70. KING EDWARD III – WARS WITH THE FRENCH AND SCOTS
After the suppression of this king, as is above expressed, Edward his son was crowned king of England, being about the years of fifteen, and reigned the space of fifty years; who was a prince of much and great temperance, in feats of arms very expert, and no less fortunate and lucky in all his wars, than his father was unfortunate before him. For liberality also and clemency he was worthily commended; briefly, in all princely virtues famous and excellent. Concerning the memorable acts of which prince, done both in wars and peace, as how he subdued the Scots, had great victories by the sea, how he conquered France, A.D. 1332, won Calais, A.D.1348, and translated the staple thither, took the French king prisoner, and how the French arms first by him were brought in, and conjoined with the English arms, also how the order of the garter first by the said king was invented and ordained, A.D. 1356; also, A.D. 1357, how the king in his parliament at Nottingham decreed, that all such, in Flanders or other where, that had skill in making cloth, should peaceably inhabit the land and be welcome. For three years before that, it was enacted, that no wool should be transported over the sea; which was to bridle the pride of the Flemings, who then loved better the sacks of wool than the nation of Englishmen. All these, with other noble acts of this worthy prince, although in other chronicles they be fully treated of; yet according to that order I have begun, (saying somewhat of each king's reign, although not pertinent to our ecclesiastical history,) I have here inserted the same, making haste to other matters, shortly and compendiously abridging them out of divers and sundry authors together compacted, mentioned in this wise.
The coronation and solemnity of King Edward the Third, and all the pomp thereof, was no sooner ended, but Robert of Bruce, king of Scotland, understanding the state and government of the realm to be, as it was indeed, in the queen, the young king, the earl of Kent, and Sir Roger Mortimer; and that the lords and barons, as he was informed, did scarcely well agree amongst themselves, although he grew now in age, and was troubled with the falling disease, yet thought he this a meet time for his purpose, to make invasion; hoping for as good success and like victory now as but lately before he had at the castle of Eustrivelin. Whereupon, about the feast of Easter, he sent his ambassadors with heralds and letters of defiance, to the young King Edward the Third, the queen, and the council, declaring that his purpose was with fire and sword to enter and invade the realm of England, &c. The king, queen, and council, hearing this bold defiance, commanded in all speedy preparation musters to be made throughout all the realm; appointing to every band captains convenient, and at the city of York, by a day assigned them, commanding every man to be, with all their necessary furniture ready and thoroughly provided. They directed their letters also with all speed to Sir John of Heinault, requiring him, with such soldiers and men at arms as he might conveniently provide in Flanders, Heinault, and Brabant, to meet the king and queen upon the Ascension day next ensuing at their city of York.
The king and queen made speedy preparation for this expedition; the noblemen provided themselves of all things necessary thereunto; the English captains and soldiers, their bands throughly furnished, were ready at their appointed time and place; Sir John of Heinault, Lord Bedmount, mustering his men as fast, was ready to take shipping; where at Wysant, in English bottoms, there lying for him ready, he went aboard, and with a. merry wind landed at Dover, travelling from thence by small journeys daily, till he came within three days after the feast of Pentecost to the city of York; where the king and queen, with a great power of sixty thousand men, within and about the city of York, expected his coming; before whom, in courteous wise he presented himself, and mustered his troop, wherein he had to the number of five hundred good men at arms well appointed and mounted. His coming and furniture was well liked both of the king and queen; and he was by the harbinger appointed to be lodged, with his household retinue, in the abbey of white monks. To be brief, such grudge and variance fell between some of the king's soldiers and his, within the suburbs of the town, being together lodged, that from the little to the more, whilst the king and queen, with divers other of the nobles, strangers and others, were at dinner, the said fray so greatly increased, that the whole army, so many as were in the town then lodged, stood to their defence; so that there were slain of the English archers, in short space, by the strangers, to the number of three hundred men. Whereupon grew, after the fray was with much difficulty both of the king and queen ended, such heartburning between the parties, as that the number of six thousand conspired together against them, thinking to have burned them in their lodgings; had they not been, by the great grace of God, and discreet handling, otherwise prevented and let. Whereupon the Heinaulders were fain to take and keep the field; using as diligent watch and ward as though they had been among their hostile enemies. After this the king set forward his army towards Durham, and encamped himself near about the same, who also sent the Lord Vifford and the Lord Mounbrey to Carlisle with a sufficient company to keep that entrance, and also the lord marshal of England to keep the town of Newcastle, with a sufficient company to defend the same, and the country adjoining. For well knew the king, that by one of these two entries the Scots must pass into England, standing both of them upon the river of Tyne, twenty-four miles distant.
But the Scots privily with their army passed the river betwixt the two towns into England, few understanding thereof, till that the great fires which the Scots had kindled and made in England, bewrayed them; who came burning and destroying the country all about as far as Stanhope park. This thing being declared to the king, he commandeth his host with all speed to march towards them, which so long travelled that they came in sight of each other. The king also commanded the passages of the river to be so straitly and narrowly guarded, that by no means the Scots could retire and have escaped back again into Scotland without battle given them of the king. But the Scots, understanding the great power the king was of, kept always the advantage of the hills, retiring in the nights from one to another, that without great odds and advantage on the one side, and hazard to the other, the king could not set upon them. Thus, in the day time the Scots keeping the advantage of the hills, and in the night time retiring to the advantage of such other like, came near against that river where they first passed over, where they made a show to offer battle to the king upon the morrow. Whereupon the king being busied in putting his men and battles in a readiness to fight the next morning, being almost wearied out in pursuing the Scots from place to place; the Scots in the mean season got over the river, and escaped the danger of the king. Which thing, as it could not be done without great treason of some near about the king, so Sir Roger Mortimer was grievously suspected thereof, and after it was laid unto his charge. But to be short, by this means the Scots escaped the river, after whom it should have availed the king very little to have made pursuit, as the wily Scots knew full well. For the joy whereof the Lord William Douglas, one of the Scots' generals, with two hundred horses, gave alarm in the king's camp, and came so near that he cut certain of the lines of the king's tent in sunder with his sword, and retired to his company without great loss of any of his men. Then on the morrow the king, perceiving the Scots to be gone, came to the place where over-night they lodged, where were found five hundred great oxen and kine ready killed; five hundred caldrons made of beasts' skins full of flesh, over the fire seething; a thousand spits full of flesh ready to be roasted, and more than ten thousand shoes of raw leather (the hair still upon the same) which the Scots had left behind them; and five poor English prisoners tied to trees and their legs broken. All which the king seeing, returned with his army (and left any further pursuing the Scots) to Durham; where he dismissed his army and came again to London, sending with Sir John of Heinault two hundred men at arms for their better safeguard against the English archers, with whom at York, as you have heard, they frayed, till they had taken shipping, and so returned home.
The king, then being at London, confirmed the liberties of the citizens, and ordained. that the mayor should sit in all places as chief justice within the liberties of the same. And that what alderman soever had been mayor before, should be a justice of peace within his own ward.
Then the king, the queen, and the council, sent over to the earl of Heinault certain ambassadors, touching the solemnization of the marriage between the king and the Lady Philippa his daughter; who in such sort sped their message, that she was soon after conveyed over to England very honourably, and at Dover arrived. And from thence she came to London, some chronicles affirm to York, where, upon the day of the conversion of St. Paul, the year above specified, the marriage and coronation of the queen was with much triumph during the space of three weeks solemnized.
After which coronation and marriage the king summoned his parliament to be kept at Northampton; whereat, by the means of Sir Roger Mortimer and the old queen, a peace was purchased for the Scots, (who had for that purpose sent their ambassadors,) for four years to endure. Also the king (then being within age) granted to release the Scots of all their homage and fealty unto the realm of England, which by their charter ensealed they were bound to; as also their indenture, which was called the Ragman Roll, wherein was specified the fore-said homage and fealty to the king and crown of England, by the said king of Scots, nobles, and prelates to be made; having all their seals annexed to the same. Also there was then delivered unto them the black cross of Scotland, which King Edward before for a rich jewel and relic had conquered and brought from Scone abbey; with all such rights and titles as any the barons else had enjoyed in the said realm of Scotland, with many other things more, to the great prejudice both of the realm and discontent of all the nobles and barons for the most part, more than the old queen, Sir Roger Mortimer, and the bishop of Ely; who in such sort ruled the roast, that all the rest of the nobles and barons cast with themselves how best they might redress and remedy the great inconveniences that unto the realm by means of them grew and happened. Whereupon the king and queen, and Sir Roger Mortimer, caused another parliament to be called at Salisbury; where the said Sir Roger Mortimer was made earl of March, against all the barons' wills, to prevent and disappoint the foresaid purpose of them; but the earl Henry of Lancaster, with others, would not be at the same; wherefore it was laid unto their charges that they went about to conspire the king's death.
And further, for that the king was as well under the government of the earl of Kent his uncle, as the queen his mother, and the earl of March, and for that they could not do in all things as they listed for the said earl the king's uncle, who loved the king and the realm; envy began to rise between the earl Mortimer and him; and by Isabella the queen's practice, he found the means to persuade the king that the earl of Kent, to enjoy the crown, as next heir unto the king, went about to poison him. Whereunto the king giving light credit caused his said uncle to be apprehended, and, without answer making to his accusation and accusers, to be beheaded at Winchester, the third of October, and third year of his reign. But the just judgment of God not permitting such odious crimes in him to be unpunished nor undetected, so in fine it fell forth, that Isabella the old queen, the king's mother, was found and understood to be with child by the said Mortimer. Complaint hereof was made to the king, as also of the killing of King Edward his father, and of the conspiracy of him against the earl of Kent, the king's uncle, before put to death. Whereupon, divers other articles laid against him, and manifestly read in the court, he was arraigned and indicted, and by verdict found guilty, having his judgment as in cases of high treason, and suffered death accordingly, at London; where, upon London bridge, next unto Spenser's, his head obtained a place. The queen, his mother, also, by good advice of his council, was restrained of her liberty, and within a certain castle not permitted once to come abroad; unto whom the king her son once or twice a year would resort, and visit her.
This year Prince Edward was born at Woodstock; who in process of time and years grew to be a most valiant prince, and was, before he died, accounted throughout the world the flower of chivalry.
After this the king prepared another army into Scotland in the year prefixed. But first he summoned King David of Scotland, who had, in the last truce, four years to continue, as you heard, his father then living, married the Lady Jane, sister to the king, (termed Jane Makepeace,) to do his homage to the king; but that he refused. Whereupon, not forgetting therewithal the scoffing rhymes which daily from that time of truce the Scots had in their mouths, he did so much, that with an army well furnished he entered Scotland by the river of Tweed; for the Scots had then the possession of the town of Berwick. The Scottish jigs and rhymes were these, "Long beards heartless, Painted hoods witless, Grey coats graceless, Make England thriftless." To be short, the king wasted the land, burnt, destroyed, and took towns and castles with small resistance or none; and the space of six months together did in that land what he listed, without any battle offered to him. For the king of Scots was but a child, and not above the age of fifteen years, and wanted good captains that should have defended the realm; insomuch that they were all fain, saving those that kept in holds for their defence, to take the forest of Gedworth, and there kept themselves so long as the king remained in Scotland. Who at length, when he had sufficiently wasted, and spoiled, and burnt the same, returned towards Berwick, about the which he bent his siege, vowing not to remove the same till he had gotten the town.
The Scots that kept the same, after a certain time and many assaults made, were contented upon certain conditions to have delivered up the town. But that the king refused, unless that, all conditions set apart, they would with bag and baggage depart. Whereupon they condescended to the king, that if by a certain time they were not by the king of Scots rescued, they would render up the town, and with bag and baggage depart; and so the time expired, frustrate of all hope and rescue, at the day appointed they did. The king then entered the town, and tarried there the space of twelve days; who, after he had appointed Sir Edward Baillew captain over the town, and leaving also behind him other knights, esquires, and soldiers, as well to keep the same as other holds the king had conquered in Scotland and frontiers thereof, he returned with his people towards London, permitting every man to depart and go what way they liked.
Then Sir Robert d'Artois, a nobleman of France, and which descended of the blood royal, being in England with the king, ceased not oftentimes to advertise the king, and put him in memory of his good and right title to the inheritance of the crown of France. This Sir Robert, for a certain displeasure that Philip the French king took against him for a certain plea which by him was moved before the king, was fain, for the safeguard of his life, to flee the realm of France, and so come to the king's court. King Edward was not unwilling at all to hear thereof, but took delight oftentimes to reason and debate that matter with him concerning his right, title, and inheritance to the crown of France. But yet, notwithstanding, he thought it not good to make any attempt thereunto without advised and circumspect counsel; for that it contained matter of no small, but most difficult importance: neither yet he took it to deserve the fame either of wisdom or prowess to let so good a title die, or so fit opportunity to pass. Wherefore he, calling together certain of his council, used their deliberate advices touching the seriousness of this matter. In fine, it was by them thought good that the king should send certain ambassadors over to the earl of Heinault, whose daughter he had married, as well to hear his advice and counsel herein; as also what friends and aid, by him and his means, in this so great an expedition to be begun in the empire, to him might be procured. The king hereunto condescendeth, and appointeth for this embassage the bishop of Lincoln, with two other baronets, and two doctors; who in such speedy wise made their voyage, that in short space they returned again to the king with this answer: that not only the earl's counsel and advice should be herein pressed to the king of England their master, but also the whole country of Heinault. And further, for that to such an expedition as appertained, he said, the province of Heinault was but a small matter to make account of; he would procure for the king greater aid and friendship in the empire, as the duke of Brabant his cousin-german, and a puissant prince, the duke of Guerles, the archbishop of Cologne, the marquis of Juilers, &c., which are all good men of war, and able to make ten thousand fighting men, saith he. Which answer well liked the king, and made him joyous thereof. But this counsel of the king, as secret as it was, came to Philip the French king's ears; whereupon he staid the voyage of the cross which then he had in hand, sending forth countermands to stay the same, till he knew further the purpose of the king of England.
The king hereupon himself taketh shipping, accompanied as to a king appertained; and when he had consulted with all the foresaid lords of the empire in this matter, and understood their fidelity, he made his repair to the emperor, at whose hands he was well entertained and honourably received, whom the emperor appointed to be his lieutenant-general, having thereby more authority both to will and command such, as for this his expedition he had engaged, and made convention with. Philip, hearing this, prepared his army, and rigged his navy, that so soon as the king should enter into the dominion of France, they also might enter into England, requiting like for like.
The king of England, after the feast of St. John Baptist, according to his purpose, prepared all things ready to such an expedition, conducting his army, and gathering a greater strength in the empire, as before to him was promised, using the emperor's authority therein, as his lieutenant-general; howbeit at the charge altogether of the king of England. The French king, as soon as King Edward had landed his army at Machelen in Flanders, hearing of the defiance which the king and other noblemen of the empire had sent unto him, sent certain ships lying ready thereunto, and waiting for such opportunity, upon the coast of England; which, upon a Sunday, whilst the townsmen were at the church, little looking for any such matter, entered the haven of Southampton, took the town and spoiled the same, defloured maidens, enforced wives, burned, killed, took captives, and carried away rich spoils and great booties to their ships; and so again departed into France. Further, as the king of England had allied himself with the noblemen of the empire, and had the friendly favour of the emperor also thereunto; so the French king made the like league and alliance with David the king of Scots, whom the king had so hardly dealt withal in Scotland, (as partly before you heard,) and kept the most part of Scotland under his subjection; binding the said David, as well by writing as oath and pledge, that without his consent he should make no peace nor conclude any truce with the king of England. Who again assured him of aid, and rescue, and help, and to recover his kingdom and dominion to his use; and forthwith sent certain garrisons and bands into Scotland to keep play with the Englishmen, and there to fortify divers places till further opportunity served. He also fortified with men, money, victual, and munition, the town of Cambray; which he suspected would be besieged, lying so near upon the empire, as indeed it came to pass. For King Edward, departing from Machelen, set forward his host toward Heinault, and by the way assembled such power as in the empire he looked for, marching forward still till that they came to Cambray, and besieged it with forty thousand men, while that with another company the Flemings, Brabanters, and Hollanders went to St. Quintin. But in effect, neither there, nor at Cambray, nor elsewhere, any thing notorious was achieved. But the summer being well spent, and little prevailing in the siege of Cambray, being of situation strong and well defended therewithal with men and munition, he broke up the siege, and marched further into the heart of France towards Mutterel. Which thing the French king having understanding of, prepared himself to give battle to the king of England, who with another great army came to Vironfosse, where days were appointed to meet in battle; but in the end nothing was done nor attempted between the princes; and the king of England, without any battle either given or taken, returned with his army from thence to Ghent. Concerning the cause of the sudden removing of the king out of France, it seemeth most specially to rise of the pope; which at the same time sent down his legates, for the order of a peace to be taken between the kings. At Ghent were gathered by the king's appointment all the nobles, as well of England as of the empire, in council together, what was best to be done; where plain answer was made to the king of England, that unless he would take upon him the claim and title of France, as his lawful inheritance, and as king thereof prosecute his wars, it might not be lawful for them any further to aid the king of England, or to fight with him against the French king; for that the pope had bound them in two millions of florins of gold, and under pain of excommunication, that they should not fight against the lawful king of France. Whereupon the king thought good therefore presently to make open challenge to the realm and crown of France; and further, to quarter and intermingle the arms of France with the arms of England in one escutcheon. Whereupon eftsoons King Edward made answer unto the pope again, directing unto him his letters, wherein he declareth at large his right and title unto the crown of France, purging thereby himself and his cause unto the bishop. The copy and tenor of which letter, because it is too long to express, it is to be found in the story of Thomas Walsingham, remaining in the library of J. Stephenson, citizen of London, whoso hath list or leisure to peruse the same. Besides this letter to the pope he directed another to the peers and prelates of France.
