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

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now offered it to Louis in return for effectual aid in men and money.
Louis accepted the proposal with transport. He had been scared, a short
time ago, at the chance of losing another precious relic deposited in the
abbey of St. Denis, one of the nails which, it was said, had held Our
Lord's body upon the cross. It had been mislaid one ceremonial day
whilst it was being exhibited to the people; and, when he recovered it,
"I would rather," said Louis, "that the best city in my kingdom had been
swallowed up in the earth." After having taken all the necessary
precautions for avoiding any appearance of a shameful bargain, he
obtained the crown of thorns, all expenses included, for eleven thousand
livres of Paris, that is, they say, about twenty-six thousand dollars of
our money. Our century cannot have any fellow-feeling with such ready
credulity, which is not required by Christian faith or countenanced by
sound criticism; but we can and we ought to comprehend such sentiments in
an age when men not only had profound faith in the facts recorded in the
Gospels, but could not believe themselves to be looking upon the smallest
tangible relic of those facts without experiencing an emotion and a
reverence as profound as their faith. It is to such sentiments that we
owe one of the most perfect and most charming monuments of the middle
ages, _the Holy Chapel,_ which St. Louis had built between 1245 and 1248
in order to deposit there the precious relics he had collected. The
king's piety had full justice and honor done it by the genius of the
architect, Peter de llontreuil, who, no doubt, also shared his faith.

It was after the purchase of the crown of thorns and the building of _the
Holy Chapel_ that Louis, accomplishing at last the desire of his soul,
departed on his first crusade. We have already gone over the
circumstances connected with his determination, his departure, and his
life in the East, during the six years of pious adventure and glorious
disaster he passed there. We have already seen what an impression of
admiration and respect was produced throughout his kingdom when he was
noticed to have brought back with him from the Holy Land "a fashion of
living and doing superior to his former behavior, although in his youth
he had always been good and innocent and worthy of high esteem." These
expressions of his confessor are fully borne out by the deeds and laws,
the administration at home and the relations abroad, by the whole
government, in fact, of St. Louis during the last fifteen years of his
reign. The idea which was invariably conspicuous and constantly
maintained during his reign was not that of a premeditated and ambitious
policy, ever tending towards an interested object which is pursued with
more or less reasonableness and success, and always with a large amount
of trickery and violence on the part of the prince, of unrighteousness in
his deeds, and of suffering on the part of the people. Philip Augustus,
the grandfather, and Philip the Handsome, the grandson, of St. Louis, the
former with the moderation of an able man, the latter with headiness and
disregard of right or wrong, labored both of them without cessation to
extend the domains and power of the crown, to gain conquests over their
neighbors and their vassals, and to destroy the social system of their
age, the feudal system, its rights as well as its wrongs and tyrannies,
in order to put in its place pure monarchy, and to exalt the kingly
authority above all liberties, whether of the aristocracy or of the
people. St. Louis neither thought of nor attempted anything of the kind;
he did not make war, at one time openly, at another secretly, upon the
feudal system; he frankly accepted its principles, as he found them
prevailing in the facts and the ideas of his times. Whilst fully bent on
repressing with firmness his vassals' attempts to shake themselves free
from their duties towards him, and to render themselves independent of
the crown, he respected their rights, kept his word to them scrupulously,
and required of them nothing but what they really owed him. Into his
relations with foreign sovereigns, his neighbors, he imported the same
loyal spirit. "Certain of his council used to tell him," reports
Joinville, "that he did not well in not leaving those foreigners to their
warfare; for, if he gave them his good leave to impoverish one another,
they would not attack him so readily as if they were rich. To that the
king replied that they said not well; for, quoth he, if the neighboring
princes perceived that I left them to their warfare, they might take
counsel amongst themselves, and say, 'It is through malice that the king
leaves us to our warfare; then it might happen that by cause of the
hatred they would have against me, they would come and attack me, and I
might be a great loser there-by. Without reckoning that I should thereby
earn the hatred of God, who says, 'Blessed be the peacemakers!' So well
established was his renown as a sincere friend of peace and a just
arbiter in great disputes between princes and peoples that his
intervention and his decisions were invited wherever obscure and
dangerous questions arose. In spite of the brilliant victories which, in
1212, he had gained at Taillebourg and Saintes over Henry III., King of
England, he himself perceived, on his return from the East, that the
conquests won by his victories might at any moment become a fresh cause
of new and grievous wars, disastrous, probably, for one or the other of
the two peoples. He conceived, therefore, the design of giving to a
peace which was so desirable a more secure basis by founding it upon a
transaction accepted on both sides as equitable. And thus, whilst
restoring to the King of England certain possessions which the war of
1242 had lost to him, he succeeded in obtaining from him in return "as
well in his own name as in the names of his sons and their heirs, a
formal renunciation of all rights that he could pretend to over the duchy
of Normandy, the countships of Anjou, Maine, Touraine, Poitou, and,
generally, all that his family might have possessed on the continent,
except only the lands which the King of France restored to him by the
treaty and those which remained to him in Gascony. For all these last
the King of England undertook to do liege-homage to the King of France,
in the capacity of peer of France and Duke of Aquitaine and to faithfully
fulfil the duties attached to a fief." When Louis made known this
transaction to his counsellors, "they were very much against it," says
Joinville. "It seemeth to us, sir," said they to the king, "that, if you
think you have not a right to the conquest won by you and your
antecessors from the King of England, you do not make proper restitution
to the said king in not restoring to him the whole; and if you think you
have a right to it, it seemeth to us that you are a loser by all you
restore." "Sirs," answered Louis, "I am certain that the antecessors of
the King of England did quite justly lose the conquest which I hold; and
as for the land I give him, I give it him not as a matter in which I am
bound to him or his heirs, but to make love between my children and his,
who are cousins-german. And it seemeth to me that what I give him I turn
to good purpose, inasmuch as he was not my liegeman, and he hereby cometh
in amongst my liegeman." Henry III., in fact, went to Paris, having with
him the ratification of the treaty, and prepared to accomplish the
ceremony of homage. "Louis received him as a brother, but without
sparing him aught of the ceremony, in which, according to the ideas of
the times, there was nothing humiliating any more than in the name of
vassal, which was proudly borne by the greatest lords. It took place on
Thursday, December 4, 1259, in the royal enclosure stretching in front of
the palace, on the spot where at the present day is the Place Dauphine.
There was a great concourse of prelates, barons, and other personages
belonging to the two courts and the two nations. The King of England,
on his knees, bareheaded, without cloak, belt, sword, or spurs, placed
his folded hands in those of the King of France his suzerain, and said to
him, 'Sir, I become your liegeman with mouth and hands, and I swear and
promise you faith and loyalty, and to guard your right according to my
power, and to do fair justice at your summons or the summons of your
bailiff, to the best of my wit.' Then the king kissed him on the mouth
and raised him up."


