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estruck when they heard that the countess had herself planned and executed this enterprise; whilst those of the town, not knowing what was become of her, were very uneasy, for they were full five days without gaining any intelligence of her. The countess, in the meanwhile, was so active that she assembled from five to six hundred men, well armed and mounted, and with them set out, about midnight, from Brest, and came straight to Hennebon about sunrise, riding along one of the sides of the enemy's host, until she came to the gates of the castle, which were opened to her; she entered with great triumph, and sounds of trumpets and other warlike instruments, to the astonishment of the French, who began arming themselves, to make another assault upon the town, while those within mounted the walls to defend it. This attack was very severe, and lasted till past noon. The French lost more than their opponents; and then the lords of France put a stop to it, for their men were killed and wounded to no purpose. They next retreated, and leaving Sir Hervé de Léon, Lord Lewis of Spain, the Viscount de Rohan, and part of the army still to beseige Hennebon, went to attack the castle of Aurai. Froissart, vol., i. p. 105.

The reiterated attacks, however, of the beseigers, had at length made several breaches on the walls, and it was apprehended that a general assault, which was every hour expected, would overpower the garrison, diminished in numbers and extremely weakened with watching and fatigue. It became necessary to treat of a capitulation, and the Bishop of Leon was already engaged for that purpose in a conference with Charles of Blois, when the countess, who had mounted to a high tower, and was looking towards the sea with great impatience, descried some sails at a distance, she immediately exclaimed "Behold the succours! the English succours! No capitulation" This fleet had on board a body of heavy armed cavalry, and six thousand archers, whom Edward had prepared for the relief of Hennebon, but who had long been detained by contrary winds. They entered the harbour under the command of Sir Walter Manny, one of the bravest captains of England, and, having inspired fresh courage into the garrison, immediately sallied forth, beat the besiegers from all their posts, and obliged them to decamp. But, notwithstanding this success, the Countess of Montfort found that her party, overpowered by numbers, was declining in every quarter, and she went over to solicit more effectual succours from the King of England; Edward granted her a considerable reinforcement under Robert of Artois, who embarked on board a fleet of forty-five ships, and sailed to Brittany. He was met in his passage by the enemy; an action ensued, when the countess behaved with her wonted valour, and charged the enemy sword in hand,* but the hostile fleet after a sharp action were separated by a storm, and the English arrived safe in Brittany. Hume, vol ii,, p. 420. *Froissart says "The Countess of Montfort was equal to a man, for she had the heart of a lion, and with rusty, sharp sword in her hand, she combated bravely."


Edward III., in prosecution of his unfounded claim to the crown of France, had set out from the port of Southampton, for the invasion of that country, with a fleet of a thousand sail, in which he had embarked an army of thirty thousand men: he was likewise accompanied by the flower of his nobility, and likewise by his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, afterwards famous under the name of the Black Prince. The prince had just then completed his sixteenth year. The invading force was disembarked in safety at La Hogue, in Normandy, on the 12th July, 1346. The fury of the soldiery was first let loose upon the town of Caen, where the barbarities of the invading army were provoked by the feeble opposition of the inhabitants; Edward then proceeded along the south bank of the Seine, not being able to get across that river, as he wished to do, in consequence of all the bridges being broken down. But every village and corn-field that he encountered in his progress he laid waste with pitiless ferocity. Meanwhile, however, the forces of the French king were advancing from all quarters to the scene of these outrageous proceedings. Unless he could make his escape to the north, Edward saw his destruction was certain. In these perilous circumstances he had recourse to stratagem. Having come to the Bridge of Poissy, near Paris, which, like the rest, had been rendered useless, he suddenly ordered his army to march forward, when he was, as usual, after a short delay, followed in the same direction by a party of the enemy which occupied the opposite bank.

He then returned by a rapid march to Poissy, and got over his army without interruption. He had still, however, another river, the Somme, to cross, before he could reach Flanders; and the enemy, amounting to a hundred thousand men, and commanded by the king, Philip VI., in person, was so near upon him, that if he could not accomplish his passage within a few hours, he ran the risk of being driven before them into the river. He resolved, therefore, to make the attempt at all hazards. A peasant having been induced, by the offer of a reward, to discover a place at which the river might be forded at low water, Edward, taking his sword in his hand, plunged in: his army followed their gallant leader, and although they were met when they reached the opposite shore by Godemar de Faye, at the head of a body of twelve thousand men, they made good their landing, drove back the enemy, and pursued them for some distance over the adjacent plain. This bold achievement had been effected just in time. While the rear of Edward's army was yet in the water, the vanguard of that led by Philip reached the bank they had left. Deterred, however, by the rising tide, the French king declined pursuing his enemy across the ford. Still Edward had not escaped the necessity of fighting the immensely superior force which was thus bearing down upon him. Accordingly, having spent the night in surrounding his position with trenches, he, the

next morning, drew up his army in three divisions on a gentle ascent near the village of Cressy, opposite to which he had crossed the river. The command of the foremost division he committed to his son the Prince of Wales, giving him for his counsellors, in this his first essay of arms, the Earl of Warwick and Lord John Chandos. The second division was given in charge of the Earls of Arundel and Northampton, and Edward himself, at the head of the third, which consisted of twelve thousand men, took his station on an adjacent hill, from a windmill on the summit of which he viewed the fight. The carriages and horses were placed in a wood behind the troops. Part of the morning had been spent by Edward in riding along the ranks of his army, and addressing to them such exhortations as were most proper to call up in the breast of every man the courage and firmness which the occasion demanded. The whole body then, after taking a slight repast, laid themselves down on the grass, and awaited the enemy's approach.* Penny Magazine, 1833, p. 326.

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On seeing their enemies advance the English rose undaunted up, and fell into the ranks; you must know that these kings, earls, barons, and lords of France did not advance in any regular order, but one after the other, in any way most pleasing to themselves. As soon as the King of France came in sight of the English his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals, Order the Genoese forward, and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis." There were about fifteen thousand Genoese cross-bowmen, but they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed, and with their cross-bows; they told the constable they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The Earl of Alençon, hearing this, said, "This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fall off when there is any need of them." During this time a heavy rain fell, accompanied by thunder and a very terrible eclipse of the sun, and before the rain a great flight of crows hovered in the air, over all those battalions, making a loud noise. Shortly afterwards it cleared up, and the sun shone very bright, but the Frenchmen had it in their faces, and the English in their backs. When the Genoese were somewhat in order, and approached the English, they set up a loud shout, in order to frighten them, but they remained quite still, and did not seem to attend to it; they then set up a second shout, and advanced a little forward, but the English never moved. They hooted a third time, advancing with their cross-bows presented, and began to shoot;† the English archers then advanced one.

*The French army consisted of 120,000 men, more than three times the number of the English. Hume, vol. ii., p. 434.

+ Hume says the thunder shower had moistened and relaxed the strings of the Genoese cross-bows; their arrows, for this reason, fell short of the enemy.


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step forward, and shot their arrows with such force and quickness that it seemed as if it snowed; when the Genoese felt these arrows, which pierced their arms, heads, and through their armour, some of them cut the strings of their cross-bows, others flung them on the ground, and all turned about, and retreated quite discomfited. The French had a large body of men-at-arms on horseback, richly dressed, to support the Genoese.

