And some days later M. de Guise sent a trumpet to Thionville to the enemy, that they could send for their wounded in safety: which they did with carts and waggons, but not enough. M. de Guise gave them carts and carters, to help to take them to Thionville. Our carters, when they returned, told us the roads were all paved with dead bodies, and they never got half the men there, for they died in their carts: and the Spaniards seeing them at the point of death, before they had breathed their last, threw them out of the carts and buried them in the mud and mire, saying they had no orders to bring back dead men. Moreover, our carters said they had found on the roads many carts stuck in the mud, full of baggage, for which the enemy dared not send back, lest we who were within Metz should run out upon them.
I would return to the reason why so many of them died; which was mostly starvation, the plague, and cold. For the snow was more than two feet deep upon the ground, and they were lodged in pits below the ground, covered only with a little thatch. Nevertheless, each soldier had his camp-bed, and a coverlet all strewed with stars, glittering and shining brighter than fine gold, and every day they had white sheets, and lodged at the sign of the Moon, and enjoyed themselves if only they had been able, and paid their host so well over night that in the morning they went off quits, shaking their ears; and they had no need of a comb to get the down and feathers out of their beards and hair, and they always found a white table-cloth, and would have enjoyed good meals but for want of food. Also the greater part of them had neither boots, half-boots, slippers, hose, nor shoes: and most of them would rather have none than any, because they were always in the mire up to mid-leg. And because they went bare-foot, we called them the Emperor’s Apostles.
After the camp was wholly dispersed, I distributed my patients into the hands of the surgeons of the town, to finish dressing them: then I took leave of M. de Guise, and returned to the King, who received me with great favour, and asked me how I had been able to make my way into Metz. I told him fully all that I had done. He gave me two hundred crowns, and an hundred which I had when I set out: and said he would never leave me poor. Then I thanked him very humbly for the good and the honour he was pleased to do me.
THE JOURNEY TO HESDIN. 1553
The Emperor Charles laid siege to the town of Therouenne; and M. le Due de Savoie was General of his whole army. It was taken by assault: and there was a great number of our men killed and taken prisoners.
The King, wishing to prevent the enemy from besieging the town and castle of Hesdin also, sent thither mm. le Duc de Bouillon, le Duc Horace, le Marquis de Villars, and a number of captains, and about eighteen hundred soldiers: and during the siege of Therouenne, these Seigneurs fortified the castle of Hesdin, so that it seemed to be impregnable. The King sent me to the Seigneurs, to help them with my art, if they should come to have need of it.