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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 226



finding all the bridges on the Loire broken down, he resolved to retire through Touraine and Poitiers into Gnienne. This movement was rendered imperative by the news which he had heard of the King of Prance, who, provoked at the insult offered to him by the Black Prince in thus devastating the kingdom, bad collected an army of sixty thousand men, and was advancing by forced marches to intercept him. The armies came in sight of each other at the village of Maupertius, when, perceiving the danger of his situation, the Prince exclaimed :— "God help us ! for it onlyremains for us to fight bravely !" The Prince's inferiority of force was partly balanced by the advantage of his position,—a rising ground covered with vineyards, and accessible only on one point through a long narrow lane, which would only admit of four horsemen abreast, and with a thick hedge on each side. The armies were scarcely drawn up in battle array, when the Cardinal Perigord hastened to the field, and implored King John to permit him to endeavour to bring the English to terms without further bloodshed. Having obtained from the King a reluctant consent, he rode to the Prince, who, in reply to the application, expressed his readiness to enter into any terms that would not compromise his own honour, or the character of England. This the Cardinal promised. But as John imagined he had the Prince in his power, lie demanded, as his ultimatum, the surrender of tho Prince and a hundred of his knights as prisoners of war. These terms were rejected with indignation; and as the day was well nigh spent, the night was passed in busy preparations for battle. At the dawn of day, on the nineteenth of September, the Prince, addressing his army, told them that victory depended not "on numbers, but on the will of God. " Therefore," he continued, " be you courageous andfight bravely ; and, please God and St. George ! I will this day triumph or die in the attempt,-—for it shall never he said that England had to ransom her Black Prince." 1 Animated by this address, the little ! band received the charge of the French ί with cool intrepidity. The battle was ! commenced by the French cavalry gal-I loping into the lane. For a period they advanced without being molested, but when at length the order was given, the English archers stationed behind the hedges poured in such a destructive volley of arrows, that the passage became choked with dying men and horses. Seizing the propitious moment, the Black Prince, with a body of men-atarms, rushed down the hill on to the moor, which had become the theatre of war, with such steadfast courage, that the main body of the French fled in disorder. The victory was most decisive. The King of France, with his fourth son, Philip, and many hundred knights, were made prisoners. The story of the courtesy of the Black Prince to his royal captives, and his triumphant entry with them into London, is told in every History of England.* We may add, that by all the members of the royal family John was treated rather as an illustrious guest than a captive, the King and the Queen and the nobles frequently visiting and being visited, and sumptuously entertained by him. The palace of Savoy was his London residence ; and on one occasion he was entertained with royal splendour by that wealthy merchant Sir Henry Picard, who was honoured with the visit at one time of the King, the Black Prince, and the Kings of Franco, * When King John entered London a prisoner, so delicate were the attentions of the Black Prince and the citizens, that all the pomp that was displayed seemed as if intended only to honour tho captive monarch. In the streets, as he passed to Westminster, the citizens hung out their armour, their vessels of gold and silver, and their tapestries of Tyrian dye, bedecked with streamers of every hue. "The like" says Bams, "had. never heen seen before in the memory ci man." When they made their entry into London, the King of France WAS monnted on a stately white charger adorned with costly trappings, whilst the I'rince rode on a black palfrey by his side. The procession was received by the Lord Mayor, and other members of the Corporation, with all the respect which they used to pay to their own mo narchs.


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