You will remember, that when the herald Chandos brought the orders from the prince of Wales, the barons and knights of Guienne, who were upon an expedition in Quercy and Rouergue, returned with one accord to the town of Angoulême, where they found the prince, who received them with great joy. Some little time before, the earls of Cambridge and Pembroke had also returned with their army, after the conquest of Bourdeilles, as you have before heard. The lords and barons rejoiced exceedingly at this meeting, and great entertainments were made by them. They considered which way they should next march, to make the most of the season. They found, on examining the country, that there was near the borders of Anjou a fine and strong castle, called la Roche sur Yon1, which was a dependency of Anjou: there they resolved to march, lay siege to it, and conquer it if they were able. They made their preparations, and set out for that part of the country. They were joined by all the barons and knights of Poitou: sir James Audley, the lord de Pons, the lord de Partenay, sir Louis de Harcourt, sir Guiscard d’Angle, the lord de Pinane, the lord de Tannaybouton, sir Maubrun de Linieres, and the séneschal of La Rochelle, sir Thomas Percy. These men at arms and gallant company of lords, when they were all assembled, amounted to more than three thousand lances. They took the field, and came before the castle of la Roche sur Yon, which was well built and strong, with a good garrison, and well provided with provisions and artillery. The duke of Anjou had appointed governor a knight called sir John Blondeau, who had under his command many good companions, at the charge and pay of the duke.
The lords and barons formed the siege in a handsome manner, and with great display. They surrounded the castle, for they were strong enough to do so, and had ordered from Poitiers and Thouars2 large engines on carriages, which they pointed against the fort, as well as several cannons and springalls, with which the army was provided, and from long custom had always carried with them. They had also great plenty of provision, which was brought to them daily from Poitiers and the adjacent country. Sir John Blondeau, finding himself thus besieged by so many good men at arms (for almost all the knights of Aquitaine were there), and that no aid was likely to be sent to him, began to be alarmed: he well knew that those lords would never leave the place until they had won it by fair or foul means.
In the army of the earl of Cambridge, with sir John Chandos and the other barons, were some knights from Poitou well acquainted with the governor, and who in former times had been his companions in arms. These knights advanced to the barriers, and upon their faith and assurances held a conversation with him, and talked the matter over so ably (for he was not a sensible man, though a valiant knight,) that he entered into a treaty to deliver up the castle, if he were not succoured, nor the siege raised, within a month; when he was to receive the sum of six thousand francs for the provisions in it. The treaty thus entered into was ratified; and the garrison remained quiet, under condition, that if the castle was not relieved within a month, it should be surrendered. This being done, the knight sent information of it to the king of France, the dukes of Anjou and of Berry, and to all the lords from which he expected assistance, in order that he might be secure from any reproaches they might cast upon him. Notwithstanding these informations, that the castle was strong, and absolutely essential to France, on account of the provinces of Touraine and Anjou, no relief was sent; so that, when the month was expired, the English lords summoned the governor to perform his promise, for which he had given good hostages. Sir John did not intend to break his engagement: he said to his companions, “Since the king of France and the duke of Anjou are determined to lose this castle, I cannot defend it alone:” he therefore delivered it up to the English, who took possession with great joy. The governor received the sum of six thousand francs, as agreed upon for the provision in the castle, which was well worth it: and he and his garrison were escorted to the town of Angers.
Instantly on his arrival, he was arrested by the governor of Angers, and thrown into prison; and, as I have heard, was the same night put into a sack, cast into the river, and drowned by the orders of the duke of Anjou, for having accepted money to surrender a castle, which had been well provided, and was strong enough to have held out for a year, if the governor had chosen. Thus did the English gain the castle of la Roche sur Yon in Anjou, which they well garrisoned and strengthened: they then returned to the prince of Wales at Angoulême.
After the conquest of la Roche sur Yon, which enraged the French much, the lords, as I have said, returned to Angoulême, where the prince gave leave for some to go to their homes. Lord James Audley, that valiant knight and séneschal of Poitou, went to his residence at Fontenay le Comte3, where he was attacked by so severe a disorder that it ended his life. The prince and princess were exceedingly grieved at this event, as were all the knights and barons of Poitou. His obsequies were performed at Poitiers in a most magnificent manner, and were attended by the prince in person4. Soon afterward, at the request of the barons and knights of Poitou, sir John Chandos, who was constable of Aquitaine, was appointed séneschal of Poitou, and went to the city of Poitiers, which he fixed on for his residence. He frequently made excursions upon the French, and kept them under such continual alarms, they never dared to venture abroad but in very large bodies.
About this time, the viscount de Rochechouart obtained his liberty. The prince of Wales had kept him a prisoner, because he suspected him of being inclined to the French; but at the solicitations of his friends in Poitou, who were at that time with the prince, he gained his freedom, and was restored to his estate. When the viscount de Rochechouart had got his liberty, he went in disguise as speedily as he could to Paris, to the king of France, where he turned Frenchmen, and then came back to his estate, without any one being informed of the matter. Having placed Thibaut du Pont, a Breton and expert man at arms, in his castle, he directly sent his challenge to the prince of Wales, against whom he kept up a vigorous warfare.