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with a much larger, in which the part which he could bear must necessarily seem subordinate. Gutierre Diez de Games, who accompanied him in the expedition as his alferez or standard-bearer, wrote the history of his master; and this chronicle is one of the most curious books of its kind.*
They were received with great honours at Rochelle, where the constable, Charles d'Albret, came to meet and confer with him. As Martin Ruiz did not arrive, it was determined that the galleys should try their fortune in the Gironde ; and thither they accordingly went, with two shallops in company, having French archers and arbalisters on board. They failed in taking any of the English or Gascon vessels in the river: but they carried off cattle and prisoners, set fire to the standing corn, burnt some hundred and fifty houses within sight of Bourdeaux; and having plundered all on which they could lay hands, and committed all the devastation they could, they were lucky enough to return to Rochelle without falling in with an English fleet. It was considered a great exploit to have ventured where no enemy's galleys had ever ventured before them, and to have laid waste the best peopled and best defended part of Gascony. While they were lying at Rochelle, a French knight arrived there with two galleys, which, at his own cost, he had built and fitted out at Marseilles. He was of the king's household, noble, rich, and adventurous; but for some of those affairs, the chronicler says, which may happen to great persons, he had found it necessary to leave the court. This person, whom Gutierre Diez calls Mosen Charles de Sabasil, was the Sieur de Seignelai, Charles de Savoisy, who had been brought up with Charles VI., and held the office of first chamberlain and chief cupbearer. He had presumed too much upon his rank: a king's officer having entered his apartment to arrest one of his servants, who was charged with robbery and murder, he had maltreated the officer,
Cronica del Conde D. Pero Niño, part ii. c. 16, 17. + Ib. c. 20.
and thus brought upon himself a serious process, from which he was relieved by obtaining letters of remission, and undergoing the disgrace of being forbidden to leave Paris for two days. A year or two afterwards, his grooms, as they were going to water their horses at the Seine, fell in with some scholars of the university, who were walking in procession to St. Catherine du Val des Escoliers. The grooms, with that insolence which the retainers of the great frequently displayed, rode against the scholars, and hurt some of them; and the scholars, not being of an age or temper to endure the outrage patiently, attacked them with stones, and knocked some of them off their horses. The aggressors upon this hastened back to the Hôtel de Savoisy, returned armed with bows and arrows; and, with some of their fellow-servants to assist them, fell upon the scholars, and wounded some of them, even in the church. A great uproar ensued which ended in the scholars overpowering them by numbers, and driving them back, soundly beaten, and some of them severely hurt. But the university immediately, by their rector, appealed to the king, and required instant reparation, declaring, that if it were refused they would quit Paris, and fix themselves somewhere where they might be safe. This affray was far more serious in its consequences to the Sieur de Savoisy than the former outrage had been: he had probably abetted his people in this also; and the influence of the university was such, that he was banished from the king's household, and from those of the princes of the blood, and deprived of all his offices; he was condemned to found two chapelries of 100 livres each, which were to be in the university's gift, and his hotel was rased to the ground.* Upon this he took to the seas, not as it appears for the sake of plunder, but for the love of enterprise; and being enamoured of some lady of high rank, he bestowed upon his ships such profuse expenses as other knights lavished upon their armour and other equipments. His galleys were said to be more beautifully finished than any others of
* Monstrelet, c. 13. Moreri.
that age, and their flags to have cost more than in ordinary cases would have been deemed sufficient for fitting them entirely out. This adventurer proposed to join company with Pero Niño, and try their fortune upon the English coast. They were known to each other by reputation: it was agreed that the Spaniard was to take the command, and that before they crossed the Channel they should keep along the coast of Bretagne, in expectation of there finding the Spanish fleet.
They passed Belle Isle, where, according to the historian of this expedition, the inhabitants lived without any preparations or means of defence against any invaders, trusting to the protection of the church, the pope having pronounced sentence of excommunication against all who should offer them any wrong; which protection, however, it is intimated, was not always sufficient.* At Brest they found Martin Ruiz and his fleet, as they had expected; but neither he nor those who were under his command chose to concur in Pero Niño's projects: they had brought merchandise with them, and were wholly bent upon such profit as might be made in their own way. And here, the author says, it is to be observed, that when the king sent forth a fleet, it generally happened, since he had ceased to send his own captains with it, nothing but profit was cared for.
If it was despatched to the assistance of an ally, the commanders received pay from both sides, took care to station themselves where the enemy could not come, and plundered the country of their friends, upon the pretext that they were in want of provisions. And when they fell in with merchant ships of their own country, they took from them whatever they liked, telling them that the king's servants must not starve, and bidding them apply to him for payment. Thus they plundered their countrymen instead of the enemy, and, for the sake of enriching themselves, brought an ill report upon their country; and this was the consequence of employing men who were moved by the lucre of gain, and not by
* Non traen armas, nin se defienden aunque les fagan mal.
the hope of obtaining honour for themselves and their king.
The author who thus describes the manner in which the Spanish naval service was at that time conducted, had formed no favourable opinion of the English nation. They were a people, he says, very unlike all other nations; which he accounted for by the nature of the tribes from whom they sprung, and by that of their country, which abounded with food, and was rich in metals; by their numbers, the land being exceeding populous, as well as of great extent; and by their maritime situation, by reason whereof they feared no other nation; neither did they love peace, or ever desire to be at peace, for in times of peace it went ill with them at home: they were too many for the land, and all could not be maintained then; wherefore, when at any time they made peace, and the king gave his safe conduct to foreign merchants, it was very seldom regarded. And it was because king Richard had concluded a perpetual peace with France, he says, that his subjects had deposed him, and put him somewhere, where he never afterwards appeared, alive or dead. † When, however, in their attempt at crossing the Channel, the galleys met with bad weather, and after great danger put back to the French coast, some of the adventurers observed, that God favoured that vile people the English; though they comforted themselves with thinking that it was because of their own sins, and that though they were sinners the English were worse, and, therefore, better success might be hoped for. +
The weather became favourable; they made the coast of Cornwall, captured some fishing boats, obtained from the fishermen such information as they wanted, and proceeded to attack an unfortified town, which the writer calls Chita, and describes as built on the side of a hill,
Cronica del Conde D. Pero Niño, part ii. c. 22. The editor observes, in his preface to the only edition of this work that has ever appeared, that it contains a much fuller and clearer account of the Spanish marine in those times than is to be found in all the chronicles of the kings.
+ Ib. c. 18, 19.
+ Ib. c. 22.
A CORNISH TOWN PLUNDERED AND BURNT. 25
with all its streets leading to the water: the place contained about 300 houses, and was very rich, being inhabited wholly by merchants and fishermen. The entrance of the port was difficult; for the tide retired with such force that the galleys would neither answer to the oars nor rudder, till it had carried them in about the distance of a crossbow-shot, when they found themselves in a port which was safe in all winds. Here they landed, slew or captured many of the inhabitants, who made a brave resistance, plundered and burnt the place, took two ships, and sent these with their lading and the spoils to Harfleur. No time was lost in this work of destruction; and it was well for the assailants that they made such speed, as they themselves acknowledged, when they saw in what numbers the country people came to assist their neighbours, and with what spirit they attacked the galleys with stones and arrows from both sides of the mouth of the harbour as they went out.*
They proceeded to Falmouth, where a good body of men at arms and archers were in readiness to oppose a landing. Pero Niño proposed to land, because he saw it seemed good fighting ground, and, moreover, it was necessary to land because they wanted water; but Mosen Charles (as the Spaniard calls the French commander) was of opinion, that, considering the disparity of their own numbers, with those whom they saw drawn up to resist them, the attempt ought not to be hazarded. A mistake on the part of the French, that this was the place where the sieur du Chastel† had been defeated and slain, had its effect in deterring them this day; and warm words ensued between the captain and Pero Niño: but when the latter had given up his intended enterprise, the mutual regard which they entertained for each
* Cronica del Conde D. Pero Niño, part ii. c. 23.
+ Gutierre Diez interrupts his own narration here to give an account of this knight, Mosen Guillen del Castel he calls him, and of his exploits and death: porque de tan valiente è tan fuerte caballero como el fue en este mundo, razon es de facer grand mencion en las historias de los nobles Caballeros quando á caso vinieren (p. 99.). He makes no mention of the part which the Devonshire women had in his defeat.