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Title: Life of Edward the Black Prince
Author: Creighton, Louise
Language: English
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_With Introductions and Notes._

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THE ROMAN REVOLUTION. From B.C. 133 to the Battle of Actium.

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_Edited by_



With Maps.

The most important and the most difficult point in historical teaching
is to awaken a real interest in the minds of beginners. For this purpose
concise handbooks are seldom useful. General sketches, however accurate
in their outlines of political or constitutional development, and
however well adapted to dispel false ideas, still do not make history a
living thing to the _young_. They are most valuable as maps on which to
trace the route beforehand and show its direction, but they will seldom
allure any one to take a walk.

The object of this series of Historical Biographies is to try and select
from English History a few men whose lives were lived in stirring times.
The intention is to treat their lives and times in some little detail,
and to group round them the most distinctive features of the periods
before and after those in which they lived.

It is hoped that in this way interest may be awakened without any
sacrifice of accuracy, and that personal sympathies may be kindled
without forgetfulness of the principles involved.

It may be added that around the lives of individuals it will be possible
to bring together facts of social life in a clearer way, and to
reproduce a more vivid picture of particular times than is possible in a
historical handbook.

By reading short biographies a few clear ideas may be formed in the
pupil's mind, which may stimulate to further reading. A vivid impression
of one period, however short, will carry the pupil onward and give more
general histories an interest in their turn. Something, at least, will
be gained if the pupil realises that men in past times lived and moved
in the same sort of way as they do at present.

The series contains the following Biographies:

 SIMON DE MONTFORT.      [_Price 2s. 6d._
 THE BLACK PRINCE.       [_Price 2s. 6d._




 Oxford and Cambridge


    "In war, was never lion rag'd more fierce,
    In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild,
    Than was that young and princely gentleman;
    ... when he frown'd it was against the French,
    And not against his friends; his noble hand
    Did win what he did spend, and spent not that
    Which his triumphant father's hand had won:
    His hands were guilty of no kindred's blood,
    But bloody with the enemies of his kin."

SHAKESPEARE, _Richard II._ Act ii. Scene 2.





 1330 Birth                                                    1
      Position of Edward III.                                  2
      Fall of Mortimer                                         3
      Scottish Affairs                                         4
 1333 Edward's Claim to the French Crown                       7
      Prince Edward's Education                                9



 1336 Flanders and Jacques van Arteveldt                      12
 1338 Edward III. sails for Flanders                          14
      His Journey to Coblentz                                 15
      He leads an army into France                            16
 1339 He grants Charters to the Flemings                      16
 1340 Birth of John of Gaunt                                  17
      Edward III.'s Money Difficulties                        17
      Battle of Sluys                                         19
      Edward III. Invests Tournai                             20
      Truce with France                                       21
 1344 Earl of Derby sent to Guienne                           22
      English Possessions in France                           22
 1345 Edward III. goes to Flanders again                      24
      Murder of Van Arteveldt                                 25



      Constitution of Edward III.'s Army                      27
 1346 Edward III. sails from Portsmouth                       31
      He lands at La Hogue                                    32
      Capture of Caen                                         33
      Edward III. marches up the Seine                        34
      Pursuit of Philip                                       35
      Battle of Cressy                                        37



 1346 Edward III. lays siege to Calais                        46
 1347 Surrender of the Garrison                               49
      Heroism of the Six Burghers                             49
      Edward III. returns to England                          51
 1349 Geoffroy de Chargny tries to retake Calais              52



 1347 Effect of Edward's Victories on England                 54
      Chivalry                                                55
      Education of a Knight                                   56
      Institution of Knighthood                               57
      Ideal of Knighthood                                     58
      Tournaments in England                                  60
      Order of the Garter                                     61
      Dress                                                   64
      Furniture                                               66
      Amusements                                              67
      Miracle Plays                                           68
      Christmas Festivities                                   69
      Hunting and Hawking                                     70



 1348 First appearance of the Black Death in England          72
      Its Ravages                                             74
 1349 The Flagellants                                         75
      Effect of the Black Death on Labour                     76
      The Statute of Labourers                                78
      Condition of the Labourer                               81
      Langland's "Vision of Piers the Plowman"                82



 1350 Sea-fight with the Spaniards                            86
 1351 State of France                                         90
 1354 Triple Invasion of France                               92
 1356 Burnt Candlemas                                         93



 1355 The Black Prince sails from Poitiers                    94
      His Raid into France                                    95
 1356 He starts on his Second Campaign                        96
      Capture of Romorantin                                   97
      Battle of Poitiers                                      98
      Capture of King John                                   107
      The Black Prince returns to Bordeaux                   110



 1356 Entry of the Black Prince into Bordeaux                113
 1357 Black Prince, with King John, sails for England        115
      They enter London in triumph                           115
      State of France                                        119
 1358 Jaquerie                                               121
 1359 Peace Negotiations                                     122



 1359 Edward III. leads a mighty Army into France            123
      He lays siege to Rheims                                125
      He marches into Burgundy                               127
      Sir Walter Manny assaults the barriers of Paris        127
 1360 Treaty signed at Bretigny                              128
      King John returns to France                            129
      Chandos Lieutenant in Aquitaine                        131



 1361 Meeting of Parliament                                  132
      Black Prince's Marriage                                133
      John of Gaunt becomes Duke of Lancaster                133
      Geoffrey Chaucer                                       134
 1362 Edward III. celebrates his Jubilee                     139
 1363 Sumptuary Laws                                         140
      Archbishop Islip's Remonstrance                        141
      Wealth of the City of London                           142
      King John's return to England                          144



      State of Aquitaine                                     145
      Bastides                                               146
      Edward III.'s Policy in Aquitaine                      147
      Black Prince's Court at Bordeaux                       149
 1364 Birth of Prince Edward                                 150
      State of Spain                                         151
      Don Pedro and Henry of Trastamare                      153
 1366 Black Prince promises to help Don Pedro                155
      Preparations for the Spanish Campaign                  158



 1367 Birth of Prince Richard                                159
      Troops meet at Dax                                     160
      Bertrand Du Guesclin                                   161
      Black Prince crosses the Pyrenees                      162
      Henry's Manifesto                                      163
      Black Prince marches to Logrono                        164
      Battle of Navarette                                    165
      Restoration of Don Pedro                               169
      Black Prince winters round Valladolid                  170
      He Returns to Aquitaine                                171



      Effects of Spanish Campaign                            173
 1368 Release of Du Guesclin                                 175
      Death of Don Pedro                                     176
      Hearth Tax in Aquitaine                                177
      Discontent in Aquitaine                                177
 1369 Black Prince summoned to Paris                         179
      Death of Chandos                                       180
 1370 Siege of Limoges                                       183
 1371 Black Prince returns to England                        186



 1369 Death of Queen Philippa                                187
      Growth of Parliament                                   188
      Parliaments of Edward I.                               189
      Parliaments of Edward III.                             190
      State of Clergy                                        192
 1371 The Papacy                                             193
 1351 The Popes at Avignon                                   194
 1353 Statutes of Provisors and Præmunire                    195
 1371 Lancaster's Opposition to the Clergy                   197
      Lancaster's Union with Wiclif                          197
      William of Wykeham                                     199
      Petition of Parliament against the Clergy              200
      Triumph of Lancaster's Party                           201
 1374 Congress at Bruges                                     202



 1376 Unpopularity of Lancaster                              204
      Meeting of Parliament                                  205
      De la Mare, Speaker                                    206
      Petitions of Parliament                                208
      Impeachments of Lyons, Lord Latimer, &c.               208
      Impeachment of Alice Perrers                           210



 1376 Scene round Black Prince's Death-bed                   212
      His Funeral                                            215
      His Character                                          217
      Results of the French Wars                             220



      Lancaster's return to power                            221
 1377 Charges of Heresy against Wiclif                       222
      His "Simple Priests"                                   223
 1381 Peasant's Revolt                                       223
      Insurgents enter London                                224
      Murder of Archbishop Simon Sudbury                     225
      Death of Wat the Tyler                                 225
      Wiclif's Translation of the Bible                      226
      Summary                                                229


 Plan of Cressy                                               39
 Plan of Poitiers                                             99
 Map of France                                    at end of vol.


Early Years of the Black Prince.

On the 15th June, in the year 1330, there were great rejoicings in the
Royal Palace of Woodstock. One Thomas Prior came hastening to the young
King Edward III. to tell him that his Queen had just given birth to a
son. The King in his joy granted the bearer of this good news an annual
pension of forty marks. We can well imagine how he hurried to see his
child. When he found him in the arms of his nurse, Joan of Oxford,
overjoyed at the sight, he gave the good woman a pension of ten pounds a
year, and granted the same sum to Matilda Plumtree, the rocker of the
Prince's cradle.

Perhaps with Edward's thoughts of joy at the birth of his son were
mingled some feelings of shame. It was three years since he had been
crowned, and yet he was King only in name. He was nothing but a tool in
the hands of his unscrupulous mother Isabella, and her ambitious
favourite Mortimer. He was very young, not quite eighteen, and had not
had sufficient knowledge or experience to know how to break the bonds
within which he was held. But with the new dignity of father came to him
a sense of his humiliating position. He would wish that his own son, on
reviewing his youth, should have different thoughts of his father than
he had.

He can hardly have borne to look back upon his own youth, with its
shameful memories. He had seen his father, Edward II., by his dissipated
life and his slavish devotion to his favourites, alienate the affection
of his subjects, and provoke the Barons to rise against him. Then, when
peace had for awhile been restored, he had gone with his mother to
France. He had seen her refuse to return to England at the King's
demand; he had watched the growth of the disgraceful intimacy between
her and Roger Mortimer, one of the rebel earls. At last, a powerless
instrument in their hands, he had been taken by her and Mortimer to
invade England, and Edward II.'s throne was attacked and overthrown by
his own wife and son.

The rebellion was entirely successful. None were found to espouse the
cause of the despised King. He was obliged formally to give up the crown
to his son, and on the 20th January, 1327, Edward III., then only in his
fourteenth year, was proclaimed King. All we know of the part taken by
Edward III. himself in these proceedings is, that he refused to receive
the crown without the sanction of his father. But he had no real power:
all was in the hands of the Queen and Mortimer. Before the end of the
year, feeling insecure whilst Edward II. was still alive, they caused
him to be secretly murdered in the castle where he was imprisoned. Soon
after they married the young King to Philippa, daughter of the Count of
Hainault, a union destined in every way to contribute to his happiness
and to the good of the kingdom.

The power of Queen Isabella and Mortimer continued unchecked till the
birth of Prince Edward. It was a troubled world in which the little
Prince first saw the light. For three years the English people had been
subjected to a rule they detested, and their discontent had been
gradually growing. One attempt at rebellion had been made by the King's
uncle, Edmund Earl of Kent; but it had only ended in the execution of
the simple, high-minded Earl. This had increased tenfold the hatred with
which Mortimer was regarded. Edward III. felt that as a father he was no
longer a mere boy, and could not continue to submit to his own

It was not difficult to find people ready and eager to enter into his
plans. A conspiracy was formed, of which the Queen and Mortimer seem to
have had dim suspicions. They tried to avert the danger by keeping
Edward with them in Nottingham Castle. But he succeeded in gaining over
the governor of the castle, and a body of armed men was introduced at
midnight through a subterranean passage. They broke into the room where
Mortimer was, and after a short struggle made him prisoner. The Queen,
who was in the next room, burst in with agonized entreaties, "Fair son,
fair son, oh spare the gentle Mortimer!"

Soon afterwards Mortimer was brought to trial, before a Parliament
summoned by Edward, and was sentenced to be hanged. Queen Isabella was
kept in honourable confinement till her death, twenty-seven years after.

Edward III. now took the entire management of affairs into his hands,
and soon found that he had plenty to do. Whilst the little Prince was
still in his cradle, his father was already perplexed by the events
which were to lead to those wars in which both played such a brilliant

Edward III.'s grandfather, Edward I., had cherished the dream of uniting
under his own rule England, Scotland, and Wales. At times he had been
very near the fulfilment of this dream; but Scottish love of
independence had been too strong for him. The Scots found powerful
leaders; they struggled fearlessly against apparently hopeless odds, and
at last secured the throne to Robert Bruce.

The English however would not give up the hope of conquering Scotland.
One of the most unpopular acts of Queen Isabella and Mortimer had been
the conclusion of a peace with Scotland, called the Treaty of
Northampton, in which they had recognised Robert Bruce as King. Edward
III. therefore was acting quite in accordance with the wishes of his
people when he interfered with Scottish affairs.

The moment seemed hopeful. Robert Bruce was dead, his son David was a
mere child, and a new claimant to the throne had arisen in Edward
Baliol, whose father in former days had struggled for the crown against
the Bruces. Baliol was successful, and David Bruce had to fly to France.
Then Edward demanded that Baliol should recognise him as suzerain, that
is, should acknowledge the over-lordship of the English King, and do him
homage as one of his vassals.

Baliol consented, and this in the end lost him his crown. The Scottish
nobles, who had fought so bravely for their independence, would own no
allegiance to a monarch who could tamely submit to the King of England;
they revolted, and chased Baliol from the throne. It was then that
Edward was called upon to interfere actively; he summoned an army, and
marched against the revolted Scots; they were completely crushed at the
battle of Hallidon Hill, near Berwick. Berwick itself fell into Edward's
hands, and remained part of the English dominions ever afterwards.
Baliol was restored to the throne, and maintained there by Edward III.

The Scottish barons, however, still clung to the house of Bruce; they
would not recognise Baliol, the sub-King of the King of England. They
turned to France for help, and France was willing enough to listen to
them and seize this opportunity of striking a blow at the growing power
of the English Crown. Already, in the reign of Edward I., she had aided
the Scots against the English; and it soon became clear to Edward III.
that he could not hope for submission from Scotland until he had put an
end to the intervention of France.

So we see that it is in the struggle between Scotland and England that
we must look for the chief cause of the great French war, which was to
drain the resources of both countries for a hundred years. We shall see,
as we follow the course of events, how brilliantly this war opened, and
how eager the English were to engage in it.

England, since Edward III. had become King in fact as well as in name,
seemed inspired with a new life. The King was young and ambitious,
anxious to promote his people's good, and eager to gain glory for
himself. Commerce was extending on every side, and largely increasing
the wealth of the country. National life beat vigorously, as we see,
amongst other things, in the increased use of the English tongue.
Formerly French had been the common language taught in the schools; but
now it began gradually to fall into disuse, and before the end of
Edward's reign the English language was to win its final triumph by the
appearance of Chaucer, the first great English poet, and Wiclif, the
first great English prose-writer. The English people were eager for some
great undertaking, and from the very first the idea of the French war
was extremely popular. The people wished it more than Edward himself,
and the Parliament urged him to assert his claim to the French Crown.

It is not likely that any one ever thought this claim to be serious, or
considered it to be any thing but a useful pretext for the war. Such as
it was, Edward's claim to the French Crown came through his mother
Isabella, granddaughter of Philip III. the Bold, King of France. Her
three brothers had reigned one after another, and all died without male
issue. On the death of the last, Charles IV., the crown passed to his
cousin, Philip of Valois, son of Charles of Valois, the second son of
Philip the Bold. Edward III., in asserting his claim, had to maintain,
that though, according to the Salic law, females could not inherit the
crown, they could transmit it to males.[1] He could never have seriously
urged such a plea, if other causes had not led to a war with France, and
in time made it useful for him to assume the title of King of France.

There can be no doubt that Edward was grievously provoked by the French
before he made up his mind to engage in war. The restless ambition of
Philip of Valois produced a general feeling of insecurity. His pirate
ships interfered with the trade of the channel. He made constant
encroachments upon the English possessions in France, and frequently
threatened an invasion of England, whilst he thwarted in every possible
way Edward's policy with regard to Scotland. Under these circumstances
it was natural for the English King to go to war, though if the war had
not aimed at conquest it would have been better for England in the end.
Edward III., however, was full of youthful ambition. He did not care to
look into the future, but rushed into the war as if it had been a great
tournament, in which he and his knights might distinguish themselves.

So active were the fears of French invasion during the first years of
Edward III.'s reign, that we find orders for putting the Isle of Wight
and the southern coast into a state of defence; and in 1335 the young
Prince was sent to Nottingham for safety. He must have been early
accustomed to hear war talked of, and probably the chief part of his
education was concerned with military exercises. We know little of his
youth, except that he was educated under the direction of Dr. Walter
Burley, of Merton College, Oxford, which, since its foundation by Walter
de Merton, the Chancellor of Henry III., had produced most of the men
distinguished in England for their learning. Dr. Burley, on account of
his fame for learning and piety, had been appointed Queen's almoner; as
his reputation increased at Court, he was finally appointed tutor to the
Prince. In accordance with the custom of the times, many other young
gentlemen were educated in common with Prince Edward, so that
companionship might lend an increased interest to his studies. Amongst
others, Simon Burley, a young kinsman of Dr. Burley's, was admitted to
share these advantages. He became a great favourite with the Prince, and
in time was made Knight of the Garter, and was entrusted with the
education of the Prince's son, Richard of Bordeaux.

We can form a pretty good idea of the kind of education received by
Prince Edward and his companions. Chivalry was then at its height, and
it was necessary for every gentleman to be skilled in all knightly
exercises. An accomplished knight must be endowed with beauty, with
strength and agility of body; he must be skilled in music, be able to
dance gracefully and run swiftly, to wrestle and sit well on horseback;
above all, he must be skilful in the management of arms, and must
thoroughly understand hunting and hawking. In these accomplishments were
young Edward and his companions trained, and we cannot doubt that he,
who was the very type of the chivalric spirit in its highest
development, early learnt to excel in all knightly exercises.

There exists a rhyming chronicle in French of the life of Edward the
Black Prince, by the Herald of Sir John Chandos, who was so constantly
with the Prince, that we may believe that his herald writes from
personal knowledge of the Prince's character. He says:

    "This frank Prince of whom I tell you,
    Thought not but of loyalty,
    Of free courage and gentleness;
    And endowed was he with such prowess
    That he wished all the days of his life
    To give up all his study
    To the holding of justice and integrity.
    And in that was he nurtured
    From the time of his infancy.
    Of his own noble and free will
    He learned liberality;
    For goodness and nobleness
    Were in his heart perfectly,
    From the first commencement
    Of his life and youth;
    And he was, it is well known,
    So preux (chivalrous), so hardy, and so valiant,
    So courteous and so wise,
    He loved so well holy church,
    With all his heart, in every form,
    The most holy Trinity,
    The festival and holiday."

There is a tradition that Prince Edward studied at Queen's College,
Oxford, and this may perhaps have been the case, as Queen's College was
founded by his mother, Queen Philippa; but the story rests on no
authentic evidence.

During his early youth various honours and dignities were bestowed upon
him. He was made Duke of Cornwall at the Parliament held at Westminster
in 1337. This is the first time that the title duke appears in English
history. In 1338, when Edward III. was about to leave England to begin
his war with France, he appointed his son Prince Edward to be guardian
of the kingdom during his absence. As the Prince was then but eight
years old, this was naturally only a nominal office. It was not till
1343 that he was created by Parliament Prince of Wales.


[1] The following table illustrates Edward III.'s claim to the French

                      Philip III. the Bold. 1270-1285.
          |                                                |
 Philip IV. the Fair.                               Charles of Valois.
          |                                                |
      +---+--------+------------+-----------+     Philip VI. of Valois.
      |            |            |           |
   Louis X.    Philip V.   Charles IV.  Isabella=Edward II. of England.
   1314-1316.  the Long.   1323-1328.           |
       |       1316-1323.                       |
       |                                        |
       +-----------------------+            Edward III.
                      Jeanne Queen of Navarre.


Beginning of the French War.

The years from 1336 to 1338 had been spent by Edward III. in
preparations for war. He had been endeavouring to gain allies amongst
the princes on the Continent, his idea being to unite against France the
rulers of the small principalities that lay to its north, such as
Brabant, Gueldres, Hainault, and Namur. He also succeeded in gaining the
alliance of the Emperor Louis of Bavaria. But his most important ally
was Jacques van Arteveldt, the man who then ruled Flanders with the
title of Ruwaert.

The condition of Flanders at that time was very strange. Since 877
Flanders had been ruled by a long succession of counts, who had done
homage to the Kings of France for their country. The peculiar
circumstances of the country, its mighty rivers, whose wide mouths
afforded safe harbours for the ships, combined with the industry of the
people, had early made Flanders important as a commercial and trading
country. During the absence of the counts on the crusades, the towns had
won for themselves many important privileges, and were really free
communes, owning little more than a nominal allegiance to their duke.
The kings of France eyed this wealthy and thriving province with great
jealousy, and eagerly watched for an opportunity of asserting their
authority over it. But till 1322 the people and their counts had been
firmly united in resistance to France. Only with the accession of Count
Louis de Nevers did the aspect of affairs change. This count had been
brought up in France, and was imbued with French interests. He objected
to the power and independence of the Flemish towns, and sought to
oppress them in every way. He governed by French ministers, and called
in French help against his own subjects. Then, when the people were
oppressed, their industries ruined, their commerce at a standstill by
the tyranny of their count, they found a leader in Jacques van
Arteveldt, who showed them the way to liberty and prosperity. Against
the firm union formed by the towns the Count of Flanders was powerless,
and fled to the Court of France.

Under Arteveldt's care commerce and manufactures flourished, peace and
prosperity reigned in the land, whilst there was no question of actual
revolt from the authority of the count. Arteveldt only wished to show
that the liberties of the people must be respected. Flanders was the
great commercial centre of the Middle Ages, where merchants from far
distant countries met and exchanged their goods. Arteveldt conceived
the great idea, in which he was far beyond the intelligence of his
time, of establishing free trade and neutrality as far as commerce was
concerned. He was an important ally for Edward III. for many reasons. It
was necessary for the interests of both peoples that Flanders and
England should be friends; for in Flanders England found a sale for her
wool, then the great source of her national wealth. From England alone
could Flanders obtain this precious wool, which she manufactured into
the famous Flemish cloth, and sent to all parts of the world. Edward
III. recognised the wisdom and greatness of Arteveldt, and concluded a
strong alliance with him for the benefit of both parties. On all
occasions the English King treated the simple burgher of Ghent as an
equal and a friend. It is not impossible that he gained in his
intercourse with Arteveldt that feeling of the importance of commerce
and industry which exercised so great an influence upon his legislation,
and gained for him the title of the Father of English Commerce.

It was on the 16th July, 1338, that Edward III. sailed for Flanders. His
first object was to meet his allies, the various princes of the
Netherlands. He did not find them very eager for active co-operation in
his undertaking. He determined to visit the Emperor in person, so as to
prevail upon him to take an active part in the war. With this view he
travelled up the Rhine, stopping first at Cöln, then a thriving
commercial city, enjoying active intercourse with England. Here Edward
stayed some days in the house of a wealthy burgher; the time passed in
merriment and festivities, the King receiving visits from all the chief
citizens. He visited most of the churches, and made offerings at the
various altars; to the building fund of the great Cathedral he gave £67,
a sum equal to £1,000 of our money. From Cöln he proceeded up the Rhine,
his whole way being marked by continual festivities. At Bonn he stopped
with one of the canons of the Cathedral, at Andemach with the
Franciscans, and finally, on the 31st August, he reached Coblentz, where
the German Diet was assembled. The Emperor received him in state in the
market-place, seated on a throne twelve feet high, and by his side,
though a little lower, was a seat for Edward. Around them stood a
brilliant assembly; four of the electors were there, and wore the
insignia of their rank. One of the nobles, as representative of the Duke
of Brabant, held a naked sword high over the Emperor's head; 17,000
knights and gentlemen are said to have been present. In the presence of
this imposing gathering Edward III. was created Vicar of the Empire for
the west bank of the Rhine. In spite of this journey he obtained nothing
from the Emperor but this empty title. On his return to Flanders he was
so short of money that he had to pawn the crown jewels to the Bardi, the
great Florentine merchants at Bruges. The allies were slow in bringing
their forces into the field. Van Arteveldt refused to give Edward any
active help, because of the oaths of fealty by which the Flemings were
bound to Philip of Valois. At last Edward succeeded in collecting an
army of 15,000 men, and met the French before Cambrai. The two armies
parted without a battle, and Edward returned to Hainault. This fruitless
campaign had exhausted his resources without gaining any result. He grew
more anxious than ever for the help of Flanders, and made new proposals
to the towns with magnificent offers. Arteveldt at last consented to
help him, if he would assume the title of King of France; then the
fealty which the towns owed to their suzerain could be transferred from
Philip of Valois to Edward.

This, then, was the real cause of Edward's assuming the arms and title
of the King of France; he did it only that he might gain the active help
of the Flemings. As their suzerain he confirmed all the privileges of
the towns, and granted them three great charters of liberties. These
charters bear the impress of Arteveldt's mind, and are an expression of
his commercial views. They proclaim liberty of commerce, the abolition
of tailage (that is, of taxes upon merchandise), and a common currency.
They guarantee also the security of merchandise, as well as of the
persons of the merchants. The wool staple was fixed at Bruges; that is,
Bruges was to be the place where alone wool might be imported, and be
sold to the Flemish merchants. Edward returned to England to obtain the
confirmation of these treaties by Parliament, as Arteveldt would not be
content unless the Commons of England gave their consent to them. During
his absence Queen Philippa remained at Ghent, and there gave birth to
her third son John, who, from the city of his birth, was ever afterwards
called John of Gaunt. Queen Philippa also acted as godmother to
Arteveldt's son, who was called Philip after her, and afterwards became
famous, like his father, for defending the liberties of his country,
though he did not show his father's wisdom and moderation.

Edward III. obtained from the Parliament at Westminster the confirmation
of his treaty with the Flemish towns, and also a new grant of supplies.
This grant was for the most part in kind. The King was to have the ninth
lamb, the ninth fleece, and the ninth sheaf; that is, in reality, a
tenth part of the chief produce of the kingdom; for the tithe had first
to be paid to the church, and so the ninth part of the remainder
equalled the tithe. He was also allowed to levy a tax on the exportation
of wool for two years. It shows the great popularity of the war that so
large a grant was agreed upon. We also see the increasing power of
Parliament, from the fact that Edward III. did not venture to impose any
tax without its consent.

But in spite of all these grants Edward was still considerably in debt.
He owed £9,000 to the merchants of Bruges and £18,100 to the
association of German merchants in London, called the Hanseatic
Steelyard, which had existed certainly since the time of Henry III., and
had always been specially favoured by the English monarchs. But the
merchants were always willing to lend him money, in return for the
facilities which he gave to commerce. He was still obliged to pawn the
crown jewels--his own crown was pawned to the city of Trier, and Queen
Philippa's to Cöln. Orders had to be given for the alteration of the
royal seal; the lilies of France had to be incorporated with the leopard
of England.

Meanwhile the French had gathered a large fleet, composed principally of
Genoese ships, and were threatening the Flemish coast. There was danger
of their cutting off intercourse between Antwerp and England. It was
necessary for Edward to set off without delay. He hastily collected a
fleet of some 200 sail, and started from Orewell, a port in Suffolk, on
22nd June, 1340. When the English fleet neared Sluys they saw standing
before them, as Froissart tells us, "so many masts that they looked like
a wood." This was the French fleet waiting to dispute the passage of the
English. When Edward heard who they were, he exclaimed, "I have for a
long time wished to meet with them; and now, please God and St. George,
we will fight with them; for in truth they have done me so much mischief
that I will be revenged on them if possible." The English fleet was
arranged in order of battle. The strongest ships were put in the
middle; between every two ships manned with archers was a ship of armed
knights; the wings were mostly composed of archers. Great care was taken
for the safety of a large number of noble ladies who were going to
attend the Queen at Ghent, picked men being chosen to guard them.

The French force was greatly superior to the English, as they possessed
nineteen ships of very large size, most of which had been captured from
the English the year before, when the French had attacked the English
ports. The French formed themselves into four long lines; their ships
were firmly fastened together with chains and ropes. The French admiral,
considering his position impregnable, determined to remain on the
defensive, and refused to listen to the advice of the Genoese commander
Barbavara, and advance to the attack. The French were soon enveloped in
a shower of English arrows; grappling irons fastened the English ships
to the French, and the fight became fierce. The great English ship, the
_Christofer_, was recaptured from the French, and the English flag again
hoisted upon her. The French were hemmed in on all sides. In their rear
they were threatened by the inhabitants of the coast, so that escape
seemed impossible. Only at nightfall did the Genoese and some few French
ships succeed in getting away in the darkness. The loss of the French
was enormous, whilst the English suffered comparatively little, and
captured a vast amount of booty and a large number of prisoners.

Great were the rejoicings for this victory. The news of it passed
rapidly from mouth to mouth. The French pirates were destroyed, and once
more the merchant could carry his goods across the seas without danger.
In all the English churches thanksgivings were offered for the victory
by royal command. Edward III. had himself been slightly wounded in the
battle, but still his first act on landing was to go with his knights on
a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Ardembourg to give thanks. He then proceeded
to Ghent, where he found his Queen with her new-born baby.

Edward III. hoped to be able to follow up this naval victory by striking
a decisive blow on land. The deputies of the Flemish towns and his other
allies met him at Ghent, and the Flemings agreed to aid him, if he would
help them to get back Artois, which had formerly belonged to Flanders,
but had been treacherously taken from them by Philip IV., King of
France. In five days the towns had levied 140,000 foot soldiers, who all
agreed to fight without pay in this war. Thus reinforced, Edward marched
to Tournai, which he completely invested. Philip advanced from Arras to
relieve the town. Discontent had already broken out in the confederate
army. The Flemings were not professional soldiers, but were the burgers
and handicraftsmen of the towns who had turned out to defend their own
hearths and homes, marching under the banners of their different gilds.
They were soon eager to get back to their shops and their looms.
Philip's sister, Jeanne of Valois, a nun at Fontenelle hard by, appeared
between the two armies as peacemaker, and a truce was agreed upon.
Jacques van Arteveldt succeeded in obtaining most advantageous terms for
the Flemings. With the habitual selfishness of a commercial and
industrial people, having brought matters to a satisfactory conclusion
for themselves, they thought no more of Edward's interests. He, too, had
to agree to a truce for nine months, and to retire a second time without
striking a decisive blow. He had expended vast sums of money in these
two campaigns, and had gained nothing. He had only learnt one lesson,
and that a very important one--that it was no use depending upon allies,
and that henceforth he must trust to himself alone.

The truce between France and England had been concluded at first for
only nine months, till 25th September, 1341, but it was afterwards
prolonged till 1342. Edward soon found a new opening for attacking
France, in the contest that was going on about the succession of the
Duchy of Britany. Edward III. determined to give his aid to De Montfort,
whilst the other claimant, Charles of Blois, was supported by his uncle
Philip. Here also, after awhile, a truce was agreed upon, which was to
last till Michaelmas, 1346. A truce had also been made with Scotland,
and David Bruce had returned to his kingdom.

Thus there was an interval of comparative peace; but each side was only
waiting for an auspicious moment to begin the war again, and the French
did not cease their aggressions upon Guienne. In spite of the large sums
it cost, the English people were by no means weary of the war. The
Parliament that sat in 1344 began by giving its opinion in favour of
peace, if fair terms could be procured; but proceeded to grant the King
supplies to enable him to continue the war. They begged him to finish it
in a short time, either by battle or treaty. The nobles agreed to cross
the sea and fight with him, and the clergy granted him the tenth of
their benefices for three years. The King's cousin, the Earl of Derby, a
brave and accomplished knight, was sent with an army into Guienne to
recover the country which had been won by the French.

We must try to understand clearly what were at this time the possessions
of the English in France. Under Henry II., the territory which the
English King ruled over in France was greater in extent than England
itself. Part of this, such as Normandy, belonged to the English Kings,
by virtue of their descent from William the Conqueror. Anjou and
Tourraine had come to Henry II. through his father, Geoffrey of Anjou;
the great Duchy of Aquitaine, consisting of seven provinces, he obtained
as the marriage portion of his wife, Eleanor of Guienne. Thus he ruled
over the western part of France, from the Channel to the Pyrenees, and
held the mouths of the great rivers Seine, Loire, and Garonne. These
vast dominions really made the Angevin Kings, so called from their
descent from Geoffrey of Anjou, foreign rather than English rulers. It
was not therefore altogether to the disadvantage of England when
Normandy and the other possessions in Northern France were taken from
the feeble John by the King of France. The Duchy of Aquitaine still
remained in the possession of the English. Once it was wrested from them
in 1294 by Philip IV., King of France, but he soon had to restore it.

It is easy to imagine how anxious the French kings must have been to
gain possession of this great Duchy. A succession of able, unscrupulous
kings, had been trying by every means to extend and consolidate their
dominions. The kings of France had not at first been as powerful as many
of their great barons, who ruled as hereditary and independent princes
in their separate provinces, paying the king only a nominal homage. To
reduce these barons to submission was the task laid upon the French
kings for many generations. Little by little they got hold of the lands
of their vassals and neighbours. Rivalry between France and England
began from the first moment that the Dukes of Normandy became kings of
England. It was increased when the Duchy of Aquitaine was added to the
English dominions. Philip Augustus had won Normandy from John; it
remained for his successors to win Aquitaine.

The Duchy of Aquitaine included Poitou, Limousin, Guienne, and Gascony.
It extended towards the north almost as far as the mouth of the Loire,
and towards the south to the foot of the Pyrenees. It embraced the
fertile bed of the Garonne, at the mouth of which lay the great city of
Bordeaux, whence the wine grown in the Duchy was imported into England.
Bayonne was another important port lying to the south of Bordeaux. It
was here that the Earl of Derby landed when he was sent by Edward III.
to recover the places which Philip had succeeded in winning in Guienne.
His campaign was marked with brilliant success, and he soon won back all
that had been lost.

