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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 227



Scotland, and Cyprus, at his mansion in the Vintry. One of the prisoners of Poitiers was the renowned warrior, Sir Bertrand du Gnesclin, At an entertainment given by Philippa to the noble French pri soners, the Black Prince proposed that Du Gueselin should, in accordance with the etiquette of the times, name his own ransom, declaring that, be the sum great or small, it should set him free. " I value myself at one hundred thousand crowns," answered the proud Breton. '1 Good heavens !" exclaimed the prince, astonished at the largeness of the amount : " How can you possibly raise such a sum ?" "How? " retorted Du Guesclin, readily, "for all the knights in Brittany would rather mortgage their castles and their lands, than Sir Bertrand should pine in prison or be rated below his value. Besides, as I have ever demeaned myself towards the gentle sex with kindness and courtesy, all the fair spinners in France would devote a portion of their earnings to set me free. Think, then, prince, if I should long remain your captive, when all the French women who toil at the distaff would employ their hands to procure my liberty." rhUippa, who had given an attentive ear to this discourse, now spoke as follows :— " Fair son, I will myself contribute fifty thousand crowns towards Du Guesclin's ransom ; for, although my husband's enemy, he deserves my assistance, on account of the many times he has perilled his life to afford protection to the weaker sex." On this, Sir Bertrand fell on his knees before the Queen, and, with uplifted hands, thanked her for her bounty, declaring that, being the least comely knight in France, he only expected goodness from those ladies whom he had aided by his sword. In 1357, King Edward celebrated the victory of Poitiers by a grand tournament, held in Smithfield, in the presence of the Queen and the ladies of the court. The spectacle was one of the most splendid of its kind. At the feast, the cap tive monarchs of France and Scotland sat on each side of the king as guests ; and the armour in which they tilted at the tournay has been preserved, and is now in the possession of Queen Victoria. This tournament was followed, in the spring of 1359, by one held also in London, if possible still more imposing, and at which the King in disguise personated the mayor, his two eldest sons the sheriffs, and two other of his sons, with several noblemen, the aldermen of the city. A tolerable proof that the mayor and sheriffs of London possessed the same rights as the privileged classes, and, also, that the wealthier order of citizens were educated in the use of knightly arms. Being unable to obtain from the French nobles such terms as he desired for the release of their captive monarch, Edward closely confined John in the Towrer of London, and prepared to reinvade France with forces more formidable than ever. He embarked on this campaign on tho twenty-ninth of October, 1359, accompanied by his consort Philippa and all his sons, saving Thomas of AVoodstock, who, although but five years old, was nominated guardian of tbe kingdom during the absence of his father, and when parliaments were held, actually took his seat on the throne as the representative of the majesty of the country. After traversing France from end to end, and committing the most disgraceful ravages, Edward, whilst proceeding to besiege Paris, was stopped in his career of devastation by the outburst of one of those dreadfully destructive thunderstorms, which occasionally pass over the trench continent. The fury of this storm was so overwhelming, that thousands of men and horses were struck dead before the eyes of the English king ; and the sight of this, the hulk of the hailstones, the violence of the wind, the incessant glare of the lightning, and the unintermitting roll and crash of tha thunder, awakened in the heart of Edward a sense of the horrors occasioned by his ambition. Overcome by remorse, he sprang from his saddle, knelt down on the spot, and stretching his hands towards the cathedral of Chartres, vowed


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