صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

CHAPTER VI.

BATTLE OF AGINCOURT.

The French were all fresh troops, commanded by the best warriors of a warlike nation; they were eager for the fight, thought themselves sure of an easy victory, and mustered one hundred and fifty thousand men.

The English were weakened by disease, and worn “ by rainy marching in the painful field,” and were outnumbered six to one; but although fatigued and oppressed by cold, hunger, and other discomforts, and scarcely daring to hope for success on the morrow, they kept up their spirits: they made their peace with God, by confessing their sins with tears, and many of them took the sacra

ment. Thus, both armies passed the night, even as it is beautifully described by Shakspere :

“From camp to camp, through the foul womb of

night, The hum of either army stilly sounds, That the fix'd sentinels almost receive The secret whispers of each other's watch: Fire answers fire: and through their paly flames Each battle sees the other's umber'd face: Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs Piercing the night's dull ear: and from the tents, The armourers, accomplishing the knights, With busy hammers closing rivets up, Give dreadful note of preparation. The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll, And the third hour of drowsy morning name. Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul, The confident and over-lusty French Do the low-rated English play at dice; And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night, Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp So tediously away. The poor condemn’d English, Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires Sit patiently, and inly ruminate

The morning's danger; and their gesture sad,
Investing lank-lean cheeks, and war-worn coats,
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts."

copy, “a

When, on the morning of Friday, the 25th of October, 1415, the French were all drawn up in three battalions, “it was,” says Monstrelet, whose account I grand sight to view; and they were, on a hasty survey, estimated to be more than six times the number of the English. After they had been thus arranged, they seated themselves by companies as near to their own banners as they could, to wait the coming of the enemy; and while they refreshed themselves with food, they made up all differences that might before have existed between any of them. In this state they remained till between nine and ten o'clock in the morning, no way doubting, from their numbers, but the English must

[ocr errors]

fall an easy prey to them. Some, however, of the wisest of them had their fears, and dreaded the event of an open battle.

. “ The English, on that morning, perceiving that the French made no advances to attack them, refreshed themselves, with meat and drink. After calling on the Divine aid against the French, who seemed to despise them, they dislodged from Maisoncelles, and sent some of their light troops in the rear of the town of Agincourt, where, not finding any men-at-arms, in order to alarm the French, they set fire to a barn and house belonging to the priory of St. George of Hesdin. On the other hand, the king of England despatched about two hundred archers to the rear of his army, with orders to enter the village of Tramecourt secretly, and to post themselves in a field near the van of the French, there to remain quiet until it should

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

be

proper time for them to use their bows. The rest of the English remained with King Henry, and were shortly after drawn up in battle array by Sir Thomas Erpingham, a knight grown grey with age and honour, who placed the archers in front, and the men-at-arms behind them. He then formed two wings of men-at-arms and årchers, and posted the horses with the baggage in the rear. Each archer planted before himself a stake sharpened at both ends.

“Sir Thomas, in the name of the king, exhorted them all most earnestly to defend their lives; and thus saying, he rode along their ranks, attended by two persons: When all was done to his satisfaction, he flung into the air a truncheon, which he held in his hand, crying out, “Nestrocque ! (the signal agreed on for the archers at Tramecourt to shoot,) and then dismount

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« السابقةمتابعة »