It has been before related how much the king of England solicited and intrigued, during upwards of five years, the marriage of his son, Edmund earl of Cambridge, with the daughter of the earl of Flanders. As the detailed account of the different negotiations would be too long, I shall briefly pass them over: but you must know that the king of England could not by any means whatever obtain from pope Urban V. a dispensation. As this was absolutely necessary, the marriage remained in suspense. The earl of Flanders being solicited, on the other hand, by the king of France, for his brother the duke of Burgundy; and seeing that the marriage not being likely to take place with England, his daughter ought to marry, as he had not any other children; having also learnt that the countess of Artois, his mother, was favourable to the duke of Burgundy’s suit, for it was a grand and well-assorted alliance; for these reason he sent noble ambassadors to England, to treat with the king for an acquittal of his engagements between them.
Those ambassadors managed the business so ably that the king of England, who always wished to act honourably, assented to the earl of Flanders’ request. They returned, there for, to Bruges, and related to the earl their lord what they had done. The earl was much pleased at their success. It was not long before the marriage of the duke of Burgundy with the heiress of Flanders was determined on. There were great treaties, agreements and alliances made between both parties; and it was then told me, that the earl of Flanders, in consideration of this marriage, received upwards of fifty thousand crowns1: that the towns of Douay and Lille were given up to him, on account of the money which the king of France was to give his brother on this marriage. The earl of Flanders took possession of these towns, put his own subjects into them, and they were esteemed as part of Flanders, on account of the sums they were pledged for. But I know nothing further.
Soon after these arrangements were concluded, they proceeded to the marriage, which was celebrated in the city of Ghent. There were great feasts at the solemnity of the wedding, and afterwards, which were attended by crowds of lords, barons and knights. The gallant lord of Coucy was there, whose presence was so acceptable at a feast, of which none knew better how to do the honours: it was for this reason the king of France had sent him thither. After they had been magnificently entertained, as well with tournaments as otherwise, they separated, and returned to their homes.
The king of England, who saw that from this marriage the earl of Flanders must become the ally of the king of France, was ignorant whether the earl would take part against him with the duke of Burgundy his son, who of course would be his heir to the county of Flanders, and what treaties had been entered into by the earl with the king of France. The king, therefore, was much harder upon the Flemings than before, and harassed them by sea and land, and whenever he found them in his own country with their merchandise. The king of France was not displeased at this, and would willingly have seen a war declared between the Flemings and the English: but the prudent men of Flanders and the citizens of the principal towns were averse to it, for the commonalties of Flanders maintained the quarrel between the two kings to be more just of the part of England than of France.
King Edward was gaining friends on all sides, and much need had he of them, from the appearance of the great wars and rebellions that were breaking our in his dominions beyond sea. He was given to understand, that his cousin king Charles of Navarre, who at that time resided in lower Normandy, would join the party; for he hated the king of France, on account of some estates which the king of Navarre claimed as his inheritance, and which the king of France denied his right to. Counsellors on each side had frequently met, but they could never come to nay agreement. The affair had remained in this situation, and each was on his guard. The king of Navarre had amply provided his towns and castles in Coutantin, in the county of Evreux, as well as his principal towns in Normandy, with all sorts of stores: he had filled Cherbourg, where he resided, with men at arms.
At this time, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt was with the king of Navarre: he was governor of a town called Carentan2, beyond the fords of St. Clement in Coutantin, which he held under the king of Navarre, being part of his inheritance: sir Eustace was also one of his privy counsellors: so that the king of England sent to him (for he was his liege man and knight), to sound the intentions of the king of Navarre. He found him well inclined, and treated so successfully that the king of Navarre, with a small retinue, embarked on board a ship called the Lynne, and visited the king of England, who was right glad to see him. He entertained him handsomely; and they had many conferences together, in which they understood each other so well that, on the return of the king of Navarre, he was to declare war against the king of France, and to admit English garrisons into all his castles.
After these engagements and treaties had been concluded, the king of Navarre returned to Cherbourg in Normandy. He was escorted thither by some of the knights of the household of the king and queen of England, who were unfortunate as they came back; for they met some pirates of Normandy that attacked their vessels, and, being the strongest, overpowered them, and killed every person: they gave no quarter to any one. The king of England was much enraged when he heard this, but he could not possibly then remedy it.
Soon after the return of the king of Navarre to Cherbourg, sir Eustace d’Ambreticourt (who had been sent for by the prince of Wales, and whose heralds had summoned his attendance) took his leave, in order to obey the prince. The king parted with him with much regret, but sir Eustace explained his reasons so fully that he allowed him to depart. He embarked with his attendants, and sailed for St. Malo, where he landed, and then rode to Nantes, in order to pass the river Loire, with the permission of the duke of Brittany and the inhabitants, who as yet had not taken any part in this war. He continued his journey until he arrived in Poitou, at the town of Angoulême, where the prince received him with great pleasure, and shortly afterwards sent him to sir John Chandos and the captal de Buch, who were in Montauban, guarding the frontiers against the French. Sir Eustace, on his arrival, was most joyfully greeted by his former companions.3