Thursday, June 29, 2006

How Sir Jacques de Lalaing did arms in Scotland 1449

How Sir Jacques de Lalaing did arms in Scotland; and of many other particulars in the house of Burgundy.

And when Sir Jacques saw that he could find nothing more to do there he returned and found the good Duke of Burgundy in his city of Lilles where he received him full lightly and with a great heart. But it was not long before he took leave of the Duke, and took himself by sea to the realm of Scotland. And he was accompanied by Simon de Lalainge, his uncle and Herves de Meriadet and many other good people. And as I understand Sir James Douglas, brother of the Earl Douglas, and the said Sir Jacques de Lalaing had formerly agreed to do the will of one against the other and each sought each other to meet together, and so Sir James Douglas arranged that a battle would be done before the King between him and Sir Jacques de Lalaing. But the matter increased and multiplied so that a battle to the outrance was concluded, for three noble Scotsmen to meet with Sir Simon de Lalaing, Sir Jacques de Lalaing and Herve de Meriadet, and that they would all do arms at one time for the King of Scotland. And when the day came for the battle, the King received them in the lists most honorably, and because I was not there at that feat of arms I must omit certain ceremonies which occurred as an example in times to come.

But there were three memorable things in the battle, which was very fiercely fought on both sides. The first was that when the three were being armed at the lodgings of the Duke of Burgundy, each one with his coat of arms on his back and about to leave to go to the battle, Sir Jacques de Lalaing spoke to Sir Simon de Lalaing, his uncle, and to Meriadet and told them “My lords and my brother, in this fine day of battle you know that it is for my enterprise that we have come into the realm and that the battle has been put together by agreement with Sir James Douglas, and although each one of us is able to aid his companion, I pray and require of you that whatever happens to me today neither of you come to me or rescue me, because it will seem that you have crossed the sea and entered into this battle only to help me, and that you do not hold or know me as a man to sustain the assault and the battle of a single knight, and hold a low account of me and my chivalry.”

And after that request the champions left their pavilions armed and equipped with axes, lances, swords and daggers, and they were able to either throw or push with the lances as they pleased. The two knights, James Douglas and Jacques de Lalaing were in the middle to encounter each other as they did; and on the right hand was sir Simon de Lalaing, who was to encounter the Scots squire, and Meriadet to encounter with a very powerful and renowned knight; but they found themselves in the opposite position so that the knight was on the end with Sir Simon. And so Meriadet who desired to meet with the one that he intended, without having regard or thought of his fame, crossed to put himself before the said Sir Simon to meet with his man. But the good knight with coolness and assurance turned himself towards Meriadet and said to him “Brother let each one hold with the one that he meets and I will do well, if it please God” And the said Meriadet returned to face his man and that is the second thing which I wish to recount.

And the champions took themselves to march the one against the other, and the three of the party of Burgundy doubted that the place was suitable for the lances, and they all at one time threw their lances behind them and that is the third matter of my tale, and taking their axes they ran against the Scots, who came to the push of the lance but it profited them nothing. While they all fought at one time, I am only able to speak of their adventures one after the other.

The two knights, James Douglas and Jacques de Lalaing approached each other and pressed each other so closely that they had no weapons remaining to them,neither the one not the other, except for a dagger that the Scotsman held; and the said Sir Jacques held him by the arm near the hand in which he held the said dagger, and he held him with the other hand beneath the elbow, so that they turned themselves around the lists by the strength of their arms, and that went on for a long time.

Sir Simon de La Laing and the Scots knight were two powerful knights and there was no doubt of the subtlety of their axe play, and like two valiant knights and hardy, they so sought each other and found each other so often that in a little while they damaged the visors of their bassinets and their weapons and their harness with the strokes that they had given and received, and they gave up little ground to each other.

And on the other part came Herves de Meriadet and the Scotsman came to hit Meriadet with a push of the lance; but Meriadet turned aside the blow with the handle of his axe, so that the lance fell out of the hands of the Scotsman and Meriadet followed up so vigorously that before the Scotsman was able to unsling his axe he entered within, and with a throw carried him to earth. And Meriadet stepped back to let the Scotsman rise who was quick, light and of great courage, and he lifted himself quickly and ran under at the said Meriadet for the second time, and Meriadet who was a man who was one of the most redoubted squires of his time, strong, light, cool and dextrous in arms and in wrestling, received the Scotsman coolly and with great watchfulness and soon after made an entry on the Scotsman. And with that entry he gave such a great blow that he carried him to earth with a stroke of the axe, and quickly the Scotsman sought to lift himself, but Meriadet put his palm and knee against the back of the Scotsman, and again made him fall and kiss the sand. And despite the request that Sir Jacques de Lalaing had made of him, the said Meriadet, seeing the two knights wrestle together, went to aid the said Sir Jacques, but the King of Scotland threw down his baton and had them parted with the said Meriadet free in his battle to rescue his companions at his pleasure. And because this was done against my order I have written of this battle without personally having seen it. I have written the truth according to the report of the Scots and those of our party, so that I was able to recount it without error, because I would charge to Sir Jacques the enterprise of this fine adventure and others that came about.

Oliver de la Marche, Memories Paris 1884 II. 105

Translation by Will McLean, Copyright 2006

4 comments:

Tibor said...

Probable textual error in entry: hat went on for along time.

Thanks for posting!

jovialiste said...

"But there were three memorable things in the battle, which was very fiercely fought on both sides". Surely.

Will McLean said...

Thanks for the catch, Tibor.

Eric Blair said...

Gotta love those Burgundians.