Tales from Froissart
edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University
The Siege of Oudenarde
After the men of Ghent take Bruges, almost all the cities of Flanders surrender to them, save Oudenarde. Philip von Artaveld besieges Oudenarde with a very large force.
Book II, ch. 101. Philip, by whose orders every thing was done, lived in great state before Oudenarde. During this time, he laid a tax throughout Flanders of four groats on every fire, which were to be paid weekly, by all persons indiscriminately. Philip gained large sums by this tax, for no on e was exempted. He had his sergeants in all parts of the country, who made both rich and poor pay it, whether they would or not.
It was said there were upwards of a hundred thousand men at this siege of Oudenarde. The Flemings drove into the river Scheld large stakes, so that no vessels could come from Tournay to Oudenarde, whilst they had in their army plenty of every thing necessary. They had halls of cloth, furs and merceries: every Saturday was the market, to which were brought from the adjacent villages all sorts of groceries, fruits, butter, milk, cheese, poultry and other things. In their army there were taverns as plenty as at Brussels, where Rhenish wines, and those of France, Galrigaches, Malmseys and other foreign wines were sold cheap. Every one might go thither, and pass and repass, without peril; that is to say, those of Brabant, Hainault, Germany and of Liege, but not those of France.
When sir Daniel de Haluyn entered Oudenarde, he laid in all his preparations of stores and provisions which were equally divided among the garrison, each according to a fixed ration. All the horses were sent away, and the houses near the walls pulled down, and covered with earth, to guard against the cannon, of which the enemy had abundance. The women and children who remained (for many were sent away) were lodged in the churches and monasteries. No dog was left in town, but all were killed and thrown into the river.
The garrison made many gallant sallies, both mornings and evenings, doing great execution to the army. There were among others two squires from Artois, brothers, called Lambert and Tristan de Lambres, who frequently performed very gallant deeds of arms, bringing back with them provisions from the enemy, whether they would or not, and even prisoners.
Thus they remained the whole summer. It was the intention of Philip and his council to continue until they should starve them out; for it would cost them too many men were they to attempt to carry it by storm. They with much labour placed on the hill of Oudenarde a prodigiously great engine, twenty feet wide and forty long, which they called a Mutton, to cast heavy stones and beams of timber into the town, and crush every thing they should fall on. They had also, the more to alarm the garrison, fired a bombard of a very great size, which was fifty feet in length, and shot stones of an immense weight. When they fired off this bombard, it might be heard five leagues off in the day-time, and ten at night. The report of it was so loud, that it seemed as if all the devils in hell had broken loose.
The Ghent men made likewise another engine, which they pointed against the town, to cast large bars of hot copper. With such machines, as cannons, bombards, sows and muttons, did the Ghent army labour to annoy the garrison of Oudenarde. They, however, comforted each other as well as they could, and defended themselves against these attacks. They made sallies three or four times a week, in which they gained more honour than disgrace, and also more profit than loss.