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N my preceding book I have traced the events of the nineteenth years of the reign of Edward II, and have described his death. Next I must speak of the deeds of his son Edward III. After he was made king, for a while he was a ward of his mother Isabelle and the nobles who she had at first arranged to be put on the Privy Council to govern the state and to hear legal cases without the squabble of lawsuits. But Edward, when he first emerged from boyhood, shaped his mid according to graver manners, and when he was of an age sufficient to withstand the hardships of campaigning, he decided that that the Scots needed to be restrained and, if the fortunes of war were favorable, brought into his domain. For a few years previously, during the reign of his father Edward, they had often wasted English territory with impunity and, having constantly taken away plunder, were both put in higher spirits and enriched. Therefore he assembled his forces as quickly as he could and went to York, with all his subjects in high hopes. But here, while he was planning his campaign for the invasion of Scotland, a quarrel arose between the soldiers of John Annonay and some English captains, and some killing occurred. And, even if it was settled on the spot by royal command, neverthleess, since on both sides offended minds were nursing grudges, this squabble brought it about that the king’s entire endeavor came to nothing. For after a few days’ interval, when the king entered Scotland with all his forces and encountered King Robert with a small band of soldiers, and thought he could surround him from the rear, the front, and on both sides, and was hastening to dispose his soldiers in certain places, behold, the King of Scots was warned by deserters and went flying out of his enemy’s sight into nearby mountains. The king, chagrined that this chance for success had been snatched out of his hands by the deceit of his followers, went straight back to London, his enterprise unachieved, because he refused to risk his fortune again in vain, knowing full well that no soldiers’ quarrel can have a good ending. Then he sent John Annonay home loaded with lavish gifts, since he had deserved well of himself and his mother. And not many days passed before this John was responsible for the betrothal to Edward of Philippa, the daughter of his brother Guillaume, being in the flower of her age in beauty. And this kinship turned out to be highly useful for the English king, since this particularly attached the minds of the Flemish to him against the French, as will be told below. Furthermore, the treaty already made between the Kings of England and France did not long remain inviolate, since in that year, which was the year of human salvation 1327, a new cause for reviving their hatred arose, from which the great affairs which troubled both peoples took their beginning, and could never be ended thereafter. For when Charles the Fair, who departed this life at that time, had been the sole surviving male of the royal line, a contention about the French throne arose which is still debated, since the King of England claimed that that the realm belonged to him by assured hereditary right on his mothers side, whereas the King of France claimed that he possessed it by excellent right.
2. And since I have come to this point, it does not seem inappropriate to set forth the origin of this great controversy, so that this history may leave nothing in doubt, if that is possible. Philippe the Fair, King of France, fathered three sons by his wife Joan, Louis le Hutin, Philippe the Tall, and Charles the Fair, and two daughters, one of whom died in infancy, and the other named Isabelle, who married King Edward II of England, from whom was born Edward III, to whom my present discussion is devoted. Those three sons reigned in turn. Louis succeeded his father Philippe. He fathered a daughter, Joan, by his first wife Margarite, the daughter of Duke Robert of Burgundy. Joan was given in matrimony to Count Louis of Evreux, but she produced no children and did not live long. When he died he had left with child his wife, Clementia, the daughter of Martel, the father of King Robert of Sicily, and she gave birth to a boy named John, but he lived only a very few days. After this John, Philippe the Tall reigned, although some complained that the kingdom should belong to Louis le Hutin’s daughter John, a case particularly made by Duke Odo of Burgundy, the girls’ uncle. But might took precedence over right. Philippe died childless, having occupied the throne for five years. Finally Charles the Fair obtained the crown, and he died seven years later, leaving his wife Joan pregnant, and a few days later she gave birth to a daughter named Blanche, who suffered her father’s fate immediately thereafter. In this way the royal masculine line of Philippe the Fair ended in his son Charles. From this arose the contention between the Kings of England France, which, as I have said, remains unresolved even today. For King Edward maintained that the kingdom of France should come to himself as the legitimate heir, since he was the sole surviving member of the royal line who could claim Philippe the Fair as his maternal grandfather in the first degree of kinship, being born of his daughter Isabelle. And so at the first moment possible he dealt by ambassadors with the French nobility that they should pronounce him king. But his ambassadors received no welcome hearing and came home, the business unfinished, although immediately thereafter he began to style himself king of both the realms of France and England, and was bent on someday recovering his heritage by arms, since he could not do so by law. And even nowadays English kings use in such a way that neither in documents nor in daily speech are they called anything else. But the French, regarding as law this insult perpetrated by King Louis le Hutin a few years previously, proclaim that from their origin their sovereigns have been governed by a law prescribing that no woman should ever possess the crown of France. And so they crowned Philippe de Valois, the son Charles de Valois, the brother of Philippe the Fair, and it is remembered that the neighboring Flemish mocked him by saying in all seriousness that he was a foundling king, since he was not lawfully created. Hence we can gather that there was never any original law among the French by which it was forbidden for the inheritance of the kingdom to fall to a woman, as is especially shown by the evidence of Duke Odo of Burgundy, who (as I have shown above) exclaimed greatly when Philippe the Tall was made king, and did not cease pressing the point until Philippe had bestowed on him this eldest daughter and given him the domain of Burgundy as her dowry, thus winning him over to his side. And that this was most true is shown by this Flemish joke against Valois, that he gained the crown by chance, not law. And so this so-called law appears to be a modern lie by which Edward was cheated out of the throne of France, and, just as he laid claim to it by a right as good as the best, so now the Kings of England appear well within their rights to seek it. But let me go back to the point where I digressed.
3. At this same time died Robert King of Scots, who was succeeded by his son David. He, fearing Edward’s power and wearied by the tedium of a protracted war, thanks to which, he knew, John Baliol and his father Robert had been oppressed and had their lives made quite miserable, immediately sent peace-ambassadors to Edward, who was then at Northampton. The king heard them with an agreeable mind, and since he decided that at the moment a French war was of greater importance than a Scottish one, with the consent of his Privy Council he granted to King David both peace and his sister Joan. Some of the nobles, to whose hearts justice was dear, disapproved of this treaty on the grounds that it was dishonorable, saying that David had very wrongfully obtained the throne of Scotland, since his father Robert had gained it contrary to right and law. And so there was a cessation of arms between the English and the Scotsmen, thirty years after John Baliol King of Scots had been deprived of his kingdom by Edward I. In the same year died Walter Archbishop of Canterbury, in his fifteenth year of office, and he was succeeded by John Stretford Bishop of Winchester, the fiftieth in the order of archbishops, a man most learned in both canon and civil law. In the following year, which was the year of human salvation 1328, the king held a parliament at Salisbury, in which, after many things of benefit to the commonwealth were partly corrected, and partly instituted, in accordance with the opinion of its membership, as its last act the king’s brother John of Heltham was made Earl of Cornwall, and Roger Mortimer was created Earl of March in Wales. While Edward was thus intent on arranging his domestic affairs, King Philippe of France demanded that he swear his homage in the name of his possessions of Aquitaine and Ponthieu. And so he went to Amiens, where Philippe was, and swore the customary oath. And he spoke a few words concerning his right to those places which Philippe’s father Charles de Valois had formerly taken from Edward I and which had never been returned, so that the French king might understand his mind, and then he returned to England. In the selfsame year John Archbishop of Canterbury convened a synod of his clergy at London, in which, after some transgressions were expiated and many other things returned to the pristine state ordained by the Fathers, by which measures the state of the clergy might be returned to its former condition, all of those who had contrived the death of Walter Stapleton Bishop of Exeter and had been privy to his murder were excommunicated. As I have said in my life of Edward II, the Londoners had beheaded this Walter. Perhaps because he had a presentiment that he could not serve his sovereigns for long with his head intact, he had previously built two establishments at Oxford intended to endure for many centuries, in which he placed colleges of young men at leisure to study the goodly arts, the one being named Exeter College and the other Hart Hall. Meanwhile the king held a parliament at Winchester, in which his uncle Earl Edmund of Kent was accused of treason and condemned to death because, as I have said, he would have secretly freed his brother Edward from prison and restored him to rule. And so, at the instigation of Queen Isabelle, the king’s mother, who openly feuded with him, he was beheaded a few days later. Then in the following year, which was the year of human salvation 1329 and the fourth year of Edward’s reign, Queen Philippa gave birth to a son whom his father named Edward. At the time it was the custom both of kings and of private Englishmen to give their own names to their firstborn sons. At this time Thomas or Maurice Berkeley, one of the murderers of Edward II, was captured in France, brought to England, and suffered his deserved punishment. Likewise Roger Mortimer Earl of March in Wales was discovered not to be innocent of the crime of treason and was punished in the same manner. Meanwhile the king went on a pilgrimage to France in disguise, for the sake of visiting some churches to fulfil a vow.
4. While these things were happening in England, Edward the son of John Baliol King of Scots (on whom I have said in my life of Edward I Charles de Valois, brother of Philippe the Fair, had bestowed his daughter), who had lived in exile in France ever since his father had been deprived of his throne, relying on the help of his brother-in-law King Philippe of France, finally arrived at the sure hope of recovering the throne of Scotland. Having assembled no small enemy,he crossed to England, partly to test whether the king would allow him to travel through England to Scotland, which would be highly useful, and partly to make allies out of a number of nobles of the realm who had lost their possessions in Scotland at the time of King John’s ejection. The first of that number were Henry de Bellemont Earl of Athol, and Richard Talbot, both men of consummate virtue. And so Edward, joined with these and a number of others and feeling greater confidence, approached the king and begged that he be allowed to pass through England leading his army against King David, and promised to do so without doing any harm. The king, hearing his request, placed the matter before his Privy Council so that he might hear a debate about what should be done. Meanwhile he began to be troubled by doubt, because he had already regretted the treaty he had made with David, who had no right to the kingdom of Scotland, and so he had taken it amiss that David possessed the crown. On the other hand he thought that, were David to be driven from the throne, this would be a misfortune shared by his wife Joan, his own sister. Finally, in accordance with the view of the Council, the bond of brotherly love and kinship prevailed. For the king refused to grant passage. And yet, insofar as it lay with him, he did not wish to discourage Baliol from his enterprise, since he was not unwilling for the Scottish king to be attacked. For he had decided that, weakened in this way, David should someday be brought under his own control. When Baliol had heard his answer and understood his intention, even if obscurely and tacitly, he hired ships wherever he could and sailed to Scotland. Arriving at the Forth, when he came ashore, behold, he saw few soldiers spread about to guard the coast. Understanding this, since they were few in number here, while others awaited his arrival elsewhere (for the rumor of Edward’s arrival had preceded him), he disembarked as quickly as he could. And while the first to come ashore fought the enemy, all the rest unshipped in safety and joined in the battle. They fought heatedly, since the one side appreciated that this was the means to a quick victory, and the other that their safety was at stake. And Baliol’s men won the day. For, having received many wounds, the Scots retreated, crying out that the enemy had come. Encouraged by this success, Baliol made strait for St. Johns and assaulted it to begin a siege. Men came running to the commotion in such numbers that in short order Patrick Dunbar and Earl Donald of Mar, who were the governors of the realm since David was still a boy, appeared with the remainder of their army and headed straight at their enemy, who had encamped by the river Erne by the village of Dublin. Here battle was joined, and the governors, who had handled everything with negligence, relying on their multitude, suffered a defeat, losing more than 6,000 men, including Donald, their second captain, and a goodly number of knights. Having gained such a great victory, Baliol, acting on the advice of English nobles, attacked St. Johns once again and took it with no difficulty. And, seeing that the business was beginning to go better than he had expected, he proclaimed himself King of Scotland.
5. When King Edward heard of these things, he was very happy, thinking the time had come when he could subdue the Scots. So that he would not be blamed if he were to undertake a war, he began to say in public that the Scottish king was not bound to him by a treaty, since this had been made without his knowledge because he was not yet of legal age. And, thus avoiding the guilt of breaking the treaty, he hastened for Scotland. And when he came to Berwick he surrounded the town with a siege, and by pressing it day and night gave it no breathing-space. Alexander Seton, the governor of the place, a man of singular virtue, put up a stout defense while Andrew Murray, who had replaced the recently-slain Earl Donald as a governor, made inroads into England in order to draw Edward off from the siege. Against him the king sent Baliol, who had come to him a little earlier, who captured Andrew in a skirmish at Roxborough, having routed or killed his entire company. The Scots nobles substituted Archibald Stuart, a man both brave and prudent, in Andrew’s place. With the large forces he had quickly assembled he marched to the aid of the townsmen. Calling upon God to avenge the broken treaty, he fought the enemy at the nearby Halidon Hill and at length was defeated. Having gained this victory, King Edward returned to Berwick and pressed it more sharply than ever. Then the burghers, despairing of aid and being guaranteed their safety, promptly surrendered themselves. A countless number fell on the Scottish side, especially of nobles, among whom were Archibald himself with his brothers James, Alan, and John, and also Earl Alexander Bruce of Carrick and Earl Hugh of Ross. The number of those taken captive was about the same. After suffering this catastrophe, Alexander Seton was given to Patrick as his colleague in administering the realm. These men, seeing matters at home exposed to the greatest jeopardy, sent King David (who was then barely ten years old) to France with his betrothed Joan, for his safety, and so he could stay at the court of King Philippe until he was sufficiently mature to wage his own wars. This was the year of human salvation 1332, the seventh of Edward’ reign. But some of my sources give another reason for this war, and a much more truthful one, saying that King Edward waged war against King David because he had refused to swear the traditional oath of fealty to him, so that it would not be said that in this manner he had acknowledged the King of England to be supreme lord of Scotland. Thus Edward took back the town and afterwards captured some other places from the Scots, and set over them Baliol, who had obliged himself to him by oath, together with Richard Talbot. And, leaving the main strength of the army in Scotland, with a few of his men he returned to London as a victor.
6. Baliol, very much consulting for his own interest, held a parliament at St. Johns, at which a goodly part of the nobles met. Here, after the realm was reorganized according to the will of the parliament, all men swore their oaths to him. This done, Baliol began to make a progress through the region, strengthening places everywhere with garrisons, and then began to rule in all parts. At this point the governors, thinking no good would come of delay, quickly assembled a new army and attacked their enemies. The battle long hung in the balance, but finally the English were defeated in this singular battle, with heavy casualties on both sides. Many Englishmen were captured, among whom were Richard Talbot, who afterwards was exchanged for Andrew Murray. Hearing the news of this defeat, the king came flying to Scotland to avenge the slaughter of his subjects, bringing forces by land and sea (although a number of those being transported by sea perished in a storm). Edward spent nearly an entire year in Scotland and, having killed many of his adversaries, he reduced the greater part to submission. Having completed these affairs with success, he returned to England, taking Baliol with him, after an oath of homage was given him by the people (whose faith he had not yet sufficiently tested), and the government was entrusted to Richard Talbot and David Comyn Earl of Athol. After these things the Scots, who occupied another part of Scotland, appointed Robert Stuart and John Randolph as their governors. They, eager for freedom, immediately rebelled and, picking a suitable place for a fight, joined battle with David Comyn, killed him, and defeated his army. Hearing the news, King Edward came running into Scotland together with Baliol, and he widely pursued and slew many enemies concealed in forests and marshes according to their national habit, took back towns that had been lost, and either surrounded them with new walls or strengthened them with ditches. Among these were St. Johns, St. Andrews, Coupar, Aberdeen, Dover Mills, and some castles. All of these he strengthened with garrisons, thinking that he had taken precautions sufficient that henceforth the Scots would not dare be delinquent in their duty. This being done, since for many reasons he was called back to England, he decided to leave Baliol in Scotland. Afterwards the fighting went back and forth, now fortune inclining to this side, and now to that, until in the end Baliol, now having lost many places by force or by treason, and being pressed by a famine which was beginning to gain the upper hand everywhere, began to fear for himself. He appreciated that there was no way he could gain the Scots’ support, and so he thought he was obliged to return to Edward. And at this same time, with Edward’s sister Joan imploring on the one side, and on the other Pope Benedict XII, moved by the Scots’ entreaties and pitying their calamity, interceding in such a great struggle and bidding both sides not to carry they fight any further, a truce was granted for several months. These things thus settled, King David returned home from France, and found his nation entirely ruined, both by the wars and the negligence of the governors, and this brought him to regard nothing as more important than to strive by all means to gain peace from the King of England, so that he would never again be involved in so ruinous a war.
7. Meanwhile Edward had come back to London for the sake of having a levy and acquiring the sinews of war, something that appeared to require speed, lest procrastination prove harmful when the truce expired. He convened a parliament, explained the reason for the war, and asked for help. The members of parliament gave him a hearing, and decreed money for his time and trouble in waging the war. After these things and many others useful for the commonwealth had been decided, parliament decided that the wealth which was daily being imported into the island for use in commerce should never be dissipated. Therefore it was forbidden by law to export engraved or stamped silver or gold out of the realm to the Continent. The result was that foreign merchants were compelled to spend the money they made from their wares on other wares. This ordinance is observed even nowadays, being maintained by subsequent kings as something useful for the realm. Then the merits of many men were published, which should be to their great praise and glory. And so new honors were granted them. Before all others, for reverence’s sake, the king’s son Edward was made Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, and six earls were created. Henry, son of Earl Henry of Lancaster, was made Earl of Derby, William Bohun Earl of Northampton, William Montague Earl of Salisbury, Hugh Andley or Audley Earl of Gloucester, William Clinton Earl of Huntington, and Robert Offord Earl of Suffolk. This was the tenth year of Edward’s reign and the year of salvation 1335, the year in which Earl John of Cornwall, the king’s brother, fell ill and died in Scotland a few days before the parliament opened. And in this parliament Earl Henry of Lancaster was made governor of Aquitaine, where he went soon thereafter, with a goodly force of armed men.
8. At this same time Robert de Artois came over to England. And so that I may in my usual way make the thing more plain, I have thought it necessary to begin my account of the reason for his alienation ab ovo, as they say. Count Robert of Artois, a very brave man I have mentioned in more than one place, fathered Philippe and Mathilde. She married Count Otto of Burgundy, and Philippe, dying in his father’s lifetime, left a son, Robert, the subject of the present discussion. Then Count Robert died fighting the Count of Burgundy at Courtenay, and Philippe the Fair bestowed the title of Count of Artois on Mathilde’s husband Otto, although Robert protested that by divine and human right the heritage of his grandfather Robert ought to come to himself. But might so prevailed that afterwards the judges who sat on this case upheld the king’s prejudice and, contrary to what was demanded by law, handed down a verdict favoring Mathilde. Henceforth Robert began to wax indignant and complain in the presence of his followers that his ancestral domain, which the law merely permitted his aunt to enjoy as a dowry, had been wrongfully given to her while the male line still survived. Not long afterwards, when Philippe de Valois was summoned to the throne, Robert was especially vigorous in defending the kingdom of France against the attempt of the King of England to reclaim it, which he partly did because he was married to Philippe’s sister, and partly because he was confident that, thanks to Philippe’s royal authority, he would eventually reclaim his domain. But it turned out to the contrary. For Valois openly favored Mathilde and by no means would allow a legal decision already made to be rescinded. For this reason Robert was henceforth estranged from the French king in his mind, and, abandoning his wife and his two sons John and Charles, he went to Edward. Edward gave him a generous reception, and, since he was high-born, began to hold him in high esteem and use him as a partner in all his counsels, and not much later bestowed on him the Earldom of Richmond. Henceforth Robert did not cease urging the English king day and night to make war on the King of France, and thus he gained revenge for the insult. Edward had already been considering this war for some time, and this seemed to afford him the opportunity for success, so he decided to wage it as soon as possible, and to begin it in Flanders. For Count Guy had perished in a French prison and had been succeeded by his eldest son Robert, who had been mulcted of a huge sum by the French king, who was succeeded by Louis, his nephew by his son. Since the money borrowed by his grandfather to redeem himself had never been repaid to the King of France, and he had vexed his people with taxes to the point that they were plunged in debt, rich and poor alike, he was suddenly deposed and compelled to flee to King Philippe of Valois with his wife and children. Then the Flemish, knowing for sure that they would soon be fighting against the French king, elected as their captain Jacob van Artevelde, a man endowed with supreme powers of intellect albeit low-born, an energetic supporter of Edward.
9. At the beginning of the following year Pope Benedict, hearing that such a great war between the Kings of England and France was impending, as they were vigorously contending about the right to the realm of France, sent two legates to King Edward in England who, hearing the cause of the controversy, returned to King Philippe in France to make peace between them, if this could be done. After dealing with Edward about a composition, they hastened to France and conferred with Philippe about the conditions by which these controversies were to be settled. Present at the same time from England were John Archbishop of Canterbury and Richard Bishop of Durham, sent by Edward. Here, although the papal legates greatly strove to put an end to these things by their authority, no peace could be agreed upon, since the French king exclaimed that it was his business to dictate terms, not accept them. And so the legates returned to the Pope, their work unfinished. But Canterbury, together with the Bishop of Durham, departed for Flanders, there to await the king’s coming. Meanwhile he informed him of negotiations with the French king by a letter, and encouraged the people of Flanders, by all means securing its good will towards Edward by his kindness and largesse.
10. When Edward was given to understand that the King of France refused to condescend to accept any of the fair terms offered by the papal peace-embassy, at length he decided to seek by arms that which his enemy was denying him in despite of law and right, and conceived in his mind the hope of obtaining this all the quicker because of justice, since, as he proclaimed, he was being compelled to ward off an injury, not commit one. And so, bent on preparing this great war, he crossed over to Flanders as soon as he could with a great fleet. To avoid raising any suspicion with the Flemish on account of his arrival, he brought along his wife Philippa, that she would live among them as a kind of hostage. And when he came to Antwerp, he was accepted with great enthusiasm by all its nobles. First he dealt with them about waging war against the French, and then went to Annonay and asked his father-in-law Guillaume to make friends with the Flemish and join with him in a league against the French. Guillaume exchanged pledges of faith with him and promptly joined in the preparations for war. When the rumor of this spread abroad, immediately all the neighboring cities, with the exception of Tornai and Cambrai, which remained loyal to the King of France, vied in sending embassies to promise their help, effort, duty, zeal in all eventualities. The king summoned them to a council, and after he had deliberated about the gist of the matter, he thus replied to their ambassadors: “I have come here both for my own sake and for yours, so that we might join together in some plan by which I might recover my heritage and you may be relieved of the evils which are vexing you now. The sole source of these troubles and wrongs is the King of France. For he flatly refuses to give me that which is owned to me by right of maternal inheritance. He gives you the trouble which you share with your counts. Or do you imagine that he once demanded 200,000 marks from Count Robert under the pretext of a redemption for any other reason than to drain you of your fortunes? Since Robert himself could scarcely pay, it happened afterwards that first Robert, and then Louis, tried to compel you to pay that mulct. It is therefore best to resort to arms, if you prefer to remain in that liberty you inherited from your ancestors, rather than endure the slavery of the French, especially when with full assurance we can be confident that victory will be with us, because our strength is not negligible, and we can summon help both from England and from Germany. And so on my behalf you may bid your princes have high hopes and be of good cheer, and at the same time exhort them to perform that which they have freely promised. They may rest assured I shall do nothing without common consent.” To these words he added that every city should recruit a certain number of soldiers when the need arose. Dismissing the assembly, he entered into a treaty with each city, gave them his thanks, and sent the ambassadors home laden down with gifts. Among these cities were those which belonged to the regional league called in German the Hansa, for whom, in view of their ancient friendship, Edward confirmed all their privileges of immunity in a charter, and renewed the previous concessions of his great-grandfather Henry III and his father Edward. Having brought the Flemish into this league and joined them to himself in friendship, next the king brought into his party Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria. He promptly assembled his forces, and to gratify Edward made him Viceroy of his empire, an office the English king did not refuse, but did not wish to perform so as not to annoy Pope Benedict, since the Bavarian was his enemy. While Edward was staying at Antwerp, his wife Philippa bore a son whom he named Lionel. This was the twelfth year of his reign, the year of human salvation 1337.
11. Philippe easily understood all of this, being brought up to date by hourly letters and messengers from his friends. And so, expecting a greater uprising in Flanders, he began to gather forces from all over France and even from Scotland as quickly as he could, and to collect garrisons. Likewise he summoned to himself captains of high repute for their martial exploits, including King John of Bohemia and King Louis of Navarre, Duke John of Britanny with Rudolf of Lorraine and others, so that in short time a band of fighters had assembled. While both kings were acquiring new friendships, confirming old ones, and preparing their auxiliaries, the war began in Aquitaine. For Count Charles of Alençon, Philippe’s father, was the first to begin harrying English territories with his incursions. Enraged by this, the English invaded Saintes, took the town of Paracole, wasted the surrounding countryside, burned buildings, and prosecuted the war with a number of successful skirmishes. In another quarter Philippe sent a fleet to harry the entire coastline of England. It first sailed to the Isle of Wight, although the wind prevented it from landing. So for the sake of gaining greater plunder it put into the port of Southampton. Here the French went ashore and sacked the town. Then, sailing for the west coast of the island, it wasted it in the same way. But while some Frenchmen had gone ashore and strayed too far they were surrounded by a sudden assembly of locals and cut town. Some smaller ships which were grounded by the low tide were captured, but the rest got home with their booty. And such was the beginning of the war in France.
12. Meanwhile Edward had readied a great army and received auxiliary forces from the cities, together with hostages as pledges of their good will and loyalty. When the first signs of springtime appeared he marched to Tornai, and since it was a very well fortified city, lest he waste time in a siege he hastened on to Cambrai, having sent messengers to the burghers before him, hoping that fear would make them more submissive to his commands. But the citizens of Cambrai were so far from being obedient to the king that, relying on the French garrison within, they locked their gates. Then Edward, judging he should not leave a very unfriendly town behind him, decided to come closer and besiege it. But the Counts of Annonay and Artois advised him that at this time he should neglect a matter of small moment in comparison to the war against the King of France he now had underway, but rather he should do that which his soldiers were most prepared to accomplish, since there was a danger that their spirits would dampen and their ardor cool off if they were held back. Impelled by these arguments, the king broke off his siege and crossed the river Scheldt, continuing on their agreed route towards Peronne, a town of the Vermandois. While he was hastening there, it was announced that Philippe had brought his forces across the river Somme and had halted not far away. Therefore he headed right for the enemy camp and occupied a place suitable for encampment about three miles away. The next day by means of his heralds he challenged his enemy, who seemed to be ablaze with zeal for a fight, to battle. The French king refused to come to blows because his lords were dissuading him from a fight, using many arguments why it was better not to expose himself to danger and rely on the multitude of his soldiers. Rather, he went back whence he had come, perhaps understanding that in so important a business he could not rely on the foreign soldiers who made up the majority of his army, since any man can err on occasion, but to remain steadfast in one’s error is only the mark of a fool. Seeing this, Edward, who in his haste had made no allowance for rest and quiet, intent on defeating his enemy in battle rather than siegecraft, and for this reason had brought little provisions, returned to Antwerp. Not long after he returned from there to England to arrange his soldiers’ pay and manage other details, leaving the army with his wife Philippa at Ghent. This year when the king went back to England was the thirteenth of his reign, and the year of our salvation 1338. Then in a parliament convened at Westminster he so dealt that on his authority a tax was ordained for the people, which all but the clergy paid immediately. They were spared since they had paid greater sums on another occasion.
13. Meanwhile in Flanders (which at the time was the headquarters for administering, supporting, and moving forward the war), Earl William of Salisbury and Earl Robert of Suffolk went to attack the town of Lille with a small band of soldiers. The King of France still held it in pawn, together with Bethune and Douai, for the unpaid mulct once imposed on Count Robert. And at the same time they oppressed it with both a siege and an assault. The townsmen quickly sent messengers to Philippe asking aid, which he brought on time. But when the English, who had rashly thrown themselves in amongst their enemies, saw that help had been supplied to the townsmen they despaired of the siege, were routed, and the Earl of Salisbury was captured, a large number of soldiers having been lost. At the same time the French suffered an equal reversal. For in the still of the night an English fleet sailing along the coastline of Boulogne set ashore a goodly part of their soldiers. They suddenly fired the suburban villages, plundered, while the rest of the soldiers at the same time captured some ships riding at anchor laden with grain and machines of war. And so they fought daily, making inroads both by land and by sea, while in England Edward was preparing a new draft of soldiers, together with a fleet to transport them to Flanders. Informed of this by his spies, Philippe sent ahead a fleet of 400 ships he had collected from all the coastline of France, so as to prevent Edward’s arrival from after. Over this great fleet he placed Hugues Quieret and Nicholas Brochette, men most skilled at nautical affairs. They obtained suitable sailing weather, and when they were borne to the Flemish shore, they occupied the harbor opposite Sluise, which faces England and gained possession of the entire coast, with their ships stationed around it, so that the Flemish ships which were harbored at Sluise could not come to the aid of the English fleet when it was cut off or routed. Thus arranged, they awaited, watched for, and kept lookout for their enemy’s arrival. And when the English king, who suspected nothing of the kind, found out that with their swiftness the enemies had occupied the harbor before them, and that he had no road save the he they might open for themselves by steel, increased the number both of his men and of is ships, and prepared provisions for several days. And so, after 260 ships had been gathered into a fleet, they set sail on June 22 of the year of salvation 1339 from the east coast of the island, where they had assembled, and for all the following night they enjoyed a following wind. At dawn from the sea they espied the French fleet, which, as I have said, had previously occupied the port. Grasping the situation, the king immediately ordered sails to be lowered and the sailors to eat a meal and ready themselves for a fight, so that while they were making their preparations the sun, which stood in the east, might incline towards the west. The French captains likewise saw their enemy approach, girded themselves for a fight, and sailed towards them. They had come barely a mile outside the port when Edward was at hand with all his fleet, and gave the signal for his men to attack. When they had come to grips, both sides fought bitterly for a while until the wind, which favored the English, gradually drove the French ships into the coastal shallows, where at length Edward gained the victory, having captured or smashed nearly all the enemy ships. If we trust writers who appear trustworthy, in this naval fight nearly all the Frenchmen died, except for many captured nobles, while on the English lost more than 4,000. After this singular battle, French spirits were terribly shattered, but hope was given the English. When the king arrived at Ghent he greatly improved the spirits of the Flemish, terrified by the misfortune of the English captains at Lille. A little before the king’s arrival Philippa had given birth to a son at Ghent, whom Edward called John of Gaunt, and this increased his happiness.
14. After these things, King Edward came to the army, where renewed his treaty with Duke John of Brabant, Guillaume, the younger Count of Annonay (for his father Guillaume had died a few days earlier), Jacob van Artevelde and a number of allied German princes who had promised arms, horses, and soldiers, and threw themselves in to this war body and soul. This done he sent Robert d’ Artois with part of his forces to attack St. Omers, which was being held by the army. When he approached the town he encountered the French who were in the garrison within, and gave the signal for his horsemen to attack while he followed after in battle formation. The Frenchmen did not shrink from the fight: not only did they withstand their charge, they even dislodged them and compelled them to retreat. Then Robert came up with the remainder of his forces and renewed the battle. They fought until evening, but it is not easy to determine who was the victor. Some say the French routed their enemy at the first encounter and killed 4,800 fugitives, losing 400 of their own. But I find in English annals that Robert was twice routed, but in the end, when his officers quickly assembled the support troops he had held in reserve against this necessity, he turned back towards the enemy, and after he had perceived that neither their shouts, their onrush, nor their missiles had the same energy, a sure sign of exhaustion, with the greatest energy possible he launched an attack on the Frenchmen, and in the end threw them into retreat and inflicted a great slaughter, albeit by the kindly intervention of night an opportunity for flight was granted the French. Afterwards Robert returned to Edward, who had meanwhile marched to Tournai with the rest of the army and set siege to it. And although he had built a wall around it and persisted in his assault day and night, it did not help him a jot because the townsmen, reinforced by a strong French garrison, defended themselves stoutly, while during these events Philippe led forces into Artois, bringing aid to the men of Tornai. While the two kings thus stood in arms, separated by only a small distance, and meanwhile their friends shuttled back and forth between them concerning peace, John d’ Annonay or his nephew Guillaume (it is unclear which he was) hastened with a strong English force to the strongly fortified town of St. Arne, and wherever he went he wasted, depleted, and burned with steel and fire. When he arrived there, he attacked it so forcefully that he took it by storm and sacked it, and after sacking it he fired it. This business done both successfully and quickly, he raced through all the nearby countryside, from which he took a large amount of cattle and grain. Meanwhile Edward was pressing the burghers of Tournai to the point that nothing seemed more desirable to him than the surrender of its townsmen, when they sent messengers to Philippe indicating that they could withstand the siege no longer unless he immediately sent aid. Hearing this, the French king moved on Tournai, and encamped three miles from the enemy encampment. A little later there would, no doubt, have been a singular battle between the two kings, if a twelve months’ truce had not intervened. Its conditions were that the French king should hand back to the King of England some towns in Aquitaine captured in time of war, and forgive the Flemish their outstanding debt for the great amount of money spent on Count Robert, their most important demand. And so, matters thus settled for the time being, Count Louis was at length restored in Flanders, and Philippe went home, while Edward retired back to Ghent, and not much later to England. this was the year of human salvation 1340, the fifteenth of Edward’s reign.
15. At this time a parliament was held. In it many magistrates who had not done their duty or had mistreated the people were disgraced, deprived of their office, and fined, and they were replaced by far more upright men. In the same year died William Melton Archbishop of York, who was succeeded by another William, surnamed Zouche, the forty-third archbishop. In the following year David King of Scots entered into some confused skirmishes with the neighboring English, having been made more arrogant by his new friendship with the King of France. For when King Philippe saw that seeking his French heritage was going to make the English king a lasting enemy, he thought it very timely to have the Scots King, who was his kinsman, for a friend, to use him as an arrow which he could shoot at the English king when he wanted. Therefore, disregarding his kinship with Edward Baliol, he entered into league with David and strove to aid him with his wealth. Henceforth the Kings of France have sedulously imitated Philippe’s example, so that they have taken the Kings of Scotland into their friendship, cherished them, protected them, and always regarded their affairs as conjoined. And the King of Scots, enhanced by this kindness, even now maintains peace with, or wages war against, the King of England according to the beck and call of the King of France, since he is always prepared to do that which greatly advantageous for his nation. And the King of France continually relies on Scottish soldiers, and likewise allows other Scotsmen to pursue commerce in French territories, and to gain honors and obtain dignities just as if they were Frenchmen. But I would say that this friendship can be traced back to King Achaius, as I have shown elsewhere, who joined himself to Charlemagne in an enduring pact, so that this later one was not made but rather renewed. Now I go back to principal things. Not much later David lost his nerve and asked Edward for another truce as humbly as he could, and at the same time arranged that as a favor to himself Philippe would release Earl William of Salisbury, who, as I have shown above, was his captive. Because of this King Edward was appeased, and at the same time he was distracted by more important things, so he granted David a truce for several months.
16. At this same time war suddenly broke out in Britanny. The reason for this war was this. John, his nephew by his son Rufus, succeeded Duke Peter, whom I have often mentioned above, and, dying, left Arthur as heir to his dignity. Arthur by his first wife Beatrice fathered John and Guy, and by his second, Iolanthe Countess of Montfort he fathered John. Duke John III, Arthur’s elder son, died childless. But Joan the Lame was born of Guy. She married Charles, the son of the Count of Blois and Margarite, the sister of King Philippe. Therefore when John III was murdered a controversy over the dukedom of Britanny arose between John, who was Count of Montfort by maternal right, and Joan the Lame. She argued before the Parliament of Paris that the heritage should come to herself because she was Guy’s daughter, who, had he lived, would undoubtedly have succeeded his brother. He, on the contrary, maintained that right was on his side because he was nearer to Duke John in degree of kinship than Joan, who was his niece, and strengthened his case by pointing to the example of the domain of Artois, which had been settled a few years previously. Therefore the judges charged with ruling on the controversy gave the case a hearing and ruled in favor of Charles, who pled his wife’s case. John refused to be content with that verdict, and proclaimed that it was made not by right but by the authority of Charles’ uncle Philippe. And so, thinking that he had no more need to contend about this thing at law, but rather by force of arms, he took the first opportunity possible to beg Edward for his help. Armed with his, the first the thing he did was remove from the castle at Limousin the money his brother had stashed there. Then he took control of Nantes and Rennes. Likewise he took Brest and its castle, ejecting Charles’ garrison, and finally he received the surrender of Vannes. When he found this out, Philippe, who favored Charles, immediately sent his son Duke John of Normandy against Brittany. Setting out with an army, he took Nantes a few days after his arrival. Here Count John was captured and sent to the tower of the Louvre at Paris. Here he ultimately died, leaving a son also named John. And the count’s wife Claudia, the sister of Count Louis of Flanders, a very noble woman who was keeping herself at Rennes, was terrified and earnestly commended her son John to the Breton nobles who belonged to her faction. Sending ambassadors to fetch English help, she had her son proclaimed duke. Edward, grieving for his friend’s misfortune, thought he must come to her aid. So he held a levy, outfitted ships, and sent Robert d’Artois to Britanny to confront Blois. Entering the region, he troubled, wasted, and defiled everything with his slaughter and arson. But, being knowledgeable about war, he appreciated that he required greater forces to oppose the enemy, and went back to England a while, together with Claudia and her son, and informed Edward of conditions in Britanny and about his strategy for managing the war. But Claudia begged with every entreaty that, with his usual liberality, he help her with his support, counsel, favor, and wealth. Moved by these things, the king decided to give his aid, but, to do so more honorably by right of kingship, he betrothed his daughter to Duke John, and sent Robert, equipped with greater forces, back to the Continent together with Claudia. Along with him he sent the Earl of Salisbury and John Bourchier, a man excellent for his prudence as well as his fortitude. They sailed with a favoring wind, and as soon as they touched Britanny, behold, they were confronted by a French fleet, strong with men and arms. A battle broke out, and they fought on equal terms. On the following day, having landed their army, Robert attacked Vannes and compelled it to surrender. A while afterward Charles of Blois with a powerful army recovered the city of Vannes, having battered down one of its gates. The English escaped through other gates and retired to Rennes, many of them having been killed or captured. There Robert d’Artois received an excruciatingly painful wound and died a few days later. He had been in high standing with the king, and his death inflicted a great loss on the English cause. Hearing of this defeat, King Edward straightway crossed to Britanny and besieged Nantes, where Charles was keeping himself. But since they were defended by a strong garrison, so as not to waste his time on a siege he departed, taking and sacking the town of Dinant. This done, he hastened to besiege Vannes, and while he was attacking it with vigor Duke John of Normandy appeared with a great army, encamped nearby, and girded himself for a battle. At that point Pope Clement VI, who had replaced the dead Benedict and was sitting at Avignon at the time, dealt with them by his legates so that a truce of several months was renewed.
17. These things done, the king returned to England and immediately afterwards sent ambassadors to the Pope at Avignon, where Philippe’s ambassadors had already made their appearance. For the Pope, eager to make peace, showed he had great confidence, that he could bring it about that all controversies could be settled on fair terms, if only he were given the power. But when he had heard the arguments of both sides he despaired of a settlement and postponed the matter to another time. So Edward judged that this thing, tried so often to no good purpose, should be abandoned, and he thought only of making war, not because he shuddered at the very name of peace, but so that he could afterwards be said to have gained it by victory, not diplomacy. And so he energetically prepared his ships, arms, men, and provisions, that he might soon make his departure for Normandy, where he planned on starting the war, and at the same time he warned Henry of Lancaster, his governor of Aquitaine, to be in arms. This was the year of salvation 1340, the twentieth of Edward’s reign. Meanwhile Philippe was had the free time to purge his kingdom. He punished some adherents of the English with death or exile, including Oliver Cliffon, William Bacche, and Richard Percy, who had eagerly helped Edward with their wealth and that of their friends. The one man who managed to escape was Godfrey, a Norman, the brother of the Count of Harcourt, who crossed over to the English king. In another quarter Jacob van Artevelde was killed at Ghent by a mob, at the instigation of Count Louis of Flanders, and as a disgrace his body was left unburied to be eaten by wild beasts. Hearing of these things, nothing occupied Edward’s mind, irate and egged on by Godfrey, more than to execute a number of captive Frenchmen. But, remembering his humanity, he spared them, and released one of them, Henri de Lyons, on condition that on his behalf he invite Philippe to a single combat, that which he hot-footed it to do. The French king, who had been collecting forces from all over, was not reluctant. Meanwhile the end of the truce had crept along, when Lancaster started the war in Aquitaine. He, with Walter Mannie for a companion, a man of singular virtue, took up arms against the French, and when they had been defeated he took Angolesme, Villafranche, Rhiom, and St. Basile, together with some smaller towns. While war thus blazed in Aquitaine, Edward, fully ready in all respects, crossed over to Normandy. And when he arrived there, since he had heard that the region was empty of soldiers, he landed his forces and headed straight for Caen. Along the way he captured and sacked a number of towns, and for the sake of spreading terror he set fire to villages and buildings. The burgers of Caen had fortified themselves, and before its ditch were stationed Raoul, the Constable of France, and Count John de Tancarville, who held the tower built next to the bridge. So upon his approach, they attacked the English king, but they were easily driven off and fell back into the town. Edward, following, entered at the same time. Here a fair amount of killing was done by both sides, as the English king cut a way for himself with his steel, while some of the townsmen offered resistance, and others, who were weaker, were heaving down stones from the walls and pouring boiling water on their enemy as they spread through the streets. In the end they all surrendered and the king ordered the recall to be sounded. Here Raoul and Count John were captured with a goodly number of others. After the fall of Caen so much fear filled all the Normans that you could see not just throngs of men, women and children mixed in with their marching columns choking the roads as they fled hither and thither, but also farmers driving their herds before them, so that you would think all Normandy was suddenly being evacuated. You could also see townsmen surrendering themselves to the King of England, and handing over the keys to towns and castles. To these men Edward gave a very kindly reception and bade them be of good cheer, so that by this example of clemency he might entice others to come under his rule.
18. Meanwhile Philippe, who never wasted time when there were things to be done or seen to, desiring to repair the damage inflicted by the English king thus far, gathered great forces, including 12,000 mercenary archers from Provençe, prepared a fleet so he might cross over to England and divert the war to that quarter. He was led to this hope, it is reasonable to think, by the example of the Romans, who were not able to get their most bitter enemy Hannibal off their necks before Scipio shifted the war to Africa. But when he heard that the English king had invaded Normandy, of necessity he changed his strategy and decided that he must confront the enemy with the forces he had at hand. And after he had captured Caen, Edward, energetically pursuing his cause, since he was fully aware that victory lay in speed, left soldiers to garrison the town and immediately sent ahead Godfrey de Harcourt with a choice squadron of lightly-armed cavalry. His mission was to terrorize the people everywhere as an inducement to surrender, and to prepare provisions. He himself then followed along with the entire army, marching in the direction of Rouen, intending first of all to attack that city, the capitol of the region. But he learned from his spies that its townsmen, enjoying the protection of a very strong garrison, would require no small amount of effort either to conquer or to force to a surrender within a short time, hastened on to Pont des Arches, which is over the Seine. Hearing this was being held by an enemy garrison, he continued on to Poissy, at the same time sending out horsemen in all directions to plunder, kill, and burn. His purpose was to move the King of France, who was at St. Germain near Paris with his army, by the losses and compel him to come to the coastal region. Here he had many reasons for thinking it better to come to grips with the enemy, particularly that there a steady stream of reinforcements was flowing from England, and because his soldiers, encumbered with plunder and wearied with their long marching, seemed unwilling to go farther. Therefore his horsemen, ranging far and wide, did much killing and collected much booty. When the king came to Poissy, he found the bridge there cut down by the enemy. And so, pitching his camp, he began to rebuild the bridge. At that time his delay was especially ruinous for the local people, since in the meantime he foully wasted the surrounding countryside. And so at length, the bridge repaired, he marched into the region of Beauvais, from where he hastened on to besiege Calais. Meanwhile Philippe had broken camp and began gradually to pursue his enemy, at the same time searching for a suitable battlefield. For he was the kind of man who pretended to be in high spirits, and to display this the better he acted in his own right, little relying on the counsel of others, in the manner that (as the proverb has it) a man is sickened by food chewed by another man’s teeth. But this greatness of spirit, either because his mind foresaw nothing good, or because he was in truth a timid man, never revealed itself in a battle with the English king, as will become clear below. But let me return to my subject.
19. Therefore Philippe, learning by his spies that Edward had arrived in the region of Beauvais and was hastening on towards the sea, thought he was fleeing and therefore hoped victory was in his grasp. So he marched to Abbeville, so he might attack to his enemy who, hearing of his arrival, had set off for Arnes, a village on the bank of the Somme. And to prevent his quick crossing, he sent ahead Godemar, an excellent captain, with a large band of soldiers to occupy the far bank and prevent the English king from crossing. Edward learned of Philippe’s arrival and discovered a safe ford to cross the river, brought across all his forces, since Godemar did not dare oppose him. Then he headed strait for Crecy, a town in the district of Ponthieu. Having encamped there, he brought his army drawn up in a triple line of battle. As was his habit, he placed his archers in the front, his horsemen in the second, under the command of Edward Prince of Wales, and he him himself held the third with the main strength of his soldiers. Urging his individual captains that every man should fight bravely, he sat under his standards awaiting the arrival of the King of France. Philippe followed his enemy and, having crossed the river, encamped three miles away from the English camp, under the impression he was farther away. But when he discovered he had come so far that he must either fight or retreat in disgrace, and when at the same time his scouts informed him that with his forces in battle array Edward had turned back to the plain that lay between their camps in order to draw him into a fight, then of necessity he was obliged to bring out his army sooner than he had planned. He placed his Genoese crossbow in the front, who employed crossbows, in which he placed his greatest trust. Then he made straight for the battlefield on that very day, which was August 23. The signal for battle was given on both sides. The Genoese bent their bows and began their fight. The English received their first volley with their shields. Then they shot such a dense cloud of arrows that the disrupted Genoese lacked the space to draw their bows, and were so harried that in the end they were obliged to retreat. Seeing this, Philippe was moved by both anger and fear, and he commanded his knights to make a charge right through the Genoese to get at the English. But these too were so easily killed by arrows that Prince Edward met them with his cavalry and easily routed them. Then out of hope for victory the bowmen, virtually the only English who fought, pressed the enemy with even more frequent volleys and in a single moment destroyed their entire army. Thus the French were thrown into flight and were either killed or capture. On the following night Philippe, comprehending the massacre of his men, retired to Amiens with a few followers. About 30,000 Frenchmen died in that battle, including such leading men as King John of Bohemia, Count Charles of Alençon, Philippe’s brother, and likewise the two Louis, the Duke of Lorraine and the Count of Flanders, together with many others. And in that fight died Godfrey, brother to the Count de Harcourt, and so, lamenting his lot, the count later returned to Philippe and obtained his pardon. It was a marvelous thing that such a great and mighty army was conquered almost exclusively by English archers, so skilled with the bow is your Englishman.
20. Having gained such a great victory, Edward enthusiastically praised his soldiers’ virtue and granted them all the plunder. Then, the dead having been buried, he hastened to Calais. When the townsmen shut their gates and camped along the walls, he swore he would never leave before he took the town by force and killed all its city council, and as soon has he had built winter quarters he encircled the town with a siege. While these things were being done elsewhere, Duke John of Normandy was obliged to leave Aquitaine to support his father, and after his departure the spirits of Henry of Lancaster, the governor of the region, were so lifted that he immediately subdued the Les Saintes and Poictiers, then took all manner of plunder from Burgundy. Meanwhile Edward pressed Calais with a tight siege, blocking all its roads with his military patrols and its shore with his great fleet, keeping careful watch lest the townsmen have any remaining hope of obtaining help or food from Philippe (who was no repairing his army) by land or sea. And so the burghers of Calais, despairing of all help and overwhelmed by famine, in the end surrendered themselves to Edward. With the exception of their leading citizens, who came into Edward’s power, they were granted immunity and permission to leave, carrying one garment apiece. This was in the eleventh month of the siege, in the year of human salvation 1346, the twenty-first of Edward’s reign. The king dismissed some of the garrison which had been in the town, and held others for ransom. He ordered the execution of the leading townsmen whom, as I have related, he had marked down for death, but in the end he was overcome by the entreaties of his wife Philippa and granted them their lives. And with these things done, he strengthened with a garrison this town, which was fortified both by the nature of its location and by human handwork, since it has a caves leading to the ocean, by which it can be surrounded by water at high tide, rendering it impregnable. And he placed frequent watchtowers, so it would be free from all danger. Likewise he planted an English colony there, but he did this a little later, as will be shown below. For this prudent sovereign regarded this as a highly convenient place for his nation, both for waging overseas wars and for the transport of merchandise. For this coastal town, as I have written elsewhere, is located opposite the island of Britain at the place where the crossing is by far the shortest, no more than thirty miles. And so even nowadays kings guard this town as a castle of the realm with constant watches.
21. Meanwhile the King of Scots was solicited by the French king, and, hearing that Edward was enmeshed in a great war in France, he gained such trust and spirit that, wholly forgetful of the faith of his treaties, was not thinking about renewing the war with the English, but seemed to himself already to be the victor. Therefore, when at his first onslaught the English who had been left behind to garrison some places bordering on Scotland were either killed or put to rout, he burst into England and, having burned villages and buildings as far as Durham, ran throughout the countryside, and, led on by his greed for plunder wandered far and wide. For since its inhabitants were all now terrified, he was quite confident that within a short space he would gain control of it all. But, as the proverb has it, there’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip. For when the English saw that he had progressed with too little caution they hoped he could be cut off, and quickly scraped together an army composed of men of all sorts, even of priests, who were absolved by the necessity of defending their homeland. This was under the command of John Copeland, a stout fellow. They attacked the enemy and won, although with no small loss of their own men. The slaughter was such that few survived. After the massacre of his men, David was captured, together with some nobles, and sent to custody at London. After receiving this defeat, so as not to neglect their affairs, the Scottish nobility immediately placed Robert Stuart over the nation, and gave him William Douglas for a counselor, a man of singular prudence. They immediately assembled an army, and at the same sent time sent ambassadors to King Philippe of France asking for help, which he freely sent a little later. Thus they quickly assembled great forces and renewed their war against the English king. But the only thought of resisting until their king could be redeemed from the enemy in accordance with fair conditions. So much killing was done by both sides, with outcomes and men’s spirits varying as their fortune rose and fell. And such was the condition of Scotland.
22. At about the same time, so that everything might smile upon the King of England and men might imagine him to be in heaven, Charles of Blois was taken prisoner, together with his sons John and Guy, by the royal garrison that had been left to protect John, the son of the Count of Montfort. But not long thereafter he was released on specific conditions at the intervention of Queen Philippa. But his sons remained in custody. While fortune thus afflicted French affairs, and Edward was still lingering at Calais, legates arrived from Pope Clement, and at their instigation a twelve months’ truce was arranged between the kings. The agreement about this truce occurred in the year of salvation 1346. In this same year Edward appointed Almerico, an Italian and a citizen of Pavia, governor of Calais and made a triumphant return to England. Immediately thereafter both France and England were ravaged, first by famine, and then by a plague that consumed a countless number of men. At this same time died John Archbishop of Canterbury. Even now some of his wholesome decrees for the priesthood survive. He was replaced by John Offord, a man no less distinguished for his learning, who survived no more than ten months. His successor was Thomas, who lived no longer than a year. Finally Simon Islip was created Archbishop of Canterbury by Clement VI, the fifth-third in the line of archbishops. And not long thereafter William Archbishop of York passed away, who was succeeded by John de Thoresby, the forty-fourth in his line.
23. Meanwhile Philippe, beset with so many woes at once, consulted with his advisors about an invasion of England, being near-certain that he had no other way to compensate for his losses, and he calculated this thing only by the measure of his nation’s advantage, not his personal risk. But, oppressed with so many concerns, he fell ill and died. He was succeeded by his son Duke John of Normandy. The start of his reign was happily marked by the novel honor of the Dauphin. For at that time Prince Humbert of Dauphin died childless, in his testament appointing the King of France his heir. John’s son Charles was created the first Dauphin, and so arose the custom of calling the king’s oldest son and heir apparent was the Dauphin. The Allobroges once possessed this part of Gaul, the capital of which is the very populated city of Vienne. On the other hand, the fate of Raoul, the Constable of France, gave John’s reign a most inauspicious start. For he was captured at Caen and released by the English King. When he returned home, he was beheaded for an unknown reason, and soon thereafter, when Geoffrey Charne, the governor of St. Omers, tried to buy back Caen from Almerico of Pavia, this worked to the purchaser’s harm. For Geoffrey was deluded by his empty hope, and when he arrived to take possession of the town he was captured and taken to England. But the King of England had better success, who in those same days conquered Guienne, a town not far from Caen, with its castle. French historians say the governor of the castle was bribed into betraying the town to his enemies. But English writers record the tradition that a certain English captive being held within the castle showed the way to his countrymen after his guards fell asleep, and at night they climbed the wall, taking both town and castle. But since the truce had not yet expired, it was shameful for the English to have violated it. And so, when the French afterwards expostulated about the injury, the English responded with the Thracian lie that nothing in the sanctity of a truce allows a purchase. In my book on adages I have explained that a “Thracian lie” is a proverb for a sly violation of trust. After Philippe’s death, at the request of the Pope a two years’ truce was arranged between Edward and King John.
24. During the time of the truce, intent on affairs at home, King Edward held a parliament at Westminster. In which, after the state of the commonwealth had been put in an improved condition, Earl Henry of Lancaster and Derby was promoted to a Duke, and Ralph Stafford was made Earl of Stanford. And the king founded the Order of the Garter, which later acquired such honor that the greatest of kings were unashamed to enter that order. There are twenty-six Knights of the Garter (such they are called), in such a way that, when one dies, another man is elected by the others to take his place, and the King of England is deemed to be their head. They employ a blue gown, and a little above their left knee they wear a buckled garter ornamented with gems and gold, from which the order takes its name. And the garter bears this French inscription, Honi soit qui mal y pense, i. e., Shame on him who thinks evil. The order is consecrated to St. George, being the patron of warriors, and so every year on his saint’s day they worship him with much pomp in a chapel at Windsor Castle, the home of the order, and then they celebrate the day with a lavish feast. This is why King Edward likewise established a priestly college to manage these rites. These knights have their peculiar laws dating back to the order’s foundation, that they mutually help and defend each other, that they never yield to disgraceful flight on the field of battle. They also have heralds for servants, whose chief member is called the King of Arms. These are messengers of war and peace, devise coats of arms for dukes and earls created by the King, and supervise their funerals. The popular tale goes that Edward picked up from the floor a garter that had loosened and dropped from the leg of the queen, or of his mistress, as sometimes happens. Some of his nobles saw this and made a joke at his expense, and he told them it would soon come to pass that such a garter would be held in the highest honor by them. Then not much later he founded this order and gave it this title to attest that his nobles had not judged him rightly. Such is the common report. But English authors, bashful and perhaps afraid of exposing themselves to accusations of lese majesté for reporting something so undignified, preferred to let it pass in silence, as if it were never seen elsewhere that something has had a small and humble origin, and subsequently been greatly enhanced in its dignity. Has there ever been something regarded by many peoples as more unsightly and contemptible than a shaven pate, which now is the unique sign by which we can tell a consecrated head from a profane one? Were the Arval Brothers created by Romulus held from the beginning in the high honor they later enjoyed? I have discussed both these things in my book De Rerum Inventores. What about the office of the censor, which Livy attests to have once been held in scorn by everybody, though after no great amount of time every order of the state was subject to its control? There are thousands of examples of this kind. And the true origin of the Order of the Garter should not be passed over in in silence, even if it had its beginning in love. For there is nothing nobler than love. As Ovid says, “Nobility lies concealed behind love.” And so I would scarcely say that the common report of this thing is vain for this reason. Likewise Edward, choosing St. George as the patron of his knightly order, gave it a coat of arms an armed knight riding on a horse, holding a white shield with a red cross, and he gave he gave his soldiers a white surplice likewise decorated with two red crosses, which they wear over their armor. So it is both beautiful and impressive to see English forces under arms, shining from afar like the rising sun, glittering, gleaming, so that the soldiers of other nations, clad in ordinary colors, will not be confused with them. Now I go back. As his final act, with the consent of parliament, Edward arranged for a tax to be imposed on the people for the wages of his troops, which everyone most willingly paid. These these being done, since Innocent VI, who had replaced Clement VI in the papal see a little earlier, exclaimed that Edward and King John of France were disturbing all the West with their mutual hatreds, and at length tried to settle such a pernicious quarrel. As soon as he could, Edward sent Duke Henry of Lancaster to Avignon to inform the Pope about the controverted matter, and to ask that by his authority he put an to the argument. John also sent his representatives. The Pope gave their case a hearing, and since only thing, the kingdom, was in dispute, and this could not be shared, he gave mandates as follows. Both kings should make and end of their intransigence and stand down from arms, nor make further trial of the fortune of war. For both sides had received enough losses, which ought to serve as lessons why they would fear further catastrophes. And thus the ambassadors, armed with these mandates, returned home and reported on their mission.
25. When the two kings heard these things, they were so far from holding their peace that they were far more ardent to go to war as soon as the season of the year permitted (it was now winter). Therefore Edward held a new levy of soldiers, and sent to Aquitaine with a large company of soldiers his son Edward Prince of Wales, now twenty-four years old, a young man fierce in his nature and reliance on his virtues. And as officers and counselors he gave him John Chandos, Robert Knolles, and Francis Hall, and likewise John Dandell, knights of supreme prudence and military skill. When he arrived there, since the truce had now expired, he burst through the countryside around Toulouse, devastating all that region as far as the city of Narbonne. Of all the forces placed by John as a protection of that province, only a few dared confront him, so terrified were they. And then he marched along the river Garonne towards Bordeaux, carrying a goodly amount of plunder. Meanwhile report of this catastrophe was carried to Avignon, where Pope Innocent was residing. He was wonderfully distressed that his mandates had carried no weight with the sovereigns, and straightway sent two Cardinals to Aquitaine, at least to soften somewhat Prince Edward’s ferocity and restrain King John, eager for revenge after suffering this recent defeat, lest while the one sought to avenge himself the other would blaze forth with greater wrath, lion-like. The gist of these mandates was, most importantly, that they kings should strive to attain concord between themselves, and the Pope had sent them duplicate letters to this effect. Meanwhile King John troubled himself with a double care. One was that King David of Scots might be kept captive by the English, from whom he had expected considerable help, and so was very aggrieved by his misfortune. Another was that he was troubled by domestic enemies. Thus evil rarely lacks its companions. For since he was endlessly demanding money from his people, King Charles of Navarre and some of the nobility, disliking this action, fomented great seditions in Normandy. But Charles and some of the nobles who sided with him were captured and beheaded, and John easily suppressed that popular uprising. When this matter had been dealt with quickly and to his satisfaction, he gathered together whatever strength France possessed at that time, and with it he went to confront the approaching King of England, declaring that the kingdom of France would either be defended with these forces, or else there was no other hope. Therefore, being of refreshed spirits and so in a fighting mood, he tolerated no delay and brought his entire army to the region of Chartres. And since he had heard that Prince Edward, who was then at Poictiers, intended to march to Tours with his army, he went there first. His hope was that if the opportunity was offered, his captains were ready, his soldiers’ spirits inspired, he might catch his enemy in a disorderly posture as it came in from its march, as happens in war. But Edward, observing that the French had chosen to engage him in battle, a thing he too greatly desired, encamped on the spot where then was so as not to tire his soldiers by marching hither and thither, and fortified it with a ditch. John arrived not much later and pitched his camp that no more than three miles separated the two camps. On the following day they girded themselves for battle in high spirits, and came within about a mile of each other. On that that day the papal legates appeared, proposing various terms for a peace to the two sovereigns, and earnestly striving to balm wounded feelings, abolish hatreds, and dissuade them from a battle. As his preconditions for peace the king demanded many dishonorable things so that he would obtain a few honorable ones, namely that the Prince of Wales would give four hostages and surrender himself with his entire army as if he were already conquered. The prince for his part said he was prepared to restore all the places he had just taken, together with the captives his held. Inspired by his evil genius, the king refused to accept those reasonable terms, with the result that such a great ardor for fighting seized them all that that henceforth the arguments of peace were not easily heard amidst the clash of arms. Then the legates, seeing that there was no more chance for arranging concord, sorrowfully left the camps. And so, with the signal having been given on both sides, the battle was joined. The French horse, stationed in the front battle-line under the command of Charles the dauphin, charged the English bowmen, who were stationed before their camp ditch, but were first slowed down, and then obliged to retreat, by the frequent volleys of arrows. Hearing of this, and seeing that the battle had slackened and the enemy cavalry had been turned, he promptly sent forth his own cavalry from his right and left wings, and he burst forth with the force of his footmen. Since their forces had been thrown into disorder and they were terrified by the flight of their fellow soldiers, the French in their last battle-line could no longer withstand the assault. King John was taken prisoner, together with his son Philippe and 1,700 nobles, while the Dauphin sought safety in flight. Up to 6,000 Frenchmen were killed that day, and a great amount of plunder taken, including silver, gold, and more than a hundred standards. On the following day, after the priests had said Mass and offered thanks to God, the prince called a meeting and praised his soldiers in the sight of his captives, bestowed rewards on his entire army, and then, breaking camp and treating King John with the utmost kindness, led him and the other captives to Bordeaux. To his father Edward in England he immediately wrote that victory belonged to the people of England and that the French army had been shattered at Poictiers, with King John captured. The king was overjoyed, as was reasonable, over this success. But when report of the victory spread abroad the happiness was such that men were nearly unhinged with joy. The king most especially ascribed this victory to God, and so made it his first responsibility to deal with Archbishop Simon of Canterbury so that a eight-days’ thanksgiving would be declared, as was done forthwith. This notable victory was won on September 19 of the year of human salvation 1365, which was the thirtieth year of Edward’s reign.
26. Not much later the prince brought King John and the other captives to England, and when their approach was reported, men of every age, children, young, and old, came running to see them. For everybody wanted get a glimpse of the captive enemies, to gawk at the rich spoils, and to drink in such joy with his ears. Their line stretched as far as the port of Plymouth in Devonshire, where the prince had landed. And thus the triumphant prince, accompanied by a great escort of noblemen, arrived at London, and his father met him at London Bridge, saying, “My son, I deservedly congratulate you on your virtue, and for the great victory you have won.” Then, embracing King John with much affection, he gave him welcome and bid him be of good cheer, and to be persuaded that he had been captured according to the rules of war and had come to men who would treat him kindly and liberally, since they were not unaware of the shifts of human fortune. The victorious prince entered the city, transformed with decorations thanks to the effort and zeal of Lord Mayor Henry Pilchard and the town council, and was received with the incredible joy of all ages and orders of men, everybody praising him to the skies. The streets were so thronged by the common men that the knights could scarcely move forward. Amidst this great joy and most welcome congratulation, praying priests came to meet the prince so that thanks could be offered to God, and they celebrated the following two days with public supplications. When at last they arrived at Westminster, King John was taken to the house of the Duke of Lancaster, and there kept under honorable custody together with his son Philippe. This house was once on the Thameside, where in our time Henry VII built a hotel dedicated to St. John the Baptist called the Savoy, on the site of a building thus once named by Peter of Savoy. For Peter was the father of Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury, the uncles of Eleanor, wife to Henry III, a man of singular virtue who came to his son in England, as I have shown above, about the year of human salvation 1240. Henry gave him a kindly welcome because of his gravity and prudence, and relied on his counsel for the conduct of his affairs, and therefore heaped him with so much wealth that in his place he built a magnificent house which he is said to have named the Savoy, after his nation. And the other captives were partly let go (King John undertook to pay their ransoms), and partly sent elsewhere for safekeeping. On the following day, and then for several days thereafter, there was a tournament among the young glory-seekers, and thus put an end to the public joy and pleasure. King John was present at the jousting, but in sad spirits, as could be told from his hangdog expression, such as befitted a captive. And when out of their kindness King Edward and the Prince of Wales consoled him and begged him to join everybody else in looking on this happiness, he suppressed his sorrow as best he could, and is said to have smiled and quoted that familiar verse of the Prophet, How shall we sing a song in a strange land? But after that catastrophe throughout France for the longest time there was nothing to be heard but the groans, lamentations, and outcries of men cursing that day’s fate. But the Charles the Dauphin thought that the proper way to console his subjects was not by mourning, but by the use of counsel, care, and energy to heal their afflictions, and so he dealt with the Pope to arrange a peace, at long last, with the King of England by his papal authority. And so not much later the Pope’s legates from Avignon appeared at London, exhorting Edward to this, and advising him to bear in mind that human affairs are such as can at any second be transformed into their opposites, and so to have mercy on King John. And, having it in his power to deal with him harshly, were he to spare him, he would provide a great example of clemency. So the entire ensuing year was consumed with peace negotiations. And when they could not agree, only a two years’ truce was obtained.
27. Amidst these things King England sent Duke Henry of Lancaster to Britanny to assist John Montfort, who was fighting continually with Charles of Blois about that principality, so that someday he might finally bring all Britanny under his control. When the Duke arrived there, therefore, he placed the citizens of Rennes, who had defected to Blois a few days previously, under close siege and quickly compelled them to surrender. This done, all movements of war suddenly slackened off. For Lancaster, learning that a two years’ truce had been granted the King of France, attempted no more hostile action and returned to England forthwith. At this time two false Franciscan monks were burned for heresy at London, after committing many evil deeds. The following year was notable for the death of Queen Isabelle, King Edward’s mother, a woman very deserving of immortality because nobody felt her power except for the increase of his good or the relief of his evil. And yet in the eyes of some nobles she was not without blame, because she persecuted her husband, although she was compelled to do so, not for the sake of harming him, but to bring succor to the commonwealth. And so, of course, she must be forgiven, if she was less observant of her private duty in comparison to her patriotism, a thing to which everything else should be sacrificed. Her body was buried at a Franciscan monastery in London. At the same time David King of Scots, who had been kept in custody at a castle at Odiham, a village of Southampton, was released after ten years’ imprisonment, having been redeemed for 10,000 pounds. With her many entreaties his wife Joan had obtained it from her brother Edward that he would finally be restored to his throne for such a small amount. For David was impecunious, having suffered a great loss in his estate because he had not dared impose a tax on his people. For the Scots are not in habit of supporting their king with their money as well as their help, no, not even in wartime. Nor had he had any income from his landholdings, since this had all been spent on the costs of war. This was the reason why it took so long to free him.
28. Meanwhile King John was taken to Windsor Castle, together with his son, where they negotiated about a treaty of peace, and its gist was this, that the domains of Anctones, Tours, Les Sainctes, Périgord, Quercy, Limoges, Angolesmes, Calais, Guisnes, Boulogne and Ponthieu, as well as the King of England himself, would henceforth pay no more tribute or swear their homage.And he for his part would renounce whatever right he had over Normandy, Anjou or Maine. And the King of France would pay a stipulated sum of money for his redemption and and then, having given hostages, would be free to return home. The Dauphin and the nobility of France refused to accept these conditions, and fighting resumed after the truce expired. And so, first of all, all of England was closed to Frenchmen. Then King Edward sent Lancaster ahead to Calais with four hundred horsemen and a thousand archers. Then soon, having prepared a great store of provisions that would last for many days by land or sea, he followed with a mighty army. And when he arrived at Calais, he began to consult with his captains about their strategy of war. Some were of the opinion that Count Louis of Flanders, who succeeded his father Louis, killed at the battle of Crecy, should be attacked first, and that then they should invade France. But the king, whose intention was to take possession of France by force or at least to destroy it wholly, did not approve this view. Before all else he turned his arms against Artois. And after it hand been conquered within three days, he then marched on Rheims, where he encamped and passed his Christmas. Then he continued to Champagne, and attacking Nièvre and Sens, he brought them under his control. This done, he proceeded against Burgundy, and threw such a fright into its citizens that they paid several thousand gold marks to prevent their fields from being wasted. He lingered there a few days to refresh his men from their efforts and, behold, suddenly legates arrived from the Pope, speaking again of peace. But seeing that everything was full of hatred, full of discords, full of anger, they sadly went their way, their business unfinished. Then Henry broke camp and marched straight for Paris, where he understood the Dauphin was with an army, either to fight a battle with him or, if the occasion offered itself, to besiege the city. When he encamped in the suburban countryside, he offered battle to Charles the Dauphin. But he, scarcely forgetting the recent battle at Poictou, did not dare risk his fortune. So the king, then making an assault as far as the city walls, having burned the countryside widely, led his army through Normandy and arrived in Britanny. His intention was to conquer it, make it his tributary, and bestow it in its entirety on his father-in-law Count John Montfort, who was his beneficiary. But while he spent his summer here, confronted with more difficulties than he had expected, so as not to tire his soldiers (he wished to use their fresh strength for an attempt on Paris), he rested a while, and then returned to besiege Paris and, pitching camp about a mile away, challenged his enemy to battle. But the French, who thought it sufficient to preserve their city, suddenly locked their gates and did not come out to confront their enemy, but rather stood in arms on their walls keeping watch, offered themselves for labor, readied themselves to offer resistance, and, stationing soldiers all over, were only concerned with safeguarding the city. Understanding this, the English king came to the suburban village of St. Marcel. But not even by these means could he entice either the citizenry or the garrison to come out for a fight, although his soldiers, riding up to the very gates, set fire to the houses alongside the walls, so much so that they seemed to be picking a fight with an exhausted man, as the saying goes. Meanwhile Charles, having abandoned every hope for success, sent ambassadors to Edward about a peace. The king gave them a kindly hearing, and, having heard their demands, replied he would grant a peace, but only on those conditions previously agreed upon with John. The ambassadors returned to Charles with this response. And Edward, thinking that the siege of such a great city should be postponed to another time, went on to the territory of Chartres, and while he was widely ravaging this, the admiral of the Norman fleet with a great number of ships suddenly crossed to the English shore and landed in the still of the night at the town. Attacking the coastal town of Winchelsea before dawn, he defeated all the townsmen, who were in every respect unprepared to defend themselves, and sacked the place, indiscriminately killing even children, but not without bloodshed on his own side. And when he saw that the rustics were gathering because of the noise, he gathered much booty and departed back from where he came.
29. While Edward was staying at Chartres, ambassadors returned to him from Charles and the Pope. Here they spent some time discussing the peace conditions offered by both sides, and in the end they came to an agreement. The terms were virtually identical to the previous ones I have already mentioned, with the exception of an addition (if we can trust writers of those times, who could have had access to the texts of such treaties) that the King of England ceded to the King of France his hereditary claim to the throne of France and all the domains which his ancestors had possessed in France, and likewise the King of France would renounce his title to all the French cities currently in the possession the English. He would also pay 300,000 gold marks by a fixed date by way of redemption, giving as hostages two of his sons, Dukes Louis of Anjou and John of Bourges, together with two other Dukes, Louis of Bourbon and Peter of Alençon, who would remain in Edward’s power pending the performance of his promises, with no fraud. Likewise, it was excepted from the previous set of agreements that the domains of Tours and Boulogne would belong to the King of France. These things thus accomplished, Edward escorted King John to Calais in the fourth year of his captivity, which was the year of salvation 1359, and the thirty-fourth of Edward’s reign. Here, after a little while, assembled the nobility of both nations, and when the treaty had been approved by the agreement of all men, it was sanctified by their oaths and ratified by authority of the Pope, so that it would remain inviolate in perpetuity, since all controversies were now removed and never seemed likely to erupt again in the future. And so, these things duly done, King John was let go and returned to France, while Edward received his hostages and went back to England. After these things Edward, who had now gained his desire and was relaxing from the cares of the wars, after having given thanks to God that he had gained so many victories at once, founded a chapel for the Order of St. George he had established at Windsor Castle, and there he set up a priestly college which he endowed with very ample landholdings. And because this was his birthplace, he also enhanced these royal halls and beautified them with an ambitious construction project. At the same time, with things quiet because of the lack of war, lest mortals ever be free of fear and dangers, a great pestilence arose, consuming many great men, and among the Commons they say the number of deaths was countless. This pestilence was memorable for the death of Duke Henry of Lancaster, for he was a man famed at home, admired abroad, and praiseworthy in all things. He left as his survivor a daughter named Blanche, who subsequently married the king’s son John of Gaunt, who by this marriage fell heir to the duke’s wealth. And Prince Edward married Joan, the daughter of Earl Edmund of Kent, who, as has been said above, was deprived of his head on suspicion of treason a few years previously. And since Edmund was the brother of his paternal grandfather Edward II, the closeness of their relation disallowed the marriage, which could not take place until the Pope granted an exception to the law and removed the impediment. By her Edward had two sons, Edward, who died while still a little boy, and Richard. Joan was originally given in marriage to her first husband, Sir John Holland, and had borne him two sons, Thomas and John. After this, the prince was created Duke of Aquitaine by his father, and, as soon as he had sworn his homage for this, he went there with his wife. At the time of his departure, about the first of January, a northerly gale suddenly blew up with such force that it overturned a large number of buildings, which was taken for a prodigy.
30. Meanwhile the king began to live his fiftieth year, which was the year of human salvation 1360, and, recalling the ancient custom of the jubilees, which is likewise celebrated by Christians every fiftieth year, he decided to employ liberality towards the people. But, to make the matter clearer, I shall briefly digress to say why he wanted to observe a solemn jubilee of his age. For Pope Boniface VIII had appointed the year 1300 as a jubilee, when he issued a general absolution once in a hundred years for the sins of those who visited the Apostolic See, in imitation of the Hebrew custom of freeing debtors from their creditors and bestowing freedom on slaves in a jubilee year, since they can truly be said to be freed whose sins are remitted. But in response to the petition of the Romans, Clement VI granted that jubilee years should be celebrated every fifty years, since no man alive would survive to witness Boniface’s hundred-year jubilee celebrated a second time. And so the king, when he attained to this same fiftieth year of his age, held a parliament at Westminster, and after creating his sons Lionel Duke of Clarence and Edmund Earl of Cambridge in accordance with parliamentary decree, he recalled exiles, spared traitors, opened the prisons after canceling the punishments of felons, passed some wholesome laws, and granted anew the privileges once granted their ancestors, popularly called the immunities of Magna Charta. Hence I should say that even nowadays sovereigns celebrate a jubilee of their age. For example, during Mass the king or queen clothe and give alms to as many paupers as there are years in their life on that day. Finally, in accordance with his wish it was decreed that judges, litigants, and the various officers of the court should speak French (or rather Norman) no more, as they had until now, but rather English, and write the records of cases, sentences, and other legal acts in English or Latin. This was advantageous to the people, since henceforth legal actions did not require the use of an interpreter. And in the same parliament it was decreed that only Englishmen should live at Calais. Immediately thereafter the king planted his colony there. The colonists were wealthy men, hwo made that place the busiest of the entire realm for trade in all manner of wares, but particularly in wool. This was the year of human salvation 1361 and the thirty-sixth of Edward’s rein. At the beginning of the following month of March, King John of France, fearful lest negligence interrupt the progress of amity and duty, visited Edward in England, giving many excuses why he had not yet kept his promise in full. While dealing with Edward for the freeing of the hostages he fell into a sickness, and, equally affected by this and his sadness of mind, he soon died. His body was borne to Paris with funeral pomp, carried on the shoulders of noblemen, and in accordance with tradition he was buried in the monastery of St. Denys. His son Charles V succeeded in place of his deceased father. At this time in Britanny, Charles of Blois was defeated in a singular battle by John Montfort, with his men being partly cut down, and partly routed. He himself died while fighting. And so at length John gained Britanny with the favor and support of the King of England. But Charles’ name is famous among posterity because of his sanctity, since he led the most innocent of lives.
31. Now at last leisure from wars seemed to have been gained, when suddenly fortune provided a new occasion for going to war, so that there should always be something to prevent an end of killing. For Henry, the bastard brother of King Pedro of Castile and Leon, a man endowed with a shrewd wit, since at that time he perceived the Castilians to be ill-disposed to Pedro because of cruelty with which he treated all men, and having had personal experience of his savagery, took refuge with King Pedro of Aragon. Here he received a friendly welcome and was given hope to acquire the throne of Castile, so much so that he decided quickly to assemble a band of armed men. For in his brother Pedro he saw no intelligence, no reason, no thought, no diligence — a man who was hated by the multitude because of his avarice, who made no attempt to win over his subjects by rewards, who appeased his adversaries by no artfulness or semblance of humanity. Therefore, having consulted about a strategy for waging war with the King of Aragon, who urged him to this and promised his help since he himself had been vexed by Pedro in a war, he hastened to France. There he gained as an ally Bertrand Gesquin, a stout fellow and a Briton, not against the will of King Charles, who was furious with Pedro for unlawfully divorcing his wife, as I shall relate below. And with Bertrand for a captain he collected a large number of those men who held in disdain the treaty lately made between the English and the French and had begun to practise banditry. Then he led these men against his brother, passing through the territory of Aragon. And so as not to rouse Pedro’s suspicion, he gave out that he was joining with others in an expedition against the Moors, for the sake of exercise. But the truth could not be concealed, and so when he learned of his brother’s arrival King Pedro, who had thought he had nothing to fear at the time, suddenly lost confidence in his strength, and, being in very deflated spirits, was unsure whether to remain or flee, since he thought neither flight nor fight to be to his advantage. But in the end, because he did not have an army ready to resist, he chose to seek his safety in flight. And so he fled to Edward Prince of Wales in Aquitaine, bringing with him a part of his treasury which he had to hand as a help to himself. He also brought along his three daughters, Beatrice, Constance, and Isabella, whom he fathered on Maria Padella, a handmaid of his queen, together with a son named Alfonso. By his own authority he had previously pronounced these children to be legitimate, and had commanded his people to treat them as if they were not bastards. Alfonso had died a little before his father’s flight. Pedro had fathered no children by his wife Blanche, the daughter of the Duke of Bourbon, whom he had divorced contrary to law and without any due cause, and soon thereafter she pined away and died. There is a story that Blanche, moved by hatred of her handmaid and rival, gave her husband a belt, and he discovered it had magical power, conferred by the art of some Jew, and for that reason disowned her, and thus lost the support of the French.
32. Prince Edward, sympathizing with Pedro’s misfortune in being deposed by the treachery of his brother, thought he should help the man, both out of his kindness and his desire of gaining glory, for which he had acquired a taste. But lest he appear to be taking to much on himself if he chose to involve himself in so great a war for the sake of an exile, as soon as he could he consulted about the matter with Robert Knolles and John Chandos. Then with their approval he wrote to his father in England, telling him that King Pedro, an outcast from his native land, had come to him asking help, and saying he had it in mind to restore him to his throne, but only if King Edward himself would decide this should be done. When Henry learned that Henry had gained the kingdom of Castile with French help, certain that, should he possess the kingdom for any length of time, he would become an adherent of their party, and no little moved by the king’s exile, commanded the prince to undertake this war with no delay. Receiving his father’s response, the prince was all the happier because this offered him a chance to exercise his soldiers, who, loathing nothing as much as peacetime, could scarcely be kept under discipline. After warning his soldiers not to allow Pedro to cheat them out of their salary, he joined with Pedro and, making no delay, hastened to Navarre, where he acquired Charles, the king of that territory, as his ally, even if he was intercepted willy-nilly by the French as soon has he began his expedition. Scarcely delayed by this, he hastened straight for Castile with a great army, and by forced marches arrived there in a few days. Rumor of his arrival had gone before him, and already thrown a great scare into his enemies. Nevertheless, Henry came out to meet the English, and, encamping at a place suitable for a battle, he sent ahead 600 light cavalry to wear out his arriving enemy by harrying them day and night. In a number of light skirmishes these killed about 200 English horsemen. But this happy beginning had a sad conclusion. For now the king had arrived at Najara, where Henry kept himself within his camp, and, offering battle, he led forth his forces in battle array. The Spaniard did not refuse the fight, and at first both sides fought with vigor. Then when the English got the upper hand, Henry fled on a swift horse, and Gesquin was captured together with many other French and Spanish captains. Among these was Count Guy de Denense, who was apportioned to Francis Hall in the division of the spoils. About 6,000 Spanish and French were killed, but the booty was inconsiderable. Having gained such a great victory, when the prince had restored Pedro to his throne, his soldiers complained that they were unpaid, so he began to demand their stipend, in accordance with their treaty. Pedro did not find his money where he had left it, because his brother Henry had stolen it a little earlier, and was unable to pay at the time. He concealed this for a number of days with his sweet talk and friendly manner of address. But in the end the reason for his delay was discovered, and they came to a new agreement that within four months King Pedro would pay half of the salary to the agents whom the prince left in Castile for that purpose, and the remainder within the space of one year, and in the meantime his three daughters would be left with the English as hostages. These things thus done, the prince led his victorious army back to Bordeaux. But this victory did not turn out to be Pedro’s salvation, for immediately after the prince’s departure he was overcome by Henry and put to death, and so his life had an ending worthy of his cruelty. Henceforth Henry occupied the throne, and this was the year of human salvation 1364.
33. That year was preternaturally cold, and for several days a comet appeared to the northwest. Its rays pointed towards France, as if showing that within a few months it was destined once more to be tossed by great upheavals of war, just as came to pass. At the same time Count Louis of Flanders, desiring to get in King Edward’s good graces, as if trying (as they say) to whitewash two walls with a single bucket, paid a visit to England, received a friendly welcome from Edward, and on his departure was given lavish gifts. This Louis betrothed Margaret, his single daughter, to Earl Edmund of Cambridge, the king’s son. But a little later he was bribed by King Charles of France to bestow her on his brother Philippe Duke of Burgundy. Tthis offended Edward no less than had the flight of Duke Louis of Anjou, one of the hostages, a little earlier. For having been led to Calais, he was given kindly treatment by the governor, and was permitted to go hunting for recreation’s sake. While at the hunt he strayed a fair distance from his comrades and hot-footed it for Boulogne. At this time David King of Scots departed this life childless, and was succeeded by Robert Stuart, the second of his nephews by his sister, who obtained the throne with good success, since even now that honor is retained by the family of the Stuarts. Likewise died Simon Archbishop of Canterbury, whose term of office had lasted seventeen years. This excellent father deserved well of the young men of England. For he was the founder of Canterbury College at Oxford, which today is most renowned both for the noble assembly of its students and for its diligent devotion to learning. Simon Islip was succeeded by a Bishop of Ely likewise named Simon. Two years later he was made a Cardinal by Pope Urban V, Innocent’s successor, and resigned the archbishopric. In his place this same Urban substituted William Bishop of Worcester, the fifty-fifth in the line of archbishops. This was the year of human salvation 1365, and the fortieth of Edward’s reign. In the selfsame year William of Wykeham, a member of the Privy Council, was made Bishop of Winchester. And this very well-endowed man soon founded a college at Oxford in a magnificent setting, dedicating it to St. Mary, although it is commonly called New College. And he granted it landholdings sufficient to support those equipped with the memory and ability to learn the sciences. William constructed this work to breathe life, as it were, into an image of his own self, in which good minds would be supported, and they would bequeath to posterity a replica of his own intelligence. Nor was he mistaken in this plan. For from that college, as from the Trojan Horse, excellent men have issued forth in every age.
34. A misdemeanor committed this same year brought many years’ worth of anxiety, so that some evil storm was always hanging over both France and England. For grounds for new dissension were given both kings from a recent violation of their truce. It is by no means sufficiently established to whom the fault belonged, if we wish to trust either English or French writers. For they sometimes combat each other in their writings no less than their respective nations do so with their brave armaments. And therefore, so I may not be said to have written something about so weighty a matter out of favor or hatred, I shall set forth the true reason for the violation of that sacrosanct truce which they report who have diligently written the history of their own times. As I have related above, after Pedro was restored to his kingdom and Prince Edward could not pay his soldiers their promised stipend, he returned to Bordeaux, and, so as not to cheat his solders, he increased his tribute on the citizens of Aquitaine and imposed a head tax on everyone. The citizens of Aquitaine were angry and indignant at this heavy and unaccustomed burden, deploring their current state of affairs, and for this reason seemed to be on the verge of mutiny if only they could find a leader. And then, behold, Count John of Armignac and Count Charles of Périgord stood forth, who least of all men were afraid to act against the prince. They immediately lodged an appeal with King Charles of France, and protested to the Parliament of Paris, as if the judgment of complaints from Aquitaine were still theirs to make. Meanwhile John Chandos and other nobles who foresaw that rebellion was likely to arise from this matter begged the prince to abandon this policy. But he, thinking only of his soldiers, could not be dissuaded. And so Charles, given the opportunity to pursue the grudges he secretly harbored against the King of England, took the counts’ side. First of all he surrendered some landholdings and strove to get back the hostages he had given, and then he sent ambassadors to Aquitaine to inform the prince of the day upon which he was required to make his appearance at Paris to plead his cause. When the ambassadors had performed their mandate, the prince replied to them, “Tell Charles I shall soon be coming to Paris, with 50,000 armed men.” Having said these things, he ordered that the ambassadors be retained on their journey so they could give the enemy no forewarning. And so the counts, made all them more hostile, suddenly took up arms and solicited the people to mutiny, above all the those of Quercy. After this, Carol saw that it had now come to fighting and his spirits rose to the point that he took the first opportunity to declare war against Edward. And he, in a high peeve, indicated to Charles by these same messengers that he would be in arms in his own good time. And so war was readied with great energy. These are the things I have to write about the broken peace. The prince had already informed his father about the new movements towards war, but since at the moment he was not in good condition, being attacked by a disease he had acquired in Spain, he was not immediately able to retaliate against the injury.
35. When the king learned of these things, he held a parliament of his nobles at Westminster, and explained the entire matter, speaking thus: “Today, my lords, we are going to describe a matter of great moment, although for you it is scarcely a new one, if you have ever had experience with the nature of the French. And you have, very often. Six years ago the King of France, defeated by land and sea, sued for peace, which we granted. From that time he has never ceased entering into secret plots for giving us great trouble. In the first place, he arranged for Margarite, daughter of Count Louis of Flanders, to be married to Duke Philippe of Burgundy, although she had been betrothed to our son Edmund. Then, contrary to the terms of our treaty, he took in Duke Louis of Anjou, one of his hostages, when he was a fugitive. Lately he has allowed the citizens of Aquitaine to come to him when they were wrangling about their tribute, just as if he had not wholly renounced the right he had formerly enjoyed over them and relinquished it to us. What has given him the audacity to appoint a day for Prince Edward to appear in his court? Why has he incited the citizens of Quercy to revolt, and to have taken them under his protection? Why, In the third place, has he declared war on us, just as if he were in the habit of celebrating frequent triumphs over us? And so, having shamefully violated the truce, he has no hesitation in insulting our person. So, lest we be said to have detracted from the right or laws of our realm, now we justly and solemnly revive our claim to the kingdom France, and we are minded to prosecute the injuries we have suffered, and not to make an end to this war until we have completely subdued this race of men, always most ill-disposed to ourselves, and our perpetual enemy. This is our counsel. But it remains for you wholeheartedly to agree to retain our ancient martial glory, to ward off this injury, and finally to reduce this nation, so often bested by your arms, to our power, and this can easily be done, if you agree to supply your help.” When he had spoken such words, all men acclaimed him as King of both England and France and cried out that he need say nothing more. They unanimously promised they would firmly support this war that had now been declared, all other matters set aside, and for their part they would resort to force to defend against this violence done to them. Dismissing this parliament and giving thanks to its members individually, the king sent ahead to Calais his son Duke John of Lancaster with the forces he had with him, while he himself prepared greater ones at home. Lancaster, moving out of Calais, he encamped not far from Morinum, and was immediately confronted by Duke Philippe of Burgundy, accompanied by large forces, and he offered battle and invited him to a fight. But Philippe refused to come to blows in the middle of night, broke camp, and made a departure to the region of Paris that resembled a flight. Lancaster, his hopes for a battle dashed, then departed and wasted the countryside as far as Rouen. Content with that plunder, during his return to Ponthieu and on the march, he captured Hugh of Castile and some knights who were roaming about on a scouting expedition. Lancaster lingered a number of days at Ponthieu, and entertained no suspicions about its citizenry, which had long been under English government. So he did not discover their counsels, as they were now agitating about mutiny. And so at the beginning of winter he returned to England, where they were reviewing the progress of the entire war. But after the duke’s departure at the instigation of Count Guy of St. Paul the burghers of Ponthieu ejected the English garrison and went over to the French. And that very noble domain was regained by the King of France 120 years after had been received by Edward I as part of the dowry he received. It is most strange that the townsmen of Ponthieu did this, having received honors from the Kings of England, and that, with their nation and their fortunes safe, they chose to entrust themselves to the French rather than remain under the government of their own kings. But this is to be attributed to human nature, which is always eager to resume some earlier condition, even if it was a less happy one, and always disdains its present state. Or because, with nature as our guide, we do the same as the animals of the field which follow their own kind, and just as cow adheres to cow, so Frenchman sticks to Frenchman and Englishman to Englishman. The loss of this domain appeared to portend the death of the noble queen. For at the very same time Edward’s wife Philippa died, and her death filled all the realm with sorrow. Desiring to use her wealth to inspire and help English youth to attain to virtue, this most upright woman founded a college at Oxford, containing magnificent halls and a chapel, so that students exercising themselves in the goodly arts might devote themselves at once to religion and learning there, and so it is called Queens College. Having performed his wife’s funeral rites, the king learned of the defection of the burghers of Ponthieu. So, although beset by a twofold sorrow, he was nonetheless no more backhand in looking out for his affairs, devoting himself to them, being vigilant for them. Therefore he promptly sent Robert Knolles to Calais with the army he had devoted an entire year to assembling, while at home he himself collected the financial support. This was the year of human salvation 1367, an entirely bad year for King Edward, because at this time he suffered another catastrophe.
36. At about the beginning of the year his son Lionel Duke of Clarence, having lost his wife Elizabeth, became betrothed to Iolanthe, the sister of Gian Galeazo, the first Duke of Milan. For the sake of this he went to Milan and joined himself to the girl in a most splendid marriage. But a little later, he died on the return journey, survived by a single daughter named Philippa, whom he had fathered with his first wife. Afterwards this girl married Edmund Mortimer Count of March, and by her Edmund fathered Roger, and Roger Anne, who married into the family of the Dukes of York and brought the inheritance of the crown into that family, as will be more clearly told later. But since it is wholly unknown why the Dukes of Clarence are so named, partly by the passage of time, and partly by the carelessness of writers, I have only investigated this to the point that I have discovered something about its origin, although it nearly escaped my notice, so that it will not be lost again in obscurity. I believe that the heritage of the dukedom of Clarence can be traced to family of Lionel’s first wife Elizabeth. For there had formerly lived a knight named Richard, in the reign of Richard I, the lord of Clarence, a noble village in the county of Suffolk bordering on the county of Essex, where the river Clarence separates the two districts. This was defended by a strong castle, now in large part pulled down. Richard fathered Gilbert. Then this Gilbert was created Earl of Gloucester and married Joan, the daughter of King Edward I. From Gilbert was born Elizabeth, who married Sir John Borgth, who fathered the Elizabeth who married John. In this manner the heritage of Sir Richard, the master of Clarence passed to Lionel by means of John Borgth’s daughter Elizabeth, and so when he was created a duke by his father he took the title of Clarence. This endured to be employed by some other dukes. For Thomas, the son of Henry IV, and George, the brother of Edward VI were called Dukes of Clarence, although neither had the possession of that place. For among the English it is customary that titles of this kind are granted by the sovereign, albeit without possession of the places from which these titles are derived. This is why it is customary for the king to grant to those who have no holdings in that county an annual pension, derived from the royal revenues, in lieu of such possession. But let my discourse resume its thread.
37. The year of human salvation 1368 was now at hand, the forty-fourth of Edward’s reign, and as soon as there was sufficient grass for his horses Knolles brought out his army from its winter quarters and moved from Calais, marching towards Anjou through the countryside around Paris. He was striving to bear aid to the citizens of Aquitaine, who were greatly endangered. He first attacked Rheims, having crossed the Somme and the Ose, and since this well-fortified city offered him no hope of capturing it for the present, he widely wasted the countryside. Then he headed for Paris, with all his forces drawn up in a triple line, and came to a halt beneath the city walls at the village of Judaea. There he waited a while under arms in a flat place, offering the Parisians the opportunity to come out and join battle. But, though given this opportunity, the Parisians nonetheless remained within their walls. When Knolles appreciated that it was up to the French whether a battle was to be fought or not, he hastened on his way. Now he had come near to the Loire, when his soldiers began to range far and wide through the countryside to waste it, and to go too far afield in their pursuit of plunder. Meanwhile Bertrand Gesquin made an appearance. As I have shown above, he was captured by Prince Edward in the Spanish War, but was redeemed a little earlier by King Charles, who made him Marshal of France. Now he attacked the English roving over the countryside as they looted, killed no small number, and captured more than a hundred. The rest turned tail and with difficulty returned safely to their camp. Elated by this victory, the French, who had killed so many of the enemy on their first arrival, planted themselves fearlessly, and some of them began to harry the English as far as their camp. Knolles deliberately avoided fighting, because an argument had broken out in his camp, which did equal damage to everybody. And not much later, having twice come to blows with the enemy, they fought badly. Knolles, together with his men, set out for Poictou and joined himself to the prince, who was now beset with disease and unable to perform his duties, and so for him Knolles’ arrival was most welcome, even if he came with his forces diminished. At that time a number of cities of Aquitaine which the prince had bitterly oppressed with his taxes defected. This mischief began with the citizens of Limoges, who were the first after those of Quercy to surrender themselves to the King of France. After Knolles’ campaign, when the rumor of what had happened spread throughout the region, this alienation began to grow to the point that the prince had quite enough to do in scattering the bands of enemies that gathered against himself and holding the rest to their loyalty. When these things were reported to King Edward, he forthwith sent his sons Duke John of Lancaster and Earl Edmund of Cambridge with lightly-armed forces to Aquitaine as a support for the prince. They enjoyed a fair voyage and quickly arrived there. Meanwhile the prince besieged Limoges, the chief city of that rebellion, and stormed it upon the arrival of the duke, killing to a man all who had been within and had taken up arms, so that he could use this example of cruelty to warn the other peoples to remain loyal. After the sack of Limoges the prince, being called back to England for many necessary reasons, gave over the responsibility of protecting the province to the duke and went to his father. Suffering so many reversals at once, the king convened a parliament of his nobles, in which money and things necessary for the war were commanded to be levied, by consent of the nobles. During those days King Charles of Navarre crossed over to Edward in England, and promised to adhere to his party, but was unable to keep his word. For a few years previously he had been allied with Prince Edward in the Spanish war, as said above, and on that expedition he was captured by the French (not against his will, in many men’s opinion) and redeemed himself at a price, and then was at odds with them once more. But not long thereafter he returned into their good graces, which was a proof that it would be rash to trust the man. Likewise, by means of his legates Pope Urban V played the part of a good father and strove to make peace, which could by no means be achieved.
38. Afterwards both peoples fought each other very earnestly and with varying success, as either king tried to recover or retain what was his, and the results of the factions in Aquitaine were quite various. Therefore Robert Knolles, Thomas Spenser, John Trivett and Hugh Hastings divided the English forces between themselves, and each took a number of towns, making vain attempts on others when the townsmen put up a stiff opposition, being afraid lest their previous defection would be held against them. In another quarter, Earl John of Pembroke together with a great army recovered some places, but when he noticed that the enemies in his vicinity were showing signs of fright, now advancing unsteadily, now wandering about under no control, he unwisely attacked their camp and was defeated. Likewise John Chandos, the governor of Poictou, routed a great band of Frenchmen attempting an assault on the city, but he himself was wounded and presently died. Lancaster grieved at the loss of so great a captain, and forthwith set Thomas Percy in his place. After these things Knolles was sent back to Calais by Lancaster, so he might wage war against the enemy in another quarter, and, if he had any hope of success, to launch an attack on the citizens of Ponthieu. So he marched through the territory of Paris and came to Amiens. And since the other English captains were less fearsome to the French in comparison with this man because of his virtue, Gesquin left garrisons at suitable places and followed Knolles, now harassing his rear guard, now attacking him from the sides. Sometimes there was light skirmishing along the way, with many men killed on both sites. But since he seemed to be making no successful progress, Knolles abandoned his plan of attacking Ponthieu and betook himself to Calais. Gesquin turned back and disappeared. Therefore, with fortune smiling on them by turns, both the English and the French gradually became satiated with killing, so much so that both desired to hold their hands. Meanwhile King Charles was at Rouen, and energetically assembled a fleet with which to carry an army over to England when the winter was through, if the situation so required. Edward was well aware of this and looked to his naval situation with equal diligence. And so, while on both sides the soldiers had gone into winter quarters, meanwhile Lancaster came to England with his brother Edmund. He, having lost his wife Blanche a little before, married Constance, one of the surviving daughters of the dead King Pedro of Castile, the heiress of the kingdom of castile. And the other daughter, Isabella, was bestowed on Earl Edmund of Cambridge. These two girls, together with their elder sister Beatrice, who had been betrothed to Ferdinand, the son of King Pedro of Lusitania, had died a little earlier at Bayonne, had been hostages retained by the prince’s wife Joan in Aquitaine, as I have said above, when their father was killed, and afterwards they were taken to England and received good treatment and upbringing. As soon as the duke married he Constance, he styled himself the King of Castle and her the Queen since he intended to reclaim it by arms, which he attempted not long thereafter, as will be related below.
39. Meanwhile Britanny was vexed by sedition, because ever since the death of Charles of Blois a goodly part of its nobility had secretly sided with the French. Realizing this, Duke John asked help from his father-in-law Edward, to whose daughter Mary he was married (as I have said above). Edward, thinking this to be a matter of no little importance, and so by no means to be delayed, immediately sent Knolles, who was at Calais, on a ship to Britanny to assist the duke, so that by his authority the Bretons would be held to their allegiance until the winter had expired and it would be possible to bring forces there. When Knolles arrived in Britanny, seeing that the situation was dangerous and required diligence, he advised the duke to go to England himself to ask for aid, for nobody handles other men’s business as well as he does his own. And so the duke handed over the reins of government to Knolles and went flying to England, and he told the king about the present state of his affairs, and particularly he asked for his help, which, as will be described below, he easily obtained. And when King Charles learned by his spies that Lancaster had left his winter quarters for England, and that the Duke of Britanny had done the same, he imagined that he was not far distant from being able to gain control of all Aquitaine and Britanny. So he hastily enlisted new forces, and although winter was not yet over he commanded Gesquin to take these and first go against Poitou, and then Brittany. He enjoyed equal good fortune in both places. For at his first arrival he accepted the homage of the burghers of Poitou, who had become alienated from the English because of their heavy taxation, and he occupied all Britanny except for Brest and Dersuall, which remained loyal to Duke John. But not much later he also took Dersuall by storm. And so only Brest, defended by Knolles, put up a stubborn resistance. These things done, Gesquin stealthily attacked La Rochelle, marching by byways, where soon thereafter arrived Duke John of Bordeaux, and with joined forces they besieged the town. And so that the townsmen would have no hope of receiving assistance by sea, nor have an avenue of escape, he distributed all the ships he could collect around the port. Edward, told of the siege of La Rochelle, immediately sent a fleet of 400 ships under the command of Earl John of Pembroke, who had come home with Lancaster a little earlier, to bring aid to his subjects by land and sea. Meanwhile King Henry of Castile, who was ill-disposed towards the English, sent Ambrose Boccanegra, an energetic man, to help King Charles, and along with him other warlike captains of no mean ability, together with many ships well equipped with men and arms. Sailing from Spain, he soon put in at the port of La Rochelle. And, learning from the reports of the scouting ships he had sent out to scour the sea that the English fleet was approaching, he promptly left the harbor and, disposing his ships on either side of the bay which stretches in front of the port’s entryway, he set an ambush. Not long thereafter the English fleet arrived, which had enjoyed a fair wind all night and was borne there at dawn. When their ships began to enter the bay, from left and right the Spanish simultaneously bore down on the English who, their voyage now completed, were thinking of enjoying some leisure, not of girding themselves for a fight. The English, thrown in to a commotion by this sudden event, snatched up their bows and arrows and wounded many of their enemies from a distance. But when the ships came together for hand-to-hand fighting, they were cut down by swords, since they had been given no time to arm themselves. So out of the entire number of ships in the fleet, there was none whic0h was not sunk, burned, or captured. Likewise the men were either killed or captured, including John the Admiral. And thus the English ing, who a few years ago had inflicted a great catastrophe on Henry, suffered an equal one himself at the hands of the same man. This defeat occurred in the year of human salvation 1370, which was the forty-sixth of Edward’s reign.
40. Meanwhile the citizens of La Rochelle, despairing of help for the present, nonetheless energetically withstood the siege, and King Edward, learning of the catastrophe suffered by his subjects, and because his son the prince was afflicted by all but ruined health, decided he must go himself to support his subject. Thinking that he could not delay, he sent ahead to the seacast all the forces he could quickly collect, and ordered them to board ships hired from all over. Then he himself followed his men, and when he saw the ships were ready to sail he gave the signal for departure. And they were borne out of sight of land by a strong favorable wind, when the wind suffered a sudden and very inconvenient change of direction, so that Edward was obliged to return to the land. And when he saw that a contrary wind was blowing steadily, he changed his plan and ordered all his forces to cross to Calais under the command of John of Lancaster, so that for the sake of making his approach he could cut his way in any direction he chose, and come to the aid of his subjects. And so the duke came to Burgundy, where he first chose to march, in battle array and meeting no opposition, having wasted the countryside and burned down the buildings in every village wherever he went. While he was staying there a few days to refresh his soldiers, the French across the Loire were setting ambushes everywhere to check their enemy’s progress. When the duke learned of this thanks to his scouts, he hastened to cross the Loire by forced marches by day and night. And when he arrived in the district of Bourges, he led his army divided into three segments. For in the van he placed his light horse with a portion of his bowmen, in the second his footmen with part of his heavy cavalry riding on the flanks (and here he was himself), and in the rear guard he put the rest of his horsemen and archers. They say this army amounted to 30,000 men. And so, making all progress he could, he continued to Poictou. At all points the French savaged the English, now in their van, now in their rear guard, but the duke refrained from battle and continued on his way. But when he began to approach Poictou, bearing in mind the betrayals of that people, then at last he ordered his men to fight, ravage, and burn everything wherever they went. Terrified by this, the Frenchmen in the garrison speedily fled to fortified places. But he did not deviate from his straight route, the countryside ruined wherever he went and a number of towns fired, and safely arrived at Bordeaux. Hearing of his arrival, the townsmen of La Rochelle defended themselves more zealously, and for the same reason their enemies abandoned hope of gaining the town. And so the Duke of Bourges, immediately breaking off his siege, retreated into the territory of Poictou and gave new courage to that people, which was likewise frightened by English arms. Lancaster praised the burghers of Rochelle generally and gave particular thanks to their leading citizens for maintaining their loyalty, rewarded the entire garrison with a bounty, and strove to keep the remainder of the people, who had an eye on defection, within their loyalty. And at the same time or a little earlier a naval battle was fought between the English and the Flemish, who sided with the French, and the English came off the winners. But immediately thereafter peace was made between them and the war spread no farther.
41. Meanwhile Pope Gregory XI, who had been created Pope at Avignon three years previously to replace the deceased Urban, detested this quarrel of kings with all his heart, because it was particularly injurious to Christendom. By means of legates sent to the city of Bourges, he commanded that ambassadors of the sovereigns meet there, and they made their appearance. Before them the legates said much in the Pope’s name about why they should quickly lay down their arms. They proposed many conditions which both kings should give and receive, and did so at great length. But the ambassadors were in a high dander and nothing struck them as reasonable, since they were determined to settle the controversy by fighting. And so, despairing of their errand, the legates went back to their Pope. Meanwhile at London the king held a parliament of his nobles, in which, intent on gaining pay for his soldiers, he was willing to encourage and induce them to grant this by conceding any benefit at all. And so he conferred some privileges on the people, and promised the clergy on his oath that he would henceforth not insist that they lack the freedom to elect the bishops and other senior clergy of their choice, and he would arrange for the Pope to make this same concession. And the Pope appears to have conceded this at that time, for even nowadays he has no power in the election of bishops, but only to ratify the choices made by the sovereign. Thus kings regularly follow their custom, since they designate bishops of their choice, as Edward was a little later persuaded to do by some ambitious priests. For priests with long experience at court, having no hopes of being able to obtain honors by the vote of their colleagues in the clergy as easily as from the sovereign, were responsible for the violation of this privilege obtained from the Pope and the king, as being of little use to themselves. And so private advantage trumped public advantage. But back to Edward. After the king had thus gratified all men, in accordance with his wishes the parliament voted the money for the necessary expenses of war, paid in large part by the clergy out of their tithes. For this was the first time when an estimate was made of the the annual profits from all the possessions of the clergy, and, in accordance with that estimate, the clergy henceforth paid a tithe both to the king and to the Pope, since previously each individual clergyman had paid for a tax a tithe of his annual income. Later this estimate worked to the harm of the clergy, since the income of many church livings had been so reduced that this tithe actually amounted to a fifth. This was the year of human salvation 1373, the forty-eighth of Edward’s reign. In this year died William Archbishop of Canterbury, who was succeeded by Simon Bishop of London, the fifty-seventh in the line. And now the tradition that bishops be elected by priestly colleges was abolished, since Simon of Canterbury, and henceforth other bishops, were designated and created by the choice and authority of Popes and kings, not by the vote of priests, until in the end it came about that only the Kings of England designated bishops, and bishops chose lesser clerical officials. And then within a few years the Pope lost all right which he had once possessed for the creation of bishops and other officials in England, just as he lost even the power of briefly commanding tithes of ecclesiastical possessions. Neither of these things worked to England’s disadvantage, since it was henceforth not obliged to hand over its wealth to foreign men, a thing which had now begun to annoy it. And in this same parliament, at Edward’s instigation, a law was passed forbidding all men for the future to obtain any ecclesiastical office directly from the Pope, or to refer any legal cases to him except for appeals, and appointed a heavy punishment for those who acted contrary to this law, and also for those who aided and abetted those who so did. And indeed later kings not only upheld this law, but continually increased the severity of the punishment, so that the penalty is loss of all goods and life imprisonment. But a period of two months is granted the accused before he is compelled to plead his case, and so this is called the law of praemonire, because he is given this forewarning, although the it is popularly called praemunire, presumably because it is a law so fortified in advance by its penalty that it cannot be broken. But this law did not remain restricted to its original purpose, since today it bears so many fearful missiles that it is very difficult to avoid being hit by it, although its injury is dreaded like death. And when Gregory XI, the Pope at that time, learned of this, he loudly exclaimed it did nothing but divide the Christian Church, weaken religion, abolish right and law, and revoke the decisions of all the Councils. And so he tried to get Edward to quash this law as quickly as possible. Then the schism arose in the Church, and no Pope cared about this matter until Martin V wrote a vehement letter about it to Henry VI. But the same response was given to both Popes, that it was impossible to quash a parliamentary decree save by the authority of parliament, and so a parliament would be held at the earliest moment possible (although none was held). In the same year died John Archbishop of York, who was succeeded by Alexander Neville, the forty-fifth in the series, who died eight years later and was replaced by Thomas Arundel, Bishop of Ely.
42. While these things were happening, Duke John of Britanny, whom I have mentioned above, dealt with King Edward for aid, partly by his prayers, and partly by his promises. When the matter was referred to the Privy Council, both in view of the ancient relationship of hospitality obtaining between themselves and the Bretons, and because they adjudged the duke’s calamity to affect themselves as well, they unanimously voted that the king’s son Edmund should undertake this war together with Duke John. And so a large band of soldiers was assembled and placed aboard ship, and they both went to Britanny. And when they touched shore they were were greeted by Robert Knolles, who, as I have said above, was holding Brest. From here they assigned their captains their individual duties and led forth their forces in three divisions. Some cities freely submitted to the duke’s power, while others shut their gates. But when some captives were strangled in open fields before the eyes of those who offered resistance, they threw such a scare into all men that the coastal towns submitted to the duke’s power virtually at the same moment. And a little later there appeared Duke Louis of Anjou to help his subjects against the English. But when he learned that the enemy was approaching, either afraid because of the small numbers of his solders, or because he suspected the loyalty of the region’s inhabitants, he speedily returned homeward, and commanded those of his men who were in garrison to keep within their walls until he returned with greater forces. They asked for help, but could not detain him. Then more coastal downs began to surrender, when the English, thinking they ought to capitalize on their victory, made a full assault on the French garrison, who offered a stout resistance at every point. Thus the situation in Britanny was hanging in the balance, when at the same time, at the instigation of the Pope, who was particularly desirous to arrange peace between the kings, a twelve months’ truce was made, which brought no good to the English. For Edmund and Knolles, learning of this truce, were obliged to abandon Duke John, and Lancaster, who had established permanent camps in the region, and had his men ready and armed to flight with the Duke of Bordeaux in the territory of Saintes, learned of the truce and likewise abstained from fighting. And, although it was uncertain who would emerge the victor, yet since the English, in higher spirits than ever before, with their hopes reviving, were ready and demanding a battle, as men who were prepared to fight more ardently for a just cause, while on the other hand the French were far inferior in numbers, holding everything in suspicion in a land which belonged to the English, were approaching battle fearfully, as was revealed later by the thing itself, since they were overjoyed by the truce, it is beyond doubt that the English would have emerged the winners. And so this untimely agreement on a truce frustrated an English victory all but gained. And so the happy French garrisoned all the towns they had taken from their enemy, while the English, having assured victory snatched from their hands, complied sullenly. But King Edward had agreed to this truce to frustrate the assault of ill fortune, particularly since he was now at that time of life when he had begun to be less serviceable for war, and the Prince of Wales, upon whom all his hopes were pinned, was very infirm from disease. But this enforced delay was particularly injurious to Duke John of Britanny, who was deserted in mid-course and obliged to retreat. But after the truce had expired, undaunted, he fought until in the end he had regained his entire dukedom, when, in accordance with peace conditions, the French restored the other towns which they could no longer retain by force.
43. While by these means things were quiet from wars for a while, lest idleness at home be a source of pleasure, there arose a pestilence by which many men died. This plague occurred in the year of salvation 1375, the fiftieth of Edward’s reign. In this year Earl John of Pembroke, whom I have shown above to have been defeated and captured by the Spanish in a naval battle, was redeemed for a great sum, but died during his return journey to England. And John’s wife Mary, who haled from St. Paul, a town of French-speaking Belgium on the borders of Artois, a noble, pious, holy woman, so that by her largesse she might inspire English youth to the study of letters (for she understood that Christendom is greatly helped by learning), founded a college at Cambridge, in a hall of her own construction for those young men who had an intellect sufficient for the acquisition of learning. This is now called Pembroke Hall, truly a seminary of manners, modesty, and erudition. Meanwhile the king, beset by many cares, held a parliament at Westminster, wherein he first dealt with various things which seemed to be of advantage to the commonwealth, and then angled for a tax-levy, which they all refused to pay, adducing the thing that inspired them to decline to do this, and also lodging many complaints about his money-men. The king listened patiently to his people’s complaints, and, conducting an inquiry, discovered the guilt of some of his money-men and punished them harshly. This done, while he was promoting, agitating for, and attending to this enterprise he had begun, behold, Prince Edward, consumed by his lengthy disease, died on July 10, in the forty-sixth year of his life. For this reason the people were immediately plunged in grief, all the more bitter because by his virtues the prince aroused such hope in men that they were certain, had he attained to the throne, he would have surpassed his ancestors with his glory. But sorrow afflicted, wounded, and destroyed his father Edward above all others, so that ten months later he fell into a disease because of his grief and, greatly oppressed by it, passed away. But so he might not be failing to his affairs, being confronted with the additional care of the war, as soon as he had performed his son’s funeral and dismissed the parliament, with wonderful zeal he began to assemble a new army, so that when the truce was ended he could contend with the French about supremacy. But, as I have said, the power of fate overcame his mortal mind, since he was taken off by death. His body was buried at Westminster. He had lived for sixty-five years, and reigned for fifty-one. By his wife Philippa he fathered six (or, according to others, seven) sons, Edward Prince of Wales; William, who died in childhood; Lionel Duke of Clarence; John Duke of Cambridge; Edmund of Langley, Earl of Cambridge; and Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham, both of whom took their names from the places of their birth. As will be said in the following Book, King Richard made the one Duke of Gloucester, and the other Duke of York. Likewise a second William, who died young. And he left three daughters, Mary, the wife of Duke John of Brittany; Isabella, married to the Earl of Bedford, and Margaret, married to the Earl of Pembroke. Ignoring his other natural endowments, this king was particularly favored by his dignified appearance and provident intellect. He was perspicacious and mild, he did nothing without due consideration, and he was a most modest and frugal man. He greatly loved, honored, and promoted those men who surpassed their fellows in their probity, modesty, and innocence of life. His physical characteristics agreed with these things, he had a fair and manly countenance, shining eyes, a decorous hoariness in old age, all of which did much to bestow grace upon him. He was particularly knowledgeable of the military art, as his accomplishments show. And he frequently gave uncommon examples of liberality and mercy, so much so that he was found to be the one king who was never prone even to the lesser vices, just as he was a stranger to the evil ones. For, just as in his government he was most happy for forty years, so for the rest of his time he experienced a grave reversal of his fortune (thus the human affairs we have in hand are rarely successful for long), and this led him to think more often about our other life, and he very earnestly turned to religion. And so he constructed a magnificent church at Westminster, dedicated to St. Stephen, and placed a very well-endowed college of priests therein. And he built another at Cambridge, called Kings Hall, and supplied the wherewithal by which those occupied with the goodly sciences might live. But soon, contrary to tradition and law, the colleges began to sell places. This practice was not forbidden by the king, by whose authority such selling was approved, and endures even to this day. And to many men it seems of small use, since very often many men who purchase places in colleges have chosen to live there in idleness rather than devote themselves to learning.
44. There existed at that time very pious men, very learned and very brave, whom I have mentioned at appropriate times above, and so there is no reason to name them again. And there also lived some men remarkable for their infamy, whose head and chief was John Wycliff. As the story goes, he was originally indignant that he could not aspire to the supreme honors of the clergy, and so became hostile to all priests and began to place a perverse interpretation on Scripture and founded a new sect, to the point that in the noble University of Oxford he railed against the clergy as breakers of the Law. And that he might do so with impunity, armed with a supporter as well as his own audacity, he ascribed to the king above all others supreme authority over all the governors of the clergy. Furthermore, this man, desirous of mischiefmaking and knowing for sure that it would not be easy to infect learned men with his poison, since they operate in accordance with logical argument, he conceived the idea that he should make a special point of bringing the ignorant common man into his sect, since your average man is in the habit of tenaciously clinging to that which he has once imbibed. Not content to fill books written in Latin with his heresy, he wrote pamphlets in the vernacular and promptly published them, so as to make even rustics learned in his evil-working superstition. And certainly this notion did not deceive him. For those pamphlets, no matter how short, have endured a long time and even today cannot be wrenched out of the hands of the vulgar, even if for this crime some are occasionally burned alive with their books. at length, this over-confident fellow, being compelled by sound arguments to return to decency, was so far from obeying that he even preferred to go into voluntary exile rather than change his opinions. So he went to the Bohemians, already tainted by no little heresy, and is held in great honor by that boorish people. In exchange for their kindness, he egged them on and greatly urged them to persist in their opinion, so that they hold the clergy in little honor and have no respect for the Pope. I have had these things to recall briefly about Wycliff, a contemporary of those times, so that history, which is an exposition of the things that have been done, may play its part even in this matter.
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