I will now relate what the king of England had done, and was doing, when he saw with what a prodigious force the king of France was come to raise the siege of Calais, which had cost him so much money and labour. He knew that the town was so nearly famished, that it could hold out but a very short time: therefore it would have sorely hurt him to have been forced at that time to raise it. He considered, that the French could neither approach his army nor the town of Calais but by two roads; the one by the downs along the sea-shore; the other higher up the country, which however was full of ditches and bogs; and there was but one bridge, called the bridge of Nieullet, by which they could be crossed. He posted, therefore, his fleet along the shore as near as he could to the downs, and provided it with plenty of every warlike engine1; so that the French could not pass that way. He sent the earl of Derby, with a sufficient force of men at arms and archers, to guard the bridge of Nieullet. The French, therefore, were prevented from advancing thither, unless they attempted crossing the marshes between Sangate and the sea, which were impassable. There was also, nearer to Calais, a high tower, which was guarded by thirty archers from England; and they had fortified it with double ditches, as a stronger defence of the passage over the downs. When the French had taken up their quarters on the hill of Sangate, those from Tournay, who might amount to about fifteen hundred men, advanced towards this tower: the garrison shot at them, and wounded some; but the men of Tournay crossed the ditches, and reached the foot of the tower with pick-axes and bars. The engagement was then very sharp, and many of the Tournaymen were killed and wounded; but, in the end, the tower was taken and thrown down, and all that were within it put to the sword.
The king of France sent his two marshals, the lord of Beaujeu and the lord of St. Venant, to examine the country, and see where the army could pass, in order to fight with the English; but, after they had well examined all the passes, they returned and told the king there was not any possibility of doing it, but with infinite loss of men. Things remained in this state that day and the following night; but on the morrow, after the king of France had heard mass, he sent to the king of England the lord Geoffry de Chargny, the lord Eustace de Ribeaumont, sir Guy de Nesle, and the lord of Beaujeu, who, as they rode along, observed how strongly all the passes were guarded: they were allowed to proceed freely, for so the king of England had ordered, and praised very much the dispositions of the earl of Derby, who was posted at the bridge of Nieullet, over which they passed. They rode on until they came where the king was, whom they found surrounded by his barons and knights: they all four dismounted, and advanced towards the king, with many reverences; then the lord Eustace de Ribeaumont said, “Sir, the king of France informs you through us, that he is come to the hill of Sangate, in order to give you battle; but he cannot find any means of approaching you: he therefore wishes you would assemble your council, and he will send some of his, that they might confer together, and fix upon a spot where a general combat may take place.” The king of England was advised to make his answer as follows: “Gentlemen, I perfectly understand the request you have made me from my adversary, who wrongfully keeps possession of my inheritance, which weighs much upon me. You will therefore tell him from me, if you please, that I have been on this spot near a twelvemonth: this he was well informed of, and, had he chosen it, might have come here sooner; but he has allowed me to remain so long, that I have expended very large sums of money, and have done so much that I must be master of Calais in a very short time: I am not therefore inclined, in the smallest degree, to comply with his request, or to gratify his convenience, or to abandon what I have gained, or what I have been so anxious to conquer. If, therefore, neither he nor his army can pass this way, he must seek out some other road2.” The four noblemen then returned, and were escorted as far as the bridge of Nieullet, and related to the king of France the king of England’s answer.
Whilst the king of France was devising means to fight with the English, two cardinals, from Pope Clement, arrived as ambassadors in the camp. Immediately on their arrival, they visited each army, and exerted themselves so much that they procured a sort of truce; during which time, four lords of each party were to meet, and endeavour to form a peace. On the part of the king of France were, nominated the duke of Burgundy, the duke of Bourbon, the lord Lewis of Savoy, and sir John of Hainault. The English commissioners were, the earl of Derby, the earl of Northampton, lord Reginald Cobham, and sir Walter Manny3. The two cardinals were the most active in this business, going backwards and forwards from one army and the other. the commissioners were three days togethsr; and various propositions for peace were brought forward, though none took effect. During which time the ling of england was strengthening his army, and making wide and deep ditches on the downs, to prevent the French from surprising him. When these three days were passed without any treaty being effected, the two cardinals went to St. Omer. the king of France, percieving he could not in any way succeed, decamped on the morrow, and took the road to amiens, where he disbanded all his troops, the men at arms as well as those sent from the different towns. When the Calesians saw them depart, it gave them great grief. Some of the english fell on their rear, and captured horses, and waggons laden with wine and other things, as well as some prisoners; all of which they brought to their camp before Calais.