Abbildungen der Seite

Lisbon had been besieged by the King of Castille; and soon after three ships entered that port, freighted with about 500 Englishmen at arms, and archers, many of whom were under no command, and without pay. “Let us go seek adventures in Portugal,” said these soldiers: “we shall find some one, there to receive and employ us.” They did so; and the King gave them three months pay in advance, besides assigning them good quarters in the city. Shortly after we find the English eager in persuading the King to permit them to pursue the flying Spaniards, who were defeated in the battle of Aljubarota. “We are strangers,” exclaimed Hartsel, one of the three Esquires who went to Portugal, “come from a distance to serve you, and would willingly gain something from those calves that are flying without wings, and who drive their banners before them " “Fair brother,” answered the King, “all covet, all lose.” It cannot but be grateful to an Englishman to hear of the gallantry and courage of his ancestors, which had become as matural a consequence of their lives, as their most familiar customs. When the army of England had invested St. Maloes in the reign of Edward III. that of France was separated from it by a river, and an arm of the sea. The former, impatient for battle, used to advance on the sands with their banners displayed, inviting H their their enemies to cross and meet them. The French, cautious, and contented with their situation, made frequent deceptive demonstrations; till at length, exasperated to desperation, the Earl of Cambridge swore, that he would himself advance if the whole of the men remained inactive; and, plunging into the river, attempted to wade through it. The Constable of France ordered his best soldiers forward to the brink of the stream, and then to retreat to the fields. Such of the English as could bring their arrows to bear upon the enemy shot, and every thing seemed to promise a furious contest, when it was found that the depth was too great to proceed, particularly as the tide began to flow, and the impatient Earl was compelled to return. Not long after the above affair, the two armies held garrisons at neighbouring towns. That of Cherbourg, then in possession of the English, happened to make a sortie on the same day that a party of French sallied from a fortress; “when they met,” says Froissart, “like knights and squires desirous of fighting. They all dismounted except Sir Lancelot de Lorris, who remained on horseback, his lance in its rest, and his target on his neck, requesting a tilt in honour of his lady. Several heard his demand; for there were also among the English some Knights and Squires who had bound themselves in like manner


mer by vows of love to their ladies. I believe it was Sir John Copeland, a hardy knight, who accepted his challenge. Then spurring their horses they charged each other very gallantly, and gave dreadful blows on their targets. Sir Lancelot was, however, so severely struck by the English knight, that his shield and other armour were pierced through, and himself mortally wounded. It was a great pity, for he was an expert Knight; young, handsome, and much in love. He was there, and elsewhere, sincerely lamented.” The contest which afterwards succeeded between the parties terminated in favour of our countrymen, who either killed or captured all their opponents. The individual gallantry of the English appeared in another instance, at the time when the Earl of Buckingham endeavoured to provoke the French to combat. The young Knights were universally eager to skirmish; but an Esquire, whose name is not mentioned, a native of Lincolnshire, particularly distinguished himself, by placing his lance in the rest, his target on his neck, and, spurring his horse he leaped the bar of the barriers at Troyes, and rushing forward met the Duke of Burgundy, surrounded by the French nobility, near the gate of the city. This exploit, which we must applaud rather than approve, ended, as might be expected, in the death of the party, to the great displeasure of the Duke, H 2 who who wished to have preserved the life of a man so courageous. The fastidious and captious Critic may object to my following Englishmen into France, in order to illustrate their characters; and let him. I address my labours to the discriminating reader, who feels the difficulties of my situation, and admits that it is necessary to call in every collateral aid to render these anecdotes as perfect a representation of our antient manners as possible. The romantic ideas both French and English entertained of individual honour and enterprise, led to many fruitless encounters, with reference to the general issue of the war. The Constable of France and the Earl of Buckingham commanded the hostile armies, near Vannes; and both these chiefs seemed equally desirous of their countrymen signalizing themselves in feats of al"InS. A challenge which occurred was decided on a level in the neighbourhood of the above city. The three French knights proceeded from Chateau Josseline, and the English entertained them and their suites in the suburbs. On the following day the Earls of Buckingham, Stafford, and Devonshire, and other nobles, went to the field with the British champions. “The French took their places,” says Froissart, “at one end of the lists, and the English at the other. Those who were to tilt were on foot, completely armed with hel



[ocr errors]

mets, vizors, and provided with lances of good
steel from Bourdeaux.” The combatants ad-
vanced quickly towards each other with their lan-
ces. The Lord de Vertain received the point of
his adversary without injury; the Lord de Pou-
sanges, less fortunate, was pierced to the quick,
through thoomail and breast-plate of steel, and
bled profusely; but they completed their feats
without farther injury, and became spectators of

other combats. -
“Then came the last, Edward Beauchamp
and Clarius de Savoye. This bastard was a
hardy and strong Squire, and much better formed
in all his limbs than the Englishman. They ran
at each other with a hearty good-will ; both
struck their spears on their adversary's breast, but
Edward was knocked down on the ground, which
much vexed his countrymen. When he was
raised up, he took his spear; and they advanced
again to the attack; but the Savoyard drove him
backward to the earth, which more enraged the
English. They said, Edward's strength was not
a match for this Savoyard, and the devil was in
him to make him think of tilting against one of
such superior force. He was carried off among
them, and declared he would not engage farther.”
Clarius, elated with his success, braved the
English; and having completely provoked Janne-
quin Finchley, he stepped forward, and entreated
the Earl of Buckingham he might be permitted to


« ZurückWeiter »