Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

A venturesome knight is felled by a butcher

Sir Robert Knolles's army raids the vicinity of Paris, but the king of France refuses to let his lords fight the English. As Knolles withdraws, one of his knights essays a chivalrous gesture that goes wrong.

Book I, ch. 289. Now it happened one Tuesday morning, when the English were beginning to decamp, and had set fire to all the villages wherein they were lodged, so that the fires were distinctly seen from Paris, a knight of their army, who had made a vow the preceding day that he would advance as far as the barriers and strike them with his lance, did not break off his oath, but set off with his lance in his hand, his target on his neck, and completely armed except his helmet, and spurring his steed, was followed by his squire on another courser carrying the helmet.

When he approached Paris, he put on the helmet, which his squire laced behind. He then galloped away, sticking spurs into his horse, and advanced prancing to strike the barriers. They were then open; and the lords and barons within imagined he intended to enter the town, but he did not mean any such thing, for , having struck the gates according to his vow, he checked his horse and turned about. The French knights who saw him thus retreat cried out to him, "Get away! get away! thou hast well acquitted thyself."

As for the name of this knight, I am ignorant of it, nor do I know from what country he came; but he bore for his arms gules à deux fosses noir with une bodure noir non endentée.

However, an adventure befell him, form which he had not so fortunate an escape. On his return, he met a butcher on the pavement in the suburbs, a very strong man, who had noticed him as he had passed him, and had in his hand a very sharp and heavy hatchet with a long handle.

As the knight was returning alone, and in a careless manner, the valiant butcher came on one side of him, and gave him such a blow between the shoulders that he fell on his horse's neck: he recovered himself, but the butcher repeated the blow on his head to that the axe entered it. The knight, through excess of pain, fell to the earth; and the horse galloped away to the squire, who was waiting for his master in the fields at the extremity of the suburbs.

The squire caught the courser, but wondered what was become of his master; for he had seen him gallop to the barriers, strike them, and then turn about to come back. He therefore set out to look for him; but he had not gone many paces before he saw him in the hands of four fellows, who were beating him as if they were hammering on an anvil: this so much frightened the squire that he dared not advance further, for he saw he could not give him any effectual assistance: he therefore returned as speedily as he could.

Thus was this knight slain: and those lords who were posted at the barriers had him buried in holy ground. The squire returned to the army, and related the misfortune which had befallen his master. All his brother-warriors were greatly angered thereat; and they marched to take up their quarters for the night, between Montlehery and Paris, upon a small river, where they encamped at an early hour in the day.

Return to the Tales from Froissart Main Page

Contact the editor