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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.
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 ambuscade. 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 every thing 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.
Thé lord de Vervins, who was of high rank and a very expert knight, no sooner
* Q. Ardres ?
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, 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 had the gates thrown
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.
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