When all those things had been so ordered and settled that every one knew what he was to do, and they had remained in the city of Bayonne twelve days amusing themselves together, the king of Navarre took his leave, and set out for the kingdom of Navarre whence he had come. The other lords departed also, and each returned to his own home. Even the prince came back to Bordeaux; but the king of Castille remained at Bayonne. The prince immediately sent his heralds into Spain, to the knights and other captains who were English or Gascons attached to or dependent on him, to signify his orders to take their leave of the bastard, and to return as speedily as possible; for he had need of them, and should find them employment elsewhere. When the heralds who were the bearers of these orders to the knights in Castille came to them, they guessed they were sent for home: they immediately took leave of king Henry in the most courteous manner they could, without discovering either their own or the prince’s intentions. King Henry, who was liberal, courteous, and honourable, made them very handsome presents, thanking them most gratefully for their services. Sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt, sir Hugh Calverly, sir Walter Huet, sir Matthew Gournay, sir John Devreux, with their men, left Spain, and returned as speedily as possible. They were followed by several other knights and squires of the prince’s household, whose names I cannot remember.
The free companions were at this time scattered in different parts of the country, and did not receive this intelligence so soon as the other knights. Upon their receiving the information, sir Robert Briquet, John Treuelle1, sir Rabours2, sir Perducas d’Albret, sir Garsis du Chastel, Nandon de Bagerant, the bastard de l’Esparre, the bastard Camus, the bastard de Breteuil, assembled together and set out on their return.
King Henry had not heard of the prince’s intentions to bring his brother, don Pedro, back to Castille, so soon as these knights; and well it was for them he had not; otherwise if he had received this intelligence, they would not have been suffered to depart so easily; for he had the power to detain and vex them. However, when he knew the truth of it, he did not seem much affected by it: nevertheless, he spoke to sir Bertrand du Guesclin, who was still with him, as follows: “Sir Bertrand, think of the prince of Wales: they say, he intends to make war upon us, to replace by force this Jew, who calls himself king of Spain, upon our throne of Castille. What do you say to this?” To which sir Bertrand replied: ’He is so valiant and determined a knight that, since he has undertaken it, he will exert himself to the utmost to accomplish it. I would therefore advise you to guard well all the passes and defiles on every side, so that no one may enter or go out of your kingdom without your leave. In the mean time, keep up the affections of your subjects. I know for a truth, that you will have great assistance from many knights in France, who will be happy to serve you. I will, with your permission, return thither, where I am sure of finding several friends: and I will bring back with me as many as I possibly can.” “By my faith,” replied king Henry, ’you say well; and I will, in this business, follow everything you shall order.”
Not long after, sir Bertrand took leave of king Henry, and went to Arragon, where he was received with joy by the king; with whom he remained fifteen days, and then departed. He continued his journey to Montpelier, where he found the duke of Anjou, who was very happy to see him, as he loved him much. When he had passed some time there, he took his leave, and went to France, where he had a most gracious reception from the king.
When it was publicly known through Spain, Arragon and France, that the intentions of the prince of Wales were to replace don Pedro in the kingdom of Castille, it was a matter of great wonder to many, and was variously talked of. Some said, the prince was making this expedition through pride and presumption; that he was jealous of the honour sir Bertrand du Guesclin had obtained, in conquering Castille in the name of king Henry, and then making him king of it. Others said, that both pity and justice moved him to assist don Pedro in recovering his inheritance; for it was highly unbecoming a bastard to hold a kingdom, or bear the name of king. Thus were many knights and squires divided in their opinions. King Henry, however, was not idle: he sent ambassadors to the king of Arragon, to entreat of him that he would not enter into any treaty or convention with the prince and his allies; for that he was, and would continue to be, his good neighbour and friend.
The king of Arragon, who esteemed him much, for in former times he had found don Pedro very overbearing, assured him, that upon no account, no, not for the loss of one half of his kingdom, would he enter into any treaty with the prince nor with don Pedro, but would lay open his kingdom to all sorts of men who should wish to enter Spain to his assistance, and would shut it up from all who had evil intentions against him. This king of Aragon kept faithfully all he had promised to king Henry; for as soon as he knew that don Pedro was aided by the prince, and that the companies were marching that way, he ordered all the passes of Arragon to be closed, and caused them to be strictly guarded. He posted men at arms and watchmen on the mountains and in the defiles of Catalonia, so that no one could pass that way without great danger.
