Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Jean Froissart > The Chronicles of Froissart
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Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?).  The Chronicles of Froissart.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
The Campaign of Crecy
 
How the French King Followed the King of England in Beauvoisinois
 
 
NOW let us speak of King Philip, who was at Saint-Denis and his people about him, and daily increased. Then on a day he departed and rode so long that he came to Coppegueule, a three leagues from Amiens, and there he tarried. The king of England being at Airaines wist not where for to pass the river of Somme, the which was large and deep, and all bridges were broken and the passages well kept. Then at the king’s commandment his two marshals with a thousand men of arms and two thousand archers went along the river to find some passage, and passed by Longpré, and came to the bridge of Remy, 1 the which was well kept with a great number of knights and squires and men of the country. The Englishmen alighted afoot and assailed the Frenchmen from the morning till it was noon; but the bridge was so well fortified and defended, that the Englishmen departed without winning of anything. Then they went to a great town called Fountains on the river of Somme, the which was clean robbed and brent, for it was not closed. Then they went to another town called Long-en-Ponthieu; they could not win the bridge, it was so well kept and defended. Then they departed and went to Picquigny, and found the town, the bridge, and the castle so well fortified, that it was not likely to pass there: the French king had so well defended the passages, to the intent that the king of England should not pass the river of Somme, to fight with him at his advantage or else to famish him there.  1
  When these two marshals had assayed in all places to find passage and could find none, they returned again to the king, and shewed how they could find no passage in no place. The same night the French king came to Amiens with more than a hundred thousand men. The king of England was right pensive, and the next morning heard mass before the sun-rising and then dislodged; and every man followed the marshals’ banners and so rode in the country of Vimeu approaching to the good town of Abbeville, and found a town thereby, whereunto was come much people of the country in trust of a little defence that was there; but the Englishmen anon won it, and all they that were within slain, and many taken of the town and of the country. The king took his lodging in a great hospital 2 that was there. The same day the French king departed from Amiens and came to Airaines about noon; and the Englishmen were departed thence in the morning. The Frenchmen found there great provision that the Englishmen had left behind them, because they departed in haste. There they found flesh ready on the broaches, bread and pasties in the ovens, wine in tuns and barrels, and the tables ready laid. There the French king lodged and tarried for his lords.  2
  That night the king of England was lodged at Oisemont. At night when the two marshals were returned, who had that day overrun the country to the gates of Abbeville and to Saint-Valery and made a great skirmish there, then the king assembled together his council and made to be brought before him certain prisoners of the country of Ponthieu and of Vimeu. The king right courteously demanded of them, if there were any among them that knew any passage beneath Abbeville, that he and his host might pass over the river of Somme: if he would shew him thereof, he should be quit of his ransom, and twenty of his company for his love. There was a varlet called Gobin Agace who stepped forth and said to the king: ‘Sir, I promise you on the jeopardy of my head I shall bring you to such a place, whereas ye and all your host shall pass the river of Somme without peril. There be certain places in the passage that ye shall pass twelve men afront two times between day and night: ye shall not go in the water to the knees. But when the flood cometh, the river then waxeth so great, that no man can pass; but when the flood is gone, the which is two times between day and night, then the river is so low, that it may be passed without danger both a-horseback and afoot. The passage is hard in the bottom with white stones, so that all your carriage may go surely; therefore the passage is called Blanche-taque. An ye make ready to depart betimes, ye may be there by the sun-rising.’ The king said: ‘If this be true that ye say, I quit thee thy ransom and all thy company, and moreover shall give thee a hundred nobles.’ Then the king commanded every man to be ready at the sound of the trumpet to depart.  3
 
Note 1. Pont-à-Remy, corrupted here into ‘bridge of Athyne.’ [back]
Note 2. That is, a house of the knights of Saint John. [back]
 

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