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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/425

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John
John
419

Here the French army, under the Duke of Burgundy, confronted them, taking up position at Tournehem, 23 Aug. 1369; but the English were so strongly entrenched that Burgundy avoided a battle, and after a few days withdrew, 2 Sept., leaving Lancaster free to return to Calais to rest his men and then start on a new expedition designed for the capture of Harfleur. Passing the Somme, Lancaster advanced by way of Dieppe to invest the place, before which he arrived about 20 Oct.; but, finding it too strongly garrisoned, he abandoned the attempt, and, after raiding the district of Estouteville, withdrew again to Calais, and embarked for England, 19 Nov. During his absence his wife, Blanche of Lancaster, died of the plague and was buried on the north side of the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Lancaster was not again employed on active service for some months. The French king had been maturing his plans for a complete conquest of Aquitaine, and two armies were assembled, under the Dukes of Anjou and Berry, to carry on operations independently against the English. Anjou overran Agenois; and Berry, entering Limousin, marched on Limoges, which was surrendered to him through the treachery of the bishop, 22 Aug. 1370. Meanwhile the Black Prince, whose health was now rapidly failing, having set out to oppose Anjou, had taken up his quarters, in company with his brother, the Earl of Cambridge, at Cognac. Here he was joined by Lancaster, who had been despatched early in July from England with a force of four hundred men-at-arms and four thousand archers. The duke brought with him a commission to receive again into favour all such places in Aquitaine as should return to their allegiance to the king of England, acting with the assent of the prince, if present, and, in his absence, independently as the king's lieutenant. The concession appears to have been politic at the moment. but has been' instanced as the indication of an ambitious design on the part of Lancaster to supersede his brother.

The news of the surrender of Limoges roused the Black Prince to fury. The city was immediately invested; the walls were undermined, a breach was effected, and after a siege of only six days, 14-19 Sept. 1370, the English entered the place. Three thousand of the inhabitants were, according to Froissart, put to the sword. The men-at-arms of the garrison still resisted, and their three leaders were severally engaged in single combat by Lancaster, Cambridge, and the Earl of Pembroke, to whom they finally surrendered. Lancaster's opponent was Jehan de Villemar. And this was not the only episode of the day in which the duke played a prominent part. The treacherous bishop, Jehan de Cros, was made prisoner. Lancaster is said to have begged his life of the prince, and afterwards, at Pope Urban V's request, to have dismissed him in safety to Avignon. Limoges was sacked and burnt, and the army retired into winter quarters, Lancaster accompanying his brother to Cognac and thence to Bordeaux.

The Black Prince's health had by this time so entirely given way that his physicians ordered his immediate return to England. To add to his troubles, his eldest son, Edward, died at the beginning of 1371, in his seventh year, while preparations were being made for the embarkation. The loyal barons of Aquitaine were summoned to receive the final instructions of the prince, who presented to them his brother Lancaster as his lieutenant, and was then carried on board his ship, leaving his son's funeral to the care of the duke. Lancaster began his lieutenancy with a single act of vigour. On the news of the surrender to the French of Montpont in PĂ©rigord, he advanced at once against the place and laid close siege to it, but did not succeed in reducing it until nearly the end of February. After this he dismissed his troops and remained inactive at Bordeaux, although partisan warfare was carried on, principally in Poitou. Soon after he resigned his command, 21 July 1371, but did not leave France; and while still at Bordeaux he entered into a second marriage, which again brought him into connection with Spain. After the death of their father and the recovery by Henry of Trastamare of the throne of Castile, Pedro the Cruel's two daughters had taken refuge at Bayonne, and were residing there at this time. By the advice, it is said, of the Gascon barons, Lancaster married the elder, Constance, while his brother, the Earl of Cambridge, at the same time married the younger, Isabella, both ceremonies taking place at Roquefort, near Bordeaux. The two brothers, with their wives, appear to have returned to England in the spring of 1372, apparently about May. The form of marriage was probably gone through a second time in this country, for on 25 June Lancaster appears to have first styled himself, in right of his wife, king of Castile. The immediate political result of this step was to throw Henry of Trastamare into a closer alliance with the French.

The year 1372 was full of disaster for the English power in Aquitaine. A fleet which was despatched in June, under the Earl of Pembroke, to Rochelle was intercepted by