Saturday, June 23, 2012

De Vaudrey and de Compais Fight on Foot with Swords 1443

A deed done at the pas de l'arbre de Charlemagne

...the duke returned to the side of the lists ordained for combats on foot, with a white baton in his hand to serve as judge. He was very honorably accompanied by those of his blood, his nobility and his council. It wasn't long before Jehan de Compais very humbly presented himself before the duke, to perform and accomplish his arms, according to the conditions of the violet shield that he had touched, and according to the written chapters of the noble pas. De Compais presented himself unarmored, and dressed in a long robe embroidered with gold, and, after being received by the duke, de Compais retreated to his pavilion, to arm himself and make himself ready to perform his arms. It wasn't long before Antoine de Vaudrey, lord de l'Aigle rode out of the castle of Perigny. He was armed for combat on foot, a bassinet on his head with the visor raised, and over his harness arrayed in his coat of arms, with his horse covered with the same arms. Lord de Charny and his companions accompanied him, and other noble men, their friends and peers, and so he entered the lists, dismounted, and likewise very humbly presented himself before the judge his sovereign lord, and the lord de Charny spoke to present him. The duke received him in a very fine fashion, and de Vaudrey retreated to his pavilion.

It wasn't long before de Vaudrey had the two pairs of weapons, with which the arms were to be fought, delivered to the marshal of Burgundy. They were two axes and two swords, and each pair similar. The marshal presented them to the judge, and then presented them to Jehan de Compais, to choose which of the two weapons he wanted to use to perform his enterprise of battle, and to retain the weapon of his choice. De Compais chose the battle with swords and retained one, and returned the other with the two axes to the marshal. They had the weapons carried back, and the sword of arms given to those who served Antoine, and they made the customary cries and warnings. At that everyone left the lists except the eight men at arms as guards and sentinels and to separate the champions, and those who had license or orders from the duke or from his marshal.

That done, the champions left their pavilions. It seems, as I recall, that Antoine de Vaudrey left his pavilion first, or that I saw him first. He had the visor of his bassinet raised, and made a grand cross with his bannerol; and the lord de Charny gave him his sword, which he gripped in two hands, the left hand reversed and protected by the rondel, and so de Vaudrey advanced. On the other side Jehan de Compais left his pavilion, armed as is appropriate for such occaisions, his coat of arms on his back and a bassinet on his head with visor closed. Making the sign of the cross with his bannerol and taking his sword, he saw de Vaudrey advancing with his visor raised, and quickly stopped to raise his own. But de Vaudrey on his side, when he saw de Compais outside his pavilion with visor closed, knocked down his own, and then, seeing his companion raise his, he stopped to raise his own. But it happened that both of them, each one being alone, were unable to raise or open their visors, and they remained with their bassinets closed.

So they took up their swords again, and I remember that de Compais carried his sword with the left hand before, not reversed, and it was that hand that was shielded and protected by the rondel. And to regain his place in the list to encounter his companion, he ran straight forward. The two squires came together fiercely, and de Compais made the first stroke, but hit de Vaudrey's rondel. With his counterstroke, de Vaudrey gave point with his estoc to the bassinet of his companion. Why make a long prologue or long tale of these arms? The squires were strong, hardy, and courageous, and sought each other so harshly that they quickly achieved the fifteen strokes contained in their chapters, and more, without either gaining advantage, or giving ground, or losing their weapons. And they made solid hits on the body so often that the coats of arms of each of them were torn and ripped in many places. And finally de Vaudrey pierced the visor of his companion, and when de Compais felt it pierced, he threw his estoc with all his strength at the visor of his companion, and with that stroke they were both similarly taken in the visor. Each champion held the other by the pierced visor, and they lifted their swords so that both of them had their face naked and uncovered, and at that the judge threw down his baton, and had the guards restrain and separate them.

The came before the judge, each of them offering to finish if he wanted them to, but the duke of Burgundy told them that they had accomplished their arms resolutely and well, and that they had done enough, commanding them to touch together, and remain friends and brothers. They did this quickly, each returning to their own end of the lists....They left these arms with honor on both sides, and in truth they did their arms fighting so well and so fiercely, with so many strokes given to the body on each side that I haven't seen the like since. Nor have I seen, from that day to this, any combat with estoc on foot fought without retreat: and those who undertake it will find it hard to complete.

Oliver de la Marche, Memoires Paris 1884 I. 328.

Translation copyright 2002 Will McLean

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