Edward III. meanwhile determined to make another journey to Flanders, to
strengthen his alliance with the Flemings. This time he took with him
his son Prince Edward, who had now completed his education, and was to
begin, at what seems to us the early age of fifteen, to take part in the
active business of life. Van Arteveldt met his royal guests at Escluse,
and the deputies of the towns also came to discuss the state of affairs.
Froissart tells us that there was a proposal made by Arteveldt to set
aside Louis Count of Flanders and make the Prince of Wales Count in his
stead. But this statement is not supported by other evidence, and does
not seem to be in accordance with the views of Arteveldt, who never
showed any desire to put aside the rightful count. Having assured
himself of the friendship of Flanders, Edward returned to England with
his son. Only a few days after his departure his faithful friend Van
Arteveldt was murdered at Ghent, in a disturbance caused by a furious
faction of the populace. This murder was the act of a small party, not
of the country. The government and administration of affairs remained as
before throughout Flanders. The towns sent deputies to England to
express to Edward III. their freedom from complicity in this murder, and
their desire to maintain the English alliance. The close commercial
relations between the two countries, which had been established by the
wisdom of Van Arteveldt, went on as before, and the English wool was
still carried to the staple at Bruges to be sold.



During the years between the campaign in Flanders, which was ended by a
truce on September 25th, 1340, and the campaign of Cressy, in 1346,
Edward had been principally occupied in preparations for renewing the
war. Peace negotiations had been carried on before Pope Clement VI. by
commissioners appointed by the two kings; but as neither party wished
for peace, it could not be expected that these would lead to any result.

The Parliament that sat at Westminster in 1343 had, as we have seen,
relieved Edward III. from his pressing want of money by granting him new
supplies, and he had been able to redeem his great crown from pawn. But
he had borrowed so largely from the great Florentine merchants, the
Bardi, that his failure to pay his debt of 900,000 golden florins at the
right time brought about their bankruptcy; and as they were the largest
bankers in Florence, the whole city suffered greatly through their

Once supplied with money, Edward had to turn his attention to raising
levies for the war. The royal armies had long ceased to consist merely
of the feudal militia, as this could not be used for any long campaign.
According to feudal customs, the levies were only obliged to serve for
forty days. Hence, though they could be used for a sudden attack upon a
neighbouring prince, they were of little use to a king who wished to
carry an army across the seas to invade a foreign country. The custom of
commutation therefore had grown up; that is, of receiving money payments
instead of personal service. With this money the King could then hire
soldiers to fight for him as long as he chose to keep them. These hired
soldiers were raised in the following way: the government appointed a
contractor for every district, who agreed to furnish from that district
a given number of men for a fixed pay. Sometimes the men enlisted
voluntarily; but so many complaints were made by the Commons during
Edward's reign of forced levies, that it seems as if compulsion was
often used to obtain enlistments.

To raise soldiers for the campaign on which he was about to engage,
Edward III. ordered the sheriffs throughout the country to summon every
man-at-arms in the kingdom to attend personally, or else send a
substitute. All landholders were to furnish men-at-arms, hobblers, and
archers, in proportion to their incomes. All these men were paid for
their service, and the rate of pay was much higher then than it is now.
From this it appears that probably even the private soldier was taken
from the smaller gentry or the rich yeomanry. This helps to account for
the efficiency of Edward's army. It was through the valour of the common
soldiers rather than through the prowess of his knights that Edward won
his victories. On this occasion pardon was promised to criminals on
condition of their serving in the war. Edward Prince of Wales was to
collect 4,000 men from Wales, half lancers and half bow-men. All these
levies were to meet at Portsmouth on October 9th, ready to embark. Let
us try and get some idea of the nature of the troops collected at
Portsmouth to form the army which was to invade France.

First in rank and importance were the men-at-arms. These were the
knights with their esquires and followers. The esquires were the
attendants upon the knights, and were generally young men of rank,
serving their time till they should be raised to knighthood. The knights
with their esquires and followers were all equipped alike in plate
armour, and formed the heavy cavalry. Their chargers also were protected
by plates of steel, and their armour was made so impervious that no
weapon then known could pierce it. But its weight was so great that only
to carry it exhausted the strength of the knights and crippled their
power. Their arms were the lance, the sword, the battle-axe, or the
mace, and they bore a shield for defence. Each knight who brought his
esquires and followers into the field might bear his pennon, which was
a long narrow ensign. Some knights who were rich enough to have other
knights in their service carried square banners. We can imagine the
brilliant effect of a company of these knights in their burnished steel
armour, often beautifully chased and inlaid with other metals, with
their gay banners streaming in the wind. Many of them might be seen
bearing a falcon on their wrist, so that amidst the fatigues of war they
might occasionally refresh themselves with the chase. To them was
reserved the place of honour in the battle; theirs are the deeds of
prowess which the chroniclers delight to record. War was to them only a
vast tournament, in which they might display their valour and strive to
surpass their adversaries.

Next came the hobblers, the light cavalry, who were recruited from a
rank inferior to that of the knights. Their horses also were inferior,
and they were not so heavily armed.

But the real strength of the army lay in the third body of men, the
archers, who of course fought on foot. It was to their skill and courage
that Edward was to owe his victories. Shooting with the long-bow was a
thoroughly English recreation. On holidays it had long been the custom
for the yeomen to meet together to practise their skill by shooting at a
mark. The kings did their utmost to encourage this pastime. In the
thirteenth century every person possessing a revenue of above one
hundred pence in land was obliged to have a bow and arrows in his
possession. Edward III. feared at one time that the skill of the English
archers was declining. He sent a letter to the sheriffs of London, in
which he said, that "the skill in shooting arrows was almost totally
laid aside for the pursuit of various useless and unlawful games, such
as quoits, cock-fighting, football," &c. He commanded the sheriffs,
therefore, to see that the leisure time on holidays was spent in
recreations with bows and arrows; so highly did Edward value the
archer's skill. Of course, as there was no standing army, there could be
no body of regularly-trained archers. The archers, like the other
soldiers, were recruited from the people; and if the mass of the people
were not practised in archery, there could be no hope of obtaining
skilful archers. The bows used by them were six feet long, their arrows
three feet. In shooting they drew their arrows to the ear, and could
send them with good aim a distance of 240 yards. They carried their bows
in canvas cases, so that they might not be wetted by the rain, or
cracked by the sun. Edward III. had a body-guard of archers, 120 in
number, chosen from the stoutest and most skilful men in the country.

The fourth body of men consisted of the remaining foot soldiers, who
were mostly armed with lances. Besides these a large number of labourers
of various kinds had to be engaged to follow the army. These men were
pressed by the sheriffs, and in most cases were obliged to go against
their will; for it could hardly be to their profit to leave their homes
and their business to meet all the dangers of a distant expedition.
There were the blacksmiths to repair the armour and shoe the horses; the
masons to build the bridges; the rope-makers, carpenters, wood-cutters,
miners, and many others.

All these men began to gather together at Portsmouth in the beginning of
October. The great lords came ready to serve without pay in this war.
They were a noble assembly of seven earls, thirty-five barons, and many
other gentlemen--all the flower of the English nobility. Thither came
the King with all his personal followers. He brought with him thirty
falconers on horseback, so that in the intervals of war he might indulge
in his favourite pursuit of hawking for water-fowls along the courses of
the streams. Besides his falcons, he took with him sixty couples of
staghounds, and as many harehounds, that he might hunt when wearied of
hawking. Many of the great lords also had their hounds and their
falconers with them. Almost every day during the campaign Edward III.
and his lords are said to have found time for hunting or hawking.

We can imagine with what feelings Edward, the young Prince of Wales,
prepared to start on this his first enterprise. He had been brought up
amidst the ideas of chivalry, and regarded war and adventure as the only
true vocation of a gentleman. Now at last he was to be allowed to go
out into the world himself, and fight the enemy and win his spurs. His
father was as enthusiastic as himself. He was then in the flower of his
manhood, just thirty-four years old, while the prince was sixteen. They
were more like two brothers than father and son.

The destination of the expedition was kept secret. The King's first
intention is supposed to have been to sail to Guienne, to aid the Earl
of Derby in opposing the French army which had been sent against him.
But on board Edward's ship there was a Norman gentleman, Sir Godfrey de
Harcourt, who represented to him that Normandy was the richest and most
fertile province in France; that it was quite undefended, and that the
English would be able to land there without resistance, gain great
booty, and subdue many towns before the French army could return from
Gascony to oppose them. Edward yielded to his persuasions; and this
change of destination shows us that he undertook this expedition without
any decided plan. His success was not so much owing to a skilfully
arranged campaign as to the personal valour of his troops, and to his
own genius as a commander.

The English army landed at La Hogue on the 10th of July, 1346. It is
supposed to have numbered 32,000 men. Edward's first act on landing was
to confer knighthood on his son. He found, as Sir Godfrey de Harcourt
had said, that his coming was quite unexpected. There was no French
army to resist him, and he marched into Normandy without opposition. He
divided his troops into three battalions; so arranged they went through
the country, pillaging and even burning many of the towns and villages
on their way. The fleet meanwhile burnt such ships as it found in the
harbours. The rules of chivalry were not concerned with the treatment
which a peasant or burgher might receive from the hands of a knight. A
knight was bound to treat his equal with courtesy, but his refinement
was only onesided; to the low-born he acknowledged no duties. The
chivalrous army of Edward III. spread devastation on every side of the
rich and fertile province of Normandy.

At Caen they found a garrison which attempted in vain to defend the
town. It was one of the richest towns in Europe, full, as Froissart
tells us, "of draperies and all sorts of merchandise, of rich citizens,
noble dames and damsels, and fine churches." All its wealth fell into
the hands of the English. They stayed in the city for three days, and
the plunder they collected was sent down the river in barges to the
fleet. The ships were laden with cloths, jewels, gold and silver plate,
and merchandise of all kinds. Edward sent orders for all this wealth to
be convoyed to England, together with a number of prisoners.

The resistance of Caen had been in vain, and the other cities opened
their gates at once to the English. At Louviers, a rich mercantile city,
they again won great wealth. Meanwhile Philip had heard of Edward's
landing in Normandy, and was hastening to meet him. Edward's intention
was to cross the Seine at Rouen, and advance northwards to meet his
Flemish allies, who had crossed the frontier. But at Rouen he found the
bridge broken down by the French, who, having as yet collected no
regular army wherewith to confront him, wished at least to prevent him
from crossing the river. Edward continued his march up the left bank of
the Seine, hoping to find some place where he could cross; but all the
bridges were broken down. His situation was becoming critical; retreat
was impossible, as he had devastated all the country through which he
had passed, and he had no supplies to fall back upon. His one desire was
to draw Philip into battle. Philip, on the other hand, wished to gain
time; for time reduced the power of Edward, but brought new levies daily
to Philip. So Edward continued his course of devastation to Poissy,
almost under the walls of Paris. The French peasants, driven from their
burning homes, and seeing all their goods carried off by the English
soldiers, cried out in despair, "Where is Philip our king?"

It was August when Edward reached Poissy. Philip was encamped with a
large army at St. Denis; but Edward failed to draw him out to battle,
and did not venture to attack him. The English found the beams of the
bridge at Poissy still floating in the river, and Edward determined to
wait here whilst his workmen repaired the bridge. He stayed five days in
the nunnery at Poissy, where he celebrated the feast of the Assumption
of the Virgin Mary, and sat at table in his scarlet robes, trimmed with
fur and ermine. When the bridge was rebuilt, the English army crossed
the river on the 16th August, dispersing the French on the opposite side
with showers of arrows, and marched towards the Somme. They passed the
city of Beauvais, but Edward did not venture to stop and besiege it. His
army was beginning to diminish. The men suffered from the heat and the
rapid marches. They subsisted only on plunder, as they had no supplies
with them. Their boots even were beginning to wear out, and there was no
means of replacing them. Philip was in their rear with a force greatly
superior in numbers. Edward contented himself with burning the suburbs
of Beauvais, and passed on towards the Somme.

At Airaines he stopped three days, whilst the Earl of Warwick and Sir
Godfrey de Harcourt looked for a place where they might pass the river;
but they found all the bridges strongly defended by French troops, and
returned in despair to Edward. Philip was now close at hand at Amiens,
and the English, hemmed in between the great French army and the river,
were thus without way of escape. It was necessary at least to leave
Airaines. Edward was thoughtful and silent. He ordered mass to be said
before sunrise, and the trumpets sounded for marching. At ten the
English left Airaines, and at noon the French entered the town. They
found it full of provisions left by the English; the meat was still on
the spits, there was bread in the ovens, wine in barrels, and even
tables laid ready for dinner. Here the French took up their quarters.
The English meanwhile had taken the little town of Oisemont, and
established themselves there for the night. Edward caused some prisoners
who had been captured on the march to be brought before him, and
promised that if any one of them would show him a ford in the river, by
which the English army might pass over, he and twenty of his companions
should have their liberty.

A peasant, Gobin Agace by name, stood forth, and said he knew of a ford
where, when the tide was low, the army might cross in safety; for then
the water was only knee-deep, and the bottom was made of gravel and
white stones, so that the carriages might pass over without danger. This
ford was called Blanquetaque, and was defended by Sir Godemar du Fay
with 4,000 men. On the morning of the 24th August, the English waited
eagerly for the tide to go out. On the opposite side, the forces of Sir
Godemar du Fay were drawn up to defend the ford. Edward gave the word of
command in the name of God and St. George, and the English knights
plunged into the stream. The French met them in the water, and
desperate deeds of valour were done by the knights on either side as
they struggled in the river. Meanwhile, the archers on the banks did
much havoc with their persistent showers of arrows. At last the French
broke and fled. The English army crossed in safety; but the last of
their troops had hardly reached the opposite bank when the light
cavalry, who formed the advance guard of the French army, arrived, and
succeeded in capturing some loiterers. When Philip himself reached the
river the tide had risen, and the ford was impassable. He had to retire
to Abbeville, and cross by the bridge there.

The English army marched on into Ponthieu, and took up their position on
the hills near the little village of Cressy. Here Edward determined to
halt, and await in an advantageous position the coming of the French. He
determined to hazard all on the result of one engagement, though his
forces were greatly inferior to the French. Even then, Philip was
awaiting at Abbeville the arrival of new troops. But this delay was
really advantageous to Edward, as it gave him time to recruit his weary
troops, and to make preparations for battle. He had chosen his position
with consummate skill. The army was encamped on the rising ground on the
right bank of the little river Maye, in front of the town of Cressy. The
left wing was protected by the river; in front of it palisades had been
erected, and the baggage had been piled together to cover the troops.
The right wing was protected by a little wood. The front of the army
commanded a ravine on a gentle slope, called la Vallée des Clercs. This
arrangement prevented the French from using their cavalry with success,
except against the right wing of the English army.

On the evening of Friday, the 25th August, the soldiers were busy
furbishing and mending their armour, so as to be quite ready for the
battle. The king gave a great supper to all the earls and barons of the
army. They feasted with great cheer, not discouraged by the thought that
on the morrow they would have to fight against terrible odds. When his
guests had left him, the King retired to his oratory, and kneeling down,
prayed to God "that if he should combat his enemies on the morrow, he
might come off with honour." It was midnight before he lay down to

Early the next morning the King and his son heard mass and communicated;
the greater part of the army confessed, and did the same. Then the King
ordered the men to arm and assemble. He divided his army into three
battalions. The first battalion was under the command of the Prince of
Wales, who was aided by the Earls of Warwick and Northampton. Stationed
in its front was a large body of archers, arranged in the form of a
harrow. Behind it, a little to its flank, stood the second battalion,
commanded by the Earl of Arundel. The King commanded the third
battalion, which formed the reserve, and was stationed on the summit of
the hill behind.

[Illustration: Plan of the BATTLE of CRESSY 26^{th} August 1346.]

When all was arranged, the King mounted a white palfrey, and carrying a
white wand in his hand, surrounded by his marshals, rode through the
ranks, encouraging the men, and bidding them guard his honour and defend
his right. "He spoke to them so sweetly, and with such cheerful
countenance," says Froissart, "that all who had been dispirited were
directly comforted by seeing and hearing him." He bade them eat and
drink, that they might be strong and vigorous in fighting. There was no
hurry or anxiety. When they had eaten, they packed up their pots and
barrels in the carts, and put everything in order. Then each man going
to his post seated himself on the ground, with his helmet and bow before
him, that he might be fresh when the enemy arrived. All the knights had
dismounted, intending to fight on foot.

The French had left Abbeville at sunrise. The army, made unwieldy by its
size, was weary and disorganised by the long march. The lords who had
been sent forward to reconnoitre, came back and advised the French king
to let his men rest that night, and not engage battle till the morrow.
But the French knights, in proud confidence of their own superiority,
were impatient to fight. They pressed forward in a disorderly mass, and
when King Philip caught sight of the English his blood began to boil,
and he ordered the Genoese archers to form. Just then a fearful
thunderstorm swept over the country; the rain fell in torrents; and
large flights of crows, startled by the storm, hovered over the French
army, and seemed birds of ill-omen in the eyes of the soldiers. After
the storm the sun shone out brightly, and shining in the eyes of the
French, dazzled them by its brilliancy; but the English had it at their
backs. The rain also had wetted the strings of the Genoese cross-bow
men, and by slackening them made it difficult to shoot; but the English
kept their long bows in canvas cases, and so they were not harmed by the

The English soldiers were seated on the ground awaiting the approach of
the enemy. When the French came in view, the trumpets sounded the note
of alarm, and the men sprang to their feet and seized their arms.
Evening was drawing on when the two armies met face to face; for it was
not till five o'clock that the French army drew near to Cressy. When the
Genoese had formed, they advanced with a loud shout, hoping to frighten
the English, who stood still and neither moved nor shouted. Then the
Genoese set up a second cry, and again a third; but still the same
immovable silence on the part of the English was maintained. Only when
they presented their cross-bows, and began to shoot, did the English
answer; then their answer was a shower of arrows, poured with such force
and quickness that it seemed as if it snowed. The Genoese threw down
their arms in terror, and tried to seek safety in flight. The Duke of
Alençon, who was commanding the French battalion in the rear, enraged at
seeing them fly, shouted to his men, "Kill me these scoundrels, for they
stop up our road without any reason." The French men-at-arms pressed on
through the flying Genoese, killing all who came in their way. But the
shower of English arrows never ceased. With sure and steady aim the
archers penetrated into the French ranks. Together with Alençon
advanced the blind King of Bohemia, who rode between two knights, to
whose bridles he had caused his horse to be fastened, that they might
lead him into the thickest of the fray.

And now the time was come for the English knights to meet the French.
Prince Edward, followed by his knights, sprang forward from behind the
ranks of his archers, and rushed upon Alençon and his followers. Then
ensued a terrible mêlée. Knight struggled with knight in hand to hand
combat. The Prince's Welsh foot-soldiers made great havoc amongst the
French with their short knives. Over all fell a ceaseless shower of
arrows from the unshaken ranks of the English archers. The second
battalion of the English army came to the aid of the first. The numbers
of the French seemed so overwhelming, that a knight was sent in great
haste to the King of England, who was still posted with his reserve near
the windmill on the hill. He begged the King to come to the Prince's
assistance. "Is my son dead," asked the King, "unhorsed, or so badly
wounded that he cannot support himself?" "Nay, thank God," answered the
knight, "but he is in so hot an engagement that he has great need of
your help." The King only said, "Let the boy win his spurs; for I am
determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honour of this day
shall be given to him, and to those into whose care I have entrusted

Truly the young Prince won his spurs. He and his knights fought with
such desperate valour that soon the French began to break in disorder,
though not before many of their bravest knights had been slain on the
field. It is said that 1,600 barons, 4,000 esquires, and 20,000 common
soldiers fell on the French side; whilst the English loss was
inconsiderable. It was a ghastly scene upon which the moon shone down
that night. On all sides the French were flying. Some knights and
squires still wandered over the field amongst the dead and dying,
seeking their masters whom they had lost. They attacked the English in
small parties, but were soon destroyed; for no quarter was given that
day. Late in the evening Sir John Hainault led King Philip from the
field by force. The King fled through the night to Amiens, and then on
to Paris.

The English were left victors on the field. King Edward came down from
his post, and hastened to his son. Kissing him with enthusiasm, he said,
"My fair son, God Almighty give you grace to persevere as you have
begun." A deep mist rose, and the battle-field was enveloped in the
blackest darkness. The English only knew that their enemies had fled by
the silence which had succeeded the hooting and shouting of the French.
Pursuit was impossible in the darkness. They kindled great fires and lit
torches, which shed a weird light on the battle-field. The battle had
lasted from five o'clock on Saturday evening till two o'clock on Sunday
morning. The night passed quietly; for all rioting had been forbidden.
When morning dawned, Edward gave orders that the mass of the Holy Ghost
should be solemnly sung by the soldiers in thanksgiving for this great
victory. The thick mist still continued. Two bodies of French soldiers,
who came upon the field ignorant of the battle, and hoping to join the
French army, were entirely routed by the English, and many of them were

Edward III. remained two days upon the field of battle, to superintend
the numbering and burial of the dead. He granted a truce for three days,
that the peasantry might come and aid in the task. "What think you of a
battle," said Edward to his son, as they wandered over the field, "is it
a pleasant game?" Orders were given to attend to the wounded, some of
whom were given shelter by the monks of a neighbouring abbey. The bodies
of the dead nobles were taken to be buried in the surrounding churches,
mostly in the church at Cressy. The body of the blind King of Bohemia
was sent away to Luxembourg, to be buried by his son. For the burial of
the common soldiers the peasants dug long, deep ditches, traces of which
may be seen to this day.

So was won the battle of Cressy, the first of England's great series of
victories upon the Continent. It showed the powerlessness of chivalry
before the strength of the people. The proudest knights of France had
fallen helpless before the English yeoman, with his bow and arrows. It
showed that the strength of a nation no longer lay in the brilliant
appearance or the boasted bravery of its knights, but in the
steadfastness and sturdy courage of its people. The death-knell of
chivalry was sounded. Its pomp and pageantry might still continue for
awhile, and meet with encouragement from Edward III.; but he was wise
enough to recognise the truth, and know that it was to his archers, and
not to his knights, that he owed this victory. Cressy was not only a
triumph of the English over the French; it was a triumph of the people
over the nobles.


The Siege of Calais.

After the battle of Cressy, the road to Calais lay open to Edward III.
It was of the utmost importance to him to gain possession of this town.
Its port was the home of the French pirates who so fatally damaged his
commerce. If he could but gain possession of it, they would be
destroyed, and he would gain a new and convenient harbour for his trade
with Flanders.

To take Calais by assault was hopeless on account of its strong
fortifications. Edward determined to besiege it, and reduce the town by
starvation. He caused to be built round its walls a whole town of wooden
houses, in which he lodged his army. This wooden town was laid out in
streets, and the houses were thatched with straw. There was even a
market-place, where markets were held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
English and Flemish merchants brought cloth, bread and meat, and
supplies of all kinds for the comfort of the army. Communications were
opened with England, and money was asked for and obtained from
Parliament. English ships blockaded the harbour, and were stationed all
along the coast so as to cut off all approach to the unfortunate city.
Reinforcements came over from England. Queen Philippa joined her husband
in the camp. The English waited patiently in confidence of success.

The English arms were successful on all sides. The French withdrew from
the Garonne, and left the English in undisputed possession of Guienne
and Poitou. But in England itself a great danger had arisen. The Scots
were always ready and eager to cross the border. Now that they knew that
the King of England was away in France with all his bravest soldiers,
they thought that there would be no one to resist them, and that they
would be able to march unopposed to the gates of London itself. A large
army under David Bruce crossed the border and proceeded as far as
Durham, burning and destroying everything in their way. But the
Archbishop of York and the Lords Henry Percy and Ralph Nevil had
gathered together all the men they could find, amongst whom were even
many clergymen, eager to fight in defence of their country. They came
upon the Scots unawares at Nevil's Cross, near Durham. The English
fought valiantly, wishing to emulate their victorious countrymen at
Cressy. Here again the English archers decided the day. The Scots were
completely routed. David Bruce, the great Earl Douglas, and many other
nobles, were taken prisoners, whilst still more lay lifeless on the
field. David Bruce was taken to London, which he entered solemnly,
riding upon a horse, amidst a great concourse of spectators, who
received him with silent respect. He was led to the Tower, where he was
destined to remain a long while.

In Britany also the English arms had been successful. Charles of Blois,
de Montfort's rival, had been taken prisoner, and was sent to the Tower.
The King of France was determined at least to save Calais. Messages were
sent to him by John of Vienne, the governor of Calais, saying that he
could not hold out much longer. Seventeen hundred of the useless
inhabitants of the town had already been turned out, and had been kindly
received by the English, who gave them food and suffered them to pass
on. The garrison had eaten all the dogs and cats in the town; starvation
was staring them in the face; they must surrender if help did not come.
Philip assembled an army at Whitsuntide, and marched to raise the siege
of the suffering city. But when he drew near he found that it was
impossible to approach the English army, which was securely entrenched.
He sent messengers to Edward asking him to come out and give him battle
in the open field. But, afraid to risk another battle after the defeat
of Cressy, he determined to leave the city to its fate, and broke up his
camp. The unfortunate garrison saw the army, which they had hoped would
save them, turn its back without striking a blow.

Further resistance was hopeless, and the famished garrison asked for
terms. Edward would grant none. He was enraged with the city on account
of its obstinacy, and hated its citizens because of the many deeds of
piracy by which they had injured his commerce. He sent Sir Walter Manny
to the governor, saying that he would grant mercy to the garrison and
the inhabitants, if six of the principal burghers gave themselves
unconditionally into his hands, with ropes round their necks, and the
keys of the town in their hands.

When the governor had heard the King's answer from Sir Walter Manny, he
went into the market-place, and caused the bell to be rung. When all the
inhabitants of the town had assembled, he told them what the King of
England had said. Then there was great weeping and lamentation, till up
rose the wealthiest citizen of the town, Eustace de St. Pierre, and
said, "It would be a very great pity to suffer so many people to die
through famine. I will be the first of the six." Then the citizens
seemed as though they would have worshipped him, falling at his feet
with tears and groans. It was not long before others were found willing
to die for their fellow-citizens. They were followed to the gates by
lamentations, and Sir Walter Manny led them to the king's pavilion.
There they fell upon their knees before Edward, and presenting him with
the keys, begged him to have mercy upon them. So pitiful was the sight
that the English barons and knights who stood around wept to behold it.
Edward only eyed them angrily; for he hated the citizens of Calais. Then
spoke Sir Walter Manny: "Ah, gentle King, restrain your anger; let not
the world have cause to speak ill of you for your cruelty." But Edward
refused to listen. Queen Philippa threw herself on her knees before him,
and said with tears, "Ah, gentle sir, since I have crossed the seas with
great danger to see you, I have never asked you one favour; now I most
humbly ask as a gift, for the sake of the Son of the blessed Mary, and
for your love to me, that you will be merciful to these men." The King,
after looking at her in silence for some time, said, "Ah, lady, I wish
you had been otherwhere; but I cannot refuse you; I give them to you to
do as you please." Then the Queen and all the knights were very joyful,
and Philippa took the noble citizens to her tent, and gave them new
clothing and feasted them, and giving them each six nobles of gold, sent
them out of the camp in safety.

It was on the 4th August that Calais fell into the hands of the English.
Edward caused all its inhabitants to leave it, except some few who made
their peace by swearing fealty to him. To re-people the town, he offered
great privileges to such English merchants as would settle there. Soon
it became again a bustling, busy, commercial city, and was of great
importance to the trade of England during the 211 years that it remained
in her possession.

Edward stayed some little while at Calais, during which time Prince
Edward led frequent foraging expeditions into France. Pope Clement VI.
had been unceasing in his attempts to make peace between the Kings of
France and England. Now once more his legates appeared upon the scene,
and at last succeeded in negotiating a truce, which was agreed upon on
the 28th September, and was to last till a fortnight after the next

On the 12th October, the King and his son landed at Sandwich. This time
he did not return without having done something decisive. Between the
10th July, 1346, and the 4th August, 1347, the great battles of Cressy
and Nevil's Cross had been won, and Calais had been taken. The Tower was
crowded with noble prisoners; the whole country was enriched by the
spoil won from the French. All this showed the power of the English
people, the ability of their King, and the bravery of his son. It was a
proud moment for England when her King and his son came home, crowned
with the laurels of victory. After this Edward stayed almost constantly
in England, and devoted himself to domestic legislation, as he had
entire confidence in the ability of his son to conduct foreign
campaigns. It is supposed that Prince Edward gained the name of the
Black Prince from the French, after the battle of Cressy, when he fought
in a black cuirass.

Some time after the siege of Calais Edward III. left England once
again, to indulge in an adventure which was more befitting a
knight-errant than a king. He heard that Geoffroy de Chargny, a French
knight, had been trying to bribe the Genoese commander whom he had left
in charge of Calais. Edward gave orders that the negotiations should be
continued, and arrangements made to admit a body of French soldiers,
under Geoffroy de Chargny, at the great gate of Calais leading to
Boulogne. He then crossed the seas with his son, Sir Walter Manny, and a
picked body of knights. The King and his son were to fight disguised
under the banner of Sir Walter Manny.

At the hour appointed the great gates were opened, and the French were
preparing to enter, when the English sprang from their ambuscade, and
with shouts of "Manny to the rescue," fell upon the French. Sir Geoffroy
saw that he had been betrayed; but turning to his men, he said,
"Gentlemen, if we fly we shall lose all; let us fight valiantly, in the
hope that the day may be ours." Then there were many stout passages of
arms between the English and the French. The King of England singled out
the bravest knight among the French, Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont, who had
no idea with whom he fought, and twice struck Edward down on his knees.
At last he was obliged to surrender himself to the King, and the honour
of the day belonged to the English. All the French were either slain or

Only after the fight did the French know that the King of England had
been there in person. It was the evening of the New Year, and Edward
determined to celebrate the night with a great feast, to which the
French prisoners were bidden. All were seated round the table with the
King, dressed in new robes. All, English and French alike, made good
cheer. Prince Edward and the English knights served up the first course,
and waited on their guests, then seated themselves quietly at another
table. After supper the tables were removed, and the King remained in
the hall talking with the knights. To Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont he said,
smiling, "Sir Eustace, you are the most valiant knight in Christendom
that I ever saw attack his enemy or defend himself. I never yet found
any one in battle who, hand to hand, gave me so much to do as you have
done this day. I adjudge to you, as your just due, the prize of valour
above all the knights of my court." The King then took off a chaplet of
pearls, very rich and handsome, which he wore round his head, and placed
it upon the head of Sir Eustace, bidding him wear it for love of him. He
also gave him his liberty, without ransom, allowing him to go on the
morrow wherever he would.



The victories in France had brought great wealth and prosperity into
England. The booty won from France was spread throughout the land, and
the matrons of England clothed themselves in the garments of the matrons
of France. The result was not altogether beneficial. This increased
wealth brought with it also a change in the simplicity of English
manners. Wearing the more extravagant dress of the French, sleeping on
their feather beds, clothing themselves in their rich furs, the people's
taste grew more extravagant. They acquired a love for fine clothes, for
foolish fashions and foppery of all kinds; and in this extravagance the
clergy rivalled the laity. There was also an increased love of pageantry
and dissipation, in which the people were encouraged by the King.
Tournaments were so frequent that Edward had to pass an enactment
forbidding them to be held without royal permission. Yet he himself
caused nineteen to be held between October, 1347, and May, 1348, many of
which lasted more than a fortnight. The life of the court, and of the
nobles, was nothing but a ceaseless round of gaieties and festivities.
It was at one of these tournaments that Edward III. established the
great Order of the Garter, which continues to this day, and may be
looked upon as a heritage left to us by the chivalric spirit of the
Middle Ages.

Chivalry was a thing of French creation, and throve naturally on French
soil. It is principally the French and Provençal troubadours who have
celebrated it by their song. In England it never developed so freely. It
seemed like a thing imported, foreign in its very nature to English
simplicity and English bluntness. Still throughout the Middle Ages the
chivalric spirit ruled supreme all over Europe, in England and France
alike. When chivalry ceased to be an enthusiasm it became a fashion, and
lingered on as a fashion till Cervantes heaped ridicule upon it in his
_Don Quixote_; till its absurdities became so manifest that it faded
away amid the scorn and laughter of mankind. Edward III. aimed at being
a type of fashionable knighthood. In his day chivalry had not yet become
an absurdity. It had lost much of its early simplicity and elevation,
but still in the Black Prince and some of his knights, such as Sir John
Chandos, Sir Walter Manny, and Sir James Audeley, we find all the
nobleness and greatness of early chivalry.

Let us look a little closer at this chivalry, and see what it meant and
what was the ideal which it held up to its followers. It had no
artificial origin, but sprang up as a natural outcome of feudalism, and
so of early Teutonic manners. A feudal vassal owed certain definite
duties to his superior. Knighthood was the formal act by which the
fitness of a young man to take upon him these duties was recognised, and
he was declared worthy to enter the rank of warriors.

It was to the Crusades that chivalry owed its religious character. By
taking part in the Crusades the knight could best find a field in which
he might give free play to all the noble sentiments which animated him.
And if the knight was to fight for Christ, it was right that religion
should take under her control the important act which initiated a young
man into the rank of knighthood. The education of a future knight began
at the age of seven. It was the custom for the sons of gentlemen to be
brought up in the castles of the nobles, where first they acted as
pages, attending upon the lords and ladies. Afterwards they were
advanced, at the age of fourteen, to the rank of squires, and waited
upon their lords both at home and abroad; they aided in their toilet,
carved before them at table, and riveted their armour as they attended
them to the tournament or the battle. Attention was paid to their
education in all things connected with the management of arms or of
horses; they were taught above all to be courteous to ladies, to be
respectful and obedient to their superiors. Thus bred up in the
atmosphere of chivalry, they were fit and eager, when manhood came, to
be raised to the dignity of knighthood. This was accompanied by many
solemn ceremonies. The squire who was to be knighted was first made to
lay aside his clothes, and enter a bath, the symbol of purification. On
coming out he was clothed with a white garment, the symbol of purity;
next, in a red robe, the symbol of the blood he was bound to shed in the
service of the faith; and lastly, in a close black coat, the symbol of
the death which awaited him. He then spent the next twenty-four hours in
fasting. At evening he entered the church or chapel, and passed the
night in prayers. In the morning he confessed and received absolution,
and then partook of the Communion. He was next present at the mass of
the Holy Ghost, and sometimes listened to a sermon on the duties of
knighthood. Then, advancing to the altar, with the sword of a knight
hanging from his neck, he knelt before the priest, who took the sword
and blessed it, and then returned it to him. After this he went and
knelt before the noble who was to arm him knight, who was called his
godfather. Before him he swore to maintain the right, to fight for the
faith, to serve his sovereign prince, to protect the weak and oppressed;
above all, to be the champion of women, to obey his superiors, to honour
his companions, to keep faith with all the world, to forswear all
treason and avarice, to acknowledge as his only aims glory and virtue.
When he had taken his oath, knights and ladies advanced to clothe him in
his new armour, the spurs, the coat of mail, the cuirass, and the
gauntlets, and to gird on his sword. Then his godfather struck him three
blows with the flat of his sword, saying, "In the name of God, of Saint
Michael, and of Saint George, I dub thee knight." The young knight then
seized his helmet, and sprang upon his horse, brandishing his lance, and
rode out to show himself to the crowd outside the church. There was
always great feasting and joy when the eldest son was knighted. His
father gathered round him all his vassals, who owed him a money
contribution on this joyful occasion. They feasted together in the great
hall of the castle. The lord himself was seated at the high table on the
dais at one end of the hall, but with his face turned towards the hall,
that all might see him. During the feast the guests were entertained
with the performances of jesters, tumblers, and jugglers, who formed
part of all the great households of that time; or they listened to the
romances of the troubadours.

So amidst general rejoicings the young man entered on his new career.
The ideal of perfect knighthood held before him was noble and exalted,
and we cannot doubt but that it fired him with enthusiasm, and inspired
him to do noble deeds. In an age of rough and rude manners, when the
majority of men were wanting in all refinement and culture, when men for
the most part were animated only by low and selfish aims, when the
light shed around by religion was as yet only feeble and fitful, it was
a great thing to have such an ideal as this held up before men. In the
Crusades the knight found his true field. By them the use of the sword
was sanctified, and the warrior could find joy in feats of arms whilst
fighting for Christ. And as the Crusades sanctified the warlike feats of
the knight, his worship of the Virgin sanctified that devotion to the
ladies which was so distinguishing a feature of chivalry. "God and the
ladies," was the motto of every true knight. He went both to tournament
and to battle with his lady's badge upon his arm, and thoughts of her
nerved him to deeds of valour. His honour was the dearest thing in a
knight's eyes, and from this sprung his scrupulous fidelity to his word
once pledged. As a lover, he must be faithful to the lady he served; as
a vassal, he must be faithful to his lord; a promise once given, even to
an enemy, must never be broken. During the French wars of Edward III. we
hear often of knights being released on their word, to raise the money
required for their ransom, and returning of their own accord to
captivity if they could not raise this money.

Courtesy was another distinguishing feature of chivalry. By this was
meant true courtesy, springing from the heart, and showing itself in
modesty, consideration for others, self-denial, as well as in matters of
outward gesture and punctilio. Courtesy was shown as much to foe as to
friend, and did much towards softening the ferocity of war. A true
knight must also be liberal; he must be inspired with an active sense of
justice, and a burning indignation of wrong. But whilst extending the
sympathy of a knight to all his companions in knighthood, whether friend
or foe, chivalry narrowed his sympathy to those of his own class.
Princes did their utmost to encourage chivalry, to provide tournaments
where their knights might exhibit their valour, and to cover them with
every possible distinction. But while caring for the knights they forgot
the people. The spirit of chivalry was a class spirit, and narrowing in
its tendency. It recognised neither the rights nor the interests of the
people; and when once the people had grown strong enough to assert their
rights, and make their importance felt, the doom of chivalry was sealed.
It continued to exist with all its pageantry long after its real life
and spirit was dead. Perhaps it was never so magnificent in its outward
show as it was during the reign of Edward III., when its decay had
already begun.

Never had there been so many and such splendid tournaments at the
English court as now after the battle of Cressy. It is uncertain at
which of these Edward founded the order of the Garter; but it is known
to have been in existence in 1348. Most probably it was founded at the
great tournament, held at Eltham in 1347. Ever since 1344, when Edward
had made a Round Table at Windsor in imitation of the traditionary
Round Table of King Arthur, he had been desirous of establishing a new
order of knighthood. This desire was ripened into fulfilment by the
prosperous condition of the country after the battle of Cressy. A
trivial incident decided the motto and badge which he should adopt for
the new order. One of the ladies of the court, by some supposed to be
Queen Philippa herself, by others, the Countess of Salisbury, dropped
her garter. Whilst the courtiers looked at one another and smiled,
shrugging their shoulders as they pointed to the garter on the floor,
Edward with the gallantry of a true knight picked it up, and handing it
to the lady, said, "Honi soit qui mal y pense." ("Shame to him who
thinks evil.") As he did so, the thought flashed through his mind that
here were the badge and the motto for his new Order.

The Order was established with great pomp and ceremony. St. George was
instituted as its patron saint. A chapel to St. George was ordered to be
built at Windsor, as chapel for the Order. There each of the twenty-five
knights, who were to be honoured with the garter, was to have his
appointed stall, over which during his lifetime his helmet and sword
were to hang. There all the knights were to assemble, if it were in any
way possible, on the eve of St. George's-day. Then, sitting each in his
stall, they were to hear mass. On St. George's-day itself, a great
tournament and banquet was to be held; on the day following a requiem
was to be sung for the souls of the faithful deceased. No knight of the
Order was ever to pass near Windsor without coming to the chapel, and
there was to put on his mantle and hear mass. Edward made a foundation
at the chapel of thirteen secular canons and thirteen vicars, and also
of twenty-six veteran knights, who were to be maintained there, and were
to serve God continually in prayer. The kings of England were to
be perpetual sovereigns of the Order. There were twenty-five
knights-founders, amongst whom was, of course, the Black Prince, with
his principal knights, Chandos, Sir James Audley and the Captale de
Buche. They were nearly all young men; four of them were even under
twenty, and ten under thirty; Edward III. himself was only thirty-five.

At the first feast we read that all these founders, together with the
King, were clothed in gowns of russet, powdered with blue garters,
wearing like garters also on their right legs, and mantles of blue, with
escutcheons of St. George. Bareheaded, and in this apparel, they heard
mass, which was celebrated by Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, and
afterwards went to the feast, setting themselves orderly at the table.
Then followed splendid tournaments, at which there were two kinds of
conflicts. In the tournaments proper the knights divided themselves into
parties, and one party fought against another. There were also jousts,
or conflicts between two knights. These were generally held in honour of
the ladies, who presided as judges over them. The combatants used spears
without heads of iron; their object was to strike their opponent upon
the front of his helmet, so as to beat him backwards upon his horse, or
else to break his spear.

Though the tournaments were only looked upon as sport, they were often
attended with great danger, and the knights engaged in the combat were
not seldom severely wounded, and even killed. But no thought of this
danger, incurred for no good reason, diminished in the least the
enthusiasm for them. They were attended with every possible kind of
magnificence. The lists within which the combatants were to fight were
superbly decorated, and were surrounded by pavilions belonging to the
champions, and ornamented with their arms and banners. Scaffolds were
erected for the noble spectators, both lords and ladies; those upon
which the royal family sat were hung with tapestry and embroideries of
gold and silver. Every spectator was decked in the most sumptuous
manner. Not only the knights themselves, but their horses, their pages,
and the heralds, were clothed in costly and glittering apparel. The
clanging of trumpets, the shouts of the beholders, the cries of the
heralds increased the excitement of the fray. When the tournament was
over, the combatants retired to their pavilions to refresh themselves
after the fight and remove their heavy armour, the weight of which was
almost unbearable. In the evening they met together with the nobles and
ladies who had been spectators of the sport, and the time was passed in
feasting, dancing, and singing. The heralds named those who had fought
best on both sides. The ladies chose a name for each party, and the
champions received the rewards of their merit from the hands of two
young and noble maidens.

Children were taught from their earliest childhood to relish these
spectacles; their very toys were made in imitation of knights jousting.
The number of these tournaments led to very great extravagance in dress.
Each person wished to excel his neighbour in the magnificence of his
attire. The great desire was to appear in something new and astounding,
and this led to the most fantastic fashions. Ladies of the first rank
and greatest beauty might be seen on these occasions dressed in
parti-coloured tunics, half one colour and half another, with handsomely
ornamented girdles of gold and silver, in which were stuck short swords
or daggers. In this masculine attire they appeared mounted on the finest
horses they could procure, ornamented with the richest furniture.
Parti-coloured garments were in great favour. Men would wear one
stocking of one colour, the other of another. Most noticeable among the
many extravagant fashions were the trailing dresses, which lay in heaps
upon the ground, in front as well as behind; the long and fantastically
shaped sleeves trailed also on the ground. A contemporary writer says:
"The taylors must soon shape their garments in the open field, for want
of room to cut them in their own houses; because that man is best
respected who bears upon his back at one time the greatest quantity of
cloth and of fur." Edward III. himself set the example in these
extravagant fashions. In his wardrobe-rolls we find accounts of dresses
which were to be worn at tournaments. One was a tunic and a cloak with a
hood, on which were to be embroidered one hundred garters, with buckles,
bars, and pendants of silver; also a doublet of linen, having round the
skirts and about the sleeves a deep border of green cloth, worked with
representations of clouds with vine branches of gold, and this motto,
given by the King, "It is as it is." The festival of the Garter was
celebrated with great splendour in 1351. The King wore a robe of cloth
of gold furred, another of red velvet embroidered with clouds and eagles
of pearl and gold, each eagle having in his beak a garter with the motto
of the order. The Queen wore a similar robe, and the Princess Isabel
wore a red velvet robe, embroidered with 119 circles of silk and pearls,
with trees of silk and gold embroidered on a ground of green velvet,
with flowers and leaves. On another occasion we read that a grant of
£200 (equal to £3,000 of our money) was made to Queen Philippa for her
attire at a festival of the Garter.

These gorgeous robes were of course exceedingly valuable, and were
reckoned amongst the most important possessions of the great people. The
Black Prince disposed by will of the chief of his robes, describing them
each separately. Another way in which the Royal Family and the nobility
displayed their grandeur was by their magnificent bedhangings. Of these
again the Black Prince disposed by will. He seems to have possessed many
different beds with gorgeous hangings: one set of hangings was
embroidered with mermaids, another with swans, and so on. Gold and
silver plate was another favourite article of luxury. The city of London
made several very handsome presents of large quantities of plate both to
the King and to the Prince.

But amidst all this apparent luxury we must not forget the other side of
the picture, the squalor and discomfort in which even the greatest
people lived in those days. Glazed windows were only just beginning to
be used. The walls of the rooms were commonly bare, and only on grand
occasions were covered with hangings. The Black Prince, we know,
possessed some splendid hangings. One set was embroidered with swans
having ladies' heads, and another was embroidered with eagles and
griffins. These he used to carry about with him to ornament his hall on
great occasions.

The floors were covered with rushes, and were the receptacles of all
kinds of filth. Bones were thrown at dinner on the floor for the dogs,
who were beneath the table ready to devour them. Forks were not known,
and the food was mostly torn in pieces with the fingers. Wooden platters
were largely in use, or more often a large slice of bread, on which each
man would lay his portion of meat. At banquets, a lady and knight used
to eat off the same plate. There were only two meals in the course of
the day--dinner, which took place between ten and eleven, and supper at
five o'clock. The entire household dined together in the same hall. The
chief ornament of the dinner-table was a massive saltcellar, and the
places for the persons of the greatest dignity were always above the
salt. Edward III. possessed among his royal jewels a silver ship, which
was used to ornament the dinner-table and hold sweetmeats. Gold and
silver ewers were used for washing before and after meat. The great
hall, or dining-room, was also the sleeping room for the servants; there
were private sleeping rooms for the chief members of the family.

Each great nobleman had around him a number of officers like a royal
court--chamberlains, chancellors, and others. Besides these, he kept in
his employ companies of minstrels, jugglers, tumblers, and players, who
sang and displayed their tricks for the amusement of the company during
their meals. Travelling companies of minstrels and jugglers wandered
over the country, giving performances in the various noblemen's houses.
Tregetours, or conjurers, were in high favour. There were both male and
female tumblers, who went about together in companies, called gleman's
companies; they also amused their audiences with buffoonery of all
kinds. Other men made it their profession to train bears, apes, and
horses to perform tricks. The spectators always connected these tricks
with witchcraft, and supposed them to be done by means of magic.

Theatres did not exist in those days; but there were mysteries or
miracle plays, which formed a great part of the amusement of the people
during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Their origin was no doubt
purely religious, and their object was to illustrate passages of
Scripture and teach moral lessons. They were performed in churches, or
on stages erected in the churchyards and the fields, and sometimes on
movable stages in the streets. They were written by monks, and were
performed sometimes by monks themselves, sometimes by the members of a
trade-gild. They seem very soon to have lost most of their religious
character, and to have become little more than a means of amusement for
the people; to secure this better, they degenerated into rather coarse

Three complete sets of these old mysteries still exist, and in all we
see the same desire for comic effect, which led the authors to take
liberties with the text of Scripture, so as to be able to introduce
comic incidents. Noah's wife is a favourite character, and is endowed
with a very obstinate temper, so that Noah has great difficulty in
getting her into the ark. Devils played an important part, and were
represented with horns, tails, claws, and terrible masks. Everything
possible was done to make them awful in the eyes of the women and
children. Masks were much used in the performance; the women's parts
were acted by men or boys wearing masks. The play as a whole cannot have
produced any very serious impression, though it was by no means entirely
deficient in religious feeling. But the comic element predominated, and
gave rise to the most boisterous merriment. We cannot wonder therefore
that the preachers and moralists of the day regarded the miracle plays
with disfavour, and spoke of them in the same way as the Puritans of
later date did of the theatres.

These mysteries were exhibited on festivals and holidays. Another kind
of play, called "Ludi," was exhibited at court during the Christmas
holidays. These plays were really nothing more than mummeries--the
appearance of a large number of persons in masks and various comic
dresses, personifying certain characters, and performing dances.

In 1348 Edward III. kept his Christmas at Guildford. Orders were given
to manufacture for the Christmas sports eighty tunics of buckram of
different colours, and a large number of masks--some with faces of
women, some with beards, some like angel heads of silver. There were to
be mantles embroidered with heads of dragons, tunics wrought with heads
and wings of peacocks, and embroidered in many other fantastic ways. The
celebration of Christmas lasted from All-Hallows Eve, the 31st October,
till the day after the Purification, the 3rd February. At the court a
lord of misrule was appointed, who reigned during the whole of this
period, and was called "the master of merry disports." He ruled over and
organised all the games and sports, and during the period of his rule
there was nothing but a succession of masques, disguisings, and dances
of all kinds. All the nobles, even the mayor of London, had an officer
of this kind chosen in their households. Dancing was a very favourite
amusement. It was practised by the nobility of both sexes. The damsels
of London spent their evenings in dancing before their masters' doors,
and the country lasses danced upon the village green.

The favourite occupation of the nobility was hunting. In the reign of
Edward II. hunting had been reduced to a science, and rules had been
established for its practice. Edward III. was an ardent hunter, and all
the nobility followed his example. Even bishops and abbots hunted. No
more valuable present could be made than a harehound or deerhound. In
hawking, ladies could also take part. The careful training of a falcon
required great skill, and a well-trained bird was most highly prized.
Embroidered gloves were worn on the hand upon which the falcon was to
sit. When not flying at their game, the hawks used to be hoodwinked with
elegant hoods. They had a bell on each leg, and there was a difference
of a semitone between the two bells.

The English ladies led a quiet and secluded life, and were celebrated
for their skill in needlework and embroidery. They used also to amuse
themselves with playing at dice and chess, and with music. They were
allowed, it is true, to appear as spectators at the tournaments; and at
the time of the foundation of the Order of the Garter, the Queen and the
wives of the knights-founders were received, as far as their sex
allowed, as members of the Order.


The Black Death.

The famous Order of the Garter had been established. Men were feasting
and carousing, and were spending their days in brilliant festivals,
while the shadow of a great calamity was creeping over the land. A
terrible plague had broken out in the interior of Asia. It spread
rapidly to Europe, devastated Greece and Italy, and passed on through
France to England. Its coming is said to have been heralded by the most
frightful signs. A stinking mist seemed to advance from the East and
spread over Europe. Numerous earthquakes shook the Continent, and
meteors of great size were seen. It was in August, 1348, that the plague
first reached the shores of England. Three months afterwards it reached

We can hardly imagine the terror which the plague must have spread over
the country. No one could feel himself safe from its ravages. Before the
plague the population of England is supposed to have been 5,000,000; it
is calculated that at least 2,500,000 persons perished of it.

The disease seemed to be a poisoning of the blood. It began with
shivering, which was followed by a burning internal fever, and then
boils of a black colour appeared upon the skin, whence it gained its
name the "Black Death." Death often ensued after a few hours' illness.
The terror of death only increased the danger, and gave rise to utter
selfishness and recklessness. Men deserted those dearest to them when
they were stricken by the plague; brothers deserted their sisters,
husbands their wives, mothers their children. Some shut themselves up in
utter solitude, and hoped, by living moderately and avoiding all contact
with men, to escape the danger. Others indulged in the wildest
dissipation, and strove to drown their anxiety by reckless drinking, and
excitement of all kinds. The mere sight of a stricken person was
supposed to be sufficient to communicate infection. No one ventured to
walk abroad without bearing in their hands some pungent herb, the smell
of which was believed to disinfect the pestilential air.

The rich shut themselves up in their castles, and in many cases
succeeded in escaping infection. It was amongst the poor that the
mortality was greatest. From the large number of parish priests who are
known to have died of the plague, we are led to hope that they at least
did not shun the danger, but went boldly amongst the sick and dying to
administer the last comforts of religion. We know that seventeen out of
twenty-one of the York clergy died during the pestilence. It was in the
eastern counties that the mortality was the greatest. They were at that
time the most thickly populated part of England. For many years there
had been a slow and constant immigration of Flemings, who had been
encouraged by the English kings to settle in England, that they might
there establish their industries. From them the English had learnt
weaving and commercial enterprise. The east, not the west, of England
was then the centre of manufactures and industry. Norwich was a thriving
manufacturing city, possessing sixty parish churches and sixteen
chapels. There exists a record, stating that 57,374 persons died there
of the plague. Norwich never recovered its prosperity. At the present
day it has only thirty-six parish churches, in place of sixty before
1348. Yarmouth was of great importance as a station for the herring
fishery; out of 10,000 inhabitants, it lost 7,000 by the plague. In
Bristol, then one of the chief towns in England, the plague raged to
such an extent that the living were scarcely able to bury the dead, and
grass grew several inches high in the principal streets.

In London its ravages were terrible. The churchyards were filled to
overflowing, and no longer sufficed. Sir Walter Manny bought a piece of
land in West Smithfield to bury the dead, and built a chapel where
masses should be said for the souls of the departed. This was the
origin of the Charterhouse. Other persons also bought pieces of land for
the same purpose, and fields were set apart where the dead were buried
in large pits. Two successive Archbishops of Canterbury died of the
plague, John de Ufford, and Thomas Bradwardine, one of the most learned
men of his time. One of the king's daughters, the Princess Joan, died of
it at Bordeaux, on her way to marry Don Pedro of Castile.

By many people the Black Death was looked upon as a scourge sent by God
for the sins of mankind. A sect of fanatics, called the Flagellants,
arose and wandered over all parts of Europe. There appeared in London,
in 1349, a band of men and women, 120 in number, whose object was to
expiate in their own persons the sins of the world. They wandered from
town to town clad in sackcloth, with red crosses on their caps, chanting
penitential hymns. From time to time they prostrated themselves upon the
ground in the form of a cross, and took it in turns for one of their
number to scourge their naked backs and shoulders. This process was
repeated every morning for thirty-three days, the number of the years of
Christ's life upon earth. Then the fanatics, having fulfilled the
appointed penance, returned to their own homes, having in many cases
inspired others to follow their example. So great was their enthusiasm
that they seemed not to feel the stroke of the scourge, and sang their
wild hymns only with greater exultation as the blood streamed from
their shoulders. The following is a translation of a verse of one of
their hymns:

    "Through love of man the Saviour came,
      Through love of man He died;
    He suffered want, reproach, and shame,
      Was scourged and crucified.
    Oh think, then, on thy Saviour's pain,
    And lash the sinner, lash again!"

In England they found no response to their enthusiasm. The people only
gazed and wondered, and they departed without having gained any
followers. In Germany their success was much greater.

The result of the Black Death in England was a social revolution, which
changed the whole course of English history. It disturbed the existing
relations of land and labour, by increasing suddenly the value of labour
whilst it diminished the value of land. We cannot follow in detail the
course of this revolution, but we can trace some of the causes which
produced it. So large a number of the labourers had died of the plague,
that there were none left to till the land. Flocks and herds wandered
over the country with no one to tend them. The labourers, being few in
number, demanded wages which the farmers were not able to pay and make a
profit. Land consequently fell in value, and it became possible for one
man to hold a large quantity of it. The small farms were broken up, as
it was easier for a small farmer to gain his livelihood by working for
another man than by attempting to get others to work for him, and make
a profit out of his own land. Arable land was largely converted into
pasture land, because pasture land required fewer labourers.

The immediate consequence of the plague was the outbreak of the first
great conflict in the history of England between capital and labour. The
free labourer at that time can hardly be said to have had a position
recognised by law. According to the system of land tenure which had
prevailed in England since its colonization by German tribes, the serf
was bound to the land. He was not a slave in the sense that he could be
bought or sold; but he was his lord's property, for he could not move
from the soil on which he had been born: he was an outlaw if he
attempted to leave it without his lord's permission. As time went on the
serf had gained certain rights. The amount of service due by him to his
lord had been limited by custom; he had a legal right to the piece of
land on which his hut was built; the labour which he owed to his lord
was, as it were, the rent he paid for his land.

In the twelfth century the custom began to be common for the lord, who
was frequently for long periods absent on the Crusades or at war, to
lease some of his land to tenants, instead of farming it all through
bailiffs. This was found to be both easier and more profitable; and thus
arose the farmer class. A still greater change was the gradual rise of
the free labourer. The Church had long used its influence to urge men to
give freedom to their serfs. It was possible also for a serf to gain
freedom by living a year and a day within the walls of a chartered town.
The tenants, as they increased in wealth and social importance, found
the labour-rent more and more burdensome. On the other hand, the lords,
owing to the increasing luxury of the time and to the expenses of
chivalry and war, were continually in want of money. It became,
therefore, the custom for the serfs to buy their freedom from their
lords. Edward III. himself used to raise money by selling manumissions
to his serfs. In time the labourer became detached from the soil, and
could pass from one farm to another.

The scarcity of labour after the Black Death made the landholders feel
how disadvantageous this system was to them. Formerly they could compel
their serfs to work. Now they had to pay the labourers the wages which
they asked, or allow their land to remain untilled, and the harvests to
rot upon the fields. Government was, of course, in those days entirely
in the interests of the landlords. To remedy the evil of high wages, the
King assembled his council on the 14th June, 1349. The country was not
yet sufficiently recovered from the plague to allow of Parliament being
summoned. The council issued a royal ordinance, which was afterwards
embodied in the Statute of Labourers.

The preamble of this statute gives us in a few words a vivid picture of
the times. It states that "a great part of the people, and especially of
workmen and servants, late died of the pestilence. Many, seeing the
necessity of masters and the great scarcity of servants, will not serve
unless they may receive excessive wages; and some are rather willing to
beg in idleness than by labour to get their living." It then proceeds to
ordain that all men and women who do not live by merchandise or by the
exercise of any craft are to work for the same wages as they had
received before the plague. They were to work first for their own lord,
though he was not to retain more than he wanted. The statute went on to
say that, "seeing that many sturdy beggars, as long as they can live by
begging and charity, refuse to labour, no one, under pain of
imprisonment, shall presume to nourish them in their idleness." Thus the
law ordered that all men were to work; giving alms to beggars was
forbidden; the scale of wages was fixed, and men were once more bound,
at least in the first place, to work for their lord.

The fixing of the scale of wages by law could have no permanent effect.
With the high price of provisions, which had resulted from the Black
Death, it was impossible for men to live on the same wages as before the
plague. We see by the repeated reinforcements of the statute during the
reign of Edward III. how unsuccessful it was in obtaining the desired
result. Still more galling to the labourer was the attempt made by this
statute to bind him once more to the soil, and thus to rob him of his
newly-acquired freedom. We cannot wonder that the Statute of Labourers
produced a growing discontent amongst the labour class, which at last
broke out in the peasants' revolt under Richard II.

The horrors of the Black Death had rudely disturbed the joy and
prosperity of the English people. No greater contrast can be imagined
than that between the condition of England in 1347, when the people
revelled in the enjoyment of peace and of a luxury unknown before, and
England in the beginning of 1350. More than half the people had died of
the plague; even amongst the cattle the mortality had been very great.
The looms stood silent for want of weavers; the harvests lay rotting on
the fields for want of labourers; sheep and oxen wandered half wild over
the country because there was no one to tend them. The country pulpits
remained silent. The people as well as their sheep were without
shepherds. All suits and pleadings in the King's Bench, and all sessions
of Parliament, ceased for two years. War was impossible. France was
decimated by the plague as much as England, and a truce for two years
was concluded between the two countries.

The population soon recovered its losses. The nobles had suffered
comparatively little by the plague, and soon returned to their luxurious
amusements. Preachers and moralists might declaim against the
extravagances of fashion and dress, and say that the plague had been
sent as a scourge from God, but the nobles clung to their fashions all
the same. It was the people who had suffered by the plague, and felt its
effects. Wheat was scarce, the price of provisions was exorbitantly
high, and yet the law was striving to diminish wages. The life of the
agricultural labourer in those days was at best very wretched. The
articles of diet were few. The people lived on salt meat half the year.
They had neither potatoes, carrots, nor parsnips; their only vegetables
were onions, cabbages, and nettles. Spices were quite out of the reach
of the common people. Sugar was a costly luxury. We can hardly realize
the dreariness of the long winter nights in the dark and ill-ventilated
huts, from which the smoke escaped as best it could. The people must
have spent much of their time in darkness, as candles were too dear for
them to buy.

But wretched as his surroundings might be, the labourer was not without
intelligence. It was his ambition to send one of his sons to the
university, that he might become a priest. So general was this custom
that Parliament petitioned Edward III. to prohibit it, because the
landlords feared that thus they might lose useful labourers. The
distress of the peasantry under the Statute of Labourers, and the
tyranny and oppression of their landlords, soon led them to form
combinations among themselves for the defence of their own rights.
These combinations were maintained by subscriptions of money. We learn
that the labourers gathered themselves together in "great routs, and
agreed by such confederacy to resist their lords." These combinations
paved the way for the revolt under Richard II. The agricultural
labourers throughout the country could communicate with one another by
means of preachers who wandered over the country, and who, being men of
the people themselves, shared the interests of their class.

In attempting to form any true idea of the condition of the lower orders
of society in those times, of their hardships and grievances, we are
much aided by the poem of William Langland, called the _Vision of Piers
the Plowman_. Langland himself was an obscure man, of whom little
certain is known. He seems to have been born about 1332, and to have
been a secular priest. Three versions of his poem exist, the first
written in 1362, the last about 1380. It is a long poem written in the
old alliterative metre, that is, the rhyme is at the beginning, not at
the end of the words. From a literary point of view the poem possesses
little charm; its great interest lies in the light it throws on the
social condition of the times.

Langland is an austere reformer. He is not like Chaucer, who likes to
look on the bright side of things, and to take a genial view even of
men's failings and sins, and make fun of them. He wishes to make men
better by showing them their sin in its darkest colours, and pointing
out the contrast between it and the virtue they ought to attain to. The
poem is one long testimony against the sins of the rich, against the
sins of all who do not _work_. If Chaucer has any distinct wish at all
to make men better, he only tries to do it by making their sins
ludicrous. In Langland's poem we never lose sight of the moral; the poet
has no other purpose in writing than moral teaching. What he wishes to
teach is simply this, that all men must work, though the work must
differ in kind according to the rank of the worker. The knight's duty is
to guard the Church from "wasters," and help the farmer by killing the
hares, foxes, and wild birds. The ladies are to sew chasubles, to spin
wool and flax, to clothe the naked, and to help all those who work
worthily. If men will not work otherwise, hunger must make them do so.
There are to be no beggars; even hermits must seize their spades and

The dinner provided for the labourers after they have worked, shows us
what the peasants had to live on in those days. Piers says he had no
geese nor pigs, only cheese, curds, cream, oatcake, and loaves of beans
and bran; and for vegetables, parsley, leeks, and cabbages. Besides
these the poor people bought peascods, beans, apples and cherries, to
feed hunger with. These were the things on which they must subsist till
harvest time; then they would have better food, and good ale too.

Langland tells us that the people were beginning to be discontented with
this kind of food. The beggars would eat only the finest bread; the
labourers grew dainty, and were not content even with penny ale and a
piece of bacon, but wanted fresh flesh and fried fish, and grumbled
about their low wages.

Langland is very bitter against the indulgences granted by the priests
for men's sins. A man can only obtain pardon by good works. The
merchants must trade fairly, must repair hospitals and broken bridges,
must dower maidens and aid poor scholars. He is more severe upon the
lawyers than upon almost any other class; they take bribes, and will
never speak unless you give them money first; only those who plead the
cause of the poor, and do not need to be bought, can be saved. With
crushing severity he dwells continually upon the sins of the clergy,
and, like Wiclif, wishes for the return of the apostolical purity of the
Church. The pestilence, he says, came simply as a punishment for men's
sins. The whole poem is full of allusions to the questions of the day,
and the severity of its criticisms is relieved by no playfulness, hardly
by a single touch of humour.

In the form of his poem, Langland has followed the fashionable poets of
his day, and has adopted the machinery of a dream. All that he tells us
passed before him in a vision. Some few touches show that he too was not
wanting in some growing sense of the beauties of nature, particularly in
the opening of the poem, when he tells us that he wandered on the
Malvern Hills on a May morning. When weary of wandering, he laid himself

    "Under a broad bank, by a burn's side;
    And as I lay, and leaned, and looked in the waters,
    I slumbered in a sleeping, it sounded so merrily."

It is only the form, however, that Langland has taken from the
fashionable poets of his day; of their spirit he has nothing. The
beautiful side of chivalry was quite lost to him. He saw only its dark
side, the luxury and selfish idleness to which it had led. He is a voice
from the people, and as such is doubly interesting to us, since most of
the chroniclers and writers of those times entirely disregarded the
people, and spoke only of the upper ranks of society.


Renewal of War with France.

In 1350 the English were again troubled by rumours of war. The seamen of
the Spanish ports on the Bay of Biscay had always been animated by
hostility to the English, in whom they found formidable opponents to
their commercial enterprises. They were full of zeal for mercantile
adventure, and side by side with their commerce they committed many acts
of piracy. They now assembled a large fleet, primarily with the object
of trading with Flanders; but on their way to the Flemish ports they
behaved more like pirates than merchants, and by claiming the dominion
of the seas seemed to challenge the English to attack them.

At the Flemish ports the Spaniards loaded their ships with all kinds of
rich merchandise, and prepared to return home, having no fear of the
English; for the fleet was strong, and their admiral, De la Cerda, by
promising liberal pay, had succeeded in enlisting a large number of
volunteers at Sluys.

Froissart tells us that the King of England hated these Spaniards
greatly, and said publicly, "We have for a long time spared these
people, for which they have done us much harm, without amending their
conduct. On the contrary, they grow more arrogant; for which reason they
must be chastised as they pass our coasts." His son and his lords were
only too ready to engage upon a warlike expedition. Edward summoned all
gentlemen who at that time might be in England to meet him at Sandwich.
Hither the Queen too came to see them off.

The English fleet consisted of fifty sail; but the ships were far
inferior to those of the Spaniards. Edward III. and the Black Prince
each commanded a ship in person. For three days they cruised between
Dover and Calais waiting the coming of the Spaniards. On the third day,
when they hoped to engage, the king sat in the fore part of his ship,
dressed in a black velvet jacket, and wearing on his head a small hat of
beaver, which became him much. He was in most joyous spirits, and
ordered his minstrels to play before him a German dance which Sir John
Chandos had lately introduced. For his amusement he made Chandos sing
with his minstrels, which delighted him greatly. From time to time he
would ask his watch whether the Spaniards were in sight. At last, whilst
the King was thus amusing himself with his knights, the watch cried out,
"I spy a ship; and it appears to me to be a Spaniard." At once the
minstrels were silenced, and the King asked whether there was more than
one ship. Soon the answer was shouted out, "Yes, I see two, three, four,
and so many that, God help me, I cannot count them." Then the King and
his knights knew that it was the Spanish fleet.

The trumpets sounded, and the ships were ordered to form in line of
battle. It was already late; but the King was determined to engage. He
called for wine, which he and his knights drank, and then stood ready to
fight. The Spaniards might easily have avoided the battle, but hoping to
crush their enemies, they sailed down upon them. Then Edward said to the
captain of his ship, "Lay me alongside the Spaniard who is bearing down
on us, for I will have a tilt with him." The shock of the meeting of the
two ships was like the crash of a tempest. The King's ship stood firm;
but the Spaniard was much disabled, and lost her masts, so that the
English knights cried to the King, "Let her go away; you shall have
better than that." Then another large ship bore down, and grappled with
chains and irons to that of the King, and the fight began in earnest.
Many gallant deeds were done; but the Spanish ship proved hard to
conquer. The King's ship was leaking, and in danger of sinking, only
just in time was the Spanish ship boarded. The English threw all the men
they found on it overboard; and leaving their own ship, continued the
fight on board the Spaniard.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Wales was in great difficulty. His ship was
grappled by an immense Spaniard, and was so full of holes that it was in
great danger of sinking. The crew were employed in baling out water, and
could not make head against the Spaniards. But the Duke of Lancaster,
the Prince's cousin, formerly Earl of Derby, seeing the danger, drew
near, and fell on the other side of the enemy, grappling his ship to the
Spaniard, with shouts of "Derby to the rescue." The ship was soon taken,
and the crew were thrown overboard. The Prince and his men, deserting
their own ship, embarked on board the Spaniard.

It was a hard battle for the English, as the Spanish ships were very big
and strong, and the Spaniards fought with extreme bravery, and knew no
fear. At last victory declared itself for the English. The Spaniards
lost fourteen ships, and the others saved themselves by flight. When it
was over Edward sounded his trumpets for retreat, and the fleet sailed
back to the English coast, anchoring off Rye and Winchelsea. The King
and the Prince landed, and the same night rode to the house where the
Queen was--just two leagues distant. She was most joyful at seeing them
return safely, for she had been in great anxiety all day. Her servants
had watched the battle from the hills on the coast, whence they could
see it well, as the weather was fine and clear, and they had seen the
great strength of their enemy, and their fine large ships. So great
were the rejoicings that, instead of resting after the battle, the King
and his knights spent the night in revelry with the ladies, talking of
arms and love. The next morning the King thanked his knights for their
services, and dismissed them.

This battle was the beginning of the rivalry between the English and the
Spaniards for the dominion of the seas. The hardy Spanish seamen were
not in the least depressed by their defeat. Both sides, however, soon
saw that the quarrel was to the interests of neither, and a truce for
twenty years was concluded in London between the King of England and the
maritime cities of Castile. It must be remembered that the quarrel was
not at all between the King of Castile and the King of England, but only
between these maritime cities and the English naval power.

Attempts had been again made at a conference at Guisnes between the
envoys of France and England to change the armistice between the two
countries into a permanent peace. Edward III. offered to give up his
claim to the French crown, if the French king would give up his claim of
homage for the English provinces in France. When the French king refused
to do this, Edward determined to begin the war again.

Philip of Valois, King of France, had died in 1350, and was succeeded by
his son John. John found the treasury of France already impoverished by
the expenses of the war, and did not make matters better by his unwise
and prodigal liberality. His easy-going temper earned for him the name
of the Good, though he brought his kingdom to the very verge of ruin. He
wanted money for his favourites and his pleasures, and when he had taxed
the people till they could give no more, he tried to get money by
debasing the coinage, that is, he caused money containing a large
quantity of alloy to be made, and obliged the people to take this bad
money in exchange for their good money. This and his heavy taxes brought
great misery and poverty upon the people, who were still suffering from
the effects of the Black Death.

The country also suffered greatly from the Free Companies who roamed
about in all directions, committing robberies and every kind of crime.
These Free Companies were the plague of the Middle Ages. They were bands
of mercenary soldiers ready to fight for any one who would pay them, and
when in intervals of peace they were dismissed from service they spent
the time in plunder, in defiance of all laws and government. Froissart
tells us that, in the year 1351, there was the greatest scarcity of
provisions ever known in the memory of man, all over the kingdom of
France. But in spite of the sufferings of his people, King John was
eager for war and anxious to wash out the stain left on the French arms
by the battle of Cressy. Edward was equally ready; even during the years
when negotiations for peace had been going on, the truce had not really
been observed, and both French and English had made many aggressions
upon the enemy's country.

When in 1354 the Congress at Guisnes broke up, having accomplished
nothing, Edward began to hasten his preparations for a new invasion of
France. He had gained a new and important ally against John in the
person of Charles, King of Navarre. This man was the evil genius of
France during the years that followed. His crimes and unscrupulous
ambition gained for him the surname of the Bad. He was one of the most
powerful vassals of France, as he had inherited the earldom of Normandy
and Evreux. To secure his friendship, King John had given him his
daughter in marriage. But Charles soon incurred the hatred of John by
murdering the king's favourite and chief counsellor. He had to fly from
court, and in his absence John invaded Normandy and took some of his
fortresses. Charles determined to revenge this injury by aiding Edward
III. against the King of France. He promised to give the English king
possession of several strong fortresses in Normandy, so that he might
land his troops there, and be able to advance to Paris in safety. At the
same time Edward received a visit from some of the Gascon nobles, who
came to ask him to send his son to lead them against the French. A great
invasion of France by three separate armies was therefore planned. One,
under the Black Prince, was to land at Bordeaux; a second, under the
Duke of Lancaster, was to go and aid the Countess de Montfort in
Britany; and a third, under Edward himself, was to invade Normandy.

Edward III. took a proud army with him to France; but he did not do
much. His ally, Charles of Navarre, made peace with John, so that Edward
was obliged to change his plans and land at Calais instead of Cherbourg.
John was wise enough to give Edward no chance of a battle, whilst he
urged upon the Scots to invade England in the absence of its king. News
was brought to Edward in France that the Scots had crossed the border
and re-taken Berwick. He was obliged to return to resist them, and
punished their inroad by invading Scotland, and spreading such
destruction wherever he went, that the Scots long spoke of the time of
this invasion as "Burnt Candlemas."



The Black Prince had sailed from Plymouth on September 8th, 1355, with a
large band of nobles. He was received at Bordeaux with great joy by all
the nobles of the country. The Gascon lords were eager to fight under
the banner of so brave a prince, and to distinguish themselves by feats
of arms. They had long been annoyed by the inroads of the French, and
they now begged the prince to lead them on a foraging expedition into
France. They formed no plan for a campaign. The expedition was simply
undertaken from love of plunder, and of fighting for its own sake. The
Prince had the absolute command, and had been appointed the king's
lieutenant in Aquitaine. The expedition which he now undertook shows us
the dark side of chivalry. We see him and his young knights, in wanton
love of adventure, spreading ruin and destruction over the fairest
provinces of France.

On leaving Bordeaux he divided his army into several "battles." These
were to march at some distance from one another, that they might
devastate a larger extent of country. In this way they went through
Armagnac to the foot of the Pyrenees. Then the Prince turned northwards
to Toulouse, where he waited, hoping in vain that the French might be
provoked to battle. He next crossed the Garonne, and went to Carcassone,
a rich and populous city, as large as York. The inhabitants fled in
terror, leaving the city gates open. The town was plundered and burnt,
but the citadel stood firm, and the Prince passed on without troubling
to take it. To save themselves from a like fate, the inhabitants of
Montpelier destroyed their own suburbs, and the members of the ancient
university fled to Avignon, to seek shelter with the Pope. Narbonne was
one of the richest towns in France, and almost as large as London; it
also was burnt and plundered. In eight weeks the Black Prince succeeded
in ruining the richest district of France, from which the kings of
France drew the chief part of their revenue. Peace had reigned there for
more than a century, so that the inhabitants were ignorant of war and
its horrors. Now five hundred towns and villages were smoking in ruins;
the harvests were destroyed; everywhere there was devastation and ruin.
The name of the Black Prince had become a terror, not only to the people
whose peaceful homes he had destroyed, but to the whole of France.

Laden with booty, he and his knights returned to Bordeaux. Here the
Gascon soldiers were dismissed till the spring, when an expedition into
Poitou was talked of. The winter was spent by the Black Prince with his
knights in great joy and festivity. There, the herald Chandos tells us,
was "beauty and nobleness, sincerity, bounty and liberality." But
neither were they quite idle; for in the course of the winter they
succeeded in retaking such fortresses in Gascony as had been taken by
the French.

It was not till the middle of the following summer that the Black Prince
gathered his men together to start on a second campaign. He left
Bordeaux on the 8th July with only a small force--2,000 men-at-arms and
6,000 archers--partly Gascons and partly English. His object was to make
another foraging expedition, and, if possible, proceed onwards to join
his cousin the Duke of Lancaster in Normandy. He went through Auvergne
northward as far as Berry. Froissart tells us that they found the
province of Auvergne very rich, and all things in great abundance. They
burnt and destroyed all the country they passed through, and when they
entered any town which was well provisioned, they rested there some days
to refresh themselves, and on leaving destroyed what remained, staving
the heads of wine casks and burning the wheat and oats, so that their
enemies should not save anything. Everywhere they found plenty as they
advanced, for the country was very rich and full of forage for

At Vierzon, a town in Berry, they learnt that the King of France was at
Chartres with a large army, and that all the passes and towns on the
Loire were secured and so well guarded that no one could cross the
river. The Prince then held a council with his knights, and they
resolved to return to Bordeaux through Touraine and Poitou, destroying
all the country on their way. Near Romorantin some of the Prince's men
had a skirmish with some French soldiers, whom they routed. The castle
of Romorantin refused to yield to the Prince. As he was assailing it one
of his squires was killed at his side by a stone thrown from the castle.
The Prince was so furious that he swore he would not leave that place
till he had the castle and all in it in his power. Cannons were brought
forward, and Greek-fire was shot upon the town, till a large tower of
the castle, covered with thatch, caught fire and was all in a blaze.
Then the garrison had to yield; but the Prince treated them nobly, and
set many knights and squires at liberty, whilst he made the lords, who
had commanded the castle, ride by his side and attend him as his

When the King of France heard that the Prince was hastening back to
Bordeaux, he determined to pursue him, thinking that he could not
escape. He left Chartres, and marched south, to intercept him on his way
back. John was marching almost in a direct line south, whilst the Black
Prince was marching from Romorantin in a south-westerly direction. It
was therefore impossible but that they should meet. The English,
however, were ignorant of their danger, till they accidentally
discovered, when near Charigny, on September 17, by coming upon a French
reconnoitring party, that the great French army was between them and
Bordeaux. Escape was impossible. The Prince had only 8,000 men, while
John had a mighty army of 50,000. But Prince Edward would rather fight
even against such odds than yield to an enemy. All that remained for him
was to choose his position well and fight his best. The skilful tactics
displayed by the Prince in disposing of his small force, show us that he
was something more than merely a brave soldier.

King John sent Sir Eustace de Ribeaumont to reconnoitre the English. He
brought back an account of the way in which they were posted, which has
been preserved to us.

There were 2,000 men-at-arms, 6,000 archers, and about 1,000 camp
followers quartered on a small hill which did not contain 2,000 square
feet of ground. This hill was surrounded by very thick hedges, and was
divided in the middle by a road, a little crooked and so narrow that
hardly three men could go up it abreast. The road was covered on both
sides with high hedges, behind which were encamped the archers, who were
still at work making a new ditch. At the end of these hedges were the
men-at-arms on foot, each holding his horse by his bridle; they were
standing amidst vines and thorns, where it was impossible to march in
any regular order. Before them were drawn up the archers, arranged in
the manner of a harrow. On the left, where the hedges and the avenue
were not so thick, the waggons were piled one upon another to make a
barrier. Some cavalry were collected on a little eminence to the right,
that they might attack the enemy on the flanks.

[Illustration: Plan of the BATTLE of POTIERS 19th September 1356.]

On Sunday morning, September 18, King John was ready and impatient for
the attack. He ordered a solemn mass to be sung in his tent, and he and
his four sons partook of the communion. After some debate with his chief
nobles, it was ordered that the whole army should push into the plain,
and that each lord should display his banner, and advance in the name of
God and St. Denis. The trumpets sounded, and every one mounted his
horse, and made for that part of the plain where the King's banner was
planted and fluttering in the wind. "There," says Froissart, "might be
seen all the nobility of France, richly dressed in brilliant armour,
with banners and pennons gallantly displayed; for all the flower of the
French nobility was there: no knight nor squire, for fear of dishonour,
dared to remain at home." And all this mighty force was going to attack
a small body of 8,000 men, mostly simple archers, men of the people,
standing at bay amidst the hedges and vineyards on the little hill.

When the French were on the point of marching against their enemies, the
Cardinal of Perigord, who had left Poitiers that morning early, came at
full gallop to the King, and making a deep reverence, begged him for the
love of God to stay a minute. "Most dear sire," he said, with uplifted
hands, "you have here all the flower of knighthood of your kingdom
against a handful of people such as the English are. You may have them
upon other terms than by a battle. I beseech you by the love of God let
me go to the Prince and remonstrate with him on the dangerous situation
he is in." Then the King answered, "It is agreeable to us, but make
haste back again." The Cardinal found the Prince on foot in the thickest
part of the vineyard, and when he asked him for permission to make up
matters between him and the King of France, the Prince replied, "Sir, my
own honour and that of my army saved, I am ready to listen to reasonable
terms." The Cardinal then returned to John, and after much eloquent
pleading succeeded in persuading him to consent to a truce till the next
day at sunrise. The King ordered a very handsome and rich pavilion of
red silk to be pitched on the spot where he stood, and dismissed his
army to their quarters for the present.

All Sunday the Cardinal rode from one army to another, and did his
utmost to bring about a peaceful agreement. But the King of France would
listen to nothing unless the Prince of Wales and one hundred of his
knights surrendered themselves prisoners. To these terms the Prince
could not be expected to consent. On Monday morning the French almost
angrily bade the Cardinal begone and trouble them no more with his
entreaties. Then he went to the Prince of Wales, and said, "Fair son,
exert yourself as much as possible, for there must be a battle." The
Prince replied that such were his intentions, and those of his army,
"and God defend the right." On the whole the Cardinal did not meet with
much gratitude from either side for his endeavours, and he went sadly
back to Poitiers.

Sunday had been spent by the Prince's men in making many mounds and
ditches round the ground where the archers stood, to secure their
position. They were much straitened for want of provisions, as they
could not without danger move from their place to seek them. The French,
on the other hand, were well supplied, and spent the day in the midst of
plenty. When the Prince saw on Monday morning that the battle was
inevitable, and knew with what contempt the French regarded him and his
men, he spoke thus to his army: "Now, my gallant fellows, what though we
be a small body when compared to the army of our enemies, do not let us
be cast down on that account, for victory does not always follow
numbers, but where the Almighty God pleases to bestow it. If through
good fortune the day shall be ours, we shall gain the greatest honour
and glory in this world; if the contrary should happen, and we be slain,
I have a father and beloved brethren alive, and you all have some
relations or good friends, who will be sure to revenge our deaths. I
therefore beg you exert yourselves and fight manfully, for if it please
God and St. George you shall see me this day act like a true knight."
With these and other words the Prince and his marshals encouraged the
men, so that they were all in high spirits.

Then the Prince retired a little way apart, and kneeling down, prayed,
"Father Almighty, as I have ever believed that Thou art King over all
kings, and that for us upon the cross Thou wert content to suffer death
to save us from the pains of hell; Father, who art very God and very
man, be pleased for Thy holy name to guard me and my people from ill,
even as, O heavenly Father, Thou knowest that I have good cause." Then
he was ready to fight. Sir John Chandos placed himself near the Prince
to guard and advise him, and never during that day would he on any
account quit his post.

As the battle was about to begin, Sir James Audley came to the Prince,
and told him that he had made a vow, that if ever he should be engaged
in any battle where the King or any of his sons were, he would be
foremost in the attack, and the best combatant on their side, or die in
the attempt. Now he begged permission to leave the Prince's side, and
perform his vow. The Prince consented; and holding out his hand to him,
said, "Sir James, God grant that this day you may shine in valour above
all other knights." Sir James then proceeded to the front, attended only
by four squires. He was a prudent and a valiant knight, and the order in
which the army had been arranged was owing in great part to his advice.

The French now began to advance. Before reaching the battalion of the
Prince they must pass up the narrow lane, where scarce three men could
walk abreast, the sides of which were lined with rows of archers. It was
certain death for those who advanced first; but the French knights were
brave, and did not fear death. Two French marshals commanding a body of
cavalry fearlessly entered the lane; but as soon as they were well
enclosed, the archers let loose their flight of arrows. A deadly and
persistent shower came from each side of the lane. The French horses,
smarting under the pain of the wounds made by the arrows, would not
advance, but turned about, and were so unruly as to throw their masters,
who could not manage them. So great was the confusion, that those who
had fallen could not get up again. Trampled upon by the terrified horses
and wounded by the arrows, they lay writhing on the ground in agony.
Some few knights were so well mounted that, by the strength of their
horses, they passed through and broke the hedge, but still could not
succeed in getting up to the battalion of the Prince. Sir James Audley
stood in front of it with his four squires, performing prodigies of
valour, and stayed not to make any prisoners.

The first battalion of the French was completely routed; for the English
men-at-arms rushed in upon them as they were struck down by the archers,
and seized and slew them at their pleasure. As this French battalion
fell back, it prevented the main body of the army from advancing. The
next battalion was commanded by the Duke of Normandy, King John's
eldest son. It was seized by wild terror at seeing the retreat of the
first battalion, and many knights mounted their horses and started off
in flight. A body of English came down from the hill, and attacking
their flank, completed their terror. The English archers shot so quickly
and well that the French did not know which way to turn themselves to
avoid their arrows.

Little by little the English men-at-arms advanced under cover of the
shower of arrows sent by their archers. When they saw the first French
battalion beaten, and the second in disorder, they mounted their horses,
which they held by their bridles, and raised a shout of "St. George for
Guienne." Sir John Chandos said to the Prince, "Sir, now push forward;
for the day is ours. God will this day put it in your hand. Let us make
for the King of France. Where he is will lie the main stress of the
business. His valour will not let him fly. He will be ours, if it please
God and St. George; but he must be well fought with. You have before
said that you will show yourself this day a good knight." The Prince
answered, "John, get forward; you shall not see me turn my back this
day; for I will always be among the foremost."

As they advanced the battle grew very hot, and was greatly crowded. Many
a one was unhorsed. The battalion of the Duke of Normandy, on seeing the
Prince's approach, hastened their flight. The King's three sons, who
commanded it, were advised to fly, and galloped away. Many others
followed their example, though there were not wanting some brave knights
who preferred death to flight. Then the King's battalion advanced in
good order. The King and his knights had dismounted. They despaired of
the day, but were determined at least to save their honour. Fighting on
foot, it was hard to resist the shock of the English men-at-arms; but
the King fought with desperate bravery, and by his side fought his
little son Philip, a boy of fifteen, who warned his father against
unexpected blows. The bravery of the boy on that day earned for him the
surname of _le hardi_, the bold. He is that Philip le Hardi afterwards
so well known as Duke of Burgundy.

King John proved himself a good knight; if the fourth of his people had
behaved as well, the day would have been his own. Round him his knights
too fought with great courage. Many were slain at his side, and others
were obliged to yield themselves prisoners. The King himself was twice
wounded in the face, but still fought bravely on. Many of the English
who knew him pressed round in eagerness to take him, crying out,
"Surrender yourself, or you are a dead man." He was getting very roughly
treated, when a young knight, called Denys Morbeque, forced his way
through the medley, and bade the King surrender to him. Then the King
turned to him, and said, "To whom shall I surrender myself? Where is my
cousin, the Prince of Wales? If I could see him I would speak to him."
"Sire," answered Denys, "he is not here; but surrender yourself to me,
and I will lead you to him." Then the King asked who he was; and on
learning, gave him his right hand glove, and said, "I surrender myself
to you."

Meanwhile the Prince of Wales had been fighting with the courage of a
lion. Sir John Chandos, who had never left his side, now said to him,
"Sir, it will be right for you to halt here, and plant your banner on
the top of this bush, that you may rally your scattered forces. I do not
see any banners or pennons of the French. They cannot rally again, and
you must refresh yourself a little, as you are very much heated." Then
the banner of the Prince was placed on a high bush. The minstrels began
to play, and the trumpets and clarions to sound. The Prince took off his
helmet to cool himself, and his attendants soon pitched a small pavilion
of crimson cloth, into which he entered. Wine was given him and his
knights to drink. Every minute fresh knights kept arriving. They were
returning from the pursuit, which was carried even to the gates of
Poitiers, and now stopped with their prisoners at the Prince's tent. The
Prince asked eagerly for news of the King of France. None had seen him
leave his battalion; he must be either killed or a prisoner. Immediately
the Prince ordered two of his barons, the Earl of Warwick and Lord
Cobham, to ride off and learn what they could about the King. They soon
came upon a crowd of men-at-arms, English and Gascon, who had snatched
the King of France from the knight who had first taken him, and were now
disputing who should have him. The King, feeling himself in danger,
entreated them to take him and his son in a courteous manner to the
Prince, as he was great enough to make them all rich. The two barons
forced their way through the crowd, and ordered them, under pain of
instant death, to retreat. Then dismounting they greeted the King with
profound reverence, and led him quietly to the Prince's tent. The Prince
on seeing his royal prisoner made him a low bow, and gave him such
comfort as he could. He ordered wine and spices to be brought, and
himself waited on the King.

The battle had begun at nine in the morning, and was over at noon. But
not till dusk did the English return from the pursuit of their enemies.
So great was the number of prisoners, that the English feared that it
might be difficult to keep them all, and thought it wiser to ransom a
great part of them on the spot. Such was the confidence inspired by
chivalry in a man's word, that many were released on their promise of
coming to Bordeaux before Christmas to pay their ransom. No fewer than
seventeen counts were among the prisoners, and six thousand men lay dead
upon the field. The English encamped that night on the battle-field
amidst the dead. Many of them had hardly tasted bread for three days.
Now they had abundance of all things, for the French had brought great
stores of provisions with them. Besides provisions, they gained also
quantities of gold and silver plate, rich jewels, and furred mantles.
The French army had come, confident of victory, provided with
magnificent dresses and luxuries of all kinds.

That evening the Prince of Wales gave a supper in his pavilion to the
King of France. The food served had all been taken from the French, as
the English had nothing. The French King, with his son and his principal
barons, was seated at the chief table, and was waited upon by the Prince
himself, who showed every mark of humility. He would not sit down at the
table, though pressed to do so, but said that he was not worthy of so
great an honour; nor did it become him to seat himself at the table of
so great a King, or of so valiant a man as he had shown himself by his
actions that day. He did his utmost to cheer the King, saying, "Dear
sir, do not make a poor meal because the Almighty God has not gratified
your wishes in the event of this day. Be assured that my father will
show you every honour and friendship in his power, and will arrange your
ransom so reasonably that you will henceforward always remain friends.
In my opinion, you have cause to be glad that the success of this battle
did not turn out as you desired; for you have this day acquired such
high renown for prowess, that you have surpassed all the best knights on
your side. I do not say this, dear sir, to flatter you; for all on our
side who saw the deeds of both parties agree that this is your due, and
award you the prize and garland for it." This little speech was greeted
with murmurs of applause from every one. The French said the Prince had
spoken nobly and truly, and that he would be one of the most gallant
princes in Christendom, if God should grant him life to pursue his
career of glory.

After supper the English repaired to their several tents, each taking
with him the knights or squires he had captured. They soon came to
agreement about ransoms, as the English lords were not greedy in their
demands, and asked no more than each man declared he could pay. The next
morning they rose early and heard mass. After breakfast, whilst the
servants packed up the baggage, their lords decamped, and the army began
its march to Bordeaux.

The Minorites of the convent of Poitiers took upon themselves the
melancholy task of burying the dead. The bodies were carried in carts,
and buried in large graves in their churchyard. Funeral masses were sung
in all the churches and convents of the town of Poitiers, at the cost of
the good citizens of the town.

So was fought the great battle of Poitiers, a signal instance of what a
small force can do when skilfully posted and fighting for its life. The
French army failed through their excess of confidence in their proud
strength. The first rebuff was so unexpected that it struck terror into
the whole army, and made them fly before a quarter of their number had
been really engaged in battle. Of the English, few fought more bravely
than Sir James Audley, who was badly wounded. The Prince inquired for
him after the battle, and caused him to be carried in a litter to the
spot where he was standing. Then he bent down over him and embraced him,
saying that he had acquired glory and renown above them all, and proved
himself the bravest knight. As a reward, he endowed him with a yearly
income of five hundred marks. This pension Sir James afterwards divided
between the four squires who had fought so bravely with him; and when
the Prince learnt this, he praised him much for his generosity.

Bravest, and at the same time most modest, of all the knights was the
Prince himself. Two letters are still preserved in which he gives an
account of the battle, one to the Bishop of Worcester, and one to the
city of London. In each he tells the simplest story of his victory,
taking no credit to himself. In his letter to the city of London, after
describing the events which led up to the battle of Poitiers, he says,
"For default of victuals, as well as for other reasons, it was agreed
that we should take our way, flanking them in such manner, that if they
wished for battle, or to draw towards us in a place that was not very
much to our disadvantage, we should be the first; and so forthwith it
was done. Whereupon battle was joined on the eve of the day before St.
Matthew (21st September), and, God be praised for it, the enemy was
discomfited, and the King was taken and his son, and a great number of
other great people were both slain and taken, as our chamberlain, the
bearer hereof, who has very full knowledge thereon, will know how more
fully to inform and show you, as we are not able to write to you."


Triumphal Return to England.

On leaving the battle-field of Poitiers, the little army of English,
with many prisoners and rich booty, did not venture to attack any
fortress on their way to Bordeaux; it would be honour enough to take
back in safety the King of France and his son, and all the gold and
silver and jewels they had won. They proceeded by slow marches, as they
were heavily laden. They met with no resistance. The whole country was
subdued by terror, and the men-at-arms retreated into the fortresses.

When the Prince drew near to Bordeaux, all the people came out to
welcome him. First came the college of Bordeaux, in solemn procession,
bearing crosses and chanting thanksgivings. They were followed by all
the dames and damsels of the town, both old and young, with their
attendants. The Prince led the King to the monastery of St. Andrew,
where they both lodged, the King on one side and the Prince on the
other. The citizens and the clergy made great feasts for the Prince,
and showed much joy at his victory. Soon after his arrival the Cardinal
of Perigord came to Bordeaux as ambassador from the Pope, who sent a
letter to the Black Prince, exhorting him to use his victory moderately,
and to make peace. During the following winter the Black Prince stayed
at Bordeaux, where he and his Gascon and English soldiers passed the
time in feasting and merriment, and lavishly spent all the gold and
silver they had gained. When the news of the battle of Poitiers was
brought to England, by a messenger bearing King John's helmet and coat
of mail, it was received with great rejoicings throughout the country.
Thanksgivings were offered up in all the churches, and bonfires were
made in every town and village.

As the spring drew near, the Prince began to make preparations for
taking his royal prisoners to England. When the season was sufficiently
advanced, he called together the chief Gascon lords, and told them what
preparations he had made, and how he was going to leave the country
under their care. But the Gascons were not at all pleased on learning
that he meant to take the King of France away with him to England. They
looked upon John as their prisoner, and did not wish to lose him. When
the Prince could not pacify them, Sir John Chandos and Lord Cobham, who
knew well how dearly the Gascons loved gold, advised him to offer them a
handsome sum of money. After receiving a hundred thousand florins the
Gascons consented that the King of France should depart. The Black
Prince embarked in a fine ship, taking with him some Gascon lords. The
King of France went in a ship by himself, so that he might be more at
his ease.

Before making up his mind to return to England the Black Prince had
concluded, on the 14th March, 1357, through the mediation of the Pope, a
truce of two years with the regency, which was ruling France during the
captivity of her King. He was thus able to leave Aquitaine without fear
of its being attacked by the French during his absence. The voyage to
England lasted eleven days and nights, and the little fleet reached
Sandwich on May 4th, 1357. The Prince, with his royal prisoners and his
attendants, remained two days at Sandwich that they might refresh
themselves after their voyage. Their next stopping-place was Canterbury,
which in those days none would pass without turning aside to worship at
the shrine of the famous martyr, St. Thomas of Canterbury, in the great
cathedral. Here the King of France and the Black Prince knelt, and
worshipped, and made their offerings. The second night they rested at
Rochester; the third night at Dartford.

As soon as Edward III. had heard of their arrival in England, he gave
orders for preparations to be made for their triumphal entry into
London. All the great gilds of the city were ordered to appear in
procession with the banners. The twelve great gilds, the Livery
Companies of the city, the Merchant Taylors, Goldsmiths, Leathersellers,
and the unions of the artificers of special crafts, were then at the
very summit of their wealth and importance. They possessed exclusive
privileges with regard to their special trade, which none might practise
except members of the gild. Admission into the gild was almost
impossible, as the aim of the gild brothers was to make their crafts
monopolies of a few families. These gilds were possessed of enormous
wealth, and ruled the city of London. So important were they, that
Edward III. himself, as well as the Black Prince, became members of the
gild of Merchant Taylors. Now the gilds were ordered to prepare a grand
reception for the Prince of Wales and his prisoners. Each gild went out,
headed by its warden, with its banners borne before. Mounted on
horseback, 1,000 of the chief citizens went out to Southwark to meet the

The King of France rode a splendid white courser; the Black Prince was
mounted on a little black hobby, and rode by the King's side. Escorted
by this great body of citizens, they entered London. First they had to
cross London Bridge, which was very different then from what it is now.
It was a stone bridge of twenty arches, with a large drawbridge in the
middle. On either side of the bridge was a row of high and stately
houses; in the middle was a Gothic chapel, dedicated to St. Thomas of
Canterbury. At either end was a fortified gateway with battlements and a
portcullis, and on the battlements were stuck the ghastly heads of
traitors. The procession passed over the bridge, watched by wondering
crowds, and on through the narrow streets, with their quaint overhanging
gabled houses, mostly built of wood. It proceeded up Cornhill, where the
corn merchants held their traffic, along Cheapside, past the Cathedral
of St. Paul's, and then along Fleet Street. Everywhere the houses were
decorated with tapestry hung outside the walls; and the rich citizens
exposed at their windows their splendid plate, and quantities of armour,
bows and arrows, and all kinds of arms. Through Temple Bar, the
procession passed out into the Strand, which then ran through green
fields to Westminster. Here and there, on either side of the road, were
the houses of the nobles and the bishops, surrounded by gardens. They
passed the Savoy Palace, one of the largest of these houses, which was
to be the abode of King John during his captivity, and Whitehall, then
the palace of the Archbishop of York. At last they came to Westminster.

So dense had been the crowd of spectators blocking the narrow streets
that the cavalcade could only advance very slowly; and though they had
entered the city at three o'clock in the morning, it was not till noon,
nine hours afterwards, that they reached Westminster. Edward III.
received them in Westminster Hall, seated on a throne, surrounded by
his prelates and barons. He greeted John with every possible honour and
distinction, descending from his throne to embrace him. He then led him
to partake of a splendid banquet prepared in his honour. That afternoon
the clergy of London came forth in procession, clad in their robes, and
bearing crosses in their hands, and marched through the streets, singing
psalms of praise. For two days prayers and thanksgivings were offered up
throughout London and Westminster.

King John had an apartment in the King's own palace at Westminster till
the Savoy Palace was prepared for him and his son. He was afterwards
removed to Windsor, and then to Hertford Castle. The winter after his
arrival splendid jousts were held in Smithfield. King John and his son,
as well as the French lords who had been brought as prisoners to
England, were allowed, on giving their parole, great liberty in England.
They amused themselves principally in hunting and hawking in the forests
around Windsor. The number of Frenchmen at that time in England led the
English courtiers to imitate French fashions. Before the taking of King
John the English used to wear beards, and their hair was cropped short
round their heads. Now they copied the French, and wore their hair in
flowing locks, and shaved their beards.

Edward III. and his Queen paid frequent visits to the King of France,
and often invited him to sumptuous entertainments, doing their utmost to
cheer and console him. Edward was anxious to release John as soon as
possible; but he asked such an enormous ransom, that it was hopeless to
obtain it, in the impoverished condition of France.

The state of France was indeed deplorable. The regent, Prince Charles
the Dauphin, had summoned the States General to meet at Paris, to do
something for the restoration of order and government. They proved very
unmanageable, and complained of the misgovernment of the country, of the
over taxation which had ruined the people, and of the wasteful
prodigality which had emptied the exchequer. The leading spirit in the
States General was Etienne Marcel, provost of the merchants of Paris. He
hoped to be able to set on foot all kinds of reforms, and succeeded in
releasing from prison Charles the Bad, King of Navarre. Charles had
managed to gain the sympathy of the people of Paris by his imprisonment,
which they looked upon as unjust. He now promised to befriend the
people's interests. He and Marcel harangued the populace of Paris, and
increased their zeal for reforms. Meanwhile the people in the country
were suffering the most horrible poverty. The barons, who had been taken
prisoners at Poitiers, returned on parole in haste to their estates, to
collect the money necessary for their ransom. To raise this money, all
the small possessions of the peasants on their estates were seized and
sold. Ruined by their lords, the peasants were next subject to the
cruelties of the free companies, which were now more numerous than ever.

After the battle of Poitiers, the disbanded French soldiers, the
soldiers of the King of Navarre, many Gascons, and even many English,
had formed themselves into companies. These were commanded, not by
common soldiers or by low-born persons, but by barons and nobles; one
was even commanded by the brother of the King of Navarre. In the absence
of their King, the barons seem to have broken loose from all restraint,
and ravaged the country at pleasure. These companies kept the whole land
in terror. They devasted the country, and sacked the cities; even Paris
trembled at their approach. The country people hid themselves in caves
in the earth to escape them. At last, driven to despair by hunger and
suffering, the peasants rose in fury. They attacked the castles,
plundered and burnt them, and murdered the nobles with their wives and
families. It was a terrible and desperate vengeance for the outrages and
oppressions of many centuries. The nobles had long spoken contemptuously
of the peasants as "Jacques bonhomme," and from this the rising of the
peasants was called the Jacquerie. It was soon crushed. The nobles,
forgetting all distinctions of party, turned as one man against the
peasants. Charles of Navarre laid aside his character of a popular
leader, and was foremost in massacring the revolted peasants. Marcel
alone tried to send them aid, as indeed it was in his interest to
support the people against the nobility.

The suppression of the revolt left the country in a more miserable
condition than before. Marcel's position in Paris was becoming
dangerous. He was besieged in the city by the army of the Dauphin, and
to save himself determined to give over the city into the hands of
Charles of Navarre. In the very act of giving up the keys he was
murdered by the partisans of the Dauphin, and died after having done
something for his country by the reforms which he had wrung from the
Dauphin. After his death the Dauphin entered Paris, but was powerless
until he consented to make peace with Charles of Navarre, for the whole
country was overrun by English and Navarrese soldiers.

The Dauphin was at Paris with his brothers. No merchants or others dared
to venture out of the city to look after their concerns or take any
journey, for they were attacked and killed whatever road they took. The
Navarrese were masters of all the rivers, and most of the cities. This
caused such a scarcity of provisions that we are told that a small cask
of herrings sold for thirty golden crowns, and other things in
proportion. Many died of hunger; salt was so dear that the inhabitants
of the large towns were greatly distressed for want of it. By a
reconciliation with the King of Navarre, the Dauphin hoped to free the
country from the ravages of the Navarrese soldiers, and to be able to
offer some resistance to the English.

But however deplorable the condition of France might be, it could hardly
be expected that it would accept peace on the conditions offered by the
English. The truce which had existed between England and France since
the battle of Poitiers came to an end on the 1st May, 1359. The King of
England and the Prince of Wales had a meeting with King John at
Westminster, and John showed himself willing to sign any treaty that was
proposed to him. The English demanded that all the country from Calais
to the Pyrenees, even Normandy and Anjou, should be given up to them,
and that four millions of golden florins should be paid as King John's
ransom. When this treaty was brought to France, the Dauphin assembled
the King of Navarre and others in a council of state, and laid it before
them. It was unanimously rejected. "We would rather endure," they
answered, "the great distress we are in at present than suffer the
kingdom of France to be diminished. King John must remain longer in
England." When Edward III. heard their answer, he said that before the
winter was over he would enter France with a powerful army, and remain
there until there was an end of the war by an honourable and
satisfactory peace.


The Peace of Bretigny.

England all this time was in a condition of peaceful prosperity; the
king and his court were amusing themselves with tournaments and hunting
parties. Edward III. determined to open the war again, and began his
preparations for leading a mighty army into France. Swarms of
adventurers of all nations gathered at Calais, and offered him their
services. The Duke of Lancaster was also to come to Calais, and bring
with him the English troops which had been fighting for the cause of the
De Montforts in Britany.

On 28th October, 1359, Edward sailed from Sandwich with an army such as
had not been raised in England for more than a hundred years. Froissart
tells us that there was not a knight or a squire, from the age of twenty
to sixty, who did not go. It is interesting to note, that amongst those
who took part in this expedition was Geoffrey Chaucer, then only a young
man, but destined to become famous as the first great name in our list
of English poets. The king took with him the Black Prince, and three of
his other sons, Lionel, John, and Edmund.

On landing at Calais, Edward proceeded to arrange his battalions, that
he might set off at once to meet the Duke of Lancaster. First marched
the King's battalion, and after it an immense baggage train, which
Froissart tells us was two leagues in length. It consisted of more than
five thousand carriages, drawn by horses, and carrying provisions for
the army. They were well provided with all kinds of things which no
English army had ever taken with it before, such as mills to grind their
corn, and ovens to bake their bread. After the King's battalion came the
battalion of the Prince of Wales, who was accompanied by his brothers.
The men-at-arms were all so richly dressed, and rode such fine horses,
that, says Froissart, it was a pleasure to look at them. Both they and
the archers marched in close order, that they might be ready to engage
at any moment, should it be necessary. With the army went five hundred
pioneers, with spades and pickaxes to level the roads, and cut down
trees and hedges, so that the carriages might pass easily. The Duke of
Lancaster's battalion joined them soon after leaving Calais, and the
three battalions proceeded on their march into the heart of France.

They did not advance very quickly, as they had to let all the waggons
keep pace with them. They found no provisions on their way, as
everything had been carried off to supply the garrisons. Moreover the
country had been so pillaged and destroyed that the ground had not been
cultivated for three years. They had hoped to refresh themselves in the
vineyards, and lay in stores of the new wine; but the season was so
rainy that the grapes were worth nothing. Day and night the rain fell in
torrents; but, in spite of all difficulties, and though winter was
coming on, they pressed on to Rheims, avoiding all the other strong
towns; for it was Edward's ambition to be crowned at Rheims, in the
cathedral where the kings of France were always crowned.

Rheims was a strong town, and was well defended by its archbishop.
Edward wished to reduce it by a long siege, not to storm it, for he was
careful of his men. The English army therefore quartered itself in
different villages round the town. The King, the Black Prince, and the
Duke of Lancaster each kept their court in different places, and had
great households. Many of the counts and barons were not so comfortable,
as the rainy weather still continued, and their horses were badly housed
and ill fed. There was a great scarcity of corn of all kinds. One of the
English knights succeeded in taking a little town near Rheims, in which
he found three thousand butts of wine, great part of which he sent to
the King of England and his sons, to their great joy. The knights often
wearied of the siege, and went away on little expeditions by themselves,
and there were many brave passages of arms between them and the French.

For seven weeks Edward III. remained before Rheims, and then began to
tire of the siege. It was hopeless to try and take the city by assault,
for it was well defended. Many of the horses had perished, owing to the
scarcity of fodder; so at last he determined to break up his camp. He
marched south from Rheims to Chalons and Tonnerre. At Tonnerre, he found
very good wines, and in order to enjoy them, stayed there five days. He
then went on further south still, to Flavigny, where he spent the whole
of Lent, because there was a good store of provisions there. His light
troops scoured the country, and constantly brought in fresh provisions.
The men-at-arms amused themselves in many different ways. They had
brought with them from England a number of boats, made, says Froissart,
surprising well, of boiled leather; these would hold three men, who
could then go fishing in little rivers and lakes. They were able to
catch a great deal of fish, which was very useful, as during Lent,
according to the rules of the Church, no meat might be eaten. The King
had with him thirty falconers on horseback, with their hawks, sixty
couple of strong hounds and as many greyhounds, and amused himself every
day with hunting and hawking. Many of his lords also had their hawks and

Flavigny was in the Duke of Burgundy's dominions. He was a vassal of the
King of France, but in reality ruled like an independent prince. He
therefore sent ambassadors, and made a treaty with Edward, so that his
country might not be destroyed. When the treaty was signed the English
army broke up their camp, and went on towards Paris by forced marches.

Whilst Edward was in Burgundy, England had been alarmed by the
appearance of a French fleet, which ravaged the English coast, and even
took and pillaged Winchelsea. With great difficulty the English
succeeded in raising a small fleet, before which the French retired, and
the English revenged themselves for the French outrages by ravaging the
coast of France. When news of this French invasion reached Edward, it
must doubtless have made him more anxious than ever to force a peace
from the French, so that he might not lose any of the advantages which
he had already won. He established himself at a short distance from
Paris, and sent heralds to the Dauphin, who was in the city, offering
him battle; but the Dauphin would not venture outside the walls of
Paris. This greatly enraged the King, and he allowed Sir Walter Manny
and other knights to assault the barriers of Paris; but they could not
do much, as the city was well defended. The army was exhausted by the
sufferings endured on account of the rainy winter, and the scarcity of
provisions. Edward determined, therefore, to take them along the Loire
to Britany to recruit and refresh themselves; and then after the
vintage, which promised to be a very good one, to bring them again to
lay siege to Paris.

Meanwhile, Pope Innocent VI. had been doing his utmost to persuade the
Dauphin to make peace, who at last consented to send commissioners after
the King of England to try and arrange terms. It was hard to persuade
Edward to give up his ambition to be king of France; but at last he
listened to the arguments of his cousin, the Duke of Lancaster, whom he
much loved and trusted, and who showed him how doubtful it was that he
could hope to succeed in his ambitious desires, whilst the war might
easily last out his lifetime.

Froissart tells us that a sudden storm of hail and thunder so frightened
the English army, that they thought the world was come to an end.
Edward, looking upon it as a judgment from God, vowed to the Virgin to
accept terms of peace.

At last, at the little village of Bretigny, near Chartres, a treaty was
signed on May 8th, 1360. This peace, known as the peace of Bretigny, is
most important in history; it serves as a sort of landmark in the midst
of the wars and struggles of the middle ages. In this treaty Edward
promised to give up for ever his claim to the throne of France, and to
all the dominions of the Angevine kings north of the Loire--Anjou,
Maine, Tourraine, and Normandy; he retained only Calais. On the other
hand, the kings of France were to give up for ever all right of exacting
homage for the English provinces of Guienne and Gascony. Britany was
not included in the treaty, and England and France were both at liberty
to assist either of the competitors for the Duchy. King John was to be
ransomed for 3,000,000 golden crowns, equal to about £30,000,000 of our
money, a part of which was to be paid at once, and hostages given for
the remainder.

When the treaty was signed, Edward and his son immediately hastened to
England. They then accompanied King John to Calais that the final
conference with the Dauphin might be held. After many more discussions,
the peace was ratified. When all was arranged, and the hostages had
arrived at Calais, who were to go to England till John's ransom was all
paid, Edward gave a magnificent supper to King John in the castle. The
King's sons, and all the greatest barons of England, waited bareheaded
on the two kings. After the supper, Edward and John took leave of one
another in the most affectionate manner. The Black Prince accompanied
John to Boulogne. They went on foot, as the French king wished to make a
pilgrimage to our Lady of Boulogne. There they met the Dauphin, and all
went together to the church and made their offerings, and afterwards to
the abbey of Boulogne, where the Black Prince spent the day with the
French, and returned next day to Calais. The English were not long in
returning to England, taking with them all the French hostages.

Amongst these hostages were two sons of King John, the Dukes of Anjou
and Berry, and his brother, the Duke of Orleans. Edward commanded his
officers and courtiers to treat them courteously, and to be very careful
to preserve peace with them, as they were under his care. They were
allowed a great deal of liberty, and might go where they liked in the
city of London and its neighbourhood. Froissart tells us that "they
hunted and hawked according to their pleasure, and rode out as they
pleased to visit the ladies without any constraint, for the king was
right courteous and amiable."

The King of France was most joyfully welcomed by his subjects on his
return. When he reached Paris, all the clergy came out to meet him, and
conducted him to the palace, where he and his nobles partook of a
magnificent dinner. So overjoyed were both people and nobles to see him,
that they all made him rich gifts and entertained him at sumptuous

There was a good deal of difficulty in carrying out the articles of the
treaty of Bretigny. Many of the French towns and strongholds which had
to be given over to the English objected very strongly, and the King of
France had to use much persuasion before they would consent to yield.
The town of La Rochelle only yielded with difficulty, the principal
inhabitants of the town saying, "We will honour and obey the English,
but our hearts shall never change." On the other hand there were many
small towns and fortresses in France which were held by English and
Gascon nobles. These had to be given up to the King of France, and the
soldiers who were turned out thought they could not better employ
themselves than by forming themselves into robber bands, and pillaging
the country. More than ever was France overrun by the free companies.
The King of France was at last obliged to send an army against the
largest of these companies, called the "Great Company;" but they
defeated his army, and proceeded to threaten the Pope in Avignon, who
was obliged to hire soldiers to oppose them.

Edward had appointed Sir John Chandos as regent and lieutenant of his
possessions in France; and in the name of the King of England, Chandos
received the homage of the nobles of Poitou, and the Duchy of Aquitaine.
He made Niort his head-quarters, and kept a great establishment there.
He was a brave and accomplished knight, amiable and sweet-tempered, and
was beloved and esteemed by the king, and all who knew him.


Edward III.'s Jubilee.

The Christmas after the treaty of Bretigny was spent by Edward and his
court with great splendour at Woodstock. When the holidays were over,
the king went to Winchester, where he had summoned his Parliament to
meet him on the 24th of January, 1361. He told them all the articles of
the peace concluded between him and the King of France, with which they
expressed themselves entirely satisfied. On the last day of January the
Archbishop of Canterbury celebrated the mass of the Holy Trinity in the
presence of the Court and Parliament, returning thanks for the peace.
After the mass, torches were lighted and crosses held up over the
Eucharist, the King and his sons standing up in the presence of the
French hostages. Then all those lords who had not yet sworn to keep the
peace took their oath, and signed a solemn declaration that they would
observe all the conditions.

The Black Prince was now thirty-one years of age, and still unmarried.
Struck, it is said, by the beauty of his cousin, Joan of Kent, he
obtained the consent of his father to marry her. Joan was of the blood
royal of England, being daughter of Edmund, Earl of Kent, son of Edward
I. She had already been twice married, and was now a widow, and
thirty-three years of age, somewhat older than the Black Prince. Her
great beauty had won for her the name of the Fair Maid of Kent, and
there is no reason to suppose that she had lost any of her charms at the
time of her marriage to the Black Prince. The marriage took place on the
10th October, 1361, and in the following year, on the 14th July, Edward
III. solemnly invested the Black Prince with the principality of
Aquitaine and Gascony, giving him the title of Duke of Aquitaine.

The peace and prosperity of England was disturbed in 1362 by a second
outbreak of the plague, which lasted from August till May. It was not so
destructive as it had been the first time; but it seems to have been
more fatal amongst the higher ranks of society. Amongst others, the
king's cousin, the Duke of Lancaster, died of it. He left behind him
only two daughters; the elder had been married to the Earl of Hainault,
and the younger, Blanche, had married, in 1359, Edward's third son, John
of Gaunt. Blanche, on the death of her elder sister, became heiress of
all her father's great wealth, and it is in her right that John of Gaunt
became Duke of Lancaster.

This marriage of John of Gaunt has a special interest to us, as it is
said to have inspired one of Chaucer's earliest poems, the _Assembly of
Foules; or, The Parliament of Birds_. The origin of the connexion
between Chaucer and John of Gaunt is not known, but it seems to have
begun early in the poet's life.

Geoffrey Chaucer was the son of a London vintner, and seems most
probably to have been born in 1340. The facts of his early life are
involved in obscurity, and we do not know whether his education was due
to the wealth and enlightened views of his father, or to his having been
early taken under royal patronage. John of Gaunt was never a popular man
in English history, but he seems to have had the capacity of attracting
to him the great literary characters of his age, for we know that both
Chaucer and Wiclif were intimately connected with him.

Poetry had at that time become very fashionable, and was cultivated,
more especially in France, by men of the highest rank. Chaucer
therefore, though of humble birth, might hope to raise himself by his
genius to be the friend even of a royal prince. If the date assigned to
the _Assembly of Foules_, 1358, be a true one, it must rank as one of
his earliest poems. He was then only eighteen years of age, but there
are no signs of an unripe intellect about the poem. It is full of the
freshness and life which always remained such distinguishing
characteristics of Chaucer.

The poet has fallen asleep over his book, and he dreams that he is led
into a beautiful park, "walled with Green stone." With a few of his
light, delicate touches he brings before us the whole scene, the "trees
clad with leaves that air shal last," the garden "full of blossomed bow
is;" it is the orderly, sweet, fresh landscape that the mediæval poet
loved. At last he came to the spot where all the birds were gathered
together before the noble goddesse Nature, that, since it was Saint
Valentine's day, each might choose his mate. Perched on Nature's hand
was a beautiful female eagle, by whom the poet is supposed to have
signified the Lady Blanche of Lancaster. Three eagles dispute vehemently
as to which of them shall be her mate, and Nature refers the question to
the assembly of birds. Each kind of bird chooses a representative to
speak for them, and in the speeches of the different birds there is
ample scope for Chaucer's playful humour and irony. Characteristic of
the spirit of chivalry is the great deference paid by the suitors to the
lady herself. She is the "soveraine lady," whom the royal eagle
beseeches to be his "through her mercy." No constraint is to be put on
her choice, and Nature, as judge, decides that she shall have him on
whom her heart is set. She bashfully asks for a year's respite in which
to make her choice.

This charming little poem may almost be taken as a type of the
excellencies of Chaucer. It shows us his love of nature, his vivacity,
his humour. Like all that he has written, it reflects faithfully the
spirit of his age, and breathes the very atmosphere of chivalry.

Chaucer was no doubt strongly influenced by the French Trouvères. Though
first amongst the great English poets, he was an outcome of the poetic
movement which had been going on for two centuries in the south of
France and in Italy. He was the English representative of the great
burst of mediæval poetry, but came late in its development, and
originated no great movement in England. He had some few successors and
imitators; but after his death there is no great name in English
literature till the revival of letters under the Tudors.

It is not difficult to see how French influences were brought to bear
upon Chaucer. In those days there was constant intercourse between
France and England. Chaucer himself went to France, as we have seen,
with the royal army, in 1359, and remained there a year, till he was
ransomed by Edward III. He also later on in his life visited Italy, and
was intimately acquainted with the writings of Bocaccio and Petrarch,
from whom he borrowed largely. But it was from the French Trouvères that
he received his great impulse; he belonged to their school, and adopted
their form and imagery. One of his first works was a translation of the
_Romance of the Rose_. Yet he was no imitator. He was inspired by the
spirit of the Trouvères, but every thing he did is stamped with his own
strong individuality, and has a decidedly English character. His
greatest work, the _Canterbury Tales_, is most distinctively English.

He wrote another poem on the occasion of the death of the Duchess
Blanche, in 1369, called the _Book of the Duchess_, in which he
expresses the grief of the Duke of Lancaster. The setting of this poem
is again quite in the character of the Trouvères. He employs his
favourite machinery of a dream, which opens with the singing of birds on
a May morning as

            "They sat along
    Upon my chamber roof without,
    Upon the tiles over all about,
    And songen everych in his wise
    The mosté solemné servise
    By note that ever man I trow
    Had heard."

He gives us an interesting picture of a mediæval room by describing that
in which he lay. It was painted all over with frescoes illustrating the
Romance of the Rose, and the windows were filled with beautiful painted
glass, on which was wrought the history of the siege of Troy. As he lies
in bed he hears the sound of a horn, and jumps up that he may follow the
hunt. Then, as he wanders through the wood, he comes upon a knight
sitting mourning at the foot of an oak tree. This of course is John of
Gaunt who with bitter tears deplores the death of his lady.

Chaucer continued all through his life to find a powerful friend in John
of Gaunt. To his influence he doubtless owed various offices, which he
held at different times. He was several times sent abroad on secret
affairs of state, and at last obtained a permanent office in London,
with a salary, and besides had a pension granted to him. His connexion
with John of Gaunt was strengthened by the fact that his wife's sister,
Katherine Swynford, who had been in the service of the Duchess Blanche,
first became the Duke's mistress, and afterwards his third wife.

The advantage of such a patron to the poet must have been great, as it
relieved him from all anxiety about money, and permitted him to devote
most of his energy to his art.

We cannot overestimate what Chaucer did for the English language. Before
his time French was the common language of the court, the schools, the
law courts, and all the higher classes of society. The dialects spoken
in different parts of England differed widely from one another, and it
remained a question which of these dialects should triumph and form the
cultivated English language. It was Chaucer who decided this question.
It was his language that was to become the standard of English. This was
due to the force of his genius, which made men feel the beauty, the
power, and the capacities of the language which he used, so that
insensibly it became the language of all cultivated men. And as the
English language developed, it triumphed over the French. One of the
acts, which commemorated Edward III.'s jubilee, is an edict in which he
said, that as the French tongue "was much unknown in the country," all
pleas should be henceforth in English.

On the 14th November, 1362, Edward III. celebrated his jubilee; that is,
his fiftieth birthday. In honour of the day he proclaimed a general
pardon, and set all prisoners at liberty, and recalled all exiles. To
commemorate it still further, he conferred various dignities upon his
sons. Lionel was made Duke of Clarence; John of Gaunt was solemnly
raised to the dignity of Duke of Lancaster. The king in full Parliament
girt him with a sword, and set upon his head a cap of fur, and a circlet
of gold and pearls. Edmund, the fourth son, was made Earl of Cambridge.

This was the climax of Edward's prosperity. On his fiftieth birthday he
might look back upon his life, and say that fortune had indeed favoured
him; but from henceforth things did not go so well. Misfortunes and
troubles marked the last years of his life, and in the end he was
destined to lose almost all that he had won. It is not difficult to see
how this came about. Edward III. was a brave and accomplished knight, a
man full of energy and interests, anxious to protect commerce and
manufacture, to increase the wealth of his people, and to win glory for
himself by his wars; but he had no great purpose in his life. He
collected mighty armies, at an enormous expense, and led them into the
enemy's country without any definite scheme of what he meant to do. His
own bravery and that of his soldiers enabled him to win great victories;
but not content with grasping firmly what he had once got, he indulged
in an ambitious dream of one day winning the crown of France. Even when
the peace of Bretigny had secured to him the great Duchy of Aquitaine,
neither he nor the Black Prince had sufficient political wisdom to take
such steps as would have preserved it for the English Crown. They had
won it, but they could not keep it.

Over the joy of Edward's jubilee there hung no shadow of distrust for
the future. The next year the Black Prince was to go and take up his
abode in his new Duchy of Aquitaine, and the months before his departure
were filled up with hunting parties in the royal forests, which were
conducted with the greatest possible magnificence, and with no sparing
of expense. The king and queen, with their children, spent Christmas at
the Black Prince's manor of Berkhampstead, near London. Here were many
jousts and tournaments, and all the usual Christmas games and

The general extravagance and love of dress must have increased to an
alarming extent; for the next year is marked by a sumptuary statute,
which aimed at diminishing extravagance and high prices. It decreed that
each merchant was to deal only with one sort of merchandise, which he
must choose before the feast of Candlemas. Handicraftsmen also were to
practise only one "mystery," as the trades were then called, exceptions
only being allowed in the case of women workers. The goldsmiths were to
make their work sterling, and each master goldsmith was to have his own
mark. His work must be assayed by the royal surveyors, who were to put
the king's mark on it, and then the goldsmith was to put his own mark.
No goldsmith might make both gold and silver plate. The prices at which
he was to sell his work were fixed.

The statute went on to regulate matters of mere personal expenditure. It
ordained that the poor were "to eat and drink in the manner that
pertaineth to them, and not excessively;" that they were not to eat fish
or meat more than once a day. "Seeing that various people wore clothing
above their estate and degree," it ordained that the handicraftsmen and
yeomen were not to wear cloth above a certain price, and no silk and
embroidery, ribands or gold and silver ornaments. The ploughmen and all
agricultural labourers were only to wear tunics of blanket or russet,
with girdles of linen. Above all, no one except persons of the highest
rank was to wear fur or pearls.

The statute was not prompted by any feeling of the evils of luxury
amongst the ruling classes. About the time of its promulgation
Archbishop Simon Islip issued a "Remonstrance against the abuses, the
foppery, and extravagance of the court." The upper classes had no
intention of reforming their own extravagance; but they wished to have
the monopoly of all luxuries, and they fancied that the more extensive
use of fine clothes and various kinds of victuals greatly increased
their price. These sumptuary laws show with what bitter jealousy the
nobility regarded the growing wealth and prosperity of the merchant

The burghers of London were indeed becoming very rich and powerful.
About this time Henry Picard, a vintner, the Lord Mayor of London,
sumptuously feasted Edward III., the Black Prince, David Bruce (King of
Scotland), the King of Cyprus (who had come to ask Edward's help against
the Turks), and many nobles. Afterwards he kept open house to any who
liked to play at dice or hazard with him, whilst his wife, the Lady
Margaret, received the ladies in her upper room. The King of Cyprus
engaged in play with Picard, and won fifty marks; but Picard was a good
player, and soon won back more than he had lost, at which the King was
much vexed. He tried to hide his irritation; but Picard saw it, and said
to him, "My lord King, be not aggrieved, I covet not your gold but your
play, for I have not bid you hither that I might grieve you, but that,
amongst other things, I might try your play." Then he gave him his money
back again, and distributed more among his servants. He gave also many
rich gifts to Edward III., his son, and the knights who had dined with

At a later period the city bought a large quantity of plate to present
to the Black Prince, at a cost of £683 10s. 4d., which equals about
£10,252 of our money. Amongst other articles, all of silver, were ten
dozen porringers, five dozen saltcellars, and twenty chargers. There
were also three gilded basins, six gilded pots, a gilded cup in the form
of an acorn, and a pair of ivory bottles. The total number of articles
was 279.

Not only amongst the people at large, but still more at the English
court itself, had extravagance in dress and manner of living increased
at an enormous rate. Old English simplicity was more than ever
forgotten, and large sums of money were wasted on every side merely on
display in matters of food and clothing.

The remonstrance of Archbishop Islip attracted some attention, but
produced as little effect on the fashions of the day as did the
sumptuary laws just passed by Parliament. Display was characteristic of
Edward; and where the king set the example it was only likely that the
people would follow. The mass of the clergy were worse than the people.
They who ought to have set an example of greater sobriety and
simplicity, were especially renowned for their love of good eating and
fine clothes. Whilst they followed the chase, and gave themselves up to
pleasure of every kind, they left their people wandering as flocks
without shepherds.

A noticeable event occurred in the year 1362. Some of the French
hostages had begun to weary of their confinement, and asked Edward's
permission to go to Calais and make some excursions into the surrounding
country, promising never to be absent for more than four days at a time.
The king, believing that he might trust their promise, granted their
request; but the Duke of Anjou basely took advantage of this permission
to break his parole, and went off to Paris. His father, King John, was
so deeply grieved at this breach of faith that he determined to go back
himself to England as a prisoner in the place of his son who had

The English received him with great respect and courtesy, and he took up
his abode again at the Savoy Palace. Edward did all he could to make his
captivity pleasant; but he was seized with a mortal sickness, and died
three months after his return to England.


The Black Prince in Aquitaine.

When the Black Prince had been created Duke of Aquitaine, the barons and
knights of that country were very anxious that he should come and live
amongst them, and they often entreated the King that he would allow him
to do so. The English Parliament also, seeing the large sums of money
which were necessary to keep up the magnificent establishments of the
King and his sons in England, represented to Edward that if the Black
Prince were to set up his court in Aquitaine, that rich and fertile
country would supply all his expenses. The Black Prince himself was
nothing loath to go there, and set to work to make the necessary
preparations for his journey. His wife was to accompany him, as well as
many English barons and knights, and he intended to establish his court
in Aquitaine with all the magnificence of an independent prince.

Aquitaine had been now for more than two hundred years in the hands of
the English, and some of the English kings had given a good deal of
attention to means for promoting the prosperity of the country. Edward
I. had begun a course of policy which, if it had been continued, might
have done much to strengthen the ties which bound Aquitaine to England.
He had founded many new towns, which he endowed with special privileges,
so as to induce inhabitants to flock to them. As these towns owned no
intermediate lord, and owed all their privileges to the English Crown,
the inhabitants naturally regarded the English rule with favour. Edward
I.'s towns were all built on a regular plan, and to this day are
sometimes called English towns. When founded, they were called
_Bastides_. They had two parallel streets at a short distance from one
another, connected by many short narrow lanes. In the middle of the town
was the market-place, in one corner of which stood the church. Here was
the market-hall, with a great weighing machine to weigh the merchandise;
here also was the well or fountain of the town. The houses round the
market-place, as was the custom in southern climates, were built on
arcades, which protected the merchants from the hot rays of the sun
whilst conducting their business. In fifty years, fifty of these towns
had been founded. Many of them were named after the English officers who
superintended their foundation. Charters were given them, and as they
were free towns and had no over-lord, they were regarded with great
jealousy by the other towns. Libourne was the most important and
flourishing of these Bastides, and excited the jealousy of Bordeaux
itself. Edward III. renewed its charters, and further allowed its
inhabitants to have free trade with England, releasing them from all
custom dues at Bordeaux.

At the death of Edward I. the English ceased to found Bastides; but they
carried on a policy likely to be equally successful in winning the
affections of the people. They annexed to the crown a large number of
towns, freeing them from their over-lords, and granting them charters.
This freedom from over-lords was what all the towns in the middle ages
were struggling to get. As the towns had grown up on land belonging to
some baron, they owed him, like other inferior vassals, certain dues and
money payments. They had no corporate and independent existence until
they could obtain a charter of liberties from their over-lord. The
struggle of towns to obtain charters was going on in all countries
during the course of the middle ages. As a rule the monarchs favoured
the towns, hoping thereby to get their support and aid in their own
struggles against the nobles.

Edward III. committed a mistake by departing from the policy of his
predecessors, and giving back many of the towns in Aquitaine to the
chief Gascon lords, who belonged to the English party. He was anxious by
this means to win the aid of the nobles in his wars against France, but
he forgot that if he wished to keep any permanent hold on the Duchy of
Aquitaine he must secure the affections of the people. The nobles were
ready to fight for any one who would give them wealth and sufficient
opportunities for plunder, and France might easily outbid Edward. The
people could only be won by a wise and liberal government. The towns
could not hope for much from Edward. They saw him disregard their
dearest wishes and interests, and give them back into the hands of their

Aquitaine must have presented a flourishing appearance when the Black
Prince arrived to take up his abode there. The rich and fertile country
was covered with vineyards, and the Bastides of Edward I., with their
regular streets and fine market-places, had increased into flourishing
towns. The wine trade with England was carried on very vigorously;
though here as in many other cases Edward III.'s over-busy legislation
was a hindrance rather than a benefit. At one time he would allow no
English merchants to go to Gascony to buy wine, but enacted that all the
wine must be brought to England by Gascon merchants. When complaints
were raised that large quantities of wine lay unsold in Aquitaine for
want of English buyers, he revoked his prohibition, but forbade the
English merchants to carry the wine to any other country but England.
The Black Prince drew most of his revenue from the duties on wine, so
that it was of no small importance to him that the trade should

The Black Prince with his wife, the Princess Joan, and all his
followers, arrived at de Rochelle in the beginning of the year 1363.
Here they were met by Sir John Chandos, who had come from Niort to
receive them. He was followed by a large number of knights and squires,
who all greeted the Prince with great joy. They spent four days at
Rochelle in feastings and merriment, and then went to Poitiers, where
the prince received the homage of all the knights of Poitou and
Saintonge. Then he rode on to Bordeaux, and at every city on his way the
knights and barons crowded to do him homage.

At Bordeaux he and his wife established their court, and received all
the nobles of Aquitaine who came to pay him their respects. The court at
Bordeaux was very brilliant. The prince had his father's love for
feasting and fine clothes. Splendid merry-making was the fashion of the
age, and life at the Black Prince's court was a succession of revels and
tournaments. He was a right noble host, and knew how to make all around
him happy. "Never," says Chandos the Herald, "since the birth of Christ
was there such good and honourable entertainment. Every day at his table
he had more than eighty knights, and four times as many esquires. There
they made jousts and revels. Though all of them were subjects, yet were
they all free; for he made them quite welcome. All who were about his
person valued and loved him; for liberality was his staff, and nobleness
his director. Rightly might men say, that search the whole world you
could find no such prince." It is no wonder that the Gascon lords
crowded to this court. Even the greatest of them all, the Counts of Foix
and Armagnac, came to visit him, and they found that his court was as
splendid as that of the King of France himself.

But we must not let our eyes be dazzled by all this magnificence. To
meet the expenses of his court the Prince allowed the resources of the
country to be drained. Though we may admire his noble hospitality and
his princely courtesy to all comers, we cannot altogether consider him a
wise governor. His mind seems only to have been occupied with the desire
of making his court gay and pleasant, instead of furthering the true
interests of the people whom he was called upon to govern. Here again he
may be taken as a type of his age. We must not judge him by any standard
of our own, but by the standard of his days. But the time was fast
coming when it would be no longer possible for the rulers to forget the
interests of the people, when the people would at last succeed in making
their voice heard; and we shall see that at the end of his days the
Black Prince did not refuse to hear them.

In 1364 there were great rejoicings at the birth of the Prince's first
son Edward. This little Prince only lived to be seven years old: but in
1366 the Princess of Wales bore another son, called Richard of Bordeaux
from his birthplace, who ruled England as Richard II.

The Prince had not long set up his court at Bordeaux before it seemed
likely that peace would again be disturbed. In his new dominions he had
become the neighbour of Spain, and he was now called upon to interfere
in Spanish affairs.

Up to this time Spain had been of little importance in the general
affairs of Europe. The energies of its people had been entirely spent in
fighting one long crusade against their Moorish conquerors. The disunion
between the small Christian kingdoms long hindered their success against
the Moors. But in 1230 the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Leon were
united under one ruler, who, being wise and powerful, succeeded in
winning back a large territory from the Moslem. The Kings of Portugal
and Aragon had also been successful in the west and east of the
peninsula, and at last nothing was left of the Mahometan power in Spain
save the kingdom of Grenada.

It is easy to understand, that whilst the kingdoms of Spain were
disunited, and were engaged in this desperate struggle against the
Moors, on which their very existence as a nation depended, they had no
time to interfere in the affairs of Europe, and except for the connexion
of the Kings of Aragon with Naples and Sicily, remained almost entirely
outside European politics.

Now, however, things were more settled in Spain. It was divided into
five kingdoms, the four Christian kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Portugal,
and Navarre, and the Mahometan kingdom of Grenada. Of these Castile was
the largest, and had, from its neighbourhood to the Duchy of Aquitaine,
been connected with the Kings of England. A daughter of Henry II. of
England had been married to the King of Castile, and Edward I. had
married Eleanor of Castile, who had known well how to gain the love and
veneration of the English people. As Dukes of Aquitaine, it was the
policy of the English Kings to be on friendly terms with the Kings of
Castile. Contending commercial interests had provoked discord from time
to time, as we have seen in speaking of the great sea fight of
Winchelsea, when Edward III. defeated the fleet of the maritime cities
of Biscay; but this was in no way a quarrel between the two monarchs,
and their friendly relations remained unchanged.

So it happened that when the King of Castile, Don Pedro, was chased from
his throne on account of his cruelty and tyranny, he turned naturally to
the Black Prince, hoping to find in him a friend. He had been engaged to
marry the Prince's sister, the Princess Joan, who had died of the plague
at Bordeaux on her way to Spain. He called himself therefore the
Prince's brother-in-law, and considered that he had a claim to the
Prince's friendship.

This Don Pedro was cruel and wicked, and by his tyranny had gained the
hatred of his subjects. He had caused many of the proudest Spanish
nobles to be secretly assassinated or executed for some pretended
crime, and had even caused the death of his own wife, who was a French
Princess. Moreover, he was regarded with abhorrence by the Pope, because
he oppressed the Church, and lived on friendly terms with the Moorish
King of Grenada. The Pope therefore legitimatised his bastard brother,
Henry of Trastamare, a bold and valiant knight, and encouraged him to
wrest the kingdom from Don Pedro.

Henry had special reasons to hate Don Pedro; for one of the tyrant's
first victims had been Henry's mother, Leonora de Guzman; and it was
only with difficulty that Henry himself, and his brother Don Tello, had
escaped from Pedro's hands, when he seized and executed the other
members of their family.

Neither was it difficult for Henry of Trastamare to find friends and
supporters. Within his own dominions Pedro had no friends; and in
Charles V., who had been King of France since the death of his father
King John, Henry found a ready ally.

Charles had various reasons for animosity to Pedro. He resented bitterly
the murder of his kinswoman, Pedro's queen, and saw in Pedro an ally of
England. Charles V. was a wise and cautious man. Though he writhed under
the burdensome obligations of the peace of Bretigny, he felt that he was
not yet strong enough to reopen the war with England. Now he hoped that,
by aiding Henry of Trastamare, he might strike a blow at the English
power through their ally.

Another important reason influenced him in this direction. France, as we
have seen, was devastated by the Free Companies, who were daily growing
more powerful. The Pope at Avignon trembled before them, and it was
equally important to both Charles V. and the Pope to get rid of them.
The two therefore joined together in hiring these companies to aid
Henry. A treaty was concluded with the leaders of the companies, who
were only too glad to engage on a military expedition in which they
might hope for plenteous spoils. The French general, Bertrand Du
Guesclin, whose fame had grown in the Breton war, was ransomed from
captivity in Britany, that he might lead the Free Companies into Spain.
Amongst the chiefs of the companies were many English and Gascons, who
went in spite of Edward III.'s commands to the contrary. They marched
over the Pyrenees into Spain, and were met at Barcelona by Henry of

There was no one found to take up the cause of the hated Pedro, who lost
his throne without a battle, and was obliged to fly, with his two
daughters, to the fortress of Corunna, and then to Bayonne. Thence he
sent letters to the Black Prince, asking for his protection and aid.

We may be surprised that the Black Prince listened for a moment to the
entreaties of a man whose own crimes had lost him his throne, and whose
wickedness drew on him universal abhorrence. But, on the other hand,
there were many things which recommended Pedro to his pity. He was the
ally of England, and as a helpless fugitive asked for aid; it was always
the part of a true knight to succour the distressed. Again, there was a
very strong feeling in favour of the legitimate sovereign, however great
his crimes might be; and we cannot wonder at one ruler feeling sympathy
for the misfortunes of another. The whole situation appealed strongly to
the chivalric spirit of the Prince. As a Christian knight, it was his
duty, without any further thought of policy, to receive the fugitive
hospitably, and help him to win back his rightful inheritance.

Some motives of policy also came in to influence him. Should an ally of
France be placed on the throne of Castile, the Black Prince would be
awkwardly placed in Aquitaine, with a declared enemy on one side, and a
probable enemy on the other. Possibly also he indulged in some hope that
he might get substantial advantages from aiding Pedro, and that he might
even be able to annex the maritime province of Biscaya, with all its
thriving commercial cities, whose spirit of enterprise led them to
compete even with England herself.

Still the policy which could lead the Black Prince to help Pedro was not
very far-sighted. He might have seen that it would be impossible to
establish firmly on the throne a ruler so much hated as was Pedro. In
the end the opposite party must triumph, and then he would find that he
had embittered them against himself by helping their enemy. His wisest
course would have been to do all in his power to secure the friendship
of Henry of Trastamare; but this was opposed to all his feelings of what
was due to an ally in distress.

On receiving Don Pedro's letters, the Black Prince immediately sent for
Sir John Chandos and Sir William Felton, his chief advisers, and said to
them, smiling, "My lords, here is great news from Spain." He then told
them what he had heard, and begged them to tell him frankly what they
thought he ought to do. They advised him to send a body of soldiers to
bring Don Pedro safely to Bayonne, that they might learn his condition
from his own mouth. Their advice pleased the Prince, and he sent Sir
William Felton and a number of other knights to fetch Don Pedro. They
met him at Bayonne, and treating him with the utmost honour, brought him
to Bordeaux.

The Prince rode out of the town at the head of his knights to meet the
fugitive king. He greeted him respectfully, and led him into the city
with great courtesy. An apartment had been prepared for him, and in all
things he was treated with the honour due to a reigning sovereign.
Feasts and tournaments were held, and everything was done which could
make him forget his miserable condition. Don Pedro on his side did all
he could to attach the Prince to his interests. He had nothing but
promises to give, and of these he was most liberal, promising rich gifts
of money and lands to the Prince, and all his knights, if they would
help his cause.

There were not wanting wise men amongst the Prince's counsellors to
dissuade him from giving Don Pedro any help. They spoke to him of his
secure and prosperous condition, telling him that he could want for
nothing more, and that to try for more might endanger what he already
possessed. They showed him the unworthiness of Pedro, how he was an
enemy to religion, had oppressed his subjects, and was hated by all men.
But all this made no impression on the Prince. He could not shut his
eyes to Don Pedro's distress, nor forget that he had come as a fugitive
to ask his help. Before deciding upon anything, however, he assembled a
great council of all the barons of his duchy to ask their advice. Many
of the council were eager for the enterprise, as knights in those days
longed for anything which might win them honour. They agreed, however,
to send ambassadors to England, to ask the advice of the King.

When the answer came back, it appeared that Edward III. and his council
were clearly of the same opinion as the Prince. They advised him to aid
Don Pedro with all the force at his command. The expedition was
determined upon; but next arose the question of payment. The barons of
Aquitaine were not willing to engage in this enterprise at their own
expense. Don Pedro assured the Prince that there need be no difficulty
on this head; once restored to the throne of Castile, he would have
abundant treasure at his command, and would pay all the expenses of the
war. The Black Prince put such trust in his word, that he made himself
answerable for the expenses of the war, believing that Pedro would not
fail to pay him. Chandos and Felton, however, advised the Prince to melt
down some of his plate, of which he possessed an enormous quantity, for
immediate expenses. Swords and coats of mail were forged at Bordeaux in
preparation for the expedition.

Letters were sent to the leaders of the English Free Companies, who had
accompanied Henry of Trastamare into Spain, bidding them return and aid
in this expedition. It was a matter of perfect indifference to these
companies for whom they fought, provided they had pay and booty enough.
Though they had helped Henry of Trastamare to the throne, they were
quite willing to serve under the banner of the Black Prince, and to pull
down in turn the king whom they had set up.

It was necessary to obtain permission from the King of Navarre to pass
through his dominions, which lay between Aquitaine and Castile. Charles
the Bad had pledged himself to Henry of Trastamare not to let any troops
pass through his kingdom; but he was soon persuaded by the promise of a
large sum of money to break his word.


Spanish Campaign.

The troops were to collect at Dax for the expedition. The Black Prince
did his utmost to attach the Free Companies firmly to him, by
distributing amongst them the money which he had raised by melting down
his plate. His father, learning his want of money, had consented to send
him the yearly payment made by the French in consideration of the sum of
money still due for King John's ransom. This money also was distributed
amongst the companies.

On Wednesday, the feast of the Epiphany, when the Black Prince's
preparations for leaving Bordeaux were already complete, he was rejoiced
by the birth of his son Richard. He stayed to see his child baptized by
the Archbishop of Bordeaux, and on the following day his wife had to
take leave of him. She was filled with anxiety at his departure, as the
expedition was considered to be full of danger; and the herald Chandos
tells us that she bitterly lamented his departure, saying, "Alas! what
will happen to me if I shall lose the true flower of gentleness, the
flower of magnanimity--him who in the world has no equal to be named for
courage? I have no heart, no blood, no veins, but every member fails me
when I think of his departure." But when the Prince heard her
lamentation he comforted her, and said, "Lady, cease your lament, and be
not dismayed; for God is able to do all things." Then he took his leave
of her very tenderly, and said lovingly, "Lady, we shall meet again in
such case, that we shall have joy, both we and all our friends; for my
heart tells me this." Then they embraced with many tears, and all the
dames and damsels of the court wept also, some weeping for their lovers,
some for their husbands.

The Prince and his knights left Bordeaux on January 10th, and went to
Dax, where the troops were collecting. A few days afterwards, the
Prince's brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, arrived at Bordeaux
with a body of troops which he had brought from England to aid in the
expedition. He was welcomed with great joy by the Princess and her
ladies. He would not stay, however, but pressed on to Dax, where his
brother waited his coming. Froissart tells us that the two brothers were
very happy in this meeting, for they had much affection for each other;
and many proofs of affection passed between them and their men.

Meanwhile Henry of Trastamare had not been idle in preparing for this
invasion. All Spain was on his side, and the French King had sent
troops to his assistance under his general, Bertrand du Guesclin. Much
romance has been woven round the history of this famous man, who was to
be the arm by which Charles V. should free himself from the English, and
who himself, at one time the leader of a free company, was to deliver
France from the scourge of the companies. It is difficult in the story
of his life to separate truth from romance. He was a Breton, and in
those days it was said that none in France were good soldiers except the
Bretons and the Gascons. His origin is obscure, and he is supposed to
have been the son of a peasant. Even his most enthusiastic admirers
allow him to have been a rough, rude man, extremely ugly, of middle
height, with a dark complexion and green eyes, long arms and large
shoulders. As a tactician, he was far in advance of such simple soldiers
as Edward III. and the Black Prince. He had advanced beyond the ideas of
chivalry, where the one aim was to fight bravely. He preferred to win by
cunning, if possible, and did not care how often he broke his plighted
word. He was one of a new race of soldiers, who sought to win by tactics
rather than by hard fighting, to avoid a battle rather than risk one.
Still, if it were necessary to fight, he was always foremost, and knew
no fear. He gave no quarter, and thirsted for revenge against his foes.
The characteristic way in which he always plunged into the thickest of
the battle without thinking of his own safety, is shown by the fact
that he was twice in his life taken prisoner. When he had money he was
prodigal of it, but he was at all times eager for booty and pillage. He
had fought with success in Britany against De Montfort and the English,
and was now ready to measure his strength with the most renowned captain
of his age, the Black Prince.

Charles V., King of France, to whom history has given the name of the
Wise, only complied with the conditions of the peace of Bretigny, that
time might strengthen his resources, whilst it weakened those of his
enemies. Not a brave soldier himself--in the battle of Poitiers he was
one of those who first sought safety in flight--he had no ambition to
command his own armies as the other monarchs of his age had done; but
his wisdom had made him lay his hand upon Du Guesclin, as the fit person
to be his general.

In spite of the agreement which the English had made with the King of
Navarre, they were still afraid of him, for they heard that he had again
begun to treat with Henry of Trastamare. The Black Prince ordered two of
the frontier towns of Navarre to be invested with English troops, and
compelled the King of Navarre to accompany the army until it had safely
passed through his dominions. They crossed the Pyrenees by the pass of
Roncesvalles. The passage through these narrow defiles was most
dangerous and difficult, as it was now the middle of winter. The entire
army was almost overwhelmed by a frightful snow-storm, which overtook
them in the mountains. They suffered great loss both in men and beasts,
but at last reached the valley of Pampeluna, where they stopped to
recruit their forces. Whilst they were waiting there, the King of
Navarre, as he was riding about, was taken prisoner by a French captain.
He was supposed to have purposely allowed this to happen, that he might
be freed from all further personal responsibility as to the war. One of
his knights however conducted the Prince through the kingdom of Navarre,
and provided guides for the army through the difficult mountain roads.
The army crossed the deep and rapid Ebro by the bridge at Logrono, and
encamped near the little town of Navarette. Don Henry and Du Guesclin
were not far off, encamped near Najera on the little river Najerilla.

From Navarette the Black Prince sent his manifesto to Don Henry. In this
he stated that he had come to restore the legitimate king to his throne,
and expressed his amazement that Henry, who had sworn allegiance to his
brother, should have ventured afterwards to take up arms against him,
and drive him from his rightful throne. He called God and St. George to
witness that he was willing even now to settle the dispute by mediation;
but if that were refused, there was nothing left for it but to fight.
Henry answered on the following day. He said that the whole kingdom had
fallen away from Don Pedro, and attached themselves to him; that it was
heaven's doing, and no one had a right to interfere. He also, in God's
name and St. Iago's, had no desire for a battle; but he forbade the
enemy to press any further into his country.

On their march to Logrono, the Prince's army had suffered much from want
of provisions; he was therefore eager for a battle as soon as possible;
but the enemy waited to attack till all their troops should have
arrived. Sir William Felton went with a body of men to reconnoitre the
enemy, but was attacked by a large number of French and Spaniards, and
was slain, after a most valiant fight. Sir Hugh Calverly, another of the
bravest English knights, was also surprised and slain by a large body of
Spaniards, who had gone out under Don Tello, Henry's brother, to
reconnoitre the English army.

These successes filled the Spaniards with joy and confidence. Henry said
to his brother, "I will reward you handsomely for this; and I feel that
all the rest of our enemies must at last come to this pass." But on this
one of the French knights spoke up, and bade him not be too confident;
for with the Black Prince was the flower of chivalry of the whole world,
all hardy and tough combatants, who would die rather than think of
flying. "But," he added, "if you follow my advice, you can take them all
without striking a blow." He then advised Henry simply to keep watch
over all the passes and defiles, so that no provisions could be brought
to the English army, and when famine had done its work, to attack them
as they retreated. This advice was very sound, and would doubtless have
been successful if it had been followed; but Henry was far too impetuous
a knight to be content to pursue a policy of inaction. He crossed the
little river Najerilla with his army, and spread out his forces in a
beautiful open plain, which was broken neither by tree nor bush for a
great distance. The army was divided into three battalions, and their
front was covered by men who threw stones with slings. When all were
formed in order, Henry mounted a handsome mule and rode through the
ranks, exhorting and encouraging the men.

The Black Prince meanwhile was not very far off. The previous night he
had been encamped at a distance of only two leagues from the enemy, and
was now marching to meet him in full battle array. He crossed a hill to
reach the plain where Henry's army lay, and advanced down a long, deep
valley. The sun was just rising when the two armies came in sight of one
another, and it was a beautiful sight, says Froissart, to see the
battalions as they advanced to meet, their brilliant armour glittering
in the sunbeams.

The Prince mounted a hill, that he might see the Spaniards; and after
observing them, ordered his army to halt, and spread out in line of
battle. Immediately before the battle he raised Sir John Chandos to the
rank of a knight banneret, to the great joy of those knights and squires
who fought under Sir John.

Then the Prince spoke a few words to the army. "To-day, sirs," he said,
"has, as you well know, no other termination but in famine. For want of
food we are well-nigh taken. See, there are our enemies, who have food
enough--bread and wine, and fish, salt and fresh, from the river and the
sea. These we must now obtain by dint of lance and sword. Now let us do
such a day's work that we may part from our foes with honour." Then he
knelt down, and prayed, "O very Sovereign Father, who hast made and
fashioned us, so truly as Thou knowest that I am not come hither but to
defend the right, for prowess and for liberty, that my heart leaps and
burns to obtain a life of honour, I pray Thee that on this day Thou wilt
guard me and my people." After which he rose, and exclaimed, "Advance,
banners; God defend the right." Then, turning to Don Pedro, he took him
by the hand, and said, "Certainly, sir King, to-day you shall know if
ever you shall recover Castile; have firm trust in God."

Then the battle began. The first battalion of the English army,
commanded by John of Gaunt and Chandos, engaged the French contingent of
the Spanish army, commanded by Du Guesclin. John of Gaunt encouraged his
men, shouting, "Advance, banners, advance! let us take God to our
rescue, and each to his honour." Meanwhile the Prince, near whom rode
Don Pedro, attacked the second division of the Spanish army, commanded
by Don Tello. At the first encounter the Spanish troops were seized with
terror, and fled in wild confusion, so that the Prince was at liberty to
engage the main body of the enemy, commanded by Henry. Here the
Spaniards, encouraged by the presence of their king, fought with much
greater bravery. The stones, thrown with great force from the slings of
the Spanish foot soldiers, did much harm to their opponents, and many
were unhorsed by them; but the English arrows "flew straighter than rain
in winter time," and the Spanish cavalry began to break before them.

Thrice Henry rallied his men; but at last it was hopeless, and he was
obliged to fly. Du Guesclin and his French soldiers also gave the Dukes
of Lancaster and Chandos plenty to do. Chandos was unhorsed, and only
saved his life by his great coolness and presence of mind. The French
knights bore themselves most valiantly. Du Guesclin, who would never
fly, even though he saw the day was lost, was surrounded and taken

The Spaniards and French fled across the river to the town of Najara.
Many were killed in crossing the bridge; so that the river was dyed red
with the blood of men and horses. The English and Gascons entered the
town with them, and took many of the knights, and killed many of the
people. In Henry's lodgings they found much plate and jewels; for he
had come there with great splendour.

The English victory was complete. At noon the battle was over, and the
Black Prince ordered his banner to be fixed in a bush on a little
height, as a rallying-point for his men on their return from the
pursuit. The Duke of Lancaster and others among the knights did the
same, and the men soon gathered round the different banners in good
order. The Prince bade that they should look among the dead for the body
of Henry of Trastamare, and also discover what men of rank had been
slain. He then descended, with Don Pedro and his knights, to King
Henry's lodgings. Here they found plenty of every sort, at which they
rejoiced greatly; for they had suffered great want before. When the men
returned from searching the battle-field, Don Pedro was much displeased
at hearing that his brother was not among the slain. The slaughter had
been very great amongst the common soldiers. Besides those lying dead on
the battle-field, many were drowned in the river.

That night the army rested in ease and luxury, enjoying plenty of food
and wine. Next morning, which was Palm Sunday, Pedro's mind was already
full of thoughts of revenge. He came to the Prince, and asked that he
would give up to him all the Spanish prisoners, the traitors of his
country, that he might cut off their heads. But the Prince answered
him--"Sir King, I entreat and beg of you to pardon all the ill which
your rebellious subjects have done against you. Thus you will do an act
of kindness and generosity, and will remain in peace in your kingdom."
Pedro was not in a position to refuse the Prince's request, since he
owed everything to him, and he had to pardon all the Spanish nobles,
excepting one, who in some manner had earned his special anger, and whom
the Prince gave up to him. He was beheaded in front of Don Pedro's tent,
before his very eyes.

The next day the army set out on its march toward Burgos, and the
citizens, who knew that resistance was useless, opened their gates to
Don Pedro. The Prince and his army encamped in the plain outside the
town, as there were not comfortable quarters for them all inside. Here
the return of Don Pedro was celebrated with tournaments, banquets, and
processions; and the Black Prince presided as judge over all the
tournaments. All Castile yielded to Don Pedro, and the Black Prince
might congratulate himself that he had done his work speedily and well.
He exhorted Pedro on every occasion to treat his people well, and pardon
their revolt from his rule, saying to him, "I advise you for your good,
if you would be King of Castile, that you send forth word that you have
consented to give pardon to all those who have been against you." Pedro
promised everything he asked; and as long as the Black Prince stayed by
his side, he did not dare to indulge his desire for vengeance.

But when the Prince had been a month at Burgos, he began to be impatient
to return to his own dominions. He had as yet received none of the
promised money from Pedro, in payment of the expenses of the campaign.
He therefore told the King that he was anxious to return and disband his
army, and demanded the money to pay his troops. Pedro said that he fully
intended to pay as he had promised, but that at that moment he had no
money. At Seville, however, he had a large treasure, and if the Black
Prince would allow him to depart, he would go and fetch it. Meanwhile,
he proposed that the Prince and his army should quarter themselves in
the fertile country round Valladolid. He promised to bring him the
money at Whitsuntide. The Black Prince, himself always honest and
straightforward, was ever ready to trust in others, and easily agreed to
do as Pedro proposed. It was a fatal step; for once away from Pedro's
side, he lost all hold upon him.

The Prince's army established itself round Valladolid, and the Free
Companies supported themselves by pillaging the peasants. The summer
drew on, and the army began to suffer from the hot climate. Disease
broke out in the camp, and it is said that four out of every five of the
soldiers died. Whitsuntide came, but brought no money from Pedro. The
Prince grew more and more uneasy. At last he sent three of his knights
to the Spanish King, to ask him why he did not keep his promise. To
them Pedro professed great sorrow that he had not been able to send the
money sooner, and repeated his promises; but said that he could not
drain his people of money, and, above all, he could not send any money
as long as the Free Companies were in the country; for they did so much
harm. If the Prince would send the companies away, and only let some of
his knights remain, he would soon send the money. When this answer was
brought back to the Prince he became very sad; for he saw clearly that
Don Pedro did not mean to keep his promises. His own health was failing;
he had been attacked by an illness which was never to leave him. Bad
news was brought him from Bordeaux. The Princess wrote that Henry of
Trastamare was attacking the frontiers of Aquitaine. His army was
rapidly dwindling before his eyes. Man after man died from the effects
of the climate. There was nothing for it but to return to Bordeaux. In
sadness he gathered his troops together, and felt thankful that he was
allowed to pass peaceably through Navarre and the dangerous passes of
the Pyrenees.

At Bayonne he disbanded his army, now only a miserable remnant of the
magnificent array of troops which he had led into Spain. He bade them
come to Bordeaux to receive the payment due to them. He said to them,
that though Don Pedro had not kept his engagements, it did not become
him to act in like manner to those who had served him so well. On his
arrival at Bordeaux he was received with solemn processions, the priests
coming out to meet him, bearing crosses. The Princess followed, with her
eldest son Edward, then three years old, surrounded by her ladies and
knights. They were full of joy at meeting one another again, and
embraced most tenderly, and then walked together hand in hand to their
abode. Soon after the Prince assembled all the nobles of Aquitaine, who
had joined in this expedition, thanked them heartily for their help, and
distributed among them rich presents of gold and silver, and jewels.


Failure in Aquitaine.

Though crowned with success, the Spanish expedition was most fatal in
its consequences to the Black Prince. His victory in Spain had caused
him to be esteemed as the greatest among the princes and generals of
Europe. The news of it had been received in England with enthusiastic
joy; bonfires, rejoicings, and thanksgivings in the churches had
celebrated it all over the country. But what was the result? The Prince
had restored for a moment a bloodthirsty tyrant to the throne, and in
return for that had impoverished his exchequer and shattered his health.
He returned to Bordeaux a disappointed man. Don Pedro had failed in all
his promises, and the only results of this expedition to the Prince were
broken health and crippled resources. A change seems to have come over
the Prince's character after this. He lost his bright confidence and
cheerful fearlessness, and became morose and discontented. He was
pressed by the want of the necessary money to keep up the expenses of
his extravagant court, and this and his illness weighed down his
spirits. To his enemies, who had so long trembled before him, it seemed
that the hour had come when they might safely attack him.

By the treaty of Bretigny, Edward III. had promised to renounce for ever
his claim to the French crown; and in return, the French king had
promised to renounce his sovereignty over the English provinces in
France, which were henceforth to be held as independent possessions
owing no right of allegiance to the French crown. Time had passed on,
and for one reason or another the formal renunciation of these claims
had never been made. It was perhaps only natural that both sides should
put off as long as possible the moment when they must definitely give up
what they had so long clung to.

Charles V., King of France, had probably never really intended to
conform to the peace of Bretigny. It had been concluded in his father's
lifetime, and had been wrung from him only by the miserable condition of
France, after the battle of Poitiers. For the moment he was ready to
agree to anything, and wait for the time when he might be able to win
back what he had lost. Part of the ransom of King John was still unpaid.
With characteristic generosity, Edward had allowed many of the hostages
to go to France, on giving their word that they would come back. But
most of them never returned, and his demands to Charles for payment of
the rest of the money passed unheeded.

Charles, who was quietly gathering strength whilst he waited a
favourable moment for attacking the Black Prince, must have seen with
delight the false step which his enemy took in aiding Pedro the Cruel.
It soon became clear how fruitless the Spanish expedition had been. The
Prince had hardly reached Bordeaux, when Henry of Trastamare, who had
been attacking the frontiers of Aquitaine, withdrew his army thence, and
crossed the Pyrenees into Arragon, to prepare for a second invasion of
Castile. He was anxious to have again the aid of Du Guesclin; but Du
Guesclin unfortunately was still a prisoner in the Black Prince's hands,
and knew not how to raise the money wanted for his ransom.

One day, when the Prince was in good humour, he called Du Guesclin to
him, and asked him how he was.

"I was never better, my lord," was the answer; "I cannot be otherwise
than well, for I am, though in prison, the most honoured knight in the

"How so?" asked the Prince.

"They say in France, as well as in other countries," answered Du
Guesclin, "that you are so much afraid of me, and have such a dread of
my gaining my liberty, that you dare not set me free; and this is my
reason for thinking myself so much valued and honoured."

The Prince did not like this, for he knew that it was partly the truth.
He at once offered Du Guesclin his liberty, for a much smaller sum than
had been asked before. His council tried to dissuade him from keeping
this agreement; but the Prince, speaking like a good and loyal knight,
said, "Since we have granted it, we will keep it, and not act in any way

It was not long before Du Guesclin was able to pay the money, and
hastened to join Henry, who was already successfully invading Castile.
Most of the towns opened their gates to him, and he defeated Pedro in
battle, and pursued him to the fortress of Montiel. Here, by some means
or other, Pedro and Henry met face to face. So great was their hatred
for one another, that Pedro immediately threw himself upon his brother,
and being the stronger, threw him down upon the ground under himself;
but Henry managed to draw his long Spanish knife, and plunging it into
Pedro, killed him on the spot. After this he was secure in his
possession of the throne of Castile, and had no longer to fear any

This event of course entirely destroyed any hopes the Black Prince might
still have of getting the money due from Pedro. He had not enough money
himself to pay more than half of what was due to the Companies which had
fought under his banner. They, on being disbanded, went off to ravage
the French territory, which did not tend to make the French feel more
friendly to the Black Prince's rule. In truth it is impossible to deny
that he showed little talent as an administrator in his position as
ruler of Aquitaine.

His subjects were rapidly growing more and more discontented, and many
of the chief nobles, who had at first crowded to swear allegiance to him
through mere terror of his name, now began secretly to draw near to
France. By a fatal mistake of policy he managed to estrange his subjects
still further. He was deeply in debt, and had no money either to defray
the expenses of his court, or to prepare for a new struggle with France,
which he felt must soon be inevitable. He felt, therefore, that it was
necessary to impose a tax upon his subjects; and he hit upon the most
burdensome tax he could have discovered. He proposed to the Assembly of
the States of his Duchy that a hearth tax should be levied for five
years; that is, that for every fire upon the hearth an annual duty
should be paid. This kind of tax was particularly oppressive, as it fell
unequally; the poor pay more in proportion to their small means than do
the rich. Hence the tax caused great discontent, especially amongst the
Gascon barons, the lords of Armagnac, d'Albret, Cominges, and many

The whole duchy seemed to weary of the English rule. The people
resented, naturally enough, the ravages and extortions of the Free
Companies, and complained that the English nobles were arrogant and
overbearing. The King of France watched eagerly this growing discontent;
but He remained quiet until he had concluded an offensive and defensive
alliance with Henry of Trastamare. The Gascon lords, in their
discontent at the new tax, claimed to have a right of appeal to the King
of France, as if he had still been the feudal superior of the duchy, to
whom the vassals might carry their complaints against their lord. This
claim of appeal greatly angered the Black Prince; for in the treaty of
Bretigny the King of France had agreed to renounce all rights over
Aquitaine, and therefore could receive no appeals. But the Gascons said
that it was not in the power of the King of France to renounce these
rights without the consent of the barons and cities of Aquitaine; and
this consent had never been given, and would never be given. The
dispute, as was natural, only increased the ill-will between the Prince
and his subjects.

From all sides the King of France was advised to seize this favourable
moment for attacking the Prince. He was told that, as soon as he
declared war, all the barons and cities of Aquitaine would turn to his
side; for all were discontented with the English rule. At last, on the
25th January, 1369, he summoned the Black Prince to appear before the
court of his peers at Paris, and answer the complaints brought against
him by his vassals. This proceeding was, of course, entirely contrary to
the treaty of Bretigny. It was treating the Prince as if he were a
vassal of France; whereas, according to the treaty, the King of France
had entirely renounced his claim to the allegiance of Aquitaine. By
treating the Black Prince as a vassal, he therefore distinctly threw
down the gauntlet of war.

Great was the anger of the Prince when this summons reached him. When
the commissioners who had brought the letter had read it to him, he
looked at them for a moment in silence, and then burst forth in rage.

"We will willingly come to Paris on the day appointed," he said; "but it
will be with our helmet on our head, and sixty thousand men at our

He would give no other answer to the commissioners; and after they had
gone, his anger burnt so hot against them that he sent some of his
knights after them, to seize them and bring them back to prison.

"Let them not," he said, "go and tell their prattle to the Duke of
Anjou, who loves us little, and say how they have summoned us personally
in our own palace."

The King of France was indignant when he heard of the answer of the
Black Prince, and of the treatment which his commissioners had met with.
He made immediate preparations for war. He sent a challenge to the King
of England by a common valet, a kitchen-boy, that he might make it as
insulting as possible.

Both England and its King were sunk in the enjoyments of peace. The King
was growing old, and loved ease and luxury. The country was weary of
war, and absorbed in trade and manufacture. Still the challenge of the
King of France stung their pride, and threw Edward III. into a mighty
passion. He determined to reassert his claim to the crown of France, and
opened the war with vigour. He sent the Duke of Lancaster with an army
to Calais to invade the north of France, and his son Edmund, Duke of
Cambridge, with troops to assist the Black Prince in Aquitaine. The
Black Prince established his camp at Angoulême. The services of the
various Free Companies were eagerly bid for by both the combatants, and
many were engaged on either side.

The French soon began their inroads upon the Prince's territory. He lay
at Angoulême helpless from illness, and almost wild with vexation at
hearing of the advances of his enemies. A desultory warfare began, in
which neither side gained any considerable advantage; but the French
seemed to be pressing on further, whilst the disaffection of the chief
nobles and the illness of the Prince tended more and more to break up
the unity of the English provinces.

In the north the Duke of Lancaster did nothing but burn and ravage the
enemy's country. The French army, which had been sent against him, had
been expressly ordered not to engage battle; the remembrance of the
English victories was still too vivid in the minds of the French.

The death, in a chance skirmish, of his valued friend and wise
counsellor, Sir John Chandos, was a serious blow to the Prince. He was
seneschal of Poitou, and was very anxious to drive back the French, who
had taken some strong places there. He attacked a body of the enemy much
superior in number to his own force, and fell upon them with scoffs and
jeers. But as he was advancing on foot, he slipped on the ground, made
slippery by the frost. He was entangled in the long robe of white
samite, which he wore under his armour according to the fashion of those
days, and stumbled. A French squire seized this opportunity to make a
thrust at him; Sir John had lost an eye five years before, and the
thrust being made on his blind side, he could not see to ward it off. To
the dismay of his followers, he fell back rolling in death-agony on the
ground. They fought desperately, eager to revenge his fall, but owing to
their small number were obliged to surrender to the French. Soon after
they were released by the arrival of a large body of English troops, to
whom the French in their turn had to yield. Chandos was discovered lying
so severely wounded that he was unable to speak. Great were the
lamentations of the English; for all loved and revered him. There was no
knight more valiant or courteous than he. His servants gently disarmed
him, and he was laid on a litter made of shields and targets, and so was
slowly carried at a foot-pace to Mortemer, the nearest fort. He only
lived one day and night, and was buried by his friends at Mortemer. On
his tomb was written this epitaph in French:

    I, John Chandos, an English knight,
    Seneschal of all Poitou,
    Against the French king oft did fight,
    On foot and horseback many slew.
    Bertrand du Guesclin prisoner too
    By me was taken in a vale,
    At Lensac did the foe prevail;
    My body then at Mortemer
    In a fair tomb did my friends inter,
    In the year of grace divine,
    Thirteen hundred sixty-nine.

Froissart says of Chandos, that never since a hundred years did there
exist one more courteous, nor fuller of every virtue and good quality.
What the English cause lost by his death can hardly be estimated. His
valour and wisdom might have prevented the loss of Aquitaine.

It was early in 1370 that Chandos was slain. That year Charles V.
determined to strike a decisive blow. Two armies, under his brothers the
Dukes of Anjou and Berry, the former assisted by the great General Du
Guesclin, were to invade Aquitaine at the same time. They advanced with
great success, taking one city after another. Limoges, the capital of
Limousin, was surrendered into their hands by its bishop, who turned
traitor. News of the loss of this important city was brought to the
Black Prince as he lay upon his bed of sickness. In a frenzy of rage he
sat up in his bed, and exclaimed, "The French hold me dead; but if God
give me relief, and I can once leave this bed, I will again make them

Now that it was too late to gain the affections of his people, he had
at the advice of Edward III. remitted the hearth tax; but this seemed to
the people only a sign of weakness. He also offered in the name of his
father the royal pardon to all those who had revolted, if they would
return to their allegiance. The Duke of Lancaster had arrived in
Aquitaine to aid him in the conduct of affairs, on account of his broken
health. The Black Prince's authority in Aquitaine seemed to be gone; but
the French successes, the loss of Limoges, and the treachery of its
bishop, roused him to make a last effort. He swore by the soul of his
father that he would have Limoges back again, and would make the
inhabitants pay dearly for their treachery. He mustered his forces at
Cognac, and prepared to march towards Limoges. When he took the field,
and all his men-at-arms were drawn out in battle array, the whole
country was filled with fear: his name had not yet lost its terror. He
could not mount on horseback, but was obliged to be carried in a litter.
He found Limoges well defended, but he made his army encamp all round
it, and swore he would never leave the place till he had taken it.

Limoges was too well garrisoned to be taken by assault, and the English
therefore prepared to lay siege to it. They had with them a large body
of miners, and the Prince gave orders that the walls should be mined.
After a month all was ready. The garrison of the town tried by
countermining to destroy the work of the Prince's miners, but failed;
and the miners having filled their mines with combustibles, set fire to
them. The explosion threw down a large piece of the wall. The English,
who were all ready and waiting for the right moment, rushed in through
the breach, whilst others attacked the gates. So quickly was it done
that the French had no time to resist. Then the Prince, borne on his
litter, and John of Gaunt, and the other nobles, rushed into the town
with their men. The soldiers, eager for booty, ran through the town,
killing men, women, and children, according to the orders given by the
Prince from his litter. "It was a most melancholy business," says
Froissart; "for all ranks, ages, and sexes cast themselves on their
knees before the Prince, begging for mercy; but he was so inflamed with
passion and revenge that he listened to none, but all were put to the
sword wherever they could be found."

The garrison meanwhile had drawn themselves up in a body, and stood with
their backs to an old wall, determined to fight to the last. The Duke of
Lancaster and the Earl of Cambridge advanced to attack them, and in
order to be on an equality with them, dismounted from their horses
before they begun the fight. The English were greatly superior in
number; but the French fought so bravely that they were able to hold
their own for some little time. The Prince watched the combat with deep
interest. The sight of the bravery of the knights at last roused again
his nobler and more generous emotions, and he shouted out that the
lives of those French knights who would surrender should be spared.
Whereupon the French gave up their swords and yielded themselves
prisoners. The Bishop was also taken prisoner. The whole town was burnt
and pillaged, and utterly destroyed. The Black Prince, worn out with
suffering and disease, seemed to wish to revenge himself by one act of
relentless cruelty for the loss of all his power and authority in

The sack of Limoges shows us the dark side of chivalry. We must not
blame the Black Prince too severely for it. In sacrificing the innocent
inhabitants of a whole city to his revenge, he was only acting in
accordance with the spirit of the age in which he lived. The views of
life in which he had been educated had taught him no respect for human
life as such. His generous emotions were not called out by the piteous
suffering of women and children, but by the brave fighting of
men-at-arms. This was what chivalry led to, and all its bright features
cannot make us forgive its disregard of human suffering. Doubtless this
terrible sack is a blot upon the Black Prince's character; but we could
hardly have hoped to find him superior to his age. In this as much as in
his nobler deeds he is a true type of chivalry, and shows us how very
partial and one-sided was its civilizing effect. We must remember also,
in his excuse, that he was at that time suffering from a severe and
painful illness, and suffering even more bitterly in mind at the loss
of his proud position, and the break up of his dominions. But whilst
trying to see what may be said in his excuse, we must not shut our eyes
to the enormity of the crime. The massacre of this innocent population
could do no good, and could have no beneficial result. What the Black
Prince did was to sacrifice all the inhabitants of a prosperous city to
his own thirst for revenge.

After the sack he returned to Cognac, where he had left the Princess.
There he disbanded his forces, feeling too ill for any further
enterprise. This one exertion seems to have had a bad effect upon him;
for he became rapidly worse, to the great alarm of all around him. His
physicians ordered him to return at once to England, and in sadness of
heart he prepared to leave his Duchy.

Just before he left he had the misfortune also to lose his eldest son,
the little Prince Edward. He left his authority in Aquitaine to his
brother, John of Gaunt, and sailed from Bordeaux with his wife and his
son Richard in the beginning of the year 1371.

The voyage was prosperous. He soon reached England, and went to Windsor
to meet the King. He had left his country full of hope and confidence;
he returned broken down in health and spirits. The tide of English
prosperity had turned, and it is melancholy to compare the bright
beginning of Edward III.'s power with the last sad years of his reign.


English Politics.

The England to which the Black Prince returned was in many ways
different from the England which he had left. The country had suffered
one great loss; the good Queen Philippa, so long the faithful wife of
Edward III., had died in 1369. By her wisdom and virtue she had been of
great use to the King, and had been beloved through all the kingdom.
Deprived of her counsel, Edward fell under the influence of one of the
ladies of her bedchamber, Alice Perrers, a woman of great wit and
beauty, who ruled him at her will, and who was used as a tool by the
different political parties.

It was a melancholy end for the bright, vigorous King to come to. The
external splendour and glory of his reign was gone. His court had lost
its brilliancy. He himself seemed almost to have sunk into a premature
dotage. But though the last years of his reign were not as brilliant as
the former years, they are perhaps more important for the history of our
country; for in them we see the beginning of a great political
struggle, which left most important traces upon the development of our
constitution; and we are also able to trace the remarkable increase of
the power and influence of Parliament. In these struggles the Black
Prince, for the first time in his life, appeared as a politician; and
the part which he took in them earned for him as much glory as his
victories of Poitiers or Najarez.

All through Edward's reign Parliament had been increasing in power; but
we shall not be able to understand the way in which it had developed,
unless we go back and try to find out what it was at the beginning of
Edward's reign.

There had always been under the Norman kings a Great Council, composed
of the chief men of the kingdom, by whose assent and consent the Crown
acted. But besides the advice of their nobles, the kings felt the need
of the money of their people; and to obtain this the more easily, they
summoned some of them to sit side by side with their advisers in the
Great Council. The old arrangement of the shires and the shire courts
gave a means of getting representatives. First, knights, to be chosen
from every shire, were summoned to the meetings of the Great Council;
and finally, Simon de Montfort, in 1264, summoned also burgesses from
the chief cities.

Edward I.'s pressing need for money drove him to follow the example of
Simon de Montfort, and summon these representatives to Parliament for
the purpose of obtaining from them more easily grants of money.

This privilege, however, of sending representatives to Parliament was
not one which the towns were eager to grasp. The burgesses did not care
to leave their business, and undertake an expensive and dangerous
journey to attend the Parliament. It was an arrangement more for the
King's convenience than for theirs. When they got there they had nothing
to do but vote grants of money. It was only slowly, and without any
outward struggle, that the knights, who represented the shires, and the
burgesses, who represented the cities, came to take any part in
legislation. It was in this respect that the reign of Edward III. saw a
great change.

In the Parliaments of Edward I. each order had deliberated separately.
The clergy, the barons, the knights, and the burgesses made their grants
separately. At first the barons and the knights, whose interests were
very similar, tended to combine. The importance of the burgesses,
however, increased during the reign of Edward II., as the barons needed
their aid in the struggle against the Crown. As they increased in
importance the knights of the shire seem to have broken off their
connexion with the barons, and joined with the burgesses. We do not know
how this change was brought about; but in the beginning of the reign of
Edward III. we find the knights and burgesses combined together under
the name of _the Commons_.

That the knights of the shire united with the burgesses, and not with
the barons, is a fact of immense importance in our constitutional
history. Had they united with the barons, the aristocratic party would
have been the strongest in the State. As it was, the Commons, the
people, were to be the strongest.

In the reign of Edward III., therefore, we find Parliament divided very
much as it now is, into the Upper and Lower Houses. The clergy still sat
apart, and formed what is now called the House of Convocation. Only the
spiritual peers, that is, the members of the higher clergy, who by
holding land directly from the Crown were in the same position as the
barons, sat in the Upper House of Parliament.

It was during the reign of Edward III. that the Commons first began to
feel their power and importance, and really to desire the privilege of
sitting in Parliament. This is one of the signs of the progress they
made at this time. They were eager to make laws, and the King himself
shared their eagerness, and in consequence this reign is marked by fussy
legislation on many different points.

Trade and manufactures were the great interests of the age, and they
were represented by the men of the commons, whose minds were entirely
occupied by such matters, and whose desire was to benefit them, as they
thought, by making laws for their regulation. They had not learnt the
great lesson, that trade prospers best when it is left alone by
law-makers. They were inexperienced in making laws, and charmed with
their new power, thought it would be easy to make the world go rightly
by making laws about everything. Continually the laws when made were
found to have quite different results to what the law-makers had
expected, and had to be repealed the next year.

This restless desire to interfere in everything was very harmful to
trade and industry. There were so many changes that people found it
difficult to know what the law really was. Many of the laws were not
attended to at all, as it was impossible to watch over the people
narrowly enough to see that they were obeyed. We have seen how
Parliament tried to fix the price of labour. In the same way it tried to
fix the price of everything else. It fixed the price at which tailors
should make clothes, at which poultry, meat, bread, and all other
articles of ordinary consumption were to be sold. Even the number of
dishes which a man might have for dinner was fixed by law.

These laws have left no permanent impression on English history, and are
interesting only as giving indications of the manners and customs of the
times. They serve also to show how greatly the energy of Parliament
increased in this reign, even though it was misdirected. There are other
and more important things which show us the great increase of its

It had always been the theory of the English Constitution, that the King
could not raise money without the consent of the Great Council of the
Realm; but this had often been little more than a theory. In this reign
it became a clearly recognized fact, that no money could be raised
except with the consent of Parliament, and we find Edward III. always
appealing to Parliament in his necessities. Parliament also established
its right to petition against grievances, and so insisted upon the
necessity of both Houses agreeing before any change could be made in the

Edward III. held frequent Parliaments, and made it his practice to
consult them on all matters, even on what had been always supposed to
belong entirely to the King, the making of war and peace. He seemed to
wish to throw upon Parliament the responsibility of his expensive wars.
Probably he hoped that if the war was ostensibly carried on by the
advice of Parliament, it would be easier to obtain grants of money for
its expenses. The Commons, however, were not very eager to advise on
these difficult points, saying that they were too simple and ignorant to
be able to do so, and promising to agree to anything which the King and
his council might decide upon.

In raising money for his wars, Edward III. drew largely from the clergy,
whose wealth made them very tempting subjects for taxation. The clergy
had long claimed immunity from taxation, and from all the burdens of the
State, but in this age they could not hope to enforce such a claim.
They were the wealthiest class in the land. When the French wars
increased the necessities of the Crown, and obliged Edward to demand
large subsidies from Parliament, all eyes were turned to the clergy as
the body who, though not touched by the general taxes, was yet most able
to contribute money. The clergy could not refuse the King's demands; but
when they had to pay money to the King, they became more unwilling to
send the Pope the subsidies which he demanded.

The Popes at this time were both poorer and more avaricious than they
had been before. They regarded England as their great source of wealth,
and demanded large sums of money from the clergy. The effect of this was
to put the English clergy as a body in opposition to the Pope, and to
make them more national in their feelings than they had been before.
They placed the interests of their country far before the interests of
the Papacy.

This was a time of great degradation for the Papacy, which had sunk so
low as almost to lose men's reverence. The cause of this degradation lay
in the struggle which had taken place some time before between Philip
the Fair, King of France, and Pope Boniface VIII. Boniface's ambition
had led him to try and set up the power of the Papacy over the affairs
of every country of Europe. But Philip the Fair would not brook his
interference in France. He quarrelled with him, and sent men to seize
and illtreat him in his own palace. Boniface died through rage and
despair at this insult. Philip, after trying in vain to get complete
submission out of the next Pope, at last succeeded in getting a Pope of
his own choosing in Clement V. He promised obedience to Philip, and
fixed his abode at Avignon instead of Rome, that he might be nearer the
French King.

Avignon was in Provence, just outside the French border, in the
dominions of the King of Naples. For seventy years the seat of the
Papacy remained there, and this has been called the time of the
Babylonish captivity. The Popes during this period acted in the
interests of the French king. Most of them were French by birth; all of
them were French in their sympathies. Their European position seemed
lost, and with it the awe and reverence with which they had been
regarded. The English, at war with France, were not likely to bear the
encroachments made by a French Pope, and clergy, laity, and King joined
together to repel them.

The first great statute directed against the interference of the Pope
was the Statute against Provisors, passed in 1351. The Pope was in the
habit of making _provisions_ for vacant benefices by appointing to them
men of his own choice, and it was against this custom that the statute
was directed. It naturally seemed very unjust to Englishmen, that
English benefices should be given away to cardinals and other members of
the Papal court, who drew the revenues from their benefices without
ever coming near them; but we must remember that at this time great
benefices were not bestowed upon men as rewards for spiritual eminence.
They were the prizes which were given to great statesmen, to courtiers,
and royal favourites. The ecclesiastics appointed by the King of England
had no more intention of residing on their benefices than the
ecclesiastics appointed by the Pope. The Pope only claimed the right to
reward his servants in the same way as the King did. This arrangement,
by which Pope and King alike used the Church revenues for their own
purposes, was too convenient for Edward III. to make him really eager
for any reformation. The Statute of Provisors might forbid Papal
provisions, but it was never strictly kept; nor did the Statute which
followed it, called from its first word in the original Latin, the
Statute of Præmunire, prove more successful.

This statute forbade any appeals being made from the King's courts to
the Papal court, and forbade the introduction of Papal bulls into
England without royal permission.

The great interest of these statutes lies in the fact that they express
the growing hostility aroused in the laity by the ambition and wealth of
the clergy. The writings of the times are filled with complaints of the
abuses among the clergy. Langland tells us in a fine passage in the
_Vision of Piers Plowman_ the miserable pass that religion had come to
in those days--

    "And now is religion a rider, a roamer by streets;
    A leader of love-days, and a land-buyer;
    A pricker on a palfrey from manor to manor;
    An heap of houndes at his ears, as he a lord were,
    And but if his knave knele that shal his cap bringe,
    He loureth[2] on him, and asketh him who taught him courtesy."

The whole poem is full of allusions to the manner of life of the clergy,
their ill-gotten wealth, and the neglect of their duties. In another
place he says--

    "Bishopes and bachelers, both masters and doctors,
    That have cure under Christ, and crowning[3] in token
    And signe that they should shrive their parishioners,
    Preach and pray for them and the poor faith,
    Live in London in Lent and other times;
    Some serve the Kinge, and his silver tellen
    In chequer and in chancery."

In an extravagant age the clergy were especially marked by their wild
and foolish extravagance, their love for fine clothes, for the chase,
for show and pageantry of all kinds. Even the mendicant orders partook
of this, and the Franciscan Friars, who had pledged themselves to the
most absolute poverty, amassed wealth, and only obeyed the dictates of
their order by abstaining from all labour. As a political ballad of the
time says--

    "Full wisely do they preche and say,
    But as they preche nothing do they."

And even of their preaching Langland says--

    "I find these friars, all the four orders,
    Preach to the people for profit of themselven,
    Glosed the gospel as them good liked."

The Church seemed to have lost all its early simplicity, and to have
departed entirely from the teaching of the apostles.

The clergy absorbed all the chief offices of state. This had come about
naturally, from the fact that till now they had been the only educated
body in the state, and so they only had been fit to transact its
business. But now learning had become more general. A new class, that of
the lawyers, was springing up, and men were no longer willing to see
everything in the hands of the clergy. The great opponent of their power
was John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the King's third son. He was an
ambitious and unscrupulous man, and his aim was to get the entire
control of affairs during the last years of Edward III.'s reign. His
opposition to the clergy sprung only from his own personal ambition; he
wished to exclude the clergy from the offices of the state that he might
fill them with his own creatures. The power of the Commons was as
hateful in his eyes as the power of the clergy. He put himself at the
head of a reactionary body of great barons, who wished to bring back the
old order of things, and restore the power of their own order.

With John of Gaunt was united a man of a very different stamp. This was
John Wiclif, who by his learning had risen into importance in the
University of Oxford. He had shown himself an eager student, well versed
in logic and metaphysics, deeply learned in theology, and delighting in
the mathematical and natural sciences. The university had not been slow
to recognise his distinction. He had been made fellow of Merton, then
the leading college; afterwards he was master of Balliol Hall; and
lastly, he had been made warden of Canterbury Hall, the new college
founded by Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was first called
into political prominence in 1366, when Edward III. called upon him to
answer the demand made by Pope Urban VI. for the homage of England, and
the tribute promised by King John. In his answer, whilst calling himself
the humble and obedient son of the Roman Church, he clearly showed how
determined he was to take the national side, and resist papal
encroachments. He was equally opposed to the ambition and wealth of the
clergy, and this was the cause of his connexion with John of Gaunt. It
is impossible to believe that there can have been any real sympathy
between the two men,--Wiclif, the zealous student and austere reformer;
and John of Gaunt, the complete man of the world, corrupt in his life,
narrow and unscrupulous in his policy, absorbed in selfish ambition.
They had, however, this in common--that each wished to destroy the power
of the clergy, though from very different motives. John of Gaunt wished
to humiliate the Church; Wiclif wished to purify it. John of Gaunt
resented the official arrogance of the bishops, and their large share of
temporal power; Wiclif hoped to restore the long lost apostolical
purity of the Church.

It was in the Parliament of 1371 that the first great blow at the power
of the clergy was struck. The Duke of Lancaster was away in Aquitaine;
but we cannot doubt that Parliament was inspired by his influence, when
it petitioned the King that only secular men might be employed in his
court and household. Chief amongst the clergy in high office at that
time was William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, the Lord High

He had first become important as the King's surveyor and architect at
Windsor. Here the King had undertaken important and extensive works for
the improvement and extension of the castle. Wykeham had a strong
natural taste for architecture, and seems moreover to have been a wise
and practical man of business. He became the King's chaplain, his
principal secretary, and the keeper of the Privy Seal. In 1367 he was
elevated to the see of Winchester, and appointed Lord Chancellor.

He was a most liberal man, and had the interests of the people sincerely
at heart. To posterity he is chiefly known by his munificence in
founding Winchester School, and New College at Oxford, two foundations
which have greatly promoted the cause of learning. He seems in all cases
to have used his power and his wealth for the public good. But John of
Gaunt and his party hated him on account of his wealth and position;
whilst in Wiclif's eyes he was not spiritual enough for a bishop. Wiclif
thought that no ecclesiastic ought to hold office, or busy himself in
secular affairs. He no doubt alludes to Wykeham when he says bitterly,
"Benefices, instead of being bestowed on poor clerks, are heaped ... on
one wise in building castles, or in worldly business."

It was against Wykeham that the petition of Parliament against giving
office to ecclesiastics was chiefly directed. He was forced to resign
the seals. The other ecclesiastics in office had to give up their posts,
and laymen, creatures of John of Gaunt, were appointed to fill them. Sir
Richard le Scrope was appointed Treasurer, and Sir Robert Thorpe Lord
Chancellor. The same Parliament also petitioned the King about the
unsatisfactory state of the navy, and granted a subsidy for putting it
into a proper condition; but no great expedition was planned to
reconquer the lost possessions in France. The war went on in a desultory
way, and nothing particular was gained on either side. The Commons were
growing tired of paying for it. They further showed their animosity to
the clergy by decreeing that the tax which was to be levied to provide
the subsidy voted for the King, was to be raised also from all those
lands which had passed into the hands of the clergy before the twentieth
year of Edward I.

The clergy met together in Convocation in 1373 to consider what course
they should take under these circumstances. They met in St. Paul's,
where Whittlesey, Archbishop of Canterbury, presided. He was too weak,
both in body and mind, to take an important part in the proceedings. He
summoned all his strength to preach the opening sermon, after which he
sunk down exhausted. Simon Sudbury, Bishop of London, a man of the Duke
of Lancaster's party, succeeded him as president of Convocation. The
conduct of the clergy was marked by moderation. They had no wish to
resist obstinately the demands of the Commons; but they complained that
they already had to tax themselves heavily to provide subsidies for the
King, and to meet the demands of the Pope. They said that they would
willingly give more to the King, if he would free them from the
exactions of the Pope. The King caused an embassy to be sent to the
Pope, stating the grievances of the clergy; but the Pope would do
nothing but promise to send ambassadors to a congress to be held at some
future time.

The Duke of Lancaster's party was now in complete possession of all
power in the kingdom. It remained to be seen how far they would be able
to win the confidence of the people. In the conduct of the war they had
been by no means successful. The Duke himself had not mended matters by
marrying Constance, daughter of Pedro the Cruel, and assuming in her
right the title of King of Castile. This only threw Henry of Trastamare
more than ever on the side of France. In 1372 the Earl of Pembroke was
sent with an English fleet to assist the Duke of Lancaster. But now the
folly of having turned Spain into a bitter enemy became apparent. The
English fleet was intercepted by a Spanish fleet, and completely
defeated. Pembroke himself was taken prisoner, and the English naval
power received a blow from which it took long to recover.

Disaster followed disaster in Aquitaine. Rochelle was seized by the
French. Thouars, one of the last places of importance remaining to the
English, was besieged and hard pressed. When news of all these
misfortunes reached Edward III. he was roused from his lethargy, and
determined to make one last effort to recover what he had lost. A fleet
was equipped, in which Edward himself, and even the Black Prince, whose
health was now somewhat better, embarked. But the fleet never reached
France. It was beaten about by contrary winds for some weeks, and at
last was obliged to return to England. There was now nothing to be done
except to ask for a truce. In 1374 the Duke of Lancaster returned to
England, leaving all the English possessions, except Bordeaux and
Bayonne, in the hands of the French.

It was determined that a general congress should be held at Bruges to
discuss terms of peace with France. To this congress the Pope and Edward
III. were also to send commissioners, to discuss the points at issue
between England and the Papacy.

John of Gaunt was chief amongst the English Ambassadors, who went to
Bruges to try and arrange a peace. John Wiclif went as one of the
ecclesiastical commissioners, of whom the Bishop of Bangor was head.
There were great difficulties in the way of any peace between England
and France. The French wished Edward to give up Calais, but the English
would not hear of this. It was only the earnest endeavours of the Pope,
Gregory XI., a sincere lover of peace, which finally brought about a
truce, to last till June, 1376.

Meanwhile the ecclesiastical commissioners were also very busy, and all
waited eagerly to see the result of this conference. If Wiclif had
allowed himself to hope that it would lead to any reform in the Church,
he must have been bitterly disappointed. We do not know what part he
took in it, but he must have soon seen with disgust that his
fellow-commissioners had no desire for reform, and that the King himself
was not more zealous than they. In September six lengthy bulls arrived
in England from the Pope, stating the conclusions arrived at by the
conference. These bulls showed that nothing really had been agreed upon.
The Pope made no promises for the future, but only arranged some
informalities in the past. It seemed as if the King and the Pope had
come to an agreement, purely for their own personal advantage. Each was
really to do pretty much as he liked, and the great questions which
involved the interests of the Church and the nation were left untouched.


[2] Scowls.

[3] The tonsure or shaven crown on the Priest's head.


The Good Parliament.

Whatever men might have hoped from the Congress at Bruges, and from the
lay ministry formed by the influence of John of Gaunt and his party, all
their hopes were now disappointed. They had hoped for reform in the
Church, and all they obtained was a compact with the Papacy for the
maintenance of old abuses. The man who had been foremost in making this
compact, the Bishop of Bangor, was rewarded by translation by Papal
provision to the see of Hereford. This was what the lay ministry had
done for the Church after all its promises of reform. And what had
become of the money which they had voted for the continuance of the war?
How had the war been conducted? A few short years before France had lain
crushed and humbled at the feet of England; now nothing remained of all
that the Black Prince had won in France, except Bayonne, Bordeaux,
Calais, and a few other unimportant places. The English navy had been
annihilated; the English coasts had been insulted by the enemy; never
had England known such degradation. Men had believed in the Duke of
Lancaster, and this was what he had led them to. Now men saw his
personal aims, his selfish ambition. All the tide of popular fury was
turned against him and his ministers. He was accused, whether justly or
not we cannot say, of designs on the throne; since he knew that his
brother, the Black Prince, could not live long. When he was dead nothing
would stand between Lancaster and the throne but the young Prince
Richard. There was no man more unpopular than he in England; for he was
regarded as the opponent of the people's hero, the Prince of Wales.

But the people alone could do nothing against the power and influence of
the Duke. In their hour of need, however, they found a leader in the man
who had so often led their armies victoriously against the enemy, in the
Black Prince himself.

Parliament met at Westminster in the spring of 1376. It was three years
since it had last met--an unusually long interval, considering the
frequent Parliaments held in this reign. The Black Prince had moved to
the royal palace at Westminster, that he might be able to watch over the
proceedings. The King opened Parliament on the 28th of April; and on the
following day the Lord Chancellor Knyvet addressed the Lords and the
Commons assembled in the great chamber at Westminster. He told them
briefly the reasons for which they had been summoned. "First, to advise
on the good government and peace of the kingdom of England; secondly, to
consider for the external defence of the kingdom, by land as well as by
sea; and thirdly, to make arrangements for the continuation of the war
with France." The Commons were then bidden to retire, and deliberate
apart in their own chamber in the Chapter-house of the Abbey of
Westminster. At the demand of the Commons, certain bishops and barons
were appointed to deliberate with them, and give them their advice on
the subject of the subsidy to be granted to the King. The next point was
the choice of a Speaker, and the election made by the Commons was in
itself a mark of their opposition to the Duke of Lancaster. Peter de la
Mare, the man chosen, was the steward of Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March,
who had married Philippa, the only child of Lionel Duke of Clarence,
Lancaster's elder brother. Philippa had a prior right to the throne to
that of John of Gaunt, and therefore she and her husband necessarily
opposed his ambitious schemes. Peter de la Mare's policy was sure to be
opposition to the Duke. He was, a contemporary chronicler tells us, "a
man of abundant wisdom and courage; a lover of justice and truth;
neither the bribes nor the threats of his enemies could deter him from
the right course."

With regard to the demand for a subsidy, the Commons consented to grant
the same sum as they had given three years before; more they would not
give on account of the great scarcity throughout the land produced by
the plague, the murrain amongst the cattle, and the failure of the
crops. This matter once settled, the Commons proceeded to what they
considered the chief business of the session, the petitions about
grievances. Headed by Peter de la Mare, they carried their answer about
the subsidy to the council and the barons.

Then, standing before the nobles, amongst whom John of Gaunt stood
foremost, the Speaker began to disclose the grievances of the country.
The people, he complained, were exceedingly weighed down by taxes; but
even this they would have borne patiently had the money been usefully
employed; yet in spite of the great expenditure the wars had not
prospered. The Commons demanded an account of the way in which the money
had been spent. "Neither is it credible," concluded the Speaker, "that
the King should want such an infinite treasure, if they were faithful
that served him." Great was the indignation of Lancaster at this
insolence of the Commons, as he called it. Full of wrath, he declared
his intention of silencing them next day by a show of his power; but his
followers pointed out to him that the Commons had the support of the
Black Prince, his brother, and that he could not crush them. Afraid lest
they should go further, and allow disclosures to be made about the evil
manner of his own life, he appeared before them next day seemingly mild
and gracious. Then the Commons went on with their proceedings. They
stated that, on account of the great wars abroad, the present Council
was insufficient to manage the affairs of the state; and they asked that
ten or twelve bishops, lords, and others be added to strengthen the
Council. They next unfolded a long list of grievances, which showed the
disordered condition and the maladministration of the country.

They petitioned, first of all, that the King's guilty officers be
punished, they insisted that such heavy taxation would not have been
necessary, considering the immense amount of money that had come into
the kingdom as ransoms for French prisoners, if only it had been
properly and honestly administered. They promised that the King should
have no difficulty in getting plenty of money for the war, and his other
necessities, if he would first dismiss and punish his ministers. They
attacked Richard Lyons, a London merchant, and a creature of the Duke's.
He had had patents granted him by members of the Council, to buy up
merchandise, and sell it again at his own price; he had also caused
customs to be put upon wool and other commodities, which he levied
principally for his own profit. It was no wonder that the Duke, who
interfered in this way with the trade of London, should draw upon
himself the hatred of the Londoners. Lyons tried to save himself by
sending a bribe to the Prince of Wales, in the shape of a barrel
containing £1,000. The Prince refused it with scorn; but afterwards
regretted his refusal, saying that he would have "done a good deed by
sending it to the knights that travail for the realm." Lyons then sent
his money to the King, who kept it, saying "that he took the same in
part payment of the money that was owing to him; for this and much more
he owed him, and had not presented him with anything but his own."

Lyons could not save himself. He was ordered to be imprisoned at the
King's pleasure, to lose the freedom of the city, and have all his goods

Next followed the impeachment of Lord Latimer, another creature of the
Duke's, who was Chamberlain and Privy Councillor, and governor of a
castle in Britany, where he had appropriated large sums of money, and
had taken bribes to surrender places to the French. He was also
sentenced to be fined and imprisoned. Other accusations followed, all
founded on much the same charge--appropriation of the public money. One
man, William Ellis, an accomplice of Lyons, had extorted money at
Yarmouth from ships driven by stress of weather into the port. Another,
John Peachy, had obtained from Lyons a patent giving him the exclusive
right of selling sweet wines in London. Sir John Neville was sentenced
to be fined and imprisoned, because he had allowed some soldiers whom
he was conducting to France to ravage the country all the way to
Southampton. The Commons declared in plain terms that the people of
England would no longer consent to have their interests trampled upon,
and their trade interfered with, for the sake of enriching a greedy
baronage and its creatures. In all this they were firmly supported and
encouraged by the Prince of Wales and the good Bishop William of
Wykeham, who was quite restored to the favour of the people. In fact,
the Black Prince had seen that the best policy would be to attempt to
unite against the baronage the Commons and the national clergy. The
Commons were quite ready to welcome the clergy back to office; for they
now saw only too well the selfish policy which had made John of Gaunt
wish to drive them out.

But the Commons did not stop short with attacking the evil counsellors
of John of Gaunt; they went on to impeach Alice Perrers, the woman who
had gained such an unworthy influence over the King in his old age. They
passed an ordinance against "certain women of the court, and especially
Alice Perrers, who interfered with the course of justice in the kingdom,
sitting side by side on the bench with the judges." Alice Perrers was
examined before the nobles, and banished from the court. She was obliged
to swear that she would keep away from the King.

It was by its vigorous attack upon all these abuses, and its desire to
restore an orderly and discreet administration, that this Parliament
earned for itself the name of "The Good Parliament." It established the
right of Parliament to demand the redress of grievances, and to impeach
the King's ministers. When we remember that at the beginning of the
reign of Edward III. the one function of the Commons was to vote
subsidies, we shall realize how great the increase of the power and
influence of Parliament must have been during the reign, to admit of
such proceedings as those of the Good Parliament taking place.
Parliament was now strong enough to cause the ministers of the crown to
be removed, and new ones more pleasing to it to take their place.
Knyvet, the Lord Chancellor, was the only one of the old ministry who
was retained.


Death of the Black Prince.

For the moment the people's cause had triumphed in Parliament. Meanwhile
the people's friend was slowly passing away.

The Black Prince had been afflicted for five years with a grievous
malady; but he had never been heard to murmur against the will of God.
His sufferings had been very great; he was often so ill that his servant
took him for dead. He had rallied his last strength that he might give
Parliament his support in its struggle against the Duke of Lancaster.
For this purpose he had, as we have seen, moved to the royal palace of
Westminster. There he lay in his father's great chamber, and felt that
his end was drawing very near.

Two contemporary chroniclers have given us an account of his death, so
that we are able to form a tolerably accurate picture of the scene
around his death-bed.

He bade them open the door of his room, that all his followers might
come in. When all those who had served him were gathered round his bed,
he said to them, "Sirs, pardon me that I cannot give you, who have so
loyally served me, a reward fitting your services; but God and His
saints will render it to you." They all wept bitterly; for every one of
them loved him tenderly. Then he gave them all rich gifts, and prayed
the King that he would ratify these gifts; and calling his little son to
his bedside, he bade him never change or take away the gifts which he
had given to his servants. Then turning again to the earls and barons,
and all his other followers who stood around his bedside, he said to
them in a clear voice, "I commend to you my son, who is yet but young
and small, and pray that as you have served me, so from your heart you
would serve him."

He called also his father, and his brother the Duke of Lancaster, and
commended to them his wife and his son. All promised him truly that they
would comfort his son, and maintain him in his right.

Soon his sufferings became too great for him to see any one; and it was
forbidden that any more should enter the room, where he lay prostrate in
the pangs of death. One man, Richard Stury, a political opponent of the
Prince's, is said to have forced his way in; for what end we can hardly
tell; perhaps to ask his forgiveness. But the Prince roused himself in
the midst of his sufferings to upbraid him, saying, "Now you see what
you have long desired; but I pray God that He will make an end of your
evil deeds." After this outburst, the Prince sank back half fainting.
Then the Bishop of Bangor approached, and bade him forgive all those who
had offended him, and ask God for forgiveness of his own sins, praying
also all those whom he had offended for forgiveness; but the only answer
he could get from the Prince was, "I will."

The good old Bishop thought there must be some evil spirits present, who
prevented him saying more, and so he began sprinkling the four corners
of the room with holy water. Suddenly the Prince lifted up his eyes to
heaven, and said, "God, I give Thee thanks for all Thy benefits. In all
my prayers I beg Thy pity, and that Thou wouldest grant me pardon for
those sins which against Thee I have wickedly wrought. Moreover also,
from all men whom knowingly or unknowingly I have offended, I beg with
my whole heart the favour of forgiveness." With these words he fell back
and died; and with him, says the chronicler, all hope of Englishmen

Bitter was the lamentation for his death. An old chronicler who lived in
the Prince's days says: "Him being present, they feared not the
incursions of any enemies, nor the forcible meeting in battle.... Truly
unless God holde under His blessed hand that the miserable Englishman be
not trodden down, it is to be feared that our enemies, who compasse us
on every side, will rage upon us, even unto our utter destruction, and
will take our place and country. Arise, Lord! help us and defend us for
Thy name's sake."

Only the day before his death the Prince had signed his will. In it he
appointed William of Wykeham one of his executors, which shows us what
confidence he placed in the Bishop. His will contains the most minute
directions as to his funeral. It was his express desire that he should
be buried in the great cathedral of Canterbury, near the famous English
saint, Thomas of Canterbury.

His body was therefore carried from the palace at Westminster, where he
died, to Canterbury. There, as it entered the gates, it was met by a
warrior, mounted on a prancing steed. He was armed for war, and bore the
Prince's arms quartered. Then came four men carrying banners, each of
whom wore on his head a cap with the Prince's arms. A few steps further
on the funeral procession was met by a second knight. He also rode a
stately steed; but he was armed for peace, and bore the Prince's badge
of ostrich feathers. Preceded by these warriors, the funeral procession
advanced through the city till it reached the cathedral. Then the body
of the brave Prince was laid before the high altar, and vigils and
masses were said in honour of it till the time came when it must be
carried to its last resting-place in the Lady Chapel. There it was
buried at a distance of ten feet from the shrine of the martyr St.
Thomas, whom the Prince, when alive, had always delighted to honour.
Over it soon rose the noble monument which still marks the spot where
lie the remains of the great warrior. Respecting his tomb also he had
left minute directions.

The tomb was of marble, sculptured all round with twelve shields, each a
foot high. On six of the shields were his arms, and on the other six his
badge of ostrich feathers. On the top lay his recumbent figure, worked
in relief in copper gilt. He was represented in full armour, wearing his
helmet with his crest of a leopard engraved upon it. He himself composed
the epitaph which is graven on his tomb; and it gives us a faithful
picture of the mind of the man who wrote it.

It was written in French, and may be thus translated:

    All ye that pass with closed mouth
    By where this body reposes,
    Hear this that I shall tell you,
    Just as I know to say it.
    Such as thou art, such was I:
    You shall be such as I am;
    Of death I never thought,
    So long as I had life.
    On earth I had great riches,
    Of which I made great nobleness,
    Land, houses, and great wealth,
    Clothes, horses, silver, and gold:
    But now I am poor and wretched;
    Deep in the earth I lie;
    My great beauty is all gone;
    My flesh is all wasted;
    Right narrow is my house;
    With me nought but truth remains.
    And if now ye should see me,
    I do not think that you would say
    That ever I had been a man,
    So totally am I changed.
    For God's sake pray the heavenly King
    That He have mercy on my soul.
    All they who pray for me,
    Or make accord to God for me,
    God give them His paradise,
    Where no men are wretched.

We need find no difficulty in reading aright the character of the Black
Prince. There are no contradictions to be accounted for; all is plain
and straightforward. He was a simple God-fearing man, who did his duty,
and led a life in accordance with the highest ideal of his times. He was
not in advance of his day. We owe no great reforms, no marked steps in
our national progress, to him. But he is the type of the noblest spirit
of his times; he shows us the stuff of which Englishmen were made in
those days. Friend and foe alike counted him the bravest warrior of that
age. In battle he knew no fear, and had that kind of courage and energy
which inspired the meanest man in his ranks to fight boldly like his
Prince. He was not only brave, but was a skilful general, and knew how
to dispose his troops to the best advantage. In each of his three great
victories he fought against fearful odds; and his success was due quite
as much to the skilful grouping of his troops as to his bravery.

In the treatment of his prisoners he shows the beautiful courtesy of a
true knight. Though we must blame him severely for his cruelty in the
massacre of Limoges, we must remember that he only showed himself to be
on a level with the morality of his day; moreover, he was aggravated by
ill-health and suffering, and by the treachery of his subjects. In
private life he seems to have shown great kindliness and consideration
for others. He was beloved by all who came in contact with him. The
noblest of English knights, Chandos, Felton, and many others,
accompanied him on all his campaigns, and clung to him with a devotion
which only personal love can have prompted. He forgot none of his
servants, either on his death-bed or in his will. When in his last days
he saw that the English people were suffering from misgovernment, and
from the tyranny of his brother, moved with noble pity, he gathered his
last strength that he might show himself their friend, and save them
from oppression. As far as we can judge from the scanty records of the
chroniclers, he seems to have been much beloved by his wife, the fair
maid of Kent, and to have lived with her in great happiness. He was a
sincerely religious man; his special devotion to the Holy Trinity is
repeatedly mentioned by the chroniclers, and we have seen how he never
engaged in battle without earnest prayer. His good qualities are
throughout those of a simple warrior. He had the genius of a soldier,
not the genius of a ruler. When he first became ruler of Aquitaine, he
seemed to be all-powerful. His name inspired such fear that no one would
have ventured to attack him. It seemed an easy task to attach his
subjects to himself, and form a well-consolidated principality which
might safely resist the attacks of his enemies. But he lacked the
qualities which would have enabled him to do this. He was no politician.
He did not understand how to govern with economy, and develop his
resources. Before a wise and crafty man like Charles V. of France he was
powerless. He engaged in the fatal Spanish expedition, which ruined his
health and drained his coffers. His dominions crumbled away; they were
lost one by one without any battles, whilst he looked on helplessly at
the ruin.

In reality his great victories were fruitless, and the wonderful success
of the first half of Edward III.'s reign brought no lasting result.
Edward III. was no more of a politician than his son. Instead of being
content with what he had won, and making it secure, he indulged in wild
schemes of ambition; and whilst dreaming about the French crown, he lost
the Duchy of Aquitaine. It seems impossible to doubt that if Edward III.
and his son had set about it in the right way, they might have secured
for themselves the possession of Aquitaine. As it was, they not only
lost what they had gained, but with it also what had come down to them
from their fathers. Yet we need not deplore this. For the progress of
England it was far better that she should not be hampered with external
possessions. The most important thing was, that England herself should
grow strong before she thought of extending her dominions. Edward III.'s
wars were useful to the progress of England, not because of the glory
which they shed round his name, but because the great outlay which they
involved drove him to call frequent Parliaments that he might raise

Thus a marked increase in the power and importance of Parliament is the
only beneficial result of this war. In the main its results were most
disastrous, and no wise and far-sighted ruler would ever have engaged in
it. It caused the best energies of the country to be devoted to the
pursuit of a chimerical object--the crown of France. For this object the
resources of the country were drained, and the interests of the people
were disregarded; whilst heavy taxes were laid upon them, which crippled
their commerce and their industries. The bright promise of the opening
of Edward III.'s reign found no fulfilment in the end. The chief legacy
he left to his successors was enmity with France, and a restless desire
to win back what he had lost. So whilst we admire the valour and energy
of the Black Prince in the conduct of the wars, we cannot praise his
father's wisdom in engaging in them. But we must remember that though in
wisdom he was not before his age, in valour he surpassed his countrymen
of all ages.


The First Years of Richard II.

It is not possible to make a pause in the history of the times with the
Black Prince's death. It will be well for us briefly to consider the
events which followed it.

His death interrupted the reform begun by the Good Parliament by
depriving it of his support, and prepared the way for his brother's
return to power. John of Gaunt interfered in the most unscrupulous
manner in the elections for the next Parliament, and so obtained the
return of men who reversed the acts of the Good Parliament. William of
Wykeham was again dismissed from office, and the nobles were once more
triumphant. Alice Perrers was allowed to return to the old King, who
lived at Eltham, alone and neglected. When he died, in 1377, at the age
of sixty-five, even Alice Perrers deserted him after she had stolen the
rings from his fingers. Richard II.'s accession was welcomed with joy by
the Londoners, and a magnificent ceremony graced his coronation. As he
was only in his twelfth year, a council of twelve was appointed to
govern during his minority.

Meanwhile the attack of the nobles upon the Church went on, and Wiclif,
in his zeal for reform, was working side by side with John of Gaunt. He
was beginning to be regarded with suspicion and animosity by the Pope,
and in 1377 was summoned to appear before Bishop Courtenay, of London,
to answer the charges of heresy made against him. John of Gaunt was
present to defend him, and spoke such insulting words to Courtenay that
the Londoners, who loved their bishop, rushed to his rescue. They showed
their hatred of Lancaster by sacking his palace of the Savoy; but they
only objected to Wiclif in so far as he was Lancaster's friend. In his
desires for reform they cordially sympathised; and when at the end of
the same year he was again summoned to appear before the Archbishop at
Lambeth, the Londoners broke in and dissolved the sittings of the court.
Wiclif also found a friend in the Princess of Wales, the fair maid of
Kent, who wrote to the Bishop, telling him to desist from the
proceedings against him. In the University of Oxford he was allowed to
teach and lecture as he liked, and his schemes for Church reform were
listened to with approval on all sides.

From his living of Lutterworth he sent forth itinerant preachers, who
went, as the disciples of St. Francis had done before, to labour among
the poor and the neglected. One of his great desires was to reform
preaching, and these men were taught to preach the word of God in
simplicity and purity, "where, when and to whom they could." They were
called "the Simple Priests," and spoke to the people in simple homely
language, spreading Wiclif's doctrines far and wide. For them Wiclif
wrote many small tracts, which he published in large numbers, and in
which he appealed to the people in their own language, and from their
own point of view. He had set on foot a great spiritual revival, and if
he had stopped short in his reforming tendencies, and had not gone on to
deny the doctrine of transubstantiation, he might have come down to us
canonised as St. John de Wiclif, the founder of a new order of preaching
friars. But hopes of reform in the English Church were destined to be
crushed for a time.

Wiclif published in Oxford twelve theses on the subject of
transubstantiation. The Chancellor felt himself bound to interfere, and
forbid heretical teaching in the university. Wiclif appealed to the King
to have the question settled.

At this moment all England was disturbed by the outbreak of the
Peasants' Revolt. We have seen in speaking of the Black Death many of
the causes of discontent amongst the peasantry. The wages of the
labourers were fixed by law. Rigorous attempts were made to bind the
peasant to the soil, and to restore the old conditions of serfdom. But
since the days of serfdom there had been a great advance in the
intelligence of the peasantry, who eagerly listened to the new views
which the wandering preachers sent out by Wiclif were spreading over
the country. It was said that all men were equal, and had equal rights.
The popular rhyme:

    "When Adam delved and Eve span,
    Where was then the gentleman?"

ran from mouth to mouth. The iniquity of serfdom was becoming more and
more clearly seen, and at the same time its oppressive character was
making itself more and more harshly felt. The men who had served with
courage and distinction in the French wars could not be expected to
submit to their former serfage. A simultaneous rising of the peasantry
in different parts of the country shows that the revolt had been long
planned and carefully arranged. It was the result not of any one special
act of tyranny, but of a long course of oppression, and above all of the
attempt to return to the old system of exacting personal labour as
payment for rent, instead of a money commutation.

The insurgents of Essex, under a leader who went by the name of Jack
Straw, joined with the insurgents of Kent, under Wat the Tyler, and
marched on London, striking terror by the way. The young King took
refuge in the Tower. The insurgents entered London, and began their work
of destruction. Their rage was especially directed against the lawyers.
They destroyed the Temple, with all its books and records. The foreign
merchants in the city were also treated with great cruelty. Then the
insurgents swarmed round the Tower, and demanded that the King should
come out and hear their grievances. Richard II. was only a boy; but he
knew no fear. Accompanied only by one or two attendants, he rode to Mile
End, and listened to the grievances of the peasantry. He granted all
they asked, and promised a general pardon to all concerned in the

But whilst this conference was going on, the remainder of the rebels had
broken into the Tower, seized the Archbishop Simon Sudbury, and murdered
him on Tower Hill. Their fury was directed against him, not as
Archbishop, but as Chancellor. After this it was hardly to be hoped that
there could be a peaceful end to the revolt. The next day, when quite by
chance Richard met Wat the Tyler and his followers face to face, the
peasant leader spoke so insolently that the Lord Mayor, Sir Richard
Walworth, struck him to the ground with his dagger; and when the
insurgents cried, "Kill, kill! they have killed our captain," Richard
rode boldly to the front, saying, "What need ye, my masters? I am your
captain and your King." The peasantry were easily touched. They gathered
round Richard, kneeling, and asking his pardon.

The panic caused by the revolt was over. For a week the insurgents had
kept the country in terror. Now Richard made a progress through the
counties with forty thousand men at his back, and the rebels suffered
stern and terrible justice for their revolt. The charters granted to
the peasantry in the first moment of terror were revoked, and they
seemed to have gained nothing by their rising. But they had shown the
landholders their strength; and though no immediate change was made, it
became more and more clear that the old conditions of serfdom could not
be enforced.

It is quite certain that Wiclif had nothing to do with the rising of the
peasants. Still, at the time it caused him and his teaching to be
regarded with terror by the respectable classes of society. The
communistic and socialistic views which had been spread among the people
had in many cases been preached by men, who declared themselves
followers of Wiclif. People were inclined to look upon the revolt as
partly the outcome of his teaching, and so were no longer as ready as
before to listen to his schemes for reform. Still Wiclif was not
proceeded against with severity. Certain of his opinions were laid
before a council of bishops and doctors of theology held in London, and
were pronounced erroneous; but Wiclif himself was left in peace. He
stayed within the Church, living quietly in his vicarage of Lutterworth,
and busying himself with his translation of the Bible till he died, on
the 31st December, 1384. This translation of the Bible was the natural
outcome of Wiclif's teaching. He had always insisted upon the necessity
of the word of God being preached to every one, and had said that the
Scriptures were the common property of all men. But as long as the Bible
existed only in the Latin tongue, it was a sealed book to the great
majority of men. Wiclif's earnest belief that all men should know and
study it for themselves led him to conceive the idea of translating it.

It was a great undertaking for one man to contemplate, and single-handed
he could never have accomplished it. He himself began with the New
Testament whilst Nicholas of Hereford took the Old Testament in hand.
This man was a doctor of theology, and one of the chief leaders of
Wiclif's party in Oxford. He got as far in his translation as the book
of Baruch, when he seems to have been suddenly interrupted, probably by
proceedings conducted against him on account of his opinions.

Wiclif himself translated the entire New Testament, and probably
finished the translation of the Old Testament. The next step was to get
copies of the translation made, that it might be distributed amongst the
people. This was done rapidly, and in 1382 copies of the separate books
and portions were circulated widely.

This English translation was made from the Vulgate--that is, the Latin
translation--and not from the original Greek or Hebrew. Nicholas of
Hereford stuck very closely to the Latin forms, and was almost
pedantically literal; so that he was hardly successful in making his
translation readable. Wiclif's translation is very different. He wished
above all to put into his work the spirit of the English language; to
write in such a way that he might strike home to the hearts of his
readers. Of all his English writings, his translation of the Bible is
the most remarkable for the force and beauty of the style.

Wiclif's writings mark an epoch in the development of the English
language. Chaucer did much for it; but his poems could not influence the
people in the same way that Wiclif's Bible did. Nothing else could have
the same intimate relation with the spiritual life of the people as the
Bible, a new book to most of them. No words could so firmly fix
themselves in their memory as those in which their Saviour had taught
them the meaning and the duties of their life.

The first translation of the Bible was soon found to be very faulty. It
was revised with great care by Wiclif himself, and more especially by
his friend John Purveys. It was not complete in its new and greatly
improved form till after Wiclif's death.

The Lollards, as the followers of Wiclif were called, formed a strong
party, and their fervour did not begin to die out till the end of Henry
V.'s reign; but we cannot doubt that the movement would have had more
permanent results, had it not been interrupted by the Peasants' Revolt.

With the remainder of Richard II.'s reign we have nothing to do. We have
only thought it right to trace briefly the movement amongst the working
classes, which was the most important consequence of the Black Death.

In Wiclif's teaching and in the Peasants' Revolt we see the two most
striking events of this epoch. In a certain way they were the results of
the French wars, whose course we have been following. These wars
produced a general stir and ferment; they gave the people new ideas and
new life. The men who had earned such distinction by their brave
fighting at Cressy and Poitiers were not content to settle down on their
return home to the old state of things. They wanted greater freedom,
better wages, an improved manner of living; their minds were open to
receive new teaching. The result was the increasing discontent with
their position, which led to the Peasants' Revolt, and the eagerness
with which Wiclif's teaching was received on all sides.

But both Wiclif's teaching and the views expressed by the leaders of the
Peasants' Revolt were premature. They were founded upon principles which
could not at that time meet with general acceptance, and they were
followed by a decided reaction. A period of darkness followed this great
burst of intellectual life. In literature there were no worthy
successors of Chaucer. The reforming views of Wiclif were slowly stamped
out. The peasants failed in obtaining those results for which they had
struggled. From the time of Chaucer till the days of the Reformation
there is no great name in the history of English literature. It was not
till then that intellectual life revived in England, and England took
those great steps in advance which Wiclif had hoped she might take in
his day. But we must not look upon the Reformation as in any way the
result of Wiclif's teaching. By that time his ideas had faded away from
men's remembrance, and the English Reformation received its impulse from
Luther's teaching in Germany.

Even in this way the influence of the French wars was transient. The
advantages which Edward III. and the Black Prince gained by their
victories were lost, even in their own lifetime. In the same manner, the
intellectual movement produced by these wars was stamped out, and was
followed only by the long anarchy of the wars of the Roses.



 Angoulême, Black Prince at, 180.

 Anjou, Duke of, 130, 182.

 Aquitaine, Extent of Duchy, 24
   Condition of, 145-148
   Discontent in, 177
   Disasters in, 203.

 Archers, 29, 30.

 Armagnac, Count of, 150.

 Arteveldt, Jacques van, Edward III.'s Ally, 12
   His Relations with Edward III., 14
   Makes Truce with Philip of Valois, 21
   Meets Edward III. at Escluse, 24
   Murdered at Ghent, 25.

 Audley, Sir James, 55, 62, 103, 104, 111.

 Auvergne Plundered by the English, 96.

 Avignon, Popes at, 194.

 Baliol, King of Scotland, 5.

 Bangor, Bishop of, 204, 214.

 Banquets, 67.

 Bardi; Edward pawns his Jewels to them, 15.

 Bastides, 146, 147.

 Bed-hangings, 66.

 Berkhampstead, 140.

 Berry, Duke of, 130, 182.

 Berwick, 5, 93.

 Bible, Wiclif's, 226, 228.

 Biscaya, Maritime Towns of, 86, 90.

 Black Death, 72
   Nature of, 73
   Mortality of, 73-75
   Results of, 76, 80, 229.

 Black Prince. See Edward.

 Blanche, Duchess, 133, 135, 137.

 Blanquetaque, Ford of, 36.

 Blois, Charles of, 21, 48.

 Bohemia, King of, 42, 44.

 Boniface VIII., Pope, 193.

 Bordeaux, Black Prince's court at, 149, 150.

 Bretigny, Treaty of, 128-131, 174.

 Bristol, Effects of Black Death, in 74.

 Britany, Struggle in, 21, 48.

 Bruce, David, 5, 47, 48.

 Bruce, Robert, recognised King, 4
   Death, 5.

 Bruges, Congress of, 202-204.

 Burgesses in Parliament, 189.

 Burgos, 169.

 Burgundy, Duke of, 126.

 Burgundy, Edward III. in, 127.

 Burley, Dr., Black Prince's Tutor, 9.

 Burnt Candlemas, 93.

 Caen taken by English, 33.

 Calais, Siege of, 46, 50.

 Calverly, Sir Hugh, 164.

 Cambridge, Edmund Earl of, 139.

 Canterbury, 115, 215.

 Carcassone burnt by the English, 95.

 Cerda, De la, 86.

 Chandos, Sir John, 55, 62, 87, 105, 107, 131, 149, 156, 158, 166
   His Death, 180, 182.

 Chargny, Geoffroy de, 51.

 Charles, Dauphin, makes Peace with King of Navarre, 121
   Enters Paris, 121
   Refuses English Proposals of Peace, 122.

 Charles V. Summons Black Prince to Paris, 178
   Declares War against England, 179
   Allies with Henry of Trastamare, 153
   Character, 162, 174.

 Charles, King of Navarre, 92, 93, 119, 121, 158, 162, 163, 167, 175.

 Charterhouse, Origin of, 75.

 Chaucer, Geoffrey, 123, 134-138, 228, 229.

 Chivalry, 55-60.

 Clarence, Lionel, Duke of, 139.

 Christmas Festivities, 69, 70.

 Clement VI. tries to make Peace, 51.

 Clergy, State of, under Edward III., 193, 195-197
   Ejected from Office, 200
   Their Luxury, 143.

 Commerce between England and Flanders, 14.

 Courtenay, Bishop, 222.

 Cressy, Battle of, 37-45.

 Crusades, develop Chivalry, 56, 59.

 Dax, 159, 160.

 De la Mare, Peter, 206, 207.

 Derby, Earl of, 22, 24.

 Dress, 64, 65.

 Du Guesclin, Bertrand, 154, 161, 163.

 Edward I.; Policy in Aquitaine, 146.

 Edward II.; his Government, 2
   Death, 3.

 Edward III.; Conspires against Isabella and Mortimer, 3
   Undertakes Government himself, 4
   Expedition against Scotland, 5
   Claim to French Crown, 7
   Sails for Flanders, 14
   Visits the Emperor, 15
   Meets the French at Cambrai, 16
   Assumes title of King of France, 16
   Grants Charters to Flemish Towns, 16
   His Debts, 18
   Exploit at Calais, 52, 53
   Defeats the Spaniards at Sea, 87
   His Jubilee, 139
   Character, 139, 140
   Policy towards Aquitaine, 148
   His Death, 221.

 Edward the Black Prince: Birth, 1
   Youth, 8
   Education, 9
   Character, 10
   Dignities, 11
   Goes to Flanders, 24
   Knighted, 32
   Commands, 1st Battalion at Cressy, 38
   His Danger, 42
   Gains name of Black Prince, 51
   His Will, 66
   Fights with the Spaniards at Sea, 89
   Leads a Raid into France, 95
   Wins Battle of Poitiers, 98-108
   Courtesy to King John, 108, 109
   Letters about Poitiers, 111, 112
   Enters Bordeaux in Triumph, 113
   Concludes Truce with France, 115
   Goes to France with Edward III., 124
   Accompanies King John to Boulogne, 129
   Marriage, 132, 133
   Made Duke of Aquitaine, 133
   Goes to Aquitaine, 145, 146
   His Magnificence, 150
   Reasons for Helping Pedro, 155
   Leaves Bordeaux, 159, 160
   Manifesto to Don Henry, 163
   Prayer before Battle of Navarette, 166
   Returns to Aquitaine, 171, 172
   Broken Health, 173
   Releases Du Guesclin, 175
   Summoned to Paris, 178
   Prepares for last Struggle, 183
   Returns to England, 186
   Supports Parliament, 205, 207
   Death of, 212-215
   Funeral, 215
   Will, 215
   Tomb, 216
   Epitaph, 216
   Character, 217-219.

 Edward, Prince, 150, 186.

 Ellis, William, 209.

 Extravagance in England, 143.

 Fay, Sir Godemar du, 36.

 Felton, 156, 158, 164.

 Flagellants, 75, 76.

 Flanders: Condition in 1336, 13.

 Flavigny, Edward III. spends Lent at, 126.

 Foix, Count of, 150.

 France, English Possessions in, 22.

 Free Companies ravage France, 91, 120
   Engaged by Henry of Trastamare, 154
   By Black Prince, 158.

 French Wars, Causes of, 6
   Preparations for, 12
   Results of, 219, 220, 230.

 Furniture, 66, 67.

 Garter, Order of the, 55, 60-62.

 Gascon, Lords, 114, 177, 178.

 Gaunt, John of, made Duke of Lancaster, 133
   Marriage, 134, 135, 160
   Befriends Chaucer, 134, 137
   At Navarette, 166
   Invades North of France, 181
   Succeeds Black Prince in Aquitaine, 186
   Opposes Clergy, 197-199
   His Power, 201
   At Bruges, 203
   Unpopularity, 205
   Second Marriage, 201
   His Anger against Parliament, 207
   Return to Power, 221
   Defends Wiclif, 222.

 Genoese Archers, 40, 41.

 Gilds of the City of London, 116.

 Glass Windows, 66.

 Gobin Agace, 36.

 Good Parliament, 205-211, 221.

 "Great Company," 131.

 Guesclin, Bertrand du, 154, 161-163.

 Guienne, Aggressions of the French upon, 22.

 Guisnes, Congress of, 90, 92.

 Hallidon Hill, Battle of, 5.

 Harcourt, Sir Godfrey de, 32.

 Hawking, 31, 70.

 Henry of Trastamare, 153, 154, 160, 163, 164, 171, 176.

 Hereford, Nicholas of, 227.

 Hobblers, 29.

 Hostages, French, in England, 129, 130, 144.

 Households of Noblemen, 67.

 Hunting, 70.

 Innocent VI., Pope, Attempts to make Peace, 128.

 Isabella, Queen: her Power, 1, 3
   Imprisoned, 4.

 Islip, Archbishop Simon, "Remonstrance," 141, 143.

 Jacquerie, 120, 121.

 Joan of Kent, 133, 159, 160.

 Joan, Princess, 75.

 John of Gaunt. See Gaunt.

 John the Good, King of France, Accession, 90
   Character, 91
   Marches from Chartres, 97
   Bravery at Poitiers, 106
   Taken Prisoner, 107, 108
   In England, 118
   His Ransom, 129
   Returns to France, 129, 130
   Returns to Captivity, 144.

 Jubilee, Edward III.'s, 139.

 Jugglers, 67.

 Kent, Edmund Earl of, Rebels against Mortimer, 3.

 Knights: their Armour, 28
   Education, 56.

 Knighthood, Institution of, 57, 58.

 Knyvet, Lord Chancellor, 211.

 La Hogue, English Troops land at, 32.

 Labour, Effects of Black Death upon, 76-79.

 Labourers, Statute of, 78, 79
   Condition of, 81
   Combinations amongst, 81.

 Lancaster, Henry Duke of, 124, 128, 133.

 Lancaster, John Duke of. See Gaunt.

 Langland, William, 82, 85, 195.

 La Rochelle, yielded to English, 130.

 Latimer, Lord, Impeachment of, 209.

 Legislation in Edward III.'s Reign, 191.

 Libourne, 146.

 Limoges, taken by French, 182
   Besieged by Black Prince, 183
   Sacked, 184, 185.

 Logrono, 164.

 London, Entered by Black Prince in Triumph, 115, 118
   Appearance of, 117
   Wealth of, 142, 143
   Bridge, 116.

 Ludi, 69.

 Lyons, Richard, 208, 209.

 Manny, Sir Walter, 49, 52, 55, 74, 127.

 Marcel, Etienne, 119, 121.

 Minstrels, 67.

 Misrule, Lord of, 70.

 Montfort, De, 21, 48.

 Morbeque, Denys, 106.

 Mortimer: his Power, 1, 3, 4.

 Mysteries, 68, 69.

 Navarre, King of. See Charles King of Navarre.

 Navarette, Battle of, 165, 168.

 Neville, Sir John, 209.

 Nevil's Cross, Battle of, 47.

 Niort, 131.

 Normandy Ravaged by English, 33.

 Northampton, Treaty of, 4.

 Norwich, Effects of Black Death in, 74.

 Oisemont, 36.

 Orleans, Duke of, 130.

 Oxford, Wiclif in, 197, 198, 223.

 Papacy, Degradation of, 193.

 Parliament of Winchester, 132
   Under Edward I., 189
   Growth in Power of, 188, 220
   Under Edward III., 190-192.

 Peasants' Revolt, 223-226, 229.

 Pedro the Cruel, 152-158, 168-170, 176.

 Perigord, Cardinal of, 100, 101, 114.

 Perrers, Alice, 187, 210, 221.

 Philip le Hardi, Duke of Burgundy, 105.

 Philip VI. of Valois: his Ambition, 8
   Makes Truce with Flemings, 21
   Death of, 90.

 Philippa, Queen, at Calais, 50
   Death of, 187.

 Picard, Henry, 142.

 Piers the Plowman, 82, 85, 195, 196.

 Plague, Second outbreak of, 133.

 Poissy, 35.

 Poitiers, Battle of, 98-110.

 Purveys, John, 228.

 Præmunire, Statute of, 195.

 Provisors, Statute of, 194.

 Rheims, Besieged by Edward III., 125, 126.

 Ribeaumont, Reconnoitres English before Poitiers, 98.

 Richard II., 150, 221, 225.

 Rochelle, 149.

 Romorantin, Captured by the Black Prince, 97.

 Roncesvalles, Pass of, 162.

 Serfdom, 77, 78.

 Sluys, Battle of, 18, 19.

 Soldiers: how Raised, 27
   their Pay, 27
   how Armed, 28.

 Spain, Condition of, 151-153.

 Spanish Expedition, Decided on, 157
   Results of, 173.

 St. George, Chapel of, 61.

 St. Pierre, Eustace de, 49.

 Straw, Jack, 224.

 Stury, Richard, 213.

 Sumptuary Statute, 140, 141.

 Sudbury, Archbishop, Murdered, 225.

 Tax, Hearth, 177, 183.

 Taxation under Edward III., 192, 193.

 Tello, Don, 164.

 Tonnerre, Taken by Edward III., 126.

 Tournaments, 54, 61-64.

 Towns, Struggle of, for Charters, 147.

 Trastamare. See Henry of.

 Tregetours, 67.

 Truce between England and France (1340), 21.

 Tumblers, 67, 68.

 Tyler, Wat the, 224, 225.

 Urban VI., Pope, 198.

 Valladolid, Camp at, 170.

 Vienne, John of, 47.

 Walworth, Richard, 225.

 Whittlesey, Archbishop, 201.

 Wiclif, John, 197
   Union with Gaunt, 198-200
   At Bruges, 203
   Before Bishop Courtenay, 222
   His Labours, 222, 223
   Translation of the Bible, 226-228
   His Teaching, 229, 230.

 Winchelsea Pillaged by the French, 127.

 Winchester, Bishop of. See Wykeham.

 Wine Trade, 148.

 Wykeham, William of, 199, 200, 210, 215, 221.

    Transcriber's notes:

    A paragraph break has been inserted before the first line of Page 73:
    "The disease seemed to be a poisoning of the blood."

    Battle off Sluys       19
    Battle of Sluys        19

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    to the Kings of France for their county. The
    to the Kings of France for their country. The

    their own superiority, were impatient to fight,
    their own superiority, were impatient to fight.

    Wyclif, wishes for the return of the apostolical
    Wiclif, wishes for the return of the apostolical

    dad been carried off to supply the garrisons. Moreover
    had been carried off to supply the garrisons. Moreover

    knights to assult the barriers of Paris; but they
    knights to assault the barriers of Paris; but they

    Wycliff were intimately connected with him.
    Wiclif were intimately connected with him.

    more valiant or courteous then he. His servants
    more valiant or courteous than he. His servants

    before they begun the fight. The English were
    before they began the fight. The English were

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