The companies, however, on their return, found out another road; they had much to endure from famine and other evils before they could be free from danger in Arragon. They advanced to the frontiers of the country of Foix, but could not obtain permission to pass through it; for the earl was not desirous that such people should enter his territories. News was brought of their distress to the prince, who was then at Bordeaux, occupying his mind night and day on the best means of executing this expedition with honour. He saw that these companies could neither pass nor return into Aquitaine, for the defiles of Arragon and Catalonia were well guarded, and they were now on the borders of the country of Foix very ill at their ease. He was therefore alarmed, lest the king of Arragon or don Henry should gain by force, or by large gifts and promises, these companies (who were upwards of twelve thousand men, from whom he expected great assistance), and they might be engaged to fight against him. The prince, therefore, determined to send sir John Chandos to meet and to retain them. He at the same time ordered him to wait on the earl of Foix, to beg that, for his love to him, he would allow these companies to pass through his country, and that he would pay double the value for any mischief they might commit in their march. Sir John Chandos undertook this journey most willingly, to oblige his lord: he set out from Bordeaux, and rode on to Dacqs3; thence he continued his route until he arrived in the country of Foix, where he waited on the earl.
He found these companies in a country called Basques4, where he entered into a treaty with them, and managed it so well that they all agreed to serve the prince, in his intended expedition, upon having a handsome sum of money paid down to them, which sir John Chandos swore to see done. He again returned to the earl of Foix, and entreated him most earnestly that he would permit those companies, who now belonged to the prince, to pass through one end of his domain. The earl, who was desirous of pleasing the prince, and firmly attached to him, in order to gratify his wishes, complied with the request, provided they did no damage to him or to his lands. This sir John Chandos promised to be answerable for, and sent back one of his squires, attended by a herald, with the treaty he had made with the earl of Foix, to the commanders of the companies. He then returned to Bordeaux, and related to the prince his journey, and the successful issue of it. The prince, who loved him and had great confidence in him, was well pleased with both. The prince was at this time in the full vigour of youth, and had never been weary or satiated with war, since the first time he bore arms, but was always looking forwards to some achievement of high renown. This Spanish expedition occupied his mind entirely. Both honour and compassion urged him to replace on his throne, by force of arms, a king who had been driven from it.
He conversed frequently on this subject with sir John Chandos and sir William Felton, who were his principal advisers, and asked them their opinions. These two knights truly said: ”My lord, this undoubtedly is, without comparison, a much more difficult enterprise than driving him out of his realm; for he was detested by his subjects, insomuch that they all fled from him when he most wanted their help. The bastard king at this moment possesses the kingdom from the affection which the nobility, prelates and commonalty bear him; and therefore they will do everything in their power to keep and maintain him as their king, whatever may be the consequences. It behoves you then to have a sufficient number of archers and men at arms; for you will find, on your entering Spain, work enough for them. We advise you also to melt the best part of your plate and treasure, of which you are abundantly furnished, that it may be coined into money, for you to distribute liberally among the companions who are to serve under you in this expedition, and who, from affection to you alone, will engage to do so; for as to don Pedro, they will do nothing on his account. You should send likewise to the king your father, to beg of him to allow you to receive the hundred thousand francs which the king of France is bound to send to England in a short time. You ought also to collect money wherever you can procure it (for you will have need of an immense quantity), without taxing your subjects or country; by which means you will be more beloved of them.”
These and such like counsels, equally good and loyal, were at times given by those two knights, and followed by the prince. He had his plate, both gold and silver, broken and coined into money, which he liberally distributed among the free companies. He also sent to England, to request that he might obtain from the king the hundred thousand francs before mentioned. The king of England, who knew the wants of the prince, immediately complied, wrote to the king of France on this subject, and sent him proper acquittances for the sum he was to pay him. The hundred thousand francs were by this means paid to the prince, who divided them among different men at arms.
During the time the prince passed at Angoulême, he was one day amusing himself in his apartment with many knights of Gascony, Poitou and England, joking each other alternately upon this Spanish expedition, (sir John Chandos was at the time absent, on his journey to retain the companies), when he turned himself towards the lord d’Albret, and said; “My lord d’Albret, how many men can you bring into the field for this expedition?” Lord d’Albret was quick in his answer, replying, “My lord, if I wished to ask all my friends, that is, all my vassals, I can bring full a thousand lances, and leave a sufficiency behind to guard the country.” “By my head, lord d’Albret, that is handsome,” returned the prince: then looking at sir William Felton and other English knights, he added in English, “On my faith, one ought to love that country well where there is a baron who can attend his lord with a thousand lances.” Then, again addressing himself to the lord d’Albret, he said: “Lord d’Albret, with great willingness I retain them all.” “Let it be so, then, in God’s name, my lord,” answered the lord d’Albret. This engagement was the cause of much mischief hereafter, as you will see in the course of this history.