Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sir John Smythe: Unreliable Narrator

Smythe in his 1590 Certain Discourses, gives a detailed account of a combat during the siege of Thérouanne in 1513, in which an English supply convoy was ambushed by a French force "which did farre exceed the English in number", The English drew their "carriages into a conuenient forme" with archers both filling the gaps between the carts and "in the two open places of the carriages before and behind" so that the French "were that day repulsed and ouerthtrowne by the excellencie of Archers", and "one of their chief Captaines, called Monsieur de Plessis lifting up his sword to strike, was with an arrowe shot in the arme hole through his gusset of maile, and there slain" Smythe names as a source a certain "old English Gentleman yet aliue...Master Caudwell that was there present"

Old indeed. If Master Caudwell was only eighteen at the time of the battle, he would have been 95 by the time Smythe published his Discourses.

Smythe seems to have conflated three different incidents.

In June of 1513, according to Hall's Chronicle, an English convoy was overrun and looted by French light horsemen, with 30 English archers and eight English gentleman killed. The French lost 87 horses and "diverse" Frenchmen.

In August of 1513, a cavalry skirmish near Guinegate, also called "The Battle of the Spurs" ended in a French route. The French captain Jacques de la Palice was captured.

In 1429, an English supply convoy was attacked by superior French forces near Vouvray. Forming a defensive circle of wagons the English defeated the attack in what would later be called the Battle of the Herrings

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