Chroniques

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191.

Battle of Poitiers

1

To say the truth, the English archers were of infinite service to their army; for they shot so thickly and so well that the French did not know which way to turn themselves to avoid the arrows; by this means they kept advancing by little and little and gained ground. When the men-at-arms perceived that the first battalion was beaten, and that the one under the duke of Normandy was in disorder and beginning to open, they hastened to mount their horses, which they had close at hand. As soon as they were all mounted, they gave a shout of "St. George, for Guienne!" and Sir John Chandos said to the prince, "Sir, sir, now push forward, for the day is ours; God will this day put it in your hand. Let us make for our adversary the king of France; for where he is will lie the main stress of the business; I well know that his valor will not let him fly; and he will remain with us, if it please God and St. George; but he must be well fought with; and you have before said that you would show yourself this day a good knight." The prince replied, "John, get forward; you shall not see me turn my back this day, but I will always be among the foremost." He then said to Sir Walter Woodland, his banner-bearer, "Banner, advance, in the name of God and St. George."2 The knight obeyed the commands of the prince. In that part of the field the battle was very hot, and greatly crowded; many a knight was unhorsed, and you must know that whenever anyone fell, he could not get up again, unless he were quickly assisted.

King John, on his part, proved himself a good knight; and, if a fourth of his people had behaved as well, the day would have been his own. Those, however, who had remained with him acquitted themselves to the best of their power, and were either slain or taken prisoners. Scarcely any who were with the king attempted to escape. . . . King John himself did wonders: he was armed with a battle-ax, with which he fought and defended himself. . . . There was much pressing at this time, through eagerness to capture the king; and those who were nearest to him and knew him cried out, "Surrender yourself, surrender yourself, or you are a dead man." In that part of the field was a young knight from St. Omer, who was engaged at a salary in the service of the king of England; his name was Denys de Morbeque. . . . It fortunately happened for this knight that he was at the time near to the king of France, when he was so much pulled about. Denys, by dint of force, for he was very strong and robust, pushed through the crowd and said to the king in good French, "Sire, sire, surrender yourself." The king, who found himself very disagreeably situated, turning to him, asked, "To whom shall I surrender myself: to whom? Where is my cousin, the Prince of Wales? If I could see him, I would speak to him." "Sire," replied Denys, "he is not here; but surrender yourself to me and I will lead you to him." "Who are you?" said the king. "Sire, I am Denys de Morbeque, a knight from Artois; but I serve the king of England, because I cannot belong to France, having forfeited all I possessed there." The king then gave him his right-hand glove and said, "I surrender myself to you." There was much crowding and pushing about, for every one was eager to cry out, "I have taken him." Neither the king nor his youngest son Philip was able to get forward and free himself from the throng. . . .

The king, to escape from this peril, said, "Gentlemen, gentlemen, I pray you conduct me and my son in a courteous manner to my cousin, the prince; and do not make such a riot about my capture, for I am so great a lord that I can make all sufficiently rich." These words, and others which fell from the king, appeased them a little; but the disputes were always beginning again, and they did not move a step without rioting. When the prince’s barons saw this troop of people, they stuck spurs into their horses and hastened up to them. On their arrival, they asked what was the matter; they were answered that it was the king of France, who had been made prisoner, and that upwards of ten knights and squires challenged him at the same time as belonging to each of them. The two barons then pushed through the crowd by main force, and ordered all to draw aside. They commanded, in the name of the prince, and under pain of instant death, that every one should keep his distance and not approach unless ordered or desired so to do. They all retreated behind the king; and the two barons, dismounting, advanced to the king with profound reverences and conducted him in a peaceable manner to the Prince of Wales.

When evening had come, the Prince of Wales gave a supper in his pavilion to the king of France, and to the greater part of the princes and barons who were prisoners. The prince seated the king of France and his son Philip at an elevated and well-covered table. . . . The other knights and squires were placed at different tables. The prince himself served the king’s table, as well as the others, with every mark of humility, and would not sit down at it, in spite of all his entreaties for him so to do, saying that "he was not worthy of such an honor, nor did it appertain to him to seat himself at the table of so great a king, or of so valiant a man as he had shown himself by his actions that day." He added also with a noble air, "Dear sir, do not make a poor meal because the Almighty God has not gratified your wishes in the event of this day; for be assured that my lord and father will show you every honor and friendship in his power, and will arrange your ransom so reasonably that you will henceforward always remain friends. In my opinion, you have cause to be glad that the success of this battle did not turn out as you desired; for you have this day acquired such high renown for prowess that you have surpassed all the best knights on your side. I do not, dear sir, say this to flatter you, for all those of our side who have seen and observed the actions of each party have unanimously allowed this to be your due and decree you the prize and garland for it." At the end of this speech there were murmurs of praise heard from every one; and the French said the prince had spoken nobly and truly and that he would be one of the most gallant rulers in Christendom, if God should grant him life to pursue his career of glory.

1 Froissart, , bk. i, pt. ii, chs. 41–42, 44–45, 49.

2 The patron saint of England.

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Chicago: "Battle of Poitiers," Chroniques in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 403–405. Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2021, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LPP4APJ1LWCNVEC.

MLA: . "Battle of Poitiers." Chroniques, Vol. i, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 403–405. Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2021. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LPP4APJ1LWCNVEC.

Harvard: , 'Battle of Poitiers' in Chroniques. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.403–405. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2021, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=LPP4APJ1LWCNVEC.