAPTER LXXXI. — THE CHRISTIANS ARE FORCED TO RAISE THE SIEGE OF NICOPOLIS, BY THE ARRIVAL OF BAJAZET IN TURKEY. — THEY ARE DEFEATED AND THE HUNGARIANS PUT TO FLIGHT, THROUGH THE PRESUMPTUOUS FOLLY OF THE FRENCH.
YOU have before read in our history how the king of Hungary, and the lords from France who had gone to Hungary in search of deeds of arms, had valiantly crossed the Danube, and entered Turkey; where during the summer, from the month of July, they had conquered a large tract of country, having mercifully spared the inhabitants and many towns and castles, for none could withstand their power. They had besieged the city of Nicopoli, and so hardly pressed it by their attacks, that it was on the point of surrendering without hearing any intelligence of Bajazet. The king of Hungary had even addressed the French lords, such as the count de Nevers, the count d’Eu, the count de la Marche, the count de Soissons, the lord de Coucy, and the barons and knights of Burgundy, saying, — “My fair sirs, thanks to God, we have made a successful campaign; for we have performed many brilliant deeds of arms, and have conquered Turkey. I look on the town of Nicopoli as our own, for it is so undermined it can hold out no longer than we please. I therefore would propose, that after we shall have gained and shown mercy to this town, we attempt nothing more this season, but recross the Danube, and return to Hungary, where I have many handsome towns and castles prepared to receive you, since you have so gallantly assisted me against the Turks, my bitter enemies. During the winter, we will provide stores for the ensuing summer, each according to his pleasure, and send information of our situation, and what we have done, to the king of France, who, before that time, will send us large reinforcements; and I hope, when he shall know the success we have had, he may be inclined to come hither in persons, for he is young and fond of arms. But whether he come or not, if it please God, we will next summer cross the Hellespont, regain Armenia, thence march to Syria, with the towns of Jaffa and Baruth, and conquer Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Should the sultan oppose us, we will offer him battle, and never return without having combated him.” Such was the speech of the king of Hungary to the French lords: they considered Nicopoli as won, but it fell out otherwise.
During the whole summer, Bajazet had been busily employed in raising an army of Saracens and infidels: he had even sent to Persia for succour, and the great lords of his religion had joined him against Christendom. They had crossed the Hellespont to the amount of two hundred thousand; but the Christians were not only ignorant of their numbers, but of their approach; and, they advanced so secretly, they were close to Nicopoli before the besiegers knew of their having begun their march. Bajazet was as well acquainted with the stratagems of war as most, and of great valour and enterprise. He considered maturely the power of the Christians, and said they were a valiant race. Bajazet marched to raise the siege of Nicopoli in the following order. His army was drawn up in the form of a harrow, and occupied about a league of ground: in front of this main body, and a league in advance, were eight thousand Turks, to mask the body of the army, which was divided into two wings. Bajazet was in the midst of his main body, who thus quietly advanced, with their van-guard of eight thousand in front; they were thus ordered, to make an appearance as if they were the whole army; but whenever they met the Christians, they were to fall back gently towards the main body, which was then to extend itself as much as possible, and endeavour to enclose the Christians, whom they should then conquer at pleasure. Such was the order of battle of Bajazet.
It happened, that on the Monday preceding Michaelmas-day, in the year 1396, about ten o’clock, as the king of Hungary and the lords, who were lying before Nicopoli, were seated at dinner, news was brought them that their enemies, the Turks, were near at hand; but, as I heard, the scouts did not inform them of the whole truth: they had not noticed the main body of the Turks, for the moment they saw the van-guard they dared not advance furthers, as they were not men at arms fearless of such an enterprise. The Hungarians and French had each scouts of their own and both parties arrived nearly at the same time with this intelligence. The greater part of the army were at dinner when the news was carried to the count de Nevers and the other French lords, the messenger bawling out, “Come! quickly 623 arm yourselves, that you be not surprised, for the Turks are on full march to meet you.” This information was agreeable to many who were desirous of arms: they instantly arose, pushed the table aside, and demanded their horses and armour. They were somewhat heated with wine, and hastened to the field as well as they could. Banners and pennons were displayed, under which every one ranged himself in his proper post. The banner of the Virgin Mary, was unfurled, and the guard of it given to that valiant knight sir John de Vienne, admiral of France. The French were so eager to arm themselves that they were the first in the field, drawn up in handsome array, and seemingly fearless of the Turks; for they were ignorant of their immense numbers, and that Bajazet commanded in person. As the French lords were hastening from their tents to the field, the marshal of the king of Hungary, named sir Henry d’Ostenlemhalle*, mounted on a handsome courser, came to them with few attendants. He was a valiant and experienced knight, and had borne before him a pennon of his arms, which were a cross anchored sable on a field argent, which in heraldry is called cross moline. He stopped, when opposite the banner of our Lady, where the principal lords were assembled, and said aloud, — “I am sent hither by my lord, the king of Hungary, who entreats you by me, that you will not begin the battle before you shall again hear from him; for he much suspects and fears that the scouts have not brought exact intelligence of the numbers of the Turks. Within two hours you shall have more certain intelligence, for we have sent other scouts, who will advance farther than the former ones, and bring us better information. Be assured the Turks will never attack you, unless you force them to it or until they have collected all their forces together. You will act as you shall think best, but such are my lord the king’s orders. I must now return, for I cannot longer stay.”
On saying this, the Hungarian marshal left them; and the lords assembled together to consider what was to be done. The lord de Coucy was asked his opinion, and replied, that the king of Hungary had a right to order them, and that which he had requested was perfectly just. It was mentioned to me that the count d’Eu, constable of France, was vexed that his opinion had not been first asked before the lord de Coucy’s, and, through spite and malice, instantly opposed what he had said, adding: “Yes, yes, the king of Hungary wishes to gain all the honour of the day: he has given us the van-guard, and now wants to take it away, that he may have the first blow; let those who will believe what he sends to us, for my part I never will:” then addressing the knight who bore his banner, he said, — “In the name of God and Saint George, you shall see me this day prove myself a good knight.” The lord de Coucy thought this a very vain speech of the constable, and, turning to John de Vienne, who had the banner of Our Lady under his guard, and by whom all the others were to rally, asked what ought to be done. “Lord de Coucy,” he replied, “when truth and reason are not heard, folly and presumption must reign; and, since the count d’Eu is determined to fight the enemy, we must follow him; but we should have greater advantage, if we waited the king of Hungary’s orders, and were all united.” While they thus conversed, the infidels were fast approaching: the two wings of their army, which consisted of sixty thousand men each, were already closing round them. The Christians, observing this, would have retreated, but that was impossible, as they were completely surrounded. Man knights and squires, who had been used to arms, now knew the day must be lost; notwithstanding which they advanced, following the banner of Our Lady, that was borne by that gallant knight sir John de Vienne.
The lords of France were so richly dressed out, in their emblazoned surcoats, as to look like little kings; but, as I was told, when they met the Turks they were not more than seven hundred, which sufficiently showed the folly of the measure; for, had they waited for the Hungarian army, consisting of sixty thousand men, they might, perhaps, have gained a victory, but, to their pride and presumption, was the whole loss owing; and it was so great, that never since the defeat at Roncesvalles, where the twelve peers of France were slain, did the French suffer so considerably. However, before they were overcome, they made great slaughter of the Turks; though several knights and squires saw they were marching to destruction, through their own folly. The French defeated the van battalion, and put it to flight, pursuing it into a valley where Bajazet was posted with the main army. The 624 French would have returned, as they were mounted on barbed horses, but could not, for they were now inclosed on all sides. The battle, therefore, raged with fury, and lasted a considerable time. News was carried to the king of Hungary, that the French, English, and Germans were engaged with the Turks, not having obeyed his orders sent them by the marshal. He was very wroth on hearing it, as indeed he had reason to be, and foresaw they would all be cut off. He said to the grand master of Rhodes, who was beside him, “We shall lose the day, from the vanity of the French: if they had believed me, and waited for our joining, we should have had sufficient strength to cope with the enemy.” As he thus spoke, looking behind him, he perceived that his men were flying panic-struck, and the Turks pursuing them. He then saw the day was irrecoverably lost, and those near his person cried out, “Sire, save yourself! for should you be killed or taken, Hungary will be completely ruined. We must be defeated, through French pride; and their valour will prove in vain, for every one of them will be taken or slain; not one can possibly escape. Fly, therefore, from the danger, before it be too late.” The king was Hungary was in the utmost rage to be thus defeated through the arrogance of the French, and obliged to fly, if he would avoid captivity or death. It was a most unfortunate day for the Hungarians and French; whoever runs away from battle is pursued, and, as the Hungarians fled in the greatest confusion, the Turks followed, killing them or making prisoners at pleasure. God, however, assisted the king of Hungary and the grand master of Rhodes; for, on their arrival on the banks of the Danube, they found a small vessel belonging to the grand master, into which they entered, with only five more, and crossed to the opposite shore. Had they delayed, they must have been killed or taken; for the Turks came to the river as they were passing it, and made a great slaughter of those who had followed the king thinking to escape.
We will return to the French and Germans, who were fighting most valiantly. The lord de Montcaurel, a gallant knight from Artois, seeing the defeat inevitable, and wishing to save his son, who was very young, said to his quire, — “Carry off my son: thou mayest escape by that wing which is open: save my son, and I will abide the event with my companions.” The youth, on hearing his father thus speak, declared he would not go nor leave him in such danger; but the father forced him away, and the squire brought him safely to the Danube: the youth, who was very melancholy at the situation of his father, was unfortunately drowned by falling between two barges, without a possibility of being saved. Sir William de la Trémouille and his son displayed great feats of valour before they were slain. Sir John de Vienne, who bore the banner of Our Lady, in spite of his deeds of arms was killed grasping the banner in his hands, and thus was he found after the battle. The whole of the French force that had been engaged at this battle of Nicopoli were defeated and slain, by the means I have related.
The lord John of Burgundy, count of Nevers, was wondrous richly arrayed, as were the lord Guy de l Riviere, and many barons and knights from Burgundy in compliment to him. Two squires from Picardy, William d’Eu and the borgne de Montquel, who had displayed their courage in many former battles, did the same at Nicopoli. These two squires by their vigorous courage, twice forced through the Turkish army, and returned to the fight, but were at length slain. To say the truth, the whole of the French chivalry and those from other countries acquitted themselves most gallantly; and had they been assisted by the Hungarians with equal courage, the day would have turned out differently. But the whole of the mischief was caused by the French, and their presumption was their ruin. There was a knight from Picardy, called sir James de Helly, who had resided some time in Turkey, and had served in arms under Amurat, father of the sultan Bajazet, of whom we are now speaking, and who knew a little of the Turkish language. When he saw the day was lost, he thought of saving his life; and as he knew the Saracens to be a covetous race, he surrendered himself to them, on their granting him his life. Thus did he escape; and also another squire from the Tournaisis, called James du Fay, who had formerly served Tamerlane king of Tartary, but when he learnt that he French were marching to Turkey, he quitted Tamerlane, and joined his countrymen. He was at this battle, and saved by Tamerlane’s men, who had been ordered thither in compliance with the request made to him for assistance by Bajazet. Tamerlane had sent him a considerable body of men, as Saracen and Pagan kings always do to the aid of each other.
* MSS. Steulemchalle.
CHAPTER LXXXII. — THE TURKS, AFTER THE BATTLE OF NICOPOLI, PUT TO DEATH ALL THEIR PRISONERS, EXCEPT THE COUNT DE NEVERS AND SOME OTHER GREAT LORDS.
AT this battle of Nicopoli, which was so fatal to the French, very many were saved, from the extreme richness of their armour: they were dressed like kings; and the Saracens and Turks, who are avaricious, thought, by saving their lives, they should gain large ransoms; for they believed them much greater lords, from their appearance, than they really were. The count de Nevers was made prisoner, as were the counts d’Eu and de la Marche, the lord de Coucy, the lord Henry de Bar, sir Guy de la Tremouille, Boucicaut and others. The lord Philip de Bar, sir John de Vienne, sir William de la Tremouille and his son, were killed. This battle lasted for three hours; and the king of Hungary lost his whole baggage, his gold and silver plate, jewels, and everything else. He had escaped by fortunately finding a vessel from Rhodes on the Danube, that had brought provisions, in which he crossed the river with six others; had he not done so, he must have been slain or taken. There were more killed in the pursuit than in the battle, and numbers were drowned. Happy was he who could escape from such danger by any means.
When the business was over, and the Turks, Persians, and others sent thither by different infidel kings, had retired to their lodgings, (that is to say, to the tents and pavilions they had conquered from the Christians, in which they found wines, meats, and every other necessary) they enjoyed themselves, and made merry, like men who have gained a victory over their enemies. Bajazet dismounted, at the sound of many minstrels, according to their custom, at the principal tent that he belonged to the king of Hungary, which was very large, and richly adorned. Bajazet took pleasure in viewing it, and glorified himself internally for the victory he had obtained over the Christians, and thanked his God for it, according to the manner of their religions. When he was disarmed, to cool and refresh himself, he sat on a silken carpet in the middle of the tent, and sent for his principal friends, to chat and joke with them. He began the conversation, by saying he would now march a great force into Hungary, to conquer that country and the rest of Christendom, which he would put under his obedience, but that each kingdom might follow its own religion and laws, owning him for their lord: that he would reign like Alexander of Macedon, who for twelve years governed the whole world, as he was descended from his blood. All assented to what Bajazet said, and agreed to his proposal. He gave out there orders: the first that every one who had made prisoners should produce them before him on the next day; the second, that the dead should be carefully examined, and the nobles and great lords be set apart, and left untouched until he had seen them; the third, that exact inquiries should be made among the slain and prisoners after the king of Hungary, that he might know whether he was dead or alive. These orders were fulfilled, for none dared disobey them.
When Bajazet had refreshed himself, and changed his dress, he resolved to visit the dead on the field of battle; for he had been told the victory had cost him dear, and that he had lost great numbers of men. He was much surprised to hear this, and would not believe it. He mounted his horse, attended by his vizier, nobles and bashaws: some said his principal officers were his brothers, whom he would not acknowledge as such, declaring he had no brothers. On his coming to the field of battle, he found what had been told him was true; for where one Christian lay dead there were thirty of their enemies. The sight vexed him much, and he said aloud, — “This has been a cruel battle for our people: the Christians have defended themselves desperately; but I will have this slaughter well revenged on those who are prisoners.” He now left he field and returned to his tent, comforting himself for the loss he had suffered by the victory and defeat of the Christians; but, notwithstanding this, he passed the night in great fury. On the morrow, before he was risen or had shown himself, great numbers came before his tent, to learn his will respecting the prisoners; for it had been rumoured that he intended having them all put to death without mercy. Bajazet, however, in spite of his rage against the Christians, ad given orders that all the principal lords who had been made prisoners should be separated from the others, for he had been told they would pay him large ransoms, and on that account he was inclined 626 to spare them. He had also learnt that many of the Tartars, Arabs, Bedouins and Syrians, had made prisoners, from whom they expected to gain large fortunes, as indeed they did, by concealing their prisoners from Bajazet. Sir James de Helly, whom I mentioned before, was, luckily for him, brought this Tuesday morning before the tent of the sultan, with many other prisoners, for he who had taken him was afraid of keeping him hid. As they were waiting the coming of Bajazet, some of the knights of his household, standing round the tent, recollected sir James, and delivered him from the hands of those who had taken him. He remained with the attendants of the sultan, who had been formerly acquainted with him; and it was fortunate it was for him, as you will hear related, for to the greater part of the Christians it was a disastrous day.
Before Bajazet appeared, inquiries had been made who were the greatest lords among the prisoners, and his interpreters had been very strict in their examinations, putting such aside not to be killed. The first was John of Burgundy commander-in-chief, then the count d’Eu, the count de la Marche, the lord de Coucy, lord Henry de Bar, sir Guy de la Tremouille, and two more, amounting in all to eight. Bajazet would see and talk with them. He eyed them long in silence, and these lords were conjured on their faith to avow if they were the persons who were so named. He also resolved to send for sir James de Helly, that he might assure him of the truth. On his coming, he was remembered by the sultan whom he had served, and was now perfectly secure from danger. He was asked if he knew those French lords who were prisoners at the bottom of the tent. “I cannot say;” he replied; “but, if I saw their faces, I should know them all.” He was then ordered to go near and examine them, and report truly their names to the sultan, for that his determination would be according to what he should say. He went near the prisoners, and, bowing to them, knew them all. He told them his fortunate escape, and that he had been sent by the sultan to see if they were the persons answering to the names they had given themselves. “Ah, sir James,” said they, “you are well acquainted with us all: you see how fortune has turned against us, and what great danger we are in when we depend on the mercy of this sultan. If it may any how save our lives, tell him we are of even grater rank than we have said, and able to pay him large sums for our ransoms.” “My lords,” replied sir James, “this I will most cheerfully do, for it is my duty.” The knight then returned to Bajazet, and said, “Those lords who are prisoners, and with whom I have been talking, are of the noblest blood in France, nearly related to the king, and willing to pay for their liberty a great sum of money.” This answer was very agreeable to the sultan, who would not listen to more, but said, “Let those alone be spared, and all the other prisoners put to death, to free the country from them, and that others may take example from their fate.”
The sultan now made his appearance to his people before the tent, who, bowing down, made him their obeisance. The army was drawn up in two wings on each side; the sultan with his nobles, the count de Nevers and those who were to be spared, were in the centre; for he would they should witness the execution of their companions, which the Saracens were eager to perform. Many excellent knights and squires of France and other nations, who had been taken in battle or in the pursuit, were now brought forth in their shirts, one after another, before Bajazet, who eyeing them a little, they were led on; and, as he made a signal, were instantly cut to pieces by those waiting for them with drawn swords. Such was the cruel justice of Bajazet this day, when upwards of three hundred gentlemen of different nations were thus pitilessly murdered. It was a cruel case for them to suffer for the love of our Saviour JESUS CHRIST, and may he receive their souls!
Among the murdered of that day was the gallant knight sir Henry d’Antoing: may God show gracious mercy to his soul! The lord Boucicaut, marshal of France, was led naked like the others, before Bajazet, and would have suffered the same cruel death, had not the count de Nevers left his companions, who were motionless at the sad sight, and flung himself on is knees to the sultan, entreating him to spare the lord Boucicaut, who was much beloved by the king of France, and well able to pay a considerable ransom; and the count made signs, as paying from one hand to the other, that he would give a large sum of money, to soften the anger of the sultan. Bajazet consented to the request of the count de Nevers, and the lord Boucicaut was put aside, with those who were not to be killed. Others were brought 627 forward, until the number I have mentioned was completed: such was the cruel revenge the infidels had on the Christians. It seems, according to what I heard, that Bajazet took delight that the victory he had gained over the Christians, and the capture of the count de Nevers, should be known in France, and carried thither by a French knight. Three knights, of whom sir James de Helly was one, were brought before Bajazet and the count de Nevers, who was asked which of the three he wished should go to the king of France and to his father the duke of Burgundy. Sir James de Helly had the good fortune to be made choice of, because the count de Nevers was before acquainted with him: he therefore said to the sultan, — “Sir, I wish that this person may go to France from you and from me.” This was accepted by Bajazet, and sir James de Helly remained with him and the other French lords; but the two unsuccessful knights were delivered over to the soldiery, who massacred them without pity.
After all these things were done, every thing was quiet. Bajazet, having heard that the king of Hungary was escaped, resolved to march more into the interior of Turley towards the city of Bursa, whither he would carry his prisoners, for he had done enough this campaign. He therefore disbanded his army, more especially that part of it which had come from distant countries. Thus was it done, and the arm broke up, which had been composed of men from Tartary, Persia, Media, Syria, Alexandria and Egypt, and from other distant countries of infidels. Bajazet gave particular orders to sir James de Helly, that when he went to France, he should take his road through Lombardy, and salute from him the duke of Milan; and it was the sultan’s intention that sir James should publish, wherever he passed, the great victory he had gained over the Christians. The count de Nevers wrote by him, as well for himself as for his fellow-prisoners, to the king of France, and to the duke and duchess of Burgundy. On receiving these letters and other verbal messages, the knight departed from the sultan and the lords of France; but before he set out, Bajazet made him promise, on oath, that as soon as he should have performed the journey, and delivered all he had been charged with to the king of France and the other lords, he would return, which the knight swore he would do, and kept his oath. We will now leave Bajazet, and the French lords who remained prisoners during his pleasure, and speak of other things.
CHAPTER LXXXIII. — THE FRENCH AND OTHERS WHO HAD BEEN IN TURKEY SUFFER GREAT HARDSHIPS ON THEIR RETURN HOME, AFTER HAVING ESCAPED FROM THE BATTLE OF NICOPOLI. — SIR JAMES DE HELLY BRINGS CERTAIN INTELLIGENCE OF THIS DEFEAT TO THE KING OF FRANCE.
AFTER this memorable victory which the Turks and their allies gained over the Christians, as has been related in this history, such knights as could escape saved themselves. On the Monday morning, the day of the battle, more than three hundred knights and squires, being out foraging, were not present at it. When they heard from the runaways that a defeat was inevitable, they gave over all thoughts of returning to their camp, but took different roads to make their escape from Turkey as speedily as they could. French, Germans, and others, made for a country adjoining to Hungary, called Wallachia, which is well inhabited, and had been conquered from the Turks, and turned by force to the Christian faith. The guards of the passes and castles in Wallachia, allowed the Christians who came from Turkey free entrance, and gave them lodging; but, on the morrow, when they were about to depart, they took from the knights their armour and all they had, and gave them in return a miserable jacket, and some little money, just enough to bear the day’s expenses. This favour was only shown to gentlemen; for those who were not of that rank were stripped naked, and scourged villanously with rods. The French and heir companions suffered most exceedingly in poverty and distress, during their passage through Wallachia and Hungary; and with difficulty could they meet with any, who, for the love of God, would give a morsel of bread, or lodge them for the night. They endured this misery until they came to Vienna in Austria, where they were kindly received by the good people, who clothed such as were naked, and shared with 628 them their food. They were treated with the same kindness in Bohemia: had they found the Germans as hardhearted as the Hungarians, they would never have been able to have returned home, but must have perished with cold and hunger on the road. Thus, wherever they came, whether alone or in companies, they brought most melancholy news, which excited pity for them in every breast that heard their sad tale.
Those of the French nation, who had fled from Turkey, arrived at last at Paris, and told the melancholy event of the battle of Nicopoli; but they were not believed nor listened to: the Parisians said it was a pity that such rascally liars were not hanged or drowned, for daily spreading abroad so many falsehoods. This news was, however, confirmed by other who arrived after them, and told the same tale, some one way, and others differently, but all agreeing as to the complete overthrow of the Hungarians and their allies. The king of France was much vexed on hearing such melancholy news talked of, for there were too many of his relations implicated in the loss, besides other excellent knights and squires of France. He therefore forbade anything to be said on the subject, until he should receive more positive information, to confirm the truth or falsehood of these repots; and those who had divulged such news, saying they were come from Turkey and Hungary, were arrested, and confined in the Châtelet of Paris. The consisted of great numbers, and were told,, that if what they had said should be found false, orders had been given for all of them to be drowned; for the king was very wroth they should have published such disastrous news.
