History of William the Marshal: The taking of Le Mans and the flight of Henry II

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

for Fresnay.

As they issued forth from the town,

8792                        the Marshal rode out

completely unarmed:

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.

8808                        ………………………….

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

8808                        ………………………………………….

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.

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