Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Froissarts Visit to England
By Sir John Bourchier, Lord Berners (c. 14671533)
TRUE it was, that I, Sir John Froissart (as at that time treasurer and canon of Chymay, in the earldom of Hainault, in the diocese of Liege), had great affection to go and see the realm of England, when I had been in Abbeyville, and saw that truce was taken between the realms of England and France, and other countries to them conjoined, and their adherents, to endure four years by sea and land. Many reasons moved me to make that voyage: one was, because in my youth I had been brought up in the court of the noble King Edward the Third, and of Queen Philippa his wife, and among their children, and other barons of England, that as then were alive, in whom I found all nobleness, honour, largesse, and courtesy; therefore I desired to see the country, thinking thereby I should live much the longer, for I had not been there twenty-seven year before, and I thought, though I saw not those lords that I left alive there, yet at the least I should see their heirs, the which should do me much good to see, and also to justify the histories and matters that I had written of them: and or I took my journey, I spake with duke Albert of Bavaria, and with the Earl of Hainault, Holland, Zeeland, and lord of Friez, and with my lord William earl of Ostrevant, and with my right honourable lady Jahane duchess of Brabant and of Luxembourg, and with the lord Engerant, lord Coucy, and with the gentle knight the lord of Gomegynes, who in his youth and mine had been together in England in the kings court: in likewise so had I seen there the lord of Coucy, and divers other nobles of France, hold great households in London, when they lay there in hostage for the redemption of King John, as then French King, as it hath been shewed here before in this history.
These said lords, and the duchess of Brabant, counselled me to take this journey, and gave me letters of recommendation to the King of England and to his uncles, saving the lord Coucy: he would not write to the king because he was a Frenchman: therefore he durst not, but to his daughter, who as then was called duchess of Ireland: and I had engrossed in a fair book well enlumined, all the matters of amours and moralities, that in four and twenty years before I had made and compiled, which greatly quickened my desire to go into England to see King Richard, who was son to the noble prince of Wales and of Aquitaine, for I had not seen this King Richard since he was christened in the cathedral church of Bourdeaux, at which time I was there, and thought to have gone with the prince the journey into Galicia in Spain; and when we were in the city of Aste,1 the prince sent me back into England to the queen his mother.
For these causes and other I had great desire to go into England to see the king and his uncles. Also I had this said fair book well covered with velvet, garnished with clasps of silver and gilt, thereof to make a present to the king at my first coming to his presence; I had such desire to go this voyage, that the pain and travail grieved me nothing. Thus provided of horses and other necessaries, I passed the sea at Calais, and came to Dover, the twelfth day of the month of July. When I came there I found no man of my knowledge, it was so long sith I had been in England, and the houses were all newly changed, and young children were become men, and the women knew me not nor I them: so I abode half a day and all a night at Dover: it was on a Tuesday, and the next day by nine of the clock I came to Canterbury, to saint Thomass shrine, and to the tomb of the noble prince of Wales who is there interred right richly: there I heard mass, and made mine offering to the holy saint, and then dined at my lodging: and there I was informed how King Richard should be there the next day on pilgrimage, which was after his return out of Ireland, where he had been the space of nine months or there about: the King had a devotion to visit saint Thomass shrine, and also because the prince his father was there buried. Then I thought to abide the King there and so I did; and the next day the King came thither with a noble company of lords, ladies, and damoselles: and when I was among them they seemed to me all new folks, I knew no person: the time was sore changed in twenty-eight year, and with the king as then was none of his uncles; the duke of Lancaster was in Aquitaine, and the dukes of York and Gloucester were in other businesses, so that I was at the first all abashed, for if I had seen any ancient knight that had been with King Edward or with the prince, I had been well recomforted and would have gone to him, but I could see none such. Then I demanded for a knight called sir Richard Seury, whether he were alive or not? and it was shewed me yes, but he was at London. Then I thought to go to the lord Thomas Percy, great seneschal of England, who was there with the king: so I acquainted me with him, and I found him right honourable and gracious, and he offered to present me and my letters to the king, whereof I was right joyful, for it behoved me to have some means to bring me to the presence of such a prince as the King of England was. He went to the kings chamber, at which time the king was gone to sleep, and so he shewed me, and bade me return to my lodging and come again, and so I did; and when I came to the bishops palace, I found the Lord Thomas Percy ready to ride to Ospring, and he counselled me to make as then no knowledge of my being there, but to follow the court; and said he would cause me ever to be well lodged, till the king should be at the fair castle of Ledes in Kent. I ordered me after his counsel and rode before to Ospring; and by adventure I was lodged in a house where was lodged a gentle knight of England, called sir William Lisle; he was tarried there behind the king, because he had pain in his head all the night before; he was one of the kings privy chamber; and when he saw that I was a stranger, and as he thought, of the marchesse2 of France, because of my language, we fell in acquaintance together; for gentlemen of England are courteous, treatable, and glad of acquaintance; then he demanded what I was, and what business I had to do in those parts; I shewed him a great part of my coming thither, and all that the lord Thomas Percy had said to me, and ordered me to do. He then answered and said, how I could not have a better mean, and that on the Friday the king should be at the castle of Ledes; and he shewed me that when I came there, I should find there the duke of York, the kings uncle, whereof I was right glad, because I had letters directed to him, and also that in his youth he had seen me in the court of the noble King Edward his father, and with the queen his mother.