It happened that, on Christmas-day about noon, sir James de Helly arrived in Paris, and the moment he had dismounted at his inn, he inquired where the king was. They told him at the hôtel de Saint Pol, on the banks of the Seine, whither he went. There was with the king this day, as is usual on such solemn festivals, the duke of Orleans, the dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, the count de saint Pol, and many of the nobility. Sir James de Helly entered the hôtel in the same dress he had rode in, booted and spurred, so that he was not known; for he had, for a long time, been seeking adventures in foreign parts, in preference to living with his relations and friends. By fair speeches he got at last to the king’s apartment, and made himself known, saying he was come immediately from Bajazet and Turkey, and that he had been present at the battle of Nicopoli, where the Christians had lost the day; and that he had brought certain intelligence from the count de Nevers, and from the other French lords with whom he had marched through Hungary. The knights of the king’s chamber were pleased to hear this; for they knew the king, the duke of Burgundy, and many lords, were very anxious to learn true intelligence from those countries. They therefore made way for him to approach the king: when near, he fell on his knees, as was right, and told all he had been charged with, as well by Bajazet, as by the count de Nevers and the French lords his fellow-prisoners. The king and lords listened attentively to all he said, for they believed he was speaking the truth. Many questions were asked, in order to hear a more detailed account, to all of which he answered very pertinently, and to the satisfaction of the king, who was greatly affected at the loss the king of Hungary and his chivalry had suffered. H was somewhat comforted that the king of Hungary had escaped death and prison; for he supposed that he would renew the war against Turkey with vigour, and have ample revenge on Bajazet.
The king of France and his lords were rejoiced that the count de Nevers and his few companions were free from danger of being murdered; and, as they were not prisoners, the lords debated on the means of paying their ransom. Sir James de Helly said that he hoped Bajazet would, within a year or two, sell them their liberty, for he was very avaricious. This he personally knew, having resided a long time in turkey, and for three years served Amurat, father to the present sultan. The king made the knight rise, and treated him kindly, as did the lords present. They said, he had been very fortunate to have had a friend in so great a monarch as this infidel Bajazet, after such a severe battle, and to be sent by him with his message to the king of France. He and his family ought to pride themselves on such good fortune. The king ordered all who had been confined to the Châtelet, for having first spread abroad this intelligence, to be set at liberty. They were happy to hear this, for many of them had repented they had talked so much.
CHAPTER LXXXIV. — SIR JAMES DE HELLY, HAVING RECEIVED HIS DESPATCHES FROM THE KING OF FRANCE, ARRIVES IN HUNGARY, IN HIS WAY TO TURKEY. — THE KING SENDS SIR JOHN DE CHASTELMORANT, WITH PRESENTS TO BAJAZET, AND HIS RECOMMENDATIONS IN FAVOUR OF THE FRENCH PRISONERS. — THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY ARE TREATED.
WHEN the intelligence sir James de Helly had brought was made public, all who had lost husband, brother, father, or child, were in the utmost consternation, as may easily be supposed. The high nobility of France, such as the duchess of Burgundy and the lady Margaret of Hainault, were greatly afflicted on account of their son and husband the count de Nevers, for he was much beloved by them. The countess of Eu lamented her lord the constable, as did the countess de la March: the ladies of Coucy, of Bar, and Sully, in like manner bewailed the melancholy situation of their lords. They were fortunate in having only their lords’ captivity to lament, and were somewhat comforted thereat; but the relations and friends of those who had been massacred were inconsolable, and the grief of France lasted a long time. The duke of Burgundy treated most kindly sir James de Helly for having brought his intelligence of his son: he made him many rich gifts, and retained him for one of his knights, with a pension of two hundred livres-a-year during his life. The king of France also, and the lords of the court, gave him handsome presents. He informed them he was bound to return to Bajazet, after he should have delivered his letters, as the sultan’s prisoner; for he was sent solely with a view to publish Bajazet’s victory, and to say what lords had perished or been made prisoners at the battle of Nicopoli. This seemed reasonable, and the king, the duke of Burgundy, and such lords as were at Paris, prepared to write to their friends and relations who were prisoners. It was determined in council, that the king should send some knight of renown, prudence, and valour to Bajazet, who, having delivered his message, was to return with more detailed accounts of the state of the prisoners in case sir James de Helly were not permitted so to do by the sultan, whose prisoner he was. Sir John de Châteaumorant was selected for this embassy, as being every way qualified for it.
Sir James de Helly was asked what jewels or presents would be most acceptable to the sultan, that he count de Nevers and the other prisoners might fare the better. The knight said, that Bajazet took great pleasure in viewing fine tapestry from Arras or Picardy, which represented ancient histories: he was also fond of Gerfalcons; but he thought that fine linen from Rheims, and scarlet cloths, would be most acceptable to the sultan and his lords. There was plenty of cloths of gold and silks in Turkey, with which they were amply provided, and consequently would like things they could not get at home. The king and the duke of Burgundy, therefore, resolved what to send, for they were anxious to please Bajazet on account of the count of Nevers. Sir James de Helly remained at Paris, with the king and his lords, about twelve days, and was well listened to by all; for he entertained them with his adventures in Hungary and Turkey, and with descriptions of the manners of Bajazet. On his departure, he was told, — “Sir James, you may now set out on our return to the sultan, at your leisure. We supposed you will go through Lombardy, to the duke of Milan; for he and Bajazet are great friends, although they have never seen each other: but, whatever road you take, we entreat and order you to wait in Hungary for sir John de Châteaumorant, who will be sent by the king with presents to the sultan, as it is our intent that he pursue his journey from Hungary in your company to Turkey, or until you shall meet the sultan, that he may behave the more kindly to the count de Nevers and his fellow-prisoners, who are now in his power.” Sir James promised obedience, and, having received his despatches, took leave of the king, the duke of Burgundy, and the other lords, and left Paris, following the same road by which he had come. He continued his journey, firmly resolved never to return to France until he had obtained his liberty. After his departure, the duke of Burgundy was constantly employed in preparing the presents for the sultan; and, by the time they were provided, sir John de Châteaumorant was ready to set out, for he had begun his preparations for the journey on his being first nominated to 630 go thither. They made great haste to have the presents from the king to Bajazet in time for sir John de Châteaumorant to overtake sir James de Helly. These presents consisted of pieces of the best-worked tapestry from Arras, representing the history of Alexander the Great and his conquest, Rheims, and scarlet and crimson cloths, which were packed on six sumpter-horses. All theses things were easily to be had for money; but there was great difficulty in procuring white gerfalcons. At last, however, they were got, either in Paris or from Germany; and sir John de Châteaumorant, having received his final instructions, left Paris, and began the journey fifteen days after sir James de Helly.
In the interval during which these knights were on their journey, the king of Hungary returned to his kingdom. On his arrival being known, his subjects were greatly rejoiced, and flocked to him, for he was much beloved. They comforted him by saying that if in this campaign he had been unfortunate, in another he would be more successful. The king bore his misfortunes as well as he could. Immediately after the battle, Bajazet disbanded his army and marched to the city of Bursa, carrying with him his prisoners. They were pt under strict confinement, and very little comfort allowed them. They suffered much from the change of diet, as they had always been accustomed to have their own cooks, and their tables served with every delicacy; but of all this they were deprived, and forced to live on coarse meat, and that badly or not thoroughly dressed. They had plenty of spices, and millet bread, which is disagreeable to a French palate. They had great difficulty in procuring wine; although they were great princes, there was not an attention paid them, for the Turks were indifferent whether they were sick or in health; and, if the advice of several had been adopted, they would all have been put to death.
These lords of France comforted each other, and thankfully received whatever was given them, for they could no way better themselves. At the beginning of their captivity, several of them were very unwell: the count de Nevers bore his misfortune the best, and kept up his spirits to comfort the others. He was assisted in this by the lord Boucicaut, the count de la Marche, and lord Henry de Bar, who said, that the honours and glories of arms could not be gained without meeting with unfortunate reverses; and that no man, however, valiant or lucky, or accustomed to war, had everything according to his wish; and that the ought to thank God, for having had their lives saved from the furious rage of Bajazet and his followers, for it had been determined by the army to put every one to death. Boucicaut said, “I ought to be more thankful than any one to God for my life being spared, for I was brought out to be massacred as my companions had been, and should have lost my head, had not my lord of Nevers cast himself on his knees to Bajazet, who, at his request, granted me his pardon. I hold this a most fortunate escape; and since it was the good pleasure of our lord that I should live, I have no doubt but that God, who has delivered us from this peril, will continue his mercy to us, for we are his soldiers; and that we shall soon obtain our liberty, for we are now suffering in his cause. Beside, sir James de Helly is on his road to France, who will relate to the king and barons our distress; and I expect, within the years, we shall receive comfort and our liberty. Things will not remain long as they are. There is much good sense in the king and the duke of Burgundy, who will never forget us; and, by some means or other, we shall receive sufficient sums for our ransoms.”
Ths the gallant knight, the lord Boucicaut, comforted himself, and bore his captivity with patience, as did likewise the young count de Nevers; but the lord de Coucy was sorely afflicted, which is not to be wondered at. Before this event, he had been a lord of such high spirit as nothing could cast down: this captivity in Turkey, however, preyed on his mind more than it did on the spirits of the others, and he became quite melancholy. He complained of great oppression at his heart, and said he should never return to France; that he had escaped many perils and dangerous adventures, but this would be his last. The lord Henry de Bar consoled him, and blamed him for being so disconsolate without cause; and told him it was folly to be thus cast down, when he ought to find more satisfaction in his own mind than an other. Notwithstanding the advice he was giving, he himself severely felt his own situation, and bitterly regretted his wife. The count 64 d’Eu, constable of France, suffered from similar regents. Sir Guy de la Tremouille and the count de la Marche kept up their spirits very tolerably. Bajazet was desirous they should have some amusements n their captivity, and at times visited and conversed with them most graciously: he was likewise anxious they should witness his state and power.
We will now leave them, and return to sir James de Helly and sir John de Châteaumorant, who were both journeying towards Hungary.
CHAPTER LXXXV. — SIR JAMES DE HELLY, ON HIS RETURN TO TURKEY, OBTAINS HIS LIBERTY, AND CARRIES A PASSPORT FROM THE SULTAN TO SIR JOHN DE CHASTELMORANT IN HUNGARY. — SIR JOHN DE CHASTELMORANT IS FORCED TO SEND A MESSENGER TO THE KING OF FRANCE, TO INFORM HIM THAT THE KING OF HUNGARY WILL NOT ALLOW THE PRESENTS TO BE CARRIED TO THE SULTAN.
SIR James de Helly waited about ten or twelve days at Buda, in Hungary, for sir John de Châteaumorant, who was continuing his road as expeditiously as he could. Sir James was rejoiced on his arrival; for he was impatient to return to Turkey to acquit himself of his promise, and to see and bring comfort to the count de Nevers and the other French lords who were prisoners. The king of Hungary made sir John de Châteaumorant a kind welcome, in compliment to the king of France and his royal cousins. He learnt from his people that the knight was carrying magnificent presents, and rich jewels, to the sultan: this vexed him greatly, but he prudently dissembled any knowledge of it until sir James de Helly should have set out for Turkey. He declared, however, to his confidential friends, that that recreant dog, Bajazet, should never receive any presents from France or elsewhere, if he had the power to prevent it. When sir James had refreshed himself some time at Buda, he took leave of the king and of Châteaumorant, to continue his journey to Turkey, that he might obtain from the sultan a passport for sir John to pursue his road to him. When sir James mentioned it, the king of Hungary replied he would do well. On this the knight, having procured guides, was conducted by them through Hungary and Wallachia to Bursa, but did not fine there Bajazet, who was gone to another town in Turkey called Poly. Wherever he went he carried the prisoners with him, excepting the lord de Coucy, who was left at Bursa, unable to ride from sickness. There tarried with him his cousin, a valiant baron from Greece, and a descendant of the dukes of Austria, called the lord de Mathelin.
Sir James de Helly continued his journey to Poly, where he met Bajazet, who was glad to see him return from France, and keep his word. Sir James humbled himself much before him, and said, “Most dear and redoubted lord, here is your prisoner, who has delivered, to the best of his abilities, the message you have charged him with.” Bajazet replied, “Thou art welcome, for thou hast loyally acquitted thyself; and, in consideration of it, I now give thee thy liberty.” Sir James thanked him respectfully for this favour, and told him that the king of France, and the duke of Burgundy, father to the count de Nevers his prisoner, had sent him an honourable knight with credential letters as ambassador, and likewise with such grand presents as he was sure would give him delight. The sultan asked if he had seen them. He replied, “I have not; but the knight charged with the commission has brought them as far as Hungary, and is now at Buda waiting my return, with passports for him to continue his journey: I came to announce this news to you, and to solicit passports, if it be agreeable to you to receive him.” “We are very willing he should have passports, and you may have them made out in any form you choose.” The knight thanked him for his gracious answer, when the sultan left hi to attend to other affairs. About an hour afterwards, sir James requested the sultan’s permission to visit and converse with the French prisoners, as he had much to say to them from their friends and relations. Bajazet was some time silent before he gave him an answer, when he said, “Thou shalt see one of them, but not more.” He then made a sign to his attendants for the count de Nevers to be brought to converse with sir James for a short space, and then to be carried back to his prison. The order was instantly obeyed; and the count de Nevers 632 saw sir James de Helly with great joy. He made many inquiries after the king of France, the duke and duchess of Burgundy, and what was passing in that country. The knight related to him everything he had seen or heard, and delivered him all the messages he had been charged with; but they were greatly interrupted by the officers of the sultan, who pressed them to finish their conversation, as they had other business to attend to.
Sir James asked the count if all the other French lords were in good health. He replied, — “All, except the lord de Coucy, who has remained sick at Bursa; and this favour, I understand, has been granted through the credit of the lord de Mathelin, who has pledged himself for him, and is much esteemed by the sultan.” Sir James then told him that the king and the duke of Burgundy had sent sir John Châteaumorant as ambassador to Bajazet, with most magnificent presents to soften the sultan’s anger; but that sir John had stopped at Buda in Hungary until he should return with a passport for him and his attendants; that the sultan had promised the passport, with which he intended returning to Buda in a very few days. The count de Nevers was exceedingly rejoiced on hearing this; but he dared not give way to his feelings, for the Turks were observing them. The last words the count Said to him were, — “Sir James, I understand that Bajazet has given you your liberty, and that you may return to France when you please. On your arrival there, tell my lord and father from me, that if he have any intention to ransom me and my companions, he must not delay to negotiate through the means of Venetian or Genoese merchants, and close with the first off the sultan, or his ministers for him, may make; for we are lost for ever, if it be longer neglected. But I understand the sultan is very loyal and courteous in his character, when applied to properly.”
Thus ended their interview, and the count de Nevers was conducted back to prison. Sir James de Helly hastened the passport which had been promised him. When it had been drawn out in the usual form, and sealed by Bajazet, it was delivered to the knight, who took leave of the sultan and his court, and set off on his return to Buda. He instantly waited on sir John de Châteaumorant, who was impatiently expecting him, and said, — “I bring you a passport for yourself and your attendants, to go and return in safety from Turkey, which the sultan readily granted me.” “That is well done,’ replied sir John: “let us go to the king of Hungary, and tell him the news. To-morrow morning I will begin my journey, for I have staid here long enough.” They went to the king’s chamber, and related to him all you have just heard. The king replied, — “Châteaumorant and Helly, I am glad to see you both, as well on your own account as for the affection I bear to the king and my cousins of France, and I shall at all times be happy to serve you. You may travel through any part of my kingdom, unmolested, or even into Turkey, if it be your pleasure; but with regard to your carrying any rich presents or jewels to the sultan, which you, Châteaumorant, are charged with from France, I will never consent that hey pass through my kingdom, to be offered to the infidel Bajazet, for he shall never be enriched by them. I should be extremely blamed and laughed at, if in future times he be enabled to boast, that to gain his love, and from fear, because he has gained a victory over me, and detains some great barons of France prisoners, the king of France and his princes have sent him rich presents. In respect to the gerfalcons, I am indifferent whether he have them or not; for birds fly anywhere, and are as soon lost as given; but with respect to fine tapestry, which would remain as a proof of his boasting being true, I will not consent that he enjoy the pleasure of possessing it. Therefore, Châteaumorant,” continued the king of Hungary, “if you wish to make a journey into Turkey, to see Bajazet, and present him with the falcons, you may do so, but you shall not carry him anything else.”
Sir John de Châteaumorant replied, — “Certainly, sire, it is not the intention of the king of France, nor to his honour more than to that of the other lords who have sent me, that I fail in any particular in the accomplishment of the objects they have charged me with.” — “Very well,” said the king: “You will not at present have any other answer from me than what you have heard.” The two knights left the apartment, and consulted together how to act, for this refusal of the king of Hungary had disconcerted them. They thought their only expedient was to send off a messenger express with the account of the king of Hungary’s conduct to the king of France and the duke of Burgundy, for them to provide a remedy, and 633 to explain the causes of their delay. They wrote, in consequence, letters to the king and the duke of Burgundy, and engaged a trusty messenger to carry them, whom they supplied with a sufficiency of money for him frequently to change his horses on the road, that he might hasten his journey, while they waited his return at Buda.
The messenger journeyed with great diligence to Paris, and delivered his letters to the king of France and the duke of Burgundy. Having read them, they were much surprised and vexed that the king of Hungary should prevent their ambassador from continuing his journey with the presents to the sultan of Turkey, as they had ordered him to do. The duke of Berry, however, excused the king of Hungary, saying he was no way to blame, for it was too debasing to a king of France to send presents and jewels to such a recreant pagan king. The duke of Burgundy was more nearly affected in the matter, and defended the measures as reasonable, since fortune had been so favourable, to give the sultan a victory, in which the whole force of the king of Hungary was slain or put to flight, and the greater part of the nobles made prisoners that had been in the battle. It therefore behoved their relations and friends to adopt every mode for their deliverance, if they were desirous of seeing them again. This speech of the duke of Burgundy was supported by the king and council. The king asked the duke of Berry, — “Good uncle, if this sultan Bajazet, or any other pagan king, were to send you a rich and sparkling ruby, would you accept of it?” “My lord,” replied the duke, “I should consider of it.” The king reminded him that it was not ten years since the sultan had sent him a ruby that had cost twenty thousand francs.
The king of Hungary was condemned by all for having prevented the presents from being carried to the sultan, which might have the effect of adding to the distressful state of the French lords that were prisoners. The king was therefore advised to write courteous letters to the king of Hungary, to request that he would not longer prevent his ambassador from proceeding on his journey with the presents to the court of Turkey. When they had been fairly written out and sealed, they were given to the messenger from Hungary, who, leaving Paris, set out on his return to Buda.
CHAPTER LXXXVI. — THE DUCHESS OF ORLEANS IS SUSPECTED OF CAUSING THE KING’S ILLNESS.
EVERY year the king of France had relapses of his frenzy, without a physician or surgeon being able to prevent it. Some indeed had boasted that they would restore him to sound health, but it was soon found they laboured in vain. The king’s disorder never ceased until it had run its course, in spite of prayers and medicines. Some of the physicians and sorcerers who attended the king, on finding their labour lost, declared the king must have been poisoned or enchanted by some pernicious herbs. This agitated greatly the minds of the nobility and people, for these sorcerers affirmed, the batter to gain belief, that the king was under the power of sorcery, and that they knew it from the devil who had revealed it to them. Several of these conjurors had been burnt at Paris an Avignon, for having gone so far as to say that the duchess of Orleans, daughter to the duke of Milan, was the cause of this mischief, that she might succeed to the crown of France. This was so much believed that common report said she had frequently practised such arts, and that, so long as she was near the person of the king, he neither would nor could regain his health. It was therefore necessary, to put an end to this slander, that the duchess of Orleans should quit Paris. She went first to reside at Asnières, a very handsome castle near Pontoise, that belonged to the duke her lord, and then to Neufchâteau, on the Loire, which also belonged to him. The duke of Orleans was very melancholy on hearing such injurious reports against his duchess, which he dissembled as well as he could, and never on this account quitted the king or court, for he took pleasure in attending public business and the different councils on the affairs of the realm.
Galeas duke of Milan was duly informed of the infamous crimes his daughter, the duchess of Orleans, was accursed of. He deeply felt the injury, and had twice or thrice sent ambassadors to France, to exculpate his daughter to the king of France and his council, offering at the 64 same time, a knight or knights that should engage in mortal combat any person who should dare to accuse his daughter or such iniquitous and reasonable practices. The duke of Milan threatened to make war on France; for he had learnt that the king, when he gave his daughter in marriage to the king of England, between Ardres and Calais, had declared that on his return to Paris, he would not attend to anything until he should march a large army into the Milanese; and that his son-in-law, king Richard, had, to his great satisfaction, offered him one thousand English spears and six thousand archers. Galeas had likewise heard that purveyances were making throughout Dauphiny and Savoy for the king of France, for it was by Piedmont the intended entering Lombardy. This expedition, however, was laid aside, and no more thought of, when the news arrived of the unfortunate issue of the battle of Nicopoli, and the death and captivity of the French nobles. The king and the duke of Burgundy were so afflicted at this event, that they could not attend to anything else; they besides knew that the duke of Milan was on the most friendly terms with Bajazet, which was an additional reason at this moment not to push any hostile attempts against him, and he was left unmolested.
CHAPTER LXXXVII. — THE DUKE AND DUCHESS OF BURGUNDY DILIGENTLY EXERT THEMSELVES TO FIND MEANS TO RANSOM THE COUNT DE NEVERS, THEIR SON, AND HIS FELLOW-PRISONERS IN TURKEY. — THE KING OF HUNGARY, THROUGH THE PERSUASION OF THE GRAND MASTER OF RHODES, PERMITS THE AMBASSADOR FROM THE KING OF FRANCE TO PASS THROUGH HIS KINGDOM WITH THE PRESENTS FOR THE SULTAN BAJAZET.
THE duke and duchess of Burgundy considered every possible means of recovering their son. As they knew they must pay a very large sum for his ransom, they reduced their expenses as much as possible, to gather all the money they could; without this, they knew they could not succeed; and made many friends among the Venetian and Genoese merchants, for through their means the ransoms were to be negotiated. The duke of Burgundy resided with the king, who conversed with him frequently on affairs of state, and paid attention to what he said; for the duke had the principal share in the government, which made his own affairs prosper the more.
At this time there lived in Paris a Lombard, who was a great and rich merchant, and transacted business for the other Lombards: he was known and spoken of all over the world, wherever commerce was carried on: his name was Dinde Desponde, and by him all exchanges were made. If before the event of the battle of Nicopoli he was beloved by the king of France and the lords of his court, he was now much more so, and had frequent consultations with the dukes of Burgundy on the surest means to recover his son and the other lords who were prisoners in Turkey. Dinde Desponde said to the duke, — “My lord, by degrees all things are brought about. The merchants of Genoa, and of the islands under their obedience, are well known everywhere, and traffic with Cairo, Alexandria, Damascus, Damietta, and Turkey, and in different countries of infidels; for trade, my lord, as you know, finds its way everywhere, and rules the world. Write, therefore, to the Genoese, and prevail on the king to do so likewise, in a friendly manner, promising them great rewards if they will undertake the business; for there is nothing but may be accomplished with money. The king of Cyprus, who is near to Turkey, and now at peace with the sultan, may also assist in the matter. You must suppose that, as for myself, I will exert my powers to the utmost, for I am bound to obey you in everything.”
The duke and duchess of Burgundy neglected no means to free their son from his captivity, for they were sorely afflicted by it. He was the heir to their vast possessions; and this misfortune had happened to him on his first onset in arms. The ladies of France lamented the loss of their husbands and friends, especially the lady of Coucy, who refused all comfort, and bewailed him day and night. The duke of Lorrain and sir Ferri de Lorrain, her brothers, visited her at Saint Gobin*, where she resided, and consoled her as well as they 635 could. They advised her to send into Turkey to gain some intelligence of him, for they had heard he had greater liberty allowed him than the other prisoners. The lady thanked her brothers for this advice, and instantly sent for sir Robert Desne†, a good and valiant knight of the Cambresis. She entreated him so sweetly, urging him, out of affection to her, to undertake a journey into Turkey, that the knight consented, and engaged to go thither and bring back full intelligence of the lord de Coucy.
Sir Robert soon made his preparations, and, accompanied by four others, set out for Hungary. In like manner did other ladies n France send to inquire after their husbands. The king of Hungary was very obstinate in his refusal to allow sir John de Châteaumorant to continue his journey to turkey with the presents from the king of France to the sultan. Though this greatly displeased sir John and sir James de Helly, they could not prevail on him to alter his resolution. It happened that the grand-master of Rhodes came at this time to Buda. He was most kindly received by the king, as indeed he ought to have been for on the day of the battle he had saved the king from death or captivity. He made acquaintance with the two knights from France, who related to him the conduct of the king of Hungary, and the circumstance of his detaining them at Buda. He was much surprised, and said, to soften their anger, he would speak to the king on the subject, and, as they should soon experience, with good effect. He managed the matter so prudently with the king, that they were permitted to continue their journey to Turkey, with all their presents, which were restored to them. The ambassador arrived in safety at the place where Bajazet resided, owing to the passports sir James de Helly had brought to him. The sultan received the knights, and their presents from the king of France, with much respect, and seemed very proud of what the king had sent him. The knights were only permitted to have one interview with the count de Nevers, but with none of the others: this, however, was of a sufficiently long continuance. On their taking leave, the count said, — “Recommend me to my lord and father, the duke of Burgundy, to my lady-mother, to my lord the king, and to my lord of Berry, and salute in my name all my friends. Should there be any negotiation going forward with Bajazet, urge the speedy conclusion, for we suffer from every delay. We were originally eight prisoners, but are now increased, by sixteen more, to twenty-four‡: let the ransom include al of us, for it will be as readily agreed to for the whole as for one. Bajazet has settled this in his own mind, and you may depend on his steadiness; and those who have sent you hither may rely on his word, for it is inviolable.” Sir James de Helly and sir John de Châteaumorant replied, they would say and do everything he had directed. They then took leave of the count de Nevers, and the sultan, and set out for Hungary and France. On their return, they met the messenger whom they had sent to Paris, as has been mentioned, bringing letters to the king of Hungary. They made him come back with them, as he had now no occasion to proceed further, for they had been in Turkey; and they all returned together, to the king of France at Paris.
* “Saint Gobin,” — near le Fere in Picardy, now famous for its fine manufacture of looking-glasses.
† “Sir Robert Desne.” Sir Robert de Seu, MSS. B. M. and Hafod.
‡ The MSS. say nine original prisoners.
CHAPTER LXXXVIII. — THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER PLOTS THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS NEPHEW, THE KING OF ENGLAND. — THE KING, HAVING INFORMATION OF HIS PRACTICES, HAS HIM ARRESTED BY THE EARL MARSHAL.
I HAVE been some time without saying anything of the duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of the late king Edward of England, for I have not had any cause for so doing. But I will now speak of him, because his heart would no way incline to the French, and he was more pleased than hurt at the melancholy loss they had sustained in Turkey. He had with him a knight called sir John Lackingay, who was his most confidential adviser, and, as it was afterwards discovered, held with him such conversations as the following: “These vain-boasting French have been early annihilated in Turkey. Such knights and squires as join company with them know not what they are about, and are ill-advised when they do so, for they are so full of vanity and presumption, that they never can bring to a successful issue anything they undertake. This has often been apparent during the wars of my lord and 636 father, and our brother the prince of Wales, for they never could obtain a victory over our men. I know not why we have any truces with them: if it were war with them, as we have good cause for quarrel, we would wage it now more successfully than ever, for the flower of the French chivalry is slain or in captivity. Our countrymen wish for war, for without it they cannot exist, and idleness to men at arms is death. I swear, therefore, by God, that if I be alive, and in health, two years hence, the war shall be renewed, for I will not keep any truce or peace. The French have shown how little they have regarded them in former times, and have, by whatever treacherous and underhand means they could devise, deprived us of the duchy of Aquitaine, which was given up to my late lord and father, I conformity to a sound treaty of peace. This I have more than once charged them with, in the conference on the other side of the sea; but they made such flourishing and complimentary speeches, they always lighted on their feet, and I was not attended to either by the king or by my brothers. If the king of England had a good head, and were as desirous as I am of war, and would take some pains to recover the inheritance they have shamefully stolen from him, he would find one hundred thousand archers, and six thousand men at arms willing to cross the sea, and ready to serve him with their lives and fortunes. But things are not so. At this moment we have an unwarlike king, who is indifferent as to arms, otherwise he would show himself in France; for there never was so favourable an opportunity to carry the war thither as at this present moment, since they would be assured of a battle, and the people of this country, who are always eager to fight with those richer than themselves, for the sake of the spoil, would venture boldly, in the hope of having the like success with their ancestors under the king my father, of happy memory, and my brother the prince of Wales.
“I am the last of the royal family of England; but, were I believed, I would be the first to renew the wars, to retaliate for the wrongs that have been done us, and which they are daily doing by the connivance and weakness of our rulers, more particularly of our head the king of England, who has allied himself by marriage with the daughter of the enemy the king of France. That is a sure proof he will have no war: certainly not: he is too heavy behind, and only wishes for the pleasures of the table and the amusements of ladies. That is not the life for men at arms, who are desirous of renown and profit. I have not forgotten my last expedition through France. I might have had with me about two thousand lances and eight thousand archers. When we crossed the sea, we entered France by way of Calais, and continued our march through the country, without meeting any one to oppose us or offer us battle. Such formerly was the success of sir Robert Knolles, sir Hugh Calverley, sir Thomas Grandson, sir Philip Gifford; but they had not as many men as I had under their command, and yet they marched to the gates of Paris, and demanded battle from the king of France. No one, however, ventured out to answer their challenge, and they continued their route without interruption into Brittany. You might then have marched from Calais to Bordeaux, without any one daring to oppose you; but I am persuaded whoever should now attempt it would be combated; for he who at present signs himself king of France is young active, and ahs a strong desire to achieve some gallant enterprise. He would therefore fight with us, whatever might be the consequences, and that is everything we could desire; for it has been by battle and victories over the French, who are so rich, that we are become wealthy: if peace continues, we shall languish and become more enervated than ever, since my nephew came to the throne of England. Things cannot long remain in this state, before he people will perceive and redress them. The king raises heavy taxes on the merchants, who are greatly discontented; he squanders the money no one knows how, and thus is the kingdom of England impoverished. True it is, that he gives largely to those about him, and in whom he confides, but the people pay for this, and it will shortly cause a rebellion; for they already begin to murmur, and to say publicly that such measures must not longer be suffered. The king gives out that as soon as the truces between France and England shall be signed, he will make a voyage to Ireland, and employ there his men at arms and archers. He has already been there, and gained but little, for Ireland is not worth conquering: the Irish are a poor and wicked people, with an impoverished country; and he who should conquer it one year, would lose it the next. Lackingay, Lackingay! all you have just heard me say consider as truth.”637
Such were the conversations, as it was afterwards known, between the duke of Gloucester and his knight. He had conceived a great hatred to his nephew, the king of England, and could no way speak well of him; and although he was, with his brother of Lancaster, the greatest personage in England, and one by whose advice the government ought to have been carried on, he paid not any attention to it. When the king sent for him, if it was his pleasure he would come, but more frequently he staid at home; and, when he obeyed, he was always the last to come and the first to depart. On giving his opinion, it must be implicitly followed, for he would not suffer it to be contradicted. He then took leave, mounted his horse, and set off for a handsome castle he had in Essex, thirty miles from London, called Pleshy, where he resided more constantly than anywhere else. This lord Thomas was a great lord, and could afford to expend annually, from his income, sixty thousand crowns. He was duke of Gloucester, earl of Essex and Buckingham, and constable of England; and, from his rough manner, was more feared by the king than any other of his uncles, for, in his speech, he never spared him. The king was always submissive to him, and whatever he asked was instantly granted. The duke of Gloucester had ordered many sever and hasty executions in England, and, without any title of reason or justice, had caused that prudent and gallant knight sir Simon Burley to be beheaded, with many others of the king’s council. This duke likewise caused the banishment of the archbishop of York and the duke of Ireland from England, notwithstanding the confidence the king reposed in them, accusing them of giving evil counsel to the king, keeping him under their governance, and wasting the revenues of the kingdom on themselves. The duke of Gloucester’s two brothers of Lancaster and York resided generally with the king; he was jealous of them, and said to several (such as Robert* bishop of London and others) who went to visit him at his castle of Pleshy, that his brothers were too expensive to the king, and that it would be more decent for them to live at their own houses. The duke gained, by every possible means, the love of the Londoners; for he thought, if he acquired popularity with them, the rest of England would follow their example. The duke had a nephew, son to his brother Lionel, duke of Clarence, who had married the daughter of Galeas, lord of Milan, and died at Asti in Piedmont. The duke of Gloucester would gladly have seen his nephew, called John earl of March†, on the throne of England, and king Richard deposed from it, saying he was neither worthy nor capable to hold the government of England; and this opinion he made no secret of to those who were in his confidence. He invited this earl of March to come and see him; and when at Pleshy, he unbosomed himself to him of all the secrets of his heart, telling him that he had been selected for king of England; that king Richard and his queen were to be confined, but with ample provision for their maintenance, as long as they lived; and he earnestly besought his nephew to believe all he said, for he should make it a point to put his plans into execution, and that he was already joined by the earl of Arundel, the earl of Warwick, and many prelates and barons of England.
The earl of March was thunderstruck on hearing this proposal from his uncle; but, young as he was, he dissembled his real sentiments, and prudently replied, to please his uncle and to get away, that he never thought of such things, and they were of such magnitude as to require his deliberate consideration. The duke then, observing the manner of his nephew, desired he would keep what he had said very secret. This he promised faithfully to do, and, taking his leave, hastened from him, and instantly went to his estates in Ireland: he would never listen nor send any answer to all the proposals his uncle made to him, excusing himself honourably from taking part in them, as he foresaw they must end badly. The duke of Gloucester employed all possible means to stir up troubles in England, and excite the Londoners against the king. The year that a truce had been signed between England and France, to last for thirty years, king Richard and his queen came to London, on their 638 return from France; the duke of Gloucester whispered the citizens to petition the king to abolish all taxes and subsidies which had been imposed for the last twenty years, as it was reasonable they should now cease, since a truce had been signed for so long a term, and they had been levied solely as war-taxes, to pay the men at arms and archers in support of the war. He told the merchants, “it was hard to pay thirteen florins out of every hundred as a tax on merchandise, which were spent in idle dances and feast: you pay for them, and are sorely oppressed. Add to your petition a remonstrance for the realm to be governed according to ancient custom and usages, and that whenever there shall be any necessity to raise money for the defence of the kingdom, you will tax yourselves with such sums as shall be satisfactory to the king and his council.” This advice of the duke of Gloucester was followed by the Londoners, and many of the principal towns. They collected together, and went in a body to the king at Eltham, where they demanded redress of what they complained of, and that all taxes which had been raised for the support of the war should be instantly abolished. Only two of the king’s uncles were present when the citizens presented their petition and remonstrance, namely, the dukes of Lancaster and York. The king desired they would answer the Londoners and the other citizens who had accompanied them, but particularly the duke of Lancaster; who said to them, — “My fair sirs, you will now, each of you, return to your homes, and, within a month from this day, come to the palace of Westminster, when the king, his nobles and prelates of the council, shall be assembled, and your petition and remonstrance be taken into consideration. What shall then be though right to maintain or abolish will be determined upon, and you may depend on having such redress as ought to satisfy you.”
