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was close at hand: with the aid of their valour much might be done there; and he trusted in the Lord and our Lady for victory and honour. *
In two days, a Breton force well equipped for such service was embarked: a few hours sufficed for the passage; they reached the island at evening; and some two or three score men, without waiting for orders, or asking leave, landed to pick up shell fish, and any thing else they might find. The islanders attacked them, and they received a wholesome reproof when they were brought off by the boats. Orders were given that no person should leave the fleet without orders on pain of death; nor move from their ranks, when they were drawn up for battle, till the trumpet sounded. The check which they had received was sufficient to make them understand the necessity of discipline, and submit to it. There was an islet near, with a chapel upon it dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a place convenient for the invaders, because they could land there by laying a plank from the ship's side to the shore, and because it was easily defensible against superior numbers, though the space which separated it from the island was left dry at low water. There they landed; and, with the advice of the leaders, Pero Niño ordered the ships to put off, that his people might have no thought of escaping by their help. Good watch was kept, lest any attempt should be made upon them during the ebb: the men were instructed to be in readiness two hours before day; and three boats, with some arbalisters on board, were appointed to keep near the shore, and shoot any, whether French or Spaniards, who might fly to the water-side in hope of being taken off.
At day-break all were ready; the tide was then falling; the trumpets sounded, and they crossed the sands. Pero Niño, to whom the whole management of this enterprise had been committed by the Bretons, as his standard bearer says, "in God's name," for they went piously about their work, placed the men-at-arms in
* Cronica del Conde D. Pero Niño, part ii. c. 39.
order, with his banner in the midst of them, and bade them remain quiet till he should have arrayed the other part of his force. Some forty paces in advance he drew up the archers and crossbow-men in two wings: with each was a man-at-arms bearing a banner with his armorial ensigns; and in front of each wing he formed a pavaisade of sixty pavaises. Here, too, he stationed those
were called by the significant appellation of Pillards *, and other ill-armed men, who were more likely to distinguish themselves in the spoil than in the battle. "Friends," said he to these fellows, " take notice, that ye are now in an enemy's land! look at them! There they are, well-armed, and in battle array, as ready to meet us as we are to meet them; and there are enough of them, but they are neither so strong as we are, nor so brave. Remember that you have the sea behind you, and there are none in the ships to help you, so that you must place no trust there. You are between two enemies, the sea and the land; there is no escaping by flight; if you run into the sea you must perish there, and if you yield yourself to prison, you know how the English deal with the Castillians, and that they are without compassion. But if you stand firm and fight well, there will be the glory for you, and plenty of spoil; for, as you see, this is a rich and beautiful country. Keep your ground, and let not a man move till they approach you. Call upon Santiago, who is the patron of Spain, and he will aid us!" Spaniards, Normans, and Bretons, there were not less than 1000 men-at-arms in the expedition; and it may well be supposed, says Gutierre Diez, what labour a single knight must have gone through in ordering and arraying such a body, he, too, being armed at all points, except his head. There was not a single person, knight or footman, on whom he did not put his hand, instructing them twice or thrice, and informing them what they were to do.
The Jersey men, who, by the Spaniard's account, were about 3000, besides 200 horse, came on bravely:
DEFEAT OF THE JERSEYMEN.
they also put their lighter troops forward; and when these, after a hard fight, were compelled to fall back, and the pavaisaders and bowmen pressed upon them in pursuit, these men-at-arms being about equal in number to those of the invaders, past through both, and encountered the enemy's main body. Their lances, after the first encounter, were exchanged for battle-axe or sword, and presently" cuirasses might be seen loosened, and vambraces and cuissarts broken; swords and battle-axes were let fall from the hands that wielded them; some came to dagger thrusts, some grappled with their foes, some fell and some rose again; and the battle was so fierce, and the press so great, that he who came off best had enough to do." It was the chronicler's opinion, as an eye-witness, that few, on either side, would have been left alive, had it not been for his hero, Pero Niño, who, observing a white banner with the cross of St. George still planted where many others had been beaten down, called to the good Breton knight, Hector de Pombrianes, and to the best of those who were about his person, and said, "Sirs, as long as that banner is standing these English will never let themselves be conquered: let us try hard for it!" Both leaders, accordingly, with some fifty chosen men, made for this banner. The chief person who defended it was the receiver-general *, a brave man, who was mortally wounded, and could not be borne from the field. Many of the Jersey men fell round him; the banner was beaten down, and the islanders having, as it appears, lost their commander in him, took to flight. Helmets, coats of mail, and even lighter arms, were thrown off when safety seemed to depend on speed; but the invaders were in no condition to pursue them, so many were hurt, and so wearied were they all. The pillards, however, and their worthy associates, upon whom little or none of the strife had fallen, were busily employed in their vocation, plundering and burning without fear and without remorse.
* Llamabaule el Receveur ; é yo le ví yacer entre mis pies, é finabaso yá, y non podian con el andar adelante; tanto era el apretamiento de la gente.
The battle was fought upon a fine sand, which was about half a league in length, and now thickly bestrown with the arms and bucklers which the islanders had thrown away in their flight. Pero Niño mounted some fifty of his people upon the horses which they had taken; and, leaving his standard bearer to embody the men and remain with them, rode about to collect those who were dispersed in the thickly enclosed country. This done, he withdrew the whole to the islet for the night. There he questioned his prisoners concerning the strength of the island, and what they knew of the English fleet. They told him that there were five strong castles in the island, well provided, and held by English knights; that the islanders were in number 4000 or 5000 men, under a commander from England, who had been with them in the action; that the townsmen, labourers, and fishermen, inhabited a large town surrounded with a palisade and with good ditches: there they had their property, and their wives and children. Thither the greater part of those who escaped from the battle had repaired, and it was of old their resolution that, rather than allow an enemy to enter, they would all perish. The English fleet, they said, was at Plymouth waiting for a wind, and might be daily expected; it consisted of 200 sail well armed. He then held a council, and proposed that they should conquer the island and keep it, which would be better than laying it waste with fire. The Bretons replied, that this could not be done unless they got possession of the five castles; but that, if he pleased, they would plunder the land and leave it. He then said, "Let us go toward the town, and see if they are willing to fight; if they are not, we will then advise how to proceed."
In the morning, therefore, they recrossed the sands, and marched towards the town, which was about two leagues off. Some of the pillards were sent before to set fire as they went; and as the country was well peopled, abounding with houses, gardens, and corn, it
Among which were Castillian ships, urcas, cocas, and ballingers.
was a pitiful sight, says the Spaniard, to see it in flames,