Three years later Louis gave not only to the King of England, but to the
whole English nation, a striking proof of his judicious and true-hearted
equity. An obstinate civil war was raging between Henry III. and his
barons. Neither party, in defending its own rights, had any notion of
respecting the rights of its adversaries, and England was alternating
between a kingly and an aristocratic tyranny. Louis, chosen as arbiter
by both sides, delivered solemnly, on the 23d of January, 1264, a
decision which was favorable to the English kingship, but at the same,
time expressly upheld the Great Charter and the traditional liberties of
England. He concluded his decision with the following suggestions of
amnesty: "We will also that the King of England and his barons do forgive
one another mutually, that they do forget all the resentments that may
exist between them; by consequence of the matters submitted to our
arbitration, and that henceforth they do refrain reciprocally from an
offence and injury on account of the same matters." But when men have
had their ideas, passions, and interests profoundly agitated and made to
clash, the wisest decisions and the most honest counsels in the world are
not sufficient to re-establish peace; the cup of experience has to be
drunk to the dregs; and the parties are not resigned to peace until on or
the other, or both, have exhausted themselves in the struggle and
perceive the absolute necessity of accepting either defeat compromise.
In spite of the arbitration of the King of France the civil war continued
in England; but Louis did not seek any way to profit by it so as to
extend, at the expense of his neighbors, his own possessions or power;
he held himself also from their quarrels, and followed up by honest
neutrality ineffectual arbitration. Five centuries afterwards the great
English historian, Hume, rendered him due homage in these terms: "Every
time this virtuous prince interfered in the affairs of England, it was
invariably with the view of settling differences between the king and the
nobility. Adopting an admirable course of conduct, as politic probably
as it certainly was just, he never interposed his good offices save to
put an end the disagreements of the English; he seconded all the measures
which could give security to both parties, and he made persistent
efforts, though without success, to moderate the fiery ambition of the
Earl of Leicester." (Hume, _History of England,_ t. ii. p. 465.)

It requires more than political wisdom, more even than virtue, to enable
a king, a man having in charge the government of men, to accomplish his
mission and to really deserve the title of Most Christian; it requires
that he should be animated by a sentiment of affection, and that he
should, in heart as well as mind, be in sympathy with those multitudes of
creatures over whose lot he exercises so much influence. St. Louis more
perhaps than any other king was possessed of this generous and humane
quality: spontaneously and by the free impulse of his nature he loved his
people, loved mankind, and took a tender and comprehensive interest in
their fortunes, their joys, or their miseries. Being seriously ill in
1259, and desiring to give his eldest son, Prince Louis, whom he lost in
the following year, his last and most heartfelt charge, "Fair son," said
he, "I pray thee make thyself beloved of the people of thy kingdom, for
verily I would rather a Scot should come from Scotland and govern our
people well and loyally than have thee govern it ill." To watch over the
position and interests of all parties in his dominions, and to secure to
all his subjects strict and prompt justice, this was what continually
occupied the mind of Louis IX. There are to be found in his biography
two very different but equally striking proofs of his solicitude in this
respect. M. Felix Faure has drawn up a table of all the journeys made by
Louis in France, from 1254 to 1270, for the better cognizance of matters
requiring his attention, and another of the parliaments which he held,
during the same period, for considering the general affairs of the
kingdom and the administration of justice. Not one of these sixteen
years passed without his visiting several of his provinces, and the year
1270 was the only one in which he did not hold a parliament. (_Histoire
de Saint Louis,_ by M. Felix Faure, t. ii. pp. 120, 339.) Side by side
with this arithmetical proof of his active benevolence we will place a
moral proof taken from Joinville's often-quoted account of St. Louis's
familiar intervention in his subjects' disputes about matters of private
interest. "Many a time," says he, "it happened in summer that the king
went and sat down in the wood of Vincennes after mass, and leaned against
an oak, and made us sit down round about him. And all those who had
business came to speak to him without restraint of usher or other folk.
And then he demanded of them with his own mouth, 'Is there here any who
hath a suit?' and they who had their suit rose up; and then he said,
'Keep silence, all of ye; and ye shall have despatch one after the
other.' And then he called my Lord Peter de Fontaines and my Lord
Geoffrey de Villette (two learned lawyers of the day and counsellors of
St. Louis), and said to one of them, 'Despatch me this suit.' And when
he saw aught to amend in the words of those who were speaking for
another, he himself amended it with his own mouth. I sometimes saw in
summer that, to despatch his people's business, he went into the Paris
garden, clad in camlet coat and linsey surcoat without sleeves, a mantle
of black taffety round his neck, hair right well combed and without coif,
and on his head a hat with white peacock's plumes. And he had carpets
laid for us to sit round about him. And all the people who had business
before him set themselves standing around him; and then he had their
business despatched in the manner I told you of before as to the wood of
Vincennes." (Joinville, chap. xii.)

The active benevolence of St. Louis was not confined to this paternal
care for the private interests of such subjects as approached his person;
he was equally attentive and zealous in the case of measures called for
by the social condition of the times and the general interests of the
kingdom. Amongst the twenty-six government ordinances, edicts, or
letters, contained under the date of his reign in the first volume of the
_Recueil des Ordonnances des Rois de France,_ seven, at the least, are
great acts of legislation and administration of a public kind; and these
acts are all of such a stamp as to show that their main object is not to
extend the power of the crown or subserve the special interests of the
kingship at strife with other social forces; they are real reforms, of
public and moral interest, directed against the violence, disturbances,
and abuses of the feudal system. Many other of St. Louis's legislative
and administrative acts have been published either in subsequent volumes
of the _Recueil des Ordonnances des Rois,_ or in similar collections, and
the learned have drawn attention to a great number of them still
remaining unpublished in various archives. As for the large collection
of legislative enactments known by the name of _Etailissements de Saint
Louis,_ it is probably a lawyer's work, posterior, in great part at
least, to his reign, full of incoherent and even contradictory
enactments, and without any claim to be considered as a general code of
law of St. Louis's date and collected by his order, although the
paragraph which serves as preface to the work is given under his name and
as if it had been dictated by him.

Another act, known by the name of the Pragmatic Sanction, has likewise
got placed, with the date of March, 1268, in the _Recueil des Ordonnances
des Rois de France,_ as having originated with St. Louis. Its object is,
first of all, to secure the rights, liberties, and canonical rules,
internally, of the Church of France; and, next, to interdict "the
exactions and very heavy money-charges which have been imposed or may
hereafter be imposed on the said Church by the court of Rome, and by the
which our kingdom hath been miserably impoverished; unless they take
place for reasonable, pious, and very urgent cause, through inevitable
necessity, and with our spontaneous and express consent and that of the
Church of our kingdom." The authenticity of this act, vigorously
maintained in the seventeenth century by Bossuet (in his _Defense de la
Declaration du Clerge de France de 1682,_ chap. ix. t. xliii. p. 26),
and in our time by M. Daunou (in the _Histoire litteraire de la France,
continuee par des Hembres de l'Institut,_ t. xvi. p. 75, and t. xix.
p. 169), has been and still is rendered doubtful for strong reasons,
which M. Felix Faure, in his _Histoire de Saint Louis_ (t. ii. p. 271),
has summed up with great clearness. There is no design of entering here
upon an examination of this little historical problem; but it is a
bounden duty to point out that, if the authenticity of the Pragmatic
Sanction, as St. Louis's, is questionable, the act has, at bottom,
nothing but what bears a very strong resemblance to, and is quite in
conformity with, the general conduct of that prince. He was profoundly
respectful, affectionate, and faithful towards the papacy, but, at the
same time, very careful in upholding both the independence of the crown
in things temporal, and its right of superintendence in things spiritual.
Attention has been drawn to his posture of reserve during the great
quarrel between the priestdom and the empire, and his firmness in
withstanding the violent measures adopted by Gregory IX. and Innocent IV.
against the Emperor Frederick II. Louis carried his notions, as to the
independence of his judgment and authority, very far beyond the cases in
which that policy went hand in hand with interest, and even into purely
religious questions. The Bishop of Auxerre said to him one day, in the
name of several prelates, "'Sir, these lords which be here, archbishops
and bishops, have told me to tell you that Christianity is perishing in
your hands.' The king crossed himself and said, Well, tell me how that
is made out!' 'Sir,' said the bishop, 'it is because nowadays so little
note is taken of excommunications, that folk let death overtake them
excommunicate without getting absolution, and have no mind to make
atonement to the Church. These lords, therefore, do pray you, sir, for
the love of God and because you ought to do so, to command your provosts
and bailiffs that all those who shall remain a year and a day
excommunicate be forced, by seizure of their goods, to get themselves
absolved.' Whereto the king made answer that he would willingly command
this in respect of the excommunicate touching whom certain proofs should
be given him that they were in the wrong. The bishop said that the
prelates would not have this at any price, and that they disputed the
king's right of jurisdiction in their causes. And the king said that he
would not do it else; for it would be contrary to God and reason if he
should force folks to get absolution when the clergy had done them wrong.
As to that,' said the king, 'I will give you the example of the Count of
Brittany, who for seven years, being fully excommunicate, was at pleas
with the prelates of Brittany; and he prevailed so far that the pope
condemned them all. If, then, I had forced the Count of Brittany, the
first year, to get absolution, I should have sinned against God and
against him.' Then the prelates gave up; and never since that time have
I heard that a single demand was made touching the matters above spoken
of." (Joinville, chap. xiii. p. 43.)

