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they had done him on the sea before. Then he commanded their heads to be stricken off. Then every man required the king for mercy, but he would hear no man in that behalf. Then Sir Walter of Manny said, “Ah, noble king, for God's sake refrain your courage; ye have the name of sovereign noblesse ; therefore, now do not a thing that should blemish your renown, nor to give a cause to some to speak of you villainously; every man will say it is a great cruelty to put to death such honest persons, who by their own wills put themselves into your grace to save their company.’ Then the king wryed away from him, and commanded to send for the hangman, and said, “They of Calais have caused many of my men to be slaine, wherefore these shall die in likewise.' Then the queen, being great with child, kneeled down, and sore weeping, said, “Ah, gentle sir, sith I passed the sea in great peril I have desired nothing of you; therefore, now I humbly require you, in the honour of the son of the Virgin Mary, and for the love of me, that ye will take mercy of these six burgesses.' The king beheld the queen, and stood still in a study a space, and then said, “Ah, dame, I would ye had been as now in some other place ; ye make such request to me that I cannot deny you, wherefore I give them to you to do your pleasure with them.” Then the queen caused them to be brought into her chamber, and made the halters to be taken from their necks, and caused them to be new clothed, and gave them their dinner at their leisure, and then
she gave each of them six nobles, and made them to be brought out of the host in safe-guard, and set at their liberty.”
110.-BATTLE OF POITIERS.
From the period of the siege of Calais to that of which we are about to speak, the chief events may be briefly passed over. A truce for six years was agreed to, which was but indifferently kept on either side. Whilst it lasted, offers were made on the part of Edward to renounce all pretensions to the throne of France, if King John would yield the absolute sovereignty of Guienne, Calais, and the other territories which had been held by former English monarchs as fiefs. John consented, but his people were most indignant, and would not ratify the arrangement. So in 1355 the Black Prince set out on an expedition from Bordeaux with sixty thousand men, only a small part of whom were his countrymen. This cruel and ferocious march offers a strange contrast to the gentleness and delicacy which have stamped their impress upon occasional incidents in the career of the Prince, and in none more so than in one of those connected with the field of Poitiers, of which we shall have to speak. But such were the inconsistencies of chivalry, even in its highest stage of development. The Prince's route lay towards the foot of the Pyrenees, thence northward to Toulouse, where he once more changed his direction in order to seize the rich cities of Carcassonne and Narbonne, whence he returned to Bordeaux. And through all that fair country, a stranger might have followed his track by the blackened ruins of the towns and villages burnt, and the dismal outcries of their unhappy inhabitants. “When they entered into a town, and found it well replenished of all things, they tarried there a two or three days to refresh them. When they departed, they would destroy all the residue, strike out the heads of the vessels of wine, and burn wheat, barley, and oats, and all other things, to the intent that their enemies should have no aid thereof.” Whilst the French, maddened by their disgraces and sufferings, were making the most strenuous efforts to collect an overwhelming force to crush the invader, the Black Prince in the following year commenced a similar expedition, though with a force not exceeding twelve or fourteen thousand men. It was in the full tide of success of this march, that he suddenly found himself encompassed on all sides. So universal a feeling of detestation had penetrated the hearts and minds of the French people, that not a single individual could be found to give him intelligence of the position or number of King John's forces, and but for the wonderful steadiness and courage that have so often, in a military sense, redeemed our military errors, those plundering and ravaging expeditions might have worked a fatal retribution. It was late in the night of Saturday, the 16th of September, that a part of the English, who had been sent forward in advance of the army, “saw the great battle of the king: they saw all the field covered with men-of-arms.” After a little skirmish, “which these English could not forbear,” they “returned again to the Prince, and showed him all that they saw and knew ; and said that the French host was a great number of people. ‘Well, said the Prince, ‘in the name of God let us now study how we shall fight with them at our advantage.' That night the Englishmen lodged in a strong place among hedges, vines, and