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accept the challenge. The Earl assented, and he instantly armed himself. ' Each grasped his spear, and, attacking with equal strength and eagerness, they thrice broke their lances, without injuring each other, to the great admiration of the spectators. They then drew their swords, which were strong, and in six strokes four of them were broken. They would then have tried who might conquer with battle-axes; but the Earl, fearful of fatal consequences, commanded them to desist.
Two other combats followed, in the last of which John de Châtelmorant received a dangerous wound in the thigh. The hostile parties then separated; the French retiring to Chateau Josselin, and the English to Vannes.
The practice of war at this time was mercenary, and disgraceful in one point of view. Upon consulting Froissart and other writers, it will be
perceived, that the sieges of towns and castles generally terminated with the indiscriminate massacre of the garrison, except the commander, and such barons and knights as were capable of paying a heavy ransom for their freedom.
The author just mentioned relates a circumstance which is an illustration of this fact. “ Sir Hervé de Leon was a prisoner in the hands of Edward the Third: when the King received intelligence
that the French Monarch had caused several lords in the interest of England to be beheaded, he instantly resolved to retaliate in the person of
the unfortunate Sir Hervé. The Earl of Derby interfered, and represented the cruelty of the measure in so forcible a point of view, that Edward relented; and, sending for Sir Hervé, told him of his resentment to Philip, who had given him just grounds for revenge in his case, who had been his most bitter enemy in Brittany. “But I shall endure it,” added the Monarch ; " and let him act according to his own will. I will preserve my own honour unspotted, and shall allow you your liberty at a trifling ransom, out of my love for the Earl of Derby, who has requested it: but upon condition that you perform what I am going to ask of you."
He then informed him, he knew him to be one of the richest Knights of Brittany, and that he might expect at least 30 or 40,000 crowns for his ransom; but that he would accept 10,000, provided he carried his displeasure and defiance personally to King Philip. Sir Hervé accepted of the proposal, with many thanks, and performed it through much suffering, the consequence of a fatal illness caught by the dangers of his passage from England to France.
An amiable trait of character is attached to the same period of time. Edward had just then resolved to found the order of St. George, and made magnificent preparations for the ceremony at Windsor. With the chivalric generosity of his age, he said further to Sir Hervé, “ You will also
inform all such Knights and Squires as wish to attend my feast, for we shall be right glad to see them, not to desist on this account ; for they shall have passports for their safe return, to last for fifteen days after it be over.”
Previous to the decisive victory at Cressy Edward retired to his oratory, and fervently prayed for success in the approaching conflict. Early in the morning of the day of battle he heard mass, in company with the Prince of Wales ; and all the soldiers followed his example, and confessed. Before ten he had rode in front of his little
army to encourage the men, which he did with so much affability and cheerfulness that the most desponding felt a glow of courage.
The King was accompanied on this occasion by two Marshals, who rode one on each side of him. He bore a white wand in his hand, and Was mounted on a small palfrey. In the midst of the battle, the division commanded by the Prince of Wales was assaulted with great vigour by the enemy ; some of the officers, alarmed for his safety, rode to the King, and demanded assistance.
“ Is my son wounded, un horsed, or dead?" exclaimed the King. “Neither," replied the Knight,
Then let him win his spurs. Send not again to me for aid, for I am resolved to afford him none; and will give him, and those to whom I have entrusted him, the glory of this day, under God."
Edward literally adhered to his resolution, by viewing the battle from an eminence, without even wearing his helmet. In the evening, he met his son with much grateful affection ; and the night was employed in religious duties by all ranks of the army.
Edward Prince of Wales, generally termed the Black Prince (from the colour of his armour), was, in all respects, not only the son, but the very counterpart of his father. Previous to the battle of Poictiers, he distinguished himself by his excellent advice to the little army he commanded; and contrived to inspire his soldiers with a degree of confidence sufficient to accomplish the defeat of many times their numbers.
John King of France was made prisoner in this memorable battle. Equally liberal and brave, the Prince did all in his power to console and gratify the unfortunate Sovereign ; and actually waited at his table during a supper he gave the King, and others, in his pavilion, the evening succeeding the victory. When the captive and his conqueror entered London, the citizens were commanded to shew him every possible respect. And from the richness of the pageants and dresses on this occasion, it might have been supposed King John had made a visit of ceremony to England. The prisoner rode on a noble white steed, with royal caparisons; the meek and unassuming victor paced by his side on a little black hackney.
A severe battle occurred at Calais between the French and English on the 31st of December, 1348 ; when Edward the Third fought incognito, under the banners of Sir Walter de Manny. Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont, a Knight of great courage and strength, engaged the King in single combat; and it was with much difficulty that the latter made Sir Eustace his prisoner.
After the conclusion of the engagement, the victorious Monarch met the captive Knights, and explained to them and Sir Eustace the part he had taken in the conflict : at the same time he declared it was his intention to entertain them all in the castle, to celebrate the commencement of the new year. At the appointed hour the English court appeared in rich dresses, and seated themselves at table with the prisoners, who received the most friendly attention, and were honoured by the Prince of Wales, and the lords his attendants, bearing the first course to the Monarch's hospitable board.
After the removal of the supper Edward remained with his guests, crowned only by a cha let of fine pearls; and, rising, he addressed himself to the different Knights, particularly to Sir Geoffry de Chargny, who wished to have surprised the town: and Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont smiling, he told the latter he found him to be one of the most courageous Knights in Christendom, and the most difficult to overcome of any