Jean Froissart, Chronicles of England, France, etc.
"A challenge sent by the Saracens to offer comabat
of ten against ten Christians."
The besiegers and their enemies studied day and night how
they could most effectually annoy each other. Agadinquor Oliferne,
Madifer de Tunis, Belins Maldages, and Brahadin de Bugia, and
some other Saracens, consulted together, and said: "Here are our
enemies the Christians encamped before us, and we cannot defeat
them. They are so few in number when compared to us, that they
must be well advised by their able captains; for, in all our
skirmishes, we have never been able to make one knight prisoner. If
we could capture one or two of their leaders, we should acquire
fame, and learn from them the state of their army and what are their
intentions. Let us now consider how we may accomplish this."
Agadinquor replied, "Though I am the youngest, I wish to speak
"We agree to it," said the others.
"By my faith," continued he, "I am very desirous of
engaging them; and I think, if I were matched in equal
combat with one of my size, I should conquer him. If you
will therefore select ten valiant men, I will challenge the
Christians to send the same number to fight with us. We have
justice on our side in this war, for they have quarrelled with us
without reason; and this right and the courage I feel, induce me to
believe that we ahall have the victory."
Madifer de Tunis, who was a very valiant man, said,
"Agadinquor, what you have proposed is much to your honour.
To-morrow. if you please, you shall ride as our chief towards
the camp of the Christians, taking an interpreter with you,
and make a signal that you have something to say. If you
be well received by them, propose your combat of ten against ten.
We shal1 then hear what answer they give; and, though I believe
the offer will be accepted, we must take good counsel how we
proceed agsinst these Christians, whom we consider as more valiant
This being determined on, they retired to rest. On the
morrow, as usual, they advanced to skirmish; but Agadinquor rode
on at some distance in front with his interpreter. The day was bright
and clear, and a little after sunrise the Saracens were ready for
battle. Sir Guy and sir William de la Tremouille had commanded the
guard of the night, and were on the point of retiring when the
Saracens appeared in sight about three bow-shots distant.
Agadinquor and his interpreter advanced towards one of the wings,
and made signs to give notice that be wanted to parley with some
one by accident, he came near the pennon of a good squire at arms
called Affrenal, who, noticing his signs, rode forward a pace. and
told his men to romain as they were, "for that he would go and see
what the Saracen wanted: he has an interpreter with him, and is
probably come to make some proposition." His men remained
steady, and hs rode towards the Saracen.
When they were near each other, the interpreter said,
"Christian, are you a gentleman, of name in arms, and ready to
answer what shall be asked of you?"
"Yes," replied Affrenal, "I am; speak what you please,
it shall be answered."
"Well," said the interpreper, "here is a noble man of
our country who demands to combat with you bodily; and, if
you would like to increase the number to ten, he will bring
as many of his friends to meet you. The cause for the challenge
is this: They maintain, that their faith is more perfect than
yours; for it has continued since the beginning of the world,
when it was written down; and that your faith has been
introduced by a mortal, whom the Jews hung and crucified."
"Ho," interrupted Affrenal, "be silent on these matters,
for it does not become such as thee to dispute concerning them,
but tel1 the Saracen, who has ordered thee to speak, to swear
on his faith that such a combat shal1 take place, and he shall
be gratified within four hours. Let him bring ten gentlemen,
and of name in arms, on his side, and I will bring as many to
The interpreter related to the Saracen the words that
had passed, who seemed much rejoiced thereat, and pledged
himself for the combat.
This being done, each returned to his friends; but the news
had already been carried to sir Guy and to sir William de la
Tremouilles who, meeting Affrenal, demanded how he had settled
matters with the Saracen. Affrenal related what you have heard, and
that he had accepted the challenge. The two knights were well
pleased, and said, "Affrenal, go and speak to others, for we will
be of your number ten."
He replied, "God assist us! I fancy I shall find
plenty ready to fight the Saracens." Shortly after, Affrenal met
the lord de Thim, to whom he told what had passed, and asked if he
would make one. The lord de Thim willingly accepted the offer; and
of all those to whom Affrenal related it; he might, if he pleased,
have had a hundred instead of ten. Sir Boucicaut, the younger,
accepted it with great courage, as did sir Helion de Lignac, sir John
Russel, an Englishman, sir John Harpedone, Alain Boudet and
Bouchet. When the number of ten was completed, they retired to
their lodgings, to prepare and arm themselves.
When the news of this combat was spread through the army,
and the names of the ten were told, the knights and squires said,
"They are lucky fellows, thus to have such a gallant feat of arms
fall to their lot." "Would to Heaven," added many, "that we were
of the ten." All the knights and squires seemed to rejoice at
this event, except the lord de Coucy.
I believe the lord de Thim was a dependent on, or of the
company of, the lord de Coucy for, when he repaired to his tent to
arm, he found him there, and acknowledged him for his lord. He
related to him the challenge of the Saracen, and that he had
accepted being one of the ten. All present were loud in praise of it,
except the lord de Coucy, who said, "Hold your tongues, you
youngsters, who as yet know nothing of the world, and who never
consider consequences, but always applaud folly in preference to
good. I see no advantage in this combat, for many reasons: one
is, that ten noble and distinguisbed gentlemen are about to fight
with ten Saracens. How do we know if their opponents are gentlemen?
They may, if they choose, bring to the combat ten varlets, or
knaves, and, if they are defeated, what is the gain? We shall
not the sooner win the town of Africa, but by it risk very
valuable lives. Perhaps they may form an ambuscade, and,
while our friends are on the plain waiting for their opponents,
surround them qnd carry them off, by which we shall be greatly
"I therefore say, that Affrenal has not wisely managed
this matter; and, when he first met the Saracen, he should
have otherwise answered, and said, `I am not the commander-in-chief
of our army, but one of the least in it; and you Saracen,
who address yourself to me and blame our faith, are not
qualified to discuss such matters, nor have you well addressed
yourself. I will conduct you to my lords, and assure you, on
my life, that no harm befal you in going or in returning, for
my lords will cheerfully listen to you.'
"He should then have led him to the duke of Bourbon
and the council of war, when his proposal would bave been heard
and discussed at leisure, his intentions been known, and answers
made according as they should think the matter deserved. Such
a combat should never be undertaken but after great deliberation,
especially with enemies like to those we are engaged with.
[Cooler heads prevail and they get on with the real
battle, which the Christians lose.]
Trans. by Thomas Johnes,