This done, for that the winter then drew on, neither was there any hope, as the time served, of further doing good, the king thought best for a season to return again to England with his company, giving over the wars until the next spring; and so did, taking shipping, and so arrived at Dover. When he came to London, it was declared unto him of the great spoil the Frenchmen had made at Southampton; who answered again, that within one year he doubted not but the same should be well paid for and recompensed. And according to the same purpose of his he lingered no time, but calling a parliament at Westminster, with much grudge and evil will of his subjects there was for the maintenance of his wars granted to him a great subsidy, which was the fifth of every man's goods, and also the customs of his wools two years beforehand, and the ninth sheaf of every man's corn. At the spring the king again prepared his army, and rigged his navy, purposing to land in Flanders. But the archbishop of Canterbury, then lord chancellor, having understanding of the French power upon the sea lying for the king, gave him advertisement there, willing him to go more strongly, or else not to venture. But the king not crediting the archbishop, and being angry with him therefore, said that he would go forward; whereupon the bishop resigned the chancellorship, and removed himself from his council. Then the king, consulting hereupon further with the Lord Morley his admiral, and others, hearing also the same of them, furnished himself with stronger power, and committed him to his ship, and did so much, that a few days before Midsummer he was upon the sea with a great fleet. Before the town of Sluys, the French king, to stop his passage, had laid ready a great navy, well near to the number of twentyscore sail; and had made the Christopher of England (which before the Frenchmen took at Southampton) their admiral: betwixt which two navies was a long and terrible fight; but in the end, the victory, by God's grace, fell to the king of England, in which fight he himself was personally; so that of the number of thirty thousand Frenchmen few or none were left and escaped alive, and two hundred sail of ships taken, in one of the which were found four hundred dead bodies.
After this great slaughter of the Frenchmen, of whom many for fear of the sword leaped into the sea, when no man durst bring tidings thereof to the French king, they which were next about the king did suborn his fool, to insinuate the understanding thereof by subtlety of covert words; which was thus. As the aforesaid fool, being in the king's presence, and was talking of many things; among other talk he suddenly burst out, being prompted by others, into a vehement railing against the Englishmen, calling them cowards and dastards, with many such opprobrious words tending to that effect. The king, not knowing whereunto the words of the fool did appertain, asked the fool, why he called the Englishmen such weaklings and cowards, &c. "Why," saith the fool, "because the fearful and cowardly Englishmen had not the hearts to leap into the sea so lustily as our Normans and gentlemen of France had." Whereby the French king began to understand the victory of his part to be lost, and the Englishmen to be victors.
This victory achieved, the fame thereof spreading abroad in England, first was not believed, till letters thereof came from the king to Prince Edward his son, being then at Waltham, directed to the bishops and prelates of the realm.
After this aforesaid victory upon the sea, and news thereof, with due thanks to our Saviour, sent into England; the king, striking into Flanders, came to Ghent in Brabant, where he had left the queen, who joyfully received him, being a little before purified, or churched, as we term it, of her fourth son, whose name was John, and commonly called John of Gaunt, and was earl of Richmond, and duke of Lancaster. At Villenorth the king assembled his council, whereat the noblemen of Flanders, Brabant, and Heinault conjoining together in most firm league, the one to help and defend the other, with the king of England, against the French king, purposing and determining from thence to march toward Tournay, and it to besiege. But the French king, understanding their counsel, fortified and victualled the same before their coming thither. Furthermore the said French king the same time, to stop the siege of King Edward, sent with King David of Scotland a great power, to that intent to make invasion in England, thereby the sooner to cause the king to remove his siege. In the mean time King Edward wrote his letters to Philip de Valois, making unto him certain requests, as in the same his letters here following is to be seen; who, for that he wrote not unto him as king of France, but by the name of Philip de Valois, refused to answer him touching the same.
Mention was made a little before of David, king of Scots, whom the French king had supported and stirred up against the king and realm of England which David, with the aid of the Scots and Frenchmen, did so much prevail, that they recovered again almost all Scotland, which before he had lost, and was constrained to live in the forest of Gedworth many years before. Then invaded they England, and came with their army, wasting and burning the country before them, till they came as far as Durham, and then returned again into Scotland, where they recovered all their holds again, saving the town of Berwick. Edinburgh they took by a stratagem or subtle device practised by Douglas and certain other, who apparelling themselves in poor men's habits, as victuallers with corn, and provender, and other things, demanded the porter early in the morning what need they had thereof; who, nothing mistrusting, opened the outward gate, where they should tarry till the captain rose; and perceiving the porter to have the keys of the inward gate, they threw down their sacks in the outward gate, that it might not be shut again, and slew the porter, taking from him the keys of the town. Then they blew their horn as a warning to the bands, which privily they had laid not far off; who in hasty wise coming, and finding the gates ready opened, entered upon the sudden, and killed as many as resisted them, and so obtained again the city of Edinburgh.
The Scots thus being busy in England, the French king in the mean season gathered together a puissant power, purposing to remove the siege from Tournay; and among other sent for the king of Scots, who came to him with great force, besides divers other noblemen of France; insomuch that the French king had a great army, and thought himself able enough to raise the siege, and thither bent his host. But the French king, for all this his foresaid huge power and force, durst not yet approach the king so near, as either to give him battle, or else remove his siege, but kept himself with his army aloof, in a sure place for his better defence. And notwithstanding the king of England wasted, burned, spoiled, and destroyed the country, twenty miles in manner compass about Tournay, and took divers and sundry strong towns and holds, as Ortois, Urses, Greney, Archies, Odint, St. Amand, and the town of Lille, where he slew above three hundred men of arms, and about St. Omer he slew and killed of noblemen, the lord of Duskune, of Maurisleou, of Rely, of Chastillion, of Melly, of Fenis, of Hamelar, Mountfaucon, and other barons, to the number of fourteen, and also slew and killed above one hundred and thirty knights, being all men of great possessions and prowess, and took other small cities and towns to the number of three hundred: yet for all this, Philip de Valois, the French king, durst neither rescue his towns, nor relieve his own men; but of his great army he lost, (which is to be marvelled at, being in the midst of his own country,) by famine and other inconveniences, and for want of water, more than twenty thousand men without any battle by him given. Whereupon, at the entreaty of the said Philip by his ambassadors to the king sent, and by the mediation of the Lady Jane, sister to the said Philip, and mother to the earl of Heinault, whose daughter King Edward, as you heard, had married, a truce containing the number of fifteen articles for one year was concluded, the king of England being very unwilling and loth thereunto. Yet, notwithstanding, partly by the instance of the aforesaid lady, but specially for that the king was greatly disappointed, through the negligence of his officers in England; which sent him not over such money as he needed for the continuance of his wars and payment of his soldiers' wages, (the articles being somewhat reasonable,) he agreeth to the, truce thereof.
