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Richard II by  Jacob Abbott


 

 

THE BATTLE OF POICTIERS

[103] IN process of time, Philip, the King of France, against whom these wars had been waged, died, and John succeeded him. In the course of the reign of John, the Black Prince, when he was about twenty-five years of age, set out from England, at the head of a large body of men, to invade France on the southern and western side. His first destination was Gascony, a country in the southern part of France, between the Garonne, the Pyrenees, and the sea.

From London he went to Plymouth, where the fleet had been assembled in which he was to sail. He was accompanied on his march by an immense number of nobles and barons, all splendidly equipped and armed, and full of enthusiastic expectations of the glory which they were to acquire in serving in such a campaign, under so famed and brilliant a commander.

The fleet which awaited the army at Plymouth consisted of three hundred vessels. The expedition was detained for a long time in the [104] port, waiting for a fair wind and good weather. At length the favorable time arrived. The army embarked, and the ships set sail in sight of a vast assemblage, formed by people of the surrounding country, who crowded the shores to witness the spectacle.

The ships of those times were not large, and, judging from some of the pictures that have come down to us, they were of very odd construction. On the adjoining page is a copy of one of these pictures, from an ancient manuscript of about this time.

These pictures, however, are evidently intended rather as symbols  of ships, as it were, than literally correct representations of them. Still, we can deduce from them some general idea of the form and structure actually employed in the naval architecture of those times.


[Illustration]

ANCIENT REPRESENTATION OF ENGLISH SHIPS

Prince Edward's fleet had a prosperous voyage, and his army landed safely in Gascony. Soon after landing he commenced his march through the country to the eastward, pillaging, burning, and destroying wherever he went. The inhabitants of the country, whom the progress of his march thus overwhelmed with ruin, had nothing whatever to do with the quarrel between his father and the King of France. It made very little difference to them under whose [107] reign they lived. It is not at all unlikely that far the greater portion of them had never even heard of the quarrel. They were quietly engaged in their various industrial pursuits, dreaming probably of no danger, until the advance of this army, coming upon them mysteriously, no one knew whither, like a plague, or a tornado, or a great conflagration, drove them from their homes, and sent them flying about the country in all directions in terror and despair. The prince enjoyed the credit and the fame of being a generous and magnanimous prince. But his generosity and magnanimity were only shown toward knights, and nobles, and princes like himself, for it was only when such as these were the objects of these virtues that he could gain credit and fame by the display of them.

In this march of devastation and destruction the prince overran all the southern part of France. One of his attendants in this campaign, a knight who served in the prince's household, in a letter which he wrote back to England from Bordeaux, gave the following summary of the results of the expedition:


"My lord rode thus abroad in the countrie of his enimies eight whole weekes, and rested not past eleven daies in all those places where he came. And know it for certeine that since this warre began against the [108] French king, he had never such losse or destruction as he hath had in this journie; for the countries and good townes which were wasted in this journie found to the King of France everie yeare more to the maintainance of his warre than half his realme hath doon beside, except, &c."


After having thus laid waste the southern coast, the prince turned his course northward, toward the heart of the country, carrying devastation and destruction with him wherever he came. He advanced through Auvergne and Berri, two provinces in the central part of France. His army was not very large, for it consisted of only about eight thousand men. It was, however, very compact and efficient, and the prince advanced at the head of it in a very and cautious manner. He depended for the sustenance of his soldiers on the supplies which he could obtain from the country itself. Accordingly, he moved slowly from town to town, so as not to fatigue his soldiers by too long marches, nor exhaust them by too frequent battles. "When he was entered anie towne,'' says the old chronicler, "that was sufficientlie stored of things necessarie, he would tarrie there two or three daies to refresh his soldiers and men of warre, and when they dislodged they would strike out the heads of the wine vessels, [111] and burne the wheat, oats, and barlie, and all other things which they could not take with them, to the intent that their enimies should not therewith be sustained and nourished."


