The Two Armies Meet
"As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, great noise and tumult arose.
You might hear the sound of many trumpets, of bugles, and of horns; and then you might see men ranging themselves in line, lifting their shields, raising their lances, bending their bows, handling their arrows, ready for assault and defence.
The English stood steady to their post, the Normans still moved on; and when they drew near, the English were to be seen stirring to and fro; were going and coming; troops ranging themselves in order; some with their color rising, others turning pale; some making ready their arms, others raising their shields; the brave man rousing himself to fight, the coward trembling at the approach of danger.
Then Taillefer, who sang right well, rode, mounted on a swift horse, before the Duke, singing of Charlemagne and of Roland, of Oliver, and the peers who died in Roncesvalles. And when they drew nigh to the English,
'A boon, sire!' cried Taillefer; 'I have long served you, and you owe me for all such service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay it. I ask as my guerdon (reward), and beseech you for it earnestly, that you will allow me to strike the first blow in the battle!' And the Duke answered, 'I grant it.'
Then Taillefer put his horse to a gallop, charging before all the rest, and struck an Englishman dead, driving his lance below the breast into his body, and stretching him upon the ground. Then he drew his sword, and struck another, crying out, 'Come on, come on! What do ye, sirs? lay on, lay on!' At the second blow he struck the English pushed forward, and surrounded, and slew him. Forthwith arose the noise and cry of war, and on either side the people put themselves in motion.
The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English defended themselves well. Some were striking, others urging onward; all were bold and cast aside fear. And now, behold, that battle was gathered whereof the fame is yet mighty."