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CHAPTER XCI.—THE TOWN OF VERVINS IS TAKEN BY SIR CLUGNET DE BRABANT, AND AFTERWARD RETAKEN.—THE CASTLE OF GERSIES IS WON BY SIR SIMONDE CLERMONT.
About this same time, the town of Vervins, which was very strong and rich, was taken by treachery, by sir Clugnet de Brabant and Thomas de Lorsies, lord of Boquiaux, and some other gentlemen, to the amount of six hundred men, from different countries, of the party of the duke of Orleans. This was said to have been effected by a butcher who had been for ill conduct banished the town, and in revenge had joined the army of sir Clugnet de Brabant.
Vervins, as it appeared in the Sixteenth Century.–From a print in Chastillion's Topographie Françoise. The butcher's wife and family had remained in the town ; and one day, when it was dusk, they hid themselves near the gate, and about sun-rise, when the guard had quitted the ramparts, and the gate was opened and the drawbridge let down, they made a signal to the enemy, who was in arnbuscade. Sir Clugnet instantly entered the place, sounding trumpets, and shouting out, “ The duke of Orleans for ever!” to the great surprise of the inhabitants, who were far from expecting such a morning salute. Very few were made prisoners, but all were robbed; and for three days the money and plate of the lord de Vervins, who was with the king, or on his road to join him, as well as everything of value in the different houses, were collected, and sent off by sir Clugnet, to the amount of thousands of florins, to the town of Ardennes *, that those of his countrymen who had joined his party, and those who had accompanied him on this expedition, might be paid.
The neighbouring towns were astonished when they heard of this event, and collected a large force to enable them to besiege the enemy in Vervins, and retake the town. The bailiff of the Vermandois, sir le Brun de Bairins, the lord de Chin, with many other knights and citizens, hastened thither, to the number of four hundred helmets and from six to eight thousand infantry very well armed. The lord de Vervins, who was of high rank and a very expert knight, no sooner heard of his loss than he hastened to join the besiegers, and led many brisk attacks on the town. Those who had captured it made an excellent defence from the walls with bows and cross-bows, so that the besiegers were twenty-three days before it. On the 26th of June, the lord de Boquiaux, Thomas de Lorsies, son to the lord de Selebes,
* Q. Ardres ?
knights, the bastard d'Esne, and those who were with them, considering that their enemies were daily increasing, and that they had done much damage to the walls and houses, were afraid of being killed or taken, and held a council on the best means to escape. They defended themselves with greater vigour than before, the better to conceal their intentions ; and when the besiegers were at their dinner in their tents and pavilions, and they had seen their guard posted at one of the gates, they mounted their horses fully armed,-and, having bad the gates thrown open, all except three, who were asleep or too negligent, sallied out full gallop, sticking spurs into their horses, and made with all speed for the forest near the town. The besiegers were astonished on seeing this, and, pushing aside their tables, mounted instantly to pursue them, and followed with such haste that they took about forty of them, -and the rest saved themselves by dint of speed. The royalists returned to the town with their prisoners, and found there the three negligent Armagnacs and some other wretches of their party, who, by the command of the bailiff of the Vermandois, were sent to prison ; and when he had heard their confession, they were by him sentenced to be beheaded. The bailiff then set out for Laon, whither he carried the other prisoners, well-bound, there to suffer a similar punishment. The lord de Vervins remained in his town to put it into repair, and the lord de Chin and the rest went to their homes.
A few days after, the castle of Gersies, which was very strong, was taken by some of the army of sir Clugnet de Brabant, namely, by sir Simon de Clermont, a captain called Millet d'Autre, and others, who won it one morning by storm. But shortly after, the bailiff of the Vermandois, with some of the aforesaid lords and a large body of the commonalty, regained it by assault. Sir Simon and Millet d'Autre, with their companions, were all made prisoners, carried to Laon, and beheaded. The castle was new garrisoned for the king.
