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fortification. The fall of Radepont cut off all hope of
1 relief from the east bank of the Seine, just as the loss of Vaudreuil and the isle made it impossible to bring help up
the other side of the river. We may leave Philip to the heroic encounter which alone adds dignity to this miserable war, and turn to follow the movements of King John. Before the meeting of the French assembly at Mantes, he had thrown off his lethargy, and turning westwards tried to recover Alençon. The itinerary shows that he lay before the town from the 11th to the 15th August, and then moved hurriedly in a north-easterly direction across the wooded heights behind Moulins and Bonmoulins and along the valley which runs down to the Charenton at Chambrais, the modern Broglie. 2 At this castle, which was a favourite stopping place on the road from Lisieux to Verneuil, the king probably found reinforcements, for he immediately set off to Verneuil, which he reached on August 20th. It was presumably on this occasion that the king made his last demonstration on French soil, for, according to William the Breton, about
1. William the Breton, i, 213—216. 2. See the itinerary prefixed to the Patent Rolls. According to the entry for August 18th, the king was at Cambay on this day, and at Chambrais on the following day (Rot. Pat., 33b). Although the name is subpuncted in the roll, it is possible that the king really did pass Cambaium (Cambois), which was a royal residence near Exmes, not far from the line between Alençon and Chambrais (Rot. Scacc., ii, 386 ; Rot. Chart., 96; Stapleton, Observations, I, clxii).
3. For Chambrais, which belonged to Henry of Ferrières, see Stapleton, II, lxix. John stayed here on three or four occasions, and it is mentioned as a stopping place by the biographer of the Marshal (11. 10453, 12775). The road from Lisieux continued through Lire, where it crossed the Risle, and the forest of Breteuil to Verneuil.
the value attached to the stronghold. The grantee and his heirs “facient omnes illos qui in fortericia Radepontis manebunt jurare quod quic quid de illis contingat, sive de morte, sive de prisonia corporum suorum, sive de alia re, nulli reddent fortericiam Radepontis, nisi nobis vel certo nuncio nostro bene cognito qui nostras litteras de hoc portaret" (Cart. Norm., p. 297).
the same time as his fruitless attempt at Alençon, he appeared in force before Brézolles, a fortress on the little stream of the Meuvette, a few miles to the south of the Norman frontier. 1 Here again the French, moving on interior lines, approached in sufficient numbers to force a retreat. On the 21st John was back again at Chambrais.
A month later the king undertook another rapid journey. It is obvious that he feared or was unable to come to close quarters with the French army; for, while Philip Augustus was planting his siege engines round Radepont, he withdrew from Rouen to the west. On September 18th he left Mortain for the Breton frontier. The strategic motive of the new plan, as of his demonstration against Alençon, was probably the same as that which had succeeded in the previous year; he desired to withdraw Philip from his attack on the Seine valley just as by his success at Mirebeau he had forced him to raise the siege of Arques. But John's resources in the autumn of 1203 were not those of May 1202: he could not now rely upon local aid. Indeed, it is possible one reason why he chose this particular moment for his rush into Brittany was that he had heard of the new count's defection. Guy of Thouars had been a supporter of John so long as the latter seemed strong enough to procure him the succession to Brittany, but from the beginning of September he was in opposition along with the Bretons. 2 However this may be, the invasion of
1. William the Breton (ed. Delaborde, i, 212). On the other hand, the king was at Verneuil again in November (1-3) for a longer period and may have attacked Brézolles then. From a clause in the treaty of 1200, it appears that the lordships of Tillières and Brézolles were conterminous (Cart. Norm., p. 280). For the position of Brézolles in the defences of the French frontier, see Bonnard, La Frontière franconormande entre Seine et Perche (1907), p. 28.
2. The confiscations begin at Trianon on September 11th (Rot. de Lib., 63). On the 19th, at Dol, the earl of Leicester was granted the honour of Richmond except the castles of Richmond and Bowes (ibid). In October we have a charter of Philip for Guy of Thouars (Actes, p. 177, no. 783). Guy had been with John at Easter (Rot. Pat., 27).
Brittany was a failure; the cruelty and destructiveness of the king and his mercenaries simply added fuel to the hatred of the Bretons and provoked reprisals in the following year. The cathedral of Dol was sacked and burnt, and the territory of the lords of Fougères was ravaged;1 the precious relics of St. Samson and St. Magloire, which one of John's barons, Philip of Colombiéres, had rescued from the hands of the soldiers, were carried off to Rouen ;2 but on 22nd September, five days after he had set out, John was back again at Mortain. He returned to Rouen 3 slowly by way of Falaise, Lisieux and Montfort-sur-Risle. This was the end of his last campaign in Normandy.
1. William the Breton (i, 212) with Delaborde's note for other authori. ties. William of Fougères, who had the wardship of the young heir to the lordship (Stapleton, II, ccxlviii), had negotiated on Arthur's behalf with the Breton lords in August, 1202 (Rot. Pat., 16, 17), joined count Robert of Alençon in January (Rot. Norm., 71), and by February 7th (ibid, 74 ,77) had definitely thrown in his lot with the Bretons.
2. The chief authority for what happened at Dol is a charter of January, 1223, in which the archbishop of Rouen declares that he restored the relics. It is quoted in A. de la Borderie, Hist. de Bretagne, iii, 293, note. Philip of Colombières was fermor of the forest of Roumare (Rot. Scacc., ii, 552). He was faithful to John : in June, 1204, King Philip gave away his Norman lands (Cart. Norm., p. 16, no. 88). He accompanied John to Ireland in 1210 (Rot. de Lib., 210, 217). His chief holding, owing service of ten knights, was in Somerset (Red Book of the Exchequer, i, 231, iii, 544; Rot. Canc., 3 Joh., p. 210).
3. I am inclined to regard this as the visit to Rouen mentioned in Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 173, although the editor, relying on the order of the narrative, ascribes it to January, 1203. These leaps in the narrative are frequent in the poem. According to the writer, Stephen Longchamp was in prison at Rouen when John arrived : now the confiscation of Stephen's lands is implied on September 22nd (Rot. de Liberate, 64). On August 3rd he was in favour (ibid, 56). He was released in October, since his son a hostage, was sent to Wallingford on or before October 22nd (ibid, 69). On November 23rd he received back some of his lands (Rot. Norm., 113). It is possible that he was imprisoned on account of the loss of Douville (see below p. 271), which must have fallen when Radepont fell in September.
John remained for two more months, but excitement and suspicion preyed upon him. For some mysterious reason he left Rouen on 7th October almost alone. After crossing the river by boat to Notre-Dame-du-Pré, he appears to have ridden in the day to Bonneville-sur-Touque, an enormous distance even for him.' Two days later he celebrated the feast of Saint Denis at Caen, with much drinking of wine. 2 The king next spent some days in the Côtentin at Valognes, then dashing back to the Touque, he set off on a last inspection of Verneuil, the solitary outpost on the frontier. Not daring to make his way across to Rouen by Neubourg, he came all the way back to Lisieux and Hebertot, and so to Rouen. “It was not the straight way, but the other seemed dangerous to him, for he would have come upon his enemies.”3 John had now decided to leave Normandy. It is possible that he merely desired to rally his English vassals, whose money he had been spending at a ruinous rate ;4 certainly he tried to make people in Normandy believe that he would soon be among them again ;5 but the ordinary view was that he really intended flight, 6 and we are bound to admit that
1. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 174.
2. “Computate dilecto nostro R. de Veteri Ponte iiii tunellos vini quos ipse nobis promisit apud . . . potavimus apud festum Sancti Dionisii apud Cadomum.” To the seneschal and barons of the Norman exchequer, October 28th (Rot. Norm., 169). On the Saturday following the feast (October 11th) the king received the regalia from the Bishop of Norwich (Rot. Pat., 35). The itinerary must contain an error for October 9th.
3. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 175. 4. On the export of English treasure, especially in 1203, see below
5. At Caen, November 15th, he forbad the impleading of Ralph of Cailly “de aliquo libero tenemento suo quod teneat nisi coram nobis quousque nos Deus reduxerit de Anglia in Normanniam” (Rot. Pat., 36). Also December 5th, at Barfleur (Rot. Norm., 119).
6. Cf. Hist. des ducs de Normandie et des rois d'Angleterre, p. 97; the chronicle of Andres : "tanquam ad asylum confugiens” (Histor. de France, xviii, 573); Chronicle of Mortemer (ibid, 354).
his movements go far to justify this view. He had much cause for alarm, most of all in the defections in the Norman baronage. Since the days when he had confiscated the estates of the Poitevins and denied them ordinary justice in his court, he had fallen back more and more into the mood of nature. He had treated the prisoners captured at Mirebeau with indignity and cruelty; in many cases he had probably put them to death; the chief prisoner, the heir to John's throne, had disappeared, and since Easter the idle talk of the Bretons must have been repeated in Normandy with a sharper sense of conviction. It is significant that, with the exception of Count Robert, the more important deserters, the count of Evreux, Hugh of Gournai, Peter of Meulan, Guy of Thouars and many more had changed sides soon after the date upon which Arthur was most probably murdered. For a short time the great earl of Chester himself had been suspected, and had been forced to find sureties and to surrender the castle of Similli in the week after Easter. We may be reasonably sure that sympathy with Arthur was not the ruling motive for the conduct of these great barons. Deep questions of law and equity were being mooted as the result of John's appeal to force: the state of nature was soon to end with the social contract of 1215. In the meanwhile Philip had absolved John's vassals from all duty of obedience.3 John might well fear violence as well as treachery.
This was not all. John's last military venture had failed: the exercitus de Alencon had been disbanded,5 and
1. See note C at the end of this chapter for the chief deserters in 1203. 2. Rot. Norm., 96. 3. This is stated in the papal letters to John (Pat. Latina, ccxv, 183).
4. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 175; chronicle of Mortemer (Histor de France, xviii, 354). The remarks of Wendover (i, 318) imply the same view of John's fears.
5. A special talliage had been raised for the expedition against Alençon. See the references to the talliata exercitus de Alencon in Rot. Norm., 115.