Chronicle and Romance (The Harvard Classics Series)
by Jean Froissart, Thomas Malory, Raphael Holinshed
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse











The Campaign of Crecy The Battle of Poitiers Wat Tyler's Rebellion The Battle of Otterburn




I. Of Degrees of People II. Of Cities and Towns III. Of Gardens and Orchards IV. Of Fairs and Markets V. Of the Church of England VI. Of Food and Diet VII. Of Apparel and Attire VIII. Of Building and Furniture IX. Of Provision for the Poor X. Of Air, Soil, and Commodities XI. Of Minerals and Metals XII. Of Cattle Kept for Profit XIII. Of Wild and Tame Fowls XIV. Of Savage Beasts and Vermin XV. Of Our English Dogs XVI. Of the Navy of England XVII. Of Kinds of Punishment XVIII. Of Universities






Jean Froissart, _the most representative of the chroniclers of the later Middle Ages, was born at Valenciennes in 1337. The Chronicle which, more than his poetry, has kept his fame alive, was undertaken when he was only twenty; the first book was written in its earliest form by 1369; and he kept revising and enlarging the work to the end of his life. In 1361 he went to England, entered the Church, and attached himself to Queen Philippa of Hainault, the wife of Edward III, who made him her secretary and clerk of her chapel. Much of his life was spent in travel. He went to France with the Black Prince, and to Italy with the Duke of Clarence. He saw fighting on the Scottish border, visited Holland, Savoy, and Provence, returning at intervals to Paris and London. He was Vicar of Estinnes-au-Mont, Canon of Chimay, and chaplain to the Comte de Blois; but the Church to him was rather a source of revenue than a religious calling. He finally settled down in his native town, where he died about 1410.

Froissart's wandering life points to one of the most prominent of his characteristics as a historian. Uncritical and often inconsistent as he is, his mistakes are not due to partisanship, for he is extraordinarily cosmopolitan. The Germans he dislikes as unchivalrous; but though his life lay in the period of the Hundred Years' War between England and France, and though he describes many of the events of that war, he is as friendly to England as to France.

By birth Froissart belonged to the bourgeoisie, but his tastes and associations made him an aristocrat. Glimpses of the sufferings which the lower classes underwent in the wars of his time appear in his pages, but they are given incidentally and without sympathy. His interests are all in the somewhat degenerate chivalry of his age, in the splendor of courts, the pomp and circumstance of war, in tourneys, and in pageantry. Full of the love of adventure, he would travel across half of Europe to see a gallant feat of arms, a coronation, a royal marriage. Strength and courage and loyalty were the virtues he loved; cowardice and petty greed he hated. Cruelty and injustice could not dim for him the brilliance of the careers of those brigand lords who were his friends and patrons.

The material for the earlier part of his Chronicles he took largely from his predecessor and model, Jean Lebel; the later books are filled with narratives of what he saw with his own eyes, or gathered from the lips of men who had themselves been part of what they told. This fact, along with his mastery of a style which is always vivacious if sometimes diffuse, accounts for the vividness and picturesqueness of his work. The pageant of medieval life in court and camp dazzled and delighted him, and it is as a pageant that we see the Middle Ages in his book.

Froissart holds a distinguished place among the poets as well as the historians of his century. He wrote chiefly in the allegorical style then in vogue; and his poems, though cast in a mold no longer in fashion, are fresh and full of color, and were found worthy of imitation by Geoffrey Chaucer.

But it is as the supreme chronicler of the later age of chivalry that he lives. "God has been gracious enough" he writes, "to permit me to visit the courts and palaces of kings, ... and all the nobles, kings, dukes, counts, barons, and knights, belonging to all nations, have been kind to me, have listened to me, willingly received me, and proved very useful to me.... Wherever I went I enquired of old knights and squires who had shared in deeds of arms, and could speak with authority concerning them, and also spoke with heralds in order to verify and corroborate all that was told me. In this way I gathered noble facts for my history, and as long as I live, I shall, by the grace of God, continue to do this, for the more I labour at this the more pleasure I have, and I trust that the gentle knight who loves arms will be nourished on such noble fare, and accomplish still more."_



The king of England, who had heard how his men were sore constrained in the castle of Aiguillon, then he thought to go over the sea into Gascoyne with a great army. There he made his provision and sent for men all about his realm and in other places, where he thought to speed for his money. In the same season the lord Godfrey of Harcourt came into England, who was banished out of France: he was well received with the king and retained to be about him, and had fair lands assigned him in England to maintain his degree. Then the king caused a great navy of ships to be ready in the haven of Hampton, and caused all manner of men of war to draw thither. About the feast of Saint John Baptist the year of our Lord God MCCCXLVI., the king departed from the queen and left her in the guiding of the earl of Kent his cousin; and he stablished the lord Percy and the lord Nevill to be wardens of his realm with (the archbishop of Canterbury,) the archbishop of York, the bishop of Lincoln and the bishop of Durham; for he never voided his realm but that he left ever enough at home to keep and defend the realm, if need were. Then the king rode to Hampton and there tarried for wind: then he entered into his ship and the prince of Wales with him, and the lord Godfrey of Harcourt, and all other lords, earls, barons and knights, with all their companies. They were in number a four thousand men of arms and ten thousand archers, beside Irishmen and Welshmen that followed the host afoot.

Now I shall name you certain of the lords that went over with king Edward in that journey. First, Edward his eldest son, prince of Wales, who as then was of the age of thirteen years or thereabout,[1] the earls of Hereford, Northampton, Arundel, Cornwall, Warwick, Huntingdon, Suffolk, and Oxford; and of barons the lord Mortimer, who was after earl of March, the lords John, Louis and Roger of Beauchamp, and the lord Raynold Cobham; of lords the lord of Mowbray, Ros, Lucy, Felton, Bradestan, Multon, Delaware, Manne,[2] Basset, Berkeley, and Willoughby, with divers other lords; and of bachelors there was John Chandos, Fitz-Warin, Peter and James Audley, Roger of Wetenhale, Bartholomew of Burghersh, and Richard of Pembridge, with divers other that I cannot name. Few there were of strangers: there was the earl Hainault,[3] sir Wulfart of Ghistelles, and five or six other knights of Almaine, and many other that I cannot name.

[1] He was in fact sixteen; born 15th June 1330.

[2] Probably 'Mohun'.

[3] The usual confusion between 'comte' and 'comte.' It means, 'of the county of Hainault there was sir Wulfart of Ghistelles,' etc.

Thus they sailed forth that day in the name of God. They were well onward on their way toward Gascoyne, but on the third day there rose a contrary wind and drave them on the marches of Cornwall, and there they lay at anchor six days. In that space the king had other counsel by the means of sir Godfrey Harcourt: he counselled the king not to go into Gascoyne, but rather to set aland in Normandy, and said to the king: 'Sir, the country of Normandy is one of the plenteous countries of the world: sir, on jeopardy of my head, if ye will land there, there is none that shall resist you; the people of Normandy have not been used to the war, and all the knights and squires of the country are now at the siege before Aiguillon with the duke. And, sir, there ye shall find great towns that be not walled, whereby your men shall have such winning, that they shall be the better thereby twenty year after; and, sir, ye may follow with your army till ye come to Caen in Normandy: sir, I require you to believe me in this voyage,'

The king, who was as then but in the flower of his youth, desiring nothing so much as to have deeds of arms, inclined greatly to the saying of the lord Harcourt, whom he called cousin. Then he commanded the mariners to set their course to Normandy, and he took into his ship the token of the admiral the earl of Warwick, and said now he would be admiral for that viage, and so sailed on before as governour of that navy, and they had wind at will. Then the king arrived in the isle of Cotentin, at a port called Hogue Saint-Vaast.[4]

[4] Saint-Vaast-de la Hogue.

Tidings anon spread abroad how the Englishmen were aland: the towns of Cotentin sent word thereof to Paris to king Philip. He had well heard before how the king of England was on the sea with a great army, but he wist not what way he would draw, other into Normandy, Bretayne or Gascoyne. As soon as he knew that the king of England was aland in Normandy, he sent his constable the earl of Guines, and the earl of Tancarville, who were but newly come to him from his son from the siege at Alguillon, to the town of Caen, commanding them to keep that town against the Englishmen. They said they would do their best: they departed from Paris with a good number of men of war, and daily there came more to them by the way, and so came to the town of Caen, where they were received with great joy of men of the town and of the country thereabout, that were drawn thither for surety. These lords took heed for the provision of the town, the which as then was not walled. The king thus was arrived at the port Hogue Saint-Vaast near to Saint-Saviour the Viscount[5] the right heritage to the lord Godfrey of Harcourt, who as then was there with the king of England.

[5] Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.


When the king of England arrived in the Hogue Saint-Vaast, the king issued out of his ship, and the first foot that he set on the ground, he fell so rudely, that the blood brast out of his nose. The knights that were about him took him up and said: 'Sir, for God's sake enter again into your ship, and come not aland this day, for this is but an evil sign for us.' Then the king answered quickly and said: 'Wherefore? This is a good token for me, for the land desireth to have me.' Of the which answer all his men were right joyful. So that day and night the king lodged on the sands, and in the meantime discharged the ships of their horses and other baggages: there the king made two marshals of his host, the one the lord Godfrey of Harcourt and the other the earl of Warwick, and the earl of Arundel constable. And he ordained that the earl of Huntingdon should keep the fleet of ships with a hundred men of arms and four hundred archers: and also he ordained three battles, one to go on his right hand, closing to the sea-side, and the other on his left hand, and the king himself in the midst, and every night to lodge all in one field.

Thus they set forth as they were ordained, and they that went by the sea took all the ships that they found in their ways: and so long they went forth, what by sea and what by land, that they came to a good port and to a good town called Barfleur, the which incontinent was won, for they within gave up for fear of death. Howbeit, for all that, the town was robbed, and much gold and silver there found, and rich jewels: there was found so much riches, that the boys and villains of the host set nothing by good furred gowns: they made all the men of the town to issue out and to go into the ships, because they would not suffer them to be behind them for fear of rebelling again. After the town of Barfleur was thus taken and robbed without brenning, then they spread abroad in the country and did what they list, for there was not to resist them. At last they came to a great and a rich town called Cherbourg: the town they won and robbed it, and brent part thereof, but into the castle they could not come, it was so strong and well furnished with men of war. Then they passed forth and came to Montebourg, and took it and robbed and brent it clean. In this manner they brent many other towns in that country and won so much riches, that it was marvel to reckon it. Then they came to a great town well closed called Carentan, where there was also a strong castle and many soldiers within to keep it. Then the lords came out of their ships and fiercely made assault: the burgesses of the town were in great fear of their lives, wives and children: they suffered the Englishmen to enter into the town against the will of all the soldiers that were there; they put all their goods to the Englishmen's pleasures, they thought that most advantage. When the soldiers within saw that, they went into the castle: the Englishmen went into the town, and two days together they made sore assaults, so that when they within saw no succour, they yielded up, their lives and goods saved, and so departed. The Englishmen had their pleasure of that good town and castle, and when they saw they might not maintain to keep it, they set fire therein and brent it, and made the burgesses of the town to enter into their ships, as they had done with them of Barfleur, Cherbourg and Montebourg, and of other towns that they had won on the sea-side. All this was done by the battle that went by the sea-side, and by them on the sea together.[1]

[1] Froissart is mistaken in supposing that a division of the land army went to these towns. Barfleur and Cherbourg were visited only by the fleet. According to Michael of Northburgh, who accompanied the expedition, Edward disembarked 12th July and remained at Saint Vaast till the 18th, and meanwhile the fleet went to Barfleur and Cherbourg. The army arrived at Caen on the 26th.

Now let us speak of the king's battle. When he had sent his first battle along by the sea-side, as ye have heard, whereof one of his marshals, the earl of Warwick, was captain, and the lord Cobham with him, then he made his other marshal to lead his host on his left hand, for he knew the issues and entries of Normandy better than any other did there. The lord Godfrey as marshal rode forth with five hundred men of arms, and rode off from the king's battle as six or seven leagues, in brenning and exiling the country, the which was plentiful of everything—the granges full of corn, the houses full of all riches, rich burgesses, carts and chariots, horse, swine, muttons and other beasts: they took what them list and brought into the king's host; but the soldiers made no count to the king nor to none of his officers of the gold and silver that they did get; they kept that to themselves. Thus sir Godfrey of Harcourt rode every day off from the king's host, and for most part every night resorted to the king's field. The king took his way to Saint-Lo in Cotentin, but or he came there he lodged by a river, abiding for his men that rode along by the sea-side; and when they were come, they set forth their carriage, and the earl of Warwick, the earl of Suffolk, sir Thomas Holland and sir Raynold Cobham, and their company rode out on the one side and wasted and exiled the country, as the lord Harcourt had done; and the king ever rode between these battles, and every night they lodged together.


Thus by the Englishmen was brent, exiled, robbed, wasted and pilled the good, plentiful country of Normandy. Then the French king sent for the lord John of Hainault, who came to him with a great number: also the king sent for other men of arms, dukes, earls, barons, knights and squires, and assembled together the greatest number of people that had been seen in France a hundred year before. He sent for men into so far countries, that it was long or they came together, wherefore the king of England did what him list in the mean season. The French king heard well what he did, and sware and said how they should siever return again unfought withal, and that such hurts and damages as they had done should be dearly revenged; wherefore he had sent letters to his friends in the Empire, to such as were farthest off, and also to the gentle king of Bohemia and to the lord Charles his son, who from thenceforth was called king of Almaine; he was made king by the aid of his father and the French king, and had taken on him the arms of the Empire: the French king desired them to come to him with all their powers, to the intent to fight with the king oL England, who brent and wasted his country. These princes and lords made them ready with great number of men oL arms, of Almains, Bohemians and Luxemburgers, and so came to the French king. Also king Philip sent to the duke of Lorraine, who came to serve him with three hundred spears: also there came the earl (of) Salm in Saumois, the earl of Sarrebruck, the earl of Flanders, the earl William of Namur, every man with a fair company.

Ye have heard herebefore of the order of the Englishmen, how they went in three battles, the marshals on the right hand and on the left, the king and the prince of Wales his son in the midst They rode but small journeys and every day took their lodgings between noon and three of the clock, and found the country so fruitful, that they needed not to make no provision for their host, but all only for wine; and yet they found reasonably sufficient thereof.[1] It was no marvel though they of the country were afraid, for before that time they had never seen men of war, nor they wist not what war or battle meant. They fled away as far as they might hear speaking of the Englishmen,[2] and left their houses well stuffed, and granges full of corn, they wist not how to save and keep it. The king of England and the prince had in their battle a three thousand men of arms and six thousand archers and a ten thousand men afoot, beside them that rode with the marshals.

[1] Or rather, 'thus they found reasonably sufficient provisions.'

[2] That is, they fled as soon as they heard their coming spoken of.

Thus as ye have heard, the king rode forth, wasting and brenning the country without breaking of his order. He left the city of Coutances[3] and went to a great town called Saint-Lo, a rich town of drapery and many rich burgesses. In that town there were dwelling an eight or nine score burgesses, crafty men. When the king came there, he took his lodging without, for he would never lodge in the town for fear of fire: but he sent his men before and anon the town was taken and clean robbed. It was hard to think the great riches that there was won, in clothes specially; cloth would there have been sold good cheap, if there had been any buyers.

[3] That is, he did not turn aside to go to it. Froissart says, 'He did not turn aside to the city of Coutances, but went on toward the great town of Saint-Lo in Cotentin, which at that time was very rich and of great merchandise and three times as great as the city of Coutances.' Michael of Northburgh says that Barfleur was about equal in importance to Sandwich and Carentan to Leicester, Saint-Lo greater than Lincoln, and Caen greater than any city in England except London.

Then the king went toward Caen, the which was a greater town and full of drapery and other merchandise, and rich burgesses, noble ladies and damosels, and fair churches, and specially two great and rich abbeys, one of the Trinity, another of Saint Stephen; and on the one side of the town one of the fairest castles of all Normandy, and captain therein was Robert of Wargny, with three hundred Genoways, and in the town was the earl of Eu and of Guines, constable of France, and the earl of Tancarville, with a good number of men of war. The king of England rode that day in good order and lodged all his battles together that night, a two leagues from Caen, in a town with a little haven called Austrehem, and thither came also all his navy of ships with the earl of Huntingdon, who was governour of them.

The constable and other lords of France that night watched well the town of Caen, and in the morning armed them with all them of the town: then the constable ordained that none should issue out, but keep their defences on the walls, gate, bridge and river, and left the suburbs void, because they were not closed; for they thought they should have enough to do to defend the town, because it was not closed but with the river. They of the town said how they would issue out, for they were strong enough to fight with the king of England. When the constable saw their good wills, he said: 'In the name of God be it, ye shall not fight without me,' Then they issued out in good order and made good face to fight and to defend them and to put their lives in adventure.


The same day the Englishmen rose early and apparelled them ready to go to Caen.[1] The king heard mass before the sun-rising and then took his horse, and the prince his son, with sir Godfrey of Harcourt marshal and leader of the host, whose counsel the king much followed. Then they drew toward Caen with their battles in good array, and so approached the good town of Caen. When they of the town, who were ready in the field, saw these three battles coming in good order, with their banners and standards waving in the wind, and the archers, the which they had not been accustomed to see, they were sore afraid and fled away toward the town without any order or good array, for all that the constable could do: then the Englishmen pursued them eagerly. When the constable and the earl Tancarville saw that, they took a gate at the entry and saved themselves[2] and certain with them, for the Englishmen were entered into the town. Some of the knights and squires of France, such as knew the way to the castle, went thither, and the captain there received them all, for the castle was large. The Englishmen in the chase slew many, for they took none to mercy.

