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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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would appear to have enlisted; and Louis of Bavaria withdrew from his
alliance with Edward III., sending back the subsidies he had received
from him.

Which side were the Flemings themselves to take in a conflict of such
importance, and already so hot even before it had reached bursting point?
It was clearly in Flanders that each king was likely to find his most
efficient allies; and so it was there that they made the most strenuous
applications. Edward III. hastened to restore between England and the
Flemish communes the commercial relations which had been for a while
disturbed by the arrest of the traders in both countries. He sent into
Flanders, even to Ghent, ambassadors charged to enter into negotiations
with the burghers; and one of the most considerable amongst these
burghers, Solver of Courtrai, who had but lately supported Count Louis in
his quarrels with the people of Bruges, loudly declared that the alliance
of the King of England was the first requirement of Flanders, and gave
apartments in his own house to one of the English envoys. Edward
proposed the establishment in Flanders of a magazine for English wools;
and he gave assurance to such Flemish weavers as would settle in England
of all the securities they could desire. He even offered to give his
daughter Joan in marriage to the son of the Count of Flanders. Philip,
on his side, tried hard to reconcile the communes of Flanders to their
count, and so make them faithful to himself; he let them off two years'
payment of a rent due to him of forty thousand livres of Paris per annum;
he promised them the monopoly of exporting wools from France; he
authorized the Brugesmen to widen the moats of their city, and even to
repair its ramparts. The King of England's envoys met in most of the
Flemish cities with a favor which was real, but intermingled with prudent
reservations, and Count Louis of Flanders remained ever closely allied
with the King of France, "for he was right French and loyal," says
Froissart, "and with good reason, for he had the King of France almost
alone to thank for restoring him to his country by force."

Whilst, by both sides, preparations were thus being made on the Continent
for war, the question which was to make it burst forth was being decided
in England. In the soul of Edward temptation overcame indecision. As
early as the month of June, 1336, in a Parliament assembled at
Northampton, he had complained of the assistance given by the King of
France to the Scots, and he had expressed a hope that if the French and
the Scots were to join, they would at last offer him battle, which the
latter had always carefully avoided." In September of the same year he
employed similar language in a Parliament held at Nottingham, and he
obtained therefrom subsidies for the war going on not only in Scotland,
but also in Aquitaine, against the French king's lieutenants. In April
and May of the following year, 1337, he granted to Robert of Artois, his
tempter for three years past, court favors which proved his resolution to
have been already taken. On the 21st of August following he formally
declared war against the King of France, and addressed to all the
sheriffs, archbishops, and bishops of his kingdom a circular in which he
attributed the initiative to Philip; on the 26th of August he gave his
ally, the Emperor of Germany, notice of what he had just done, whilst,
for the first time, insultingly describing Philip as "setting himself up
for King of France." At last, on the 7th of October, 1337, he proclaimed
himself King of France, as his lawful inheritance, designating as
representatives and supporters of his right the Duke of Brabant, the
Marquis of Juliers, the Count of Haiiiault, and William de Bohun, Earl of
Northampton.

The enterprise had no foundation in right, and seemed to have few chances
of success. If the succession to the crown of France had not been
regulated beforehand by a special and positive law, Philip of Valois had
on his side the traditional right of nearly three centuries past and
actual possession without any disputes having arisen in France upon the
subject. His title had been expressly declared by the peers of the
kingdom, sanctioned by the Church, and recognized by Edward himself, who
had come to pay him homage. He had the general and free assent of his
people: to repeat the words of the chroniclers of the time, "There was no
mind in France to be subjects of the King of England." Philip VI. was
regarded in Europe as a greater and more powerful sovereign than Edward
III. He had the pope settled in the midst of his kingdom; and he often
traversed it with an array of valiant nobility whom he knew how to
support and serve on occasion as faithfully as he was served by them.
"He was highly prized and honored," says Froissart, "for the victory he
had won (at Cassel) over the Flemings, and also for the handsome service
he had done his cousin Count Louis. He did thereby abide in great
prosperity and honor, and he greatly increased the royal state; never had
there been king in France, it was said, who had kept state like King
Philip, and he provided tourneys and jousts and diversions in great
abundance." No national interest, no public ground, was provocative of
war between the two peoples; it was a war of personal ambition, like that
which in the eleventh century William the Conqueror had carried into
England. The memory of that great event was still, in the fourteenth
century, so fresh in France, that when the pretensions of Edward were
declared, and the struggle was begun, an assemblage of Normans, barons
and knights, or, according to others, the Estates of Normandy themselves,
came and proposed to Philip to undertake once more, and at their own
expense, the conquest of England, if he would put at their head his
eldest son, John, their own duke. The king received their deputation at
Vincennes, on the 23d of March, 1339, and accepted their offer. They
bound themselves to supply for the expedition four thousand men-at-arms
and twenty thousand foot, whom they promised to maintain for ten weeks,
and even a fortnight beyond, if, when the Duke of Normandy had crossed to
England, his council should consider the prolongation necessary. The
conditions in detail and the subsequent course of the enterprise thus
projected were minutely regulated and settled in a treaty published by
Dutillet in 1588, from a copy found at Caen when Edward III. became
master of that city in 1346. The events of the war, the long fits of
hesitation on the part of both kings, and the repeated alternations from
hostilities to truces and truces to hostilities, prevented anything from
coming of this proposal, the authenticity of which has been questioned by
M. Michelet amongst others, but the genuineness of which has been
demonstrated by M. Adolph Despont, member of the appeal-court of Caen, in
his learned Histoire du Cotentin.

Edward III., though he had proclaimed himself King of France, did not at
the outset of his claim adopt the policy of a man firmly resolved and
burning to succeed. From 1337 to 1340 he behaved as if he were at strife
with the Count of Flanders rather than with the King of France. He was
incessantly to and fro, either by embassy or in person, between England,
Flanders, Hainault, Brabant, and even Germany, for the purpose of
bringing the princes and people to actively co-operate with him against
his rival; and during this diplomatic movement such was the hostility
between the King of England and the Count of Flanders that Edward's
ambassadors thought it impossible for them to pass through Flanders in
safety, and went to Holland for a ship in which to return to England.
Nor were their fears groundless; for the Count of Flanders had caused to
be arrested, and was still detaining in prison at the castle of
Rupelmonde, the Fleming Sohier of Courtrai, who had received into his
house at Ghent one of the English envoys, and had shown himself favorable
to their cause. Edward keenly resented these outrages, demanded, but did
not obtain, the release of Sohier of Courtrai, and by way of revenge gave
orders in November, 1337, to two of his bravest captains, the Earl of
Derby and Walter de Manny, to go and attack the fort of Cadsand, situated
between the Island of Walcheren and the town of Ecluse (or Sluys), a post
of consequence to the Count of Flanders, who had confided the keeping of
it to his bastard brother Guy, with five thousand of his most faithful
subjects. It was a sanguinary affair. The besieged were surprised, but
defended themselves bravely; the landing cost the English dear; the Earl
of Derby was wounded and hurled to the ground, but his comrade, Walter de
Manny, raised him up with a shout to his men of "Lancaster, for the Earl
of Derby; "and at last the English prevailed. The Bastard of Flanders
was made prisoner; the town was pillaged and burned; and the English
returned to England, and "told their adventure," says Froissart, "to the
king, who was right joyous when he saw them and learned how they had
sped."

Thus began that war which was to be so cruel and so long. The Flemings
bore the first brunt of it. It was a lamentable position for them; their
industrial and commercial prosperity was being ruined; their security at
home was going from them; their communal liberties were compromised;
divisions set in amongst them; by interest and habitual intercourse they
were drawn towards England, but the count, their lord, did all he could
to turn them away from her, and many amongst them were loath to separate
themselves entirely from France. "Burghers of Ghent, as they chatted in
the thoroughfares and at the cross-roads, said one to another, that they
had heard much wisdom, to their mind, from a burgher who was called James
Van Artevelde, and who was a brewer of beer. They had heard him say
that, if he could obtain a hearing and credit, he would in a little while
restore Flanders to good estate, and they would recover all their gains
without standing ill with the King of France or the King of England.
These sayings began to get spread abroad, insomuch that a quarter or half
the city was informed thereof, especially the small folks of the
commonalty, whom the evil touched most nearly. They began to assemble in
the streets, and it came to pass that one day, after dinner, several went
from house to house calling for their comrades, and saying, 'Come and
hear the wise man's counsel.' On the 26th of December, 1337, they came
to the house of the said James Van Artevelde, and found him leaning
against his door.

[Illustration: Van Artevelde at his Door----264]

Far off as they were when they first perceived him, they made him a deep
obeisance, and 'Dear sir,' they said, 'we are come to you for counsel;
for we are told that by your great and good sense you will restore the
country of Flanders to good case. So tell us how.' Then James Van
Artevelde came forward, and said, 'Sirs comrades, I am a native and
burgher of this city, and here I have my means. Know that I would gladly
aid you with all my power, you and all the country; if there were here a
man who would be willing to take the lead, I would be willing to risk
body and means at his side; and if the rest of ye be willing to be
brethren, friends and comrades to me, to abide in all matters at my side,
notwithstanding that I am not worthy of it, I will undertake it
willingly.' Then said all with one voice, 'We promise you faithfully to
abide at your side in all matters and to therewith adventure body and
means, for we know well that in the whole countship of Flanders there is
not a man but you worthy so to do.'" Then Van Artevelde bound them to
assemble on the next day but one in the grounds of the monastery of
Biloke, which had received numerous benefits from the ancestors of Sohier
of Courtrai, whose son-in-law Van Artevelde was.

This bold burgher of Ghent, who was born about 1285, was sprung from a
family the name of which had been for a long while inscribed in their
city upon the register of industrial corporations. His father, John Van
Artevelde, a cloth-worker, had been several times over sheriff of Ghent,
and his mother, Mary Van Groete, was great aunt to the grandfather of the
illustrious publicist called in history Grotius. James Van Artevelde in
his youth accompanied Count Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the
Handsome, upon his adventurous expeditions in Italy, Sicily, and Greece,
and to the Island of Rhodes; and it had been close by the spots where the
soldiers of Marathon and Salamis had beaten the armies of Darius and
Xerxes that he had heard of the victory of the Flemish burghers and
workmen attacked in 1302, at Courtrai, by the splendid army of Philip the
Handsome. James Van Artevelde, on returning to his country, had been
busy with his manufactures, his fields, the education of his children,
and Flemish affairs up to the day when, at his invitation, the burghers
of Ghent thronged to the meeting on the 28th of December, 1337, in the
grounds of the monastery of Biloke. There he delivered an eloquent
speech, pointing out, unhesitatingly but temperately, the policy which he
considered good for the country. "Forget not," he said, "the might and
the glory of Flanders. Who, pray, shall forbid that we defend our
interests by using our rights? Can the King of France prevent us from
treating with the King of England? And may we not be certain that if we
were to treat with the King of England, the King of France would not be
the less urgent in seeking our alliance? Besides, have we not with us
all the communes of Brabant, of Hainault, of Holland, and of Zealand?"
The audience cheered these words; the commune of Ghent forthwith
assembled, and on the 3d of January, 1337 [according to the old style,
which made the year begin at the 25th of March], re-established the
offices of captains of parishes according to olden usage, when the city
was exposed to any pressing danger. It was carried that one of these
captains should have the chief government of the city; and James Van
Artevelde was at once invested with it. From that moment the conduct of
Van Artevelde was ruled by one predominant idea: to secure free and fair
commercial intercourse for Flanders with England, whilst observing a
general neutrality in the war between the Kings of England and France,
and to combine so far all the communes of Flanders in one and the same
policy. And he succeeded in this twofold purpose. "On the 29th of
April, 1338, the representatives of all the communes of Flanders (the
city of Bruges numbering amongst them a hundred and eight deputies)
repaired to the castle of Male, a residence of Count Louis, and then
James Van Artevelde set before the count what had been resolved upon
amongst them. The count submitted, and swore that he would thenceforth
maintain the liberties of Flanders in the state in which they had existed
since the treaty of Athies. In the month of May following a deputation,
consisting of James Van Artevelde and other burghers appointed by the
cities of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres scoured the whole of Flanders, from
Bailleul to Termonde, and from Ninove to Dunkerque, "to reconcile the
good folks of the communes to the Count of Flanders, as well for the
count's honor as for the peace of the country." Lastly, on the 10th of
June, 1338, a treaty was signed at Anvers between the deputies of the
Flemish communes and the English ambassadors, the latter declaring: "We
do all to wit that we have negotiated way and substance of friendship
with the good folks of the communes of Flanders, in form and manner
herein-after following:--

"First, they shall be able to go and buy the wools and other merchandise
which have been exported from England to Holland, Zealand, or any other
place whatsoever; and all traders of Flanders who shall repair to the
ports of England shall there be safe and free in their persons and their
goods, just as in any other place where their ventures might bring them
together.

"Item, we have agreed with the good folks and with all the common country
of Flanders that they must not mix nor inter-meddle in any way, by
assistance of men or arms, in the wars of our lord the king and the noble
Sir Philip of Valois (who holdeth himself for King of France)."

Three articles following regulated in detail the principles laid down in
the first two, and, by another charter, Edward III. ordained that "all
stuffs marked with the seal of the city of Ghent might travel freely in
England without being subject according to ellage and quality to the
control to which all foreign merchandise was subject." (_Histoire de
Flandre,_ by M, le Baron Kerwyn de Lettenhove, t. iii. pp. 199-203.)