[Illustration]

At length, while the prince was advancing through the province of Berri, and approaching the River Loire, he learned that the King of France, John, had assembled a great army at Paris, and was coming down to meet him. Large detachments from this army had already advanced as far as the banks of the Loire, and all the important points on that river had been taken possession of, and were strongly guarded by them. The king himself, at the head of the main force, had reached Chartres, and was rapidly advancing. The prince heard this news at a certain castle which he had taken, and where he had stopped some days to refresh his men.

A council of war was held to determine what should be done. The prevailing voice at this council was in favor of not attempting to cross the Loire in the face of such an enemy, but of turning to the westward toward the province of Poitou, through which a way of retreat to the southward would be open in case a retreat should be necessary. The prince determined to accept this advice, and so he put his army in motion toward the town of Romorantin.

[112] Now the King of France had sent a detachment of his troops, under the command of three famous knights, across the Loire. This detachment consisted of about three hundred horsemen, all armed from head to foot, and mounted on swift chargers. This squadron had been hovering in the neighborhood of the English army for some days, watching for an opportunity to attack them, but without success. Now, foreseeing that Edward would attempt to enter Romorantin, they pushed forward in a stealthy manner to the neighborhood of that town, and placed themselves in ambush at the sides of a narrow and solitary gorge in the mountains, through which they knew the English must necessarily pass.

On the same day that the French knights formed this ambush, several of the commanders in Edward's army asked leave to take a troop of two hundred men from the English army, and ride forward to the gates of the town, in order to reconnoitre the place, and ascertain whether the way was clear for the main body of the army to approach. Edward gave them permission, and they set forward. As might have been expected, they fell into the snare which the French knights had laid for them. The Frenchmen remained quiet and still in their [113] hiding-places, and allowed the English to pass on through the defile. Then, as soon as they had passed, the French rushed out and galloped after them, with their spears in their rests, all ready for a charge.

The English troop, hearing the sound of the galloping of horses in the road behind them, turned round to see what was coming. To their dismay, they found that a troop of their enemies was close upon them, and that they were hemmed in between them and the town. A furious battle ensued. The English, though they were somewhat fewer in number than the French, seem to have been made desperate by their danger, and they fought like tigers. For a time it was uncertain which way the contest would turn, but at length, while the victory was still undecided, the van of the main body of the English army began to arrive upon the ground. The French now saw that they were in danger of being overpowered with numbers, and they immediately began to retreat. They fled in the direction of the town. The English followed them in a headlong pursuit, filling the air with their shouts, and with the clanking of their iron armor as the horses galloped furiously along.

At length they reached the gates of the town, and the whole throng of horsmen, pursuers [114] and pursued, pressed in together. The French succeeded in reaching the castle, and, as soon as they got in, they shut the gates and secured themselves there, but the English got possession of the town. As soon as Edward came in, he sent a summons to the people in the castle to surrender. They refused. Edward then ordered his men to prepare for an assault on the following day.

Accordingly, on the following day the assault was made. The battle was continued all day, but without success on the part of the assailants, and when the evening came on Edward was obliged to call off his men.

The next morning, at a very early hour, the men were called to arms again. A new assaulting force was organized, and at sunrise the trumpet sounded the order for them to advance to the attack. Prince Edward himself took the command at this trial, and by his presence and his example incited the men to make the greatest possible efforts to batter down the gates and to scale the walls. Edward was excited to a high degree of resentment and rage against the garrison of the castle, not only on account of the general obstinacy of their resistance, but because, on the preceding day, a squire, who was attendant upon him, and to whom he was strong- [117] ly attached, was killed at his side by a stone hurled from the castle wall. When he saw this man fall, he took a solemn oath that he would never leave the place until he had the castle and all that were in it in his power.


[Illustration]

STORMING OF THE CASTLE OF ROMORANTIN

But, notwithstanding all the efforts of his soldiers, the castle still held out. Edward's troops, thronged the margin of the ditch, and shot arrows so incessantly at the battlements that the garrison could scarcely show themselves for an instant on the walls. Finally, they made hurdles and floats of various kinds, by means of which large numbers succeeded, half by swimming and half by floating, to get across the ditch, and then began to dig in under the wall, while the garrison attempted to stop their work by throwing down big stones upon their heads, and pots of hot lime to eat out their eyes.

