Sunday, April 26, 2009

Creçy and Poitiers

Further difficulties arose through Charles the Bad, King of Navarre and Count of Evreux, who was always on the watch to assert his claim to the French throne through his mother, the daughter of Louis X., and was much hated and distrusted by Philip VI. and his son John, Duke of Normandy. Fearing the disaffection of the Norman and Breton nobles, Philip invited a number of them to a tournament at Paris, and there had them put to death after a hasty form of trial, thus driving their kindred to join hisPg 27 enemies. One of these offended Normans, Godfrey of Harcourt, invited Edward to Normandy, where he landed, and having consumed his supplies was on his march to Flanders, when Philip, with the whole strength of the kingdom, endeavoured to intercept him at Creçy in Picardy, in 1348.

Philip was utterly incapable as a general; his knights were wrong-headed and turbulent, and absolutely cut down their own Genoese hired archers for being in their way. The defeat was total. Philip rode away to Amiens, and Edward laid siege to Calais. The place was so strong that he was forced to blockade it, and Philip had time to gather another army to attempt its relief; but the English army were so posted that he could not attack them without great loss. He retreated, and the men of Calais surrendered, Edward insisting that six burghers should bring him the keys with ropes round their necks, to submit themselves to him. Six offered themselves, but their lives were spared, and they were honourably treated. Edward expelled all the French, and made Calais an English settlement.

A truce followed, chiefly in consequence of the ravages of the Black Death, which swept off multitudes throughout Europe, a pestilence apparently bred by filth, famine, and all the miseries of war and lawlessness, but which spared no ranks. It had scarcely ceased before Philip died, in 1350. His son, John, was soon involved in a fresh war with England by thePg 28 intrigues of Charles the Bad, and in 1356 advanced southwards to check the Prince of Wales, who had come out of Guienne on a plundering expedition. The French were again totally routed at Poitiers, and the king himself, with his third son, Philip, were made prisoners and carried to London with most of the chief nobles.

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