867.—The Siege of Calaisdetails

[Picture: 867.—The Siege of Calais]
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867.—The Siege of Calais

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They sent to Edward; who, however, would listen to no terms but unconditional submission. The noble Sir Walter Manny, however, spoke for them; and, at last, mercy was promised to all but six of the chief burgesses, who were to come to him bareheaded, barefooted, with ropes about their necks, and the keys of the town and castle in their hands.” (p. 243)

The book qutes the historian Jean Froissart:

“Then the king [...] said, ‘They of Calais had caused many of my men to be sain, wherefore these shall die in like wise.’ Then the queen, being great with child, kneeled down (see Fig. 867), and sore weeping said, ‘Ah, gentle Sir, sith [sic I passed the sea in great peril, I have desired nothing of you; therefore, I now humbly require you, in the honour of the Son of the Virgin mary, and for the love of me, that ye will take mercy of these six burgesses.’ [...] Then the queen caused them to be brought into her chamber, and made the halters to be taken from their necks, and caused them to be new clothed, and gave them their dinner at their leisure, and then she gave each of them six nobles, and made them to be brought out of the host in safeguard, and set at their liberty.” (p. 246)

Charles Knight (editor of this Old England book) continues:

“Froissrt, unhappily, was deceived as to their being freed. Edward, if he could not make up his mind altogether to resist the entreaties of his friends not to do a deed which would have made him infamous for ever, was at the last ungracious enough to keep them prisoners: in the records of the Tower of London we read of the entrance of John de vienne and the six burgesses.” (p. 246)

This woodcut illustrates the end of the siege of Calais by King Edward III in 1346. A group of people in the foreground stand barefoot and bare-legged with their hands bound behind their backs and with ropes around their necks. They look on as the keys to the city are offered by a kneeling kinght.

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