Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

The duke of Anjou reduces strongholds in the south

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

Book III, ch. 6 (Johnes, v. 2, pp. 81-4). We then rode gently, and he began his narration as follows: "At the first renewal of the war, the French conquered back again from the English all their possessions in Aquitaine, and sir Oliver de Clisson, having turned to the French interest, conducted the duke of Anjou as you know, into Brittany to the estates of sir Robert Knolles and to the siege of Derval; all which, I dare say, you have in your history, as well as the treaty made by sir Hugh Broc, cousin to sir Robert, to surrender the castle, for which he had given hostages, imagining the duke of Anjou to be in such strength that the siege could not be raised; and you probably relate how sir Robert Knolles, having entered the castle of Derval, refused to abide by this treaty."

"Truly, sir, I have heard all you have just related."

"And have you noticed the skirmish which took place before the castle, when sir Oliver de Clisson was wounded?"

"I cannot say" replied I, "that I have any remembrance of it. Tell me, then, what passed at this skirmish and at the siege; perhaps you may know more particulars than I do; and you can return afterwards to the history of Lourde and Malvoisin."

"That is true," said the knight: "I must tell you, however, that sir Garsis du Chatel, a very valiant knight of this country and a
good Frenchman, had gone to seek the duke, to conduct him before Malvoisin, when the duke had issued his summons to
march to Derval:  He made sir Garsis marshal of his army for his valour.

It is a truth, as I was informed afterwards, that when sir Garsis found sir Robert determined not to keep the treaty, and the castle of Derval not likely to surrender, he came to the duke and asked, 'My lord, what shall we do with these hostages? It is no fault nor crime in them if the castle be not surrendered; and it will be a great sin if you put them to deaths, for they are gentlemen undeserving such punishment.'

"The duke replied, 'Is it right, then, that they should have their liberty?'

" 'Yes, by my faith,' said the knight, who had such compassion for them.

" 'Go,' replied the duke, and do with them what you please.'

"At these words, as sir Garsis told me, he went to deliver them, but in his road met sir Oliver de Clisson, who asked him whence he came, and whither he was going. ' I come from my lord of Anjou, and am going to set at liberty the hostages.'

" 'To set them at liberty?' said sir Oliver: stop a little, and come with me to the duke.' On his return, he
found the duke very pensive. Sir Oliver saluted him, and then said, ' My lord, what are your intentions? shall not these hostages
be put to death ? By my faith shall they, in spite of sir Robert Knolles and sir Hugh Broc, who have belied their faith: and I would have you know, if they do not suffer deaths, I will not, for a year to come, put on a helmet to serve you; they will come off too cheaply, if they be thus acquitted. This siege has cost you sixty thousand francs, and you wish to pardon your enemies who keep no faith with you.'

"At these words, the duke of Anjou grew wroth, and said, 'Sir Oliver, do with them as you wish.'

" 'I will, them, that they die; for there is cause for it, since they keep not their faiths.' He then left the duke and went to his square before the castle; but sir Garsis never dared to say one word in their favour, for it would have been lost labour, since sir Oliver was determined upon it. He called to him Jocelin, who was the headsman, and ordered him to behead two knights and two squires, which caused such grief that upwards of two hundred of the army wept.

"Sir Robert Knolles instantly opened a postern-gate of the castle, and had, in revenge, all his prisoners beheaded, without
sparing one. The great gate was then opened, and the drawbridge let down, when the garrison made a sally beyond the barriers
to skirmish with the French, which, according to sir Garsis, was a severe business: the first arrow wounded sir Oliver de
Clisson, who retired to his quarters. Among the wounded were two squires from Béarn, who behaved themselves well: their
names were Bertrand de Barege and Ernauton du Pin..

"On the morrow they decamped. The duke marched with his men at arms from Derval to Toulouse, and from thence to this country, with intent to destroy Lourde, for the Toulousains made great complaints of it. What happened there I will tell you. The duke lost no time in marching his army to the castle of Malvoisin, which we see before us, and laying siege to it. He had in his army full eight thousand combatants, without reckoning the Genoese and the commonalty from the principal towns in
that country.