[1] This was 26th July. Edward arrived at Poissy on 12th August. Philip of Valois left Paris on the 14th, the English crossed the Seine at Poissy on the 16th, and the Somme at Blanche-taque on the 24th.

[2] 'Set themselves for safety in a gate at the entry of the bridge.'

Then the constable and the earl of Tancarville, being in the little tower at the bridge foot, looked along the street and saw their men slain without mercy: they doubted to fall in their hands. At last they saw an English knight with one eye called sir Thomas Holland, and a five or six other knights with him: they knew them, for they had seen them before in Pruce, in Granade, and in other viages. Then they called to sir Thomas and said how they would yield themselves prisoners. Then sir Thomas came thither with his company and mounted up into the gate, and there found the said lords with twenty-five knights with them, who yielded them to sir Thomas, and he took them for his prisoners and left company to keep them, and then mounted again on his horse and rode into the streets, and saved many lives of ladies, damosels, and cloisterers from defoiling, for the soldiers were without mercy. It fell so well the same season for the Englishmen, that the river, which was able to bear ships, at that time was so low, that men went in and out beside the bridge. They of the town were entered into their houses, and cast down into the street stones, timber and iron, and slew and hurt more than five hundred Englishmen, wherewith the king was sore displeased. At night when he heard thereof, he commanded that the next day all should be put to the sword and the town brent; but then sir Godfrey of Harcourt said: 'Dear sir, for God's sake assuage somewhat your courage, and let it suffice you that ye have done. Ye have yet a great voyage to do or ye come before Calais, whither ye purpose to go; and, sir, in this town there is much people who will defend their houses, and it will cost many of your men their lives, or ye have all at your will; whereby peradventure ye shall not keep your purpose to Calais, the which should redound to your rack. Sir, save your people, for ye shall have need of them or this month pass; for I think verily your adversary king Philip will meet with you to fight, and ye shall find many straight passages and rencounters; wherefore your men, an ye had more, shall stand you in good stead: and, sir, without any further slaying ye shall be lord of this town; men and women will put all that they have to your pleasure.' Then the king said: 'Sir Godfrey, you are our marshal, ordain everything as ye will.' Then sir Godfrey with his banner rode from street to street, and commanded in the king's name none to be so hardy to put fire in any house, to slay any person, nor to violate any woman. When they of the town heard that cry, they received the Englishmen into their houses and made them good cheer, and some opened their coffers and bade them take what them list, so they might be assured of their lives; howbeit there were done in the town many evil deeds, murders and robberies. Thus the Englishmen were lords of the town three days and won great riches, the which they sent by barks and barges to Saint-Saviour by the river of Austrehem,[3] a two leagues thence, whereas all their navy lay. Then the king sent the earl of Huntingdon with two hundred men of arms and four hundred archers, with his navy and prisoners and riches that they had got, back again into England. And the king bought of sir Thomas Holland the constable of France and the earl of Tancarville, and paid for them twenty thousand nobles.

[3] Froissart says that they sent their booty in barges and boats 'on the river as far as Austrehem, a two leagues from thence, where their great navy lay.' He makes no mention of Saint-Sauveur here. The river in question is the Orne, at the mouth of which Austrehem is situated.


Thus the king of England ordered his business, being in the town of Caen, and sent into England his navy of ships charged with clothes, jewels, vessels of gold and silver, and of other riches, and of prisoners more than sixty knights and three hundred burgesses. Then he departed from the town of Caen and rode in the same order as he did before, brenning and exiling the country, and took the way to Evreux and so passed by it; and from thence they rode to a great town called Louviers: it was the chief town of all Normandy of drapery, riches, and full of merchandise. The Englishmen soon entered therein, for as then it was not closed; it was overrun, spoiled and robbed without mercy: there was won great riches. Then they entered into the country of Evreux and brent and pilled all the country except the good towns closed and castles, to the which the king made none assault, because of the sparing of his people and his artillery.

On the river of Seine near to Rouen there was the earl of Harcourt, brother to sir Godfrey of Harcourt, but he was on the French party, and the earl of Dreux with him, with a good number of men of war: but the Englishmen left Rouen and went to Gisors, where was a strong castle: they brent the town and then they brent Vernon and all the country about Rouen and Pont-de-l'Arche and came to Mantes and to Meulan, and wasted all the country about, and passed by the strong castle of Rolleboise; and in every place along the river of Seine they found the bridges broken. At last they came to Poissy, and found the bridge broken, but the arches and joists lay in the river: the king lay there a five days: in the mean season the bridge was made, to pass the host without peril. The English marshals ran abroad just to Paris, and brent Saint-Germain in Laye and Montjoie, and Saint-Cloud, and petty Boulogne by Paris, and the Queen's Bourg:[1] they of Paris were not well assured of themselves, for it was not as then closed.

[1] Bourg-la-Reine.

Then king Philip removed to Saint-Denis, and or he went caused all the pentices in Paris to be pulled down; and at Saint-Denis were ready come the king of Bohemia, the lord John of Hainault, the duke of Lorraine, the earl of Flanders, the earl of Blois, and many other great lords and knights, ready to serve the French king. When the people of Paris saw their king depart, they came to him and kneeled down and said: 'Ah, sir and noble king, what will ye do? leave thus this noble city of Paris?' The king said: 'My good people, doubt ye not: the Englishmen will approach you no nearer than they be.' 'Why so, sir?' quoth they; 'they be within these two leagues, and as soon as they know of your departing, they will come and assail us; and we not able to defend them: sir, tarry here still and help to defend your good city of Paris.' 'Speak no more,' quoth the king, 'for I will go to Saint-Denis to my men of war: for I will encounter the Englishmen and fight against them, whatsoever fall thereof.'

The king of England was at Poissy, and lay in the nunnery there, and kept there the feast of our Lady in August and sat in his robes of scarlet furred with ermines; and after that feast he went forth in order as they were before. The lord Godfrey of Harcourt rode out on the one side with five hundred men of arms and thirteen[2] hundred archers; and by adventure he encountered a great number of burgesses of Amiens a-horseback, who were riding by the king's commandment to Paris. They were quickly assailed and they defended themselves valiantly, for they were a great number and well armed: there were four knights of Amiens their captains. This skirmish dured long: at the first meeting many were overthrown on both parts; but finally the burgesses were taken and nigh all slain, and the Englishmen took all their carriages and harness. They were well stuffed, for they were going to the French king well appointed, because they had not seen him a great season before. There were slain in the field a twelve hundred.

[2] A better reading is 'twelve.'

Then the king of England entered into the country of Beauvoisis, brenning and exiling the plain country, and lodged at a fair abbey and a rich called Saint-Messien[3] near to Beauvais: there the king tarried a night and in the morning departed. And when he was on his way he looked behind him and saw the abbey a-fire: he caused incontinent twenty of them to be hanged that set the fire there, for he had commanded before on pain of death none to violate any church nor to bren any abbey. Then the king passed by the city of Beauvais without any assault giving, for because he would not trouble his people nor waste his artillery. And so that day he took his lodging betime in a little town called Milly. The two marshals came so near to Beauvais, that they made assault and skirmish at the barriers in three places, the which assault endured a long space; but the town within was so well defended by the means of the bishop, who was there within, that finally the Englishmen departed, and brent clean hard to the gates all the suburbs, and then at night they came into the king's field.

[3] Commonly called Saint-Lucien, but Saint Maximianus (Messien) is also associated with the place.

The next day the king departed, brenning and wasting all before him, and at night lodged in a good village called Grandvilliers. The next day the king passed by Dargies: there was none to defend the castle, wherefore it was soon taken and brent. Then they went forth destroying the country all about, and so came to the castle of Poix, where there was a good town and two castles. There was nobody in them but two fair damosels, daughters to the lord of Poix; they were soon taken, and had been violated, an two English knights had not been, sir John Chandos and sir Basset; they defended them and brought them to the king, who for his honour made them good cheer and demanded of them whither they would fainest go. They said, 'To Corbie,' and the king caused them to be brought thither without peril. That night the king lodged in the town of Poix. They of the town and of the castles spake that night with the marshals of the host, to save them and their town from brenning, and they to pay a certain sum of florins the next day as soon as the host was departed. This was granted them, and in the morning the king departed with all his host except a certain that were left there to receive the money that they of the town had promised to pay. When they of the town saw the host depart and but a few left behind, then they said they would pay never a penny, and so ran out and set on the Englishmen, who defended themselves as well as they might and sent after the host for succour. When sir Raynold Cobham and sir Thomas Holland, who had the rule of the rearguard, heard thereof, they returned and cried, 'Treason, treason!' and so came again to Poix-ward and found their companions still fighting with them of the town. Then anon they of the town were nigh all slain, and the town brent, and the two castles beaten down. Then they returned to the king's host, who was as then at Airaines and there lodged, and had commanded all manner of men on pain of death to do no hurt to no town of Arsyn,[4] for there the king was minded to lie a day or two to take advice how he might pass the river of Somme; for it was necessary for him to pass the river, as ye shall hear after.

