Tales from Froissart
edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University
The Death of the Lord d'Anghien
As the wars between the earl of Flanders and the city of Ghent continue, the earl summons his knights and squires and the people of the principal towns to besiege Ghent.
Book II, ch. 81. The earl advanced to invest Ghent, on the side towards Bruges and Hainault. During the time it lasted, there were many skirmishes; and the Ghent men made frequent sallies in search of adventures, in which sometimes they were repulsed, at others they conquered. But the person who gained the greatest renown was the young lord d'Anghien: all the young knights desirous of glory cheerfully followed his banners.
The lord d'Anghien marched with full four thousand men, well mounted, without counting those on foot, to besiege Grammont, which was attached to Ghent: he had before harassed them much, but could not win it. This time, however, he came in greater forces, and , on a Sunday, had it stormed at upwards of forty places: he did not spare himself, but was one of the most active, and the first who placed his banner on the walls. This attack was so sharp and well fought that, about four in the afternoon, the town was taken, and the troops of the lord d'Anghien entered it through the gates, which had been destroyed.
When the inhabitants saw their town was lost without hope of recovery, all that could escape did so through those gates where there were no enemies; but few were so fortunate. The slaughter was very great of men, women, and children, for to none was shown mercy. There were upwards of five hundred of the inhabitants killed, and numbers of old people and women burnt in their beds, which was much to be lamented. The town was set on fire at more than two hundred places, which reduced the whole to ashes, churches and all: nothing remained entire.
Thus did Grammont suffer by fire and flame; and the lord d'Anghien, after this exploit, returned to the army before Ghent. The earl of Flanders was much pleased when he heard it, and said, "Fair son, you are a valiant man, and , if it please God, will be a gallant knight, for you have made a handsome commencement."
During this destruction of Grammont, which happened on a Sunday in the month of June, the siege of Ghent still continued. The lord d'Anghien, whose name was Walter, was there, but never rested long in his quarters: he was every day out in search of adventures, at times well accompanied, at others so thinly that he was unable to prosecute his plans. Some adventures, however, daily befell him or the Haze of Flanders.
One Thursday morning the lord d'Anghien left his quarters, in company with the lord de Montigny, sir Michael de la Hameide his cousin, his brother the bastard d'Anghien, Julien de Toisson, Hutin Donay, and several more of his household, in order to skirmish before Ghent as they had formerly done: they this time advanced so far that they suffered for it. For those of Ghent had placed in ambuscade more than two hundred men beyond the walls of the town. They were armed with long pikes. Some said, this ambuscade was formed of the greater part of those who had fled from Grammont, inn hope of surrounding and making prisoner the lord d'Anghien, in revenge for the mischief he had done them. They knew him to be young, courageous, and apt to venture himself foolishly, which gave them hopes of the success they had.
It was unfortunate for him, as well as for those who accompanied him. The lord d'Anghien and his company were quite off their guard when they found themselves surrounded by the Ghent men, who advanced boldly up, crying out, "Surrender, or you are all dead men:" The lord d'Anghien, perceiving his situation, asked advice form the lord de Montigny, who was beside him: he replied, -- "Sir, it is too late: let us defend ourselves, and sell our lives as dearly as we can: there is nothing else to do, and we have not a moment for delay."
The knights then made the sign of the cross, and recommending themselves to God and St. George, dashed among their enemies; for they could noways retreat, being in the midst of their ambuscade. They behaved very gallantly, and did every thing that could be done in arms; but they were out-numbered by their opponents, who, having long pikes, gave such strokes as were but too mortal, as the event showed.
The lord d'Anghien was slain; as were the bastard d'Anghien his brother, and Julien de Toisson by his side. Other valiant knights from Hainault, such as the lords de Montigny and de St. Christopher, suffered similar fates. Sir Michael de la Hameide was severely wounded, and would certainly have lost his life, if Hutin Donay had not saved him by dint of arms and prudence: he had great difficulty in doing it. While the Flemings were employed in pillaging and disarming these knights, to convey them into Ghent, where it was known that they had slain the lord d'Anghien, which gave them great joy, Hutin Donay, seeing no hopes of succour, carried sir Michael de la Hameide out of the crowd and danger.
Such was the end of this unfortunate day to the lord d'Anghien. You may well suppose that the earl of Flanders was much grieved at it: indeed, he showed it plainly; for, out of his affection to him, he raised the siege of Ghent. The earl could not forget him, but regretted his loss; saying, -- "Ah, Walter, Walter, my fair son, how unfortunate hast thou been, to be thus cut off in thy youth. I wish every one to know, that the Ghent men shall never have peace with me until I have greatly revenged myself."
Things remained in this situation, when he sent to demand the body of the lord d'Anghien, which they had carried into Ghent to please the town; but they refused to deliver it up until they should be paid a thousand francs in hard cash. They divided this booty between them, when the body was conveyed to the army, and from thence to Anghien, of which town he was the lord.