Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

Sir Walter de Passac recovers St. Forget

The new French commander energetically attacks the pillagers in the Toulousain.

Book III, ch. 19.  ...For these and such like causes was sir Walter de Passac sent into Languedoc, with full powers over all the troops in that district, and to free the country from these pillagers and robbers. Having sent letters to sir Roger d'Espaign and sir Hugh de Froideville, and other leaders, they came to serve under him within all their men. Sir Roger brought sixty lances and one hundred men with shields; and the séneschal of Rouergue, with sir Hugh de Froideville, joined him with as many, if not more. When they were all assembled, they amounted to four hundred spears, and upwards of one thousand armed with shields, including lusty varlets. The son of the lord d'Esterach was there, with a handsome company; and also the lord de Barbasan, sir Benedict de Faignolles, and William Conderom, a Breton, with his rout.

They marched from Toulouse straight to St. Forget, where they halted. It was then commanded by a Béarnois, called le bourg de Taillesac, a grand marauder. When these lords had drawn up their troops, the attack commenced, and the crossbowmen shot so briskly, scarcely any of the garrison dared show themselves in its defence for fear of the arrows; but the French did not gain it at this first assault. In the evening they retired to repose and refresh themselves, as they had brought plenty of everything with them.

On the morrow, the trumpets sounded for a renewal of the attacks when the lords, with their men, gallantly marched to the foot of the ditches. Whoever had seen them thus advancing, their heads covered with shields, with their lances measuring the depth of the water in the ditches, would have had much pleasure.

When the first ranks had passed through, the others did not delay following, or they would have been greatly blamed for remaining behind. This second party carried pick-axes and iron crows to batter the walls; and, in so doing they fastened their shields on their heads to ward off the stones and other things that were thrown at them from the battlements: but they suffered little from this, as the cross-bows posted on the banks by their alertness in shooting prevented many from appearing. They shot so well, as hardly ever to miss what they aimed at; and several on the walls were mortally struck on their heads by the small bolts, which, caused many in the garrison to dread their blows. The attack was so long and successfully continued that a large breach was made in the wall. This alarmed those within, who offered to surrender on having their lives spared; but they were not listened to, and fell into such good hands that every one was put to death, for sir Walter had ordered no quarter to be given.

Thus did the barons and knights of France regain the castle of St. Forget, which sir Walter gave up to its proper owner, who had lost it last year from neglect of well guarding it, as several other castles in France had been formerly lost in like manner. When the knight was repossessed of his castle, he had it repaired where wanted; for the French had done much damage by their attack.

The story continues.

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