"A Gascon squire and able man at arms, named Raymonet de l'Epée, was at that time governor of Malvoisin. There were daily
skirmishes at the barriers, where many gallant feats were done by those who wished to advance themselves. The duke and his
army were encamped in these handsome meadows between the town of Tournay and the castle, on the banks of the Lisse.

"During this siege, sir Garsis du Châtel, who was marshal of the army, marched with five hundred men at arms, two hundred
archers and cross-bows, and full two thousand common men, to lay siege to the castle of Trigalet, which we have left behind us.
A squire of Gascony had the command of it, for his cousin the lord de la Barde, and was called the Bastot de Mauléon: he had
about forty companions with him, who were lords of Lane-bourg; for no one could march through these parts except a pilgrim
to the shrine of St. Jago, without being made a prisoner, and, if not ransomed, put to death. There was another strong place,
near to le Mesen, of which thieves and robbers from all countries made a garrison, called le Nemilleux: it is very strong, but
always in dispute between the count d'Armagnac and the count de Foix; and for this reason the nobles paid not any attention to
it when the duke of Anjou came into the country.

"Sir Garsis, on arriving at Trigalet, had it surrounded on all sides but that towards the river, which they could not approach, and a sharp attack commenced, in which many of each party were wounded. Sir Garsis was five days there, and on every one of them were skirmishes; insomuch that the garrison had expended all their ammunition, and had nothing left to shoot with, which was soon perceived by the French. Upon this, sir Garsis, out of true gallantry, sent a passport to the governor to come and speak with him. When he saw him, he said, 'Bastot, I well know your situation; that your garrison have no ammunition, nor anything but lances to defend themselves with when attacked. Now, if you be taken by storm, it will be impossible for me to save yours or your companions' lives, from the fury of the common people, for which I should be very sorry, as you are my cousin. I therefore advise you to surrender the place, and even entreat you so to do: you cannot be blamed by any one for it, and seeking fortune elsewhere, for you have held out long enough.'

"'My lord,' replied the squire, 'anywhere but here I would freely do what you advise, for in truth I am your cousin: in this
instance, I cannot act from myself, for those who are with me have an equal command, though they affect to consider me as
their captain. I will return, and tell them what you have said: if they agree to surrender, I shall consent; if they be resolved to hold
out, whatever may be my fate, I must, with them, abide the event.'

"'This is well said,' answered sir Garsis: 'you may depart whenever you please, since I know your intention.'

"The Bastot de Mauléon returned to the castle, and assembled all his companions in the court-yard, to whom he related what sir
Garsis had said, and then demanded their opinions, and what they would do. They debated for a long time: some said they were
strong enough to wait the event: others wished to withdraw, saying it was full time for it, as they had no longer any ammunition,
and the duke of Anjou was severe, and the whole country of Toulouse and Carcassone enraged against them for the mischiefs
they had done.

"Everything having been considered, they agreed to surrender the castle, but on condition they should be escorted, themselves and baggage, to chateau Cullie, which their friends were in possession of, on the Toulousain frontier.  Upon this, Bastot de Mauléon returned to sir Garsis who granted their demand; for he saw the castle was not easy to win by storm, and it would probably have cost him many lives. They made their preparations to depart, packing up everything they could. Of pillage they had enough, and carried away the best part of it, leaving the rest behind them. Sir Garsis had them safely escorted as far as chateau Cullie. By this means did the French gain the castle of Trigalet, which sir Garsis gave to the commonalty of the country who had accompanied him, to do with it what they chose. They determined to destroy and raze it, in the manner you have seen, which was so completely done, that no one since has ever thought of rebuilding it.

"Sir Garsis would have marched from thence to castle Nautilleux, which is situated on the moors near the castle of Lamen,
to free it from those companions who had possession of it; but on the road they told himó'My lord, you have no need to
advance further, for you will not find any one in castle Nautilleux : those who were there are fled, some one way, some another,
we know not whither.'

"Sir Garsis, on hearing this, halted in the plain to consider what was best to be done. The seneschal de Nobesen happened to be present, who said, 'Sir, this castle is within my jurisdiction, and should be held from the count de Foix give it me, I beg of you, and I will have it so well guarded at my costs, that no person who wishes ill to the country shall ever
enter it.'

"'My lord,' added those from Toulouse who were by, 'he speaks well: the seneschal is a valiant and prudent man, and it
is better he should have it than another.'

"'I consent to it,' said sir Garsis. Thus was the castle of Nantilleux given to the seneschal de Nobesen, who rode thither, and, having found it empty, had repaired what had been destroyed. He appointed governor a squire of the country named Fortifie de St. Pol, and then returned to the siege of Malvoisin where the duke was. Sir Garsis and his men had already related to the duke their successful exploits.

"The castle of Malvoisin held out about six weeks; there were, daily, skirmishes between the two armies at the barriers, and the place would have made a longer resistance, for the castle was so strong it could have held a long siege; but, the well that supplied the castle with water being without the walls, they cut off the communication: the weather was very hot, and the cisterns within quite dry, for it had not rained one drop for six weeks; and the besiegers were at their ease on the banks of this clear and fine river, which they made use of for themselves and horses.

"The garrisons of Malvoisin were alarmed at their situation, for they could not hold out longer: they had a sufficiency of
wine, but not one drop of sweet water. They determined to open a treaty; and Raymonet de l'Epée requested a passport to
wait on the duke, which having easily obtained, he said, 'My lord, if you will act courteously to me and my companions, I will
surrender the castle of Malvoisin.'

"'What courtesy is it you ask?' replied the duke of Anjou: 'get about your business, each of you to your own countries, without entering any fort that holds out against us; for if you do so, and I get hold of you, I will deliver you up to Jocelin, who will shave you without a razor.'

"'My lord,' answered Raymonet, if we thus depart, we must carry away what belongs to us, and what we have gained by arms and with great risks.'

"The duke paused a while, and then said, 'I  consent that you take with you whatever you can carry before you in trunks and on sumpter-horses, but not otherwise; and, if you have any prisoners, they must be given up to us.'

"'I agree,' said Raymonet. Such was the treaty, as you hear me relate it; and all who were in the castle departed, after surrendering it to the duke of Anjou and carrying all they could with them. They returned to their own country, or elsewhere, in search of adventures: but Raymonet l'Epée turned to the French: he served the duke of Anjou a long time, passed into Italy with him, and was killed in a skirmish before the city of Naples.

"Thus, my fair sir, did the duke of Anjou at that time conduct himself, and win the castle of Malvoisin, which gave him great joy.
He made governor of it a knight of Bigorre, called sir Ciquart de Luperiere, and afterwards gave it to the count de Foix, who
still holds it, and will do so as long as he lives; for it is well guarded by a knight of Bigorre, a relation of his, called sir Raymond
de Lane.

"The duke of Anjou having gained possession of Malvoisin, and freed the country, and all Lane-bourg, of the English
and other pillagers, laid siege to the town and castle of Lourde. The count de Foix, seeing him so near his territories, began to
be very doubtful what his intentions might be. He therefore issued his summons to his knights and squires, and sent them into
different garrisons. He placed his brother, sir Arnaut William, with two hundred lances, in Morlens; his other brother, sir Peter
de Béarn, with the same number of lances, in Pan; sir Peter de Cabesten, with the like number, in the city of l'Estrade; sir
Mouvant de Novalles in the town of Hertillet, with one hundred lances; sir Crual Geberel in Montgerbiel with the like number;
sir Fouquat d'Orterey in the town of Sauveterre with the same; and I, Espaign du Lyon, was sent to Mont-de-marsen with
two hundred lances. There was not a castle in all Béarn that was not well provided with men at arms: he himself remained to guard his florins in the castle of Orthez."

The tales of Espaign du Lyon continue.

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