The Chronicles of Sir John Froissart

Chapter CCXLV

The bastard Henry of Castille, by the assistance of the king of
Arragon and sir Bertrand du Guesclin, again make war upon his brother don Pedro.
Having defeated him in a battle, he is made prisoner, and murdered.
Henry remains king of Spain.

The situation of the prince of Wales and the state of his affairs were well known to the neighbouring monarchs; particularly to the king of Arragon and king Henry; for they took great pains to gain information concerning them. They had been truly told how the barons of Gascony were gone to Paris, to wait on the king; and that all the country was beginning to rebel against the prince. This intelligence was not displeasing to either of the above-mentioned kings, especially king Henry, who looked forward to the conquest of Castille, which he had lost through the power of the prince of Wales.

King Henry took leave of the king of Arragon, and set out from the city of Valencia, accompanied by the viscounts de Roquebertin1 and de Rhodez. They had with them three thousand men at arms and six thousand infantry, including some Genoese, who served for a subsidy. This body of men at arms advanced into Spain, to the city of Burgos, which instantly opened its gates, and surrendered to king Henry, receiving him as its lord. From thence they marched to Valladolid; for king Henry had received information that the king of Majorca had been left there, which gave him great joy.

When the inhabitants of Valladolid heard that those of Burgos had surrendered and had acknowledged king Henry, they no longer thought of making any resistance, or holding out against him, but surrendered also, and received king Henry as their lord, in the same manner as formerly. As soon as king Henry had entered the town, he inquired where the king of Majorca was lodged, and when the place was pointed out to him, he immediately, on his going thither, entered the hôtel and the room where he was confined by illness. King Henry advanced towards him, and said: “King of Majorca, you have been our enemy, and have entered our kingdom of Castille with a large army; for which reasons we lay our hands on you, and make you our prisoner, or you are a dead man.” The king of Majorca, sensible of the difficulty of his situation, and that opposition would be of no avail, replied: “Sir, I am certainly dead, if you order it so; but I am very willing to surrender myself as your prisoner, and to you alone. If you intend to place me in any other’s hands, say so; for I had much rather die than fall into the hands of my adversary the king of Arragon.” “By no means whatever,” answered King Henry, “will I act so disloyally by you, for which, and with good reason I should be greatly blamed. You shall remain my prisoner for me to ransom or set at liberty according to my own will and pleasure2.” Thus was the king of Majorca made prisoner, on his oath, by king Henry, who placed a numerous garrison in Valladolid, for the more securely guarding it, and then advanced towards the city of Leon in Spain, which immediately opened its gates on hearing he was marching that way.

Upon the surrender of the city of Leon to king Henry, the whole province of Galicia did the same, and changed their party. The principal barons and lords, who had lately done homage to the king don Pedro, came out to meet king Henry; for, notwithstanding their outward appearances of friendship to don Pedro during the presence of the prince of Wales, they could not love him, from the cruelties he had formerly exercised upon them, and from their doubts of what he might do in future; whilst king Henry had always treated them kindly: not only did he not oppress them, but promised to do them much good: all the country, therefore, returned to their allegiance to him.

Sir Bertrand du Guesclin had not as yet arrived in Spain, but was hastening to join king Henry with two thousand fighting men. He had left the duke of Anjou, who had put an end to the war in Provence, and broken up the siege of Tarascon by a capitulation with its inhabitants, the terms of which I do not know3. He had therefore set out for Spain, attended by several French knights and squires, who were desirous of signalizing their prowess, and had already entered Arragon to join king Henry, who was laying siege to the town of Toledo.

News was brought to the king don Pedro of all these conquests; that the whole country was turning to his brother the Bastard, during the time he tarried in the neighbourhood of Seville, and on the borders of Portugal, where he was but little loved. Upon hearing these tidings, he was in a violent rage against his brother and against the Castillians, who had abandoned him, and declared with an oath, that he would avenge himself so severely upon them, they should be a warning to all others. He immediately issued his commands to all those from whom he expected help or service. He sent to some, however, who never came, but excused themselves to the best of their ability: whilst others turned to king Henry, and paid to him their homage. When the king don Pedro found his people were wavering, and failed to obey his summons, he began to be alarmed; he therefore applied to don Fernando de Castro for counsel, who had never yet deserted him. He advised him to collect as large a force as he could from all countries, as well in Granada as elsewhere, and to hasten to meet his brother before he should have made any farther progress into the kingdom.