One special fact in the civil and municipal administration of St. Louis
deserves to find a place in history. After the time of Philip Augustus
there was malfeasance in the police of Paris. The provostship of Paris,
which comprehended functions analogous to those of prefect, mayor, and
receiver-general, became a purchasable office, filled sometimes by two
provosts at a time. The burghers no longer found justice or security in
the city where the king resided. At his return from his first crusade,
Louis recognized the necessity for applying a remedy to this evil; the
provostship ceased to be a purchasable office; and he made it separate
from the receivership of the royal domain. In 1258 he chose as provost
Stephen Boileau, a burgher of note and esteem in Paris; and in order to
give this magistrate the authority of which he had need, the king
sometimes came and sat beside him when he was administering justice at
the Chatelet. Stephen Boileau justified the king's confidence, and
maintained so strict a police that he had his own godson hanged for
theft. His administrative foresight was equal to his judicial severity.
He established registers wherein were to be inscribed the rules
habitually followed in respect of the organization and work of the
different corporations of artisans, the tariffs of the dues charged, in
the name of the king, upon the admittance of provisions and merchandise,
and the titles on which the abbots and other lords founded the privileges
they enjoyed within the walls of Paris. The corporations of artisans,
represented by their sworn masters or prud'hommes, appeared one after the
other before the provost to make declaration of the usages in practice
amongst their communities, and to have them registered in the book
prepared for that purpose. This collection of regulations relating to
the arts and trades of Paris in the thirteenth century, known under the
name of _Livre des Metiers d'Etienne Boileau,_ is the earliest monument
of industrial statistics drawn up by the French administration, and it
was inserted, for the first time in its entirety, in 1837, amongst the
_Collection des Documents relatifs d l'Histoire de France,_ published
during M. Guizot's ministry of public instruction.

St. Louis would be but very incompletely understood if we considered him
only in his political and kingly aspect; we must penetrate into his
private life, and observe his personal intercourse with his family, his
household, and his people, if we would properly understand and appreciate
all the originality and moral worth of his character and his life.
Mention has already been made of his relations towards the two queens,
his mother and his wife; and, difficult as they were, they were
nevertheless always exemplary. Louis was a model of conjugal fidelity,
as well as of filial piety. He had by Queen Marguerite eleven children,
six sons and five daughters; he loved her tenderly, he never severed
himself from her, and the modest courage she displayed in the first
crusade rendered her still dearer to him. But he was not blind to her
ambitious tendencies, and to the insufficiency of her qualifications for
government. When he made ready for his second crusade, not only did he
not confide to Queen Marguerite the regency of the kingdom, but he even
took care to regulate her expenses, and to curb her passion for
authority. He forbade her to accept any present for herself or her
children, to lay any commands upon the officers of justice, and to choose
any one for her service, or for that of her children, without the consent
of the council of the regency. And he had reason so to act; for, about
this same time, Queen Marguerite, emulous of holding in the state the
same place that had been occupied by Queen Blanche, was giving all her
thoughts to what her situation would be after her husband's death, and
was coaxing her eldest son, Philip, then sixteen years old, to make her a
promise on oath to remain under her guardianship up to thirty years of
age, to take to himself no counsellor without her approval, to reveal to
her all designs which might be formed against her, to conclude no treaty
with his uncle, Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily, and to keep as a secret
the oath she was thus making him take. Louis was probably informed of
this strange promise by his young son Philip himself, who got himself
released from it by Pope Urban IV. At any rate, the king had a
foreshadowing of Queen Marguerite's inclinations, and took precautions
for rendering them harmless to the crown and the state.

As for his children, Louis occupied himself in thought and deed with
their education and their future, moral and social, showing as much
affection and assiduity as could have been displayed by any father of a
family, even the most devoted to this single task. "After supper they
followed him into his chamber, where he made them sit down around him;
he instructed them in their duties, and then sent them away to bed. He
drew their particular attention to the good and evil deeds of princes.
He, moreover, went to see then in their own apartment when he had any
leisure, informed himself as to the progress they were making, and, like
another Tobias, gave them excellent instructions. . . . On Holy
Thursday his sons used to wash, just as he used, the feet of thirteen of
the poor, give them a considerable sum as alms, and then wait upon them
at table. The king having been minded to carry the first of the poor
souls to the Hotel-Dieu, at Compiegne, with the assistance of his son-in-
law, King Theobald of Navarre, whom he loved as a son, his two eldest
sons, Louis and Philip, carried the second thither." They were wont to
behave towards him in the most respectful manner. He would have all of
them, even Theobald, yield him strict obedience in that which he enjoined
upon them. He desired anxiously that the three children born to him in
the East, during his first crusade, John Tristan, Peter, and Blanche, and
even Isabel, his eldest daughter, should enter upon the cloistered life,
which he looked upon as the safest for their salvation. He exhorted them
thereto, especially his daughter Isabel, many and many a time, in letters
equally tender and pious; but, as they testified no taste for it, he made
no attempt to force their inclinations, and concerned himself only about
having them well married, not forgetting to give them good appanages,
and, for their life in the world, the most judicious counsels. The
instructions, written with his own hand in French, which he committed to
his eldest son, Philip, as soon as he found himself so seriously ill
before Tunis, are a model of virtue, wisdom, and tenderness on the part
of a father, a king, and a Christian.

Pass we from the king's family to the king's household, and from the
children to the servitors of St. Louis. We have here no longer the
powerful tie of blood, and of that feeling, at the same time personal and
yet disinterested, which is experienced by parents on seeing themselves
living over again in their children. Far weaker motives, mere kindness
and custom, unite masters to their servants, and stamp a moral character
upon the relations between them; but with St. Louis, so great was his
kindness, that it resembled affection, and caused affection to spring up
in the hearts of those who were the objects of it. At the same time that
he required in his servitors an almost austere morality, he readily
passed over in silence their little faults, and treated them, in such
cases, not only with mildness, but with that consideration which, in the
humblest conditions, satisfies the self-respect of people, and elevates
them in their own eyes. "Louis used to visit his domestics when they
were ill; and when they died he never failed to pray for them, and to
commend them to the prayers of the faithful. He had the mass for the
dead, which it was his custom to hear every day, sung for them." He had
taken back an old servitor of his grandfather, Philip Augustus, whom that
king had dismissed because his fire sputtered, and John, whose duty it
was to attend to it, did not know how to prevent that slight noise.
Louis was, from time to time, subject to a malady, during which his right
leg, from the ankle to the calf, became inflamed, as red as blood, and
painful. One day, when he had an attack of this complaint, the king, as
he lay, wished to make a close inspection of the redness in his leg; as
John was clumsily holding a lighted candle close to the king, a drop of
hot grease fell on the bad leg; and the king, who had sat up on his bed,
threw himself back, exclaiming, "Ah! John, John, my grandfather turned
you out of his house for a less matter!" and the clumsiness of John drew
down upon him no other chastisement save this exclamation. (_Vie de
Saint Louis,_ by Queen Marguerite's confessor; _Recueiz des Historiens de
France,_ t. xx. p. 105; _Vie de Saint Louis,_ by Lenain de Tillemont,
t. v. p. 388.)

Far away from the king's household and service, and without any personal
connection with him, a whole people, the people of the poor, the infirm,
the sick, the wretched, and the neglected of every sort occupied a
prominent place in the thoughts and actions of Louis. All the
chroniclers of the age, all the historians of his reign, have celebrated
his charity as much as his piety; and the philosophers of the eighteenth
century almost forgave him his taste for relics, in consideration of his
beneficence. And it was not merely legislative and administrative
beneficence; St. Louis did not confine himself to founding and endowing
hospitals, hospices, asylums, the Hotel-Dieu at Pontoise, that at Vernon,
that at Compiegne, and, at Paris, the house of Quinze-Vingts, for three
hundred blind, but he did not spare his person in his beneficence, and
regarded no deed of charity as beneath a king's dignity. Every day,
wherever the king went, one hundred and twenty-two of the poor received
each two loaves, a quart of wine, meat or fish for a good dinner, and a
Paris denier. The mothers of families had a loaf more for each child.
Besides these hundred and twenty-two poor having out-door relief,
thirteen others were every day introduced into the hotel, and there lived
as the king's officers; and three of them sat at table at the same time
with the king, in the same hall as he, and quite close." . . . "Many
a time," says Joinville, "I saw him cut their bread, and give them to
drink. He asked me one day if I washed the feet of the poor on Holy
Thursday. 'Sir,' said I, 'what a benefit! The feet of those knaves!
Not I.' 'Verily,' said he, 'that is ill said, for you ought not to hold
in disdain what God did for our instruction. I pray you, therefore, for
love of me accustom yourself to wash them.'" Sometimes, when the king
had leisure, he used to say, "Come and visit the poor in such and such a
place, and let us feast them to their hearts' content." Once when he
went to Chateauneuf-sur-Loire, a poor old woman, who was at the door of
her cottage, and held in her hand a loaf, said to him, "Good king, it is
of this bread, which comes of thine alms, that my husband, who lieth sick
yonder indoors, doth get sustenance." The king took the bread, saying,
"It is rather hard bread." And he went into the cottage to see with his
own eyes the sick man.

[Illustration: "It is rather hard Bread."----146]

When he was visiting the churches one Holy Friday, at Compiegne, as he
was going that day barefoot according to his custom, and distributing
alms to the poor whom he met, he perceived, on the yonder side of a miry
pond which filled a portion of the street, a leper, who, not daring to
come near, tried, nevertheless, to attract the king's attention. Louis
walked through the pond, went up to the leper, gave him some money, took
his hand and kissed it. "All present," says the chronicler, "crossed
themselves for admiration at seeing this holy temerity of the king, who
had no fear of putting his lips to a hand that none would have dared to
touch." In such deeds there was infinitely more than the goodness and
greatness of a kingly sold; there was in them that profound Christian
sympathy which is moved at the sight of any human creature suffering
severely in body or soul, and which, at such times, gives heed to no
fear, shrinks from no pains, recoils with no disgust, and has no other
thought but that of offering some fraternal comfort to the body or the
soul that is suffering.

He who thus felt and acted was no monk, no prince enwrapt in mere
devoutness and altogether given up to works and practices of piety; he
was a knight, a warrior, a politician, a true king, who attended to the
duties of authority as well as to those of charity, and who won respect
from his nearest friends as well as from strangers, whilst astonishing
them at one time by his bursts of mystic piety and monastic austerity,
at another by his flashes of the ruler's spirit and his judicious
independence, even towards the representatives of the faith and Church
with whom he was in sympathy. "He passed for the wisest man in all his
council." In difficult matters and on grave occasions none formed a
judgment with more sagacity, and what his intellect so well apprehended
he expressed with a great deal of propriety and grace. He was, in
conversation, the nicest and most agreeable of men; "he was gay," says
Joinville, "and when we were private at court, he used to sit at the foot
of his bed; and when the preachers and cordeliers who were there spoke to
him of a book he would like to hear, he said to them, 'Nay, you shall not
read to me, for there is no book so good, after dinner, as talk _ad
libitum,_ that is, every one saying what he pleases.' "Not that he was at
all averse from books and literates: "He was sometimes present at the
discourses and disputations of the University; but he took care to search
out for himself the truth in the word of God and in the traditions of the
Church. . . . Having found out, during his travels in the East, that
a Saracenic sultan had collected a quantity of books for the service of
the philosophers of his sect, he was shamed to see that Christians had
less zeal for getting instructed in the truth than infidels had for
getting themselves made dexterous in falsehood; so much so that, after
his return to France, he had search made in the abbeys for all the
genuine works of St. Augustin, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Gregory, and
other orthodox teachers, and, having caused copies of them to be made, he
had them placed in the treasury of Sainte-Chapelle. He used to read them
when he had any leisure, and he readily lent them to those who might get
profit from them for themselves or for others. Sometimes, at the end of
the afternoon meal, he sent for pious persons with whom he conversed
about God, about the stories in the Bible and the histories of the
saints, or about the lives of the Fathers." He had a particular
friendship for the learned Robert of Sorbon, founder of the Sorbonne,
whose idea was a society of secular ecclesiastics, who, living in common
and having the necessaries of life, should give themselves up entirely to
study and gratuitous teaching. Not only did St. Louis give him every
facility and every aid necessary for the establishment of his learned
college, but he made him one of his chaplains, and often invited him to
his presence and his table in order to enjoy his conversation. "One day
it happened," says Joinville, "that Master Robert was taking his meal
beside me, and we were talking low. The king reproved us, and said,
'Speak up, for your company think that you may be talking evil of them.
If you speak, at meals, of things which should please us, speak up; if
not, be silent.' "Another day, at one of their reunions, with the king
in their midst, Robert of Sorbon reproached Joinville with being "more
bravely clad than the king; for," said he, "you do dress in furs and
green cloth, which the king doth not." Joinville defended himself
vigorously, in his turn attacking Robert for the elegance of his dress.
The king took the learned doctor's part, and when he had gone, "My lord
the king," says Joinville, "called his son, my lord Philip, and King
Theobald, sat him down at the entrance of his oratory, placed his hand on
the ground and said, 'Sit ye down here close by me, that we be not
overheard;' and then he told me that he had called us in order to confess
to us that he had wrongfully taken the part of Master Robert; for, just
as the seneschal [Joinville] saith, ye ought to be well and decently
clad, because your womankind will love you the better for it, and your
people will prize you the more; for, saith the wise man, it is right so
to bedeck one's self with garments and armor that the proper men of this
world say not that there is too much made thereof, nor the young folk too
little." (Joinville, ch. cxxxv. p. 301; ch. v. and vi. pp. 12 16;
t. v. pp. 326, 364, and 368.)

Assuredly there was enough in such and so free an exercise of mind, in
such a rich abundance of thoughts and sentiments, in such a religious,
political, and domestic life, to occupy and satisfy a soul full of energy
and power. But, as has already been said, an idea cherished with a
lasting and supreme passion, the idea of the crusade took entire
possession of St. Louis. For seven years, after his return from the
East, from 1254 to 1261, he appeared to think no more of it; and there is
nothing to show that he spoke of it even to his most intimate confidants.
But, in spite of apparent tranquillity, he lived, so far, in a ferment of
imagination and a continual fever, resembling in that respect, though the
end aimed at was different, those great men, ambitious warriors or
politicians, of natures forever at boiling point, for whom nothing is
sufficient, and who are constantly fostering, beyond the ordinary course
of events, some vast and strange desire, the accomplishment of which
becomes for them a fixed idea and an insatiable passion. As Alexander
and Napoleon were incessantly forming some new design, or, to speak more
correctly, some new dream of conquest and dominion, in the same way St.
Louis, in his pious ardor, never ceased to aspire to a re-entry of
Jerusalem, to the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre, and to the victory
of Christianity over Mohammedanism in the East, always flattering himself
that some favorable circumstance would recall him to his interrupted
work. It has already been told, at the termination, in the preceding
chapter, of the crusaders' history, how he had reason to suppose, in
1261, that circumstances were responding to his desire; how he first of
all prepared, noiselessly and patiently, for his second crusade; how,
after seven years' labor, less and less concealed as days went on, he
proclaimed his purpose, and swore to accomplish it in the following year;
and how at last, in the month of March, 1270, against the will of France,
of the pope, and even of the majority of his comrades, he actually set
out--to go and die, on the 25th of the following August, before Tunis,
without having dealt the Mussulmans of the East even the shadow of an
effectual blow, having no strength to do more than utter, from time to
time, as he raised himself on his bed, the cry of Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
and, at the last moment, as he lay in sackcloth and ashes, pronouncing
merely these parting words: "Father, after the example of our Divine
Master, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!" Even the crusader was
extinct in St. Louis; and only the Christian remained.

The world has seen upon the throne greater captains, more profound
politicians, vaster and more brilliant intellects, princes who have
exercised, beyond their own lifetime, a more powerful and a more lasting
influence than St. Louis; but it has never seen a rarer king, never seen
a man who could possess, as he did, sovereign power without contracting
the passions and vices natural to it, and who, in this respect, displayed
in his government human virtues exalted to the height of Christian. For
all his moral sympathy, and superior as he was to his age, St. Louis,
nevertheless, shared, and even helped to prolong, two of its greatest
mistakes; as a Christian he misconceived the rights of conscience in
respect of religion, and, as a king, he brought upon his people
deplorable evils and perils for the sake of a fruitless enterprise. War
against religious liberty was, for a long course of ages, the crime of
Christian communities and the source of the most cruel evils as well as
of the most formidable irreligious reactions the world has had to
undergo. The thirteenth century was the culminating period of this fatal
notion and the sanction of it conferred by civil legislation as well as
ecclesiastical teaching. St. Louis joined, so far, with sincere
conviction, in the general and ruling idea of his age; and the jumbled
code which bears the name of _Etablissements de Saint Louis,_ and in
which there are collected many ordinances anterior or posterior to his
reign, formally condemns heretics to death, and bids the civil judges to
see to the execution, in this respect, of the bishops' sentences. In
1255 St. Louis himself demanded of Pope Alexander IV. leave for the
Dominicans and Franciscans to exercise, throughout the whole kingdom, the
inquisition already established, on account of the Albigensians, in the
old domains of the Counts of Toulouse. The bishops, it is true, were to
be consulted before condemnation could be pronounced by the inquisitors
against a heretic; but that was a mark of respect for the episcopate and
for the rights of the Gallican Church rather than a guarantee for liberty
of conscience; and such was St. Louis's feeling upon this subject, that
liberty, or rather the most limited justice, was less to be expected from
the kingship than from the episcopate. St. Louis's extreme severity
towards what he called the knavish oath (_vilain serment_), that is,
blasphemy, an offence for which there is no definition save what is
contained in the bare name of it, is, perhaps, the most striking
indication of the state of men's minds, and especially of the king's, in
this respect. Every blasphemer was to receive on his mouth the imprint
of a red-hot iron. "One day the king had a burgher of Paris branded in
this way; and violent murmurs were raised in the capital and came to the
king's ears. He responded by declaring that he wished a like brand might
mark his lips, and that he might bear the shame of it all his life, if
only the vice of blasphemy might disappear from his kingdom. Some time
afterwards, having had a work of great public utility executed, he
received, on that occasion, from the landlords of Paris numerous
expressions of gratitude. 'I expect,' said he, 'a greater recompense
from the Lord for the curses brought upon me by that brand inflicted upon
blasphemers than for the blessings I get because of this act of general
utility.' "(Joinville, chap. cxxxviii.; _Histoire de Saint Louis,_ by M.
Felix Faure, t. ii. p. 300.)

