The following section details the French capture of Le Mans in 1189. War had broken out between Henry II against his son Richard and Philip Augustus, King of France. Henry had gathered his forces, including William, at Le Mans, while Richard and Philip were capturing castles in the area. They decided to make a secret march against Le Mans, in hopes of catching the English King unprepared. This engagement would be the last for Henry II, as after his flight from the city he died, leaving the crown to Richard.
Lines 8381 to 8864
The King of England, there in Le Mans,
was furious to be losing his lands.
He called for William Marshal,
8384 who was very much pained
to see the King’s anger and fury,
and Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
and his brother with him,
8388 and Sir Peter fitz Guy,
and Sir Robert de Souville,
who preferred town business
to fighting business, that is all I can say,
8392 and he was marshal of the King’s household.
The King told them to rise in the morning
and go to inspect the French army
and see in what direction it would march.
8396 And they, fully prepared to do
as he wished, rose early.
They donned their light armour,
so that they could travel more easily,
8400 whether to chase the opposition or rescue their own men.
They all armed themselves in the early morning.
Full of merriment and gladness,
they crossed the river Huisne.
8404 There was a very dense fog
in the morning, which interfered
with the business they had in hand.
They rode on until they came upon
8408 their scouts and saw them;
this situation was not in their favour.
They then mounted their horses,
took up their shields and lances,
8412 and set off slowly on their way.
Robert de Souville said
to the Marshal: “In Christ’s name,
my lord, if my advice were to be believed,
8416 I would advise you in good faith
that I should go to the King
and tell him at what great speed
the King of France is riding to attack him.”
8420 “My lord, I will not allow you to go this day,”
said the Marshal, “to inform him of that,
since it could not achieve anything worthwhile.
Instead, my advice is that I go
8424 with Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
to see what manner of men those riders are
and how they are conducting themselves.”
They climbed up a little mound,
8428 and saw from where they were
the whole army of the King of France,
which was riding in vast numbers
so close to them that, if a man had got one handy,
8432 he could have hit them with a cross-bow bolt.
“Geoffrey,” said the Marshal,
“let’s go, for it would do us harm
to stay a moment longer.”
8436 Then they returned to their men
and told their companions
the news as it was.
Once more, Robert de Souville
8440 said: “Marshal, it would be right for me
to go and tell this to the King.”
“My dear lord, I shall not let you go,
as I’ve told you already, by God’s lance.”
8444 Then Geoffrey said: “Alas! Alas!
How sad and what a great pity
that Eumenidus didn’t have such a messenger
as you in his hour of need!
8448 It was a bad thing for him that you were so far away;
he could really have used you.”
The knights laughed at this.
Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
8452 said to the Marshal: “I advise you that,
since these scouts are coming so close
and are not paying heed to anyone,
we ride to attack them.
8456 Before anyone could come to their aid,
there would be saddle-cloths slipping off,
and we would have reduced them to such a situation that,
if only they could be caught by their bridles,
8460 they would lose their hacks.”
The Marshal replied:
“We could have gained at the most,
perhaps, twenty or thirty hacks.
8464 However, we can have no expectation of anything worth while,
since we’ve hardly any horses,
and, so God save me, I think
that we never had such a need of horses,
8468 in whatever land we found ourselves,
as we shall this day.
The King of France, without pausing for rest,
is riding straight for Le Mans,
8472 and the flanks of our horses
would surely be heaving, if we did as you suggest,
before we got to safety.”
So, with that, they returned,
8476 arrived in Le Mans, and told
the King what they had seen
and therefore knew for a fact.
When the good King of England saw
8480 that the King of France, through his trickery,
was pillaging his land in this manner,
he left the town in the company
of his barons; with the impending crisis in mind,
8484 he had the bridge over the Huisne cut down
and the fords thoroughly staked,
so that no man could cross there,
be it on foot or horseback, without doing himself a mischief.
8488 Furthermore, he had ditches dug
so that they would be unable to pass,
whatever clever scheme they might have in mind,
for he thought it was a fact
8492 that there was no other ford.
As they were speaking about these matters,
they looked at the other side and saw,
beyond the river, the King of France
8496 riding with the whole might of his army.
His intention was to wait and stay the night there,
so he had his tents pitched
at the edge of a wood called Le Parc,
8500 at an arrow’s distance that side of the river.
And the Marshal said to the King:
“Sire, now listen to me.
Their side have made camp,
8504 so my advice, in faith,
is that we go and rest our horses.
In that way we shall be closer to them tomorrow,
we shall be able to see what they intend to do
8508 and shall gain knowledge of their situation.”
“By God! Marshal,” said the King,
you speak well and like a courtly man.”
After this exchange of words, they went
8512 into the town, and decided that,
if the King of France moved
towards the town, they would
burn everything outside the walls,
8516 and that was what happened in truth.
The next day, without delay,
they had mass celebrated very early,
because they were in great fear of that vast army.
8520 The Marshal lost no time in arming himself.
The King, quite unarmed and on horseback,
left the town by a gate at the bottom
and headed for the Maison Dieu,
8524 but the Marshal behaved sensibly
and would not do the same,
for great injury could have befallen him as a result.
The King said: “Go on, take that armour off,
8528 Marshal. Why are you armed?”
The Marshal replied:
“If it please you, Sire, so much will I say,
that I am very happy to be armed
8532 and my arms don’t cramp my style in the slightest.
I shall not remove my armour for the rest of this day
until I have discovered what burden
we shall have to shoulder.
8536 An unarmed man cannot last out
in a crisis or a grave situation,
and we don’t know what their intention will be.”
The King replied: “Upon my faith!
8540 You won’t be coming with me then.”
After this exchange of words and views,
the King made his son count John,
a son he loved and greatly trusted,
8544 disarm himself,
as he did lord Gerard Talbot,
Sir Robert de Tresgoz,
and Geoffrey de Brûlon.
8548 Indeed, all those who left the town
with him, disarmed themselves first,
and with him they rode beyond the Maison Dieu.
There, all those who were his trusted men
8552 stopped to deliberate,
and it was not long before they caught sight
of the King of France’s vanguard.
They saw them riding over there many men abreast
8556 and reaching the bridge,
which had been deliberately broken to pieces.
Nobody imagined there was a ford there,
but they tested the water with their lances
8560 and discovered the best ford in the world.
Ten knights rode forward until
they had launched themselves across the ford.
Our side had been deceived in this matter.
8564 Robert de Tresgoz saw them
and said to the King: “My dear lord,
look, their knights are coming.”
Gerard Talbot, being a wise man,
8568 took up his shield and a lance,
as one of their knights had come galloping forward
well in front of the others.
Sir Gerard met him and,
8572 as he did, he struck him such a blow
on his shield that his lance was shattered
and flew into many bits.
Sir Richard fitz Herbert
8576 saw the blow well delivered, in sight of all,
by sir Gerard,
so he took up his shield, rode forward
to take a lance in his hand,
8580 and galloped at full tilt
towards another knight he saw coming.
He dealt him such a savage blow
on his shield that his lance splintered
8584 and shattered right up to the fists he held it with.
And the worthy Marshal, I believe,
as he stood there in front of the gate,
asked John of Earley
8588 for his helmet, told him to lace it up,
and said that those who had but lately
taken off their armour were rightly sorry,
and that now those who were unarmed
8592 would be wishing they had their armour on.
John of Earley handed him
the helmet and very quickly laced it up.
The Marshal was all alone in front of the gate,
8596 and nobody was there to give him
advice, help or assistance,
but he defended himself and performed
as a good knight should
8600 when he is in such a situation.
The French rode up to him
to launch a fierce attack,
but he defended so well
8604 that they made no gains from him.
And those standing on the wall above the gate
and on the parapet, shouted
in a loud voice, in all directions:
8608 “Over here, God is with the Marshal!”
Baldwin de Béthune heard the words
and there was no misunderstanding on his part:
it was an established fact
8612 that he belonged to the Marshal’s company,
that he loved him beyond all others
as he had proved many times before.
Sir Hugh de Malannoy
8616 came to his side, as I’ve been led to understand;
Sir Reginald de Dammartin,
who had no better acquaintance than the Marshal,
and who was later count of Boulogne,
8620 spurred to his side without delay;
and Hugh de Hamelincourt
did not come, he ran;
Sir Eustace de Neuville
8624 came galloping down through the town;
Eustace de Canteleux for his part
made no small speed;
and, finally, Ralph Plomquet
8628 and Sir Peter Mauvoisin
came out of the gate.
The result was a good and fierce encounter,
not embarked on in a spirit of jest.
