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From Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries, by Sir John Froissart, Translated from the French Editions with Variations and Additions from Many Celebrated MSS, by Thomas Johnes, Esq; London: William Smith, 1848. pp. 160-171.
I WISH now to return to king Philip, whom we left at St. Denis with his army, which was increasing every day. He marched off with it, and pushed forward until he came to Coppigny les Guises, which is three leagues distant from Amiens, where he halted. The king of England, who was still at Airaines, was much embarrassed how to cross the Somme, which was wide and deep, as all the bridges had been broken down, and their situations were well guarded by men at arms. The two marshals, at the request of the king, followed the course of the river, in order if possible to find a passage for the army: they had with them a thousand men at arms and two thousand archers. They passed by Lompré*, and came to Pont de Remy†, which they found defended by numbers of knights, squires, and people of the country. The English dismounted, and attacked the French from the very dawn of the morning until near ten o’clock: but the bridge was so well fortified and guarded, that they could not gain anything; so they departed, and went to a large town called Fontaines-sur-Somme‡, which they completely plundered and burnt, as it was quite open. They next came to another town, called Long, in Ponthieu§, but they could not gain the bridge, so well was it guarded. They then rode on to Pecquigny¶, but found the town, castle, and bridge, so well garrisoned that it was impossible to pass. In this manner had the king of France ordered all the bridges and fords of the river Somme to be guarded, to prevent the king of England from crossing it with his army; for he was resolved to force them to fight when he should see the most favourable opportunity, or else to starve them.
The two marshals, having thus in vain followed the course of the Somme, returned to the king of England, and related to him that they were unable to find a passage anywhere. That same evening, the king of France took up his quarters at Amiens, with upwards of one hundred thousand men. The king of England was very pensive: he ordered mass before sunrise, and his trumpets to sound for decamping. All sorts of people followed the marshals’ banners, according to the orders the king had issued the preceding day; and they marched through the country of Vimeu¥, drawing near to the good town of Abbeville. In their march, they came to a town where a great number of the country people had assembled, trusting to some small fortifications which were thrown up there; but the English conquered the town, as soon as they came to it, and all that were within. Many of the townsmen and those from the adjoining country were slain or taken prisoners. The king lodged, that night, in the great hospital.
The king of France set out from Amiens, and came to Airaines about noon: the English king had quitted it about ten o’clock. The French found there provisions of all sorts; meat on the spits, bread and pastry in the ovens, wine in barrels, and even some tables ready spread, for the English had left it in very great haste. The king of France fixed his quarters there, to wait for his nobles and their retinue. The king of England was in the town of Oisemont**. When his two marshals returned in the evening, after having overrun the country as far as the gates of Abbeville, and to St. Valery, where they had had a smart skirmish, the king of England summoned a council, and ordered many prisoners, whom his people had made in the districts of Ponthieu and Vimeu, to be brought before him.
The king, most courteously, asked, “if any of them knew a ford below Abbeville, where he and his army could pass without danger;” and added, “Whoever will show us such a ford shall have his liberty, and that of any twenty of his fellow-soldiers whom he may wish to select.” There was among them a common fellow whose name was Gobin Agace, who answered the king, and said, “Sir, I promise you, under peril of my life, that I will conduct you to such a place, where you and your whole army may pass the river Somme without any risk. 161 There are certain fordable places where you may pass twelve men abreast twice in the day and not have water above your knees; but when the tide is in, the river is full and deep, and no one can cross it; when the tide is out, the river is so low that it may be passed, on horseback or on foot, without danger. The bottom of this ford is very hard, of gravel and white stones, over which all your carriages may safely pass, and from thence is called Blanchetaque. You must therefore set out early, so as to be at the ford before sun-rise.” “Friend,” replied the king, “if I find what thou hast just said to be true, I will give thee and all thy companions their liberty; and I will besides make thee a present of a hundred nobles.” The king gave orders for every one to be ready to march at the first sound of his trumpet, and to proceed forward.
* Lompré-Corps-Saints, a small town in Picardy.
† In the election of Abbeville.
‡ In Picardy.
§ A fertile district of Picardy, between the rivers Somme and Canche.
¶ A town in Picardy, on the Somme, three leagues from Amiens.
¥ A district in Picardy, of which St. Valery is the capital.
