Today priests and paupers, and women and children, in all some two thousand in number, were led by armed men to the gates of Harfleur. Each was given five sous for food, of the king’s largesse, and told that they were free to go wherever they so wished and that they might take their clothes and whatever they could carry in their arms. It was pitiful to see and hear the sorrow of these poor people thus driven away from their dwellings and property. They left amid much lamentation and grief and tears for the loss of their customary habitation.
A great many wished to go to Lillebourne and, to see that they traveled safely, were accompanied thither by soldiers of our king. At said town they were given over to the marshal Boucicaut and placed under the said lord’s protection. I pray that the noble Boucicaut is inspired by God’s mercy to truly see them safe. Whether he will or not is between him and God. For the others I have far greater fear, for they go upon other paths and they may be robbed or raped or otherwise distressed with none to aid nor to defend them. Hardship, penury, and the unknown lie all before them. May God have mercy upon them.
All of the town records were burnt in the square, for this day is a new one for Harfleur as it is reborn as one of the king’s strongholds. Houses must be repaired and the defenses rebuilt. It is no small task.
Sir Geoffrey says that our king needs to give Harfleur a strong garrison and that those men who have sworn fealty are likely to be of dubious loyalty when put to the test. The boys and young men who are being taken into service as pages will also be of little worth as fighting men. William, the esquire, says that King Henry can solve this problem by making the town headquarters for the army and wintering over.
God save us from being so long from home.
Old Sir Robert says that the king will most likely move from here, as there is word that the French have ordered siege engines brought to Rouen where their army lies. Should the king stay in Harfleur, he says, the French will soon lay a new siege upon it and such a siege will not go well for us. Neither would marching upon the French at Rouen with our army weakened by the late siege and disease.
It is clear that none of the gentlemen know the king’s mind in this matter.