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PLYMOUTH BURNT BY DU CHASTEL.
. 9 their king was not then in a state of mind to be consulted on such a question, an access having seized him of that madness from which he never recovered. The commissioners by whom the overture was made then treated of peace; and a truce for six-and-twenty years was concluded, which was, in fact, a renewal of that for thirty years that had been made with Richard. The queen was shortly afterwards sent home, with all the jewels, ornaments, and plate that she had brought into England, and a large addition to them given her by the king; and she was married ere long to the son of the duke of Orleans.*
This accommodation with the French government did not secure Henry against hostilities from the French coast. The count of St. Pol bore what an English chronicler has called " a deadly and malicious hatred " towards him: a just and honourable enmity it might rather be deemed, considering the near tie of marriage by which he was connected with the deposed and murdered king, if he had manifested it in some worthier way than by a predatory expedition from Harfleur to the Isle of Wight. The islanders collected soon in such strength to resist him that he was fain to return with little spoil, and some loss of reputation.† A more A.D. successful descent was made the same year, near Ply- 1403. mouth, by the sieur du Chastel, from Bretagne, with a great company of Normans and Bretons: they entered that town, remained there some four-and-twenty hours, plundered it, set it on fire, and carried off their pillage and their prisoners. This provoked a spirit of resentful enterprise. The west countrymen set forth a fleet under William Wilford; and the king appears to have commissioned him, as a likely means for obtaining some relief in his present want of money. Wilford took forty lawful prizes, laden with iron, oil, soap, and Rochelle wine, to the amount of 1000 tuns, upon the coast of Bretagne; forty more vessels he burnt: landing at Pennarch, he laid the country waste for some miles *Holinshed, iii. 18.
+ Ibid. 22.
+ Fabyan, 571.
around, and did the same on a second descent at St. Matthew's, which town he fired, thus retaliating for what had been done at Plymouth.* But vengeance was promptly taken for this, if this were the same fleet which the admiral of Bretagne, with the sieur du Chastel, the sieur du Bois, and some 1200 men of arms, in thirty ships, encountered off St. Matthew's, and defeated, after three hours' action, taking one carrack, forty ships, and 2000 prisoners, the greater part of whom they threw overboard, those only being spared who promised to ransom their lives, and appeared able to make good the engagement. † The French, that they might not seem slow to such mischiefs, made, in the winter, another attempt upon the Isle of Wight they disembarked about 1000 men there, and had " got together a great booty of cattle," when the people came upon them in such strength that they were driven to their ships, leaving behind them their A.D. prey, and no small number of their comrades. A third 1404. attempt was made upon the same place, with more
force, but with no better speed. What is called a great navy appeared off the island, and sent on shore to demand a specific sum, in the name of king Richard, and queen Isabel his wife. The islanders replied, that king Richard was dead, and the queen had been sent home to her own country; on that score, therefore, there was nothing to be demanded from them, and nothing would they pay but if the French desired to fight, they might land without opposition, and have six hours allowed them to refresh and make themselves ready, and at the end of that time they should not fail to have battle: when the French heard this stout answer, they thought it best to decline the invitation, and return without any farther attempt.‡
* Speed, 618. Holinshed, iii. 27.
+ Monstrelet, c. 12.
Holinshed, iii. 27, 28. This must be the expedition which Monstrelet speaks of in his 19th chapter. St. Pol commanded, collected about 1600 men at arms, with many nobles, at Abbeville, and embarked at Harfleur, having there commended themselves to the protection of St. Nicholas. While they were setting fire to some miserable villages in the Isle of Wight, a priest, he says, came and deluded the count with proposing to pay a large
DU CHASTEL KILLED AT DARTMOUTH.
The sieur du Chastel did not come off so easily from another expedition to the west coast, which he made in company with the admiral of Bretagne. That commander had taken some good English prizes laden with wine in the preceding year, and that success had encouraged him. They sailed, with thirty ships and 1200 men at arms, from St. Maloes, and landed near Dartmouth; where, both by land and by water, they met with a reception which they had little expected. The people of the country round came to the aid of the townsmen, and defeated them "in plain fight:" the women, it is said, “by hurling of flints and pebbles, and by such other artillery, greatly advanced their husbands' and kinsfolks' victory.' An English fleet, which arrived in good time, captured many of the vessels. The sieur du Chastel, his two brothers, and some 400 men, were slain. Orders were despatched by the king, that none of the prisoners should be sent out of the kingdom without his special license*; and this was followed by instructions that Bertram de Guytyn, Jehan Gaudyn, and Olivier Arall, who are called knights, Tange de Chastell, Henry de Chastell, and a certain Welsh esquire, should be sent to the king, that he might converse with them, and learn from them as much as he could concerning the secrets and devices of his enemies. † Accordingly they were conducted to London, by the boisterous troop of plain west-countrymen who had captured them, and who now presented them to the king, "praying that they might reap some commodity by their captives. It was but reason," says Speed: "wherefore the king, who took pleasure to talk with the lusty western men, himself caused their purses to be stuffed with golden coin, reserving the prisoners
ransom for the island. St. Pol too easily listened; for it was a device on the part of the priest to amuse him with words, until the English should arrive and give them battle; and when the count discovered this, he reembarked in haste,
The order was repeated some weeks afterwards, and addressed also to the baileys of Falmouth and of Weymouth.-Rymer, viii. 362.
to repay himself with advantage out of their ransoms.' Half the ransom was the king's share, and in this instance he made a grant of it to the queen.†
Some of the enemy were captured the same year in an unsuccessful descent upon the Dorsetshire coast, near Portland, and a great dispute concerning the prisoners arose among the captors. They were, however, wise enough to refer it to the sheriff and other persons of authority at Weymouth, and the decision was, that, for the sake of peace and good-will, a tenth of whatever money might be raised, either by selling or ransoming the prisoners, should be distributed among those who, having been engaged in the fight, had not been so fortunate as to secure any prisoners for themselves. This award was confirmed by the king, but with a proviso, that it was not to be taken as a precedent in any like case thereafter.
In the winter of the same year, great damage was done in Kent§, by the waters overflowing the sea banks, during a storm, in which Flanders suffered more than in any former inundation whereof any remembrance had been preserved; a tract of four-and-twenty miles in length was lost there with all its cattle and inhabitants, neither sea-wall, dykes, nor dams being able to resist the force of the waves, impelled by a tempestuous north wind. Much of the land about Damma and Sluys, which, with so much industry, had been reclaimed from the sea, was then lost. The Spanish historian of Flanders ¶ observes, upon this occasion, that no like portion of territory in the world could have compared with this in wealth and strength, had it not been for the frequent losses which it sustained from this cause, and for the destruction which the people brought upon themselves by their seditions. The Flemings were, indeed, the most turbulent as well as the
* Monstrelet, c. 14. Fabyan, 571. Holinshed, iii. 29. Speed, 618. Camden, 29.
+ Rymer, viii. 382. Holinshed, iii. 32. Sueyro, ii, 55.
Rymer, viii. 356.
]] Gabbema. Nederlandre Watervloeden, 145.
most industrious of men. Even the dear desire of peace with England, which, as a mercantile people, they had so often expressed, and sometimes acted upon, in opposition to their courts, was counteracted, at this time, by some of those restless adventurers who looked upon war or piracy as the easiest way to wealth, and cared not by which denomination the predatory course of life that they pursued might properly be called. They had some pretext for their vocation before the truce between England and France was renewed; the duke of Orleans, in whom the management of affairs during the king's malady was vested, having refused to let Flanders, as a dependency of France, remain neutral.* Corsairs
accordingly had been fitted out in all the Flemish ports: they captured many English vessels which were laden with wool, and bound for Zeeland; and, with a ferocity that belonged to the national character, they hung such of the sailors as were not put to the sword. † The English revenged this by a destructive descent upon Cadsant, having increased their own force by hiring some ships of the Hollanders and Zeelanders. Against these latter the Flemish government made war in a way as effectual as it was easy, by seizing all the property belonging to Holland and Zeeland subjects in Flanders; and this soon led to an agreement there. ‡
But the English, as they had more cause for hostility, were also better enabled to carry it on. With them it was not an affair of individual interests. The king, provoked at the insults which St. Pol and the Bretons had committed upon his coast, and at the cruelties which the Flemings had committed upon his people, sent out a fleet under his son, the lord Thomas of Lancaster, afterwards duke of Clarence, to revenge these injuries, "either by battle or depopulation of the sea coasts." He, coasting along, and landing "divers times, fired ships, burnt towns, and destroyed people, without favour or mercy." Then entering the Zwijn,
*Sueyro, ii. 56.
+ Speed, 619. Holinshed, ii. 29.