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Stories from Froissart







All rights reser-ved

Copyright, 1899,

Noriuood Press

y. S. Gushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith

Norivood, Mass., U.S.A.

Sir John Froissart in his Study receiving a Messenger
from the Court of France









Introduction .......

Prologue .......

T. The Battle of Sluys

Of the Battle on the Sea before Sluys in Flanders, be
tween the King of England and the Frenchmen

II. The Battle of Cressy ....

How the King of England came over the Sea again,

and rode with his army in three battalions through

Normandy . . . . . • . 1 1

How Sir Godfrey Harcourt fought with them of Amiens

before Paris . . . . . • .14

How the French King followed the King of England

in the Country of Beauvais . . . .18

Of the Batde of Blanchetaque between the King of

England and Sir Godemar du Fay . . .21

Of the order of the Englishmen at Cressy, and how

they made three Battalions a-foot ... 26

The order of the Frenchmen at Cressy, and how they

beheld the demeanour of the Englishmen . . 28

Of the Battle of Cressy between the King of England

and the French King . . . . .31

How the next day after the battle, the Englishmen dis-
comfited divers Frenchmen . . . -39
How the next day after the Battle of Cressy, they that

were dead were numbered by the Englishmen . 4 1


vili Contents


III. The Siege of Calais 43

How the King of England laid siege to Calais, and how

all the poor people were put out of the town . . 45

How the French King assembled a great host to raise

the King of England from the siege before Calais . 46

How the King of England made the passages about
Calais to be well kept that the French King should
not approach to raise the siege .... 49

How the Town of Calais was given up to the King of

England . . . . . . -53

How the King of England repeopled the Town of

Calais with Englishmen ..... 60

IV. The Battle of Les Espagnols-Sur-Mer . . 63

How the King of England attacked the Spanish ships
on the sea on their way from Flanders into Spain
and how he discomfited them . . . .65

V. The Battle of Poitiers ']']

Of the Assembly that the French King made to fight

with the Prince of Wales, who rode in Berry . 79

How the Prince of Wales took the Castle of Romo-

rantin ..... . . 84

Of the great host that the French King brought to the

Battle of Poitiers . . . . . . * 86

Of the order of the Frenchmen before the Battle of
Poitiers ........

How the Cardinal of Perigord treated to make agree-
ment between the French King and the Prince before
the Battle of Poitiers .....



Contents ix


Of the Battle of Poitiers between the Prince of Wales

and the French King . . . . . loi

Of the two Frenchmen that fled from the Battle of

Poitiers and two Englishmen that followed them . 112

How King John was taken prisoner at the Battle of

Poitiers . . . . . . . .114

Of the gift that the Prince gave to the Lord James

Audley after the Battle of Poitiers . . . i 20

How the Englishmen won greatly at the Battle of

Poitiers . . . . . . . .122

How the Lord James Audley gave to his four squires
the five hundred mari;s of revenue that the Prince
had given him . . . . . .123

How the Prince made a supper to the French King the

same day of the batde . . . . .125

How the Prince returned to Bordeaux after the Batde

of Poitiers . . . . . . . 1 26

How the Prince conveyed the French King from Bor-
deaux into England . . . . . .131

VL The Journey of Sir John Froissart . . • '35

How Sir John Froissart, Author of this Chronicle,
departed out of France and went to the Earl of Foix,
and the manner of his voyage in the company of a
knight of Foix . . . . . .137

Of the taking of the Casdes of Ortingas and le Paillier

by Peter d'Anchin, a Knight of Bigorre . . 141

How Sir John Froissart came to Casseres, and there
Sir Espaing du Lyon shewed him of the taking of
the town by the Armagnacs and again by the- Earl
of Foix . . . . . . . .148

X Contents


How Sir John Froissart and the Knight rode by the

river of Garonne . . . . . .152

Of the* wars that the Duke of Anjou made against the
EngHshmen, and how he recovered the Castle of
Malvoisin in Bigorre which was afterward given to
the Earl of Foix . . . . . .156

Of the Treasure of the Earl of Foix . . .167

How the garrison and Castle of Lourdes was cast down
and discomfited by the great diligence that the Earl
of Foix made . . . . . . .172

Of the great strength of the Bourg d'Espaign, and how
Sir Peter Arnaut de Beam kept his faith and angered
two great lords . . . . . .181

How in journeying from Tarbes to Morlens the knight
shewed Sir John Froissart of the beginning of the
war that was between the Earl of Foix and the Earl
of Armagnac . . . . . . .190

Of the great virtuousness and liberality that was in the
Earl of Foix, and the manner of the piteous death of
Gaston, the Earl's son . . . . .199

Of the State or Ordinance of the Earl of Foix . . 215

VII. The Battle of Aljubarota . . . .219

How for the war that was between them, the King of
Castile had aid out of France, and the King of
Portugal out of England . . . . .221

Of the English and Portuguese, how they ordered

themselves and their battalion . . . .226

Of the Spaniards, how they ordered themselves and their

battalions . . . . . . .229

How the French knights and Gascons, such as were

Contents xi

taken prisoners at Aljubarota by the Portuguese, were
slain by their masters, and none escaped . , 237

How the King of Castile and all his great battalion
were discomfited by the King of Portugal before the
village called Aljubarota . . . . .239

VIII. Orthon, the Familiar Spirit .... 249

How a Spirit called Orthon served the Lord of Corasse
a long time, and brought him ever tidings from all
parts of the world . . . . . .251

IX. The Death of the Earl of Foix . . . 265

Of the sudden death of the Earl Gaston of Foix, and

how the Earl of Chatel-bon came to the inheritance 267

X. The Invasion of England . . . . . ' 281

Of the great apparel and provision that was made in
the realm of France by the King there and by his
Council, for a journey to be made into England . 283

With what demeanour they in England beheld the

preparation of the Frenchmen . . . .288

How the French King and his uncles arrived at Sluys

in Flanders, to the intent to pass into England . 292

How the voyage into England was broken by reason
of the winds and of winter, and by counsel of the
Duke of Berry ...... 297

How King Charles of France and the French lords
returned ill-content from Sluys, where their provi-
sions were made to have gone into the realm of
England : and of the feast that was made in London 301

xii Contents


XI. The Capture of the Fleet from La Rochelle . 305

Of the battle on the sea between the Englishmen and

Sir John de Bucq, Admiral for the Duke of Burgundy 307

XII. The Adventure of Sir Piers Courtenay • • 3'7

How Sir Piers Courtenay came into France to do arms
with Sir Guy de la Tremouille, and how the Lord
de Clary conveyed him, and by what occasion he
did arms with him in the marches of Calais . .319

XIII. The Challenge of the Three Chamberlains . 333

How the Jousts of St. Inglevere were enterprised by
Sir Reginald de Rove, the voung Sir Boucicaut and
the Lord de Saimpi . . . . . -335

Of the deeds of arms at St. Inglevere continuing
thirty days against all comers of the realm of Eng-
land and other countries ; every man three courses ;
and first, of the arms done the first day . .340

Of the second day at St. Inglevere .... 349

Of the third day at St. Inglevere, and how the French

King was there present, disguised as unknown . 355

Of the fourth day, and how the Englishmen departed
in courteous manner from the three knights of France,
and thanked them greatly ..... 362

List of Illustrations

Sir John Froissart in his Study receiving a Messenger from

the Court of France ..... Frontispiece

The Battle of Blanchetaque .

The Battle of Cressy ....

The Pope in Council sending a Legate to
France .....

the King of

Sea-fight between the English and Spaniards

Englishmen assaulting a French Town

The Skirmish by the Woodside

The Battle of Poitiers ....

The Young Earl of Armagnac on the March

Froissart received bv Gaston, Earl of Foix

The King of Portugal charging the Spaniards at Aljubarota

Death of Gaston, Earl of Foix

The Viscount of Chatel-bon's Embassy to the Court of
France .....

Richard II. of England at the Head of his Army









1 10





XIV List of Illustrations


Charles, King of France, on his Way to invade England . 294

The Duke of Burgundy returning Home .... 300

English Fleet under the Earl of Arundel .... 308

Sir Piers Courtenay and Sir Guy de la Tremouille jousting

before the Court of France . . . . .320

The Three Challengers parading at St. Inglevere . .342

Deeds of Arms at St. Inglevere . . . . .354


" t I ^HIS noble realm of England," said the
I Earl of Salisbury, "hath been a long sea-
■^ son in triumphant flower." The words
were spoken just five hundred years ago, and in
every generation since then Englishmen have de-
lighted to find the colour and splendour of that
flower still glowing freshly in the Chronicles of Sir
John Froissart. The time deserved a lasting record,
and the Earl of Foix, who had the right to an opin-
ion, spoke plainly to our author of his opportunity,
" saying to me how the history that I had begun
should, hereafter, be more praised than any other,
and the reason, he said, why, was this, how that in
fifty years past there had been done more marvel-
lous deeds of arms in the world than in three hun-
dred years before that." Many histories have been
praised since then, and they have recorded many
deeds of arms, some, perhaps, as marvellous as
Cressy or Poitiers ; but this is likely enough to
keep its place among them all, for its truth is not
a matter of dates, and it difl^ers from all mere rec-
ords as widely as a forest in leaf difi^ers from a tim-

xvi Introduction

ber-yard. Nothing here is dry, nothing dead ; in
the hall we see the lords and bishops at their Christ-
mas dinner, the minstrels playing and singing, " the
knights and squires of honour going up and down,
and talking of arms and of love"; in the battle-field
the hedges, and dykes, the moated abbey with the
minster among the trees, or the " little windmill
hill"; in the church the "goodly hearse and well-
ordered " with the torches round it burning night
and day, and the dead lord's banner before the high
altar. Everything is seen; sometimes in a picture, as
when " at the foot of the castle they mounted their
horses and rode away," or when " the King of Eng-
land stood on the fore part of his ship apparelled in
a black jacket of velvet, and he wore on his head a
bonnet of black cloth the which became him right
well ; and he was there so joyous as he never was
seen"; sometimes in drama, as when the young
King of France irritates the old Constable by his
childish eagerness, or the great Earl, half in anger,
half in ignorance, kills his only son.

Of these Chronicles, thirteen episodes are here
presented entire ; they contain abundant matter for
comment ; but before I go further I must tell some-
thing of the story of the book itself, and of the man
who wrote it.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, Messire
Jean le Bel, knight and nobleman, soldier, sports-

Introduction xvii

man, song-writer, and reverend Canon of Liege,
composed for his lord and captain, Jean de Beau-
mont, a " True and notable history of new wars and
things befallen, between the years 1326 and 136 1,
in France, in England, and elsewhere." That work
was lost for centuries, and was only rediscovered in
1847, b^t ^t w^s famous in its time, and gave one
at least of its readers an inspiration and a career in
life. This was Jean Froissart, a young scholar and
churchman, born at Valenciennes in Hainault in the
year 1338, who had always, as he himself tells us,
"justly enquired for the truth of the deeds of wars
and adventures that have fallen, and especially since
the great battle of Poitiers, as before that time I
was but of a young age or understanding. How-
beit I took on me, as soon as I came from school,
to rhyme and to recite the above wars, and bare the
same compiled into England, as I had written it."
It was in 1361, that is, in the very year in which
Jean le Bel's Chronicle came to an end, that Jean
Froissart's first book made its appearance and was
" published " after the fashion of the time by being
presented to the Queen of England. Whether this
was a mere coincidence, or whether the elder writer
in some way nominated the younger to succeed him,
we cannot tell, for we know little of the outward
circumstances of Froissart's early life ; he has no-
where so much as told us the name or occupation

xviii Introduction

of his father. But for the rest of his days, we know
all that we need to know, both of himself and his
book ; we can see how he wrote and rewrote it, and
from time to time enlarged it : how much he took
entire from Jean le Bel, and how much he changed
or rejected, and we can follow him through the
courts of England, France, and Brabant, where he
collected his material from witnesses at first hand,
passing his time among the feudal barons and vet-
eran soldiers, living as they lived, admiring where
they admired, believing all that they believed and
most of what they told, and wishing, without doubt,
that it might have been his fortune to fight as they
had fought. He was constrained to make a better
use of his opportunities, happily for us ; tor Europe
was then a chess-board of little kingdoms, and every
kingdom swarmed with fighting men ; but poets
and chroniclers were few, and among the few there
was only one Froissart.

His first volume, of which I have spoken, was an
account of the battle of Poitiers ; and though lost
in its separate form, its substance is no doubt incor-
porated in the Chronicles as we now possess them.
It might well be vividly and picturesquely written ;
for at the Court of Edward III. he was able to
meet and question the very men who had borne
the brunt of that day's work, and he was a favoured
guest at Berkhampstead, in the house of the Black

Introduction xix

Prince himself. His admiration for the character
and achievements of the English is flattering to our
national pride, and we may believe that it was based
upon a fair judgment of what he saw and heard, but
the fact that Queen Philippa was his kindest patron
and a native of his own Hainault, undoubtedly
added something to the colouri^ng ; for many years
afterwards he saw the Court of England through a
golden haze of personal feeling. But he was at
least as impartial as an English writer would have
been, and he gives solid and abundant reasons for
his preferences. His portrait of Queen Philippa is
to this day undimmed by any adverse criticism :
" Tall and upright v»as she, wise, gav, humble,
pious, liberal, and courteous, decked and adorned
in her time with all noble virtues, beloved of God
and of mankind : and so long as she lived the
Kingdom of England had favour, prosperity, hon-
our, and ev^ery sort of good fortune." And what-
ever flaws old age may have brought to light in the
character of Edward III., in the days when Frois-
sart knew and admired him, he was a King indeed.
At Sluvs " in the flower of his youth, he shewed
himself a noble knight of his own hand." At
Cressy " 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 counte-
nance and merry cheer that all such as were dis-

XX Introduction

comfited took courage in the saying and hearing of
him." And in the flush of unhoped-for victory,
" the King would have that no man should be
proud or make boast, but every man humbly to
thank God." The Black Prince, too, in his youth,
before disease and hardships dragged him down,
was the true son of such a father, " worthy to guard
a realm." In battle he was " courageous and cruel as
a lion : he took great pleasure to fight and to chase
his enemies " ; but when he knew that the greatest
triumph of the age was safely his, and John of
France sat as a prisoner at his table, " always the
Prince served before the King, as humbly as he
could," and he cheered his fallen enemy with such
exquisite courtesy and sincere offer of friendship,
that even the French knights, sitting weary and
wounded at that bitter feast, began to murmur
among themselves " how that the Prince had spoken
nobly, and that by all estimation he should prove a
noble man, if God send him life and to persevere
in such good fortune." In the end God sent him
neither long life nor such good fortune, but that
one summer was enough to place him apart as a
figure of heroic splendour in the memory and im-
agination of his countrymen.

And it was not the Princes only of England who
moved Froissart to enthusiasm : we read with an
even greater and nearer pleasure his praise of the

Introduction xxi

men-of-arms and archers who did the hardest of
the marching and fighting: they were, to his mind,
ideal soldiers : ready and orderly before the battle,
cool and unabashed in the face of tremendous odds,
self-restrained in the dangerous first moment of
success ; generous and trustful in ransoming their
prisoners, to whom " they made good cheer," and
would " let them go, all only on their promise of
faith and truth to return again with their ransoms."
Such courtesy, he says, was not to be found among
the Germans, nor such steadfastness among the
Spaniards : as to the French he gives no direct
opinion, but puts into the mouth of the Flemings
a sharp saying. " We think they will not pass into
England this year, for the realm of England is not
so easy to be won : Englishmen be not of the con-
dition of Frenchmen. And what will they do in
England ? When the Englishmen were in France
and over-rode their countries, then the Frenchmen
hid themselves in their fortresses and fled before
them as the lark doth before the hawk."

In England, then, among these congenial friends,
he Hved, as one of the Queen's secretaries, for five
of the happiest years of his life. In 1366 he ac-
companied the Prince and Princess of Wales, and
in 1368 the Duke of Clarence, on their journeys
to the Continent. He was in Italy in 1369, when
news came of the death of Queen Philippa, and he

xxii Introduction

found himself thrown upon the world again. For a
time he is supposed to have turned to trade ; but
it is certain that the "first edition" of the Chroni-
cles appeared very shortly afterwards, under the
patronage of Robert of Namur, Lord of Beaufort,
and with such success as to give its author at once
a reputation and a certain livelihood for the rest of
his days. He passed under the protection of one
great lord after another : the Duke and Duchess
of Brabant, Duke Aubert of Bavaria, his son Will-
iam of Ostrevant, Governor of Hainault, Gaston
Phoebus, Earl of Foix, and Richard II. of England,
all employed or entertained him : Guy de Chatillon
made him Cure of Lestinnes, and afterwards, when
Earl of Blois, appointed him to be his own chaplain
and a Canon of Chimay. In 1388, intent on com-
pleting his Chronicles, Froissart made his famous
journey into Beam, and went the next year from
thence to Bruges; in 1394 he came back for the
last time to England, after an absence of twenty-
seven years. The new King, Richard, received him
kindly, but he found only one of his old acquaint-
ance still at Court, and soon returned to Hainault.
Tradition says that he died in 141 o, and therefore
in his seventy-second year ; and that he was buried
in St. Anne's Chapel, in the Church of Chimay.

His book, after being read widely for a hundred
and fifty years in the original French, came at last

Introduction xxiii

to be translated into English by command of King
Henry VIII. And here Froissart's good fortune
followed him even after death ; the work was in-
trusted to Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners, who
was himself a knight and veteran soldier, a descend-
ant of Edward III. and in character and feeling a
man so exactly after the Chronicler's own heart, that
his version, in spite of its great freedom, its often
careless grammar, and its obsolete words and phrases,
remains a masterpiece of interpretation, never to be
superseded. There is one other translation, made
at the beginning of this century and more commonly
known: its author, Colonel Johnes, was an indus-
trious scholar, to whom, for the sake of his learning
and enthusiasm, his longwinded and insipid style
may perhaps be forgiven ; but he cannot be heard
in place of a writer whose English almost every-
where rivals the beauty of his original, and who is
under strong suspicion of having added, in one pas-
sage at least, a touch of tragic dignity beyond the
intention of Froissart himself The ruined French
King, as he fled from Cressy, came at dark, we are
told, with but four barons round him, to the Castle
of la Broyes, and found his own fortress closed and
guarded against him. " Who is it that calleth there
this time of night ? " cried the Captain from the
wall. " Then the King said, ' Open your gate
quickly, for this is the fortune of France.' " Of

xxiv Introduction

the many manuscript copies known to us, not one
contains the equivalent of these words.

From this version of Lord Berners, then, the
present volume is taken, with such dovetailing
of separated narratives, substitution of intelligible
for obsolete words, and new translation of mistaken
or omitted passages, as seemed necessary to make
the book complete and easily readable. Pynson's
edition of 1523 and Utterson's of 1812 are for the
use of scholars only ; it is the general reader who
is here invited to take these stories on trust, one
only being a new translation,^ and the remaining
twelve in substance the work of Lord Berners, with
each passage given practically in full, and altered as
little as possible in the process of smoothing away
the stumbling-blocks. In them will be found not
only history, tragedy, comedy, fairy-tale, and ro-
mance, in a delightful medley, but many curious
parallels between our own and other times, and
some passages still more suggestive, bearing on
problems which belong to the life of man, and do
not really change with the passing of centuries.
From the beginning we shall be struck with the
evident persistence of national types of character ;
the coolness of the Anglo-Saxon in fight was not
more, nor less, conspicuous "down among the

1 The account of the Battle of Les Espagnols-sur-mer was not contained in the
MS. used by Lord Berners, but was added by Froissart in his later copies.

Introduction xxv

vines" at Poitiers, than in the squares at Waterloo;
Cressy, where the archers faced a horde of yelHng
enemies and " stirred not for all that," was the very
counterpart of Omdurman ; and the Englishmen
who " shot so wholly together " at Aljubarota were
the true forefathers of the gunners at Santiago and
Manila Bay, before whom the Spaniards were once
more, for all their pride and fierceness, " discomfited
without recovery." Frenchmen's ideas on the in-
vasion of England are still what they were in the
time of Charles VI. and of the first Napoleon : it is
still "the opinion of divers, that if they might arrive
all together in England, where they intended to
land, they should sore abash the country " ; the
comment is still true, " and so they should, without
doubt " ; and truer still the Duke of Berry's un-
popular remark, that, " though we be now a thou-
sand and five hundred ships, yet before we come
there we shall not be three hundred ; then behold
what peril we shall put ourselves in ! "

In these days we joust no longer, but still " for the
great desire that we have to come to the knowledge

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