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Burgh
Burgh
316

Bretons heard this, they grew fiercer than before, and Hubert was soon forced to declare the truth. John was glad when he heard it, for some of his knights told him that had it been otherwise no man would have dared to hold a castle for him against the king of France for fear of reprisals. Arthur was shortly afterwards taken from Hubert's care, and sent to Rouen (Ralph Coggesh, 139–143). Considerable doubt has been thrown upon this story [see Arthur of Brittany]. Ralph of Coggeshall is no bad authority, as he was generally careful to get his information frcm the best sources; but the whole transactions connected with Arthur's fate are full of uncertainty. When Philip of France had pronounced the second sentence of forfeiture against John, Hubert was sent to declare the king's readiness to answer all charges in his lord's court, and to demand a safe-conduct for him. In 1204, when almost the whole of the rest of Poitou had fallen into the hands of the French, Hubert gallantly held the castle of Chinon against them. After a siege lasting for a whole year, the castle, which men had always deemed too strong to be taken, was so shattered that Hubert was forced to leave it. He then met the enemy in the open field, and after a stout fight was badly wounded and taken prisoner. In 1214 he appears as seneschal of Niort (Close Rolls) and of Poitou, and as a party to the truces made in that year with the court of La Marclie and the king of France (Rymer, Fœdera, i. 03, 64, 2nd edit.; Gul. Armoric, Recueil des Hist. xvii. 91, 104). He received various grants from John, and at different periods of the reign was sheriff of seven counties. He was on the king's side at Runnymede, and his name is mentioned in the first clause of the great charter as one of those by whose advice it was granted, and in the list given by Matthew Paris of the lords who upheld the twenty-five conservators of the charter. He first appears as justiciar in June 1215, the month in which the charter was signed by the king. On the landing of Louis in 1216, John committed Dover Castle to his keeping. He vigorously defended it against the assault of the French, and slew so many of the enemy that Louis determined to reduce it by blockade. Hubert is said to have roughly repulsed the messengers of Louis, who offered him Norfolk and Suffolk to hold in fee if he would join his party. The siege began 22 July, and by 14 Oct. the castle had suffered so severely that Hubert made a truce with Louis as far as the siege was concerned, in order that he might see whether the king would send him help. Louis seems now to have broken up the blockade (Ralph Coggesh. 182; Will. Cov. 232; Wendover, iv. 4).

Although the Earl of Pembroke was made regent on the accession on of Henry III, Hubert continued to hold the office of justicar. In the summer of 1217 any chance of success which Louis still had depended on the arrival of the reinforcements sent by his wife and despatched in a fleet commanded by Eustace the Monk. Hubert, believing that if these troops effected a landing the kingdom would be undone, urged William Marshall and the bishop of Wincheater to join him in attacking the fleet. They refused on the grounds of their ignorance of nautical matters. He then gathered the ships of the Cinque Ports and picked out the stoutest men of his garrison at Dover. After receiving the sacrament from hie chaplain Luke, he charged the men he left in Dover Castle, adjuring them by Christ's blood that if he should be taken they should rather let him be hanged rather than give up the castle: 'for,' said he, 'it is the key of England.' The fleet was blessed by the bishop of Salisbury, and set sail 24 Aug; The number of Hubert's ships is somewhat differently stated; at the highest computation he had no more than sixteen large and twenty small vessels, while the French fleet consisted of eighty large and many smaller ships. While the French running before a fresh breeze made straight for the North Foreland, the English steered a slanting course, holding their luff, as though making for Calais ('obliquando tamen dracenam, id est loof'). Eustace therefore kept a straight course, not thinking that he should be attacked by so small a force. As soon, however, as the English ships had got well to windward, the French running to leeward all the time, they bore down on the enemy, and so came into collision with their rear. The rest of the French fleet being dead to leeward was unable to come to the help of the ships attacked, and was overpowered in separate detachments. Only fifteen or seventeen ships escaped, fifty-five were taken, and the rest were sunk. Eustace the Monk was beheaded, and no quarter was given save to nobles and knights who were spared for the sake of ransom. The fight lasted a whole day. As the commander of our fleet in this, the first of our great naval victories, Hubert de Burgh is entitled to the credit of the masterly movement which enabled our few ships to overpower the vastly superior force of the enemy (Matt. Paris, iii. 29; Ann. de Waverleia, Ann. de Wigornia, Ann. Monast. ii. 288, iv. 408; explanation supplied by Prof. J. K. Laughton). Hubert on his landing was met by a triumphal procession of ministers of states