« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
The English government was apprised that an attempt was likely to be made upon Calais. The intelligence was either disbelieved or disregarded; and when Philip sent the like advices to his queen, and proposed to reinforce the garrison, which was much too weak for the defence of such a place, with a body of Spanish troops, the offer, from a jealousy as groundless as it was ill-timed, was declined.
The plan had been formed by the seigneur de 1558. Senarpont, the king's lieutenant in Picardy, and communicated by him to admiral Coligny and the constable Montmorency; and, if the battle of St. Quentin had proved favourable to the French, the latter was immediately to have undertaken it. After the loss of that battle, the greatest exertions were made for bringing another army into the field. The duc de Guise was appointed to the command; it was determined in council not to employ this force in attempting to recover the places which the Spaniards had recently taken, because they were well fortified and supplied; and, moreover, there was reason to apprehend that the soldiers would take the field without hope of victory, if they were to engage near the scene of their late overthrow. On the other hand, the very confidence of the English afforded good prospect of succeeding in an attack upon Calais, and success there would abundantly compensate for all their losses. There is a spirit of miserable economy, which oftentimes proves, in state affairs, more costly than even a prodigal expenditure: Calais was thought secure from assault during the winter, and, for that reason, its garrison was reduced to one third in the winter months. The lord deputy Wentworth represented the danger of thus depriving it of the means of defence; but his representations were treated with contempt, and the court of France failed not to profit by an imprudence which could not be concealed. Early in November, Strozzi and d'Elbene reconnoitred the place and all its adjacent forts: they went in disguise, and performed their object perfectly. The attention of
the Spaniards was diverted by movements in Champagne, as if Luxemburg and Arlon were threatened. Guise, meantime, made it appear that he was engaged in victualling the castle of Dourlan, and afterwards, in storing and reinforcing the garrisons of Ardres and Boulogne; but, having secretly brought together his forces, A. D. he entered the English pale suddenly on New Year's 1559. day; and, sending one part of his army along the downs to Risebank, marched with the other to Nieulay, or Newnham Bridge, and, attacking in great force a little outwork at the village of St. Agatha, at the entrance of the causeway leading to that fort, got possession of it without difficulty, the garrison taking flight to Newnham. Thither he followed, commenced his approaches, and had his batteries ready to open by daybreak.*
GUISE ENTERS THE ENGLISH PALE.
This first success, as it encouraged the French, is said to have disheartened the English. They had cause to be disheartened; the lord deputy knew that he could spare no assistance for the defence of the outworks, and therefore ordered the captain at Newnham, as soon as the place should be seriously attacked, to bring off his This, accordingly, was done; and, at the same time, Risebank surrendered with its garrison. Thus, on the third morning, Guise had gained possession of two most important posts, one commanding the entrance of the harbour, the other the other the approach across the marshes from Flanders. Having stationed part of his army to cut off the communication with Guisnes, he broke ground before the town, making his first attack against the Water Gate, and leading the besieged to suppose that this was the point at which his main efforts were directed, that they might "have the less regard unto the defence of the castle, which was the weakest part of the town, and the place where they were ascertained by their espials to win easy entry." While the garrison, being thus deceived, wasted their exertions in repairing a false breach, he planted fifteen double cannons
• Rabutin, Coll. des Mém. xxxix. 143–149. Thuanus, xx. 554. Holinshed, iv. 90.
against the castle; and they were served so well, that by the evening a large breach had been made. That same evening, M. d'Andelot was sent to fortify himself along the quay, by a deep trench, which, after draining the town ditch into the port, would serve as a covered way. And, to secure footing for his people after the ditch should have been drained (on the width and depth of which the garrison placed great reliance), he had brought thither by sea a great quantity of hurdles, well pitched, that, if need were, they might lie long in the water without rotting. Senarpont had devised these, as also a sort of pavaise (postes they were called), composed of hurdles, and made musket-proof*, light enough for the soldier to carry and fix before him into the ground. When the breach appeared practicable, about eight in the evening, at ebb tide, the sieur de Grandmont was sent out with some 300 harquebusiers to reconnoitre the preparations for defence, and dislodge those who might present themselves; at the same time, mareschal Strozzi, with a like number, and one or two hundred pioneers, was ordered to effect a lodgement at the other end of the port, and entrench themselves there, so as to ensure the command of the whole harbour; but this party was compelled to retreat. Meantime, the state of the breach having been ascertained, Guise, with his brothers d'Aumale and d'Elbœuf, advanced to the assault, and met the retreating party. Grandmont and Strozzi were ordered to commence the attack. Guise, who had forded the water when it was mid-deep, took his station at the foot of the breach; and the onslaught was made at a point where there had been no prepar
By being faced with a thick wadding of paper, according to the account which Rabutin gives, and which Thuanus has followed. "L'on avoit fait amener," he says, "grand nombre de pierriz et pailliz de bois très sec, pour estre plus forts et legers, de la haulteur d'un homme, et de l'espesseur de demy pied couverts au dehors de trois ou quatre doigts du papier colle l'un sur l'autre, chose que l'harquebusade ne peut faulser aisément; lesquels avoient par le bas un appuy au bout duquel estoit une pointe de fer longue d'environ un pied et demy bien asserée, pour le planter, afin qu'il entrást. plus facilement en terre quelque dure qu'elle fust. Et derriere iceux pailliz (que l'on a appellée postes) les harquebusiers pouvoient tirer plus assurénient par une petite lumière qui estoit au milieu.". Coll. du Mém. xxxix. 154.
ation for a personal defence; for the castle being considered by the rulers of the town to be of no such force as might resist the battery of the cannon (by reason it was old and without any ramparts), it was devised to make a train with certain barrels of powder, and, when the French should enter, as it was known that there they would, blow up the keep. In an evil hour had the lord deputy, trusting to this device, withdrawn all his people from the castle. The French came with their clothes "wringing wet," moistened the ill-laid train, saw the failure of the attempt to kindle it, and entered the castle without any resistance. Guise left his brothers to command them there, and exhorted them to keep their ground; while he, before the tide came in too fast, recrossed to the army, that he might succour them as soon as it was break of day. They, however, who had won the castle so easily, thought to have entered the town from it, and completed their victory; but the marshal, sir Anthony Agar, with a body of brave men, encountered and repelled them, and endeavoured to retake the castle; persevering, till Agar, with his son and heir, and some fourscore followers, had fallen in the gallant but unsuccessful attempt. * No farther hope was entertained of recovering the castle, or holding out in the town, till succour, of which no sign was seen and no tidings had been received, might arrive from England. The lord deputy offered to capitulate, and was fain to submit to whatever terms the conqueror might impose: they were, that he, and fifty other persons to be named by the duke, should remain prisoners, and be put to their ransom ; and the garrison and the inhabitants have their lives saved, and depart whither they would. As soon as the enemy entered, men, women, and children were commanded to leave the houses which were now no longer theirs, and assemble in the churches of Our Lady and of St. Nicholas, the lord deputy's house, and the belfry, and there remain till order could be taken for sending
* Rabutin, xxxix. 149-160. Thuanus, 555. Holinshed, 90–92.
SURRENDER OF CALAIS.
them away. There they remained four-and-twenty hours, without food or drink. Proclamation was then made, commanding every one who had either jewels, plate, or money about them to the value of a single groat, to lay it upon the high altars of these two churches, on pain of death if they attempted to conceal any thing. "A great and sorrowful offertory" was made in obedience to this stern command; " and while they were at this offering within the churches," the French rifled their houses. But Guise is not to be reproached for this. It was in requital for the saccage of St. Quentin; and the sins of their countrymen were visited upon the miserable inhabitants of Calais.*
Thus conducting his enterprise with marvellous speed and no less policy, the duc de Guise in less than eight days, and in the depth of winter, took that town which had cost Edward III., in the height of his power and of his renown, an obstinate siege of more than eleven months. The whole number of men, women, and children who were counted as they went out at the gate, amounted to 4200, of whom only 500 were soldiers; to so disproportionate a force had the keeping of this important place been intrusted. The English government, which had despised its timely information of the danger, made all possible exertion, when it was all-too-late. Troops were collected at Dover, and there and in the country round they remained (either for that their whole number was not assembled, or because there were not ships enough ready to pass them over, though the wind and weather would have served well,) till the town was taken; but such terrible tempests then arose, and continued the space of four or five days together, that the like had not been seen before in remembrance of man: wherefore some said that the same was done by necromancy, and that the devil was raised up and become French (" the truth whereof," says Grafton, "is known to God"); but very true it is that no ship could brook the seas by reason of those extreme storms and * Holinshed, 92.