8632 And all of a sudden there was Sir Andrew
de Chauvigny, a knight
from the company of the count of Poitiers
and renowned for his deeds of great valour,
8636 riding in the direction of our knights.
If you had been there, you would have seen lances
shattering on a great scale, and much clashing
of steel swords on helmets.
8640 There was no word spoken there by way of threat,
there were none of the usual gibes,
for there was much else to occupy them.
As a result of a fierce and hard-fought onslaught,
8644 they drove our men back,
for they came on very fiercely.
Sir Hugh de Malannoy,
who had distinguished himself in the combat,
8648 was knocked into the moat
surrounding the town, I believe,
both he and his horse together.
The Marshal, in the company of Baldwin
8652 and Reginald de Dammartin,
launched a vigorous attack on them,
driving them back in no time,
so that our side recovered some of the ground lost
8656 and forced them back
down the street,
almost as far as an arrow travels.
And I can tell you that, during the course of that retreat,
8660 there were combats and fights on a great scale.
The Marshal stretched out his hand,
took Sir Andrew de Chauvigny by the bridle,
and led him away.
8664 He took him as far as the gate,
and the horse, which was moving fast,
already had its head inside the gate
when someone on the parapet above
8668 threw down a huge stone
which struck Sir Andrew
on the arm. It was a very cruel blow to him,
because his arm was broken in two.
8672 Someone else threw down
a big stone, one of sizeable proportion,
which hit his horse’s head.
The horse reared up, and the Marshal was left
8676 with the bridle in his hands.
The horse turned back,
and Sir Andrew left scot-free,
although he had received a
8680 very bad wound.
The Marshal threw the bridle through the gate
and a groom took it away.
He returned to the fray,
8684 which was still not at an end,
for nobody wanted to withdraw from it,
so much was each man keen to perform well.
During the fight the Marshal took
8688 two others by the bridle, joining these
close together. However, they played it so well
that they cut free of their bridles and escaped,
and so left the combat.
8692 My witness to this is John of Earley,
to whom, I understand, the bridles were handed over.
Since those receiving the bridles tell the story,
it must be believed and treated
8696 as heard and seen.
The damage was on such a huge scale
that broken lances with their heads
lay everywhere around,
8700 and one struck the Marshal’s horse,
with the result
that it was wounded in one of its hind feet.
The Marshal stretched out his hand
8704 and straightway took by the bridle
a man who was a very fine knight
from the company of the count of Poitiers,
one Aimery Odart.
8708 And he took him to some effect;
he led him away against his will,
that man who was born in the area of Loudun;
he held him firm and led him away
8712 as far as the gate.
At that point the King, completely unarmed,
rode up to meet him, and when he arrived,
he said: “Marshal, be in no doubt about it,
8716 your splendid feat of chivalry
could yet turn out to work badly for us before this day is out. This much have I noticed,
that none of our other gates
8720 is as sound or as strong as that one,
and you can rest assured
that we might well lose.”
“Sire,” said the Marshal,
8724 “if they came inside, it would be bad for us,
that should not be glossed over,
but proceed as is your wish.
However, I would like to ask you
8728 to take charge of the knight
I have captured and take him away with you.”
“You yourself see to it
that he is well guarded,” said the King,
8732 “and have him disarmed.”
At that the Marshal dismounted,
since his horse was maimed,
and he mounted the horse
8736 he had taken along with its rider,
the latter being sent, without further ado,
to the Marshal’s lodgings.
He then rode forward with the King,
8740 who, to tell you the truth, in a violent
and excessive manner, had the town outside
the walls set fire to.
When the King of France,
8744 who had no desire to ride into the town yet,
saw this, without further delay
he had his tents pitched
beyond the river, on the other side.
8748 He was pleased to see the town in flames.
With a sorely troubled heart, the King rode
in the Marshal’s company
up and down the streets of the town
8752 which that day he lost from his patrimony.
They saw a woman wailing
and weeping bitter tears,
as she took her possessions out of her house,
8756 which was in flames.
The Marshal, a tender-hearted man,
was saddened and troubled by the sight,
and told his squires to dismount
8760 and help her, without delay.
He himself dismounted
and most gladly set about
giving her help and assistance.
8764 He was most willing to repair
the harm done, as was his wont.
He picked up a feather quilt,
which was alight underneath,
8768 and the acrid fumes coming from it
caused him so much distress
that he had to remove his helmet
from his head, since the smoke trapped within
8772 was doing him harm.
