« AnteriorContinuar »
were nere slayne or taken, but few that were saved. And Sir Galahaut was caryed from thence sore hurt to Perone; of that hurt he was never after perfectly hole; for he was a knycht of suche courage, that, for all his hurte, he would not spare hymselfe ; wherefore he lived not long after."-FROISSART, vol. i. chap. 207
They rade their horse, they ran their horse,
THE sieges, during the middle ages, frequently afforded oppor"tunity for single combat, of which the scene was usually the drawbridge, or barriers, of the town. The former, as the more desperate place of battle, was frequently chosen by knights, who chose to break a lance for honour and their ladies' love. In 1387, Sir William Douglas, Lord of Nithsdale, upon the drawbridge of the town of Carlisle, consisting of two beams, hardly two feet in breadth, encountered and slew, first, a single champion of England, and afterwards two, who attacked him together.—Fordum Scotichronicon, lib. xiv. chap. 51.
"He brynt the suburbys of Carlele
The wychtast that in the town wes than
That he feld twa stout fechteris,
And but skath went till his feres."
WYNTOWN'S Cronykil, book ix. chap. 3.
These combats at the barriers, or palisades, which formed the outer fortification of a town, were so frequent, that the mode of attack and defence was early taught to the future knight, and continued long to be practised in the games of chivalry. The custom, therefore, of defying the inhabitants of a besieged town to this sort
of contest, was highly fashionable in the middle ages; and an army could hardly appear before a place, without giving rise to a variety of combats at the barriers, which were, in general, conducted without any unfair advantage being taken on either part.
The following striking example of this romantic custom occurs in Froissart. During the French wars of Edward the Black Prince, and in the year 1370, a body of English, and of adventurers retained in his service, approached the city of Noyon, then occupied by a French garrison, and arrayed themselves, with displayed banners, before the town, defying the defenders to battle. "There was a Scottysh knyghte1 dyde there a goodly feate of armes, for he departed fro his companye, hys speare in hys hand, and mounted on a good horse, hys page behynde hym, and so came before the barryers. Thys knyght was called Sir Johan Assueton," a hardy man and a couragyous. Whan he was before the barryers of Noyon, he lyghted a-fote, and sayd to hys page, 'Holde, kepe my horse, and departe nat hens;' and so wente to the barryers. And wythyn the barryers there were good knyghts; as, Sir John of Roy, Sir Lancelot of Loutys, and a x or xii other, who had grete marveyle what thys sayde knyght wolde do. Then he sayde to them, 'Sirs, I am come hyder to se you. I se well, ye wyll nat issue out of your barryers; therefore I will entre, and I can and wyll prove my knyghthode agaynst yours; wyn me and you can.' And therewyth he layde on round about hym, and they at hym. And thus, he alone fought agaynst them, more than an hour; and dyd hurte two or three of them; so that they of the towne, on the walles and garrettes, stode still, and behelde them, and had great pleasure to regarde his valyauntnes, and dyd him no hurte; the whiche they myght have done, if they hadde list to have shotte, or cast stones at hym. And also the French knyghtes charged them to
1 By the terms of the peace betwixt England and Scotland, the Scottish were left at liberty to take service either with France or England, at their pleasure. Sir Robert Knolles, therefore, who commanded the expedition. referred to in the text, had under his command a hundred Scottish spears.
2 Assueton is a corruption for Swinton. Sir John Swinton of Swinton was a Scottish champion, noted for his courage and gigantic stature. [Sir John Swinton was one of Sir Walter Scott's own ancestors.-ED.1
let hym and them alone togyder. So long they foughte, that at last, his page came near to the barryers, and spake in his language, and sayd, 'Sir, come awaye; it is time for you to departe, for your cumpanye is departying hens.' The knyghte harde hym well, and then gave a two or three strokes about him, and so, armed as he was, he lept out of the barryers, and lepte upon his horse, without any hurte, behynde his page; and sayd to the Frenchmen, Adue, sirs! I thank you ;' aud so rode forthe to his own cumpanye. The whiche dede was moche praysed of many folkes."-FROISSART, cap. 278.
The barriers, so often alluded to, are described, by the same admirable historian, to be grated palisades, the grates being about half a foot wide. In a skirmish before Honycourt, Sir Henry of Flanders ventured to thrust his sword so far through one of those spaces, that a sturdy abbot, who was within, seized his sword-arm, and drew it through the barriers, up to the shoulder. In this awkward situation he remained for some time, being unwilling to dishonour himself by quitting his weapon. He was at length rescued, but lost his sword; which Froissart afterwards saw preserved, as a relic, in the monastery of Honycourt.—Vol. I. chap. 39. For instances of single combats, at the barriers, see the same author, passim.
But, wi' the poll-axe in his hand,
Upon the brigg sprang he.-P. 328, v. 2.
The battle-axe, of which there are many kinds, was a knightly weapon, much used in the middle ages, as well in single combat as in battle. "And also there was a young bachelor, called Bertrande of Glesguyne, who, during the seige, fought wyth an Englyshman called Sir Nycholas Dagerne; and that battayle was takene thre courses wythe a speare, thre strokes wyth an axe, and thre wyth a dagger. And eche of these knyghtes bare themselves so valyantly, that they departed fro the felde wythout any damage, and they were well regarded, bothe of theyme wythyn, and they
wythout." This happened at the siege of Rennes, by the Duke of Lancaster, in 1357.- FROISSART, vol. i. c. 175. With the same weapon Godfrey of Harcour long defended himself, when surprised and defeated by the French. "And Sir Godfraye's men kepte no good array, nor dyd nat as they had promised; moost part of theyme fledde ; whan Sir Godfraye sawe that, he sayde to hymselfe, how he had rather there be slayne than be taken by the Frenchmen; there he toke hys axe in hys handes, and set fast the one legge before the other, to stonde the more surely; for hys one legge was a lyterl crooked, but he was strong in the armes. Ther he fought valyantly and long; none durste well abyde hys strokes ; than two Frenchmen mounted on theyr horses, and ranne both with their spears at once at hym, and so bare him to the yerth; then other, that were a-fote, came wyth theyr swerdes, and strake hym into the body, under his harneys, so that ther he was slayne." -Ibid. chap. 172. The historian throws Sir Godfrey into a striking attitude of desperation.
BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.
THE SCOTTISH EDITION.
THE following ballad of the Battle of Otterbourne, being essentially different from that which is published in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, vol. i., and being obviously of Scottish composition, claims a place in the present collection. The particulars of that noted action are related by Froissart, with the highest encomiums upon the valour of the combatants on each side. James, Earl of Douglas, with his brother the Earl of Murray, in 1387, invaded Northumberland at the head of 3000 men, while the Earls of Fife and Strathern, sons to the King of Scotland, ravaged the Western Borders of England, with a still more numerous army. Douglas penetrated as far as Newcastle, where the renowned Hotspur lay in garrison. In a skirmish before the walls, Percy's lance, with the pennon, or guidon, attached to it, was taken by Douglas-as most authors affirm, in a personal encounter betwixt the two heroes. The Earl shook the pennon aloft, and swore he would carry it as his spoi!