Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

French and English knights tourney in Brittany (1380)

As the war in Brittany wound down, French and English knights and squires engaged in tournaments and challenges.

Book II, ch. 63 (Johnes, v. 1, pp. 630-31). At that time when Gauvain Micaille and Joachim Cator performed their combat before the earl of Buckingham, and the English lords, certain knights and squires from France had come as spectators to Marchenoir near Blois, when sir Reginald de Touars, lord de Pousanges, a baron of Poitou, had some words with the lord de Vertain, and said he would like to tilt with him three courses with the lance and three strokes with the battle-axe. The lord de Vertain, wishing not to refuse, was eager to accommodate him immediately, whatever might be the event:  but the earl of Buckingham would not consent, and forbade the knight at that time to think of it.

What had been said relative to this feat of arms was not forgotten by the two knights.  Similar words had passed that same day between a squire from Savoye, called the bastard Clarius, and Edward Beauchamp, son of sir Robert Beauchamp; and also between sir Tristan de la Jaille and sir John d'Ambreticourt; sir John de Châtelmorant, and Jannequin Clinton; and le Gallois d'Aunay and sir William Clinton; between sir Hoyau d'Araines and sir William France:  but these were all set aside like the first.

During the time the English were quartered in the suburbs of Nantes, these French knights and squires were in the town.  The lord de Vertain and the others were requested by the French knights to deliver them from their engagements while they were before Nantes; but the governors in Nantes would not consent, and excused their friends by saying, they were in Nantes, as soldiers, intrusted with the guard and defence of the town.  Nothing more passed until the earl of Buckingham's army were fixed in their quarters at Vannes, Hennebon, Quimperlé, and Quimpercorentin, when sir Barrois des Barres, sir Hoyau d'Arianes, and many other knights and squires, came to château Josselin, seven leagues from Vannes, where the constable of France resided.

The count de la Marche, with several knights, were also there, who were very glad to see them, and received them handsomely.  They informed the constable of all that had passed, and that such and such persons had undertaken deeds of prowess against others of the English.  The constable heard this with pleasure, and said, "Send to them:  we will grant them passports, to perform these deeds of arms, if they be willing to come."

Le Gallois d'Aunay and sir Hoyau d'Araines were the first to say they were ready to perform their engagement of three courses with the spear on horseback.  When sir William Clinton and sir William France heard they were called upon by the French to perform their challenges, they were much rejoiced, and took leave of the earl and barons of England to go thither.  They were accompanied by many knights and squires.

The English and French tilted very handsomely, and performed their deeds of arms as the rules required.  Then sir Reginald de Touars, sir Tristan de la Jaille, sir John de Châtelmorant, and the bastard Clarius, summoned each of them his knight or squire; that is to say the lord de Vertain, sir John d'Ambreticourt, Edward Beauchamp, and Jannequin Clinton.   These four were so eager for the combat that they wished to go to château Josselin on the passports of the constable; but the earl of Buckingham, hearing at Vannes the summons from the French, said aloud to the heralds, "You will tell the constable, form the earl of Buckingham, that he is equally powerful to grant passports to the French as he may be to grant them to the English; and to all those who may wish to perform any deeds of arms with his knights, on their arrival at Vannes, he will, out of his affection to them, give passports, and to all who may choose to accompany them, both for their stay and for their return."

When the constable heard this, he instantly perceived the earl was in the right, and that he wanted to see those deeds of arms:  it was but reasonable there should be as many performed at Vannes as had been before him at château Josselin.  The constable therefore said, "The earl of Buckingham speaks like a valiant man and a king's son, and I will that what he says shall be believed; let me know those who may be desirous of accompanying the challengers and we will send for a proper passport."

Thirty knights and squires immediately stepped forth:  a herald came to Vannes for the passport, which was given to him, sealed by the earl of Buckingham.  The three knights who were to perform their deeds of arms set out from château Josselin, attended by the others, and came to Vannes, where they were lodged in the suburbs, and the English entertained them well.

The story continues.

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