You have before heard related the death of Evan of Wales, how he was murdered, and how the Bretons and Poitevins were before Mortain, under the command of sir James de Montmort, sir Perceval d’Ayneval, sir William de Montecontour, and sir James de Surgeres, who would not break up the siege, for they were much enraged at the death of Evan of Wales, their commander, and wished to revenge themselves on the garrison for it. You have also hear how sir Thomas Trivet, sir William Scrope, sir Thomas Breton, sir William Cendrine, with a large body of men at arms and archers, had been ordered to the country near Bordeaux, and to assist those in Mortain, with sir Matthew Gournay, who resided in Bayonne, and who daily found employment there against the Gascons and barons possessing fortresses in those parts. These four knights had remained with their men upwards of seven months at Plymouth, waiting a favourable wind to carry them to Gascony, which, though it vexed them much, they could not help themselves.
You have heard likewise that the lord Neville of Raby had been ordered with a body of men at arms and archers to the assistance of the king of Navarre, with the appointment of séneschal of Bordeaux. All these knights met at Plymouth, which was very agreeable to every one of them. On the arrival of the lord Neville, they had a wind to their wish, and, having embarked on board the vessels that had been long laden, they set their sails, and steered for Gascony. This fleet consisted of six score vessels and forty barges, having on board about a thousand men at arms and two thousand archers. They had favourable weather, which carried them into the port of Bordeaux, the night of Our Lady, in September, in the year of grace 1378./P>
When the Bretons and Poitevins who were before Mortain saw this great fleet pass by, with trumpets sounding and every sign of joy, they were much cast down; while, on the contrary, the garrison were rejoiced, for they justly imagined they should very soon be relieved, or that there would be a battle, as they thought they never would have come so far to remain idle. Sir James de Montmort and the other leaders of the army assembled in council, and debated for some time in what manner they should act; they repented they had neglected to accept the offers of negotiating; for the souldich de l’Estrade had, a short time before, proposed a parley, and offered to surrender the castle, on the garrison being allowed to march in safety to Bordeaux; but the French would not listen to it. However, they now sent a herald to say, they would accept of their terms: but the souldich replied, he would have nothing to say to them; that he did not want to capitulate, for that the reinforcements he looked for were arrived; and that they might remain or march away, as should please themselves. Things remained thus, when the lord Neville and the English arrived at Bordeaux, where they were magnificently received by sir William Helmen, séneschal des Landes, sir John de Multon, mayor of Bordeaux, the archbishop, the ladies, and citizens./P>
Soon after his arrival, he issued a summons to the knights and squires of Gascony attached to England, and collected so many vessels that four thousand embarked on board of them, and sailed down the river Garonne, to raise the siege of Mortain. News was soon carried to the French army, that the English and Gascons were coming down the river in great force to raise the siege: upon this, the leaders called another council, wherein it was resolved, that as they were not sufficiently strong to wait for their enemies, it was better to give up their lost time than to run a greater danger; having ordered their trumpets to sound, they marched away without doing anything more, and retreated into Poitou. All, however, did not march off, for a company of Bretons and Welsh, who had been attached to Evans of Wales, retired into the blockhouse of St. Leger, which they said would hold out against every force, and dragged all their artillery in with them. The English and Gascon knights, who came full sail down the river Garonne, cast anchor in its mouth before Mortain; when they disembarked leisurely, and as they landed drew up in order of battle, to attack the fort of St. Leger, into which the Bretons and Welsh had retired. Immediately a sharp attack commenced. Whilst this assault was going on, the lord Neville sent a herald to the castle to speak with the souldich, and to inquire how he was. The herald performed his message, and reported that they were in good health, but so naked that they had not a shoe to their feet nor a coat to their backs. The attack on St. Leger lasted three hours; and the assailants gained nothing, but had several wounded. The barons then encamped, with the intent of not departing thence before they had conquered it, and were much vexed that the lord de Montmort and the other lords were not shut up in this fort: those lords had very wisely marched off, and had left the Bretons.