CHAPTER XCII.—THE KING OF FRANCE RECEIVES CERTAIN INFORMATION THAT HIS
ADVERSARIES HAD FORMED AN ALLIANCE WITH THE KING OF ENGLAND.-THE
CONSTABLE MARCHES INTO THE BOULONOIS. During the residence of the king of France at Sens in Burgundy, he received positive intelligence, that the dukes of Berry, Orleans, Bourbon, and their confederates, had formed an alliance with the king of England, who had engaged to send a large army to their assistance, to lay waste his kingdom,—and that part of it had already marched from Calais and the other castles on the frontiers of the Boulonois, and commenced the war. They had carried away much plunder, and had set fire to the town of Merck on the sea-shore, thus infringing the truces which subsisted between them. In consequence of this inroad, the king of France ordered his constable, the count de St. Pol, to march thither, to assemble all the nobles of Picardy, and to garrison and victual the frontier towns, and to use every diligence in opposing the further progress of the English ; for the duke of Burgundy had carried with him all the youth, and the most warlike men, from the countries of the Boulonois, Ponthieu, and Artois, leaving behind only the superannuated and such as were unable to bear arms.
The constable, hearing of the mischiefs the English were doing, more of his own free will than in obedience to the king's, hastened to Paris, laying all other matters aside, with the borgne de la Heuse and some other knights whom he left there, at the earnest entreaties of the Parisians, to carry on the war against Dreux. He went then to Picardy and to St. Pol, to visit his lady ; thence he went to St. Omer and to Boulogne, inspecting the whole frontier, and providing necessaries where wanted. The whole country was now alarmed and in motion, insomuch that the English retired worsted; but they very soon recommenced their warfare. When the constable saw this, and that they did not abstain, he held a council of his principal officers, such as the lord d'Offemont, the lord de Canny, the lord de Lovroy, sir Philip de Harcourt and others. At the conclusion of it, he assembled a body of men-atarms, to the amount of fifteen hundred, whom he put under the command of the lord de Lovroy, and one called Alen Quentin, and ordered them to march toward the town and castle of Guines. As they approached the place on foot, the constable sent off, by another road, forty helmets under sir John de Renty, who was well acquainted with all the avenues to the town, to make a pretence of attacking it on that side, which was only inclosed with a palisade and ditch, and garrisoned with Dutchmen and other soldiers who resided there.— The constable, with six hundred combatants, advanced between the town and Calais, to guard that road, and to prevent the English, should they hear of the attack, from sending any considerable reinforcements. Thus did he remain between bis two battalions so long as the engagement lasted. The infantry, at day-break, began the storm with courage, and continued it a long time, until they had succeeded in setting the town on fire, so that upward of sixty houses were burnt. — Those in the castle defended themselves valiantly, and much annoyed the assailants with stones and arrows shot from their cross-bows. Perceiving the distress of the townsmen, they opened a gate of the castle to receive them,—and thus they escaped death. By the advice of the said marshal de Renty, his division made a retreat to where they had commenced the attack, but not without many being severely wounded : few, however, were killed. The constable, when informed of their retreat, made it known to the whole army, and returned to Boulogne, but leaving garrisons along the whole frontier, who daily had some skirmishes with the English.
CHAPTER XCIII.- THE KING OF FRANCE LAYS SIEGE TO FONTENAY AND TO BOURGES.
THE EVENTS THAT HAPPENED WHILE HE REMAINED THERE. The king of France having remained some days at Sens, and having held many councils on the state of his realm, marched thence to Auxerre, and to la Charité on the Loire, where he staid five days. He then advanced toward a strong castle called Fontenay, in the possession of the Armagnacs, who, on seeing the great force of the king, instantly surrendered it, on condition of having their lives and fortunes saved. Several captains, who had commanded on the frontiers against the Armagnacs, entered it, -and the army of the king was greatly increased by troops daily arriving from all quarters. In the number of those that came were the lord de Heilly, Enguerrand de Bournouville, the lord de Vitry and others. The king marched from Fontenay to the town of Dun-le-Roi in Berry, where he encamped, and had it besieged by his army on all sides, and well battered by his engines. During this siege, Hector, bastard-brother to the duke of Bourbon, with only three hundred men, made an attack on a body of the king's army when foraging, and killed and took many. After this exploit, he hastened back to Bourges, and told the dukes of Berry and Bourbon of his success.
