Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

A battle at the barriers at Noya

During the same campaign that saw the taking of Ferrol, the Duke of Lancaster's army besieges Noya.
Book III, ch.74 (Johnes, v. 2, pp. 256-7).  The duke of Lancaster was much rejoiced
at the news from the king of Portugal: he had left Orense, and was on his march towards Noya, where le Barrois des Barres, sir John de Chatelmorant, sir Tristan de la Jaille, sir Reginald de Roye, sir William de Montigny, and many other knights and squires were in garrison. When the duke came within sight of the castle, the marshal said.-" There is Noya: if Corunna be one of the keys of Galicia towards the sea, the castle of Noya is another towards Castille; and whoever wishes to be lord of
Castille must be master of these two places. Let us march thither, for they tell me that
Barrois de Barres, one of the ablest captains of France, is within it, and let us have some
skirmishing with the garrison at the end of the bridge,"

"We are willing to do so;" said sir Maubrun de Linieres and sir John d' Ambreticourt, who were riding by his side. The van battalion now advanced, consisting of five hundred men at arms, for the duke was desirous of making a good appearance to those within the castle; and he knew also that his
marshals would offer to skirmish, should they find any to accept their challenge. The watch on the castle, seeing the van of the English approach, began to sound his horn so agreeably, it was a pleasure to hear him.

Le Barrois and his companions, to the amount of one hundred men at arms, hearing that
the English were at hand, armed themselves, and, in good array, advanced to the barriers,
where they drew up under twelve pennons. Sir John des Barres, being the most renowned,
was the commander-in-chief, and next to him, sir John de Chatelmorant. When sir Thomas
Moreaux, the marshal of the army, found himself near the place, he halted, and, having dismounted
as well as his companions, they gave their horses to the pages and servants, and
marched in a compact body, each knight and squire with his spear in hand, towards the
barriers: every six paces they halted, to dress themselves without opening their ranks. To
say the truth, it was a beautiful sight. When they were come as far as they wished, they
halted for a short time, and then advanced their front to begin the action. They were
gallantly received; and, I believe, had the two parties been in the plain, many more bold
actious would have taken place than it was possible to find an opportunity for where they
were; for the barriers being closely shut, prevented them from touching each other. The
marshal hit sir John de Chatelmorant with his lance, as did sir John the marshal; for each
was eager to hurt the other, but, from the strength of their armour, they could not. Sir
Thomas Percy attacked Barrois des Barres; Maubrun de Linieres, sir William de Montigny;
sir John d' Ambreticourt, sir Reginald de Roye; the lord Talbot, sir Tristan de la Jaille; so
every man had his match: and when they were fatigued or heated they retired, and other
fresh knights and squires renewed the skirnlish. This was continued until past eight o'clock:
indeed, it was twelve before it was entirely over. The archers next came to the barriers;
but the knights withdrew, for fear of the arrows, and ordered their cross-bows and Castillians
to oppose them, which they did until noon, when the lusty varlets continued the skirmish
until sun-set, and the knights then returned fresh and vigorous to renew it.

Thus was the day employed until night, when the English retired to their quarters, and
the knights into the castle, where they kept a good guard. The English were quartered
about half a league from Noya, on the banks of the river, which was very welcome to them
and their horses, for they had great difficulty in procuring water on their march. They
intended to remain there five or six days, and then march to Vilalpando, and look at the
constable of Castille and the French there in garrison. They had also heard from the king
of Portugal, who was encamped in the plain of Ferrol, and intended marching for the town
of Padron in Galicia, which was in the line of march of the English; and I believe the
king and duke were to meet in this town, to confer together on the state of affairs, and
detern1iue on a plan for carrying on the war. They had already been one month in the
enemy's country, and had conquered all Galicia, except one or two places, without having
any intelligence of the king of Castille or the French, which greatly surprised them; for
they had heard that the king of Castille had issued his summons from Burgos, where he
resided, to all parts of Castille, Seville, Cordova, Toledo, Leon, Valladolid, Soria, and had
collected sixty thousand men, not including six thousand men at arms from France. The
role of Bourbon was likewise daily expected, for he had quitted Paris.

It was for this reason the English and Portuguese wanted to unite their armies, to be in
greater force, and better enabled to meet the enemy; for they believed all that had been
told them respecting the French and Castillians as true, and outwardly showed much joy
thereat. They would willingly have encountered their enemies, for they were convinced they
would never bring their dispute to any decision without a battle.

Sir William de Lignac and sir Walter de Passac were always about the king's person, and
accompanied him wherever he went; for they had two or three times a week intelligence
from France of what was going on, and likewise from the duke of Bourbon. They were
waiting for him, as he had begun his journey, by way of Avignon, to visit the pope and
cardinals; and would not therefore offer combat during his absence, nor would it have been
becoming them so to do. Among the news they had from France, the most surprising was the
account of the duke of Brittany's arrest and confinement of the constable in the castle of Ermine,
until he ransomed himself, by paying down one hundred thousand francs and the surrender of
three castles and a town, by which the intended invasion of England was prevented. They
were greatly astonished, and could not imagine what the duke of Brittany meant by it: they
however supposed that he must have been instigated thereto by the council of England.

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Posted originally on October 15, 2002