Tales from Froissart

edited by Steve Muhlberger, Nipissing University

English and French captains fight in the Italian wars

The conflict between the competing popes results in much warfare in Italy, where both French and English companies find employment.

Book II, ch. 35. At this period, there was in Tuscany a right valiant English knight, called sir John Hawkwood, who had there performed many most gallant deeds of arms; he had left France at the conclusion of the peace of Bretigny, and was at that time a poor knight, who thought it would not be of any advantage to him to return home; but when he saw, that by that treaties, all men at armes would be forced to leave France, he put himself at the head of those free companions called late-comers, and marched into Burgundy. Several such companions, composed of English, Gascons, Bretons, Germans, and men from every nation, were collected there. Hawkwood was one of the principal leaders, with Bricquet and Carnelle, by whom the battle of Brignais was fought, and who aided Bernard de la Salle to take the Pont du Esprit.

 When they had harassed the country for some time, the marquis de Montferrat made a treatey with them to assist him in his war with the lords of Milan. This marquis led them over the Alsps, after he had paid them sixty thousand francs, of which Hawkwood received, for himself and his troops, ten thousand. When they had finished the war for the marquis, the greater part of them returned to France; for sir Bertrand du Guesclin, the lords de la Marche, de Beaujeau, and sir Arnold d'Andreghen marshal of France, wished to lead them into spain, to don Henry de Trastamare, against don Pedro of Spain.

 Sir John Hawkwood and his companions remained in Italy, and were employed by pope Urban as long as he lived in his wars in the Milanese. Pope Gregory, successor to Urban, engaged him in the same manner. Sir John had also a profitable employment, under the lord de Coucy, against the count de Vertus and his barons; in which, some say, the lord de Coucy would have been slain, if sir John Hawkwood had not ocme to his assistance with five hundred combatants, which he was solely induced to do because the lord de Coucy had married one of the king of England's daughters.

 This sir John Hawkwood was a knight much inured to war, which he had long followed, and had gained great renown in Italy from his gallantry.

 The Romans, therefore, and Urban, who called himself pope, resolved, on Clement leaving Italy, to send for Hawkwood, and appoint him commander-in-chief of all their forces: they made him large offers of retaining him and his whole troop at a handsome subsidy, which he accepted, and acquitted himself loyally for it. In company with the Romans, he defeated a large body of Bretons under the command of Silvester Budes; the greater part of which were either slain or taken: Silvester Budes was carried prisoner to Rome, whre h was in great danger of being beheaded.

 To say the truth, it would have been more for his honour, and for that of his friend, had he been so the day he was brought there; for he and another squire of Brittany, called William Boileau, were afterwards beheaed in the city of Mascon by order of pope Clement. They were suspected of treachery, on account of having escaped from the prisons in Rome, no one knew how, and had come to Avignon, where they were arrested.

 The cardinal of Amiens was the author of their arrest; for he hated them ever since the wars in Italy, when they had killed some of his baggage-horses, and seized a large quantity of money and gold and silver plate, which Silvester had distributed among his followers, by way of pay, being unable otherwise to satisfy them. The cardinal was much enraged at this conduct, and secretly charged them with treason. On their arrival at Avignon, they were seized, and accused of treacherously intending to betray the pope: tehy were then sent ot Mascon, where both were instantly beheaded.

 In this state were affairs in those distant countries. Sir Bertrand du Guesclin was indignant against the pope and cardinals on account of the death of his cousin Silvester Budes; and, if he had lived a little longer, he would have shown, or have caused it to have been shown, them, that it was very displeasing to him.

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