This truce thus finished, King Edward broke up his camp, removing his siege from Tournay, and came again to Ghent; from whence (very early in the morning) he with a small company took shipping, and by long seas came to the Tower of London, very few or none having understanding thereof. And being greatly displeased with divers of his council and high officers, for that through their default he was constrained against his will, not having money to maintain his wars, to condescend unto the aforesaid truce, he commanded to be apprehended and brought unto him to the Tower, the Lord. John Stonehore, chief justice of England, and Sir John Poulteney, with divers others. And the next morning he sent for L. R., bishop of Chichester, and the Lord Wake, the lord treasurer, and divers other such that were in authority and office, and commanded them all to be kept as prisoners in the said Tower, only the said bishop excepted; whom, for fear of the constitution of Pope Clement, which commanded that no bishop should be by the king imprisoned, he set at liberty and suffered him to go his way, and in his place substituted Sir Roger Boucher, knight, lord chancellor of England. The history treating of this matter reporteth thus: that the king had at this time under him evil substitutes and covetous officers, who, attending more to their own gain than to the public honour and commodity of the realm, left the king destitute and naked of money. With which crime also John Stratford, then archbishop of Canterbury, was vehemently noted and suspected, whether of his true deserving, or by the setting on of others, hereafter shall more appear. Insomuch that the king, ardently incensed against him, charged him with great falsehood used against his person, as by his letters written and directed to the dean and chapter of Paul's against the said archbishop, manifestly appeareth. By the objections and accusations of the king, premised and laid against the archbishop of Canterbury, what is to be thought of the doings of the said archbishop, I leave it to thy judgment, gentle reader, as I said before, to be conjectured; forasmuch as our histories somewhat bearing with the said archbishop, seem either to be uncertain of the truth of the matter, or else covertly to dissemble some part of that they knew. And especially of Polydore Virgil I marvel, who, having so good occasion to touch the matter, doth so slightly pass it over without any word of mention. In which matter, if probable conjecture, beside history, might here be heard, it, is not unlike but that some old practice of prelates hath herein been put in use, through some crafty conspiracy between the pope and the archbishop. And the rather it is to be gathered, for that as the pope was enemy unto the king in this his challenge to the crown of France, so the archbishop against his prince (as for the most part always they have been) was a friend, as no man need to doubt thereof, unto the pope. Which thing also more probably may be supposed, because of the coming down of the two cardinals the same time, from the pope to the king of England, about the matter of further truce; whereof (Christ willing) more hereafter shall follow. Albeit the archbishop (and this notwithstanding) subtilly excused himself to the king of the aforesaid objections, and cunningly handled the matter in words by his letter directed to the king.
And thus stood the case between the king and the archbishop of Canterbury, who, coming thus (as is said) in secret wise into England from the siege of Tournay, his army in the mean while by ships was conveyed to Brittany. Of whom a great number, through unseasonable and inconvenient meats and drinks, was there consumed; to whom also no less danger happened by the seas, coming out of Brittany into England by tempest, thunder and lightning, stirred up, as is thought, by the necromancers of the French king.
About which season, approaching to the year of our Lord 1341, were sent from the pope two other cardinals to treat with King Edward for three years' truce more to be concluded with the French king, beside the former truce taken before for one year, and all by the pope's means. For here is to be understood, that as it was not for the pope's purpose to have the king of England to reign over so many countries, so his privy supportation lacked not by all means possible, both by the archbishops and cardinals, and also by the emperor, to maintain the state of the French king, and to stablish him in his possessions.
In the said histories where these things be mentioned, it is also noted, that the same year such plenty there was here in the realm of victuals, that a quarter of wheat was sold for two shillings, a fat ox for a noble, and, as some say, a sheep for four pence.
The next year following, which was 1342, Louis of Bavaria, the emperor, who before had showed great courtesy to King Edward, in his first voyage over, insomuch that he made him his vicar or vicegerent general, and offered him also aid against the French king; now, either turned by inconstancy, or seduced by the pope, writeth to him contrary letters, wherein he revoketh again the vicegerentship granted to him, and seeketh all means in the favour of the French king, against King Edward, as by his letters may better appear.
In this mean time died Pope Benedict the Twelfth, mentioned a little before; after whom succeeded in that room Pope Clement the Sixth. Of whom it is reported in stories, that he was very liberal and bountiful to his cardinals of Rome, enriching and heaping them with goods and possessions, not of his own, but with the ecclesiastical dignities and preferments of the churches of England. For so recordeth the author, that he bestowed upon his cardinals the livings and promotions, such as were or should be vacant in the churches of England, and went about to set up new titles for his cardinals here within this realm. But the king being offended therewith, made void and frustrate all those aforesaid provisions of the pope; charging moreover and commanding that no person whatsoever should busy himself with any such provisions, under pain of imprisonment and losing his life. Which law was made the next year following, which was A.D. 1344.
It followeth then, that the said Pope Clement again began to make new provisions for two of his cardinals, of benefices and churches that should benext vacant, beside bishoprics and abbotships, to the extent of two thousand marks; whereupon the procurators of the said cardinals were sent down for the same. But the king and nobility of the realm not suffering that, under pain of imprisonment caused the said procurators forthwith to depart the realm, whereupon the nobles and commons shortly after wrote a fruitful epistle to the pope, for the liberties and maintenance of the English church; whereunto, as saith the author, the pope and the cardinals were not able to answer.
