When they had supped and sufficiently regaled themselves, each departed to his lodging with the knights and squires they had captured. Those that had taken them asked, what they could pay for their ransoms, without much hurting their fortunes; and willingly believed whatever they told them; for they had declared publicly, that they did not wish to deal harshly with any knight or squire that his ransom should be so burdensome as to prevent his following the profession of arms, or advancing his fortune. Towards morning, when these lords had heard mass, and had eaten and drunk a little, whilst the servants were packing up or loading the baggage, they decamped and advanced towards Poitiers.
That same night, the lord of Roye had entered the city of Poitiers with a hundred lances, that had not been engaged in the battle, for, having met the duke of Normandy near Chauvigny, he had commanded him to march for Poitiers, and to guard it until he should receive other orders. When the lord of Roye had entered Poitiers, he ordered the gates, towers, and walls, to be well watched that night, on account of the English being so near; and on the morning he armed all sorts of people, and posted them wherever he judged most convenient for the defence of the town. The English, however, passed by, without making any attempt upon it; for they were so laden with gold, silver, jewels, and great prisoners, that they did not attack any fortress in their march, but thought they should do great things if they were able to convey the king of France and his son, with all their booty, in safety to the city of Bordeaux. They returned, therefore, by easy marches, on account of their prisoners and heavy baggage, never advancing more than four or five leagues a-day: they encamped early, and marched in one compact body, without quitting the road, except the division of the marshals, who advanced in front, with about five hundred men at arms, to clear the country. They met with no resistance any where; for the whole country was in a state of consternation, and all the men at arms had retreated into the strong fortresses.
During this march, the prince of Wales was informed how lord James Audley had made a present of his pension of five hundred marcs to his four squires. He sent for him: lord James was carried in his litter to the presence of the prince, who received him very graciously, and said to him: “Sir James, I have been informed, that after you had taken leave of me, and were returned to your tent, you made a present to your four squires of the gift I presented to you. I should like to know if this be true, why you did so, and if the gift were not agreeable to you.” “Yes, my lord,” answered lord James, “it was most agreeable to me, and I will tell you the reasons which induced me to bestow it on my squires. These 229 four squires, who are here, have long and loyally served me, on many great and dangerous occasions; and until the day that I made them this present, I had not any way rewarded them for all their services; and never in this life were they of such help to me as on that day. I hold myself much bound to them for what they did at the battle of Poitiers; for, dear sir, I am but a single man, and can do no more than my powers admit, but, through their aid and assistance, I have accomplished my vow, which for a long time I had made, and by their means was the first combatant, and should have paid for it with my life, if they had not been near to me. When, therefore, I consider their courage, and the love they bear to me, I should not have been courteous nor grateful, if I had not rewarded them. Thank God, my lord, I have a sufficiency for my life, to maintain my state; and wealth has never yet failed me, nor do I believe it ever will. If, therefore, I have in this acted contrary to your wished, I beseech you, dear sir, to pardon me; for you will be ever as loyally served by me and my squires, to whom I gave your present, as heretofore.” The prince answered: “Sir James, I do not in the least blame you for what you have done, but, on the contrary, acknowledge your bounty to your squires whom you praise so much. I readily confirm your gift to them; but I shall insist upon your accepting of six hundred marcs, upon the same terms and conditions as the former gift.”
The prince of Wales and his army kept advancing, without meeting any obstacle, and, having passed through Poitou and Saintonge, came to Blaye, where he crossed the Garonne, and arrived in the good city of Bordeaux1. It is not possible to relate all the feasts and entertainments which the citizens and clergy of Bordeaux made for the prince, and with what joy they received him and the king of France. The prince conducted the king to the monastery of St. Andrew, where they were both lodged; the king on one side, and the prince on the other. The prince purchased from the barons, knights and squires of Gascony, 230 the ransoms of the greater part of the French earls who were there, and paid ready money for them. There were many meetings and disputes among the knights and squires of Gascony, and others, relative to the capture of the king of France. On this account, Denys de Morbeque, truly and by right of arms claimed him. He challenged another squire of Gascony, named Bernard de Trouttes, who had declared that he had an equal right to him. There was much disputing between them before the prince and the barons present: and as they had engaged to fight each other, the prince put them under an arrest, until they should be arrived in England, and forbade any thing more being said on the subject till they were in the presence of the king his father. However, as the king of France gave every assistance to sir Denys in support of his claim, and leaned more to him than to any of the other claimants, the prince ordered two thousand nobles to be given privately to Sir Denys, in order to enable him the better to support his rank.
Soon after the prince’s arrival at Bordeaux, the cardinal de Perigord came thither as, it was said, ambassador from the pope. It was upwards of a fortnight before the prince would speak to him, on account of the castellan of Amposta and his people having been engaged against him at the battle of Poitiers. The prince believed that the cardinal had sent them thither; but the cardinal, through the means of his relations, the lord of Chaumont, the lord of Montferrant, and the captal of Buch, gave such good reasons for his conduct to the prince, that he admitted him to an audience. Having obtained this, he exculpated himself so clearly that the prince and his council were satisfied; and he regained the place he before held in the prince’s affection. All his people were set at liberty at moderate ransoms: the castellan’s amounted to ten thousand francs, which he paid. The cardinal, soon after, began to touch upon the deliverance of king John: but I shall say little on that head, as nothing was done in the business. The prince, with his Gascons and English, remained all that winter at Bordeaux, where was much feasting and merriment; and they foolishly expended the gold and silver they had gained. In England also, there were great rejoicings, when the news arrived of the affair of Poitiers, and of the defeat of the French. Solemn thankgivings were offered up in all churches, and bonfires made in every town and village. Those knights and squires who returned to England; after having been in this battle, were honoured in preference to any others.