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    Chapter 37

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    Chapter 37
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    It fell about a Lamass-tide,
    When husbands wynn their hay,
    The doughty Douglas bound him to ride
    In England to take a pray.

    ANOTHER famous battle in the border-warfare between England and
    Scotland was fought at Otterbourne. This is a town in
    Northumberland, and here, as in Chevy Chase, the Douglas and the Percy
    matched their strength. Earl Douglas was killed in the fight, and
    Sir Henry Percy, called Hotspur, was taken prisoner. The story as it
    is told here is from the works of that most entertaining and
    long-winded historian of chivalry, Sir John Froissart.
    We begin in medias res with a Scotch foray, in which the Douglas,
    with the earl of March and Dunbar and the earl of Moray, has
    penetrated as far into England as the city of Durham and is now
    returning to Scotland.
    The three Scots lords, having completed the object of their
    expedition into Durham, lay before Newcastle three days, where there
    was an almost continual skirmish. The sons of the earl of
    Northumberland, from their great courage, were always the first at the
    barriers, where many valiant deeds were done with lances hand to hand.
    The earl of Douglas had a long conflict with Sir Henry Percy, and in
    it, by gallantry of arms, won his pennon, to the great vexation of Sir
    Henry and the other English. The earl of Douglas said, "I will carry
    this token of your prowess with me to Scotland, and place it on the
    tower of my castle at Dalkeith, that it may be seen from afar." "By
    Heaven, Earl of Douglas," replied Sir Henry, "you shall not even
    bear it out of Northumberland: be assured you shall never have this
    pennon to brag of." "You must come then," answered Earl Douglas, "this
    night and seek for it. I will fix your pennon before my tent, and
    shall see if you will venture to take it away."
    As it was now late the skirmish ended, and each party retired to
    their quarters to disarm and comfort themselves. They had plenty of
    everything, particularly flesh meat. The Scots kept up a very strict
    watch, concluding from the words of Sir Henry Percy they should have
    their quarters beaten up this night; they were disappointed, for Sir
    Henry Percy was advised to defer it.
    On the morrow the Scots dislodged from before Newcastle; and, taking
    the road to their own country, they came to a town and castle called
    Ponclau, of which Sir Raymond de Laval, a very valiant knight of
    Northumberland, was the lord. They halted there about four o'clock
    in the morning, as they learned the knight to be within it, and made
    preparations for the assault. This was done with such courage that the
    place was won, and the knight made prisoner. After they had burnt
    the town and castle, they marched away for Otterbourne, which was
    eight English leagues from Newcastle, and there encamped themselves,
    This day they made no attack; but very early on the morrow their
    trumpets sounded, and they made ready for the assault, advancing
    towards the castle, which was tolerably strong, and situated among the
    marshes. They attacked it so long and so unsuccessfully that they were
    fatigued, and therefore sounded a retreat. When they had retired to
    their quarters, the chiefs held a council how to act; and the
    greater part were for decamping on the morrow, without attempting more
    against the castle, to join their countrymen in the neighborhood of
    Carlisle. But the earl of Douglas overruled this by saying, "In
    despite of Sir Henry Percy, who the day before yesterday declared he
    would take from me his pennon, that I conquered by fair deeds of
    arms before Newcastle, I will not return home for two or three days;
    and we will renew our attack on the castle, for it is to be taken:
    we shall thus gain double honor, and see if within that time he will
    come for his pennon; if he do it shall be well defended." Every one
    agreed to what Earl Douglas had said; for it was not only honorable,
    but he was the principal commander; and from affection to him they
    quietly returned to their quarters. They made huts of trees and
    branches, and strongly fortified themselves. They placed their baggage
    and servants at the entrance of the marsh on the road to Newcastle,
    and the cattle they drove into the marsh lands.
    I will return to Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, who were greatly
    mortified that the earl of Douglas should have conquered their
    pennon in the skirmish before Newcastle. They felt the more for this
    disgrace because Sir Henry had not kept his word; for he had told
    the earl that he should never carry his pennon out of England, and
    this he explained to the knights who were with him in Newcastle. The
    English imagined the army under the earl of Douglas to be only the van
    of the Scots, and that the main body was behind; for which reason
    those knights who had the most experience in arms, and were best
    acquainted with war-like affairs, strongly opposed the proposal of Sir
    Henry Percy to pursue them. They said, "Sir, many losses happen in
    war: if the earl of Douglas has won your pennon he has bought it
    dear enough; for he has come to the gates to seek it, and has been
    well fought with. Another time you will gain from him as much if not
    more. We say so, because you know as well as we do that the whole
    power of Scotland has taken the field. We are not sufficiently
    strong to offer them battle; and perhaps this skirmish may have been
    only a trick to draw us out of the town; and if they be, as
    reported, forty thousand strong, they will surround us, and have us at
    their mercy. It is much better to lose a pennon than two or three
    hundred knights and squires, and leave our country in a defenceless
    state." This speech checked the eagerness of the two brothers Percy,
    for they would not act contrary to the opinion of the council, when
    other news was brought them by some knights and squires who had
    followed and observed the Scots, their numbers, disposition, and where
    they had halted. This was all fully related by knights who had
    traversed the whole extent of country the Scots had passed through,
    that they might carry to their lords the most exact information.
    They thus spoke: "Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, we come to tell you
    that we have followed the Scottish army, and observed all the
    country where they now are. They first halted at Ponclau, and took Sir
    Raymond de Laval in his castle; thence they went to Otterbourne, and
    took up their quarters for the night. We are ignorant of what they did
    on the morrow, but they seem to have taken measures for a long stay.
    We know for certain that their army does not consist of more than
    three thousand men, including all sorts." Sir Henry Percy on hearing
    this was greatly rejoiced, and cried out, "To horse! to horse! for
    by the faith I owe my God, and to my lord and father, I will seek to
    recover my pennon and to beat up their quarters this night." Such
    knights and squires in Newcastle as learned this were willing to be of
    the party, and made themselves ready.
    The Bishop of Durham was expected daily at the town; for he had
    heard of the irruption of the Scots, and that they were before it,
    in which were the sons of the Earl of Northumberland preparing to
    offer them combat. The bishop had collected a number of men, and was
    hastening to their assistance, but Sir Henry Percy would not wait; for
    he was accompanied by six hundred spears, of knights and squires,
    and upwards of eight thousand infantry, which he said would be more
    than enough to fight the Scots, who were but three hundred lances
    and two thousand others. When they were all assembled they left
    Newcastle after dinner, and took the field in good array, following
    the road the Scots had taken, making for Otterbourne, which was
    eight short leagues distant; but they could not advance very fast,
    that their infantry might keep up with them.
    As the Scots were supping,- some indeed had gone to sleep, for
    they had labored hard during the day at the attack of the castle,
    and intended renewing it in the cool of the morning,- the English
    arrived, and mistook, at their entrance, the huts of the servants
    for those of their masters. They forced their way into the camp, which
    was, however, tolerably strong, shouting out, "Percy! Percy!" In
    such cases you may suppose an alarm is soon given, and it was
    fortunate for the Scots that the English had made their first attack
    on the servants' quarters, which checked them some little. The
    Scots, expecting the English, had prepared accordingly; for while
    the lords were arming themselves they ordered a body of infantry to
    join their servants and keep up the skirmish. As their men were armed,
    they formed themselves under the pennons of the three principal
    barons, who each had his particular appointment. In the meantime the
    night advanced, but it was sufficiently light, for the moon shone, and
    it was the month of August, when the weather is temperate and serene.
    When the Scots were quite ready, and properly arrayed, they left
    their camp in silence, but did not march to meet the English. They
    skirted the side of the mountain which was hard by; for during the
    preceding day they had well examined the country round, and said among
    themselves, "Should the English come to beat up our quarters we will
    do so and so," and thus settled their plans beforehand, which was
    the saving of them; for it is of the greatest advantage to men-at-arms
    when attacked in the night to have previously arranged their mode of
    defence, and well to have weighed the chance of victory or defeat. The
    English had soon overpowered their servants; but as they advanced into
    the camp they found fresh bodies ready to oppose them, and to continue
    the fight. The Scots, in the meantime, marched along the mountain
    side, and fell upon the enemy's flank quite unexpectedly, shouting
    their cries. This was a great surprise to the English, who however
    formed themselves in better order and reinforced that part of their
    army. The cries of Percy and Douglas resounded on either side.
    The battle now raged: great was the pushing of lances, and very many
    of each party was struck down at the first onset. The English being
    more numerous, and anxious to defeat the enemy, kept in a compact
    body, and forced the Scots to retire, who were on the point of being
    discomfited. The earl of Douglas being young, and impatient to gain
    renown in arms, ordered his banner to advance, shouting, "Douglas!
    Douglas!" Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, indignant for the affront the
    earl of Douglas had put on them, by conquering their pennon, and
    desirous of meeting him, hastened to the place from whence the
    sounds came, calling out, "Percy! Percy!" The two banners met, and
    many gallant deeds of arms ensued. The English were in superior
    strength, and fought so lustily that they drove back the Scots. Sir
    Patrick Hepburn and his son of the same name did honor to their
    knighthood and country by their gallantry, under the banner of
    Douglas, which would have been conquered but for the vigorous
    defence they made; and this circumstance not only contributed to their
    personal credit, but the memory of it is continued with honor to their
    The knights and squires of either party were anxious to continue the
    combat with vigor as long as their spears might be capable of holding.
    Cowardice was there unknown, and the most splendid courage was
    everywhere exhibited by the gallant youths of England and Scotland;
    they were so closely intermixed that the archer's' bows were
    useless, and they fought hand to hand, without either battalion giving
    way. The Scots behaved most valiantly, for the English were three to
    one. I do not mean to say the English did not acquit themselves
    well; for they would sooner be slain or made prisoners in battle
    than reproached with flight. As I before mentioned, the two banners of
    Douglas and Percy met, and the men-at-arms under each exerted
    themselves by every means to gain the victory; but the English, at
    this attack, were so much the stronger, that the Scots were driven
    back. The earl of Douglas, who was of a high spirit, seeing his men
    repulsed, seized a battle-axe with both his hands, like a gallant
    knight, and to rally his men dashed into the midst of his enemies, and
    gave such blows on all around him that no one could withstand them,
    but all made way for him on every side; for there was none so well
    armed with helmets and plates but that they suffered from his
    battle-axe. Thus he advanced, like another Hector, thinking to recover
    and conquer the field, from his own prowess, until he was met by three
    spears that were pointed at him. One struck him on the shoulder,
    another on the stomach, and the third entered his thigh. He could
    never disengage himself from these spears, but was borne to the
    ground, fighting desperately. From that time he never rose again. Some
    of his knights and squires had followed him, but not all; for,
    though the moon shone, it was rather dark. The three English lancers
    knew that they had struck down some person of considerable rank, but
    never thought it was Earl Douglas. Had they known it, they would
    have been so rejoiced that their courage would have been redoubled,
    and the fortune of the day had consequently been determined to their
    side. The Scots were ignorant also of their loss until the battle
    was over, otherwise they would certainly, from despair, have been
    I will relate what befell the earl afterward. As soon as he fell,
    his head was cleaved by a battle-axe, the spear thrust through his
    thigh, and the main body of the English marched over him, without
    paying any attention, not supposing him to be their principal enemy.
    In another part of the field, the earl of March and Dunbar combated
    valiantly; and the English gave the Scots full employment who had
    followed the earl of Douglas, and had engaged with the two Percies.
    The earl of Moray behaved so gallantly in pursuing the English, that
    they knew not how to resist him. Of all the battles that have been
    described in this history, great and small, this of which I am now
    speaking was the best fought and the most severe; for there was not
    a man, knight, or squire who did not acquit himself gallantly, hand to
    hand with the enemy. It resembled something that of Cocherel, which
    was as long and as hardily disputed. The sons of the earl of
    Northumberland, Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, who were the leaders of
    this expedition, behaved themselves like good knights in the combat.
    Almost a similar accident befel Sir Ralph as that which happened to
    the earl of Douglas; for, having advanced too far, he was surrounded
    by the enemy and severely wounded, and, being out of breath,
    surrendered himself to a Scots knight, called Sir John Maxwell, who
    was under the command and of the household of the earl of Moray.
    When made prisoner, the knight asked him who he was, for it was
    dark, and he knew him not. Sir Ralph was so weakened by loss of blood,
    which was flowing from his wound, that he could scarcely avow
    himself to be Sir Ralph Percy. "Well," replied the knight, "Sir Ralph,
    rescued or not, you are my prisoner; my name is Maxwell." "I agree
    to it," said Sir Ralph. "But pay some attention to me; for I am so
    desperately wounded, that my drawers and greaves are full of blood."
    Upon this the Scots knight was very attentive to him; when suddenly
    hearing the cry of Moray hard by, and perceiving the earl's banner
    advancing to him, Sir John addressed himself to the earl of Moray, and
    said, "My lord, I present you with Sir Ralph Percy as a prisoner;
    but let good care be taken of him, for he is very badly wounded."
    The earl was much pleased at this, and replied, "Maxwell, thou hast
    well earned thy spurs this day." He then ordered his men to take every
    care of Sir Ralph, who bound up and staunched his wounds. The battle
    still continued to rage, and no one could say at that moment which
    side would be the conqueror, for there were very many captures and
    rescues that never came to my knowledge.
    The young earl of Douglas had this night performed wonders in
    arms. When he was struck down there was a great crowd round him, and
    he could not raise himself; for the blow on his head was mortal. His
    men had followed him as closely as they were able, and there came to
    him his cousins, Sir James Lindsay, Sir John and Sir Walter
    Sinclair, with other knights and squires. They found by his side a
    gallant knight, that had constantly attended him, who was his
    chaplain, and had at this time exchanged his profession for that of
    a valiant man-at-arms. The whole night he had followed the earl,
    with his battle-axe in hand, and had by his exertions more than once
    repelled the English. This conduct gained the thanks of his
    countrymen, and turned out to his advantage, for in the same year he
    was promoted to the archdeaconry, and made canon of Aberdeen. His name
    was Sir William of North Berwick. To say the truth, he was well formed
    in all his limbs to shine in battle, and was severely wounded at
    this combat. When these knights came to the earl of Douglas they found
    him in a melancholy state, as well as one of his knights, Sir Robert
    Hart, who had fought by his side the whole of the night, and now lay
    beside him, covered with fifteen wounds from lances and other weapons.
    Sir John Sinclair asked the earl, "Cousin, how fares it with you?"
    "But so so," replied he. "Thanks to God, there are but few of my
    ancestors who have died in chambers or in their beds. I bid you,
    therefore, revenge my death, for I have but little hope of living,
    as my heart becomes every minute more faint. Do you, Walter and Sir
    John Sinclair, raise up my banner, for certainly it is on the
    ground, from the death of David Campbell, that valiant squire who bore
    it, and who refused knighthood from my hands this day, though he was
    equal to the most eminent knights for courage and loyalty; and
    continue to shout 'Douglas!' but do not tell friend or foe whether I
    am in your company or not; for, should the enemy know the truth,
    they will be greatly rejoiced."
    The two brothers Sinclair and Sir John Lindsay obeyed his orders.
    The banner was raised, and "Douglas!" shouted. Their men, who had
    remained behind, hearing the shouts of "Douglas!" so often repeated,
    ascended a small eminence, and pushed their lances with such courage
    that the English were repulsed, and many killed or struck to the
    ground. The Scots, by thus valiantly driving the enemy beyond the spot
    where the earl of Douglas lay dead,- for he had expired on giving
    his last orders,- arrived at his banner, which was borne by Sir John
    Sinclair. Numbers were continually increasing, from the repeated
    shouts of "Douglas!" and the greater part of the Scots knights and
    squires were now there. The earls of Moray and March, with their
    banners and men, came thither also. When they were all thus collected,
    perceiving the English retreat, they renewed the battle with greater
    vigor than before.
    To say the truth, the English had harder work than the Scots, for
    they had come by a forced march that evening from Newcastle-on-Tyne,
    which was eight English leagues distant, to meet the Scots, by which
    means the greater part were exceedingly fatigued before the combat
    began. The Scots, on the contrary, had reposed themselves, which was
    to them of the utmost advantage, as was apparent from the event of the
    battle. In this last attack they so completely repulsed the English,
    that the latter could never rally again, and the former drove them far
    beyond where the earl of Douglas lay on the ground. Sir Henry Percy,
    during this attack, had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the
    Lord Montgomery, a very valiant knight of Scotland. They had long
    fought hand to hand with much valor, and without hindrance from any
    one; for there was neither knight nor squire of either party who did
    not find there his equal to fight with, and all were fully engaged. In
    the end, Sir Henry was made prisoner by the Lord Montgomery.

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