Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Seneschal of Hainault Performs a Deed of Arms in Valencia, 1407

In this same year, an enterprise of arms was undertaken by the good seneschal of Hainault, in the presence of the king of Aragon.

The combatants were to be four against four, and their arms axes, swords and daggers: the combat was to the outrance, subject, however, to the will of the judge of the field. The companions of the seneschal were: Sir Jacques de Montenay, a knight of Normandy, Sir Tanguy du Chastel, a knight from the duchy of Brittany, and a notable esquire called Jean Carmen. Their adversaries were from the kingdom of Aragon, and their chief was named Colomat de Santa Coloma, of the king of Aragon's household, and much beloved by him: the second, Sir Pere de Moncada: the third, Peyronet de Santa Coloma; and the fourth, Bernabo de l’Uovo.

When the appointed day approached, the king had the lists magnificently prepared near to his palace in the town of Valencia. The king came to the seat allotted for him, attended by the duke of Candie, and the counts of Sardinia and of Agnenne (Denia), and others of his high nobility. All round the lists scaffolds were erected, on which were seated the nobles of the country, the ladies and damsels, as well as the principal townspeople. Forty men at arms, richly dressed, were ordered by the king to keep the lists clear; and between their barriers was the constable of Aragon, with a great company of men at arms, richly armed according to the custom of the country. Within the field of combat were two small pavilions for the champions, that were well decorated and adorned with their arms, to repose in, and shelter themselves from the heat of the sun. On the arrival of the king, he made known to the seneschal, by one of his knights, that he and his companions should advance first into the field, since it had been so ordered, as the Aragonese were the appellants. The seneschal and his companions, on receiving this summons, instantly armed themselves, and each mounted their good coursers, which were all alike ornamented with vermillion silk trappings that fell almost to the ground, over which were sown many escutcheons of their arms. And so in noble array they left their lodgings, and advanced toward the gate of the lists. The before-named esquire marched first, followed by Sir Tanguy and Sir Jacqes de Montenay; and last of all, the seneschal, conducted by the seneschal du Chin; when, having entered the lists, they made their reverences on horseback to King Martin of Aragon, who paid them great honor.

They then retired to their tents, and waited an hour and a half for their opponents, who arrived like the others, in a body on horseback. Their horses' trappings were of white silk, sown with escutcheons of their arms. And after they had made their reverences to the king, they retired also to their tents, which were pitched on the right, where they all remained for full five hours thus armed. The cause of this delay was owing to the king and his council wishing to accommodate the matter so they would not fight. Because of this, many messages were sent from the king to the seneschal, proposing that he should not proceed farther; but he answered wisely and well that this enterprise had been undertaken at the request of Colomat, that he and his companions had come from a far country, and at great trouble and expense, to accomplish his desire, which he and his companions were determined to do. At last, after much discussion on each side, it was concluded that they should begin the fight. The usual proclamations were then made in the king's name; and the king at arms of Aragon shouted out loud and clear that the champions must do their duty. Both parties then issued forth from their tents holding their axes in their hands, and marched proudly towards each other.

The Aragonese had settled among themselves that two of them should fall on the seneschal, in the hope of striking him down: both parties were on foot, and they expected he would be at one of the ends of the lists above the others, but he was in the middle part. When they approached, the seneschal stepped forward three or four paces before his companions, and attacked Colomat, who had that day been made a knight by the king’s hand, and gave him so severe a blow with his axe, on the side of his basinet, that it made him step back and turn half round.

And each of the others came very valiantly against the opponent they had picked out. Then Sir Jacques de Montenay threw down his axe, and with one hand seized Sir Pere de Moncada by the lower edge of his lames. In the other he had a dagger with which he sought to wound him underneath. But, as both sides seemed to be getting thoroughly worked up, the king had them restrained.

And in truth, it appeared that the Aragonese would have been in great peril of having the worst of it had the matter been pursued to the utmost [outrance]. The seneschal and those with him were all four very powerful and strong, very experienced in arms, and equal to the accomplishment of any enterprise that might be demanded from them.

When the champions were retired to their tents, the king descended from his scaffold into the lists, and very gently requested of the seneschal and Colomat that the remaining deeds of arms might be referred to him and his council, and he would so act that they should all be satisfied. The seneschal, then falling on one knee, humbly entreated the king that he would consent that the challenge should be completed according to the request of Colomat. The king replied, by again requiring that the completion of the combat should be referred to his judgment; which being granted, he took the seneschal by the hand. And placed him above himself, and Colomat on the other side. He thus led them out of the lists, when each returned to his hotel and disarmed. The king sent his principal knights to seek the seneschal and his companions, whom, for three days, he entertained at his palace, and paid them as much honor as if they had been his own brothers. When he had reconciled them with their opponents, he gave them gifts and fine presents. And they departed thence on their return to France, and the seneschal to Hainault.

Monstrelet, Enguerrand de, and François Noël Alexandre Dubois. 1826. Chroniques d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet. Paris: Verdière [etc.]. Monstrelet, 1857, vol. 1 Chapter 14 pp. 129-133

Although the Buchon editions of Monstrelet date the Deed of Arms to 1403, Martín de Riquer reports that according to Aragonese documents the combat happened on May 30 of 1407.

Translation Copyright Will McLean 2012


Anonymous said...

Wow. A long and unexplained hold, largely for administrative and political reasons?

I felt as if I was back at Pennsic for a minute. :-)

(Thanks for posting - a great story!)

Will McLean said...

I also had a sense of deja vu when I first read this, but King Martin's delays were a lot more reasonable than the one's I experienced at Pennsic. The champions wanted to play a rough game with sharp weapons that nearly got one of them stabbed in the groin. The king had good reason to try to talk them out of it.