The earl of Montfort, as it has been before related, laid siege to Auray, and declared that he would not leave it until he had conquered it; at which those of the castle were not very well pleased. They had lost their captain, Henri de Hauternelle, who had fallen in the battle with the flower of the garrison; so that they were very few to defend it, and without hope of assistance. They took counsel together, whether it would not be advisable to surrender, on having their lives and fortunes saved, and on these terms entered into a negotiation with the earl. The earl, who had many other places to look to, and was not certain how the country would act after this victory, accepted their terms, allowing those who would not remain with him to depart according to their inclinations. He then took possession of the castle, new garrisoned it, and marched forward with his whole army, which increased daily; for men at arms and archers came to him in crowds, and many knights and squires turned to his party, especially those from Lower Brittany.
He came before the good town of Jugon1, which shut its gates against him. He remained there three days, and ordered it to be assaulted twice, which occasioned many both within and without the walls to be badly wounded. Those in Jugon, seeing themselves thus hardly pressed, and no hopes of aid, did not wish to be further harassed: they acknowledged, therefore, the earl of Montfort for their lord, opened the gates, and swore homage and fealty to him, which they faithfully promised to keep. The earl changed all the municipal officers, appointing new ones in their stead.
He then advanced towards the city of Dinan2 and laid siege to it, which continued during the winter; for that town was well furnished with men at arms and provision: besides, the duke of Anjou had exhorted them to behave themselves as good men should do (for he had assisted them): this made them hold out, and suffer many a sharp assault. When they found their provision growing low, and that no relief was coming to them, they entered into a treaty of peace with the earl, who willingly listened to it; for he was desirous of nothing but that they should acknowledge him as their lord, which they did. He made a solemn entry into the town of Dinan, where all the inhabitants swore homage and fealty to him.
After this, the earl marched with his army to the city of Quimper Corentin3. He laid close siege to it, and ordered large machines to be brought from Vannes and Dinan, saying, he would have it before he left it. I must now inform you, that the English and the Bretons of Montfort’s party, such as sir John Chandos and others, who had made prisoners at the battle of Auray, would not accept of ransoms for them, nor allow them to go and seek for money; because they were unwilling they should again assemble in a body and offer them battle: they sent them into Poitou, Saintonge, Bordeaux, and la Rochelle, to remain there as prisoners. During this time, the English and Bretons conquered all Brittany, from one end to the other. Whilst the earl of Montfort was besieging the city of Quimper Corentin, to which he did much damage by his machines that played night and day, as well by his assaults, his men overran the country, leaving nothing unpillaged.
The king of France was duly informed of all that was going on: many councils were held to consider how he could turn these affairs of Brittany to his own interest; for they were in a desperate situation, unless promptly remedied, and he would be forced to call upon his subjects to support him in a new war against England on account of Brittany. This his council advised him not to think of; but, after many deliberations, they said to him: “Our most dear lord, you have supported your cousin, the lord Charles de Blois, in Brittany, as did the king your father, and your grandfather Philip, who gave to him the heiress of the last duke of Brittany in marriage; by which means much evil has befallen Brittany and the neighbouring countries. Since the lord Charles de Blois, your cousin, was slain in defending that country, there is no one now of his party in a situation to resume the war; for at this moment those to whom it belongs, and whom it touches so nearly, are prisoners in England: we mean the lord John and lord Guy de Blois, his two sons. We hear every day of the earl of Montfort conquering towns and castles, which he possesses as his lawful inheritance: by this means you will lose your rights, as well as the homage of Brittany, which is certainly a great honour and a noble appendage to your crown. This you ought to endeavour to keep; for, if the earl of Montfort should acknowledge for his lord the king of England, ,as his father did, you will not be able to recover it without great wars with England, with whom we are now at peace, and which we would advise you not to break. Everything, therefore, fully considered, we recommend to you, our dear lord, to send ambassadors and wise negotiators to the earl of Montfort, to find out what his intentions are, an to enter upon a treaty of peace with him, as well as with the country, and the lady of it, who bears the title of duchess. You will derive from these negotiators positive information as to what are his intentions. At the worst, it will be much better he should remain duke of Brittany (provided that he will acknowledge you for his lord, and pay you all your rights, as a loyal man should do) than that this business should continue longer in peril.”
The king of France willingly assented to this proposal. The lord John de Craon, archbishop of Rheims, the lord de Craon his cousin, and the lord de Boucicaut, were ordered to set out for Quimper Corentin, to treat with the earl of Montfort and his council, as it has been above related. These three lords departed, after having received full instructions how they were to act, and rode on until they came to the siege which the English and Bretons were laying to Quimper Corentin, where they announced themselves as ambassadors from France. The earl of Montfort, sir John Chandos, and the members of the council, received them with pleasure. These lords explained the cause of their coming. To this first opening, the earl of Montfort replied, “We will consider of it,” and fixed a day for his answer: during this interval, these lords retired to Rennes, where they resided.
The earl of Montfort despatched lord Latimer4 to the king of England to inform him of the proposals for a peace he had received, and to have his advice on the subject. The king of England, having considered them, advised the earl to make a peace, on condition the duchy should be his, and also to make handsome reparation to the lady who was called duchess, by assigning her a fixed annuity, or rent-charge, on certain lands where she might collect it without danger.
Lord Latimer brought back the opinion of the king of England to the earl of Montfort, who was still before Quimper Corentin. Upon the arrival of these letters, the earl and his council sent to the ambassadors from France, who had remained at Rennes: they came immediately to the army, and had a very courteous and civil answer given to them. They were told that the earl of Montfort would never give up his claims to the duchy of Brittany, happen what might, but would keep and maintain the title and rights of duke of Brittany, which he was now possessed of: that, nevertheless, wherever the king of France should cause any cities, towns, or castles to surrender peaceably upon the same terms of homage, fealty, and rights, as they were held from the preceding duke of Brittany, he would willingly acknowledge him for his liege lord, and would do him homage and service in the presence of the peers of France. Moreover, on account of the affinity between him and his cousin, the widow of the lord Charles de Blois, he was willing to do everything to assist her; and would also use his endeavours to obtain the liberty of his cousins, the lords John and Guy de Blois, who were detained prisoners in England.
This answer was very agreeable to the French lords who had been sent thither: a day was appointed for them to declare their acceptance of these terms or not: they instantly sent information of what had passed to the duke of Anjou, who had retired to Angers, to whom the king had referred the acceptance of the terms, according to his pleasure. When the duke of Anjou had considered the proposals for some time, he gave his assent. The two knights who had been sent to him returned with his answer sealed. The ambassadors of France again left Rennes, and went to Quimper Corentin, when a peace with the lord of Montfort was finally agreed to and sealed.
He was to remain duke of Brittany; but, in case he should have no legal heirs by marriage, the duchy should revert, after his decease, to the children of lord Charles de Blois. The lady who had been the wife of lord Charles was created countess of Penthičvre, with the lands attached to it; which lands were supposed worth about twenty thousand francs a-year, or it not, that sum was to be made up to her. The earl of Montfort engaged to go to France, whenever he should be summoned, to do homage to the king of France, and acknowledge that he held the duchy of him. Charters and publicly sealed instruments were drawn up of all these articles. Thus had the earl of Montfort possession of Brittany: he remained duke of it for a time, until new wars began, as you shall hear in the following history. Among these articles, it was stipulated, that the lord de Clisson should re-possess those lands which king Philip had formerly taken from his family. this lord de Clisson gained the confidence of the king of France, who did whatever he wished, and without him nothing was done. The whole country of Brittany was full of joy upon the conclusion of a peace. The duke received homages from cities, towns, castles, prelates, and gentlemen.
Soon afterwards, the duke married5 the daughter of her royal highness the princess of Wales, which she had borne to her former husband, the lord Thomas Holland. The nuptials were celebrated with great pomp and magnificence in the good city of Nantes.
It also happened this winter, that queen Jane, aunt to the king of Navarre, and queen Blanche, his sister, laboured so earnestly for peace that it was concluded between the kings of France and Navarre, assisted much by the advice and prudence of the captal de Buch, who took great pains in the business. He also obtained his liberty by it. The king of France showed him great marks of esteem, and, as a proof of it, gave him the handsome castle of Nemours, with all its rights, appurtenances, and jurisdictions, which were worth three thousand francs of revenue. The captal became, by this means, liege man to the king of France. The king was well pleased at receiving him a homager; for he loved much the service of a knight such as the captal; but he was not so long, for, when he was returned into the principality to the prince, who had been informed of what had passed, he was much blamed, and told that he could not acquit himself loyally in his service to two lords: that he was over covetous, when he accepted of lands in France, where he was neither honoured nor beloved. When he found himself in this situation, and so treated and taunted by the prince of Wales, his own natural lord, he was quite ashamed of himself, and made excuses, saying, “that he was not by any means too much connected with the king of France, and that he could very easily undo all that had been done.” He sent, therefore, by his own squire, his homage back to the king of France, renounced all that had been given him, and remained attached to the prince.
Among the articles of the treaty between the kings of France and Navarre, the towns of Mantes and Meulan were to be given the king of France, who restored to the king of Navarre other castles in Normandy.
About this time, the lord Louis de Navarre set out from France, and passed through Lombardy, to espouse the queen of Naples6. At his departure, he borrowed of the king of France sixty thousand francs, upon the security of some castles which belonged to him in Normandy. He survived his marriage with that queen but a short time. May God forgive him his faults! for he was a good and courteous knight.