** A town in Picardy, four leagues from Amiens, five from St. Valery.
THE king of England did not sleep much that night, but, rising at midnight, ordered his trumpet to sound. Very soon every thing was ready; and, the baggage being loaded, they set out from the town of Oisemont about day-break, and rode on, under the guidance of Gobin Agace, until they came to the ford of Blanchetaque, about sun-rise: but the tide was at that time so full, they could not cross. The king, however, determined to wait there for the those of his army who were not yet come up; and he remained until after ten o’clock, when the tide was gone out. The king of France, who had his scouts all over the country, was informed of the situation of the king of England: he imagined he should be able to shut him up between Abbeville and the Somme, and thus take him prisoner, or force him to fight at a disadvantage. From the time of his arrival at Amiens, he had ordered a great baron of Normandy, called sir Godémar du Fay, to guard this ford of Blanchetaque, which the English must cross, and nowhere else. Sir Godémar had set out, in obedience to this order, and had with him, in the whole, one thousand men at arms and six thousand foot, with the Genoese. He had passed St. Ricquier* in Ponthieu, and from thence came to Crotoy†, where this ford was: he had collected, in his march, great numbers of the country people. The townsmen of Abbeville had also accompanied him, excellently well appointed: they had arrived at the passage before the English. They were, in all, fully twelve thousand men: among them were two thousand who had jackets, resembling waggoners’ frocks, called torviquiaux.
On the arrival of the English army, sir Godémar du Fay drew up his men on the banks of the river, to defend and guard the ford. The king of England, however, did not for this give up his intention of crossing; but, as soon as the tide was sufficiently gone out, he ordered his marshals to dash into the water, in the names of God and St. George. The most doughty and the best mounted leaped in first; and, in the river, the engagement began: many on both sides were unhorsed into the water: there were some knights and squires, from Artois and Picardy, in the pay of sir Godémar, who in hope of preferment, and to acquire honour, had posted themselves at this ford, and they appeared to be equally fond of tilting in the water as upon dry land.
The French were drawn up in battle array, near the narrow pass leading to the ford; and the English were much annoyed by them as they came out of the water to gain the land; for there were among them Genoese cross-bowmen who did them much mischief. On the other hand, the English archers shot so well together that they forced the men at arms to give way. At this ford of Blanchetaque many gallant feats of arms were performed on each side: but, in the end, the English crossed over, and, as they came on shore, hastened to the fields. After the king, the prince, and the other lords had crossed, the French did not long keep in the order they were in, but ran off for the fastest. When sir Godémar du Fay found his army was discomfited, he saved himself as quickly as he could, and many with him; some making for Abbeville, others for St. Ricquier. The infantry, however, could 162 not escape; and there were numbers of those from Abbeville, Arras, Montreuil and St. Ricquier, slain or taken prisoners: the pursuit lasted more than a league. The English had scarcely gained the opposite bank, when some of the light horse of the French army, particularly those belonging to the king of Bohemia and sir John of Hainault, advanced upon the rear, took from them some horses and accoutrements, and slew several on the bank who were late in crossing. The king of France had set out from Airaines that morning, thinking to find the English on the banks of the Somme: when news was brought to him of the defeat of Sir Godémar and his army, he immediately halted, and demanded from his marshals, what was to be done: they answered, “You can only cross the river by the bridge of Abbeville, for the tide is now in at Blanchetaque.” The king of France therefore turned back, and took up his quarters at Abbeville. The king of England, when he had crossed the Somme, gave thanks to God for it, and began his march in the same order as he had done before. He called to him Gobin Agace, gave him his freedom without ransom, as well as that of his companions, and ordered the hundred nobles of gold to be given him, and also a good horse. The king continued his march, thinking to take up his quarters at a good and large town called Noyelle‡, situated hard by; but when he was informed that it belonged to the countess d’Aumarle, sister to the late Robert d’Artois, he sent to assure the inhabitants, as well as all the farmers belonging to her, that they should not be hurt. He marched further on; but his two marshals rode to Crotoy, near the sea; they took the town and burnt it. In the harbour they found many ships, and other vessels, laden with wines, from Poitou, Saintonge, and la Rochelle: they ordered the best to be carried to the English army: then one of the marshals pushed forward, even as far as the gates of Abbeville, and returned by St. Ricquier, following the sea-shore to the town of St. Esprit de Rue§.
These two battalions of the marshals came, on a Friday in the afternoon, to where the king was; and they fixed their quarters, all three together, near Crecy in Ponthieu. The king of England, who had been informed that the king of France was following him, in order to give him battle, said to his people: “Let us post ourselves here; for we will not go farther before we have seen our enemies. I have good reason to wait for them on this spot; as I am now upon the lawful inheritance of my lady-mother, which was given her as her marriage-portion; and I am resolved to defend it against my adversary, Philippe de Valois.” On account of his not having more than an eighth part of the forces which the king of France had, his marshals fixed upon the most advantageous situation; and the army went and took possession of it. He then sent his scouts toward Abbeville, to learn if the king of France meant to take the field this Friday; but they returned, and said they saw no appearance of it; upon which, he dismissed his men to their quarters, with orders to be in readiness by times in the morning, and to assemble in the same place. The king of France remained all Friday in Abbeville, waiting for more troops. He sent his marshals, the lord of St. Venant, and lord Charles of Montmorency, out of Abbeville, to examine the country, and get some certain intelligence of the English. They returned, about vespers, with information that the English were encamped on the plain. That night the king of France entertained at supper, in Abbeville, all the princes and chief lords. There was much conversation relative to war; and the king entreated them, after supper, that they would always remain in friendship with each other; that they would be friends without jealousy, and courteous without pride. The king was still expecting the earl of Savoy, who ought to have been there with a thousand lances, as he had been well paid for them at Troyes in Champaign, three months in advance.
* St. Ricquier, — two leagues and a half from Abbeville.
† A town in Picardy, at the mouth of the Somme, opposite to St. Valery.
‡ Government of Montreuil.
§ Two leagues from St. Valery. I believe it is now called Rue only.
THE king of England, as I have mentioned before, encamped this Friday in the plain: for he found the country abounding in provisions; but, if they should have failed, he had plenty in the carriages which attended on him. The army set about furbishing and repairing their armour; and the king gave a supper that evening to the earls and barons of his army, where they made good cheer. On their taking leave, the king remained alone, with the lords of his bed-chamber: he retired into his oratory, and, falling on his knees before the altar, prayed to God, that, if he should combat his enemies on the morrow, he might come off with honour. About midnight he went to his bed; and, rising early the next day, he and the prince of Wales heard mass, and communicated. The greater part of his army did the same, confessed, and made proper preparations. After mass, the king ordered his men to arm themselves, and assemble on the ground he had before fixed on. He had enclosed a large park near a wood, on the rear of his army, in which he placed all his baggage-waggons and horses; and this park had but one entrance: his men at arms and archers remained on foot.
The king afterwards ordered, through his constable and his two marshals, that the army should be divided into three battalions. In the first, he placed the young prince of Wales, and with him the earls of Warwick and Oxford, sir Godfrey de Harcourt, the lord Reginald Cobham, lord Thomas Holland, lord Stafford, lord Mauley, the lord Delaware, sir John Chandos, lord Bartholomew Burgherst, lord Robert Neville, lord Thomas Clifford, the lord Bourchier, the lord Latimer, and many other knights and squires whom I cannot name. There might be, in this first division, about eight hundred men at arms, two thousand archers, and a thousand Welshmen. They advanced in regular order to their ground, each lord under his banner and pennon, and in the centre of his men. In the second battalion were the earl of Northampton, the earl of Arundel, the lords Roos, Willoughby, Basset, Saint Albans, sir Lewis Tufton, lord Multon, the lord Lascels, and many others; amounting, in the whole, to about eight hundred men at arms, and twelve hundred archers. The third battalion was commanded by the king, and was composed of about seven hundred men at arms, and two thousand* archers.
The king then mounted a small palfrey, having a white wand in his hand, and attended by his two marshals on each side of him: he rode a foot’s pace through all the ranks, encouraging and entreating the army, that they would guard his honour and defend his right. He spoke this so sweetly, and with such a cheerful countenance, that all who had been dispirited were directly comforted by seeing and hearing him. When he had thus visited all the battalions, it was near ten o’clock: he retired to his own division, and ordered them all to eat heartily, and drink a glass after. They ate and drank at their ease; and, having packed up pots, barrels, &c., in the carts, they returned to their battalions, according to the marshal’s orders, and seated themselves on the ground, placing their helmets and bows before them, that they might be the fresher when their enemies should arrive.
* D. Sauvage’s edition and lord Berners’ say twelve hundred archers. — ED.