Don Pedro did not hesitate following this advice, but sent to the king of Portugal, who was his cousin-german, from whom he had a large body of men; and also to the kings of Granada, Bellemarine, and Tramesames4; with whom he entered into alliances, and engaged to support them in their kingdoms, and not to make war against them for the space of thirty years. These kings, on their part, sent him upwards of twenty thousand Moors, to assist him in his war. Don Pedro used so much activity that he had assembled, as well Christians as Moors, forty thousand men, in the country round Seville.

While these treaties and negotiations were going forwards, and during the time of the siege of Toledo, sir Bertrand du Guesclin, with his body of two thousand men, arrived in the camp of king Henry, where he was received with great joy, as was naturally to be expected: the whole army were happy at his arrival. The king don Pedro, who, as I have already said, had assembled his whole force at Seville and in its environs, was desirous of giving his brother battle: he left Seville with his numerous army, in order to raise the siege of Toledo. There may be between these two places, Seville and Toledo, seven days’ march.

Intelligence was brought to the army of king Henry, that don Pedro was approaching with forty thousand men, including those of every description. He called a council, to consider what was to be done, to which all the French and Arragonian knights were summoned; and in particular sir Bertrand du Guesclin, by whose opinion they wished to act. Sir Bertrand gave the following advice, which was followed; namely, that king Henry should immediately collect as many of his army as he could spare from the siege, advance by forced marches to meet don Pedro, and, in whatever situation he should meet him, begin the battle; “For,” added he, “we have heard that he is marching against us with a strong army, and he would be too powerful, were he to come regularly upon us: let us, therefore, be beforehand with him, without his knowing anything of our intentions; that we may surprise him and his army so unexpectedly as to have the advantage, and, I doubt not, defeat him.“ This plan of sir Bertrand was applauded and followed. Towards evening, king Henry set out with a chosen body of men at arms, and left the command of the siege to his brother don Tello. On his march, he had his spies dispersed over the country, in order to bring him exact intelligence the moment they should see or hear of don Pedro and his army. And what condition they were in.

The king don Pedro was ignorant of everything his brother was doing, even of his marching to meet him; so that he and his army were advancing slowly, in a very disorderly manner. It fell out, that upon the dawn of day king Henry and his army met don Pedro and his force; for, the preceding night, he had slept in a castle called Montiel, where the lord of Montiel had received him with all possible honour and respect. He had left it very early in the morning, and was continuing his march in the same disorderly manner, for he never expected to fight that day, when suddenly king Henry, his brother don Sancho, sir Bertrand du Guesclin, by whose orders they acted, le bègue de Villaines, the lord de Roquebertin, the viscount de Rhodez5, and their companies, with banners flying and prepared for action, came upon them: they might be six thousand fighting men: they advanced in very close order, and at a full gallop, so that they fell heavily and with a good will upon the first they met, crying out, “Castille for king Henry!” and “Our Lady, for Guesclin!” They overthrew and defeated all whom they first encountered, driving them before them. Many were slain and unhorsed; for none were made prisoners, according to the orders of sir Bertrand du Guesclin the preceding day, on account of the great number of Jews and infidels who were in don Pedro’s army.

When don Pedro, who was advancing with the largest division of his army, received the news that his van had been defeated by his brother the Bastard and the French, he was amazed where they could come from: he perceived that he had been betrayed, and was in danger of losing everything; for his men were very much dispersed; so that like a bold and valiant knight as he was, and of great resource and enterprise, he halted upon the spot, and ordered his banner to be displayed in the wind to rally his men. He sent orders for the rear to advance with all speed, for that the engagement was begun. Upon this all men of courage hastened towards his banner, which was fluttering in the wind. The battle now became more general and hot: many of don Pedro’s army were slain and unhorsed; for king Henry, sir Bertrand, and their friends, fought them so manfully, that none could stand before them. The battle, however, was not so soon over: for don Pedro had such immense numbers, as to be at least six to one: but they were so closely followed that it was wonderful to see how they were discomfited and slain.

This battle of Spaniards against Spaniards, and the two brother kings, with their allies, near Montiel, was very grand and horrible. Many were the good knights on king Henry’s side; such as sir Bertrand du Guesclin, sir Geoffry Ricon, sir Arnold de Limousin, sir Gauvain de Bailleul, le bègue de Villaines, Alain de St. Pol, Aliot de Calais, and the Bretons who were there. From the kingdom of Arragon were the viscount de Rocaberti, the viscount de Rodais, with many other good knights and squires whom I cannot name, who performed various gallant deeds of arms, as in truth they had full need. They had strange people to encounter, such as Moors and Portuguese: the Jews who were there very soon turned their backs, and would not fight; but those from Granada and Bellemarine fought valiantly: they were armed with bows and lances, of which they made good use, and behaved themselves right well. Don Pedro was in the midst, and with intrepid courage fought so valiantly with his battle-axe that scarcely any dared to come near him.

King Henry drew up his division opposite to his brother, in very compact order, and full of bold combatants, who shouted loudly, making good use of their lances; so that the army of don Pedro was thrown into confusion, and those near his person began to be alarmed. Don Fernando de Castro, who had watched over the king his lord, soon perceived (so good was his judgment) that their army would be beaten; for they were too much frightened from having been so suddenly attacked: he therefore said to don Pedro, “Sir, save, yourself, and hasten back to the castle of Montiel, which you left this morning: if you retire thither, you will be in safety: but if you be taken, your enemies will slay you without mercy.” The king approved of this advice, set out directly on his retreat to the castle of Montiel, and arrived there so à-propos that he found the gates of the castle open, where he was received with only eleven followers.

While this was passing, the remainder of his men, who were dispersed over the plain, continued the combat as well as they could; for the Moors who were among them, and had not any knowledge of the country, were indifferent whether they were directly slain or suffered a long pursuit: they therefore sold their lives dearly. Others also acted marvellously well.

Intelligence was brought to king Henry and to sir Bertrand, that don Pedro had retreated to the castle of Montiel, where he had shut himself up: that le bègue de Villaines and his men had pursued him to the castle, which had but one path to enter or come from it, and that le bègue had there placed himself and fixed his pennon. King Henry and sir Bertrand were delighted with this news: they were quite fatigued with this business of butchery. The pursuit lasted more than three long hours, and there were upwards of fourteen thousand killed and wounded: very few escaped; those who did were from that part of the country, and acquainted with its strong places. This battle was fought under Montiel, and in its environs, the 13th day of August, 1368.

After the defeat of don Pedro and his army, king Henry and sir Bertrand encamped themselves before the castle of Montiel, where don Pedro was: they surrounded it on all sides: for they said truly, that what they had hitherto done would be of no effect, unless they took the castle of Montiel with don Pedro, who had shut himself up in it. They sent the principal part of their force back to Toledo, in order to reinforce the besiegers, which was very agreeable to don Tello, who commanded there6.

The castle of Montiel was of sufficient strength to have held out a considerable time, if it had been properly victualled; but when don Pedro entered it, there was not enough for four days, which much alarmed him and his companions. They were so strictly watched that a bird could not escape from the castle without being noticed. Don Pedro was in great anguish of heart at seeing himself thus surrounded by his enemies, well knowing that they would not enter into any treaty of peace or agreement with him; so that considering his dangerous situation, and the great want of provision in the castle, he was advised to attempt an escape with his eleven companions about midnight, and to put himself under the protection of God: he was offered guides that would conduct him to a place of safety.