After these things thus passed over, the king shortly after sent over his procurators, the earl of Lancaster and Derby, Hugh Spenser, Lord Ralph Stafford, with the bishop of Exeter and divers other, to the pope's court, to discuss and plead about the right of his title before the pope; unto whom the said Pope Clement the Sixth, not long after, sent down this message: how that Louis, duke of Bavaria, the emperor, whom the pope had before deposed, had submitted himself to him in all things, and therefore deserved at his hands the benefit of absolution; and how the pope therefore had conferred and restored unto him justly and graciously the empire, which he before unjustly did hold, &c. Which message when the king did hear, being therewith moved to anger, he answered again, saying, that if he also did agree and compound with the French king, he was ready to fight with them both, &c.
Within the time of this year, pence, halfpence, and farthings, began to be coined in the Tower. And the next year following, which was A.D. 1344, the castle of Windsor, where the king was born, began to be repaired; and in the same house what was called the round table was situated, the diameter whereof, from the one side to the other, contained two hundred feet; to the expenses of which house weekly was allowed a hundred pounds for the maintaining of the king's chivalry, till at length, by the occasion of the French wars, it came down to nine pounds a week. By the example whereof, the French king being provoked, he began also the like round table in France, for the maintaining of the knighthood. At which time the said French king moreover gave free liberty through his realm to fell down trees for making of ships and maintaining of his navy, whereby the realm of England was not a little damnified.
During the same year the clergy of England granted to the king tenths for three years; for the which the king in recompence again granted to them his charter containing these privileges: That no archbishop nor bishop should be arraigned before his justices, if the said clerk do submit and claim his clergy, professing himself to be a member of holy church; who so doing shall not be bound to come to his answer before the justices. And if it shall be laid unto them to have married two wives, or to have married a widow, the justices shall have no power to proceed against them, to inquire of the matter; so that the cause shall be reserved to the spiritual court, &c.
About this present time, at the setting up of the round table, the king made Prince Edward, his eldest son, the first prince of Wales. All this while yet continued the truce between the two kings, albeit it is likely to be thought that the French king gave many attempts to infringe the same; whereupon Henry, earl of Lancaster, with six hundred men at arms, and as many archers, was sent over to Gascony the year after, 1345, who there so valiantly is said to have behaved himself, that he subdued fifty-five townships unto the king; twenty-three noblemen he took prisoners, encountering with the Frenchmen at Allebroke. So courteously and liberally he dealt with his soldiers, that it was a joy to them and a preferment to fight underneath him. His manner was, in winning any town, to reserve little or nothing to himself, but to disperse the whole spoil to his soldiers. One example in the author whom I follow is touched; how the aforesaid earl, at the winning of the town of Briers, where he had, granted to every soldier, for his booty, the house with all the implements therein which he by victory should obtain; among other his soldiers, to one named Reh, fell a certain house with the implements thereof, wherein was contained the mint and money coined for that country, to the value of a great substance; which when the soldier had found, in breaking up a house where first the gross metal was, not yet perfectly wrought, he came to the earl, declaring to him the treasure, to know what was his pleasure therein. To whom the earl answered, that the house was his, and whatsoever he found therein. Afterward the soldier, finding a whole mint of pure silver ready coined, signified the same to the earl, forasmuch as he thought such treasure to be too great for his portion; to whom the said earl again answering, declared that he had once given him the whole house, and that he had once given he would not call back again, as children use to play; and therefore bade him enjoy that which was granted to him; and if the money were thrice as much, it should be his own. Which story, whether it was true or otherwise in those days, I have not to affirm. But certes, if in these our covetous, wretched days now present, any author should report the like act to be practised, I would hardly believe it to be true.
As the earl of Lancaster was thus occupied in Gascony, the Scots were as busy here in England, wasting and spoiling without mercy; which were thought, and not unlike, to be set on by the French king; and therefore he was judged both by that, and by divers other ways, to have broken the covenants of truce between him and the king of England.
Wherefore, the next year ensuing, A.D. 1346, King Edward first sending his letters to the court of Rome, and therein complaining to the pope of Philip de Valois, how he transgressed and broke the truce between them made, which by evident probations he there made manifest, about the month of July he made his voyage into Normandy in such secret wise, that no man well knew whither he intended. Where first he entered the town of Hogs, from thence proceeded unto Cardoyne. Where, about the twenty-seventh of July, by the river of Cardoyne he had a strong battle with the Normans and other Frenchmen, which to stop his passage defended the bridge; at the which battle were taken of the lords of France, the earl of Ewe, the earl of Tankerville; and of knights with other men of arms, to the number of one hundred; of footmen six hundred; and the town and suburbs beaten down to the hard walls; and all that could be borne away was transported to the ships.
A little before, mention was made how the French king began first to infringe the truce taken, and how the earl of Lancaster, upon the same, was sent unto Gascony. Now for the more evidence of the matter concerning the falling of the French king from the league, and other his wrongs and untrue dealing, it shall better in the king's letter appear; who, hearing word that the Lord Philip de Valois (contrary to the form of truce taken at Vanes) had apprehended certain of his nobles of England, and had brought them to Paris to be imprisoned and put to death; besides other slaughters and spoilings made in Brittany, Gascony, and other places more; he, therefore, seeing the truce to be broken of the French king's part, and being thereto of necessity compelled, in the year above prefixed, the fourteenth of the month of June, did publish and send abroad his letters of defiance.
And thus much for the king's letters. Now let us again return to his passage, from whence a little we have digressed. Concerning the which passage of the king, with the order of his acts achieved in the same, from the winning of Cadane or Cardoyne, unto the town of Poissy, it is sufficiently described by one of the king's chaplains and his confessor; who, being a Dominic friar, and accompanying the king through all his journey, writeth thereof as followeth.
