Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

rest were made prisoners; and because the Flemings had put to death an English knight, who fell into the hands of the Picards in this affair, half those prisoners were put to death before the gates in sight of the duke's army. The success was so complete that they carried away all the ordnance and other artillery; and the consequences were more important than the victors themselves could have thought possible ; for mutinous assemblies were immediately held in the camp ; absurd charges of treason were mingled with well-founded accusations of neglect or carelessness against their leaders ; ferocious opinions were advanced, that certain of the duke's counsellors should be put to death ; and a general resolution was declared that they would decamp at once, and return home without delay. No sooner was the duke aware of these movements than he repaired to the head-quarters of the Ghent army, and there convened a large body of these ungovernable subjects, and reminded them of the answer which, with their accord, he had returned to duke Humphrey's challenge, and of the resolution which that very morning they had taken to give the English battle whenever they should arrive, as it was certain that they soon must; and he entreated them not to decamp at such a time, as if they feared the enemy, for to do this would be indelibly to disgrace themselves, and to bring upon him such shame as never prince before him had incurred.

He knew their temper too well to employ any other language than that of entreaty; but even entreaties were vain; and any appeal to their sense of honour, and to their courage, was lost upon men who sought by their boldness in mutiny to conceal from others the fear which they really felt, and perhaps to disguise it from themselves. Some of the captains answered respectfully for their men, and endeavoured to excuse their conduct; but the men 6 little thanked them for this ;” and, turning a deaf ear to all that the duke could urge, obstinately persisted in their purpose.

" It need not,” says Monstrelet, o be asked whether he was grieved at

RETREAT OF THE FLEMISH ARMY.

77

heart, for hitherto he had succeeded in all his undertakings to his heart's desire, and now in this, which was the greatest of all his enterprises, he saw that he must fail.” Even his repeated requests that they would wait for a few days only were of no avail: any day they thought might bring the English fleet in sight; and the duke was not more solicitous to tarry for its arrival than they were to be at safe distance when it should arrive. Convinced, too surely, at last, that all farther persuasions would be ineffectual, he asked them only, to remain till the morrow, that they might pack up their baggage and retreat in good order, for the sake of their own safety; and that they might not be harassed by the enemy,

he said that he would escort them as far as the river of Gravelines. With this they complied, though the greater number said they were in sufficient force not to need any escort. By way of employing the interval, some of the ringleaders intended to go to the duke's quarters, and there murder some of his counsellors, for having advised him to an enterprise which, in the manner they carried it on, never possibly could have been achieved. The persons whose lives were thus threatened heard of their danger in time; and, leaving the army unobserved while they could, made their

way with some few attendants to Jean de Croy's detachment, which was before Guisnes. made this disorderly host more clamorous, and more eager to hasten from a position where they thought that if the enemy found them they should be exposed to certain destruction, either by the treachery or the incapacity of the duke's counsellors. The men of Ghent, who were the principals in this mutiny, began to strike their tents and load their baggage, and the rest of the army were not slow in following the example: the men of Bruges alone were displeased at the disgraceful determination which had been taken; and, though compelled to pursue the same course with their unworthy comrades, prepared for the retreat with less precipitation, and were resolved to leave behind them no

Their escape

memorials of their own misconduct : the other Flemings abandoned their artillery and engines *, but the men of Bruges put theirs on carriages, and, for lack of horses, had them drawn by men. Many pipes of wine and of other liquors were staved, “ to the great loss of the merchants :" many, however, were left, equally to their loss, but to the great contentment of the garrison of Calais, and of duke Humphrey's men. They set fire to their tents; and yet such was the hurry of their retreat, that many tents were left standing, and great booty and abundant stores were found in the forsaken

camp. +

All that the duke could do was to protect this mutinous host from what might else have been the likely, as it would have been the just, consequence of their own disobedience and indiscipline. He covered their retreat in person with his men-at-arms; and forming thus a rear-guard, which secured them against any sally from the garrison, followed them to Gravelines, where, their panic being somewhat abated, they quartered themselves upon the same spot which they had occupied before their bootless siege. There Jean de Croy joined him with the troops from before Guisnes, pursuant to his orders. He, too, had left his stores and engines on the ground, for want of means for transporting them, and his retreat had been insulted by the garrison. The duke now called his lords to council: their first business was to give him consolation, mortified as he was, and complaining bitterly of the disgrace thus brought upon him: he had, however, no worse fault wherewith to reproach himself than the imprudence of having relied upon a people who were so little to be trusted, but severe