bushes; and their host was well watched.” On the French side, the king and his four sons, having been houseled, that is to say, having received the communion, drew forth his army into the field. “Then trumpets blew up through the host, and every man mounted on horseback, and went into the field, where they saw the king's banner wave with the wind. There might have been seen great nobles of fair harness [armour], and rich armoury of banners and pennons; for there was all the flower of France; there was none durst abide at home, without he would be shamed for ever.” Three knights having been sent to learn the array and power of the English, said on their return, “Sir, we have seen the Englishmen; by estimation they be two thousand men-of-arms, and four thousand archers, and a fifteen hundred of other: howbeit, they be in a strong place; and, as far as we can imagine, they are in one battle : howbeit, they be wisely ordered, and along the way they have fortified strongly the hedges and bushes: one part of their archers are along by the hedges, so that none can go nor ride that way, but must pass by them ; and that way must ye go, an ye purpose to fight with them. In this hedge there is but one entry and one issue by likelihood that four horsemen may ride a-front. At the end of this hedge whereas no man can go nor ride, there be men-of-arms afoot, and archers afore them, in manner of a herse,” so that they will not lightly be discomfited.” Such was the English position: as to the order of attack which the French ultimately determined upon, it may be best seen in development. On the Sunday morning a new personage came upon the scene, the Cardinal of Perigord, who had been sent by the pope to endeavour to make peace between the King of France and his enemies. And most earnest was the Cardinal in the performance of his duty. First, in great haste, he came to king John, and knelt before him, holding up his hands, saying, “Sir, ye have here all the flower of your realm against a handful of Englishmen, as regards your company; and, Sir, if ye may have them accorded to you without battle, it shall be more profitable and honourable to have them by that manner, rather than to adventure so noble chivalry as ye have here present. Sir, I require you, in the name of God and humility, that I may ride to the Prince, and show him what danger ye have him in.' The king said, ‘It pleaseth me well; but return again shortly.' The Cardinal departed, and diligently he rode to the Prince, who was among his men afoot. Then the Cardinal alighted, and came to the Prince, who received him courteously. Then the Cardinal, after his salutation made, said, “Certainly, fair son, if you and your council advise justly the puissance of the French King, ye will suffer me to treat to make
a peace between you, an I may.' The Prince, who was young and lusty, said, ‘Sir, the honour of me and my people saved, I would gladly fall to any reasonable way.’” The Cardinal now “rode again to the king, and said, ‘Sir, ye need not to make any great haste to fight with your enemies, for they cannot flee from you though they would, they be in such a ground: wherefore, Sir, I require you forbear for this day, till to-morrow the sun rising.” The king was loath to agree thereto, for some of his council would not consent to it: but, finally, the Cardinal showed such reasons, that the king accorded that respite. And in the same place there was put up a pavilion of red silk, fresh and rich, and leave gave for that day every man to draw to his lodgings, except the Constable's and Marshal's battles.” All efforts at reconciliation, however, were vain, although “that Sunday, all the day, the Cardinal travelled in riding from one host to the other, gladly to agree them.” Many offers were made on both sides. In the main, the French king demanded that four of the principal Englishmen should be placed at his absolute disposal, and the Prince and all others to yield themselves as prisoners. The Prince offered to render all the towns and castles he had won in the present expedition, as well as the prisoners taken, and to swear not to bear arms against the French for seven years. At last King John made his final offer, that the Prince and a hundred of his knights only should yield themselves prisoners, which was absolutely rejected; and the Cardinal in despair returned to Poitiers, in the neighbourhood of which the battle was fought. All this while our countrymen were making admirable use of the time, strengthening the hedges, and widening and deepening the dykes. At sunrise on Monday morning the indefatigable Cardinal was once more seen passing to and fro between the hosts, thinking, says Froissart, “by his preaching to pacify the parties.” Short and abrupt was the answer he received on each side. “Return whither ye will,” said the Frenchman impatiently: “bring hither no more words of treaty or peace; and if ye love yourself, depart shortly.” Hastening then to the Prince, he said, evidently with deep emotion, “Sir, do what you can—there is no remedy but to abide the battle, for I can find none accord in the French king.” The Prince simply and cheerfully answered, “The same is our intent and all our people: God help the right !” As the Cardinal disappeared, the Prince turned to his men, and thus addressed them:-“Now, Sirs, though we be but a small company, as in regard to the puissance of our enemies, let us not be abashed therefore ; for the victory lieth not in the multitude of people, but whereas God will send it. If it fortune that the journey be ours, we shall be the most honoured people of all the world; and if we die in our right quarrel, I have the king, my father, and brethren, and also ye have good friends and kinsmen; these shall revenge us. Therefore, Sirs, for God's sake, I require you do your devoirs this day; for if God be pleased, and Saint George, this day ye shall see me a good knight.” And, continues Froissart, “these words and such other that the Prince spake, comforted all his eople.” P The battle began on all sides as the battalions of the Marshal of France approached, evidently in order to break the array of the archers. “They entered on horseback into the way where the great hedges were on both sides set full of archers. As soon as the men-of-arms entered, the archers began to shoot on both sides, and did slay and hurt horses and knights; so that the horses, when they felt the sharp arrows, they would in no wise go forward, but drew back and flung, and took on so fiercely, that many of them fell on their masters, so that for the press they could not rise again, inasmuch that the Marshal's battle could never come at the Prince. Certain knights and squires, that were well horsed, passed through the archers, and thought to approach to the Prince, but they could not * * * * So within a short space the Marshal's battles were discomfited, for they fell one upon another, and could not go forth ; and the Frenchmen that were behind, and could not get forward, recoiled back and came on the battle of the Duke of Normandy, the which was great and thick, and were afoot. But anon, they began to open behind ; for when they knew that the Marshal's battle was discomfited, they took their horses and departed, he that might best; also they saw a rout of Englishmen coming down a little mountain a-horseback, and many archers with them, who broke in on the side of the duke's battle. “True to say, the archers did their company that day great advantage, for they shot so thick, that the Frenchmen wist not on what side to take heed ; and, little and little, the Englishmen won ground on them ; and when the men-of-arms of England saw that the Marshal's battle was discomfited, and the Duke's battle began to disorder and open, they leaped then on their horses, the which they had ready by them. Then they assembled together, and cried, ‘St. George for Guienne!’ and the Lord Chandos said to the Prince, ‘Sir, take your horse and ride, for then this journey is yours. God is this day in your hands—get us to the French king's battle, for there lieth all the sore of the matter. I think verily by his valiantness he will not fly; I trust we shall have him, by the grace of God and St. George, so he be well fought withal; and, Sir, I heard you say that this day I shall see you a good knight.' The prince said, ‘Let us go forth ; ye shall not see me this day return back:” and said, “Advance, banner, in the name of God and St. George ' The knight that bore it did his commandment; there was then a sore battle and perilous, and many a man overthrown, and he that was once down could not be relieved again without great succour and aid. As the prince rode and entered in among his enemies, he saw on his right hand, in a little bush, lying dead, the Lord Robert of Duras, and his banner by him. Then the prince said to two of his squires, and to three archers, ‘Sirs, take the body of this knight on a targe and bear him to Poitiers, and present him from me to the Cardinal of Perigord, and say how I salute him by that token;' and this was done.’ + + + + + “The Prince was informed that the Cardinal's men were on the field against him, the which was not pertaining to the right order of arms, for men of the church, that cometh and goeth for treaty of peace, ought not by reason to bear harness, nor to fight for neither of the parties.” In this battle the king of France displayed great personal courage. His youngest son Philip, a boy of sixteen, fought by his side. The king would have been slain but for the exertions of a French knight, in the English service. He called to the king, “Sir, yield you.” The king beheld the knight, and said, “To whom shall I yield me? Where is my cousin the Prince of Wales —if I might see him I would speak with him.” Denis answered and said, ‘Sir, he is not here; but yield you to me, and I shall bring you to him.” “Who be you r quoth the king. ‘Sir, I am Denis of