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go over to the enemy took refuge in Rouen, or escaped to England.


The famous siege of Château Gaillard lasted for six months from the end of September or the beginning of October 1203 until the surrender of Roger de Laci on March 6, 1204.1 The detailed narrative devoted to the siege by William the Breton has given to it an importance in history which has been denied to other incidents of the The preference of history is, perhaps, not quite just; it is possible that the investment of Rouen or the defence of Loches might have taken as permanent a place in our annals if the chaplain of Philip Augustus had had an equal interest in describing them.2 Yet it cannot be denied that the operations against Château Gaillard were conducted on a scale which was especially elaborate and required all the resource of Philip's ingenuity. Antiquaries profess their ability to this day to trace the course of his lines.3

Except from the Philippid and the prose additions made by William the Breton to Rigord's chronicle, we know nothing of the inner history of the defence. The English records contain a few references to the captives; but, so far as is known, the constable of Chester had with him no literary companion, and no stories of the siege have strayed

1. William the Breton's chronicle and Philippid, (ed. Delaborde, i, 212-220; ii, 176-209). The narratives of Deville and Miss Norgate are based upon William. See also Viollet-le-Duc, An Essay on the Military Architecture of the Middle Ages, Eng. tr. (1860), pp. 90-94; Dieulafoy, in Mém. de l'Institut: Academie des Inscriptions et belles lettres, xxxvi, part i, pp. 373–378; Coutil, op. cit. pp. 84-93.

2. William the Breton hints as much in his reference to Loches and Chinon (Delaborde, ii, 225, 226).

3. See the plan in Viollet-le-Duc and Coutil. On the other hand, it must be remembered that Charles VII also invested the castle in 1449 and drew lines of circumvallation.

4. e.g., Rot. de Lib., 103, loan by the king for the ransom of the constable of Chester. There is also a notice of privileges granted to a Jew who had lent money to the constable at Château-Gaillard; Rot. Pat., 47.

into the English and Norman chronicles of the time. The garrison was, like the garrison of Vaudreuil, controlled by an Anglo-Norman baron, and was largely composed of Englishmen. It would be interesting to know how they behaved in a stronghold so much more complicated in its structure than any castle of Kent or Yorkshire; only a description by one who had seen from within the fall of the outwork, of the outer bailey, and, finally, of the "citadel" could solve the problems which are still unsolved. Was the castle too restricted in its dimensions? were its elaborate arrangements mutually injurious ?2 Or did the defence of the apparently impregnable citadel, with its embossed curtain wall and the scientific angles of its keep, require a knowledge which was not possessed by the constable and his followers? 3


King Philip's attack on Andeli had begun in August, when he occupied the peninsula formed by the great bend of the Seine. The defenders of the new town and of the isle withdrew from their outworks in this plain and broke down the bridge between them and it. It is supposed by modern scholars that Philip, not satisfied with the protection afforded to his operations by the possession of Vaudreuil and Gaillon, ordered a ditch and rampart to be made across the peninsula from Bernières to Tosny. 5 The

1. The archbishop of Canterbury was granted one of the prisoners captured at Mirebeau towards the redemption of his knights who had been captured at Château-Gaillard; Rot. Pat., 40b; April 12, 1204. 2. Viollet-le-Duc, p. 94.

3. Dieulafoy, p. 376. Dieulafoy points out that the castle contained at least one defect in the stone bridge which crossed the ditch between the outer bailey and the citadel. This bridge was fixed, and offered some protection to the engineers during the attack.

4. Above, p. 286.

5. This is Viollet-le-Duc's view, based on existing earthworks. But there is no reference to the ditch and rampart in William the Breton's description of the siege, and as the night attack by John's mercenaries was only stopped by the walls of the camp, their existence cannot be regarded as proved. Cf. above, p. 374 note.

palisade which King Richard had built across the stream above the Isle was broken down by strong swimmers, and a bridge of boats, which was protected by lofty wooden towers erected upon a platform of four broad ships, was constructed below the town. Andeli and Château Gaillard were thus cut off from the north. The Normans made one attempt to break down Philip's barrier. It was made by night. A troop of mercenaries attacked the camp at Bernières, while a fleet of boats was brought up stream. But the plan miscarried. The mercenaries destroyed the camp, but were unable to penetrate further. The French were roused on both sides of the river and repelled from the bridge the boats which the coming of dawn revealed. Soon afterwards the Isle and town surrendered. The investment of the Rock was commenced, and the fall of Radepont at the end of September cut off all hope of speedy relief.

