The Palace de la Paluelle in Saint-James, Normandy.
Part 1 of 2
A LITTLE before this time, Sir Thomas Rampstone, Sir Philip Branche, Sir Nicholas Burdet,* and other Englishmen to the number of five hundred men, repaired and fortified the town of Saint-James,* on the frontiers of Normandy, adjoining to Brittany. Arthur, Earl of Richmond and brother to the Duke of Brittany,* which like an untrue gentleman, sworn and forsworn to the king of England, suddenly fled to Charles the Dolphin:* which much rejoicing of his favour and amity, gave to him the Constableship of France which the Earl of Buchan,* slain before at Verneuil, a small time occupied, and less space enjoyed.
This new Constable, not a little joyful of his high office, thought to do some pleasure to the Dolphin his master; and to advance his name at the first entry into his authority, he imagined no enterprise to be to him more honourable, nor to his prince more acceptable, then to void and drive out of the town of Saint-James de Beuvron, all the English nation. So, in hope of victory, gathered together above forty thousand men,* of Bretons,* Frenchmen and Scots, and environed the town with a strong siege.*
* Sir Thomas Rempston or Rampston (?1392-1458), Sir Philip Branche (?-?1426), and Sir Nicholas Burdet (?-1441). Holinshed’s version of the siege gives much of the credit to Sir Nicholas.
* The town of Saint-James on the Rivers Beuvron and Dierge, in western Normandy near the border with Brittany. The town was fortified in 1067 by William of Normandy, King of England.
* John V (1389-1442), Duke of Brittany from 1399 to his death; Arthur (1393-1458) was his younger brother. John was invested with the title of Earl of Richmond by Edward III, but (as the two brothers had switched sides and backed the French) Henry VI did not recognise Arthur as Earl of Richmond when he became Arthur III, Duke of Brittany, in 1457.
* Hall called Charles ‘the Dolphin’ (in French, ‘the Dauphin’) because this was his royal title in 1415 when Henry V defeated him at the Battle of Agincourt. In Hall’s eyes, the King of France was now Henry’s son Henry VI, and Charles must be content to be the Dauphin still. For his part, Charles called himself King Charles VII of France.
* John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Buchan (?1381–1424), fought for the French kings honouring the ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France, and was appointed Constable by King Charles VII in 1424. He was killed on August 17th, 1424, at the Battle of Verneuil, by the English forces led by John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford.
* Estimates of the size of the French force vary. Holinshed repeated Hall’s figure of 40,000. The Great Chronicle of London (1189-1512) had a more realistic (though still possibly inflated) 20,000.
* That is, people from Brittany.
* The Siege of Saint-James began on February 27th, 1426, and ended on March 6th.
In 1426, during the Hundred Years’ War, a French army laid siege to the town of Saint-James in Normandy, where a small English garrison was stationed. The English had been raiding into Brittany, until recently an ally but now backing the Dauphin Charles, and the Duke of Brittany’s brother Arthur, Earl of Richmond, was determined to stop the raids. (58 / 60 words)
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The Frenchmen seeing the courage of the Englishmen, and hearing their cry, thinking that the Earl of Salisbury was come to raise the siege, ran away like sheep, and there were taken, slain and drowned in the water, of them four thousand men and more. Besides this, these holy gallants left behind them for haste, all their tents, fourteen great guns, and forty barrels of powder, three hundred pipes of wine, two hundred pipes of biscuit and flour, two hundred frailes* of figs and raisins, and five hundred barrels of herring.
* They were shouting for Thomas Montagu (1388-1428), 4th Earl of Salisbury. Other accounts add the name of the Earl of Suffolk.
There were barely six hundred in the English garrison, and the besiegers had many times that number. At last, the English sallied forth from the town fighting and shouting as if they expected reinforcements to join them at any moment. The French were completely taken in, and abandoned the siege in disorder, leaving behind valuable provisions and military gear. (59 / 60 words)