Next it is indeed right to tell how King Richard left Normandy, as is well known to go and try
his luck with Vierzon. We well know how he besieged it and took it by force, and how the gains made were great, and who was the first to enter the town; about the latter nobody should have doubt. With him there was the Marshal, who directed him to many a good place. Later King Richard sent him to count Baldwin of Flanders, whose fame was to spread far and wide, and then, without delay, he sent him to count Reginald of Boulogne the son of the count of Damartin. These men came to him in short because of the wrongs that the King of France, in his arrogance, was doing to them, and became liegemen tot the king of England in good faith. When the King of France heard of this, he was not a bit pleased, indeed he was surely hurt by it. He arranged talks with King Richard between e
Vernon and Boutavant, since he had no wish to go further. On the appointed day, when they were duly assembled for the talks, King Richard arrived in fine style, very well attended, bringing with him, so God save me, Count Reginald of Boulogne. I can vouch for the fact that they both appeared hand in hand. On one side of the river was the King France with his entire force, and on the other the King of England, who now had little fear of his aggression. And when he came to the talks, he most gracefully led the two counts by the hand, for that is what he had undertaken to do.
When he saw them arrive together, the King of France did not find it in the least to his liking, indeed he was very angry. He began by addressing these words to King Richard:
‘My lord, where are you taking these men? I had in mind that the talks were with you alone. I am very displeased and I want nothing to do with talks involving them.’
‘My lord, where are you taking these men? I had in mind that the talks were with you alone. I am very displeased and I want nothing to do with talks involving them.’
‘My lord,’ replied the King of England ‘you have been taking their land just as much as you have mine. They have become my allies, for I can tell you that I have given my word that you will never be free of war as long as you continue to appropriate the land of us three.’
When the King of France heard this, he was sad, aggrieved, and annoyed to the extent that he left in a rage. After the talks had disbanded, neither King Richard or the two counts took any notice of his anger. The two counts took their leave of the king they loved, and made their way to their own regions and lands and prepared themselves for war. Then the King of England arranged to send the counts some of the most worthy men in his land and those whose reputations were high. They were chosen as was rigfht, and I shall tell you who they were. The first was the Marshal, William, who most readily went without much persuading, for it was the way with him that he would never need begging to do anything which he knew would turn out for the good without setting about it instantly. There was Peter de Preaux, a fine, handsome knight, Sir Alan Basset, a fine, handsome and honest knight, and Sir John the Marshal, a noble, amiable, worthy and loyal man. These were the ones chosen to go. A man who delights in doing good is of great worth, for a good story is always retold when it comes to recalling good deeds. They went straight on their journey until they reached the counts, who were very happy to see them and gave them a joyous welcome. The count of Flanders set out in splendid array with a big army of knights, a huge contingent of soldiers, with troops keen to fight, most proud and bold. He set out because of a castle which had been taken from him and fortified by the man who had learned how to take a castle with ease. And the count, who was going there with such a mighty force, thought he could easily relieve him of it and bring him to grief. The King of France had very quickly summoned an exceedingly large army to go to the assistance of the castle, for thought he could very easily save it. The count of Flanders heard what the king of Frances plan was, and he sought the advice of the high ranking men whom he knew to be there and the barons in his company, and they advised him as men who were in great fear. Different advice was given in different ways by each according to his lights, for such men as I recall are not all of one mind, since some often find fitting and to their pleasure what is not to the liking of the others.
The barons of the land put forward between them the advice that defensive barriers should be made out of carts, of which there was no shortage since they came with the rank and file. Many agreed with that advice and planned that the men of the rank and file should be inside them and that knights should go into the open and engage, when God willed it, with the King of France, and let each man take his chance.
The Marshal then got to his feet, for he found such advice perturbing. He said to the count of Flanders: ‘My lord, if what I wish to say pleases you, I shall give my opinion. I do not accept or advise that any such barrier should ever be made, for, by doing so, we would appear to lack heart and men at one and the same time. My advice and I hope you find it acceptable, is to do what I would do if I were in charge of the operation. I would never look to the rank and file or think of constructing a single barrier. My sole consideration would be to defend ourselves out on the open field with no ruses or trickery employed. Let the carts be strung out in front of the town, that I do advise, so that they do not come out to do our men any harm or play tricks on them and do not do injury to our rank and file when they advance one after the other. And you yourself undertake to issue forth tomorrow completely armed ready for combat, and to humble their pride, with your troops and battalions in full battle order, so that we are ready to withstand them out on the field and defend ourselves. Foresight, common sense, and right are often the partners of physical prowess.’
Once the Marshal had spoken these words, all agreed with them, and finally they all said ‘Blessed be the advice given by a man of worth!’ It was a great honour paid to the Marshal that all agreed that day with his opinion, and all the high ranking men present gave him high praise, for he was intent on winning honour for them and yet he was not from their country.
So they came out the next day fully armed and did as the man had directed them, who knew full well how to arrange such things. There were many knights under arms and a great number of the rank and file, and whatever anyone may tell you, it was apparent that here was a troop of courageous men, who had sworn and showed their intention to fight. Any man who had attacked them that day would not have wanted for a fight, for they were much intent on it themselves, as they had been taught. But you must know this for a fact, that the King of France had there his spies, who saw very well what the men on the other side were doing. They returned to the king and reported to him how the men of Flanders were armed and in battle-formation to fight against him, and this piece of news greatly troubled him. Afterwards, he spoke with his advisors and one of them said: ‘ I’I advise you to postpone this encounter, for the men on the other side will not flee. Indeed, I can tell you that they will stand their ground, if they can, and defend themselves.’
That day passed, and then the King of France, wise man that he was, seeing that there was no advantage in it for him, was forced to turn back. And he had a good reason for doing this, for a man who does not go back will not see his home again, and he is wiser therefore to return. Moreover, he never wished to put himself in a place where he thought he would have to fight. When those in the Flemish army saw the favour done to them by the French, who had left generously without so much as even looking at them, they were truly grateful, as indeed they might be.
Then very quickly they arranged, on the general advice of those in the army, to send a messenger to King Richard to inform him of their circumstances. Those who were a party to his advice chose John the Marshal for the task. They escorted him as far as the sea across which they sent him to the King. He journeyed by sea and by land until he found what he was looking for: I mean King Richard of course, who was in the French marches where he had just taken the town of Courcelles. In the course of that action the lord of the castle was captured, along with his men inside. King Richard garrisoned a large force there. It is well known that this happened on the feast day of St Peter, on the first of August, and that there arrived Sir John the Marshal and gave news to the king which gave him much pleasure, news of the counts and their circumstances, and how the Kin of France had turned back without being asked or agreed to do so, no sons waiting a single moment for their fathers.
And the day after the feast of St Peter news reached King Richard, which delighted him and gave him great pleasure: the King of France, with a great troop of men was riding straight for Gisors. Immediately the King of England mounted along with all his men. He crossed the river below Dangu with a fine, bold company. It is a fact that he sent Mercadier to spy on the movements of the French army, and Sir Hugh de Corny, a wise and valiant knight, who knew the countryside very well since he was a native of those parts. Mercadier spotted them and did not spy on them properly before returning to the King, telling him that the King of France had a huge force with him, a marvel to behold, and that he was ridings straight for Gisors.
Sir Hugh de Corny said: ‘Sire, in Christ’s name please hear me, for my assessment of their numbers is an accurate one and I can tell you that they are not a great force. If you engage with them today, great honour will be yours, for they will be routed or taken captive. Sire, enhance your reputation this very day.’
The King knew in his heart that Sir Hugh de Corny was a shrewd, wise and worthy man, for he had been raised in war. Towards his men he turned his bold, fierce face and said: ‘Go back to the ford, now I have what is welcome to me.’
I do not think they were annoyed by this; they all went straight back to the ford, and Sir John de Preaux who was most brave and valiant and very much of a heart to perform high deeds, made to approach the ford. And, whatever anyone might say, the worthy king, riding on a horse from Lombardy, galloped up to a vantage point. Once at the top he saw before him the King of France’s army; he was little impressed by their might. One he had spotted them for sure, the King called for his men to come bearing pennants and banners but they had been left a long way behind. And yet, far away though they were, never before had men made such haste in a critical situation, for they were anxious and keen to engage with their enemies. But I believe King Richard did not wait for all his men to arrive, and rode forward in first position. And once his men had reached his side, vying to be first there, as was their duty, he said to John de Preaux
‘Now we shall see who will be swift on his horse today.’ He then added ‘God is with us! Let us attack them!’
