Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

How Espaignolet took Ermaille twice

English successes in the Toulousain provoke the king of France to take action.

Book III, ch. 19.  At this period there was in the Toulousain a valiant knight from France, called sir Walter de Passac: he was an expert captain and excellent man at arms, and born in Berry, on the borders of Limousin.  Before his arrival, sir Hugh de Froideville, séneschal of Toulouse, and sir Roger d'Espaign, séneschal of Carcassonne, had written to the king and council of the state of Toulouse and Rabastens ; that several gallant companions from the garrisons of Lourde and châtel Cuillet had made war successfully for the English; and having possession of Saint Forget, la Bassere, le Mesnil, Pomperon, Convalle, Rochefort, Jullians, Navarêt, and some other forts, they had surrounded the good city of Toulouse, so that the inhabitants could not quit it, nor the farmers labour their vineyards or gardens but with great risk, for there was neither truce nor any composition entered into between them.

They were commanded by an able man from Biscay, called Espaignolet, who performed wonders and took by scalado the castle of Ermaille, whilst its master, sir Raymond, was absent at Toulouse, and kept possession for upwards of one year. During this time, he dug a mine that, after passing under the apartments, opened to the fields, which, when finished, was so well covered, that no one would imagine there was a subterraneous passage under the castle. When about this, the lord of Ermaille was treating with Espaignolet respecting the sum for which he would surrender to him his castle; and, on the mine being completed, he yielded the castle to sir Raymond for two thousand francs, who, having again possession, had it repaired and strengthened. Not fifteen days passed before Espaignolet advanced with his men to the mouth of this mine, which they entered about midnight, gained the castle, and took the knight in his bed, whom he again ransomed for two thousand francs, and then allowed him to depart; but Espaignolet kept possession of the castle, which he strongly garrisoned, and much harassed the country from thence with others of his companions.

The story continues.

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