Thursday, 5 September 2013

Becket's Brief Military Career, Toulouse Campaign 1159

The Toulouse campaign took place along the valley of the river Garonne, the city of Cahors and the surrounding province of Quercy. The City of Toulouse was laid siege to.

After king Henry abandoned the siege against Toulouse, Becket was left behind in the region in charge of military operations against the count of Toulouse.

As narrated by William FitzStephen

(PL 190 0122A) Qualiter cancellarius regi servierit in sua guerra de Tolosa. 


In exercitu et obsidione Tolosae, ubi tota Anglia, Normannia, Aquitania, Andegavis, Britannia, Scotia, in praesidium regis Angliae, militarem manum, etfortitudinem bellicam emisit; cancellarius de propria familia lectam manum militum septingentos milites habebat. Et quidem, si eius paritum esset consilio, urbemTolosam, et regem Franciae, qui favore sororis comitissae Constanciae se immiserat, sed et improvide sine exercitu et manu forti, invassissent et cepissent; tantuserat regis Anglorum exercitus. (0122C) Sed vana superstitione et reverentia rex tentus consilio aliorum, super urbem, in qua esset dominus suus rex Franciae,irruere noluit, dicente in contrarium cancellario, quod personam domini rex Francorum ibi deposuisset, eo quod supra pacta conventa hostem se ei posuisset. Nonmulto post, vocata et congregata venit in urbem militia regis Francorum; et rex Angliae, cum rege Scotiae et omni exercitu suo, inops voti et inefficax propositirediit; capta tamen prius urbe Cadurcio, et plurimis castellis, in vicinia Tolosae, quae erant comitis Tolosae, et suffraganeorum eius, vel quae comes Tolosae regisAngliae fautoribus prius abstulerat. Ad quae omnia retinenda, post reditum regis Angliae, comitibus omnibus recusantibus, solus cancellarius cum sua familia, etsolo Henrico de Essexia, constabulario et barone regis, remansit. (0122D) Et postea tria castra munitissima, et quae inexpugnabilia videbantur, ipsemet loricaindutus et galea, cum suis in manu forti cepit. Sed et Garunnam cum militari manu transiit supra hostes; confirmataque in regis obsequium tota illa provincia,gratiosus et honoratus rediit.

To the army and siege at Toulouse had been sent forth the whole of the forces of England, Normandy, and Aquitaine, together with those of Anjou, Britanny and Scotland to give military assistance and the force of war to the king of England. The chancellor [Becket] led his own band of hand-picked warriors consisting of seven hundred knights selected from his own household. And indeed, if his advice had been listened to, they might have entered the city of Toulouse,  and captured the king of France, who had come at the request of his sister, the Countess [of Toulouse] Constance, but had improvidently neither brought with him an army, nor a strong host of soldiers, and as the army of the king of the England was so great. But the king held back from taking the city by the counsel of others and by the vain superstition and reverence, that it might contain his liege lord, the king of France, and he did not want to rush in. On the contrary said the Chancellor the king of France had foregone being the person of [Henry's] liege lord, when he had made himself [Henry's] enemy despite the agreed pact between them. Not long after having been summoned the soldiers of the king of France assembled in the city, and the king of England, together with the king of Scotland, and all his army being unable to fulfill their determination and inneffectual in their plan, retreated. But not before having taken Cahors, and many other castles in the vicinity of Toulouse which belonged to the Count of Toulouse or his supporters, or to those in the favour of the Count of Toulouse, and which had been taken from the king of England. All of these needed to guarded after the return home of the King of England, but all his earls declined to do this. Only the Chancellor with his household, and Henry de Essex, constable and baron of the king, and his body of men, remained behind. And later clad in a coat of mail and a helmet he personally led his force of men, against three heavily fortified forts, which appeared to be impregnable, capturing them. Afterwards he crossed over the Garonne with his force, overwhelming the enemy and reducing the whole province into submission to the King. He returned in much favour and with honour.

(PL 190 0122D) Item qualiter se habuit in guerra Francorum. 

Postmodum autem in guerra regis Francorum et domini sui regis Anglorum in Marchia, ad communem terminum terrarum suarum inter Gisorcium et Triam etCurceles; cancellarius, praeter propriae familiae septingentos equites, alios mille ducentos stipendarios milites habebat, quatuor millia servientium, per unamquadragenam. (0123A) Et cuique militi quaque die, dabantur ad equos et armigeros procurandos tres solidi illius monetae; ipsique milites omnes ad mensamcancellarii erant. Ipsemet clericus cum esset, cum valente milite Francorum Engelramno de Tria, e regione subditis equo calcaribus veniente armato, lanceademissa et equo admisso congressus, ipsum equo deiecit, et dextrarium lucrifecit. Et in toto regis Anglorum exercitu semper primi erant milites cancellarii, sempermaiora audebant, semper praeclare faciebant, eo docente, ducente, eo hortante: canere eductui, canere receptui, in lituis suis ductilibus, quos in exercitu suoproprios, sed universo hinc inde exercitui habebat notissimos. (0123B) Unde ipse hostis etiam et expugnator regis Francorum, et terrae ipsius in igne et gladiodepopulator, in magnam pervenit gratiam ipsius regis Francorum et magnatum totius Galliae, suffragantibus ei meritis fidei praestantis et nobilitatis suaenotissimae: quam gratiam postmodum tempore opportuno sibi rex exhibuit. Virtus quippe et in hoste laudatur.

But later on with his lord the king of England in the war against the king of France, in the Marches, over the land of the common boundaries between the two kingdoms, between Gisors and Trie and Courcelles, the Chancellor was there with his men. The Chancellor, in addition to those of his household, the seven hundred knights of his own, had other forces, namely twelve hundred knights whom he had hired, and four thousand foot soldiers, for a full forty days. And to each knight, for each day, was given three silver coins [solidi] towards the horses they had to maintain and for their squires. And all the knights themselves were fed at the table of Chancellor.  And our very own cleric himself personally fought a valiant French knight from the region, Ingelram de Trie; spurring his horse on he charged at full gallop with his lance sloped. Throwing his opponent from his horse, the Chancellor won his destrier. Of the whole English army, the Chancellor's knights were always first, bolder and more outstanding in their achievements, responding to his instruction, leadership and exhortation. The sound of advance, and of recall, his war trumpets guided his warriors, sounds which across the army were recognised as being his very own, but were also universally recognised by both armies. Even though  he was the enemy of the king of France and had even laid waste to the lands themselves by fire and sword, his great grace came to be known by the king and magnates of all France, his excellent merit of faith, and renowned for his nobility, which at a later time the king had an opportunity to show him grace. His bravery was praised even by the enemy.


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