Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Count d'Armagnac Overheats and Drinks Too Much Water, 1391

Many gallant deeds were done this day, which was the feast of St. James and St. Christopher. It was so very hot, that those who bore arms thought they were in an oven, for there was not any wind; and the young men at arms were overpowered by the heat, and unable to exert themselves. Add to this, that the force of the lord de Milan was three to one of the Armagnacs. The dust oppressed them so much, they could not see each other; but the Armagnacs, in this, suffered the most. This was an unfortunate day for the count, who was so overcome by the beat, and near fainting, that he withdrew from the battle, without friend or foe knowing whither he was gone. He had retreated to a small grove of alders, through which ran a little brook; and he no sooner felt his feet in the water, than he thought he was in paradise, and seated himself by the side of the stream. He, with some difficulty, took off his helmet, and remained covered only by the linen scull-cap, and then plunged his face in the water, at the same time, unfortunately, drinking large draughts; for he was thirsty from the heat, and could not quench it. He drank so much, that his blood was chilled, and a numbness of limbs seized him, with a strong inclination to faint. He could not move, and lost the use of speech. His attendants knew not what was become of him, and were the more uneasy, because many prisoners had been made: they therefore ceased fighting.

A short time after this, a squire belonging to the duke of Milan perceived the count d'Armagnac, and wondered much, when he saw him, who he could be; for it was visible he must be some knight or man of high rank: he called out, "Who are you? Surrender; for you are my prisoner." The count heard him, but could not make any answer, as he was unable to articulate, but held out his hand, and made signs that he surrendered. The squire then endeavoured to raise him, but, finding his attempts vain, seated himself beside him, while the skirmish was still continued, and many gallant actions performed.

Sir James de la Berme, being a prudent and valorous knight, perceiving the day was his own, and that many of the enemy were killed and wounded, but that his men were growing weary, and the Armagnacs increasing by fresh men from their camp, ordered a retreat to Alexandria, his men vigorously defending themselves as they retired. The squire, who had fortunately found the count d Armagnac in the state I have. mentioned, unwilling to leave him behind, for he thought him a person of distinction, called to some of his companions to assist in carrying him to the town; and declared that whatever he should receive for his ransom, he would handsomely divide with them for the trouble they would have. They complied with his request, and, with some difficulty, carried him to the squire's lodgings in the city, where the count was disarmed, undressed, and put to bed. By this time, sir James de la Berme had, with his men, re-entered the place, and barricaded the bars and gates, having many prisoners with them. They disarmed and refreshed themselves with what they found at their quarters, as did likewise the Armagnacs, who had been at this skirmish, on their return to the army.

When it was mentioned in the camp that no one knew what was become of the count d'Armagnac, they were much alarmed, and some went to search the places in the neighbourhood where the skirmish had been fought, but, to the great dismay of their companions, they returned without having discovered any traces of him. The squire, into whoso hands he had fallen, desirous to know who he was, addressed himself to a Gascon squire, a man of honour that had been made prisoner, and begged of him to accompany him, with the person who had captured him, to his lodgings. They went thither, and the Lombardy squire led the Gascon to his chamber, where the count d'Armagnac lay bitterly bemoaning. He brought a candle near his face, and said to the Gascon, "My friend, do you know who this man is?" The Gascon, leaning down to examine his features, instantly recognized him, and replied, — "Yes, I ought to know him well; for it is our commander, the count d'Armagnac." The Lombardy squire was rejoiced to hear his prisoner was of such distinction; but the count was so very ill he heard nothing they asked of him. Upon which, his master said; "Come, come, let us leave him quiet, that he may recover himself," and they all quitted the chamber. He died, however, that same night.

FROISSART, J., JOHNES, T., & SAINTE-PALAYE. (1874). Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the adjoining countries, from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV. London, Routledge. Johnes Tr. Vol 2. Book 4. Ch. 26 p. 493

The unfortunate count showed the symptoms of water poisoning or water intoxication. Don't let this happen to you!

The outcome must have been a grave disappointment to the Milanese squire.

No comments: