The First Battle of the Hundred Years’ War: The Battle of Cadzand – November 9, 1337

The Hundred Years’ War is perhaps the second-most well-known military conflict of the Middle Ages, second only to the Crusades. This epic clash between the kingdoms of England and France, which was actually a series of separate conflicts spread out over five generations rather than a single continuous war, contains some of the most famous battles in European military history: Crecy (1346), Poitiers (1356), Agincourt (1415), and Orleans (1429). But how did it all begin?

The roots of one of the most famous conflicts of the Middle Ages are found in a French succession crisis. On February 1, 1328, King Charles IV of France died without a male heir. After his death, there were two contenders for the French crown: King Charles’ cousin Count Philip of Valois and the 17-year old King Edward III of England. Edward’s mother, Queen Isabella, was King Charles’ sister, and that therefore made Edward King Charles’ nephew. Technically speaking, Edward was more closely related to the now-dead French king, and therefore he should have been next in line to inherit the French crown. This would make Edward the king of both England and France, something which had never happened before (1).

King Edward III of England, portrayed by Blake Ritson in the 2012 television miniseries World Without End. However, King Edward did not wear the quartered arms of England and France until 1340.

However, there was one big problem with Edward’s claim. He was the son of King Charles’ sister, and French law decreed that any person who was born from the female line of the French royal family could not inherit the French throne. Therefore, due to a misfortune of genealogy, King Edward III was banned by the French from claiming the French crown. Instead, the crown passed to Count Philip of Valois, who was crowned as King Philip VI, King of France, on May 29, 1328 in the city of Rheims. After much reluctance, Edward agreed to acknowledge Philip as the legitimate French king (2).

What sort of a man was the new king of France? In the words of the 19th Century French historian François Paul Émile Boisnormand de Bonnechose, King Philip was described as “brave, violent, vindictive, and cruel; skillful in all muscular exercises, he was ignorant of the first notions of the military art and of financial administration. With him the art of reigning was to inspire terror by executions, and admiration by pomp and magnificence” (3).

King Philip VI of France. From Le procès de Robert d’Artois (dated to 1336; manuscrit Français 18437, folio 2). Currently housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Then things started to go sour. The trouble which would ensue between England and France centered upon the territory of Gascony (known in French as Guienne or Guyenne), which lay in southwestern France and which was under English control. According to the complicated feudalistic relationships at that time, the province of Gascony was technically part of France. However the English ruled over it, with French permission. In order to maintain their hands-on control over Gascony, the English king had to pay homage to the king of France, acknowledging him as his overlord in Gascony. Indeed on June 6, 1329, in the city of Amiens, King Edward III of England paid homage to King Philip V of France as his master, at least as far as Gascony was concerned (4).

King Philip VI of France longed to re-establish direct French control over Gascony, but the Gascons themselves had been under English rule for so long that they preferred to be under English authority. Philip tried to provoke the English into a war by moving a large fleet of warships into the English Channel, but King Edward III of England didn’t take the bait (5).

Yet war would come soon for the English, not in Gascony, but in a place much closer to home. In 1332, after a four-year ceasefire, war once again broke out between England and Scotland. France vowed assistance, and a few minor actions were carried out by the French on Scotland’s behalf. However, King Edward focused the majority of his attention on defeating the Scots rather than tackling the French, which would have been a much more daunting proposition. He simply didn’t have the means to wage a two-front war on both France and Scotland at the same time. He did, however, institute a trade embargo as a way to hurt France’s economy. On August 12, 1336, King Edward III enacted a ban on exporting wool and leather to France and to all French vassal states, including the region known as Flanders (6).

The region known in Medieval times as “Flanders” traditionally stretched from the Somme River in the south to the Scheldt River in the north; altogether, it consisted of a large portion of northern France, the western half of Belgium, and the southwestern corner of the Netherlands. Flanders was not part of France during this time. Instead, it was a vassal state of France – it had its own ruler, laws, language, and customs, but it still had to acknowledge France as its overlord, and its lord was obedient to the command of the French king. The man who ruled Flanders at that time was Lord Louis de Nevers, Count of Flanders, who lived a luxurious opulent lifestyle in Paris and hadn’t set foot in Flanders except when it was required for him to do so. He was loyal to the French king, as most of the Flemish aristocracy was, but he oppressed the people under him lamentably with high taxes, and was either indifferent or oblivious to the suffering that he was causing amongst them. It also escaped his notice that his heavy-handed policies were drawing many of the Flemish people closer in friendship with the English. Due to political ties with France and economic ties with England, many Flemings were conflicted about where their loyalties lay: some (mostly the aristocracy) were pro-French, while others (mainly the merchant class) were pro-English since a large portion of Flanders’ economy relied upon imported English wool, and still others wished Flanders to become a completely independent nation. King Edward III’s decision to cut English imports to the region was bad news for the Flemish economy, but he had made this decision because he regarded all of Flanders as a target, largely because its ruler was pro-French. In truth, most of the Flemish population despised Count Louis and chafed under his rule. If a movement could be put afoot to oust Count Louis from power permanently, King Edward of England might be better disposed towards them and could be persuaded to lift the trade embargo (7).

Heraldic arms of Lord Louis de Nevers, Count of Flanders, vassal to the French king.

Leading the pro-English faction within Flanders was a brewer from the city of Ghent named Jacob Van Artevelde. Blessed with a gift for persuasive speech, this local firebrand and rabble-rouser managed to persuade his countrymen to throw off their absentee oppressor and to pledge themselves as England’s friends. The people acclaimed him as their true leader, and so Jacob Van Artevelde was elected by popular consensus as the runwaert (“regent”) of Flanders. However, Jacob’s rule quickly changed from being a populist champion into an authoritarian dictatorship. The French chronicler Jean Froissart claimed that Jacob ruled Flanders with such authority that his word was law and nobody dared to question his decisions. Wherever he travelled, he was always accompanied by around fifty armed bodyguards, and had spies ensconced within every city, town, and village to report any sentiments of disloyalty to him. In each community, he had bodies of armed men who were commanded to carry out every order that he should give them without any hesitation. He directly ordered numerous executions of his political enemies, or even people that he simply disliked, without any arrest or trial. These summary deaths occurred so frequently that nobody dared say a single word that could even be construed as criticism, lest Jacob’s jackboots come for them. Things were so severe there that Count Louis, his wife, and his son dared not set foot within that region lest they all be killed instantly (8).

While all of this was going on in Flanders, England was busily engaged fighting a war against Scotland. With the English distracted in the north, King Philip VI of France could move against English-held territories within France, but he still needed an excuse to do it so that he would not look like the aggressor. Then, King Philip finally got his pretext for an invasion when a rebellious French lord named Count Robert of Artois (1287-1342) sought refuge in Gascony, and then afterwards fled to England. On December 26, 1336, King Philip issued an ultimatum to the English governor of Gascony – hand over Count Robert at once, or else. Even as he sent the ultimatum, a large French army was being amassed on Gascony’s border. Although the English sent ambassadors to Philip’s court to negotiate a deal, the French king refused to see them. By now, King Edward III and the nobles of England had guessed that war with France was imminent. The king commanded one of his admirals, Geoffrey de Say, to gather together a strong fleet of warships and to attack any French warships that came too close towards the coast of either England or Scotland. In the meantime, King Edward also dispatched envoys to the Holy Roman Empire, the duchy of Austria, the bishopric of Cologne, and the bishopric of Liege asking for an alliance, hoping to lever some weight in his favor by having a united coalition of states attack France all at the same time (9).

The French moved far quicker. On April 30, 1337, King Philip VI issued a general draft, stating that all able-bodied men should ready themselves for war. On May 24 in a council in Paris, he declared that, in sheltering his enemy Robert d’Artois, King Edward had forfeited his right to rule Gascony in Philip’s name, and that it would be reclaimed by the French crown. By the end of May, all of the French nobles had received their marching orders, and were preparing to invade and seize possession of Gascony. On August 21, 1337, King Philip VI of France officially declared war on England, and the French army crossed the border into Gascony. The Hundred Years’ War had begun (10).

When it came to getting involved in a war with France, King Edward III couldn’t afford it, both literally and figuratively. The early years of King Edward’s reign were beset by numerous economic difficulties, and the English treasury was nearly broke. Going to war with Scotland didn’t help – wars were, and still are, expensive. The prospect of going to war against France, which was much larger and stronger than Scotland, meant that the costs of that war would be, bluntly speaking, impossible. Even if King Edward did have the funds to prosecute a war, the English army was small compared to the might of the French military machine. Furthermore, the recent war with Scotland had led to the English army suffering casualties that Edward couldn’t afford to take. If he wanted to regain control of Gascony, he needed to substantially boost the size of his own army. However, with manpower depleted at home, Edward was forced to turn to foreign assistance. He looked around for allies, promising large sums of money if they would fight on his side…money that he didn’t actually have. In order to pay the fees that he promised, Edward was forced to borrow large sums of money from large banking houses and private investors, money which he was not able to pay back. In time, this would cause a severe economic slump in England which soon spread to other parts of Europe, causing an international financial recession (11).

King Edward’s plan was for the garrison in Gascony to maintain a strong defensive position while his army would cross the English Channel and invade France from the north. However, due to money problems, Edward was unable to proceed with his invasion plans. King Edward was burning to launch an offensive against France in retaliation for its invasion of Gascony, but with such limited manpower, there was little that he could actually do. England’s ambassadors to France (who consisted of the bishop of Lincoln, the earl of Salisbury, and the earl of Huntingdon), who dwelt in the town of Valenciennes, believed that the enterprise of attacking France would be much easier if the English could gain the support of the Flemish, or at least to have Flanders declare neutrality. They sent a message to Lord William, the English earl of Hainault (a region of southern Belgium which was controlled by the English), concerning this matter, and he responded that it would be very advantageous to get Flanders’ support. Lord William replied that he didn’t think that this was possible unless the English first gained the friendship of Flanders’ resident strongman Jacob Van Artevelde, who ruled that region with a tight iron grip. The ambassadors said that they would try (12).

The party of ambassadors quit Valenciennes and then split up, travelling by different routes to avoid all of them being captured at once. They spread out into the various Flemish communities in the area and did their best to persuade the Flemings to join England’s side. Many parts of Flanders already had pro-English sympathies, thanks in large part to the tyrannical practices of Flanders’ pro-French lord Count Louis, and King Edward’s envoys only served to seal their affections. Through a combination of persuasion, flattery, and excessive bribery, the cities of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres, which were major commercial centers, all pledged their friendship to the English and treaties were written up to establish trade between these places and England. In the city of Ghent, the English ambassadors actually met Jacob Van Artevelde face-to-face and earned his friendship and respect. In the end, he and all of his subordinates gave the following resolution: Their status legally bounded themselves to France as a French vassal, but they stated that if King Edward III led his army through Flanders, he would not face any resistance on their part. Flanders would not take up arms against the English, but they would not take up arms alongside them either. Until the Flemish had grown enough in strength to resist the French in battle, the English ambassadors would have to be satisfied with that answer for the time being (13).

It was not long before King Philip VI got wind of all of these schemes. If the English could persuade the Flemish to declare neutrality, then it would not take much more effort to persuade them to fight alongside them as well. After all, despite Flanders’ legal status as a French vassal, most of the Flemish population were pro-English. However, there were a few places which still maintained their loyalty to Count Louis and to King Philip VI of France. One of these was the port-town of Sluys, a vital military and economic hub on the bank of the Scheldt River which held a sizeable garrison. Another was Cadzand Island (also spelled as Cadsand or Cadsant), located not far from Sluys, and which guarded the mouth of the Scheldt. From both of these places, the garrisons stationed there often sallied out and raided English outposts in the region, and ships anchored there would intercept English merchant ships travelling to and fro across the Channel. These two locations had not fallen under the sway of Jacob Van Artevelde’s persuasive speech or his death squads. Jacob’s promise to King Edward’s ambassadors that the English army could travel through Flanders unmolested was all well and good, but the garrisons of Cadzand Island and Sluys disagreed. As long as those places remained intact, they would pose a threat to Edward’s supply and communication lines. If King Edward’s intended campaign against the French was to succeed, then both of these enemy strongholds would have to be taken out in the opening stages of his offensive (14).

While King Edward III was still formulating his battle plans, reaching out to allies, and desperately scrounging around for cash, the French continued to ratchet up the pressure. On March 24, 1337, a group of war galleys pulled into the harbor at Portsmouth; all of them were flying English flags. But it was a ruse! These were actually French war galleys, under the command of Captain Nicholas Bahuchet, who were launching a surprise attack on England’s shores. The French sailors and marines descended from their ships and proceeded to kill anyone that they saw and to plunder and burn any building in sight. When they had done enough damage, they clambered back into their ships and sailed south, landing at the English-controlled Channel Islands, where they carried out similar depredations against the town of Guernsey. Acts such as these further demonstrated the power of the French and the impotence of the English. Unless things were turned around for the better, then the English would not have the will to put up any fight at all (15).

King Edward III of England decided that he needed a quick easy victory to boost the morale of his troops, who were both battle-weary from their recent war with Scotland and also apprehensive about taking on France, which was a much more daunting enterprise. Therefore, King Edward decided that he would send a small army into the land of France’s vassal state of Flanders and take out the few pro-French holdouts that were still there. Doing so would not only help to clear a path through to France, but a quick easy victory would help to strengthen the resolve and courage of his men. Finally, it would also help to further cement Jacob Van Artevelde’s control over the region, and with him as England’s friend, he might just be persuaded to use his power of command to order his people to take up arms on England’s behalf (16).

King Edward III ordered Sir Walter Manny, Knight of the Order of the Garter, who had served in the recent war against Scotland and was now the leader of a small English force which was stationed in Hainault, along with several other lords and knights to return to England immediately to prepare for an invasion of Flanders. When it came to attacking Flanders, Sir Walter Manny’s force which was already stationed in Hainault, close to the Flemish border, was simply too small to accomplish such an undertaking – they needed additional troops from England. However, King Edward’s envoys had established friendly relations with the Flemish, and in many respects, these efforts were successful. Taking care to avoid venturing too near to the pro-French strongholds of Sluys and Cadzand, Sir Walter Manny and his companions travelled through the friendly zones until they made their way to the port of Dordrecht and, together with the ambassadors, set sail back for England (17).

On the way back to England, the fleet of 40 English ships intercepted two large Flemish warships. On board was the bishop of Glasgow, 150 Scottish gentlemen, a large amount of money, and a small number of French soldiers which had been dispatched by King Philip of France to fight alongside the Bruce faction in Scotland. These two ships were quickly boarded and plundered, and “the bishop, with his followers, cut in pieces” (18).

Heraldic arms of Sir Walter Manny (also spelled Mauny or Mauney), Knight of the Order of the Garter.

Heraldic arms of Lord Henry of Grosmont (also spelled Grismond), Earl of Derbyshire.

When Sir Walter Manny and his companions arrived at King Edward III’s court, he informed His Majesty of the raids and harassments that the French and Flemish troops stationed on Cadzand Island had committed against the English thereabouts. In response, King Edward said that he would take care of them very soon, and that’s when the king informed Sir Walter Manny of his plan: Sir Walter would take command of a small fleet of warships, sail towards the Flemish coast, and there raid the pro-French territories around the mouth of the Scheldt River. Sir Walter would be placed in overall command of the operation. The king chose Lord Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derbyshire, as the commander of the amphibious assault force; Sir Walter Manny was expected to provide him whatever support he needed to carry out the attacks against the Flemish. The first objective in this operation was to seize control of Cadzand Island. After this was accomplished, the plan was to take possession of the important port-town of Sluys, which lay nearby. Meanwhile, to guard against any maritime attacks that the French or their Flemish allies might conduct along the English coast, King Edward commanded Lord William Montague, Earl of Salisbury, to take command of a fleet of coastal patrol ships and guard England’s southern coast. Theobald Russel was commanded to see to the defenses of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Wight, both of which had recently been attacked by French raiding parties. Likewise, he entrusted the guardianship of England’s eastern coast – that which faced nearest to Flanders – to the command of Lord Robert Ufford, Earl of Suffolk (19).

The English force collected for the operation against Cadzand and Sluys numbered 3,500 men: 1,000 dismounted knights and squires, 500 men-at-arms serving as infantry, and 2,000 archers. True, it was a small invasion force, but this was intended only to be a tactical strike. The troops embarked at London and then sailed downstream along the Thames until they got to Gravesend, where they anchored. The following morning, they set sail again until they got to Margate. The next morning, they set sail directly for Flanders. Their first target: Cadzand Island (20).

During the 14th Century, Cadzand Island was a small swampy island located where the Scheldt River emptied into the English Channel, and formed one of the smaller islands in the Rhine River Delta. The island contained only one major settlement, the small town of Cadzand, and a few inconsequential fishing communities. Nowadays, Cadzand is no longer an island, being now joined to the European mainland. The town itself is located one mile inland from the shore of the English Channel, surrounded by flat farms and pasture fields. Nearby is the beach-side resort town of Cadzand-Bad, meaning “Cadzand Beach”, a place for vacationers and day-trippers to get away for a sunny day at the seaside. One wonders if the majority of the people who visit are aware of the bloody carnage that took place on that strip of sand during the 1300s (21).

Proposed flag of the town of Cadzand, proposed in 1970 by A. J. Beenhakker; the proposal was rejected. It is unknown if the town possessed heraldic arms during the 14th Century, but it probably didn’t.
https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/nl-ze_cz.html

Although Cadzand Island lacked much in terms of its appearance, its benefit was that it was strategically located. It lay halfway between the important cities of Bruges and Vlissingen, and it was also well-placed to intercept all vessels travelling from the English Channel to the Flemish trade centers of Bruges, Ghent, and Brabant. Cadzand also guarded the entranceway to the Scheldt River. True, Cadzand was one of several pro-French strongholds in this region, but it was also felt that taking over this island wouldn’t be that difficult. After all, Cadzand was small, unfortified, and it was believed to possess only a small garrison of troops. King Edward III of England was anticipating a quick easy victory that would boost his men’s spirits and demonstrate to the French that he was not a king to be trifled with (22).

Unfortunately for the English, the pro-French ruling class of Flanders had been informed in advance that the English were going to invade. Count Louis of Flanders, the pro-French ruler of that region, marched an army to the important city of Bruges. However, the pro-English sentiment of the people in that region compelled Count Louis to withdraw to Cadzand Island, which was one of the few places in that area that had stayed loyal. While he was there, he commanded his brother, the illegitimate Sir Guy de Rickenburg, also known as “Guy the Bastard”, to take charge of Cadzand’s defenses and to seize possession of the English envoys should they return that way. This being commanded, Count Louis fled quickly back to Paris. Despite his colorful epithet, Sir Guy de Rickenburg had a reputation for being a good knight who insisted that every man under him perform his duties to the fullest. To aid in Cadzand’s defense, he commanded an army of some 5,000 men, the overwhelming majority of them being local militia. Sixteen men were dubbed as knights on the spot (23).

Hypothetical heraldic arms of Sir Guy de Rickenburg (also spelled Rickenbourg), known as “Sir Guy the Bastard”, commander of the Flemish forces at the Battle of Cadzand. I do not know of any description or visual depiction of his heraldry. The black bend sinister (diagonal stripe arranged bottom left to top right) was a heraldic device which signified that the bearer was of illegitimate birth.

Although the French were certain that the English were intending to invade soon, there was confusion as to where their intended target was. King Philip VI’s younger brother, the 40 year old Count Charles of Alencon (1297-1346), who served as the commanding general of France’s armies, believed that the English fleet was making to invade France, not Flanders. Because of this, he stationed his army at the port-city of Boulogne-Sur-Mer where he was convinced that the English would land. As a result, the bulk of the French army was located 90 miles from Cadzand – at least five days’ travel away from where the battle was going to actually take place. Sir Guy de Rickenburg and his 5,000 troops, if attacked, would not be getting any reinforcements from the French. He and his men would have to make a stand by themselves (24).

On Sunday, November 9, 1337, the English ships came within sight of Cadzand Island. From the island’s shores, the Flemish troops plainly saw the large number of ships out on the sea, and correctly guessed that this must be the English invasion fleet. As the English drew nearer towards the coast, the soldiers and sailors aboard observed that the Flemish defenders were already waiting there for them with their banners raised. They had taken up defensive positions on the dikes and on the sandy beach and were situated in the places deemed most effective for repelling an amphibious assault. The English did not have the element of surprise in their favor (25).

In spite of Cadzand’s formidable defenses, both the wind and the tide were in the English favor. Recognizing this, Sir Walter Manny commanded in the name of God and Saint George that the ships be brought as close to the island as they dared. The English had no intention to engage in a parlay with the island’s Flemish defenders, as was the custom in those days between two opposing sides in an attempt to avert bloodshed before the battle commenced. Rather, it was the earnest desire of the English to take the island and to defeat the Flemish either with their destruction or their capture. The Flemish, for their part, were equally desirous that they should repel the English from their land. Thus it was taken for granted by both sides, without a word spoken, that this battle would be a fight to the death (26).

Trumpets sounded, the English archers were called upon deck, and with full sail, the whole of the English fleet sailed directly towards the island. As they drew closer to the beach, the English longbowmen on deck shot volleys of arrows at the Flemish troops who had taken up positions on the shore. Some of the Flemish defenders thought it best to quit the beach and to withdraw further off, while others deemed it more disciplined to maintain their positions. But after suffering many casualties from missiles, Sir Guy de Rickenburg ordered his whole force to withdraw a little distance into the interior so that they would be out of arrow range. However, this gave the rest of the English the opportunity to draw their ships in closer to the shore (27).

File:Cadsand.jpg

English longbowmen stationed aboard ships fire upon the Flemish militia defending the shore of Cadzand Island.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cadsand.jpg

Then the order came to send in the landing craft. The English landing force was under the command of Lord Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derbyshire. The landing force totaled 1,500 men, consisting of infantry and dismounted knights. Meanwhile, the archers remained aboard the ships to provide covering fire for the landing force. Once the English troops had disembarked from their landing boats and charged onto the sand, the battle escalated dramatically. The English had been led to believe that Cadzand was weak and poorly defended, and an attack on the island would result in an easy victory. Instead, the fighting was much harder than the English had expected. The English landing party was outnumbered by over 3 to 1, and the Flemish under Sir Guy’s command were dead-set on utterly destroying the English troops. The Battle of Cadzand was vicious and merciless. Both the Flemish and the English fought with memorable courage and fierceness on that day (28).

English infantry and dismounted knights storm the beach at Cadzand Island.
http://www.historynaked.com/the-battle-of-cadsand/

Lord Henry of Grosmont, Earl of Derbyshire, the commander of the English landing force, narrowly escaped being killed. During the fighting, he pressed himself so hard upon the enemy that he advanced too far forwards, and was soon surrounded by them, and received such a hard blow from one of them that he was struck to the ground. Upon seeing this, Sir Walter Manny, who had landed on the shore with the invasion force, charged at the Flemish, pushing his way through them, and rescued his comrade. After fighting off the Flemish who surely would have killed Lord Henry, Sir Walter raised him up to his feet again, and they continued the fight (29).

Had the fighting been limited to just the Flemish and English forces afoot, then the battle would surely have been in the Flemings’ favor, for they outnumbered the English by over 3 to 1. However, throughout the whole of the fight, the English archers, who were still positioned upon the ship decks and were thus out of immediate harm, continued to shoot volleys of arrows into the Flemish ranks, causing many deaths. The work done by the longbowmen throughout that day put the fight in the favor of the English (30).

At last, the Flemish forces routed, and the English pursued them into the nearby town of Cadzand. The fighting and the butchery continued street-to-street, and house-to-house. When the battle was over, the town of Cadzand was ransacked, and after all of the prisoners and spoils were brought aboard ship, the whole town was set on fire. Out of a total of 5,000 men amongst the Flemish force, 3,000 were killed, and most of the rest were taken prisoner. Among the Flemings, the slain included Sir Dutres de Halluyn, Sir John of Rhodes, Sir Simon de Bouquedent and his brother Sir Jean de Bouquedent (both of whom were dubbed as knights just before the battle), Sir Giles de L’Estrief, and almost thirty other knights and squires. The Flemish commander Sir Guy de Rickenburg and several other noblemen were captured; the ordinary soldiers who were taken prisoner were all executed en masse. Thus it was that, with the exception of a small handful of survivors, nearly the entire Flemish garrison was killed that day, while English losses were minimal (31).

One would think now that Cadzand’s garrison was practically destroyed, that the English would assault the nearby town of Sluys and take it, or at least force it to surrender. Sluys was an important coastal town and a main base for trade and French naval operations. Its capture would have been a good early blow against France. But strangely, Sir Walter Manny did not follow up his victory – he abandoned the island shortly afterwards. It is not clear why he made this decision, but perhaps he learned of the French army amassed at Boulogne-Sur-Mer, which was only a few days’ journey away, and perhaps he learned of the large number of French warships that were being gathered in the Channel at that moment, and he deemed his situation too precarious. Sluys was well-fortified, and Sir Walter’s army possessed no siege weapons. A blockade of the town may take weeks or even months, and that would be ample time for the French to cut around his rear, block off all hope of escape, and tear his little army apart to shreds. So, Sir Walter Manny ordered a tactical withdrawal, and his men sailed back to England with their prisoners and their plunder. Despite accomplishing only half of his objectives, he had nevertheless done a lot of damage to France’s hold in this area (32).

The Battle of Cadzand was a minor battle, but it did accomplish its short-term objectives. England’s would-be allies became increasingly confident that the English could hold their own against the might of France, and the pro-French population of Flanders became intimidated by the crushing victory that had been inflicted upon them. Buoyed up by this victory, the pro-English faction of Flanders felt more emboldened to defy French rule, and with the support of his new allies, King Edward III declared that his troops would soon march into France itself and he dared the French to do their worst! (33)

Sir Guy de Rickenburg, the knight who was in command of the Flemish defenses at Cadzand, was taken to England and was presented to King Edward III himself. Despite being the enemy commander, Sir Guy was treated as a worthy opponent, acknowledged as an honorable knight of the chivalric ideal, a mighty warrior in hand-to-hand combat, and a skilled battlefield commander, and the king treated him with great dignity. Technically, Sir Guy was Sir Walter Manny’s prisoner, and would remain so for over two years (34).

On November 24, 1337, King Edward III commanded Sir Walter Manny to take a fleet of warships into the Channel and to attack and harass the French whenever he found the opportunity to do so, but was commanded to return to port in three weeks. Harassment operations by English and French naval forces against each other’s coastal settlements dominated the opening years of the war and would continue until 1340 (35).

On January 26, 1340, King Edward paid Sir Walter Manny £8,000 (a very large sum of money in those days) to hand over Sir Guy and to have him placed in the king’s custody. King Edward III then forced Sir Guy de Rickenburg to promise that he would never attempt to escape. Sir Guy gave his word that he would remain in England, and did so with a great amount of personal freedom. Even so, he was still technically the king’s prisoner. Shortly afterwards, King Edward III told Sir Guy that he would be released from his imprisonment. The Flemish had agreed to pay a very high price to get Sir Guy ransomed back to them, amounting to £11,000. However, Sir Guy was so grateful to the king of England for his mercy that he paid homage to King Edward and swore allegiance to him, so the ransom was never paid (36).

Sir Walter Manny might not have been able to take the town of Sluys in the Autumn of 1337, but he would take a second crack at it three years later. On June 24, 1340, Sir Walter Manny fought at the Battle of Sluys, one of the biggest naval battles of the Medieval period, and he was said by the French chronicler Jean Froissart “to have eclipsed all his companions in valor” (37) during that engagement (38).

Source Citations

  1. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 5, 29; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 397; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 23; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 9.
  2. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 5, 29; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 398; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 23; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 10; Nicholas Aloysius Weber, A General History of the Christian Era, Volume I: 1-1517. Washington, DC: Catholic Education Press, 1919. Page 238.
  3. François Paul Émile Boisnormand de Bonnechose, The History of France to the Revolution of 1848. London: Ward, Lock, and Co., 1882. Page 227.
  4. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 31-33; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Pages 400-401; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 28-30; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Pages 9-10.
  5. William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 67, 70-71, 73, 87-88, 111; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 9.
  6. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 34-38; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Pages 396-397, 408-421; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 10-19, 54-70; Adaline Louise Jenckes, The Origin, the Organization and the Location of the Staple of England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1908. Pages 44-45.
  7. William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 26,86-88, 106-107, 111; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Pages 9-12; Louise Creighton, A First History of France. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1893. Page 86.
  8. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 41-43; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 109-110; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 12.
  9. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 34, 35-36, 39-41; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Pages 421-424; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 74, 94-95, 100-105; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Pages 10-11; Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years’ War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Page 172.
  10. Chambers’s Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Useful Knowledge for the People, Volume VII. London: W. & R. Chambers, 1886. Page 473; Ephraim Emerton, The Beginnings of Modern Europe (1250-1450). Boston: Ginn and Company, 1917. Pages 258-259; Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years’ War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999. Page 184.
  11. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 41; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 15-16, 28, 114-115, 118-121.
  12. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 40-42; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Pages 424-425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 108-109, 123.
  13. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 42-43; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 121-125; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 12.
  14. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 125; Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Page 8.
  15. Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Page 8.
  16. Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Page 8.
  17. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 38, 43-44; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 115-116; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 14; Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893. Pages 76-77.
  18. Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 116.
  19. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Pages 112, 117; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 13; Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893. Page 77.
  20. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Page 8.
  21. Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 13.
  22. Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425.
  23. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 425; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 125; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 14.
  24. William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 125.
  25. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44.
  26. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44.
  27. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Page 8; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 125; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 14.
  28. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 44-45; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Pages 425-426.
  29. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 426.
  30. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 44.
  31. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 45; Tobias George Smollett, A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758. Page 426; Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Pages 8-9; William Longman, The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869. Page 125; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Page 14.
  32. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 45.
  33. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Pages 45-50.
  34. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 45.
  35. Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893. Page 77.
  36. Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839. Page 45; Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893. Page 77; Michael Prestwich, Knight: The Medieval Warrior’s (Unofficial) Manual. London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2010. Page 179.
  37. Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893. Page 77.
  38. Joseph Allen, Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Pages 9-10; Herbert R. Clinton, From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881. Pages 16-17.

Bibliography

  • Allen, Joseph. Battles of the British Navy, Volume 1, Revised Edition. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853.
  • Bonnechose, François Paul Émile Boisnormand de. The History of France to the Revolution of 1848. London: Ward, Lock, and Co., 1882.
  • Chambers’s Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Useful Knowledge for the People, Volume VII. London: W. & R. Chambers, 1886.
  • Clinton, Herbert R. From Crécy to Assye: Being Five Centuries of the Military History of England. London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1881.
  • Creighton, Louise. A First History of France. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1893.
  • Emerton, Ephraim. The Beginnings of Modern Europe (1250-1450). Boston: Ginn and Company, 1917.
  • Froissart, Jean. Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, Volume 1. Translated from French to English by Thomas Johnes, Esq. London: William Smith, 1839.
  • Jenckes, Adaline Louise. The Origin, the Organization and the Location of the Staple of England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1908.
  • Lee, Sidney, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 36: Malthus-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1893.
  • Longman, William. The History of the Life and Times of Edward the Third, Volume 1. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869.
  • Prestwich, Michael. Knight: The Medieval Warrior’s (Unofficial) Manual. London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2010.
  • Smollett, Tobias George. A Complete History of England from the Descent of Julius Caesar to the Treaty of Aix la Chapelle, Volume 2, 3rd Edition. London: James Rivington and James Fletcher, 1758.
  • Sumption, Jonathan. The Hundred Years’ War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.
  • Weber, Nicholas Aloysius. A General History of the Christian Era, Volume I: 1-1517. Washington, DC: Catholic Education Press, 1919.


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