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ATTEMPT TO RETAKE BOULOGNE.
time of year also well considered, when you excuse yourselves that you cannot lie so nigh a good town, and such a village as Basse Boulogne is being in your aid, with the haven for your victual, so commodious to come to you? He bade them, therefore, seek more indirect excuses to cloak their ill favoured retreat, but rather study to see his honour redubbed, which therein had been somewhat touched."*
Some part of the reproach which Henry thus unsparingly addressed to those whom he had left behind him in France he might have taken to himself. After his ostentatious entrance into Boulogne, he ought not to have hurried to England while that place was in such a state † that it seemed as if he were leaving it to be re-entered by the enemy. On the dauphin's arrival at Marquise, he was informed by a spy from the town, that all the stores were in the Basse Ville, that none of the breaches had been repaired, that the place was as open as a village, that he had only to enter it, and the upper town being wholly unprovided, would in a few days be at his mercy. Montluc (the liveliest old soldier that ever wrote the history of his own campaigns), who had just received his commission as maître-de-camp, was one of the persons who went to ascertain how far the report of this espial might be trusted. He found the camp and the artillery just as Henry had left them, and every thing in such a state, that the French general determined upon a camisado the following night. Norfolk, and the other members of the council had given their opinion that the town, fortified as it then was, might resist the power of France for that winter; though they acknowledged that no works which they could during that time construct could prevent the enemy, if he came in strength, from burning the base town, and the ships in the harbour, nor from erecting a bastion which should com
Nott's Surrey and Wyatt, i. App. pp. xlviii.-lv.
"The same town," Holinshed says, "being then weak, God knoweth, on all sides, through battery and minings, which, by the king's power, had been made to bring it into his subjection, and the trenches not cast down, nor the ordnance mounted." P. 844.
mand the entrance. They seem not to have considered, that if the stores were taken the upper town must fall. The volunteers for this enterprise set off in the night, wearing their shirts over their armour. They entered at three breaches bravely; but M. de Tais, by whom the information upon which the attempt was concerted had been obtained and verified, was wounded at this time, and compelled to withdraw. Montluc made his way into the town, through a fourth, without resistance, and amused himself, as he says, by attacking three or four houses which were full of Englishmen, whom he judged to be pioneers, because they were mostly without arms, but of whom, nevertheless, more than 200 were killed. The adventurers thought themselves in safe possession of the place: they found there all the store of provisions, with wine in abundance; and they began to pillage, and to revel upon the good cheer of which they made prize. The lord deputy Dudley had left sir Thomas Poynings in command, an able and experienced officer, whose measures upon the first alarm were taken as promptly as judiciously. He occupied most of the breaches through which the enemy had entered, and attacked them in the town, when thus cut off from succour and from retreat. More than 800 were lost, besides prisoners. Montluc behaved, as he always did, with consummate courage, and that presence of mind, without which courage itself is unavailing.* It was chiefly to his exertions that those who escaped were indebted for their preservation. He made his way back to the
He says, "J'appelle Dieu en tesmoing, qu'il me punisse, si de tout ce jour-là je perdis jamais l'entendement. Et me servit bien que Dieu me le conservast; car si je l'eusse perdu nous eussions receu une grande escorne, laquelle n'eussions sceu couvrir, et j'eusse esté en grand danger de n'estre jamais mareschal de France. Nous eussions perdu toutes nos enseignes, et ceux qui les portoient, avec lesquels toutesfois Dieu me fist la grace de sauver. Deslors qu'on est saisi de la peur, et qu'on perd le jugement, on ne sçait ce qu'on fait; c'est la requeste principale que vous devez faire à Dieu de vous garder l'entendement; car quelque danger qu'il y ait, encore y a-t-il moyen d'en sortir, et peut-estre à vostre honneur. Mais lorsque la crainte de la mort vous oste le jugement, adieu vous dis : vous pensez fuir à poupe que vous allez à prouë. Pour un ennemi, il vous sem. ble que vous en voyez dix devant vos yeux, comme font les yvrongnes qui voyent mille chandelles au coup. O le grand'heur que c'est à un homme de nostre mestier, quand le danger ne lui oste le sens; il peut prendre son parte, et éviter la mort et la honte."— Coll. des Mémoires, tom. xxii. p. 318.
RETREAT OF THE FRENCH.
army, bearing with him three arrows in his buckler, and one in the sleeve of his mail, as his share of the booty.*
The dauphin and his brother, the duc d'Orleans, had both so little consideration, or so little feeling, that they jested at this disaster, and laughed at Montluc, as if he and the old soldiers of Piedmont had lost their character. But when Montluc seriously asked the dauphin if he was of opinion that he had behaved ill, for if he were, he would instantly return to the town and find his death there; adding, that men were fools, indeed, to expend their lives in his service, the prince perceived his error, and made amends for it. The failure of the camisado, and the severe loss which had attended it, had abated the hope and the confidence with which he had taken the field. Heavy rains at this time set in; and the difficulties which Henry had foreseen, of obtaining provisions in a devastated country, and where the roads were so bad, were soon severely felt: the army was three days without bread, and the soldier was known to give his armour for a loaf. The dauphin †, therefore, retreated to Montreuil, dismissed there his Swiss and Gascon mercenaries, left mareschal du Biez with the troops which had been drawn from Piedmont to act against the English at Boulogne, and leaving the army himself, went to join the king, his father. Soon after Christmas, M. du Biez, with all the force that had been left in Picardy (about 14,000), came down to the coast, and encamped at Portet, a little fishing port, about a mile to the west of Boulogne. Before he could fortify his camp, the earl of Hertford (afterwards the protector Somerset), the lord admiral, who had then returned to his charge as lord deputy of that town, lord Grey of Wilton, and Poynings, sallied about four one morning, with all the strength they could collect, consisting of 4000
* Montluc, 301-320. Nott's Surrey and Wyatt, i. lxii. lxiii. Holinshed, 844.
+ Norfolk says, in one of his despatches at this time, "The dauphin being disappointed to have environed our whole army at Boulogne, and to have hobbled us with horsemen (on the farther retreat to Calais), hath now hopped and leaped hither and thither, and lost well-favouredly in both places, and so is likely to return without damages."— Nott's Surrey and Wyatt, i lxxiii.
foot and 700 horse.* Coming to the place where the king had encamped during the siege, they placed themselves there in order of battle; and at low water, captain Edward Braye, with 300 shot, passed over to give the enemy an alarm in their camp. At the same time the trumpets sounded, and the drums struck up. The army then showed themselves, in three battles, each with 200 horse; and the French, not thinking it prudent to await this unexpected attack, drew off in two bodies, with all haste, towards Hardelot. The English captains, in equal haste, followed with their horse only. During the night their workmen, protected by a company of harquebussiers, had repaired a bridge called Pont de Bricque, over one of the streams which unite to form the harbour of Boulogne: this they crossed, advanced to St. Estienne, surprised 500 Germans, "called Swart rutters," who were stationed there, and took most of them prisoners; but these poor prisoners, being left with the followers of the army, were afterwards slain, "because they knew not where to bestow them!"
Having thus gained the hill of St. Estienne, the lords appointed 100 of their men-at-arms "to follow and keep aloof, as a stale to relieve their fellows in time of need." Then arraying themselves again in order of battle, they rode up and down among the troops, and, "using many comfortable words,” desired that, although they were but a handful, they would yet, for the honour of England, make proffer of an onset, and follow as they should see them lead the way. Then pushing forward, they came up with the enemy some "three miles on the hitherside of Hardelot sands," and, valiantly giving the charge, "thrust in between the two French battles, overthrew their carriages, took their ordnance and munition, and slew and bare down many of them that pressed forward to defend it." M. du Biez upon this brought up his best men, and began to array them with
* Some eighty or 100 of these were Albanians, a people who often appear among the mercenaries of that age.
a view to enclose the English between his forces and the The lord admiral perceived his purpose: by his encouragement the English made a new charge, broke through the enemy, came to the hundred men-at-arms whom they had left as a reserve, and there halted for their infantry, by this time in sight, but at the distance of about two miles. The French also saw them; and M. du Biez, covering his retreat with the troops on whom he had most reliance, continued it till he came to Hardelot sands, 66 a place of such strength and advantage, by reason of the strait, that being once there he might account himself out of all danger." Halting there, he sent a herald to the English chieftains, saying that there he meant to abide, and would give them battle if they chose to engage him; an offer which they thought it as unwise to accept as he did to meet them upon the fair field to which they invited him in reply. Whereupon the English," says Holinshed, "to light them a candle that they might see where they were, set all the villages and houses about on fire, continuing there all that afternoon and most part of the following night. Early on the morrow they returned to Boulogne with all their spoil and prisoners." They took in this affair two brazen and five iron guns, and "the pieces of advantage of six mareschals, which were sent to the king as proof of the good success that had happened to his people in this famous enterprise."—" Apparel, plate, and furniture,” in great plenty, were taken, both in the field and in the camp, where the French left their tents standing and all their provisions. This success was obtained with the loss of less than twenty men in killed and wounded.*
SALLEY FROM BOULOGNE.
* Holinshed, 845. Du Bellay, 206. Dr. Nott (lxxv.) follows Du Bellay in giving the command that day to Surrey; adding, in a note, that Herbert, in his MS. collection, speaks of Surrey as the commander, but that in his published account he is silent respecting him. Herbert probably relied upon Du Bellay, when he made his notes, and saw good reason for rejecting his authority when he wrote his history. The credit which Holinshed ascribes to M. du Biez is assigned to another by Du Bellay :"Sans l'ordre qui fût mis par le Capitaine Ville-Franche maître de camp des vielles bandes François, lequel demoure sur la queue, il y avoit grande apparence qu'il y fût advenu une roupte. Si est ce qu'il mourut de gens de bien, tant d'une part que d'autre."