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Late Medieval Monarchies - Documents

Document # 25

Jean Froissart, Chronicles.


THE Englishmen, who were in three battles lying on the ground to rest them, as soon as they saw the Frenchmen approach, they rose upon their feet fair and easily without any haste and arranged their battles. The first, which was the prince's battle, the archers there stood in manner of a herse and the men of arms in the bottom of the battle. The earl of Northampton and the earl of Arundel with the second battle were on a wing in good order, ready to comfort the prince's battle, if need were.

The lords and knights of France came not to the assembly together in good order, for some came before and some came after in such haste and evil order, that one of them did trouble another. When the French king saw the Englishmen, his blood changed, and said to his marshals: 'Make the Genoways go on before and begin the battle in the name of God and Saint Denis.' There were of the Genoways cross-bows about a fifteen thousand, [Note: Villani, a very good authority on the subject, says 6000, brought from the ships at Harfleur] but they were so weary of going afoot that day a six leagues armed with their cross-bows, that they said to their constables: 'We be not well ordered to fight this day, for we be not in the case to do any great deed of arms: we have more need of rest.' These words came to the earl of Alencon, who said: 'A man is well at ease to be charged with such a sort of rascals, to be faint and fail now at most need.' Also the same season there fell a great rain and a clipse [Note: A mistranslation of 'une esclistre', 'a flash of lightning.'] with a terrible thunder, and before the rain there came flying over both battles a great number of crows for fear of the tempest coming. Then anon the air began to wax clear, and the sun to shine fair and bright, the which was right in the Frenchmen's eyen and on the Englishmen's backs. When the Genoways were assembled together and began to approach, they made a great leap and cry to abash the Englishmen, but they stood still and stirred not for all that: then the Genoways again the second time made another leap and a fell cry, and stept forward a little, and the Englishmen removed not one foot: thirdly, again they leapt and cried, and went forth till they came within shot; then they shot fiercely with their cross-bows. Then the English archers stept forth one pace and let fly their arrows so wholly [together] and so thick, that it seemed snow. When the Genoways felt the arrows piercing through heads, arms and breasts, many of them cast down their cross-bows and did cut their strings and returned discomfited. When the French king saw them fly away, he said: 'Slay these rascals, for they shall let and trouble us without reason.' Then ye should have seen the men of arms dash in among them and killed a great number of them: and ever still the Englishmen shot whereas they saw thickest press; the sharp arrows ran into the men of arms and into their horses, and many fell, horse and men, among the Genoways, and when they were down, they could not relieve again, the press was so thick that one overthrew another. And also among the Englishmen there were certain rascals that went afoot with great knives, and they went in among the men of arms, and slew and murdered many as they lay on the ground, both earls, barons, knights and squires, whereof the king of England was after displeased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners.

The valiant king of Bohemia called Charles of Luxembourg, son to the noble emperor Henry of Luxembourg, for all that he was nigh blind, when he understood the order of the battle, he said to them about him: 'Where is the lord Charles my son?' His men said: 'Sir, we cannot tell; we think he be fighting.' Then he said: 'Sirs, ye are my men, my companions and friends in this journey: I require you bring me so far forward, that I may strike one stroke with my sword.' They said they would do his commandment, and to the intent that they should not lose him in the press, they tied all their reins of their bridles each to other and set the king before to accomplish his desire, and so they went on their enemies. The lord Charles of Bohemia his son, who wrote himself king of Almaine and bare the arms, he came in good order to the battle; but when he saw that the matter went awry on their party, he departed, I cannot tell you which way. The king his father was so far forward that he strake a stroke with his sword, yea and more than four, and fought valiantly and so did his company; and they adventured themselves so forward, that they were there all slain, and the next day they were found in the place about the king, and all their horses tied each to other.

The earl of Alencon came to the battle right ordinately and fought with the Englishmen, and the earl of Flanders also on his part. These two lords with their companies coasted the English archers and came to the prince's battle, and there fought valiantly long. The French king would fain have come thither, when he saw their banners, but there was a great hedge of archers before him. The same day the French king had given a great black courser to sir John of Hainault, and he made the lord Tierry of Senzeille to ride on him and to bear his banner. The same horse took the bridle in the teeth and brought him through all the currours of the Englishmen, and as he would have returned again, he fell in a great dike and was sore hurt, and had been there dead, an his page had not been, who followed him through all the battles and saw where his master lay in the dike, and had none other let but for his horse, for the Englishmen would not issue out of their battle for taking of any prisoner. Then the page alighted and relieved his master: then he went not back again the same way that they came, there was too many in his way.

