Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?). The Chronicles of Froissart.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
The Campaign of CrecyHow Sir Godfrey of Harcourt Fought with Them of Amiens before Paris
On the river of Seine near to Rouen there was the earl of Harcourt, brother to sir Godfrey of Harcourt, but he was on the French party, and the earl of Dreux with him, with a good number of men of war: but the Englishmen left Rouen and went to Gisors, where was a strong castle: they brent the town and then they brent Vernon and all the country about Rouen and Pont-de-l’Arche and came to Mantes and to Meulan, and wasted all the country about, and passed by the strong castle of Rolleboise; and in every place along the river of Seine they found the bridges broken. At last they came to Poissy, and found the bridge broken, but the arches and joists lay in the river: the king lay there a five days: in the mean season the bridge was made, to pass the host without peril. The English marshals ran abroad just to Paris, and brent Saint-Germain in Laye and Montjoie, and Saint-Cloud, and petty Boulogne by Paris, and the Queen’s Bourg: they of Paris were not well assured of themselves, for it was not as then closed.
Then king Philip removed to Saint-Denis, and or he went caused all the pentices in Paris to be pulled down; and at Saint-Denis were ready come the king of Bohemia, the lord John of Hainault, the duke of Lorraine, the earl of Flanders, the earl of Blois, and many other great lords and knights, ready to serve the French king. When the people of Paris saw their king depart, they came to him and kneeled down and said: ‘Ah, sir and noble king, what will ye do? leave thus this noble city of Paris?’ The king said: ‘My good people, doubt ye not: the Englishmen will approach you no nearer than they be.’ ‘Why so, sir?’ quoth they; ‘they be within these two leagues, and as soon as they know of your departing, they will come and assail us; and we not able to defend them: sir, tarry here still and help to defend your good city of Paris.’ ‘Speak no more,’ quoth the king, ‘for I will go to Saint-Denis to my men of war: for I will encounter the Englishmen and fight against them, whatsoever fall thereof.’
The king of England was at Poissy, and lay in the nunnery there, and kept there the feast of our Lady in August and sat in his robes of scarlet furred with ermines; and after that feast he went forth in order as they were before. The lord Godfrey of Harcourt rode out on the one side with five hundred men of arms and thirteen hundred archers; and by adventure he encountered a great number of burgesses of Amiens a-horseback, who were riding by the king’s commandment to Paris. They were quickly assailed and they defended themselves valiantly, for they were a great number and well armed: there were four knights of Amiens their captains. This skirmish dured long: at the first meeting many were overthrown on both parts; but finally the burgesses were taken and nigh all slain, and the Englishmen took all their carriages and harness. They were well stuffed, for they were going to the French king well appointed because they had not seen him a great season before. There were slain in the field a twelve hundred.
Then the king of England entered into the country of Beauvoisis, brenning and exiling the plain country, and lodged at a fair abbey and a rich called Saint-Messien near to Beauvais: there the king tarried a night and in the morning departed And when he was on his way he looked behind him and saw the abbey a-fire: he caused incontinent twenty of them to be hanged that set the fire there, for he had commanded before on pain of death none to violate any church nor to bren any abbey. Then the king passed by the city of Beauvais without any assault giving, for because he would not trouble his people nor waste his artillery. And so that day he took his lodging betime in a little town called Milly. The two marshals came so near to Beauvais, that they made assault and skirmish at the barriers in three places, the which assault endured a long space; but the town within was so well defended by the means of the bishop, who was there within, that finally the Englishmen departed, and brent clean hard to the gates all the suburbs, and then at night they came into the king’s field.
The next day the king departed, brenning and wasting all before him, and at night lodged in a good village called Grandvilliers. The next day the king passed by Dargies: there was none to defend the castle, wherefore it was soon taken and brent. Then they went forth destroying the country all about, and so come to the castle of Poix, where there was a good town and two castles. There was nobody in them but two fair damosels, daughters to the lord of Poix; they were soon taken, and had been violated, an two English knights had not been, sir John Chandos and sir Basset; they defended them and brought them to the king, who for his honour made them good cheer and demanded of them whither they would fainest go. They said, ‘To Corbie,’ and the king caused them to be brought thither without peril. That night the king lodged in the town of Poix. They of the town and of the castles spake that night with the marshals of the host, to save them and their town from brenning, and they to pay a certain sum of florins the next day as soon as the host was departed. This was granted them, and in the morning the king departed with all his host except a certain that were left there to receive the money that they of the town had promised to pay. When they of the town saw the host depart and but a few left behind, then they said they would pay never a penny, and so ran out and set on the Englishmen, who defended themselves as well as they might and sent after the host for succour. When sir Raynold Cobham and sir Thomas Holland, who had the rule of the rear-guard, heard thereof, they returned and cried, ‘Treason, treason!’ and so came again to Poix-ward and found their companions still fighting with them of the town. Then anon they of the town were nigh all slain, and the town brent, and the two castles beaten down. Then they returned to the king’s host, who was as then at Airaines and there lodged, and had commanded all manner of men on pain of death to do no hurt to no town of Arsyn, for there the king was minded to lie a day or two to take advice how he might pass the river of Somme; for it was necessary for him to pass the river, as ye shall hear after.