Morbecque, a knight of Artois; but I serve the king of England because I am banished the realm of France, and I have forfeited all I had there.” Then the king gave him his right gauntlet, saying, “I yield me to you.” The whole scene following is such an admirable piece of dramatic and picturesque composition, that we cannot venture to abridge or mutilate it. At this time “there was a great press about the king, for every man enforced him to say, ‘I have taken him,' so that the king could not go forward with his young son the lord Philip with him, because of the press. The Prince of Wales, who was courageous and cruel as a lion, took that day great pleasure to fight and to chase his enemies; the lord John Chandos, who was with him of all that day, never left him, nor never took heed of taking any prisoner. Then, at the end of the battle, he said to the prince, ‘Sir, it were good that you rested here, and set your banner a-high in this bush, that your people may draw hither, for they be sore spread abroad, nor I can see no more banners nor pennons of the French party; wherefore, sir, rest and refresh you, for ye be sore chafed.” Then the prince's banner was set up a-high on a bush, and trumpets and clarions began to sound. Then the prince did off his bascinet, and the knights for his body and they of his chamber were ready about him, and a red pavilion pight up ; and then drink was brought forth to the prince, and for such lords as were about him, the which still increased as they came from the chase. There they tarried and their prisoners with them. And when the two marshals were come to the prince, he demanded of them if they knew any tidings of the French king : they answered and said, ‘Sir, we hear none of certainty, but we think verily he is either dead or taken, for he is not gone out of the battle.” Then the prince said to the earl of Warwick and Sir Reginald Cobham, “Sirs, I require you to go forth, and see what ye can know, that at your return ye may show me the truth.” These two lords took their horses, and departed from the prince, and rode up a little hill to look about them : then they perceived a flock of men-at-arms coming together right wearily; there was the French king afoot in great peril, for Englishmen and Gascons were his masters; they had taken him from Sir Denis of Morbecque perforce, and such as were most of force said, ‘I have taken him ; – Nay, quoth another, “I have taken him; so they strave which should have him. Then the French king, to eschew that peril, said, ‘Sirs, strive not ; lead me courteously and my son to my cousin the prince, and strive not for my taking, for I am so great a lord (as to be able) to make you all rich. The king's words somewhat appeased them; howbeit, ever as they went they made riot, and brawled for the taking of the king. When the two aforesaid lords saw and heard that noise and strife among them, they came to : them and said, ‘Sirs, what is the matter that ye strive for 7 “Sirs,’ said one of them, ‘it is for the French king, who is here taken prisoner, and there be more than ten knights and squires that challengeth the taking of him and of his son.’ Then the two lords entered into the press, and caused every man to draw back, and commanded them in the prince's name, on pain of their heads, to make no more noise, nor to approach the king no nearer, without they were commanded. Then every man gave room to the lords, and they alighted and did their reverence to the king, and so brought him and his son in peace and rest to the Prince of Wales.” The battle began in the morning and ended at noon, and in that short space of time there was slain “all the flower of France ; and there was taken, with the king and the lord Philip his son, a seventeen earls, besides barons, knights, and squires.” Indeed, “when every man was come from the chase, they had twice as many prisoners as they were in number in all; then it was counselled among them because of the great charge and doubt to keep so many, that they should put many of them to ransom incontinent (immediately) in the field, and so they did; and the prisoners found the English and Gascons right courteous. There were many that day put to ransom and let go, all only on their promise of faith and truth to return again, between that and Christmas, to Bordeaux with their ransoms. Then that night they lay in the field, beside whereas the battle had been : some unarmed them, but not all; and unarmed all their prisoners, and every man made good cheer to his prisoner; for that day whosoever took any prisoner he was clear his, and might quit or ransom him at his pleasure. All such as were there with the prince were all made rich with honours and goods, as well by ransoming of prisoners as by winning of gold, silver, plate, jewels, that was there found.” Several interesting incidents marked the battle, and these Froissart has recorded with all his usual delightful simplicity and freshness. Among the noblemen who