They remained in the castle, with this determination, until midnight, when don Pedro, accompanied by don Fernando de Castro and others of the eleven companions, set out. It was very dark. At this hour the bègue de Villaines had the command of the watch, with upwards of three hundred men. Don Pedro had quitted the castle with his companions, and was descending by an upper path, but so quietly that it did not appear as if any one was moving: however, the bègue de Villaines, who had many suspicions, and was afraid of losing the object of his watch, imagined he heard the sound of horses’ feet upon the causeway: he therefore said to those near him: “Gentlemen, keep quiet: make no movement: for I hear the steps of some people. We must know who they are, and what they seek at such an hour. I suspect they are victuallers, who are bringing provision to the castle; for I know it is in this respect very scantily provided.” The bègue then advanced, his dagger on his wrist, towards a man who was close to don Pedro, and demanded, “Who art thou? Speak, or thou art a dead man.” The man to whom the bègue had spoken was an Englishmen, and refused to answer: he bent himself over his saddle, and dashed forwards. The bègue suffered him to pass; when addressing himself to don Pedro, and examining him earnestly, he fancied it was the king, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, from his likeness to king Henry his brother, for they very much resembled each other. He demanded from him, in placing his dagger on his breast, “And you, who are you? Name yourself, and surrender this moment, or you are a dead man.” In thus saying, he caught hold of the bridle of his horse, and would not suffer him to escape as the former had done.

King don Pedro, who saw a large body of men at arms before him, and found that he could not by any means escape, said to the bègue de Villaines, whom he recognised: “Bègue, bègue, I am don Pedro king of Castille, to whom much wrong has been imputed, through evil counsellors. I surrender myself, and all my people, but twelve in number, as thy prisoners: we place ourselves under thy guard and disposition. I beseech thee, in the name of thy gentility, that thou put me in a place of safety. I will pay for my ransom whatever sum thou shalt please to ask; for, thank God, I have yet a sufficiency to do that; but thou must prevent me from falling into the hands of the Bastard.” The bègue (according to the information I have since received) replied, that he and his company might come with him in all security; for that his brother should not from him have any intelligence of what had happened.7 Upon this consideration, they advanced when don Pedro was conducted to the tent of the bègue, and into the chamber of sir Lyon de Lakonet. He had not been there an hour, when king Henry and the viscount de Rocaberti, with their attendants, but not in great numbers, came thither.

As soon as king Henry had entered the chamber where don Pedro was, he said, “Where is this son of a Jewish whore who calls himself king of Castille?” Don Pedro, who was a bold as well as a cruel man, stepped forward, and said: “Why thou art the son of a whore, and I am the son of Alphonso.” On saying this, he caught hold of king Henry in his arms, began to wrestle with him, and, being the strongest, threw him down under him upon une aubarde qu’on dit en François coeste de materats de soye8: placing his hand on his poniard, he would infallibly have killed him, if the viscount de Rocaberti had not been present, who seizing don Pedro by the legs, turned him over, by which means king Henry being uppermost, immediately drew a long poniard which he wore in his sash, and plunged it into his body. His attendants entered the tent, and helped to dispatch him. There were slain with him a knight from England called sir Raoul Heline, who had formerly had the surname of the Green Squire, and another esquire of the name of James Roland, because they had put themselves in postures of defence9. But no harm was done to don Fernando de Castro, nor to the rest of don Pedro’s attendants: they continued, therefore, prisoners to le bègue de Villaines and to sir Lyon de Lakonet. Thus died don Pedro, king of Castille, who had formerly reigned in great prosperity. Those who had slain him left him three days unburied, which was a pity for the sake of humanity; and the Spaniards made their jokes upon him.

