William Marshal
The capture of Le Mans and the flight of Henry II

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The following section details the French capture of Le Mans in 1189.  War had broken out between Henry II against his son Richard and Philip Augustus, King of France.  Henry had gathered his forces, including William, at Le Mans, while Richard and Philip were capturing castles in the area.  They decided to make a secret march against Le Mans, in hopes of catching the English King unprepared.  This engagement would be the last for Henry II, as after his flight from the city he died, leaving the crown to Richard (the Lionheart):


The King of England, there in Le Mans,
Al Mans fu li reis d'Engletere
was furious to be losing his lands.
Molt iriez, qu'il perdeit sa terre;
He called for William Marshal,
Si apela le Mareschal
who was very much pained
Willeaume, qi molt esteit mal
to see the King's anger and fury,
De l'ire a del corruz li rei,
and Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
E de Bruillon seignor Guifrei
and his brother with him,
E son frere ensemblë o lui,
and Sir Peter fitz Guy,
E seignor Peron le filz Gui,
and Sir Robert de Souville,
E seignor Robert de Sovile,
who preferred town business
Qui meilz se baratout en vile
to fighting business, that is all I can say,
Qu'as chans, ge ne sai qu'en die el,
and he was marshal of the King's household.
S'ert il mareschals de l'ostel.
The King told them to rise in the morning
Si lor dist qu'al matin levassent
and go to inspect the French army
E que l'ost sorveeir alassent
and see in what direction it would march.
E quel part il se voldrent traire.
And they, fully prepared to do
E cil, qui bien le voldrent faire
as he wished, rose early.
A son talent, matin leverent;
They donned their light armour,
De lor armeüres s'armerent
so that they could travel more easily,
Linges, por legierement corre
whether to chase the opposition or rescue their own men.
Ou por chacier o por rescorre;
They all armed themselves in the early morning.
Par matinet s'armerent tuit.
Full of merriment and gladness,
A enveiseüre, a deduit
they crossed the river Huisne.
Passerent outre la rivere
There was a very dense fog
De Wilengne; une nieule trop fiere
in the morning, which interfered
Fist al matin, qui fu contraire
with the business they had in hand.
A cel qu'il aveient a faire.
They rode on until they came upon
Tant esrerent qu'il s'enbatirent
their scouts and saw them;
Sor lor coreors e les virent;
this situation was not in their favour.
Cil gieus ne lor fu pas egals.
They then mounted their horses,
Lors monterent en lor chevals,
took up their shields and lances,
Lor escuz e lor lances pristrent,
and set off slowly on their way.
Le pas a la voie se mistrent.
Robert de Souville said
E Robert de Souvile dist
to the Marshal: "In Christ's name,
Al Mareschal: "Par Jhesu Crist,
my lord, if my advice were to be believed,
Sire, se creüz en esteie,
I would advise you in good faith
En bone fei vos loereie
that I should go to the King
Que j'alasse de si qu'al rei
and tell him at what great speed
E li deïsse a qel desrei
the King of France is riding to attack him."
Vent li rei de France sor lui."
"My lord, I will not allow you to go this day,"
"Sire, par mei n'irez vos hui,"
said the Marshal, "to inform him of that,
Fait li Mareschal, "ce conter,
since it could not achieve anything worthwhile.
Ne porreit a nul bien munter;
Instead, my advice is that I go
Einz irai, si com gel lou,
with Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
E sire Guifrei de Brislou
to see what manner of men those riders are
Veeir quel gent ce sunt qui vienent,
and how they are conducting themselves."
Si vesrom com il se contienent."
They climbed up a little mound,
Un molt petit tertre monterent,
and saw from where they were
Si virent de la ou il erent
the whole army of the King of France,
Trestote l'ost li rei de France,
which was riding in vast numbers
Qui chivalchot a grant pussance
so close to them that, if a man had got one handy,
Si pres d'els que d'une arbaleste
he could have hit them with a cross-bow bolt.
I traïst l'om, qui l'eüst preste.
"Geoffrey," said the Marshal,
"Guifrei," fait sei li Mareschals,
"let's go, for it would do us harm
"Alom nos en, qu'il sereit mals
to stay a moment longer."
