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Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?). The Chronicles of Froissart.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Battle of Otterburn

How the Scots Won the Battle against the Englishmen Beside Otterburn, and There Was Taken Prisoners Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, and How an English Squire Would Not Yield Him, No More Would a Scottish Suire, and So Died Both; and How the Bishop of Durham and His Company Were Discomfited among Themselves

TO say truth, the Englishmen were sorer travailed than the Scots, for they came the same day from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a six English miles, and went a great pace to the intent to find the Scots, which they did; so that by their fast going they were near out of breath, and the Scots were fresh and well rested, which greatly availed them when time was of their business: for in the last scrimmish they reculed back the Englishmen in such wise, that after that they could no more assemble together, for the Scots passed through their battles. And it fortuned that sir Henry Percy and the lord of Montgomery, a valiant knight of Scotland, fought together hand to hand right valiantly without letting of any other, for every man had enough to do. So long they two fought that per force of arms sir Henry Percy was taken prisoner by the said lord of Montgomery.

The knights and squires of Scotland, as sir Marc Adreman, sir Thomas Erskine, sir William, sir James and sir Alexander Lindsay, the lord of Fenton, sir John of Saint-Moreaulx, sir Patrick of Dunbar, sir John and sir Walter Sinclair, sir John Maxwell, sir Guy Stuart, sir John Haliburton, sir Alexander Ramsay, Robert Collemine and his two sons John and Robert; who were there made knights, and a hundred knights and squires that I cannot name, all these right valiantly did acquit themselves. And on the English party, before that the lord Percy was taken and after, there fought valiantly sir Ralph Lumley, sir Matthew Redman, sir Thomas Ogle, sir Thomas Gray, sir Thomas Helton, sir Thomas Abingdon, sir John Lilleburn, sir William Walsingham, the baron of Helton, sir John of Colpedich, the seneschal of York and divers other footmen. Whereto should I write long process? This was a sore battle and well foughten; and as fortune is always changeable, though the Englishmen were more in number than the Scots and were right valiant men of war and well expert, and that at the first front they reculed back the Scots, yet finally the Scots obtained the place and victory, and all the foresaid Englishmen taken, and a hundred more, saving sir Matthew Redman, captain of Berwick, who when he knew no remedy nor recoverance, and saw this company fly from the Scots and yielded them on every side, then he took his horse and departed to save himself.

The same season about the end of this discomfiture there was an English squire called Thomas Waltham, a goodly and a valiant man, and that was well seen, for of all that night he would nother fly nor yet yield him. It was said he had made a vow at a feast in England, that the first time that ever he saw Englishmen and Socts in battle, he would so do his devoir to his power, in such wise that either he would be reputed for the best doer on both sides or else to die in the pain. He was called a valiant and a hardy man and did so much by his prowess, that under the banner of the earl of Moray he did such valiantness in arms, that the Scots had marvel thereof, and so was slain in fighting: the Scots would gladly have taken him alive, but he would never yield, he hoped ever to have been rescued. And with him there was a Scottish squire slain, cousin to the king of Scots, called Simon Glendowyn; his death was greatly complained of the Scots.

This battle was fierce and cruel till it came to the end of the discomfiture; but when the Scots saw the Englishmen recule and yield themselves, then the Scots were courteous and set them to their ransom, and every man said to his prisoner: ‘Sirs, go and unarm you and take your ease; I am your master:’ and so made their prisoners as good cheer as though they had been brethren, without doing to them any damage. The chase endured a five English miles, and if the Scots had been men enow, there had none scaped, but other they had been taken or slain. And if Archambault Douglas and the earl of Fife, the earl Sutherland and other of the great company who were gone towards Carlisle had been there, by all likelihood they had taken the bishop of Durham and the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I shall shew you how. The same evening that the Percies departed from Newcastle, as ye have heard before, the bishop of Durham with the rearband came to Newcastle and supped: and as he sat at the table, he had imagination in himself how he did not acquit himself well to see the Englishmen in the field and he to be within the town. Incontinent he caused the table to be taken away and commanded to saddle his horses and to sown the trumpets, and called up men in the town to arm themselves and to mount on their horses, and foot-men to order themselves to depart. And thus every man departed out of the town to the number of seven thousand, two thousand on horseback and five thousand afoot; they took their way toward Otterburn, whereas the battle had been. And by that time they had gone two mile from Newcastle tidings came to them how their men were fighting with the Scots. Therewith the bishop rested there, and incontinent came more flying fast, that they were out of breath. Then they were demanded how the matter went. They answered and said: ‘Right evil; we be all discomfited: here cometh the Scots chasing of us.’ These tidings troubled the Englishmen, and began to doubt. And again the third time men came flying as fast as they might. When the men of the bishopric of Durham heard of these evil tidings, they were abashed in such wise that they brake their array, so that the bishop could not hold together the number of five hundred. It was thought that if the Scots had followed them in any number, seeing that it was night, that in the entering into the town, and the Englishmen so abashed, the town had been won.

The bishop of Durham, being in the field, had good will to have succoured the Englishmen and recomforted his men as much as he could; but he saw his own men fly as well as other. Then he demanded counsel of sir William Lucy and of sir Thomas Clifford and of other knights, what was best to do. These knights for their honour would give him no counsel; for they thought to return again and do nothing should sown greatly to their blame, and to go forth might be to their great damage; and so stood still and would give none answer, and the longer they stood, the fewer they were, for some still stale away. Then the bishop said: ‘Sirs, all things considered, it is none honour to put all in peril, nor to make of one evil damage twain. We hear how our company be discomfited, and we cannot remedy it: for to go to recover them, we know not with whom nor with what number we shall meet. Let us return fair and easily for this night to Newcastle, and to-morrow let us draw together and go look on our enemies.’ Every man answered: ‘As God will, so be it.’ Therewith they returned to Newcastle. Thus a man may consider the great default that is in men that be abashed and discomfited: for if they had kept them together and have turned again such as fled, they had discomfited the Scots. This was the opinion of divers; and because they did not thus, the Scots had the victory.