chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

We may well wonder if Edward III had ever really made them. The documents covering the Anglo-French negotiations have come down to us in fairly good condition, but they do not reveal a single trace of the letter summarized by the Bishop of Bisaccia. It may well be that, in his desire to dazzle the Venetians, he imagined it in its entirety. But even supposing that it really had been sent, there is no need to take the trial by lions or by miracle any more seriously than the invitation to a duel. This was a classic challenge which monarchs who observed the rules of good form were accustomed to exchange in those days before entering into a state of war; yet never within human memory had any man seen a king enter the lists. It was simply a diplomatic formality; or rather, in the present case, the airy talk of a somewhat garrulous diplomat.