By what occasion the warre did first breake foorth betweene the two armies.
DUring the parlies afore mentioned, there * was as it were a truc• betweene both armies, which caused that there was no∣thing enterprized at Paris or Orleance: But when the Prince of Conde and his associats did well per•eiue that wordes were to weake to remedy the present al∣terations, hee determined to adde effects, and so immediately after the resolution vpon the offer made vnto the Queene, hee called aside •eauen or eight of his cheefest captaines, and consulted vpon the most conue∣nient meanes to buckle with the enemy, for the truc• was ended the daie before) who all were of opinion that they must be preuen∣ted by diligence, considering that they had two aduauntages: the one that the Duke of Guise, the Constable, and the Marshall of S. Andrewes were then absent, and so none but the king of Nauarre with the armie: the other, that the companies of men of armes were lodged scattering from the maine battaile: That if they shoulde march forward by daie, theyr light horse or forragers might giue them warning, and therefore it were best to vse greate diligence in the night, and so come vppon them in the dawning: for thus might they vndoubtedlie be surprised: likewise that because they had not ordinarily vsed any camizadoes, they might nowe the more easilie put this in execution, while the enimy least doubled anie such thing. As for the waie, it was most easie, as being al plaine fields between them.
Page 363 About one houre after the campe departed, and came betimes to Fe•te, where the Generalles opened their intents to the Cap∣taines, willing them to cause their souldiours to put on shirtes, and resolue them to beare themselues manfully in this so valyaunt an enterprise. By eight of clocke at night the troops were in the field, who after publike praier (as was then vsed among the Protestants) began to march with such a courage, as I may in truth affirme, that in souldiours I neuer see greater. Before the departure did a gen∣tleman commit a most villanous act, in forcing of a maiden, whose calling together, with the shortnesse of the time were causes that it could not be punished. This did many take to be a bad signe in this enterprise. Presuming to finde the enemies in their lodginges, the order to fight was this.
First the Lord Admirall marched formost with eight hundred speares, to ouerthrowe whatsoeuer horsemen hee shoulde finde in armes: then followed 1200. harquebuts in foure troopes, with charge to assayle the watch of the enimies footmen, and thence to enter theyr quarters. Next marched eight hundred harquebuts, sup∣ported with two great battayles of pikes, to seaze vppon their artil∣lerie: after all came the Prince of Condee with one thousand horse in foure squadrons, and the rest of the harque buzerie: Now are we to vnderstand that considering at what time they set forward, they should by all reason haue reached to the enimies lodging by three of the clocke in the morning: for the waie lay ouer a playne field, nei∣ther was there any straight passage, but that the footemen might march a whole league in an houre and a halfe: but when they had gone two leagues, the guides perceiued that they went wrong, and thinking to recouer their waie, they strayed farther out, remayning as men amazed, and not knowing where they were, to the no small discontent of the Captaines. To be briefe, hauing thus trauayled vntill one houre after daie, they found themselues a long league of from the enimies lodgings, whose scoutes descried the head of the Princes armie, and so returning with al speed gaue a great alarum. Heerevpon tooke they counsayle what was best to bee done: but in the meane time they hearde the Canon discharged in the enemies campe, for a warning to call in their horsemen, which brake theyr deuise for passing any farther, as well for that they we•e descried, as also that they had yet a great waie to goe, albeit if they had bene within halfe a league, they were resolued to haue gone forward and fought. Thus was this enterprise which in ontward appearaunce Page 360 seemed verie certaine was vtterlie broken of.
I haue asked the opinion of sundrie good Captaines then pre∣sent in the aduersaries campe, what successe might haue followed if * the Protestants had come in time, who all affirme that they woulde haue fought, albeit they were preuented by their separation from their most affectionate Captaines, and the greatest parte of theyr horsemen. The Lorde Marshall of Anuille, a watchfull and verie skilfull Captaine, was with his light horse lodged at the head of the Catholikes armie, wo tolde mee that hee waked and was in armes almost all the night, neuerthelesse if our whole power had come in time, theyr armie had beene in daunger, which is not in deede to bée doubted: for albeit the hazardes of warre bee vncertaine, yet the aduauntage of a surprise, doth import apparaunt losse to those that suffer themselues to bee so farre ouertaken. All the faulte was layde vppon the guides, who to cleere themselues said that the Lord of Andelots putting the footemen in araie at the departure from the lodgings made their march the flower: but I thinke this excuse more subtil than true, considering there was neither bush nor hedge to stoppe them. In deede if the Countrie had beene straighter, it might haue had some likelihood. Both armies, albeit somewhat a∣sunder stoode in araie vntill two of the clocke afternoone. Af∣terwarde the Prince of Condie went to lodge at Lorges, a small league of: and the King of Nauarre with all speede certe∣fied the Lorde of Guize and the Constable, who laie at Chasteau∣dun of all that happened, who immediatlie came to him. Then fea∣ring to be assayled by night, because the Princes armie was strong in footmen, and their owne lodgings verie vnfit for horsemen, they made at the head of theyr battayle grounde vppon the comming in, fiue or sixe great heapes of fagots with strawe inough vnder them, to kindle if they were assaulted, to the ende by the light thereof to discharge three or foure vollees of artillerie, which woulde haue greatly annoied the assaylauntes: There are that disdayne such inuentions, albeit they may sometime be to good purpose. In the morning they fell agayne into araie, but see not one another, ney∣ther did anie but the light horsemen skirmishe. The Captaines of both sides perceiuing that it was harde to surprize one another, also that theyr lodgings were verie discommodious, and moued by a certayne kinde of necessitie to get some townes which might stande them in greate steade to continue the warre, as Bloyse and Boisgencie, did in the morning sende awaie their carriage and ar∣tillerie, Page 361 and in the afternoone followed, parting after this sort with∣out bactaile or losse. *
Heere will I declare an accident which happened two houres after this separation, which if it had fallen out when they were to∣gether, the Prince of Condie had beene in daunger to haue beene ouerthrowen. It was this: There fell such a horrible raine and tempest, continuing almost an houre, that I am assured that of his foure thousand harque buziers, ten coulde not haue discharged: be∣sides that, most of them sought to the couert, which was such an oc∣casion of victorie to the Catholiks, as well in that they were strong in horse, as also for that the winde and raine so beate in their ene∣mies faces, that euen the fiercest had inough to doe to withstande the rage of the weather. This is the truth of all occurrences a∣mong the Protestants in this expedition: but the particularities of the King of Nauarres armie are they that were present, and so may haue knowen them, to describe.