Chapter 1: Castillon
A Thorn In The Rose
Chapter 1: Castillon
Chapter 1: Castillon
“We must move forward.” John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury said.
Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond and brother to the King looked at Shrewsbury and said. “You can’t be serious.”
“I am.” Shrewsbury replied. “The longer we wait here, the longer the French have to consolidate their gains. We must move forward.”
“Despite the fact that they outnumber us and are likely to already be heavily fortified.” Edmund said. “Christ, Talbot, they will have twice as many guns as us if we go now.”
“So, what do you propose we do then, Richmond?” Shrewsbury demanded. Not for the first time Edmund found himself wondering why the King had given command to Shrewsbury and not to him. He may not be descended from Henry V but he was the King’s brother, and thus should by rights have been entitled to command.
“I say we wait for a little while. Your son is coming to join us with an extra two thousand men, I say we wait until he arrives and then we march forward.” Edmund said. “Furthermore, if we wait for your son, we will actually get the guns we need to neutralise the French guns.” Edmund had studied the campaigns of his cousin Somerset, and had noticed how the French had used guns to neutralise English archers, and he was beginning to think that perhaps they were over reliant on archers, they currently had roughly 200 in the force present here.
Shrewsbury laughed. “We wait, the French are going to fortify, we move out today and we can ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
Edmund looked at Shrewsbury and then looked around the tent, Kendal seemed like he agreed with Shrewsbury, but then Kendal had always been a weak man, Edmund’s brother Jasper looked nonplussed, and the others? Well, they didn’t seem worth considering. “Is that what your experience is telling you to do?” Edmund asked, wondering if taking the attack to Shrewsbury’s years was the right move.
“Yes.” Shrewsbury said.
Edmund sighed. “Fine, then I suppose I should get prepared.”
“Yes, you are commanding the vanguard after all.” Shrewsbury said.
Edmund nodded, stood up, and walked out of the tent, he was halfway to his own when Jasper caught up with him. “You’re not happy about this, are you?” His brother asked.
Edmund looked at his brother and laughed. “Of course, I’m not. This is going to be a bloody massacre.”
“So, why haven’t you said anything? You hardly protested back there!” Jasper said.
“What can I say?” Edmund asked. “The old goat has made up his mind, and to keep pushing for something he doesn’t want will only sow dissension. Things are already fucked as it is, we can’t let them get worse.”
“I don’t know why the King didn’t name you as commander.” Jasper grumbled.
Edmund put a hand on his brother’s shoulder and said. “Neither do I, but we cannot complain about that now, we’re going to have to get on with things.” His brother nodded and then walked passed Edmund to his own tent. Edmund took a deep breath, entered his own tent and barked out a few commands. His servants hurried to help him put his armour on and as they did so, he remembered the conversation that had seen him placed here.
“I’m sending you to Gascony.” The King said.
“Gascony?” Edmund asked. “But why, Sire?”
“Because until a son is born to me, you are effectively my heir.” The King said.
“But, Sire, I have no Royal Blood, how can I be your heir?” Edmund asked.
“You are to marry Margaret Beaufort, the eldest descendant of John of Gaunt’s third marriage, she is your claim to the throne.” The King replied.
“And Somerset and York are happy with this?” Edmund asked.
The King had laughed. “They do not matter; my council is already in agreement with me. You will go to Gascony, earn some note and then return and the marriage shall go ahead.”
Edmund didn’t think that the King had thought that through but he would not argue. He had learned early on that arguing with the King over something he considered a serious matter was pointless. He looked down as the servants finished buckling him into his armour. He nodded his thanks then walked out of the tent, his horse was brought out to him, he mounted it, then leaned down and took his helmet from his squire and put it on his head before taking his weapon from another squire. He nodded to the servants and then urged his horse forward.
As he waited, more men including his brother Jasper came, mounted on their own horses, the infantry slowly arrived as well. Edmund waited a moment longer and then turned his horse around and urged it onward. He would not give a speech, he had always found such things to be foolish, instead he would lead his men by example. He knew that victory here could put him into good standing at home, and given the tensions between York and Somerset that might be a good thing.
As they moved further away from the camp, Edmund could see what looked like the French camp, there was movement as far as he could tell. He raised his weapon into the air to symbolise that they would attack them in a fast ranging movement to catch the bastards off guard. He urged his horse forward, and the beast moved from a trot to a gallop. The others followed him at a similar pace, and as they did so, Edmund felt his heart race as it always did before he engaged in battle.
It was only as they got closer to the French camp that he realised they had been misled. The French hadn’t been retreating, instead they were in a very tight encampment, with ditches and stakes planted in a few places. Edmund barked out an order for his men to stop, and with great speed the whole thing stopped, just short of what looked like the first ditch. There was a pause as Edmund tried to think of what to do. He couldn’t see anyone near the front of the camp, had they fallen into a trap?
As he worried over what to do, something was wheeled out to the front of the camp. Jasper was the first to notice what it was. “Is that a cannon?”
“I…. I do not know.” Edmund replied, he couldn’t quite see from where he was, and to dismount now would be the height of idiocy.
He watched stupefied as the thing made a great whirring noise, as it released something he realised that it was indeed a cannon ball. He yelled in shock and horror, but could do nothing as the thing landed a few feet away from him and knocked out a few of his men. Deciding that they had to take out that damned cannon before anymore came out he barked out an order. “Men dismount, we’re going to hit them on foot.” He quickly jumped down from his horse and then advanced.
Slowly, Edmund made his way across the landscape, the Frenchmen didn’t fire again from their cannon, but they did start preparing to attack. At least he thought that was what they were doing from the words he heard barked out. When he got to the entrance to their encampment, there were men waiting for him. He said a prayer and then swung his weapon. Initially, he and his men did well. They overwhelmed the first line of defence, and the second, but when the third came they were beginning to sweat.
The French had packed them into a tight a space, and they themselves were lightly armoured, and thus better able to move, whilst Edmund and his men, who had been expecting traditional battle were encumbered with heavy armour. Edmund took a few blows, but they didn’t damage him too much. He knocked a few men out and allowed the press of things to carry him forward. He was more tired than anything else, and as the heat grew, he found himself wondering just where in God’s Good Earth, Shrewsbury was.
“Edmund!” A voice called out, Edmund turned to his right and saw Jasper fighting three men at once. Edmund tried to get to his brother’s side but couldn’t, his way was blocked. He swung and took out one man, but the others crowded around him. He swung and one got knocked back, he swung again and another got knocked, but more came to fill their spots. They swung their weapons and overwhelmed him.
“Edmund!” His brother cried, but Edmund couldn’t see him and could not reach him.
He was getting knocked from side to side now. His armour was weighing him down, making it difficult for him to move and for him to breathe. At some point, he heard a loud thud and couldn’t feel the weight of his weapon anymore. He tried to stay balanced, but eventually he was forced down. Edmund tried to get back up, but couldn’t. He found himself thinking of Jasper, he just hoped his brother was safe.
He felt someone rip off his helmet, he heard them laugh, and then he felt something solid push into him. He screamed, and then he grunted as more blows came. This was his end then, not as a glorious hero like Henry V or Edward the Black Prince, but as a man on his back in some shithole in France, bleeding and gasping for air, desperately wanting his mother.