Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

Ardembourg is almost taken by the men of Ghent (1385)

The viscount of Meaux is prosecuting the war for the French against the men of Ghent.

Book II, ch. 161 (Johnes, v. II, p. 37-38).  After the defeat of the detachment of sir Rafflart de Flandres, which he had led into the Quatre Mestiers, sir Robert de Bethune, viscount de Meaux, came to Ardemnubourg, whither he had been sent to garrison it. He found there sir John de Jumont and his companions: He had also also brought with him about forty knights, who were eager to meet with adventures. On time viscount's arrival, he began to repair and strengthen the fortifications of the town. Francis Atremen imd those of Ghent were constantly devising plans to annoy their enemies, and do them mischief. Their attention was particularly directed to places in their neighbourhood, such as Oudenarde, Dendremonde, Ardembourg, Damme, Bruges and Sluys. It behoved those towns to keep a strict guard and watch well; for in regard to storming and scaling towns, and such like subtleties, these Ghent men were very skilful and alert.

About the end of May, Francis Atremen, with seven thousand armed men, sallied out of Ghent, with the intent to take Ardembourg by surprise, and to make all the knights anti squires there in garrison prisoners. They were more desirous to take the governor, sir John de Jumont, than all the rest; for he had done them much mischief, by slaying and taking their people, thrusting out their eyes, cutting off their hands or ears, so that they could not love him. For this purpose, they came on Wednesday at day-break to Ardembourg, having with them their ladders ready prepared.

Now observe what great peril they were in: the viscount de Meaux, sir John de Junnont, sir Rafflart de Flandres, the lord de Daymart, sir Tiercelot tie Montigny, sir Perducas tie Port St. Marc, the lord de Longueval and sir John, his son, sir 'Hugh Desnel, the lord de Lalain, sir Reginald de Lommie and several more, were sleeping quietly in their beds, trusting to the watchfulness of the guard: but the guards of the night were almost all retired, and the watchman was mounting his post, when Francis Atremen and his Ghent men, with their ladders on their shoulders, had crossed time ditches and fixed their ladders to the walls, which the foremost had begun to mount.

By accident, the lord de St. Aubin and a squire from Picardy, called Enguerrand Zendequin, were at this moment parading the town close by the walls: they had with them three picards armed with pikes. I believe they had been on guard this night, and were then retiring. To say the truth; if they had not been where they were, Artembourg must infallibly have been taken, and all the knights in their beds. When the lord de St. Aubin and Enguerrand Zendequin perceived the Ghent men mounting by ladders to the battlements, and that one of them was actually putting his leg over the wall to enter the town, they were very much alarmed, but not so much as to prevent them defending the place: they saw clearly, that if they fled, the town must be conquered; for the Ghent men had arrived there so opportunely that they were entering it just between the time of the dismissal of the nightguard and the watchman mounting his post.

"Forward, forward!" cried sir Enguerrand to the pikemen: "here are our enemies: let us defend ourselves and our town, or
it is taken." They then advanced to the place where they had fixed their ladders and intended entering. The pikemen attacked him who was about to enter so vigorously with his pike that he tumbled into the ditch.

At this time, the watch was at his post, who, noticing the large battalion in the ditches and thereabouts, sounded his horn crying out, "Treason, treason!" The town was in motion, and the knights heard in their beds the noise and confusion, and also
how the Ghent men wanted to surprise their town. They were very much astonished, and having armed themselves as speedily as they could, sallied forth against them. Notwithstanding they were discovered, the Ghent men laboured hard to enter the town; but those five men held out valiantly against them for upwards of half an hour, and performed wonders in arms, for which they were highly praised.

The lords now advanced in handsome array; the viscount de Meaux with his banner before him, sir John de Jumont with his pennon, sir Rafflart de Flandres and all the others, shouting their war-cries, and found the knight and squire, with the three pikemen, defending the walls most gallantly. When Francis Atremen and the Ghent men found their scheme had failed, they called back their men and retreated in a handsome manner into the Quatre Mestiers.

The garrison were more attentive in guarding their town for the future, and in posting their sentinels. They honoured greatly their five defenders; for, if they had not been there, Ardembourg had been lost, and all their throats cut.

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