Let It End
April, 1292 Banks of the Garona
Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Leicester
Winter was over, spring was in the air, and the time to end the fighting with the French had come. They had made their plans, and set their traps, drawing on the experience of himself and the other commanders, as well as the knowledge of the Gascon barons. Edmund was convinced that this would be the battle that ended it. All the reports they were getting suggested that Philippe was desperate, that his lords had hunkered down over the winter, only because of the promise of the spoils of English land. That was something that Edmund would not allow. They had won victories since Marmande, and they would win the biggest one today. It might not be possible to bring the full force out, but Mortimer had led Philippe on a chase, and from what he had heard, it seemed the French King in his eagerness had fallen for the trap once more.
Now as he sat atop his horse, armoured down to his feet, waiting in a secluded part of the woods near the Garona, Edmund could feel his heart quicken its pace. They had archers, Welsh born and from the shires, near the southern bridge, preparing to release the moment Philippe appeared. Everything was going well, and yet, Edmund could not help but feel nervous. Everything was riding on this battle going well, on the archers getting their aim right and true. Philippe would not be leading the first charge, that honour would no doubt fall to someone else, but still, if they could break the front and take down the man’s banner they would have an advantage. Somewhere, in the distance, a horn sounds, and Edmund draws himself and his men to attention. The sound of hooves comes closer, ever closer, Mortimer’s banners came into sight, and as they did, Edmund hears the shout of De Bohun, a man who has little experience, but is a good archer. Edmund watches with baited breath as the archers knock their bows and then release a torrent of fire on the advancing Frenchmen.
Edmund cheers alongside his men as they see Frenchmen falling, their horses whinnying pettily as arrows pierce them and bring them down. The sky is painted red with arrow fire, more and more of the horses and their riders fall, foot soldiers fall as well, grunting and screaming for relief. As the archers top, Edmund takes his cue. Clearing his throat, he calls out. “Men of England, for the King we ride. Let us show these whoresons who is in charge.” His men roar and he leads the charge down, his lance held tightly in his hand. Through the slit of his helmet, he sees the foot soldiers of the French trying desperately to form up, but he knows they will not be able to do so before the crash happens. As it so happens, he is proven right, and the ground shakes beneath him as he and his men hit the foot soldiers. There are groans and screams of pain as lances pierce through skin and light armour. Soon enough, he throws his lance down and draws a hammer, swinging it with mad precision. He takes one man down, and sends another flying, his blood pumping heavily.
The foot of the French is breaking, they are turning and trying to flee, but the banks of the Garona prevent them getting very far. Not for the first time, Edmund finds himself marvelling at his luck, that Philippe would so willingly come toward the Garona is something he just can’t comprehend. He had thought the French King was smart, not a fool, evidently, there was something he had miscalculated. His own foot is pressing in hard, their shields and their weapons wreaking havoc amongst the confused and fearful French foot. He can hear the bark of commands of the French captains, desperately trying to get some order in, no doubt waiting for reinforcements to come. A horn sound somewhere, and he knows that that harkens in the new French arrivals. De Vere should be preparing for that, but just in case he barks out a command. “Send for the left.” The order is passed down, and soon enough more hooves sound and battle commences once more.
The chaos is all engulfing, but Edmund keeps his hammer held high, his head raised high also, to ensure for smooth breathing. His armour is covered in blood, some of it is his, most of it is the blood of slain French foes. He feels tired, but he keeps going, his hammer guiding him through the carnage and the chaos. Onwards, always moving onwards, they cannot stop, not now, not for anything, they move forward, and more men are crushed underneath the sheer press of bodies. The banks of the Garona run red with blood, a cold mottled red, that they cannot think to begin comprehending. Onward they move, his hammer the guiding beacon. Through it all they move, bodies falling at the touch of hammer and steel. His arms ache, his body is bleeding, sweat is coming down from all corners and limiting his vision, but still he goes on. He cannot stop now, not until they have won.
Suddenly the banners of the French King come into sight, and he knows what needs to be done. “Men of the right, to me!” he cries. “To me!” and soon enough he begins riding hard, riding for all that he is worth towards the French King and ending this. His hammer deals death blows to those Frenchmen foolish enough to try and cross his path. It seems that De Vere has had the same idea for the man and his battle are moving quickly toward the French King as well. Edmund knows it is petty, but a small part of him wants De Vere to fail, so that he might take the credit for capturing the rogue that is the French King. His hammer is slick with blood, but onward he goes, it is hard to keep a firm grip on the thing, but he manages, somehow he manages, and soon enough there is the prize. The French King is surrounded with little to no support forthcoming, and Edmund breathes a sigh of relief when he sees the man throw down his sword, albeit begrudgingly and call out. “I surrender.” He does so in French and in barely passable English, and as he does so, the men with Edmund cheer.