Having said this, he immediately rode at them, just as a ravening lion, starved of food, runs at its prey and finds it, seeking for nothing else but the moment when it can catch up with it. From now on it was inevitable that one side or the other would snatch victory, for never at a market or a fairground have I seen such a crowd or throng. Each man strove with might and main, seeking to be the first to make contact with the other side, and not one of all those under arms was to be seen holding back, indeed they performed as was expected of them.
The King, the first to arrive, performed so well that the French were routed, and were soon on their way. They found men enough prepared to pursue them, and many of them were taken prisoner, for each took as many as he could of those he caught up with from behind. And, had it not been for a dense cloud of dust from ground dried by the summer’s heat, the King of France himself would have been in danger of being taken captive. His reputation would have taken a great fall that day, had it not been for the dust and the press of battle, and for Fate which does not allow what is not to be to happen.
They gave chase to left and right and eventually drove him back to the gates of Gisors, where they captured many of the most respected. As you well know, it is the way that the bravest remain behind when it comes to a rout, whereas the others, who have no taste for that, set their mind on self-preservation and take flight as fast as their horses can carry them. Anyway, the King of France had the misfortune to fall in a ford, and he was helped up by a clerk of his, who had a very hard time of it since there was little else in the way of help. He was the son of William de Mello. However, in the end other people came running up to help him. When they had pulled the king out of the water – he had been extremely frightened for his life – he declined to stay in Gisors, even though it had a very strong castle, for he feared his enemies so much that he thought he would be besieged inside the town; he had no wish to be hemmed in there. When a fox allows itself to be trapped in its den, it runs the risk of being caught, and that is why King Philip took great trouble and pains to escape, for he had no wish to be trapped in there. He prepared to return to France, whilst King Richard returned with his mighty army straight to the fortress of Les Andelys. There is no doubt that he took with him as prisoners ninety one of the King of France’s knights, and there was no justice about that. I shall spare you the account of the other troops he took, not wishing to get bogged down by numbers; there were so many of them that, at this point, I have no wish to saddle myself with enumerating them. And I can tell you that the bravest among the French became so cowed as a result that, from that time on, there was no combat in which thirty of our side did not charge forty of the French which was not as it used to be. I wish you now to hear this, that men who are the subjects of a worthy lord take heart and show a marked improvement in feats of great valour.
King Richard, a man of noble heart, would never, at any price tolerate any evil power, nor had he any time for it, for such was his way that he never ceased to promote the good while destroying the bad. And may God in his grace grant that those who harm the King be vanquished, so that all his men take heart and grow in courage at the sight of his prowess, and that he has yet the opportunity to regain what is his and gain theirs as well.
The war waged after the engagement at Gisors was a hard fought one on a very large scale; it lasted long, and still goes on. However, I cannot tell of each event one by one; it is not a matter for me, nor is it part of my theme. But if I could give a good account of what is the part of my theme, without putting in too much or too little in anything I said, I would consider myself very well satisfied. I have seen and experienced for myself that those who weave a prolix story often depart from the point and often relate things which are extraneous to their theme, and which should not be said, for nobody seeking to make a living from writing should put in his work anything which is not strictly necessary off which is extraneous to the matter in hand. But it was true, and I know it for a fact, that King Richard was in Gournay, and had secretly sent for provisions and men, and a huge force of knights, soldiers and mercenaries. Covertly and quietly they came to him in Gerberoy. Once they had arrived, there was a great army assembled, for those who sought to perform great deeds and serve and please their lord had set out from many a place. The King rode in the direction of Milly, and Mercadier, after going to Semilly, went through the Beauvais; there were many throughout that region who found they had acquired a cruel neighbour as became all too apparent that day.
King Richard and his huge force of men rode proudly to Milly. The bailiff and the others inside were completely unaware of their presence until the moment they saw thy were in a sorry plight. Richard attacked them from all sides. He ordered the ladders he had brought with him to be brought to the walls and put in position, and he and his men launched a very fierce attack. Those inside did all within their power to put up a keen defence, sending down an incessant rain of arrows. Those outside, willing to take on anything, climbed up the walls on the ladders, whilst those inside defended with huge blocks of wood, stakes, bolts, great forks and flails. Anyone who had the opportunity to witness the sight, could have seen contingents of men most fierce in attack and defence. So many knights and soldiers present climbed up one particular ladder that it became greatly overloaded and they were thrust back by those inside and fell to a man in the ditch. I do not believe there were three who, following their fall into the ditch did not break arms, and that in itself is an understatement.
Sir Walter Scudamore a knight from Wales, was there. He considered himself tobe one of the most unfortunate since he had broken a thigh. At this point to many of those involved in the attack began to retreat, for they were much dismayed and in fear. Left behind on one of the ladders was sir Guy de la Bruyere, a knight from Flanders who did his all with intense vigour, to perform great deeds. Those defending the town had caught him with their spiked pikes between his chin and his chest, so overpowering him that he could in no way help himself with either hand. The Marshal, fully armed, was on the moat, and he was filled with pity and anger about the plight of the knight whom he saw in such torment, so, fully armed as he was, he jumped down into the bottom of the ditch and climbed, I assure you, fully armed as he was, sword in hand, up the other side, and kept his footing and he reached the latter on which the knight was held by those who sought to kill him. He dealt them such blows with his sword as to fully repay each of them individually for the harm they had done to the knight. He dealt so many blows right and left with the sword that he held in his right hand that those inside fell back and left him sole occupant of the battlements. Those men who had no taste for the games he played, left him in sole charge of the field as they all went on their way. The Marshal did not care who witnessed it. And when the King saw him leap forward to climb the wall and mount an attack, he was very angry and wanted to do likewise, without delay, but the high ranking men present advised against this course and prevented it.
Once the Marshal had entered the castle by force, our men was so filled with glee that they all shouted out as one man: ‘The castle is taken, let’s help him!’
Those in the castle took fright as our men leapt up on to the battlements. This did not appear to be a laughing matter to Sir William de Monceaux, the constable of the castle. He would not stand still anywhere, but ran straight at the Marshal with the intention of doing all in his power to do him harm and injury but he was unable to do so, the Marshal proving too much for him now that he had freed himself from the others as a result of the blows he had dealt them, blows which had cost him so much effort that he was somewhat out of breath.
The constable came at him with might and main, making every effort to do him injury by means of mighty blows at him with his sword. The marshal dealt such a blow at him that he cut through his helmet, separating the coif from the hauberk and piercing his flesh so that all he could do was to come to a halt. He fell down quite unconscious, battered and stunned by the blow he had received from the marshal, and he stayed motionless on the ground. The Marshal, now weary, and who had done more than enough, sat on him to hold him firm.
Then those began to arrive who had got into the castle thanks to the Marshal’s exploits. He was the one who took the town. The King entered the town as did all those who had gone there with him. Those who had mounted the siege made great gains, and those inside lost all; many prisoners were seen to be taken. The King by now had the castle and the garrison, as was his due. Immediately the Marshal came to the King’s side holding the knight he had taken captive by the hand, and he said: ‘Take this prisoner, I bring him for you to hold.’
The King replied ‘my Lord Marshal, this is not right, indeed it is wrong for a man of such eminence and such great valour to have to do this: leave that to the younger knights who still have to win their reputation. As for you, it is a fact well known that you have for so long pursued fame that you now hold it in the palm of your hand. That knight you have taken, even if he were worth 100 fold what he is, I would still concede him to you and say that you have well deserved him, and it is right that he should be yours. I appoint you as his lord and warder.’
The Marshal gave him warm and generous thanks for this.
Thereupon Mercadier arrived. He had the luck of the dice, and so much so that he captured the Bishop of Beauvais that day, at the same time taking Sir William de Mello. There was no shortage of other prisoners being led along by the mercenaries; they had bound them in ropes like greyhounds on leashes, and there was such a crowd of them in the town that it was impossible to move a step either backwards or forwards. Mercadier presented to the King his Bishop, a man who had often caused great harm for him in war and much ransacked his lands.
The King was full of joy, for I can tell you simply this that he was one of the men that he hated most in the whole world; and that was abundantly obvious, since he was given harsh treatment in prison. I do not know what to say further except that the men in the army were full of joy, because of the castles and prisoners taken. Someone said that it was a mistake that he did not ride on to take Beauvais, for there was nobody there to defend it, but the King said: ‘Be patient a while; we have done very well up until now in capturing this castle and some of our strongest enemies. However strong they might be, right is on our side and the wrong on theirs. God will yet show them that they are wrong to be hostile towards us.’
The King did not stay there at all but returned to Gournay full of joy and in very high spirits, taking with him the booty he had acquired that day. He very nobly shared out his gains, but those who were captured and had lost, had a very bad throw of the dice. So it was, there was nothing they could do to improve matters, for that is what happens to all in war: some come out on top, some are beaten.
The war was waged long, and it still goes on. It was a fierce and dangerous war while King Richard was alive, for the French were very jealous of him; however, it did them no good at all, for not one of them was able to overcome him. They tried on many an occasion, and yet their dismay grew the more they put him to the test, for they reaped a very poor return: frequently some of their most high born and important knights were taken captive, and never, following their escape from him, did they fail to take good care not to fall into his hands again.
The war had hung in the balance for such a long time that it became a source of concern for the King of France, for there he was spending all his wealth and all he did was lose. That a man who had no care for idle leisure so hemmed him in that he did not know any place to turn to from which he would not be forced to retreat, for all the time that man was there to face him with whom he had engaged in many a magnificent encounter, in which there were gains and losses. And those were in a sorry plight who left the field ignominiously, and who had lost their equipment there. Time and again it happened that all they could do was lose the fight, so much so that the French grew tired of the situation and many of them transferred their allegiance to King Richard; I am sure of this, for it was widely seen and heard of. As a result the King of France suffered much harm and vexation, so much so that he sent in secret for his barons and other high ranking men to give him advice as to how he might bring things to a conclusion.
One of them replied in these terms: ‘Unless you go through the court of Rome, he will wear you down to the point of defeat. You will never defend yourself against him.’
The King of France was wily and more cunning than a fox, and he could well see that it could not be otherwise. Immediately he called one of his clerks and handed him the relic which is indispensable in Rome for successfully concluding business, for it is always necessary to grease palms at the court of Rome; there is no need to sing any of the litanies. The relics of Saint Gold and Saint Silver, were the martyrs in the eyes of Rome and are held in great esteem there. Without these, whatever laws for lawyers say, is not worth a fig. Such is the custom and attitude of those in Rome that any man not bearing such relics with him will experience immense difficulties getting through the door. It is written in the account that is my source that the consistory decided to do the King of France a favour and send him a cardinal who would do what was necessary for him effectively and without delay. The cardinal who came was called Peter, a man who was wily, skilful and deceitful with words, for he had been raised in a school which had taught him the way to turn things back to front. And when he arrived in France, he was given a most joyous welcome by the King and all his barons, for they felt he was cunning and wise and thought him to be very honest. For that they gave him a rapturous welcome. The King summoned him to his presence, informed him of his secret plans, disclosed to him in every detail his circumstances and put him completely in charge of things, whether by giving or promising further gifts, for he knew very well how to go about his business always in the right way and bring matters to the right conclusion.
Peter the cardinal, whose word was not to be trusted, told him that he would have to negotiate a peace of sorts, or else a truce which would be for the long term. The King abided by his advice since he saw clearly that he had to do so and that, otherwise, he could not achieve his ends. He sent messengers to King Richard who had a way with words and were courtly and wise. His forthright message was that he should come to him for talks, without delay or contestation between Le Goulet and Vernon. Once they had given him the contents of their message, they informed him of the day set for the Kings to come together and hold talks. King Richard graciously told them that he had agreed to the talks.
He arrived in Le Goulet on the day set, and I can tell you what happened in a brief word: I think Richard, who sought to perform no outrage, as is well known, but merely to claim his own land, came to Le Goulet with a large contingent of barons. That wily King Philip, who knew only too well how to play the high and mighty, did not deign to attend the talks at all. Instead he stayed behind in order to demonstrate his importance and to teach a man who knew he was being tricked better than Philip could teach him.
However, patience, forbearance and moderation are very valuable attributes. King Richard waited until he knew for a proven fact that King Philip, acting out of arrogance, would not attend the talks. Instead, the legate came on his behalf, a man who, when it came to trickery and subterfuge, was incredibly adept. He knew all there was to be known about standing an argument on its head, when he had a mind to do so. His face was more yellow than a kite’s claw; in a pantomime of hypocrisy he played at being saintly when he appeared before Richard, his behaviour seeming very unexpected. What he did was to greet the King in God’s name and that of the court of Rome, which much loved and esteemed him as a son of the church. And King Richard in turn greeted him most graciously as a learned cleric, cardinal and spiritual father. The cardinal made his speech, since he saw it was the right place and time for it, and he fully believed that he would bring the KIng round to accepting all the terms of his proposal.
