The Chronicles of Froissart Book 3

The Chronicles of Froissart Book 3 is in The Chronicles of Froissart.

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicles of Froissart Book 3 Chapter 125

How the Earl Douglas Won the Pennon of Sir Henry Percy at the Barriers before Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and How the Scots Brent the Castle of Pontland and How Sir Henry Percy and Sir Ralph His Brother Took Advice to Follow the Scots to Conquer Again the Pennon That Was Lost at the Scrimmish.

When the English lords saw that their squire returned not again at the time appointed, and could know nothing what the Scots did, nor what they were purposed to do, then they thought well that their squire was taken. The lords sent each to other, to be ready whensoever they should hear that the Scots were abroad: as for their messenger, they thought him but lost.

Before 05 Aug 1388. Now let us speak of the earl Douglas (age 30) and other, for they had more to do than they that went by Carlisle, Cumberland [Map]. When the earls of Douglas (age 30), of Moray (age 46), of March, and Dunbar (age 50)1 departed from the great host, they took their way thinking to pass the water and to enter into the bishopric of Durham, and to ride to the town and then to return, brenning and exiling the country and so to come to Newcastle [Map] and to lodge there in the town in the despite of all the Englishmen. And as they determined, so they did assay to put it in use, for they rode a great pace under covert without doing of any pillage by the way or assaulting of any castle, tower or house, but so came into the lord Percy's land and passed the river of Tyne without any let a three leagues above Newcastle not far from Brancepeth, and at last entered into the bishopric of Durham, where they found a good country. Then they began to make war, to slay people and to bren villages and to do many sore displeasures.

Note 1. George, earl of March and Dunbar (age 50): the text gives Mare, but there was at this time no earl of Mar.

Before 05 Aug 1388. As at that time the earl of Northumberland and the other lords and knights of that country knew nothing of their coming. When tidings came to Newcastle and to Durham that the Scots were abroad, and that they might well see by the fires and smoke abroad in the country, the earl (age 46) sent to Newcastle his two sons [Henry "Hotspur" Percy (age 24) and Ralph Percy (age 29)] and sent commandment to every man to draw to Newcastle, saying to his sons: 'Ye shall go to Newcastle and all the country shall assemble there, and I shall tarry at Alnwick, which is a passage that they must pass by. If we may enclose them, we shall speed well.' Sir Henry Percy (age 46) and sir Ralph (age 29) his brother obeyed their father's commandment and came thither with them of the country. The Scots rode burning and exiling the country, that the smoke thereof came to Newcastle. The Scots came to the gates of Durham and scrimmished there; but they tarried not long but returned, as they had ordained before to do, and that they found by the way took and destroyed it. Between Durham and Newcastle is but twelve leagues English and a good country: there was no town, without it were closed, but it was brent, and they repassed the river of Tyne where they had passed before, and then came before Newcastle and there rested. All the English knights and esquires of the country of York and bishopric of Durham were assembled at Newcastle, and thither came the seneschal of York, sir Ralph Lumley (age 28), sir Matthew Redman (age 60), captain of Berwick, sir Robert Ogle (age 36), sir Thomas Grey, sir Thomas Holton, sir John Felton, sir John Lilleburn, sir Thomas Abingdon, the baron of Hilton, sir John Coppledike and divers other, so that the town was so full of people that they wist not where to lodge.

Before 05 Aug 1388. When these three Scottish earls who were chief captains had made their enterprise in the bishopric of Durham and had sore overrun the country, then they returned to Newcastle and there rested and tarried two days, and every day they scrimmished. The earl of Northumberland's two sons were two young lusty knights and were ever foremost at the barriers to scrimmish. There were many proper feats of arms done and achieved: there was fighting hand to hand: among other there fought hand to hand the earl Douglas (age 30) and sir Henry Percy (age 46), and by force of arms the earl Douglas won the pennon of sir Henry Percy's, wherewith he was sore displeased and so were all the Englishmen. And the earl Douglas said to sir Henry Percy: 'Sir, I shall bear this token of your prowess into Scotland and shall set it on high on my castle of Dalkeith, that it may be seen far off.' 'Sir,' quoth sir Henry, 'ye may be sure ye shall not pass the bounds of this country till ye be met withal in such wise that ye shall make none avaunt thereof.' 'Well, sir.' quoth the earl Douglas, 'come this night to my lodging and seek for your pennon: I shall set it before my lodging and see if ye will come to take it away.' So then it was late, and the Scots withdrew to their lodgings and refreshed them with such as they had. They had flesh enough: they made that night good watch, for they thought surely to be awaked for the words they had spoken, but they were not, for sir Henry Percy was counselled not so to do.