THAT same Saturday, the king of France rose betimes, and heard mass in the monastery of St. Peter’s in Abbeville, where he was lodged: having ordered his army to do the same, he left that town after sun-rise. When he had marched about two leagues from Abbeville, and was approaching the enemy, he was advised to form his army in order of battle, and to let those on foot march forward, that they might not be trampled on by the horses. The king, upon this, sent off four knights, the lord Moyne of Bastleberg*, the lord of Noyers, the lord of Beaujeu, and the lord of Aubigny, who rode so near to the English that they could clearly distinguish their position. The English plainly perceived they were come to 164 reconnoitre them: however, they took no notice of it, but suffered them to return unmolested. When the king of France saw them coming back, he halted his army; and the knights, pushing through the crowds, came near the king, who said to them, “My lords, what news?” They looked at each other, without opening their mouths: for neither cose to spead first. At last, the king addressed himself to the lord Moyne, who was attached to the king of Bohemia, and had performed very many gallant deeds, so that he was esteemed one of the most valiant knights in Christendom. The lord Moyne said, “Sir, I will speak, since it pleased you to order me, but under the correction of my companions. We have advanced battalions, and are waiting for you. I would advise, for my part, (submitting, however, to better counsel,) that you halt your army here, and quarter them for the night; for before the rear shall come up, and the army be properly drawn out, it will be very late, your men will be tired and in disorder, whilst they will find your enemies fresh and properly arrayed. On the morrow, you may draw up your army more at your ease, and may reconnoitre at leisure on what part it will be most advantageous to begin the attack; for, be assured they will wait for you.” The king commanded that it should so be done: and the two marshals rode, one towards the front, and the other to the rear, crying out, “Halt banners, in the name of God and St. Denis.” Those that were in the front halted; but those behind said they would not halt, until they were as forward as the front. When the front perceived the rear pressing on, they pushed forward; and neither the king nor the marshals could stop them, but they marched on without any order until they came in sight of their enemies. As soon as the foremost rank saw them, they fell back at once, in great disorder, which alarmed those in the rear, who thought they had been fighting. There was then space and room enough for them to have passed forward, had they been willing so to do: some did so, but others remained shy. All the roads between Abbeville and Crecy were covered with common people, who, when they were come within three leagues of their enemies, drew their swords, bawling out, “Kill, kill;” and with them were many great lords that were eager to make show of their courage. There is no man, unless he had been present, that can imagine, or describe truly, the confusion of that day; especially the bad management and disorder of the French, whose troops were out of number. What I know, and shall relate in this book I have learnt chiefly from the English, who had well observed the confusion they were in, and from those attached to sir John of Hainault, who was always near the person of the king of France.
* The lord Moyne of Bastleburg in Bohemia. — Barnes.
THE English, who were drawn up in three divisions and seated on the ground, on seeing their enemies advance, rose undauntedly up, and fell into their ranks. That of the prince was the first to do so, whose archers were formed in the manner of a portcullis, or harrow, and the men at arms in the rear. The earls of Northampton and Arundel, who commanded the second division, had posted themselves in good order on his wing, to assist and succour the prince, if necessary.
You must know, that these kings, earls barons and lords of France, did not advance in any regular order, but one after the other, or any way most pleasing to themselves. As soon as the king of France came in sight of the English, his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals, “Order the Genoese forward, and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis.” There were about fifteen thousand Genoese cross-bowmen; but they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed, and with their cross-bows. They told the constable, they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The earl of Alençon, hearing this, said, “This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fall off when there is any need for them.” During this time a heavy rain fell, accompanied by thunder and a very terrible eclipse of the sun; and before this rain a great flight of crows hovered in the air over all those battalions, making a loud noise. Shortly afterwards it cleared up, and the sun shone very bright; but 165 the Frenchmen had it in their faces, and the English in their backs. When the Genoese were somewhat in order, and approached the English, they set up a loud shout*, in order to frighten them; but they remained quite still, and did not seem to attend to it. They then set up a second shout, and advanced a little forward; but the English never moved.
BATTLE OF CRECY. — From MS. Froissart from the 15th Century.
They hooted a third time, advancing with their cross-bows presented, and began to shoot. The English archers then advanced one step forward, and shot their arrows with such force 166 and quickness that it seem as if it snowed. When the Genoese felt these arrows, which pierced their arms, heads, and through their armour, some of them cut the strings of their cross-bows, others flung them on the ground, and all turned about and retreated quite discomfited. The French had a large body of men at arms on horseback, richly dressed, to support the Genoese. The king of France, seeing them thus fall back, cried out, “Kill me those scoundrels; for they stop up our road, without any reason.” You would then have seen the above-mentioned men at arms lay about them, killing all they could of these runaways.
The English continued shooting as vigorously and quickly as before; some of their arrows fell among the horsemen, who were sumptuously equipped, and, killing and wounding many, made them caper and fall among the Genoese, so that they were in such confusion they could never rally again. In the English army there were some Cornish and Welshmen on foot, who had armed themselves with large knives: these, advancing through the ranks of the men at arms and archers, who made way for them, came upon the French when they were in this danger, and, falling upon earls, barons, knights, and squires, slew many, at which the king of England was afterwards much exasperated. The valiant king of Bohemia was slain there. He was called Charles of Luxembourg; for he was the son of the gallant king and emperor Henry of Luxembourg: having heard the order of the battle, he inquired where his son, the lord Charles, was: his attendants answered that they did not know, but believed he was fighting. The king said to them: “Gentlemen, you are all my people, my friends and brethren at arms this day: therefore, as I am blind†, I request of you to lead me so far into the engagement that I may strike one stroke with my sword.” The knights replied, they would directly lead him forward; and in order that they might not lose him in the crowd, they fastened all the reins of their horse together, and put the king at their head, that he might gratify his wish, and advanced towards the enemy. The lord Charles of Bohemia, who already signed his name as king of Germany, and bore the arms, had come in good order to the engagement; but when he perceived that it was likely to turn out against the French, he departed, and I do not well know what road he took. The king, his father, had rode in among the enemy, and made good use of his sword; for he and his companions had fought most gallantly. They had advanced so far that they were all slain; and on the morrow they were found on the ground, with their horses all tied together.