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The King of France seeing them thus fall back, cried out, "Kill me those scoundrels, for they stop our road without any reason.' You would then have seen the above-mentioned men-at-arms lay about them, killing all they could of these runaways. The English continued shooting as vigorously and quickly as before, some of their arrows fell among the horsemen, who were sumptuously equipped, and killing and wounding many, made them caper and fall among the Genoese, so that they were in such confusion they could never rally again. In the English army there were some Cornish and Welshmen on foot, who had armed themselves with large knives: these advancing through the ranks of the men-atarms and archers, who made way for them, came upon the French when they were in this danger, and, falling upon earls, barons, knights, and squires, slew many, at which the King of England was afterwards much exasperated. The Earl of Alençon advanced in regular order upon the English, to fight with them; as did the Earl of Flanders in another part. These two lords with their detachments, coasting, as it were, the archers, came to the princes battalion, where they fought valiantly for a length of time. The King of France was eager to march to the place where he saw their banners displayed, but there was a hedge of archers before him. This battle, which was fought on Saturday (26th August, 1346), between la Broyes and Creci, was very murderous and cruel, and many gallant deeds of arms were performed that were never known. Towards evening many knights and squires of the French had lost their masters; they wandered up and down the plains, attacking the English in small parties; they were soon destroyed; for the English had determined that day to give no quarter. Early in the day some French, Germans, and Savoyards, had broken through the archers of the prince's battalion, and had engaged with the men-at-arms; upon which the second battalion came to his aid; and it was time, for otherwise he would have been hard pressed. The first division, seeing the danger they were in, sent a knight (Sir Thomas Norwich) in great haste to the King of England, who was posted on an eminence near a windmill. On the knight's arrival, he said, "Sir, the Earl of Warwick, the Lord Stafford, the Lord Reginald Cobham, and the others who are about your son, are vigorously attacked by the French; and they entreat that you would come to their assistance with your battalion, for, if their numbers should increase, they fear he will have too much to do." The king replied, “Is my English archers had preserved their bows in cases, and drew them out when the rain was over.

son dead? unhorsed? or so badly wounded that he cannot support himself?" " Nothing of the sort, thank God," rejoined the knight, "But he is in so hot an engagement, that he has great need of your help." The king answered, "Now Sir Thomas, return back to those that sent you, and tell them from me not to send to me again this day, or expect that I shall come, let what will happen as long as my son has life; and say that I command them to let the boy win his spurs; for I am determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honour of this day shall be given to him, and to those into whose care I have intrusted him."

The knight returned to his lords, and related the king's answer, which mightily encouraged them, and made them repent that they had ever sent such a message. The French, though they fought lustily, could not resist the force of the English, and, spite of their prowess, were borne down on every hand; the Earls Aumarle, St. Pol, Auxerre, Flanders, Blois (nephew to the King of France), and the Duke of Lorraine (the King of France's brotherin-law), with very many gallant knights and squires were slain, and the King of France, who had not about him more than sixty men, every one included, was led away by force from the field by Sir John de Harcourt, first to the castle of La Broyes, where he stayed but to take some refreshments, and then on in the night to Amiens. This Saturday the English never quitted their ranks in pursuit of any one, but remained in the field, guarding their position, and defending themselves against all who attacked them. The battle was ended at the hour of vespers.* When, on the Saturday night, the English heard no more hooting or shouting, nor any more crying out to particular lords or their banners, they looked upon the field as their own, and their enemies as beaten; they made great fires, and lighted torches, because of the obscurity of the night. King Edward then came down from his post, who all the day had not put on his helmet, and, with his whole battalion advanced to the Prince of Wales, whom he embraced in his arms, and kissed, and said, "Sweet son, God give you good perseverance; you are my son, for most loyally have you acquitted yourself this day; you are worthy to be a sovereign." The prince bowed down very low, and humbled himself, giving all honour to the king, his father. Froissart, vol i., p. 164

On the day of battle, and on the ensuing,† there fell by a mo

*It is affirmed that in this memorable battle the English began for the first time to use cannon, a thing yet unheard of in France; four pieces planted on a little hill did great execution among the French troops, and struck them with such terror that the success of this day is partly ascribed to the surprise of the French at this novelty. Rapin, vol. i., p. 425.

Hume says the invention of artillery was at this time known in France as well as in England, but Philip, in his hurry to overtake the enemy, had probably left his cannon behind him, which he regarded as a useless incumbrance.

The English put to the sword all they met, and there were slain on this Sunday morning four times as many as in the battle of Saturday. Froissart, vol. i., p. 169.

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