The next day the Scots dislodged and returned towards their own country, and so came to a castle and a town called Pontland [Map], whereof sir Edmund of Alphel was lord, who was a right good knight. There the Scots rested, for they came thither betimes, and understood that the knight was in his castle. Then they ordained to assail the castle, and gave a great assault, so that by force of arms they won it and the knight within it. Then the town and castle was brent; and from thence the Scots went to the town and castle of Otterburn [Map], an eight English mile from Newcastle1 and there lodged. That day they made none assault, but the next morning they blew their horns and made ready to assail the castle, which was strong, for it stood in the marish. That day they assaulted till they were weary, and did nothing. Then they sowned the retreat and returned to their lodgings. Then the lords drew to council to determine what they should do. The most part were of the accord that the next day they should dislodge without giving of any assault and to draw fair and easily towards Carlisle. But the earl Douglas brake that counsel and said: 'In despite of sir Henry Percy, who said he would come and win again his pennon, let us not depart hence for two or three days. Let us assail this castle: it is pregnable: we shall have double honour. And then let us see if he will come and fetch his pennon: he shall be well defended2.' Every man accorded to his saying, what for their honour and for the love of him. Also they lodged there at their ease, for there was none that troubled them: they made many lodgings of boughs and great herbs and fortified their camp sagely with the marish that was thereby, and their carriages were set at the entry into the marishes and had all their beasts within the marish. Then they apparelled for to assault the next day: this was their intention.

Note 1. Froissart says 'eight English leagues.' In the next chapter the distanch becomes 'seven little leagues,' and later on, 'a six English miles,' where the original is 'lieues.' The actual distance is about thirty miles. The translator gives the form 'Combur' here, but 'Ottenburge' in the next chapter, as the name of the place. It is remarkable indeed how little trouble he seems to have taken generally to give English names correctly. In this chapter we have 'Nymyche' for 'Alnwick' and 'Pouclan' for 'Pontland,' forms rather less like the real names than those which he found in the French text, viz. Nynich and Ponclau.

Note 2. Froissart says, 'if he comes, it shall be defended.' The translator perhaps means 'he shall be prevented.'

Now let us speak of sir Henry Percy and of sir Ralph his brother and shew somewhat what they did. They were sore displeased that the earl Douglas had won the pennon of their arms: also it touched greatly their honours, if they did not as sir Henry Percy said he would; for he had said to the earl Douglas that he should not carry his pennon out of England, and also he had openly spoken it before all the knights and squires that were at Newcastle. The Englishmen there thought surely that the earl Douglas' band was but the Scots' vanguard and that their host was left behind. The knights of the country, such as were well expert in arms, spake against sir Henry Percy's opinion and said to him: 'Sir, there fortuneth in war oftentimes many losses. If the earl Douglas have won your pennon, he bought it dear, for he came to the gate to seek it and was well beaten1: another day ye shall win as much of him or more. Sir, we say this because we know well all the power of Scotland is abroad in the fields, and if we issue out and be not men enow to fight with them, and peradventure they have made this scrimmish with us to the intent to draw us out of the town, and the number that they be of, as it is said, above forty thousand men, they may soon enclose us and do with us what they will. Yet it were better to lose a pennon than two or three hundred knights and squires and put all our country in adventure.' These words refrained sir Henry and his brother, for they would do nothing against counsel. Then tidings came to them by such as had seen the Scots and seen all their demeanour and what way they took and where they rested.