D'arester en nule maniere."
Then they returned to their men
Lors vindrent a lor gent ariere,
and told their companions
A lor compaingnons reconterent
the news as it was.
Les noveles si com els erent.
Once more, Robert de Souville
Robert de Souvile autre feiz
said: "Marshal, it would be right for me
Dist: "Mareschal, il serreit dreiz
to go and tell this to the King."
Que j'alasse ce al rei dire."
"My dear lord, I shall not let you go,
"Ja par mei n'i irez, beal sire,
as I've told you already, by God's lance."
Par le gleive Dieu, gel vos di."
Then Geoffrey said: "Alas! Alas!
Lors dist Guifreis: "Ahi! ahi!
How sad and what a great pity
Com fu grant dels e grant damage
that Eumenidus didn't have such a messenger
Qu'Eumenidus n'out tel message
as you in his hour of need!
Com vos estes a son bosoing!
It was a bad thing for him that you were so far away;
Mal fu que trop li fustes loing;
he could really have used you."
Molt li eüssiez grant mestier."
The knights laughed at this.
Lors s'en ristrent li chevalier.
Sir Geoffrey de Brûlon
Missires Guifreis de Bruslou
said to the Marshal: "I advise you that,
Dist al Mareschal: "Ge vos lou,
since these scouts are coming so close
Quant cist coreor si pres vienent,
and are not paying heed to anyone,
Qui de nului conte ne tienent,
we ride to attack them.
Que nos lor laisson chevals corre.
Before anyone could come to their aid,
Ainz que nus les peüst secore
there would be saddle-cloths slipping off,
I avreit ja peneals tornez;
and we would have reduced them to such a situation that,
Sis avriom si atornez,
if only they could be caught by their bridles,
Qui as freins les porreit aerdre,
they would lose their hacks."
Qu'il sereient as roncins perdre."
The Marshal replied:
E li Mareschal respondié:
"We could have gained at the most,
"Tost porrom aveir gaaingnié,
perhaps, twenty or thirty hacks.
Puet estre, vint roncins ou trente;
However, we can have no expectation of anything worth while,
Mais nos n'avom ci nule atente,
since we've hardly any horses,
Quer nos n'avom gaires chevals;
and, so God save me, I think
E ge cuit, se ge seie sals,
that we never had such a need of horses,
Que unques en terre ou nos fumes
in whatever land we found ourselves,
De chivals tel mestier n'eüsmes
as we shall this day.
Comme nos avrom hui cest jor.
The King of France, without pausing for rest,
Li reis de France sanz sejor
is riding straight for Le Mans,
Chevalche e s'en vient dreit al Mans;
and the flanks of our horses
Bien tost tesgereient les flans
would surely be heaving, if we did as you suggest,
A nos chevals, se issi ert fait,
before we got to safety."
Einz que venisson a recet."
So, with that, they returned,
A itant si s'en retornerent;
arrived in Le Mans, and told
Al Mans vindrent, si reconterent
the King what they had seen
Al rei ce que veü aveient
and therefore knew for a fact.
E que certeinement saveient.
When the good King of England saw
Quant vit li boens reis d'Engletere
that the King of France, through his trickery,
Que eisi bareiout sa terre
was pillaging his land in this manner,
Li reis de France par sa gile,
he left the town in the company
Lors s'en eisi fors de la vile
of his barons; with the impending crisis in mind,
O ses barons; por tel besoingne
he had the bridge over the Huisne cut down
Fist depecier lo pont de Voingne
and the fords thoroughly staked,
E si fist les guez bien paler,
so that no man could cross there,
Que nuls hom n'i peüst aler,
be it on foot or horseback, without doing himself a mischief.
N'a pié, n'a cheval, sanz meschief;
Furthermore, he had ditches dug
E si fist feire de rechief
so that they would be unable to pass,
Fossez, que passer n'i peüssent    
whatever clever scheme they might have in mind,
Par nul engin que il seüssent,
for he thought it was a fact
Quer il cuidout por verité
that there was no other ford.
Qu'il n'i eüst nul autre gué.
