Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

A deed of Arms at Bordeaux Before Sir John Harpedon (1387)

On the eve of war in Portugal and Castile, two knights joust before the séneschal of Aquitaine.

Book III, ch. 50 (Johnes, v. 2, p. 210). At this period there was an achievement of arms performed by two knights at Bordeaux, in the presence of the séneschal, sir John Harpedon, and other noblemen. These knights were the lord de la Rochefoucault, son to the sister of the captal de Buch, and sir William de Montferrant, attached to the English interest. As this tilt was to be made before all the lords and ladies of Bordeaux, the count de Foix sent thither some knights of his household to advise and direct the lord de la Rochefoucault, who was the son of his cousin, and likewise different sorts of armour, daggers, battle-axes, and swords well tempered, although he had before properly provided himself with all things necessary.

These knights armed themselves on the appointed day, and were attended by a numerous body of chivalry. The lord de la Rochefoucault was accompanied by two hundred knights and squires, all connected with him by blood; and sir William de Montferrant by as many, if not more. Among the number were the lords de Rohan, de l'Esparre, de Duras, de Mucident, de Landuras, de Curton, de Languran, de la Barde, de Tarbe, de Mont-croyat in Perigord, who had come from distant parts because he was their relation, and to be spectators of the feats of arms of two such valiant knights.

When they were mounted, and had their helmets laced on, their spears and shields were given them. They instantly stuck spurs into their horses, and met each other full gallop, with such force that the laces of the helmets burst asunder, and their helmets were knocked off, so that they passed each other bare-headed, excepting the caps which were under the helmets.

"On my faith," the spectators said, "they have gallantly performed their first course." The knights now had their armour set to rights, and their helmets laced again, when they performed their second and third courses with equal ability. In short, they behaved, in every attack, most gallantly, and to the satisfaction of all present.

The séneschal, sir John Harpedon, entertained at supper, that evening, all the lords and ladies in Bordeaux; and on the morrow the company departed, and went to their different homes. The lord de la Rochefoucault made preparations for his journey to Castille; for king John had sent to him, and the time was drawing nigh for him to set out. Sir William de Montferrant, when returned home, made also his preparations to cross the sea to Portugal; for that king had, in like manner, written to him

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