« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
castle of Oye. The garrison consisted of some seventy soldiers, twelve of whom sold their lives dearly, the rest yielded themselves to the duke's mercy. Unhappily he had given the place and the spoil to the Ghentese, and they immediately hung nine-and-twenty of the prisoners in front of the castle, and afterwards brought forth the remainder to suffer the same fate; but the duke interposed, offended with this inhumanity, and saved them.* The castle was rased. The whole army then proceeded to take post between the castle of Merk and Calais; and the duke, making an excursion before the town with his men-at-arms, obtained some advantage over a party of the garrison who sallied out against him; and his people drove away a large booty in cattle. The Picards then assaulted Merk, which was defended by sir John Gedding, with about 200 men. The outwork was carried: the garrison displayed the banner of St. George on the side toward Calais, rung all their bells, and added loud outcries, as if calling for speedy relief; but they prepared also manfully for defence. The assailants set a strong guard round the castle, lest they should escape during the night, and in the morning brought many great engines against the walls, damaged them in several places, and then Picards and Flemings made a joint attack. Three such assaults were effectually resisted, the English throwing down stones from the battlements, and making such good use of their bows, that the assailants were glad to retreat. This resistance was not protracted so long as to exasperate an enemy already but too much disposed to exercise their power with insolence and cruelty. When the garrison saw that no movement was making for their succour, they demanded a parley, and surrendered on the sole condition that they should not be injured in life or limb: they were sent to Ghent, there to be confined till they should be exchanged for any Flemings that might be taken. The common
CASTLE OF MERK TAKEN.
* Holinshed, 187. Monstrelet says, that of this second party, twenty five in number, four or five only were respited at the duke's request Sueyro hangs them all, and seems to approve the execution para exemplo y terror de los-que con poca gente se atrevian à tan grande exercito.
men hurried into the fort for the spoil; but some of the Ghentese stationed themselves at the gates, and taking every thing from the spoilers as they went out, laid all in a heap, saying, that the sheriffs of Ghent had ordered them to do so when night came, they loaded the whole in carts, and carried it off for themselves. In consequence of the complaints that were made, enquiry was instituted, and the offenders were brought before the sheriffs whose names they had abused, and they were sentenced to banishment from Ghent, and from the whole of Flanders, for fifty years. Yet, though these men were convicted of roguery against their countrymen, the sentence occasioned much murmuring, and had nearly produced a mutiny among the Flemings. Six men of that nation, and one Hollander, were found among the garrison: they were beheaded on the following day, and the fort was demolished.*
The army decamping, then fixed their quarters upon the ground where, it was pretended, Jacob van Arteveld had encamped during king Edward's siege of Calais. Some false tradition had, perhaps, been devised, with the view of encouraging the Flemings as by a good omen; for that demagogue had been murdered by the people a year before the siege.† The duke, with his knights and men-at-arms, pitched his tents nearer to the town. The day did not pass without a sharp skirmish, in which La Hire, who had distinguished himself when Joan of Arc was in her career of success, and who had just come to visit the duke, was wounded by an arrow in his leg. Many engines were planted to throw stones and balls into the tower: this was returned with interest from the ramparts; and after three vain assaults, the besiegers deemed it prudent to take up their quarters at a safer distance. Frequent sallies were made, and frequent skirmishes ensued, with various fortune, the Picards displaying great courage, even when they failed of success; but for the Flemings, the praise which Monstrelet be
*Monstrelet, 359-361. Holinshed, 187.
It is remarkable, that M. de Barante should have overlooked this, and repeated Monstrelet's statement.
SIEGE OF CALAIS.
stows upon them is, that they were not much afraid of the enemy, and thought if there were only three of them against one Englishman they should carry the day. The duke had two narrow escapes from death and from capture. One day, as he was reconnoitring, a cannonball killed four of his attendants close by; and shortly after, as he was riding along the coast to inspect some works which he had ordered to be constructed, he was saved from a party of English by the speed of his horse, and still more by the devoted fidelity of Jan van Platteels, who, instead of looking to his own safety, engaged the pursuers, and was taken prisoner, when he had the satisfaction of knowing that his master was in safety.*
Meantime, the sieur Jean de Croy, to whom the fortress of Balingen had surrendered on condition that the English should retire with part of their baggage, was ordered to besiege Guisnes. He got little profit there, says Holinshed, and did less harm. His force, however, was such, and his engines produced such effect upon the town, that the garrison thought it prudent to withdraw into the castle; and while that siege was prosecuted with little advantage, a detachment of the besiegers, under Robert de Saveuses, took the castle of Zantgate by capitulation, and regarrisoned it. All this while it was a cooling card unto the Flemings, still to see ships from England arriving in the harbour openly, before their faces, laden with provisions, munition, and men.” Their impatience, which, at first, vented itself in murmurs, broke out at length into loud complaints against the duke's council, and especially against aamiral Jan van Horne, seneschal of Brabant. The duke appeased them with gentle words, fair representations, and hopeful expectations: the fleet, he said, would soon arrive; he had letters announcing this; and if the wind had not hitherto been against them they would have sailed sooner. It was even more mortifying to perceive that the English seemed to consider themselves as much masters of the land as of the sea, and that every day they turned out their cattle to
* Sueyro, 282.
Monstrelet, 362. Holinshed, 188.
pasture as if in defiance of the besiegers. The Picards were such expert marauders, that this was not always done with impunity; and their occasional success exciting some little envy or emulation, about 200 of the Ghentmen, including some who were above the common rank, set out upon a forage in the marshes before Calais. They were seen from the town, and recognised by their dress: incontinently a sally was made; and the foragers were attacked with such vigour, that some twenty were slain, some thirty taken, and the rest fled to their quarters in all haste, and in such fear that they spread confusion in the camp. Want of discipline, indeed, was continually betrayed, to the grief and mortification of the duke. The Flemings were on the alert and under arms at the slightest alarm, or apprehension of alarm: any trifling occurrence, therefore, at any moment might set the whole army in motion, and the duke could do nothing to prevent this, or to establish a better order; "for these people," says Monstrelet, "would have every thing according to their own good pleasure.'
It was not long before a herald arrived from duke Humphrey, who delivered this bidding from his master, the duke of Gloucester, protector of England, to Philip duke of Burgundy; "that he would give him and his whole army battle where they then were, if they would tarry for his arrival; or if they decamped thence, that he would seek them in any other place within their own territories, wherever the duke might appoint, and that with speed, if God would vouchsafe him wind and weather." Philip of Burgundy made answer in the noble spirit of the times:-"Sir, say to your master, that his challenge is both honourable and reasonable; howbeit, he shall not need take the pains to seek me in my own country, for, God willing, he shall find me here till I have my will of the town, ready to abide him and all the power he can bring." After the herald had received this reply, he was treated with good cheer, and a cup with a hundred guilders was given him as a guer* Monstrelet, 364-366. Sueyro, 282.
don for his message. The duke had consulted only his own heart in returning this ready and becoming reply: he called a council on the morrow at the head quarters of the Flemings; and there, by master Gilles de la Voustine, his counsellor in the courts of Ghent, laid before the captains and nobles of Flanders the challenge which he had received, and his acceptance of it, entreating them, at the same time, as his true friends, to remain with him, and assist him in maintaining his honour. This they promised with unanimous good-will; and when the news was divulged, the nobles, who were ambitious of renown, hastened from all the neighbouring places to his camp, in expectation of a glorious day.*
At the same council it was determined to erect a high and strong bastile upon an eminence near the town, for the twofold purpose of commanding from thence a view of the movements within the walls, and of impeding the sallies of the garrison. It was mounted with sundry pieces of cannon, and manned with 400 troops under experienced leaders; Robert de Saveuses, whose military deserts had obtained for him the appellation of Le Bon, being one. This was greatly to the displeasure of the English, and they lost no time in attacking the new work; but it was so well defended, and reinforcements came to its support in such strength, that the attempt failed, and they retreated into Calais, leaving some dead. Much skirmishing ensued on the morrow and the following days at the barriers: in one of these affairs, the sieur de Plateaux was made prisoner, a half-witted knight, who, notwithstanding his folly, was a brave and resolute man in battle. On the 25th of July a fleet was descried, making towards the port. The duke mounted his horse and rode to the shore, eager to be certified that it was his own naval force, which had been so long and anxiously expected. A light vessel advanced as near as the surf would permit, and a man, jumping into the water, assured him of the joyful fact. The tidings occasioned a jubilant commotion in his dis
* Holinshed, 188. Monstrelet, 367. Sueyro, 282
SIEGE OF CALAIS.