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 Battle of Otterburn
 
How the Earl James Douglas by His Valiantness Encouraged His Men, Who Were Reculed and in a Manner Discomfited, and in His So Doing He Was Wounded to Death
 
 
KNIGHTS and squires were of good courage on both parties to fight valiantly: cowards there had no place, but hardiness reigned with goodly feats of arms, for knights and squires were so joined together at hand strokes, that archers had no place of nother party. There the Scots shewed great hardiness and fought merrily with great desire of honour: the Englishmen were three to one: howbeit, I say not but Englishmen did nobly acquit themselves, for ever the Englishmen had rather been slain or taken in the place than to fly. Thus, as I have said, the banners of Douglas and Percy and their men were met each other, envious who should win the honour of that journey. At the beginning the Englishmen were so strong that they reculed back their enemies: then the earl Douglas, who was of great heart and high of enterprise, seeing his men recule back, then to recover the place and to shew knightly valour he took his axe in both his hands, and entered so into the press that he made himself way in such wise, that none durst approach near him, and he was so well armed that he bare well off such strokes as he received. 1 Thus he went ever forward like a hardy Hector, willing alone to conquer the field and to discomfit his enemies: but at last he was encountered with three spears all at once, the one strake him on the shoulder, the other on the breast and the stroke glinted down to his belly, and the third strake him in the thigh, and sore hurt with all three strokes, so that he was borne perforce to the earth and after that he could not be again relieved. Some of his knights and squires followed him, but not all, for it was night, and no light but by the shining of the moon. The Englishmen knew well they had borne one down to the earth, but they wist not who it was; for if they had known that it had been the earl Douglas, they had been thereof so joyful and so proud that the victory had been theirs. Nor also the Scots knew not of that adventure till the end of the battle; for if they had known it, they should have been so sore despaired and discouraged that they would have fled away. Thus as the earl Douglas was felled to the earth, he was stricken into the head with an axe, and another stroke through the thigh: the Englishmen passed forth and took no heed of him: they thought none otherwise but that they had slain a man of arms. On the other part the earl George de la March and of Dunbar fought right valiantly and gave the Englishmen much ado, and cried, ‘Follow Douglas,’ and set on the sons of Percy: also earl John of Moray with his banner and men fought valiantly and set fiercely on the Englishmen, and gave them so much to do that they wist not to whom to attend.  1
 
Note 1. ‘No man was so well armed that he did not fear the great strokes which he gave.’ [back]
 

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