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SIEGE OF GUISNES.
tempests. And such of the queen's ships as did adventure the passage were so shaken and torn with violence of weather, that they were forced to return with great danger, and with the loss of all their tackle and furniture.† Thus by negligence of the council at home, conspiracy of traitors elsewhere, force and false practice of enemies, holpen by the rage of most terrible tempests of contrary wind and weather, this famous fort of Calais was brought again to the hands and possession of the French." The English chroniclers are not justified in imputing this loss to any treason, nor to any false practice of the enemy. It was attacked more bravely than it was defended, and taken in fair, open, honourable war. But the English government was inexcusable for weakening the garrison, neglecting the warning which it had received, and refusing the proffered aid of the Spaniards.
Guise took counsel now whether he should attack Gravelines or Guisnes, and it was rightly determined that the latter, as being the strongest, was of the more importance. This other consideration must also have weighed with him, that it was of far greater consequence to complete the conquest of the English pale, than to capture a Flemish town. That pale would not have been lost if Calais had been as well defended as Guisnes, which it might have been had it been as well manned. The lord Grey of Wilton commanded there: knowing that it was no time now to distrust the aid of Spain, he obtained from Philip's army some Spanish and Burgundian soldiers, from 300 to 500 of whom made their way to him, notwithstanding the vigilance of the enemy. The town was large in compass, without walls
Rabutin makes no mention of the storm. "Furent armez force navires," he says (p. 168.), "et remplis de soldats et toutes munitions pour y envoyer secours. Mais quand ils approcherent et qu'ils recogneurent les enseignes et croix blanches plantées et venteler desjà sur la tour de Risban, et les murailles de la ville, sans approcher d'avantage, s'en retournerent, pour reporter advertissement de ceste mauvaise adventure en leur pays." In this, as in the other parts of his relation, he is followed by Thuanus; but our own chroniclers are to be believed when they say, that "if this tempestuous weather had not chanced, it was thought that the army should have passed to have given some succour to Guisnes, and to have attempted the recovery of Calais."
† Grafton, ii. 559. Holinshed, 93.
or bulwarks, closed only with a trench. This he abandoned as being incapable of defence: such of the inhabitants as were capable of bearing arms he took into the castle; the rest went to seek their fortune whither they would. The castle was a place well fortified, "with strong and massy bulwarks of brick, having also a high and mighty tower, of great force and strength, called the keep." But cannon were now brought against fortifications which were constructed when far less formidable engines of demolition were in use. The French took possession of the deserted town, quartered themselves there, and were some sleeping as if in a place of security, others revelling over the spoils which they had found, when a chosen band sallied by a postern, slew many of them, drove the rest out, and set fire to the houses. The town was thus destroyed.
But this, though it manifested the determination of the captain, and the courage of the garrison, had no effect in impeding the siege, disproportional as the number of the besieged was to the force brought against them, and with no expectation nor even hope of relief. The duke began his trenches, and continued without intermission, “albeit the shot of the great artillery from the castle was terrible, and gave him great impeachment:" he himself, to animate his men, worked at the batteries, and assisted to draw the cannon. In less than three days he had brought five-and-thirty battering pieces, "hard to the brim of the castle ditch, to batter it on all sides, as well forth-right as across." But his principal battery was planted against the Mary bulwark, which was the strongest of the works, knowing that if this was taken, there could be little more resistAt daybreak on the fourth day of the siege two batteries opened upon this bulwark, one with thirteen guns the other with nine; and were plied so well, that by noon they had dismounted the counter battery, and "clean cut away the hoop of brick off the whole forefront, whereof the filling being but of late digged earth" crumbled away. Perceiving this, the enemy, early in
the afternoon, sent a party to view and assay the breach: the ditch at that place had been scarcely twenty-four feet wide; the rubbish had now half filled it, and it was not more than knee-deep. These men, therefore, "with . small ado came to the breach, and with as little pain ascended it, the slope was so easy:" they discharged their pistols at the English, received a few pushes of the pike in return, and retired with their troops. Upon their report a band or two of Gascons threw themselves into the ditch, and up they came. Then," says Holinshed,
a little more earnestly the Englishmen leaned to their tackling: their flankers walked, their pikes, their culvers, their pots of wild fire were lent them, the harquebuss saluted them: so as jolly master Gascoigne was set down with more hurt than he came up with good speed." And here Monday's assault ended; but at the close the enemy gave seven or eight such terrible tires of battery, as took clean away from them the top of their vaumure and maunds, leaving them all open to the cannon's m mouth; whereby surely but for night that came on the Englishmen had been forced to have abandoned the place.'
This day had cost the besieged some brave officers, Spanish as well as English, and about fifty men. At night lord Grey came to the bulwark, and having rendered thanks to God for that day's good success, encouraged his people with commendations and exhortations to continue as they had begun. To repair the damage which the bulwark had sustained, they constructed another, six feet deep and nine in thickness, thus rendering it stronger than before; but the enemy meantime planted two batteries more, from which the next morning they opened upon the flankers, that had annoyed them on the preceding day: all these except two they won, and fired also upon the breach eight or nine times within the hour. The breach was threatened in the afternoon, but the French were not eager to attempt it, their object being to discover what flankers were left within; and in this they were disappointed, lord Grey having ordered the 66 gunners not to disclose them but upon extremity."
SIEGE OF GUISNES.
After a light offer or two of approach, this party retired, "and gave the cannon place again, which by night had driven them within to become mouldwarps, and to intrench themselves with all speed possible." Wednesday was a dreadful day: the enemy effected no lodgement, but they demolished more of the defences, and disregarded their own greater loss of men which they could well afford. Lord Grey exerted himself during the night to remove the wounded, repair the breaches, and supply what stores he could; but by this time “ corn-powder," fireworks, and even pikes began to fail. As he went about encouraging the men, and exhorting them to acquit themselves no less valiantly the next day than they had hitherto done, his foot was nearly thrust through by a sword which one of the soldiers wore without a scabbard, and he was obliged to withdraw that the wound might be dressed. Meantime great noise and working was heard in the ditch; and at last, by kindling cressets, it was ascertained that the enemy were making a bridge of casks, fastened together with ropes, and overlaid with hurdles and planks. By morning it was finished, but the battery was continued till two o'clock; by which time the only remaining flankers were taken, and the gunners slain. Lord Grey, then, with advice of the Spanish commander, Mondragon, and his own chief officers, thinking the bulwark no longer tenable, resolved to make only a show of resistance there, and when the enemy should have entered to blow it up.
But this determination was taken so late, that there seems to have been no time for preparing to carry it into effect. Guise had ordered a regiment of his best lansquenets to lead the assault; D'Andelot, with a body of French, was ready to support them. He himself took his station upon a rising ground, to witness the attack, and give orders as the emergency might require. The men were so eager for this service, that many, impatient of waiting till they could pass by the bridge, plunged into the ditch, though it was full of water, and though "from the bottom thereof to the top of the
breach was in some places well nigh forty feet," in, however, they plunged, as the shortest way, and "without fear of the water beneath, or the fire above, they mounted the breach." There the defendants saluted them with such store of wildfire and "other fucasies," that they were "turned headlong one upon another faster than they came up ;" and the duke himself, not enduring the sight, ran among his men, so reproving some and encouraging others †, that the assault was now renewed with much more vehemence and fury than before, ❝ and with no less sturdy obstinacy and desperation received, so that all the breach beneath was filled with French carcasses." Fresh companies were brought up, and fresh assaults made, till the English," being tired and greatly minished in their numbers, were of pure force driven to avoid; and so, after half an hour, the enemy entered, which when the lord Grey beheld, he leaped to the top of the rampire, wishing of God that some shot would take him! One that stood next him, by the scarf suddenly pulled him down, otherwise the effect had well declared the earnestness of the prayer; for he was not yet up again, when a cannon shot grated the place from whence he fell." Four hundred of the garrison, about a fourth of whom were Spaniards, were slain in this assault; and here, too, a Burgundian captain fell; Desquie he is called by the English chronicler, and his name deserves to be remembered; for "being full of the gout, and an impotent man, he would not yet be from his charge, but in his bed ended his life in the bulwark."
SIEGE OF GUISNES.
From 800 to 900 of the enemy fell in these fierce assaults. The breach having been won, the fight still continued within the bulwark, but now "to the great slaughter of them that defended it." Lord Grey called upon those who were about him to follow him ; "but the maze was such, that except his son Arthur, his kinsman
* Rabutin (169.) makes the ditches seventy feet deep; and his editor has justly noticed the idle exaggeration.
Leur remit le cœur en ventre," is the strong expression of Rabutin He has before said that Guise was afraid of exposing his men to a fricassée, by which word the slaughter produced by mines was in those days denoted