May, 1292, Bordeaux
King Philippe IV Capet
It was humiliating, if he thought about it for too long. The thought that he had been forced to surrender, that his months of planning had ended in one battle. It was humiliating and denigrating, and he had no one to blame but himself. Philippe, had always prided himself on being calm and patient, able to out think anyone else in the room, and yet in his desire to show his lords that he could do as King David of Scotland had done, he had led them into a trap and lost. How he had failed to see what would happen in the Garona was beyond him. He had thought he had learned the lessons from Libourne and from before, but it seemed he had not. And so here he was, sat in comfortable rooms in a castle at the heart of English power in Gascony, without even a thought of escape. There was no point, he knew he had been humiliated enough, the English knew it as well, every day he was kept here was proof enough of that. The days rolled on, but he grew more and more frustrated with himself, there were lessons to learn from this, but right now, all he could do, was wonder how David of Scotland had done it. How had he beaten the English at their own game?
The sound of the door opening took him from his thoughts. He expected a servant to come in and give him food, but instead, he found himself looking at a relatively tall man, with the colours of England on his tunic, his hair was blond and his eyes were a blueish green. Philippe looked at Edmund, Earl of Leicester and he found himself wondering what was to come to pass. He stared at the man and then asks. “Have you come to pass a sentence on me Monsieur?”
He is surprised when Leicester laughs. “Oh, not a sentence Your Highness. I have come to tell you that the terms for your release have been agreed, they only require your agreement.”
Philippe looks at the man surprised, he had not thought Joan would agree to such terms, or rather he had thought it would take much longer to get some form of agreement. No doubt this will be something else his lords will seek to wrangle from him. “And what might those terms be?” he asks.
Leicester smiles, his voice containing a hint of mocking when he says. “In return for your release, you will pay the sum of one thousand, three hundred marks to the Crown of England, furthermore you will also agree to recognise King Edward as the rightful and only Duke of Gascony, and that he will hold that title independent of any allegiance to the throne of France.” Leicester pauses and takes a breath, and Philippe can feel anger growing inside of him, Leicester continues. “Furthermore, you will also agree to a betrothal between King Edward, and your daughter Princess Margaret.”
Philippe looks at the man before him, trying to push down the anger that is growing inside of him, he knows he has been led into a trap, just as he was at the Battle of Garona. This time it seems as if there is little to no chance for a retreat, and that thought is one that angers him all the more. The humiliation just seems to keep growing. His brother Charles had lost them this when he died, but God knows, he lost it when he refused to listen to reason. Sighing he asks. “What if I refuse to consent?”
Leicester snorts, as if knowing that he will not, that he cannot refuse. “Then you will remain a prisoner here until a time comes when you agree.” The man pauses as if considering something and then says. “The terms are good, there has been much wrangling, I would accept these terms if I were you, Your Highness.”
Philippe considers this, he thinks over everything that has been said, Leicester has not made any of the threats he knows his brother would have made. No threat of raiding into France proper, no threats of anything, just plain and simple truth, he is starting to think that perhaps Leicester is the true threat, that his brother was just the man who everyone looked at. He takes a deep breath, and keeps thinking, something about this does not seem right, but then, nothing about this seems right. If there were any sense in the world, he would not have lost, and instead it would be him dictating the terms. But that is not how this ended, and so, he grits his teeth and says. “Very well, I will sign.”
He sees Leicester smile and feels anger grow within him once more. “Very good Sire.” The man pulls out a piece of parchment and hands it to Philippe. “Now if you just want to have a quick read through of this, then you can know for sure.”
Philippe reads the terms and sees that everything is in order, however, before taking the quill from the desk he looks at Leicester and asks. “How will you know that I won’t renege on the payment?”
“Oh, your wife already sent someone with the money.” Leicester says casually, and Philippe feels his anger swell.
“Then why add in the demand?” he asks.
“Because she sent partial amounts. You will send the full amount Sire.” Edmund replies calmly.
Philippe grits his teeth and nods. Then he presses his quill down onto the parchment and adds his signature to the document, before taking his seal from Edmund of Leicester and affixing it to the document, making his humiliation official. He hands the document to Leicester who smiles at him and says. “Thank you Sire, I knew you would see sense. You are free to leave now.”
Philippe merely grunts and watches Edmund of Leicester leave, as he does so, Philippe swears he will have his revenge, even if it kills him.