Van Artevelde was right in telling the Flemings that, if they treated
with the King of England, the King of France would be only the more
anxious for their alliance. Philip of Valois, and even Count Louis of
Flanders, when they got to know of the negotiations entered into between
the Flemish communes and King Edward, redoubled their offers and promises
to them. But when the passions of men have taken full possession of
their souls, words of concession and attempts at accommodation are
nothing more than postponements or lies. Philip, when he heard about the
conclusion of a treaty between the Flemish communes and the King of
England, sent word to Count Louis "that this James Van Artevelde must
not, on any account, be allowed to rule, or even live, for, if it were so
for long, the count would lose his land." The count, very much disposed
to accept such advice, repaired to Ghent and sent for Van Artevelde to
come and see him at his hotel. He went, but with so large a following
that the count was not at the time at all in a position to resist him.
He tried to persuade the Flemish burgher that "if he would keep a hand on
the people so as to keep them to their love for the King of France, he
having more authority than any one else for such a purpose, much good
would result to him: mingling, besides, with this address, some words of
threatening import." Van Artevelde, who was not the least afraid of the
threat, and who at heart was fond of the English, told the count that he
would do as he had promised the communes. "Hereupon he left the count,
who consulted his confidants as to what he was to do in this business,
and they counselled him to let them go and assemble their people, saying
that they would kill Van Artevelde secretly or otherwise. And indeed,
they did lay many traps and made many attempts against the captain; but
it was of no avail, since all the commonalty was for him." When the
rumor of these projects and these attempts was spread abroad in the city,
the excitement was extreme, and all the burghers assumed white hoods,
which was the mark peculiar to the members of the commune when they
assembled under their flags; so that the count found himself reduced to
assuming one, for he was afraid of being kept captive at Ghent, and, on
the pretext of a hunting party, he lost no time in gaining his castle of
Male.

The burghers of Ghent had their minds still filled with their late alarm
when they heard that, by order, it was said, of the King of France, Count
Louis had sent and beheaded at the castle of Rupehuonde, in the very bed
in which he was confined by his infirmities, their fellow-citizen Solver
of Courtrai, Van Artevelde's father-in-law, who had been kept for many
months in prison for his intimacy with the English. On the same day the
Bishop of Senlis and the Abbot of St. Denis had arrived at Tournay, and
had superintended the reading out in the market-place of a sentence of
excommunication against the Ghentese.

It was probably at this date that Van Artevelde, in his vexation and
disquietude, assumed in Ghent an attitude threatening and despotic even
to tyranny. "He had continually after him," says Froissart, "sixty or
eighty armed varlets, amongst whom were two or three who knew some of his
secrets. When he met a man whom he had hated or had in suspicion, this
man was at once killed, for Van Artevelde had given this order to his
varlets: 'The moment I meet a man, and make such and such a sign to you,
slay him without delay, however great he may be, without waiting for more
speech.' In this way he had many great masters slain. And as soon as
these sixty varlets had taken him home to his hotel, each went to dinner
at his own house; and the moment dinner was over they returned and stood
before his hotel, and waited in the street until that he was minded to go
and play and take his pastime in the city, and so they attended him till
supper-time. And know that each of these hirelings had per diem four
groschen of Flanders for their expenses and wages, and he had them
regularly paid from week to week. . . . And even in the case of all
that were most powerful in Flanders, knights, esquires, and burghers of
the good cities, whom he believed to be favorable to the Count of
Flanders, them he banished from Flanders, and levied half their revenues.
He had levies made of rents, of dues on merchandise, and all the revenues
belonging to the count, wherever it might be in Flanders, and he
disbursed them at his will, and gave them away without rendering any
account. . . . And when he would borrow of any burghers on his word
for payment, there was none that durst say him nay. In short, there was
never in Flanders, or in any other country, duke, count, prince, or
other, who can have had a country at his will as James Van Artevelde had
for a long time."

It is possible that, as some historians have thought, Froissart, being
less favorable to burghers than to princes, did not deny himself a little
exaggeration in this portrait of a great burgher-patriot transformed by
the force of events and passions into a demagogic tyrant. But some of us
may have too vivid a personal recollection of similar scenes to doubt the
general truth of the picture; and we shall meet before long in the
history of France during the fourteenth century with an example still
more striking and more famous than that of Van Artevelde.

Whilst the Count of Flanders, after having vainly attempted to excite an
uprising against Van Artevelde, was being forced, in order to escape from
the people of Bruges, to mount his horse in hot haste, at night and
barely armed, and to flee away to St. Omer, Philip of Valois and Edward
III. were preparing, on either side, for the war which they could see
drawing near. Philip was vigorously at work on the pope, the Emperor of
Germany, and the princes neighbors of Flanders, in order to raise
obstacles against his rival or rob him of his allies. He ordered that
short-lived meeting of the states-general about which we have no
information left us, save that it voted the principle that "no talliage
could be imposed on the people if urgent necessity or evident utility
should not require it, and unless by concession of the Estates." Philip,
as chief of feudal society, rather than of the nation which was forming
itself little by little around the lords, convoked at Amiens all his
vassals, great and small, laic or cleric, placing all his strength in
their co-operation, and not caring at all to associate the country itself
in the affairs of his government. Edward, on the contrary, whilst
equipping his fleet and amassing treasure at the expense of the Jews and
Lombard usurers, was assembling his Parliament, talking to it "of this
important and costly war," for which he obtained large subsidies, and
accepting without making any difficulty the vote of the Commons' House,
which expressed a desire "to consult their constituents upon this
subject, and begged him to summon an early Parliament, to which there
should be elected, in each county, two knights taken from among the best
land-owners of their counties." The king set out for the Continent; the
Parliament met and considered the exigencies of the war by land and sea,
in Scotland and in France; traders, ship-owners, and mariners were called
and examined; and the forces determined to be necessary were voted.
Edward took the field, pillaging, burning, and ravaging, "destroying all
the country for twelve or fourteen leagues to extent," as he himself said
in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he set foot on French
territory, Count William of Hainault, his brother-in-law, and up to that
time his ally, came to him and said that "he would ride with him no
farther, for that his presence was prayed and required by his uncle, the
King of France to whom he bore no hate, and whom he would go and serve in
his own kingdom, as he had served King Edward on the territory of the
emperor, whose vicar he was; "and Edward wished him 'God speed!'" Such
was the binding nature of feudal ties that the same lord held himself
bound to pass from one camp to another, according as he found himself
upon the domains of one or the other of his suzerains in a war one
against the other. Edward continued his march towards St. Quentin, where
Philip had at last arrived with his allies, the Kings of Bohemia,
Navarre, and Scotland, "after delays which had given rise to great
scandal and murmurs throughout the whole kingdom." The two armies, with
a strength, according to Froissart, of a hundred thousand men on the
French side, and forty-four thousand on the English, were soon facing one
another, near Buironfosse, a large burgh of Picardy. A herald came from
the English camp to tell the King of France that the King of England
"demanded of him battle. To which demand," says Froissart, "the King of
France gave willing assent, and accepted the day, which was fixed at
first for Thursday the 21st, and afterwards for Saturday the 25th of
October, 1339." To judge from the somewhat tangled accounts of the
chroniclers and of Froissart himself, neither of the two kings was very
anxious to come to blows. The forces of Edward were much inferior to
those of Philip; and the former had accordingly taken up, as it appears,
a position which rendered attack difficult for Philip. There was much
division of opinion in the French camp. Independently of military
grounds, a great deal was said about certain letters from Robert, King of
Naples, "a mighty necromancer and full of mighty wisdom, it was reported,
who, after having several times cast their horoscopes, had discovered by
astrology and from experience, that, if his cousin, the King of France,
were to fight the King of England, the former would be worsted." "In
thus disputing and debating," says Froissart, "the time passed till full
midday. A little afterwards a hare came leaping across the fields, and
rushed amongst the French. Those who saw it began shouting and making a
great halloo. Those who were behind thought that those who were in front
were engaging in battle; and several put on their helmets and gripped
their swords. Thereupon several knights were made; and the Count of
Hainault himself made fourteen, who were thenceforth nicknamed Knights of
the Hare." Whatever his motive may have been, Philip did not attack; and
Edward promptly began a retreat. They both dismissed their allies; and
during the early days of. November, Philip fell back upon St. Quentin,
and Edward went and took up his winter quarters at Brussels.

For Edward it was a serious check not to have dared to attack the king
whose kingdom he made a pretence of conquering; and he took it grievously
to heart. At Brussels he had an interview with his allies, and asked
their counsel. Most of the princes of the Low Countries remained
faithful to him, and the Count of Hainault seemed inclined to go back to
him; but all hesitated as to what he was to do to recover from the check.
Van Artevelde showed more invention and more boldness. The Flemish
communes had concentrated their forces not far from the spot where the
two kings had kept their armies looking at one another; but they had
maintained a strict neutrality, and at the invitation of the Count of
Flanders, who promised them that the King of France would entertain all
their claims, Artevelde and Breydel, the deputies from Ghent and Bruges,
even repaired to Courtrai to make terms with him. But as they got there
nothing but ambiguous engagements and evasive promises, they let the
negotiation drop, and, whilst Count Louis was on his way to rejoin Philip
at St. Quentin, Artevelde, with the deputies from the Flemish communes,
started for Brussels. Edward, who was already living on very
confidential terms with him, told him that "if the Flemings were minded
to help him to keep up the war, and go with him whithersoever he would
take them, they should aid him to recover Lille, Douai, and B4thune, then
occupied by the King of France. Artevelde, after consulting his
colleagues, returned to Edward, and, 'Dear sir,' said he, 'you have
already made such requests to us, and verily if we could do so whilst
keeping our honor and faith, we would do as you demand; but we be bound,
by faith and oath, and on a bond of two millions of florins entered into
with the pope, not to go to war with the King of France without incurring
a debt to the amount of that sum, and a sentence of ex-communication; but
if you do that which we are about to say to you, if you will be pleased
to adopt the arms of France, and quarter them with those of England, and
openly call yourself King of France, we will uphold you for true King of
France; you, as King of France, shall give us quittance of our faith; and
then we will obey you as King of France, and will go whithersoever you
shall ordain.'"

This prospect pleased Edward mightily: but "it irked him to take the name
and arms of that of which he had as yet won no tittle." He consulted his
allies. Some of them hesitated; but "his most privy and especial
friend," Robert d'Artois, strongly urged him to consent to the proposal.
So a French prince and a Flemish burgher prevailed upon the King of
England to pursue, as in assertion of his avowed rights, the conquest of
the kingdom of France. King, prince, and burgher fixed Ghent as their
place of meeting for the official conclusion of the alliance; and there,
in January, 1340, the mutual engagement was signed and sealed. The King
of England "assumed the arms of France quartered with those of England,"
and thenceforth took the title of King of France.

Then burst forth in reality that war which was to last a hundred years;
which was to bring upon the two nations the most violent struggles, as
well as the most cruel sufferings, and which, at the end of a hundred
years, was to end in the salvation of France from her tremendous peril,
and the defeat of England in her unrighteous attempt. In January, 1340,
Edward thought he had won the most useful of allies; Artevelde thought
the independence of the Flemish communes and his own supremacy in his own
country secured; and Robert d'Artois thought with complacency how he had
gratified his hatred for Philip of Valois. And all three were deceiving
themselves in their joy and their confidence.

Edward, leaving Queen Philippa at Ghent with Artevelde for her adviser,
had returned to England, and had just obtained from the Parliament, for
the purpose of vigorously pushing on the war, a subsidy almost without
precedent, when he heard that a large French fleet was assembling on the
coasts of Zealand, near the port of Ecluse (or Sluys), with a design of
surprising and attacking him when he should cross over again to the
Continent. For some time past this fleet had been cruising in the
Channel, making descents here and there upon English soil, at Plymouth,
Southampton, Sandwich, and Dover, and everywhere causing alarm and
pillage. Its strength, they said, was a hundred and forty large vessels,
"without counting the smaller," having on board thirty-five thousand men,
Normans, Picards, Italians, sailors and soldiers of all countries, under
the command of two French leaders, Hugh Quiret, titular admiral, and
Nicholas Bchuchet, King Philip's treasurer, and of a famous Genoese
buccaneer, named Barbavera. Edward, so soon as he received this
information, resolved to go and meet their attack; and he gave orders to
have his vessels and troops summoned from all parts of England to
Orewell, his point of departure. His advisers, with the Archbishop of
Canterbury at their head, strove, but in vain, to restrain him. "Ye are
all in conspiracy against me," said he; "I shall go; and those who are
afraid can abide at home." And go he did on the 22d of June, 1340, and
aboard of his fleet "went with him many an English dame," says Froissart,
"wives of earls, and barons, and knights, and burghers, of London, who
were off to Ghent to see the Queen of England, whom for a long time past
they had not seen; and King Edward guarded them carefully." "For many a
long day," said he, "have I desired to fight those fellows, and now we
will fight them, please God and St. George; for, verily, they have caused
me so many displeasures, that I would fain take vengeance for them, if I
can but get it." On arriving off the coast of Flanders, opposite Ecluse
(or Sluys), he saw "so great a number of vessels that of masts there
seemed to he verily a forest." He made his arrangements forthwith,
"placing his strongest ships in front, and manoeuvring so as to have the
wind on the starboard quarter, and the sun astern. The Normans marvelled
to see the English thus twisting about, and said, 'They are turning tail;
they are not men enough to fight us.'" But the Genoese buccaneer was not
misled. "When he saw the English fleet approaching in such fashion, he
said to the French admiral and his colleague, Behuchet, 'Sirs, here is
the King of England, with all his ships, bearing down upon us: if ye will
follow my advice, instead of remaining shut up in port, ye will draw out
into the open sea; for, if ye abide here, they, whilst they have in their
favor sun, and wind, and tide, will keep you so short of room, that ye
will be helpless and unable to manoeuvre.' Whereupon answered the
treasurer, B6huchet, who knew more about arithmetic than sea fights,
'Let him go hang, whoever shall go out: here will we wait, and take our
chance.' 'Sir,' replied Barbavera, 'if ye will not be pleased to believe
me, I have no mind to work my own ruin, and I will get me gone with my
galleys out of this hole.' "And out he went, with all his squadron,
engaged the English on the high seas, and took the first ship which
attempted to board him. But Edward, though he was wounded in the thigh,
quickly restored the battle. After a gallant resistance, Barbavera
sailed off with his galleys, and the French fleet found itself alone at
grips with the English. The struggle was obstinate on both sides; it
began at six in the morning of June 24, 1340, and lasted to midday. It
was put an end to by the arrival of the re-enforcements promised by the
Flemings to the King of England. "The deputies of Bruges," says their
historian, "had employed the whole night in getting under way an armament
of two hundred vessels, and, before long, the French heard echoing about
them the horns of the Flemish mariners sounding to quarters." These
latter decided the victory, Behuchet, Philip of Valois' treasurer, fell
into their hands; and they, heeding only their desire of avenging
themselves for the devastation of Cadsand (in 1337), hanged him from the
mast of his vessel "out of spite to the King of France." The admiral,
Hugh Quieret, though he surrendered, was put to death; "and with him
perished so great a number of men-at-arms that the sea was dyed with
blood on this coast, and the dead were put down at quite thirty thousand
men."

