Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

How the Count of Foix forced the pass called la Garde.

Sir Espaign du Lyon continues to tell stories to Froissart as they travel to Foix.

Book III, ch. 5 (Johnes, v. 2, pp. 79-80). ...With such conversation did we daily travel, travelling towards the source of the river Garonne, on each side of which were handsome castles and forts. All on the left hand belonged to the count de Foix, and on the other to the count d'Armagnac. We passed Montpesac, a fine strong castle, seated on the top of a rock, below which is the road and the town. On the outside of it, at the distance of a cross-bow, there is a pass called la Garde, with a tower between the rock and the river, and an iron gate: six men could defend this pass against all the world, for only two persons abreast can advance between the rock and river.

Upon seeing this, I said to the knight, "Sir, this is a strong pass, and a difficult country."

"It is, indeed," answered the knight; "but, strong as it is, the count de Foix and. his men once forced it, and advanced to Palaminich, Montesquieu, and even to Pamiers. The pass was very strong, but the English archers greatly assisted him in this conquest. Come and ride by my side, and I will tell you all about it." I then rode by the side of sir Espaign du Lyon, who thus continued his narration:  "The count d'Armagnac and the lord d'Albreth invaded the country of Foix, with upwards of five hundred men, and advanced into those parts near Pamiers. It was in the beginning of August, when the corn was harvesting and the grapes ripe: in that year there was great abundance of both. Sir John d'Armagnac and his people were encamped before the town and castle of Sauredun, a short league distant from Pamiers. They made an attack on it, and sent word to Pamiers, that if they did not pay a composition for their corn and wines, they would burn and destroy all.

Those of Pamiers were afraid of waiting the event, as their lord was at too great a distance, being then in Béarn, so that they thought it more prudent to pay the ransom, which was settled at five thousand francs; but they demanded a delay of fifteen days, which was granted to them.

The count de Foix heard of all this, and, by great haste and sending to all parts for aid, he got into Pamiers through this difficult pass. Assistance came to him from several quarters, so that he found himself at the head of twelve hundred lances: he would have given battle, without fail, to sir John d'Armagnac, if he had waited for it; but they retreated into the country of Comminges, leaving behind the money from Pamiers, as they had no time to stay for it.

The count de Foix, however, did not hold them quit, but claimed the ransom, as he said he had deserved it; for he had come to their assistance, and to drive his enemies out of the country. He paid with it his men at arms, and remained there until the good people had harvested their corn, finished their vintage, and put all their effects in safety."

"By my faith," said I to the knight, "I have heard you with pleasure."

Thus discoursing, we passed near a castle called la Bretite, and then another castle called Bacelles, all in the county of Comminges.

As I rode on, I saw on the other side of the river a very handsome and large castle, with a town of goodly appearance. I
asked the knight the name of this castle. He told me it was called Montesplain, and belonged to a cousin of the count de Foix,
who bears the cows in his arms, named sir Roger d'Espaign. He is a great baron and hand proprietor in this country and in the
Toulousain, and at this moment is seneschal of Carcassone.

Upon which I asked, "What relation was this sir Roger d'Espaign to sir Charles d'Espaign, constable of France "

"He is not of that family," replied the knight; "for sir Lewis and sir Charles d'Espaign, of whom you are speaking, came originally from Spain, and were of Spanish extraction; but by their mothers are of French also, and cousins-german to king Alfonso of Spain. I served in my youth under sir Lewis d'Espaign, in the wars of Brittany: for he was always of the side of St. Charles de Blois against the count de Montfort." Here ended our conversation on this subject.

We came that day to St. Gouffors, a good town belonging to the count de Foix, and on the morrow to dinner at Moncuil, a strong town also, which belongs to the king of France and is held by sir Roger d'Espaign. After dinner, we mounted and took the road towards Lourde and Malvoisin, and rode over heaths that extend fifteen leagues: they are called Lane-bourg, and are well calculated for those who are evil-inclined. Amid the heaths of Lane-bourg is situated the castle de la Mesere, belonging to the count de Foix, a good league above the town of Tournay and below Malvoisin, which castle the knight showed me, saying,-"See, yonder is Malvoisin: have you not inserted in your history (of which you have been speaking to me) how the duke of Anjou, when he was in this country, advanced to Lourde, besieged and conquered it, as well as the castle of Trigalet on the river before us, and which belongs to the lord de la Barde?"

I considered a little, and replied; "I believe I have not mentioned it, nor have I ever been informed of such an event. I therefore pray you relate the business, to which I shall attentively listen; but tell me, lest I forget it, what is become of the river Garonne? for I can no longer see it."

"You say truly," answered the knight: "it loses itself between these two mountains. It rises from a spring three leagues off, on the road to Catalonia, below a castle called St. Béart, the last castle of France on the frontiers of Arragon. The governor of it and the surrounding country at this time is a squire named Ernauton, who is called the Bastard of Spain, and cousin-german to sir Roger d'Espaign. The moment you see him you will say, he is formed for a downright man at arms. This bastard of Spain has done more mischief to the garrison of Lourde than all the knights and squires of this country together; and I must say, the count de Foix loves him well, for he is his brother in arms. I will not say more of him, for, at the ensuing Christmas, you will see him yourself at the hotel of the count; but I will tell you what the duke of Anjou did when he was in this country."

The tales of Espaign du Lyon continue.

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