This answer contented some, but not all; for there were among them rebels attached to the duke of Gloucester, who wanted a more speedy decision of their demands; but the dukes of Lancaster and York appeased them by gentle words, and they all departed. The matter, however, did not rest here; but at the month’s end they again went to the king at Westminster, who was surrounded by his nobles and prelates. The duke of Gloucester was now present, and leant much to the petitioners; but, in the answer which was made to them, he dissembled his real thoughts, in order that the king, his brothers, and the members of the council, might not notice them. The duke of Lancaster replied for the king, and, addressing himself to the Londoners, as they composed the majority, said, — “Ye citizens of London, it pleases my lord the king that I give an answer to your petition: in obedience to his command, I shall declare to you what the king and his council have determined upon. Ye know, that to provide against the dangers to the kingdom, ye, as well as the other cities and towns within the realm, agreed, about six years ago, that a tax of thirteen per cent, should be laid on all merchandise that was sold, and for which the king granted to you many privileges such as he will not take from you, but on the contrary may augment, if ye prove not undeserving of the favour. But since ye seem now to turn rebellious, and draw back from what ye had willingly before agreed to, he recals his former favours; and here are his nobles and prelates, who have sworn to support him in all his lawful measures to the utmost of their power, and are now willing to continue their aid in maintaining all legal grants. Consider, therefore, calmly, this matter, and that the state of the king demands great expense; if his revenue is augmented one way, it is diminished another; besides, his receipts are not so considerable as they were in former times. The war has involved greater costs than were provided for. The expenses of the ambassadors for the peace, on this and on the other side of the sea, have called for large sums; and those for the king’s marriage have been very great. Although there is now a truce between England and France, the annual charges for the garrisons of the different towns and castles under the obedience of the king in Gascony, the Bourdelois, Bayonnois, and Bigorre, are very heavy. The fleet which must be maintained to guard our coasts and harbours costs a great deal. The frontiers of Scotland, and of our possessions in Ireland, must not be left defenceless, and they demand large sums. All these articles, and several others relating to the state of the king and country of England, annually absorb great sums, which the nobles and prelates understand and know much better than you can, who attend only to your trades and the disposal of your wares. Give thanks to God that ye have peace, and consider that no one pays that is not liable so to do, and carries on a 639 trade, and that foreigners pay this tax as well as yourselves. Ye are much better off then those of France, Lombardy, or other countries, where it is to be hoped your merchandise is carried; for they are taxed and taxed over again three or four times a-year, while ye only have a moderate duty imposed on your wares.” The duke of Lancaster addressed them so mildly and calmly, that although they came thither with the worst intentions, from the machinations of others, they were satisfied; and the assembly broke up without making any new demand, for the deputies from the majority of the principal towns were contented with the answer.. There were some who would have rejoiced to have seen the meeting end differently, though they did not show it openly. The duke of Gloucester returned to his castle of Pleshy, perceiving that this time he was disappointed in his expectations, and was constantly devising means of exciting disturbances in England and causing a rupture with France. In this attempt, he was joined by the uncle of his duchess, the earl of Arundel, who was desirous of war above all things; and they had successfully practised with the earl of Warwick, so that he obeyed their wills.
The king of England had two brothers by his mother’s side; the eldest, Thomas, earl of Kent, the youngest, a valiant knight, sir John Holland earl of Huntingdon, and chamberlain of England. The last was married to a daughter of the duke of Lancaster; and it was he who had killed the earl of Stafford’s son, as has been mentioned in this history. The issue of the earl of Stafford was a young squire, who was under the protection and wardship of the duke of Gloucester. The earl of Huntingdon resided chiefly at the court of his brother the king of England, and was better acquainted than any other with the intrigues of the duke of Gloucester, from the private inquiries he made into his conduct. He was much afraid of the duke, for he knew him to be proud, cruel, and passionate: he nourished his enemy under his eye, for the crime he had committed on the earl of Stafford’s son had never been forgiven. King Richard was naturally fond of his brother, and supported him against all: he saw with pain that his uncle of Gloucester was his enemy, and took much trouble to form a party against him to force him to leave the kingdom. He and the earl of Huntingdon conversed frequently on this subject; during which time, the count de Saint Pol arrived in England, whither he had been sent by the king of France to see his daughter, the young queen of England, how they were going on, and to cultivate affection between the two countries; for, since the truce had been signed, it was the intention of the two kings and their councils, that France and England should be on the most friendly terms with each other, in spite of what their ill-wishers might attempt to the contrary.
The king and the earl of Huntingdon made the count de Saint Pol a hearty welcome on his arrival, as well from love to the king of France as because he had married their sister. At this moment, neither the dukes of Lancaster nor of York were with the king; for they began to dissemble with him, an to suspect, from the great murmurings in many parts of England on the king’s conduct, that affairs would not end well: they therefore wished not to be called upon by the king or people, but left the whole to the duke of Gloucester and his accomplices. The king of England discoursed very freely with the count de Saint Pol, as well on the state of the country as concerning his uncle the duke of Gloucester, whom he described as very rough in his manners and rebellious in his conduct, and he related to him various instances of his slights. The count de Saint Pol, on hearing them, was much surprised, and replied, “that such behaviour ought not longer to be borne; for, my lord,” added he, “if you suffer him to go on, he will be your ruin. It is currently reported in France, that his only object is to break the truce and renew the war between France and England: by little and little he will win the hearts of the more indigent men at arms of the country, who wish for war rather than peace; and is such person unite together and hostilities commence, the more prudent part of the nation will not be listened to; for when wickedness and obstinacy govern, wisdom and common sense are not heard. Take your precautions beforehand; for it is better you make your enemies afraid of you, than that you should fear them.” These words of the count made a deep impression on the king’s mind; and, as he was continually thinking on them, he renewed the subject with the earl of Huntingdon, on the count de Saint Pol’s return to France. The earl replied, “My lord, our brother-in-law Saint Pol has told you the real truth, and I would advise you to take measures accordingly.”640
I was informed, that about a month after the departure of the count de Saint Pol from England, the king became exceedingly unpopular: it was rumoured that the count had come to treat with the king for the restoration of Calais to the French. Nothing could have agitated the English more than such reports; and the people were so uneasy, that the Londoners went to Pleshy, to consult the duke of Gloucester on the occasion. The duke, instead of calming, excited them more by saying, “He could do nothing in the business; for he was sure the French would give all the daughters of their king, if they could recover Calais.” This answer made the Londoners very melancholy; and they said they would see the king, and remonstrate with him on the agitation the whole country was in. “Do so,” replied the duke of Gloucester: “remonstrate with him firmly, and make him fear you. Mark well the answer he shall give, so that you may repeat it to me the next time I see you; and, when I know his answer, I will then give you my advice how to act. It may be that some iniquitous treaties are on foot, for the earl marshal, who is governor of Calais, has been twice at Paris, where he remained some time, and he was the most active in concluding the marriage of the king with the lady Isabella. The French are a subtle race, and see far into consequences; they pursue their object by degrees, and are extravagant in their promises and presents to gain their ends.”
The Londoners pursued the plan they had settled at Pleshy, and went to Eltham to speak with the king. At that time were with him his two brothers, the earls of Kent and Huntingdon, the earl of Salisbury, the archbishop of Canterbury, the archbishop of Dublin, his confessor, sir Thomas Percy, sir William Lisle, sir Richard Credon, sir John Golofre, and several more, all knights of the king’s chamber. The citizens remonstrated temperately with the king: told him the cause of their coming, not in a haughty or harsh manner, but with courteous speech, and repeated to him the reports which were so current throughout England. The king was greatly astonished at hearing them, and was much affected, though he dissembled his feelings. He appeased the citizens, by declaring there was not one word of truth in all the rumours that were so industriously circulated: that the count de Saint Pol ha come hither to amuse himself, and that the king of France had also sent him, out of his affection to the king and queen of England, to see them; but he swore, as God might help him, and on the faith he owed the crown of England, that no treaty of any sort had ever been mentioned, and he was astonished whence such scandalous reports could have arisen. When the king had done speaking, the earl of Salisbury addressed the citizens: “My good people of London, withdraw to your homes, and be assured that the king and the council wish for nothing more than the honour and profit of England. Those who have busily said the contrary have been ill advised, and plainly show they would with pleasure see the country in rebellion against their king. This you ought particularly to dread, for you have before witnessed how near you were to destruction, when a few wicked persons rebelled, but were severely punished for it: depend upon it, that when the people are wicked, neither justice nor truth will be attended to.” Theses speeches appeased the citizens, who were tolerably contented with what they had heard. Having taken leave of the king, they departed, on their return to London.
The king remained at Eltham, very melancholy at the words he had heard. He retained near his person his two brothers, and such of his friends as he had the greatest confidence in; for he began to doubt the affection of his uncles, from observing they now chiefly resided at their country-seats. He was, in consequence, very suspicious of them, especially of the duke of Gloucester, whom he feared more than the dukes of Lancaster and York, and kept up a constant guard, night and day, of one thousand archers. The king of England had received positive information that the duke of Gloucester and the earl of Arundel had plotted to seize his person, and that of the queen, and carry them to a strong castle, where they should be confined under proper guards, but allowed sufficiently for their table and other necessary expenses. That four regents should be appointed over the kingdom, of whom the dukes of Lancaster and York were to be the chief, and have under them the government of all the northern parts, from the Thames to the Tyne, and as far as the Tweed, that runs by Berwick, comprehending all Northumberland, and the borders of Scotland. The duke of Gloucester was to have for his government London, Essex, and that part of the country to 641 the mouth of the Humber, and likewise all the coast from the Thames to the water of Southampton, and westward comprehending Cornwall. The earl of Arundel was to have Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Berkshire, and all the country from The Thames to Bristol, and the river Severn, that divides England from Wales, where there are very extensive lordships, with power of punishing by death all offenders. But their chief design was to find put some means of rekindling the war with France; and, if the king of France wished to have his daughter again, it might be done, for she was still very young, not more than eight years and a half old, and, perchance, when she was marriageable, she might repent of this connexion, for she was innocently, and without her being able to judge for herself, married, and, beside, it was unjust to break off her match with the heir of Brittany; but should she wish to abide by her marriage, she would in justice remain queen of England, and enjoy her dower, but she should never be the companion of the king of England. Should the king die before she was of proper age, she was to be sent back to France.
These were the plans that had been concerted by many of the English, particularly the Londoners, for they hated the king, and several now repented they had checked the mobs which attacked London from the different counties of England; for they had determined, according to their confessions when pout to death, to murder the king, the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Oxford, and the whole of the king’s council. Had this been done, the kingdom would soon have found another head; and the citizens, with the consent of the country, and the aid of the duke of Gloucester (who took great pains to excite trouble and confusion), would have selected a fit person to wear the crown, and placed the government and kingdom in a different state to what it then was. Such were the recent murmurings of the citizens, and others of their party, in their private meetings, the whole of which was told to the king by his spy; and greater blame was laid on the duke of Gloucester for all this business than on any other person.
It is not to be wondered, if the king was considerably alarmed at the discovery of so much hatred and malice lurking against him. He paid greater court than ever to the duke of Gloucester and the citizens when they came to see him, but all in vain. At times, the king mentioned the matter privately to the dukes of Lancaster and York, who resided more with him than his uncle of Gloucester, and consulted with them how he could avoid the machinations of the duke and his accomplices, all of which he was thoroughly acquainted with. He addressed his uncles, saying, — “My good uncles, for the love of God, advise me how to act. I am daily informed that your brother, the duke of Gloucester, and the earl of Arundel, with others, are determined to seize and confine me in one of their castles, and that the Londoners will join them. Their plan is to allow me a sufficiency for my state, but to separate my queen from me, who is but a child, and daughter to the king of France, and send her to some other place of confinement. Now, my dear uncles, such cruel acts as these must not be suffered, if they can be prevented. You have paid me homage, and sworn obedience to me as your sovereign, in the presence of your lord and father, king Edward, and my grandfather of happy memory, at the same time with the other barons and prelates of the realm. It is now twenty years since this was done; and I entreat you, therefore, from the love you bear me, and on the oaths you have taken that you assist me on this occasion; for everything assure me the duke of Gloucester only desires that war be renewed with France, in spite of the truces which you, with us and all England, have sworn to observe. In consideration to this m marriage concluded with the daughter of the king of France, and we wish to observe every article of the treaty most punctually. You know also, that whoever attempts to infringe this truce will commit a crime, and be liable to corporal punishment, as well as confiscation of goods: you likewise know, that I have borne with your brother, my uncle of Gloucester, as much as I have been able, and made light of his menaces but in the end they may cost me dear. You are bound, therefore, by every tie, to give your best advice, since I require it from you.” When the dukes of Lancaster and of York heard their nephew thus address them, and saw that he was in great anguish of heart; knowing, at the same time, that the greater part of what he had said was strictly true; they replied, — My lord, have a little patience and wait a short time before you make any rash resolution. We know that our brother of Gloucester has 642 the most passionate and wrong-headed temper of any man in England; but he cannot do more than man, and, if he work one way, we will counteract him another: you need not fear our brother so long as you shall follow our advice, He talks frequently of things he cannot execute; and neither he nor his abettors can break the truce which has been signed, nor confine you in any castle; we will never suffer it, nor that you be separated from the queen; for, if he imagine such things, he deceives himself. We therefore humbly beg you will be appeased, for, please God, everything shall end well. Many things may be said that cannot be executed, and all which a man thinketh doth not come to pass.”