For three months Philip was content to draw double lines of circumvallation and to await results. His headquarters were probably at Gaillon, while his troops lay within the lines. In January the construction of great siege engines and towers began, and after a series of fierce assaults, in the course of which Philip resorted to every contrivance of which he was master, the castle surrendered early in March.

Rigord states that the garrison of Radepont had consisted of twenty knights, one hundred men-at-arms and thirty balistarii, and that at Château Gaillard thirty-six knights were captured and four slain.2 Radepont was an important stronghold, and it is probably not far from the truth to conclude, as these figures suggest, that a garrison of double the size would be sufficient to defend the Rock.

1. Cf. Philippid, 1. vii, v. 576 :

"Temporis id circa rex e Gaillone profectus

Venerat Andelii castrum visurus."

But of course he did not stay in the neighbourhood all the time. See the itinerary in the Actes, p. cvi.

2. Delaborde, i, 159.

On this computation we may assume that besides the forty knights about two hundred servientes, and about sixty engineers and crossbowmen, or three hundred in all, had co-operated with the constable of Chester. At the beginning of the siege the place had also contained several hundred refugees, but Roger de Laci gradually dismissed all non-combatants. The last batch, over four hundred in number, were refused a passage by the French in the expectation that the constable would be forced to feed them and so to reduce his supplies. William the Breton suggests that many of them were friends and relations of those within the walls. But the constable and garrison were obdurate, and the story is known to all how the unfortunates lived through the winter in the caves and hollows of the Rock, victims of stray darts and stones, starved by cold and hunger.1 When Philip at length took pity upon them and gave them food, nearly all died.

The way was now cleared, and the king entered Normandy on May 2nd, the Sunday after Easter.2 He struck straight at the castles which protected Caen. After the fall of Château Gaillard the Normans had withdrawn from the Seine valley above Rouen and from the Risle.3 Pont de l'Arche, Roche Orival, Neubourg, Moulineaux and Montfort were either destroyed or surrendered about this time. Philip decided to follow up the Normans as they retired and to capture Falaise and Caen. It is probable, also, that he knew from deserters how disaffected Falaise was, and that he suspected the treacherous leanings of Louvrecaire. Arques and Verneuil, on the contrary, were both strong and steadfast; and Philip had already experienced more than once the difficulties which accompanied an attack upon Rouen. A still more urgent 1. William the Breton's Chronicle, Ibid, i, 217.


2. Ibid, i, 220, and Rigord (i, 160).

3. Ibid, ii, 208.

4. i.e., Château Fouet; see Round, in Eng. Hist. Rev. (xix, 148). 5. For such a deserter and the feeling at Falaise, see the Querimoniae Normannorum, nos. 431, 460, 462, etc.

reason for an invasion of central Normandy was that he could rely upon the co-operation of his Breton allies. Therefore, leaving Arques, Rouen and Verneuil for the present upon either hand, he marched westwards.

It is probable that the king took a road north of Verneuil through Lire, where he could cross the Risle. On May 7th he was at Argentan.1 This place had been entrusted to Roger of Gouy, a Flemish knight, who in his youth had joined the following of the young King Henry and had been a close companion of William the Marshal. He was known to be a brave warrior, but somewhat too fond of gain. Nothing is known of the fate of Argentan, but as Roger was afterwards for a time in Philip's service, we may presume that the place had surrendered voluntarily. The king passed on to Falaise. The seneschal had left Louvrecaire in charge, but the famous mercenary made no defence. The townsmen were afraid of the damage and inconveniences which a siege entailed, and after seven days the town and its noble fortress were surrendered. The Bessin was at Philip's feet. The citizens of Caen had already offered to surrender, and William the Breton raises a note of exultation over the addition of the Norman capital, second only to Paris, set by fair streams among fruitful fields, adorned with churches and rich in merchandise, to the domain of his master.3 Bayeux and the other cities of central Normandy surrendered in their turn. William Crassus, whose unpopularity must help to

1. Actes, no. 813, ed. p. 507. Here Geoffrey of Martel offered his services and undertook to bring over to Philip the barons of Anjou and Poitou.

2. Roger of Gouy received Argentan on October 1, 1203 (Rot. Norm., 105-6). He gave up his nephew to John as a hostage (Rot. de Lib., 69). Although he was afterwards well known in England, he was forced for a time to abjure the realm (June, 1204, Rot. Pat., 43b). On his character, see Guillame le Maréchal, iii, 43.

3. Delaborde, ii, 211-2. There may have been some resistance for Philip took some persons prisoner here (Rot. Pat., 45b).

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