On the morrow, the lord of Montiel came to surrender himself to king Henry, who received him graciously, as well as all those who returned to their allegiance. News was soon spread abroad of the death of don Pedro, to the great joy of his enemies and sorrow of his friends. When the king of Portugal heard in what manner his cousin don Pedro had been slain, he was mightily vexed at it, and swore he would have satisfaction for it. He immediately sent a challenge to king Henry, and made war upon him, remaining master of all the environs of Seville for one whole season. This, however, did not prevent king Henry from following his enterprise: he returned before Toledo, which surrendered to him as soon as it learnt the death of don Pedro; as did all the other parts of the country dependent on the crown of Castille. Even the king of Portugal did not wish to continue the war longer against king Henry; so that there was a treaty of peace concluded between them, by means of the barons and prelates of Spain. King Henry, therefore, reigned in peace over all Castille. Sir Bertrand du Guesclin, sir Olivier de Mauny, and some others from France, Brittany, and Arragon, continued with him, to whom king Henry behaved very handsomely: indeed, he was in justice bound so to do, for without their aid he would never have been able to have accomplished this business. Sir Bertrand du Guesclin was made constable of Spain, and received the estate of Soria, worth twenty thousand francs a-year. The king gave to his nephew, sir Olivier de Mauny, the estate of Crecte, worth ten thousand francs a-year: and so on to the other knights with such liberality that they were all contented. King Henry went to Burgos with his queen and children, to hold his court there, which he did in a princely style10. The kings of France and of Arragon, as well as the duke of Anjou, who loved him personally, were very much rejoiced at the fortunate event of the war.

About this time died the lord Lionel of England, who had crossed the Alps, as has been before related, and had taken for his wife the daughter of the lord Galeas Visconti, sovereign of Milan. But, as his death appeared extraordinary11, the lord Edward Despenser, his companion, who had remained with him, declared war against Galeas, and slew many of his subjects at different times: at last, however, the earl of Savoy made peace between them. Let us now return to what was going forwards in the duchy of Aquitaine.


1: Rocaberti. — Ferrera’s Hist. Gen. d’Espagne, translated by d’Hermilly.

2: The king of Majorca was afterwards ransomed by his wife, the too celebrated Joan of Naples, whose third husband he was, for 28,000 florins of gold. — Vie de Du Guesclin.

3: “The duke of Anjou and Bertrand du Guesclin having crossed the Rhône, laid siege to Tarascon, which is opposite to Beaucaire, the 4th March, 1368. The real history of this siege is unknown to us; for we cannot place any reliance on the different authors of the life, or rather romance of Bertrand du Guesclin, who relate various circumstances about it. What may be depended on is, that the duke of Anjou, having besieged Tarascon by sea and land, the inhabitants, who had an understanding with him, delivered up the town, of which he made himself master.” — Hist. Gen. de Languedoc, vol. iv. p. 336.

4: Bellemarine — Tramesames. Probably Benmarin and Tremecen, kingdoms in Barbary.

Neither Mariana nor Ferreras makes mention of any other king than Mahomet king of Granada, who joined don Pedro with six thousand cavalry and about thirty thousand men. — Hist. Gen. de l’Espagne, vol. v. p. 400.

5: M. Dillon, in his history of Peter the Cruel, says, “While Henry lay before Toledo, ambassadors arrived at his camp from Charles V. of France, who sent his chamberlain, Francis de Perelles, viscount de Rhodez, and John de Ric, lord of Neburis, to acquaint him, that war was declared between England and France, &c.” — Vol, II. p. 104.

This John de Ric may perhaps be the Geoffry Ricon of Froissart.

6: M. Dillon says, the Manrique, archbishop of Toledo, assisted by some able officers, had the command of the blockade of Seville, when Henry marched to meet don Pedro; and that don Tello had joined the king of Navarre in spoiling the kingdom of Spain.

7: There are different accounts of this affair. Ferreras attributes the capture of don Pedro to Bertrand du Guesclin, and not much to his honour: but I cannot believe this, as avarice was not a vice of such gallant men, and am inclined to believe Froissart has been rightly informed.

8: Not knowing how to translate this, I have left it as in the original. Du Cange, in the last volume of his Glossary, refers the word aubarde to abbarda, in the first volume of the Supplement, which is as follows: “Abbarda, Clitella — adde Provincialibus bardo, nostris olim barde, equi armatura. Aubarde vero dixerunt, pro culcitra, vulgo coite de matelas. Froissart,” (quoting the expressions in the text.) Albardacha. — Gall. Hallebarde. Vide supra Alabarda. — Du Cange. [Une aubarde qu’on dit en François coeste de materais de soye, that is “an aubarde, or, as it is called in French, a silken counterpane or quilt;” literally the silk covering of a mattrass. Lord Berners translates it a bench, and probably he is not far wrong. According to the quotation from Du Cange, the original meaning of the word was a war-saddle, which might not unnaturally be applied to the camp-bed of a tent, which serves for a seat or a couch as occasion requires, and may thence be aptly likened to a soldier’s saddle, which serves him for a pillow in a bivouac. As Froissart however confines the meaning to the covering of the couch, this conjecture may very possibly be wrong, but in that case the etymology still escapes us.] — ED.

9: “With this unfortunate monarch there also fell two gallant Englishmen, who were slain for having drawn their swords in his defence when grappling with Henry. These were sir Ralph Holmes and James Rowland. The life of Fernando de Castro was spared, on account of his long attachment and fidelity to his sovereign.

“Don Fernando de Castro, after the death of king Peter, made his escape into Portugal, and afterwards retired to Guienne, where he died. Over his tomb was placed the following inscription: AQUI YACE DON FERNANDO PEREZ DE CASTRO, TODA LA FIDELIDAD DE ESPANA.” — Dillon’s Hist. of Peter the Cruel, vol. ii. p. 119.

10: “King Henry assembled the states of the realm at Medina d’el Campo, to make arrangements for recompensing the French and other knights. They paid Bertrand du Guesclin one hundred and twenty thousand gold florins. The king also gave Soria, Almazan, Atiença, Montéagudo, and Seron, with their dependencies, to sir Bertrand: to Olivier de Mauny, Agreda: Ribadéo, with the title of count, to the Viguer de Villames, whom he married to a lady of the Guzman family: Aquilar de Campo to Geoffry Relor, and Villalpand to Arnold Solier.” — Ferreras Hist. d’Espagne, vol. v., pp. 414, 415.

11: “Anno Domini 1367, et regni 42 Edwardi, Leonellus dux Clarentiæ obit in natali S. Mariæ ut fertur, potionatus.” — Lelandi Collectanea, vol. i. p. 251.

“Quo anno (1368), mense Aprilis, leonellus dux Clarenciæ, regis Edwardi tertii filius, cum electa multitudine nobilium Anglicorum transivit versus Mediolanum, an accipendum in uxorem filiam domini Gallias, domini Mediolani, cum qua medietatem ejusdem dominii fuerat habiturus. Sed tamen modico tempore super conjuge vel dominio gaudere permissus est, morte (Quæ cuncta disjungit & separat) mox præventus. Celebrato nempe inter eos cum maxima gloria matrimonio, Leonellus, circa festum nativitatis beatæ Mariæ proximo sequentem diem clausit extremum.” — Tho. Walsingham Hist. Angli. Edw. III. pp. 132, 3.
“Moreover, at the coming of Leonell, such abundance of treasure was in the most bounteous manner spent, in making of most sumptuous feasts, setting forth stately sights, and honouring with rare gifts above two hundred Englishmen who accompanied his son-in-law, as it seemed to surpass the greatness of the most wealthy princes; for the banquet at which Francis Petrarch was present among the chiefest guests, had about thirty courses of service at the table, and betwixt every course there were as many presents of wondrous price intermixed; all of which John Galeasius, chief of the choice youth, bringing to the table, did offer to Leonell. There were in one only course seventy goodly horses, adorned with silk and silver furniture; and in another silver vessels, falcons, hounds, armour for horses, costly coats of mail, breast-plates glistering of massy steel, helmets and corselets decked with costly crests, apparelled distinct with costly jewels, soldiers’ girdles, and lastly, certain gems by curious art set in gold and purple, and cloth of gold for men’s apparel in great abundance. And such was the sumptuousness of that banquet, that the meats which were brought from table would sufficiently have served ten thousand men. But not long after, Leonell, living with his new wife, whilst after the manner of his own country, as forgetting or not regarding his change of air, he addicted himself overmuch to untimely banquetings, spent and consumed with a lingering sickness, died at Alba.”
This account from Stowe, pp. 267, 268, edition 1631, seems very naturally to account for the death of the duke of Clarence, without supposing it caused by treachery.

For a more particular account of this entertainment, see Corio’s History of Milan, printed at Milan, 1503.

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