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- Saint George for England - 47/47 -


amusement of the citizens of Burgos, outside whose walls his army lay encamped.

The prince was now obliged to remind the king of his promise to pay his troops; but nothing was farther from the mind of the treacherous monarch than to carry out the promises which he had made in exile. He dared not, however, openly avow his intentions; but, trusting to the chapter of accidents, he told the prince that at Burgos he could not collect a sufficient sum; but if the army would march into Leon and take up their quarters near Valladolid, he himself would proceed to Seville, and would as soon as possible collect the money which he had bound himself to furnish. The plan was adopted. Edward marched his troops to Valladolid, and Don Pedro went to Seville.

Some time passed on without the arrival of the promised money, and the prince was impatient to return to Aquitaine. Don Henry had gathered a force in France, secretly assisted by the French king, and had made an inroad into Aquitaine, where he obtained several successes, and was joined by many of the disinterested nobles of that province.

"You were right," the prince said to Walter one day; "this treacherous king, who owes his kingdom to us, intends to break his plighted word. I know not what to do; my men are clamorous for their pay, and I am unable to satisfy them. Don Pedro still sends fair promises, and although I believe in my heart that he has no intention of keeping them, yet I can hardly march against him as an enemy, for, however far from the truth it may be, his pretext that the treasury has been emptied by his brother, and that in the disturbed state of the kingdom no money can be obtained, may yet be urged as valid."

Scarcely had the army encamped before Valladolid when a terrible pestilence attacked the army. For a while all questions of pay were forgotten, and consternation and dismay seized the troops. Neither rank nor station was of avail, and the leaders suffered as severely as the men. Every day immense numbers died, and so sudden were the attacks, and so great the mortality, that the soldiers believed that Don Pedro had poisoned the wells in order to rid himself of the necessity of fulfilling his obligations.

The Black Prince himself was prostrated, and lay for some time between life and death. A splendid constitution enabled him to pull through, but he arose from his bed enfeebled and shattered, and although for some years he lived on, he received his death-blow at Valladolid. His personal strength never came to him again, and even his mind was dulled and the brightness of his intellect dimmed from the effects of the fever. When he recovered sufficiently to inquire into the state of his forces, he was filled with sorrow and dismay. Four-fifths of the number were either dead or so weakened as to be useless for service again. The prince wrote urgently to Don Pedro for the money due; but the king knew that the English were powerless now, and replied that he had not been able to collect the money, but would forward it to Aquitaine, if the prince would return there with his army. Edward knew that he lied, but with only 6000 or 7000 men, many of whom were enfeebled by disease, he was not in a position to force the claim, or to punish the base and ungrateful king. Again, therefore, he turned his face north.

Charles of Navarre had now allied himself with Don Henry, and refused to allow the remnants of the army to pass through his dominions, although he granted permission to the prince himself and his personal attendants and friends. The southern route was barred by the King of Arragon, also an ally of Don Henry; but with him the prince was more successful. He had a personal interview with the monarch, and so influenced him that he not only obtained permission for his troops to pass through his dominions, but detached him from his alliance with Don Henry, and induced him to enter into a friendly treaty with Pedro.

A greater act of magnanimity was never performed. In spite of the base ingratitude with which he had been treated, and the breach of faith which saddled him with enormous liabilities and debts, which weighed him down and embittered the rest of his life, Edward remained faithful to the cause of his father's ally, and did his best to maintain him in the position which English valour had won for him. He himself with a few companions passed through Navarre, and arrived safely in Bordeaux, where his wife awaited him, and where he was received with rejoicings and festivities in honour of his glorious campaign in Spain.

His health was now irreparably injured. Troubles came thick upon him in Aquitaine, and he had no longer the energy to repress them. Risings took place in all directions, and the King of France renewed the war. In addition to his own troubles from the debts he had incurred, and the enemies who rose against him, he was further shaken by the death of his mother Philippa, whom he tenderly loved. His friend Chandos, too, was killed in a skirmish. Unhappily, while thus weakened in mind and body the treachery of the bishop and people of Limoges, who, having bound themselves by innumerable promises to him, surrendered their city to the French, caused him to commit the one act of cruelty which sullied the brightness of an otherwise unspotted career, for at the recapture of the town he bade his soldiers give no quarter.

This act, although common enough at the time, is so opposed to the principles of mercy and humanity which throughout all the previous acts of his life distinguished the conduct of the Black Prince that it cannot be doubted that his brain was affected by the illness which was fast hurrying him to the grave. Shortly afterwards he returned to England, and busied himself in arranging the affairs of the kingdom, which his father's failing health had permitted to fall into disorder. For the remaining four years of life he lived in seclusion, and sank on the 8th of June, 1376.

Walter, Lord Somers, returned home after the conclusion of the campaign in Spain, and rode no more to the wars.

Giles Fletcher and his wife had died some years before, but the good citizen Geoffrey the armourer, when he grew into years, abandoned his calling, and took up his abode at Westerham Castle to the time of his death.

In the wars which afterwards occurred with France Walter was represented in the field by his sons, who well sustained the high reputation which their father had borne as a good and valiant knight. He and his wife lived to a green old age, reverenced and beloved by their tenants and retainers, and died surrounded by their descendants to the fourth generation.


Saint George for England - 47/47

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