The very day after the battle, the Queen of England came from Ghent to
join the king her husband, whom his wound confined to his ship; and at
Valenciennes, whither the news of the victory speedily arrived,
Artevelde, mounting a platform set up in the market-place, maintained, in
the presence of a large crowd, the right which the King of England had to
claim the kingdom of France. He vaunted "the puissance of the three
countries, Flanders, Hainault, and Brabant, when at one accord amongst
themselves, and what with his words and his great sense," says Froissart,
"he did so well that all who heard him said that he had spoken mighty
well, and with mighty experience, and that he was right worthy to govern
the countship of Flanders." From Valenciennes he repaired to King Edward
at Bruges, where all the allied princes were assembled; and there, in
concert with the other deputies from the Flemish communes, Artevelde
offered Edward a hundred thousand men for the vigorous prosecution of the
war. "All these burghers," says the modern historian of the Flemings,
"had declared that, in order to promote their country's cause, they would
serve without pay, so heartily had they entered into the war." The siege
of Tournay was the first operation Edward resolved to undertake. He had
promised to give this place to the Flemings; the burghers were getting a
taste for conquest, in company with kings.

They found Philip of Valois better informed, and also more hot for war,
than perhaps they had expected. It is said that he learned the defeat of
his navy at Ecluse from his court fool, who was the first to announce it,
and in the following fashion. "The English are cowards," said he. "Why
so?" asked the king. "Because they lacked courage to leap into the sea
at Ecluse, as the French and Normans did." Philip lost no time about
putting the places on his northern frontier in a state of defence, he
took up his quarters first at Arras, and then three leagues from Tournay,
into which his constable, Raoul d'Eu, immediately threw himself, with a
considerable force, and whither his allies, the Duke of Lorraine, the
Count of Savoy, the Bishops of Liege, Metz, and Verdun, and nearly all
the barons of Burgundy came and joined him. On the 27th of July, 1340,
he received there from his rival a challenge of portentous length, the
principal terms of which are set forth as follows:

"Philip of Valois, for a long time past we have taken proceedings, by
means of messages and other reasonable ways, to the end that you might
restore to us our rightful heritage of France, which you have this long
while withheld from us and do most wrongfully occupy. And as we do
clearly see that you do intend to persevere in your wrongful withholding,
we do give you notice that we are marching against you to bring our
rightful claims to an issue. And, whereas so great a number of folks
assembled on our side and on yours, cannot keep themselves together for
long without causing great destruction to the people and the country, we
desire, as the quarrel is between you and us, that the decision of our
claim should be between our two bodies. And if you have no mind to this
way, we propose that our quarrel should end by a battle, body to body,
between a hundred persons, the most capable on your side and on ours.
And, if you have no mind either to one way or to the other, that you do
appoint us a fixed day for fighting before the city of Tournay, power to
power. Given under our privy seal, on the field near Tournay, the 26th
day of July, in the first year of our reign in France and in England the
fourteenth."

Philip replied, "Philip, by the grace of God King of France to Edward,
King of England. We have seen your letters brought to our court, as from
you to Philip of Valois, and containing certain demands which you make
upon the said Philip of Valois. And, as the said letters did not come to
ourself, we make you no answer. Our intention is, when it shall seem
good to us, to hurl you out of our kingdom for the benefit of our people.
And of that we have firm hope in Jesus Christ, from whom all power cometh
to us."

Events were not satisfactory either to the haughty pretensions of Edward
or to the patriotic hopes of Philip. The war continued in the north and
south-west of France without any result. In the neighborhood of Tournay
some encounters in the open country were unfavorable to the English and
their allies; the siege of the place was prolonged for seventy-four days
without the attainment of any success by assault or investment; and the
inhabitants defended themselves with so obstinate a courage, that, when
at length the King of England found himself obliged to raise the siege,
Philip, to testify his gratitude towards them, restored them their law,
that is, their communal charter, for some time past withdrawn, and "they
were greatly rejoiced," says Froissart, "at having no more royal
governors, and at appointing provosts and jurymen according to their
fancy." The Flemish burghers, in spite of their display of warlike zeal,
soon grew tired of being so far from their business and of living under
canvas. In Aquitaine the lieutenants of the King of France had the
advantage over those of the King of England; they retook or delivered
several places in dispute between the two crowns, and they closely
pressed Bordeaux itself both by land and sea. Edward, the aggressor, was
exhausting his pecuniary resources, and his Parliament was displaying but
little inclination to replenish them. For Philip, who had merely to
defend himself in his own dominions, any cessation of hostilities was
almost a victory. A pious princess, Joan of Valois, sister of Philip and
mother-in-law of Edward, issued from her convent at Fontenelle, for the
purpose of urging the two kings to make peace, or at least to suspend
hostilities. "The good dame," says Froissart, "saw there, on the two
sides, all the flower and honor of the chivalry of the world; and many a
time she had fallen at the feet of her brother, the King of France,
praying him for some respite or treaty of agreement between himself and
the English king. And when she had labored with them of France, she went
her way to them of the Empire, to the Duke of Brabant, to the Marquis of
Juliers, and to my Lord John of Hainault, and prayed them, for God's and
pity's sake, that they would be pleased to hearken to some terms of
accord, and would win over the King of England to be pleased to
condescend thereto." In concert with the envoys of Pope Benedict XII.,
Joan of Valois at last succeeded in bringing the two sovereigns and their
allies to a truce, which was concluded on the 25th of September, 1340, at
first for nine months, and was afterwards renewed on several occasions up
to the month of June, 1342. Neither sovereign, and none of their allies,
gave up anything, or bound themselves to anything more than not to fight
during that interval; but they were, on both sides, without the power of
carrying on without pause a struggle which they would not entirely
abandon.

An unexpected incident led to its recommencement in spite of the truce:
not, however, throughout France or directly between the two kings, but
with fiery fierceness, though it was limited to a single province, and
arose not in the name of the kingship of France, but out of a purely
provincial question. John III., Duke of Brittany and a faithful vassal
of Philip of Valois, whom he had gone to support at Tournay "more stoutly
and substantially than any of the other princes," says Froissart, died
suddenly at Caen, on the 30th of April, 1341, on returning to his domain.
Though he had been thrice married, he left no child. The duchy of
Brittany then reverted to his brothers or their posterity , but his very
next brother, Guy, Count of Penthievre, had been dead six years, and had
left only a daughter, Joan, called the Cripple, married to Charles of
Blois, nephew of the King of France. The third brother was still alive;
he too was named John, had from his mother the title of Count of
Montfort, and claimed to be heir to the duchy of Brittany in preference
to his niece Joan. The niece, on the contrary, believed in her own right
to the exclusion of her uncle. The question was exactly the same as that
which had arisen touching the crown of France when Philip the Long had
successfully disputed it with the only daughter of his brother Louis the
Quarreller; but the Salic law, which had for more than three centuries
prevailed in France, and just lately to the benefit of Philip of Valois,
had no existence in the written code, or the traditions of Brittany.
There, as in several other great fiefs, women had often been recognized
as capable of holding and transmitting sovereignty. At the death of John
III., his brother, the Count of Montfort, immediately put himself in
possession of the inheritance, seized the principal Breton towns, Nantes,
Brest, Rennes, and Vannes, and crossed over to England to secure the
support of Edward III. His rival, Charles of Blois, appealed to the
decision of the King of France, his uncle and natural protector. Philip
of Valois thus found himself the champion of succession in the female
line in Brittany, whilst he was himself reigning in France by virtue of
the Salic law, and Edward III. took up in Brittany the defence of
succession in the male line which he was disputing and fighting against
in France. Philip and his court of peers declared on the 7th of
September, 1341, that Brittany belonged to Charles of Blois, who at once
did homage for it to the King of France, whilst John of Montfort demanded
and obtained the support of the King of England. War broke out between
the two claimants, effectually supported by the two kings, who
nevertheless were not supposed to make war upon one another and in their
own dominions. The feudal system sometimes entailed these strange and
dangerous complications.

If the two parties had been reduced for leaders to the two claimants
only, the war would not, perhaps, have lasted long.

In the first campaign the Count of Montfort was made prisoner at the
siege of Nantes, carried off to Paris, and shut up in the tower of the
Louvre, whence he did not escape until three years were over. Charles of
Blois, with all his personal valor, was so scrupulously devout that he
often added to the embarrassments and at the same time the delays of war.
He never marched without being followed by his almoner, who took with him
everywhere bread, and wine, and water, and fire in a pot, for the purpose
of saying mass by the way. One day when Charles was accordingly hearing
it and was very near the enemy, one of his officers, Auffroy de
Montboucher, said to him, "Sir, you see right well that your enemies are
yonder, and you halt a longer time than they need to take you."
"Auffroy," answered the prince, "we shall always have towns and castles,
and, if they are taken, we shall, with God's help, recover them; but if
we miss hearing of mass we shall never recover it." Neither side,
however, had much detriment from either the captivity or pious delays of
its chief. Joan of Flanders, Countess of Montfort, was at Rennes when
she heard that her husband had been taken prisoner at Nantes. "Although
she made great mourning in her heart," says Froissart, "she made it not
like a disconsolate woman, but like a proud and gallant man. She showed
to her friends and soldiers a little boy she had, and whose name was
John, even as his father's, and she said to them, 'Ah! sirs, be not
discomforted and cast down because of my lord whom we have lost; he was
but one man; see, here is my little boy, who, please God, shall be his
avenger. I have wealth in abundance, and of it I will give you enow, and
I will provide you with such a leader as shall give you all fresh heart.'
She went through all her good towns and fortresses, taking her young son
with her, re-enforcing the garrisons with men and all they wanted, and
giving away abundantly wherever she thought it would be well laid out.
Then she went her way to Hennebon-sur-Mer, which was a strong town and
strong castle, and there she abode, and her son with her, all the
winter." In May, 1242, Charles of Blois came to besiege her; but the
attempts at assault were not successful. "The Countess of Montfort, who
was cased in armor and rode on a fine steed, galloped from street to
street through the town, summoned the people to defend themselves
stoutly, and called on the women, dames, damoisels, and others, to pull
up the roads, and carry the stones to the ramparts to throw down on the
assailants." She attempted a bolder enterprise. "She sometimes mounted
a tower, right up to the top, that she might see the better how her
people bore themselves. She one day saw that all they of the hostile
army, lords and others, had left their quarters and gone to watch the
assault. She mounted her steed, all armed as she was, and summoned to
horse with her about three hundred men-at-arms who were on guard at a
gate which was not being assailed. She went out thereat with all her
company and threw herself valiantly upon the tents and quarters of the
lords of France, which were all burned, being guarded only by boys and
varlets, who fled as soon as they saw the countess and her folks entering
and setting fire. When the lords saw their quarters burning and heard
the noise which came therefrom, they ran up all dazed and crying,
'Betrayed! betrayed!' so that none remained for the assault. When the
countess saw the enemy's host running up from all parts, she re-assembled
all her folks, and seeing right well that she could not enter the town
again without too great loss, she went off by another road to the castle
of Brest [or, more probably, d'Auray, as Brest is much more than three
leagues from Hennebon], which lies as near as three leagues from thence."
Though hotly pursued by the assailants, "she rode so fast and so well
that she and the greater part of her folks arrived at the castle of
Brest, where she was received and feasted right joyously. Those of her
folks who were in Hennebon were all night in great disquietude because
neither she nor any of her company returned; and the assailant lords, who
had taken up quarters nearer to the town, cried, 'Come out, come out, and
seek your countess; she is lost; you will not find a bit of her.' In such
fear the folks in Hennebon remained five days. But the countess wrought
so well that she had now full five hundred comrades armed and well
mounted; then she set out from Brest about midnight and came away,
arriving at sunrise and riding straight upon one of the flanks of the
enemy's host; there she had the gate of Hennebon castle opened, and
entered in with great joy and a great noise of trumpets and drums;
whereby the besiegers were roughly disturbed and awakened."

The joy of the besieged was short. Charles of Blois pressed on the siege
more rigorously every day, threatening that, when he should have taken
the place, he would put all the inhabitants to the sword. Consternation
spread even to the brave; and a negotiation was opened with a view of
arriving at terms of capitulation. By dint of prayers Countess Joan
obtained a delay of three days. The first two had expired, and the
besiegers were preparing for a fresh assault, when Joan, from the top of
her tower, saw the sea covered with sails: "'See, see,' she cried, the
aid so much desired!' Every one in the town, as best they could, rushed
up at once to the windows and battlements of the walls to see what it
might be," says Froissart. In point of fact it was a fleet with six
thousand men brought from England to the relief of Hennebon by Amaury de
Clisson and Walter de Manny; and they had been a long while detained at
sea by contrary winds."

[Illustration: 'See! See!' she cried----283]

When they had landed the countess herself went to them and feasted them
and thanked them greatly, which was no wonder, for she had sore need of
their coming." It was far better still when, next day, the new arrivals
had attacked the besiegers and gained a brilliant victory over them.
When they re-entered the place, "whoever," says Froissart, "saw the
countess descend from the castle, and kiss my lord Walter de Manny and
his comrades, one after another, two or three times, might well have said
that it was a gallant dame."

All the while that the Count of Montfort was a prisoner in the tower of
the Louvre, the countess his wife strove for his cause with the same
indefatigable energy. He escaped in 1345, crossed over to England, swore
fealty and homage to Edward III. for the duchy of Brittany, and
immediately returned to take in hand, himself, his own cause. But in the
very year of his escape, on the 26th of September, 1345, he died at the
castle of Hennebon, leaving once more his wife, with a young child, alone
at the head of his party and having in charge the future of his house.
The Countess Joan maintained the rights and interests of her son as she
had maintained those of her husband. For nineteen years, she, with the
help of England, struggled against Charles of Blois, the head of a party
growing more and more powerful, and protected by France. Fortune shifted
her favors and her asperities from one camp to the other. Charles of
Blois had at first pretty considerable success; but on the 18th of June,
1347, in a battle in which he personally displayed a brilliant courage,
he was in his turn made prisoner, carried to England, and immured in the
Tower of London. There he remained nine years. But he too had a valiant
and indomitable wife, Joan of Penthievre, the Cripple. She did for her
husband all that Joan of Montfort was doing for hers. All the time that
he was a prisoner in the Tower of London, she was the soul and the head
of his party, in the open country as well as in the towns, turning to
profitable account the inclinations of the Breton population, whom the
presence and the ravages of the English had turned against John of
Montfort and his cause. She even convoked at Dinan, in 1352, a general
assembly of her partisans, which is counted by the Breton historians as
the second holding of the states of their country. During nine years,
from 1347 to 1356, the two Joans were the two heads of their parties in
politics and in war. Charles of Blois at last obtained his liberty from
Edward III. on hard conditions, and returned to Brittany to take up the
conduct of his own affairs. The struggle between the two claimants still
lasted eight years, with vicissitudes ending in nothing definite. In
1363 Charles of Blois and young John of Montfort, weary of their
fruitless efforts and the sufferings of their countries, determined both
of them to make peace and share Brittany between them. Rennes was to be
Charles's capital, and Nantes that of his rival. The treaty had been
signed, an altar raised between the two armies, and an oath taken on both
sides; but when Joan of Penthivre was informed of it she refused
downright to ratify it. "I married you," she said to her husband, "to
defend my inheritance, and not to yield the half of it; I am only a
woman, but I would lose my life, and two lives if I had them, rather than
consent to any cession of the kind." Charles of Blois, as weak before
his wife as brave before the enemy, broke the treaty he had but just
sworn to, and set out for Nantes to resume the war. "My lord," said
Countess Joan to him in presence of all his knights, "you are going to
defend my inheritance and yours, which my lord of Montfort--wrongfully,
God knows--doth withhold from us, and the barons of Brittany who are here
present know that I am rightful heiress of it. I pray you affectionately
not to make any ordinance, composition, or treaty whereby the duchy
corporate remain not ours." Charles set out; and in the following year,
on the 29th of September, 1364, the battle of Auray cost him his life and
the countship of Brittany. When he was wounded to death he said, "I have
long been at war against my conscience." At sight of his dead body on
the field of battle young John of Montfort, his conqueror, was touched,
and cried out, "Alas my cousin, by your obstinacy you have been the cause
of great evils in Brittany: may God forgive you! It grieves me much that
you are come to so sad an end." After this outburst of generous
compassion came the joy of victory, which Montfort owed above all to his
English allies and to John Chandos their leader, to whom, "My Lord John,"
said he, "this great fortune path come to me through your great sense and
prowess: wherefore, I pray you, drink out of my cup." "Sir," answered
Chandos, "let us go hence, and render you your thanks to God for this
happy fortune you have gotten, for, without the death of yonder warrior,
you could not have come into the inheritance of Brittany." From that day
forth John of Monfort remained in point of fact Duke of Brittany, and
Joan of Penthievre, the Cripple, the proud princess who had so
obstinately defended her rights against him, survived for full twenty
years the death of her husband and the loss of her duchy.

Whilst the two Joans were exhibiting in Brittany, for the preservation or
the recovery of their little dominion, so much energy and persistency,
another Joan, no princess, but not the less a heroine, was, in no other
interest than the satisfaction of her love and her vengeance, making war,
all by herself, on the same territory. Several Norman and Breton lords,
and amongst others Oliver de Clisson and Godfrey d'Harcourt, were
suspected, nominally attached as they were to the King of France, of
having made secret overtures to the King of England. Philip of Valois
had them arrested at a tournament, and had them beheaded without any form
of trial, in the middle of the market-place at Paris, to the number of
fourteen. The head of Clisson was sent to Nantes and exposed on one of
the gates of the city. At the news thereof, his widow, Joan of
Belleville, attended by several men of family, her neighbors and friends,
set out for a castle occupied by the troops of Philip's candidate,
Charles of Blois. The fate of Clisson was not yet known there; it was
supposed that his wife was on a hunting excursion; and she was admitted
without distrust. As soon as she was inside, the blast of a horn gave
notice to her followers, whom she had left concealed in the neighboring
woods. They rushed up, and took possession of the castle, and Joan de
Clisson had all the inhabitants--but one--put to the sword. But this was
too little for her grief and her zeal. At the head of her troops,
augmented, she scoured the country and seized several places, everywhere
driving out or putting to death the servants of the King of France.
Philip confiscated the property of the house of Clisson. Joan moved from
land to sea. She manned several vessels, attacked the French ships she
fell in with, ravaged the coasts, and ended by going and placing at the
service of the Countess of Montfort her hatred and her son, a boy of
seven years of age, whom she had taken with her in all her expeditions,
and who was afterwards the great constable, Oliver de Clisson. We shall
find him under Charles V. and Charles VI. as devoted to France and her
kings as if he had not made his first essays in arms against the
candidate of their ancestor, Philip. His mother had sent him to England,
to be brought up at the court of Edward III., but, shortly after taking a
glorious part with the English in the battle of Auray, in which he lost
an eye, and which secured the duchy of Brittany to the Count of Montfort,
De Clisson got embroiled none the less with his suzerain, who had given
John Chandos the castle of Gavre, near Nantes. "Devil take me, my lord,"
said Oliver to him, "if ever Englishman shall be my neighbor;" and he
went forthwith and attacked the castle, which he completely demolished.
The hatreds of women whose passions have made them heroines of war are
more personal and more obstinate than those of the roughest warriors.
Accordingly the war for the duchy of Brittany, in the fourteenth century,
has been called, in history, the war of the three Joans.

This war was, on both sides, remarkable for cruelty. If Joan de Clisson
gave to the sword all the people in a castle, belonging to Charles of
Blois, to which she had been admitted on a supposition of pacific
intentions, Charles of Blois, on his side, finding in another castle
thirty knights, partisans of the Count of Montfort, had their heads shot
from catapults over the walls of Nantes, which he was besieging, and, at
the same time that he saved from pillage the churches of Quimper, which
he had just taken, he allowed his troops to massacre fourteen hundred
inhabitants, and had his principal prisoners beheaded. One of them,
being a deacon, he caused to be degraded, and then handed over to the
populace, who stoned him. It is characteristic of the middle ages that
in them the ferocity of barbaric times existed side by side with the
sentiments of chivalry and the fervor of Christianity: so slow is the
race of man to eschew evil, even when it has begun to discern and relish
good. War was then the passion and habitual condition of men. They made
it without motive as well as without prevision, in a transport of feeling
or for the sake of pastime, to display their strength or to escape from
listlessness; and, whilst making it, they abandoned themselves without
scruple to all those deeds of violence, vengeance, brutal anger, or
fierce delight, which war provokes. At the same time, however, the
generous impulses of feudal chivalry, the sympathies of Christian piety,
tender affections, faithful devotion, noble tastes, were fermenting in
their souls; and human nature appeared with all its complications, its
inconsistencies, and its irregularities, but also with all its wealth of
prospective development. The three Joans of the fourteenth century were
but eighty years in advance of the Joan of Arc of the fifteenth; and the
knights of Charles V., Du Guesclin and De Clisson, were the forerunners
of the Bayard of Francis I.

An incident which has retained its popularity in French history, to wit,
the fight between thirty Bretons and thirty English during the just now
commemorated war in Brittany, will give a better idea than any general
observations could of the real, living characteristics of facts and
manners, barbaric and at the same time chivalric, at that period. No
apology is needed for here reproducing the chief details as they have
been related by Froissart, the dramatic chronicler of the middle ages.

In 1351, "it happened on a day that Sir Robert de Beaumanoir, a valiant
knight and commandant of the castle which is called Castle Josselin, came
before the town and castle of Ploermel, whereof the captain, called
Brandebourg [or Brembro, probably Bremborough], had with him a plenty of
soldiers of the Countess of Montfort. 'Brandebourg,' said Robert, 'have
ye within there never a man-at-arms, or two or three, who would fain
cross swords with other three for love of their ladies?' Brandebourg
answered that their ladies would not have them lose their lives in so
miserable an affair as single combat, whereby one gained the name of fool
rather than honorable renown. 'I will tell you what we will do, if it
please you. You shall take twenty or thirty of your comrades, as I will
take as many of ours. We will go out into a goodly field where none can
hinder or vex us, and there will we do so much that men shall speak
thereof in time to come in hall, and palace, and highway, and other
places of the world.' 'By my faith,' said Beaumanoir, 'tis bravely said,
and I agree: be ye thirty, and we will be thirty, too.' And thus the
matter was settled. When the day had come, the thirty comrades of
Brandebourg, whom we shall call English, heard mass, then got on their
arms, went off to the place where the battle was to be, dismounted, and
waited a long while for the others, whom we shall call French. When the
thirty French had come, and they were in front one of another, they
parleyed a little together, all the sixty; then they fell back, and made
all their fellows go far away from the place. Then one of them made a
sign, and forthwith they set on and fought stoutly all in a heap, and
they aided one another handsomely when they saw their comrades in evil
case. Pretty soon after they had come together, one of the French was
slain, but the rest did not slacken the fight one whit, and they bore
themselves as valiantly all as if they had all been Rolands and Olivers.
At last they were forced to stop, and they rested by common accord,
giving themselves truce until they should be rested, and the first to get
up again should recall the others. They rested long, and there were some
who drank wine which was brought to them in bottles. They rebuckled
their armor, which had got undone, and dressed their wounds. Four French
and two English were dead already."

It was no doubt during this interval that the captain of the Bretons,
Robert de Beaumanoir, grievously wounded and dying of fatigue and thirst,
cried out for a drink. "Drink thy blood, Beaumanoir," said one of his
comrades, Geoffrey de Bois, according to some accounts, and Sire de
Tinteniac, according to others. From that day those words became the
war-cry of the Beaumanoirs. Froissart says nothing of this incident.
Let us return to his narrative.

"When they were refreshed, the first to get up again made a sign, and
recalled the others. Then the battle recommenced as stoutly as before,
and lasted a long while. They had short swords of Bordeaux, tough and
sharp, and boar-spears and daggers, and some had axes, and therewith they
dealt one another marvellously great dings, and some seized one another
by the arms a-struggling, and they struck one another, and spared not.
At last the English had the worst of it; Brandebourg, their captain, was
slain, with eight of his comrades, and the rest yielded themselves
prisoners when they saw that they could no longer defend themselves, for
they could not and must not fly. Sir Robert de Beaumanoir and his
comrades, who remained alive, took them and carried them off to Castle
Josselin as their prisoners; and then admitted them to ransom courteously
when they were all cured, for there was none that was not grievously
wounded, French as well as English. I saw afterwards, sitting at the
table of King Charles of France, a Breton knight who had been in it, Sir
Yvon Charnel , and he had a face so carved and cut that he showed full
well how good a fight had been fought. The matter was talked of in many
places, and some set it down as a very poor, and others as a very
swaggering business."

The most modern and most judicious historian of Brittany, Count Daru,
who has left a name as honorable in literature as in the higher
administration of the First Empire, says, very truly, in recounting this
incident, "It is not quite certain whether this was an act of patriotism
or of chivalry." He might have gone farther, and discovered in this
exploit not only the characteristics he points out, but many others
besides. Local patriotism, the honor of Brittany, party spirit, the
success of John of Montfort or Charles of Blois, the sentiment of
gallantry, the glorification of the most beautiful one amongst their
lady-loves, and, chiefly, the passion for war amongst all and sundry--
there was something of all this mixed up with the battle of the Thirty,
a faithful reflex of the complication and confusion of minds, of morals,
and of wants at that forceful period. It is this very variety of the
ideas, feelings, interests, motives, and motive tendencies involved in
that incident which accounts for the fact that the battle of the Thirty
has remained so vividly remembered, and that in 1811 a monument,
unpretentious but national, replaced the simple stone at first erected on
the field of battle, on the edge of the road from P1o6rmel to Josselin,
with this inscription: "To the immortal memory of the battle of the
Thirty, gained by Marshal Beaumanoir, on the 26th of March, 1350 (1351)."

With some fondness, and at some length, this portion of Brittany's
history in the fourteenth century has been dwelt upon, not only because
of the dramatic interest attaching to the events and the actors, but also
for the sake of showing, by that example, how many separate associations,
diverse and often hostile, were at that time developing themselves, each
on its own account, in that extensive and beautiful country which became
France. We will now return to Philip of Valois and Edward III., and to
the struggle between them for a settlement of the question whether France
should or should not preserve its own independent kingship, and that
national unity of which she already had the name, but of which she was
still to undergo so much painful travail in acquiring the reality.

Although Edward III. by supporting with troops and officers, and
sometimes even in person, the cause of the Countess of Montfort, and
Philip of Valois by assisting in the same way Charles of Blois and Joan
of Penthievre, took a very active, if indirect, share in the war in
Brittany, the two kings persisted in not calling themselves at war; and
when either of them proceeded to acts of unquestionable hostility, they
eluded the consequences of them by hastily concluding truces incessantly
violated and as incessantly renewed. They had made use of this expedient
in 1340; and they had recourse to it again in 1342, 1343, and 1344. The
last of these truces was to have lasted up to 1346; but, in the spring of
1345, Edward resolved to put an end to this equivocal position, and to
openly recommence war. He announced his intention to Pope Clement IV.,
to his own lieutenants in Brittany, and to all the cities and
corporations of his kingdom. He accused Philip of having "violated,
without even sending us a challenge, the truce which, out of regard to
the sovereign pontiff, we had agreed upon with him, and which he had
taken an oath, upon his soul, to keep. On account whereof we have
resolved to proceed against him, him and all his adherents, by land and
sea, by all means possible, in order to recover our just rights." It is
not quite clear what pressing reasons urged Edward to this decisive
resolution. The English Parliament and people, it is true, showed more
disposition to support their king in his pretensions to the throne of
France, and the cause of the Count of Montfort was maintaining itself
stubbornly in Brittany, but nothing seemed to call for so startling a
rupture, or to promise Edward any speedy and successful issue. He had
lost his most energetic and warlike adviser; for Robert d'Artois, the
deadly enemy of Philip of Valois, had been so desperately wounded in the
defence of Vannes against Robert de Beaumanoir, that he had returned to
England only to die. Edward felt this loss severely, gave Robert a
splendid funeral in St. Paul's church, and declared that "he would listen
to nought until he had avenged him, and that he would reduce the country
of Brittany to such plight that, for forty years, it should not recover."
Philip of Valois, on his side, gave signs of getting ready for war. In
1343 he had convoked at Paris one of those assemblies which were
beginning to be called the states-general of the kingdom, and he obtained
from it certain subventions. It was likewise in 1343 and at the
beginning of 1344, that he ordered the arrest, at a tournament to which
he had invited them, and the decapitation, without any form of trial, of
fourteen Breton and three Norman lords whom he suspected of intriguing
against him with the King of England. And so Edward might have
considered himself threatened with imminent peril; and, besides, he had
friends to avenge. But it is not unreasonable to suppose that his fiery
ambition, and his impatience to decide, once for all, that question of
the French kingship which had been for five years in suspense between
himself and his rival, were the true causes of his warlike resolve.
However that may be, he determined to push the war vigorously forward at
the three points at which he could easily wage it. In Brittany he had a
party already engaged in the struggle; in Aquitaine, possessions of
importance to defend or recover; in Flanders, allies with power to back
him, and as angry as he himself. To Brittany he forwarded fresh supplies
for the Count of Montfort; to Aquitaine he sent Henry of Lancaster, Earl
of Derby, his own cousin, and the ablest of his lieutenants; and he
himself prepared to cross over with a large army to Flanders.

The Earl of Derby met with solid and brilliant success in Aquitaine.
He attacked and took in rapid succession Bergerac, La Reole, Aiguillon,
Montpezat, Villefranche, and Angouleme. None of those places was
relieved in time; the strict discipline of Derby's troops and the skill
of the English archers were too much for the bravery of the men-at-arms,
and the raw levies, ill organized and ill paid, of the King of France;
and, in a word, the English were soon masters of almost the whole country
between the Garonne and the Charente. Under such happy auspices Edward
III. arrived on the 7th of July, 1345, at the port of Ecluse (Sluys),
anxious to put himself in concert with the Flemings touching the campaign
he proposed to commence before long in the north of France. Artevelde,
with the consuls of Bruges and Ypres, was awaiting him there. According
to some historians, Edward invited them aboard of his galley, and
represented to them that the time had come for renouncing imperfect
resolves and half-measures; told them that their count, Louis of
Flanders, and his ancestors, had always ignored and attacked their
liberties, and that the best thing they could do would be to sever their
connection with a house they could not trust; and offered them for their
chieftain his own son, the young Prince of Wales, to whom he would give
the title of Duke of Flanders. According to other historians, it was not
King Edward, but Artevelde himself, who took the initiative in this
proposition. The latter had for some time past felt his own dominion in
Flanders attacked and shaken; and he had been confronted, in his own
native city, by declared enemies, who had all but come to blows with his
own partisans. The different industrial corporations of Ghent were no
longer at one amongst themselves; the weavers had quarrelled with the
fullers. Division was likewise reaching a great height amongst the
Flemish towns. The burghers of Poperinghe had refused to continue
recognizing the privileges of those of Ypres; and the Ypres men, enraged,
had taken up arms, and, after a sanguinary melley, had forced the folks
of Poperinghe to give in. Then the Ypres men, proud of their triumph,
had gone and broken the weavers' machinery at Bailleul, and in some other
towns. Artevelde, constrained to take part in these petty civil wars,
had been led on to greater and greater abuse, in his own city itself,
of his municipal despotism, already grown hateful to many of his fellow-
citizens. Whether he himself proposed to shake off the yoke of Count
Louis of Flanders, and take for duke the Prince of Wales, or merely
accepted King Edward's proposal, he set resolutely to work to get it
carried. The most able men, swayed by their own passions and the growing
necessities of the struggle in which they may be engaged, soon forget
their first intentions, and ignore their new perils. The consuls of
Bruges and Ypres, present with Artevelde at his interview with King
Edward in the port of Ecluse (Sluys), answered that "they could not
decide so great a matter unless the whole community of Flanders should
agree thereto," and so returned to their cities. Artevelde followed them
thither, and succeeded in getting the proposed resolution adopted by the
people of Ypres and Bruges. But when he returned to Ghent, on the 24th
of July, 1345, "those in the city who knew of his coming," says
Froissart, "had assembled in the street whereby he must ride to his
hostel. So soon as they saw him they began to mutter, saying, 'There
goes he who is too much master, and would fain do with the countship of
Flanders according to his own will; which cannot be borne.' It had,
besides this, been spread about the city that James Van Artevelde had
secretly sent to England the great treasure of Flanders, which he had
been collecting for the space of the nine years and more during which he
had held the government. This was a matter which did greatly vex and
incense them of Ghent. As James Van Artevelde rode along the street, he
soon perceived that there was something fresh against him, for those who
were wont to bow down and take off their caps to him turned him a cold
shoulder, and went back into their houses. Then he began to be afraid;
and so soon as he had dismounted at his house, he had all the doors and
windows shut and barred. Scarcely had his varlets done so, when the
street in which he lived was covered, front and back, with folk, and
chiefly small crafts-folk. His hostel was surrounded and beset, front
and back, and broken into by force. Those within defended themselves a
long while, and overthrew and wounded many; but at last they could not
hold out, for they were so closely assailed that nearly three quarters of
the city were at this assault. When Artevelde saw the efforts a-making,
and how hotly he was pressed, he came to a window over the street, and
began to abase himself, and say with much fine language, 'Good folks,
what want ye? What is it that doth move ye? Wherefore are ye so vexed
at me? In what way can I have angered ye? Tell me, and I will mend it
according to your wishes.' Then all those who had heard him answered
with one voice, 'We would have an account of the great treasure of
Flanders, which you have sent to England without right or reason.'
Artevelde answered full softly, 'Of a surety, sirs, I have never taken a
denier from the treasury of Flanders; go ye back quietly home, I pray
you, and come again to-morrow morning; I shall be so well prepared to
render you a good account, that, according to reason, it cannot but
content ye.' 'Nay, nay,' they answered, with one voice, 'but we would
have it at once; you shall not escape us so; we do know of a verity that
you have taken it out and sent it away to England, without our wit; for
which cause you must needs die.' When Artevelde heard this word, he
began to weep right piteously, and said, 'Sirs, ye have made me what I
am, and ye did swear to me aforetime that ye would guard and defend me
against all men; and now ye would kill me, and without a cause. Ye can
do so an if it please you, for I am but one single man against ye all,
without any defence. Think hereon, for God's sake, and look back to
bygone times. Consider the great courtesies and services that I have
done ye. Know ye not how all trade had perished in this country? It was
I who raised it up again. Afterwards I governed ye in peace so great,
that, during the time of my government, ye have had everything to your
wish, grains, wools, and all sorts of merchandise, wherewith ye are well
provided and in good case.' Then they began to shout, 'Come down, and
preach not to us from such a height; we would have account and reckoning
of the great treasure of Flanders which you have too long had under
control without rendering an account, which it appertaineth not to any
officer to do.' When Artevelde saw that they would not cool down, and
would not restrain themselves, he closed the window, and bethought him
that he would escape by the back, and get him gone to a church adjoining
his hostel; but his hostel was already burst open and broken into behind,
and there were more than four hundred persons who were all anxious to
seize him. At last he was caught amongst them, and killed on the spot
without mercy. A weaver, called Thomas Denis, gave him his death-blow.
This was the end of Artevelde, who in his time was so great a master in
Flanders. Poor folk exalted him at first, and wicked folk slew him at
the last."

[Illustration: Statue of James Van Artevelde----296]

It was a great loss for King Edward. Under Van Artevelde's bold
dominance, and in consequence of his alliance with England, the warlike
renown of Flanders had made some noise in Europe, to such an extent that
Petrarch exclaimed, "List to the sounds, still indistinct, that reach us
from the world of the West; Flanders is plunged in ceaseless war; all the
country stretching from the restless Ocean to the Latin Alps is rushing
forth to arms. Would to Heaven that there might come to us some gleams
of salvation from thence! O Italy, poor father-land, thou prey to
sufferings without relief, thou who wast wont with thy deeds of arms to
trouble the peace of the world, now art thou motionless when the fate of
the world hangs on the chances of battle! "The Flemings spared no effort
to re-assure the King of England. Their envoys went to Westminster to
deplore the murder of Van Artevelde, and tried to persuade Edward that
his policy would be perpetuated throughout their cities, and "to such
purpose," says Froissart, "that in the end the king was fairly content
with the Flemings, and they with him, and, between them, the death of
James Van Artevelde was little by little forgotten." Edward, however,
was so much affected by it that he required a whole year before he could
resume with any confidence his projects of war; and it was not until the
2d of July, 1346, that he embarked at Southampton, taking with him,
besides his son, the Prince of Wales, hardly sixteen years of age, an
army which comprised, according to Froissart, seven earls, more than
thirty-five barons, a great number of knights, four thousand men-at-arms,
ten thousand English archers, six thousand Irish, and twelve thousand
Welsh infantry, in all something more than thirty-two thousand men,
troops even more formidable for their discipline and experience of war
than for their numbers. When they were out at sea none knew, not even
the king himself, for what point of the Continent they were to make, for
the south or the north, for Aquitaine or Normandy. "Sir," said Godfrey
d'Harcourt, who had become one of the king's most trusted counsellors,
"the country of Normandy is one of the fattest in the world, and I
promise you, at the risk of my head, that if you put in there you shall
take possession of land at your good pleasure, for the folk there never
were armed, and all the flower of their chivalry is now at Aiguillon with
their duke; for certain, we shall find there gold, silver, victual, and
all other good things in great abundance." Edward adopted this advice;
and on the 12th of July, 1346, his fleet anchored before the peninsula of
Cotentin, at Cape La Hogue. Whilst disembarking, at the very first step
he made on shore, the king fell "so roughly," says Froissart, "that blood
spurted from his nose. 'Sir,' said his knights to him, 'go back to your
ship, and come not now to land, for here is an ill sign for you.' 'Nay,
verily,' quoth the king, full roundly, 'it is a right good sign for me,
since the land doth desire me.'" Caesar did and said much the same on
disembarking in Africa, and William the Conqueror on landing in England.
In spite of contemporary accounts, there is a doubt about the
authenticity of these striking expressions, which become favorites,
and crop up again on all similar occasions.

For a month Edward marched his army over Normandy, "finding on his road,"
says Froissart, "the country fat and plenteous in everything, the garners
full of corn, the houses full of all manner of riches, carriages, wagons
and horses, swine, ewes, wethers, and the finest oxen in the world." He
took and plundered on his way Barfleur, Cherbourg, Valognes, Carentan,
and St. Lo. When, on the 26th of July, he arrived before Caen, "a city
bigger than any in England save London, and full of all kinds of
merchandise, of rich burghers, of noble dames, and of fine churches," the
population attempted to resist. Philip had sent to them the constable,
Raoul d'Eu, and the Count of Tancarville; but, after three days of petty
fighting around the city and even in the streets themselves, Edward
became master of it, and on the entreaty, it is said, of Godfrey
d'Hareourt, exempted it from pillage. Continuing his march, he occupied
Louviers, Vernon, Verneuil, Mantes, Meulan, and Poissy, where he took up
his quarters in the old residence of King Robert; and thence his troops
advanced and spread themselves as far as Ruel, Neuilly, Boulogne, St.
Cloud, Bourg-la-Reine, and almost to the gates of Paris, whence could be
seen "the fire and smoke from burning villages." "We ourselves," says a
contemporary chronicler, "saw these things; and it was a great dishonor
that in the midst of the kingdom of France the King of England should
squander, spoil, and consume the king's wines and other goods." Great
was the consternation at Paris. And it was redoubled when Philip gave
orders for the demolition of the houses built along by the walls of
circumvallation, on the ground that they embarrassed the defence. The
people believed that they were on the eve of a siege. The order was
revoked; but the feeling became even more intense when it was known that
the king was getting ready to start for St. Denis, where his principal
allies, the King of Bohemia, the Dukes of Hainault and of Lorraine, the
Counts of Flanders and of Blois, "and a very great array of baronry and
chivalry," were already assembled. "Ah! dear sir and noble king," cried
the burghers of Paris as they came to Philip and threw themselves on
their knees before him, "what would you do? Would you thus leave your
good city of Paris? Your enemies are already within two leagues, and
will soon be in our city when they know that you are gone; and we have
and shall have none to defend us against them. Sir, may it please you to
remain and watch over your good city." "My good people," answered the
king, "have ye no fear; the English shall come no nigher to you; I am
away to St. Denis to my men-at-arms, for I mean to ride against these
English, and fight them, in such fashion as I may." Philip recalled in
all haste his troops from Aquitaine, commanded the burgher-forces to
assemble, and gave them, as he had given all his allies, St. Denis for
the rallying-point. At sight of so many great lords and all sorts of men
of war flocking together from all points, the Parisians took fresh
courage. "For many a long day there had not been seen at St. Denis a
king of France in arms and fully prepared for battle."

Edward began to be afraid of having pushed too far forward, and of
finding himself endangered in the heart of France, confronted by an army
which would soon be stronger than his own. Some chronicles say that
Philip, in his turn, sent a challenge either for single combat or for a
battle on a fixed day, in a place assigned, and that Edward, in his turn
also, declined the proposition he had but lately made to his rival. It
appears, further, that at the moment of commencing his retreat away from
Paris, he tried ringing the changes on Philip with respect to the line he
intended to take, and that Philip was led to believe that the English
army would fall back in a westerly direction, by Orleans and Tours,
whereas it marched northward, where Edward flattered himself he would
find partisans, counting especially on the help of the Flemings, who, in
fulfilment of their promise, had already advanced as far as Bethune to
support him. Philip was soon better informed, and moved with all his
army into Picardy in pursuit of the English army, which was in a hurry to
reach and cross the Somme, and so continue its march northward. It was
more than once forced to fight on its march with the people of the towns
and country through which it was passing; provisions were beginning to
fall short; and Edward sent his two marshals, the Earl of Warwick and
Godfrey d'Harcourt, to discover where it was practicable to cross the
river, which, at this season of the year and so near its mouth, was both
broad and deep. They returned without having any satisfactory
information to report; "whereupon," says Froissart, "the king was not
more joyous or less pensive, and began to fall into a great melancholy."
He had halted three or four days at Airaines, some few leagues from
Amiens, whither the King of France had arrived in pursuit with an army,
it is said, more than a hundred thousand strong. Philip learned through
his scouts that the King of England would evacuate Airaines the next
morning, and ride to Abbeville in hopes of finding some means of getting
over the Somme. Philip immediately ordered a Norman baron, Godemar du
Fay, to go with a body of troops and guard the ford of Blanche-Tache,
below Abbeville, the only point at which, it was said, the English could
cross the river; and on the same day he himself moved with the bulk of
his army from Amiens on Airaines. There he arrived about midday, some
few hours after that the King of England had departed with such
precipitation that the French found in it "great store of provisions,
meat ready spitted, bread and pastry in the oven, wines in barrel, and
many tables which the English had left ready set and laid out." "Sir,"
said Philip's officers to him, as soon as he was at Airaines, "rest you
here and wait for your barons and their folk, for the English cannot
escape you." It was concluded, in point of fact, that Edward and his
troops, not being able to cross the Somme, would find themselves hemmed
in between the French army and the strong places of Abbeville, St.
Valery, and Le Crotoi, in the most evil case and perilous position
possible. But Edward, on arriving at the little town of Oisemont, hard
by the Somme, set out in person in quest of the ford he was so anxious to
discover. He sent for some prisoners he had made in the country, and
said to them, "right courteously," according to Froissart, "'Is there
here any man who knows of a passage below Abbeville, where-by we and our
army might cross the river without peril?' And a varlet from a
neighboring mill, whose name history has preserved as that of a traitor,
Gobin Agace, said to the king, 'Sir, I do promise you, at the risk of my
head, that I will guide you to such a spot, where you shall cross the
River Somme without peril, you and your army.' 'Comrade,' said the king
to him, 'if I find true that which thou tellest us, I will set thee free
from thy prison, thee and all thy fellows for love of thee, and I will
cause to be given to thee a hundred golden nobles and a good stallion.'"
The varlet had told the truth; the ford was found at the spot called
Blanche-Tache, whither Philip had sent Godemar du Fay with a few thousand
men to guard it. A battle took place; but the two marshals of England,
"unfurling their banners in the name of God and St. George, and having
with them the most valiant and best mounted, threw themselves into the
water at full gallop, and there, in the river, was done many a deed of
battle, and many a man was laid low on one side and the other, for Sir
Godemar and his comrades did valiantly defend the passage; but at last
the English got across, and moved forward into the fields as fast as ever
they landed. When Sir Godemar saw the mishap, he made off as quickly as
he could, and so did a many of his comrades." The King of France, when
he heard the news, was very wroth, "for he had good hope of finding the
English on the Somme and fighting them there. 'What is it right to do
now?' asked Philip of his marshals. 'Sir,' answered they, 'you cannot
now cross in pursuit of the English, for the tide is already up.'"
Philip went disconsolate to lie at Abbeville, whither all his men
followed him. Had he been as watchful as Edward was, and had he, instead
of halting at Airaines "by the ready-set tables which the English had
left," marched at once in pursuit of them, perhaps he would have caught
and beaten them on the left bank of the Somme, before they could cross
and take up position on the other side. This was the first striking
instance of that extreme inequality between the two kings in point of
ability and energy which was before long to produce results so fatal for
Philip.

When Edward, after passing the Somme, had arrived near Crecy, five
leagues from Abbeville, in the countship of Ponthieu which had formed
part of his mother Isabel's dowry, "'Halt we here,' said he to his
marshals; 'I will go no farther till I have seen the enemy; I am on my
mother's rightful inheritance which was given her on her marriage; I will
defend it against mine adversary, Philip of Valois;' and he rested in the
open fields, he and all his men, and made his marshals mark well the
ground where they would set their battle in array." Philip, on his side,
had moved to Abbeville, where all his men came and joined him, and whence
he sent out scouts "to learn the truth about the English. When he knew
that they were resting in the open fields near Crecy and showed that they
were awaiting their enemies, the King of France was very joyful, and said
that, please God, they should fight him on the morrow [the day after
Friday, August 25, 1346]. He that day bade to supper all the high-born
princes who were at Abbeville. They were all in great spirits and had
great talk of arms, and after supper the king prayed all the lords to be
all of them, one toward another, friendly and courteous, without envy,
hatred, and pride, and every one made him a promise thereof. On the same
day of Friday the King of England also gave a supper to the earls and
barons of his army, made them great cheer, and then sent them away to
rest, which they did. When all the company had gone, he entered into his
oratory, and fell on his knees before the altar, praying devoutly that
God would permit him on the morrow, if he should fight, to come out of
the business with honor; after which, about midnight, he went and lay
down. On the morrow he rose pretty early, for good reason, heard mass
with the Prince of Wales, his son, and both of them communicated. The
majority of his men confessed and put themselves in good ease. After
mass the king commanded all to get on their arms and take their places in
the field according as he had assigned them the day before." Edward had
divided his army into three bodies; he had put the first, forming the
van, under the orders of the young Prince of Wales, having about him the
best and most tried warriors; the second had for commanders earls and
barons in whom the king had confidence; and the third, the reserve, he
commanded in person. Having thus made his arrangements, Edward, mounted
on a little palfrey, with a white staff in his hand and his marshals in
his train, rode at a foot-pace from rank to rank, exhorting all his men,
officers and privates, to stoutly defend his right and do their duty; and
"he said these words to them," says Froissart, "with so bright a smile
and so joyous a mien that whoso had before been disheartened felt
reheartened on seeing and hearing him." Having finished his ride, Edward
went back to his own division, giving orders for all his folk to eat
their fill and drink one draught: which they did. "And then they sat
down all of them on the ground, with their head-pieces and their bows in
front of them, resting themselves in order to be more fresh and cool when
the enemy should come."

Philip also set himself in motion on Saturday, the 26th of August, and,
after having heard mass, marched out from Abbeville with all his barons.
"There was so great a throng of men-at-arms there," says Froissart, "that
it were a marvel to think on, and the king rode mighty gently to wait for
all his folk." When they were two leagues from Abbeville, one of them
that were with him said, "Sir, it were well to put your lines in order of
battle, and to send three or four of your knights to ride forward and
observe the enemy and in what condition they be." So four knights pushed
forward to within sight of the English, and, returning immediately to the
king, whom they could not approach without breaking the host that
encompassed him, they said by the mouth of one of them, "Know, sir, that
the English be halted, well and regularly, in three lines of battle, and
show no sign of meaning to fly, but await your coming. For my part, my
counsel is that you halt all your men, and rest them in the fields
throughout this day. Before the hindermost can come up, and before your
lines of battle are set in order, it will be late; your men will be tired
and in disarray; and you will find the enemy cool and fresh. To-morrow
morning you will be better able to dispose your men and determine in what
quarter it will be expedient to attack the enemy. Sure may you be that
they will await you." This counsel was well pleasing to the King of
France, and he commanded that thus it should be. "The two marshals rode
one to the front and the other to the rear with orders to the bannerets,
'Halt, banners, by command of the king, in the name of God and St.
Denis!' At this order those who were foremost halted, but not those who
were hindermost, continuing to ride forward and saying that they would
not halt until they were as much to the front as the foremost were.
Neither the king nor his marshals could get the mastery of their men, for
there was so goodly a number of great lords that each was minded to show
his own might. There was, besides, in the fields, so goodly a number of
common people that all the roads between Abbeville and Crecy were covered
with them; and when these folk thought themselves near the enemy, they
drew their swords, shouting, 'Death! death!' And not a soul did they
see."

"When the English saw the French approaching, they rose up in fine order
and ranged themselves in their lines of battle, that of the Prince of
Wales right in front, and the Earls of Northampton and Arundel, who
commanded the second, took up their place on the wing, right orderly and
all ready to support the prince, if need should be. Well, the lords,
kings, dukes, counts, and barons of the French came not up all together,
but one in front and another behind, without plan or orderliness. When
King Philip arrived at the spot where the English were thus halted, and
saw them, the blood boiled within him, for he hated them, and he said to
his marshals, 'Let our Genoese pass to the front and begin the battle, in
the name of God and St. Denis.' There were there fifteen thousand of
these said Genoese bowmen; but they were sore tired with going a-foot
that day more than six leagues and fully armed, and they said to their
commanders that they were not prepared to do any great feat of battle.
'To be saddled with such a scum as this that fails you in the hour of
need!' said the Duke d'Alencon on hearing those words. Whilst the
Genoese were holding back, there fell from heaven a rain, heavy and
thick, with thunder and lightning very mighty and terrible. Before long,
however, the air began to clear and the sun to shine. The French had it
right in their eyes and the English at their backs. When the Genoese had
recovered themselves and got together, they advanced upon the English
with loud shouts, so as to strike dismay; but the English kept quite
quiet, and showed no sign of it. Then the Genoese bent their cross-bows
and began to shoot. The English, making one step forward, let fly their
arrows, which came down so thick upon the Genoese that it looked like a
fall of snow. The Genoese, galled and discomfited, began to fall back.
Between them and the main body of the French was a great hedge of
men-at-arms who were watching their proceedings. When the King of France
saw his bowmen thus in disorder he shouted to the men-at-arms, 'Up now
and slay all this scum, for it blocks our way and hinders us from getting
forward.'" Then the French, on every side, struck out at the Genoese, at
whom the English archers continued to shoot.

"Thus began the battle between Broye and Crecy, at the hour of vespers."
The French, as they came up, were already tired and in great disorder:
"howbeit so many valiant men and good knights kept ever riding forward
for their honor's sake, and preferred rather to die than that a base
flight should be cast in their teeth." A fierce combat took place
between them and the division of the Prince of Wales. Thither penetrated
the Count d'Alenccon and the Count of Flanders with their followers,
round the flank of the English archers; and the King of France, who was
foaming with displeasure and wrath, rode forward to join his brother
D'Alencon, but there was so great a hedge of archers and men-at-arms
mingled together that he could never get past. Thomas of Norwich, a
knight serving under the Prince of Wales, was sent to the King of England
to ask him for help. "'Sir Thomas,' said the king, 'is my son dead or
unhorsed, or so wounded that he cannot help himself?' 'Not so, my lord,
please God; but he is fighting against great odds, and is like to have
need of your help.' 'Sir Thomas,' replied the king, 'return to them who
sent you, and tell them from me not to send for me, whatever chance
befall them, so long as my son is alive, and tell them that I bid them
let the lad win his spurs; for I wish, if God so deem, that the day
should be his, and the honor thereof remain to him and to those to whom I
have given him in charge.' The knight returned with this answer to his
chiefs; and it encouraged them greatly, and they repented within
themselves for that they had sent him to the king." Warlike ardor, if
not ability and prudence, was the same on both sides. Philip's faithful
ally, John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, had come thither, blind as he
was, with his son Charles and his knights; and when he knew that the
battle had begun he asked those who were near him how it was going on.
"'My lord,' they said, 'the Genoese are discomfited, and the king has
given orders to slay them all; and all the while between our folk and
them there is so great disorder that they stumble one over another and
hinder us greatly.' 'Ha!' said the king, 'that is an ill sign for us;
where is Sir Charles, my son?' 'My lord, we know not; we have reason to
believe that he is elsewhere in the fight.' 'Sirs,' replied the old
king, 'ye are my liegemen, my friends, and my comrades; I pray you and
require you to lead me so far to the front in the work of this day that I
may strike a blow with my sword; it shall not be said that I came hither
to do nought.' So his train, who loved his honor and their own
advancement," says Froissart, "did his bidding. For to acquit themselves
of their duty, and that they might not lose him in the throng, they tied
themselves all together by the reins of their horses, and set the king,
their lord, right in front, that he might the better accomplish his
desire, and thus they bore down on the enemy. And the king went so far
forward that he struck a good blow, yea, three and four; and so did all
those who were with him. And they served him so well and charged so well
forward upon the English, that all fell there and were found next day on
the spot around their lord, and their horses tied together."

"The King of France," continues Froissart, "had great anguish at heart
when he saw his men thus discomfited and falling one after another before
a handful of folk as the English were. He asked counsel of Sir John of
Hainault, who was near him and who said to him, 'Truly, sir, I can give
you no better counsel than that you should withdraw and place yourself in
safety, for I see no remedy here. It will soon be late; and then you
would be as likely to ride upon your enemies as amongst your friends, and
so be lost.' Late in the evening, at nightfall, King Philip left the
field with a heavy heart--and for good cause; he had just five barons
with him, and no more! He rode, quite broken-hearted, to the castle of
Broye. When he came to the gate, he found it shut and the bridge drawn
up, for it was fully night, and was very dark and thick. The king had
the castellan summoned, who came forward on the battlements and cried
aloud, 'Who's there? who knocks at such an hour?' 'Open, castellan,'
said Philip; 'it is the unhappy King of France.' The castellan went out
as soon as he recognized the voice of the King of France; and he well
knew already that they had been discomfited, from some fugitives who had
passed at the foot of the castle. He let down the bridge and opened the
gate. Then the king, with his following, went in, and remained there up
to midnight, for the king did not care to stay and shut himself up
therein. He drank a draught, and so did they who were with him; then
they mounted to horse, took guides to conduct them, and rode in such wise
that at break of day they entered the good city of Amiens. There the
king halted, took up his quarters in an abbey, and said that he would go
no farther until he knew the truth about his men, which of them were left
on the field and which had escaped."

Whilst Philip, with all speed, was on the road back to Paris with his
army as disheartened as its king, and more disorderly in retreat than it
had been in battle, Edward was hastening, with ardor and intelligence, to
reap the fruits of his victory. In the difficult war of conquest he had
undertaken, what was clearly of most importance to him was to possess on
the coast of France, as near as possible to England, a place which he
might make, in his operations by land and sea, a point of arrival and
departure, of occupancy, of provisioning, and of secure refuge. Calais
exactly fulfilled these conditions. It was a natural harbor, protected,
for many centuries past, by two huge towers, of which one, it is said,
was built by the Emperor Caligula and the other by Charlemagne; it had
been deepened and improved, at the end of the tenth century, by Baldwin
IV., Count of Flanders, and in the thirteenth by Philip of France, called
Toughskin (Hurepel), Count of Boulogne; and, in the fourteenth, it had
become an important city, surrounded by a strong wall of circumvallation,
and having erected in its midst a huge keep, furnished with bastions and
towers, which was called the Castle. On arriving before the place,
September 3, 1346, Edward "immediately had built all round it," says
Froissart, "houses and dwelling-places of solid carpentry, and arranged
in streets as if he were to remain there for ten or twelve years, for his
intention was not to leave it winter or summer, whatever time and
whatever trouble he must spend and take. He called this new town
Villeneuve la Hardie; and he had therein all things necessary for an
army, and more too, as a place appointed for the holding of a market on
Wednesday and Saturday; and therein were mercers' shops, and butchers'
shops, and stores for the sale of cloth, and bread, and all other
necessaries. King Edward did not have the city of Calais assaulted by
his men, well knowing that he would lose his pains, but said he would
starve it out, however long a time it might cost him, if King Philip of
France did not come to fight him again, and raise the siege."

Calais had for its governor John de Vienne, a valiant and faithful
Burgundian knight, "the which, seeing," says Froissart, "that the King of
England was making every sacrifice to keep up the siege, ordered that all
sorts of small folk, who had no provisions, should quit the city without
further notice. They went forth on a Wednesday morning, men, women, and
children, more than seventeen hundred of them, and passed through King
Edward's army. They were asked why they were leaving; and they answered,
because they had no means of living. Then the king permitted them to
pass, and caused to be given to all of them, male and female, a hearty
dinner, and after dinner two shillings apiece, the which grace was
commended as very handsome; and so indeed it was." Edward probably hoped
that his generosity would produce, in the town itself which remained in a
state of siege, a favorable impression; but he had to do with a
population ardently warlike and patriotic, burghers as well as knights.
They endured for eleven months all the sufferings arising from isolation
and famine; though, from time to time, fishermen and seamen in their
neighborhood, and amongst others two seamen of Abbeville, the names of
whom have been preserved in history, Marant and Mestriel, succeeded in
getting victuals in to them. The King of France made two attempts to
relieve them. On the 20th of May, 1347, he assembled his troops at
Amiens; but they were not ready to march till about the middle of July,
and as long before as the 23d of June a French fleet of ten galleys and
thirty-five trans-ports had been driven off by the English. John de
Vienne wrote to Philip, "Everything has been eaten, cats, dogs, and
horses, and we can no longer find victual in the town unless we eat human
flesh. . . . If we have not speedy succor, we will issue forth from
the town to fight, whether to live or die, for we would rather die
honorably in the field than eat one another. . . . If a remedy be not
soon applied, you will never more have letter from me, and the town will
be lost as well as we who are in it. May our Lord grant you a happy life
and a long, and put you in such a disposition that, if we die for your
sake, you may settle the account therefor with our heirs!" On the 27th
of July Philip arrived in person before Calais. If Froissart can be
trusted, "he had with him full two hundred thousand men, and these French
rode up with banners flying as if to fight, and it was a fine sight to
see such puissant array; and so, when they of Calais who were on the
walls saw them appear and their banners floating on the breeze, they had
great joy, and believed that they were going to be soon delivered! But
when they saw camping and tenting going forward they were more angered
than before, for it seemed to them an evil sign." The marshals of France
went about everywhere looking for a passage, and they reported that it
was nowhere possible to open a road without exposing the army to loss,
so well all the approaches to the place, by sea and land, were guarded by
the English. The pope's two legates, who had accompanied King Philip,
tried in vain to open negotiations. Philip sent four knights to the King
of England to urge him to appoint a place where a battle might be fought
without advantage on either side; but, "Sirs," answered Edward, "I have
been here nigh upon a year, and have been at heavy charges by it; and
having done so much that before long I shall be master of Calais. I will
by no means retard my conquest which I have so much desired. Let mine
adversary and his people find out a way, as they please, to fight me."

Other testimony would have us believe that Edward accepted Philip's
challenge, and that it was the King of France who raised fresh
difficulties in consequence of which the proposed battle did not take
place. Froissart's account, however, seems the more truth-like in
itself, and more in accordance with the totality of facts. However that
may be, whether it were actual powerlessness or want of spirit both on
the part of the French army and of the king, Philip, on the 2d of August,
1347, took the road back to Amiens, and dismissed all those who had gone
with him, men-at-arms and common folk.

When the people of Calais saw that all hope of a rescue had slipped from
them, they held a council, resigned themselves to offer submission to the
King of England rather than die of hunger, and begged their governor,
John de Vienne, to enter into negotiations for that purpose with the
besiegers. Walter de Manny, instructed by Edward to reply to these
overtures, said to John de Vienne, "The king's intent is, that ye put
yourselves at his free will to ransom or put to death such as it shall
please him; the people of Calais have caused him so great displeasure,
cost him so much money, and lost him so many men, that it is not
astonishing if that weighs heavily upon him." "Sir Walter," answered
John de Vienne, "it would be too hard a matter for us if we were to
consent to what you say. There are within here but a small number of us
knights and squires who have loyally served our lord the King of France
even as you would serve yours in like case; but we would suffer greater
evils than ever men have had to endure rather than consent that the
meanest 'prentice-boy or varlet of the town should have other evil than
the greatest of us. We pray you be pleased to return to the King of
England, and pray him to have pity upon us; and you will do us courtesy."
"By my faith," answered Walter de Manny, "I will do it willingly, Sir
John; and I would that, by God's help, the king might be pleased to
listen unto me." And the brave English knight reported to the king the
prayer of the French knights in Calais, saying, "My lord, Sir John de
Vienne told me that they were in very sore extremity and famine, but
that, rather than surrender all to your will, to live or die as it might
please you, they would sell themselves so dearly as never did men-at-
arms." "I will not do otherwise than I have said," answered the king.
"My lord," replied Walter, "you will perchance be wrong, for you will
give us a bad example; if you should be pleased to send us to defend any
of your fortresses, we should of a surety not go willingly if you have
these people put to death, for thus would they do to us in like case."
These words caused Edward to reflect; and the greater part of the English
barons came to the aid of Walter de Manny. "Sirs," said the king, "I
would not be all alone against you all. Go, Walter, to them of Calais,
and say to the governor that the greatest grace they can find in my sight
is that six of the most notable burghers come forth from their town,
bare-headed, bare-footed, with ropes round their necks, and with the keys
of the town and castle in their hands. With them I will do according to
my will, and the rest I will receive to mercy." "My lord," said Walter,
"I will do it willingly." He returned to Calais, where John de Vienne
was awaiting him, and reported the king's decision. The governor
immediately left the ramparts, went to the market-place, and had the bell
rung to assemble the people. At sound of the bell men and women came
hurrying up hungering for news, as was natural for people so hard-pressed
by famine that they could not hold out any longer. John de Vienne then
repeated to them what he had just been told, adding that there was no
other way, and that they would have to make short answer. On this they
all fell a-weeping and crying out so bitterly that no heart in the world,
however hard, could have seen and heard them without pity. Even John de
Vienne shed tears. Then rose up to his feet the richest burgher of the
town, Eustace de St. Pierre, who, at the former council, had been for
capitulation. "Sir," said he, "it would be great pity to leave this
people to die, by famine or otherwise, when any remedy can be found
against it; and he who should keep them from such a mishap would find
great favor in the eyes of our Lord. I have great hope to find favor in
the eyes of our Lord if I die to save this people; I would fain be the
first herein, and I will willingly place myself in my shirt and
bare-headed and with a rope round my neck, at the mercy of the King of
England." At this speech, men and women cast themselves at the feet of
Eustace de St. Pierre, weeping piteously. Another right-honorable
burgher, who had great possessions and two beautiful damsels for
daughters, rose up and said that he would act comrade to Eustace de St.
Pierre: his name was John d'Aire. Then, for the third, James de Vissant,
a rich man in personalty and realty; then his brother Peter de Vissant;
and then the fifth and sixth, of whom none has told the names. On the
5th of August, 1347, these six burghers, thus apparelled, with cords
round their necks and each with a bunch of the keys of the city and of
the castle, were conducted outside the gates by John de Vienne, who rode
a small hackney, for he was in such ill plight that he could not go
a-foot. He gave them up to Sir Walter, who was awaiting him, and said to
him, "As captain of Calais I deliver to you, with the consent of the poor
people of the town, these six burghers, who are, I swear to you, the most
honorable and notable in person, in fortune, and in ancestry, in the town
of Calais. I pray you be pleased to pray the King of England that these
good folks be not put to death." "I know not," answered De Manny, "what
my lord the king may mean to do with them; but I promise you that I will
do mine ability." When Sir Walter brought in the six burghers in this
condition, King Edward was in his chamber with a great company of earls,
barons, and knights. As soon as he heard that the folks of Calais were
there as he had ordered, he went out and stood in the open space before
his hostel and all those lords with him; and even Queen Philippa of
England, who was with child, followed the king her lord. He gazed most
cruelly on those six poor men, for he had his heart possessed with so
much rage that at first he could not speak. When he spoke, he commanded
them to be straightway beheaded, All the barons and knights who were
there prayed him to show them mercy. "Gentle sir," said Walter de Manny,
"restrain your wrath; you have renown for gentleness and nobleness; be
pleased to do nought whereby it may be diminished; if you have not pity
on yonder folk, all others will say that it was great cruelty on your
part to put to death these six honorable burghers, who of their own free
will have put themselves at your mercy to save the others." The king
gnashed his teeth, saying, "Sir Walter, hold your peace; let them fetch
hither my headsman; the people of Calais have been the death of so many
of my men that it is but meet that yon fellows die also." Then, with
great humility, the noble queen, who was very nigh her delivery, threw
herself on her knees at the feet of the king, saying, "Ah gentle sir, if,
as you know, I have asked nothing of you from the time that I crossed the
sea in great peril, I pray you humbly that as a special boon, for the
sake of Holy Mary's Son and for the love of me, you will please to have
mercy on these six men."