The earl of Alençon advanced in regular order upon the English, to fight with them; as did the earl of Flanders, in another part. These two lords, with their detachments, coasting, as it were, the archers, came to the prince’s battalion, where they fought valiantly for a length of time. The king of France was eager to march to the place were he saw their banners displayed, but there was a hedge of archers before him. He had that day made a present of a handsome black horse to sir John of Hainault, who had mounted on it a knight of his, called sir John de Fusselles, that bore his banner: which horse ran off with him, and forced his way through the English army, and, when about to return, stumbled and fell into a ditch and severely wounded him: he would have been dead, if his page had not followed him round the battalions, and found him unable to rise: he had not, however, any other hindrance than from his horse; for the English did not quit the ranks that day to make prisoners. The page alighted, and raised him up; but he did not return the way he came, as would have found it difficult from the crowd. This battle, which was fought on the Saturday between la Broyes‡ and Crecy, was very murderous and cruel; and many gallant deeds of arms were performed that were never known. Towards evening, many knights and squires of the French had lost their masters: they wandered up and down the plain, attacking the English in small parties: they were soon destroyed; for the English had determined that day to give no quarter, or hear of ransom from any one.
Early in the day, some French, Germans, and Savoyards, had broken through the archers of the prince’s battalion, and had engaged with the men at arms; upon which the second battalion came to his aid, and it was time, for otherwise he would have been hard pressed. 167 The first division, seeing the danger they were in, sent a knight§ in great haste to the king of England, who was posted upon an eminence, near a windmill. On the knight’s arrival, he said, “Sir, the earl of Warwick, the lord Stafford, the lord Reginald Cobham, and the others who are about your son, are vigorously attacked by the French; and they entreat that you would come to their assistance with your battalion, for, if their numbers should increase, they fear he will have too much to do.” The king replied, “Is my son dead, unhorsed, or so badly wounded that he cannot support himself?” “Nothing of the sort, thank God,” rejoined the knight; “but he is in so hot an engagement that he has great need of your help.” The king answered, “Now, sir Thomas, return back to those that sent you, and tell them from me, not to send again for me this day, or expect that I shall come, let what will happen, as long as my son has life, and say, that I command them to let the boy win his spurs; for I am determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honour of this day shall be given to him, and to those into whose care I have intrusted him.” The knight returned to his lords, and related the king’s answer, which mightily encouraged them, and made them repent they had ever sent such a message.¶
It is a certain fact, that sir Godfrey de Harcourt, who was in the prince’s battalion, having been told by some of the English, that they had seen the banner of his brother engaged in the battle against him, was exceedingly anxious to save him; but he was too late, for he was left dead on the field, and so was the earl of Aumarle his nephew. On the other hand, the earls of Alençon and of Flanders were fighting lustily under their banners, and with their own people; but they could not resist the force of the English, and were there slain, as well as many other knights and squires that were attending on or accompanying them. The earl of Blois, nephew to the king of France, and the duke of Lorraine, his brother-in-law, with their troops, made a gallant defence; but they were surrounded by a troop of English and Welsh, and slain in spite of their prowess. The earl of St. Pol and the earl of Auxerre were also killed, as well as many others. Late after vespers, the king of France had not more about him than sixty men, every one included. Sir John of Hainault, who was of the number, had once remounted the king; for his horse had been killed under him by an arrow: he said to the king, “Sir, retreat whilst you have an opportunity, and do not expose yourself so simply: if you have lost this battle, another time you will be the conqueror.” After he had said this, he took the bridle of the king’s horse, and led him off by force; for he had before entreated of him to retire. The king rode on until he came to the castle of la Broyes, where he found the gates shut, for it was very dark. The king ordered the governor of it to be summoned: he came upon the battlements, and asked who it was that called at such an hour? The king answered, “Open, open, governor; it is the fortune of France.” The governor, hearing the king’s voice, immediately descended, opened the gate, and let down the bridge. The king and his company entered the castle; but he had only with him five barons, sir John of Hainault, the lord Charles of Montmorency, the lord of Beaujeu, the lord of Aubigny, and the lord of Montfort. The king would not bury himself in such a place as that, but, having taken some refreshments, set out again with his attendants about midnight, and rode on, under the direction of guides who were well 168 acquainted with the country, until, about day-break, he came to Amiens, , where he halted. This Saturday the English never quitted their ranks in pursuit of any one, but remained on the field, guarding their position, and defending themselves against all who attacked them. The battle was ended at the hour of vespers.
* Lord Berners’ account of the advance of the Genoese is somewhat different from this; he describes them as leaping forward with a fell cry, and as this is not mentioned in the printed editions, it seems probable that he followed a MS. varying from those examined by Mr. Johnes. The whole passage is so spirited and graphic that we give it entire, for the gratification of the reader. — ED.
