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It was at the latter end of July, in an early part of the fourteenth century, that the French army, commanded by the King himself in person, was encamped upon the banks of the small river Penee, at about a mile distant from the foot of a hill called Cassel, or Mount Cassel, in the Province of Flanders.
This armament, in which were assembled most of the great vassals of the crown of France, had been occasioned by the revolt of the Flemish from the allegiance which they owed to Louis, their Count. The Flemish, in all ages noted as a seditious people, had, for some grievance, real or pretended, refused longer to acknowledge his into France, that he likewise might there implore the King to furnish a force, sufficient to compel the rebels to obedience.
To write, or to omit writing a preface, is at an Author's option. Imitating the example of those who refrain from so doing, I shall compose none:-unless, indeed, that may be deemed a preface, which merely is designed as an apology for intrusion, and a prayer that indulgence may be shewn towards the many faults which I myself perceive in the work now offered to the Public, as well as to those which, though to me invisible, I nevertheless cannot but be aware exist in it, and will, I fear, be more apparent to the reader.
It was without much difficulty that the brothers prevailed upon their Sovereign to accord them that succour, which, by the feudal law, a vassal was entitled to demand from his superior lord. The enemies of France, amongst whom may be most particularly mentioned the English, taking advantage of the turbulent disposition which seems inherent in the Flemish, were constantly stirring them up against that monarchy, and used to disembark troops at Gravelines, or some of the neighbouring ports, whenever they desired to make incursions into France.
The King, therefore, by reducing them to obedience, would, he hoped, secure two great advantages. Firstly, that of binding the Count of Flanders to him by the tie of gratitude ; and, secondly, by imposing heavy fines on his vassals, that of disabling them from giving aid to the King of England : who though but a boy, between fifteen and sixteen years of age, had