Dun-le-Roi was so much harassed by the cannon and engines of the besiegers, that, on the ninth day, the garrison offered to surrender, on condition of their lives and fortunes being spared, and that sir Louis de Corail, lately made seneschal of the Boulonois, should return with his men in safety to the duke of Berry. These terms were accepted, and the town was delivered up to the king. He remained there for three days, and then departed with his army, leaving sir Gautier de Rubes, a Burgundy knight, governor of the town. The king and his army were quartered, on Friday the 10th day of June, three leagues distant from Dun-le-Roi, at a town near a wood. On the morrow he continued his march, and came before the city of Bourges, which was strong, very populous, and full of every sort of provision and wealth. This city was, in ancient times, the capital of the kingdom of Aquitaine, and is situated on the river Yeure. Through the town, a small rivulet runs from Dun-le-Roi.
The lords within this town, namely, the dukes of Berry and Bourbon, the lord d'Albreth, the count d'Auxerre *, John brother to the duke of Bar, with the inhabitants, showed every appearance of making a strong resistance. There were also in Bourges many who had fled their country, such as the archbishops of Sens and of Bourges, the bishops of Paris and of Chartres, the lords de Gaucourt, Barbasan, Aubreticourt, le borgne Foucault, and fifteen hundred helmets, or thereabout, and four hundred archers and cross-bowmen. When the king's army approached, which was estimated and commonly believed to consist of upward of one hundred thousand horse, some few sallied out of the town well armed, shouting,
* Louis II. de Châlon, count of Auxerre, son of Louis I. and Mary of Parthenay.
"Long live the king, and the dukes of Berry and Bourbon !” at the same time falling desperately on the light troops of the van, so that very many were killed and wounded on each side; but the main army, advancing, soon forced them to retreat. When they had re-entered the town, they set the gates wide open, and gallantly made preparations for defence.
The van of the king's army was commanded by the grand master of the household, sir Guichard Daulphin, and the lords de Croy and de Heilly, knights, Aymé de Vitry and Enguerrand de Bournouville, esquires. The lords de Croy and de Heilly, in the absence of the marshals of France, Boucicaut and de Longny, were ordered by the king to exercise the functions of marshals. The rear division was commanded by the lords d'Arlay, sir John de Chalon, the lord de Vergy, marshal of Burgundy, the lords de Ront and de Raisse.
In the king's battalion were the dukes of Aquitaine, Burgundy, and Bar, the counts de Mortain and de Nevers, the lord Gilles de Bretagne, and a numerous body of chivalry. When the army arrived on the plain in front of the city, they were from three to four hours in arranging their places of encampment, and in dividing the army under the different commanders. Then, near to a gibbet, were created more than five hundred knights, who, with many others, had never before displayed their banners. After this ceremony, the army was advanced nearer to the town, and encamped on the marshes on the side of the small river before-mentioned, and other flat grounds.—Some tents and pavilions were pitched among vineyards, and by the ruins of the houses belonging to the priory of St. Martin-des-Champs, of the order of Cluny, and others near to part of the suburbs which had been destroyed by the inhabitants prior to the arrival of the king's army, and among the large walnut-trees adjoining. It is true, that some from thirst drank water from wells without the town; but whoever did so died suddenly, so that the wickedness and treachery of the besieged were discovered. It was proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that no one should in future drink any well-water, but always make use of spring or running water, for that the wells had been poisoned. The besieged afterward confessed, that an herb called loatis by the Greeks, and by the Latins Glastum, had been thrown into the wells, to cause the deaths of all who should drink out of them.
