Yesterday, we travelled the stretch from Harfleur to Fécamp and Valmont. Today we picked up the route from the town of Eu in Picardie. The coutryside here is one of gentle rolling hills mostly sown with wheat. Currently the farmers are busy baleing the straw for bedding. Something that Henry’s men would no doubt have taken full advantage of.
Eu is the home of the Artois family, Counts of Eu who, as we will see, turned out to be fellow travellers along this route, although for very different reasons.
The town of Eu is dominated by the rather grand 12C church of St Lawrence right at the top of the hill.
As the town surrendered in late 1415 and provided food to Henry as he passed, the church is in an excellent state of preservation and proudly shows the heritage of the town and in particular of the Counts of Artois.
One inhabitant here is of particular note: Jean of Artois.
Born in 1321, he is the son of Robert of Artois and the great-grand son of Saint Louis, King of France through his mother Jeanne de Valois. However, in 1356 he crossed paths with the Black Prince (the one who strenuously denied sacking Honfleur after the battle of Poitier). During that battle, in 1356, Jean d’Artois was captured together with the King of France and 200 other nobles by the English and was emprissoned in the tower of London. Very kingly, the regent of France gave away Jean’s Counship while he was away, although the people of Eu never lost hope and wrote their prayers for his safe returm on the columns in the church. A sort of 14C yellow ribbon.
Nonetheless, on returning to France two years later, he managed to get his countship back and no doubt thought that he could now enjoy a well earned retirement. Oh the fates are not so kind. Louis, the son of the French King, also captured at Poitier, broke his parole and was thrown into the Tower of London. To keep him company, Louis suggested that Jean d’Artois join him in the tower. Dutiful servant that he was, Jean of course agreed and sailed back to Engand where he spent six more years in the Tower waiting to be ransomed.
As a side note, a small consoilation to Jean in all of this time was St Lawrence. The former Bishop of Dublin who in 1150 was visiting Eu, fell ill and died. The locals seeing a good opportunity immediately had him canonised and turned his tomb into a popular (and profitable) pilgrim destination. This is how the irishman Lawrence O’Toole became the patron saint of Eu and now lies alongside Jean.