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mand of the narrow seas. * That able and ambitious prince needed no admonishment to teach him the importance of a place which gave him entrance at any time into France; and the nation were not less per-suaded of the advantage of retaining a conquest which had been so hardly and honourably gained. The governor, sir John Ratcliffe, had no sooner despatched intelligence of the duke of Burgundy's designs to the king's council, than the earl of Montaigne, who was son to the duke of Somerset, and the lord Camois, were sent with 1500 men and "great foison of victuals," to reinforce and supply the garrison, while a large force was preparing to attack the besieging army. Thus strengthened, the English did not wait to be besieged in Calais, but made an attempt to surprise Boulogne. They found the French too vigilant to be surprised, and too strong to be assaulted; but they burned some of the shipping, and, carrying off what booty was within their reach, returned without loss. Soon afterwards they made a foraging party in the opposite direction, toward Gravelines. The Flemings in that quarter collected, against the advice of their leaders, insisted upon attacking them, and were defeated, with the loss of from 300 to 400 killed, and "full sixscore prisoners." Their next expedition was into the Boulonnois. It happened, that on the same night a part of the besieging force, which Jean de Croy, the bailey of Hainault, had assembled on the borders of Picardy, set out from a village called Le Wast, two leagues from St. Omer, on a like expedition into the English marches. Neither party knew of the other's intent, nor were they likely to have met; but when the bailey approached the English border, he sent out some men-at-arms, who were well acquainted with the country, to gain intelligence. They returned with news that they had fallen in with the rear of an enemy's detachment, near the bridge of Milay, about daybreak, and had reconnoitred them; had seen that * Libel of English Policy. Hakluyt, i. 187.
they were very numerous, and that they were advancing into the Boulonnois. A council was held; and the resolution was to pursue the English, in the hope of finding an opportunity for attacking them when they were engaged in plundering the villages; but if not, to give them battle wherever they might meet.
The scouts were not long before they descried the smoke and fires from villages and little towns, which marked the track of the English in their destructive inroad; but some prisoners fell into the hands of the English, who, being then informed that an enemy was at hand, and in considerable force, collected their men upon a rising ground between Gravelines and Campagne-les-Boulonnois. The greater part of their force was not seen, being upon the slope of the hill on the farther side, when the advanced party of the Burgundians began the action; and the main body, confiding in the seeming advantage of numbers, hastened on, eager for the engagement. From three to four score of the English on the summit were slain in the first charge, and the others took to flight. They were rallied on the other side of the declivity by their comrades ; the Burgundians, when they came to the brow, lost heart as well as hope at the unexpected sight of this larger body; halted, in dismay, for the arrival of their own main force; and in this state of mind, which prepared them for defeat, were resolutely charged by the English. Instantly they gave way, wheeled round, and fled with all speed towards Ardres, as the nearest place of safety. Thither they were pursued full gallop, even within the barriers, and some of them were killed close to the ditches of the town. Upwards of a hundred were slain or taken. Among the former was Robert de Bournonville, surnamed Le Rouge, and six other distinguished persons: among the latter were many men of note. Jean de Croy had been wounded by an arrow, and his horse killed. He, however, and the lord Denlez, made their way to the abbey at Lisle, sorely grieved at their defeat; and certain gallants, who had
AFFAIR NEAR GRAVELINES.
been knighted that day, won their spurs in a manner which would deprive them of all pleasure in celebrating the anniversary. The earl of Montaigne came out of Calais to meet the conquerors on their return, and gave them a most joyful reception: but he sharply reproved those who, by giving way at the commencement of the action, had put the host in imminent danger.
By this time the preparations + for the siege were complete, and the duke went, without any retinue of state, to Ghent and other places in Flanders, that he might expedite the march of the Flemish troops. Early in June, a general muster was made in Ghent of the force belonging to that city and its dependencies: they remained in the great market-place, where they had been drawn up, from eight in the morning till noon, and then marched out on the road to Calais: the duke accompanied them as far as the open country, and then went to Bruges, to hasten in like manner their contingent. The weather was so hot, that two of the Ghentese captains and several soldiers died of the heat. The duke had given strict orders that no marauding should be permitted; and, in consequence, while they halted at Armentieres, one-and-twenty men were hanged upon the trees in front of head-quarters for robbery. As they advanced, they took vengeance for the defeat of their countrymen in the affair near Gravelines, - not upon the English, but upon the property of the two persons who held the command in that unlucky affair, and who vainly represented that no blame was imputable to them, for the Flemings that day would neither listen to their advice, nor obey their orders. At Gravelines they were joined by the force from Bruges, Ypres, and other parts of Flanders. The carriages for
Holinshed, iii. 187.
* Monstrelet, vii. 348-3.2. Sueyro, ii. 281. +"To tell you what ordinance was now cast, what powder was bought, what engines were devised, what harness was provided, what victual was purveyed for this great enterprise, I will not cumber you in rehearsing every thing particularly, because the Flemings write that the provision was more than tongue could speak, or heart could think."-Hall, 181.
The sieur de Comines commanded this part of the army, and Jean de Comines commanded the force from Ypres. One of these was probably father to the historian.
SIEGE OF CALAIS.
the conveyance of their tents, and the baggage and stores, were out of number; and on the top of each, Monstrelet says, there was a cock to crow the hours. Very many peasants had been collected to draw the cannon and other engines, the artillery both of ancient and modern warfare being at this time in use. Here they were mustered before the duke and Richemont, the constable of France. There were full 30,000 men
wearing helmets * ;" and the constable is said to have been struck with admiration at the strength which the duke from one single province had brought into the field.
They formed, indeed, a formidable array, if an army were to be estimated only by its numbers, and the appearance of the men. One who was not well acquainted with the composition of that army, might have judged of it the more favourably, because the Flemings made no pretension to the pomp and bravery of war, but wore plain armour; and the regularity of their encampment was beautiful, the tents of every town having their separate quarter; and in these again the various trades being separately classed and subdivided into companies, each quarter had thus the resemblance of a town, and the whole appeared at a distance like a great city. But it was soon seen that with this civic regularity, neither the principle of military disciple was to be found nor of civil obedience. A hare ran through the Bruges part of the camp; the clamour which was set up was mistaken for an alarm; the whole force took the field; and when the cause of the disturbance was understood, the appearance of this poor frightened animal † was regarded as an ill omen. That presage was confirmed when they had crossed the river, and were about to encamp for the night at Tournehem: a tempest began, of wind, and rain, and thunder, and lightning: the lightning was deemed to manifest itself portentously over the town and towers of Gra
* Monstrelet, vii. 352-356. Sueyro, 282.
† Monstrelet says a wolf; but Sueyro says it was a hare, and notices the evil augury which was drawn from its appearance.
velines; and the force of the wind was such, that they could not pitch their tents, but were forced to take up their lodging upon the ground, and abide the brunt of the storm.*
The duke himself was confident of success: he had hitherto been fortunate in all his designs, and in this, which was the greatest enterprise that had been undertaken for many years, the popular feeling had thus far entirely corresponded to his wishes; so much did the Flemings seem to have the conquest of Calais at heart. In reliance upon this feeling, he had dismissed half his Picard and Burgundian men-atarms, against the advice of experienced counsellors, who warned him that, in case of danger, he would find a handful of gentlemen worth more than all the commons of Flanders. † Perhaps he thought that more danger was to be apprehended from quarrels between this part of his army and the Flemings than from any other cause; for the manner in which the latter asserted their superiority was likely enough to have provoked resistance. The Picards were so noted for their alacrity in pillaging, that their name had passed into a word of reproach. The Burgundians were not less expert in this branch of their military profession: but the Flemish commanders had set out with the determination of rigorously enforcing order in this respect; and, under the plea of enforcing it, the Flemish soldiers did not content themselves with replevying the spoil from the plunderers, but despoiled them of their own property also; and if complaint were made, the aggrieved party only drew upon himself additional chastisement. They suffered this in silence and in fear, "but it was most impatiently;" and if there had been any considerable body of their countrymen at hand, to have taken up their cause, the camp might soon have become a scene of bloodshed.
The first hostile operations were against the little
* Sueyrô, 282. Monstrelet, 356. Barante, vi. 392.