When the king of England was arrived at Calais, attended by the prince of Wales and three other sons, namely, Lionel earl of Ulster, John earl of Richmond, and Edmund, afterwards earl of Cambridge, the youngest of the four, with the following lords and their attendants, he ordered the cavalry, provision, and baggage, to be landed, and remained there four days. He then commanded every man to get ready; for he was desirous of marching after his cousin the duke of Lancaster.
He left the town of Calais on the next morning, and took the field with the largest army and best appointed train of baggage-waggons, that had ever quitted England. It was said, there were upwards of six thousand carts and waggons, which had all been brought with him. He then arranged his battalions: they were so richly and well dressed that it was a pleasure to look at them: he nominated his cousin the earl of March, whom he much loved, his constable.
First marched five hundred knights, well armed, and a thousand archers, in the van of the king’s battalion, which was composed of three thousand men at arms and five thousand archers; himself and attendants riding among them in close order after the constable. In the rear of the king’s battalion, was the immense baggage-train, which occupied two leagues in length: it consisted of upwards of five thousand carriages, with a sufficiency of horses to carry the provision for the army, and those utensils never before accustomed to be carried after an army, such as handmills to grind their corn, ovens to bake their bread, and a variety of other necessary articles. Next marched the strong battalion of the prince of Wales: he was accompanied by his brothers: it was composed of full two thousand men at arms, most excellently mounted and richly dressed. Both the men at arms and archers marched in close order, so that they were ready instantly to engage, should there be occasion. On their march, they did not leave even a boy behind them without waiting for them, so that they could not well advance more than four leagues a-day.
In this state, they were met by the duke of Lancaster with the foreign lords, as has been before related, between Calais and the abbey of Licques1, in a handsome plain. There were also, in this army of the king of England, five hundred pioneers with spades and pick-axes, to level the roads, and cut down trees and hedges, for the more easily passing of the carriages.
I wish now to name the great lords of England who crossed the sea with the king, and the duke of Lancaster his cousin-german: — First then, there were his four sons already named; Henry duke of Lancaster; John earl of March, constable of England; the earls of Warwick and Suffolk, marshals of England; the earls of Hereford, Northampton, Salisbury, Stamford, Oxford; the bishops of Lincoln and Durham; the lords Percy, Neville, Despenser, Roos, Manny, Reginald Cobham, Mowbray, Delawarre; sir John Chandos, sir Richard Pembridge2, the lord Maine, the lord Willoughby, the lord Felton, the lord Basset, the lord Charlton3, the lord Silvancier3; sir James Audley, sir Bartholomew de Burghersh, the lord Scales, sir Stephen Cossington, sir Hugh Hastings, sir John Lisle, sir Nesle Loring, and a great many others whom I cannot recollect.
These lords then rode on in the same order I mentioned on their quitting Calais, and marched through Artois, passing by Arras, taking the same road which the duke of Lancaster had done before. They, however, could not find any provision in the flat countries, for every thing had been carried into the different garrisons. The country had been so pillaged and destroyed, that the ground had not been cultivated for the last three years; and there was such distress and famine in the kingdom of France, that if corn and oats had not been sent from Hainault and the Cambresis, into Artois, Vermandois, the bishopric of Laon, and Rheims, must have died with hunger. It was upon this account, that the king, who had been informed of the poverty and distress in France, had made such ample provision before he quitted England. Each lord had done the same according to his rank, except in the articles of straw and oats, and for that they did with their horses as well as they could. The season, however, was very rainy, which hurt greatly both themselves and their horses; for almost every day and night it rained in torrents, so that the vintage of this year was worth nothing.
The king continued his march, by short journeys, with his whole army, until he came near Bapaume4. I must notice here an adventure which befel sir Galahaut de Ribemmont, a very gallant and expert knight of Picardy. I will first inform you, that all the towns, cities and castles, near the road that the king of England was following, were well guarded; for each town in Picardy took and received knights and squires into their pay. The count de St. Pol had posted himself, with two hundred knights, in Arras; the constable of France in Amiens; the lord de Monsault in Corbie; sir Odart de Renty and sir Enguerrant de Hedin in Bapaume; sir Baldwin de Annequin, captain of the cross-bowmen, in St. Quentin: and thus from city to city, for it was well known to all that the king of England was marching to lay siege to the good city of Rheims. It happened, that the inhabitants of Peronne in Vermandois had neither captain nor leader; and as their town was on the line of march the king was taking, and the English very near, they were not at their ease. This town is situated upon the river Somme; and the English followed the course of the rivers in preference: they bethought themselves, therefore, of sir Galahaut de Ribemmont, who was not at that time engaged to any town, and, as they had heard, was at Tournay. They sent thither to him most courteous letters, to intreat that he would come to assist in guarding the good town of Peronne, and bring as many companions as were attached to him; that they would pay him every day, for himself, twenty livres; for each knight under him, ten livres; and each lance having three horses, seven livres5 a-day.
Sir Galahaut was always eager for any warlike enterprise, and, finding himself thus courteously sought after by his neighbours of Peronne, readily complied with their request, and answered, that he would set out and be with them the day after the morrow. He left Tournay with about thirty lances; but his numbers, as he rode on, increased. He sent to sir Roger de Cologne, to meet him at an appointed place, which sir Roger did, accompanied by nineteen good companions, so that sir Galahaut had now fifty lances. They took up their quarters one night, in their way to Peronne, within two short leagues of the enemy, at a village, but where they found no one, for all the inhabitants of the low countries had fled to the fortified towns. On the next morning, they were to have got into Peronne, as they were but a small distance from it. About the hour of midnight, when supper was over, after they had posted their watch, they were chatting and jesting about feats of arms, of which they had wherewithal to talk, sir Galahaut said: “We shall get into Peronne very early to-morrow morning; but, before we make our entry there, I would propose an excursion towards the flanks of our enemies; for I shall be much mistaken, if there will not be some of them who will set out early in hopes of gaining honour or booty by pillaging the country; and we may perchance meet with them, and make them pay our score.” His companions immediately agreed to this proposal, kept it secret among themselves, and were ready with their horses saddled at break of day. They took the field in good order, and, leaving the road which led to Peronne, skirted the woods to see if they could meet with any one: they arrived at a village, the inhabitants of which had fortified the church: sir Galahaut dismounted at this place, where there was wine, with bread and meat in plenty, which were offered to them by those within. Whilst they were at this place, sir Galahaut called to him two of his squires, one of whom was Bridoul de Tallonne, and said to them; “Ride forward, and examine the country round, to see if you can perceive any one: and, if you find nothing, return here to us: we will wait for you.” The two squires set off, mounted on good horses, and made for a wood which was about half a French league distant.
This same morning, sir Reginald de Boullant, a German knight belonging to the duke of Lancaster’s division, had rode forth since day-break, and, having made a large circuit without seeing any one, had halted at that spot. The two squires, being come thither, imagined they might be some persons of the country, who had placed themselves there in ambuscade, and rode so near that each party saw the other. The two Frenchmen, therefore, consulted together, and said, “If they be Germans, we must pretend we belong to them: if they be of this part of the country, we will tell them who we are.” When they were so near each other that they could speak, the two squires soon perceived, by their uniforms, that they were Germans and their enemies. Sir Reginald de Boullant spoke to them in German, and inquired whose soldiers they were. Bridoul de Tallonne, who well understood that language, answered, “We belong to sir Bartholomew Burghersh.” “And where is sir Bartholomew?” “He is,” replied he, “in that village.” “For what reason has he stopped there?” “Sir, because he has sent us forward, to see if we can find any thing to forage in this part of the country.” “By my faith, there is not,” answered sir Reginald; “for I have been all over it, and have not been able to pick up any thing. Return to him, and tell him to advance, and we will ride together as far as St. Quentin, and see if we cannot find out a better country, or some good adventure.” “And who are you?” demanded the squire. “I am called Reginald de Boullant,” answered the knight, “and say so to sir Bartholomew.” Upon this the two squires turned about, and went to the village where they had left their master. As soon as sir Galahaut saw them, he asked, “What news? have you found or seen any thing?” “Yes, sir, enough, in conscience: beyond this wood is sir Reginald de Boullant, with about thirty more: he has been riding about this neighbourhood all this morning, and desires much to have your company to ride further towards St. Quentin.” “How,” replied sir Galahaut, “what are you saying? sir Reginald de Boullant is a German knight, and in the service of England.” “All this we know well,” answered the squire. “Then how could you get away from him?” “Sir,” said Bridoul, “I will tell you.” He then related to him all that conversation which has just been mentioned.
When sir Galahaut heard what had passed, he was for a moment thoughtful, and then asked the opinions of sir Roger de Cologne and some other knights present, what was best to be done. The knights answered, “Sir, you are seeking for adventures, and, when they fall into your mouth, take advantage of them, for by all means, allowed by the laws of arms, every man ought to molest his enemy.” To this advice sir Galahaut cheerfully assented, for he was very desirous of meeting the Germans. He ordered his steed to be got ready, and put on his helmet with the visor down, that he might not be known: the rest did the same. They quitted the village, and, getting into the fields, rode to the right for the wood, where sir Reginald was waiting for them. They might be about seventy men at arms, and sir Reginald had but thirty. As soon as sir Reginald perceived them advancing, he collected his men together in a very orderly manner, and thus left his ambuscade, with his pennon displayed before him, and marched with a gentle pace to meet the French, whom he believed to be English. When he was come up with them, he raised his visor, and saluted sir Galahaut, by the name of sir Bartholomew Burghersh. Sir Galahaut kept his face covered, and replied in a low voice, adding, “Come, come, let us ride on.” Upon which, his people drew off on one side, and the Germans on the other. When sir Reginald de Boullant noticed his manner, and that sir Galahaut was eyeing him askance without saying a word, some doubts entered his mind. He had not rode a quarter of an hour before he stopped short, under his banne,r in the midst of his people, and said aloud: “I have some suspicions, sir knight, that you are not sir Bartholomew de Burghersh; for I am well acquainted with sir Bartholomew, and hitherto I have not seen your face; therefore, you must tell me your real name, before I ride any farther in your company.” At these words, sir Galahaut raised his visor, and advanced towards the knight, in order to seize the reins of his horse, crying out, “Our lady of Ribemmont!” which was echoed by sir Roger de Cologne, crying, “Cologne, to the rescue!”
Sir Reginald, perceiving his mistake, was not much frightened, but laying his hand quickly on his sword of war, which he wore by his side, that was both stiff and strong drew it out of the scabbard; and, as sir Galahaut advanced to take the bridle, sir Reginald gave him so furious a stroke with this sword, that it penetrated the armour, and passed through his body. Having drawn it back again, he stuck spurs in his horse, and left sir Galahaut grievously wounded.
The companions of sir Galahaut, perceiving their master and captain in such a condition, were like madmen: they threw themselves up, and attacked the party of sir Reginald most fiercely, when some of them were unhorsed. As for sir Reginald himself, he had no sooner struck sir Galahaut than, clapping spurs to his horse, he had galloped off. Some of sir Galahaut’s squires pursued him, whilst others were engaged with the Germans, with the intention of being fully revenged: but sir Reginald, who was a bold and accomplished knight, was not much alarmed: however, when he found himself so closely pursued, that it was proper to turn about or be disgraced, he wheeled round, and struck the nearest so violently with his strong sword, that he had not any desire to follow him further: thus, as he was riding off, he beat down and severely wounded three; and had he had a sharp battle-axe in his hand, every one of his strokes would have killed a man. In this manner did the knight escape from the French, without receiving the smallest wound, which his enemies, as well as all those who heard of it, considered as a most gallant act: but it fared otherwise with his people, as they were almost all killed or made prisoners, scarcely any escaping. They placed sir Galahaut de Ribemmont, who was very severely wounded, on a litter, and carried him to Peronne to a physician. He was never perfectly cured of this wound; for he was a knight of such courage that he would not allow it time to heal, so that he died shortly afterward.
We will now return to the king of England, and relate how he laid siege to the city and castle of Rheims.