When the King rode into the town,
it so happened
that he brought the fire with him,
8776 and the town caught fire
in three or four places.
All those who were with him
were completely unable to douse the flames,
8780 so they left things as they were and departed.
The King sent men into the town
to summon the count of Mandeville,
and the Marshal who was with him,
8784 a man ever true and loyal,
and many of the other barons
assembled there with him.
I believe that they made a rapid decision
8788 to leave as one body;
with their equipment, they set off with the King
As they issued forth from the town,
8792 the Marshal rode out
he was armed with nothing else
save his doublet.
8796 Armed solely with this, he left the town.
And when those in the King of France’s army saw
that Henry’s men were departing
and abandoning the town,
8800 they were pleased by the sight
and followed them in hot pursuit:
for when people run away, there are always plenty to give chase.
The count of Poitiers mounted
8804 his horse, but armed himself with nothing
by way of accoutrements save a doublet
and an iron cap on his head,
and he gave rapid chase.
He caught them up, but
others had done so ahead of him,
for Philip de Colombiers
8812 was the very first to ride forward to attack.
He was in the count’s household
and enjoyed a high reputation for feats of arms.
Forward he rode and struck a knight
8816 a very fierce blow on his shield.
When William des Roches, riding in the King’s company,
saw the havoc,
he turned back,
8820 and, with his sturdy lance still intact,
he struck Philip such a blow
that the lance splintered and shattered up to his hand.
Seeing this, the count of Poitiers spurred forward
8824 with great ferocity,
and he shouted to des Roches:
“William, it seems to me an act of folly
for you to remain here and make your stand.
8828 It can only do you harm to take up your position here;
you waste your time on vain illusions,
and you would be better advised putting on a bit of speed.”
The Marshal was not pleased
8832 when he saw their men riding forward in this manner.
Like the prudent and wise man he was,
he took up his shield and his lance,
and spurred straight on to meet
8836 the advancing count Richard.
When the count saw him coming,
he shouted out at the top of his voice:
“God’s legs, Marshal!
8840 Do not kill me, that would be a wicked thing to do,
since you find me here completely unarmed.”
The Marshal replied:
“Indeed I won’t, let the Devil kill you!
8844 I shall not be the one to do it.”
This said, he struck the count’s horse a blow
with his lance,
and the horse died instantly;
8848 it never took another step forward.
It died, and the count fell to the ground.
It was a fine blow, which came at an opportune moment
for those riding ahead,
8852 since they had no other protection
against death or capture,
these being the objectives
of those who could well have achieved such aims,
8856 had it not been for this incident.
The knights and soldiers vied with one another
in their surge forward,
but count Richard jumped up from the ground
8860 and said to them: “Cease this pursuit,
for, if you continue, you will have lost all;
you are all behaving in a foolish and reckless fashion.”
Once he had spoken these words,
8864 not one of them moved a step forward.
This section offers the text in the original medieval French.
Al Mans fu li reis d’Engletere
Molt iriez, qu’il perdeit sa terre;
Si apela le Mareschal
8384 Willeaume, qi molt esteit mal
De l’ire a del corruz li rei,
E de Bruillon seignor Guifrei
E son frere ensemblë o lui,
8388 E seignor Peron le filz Gui,
E seignor Robert de Sovile,
Qui meilz se baratout en vile
Qu’as chans, ge ne sai qu’en die el,
8392 S’ert il mareschals de l’ostel.
Si lor dist qu’al matin levassent
E que l’ost sorveeir alassent
E quel part il se voldrent traire.
8396 E cil, qui bien le voldrent faire
A son talent, matin leverent;
De lor armeüres s’armerent
Linges, por legierement corre
8400 Ou por chacier o por rescorre;
Par matinet s’armerent tuit.
A enveiseüre, a deduit
Passerent outre la rivere
8404 De Wilengne; une nieule trop fiere
Fist al matin, qui fu contraire
A cel qu’il aveient a faire.
Tant esrerent qu’il s’enbatirent
8408 Sor lor coreors e les virent;
Cil gieus ne lor fu pas egals.
Lors monterent en lor chevals,
Lor escuz e lor lances pristrent,
8412 Le pas a la voie se mistrent.
E Robert de Souvile dist
Al Mareschal: “Par Jhesu Crist,
Sire, se creüz en esteie,
8416 En bone fei vos loereie
Que j’alasse de si qu’al rei
E li deïsse a qel desrei
Vent li rei de France sor lui.”
8420 “Sire, par mei n’irez vos hui,”
Fait li Mareschal, “ce conter,
Ne porreit a nul bien munter;
Einz irai, si com gel lou,
8424 E sire Guifrei de Brislou
Veeir quel gent ce sunt qui vienent,
Si vesrom com il se contienent.”
Un molt petit tertre monterent,
8428 Si virent de la ou il erent
Trestote l’ost li rei de France,
Qui chivalchot a grant pussance
Si pres d’els que d’une arbaleste
8432 I traïst l’om, qui l’eüst preste.
“Guifrei,” fait sei li Mareschals,
“Alom nos en, qu’il sereit mals
D’arester en nule maniere.”
8436 Lors vindrent a lor gent ariere,
A lor compaingnons reconterent
Les noveles si com els erent.
Robert de Souvile autre feiz
8440 Dist: “Mareschal, il serreit dreiz
Que j’alasse ce al rei dire.”
“Ja par mei n’i irez, beal sire,
Par le gleive Dieu, gel vos di.”
8444 Lors dist Guifreis: “Ahi! ahi!
Com fu grant dels e grant damage
Qu’Eumenidus n’out tel message
Com vos estes a son bosoing!
8448 Mal fu que trop li fustes loing;
Molt li eüssiez grant mestier.”
Lors s’en ristrent li chevalier.
Missires Guifreis de Bruslou
8452 Dist al Mareschal: “Ge vos lou,
Quant cist coreor si pres vienent,
Qui de nului conte ne tienent,
Que nos lor laisson chevals corre.
8456 Ainz que nus les peüst secore
I avreit ja peneals tornez;
Sis avriom si atornez,
Qui as freins les porreit aerdre,
8460 Qu’il sereient as roncins perdre.”
E li Mareschal respondié:
“Tost porrom aveir gaaingnié,
Puet estre, vint roncins ou trente;
8464 Mais nos n’avom ci nule atente,
Quer nos n’avom gaires chevals;
E ge cuit, se ge seie sals,
Que unques en terre ou nos fumes
8468 De chivals tel mestier n’eüsmes
Comme nos avrom hui cest jor.
Li reis de France sanz sejor
Chevalche e s’en vient dreit al Mans;
8472 Bien tost tesgereient les flans
A nos chevals, se issi ert fait,
Einz que venisson a recet.”
A itant si s’en retornerent;
8476 Al Mans vindrent, si reconterent
Al rei ce que veü aveient
E que certeinement saveient.
Quant vit li boens reis d’Engletere
8480 Que eisi bareiout sa terre
Li reis de France par sa gile,
Lors s’en eisi fors de la vile
O ses barons; por tel besoingne
8484 Fist depecier lo pont de Voingne
E si fist les guez bien paler,
Que nuls hom n’i peüst aler,
N’a pié, n’a cheval, sanz meschief;
8488 E si fist feire de rechief
Fossez, que passer n’i peüssent
Par nul engin que il seüssent,
Quer il cuidout por verité
8492 Qu’il n’i eüst nul autre gué.
Dementres que eissi parloient
De l’autre part gardent, si voient
Outre l’eive li rei de France
8496 Venir o tote sa puissance.
Iloc voleit la nuit atendre,
Si i fist les pavillons tendre
Lez un bois qui a non le Parc,
8500 Sus la rivere al trait d’un arc.
E li Mareschal dist al rei:
“Beal sire, ore entendez a mei;
Ceste gent qui sunt herbergié,
8504 Par fei! si loereie gié
Qu’aillon reposer nos chevals,
Si serom demain plus pres d’als,
Que nos vesron qu’il voldront faire
8508 E nos kenostrons lor afaire.”
“Par Deu! Mareschal,” dist li reis,
“Vos dites bien e que corteis.”
A ces paroles s’en alerent
8512 En la vile, si deviserent,
Se li reis de France veneit
Envers la vile, qu’en fereit
Tot ardeir defors la cité,
8516 E issi fu por verité.
L’endemain sanz longe ademesse
Firent molt tost chanter la messe,
Que molt dotoent le grant ost;
8520 E li Mareschal s’arma tost.
Li reis, a une porte aval,
Toz desarmez e a cheval
Devers la Meison Dieu eissi;
8524 Mais nel vout mie fere issi
Li Mareschal, si fist que sages;
Creistre l’en peüst grant damages.
Li reis dist: “Kar vos desarmez,
8528 Mareschal; por qu’estes armez?”
E li Mareschal respondi:
“Si vos pleist, sire, itant vos di,
A estre armé me pleist molt bien
8532 Mes armes ne me nuissent rien.
Ne me desarmerei imés
Devant qu’aie seü quel fes
Nos couvendra a endurer.
8536 Hom desarmez ne puet durer
En bosoingne n’en grant afaire;
Nos ne savom qu’il voldrunt faire.”
E li reis respondi: “Par fei!
8540 Donc ne vendrez vos mie o mei.”
A telz paroles, a telz diz
Fist li reis desarmer son fiz,
Le conte Johan, qu’il amout
8544 E en qui il molt se fiout,
E seingnor Girard Talebot
E monseingnor Robert Tresgot
E Guifrei de Bruslou ausi,
8548 E qui unques o lui eissi
De la vile se desarmerent,
Outre la Meison Dieu alerent.
La s’esturent a un conseil
8552 Tuit cil qui erent si feeil
E si virent sanz demorance
L’avant garde le rei de France;
Chevalchent par de la de front
8556 Tant qu’il vindrent endreit le pont,
Qui depeciez esteit de gré.
Nuls hom ne cuidout iloec gué,
Mais a lor lances i tasterent:
8560 Le meillor gué del mont troverent.
Dis chevaliers tant s’avancierent
Que utre le gué se lancierent;
Cist afaire nos genz deçut.
8564 Robert Tresgot les aperçut
Si dist al rei: “Beal sire chiers,
Vez ci venir lor chevaliers.”
Girart Talebot, comme saive,
8568 Prist son escu e prist un gleive;
E un chevalier vint devant
Bien loing des autres galopant;
E missires Girarz l’encontre
8572 Si l’a si feru a l’encontre
Sor son escu que il depiece
Son gleive e vole en meinte piece.
Sire Richart li fiz Herbert
8576 Vit le cop bien fait e apert
Que sire Girard aveit fait;
Son escu prent, avant se treit
E un gleive prent en sa main,
8580 Si lesse corre tot de plein
Vers un autre qu’il vit venir,
Si l’asene de tel aïr
Sor l’escu que li gleives froisse,
8584 De si qu’enz es poinz li escroisse.
E li boens Mareschals, si kut,
Devant la porte ou il s’estut
A Johan d’Erlee demande
8588 Son hielme, a lacier li comende
E dit qu’a drait repentant erent
Cil qui oreinz se desarmerent,
E qu’or vodreient estre armé
8592 Cil qui esteient desarmé.
Johan d’Erlee li bailla
Li hiealme e molt tost li laça;
Cil estut devant la porte
8596 Toz solz, que nuls ne li aporte
Conseil ne confort ne aïe,
E il se defent e aïe
Comme boens chevaliers deit faire
8600 Quant il est en itel afaire.
E li Franceis en lor venir
Le vindrent durement ferir;
E il se defendi si bien
8604 Que sor lui ne conquistrent rien;
E cil qui sor la porte esteient
E sor la britasche crieient
Hautement, amont e aval:
8608 Ça, Dex aïe al Mareschal!”
Cil de Betune les oï,
Bauduïn, pas nes mesoï,
Kar si ert la chose establie
8612 Qu’il ert de sa conestablie
E si l’amout sor tote rien,
C’esprova il mainte feiz bien.
Sire Hue de Malalnei
8616 I vint, si com g’entent e crei;
Sire Renalt de Danmartin
Qui n’aveit nul meillor veisin,
E qui fu puis quens de Boloingne,
8620 I vint poingnant sanz nule essoingne;
E Hue de Hameleincort
Ne vient pas, mes il i acort;
Sire Eüstace de Novile
8624 Vint poingnant contreval la vile;
Eüstace de Cantelou
Ne se rehastout mie pou;
Raol de Plonquet, c’est la fins,
8628 E sire Pierres Malvesins,
Cist eisirent parmi la porte;
S’i out bone meslee e forte,
Qui ne commença pas a gieus.
8632 Estes vos que misire Andreus
De Chaveingny, uns chevaliers
Des gens le comte de Peitiers,
Renomez de haute proëce,
8636 Dreit a nos chevaliers s’adresce.
La veïsiez grant bruiseïz
De lances e grant chapleïz
Sus hiealmes d’espees d’acier;
8640 La n’aveit mot del manescier
Ne des rampones avant trere,
Asez aveient el a fere;
A forte meslee e a fiere
8644 Remenerent nos genz ariere,
Quer trop vindrent a grant desrei.
Sire Hue de Malalnei,
Qui bien s’i esteit combatuz,
8648 Fu enz el fossé abatuz
De la vile, si com mei semble,
Lui e son cheval tot ensemble.
Li Mareschal o Bauduïn
8652 E o Renalt de Danmartin
Durement lor corurent sure,
Sis reüserent en poi d’ure,
E nos gens sor els recouvrerent
8656 Si que par force les menerent
Ariere tresk’emi la rue,
Pres de autretant cum uns ars rue;
E si sachiez k’en cel retor
8660 Out grant meslee e grant estor.
Li Mareschal tendi la main
Si prist seignor Andrieu al frein,
De Chaveingni, si l’en mena;
8664 Jusqu’a la porte l’amena,
Si que li chevals qui tost porte
Out la teste dedenz la porte.
Uns de la bretesche la sus
8668 Jeta une grant piere jus
S’asena mon seingnor Andrieu
El braz, trop li fist malveis gieu,
K’en deus meitiez li pecia.
8672 E uns autres jus renveia
Une pere grant e honeste;
Son chival feri en la teste,
Si hernua si ke li freins
8676 Remist al Mareschal es mains,
E li chevals torna ariere;
Si s’en parti en tel maniere
Misire Andreus tot quitement
8680 Mais molt fu bleciez durement.
Li Mareschal jete en la porte
Le frein, e un vaslet l’em porte,
E retorna a la meslee,
8684 Qui encor n’ert pas desmeslee,
Quer nuls ne s’en voleit retraire,
Tant tendeit chascuns a bien faire.
En la meslee prist as mains
8688 Deus autres dunt il mit les freins
Pres a pres, mais si le joerent
Que par les freins li eschaperent
E partirent de la meslee,
8692 Testemoingne Johan d’Erlee
A qui, quit, li frein baillié furent.
Quant cil le dient quis rechurent,
Come d’oïe e de veüe,
8694 Dunc deit la chose estre creüe.
Teles furent les mesestances
Que retrois o les fers de lances
Geseient amont e aval,
8700 Ke un asena le chival
Al Mareschal en tel maniere
Quil meheingna del pié desriere.
Li Mareschal tendi la main
8704 Si prist tantost parmi le frein
Un qui molt ert boens chevaliers
Des genz le conte de Peitiers,
Qui out non Heimeriz Odart;
8708 Mais cil ne prist il pas endart,
Quer il l’en mena sor son peis,
S’esteit il nez del Losduneis;
Bien le tint e tant le mena
8712 Que en la porte l’amena,
Lors li vint li reis a l’encontre
Tot desarmez; kant il l’encontre:
“Mareschal, or n’en dotez mie,
8716 Vostre bone chevalerie
Nos porreit molt bien nuire encui.
D’itant aperceü me sui
Ke nule de nos autres portes
8720 Ne sunt si bones ne si fortes;
A itant vos poez aerdre
Que nos i porriom bien perdre.”
“Sire,” fait sei li Mareschal,
8724 Sis entroient ce serreit mal,
Ice ne fait pas a teisir,
Mais or seit a vostre pleisir.
Mais itant vos voil amenteivre:
8728 Faites cel chivaler receivre
Que ge ai pris, sil vos an main.”
“Vos meïsmes pernez en main,”
Fait li reis, “de lui ben garder
8732 E si le feites desarmer.”
Lors descendi li Mareschals,
Que meshaigniez ert si chevals,
Si est montez sor le destrier
8736 Qu’il out pris od le chivalier,
E li chivalier, n’i out el,
En enveia a son ostel;
Puis ala avant o le rei,
8740 Qui par outrage e par desrei
Fist alumer, por verité,
La vile defors la cité.
Quant li reis de France ce veit,
8744 Qui uncor nul talent n’aveit
De torner i, sanz plus atendre,
Fist tantost ses pavillons tendre
Outre l’ewe, de l’autre part;
8748 Ce li est bel ke la vile art.
Li reis en veit en grant ennui
E li Mareschal ovec lui
Amont e aval la cité,
8752 Dont le jor fu desherité.
Une feme virent plaingnant
E angoissosement plorrant
Qui fors de sa meison meteit
8756 Le suen, quer alumee esteit.
Li Mareschal, qui ert pitos,
En fu dolenz e angoissos,
Si fist ses escuiers descendre
8760 Pur lui aider, sanz plus atendre;
E il meïmes descendi,
Qui molt volentiers entendi
A lui aider e a secorre;
8764 Molt voluntiers voleit rescore
Li mal; tele esteit sa costume.
Lors prist une coute de plume,
Qui par desoz ert alumee,
8768 S’en issi si forte fumee
Qu’il li torna a si grant grief
Qu’oster li estut de sun chef
Son hielme, qu’enstorse i esteit
8772 La fumee qui li nuiseit.
Quant li reis en la cité vint,
Tele aventure lui avint
Que li feus ovec lui entra
8776 En la vile, si aluma
La vile en treis lieus ou en quatre,
Si k’onques nel porrent abatre
Tut cil qui ovec lui i erent,
8780 Ainz laissierent, si s’en alerent.
Li reis enveia en sa vile
Por le conte de Magnevile,
Si fu ou lui li Mareschals,
8784 Qui toz dis fu fins e leals,
E des autres barons asez
I out ovec lui amassez,
E pristrent conseil, ça me semble,
8788 Hastif d’aler s’en tuit ansemble;
O lor herneis, ove le rei
S’avoierent vers Freesnei.
Issi comme il eissirent fors,
8792 Li Mareschal s’en issi lors
De la vile toz desarmez,
Quer il n’esteit de ren armez
Fors de son porpoint solement.
8796 Eisi s’en issi senglement;
E kant cil de l’ost esgarderent
Que la gent le rei s’en alerent
E que la cité deguerpirent,
8800 Beal lor fu k’aler les en virent
Sis suïrent a fine chace:
S’est qui fuie asez est qui chace.
E li quens de Peitiers monta
8804 Sor son chival, einz ne s’arma
Fors d’un porpoint, sans plus de feste,
Un chapel de fer en sa teste,
Sis porsiwi isnelement
A els atainst, mais neporquant
Autres l’ateinstrent avant,
Quer Phelipes de Colombiers
8812 S’avança devant toz premiers,
Qui de ses maisneienz esteit
E qui grant pris d’armes aveit,
S’ala un chevalier ferir
8816 Sor son escu de grant aïr.
Quant Willeaume vit le desrei,
Des Roches, qui ovec le rei
S’en alout, lors torna ariere;
8820 D’une lance forte e entiere
L’ala ferir en itel guise
Que dusque es poinz peceie e bruise.
Li kuens de Peitiers vint atant
8824 De grant aïr eperonant,
De celui des Roches escrie:
“Willeaume, ge tienc a folie
Vostre sejor e vostre ester,
8828 Quer ci vos fait mal arester;
Vos gastez le tens en alvesre,
Amendez vos couvient vostre esre.”
Al Mareschal ne fu pas gent
8832 Quant il vit si venir lor gent;
A lei d’ome averti e saive
Prist tost sun escu e son gleive,
Des esperons feri tot dreit
8836 Al conte Richard qui veneit.
E quant li quens le vit venir,
Si s’escria par grant haïr:
“Por les gambes Dieu, Mareschal!
8840 Ne m’ociez, ce sereit mal;
Ge sui toz desarmez issi.”
E li Mareschal respondi:
“Nenil! diables vos ocie!
8844 Kar jo ne vos ocirai mie.”
Si feri sor son cheval lors
De sa lance parmi le cors
Que il morut en es le pas;
8848 Unques avant n’ala un pas,
Ainz morut, e li quens cha_.
Ço fu beals cops; bien enchaï
A cels qui devant s’en aloient,
8852 Kar autre rescosse n’avoient
Qu’il ne fusent ou mort ou pris,
Kar issi l’avoient enpris
Cil qui bien le peüssent faire,
8856 N’eüst esté iceste afaire.
Li chevalier e li servent
A qui enz ainz vindrent avant,
Quant li quens Ricart sailli sus,
8860 Si lur a dit: “Ne tesez plus,
Quer ja averez tot perdu;
Tuit estes fol e esperdu.”
Des qu’il l’out eisi prononcié
8864 N’en ala plus avant un pié.
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.