[4] A mistranslation. The original is '(Il avoit) deffendu sus le hart que nuls ne fourfesist rien a le ville d'arsin ne d'autre cose,' 'he had commanded all on pain of hanging to do no hurt to the town by burning or otherwise.' The translator has taken 'arsin' for a proper name.


Now let us speak of King Philip, who was at Sant-Denis and his people about him, and daily increased. Then on a day he departed and rode so long that he came to Coppegueule, a three leagues from Amiens, and there he tarried. The king of England being at Airaines wist not where for to pass the river of Somme, the which was large and deep, and all bridges were broken and the passages well kept. Then at the king's commandment his two marshals with a thousand men of arms and two thousand archers went along the river to find some passage, and passed by Longpre, and came to the bridge of Remy,[1] the which was well kept with a great number of knights and squires and men of the country. The Englishmen alighted afoot and assailed the Frenchmen from the morning till it was noon; but the bridge was so well fortified and defended, that the Englishmen departed without winning of anything. Then they went to a great town called Fountains on the river of Somme, the which was clean robbed and brent, for it was not closed. Then they went to another town called Long-en-Ponthieu; they could not win the bridge, it was so well kept and defended. Then they departed and went to Picquigny, and found the town, the bridge, and the castle so well fortified, that it was not likely to pass there: the French king had so well defended the passages, to the intent that the king of England should not pass the river of Somme, to fight with him at his advantage or else to famish him there.

[1] Pont-a-Remy, corrupted here into 'bridge of Athyne.'

When these two marshals had assayed in all places to find passage and could find none, they returned again to the king, and shewed how they could find no passage in no place. The same night the French king came to Amiens with more than a hundred thousand men. The king of England was right pensive, and the next morning heard mass before the sun-rising and then dislodged; and every man followed the marshals' banners and so rode in the country of Vimeu approaching to the good town of Abbeville, and found a town thereby, whereunto was come much people of the country in trust of a little defence that was there; but the Englishmen anon won it; and all they that were within slain, and many taken of the town and of the country. The king took his lodging in a great hospital[2] that was there. The same day the French king departed from Amiens and came to Airaines about noon; and the Englishmen were departed thence in the morning. The Frenchmen found there great provision that the Englishmen had left behind them, because they departed in haste. There they found flesh ready on the broaches, bread and pasties in the ovens, wine in tuns and barrels, and the tables ready laid. There the French king lodged and tarried for his lords.

[2] That is, a house of the knights of Saint John.

That night the king of England was lodged at Olsemont. At night when the two marshals were returned, who had that day overrun the country to the gates of Abbeville and to Saint-Valery and made a great skirmish there, then the king assembled together his council and made to be brought before him certain prisoners of the country of Ponthieu and of Vimeu. The king right courteously demanded of them, if there were any among them that knew any passage beneath Abbeville, that he and his host might pass over the river of Somme: if he would shew him thereof, he should be quit of his ransom, and twenty of his company for his love. There was a varlet called Gobin Agace who stepped forth and said to the king: 'Sir, I promise you on the jeopardy of my head I shall bring you to such a place, whereas ye and all your host shall pass the river of Somme without peril. There be certain places in the passage that ye shall pass twelve men afront two times between day and night: ye shall not go in the water to the knees. But when the flood cometh, the river then waxeth so great, that no man can pass; but when the flood is gone, the which is two times between day and night, then the river is so low, that it may be passed without danger both a-horseback and afoot. The passage is hard in the bottom with white stones, so that all your carriage may go surely; therefore the passage is called Blanche-taque. An ye make ready to depart betimes, ye may be there by the sun-rising.' The king said: 'If this be true that ye say, I quit thee thy ransom and all thy company, and moreover shall give thee a hundred nobles.' Then the king commanded every man to be ready at the sound of the trumpet to depart.


The king of England slept not much that night, for at midnight he arose and sowned his trumpet: then incontinent they made ready carriages and all things, and at the breaking of the day they departed from the town of Oisemont and rode after the guiding of Gobin Agace, so that they came by the sun-rising to Blanche-taque; but as then the flood was up, so that they might not pass: so the king tarried there till it was prime; then the ebb came.

The French king had his currours in the country, who brought him word of the demeanour of the Englishmen. Then he thought to close the king of England between Abbeville and the river of Somme, and so to fight with him at his pleasure. And when he was at Amiens he had ordained a great baron of Normandy, called sir Godemar du Fay, to go and keep the passage of Blanche-taque, where the Englishmen must pass or else in none other place. He had with him a thousand men of arms and six thousand afoot, with the Genoways: so they went by Saint-Riquier in Ponthieu and from thence to Crotoy, whereas the passage lay; and also he had with him a great number of men of the country, and also a great number of them of Montreuil, so that they were a twelve thousand men one and other.

When the English host was come thither, sir Godemar du Fay arranged all his company to defend the passage. The king of England let not for all that; but when the flood was gone, he commanded his marshals to enter into the water in the name of God and Saint George. Then they that were hardy and courageous entered on both parties, and many a man reversed. There were some of the Frenchmen of Artois and Picardy that were as glad to joust in the water as on the dry land.

The Frenchmen defended so well the passage at the issuing out of the water, that they had much to do. The Genoways did them great trouble with their cross-bows: on the other side the archers of England shot so wholly together, that the Frenchmen were fain to give place to the Englishmen. There was a sore battle, and many a noble feat of arms done on both sides. Finally the Englishmen passed over and assembled together in the field. The king and the prince passed, and all the lords; then the Frenchmen kept none array, but departed, he that might best. When sir Godemar saw that discomfiture, he fled and saved himself: some fled to Abbeville and some to Saint-Riquiers. They that were there afoot could not flee, so that there were slain a great number of them of Abbeville, Montreuil, Rue and of Saint-Riquiers: the chase endured more than a great league. And as yet all the Englishmen were not passed the river, and certain currours of the king of Bohemia and of sir John of Hainault came on them that were behind and took certain horses and carriages and slew divers, or they could take the passage.

The French king the same morning was departed from Airaines, trusting to have found the Englishmen between him and the river of Somme: but when he heard how that sir Godemar du Fay and his company were discomfited, he tarried in the field and demanded of his marshals what was best to do. They said, 'Sir, ye cannot pass the river but at the bridge of Abbeville, for the flood is come in at Blanche-taque': then he returned and lodged at Abbeville.

The king of England when he was past the river, he thanked God and so rode forth in like manner as he did before. Then he called Gobin Agace and did quit him his ransom and all his company, and gave him a hundred nobles and a good horse. And so the king rode forth fair and easily, and thought to have lodged in a great town called Noyelles; but when he knew that the town pertained to the countess d'Aumale, sister to the lord Robert of Artois,[1] the king assured the town and country as much as pertained to her, and so went forth; and his marshals rode to Crotoy on the sea-side and brent the town, and found in the haven many ships and barks charged with wines of Poitou, pertaining to the merchants of Saintonge and of Rochelle: they brought the best thereof to the king's host. Then one of the marshals rode to the gates of Abbeville and from thence to Saint-Riquiers, and after to the town of Rue-Saint-Esprit. This was on a Friday, and both battles of the marshals returned to the king's host about noon and so lodged all together near to Cressy in Ponthieu.

[1] She was in fact his daughter.

The king of England was well informed how the French king followed after him to fight. Then he said to his company: 'Let us take here some plot of ground, for we will go no farther till we have seen our enemies. I have good cause here to abide them, for I am on the right heritage of the queen my mother, the which land was given at her marriage: I will challenge it of mine adversary Philip of Valois.' And because that he had not the eighth part in number of men as the French king had, therefore he commanded his marshals to chose a plot of ground somewhat for his advantage: and so they did, and thither the king and his host went. Then he sent his currours to Abbeville, to see if the French king drew that day into the field or not. They went forth and returned again, and said how they could see none appearance of his coming: then every man took their lodging for that day, and to be ready in the morning at the sound of the trumpet in the same place. This Friday the French king tarried still in Abbeville abiding for his company, and sent his two marshals to ride out to see the dealing of the Englishmen, and at night they returned, and said how the Englishmen were lodged in the fields. That night the French king made a supper to all the chief lords that were there with him, and after supper the king desired them to be friends each to other. The king looked for the earl of Savoy, who should come to him with a thousand spears, for he had received wages for a three months of them at Troyes in Champagne.


On the Friday, as I said before, the king of England lay in the fields, for the country was plentiful of wines and other victual, and if need had been, they had provision following in carts and other carriages. That night the king made a supper to all his chief lords of his host and made them good cheer; and when they were all departed to take their rest, then the king entered into his oratory and kneeled down before the altar, praying God devoutly, that if he fought the next day, that he might achieve the journey to his honour: then about midnight he laid him down to rest, and in the morning he rose betimes and heard mass, and the prince his son with him, and the most part of his company were confessed and houselled; and after the mass said, he commanded every man to be armed and to draw to the field to the same place before appointed. Then the king caused a park to be made by the wood side behind his host, and there was set all carts and carriages, and within the park were all their horses, for every man was afoot; and into this park there was but one entry. Then he ordained three battles: in the first was the young prince of Wales, with him the earl of Warwick and Oxford, the lord Godfrey of Harcourt, sir Raynold Cobham, sir Thomas Holland, the lord Stafford, the lord of Mohun, the lord Delaware, sir John Chandos, sir Bartholomew de Burghersh, sir Robert Nevill, the lord Thomas Clifford, the lord Bourchier, the lord de Latimer, and divers other knights and squires that I cannot name: they were an eight hundred men of arms and two thousand archers, and a thousand of other with the Welshmen: every lord drew to the field appointed under his own banner and pennon. In the second battle was the earl of Northampton, the earl of Arundel, the lord Ros, the lord Lucy, the lord Willoughby, the lord Basset, the lord of Saint-Aubin, sir Louis Tufton, the lord of Multon, the lord Lascelles and divers other, about an eight hundred men of arms and twelve hundred archers. The third battle had the king: he had seven hundred men of arms and two thousand archers. Then the king leapt on a hobby,[1] with a white rod in his hand, one of his marshals on the one hand and the other on the other hand: he rode from rank to rank desiring every man to take heed that day to his right and honour. He spake it so sweetly and with so good countenance and merry cheer, that all such as were discomfited took courage in the seeing and hearing of him. And when he had thus visited all his battles, it was then nine of the day: then he caused every man to eat and drink a little, and so they did at their leisure. And afterward they ordered again their battles: then every man lay down on the earth and by him his salet and bow, to be the more fresher when their enemies should come.

[1] 'Un petit palefroi.'


This Saturday the French king rose betimes and heard mass in Abbeville in his lodging in the abbey of Saint Peter, and he departed after the sun-rising. When he was out of the town two leagues, approaching toward his enemies, some of his lords said to him: 'Sir, it were good that ye ordered your battles, and let all your footmen pass somewhat on before, that they be not troubled with the horsemen.' Then the king sent four knights, the Moine (of) Bazeilles, the lord of Noyers, the lord of Beaujeu and the lord d'Aubigny to ride to aview the English host; and so they rode so near that they might well see part of their dealing. The Englishmen saw them well and knew well how they were come thither to aview them: they let them alone and made no countenance toward them, and let them return as they came. And when the French king saw these four knights return again, he tarried till they came to him and said: 'Sirs, what tidings?' These four knights each of them looked on other, for there was none would speak before his companion; finally the king said to (the) Moine, who pertained to the king of Bohemia and had done in his days so much, that he was reputed for one of the valiantest knights of the world: 'Sir, speak you,' Then he said: 'Sir, I shall speak, sith it pleaseth you, under the correction of my fellows. Sir, we have ridden and seen the behaving of your enemies: know ye for truth they are rested in three battles abiding for you. Sir, I will counsel you as for my part, saving your displeasure, that you and all your company rest here and lodge for this night: for or they that be behind of your company be come hither, and or your battles be set in good order, it will be very late, and your people be weary and out of array, and ye shall find your enemies fresh and ready to receive you. Early in the morning ye may order your battles at more leisure and advise your enemies at more deliberation, and to regard well what way ye will assail them; for, sir, surely they will abide you.'

Then the king commanded that it should be so done. Then his two marshals one rode before, another behind, saying to every banner: 'Tarry and abide here in the name of God and Saint Denis.' They that were foremost tarried, but they that were behind would not tarry, but rode forth, and said how they would in no wise abide till they were as far forward as the foremost: and when they before saw them come on behind, then they rode forward again, so that the king nor his marshals could not rule them. So they rode without order or good array, till they came in sight of their enemies: and as soon as the foremost saw them, they reculed then aback without good array, whereof they behind had marvel and were abashed, and thought that the foremost company had been fighting. Then they might have had leisure and room to have gone forward, if they had list: some went forth and some abode still. The commons, of whom all the ways between Abbeville and Cressy were full, when they saw that they were near to their enemies, they took their swords and cried: 'Down with them! let us slay them all.' There is no man, though he were present at the journey, that could imagine or shew the truth of the evil order that was among the French party, and yet they were a marvellous great number. That I write in this book I learned it specially of the Englishmen, who well beheld their dealing; and also certain knights of sir John of Hainault's, who was always about king Philip, shewed me as they knew.


The Englishmen, who were in three battles lying on the ground to rest them, as soon as they saw the Frenchmen approach, they rose upon their feet fair and easily without any haste and arranged their battles. The first, which was the prince's battle, the archers there stood in manner of a herse and the men of arms in the bottom of the battle. The earl of Northampton and the earl of Arundel with the second battle were on a wing in good order, ready to comfort the prince's battle, if need were.

The lords and knights of France came not to the assembly together in good order, for some came before and some came after in such haste and evil order, that one of them did trouble another. When the French king saw the Englishmen, his blood changed, and said to his marshals: 'Make the Genoways go on before and begin the battle in the name of God and Saint Denis.' There were of the Genoways cross-bows about a fifteen thousand,[1] but they were so weary of going afoot that day a six leagues armed with their cross-bows, that they said to their constables: 'We be not well ordered to fight this day, for we be not in the case to do any great deed of arms: we have more need of rest.' These words came to the earl of Alengon, who said: 'A man is well at ease to be charged with such a sort of rascals, to be faint and fail now at most need.' Also the same season there fell a great rain and a clipse[2] with a terrible thunder, and before the rain there came flying over both battles a great number of crows for fear of the tempest coming. Then anon the air began to wax clear, and the sun to shine fair and bright, the which was right in the Frenchmen's eyen and on the Englishmen's backs. When the Genoways were assembled together and began to approach, they made a great leap[3] and cry to abash the Englishmen, but they stood still and stirred not for all that: then the Genoways again the second time made another leap and a fell cry, and stept forward a little, and the Englishmen removed not one foot: thirdly, again they leapt and cried, and went forth till they came within shot; then they shot fiercely with their cross-bows. Then the English archers stept forth one pace and let fly their arrows so wholly (together) and so thick, that it seemed snow. When the Genoways felt the arrows piercing through heads, arms and breasts, many of them cast down their cross-bows and did cut their strings and returned discomfited. When the French king saw them fly away, he said: 'Slay these rascals, for they shall let and trouble us without reason.' Then ye should have seen the men of arms dash in among them and killed a great number of them: and ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they saw thickest press; the sharp arrows ran into the men of arms and into their horses, and many fell, horse and men, among the Genoways, and when they were down, they could not relieve[4] again, the press was so thick that one overthrew another. And also among the Englishmen there were certain rascals that went afoot with great knives, and they went in among the men of arms, and slew and murdered many as they lay on the ground, both earls, barons, knights and squires, whereof the king of England was after displeased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners.

[1] Villani, a very good authority on the subject, says 6000, brought from the ships at Harfleur.

[2] A mistranslation of 'une esclistre,' 'a flash of lightning.'

[3] These 'leaps' of the Genoese are invented by the translator, and have passed from him into several respectable English text-books, sometimes in company with the eclipse above mentioned. Froissart says 'Il commencierent a juper moult epouvantablement'; that is, 'to utter cries.' Another text makes mention of the English cannons at this point: 'The English remained still and let off some cannons that they had, to frighten the Genoese.'

[4] The translator's word 'relieve' (relyuue) represents 'relever,' for 'se relever.'

The valiant king of Bohemia called Charles of Luxembourg, son to the noble emperor Henry of Luxembourg, for all that he was nigh blind, when he understood the order of the battle, he said to them about him: 'Where is the lord Charles my son?' His men said: 'Sir, we cannot tell; we think he be fighting.' Then he said: 'Sirs, ye are my men, my companions and friends in this journey: I require you bring me so far forward, that I may strike one stroke with my sword.' They said they would do his commandment, and to the intent that they should not lose him in the press, they tied all their reins of their bridles each to other and set the king before to accomplish his desire, and so they went on their enemies. The lord Charles of Bohemia his son, who wrote himself king of Almaine and bare the arms, he came in good order to the battle; but when he saw that the matter went awry on their party, he departed, I cannot tell you which way. The king his father was so far forward that he strake a stroke with his sword, yea and more than four, and fought valiantly and so did his company; and they adventured themselves so forward, that they were there all slain, and the next day they were found in the place about the king, and all their horses tied each to other.

The earl of Alencon came to the battle right ordinately and fought with the Englishmen, and the earl of Flanders also on his part. These two lords with their companies coasted the English archers and came to the prince's battle, and there fought valiantly long. The French king would fain have come thither, when he saw their banners, but there was a great hedge of archers before him. The same day the French king had given a great black courser to sir John of Hainault, and he made the lord Tierry of Senzeille to ride on him and to bear his banner. The same horse took the bridle in the teeth and brought him through all the currours of the Englishmen, and as he would have returned again, he fell in a great dike and was sore hurt, and had been there dead, an his page had not been, who followed him through all the battles and saw where his master lay in the dike, and had none other let but for his horse, for the Englishmen would not issue out of their battle for taking of any prisoner. Then the page alighted and relieved his master: then he went not back again the same way that they came, there was too many in his way.

This battle between Broye and Cressy this Saturday was right cruel and fell, and many a feat of arms done that came not to my knowledge. In the night[5] divers knights and squires lost their masters, and sometime came on the Englishmen, who received them in such wise that they were ever nigh slain; for there was none taken to mercy nor to ransom, for so the Englishmen were determined.

[5] 'Sus le nuit,' 'towards nightfall.'

In the morning[6] the day of the battle certain Frenchmen and Almains perforce opened the archers of the prince's battle and came and fought with the men of arms hand to hand. Then the second battle of the Englishmen came to succour the prince's battle, the which was time, for they had as then much ado; and they with the prince sent a messenger to the king, who was on a little windmill hill. Then the knight said to the king: 'Sir, the earl of Warwick and the earl of Oxford, sir Raynold Cobham and other, such as be about the prince your son, are fiercely fought withal and are sore handled; wherefore they desire you that you and your battle will come and aid them; for if the Frenchmen increase, as they doubt they will, your son and they shall have much ado.' Then the king said: 'Is my son dead or hurt or on the earth felled?' 'No, sir,' quoth the knight, 'but he is hardly matched; wherefore he hath need of your aid.' 'Well,' said the king, 'return to him and to them that sent you hither, and say to them that they send no more to me for any adventure that falleth, as long as my son is alive: and also say to them that they suffer him this day to win his spurs;[7] for if God be pleased, I will this journey be his and the honour thereof, and to them that be about him.' Then the knight returned again to them and shewed the king's words, the which greatly encouraged them, and repoined[8] in that they had sent to the king as they did.

[6] The text has suffered by omissions. What Froissart says is that if the battle had begun in the morning, it might have gone better for the French, and then he instances the exploits of those who broke through the archers. The battle did not begin till four o'clock in the afternoon.

[7] 'Que il laissent a l'enfant gaegnier ses esperons.'

[8] i.e. 'they repoined': Fr. 'se reprisent.'

Sir Godfrey of Harcourt would gladly that the earl of Harcourt his brother might have been saved; for he heard say by them that saw his banner how that he was there in the field on the French party: but sir Godfrey could not come to him betimes, for he was slain or he could come at him, and so was also the earl of Aumale his nephew. In another place the earl of Alencon and the earl of Flanders fought valiantly, every lord under his own banner; but finally they could not resist against the puissance of the Englishmen, and so there they were also slain, and divers other knights and squires. Also the earl Louis of Blois, nephew to the French king, and the duke of Lorraine fought under their banners, but at last they were closed in among a company of Englishmen and Welshmen, and there were slain for all their prowess. Also there was slain the earl of Auxerre, the earl of Saint-Pol and many other.

In the evening the French king, who had left about him no more than a three-score persons, one and other, whereof sir John of Hainault was one, who had remounted once the king, for his horse was slain with an arrow, then he said to the king: 'Sir, depart hence, for it is time; lose not yourself wilfully: if ye have loss at this time, ye shall recover it again another season.' And so he took the king's horse by the bridle and led him away in a manner perforce. Then the king rode till he came to the castle of Broye. The gate was closed, because it was by that time dark: then the king called the captain, who came to the walls and said: 'Who is that calleth there this time of night?' Then the king said: 'Open your gate quickly, for this is the fortune of France.'[9] The captain knew then it was the king, and opened the gate and let down the bridge. Then the king entered, and he had with him but five barons, sir John of Hainault, sir Charles of Montmorency, the lord of Beaujeu, the lord d'Aubigny and the lord of Montsault. The king would not tarry there, but drank and departed thence about midnight, and so rode by such guides as knew the country till he came in the morning to Amiens, and there he rested.

[9] 'C'est la fortune de France': but the better MSS. have 'c'est li infortunes rois de France.'

This Saturday the Englishmen never departed from their battles for chasing of any man, but kept still their field, and ever defended themselves against all such as came to assail them. This battle ended about evensong time.


On this Saturday, when the night was come and that the Englishmen heard no more noise of the Frenchmen, then they reputed themselves to have the victory, and the Frenchmen to be discomfited, slain and fled away. Then they made great fires and lighted up torches and candles, because it was very dark. Then the king avaled down from the little hill whereas he stood; and of all that day till then his helm came never on his head. Then he went with all his battle to his son the prince and embraced him in his arms and kissed him, and said: 'Fair son, God give you good perseverance; ye are my good son, thus ye have acquitted you nobly: ye are worthy to keep a realm.' The prince inclined himself to the earth, honouring the king his father.

This night they thanked God for their good adventure and made no boast thereof, for the king would that no man should be proud or make boast, but every man humbly to thank God. On the Sunday in the morning there was such a mist, that a man might not see the breadth of an acre of land from him. Then there departed from the host by the commandment of the king and marshals five hundred spears and two thousand archers, to see if they might see any Frenchmen gathered again together in any place. The same morning out of Abbeville and Saint-Riquiers in Ponthieu the commons of Rouen and of Beauvais issued out of their towns, not knowing of the discomfiture of the day before. They met with the Englishmen weening they had been Frenchmen, and when the Englishmen saw them, they set on them freshly, and there was a sore battle; but at last the Frenchmen fled and kept none array. There were slain in the ways and in hedges and bushes more than seven thousand, and if the day had been clear there had never a one escaped. Anon after, another company of Frenchmen were met by the Englishmen, the archbishop of Rouen and the great prior of France, who also knew nothing of the discomfiture the day before, for they heard that the French king should have fought the same Sunday, and they were going thitherward. When they met with the Englishmen, there was a great battle, for they were a great number, but they could not endure against the Englishmen; for they were nigh all slain, few escaped; the two lords were slain. This morning the Englishmen met with divers Frenchmen that had lost their way on the Saturday and had lain all night in the fields, and wist not where the king was nor the captains. They were all slain, as many as were met with; and it was shewed me that of the commons and men afoot of the cities and good towns of France there was slain four times as many as were slain the Saturday in the great battle.


The same Sunday, as the king of England came from mass, such as had been sent forth returned and shewed the king what they had seen and done, and said: 'Sir, we think surely there is now no more appearance of any of our enemies.' Then the king sent to search how many were slain and what they were. Sir Raynold Cobham and Sir Richard Stafford with three heralds went to search the field and country: they visited all them that were slain and rode all day in the fields, and returned again to the host as the king was going to supper. They made just report of that they had seen, and said how there were eleven great princes dead, fourscore banners, twelve hundred knights, and more than thirty thousand other.[1] The Englishmen kept still their field all that night: on the Monday in the morning the king prepared to depart: the king caused the dead bodies of the great lords to be taken up and conveyed to Montreuil, and there buried in holy ground, and made a cry in the country to grant truce for three days, to the intent that they of the country might search the field of Cressy to bury the dead bodies.

[1] Another text makes the loss of persons below the rank of knight 15,000 or 16,000, including the men of the towns. Both estimates must be greatly exaggerated. Michael of Northburgh says that 1542 were killed in the battle and about 2000 on the next day. The great princes killed were the king of Bohemia, the duke of Lorraine, the earls of Alencon, Flanders, Blois, Auxerre, Harcourt, Saint-Pol, Aumale, the grand prior of France and the archbishop of Rouen.

Then the king went forth and came before the town of Montreuil-by-the-sea, and his marshals ran toward Hesdin and Brent Waben and Serain, but they did nothing to the castle, it was so strong and so well kept. They lodged that night on the river of Hesdin towards Blangy. The next day they rode toward Boulogne and came to the town of Wissant: there the king and the prince lodged, and tarried there a day to refresh his men, and on the Wednesday the king came before the strong town of Calais.



After the taking of the castle of Romorantin and of them that were therein, the prince then and his company rode as they did before, destroying the country, approaching to Anjou and to Touraine. The French king, who was at Chartres, departed and came to Blois and there tarried two days, and then to Amboise and the next day to Loches: and then he heard how that the prince was at Touraine[1] and how that he was returning by Poitou: ever the Englishmen were coasted by certain expert knights of France, who alway made report to the king what the Englishmen did. Then the king came to the Haye in Touraine and his men had passed the river of Loire, some at the bridge of Orleans and some at Meung, at Saumur, at Blois, and at Tours and whereas they might: they were in number a twenty thousand men of arms beside other; there were a twenty-six dukes and earls and more than sixscore banners, and the four sons of the king, who were but young, the duke Charles of Normandy, the lord Louis, that was from thenceforth duke of Anjou, and the lord John duke of Berry, and the lord Philip, who was after duke of Burgoyne. The same season, pope Innocent the sixth sent the lord Bertrand, cardinal of Perigord, and the lord Nicholas, cardinal of Urgel, into France, to treat for a peace between the French king and all his enemies, first between him and the king of Navarre, who was in prison: and these cardinals oftentimes spake to the king for his deliverance during the siege at Bretuel, but they could do nothing in that behalf. Then the cardinal of Perigord went to Tours, and there he heard how the French king hasted sore to find the Englishmen: then he rode to Poitiers, for he heard how both the hosts drew thitherward.

[1] 'En Touraine.'

The French king heard how the prince hasted greatly to return, and the king feared that he should scape him and so departed from Haye in Touraine, and all his company, and rode to Chauvigny, where he tarried that Thursday in the town and without along by the river of Creuse, and the next day the king passed the river at the bridge there, weening that the Englishmen had been before him, but they were not. Howbeit they pursued after and passed the bridge that day more than threescore thousand horses, and divers other passed at Chatelleraut, and ever as they passed they took the way to Poitiers.

On the other side the prince wist not truly where the Frenchmen were; but they supposed that they were not far off, for they could not find no more forage, whereby they had great fault in their host of victual, and some of them repented that they had destroyed so much as they had done before when they were in Berry, Anjou and Touraine, and in that they had made no better provision. The same Friday three great lords of France, the lord of Craon, the lord Raoul of Coucy and the earl of Joigny, tarried all day in the town of Chauvigny, and part of their companies. The Saturday they passed the bridge and followed the king, who was then a three leagues before, and took the way among bushes without a wood side to go to Poitiers.

The same Saturday the prince and his company dislodged from a little village thereby, and sent before him certain currours to see if they might find any adventure and to hear where the Frenchmen were. They were in number a threescore men of arms well horsed, and with them was the lord Eustace d'Aubrecicourt and the lord John of Ghistelles, and by adventure the Englishmen and Frenchmen met together by the foresaid wood side. The Frenchmen knew anon how they were their enemies; then in haste they did on their helmets and displayed their banners and came a great pace towards the Englishmen: they were in number a two hundred men of arms. When the Englishmen saw them, and that they were so great a number, then they determined to fly and let the Frenchmen chase them, for they knew well the prince with his host was not far behind. Then they turned their horses and took the corner of the wood, and the Frenchmen after them crying their cries and made great noise. And as they chased, they came on the prince's battle or they were ware thereof themselves; the prince tarried there to have word again from them that he sent forth. The lord Raoul de Coucy with his banner went so far forward that he was under the prince's banner: there was a sore battle and the knight fought valiantly; howbeit he was there taken, and the earl of Joigny, the viscount of Brosse, the lord of Chauvigny and all the other taken or slain, but a few that scaped. And by the prisoners the prince knew how the French king followed him in such wise that he could not eschew the battle:[2] then he assembled together all his men and commanded that no man should go before the marshals' banners. Thus the prince rode that Saturday from the morning till it was against night, so that he came within two little leagues of Poitiers. Then the captal de Buch, sir Aymenion of Pommiers, the lord Bartholomew of Burghersh and the lord Eustace d'Aubrecicourt, all these the prince sent forth to see if they might know what the Frenchmen did. These knights departed with two hundred men of arms well horsed; they rode so far that they saw the great battle of the king's, they saw all the fields covered with men of arms. These Englishmen could not forbear, but set on the tail of the French host and cast down many to the earth and took divers prisoners, so that the host began to stir, and tidings thereof came to the French king as he was entering into the city of Poitiers. Then he returned again and made all his host do the same, so that Saturday it was very late or he was lodged in the field. The English currours returned again to the prince and shewed him all that they saw and knew, and said how 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 well watched, and so was the French host.

[2] Or rather, 'that the French king had gone in front of them (les avoit advancez) and that he could in no way depart without being fought with.'


On the Sunday in the morning the French king, who had great desire to fight with the Englishmen, heard his mass in his pavilion and was houselled, and his four sons with him. After mass there came to him the duke of Orleans, the duke of Bourbon, the earl of Ponthieu, the lord Jaques of Bourbon,[1] the duke of Athens, constable of France, the earl of Tancarville, the earl of Sarrebruck, the earl of Dammartin, the earl of Ventadour, and divers other great barons of France and of other neighbours holding of France, as the lord Clermont, the lord Arnold d'Audrehem, marshal of France, the lord of Saint-Venant, the lord John of Landas, the lord Eustace Ribemont, the lord Fiennes, the lord Geoffrey of Charny, the lord Chatillon, the lord of Sully, the lord of Nesle, sir Robert Duras and divers other; all these with the king went to counsel. Then finally it was ordained that all manner of men should draw into the field, and every lord to display his banner and to set forth in the name of God and Saint Denis: 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 a been seen great nobless of fair harness 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. Then it was ordained by the advice of the constable and marshals to be made three battles, and in each ward sixteen thousand men of arms all mustered and passed for men of arms. The first battle the duke of Orleans to govern, with thirty-six banners and twice as many pennons, the second the duke of Normandy and his two brethren the lord Louis and the lord John, the third the king himself: and while that these battles were setting in array, the king called to him the lord Eustace Ribemont, the lord John of Landas and the lord Richard of Beaujeu, and said to them; 'Sirs, ride on before to see the dealing of the Englishmen and advise well what number they be and by what means we may fight with them, other afoot or a-horseback.' These three knights rode forth and the king was on a white courser and said a-high to his men: 'Sirs, among you, when ye be at Paris, at Chartres, at Rouen or at Orleans, then ye do threat the Englishmen and desire to be in arms out against them. Now ye be come thereto: I shall now shew you them: now shew forth your evil will that ye bear them and revenge your displeasures and damages that they have done you, for without doubt we shall fight with them.' Such as heard him said: 'Sir, in God's name so be it; that would we see[2] gladly.'

[1] That is, Jaques de Bourbon, earl of la Marche and Ponthieu.

[2] 'Verrons': but a better reading is 'ferons,' 'that will we do gladly.'

Therewith the three knights returned again to the king, who demanded of them tidings. Then sir Eustace of Ribemont answered for all and said: '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 hedge, 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 afront. 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 be lightly discomfited,'[3] 'Well,' said the king, 'what will ye then counsel us to do?' Sir Eustace said: 'Sir, let us all be afoot, except three hundred men of arms, well horsed, of the best in your host and most hardiest, to the intent they somewhat to break and to open the archers, and then your battles to follow on quickly afoot and so to fight with their men of arms hand to hand. This is the best advice that I can give you: if any other think any other way better, let him speak.'

[3] The translation of this passage is unsatisfactory. It should be: 'Howbeit they have ordered it wisely, and have taken post along the road, which is fortified strongly with hedges and thickets, and they have beset this hedge on one side (or according to another text, on one side and on the other) with their archers, so that one cannot enter nor ride along their road except by them, and that way must he go who purposes to fight with them. In this hedge there is but one entry and one issue, where by likelihood four men of arms, as on the road, might ride a-front. At the end of this hedge among vines and thorn-bushes, where no man can go nor ride, are their men of arms all afoot, and they have set in front of them their archers in manner of a harrow, whom it would not be easy to discomfit.

The king said: 'Thus shall it be done': then the two marshals rode from battle to battle and chose out a three hundred knights and squires of the most expert men of arms of all the host, every man well armed and horsed. Also it was ordained that the battles of Almains should abide still on horseback to comfort the marshals, if need were, whereof the earl of Sarrebruck, the earl of Nidau and the earl of Nassau were captains. King John of France was there armed, and twenty other in his apparel; and he did put the guiding of his eldest son to the lord of Saint-Venant, the lord of Landas and the lord Thibault of Vaudenay; and the lord Arnold of Cervolles, called the archpriest,[4] was armed in the armour of the young earl of Alencon.

[4] Arnaud de Cervolles, one of the most celebrated adventurers of the 14th century, called the archpriest because though a layman he possessed the ecclesiastical fief of Velines.


When the French king's battles was ordered and every lord under his banner among their own men, then it was commanded that every man should cut their spears to a five foot long and every man to put off their spurs. Thus as they were ready to approach, the cardinal of Perigord[1] came in great haste to the king. He came the same morning from Poitiers; he kneeled down to the king and held up his hands and desired him for God's sake a little to abstain setting forward till he had spoken with him: then he said: 'Sir, ye have here all the flower of your realm against a handful of Englishmen as to regard your company,[2] 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 shew 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 he 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 of my people saved, I would gladly fall to any reasonable way.' Then the cardinal said: 'Sir, ye say well, and I shall accord you, an I can; for it should be great pity if so many noblemen and other as be here on both parties should come together by battle,' Then the cardinal rode again to the king and said: 'Sir, ye need not to make any great haste to fight with your enemies, for they cannot fly from you though they would, they be in such a ground: wherefore, sir, I require you forbear for this day till tomorrow the sun-rising.' The king was loath to agree thereto, for some of his council would not consent to it; but finally the cardinal shewed such reasons, that the king accorded that respite: and in the same place there was pight up a pavilion of red silk fresh and rich, and gave leave for that day every man to draw to their lodgings except the constable's and marshals' battles.

[1] Talleyrand de Perigord.

[2] The meaning is, 'Ye have here all the flower of your realm against a handful of people, for so the Englishmen are as compared with your company.'

