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Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?). The Chronicles of Froissart.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Campaign of Crecy

Of the Battle of Blanche-Taque between the King of England and Sir Godemar Du Fay

THE KING of England slept not much that night, for at midnight he arose and sowned his trumpet: then incontinent they made ready carriages and all things, and at the breaking of the day they departed from the town of Oisemont and rode after the guiding of Gobin Agace, so that they came by the sun-rising to Blanche-taque; but as then the flood was up, so that they might not pass: so the king tarried there till it was prime; then the ebb came.

The French king had his currours in the country, who brought him word of the demeanour of the Englishmen. Then he thought to close the king of England between Abbeville and the river of Somme, and so to fight with him at his pleasure. And when he was at Amiens he had ordained a great baron of Normandy, called sir Godemar du Fay, to go and keep the passage of Blanche-taque, where the Englishmen must pass or else in none other place. He had with him a thousand men of arms and six thousand afoot, with the Genoways: so they went by Saint-Riquier in Ponthieu and from thence to Crotoy, whereas the passage lay; and also he had with him a great number of men of the country, and also a great number of them of Montreuil, so that they were a twelve thousand men one and other.

When the English host was come thither, sir Godemar du Fay arranged all his company to defend the passage. The king of England let not for all that; but when the flood was gone, he commanded his marshals to enter into the water in the name of God and Saint George. Then they that were hardy and courageous entered on both parties, and many a man reversed. There were some of the Frenchmen of Artois and Picardy that were as glad to joust in the water as on the dry land.

The Frenchmen defended so well the passage at the issuing out of the water, that they had much to do. The Genoways did them great trouble with their cross-bows: on the other side the archers of England shot so wholly together, that the Frenchmen were fain to give place to the Englishmen. There was a sore battle, and many a noble feat of arms done on both sides. Finally the Englishmen passed over and assembled together in the field. The king and the prince passed, and all the lords; then the Frenchmen kept none array, but departed, he that might best. When sir Godemar saw that discomfiture, he fled and saved himself: some fled to Abbeville and some to Saint-Riquiers. They that were there afoot could not flee, so that there were slain a great number of them of Abbeville, Montreuil, Rue and of Saint-Riquiers: the chase endured more than a great league. And as yet all the Englishmen were not passed the river, and certain currours of the king of Bohemia and of sir John of Hainault came on them that were behind and took certain horses and carriages and slew divers, or they could take the passage.

The French king the same morning was departed from Airaines, trusting to have found the Englishmen between him and the river of Somme: but when he heard how that sir Godemar du Fay and his company were discomfited, he tarried in the field and demanded of his marshals what was best to do. They said, ‘Sir, ye cannot pass the river but at the bridge of Abbeville, for the flood is come in at Blanche-taque’: then he returned and lodged at Abbeville.

The king of England when he was past the river, he thanked God and so rode forth in like manner as he did before. Then he called Gobin Agace and did quit him his ransom and all his company, and gave him a hundred nobles and a good horse. And so the king rode forth fair and easily, and thought to have lodged in a great town called Noyelles; but when he knew that the town pertained to the countess d’Aumale, sister to the lord Robert of Artois, the king assured the town and country as much as pertained to her, and so went forth; and his marshals rode to Crotoy on the sea-side and brent the town, and found in the haven many ships and barks charged with wines of Poitou, pertaining to the merchants of Saintonge and of Rochelle: they brought the best thereof to the kings host. Then one of the marshals rode to the gates of Abbeville and from thence to Saint-Riquiers, and after to the town of Rue-Saint-Esprit. This was on a Friday, and both battles of the marshals returned to the king’s host about noon and so lodged all together near to Cressy in Ponthieu.

The king of England was well informed how the French king followed after him to fight. Then he said to his company: ‘Let us take here some plot of ground, for we will go no farther till we have seen our enemies. I have good cause here to abide them, for I am on the right heritage of the queen my mother, the which land was given at her marriage: I will challenge it of mine adversary Philip of Valois.’ And because that he had not the eight part in number of men as the French king had, therefore he commanded his marshals to chose a plot of ground somewhat for his advantage: and so they did, and thither the king and his host went. Then he sent his currours to Abbeville, to see if the French king drew that day into the field or not. They went forth and returned again, and said how they could see none appearance of his coming: then every man took their lodging for that day, and to be ready in the morning at the sound of the trumpet in the same place. This Friday the French king tarried still in Abbeville abiding for his company, and sent his two marshals to ride out to see the dealing of the Englishmen, and at night they returned, and said how the Englishmen were lodged in the fields. That night the French king made a supper to all the chief lords that were there with him, and after supper the king desired them to be friends each to other. The king looked for the earl of Savoy, who should come to him with a thousand spears, for he had received wages for a three months of them at Troyes in Champagne.