Note 1. ie well fought with

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicles of Froissart Book 3 Chapter 126

How Sir Henry Percy and His Brother with a Good Number of Men of Arms and Archers Went after the Scots, to Win Again His Pennon That the Earl Douglas Had Won before Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and How They Assailed the Scots before Otterburn in Their Lodgings

It was shewed to sir Henry Percy and to his brother and to the other knights and squires that were there, by such as had followed the Scots from Newcastle and had well advised their doing, who said to sir Henry and to sir Ralph: "Sirs, we have followed the Scots privily and have discovered all the country. The Scots be at Pontland and have taken sir Edmund Alphel in his own castle, and from thence they be gone to Otterburn and there they lay this night. What they will do to-morrow we know not: they are ordained to abide there: and, sirs, surely their great host is not with them, for in all they pass not there a three thousand men.' When sir Henry heard that, he was joyful and said: 'Sirs, let us leap on our horses, for by the faith I owe to God and to my lord my father I will go seek for my pennon and dislodge them this same night.' Knights and squires that heard him agreed thereto and were joyous, and every man made him ready.

The same evening the bishop of Durham came thither with a good company, for he heard at Durham how the Scots were before Newcastle and how that the lord Percy's sons with other lords and knights should fight with the Scots: therefore the bishop of Durham to come to the rescue had assembled up all the country and so was coming to Newcastle. But sir Henry Percy would not abide his coming, for he had with him six hundred spears, knights and squires, and an eight thousand footmen. They thought that sufficient number to fight with the Scots, if they were not but three hundred spears and three thousand of other. Thus they departed form Newcastle after dinner and set forth in good order, and took the same way as the Scots had gone and rode to Otterburn, a seven little leagues from thence and fair way, but they could not ride fast because of their foot-men. And when the Scots had supped and some laid down to their rest, and were weary of travailing and assaulting of the castle all that day, and thought to rise early in the morning in cool of the day to give a new assault, therewith suddenly the Englishmen came on them and entered into the lodgings, weening it had been the masters' lodgings, and therein were but varlets and servants. Then the Englishmen cried, 'Percy, Percy!' and entered into the lodgings, and ye know well where such affray is noise is soon raised: and it fortuned well for the Scots, for when they saw the Englishmen came to wake them, then the lord sent a certain of their servants of foot-men to scrimmish with the Englishmen at the entry of the lodgings, and in the mean time they armed and apparelled them, every man under his banner and under his captain's pennon. The night was far on, but the moon shone so bright as an it had been in a manner day. It was in the month of August and the weather fair and temperate.

Thus the Scots were drawn together and without any noise departed from their lodgings and went about a little mountain, which was greatly for their advantage. For all the day before they had well advised the place and said among themselves: 'If the Englishmen come on us suddenly, then we will do thus and thus, for it is a jeopardous thing in the night if men of war enter into our lodgings. If they do, then we will draw to such a place, and thereby other we shall win or lose.' When the Englishmen entered into the field, at the first they soon overcame the varlets, and as they entered further in, always they found new men to busy them and to scrimmish with them. Then suddenly came the Scots from about the mountain and set on the Englishmen or they were ware, and cried their cries; whereof the Englishmen were sore astonied. Then they cried 'Percy!' and the other party cried 'Douglas!'

05 Aug 1388 or 19 Aug 1388. There began a cruel battle and at the first encounter many were overthrown of both parties; and because the Englishmen were a great number and greatly desired to vanguish their enemies, and rested 1 and greatly did put aback the Scots, so that the Scots were near discomfited. Then the earl James Douglas, who was young and strong and of great desire to get praise and grace, and was willing to deserve to have it, and cared for no pain nor travail, came forth with his banner and cried, 'Douglas, Douglas!' and sir Henry Percy and sir Ralph his brother, who had great indignation against the earl Douglas because he had won the pennon of their arms at the barriers before Newcastle, came to that part and cried, 'Percy!' Their two banners met and their men: there was a sore fight: the Englishmen were so strong and fought so valiantly that they reculed the Scots back. There were two valiant knights of Scots under the banner of the earl Douglas, called sir Patrick of Hepbourn and sir Patrick his son. They acquitted themselves that day valiantly: the earl's banner had been won, an they had not been: they defended it so valiantly and in the rescuing thereof did such feats of arms, that it was greatly to their recommendation and to their heirs' for ever after.

Note 1. In French, 'ilz se arresterent,' without 'and.'

