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1IN times of yore it was seen that they who fashioned fair poems were in sooth esteemed as authors or in some sort recorders to show knowledge of the good, in order to draw remembrance of good from their hearts and to receive honour (?). But it is said, and truly, that there is naught that does not dry up, and that there is no tree that does not wither, excepting one only, the tree of life: and this tree, moreover, buds and flowers in this life in all parts. On this I will dwell no longer, for although such writers are held of no account, and a chatterer, a liar, a juggler, or a buffoon who, to raise a laugh, would grimace and make antics, is more esteemed than one who had skill to indite — for, without gainsaying, such a one is ill received at court nowadays — but albeit they who set forth the good are held in no estimation, yet ought men not to refrain from making and remembering fair poems — all such as have skill thereto; rather they should enter them in a book, that after their death true records may be kept; for to relate the good is verily alms and charity, for good was never lost without return at some time. Wherefore, incited by my desire, I wish to set my intent on making and recording fair poems of present and past times.

43 Now it is high time to begin my matter and address myself to the purpose which I am minded to fulfil. Now, may God let me attain to it, for I wish to set my intent on writing and recording the life of the most valiant prince of this world, throughout its compass, that ever was since the days of Claris, Julius Caesar, or Arthur, as you shall hear, if so be that you listen with good will: it is of a noble Prince of Aquitaine, who was son of the noble and valorous King Edwards and of Queen Philippa, who was the perfect root of all honour and nobleness, of wisdom, valour, and bounty.

63 This noble Prince of whom I speak, from the day of his birth cherished no thought but loyalty, nobleness, valour, and goodness, and was endued with prowess. Of such nobleness was the Prince that he wished all the days of his life to set his whole intent on maintaining justice and right, and therein was he nurtured from his childhood up; from his generous and noble disposition he drew the doctrine of bounty, for gaiety and nobleness were in his heart perfectly from the first beginnings of his life and youth. Now, is it full time that I address myself to carrying forward my matter, how he was so noble, bold, and valiant, so courteous and so sage, and how he loved so well the holy Church with his whole heart, and, above all, the most lofty Trinity; its festival and solemnity he began to celebrate from the first days of his youth and upheld it all his life zealously, without evil thought.

93 Now I have wished to record his youth, and not it is right that I should relate 136 to you that which all should hold in esteem — that is, chivalry: this was upheld in his person, in whom it held sway thirty years (?). Nobly he spent his life (?), for I would dare to say this, that since the time that God was born there was none more valiant than he, as you shall hear in my records if you will hearken and give ear to the matter to which I am coming.

107 You know well that the noble King his father, with very great array, of his high and noble puissance made war on the realm of France, saying that he ought to have the crown; wherefore, in maintaining the quarrel, he kept up right cruel war which lasted long. Now it befell that just at this time he crossed the sea to Normandy. With right noble following, barons, bannerets, and earls . . . he landed in the Cotentin. There was many a good and true knight, the noble Earl of Warwick, of high esteem, and the right noble Earl of Northampton, the Earl of Suffolk, and the Earl of Stafford, of the stout and bold heart, and the Earls of Salisbury and Oxford; and John de Beauchamp was there, the valiant Reginald de Cobham, Sir Bartholomew de Burghersh, bold in deed, the good Guy de Brian, the good Richard de la Vache, and the good Richard Talbot of great prowess. And Chandos and Audeley were there, who smote mightily with the sword, and the good Thomas de Holland, of great prowess, and a great number of others, whose names I cannot tell.

145 The English army arrived, and when he was about to disembark the King knighted the Prince, the Earl of March also, and the Earl of Salisbury, John of Montagu, his brother, and others, more than I could tell you. And know well, the Marshal Bertrand, who was of great valour and hardihood, was there, and thought right easily to keep them from landing. But the English power landed by force. There were achieved so many feats of arms that one might have compared Roland, and Oliver, and the very courteous Ogier the Dane. There might one behold men of prowess, valour, and hardihood. There was the fair and noble Prince, who made a right goodly beginning. All the Cotentin he overrode and wholly burnt and laid waste, La Hogue, Barfleur, Carentan, Saint-Lô, Bayeux, and up to Caen, where they conquered the bridge; and there they fought mightily; by force they took the town, and the Count of Tancarville and the Count of Eu were taken there. There the noble Prince gained renown, for he was eager to acquit himself well, and was but eighteen years old. And the Marshal rode away, nor stopped before Paris; he told the King the news that was in no wise pleasing to him. Such marvel he had that scarcely could he believe it, for he thought not that such folk would have had such hardihood. Then he assembled his power; throughout France there remained neither duke nor earl of account, nor baron, banneret, nor squire, that he did not cause to assemble.

195 He sent to the King of Bohemia, whom he heartily loved, who brought in his company his son, who was King of Germany, and the good John de Beaumont of Hainault, of high renown. Well did he think to defend his land against the English king, and very little did he esteem him, and right sorely did he threaten him. But afterwards, meseems, the King and the Prince together rode through Normandy, and laid waste all the country. Many a great affray did they have, and many a good 137 and valiant man did they take, and they came to the bride of Poissy; but the story says that the bridge there was broken, yet they did so much that with great logs they remade the bridge by force, whereat the French marvelled, and crossed one morning. They took their way through Caux, burning, laying waste, harrying; whereat the French were sore grieved and cried aloud: ‘Where is Philip our king?’

225 He was at Paris, to speak the truth, for at this time he made ready and collected his great power. And there he assembled his men and said that he would esteem himself but little if he did not take great vengeance, for he thought to have shut in the English, as I think, between the Seine and the Somme, and right there he thought lightly to give them battle. But the English to disport themselves put everything to fire and flame. There they made many a widowed lady and many a poor child orphan. They rode, day and night, until they came to the water of the Somme; on the other side was many a man, for there were the forces of the communes of Picardy and also Sir Godemar du Fay. Very wide was the river, swift and fierce with the tide, wherefore the English marvelled sore how they should cross over. But the Prince made choice of a hundred knights, of the best of his vanguard, and sent them to see how they might pass. And they who were worthy of praise rode abroad until they found a fellow who showed them the passage of the Somme, and all the hundred with one accord dashed into the water on their chargers, lance couched — very valiant knights were they — and the Prince came after, keeping ever close behind them. Sore strife was there at the passage of the Somme, and stoutly did the knights fight; and there on both sides they were at pains to shoot and cast; but the men of Picardy were speedily scattered and put to flight, together with Messire Godemar, and with the help of God all passed in due time.

277 When King Philip heard the tidings he was sore grieved and angry at heart, and said: ‘By St. Paul, the valiant, I mistrust me of treason;’ but nevertheless he hasted greatly. He passed through Abbeville, very rich was his array, for he was there with three other kings: the Kings of Majorca and Bohemia and the King of Germany; there were many dukes and earls, so that it was a goodly number. They rode on until they pitched their camp right near Cressy, in Ponthieu. There King Edward was camped, and the Prince, who that day led the vanguard. There they had made but brief stay, when on either side they were told that both were so close that each one could see the array and the order of the other. Then they raised a loud cry and began to order and draw up their divisions.

305 That day was there battle so horrible that never was there man so bold that would not be abashed thereby. Whoso saw coming the puissance and power of the King of France, great marvel would he have to relate! Inflamed with ill-will and anger they set forth to encounter together, bearing themselves in such true knightly fashion that never since Christ’s coming did one behold fiercer battle. There was seen many a banner embroidered in fine gold and silk, and there the English were all afoot like men ready and eager to fight. There was the good Prince who led the vanguard; so valiantly he bore himself that it was a marvel to behold. Hardly 138 did he suffer any one to attack, however bold or strong he might be. They fought that day until the English had the advantage. And there was slain the noble and courteous King of Bohemia, and the good Duke of Lorraine, who was a very noble leader, and the noble and renowned Count of Flanders and the good Count of Alençon, brother to King Philip, the Counts of Joii and Harcourt. What should I say in brief word? One king, one duke, and seven counts, and, as the account says, more than sixty bannerets were there stark dead, and three kings who left the field, and divers others fled, of whom I know not the number, nor is it right that I should enumerate them. But well I know that that day the brave and noble Prince led the vanguard of the army, as one should take note, for by him and his courage was the field gained and won.

357 King Philip betook himself to Paris, sore grieved; he mourned in his heart for his men whom he had lost. And the noble King of England, who was worthy to hold land, lodged that night in the field, for he gained very great honour. He had the dead sought out to know and recognize them, and found the King of Bohemia, who lay dead on the field. He had him put into a coffin and placed on a litter covered with rich cloth of gold. He sent him back and then moved from the place and rode towards Calais. That I may not lie, this right noble expedition, of which I here speak, was in the year of our Lord one thousand three hundred forty and six, and, as the record says, ‘’twas on the eve of St. Bartholomew that by the grace of God the King fought this battle wherein he acquired such honour.

385 Afterwards they came before Calais; there was many a fair deed of arms achieved; to it the noble King, who was there with his whole army, laid siege eighteen months without intermission. Here they abode until the town was starved out, and King Philip came to raise the siege, as I heard tell. But the army was lodged in such wise and the town so beset that King Philip durst not raise the siege, but turned back, and the noble King of England held there the field. Many an encounter and many an assault was there made by men of low and high degree until the town yielded, beseeching the King, for God’s sake, that he would take them to mercy. And thus was Calais conquered by force, by the power and enterprise of the noble King and of his son, the Prince.

411 Hereafter, with scant delay, they returned to England, the King and the Prince also, and all the bold knights. On account of a truce that was made they stayed in their country until it befell that by treaty, by treason and sin, Calais was about to be sold, given up by a Lord of Beaujeu (?) to Sir Geffroi de Charny, through a Lombard, who was called Aimery of Pavia; and there were all the barons of Picardy and France, at least the most part. But there was the noble King to save it; and the noble Prince his son, very bold and valiant, there fought so valiantly that in sooth he rescued the King, his father, by force. There the men of France and Picardy were brought to confusion that night, whereat divers English made great joy at their return, for there were all the best of the noble country of England, who to win great praise and renown acquitted themselves valiantly. There were taken, of a truth, the noblest lords of France, and deceived outright; nor ever was the King of England so hard bested in any hour as he was in that hour then, for many people 139 have recorded that the King would have been taken had it not been for the Prince his son; but his puissance, his noblesse, and his very perfect prowess rescued there the King, his father. And this matter ought in no wise to be forgotten; so it is very right that I tell it you.

457 They returned to England and made very merry. Their friends and all the ladies also made great joy. The Queen, who loved her lord with her whole heart, welcomed them. Then said the King to his wife: ‘Lady, now welcome your son, for I had been taken had it not been for his great valour, but by him was I succoured.’ ‘Sire,’ says she, ‘welcome be he and you also. Methinks I should say: “In a good hour was he born.” ’ There were the knights and barons right well received; there was seen dancing and junketing, feasting and revelling; and right pleasantly was time passed among them, and there was love and noblesse, gaiety and prowess. Thus they abode a long space, until it befell, just at that time, that Spanish ships were assembled at Sluys that boasted they would pass in defiance of the King, despite him and his array, wherefore the King, of his great valour, assembled his great power and made an expedition by sea that was of great renown. There were the Prince his son and many good and famous knights, all the earls, and all the knights of repute. There was fierce and sore battle: there God gave him fortune, for by him and his power and right lofty valiance the Spaniards were all discomfited and slain. And there was knighted his very valiant brother John, who afterwards was Duke of Lancaster — very great was his courage. There likewise did the noble barons acquit themselves valiantly; there was many a ship conquered, many a one taken, many a one sunk, and there was many a good man slain, as I hear in my record; and know that this encounter was before Winchelsea.

511 After this noble battle, that of a surety was right fell, they returned to land. They brought the goodly store of goods that they had gained and conquered, whereat every one rejoiced. Soon after, the Queen of England brought forth a son, the last she bore, and this son was called Thomas. Great joy and great feast were made, and great joustings cried then through the country. And at that time there came from Gascony the doughty and valiant Captal, who was right brave and courageous and greatly beloved of everybody. He was welcomed right nobly. The Prince, who rejoiced greatly at his coming, took fresh courage. One day he said to the King his father and to the Queen his mother: ‘Sire,’ quoth he, ‘for God’s sake, you know well that thus it is, that in Gascony the noble and valiant knights cherish you so greatly that they suffer great pain for your war and to gain you honour, and yet they have no leader of your blood. Therefore if you were so advised as to send one of your sons they would be the bolder.’ And every one said that he spoke truly. Then the King let summon his great parliament. All were of accord likewise to send the Prince into Gascony, because he was of such renown, and ordained forthwith that with him should go the noble Earl of Warwick, of high esteem, and the Earl of Salisbury, of great valiance, the gallant Earl of Suffolk, Ufford was his name, and the Earl of Oxford, the good Earl of Stafford, Sir Bartholomew de Burghersh, bold in deed, Sir John of Montagu, proud and impetuous, the Lord the Despenser, and Basset of high renown; and there was 140 also the Lord of Mohun, and likewise, meseems, the good Reginald Cobham, who had been at many an assault; there were also Chandos and Audeley: these two were of great renown and were appointed chief advisers.

577 When the matter was settled and the ordinance wholly performed, they sent to Plymouth to assemble all their ships, men-at-arms, and archers also, and their provisions: very rich was their array. After the term of two months he took leave of the King his father, of the Queen his mother and of all his brothers and sisters. Right sore grieved were they at heart when it came to his departing, for there you might see lady and damsel weep and make moan in complaints; the one wept for her husband, the other lamented for her lover.

594 Thus the Prince took leave, blithe and glad at heart. He took his way to Plymouth. He rode night and morning until he reached Plymouth and abode there until his great array was ready. And it befell right speedily afterward that he had all his vessels loaded with victuals and jewels, hauberks, helmets, lances, shields, bows, arrows, and yet more; he let ship all his horses and anon embarked, and all the noble knights. There might one see the flower of chivalry and of right noble bachelry, who were very eager and desirous to acquit themselves well. Then they set sail. They sailed over the sea until they arrived at Bordeaux, whereat the noble barons of the country made high revel. There you might see great and small come straight to the Prince, who courteously welcomed them. To him came incontinent the noble Prince d’Albret and the valiant and doughty Lord of Montferrant, Mussidan, Roson, Curton and Amenieu de Fossard, and the great Lord of Pommiers and many noble knights, and the rightful Lord of Lesparre. Thither came all the barons of Gascony, and right well did the Prince know how to entertain them. At Bordeaux he sojourned a short space until he had made his preparations and well rested his horses. Right speedily after, he was ready and took the field with more than six thousand fighting-men. He rode towards Toulouse; not a town remained that he did not utterly lay waste; he took Carcassonne and Béziers and Narbonne, and all the country was ravaged and harried by him, and divers towns and castles, whereat the enemies in Gascony made no great rejoicing. More than four and a half months he remained in the field this time and did much damage then.

657 Thereafter the Prince turned back towards Bordeaux and abode there until the whole winter was passed. He and his noble knights were there in great joy and solace. There was gaiety, noblesse, courtesy, goodness, and largesse; and he quartered his men, as I think, in his castles round about, and there they took up their abode. Warwick was at La Réole, Salisbury at Sainte-Foy, and Suffolk, as I think, at Saint-Émilion; at Libourne and all round his men were disposed. When all were thus lodged, the good Chandos and Audeley, with the noble Captal, went to camp in the open. There they remained a long time. Many a fair encounter they had, and many a time they fought to conquer them a lodging. Up to Cahors and towards Agen they undertook their expedition and took Port-Sainte-Marie. Thereafter they returned all up the river and went to take Périgueux, a city of great fame. There they camped a great part of the winter. 141 Right noble was their sojourn, for many an assault and many an attack they made against the castle, for there was naught but a little meadow between the castle and the town. There were the Count de L’Isle and the Count de Périgord.

703 In such wise did the Prince make stay in Gascony, and abode there the space of eight months or more. Very great was his valour. When it came towards summer then he assembled his forces, and rode again into Saintonge, Périgord and Quercy, and came as far as Romorantin. There he took the tower by assault, and the Lord Bouciquaut also, and the great Lord of Craon and a goodly number of others; more than two hundred were taken there, all men-at-arms of high renown, fifteen days before the battle of Poitiers. Thereafter he rode into Berry, and through Gascony also, and up to Tours in Tourayne. Then the tidings came to King John, whereat he made great lamentation, and said that he would lightly esteem himself if he did not take great vengeance.

729 Then he assembled his forces from all the realm of France. There remained neither duke nor earl, nor baron of account, that he did not have summoned, and, as I have heard tell, the muster was held at Chartres. A noble host was there gathered together, and according to the number in the list there were more than ten thousand. From Chartres they departed and rode right so towards Tours. Very noble was their array. The Prince heard the tidings that seemed to him good and fair. He took his way towards Poitiers, bringing with him much booty, for they had wrought much damage in France by their great valour. And know that the Saturday the Prince took the noble Count of Joigny, together with the Count of Auxerre; and the French fought valiantly at their encampment, but they were all taken and slain, as the record says, whereat the English made great joy throughout their army. And King John rode until he outstripped the Prince, and till one army beheld the other; and, by what I heard, they camped one in front of the other, and were lodged so close that they watered their horses at the same river.


Right there, however, came the Cardinal of Périgord, who brought with him many a clerk, and many a man of law also. Thereupon he spoke gently to the King of France, in all meekness: ‘Sire,’ quoth he, ‘for the love of God, a sound word is timely. May it please you to let me ride to the Prince to advise if you might be accorded, for, certes, this great battle will be without fail so horrible that it will be loss and pity and great pride and presumption that so many a fair creature needs must die a sure and grievous death, and yet there is no avoidance but die he must at the encountering, whereof for sure he who is in the wrong must needs render account before God at the day of doom, if the Scripture lie not.’ Then King John answered: ‘Cardinal, you are very wise. We are well pleased that you should go, but know and understand well, never in all our life will we make peace unless we get into our keeping the castles and all the land that he has wasted and ravaged, wrongfully and sinfully, since he came from England, and are also quit of the quarrel for which the war is renewed.’ ‘Sire,’ said the Cardinal, ‘I will do in such wise that you shall be safe and satisfied with regard to your right.’ Thereupon he departed thence.


He rode towards the Prince’s army; as soon as he came up to him he saluted him full sweetly, weeping for pity. ‘Sire,’ quoth he, ‘for God’s mercy now have 142 pity to-day on so many a noble person who this day might here perish in this great conflict. Act so that you may not be in the wrong. If you could be brought to accord, God and the Holy Trinity would be gracious unto you.

821 Sorrowfully the Prince said: ‘Truly, fair sweet father in God, we know well that what you say is true, it is so in Holy Writ. But we would maintain that our quarrel, in truth, is just, true, and veritable. You know well that it is no idle tale that my father, King Edward, was assuredly the most rightful heir to hold and possess France, rightly beloved of every one, at the time that King Philip of Valois was crowned king there; but natheless it is not my desire that it be said that so many a fair youth here perishes through my pride. Nor is it my intent to set myself against peace, if it could be made; rather will I further it with all my power: but know that, in very truth, I cannot bring this matter to conclusion without the King, my father, but respite I can grant to my men to treat more at length of peace. If they wish no accord this time, I am here, all ready, to abide the grace of God, for our quarrel is so just that I fear not to engage; but to avert the damage and sin of death I will agree to it, at your pleasure, if so be that my father assent.

857 The Cardinal, in tears, departed from him straightway and rode without delay towards King John of France, and told him of his reception. The King, to prolong the matter and to put off battle, assembled and brought together all the barons of both sides. Of speech there he made no stint. There came the Count of Tancarville, and, as the list says, the Archbishop of Sens was there, he of Taurus, of great discretion, Charny, Bouciquaut, and Clermont; all these went there for the council of the King of France.

874 On the other side there came gladly the Earl of Warwick, and, as the account says, the hoary-headed Earl of Suffolk was there, and Bartholomew de Burghersh, most privy to the Prince, and Audeley and Chandos, who at that time were of great repute. There they held their parliament, and each one spoke his mind. But their counsel I cannot relate (?), yet I know well, in very truth, as I hear in my record, that they could not be agreed, wherefore each one of them departed. Then said Geoffroi de Charny: ‘Lords,’ quoth he, ‘since so it is that this treaty pleases you no more, I make offer that we fight you, a hundred against a hundred, choosing each one from his own side; and know well, whichever hundred be discomfited, all the others, know for sure, shall quit this field and let the quarrel be. I think that it will be best so, and that God will be gracious to us if the battle be avoided in which so many valiant men will be slain.

905 Then the Earl of Warwick made answer to him thus: ‘Lords,’ quoth he, ‘what do you wish to gain by this against us? You know well that you have four times more of men-at-arms clad in armour than we, and that it is your land we are overriding. Behold the plain and the place, let each one who can do his best. No other option do I know, no other will I accord. May God support the right, where He sees it the stronger.’ Then they part without more discourse and return to their camp. Each one said on his side: ‘That Cardinal has betrayed us.’ Alas! but ’fore God it was not so, for weeping he departed and rode towards Poitiers — that was very needful to him, for, truly, he had neither thanks nor favour from either side. Then incontinent, on either side they set their troops in array.


931 First the King of France marshalled his men, and said: ‘Fair sirs, by my troth, you will so keep me back, I ween, that the Prince will escape me. That Cardinal had certainly betrayed me, who has made me abide her so long.’ Thereupon he called the good Marshal de Clermont and the Marshal d’Audrehem, that was ever at all times right greatly to be esteemed, for he was a very goodly knight, and the Duke of Athens, a very noble leader. ‘Lords,’ quoth the puissant King, ‘make ready your array, for you shall be in our vanguard, and this is your right, so God help me. In your company you shall have three thousand men, and you shall have two thousand with spears and sharp darts, and good two thousand crossbow-men, who will gladly aid you. See to it, if you will find the English, that you engage in battle with them and spare not to put them all to death.’

959 Then he called this time his son, the Duke of Normandy, and said to him, ‘Fair son, by my troth, you will be King of France after me, and therefore you shall surely have our second division; and you shall have the noble Duke of Bourbon to accompany you, and the Lord of Saint Venant, valiant and doughty. The good Tristan of Magnelais, a right noble squire, shall bear your banner, that is of rich and precious silk. Spare not, for Jesus Christ, the English, however great or small, that you put them not all to death. For I would not that one single man of them should ever be so venturesome as to recross to this side of the sea to hurt or make war on me.’ ‘Thus will I deal with them,’ said the Dauphin, ‘Father, by my faith. We shall, methinks, do so much that we shall earn your gratitude.’ Then you might see banners and pennons unfurled to the wind, whereon fine gold and azure shone, purple, gules, and ermine. Trumpets, tabours, horns and clarions — you might hear sounding through the camp; the Dauphin’s great battle made the earth ring. There was many a true knight, and, as the list says, they were four thousand in number. On one of the sides it took its place and covered a great space. Thus has the King ordered and arranged this division.

999 Then he summoned the powerful Duke of Orleans, his brother. ‘Brother,’ quoth he, ‘so God help me, you shall lead our rearguard with three thousand fighting-men, men-at-arms, valiant and doughty; and take good heed, for God’s sake, that you have no mercy on the English, but put them all to death: for they have done us much wrong and burnt and destroyed our land since they left England. Take heed, if you take the Prince, that you bring him to me.’ ‘Sire,’ quoth the rich duke, ‘Gladly, and more also.’

1015 Thus did the noble King John marshal his troops. He was in the fourth battle — right stout was his courage; with him there were three of his sons, that were of great renown: the Dukes of Anjou and Berry, and also Philip the bold, who was very young and small. There was Jacques de Bourbon, the Count of Eu, and the Count of Longueville; these two were sons of my Lord Robert d’Artois. And there was also with him at this time the noble Count of Sancerre, and the Count of Dammartin. Very goodly was his array, for he had three-and-twenty banners. Then he drew up on the other side full four hundred barded horses and four hundred knights upon them, picked men; Guichard d’Angle led them, who was a noble knight, and the good Lord of Aubigny, brave and bold, and Eustace de Ribemont 144 in whom the King set great trust; and he begged them, without slackening, to take heed to strike well and to spare no pains to break the battle, and each one would follow them close who should be ready to acquit himself well. And every one consented to carry out his will. There was such noble display that it was a great marvel. Never did one see the like nobleness and array as had they of France.

1061 Elsewhere the English host was encamped, for this day likewise did the noble Prince set his men in order, and gladly, to my thinking, would he have avoided the battle if he could have escaped from there, but well he saw that he must engage. Then incontinent he called the noble Earl of Warwick, and very perfectly sets forth to him: ‘Sir,’ says he, ‘needs must we fight, and since it so fortunes, I beg you, take command of the vanguard of this battle. The noble Lord of Pommiers, a right noble knight, shall be in your company, and you shall have, I pledge you, all his brothers with him, who are brave, valiant, and bold. You first shall make the passage, and shall guard our baggage. I will ride after you with all my knights; if so be that mischief befall you, you shall be succoured by us; and the Earl of Salisbury shall ride behind also, who shall lead our rearguard; and let every one be prepared, in case they attack you, to alight on foot at his speediest.’

1096 And each one says he will do so. Thus they hold converse that night. There was none too great ease, for all lay in ambush; there was many an affray; and when it came to early morning the noble and true-hearted Prince called Sir Eustace d’Aubréchicourt with the lion-hearted Lord of Curton, and bade them ride to spy out the French army, and each one set out to ride, mounted on his noble steed. But, as the French book says, these two rode so forward that they were taken and held prisoners, whereat the Prince was sore grieved, and the French made great joy throughout their army, and said in these very words: ‘All the others will come after.’

1121 Thereupon the clamour began, and a right great shout was raised, and the Prince broke up camp; he began to ride, for that day he thought not to have battle, I assure you, but weened ever, most certainly, to continue to avoid the battle. But on the other side the French cried out loudly to the King that the English were fleeing and that they would speedily lose them. Then the French begin to ride without longer tarrying. Quoth the Marshal d’Audrehem: ‘Certes, little do I esteem your trouble. Soon we shall have lost the English if we set not forth to attack them.’ Quoth the Marshal de Clermont: ‘Fair brother, you are in sore haste. Do not be so eager, for we shall surely come there betimes, for the English do not flee, but come at a round pace.’ Quoth d’Audreham: ‘Your delay will make us lose them at this time.’ Then said Clermont: ‘By Saint Denis, Marshal, you are very bold.’ And then he said to him angrily: ‘Indeed you will not be so bold as to acquit yourself to-day in such wise that you come far enough forward for the point of your lance to reach the rump of my horse.’ Thus inflamed with wrath they set out towards the English.

1157 Then began the shouting, and noise and clamour is raised, and the armies began to draw near. Then on both sides they began to shoot and to cast; not one of them made stint therewith. Sirs, by what I heard, the noble Earl of Salisbury 145 let the Prince’s rearguard, but that day he joined battle the very first, for full of ire and wrath the Marshals came upon him, on foot and on horseback, and attacked him by force. When the Earl saw this force he turned his division towards them, and cried out to it with a loud voice, ‘Forward, sirs, for God’s sake, since it pleases St. George thus that we were the hindmost and shall be the very first, let us so acquit ourselves that we gain honour thereby.’ Then might you see the barons approve themselves well in battle; great pastime would it have been to behold for one that had naught there at stake, but certes it was sore pity and a marvellous and grievous thing. There was many a creature who that day was brought to his end. There they fought staunchly. The archers that were on the two sides over towards the barded horses shot rapidly, thicker than rain falls. Then behold there came spurring a valiant and doughty knight, by name Guichard d’Angle; he never lagged behind, but smote with lance and sword in the middle of the press. And the Marshal de Clermont and Eustace de Ribemont, and the rightful lord of Aubigny, each one acquitted himself well also.

1205 The French book says, and the account likewise, that the Earl of Salisbury, he and his companions, who were fiercer than lions, discomfited the Marshals and all the barded horses, before the vanguard could be turned and brought across again, for it was over the river; but by the will of God and Saint Peter they joined all together and came, methinks, like people of noble bearing, right up a mountain until they brought their ranks up to the Dauphin’s division, which was at the passage of a hedge, and there, with steadfast will, they came to encounter together, plying the business of arms in such right knightly fashion that it was great marvel to behold. There they gained the passage of the hedge by force by their assault, whereat many a Frenchman is dismayed at heart, and they began to turn their backs and mount their horses. In many a place men cried with loud voice ‘Guyenne! St. George!’ What would you that I should tell you? The division of Normandy was discomfited that morning, and the Dauphin departed thence. There was many a one taken and slain, and the noble Prince fought right valiantly, and comforting his people said: ‘Lords, for God’s sake, take heed to strike; behold me here.’

Then the King of France approached, bringing up a great power, for to him drew every man who would fain acquit himself well.

1249 When the Prince saw him come he was some deal abashed, and looking around him saw that divers had left who had set out in pursuit, for truly their weened that by this time they had accomplished everything; but now the battle waxed sore, for the French King came up, bringing so great a power that it was a marvel to behold. When the Prince saw him, he looked up to Heaven, cried mercy of Jesus Christ, and spake thus: ‘Mighty Father, right so as I believe that Thou art King of Kings and didst willingly endure the death on the cross for all of us, to redeem us out of hell, Father, who art true God, true man, be pleased, by Thy most holy name, to guard me and my people from harm, even as Thou knowest, true God of heaven, that I have good right.’ Then the Prince straightway, when he had made his prayer, said: ‘Forward, forward, banner! Let each one take heed to his honour.’ Two knights, full of valour were stationed (?) at the two 146 sides; they were Chandos and Audeley. Then began the encounter, and Audeley right gently and humbly besought the Prince: ‘Sire,’ quoth he, ‘I have vowed to God and promised and sworn that wherever I should see the banner of the King of France in power there I would set on the first, so that I beseech you for God give me leave, for it is high time to join battle.’ Then the Prince said to him, ‘Truly, James, do your will.’ Then James departed from the Prince; he made no longer stay. He advanced before the others more than a spear’s length and hurled himself on his enemies like a valiant and bold man; but he could not long endure, for he had to come to the ground. There might you see in the encountering great lances couched and thrust on both sides; each one bore his part well. There you might behold Chandos smiting, who acquired great praise that day, Warwick and the Despenser, Montagu of esteem, him of Mohun and him of Basset, who fought right gallantly, Sir Reginald of Cobham, who caused the French sore loss, the good Bartholomew de Burghersh, very valiant in deed; elsewhere both Salisbury and Oxford fought mightily, and also, of a truth, the noble barons of Gascony, the Captal and the Lord of Pommiers, valiant and loyal, d’Albret, Lesparre and Langoiran (?), Fossard, and Couchon and Roson, Mussidan and he of Caupene, Montferrant, who above all strives with all his might to acquit himself well: these squires of high degree you might see smiting lustily and dealing such mighty strokes that it was a great marvel. There was a right sore battle, there might you see many a man slain. A long space this struggle endured until there was none so bold but was abashed at heart; but the Prince cried out aloud many a time: ‘Forward, sirs,’ quoth he, ‘for God! Let us win this field and place if we set store by life and honour’. So much did the valiant Prince, who was so sage and prudent, that the victory turned to him, and that his enemies fled and divers departed, wherefore King John made exclamation: he, himself, fought valiantly, and with him many good knights that thought assuredly to succour him. But his strength availed him little, for the Prince made such onslaught that he was taken by force, and Philip also, his son, my Lord Jacques de Bourbon, and a goodly number of others, the Count of Eu, the right courteous Count Charles of Artois, and Charles the good Count of Dammartin, loyal-hearted and true, and the good Count of Joigny; he of Tancarville also, the Count of Sarrebruck that never hid behind, and Ventadour, the good Count of Sancerre. All these were taken that day, and many high and honourable bannerets, whose names I cannot give; but, by what I heard tell, there were fully sixty taken, counts and bold bannerets, and more than a thousand others, whose title I cannot give. And, by what I heard, there died there, I warrant you: the right noble Duke of Bourbon, the brave Duke of Athens, and the Marshal de Clermont, Matas, Landas, and Ribemont, with Sir Renaut de Pons and others, whose names I will not name to you; but by what I have heard tell, and by what I hear set forth in the matter, there were full three thousand dead. May God receive the souls! for the bodies abode on the field. Then did one see the English joyous, and they shouted aloud in many a place: ‘Guyenne! St. George!’ There might you see the French scattered! For booty you might see many an archer, many a knight, many a squire, running in every direction, to take prisoners 147 on all sides. Thus were the French taken and slain that day, as I hear in my record.

1401 Sirs, that time of which I tell you was one thousand three hundred and fifty and six years after the birth of Christ, and also, as I think, it was nineteen days on in September, the month before October, that this great battle befell that was certainly right horrible. Pardon me if I relate it briefly, for I have passed over it lightly, | 1411 because I would narrate to you of this noble Prince, right valiant and bold, gallant in words and deeds. Then was King John brought before him; the Prince gave him right hearty greeting, and rendered thanks to Almighty God, and to do more honour to the King would fain help him to disarm. But King John said to him: ‘Fair, sweet cousin, for God’s pity, let be, it beseems me not, for, by the faith I owe you, you have to-day more honour than ever had any Prince in one day.’ Then said the Prince: ‘Sweet sir, it is God’s doing and not ours: and we are bound to give thanks to Him therefor, and beseech Him earnestly that He would grant us His glory and pardon us the victory.’ Thus did they both hold converse and speak kindly together. The English made right merry. The Prince lodged that night in a little pavilion among the dead on the plain, and his men all around him. That night he slept but little. In the morning he broke camp, set out towards Bordeaux, and all the noble knights, and they took with them their prisoner. So long did they ride and journey that they came to Bordeaux. Nobly were they received and welcomed by all the people; with crosses and processions, singing their orisons, all the members of the collegial churches of Bordeaux came to meet them, and the ladies and the damsels, old and young, and serving-maids. At Bordeaux was such joy made that it was marvellous to behold. There the Prince abode the whole winter. Then he dispatched his messenger to the noble King, his father, and to the Queen his mother, with the tidings how he had sped, in what wise God had wrought for him, and asked that they should send him over vessels wherein he might bring the King of France to England to do the more honour to the land.

1469 When the King heard the news, he rejoiced right heartily, praising God, clasping his hands, saying: ‘Fair, sovereign Father, be extolled for all these benefits.’ And the gentle Queen gave great praise to God and the pure virgin who had sent her such offspring as was her son the Prince, who was of so great valour. They dispatched the messenger speedily, and sent him vessels and barges, such that there was a goodly number. The vessels came to Bordeaux, whereat the Prince rejoiced greatly. No longer would he tarry. He had all his harness loaded; the barons took ship, and all the knights of repute; the King and all the prisoners and that which was needful they brought on board. They sailed until they came to England, and so soon as they landed they sent to the King tidings that were to him good and fair. To meet him he let summon all the barons to do him honour; he himself in person came there with more than a score of earls. Up to London they escorted the Prince, for the welcomed him (?). There were they gladly greeted by the ladies and so received that never was such rejoicing made as was at that time. There was the noble and puissant King, and the Queen his wife, and his mother, who held him dear; many a lady, many a damsel, right amorous, 148 sprightly, and fair. There was dancing, hunting, hawking, feasting, and jousting, as in the reign of Arthur, the space of four years or more.


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