As they were speaking about these matters,
Dementres que eissi parloient
they looked at the other side and saw,
De l'autre part gardent, si voient
beyond the river, the King of France
Outre l'eive li rei de France
riding with the whole might of his army.
Venir o tote sa puissance.
His intention was to wait and stay the night there,
Iloc voleit la nuit atendre,
so he had his tents pitched
Si i fist les pavillons tendre
at the edge of a wood called Le Parc,
Lez un bois qui a non le Parc,
at an arrow's distance that side of the river.
Sus la rivere al trait d'un arc.
And the Marshal said to the King:
E li Mareschal dist al rei:
"Sire, now listen to me.
"Beal sire, ore entendez a mei;
Their side have made camp,
Ceste gent qui sunt herbergié,
so my advice, in faith,
Par fei! si loereie gié
is that we go and rest our horses.
Qu'aillon reposer nos chevals,
In that way we shall be closer to them tomorrow,
Si serom demain plus pres d'als,
we shall be able to see what they intend to do
Que nos vesron qu'il voldront faire
and shall gain knowledge of their situation."
E nos kenostrons lor afaire."
"By God! Marshal," said the King,
"Par Deu! Mareschal," dist li reis,
you speak well and like a courtly man."
"Vos dites bien e que corteis."
After this exchange of words, they went
A ces paroles s'en alerent
into the town, and decided that,
En la vile, si deviserent,
if the King of France moved
Se li reis de France veneit
towards the town, they would
Envers la vile, qu'en fereit
burn everything outside the walls,
Tot ardeir defors la cité,
and that was what happened in truth.
E issi fu por verité.
The next day, without delay,
L'endemain sanz longe ademesse
they had mass celebrated very early,
Firent molt tost chanter la messe,
because they were in great fear of that vast army.
Que molt dotoent le grant ost;
The Marshal lost no time in arming himself.
E li Mareschal s'arma tost.
The King, quite unarmed and on horseback,
Li reis, a une porte aval,
left the town by a gate at the bottom
Toz desarmez e a cheval
and headed for the Maison Dieu,
Devers la Meison Dieu eissi;
but the Marshal behaved sensibly
Mais nel vout mie fere issi
and would not do the same,
Li Mareschal, si fist que sages;
for great injury could have befallen him as a result.
Creistre l'en peüst grant damages.
The King said: "Go on, take that armour off,
Li reis dist: "Kar vos desarmez,    
Marshal. Why are you armed?"
Mareschal; por qu'estes armez?"
The Marshal replied:
E li Mareschal respondi:
"If it please you, Sire, so much will I say,
"Si vos pleist, sire, itant vos di,
that I am very happy to be armed
A estre armé me pleist molt bien
and my arms don't cramp my style in the slightest.
Mes armes ne me nuissent rien.
I shall not remove my armour for the rest of this day
Ne me desarmerei imés
until I have discovered what burden
Devant qu'aie seü quel fes
we shall have to shoulder.
Nos couvendra a endurer.
An unarmed man cannot last out
Hom desarmez ne puet durer
in a crisis or a grave situation,
En bosoingne n'en grant afaire;
and we don't know what their intention will be."
Nos ne savom qu'il voldrunt faire."
The King replied: "Upon my faith!
E li reis respondi: "Par fei!
You won't be coming with me then."
Donc ne vendrez vos mie o mei."
After this exchange of words and views,
A telz paroles, a telz diz
the King made his son Count John,
Fist li reis desarmer son fiz,
a son he loved and greatly trusted,
Le conte Johan, qu'il amout
disarm himself,
E en qui il molt se fiout,
as he did lord Gerard Talbot,
E seingnor Girard Talebot
Sir Robert de Tresgoz,
E monseingnor Robert Tresgot
and Geoffrey de Brûlon.
E Guifrei de Bruslou ausi,
Indeed, all those who left the town
E qui unques o lui eissi
with him, disarmed themselves first,
De la vile se desarmerent,
and with him they rode beyond the Maison Dieu.
Outre la Meison Dieu alerent.
There, all those who were his trusted men
La s'esturent a un conseil
stopped to deliberate,
Tuit cil qui erent si feeil
and it was not long before they caught sight
E si virent sanz demorance
of the King of France's vanguard.
L'avant garde le rei de France;
They saw them riding over there many men abreast
Chevalchent par de la de front
and reaching the bridge,
Tant qu'il vindrent endreit le pont,
which had been deliberately broken to pieces.
Qui depeciez esteit de gré.
Nobody imagined there was a ford there,
Nuls hom ne cuidout iloec gué,
but they tested the water with their lances
Mais a lor lances i tasterent:
and discovered the best ford in the world.
Le meillor gué del mont troverent.
Ten knights rode forward until
Dis chevaliers tant s'avancierent
they had launched themselves across the ford.
Que utre le gué se lancierent;
Our side had been deceived in this matter.
Cist afaire nos genz deçut.
Robert de Tresgoz saw them
Robert Tresgot les aperçut
and said to the King: "My dear lord,
Si dist al rei: "Beal sire chiers, 
look, their knights are coming."
Vez ci venir lor chevaliers."
Gerard Talbot, being a wise man,
Girart Talebot, comme saive,
took up his shield and a lance,
Prist son escu e prist un gleive;
as one of their knights had come galloping forward
E un chevalier vint devant
well in front of the others.
Bien loing des autres galopant;
Sir Gerard met him and,
E missires Girarz l'encontre
as he did, he struck him such a blow
Si l'a si feru a l'encontre
on his shield that his lance was shattered
Sor son escu que il depiece
and flew into many bits.
Son gleive e vole en meinte piece.
Sir Richard fitz Herbert
Sire Richart li fiz Herbert
saw the blow well delivered, in sight of all,
Vit le cop bien fait e apert
by sir Gerard,
Que sire Girard aveit fait;
so he took up his shield, rode forward
Son escu prent, avant se treit
to take a lance in his hand,
E un gleive prent en sa main,
and galloped at full tilt
Si lesse corre tot de plein
towards another knight he saw coming.
Vers un autre qu'il vit venir,
He dealt him such a savage blow
Si l'asene de tel aïr
on his shield that his lance splintered
Sor l'escu que li gleives froisse,
and shattered right up to the fists he held it with.
De si qu'enz es poinz li escroisse.
And the worthy Marshal, I believe,
E li boens Mareschals, si kut,
as he stood there in front of the gate,
Devant la porte ou il s'estut
asked John of Earley
A Johan d'Erlee demande
for his helmet, told him to lace it up,
Son hielme, a lacier li comende
and said that those who had but lately
E dit qu'a drait repentant erent
taken off their armour were rightly sorry,
Cil qui oreinz se desarmerent,
and that now those who were unarmed
E qu'or vodreient estre armé
would be wishing they had their armour on.
Cil qui esteient desarmé.
John of Earley handed him
Johan d'Erlee li bailla
the helmet and very quickly laced it up.
Li hiealme e molt tost li laça;
The Marshal was all alone in front of the gate,
Cil estut devant la porte
and nobody was there to give him
Toz solz, que nuls ne li aporte
advice, help or assistance,
Conseil ne confort ne aïe,
but he defended himself and performed
E il se defent e aïe
as a good knight should
Comme boens chevaliers deit faire
when he is in such a situation.
Quant il est en itel afaire.
The French rode up to him
E li Franceis en lor venir
to launch a fierce attack,
Le vindrent durement ferir;
but he defended so well
E il se defendi si bien 
that they made no gains from him.
Que sor lui ne conquistrent rien;
And those standing on the wall above the gate
E cil qui sor la porte esteient
and on the parapet, shouted
E sor la britasche crieient
in a loud voice, in all directions:
Hautement, amont e aval:
"Over here, God is with the Marshal!"
Ça, Dex aïe al Mareschal!"
Baldwin de Béthune heard the words
Cil de Betune les oï,
and there was no misunderstanding on his part:
Bauduïn, pas nes mesoï,
it was an established fact
Kar si ert la chose establie
that he belonged to the Marshal's company,
Qu'il ert de sa conestablie
that he loved him beyond all others
E si l'amout sor tote rien,
as he had proved many times before.
C'esprova il mainte feiz bien.
Sir Hugh de Malannoy
Sire Hue de Malalnei
came to his side, as I've been led to understand;
I vint, si com g'entent e crei;
Sir Reginald de Dammartin,
Sire Renalt de Danmartin
who had no better acquaintance than the Marshal,
Qui n'aveit nul meillor veisin,
and who was later count of Boulogne,
E qui fu puis quens de Boloingne,
spurred to his side without delay;
I vint poingnant sanz nule essoingne;
and Hugh de Hamelincourt
E Hue de Hameleincort
did not come, he ran;
Ne vient pas, mes il i acort;
Sir Eustace de Neuville
Sire Eüstace de Novile
came galloping down through the town;
Vint poingnant contreval la vile;
Eustace de Canteleux for his part
Eüstace de Cantelou
made no small speed;
Ne se rehastout mie pou;
and, finally, Ralph Plomquet
Raol de Plonquet, c'est la fins,
and Sir Peter Mauvoisin
E sire Pierres Malvesins,
came out of the gate.
Cist eisirent parmi la porte;
The result was a good and fierce encounter,
S'i out bone meslee e forte,
not embarked on in a spirit of jest.
Qui ne commença pas a gieus.
And all of a sudden there was Sir Andrew
Estes vos que misire Andreus
de Chauvigny, a knight
De Chaveingny, uns chevaliers
from the company of the count of Poitiers
Des gens le comte de Peitiers,
and renowned for his deeds of great valour,
Renomez de haute proëce,
riding in the direction of our knights.
Dreit a nos chevaliers s'adresce.
If you had been there, you would have seen lances
La veïsiez grant bruiseïz
shattering on a great scale, and much clashing
De lances e grant chapleïz
of steel swords on helmets.
Sus hiealmes d'espees d'acier;
There was no word spoken there by way of threat,
La n'aveit mot del manescier
there were none of the usual gibes,
Ne des rampones avant trere, 
for there was much else to occupy them.
Asez aveient el a fere;
As a result of a fierce and hard-fought onslaught,
A forte meslee e a fiere
they drove our men back,
Remenerent nos genz ariere,
for they came on very fiercely.
Quer trop vindrent a grant desrei.
Sir Hugh de Malannoy,
Sire Hue de Malalnei,
who had distinguished himself in the combat,
Qui bien s'i esteit combatuz,
was knocked into the moat
Fu enz el fossé abatuz
surrounding the town, I believe,
De la vile, si com mei semble,
both he and his horse together.
Lui e son cheval tot ensemble.
The Marshal, in the company of Baldwin
Li Mareschal o Bauduïn
and Reginald de Dammartin,
E o Renalt de Danmartin
launched a vigorous attack on them,
Durement lor corurent sure,
driving them back in no time,
Sis reüserent en poi d'ure,
so that our side recovered some of the ground lost
E nos gens sor els recouvrerent
and forced them back
Si que par force les menerent
down the street,
Ariere tresk'emi la rue,
almost as far as an arrow travels.
Pres de autretant cum uns ars rue;
And I can tell you that, during the course of that retreat,
E si sachiez k'en cel retor
there were combats and fights on a great scale.
Out grant meslee e grant estor.
The Marshal stretched out his hand,
Li Mareschal tendi la main
took Sir Andrew de Chauvigny by the bridle,
Si prist seignor Andrieu al frein,
and led him away.
De Chaveingni, si l'en mena;
He took him as far as the gate,
Jusqu'a la porte l'amena,
and the horse, which was moving fast,
Si que li chevals qui tost porte
already had its head inside the gate
Out la teste dedenz la porte.
when someone on the parapet above
Uns de la bretesche la sus
threw down a huge stone
Jeta une grant piere jus
which struck Sir Andrew
S'asena mon seingnor Andrieu
on the arm. It was a very cruel blow to him,
El braz, trop li fist malveis gieu,
because his arm was broken in two.
K'en deus meitiez li pecia.
Someone else threw down
E uns autres jus renveia
a big stone, one of sizeable proportion,
Une pere grant e honeste;
which hit his horse's head.
Son chival feri en la teste,
The horse reared up, and the Marshal was left
Si hernua si ke li freins
with the bridle in his hands.
Remist al Mareschal es mains,
The horse turned back,
E li chevals torna ariere;
and Sir Andrew left scot-free,
Si s'en parti en tel maniere
although he had received a
Misire Andreus tot quitement  
very bad wound.
Mais molt fu bleciez durement.
The Marshal threw the bridle through the gate
Li Mareschal jete en la porte
and a groom took it away.
Le frein, e un vaslet l'em porte,
He returned to the fray,
E retorna a la meslee,
which was still not at an end,
Qui encor n'ert pas desmeslee,
for nobody wanted to withdraw from it,
Quer nuls ne s'en voleit retraire,
so much was each man keen to perform well.
Tant tendeit chascuns a bien faire.
During the fight the Marshal took
En la meslee prist as mains
two others by the bridle, joining these
Deus autres dunt il mit les freins
close together. However, they played it so well
Pres a pres, mais si le joerent
that they cut free of their bridles and escaped,
Que par les freins li eschaperent
and so left the combat.
E partirent de la meslee,
My witness to this is John of Earley,
Testemoingne Johan d'Erlee
to whom, I understand, the bridles were handed over.
A qui, quit, li frein baillié furent.
Since those receiving the bridles tell the story,
Quant cil le dient quis rechurent,
it must be believed and treated
Come d'oïe e de veüe,
as heard and seen.
Dunc deit la chose estre creüe.
The damage was on such a huge scale
Teles furent les mesestances
that broken lances with their heads
Que retrois o les fers de lances
lay everywhere around,
Geseient amont e aval,
and one struck the Marshal's horse,
Ke un asena le chival
with the result
Al Mareschal en tel maniere
that it was wounded in one of its hind feet.
Quil meheingna del pié desriere.
The Marshal stretched out his hand
Li Mareschal tendi la main
and straightway took by the bridle
Si prist tantost parmi le frein
a man who was a very fine knight
Un qui molt ert boens chevaliers
from the company of the count of Poitiers,
Des genz le conte de Peitiers,
one Aimery Odart.
Qui out non Heimeriz Odart;
And he took him to some effect;
Mais cil ne prist il pas endart,
he led him away against his will,
Quer il l'en mena sor son peis,
that man who was born in the area of Loudun;
S'esteit il nez del Losduneis;
he held him firm and led him away
Bien le tint e tant le mena
as far as the gate.
Que en la porte l'amena,
At that point the King, completely unarmed,
Lors li vint li reis a l'encontre
rode up to meet him, and when he arrived,
Tot desarmez; kant il l'encontre:
he said: "Marshal, be in no doubt about it,
"Mareschal, or n'en dotez mie,
your splendid feat of chivalry
Vostre bone chevalerie
yet turn out to work badly for us before this day is out.
Nos porreit molt bien nuire encui.
much have I noticed,
D'itant aperceü me sui
that none of our other gates
Ke nule de nos autres portes
is as sound or as strong as that one,
Ne sunt si bones ne si fortes;
and you can rest assured
A itant vos poez aerdre
that we might well lose."
Que nos i porriom bien perdre."
"Sire," said the Marshal,
"Sire," fait sei li Mareschal,
"if they came inside, it would be bad for us,
Sis entroient ce serreit mal,
that should not be glossed over,
Ice ne fait pas a teisir,
but proceed as is your wish.
Mais or seit a vostre pleisir.
However, I would like to ask you
Mais itant vos voil amenteivre:
to take charge of the knight
Faites cel chivaler receivre
I have captured and take him away with you."
Que ge ai pris, sil vos an main."
"You yourself see to it
"Vos meïsmes pernez en main,"
that he is well guarded," said the King,
Fait li reis, "de lui ben garder
"and have him disarmed."
E si le feites desarmer."
At that the Marshal dismounted,
Lors descendi li Mareschals,
since his horse was maimed,
Que meshaigniez ert si chevals,
and he mounted the horse
Si est montez sor le destrier
he had taken along with its rider,
Qu'il out pris od le chivalier,
the latter being sent, without further ado,
E li chivalier, n'i out el,
to the Marshal's lodgings.
En enveia a son ostel;
He then rode forward with the King,
Puis ala avant o le rei,
who, to tell you the truth, in a violent
Qui par outrage e par desrei
and excessive manner, had the town outside
Fist alumer, por verité,
the walls set fire to.
La vile defors la cité.
When the King of France,
Quant li reis de France ce veit,
who had no desire to ride into the town yet,
Qui uncor nul talent n'aveit
saw this, without further delay
De torner i, sanz plus atendre,
he had his tents pitched
Fist tantost ses pavillons tendre
beyond the river, on the other side.
Outre l'ewe, de l'autre part;
He was pleased to see the town in flames.
Ce li est bel ke la vile art.
With a sorely troubled heart, the King rode
Li reis en veit en grant ennui
in the Marshal's company
E li Mareschal ovec lui
up and down the streets of the town
Amont e aval la cité,
which that day he lost from his patrimony.
Dont le jor fu desherité.
They saw a woman wailing
Une feme virent plaingnant
and weeping bitter tears,
E angoissosement plorrant
as she took her possessions out of her house,
Qui fors de sa meison meteit   
which was in flames.
Le suen, quer alumee esteit.
The Marshal, a tender-hearted man,
Li Mareschal, qui ert pitos,
was saddened and troubled by the sight,
En fu dolenz e angoissos,
and told his squires to dismount
Si fist ses escuiers descendre
and help her, without delay.
Pur lui aider, sanz plus atendre;
He himself dismounted
E il meïmes descendi,
and most gladly set about
Qui molt volentiers entendi
giving her help and assistance.
A lui aider e a secorre;
He was most willing to repair
Molt voluntiers voleit rescore
the harm done, as was his wont.
Li mal; tele esteit sa costume.
He picked up a feather quilt,
Lors prist une coute de plume,
which was alight underneath,
Qui par desoz ert alumee,
and the acrid fumes coming from it
S'en issi si forte fumee
caused him so much distress
Qu'il li torna a si grant grief
that he had to remove his helmet
Qu'oster li estut de sun chef
from his head, since the smoke trapped within
Son hielme, qu'enstorse i esteit
was doing him harm.
La fumee qui li nuiseit.
When the King rode into the town,
Quant li reis en la cité vint,
it so happened
Tele aventure lui avint
that he brought the fire with him,
Que li feus ovec lui entra
and the town caught fire
En la vile, si aluma
in three or four places.
La vile en treis lieus ou en quatre,
All those who were with him
Si k'onques nel porrent abatre
were completely unable to douse the flames,
Tut cil qui ovec lui i erent,
so they left things as they were and departed.
Ainz laissierent, si s'en alerent.
The King sent men into the town
Li reis enveia en sa vile
to summon the count of Mandeville,
Por le conte de Magnevile,
and the Marshal who was with him,
Si fu ou lui li Mareschals,
a man ever true and loyal,
Qui toz dis fu fins e leals,
and many of the other barons
E des autres barons asez
assembled there with him.
I out ovec lui amassez,
I believe that they made a rapid decision
E pristrent conseil, ça me semble,
to leave as one body;
Hastif d'aler s'en tuit ansemble;
with their equipment, they set off with the King
O lor herneis, ove le rei
for Fresnay.
S'avoierent vers Freesnei.
As they issued forth from the town,
Issi comme il eissirent fors,
the Marshal rode out
Li Mareschal s'en issi lors
completely unarmed:
De la vile toz desarmez, 
he was armed with nothing else
Quer il n'esteit de ren armez
save his doublet.
Fors de son porpoint solement.
Armed solely with this, he left the town.
Eisi s'en issi senglement;
And when those in the King of France's army saw
E kant cil de l'ost esgarderent
that Henry's men were departing
Que la gent le rei s'en alerent
and abandoning the town,
E que la cité deguerpirent,
they were pleased by the sight
Beal lor fu k'aler les en virent
and followed them in hot pursuit:
Sis suïrent a fine chace:
for when people run away, there are always plenty to give chase.
S'est qui fuie asez est qui chace.
The count of Poitiers mounted
E li quens de Peitiers monta
his horse, but armed himself with nothing
Sor son chival, einz ne s'arma
by way of accoutrements save a doublet
Fors d'un porpoint, sans plus de feste,
and an iron cap on his head,
Un chapel de fer en sa teste,
and he gave rapid chase.
Sis porsiwi isnelement
He caught them up, but
A els atainst, mais neporquant
others had done so ahead of him,
Autres l'ateinstrent avant,
for Philip de Colombiers
Quer Phelipes de Colombiers
was the very first to ride forward to attack.
S'avança devant toz premiers,
He was in the count's household
Qui de ses maisneienz esteit
and enjoyed a high reputation for feats of arms.
E qui grant pris d'armes aveit,
Forward he rode and struck a knight
S'ala un chevalier ferir
a very fierce blow on his shield.
Sor son escu de grant aïr.
When William des Roches, riding in the King's company,
Quant Willeaume vit le desrei,
saw the havoc,
Des Roches, qui ovec le rei
he turned back,
S'en alout, lors torna ariere;
and, with his sturdy lance still intact,
D'une lance forte e entiere
he struck Philip such a blow
L'ala ferir en itel guise
that the lance splintered and shattered up to his hand.
Que dusque es poinz peceie e bruise.
Seeing this, the count of Poitiers spurred forward
Li kuens de Peitiers vint atant
with great ferocity,
De grant aïr eperonant,
and he shouted to des Roches:
De celui des Roches escrie:
"William, it seems to me an act of folly
"Willeaume, ge tienc a folie
for you to remain here and make your stand.
Vostre sejor e vostre ester,
It can only do you harm to take up your position here;
Quer ci vos fait mal arester;
you waste your time on vain illusions,
Vos gastez le tens en alvesre,
and you would be better advised putting on a bit of speed."
Amendez vos couvient vostre esre."
The Marshal was not pleased
Al Mareschal ne fu pas gent
when he saw their men riding forward in this manner.
Quant il vit si venir lor gent;
Like the prudent and wise man he was,
A lei d'ome averti e saive
he took up his shield and his lance,
Prist tost sun escu e son gleive,
and spurred straight on to meet
Des esperons feri tot dreit
the advancing count Richard.
Al conte Richard qui veneit.
When the count saw him coming,
E quant li quens le vit venir,
he shouted out at the top of his voice:
Si s'escria par grant haïr:
"God's legs, Marshal!
"Por les gambes Dieu, Mareschal!
Do not kill me, that would be a wicked thing to do,
Ne m'ociez, ce sereit mal;
since you find me here completely unarmed."
Ge sui toz desarmez issi."
The Marshal replied:
E li Mareschal respondi:
"Indeed I won't, let the Devil kill you!
"Nenil!  diables vos ocie!
I shall not be the one to do it."
Kar jo ne vos ocirai mie."
This said, he struck the count's horse a blow
Si feri sor son cheval lors
with his lance,
De sa lance parmi le cors
and the horse died instantly;
Que il morut en es le pas;
it never took another step forward.
Unques avant n'ala un pas,
It died, and the count fell to the ground.
Ainz morut, e li quens cha_.
It was a fine blow, which came at an opportune moment
Ço fu beals cops; bien enchaï
for those riding ahead,
A cels qui devant s'en aloient,
since they had no other protection
Kar autre rescosse n'avoient
against death or capture,
Qu'il ne fusent ou mort ou pris,
these being the objectives
Kar issi l'avoient enpris
of those who could well have achieved such aims,
Cil qui bien le peüssent faire,
had it not been for this incident.
N'eüst esté iceste afaire.
The knights and soldiers vied with one another
Li chevalier e li servent
in their surge forward,
A qui enz ainz vindrent avant,
but count Richard jumped up from the ground
Quant li quens Ricart sailli sus,
and said to them: "Cease this pursuit,
Si lur a dit: "Ne tesez plus,
for, if you continue, you will have lost all;
Quer ja averez tot perdu;
you are all behaving in a foolish and reckless fashion."
Tuit estes fol e esperdu."
Once he had spoken these words,
Des qu'il l'out eisi prononcié
not one of them moved a step forward.
N'en ala plus avant un pié.


This text was translated by Stewart Gregory, with the assistance of David Crouch.  We thank Ian Short of the Anglo-Norman Text Society and David Crouch for their permission and assistance in republishing this section.




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