It was shewed me by such as had been at the same battle, as well by knights and squires of England as of Scotland, at the house of the earl of Foix,-for anon after this battle was done I met at Orthez two squires of England called John of Chateauneuf and John of Cantiron; also when I returned to Avignon I found also there a knight and a squire of Scotland; I knew them and they knew me by such tokens as I shewed them of their country, for I, author of this book, in my youth had ridden nigh over all the realm of Scotland, and I was as then a fifteen days in the house of earl William Douglas, father to the same earl James, of whom I spake of now, in a castle of five leagues from Edinburgh in the country of Dalkeith1; the same time I saw there this earl James, a fair young child, and a sister of his called the lady Blanche,-and I was informed by both these parties2 how this battle was as sore a battle fought as lightly hath been heard of before of such a number; and I believe it well, for Englishmen on the one party and Scots on the other party are good men of war, for when they meet there is a hard fight without sparing, there is no ho between them as long as spears, swords, axes or daggers will endure, but lay on each upon other, and when they be well beaten3 and that the one party hath obtained the victory, they then glorify so in their deeds of arms and are so joyful, that such as be taken they shall be ransomed or they go out of the field, so that shortly each of them is so content with other that their departing courteously they will say, 'God thank you'; but in fighting one with another there is no play nor sparing, and this is true, and that shall well appear by this said rencounter, for it was as valiantly foughten as could be devised, as ye shall hear.

Note 1. 'Which is called in the country Dalkeith.' The French has 'que on nomme au pays Dacquest,' of which the translator makes 'in the countrey of Alquest.'

Note 2. 'By both sides,' i. e., Scotch and English.

Note 3. 'When they have well fought.'

Late Medieval Books, The Chronicles of Froissart Book 3 Chapter 127

How the Earl James Douglas by His Valiantness Encouraged His Men, Who Were Reculed and in a Manner Discomfited, and in His So Doing He Was Wounded to Death

Battle of Otterburn. KNIGHTS and squires were of good courage on both parties to fight valiantly: cowards there had no place, but hardiness reigned with goodly feats of arms, for knights and squires were so joined together at hand strokes, that archers had no place of nother party. There the Scots shewed great hardiness and fought merrily with great desire of honour: the Englishmen were three to one: howbeit, I say not but Englishmen did nobly acquit themselves, for ever the Englishmen had rather been slain or taken in the place than to fly. Thus, as I have said, the banners of Douglas and Percy and their men were met each other, envious who should win the honour of that journey. At the beginning the Englishmen were so strong that they reculed back their enemies: then the earl Douglas, who was of great heart and high of enterprise, seeing his men recule back, then to recover the place and to shew knightly valour he took his axe in both his hands, and entered so into the press that he made himself way in such wise, that none durst approach near him, and he was so well armed that he bare well off such strokes as he received1. Thus he went ever forward like a hardy Hector, willing alone to conquer the field and to discomfit his enemies: but at last he was encountered with three spears all at once, the one strake him on the shoulder, the other on the breast and the stroke glinted down to his belly, and the third strake him in the thigh, and sore hurt with all three strokes, so that he was borne perforce to the earth and after that he could not be again relieved. Some of his knights and squires followed him, but not all, for it was night, and no light but by the shining of the moon. The Englishmen knew well they had borne one down to the earth, but they wist not who it was; for if they had known that it had been the earl Douglas, they had been thereof so joyful and so proud that the victory had been theirs. Nor also the Scots knew not of that adventure till the end of the battle; for if they had known it, they should have been so sore despaired and discouraged that they would have fled away. Thus as the earl Douglas was felled to the earth, he was stricken into the head with an axe, and another stroke through the thigh: the Englishmen passed forth and took no heed of him: they thought none otherwise but that they had slain a man of arms. On the other part the earl George de la March and of Dunbar fought right valiantly and gave the Englishmen much ado, and cried, 'Follow Douglas,' and set on the sons of Percy: also earl John of Moray with his banner and men fought valiantly and set fiercely on the Englishmen, and gave them so much to do that they wist not to whom to attend.

Note 1. 'No man was so well armed that he did not fear the great strokes which he gave.'