"Great cause we have to praise and laud the God of heaven, and most worthily to confess his holy name, who hath wrought so his mercy to us. For after the conflict had at Cadane, in the which many were slain, and,the city taken and sacked even to the bare walls, the city of Baia immediately yielded itself of its own accord, fearing lest their counsels had been bewrayed. After this the lord our king directed his progress toward Rouen; who being at the town of Leeson, there came certain cardinals to him, greatly exhorting him to peace; which cardinals being courteously entertained of the king for the reverence of the pope's see, it was thus answered to them again; That the king being much desirous of peace, had assayed by all ways and means reasonable how to maintain the same; and therefore hath offered conditions and manifold ways of peace, to be had to the no small prejudice of his own cause; and yet is ready to admit any reasonable offer of peace, if by any means it may be sought, &c. With this answer, the cardinals going to the French king, the king's adversary, to persuade with him in like manner, returned to King Edward again, offering to him in the French king's name, the dukedom of Aquitaine, in as full assurance as his father before him ever had it; besides further hope also of obtaining more, if entreaty of peace might be obtained. But forasmuch as that contented not enough the king's mind, neither did the cardinals find the French king so tractable and prepense to the study of peace as they looked for, the cardinals returned, leaving the matter as they found it. And so the king speeding forward by the way as his journey did lie, he subdued the country and the great towns without any resistance of the inhabitants, who did all flee and run away. Such fear God struck into them, that it seemed they had lost their hearts. In the same voyage, as the king had gotten many towns and villages, so also he subdued castles and munitions, very strong, and that with little stress. His enemy being at the same time at Rouen had reared a great army, who, notwithstanding being well manned, yet ever kept on the other side of the river Seine, breaking down all the bridges that we should not come over to him. And although the country round about continually was spoiled, sacked, and with fire consumed, by the circuit of twenty miles round about; yet the French king, being distant scarce the space of one mile from us, either would not, or else durst not, (when he might easily have passed over the river,) make any resistance for the defence of his country and people. And so our king, journeying forward, came to Pusiake or Poissy, where the French king had likewise broken downthe bridge, and keeping on the other side of the river would rest in no place."
After the siege and winning of Poissy, the third day of September, A.D. 1346, the king, through the midst of France, directed his passage unto Calais, as by the tenor of this letter you hear, and besieged the same; which siege he continued from the third of September aforesaid till the third day of August the year next ensuing, upon the which day it was rendered up unto the said King Edward the Third, and subdued unto the crown of England; as after, the Lord willing, shall more appear.
In the mean time, during the siege of Calais, David the Scottish king, at the request of the French king, with a great army burst into the north parts of England, and first besieging the town of Liddell, within six days obtained the greatest part of the town; and there taking all that he could find, with Sir Walter Selby, a valiant knight, which was the keeper of the hold, he caused him uncourteously to be put to the sword: and so from thence proceeded further into England; till at length, being met withal by William Surch, archbishop of York, and the Lord Percy, and the Lord Nevil, with other nobles of those parts, (calling and gathering their men together,) in the plain near to Durham, the seventeenth day of October, in the year above said, through the gracious hand of Christ, there they were subdued and conquered. In the which conflict, the earls of Murray and Strathern, with the flower of all the chivalry and principal warriors of Scotland, were slain. Also the aforesaid King David, with the earls of Mentife and Fife, and other lords, and William Douglas Masklime, a Fleming, and William Douglas, and many more men at arms, were taken prisoners; and so the mischief which they intended to other fell upon their own heads.
Moreover, during yet the siege of Calais, the French king had sent certain offers to the men of Flanders, that if thy would relinquish the king of England, and adhere to him:
First,he would remit all their former transgressions.
Secondly, he would unburden them of their interdict.
Thirdly, he would send unto them such plenty of corn, that what was sold for twelve shillings with them, should be sold for four shillings, and that for six years.
Fourthly, he would store them with plenty of French wool to make cloth, for a small price; and that they might sell the said cloths both in Flanders and in France, and that the Frenchmen should use the same cloth, forasmuch as all other manner of cloth should be forbidden in France so long as any of that (made of French wool) might be found.
Fifthly, he would restore to them these three cities, Insulam, Rowocum, and Betony.
Sixthly, he would defend them from all their adversaries; and in pledge of the same would send them money beforehand.
Seventhly, such as were able and forward men among them, he would retain and promote them, &c.
But these offers, seeming to proceed more of fair words to serve the present turn than of any hearty truth, were not received. Then the Lord John, prince and heir to the French king, during the aforesaid siege of Calais above mentioned, coming with a mighty army of Frenchmen, set upon the men of Flanders and Englishmen in the town of Cassel: in the which conflict, during from morning to noon, the Frenchmen were vanquished, and the young dauphin driven back from whence he came. Of whose number divers were slain and taken prisoners; where on the other side, through the Lord's defence, not one is reported to be grievously wounded.
As this passed on, not long after, about the seventh day of June, A.D. 1347, King Edward continuing still his siege against Calais, Philip the French king came down with a mighty army, purposing to remove the siege; where, not far off from the English host, he encamped himself. Which done, two cardinals, Ambald and Stephan, procured for the same purpose, going between the two kings, gave to the king of England thus to understand: That if he would condescend to any reasonable way of peace, the French king was ready to offer such honest proffers unto him as to reason and to his contentation should seem agreeable. But in conclusion, when it came to talk, the nobles could not agree upon the conditions; wherefore the French king, seeing no other remedy, caused it to be signified to King Edward, that between that present Tuesday and the next Friday, if he would come forth into the field, he should have battle given him. Thus the place being viewed of four captains of either host for the battle to be fought, it so fell, the French king on Wednesday, at night, before the battle should join, secretly by night setting his pavilions on fire, returned back with his army out of the sight of the Englishmen.
Upon the Friday following, they which were besieged in the town of Calais, seeing the king to be retired, upon whose help they trusted, being also in great penury and famine for lack of victuals, and otherwise in much misery vehemently distressed, surrendered the town to the king's hands; who, like a merciful prince, only detaining certain of the chief, the rest with the whole commons he let go with bag and baggage, diminishing no part of their goods, showing therein more princely favour to them, than they did of late in Queen Mary's days unto our men, in recovering the said town of Calais again.