At another part the besiegers constructed great engines, such as were used in those days, in the absence of cannon, for throwing rocks and heavy beams of wood, to batter the walls. These machines also threw a certain extraordinary combustible substance called Greek fire. It was this Greek fire that, in the end, turned the scale of victory, for it caught in the lower court of the castle, where it burned so furiously that it baffled all the efforts of the besieged to [118] extinguish it, and at length they were compelled to surrender. Edward made the principal commanders prisoners, but he let the others go free. The castle itself he utterly destroyed.

Having thus finished this work, Edward resumed his march, passing on to the westward through Touraine, to avoid the French king, who he knew was coming down upon him from the direction of Chartres at the head of an overwhelming army. King John advanced to the Loire, and sending different detachments of his army to different points, with orders to cross at any bridges that they could find, he himself came to Blois, where he crossed the river to Amboise, and thence proceeded to Loches. Here he learned that the English were moving off to the westward, through Touraine, in hopes to make their escape. He set off after them at full speed.

He had four sons with him in his army, all young men. Their names were Charles, Louis, John, and Philip.

At length the two armies began to approach each other near the town of Poictiers.

In the mean time, while the crisis had thus been gradually approaching, the Pope, who was at this time residing at Avignon in France, sent one of his cardinals to act as intercessor between [119] the belligerents, in hopes of bringing them to a peace. At the time when the two armies had drawn near to each other and the battle seemed imminent, the cardinal was at Poictiers, and just as the King of France was marshaling his troops in the order of battle, and preparing for the onset, the cardinal, at the head of his suite of attendants, galloped out to the king's camp, and, riding up to him at full speed, he begged him to pause a moment that he might speak to him.

The king gave him leave to speak, and he thus began:

"Most dear sire," said he, "you have here with you a great and powerful army, commanded by the flower of the knighthood of your whole kingdom. The English, compared with you, are but a handful. They are wholly unable to resist you. You can make whatever terms with them you please, and it will be far more honorable and praiseworthy in you to spare their lives, and the lives of your gallant followers, by making peace with them on such terms as you may think right, without a battle, than to fight with them and destroy them. I entreat you, therefore, sire, that before you proceed any farther, you will allow me to go to the English camp to represent to the prince the [120] great danger he is in, and to see what terms you can make with him."

"Very well," replied the king. "We have no objection. Go, but make haste back again."

The cardinal immediately set off, and rode with all speed into the English camp. The English troops had posted themselves at a spot where they were in a great measure concealed and protected among hedges, vineyards, and groves. The cardinal advanced through a narrow lane, and came up to the English prince at last, whom he found in a vineyard. The prince was on foot, and was surrounded by knights and armed men, with whom he was arranging the plan of the battle.

The prince received the cardinal very graciously, and heard what he had to say. The cardinal represented to him how overwhelming was the force which the King of France had brought against him, and how imminent the danger was that he and all his forces would be totally destroyed in case of a conflict, and urged him, for the sake of humanity as well as from a proper regard for his own interest, to enter into negotiations for peace.

Prince Edward replied that he had no objection to enter into such negotiations, and that he was willing to accept of terms of peace, pro- [121] vided his own honor and that of his army were saved.

The cardinal then returned to the King of France, and reported to him what the prince had said, and he entreated the king to grant a truce until the next morning, in order to afford time for the negotiations.

The knights and barons that were around the king were very unwilling that he should listen to this proposal. They were fierce for the battle, and could not brook the idea of delay. But the cardinal was so urgent, and he pleaded so strongly and so eloquently for peace, that, finally, the king yielded.

"But we will not leave our posts," said he. "We will remain on the ground ready for the onset to-morrow morning, unless our terms are accepted before that time."

So they brought the royal tent, which was a magnificent pavilion of red silk, and pitched it on the field for the king. The army were dismissed to their quarters until the following day.

The time when this took place was early in the morning. The day was Sunday. During all the rest of the day the cardinal was employed in riding back and forth between the two armies, conveying proposals and counter-proposals, and doing all in his power to effect an ar- [122] rangement. But all his efforts were unsuccessful. King John demanded that four of the principal persons in Edward's army should be given up unconditionally to his will, and that the whole army should surrender themselves as prisoners of war. This Prince Edward would not consent to. He was willing, he said, to give up all the French prisoners that he had in custody, and also to restore all the castles and towns which he had taken from the French. He was also willing to bind himself for seven years not to take up arms against the King of France. But all this did not satisfy John. He finally offered that, if the prince would surrender himself and one hundred knights as prisoners of war, he would let the rest of the army go free, and declared that that was his ultimatum. Prince Edward positively refused to accept any such conditions, and so the cardinal, greatly disappointed at the failure of his efforts, gave up the case as hopeless, and returned with a sad and sorrowful heart to Poictiers.

An anecdote is related in this connection by one of the ancient chroniclers, which illustrates curiously some of the ideas and manners of those times. During the course of the day, while the truce was in force, and the cardinal was going back and forth between the two armies, parties [123] of knights belonging to the two encampments rode out from time to time from their own quarters along the lines of the enemy, to see what was to be seen. In these cases they sometimes met each other, and held conversation together, both parties being bound in honor by the truce not to commit any act of hostility. There was a certain English knight, named Sir John Chandos, who in this way met a French knight named Clermont. Both these knights were mounted and fully armed. It was the custom in those days for each knight to have something peculiar in the style of his armor to distinguish him from the rest, and it was particularly the usage for each one to have a certain device and motto on his shield, or on some other conspicuous position of his clothing. These devices and mottoes are the origin of the coats of arms  in use at the present day.

It happened that the device of these two knights was nearly the same. It consisted of a representation of the Virgin Mary embroidered in blue, and surrounded by a radiance of sunbeams. Clermont, on perceiving that the device of Chandos was so similar to his own, called out to him when he came near, demanding,

"How long is it, sir, since you have taken the liberty to wear my arms?"

[124] "It is you yourself who are wearing mine," said Chandos.

"It is false," replied Clermont; "and if it were not for the truce, I would soon show you to whom that device rightfully belongs."

"Very well," replied Chandos. "To-morrow, when the truce is over, you will find me on the field ready to settle the question with you by force of arms."

With that the angry noblemen parted, and each rode back to his own lines.

Early on Monday morning both armies prepared for battle. The cardinal, however, being extremely unwilling to give up all hope of preventing the conflict, came out again, at a very early hour, to the French camp, and made an effort to renew the negotiations. But the king peremptorily refused to listen to him, and ordered him to be gone. He would not listen, he said, to any more pretended treaties or pacifications. So the cardinal perceived that he must go away, and leave the armies to their fate. He called at Prince Edward's camp and bade him farewell, saying that he had done all in his power to save him, but it was of no avail. He then returned to Poictiers.

The two armies now prepared for battle. The King of France clothed himself in his royal ar- [125] mor, and nineteen of his knights were armed in the same manner, in order to prevent the enemy from being able to single out the king on the field. This was a common stratagem employed on such occasions. The English were strongly posted on a hill side, among vineyards and groves. The approach to their position was through a sort of lane bordered by hedges. The English archers were posted along these hedges, and when the French troops attempted to advance, the archers poured such a shower of barbed arrows into the horses' sides, that they soon threw them into confusion. The barbed arrows could not be withdrawn, and the horses, terrified with the stinging pain, would rear, and plunge, and turn round upon those behind them, until at length the lane was filled with horses and horsemen piled together in confusion. Now, when once a scene of confusion like this occurred upon a field of battle, it was almost impossible to recover from it, for the iron armor which these knights wore was so heavy and so cumbersome, that when once they were unhorsed they could not mount again, and sometimes could not even rise, but writhed and struggled helplessly on the ground until their squires came to relieve them.

The battle raged for many hours, but, con- [126] trary to the universal expectation, the English were every where victorious. Whether this was owing to the superior discipline of the English troops, or to the reckless desperation with which their situation inspired them, or to the compact disposition that the prince had made of his forces, or to the shelter and protection afforded by the trees, and hedges, and vines, among which they were posted, or to the superior talents of the Black Prince as a commanding officer, or to all these causes combined, it is impossible to say. The result was, however, that the French were every where overcome, thrown into confusion, and put to flight. Three of the French king's sons were led off early from the field, their attendants excusing their flight by their anxiety to save the princes from being taken prisoners or put to death. A large squadron were driven off on the road to Poictiers. The inhabitants of Poictiers, seeing them coming, shut the gates to keep them out, and the horsemen, pursuers and pursued, became jammed together in a confused mass at the gates, and on the causeway leading to them, where they trampled upon and killed each other by hundreds. In every other direction, too, detached portions of the two armies were engaged in desperate conflicts, and the air was filled with [127] the clangor of arms, the notes of the trumpets, the shouts of the victors, and the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying.

At length Sir John Chandos, who had fought in company with Prince Edward all the day, advanced to the prince, and announced to him that he thought the battle was over.

"Victory!" said he, "victory! The enemy is beaten and driven wholly off the ground. It is time to halt and to call in our men. They are getting greatly scattered. I have taken a survey of the ground, and I do not see any where any French banners flying, or any considerable bodies of French troops remaining. The whole army is dispersed."

So the king gave orders to halt, and the trumpets blew the signal for the men to cease from the pursuit of their enemies, and to gather again around the prince's banner. They set up the banner upon a high bush, near where the prince was standing, and the minstrels, gathering around it, began to play in honor of the victory, while the trumpets in the distance were sounding to recall the men.

The officers of the prince's household brought the royal tent, a beautiful pavilion of crimson silk, and pitched it on the spot. They brought wine, too, and other refreshments; and as the [128] knights, and barons, and other noble warriors arrived at the tent, the prince offered them refreshments, and received their congratulations on the great deliverance which they had achieved. A great many prisoners were brought in by the returning knights to be held for ransom.

While the knights and nobles were thus rejoicing together around the prince's tent, the prince asked if any one knew what had become of the King of France. No one could answer. So the prince dispatched two trusty barons to ride over the field and see if they could learn any tidings of him. The barons mounted their horses at the door of the pavilion and rode away. They proceeded first to a small hillock which promised to afford a good view. When they reached the top of this hillock, they saw at some distance a crowd of men-at-arms coming along together at a certain part of the field. They were on foot, and were advancing very slowly, and there seemed to be some peculiar excitement among them, for they were crowding and pushing each other in a remarkable manner. The truth was, that the men had got the King of France and his youngest son Philip in their possession, and were attempting to bring them in to the prince's tent, but were quarrel- [129] ing among themselves as they came along, being unable to decide which of them was entitled to the custody of the prisoners. The barons immediately put spurs to their horses, and galloped down the hill to the spot, and demanded what was the matter. The people said that it was the King of France and his son who had been made prisoners, and that there were no less than ten knights and squires that claimed them. These men were wrangling and contending together with so much violence and noise that there was danger that the king and the young prince would be pulled to pieces by them. The king, in the mean time, was entreating them to be quiet, and begging them to deal gently with them, and take them at once to Prince Edward's tent.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen," said he, "I pray you to desist, and conduct me and my son in a courteous manner to my cousin the prince, and do not make such a riot about us. There will be ransom enough for you all."

The contending knights and barons, however, paid little heed to these words, but went on vociferating, "It is I  that took him."

I tell you he is my  prisoner."

"No, no, we  took him. Let him alone. He belongs to us."

[130] The two barons pressed their horses forward into the midst of the crowd, and drove the knights back. They ordered them all, in the name of the prince, to let go the prisoners and retire, and they threatened to cut down on the spot any man who refused to obey. The barons then dismounted, and, making a profound reverence before the king, they took him and his son under their protection, and conducted them to the prince's tent.

The prince received the royal prisoners in the kindest and most respectful manner. He made a very low obeisance to the king, and treated him in every respect with the utmost consideration. He provided him with every thing necessary for his comfort, and ordered refreshments to be brought, which refreshments he presented to the king himself, as if he were an honored and distinguished guest instead of a helpless prisoner.

Although there were so many English knights and barons who claimed the honor of having made the King of France prisoner, the person to whom he really had surrendered was a French knight named Denys. Denys had formerly lived in France, but he had killed a man in a quarrel there, and for this crime his property had been confiscated, and he had been banished [131] from the realm. He had then gone to England, where he had entered into the service of the king, and, finally, had joined the expedition of the Prince of Wales. This Denys happened to be in the part of the field where the King of France and his son Philip were engaged. The king was desperately beset by his foes, who were calling upon him all around in English to surrender. They did not wish to kill him, preferring to take him prisoner for the sake of the ransom. The king was not willing to surrender to any person of inferior rank, so he continued the struggle, though almost overpowered. Just then Denys came up, and, calling out to him in French, advised him to surrender. The king was much pleased to hear the sound of his own language, and he called out,

"To whom shall I surrender? Who are you?"

"I am a French knight," said Denys; "I was banished from France, and I now serve the English prince. Surrender to me."

"Where is the prince?" said the king. "If I could see him I would speak to him."

"He is not here," said Denys; "but you had better surrender to me, and I will take you immediately to the part of the field where he is."

So the king drew off his gauntlet, and gave [132] it to Denys as a token that he surrendered to him; but all the English knights who were present crowded around, and claimed the prisoner as theirs. Denys attempted to conduct the king to Prince Edward, all the knights accompanying him, and struggling to get possession of the prisoner by the way. It was while the contention between Denys and these his competitors was going on, that the two barons rode up, and rescued the king and his son from the danger they were in.


That night Prince Edward made a sumptuous supper for the king and his son. The tables were spread in the prince's pavilion. The greater part of the French knights and barons who had been taken prisoners were invited to this banquet. The king and his son, with a few French nobles of high rank, were placed at an elevated table superbly appointed and arranged. There were side tables set for the squires and knights of lower degree. Prince Edward, instead of seating himself at the table with the king, took his place as an attendant, and served the king while he ate, notwithstanding all the entreaties of the king that he would not do so. He said that he was not worthy to sit at the table of so great a king and of so val- [133] iant a man as the king had shown himself to be that day.

In a word, in all his demeanor toward the king, instead of triumphing over him, and boasting of the victory which he had achieved, he did every thing in his power to soothe and assuage the fallen monarch's sorrow, and to diminish his chagrin.

"You must not allow yourself to be dejected, sire," said he, "because the fortune of war has turned against you this day. By the manner in which you acquitted yourself on the field, you have gained imperishable renown; and though, in the decision of divine Providence, the battle has gone against you for the moment, you have nothing personally to fear either for yourself or for your son. You may rely with perfect confidence upon receiving the most honorable treatment from my father. I am sure that he will show you every attention in his power, and that he will arrange for your ransom in so liberal and generous a spirit that you and he will henceforth become warm and constant friends."

This kind and respectful treatment of his prisoners made a very strong impression upon the minds of all the French knights and nobles, and they were warm in their praises of the mag- [134] nanimity of their victorious enemy. He treated these knights themselves, too, in the same generous manner. He liberated a large number of them on their simple promise that they would send him the sums which he named respectively for their ransoms.

Although Edward was thus, on the whole, victorious in this battle, still many of the English knights were killed, and quite a number were taken prisoners and carried off by the French to be held for ranson. One of these prisoners, a Scotch knight named Douglas, made his escape after his capture in a very singular manner. He was standing in his armor among his captors late in the evening, at a place at some distance from the field, where the French had taken him and some other prisoners for safety, and the French were about to take off his armor, which, from its magnificence, led them to suppose that he was a person of high rank and importance, as he really was, and that a grand ransom could be obtained for him, when another Scotch knight, named Ramsay, suddenly fixing his eyes upon him, pretended to be in a great rage, and, advancing toward him, exclaimed,

"You miserable wretch! How comes it that you dare to deck yourself out in this way in [135] your master's armor? You have murdered and robbed him, I suppose. Come here and pull off my boots."

Douglas understood at once Ramsay's design, and so, with pretended tremblings, and looks of guilt and fear, he came to Ramsay and pulled off one of his boots. Ramsay took up the boot and struck Douglas upon the head with it. The other English prisoners, wondering, asked Ramsay what he meant.

"That is Lord Douglas," said they.

"Lord Douglas?" repeated Ramsay, in a tone of contempt. "No such thing. It is his servant. He has killed his master, I suppose, and stolen his armor." Then, turning to Douglas and brandishing the boot over him again, he cried out,

"Off with you, you villain! Go and look over the field, and find your master's body, and when you have found it come back and tell me, that I may at least give him a decent burial."

So saying, he took out forty shillings, and gave the money to the Frenchmen as the ransom of the pretended servant, and then drove Douglas off, beating him with the boot and saying,

"Away with you! Begone!"

Douglas bore this all very patiently, and went [136] away with the air of a detected impostor, and soon got back safely to the English camp.


After the battle of Poictiers Prince Edward moved on toward the westward with his army, taking with him his royal prisoners, and stopping at all the large towns on his way to celebrate his victory with feastings and rejoicings. At last he reached Bordeaux on the coast, and from Bordeaux, in due time, he set sail with his prisoners for London. In the mean time, news of the victory, and of the coming of the King of France as prisoner to England, had reached London, and great preparations were made there for the reception of the prince. The prince took a fleet of ships and a large force of armed men with him on the voyage, being afraid that the French would attempt to intercept him and rescue the prisoners. The King of France and his suite had a ship to themselves. The fleet landed at a place called Sandwich, on the southern coast of England, and then the cortége of the prince proceeded by slow journeys to London.

The party was received at the capital with great pomp and parade. Besides the cavalcades of nobles, knights, and barons which came out to meet them, all the different trades and companies of London appeared in their respect- [137] ive uniforms, with flags and banners, and with the various emblems and insignia of their several crafts. All London flocked into the streets to see the show.

One would have supposed, however, from the arrangements which Prince Edward made in entering the city, that the person whom all this pomp and parade was intended to honor was not himself, but the king his captive; for, instead of riding at the head of the procession in triumph, with the King of France and his son following as captives in his train, he gave the king the place of honor, while he himself took the station of one of his attendants. The king was mounted on a white charger very splendidly caparisoned, while Prince Edward rode a small black horse by his side. The procession moved in this way through the principal streets of the city to a palace on the banks of the river at the West End, which had been fitted up in the most complete and sumptuous manner for the king's reception. Soon after this, the King of England, Prince Edward's father, came to pay his captive cousin a visit, and, though he retained him as a captive, he treated him in other respects with every mark of consideration and honor.

The King of France and his son remained captives in England for some time. The king [138] and the queen treated them with great consideration. They often visited King John at his palace, and they invited him to the most sumptuous entertainments and celebrations made expressly to do him honor.

In the mean time, the war between England and France still went on. Many battles were fought, and many towns and castles were besieged and taken. But, after all, no great progress was made on either side, and at length, when both parties had become wearied and exhausted in the struggle, a peace was concluded, and King John, having paid a suitable ransom for himself and for those who were with him, was allowed to return home. He had been in captivity for about five years.


The conduct of Prince Edward at the battles of Crecy and of Poictiers, in both which contests the English fought against an immense superiority of numbers, and the great eclat of such an achievement as capturing the French king, and conducting him a prisoner to London, joined to the noble generosity which he displayed in his treatment of his prisoners, made his name celebrated throughout the world. Every body was sounding the praises of the Black Prince, the heir apparent to the English throne, and [139] anticipating the greatness and glory to which England would attain when he should become king.

This was an event which might occur at any time, for King Edward his father was drawing gradually into the later years of life, and he himself was now nearly forty years of age.


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