‘Sire,’ he said, ‘the King of France sent me here, since his intention, I believe, is to do what is right, and he would very much like to achieve a peace if that were your wish too.’
The King asked: ‘How will this peace be arranged in such a manner that it will never be broken? I ask this question as a man who has been dispossessed. Once he has repossessed me of my land and all that is mine, I shall serve him well and I shall write off the damage and ignominies I have suffered at his hands. I shall forget about the oaths me made,, the agreements he made to the effect that, once he returned to France, he would not do any mischief in my lands or harass my subjects, until forty days had elapsed since my arrival in my domains. I will forgive him of all of this and say not a further word about it, if he is of a mind to make peace. Otherwise, my master, I can tell you for certain that they can be no peace between us.’
Peter replied: ‘Sire, I would not be so bold as to vouch for that. No man could make him see that he should consent to return all he has taken, whatever anyone may say. His council does not advise this course nor would it ever do so.’
‘Then go in God’s name!’ Said the King, ‘for, without that condition, peace will never come about, and he will never hold my land in peace as long as I am able to mount in the saddle; you can go and tell him that from me.’
‘Oh Sire!’ said the cardinal, ‘it is such a great shame and such a wrong that there is such great hostility between the two of you; if things go on as they are, the holy land of Jerusalem will be lost. For the sake of God, think of a way which it might be returned, for it will be in a sorry state of some attention is not given to it. Things will get worse for it in a very short time, for it will be taken and destroyed and Christianity will be lost.’
The King bent down towards him and said: ‘If I had been allowed to hold my own land in peace, so that I didn’t have to come back, the whole of the land held by the Syrians would be free and purged of pagans and they would never again holds sway there. As it is, the King of France has done me much harm and injury; he had a say in my being taken prisoner and being held for such a long time, and for a long time he has been set on dispossessing me, and will continue to be so. However, if it please God, that will never happen.’
The cardinal, after a while, spoke to him of another matter, saying: ‘sire, hear my plan: if a longer truce were arranged between the two of you, so that neither of you stood to lose by it, it would be a good deed done.’
The King replied: ‘Fair muster, if such a truce as this were possible, under the terms of which I suffered no loss or saw my estate diminished, I would be very keen on it and agreed to it on a permanent basis. Tell me the form it will take; I shall hear it and not put the wrong interpretation on the terms you cite, if only it can come about; indeed, I shall be most happy to abide by them.’
The cardinal said: ‘Sire, in truth, no man can have all he would like to have, things don’t happen like that; rather, let each hold what he has, and let the truce be sworn on those terms.’
‘nay such a truce never endure!’ Said the King, ‘what is this you’re saying? It seems to me that you have gone back on everything you said to me before. It is a shameful matter when a worthy man contradicts himself, when he lies and cheats. Are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes? He’s got my castles and land, and here you come asking me to let him have free possession of them! This truce will never be set down in writing, so it please God, as long as I live. Anyone asking me to agree to such a truce will find no firm ground to stand on, for his demands are excessive.’
The cardinal resumed: ‘Please! For the sake of God, please! Fair lord. You really ought to bear in mind how much the Holy Land is left bereft today.’
‘I would certainly have come to its aid, but that man who does his utmost to harm me, forced me to return,’ said the King. ‘However, in order that you do not think me too arrogant, I shall agree to a truce lasting five years, on the condition that he will have my castles in pledge, for you can be sure that of my inheritance he will not get one single iota of land outside them.’
‘my fair lord, I agree’, says the cardinal on hearing this, ‘for I have never heard better words spoken. But one further thing: the court of Rome asks you to return to him one of its men whom you hold as your prisoner, quite wrongly and unjustly.’
‘I’ve got him?’ said the King, ‘I tell you I haven’t!’
‘Sire, I shall tell you who it is, and do not deny it: it’s the Bishop of Beauvais, who is under the protection of Rome. It is wrong to hold such a man, an anointed and sacred bishop.’
‘Up on my soul he’s not! He’s been deconsecrated,’ said the King, ‘and is a false Christian. From now on I shall never believe a word you say. It was not as a Bishop that he was taken captive but as a knight of great reputation, fully armed and with his helmet laced. Is this what you thought up in Rome, Sir Hypocrite? You’re not wise! I can tell you that, were it not for your role as envoy, Rome would not prevent me from giving you such a hiding to take back to the Pope as would engrave my deeds on his mind. The Pope thinks me a fool; I know full well that he made a fool of me when I sent a message to him from a distant land to seek his help in my predicament, as a prisoner in the service of God. I begged and beseeched him to help me in my hour of need or to do his duty. Not for a moment was he willing to involve himself, not for a moment did he deign to go to any trouble over it. And now here he is asking me to release a robber, a tyrant and an arsonist, who so loved waging war that he has devastated the whole of my land and pillaged it night and day. Get out of here you traitor, you liar and cheat, you deceiver, you simoniac! Take care that I never see you before me on a field or on the open road!’
At this the legate left, who was impatient to be out of there. He would not have returned to collect his cross, reckoning that he would lose his genitals if he did. Instead he mounted his horse and never reined it him until he reached the King of France, in a state of utter dejection and torment and more scared than a deer.
When the French saw him arrive so gripped by fear, they were dismayed. He said to the King: ‘He is not a gracious man, this king you’re doing business with; he is no lamb, we could well see this for ourselves, indeed he is fiercer than a lion. And yet I had completely won him round to my plan of action, for he had agreed to a truce for five years, and we were on the point of shaking hands on the deal following his consultation with his advisors. But then I asked him about the Bishop of Beauvais and he was so incensed that he immediately quarrelled with me. He raised his eyebrows in my direction and turned as red as a blazing fire, so much so that I fully expected him to assault me.’
Some of the French present laughed at this, and said to one another in private: ‘He’s nearly caught a fever from this experience, King Richard is no nanny-goat to be scared easily; he still thinks he can take revenge for the harm done him.’
King Richard was still so furious but he was unable to utter a single word; instead he huffed and puffed in his anger. Like a wild boar war wounded by the huntsman he retired huffing and puffing into his chamber and ordered the doors to be closed; no monk or novice passed through them. He lay on his back on the bed, and nobody was so bold as to dare to call at the door, until the Marshal arrived, holding a staff in his hand. He knocked loudly at the door, which was opened for him forthwith. He found the King lying down in his great anger and began to address him: ‘Sire, it is not right or reasonable for you to be angry without cause, for so help me God, my dear lord, what I see making you angry should actually make you laugh, since you have come away winning everything. You can see that the King of France can go no further; all he can do is approach you and sue for peace or a truce. So you take your land and leave him the castles in pledge until another occasion. Since he will not be taking an inch of land, he will find out it’s a real war he’s engaged in just to hold onto and maintain the castles, if the cost of fortification has to come from his purse. That is how things will be, I vouch for it; I am certain they will come here tomorrow.’
The Legate was able to communicate to the King the terms of possible truce, that is that the land would remain in the hands of King Richard, whilst he would hold the castles, no more nor less; and, if he were unwilling to make such an undertaking, that is to surrender up to him his land, then there was nothing else for it but war.
The barons of France there present advised him to accept a truce, as did the Legate, in charge of the proceedings, since there was no other possible course of action. But the Legate added that in no way would he go back to see King Richard; let them send another envoy, he had no wish to die just yet. The worthy Archbishop of Reims, a man neither meddlesome nor churlish, arrived the next day, with him a sober and well behaved retinue of men. The King was in his chapel, where he was listening to the beautiful resonant strains of the mass of the Holy Trinity. When he heard that the Archbishop had indeed arrived, he went immediately to meet him and gave him a warm welcome as they met, as did the Archbishop to him; each showed great respect for the other. And I vouch it for a fact that, through the agency of the Archbishop of Reims, the truce was arranged and committed to writing word for word under the terms cited and worked out at an earlier stage. No word was limited, and, when the Archbishop returned both the King of France and the French considered themselves well satisfied, for they had been reluctant to fight the war.
When King Richard left the region, he sent word to William le Queu and his troop of men, telling them that, come what may, they should so pin down those in the castles that they could not take anything outside them in any part of his land and fief. They carried out his instructions to the full, with the result that the other side did not dare to come and draw from the fountain outside Beaudemont when our side were prepared to prevent them from doing so. And I can tell you that outside the walls of Gisors William and his troop collected the regular dues from the inhabitants; he would not have care a fig if those inside had been angry at this, nor would their anger have forced him and his men to desist. So that was the situation in the land.