After the death of King John in 1216, Louis VIII, heir to the French kingdom, sailed across the English channel to lay claim to the English throne. William, who acted as the regent for the young Henry III, led the English forces against the French army that was besieging the castle of Lincoln, and on May 20th the two sides met in battle. As the text below recounts, William personally led the attack against the French forces and defeated them. A few months later Prince Louis was forced to give up his invasion of England.
Lines 16131 to 16976
Any man with ears to hear, hear me now
16132 and make sure he pays full attention to my words!
For the fact is that in my words you will hear it all,
how God came to the assistance of that worthy man
who, above all others, was the very best of men,
16136 the most highly prized and trusted.
“Hear me, you noble, loyal knights, ”
said William the Marshal,
“you who keep faith with the King.
16140 In God’s name hear me now,
for your attention to what I say is most necessary.
Now that we, in order to defend our name,
for ourselves and for the sake of our loved ones,
16144 our wives and our children,
and to defend our land
and win for ourselves the highest honour,
and to safeguard the peace of Holy Church
16148 which our enemies have broken and infringed,
and to gain redemption
and pardon for all our sins,
now that we, for all that, have taken on the burden of armed combat,
16152 let us make sure there is no coward amongst us!
Some of our enemies
have got inside Lincoln,
and I know for a fact that the reason they have gone inside
16156 is to lay siege to our castle.
However, they are not all there.
I believe that lord Louis
has gone elsewhere.
16160 Those who have set out on this mission
have been rash in making their assault.
We shall be a lily-livered lot
if we do not now take revenge
16164 on those who have come from France
to take for themselves the lands of our men,
thinking to inherit the same.
They seek our total destruction;
16168 so, in God’s name, let us play for the highest stakes,
for, if victory is ours,
we must truly bear in mind
that honour will accrue to us,
16172 and that that heritage will be defended,
for us and our descendants,
which they shamefully wish
to deprive us of; we will truly hold on to that,
16176 since it is God’s wish that we defend ourselves.
And, since their army is divided,
we shall more easily overcome a part
of their force than if they were all together.
16180 What I say is right and makes sense, I feel;
God wills it and reason proves it to be right.
So, it is right that each of you should strive
to the best of his ability to meet this need,
16184 for otherwise we cannot achieve our objective.
There is not a man here who does not see
that we must free the road that lies ahead
with blades of iron and steel.
16188 This is not the time for idle threats,
let us quickly launch an attack on them.
Let us give thanks to God, who has given us the opportunity
to take our revenge
16192 on those who came here
to do us harm and damage.
Nobody should hold back:
a man takes full revenge for the wrong and shame done to him
16196 who overcomes his enemy.”
These words put hope in their hearts,
cheered, strengthened and emboldened them,
so that they did not hesitate to advance.
16200 On the Wednesday of Whitsun
they rode to Newark,
where they camped for the night.
The next day, Thursday, they rested.
16204 The Normans in the army
went to see the young Marshal
and spoke to him the words
that you will hear me say next:
16208 “In the name of God,” they said, “my dear lord,
you were born in Normandy,
so it is only right for us to tell you
that you are aware that the Normans,
16212 should be given the privilege of dealing the first blows
in every battle fought.
Make sure that you don’t fall down on this.”
When the earl of Chester heard
16216 these words, he was not one bit pleased,
and, indeed, he told them plainly, without mincing words,
that, if he was not given the right to launch the first attack,
he would not join them in the army
16220 and they would not have his support.
The Marshal and those present
did not like this dissension at all,
so they granted his every wish,
16224 whilst reserving the rights of the Normans.
Once the matter had been settled,
the papal legate, as was his duty,
absolved them with full remission
16228 and pardon of their sins,
of all the sins committed by them
since the hour of their birth,
so that they might be free to receive
16232 salvation on Judgement Day.
He then excommunicated the French
inside the town,
a fact that is well known to people.
16236 The legate then rode
straight to Nottingham,
whilst the army proceeded to Torksey.
They camped there that night
16240 and the next day, a Saturday,
following mass, they took up their arms
and put every effort into preparing themselves.
When they were well and truly armed,
16244 they organised and duly
drew up their squadrons,
and formed their battalions.
The earl of Chester rode out first,
16248 a brave and highly experienced knight,
with the earl Marshal next,
he and his son side by side,
both of them having high expectations
16252 of advancing their cause to the best of their ability.
And so they did, very clearly,
for their ability produced a rich return.
The worthy earl of Salisbury,
16256 whom may the Lord our God and his mother
grant the right to share in his glory,
rode forward in the third formation.
The worthy bishop of Winchester,
16260 who was in command of one part of the army
led the fourth formation
was not for one moment harmed by that.
16264 When the entire army was counted up,
there were only four hundred
and five knights amongst them,
and, I can assure you, crossbowmen
16268 only three hundred and seventeen.
They were few, but they conducted themselves in a fine manner,
for they were brave and valiant men.
And once they had ridden out,
16272 properly drawn up in close ranks,
the Marshal spoke to them
in a very stirring way,
in the manner of a man who well knew how to do that
16276 and was best capable of pulling it off.
He said: “Now listen, my lords!
There is honour and glory to be won here,
and my opinion is that we have the chance
16280 to free our land.
It is true that you can win this battle.
Our lands and our possessions those men
have seized and taken by force.
16284 Shame be upon the man who does not strive,
this very day, to put up a challenge,
and may the Lord our God take care of the matter!
You see them here in your power.
16288 So much do I fully guarantee,
that they are ours for the taking, whatever happens,
if courage and bravery are not found wanting.
And, if we die …………………..,
16292 God, who knows who are his loyal servants,
will place us today in paradise,
of that I am completely certain.
And, if we beat them, it is no lie to say
16296 that we will have won eternal glory
for the rest of our lives,
both for ourselves and for our kin.
And I shall tell you another fact
16300 which works very badly against them:
they are excommunicated
and for that reason all the more trapped.
I can tell you that they will come to a sticky end
16304 as they descend into hell.
There you see men who have started a war
on God and Holy Church.
I can fully guarantee you this,
16308 that God has surrendered them into our hands.
Let us make haste and attack them,
for it truly is time to do so!”
When the Marshal had spoken,
16312 as the worthy, loyal,
and wise knight he was,
he entrusted his crossbowmen
to Peter, the worthy bishop of Winchester,
16316 who was in charge of leading them,
who had sound knowledge in that sphere,
and who strove hard to perform well.
Then he told him to place himself straightway
16320 to the right of the French,
and he told the bowmen to make sure to
spread themselves out in a long line,
so that, when the French arrived,
16324 their horses would be killed under them.
The Marshal then asked for
two hundred soldiers and ordered them
to be ready to kill
16328 their own horses with their knives,
so as to be able to take shelter behind them,
if necessary, in an emergency.
All those who listened to the earl
16332 displayed their joy
and disported themselves as merrily
as if they were at a tournament.
In the castle,
16336 if I have got my figures right,
there were six hundred and eleven French knights,
and at least a thousand foot soldiers,
not counting the English with them,
16340 who were still on the French side.
Out of the city rode
Sir Simon de Poissy,
along with the count of Perche
16344 and the earl of Winchester,
their mission being to observe the King’s men
and bring back a true report on their strength.
They went and quickly returned.
16348 The result of their observation
was that they estimated them to be a fine body of men,
and that a troop better equipped for war
and more resolute to wage it,
16352 nobody had ever seen in any land.