Illustration -- Calais
After the winning thus of Calais, as hath been premised, King Edward, remaining in the said town a certain space, was in consultation concerning his voyage and proceeding further into France. But, by means of the aforesaid cardinals, truce for a certain time was taken, and instruments made (so provided) that certain noblemen, as well for the French king, as for the king of England, should come to the pope, there to debate upon the articles; unto the which King Edward, for peace' sake, was not greatly disagreeing: which was A.D. 1347.
The next year following, which was A.D. 1348, fell a sore plague, which they call the first general pestilence in the realm of England. This plague, as they say, first springing from the east, and so proceeding westward, did so mightily prevail here in this land, beginning first at Dorchester, and the countries thereabout, that every day lightly twenty, some days forty, some sixty and more dead corpses were brought and laid together in one pit. This beginning the first day of August, by the first of November it came to London; where the vehement rage thereof was so hot, and did increase so much, that from the first day of February, till about the beginning of May, in a churchyard then newly made by Smithfield, about two hundred dead corpses every day were buried, besides them which in other churchyards of the city were laid also. At length, by the grace of Christ, ceasing there, it proceeded from thence to the north parts; where also the next year after, A.D. 1349, it assuaged.
After this, in the next year ensuing, A.D. 1350, the town of Calais was, by treason of the keeper of the castle, almost betrayed and won from the Englishmen. Within the compass of which year died Philip, the French king; after whom King John, his son, succeeded in the crown, who, the next year after, under false pretence of friendship, caused the constable of France, earl of Ewe, to be beheaded, who, being taken prisoner before in war by Englishmen, and long detained in prison in England, was licensed by King Edward to visit his country of France. In the same year the town of Guines was taken by Englishmen, while the keepers of the hold were negligent and asleep.
The year next following, the marshal of France with a great army was put to flight by Sir Roger Bentele, knight, and captain in Brittany, having but only six hundred soldiers with him. In this battle were taken nine knights, esquires and gentlemen one hundred and forty. The Frenchmen and men of Brittany by this victory were exceedingly discouraged and their pride cut down.
In the year after was Henry first made duke of Lancaster, which before was earl of Derby and Lancaster; also divers good ordinances were appointed in the parliament at Westminster, which after, by avarice and partial favour of the head men, were again undone.
Concord and agreement about the year 1354 began to come well forward, and instruments were drawn upon the same between the two kings; but that the matter being brought up to Pope Innocent the Sixth, partly by the quarrelling of the Frenchmen, partly by the winking of the pope, which ever held with the French side, the conditions were repealed, which were these: That to the king of England all the dukedom of Aquitaine, with other lands there, should be restored without homage to the French king; and that King Edward again should surrender to him all his right and title which he had in France, whereupon rose the occasion of great war and tumult, which followed after between the two realms.
It followed after this, the year of our Lord 1355, that King Edward, hearing of the death of Philip the French king, and that King John his son had granted the dukedom of Aquitaine to Charles, his eldest son, and dauphin of Vienna, sent over Prince Edward with the earls of Warwick, of Salisbury, of Oxford, and with them a sufficient number of able soldiers into Aquitaine, where he, being willingly received of divers, the rest partly by force of sword he subdued, partly received, submitting themselves to his protection.
Not long after this, in the same year, word being brought to King Edward, that John the French king was ready to meet him at St. Omer, there to give him battle, he gathered his power, and set over to Calais with his two sons, Lionel, earl of Wilton, and John of Gaunt, earl of Richmond, and with Henry, duke of Lancaster, &c., who being come to St. Omer, the French king, with a mighty army of his Francklings, hearing of his coming, the nearer he approached to them, the further they retired back; wasting and destroying behind them, to the intent that the English army in pursuing them should find no victuals. By reason whereof, King Edward, following him by the space of nine or ten days unto Hadem, when neither he could find his enemy to fight, nor victuals nor forage for his army, he returned unto Calais; where war again being offered in the name of the king, upon unstable conditions, and yet the same not performed, King Edward, seeing the shrinking of his enemy, from Calais crossed the seas into England, where he recovered again the town of Berwick, which the Scots before by subtle train had gotten. At which time was granted unto the king in parliament fifty shillings for every sack or pack of wool that should be carried over, for the space of six years together; by the which grant the king might dispend every day by estimation above one hundred marks sterling. And forasmuch as every year one hundred thousand sacks of wool were thought to be exported out of the realm, the sum thereof for six years' space was estimated to amount to one million five hundred thousand pounds sterling.
The same year, when King Edward had recovered Berwick and subdued Scotland, Prince Edward, being in Gascony, made towards the French king; who, notwithstanding by the way all bridges were cast down, and great resistance made, yet the victorious prince made way with his sword, after much slaughter of the Frenchmen, and many prisoners taken, at length joining with the French king at Poictiers, scarce with two thousand, gave the overthrow to the French king with seven thousand men of arms and more. In which conflict, the French king himself, and Philip his son, with Lord James of Bourbon, the archbishop of Sens, eleven earls, twenty-two lords were taken; of other warriors and men of arms two thousand. Some affirm in this conflict were slain two dukes, of lords and noblemen twenty-four, of men of arms two thousand and two, of other soldiers about eight thousand. The common report is, that more Frenchmen were there taken prisoners than were the number of them which took them. This noble victory, gotten by the grace of God, brought no little admiration to all men.
It were too long, and little pertaining to the purpose of this history, to comprehend in order all the doings of this king, with the circumstances of his victories, of the bringing in of the French king into England, of his abode there, of the ransom levied on him, and of David the Scottish king; of which the one was rated at three millions of scutes, the other at one hundred thousand marks, to be paid in ten years: how the staple was after translated to Calais, with such like. I refer them that would see more, to the chronicle of Thomas Walsingham of St. Albans, of John Froysard, Adam Merimouth, who discourse all this at large.