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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 218



armies, after gazing at each other for a few days, separated without striking a blow ; JEdward marching his mercenaries back into Flanders, and there disbanding them. At the commencement of this war, Edward, besides expending all his wealth and revenues, had pawned the Queen's crown and jewels, and contracted debts to the enormous amount of three hundred thousand pounds. But still the means were inadequate for the carrying on his unjust designs against France. In fact, throughout this reign the people loved to be at war, but objected to pay its expenses ; and notwithstanding the wealth that the infant manufacture of cloth was already drawing into the country, the monarch was always in poverty, and the crown jewels rarely out of pawn. As Vicar-General of the Germanic empire, Edward during this campaign kept his court at Antwerp, where Philippa resided in right royal state, and on the twenty-ninth of November, gave birth to her tall, athletic son, Prince Lionel. The French hailed the proclamation of war with as much joy as the English, and, on the commencement of hostilities, unexpectedly landed about nine o'clock one Sunday morning at Southampton, pillaged the town, killed many of the inhabitants, and taking the King's large ship, the Christopher, returned to the coast of France with a rich booty; a success which so exasperated Edward, that he vowed to be revenged upon France, let it cost what it might. The Pope endeavoured to soothe his wrath and prevent the effusion of blood ; but to no purpose. At the solicitation of that popular Flemish leader, Jacob Von Artavelde, he publicly assumed the title of King of France, quartered with his own arms the French lilies, and added the motto, DIEU ET MON DBOIT—God and my right ; declaring thereby, that he put his whole confidence in God, and the justness of his cause. To raise money for the expenses of another campaign, ho embarked for England on the twenty-first of February, leaving Philippa and her infant Prince, Lionel, as hostages for his speedy return, under the charge of the Duke of Brabant, From the parliament he obtained the unprecedented supply of the ninth fleece, the ninth lamb, and the ninth sheaf ; when having made other needful preparations, he summoned his men-atarms, and the fleet being ready, set sail the day before the eve of St. John, accompanied by the Princess Isabella, and many English noble ladies who desired to visit their long absent Queen. The royal fleet directed its course towards Sluys ; but on the twenty-third of June, the day after they had sailed out of the port of Orwell, they descried a forest of masts, which proved to be a fleet of five hundred fine ships, fastened to each other with heavy iron chains, manned with the flower of the French navy, and provided at their mast head with turretsfilled with stones, to hurl at their enemies. Having placed the ladies in a strong, well-guarded ship, Edward drew up his vessels in battle array, tacked about to avoid having the wind and sun in his face, and presently afterwards bore down upon the French with irresistible impetuosity. The action was horrible and murderous, and lasted from eight in the morning till seven at night, when, with scarcely an exception, the French ships were all sunk or taken. Two of the French admirals, and upwards of thirty thousand of their men, were either slain or drowned. Edward, who was himself slightly wounded in the thigh, lost but two ships and four thousand men. History scarcely affords an instance of so sanguine, so complete a naval victory. And as the French ministers dared not acquaint Philip with it, his buffoon hinted it to him by entering his presence in a seeming passion, and exclaiming, " Cowardly English ! dastardly English ! faint hearted English ! for they durst not leap out of their ships into the sea like our brave French and Normans have done at Sluys." After cruising about for a few days in search of the escaped vessels, Edward, who throughout the action had displayed extraordinary prowess and valour, entered the Sluys in triumph, landed on the following day, and after returning


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