Once they heard the news given to them,
the French withdrew behind their walls,
and they said that they knew full well
16356 that the King’s men had not the power
to attack them inside the city,
whatever pretence they put up,
and that they would go away;
16360 but the King’s men would not be allowed
to get away scot-free,
because they would have other encounters
as they left, so they swore.
16364 And they disclosed and gave what,
in their opinion, was the real reason
why and how
they would gain many of their possessions:
16368 their horses were weary
from carrying heavy burdens, from the long journeys,
from all the stopping, the turning round,
because both by night and by day
16372 their masters had to be mounted on their backs.
The French in saying this spoke the truth,
but, nevertheless, the King’s men
began to move quickly
16376 with the entire army towards the city,
and boldly so, not caring who saw them.
And the Marshal constantly
exhorted and addressed them,
16380 giving them heart and courage.
His words to them were: “My lords, my friends,
look how those who mustered
with a view to riding to attack you
16384 have already shown their true colours
and retreated behind their walls;
that is what God promised us.
God gives us great glory!
16388 This is our first victory,
the fact that we have made the French hide away,
men who in the past were accustomed
to coming first in the tournament;
16392 God is giving us good guidance.
They greatly increase our worth and lessen their own
when they leave us in charge of the fields outside.
We shall encircle the city,
16396 I can tell you that for a fact.
Let us perform well, God so wishes it.
Whoever was wont to be a brave man,
let him really see to it that he is so now,
16400 lest he repent of his deeds this day.”
My lords, I must add something further:
those who have given me my subject matter
do not agree unanimously,
16404 and I cannot follow all of them
for that would be wrong of me
and I would lose the right road
and be less trustworthy,
16408 since, when telling a true story,
nobody does right to lie;
lies are not to be condoned
in a matter which is so well known,
16412 so widely heard about and witnessed.
But I well tell you this much, in a word,
that when the Marshal saw and knew
about the whole business and the manner of it,
16416 namely that the other side had retreated,
before our army advanced further,
he told John the Marshal,
his nephew, to go
16420 and make enquiries
about the lie of the land inside,
and then return.
And Sir John carried out
16424 quickly and to good effect what his uncle had said:
he went straight to the castle,
and, as he reached it,
Sir Geoffrey de Serlant
16428 came riding up to meet him.
On one side of the road
he showed him the entrance
through which the army could penetrate the castle,
16432 for there would be nobody there to stop it.
Sir John could see for himself
that the man showing him the entrance
was not lying in any way,
16436 and so he returned as soon as possible,
for he had no wish to tarry.
Just as he thought to turn his horse round,
the French, who were lying in ambush,
16440 immediately assailed him.
He did not behave like a man terrified
but boldly encountered
the first few of them to reach him,
16444 and they could not withstand him,
because of his bravery and courage,
his skill and his speed.
He returned so quickly to where he had come from …
16448 and there was not a single one of them there.
Thus, in very truth, John the Marshal
departed from the French
without suffering any harm or mischief,
16452 and he fully made them realise
that he had gone there to seek them out
and to claim his land from them.
Once he had sent them on their way,
16456 he rode straight back to his uncle
and told him all that had happened to him.
I can tell you that his uncle was much pleased
by his exploit, the encounter with the enemy,
16460 and with the news about the entrance.
That is what Sir John did on that occasion,
but it would not be right for me
to relate my account in advance;
16464 what he did in the battle
will be related when the right moment comes,
and as my written source stipulates.
The bishop of Winchester,
16468 who had a great wish to learn about their situation,
rode of his own will towards the walls,
with a big contingent of crossbowmen.
Then he told them to wait for him there,
16472 and to remain patient for a while,
and said that he would return quickly.
Taking with him only one soldier,
he entered the castle,
16476 and, as he did so, he met
Sir Geoffrey de Serlan,
who had been in great fear.
They saw the collapsing fallen walls
16480 and greatly lamented what they saw.
The bishop witnessed the damage sustained
by walls, houses, and people,
knocked down to the ground and laid low
16484 by the stones launched by catapults.
Some of those inside the castle
tried to protect him, and asked him,
for God’s sake, to stand back,
16488 because of the mangonels and catapults
which were breaking everything in sight,
but he entered the tower.
There he found that worthy lady
16492 (may God protect her in body and soul!)
who was its castellan
and was defending it to the best of her ability.
The lady was very pleased
16496 and was full of joy at his arrival,
and he gave her great comfort
through the news he brought her.
I can tell you that he did not stay long there;
16500 he entered the town on foot
through a postern gate, for his wish was
to see what the situation was there.
And as he looked around him,
16504 he caught sight of an old gate,
a gate of great antiquity
which was the link between the city walls
and those of the castle.
16508 When he saw it, he was very pleased,
but it had long before been
blocked in with stone and cement,
so that nobody could have passed through it,
16512 whatever need he had to do so.
Once the bishop had seen
and espied that gate,
he had it knocked out
16516 so as to give better protection to the castle,
and so that the king’s army could see and know
that they had a certain point of entry there.
But, before doing so, he prayed to God in the matter,
16520 and God granted him his wish.
The bishop returned to join the army,
whose men came to meet him with joy in their hearts,
and every man in his squadron was singing,
16524 as if victory were already theirs.
The bishop was full of mirth
as he told them gently, in jest,
why he had played that trick of his:
16528 it was with a view to claiming the bishop’s palace
to sleep in when he got there,
for he ought to have it by right.
“The reason why it should be given up to me
16532 is that I have arranged that entrance
for the safe
and valorous entry of our men.”
And when Fulcher’s men heard
16536 these words, they were overjoyed;
they went straight ahead and entered,
but those inside repelled them
savagely, so that they achieved hardly anything
16540 and so their fortunes quickly turned.
The bishop said to the Marshal:
“Upon my soul, these men of ours did badly,
for it is abundantly obvious
16544 that they haven’t yet found
the right gate, the one I had in mind.
There they will find no resistance,
for I can tell you that nobody guards it;
16548 no man on our side need have any fear.
And I can tell you for a fact
that a part of their wall
is breached, to our advantage,
16552 but not open to those inside.
Come, I will take you there!”
The Marshal replied,
that worthy earl William,
16556 “God’s lance! Here, bring me my helmet!”
The bishop said in reply: “My lord,
listen a while to what I wish to say:
it is not wise to act in such haste
16560 and launch such an attack at this time.
Instead, allow two men
from each of our squadrons
to go round the tower,
16564 to find out about the hiding-places,
and, in line with what they discover,
to give us their advice.”
The Marshal accepted this,
16568 and then set forth,
whilst the bishop of Winchester
………. ten …………….;
he took two from each formation,
16572 and with them he went to the place.
And when those who went encountered the soldiers,
who had beaten an ugly retreat,
they reviled them greatly
16576 when they were close to them in the throng.
“Ride on!” the Marshal then said
to all his men, “for you will see them
beaten in a short while.
16580 Shame be upon the head of him who waits longer!”
The bishop said to him: “My dear lord,
listen a while to what I wish to say to you.
Wait in there for your men,
16584 for it will be a finer and more proper thing,
and far safer, I think,
if we all rode there as a body.
That is what is fitting, I believe,
16588 and, at the same time, our enemies will have greater fear of us
when they see us all together;
our arrival will cost them dearly.”
The truth is that the Marshal
16592 had no inclination to accept these words of advice.
Instead, more swiftly than a merlin could fly,
he spurred on his horse,
and all those in his company
16596 were emboldened by what they saw him do.
A young lad then said to him:
“In God’s name, my dear lord, wait for us;
you haven’t got your helmet on.”
16600 It was then that earl William realised that this was so,
so he said to the young Marshal:
“Wait for me here
while I get my helmet;
16604 I nearly made a mistake there.”
The delay was not for long,
and once the helmet was on his head
he appeared more handsome than all the rest.
16608 As swiftly as if he were a bird,
a sparrowhawk or an eagle,
he pricked the horse with his spurs.
From now on he wished to be in full view.
16612 No ravenous lion, on finding its prey
helpless on the ground beneath it,
ever rushed at it with such ferocity,
I would say, as did the Marshal
16616 when he attacked his enemies.
This man, who had performed so many deeds of valour,
plunged into the very thick of them
over a distance greater than three spears’ length,
16620 thinning their ranks by main force
and breaking up in his path a press
which was very tightly formed and crowding in on him.
He really knew how to clear the way ahead,
16624 routing them all and pushing them aside.
The bishop followed,
many times, in all directions:
16628 “This way! God is with the Marshal!”
But I nearly omitted to mention the fact
that, as our side arrived, there was killed
their most expert stonethrower,
16632 the one who was bombarding the tower.
When he saw our knights,
he had become more heartened and resolute,
for he thought they were on his side,
16636 so the game seemed a better one to him.
He put his stone in the catapult,
and those coming up behind him,
once they had heard him say “Eh!” twice,
16640 prevented him from saying another “Eh!”,
for they cut off his head
without any further ceremony.
I can vouch for the fact that the young Marshal
16644 made it plain for all to see
that he had no wish to be left behind,
since his banner was always
seen at the very front,
16648 and was well recognised there that day.
Our men rode up most fiercely,
and the other side began to put up
a very stout defence,
16652 though they had no wish to tarry there for very long,
for it was not a matter of issuing threats.
By the time the Marshal had had his helmet laced up,
I can tell you for a fact that
16656 his son entered the city
through the breach in the wall, with a sizeable contingent of his own men,
of which there were many worthy present.
16660 ….he found the enemy there,
who formed a far more handsome contingent,
for there were many more of those there
assembled in the city
16664 than in the company of those who had entered.
Despite that, he lost no time in assailing them.
And I can tell you that, within a very short time,
they had inflicted great damage on those inside,
16668 although many feats of arms had been performed
by both sides in the meantime.
Before it came to the conclusion of the fight,
those inside the city had had
16672 the worst of it, I can tell you,
for I can assure you that
the young Marshal continually
sent their men on their way by force.
16676 And the father came galloping up,
together with the worthy earl of Salisbury,
to whom may God and his mother
grant such a reward
16680 that he find pardon for his sins;
these two turned to the right,
leaving on their left
a church, and they came across the enemy,
16684 many of them
in great fear and trembling.
Robert of Roppesley
picked up a lance to joust,
16688 and, whatever the cost might be to him,
he dealt such a savage blow to the earl
of Salisbury, as our story has it,
that he broke his lance into pieces,
16692 after which he rode on past.
As he rode back,
the Marshal dealt him such a fierce
blow between the shoulders
16696 that he almost knocked him to the ground.
And he, who had all the misfortune,
slid to the ground
and, out of fear, went to hide
16700 as quickly as he could in an upper room,
for he dared not be found on the ground.
And our side had no inclination to pay him much attention
and rode on in pursuit.
16704 They found the count of Perche
right in front of the church,
looking very arrogant and proud.
He was a very tall, handsome, fine-looking man,
16708 and he had many men with him.
They put up a very stern defence,
whilst our side strove with all their might
to do them mischief,
16712 for they detested the French.
There were many feats of arms performed there,
and the truth is that there were many
of their men who were found
16716 within the walls wounded and maimed,
trampled on and beaten,
and many taken captive,
and many of our own also came to grief,
16720 for nobody there sought protection
or gave himself up for ransom or wished to be enrolled among the prisoners;
all were intent on the fight.
[Fierce was the battle and the fighting,]
16724 and the count of Perche performed
many great feats of arms that day,
although he did not last out long,
for he began to inflict
16728 great damage on our men.
The Marshal could see that the French
were forcing his men
from the high ground to the low,
16732 pushing them back down.
Immediately he stretched out his hand
and took the count of Perche’s horse by the bridle,
and that seemed the right thing to do,
16736 for he was the highest ranking man
to be found on the French side.
However, before that, he had been wounded
mortally through his eyehole
16740 by a cruel straight thrust of the sword
delivered by Sir Reginald Croc
with the point of the sword straight through the eye.
When the count of Perche saw the defenders
16744 being so pushed back by our men,
he immediately let go of his bridle,
took his sword in both hands,
and dealt the Marshal
16748 three consecutive blows on his helmet.
The blows dealt were so hard and fierce
that the marks could be clearly seen on the helmet.
But, immediately after that, he slumped down
16752 and fell from his horse.
Truly, when the earl Marshal saw
the count fall in this manner,
he thought he had fainted
16756 and feared he would be blamed.
To William de Montigny
he said: “Dismount and take off
that helmet which is causing him great distress;
16760 I fear that he may not get up again.”
Once his helmet had been removed,
while the Marshal was by his side
to see that he was stone dead,
16764 the sorrow there was intense.
Once the blade had been withdrawn
from the wound he had received through
his eyehole, there was nothing for him but death.
16768 It was a great pity that he died in this manner.
And when the French, who were a mighty force,
saw that our men had attacked
them with such vigour,
16772 they were greatly dismayed
and could no longer stand and resist.
They rode down a street on the left
and headed for Wigford,
16776 for it was difficult for them to stand their ground.
They were pleased when they found
some of their men still in the field;
very pleased, I should think.
16780 They then grouped together
with a view to launching another assault,
but they would have done better to steal away,
as some did subsequently,
16784 as I read it in my source,
for they looked to their right
and saw the earl of Chester
in the company of his worthy men,
16788 and that turned out to be to their great cost.
The young Marshal went to see his father,
and he gave him a very warm welcome
and was overjoyed
16792 by what he had seen and heard,
that is that his son performed so exceedingly well
in the combat, which was much to his liking.
The father asked: “Are you wounded?”
16796 He replied: “My lord, not at all.”
The worthy man in turn said: “I am certain that,
if it please God, our losses
will be somewhat repaired today.
16800 In my opinion and estimation,
we shall either defeat them this very day
or they will leave us victors in the field.
Then it will be plain for all to see
16804 how the French perform.
Let every man take thought to do well,
for we have no wish to seek their company.”
After that the French arrived
16808 with the English
who had fallen in with them.
In tight battle-formation
they came riding uphill,
16812 but, before they had reached the top,
they met our forces.
They were not at all pleased by what they saw,
for our side rode in a fine, orderly fashion
16816 between the church and the castle.
They engaged with their men and attacked them
so savagely that they drove them
by force back down hill, in disarray
16820 and not following road or track.
Sir Alan Basset and his brother,
Sir Thomas, with loud shouts
attacked them from behind
16824 together with all their bold and valiant men.
When they saw themselves surrounded,
they were somewhat dismayed,
and they had no time to rest nor find relief
16828 until they reached the bridge in Wigford.
But then they were on soft ground.
A man would not have had to ride there
very far to seek out combat,
16832 for every man with a mind to do that
had his hands full of it;
there was no question there of offering pledges,
for the sole price to pay would be their heads and their lives.
16836 The boasts made at night in the lodgings
were of no use here;
they had much else to do.
There were many feats of arms performed there
16840 by both sides, until
even the very strongest amongst them felt weary,
for there was no succour
to be expected:
16844 all they could expect was the giving and receiving of blows.
Some speak of great feats of arms
who, if they held a shield
by the straps at such a time,
16848 would certainly not know what to do with it.
And, if they were fully armed,
they would think they were bewitched,
to the point where they would be powerless to move,
16852 however much they needed to do so.
What is armed combat? Is it the same
as working with a sieve or winnow,
with an axe or mallet?
16856 Not at all, it is much nobler work,
for he who undertakes these tasks is able to take a rest
when he has worked for a while.
What, then, is chivalry?
16860 Such a difficult, tough,
and very costly thing to learn
that no coward ventures to take it on.
Is every knight really such?
16864 Not at all, for………….
there are many who do nothing with their arms,
but that does not prevent them from boasting.
Any man seeking to achieve high honour
16868 must first see to it
that he has been well schooled.
At the battle of Lincoln
were some who had learned sufficiently
16872 to have won high renown.
I can tell you that in that battle
prowess was not lacking,
for you would have seen knights
16876 armed and mounted on their chargers,
holding their shields by the straps.
Any man who rode a valuable horse
and had in his hand a sturdy lance,
16880 would not have traded that lance for all the gold in Blaye,
nor would he have lent it at that hour of need,
for, had he done so, he would have been hard put to it to get it back.
Had you been there, you would have seen great blows dealt,
16884 heard helmets clanging and resounding,
seen lances fly in splinters in the air,
saddles vacated by riders, knights taken prisoner.
You would have heard, from place to place,
16888 great blows delivered by swords and maces
on helmets and on arms,
[and seen] knives and daggers drawn
for the purpose of stabbing horses;
16892 their protective covering was not worth a fig.
You would have seen hands stretched out
on many a side to take horses by their bridles.
Some spurred forward to help
16896 and come to the rescue of companions
they saw suffering injury,
but there was no question of an actual rescue.
The noise there was so great
16900 that you would not have heard God thunder
for anything, had he chosen to do so,
and nobody would have been aware of it.
When the shout “The King’s men! The King’s men!” went up,
16904 you would have seen the traitors
so disturbed and careworn,
so bowed down and dumbfounded,
that they did not know what to do,
16908 nor was there any question of retreat.
The King’s men began to get the upper hand;
there was no question of putting up a defence there,
for they knew and could see only too well
16912 that they had completely lost.
William Bloet, who held the banner
of the young Marshal,
had no wish to be left behind;
16916 indeed, he spurred his horse so quickly
that he landed in the press,
which was very dense and violent,
so heavily and head on
16920 that he fell over the side of the bridge,
he and his horse with him;
a man who launches such an attack is no coward.
He had not come there to lie down, however;
16924 any man who had seen him leap to his feet,
would have born witness to his fleetness of foot,
his valour and prowess.
There the contest was fought,
16928 but hardly long
by the French side,
men who, beforehand, had made so many boasts
about driving from the land
16932 all the men of England.
In the battle was taken prisoner Saher de Quincy,
earl of Winchester, as was
Sir Robert fitz Walter.
16936 Without any delay my lord Robert de Quincy
was also taken,
as were many others too,
which was not a matter to my displeasure.
16940 The rest rode off in flight
down along the street
that leads straight to the Hospital;
the way seemed a very difficult one to them
16944 until they had reached the last gate.
But then there occured an incident
which caused them great harm and injury:
a cow went through the gate,
16948 the one with the port-cullis,
and as it did the gate came down to the ground,
with the result that no rider
could have passed through, try as he might.
16952 They now could not move either forward or backward,
and, anxious as they were
to get out, they killed the cow.
The danger was at its worst there,
16956 and many of their knights were taken prisoner,
as if they had been surrendered up.
Once the gate had been broken down,
immediately Sir Simon de Poissy
16960 fled through the gap
and after him went the castellan of Arras,
he who had come to chase away the rats
for the ladies who had come to London
16964 to surrender and who took their side.
All the others who made their escape
rested neither by night or day
in any house or any town,
16968 because they believed that the bushes
everywhere, on the hills and in the valleys,
were hiding any number of Marshals,
and they were much afraid at last by that thought.
16972 That was all too obvious at the Holland bridge,
which was broken and in a dangerous condition,
for they killed their horses
to make a bridge to cross over,
16976 such was their haste to do so.
This section offers the text in the original medieval French.
Ore oie qui oreiles a;
16132 De bien oïr s’entende ja!
Qu’en cez moz orreiz ja la somme
Com Dex conseilla le prodome
Qui devant toz ert esleüz
16136 E plus presiez e plus creüz.
“Oiez, frans chevaliers leials,”
Dist Willemes li Mareschals,
“E qui al rei estes en fei;
16140 Por Dieu, or entendez a mei,
Kar molt i fait bien a entendre.
Quant nos, por nostre pris defendre,
E por nos e por nos amanz
16144 E por femes e por enfanz,
E por defendre nostre tere
E por tresaute enor conquere,
E por la pais de sainte Glise
16148 Que cil ont enfrete e malmise,
E por aveir redemption
De toz noz pecchez e pardon,
Sostenons des armes le fes,
16152 Gardez n’i ait ui nul malveis!
Partie de nos enemis
Se sunt dedenz Nichole mis;
S’i sunt entré, jel sai de veir
16156 Por nostre chastel asseeir,
Mes n’i sunt mie tot ensemble.
Sire Loeïs, ce me semble,
Est en autre païs torné;
16160 Cil qui se sunt atorné
Se sunt enbatuz folement.
Trop nos deduirons molement
Se nos ne pernons or venjance
16164 De cels qui sunt venu de France
Por nostre gent deseriter,
Dont il se quident eriter.
Destruire nos vuelent de bot;
16168 Por Deu, metons tot a tot,
Kar, se nos avons la victorie,
Bien devons aveir en memorie
Qu’enor nos en sera creüe,
16172 E la franchise defendue
A nos e a nostre lignage
Que en volent par lor outrage
Tolir nos, mes bien la tendrons;
16176 Dex velt que nos nos defendons.
E quant lor ost est departie,
Nos veintruns mielz l’une partie
De lor genz que trestoz ensemble;
16180 C’est dreiz e reson, ce me semble,
Dex le velt e raison le prueve.
Dunt est dreiz que chascuns s’esmueve
Son son poër a cest afaire,
16184 Car autrement nel pouons fere.
N’i a nul sol de nos ne veie
Qu’il couvient delivrer la veie
Devant al fer e a l’acier;
16188 Or n’i a mot del manacier,
Mes isnelement lor corons sore.
Diex nos a doné tens e ore,
Soie merci, de nos vengier
16192 De cels que por nos ledengier
Sunt ci venu e por mal faire;
Nus ne s’en deit ariere traire:
Bien venge son mal e sa honte
16196 Cil qui sun enemi sormonte.”
A cez diz pristrent esperment
E cuer e force e ardement,
K’aler avant rien ne lor coste.
16200 Le mecresdi de Pentecoste
Dessi qu’a Newerc chevalchierent;
La nuit iloc se herbergerent.
Le juesdi aprés sejornerent;
16204 E li Normant qui en l’ost erent
Dusqu’al gienvle Mareschal vindrent,
A teil parole le tindrent
Comme vos m’orrez aprés dire:
16208 “En non Dieu,” font il, “beals dolz sire,
Vos fuistes neiz en Normendie;
Si est bien dreiz que l’en vos die
E qu’os sachiez que li Normant
16212 Deivent lé premiers cops avant
Aveir en checune bataille.
Gardez qu’endreit vos ne defaille.”
E quant li cuens de Cestre oï
16216 Ces moz, point ne s’en esjoï,
Ainz lor dit pleinnement sanz faille,
S’il n’a la premiere bataille,
Qu’il n’ireit ovec els en l’ost,
16220 Ne de lui n’avreient acost.
Li Mareschal e cil qu’i erent
La discorde point n’i amerent,
S’otreierent tuz ses talenz,
16224 Salve la dreiture as Normanz.
Quant agreanté fu l’affere,
Li legaz, qui bien le dut faire,
Les assolt en remission
16228 De lor pecchez e en pardon,
De trestoz icels que il firent
Puis icele ure qu’il nasquirent,
Si qu’il en fussent quitement
16232 Salvé al jor del jugement.
Puis escumenia les genz
De France qui erent dedenz;
Issi fu fet, bien le seit l’en.
16236 Li legaz vers Notingaham
Tint son dreit chemin e sa veie.
L’ost ves Torkesie s’aveie;
La nuit i jurent, tant vos di,
16240 E l’endemain al samedi
Aprés messe les armes pristrent
D’els acesmer mult s’entremistrent.
Quant bien e bel armé se furent,
16244 Lors atornerent comme il durent
Lor batailles e conreerent
E lor escheles ordinerent.
Li cuens de Cestre eissi avant,
16248 Proz chevaliers e bien savant,
E li cuens Mareschal aprés,
Il e si fiz tot pres a pres,
Qui molt erent en grant espeir
16252 D’avancier l’euvre a lor poeir.
Si firent il, bien i parut,
Car lor poer molt i valut;
E li boens cuens de Salesbere,
16256 Lequel Damlnedex e sa mere
Face compaignon de sa glorie,
S’en eissi en la tierce estorie.
Li buens evesque de Vincestre,
16260 Qui d’une part ert de l’ost mestre,
Si conduist la quarte bataille
Unques point n’en fu enconbrez.
16264 Quant tot li oz fu ennonbrez,
Ne furent il que quatre cent
E .v. chevalier solement,
Ne d’arbalestiers entreset
16268 Fors sol treis cenz e .xvii.;
Poi furent, mes bel se porterent,
Car buene gent e hardie erent.
E quant issi eissu s’en furent,
16272 Al reingnie, si comme il durent,
Lores parla molt hautement
Li Mareschal a cele gent,
Comme cil qui bien le sout feire,
16276 Car mielz en saveit a chief traire,
Si dist: “Ore escoutez, seignor!
Vez ici hautece e enor,
Vez ici, ce nos est a vis,
16280 La delmorance del païs;
Ci poez conquerre, c’est veirs.
Cil nos terres e nos avers
Sesissent e pernent a force;
16284 Honiz seit qui ci ne s’esforce
De metre i, ui cest jor, chalenge,
E Damlnedex conrei en prenge!
Vez les bel isi suz uim;
16288 Itant vos prenc je bien em main
Il sunt nostre, comment qu’il aut,
Se cuers e herdemenz n’i faut.
E se nos morons ………………………,
16292 Dex, qui ses buens veit e descuevre,
Nos met ui en son paradis;
De ce sui je certeins e fis;
E se nos lé vencons, sanz fable,
16296 Nos avrons enor pardurable
Conquise a trestoz nos eages,
A nos e a toz nos lignages.
Si vos dirrai un autre acontre
16300 Qui trop leidement les encontre,
Que il sunt escomenïé,
D’itant sunt il plus enlïé;
Si vos di que mal chief prendront,
16304 Que que en enfer descendrunt.
Vez ci cels qui gerre ont enprise
Contre Dieu e vers seinte Glise;
Itant vos prenc je bien en main,
16308 Dex lé nos a mis en la main.
Haston nos, si lor coron sore,
Car bien est e tens e ore!”
Quant parlé out li Mareschals
16312 Comme proz e comme leials
E come sages chevaliers,
Lors bailla les arbalestiers
Al buen evesque de Wincestre,
16316 Qui de bien mener ses fu mestre,
Pieres, qui molt sout de l’afere
E mult se pena de bien faire.
Aprés lui dist que demaneis
16320 Fust a la destre de Franceis;
E si lor dist que tant feïssent
Que estenduement s’entendissent,
Si que quant li Franceis venissent
16324 Que lor chevals lor occeïssent.
E li Mareschal demanda
Deus cenz serjanz e quemanda
Qu’en ocire meïssent peine
16328 Des couverez lor chevals demeine,
Si qu’en lieu de lices lor fussent
Al besoingn se mestier eüssent.
Tuit cil qui le conte escouterent
16332 Joiosement se demenerent,
E aussins envoisiement
Com se ço fust torneiement.
Laïnz furent Franceis par nombre,
16336 Qui li nonbre ne m’en encombre,
Sis cenz e unze chevaliers;
S’i furent bien mil peoniers,
Estre Engleis qui o els esteient,
16340 Qui encore a els se teneient.
De la vile eissirent eissi
Missires Simons de Peissi
E le conte del Perche o lui
16344 E cil de Vincestre autresi,
Que l’ost des reals sorveïssent
E verité lor en deïssent.
Cil alerent e tost revindrent;
16348 Lor sorveüe a itant tindrent
Que bele gent i ont esmee:
Unques nule mielz acesmee
Ne melz enpernante de guerre
16352 Ne vit mes uns en nule terre.
As noveles que cil lor distrent
Franceis dedenz lor murs se mistrent,
E si distrent que bien saveient
16356 Que li real poër n’aveient
Qu’en la vile les assaillissent,
Quel semblant que il en feïssent,
E distrent qu’il s’en partireient;
16360 Mes ja issi ne s’en ireient
Li real o correies ointes,
Qu’il n’eüssent autres acointes
Al departir, ce s’afichoent,
16364 E bien disoient e mostroent,
Ce lor ert vis, dreite acheison
Coument e pur quele raison
Il avreient del lor assez,
16368 Car lor chevals erent lassez
Des grant fes e des granz tornees,
De l’arester, des retornees,
Qu’il lor couveneit nuit e jor
16372 Que sor els fussent lor seignor.
Li Franceis d’itant veir se distrent,
Mes totes veies s’entremistrent
Li real d’aler bien e tost
16376 Vers la vile e tote lor ost
Herdïement, ne chaut quis veie.
E li Mareschal tote veie
Les amoneste e lor sermone
16380 E herdement e cuer lor done,
Si lor a dit: “Seignor ami,
Veiz ci cels qui sunt arrami
De venir vers vos a bataille
16384 Ont ja depeciee lor caille
E dedenz lor murs se sunt mis;
C’est ce que Dex nos a pramis.
Dex nos done grant glorie;
16388 C’est ci la premiere victorie
Que por nos se muchent Franceis,
Cil qui soleient estre anceis
Li premier al tornïement;
16392 Dex nos feit bel aveiement.
Mult nos haucent e mult s’abessent
Cill qui les chans defors nos lessent.
Nos seron entor la cité,
16396 Cest vos di je por verité;
Feson le bien, car Dex le volt.
Qui c’onques prodom estre seult
Si le soit ui en bone atente;
16400 Ja por un jor ne se repente.”
Seignor, ci me covient plus dire,
Car cil qui me donent matire
Ne s’acordent pas tot a un,
16404 Ne je ne puis pas a chascun
Obeïr, car je mefereie,
Sin perdreie ma dreite veie,
Si en fereie mains a creire,
16408 Car en estorie qui est veire
Ne doit nus par reison mentir,
Car ne fait pas a consentir
Mensonge en chose si seüe,
16412 Qui tant est oï e veüe;
Mes tant vos dirrei a un mot,
Quant li Mareschal vit e sout
Tote la chose e le portreit
16416 Que cil s’erent arriere treit,
Ainz que l’ost plus avant venist
A Johan li Mareschal dist,
Son nevo, qu’el chastel alast
16420 Si enqueïst e demandast
L’estre dedenz e la maniere,
Puis si s’en revenist arriere.
E missire Johans si fist
16424 Tost e bien, si commë il dist:
Tot dreit vers le chastel ala,
E issi conmë il vint la
A l’encontre li ert errant
16428 Missires Geffrei de Cerllant,
Qui d’une part en une estree
Li demostra tote l’entree
Par ou l’ost laïnz avendreit,
16432 Que ja nuls nel contretendreit.
Misssire Johans vit molt bien
Que cil ne li menteit de rien
Qui l’entree li enseignot;
16436 Retorna s’en a l’einz qu’il pout,
Car n’out talent de sejorner.
Si comme il s’en quida torner,
Li Franceis, qui en aguet furent,
16440 Erraument sore li corrurent.
Ne fist pas esbaïement,
Ainz encontra herdïement
Toz les primereins qui li vindrent,
16444 Si qu’onques vers lui ne se tindrent,
Par herdement e par proëce
E par bien faire e par vistesse;
Meis retorna si tost ariere ….
16448 Qu’onques nuls d’els n’i eüst.
Issi parti de cels de France
Sanz meschef e sanz mesestance
Johans li Mareschal por veir,
16452 E bien lor fist aperceveir
Qu’i esteit venuz por els querre
E por chalengier lor sa terre.
Quant il les out mis en la veie,
16456 Tot dreit vers son oncle s’aveie,
Si li conta tot son afaire;
Sachiez qu’a l’oncle pot molt plere
E de l’uevre e de l’assemblee
16460 E des noveles de l’entree.
Issi le fist a cele feiz
Sire Johans, mes n’est pas dreiz
Que redie par ci me taille;
16464 De ce qu’il fist en la bataille
Sera parlé quant lius en iert,
Si com l’estorie le requiert.
E li avesques de Wincestre,
16468 Qui molt volt saveir de lor estre,
Ala vers les murs volentiers
A grant plenté d’arbalestiers;
Puis lor dist qu’iloc l’atendissent,
16472 O un poi iloc se soufrissent,
Qu’il revendreit hastivement.
O un servant tant solement
Dedenz le chastel s’en entra,
16476 E en son entrer encontra
De Serlant monseignor Geiffrei,
Qui out esté en grant esfrei;
Les murs trebuchiez e quassez
16480 Virent, si les pleinstrent asez.
Li evesques vit les tormenz
Des murs, des meissons e des genz
Que les perrieres qui jetoent
16484 Trebuchoent e abateient.
Alcuns de cels qui laïnz erent
Le garnirent, si li roverent,
Por Dieu, qu’il se traïst arrieres
16488 Por mangonels e por perieres,
Qui pecieient tot entor,
Et il s’en entra en la tor.
Iloec trova la boene dame,
16492 Que Dex gard en cors e en ame,
Qui dame cel chastel esteit,
A son poeir le defendeit.
Bien s’en tint la dame avenue,
16496 Molt se heta de sa venue,
E il molt le conforta
Des noveles qu’il aporta.
Poi i demora, ge vos di;
16500 Par un postiz a pié eissi
En la vile, car il voleit
Veer coument ke seeit.
E comme il esgardout issi,
16504 Une vielle porte choisi,
Qui ert de grant antequité
E qui les murs de la cité
Joigneit ovec cels del chastel.
16508 Quant il la vit, molt li fu bel,
Mes el fu ancïenement
Close de pere e de ciment,
Si que nuls entrer n’i peüst
16512 Por nul bosoing qu’il en eüst.
Quant li evesques out veüe
Cele porte e aparceüe,
Por le chastel plus enforcier
16516 La fist abatre e trebuchier,
E que l’ost veïst e seüst
Que seüre entree i eüst,
Mes Deu tot avant en preia,
16520 E Damlnedex li otreia.
Li avesques a l’ost revint,
Qui a joie encontre lui vint,
E chantout chascuns en s’estorie
16524 Cum il eüsent ja victorie.
Li evesques joiosement
Lor dist par giu buenement
Por ço qu’il out fait cele tresque,
16528 Qu’il eüst la meisun l’evesque
A lui gesir quant la vendreit,
Qu’il la deveit aveir par dreit.
“Por ço me deit estre livree
16532 Que l’entree i ai aparaillé
Par ou noz genz seürement
I enterront proosement.”
E quant les genz Fauques oïrent
16536 Itels moz, molt s’en esjoïrent;
Tot avant dedenz entrerent,
Mes leidement les reüserent
Cil dedenz, qu’il n’i firent gueres,
16540 Tost lor changierent lor afeires.
Li avesque al Mareschal
Dist: “Par mon chef, cist ont fait mal,
Car c’est la verité provee
16544 Qu’il n’ont pas unquore trovee
La dreite entree ou mis cuers pense,
Car ja n’i troveront defense;
Car sachiez que nuls ne la garde
16548 Ne nuls de nos n’i avra garde.
E sachiez bien, tot a seür,
C’une partie de lur mur
I est a nostre ues aoverte
16552 E a cels de laïnz coverte;
Je vos i merrai; venez i!”
E li Mareschal respondi,
Li boens cuens qui ot non Willelme:
16556 “Por la glavie Dieu! cha mon helme!”
Li evesques respondi: “Sire,
Oiez un poi que vuil dire:
L’en ne deit mie en tel sorsalt
16560 Ci endreit faire teil assalt;
Mes souffrez que entor la tor
Augent dui home tot entor
De chascune de noz batailles,
16564 Qui enquerront les repostailles
E, selon ce que il veront,
Selonc ce nos conseilleront.
Li Mareschal bien li otreie.
16568 Lors se mist avant a la veie,
E li evesque de Wincestre
De chascune eschiele en prist deus,
16572 Dessi qu’al liu vint ovec els.
E quant les servanz encontrerent,
Qui leidement parti s’en erent,
Molt les ledirent cil qui vindrent
16576 Quant dedenz la presse les tindrent.
Lors dist li Mareschal: “Errez!”
A toz les suens, “car les verrez,
Qu’il seront vencu en poi d’ore.
16580 Honiz seit qui plus demore!”
Li evesques li dist: “Bel sire,
Oiez un poi que jo vueil dire.
Atendez leiens vostre gent;
16584 Si sera plus bel e plus gent
E greingnor seürté, ce semble,
Que nos augons trestuit ensemble,
Que s’apartient, ce m’est a vis,
16588 Si nos creindront nos enemis
Plus, quant ensemble nos veront;
Nostre venue comperont.”
D’icez paroles, c’est la veire,
16592 Nel volt pas li Mareschal creire,
Mes plus tost c’uns emerillons
Feri cheval des esperonz,
Si que tot cil qui o lui erent
16596 S’enhardirent quant l’esgarderent.
Un vallez li comence a dire:
“Por Deu, atendez nos, beal sire;
Vos n’avez pas vostre healme.”
16600 Lors s’aparchust li cuens Willealme;
Lors dist al giemble Mareschal:
“Atendez moi a cest ostal
Tant que j’aie mon helme pris,
16604 Mes d’itant dui aveir mespris.”
Ne fist mie grant demoree;
E quant il ot sa teste armee
Sor trestoz les autres fu bels;
16608 Si treslegiers come uns oisels,
Esperviers ne alerions,
Feri le cheval des esperons.
Des uimés velt que l’en le veie;
16612 Lions famillos sor sa preie,
Quant soz sei la trueve a bandon,
Ne vient unques de cel randon
Cum li Mareschal, ce m’est vis
16616 Corut sore a ses enemis.
Cil qui des proëces fist tantes
Plus que la longor de treis hantes
S’enbati en lor grant espeisse,
16620 Si qu’a force les deespeisse
E derront avant sei la presse,
Qui molt ert espresse e empresse;
Bien sout fere avant lui la veie,
16624 Que toz les desrote e deveie.
Li evesques aprés ala,
Qui a haute voiz s’escria:
Plusors feiz amont e aval:
16628 “Ça! Dex aïe al Mareschal!”
Mes d’itant dui aveir mespris
Qu’el venir des noz fu ocis
Lor plus mestre perreior,
16632 Cil qui perreiot a la tor;
Cil, quant il vit noz chevaliers,
Si em fu plus bauz e plus fiers,
Qu’il quida ce fuissent des suens,
16636 Si li sembla li gius plus buens.
Lors mist la pierre en la perriere,
E cil qui li erent derriere,
Si comme il out dit deus feiz: “é!”
16640 Le firent faillir a l’autre “é”,
Car il li couperent la teste,
N’unques n’en firent autre feste.
Li genvles Mareschal por veir
16644 Fist bien a toz aparceveir
Qu’il ne voleit pas estre ariere,
Car toz dis esteit sa baniere
El premier front devant veüe;
16648 Bien i fu le jor coneüe.
Nos genz vindrent molt durement,
E cil molt angosusement
Se coumencierent a defendre,
16652 Mes n’i voldrent pas trop atendre;
N’i aveit mot del manescier.
Quant son healme fist lacier
Li Mareschal, por verité,
16656 Entra sis filz en la cité
Par la breque o plenté des suens,
Dont il i ot asez de buens,
E molt entor lui seu
16660 La gent trova de la,
Qui plus esteient bels d’asez
Car trop en i ot amassez
De cels qui en la cité erent
16664 Plus que de cels qui i entrerent,
Mes il lor corust tantost sore.
Si vos di en molt poi d’ore
Orent cels dedenz molt quassez,
16668 Mes fait i out d’armes asés
Entre tant d’ambedeus parties.
Ainz qu’il venist as departies
En orent cil de la cité
16672 Le pis parti, c’est verité,
Car je vos di que tote veie
Les mist cil par force a la veie
Qui esteit gienvles Mareschals;
16676 E li peres, qui vit grant dals,
E li buens cuens de Salesbere,
A cui Damlnedex e sa mere
Otreit issi buen gueredon
16680 Qu’il ait de ses pecchez pardon,
Icist dui tornerent a destre
E si lasserent a senestre
Un mostier e lor gent troverent,
16684 Dunt grant partie ileques erent
En grant peor e en esmai,
Si que Robert de Ropelai
Prist une lance por joster;
16688 Que que il li deüst coster,
Si durement feri le conte
De Salesbire, c’est al conte,
Que sa lance en pieces bruissa;
16692 A itant utre s’en passa.
Al retor, en son revenir,
Li Mareschal de teil aïr
Entrë espalles le feri
16696 Si que par poi ne l’abati.
E il, qui tot a le mescheeir,
Se lassa a terre chaeir;
Por la poor s’ala muchier,
16700 A l’einz qu’il pout, en un solier,
Car il n’osa remeindre a terre.
Ne voldrent atendre a lui guere,
Mes por teser avant passerent.
16704 Le conte de Perche troverent
Aseiz pres devant le mostier
Molt orguillos e molt tresfier.
Molt esteit bels e granz e genz
16708 E molt out grant plenté de genz;
Molt durement se defendirent,
Et li nostre molt entendirent
A els grever de grant puissance,
16712 Car molt haeient cels de France.
Ilec ot fet d’armes assez,
Car de bleciez e de quassez
E de folez e de batuz
16716 E de pris e de retenuz
I ot molt, c’est la verité,
Des trovez dedenz la cité,
E des nos genz lediz sovent,
16720 Car nuls n’i quereit tensement
N’amercïer ne metre en taille;
Tuit tendeient a la bataille.
Grant fu la mellee e l’estor,
16724 E molt i fist d’armes le jor
Li quens del Perche durement,
Mes n’i dura pas longement,
E molt commença fierement
16728 A grever tote nostre gent.
Li Mareschal vit que sa gent
Remuoent molt durement
Les Franceis del mont vers le val
16732 E les reüsoent aval.
En es le pas tendi la main
E prist le conte par le frein,
Del Perche, e si sembla raison,
16736 Por ço qu’il ert le plus hauz hom
Qui i fust devers les Franceis,
Mais il esteit navrez anceis
Parmi l’oilliere mortelment
16740 D’un espee estreit leidement,
Del quel misire Reinal Croc
L’aveit feru tot a estoc.
Quant li cuens del Perche a noz genz
16744 Vit si reüser cels dedenz,
Par lui fu tost laschiez sis freins
E a pris l’espee de deus mains
E fiert li Mareschal Willielme
16748 Treis cops pres a pres sor le helme;
Si tresgranz e si estult furent
Que sor le healme bien parurent;
Tantost si branla contreval
16752 E trebucha de son cheval.
Quant li cuens Mareschal por veir
Vit issi le conte chaeir,
Si cuida qu’il se fust pasmez
16756 E dota qu’il n’en fust blasmez.
A Willeme de Montigni
Dist: “Decendez e ostez lui
Son helme qui forment le grieve;
16760 De li dot qu’il ne se relieve.”
Quant li helmes lui fu ostez,
E cil fu de lui el costez,
E vit qu’il esteit toz freiz morz,
16764 La fu grant li desconforz.
De la plaie qui lui fu fete
Par l’oiliere, quant en fu trete
L’alemele, morir l’estut;
16768 Ce fu grant dous qu’issi morut.
E quant Franceis, qui grant gent erent,
Virent que nos genz se meslerent
A els si vigorosement
16772 Si s’esmaierent durement
E qu’il n’i poeient plus estre;
Aval une rue a senestre
S’en tornerent ver Wikefort,
16776 Car l’atendre lor ert fort.
Bel lor fu, car troverent
De lor genz qui encore i erent;
Molt lor en fu bel, ce me semble.
16780 Lors se ralïerent ensemble
Por venir encore assembler,
Mes melz les en venist embler,
Come tels i ot firent puis,
16784 Si comme en l’estorie le truis;
Car il regarderent sor destre
Si virent le conte de Cestre
E sa bone gent ovec lui;
16788 Molt lor torna en grant ennui.
Li gienbles Mareschal al pere
Vint, qui molt li fist bele here
E molt durement s’esjoï
16792 De ce que il vit e oï
Que si durement le feseit
En l’estor qui molt li pleseit.
Li pere dist: “Avés nul mal?”
16796 Il respondi: “Sire, nenal.”
E li prodom respondi: “Certes,
Si Dieu pleist, nos avrons nos pertes
Alques restorees encui.
16800 Si comme g’entent e je cui,
Nos lé veintromes ui cest jor
Ou il nos guerperont l’estor.
Si ert veü apertement
16804 Qu’il uevrent li Franceis.
Ore penst chascuns de bien faire,
Car nos nes volons mie atrere.”
A itant vindrent li Franceis
16808 E ensemble o els li Engleis,
Icil qui o els se teneient;
Serré e bataillié esteient
E veneient encontremont,
16812 Mes anceis qu’il fussent amont
Encontrerent il nostre gent.
Ne lor sembla pas bel ne gent,
Qu’il vindrent sagement e bel
16816 Entre l’eglise e le chastel.
Nostre gent a els assemblerent
Si durement qu’il les menerent
Par force contreval arriere,
16820 Sanz quere chemin ne chariere.
Sire Aleins Basset e sis freres
Sire Thomas, o lor vois cleres,
Les escrierent par deriere
16824 A toz lor genz herdie e fere.
Quant enclos se virent issi,
Lors furent alques esbahi,
Qu’il n’orent arrest ne confort
16828 Dessi qu’al pont de Wikefort;
Lors furent en la mole terre.
La ne covint pas aler quere
Chevalerie gueres loingnz,
16832 Car chascuns en out pleins les poins
Qui d’armes se volt entremetre;
Qu’il n’i aveient gaige a metre
Ne mes les testes e les vies.
16836 La n’erent proz les aaties
Que l’en feit al seir a l’osteil;
Asez aveient a feire eil.
Ilec ot fet d’armes assez
16840 D’amedeus pars, tant que lassez
S’en sentirent tot li plus fort,
Car ilec n’aveit nul confort
Ou il se peüssent atendre
16844 Fors de cops doner e de prendre.
Tel parole de bien fait d’armes
Que, s’il teneit par les enarmes
Un escu en itel afaire,
16848 Certes, qu’il n’en savreit que faire;
E s’il esteit de tot armez,
Il quidereit estre charmez,
Si que ja mes ne se meüst
16852 Por nul besoing qu’il en eüst.
Qu’est fere d’armes? fet en l’an
Si comme d’un crible ou d’un van
Ou d’une coingnie ou d’un mail?
16856 Nenil, c’est trop greignor travail,
Car cil quin uevre se repose
Quant il a ovré une pose.
Que est donques chevalerie?
16860 Si forte chose e si herdie
E si trescostos a aprendre
Que nuls malveis ne l’ose enprendre.
Est chascuns chevaliers un tels?
16864 Nenil, nen a astels
Assez qui d’armes n’en font rien
E sin richeient il molt bien.
Qui en haute enor se velt metre
16868 Primes li covient entremetre
Qu’il en ait esté a escole.
En la bataille de Nichole
Ot de tels quin orent apris
16872 Tant qu’il esteient de haut pris.
Bien sachiez qu’en cele assemblee
Ne fu mie proësse emblee,
Car la veïst l’en chevaliers
16876 Armez seeir sor les destriers,
Les escuz as enarmes pris.
Qui aveit buen cheval de pris
E teneit en sa main boen glavie
16880 Nel chanjast por tot l’or de Blaive,
Ne nel prestast a cel bosoingn:
Trop li fust li recovrers loing.
La veïst l’en grant coups ferir,
16884 Haumes soner e retentir
E gleives voler en esteles,
Chevaliers prendre e vuidier seles.
La oïst l’en parmi les places
16888 Grant cops d’espees e de maches
Sor les helmes e sor les braz
E coutels treire e alesnaz
Por chevals ocire a estoc;
16892 N’i valeit coverture un froc.
La veïst l’en tendre les mains
De plusors parz por prendre as freinz;
Li un poigneient por secore
16896 Lor compaignons e por recore
Qu’il veeient venir a honte,
Mes del rescorre n’eirt nul conte.
La esteit la noise si grant
16900 Que l’en n’i oïst Deu tonant,
Por nule rien, se il tonast,
Ne nuls garde ne s’en donast.
Quant l’en criout: “Reials! Reials!”
16094 Lors veïst l’en les desleals
Si trespensez e alordiz
E enbronchiez e estordiz
Que il ne saveient que feire,
16908 N’il n’i aveit mot del retreire.
Li Real se pristrent a prendre;
Ça n’i aveit mot de defendre,
Car bien virent e bien saveient
16912 Que tot a tot perdu aveient.
Ne voleit pas estre deriere
Willeme, qui tint la baniere,
Bloët, al gienvle Mareschal,
16916 Ainz hurta si tost le cheval
Que il s’enbati en la presse,
Qui molt ert espresse e engresse,
Si angoisseement de front
16920 Que il chaï outre le pont,
Il e son cheval tot ensemble;
N’est pas mauveis qui si asemble.
Il n’i vint pas por sei gesir;
16924 Qui lors le veïst sus saillir
Torner le deüst a vistesce
E a valor e a proësce.
Iloc fu li chaples tenuz
16928 Mes ne fu gueres meintenuz
Devers la partie as Franceis,
Qui tant se vantoent anceis
Qu’il chacereient de la terre
16932 Trestoz les Engleis d’Engleterre.
La fu pris Sechiers de Quenci,
Cuens de Wincestre, e autresi
Sire Robert le filz Gauter;
16936 Si fu pris sanz nul demorier
Missire Robert de Quenci,
E plosors autres autresi
Furent pris, dont point ne m’ennuie,
16940 E li sorplus torna en fuie
Tote la rue contreval
Qui s’en veit dreit a l’Hospital;
Molt lor sembla la veie forte
16944 Dusqu’a la dererene porte.
La lor avint une aventure,
Qui mult lor fu pesante e dure,
C’une vache entra en la porte,
16948 En cele qui le fleel porte,
E la porte se clost aval
Issi que nuls homme a cheval
N’i passast en nule maniere.
16952 Lors ne porent avant n’arriere;
Mes cil, qui angoissos en erent
De issir s’en, la vache acorerent.
La fu plus fors li enconbrers,
16956 La out molt pris de chevaliers
Des lor, cum se ce fust livree.
Quant la porte fu debrusee,
Tant tost fuant s’en issi
16960 Missires Simons de Peissi,
E puis li chasteleins de Arraz,
Cil qui vint por chacier les raz
As dames qui a Londres vindrent
This text was translated by Stewart Gregory, with the assistance of David Crouch. The full text and translation of this work will be published soon by the Anglo-Norman Text Society in a three volume set. We thank Ian Short of the Anglo-Norman Text Society and David Crouch for their permission and assistance in republishing these section.