[Illustration: Queen Philippa at the Feet of the King----314]

The king did not speak at once, and fixed his eyes on the good dame his
wife, who was weeping piteously on her knees. She softened his stern
heart, for he would have been loath to vex her in the state in which she
was; and he said to her, "Ha! dame, I had much rather you had been
elsewhere than here; but you pray me such prayers that I dare not refuse
you, and though it irks me much to do so, there! I give them up to you;
do with them as you will." "Thanks, hearty thanks, my lord," said the
good queen. Then she rose up and raised up the six burghers, had the
ropes taken off their necks, and took them with her to her chamber, where
she had fresh clothes and dinner brought to them. Afterwards she gave
them six nobles apiece, and had them led out of the host in all safety.

Edward was choleric and stern in his choler, but judicious and politic.
He had sense enough to comprehend the impressions exhibited around him
and to take them into account. He had yielded to the free-spoken
representations of Walter de Manny and to the soft entreaties of his
royal wife. When he was master of Calais he did not suffer himself to be
under any illusion as to the sentiments of the population he had
conquered, and, without excluding the French from the town, he took great
care to mingle with them an English population. He had allowed a free
passage to the poor Calaisians driven out by famine; he now fetched from
London thirty-six burghers of position and three hundred others of
inferior condition, with their wives and children, and he granted to the
town thus depeopled and repeopled all such municipal and commercial
privileges as were likely to attract new inhabitants thither. But, at
the same time, he felt what renown and importance a devotion like that of
the six burghers of Calais could not fail to confer upon such men, and
not only did he trouble himself to get them back to their own hearths,
but on the 8th of October, 1347, two months after the surrender of
Calais, he gave Eustace de St. Pierre a considerable pension "on account
of the good services he was to render in the town by maintaining good
order there," and he re-instated him, him and his heirs, in possession of
the properties that had belonged to him. Eustace, more concerned for the
interests of his own town than for those of France, and being more of a
Calaisian burgher than a national patriot, showed no hesitation, for all
that appears, in accepting this new fashion of serving his native city,
for which he had shown himself so ready to die. He lived four years as a
subject of the King of England. At his death, which happened in 1351,
his heirs declared themselves faithful subjects of the King of France,
and Edward confiscated away from them the possessions he had restored to
their predecessor. Eustace de St. Pierre's cousin and comrade in
devotion to their native town, John d'Aire, would not enter Calais again;
his property was confiscated, and his house, the finest, it is said, in
the town, was given by King Edward to Queen Philippa, who showed no more
hesitation in accepting it than Eustace in serving his new king.
Long-lived delicacy of sentiment and conduct was rarer in those rough and
rude times than heroic bursts of courage and devotion.

Philip of Valois tried to afford some consolation and supply some remedy
for the misfortune of the Calaisians banished from their town. He
secured to them exemption from certain imposts, no matter whither they
removed, and the possession of all property and inheritances that might
fall to them, and he promised to confer upon them all vacant offices
which it might suit them to fill. But it was not in his gift to repair.
even superficially and in appearance, the evils he had not known how to
prevent or combat to any purpose. The outset of his reign had been
brilliant and prosperous; but his victory at Cassel over the Flemings
brought more cry than wool. He had vanity enough to flaunt it rather
than wit enough to turn it to account. He was a prince of courts, and
tournaments, and trips, and galas, whether regal or plebeian; he was
volatile, imprudent, haughty, and yet frivolous, brave without ability,
and despotic without anything to show for it. The battle of Crecy and
the loss of Calais were reverses from which he never even made a serious
attempt to recover; he hastily concluded with Edward a truce, twice
renewed, which served only to consolidate the victor's successes. A
calamity of European extent came as an addition to the distresses of
France. From 1347 to 1349 a frightful disease, brought from Egypt and
Syria through the ports of Italy, and called the black plague or the
plague of Florence, ravaged Western Europe, especially Provence and
Languedoc, where it carried off, they say, two thirds of the inhabitants.
Machiavelli and Boccaccio have described with all the force of their
genius the material and moral effects of this terrible plague. The court
of France suffered particularly from it, and the famous object of
Petrarch's tender sonnets, Laura de Noves, married to Hugh de Sade, fell
a victim to it at Avignon. When the epidemic had well nigh disappeared,
the survivors, men and women, princes and subjects, returned passionately
to their pleasures and their galas; to mortality, says a contemporary
chronicler, succeeded a rage for marriage; and Philip of Valois himself,
now fifty-eight years of age, took for his second wife Blanche of
Navarre, who was only eighteen. She was a sister of that young King of
Navarre, Charles II., who was soon to get the name of Charles the Bad,
and to become so dangerous an enemy for Philip's successors. Seven
months after his marriage, and on the 22d of August, 1350, Philip died at
Nogent-le-Roi in the Haute-Marne, strictly enjoining his son John to
maintain with vigor his well-ascertained right to the crown he wore, and
leaving his people bowed down beneath a weight "of extortions so heavy
that the like had never been seen in the kingdom of France."

Only one happy event distinguished the close of this reign. As early as
1343 Philip had treated, on a monetary basis, with Humbert II., Count and
Dauphin of Vienness, for the cession of that beautiful province to the
crown of France after the death of the then possessor. Humbert, an
adventurous and fantastic prince, plunged, in 1346, into a crusade
against the Turks, from which he returned in the following year without
having obtained any success. Tired of seeking adventures as well as of
reigning, he, on the 16th of July, 1349, before a solemn assembly held at
Lyons, abdicated his principality in favor of Prince Charles of France,
grandson of Philip of Valois, and afterwards Charles V. The new dauphin
took the oath, between the hands of the Bishop of Grenoble, to maintain
the liberties, franchises, and privileges of the Dauphiny; and the
ex-dauphin, after having taken holy orders and passed successively
through the Archbishopric of Rheims and the Bishopric of Paris, both of
which he found equally unpalatable, went to die at Clermont in Auvergne,
in a convent belonging to the order of Dominicans, whose habit he had
donned.

In the same year, on the 18th of April, 1349, Philip of Valois bought of
Jayme of Arragon, the last king of Majorca, for one hundred and twenty
thousand golden crowns, the lordship and town of Montpellier, thus trying
to repair to some extent, for the kingdom of France, the losses he had
caused it.

[Illustration: John II., called the Good----318]

His successor, John II., called the Good, on no other ground than that he
was gay, prodigal, credulous, and devoted to his favorites, did nothing
but reproduce, with aggravations, the faults and reverses of his father.
He had hardly become king when he witnessed the arrival in Paris of the
Constable of France, Raoul, Count of Eu and of Guines, whom Edward III.
had made prisoner at Caen, and who, after five years' captivity, had just
obtained, that is, purchased, his liberty. Raoul lost no time in
hurrying to the side of the new king, by whom he believed himself to be
greatly beloved. John, as soon as he perceived him, gave him a look,
saying, "Count, come this way with me; I have to speak with you aside."
"Right willingly, my lord." The king took him into an apartment, and
showing him a letter, asked, "Have you ever, count, seen this letter
anywhere but here?" The constable appeared astounded and troubled.
"Ah! wicked traitor," said the king, "you have well deserved death, and,
by my father's soul, it shall assuredly not miss you;" and he sent him
forthwith to prison in the tower of the Louvre. "The lords and barons of
France were sadly astonished," says Froissart, "for they held the count
to be a good man and true, and they humbly prayed the king that he would
be pleased to say wherefore he had imprisoned their cousin, so gentle a
knight, who had toiled so much and so much lost for him and for the
kingdom. But the king would not say anything, save that he would never
sleep so long as the Count of Guines was living; and he had him secretly
beheaded in the castle of the Louvre, whether rightly or wrongly; for
which the king was greatly blamed, behind his back, by many of the barons
of high estate in the kingdom of France, and the dukes and counts of the
border." Two months after this execution, John gave the office of
constable and a large portion of Count Raoul's property to his favorite,
Charles of Spain, a descendant of King Alphonso of Castille and
naturalized in France; and he added thereto before long some lands
claimed by the King of Navarre, Charles the Bad, a nickname which at
eighteen years of age he had already received from his Navarrese
subjects, but which had not prevented King John from giving him in
marriage his own daughter, Joan of France. From that moment a deep
hatred sprang up between the King of Navarre and the favorite. The
latter was sometimes disquieted thereby. "Fear nought from my son of
Navarre," said John; "he durst not vex you, for, if he did, he would have
no greater enemy than myself." John did not yet know his son-in-law.
Two years later, in 1354, his favorite, Charles of Spain, arrived at
Laigle in Normandy. The King of Navarre, having notice thereof,
instructed one of his agents, the Bastard de Mareuil, to go with a troop
of men-at-arms and surprise him in that town; and he himself remained
outside the walls, awaiting the result of his design. At break of day,
he saw galloping up the Bastard de Mareuil, who shouted to him from afar,
"'Tis done." "What is done?" asked Charles. "He is dead," answered
Mareuil. King John's favorite had been surprised and massacred in his
bed. John burst out into threats; he swore he would have vengeance, and
made preparations for war against his son-in-law. But the King of
England promised his support to the King of Navarre. Charles the Bad was
a bold and able intriguer; he levied troops and won over allies amongst
the lords; dread of seeing the recommencement of a war with England
gained ground; and amongst the people, and even in the king's council,
there was a cry of "Peace with the King of Navarre!" John took fright
and pretended to give up his ideas of vengeance; he received his son-in-
law, who thanked him on bended knee. But the king gave him never a word.
The King of Navarre, uneasy but bold as ever, continued his intrigues for
obtaining partisans and for exciting troubles and enmities against the
king. "I will have no master in France but myself," said John to his
confidant: "I shall have no joy so long as he is living." His eldest
son, the young Duke of Normandy, who was at a later period Charles V.,
had contracted friendly relations with the King of Navarre. On the 16th
of April, 1356, the two princes were together at a banquet in the castle
of Rouen, as well as the Count d'Harcourt and some other lords. All on a
sudden King John, who had entered the castle by a postern with a troop of
men-at-arms, strode abruptly into the hall, preceded by the Marshal
Arnoul d'Audenham, who held a naked sword in his hand, and said, "Let
none stir, whatever he may see, unless he wish to fall by this sword."
The king went up to the table; and all rose as if to do him reverence.
John seized the King of Navarre roughly by the arm, and drew him towards
him, saying, "Get up, traitor; thou art not worthy to sit at my son's
table; by my father's soul I cannot think of meat or drink so long as
thou art living." A servant of the King of Navarre, to defend his
master, drew his cutlass, and pointed it at the breast of the King of
France, who thrust him back, saying to his sergeants, "Take me this
fellow and his master too." The King of Navarre dissolved in humble
protestations and repentant speeches over the assassination of the
Constable Charles of Spain. "Go, traitor, go," answered John: "you will
need to learn good rede or some infamous trick to escape from me." The
young Duke of Normandy had thrown himself at the feet of the king his
father, crying, "Ah! my lord, for God's sake have mercy; you do me
dishonor; for what will be said of me, having prayed King Charles and his
barons to dine with me, if you do treat me thus? It will be said that I
betrayed them." "Hold your peace, Charles," answered his father: "you
know not all I know." He gave orders for the instant removal of the King
of Navarre, and afterwards of the Count d'Harcourt and three others of
those present under arrest. "Rid us of these men," said he to the
captain of the Ribalds, forming the soldiers of his guard; and the four
prisoners were actually beheaded in the king's presence outside Rouen, in
a field called the Field of Pardon. John was with great difficulty
prevailed upon not to mete out the same measure to the King of Navarre,
who was conducted first of all to Gaillard Castle, then to the tower of
the Louvre, and then to the prison of the Chatelet: "and there," says
Froissart, "they put him to all sorts of discomforts and fears, for every
day and every night they gave him to understand that his head would be
cut off at such and such an hour, or at such and such another he would be
thrown into the Seine . . . whereupon he spoke so finely and so softly
to his keepers that they who were so entreating him by the command of the
King of France had great pity on him."

With such violence, such absence of all legal procedure, such a mixture
of deceptive indulgence and thoughtless brutality, did King John treat
his son-in-law, his own daughter, some of his principal barons, their
relations, their friends, and the people with whom they were in good
credit. He compromised more and more seriously every day his own safety
and that of his successor, by vexing more and more, without destroying,
his most dangerous enemy. He showed no greater prudence or ability in
the government of his kingdom. Always in want of money, because he spent
it foolishly on galas or presents to his favorites, he had recourse, for
the purpose of procuring it, at one time to the very worst of all
financial expedients, debasement of the coinage; at another, to
disreputable imposts, such as the tax upon salt, and upon the sale of all
kinds of merchandise. In the single year of 1352 the value of a silver
mark varied sixteen times, from four livres ten sous to eighteen livres.
To meet the requirements of his government and the greediness of his
courtiers, John twice, in 1355 and 1356, convoked the states-general, to
the consideration of which we shall soon recur in detail, and which did
not refuse him their support; but John had not the wit either to make
good use of the powers with which he was furnished, or to inspire the
states-general with that confidence which alone could decide them upon
continuing their gifts. And, nevertheless, King John's necessities were
more evident and more urgent than ever: war with England had begun again.

The truth is that, in spite of the truce still existing, the English,
since the accession of King John, had at several points resumed
hostilities. The disorders and dissensions to which France was a prey,
the presumptuous and hare-brained incapacity of her new king, were, for
so ambitious and able a prince as Edward III., very strong temptations.
Nor did opportunities for attack, and chances of success, fail him any
more than temptations. He found in France, amongst the grandees of the
kingdom, and even at the king's court, men disposed to desert the cause
of the king and of France to serve a prince who had more capacity, and
who pretended to claim the crown of France as his lawful right. The
feudal system lent itself to ambiguous questions and doubts of
conscience: a lord who had two suzerains, and who, rightly or wrongly,
believed that he had cause of complaint against one of them, was
justified in serving that one who could and would protect him. Personal
interest and subtle disputes soon make traitors; and Edward had the
ability to discover them and win them over. The alternate outbursts and

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