Descriptions of warfare found in the Chronicle of Louth Park Abbey, 1314-1346

The Chronicle of Louth Park Abbey is a typical example of a monastic chronicle, containing information about the Abbey along with some bits of news from the outside world. The chronicle covers the period from 1066 to 1413, with many years not covered (i.e nothing between 1382 and 1395) as well some mistakes in placing events in the correct year. Here are several selected portions which deal with England’s wars with Scotland and France, commencing with the battle of Bannockburn.

1314 -…Also in the same year, on the morning of St. John the Baptist, a great battle was fought between the King of England and Lord Robert the Bruce, near the castle of Stirling, in a place called Lepolles, where the King of England was put to flight in confusion, and many great men perished, namely the Earl of Gloucester who left no heir of his body. Also Robert, Lord Clifford, died there. Also, William, Lord Vesci without any heir to his family. Also Payn de Tiptoft and many others.

1315 – …Also in the same year, in the month of November, a fierce battle was fought between the Earl of Lancaster and Lord Adam of Banaster; the said Adam deceitfully and maliciously, with many confederates, rebelled against the Earl of Lancaster; many perished in this fight and this Adam was taken prisoner and beheaded, with all his family. Divers fabuolus tales are indeed told about this battle.

1320 – …Also in the month of August, the King of England entered Scotland with a numerous army, powerful and numerous in strength; but they returned to their own country with shame and disgrace, without achieving their object, but with the expenditure of their goods; and this in two ways, in the first place because he forcibly obtained a tenth from the whole Church of England, a twelfth penny from the cities, and the 18th penny from the people; and consumed it in that march to war. In the second place because while the King and his Earls were going out of their way to besiege and take the city of Berwick, the Scots, to wit, Lord James Douglas, Thomas son of Ranulph, John Soulis, with a numerous army, invaded and pillaged the whole country as far as York; and of the people who went out to meet them in battle they slew six thousand, and it is said, besides those whom they killed in different villages and towns while going and returning, themselves remaining uninjured. Many notwithstanding they led away captive and detained them for ransom. [These events actually took place in 1322.]

1327 – In the year of our Lord 1327, the Scots came into England, and were surrounded by the English and the men of Hainault in Stanhope Park, but by deceit and treachery on the part of the English, they escaped without hurt to the great and everlasting shame of England.

1332 -…Also in the same year on the day before the vigil of St. Lawrence, Edward Baillol, Henry de Beaumont, the Earl of Athol, the Earl of Angus, the Baron of Stanforth, with a few others invaded Scotland by sea, and took possession of it, and killed [blank space] of the youth of Scotland, on Wednesday after the feast of St. Lawrence. Then a few Scots drove them out by stratagem, and killed the Lord Walter Comyn, and a few others.

1333 – In the year of our Lord 1333, on the vigil of St. Margaret, the Lord Edward [III], King of England, entered Scotland in the aid of Edward [Baillol], King of Scots. And there fell of the Scots, near Berwick, 40,000 men, and all the Earls and Knights of Scotland perished on the day, except Earl Patrick and some knights who were in the citadel of the castle of Berwick.

1337 – In the year of our Lord 1337, King Edward crossed over to Flanders. Then he entered the city of Cologne where reconciliation took place between him and the Emperor of Bavaria, and he entered into alliance with the Brabantines and Flemings, at whose instigation he plunged into war with France. Then he wasted with fire and sword the North parts of France as far as Tournai.

1340 – In the year of our Lord 1340, King Edward, on the vigil of St. John the Baptist, with 200 ships went over the sea towards Flanders, but near the seaboard encountered a numerous and well-equipped French fleet. For which reason he waited the whole of that day, in accordance with his plan, while on the next morning, when the powerful knight, Robert of Murlay came to his aid with the Northern English fleet, a most severe naval battle was fought [the Battle of Sluys], such as was never seen before on the shores of England; when, by God’s favour, the French and Normans, severely galled by the English archers, were almost miraculously vanquished, part slain, part drowned of their own accord, part taken prisoners, and their ships, with the exception of a few that fled away, all seized. Then the King of England arriving in Flanders, with an abundant supply of troops, devastated the north part of France, and laid siege to the strongly fortified city of Tournai. But at length, from want of money, which his slothful officials had not sent from England, and an armistice having been arranged between both Kings, to wit of England and France, he departed.

1341 – In the year of our Lord 1341, the King of England, plundered, destroyed, and burnt 1705 villages in the Kingdom of France, each having a parish church, with the exception of the castles and manors of the great lords, and other fortresses. And he waited for Philip of Valois, King of the French, for two whole days, in the open field, but he was unwilling to come.

1346 – In the year of our Lord 1346, a battle was fought between Lord Edward of Windsor, the King of England, and the Lord Philip of Valois. who claimed to be the King of France, at Crecy. In which battle fell the King of Bohemia who had come to the assistance of the French. The Duke of Lorraine also, and the Count of Flanders, with more great men, were killed there. In the same year, David Bruce, King of Scotland, was taken prisoner at the battle of Durham by a certain esquire, it was said, called John Cowpeland. And the said David was soon conveyed to London and committed to prison in the Tower without chains.

These excerpts are from The Chronicle of Louth Park Abbey, trans. A.R. Maddison (Publications of the Lincolnshire Record Society vol.1, 1889)

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