Though the townsmen could not now pass the marshes and cross the fords as usual, from fear of the besiegers, they had, by another road, free communication with the country, so that all manner of provision could be brought into the town, to the great vexation of the
lords in the king's army. The besiegers had now approached pretty near to the town, and had brought their artillery to bear on it, so that, from the continued cannonading and shooting from cross-bows, they slew many of their adversaries. The townsmen frequently insulted them by their abuse, calling them false Burgundian traitors, who had brought the king thither confined in his tent, as if he was not sound in mind. They called the duke of Burgundy a treacherous murderer; adding, that they would instantly have opened their gates to the king if he had not been there. The Burgundians were not behindhand in their replies, retorting on the Armagnacs by calling them false and rebellious traitors to their king, and using various other invectives on each side ; but the duke of Burgundy, who heard all their abuse, made no reply whatever, but only thought how he might distress them the more.
On Wednesday the 13th of June, a truce was agreed on between the two parties, at the solicitation of the duke of Berry ; but during this time, some of the king's household, incited by treason, sent to the besieged,—“Sally forth : now is the time !" well knowing what they would do. When precisely between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, while the king was in his tent, and the dukes of Aquitaine and Burgundy were reposing, and the greater part of the army disarmed, as not suspecting anything, about five hundred chosen men-atarms sallied out of two gates of the town, and marched on as secretly as they could through vineyards and by-paths to avoid being seen, with the intent of surprising and taking the king and the duke of Aquitaine, in their tents, and putting the duke of Burgundy to death.
What they were afraid of happened ; for two pages of the lord de Croy, riding their coursers to exercise and to water, perceived this body of five hundred marching toward the army, and instantly galloped back again, crying out, “ To arms ! here are the enemies advancing, who have sallied out of their town." On hearing this, every one hastened to his tent, and armed. The vanguard drew up in array, and soon met the enemy. The engagement immediately commenced; but the Armagnacs were overpowered by their adversaries, who increased every moment, so that they could not withstand them. Six score were soon killed, and about forty made prisoners : the rest took disgracefully to flight, making all haste back to Bourges, led on by the lord de Gaucourt. Among the slain were Guillaume Batiller, who had been taken at the battle of St. Cloud, and set at liberty, and Guillaume de Challus, knight, whose bodies, when stripped, were thrown into the wells said to have been poisoned, to serve them for a grave. In the number of prisoners were the grand-master of the household of the duke of Berry, an esquire of the lord d'Albreth, and also his principal cook, called Gastard, who declared in the presence of several, that he would name those who had urged them to make this attempt. In consequence, on the morrow were arrested master Geoffry de Bouillon, secretary to the duke of Aquitaine, and the family of the lord de Boissay, first maistre-d’hôtel to the king,—and afterward one called Gilles de Toisy, esquire, a native of Beauvais, his servant, and Enguerrand de Seure, esquire, a Norman, who were all on this account beheaded before the king's tent; but as the lord de Boissay was only suspected, and no proof brought to convict him, he was imprisoned, and made to witness the punishment of the others.
There were a body of English and French in the king's army, consisting of about three hundred, under the command of Aymé de Vitry, two hundred of whom one day deserted ; but, as they were making for the town, they were so closely pursued that numbers of them were slain by lances, swords, and arrows, before they could enter the gates. One half of the garrison of Gien-sur-Loire, consisting of about four hundred helmets, attempted, on the 19th of June, to enter the city ; but, before they could accomplish it, having been observed by the besiegers, they were so vigorously attacked that from one hundred to sixscore were killed.
During the time the king was at this siege of Bourges, the foragers were almost daily cut off by the ambuscades of the enemy, they themselves and their horses being slain or taken ; and as they were obliged to seek forage at the distance of six or eight leagues, the army suffered much from famine. Moreover, the waggons that brought provision from Burgundy and other parts, were waylaid by the soldiers of Sancerre, and other places in rebellion against the king, and plundered : this caused great distress to the besiegers, and very many