« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
feed the garrison which the king might think proper to maintain there.*
These, the French historian observes, were great utilities and worthy of profound consideration; but, on the other hand, the difficulties that occurred were not less considerable. The sieurs de Tais and de Saint Remy, and others who were versed in such matters, agreed in opinion that it would be necessary to erect three fortresses at the same time, on the spot which had been deemed best suited to that purpose: the ground was semi-circular in its form, and at the two points of the semi-circle two forts were required to defend the road and protect their own fleet; a third was necessary for lodging the troops. The cost of these works would be excessive: it would not be possible to complete them in less than three months, even if 6000 pioneers were employed; and the place being as it were in the heart of the enemy, less than 6000 soldiers ought not to be left there, but it was impossible to leave so many now, and retain enough for manning the ships. Nor were these the only objections. The fleet could not depart till the works should be in a defensible state; but it was impossible for them to remain there so long, because they had no port to secure them from the winds, neither were they victualled for such a time: the rainy and stormy season was coming on, when the ships would be in danger, and the soldiers on shore would be exposed to the effects of the weather, having no habitations to shelter them, nor tents, nor covering of any kind. These arguments had such weight that even those who were for taking possession of the isle submitted to them, and agreed that the intention must be deferred till the king's farther pleasure could be known. "For my part,” says Martin du Bellay, "without offence to the sieurs de Tais and de Saint Remy, it appears to me that, considering the desire the king had to secure himself against his enemy the king of England, and the means which he then possessed an opportunity for so
* Du Bellay, 226-228,
THE FRENCH WITHDRAW.
doing was at that time presented, which will neither easily nor soon be found again. But God orders all things as he pleases.'
This determination having been taken, a watering party was sent on shore, and the chevalier d'Aux, who commanded the Norman galleys, landed to protect them, distrusting the vigilance of the officer who had charge of the party. But he was incautious enough himself to fall into an ambush, where he was slain. On the morrow the fleet departed, coasting it towards Dover: they outstripped the galleys, having a fair wind, and, therefore, lay to for them on a part of the coast which appeared so inviting that many of the men landed without orders, and without precaution of any kind. When a good part of them had passed over some deep water by a wooden bridge, the English issued suddenly from a little fort in which they had concealed themselves, broke down the bridge†, and attacked the invaders, who took to the water in their flight, to sink or swim as might betide them. The admiral now crossed the straits, and landed 4000 men and 3000 pioneers at Portet, near Boulogne; retaining still a sufficient number for the service of the fleet. The weather soon made them stand off, and make again towards the English coast. Meantime, the first care of the English had been to put Portsmouth in a defensible state §, and to lay a chain
* Du Bellay, 228-230.
+ Du Bellay calls the place Valseau, and says it is fourteen leagues from the Isle of Wight.
"Par la," says Du Bellay, "vous pouvez cognoistre qu'il pouvoit laisser en l'Isle d'Huicht lesdits 4000 hommes et 4000 pionniers, qui estoit suffisamment pour garder ladite isle, attendant nouveau refraischissement, et leur pouvoit laisser vivres (à ce que j'entendis des munitionnaires) pour un mois ou cinq sepmaines." p. 233.
"Having received your letter, whereby I perceive the king's majesty doth much marvel at the want of tools; for answer whereunto you shall understand that, as for sholves and spades, we have had some from London, but as for mattocks we have had none, which is the thing that we chiefly lack; these works cannot be done without them, the ground here is such. We have put to making to Winchestre, Southampton, and other places in these parts, many mattocks, so that I trust by Monday we shall have a good number of them; and then, God willing, there shall be as much diligence used as is possible, trusting, or it be long, that this town shall be put in that force and good order as it shall defend the enemies."-Suffolk to Paget, 1 Aug. p. 796.
Finally, I trust before my lord admiral's departure from hence, the
across the haven. The fleet was at that time much weakened by sickness, which was imputed to the great heat, bad food, and close stowage on board, so that many seamen as well as soldiers were not in a condition for service. The west country ships, however, had not yet joined, and when they came, men were removed from the smaller and least serviceable, to fill up the complement in the large vessels. The chief object of the French admiral, at this time, was to prevent the English from victualling Boulogne, and from sending supplies to Portsmouth. And when Dudley, having been reinforced with fresh men, received orders to put forth against the enemy, "to set the king's passage and victual at liberty," he replied, "There shall be no time forstowed in the advancement of his majesty's pleasure in that behalf; and I most humbly thank his majesty that he hath been pleased to give me liberty to look towards them, for I never thought myself in prisor till now, since the time of our lying here, doing no service."
Henry had signified his pleasure that some of his ships should be made to row, that they might keep company with the row barges, and act against the enemy's galleys: as much should be done in this way, Dudley said, as stuff and time would serve to perform; but, whereas the king's intention was that each of these rowing vessels should have two captains, the lord admiral observed that one would do his majesty better service, for two minds would not always agree, and their difference would furnish an excuse for any mishap or disobedience.* The vanguard of Dudley's fleet
chain shall be ready to be laid over the haven, with lighters, and all things meet for that purpose put in a readiness to furnish the same, for the defence of the enemies accordingly."-Suffolk to Paget, 1 Aug. p. 797.
"Assure yourself, I, the duke of Suffolk, intend to put the town in such force and strength, as it shall be a busy piece of work for the enemies to win."-Ibid. 802.
"For if there be two rulers, one will have his mind, the other will have his: if any thing frame amiss, the one will excuse him by the other; the residue under them will excuse them (selves) by two commanders: 'he bade me do that, and t' other this.' If there be but one having charge, neither he that hath the charge committed only to him, neither those which be
DUDLEY, LORD HIGH ADMIRAL.
consisted of twenty-four ships with 3800 men. largest vessel in this division was the Aragozia of Hampton, admiral Sir Thomas Clerc. The sum of ships for "the battle" amounted to forty, with 6846 men. lord admiral was in this division, on board the Henry Grace à Dieu, the Great Harry of 1000 tons and 700 men. Admiral William Tyrrell commanded the wing, of forty galliasses, shalupes, and boats of war, manned by 2092 men: his flag was hoisted on board the Grand Mistress, of 450 tons, 250 men. Dudley's orders were, that when a convenient time for battle should be perceived, our vanward shall make with their vanward, if they have any; and if they be in one company, our vanward, taking the advantage of the wind, shall set upon the foremost rank, bringing them out of order: and our vice-admiral shall seek to board their viceadmiral, and every captain shall choose his equal, as near as he may." The spirit of an English seaman breathes in that order. The admiral of the wing was to be always in the wind with his whole company; and when they formed with the enemy, he was still to keep that advantage, to the intent that he might the better beat off the galleys from the great ships. The watch-word for the fleet in the night was, “God save king Henry!" to which the answer was, "and long to reign over us!
M. d'Annebault, though greatly superior in numbers, seems not to have placed much reliance upon his ships, but rather to have dreaded an engagement in which he could not have the active assistance of his galleys. He was at anchor on the English coast, at a place which the French historian calls les Perrais, when he learnt by a Flemish vessel, which Dudley had embargoed, but which had made its escape during the night, that the English fleet was in search of him, and at no great dis
under one, hath any such excuse. Nevertheless, if his majesty's pleasure be to have it committed unto two, I shall accomplish it accordingly. Albeit that I could do no less than of my poor opinion to signify unto his majesty, referring all to his great wisdom, and beseeching his majesty of this my baldness to pardon me."-Lisle to Paget, 809.
* State Papers, 808-814.
tance. Had it found him in his present position, with the wind as it then was, the galleys would have been useless; and the only way of avoiding an action under that disadvantage, must have been by passing the straits and making toward Flanders, a thing, it is said, which could not be done without disorder and great danger; and with this additional evil, that their return would be cut off. The French admiral resolved, therefore, as soon as the tide favoured, and the wind either changed or fell, to put to sea, meet the enemy, gain the weather-gage, and give him battle. Meantime he ordered the galleys to take their station under a point of land which covered them from the wind, and there lie with their poop towards the shore, while the ships were drawn up in order of battle a little below them, as close as the weather would permit; thus, when the English fleet approached, it would, in attempting to close with the French, pass by the galleys, and leave them to windward: the galleys were safe, because even the smallest English ships drew too much water to approach; and the admiral thought it not impossible that the English might. not only pass the galleys, but be carried by the tide beyond the body of his fleet. The wind continued so high throughout the day that it was not prudent for them to weigh anchor. On the morrow the wind changed and fell, becoming so favourable, that about noon they desired nothing more than to fall in with the English; and when, from some Flemings, the admiral learnt that they were not far off, the admiral went on board the ship in which he meant to engage the Great Harry, and sent the galleys forward to discover the Aug. enemy, the ships following, but, because of the calm, little faster than the tide carried them. The galleys came in sight at daybreak: both parties manœuvred, the English not seeking to engage till the opportunity should be more favourable, and the French being in no haste to use that which the weather afforded them.*
Dudley wrote to the king at this juncture ;—it is the