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Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, Complete by Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre

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send some one to acquaint us with the crime for which we were kept in

M. de Combaut, who was at the head of the young counsellors, was
accordingly sent to us; and he, with a great deal of gravity, informed us
that he came from the King to inquire what it was we wished to
communicate to his Majesty. We answered that we wished to speak to some
one near the King's person, in order to our being informed what we were
kept in confinement for, as we were unable to assign any reason for it
ourselves. He answered, with great solemnity, that we ought not to ask
of God or the King reasons for what they did; as all their actions
emanated from wisdom and justice. We replied that we were not persons to
be treated like those shut up in the Inquisition, who are left to guess
at the cause of their being there.

We could obtain from him, after all we said, no other satisfaction than
his promise to interest himself in our behalf, and to do us all the
service in his power. At this my brother broke out into a fit of
laughter; but I confess I was too much alarmed to treat his message with
such indifference, and could scarcely, refrain from talking to this
messenger as he deserved.

Whilst he was making his report to the King, the Queen my mother kept her
chamber, being under great concern, as may well be supposed, to witness
such proceedings. She plainly foresaw, in her prudence, that these
excesses would end fatally, should the mildness of my brother's
disposition, and his regard for the welfare of the State, be once wearied
out with submitting to such repeated acts of injustice. She therefore
sent for the senior members of the Council, the chancellor, princes,
nobles, and marshals of France, who all were greatly scandalised at the
bad counsel which had been given to the King, and told the Queen my
mother that she ought to remonstrate with the King upon the injustice of
his proceedings. They observed that what had been done could not now be
recalled, but matters might yet be set upon a right footing. The Queen
my mother hereupon went to the King, followed by these counsellors, and
represented to him the ill consequences which might proceed from the
steps he had taken.

The King's eyes were by this time opened, and he saw that he had been ill
advised. He therefore begged the Queen my mother to set things to
rights, and to prevail on my brother to forget all that had happened, and
to bear no resentment against these young men, but to make up the breach
betwixt Bussi and Quelus.

Things being thus set to rights again, the guard which had been placed
over my brother was dismissed, and the Queen my mother, coming to his
apartment, told him he ought to return thanks to God for his deliverance,
for that there had been a moment when even she herself despaired of
saving his life; that since he must now have discovered that the King's
temper of mind was such that he took the alarm at the very imagination of
danger, and that, when once he was resolved upon a measure, no advice
that she or any other could give would prevent him from putting it into
execution, she would recommend it to him to submit himself to the King's
pleasure in everything, in order to prevent the like in future; and, for
the present, to take the earliest opportunity of seeing the King, and to
appear as if he thought no more about the past.

We replied that we were both of us sensible of God's great mercy in
delivering us from the injustice of our enemies, and that, next to God,
our greatest obligation was to her; but that my brother's rank did not
admit of his being put in confinement without cause, and released from it
again without the formality of an acknowledgment. Upon this, the Queen
observed that it was not in the power even of God himself to undo what
had been done; that what could be effected to save his honour, and give
him satisfaction for the irregularity of the arrest, should have place.
My brother, therefore, she observed, ought to strive to mollify the King
by addressing him with expressions of regard to his person and attachment
to his service; and, in the meantime, use his influence over Bussi to
reconcile him to Quelus, and to end all disputes betwixt them. She then
declared that the principal motive for putting my brother and his
servants under arrest was to prevent the combat for which old Bussi, the
brave father of a brave son, had solicited the King's leave, wherein he
proposed to be his son's second, whilst the father of Quelus was to be
his. These four had agreed in this way to determine the matter in
dispute, and give the Court no further disturbance.

My brother now engaged himself to the Queen that, as Bussi would see he
could not be permitted to decide his quarrel by combat, he should, in
order to deliver himself from his arrest, do as she had commanded.

The Queen my mother, going down to the King, prevailed with him to
restore my brother to liberty with every honour. In order to which the
King came to her apartment, followed by the princes, noblemen, and other
members of the Council, and sent for us by M. de Villequier. As we went
along we found all the rooms crowded with people, who, with tears in
their eyes, blessed God for our deliverance. Coming into the apartments
of the Queen my mother, we found the King attended as I before related.
The King desired my brother not to take anything ill that had been done,
as the motive for it was his concern for the good of his kingdom, and not
any bad intention towards himself. My brother replied that he had, as he
ought, devoted his life to his service, and, therefore, was governed by
his pleasure; but that he most humbly begged him to consider that his
fidelity and attachment did not merit the return he had met with; that,
notwithstanding, he should impute it entirely to his own ill-fortune, and
should be perfectly satisfied if the King acknowledged his innocence.
Hereupon the King said that he entertained not the least doubt of his
innocence, and only desired him to believe he held the same place in his
esteem he ever had. The Queen my mother then, taking both of them by the
hand, made them embrace each other.

Afterwards the King commanded Bussi to be brought forth, to make a
reconciliation betwixt him and Quelus, giving orders, at the same time,
for the release of Simier and M. de la Chastre. Bussi coming into the
room with his usual grace, the King told him he must be reconciled with
Quelus, and forbade him to say a word more concerning their quarrel. He
then commanded them to embrace. "Sire," said Bussi, "if it is your
pleasure that we kiss and are friends again, I am ready to obey your
command;" then, putting himself in the attitude of Pantaloon, he went up
to Queus and gave him a hug, which set all present in a titter,
notwithstanding they had been seriously affected by the scene which had
passed just before.

Many persons of discretion thought what had been done was too slight a
reparation for the injuries my brother had received. When all was over,
the King and the Queen my mother, coming up to me, said it would be
incumbent on me to use my utmost endeavours to prevent my brother from
calling to mind anything past which should make him swerve from the duty
and affection he owed the King. I replied that my brother was so
prudent, and so strongly attached to the King's service, that he needed
no admonition on that head from me or any one else; and that, with
respect to myself, I had never given him any other advice than to conform
himself to the King's pleasure and the duty he owed him.


The Duc d'Alencon Makes His Escape from Court.--Queen Marguerite's
Fidelity Put to a Severe Trial.

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon, and no one present had yet
dined. The Queen my mother was desirous that we should eat together,
and, after dinner, she ordered my brother and me to change our dress (as
the clothes we had on were suitable only to our late melancholy
situation) and come to the King's supper and ball. We complied with her
orders as far as a change of dress, but our countenances still retained
the impressions of grief and resentment which we inwardly felt.

I must inform you that when the tragi-comedy I have given you an account
of was over, the Queen my mother turned round to the Chevalier de Seurre,
whom she recommended to my brother to sleep in his bedchamber, and in
whose conversation she sometimes took delight because he was a man of
some humour, but rather inclined to be cynical.

"Well," said she, "M. de Seurre, what do you think of all this?"

"Madame, I think there is too much of it for earnest, and not enough for

Then addressing himself to me, he said, but not loud enough for the Queen
to hear him: "I do not believe all is over yet; I am very much mistaken
if this young man" (meaning my brother) "rests satisfied with this." This
day having passed in the manner before related, the wound being only
skinned over and far from healed, the young men about the King's person
set themselves to operate in order to break it out afresh.

These persons, judging of my brother by themselves, and not having
sufficient experience to know the power of duty over the minds of
personages of exalted rank and high birth, persuaded the King, still
connecting his case with their own, that it was impossible my brother
should ever forgive the affront he had received, and not seek to avenge
himself with the first opportunity. The King, forgetting the ill-judged
steps these young men had so lately induced him to take, hereupon
receives this new impression, and gives orders to the officers of the
guard to keep strict watch at the gates that his brother go not out, and
that his people be made to leave the Louvre every evening, except such of
them as usually slept in his bedchamber or wardrobe.

My brother, seeing himself thus exposed to the caprices of these
headstrong young fellows, who led the King according to their own
fancies, and fearing something worse might happen than what he had yet
experienced, at the end of three days, during which time he laboured
under apprehensions of this kind, came to a determination to leave the
Court, and never more return to it, but retire to his principality and
make preparations with all haste for his expedition to Flanders. He
communicated his design to me, and I approved of it, as I considered he
had no other view in it than providing for his own safety, and that
neither the King nor his government were likely to sustain any injury by

When we consulted upon the means of its accomplishment, we could find no
other than his descending from my window, which was on the second story
and opened to the ditch, for the gates were so closely watched that it
was impossible to pass them, the face of every one going out of the
Louvre being curiously examined. He begged of me, therefore, to procure
for him a rope of sufficient strength and long enough for the purpose.
This I set about immediately, for, having the sacking of a bed that
wanted mending, I sent it out of the palace by a lad whom I could trust,
with orders to bring it back repaired, and to wrap up the proper length
of rope inside.

When all was prepared, one evening, at supper-time, I went to the Queen
my mother, who supped alone in her own apartment, it being fast-day and
the King eating no supper. My brother, who on most occasions was patient
and discreet, spurred on by the indignities he had received, and anxious
to extricate himself from danger and regain his liberty, came to me as I
was rising from table, and whispered to me to make haste and come to him
in my own apartment. M. de Matignon, at that time a marshal, a sly,
cunning Norman, and one who had no love for my brother, whether he had
some knowledge of his design from some one who could not keep a secret,
or only guessed at it, observed to the Queen my mother as she left the
room (which I overheard, being near her, and circumspectly watching every
word and motion, as may well be imagined, situated as I was betwixt fear
and hope, and involved in perplexity) that my brother had undoubtedly an
intention of withdrawing himself, and would not be there the next day;
adding that he was assured of it, and she might take her measures

I observed that she was much disconcerted by this observation, and I had
my fears lest we should be discovered. When we came into her closet, she
drew me aside and asked if I heard what Matignon had said.

I replied: "I did not hear it, Madame, but I observe that it has given
you uneasiness."

"Yes," said she, "a great deal of uneasiness, for you know I have pledged
myself to the King that your brother shall not depart hence, and Matignon
has declared that he knows very well he will not be here to-morrow."

I now found myself under a great embarrassment; I was in danger either of
proving unfaithful to my brother, and thereby bringing his life into
jeopardy, or of being obliged to declare that to be truth which I knew to
be false, and this I would have died rather than be guilty of.

In this extremity, if I had not been aided by God, my countenance,
without speaking, would plainly have discovered what I wished to conceal.
But God, who assists those who mean well, and whose divine goodness was
discoverable in my brother's escape, enabled me to compose my looks and
suggested to me such a reply as gave her to understand no more than I
wished her to know, and cleared my conscience from making any declaration
contrary to the truth. I answered her in these words:

"You cannot, Madame, but be sensible that M. de Matignon is not one of my
brother's friends, and that he is, besides, a busy, meddling kind of man,
who is sorry to find a reconciliation has taken place with us; and, as to
my brother, I will answer for him with my life in case he goes hence, of
which, if he had any design, I should, as I am well assured, not be
ignorant, he never having yet concealed anything he meant to do from me."

All this was said by me with the assurance that, after my brother's
escape, they would not dare to do me any injury; and in case of the
worst, and when we should be discovered, I had much rather pledge my life
than hazard my soul by a false declaration, and endanger my brother's
life. Without scrutinising the import of my speech, she replied:
"Remember what you now say,--you will be bound for him on the penalty of
your life."

I smiled and answered that such was my intention. Then, wishing her a
good night, I retired to my own bedchamber, where, undressing myself in
haste and getting into bed, in order to dismiss the ladies and maids of
honour, and there then remaining only my chamber-women, my brother came
in, accompanied by Simier and Cange. Rising from my bed, we made the
cord fast, and having looked out, at the window to discover if any one
was in the ditch, with the assistance of three of my women, who slept in
my room, and the lad who had brought in the rope, we let down my brother,
who laughed and joked upon the occasion without the least apprehension,
notwithstanding the height was considerable. We next lowered Simier into
the ditch, who was in such a fright that he had scarcely strength to hold
the rope fast; and lastly descended my brother's valet de chambre, Cange.

Through God's providence my brother got off undiscovered, and going to
Ste. Genevieve, he found Bussi waiting there for him. By consent of the
abbot, a hole had been made in the city wall, through which they passed,
and horses being provided and in waiting, they mounted, and reached
Angers without the least accident.

Whilst we were lowering down Cange, who, as I mentioned before, was the
last, we observed a man rising out of the ditch, who ran towards the
lodge adjoining to the tennis-court, in the direct way leading to the
guard-house. I had no apprehensions on my own account, all my fears
being absorbed by those I entertained for my brother; and now I was
almost dead with alarm, supposing this might be a spy placed there by M.
de Matignon, and that my brother would be taken. Whilst I was in this
cruel state of anxiety, which can be judged of only by those who have
experienced a similar situation, my women took a precaution for my safety
and their own, which did not suggest itself to me. This was to burn the
rope, that it might not appear to our conviction in case the man in
question had been placed there to watch us. This rope occasioned so
great a flame in burning, that it set fire to the chimney, which, being
seen from without, alarmed the guard, who ran to us, knocking violently
at the door, calling for it to be opened.

I now concluded that my brother was stopped, and that we were both
undone. However, as, by the blessing of God and through his divine mercy
alone, I have, amidst every danger with which I have been repeatedly
surrounded, constantly preserved a presence of mind which directed what
was best to be done, and observing that the rope was not more than half
consumed, I told my women to go to the door, and speaking softly, as if I
was asleep, to ask the men what they wanted. They did so, and the
archers replied that the chimney was on fire, and they came to extinguish
it. My women answered it was of no consequence, and they could put it
out themselves, begging them not to awake me. This alarm thus passed off
quietly, and they went away; but, in two hours afterward, M. de Cosse
came for me to go to the King and the Queen, my mother, to give an
account of my brother's escape, of which they had received intelligence
by the Abbot of Ste. Genevieve.

It seems it had been concerted betwixt my brother and the abbot, in order
to prevent the latter from falling under disgrace, that, when my brother
might be supposed to have reached a sufficient distance, the abbot should
go to Court, and say that he had been put into confinement whilst the
hole was being made, and that he came to inform the King as soon as he
had released himself.

I was in bed, for it was yet night; and rising hastily, I put on my
night-clothes. One of my women was indiscreet enough to hold me round
the waist, and exclaim aloud, shedding a flood of tears, that she should
never see me more. M. de Cosse, pushing her away, said to me: "If I were
not a person thoroughly devoted to your service, this woman has said
enough to bring you into trouble. But," continued he, "fear nothing. God
be praised, by this time the Prince your brother is out of danger."

These words were very necessary, in the present state of my mind, to
fortify it against the reproaches and threats I had reason to expect from
the King. I found him sitting at the foot of the Queen my mother's bed,
in such a violent rage that I am inclined to believe I should have felt
the effects of it, had he not been restrained by the absence of my
brother and my mother's presence. They both told me that I had assured
them my brother would not leave the Court, and that I pledged myself for
his stay. I replied that it was true that he had deceived me, as he had
them; however, I was ready still to pledge my life that his departure
would not operate to the prejudice of the King's service, and that it
would appear he was only gone to his own principality to give orders and
forward his expedition to Flanders.

The King appeared to be somewhat mollified by this declaration, and now
gave me permission to return to my own apartments. Soon afterwards he
received letters from my brother, containing assurances of his
attachment, in the terms I had before expressed. This caused a cessation
of complaints, but by no means removed the King's dissatisfaction, who
made a show of affording assistance to his expedition, but was secretly
using every means to frustrate and defeat it.


Queen Marguerite Permitted to Go to the King Her Husband.--Is Accompanied
by the Queenmother.--Marguerite Insulted by Her Husband's Secretary.--She
Harbours Jealousy.--Her Attention to the King Her Husband during an
Indisposition.--Their Reconciliation.--The War Breaks Out
Afresh.--Affront Received from Marechal de Biron.

I now renewed my application for leave to go to the King my husband,
which I continued to press on every opportunity. The King, perceiving
that he could not refuse my leave any longer, was willing I should depart
satisfied. He had this further view in complying with my wishes, that by
this means he should withdraw me from my attachment to my brother. He
therefore strove to oblige me in every way he could think of, and, to
fulfil the promise made by the Queen my mother at the Peace of Sens, he
gave me an assignment of my portion in territory, with the power of
nomination to all vacant benefices and all offices; and, over and above
the customary pension to the daughters of France, he gave another out of
his privy purse.

He daily paid me a visit in my apartment, in which he took occasion to
represent to me how useful his friendship would be to me; whereas that of
my brother could be only injurious,--with arguments of the like kind.

However, all he could say was insufficient to prevail on me to swerve
from the fidelity I had vowed to observe to my brother. The King was
able to draw from me no other declaration than this: that it ever was,
and should be, my earnest wish to see my brother firmly established in
his gracious favour, which he had never appeared to me to have forfeited;
that I was well assured he would exert himself to the utmost to regain it
by every act of duty and meritorious service; that, with respect to
myself, I thought I was so much obliged to him for the great honour he
did me by repeated acts of generosity, that he might be assured, when I
was with the King my husband I should consider myself bound in duty to
obey all such commands as he should be pleased to give me; and that it
would be my whole study to maintain the King my husband in a submission
to his pleasure.

My brother was now on the point of leaving Alencon to go to Flanders; the
Queen my mother was desirous to see him before his departure. I begged
the King to permit me to take the opportunity of accompanying her to take
leave of my brother, which he granted; but, as it seemed, with great
unwillingness. When we returned from Alencon, I solicited the King to
permit me to take leave of himself, as I had everything prepared for my
journey. The Queen my mother being desirous to go to Gascony, where her
presence was necessary for the King's service, was unwilling that I
should depart without her. When we left Paris, the King accompanied us
on the way as far as his palace of Dolinville. There we stayed with him
a few days, and there we took our leave, and in a little time reached
Guienne, which belonging to, and being under the government of the King
my husband, I was everywhere received as Queen. My husband gave the
Queen my mother a meeting at Wolle, which was held by the Huguenots as a
cautionary town; and the country not being sufficiently quieted, she was
permitted to go no further.

It was the intention of the Queen my mother to make but a short stay; but
so many accidents arose from disputes betwixt the Huguenots and
Catholics, that she was under the necessity of stopping there eighteen
months. As this was very much against her inclination, she was sometimes
inclined to think there was a design to keep her, in order to have the
company of her maids of honour. For my husband had been greatly smitten
with Dayelle, and M. de Thurene was in love with La Vergne. However, I
received every mark of honour and attention from the King that I could
expect or desire. He related to me, as soon as we met, the artifices
which had been put in practice whilst he remained at Court to create a
misunderstanding betwixt him and me; all this, he said, he knew was with
a design to cause a rupture betwixt my brother and him, and thereby ruin
us all three, as there was an exceeding great jealousy entertained of the
friendship which existed betwixt us.

We remained in the disagreeable situation I have before described all the
time the Queen my mother stayed in Gascony; but, as soon as she could
reestablish peace, she, by desire of the King my husband, removed the
King's lieutenant, the Marquis de Villars, putting in his place the
Marechal de Biron. She then departed for Languedoc, and we conducted her
to Castelnaudary; where, taking our leave, we returned to Pau, in Bearn;
in which place, the Catholic religion not being tolerated, I was only
allowed to have mass celebrated in a chapel of about three or four feet
in length, and so narrow that it could scarcely hold seven or eight
persons. During the celebration of mass, the bridge of the castle was
drawn up to prevent the Catholics of the town and country from coming to
assist at it; who having been, for some years, deprived of the benefit of
following their own mode of worship, would have gladly been present.
Actuated by so holy and laudable a desire, some of the inhabitants of
Pau, on Whitsunday, found means to get into the castle before the bridge
was drawn up, and were present at the celebration of mass, not being
discovered until it was nearly over. At length the Huguenots espied
them, and ran to acquaint Le Pin, secretary to the King my, husband, who
was greatly in his favour, and who conducted the whole business relating
to the new religion. Upon receiving this intelligence, Le Pin ordered
the guard to arrest these poor people, who were severely beaten in my
presence, and afterwards locked up in prison, whence they were not
released without paying a considerable fine.

This indignity gave me great offence, as I never expected anything of the
kind. Accordingly, I complained of it to the King my husband, begging
him to give orders for the release of these poor Catholics, who did not
deserve to be punished for coming to my chapel to hear mass, a
celebration of which they had been so long deprived of the benefit. Le
Pin, with the greatest disrespect to his master, took upon him to reply,
without waiting to hear what the King had to say. He told me that I
ought not to trouble the King my husband about such matters; that what
had been done was very right and proper; that those people had justly
merited the treatment they met with, and all I could say would go for
nothing, for it must be so; and that I ought to rest satisfied with being
permitted to have mass said to me and my servants. This insolent speech
from a person of his inferior condition incensed me greatly, and I
entreated the King my husband, if I had the least share in his good
graces, to do me justice, and avenge the insult offered me by this low

The King my husband, perceiving that I was offended, as I had reason to
be, with this gross indignity, ordered Le Pin to quit our presence
immediately; and, expressing his concern at his secretary's behaviour,
who, he said, was overzealous in the cause of religion, he promised that
he would make an example of him. As to the Catholic prisoners, he said
he would advise with his parliament what ought to be done for my

Having said this, he went to his closet, where he found Le Pin, who, by
dint of persuasion, made him change his resolution; insomuch that,
fearing I should insist upon his dismissing his secretary, he avoided
meeting me. At last, finding that I was firmly resolved to leave him,
unless he dismissed Le Pin, he took advice of some persons, who, having
themselves a dislike to the secretary, represented that he ought not to
give me cause of displeasure for the sake of a man of his small
importance,--especially one who, like him, had given me just reason to be
offended; that, when it became known to the King my brother and the Queen
my mother, they would certainly take it ill that he had not only not
resented it, but, on the contrary, still kept him near his person.

This counsel prevailed with him, and he at length discarded his
secretary. The King, however, continued to behave to me with great
coolness, being influenced, as he afterwards confessed, by the counsel of
M. de Pibrac, who acted the part of a double dealer, telling me that I
ought not to pardon an affront offered by such a mean fellow, but insist
upon his being dismissed; whilst he persuaded the King my husband that
there was no reason for parting with a man so useful to him, for such a
trivial cause. This was done by M. de Pibrac, thinking I might be
induced, from such mortifications, to return to France, where he enjoyed
the offices of president and King's counsellor.

I now met with a fresh cause for disquietude in my present situation,
for, Dayelle being gone, the King my husband placed his affections on
Rebours. She was an artful young person, and had no regard for me;
accordingly, she did me all the ill offices in her power with him. In the
midst of these trials, I put my trust in God, and he, moved with pity by
my tears, gave permission for our leaving Pau, that "little Geneva;" and,
fortunately for me, Rebours was taken ill and stayed behind. The King my
husband no sooner lost sight of her than he forgot her; he now turned his
eyes and attention towards Fosseuse. She was much handsomer than the
other, and was at that time young, and really a very amiable person.

Pursuing the road to Montauban, we stopped at a little town called Eause,
where, in the night, the King my husband was attacked with a high fever,
accompanied with most violent pains in his head. This fever lasted for
seventeen days, during which time he had no rest night or day, but was
continually removed from one bed to another. I nursed him the whole
time, never stirring from his bedside, and never putting off my clothes.
He took notice of my extraordinary tenderness, and spoke of it to several
persons, and particularly to my cousin M-----, who, acting the part of an
affectionate relation, restored me to his favour, insomuch that I never
stood so highly in it before. This happiness I had the good fortune to
enjoy during the four or five years that I remained with him in Gascony.

Our residence, for the most part of the time I have mentioned, was at
Nerac, where our Court was so brilliant that we had no cause to regret
our absence from the Court of France. We had with us the Princesse de
Navarre, my husband's sister, since married to the Duc de Bar; there were
besides a number of ladies belonging to myself. The King my husband was
attended by a numerous body of lords and gentlemen, all as gallant
persons as I have seen in any Court; and we had only to lament that they
were Huguenots. This difference of religion, however, caused no dispute
among us; the King my husband and the Princess his sister heard a sermon,
whilst I and my servants heard mass. I had a chapel in the park for the
purpose, and, as soon as the service of both religions was over, we
joined company in a beautiful garden, ornamented with long walks shaded
with laurel and cypress trees. Sometimes we took a walk in the park on
the banks of the river, bordered by an avenue of trees three thousand
yards in length. The rest of the day was passed in innocent amusements;
and in the afternoon, or at night, we commonly had a ball.

The King was very assiduous with Fosseuse, who, being dependent on me,
kept herself within the strict bounds of honour and virtue. Had she
always done so, she had not brought upon herself a misfortune which has
proved of such fatal consequence to myself as well as to her.

But our happiness was too great to be of long continuance, and fresh
troubles broke out betwixt the King my husband and the Catholics, and
gave rise to a new war. The King my husband and the Marechal de Biron,
who was the King's lieutenant in Guienne, had a difference, which was
aggravated by the Huguenots. This breach became in a short time so wide
that all my efforts to close it were useless. They made their separate
complaints to the King. The King my husband insisted on the removal of
the Marechal de Biron, and the Marshal charged the King my husband, and
the rest of those who were of the pretended reformed religion, with
designs contrary to peace. I saw, with great concern, that affairs were
likely soon to come to an open rupture; and I had no power to prevent it.

The Marshal advised the King to come to Guienne himself, saying that in
his presence matters might be settled. The Huguenots, hearing of this
proposal, supposed the King would take possession of their towns, and,
thereupon, came to a resolution to take up arms. This was what I feared;
I was become a sharer in the King my husband's fortune, and was now to be
in opposition to the King my brother and the religion I had been bred up
in. I gave my opinion upon this war to the King my husband and his
Council, and strove to dissuade them from engaging in it. I represented
to them the hazards of carrying on a war when they were to be opposed
against so able a general as the Marechal de Biron, who would not spare
them, as other generals had done, he being their private enemy. I begged
them to consider that, if the King brought his whole force against them,
with intention to exterminate their religion, it would not be in their
power to oppose or prevent it. But they were so headstrong, and so
blinded with the hope of succeeding in the surprise of certain towns in
Languedoc and Gascony, that, though the King did me the honour, upon all
occasions, to listen to my advice, as did most of the Huguenots, yet I
could not prevail on them to follow it in the present situation of
affairs, until it was too late, and after they had found, to their cost,
that my counsel was good. The torrent was now burst forth, and there was
no possibility of stopping its course until it had spent its utmost

Before that period arrived, foreseeing the consequences, I had often
written to the King and the Queen my mother, to offer something to the
King my husband by way of accommodating matters. But they were bent
against it, and seemed to be pleased that matters had taken such a turn,
being assured by Marechal de Biron that he had it in his power to crush
the Huguenots whenever he pleased. In this crisis my advice was not
attended to, the dissensions increased, and recourse was had to arms.

The Huguenots had reckoned upon a force more considerable than they were
able to collect together, and the King my husband found himself
outnumbered by Marechal de Biron. In consequence, those of the pretended
reformed religion failed in all their plans, except their attack upon
Cahors, which they took with petards, after having lost a great number of
men, M. de Vezins, who commanded in the town, disputing their entrance
for two or three days, from street to street, and even from house to
house. The King my husband displayed great valour and conduct upon the.
occasion, and showed himself to be a gallant and brave general. Though
the Huguenots succeeded in this attempt, their loss was so great that
they gained nothing from it. Marechal de Biron kept the field, and took
every place that declared for the Huguenots, putting all that opposed him
to the sword.

From the commencement of this war, the King my husband doing me the
honour to love me, and commanding me not to leave him, I had resolved to
share his fortune, not without extreme regret, in observing that this war
was of such a nature that I could not, in conscience, wish success to
either side; for if the Huguenots got the upper hand, the religion which
I cherished as much as my life was lost, and if the Catholics prevailed,
the King my husband was undone. But, being thus attached to my husband,
by the duty I owed him, and obliged by the attentions he was pleased to
show me, I could only acquaint the King and the Queen my mother with the
situation to which I was reduced, occasioned by my advice to them not
having been attended to. I, therefore, prayed them, if they could not
extinguish the flames of war in the midst of which I was placed, at least
to give orders to Marechal de Biron to consider the town I resided in,
and three leagues round it, as neutral ground, and that I would get the
King my husband to do the same. This the King granted me for Nerac,
provided my husband was not there; but if he should enter it, the
neutrality was to cease, and so to remain as long as he continued there.
This convention was observed, on both sides, with all the exactness I
could desire. However, the King my husband was not to be prevented from
often visiting Nerac, which was the residence of his sister and me. He
was fond of the society of ladies, and, moreover, was at that time
greatly enamoured with Fosseuse, who held the place in his affections
which Rebours had lately occupied. Fosseuse did me no ill offices, so
that the King my husband and I continued to live on very good terms,
especially as he perceived me unwilling to oppose his inclinations.

Led by such inducements, he came to Nerac, once, with a body of troops,
and stayed three days, not being able to leave the agreeable company he
found there. Marechal de Biron, who wished for nothing so much as such
an opportunity, was apprised of it, and, under pretence of joining M. de
Cornusson, the seneschal of Toulouse, who was expected with a
reinforcement for his army, he began his march; but, instead of pursuing
the road, according to the orders he had issued, he suddenly ordered his
troops to file off towards Nerac, and, before nine in the morning, his
whole force was drawn up within sight of the town, and within cannon-shot
of it.

The King my husband had received intelligence, the evening before, of the
expected arrival of M. de Cornusson, and was desirous of preventing the
junction, for which purpose he resolved to attack him and the Marshal
separately. As he had been lately joined by M. de La Rochefoucauld, with
a corps of cavalry consisting of eight hundred men, formed from the
nobility of Saintonge, he found himself sufficiently strong to undertake
such a plan. He, therefore, set out before break of day to make his
attack as they crossed the river. But his intelligence did not prove to
be correct, for De Cornusson passed it the evening before. My husband,
being thus disappointed in his design, returned to Nerac, and entered at
one gate just as Marechal de Biron drew up his troops before the other.
There fell so heavy a rain at that moment that the musketry was of no
use. The King my husband, however, threw a body of his troops into a
vineyard to stop the Marshal's progress, not being able to do more on
account of the unfavourableness of the weather.

In the meantime, the Marshal continued with his troops drawn up in order
of battle, permitting only two or three of his men to advance, who
challenged a like number to break lances in honour of their mistresses.
The rest of the army kept their ground, to mask their artillery, which,
being ready to play, they opened to the right and left, and fired seven
or eight shots upon the town, one of which struck the palace. The
Marshal, having done this, marched off, despatching a trumpeter to me
with his excuse. He acquainted me that, had I been alone, he would on no
account have fired on the town; but the terms of neutrality for the town,
agreed upon by the King, were, as I well knew, in case the King my
husband should not be found in it, and, if otherwise, they were void.
Besides which, his orders were to attack the King my husband wherever he
should find him.

I must acknowledge on every other occasion the Marshal showed me the
greatest respect, and appeared to be much my friend. During the war my
letters have frequently fallen into his hands, when he as constantly
forwarded them to me unopened. And whenever my people have happened to
be taken prisoners by his army, they were always well treated as soon as
they mentioned to whom they belonged.

I answered his message by the trumpeter, saying that I well knew what he
had done was strictly agreeable to the convention made and the orders he
had received, but that a gallant officer like him would know how to do
his duty without giving his friends cause of offence; that he might have
permitted me the enjoyment of the King my husband's company in Nerac for
three days, adding, that he could not attack him, in my presence, without
attacking me; and concluding that, certainly, I was greatly offended by
his conduct, and would take the first opportunity of making my complaint
to the King my brother.


Situation of Affairs in Flanders.--Peace Brought About by Duc d'Alencon's
Negotiation.--Marechal de Biron Apologises for Firing on Nerac.--Henri
Desperately in Love with Fosseuse.--Queen Marguerite Discovers Fosseuse
to Be Pregnant, Which She Denies.--Fosseuse in Labour. Marguerite's
Generous Behaviour to Her.--Marguerite's Return to Paris.

The war lasted some time longer, but with disadvantage to the Huguenots.
The King my husband at length became desirous to make a peace. I wrote
on the subject to the King and the Queen my mother; but so elated were
they both with Marechal de Biron's success that they would not agree to
any terms.

About the time this war broke out, Cambray, which had been delivered up
to my brother by M. d'Ainsi, according to his engagement with me, as I
have before related, was besieged by the forces of Spain. My brother
received the news of this siege at his castle of Plessis-les-Tours,
whither he had retired after his return from Flanders, where, by the
assistance of the Comte de Lalain, he had been invested with the
government of Mons, Valenciennes, and their dependencies.

My brother, being anxious to relieve Cambray, set about raising an army,
with all the expedition possible; but, finding it could not be
accomplished very speedily, he sent forward a reinforcement under the
command of M. de Balagny, to succour the place until he arrived himself
with a sufficient force to raise the siege. Whilst he was in the midst
of these preparations this Huguenot war broke out, and the men he had
raised left him to incorporate themselves with the King's army, which had
reached Gascony.

My brother was now without hope of raising the siege, and to lose Cambray
would be attended with the loss of the other countries he had just
obtained. Besides, what he should regret more, such losses would reduce
to great straits M. de Balagny and the gallant troops so nobly defending
the place.

His grief on this occasion was poignant, and, as his excellent judgment
furnished him with expedients under all his difficulties, he resolved to
endeavour to bring about a peace. Accordingly he despatched a gentleman
to the King with his advice to accede to terms, offering to undertake the
treaty himself. His design in offering himself as negotiator was to
prevent the treaty being drawn out to too great a length, as might be the
case if confided to others. It was necessary that he should speedily
relieve Cambray, for M. de Balagny, who had thrown himself into the city
as I have before mentioned, had written to him that he should be able to
defend the place for six months; but, if he received no succours within
that time, his provisions would be all expended, and he should be obliged
to give way to the clamours of the inhabitants, and surrender the town.

By God's favour, the King was induced to listen to my brother's proposal
of undertaking a negotiation for a peace. The King hoped thereby to
disappoint him in his expectations in Flanders, which he never had
approved. Accordingly he sent word back to my brother that he should
accept his proffer of negotiating a peace, and would send him for his
coadjutors, M. de Villeroy and M. de Bellievre. The commission my
brother was charged with succeeded, and, after a stay of seven months in
Gascony, he settled a peace and left us, his thoughts being employed
during the whole time on the means of relieving Cambray, which the
satisfaction he found in being with us could not altogether abate.

The peace my brother, made, as I have just mentioned, was so judiciously
framed that it gave equal satisfaction to the King and the Catholics, and
to the King my husband and the Huguenots, and obtained him the affections
of both parties. He likewise acquired from it the assistance of that
able general, Marechal de Biron, who undertook the command of the army
destined to raise the siege of Cambray. The King my husband was equally
gratified in the Marshal's removal from Gascony and having Marechal de
Matignon in his place.

Before my brother set off he was desirous to bring about a reconciliation
betwixt the King my husband and Mareohal de Biron, provided the latter
should make his apologies to me for his conduct at Nerac. My brother had
desired me to treat him with all disdain, but I used this hasty advice
with discretion, considering that my brother might one day or other
repent having given it, as he had everything to hope, in his present
situation, from the bravery of this officer.

My brother returned to France accompanied by Marechal de Biron. By his
negotiation of a peace he had acquired to himself great credit with both
parties, and secured a powerful force for the purpose of raising the
siege of Cambray. But honours and success are followed by envy. The
King beheld this accession of glory to his brother with great
dissatisfaction. He had been for seven months, while my brother and I
were together in Gascony, brooding over his malice, and produced the
strangest invention that can be imagined. He pretended to believe (what
the King my husband can easily prove to be false) that I instigated him
to go to war that I might procure for my brother the credit of making
peace. This is not at all probable when it is considered the prejudice
my brother's affairs in, Flanders sustained by the war.

But envy and malice are self-deceivers, and pretend to discover what no
one else can perceive. On this frail foundation the King raised an altar
of hatred, on which he swore never to cease till he had accomplished my
brother's ruin and mine. He had never forgiven me for the attachment I
had discovered for my brother's interest during the time he was in Poland
and since.

Fortune chose to favour the King's animosity; for, during the seven
months that my brother stayed in Gascony, he conceived a passion for
Fosseuse, who was become the doting piece of the King my husband, as I
have already mentioned, since he had quitted Rebours. This new passion
in my brother had induced the King my husband to treat me with coldness,
supposing that I countenanced my brother's addresses. I no sooner
discovered this than I remonstrated with my brother, as I knew he would
make every sacrifice for my repose. I begged him to give over his
pursuit, and not to speak to her again. I succeeded this way to defeat
the malice of my ill-fortune; but there was still behind another secret
ambush, and that of a more fatal nature; for Fosseuse, who was
passionately fond of the King my husband, but had hitherto granted no
favours inconsistent with prudence and modesty, piqued by his jealousy of
my brother, gave herself up suddenly to his will, and unfortunately
became pregnant. She no sooner made this discovery, than she altered her
conduct towards me entirely from what it was before. She now shunned my
presence as much as she had been accustomed to seek it, and whereas
before she strove to do me every good office with the King my husband,
she now endeavoured to make all the mischief she was able betwixt us. For
his part, he avoided me; he grew cold and indifferent, and since Fosseuse
ceased to conduct herself with discretion, the happy moments that we
experienced during the four or five years we were together in Gascony
were no more.

Peace being restored, and my brother departed for France, as I have
already related, the King my husband and I returned to Nerac. We were no
sooner there than Fosseuse persuaded the King my husband to make a
journey to the waters of Aigues-Caudes, in Bearn, perhaps with a design
to rid herself of her burden there. I begged the King my husband to
excuse my accompanying him, as, since the affront that I had received at
Pau, I had made a vow never to set foot in Bearn until the Catholic
religion was reestablished there. He pressed me much to go with him, and
grew angry at my persisting to refuse his request. He told me that his
little girl (for so he affected to call Fosseuse) was desirous to go
there on account of a colic, which she felt frequent returns of. I
answered that I had no objection to his taking her with him. He then
said that she could not go unless I went; that it would occasion scandal,
which might as well be avoided. He continued to press me to accompany
him, but at length I prevailed with him to consent to go without me, and
to take her with him, and, with her, two of her companions, Rebours and
Ville-Savin, together with the governess. They set out accordingly, and
I waited their return at Baviere.

I had every day news from Rebours, informing me how matters went. This
Rebours I have mentioned before to have been the object of my husband's
passion, but she was now cast off, and, consequently, was no friend to
Fosseuse, who had gained that place in his affection she had before held.
She, therefore, strove all she could to circumvent her; and, indeed, she
was fully qualified for such a purpose, as she was a cunning, deceitful
young person. She gave me to understand that Fosseuse laboured to do me
every ill office in her power; that she spoke of me with the greatest
disrespect on all occasions, and expressed her expectations of marrying
the King herself, in case she should be delivered of a son, when I was to
be divorced. She had said, further, that when the King my husband
returned to Baviere, he had resolved to go to Pau, and that I should go
with him, whether I would or not.

This intelligence was far from being agreeable to me, and I knew not what
to think of it. I trusted in the goodness of God, and I had a reliance
on the generosity of the King my husband; yet I passed the time I waited
for his return but uncomfortably, and often thought I shed more tears
than they drank water. The Catholic nobility of the neighbourhood of
Baviere used their utmost endeavours to divert my chagrin, for the month
or five weeks that the King my husband and Fosseuse stayed at

On his return, a certain nobleman acquainted the King my husband with the
concern I was under lest he should go to Pau, whereupon he did not press
me on the subject, but only said he should have been glad if I had
consented to go with him. Perceiving, by my tears and the expressions I
made use of, that I should prefer even death to such a journey, he
altered his intentions and we returned to Nerac.

The pregnancy of Fosseuse was now no longer a secret. The whole Court
talked of it, and not only the Court, but all the country. I was willing
to prevent the scandal from spreading, and accordingly resolved to talk
to her on the subject. With this resolution, I took her into my closet,
and spoke to her thus: "Though you have for some time estranged yourself
from me, and, as it has been reported to me, striven to do me many ill
offices with the King my husband, yet the regard I once had for you, and
the esteem which I still entertain for those honourable persons to whose
family you belong, do not admit of my neglecting to afford you all the
assistance in my power in pour present unhappy situation. I beg you,
therefore, not to conceal the truth, it being both for your interest and
mine, under whose protection you are, to declare it. Tell me the truth,
and I will act towards you as a mother. You know that a contagious
disorder has broken out in the place, and, under pretence of avoiding it,
I will go to Mas-d'Agenois, which is a house belonging to the King my
husband, in a very retired situation. I will take you with me, and such
other persons as you shall name. Whilst we are there, the King will take
the diversion of hunting in some other part of the country, and I shall
not stir thence before your delivery. By this means we shall put a stop
to the scandalous reports which are now current, and which concern you
more than myself."

So far from showing any contrition, or returning thanks for my kindness,
she replied, with the utmost arrogance, that she would prove all those to
be liars who had reported such things of her; that, for my part, I had
ceased for a long time to show her any marks of regard, and she saw that
I was determined upon her ruin. These words she delivered in as loud a
tone as mine had been mildly expressed; and, leaving me abruptly, she
flew in a rage to the King my husband, to relate to him what I had said
to her. He was very angry upon the occasion, and declared he would make
them all liars who had laid such things to her charge. From that moment
until the hour of her delivery, which was a few months after, he never
spoke to me.

She found the pains of labour come upon her about daybreak, whilst she
was in bed in the chamber where the maids of honour slept. She sent for
my physician, and begged him to go and acquaint the King my husband that
she was taken ill. We slept in separate beds in the same chamber, and
had done so for some time.

The physician delivered the message as he was directed, which greatly
embarrassed my husband. What to do he did not know. On the one hand, he
was fearful of a discovery; on the other, he foresaw that, without proper
assistance, there was danger of losing one he so much loved. In this
dilemma, he resolved to apply to me, confess all, and implore my aid and
advice, well knowing that, notwithstanding what had passed, I should be
ready to do him a pleasure. Having come to this resolution, he withdrew
my curtains, and spoke to me thus: "My dear, I have concealed a matter
from you which I now confess. I beg you to forgive me, and to think no
more about what I have said to you on the subject. Will you oblige me so
far as to rise and go to Fosseuse, who is taken very ill? I am well
assured that, in her present situation, you will forget everything and
resent nothing. You know how dearly I love her, and I hope you will
comply with my request." I answered that I had too great a respect for
him to be offended at anything he should do, and that I would go to her
immediately, and do as much for her as if she were a child of my own. I
advised him, in the meantime, to go out and hunt, by which means he would
draw away all his people, and prevent tattling.

I removed Fosseuse, with all convenient haste, from the chamber in which
the maids of honour were, to one in a more retired part of the palace,
got a physician and some women about her, and saw that she wanted for
nothing that was proper in her situation. It pleased God that she should
bring forth a daughter, since dead. As soon as she was delivered I
ordered her to be taken back to the chamber from which she had been
brought. Notwithstanding these precautions, it was not possible to
prevent the story from circulating through the palace. When the King my
husband returned from hunting he paid her a visit, according to custom.
She begged that I might come and see her, as was usual with me when any
one of my maids of honour was taken ill. By this means she expected to
put a stop to stories to her prejudice. The King my husband came from
her into my bedchamber, and found me in bed, as I was fatigued and
required rest, after having been called up so early.

He begged me to get up and pay her a visit. I told him I went according
to his desire before, when she stood in need of assistance, but now she
wanted no help; that to visit her at this time would be only exposing her
more, and cause myself to be pointed at by all the world. He seemed to
be greatly displeased at what I said, which vexed me the more as I
thought I did not deserve such treatment after what I had done at his
request in the morning; she likewise contributed all in her power to
aggravate matters betwixt him and me.

In the meantime, the King my brother, always well informed of what is
passing in the families of the nobility of his kingdom, was not ignorant
of the transactions of our Court. He was particularly curious to learn
everything that happened with us, and knew every minute circumstance that
I have now related. Thinking this a favourable occasion to wreak his
vengeance on me for having been the means of my brother acquiring so much
reputation by the peace he had brought about, he made use of the accident
that happened in our Court to withdraw me from the King my husband, and
thereby reduce me to the state of misery he wished to plunge me in. To
this purpose he prevailed on the Queen my mother to write to me, and
express her anxious desire to see me after an absence of five or six
years. She added that a journey of this sort to Court would be
serviceable to the affairs of the King my husband as well as my own; that
the King my brother himself was desirous of seeing me, and that if I
wanted money for the journey he would send it me. The King wrote to the
same purpose, and despatched Manique, the steward of his household, with
instructions to use every persuasion with me to undertake the journey.
The length of time I had been absent in Gascony, and the unkind usage I
received on account of Fosseuse, contributed to induce me to listen to
the proposal made me.

The King and the Queen both wrote to me. I received three letters, in
quick succession; and, that I might have no pretence for staying, I had
the sum of fifteen hundred crowns paid me to defray the expenses of my
journey. The Queen my mother wrote that she would give me the meeting in
Saintonge, and that, if the King my husband would accompany me so far,
she would treat with him there, and give him every satisfaction with
respect to the King. But the King and she were desirous to have him at
their Court, as he had been before with my brother; and the Marechal de
Matignon had pressed the matter with the King, that he might have no one
to interfere with him in Gascony. I had had too long experience of what
was to be expected at their Court to hope much from all the fine promises
that were made to me. I had resolved, however, to avail myself of the
opportunity of an absence of a few months, thinking it might prove the
means of setting matters to rights. Besides which, I thought that, as I
should take Fosseuse with me, it was possible that the King's passion for
her might cool when she was no longer in his sight, or he might attach
himself to some other that was less inclined to do me mischief.

It was with some difficulty that the King my husband would consent to a
removal, so unwilling was he to leave his Fosseuse. He paid more
attention to me, in hopes that I should refuse to set out on this journey
to France; but, as I had given my word in my letters to the King and the
Queen my mother that I would go, and as I had even received money for the
purpose, I could not do otherwise.

And herein my ill-fortune prevailed over the reluctance I had to leave
the King my husband, after the instances of renewed love and regard which
he had begun to show me.


[Author unknown]

CHARLES, COMTE DE VALOIS, was the younger brother of Philip the Fair, and
therefore uncle of the three sovereigns lately dead. His eldest son
Philip had been appointed guardian to the Queen of Charles IV.; and when
it appeared that she had given birth to a daughter, and not a son, the
barons, joining with the notables of Paris and the, good towns, met to
decide who was by right the heir to the throne, "for the twelve peers of
France said and say that the Crown of France is of such noble estate that
by no succession can it come to a woman nor to a woman's son," as
Froissart tells us. This being their view, the baby daughter of Charles
IV. was at once set aside; and the claim of Edward III. of England, if,
indeed, he ever made it, rested on Isabella of France, his mother, sister
of the three sovereigns. And if succession through a female had been
possible, then the daughters of those three kings had rights to be
reserved. It was, however, clear that the throne must go to a man, and
the crown was given to Philip of Valois, founder of a new house of

The new monarch was a very formidable person. He had been a great feudal
lord, hot and vehement, after feudal fashion; but he was now to show that
he could be a severe master, a terrible king. He began his reign by
subduing the revolted Flemings on behalf of his cousin Louis of Flanders,
and having replaced him in his dignities, returned to Paris and there
held high state as King. And he clearly was a great sovereign; the
weakness of the late King had not seriously injured France; the new King
was the elect of the great lords, and they believed that his would be a
new feudal monarchy; they were in the glow of their revenge over the
Flemings for the days of Courtrai; his cousins reigned in Hungary and
Naples, his sisters were married to the greatest of the lords; the Queen
of Navarre was his cousin; even the youthful King of England did him
homage for Guienne and Ponthieu. The barons soon found out their
mistake. Philip VI., supported by the lawyers, struck them whenever he
gave them opening; he also dealt harshly with the traders, hampering them
and all but ruining them, till the country was alarmed and discontented.
On the other hand, young Edward of England had succeeded to a troubled
inheritance, and at the beginning was far weaker than his rival; his own
sagacity, and the advance of constitutional rights in England, soon
enabled him to repair the breaches in his kingdom, and to gather fresh
strength from the prosperity and good-will of a united people. While
France followed a more restricted policy, England threw open her ports to
all comers; trade grew in London as it waned in Paris; by his marriage
with Philippa of Hainault, Edward secured a noble queen, and with her the
happiness of his subjects and the all-important friendship of the Low
Countries. In 1336 the followers of Philip VI. persuaded Louis of
Flanders to arrest the English merchants then in Flanders; whereupon
Edward retaliated by stopping the export of wool, and Jacquemart van
Arteveldt of Ghent, then at the beginning of his power, persuaded the
Flemish cities to throw off all allegiance to their French-loving Count,
and to place themselves under the protection of Edward. In return Philip
VI. put himself in communication with the Scots, the hereditary foes of
England, and the great wars which were destined to last 116 years, and to
exhaust the strength of two strong nations, were now about to begin. They
brought brilliant and barren triumphs to England, and, like most wars,
were a wasteful and terrible mistake, which, if crowned with ultimate
success, might, by removing the centre of the kingdom into France, have
marred the future welfare of England, for the happy constitutional
development of the country could never have taken place with a sovereign
living at Paris, and French interests becoming ever more powerful.
Fortunately, therefore, while the war evoked by its brilliant successes
the national pride of Englishmen, by its eventual failure it was
prevented from inflicting permanent damage on England.

The war began in 1337 and ended in 1453; the epochs in it are the Treaty
of Bretigny in 1360, the Treaty of Troyes in 1422, the final expulsion of
the English in 1453.

The French King seems to have believed himself equal to the burdens of a
great war, and able to carry out the most far-reaching plans. The Pope
was entirely in his hands, and useful as a humble instrument to curb and
harass the Emperor. Philip had proved himself master of the Flemish,
and, with help of the King of Scotland, hoped so to embarrass Edward III.
as to have no difficulty in eventually driving him to cede all his French
possessions. While he thought it his interest to wear out his antagonist
without any open fighting, it was Edward's interest to make vigorous and
striking war. France therefore stood on the defensive; England was
always the attacking party. On two sides, in Flanders and in Brittany,
France had outposts which, if well defended, might long keep the English
power away from her vitals. Unluckily for his side, Philip was harsh and
raw, and threw these advantages away. In Flanders the repressive
commercial policy of the Count, dictated from Paris, gave Edward the
opportunity, in the end of 1337, of sending the Earl of Derby, with a
strong fleet, to raise the blockade of Cadsand, and to open the Flemish
markets by a brilliant action, in which the French chivalry was found
powerless against the English yeoman-archers; and in 1338 Edward crossed
over to Antwerp to see what forward movement could be made. The other
frontier war was that of Brittany, which began a little later (1341). The
openings of the war were gloomy and wasteful, without glory. Edward did
not actually send defiance to Philip till 1339, when he proclaimed
himself King of France, and quartered the lilies of France on the royal
shield. The Flemish proved a very reed; and though the French army came
up to meet the English in the Vermando country, no fighting took place,
and the campaign of 1339 ended obscurely. Norman and Genoese ships
threatened the southern shores of England, landing at Southampton and in
the Isle of Wight unopposed. In 1340 Edward returned to Flanders; on his
way he attacked the French fleet which lay at Sluys, and utterly
destroyed it. The great victory of Sluys gave England for centuries the
mastery of the British channel. But, important as it was, it gave no
success to the land campaign. Edward wasted his strength on an
unsuccessful siege of Tournia, and, ill-supported by his Flemish allies,
could achieve nothing. The French King in this year seized on Guienne;
and from Scotland tidings came that Edinburgh castle, the strongest place
held by the English, had fallen into the hands of Douglas. Neither from
Flanders nor from Guienne could Edward hope to reach the heart of the
French power; a third inlet now presented itself in Brittany. On the
death of John III. of Brittany, in 1341, Jean de Montfort, his youngest
brother, claimed the great fief, against his niece Jeanne, daughter of
his elder brother Guy, Comte de Penthievre. He urged that the Salic law,
which had been recognised in the case of the crown, should also apply to
this great duchy, so nearly an independent sovereignty. Jeanne had been
married to Charles de Blois, whom John III. of Brittany had chosen as his
heir; Charles was also nephew of King Philip, who gladly espoused his
cause. Thereon Jean de Montfort appealed to Edward, and the two Kings
met in border strife in Brittany. The Bretons sided with John against
the influence of France. Both the claimants were made prisoners; the
ladies carried on a chivalric warfare, Jeanne de Montfort against Jeanne
de Blois, and all went favourably with the French party till Philip, with
a barbarity as foolish as it was scandalous, tempted the chief Breton
lords to Paris and beheaded them without trial. The war, suspended by a
truce, broke out again, and the English raised large forces and supplies,
meaning to attack on three sides at once,--from Flanders, Brittany, and
Guienne. The Flemish expedition came to nothing; for the people of Ghent
in 1345 murdered Jacques van Arteveldt as he was endeavouring to persuade
them to receive the Prince of Wales as their count, and Edward, on
learning this adverse news, returned to England. Thence, in July, 1346,
he sailed for Normandy, and, landing at La Hogue, overran with ease the
country up to Paris. He was not, however, strong enough to attack the
capital, for Philip lay with a large army watching him at St. Denis.
After a short hesitation Edward crossed the Seine at Poissy, and struck
northwards, closely followed by Philip. He got across the Somme safely,
and at Crecy in Ponthieu stood at bay to await the French. Though his
numbers were far less than theirs, he had a good position, and his men
were of good stuff; and when it came to battle, the defeat of the French
was crushing. Philip had to fall back with his shattered army; Edward
withdrew unmolested to Calais, which he took after a long siege in 1347.
Philip had been obliged to call up his son John from the south, where he
was observing the English under the Earl of Derby; thereupon the English
overran all the south, taking Poitiers and finding no opposition. Queen
Philippa of Hainault had also defeated and taken David of Scotland at
Neville's Cross.

The campaign of 1346-1347 was on all hands disastrous to King Philip. He
sued for and obtained a truce for ten months. These were the days of the
"black death," which raged in France from 1347 to 1349, and completed the
gloom of the country, vexed by an arbitrary and grasping monarch, by
unsuccessful war, and now by the black cloud of pestilence. In 1350 King
Philip died, leaving his crown to John of Normandy. He had added two
districts and a title to France: he bought Montpellier from James of
Aragon, and in 1349 also bought the territories of Humbert, Dauphin of
Vienne, who resigned the world under influence of the revived religion of
the time, a consequence of the plague, and became a Carmelite friar. The
fief and the title of Dauphin were granted to Charles, the King's
grandson, who was the first person who attached that title to the heir to
the French throne. Apart from these small advantages, the kingdom of
France had suffered terribly from the reign of the false and heartless
Philip VI. Nor was France destined to enjoy better things under John
"the Good," one of the worst sovereigns with whom she has been cursed. He
took as his model and example the chivalric John of Bohemia, who had been
one of the most extravagant and worthless of the princes of his time, and
had perished in his old age at Crecy. The first act of the new King was
to take from his kinsman, Charles "the Bad" of Navarre, Champagne and
other lands; and Charles went over to the English King. King John was
keen to fight; the States General gave him the means for carrying on war,
by establishing the odious "gabelle" on salt, and other imposts. John
hoped with his new army to drive the English completely out of the
country. Petty war began again on all the frontiers,--an abortive attack
on Calais, a guerilla warfare in Brittany, slight fighting also in
Guienne. Edward in 1335 landed at Calais, but was recalled to pacify
Scotland; Charles of Navarre and the Duke of Lancaster were on the Breton
border; the Black Prince sailed for Bordeaux. In 1356 he rode northward
with a small army to the Loire, and King John, hastily summoning all his
nobles and fief-holders, set out to meet him. Hereon the Black Prince,
whose forces were weak, began to retreat; but the French King outmarched
and intercepted him near Poitiers. He had the English completely in his
power, and with a little patience could have starved them into
submission; instead, he deemed it his chivalric duty to avenge Crecy in
arms, and the great battle of Poitiers was the result (19th September,
1356). The carnage and utter ruin of the French feudal army was quite
incredible; the dead seemed more than the whole army of the Black Prince;
the prisoners were too many to be held. The French army, bereft of
leaders, melted away, and the Black Prince rode triumphantly back to
Bordeaux with the captive King John and his brave little son in his
train. A two years' truce ensued; King John was carried over to London,
where he found a fellow in misfortune in David of Scotland, who had been
for eleven years a captive in English hands. The utter degradation of
the nobles, and the misery of the country, gave to the cities of France
an opportunity which one great man, Etienne Marcel, provost of the
traders at Paris, was not slow to grasp. He fortified the capital and
armed the citizens; the civic clergy made common cause with him; and when
the Dauphin Charles convoked the three Estates at Paris, it was soon seen
that the nobles had become completely discredited and powerless. It was
a moment in which a new life might have begun for France; in vain did the
noble order clamour for war and taxes,--they to do the war, with what
skill and success all men now knew, and the others to pay the taxes.
Clergy, however, and burghers resisted. The Estates parted, leaving what
power there was still in France in the hands of Etienne Marcel. He
strove in vain to reconcile Charles the Dauphin with Charles of Navarre,
who stood forward as a champion of the towns. Very reluctantly did
Marcel entrust his fortunes to such hands. With help of Lecocq, Bishop
of Laon, he called the Estates again together, and endeavoured to lay
down sound principles of government, which Charles the Dauphin was
compelled to accept. Paris, however, stood alone, and even there all
were not agreed. Marcel and Bishop Lecocq, seeing the critical state of
things, obtained the release of Charles of Navarre, then a prisoner. The
result was that ere long the Dauphin-regent was at open war with Navarre
and with Paris. The outbreak of the miserable peasantry, the Jacquerie,
who fought partly for revenge against the nobles, partly to help Paris,
darkened the time; they were repressed with savage bloodshed, and in 1358
the Dauphin's party in Paris assassinated the only great man France had
seen for long. With Etienne Marcel's death all hope of a constitutional
life died out from France; the Dauphin entered Paris and set his foot on
the conquered liberties of his country. Paris had stood almost alone;
civic strength is wanting in France; the towns but feebly supported
Marcel; they compelled the movement to lose its popular and general
character, and to become a first attempt to govern France from Paris
alone. After some insincere negotiations, and a fear of desultory
warfare, in which Edward III. traversed France without meeting with a
single foe to fight, peace was at last agreed to, at Bretigny, in May,
1360. By this act Edward III. renounced the French throne and gave up
all he claimed or held north of the Loire, while he was secured in the
lordship of the south and west, as well as that part of Northern Picardy
which included Calais, Guines, and Ponthieu. The treaty also fixed the
ransom to be paid by King John.

France was left smaller than she had been under Philip Augustus, yet she
received this treaty with infinite thankfulness; worn out with war and
weakness, any diminution of territory seemed better to her than a
continuance of her unbearable misfortunes. Under Charles, first as
Regent, then as King, she enjoyed an uneasy rest and peace for twenty

King John, after returning for a brief space to France, went back into
his pleasant captivity in England, leaving his country to be ruled by the
Regent the Dauphin. In 1364 he died, and Charles V., "the Wise," became
King in name, as he had now been for some years in fact. This cold,
prudent, sickly prince, a scholar who laid the foundations of the great
library in Paris by placing 900 MSS. in three chambers in the Louvre, had
nothing to dazzle the ordinary eye; to the timid spirits of that age he
seemed to be a malevolent wizard, and his name of "Wise" had in it more
of fear than of love. He also is notable for two things: he reformed the
current coin, and recognised the real worth of Du Guesclin, the first
great leader of mercenaries in France, a grim fighting-man, hostile to
the show of feudal warfare, and herald of a new age of contests, in which
the feudal levies would fall into the background. The invention of
gunpowder in this century, the incapacity of the great lords, the rise of
free lances and mercenary troops, all told that a new era had arrived. It
was by the hand of Du Guesclin that Charles overcame his cousin and
namesake, Charles of Navarre, and compelled him to peace. On the other
hand, in the Breton war which followed just after, he was defeated by Sir
John Chandos and the partisans of Jean de Montfort, who made him
prisoner; the Treaty of Guerande, which followed, gave them the dukedom
of Brittany; and Charles V., unable to resist, was fair to receive the
new duke's homage, and to confirm him in the duchy. The King did not
rest till he had ransomed Du Guesclin from the hands of Chandos; he then
gave him commission to raise a paid army of freebooters, the scourge of
France, and to march with them to support, against the Black Prince, the
claims of Henry of Trastamare to the Crown of Castile. Successful at
first by help of the King of Aragon, he was made Constable of Spain at
the coronation of Henry at Burgos. Edward the Black Prince, however,
intervened, and at the battle of Najara (1367) Du Guesclin was again a
prisoner in English hands, and Henry lost his throne. Fever destroyed
the victorious host, and the Black Prince, withdrawing into Gascony,
carried with him the seeds of the disorder which shortened his days. Du
Guesclin soon got his liberty again; and Charles V., seeing how much his
great rival of England was weakened, determined at last on open war. He
allied himself with Henry of Trastamare, listened to the grievances of
the Aquitanians, summoned the Black Prince to appear and answer the
complaints. In 1369, Henry defeated Pedro, took him prisoner, and
murdered him in a brawl; thus perished the hopes of the English party in
the south. About the same time Charles V. sent open defiance and
declaration of war to England. Without delay, he surprised the English
in the north, recovering all Ponthieu at once; the national pride was
aroused; Philip, Duke of Burgundy, who had, through the prudent help of
Charles, lately won as a bride the heiress of Flanders, was stationed at
Rouen, to cover the western approach to Paris, with strict orders not to
fight; the Aquitanians were more than half French at heart. The record
of the war is as the smoke of a furnace. We see the reek of burnt and
plundered towns; there were no brilliant feats of arms; the Black Prince,
gloomy and sick, abandoned the struggle, and returned to England to die;
the new governor, the Earl of Pembroke, did not even succeed in landing:
he was attacked and defeated off Rochelle by Henry of Castile, his whole
fleet, with all its treasure and stores, taken or sunk, and he himself
was a prisoner in Henry's hands. Du Guesclin had already driven the
English out of the west into Brittany; he now overran Poitou, which
received him gladly; all the south seemed to be at his feet. The attempt
of Edward III. to relieve the little that remained to him in France
failed utterly, and by 1372 Poitou was finally lost to England. Charles
set himself to reduce Brittany with considerable success; a diversion
from Calais caused plentiful misery in the open country; but, as the
French again refused to fight, it did nothing to restore the English
cause. By 1375 England held nothing in France except Calais, Cherbourg,
Bayonne, and Bordeaux. Edward III., utterly worn out with war, agreed to
a truce, through intervention of the Pope; it was signed in 1375. In
1377, on its expiring, Charles, who in two years had sedulously improved
the state of France, renewed the war. By sea and land the English were
utterly overmatched, and by 1378 Charles was master of the situation on
all hands. Now, however, he pushed his advantages too far; and the cold
skill which had overthrown the English, was used in vain against the
Bretons, whose duchy he desired to absorb. Languedoc and Flanders also
revolted against him. France was heavily burdened with taxes, and the
future was dark and threatening. In the midst of these things, death
overtook the coldly calculating monarch in September, 1380.

Little had France to hope from the boy who was now called on to fill the
throne. Charles VI. was not twelve years old, a light-wined, handsome
boy, under the guardianship of the royal Dukes his uncles, who had no
principles except that of their own interest to guide them in bringing up
the King and ruling the people. Before Charles VI. had reached years of
discretion, he was involved by the French nobles in war against the
Flemish cities, which, under guidance of the great Philip van Arteveldt,
had overthrown the authority of the Count of Flanders. The French cities
showed ominous signs of being inclined to ally themselves with the civic
movement in the north. The men of Ghent came out to meet their French
foes, and at the battle of Roosebek (1382) were utterly defeated and
crushed. Philip van Arteveldt himself was slain. It was a great triumph
of the nobles over the cities; and Paris felt it when the King returned.
All movement there and in the other northern cities of France was
ruthlessly repressed; the noble reaction also overthrew the "new men" and
the lawyers, by whose means the late King had chiefly governed. Two years
later, the royal Dukes signed a truce with England, including Ghent in
it; and Louis de Male, Count of Flanders, having perished at the same
time, Marguerite his daughter, wife of Philip of Burgundy, succeeded to
his inheritance (1384.) Thus began the high fortunes of the House of
Burgundy, which at one time seemed to overshadow Emperor and King of
France. In 1385, another of the brothers, Louis, Duc d'Anjou, died, with
all his Italian ambitions unfulfilled. In 1386, Charles VI., under
guidance of his uncles, declared war on England, and exhausted all France
in preparations; the attempt proved the sorriest failure. The regency of
the Dukes became daily more unpopular, until in 1388 Charles dismissed
his two uncles, the Dukes of Burgundy and Berri, and began to rule. For
a while all went much better; he recalled his father's friends and
advisers, lightened the burdens of the people, allowed the new ministers
free hand in making prudent government; and learning how bad had been the
state of the south under the Duc de Berri, deprived him of that command
in 1390. Men thought that the young King, if not good himself, was well
content to allow good men to govern in his name; at any, rate, the rule
of the selfish Dukes seemed to be over. Their bad influences, however,
still surrounded him; an attempt to assassinate Olivier de Clisson, the
Constable, was connected with their intrigues and those of the Duke of
Brittany; and in setting forth to punish the attempt on his favourite the
Constable, the unlucky young King, who had sapped his health by
debauchery, suddenly became mad. The Dukes of Burgundy and Berri at once
seized the reins and put aside his brother the young Duc d'Orleans. It
was the beginning of that great civil discord between Burgundy and
Orleans, the Burgundians and Armagnacs, which worked so much ill for
France in the earlier part of the next century. The rule of the uncles
was disastrous for France; no good government seemed even possible for
that unhappy land.

An obscure strife went on until 1404, when Duke Philip of Burgundy died,
leaving his vast inheritance to John the Fearless, the deadly foe of
Louis d'Orleans. Paris was with him, as with his father before him; the
Duke entered the capital in 1405, and issued a popular proclamation
against the ill-government of the Queen-regent and Orleans. Much
profession of a desire for better things was made, with small results. So
things went on until 1407, when, after the Duc de Berri, who tried to
play the part of a mediator, had brought the two Princes together, the
Duc d'Orleans was foully assassinated by a Burgundian partisan. The Duke
of Burgundy, though he at first withdrew from Paris, speedily returned,
avowed the act, and was received with plaudits by the mob. For a few
years the strife continued, obscure and bad; a great league of French
princes and nobles was made to stem the success of the Burgundians; and
it was about this time that the Armagnac name became common. Paris,
however, dominated by the "Cabochians," the butchers' party, the party of
the "marrowbones and cleavers," and entirely devoted to the Burgundians,
enabled John the Fearless to hold his own in France; the King himself
seemed favourable to the same party. In 1412 the princes were obliged to
come to terms, and the Burgundian triumph seemed complete. In 1413 the
wheel went round, and we find the Armagnacs in Paris, rudely sweeping
away all the Cabochians with their professions of good civic rule. The
Duc de Berri was made captain of Paris, and for a while all went against
the Burgundians, until, in 1414, Duke John was fain to make the first
Peace of Arras, and to confess himself worsted in the strife. The young
Dauphin Louis took the nominal lead of the national party, and ruled
supreme in Paris in great ease and self-indulgence.

The year before, Henry V. had succeeded to the throne of England,--a
bright and vigorous young man, eager to be stirring in the world, brave
and fearless, with a stern grasp of things beneath all,--a very
sheet-anchor of firmness and determined character. Almost at the very
opening of his reign, the moment he had secured his throne, he began a
negotiation with France which boded no good. He offered to marry
Catharine, the King's third daughter, and therewith to renew the old
Treaty of Bretigny, if her dower were Normandy, Maine, Anjou, not without
a good sum of money. The French Court, on the other hand, offered him
her hand with Aquitaine and the money, an offer rejected instantly; and
Henry made ready for a rough wooing in arms. In 1415 he crossed to
Harfleur, and while parties still fought in France, after a long and
exhausting siege, took the place; thence he rode northward for Calais,
feeling his army too much reduced to attempt more. The Armagnacs, who
had gathered at Rouen, also pushed fast to the north, and having choice
of passage over the Somme, Amiens being in their hands, got before King
Henry, while he had to make a long round before he could get across that
stream. Consequently, when, on his way, he reached Azincourt, he found
the whole chivalry of France arrayed against him in his path. The great
battle of Azincourt followed, with frightful ruin and carnage of the
French. With a huge crowd of prisoners the young King passed on to
Calais, and thence to England. The Armagnacs' party lay buried in the
hasty graves of Azincourt; never had there been such slaughter of nobles.
Still, for three years they made head against their foes; till in 1418
the Duke of Burgundy's friends opened Paris's gates to his soldiers, and
for the time the Armagnacs seemed to be completely defeated; only the
Dauphin Charles made feeble war from Poitiers. Henry V. with a fresh
army had already made another descent on the Normandy coast; the Dukes of
Anjou, Brittany, and Burgundy made several and independent treaties with
him; and it seemed as though France had completely fallen in pieces.
Henry took Rouen, and although the common peril had somewhat silenced the
strife of faction, no steps were taken to meet him or check his course;
on the contrary, matters were made even more hopeless by the murder of
John, Duke of Burgundy, in 1419, even as he was kneeling and offering
reconciliation at the young Dauphin's feet. The young Duke, Philip, now
drew at once towards Henry, whom his father had apparently wished with
sincerity to check; Paris, too, was weary of the Armagnac struggle, and
desired to welcome Henry of England; the Queen of France also went over
to the Anglo-Burgundian side. The end of it was that on May 21,1420, was
signed the famous Treaty of Troyes, which secured the Crown of France to
Henry, by the exclusion of the Dauphin Charles, whenever poor mad Charles
VI., should cease to live. Meanwhile, Henry was made Regent of France,
promising to maintain all rights and privileges of the Parliament and
nobles, and to crush the Dauphin with his Armagnac friends, in token
whereof he was at once wedded to Catharine of France, and set forth to
quell the opposition of the provinces. By Christmas all France north of
the Loire was in English hands. All the lands to the south of the river
remained firmly fixed in their allegiance to the Dauphin and the
Armagnacs, and these began to feel themselves to be the true French
party, as opposed to the foreign rule of the English. For barely two
years that rule was carried on by Henry V. with inflexible justice, and
Northern France saw with amazement the presence of a real king, and an
orderly government. In 1422 King Henry died; a few weeks later Charles
VI. died also, and the face of affairs began to change, although, at the
first, Charles VII. the "Well-served," the lazy, listless prince, seemed
to have little heart for the perils and efforts of his position. He was
proclaimed King at Mehun, in Berri, for the true France for the time lay
on that side of the Loire, and the Regent Bedford, who took the reins at
Paris, was a vigorous and powerful prince, who was not likely to give way
to an idle dreamer. At the outset Charles suffered two defeats, at
Crevant in 1423, and at Verneuil in 1424, and things seemed to be come to
their worst. Yet he was prudent, conciliatory, and willing to wait; and
as the English power in France--that triangle of which the base was the
sea-line from Harfleur to Calais, and the apex Paris--was unnatural and
far from being really strong; and as the relations between Bedford and
Burgundy might not always be friendly, the man who could wait had many
chances in his favour. Before long, things began to mend; Charles wedded
Marie d'Anjou, and won over that great house to the French side; more and
more was he regarded as the nation's King; symptoms of a wish for
reconciliation with Burgundy appeared; the most vehement Armagnacs were
sent away from Court. Causes of disagreement also shook the friendship
between Burgundy and England.

Feeling the evils of inaction most, Bedford in 1428 decided on a forward
movement, and sent the Earl of Salisbury to the south. He first secured
his position on the north of the Loire, then, crossing that river, laid
siege to Orleans, the key to the south, and the last bulwark of the
national party. All efforts to vex or dislodge him failed; and the
attempt early in 1429 to stop the English supplies was completely
defeated at Bouvray; from the salt fish captured, the battle has taken
the name of "the Day of the Herrings." Dunois, Bastard of Orleans, was,
wounded; the Scots, the King's body-guard, on whom fell ever the grimmest
of the fighting, suffered terribly, and their leader was killed. All
went well for Bedford till it suited the Duke of Burgundy to withdraw
from his side, carrying with him a large part of the fighting power of
the besiegers. Things were already looking rather gloomy in the English
camp, when a new and unexpected rumour struck all hearts cold with fear.
A virgin, an Amazon, had been raised up as a deliverer for France, and
would soon be on them, armed with mysterious powers.

A young peasant girl, one Jeanne d'Arc, had been brought up in the
village of Domremy, hard by the Lorraine border. The district, always
French in feeling, had lately suffered much from Burgundian raids; and
this young damsel, brooding over the treatment of her village and her
country, and filled with that strange vision-power which is no rare
phenomenon in itself with young girls, came at last to believe with warm
and active faith in heavenly appearances and messages, all urging her to
deliver France and her King. From faith to action the bridge is short;
and ere long the young dreamer of seventeen set forth to work her
miracle. Her history is quite unique in the world; and though probably
France would ere many years have shaken off the English yoke, for its
strength was rapidly going, still to her is the credit of having proved
its weakness, and of having asserted the triumphant power of a great
belief. All gave way before her; Charles VII., persuaded doubtless by
his mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon, who warmly espoused her cause,
listened readily to the maiden's voice; and as that voice urged only what
was noble and pure, she carried conviction as she went. In the end she
received the King's commission to undertake the relief of Orleans. Her
coming was fresh blood to the defence; a new spirit seemed to be poured
out on all her followers, and in like manner a deep dejection settled
down on the English. The blockade was forced, and, in eight days the
besiegers raised the siege and marched away. They withdrew to Jargeau,
where they were attacked and routed with great loss. A little later
Talbot himself, who had marched to help them, was also defeated and
taken. Then, compelling Charles to come out from his in glorious ease,
she carried him triumphantly with her to Rheims, where he was duly
crowned King, the Maid of Orldans standing by, and holding aloft the
royal standard. She would gladly have gone home to Domremy now, her
mission being accomplished; for she was entirely free from all ambitious
or secondary aims. But she was too great a power to be spared. Northern
France was still in English hands, and till the English were cast out her
work was not complete; so they made her stay, sweet child, to do the work
which, had there been any manliness in them, they ought to have found it
easy to achieve for themselves. The dread of her went before her,--a
pillar of cloud and darkness to the English, but light and hope to her
countrymen. Men believed that she was called of God to regenerate the
world, to destroy the Saracen at last, to bring in the millennial age.
Her statue was set up in the churches, and crowds prayed before her image
as before a popular saint.

The incapacity and ill-faith of those round the King gave the English
some time to recover themselves; Bedford and Burgundy drew together
again, and steps were taken to secure Paris. When, however, Jeanne,
weary of courtly delays, marched, contemptuous of the King, as far as St.
Denis, friends sprang up on every side. In Normandy, on the English line
of communications, four strong places were surprised; and Bedford, made
timid as to his supplies, fell back to Rouen, leaving only a small
garrison in Paris. Jeanne, ill-supported by the royal troops, failed in
her attack on the city walls, and was made prisoner by the Burgundians;
they handed her over to the English, and she was, after previous
indignities, and such treatment as chivalry alone could have dealt her,
condemned as a witch, and burnt as a relapsed heretic at Rouen in 1431.
Betrayed by the French Court, sold by the Burgundians, murdered by the
English, unrescued by the people of France which she so much loved,
Jeanne d'Arc died the martyr's death, a pious, simple soul, a heroine of
the purest metal. She saved her country, for the English power never
recovered from the shock. The churchmen who burnt her, the Frenchmen of
the unpatriotic party, would have been amazed could they have foreseen
that nearly 450 years afterwards, churchmen again would glorify her name
as the saint of the Church, in opposition to both the religious liberties
and the national feelings of her country.

The war, after having greatly weakened the noblesse, and having caused
infinite sufferings to France, now drew towards a close; the Duke of
Burgundy at last agreed to abandon his English allies, and at a great
congress at Arras, in 1435, signed a treaty with Charles VII. by which
he solemnly came over to the French side. On condition that he should
get Auxerre and Macon, as well as the towns on and near the river Somme,
he was willing to recognise Charles as King of France. His price was
high, yet it was worth all that was given; for, after all, he was of the
French blood royal, and not a foreigner. The death of Bedford, which
took place about the same time, was almost a more terrible blow to the
fortunes of the English. Paris opened her gates to her King in April,
1436; the long war kept on with slight movements now and then for several

The next year was marked by the meeting of the States General, and the
establishment, in principle at least, of a standing army. The Estates
petitioned the willing King that the system of finance in the realm
should be remodelled, and a permanent tax established for the support of
an army. Thus, it was thought, solidity would be given to the royal
power, and the long-standing curse of the freebooters and brigands
cleared away. No sooner was this done than the nobles began to chafe
under it; they scented in the air the coming troubles; they, took as
their head, poor innocents, the young Dauphin Louis, who was willing
enough to resist the concentration of power in royal hands. Their
champion of 1439, the leader of the "Praguerie," as this new league was
called, in imitation, it is said, of the Hussite movement at Prague, the
enthusiastic defender of noble privilege against the royal power, was the
man who afterwards, as Louis XI., was the destroyer of the noblesse on
behalf of royalty. Some of the nobles stood firmly by the King, and,
aided by them and by an army of paid soldiers serving under the new
conditions, Charles VII., no contemptible antagonist when once aroused,
attacked and overthrew the Praguerie; the cities and the country people
would have none of it; they preferred peace under a king's strong hand.
Louis was sent down to the east to govern Dauphiny; the lessons of the
civil war were not lost on Charles; he crushed the freebooters of
Champagne, drove the English out of Pontois in 1441, moved actively up
and down France, reducing anarchy, restoring order, resisting English
attacks. In the last he was loyally supported by the Dauphin, who was
glad to find a field for his restless temper. He repulsed the English at
Dieppe, and put down the Comte d'Armagnac in the south. During the two
years' truce with England which now followed, Charles VII. and Louis drew
off their free-lances eastward, and the Dauphin came into rude collision
with the Swiss not far from Basel, in 1444. Some sixteen hundred
mountaineers long and heroically withstood at St. Jacob the attack of
several thousand Frenchmen, fighting stubbornly till they all perished.

The King and Dauphin returned to Paris, having defended their
border-lands with credit, and having much reduced the numbers of the
lawless free-lances. The Dauphin, discontented again, was obliged once
more to withdraw into Dauphiny, where he governed prudently and with
activity. In 1449, the last scene of the Anglo-French war began. In that
year English adventurers landed on the Breton coast; the Duke called the
French King to his aid. Charles did not tarry this time; he broke the
truce with England; he sent Dunois into Normandy, and himself soon
followed. In both duchies, Brittany and Normandy, the French were
welcomed with delight: no love for England lingered in the west. Somerset
and Talbot failed to defend Rouen, and were driven from point to point,
till every stronghold was lost to them. Dunois then passed into Guienne,
and in a few-months Bayonne, the last stronghold of the English, fell
into his hands (1451). When Talbot was sent over to Bordeaux with five
thousand men to recover the south, the old English feeling revived, for
England was their best customer, and they had little in common with
France. It was, however, but a last flicker of the flame; in July, 1453,
at the siege of Castillon, the aged Talbot was slain and the war at once
came to an end; the south passed finally into the kingdom of France.
Normandy and Guienne were assimilated to France in taxation and army
organisation; and all that remained to England across the Channel was
Calais, with Havre and Guines Castle. Her foreign ambitions and
struggles over, England was left to consume herself in civil strife,
while France might rest and recover from the terrible sufferings she had
undergone. The state of the country had become utterly wretched.

With the end of the English wars new life began to gleam out on France;
the people grew more tranquil, finding that toil and thrift bore again
their wholesome fruits; Charles VII. did not fail in his duty, and took
his part in restoring quiet, order, and justice in the land.

The French Crown, though it had beaten back the English, was still
closely girt in with rival neighbours, the great dukes on every frontier.
All round the east and north lay the lands of Philip of Burgundy; to the
west was the Duke of Brittany, cherishing a jealous independence; the
royal Dukes, Berri, Bourbon, Anjou, are all so many potential sources of
danger and difficulty to the Crown. The conditions of the nobility are
altogether changed; the old barons have sunk into insignificance; the
struggle of the future will lie between the King's cousins and himself,
rather than with the older lords. A few non-royal princes, such as
Armagnac, or Saint-Pol, or Brittany, remain and will go down with the
others; the "new men" of the day, the bastard Dunois or the Constables Du
Guesclin and Clisson, grow to greater prominence; it is clear that the
old feudalism is giving place to a newer order, in which the aristocracy,
from the King's brothers downwards, will group themselves around the
throne, and begin the process which reaches its unhappy perfection under
Louis XIV.

Directly after the expulsion of the English, troubles began between King
Charles VII. and the Dauphin Louis; the latter could not brook a quiet
life in Dauphiny, and the King refused him that larger sphere in the
government of Normandy which he coveted. Against his father's will,
Louis married Charlotte of Savoy, daughter of his strongest neighbour in
Dauphiny; suspicion and bad feeling grew strong between father and son;
Louis was specially afraid of his father's counsellors; the King was
specially afraid of his son's craftiness and ambition. It came to an
open rupture, and Louis, in 1456, fled to the Court of Duke Philip of
Burgundy. There he lived at refuge at Geneppe, meddling a good deal in
Burgundian politics, and already opposing himself to his great rival,
Charles of Charolais, afterwards Charles the Bold, the last Duke of
Burgundy. Bickerings, under his bad influence, took place between King
and Duke; they never burst out into flame. So things went on
uncomfortably enough, till Charles VII. died in 1461 and the reign of
Louis XI. began.

Between father and son what contrast could be greater? Charles VII.,
"the Well-served," so easygoing, so open and free from guile; Louis XI.,
so shy of counsellors, so energetic and untiring, so close and guileful.
History does but apologise for Charles, and even when she fears and
dislikes Louis, she cannot forbear to wonder and admire. And yet Louis
enslaved his country, while Charles had seen it rescued from foreign
rule; Charles restored something of its prosperity, while Louis spent his
life in crushing its institutions and in destroying its elements of
independence. A great and terrible prince, Louis XI. failed in having
little or no constructive power; he was strong to throw down the older
society, he built little in its room. Most serious of all was his action
with respect to the district of the River Somme, at that time the
northern frontier of France. The towns there had been handed over to
Philip of Burgundy by the Treaty of Arras, with a stipulation that the
Crown might ransom them at any time, and this Louis succeeded in doing in
1463. The act was quite blameless and patriotic in itself, yet it was
exceedingly unwise, for it thoroughly alienated Charles the Bold, and led
to the wars of the earlier period of the reign. Lastly, as if he had not
done enough to offend the nobles, Louis in 1464 attacked their hunting
rights, touching them in their tenderest part. No wonder that this year
saw the formation of a great league against him, and the outbreak of a
dangerous civil war. The "League of the Public Weal" was nominally
headed by his own brother Charles, heir to the throne; it was joined by
Charles of Charolais, who had completely taken the command of affairs in
the Burgundian territories, his father the old duke being too feeble to
withstand him; the Dukes of Brittany, Nemours, Bourbon, John of Anjou,
Duke of Calabria, the Comte d'Armagnac, the aged Dunois, and a host of
other princes and nobles flocked in; and the King had scarcely any forces
at his back with which to withstand them. His plans for the campaign
against the league were admirable, though they were frustrated by the bad
faith of his captains, who mostly sympathised with this outbreak of the
feudal nobility. Louis himself marched southward to quell the Duc de
Bourbon and his friends, and returning from that task, only half done for
lack of time, he found that Charles of Charolais had passed by Paris,
which was faithful to the King, and was coming down southwards, intending
to join the Dukes of Berri and Brittany, who were on their way towards
the capital. The hostile armies met at Montleheri on the Orleans road;
and after a strange battle--minutely described by Commines--a battle in
which both sides ran away, and neither ventured at first to claim a
victory, the King withdrew to Corbeil, and then marched into Paris
(1465). There the armies of the league closed in on him; and after a
siege of several weeks, Louis, feeling disaffection all around him, and
doubtful how long Paris herself would bear for him the burdens of
blockade, signed the Peace of Conflans, which, to all appearances,
secured the complete victory to the noblesse, "each man carrying off his
piece." Instantly the contented princes broke up their half-starved
armies and went home, leaving Louis behind to plot and contrive against
them, a far wiser man, thanks to the lesson they had taught him. They
did not let him wait long for a chance. The Treaty of Conflans had given
the duchy of Normandy to the King's brother Charles; he speedily
quarrelled with his neighbour, the Duke of Brittany, and Louis came down
at once into Normandy, which threw itself into his arms, and the whole
work of the league was broken up. The Comte de Charolais, occupied with
revolts at Dinan and Liege, could not interfere, and presently his
father, the old Duke Philip, died (1467), leaving to him the vast
lordships of the House of Burgundy.

And now the "imperial dreamer," Charles the Bold, was brought into
immediate rivalry with that royal trickster, the "universal spider,"
Louis XI. Charles was by far the nobler spirit of the two: his vigour
and intelligence, his industry and wish to raise all around him to a
higher cultivation, his wise reforms at home, and attempts to render his
father's dissolute and careless rule into a well-ordered lordship, all
these things marked him out as the leading spirit of the time. His
territories were partly held under France, partly under the empire: the
Artois district, which also may be taken to include the Somme towns, the
county of Rhetel, the duchy of Bar, the duchy of Burgundy, with Auxerre
and Nevers, were feudally in France; the rest of his lands under the
empire. He had, therefore, interests and means of interference on either
hand; and it is clear that Charles set before himself two different lines
of policy, according as he looked one way or the other.

At the time of Duke Philip's death a new league had been formed against
Louis, embracing the King of England, Edward IV., the Dukes of Burgundy
and Brittany, and the Kings of Aragon and Castile. Louis strained every
nerve, he conciliated Paris, struck hard at disaffected partisans, and in
1468 convoked the States General at Tours. The three Estates were asked
to give an opinion as to the power of the Crown to alienate Normandy, the
step insisted upon by the Duke of Burgundy. Their reply was to the
effect that the nation forbids the Crown to dismember the realm; they
supported their opinion by liberal promises of help. Thus fortified by
the sympathy of his people, Louis began to break up the coalition. He
made terms with the Duc de Bourbon and the House of Anjou; his brother
Charles was a cipher; the King of England was paralysed by the antagonism
of Warwick; he attacked and reduced Brittany; Burgundy, the most
formidable, alone remained to be dealt with. How should he meet him?--by
war or by negotiation? His Court was divided in opinion; the King
decided for himself in favour of the way of negotiation, and came to the
astonishing conclusion that he would go and meet the Duke and win him
over to friendship. He miscalculated both his own powers of persuasion
and the force of his antagonist's temper. The interview of Peronne
followed; Charles held his visitor as a captive, and in the end compelled
him to sign a treaty, of peace, on the basis of that of Conflans, which
had closed the War of the Public Weal. And as if this were not
sufficient humiliation, Charles made the King accompany him on his
expedition to punish the men of Liege, who, trusting to the help of
Louis, had again revolted (1469). This done, he allowed the degraded
monarch to return home to Paris. An assembly of notables of Tours
speedily declared the Treaty of Perrone null, and the King made some
small frontier war on the Duke, which was ended by a truce at Amiens, in
1471. The truce was spent in preparation for a fresh struggle, which
Louis, to whom time was everything, succeeded in deferring from point to
point, till the death of his brother Charles, now Duc de Guienne, in
1472, broke up the formidable combination. Charles the Bold at once
broke truce and made war on the King, marching into northern France,
sacking towns and ravaging the country, till he reached Beauvais. There
the despair of the citizens and the bravery of the women saved the town.
Charles raised the siege and marched on Rouen, hoping to meet the Duke of
Brittany; but that Prince had his hands full, for Louis had overrun his
territories, and had reduced him to terms. The Duke of Burgundy saw that
the coalition had completely failed; he too made fresh truce with Louis
at Senlis (1472), and only, deferred, he no doubt thought, the direct
attack on his dangerous rival. Henceforth Charles the Bold turned his
attention mainly to the east, and Louis gladly saw him go forth to spend
his strength on distant ventures; saw the interview at Treves with the
Emperor Frederick III., at which the Duke's plans were foiled by the
suspicions of the Germans and the King's intrigues; saw the long siege of
the Neusz wearing out his power; bought off the hostility of Edward IV.
of England, who had undertaken to march on Paris; saw Charles embark on
his Swiss enterprise; saw the subjugation of Lorraine and capture of
Nancy (1475), the battle of Granson, the still more fatal defeat of Morat
(1476), and lastly the final struggle of Nancy, and the Duke's death on
the field (January, 1477).

While Duke Charles had thus been running on his fate, Louis XI. had
actively attacked the larger nobles of France, and had either reduced
them to submission or had destroyed them.

As Duke Charles had left no male heir, the King at once resumed the duchy
of Burgundy, as a male fief of the kingdom; he also took possession of
Franche Comte at the same time; the King's armies recovered all Picardy,
and even entered Flanders. Then Mary of Burgundy, hoping to raise up a
barrier against this dangerous neighbour, offered her hand, with all her
great territories, to young Maximilian of Austria, and married him within
six months after her father's death. To this wedding is due the rise to
real greatness of the House of Austria; it begins the era of the larger
politics of modern times.

After a little hesitation Louis determined to continue the struggle
against the Burgundian power. He secured Franche Comte, and on his
northern frontier retook Arras, that troublesome border city, the "bonny
Carlisle" of those days; and advancing to relieve Therouenne, then
besieged by Maximilian, fought and lost the battle of Guinegate (1479).
The war was languid after this; a truce followed in 1480, and a time of
quiet for France. Charles the Dauphin was engaged to marry the little
Margaret, Maximilian's daughter, and as her dower she was to bring
Franche Comte and sundry places on the border line disputed between the
two princes. In these last days Louis XI. shut himself up in gloomy
seclusion in his castle of Plessis near Tours, and there he died in 1483.
A great king and a terrible one, he has left an indellible mark on the
history of France, for he was the founder of France in its later form, as
an absolute monarchy ruled with little regard to its own true welfare. He
had crushed all resistance; he had enlarged the borders of France, till
the kingdom took nearly its modern dimensions; he had organised its army
and administration. The danger was lest in the hands of a feeble boy
these great results should be squandered away, and the old anarchy once
more raise its head.

For Charles VIII., who now succeeded, was but thirteen years old, a weak
boy whom his father had entirely neglected, the training of his son not
appearing to be an essential part of his work in life. The young Prince
had amused himself with romances, but had learnt nothing useful. A head,
however, was found for him in the person of his eldest sister Anne, whom
Louis XI. had married to Peter II., Lord of Beaujeu and Duc de Bourbon.
To her the dying King entrusted the guardianship of his son; and for more
than nine years Anne of France was virtual King. For those years all
went well.

With her disappearance from the scene, the controlling hand is lost, and
France begins the age of her Italian expeditions.

When the House of Anjou came to an end in 1481, and Anjou and Maine fell
in to the Crown, there fell in also a far less valuable piece of
property, the claim of that house descended from Charles, the youngest
brother of Saint Louis, on the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. There was
much to tempt an ambitious prince in the state of Italy. Savoy, which
held the passage into the peninsula, was then thoroughly French in
sympathy; Milan, under Lodovico Sforza, "il Moro," was in alliance with
Charles; Genoa preferred the French to the Aragonese claimants for
influence over Italy; the popular feeling in the cities, especially in
Florence, was opposed to the despotism of the Medici, and turned to
France for deliverance; the misrule of the Spanish Kings of Naples had
made Naples thoroughly discontented; Venice was, as of old, the friend of
France. Tempted by these reasons, in 1494 Charles VIII. set forth for
Italy with a splendid host. He displayed before the eyes of Europe the
first example of a modern army, in its three well-balanced branches of
infantry, cavalry, and artillery. There was nothing in Italy to
withstand his onslaught; he swept through the land in triumph; Charles
believed himself to be a great conqueror giving law to admiring
subject-lands; he entered Pisa, Florence, Rome itself. Wherever he went
his heedless ignorance, and the gross misconduct of his followers, left
behind implacable hostility, and turned all friendship into bitterness.
At last he entered Naples, and seemed to have asserted to the full the
French claim to be supreme in Italy, whereas at that very time his
position had become completely untenable. A league of Italian States was
formed behind his back; Lodovico il Moro, Ferdinand of Naples, the
Emperor, Pope Alexander VI., Ferdinand and Isabella, who were now welding
Spain into a great and united monarchy, all combined against France; and
in presence of this formidable confederacy Charles VIII. had to cut his
way home as promptly as he could. At Fornovo, north of the Apennines, he
defeated the allies in July, 1495; and by November the main French army
had got safely out of Italy. The forces left behind in Naples were worn
out by war and pestilence, and the poor remnant of these, too, bringing
with them the seeds of horrible contagious diseases, forced their way
back to France in 1496. It was the last effort of the King. His health
was ruined by debauchery in Italy, repeated in France; and yet, towards
the end of his reign, he not merely introduced Italian arts, but
attempted to reform the State, to rule prudently, to solace the poor;
wherefore, when he died in 1498, the people lamented him greatly, for he
had been kindly and affable, brave also on the battle-field; and much is
forgiven to a king.

His children died before him, so that Louis d'Orleans, his cousin, was
nearest heir to the throne, and succeeded as Louis XII. By his accession
in 1498 he reunited the fief of Orleans County to the Crown; by marrying
Anne of Brittany, his predecessor's widow, he secured also the great
duchy of Brittany. The dispensation of Pope Alexander VI., which enabled
him to put away his wife Jeanne, second daughter of Louis XI., was
brought into France by Caesar Borgia, who gained thereby his title of
Duke of Valentinois, a large sum of money, a French bride, and promises
of support in his great schemes in Italy.

His ministers were men of real ability. Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of
Rouen, the chief of them, was a prudent and a sagacious ruler, who,
however, unfortunately wanted to be Pope, and urged the King in the
direction of Italian politics, which he would have done much better to
have left alone. Louis XII. was lazy and of small intelligence; Georges
d'Amboise and Caesar Borgia, with their Italian ambitions, easily made
him take up a spirited foreign policy which was disastrous at home.

Utterly as the last Italian expedition had failed, the French people were
not yet weary of the adventure, and preparations for a new war began at
once. In 1499 the King crossed the Alps into the Milanese, and carried
all before him for a while. The duchy at first accepted him with
enthusiasm; but in 1500 it had had enough of the French and recalled
Lodovico, who returned in triumph to Milan. The Swiss mercenaries,
however, betrayed him at Novara into the hands of Louis XII., who carried
him off to France. The triumph of the French in 1500 was also the
highest point of the fortunes of their ally, Caesar Borgia, who seemed
for a while to be completely successful. In this year Louis made a
treaty at Granada, by which he and Ferdinand the Catholic agreed to
despoil Frederick of Naples; and in 1501 Louis made a second expedition
into Italy. Again all seemed easy at the outset, and he seized the
kingdom of Naples without difficulty; falling out, however, with his
partner in the bad bargain, Ferdinand the Catholic, he was speedily swept
completely out of the peninsula, with terrible loss of honour, men, and

It now became necessary to arrange for the future of France. Louis XII.
had only a daughter, Claude, and it was proposed that she should be
affianced to Charles of Austria, the future statesman and emperor. This
scheme formed the basis of the three treaties of Blois (1504). In 1500,
by the Treaty of Granada, Louis had in fact handed Naples over to Spain;
now by the three treaties he alienated his best friends, the Venetians
and the papacy, while he in fact also handed Milan over to the Austrian
House, together with territories considered to be integral parts of
France. The marriage with Charles came to nothing; the good sense of
some, the popular feeling in the country, the open expressions of the
States General of Tours, in 1506, worked against the marriage, which had
no strong advocate except Queen Anne. Claude, on intercession of the
Estates, was affianced to Frangois d'Angouleme, her distant cousin, the
heir presumptive to the throne.

In 1507 Louis made war on Venice; and in the following year the famous
Treaty of Cambrai was signed by Georges d'Amboise and Margaret of
Austria. It was an agreement for a partition of the Venetian
territories,--one of the most shameless public deeds in history. The
Pope, the King of Aragon, Maximilian, Louis XII., were each to have a
share. The war was pushed on with great vigour: the battle of Agnadello
(14th May, 1509) cleared the King's way towards Venice; Louis was
received with open arms by the North Italian towns, and pushed forward to
within eight of Venice. The other Princes came up on every side; the
proud "Queen of the Adriatic" was compelled to shrink within her walls,
and wait till time dissolved the league. This was not long. The Pope,
Julius II., had no wish to hand Northern Italy over to France; he had
joined in the shameless league of Cambrai because he wanted to wrest the
Romagna cities from Venice, and because he hoped to entirely destroy the
ancient friendship between Venice and France. Successful in both aims,
he now withdrew from the league, made peace with the Venetians, and stood
forward as the head of a new Italian combination, with the Swiss for his
fighting men. The strife was close and hot between Pope and King; Louis
XII. lost his chief adviser and friend, Georges d'Amboise, the splendid
churchman of the age, the French Wolsey; he thought no weapon better than
the dangerous one of a council, with claims opposed to those of the
papacy; first a National Council at Tours, then an attempted General
Council at Pisa, were called on to resist the papal claims. In reply
Julius II. created the Holy League of 1511, with Ferdinand of Aragon,
Henry VIII. of England, and the Venetians as its chief members, against
the French. Louis XII. showed vigour; he sent his nephew Gaston de Foix
to subdue the Romagna and threaten the Venetian territories. At the
battle of Ravenna, in 1512, Gaston won a brilliant victory and lost his
life. From that moment disaster dogged the footsteps of the French in
Italy, and before winter they had been driven completely out of the
peninsula; the succession of the Medicean Pope, Leo X., to Julius II.,
seemed to promise the continuance of a policy hostile to France in Italy.
Another attempt on Northern Italy proved but another failure, although
now Louis XII., taught by his mishaps, had secured the alliance of
Venice; the disastrous defeat of La Tremoille, near Novara (1513),
compelled the French once more to withdraw beyond the Alps. In this same
year an army under the Duc de Longueville, endeavouring to relieve
Therouenne, besieged by the English and Maximilian, the Emperor-elect,
was caught and crushed at Guinegate. A diversion in favour of Louis
XII., made by James IV. of Scotland, failed completely; the Scottish King
was defeated and slain at Flodden Field. While his northern frontier was
thus exposed, Louis found equal danger threatening him on the east; on
this aide, however, he managed to buy off the Swiss, who had attacked the
duchy of Burgundy. He was also reconciled with the papacy and the House
of Austria. Early in 1514 the death of Anne of Brittany, his spouse, a
lady of high ambitions, strong artistic tastes, and humane feelings
towards her Bretons, but a bad Queen for France, cleared the way for
changes. Claude, the King's eldest daughter, was now definitely married
to Francois d'Angouleme, and invested with the duchy of Brittany; and the
King himself, still hoping for a male heir to succeed him, married again,
wedding Mary Tudor, the lovely young sister of Henry VIII. This marriage
was probably the chief cause of his death, which followed on New Year's
day, 1515. His was, in foreign policy, an inglorious and disastrous
reign; at home, a time of comfort and material prosperity. Agriculture
flourished, the arts of Italy came in, though (save in architecture)
France could claim little artistic glory of her own; the organisation of
justice and administration was carried out; in letters and learning
France still lagged behind her neighbours.

The heir to the crown was Francois d'Angouleme, great-grandson of that
Louis d'Orleans who had been assassinated in the bad days of the strife
between Burgundians and Armagnacs, in 1407, and great-great-grandson of
Charles V. of France. He was still very young, very eager to be king,
very full of far-reaching schemes. Few things in history are more
striking than the sudden change, at this moment, from the rule of
middle-aged men or (as men of fifty were then often called) old men, to
the rule of youths,--from sagacious, worldly-prudent monarchs--to
impulsive boys,--from Henry VII. to Henry VIII., from Louis XII. to
Frangois I, from Ferdinand to Charles.

On the whole, Frangois I. was the least worthy of the three. He was
brilliant, "the king of culture," apt scholar in Renaissance art and
immorality; brave, also, and chivalrous, so long as the chivalry involved
no self-denial, for he was also thoroughly selfish, and his personal aims
and ideas were mean. His reign was to be a reaction from that of Louis

From the beginning, Francois chose his chief officers unwisely. In
Antoine du Prat, his new chancellor, he had a violent and lawless
adviser; in Charles de Bourbon, his new constable, an untrustworthy
commander. Forthwith he plunged into Italian politics, being determined
to make good his claim both to Naples and to Milan; he made most friendly
arrangements with the Archduke Charles, his future rival, promising to
help him in securing, when the time came, the vast inheritances of his
two grandfathers, Maximilian, the Emperor-elect, and Ferdinand of Aragon;
never was a less wise agreement entered upon. This done, the Italian war
began; Francois descended into Italy, and won the brilliant battle of
Marignano, in which the French chivalry crushed the Swiss burghers and
peasant mercenaries. The French then overran the north of Italy, and, in
conjunction with the Venetians, carried all before them. But the
triumphs of the sword were speedily wrested from him by the adroitness of
the politician; in an interview with Leo X. at Bologna, Francois bartered
the liberties of the Gallican Church for shadowy advantages in Italy. The
'Pragmatic Sanction of Bourgea', which now for nearly a century had
secured to the Church of France independence in the choice of her chief
officers, was replaced by a concordat, whereby the King allowed the
papacy once more to drain the wealth of the Church of France, while the
Pope allowed the King almost autocratic power over it. He was to appoint
to all benefices, with exception of a few privileged offices; the Pope
was no longer to be threatened with general councils, while he should
receive again the annates of the Church.

The years which followed this brilliantly disastrous opening brought
little good to France. In 1516 the death of Ferdinand the Catholic
placed Charles on the throne of Spain; in 1519 the death of Maximilian
threw open to the young Princes the most dazzling prize of human
ambition,--the headship of the Holy Roman Empire. Francois I., Charles,
and Henry VIII. were all candidates for the votes of the seven electors,
though the last never seriously entered the lists. The struggle lay
between Francois, the brilliant young Prince, who seemed to represent the
new opinions in literature and art, and Charles of Austria and Spain, who
was as yet unknown and despised, and, from his education under the
virtuous and scholastic Adrian of Utrecht, was thought likely to
represent the older and reactionary opinions of the clergy. After a long
and sharp competition, the great prize fell to Charles, henceforth known

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