That Sunday all the day the cardinal travailed in riding from the one host to the other gladly to agree them: but the French king would not agree without he might have four of the principallest of the Englishmen at his pleasure, and the prince and all the other to yield themselves simply: howbeit there were many great offers made. The prince offered to render into the king's hands all that ever he had won in that voyage, towns and castles, and to quit all prisoners that he or any of his men had taken in that season, and also to swear not to be armed against the French king in seven year after; but the king and his council would none thereof: the uttermost that he would do was, that the prince and a hundred of his knights should yield themselves into the king's prison; otherwise he would not: the which the prince would in no wise agree unto.

In the mean season that the cardinal rode thus between the hosts in trust to do some good, certain knights of France and of England both rode forth the same Sunday, because it was truce for that day, to coast the hosts and to behold the dealing of their enemies. So it fortuned that the lord John Chandos rode the same day coasting the French host, and in like manner the lord of Clermont, one of the French marshals, had ridden forth and aviewed the state of the English host; and as these two knights returned towards their hosts, they met together: each of them bare one manner of device, a blue lady embroidered in a sunbeam above on their apparel. Then the lord Clermont said: 'Chandos, how long have ye taken on you to bear my device?' 'Nay, ye bear mine,' said Chandos, 'for it is as well mine as yours.' 'I deny that,' said Clermont, 'but an it were not for the truce this day between us, I should make it good on you incontinent that ye have no right to bear my device.' 'Ah, sir,' said Chandos, 'ye shall find me to-morrow ready to defend you and to prove by feat of arms that it is as well mine as yours,' Then Clermont said: 'Chandos, these be well the words of you Englishmen, for ye can devise nothing of new, but all that ye see is good and fair.' So they departed without any more doing, and each of them returned to their host.

The cardinal of Perigord could in no wise that Sunday make any agreement between the parties, and when it was near night he returned to Poitiers. That night the Frenchmen took their ease; they had provision enough, and the Englishmen had great default; they could get no forage, nor they could not depart thence without danger of their enemies. That Sunday the Englishmen made great dikes and hedges about their archers, to be the more stronger; and on the Monday in the morning the prince and his company were ready apparelled as they were before, and about the sun-rising in like manner were the Frenchmen. The same morning betimes the cardinal came again to the French host and thought by his preaching to pacify the parties; but then the Frenchmen said to him: 'Return whither ye will: bring hither no more words of treaty nor peace: and ye love yourself depart shortly.' When the cardinal saw that he travailed in vain, he took leave of the king and then he went to the prince and said: 'Sir, do what ye can; there is no remedy but to abide the battle, for I can find none accord in the French king.' Then the prince said: 'The same is our intent and all our people: God help the right!' So the cardinal returned to Poitiers. In his company there were certain knights and squires, men of arms, who were more favourable to the French king than to the prince; and when they saw that the parties should fight, they stale from their masters and went to the French host; and they made their captain the chatelain of Amposte,[3] who was as then there with the cardinal, who knew nothing thereof till he was come to Poitiers.

[3] Amposta, a fortress in Catalonia.

The certainty of the order of the Englishmen was shewed to the French king, except they had ordained three hundred men a-horseback and as many archers a-horseback to coast under covert of the mountain and to strike into the battle of the duke of Normandy, who was under the mountain afoot. This ordinance they had made of new, that the Frenchmen knew not of. The prince was with his battle down among the vines and had closed in the weakest part with their carnages.

Now will I name some of the principal lords and knights that were there with the prince: the earl of Warwick, the earl of Suffolk, the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Oxford, the lord Raynold Cobham, the lord Spencer, the lord James Audley, the lord Peter his brother, the lord Berkeley, the lord Bassett, the lord Warin, the lord Delaware, the lord Manne, the lord Willoughby, the lord Bartholomew de Burghersh, the lord of Felton, the lord Richard of Pembroke, the lord Stephen of Cosington, the lord Bradetane and other Englishmen; and of Gascon there was the lord of Pommiers, the lord of Languiran, the captal of Buch, the lord John of Caumont, the lord de Lesparre, the lord of Rauzan, the lord of Condon, the lord of Montferrand, the lord of Landiras, the lord soudic of Latrau and other that I cannot name; and of Hainowes the lord Eustace d'Aubrecicourt, the lord John of Ghistelles, and two other strangers, the lord Daniel Pasele and the lord Denis of Morbeke: all the prince's company passed not an eight thousand men one and other, and the Frenchmen were a sixty thousand fighting men, whereof there were more than three thousand knights.


When the prince saw that he should have battle and that the cardinal was gone without any peace or truce making, and saw that the French king did set but little store by him, he said then to his men: 'Now, sirs, though we be but a small company as in regard to the puissance of our enemies, let us not be abashed therefor; 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.' These words and such other that the prince spake comforted all his people. The lord sir John Chandos that day never went from the prince, nor also the lord James Audley of a great season; but when he saw that they should needs fight, he said to the prince: 'Sir, I have served always truly my lord your father and you also, and shall do as long as I live. I say this because I made once a vow that the first battle that other the king your father or any of his children should be at, how that I would be one of the first setters on,[1] or else to die in the pain: therefore I require your grace, as in reward for any service that ever I did to the king your father or to you, that you will give me licence to depart from you and to set myself thereas I may accomplish my vow.' The prince accorded to his desire and said, 'Sir James, God give you this day that grace to be the best knight of all other,' and so took him by the hand. Then the knight departed from the prince and went to the foremost front of all the battles, all only accompanied with four squires, who promised not to fail him. This lord James was a right sage and a valiant knight, and by him was much of the host ordained and governed the day before. Thus sir James was in front of the battle ready to fight with the battle of the marshals of France. In like wise the lord Eustace d'Aubrecicourt did his pain to be one of the foremost to set on. When sir James Audley began to set forward to his enemies, it fortuned to sir Eustace d'Aubrecicourt as ye shall hear after. Ye have heard before how the Almains in the French host were appointed to be still a-horseback. Sir Eustace being a-horseback laid his spear in the rest and ran into the French battle, and then a knight of Almaine, called the lord Louis of Recombes, who bare a shield silver, five roses gules, and sir Eustace bare ermines, two branches of gules[2],—when this Almain saw the lord Eustace come from his company, he rode against him and they met so rudely, that both knights fell to the earth. The Almain was hurt in the shoulder, therefore he rose not so quickly as did sir Eustace, who when he was up and had taken his breath, he came to the other knight as he lay on the ground; but then five other knights of Almaine came on him all at once and bare him to the earth, and so perforce there he was taken prisoner and brought to the earl of Nassau, who as then took no heed of him; and I cannot say whether they sware him prisoner or no, but they tied him to a chare and there let him stand[3].

[1] The first setter-on and the best combatant.

[2] That is, two hamedes gules on a field ermine.

[3] They tied him on to a cart with their harness.

Then the battle began on all parts, and the battles of the marshals of France approached, and they set forth that were appointed to break the array of the archers. They entered a-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 aback and flang and took on so fiercely, that many of them fell on their masters, so that for press they could not rise again; insomuch that the marshals' 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. The lord James Audley with his four squires was in the front of that battle and there did marvels in arms, and by great prowess he came and fought with sir Arnold d'Audrehem under his own banner, and there they fought long together and sir Arnold was there sore handled. The battle of the marshals began to disorder by reason of the shot of the archers with the aid of the men of arms, who came in among them and slew of them and did what they list, and there was the lord Arnold d'Audrehem taken prisoner by other men than by sir James Audley or by his four squires; for that day he never took prisoner, but always fought and went on his enemies.

Also on the French party the lord John Clermont fought under his own banner as long as he could endure: but there he was beaten down and could not be relieved nor ransomed, but was slain without mercy: some said it was because of the words that he had the day before to sir John Chandos. So within a short space the marshals' battles were discomfited, for they fell one upon another and could not go forth;[4] and the Frenchmen that were behind and could not get forward reculed 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;[5] for when they knew that the marshals' 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 brake 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.

[4] 'Ne posient aler avant.'

[5] 'Which was great and thick in front (pardevant), but anon it became open and thin behind.'

And when the men of arms of England saw that the marshals' battle was discomfited and that the duke's battle began to disorder and open, they leapt then on their horses, the which they had ready by them: then they assembled together and cried, 'Saint George! Guyenne!' and the lord Chandos said to the prince: 'Sir, take your horse and ride forth; this journey is yours: God is this day in your hands: get us to the French king's battle, for their 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 Saint George, so he be well fought withal: and, sir, I heard you say that this day I should 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 of Saint George,' The knight that bare it did his commandment: there was then a sore battle and a 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,[6] and a ten or twelve of his men about 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; they ought to be indifferent: and because these men had done so, the prince was displeased with the cardinal, and therefore he sent unto him his nephew the lord Robert of Duras dead: and the chatelain of Amposte was taken, and the prince would have had his head stricken off, because he was pertaining to the cardinal, but then the lord Chandos said: 'Sir, suffer for a season: intend to a greater matter: and peradventure the cardinal will make such excuse that ye shall be content.'

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse