Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 3 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

speaks [John Massieu, a priest, the same who in 1431 had been present as
usher of the court at the trial in which Joan was condemned] knows for
certain that at night she had her legs ironed in such sort that she could
not stir from the spot. When the next Sunday morning, which was Trinity
Sunday, had come, and she should have got up, according to what she
herself told to him who speaks, she said to her English guards, 'Uniron
me; I will get up.' Then one of then took away her woman's clothes; they
emptied the sack in which was her man's dress, and pitched the said dress
to her, saying, 'Get up, then,' and they put her woman's clothes in the
same sack. And according to what she told me she only clad herself in
her man's dress after saying, 'You know it is forbidden me; I certainly
will not take it.' Nevertheless they would not allow her any other;
insomuch that the dispute lasted to the hour of noon. Finally, from
corporeal necessity, Joan was constrained to get up and take the dress."

The official documents drawn up during the condemnation-trial contain
quite a different account. "On the 28th of May," it is there said,
"eight of the judges who had taken part in the sentence [their names are
given in the document, t. i. p. 454] betook themselves to Joan's prison,
and seeing her clad in man's dress, 'which she had but just given up
according to our order that she should resume woman's clothes, we asked
her when and for what cause she had resumed this dress, and who had
prevailed on her to do so. Joan answered that it was of her own will,
without any constraint from any one, and because she preferred that dress
to woman's clothes. To our question as to why she had made this change,
she answered, that, being surrounded by men, man's dress was more
suitable for her than woman's. She also said that she had resumed it
because there had been made to her, but not kept, a promise that she
should go to mass, receive the body of Christ, and be set free from her
fetters. She added that if this promise were kept, she would be good,
and would do what was the will of the Church. As we had heard some
persons say that she persisted in her errors as to the pretended
revelations which she had but lately renounced, we asked whether she had
since Thursday last heard the voices of St. Catherine and St. Margaret;
and she answered, Yes. To our question as to what the saints had said
she answered, that God had testified to her by their voices great pity
for the great treason she had committed in abjuring for the sake of
saving her life, and that by so doing she had damned herself. She said
that all she had thus done last Thursday in abjuring her visions and
revelations she had done through fear of the stake, and that all her
abjuration was contrary to the truth. She added that she did not herself
comprehend what was contained in the form of abjuration she had been made
to sign, and that she would rather do penance once for all by dying to
maintain the truth than remain any longer a prisoner, being all the while
a traitress to it."

We will not stop to examine whether these two accounts, though very
different, are not fundamentally reconcilable, and whether Joan resumed
man's dress of her own desire or was constrained to do so by the soldiers
on guard over her, and perhaps to escape from their insults. The
important points in the incident are the burst of remorse which Joan felt
for her weakness and her striking retractation of the abjuration which
had been wrung from her. So soon as the news was noised abroad, her
enemies cried, "She has relapsed!" This was exactly what they had hoped
for when, on learning that she had been sentenced only to perpetual
imprisonment, they had said, "Never you mind; we will have her up again."
"_Farewell, farewell_, my lord," said the Bishop of Beauvais to the Earl
of Warwick, whom he met shortly after Joan's retractation; and in his
words there was plainly an expression of satisfaction, and not a mere
phrase of politeness. On the 29th of May the tribunal met again. Forty
judges took part in the deliberation; Joan was unanimously declared a
case of relapse, was found guilty, and cited to appear next day, the
30th, on the Vieux-Marche to hear sentence pronounced, and then undergo
the punishment of the stake.

When, on the 30th of May, in the morning, the Dominican brother Martin
Ladvenu was charged to announce her sentence to Joan, she gave way at
first to grief and terror. "Alas!" she cried, "am I to be so horribly
and cruelly treated that this my body, full pure and perfect and never
defiled, must to-day be consumed and reduced to ashes! Ah! I would
seven times rather be beheaded than burned!" The Bishop of Beauvais at
this moment came up. "Bishop," said Joan, "you are the cause of my
death; if you had put me in the prisons of the Church and in the hands of
fit and proper ecclesiastical warders, this had never happened; I appeal
from you to the presence of God." One of the doctors who had sat in
judgment upon her, Peter Maurice, went to see her, and spoke to her with
sympathy. "Master Peter," said she to him, "where shall I be to-night?"
"Have you not good hope in God?" asked the doctor. "O! yes," she
answered; "by the grace of God I shall be in paradise." Being left alone
with the Dominican, Martin Ladvenu, she confessed and asked to
communicate. The monk applied to the Bishop of Beauvais to know what he
was to do. "Tell brother Martin," was the answer, "to give her the
eucharist and all she asks for." At nine o'clock, having resumed her
woman's dress, Joan was dragged from prison and driven to the Vieux-
Marche. From seven to eight hundred soldiers escorted the car and
prohibited all approach to it on the part of the crowd, which encumbered
the road and the vicinities; but a man forced a passage and flung himself
towards Joan. It was a canon of Rouen, Nicholas Loiseleur, whom the
Bishop of Beauvais had placed near her, and who had abused the confidence
she had shown him. Beside himself with despair, he wished to ask pardon
of her; but the English soldiers drove him back with violence and with
the epithet of traitor, and but for the intervention of the Earl of
Warwick his life would have been in danger. Joan wept and prayed; and
the crowd, afar off, wept and prayed with her. On arriving at the place,
she listened in silence to a sermon by one of the doctors of the court,
who ended by saying, "Joan, go in peace; the Church can no longer defend
thee; she gives thee over to the secular arm." The laic judges, Raoul
Bouteillier, baillie of Rouen, and his lieutenant, Peter Daron, were
alone qualified to pronounce sentence of death; but no time was given
them. The priest Massieu was still continuing his exhortations to Joan,
but "How now! priest," was the cry from amidst the soldiery, "are you
going to make us dine here?" "Away with her! Away with her!" said the
baillie to the guards; and to the executioner, "Do thy duty." When she
came to the stake, Joan knelt down completely absorbed in prayer. She
had begged Massieu to get her a cross; and an Englishman present made one
out of a little stick, and handed it to the French heroine, who took it,
kissed it, and laid it on her breast. She begged brother Isambard de la
Pierre to go and fetch the cross from the church of St. Sauveur, the
chief door of which opened on the Vieux-Marche, and to hold it "upright
before her eyes till the coming of death, in order," she said, "that the
cross whereon God hung might, as long as she lived, be continually in her
sight;" and her wishes were fulfilled. She wept over her country and the
spectators as well as over herself. "Rouen, Rouen," she cried, "is it
here that I must die? Shalt thou be my last resting-place? I fear
greatly thou wilt have to suffer for my death." It is said that the aged
Cardinal of Winchester and the Bishop of Beauvais himself could not
stifle their emotion--and, peradventure, their tears. The executioner
set fire to the fagots. When Joan perceived the flames rising, she urged
her confessor, the Dominican brother, Martin Ladvenu, to go down, at the
same time asking him to keep holding the cross up high in front of her,
that she might never cease to see it. The same monk, when questioned
four and twenty years later, at the rehabilitation trial, as to the last
sentiments and the last words of Joan, said that to the very latest
moment she had affirmed that her voices were heavenly, that they had not
deluded her, and that the revelations she had received came from God.
When she had ceased to live, two of her judges, John Alespie, canon of
Rouen, and Peter Maurice, doctor of theology, cried out, "Would that my
soul were where I believe the soul of that woman is!" And Tressart,
secretary to King Henry VI., said sorrowfully, on returning from the
place of execution, "We are all lost; we have burned a saint."

A saint indeed in faith and in destiny. Never was human creature more
heroically confident in, and devoted to, inspiration coming from God, a
commission received from God. Joan of Arc sought nothing of all that
happened to her and of all she did, nor exploit, nor power, nor glory.
"It was not her condition," as she used to say, to be a warrior, to get
her king crowned, and to deliver her country from the foreigner.
Everything came to her from on high, and she accepted everything without
hesitation, without discussion, without calculation, as we should say in
our times. She believed in God, and obeyed Him. God was not to her an
idea, a hope, a flash of human imagination, or a problem of human
science; He was the Creator of the world, the Saviour of mankind through
Jesus Christ, the Being of beings, ever present, ever in action, sole
legitimate sovereign of man whom He has made intelligent and free, the
real and true God whom we are painfully searching for in our own day, and
whom we shall never find again until we cease pretending to do without
Him and putting ourselves in His place. Meanwhile one fact may be
mentioned which does honor to our epoch and gives us hope for our future.
Four centuries have rolled by since Joan of Arc, that modest and heroic
servant of God, made a sacrifice of herself for France. For four and
twenty years after her death, France and the king appeared to think no
more of her. However, in 1455, remorse came upon Charles VII. and upon
France. Nearly all the provinces, all the towns, were freed from the
foreigner, and shame was felt that nothing was said, nothing done, for
the young girl who had saved everything. At Rouen, especially, where the
sacrifice was completed, a cry for reparation arose. It was timidly
demanded from the spiritual power which had sentenced and delivered over
Joan as a heretic to the stake. Pope Calixtus III. entertained the
request preferred, not by the King of France, but in the name of Isabel
Romee, Joan's mother, and her whole family. Regular proceedings were
commenced and followed up for the rehabilitation of the martyr; and, on
the 7th of July, 1456, a decree of the court assembled at Rouen quashed
the sentence of 1431, together with all its consequences, and ordered
"a general procession and solemn sermon at St. Ouen Place and the Vieux-
Marche," where the said maid had been cruelly and horribly burned; besides
the planting of a cross of honor (crucis honestee) on the Vieux-Marche,
the judges reserving the official notice to be given of their decision
"throughout the cities and notable places of the realm." The city of
Orleans responded to this appeal by raising on the bridge over the Loire
a group in bronze representing Joan of Arc on her knees before Our Lady
between two angels. This monument, which was broken during the religious
wars of the sixteenth century and repaired shortly afterwards, was
removed in the eighteenth century, and, Joan of Arc then received a fresh
insult; the poetry of a cynic was devoted to the task of diverting a
licentious public at the expense of the saint whom, three centuries
before, fanatical hatred had brought to the stake. In 1792 the council
of the commune of Orleans, "considering that the monument in bronze did
not represent the heroine's services, and did not by any sign call to
mind the struggle against the English," ordered it to be melted down and
cast into cannons, of which "one should bear the name of Joan of Arc."
It is in our time that the city of Orleans and its distinguished bishop,
Mgr. Dupanloup, have at last paid Joan homage worthy of her, not only by
erecting to her a new statue, but by recalling her again to the memory of
France with her true features, and in her grand character. Neither
French nor any other history offers a like example of a modest little
soul, with a faith so pure and efficacious, resting on divine inspiration
and patriotic hope.

During the trial of Joan of Arc the war between France and England,
without being discontinued, had been somewhat slack: the curiosity and
the passions of men were concentrated upon the scenes at Rouen. After
the execution of Joan the war resumed its course, though without any
great events. By way of a step towards solution, the Duke of Bedford, in
November, 1431, escorted to Paris King Henry VI., scarcely ten years old,
and had him crowned at Notre-Dame. The ceremony was distinguished for
pomp, but not for warmth. The Duke of Burgundy was not present; it was
an Englishman, the Cardinal-bishop of Winchester, who anointed the young
Englander King of France; the Bishop of Paris complained of it as a
violation of his rights; the parliament, the university, and the
municipal body had not even seats reserved at the royal banquet; Paris
was melancholy, and day by day more deserted by the native inhabitants;
grass was growing in the court-yards of the great mansions; the students
were leaving the great school of Paris, to which the Duke of Bedford at
Caen, and Charles VII. himself at Poitiers, were attempting to raise up
rivals; and silence reigned in the Latin quarter. The child-king was
considered unintelligent, and ungraceful, and ungracious. When, on the
day after Christmas, he started on his way back to Rouen, and from Rouen
to England, he did not confer on Paris "any of the boons expected, either
by releasing prisoners or by putting an end to black-mails, gabels, and
wicked imposts." The burgesses were astonished, and grumbled; and the
old queen, Isabel of Bavaria, who was still living at the hostel of St.
Paul, wept, it is said, for vexation, at seeing from one of her windows
her grandson's royal procession go by.

Though war was going on all the while, attempts were made to negotiate;
and in March, 1433, a conference was opened at Seineport, near Corbeil.
Everybody in France desired peace. Philip the Good himself began to feel
the necessity of it. Burgundy was almost as discontented and troubled as
Ile-de-France. There was grumbling at Dijon as there was conspiracy at
Paris. The English gave fresh cause for national irritation. They
showed an inclination to canton themselves in Normandy, and abandon the
other French provinces to the hazards and sufferings of a desultory war.
Anne of Burgundy, the Duke of Bedford's wife and Philip the Good's
sister, died. The English duke speedily married again without even
giving any notice to the French prince. Every family tie between the two
persons was broken; and the negotiations as well as the war remained
without result.

An incident at court caused a change in the situation, and gave the
government of Charles a different character. His favorite, George de la
Tremoille, had become almost as unpopular amongst the royal family as in
the country in general. He could not manage a war, and he frustrated
attempts at peace. The Queen of Sicily, Yolande d'Aragon, her daughter,
Mary d'Anjou, Queen of France, and her son, Louis, Count of Maine, who
all three desired peace, set themselves to work to overthrow the
favorite. In June, 1433, four young lords, one of whom, Sire de Beuil,
was La Tremoille's own nephew, introduced themselves unexpectedly into
his room at the castle of Coudray, near Chinon, where Charles VII. was.
La Tremoille showed an intention of resisting, and received a
sword-thrust. He was made to resign all his offices, and was sent under
strict guard to the castle of Alontresor, the property of his nephew,
Sire de Beuil. The conspirators had concerted measures with La
Tremoille's rival, the constable De Richemont, Arthur of Brittany, a man
distinguished in war, who had lately gone to help Joan of Arc, and who
was known to be a friend of peace at the same time that he was firmly
devoted to the national cause. He was called away from his castle of
Parthenay, and set at the head of the government as well as of the army.
Charles VII. at first showed anger at his favorite's downfall. He asked
if Richemont was present, and was told no: where-upon he seemed to grow
calmer. Before long he did more; he became resigned, and, continuing all
the while to give La Tremoille occasional proofs of his former favor, he
fully accepted De Richemont's influence and the new direction which the
constable imposed upon his government.

War was continued nearly everywhere, with alternations of success and
reverse which deprived none of the parties of hope without giving victory
to any. Peace, however, was more and more the general desire. Scarcely
had one attempt at pacification failed when another was begun. The
constable De Richemont's return to power led to fresh overtures. He was
a states-man as well as a warrior; and his inclinations were known at
Dijon and London, as well as at Chinon. The advisers of King Henry VI.
proposed to open a conference, on the 15th of October, 1433, at Calais.
They had, they said, a prisoner in England, confined there ever since the
battle of Agincourt, Duke Charles of Orleans, who was sincerely desirous
of peace, in spite of his family enmity towards the Duke of Burgundy. He
was considered a very proper person to promote the negotiations, although
he sought in poetry, which was destined to bring lustre to his name, a
refuge from politics which made his life a burden. He, one day meeting
the Duke of Burgundy's two ambassadors at the Earl of Suffolk's, Henry
VI.'s prime minister, went up to them, affectionately took their hands,
and, when they inquired after his health, said, "My body is well, my soul
is sick; I am dying with vexation at passing my best days a prisoner,
without any one to think of me." The ambassadors said that people would
be indebted to him for the benefit of peace, for he was known to be
laboring for it. "My Lord of Suffolk," said he, "can tell you that I
never cease to urge it upon the king and his council; but I am as useless
here as the sword never drawn from the scabbard. I must see my relatives
and friends in France; they will not treat, surely, without having
consulted with me. If peace depended upon me, though I were doomed to
die seven days after swearing it, that would cause me no regret.
however, what matters it what I say? I am not master in anything at all;
next to the two kings, it is the Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of
Brittany who have most power. Will you not come and call upon me?" he
added, pressing the hand of one of the ambassadors. "They will see you
before they go," said the Earl of Suffolk, in a tone which made it plain
that no private conversation would be permitted between them. And,
indeed, the Earl of Suffolk's barber went alone to wait upon the
ambassadors in order to tell them that, if the Duke of Burgundy desired
it, the Duke of Orleans would write to him. "I will undertake," he
added, "to bring you his letter." There was evident mistrust; and it was
explained to the Burgundian ambassadors by the Earl of Warwick's remark,
"Your duke never once came to see our king during his stay in France.
The Duke of Bedford used similar language to them. Why," said he, "does
my brother the Duke of Burgundy give way to evil imaginings against me?
There is not a prince in the world, after my king, whom I esteem so much.
The ill-will which seems to exist between us spoils the king's affairs
and his own too. But tell him that I am not the less disposed to serve

In March, 1435, the Duke of Burgundy went to Paris, taking with him his
third wife, Isabel of Portugal, and a magnificent following. There were
seen, moreover, in his train, a hundred wagons laden with artillery,
armor, salted provisions, cheeses, and wines of Burgundy. There was once
more joy in Paris, and the duke received the most affectionate welcome.
The university was represented before him, and made him a great speech on
the necessity of peace. Two days afterwards a deputation from the city
dames of Paris waited upon the Duchess of Burgundy, and implored her to
use her influence for the re-establishment of peace. She answered, "My
good friends, it is the thing I desire most of all in the world; I pray
for it night and day to the Lord our God, for I believe that we all have
great need of it, and I know for certain that my lord and husband has the
greatest willingness to give up to that purpose his person and his
substance." At the bottom of his soul Duke Philip's decision was already
taken. He had but lately discussed the condition of France with the
constable, De Richemont, and Duke Charles of Bourbon, his brother-in-law,
whom he had summoned to Nevers with that design. Being convinced of the
necessity for peace, he spoke of it to the King of England's advisers
whom he found in Paris, and who dared not show absolute opposition to it.
It was agreed that in the month of July a general, and, more properly
speaking, a European conference should meet at Arras, that the legates of
Pope Eugenius IV. should be invited to it, and that consultation should
be held thereat as to the means of putting an end to the sufferings of
the two kingdoms.

Towards the end of July, accordingly, whilst the war was being prosecuted
with redoubled ardor on both sides at the very gates of Paris, there
arrived at Arras the pope's legates and the ambassadors of the Emperor
Sigismund, of the Kings of Castile, Aragon, Portugal, Naples, Sicily,
Cyprus, Poland, and Denmark, and of the Dukes of Brittany and Milan. The
university of Paris and many of the good towns of France, Flanders, and
even Holland, had sent their deputies thither. Many bishops were there
in person. The Bishop of Liege came thither with a magnificent train,
mounted, says the chroniclers, on two hundred white horses. The Duke of
Burgundy made his entrance on the 30th of July, escorted by three hundred
archers wearing his livery. All the lords who happened to be in the city
went to meet him at a league's distance, except the cardinal-legates of
the pope, who confined themselves to sending their people. Two days
afterwards arrived the ambassadors of the King of France, having at their
head the Duke of Bourbon and the constable De Richemont, together with
several of the greatest French lords, and a retinue of four or five
hundred persons. Duke Philip, forewarned of their coming, issued from
the city with all the princes and lords who happened to be there. The
English alone refused to accompany him, wondering at his showing such
great honor to the ambassadors of their common enemy. Philip went
forward a mile to meet his two brothers-in-law, the Duke of Bourbon and
the Count de Richemont, embraced them affectionately, and turned back
with them into Arras, amidst the joy and acclamations of the populace.
Last of all arrived the Duchess of Burgundy, magnificently dressed, and
bringing with her her young son, the Count of Charolais, who was
hereafter to be Charles the Rash. The Duke of Bourbon, the constable De
Richemont, and all the lords were on horseback around her litter; but the
English, who had gone, like the others, to meet her, were unwilling, on
turning back to Arras, to form a part of her retinue with the French.

Grand as was the sight, it was not superior in grandeur to the event on
the eve of accomplishment. The question was whether France should remain
a great nation, in full possession of itself and of its independence
under a French king, or whether the King of England should, in London and
with the title of King of France, have France in his possession and under
his government. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, was called upon to
solve this problem of the future, that is to say, to decide upon the fate
of his lineage and his country.

[Illustration: Philip the Good of Burgundy----144]

As soon as the conference was opened, and no matter what attempts were
made to veil or adjourn the question, it was put nakedly. The English,
instead of peace, began by proposing a long truce, and the marriage of
Henry VI. with a daughter of King Charles. The French ambassadors
refused, absolutely, to negotiate on this basis; they desired a
definitive peace; and their conditions were, that the King and people of
England making an end of this situation, so full of clanger for the whole
royal house, and of suffering for the people. Nevertheless, the duke
showed strong scruples. The treaties he had sworn to, the promises he
had made, threw him into a constant fever of anxiety; he would not have
any one able to say that he had in any respect forfeited his honor. He
asked for three consultations, one with the Italian doctors connected
with the pope's legates, another with English doctors, and another with
French doctors. He was granted all three, though they were more
calculated to furnish him with arguments, each on their own side, than
to dissipate his doubts, if he had any real ones. The legates ended by
solemnly saying to him, "We do conjure you, by the bowels of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by the authority of our holy father, the pope, of the
holy council assembled at Bale, and of the universal Church, to renounce
that spirit of vengeance whereby you are moved against King Charles in
memory of the late Duke John, your father; nothing can render you more
pleasing in the eyes of God, or further augment your fame in this world."
For three days Duke Philip remained still undecided; but he heard that
the Duke of Bedford, regent of France on behalf of the English, who was
his brother-in-law, had just died at Rouen, on the 14th of September. He
was, besides the late King of England, Henry V., the only English-man who
had received promises from the duke, and who lived in intimacy with him.
Ten days afterwards, on the 21th of September, the queen, Isabel of
Bavaria, also died at Paris; and thus another of the principal causes of
shame to the French kingship, and misfortune to France, disappeared from
the stage of the world. Duke Philip felt himself more free and more at
rest in his mind, if not rightfully, at any rate so far as political and
worldly expedience was concerned. He declared his readiness to accept
the proposals which had been communicated to him by the ambassadors of
Charles VII.; and on the 21st of September, 1435, peace was signed at
Arras between France and Burgundy, without any care for what England
might say or do.

There was great and general joy in France. It was peace, and national
reconciliation as well; Dauphinizers and Burgundians embraced in the
streets; the Burgundians were delighted at being able to call themselves
Frenchmen. Charles VII. convoked the states-general at Tours, to
consecrate this alliance. On his knees, upon the bare stone, before the
Archbishop of Crete, who had just celebrated mass, the king laid his
hands upon the Gospels, and swore the peace, saying that "It was his duty
to imitate the King of kings, our divine Saviour, who had brought peace
amongst men." At the chancellor's order, the princes and great lords,
one after the other, took the oath; the nobles and the people of the
third estate swore the peace all together, with cries of "Long live the
king! Long live the Duke of Burgundy!" "With this hand," said Sire de
Lannoy, "I have thrice sworn peace during this war; but I call God to
witness that, for my part, this time it shall be kept, and that never
will I break it (the peace)." Charles VII., in his emotion, seized the
hands of Duke Philip's ambassadors, saying, "For a long while I have
languished for this happy day; we must thank God for it." And the Te
Deum was intoned with enthusiasm.

Peace was really made amongst Frenchmen; and, in spite of many internal
difficulties and quarrels, it was not broken as long as Charles VII. and
Duke Philip the Good were living. But the war with the English went on
incessantly. They still possessed several of the finest provinces of
France; and the treaty of Arras, which had weakened them very much on the
Continent, had likewise made them very angry. For twenty-six years, from
1435 to 1461, hostilities continued between the two kingdoms, at one time
actively and at another slackly, with occasional suspension by truce, but
without any formal termination. There is no use in recounting the
details of their monotonous and barren history. Governments and people
often persist in maintaining their quarrels and inflicting mutual
injuries by the instrumentality of events, acts, and actors that deserve
nothing but oblivion. There is no intention here of dwelling upon any
events or persons save such as have, for good or for evil, to its glory
or its sorrow, exercised a considerable influence upon the condition and
fortune of France.

The peace of Arras brought back to the service of France and her king the
constable De Richemont, Arthur of Brittany, whom the jealousy of George
de la Tremoille and the distrustful indolence of Charles VII. had so long
kept out of it. By a somewhat rare privilege, he was in reality, there
is reason to suppose, superior to the name he has left behind him in
history; and it is only justice to reproduce here the portrait given of
him by one of his contemporaries who observed him closely and knew him
well. "Never a man of his time," says William Gruet, "loved justice more
than he, or took more pains to do it according to his ability. Never was
prince more humble, more charitable, more compassionate, more liberal,
less avaricious, or more open-handed in a good fashion and without
prodigality. He was a proper man, chaste and brave as prince can be; and
there was none of his time of better conduct than lie in conducting a
great battle, or a great siege, and all sorts of approaches in all sorts
of ways. Every day, once at least in the four and twenty hours, his
conversation was of war, and he took more pleasure in it than in aught
else. Above all things he loved men of valor and good renown, and he
more than any other loved and supported the people, and freely did good
to poor mendicants and others of God's poor."

Nearly all the deeds of Richemont, from the time that he became powerful
again, confirm the truth of this portrait. His first thought and his
first labor were to restore Paris to France and to the king. The unhappy
city in subjection to the English was the very image of devastation and
ruin. "The wolves prowled about it by night, and there were in it," says
an eye-witness, "twenty-four thousand houses empty." The Duke of
Bedford, in order to get rid of these public tokens of misery, attempted
to supply the Parisians with bread and amusements (panem et circenses);
but their very diversions were ghastly and melancholy. In 1425, there
was painted in the sepulchre of the Innocents a picture called the Dance
of Death: Death, grinning with fleshless jaws, was represented taking by
the hand all estates of the population in their turn, and making them
dance. In the Hotel Armagnac, confiscated, as so many others were, from
its owner, a show was exhibited to amuse the people. "Four blind men,
armed with staves, were shut up with a pig in a little paddock. They had
to see whether they could kill the said pig, and when they thought they
were belaboring it most they were belaboring one another." The constable
resolved to put a stop to this deplorable state of things in the capital
of France. In April, 1433, when he had just ordered for himself
apartments at St. Denis, he heard that the English had just got in there
and plundered the church. He at once gave orders to march. The
Burgundians, who made up nearly all his troop, demanded their pay, and
would not mount. Richemont gave them his bond; and the march was begun
to St. Denis. "You know the country?" said the constable to Marshal
Isle-Adam. "Yes, my lord," answered the other; "and by my faith, in the
position held by the English, you would do nothing to harm or annoy them,
though you had ten thousand fighting men." "Ah! but we will," replied
Richemont; "God will help us. Keep pressing forward to support the
skirmishers." And he occupied St. Denis, and drove out the English. The
population of Paris, being informed of this success, were greatly moved
and encouraged. One brave burgess of Paris, Michel Laillier, master of
the exchequer, notified to the constable, it is said, that they were
ready and quite able to open one of the gates to him, provided that an
engagement were entered into in the king's name for a general amnesty and
the prevention of all disorder. The constable, on the king's behalf,
entered into the required engagement, and presented himself the next day,
the 13th of April, with a picked force before the St. Michel gate. The
enterprise was discovered. A man posted on the wall made signs to them
with his hat, crying out, "Go to the other gate; there's no opening this;
work is going on for you in the Market-quarter." The picked force
followed the course of the ramparts up to the St. Jacques gate. "Who
goes there?" demanded some burghers who had the guard of it. "Some of
the constable's people." He himself came up on his big charger, with
satisfaction and courtesy in his mien. Some little time was required for
opening the gate; a long ladder was let down; and Marshal Isle-Adam was
the first to mount, and planted on the wall the standard of France. The
fastenings of the drawbridge were burst, and when it was let down, the
constable made his entry on horseback, riding calmly down St. Jacques
Street, in the midst of a joyous and comforted crowd. "My good friends,"
he said to them, "the good King Charles, and I on his behalf, do thank
you a hundred thousand times for yielding up to him so quietly the chief
city of his kingdom. If there be amongst you any, of whatsoever
condition he may be, who hath offended against my lord 'the king, all is
forgiven, in the case both of the absent and the present."

[Illustration: The Constable Made his Entry on Horseback----150]

Then he caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet throughout the
streets that none of his people should be so bold, on pain of hanging, as
to take up quarters in the house of any burgher against his will, or to
use any reproach whatever, or do the least displeasure to any. At sight
of the public joy, the English had retired to the Bastille, where the
constable was disposed to besiege them. "My lord," said the burghers to
him, "they will surrender; do not reject their offer; it is so far a fine
thing enough to have thus recovered Paris; often, on the contrary, many
constables and many marshals have been driven out of it. Take
contentedly what God hath granted you." The burghers' prediction was not
unverified. The English sallied out of the Bastille by the gate which
opened on the fields, and went and took boat in the rear of the Louvre.
Next day abundance of provisions arrived in Paris; and the gates were
opened to the country folks. The populace freely manifested their joy at
being rid of the English. "It was plain to see," was the saving, "that
they were not in France to remain; not one of them had been seen to sow a
field with corn or build a house; they destroyed their quarters without a
thought of repairing them; they had not restored, peradventure, a single
fireplace. There was only their regent, the Duke of Bedford, who was
fond of building and making the poor people work; he would have liked
peace; but the nature of those English is to be always at war with their
neighbors, and accordingly they all made a bad end; thank God there have
already died in France more than seventy thousand of them."

Up to the taking of Paris by the constable the Duke of Burgundy had kept
himself in reserve, and had maintained a tacit neutrality towards
England; he had merely been making, without noisy demonstration,
preparations for an enterprise in which he, as Count of Flanders, was
very much interested. The success of Richemont inspired him with a hope,
and perhaps with a jealous desire, of showing his power and his
patriotism as a Frenchman by making war, in his turn, upon the English,
from whom he had by the treaty of Arras effected only a pacific
separation. In June, 1436, he went and besieged Calais. This was
attacking England at one of the points she was bent upon defending most
obstinately. Philip had reckoned on the energetic cooperation of the
cities of Flanders, and at the first blush the Flemings did display a
strong inclination to support him in his enterprise. "When the
English," they said, "know that my lords of Ghent are on the way to
attack them with all their might they will not await us; they will leave
the city and flee away to England." Neither the Flemings nor Philip had
correctly estimated the importance which was attached in London to the
possession of Calais. When the Duke of Gloucester, lord-protector of
England, found this possession threatened, he sent a herald to defy the
Duke of Burgundy and declare to him that, if he did not wait for battle
beneath the walls of Calais, Humphrey of Gloucester would go after him
even into his own dominions. "Tell your lord that he will not need to
take so much trouble, and that he will find me here," answered Philip
proudly. His pride was over-confident. Whether it were only a people's
fickleness or intelligent appreciation of their own commercial interests
in their relations with England, the Flemings grew speedily disgusted
with the siege of Calais, complained of the tardiness in arrival of the
fleet which Philip had despatched thither to close the port against
English vessels, and, after having suffered several reverses by sorties
of the English garrison, they ended by retiring with such precipitation
that they abandoned part of their supplies and artillery. Philip,
according to the expression of M. Henri Martin, was reduced to covering
their retreat with his cavalry; and then he went away sorrowfully to
Lille, to advise about the means of defending his Flemish lordships
exposed to the reprisals of the English.

Thus the fortune of Burgundy was tottering whilst that of France was
recovering itself. The constable's easy occupation of Paris led the
majority of the small places in the neighborhood, St. Denis, Chevreuse,
Marcoussis, and Montlhery to decide either upon spontaneous surrender or
allowing themselves to be taken after no great resistance. Charles VII.,
on his way through France to Lyon, in Dauphiny, Languedoc, Auvergne, and
along the Loire, recovered several other towns, for instance, Chateau-
Landon, Nemours, and Charny. He laid siege in person to Montereau, an
important military post with which a recent and sinister reminiscence was
connected. A great change now made itself apparent in the king's
behavior and disposition. He showed activity and vigilance, and was
ready to expose himself without any care for fatigue or danger. On the
day of the assault (10th of October, 1437) he went down into the
trenches, remained there in water up to his waist, mounted the scaling-
ladder sword in hand, and was one of the first assailants who penetrated
over the top of the walls right into the place. After the surrender of
the castle as well as the town of Montereau, he marched on Paris, and
made his solemn re-entry there on the 12th of November, 1437, for the
first time since in 1418 Tanneguy-Duchatel had carried him away, whilst
still a child, wrapped in his bed-clothes. Charles was received and
entertained as became a recovered and a victorious king; but he passed
only three weeks there, and went away once more, on the 3d of December,
to go and resume at Orleans first, and then at Bourges, the serious cares
of government. It is said to have been at this royal entry into Paris
that Agnes Sorel or Soreau, who was soon to have the name of Queen of
Beauty, and to assume in French history an almost glorious though
illegitimate position, appeared with brilliancy in the train of the
queen, Mary of Anjou, to whom the king had appointed her a maid of honor.
It is a question whether she did not even then exercise over Charles VII.
that influence, serviceable alike to the honor of the king and of France,
which was to inspire Francis I., a century later, with this gallant

"If to win back poor captive France be aught,
More honor, gentle Agnes, is thy weed,
Than ere was due to deeds of virtue wrought
By cloistered nun or pious hermit-breed."

It is worth while perhaps to remark that in 1437 Agnes Sorel was already

[Illustration: Agnes Sorel----175]

One of the best informed, most impartial, and most sensible historians of
that epoch, James Duclercq, merely says on this subject, King Charles,
before he had peace with Duke Philip of Burgundy, led a right holy life
and said his canonical hours. But after peace was made with the duke,
though the king continued to serve God, he joined himself unto a young
woman who was afterwards called Fair Agnes.

Nothing is gained by ignoring good even when it is found in company with
evil, and there is no intention here of disputing the share of influence
exercised by Agnes Sorel upon Charles VII.'s regeneration in politics and
war after the treaty of Arras. Nevertheless, in spite of the king's
successes at Montereau and during his passage through Central and
Northern France, the condition of the country was still so bad in 1440,
the disorder was so great, and the king so powerless to apply a remedy,
that Richemont, disconsolate, was tempted to rid and disburden himself
from the government of France and between the rivers [Seine and Loire, no
doubt] and to go or send to the king for that purpose. But one day the
prior of the Carthusians at Paris called on the constable and found him
in his private chapel. "What need you, fair father?" asked Richemont.
The prior answered that he wished to speak with my lord the constable.
Richemont replied that it was he himself. "Pardon me, my lord," said the
prior, "I did not know you; I wish to speak to you, if you please."
"Gladly," said Richemont. "Well, my lord, you yesterday held counsel and
considered about disburdening yourself from the government and office you
hold hereabouts." "How know you that? Who told you?" "My lord, I do
not know it through any person of your council, and do not put yourself
out to learn who told me, for it was one of my brethren. My lord, do not
do this thing; and be not troubled, for God will help you." "Ah! fair
father, how can that be? The king has no mind to aid me or grant me men
or money; and the men-at-arms hate me because I have justice done on
them, and they have no mind to obey me." "My lord, they will do what you
desire; and the king will give you orders to go and lay siege to Meaux,
and will send you men and money." "Ah! fair father, Meaux is so strong!
How can it be done? The King of England was there for nine months before
it." "My lord, be not you troubled; you will not be there so long; keep
having good hope in God and He will help you. Be ever humble and grow
not proud; you will take Meaux ere long; your men will grow proud; they
will then have somewhat to suffer; but you will come out of it to your

The good prior was right. Meaux was taken; and when the constable went
to tell the news at Paris the king made him "great cheer." There was a
continuance of war to the north of the Loire; and amidst many
alternations of successes and reverses the national cause made great way
there. Charles resolved, in 1442, to undertake an expedition to the
south of the Loire, in Aquitaine, where the English were still dominant;
and he was successful. He took from the English Tartas, Saint-Sever,
Marmande, La Reole, Blaye, and Bourg-sur-Mer. Their ally, Count John
d'Armagnac, submitted to the King of France. These successes cost
Charles VII. the brave La Hire, who died at Montauban of his wounds.
On returning to Normandy, where he had left Dunois, Charles, in 1443,
conducted a prosperous campaign there. The English leaders were getting
weary of a war without any definite issue; and they had proposals made to
Charles for a truce, accompanied with a demand on the part of their young
king, Henry VI., for the hand of a French princess, Margaret of Anjou,
daughter of King Rena, who wore the three crowns of Naples, Sicily, and
Jerusalem, without possessing any one of the kingdoms. The truce and the
marriage were concluded at Tours, in 1444. Neither of the arrangements
was popular in England; the English people, who had only a far-off touch
of suffering from the war, considered that their government made too many
concessions to France. In France, too, there was some murmuring; the
king, it was said, did not press his advantages with sufficient vigor;
everybody was in a hurry to see all Aquitaine reconquered. "But a joy
that was boundless and impossible to describe," says Thomas Bazin, the
most intelligent of the contemporary historians, "spread abroad through
the whole population of the Gauls. Having been a prey for so long to
incessant terrors, and shut up within the walls of their towns like
convicts in a prison, they rejoiced like people restored to freedom after
a long and bitter slavery. Companies of both sexes were seen going forth
into the country and visiting temples or oratories dedicated to the
saints, to pay the vows which they had made in their distress. One fact
especially was admirable and the work of God Himself: before the truce so
violent had been the hatred between the two sides, both men-at-arms and
people, that none, whether soldier or burgher, could without risk to life
go out and pass from one place to another unless under the protection of
a safe-conduct. But, so soon as the truce was proclaimed, every one went
and came at pleasure, in full liberty and security, whether in the same
district or in districts under divided rule; and even those who, before
the proclamation of the truce, seemed to take no pleasure in anything but
a savage outpouring of human blood, now took delight in the sweets of
peace, and passed the days in holiday-making and dancing with enemies who
but lately had been as bloodthirsty as themselves."

But for all their rejoicing at the peace, the French, king, lords, and
commons, had war still in their hearts; national feelings were waking up
afresh; the successes of late years had revived their hopes; and the
civil dissensions which were at that time disturbing England let
favorable chances peep out. Charles VII. and his advisers employed the
leisure afforded by the truce in preparing for a renewal of the struggle.
They were the first to begin it again; and from 1449 to 1451 it was
pursued by the French king and nation with ever-increasing ardor, and
with obstinate courage by the veteran English warriors astounded at no
longer being victorious. Normandy and Aquitaine, which was beginning to
be called Guyenne only, were throughout this period the constant and the
chief theatre of war. Amongst the greatest number of fights and
incidents which distinguished the three campaigns in those two provinces,
the recapture of Rouen by Dunois in October, 1449, the battle of
Formigny, won near Bayeux on the 15th of April, 1450, by the constable De
Richemont, and the twofold capitulation of Bordeaux, first on the 28th of
June, 1451, and next on the 9th of October, 1453, in order to submit to
Charles VII., are the only events to which a place in history is due, for
those were the days on which the question was solved touching the
independence of the nation and the kingship in France. The Duke of
Somerset and Lord Talbot were commanding in Rouen when Dunois presented
himself beneath its walls, in hopes that the inhabitants would open the
gates to him. Some burgesses, indeed, had him apprised of a certain
point in the walls at which they might be able to favor the entry of the
French. Dunois, at the same time making a feint of attacking in another
quarter, arrived at the spot indicated with four thousand men. The
archers drew up before the wall; the men-at-arms dismounted; the
burgesses gave the signal, and the planting of scaling-ladders began; but
when hardly as many as fifty or sixty men had reached the top of the wall
the banner and troops of Talbot were seen advancing. He had been warned
in time and had taken his measures. The assailants were repulsed; and
Charles VII., who was just arriving at the camp, seeing the abortiveness
of the attempt, went back to Pont-de-l'Arehe. But the English had no
long joy of their success. They were too weak to make any effectual
resistance, and they had no hope of any aid from England. Their leaders
authorized the burgesses to demand of the king a safe-conduct in order to
treat. The conditions offered by Charles were agreeable to the
burgesses, but not to the English; and when the archbishop read them
out in the hall of the mansion-house, Somerset and Talbot witnessed an
outburst of joy which revealed to them all their peril. Fagots and
benches at once began to rain down from the windows; the English shut
themselves up precipitately in the castle, in the gate-towers, and in the
great tower of the bridge; and the burgesses armed themselves and took
possession during the night of the streets and the walls. Dunois, having
received notice, arrived in force at the Martainville gate. The
inhabitants begged him to march into the city as many men as he pleased.
"It shall be as you will," said Dunois. Three hundred men-at-arms and
archers seemed sufficient. Charles VII returned before Rouen; the
English asked leave to withdraw without loss of life or kit; and "on
condition," said the king "that they take nothing on the march without
paying." "We have not the wherewithal," they answered; and the king gave
them a hundred francs. Negotiations were recommenced. The king required
that Harfleur and all the places in the district of Caux should be given
up to him. "Ah! as for Harfleur, that cannot be," said the Duke of
Somerset; "it is the first town which surrendered to our glorious king,
Henry V., thirty-five years ago." There was further parley. The French
consented to give up the demand for Harfleur; but they required that
Talbot should remain as a hostage until the conditions were fulfilled.
The English protested. At last, however, they yielded, and undertook to
pay fifty thousand golden crowns to settle all accounts which they owed
to the tradesmen in the city, and to give up all places in the district
of Caen except Harfleur. The Duchess of Somerset and Lord Talbot
remained as hostages; and on the 10th of November, 1449, Charles entered
Rouen in state, with the character of a victor who knew how to use
victory with moderation.

The battle of Formigny was at first very doubtful. In order to get from
Valognes to Bayeux and Caen the English had to cross at the mouth of the
Vire great sands which were passable only at low tide. A weak body of
French under command of the Count de Clermont had orders to cut them off
from this passage. The English, however, succeeded in forcing it; but
just as they were taking position, with the village of Formigny to cover
their rear, the constable De Richemont was seen coming up with three
thousand men in fine order. The English were already strongly
intrenched, when the battle began. "Let us go and look close in their
faces, admiral," said the constable to Sire de Coetivi. "I doubt whether
they will leave their intrenchments," replied the admiral. "I vow to God
that with His grace they will not abide in them," rejoined the
constable; and he gave orders for the most vigorous assault. It lasted
nearly three hours; the English were forced to fly at three points, and
lost thirty-seven hundred men; several of their leaders were made
prisoners; those who were left retired in good order; Bayeux, Avranches,
Caen, Falaise, and Cherbourg fell one after the other into the hands of
Charles VII.; and by the end of August, 1450, the whole of Normandy had
been completely won back by France.

The conquest of Guyenne, which was undertaken immediately after that of
Normandy, was at the outset more easy and more speedy. Amongst the lords
of Southern France several hearty patriots, such as John of Blois, Count
of Perigord, and Arnold Amanieu, Sire d'Albret, of their own accord began
the strife, and on the 1st of November, 1450, inflicted a somewhat severe
reverse upon the English, near Blanquefort. In the spring of the
following year Charles VII. authorized the Count of Armagnac to take the
field, and sent Dunois to assume the command-in-chief. An army of twenty
thousand men mustered under his orders; and, in the course of May, 1451,
some of the principal places of Guyenne, such as St. Emillon, Blaye,
Fronsac, Bourg-en-Mer, Libourne, and Dax were taken by assault or
capitulated. Bordeaux and Bayonne held out for some weeks; but, on the
12th of June, a treaty concluded between the Bordelese and Dunois secured
to the three estates of the district the liberties and privileges which
they had enjoyed under English supremacy; and it was further stipulated
that, if by the 24th of June the city had not been succored by English
forces, the estates of Guyenne should recognize the sovereignty of King
Charles. When the 24th of June came, a herald went up to one of the
towers of the castle and shouted, "Succor from the King of England for
them of Bordeaux!!" None replied to this appeal; so Bordeaux
surrendered, and on the 29th of June Dunois took possession of it in the
name of the King of France. The siege of Bayonne, which was begun on the
6th of August, came to an end on the 20th by means of a similar treaty.
Guyenne was thus completely won. But the English still had a
considerable following there. They had held it for three centuries;
and they had always treated it well in respect of local liberties,
agriculture, and commerce. Charles VII., on recovering it, was less
wise. He determined to establish there forthwith the taxes, the laws,
and the whole regimen of Northern France; and the Bordelese were as
prompt in protesting against these measures as the king was in employing
them. In August, 1452, a deputation from the three estates of the
province waited upon Charles at Bourges, but did not obtain their
demands. On their return to Bordeaux an insurrection was organized; and
Peter de Montferrand, Sire de Lesparre, repaired to London and proposed
to the English government to resume possession of Guyenne. On the 22d of
October, 1452, Talbot appeared before Bordeaux with a body of five
thousand men; the inhabitants opened their gates to him; and he installed
himself there as lieutenant of the King of England, Henry VI. Nearly all
the places in the neighborhood, with the exception of Bourg and Blaye,
returned beneath the sway of the English; considerable reenforcements
were sent to Talbot from England; and at the same time an English fleet
threatened the coast of Normandy. But Charles VII. was no longer the
blind and indolent king he had been in his youth. Nor can the prompt and
effectual energy he displayed in 1453 be any longer attributed to the
influence of Agnes Sorel, for she died on the 9th of February, 1450.
Charles left Richemont and Dunois to hold Normandy; and, in the early
days of spring, moved in person to the south of France with a strong army
and the principal Gascon lords who two years previously had brought
Guyenne back under his power. On the 2d of June, 1453, he opened the
campaign at St. Jean-d'Angely. Several places surrendered to him as soon
as he appeared before their walls; and on the 13th of July he laid siege
to Castillon, on the Dordogne, which had shortly before fallen into the
hands of the English. The Bordelese grew alarmed and urged Talbot to
oppose the advance of the French. "We may very well let them come nearer
yet," said the old warrior, then eighty years of age; "rest assured that,
if it please God, I will fulfil my promise when I see that the time and
the hour have come."

On the night between the 16th and 17th of July, however, Talbot set out
with his troops to raise the siege of Castillon. He marched all night
and came suddenly in the early morning upon the French archers, quartered
in an abbey, who formed the advanced guard of their army, which was
strongly intrenched before the place. A panic set in amongst this small
body, and some of them took to flight. "Ha! you would desert me then?"
said Sire de Rouault, who was in command of them; "have I not promised
you to live and die with you?" They thereupon rallied and managed to
join the camp. Talbot, content for the time with this petty success,
sent for a chaplain to come and say mass; and, whilst waiting for an
opportunity to resume the fight, he permitted the tapping of some casks
of wine which had been found in the abbey, and his men set themselves to
drinking. A countryman of those parts came hurrying up, and said to
Talbot, "My lord, the French are deserting their park and taking to
flight; now or never is the hour for fulfilling your promise." Talbot
arose and left the mass, shouting, "Never may I hear mass again if I put
not to rout the French who are in yonder park." When he arrived in front
of the Frenchmen's intrenchment, "My lord," said Sir Thomas Cunningham,
an aged gentleman who had for a long time past been his standard-bearer,
"they have made a false report to you; observe the depth of the ditch and
the faces of yonder men; they don't look like retreating; my opinion is,
that for the present we should turn back; the country is for us, we have
no lack of provisions, and with a little patience we shall starve out the
French." Talbot flew into a passion, gave Sir Thomas a sword-cut across
the face, had his banner planted on the edge of the ditch, and began the
attack. The banner was torn down and Sir Thomas Cunningham killed.
"Dismount!" shouted Talbot to his men-at-arms, English and Gascon. The
French camp was defended by a more than usually strong artillery; a body
of Bretons, held in reserve, advanced to sustain the shock of the
English; and a shot from a culverin struck Talbot, who was already
wounded in the face, shattered his thigh, and brought him to the ground.
Lord Lisle, his son, flew to him to raise him. "Let me be," said Talbot;
"the day is the enemies'; it will be no shame for thee to fly, for this
is thy first battle." But the son remained with his father, and was
slain at his side. The defeat of the English was complete. Talbot's
body, pierced with wounds, was left on the field of battle. He was so
disfigured that, when the dead were removed, he was not recognized.
Notice, however, was taken of an old man wearing a cuirass covered with
red velvet; this, it was presumed, was he; and he was placed upon a
shield and carried into the camp. An English herald came with a request
that he might look for Lord' Talbot's body. "Would you know him?" he was
asked. "Take me to see him," joyfully answered the poor servant,
thinking that his master was a prisoner and alive. When he saw him, he
hesitated to identify him; he knelt down, put his finger in the mouth of
the corpse, and recognized Talbot by the loss of a molar tooth. Throwing
off immediately his coat-of-arms with the colors and bearings of Talbot,
"Ah! my lord and master," he cried, "can this be verily you? May God
forgive your sins! For forty years and more I have been your
officer-at-arms and worn your livery, and thus I give it back to you!"
And he covered with his coat-of-arms the stark-stripped body of the
old hero.

The English being beaten and Talbot dead, Castillon surrendered; and at
unequal intervals Libourne, St. Emillon, Chateau-Neuf de Medoc,
Blanquefort, St. Macaire, Cadillac, &c., followed the example. At the
commencement of October, 1453, Bordeaux alone was still holding out. The
promoters of the insurrection which had been concerted with the English,
amongst others Sires de Duras and de Lesparre, protracted the resistance
rather in their own self-defence than in response to the wishes of the
population; the king's artillery threatened the place by land, and by sea
a king's fleet from Rochelle and the ports of Brittany blockaded the
Gironde. "The majority of the king's officers," says the contemporary
historian, Thomas Basin, "advised him to punish by at least the
destruction of their walls the Bordelese who had recalled the English to
their city; but Charles, more merciful and more soft-hearted, refused."
He confined himself to withdrawing from Bordeaux her municipal
privileges, which, however, she soon partially recovered, and to imposing
upon her a fine of a hundred thousand gold crowns, afterwards reduced to
thirty thousand; he caused to be built at the expense of the city two
fortresses, the Fort of the Ila and the Castle of Trompette, to keep in
check so bold and fickle a population; and an amnesty was proclaimed for
all but twenty specified persons, who were banished. On these conditions
the capitulation was concluded and signed on the 17th of October; the
English re-embarked; and Charles, without entering Bordeaux, returned to
Touraine. The English had no longer any possession in France but Calais
and Guines; the Hundred Years' War was over.

And to whom was the glory?

Charles VII. himself decided the question. When in 1455, twenty-four
years after the death of Joan of Are, he at Rome and at Rouen prosecuted
her claims for restoration of character and did for her fame and her
memory all that was still possible, he was but relieving his conscience
from a load of ingratitude and remorse which in general weighs but
lightly upon men, and especially upon kings; and he was discharging
towards the Maid of Domremy the debt due by France and the French
kingship when he thus proclaimed that to Joan above all they owed their
deliverance and their independence. Before men and before God Charles
was justified in so thinking; the moral are not the sole, but they are
the most powerful forces which decide the fates of people; and Joan had
roused the feelings of the soul, and given to the struggles between
France and England its religious and national character. At Rheims, when
she repaired thither for the king's coronation, she said of her own
banner, "It has a right to the honor, for it has been at the pains."
She, first amongst all, had a right to the glory, for she had been the
first to contribute to the success.

Next to Joan of Arc, the constable De Richemont was the most effective
and the most glorious amongst the liberators of France and of the king.
He was a strict and stern warrior, unscrupulous and pitiless towards his
enemies, especially towards such as he despised, severe in regard to
himself, dignified in his manners, never guilty of swearing himself and
punishing swearing as a breach of discipline amongst the troops placed
under his orders. Like a true patriot and royalist, he had more at heart
his duty towards France and the king than he had his own personal
interests. He was fond of war, and conducted it bravely and skilfully,
without rashness, but without timidity: "Wherever the constable is," said
Charles VII., "there I am free from anxiety; he will do all that is
possible!" He set his title and office of constable of France above his
rank as a great lord; and when, after the death of his brother, Duke
Peter II., he himself became Duke of Brittany, he always had the
constable's sword carried before him, saying, "I wish to honor in my old
age a function which did me honor in my youth." His good services were
not confined to the wars of his time; he was one of the principal
reformers of the military system in France by the substitution of regular
troops for feudal service. He has not obtained, it is to be feared, in
the history of the fifteenth century, the place which properly belongs to

Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, and Marshals De Boussac and De La Fayette
were, under Charles VII., brilliant warriors and useful servants of the
king and of Fiance; but, in spite of their knightly renown, it is
questionable if they can be reckoned, like the constable De Richemont,
amongst the liberators of national independence. There are degrees of
glory, and it is the duty of history not to distribute it too readily and
as it were by handfuls.

Besides all these warriors, we meet, under the sway of Charles VII., at
first in a humble capacity and afterwards at his court, in his diplomatic
service and sometimes in his closest confidence, a man of quite a
different origin and quite another profession, but one who nevertheless
acquired by peaceful toil great riches and great influence, both brought
to a melancholy termination by a conviction and a consequent ruin from
which at the approach of old age he was still striving to recover by
means of fresh ventures. Jacques Coeur was born at Bourges at the close
of the fourteenth century. His father was a furrier, already
sufficiently well established and sufficiently rich to allow of his son's
marrying, in 1418, the provost's daughter of his own city. Some years
afterwards Jacques Coeur underwent a troublesome trial for infraction of
the rules touching the coinage of money; but thanks to a commutation of
the penalty, graciously accorded by Charles VII., he got off with a fine,
and from that time forward directed all his energies towards commerce.
In 1432 a squire in the service of the Duke of Burgundy was travelling in
the Holy Land, and met him at Damascus in company with several Venetians,
Genoese, Florentine, and Catalan traders with whom he was doing
business. "He was," says his contemporary, Thomas Basin, "a man
unlettered and of plebeian family, but of great and ingenious mind, well
versed in the practical affairs of that age. He was the first in all
France to build and man ships which transported to Africa and the East
woollen stuffs and other produce of the kingdom, penetrated as far as
Egypt, and brought back with them silken stuffs and all manner of spices,
which they distributed not only in France, but in Catalonia and the
neighboring countries, whereas heretofore it was by means of the
Venetians, the Genoese, or the Barcelonese that such supplies found their
way into France."

[Illustration: Jacques Coeur----165]

Jacques Coeur, temporarily established at Montpellier, became a great and
a celebrated merchant. In 1433 Charles VII. put into his hands the
direction of the mint at Paris, and began to take his advice as to the
administration of the crown's finances. In 1440 he was appointed
moneyman to the king, ennobled together with his wife and children,
commissioned soon afterwards to draw up new regulations for the
manufacture of cloth at Bourges, and invested on his own private account
with numerous commercial privileges. He had already at this period, it
was said, three hundred manufacturing hands in his employment, and he was
working at the same time silver, lead, and copper mines situated in the
environs of Tarare and Lyons. Between 1442 and 1446 he had one of his
nephews sent as ambassador to Egypt, and obtained for the French consuls
in the Levant the same advantages as were enjoyed by those of the most
favored nations. Not only his favor in the eyes of the king, but his
administrative and even his political appointments, went on constantly
increasing. Between 1444 and 1446 the king several times named him one
of his commissioners to the estates of Languedoc and for the installation
of the new parliament of Toulouse. In 1446 he formed one of an embassy
sent to Italy to try and acquire for France the possession of Genoa,
which was harassed by civil dissensions. In 1447 he received from
Charles VII. a still more important commission, to bring about an
arrangement between the two popes elected, one under the name of Felix
V., and the other under that of Nicholas V.; and he was successful. His
immense wealth greatly contributed to his influence. M. Pierre Clement
[Jacques Coeur et Charles WE, ou la France au quinzieme siecle; t. ii.,
pp. 1-46] has given a list of thirty-two estates and lordships which
Jacques Coeur had bought either in Berry or in the neighboring provinces.
He possessed, besides, four mansions and two hostels at Lyons; mansions
at Beaucaire, at Beziers, at St. Pourcain, at Marseilles, and at
Montpellier; and he had built, for his own residence, at Bourges, the
celebrated hostel which still exists as an admirable model of Gothic and
national art in the fifteenth century, attempting combination with the
art of Italian renaissance.

[Illustration: Jacques Coeur's Hostel at Bourges----169]

M. Clement, in his table of Jacques Coeur's wealth does not count either
the mines which he worked at various spots in France, nor the vast
capital, unknown, which he turned to profit in his commercial
enterprises; but, on the other hand, he names, with certain et ceteras,
forty-two court-personages, or king's officers, indebted to Jacques Coeur
for large or small sums he had lent them. We will quote but two
instances of Jacques Coeur's financial connection, not with courtiers,
however, but with the royal family and the king himself. Margaret of
Scotland, wife of the _dauphin_, who became Louis XI., wrote with her own
hand, on the 20th of July, 1445, "We, Margaret, dauphiness of Viennois,
do acknowledge to have received from Master Stephen Petit, secretary of
my lord the king, and receiver-general of his finances for Languedoc and
Guienne, two thousand livres of Tours, to us given by my said lord, and
to us advanced by the hands of Jacques Coeur, his moneyman, we being but
lately in Lorraine, for to get silken stuff and sables to make robes for
our person." In 1449, when Charles VII. determined to drive the English
from Normandy, his treasury was exhausted, and he had recourse to Jacques
Coeur. "Sir," said the trader to the king, "what I have is yours," and
lent him two hundred thousand crowns; "the effect of which was," says
Jacques Duclercq, "that during, this conquest, all the men-at-arms of the
King of France, and all those who were in his service, were paid their
wages month by month."

An original document, dated 1450, which exists in the "cabinet des
titres" of the National Library, bears upon it a receipt for sixty
thousand livres from Jacques Coeur to the king's receiver-general in
Normandy, "in restitution of the like sum lent by me in ready money to
the said lord in the month of August last past, on occasion of the
surrendering to his authority of the towns and castle of Cherbourg, at
that time held by the English, the ancient enemies of this realm." It
was probably a partial repayment of the two hundred thousand crowns lent
by Jacques Coeur to the king at this juncture, according to all the
contemporary chroniclers.

Enormous and unexpected wealth excites envy and suspicion at the same
time that it confers influence; and the envious before long become
enemies. Sullen murmurs against Jacques Coeur were raised in the king's
own circle; and the way in which he had begun to make his fortune--the
coinage of questionable money--furnished some specious ground for them.
There is too general an inclination amongst potentates of the earth to
give an easy ear to reasons, good or bad, for dispensing with the
gratitude and respect otherwise due to those who serve them. Charles
VII., after having long been the patron and debtor of Jacques Coeur, all
at once, in 1451, shared the suspicions aroused against him. To
accusations of grave abuses and malversations in money matters was added
one of even more importance. Agnes Sorel had died eighteen months
previously (February 9, 1450); and on her death-bed she had appointed
Jacques Coeur one of the three executors of her will. In July, 1451,
Jacques was at Taillebourg, in Guyenne, whence he wrote to his wife that
"he was in as good case and was as well with the king as ever he had
been, whatever anybody might say." Indeed, on the 22d of July Charles
VII. granted him a "sum of seven hundred and seventy-two livres of Tours
to help him to keep up his condition and to be more honorably equipped
for his service;" and, nevertheless, on the 31st of July, on the
information of two persons of the court, who accused Jacques Coeur of
having poisoned Agnes Sorel, Charles ordered his arrest and the seizure
of his goods, on which he immediately levied a hundred thousand crowns
for the purposes of the war. Commissioners extraordinary, taken from
amongst the king's grand council, were charged to try him; and Charles
VII. declared, it is said, that "if the said moneyman were not found
liable to the charge of having poisoned or caused to be poisoned Agnes
Sorel, he threw up and forgave all the other cases against him." The
accusation of poisoning was soon acknowledged to be false, and the two
informers were condemned as calumniators; but the trial was,
nevertheless, proceeded with. Jacques Coeur was accused "of having sold
arms to the infidels, of having coined light crowns, of having pressed on
board of his vessels, at Montpellier, several individuals, of whom one
had thrown himself into the sea from desperation, and lastly of having
appropriated to himself presents made to the king, in several towns of
Languedoc, and of having practised in that country frequent exaction, to
the prejudice of the king as well as of his subjects." After twenty-two
months of imprisonment, Jacques Coeur, on the 29th of May, 1453, was
convicted, in the king's name, on divers charges, of which several
entailed a capital penalty; but "whereas Pope Nicholas V. had issued a
rescript and made request in favor of Jacques Coeur, and regard also
being had to services received from him," Charles VII. spared his life,
"on condition that he should pay to the king a hundred thousand crowns by
way of restitution, three hundred thousand by way of fine, and should be
kept in prison until the whole claim was satisfied;" and the decree ended
as follows: "We have declared and do declare all the goods of the said
Jacques Coeur confiscated to us, and we have banished and do banish this
Jacques Coeur forever from this realm, reserving thereanent our own good

After having spent nearly three years more in prison, transported from
dungeon to dungeon, Jacques Coeur, thanks to the faithful and zealous
affection of a few friends, managed to escape from Beaucaire, to embark
at Nice and to reach Rome, where Pope Nicholas V. welcomed him with
tokens of lively interest. Nicholas died shortly afterwards, just when
he was preparing an expedition against the Turks. His successor,
Calixtus III., carried out his design, and equipped a fleet of sixteen
galleys. This fleet required a commander of energy, resolution, and
celebrity. Jacques Coeur had lived and fought with Dunois, Xaintrailles,
La Hire, and the most valiant French captains; he was known and popular
in Italy and the Levant; and the pope appointed him captain-general of
the expedition. Charles VII.'s moneyman, ruined, convicted, and banished
from France, sailed away at the head of the pope's squadron and of some
Catalan pirates to carry help against the Turks to Rhodes, Chios, Lesbos,
Lemnos, and the whole Grecian archipelago. On arriving at Chios, in
November, 1456, he fell ill there, and perceiving his end approaching,
he wrote to his king "to commend to him his children, and to beg that,
considering the great wealth and honors he had in his time enjoyed in the
king's service, it might be the king's good pleasure to give something to
his children, in order that they, even those of them who were secular,
might be able to live honestly, without coming to want." He died at
Chits on the 25th of November, 1456, and, according to the historian John
d'Auton, who had probably lived in the society of Jacques Coeur's
children, "he remained interred in the church of the Cordeliers in that
island, at the centre of the choir."

We have felt bound to represent with some detail the active and energetic
life, prosperous for a long while and afterwards so grievous and
hazardous up to its very last day, of this great French merchant at the
close of the middle ages, who was the first to extend afar in Europe,
Africa, and Asia the commercial relations of France, and, after the
example of the great Italian merchants, to make an attempt to combine
politics with commerce, and to promote at one and the same time the
material interests of his country and the influence of his government.
There can be no doubt but that Jacques Coeur was unscrupulous and
frequently visionary as a man of business; but, at the same time, he was
inventive, able, and bold, and, whilst pushing his own fortunes to the
utmost, he contributed a great deal to develop, in the ways of peace, the
commercial, industrial, diplomatic, and artistic enterprise of France.
In his relations towards his king, Jacques Coeur was to Charles VII. a
servant often over-adventurous, slippery, and compromising, but often
also useful, full of resource, efficient, and devoted in the hour of
difficulty. Charles VII. was to Jacques Coeur a selfish and ungrateful
patron, who contemptuously deserted the man whose brains he had sucked,
and ruined him pitilessly after having himself contributed to enrich him

We have now reached the end of events under this long reign; all that
remains is to run over the substantial results of Charles VII.'s
government, and the melancholy imbroglios of his latter years with his
son, the turbulent, tricky, and wickedly able born-conspirator, who was
to succeed him under the name of Louis XI.

One fact is at the outset to be remarked upon; it at the first blush
appears singular, but it admits of easy explanation. In the first
nineteen years of his reign, from 1423 to 1442, Charles VII. very
frequently convoked the states-general, at one time of Northern France,
or Langue d'oil, at another of Southern France, or Langue d'oc.
Twenty-four such assemblies took place during this period at Bourges,
at Selles in Berry, at Le Puy in Velay, at Mean-sur-Yevre, at Chinon,
at Sully-sur-Loire, at Tours, at Orleans, at Nevers, at Carcassonne,
and at different spots in Languedoc. It was the time of the great war
between France on the one side and England and Burgundy allied on the
other, the time of intrigues incessantly recurring at court, and the time
likewise of carelessness and indolence on the part of Charles VII., more
devoted to his pleasures than regardful of his government. He had
incessant need of states-general to supply him with money and men, and
support him through the difficulties of his position. But when, dating
from the peace of Arras (September 21, 1435), Charles VII., having become
reconciled with the Duke of Burgundy, was deliverer from civil war, and
was at grips with none but England alone already half beaten by the
divine inspiration, the triumph, and the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, his
posture and his behavior underwent a rare transformation. Without
ceasing to be coldly selfish and scandalously licentious king he became
practical, hard-working, statesman-like king, jealous and disposed to
govern by himself, but at the same time watchful and skilful in availing
himself of the able advisers who, whether it were by a happy accident or
by his own choice, were grouped around him. "He had his days and hours
for dealing with all sorts of men, one hour with the clergy, another with
the nobles, another with foreigners, another with mechanical folks,
armorers, and gunners; and in respect of all these persons he had a full
remembrance of their cases and their appointed day. On Monday, Tuesday,
and Thursday he worked with the chancellor, and got through all claims
connected with justice. On Wednesday he first of all gave audience to
the marshals, captains, and men of war. On the same day he held a
council of finance, independently of another council which was also held
on the same subject every Friday." It was by such assiduous toil that
Charles VII., in concert with his advisers, was able to take in hand and
accomplish, in the military, financial, and judicial system of the realm,
those bold and at the same time prudent reforms which wrested the country
from the state of disorder, pillage, and general insecurity to which it
had been a prey, and commenced the era of that great monarchical
administration, which, in spite of many troubles and vicissitudes, was
destined to be, during more than three centuries, the government of
France. The constable De Richemont and marshal De la Fayette were, in
respect of military matters, Charles VII.'s principal advisers; and it
was by their counsel and with their co-operation that he substituted for
feudal service and for the bands of wandering mercenaries (routiers),
mustered and maintained by hap-hazard, a permanent army, regularly
levied, provided for, paid, and commanded, and charged with the duty of
keeping order at home, and at the same time subserving abroad the
interests and policy of the state. In connection with, and as a natural
consequence of this military system, Charles VII., on his own sole
authority, established certain permanent imposts with the object of
making up any deficiency in the royal treasury, whilst waiting for a vote
of such taxes extraordinary as might be demanded of the states-general.
Jacques Coeur, the two brothers Bureau, Martin Gouge, Michel Lailler,
William Cousinot, and many other councillors, of burgher origin, labored
zealously to establish this administrative system, so prompt and freed
from all independent discussion. Weary of wars, irregularities, and
sufferings, France, in the fifteenth century, asked for nothing but peace
and security; and so soon as the kingship showed that it had an intention
and was in a condition to provide her with them, the nation took little
or no trouble about political guarantees which as yet it knew neither how
to establish nor how to exercise; its right to them was not disputed in
principle, they were merely permitted to fall into desuetude; and Charles
VII., who during the first half of his reign had twenty-four times
assembled the states-general to ask them for taxes and soldiers, was able
in the second to raise personally both soldiers and taxes without drawing
forth any complaint hardly, save from his contemporary historian, the
Bishop of Lisieux, Thomas Basin, who said, "Into such misery and
servitude is fallen the realm of France, heretofore so noble and free,
that all the inhabitants are openly declared by the generals of finance
and their clerks taxable at the will of the king, without anybody's
daring to murmur or even ask for mercy." There is at every juncture, and
in all ages of the world, a certain amount, though varying very much, of
good order, justice, and security, without which men cannot get on; and
when they lack it, either through the fault of those who govern them or
through their own fault, they seek after it with the blind eyes of
passion, and are ready to accept it, no matter what power may procure it
for them, or what price it may cost them. Charles VII. was a prince
neither to be respected nor to be loved, and during many years his reign
had not been a prosperous one; but "he re-quickened justice, which had
been a long while dead," says a chronicler devoted to the Duke of
Burgundy; "he put an end to the tyrannies and exactions of the
men-at-arms, and out of an infinity of murderers and robbers he formed
men of resolution and honest life; he made regular paths in murderous
woods and forests, all roads safe, all towns peaceful, all nationalities
of his kingdom tranquil; he chastised the evil and honored the good, and
he was sparing of human blood."

Let it be added, in accordance with contemporary testimony, that at the
same time that he established an all but arbitrary rule in military and
financial matters, Charles VII. took care that "practical justice, in the
case of every individual, was promptly rendered to poor as well as rich,
to small as well as great; he forbade all trafficking in the offices of
the magistracy, and every time that a place became vacant in a parliament
he made no nomination to it, save on the presentations of the court."

Questions of military, financial, and judicial organization were not the
only ones which occupied the government of Charles VII. He attacked also
ecclesiastical questions, which were at that period a subject of
passionate discussion in Christian Europe amongst the councils of the
Church and in the closets of princes. The celebrated ordinance, known by
the name of Pragmatic Sanction, which Charles VII. issued at Bourges on
the 7th of July, 1438, with the concurrence of a grand national council,
laic and ecclesiastical, was directed towards the carrying out, in the
internal regulations of the French Church, and in the relations either of
the State with the Church in France, or of the Church of France with the
papacy, of reforms long since desired or dreaded by the different powers
and interests. It would be impossible to touch here upon these difficult
and delicate questions without going far beyond the limits imposed upon
the writer of this history. All that can be said is, that there was no
lack of a religious spirit, or of a liberal spirit, in the Pragmatic
Sanction of Charles VII., and that the majority of the measures contained
in it were adopted with the approbation of the greater part of the French
clergy, as well as of educated laymen in France.

In whatever light it is regarded, the government of Charles VII. in the
latter part of his reign brought him not only in France, but throughout
Europe, a great deal of fame and power. When he had driven the English
out of his kingdom, he was called Charles the Victorious; and when he had
introduced into the internal regulations of the state so many important
and effective reforms, he was called Charles the Well-served. "The sense
he had by nature," says his historian Chastellain, "had been increased to
twice as much again, in his straitened fortunes, by long constraint and
perilous dangers, which sharpened his wits perforce." "He is the king of
kings," was said of him by the Doge of Venice, Francis Foscari, a good
judge of policy; "there is no doing without him."

Nevertheless, at the close, so influential and so tranquil, of his reign,
Charles VII. was, in his individual and private life, the most desolate,
the most harassed, and the most unhappy man in his kingdom. In 1442 and
1450 he had lost the two women who had been, respectively, the most
devoted and most useful, and the most delightful and dearest to him, his
mother-in-law, Yolande of Arragon, Queen of Sicily, and his favorite,
Agnes Sorel. His avowed intimacy with Agnes, and even, independently of
her and after her death, the scandalous licentiousness of his morals, had
justly offended his virtuous wife, Mary of Anjou, the only lady of the
royal establishment who survived him. She had brought him twelve
children, and the eldest, the _dauphin_ Louis, after having from his very
youth behaved in a factious, harebrained, turbulent way towards the king
his father, had become at one time an open rebel, at another a venomous
conspirator and a dangerous enemy. At his birth in 1423, he had been
named Louis in remembrance of his ancestor, St. Louis, and in hopes that
he would resemble him. In 1440, at seventeen years of age, he allied
himself with the great lords, who were displeased with the new military
system established by Charles VII., and allowed himself to be drawn by
them into the transient rebellion known by the name of Praguery. When
the king, having put it down, refused to receive the rebels to favor, the
_dauphin_ said to his father, "My lord, I must go back with them, then;
for so I promised them." "Louis," replied the king, "the gates are open,
and if they are not high enough I will have sixteen or twenty fathom of
wall knocked down for you, that you may go whither it seems best to you."
Charles VII. had made his son marry Margaret Stuart of Scotland, that
charming princess who was so smitten with the language and literature of
France that, coming one day upon the poet Alan Chartier asleep upon a
bench, she kissed him on the forehead in the presence of her mightily
astonished train, for he was very ugly. The _dauphin_ rendered his wife
so wretched that she died in 1445, at the age of one and twenty, with
these words upon her lips: "O! fie on life! Speak to me no more of it!"
In 1449, just when the king his father was taking up arms to drive the
English out of Normandy, the _dauphin_ Louis, who was now living entirely
in Dauphiny, concluded at Briancon a secret league with the Duke of Savoy
"against the ministers of the King of France, his enemies." In 1456, in
order to escape from the perils brought upon him by the plots which he,
in the heart of Dauphiny, was incessantly hatching against his father,
Louis fled from Grenoble and went to take refuge in Brussels with the
Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, who willingly received him, at the
same time excusing himself to Charles VII. "on the ground of the respect
he owed to the son of his suzerain," and putting at the disposal of
Louis, "his guest," a pension of thirty-six thousand livres. "He has
received the fox at his court," said Charles: "he will soon see what will
become of his chickens." But the pleasantries of the king did not chase
away the sorrows of the father. "Mine enemies have full trust in me,"
said Charles, "but my son will have none. If he had but once spoken with
me, he would have known full well that he ought to have neither doubts
nor fears. On my royal word, if he will but come to me, when he has
opened his heart and learned my intentions, he may go away again
whithersoever it seems good to him." Charles, in his old age and his
sorrow, forgot how distrustful and how fearful he himself had been. "It
is ever your pleasure," wrote one of his councillors to him in a burst of
frankness, "to be shut up in castles, wretched places, and all sorts of
little closets, without showing yourself and listening to the complaints
of your poor people." Charles VII. had shown scarcely more confidence to
his son than to his people. Louis yielded neither to words, nor to
sorrows of which proofs were reaching him nearly every day. He remained
impassive at the Duke of Burgundy's, where he seemed to be waiting with
scandalous indifference for the news of his father's death. Charles sank
into a state of profound melancholy and general distrust. He had his
doctor, Adam Fumee, put in prison; persuaded himself that his son had
wished, and was still wishing, to poison him; and refused to take any
kind of nourishment. No representation, no solicitation, could win him
from his depression and obstinacy. It was in vain that Charles, Duke of
Berry, his favorite child, offered to first taste the food set before
him. It was in vain that his servants "represented to him with tears,"
says Bossuet, "what madness it was to cause his own death for fear of
dying; when at last he would have made an effort to eat, it was too late,
and he must die." On the 2nd of July, 1461, he asked what day it was,
and was told that it was St. Magdalen's day. "Ah!" said he, "I do laud
my God, and thank Him for that it hath pleased Him that the most sinful
man in the world should die on the sinful woman's day! Dampmartin," said
he to the count of that name, who was leaning over his bed, "I do beseech
you that after my death you will serve so far as you can the little lord,
my son Charles." He called his confessor, received the sacraments, gave
orders that he should be buried at St. Denis beside the king his father,
and expired. No more than his son Louis, though for different reasons,
was his wife, Queen Mary of Anjou, at his side. She was living at
Chinon, whither she had removed a long while before by order of the king
her husband. Thus, deserted by them of his own household, and disgusted
with his own life, died that king of whom a contemporary chronicler,
whilst recommending his soul to God, re-marked, "When he was alive, he
was a right wise and valiant lord, and he left his kingdom united, and in
good case as to justice and tranquillity."

CHAPTER XXV.----LOUIS XI. (1461-1483.)

Louis XI. was thirty-eight years old, and had been living for five years
in voluntary exile at the castle of Genappe, in Hainault, beyond the
dominions of the king his father, and within those of Philip the Good,
Duke of Burgundy, when, on the 23d of July, 1461, the day after Charles
VII.'s death, he learned that he was King of France. He started at once
to return to his own country, and take possession of his kingdom. He
arrived at Rheims on the 14th of August, was solemnly crowned there on
the 18th, in presence of the two courts of France and Burgundy, and on
the 30th made his entry into Paris, within which he had not set foot for
six and twenty years. In 1482, twenty-one years afterwards, he, sick and
almost dying in his turn at his castle of Plessis-les-Tours, went,
nevertheless, to Amboise, where his son the _dauphin_, who was about to
become Charles VIII., and whom he had not seen for several years, was
living. "I do expressly enjoin upon you," said the father to the son,
"as my last counsel and my last instructions, not to change a single one
of the chief officers of the crown. When my father. King Charles VII.,
went to God, and I myself came to the throne, I disappointed [i.e.,
deprived of their appointments] all the good and notable knights of the
kingdom who had aided and served my said father in conquering Normandy
and Guienne, in driving the English out of the kingdom, and in restoring
it to peace and good order, for so I found it, and right rich also.
Therefrom much mischief came to me, for thence I had the war called the
Common Weal, which all but cost me my crown."

With the experience and paternal care of an old man, whom the near
prospect of death rendered perfectly disinterested, wholly selfish as his
own life had been, Louis's heart was bent upon saving his son from the
first error which he himself had committed on mounting the throne.
"Gentlemen," said Dunois on rising from table at the funeral-banquet held
at the abbey of St. Denis in honor of the obsequies of King Charles VII.,
"we have lost our master; let each look after himself." The old warrior
foresaw that the new reign would not be like that which had just ended.
Charles VII. had been a prince of indolent disposition, more inclined to
pleasure than ambition, whom the long and severe trials of his life had
moulded to government without his having any passion for governing, and
who had become in a quiet way a wise and powerful king, without any eager
desire to be incessantly and everywhere chief actor and master. His son
Louis, on the contrary, was completely possessed with a craving for
doing, talking, agitating, domineering, and reaching, no matter by what
means, the different and manifold ends he proposed to himself. Anything
but prepossessing in appearance, supported on long and thin shanks,
vulgar in looks and often designedly ill-dressed, and undignified in his
manners though haughty in mind, he was powerful by the sheer force of a
mind marvellously lively, subtle, unerring, ready, and inventive, and of
a character indefatigably active, and pursuing success as a passion
without any scruple or embarrassment in the employment of means. His
contemporaries, after observing his reign for some time, gave him the
name of the universal spider, so relentlessly did he labor to weave a web
of which he himself occupied the centre and extended the filaments in all

As soon as he was king, he indulged himself with that first piece of
vindictive satisfaction of which he was in his last moments obliged to
acknowledge the mistake. At Rheims, at the time of his coronation, the
aged and judicious Duke Philip of Burgundy had begged him to forgive all
those who had offended him. Louis promised to do so, with the exception,
however, of seven persons whom he did not name. They were the most
faithful and most able advisers of the king his father, those who had
best served Charles VII. even in his embroilments with the _dauphin_, his
conspiring and rebellious son, viz., Anthony de Chabannes, Count of
Dampmartin, Peter de Breze, Andrew de Laval, Juvenal des Ursins, &c.
Some lost their places, and were even, for a while, subjected to
persecution; the others, remaining still at court, received there many
marks of the king's disfavor. On the other hand, Louis made a show of
treating graciously the men who had most incurred and deserved disgrace
at his father's hands, notably the Duke of Alencon and the Count of
Armagnac. Nor was it only in respect of persons that he departed from
paternal tradition; he rejected it openly in the case of one of the most
important acts of Charles VII.'s reign, the Pragmatic Sanction, issued by
that prince at Bourses, in 1438, touching the internal regulations of the
Church of France and its relations towards the papacy. The popes, and
especially Pius II., Louis XI.'s contemporary, had constantly and
vigorously protested against that act. Barely four months after his
accession, on the 27th of November, 1461, Louis, in order to gain favor
with the pope, abrogated the Pragmatic Sanction, and informed the pope of
the fact in a letter full of devotion. There was great joy at Rome, and
the pope replied to the king's letter in the strongest terms of gratitude
and commendation. But Louis's courtesy had not been so disinterested as
it was prompt. He had hoped that Pius II. would abandon the cause of
Ferdinand of Arragon, a claimant to the throne of Naples, and would
uphold that of his rival, the French prince, John of Anjou, Duke of
Calabria, whose champion Louis had declared himself. He bade his
ambassador at Rome to remind the pope of the royal hopes. "You know,"
said the ambassador to Pius II., "it is only on this condition that
the king my master abolished the Pragmatic; he was pleased to desire that
in his kingdom full obedience should be rendered to you; he demands, on
the other hand, that you should be pleased to be a friend to France;
otherwise I have orders to bid all the French cardinals withdraw, and you
cannot doubt but that they will obey." But Pius II. was more proud than
Louis XI. dared to be imperious. He answered, "We are under very great
obligations to the King of France, but that gives him no right to exact
from us things contrary to justice and to our honor; we have sent aid to
Ferdinand by virtue of the treaties we have with him; let the king your
master compel the Duke of Anjou to lay down arms and prosecute his rights
by course of justice, and if Ferdinand refuse to submit thereto we will
declare against him; but we cannot promise more. If the French who are
at our court wish to withdraw, the gates are open to them." The king, a
little ashamed at the fruitlessness of his concession and of his threat,
had for an instant some desire to re-establish the Pragmatic Sanction,
for which the parliament of Paris had taken up the cudgels; but, all
considered, he thought it better to put up in silence with his rebuff,
and pay the penalty for a rash concession, than to get involved with the
court of Rome in a struggle of which he could not measure the gravity;
and he contented himself with letting the parliament maintain in
principle and partially keep up the Pragmatic. This was his first
apprenticeship in that outward resignation and patience, amidst his own
mistakes, of which he was destined to be called upon more than once in
the course of his life to make a humble but skilful use.

At the same time that at the pinnacle of government and in his court
Louis was thus making his power felt, and was engaging a new set of
servants, he was zealously endeavoring to win over, everywhere, the
middle classes and the populace. He left Rouen in the hands of its own
inhabitants; in Guienne, in Auvergne, at Tours, he gave the burgesses
authority to assemble, and his orders to the royal agents were,
"Whatever is done see that it be answered for unto us by two of the most
notable burgesses of the principal cities." At Rheims the rumor ran that
under King Louis there would be no more tax or talliage. When
deputations went before him to complain of the weight of imposts, he
would say, "I thank you, my dear and good friends, for making such
remonstrances to me; I have nothing more at heart than to put an end to
all sorts of exactions, and to re-establish my kingdom in its ancient
liberties. I have just been passing five years in the countries of my
uncle of Burgundy; and there I saw good cities mighty rich and full of
inhabitants, and folks well clad, well housed, well off, lacking nothing;
the commerce there is great, and the communes there have fine privileges.
When I came into my own kingdom I saw, on the contrary, houses in ruins,
fields without tillage, men and women in rags, faces pinched and pale.
It is a great pity, and my soul is filled with sorrow at it. All my
desire is to apply a remedy thereto, and, with God's help, we will bring
it to pass." The good folks departed, charmed with such familiarity, so
prodigal of hope; but facts before long gave the lie to words. "When the
time came for renewing at Rheims the claim for local taxes, the people
showed opposition, and all the papers were burned in the open street.
The king employed stratagem. In order not to encounter overt resistance,
he caused a large number of his folks to disguise themselves as tillers
or artisans; and so entering the town, they were masters of it before the
people could think of defending themselves. The ringleaders of the
rebellion were drawn and quartered, and about a hundred persons were
beheaded or hanged. At Angers, at Alencon, and at Aurillac, there were
similar outbursts similarly punished." From that moment it was easy to
prognosticate that with the new king familiarity would not prevent
severity, or even cruelty. According to the requirements of the crisis
Louis had no more hesitation about violating than about making promises;
and, all the while that he was seeking after popularity, he intended to
make his power felt at any price.

How could he have done without heavy imposts and submission on the part
of the tax-payers? For it was not only at home in his own kingdom that
he desired to be chief actor and master. He pushed his ambition and his
activity abroad into divers European states. In Italy he had his own
claimant to the throne of Naples in opposition to the King of Arragon's.
In Spain the Kings of Arragon and of Castile were in a state of rivalry
and war. A sedition broke out in Catalonia. Louis XI. lent the King of
Arragon three hundred and fifty thousand golden crowns to help him in
raising eleven hundred lances, and reducing the rebels. Civil war was
devastating England. The houses of York and Lancaster were disputing the
crown. Louis XI. kept up relations with both sides; and without
embroiling himself with the Duke of York, who became Edward IV., he
received at Chinon the heroic Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI., and
lent twenty thousand pounds sterling to that prince, then disthroned, who
undertook either to repay them within a year or to hand over Calais, when
he was re-established upon his throne, to the King of France. In the
same way John II., King of Arragon, had put Roussillon and Cerdagne into
the hands of Louis XI., as a security for the loan of three hundred and
fifty thousand crowns he had borrowed. Amidst all the plans and
enterprises of his personal ambition Louis was seriously concerned for
the greatness of France; but he drew upon her resources, and compromised
her far beyond what was compatible with her real interests, by mixing
himself up, at every opportunity and by every sort of intrigue, with the
affairs and quarrels of the kings and peoples around him.

In France itself he had quite enough of questions to be solved and perils
to be surmounted to absorb and satisfy the most vigilant and most active
of men. Four princes of very unequal power, but all eager for
independence and preponderance, viz., Charles, Duke of Berry, his
brother; Francis II., Duke of Brittany; Philip the Good, Duke of
Burgundy, his uncle; and John, Duke of Bourbon, his brother-in-law, were
vassals whom he found very troublesome, and ever on the point of becoming
dangerous. It was not long before he had a proof of it. In 1463, two
years after Louis's accession, the Duke of Burgundy sent one of his most
trusty servants, John of Croy, Sire de Chimay, to complain of certain
royal acts, contrary, he said, to the treaty of Arras, which, in 1435,
had regulated the relations between Burgundy and the crown. The envoy
had great difficulty in getting audience of the king, who would not even
listen for more than a single moment, and that as he was going out of his
room, when, almost without heeding, he said abruptly, "What manner of
man, then, is this Duke of Burgundy? Is he of other metal than the other
lords of the realm?" "Yes, sir," replied Chimay, "he is of other metal;
for he protected you and maintained you against the will of your father
King Charles, and against the opinion of all those who were opposed to
you in the kingdom, which no other prince or lord would have dared to
do." Louis went back into his room without a word. "How dared you speak
so to the king," said Dunois to Chimay. "Had I been fifty leagues away
from here," said the Burgundian, "and had I thought that the king had an
idea only of addressing such words to me, I would have come back express
to speak to him as I have spoken." The Duke of Brittany was less
puissant and less proudly served than the Duke of Burgundy; but, being
vain and inconsiderate, he was incessantly attempting to exalt himself
above his condition of vassal, and to raise his duchy into a sovereignty,
and when his pretensions were rejected he entered, at one time with the
King of England and at another with the Duke of Burgundy and the
malcontents of France, upon intrigues which amounted very nearly to
treason against the king his suzerain. Charles, Louis's younger brother,
was a soft and mediocre but jealous and timidly ambitious prince; he
remembered, moreover, the preference and the wishes manifested on his
account by Charles VII., their common father, on his death-bed, and he
considered his position as Duke of Berry very inferior to the hopes he
believed himself entitled to nourish. Duke John of Bourbon, on espousing
a sister of Louis XI., had flattered himself that this marriage and the
remembrance of the valor he had displayed, in 1450, at the battle of
Formigny, would be worth to him at least the sword of constable; but
Louis had refused to give it him. When all these great malcontents saw
Louis's popularity on the decline, and the king engaged abroad in divers
political designs full of onerousness or embarrassment, they considered
the moment to have come, and, at the end of 1464, formed together an
alliance "for to remonstrate with the king," says Commynes, "upon the bad
order and injustice he kept up in his kingdom, considering themselves
strong enough to force him if he would not mend his ways; and this war
was called the common weal, because it was undertaken under color of
being for the _common weal_ of the kingdom, the which was soon converted
into private weal." The aged Duke of Burgundy, sensible and weary as he
was, gave only a hesitating and slack adherence to the league; but his
son Charles, Count of Charolais, entered into it passionately, and the
father was no more in a condition to resist his son than he was inclined
to follow him. The number of the declared malcontents increased rapidly;
and the chiefs received at Paris itself, in the church of Notre Dame, the
adhesion and the signatures of those who wished to join them. They all
wore, for recognition's sake, a band of red silk round their waists, and,
"there were more than five hundred," says Oliver de la Marche, a
confidential servant of the Count of Charolais, "princes as well as
knights, dames, damsels, and esquires, who were well acquainted with this
alliance without the king's knowing anything as yet about it."

It is difficult to believe the chronicler's last assertion. Louis XI.,
it is true, was more distrustful than far-sighted, and, though he placed
but little reliance in his advisers and servants, he had so much
confidence in himself, his own sagacity, and his own ability, that he
easily deluded himself about the perils of his position; but the facts
which have just been set forth were too serious and too patent to have
escaped his notice. However that may be, he had no sooner obtained a
clear insight into the league of the princes than he set to work with his
usual activity and knowledge of the world to checkmate it. To rally
together his own partisans and to separate his foes, such was the twofold
end he pursued, at first with some success. In a meeting of the princes
which was held at Tours, and in which friends and enemies were still
mingled together, he used language which could not fail to meet their
views. "He was powerless," he said, "to remedy the evils of the kingdom
without the love and fealty of the princes of the blood and the other
lords; they were the pillars of the state; without their help one man
alone could not bear the weight of the crown." Many of those present
declared their fealty. "You are our king, our sovereign lord," said King
Rene, Duke of Anjou; "we thank you for the kind, gracious, and honest
words you have just used to us. I say to you, on behalf of all our lords
here present, that we will serve you in respect of and against every one,
according as it may please you to order us." Louis, by a manifesto,
addressed himself also to the good towns and to all his kingdom. He
deplored therein the enticements which had been suffered to draw away
"his brother, the Duke of Berry and other princes, churchmen, and nobles,
who would never have consented to this league if they had borne in mind
the horrible calamities of the kingdom, and especially the English, those
ancient enemies, who might well come down again upon it as heretofore
. . . . They proclaim," said he, "that they will abolish the imposts;
that is what has always been declared by the seditious and rebellious;
but, instead of relieving, they ruin the poor people. Had I been willing
to augment their pay, and permit them to trample their vassals under foot
as in time past, they would never have given a thought to the common
weal. They pretend that they desire to establish order everywhere, and
yet they cannot endure it anywhere; whilst I, without drawing from my
people more than was drawn by the late king, pay my men-at-arms well, and
keep them in a good state of discipline."

Louis, in his latter words, was a little too boastful. He had very much
augmented the imposts without assembling the estates, and without caring
for the old public liberties. If he frequently repressed local tyranny
on the part of the lords, he did not deny himself the practice of it.
Amongst other tastes, he was passionately fond of the chase; and,
wherever he lived, he put it down amongst his neighbors, noble or other,
without any regard for rights of lordship. Hounds, hawking birds, nets,
snares, all the implements of hunting were forbidden. He even went so
far, it is said, on one occasion, as to have two gentlemen's ears cut off
for killing a hare on their own property. Nevertheless, the publication
of his manifesto did him good service. Auvergne, Dauphiny, Languedoc,
Lyon and Bordeaux turned a deaf ear to all temptations from the league of
princes. Paris, above all, remained faithful to the king. Orders were
given at the Hotel de Ville that the principal gates of the city should
be walled up, and that there should be a night watch on the ramparts; and
the burgesses were warned to lay in provision of arms and victual.
Marshal Joachim Rouault, lord of Gamaches, arrived at Paris on the 30th
of June, 1465, at the head of a body of men-at-arms, to protect the city
against the Count of Charolais, who was coming up; and the king himself,
not content with despatching four of his chief officers to thank the
Parisians for their loyal zeal, wrote to them that he would send the
queen to lie in at Paris, "the city he loved most in the world."

Louis would have been glad to have nothing to do but to negotiate and
talk. Though he was personally brave, he did not like war and its
unforeseen issues. He belonged to the class of ambitious despots who
prefer stratagem to force. But the very ablest speeches and artifices,
even if they do not remain entirely fruitless, are not sufficient to
reduce matters promptly to order when great interests are threatened,
passions violently excited, and factions let loose in the arena. Between
the League of the Common Neal and Louis XI. there was a question too
great to be, at the very outset, settled peacefully. It was feudalism in
decline at grips with the kingship, which had been growing greater and
greater for two centuries. The lords did not trust the king's promises;
and one amongst those lords was too powerful to yield without a fight.
At the beginning Louis had, in Auvergne and in Berry, some successes,
which decided a few of the rebels, the most insignificant, to accept
truces and enter upon parleys; but the great princes, the Dukes of
Burgundy, Brittany, and Berry, waxed more and more angry. The aged Duke
of Burgundy, Philip the Good himself, sobered and wearied as he was,
threw himself passionately into the struggle. "Go," said he to his son,
Count Charles of Charolais, "maintain thine honor well, and, if thou have
need of a hundred thousand more men to deliver thee from difficulty, I
myself will lead them to thee." Charles marched promptly on Paris.
Louis, on his side, moved thither, with the design and in the hope of
getting in there without fighting. But the Burgundians, posted at St.
Denis and the environs, barred his approach. His seneschal, Peter de
Breze, advised him to first attack the Bretons, who were advancing to
join the Burgundians. Louis, looking at him somewhat mistrustfully,
said, "You, too, Sir Seneschal, have signed this League of the Common
Weal." "Ay, sir," answered Brez, with a laugh, "they have my signature,
but you have myself." "Would you be afraid to try conclusions with the
Burgundians?" continued the king. "Nay, verily," replied the seneschal;
"I will let that be seen in the first battle." Louis continued his march
on Paris. The two armies met at Montlhery, on the 16th of July, 1465.
Breze, who commanded the king's advance-guard, immediately went into
action, and was one of the first to be killed. Louis came up to his
assistance with troops in rather loose order; the affair became hot and
general; the French for a moment wavered, and a rumor ran through the
ranks that the king had just been killed.

"No, my friends," said Louis, taking off his helmet, "no, I am not dead;
defend your king with good courage." The wavering was transferred to the
Burgundians. Count Charles himself was so closely pressed that a French
man-at-arms laid his hand on him, saying, "Yield you, my lord; I know you
well; let not yourself be slain." "A rescue!" cried Charles; "I'll not
leave you, my friends, unless by death: I am here to live and die with
you." He was wounded by a sword-thrust which entered his neck between
his helmet and his breastplate, badly fastened. Disorder set in on both
sides, without either's being certain how things were, or being able to
consider itself victorious. Night came on; and French and Burgundians
encamped before Montlhery. The Count of Charolais sat down on two heaps
of straw, and had his wound dressed. Around him were the stripped
corpses of the slain. As they were being moved to make room for him, a
poor wounded creature, somewhat revived by the motion, recovered
consciousness and asked for a drink. The count made them pour down his
throat a drop of his own mixture, for he never drank wine. The wounded
man came completely to himself, and recovered. It was one of the archers
of his guard. Next day news was brought to Charles that the Bretons were
coming up, with their own duke, the Duke of Berry, and Count Dunois at
their head. He went as far as Etampes to meet them, and informed them of
what had just happened. The Duke of Berry was very much distressed; it
was a great pity, he said, that so many people had been killed; he
heartily wished that the war had never been begun. "Did you hear," said
the Count of Charolais to his servants, "how yonder fellow talks? He is
upset at the sight of seven or eight hundred wounded men going about the
town, folks who are nothing to him, and whom he does not even know; he
would be still more upset if the matter touched him nearly; he is just
the sort of fellow to readily make his own terms and leave us stuck in
the mud; we must secure other friends." And he forthwith made one of his
people post off to England, to draw closer the alliance between Burgundy
and Edward IV.

Louis, meanwhile, after passing a day at Corbeil, had once more, on the
18th of July, entered Paris, the object of his chief solicitude. He
dismounted at his lieutenant's, the Sire de Meinn's, and asked for some
supper. Several persons, burgesses and their wives, took supper with
him. He excited their lively interest by describing to them the battle
of Montlhery, the danger he had run there, and the scenes which had been
enacted, adopting at one time a pathetic and at another a bantering tone,
and exciting by turns the emotion and the laughter of his audience. In
three days, he said, he would return to fight his enemies, in order to
finish the war; but he had not enough of men-at-arms, and all had not at
that moment such good spirits as he. He passed a fortnight in Paris,
devoting himself solely to the task of winning the hearts of the
Parisians, reducing imposts, giving audience to everybody, lending a
favorable ear to every opinion offered him, making no inquiry as to who
had been more or less faithful to him, showing clemency without appearing
to be aware of it, and not punishing with severity even those who had
served as guides to the Burgundians in the pillaging of the villages
around Paris. A crier of the Chatelet, who had gone crying about the
streets the day on which the Burgundians attacked the gate of St. Denis,
was sentenced only to a month's imprisonment, bread and water, and a
flogging. He was marched through the city in a night-man's cart; and the
king, meeting the procession, called out, as he passed, to the
executioner, "Strike hard, and spare not that ribald; he has well
deserved it."

Meanwhile the Burgundians were approaching Paris and pressing it more
closely every day. Their different allies in the League were coming up
with troops to join them, including even some of those who, after having
suffered reverses in Auvergne, had concluded truces with the king. The
forces scattered around Paris amounted, it is said, to fifty thousand
men, and occupied Charenton, Conflans, St. Maur, and St. Denis, making
ready for a serious attack upon the place. Louis, notwithstanding his
firm persuasion that things always went ill wherever he was not present
in person, left Paris for Rouen, to call out and bring up the regulars
and reserves of Normandy. In his absence, interviews and parleys took
place between besiegers and besieged. The former, found partisans
amongst the inhabitants of Paris, in the Hotel de Ville itself. The
Count de Dunois made capital of all the grievances of the League against
the king's government, and declared that, if the city refused to receive
the princes, the authors of this refusal would have to answer for
whatever misery, loss, and damage might come of it; and, in spite of all
efforts on the part of the king's officers and friends, some wavering was
manifested in certain quarters. But there arrived from Normandy
considerable re-enforcements, announcing the early return of the king.
And, in fact, he entered Paris on the 28th of August, the mass of the
people testifying their joy and singing "Noel." Louis made as if he knew
nothing of what had happened in his absence, and gave nobody a black
look; only four or five burgesses, too much compromised by their
relations with the besiegers, were banished to Orleans. Sharp skirmishes
were frequent all round the place; there was cannonading on both sides;
and some balls from Paris came tumbling about the quarters of the Count
of Charolais, and killed a few of his people before his very door. But
Louis did not care to risk a battle. He was much impressed by the
enemy's strength, and by the weakness of which glimpses had been seen in
Paris during his absence. Whilst his men-of-war were fighting here and
there, he opened negotiations. Local and temporary truces were accepted,
and agents of the king had conferences with others from the chiefs of the
League. The princes showed so exacting a spirit that there was no
treating on such conditions; and Louis determined to see whether he could
not succeed better than his agents. He had an interview of two hours'
duration in front of the St. Anthony gate, with the Count of St. Poi, a
confidant of the Count of Charolais. On his return he found before the
gate some burgesses waiting for news.

[Illustration: Louis XI. and Burgesses waiting for News----193]

"Well, my friends," said he, "the Burgundians will not give you so much
trouble any more as they have given you in the past." "That is all very
well, sir," replied an attorney of the Chatelet, "but meanwhile they eat
our grapes and gather our vintage without any hinderance." "Still," said
the king, "that is better than if they were to come and drink your wine
in your cellars." The month of September passed thus in parleys without
result. Bad news came from Rouen; the League had a party in that city.
Louis felt that the Count of Charolais was the real head of the
opposition, and the only one with whom anything definite could he arrived
at. He resolved to make a direct attempt upon him; for he had confidence
in the influence he could obtain over people when he chatted and treated
in person with them. One day he got aboard of a little boat with five of
his officers, and went over to the left bank of the Seine. There the
Count of Charolais was awaiting him. "Will you insure me, brother?" said
the king, as he stepped ashore. "Yes, my lord, as a brother," said the
count. The king embraced him and went on; "I quite see, brother, that
you are a gentleman and of the house of France." "How so, my lord?"
"When I sent my ambassadors lately [in 1464] to Lille on an errand to my
uncle, your father and yourself, and when my chancellor, that fool of a
Morvilliers, made you such a fine speech, you sent me word by the
Archbishop of Narbonne that I should repent me of the words spoken to you
by that Morvilliers, and that before a year was over. Piques-Dieu,
you've kept your promise, and before the end of the year has come. I
like to have to do with folks who hold to what they promise." This he
said laughingly, knowing well that this language was just the sort of
flattery to touch the Count of Charolais. They walked for a long while
together on the river's bank, to the great curiosity of their people, who
were surprised to see them conversing on such good terms. They talked of
possible conditions of peace, both of them displaying considerable
pliancy, save the king touching the duchy of Normandy, which he would not
at any price, he said, confer on his brother the Duke of Berry, and the
Count of Charolais touching his enmity towards the house of Croy, with
which he was determined not to be reconciled. At parting, the king
invited the count to Paris, where he would make him great cheer. "My
lord," said Charles, "I have made a vow not to enter any good town until
my return." The king smiled; gave fifty golden crowns for distribution,
to drink his health, amongst the count's archers, and once more got
aboard of his boat. Shortly after getting back to Paris he learned that
Normandy was lost to him. The widow of the seneschal, De Breze, lately
killed at Montlhery, forgetful of all the king's kindnesses and against
the will of her own son, whom Louis had appointed seneschal of Normandy
after his father's death, had just handed over Rouen to the Duke of
Bourbon, one of the most determined chiefs of the League. Louis at once
took his course. He sent to demand an interview with the Count of
Charolais, and repaired to Conflans with a hundred Scots of his guard.
There was a second edition of the walk together. Charles knew nothing as
yet about the surrender of Rouen; and Louis lost no time in telling him
of it before he had leisure for reflection and for magnifying his
pretensions. "Since the Normans," said he, "have of themselves felt
disposed for such a novelty, so be it! I should never of my own free
will have conferred such an appanage on my brother; but, as the thing is
done, I give my consent." And he at the same time assented to all the
other conditions which had formed the subject of conversation.

In proportion to the resignation displayed by the king was the joy of the
Count of Charolais at seeing himself so near to peace. Everything was
going wrong with his army; provisions were short; murmurs and dissensions
were setting in; and the League of common weal was on the point of ending
in a shameful catastrophe. Whilst strolling and conversing with
cordiality the two princes kept advancing towards Paris. Without
noticing it, they passed within the entrance of a strong palisade which
the king had caused to be erected in front of the city-walls, and which
marked the boundary-line. All on a sudden they stopped, both of them
disconcerted. The Burgundian found himself within the hostile camp; but
he kept a good countenance, and simply continued the conversation.
Amongst his army, however, when he was observed to be away so long, there
was already a feeling of deep anxiety. The chieftains had met together.
"If this young prince," said the marshal of Burgundy, "has gone to his
own ruin like a fool, let us not ruin his house. Let every man retire to
his quarters, and hold himself in readiness without disturbing himself
about what may happen. By keeping together we are in a condition to fall
back on the marches of Hainault, Picardy, or Burgundy." The veteran
warrior mounted his horse and rode forward in the direction of Paris to
see whether Count Charles were coming back or not. It was not long
before he saw a troop of forty or fifty horse moving towards him. They
were the Burgundian prince and an escort of the king's own guard.
Charles dismissed the escort, and came up to the marshal, saying, "Don't
say a word; I acknowledge my folly; but I saw it too late; I was already
close to the works." "Everybody can see that I was not there," said the
marshal; "if I had been, it would never have happened. You know, your
highness, that I am only on loan to you, as long as your father lives."
Charles made no reply, and returned to his own camp, where all
congratulated him and rendered homage to the king's honorable conduct.

Negotiations for peace were opened forthwith. There was no difficulty
about them. Louis was ready to make sacrifices as soon as be recognized
the necessity for them, being quite determined, however, in his heart to
recall them as soon as fortune came back to him. Two distinct treaties
were concluded: one at Conflans on the 5th of October, 1465, between
Louis and the Count of Charolais; and the other at St. Maur on the 29th
of October, between Louis and the other princes of the League. By one or
the other of the treaties the king granted nearly every demand that had
been made upon him; to the Count of Charolais he gave up all the towns of
importance in Picardy; to the Duke of Berry he gave the duchy of
Normandy, with entire sovereignty; and the other princes, independently
of the different territories that had been conceded to them, all received
large sums in ready money. The conditions of peace had already been
agreed to, when the Burgundians went so far as to summon, into the
bargain, the strong place of Beauvais. Louis quietly complained to
Charles: "If you wanted this town," said he, "you should have asked me
for it, and I would have given it to you; but peace is made, and it ought
to be observed." Charles openly disavowed the deed. When peace was
proclaimed, on the 30th of October, the king went to Vincennes to receive
the homage of his brother Charles for the duchy of Normandy, and that of
the Count of Charolais for the lands of Picardy. The count asked the
king to give up to him "for that day the castle of Vincennes for the
security of all." Louis made no objection; and the gate and apartments
of the castle were guarded by the count's own people. But the Parisians,
whose favor Louis had won, were alarmed on his account. Twenty-two
thousand men of the city militia marched towards the outskirts of
Vincennes and obliged the king to return and sleep at Paris. He went
almost alone to the grand review which the Count of Charolais held of his
army before giving the word for marching away, and passed from rank to
rank speaking graciously to his late enemies. The king and the count, on
separating, embraced one another, the count saying in a loud voice,
"Gentlemen, you and I are at the command of the king my sovereign lord,
who is here present, to serve him whensoever there shall be need."

When the treaties of Conflans and St. Maur were put before the parliament
to be registered, the parliament at first refused, and the exchequer-
chamber followed suit; but the king insisted in the name of necessity,
and the registration took place, subject to a declaration on the part of
the parliament that it was forced to obey. Louis, at bottom, was not
sorry for this resistance, and himself made a secret protest against the
treaties he had just signed.

At the outset of the negotiations it had been agreed that thirty-six
notables, twelve prelates, twelve knights, and twelve members of the
council, should assemble to inquire into the errors committed in the
government of the kingdom, and to apply remedies. They were to meet on
the 15th of December, and to have terminated their labors in two months
at the least, and in three months and ten days at the most. The king
promised on his word to abide firmly and stably by what they should
decree. But this commission was nearly a year behind time in assembling,
and, even when it was assembled, its labors were so slow and so futile,
that the Count de Dampmartin was quite justified in writing to the Count
of Charolais, become by his father's death Duke of Burgundy, "The League
of common weal has become nothing but the League of common woe."

Scarcely were the treaties signed and the princes returned each to his
own dominions when a quarrel arose between the Duke of Brittany and the
new Duke of Normandy. Louis, who was watching for dissensions between
his enemies, went at once to see the Duke of Brittany, and made with him
a private convention for mutual security. Then, having his movements
free, he suddenly entered Normandy to retake possession of it as a
province which, notwithstanding the cession of it just made to his
brother, the King of France could not dispense with. Evreux, Gisors,
Gournay, Louviers, and even Rouen fell, without much resistance, again
into his power. The Duke of Berry made a vigorous appeal for support to
his late ally, the Duke of Burgundy, in order to remain master of the new
duchy which had been conferred upon him under the late treaties. The
Count of Charolais was at that time taking up little by little the
government of the Burgundian dominions in the name of his father, the
aged Duke Philip, who was ill and near his end; but, by pleading his own
engagements, and especially his ever-renewed struggle with his Flemish
subjects, the Liegese, the count escaped from the necessity of satisfying
the Duke of Berry.

In order to be safe in the direction of Burgundy as well as that of
Brittany, Louis had entered into negotiations with Edward IV., King of
England, and had made him offers, perhaps even promises, which seemed to
trench upon the rights ceded by the treaty of Conflans to the Duke of
Burgundy, as to certain districts of Picardy. The Count of Charolais was
informed of it; and in his impetuous wrath he wrote to King Louis,
dubbing him simply Sir, instead of giving him, according to the usage
between vassal and suzerain, the title of My most dread lord, "May it
please you to wit, that some time ago I was apprised of a matter at which
I cannot be too much astounded. It is with great sorrow that I name it
to you, when I remember the fair expressions I have all through this year
had from you, both in writing and by word of mouth. It is certain that
parley has been held between your people and those of the King of
England, that you have thought proper to assign to them the district of
Caux and the city of Rouen; that you have promised to obtain from them
Abbeville and the count-ship of Ponthieu, and that you have concluded

Book of the day: