Today’s installment concludes Battles that Began The Hundred Years War,
our selection from Froissart’s Chronicles by Sir John Froissart published in around 1400. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of five thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Battles that Began The Hundred Years War.
Place: In Picardy, France
Late after vespers, the King of France had not more about him than sixty men — every one included. Sir John of Hainault, who was of the number, had once remounted the King; for his horse had been killed under him by an arrow. He said to the King: “Sir, retreat while you have an opportunity and do not expose yourself so simply. If you have lost this battle, another time you will be the conqueror.” After he had said this, he took the bridle of the King’s horse and led him off by force, for he had before entreated him to retire. The King rode on until he came to the castle of La Broyes, where he found the gates shut, for it was very dark. The King ordered the governor of it to be summoned. He came upon the battlements and asked who it was that called at such an hour. The King answered: “Open, open, governor! It is the fortune of France!” The governor, hearing the King’s voice, immediately descended, opened the gate and let down the bridge. The King and his company entered the castle, but he had only with him five barons, Sir John of Hainault, Lord Charles of Montmorency, Lord Beaujeu, Lord Aubigny, and Lord Montfort. The King would not bury himself in such a place as that, but, having taken some refreshments, set out again with his attendants about midnight, and rode on, under the direction of guides–who were well acquainted with the country–until about daybreak, when he came to Amiens, where he halted. The English never quitted their ranks in pursuit of anyone, but remained on the field, guarding their position and defending themselves against all who attacked them. The battle was ended at the hour of vespers.
When, on Saturday night, the English heard no more hooting or shouting, nor any more crying out to particular lords or their banners, they looked upon the field as their own and their enemies as beaten. They made great fires, and lighted torches because of the obscurity of the night. King Edward then came down from his post, who all that day had not put on his helmet, and with his whole battalion advanced to the Prince of Wales, whom he embraced in his arms and kissed, and said: “Sweet son, God give you good perseverance; you are my son, for most loyally have you acquitted yourself this day. You are worthy to be a sovereign.” The Prince bowed down very low and humbled himself, giving all the honor to the King, his father. The English, during the night, made frequent thanksgivings to the Lord for the happy issue of the day, and without rioting, for the King had forbidden all riot or noise. On Sunday morning there was so great a fog that one could scarcely see the distance of half an acre. The King ordered a detachment from the army, under the command of the two marshals–consisting of about five hundred lances and two thousand archers–to make an excursion and see if there were any bodies of French troops collected together. The quota of troops from Rouen and Beauvais had that morning left Abbeville and St. Ricquier in Ponthieu to join the French army, and were ignorant of the defeat of the preceding evening. They met this detachment, and, thinking they must be French, hastened to join them.
As soon as the English found who they were, they fell upon them and there was a sharp engagement. The French soon turned their backs and fled in great disorder. There were slain in this flight in the open fields, under hedges and bushes, upward of seven thousand; and had it been clear weather, not one soul would have escaped.
A little time afterward this same party fell in with the Archbishop of Rouen and the great Prior of France, who were also ignorant of the discomfiture of the French, for they had been informed that the King was not to fight before Sunday. Here began a fresh battle; for those two lords were well attended by good men-at-arms. However, they could not withstand the English, but were almost all slain, with the two chiefs who commanded them; very few escaping. In the morning the English found many Frenchmen who had lost their road on Saturday and had lain in the open fields, not knowing what was become of the King or their own leaders. The English put to the sword all they met; and it has been assured to me for fact that of foot soldiers, sent from the cities, towns, and municipalities, there were slain, this Sunday morning, four times as many as in the battle of Saturday.
This detachment, which had been sent to look after the French, returned as the King was coming from mass, and related to him all that they had seen and met with. After he had been assured by them that there was not any likelihood of the French collecting another army, he sent to have the number and condition of the dead examined. He ordered on this business Lord Reginald Cobham, Lord Stafford, and three heralds to examine their arms, and two secretaries to write down all the names. They took much pains to examine all the dead, and were the whole day in the field of battle, not returning but just as the King was sitting down to supper. They made him a very circumstantial report of all they had observed, and said they had found eighty banners, the bodies of eleven princes, twelve hundred knights, and about thirty thousand common men.
This ends our series of passages on Battles Of Sluys And Crécy by Sir John Froissart from his book Froissart’s Chronicles published in around 1400. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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