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- At Agincourt - 1/58 -


[Illustration: GUY AYLMER SAVES THE KING'S LIFE AT THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT.]

AT AGINCOURT

BY G. A. HENTY

PREFACE

The long and bloody feud between the houses of Orleans and Burgundy--which for many years devastated France, caused a prodigious destruction of life and property, and was not even relaxed in the presence of a common enemy-- is very fully recorded in the pages of Monstrellet and other contemporary historians. I have here only attempted to relate the events of the early portion of the struggle--from its commencement up to the astonishing victory of Agincourt, won by a handful of Englishmen over the chivalry of France. Here the two factions, with the exception of the Duke of Burgundy himself, laid aside their differences for the moment, only to renew them while France still lay prostrate at the feet of the English conqueror.

At this distance of time, even with all the records at one's disposal, it is difficult to say which party was most to blame in this disastrous civil war, a war which did more to cripple the power of France than was ever accomplished by English arms. Unquestionably Burgundy was the first to enter upon the struggle, but the terrible vengeance taken by the Armagnacs,--as the Orleanists came to be called,--for the murders committed by the mob of Paris in alliance with him, was of almost unexampled atrocity in civil war, and was mainly responsible for the terrible acts of cruelty afterwards perpetrated upon each other by both parties. I hope some day to devote another volume to the story of this desperate and unnatural struggle.

G. A. HENTY.

CONTENTS

I. A FEUDAL CASTLE

II. TROUBLES IN FRANCE

III. A SIEGE

IV. A FATAL ACCIDENT

V. HOSTAGES

VI. IN PARIS

VII. IN THE STREETS OF PARIS

VIII. A RIOT

IX. A STOUT DEFENCE

X. AFTER THE FRAY

XI. DANGER THREATENED

XII. IN HIDING

XIII. THE MASTERS OF PARIS

XIV. PLANNING MASSACRE

XV. A RESCUE

XVI. THE ESCAPE

XVII. A LONG PAUSE

XVIII. KATARINA

XIX. AGINCOURT

XX. PENSHURST

ILLUSTRATIONS

GUY AYLMER SAVES THE KING'S LIFE AT THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT.

GUY HAS HIS HEAD BOUND UP AFTER A BOUT AT QUARTER-STAFF.

"THE TWO MEN WHO LIT THE ALARM FIRES RODE INTO THE CASTLE."

"SIR EUSTACE GAVE A LOUD CRY, FOR LYING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIR WAS THE FORM OF HIS SON."

THE LADY MARGARET MAKES HER OBEISANCE TO THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY.

GUY AND LONG TOM COME TO THE RESCUE OF COUNT CHARLES.

"TOM'S BOW TWANGED, AND THE ARROW STRUCK THE HORSEMAN UNDER THE ARM-PIT."

"THE KING EXTENDED HIS HAND TO GUY, WHO WENT ON ONE KNEE TO KISS IT."

"WELL, COMRADE," SAID SIMON, "I SUPPOSE YOU ARE THE MAN I WAS TOLD WOULD COME TO-NIGHT?"

"GUY DELIVERED A SLASHING BLOW ON THE BUTCHER'S CHEEK, AND DASHED PAST HIM."

GUY WELCOMES THE COUNT OF MONTEPONE AND HIS DAUGHTER TO VILLEROY.

"KATARINA SWEPT A DEEP CURTSEY, AND WENT OFF WITH A MERRY LAUGH."

AT AGINCOURT

CHAPTER I

A FEUDAL CASTLE

"And is it true that our lord and lady sail next week for their estate in France?"

"Ay, it is true enough, and more is the pity; it was a sad day for us all when the king gave the hand of his ward, our lady, to this baron of Artois."

"They say she was willing enough, Peter."

"Ay, ay, all say she loved him, and, being a favourite with the queen, she got her to ask the king to accede to the knight's suit; and no wonder, he is as proper a man as eyes can want to look on--tall and stately, and they say brave. His father and grandfather both were Edward's men, and held their castle for us; his father was a great friend of the Black Prince, and he, too, took a wife from England. Since then things have not gone well with us in France, and they say that our lord has had difficulty in keeping clear of the quarrels that are always going on out there between the great French lords; and, seeing that we have but little power in Artois, he has to hold himself discreetly, and to keep aloof as far as he can from the strife there, and bide his time until the king sends an army to win back his own again. But I doubt not that, although our lady's wishes and the queen's favour may have gone some way with him, the king thought more of the advantage of keeping this French noble,--whose fathers have always been faithful vassals of the crown, and who was himself English on his mother's side,--faithful to us, ready for the time when the royal banner will flutter in the wind again, and blood will flow as it did at Cressy and Poitiers.

"The example of a good knight like Sir Eustace taking the field for us with his retainers might lead others to follow his example; besides, there were several suitors for our lady's hand, and, by giving her to this French baron, there would be less offence and heart-burning than if he had chosen one among her English suitors. And, indeed, I know not that we have suffered much from its being so; it is true that our lord and lady live much on their estates abroad, but at least they are here part of their time, and their castellan does not press us more heavily during their absence than does our lord when at home."

"He is a goodly knight, is Sir Aylmer, a just man and kindly, and, being a cousin of our lady's, they do wisely and well in placing all things in his hands during their absence."

"Ay, we have nought to grumble at, for we might have done worse if we had had an English lord for our master, who might have called us into the field when he chose, and have pressed us to the utmost of his rights whenever he needed money."

The speakers were a man and woman, who were standing looking on at a party of men practising at the butts on the village green at Summerley, one of the hamlets on the estates of Sir Eustace de Villeroy, in Hampshire.

"Well shot!" the man exclaimed, as an archer pierced a white wand at a distance of eighty yards. "They are good shots all, and if our lord and lady have fears of troubles in France, they do right well in taking a band of rare archers with them. There are but five-and-twenty of them, but they are all of the best. When they offered prizes here a month since for the bowmen of Hants and Sussex and Dorset, methought they had some good reason why they should give such high prizes as to bring hither the best men from all three counties, and we were all proud that four of our own men should have held their own so well in such company, and especially that Tom, the miller's son, should have beaten the best of them. He is captain of the band, you know, but almost all the others shoot nigh as well; there is not one of them who cannot send an arrow straight into the face of a foe at a hundred and twenty yards. There were some others as good who would fain


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