The king of England and his army remained five days in Tonnerre, on account of the good wines he found there. The castle was often assaulted; but it was well provided with men at arms, commanded by sir Baldwin d’Annequin, master of the cross-bows. When they had well-reposed and refreshed themselves in Tonnerre, they marched off, and crossed the river Armançon. The king of England left the road to Auxerre on his right hand, and took that which leads to Noyers1: his intentions were to enter Burgundy and pass his Lent there. He and his whole army marched above Noyers; but he would not suffer any attack to be made on it, as the lord of it was his prisoner since the battle of Poitiers. They marched on for their quarters to a town called Montroyal2, situated on a river called Selletes; and, when the king left it, he went up that river, and proceeded straight to take possession of his lodging at Guillon3, which is also on its banks; for one of his squires called John d’Alençon, who bore for his arms a scutcheon argent in a field azure, had taken the town of Flavigny4 in its neighbourhood, and had found within it a sufficiency of provision for the whole army for a month. This was very fortunate, as the king remained there from the night of Ash-Wednesday until Mid-lent. His marshals and light troops scoured the country round, burning and destroying it, and frequently bringing to the army fresh provisions.
I must inform you, that the king of England and his rich lords were followed by carts laden with tents, pavilions, mills, and forges, to grind their corn and make shoes for their horses, and every thing of that sort which might be wanting. For this purpose there were upwards of six thousand carts, each of them drawn by four good and strong horses which had been transported from England. Upon these carts also were many vessels and small boats, made surprisingly well of boiled leather: they were large enough to contain three men, to enable them to fish any lake or pond, whatever might be its size: and they were of great use to the lords and barons during Lent: but the commonalty made use of what provisions they could get. The king had, besides, thirty falconers on horseback, laden with hawks: sixty couple of strong hounds, and as many greyhounds; so that every day he took the pleasure of hunting or fishing either by land or water5. Many lords had their hawks and hounds as well as the king.
Their army was always in three divisions, and each person kept to his division: there was also a vanguard to every one of them, and their quarters were one league distant from each other, the king being with the third and largest division. This order was constantly kept on their march from Calais, until they came before the town of Chartres.
During the time the king of England remained at Guillon, where he was living on the provision which John d’Alençon had found in Flavigny, his thoughts were employed in devising means to keep and maintain himself in France. The young duke of Burgundy and his council, at the request of his subjects, sent to the king divers lords and knights, as ambassadors to treat with him, so that the duchy of Burgundy should not be destroyed or pillaged. The under-named lords accepted this commission: first the lord Anselme de Sallins, great chancellor of Burgundy, sir James de Vienne, sir John Derie, sir Hugh de Vienne, sir William de Thoroise and sir John de Montmartin. These lords managed the affair so well, and found the king of England in such good humour, that a treaty was soon entered into between them; and a composition was made, that for three years no part of the duchy of Burgundy should be overrun, on condition of having 200,000 livres paid down6. When this treaty was finished and sealed, the king and his whole army dislodged, and set out on his return, taking the straight road for Paris, fixing his quarters at Avalon7 upon the river Cousin, below Vezelay8.
The quarters of his army extended from the river Yonne as far as Clamecy9, to the entrance of the county of Nevers. The English entered Gatinois; and the king made such forced marches that he came so near Paris as to take up his quarters within two short leagues of it, at Bourg-la-Reine. As he and his army passed through the country, they destroyed it on all sides. On the other hand, the garrisons which he had in Picardy, Beauvoisis, the Isle of France, Champagne and Brie, carried on a continual war, and ruined the country.
The king of Navarre resided in Normandy, and made a cruel war against France, insomuch that that noble kingdom was so grievously oppressed, it did not know which way to turn itself.
But above all, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt was the most active: his quarters were at Cheny-sur-Aisne, where he had a strong garrison of soldiers and men at arms, who overran, pillaged and ransomed the good county of Rethel, from Donchery to Mezières, and as far as Chesne-le-Pouilleux and Stenay10, in the county of Bay11. They quartered themselves wherever they chose in all that country, for two or three nights, without opposition from any one, and then returned unmolested to their garrison at Cheny, to refresh and recruit themselves. It is true indeed, that all the neighbouring lords, knights and squires threatened them much: they met together, and appointed different days for their assembling, to take the field and besiege sir Eustace in his castle of Cheny; but nothing in fact was done.
It had happened that these adventurers (whose whole thoughts, night and day, were occupied on the best means of taking towns, and in what parts of the country they should find most to pillage) came one night to a good town with a strong castle, situated in the Laonois12, tolerably near to Montagu13, and in a very deep marshy country, the name of which was Pierrepont14. At this time, there were in it a great many people of the country, who had carried thither their goods, trusting to the strength of the place. When sir Eustace’s companions arrived, the guard was asleep: they marched, therefore, through the deep marshes with much loss, for their avarice urged them one, and they came to the walls of the town, which they entered without resistance, and robbed at their pleasure. They found in it more riches than in any other place; and, when it was day, they burnt the town, and returned to Cheny, well laden with booty15.