The English continued their march, until they had passed through Artois, the low country of which they found in great poverty and distress for provisions, and had entered Cambresis, where all things were in greater abundance: for the inhabitants of the plains had not carried their provisions into any fortresses, thinking themselves secure from the English, as forming a dependence of the empire; but the king of England did not consider them in that light, nor look upon Cambresis as part of the empire.
The king took up his quarters in the town of Beaurevoir in Cambresis, encamping his army in the neighbourhood, where they halted four days to refresh themselves and horses, and from whence they overran the greater part of the country of Cambresis. The bishop, Peter of Cambray, and the councils of the lords of the country and the principal towns, sent divers messengers, under a passport, to inquire the grounds of the war. They received for answer, that some time ago they had contracted alliances with the French, had aided them much, had supported them in their towns and fortresses, and had before made part in the war as enemies: that these were the reasons why the war was carried on in their country: nor could they get any other answer. The Cambresians were therefore obliged to put up with their losses and grievances as well as they could. The king continued his route through Cambresis, and entered Tierache1; but his people overran the country to the right and left, and took provisions wherever they could lay hands on them. It chanced, that in one of these foraging parties sir Bartholomew Burghersh, in riding towards St. Quentin, accidentally met the governor of that place, sir Baldwin d’Annequin, when both riders and horses met together: there was great confusion, and many were unhorsed on each side; but in the end the English gained the field, and sir Baldwin d’Annequin was captured by sir Bartholomew Burghersh, to whom he had been before a prisoner at the battle of Poitiers.
The English returned to the king, who that day was lodged in the abbey of Femy2, where they found great plenty of provisions for themselves and horses; they then passed on, and continued their march without any hindrance, so that they arrived in the environs of Rheims.
The king’s quarters were at St. Waal beyond Rheims, and the prince of Wales’ at St. Thierry3, where they held their courts. The duke of Lancaster, after them, kept the greatest household. The counts, barons, and knights, were quartered in the neighbouring villages to Rheims, so that they were not very comfortable, nor had they weather to please them; for they had arrived there in the depth of winter, about St. Andrew’s day, when it was very rainy: their horses were badly housed, hardly treated, and ill fed, as the whole country was so destroyed, by having been for two or three years before the theatre of war, that no one had tilled or sowed the ground. There was such scarcity of corn of all sorts, many were forced to seek forage ten or twelve leagues off. These parties met frequently with the garrisons of the neighbouring fortresses: sharp skirmishes ensued between them: sometimes the English lost, at others were victorious.
Sir John de Craon, archbishop of Rheims, the count de Porcien, sir Hugh de Porcien his brother, the lord de la Bone, the lord de Canency, the lord Dannore, the lord de Lore, were governors and captains of the town at the time the king of England besieged it. Many other barons, knights and squires of the district of Rheims were also there, who exerted themselves so much that the town suffered little loss or damage from the siege: besides, it was strong, well fortified, and as well defended. The king of England was not desirous of storming it, lest his army might suffer too much from wounds or fatigue; he remained, therefore, before it, from St. Andrew’s day to the beginning of Lent. Detachments from his army, however, scoured the country in search of adventures. Some of them went over the whole country of Rhetel, as far as Warq4, to Maisieres5, Donchery6, and Mouson7: they quartered themselves in the country for three or four days; and after having pillaged it without let or hindrance, they returned again to their army.
During the time that the king of England was before Rheims, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt had taken the good town of Achery-sur-Aine8; in which he had found a great quantity of provisions, and, in particular, upwards of three thousand butts of wine. He sent a large portion of it to the king of England and his sons, for which they were very thankful.
Whilst this siege lasted, many knights left it, to seek what good fortune they might find. Among others, sir John Chandos, sir James Audley, the lord of Mucident, sir Richard de Pontchardon, with their companies, advanced so near to Châlons in Champagne, that they came to Chargny-en-Dormois9, where there was a very handsome and strong castle. Having carefully examined it, they were very desirous of gaining this castle, and directly made an assault on it. Within it were two good and valiant knights as governors: the name of one was sir John de Caples, who bore for arms a cross anchored sable, on a shield or.
The attack was sharp and long: the two knights and their garrison defended themselves well: and it behoved them so to do, for they were assaulted very roughly. The lord of Mucident, who was a powerful and rich lord in Gascony, advanced so forward at this attack, that he received a severe blow from a stone on his helmet, through which it found a passage to his head: he was so badly wounded, that he could not be carried away, but died in the arms of his people. The other barons and knights were so enraged at the death of the lord of Mucident, they swore they would never quit the place until they had conquered the castle, and all that were in it. They renewed the assault with double vigour: many gallant deeds were performed: for the Gascons, being irritated by the loss of their lord, rushed into the ditches, close to the walls of the castle, without sparing themselves, and, placing their shields over their heads, climbed up them: the archers, in the meantime, kept such a continual volley of arrows, that no one dared to appear. The castle was so briskly assaulted that it was won, but it cost them dear. When the English were masters of it, they made the two knights prisoners who had so valiantly defended it, and some other squires and gentlemen: the rest of the garrison they put to the sword. They destroyed much of the castle of Chargny, because they did not wish to keep it, and returned to the king and his barons, to relate what they had performed.
During the time they were before Rheims, great animosities and hatred arose between the king of Navarre and the duke of Normandy. I am not perfectly well informed of the real cause10, but so it was, for the king of Navarre quitted Paris suddenly, and went to Mantes-sur-Seine, from whence he sent his challenge to the duke and his brothers. Many a baron was much surprised at this, and wondered for what cause the war was to be renewed. However, a squire from Brussels, whose name was Waustre Ostrate, under pretence of this war took the strong castle of Roulleboise upon the Seine, a short league from Mantes, which was afterwards a great annoyance to the Parisians and all the neighbourhood.
When the king of England was besieging Rheims, with his whole army, it happened that the lord Gomegines, who had returned to the queen in England, at the time the king had sent all strangers out of Calais, as had been before related, re-passed the sea, and with him some squires of Gascony and England, who accompanied him into Hainault, intending to join the army before Rheims. The young lord of Gomegines, being eager to advance himself, collected some men together on his return to Hainault. Many men at arms joined him, and served under his pennon. When they were all assembled, they might amount to about three hundred. They set out from Maubeuge11, where they had been mustered, and came to Avesnes12, which they passed through, and then to Trelon13.
The lord of Roye, at this period, was in garrison at Roye14 in Tierache: there were a great many companions with him, as well knights as squires; and he had been informed, by the spies he kept in pay on the borders of Hainault, of the lord of Gomegines having collected a body of forces, which he was marching to the assistance of the king of England before Rheims, and that he and his troops must pass through Tierache. As soon as the lord of Roye had ascertained the truth of this intelligence, he communicated it secretly to all his fellow-soldiers in the neighbourhood, and particularly to the lord Robert, canon de Robersart, who at that time managed the estates of the young earl de Coucy, and resided in the castle of Marle15. When the canon heard it, he was not slow in obeying the summons, but came to the lord of Roye with forty lances. The lord of Roye was chosen the chief of this expedition, as indeed he had reason to expect, for he was a powerful baron in Picardy, and for the times was a good man, and a gallant soldier, much renowned, and well spoken of in various places.
These French men at arms, who might amount to three hundred, posted themselves in ambuscade, on the road the lord of Gomegines and his troops must necessarily pass, who was quite ignorant of their intentions, and who thought to continue his march unmolested; he entered, therefore, Tierache, and taking the road to Rheims, came very early in the morning to a village called Habergny16, where they determined to halt for a short time to refresh themselves and horses, and then to continue their route without any more delay. They dismounted in this village, and began to make preparations for feeding their horses. Whilst his companions were thus employed, the lord of Gomegines, who was then young and wilful, said, he would ride out of the village to see if he could not meet with something better to forage. He called to him five or six of his companions, and Christopher de Mur17 his squire, who bore his pennon: they quitted the village furiously, but without any order or regularity.
It happened that the French knights and their troops were in ambuscade near this village: they had followed them the preceding day and night, in order that they might combat them with more certainty; and, if a proper opportunity had not offered itself in the plain, they intended to have entered the village, for the purpose of attacking them; but the lord of Gomegines fell into their hands. When the French lords perceived the lord of Gomegines and his company advancing on this secret excursion, they were at first surprised, and could not conceive who they might be. They sent two scouts on the look-out, who brought back word, that they were enemies. This news was no sooner heard than they quitted their ambuscade, each crying out, “Roye, for the lord of Roye!” The knights advanced before the lord of Roye, who had his banner displayed in front. There were sir Flamen de Roye and his cousin, sir Lewis de Robersart, the canon de Robersart his brother, who was a squire, sir Tristram de Bonne-roye, and others, each armed according to his condition, with their swords hanging to their wrists, and their spears couched, towards their enemies, crying out, "Roye, for the lord of Roye !"
When the lord of Gomegines perceived the ambuscade he had fallen into, he was much astonished; but he determined to stand his ground, and wait his enemies, for both himself and followers disdained to fly: they couched their spears, and formed themselves in order of battle. The French, being well-mounted, charged these English and Gascons, who were not very numerous; and, at the first charge, the lord of Gomegines was run through with a spear, and had not afterwards an opportunity, from the situation of the place, to remount his horse. His people fought valiantly, and many gallant deeds were done; but in the end the lord of Gomegines could not hold out; he was therefore made prisoner, on his parole. Two of his squires had fought valiantly, but were forced to yield, or they would have been slain, as well as Christopher de Mur, a valiant squire, who bore the pennon of the lord of Gomegines. To make an end of this affair, all those of the Gomegine party were either slain or made prisoners, except the valets, who, being well-mounted, saved themselves by flight. No pursuit was made after them, more weighty considerations occupying their enemies.