The earls of Cambridge and Pembroke remained at St. Malo with their troops, as has been before said, until all the free companies of their party had come through the country with the assent of the duke of Brittany. When they had sufficiently recruited themselves, and had permission to march, they set out from St. Malo, and by easy days’ journeys arrived at Nantes, where the duke received these lords most honourably, and kept them with him for three days, which were spent in magnificent feasts. On the fourth day they crossed the great river Loire over the bridge at Nantes, and then continued their march until they came to Angoulême, where they found the prince and princess. The prince was much rejoiced at the arrival of his brother the earl of Cambridge and the earl of Pembroke. He inquired after the healths of the king his father, the queen, and his other brothers: to which questions he received satisfactory answers. After they had remained with him three days, and had refreshed themselves, the prince ordered them to set out from Angoulême, to make an excursion into the country of Perigord.
The two lords and the knights who had come with them from England instantly made preparations to provide themselves with every thing that might be necessary. Having taken leave of the prince, they marched off in grand array. They were, in the whole, full three thousand combatants: among these were several knights and squires from Poitou, Saintonge, Limousin, Quercy and Rouergue, whom the prince ordered to accompany them. These lords and men at arms entered hostilely the country of Perigord, which they overran, and did much mischief to tit. When they had burnt and destroyed the greater part, they laid siege to a fortress called Bordeilles1, of which two squires of Gascony were governors: they were brothers, named Ernaldon and Bernardel de Batefol. There were in this garrison of Bordeilles, with the two captains, a number of men at arms, whom the earl of Perigord had sent thither. It was also amply provided with artillery, wine, provision and everything else that might be necessary to hold out for a considerable time; and those in garrison were well inclined to defend it: so that during the siege of Bordeilles many gallant deeds of arms, many a skirmish and many an assault, were daily performed. The two before-mentioned squires were bold, proud and enterprising: they little loved the English, and in consequence advanced frequently to their barriers to skirmish with them. Sometimes one side conquered, sometimes the other, as it happens in such adventures and deeds of arms.
On the other hand, there were full one thousand combatants, French, Burgundians, Bretons, Picards, Normans and Angevins, in Poitou, and on the borders of Anjou and Touraine, who were overrunning the lands of the prince of Wales, and daily committing great devastations. The leaders of these men at arms were, sir John de Bueil, sir William de Bourdes, sir Louis de St. Julian and Carnet le Breton.
In order to oppose this force, some knights and squires of the prince, in particular sir Simon Burley and the earl of Angus, were quartered on the borders of Poitou and Saintonge: buy they were scarcely a fourth part of the strength of the French. Whenever the French made any excursions, they amounted always to a thousand fighting men: whereas the English were never more, at the utmost, than two or three hundred; for the prince had sent off three very large detachments, — one to Montauban, of five hundred men at arms, under sir John Chandos, to ravage the lads of the earl d’Armagnac and the lord d’Albret, — another of considerable numbers, under sir Hugh Calverley, — and the largest division under the command of his brother, the earl of Cambridge, before Bordeilles. Notwithstanding this, those who were in Poitou did not fail to acquit themselves gallantly, and to do their duty in making excursions on the lands of France, and in guarding their own. The English, with their partisans, have always acted in this manner, and have never refused nor dreaded the combat because thy were not in greater numbers.
It happened then one day, that the French had gained exact information how the English had taken the field and were out on an excursion, which gave them such spirits that they collected all their forces, and placed themselves in ambuscade, to fall upon the English as they returned from the inroad which they had made between Mirebeau2 & and Lusignan3. It was on a broken causeway that the French, to the amount of five hundred men, commanded by the before-mentioned captains, sir John de Bueil, sir William des Bourdes, sir Louis de St. Julien, and Carnet le Breton, advanced to attack them. A sharp engagement ensued, when many were unhorsed; for the English defended themselves bravely, and fought gallantly as long as it lasted. Many valorous actions were performed. Sir Simon Burley and the earl of Angus proved themselves good knights: but in the end they had the disadvantage, for they were only a handful of men when compared with the French. They were therefore defeated, and compelled to fly. The earl saved himself as well as he could, and gained the castle of Lusignan; but sir Simon Burley was so closely pursued, and surrounded on the broken causeway near Lusignan, that he was made prisoner by the French: most of his people being killed or taken, for very few escaped.
The French returned to their garrisons rejoiced at the issue of this adventure, as was also the king of France when he heard it. Not so the prince of Wales, who was much vexed, and bitterly lamented the capture of his good knight sir Simon Burley, whom he loved well, as indeed he had reason; for, to say the truth, he was a most expert man at arms for his time, very courageous, and had always carried himself valiantly for his lord the king of England and his country. His companions who had been slain or made prisoners on the causeway had behaved equally well; for whose loss the prince was in great sorrow, and much enraged. It is a common saying, that one man is worth a hundred, and that a hundred is not worth one man; for in truth, it happens sometimes, that by the good conduct and courage of one man, a whole country is preserved, whilst another person may totally ruin and destroy it. Thus things frequently fall out.