* Sueyro mentions two guns, belonging one to Leyden and the other to Haarlem, and named Hoppenbier and Swertegriete. Holinshed, among “the many fair pieces of ordnance found in the camp,"mentions “specially one called Dijon, so named after the chief town of Burgundy." † Monstrelet, 372–377.

I Monstrelet says they were hardly pressed, and must have been compelled to surrender in a few if the Bur

had remained; but he forgot that in a few days duke Humphrey would have arrived; and Holin. shed says, that the orders to raise the siege were to Jean de Croy, very joyous, for he neither got nor saved."

[ocr errors]

DUKE HUMPHREY LANDS.

79

reflections were made upon those persons by whose advice the expedition had been undertaken. They recommended him to store and strengthen all his frontier towns, seeing that he might surely expect the English would invade him in their turn; and for himself, it was their opinion that he should retire to one of the towns in the interior, from whence he might repair wherever his presence should be most needed. Some of the nobles and chosen men-at-arms remained, by his desire, in Gravelines: if that place were taken, the duke said, it would be very injurious to the whole country; and he pledged his word that if they should want assistance there he would come to their succour, cost what it would. Others went to Ardres, and to the towns and castles in the Boulonnois. Yet, when the council broke up, and before their chiefs departed to their respective stations, the duke made one more appeal to the soldiers, and entreated them to wait a few days longer, for the sake of his honour and their own. This having failed, he left them, and went to Lisle, from whence he issued a proclamation, requiring that all persons who had been accustomed to bear arms should hold themselves in readiness to march against the English, who were about to land at Calais. *

Chagrined as he was at the ignominious result of an enterprise so important in itself, he could not, however, but be conscious that if his own people had not compelled him to break up the siege, nothing could have saved such an army from the most shameful defeat and rout. Duke Humphrey arrived so soon after their departure that he partook of the spoils of the camp: he came with a fleet of some 300 sail, and with not less than 20,000 men, a formidable army, considering of what materials it was composed - English archers and men-at-arms, and knights. He marched into the enemy's country, and, making no attempt upon any of the fortified places, swept the land before him of its cattle and all movable spoil. Seven thousand men were collected at Cassel to oppose him; but when they saw his strength, they were thankful for the protection that their position afforded them, and let the invaders pursue their career unmolested. Some Flemish exiles were in the English army, who served as guides, and took cruel, and perhaps indiscriminating, vengeance for themselves. Six weeks they persevered in a course of warfare more destructive than honourable, burning houses, and villages, and open towns, and the suburbs of such as were fortified, and destroying the country in every part; but duke Humphrey possessed no such military talent as his brothers, Henry V., and Exeter, and John of Bedford. By some strange neglect, he had neither taken with him sufficient store of bread, nor made arrangements for being supplied with it, near as he

* Monstrelet, 377–382.

was, during the whole incursion, to his resources; and to the want of this customary aliment a sickness in the army was ascribed, which proved more destructive than the enemy's sword. “ Many good women,' says Monstrelet, saved their houses by giving bread, and even got cattle in return for it;" for the marauders were driving off more than they knew how to keep, or where

This want of bread and the mortality among his people compelled him to return, when, in Hall's honest words, he “ had sufficiently plagued and wasted the countries of the duke of Burgoyne.” Two thousand cart-loads of booty were brought to Guisnes and Calais, besides such prisoners as were able to ransom themselves. *

The English fleet, meantime, which had debarked the troops, proceeded along the Flemish coast. The principal towns, in hasty alarm, remanded the men who had been disbanded, and a considerable force, well provided with artillery, was marched towards Biervliet, and encamped near the sea, for the protection of the coast. The duke left them, as he had left the people of the interior, to their own measures and their own

[ocr errors]

to water.

* Monstrelet, 385-387. Sueyro, 284—285. Hall, 184.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »