VII

THE BATTLE OF SANDWICH AND THE TREATY OF KINGSTON

The Fair at Lincoln did not end the war. Some deny that it changed anything, claiming that the Dauphin’s diplomatic difficulties guaranteed the eventual ruin of his cause. Strategic decisions, however, follow tactical outcomes on the ground: loss of personnel, the exchange of territory, the destruction of material resources. At the very least, Lincoln confirmed Louis’s weakness. More realistically, it represented a decisive shift. Before Lincoln, the royalists had never risked confronting Louis in the open; afterwards he dared not face them again.

The only land battle in a war of raids and sieges, Lincoln was a triumph following the disappointments of the winter and spring. It vindicated the Marshal’s strategy and consolidated his authority. William had appealed to the Almighty, and God had declared in his favour. Roger of Wendover shared the History’s providential view of the Franco-rebel defeat: ‘unless they were corrected … men would say, “There is no God”.’ Popular songs confirm the battle’s electric effect upon public opinion. Rebel defections shot up from almost zero in May to 150 in June and July, including the Earls of Warenne and Arundel. As long as Louis controlled London, however, he remained a menace.

A new stalemate set in for a brief period, but the equilibrium was deceptive, soon upset by another startling victory, fought beyond all precedent on the open sea. The battle of Sandwich on St Bartholomew’s Day, Thursday 24 August, was decisive in every sense. William was less directly involved than at Lincoln, but he was no less responsible for the outcome, steering to victory in the face of opposition from enemies and friends. The Treaty of Kingston in September embodied his achievement of the war’s central aim, the expulsion of the French and the establishment of Henry III’s authority across the realm.

AFTER THE FAIR

The morning after a battle is no time for renewed efforts, as the most energetic commanders have discovered. Physical exhaustion, emotional reaction, the disruption of tactical units – all conspire to hinder immediate exploitation. The ruthless pursuit following Napoleon’s victory at Jena was a unique event in the emperor’s career. Inertia was more usual. Medieval armies with their informal command structures were especially prone to such checks.

William himself wasted no time. Despite his exertions, he was back in Lincoln on Sunday 21 May, to discuss the next move. Some wanted to march on London, others to bypass the capital and raise the siege of Dover. The Earl of Chester rode to Mountsorrel to fulfil his personal victory conditions by razing the castle to the ground. In the absence of agreement, the Marshal, ‘who knew more about war, and had seen more of it’ (History), suggested a pause to secure the profits of victory. Everyone should lodge their prisoners in safety, and present themselves refreshed at Chertsey, at an agreed date. With access to either bank of the Thames via the Roman bridge at Staines, Chertsey made a good jumping-off point for further operations. Occupying a central position on London’s western approaches, just south of the river, it covered Angevin positions in the Thames Valley, isolated French garrisons in Hampshire, and menaced the capital. The pause to secure prisoners was no chivalric nicety, but good business practice. A knight’s first duty, as William knew from Drincourt, was to make a profit.

The Dauphin had returned to Dover on Friday 12 May, setting up his trébuchet on the high ground north-west of the castle. Progress was slow, however. His siege engines caused little damage, and reinforcements from Calais were driven back by bad weather, or intercepted by English vessels sailing from Romney, ‘four score nefs [ships] large and small including twenty great ships all embattled and rigged for fighting’. The Monday following, the English captured eight French ships, and massacred their crews. The knights were clapped in the bilges, ‘where they suffered pains enough’ (Anonymous). The English then anchored off Dover to prevent food or other help from reaching the Dauphin.

Thursday 25th brought news of Lincoln. Once more, Anonymous of Béthune allows us to look over the hill, fleshing out imaginary English accounts of Louis’s reaction. Advised to withdraw to London and summon help, he dismantled his trébuchet, but awaited confirmation before moving further away from home. Six score French ships fought their way past the English next Monday, ‘but all were sergeants, merchants, or seamen: of knights there were only eighteen’. Vexed at this meagre assistance, Louis despatched letters home requesting help, and retreated to London, having burnt the rest of his ships:

For he greatly feared and suspected
Lest the Royals surprised it,
Or took it by force
Or that they should come and attack him.

Louis reached London on 1 June, lodging in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s vacant Palace at Lambeth, ‘not venturing forth in any direction, nor launching any risky attacks’ (Barnwell). All but one of the city gates were blocked for added security.

The History savoured the imagined despair of Philip Augustus on learning of John’s death and the Marshal’s taking charge: ‘nothing is to be gained in England, for the land will be well defended by the wisdom of that prud’homme’. Louis would soon be chased out, since the Marshal had taken the matter in hand. Philip Augustus had his own problems. Recently reconciled to the Pope after a protracted dispute over his matrimonial entanglements, he was unwilling to court renewed papal displeasure by openly supporting his son.

The prime mover in French rescue attempts was the Dauphin’s wife. Blanche of Castile, mother of Saint Louis, was the most impressive of Henry II’s grandchildren. Like the Marshal’s countess in Leinster, Blanche took the lead in her husband’s absence, attracting a barbed tribute from Matthew Paris who compared her to the Babylonian Queen Semiramis: ‘a woman in sex but a man in counsel’. The History describes Blanche scouring the cities of France for men and money, which she did so effectively that had all the troops raised come to London, they would have conquered the entire kingdom. Her efforts were confined largely to Louis’s County of Artois, however. Despite covert subsidies from her father-in-law, money was short. Merchants and seamen were unpaid from the expedition of May 1216. Some were still awaiting their money in the 1230s, four years after Louis’s death. Nobles who had accompanied Louis complained of their poor reward. The disappointing reinforcements of 29 May were a clear reflection of this lack of means.

The royalists approached Chertsey on 6 June, billeting their troops in the country roundabout, ‘for they well thought that Louis and his people, who little trusted the people of London, would not dare leave the city alone’ (Anonymous). The royalists, however:

… rising up everywhere, grew stronger beyond all measure. Having occupied, captured and fortified its approaches on all sides, they approached London with a strong force, as if to besiege Louis in the city. And while those with Louis were preparing to defend themselves, some having interceded that there might be peace between the parties, set off by turns and met in hope of peace. Louis, however, put it off, on account of the assistance he was expecting from overseas, and the royalists so they might more freely ravage the possessions of those who were on the other side.

(Barnwell)

The motivation behind the deadlock was not entirely cynical. The Archbishop of Tyre led a delegation of abbots to Chertsey on 12 June, negotiating terms not dissimilar to those agreed three months later. Louis, however, would not abandon his clerical allies to the legate’s vengeance. Exploratory talks with the Londoners also collapsed, the citizens fearing to be pillaged like Lincoln. Egged on by inflammatory sermons, they renewed homage to Louis, and remained obdurate. Vexed at the legate’s intransigence, the royalist host dispersed, William returning to Oxford with the king. To maintain political pressure, he instructed sheriffs to have the Charter read out in public, and look to its implementation. Louis moved into the Tower for safety. Post-Lincoln defections proved a mixed blessing in the west, the Welsh reacting violently to Reginald of Braose’s changing sides. Llewelyn ravaged Brecon and Gower, and besieged William’s Flemish tenants in Haverfordwest, extracting hostages and the promise of 1,000 marks come Michaelmas. William visited Goodrich and Chepstow, but had little time to do more.

Meanwhile, Blanche gathered her forces: 100 knights said the Anonymous; 300 said Roger of Wendover, enough to replace the losses at Lincoln. The Marshal was greatly distressed, pondering deeply how he might save the kingdom. The king was young and lacked money; most of the magnates sided with Louis, and now the choice barons of France were coming all equipped to take the land. Later generations of strategists might have hoped to intercept the enemy at sea. In 1217, however, a naval solution was an unprecedented and risky option.

THE WAR AT SEA

The Anglo-Danish kings of England had maintained powerful fleets, which their post-Conquest successors allowed to decay. When threatened by Viking raiders, they massed troops on the beach, or fortified estuaries. During the Anarchy, invaders came and went as they pleased. Navies require a buoyant economy and strong central government, the antithesis of Anglo-Norman feudalism. As Scandinavia lapsed into chaos, however, no obvious threat demanded an English navy. Normandy and its Flemish allies controlled both sides of the Channel, while poor communications hindered the interception of invasion fleets. It was better to catch invaders on dry land, like Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in 1066, or the Flemings at Fornham. Bad weather was a more certain deterrent to overseas adventures than warships. Memories of the contrary winds that frustrated the Young King in 1174 may have comforted William in 1217.

What Anglo-Norman kings needed was a cross-Channel ferry service. This was assured by the king’s snecca, an updated Viking longship, or by hired merchantmen. The preferred route, before the loss of Normandy, was between Barfleur and either Southampton or Portsmouth – originally Portchester, the Roman fortress at the head of Portsmouth harbour. Henry II had sailed from Barfleur to Southampton in 1174 at the height of the Young King’s Revolt. Portsmouth, as modern ferry operators know, is nearer France than Southampton, a powerful tide carrying ships in and out of the land-locked harbour twice daily. Richard I and William sailed thence to Barfleur in 1194. When John left Normandy for the last time, he did so from Barfleur, reaching Portsmouth two days later.

The grant navie assembled by Richard I for the Third Crusade was a new departure in English naval affairs. The greatest royal expedition since the Norman Conquest, it comprised 170 sailing ships and thirty-six oared galleys. More significant for the long-term recovery of English naval power was the charter that Richard granted Portsmouth, a fishing village by the harbour entrance. Like Richard, John kept his galleys and other naval stores there, probably near the future Gunwharf, convenient for Richard’s royal palace at the top of the High Street. John ordered a strong wall for his exclusa at Portsmouth in 1212, usually interpreted as a sluice gate, implying a wet dock or basin. The following year it was to Portsmouth that John directed shipping mobilised against the French invasion threat. Besides impressing civilian ships, John built a fleet of galleys. He had fifty-two in 1205, distributed around the southern coast from East Anglia to Ireland. Among the squadron commanders was William of Wrotham, ‘keeper of the sea ports’, a prototype Lord of the Admiralty.

We may gauge William’s opinion of naval operations from his comparison of the problems of regency with being embarked on the open sea, unable to find shore or bottom. His active career ended before John recreated English naval power. William’s maritime experience as a passenger suggests some of the risks involved. Hurrying to meet his new bride in 1189, he suffered a painful leg injury when the ship’s deck collapsed, leaving him clinging onto a cross timber. Maintenance was low priority. Roger of Howden explained one shipwreck by the drying out of the ship’s timbers, which let in the sea. We know of William’s first visit to Ireland in 1201 from his foundation of a monastery in gratitude for not being drowned on the way. Four years later, Portsmouth provided a backdrop for political shipwreck, when William refused to accompany John to Poitou. Documentary evidence shows them in residence at Portchester, but the History specifies the location of their confrontation as Portesmue, beside the harbour and the open sea, perhaps during an official visit to the nascent royal dockyard.

John’s naval build-up suffered two major constraints. No medieval government had the administrative and financial resources to maintain a permanent navy, and the necessary infrastructure. John’s ships and facilities disappeared under his impoverished successor. Secondly, most shipping came from private sources. There were three main ship types.

The most significant was the great ship or nef, from the Latin navis. Sometimes known as cogs, they were Europe’s standard ocean-going vessel, capable of transporting horses and even a royal elephant. Possessing a deep hull and high freeboard, such vessels were stable enough to mount castellated fighting platforms fore and aft. F.W. Brooks, in his study of Angevin naval forces, reckoned that English examples ran to 47 feet (14m) long and 15 feet (4.5m) abeam, with a master, twenty men, and a boy or two to send aloft. They stood high out of the water with several decks and a three-storey after castle, a great advantage in a sea fight, allowing their crew to shoot or leap down onto the decks of lower craft. Flat-bottomed and driven by a large square sail on a single mast stepped well forward, nefs steered with difficulty and went rapidly to leeward, i.e. downwind. Masts were massive structures, 100 feet (30m) high, stout enough to carry the heavy sail and its supporting yard, as well as a round fighting top for several men armed with rocks and other projectiles. The 1217 Channel fighting suggests such that vessels could tack, but had little capacity for beating into the wind. Foul winds were ridden out at anchor, of which a dozen might be carried. The History makes particular reference to anchors, ‘for lying off harbour’, in the prelude to Sandwich.

King John had some great ships, but most royal ships were galleys, also described as sneccas or snakes. They were distinct from the Mediterranean galley, up to 130 feet (40m) long, built for speed with one row of 16–30 oars a side, each pulled by a single oarsman. Galleys were low in the water, incapable of attacking a nef, as the History’s description of Richard’s fleet shows:

Many great ships there were embattled with castles
And richly equipped,
Manned by such fine crews
They feared no galleys
Nor hostile people who might come against them …

Tactical inferiority was confirmed by the lack of an iron beak. Classically influenced chroniclers thought galleys should have one, but there is no financial or physical evidence for such items. The best a galley could do in a melée was to smash the rail along an opponent’s side that supported his oars. When Richard’s galleys encountered a large Muslim ship off Acre, they allegedly employed a diver to bore holes below her waterline, a tactic more appropriate to a folksong than a naval battle.

Galleys usually operated under sail, their faster lines making them invaluable for reconnaissance, explaining their dispersal around the coast as an early-warning screen. John despatched Geoffrey de Lacy with six galleys to hunt pirates off the Irish coast in 1210. Independence of the wind when under oars suited them to amphibious and coastal operations. John sent twenty to ravage the Gwynedd coast in 1213. The task force that recovered the Channel Islands from the French in 1205 included five, accompanied by three great ships. The Marshals operated their own galleys, presumably from the Wye at Chepstow. William’s son Richard used his to rescue a fugitive Hubert de Burgh in 1233. The Marshals’ successor, Gilbert of Clare, dominated the Bristol Channel in the 1260s with three naves piracticas, ‘which in the vernacular are called galyas’ (Thomas Wykes).

The least significant craft in size though not numbers were known as bastiaux or boats. Great ships towed or carried several, as suggested by the presence of two with a great ship and four galleys at Portsmouth in 1228. Of uncertain fighting power, they acted as auxiliaries, carrying English boarding parties across the shallows at Dam in 1213. Some may have been significant fighting units: the loss of a lonc batiel or longboat off Rye in February 1217 shook the English fleet enough to let the French lift the blockade. Anonymous of Béthune included several such craft in the English order of battle at Sandwich.

Arms and weapons at sea were generally the same as ashore. The absence of horses levelled the playing field between knights and sergeants, the latter’s less elaborate armour enabling them to move more easily around decks. Men owning a twelfth of a ship at Bayonne were expected to have iron mail, other seamen a gambeson and iron cap. The absence of horsemen favoured missile weapons, ‘bows, arbalests and quarrels, sharp pointed and swift’, says the History apropos of Richard’s fleet. The thirteenth-centuryRomance of Eustace the Monk describes the English at Sandwich using ‘great bows and arbalests’, while Roger of Wendover refers to the death-dealing missiles of the archers and crossbowmen, echoing his earlier recognition of the common soldier’s role at Lincoln. Matthew Paris’s illustration of Sandwich shows a longbow, drawn to the ear, and a staff sling. Maritime contracts confirm the importance of missile weapons, particularly crossbows whose operators could shelter behind bulwarks to reload. Some ships carried the more powerful two-footed variety of crossbow, whose extra range would have been useful at sea. Numbers specified vary from a couple to twenty per ship, with thousands of quarrels.

Naval specialities included rochets or hooks to cut the enemy rigging, and triboli – triple pointed iron booby traps – to scatter on his decks. Financial records for 1213 show soap being issued to render enemy decks slippery, but no payments for the quick lime reported at Sandwich. Siege engines sometimes appear during naval actions in confined waters during siege operations, as at Rye, never on the open sea where target and platform were in constant motion. The trébuchet featured at Sandwich was cargo. None of the weapons available to thirteenth-century seamen could sink an enemy ship. Battles were resolved by hand-to-hand combat following a preparatory barrage to sow confusion across the enemy decks. As in Nelson’s day, ships were valuable prizes, to be captured not sunk.

John’s naval renaissance was made necessary by the French eruption along the Channel’s far coast. The loss of Normandy and the French acquisition of Flanders shifted the maritime focus to the Dover–Calais narrows, the shortest route between England and the continent, and the traditional route for foreign invasions, from Julius Caesar to William the Conqueror. When the Marshal emerged from internal exile in 1213, he found King John awaiting the French at Barham Down, near Dover. The maritime struggle, of which Sandwich formed the last act, was more amphibious than naval. Troop movements by sea were common, but encounters between hostile squadrons a rarity. Ships struggled to beat to windward or ride out a storm. John’s precocious attempt to intercept the Dauphin’s fleet in April 1216 fell victim to the weather. It was easier to destroy enemy ships in harbour, as the Earl of Salisbury did in the first major action of the war. Dam was an old-style coastal battle, a surprise attack on a fleet drawn up along the beach. It was the sort of blow Harold’s ships might have delivered against William the Conqueror, had the latter not won a swift victory ashore.

The History’s enthusiastic reaction to the plunder at Dam is a reminder of thirteenth-century frugality. Standard naval stores – corn, bacon, and wine – drew the comment that ‘never before came such booty from France to England, since King Arthur went to conquer it’. Not content with his partial destruction of the French invasion fleet, Salisbury lay off Walcheren until Philip Augustus completed the job by burning the rest and walking home. Philip’s official biographer commented, ‘The ways of the sea were not well known to our Frenchmen’, which seems hard on seamen from the Biscay coast. The English return voyage was no pleasure cruise, fierce gales scattering Salisbury’s ships as far as Northumberland and Scotland.

Raids and transportation escalated into deliberate attempts to assert command of the Channel. John’s bad luck in April 1216 was compounded by the subsequent loss of dockyards, the collapse of royal finances, and defections of key personnel, as William of Wrotham joined the rebels. Louis, or rather Eustace the Monk, controlled the seaways for nine months, allowing French reinforcements to come and go at will. Not until February 1217 did the Cinque Ports return to the Angevin camp, perhaps resenting the Monk’s depredations, allowing royalist shipping to contest command of the narrow seas.

Maritime forces were central to William’s Sussex campaign. While the Marshal was away at Lincoln, Philip of Aubigny continued to dispute the straits, hampering Louis’s renewed siege of Dover, not just by blockading the port, but twice offering battle in mid-Channel, on 15 and 29 May. The latter occasion saw a two-phase chase action, resembling the tactics used three months later at Sandwich. Menaced by superior numbers of French ships, the English retreated until the French gave up, whereupon the English went about and fell upon the enemy rear, taking eight stragglers before they reached Dover. Not only was sea power a crucial element in the four-year cross-Channel confrontation, naval warfare had evolved a new tactical form which at Sandwich would prove decisive.

SANDWICH

The Marshal was not unaware of Blanche’s preparations. Sometimes English ships sailed close enough to Calais to shoot at the French sailors as they made ready. Once the French came out, compelling the lightly manned English ships to scuttle home. English monastic sources put the French fleet between sixty and 100 ships. The Anonymous splits the difference with eight score nefs great and small, including ten large ones, four manned by knights and six by sergeants, ‘and in the other small ones were the harness [i.e. armour] and merchandise’. The History’s claim that there were 300 French ships is exaggerated. We may imagine the fleet as ten capital units convoying seventy smaller supply ships.

Orders of battle are easily confounded with total casualties. The Melrose Chronicle may reproduce the expedition’s military complement in its statement of French ‘losses’: 125 knights, thirty-three crossbows, 146 mounted sergeants, and 833 foot sergeants. The total force bears comparison with the Franco-rebel army at Lincoln. Mounted numbers (271) resemble those given by the Anonymous and Roger of Wendover (100 and 300 respectively), assuming that Roger conflated knights and mounted sergeants. Either thirty-two or thirty-six knights were captured in the flagship, leaving thirty in each of the other three knightly manned vessels. Knights sailed together to escape the insolence of ship masters. Wendover boasted that the French were unused to fighting at sea, but this is jingoistic bravado. French national sea power was of recent growth, but the sailors were heirs to centuries of cross-Channel bickering, and recently encouraged by the English setback off Calais.

Military command was in the hands of Robert of Courtenay. Castellan of Reigate Castle, Robert was a close associate of Louis, becoming royal butler on the Dauphin’s accession and accompanying him on the Albigensian Crusade. Also in the flagship was the younger William des Barres, a veteran of Muret, often confused with his father of the same name. Navigation was entrusted to Eustace the Monk, who ‘had taken much trouble over this business; many times had crossed the sea, as one who knew all about it’ (Anonymous). English sources were less enthusiastic, describing him as a frightful pirate and turncoat to both sides (Dunstable). Matthew Paris called him viro flagitiosissimo, an utter villain:

Who never missed any chance
To do all the harm in his power …
No worse trickster could be.

(History)

The Barnwell chronicler summed up Eustace’s career as ‘inclining sometimes to one side or the other, as fortune willed, [he] had for many days previously caused much trouble on the sea and coast, as much this side of the sea as the other, and also seized certain islands by force’. English records and the Romance expand the monastic epitome, sometimes straying into fairy tale.

Eustace was born about 1170, the son of a Boulonnais knight, inheriting the family name le Moine. He did pursue a monastic career at first, the Romance alleging that Eustace had gambled away abbey funds in the alehouse. A Laon chronicler described his progress ‘from black monk to blacker demoniac’. Medieval humour enjoyed ascribing clerical connections to doubtful characters. One of the knights who praised William’s prowess at the St Brice tournament in 1166 was nicknamed Bon-Abbé de Rougé; he once spent a period as an outlaw, much as Eustace would do. Eustace’s education also included a spell at Toledo, a focus of Arab scholarship and notorious hotbed of necromancy. Here he is said to have acquired the magical skills behind his naval expertise, studying the zodiac and learning to foretell the future. It is easy to see how puzzled landsmen might interpret an ability to forecast the Channel’s ever shifting tidal flows as a black art.

Unjustly driven into outlawry, Eustace became the anti-hero of a series of Robin Hood-style adventures, blinding and mutilating his enemies, reversing his horse shoes to baffle pursuers, and being offered a groat (4d) for sexual favours while disguised as a woman. Clerical transvestism is a typical feature of medieval humour, previously occurring in William Longchamps’s misadventures. Having made the Boulonnais too hot for himself, Eustace took service with King John, becoming another of his alien mercenaries. Eustace recovered the Channel Islands for the Crown, ‘leaving nothing to burn either in castle or manor’ (Romance), being rewarded with estates in Norfolk. Adept at helping himself at others’ expense, he made Sark a pirate nest, and built up connections with Winchelsea, which returned to haunt him. John’s rapprochement with the Count of Boulogne before Bouvines drove Eustace into the arms of Philip Augustus, now in need of naval experts. The Romance describes his escape disguised as a minstrel, but the Dunstable chronicler said that Eustace left in style, taking five galleys with him. He also suffered from John’s hostage-taking, his daughter being held at Wilton Abbey, where she may have died.

Perhaps for this reason, Eustace took a leading role in the naval war against England, gaining such an ascendancy over the popular imagination that his imaginary exploits eclipsed those of the strait-laced Dauphin. Eustace features significantly on at least six occasions: guiding the French fleet to Dam, ferrying military aid to English rebels, retaking the Channel Islands for the French, twice transporting Louis across the Channel, and helping rescue him from Rye.

The French could hardly disguise their preparations to rescue the Dauphin. The Angevins had a tradition of intelligence-gathering. John’s spies, ‘of whom he had the best’ (Wendover), had warned him of previous French expeditions, and helped him evade pursuit in East Anglia in 1216. William, said the Anonymous, was well aware of Blanche’s preparations at Calais. On his advice, the king deputed Philip of Aubigny and John Marshal to guard the maritime approaches with seamen of the Cinque Ports and other forces. William moved closer to the scene in mid-August. Leaving Reading on the 14th, he marched via Farnham, back in English hands, and Lewes, reaching Romney on the 19th. Command was shared, as at Lincoln, leading to similar disputes over responsibility for the success. The debate has been fuelled by naval historians’ failure to utilise the extensive range of contemporary material. Few medieval sea battles are so well documented, including three independent accounts based on eyewitness testimony. Their duplication suggests an underlying accuracy. The battle was clearly perceived as a major event, a providential deliverance from foreign invasion, comparable from our point of view with the Spanish Armada, Trafalgar, and the Battle of Britain.

The usual port of call is Roger of Wendover, supplemented by Matthew Paris, who for once provides genuine additional information, based on Hubert de Burgh’s reminiscences. Available before the History was rediscovered, Paris has dominated naval historiography of the battle ever since he formed the basis of the account of the battle in the Victorian Dictionary of National Biography. Paris, with his customary anti-Marshal bias, suppressed the part played by William and others of greater contemporary significance than Hubert de Burgh, whom Matthew hailed as victor miraculosus. The new edition of the Dictionary of National Biography casts doubt on de Burgh’s central role as retailed by Wendover and Paris, but the latter’s partial account appears in theNavy Records Society collection of British Naval Documents, and continues to form the basis of recent discussions of the action.

The History’s author, as at Lincoln, struggled to reconcile his several informants’ accounts, providing a bumpy but invaluable narrative. Replete with new information, it corrects Paris and enriches our understanding of the battle. Anonymous of Béthune, changing sides as often as Eustace, contrived a ringside seat in the entourage of the Earl of Warenne, who had abandoned Louis in June. As well informed as ever, Anonymous confirms much of the History’s account while avoiding its excessive focus on the fate of Eustace. Monastic notices of the battle share that weakness, as does the Romance, of which Sandwich provides the dramatic conclusion.

The true hero of Sandwich, apart from Eustace, was the Marshal. Without him there would have been nobody to fight the battle. Hastening to the coast, William summoned mariners from the Cinque Ports and elsewhere, winning them over with gifts and promises of political and financial advantage. Trusting his word, they went straight to Sandwich to refit their ships with new rigging, good anchors, and strong cables, to fight the French and bring down their pride. Two factors complicated the Marshal’s task. The mariners still resented the wrongs King John had done them, and they were shaken from their recent mishandling off Calais. The History recounts this setback as if it occurred on the morning of the 24th, immediately before the battle, throwing the narrative into confusion. It makes more sense as a misplaced reference to the earlier defeat mentioned above. Leaderless and fearing the enemy’s superior numbers, the English shipmen had shamelessly taken to their boats and fled, leaving their ships under full sail. William restored the mariners’ spirits, saying they would have knights and sergeants, ‘valiant, daring, and bold’, and promising to restore their franchices – the privileges John had slighted. William offered persuasive material inducements besides. The king would replace any ships lost in action, while prizes would be the property of their captors. In return the seamen pledged that there would be no slacking on their side, whether they were taken or killed.

William did not take command at sea. His men insisted he remain ashore, for who would defend the country if he were taken or killed? Matthew Paris claims that Hubert de Burgh took the lead. William and the Bishop of Winchester, two of Matthew’s least favourite people, had both declined, making the improbable reply, ‘We are not sea soldiers, nor pirates, nor fishermen, go yourself and die’. The secular narratives show that Hubert was just one among several captains. Philip of Aubigny had held the king’s commission in the Channel, while Hubert was confined to Dover Castle, and carried news of the victory to Henry after Sandwich, an operational commander’s customary responsibility. He disappears from subsequent accounts, overshadowed by the justiciar. Richard of Chilham, King John’s bastard son by the Earl of Warenne’s sister, also commanded a ship full of knights and sergeants, flying his uncle’s banner, who, like the Marshal, remained ashore. Sea warfare was a young man’s sport. Philip and Richard played the leading role in the day’s decisive moment, the capture of the French flagship. Several authorities make Richard responsible for the death of Eustace. Hubert reappears with his prizes, when the fighting was over. Justiciar of England and William’s successor as secular head of the minority government, Hubert’s naval exploits have attracted natural but unjustified attention.

Estimates of English numbers show rare consensus. The History says that William assembled twenty-two nefs, great and small, chosen for strength, richly furnished with both arms and good men. Besides the three ships whose captains appear above, the Marshal’s sergeants manned a cog, whose height proved decisive. Everyone else made what shift they could. Whether this indicates inadequate material resources or defective poetic memory is unclear. Other estimates range from ‘sixteen well armed ships with twenty accompanying naviculi – lesser ships‘ (Paris), via ‘xviii large nefs and several boats’ (Anonymous), to ‘twenty ships and four galleys and two great ships’ (Worcester). Roger of Wendover spoke of a few English ships, ‘which between galleys and ships did not exceed forty’. Total numbers favoured the French, while the English had more major units. The idea of an inferior English fleet resurfaced in the nineteenth century, as part of the Royal Navy’s evolving foundation myth. Seamanship and fighting spirit were supposed to have compensated for numbers, just as they would in the Armada’s defeat 371 years later. Vice-Admiral Rodgers of the US Navy suggests that in combat power the English fleet at Sandwich outclassed the French, with odds in capital ships of three-to-two or even two-to-one.

William spent the eve of battle at Canterbury, safer for the king than the coast, enjoying good roads to Dover and Sandwich. There was little sleep. Everyone was ready at day break (about 5.00 am) to ride the 12 miles (19km) down to Sandwich. The Marshal travelled with Philip of Aubigny, Richard fitz John, and the Earl of Warenne, besides the younger Marshal, and too many valiant bachelors to name. The rank and file were already on board, William’s sergeants taking over their cog the evening before. Maintaining a brisk War Office trot of 7m/h (11.5km/h), the top brass would arrive before 8.00 am, supporting the Worcester annalist’s statement that the struggle lasted from early morning nearly to vespers.

Some modern historians talk of the battle of Dover, perhaps misled by Matthew Paris’ partiality for Hubert de Burgh, the constable there. William Laird Clowes in his pioneering history of the Royal Navy places the action off the South Foreland, between Dover and Deal. The History’s repeated references to Sanwiz, however, are supported by copious literary and circumstantial evidence. Sandwich was the victor’s headquarters, the conventional source of a battle’s name, hence Waterloo rather than La Belle Alliance. The Anonymous and History both describe the royalists embarking there, as do the Worcester Annals. Gervase of Canterbury, an eminently local source, says that ‘many French nobles with a great army were defeated and captured by our people at sea near Sandwich –juxta Sandwicum’. That careful historian, the Barnwell chronicler, states that ‘the royalists gave battle to Eustace the Monk, coming with all his fleet, not far from the Isle of Thanet’, i.e. beyond Sandwich when heading northwards from Dover. It was to Sandwich that the victors returned after the battle, using their prize money to endow a hospital there that is still extant.

Medieval Sandwich lay at the southern end of the Wantsum Channel which once separated the Isle of Thanet from mainland Kent. The emergence of Stonar bank diverted traffic from the Roman entrepôt at Richborough down to Sandwich, which lay on a triangular peninsula between the River Stour and the embankments that mark the southern boundaries of the medieval borough. Domesday Book recorded 383 households, implying a population of nearly 2,000, a third of Lincoln’s. The Stour provided access to the open sea from Sandwich Haven, a landlocked harbour west and northwest of the town, providing ample space for the Marshal’s modest fleet. Sandwich Haven could shelter 600 coastal craft in Tudor times, with the necessary quays. Since then, material eroded from the cliffs north of Sandwich has choked the river. Today the Stour estuary winds between industrial estates, wheat fields, and golf courses, drying out at low tide. Reed’s Channel Almanac recommends seeking local advice before entering. The Haven, like the rest of the Wantsum Channel, has vanished under agricultural land, ending Sandwich’s maritime glory.

Dover may seem more significant than Sandwich now, but it was not so in 1217. The Romans preferred Sandwich, as did Hengist and Horsa. One of Alfred the Great’s brothers fought Vikings off Bloody Point in 851, now the Prince’s Golf Links. Kings and invaders frequented Sandwich Bay throughout the later Anglo-Saxon period, from Aethelred to Harold, from Olaf Tryggvason to Earl Godwin. Becket and Richard I both landed there, as did Louis. Sandwich was not a maritime cross-roads by accident. It was the natural consequence of the area’s physical attributes, supplemented by the prevailing south-westerly winds and the alternating pattern of tidal flows up and down the Channel. These follow the opposing coasts, flowing south-west through the Straits of Dover on a rising tide, and north-east, back into the North Sea, following high water at Dover. Like a modern yacht, a medieval ship would leave Calais on a rising tide to be carried out from the French coast. Making four or five knots with a southerly wind on her port beam, she might cross the Channel within a single six-hour tide, counting from the ebb to high water. Once off the Kentish coast, she could catch the flow as it set north-eastwards, running downwind past Dover, towards Julius Caesar’s ‘soft landing’ near Sandwich. Modern tide tables suggest that a canny skipper might gain up to 2.6 knots (4.8km/h) by thus working the tide.

Eustace usually sailed overnight, like Caesar and William the Conqueror, to approach England around dawn. Trumpets had signalled the Dauphin’s departure for England in 1216 at 9.00 pm. The Anonymous says that in August 1217 Eustace sailed for the Thames on St Bartholomew’s morning, implying some time after midnight. He reached Sandwich about the same time as the Marshal. The day was fine and clear, allowing visibility far out to sea, the French fleet heaving into sight on a gentle wind, ‘so closely arrayed in ranks, there was nothing like it except a field of battle’. The tide was setting up-Channel to carry them clear of the North Foreland, the History describing how the English ‘steered straight out, though very close – estroit – to the wind, borne on the rising tide’. Wendover says that the French made a quick crossing with ‘a fresh stern wind which drove them vigorously on towards England’. No contemporary gives the quarter, but the wind was presumably a southerly, as a south-westerly would have been foul at the start of the French voyage. As the fleets headed up-Channel, the ever-narrowing coasts would exert a funnel effect, strengthening the wind as they went, amplifying the effect of the tide.

The imminent confrontation was a unique event for its day, a ship-to-ship action under sail on the high seas. It may have benefited from the shelter of the Goodwin Sands, 4 miles (6km) east of the Kent coast, but as the English probably passed north of the Goodwins there is no particular reason to assume the action took place within the Downs anchorage, especially as Wendover specifically says the English traversed a considerable extent of sea before they met the French. Contemporaries queue up to emphasise the unusual mid-sea location. The Romance places the action en haute mer. William the Breton says the French were ‘in the middle of the sea’. The Melrose Chronicle uses the expression in medio mari twice.

The Marshal spoke briefly as his men hurried on board. The enemy had returned to dispute the land, against God’s will as expressed at Lincoln. God, however, had the power to help the righteous on both land and sea: ‘You have the better hand in the game; you will vanquish the enemies of God.’ The French, nevertheless, were unmoved by their earlier defeat, which had mainly affected their English allies. When they saw the royalist ships leave harbour, they underestimated their numbers and shortened sail, thinking it would be easy to capture them: ‘It’s only foot, not a knight among them. Chance has delivered them to us. They will cover our expenses; we shall carry them off to London, or they will stay here fishing for flounders.’ William the Breton, the official Capetian chronicler, confirmed the French mood, without which the History’s words might be dismissed as a rhetorical device designed to emphasise the imminent change in French fortunes.

Matthew Paris has Hubert de Burgh join the Marshal at Sandwich after swearing his knights to defend Dover Castle, even if he was captured and threatened with hanging. So far, Matthew’s account seems plausible. His further claim that Hubert brought thirty-six ships is plainly wrong, representing the whole English fleet. It is more likely that Hubert rode along to Sandwich, where he boarded ‘a rich nef, with a splendid complement, an abundance of arms and magnificent fittings’ (History). Sadly, the Haven’s reclamation makes it impossible to guess where. As justiciar, the senior royal official from the previous reign, Hubert naturally took the lead. The History, however, makes great play with his feigning to close, passing outside the enemy line under full sail, letting both sides see that he was only pretending to fight. The French ribalds, full of bravado, shouted, ‘The noose! The noose’, but they themselves were soon to be choked with salt water.

Roger of Wendover attributes English slowness to engage to their earlier defeat. Paris shows it was less hesitation than skill. Victorian naval historians saw his account as evidence of some innate English gift for naval tactics. For the first time, a fleet sought the weather gauge to attack an enemy to leeward, an innovation that like Paris they attributed to de Burgh. English ships, however, had performed a similar manoeuvre on 25 May, under Philip of Aubigny’s command, suggesting that the tactic evolved organically, independently of any single individual.

The manoeuvre as executed at Sandwich consisted of two parts. First the English sailed eastwards across the French stern, the wind on their starboard beam: ‘thus they boldly reached across, inclining their helm at an angle – obliquando – that is luffing, as if they wanted to fetch Calais’ (Paris). A luff was a spar used to help a sail catch the wind, but it is also a verb. In this case ‘to luff’ means to put the helm to leeward in order to sail nearer the wind, which the English needed to do to pass astern of the French. Eustace was glad to see them go. His orders were to relieve the Dauphin, not dispute command of the Channel: ‘I know these wretches mean to fall upon Calais like brigands,’ he is supposed to have said, ‘but in vain, for it is well defended’ (ibid.). William the Breton confirms the sense if not content of Matthew’s imaginary speech. Robert of Courtenay, the expedition’s military commander, however, overrode Eustace’s professional caution and gave the order to engage. No doubt Robert, a landsman, expected the other French capital ships to support him, not realising that the wind and tide would soon carry them out of reach. The English now implemented the second part of their manoeuvre: ‘suddenly, when they realised the wind had failed, having put over their helm, with the wind now behind them, the English fell promptly upon the enemy …’ (ibid.).

The French flagship was a great nef from Bayonne on the Biscay coast. Deeply laden with King Philip’s treasure, destriers, and a new trébuchet, she was in poor fighting trim, the waves nearly washing across her decks. Eustace had originally been ahead. As thenef fell out of line, she dropped astern, coming under attack from a succession of English ships. ‘More than twenty ships passed before him’, says the Romance, ‘and vigorously assailed him with many great bows and crossbows, for such they had placed in theirsneccas’. Roger of Wendover attributes the barrage to Philip of Aubigny, his archers and crossbowmen causing great slaughter among the enemy. According to the Romance Eustace shot back, defending himself as well as any baron.

The first ship to close was the Earl of Warenne’s, sailing second in the English line, as befitted Richard fitz John’s semi-royal status. The Anonymous and History agree that Richard was first to engage, Hubert de Burgh vanishing from the narrative. Richard made little progress, however, until the Marshal’s sergeants joined him in their cog. Standing high out of the water, its crew used their height to hurl down great pots of quick lime, ‘which deprived them [the French] of their sight, so they could see nothing’ (History). Finely ground calcium oxide flew about in blinding clouds, combining violently with the water in eyes and skin to form slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), burning and blinding its victims, like a medieval version of mustard gas. Modern commentators doubt this stratagem because it appears in contemporary military textbooks, and is supposed to have been plagiarised. All three secular accounts of the battle mention it, however. Roger of Wendover and the Romance add the telling detail that the dust was carried downwind, away from the English, an essential pre-requisite for successful chemical attacks: ‘From which they [the French] could no longer defend themselves; for their eyes were full of hot dust’ (Romance).

A gallant sergeant from Guernsey took advantage of the confusion to leap down onto the French flagship’s deck, knocking over William des Barres and Robert of Courtenay, and sending another knight flying. More sergeants followed, ‘as eager as any hunting dog’ (History). Eustace laid about him with an oar, breaking arms, heads, and collarbones, but enemy ships assailed him on all sides, overwhelming the French knights with numbers. Eustace hid in the bilges, to be found by a Winchelsea man, named Stephen Crabbe or Crave, ‘who had long been with him’ (Anonymous). Eustace offered 10,000 marks for his life, but he had met his master in cruelty. Stephen dwelt at length upon the undeserved and unspecified wrongs Eustace had done him. The only choice Stephen offered his old associate was to have his head cut off on the trébuchet or on the side of the ship. Eustace showed little appetite for either, so was executed on the spot, to general satisfaction: ‘the predator become the prey,’ wrote Paris.

The tactical obsession with Eustace was matched by popular mythology. Walter of Guisborough, who died in 1313, recounted the lucky defeat of a Spanish tyrant called Monachus who menaced the English coast with a great fleet in 1217. John of Canterbury’sPolihistorie, of similar date, claimed that Eustace made his flagship invisible, until Stephen Crabbe, whom Eustace had initiated into the black arts, jumped aboard and killed him while he apparently stood on thin air. A great storm then blew up and sank the French fleet, as St Bartholomew hovered overhead to reassure the English. Like other mythical saviours of their country, such as Arnold von Winkelried at Sempach in 1386, the legendary Stephen perished in the moment of victory. The historical Crabbe survived to receive 20 shillings for new robes in 1225, with other royal shipmasters. Eustace’s head last appears stuck on a spear, carried round coastal districts to prove the bogeyman was dead.

The Monk’s death was decisive. Leaderless and swept along by wind and tide, the other French capital ships ran for home:

As soon as the great ship was taken
By valour and great hardihood,
So boldly our people bore themselves
The French would not stand or await them,
But fled away as quickly as they could.

(History)

Barnwell agrees: ‘some of the leaders of their party having been captured, the rest sought safety in flight, and many of the smaller fry having been killed, alternately disordered and scattered, they put up no further resistance.’ No more great ships were taken, but for the transports the day was a disaster. The Waverley annalist reckons that just fifteen escaped, while the Worcester annalist said that fifty-five were captured, accounting between them for all seventy. The high loss rate is our only evidence for better English seamanship, as superior ship handling would be decisive in a race for safety between broadly similar vessels.

Human casualties were in proportion. The History’s author took no responsibility for an outsize estimate of 4,000 French dead, but different rules applied at sea. As Chaucer said of his Shipman, whose ancestors may have been present:

When as he foughte and had the upper hande,
By sea he sent them home to every lande.

The French joke about fishing for flounders, a bottom feeder, rebounded horribly upon their auxiliaries. While monastic sources describe panic-stricken French sailors jumping overboard, the History confessed:

When they caught up with a ship,
… they made no bones
About killing those they found on board:
But threw them as food to the fishes.

One or two were saved per ship, ‘no more; all the rest were killed’. In the flagship only the knights escaped death. A grisly pen sketch describes a fortune hunter fishing a red cloak from the sea, only to find it soaked with blood. Just thirty-two prisoners were taken, says the poet. If the defeated fleet lost fifty-five ships with twenty men on each, some 1,100 Frenchmen may have perished, plus 100 in the flagship.

Roger of Wendover’s claim that English galleys dashed about perforating French ships with imaginary iron beaks is impossible. Admiral Rodgers, a student of galley warfare, points out that ramming from astern is ineffectual. Besides, northern hulls were too solid, as Julius Caesar discovered when he fought the Veneti. A more plausible aspect of the Wendover/Paris narrative is the English use of grappling hooks and axes to cut through hostile ships’ halyards and bring their sails down, catching the crew like birds in a net. Some historians cast doubt on all this, but continental regulations required ships to be equipped with rochets or hooked blades to cut rigging, and the Romance mentions the use of great axes against the Bayonne nef.

Hubert de Burgh was among those winning prizes: ‘not in truth the first to engage, but he took two ships, which he kept when he returned’ (History). The Marshal clan was clearly irked by Hubert’s arrogation of the leading role in the battle. So much money was captured that the sailors dished out deniers in bowlfuls. Others swaggered about in silks and furs, squabbling over who had the finest. William, as commander-in-chief, divided the spoils: robes, horses, arms, and armour. Much of the plunder was surprisingly ordinary: meat, wine, corn, iron, and steel dishes, a boost to an over-stretched wartime economy.

The remanant of the plunder, the proportion saved for the Crown, William devoted to a chapel dedicated to St Bartholomew and sixteen almshouses. No record evidence links the establishment directly with the battle, but there seems little reason to reject the literary sources. The earliest documentary reference dates from 1225, and a custumal of 1301 supports the independent evidence of the History and John of Canterbury. The Marshal himself ascribed the victory to the saint’s intervention, and his other monastic foundations evince a punctilious attitude towards religious obligations. The institution retains its original site just outside the medieval borough’s southern boundary beside the Dover Road. Sandwich children still race round the chapel for currant buns, every Patronal Day (24 August), while elderly couples from Sandwich occupy the almshouses, distant beneficiaries of the medieval advantages of war. Ralph of Coggeshall’s judgement on the battle was suitably biblical:

And thus the Lord smote the head of his enemies coming to annihilate the English race, and many were captured in other ships, and the Lord drew the waters of the sea over certain of them as they fled, and they were sunk like lead in the stormy waters.

KINGSTON

Even sceptical commentators accept that Sandwich was decisive. Victorian naval historians saw it as England’s first great sea victory, a precursor of subsequent triumphs. It left the Dauphin unable to replace the losses at Lincoln, definitively ending his cross-Channel adventure:

From this day the king’s party plainly began to prevail, and that of Prince Louis to fall behind. Hence, the king’s forces having once more beset London, Louis did not delay making peace, whatever destiny offered.

(Barnwell)

… destitute of present help, and despairing for the future, and reduced by want to utter famine, [Louis] sought peace with the legate and the king’s men, for himself and all his lay supporters …

(Dunstable)

The Northerners, who had started the whole business, were also hard pressed, with reports from Northumberland and Yorkshire of the defeat and capture of many nobles hostile to the king. The Earls of Chester and Derby took Bolsover and Peak Castles, ‘and thus the hand of God was arranging universal good fortune for the king and his supporters’ (Dunstable).

News of Sandwich reached Louis on Saturday 26th. He acted swiftly, sending his cousin Robert of Dreux, whose father had served with William at Lagny thirty-seven years before, to open negotiations at Rochester. While Robert was held surety, the luckless Robert of Courtenay was released from Dover Castle, and packed off to London to explain his defeat. Both sides’ leading men, Louis, William, and Hubert de Burgh, met near London on Tuesday 29th, and agreed in principle to make peace. Not every royalist accepted the need for talks, haughtily demanding that London should be besieged without further parleys. They had kept a lower profile in the hour of greatest need, said the History, staying well away from the seaside. Wiser heads, anxious to end the troubles quickly, begged William to get the French out of the country at any price, offering to assist the public purse from their own resources. Roger of Wendover confirms the war-weary mood, royalist chiefs desiring ‘beyond measure’ to be rid of Louis.

Agreement proved difficult, requiring more than one meeting. William tightened his grip on London, ordering the Cinque Ports to blockade the Thames with their own ships and those taken at Sandwich. He was right to avoid more direct action. London would not fall easily, and the sack of the kingdom’s chief commercial centre was not to be entertained. French knights, alarmed by William’s slow response, planned a last death-defying sortie, preferring to place themselves en aventure than be shut up any longer. As they were arming themselves on the night of Saturday 9 September, letters came from William greeting Louis amorously – comme son demoiselle – and requesting an extension of the truce. Final terms were agreed on the Monday, to be confirmed next day, Tuesday 12th. The meeting took place on an unidentified island in the Thames near Kingston, the Dauphin’s safety guaranteed by the Earls of Pembroke, Salisbury, Warenne, and Arundel. As when Edmund Ironside and Cnut made peace at Ola’s Island in the Severn in 1016, the armies remained on opposite banks to prevent accidents.

Conditions were similar to those agreed in June. Louis and his foreign adventurers were to leave England immediately, never to return, restoring any castles and lands they had seized, as should his Scots and Welsh allies. Prisoners were to be released without further ransom. Louis’s excommunicated supporters should be absolved and get back their confiscated estates: ‘For it was expressly stated … that none should be disinherited on account of the war, but everyone should be in the same state as they were at the beginning.’ They should also share the liberties granted by the reissued Charter, the evil customs, ‘which had as it were been the cause of this war’, being abolished (Barnwell). In token of the transfer of power, Louis returned the captured Chancery and Exchequer records.

Louis received a pay-off as in previous Angevin-Capetian treaties: an indemnity of 15,000 marks – grand plenté d’aveir said the History – a great deal of money. Nominally to cover expenses, it was more a golden handshake, to sweeten his departure. Louis was said off the record to have promised to persuade Philip Augustus to restore the lost Angevin lands in exchange. The main difference from June was the treatment of the Dauphin’s clerical adherents, who were abandoned to the Legate’s wrath, ‘so that elsewhere the clergy should hold themselves more aloof from lay conflicts’ (Dunstable). Individual clerics were ‘degraded’ or translated to less profitable ‘upland benefices’. Altars and chalices defiled by excommunicate priests’ celebration of Mass were destroyed.

Some thought the terms too easy. William stands accused of letting Louis slip off the hook to avoid an embarrassing showdown with the son of his own feudal lord, the King of France, endangering his wife’s Norman estates. In exchange for vague promises William provided the Dauphin with a golden bridge at the taxpayer’s expense. Henry III, never the sharpest political operator, upbraided the Marshal’s son Walter for his father’s generosity, an accusation echoed by Nicholas Vincent, the modern biographer of Peter des Roches. The bishop, whose abrogation of the Charter had precipitated the country into civil war, presumably wanted harsher terms. He refused to contribute to taxes levied to pay the indemnity, alleging lack of consultation. A stranger to moderation, Peter pursued his absolutist line into the 1230s, until dismissed for allegedly procuring Richard Marshal’s death.

Sidney Painter’s view that the treaty was generous and statesmanlike seems more appropriate to the circumstances of September 1217. The settlement was a triumph for the Marshal, over his supporters as well as the enemy. The indemnity was well worth paying if it ended the war. London remained loyal to the Dauphin, with a powerful garrison of French knights, who continued to launch chevauchées into the countryside, returning with much booty. Military outcomes are always doubtful, and William was no lover of fighting for its own sake. Like Henry II, who ‘oiled the palms’ of the Young King’s French supporters, William bought off his opponents, a subtlety beyond Henry III or Matthew Paris. A fairer criticism of the indemnity is that any more was paid after the first instalment, with no surety for the Dauphin’s fulfilling his promise. Many, however, found the sudden reversal of fortune simply astonishing:

And this was as a miracle that the eldest son of the king of the French, having got deep inside the kingdom with such a mass of troops, having occupied so much of the kingdom, so many of the magnates having joined his party, was so swiftly removed, not to say expelled from the kingdom, with all his people, without hope of recovery.

(Barnwell)

Once terms were agreed, matters moved swiftly. Louis and his French followers were absolved on Wednesday 13th, barefoot and shirtless in their woollen drawers, a humiliation that only the History records. Louis kept his tunic as a special concession. Before the month was out, regent and legate had escorted Louis to the coast, and seen him safely on his way. On 29 October, a year and a day after his coronation, Henry III re-entered his capital.

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