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A.I). u03. aDfi injuries which the said Lords Percy and their allies had already done, and continued doing. Then King Henry, very uneasy at this event, sent for his council, at which there appeared all the dukes, earls, barons, bishops, abbots, and dignitaries who were in London, who all with one common voice said to the king: "Sire, there is no need of long councils, but it "behoves us truly to provide for the most necessarjr "thing. Send word and cause it to be published "throughout all parts that every one is to take up "arms and come to you, and do you yourself take "the field so that every one may follow you, and "command all constables and marshals to see to it, "to have this news diligently published throughout "all the towns and cities of your kingdom, that "everyone round about may follow you furnished "with provisions and munitions as pertain to such "cases, and follow you day and night, and come to you "wherever you may be." This council being thus held as had been said and decided, King Henry and the princes who were with him made their preparations and took up arms, and the king and they departed, the Londoners being in his company, and when the king found himself in the country he made his dispositions of vanguard, main body, and rear guard, of whom he delivered the command to those whom he thought proper and worthy to undertake it. He in person led the main body, the Duke of York, his uncle, being with him, and the young Duke of Gloucester, the Earl of Arundel, the Earl of Rutland, and many other great lords. In the vanguard were the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Exeter, the Earl of Somerset, the Lord de Ros, and many other great barons, and in the rear guard were the young Duke of Surrey and many wise and distinguished knights, and when they were all assembled they numbered fully twenty-six thousand archers and three thousand men-at-arms, but
at last there were more than sixty thousand men. A.D. 1403. Then King Henry seeing himself ready, and in such force, gave command to the marshals of his army and to his constable to make ready to march, which they did. At this moment there was such a great noise and cry of trumpets and clarions, and neighing of horses, that it was horrible to hear, for the mountains resounded with it in such a way as was deafening, and the roads were so covered with men, chariots, and horses that at more than two leagues away the noise and uproar could be heard so loudly that it was terrible. At last the king and his army so hastened their march that they came up within half a dajr's march of the enemy. When the Lords Percy knew that King Henry was so near they set their order of battle, and when they were ready marched forward to meet their enemies, and chose the best and most advantageous position possible, which was near Shrewsbury, where they resolved to await their adversaries, which they did. When all were ready and in order for battle the Earl of Northumberland, Sir Thomas de Percy, and Sir Henry went from line to line to encourage their men to do well, making many exhortations to them in this manner: "Gentlemen, if the "ancient name of Briton, which formerly your prede"cessors had, does not belong to you to-day, it will "be recovered and replaced by you, and you will "drive out this accursed English nation, and Henry "of Lancaster who has newly usurped this noble "kingdom and caused King Richard and many a "valiant knight to be put to death, which is very "lamentable and hurtful." Thus, as you have heard, the Percies exhorted their men to do well, and so encouraged them that there was not one but had his courage so elevated that he felt that none but GOD himself could injure him, and in truth, as I have been informed by distinguished men who said they had
A.D. 1403. seen knights and men of authority who declared they had seen this thing, it was an affair without equal in history. Now King Henry the night before had sent spies and runners to ascertain the comportment of his enemies, which runners brought back word to him that for certain they were quietly awaiting him in a very fine plain, but the way to enter it was very difficult for him and his forces, while it was most advantageous for his enemies, who numbered more than eighty thousand men, and among them a great body of Scotch and Welsh. Hearing this report, King Henry without any delay gave the command that all should set out in order of battle, which they did until they were within a league of their enemies, where they encamped that night until the break of day, when King Henry, armed at all points, had mass sung, and mass over, took a draught of wine, mounted his horse, ordered his line of battle, and admonished them to fight well, going from rank to rank, saying, to encourage them, how for a good cause and the common profit of all the realm he had rightly taken up this quarrel, which he did hold to be just and lawful, and that every one should put himself forward to defend his principal right; and then he ordered his banners to be displayed, namely, the banners of St. George and St. Edward, and afterwards his banner quartered with the arms of France and England. He commanded his constable to march forward his vanguard for the honour of God and St. George, which was done according to his command. And on the other side the Lords Percy, warned of the coming of their enemies, ordered forward their vanguard led by the Earl of Douglas, and then when they came in sight of each other the archers dismounted uttering a loud and horrible cry which was dreadful to hear, and then began to march at a good pace in good order against each other, and the archers to draw so fast and thick that it seemed to the be
holders like a thick cloud, for the sun which at that A.D. una. time was bright and clear then lost its brightness so thick were the arrows, and this was helped by the dust which Hew about together with the breath of the men who began to get heated, so that the air was quite darkened. After the arrows were exhausted they put their hands to swords and axes with which they began to slay each other, and the leaders of the advance guards striking their horses with their spurs and with lances couched struck each other. And the men and horses were slain in such wise as it was pitiable to see. None spared his fellow, mercy had no place, each one tried only to escape and put himself at the head of his party, for there was no friend or relation, but each one thought of himself, so they fought with such equality of bitterness that it was a long time before one could conjecture to whom would remain the day and victory, but at length by the prowess of the Earl of Douglas and his companions the king's vanguard was overwhelmed, so that it was with great difficulty that the Earls of Rutland and Warwick could find time or way to retreat to the main body of the king, which came riding at a great pace to succour his vanguard, which he saw was wavering and discomfited. On the other side came the Earl of Northumberland and the other Percies rejoiced and encouraged by the appearance of victory, assembling their battalions where the cry and noise were loudest on all sides, trumpets and clarions made a marvellous clamour, and it was horrible to hear the groans of the wounded, who ended their lives miserably amongst the feet of the horses. There was such a slaughter of men whose bodies lay soulless1 that the like had not been seen in England for a long time, and those who were alive did all in their power to
1 Unarmed is the reudiug in S.
A.D. 1403. kill each other, so that it was a horrible and dreadful tiling to see, nor was there any so bold that he did not tremble with horror and fear, for as I have heard tell byword of mouth and by writing it is not found in any book of this chronicle that there ever was in the kingdom of England since the conquest of Duke William so horrible a battle or so much Christian blood spilled as in this of which we are speaking, which was a lamentable thing, for each of the parties strove hard and wished to vanquish his enemies. King Henry, who was concerned in the affair more than any other, disturbed by the defeat of his vanguard, which was thus lost, began with a loud voice to exhort his men to do well, and throwing himself into the battle did many a fine feat of arms so that on both sides he was held to be the most valiant knight, and it was said for certain that on that day with his own hand he slew thirty of his enemies, and truth to say, by his sense, prowess, and good conduct the battle was won and his enemies beaten ; but he was three times borne to the ground by the Earl of Douglass, and in rescuing him many a man was slain and overthrown who never rose again, so that it can well be believed that the Lords Percy, who a short time since had had the first victory, were much dismayed, for if they had gone on with their first good fortune they would have succeeded in their enterprise, which the English much feared, and King Henry had with great trouble forced them to march forward on account of the defeat of the vanguard. Finally, the king obtained the victory and put his enemies to flight and utter discomfiture, and there were taken prisoners the Earl of Douglas, Sir Thomas de Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Sir Henry, his nephew, whose head the king immediately caused to be struck off, and there were in like manner taken prisoners many foreign knights and esquires of Scotland and Wales, of whom some were