This battle between Broye and Cressy this Saturday was right cruel and fell, and many a feat of arms done that came not to my knowledge. In the night divers knights and squires lost their masters, and sometime came on the Englishmen, who received them in such wise that they were ever nigh slain; for there was none taken to mercy nor to ransom, for so the Englishmen were determined.

Source: Taken from Jean Froissart, Chronicles, trans. John Bourchier, Lord Berners, ed. G.C. Macaulay (New York, 1910).

Document # 26


(The Electors). Archbishops: Mayence 50 with swords, Cologne 40 with swords. Treves 40 with swords. The count Palatine 50 with swords. Saxony 20 mounted man-at-arms. Branderburg 50 with swords.

The Bishops: The archbishop of Magdeburg 30 swordsmen, 10 archers. Bishop of Hildesheim 5 swordsmen, 5 archers. That of Wurzburg 20 swordsmen. That of Bamberg 20 swordsmen. That of Eichstatt 10 swordsmen. That of Strassburg 10 swordsmen. That of Constanz 8 swordsmen. That of Basle 2 swordsmen. That of Coire 2 swordsmen. That of Besan,con 6 swordsmen- That of Augsburg 2 swordsmen. That of Metz 6 swordsmen. That of Toul 3 swordsmen. That of Verdun 6 swordsmen. …

Dukes and lay princes. Duke of Lorraine 20 swordsmen. Duke of Bar 20 swordsmen. Duke of Savoy 50 swordsmen. Margrave of Baden 10 swordsmen. Landgrave of Hesse 20 swordsmen, 10 Dentate arms. Duke Otto of the Leina 10 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms. Erich of Brunswick 5 swordsmen, 5 men-at-arms. Duke Otto of Hirschberg 5 swordsmen, 5 men-at-arms. Bernhard and William of Brunswick with their cities namely, Brunswick and Luneburg, 10 swordsmen 10 men-at-arms. John of Mecklenburg 10 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms Albrecht of Mecklenburg 10 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms. Children of Duke Ulrich with the country of Stargardt 10 swordsmen, 10 men-atarms. …

Counts and lords. Gerhard, count of Mark 3 swordsmen. William count of Ravensburg 2 swordsmen. Count of Teckelnburg 2 swordsmen. Count of Riedenburg 1 swordsman. Lord of Lippe 2 swordsmen. Lord of Dippoldswald 1 swordsman. Count of Bentheim 1 swordsman. Count of Schaumburg 1 swordsman. Count of Oldenburg 1 swordsman. Frederick and William of Henneberg 4 swordsmen. Count of Rheineck 2 swordsmen. Count of Kastel 2 swordsmen. Count of Hohenlohe 2 swordsmen. Count of Weinsberg 2 swordsmen. Count of Heideck 1 swordsman. Otto Erich of the Heust 6 swordsmen. Count of Würtemberg 20 swordsmen. Count of Schauen 15 swordsmen. Margrave of Rotelen 3 swordsmen. Margrave of Toggenburg5 swordsmen. Conrad of Freiburg 5 swordsmen. …

The Abbots. The abbot of Fulda 6 swordsmen. The abbot of Weissenburg 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Zelle 1 swordsman. The abhot of Murbach 3 swordsmen. The abbot of Maulbronn 5 swordsmen. The abbot of Einsiedeln 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Biebenhausen 3 swordsmen. Tbe abbot of Salem 5 swordsmen. The abbot Alb 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Kemptem 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Schaffhausen 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Petershausen 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Kinzing 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Weingarten 4 swordsmen. The abbot of Elchingen 2 swordsmen. The abbot of St. Blasien 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Balbeuren 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Zwiefalten 2 swordsmen. The abbot of Isni 1 swordsman. The abbot of Saint George 1 swordsman. The abbot of Saint John 1 swordsman. The abbot of Pfaeffers 1 swordsman. The abbot of Konigsbrünn 1 swordsman. Prior to Schussenried 2 swordsmen.

