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Page 168 (Chronicles of Froissart)

page 168


Of the great summons that king Henry made, and how he sent to the prince to summon him to fight, and how sir Oliver of Manny took the king of Navarre prisoner.

KING HENRY of Spain was well informed of the prince's passage, for he had his messengers and spies daily coming and going: therefore he provided for men of arms and commons of the realm of Castile to the intent to resist the prince and his brother don Peter, and daily he tarried for the coming of sir Bertram of Guesclin with great succours out of France. And he had sent a special commandment throughout all his realm to all his subjects on pain of their lives, goods and lands, that every man according to his estate other afoot or a-horseback to come to him to aid and defend his realm ; and this king Henry was well beloved, and also they of Castile had before much pain and trouble to aid to make him king, therefore they obeyed to him the rather ; and so daily they resorted to him to Saint Dominic 1 to the number of threescore thousand men afoot and a-horseback, all ready to do his commandment and pleasure, and to live and die with him, if need require. And when this king Henry heard certain word how the prince with all his host was in the realm of Navarre and had passed the straits of Roncesvaulx, then he knew well there was remedy but to fight with the prince, of the which he made semblant to be right joyous, and said openly on high ` Ah, the prince of Wales is a valiant knight, and because he shall know that this is my right and that I abide and look to fight with him, I will write to him part of mine intent.' Then he sent for a clerk and he wrote a letter thus : 'To the right puissant and honourable lord prince of Wales and Acquitaine. It is given us to knowledge that you and your people are passed the ports and are drawing hitherward, and how that ye have made accord and alliance with our enemy, and that your intent is to make war against us. We have thereof great marvel, for we never forfeited to you, 1 San Domingo de la Calzada. nor would not do. Wherefore then are ye come with such a great army thus on us, to take from us so little an heritage as God hath given us? Ve have the grace and fortune in arms more than any prince now living ; wherefore we think ye glorify yourself in your puissance : and because we knew the certainty that ye seek to give us battle, we will that ye know that wheresoever ye enter into Castile ye shall find us before you to keep and defend this our seignory. Written,' etc. And when this letter was sealed, he called to him an herald and said: 'Go thy way as fast as thou mayst to the prince of W ales, and bear him this letter from me.' So the herald departed and took the way through Navarre till he found the prince. Then he kneeled down and delivered him the letter from king Henry. The prince read the letter a two times, the better to understand it, and then he sent for certain of his council and made the herald to depart a little aside. Then the prince read the letter to his council, demanding them advice in that matter ; and in the mean season the prince said to his council : ` Ah, I see well this bastard is a stout knight and full of great prowess, and sheweth great hardiness thus to write to us.' Thus the prince and his council were long together ; howbeit finally they agreed not to write again by the herald. Then it was shewed to him how he must abide a season, for the prince at his pleasure would write again by him and by none other : therefore he was commanded to tarry till he had his answer. Thus the herald tarried there still at his ease and pleasure. The same day that the herald brought these letters, sir Thomas Felton advanced himself forth and demanded of the prince a gift. Then the prince enquired of him what it was that he would desire. ` Sir,' quoth he, ` I require you to give me licence to depart out of your host and to ride on before. There be divers knights and squires of my company desiring to advance themselves; and, sir, I promise you we shall ride so forward, that we shall know the behaving o

Page 168 (Chronicles of Froissart)