Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Combat between Sir John de Mello and the Lord de Chargny, 1435

On the 11th day of August in this year, a combat at arms took place at Arras, in the presence of the duke of Burgundy, as judge of the lists. A handsome scaffold was erected for him in the great market-place, on which were seated behind him the dukes of Bourbon and of Gueldres, the counts de Richemont, constable, de Vendome, d'Estampes, and many other great lords. The combat was between Sir John de Mello, a very renowned knight banneret of Spain, appellant, without any defamatory quarrel, but solely to acquire honour, against Pierre de Bauffremont, lord of Chargny, knight banneret also, a native of Burgundy, and knight of the Golden Fleece. The terms were, to break three lances only. When the lord de Chargny had acceded to this request, he in his turn demanded from the Spanish knight a combat on foot with battle-axes, swords and daggers, until one of them should lose his arms, or place his hands on his knees, or on the ground, -subject, however, in all cases, to the decisions of the judge of the field.

These proposals having been for some time agreed to by the two knights, on Thursday morning, about ten o'clock, the Spanish knight appeared in the lists, attended by four others, whom the duke of Burgundy had ordered to accompany him, -namely, the lord de l'Or, governor of the Rethelois, the lord de Ligny, the lord de Saveuses, and the lord de Sainzelless, with four or five of his attendants, one of whom bore on the end of a lance a small banner emblazoned with his arms. The other knights carried his lances; and thus without more pomp, he made his obeisance to the duke of Burgundy, and retired from the lists by the way he had come on the left hand of the duke. He waited a considerable time for his adversary, who at length appeared grandly accompanied by the counts d'Estampes, de St. Pol, and de Ligny, together with the earl of Suffolk, all bearing his lances. Behind him were four coursers, richly caparisoned with his arms and devices, with pages covered with robes of wrought silver, and the procession was closed by the greater part of the knights and esquires of the duke of Burgundy's household. Having made his bow to the duke, as the Spanish knight had done, he withdrew to the right of the lists.

When they were ready, they ran some tilts with lances, without any injury on either side. Then the Spaniard mounted a courser which the duke of Bourbon had lent him, for his own shied at a lance. They broke their lances with great courage against each other, until the number agreed on had been performed. Neither were wounded, although the helmet of don Mello was a little broken. They then quitted the lists, with the assent of the duke of Burgundy, and returned to their lodgings accompanied as before.

The Spaniard wore over his armour a vermillion-coloured mantle, with a white cross on it, like to the badge of the French, which created a disgust in some of the Burgundian lords, as it seemed to mark a partiality for their enemies. When he was informed of this, he excused himself by saying, that in consequence of the strict alliance which had so long continued between the kingdoms of France and Spain, he could not with propriety wear any other badge.

On the morrow, which was a Friday, the duke of Burgundy proceeded to the lists, between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, grandly attended by his chivalry, and with him came the princes who had accompanied him the preceding day. Shortly after, the lord de Chargny, the appellant, appeared with the same persons as on the first day, who carried the weapons he was to combat with. He was mounted on a courser covered with housings of his arms, and followed by four pages mounted in like manner, and by the greater part of the knights and esquires of the duke of Burgundy's household, with some other nobles.

Having thus entered the lists, he went to dismount at his pavilion, and thence on foot to make his obeisance to the duke; after which he retired to a seat, where he waited a full hour for his adversary. When he arrived, he was accompanied as on the preceding day, -and the knights and esquires whom the duke of Burgundy had appointed to attend him bore his weapons for the combat. Behind him were his servants, one of them carrying a small banner at the end of a lance. On his entering the lists he saluted the duke, and withdrew to his pavilion. While he remained there, he was frequently admonished by the knights that attended him, who gave him the best advice in their power for the success of his combat, but he paid not any attention to what they said, nor would discover to them his plans, telling them not to be any way concerned about him, for that, with God's good pleasure, he would do his duty.

Everything being ready, the king-at-arms, called Golden Fleece, proclaimed, in three different parts of the lists, that all who had not been otherwise ordered should quit the lists, and that no one should give any hindrance to the two champions under pain of being punished by the duke of Burgundy with death. Eight gentlemen armed were appointed to stop or raise up either of the champions, as the judge of the field should direct. When the proclamation was made, the lord de Chargny issued out of his pavilion, holding his battle-axe in his right hand, the iron part toward his adversary, and thus advanced a little forward.

The Spanish knight advanced at the some time from his pavilion, having a kerchief thrown over his helmet that covered his visor, which was half raised.-but this kerchief was taken away, when he was advancing, by his servants. They made for each other with vigorous strides, brandishing their lances; but the Spaniard all this time had his visor raised. The lord de Chargny, without waiting for his adversary, threw his lance at him as he approached, while the Spaniard advanced to throw his, and hit him on the side, where he was wounded, as well as in the arm, for the lance hung in the vambraces of his armour, whence the lord de Chargny soon shook it off on the ground. The two champions now approached with great courage, and handled their weapons very nobly; but the lord de Chargny was much displeased that his adversary did not close his visor.

While they were thus combating, the duke of Burgundy gave his signal for the battle to cease, and ordered the champions to be brought before him, who seemed very much vexed that an end had be put so soon to their combat, -more especially the Spaniard, who twice declared aloud that he was far from being pleased that so little had been done; for that he had come at a great expense, and with much fatigue, by sea and land, from a far country, to acquire honour and renown. The duke told him that he had most honourably done his duty and accomplished his challenge. After this, they were escorted back to their lodgings in the same manner as before. The Spanish knight was much noticed by very many of the nobles present, who greatly praised him for his courage, in thus having fought with his visor raised, -for the like had not been before seen.

When this combat was over, the duke of Burgundy paid great respect and attention to the Spanish knight, by feasting him at his hotel on the Sunday and following days, -presenting him at the same time with many rich presents, to reimburse him for all the expenses he had been at. The knight soon afterward took leave of the duke and his company, and departed from Arras on his return to his own country.

From: Monstrelet, Enguerrand de, The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet. trans.
Thomas Johnes, two vols., (London, 1877), Book II, Chapter clxxxi.

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