The cities. The confederates of Berne, Lucerne, Zurich, Freiburg in Vaud 250 horse. Constance, Lindau, Buchhorn, Ravensburg, Ueberlingen, Zelle am Unter See, Diessenhofen, 50 swordsmen and 200 mounted men. SchaShausen, Waldshut, Lauffenberg, Sackingen, Sheinfelden, Winterthur, Rapperswil, Frauenfeld 26 men-at-arms. Kempten, Isny, Wangen, Leutkirch, Memmingen, Augsburg, Biberach, pfullendorf, Kaufbeuren, Ulm, Giengen, Nordlingen, Bopfingenj AaJen, Gmund, Dunkelsbuhl, Esslingen, Reutlingen Rottweil, Weil, Buchau, 100 swordsmen and 100 men-at-arms. Halle 12 swordsmen and 12 men-at-arms. Heilbronn, Wimpfen Weinsberg 24 mounted men armed. Basle 16 swordsmen. Strassburg Muhlhausen, Colmar, Munster in St. Gregorienthal, Kaiserberg, Durkheim, Schlettstadt, Oberehnheim, Roshein, Hagenau, Weissenburg, 30 swordsmen. … Weissenburg in Franconia 5 swordsmen, 5 men-at-arms. Schweinfurt 5 swordsmen, 5 men-at-arms. Regensburg 15 swordsmen, 15 men-at-arms. Lubeck 30 swordsmen, 30 men-at-arms. Hamburg 15 swordsmen, 15 men-at-arms. Muhlhausen [Saxony] 3 swordsmen, 6 men-at-arms. Nordhausen 15 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms. Aschesleben 10 swordsmen, 6 men-at-arms. Halberstadt 10 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms. Quedlinburg 10 swordsmen, 10 men-at-arms. Sum total, 754 swordsmen and 777 mounted horse from the cities.

Source: Deutsche Reichstagsakten Bd, VIII (1883) pp. x57-X65. Reprinted in Altmann und Bernheim: Ausgewlhlte Urkunden, Second Ed., pp. 174-177. German. From University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]), Vol III:2, pp.8-11

Document # 27

The Law Licet Juris of The Frankfort Diet of 1338 A.D.

Although the proofs of both 'kinds of law (civil and canon) manifestly declare that the imperial dignity and power proceeded from of old directly through the Son of God, and that God openly gave laws to the human race through the emperor and the kings of the world; and since the emperor is made true emperor by the election alone of those to whom it pertains, and needs not the confirmation or approbation of any one else, since on earth he has no superior as to temporal things, but to him peoples and nations are subject, and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself ordered to be rendered unto God the things that are God's, and unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; because, nevertheless, some, led by the blindness of avarice and ambition, and having no understanding of Scripture, but turning away from the path of right feeling into certain iniquitous and wicked deceptions, and, breaking forth into detestable assertions, do wage war against the imperial power and authority and against the prerogatives of the emperors, electors, and other princes, and of the faithful subjects of the empire, falsely asserting that the imperial dignity and power come from the pope and that he who is elected emperor is not true emperor or king unless he be first confirmed and crowned through the pope or the apostolic see; and since, through such wicked assertions and pestiferous dogmas the ancient enemy moves discord, excites quarrels, prepares dissensions and brings about seditions:-therefore, for the purpose of averting such evil, by, the counsel and consent of the electors and of the other princes of the empire we declare that the imperial dignity and power comes directly from God alone ; and that, by the old and approved right and custom of the empire, after any one is chosen as emperor or king by the electors of the empire concordantly, or by the greater part of them, he is, in consequence of the election alone, to be considered and called true king and emperor of the Romans, and he ought to be obeyed by all the subjects of the empire. And he shall have full power of administering the laws of the empire and of doing the other things that pertain to a true emperor; nor does he need the approbation, confirmation, authority or consent of the apostolic see or of any one else.

And therefore we decree by this law, to be forever valid, that he who is elected emperor concordantly or by the majority of the electors, shall, in consequence of the election alone, be considered and regarded by all as the true and lawful emperor; and that he ought to be obeyed by all the subjects of the empire, and that he shall have, and shall be considered and firmly asserted by all to have and to hold, the imperial administration and jurisdiction and the plenitude of the imperial power.

Moreover, whatever persons shall presume to assert or say any thing contrary to these declarations, decrees or definitions, or any one of them or to countenance those who assert or say anything; or to obey their mandates or letters or precepts: we deprive them from now on, and decree them to be deprived by the law and by the act and itself, of all the fiefs which they hold from the empire, of all the favours, jurisdictions, privileges and immunities granted to them by us or our predecessors. Moreover, we decree that they have committed the crime of high treason and are subject to all the penalties inflicted on those committing the crime of high treason. Given in our town of Frankfort on the 8th day of the mouth of August A.D. 1338.

Source: from Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), 437-439