History of William the Marshal: The Battle of Lincoln, 1217

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,

shouting loudly

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 Godour 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

Dis …………………………………….;

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.

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