“Whan the genowayes were assembled toguyder and beganne to aproche, they made a great leape and crye to abasshe thenglysshmen, but they stode styll and styredde nat for all that. Than the genowayes agayne the seconde tyme made another leape and a fell crye and stepped forwarde a lytell, and thenglysshmen remeued nat one fote; thirdly agayne they leapt and cryed, and went forthe tyll they came within shotte; than they shotte feersly with their crosbowes. Than thenglysshe archers stept forthe one pase and lette fly their arowes so hotly and so thycke that it semed snowe. When the genowayes felte the arowes persynge through heedes, armes, and brestes, many of them cast downe their crosbowes and dyde cutte their strynges and retourned dysconfited. Whan the frenche kynge sawe them flye away, he said, Slee these rascals, for they shall lette and trouble us without reason; than you shoulde haue sene the men of armes dasshe in among them and kylled a great nombre of them; and euer styll the englysshmen shot where as they sawe thyckest preace, the sharpe arowes ranne into the men of armes and into their horses, and many fell horse and men amonge the genowayes, and when they were downe they coude nat relyne agayne; the preace was so thycke that one ouerthrewe a nother. And also amonge the englysshemen there were certayne rascalles that went a fote with great knyues, and they went in among the men of armes and slew and murdredde many, as they lay on the grounde, both erles, barownes, knyghts, and squyers, whereof the kyng of Englande was after dyspleased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners.”
† His blindness was supposed to be caused by poison, which was given to him when engaged in the wars of Italy. — Bonamy. Mém. de l’Académie, vol. xxiii.
‡ A village in Picardy, election of Mondidier.
§ Sir Thomas Norwich. — MSS.
¶ The style of Lord Berners, in many instances, is so different from the mode of expression adopted by Mr. Johnes, as almost to make the parallel passage appear a distinct narrative, and in such cases it is interesting to compare the two translations. The following is Lord Berners’ version of this narration. — ED.
“In the mornyng the day of the batayle certayne frenchmen and almaygnes perforce opyned the archers of the princes batayle, and came and fought with the men at armes hande to hande. Than the second batayle of thenglyshe men came to socour the prince’s batayle, the whiche was tyme, for they had as than moche ado, and they with the prince sent a messangar to the kynge who was on a lytell wyndmyll hill. Than the knyght sayd to the kyng, Sir therle of Warwyke and therle of Cāfort (Stafford) sir Reynolde Cobham and other such as be about the prince your sonne are feersly fought with all, and are sore handled, wherefore they desire you that you and your batayle woll come and ayde them, for if the frenchemen encrease as they dout they woll your sonne and they shall have moche a do. Than the kynge sayde, is my sonne deed or hurt or on the yerthe felled? No, sir, quoth the knight, but he is hardely matched wherfore he hath nede of your ayde. Well sayde the kyng, retoune to hym and to them that sent you hyther, and say to them that they sende no more to me for any adventure that falleth as long as my sonne is alyve; and also say to them that they suffer hym this day to wynne his spurres, for if God be pleased, I woll this iourney be his and the honoure therof and to them that be aboute hym. Than the knyght retourned agayn to them and shewed the kynges wordes, the which greatly encouraged them, and repoyned in that they had sende to the kynge as they dyd.”
WHEN, on this Saturday night, the English heard no more hooting or shouting, nor any more crying out to particular lords or their banners, they looked upon the field as their own, and their enemies as beaten. They made great fires, and lighted torches because of the obscurity of the night. King Edward then came down from his post, who all that day had not put on his helmet, and, with his whole battalion, advanced to the prince of Wales, whom he embraced in his arms and kissed, and said, “Sweet son, God give you good perseverance: you are my son, for most loyally have you acquitted yourself this day: you are worthy to be a sovereign.” The prince bowed down very low, and humbled himself, giving all honour to the king his father. The English, during the night, made frequent thanksgivings to the Lord, for the happy issue of the day, and without rioting; for the king had forbidden all riot or noise. On the Sunday morning, there was so great a fog that one could scarcely see the distance of half an acre. The king ordered a detachment from the army, under the command of the two marshals, consisting of about five hundred lances and two thousand archers, to make an excursion, and see if there were any bodies of French collected together. The quota of troops, from Rouen and Beauvais, had, this Sunday morning, left Abbeville and St. Ricquier in Ponthieu, to join the French army, and were ignorant of the defeat of the preceding evening: they met this detachment, and, thinking they must be French, hastened to join them.
As soon as the English found who they were, they fell upon them; and there was a sharp engagement; but the French soon turned their backs, and fled in great disorder. There were slain in this flight in the open fields, under hedges and bushes, upward of seven thousand; and had it been clear weather, not one soul would have escaped.
A little time afterwards, this same party fell in with the archbishop of Rouen and the great prior of France, who were also ignorant of the discomfiture of the French; for they had been informed that the king was not to fight before Sunday. Here began a fresh battle: for these two lords were well attended by good men at arms: however they could not withstand the English, but were almost all slain, with the two chiefs who commanded them; very few escaping. In the course of the morning, the English found many Frenchmen who had lost their road on the Saturday, and had laid in the open fields, not knowing what was become of the king, or their own leaders. The English put to the sword all they met: and it has been assured to me for fact, that of foot soldiers, sent from the cities, towns, and municipalities, there were slain, this Sunday morning, four times as many as in the battle of the Saturday.
THIS detachment, which had been sent to look after the French, returned as the king was coming from mass, and related to him all that they had seen and met with. After he had been assured by them that there was not any appearance of the French collecting another army, he sent to have the numbers and condition of the dead examined.
He ordered on this business, lord Reginald Cobham, lord Stafford, and three heralds to examine their arms*, and two secretaries to write down all the names. They took much pains to examine all the dead, and were the whole day in the field of battle, not returning but just as the king was sitting down to supper. They made to him a very circumstantial 169 report of all they had observed, and said, they had found eighty banners, the bodies of eleven princes, twelve hundred knights, and about thirty thousand common men.
The English halted there that day, and on the Monday morning prepared to march off. The king ordered the bodies of the principal knights to be taken from the ground, and carried to the monastery of Montenay, which was hard by, there to be interred in consecrated ground. He had it proclaimed in the neighbourhood, that he should grant a truce for three days, in order that the dead might be buried. He then marched on, passing by Montreuil-sur-mer†.
His marshals made an excursion as far as Hesdin‡, and burnt Vaubain and Serain; but they could make nothing of the castle, as it was too strong and well guarded. They lay that Monday night upon the banks of the Canche, near Blangy. The next day they rode towards Boulogne, and burnt the towns of St. Josse and Neufchatel§: they did the same to Estaples, in the country of the Boulonois. The whole army passed through the forest of Hardelou, and the country of the Boulonois, and came to the large town of Wisant, where the king, prince, and all the English lodged; and, having refreshed themselves there one whole day, they came, on the Thursday, before the strong town of Calais.
* In those days, knights, or persons of note, wore over their armour a surcoat, having their arms blazoned upon it. This may be seen in any old paintings of that age.
† In Picardy, diocese of Amiens.
‡ In Artois, situated on the Canche, diocese of Arras.
§ Villages in Picardy.
A BURGUNDY knight, named sir John de Vienne, was governor of Calais; and with him were sir Arnold d’Andreghen, sir John de Surie, sir Bardo de Bellebourne, sir Geoffry de la Motte, sir Pepin de Were, and many other knights and squires. On the king’s arrival before Calais, he laid siege to it, and built, between it and the river and bridge, houses of wood: they were laid out in streets, and thatched with straw or broom; and in this town of the king’s, there was everything necessary for an army, besides a market-place, where there were markets, every Wednesday and Saturday, for butcher’s meat, and all other sorts of merchandise: cloth, bread, and everything else, which came from England, and Flanders, might be had there, as well as all comforts, for money. The English made frequent excursions to Guines* and its neighbourhood, and to the gates of St. Omer and Boulogne, from whence they brought great booties back to the army. The king made no attacks upon the town, as he knew it would be only lost labour; and he was sparing of his men and artillery; but said, he would remain there so long that he would starve the town into a surrender, unless the king of France should come there to raise the siege. When the governor of Calais saw the preparations of the king of England, he collected together all the poor inhabitants, who had not laid in any store of provisions, and, one Wednesday morning, sent upwards of seventeen hundred men, women, and children, out of the town. As they were passing through the English army, they asked them, why they had left the town? They replied, because they had nothing to eat. The king, upon this, allowed them to pass through in safety, ordered them a hearty dinner, and gave to each two sterlings, as charity and alms, for which many of them prayed earnestly for the king.
* In Picardy, two leagues and a half from Calais. It was in the possession of the English above two hundred years.
THE duke of Normandy, whom we left before Aiguillon, which he was besieging, and sir Walter Manny and the other knights who were within it, made, about the middle of August, a skirmish before the castle, which increased so much that almost his whole army was engaged in it. Near about this time, the lord Philip of Burgundy, earl of Artois and of Boulogne, and cousin-german to the duke, arrived. He was a very young knight: as soon as this skirmish commenced, he armed himself, and, mounting a handsome steed, stuck spurs into him, in order to hasten to the combat; but the horse, taking the bit between his teeth, 171 ran off with him, and, in crossing a ditch, fell into it upon the knight, who was so grievously bruised that he never recovered, and in a short time died. Soon afterwards, the king of France sent to his son, the duke of Normandy, to lay all other things aside, and raise the siege, in order to return directly into France, to defend his inheritance against the English. The duke, upon this, demanded advice from the earls and barons there present; for he had vowed he would never move from thence until he had the castle, and all within it, in his power: but they assured him, that since the king, his father, had so expressly ordered him to return, he might comply without any forfeiture of his honour. On the morrow, at break of day, therefore, the French decamped, and, trussing up tents and baggage with great haste, took the road for France.
The knights who were in Aiguillon, seeing this, armed themselves, and mounting their horses, sallied forth, the pennon of sir Walter Manny taking the lead, fell upon the French, who were scarcely all marched off, cut down and slew numbers, and took upwards of forty prisoners, whom they brought back to the castle. From them they learnt the successful campaign the king of England had made in France, and that at present he was laying siege to Calais. Before the king of France left Amiens, after the battle of Crecy, to go for Paris, he was so much enraged against sir Godémar du Fay, for not having done his duty in defending the ford of Blanchetaque, by which means the English had entered Ponthieu, that he had determined to hang him; to which many of his council also were inclined, for they were desirous that sir Godémar should make some amends, by his death, for the defeat the king had suffered at Crecy, and called him traitor; but sir John of Hainault excused him, and averted the king’s anger, by saying that it would have been difficult for him to have resisted the English army, when all the flower of the French nobility united could do nothing. Soon after this, the duke of Normandy arrived in France, where he was joyfully received by his parents, the king and queen.
ABOUT this time, sir Walter Manny had a conversation with a great knight from Normandy, whom he detained as his prisoner, and asked him, what sum he was willing to pay for his ransom? The knight replied, “Three thousand crowns.” Upon this, sir Walter said, “I know you are related to the duke of Normandy, much beloved by him, and one of his privy councillors. I will let you free upon your honour, if you will go to the duke, and obtain from him a passport for myself and twenty others, that we may ride through France, as far as Calais, paying courteously for whatever we may want; if therefore you obtain this from the king, I shall hold you free from your ransom, and also be much obliged to you; for I have a great desire to see the king of England, and will not remain in any town more than one night. If you cannot accomplish it, you will return in a month to this fortress, as to your prison.” The knight set out for Paris, and, having obtained from the duke the passport, returned with it to sir Walter at Aiguillon, who acquitted him of his ransom. Sir Walter, shortly afterward, set out with twenty horse, and took his road through Auvergne. He told everywhere who he was, and, at every place he stopped, showed his passport, and was directly set at liberty; but at Orleans he was arrested, although he showed his papers and from thence conducted to Paris, where he was confined in the prison of the Châtelet. When the duke of Normandy heard of it, he went immediately to the king, and remonstrated and demanded that he should, as soon as possible, be set at liberty; otherwise it would be said that he had betrayed him. The king answered, that he intended putting him to death, for he looked upon him as one of his greatest enemies. Upon which the duke said, that if he put his intentions in execution, he would never bear arms against the king of England, and would prevent all those dependent on him from doing the same. Very high words passed between them; and he left the king, declaring he would never serve in any of his armies, so long as Walter Manny should remain in prison.171
Things remained in this situation a long time. There was a knight from Hainault, named sir Mansart d’Aisnes, who was eager to serve sir Walter, but had great difficulty in getting access to the duke of Normandy: however, at last the king was advised to let sir Walter out of prison, and to pay him all his expenses. The king would have sir Walter to dine with him in the hôtel de Nesle at Paris; when he presented him with gifts and jewels to the amount of a thousand florins. Sir Walter accepted them, upon condition, that when he got to Calais he should inform the king, his lord, of it; and if it were agreeable to his pleasure, he would keep them, otherwise he would send them back. The king and duke said, that he had spoken like a loyal knight. Sir Walter then took leave of them, rode on by easy days’ journeys to Hainault, and remained, to refresh himself, three days in Valenciennes. He arrived at Calais, where he was well received by the king of England, who, upon being informed by sir Walter of the presents he had had from the king of France, said, “Sir Walter, you have hitherto most loyally served us, and we hope you will continue to do so; send back to king Philip his presents, for you have no right to keep them: we have enough, thank God, for you and for ourselves, and are perfectly well disposed to do you all the good in our power, for the services you have rendered us.” Sir Walter took out all the jewels, and, giving them to his cousin, the lord of Mansac, said, “Ride into France, to king Philip, and recommend me to him; and tell him, that I thank him many times for the fine jewels he presented me with, but that it is not agreeable to the will and pleasure of the king of England, my lord, that I retain them.” The knight did as he was commanded; but the king of France would not take back the jewels: he gave them to the lord of Mansac, who thanked the king for them, and had no inclination to refuse them.