By such means, the dukes calmed the king’s mind; but as they foresaw that public affairs would, from their bad management, cause troubles in the realm, and that the hatred between their nephew and brother was daily increasing, to avoid being called upon by either party, they left he king’s household with their families, taking leave of the king for a considerable time, and retired to their different castles. The duke of Lancaster carried with him his duchess, who had been some time the companion of the young queen of England. They took this opportunity of hunting stags and deer, as is the custom in England, and the king remained with his attendants in and about London. They afterwards, however, greatly repented having left the king; for such things shortly happened as troubled the whole kingdom, which would not have been done had they remained with the king, for they would have more prudently advised than such counsellors as he listened to.
There was not one of the king’s servants that did not fear the duke of Gloucester, and wish his death, no matter by what means. That gallant and loyal knight, sir Thomas Percy, had been for a long tie steward of the household, and all the accounts passed officially through his hands. He noticed with grief the hatred that subsisted between the king and the duke of Gloucester, and other great barons of England. Although he was beloved by all, he foresaw, like a man of understanding, that public affairs would end badly, and, in consequence, resigned his office into the king’s hands in the most honourable manner he could, and requested permission to retire, which the king very unwillingly consented to. He gave such plausible reasons for his request, that another was established in his place, and sir Thomas Percy went to his own estate, where he resided. The king had about his person many young counsellors, who too much dreaded the duke of Gloucester: they frequently said to him, — “Very dear sire, it is a dangerous office to serve you, for we have seen our predecessors, in whom you had great confidence, meet but a poor reward. That valiant knight, sir Simon Burley, so much beloved by your lord and father, whom God pardon! and who took such pains for the accomplishment of your first marriage, the duke of Gloucester, your uncle, put shamefully to death, by having him publicly beheaded like a traitor. He likewise, as you know, had many other arbitrarily executed without your being any way able to grant them your pardon, or save them from their ignominious deaths. Dear sire, we expect nothing better; for whenever your uncle cometh hither to see you, which is not often, we dare not raise our eyes from the ground nor look at any body. He eyes us from head to foot, and seems to think we take too much upon us from being about your person; and be assured, dear sire, that as long as he lives, there will never be quiet in England, nor will any one attempt to do anything good. Besides, he publicly threatens to confine you and the queen, and keep you under subjection during his good pleasure. You will be an undone king, and destroyed as well as us, if you do not speedily take some strong measures. As for the queen, she need not care: she is young, and daughter tot eh king of France, whom they dare not anger, as too many evils would result from it to England. Your uncle of Gloucester, to make you more unpopular with your subjects, spread abroad in London (we have heard it), that you are unworthy to bear a crown, and to possess so noble an inheritance as England and its dependencies; that, when you married again, you chose the daughter of your adversary the king of France, for which you were very blame-worthy; and that you have debased the chivalry of England, and the courage of its knights, squires, and nobles, who had so valiantly carried on the war against France, and would have continued it, enfeebled as they are, if you had not prevented them; that you have placed the kingdom in a most perilous situation, with great risk of its destruction, and that it is a pity you are suffered, and have been suffered, to reign so long. The French 643 say (as the common report runs), that you intend to lay aside the arms of France from your arms, which causeth great hatred against you; and it is the more readily believed from the great pains you took to have the truce signed, which was done more through force than love, for the nobles of this country who had served in these wars would not assent to it: that you have not carefully examined the treaties signed by king John of France and his children, which those of his blood now living have treacherously infringed; and that the French, by underhand means, caused a renewal of war, and seized by usurpation the rights of your predecessors, and possessed themselves of very many towns, cites, and castles in Aquitaine, to the great loss to the crown of England, and all through your negligence and want of courage: that you have been afraid of your enemies, and not followed up the advantages you had in the justice of this quarrel, which you still have as well as your ancestors, who immediately have preceded you, such as your lord and father the prince of Wales, and the good king Edward, who both took such pains to augment the glory of the crown. Dear sire, the Londoners say, as indeed do numbers of others (which it behoves us not to conceal longer from you), that a day shall come when you will be reminded of these things to your cost.”
King Richard treasured up all these speeches in his mind, and pondered over them continually. Shortly after the departure of his two uncles of Lancaster and York, he summoned up more courage than usual, and said to himself, that it would be better he should destroy than be destroyed, and, that, within a short time, he would hold his uncle of Gloucester so securely, he should be incapable of injuring him. As he could not accomplish this alone, he opened himself to those most in his confidence. It was to the earl-marshal, who was his cousin, and also earl of Nottingham, that he discovered his intention, and most minutely gave him his orders how he was to act. The earl-marshal, from the favours he had received, loved the king in preference to the duke of Gloucester, and kept the secret he had been entrusted with from all but such as he was forced to employ, as he could not do the whole thing himself. What I am about to say will explain the matter.
The king, under pretence of deer-hunting, went to a palace he had at Havering-at-the-Bower, in Essex: it is about twenty miles from London, and as many from Pleshy, where 644 the duke of Gloucester generally resided. The king set out one afternoon from Havering, without many attendants, for he had left them behind with the queen at Eltham, and arrived at Pleshy about five o’clock: the weather was very hot; and he came so suddenly to the castle, that no one know of it, until the porter cried out, “Here is the king!” The duke of Gloucester had already supped, for he was very temperate in his diet, and never sat long at dinner or supper. He immediately went out to meet the king in the court of the castle, and paid him all the respect due to his sovereign, as did the duchess and her children.
The king entered the hall and apartment, where the table was again laid out for the king, who ate some little; but he had before told the duke, “Good uncle, have your horses saddled, not all, but five or six, for you must accompany me to London, as I am to have a meeting to-morrow with the citizens; and we shall surely meet my uncles of Lancaster and York, but I shall advise with you what answer to make to the Londoners’ demands. Tell your house-steward to follow us with your servants to London, where they will find you.” The duke, suspecting nothing evil intended against him, too easily consented; and the king, having soon supped, rose from table. Everything being ready, the king took leave of the duchess and her children, mounted his horse, and the duke did the same, attended only by three squires and four varlets. They took their way to Bondelay to avoid the high road to London and Brentwood, with the other towns through which it passes. They rode hard, for the king pretended impatience to get to London, and conversed all the way with the duke of Gloucester. On their arrival at Stratford, near the Thames, where an ambuscade had been laid, the king galloped forwards, leaving his uncle behind, on which the earl-marshal advanced to the rear of the duke, with a large body of men, and said, “I arrest you in the king’s name.” The duke was panic-struck, for he saw he had been betrayed, and cried aloud after the king. I know not if the king heard him, but he did not turn back, galloping on faster than before, and followed by his attendants.
We will now leave this matter for a short time.
* Robert Braybook who succeeded Courtnay, on his translation to Canterbury, 1381, and died 1404, having been chancellor of England scarcely six months — Gough’s Pleshy, note, p. 59.
† “He was third son of Edward Mortimer earl of March, by Philippa, daughter of Lionel duke of Clarence, and was hanged 3d Henry VI. Sandford, p. 224. — Froissart means Roger, his elder brother, slain in Ireland, 22d Richard II., whose death Richard went over to avenge, when Henry IV. plotted to dethrone him. Ib. p. 226. This Roger was declared heir to the crown by parliament, 9th Rich. II. Leland’s Collectanea, vol. i. p. 693. — Froissart took the opportunity of the marriage of Lionel and Violanta to visit Italy, and dwells on the solemnities and festivals of the wedding.” — Gough’s Pleshy, p. 60.
CHAPTER LXXXIX. — THE LORD DE COUCY AND THE COUNT D’EU, CONSTABLE OF FRANCE, DIE IN TURKEY, BEFORE THE TREATY FOR THEIR DELIVERANCE IS ARRANGED. — RANSOM IS AGREED ON FOR THE OTHER PRISONERS WHO WERE TAKEN AT THE BATTLE OF NICOPOLI.
YOU have before heard how sir John de Châteaumorant and sir James de Helly were sent by the king of France and the duke of Burgundy as ambassadors to Bajazet, in Turkey, and of the success of their mission. On their return to France they were well received by the king, the duke and duchess of Burgundy, from the certain intelligence they had brought from the count de Nevers and his fellow-prisoners. These knights told the king they thought the sultan would readily listen to terms for their ransom, for they had been so given to understand by some of his principal advisers, lest the prisoners might die while in captivity, which was likely enough to happen, from the difference of air and diet, and they would not in that case gain anything by them. These words encouraged the duke and duchess of Burgundy to exert themselves in procuring the ransom of their son and heir, and they were occupied day and night in devising means to open negotiations with the sultan. The duchess said this battle of Nicopoli had been very unfortunate to her, for she had lost by it three of her brothers, who were gallant knights in arms: the first, the haze de Flandres, the second, sir Louis de Brézé, and the third, sir John d’Ypres: there was another brother, the youngest of them, who had remained at home. To say the truth, the duchess had grief enough, and it was not surprising if she was melancholy, but the duke and his advisers calmed her, by their earnestness in procuring her son’s liberty: this was not, however, soon done, for the distance and difficulty of treating with such people forced them to go about the business leisurely.
About the time I am now speaking of, that gallant knight and excellent man the lord Enguerrand de Coucy, count de Saissons, and a potent lord in France, died at Bursa in 645 Turkey. Sir Robert d’Eu, who had been sent to him by the lady de Coucy, had not advanced further than Vienna, on his journey thither, when he was informed of his death. He returned with this news to France, and told it to the family of the lord de Coucy, though not to the widow, before whom he did not appear until the governor of the castle of Saint Gobin was sent to seek the body, have it embalmed, and brought to France. It was conveyed to the abbey of Nogent near to Coucy, and received by the duchess of Bar, the bishop of Laon, and many abbots: there the gentle knight was buried, and thus ended the year of grace 1397.
The king of France and the duke of Burgundy were very active in their endeavours to abridge the captivity of their friends in Turkey, and there passed not a day without their having some conversation on the subject. Sir Dinde de Desponde was of all their consultations, and said the Venetian or Genoese merchants could alone assist them; for by means of merchandise, which governs everything, and their connexions with other merchants, they could pass everywhere, and learn the temper of the infidel sultans. They had great weight, particularly in Cairo, Alexandria, Damascus, and Antioch, where they had factories, and the Saracens and Christians mutually interchanged their merchandises. The king and the duke, therefore, made as many friends among these merchants as they could, and gave up all intentions of making war on the duke of Milan from the friendship they learnt Bajazet bore him. On the other hand, king James of Cyprus knew well, that if he could any how soften the anger of the sultan, and prevail on him to accept of reasonable terms for the ransom of the French lords, he should greatly oblige the king of France, the duke of Burgundy, and the whole of the nation. To accomplish this, the king of Cyprus had a ship made of gold, curiously wrought, that might be worth ten thousand ducats, which he sent by his knights as a present to the sultan Bajazet. It was beautifully worked, and was graciously accepted by the sultan, who replied, he would return him double its value in courtesy and affection. This answer brought back by the Cypriote knights, was instantly made known to the king of France and the duke of Burgundy by some merchants, who wrote to sir Dinde that he might inform them of it. King James was wise in making this present; he dreaded the king of France, and all kings, for having murdered in the nighttime his valiant brother, king Peter, who had fought so courageously against the Saracens, and had won from them the towns of Satalia and Alexandria; and they were more afraid of him than of all the other kings or emperors in Christendom.
King James had sorely repented having committed this crime, or being present when it was done; and, not daring to continue in Cyprus, for the Christians would have put him to a disgraceful death, could they have caught him, he embarked on board a galley belonging to some Genoese merchants which was in the port of Nicosia, when the murder had been done, and fled to Genoa., The Genoese kindly entertained him, and some say that this villanous murder had been instigated by them; for, shortly after, they entered the harbour of Famagousta with a large fleet of galleys and men at arms, which they took possession of, and have held by force ever since. True it is, that the king of Cyprus had a very promising youth for his son, whom he brought with him, in company with a knight who had travelled through Lombardy to Rome, the last time he had crossed the sea: this youth the Cypriotes crowned their king on the assassination of his father, but he lived not long to enjoy it. On his death, the Genoese brought back James, whom they had crowned king, and he has reigned ever since in Cyprus, through the support the Genoese give him against all nations. They would never give up possession of the town or port of Famagousta, and are the masters of it at this present moment of my writing these chronicles. Indeed, had the Genoese not held it, the Turks and infidels would have conquered the whole of the island, as well as Rhodes and the other adjacent islands; but the Venetians and Genoese are their great opponents. When the last saw that the kingdom of Armenia was conquered by the Turks, they seized the town of Courch, that is situated on the sea-shore, which they have kept under their governance. The Turks, were they not fearful of Courch and Pera, near Constantinople, would do the greatest mischief to all who navigate those seas, as well as to Rhodes and the neighbouring islands. It is by these means the frontiers of Christendom are defended; but let us return to king James of Cyprus. When he found, from the base 646 crime he had been guilty of, he was fallen under the displeasure and hatred of every crowned head, he exerted himself to the utmost to recover their favour, and thought himself highly honoured by the letter the king of France had written to him. He was afraid of him, and not without reason, for the duke of Bourbon, uncle to the king of France, was, by right of succession through the Lusignans, the true heir to the throne of Cyprus. This king James, although brother to the late king, was not so by lawful marriage, but a bastard, as was well known to the Genoese. When they gave him the crown they mutually entered into special treaties with each other; and the Genoese bound themselves to defend him and his descendants’ rights to the government against all claimants: in consideration of which, they had many lordships and tracts of land yielded up to them in the island o Cyprus. Every thing they did in the defence of king James was to strengthen themselves against the Venetians and to open greater markets for their trade with the Saracens, for, as factors, they have many connexions with them and others of their faith. King James, through the Genoese, took great pains to please the king of France and his subjects, and it was in consequence of this he had made Bajazet so very rich a present, which was highly pleasing to the sultan and his ministers, who valued it much. It was supposed by many, that sir Dinde Desponde had urged on the Genoese in this matter, as they were very warm in their endeavours to bring about a treaty for the deliverance of the count de Nevers and the other prisoners.
The duke and duchess of Burgundy heard, with infinite pleasure, that the sultan began to tire of his prisoners, and would readily enter into a treaty for their liberty. They selected a valiant knight from the country of Flanders, called sir Guissebreth de Linrenghen, who was regent of Flanders under the duke and duchess of Burgundy, to go to Turkey and treat with Bajazet for the ransom of the French lords. At the same time they sent for sir James de Helly, and entreated that he would accompany their ambassador, because he was well acquainted with the countries he was to travel through, and with the court of the sultan, promising that his trouble and attention should be handsomely remunerated. Sir James, having promised to fulfil their commands, set out in company with the Flemish knight: on their arrival in Hungary, they waited on the king, to deliver the letters which were intrusted to them. The king received the letters and knights with joy, in compliment to the king of France: he was before acquainted with sir James de Helly. They informed the king the object of their mission to Bajazet was to treat for the release of his prisoners, if he were inclined to listen to them. The king of Hungary replied, that it would be well dine if they could obtain their liberty for money: and the attempt was worth trying, for nothing could be lost by that. He offered them every assistance in his power, of money or men, for which the knights thanked him.
They had many difficulties to encounter, before they could enter into a personal treaty with Bajazet; for it was first necessary that sir James de Helly should wait on the sultan to obtain a passport for Guissebreth de Linrenghen to travel through Turkey, which having been properly made out he returned with it to Hungary. They journeyed to Turkey together; and Bajazet received the regent of Flanders with kindness, and listened to his proposals which formed the basis for a treaty. At this time there lived a Genoese merchant called Bartholomeo Pelegrini, in the island of Scio, who was universally esteemed for his probity and knowledge in trade, even by Bajazet himself: to him sir Dinde de Desponde had written to interest himself in the business, that it might have a more speedy termination, for they were well known to each other, and promised him a handsome recompense, if successful in obtaining the French lords’ liberty, from the duke and duchess of Burgundy, and other lords and ladies who had friends or husbands in the power of Bajazet. He entreated him to take upon himself the debt for their ransom, however large the sum, and to conduct the French lords to Venice, or to some part under the government of the Venetians; and that the moment he should be assured from him of their arrival thither, he would, without delay, hasten to Venice in person, with the amount of the sum to repay him what he had expended. The Genoese merchant complied with the request of sir Dinde, as well from personal regard to him, as for the profit and honour he should acquire from it, and for the esteem he should gain from the king of France; for, from such a king, it was worth having. From the information I had, I am inclined to believe that the king of Cyprus sent some of 647 his ablest counsellors to push forward the negotiations with the sultan, in compliance with the solicitations of the king of France and the duke of Burgundy. The lord de Mathelin and d’Amine, two great barons of Greece, and much in favour with Bajazet, interfered also in the matter, according to the request that had been made them from France, otherwise they would not have troubled themselves about it.
Turkey was an extensive country, and not convenient to travel through, to those unaccustomed to it: Bajazet, therefore, as soon as he had consented to a treaty, resolved that all the French prisoners should be conveyed to Bursa, where the whole business should be concluded. Those lords were brought thither, to the amount of twenty-five; but their conductors, the Turks, treated them scandalously on the road, by beating them forward, for they had purposely badly mounted them, and their horses would only go at a foot’s pace: for this they were beaten by the Turks who heard, very unwillingly, that they were to have their liberty. On their arrival at Bursa, where the negotiators from the king of France, the duke of Burgundy, the king of Cyprus, the Venetians and Genoese were waiting to receive them, they had more liberty than when in the prisons of the sultan: but, notwithstanding it was known they were to be ransomed they were so closely guarded that they could not obtain a fourth part of their wishes. Among the different persons who were at Bursa on account of the treaty, Bajazet inclined more to sir Guissebreth de Linrenghen, for sir James de Helly had told him he was regent of Flanders and the most confidential counsellor of the duke of Burgundy. The sultan resided in a handsome castle near Bursa, and where the negotiators went to discuss matters with him: the ransom for the twenty-five prisoners was fixed at two hundred thousand ducats. The lords de Mathelin and d’Amine, with the Genoese merchant of Scio, pledged themselves to the sultan for the payment of it. The count de Nevers gave his oath to the merchant, for himself and the rest, that on his arrival at Venice, he would never depart thence until the whole of this sum were paid to his satisfaction. Before the treaties were concluded, the count d’Eu was so much weakened by sickness, change of air, and diet he had not been accustomed to, that he departed this life at Haute-loge, where he had been confined with the other lords, who were much afflicted thereat, though they could not any way prevent it. The lord Philip d’Artois, count d’Eu and constable of France, was, when dead, opened and embalmed, and in this state put into a coffin and carried to France, where he lies buried in the church of Saint Laurence d’Eu.
When the sultan Bajazet was completely satisfied as to the security of those who had pledged themselves for the payment of the two hundred thousand ducats as the ransom for the French lords, the two ambassadors from the duke of Burgundy were impatient to return to France, and carry the joyful news of their success to the king and other lords so greatly interested in it. They took leave of Bajazet and those of his court they were the most intimate with; and, as the regent of Flanders was in his favour, the gallant sultan ordered, that twenty thousand ducats should be deducted from the two hundred thousand he was to receive, and given to the two knights, in consideration of the great pains they had taken to accomplish these treaties. The two knights gratefully thanked the sultan, as they had reason, for his magnificent gift, and, after taking leave of the Turkish court and the French lords, returned to Bursa. They there left the count de Nevers and his companions, waiting the lords de Mathelin* and d’Amine who were to come for them in their galley, and embarked on board a small passage-galley for Mathelin. On quitting the harbour the sea was calm and the weather temperate; but they had not advanced far before it changed, and at length became so tempestuous that sir Guissebreth, sorely tormented by sea-sickness died before they could reach Mathelin. Sir James de Helly was much grieved for his loss, and, engaging a Venetian galley, sailed to Rhodes. He published everywhere the deliverance and speedy arrival of the count de Nevers and his companions, to the great joy of the knights of Rhodes. On his arrival in France, he made the king, the duke and duchess of Burgundy, and the nation, happy by the good news he had brought. Sir James spoke 648 loudly in the praise of his companion, sir Guissebreth, and of the great pains he took to conclude the treaty.
The sultan Bajazet, having had every thing respecting the ransom of his French prisoners settled to his satisfaction, resolved on allowing them more liberty, for indeed they were no longer prisoners, and invited them to his presence before the departure of the ambassadors, to show them the magnificence of his establishments. They were said to be very grand indeed; and immense numbers were daily attendant on his person. He sent some of his principal lords to invite the count de Nevers and his companions to the castle, where he received and entertained them handsomely: he ordered all things they might want to be delivered out to them by his officers, as was the usual custom of his court. The sultan conversed daily with the count de Nevers, by means of an interpreter, and paid him much respect, for he knew that he was, or would be, a very great lord in France, by the great exertions that were made, and the large sum paid for his ransom, which was enough to satisfy his avarice, having securities for the amount of one million of florins. The other French lords were equally astonished with the count de Nevers at the power and state of Bajazet. He was attended by such numbers, that they were always encamped, for no town could lodge them; and the expense must have been very great to supply so many with food. It was surprising where such quantities came from, notwithstanding the natives of warm climates are very temperate in their diet, eating but little mat, living on spices and sugar, of which they have abundance, as well as goats’ milk, the common beverage of the Turks and Saracens, and they have plenty of bread made of millet.
The sultan had at this time seven thousand falconers, and as many huntsmen; you may suppose from this the grandeur of his establishments. One day, in the presence of tee count de Nevers, he flew a falcon at some eagles; the flight did not please him; and he was so wroth, that, for this fault, he was on the point of beheading two thousand of his falconers, scolding them exceedingly for want of diligence in their care of his hawks, when the one he was fond of had behaved so ill. Another time, when the count de Nevers and the French barons were with the sultan, a poor woman came to him in tears, to demand justice against one of his servants, and said, — “Sultan, I address myself to thee, as my sovereign, and complain of one of thy servants, who is I understand, attached to thy person. He this morning entered my house, and seized by force the goat milk I had provided for myself and children, and drank it against my will. I told him that I should complain to thee of this outrage, but I had no sooner uttered the words, than he gave me two great cuffs, and would not leave me, though I ordered him in thy name. Sultan, do me justice, as thou hast sworn to thy people thou wouldest, that I may be satisfied, this injury be punished, and that every one many know thou wilt see the meanest of thy subjects righted.”
The sultan was very rigidly determined that all crimes committed within his dominions should be severely punished: he therefore listened to her attentively, and said he would do her justice. He then ordered the varlet to be brought, and confronted with the woman, who repeated her complaint. The varlet, who dreaded Bajazet, began to make excuses, saying it was all false. The woman told a plain tale, and persisted in its truth. The sultan stopped her, and said, — “Woman, consider well thy accusation; for, if I find thou hast told me a lie, thou shalt suffer death.” “Sir,” replied the woman, “I consent to it; for were it not true, I could have no reason to come before thee, and I only ask for justice.” “I will do it,” answered the sultan, “for I have so sworn, and indiscriminately to every man or woman within my dominions.” He then ordered the varlet to be seized, and to have his belly opened, for otherwise he would not have known if he had drank the milk or not. It was there found, for it had not had time to be digested; and the sultan, on seeing it, said to the woman, “Thou hadst just cause of complaint: now go thy way, for the injury done thee has been punished.” She was likewise paid for her loss. This judgment of Bajazet was witnessed by the French lords, who were at the time in his company.
* D. Sauvage supposes, in a marginal note, this must be the lord of the island of Mitelino, but confesses his ignorance of the other.