Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

English Knights Seek Adventure

A large English expedition, led by the Earl of Buckingham, marches into France from Calais. Some of his knights decide to precede the army and seek adventure.

Book II, ch. 51. The night the English had quartered themselves at Clery-on-the-Somme,some knights of the army, such as sir Thomas Trivet, sir William Clinton, sir Evan Fitzwarren, at the instigation of the lord Delawarr, who was well acquainted with the whole country, and knew that the lord de Coucy was with a large body of men at arms in the town of Arras, resolved to march from the army, at early dawn, with the foragers, to see if they should meet with any adventure worth attending to; for they wished to perform some deed of arms. As they had planned, so did they execute; and about thirty lances set out after the foragers, in search of adventures.

This same day, the lord de Coucy had left Arras with a large body of men, and had taken the road to St. Quentin. When they were on their march, the lord de Brimeu, his sons, with about thirty spears, quitted the army of the lord de Coucy, anxious to perform some gallant act.

These two bodies of English and French, meeting in the plains, saw a combat was inevitable: they therefore struck spurs into their horses, and galloped towards each other, shouting their cries of war. On the first shock, several were unhorsed, killed and wounded on both sides. Many handsome deeds were [done]: they dismounted, and began to thrust with their spears, each party behaving bravely. This mode of combat continued about an hour, and no one could say to whom would be the victory, but in the end the English won the field. Sir Thomas Trivet made prisoners the lord de Brimeu, and his two sons, John and Lewis, and sixteen men at arms: the rest saved themselves: and the English returned to their army with their prisoners.

They remained some little time in the neighbourhood of Peronne, having heard from their prisoners, that the lord de Coucy was in that town with upwards of a thousand lances, and they knew not if he wished to offer them battle.

This day the lord Delawarr, with Fierabras his bastard-brother, sir Evan Fitzwarren and several others, quitting the army, hastened to Mount St. Quentin, where they posted themselves in ambuscade; for they had learnt that the seneschal of Hainault was with a strong body of men at arms in Peronne, and they knew him to be so self-sufficient that he would not fail to sally out, which in truth he did. The vanguard ordered ten men at arms to march to Peronne; among whom were Thierry de Soumain, Fierabras, sir Hugh Calverly and Hopoquin Hay, mounted on their chargers. They galloped up to the barriers, where there were at least fifty spears with the seneschal of Hainault; who, thinking to catch these gallopers, ordered the barriers to be thrown open, and immediately began a pursuit after them, as they retreated toward their ambuscade.

When those who had placed themselves in ambush saw the French pursuing their men, they discovered themselves; but it was somewhat too soon, for when the seneschal perceived this large body so well mounted, he sounded a retreat, and the horses then knew the effect of spurs: very opportunely did these lords find the barriers open. They were, however, so closely followed, that sir Richard de Marqueillies, sir Louis de Vertaing, Honard de la Honarderie, Vital de St. Hilaire, with ten other men at arms, remained prisoners to the English: the others escaped.

When the English learnt that the seneschal of Hainault, the lord de Hamireth, the lord de Clery, with twenty other knights, had escaped, they cried out, -- "God! what a fortunate event would it have been, if we had taken them, for they would have paid us forty thousand francs." They returned to the army, and nothing more was done that day.

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