Of all human errors those most in vogue are the most dangerous, for they
are just those from which the most superior minds have the greatest
difficulty in preserving themselves. It is impossible to see, without
horror, into what aberrations of reason and of moral sense men otherwise
most enlightened and virtuous may be led away by the predominant ideas of
their age. And the horror becomes still greater when a discovery is made
of the iniquities, sufferings, and calamities, public and private,
consequent upon the admission of such aberrations amongst the choice
spirits of the period. In the matter of religious liberty, St. Louis is
a striking example of the vagaries which may be fallen into, under the
sway of public feeling, by the most equitable of minds and the most
scrupulous of consciences. A solemn warning, in times of great
intellectual and popular ferment, for those men whose hearts are set on
independence in their thoughts as well as in their conduct, and whose
only object is justice and truth.

As for the crusades, the situation of Louis was with respect to them
quite different and his responsibility far more personal. The crusades
had certainly, in their origin, been the spontaneous and universal
impulse of Christian Europe towards an object lofty, disinterested, and
worthy of the devotion of men; and St. Louis was, without any doubt, the
most lofty, disinterested, and heroic representative of this grand
Christian movement. But towards the middle of the thirteenth century the
moral complexion of the crusades had already undergone great alteration;
the salutary effect they were to have exercised for the advancement of
European civilization still loomed obscurely in the distance; whilst
their evil results were already clearly manifesting themselves, and they
had no longer that beauty lent by spontaneous and general feeling which
had been their strength and their apology. Weariness, doubt, and common
sense had, so far as this matter was concerned, done their work amongst
all classes of the feudal community. As Sire de Joinville, so also had
many knights, honest burghers, and simple country-folks recognized the
flaws in the enterprise, and felt no more belief in its success. It is
the glory of St. Louis that he was, in the thirteenth century, the
faithful and virtuous representative of the crusade such as it was when
it sprang from the womb of united Christendom, and when Godfrey de
Bouillon was its leader at the end of the eleventh. It was the
misdemeanor of St. Louis, and a great error in his judgment, that he
prolonged, by his blindly prejudiced obstinacy, a movement which was more
and more inopportune and illegitimate, for it was becoming day by day
more factitious and more inane.

In the long line of kings of France, called Most Christian Kings, only
two, Charlemagne and Louis IX., have received the still more august title
of Saint. As for Charlemagne, we must not be too exacting in the way of
proofs of his legal right to that title in the Catholic Church; he was
canonized, in 1165 or 1166, only by the anti-pope Pascal III., through
the influence of Frederick Barbarossa; and since that time, the
canonization of Charlemagne has never been officially allowed and
declared by any popes recognized as legitimate. They tolerated and
tacitly admitted it, on account, no doubt, of the services rendered by
Charlemagne to the papacy. But Charlemagne had ardent and influential
admirers outside the pale of popes and emperors; he was the great man and
the popular hero of the Germanic race in Western Europe. His saintship
was welcomed with acclamation in a great part of Germany, where it had
always been religiously kept up. Prom the earliest date of the
University of Paris, he had been the patron there of all students of the
German race. In France, nevertheless, his position as a saint was still
obscure and doubtful, when Louis XI., towards the end of the fifteenth
century, by some motive now difficult to unravel, but probably in order
to take from his enemy, Charles the Rash, Duke of Burgundy, who was in
possession of the fairest provinces of Charlemagne's empire, the
exclusive privilege of so great a memory, ordained that there should be
rendered to the illustrious emperor the honors due to the saints; and he
appointed the 28th of January for his feast-day, with a threat of the
penalty of death against all who should refuse conformity with the order.
Neither the command nor the threat of Louis XI. had any great effect.
It does not appear that, in the Church of France, the saintship of
Charlemagne was any the more generally admitted and kept up; but the
University of Paris faithfully maintained its traditions, and some two
centuries after Louis XI., in 1661, without expressly giving to
Charlemagne the title of saint, it loudly proclaimed him its patron, and
made his feast-day an annual and solemn institution, which, in spite of
some hesitation on the part of the parliament of Paris, and in spite of
the revolutions of our time, still exists as the grand feast-day
throughout the area of our classical studies. The University of France
repaid Charlemagne for the service she had received from him; she
protected his saintship as he had protected her schools and her scholars.

The saintship of Louis IX. was not the object of such doubt, and had no
such need of learned and determined protectors. Claimed as it was on the
very morrow of his death, not only by his son Philip III., called The
Bold, and by the barons and prelates of the kingdom, but also by the
public voice of France and of Europe, it at once became the subject of
investigations and deliberations on the part of the Holy See. For
twenty-four years, new popes, filling in rapid succession the chair of
St. Peter (Gregory X., Innocent V., John XXI., Nicholas III., Martin IV.,
Honorius IV., Nicholas IV., St. Celestine V., and Boniface VIII.),
prosecuted the customary inquiries touching the faith and life, the
virtues and miracles, of the late king; and it was Boniface VIII., the
pope destined to carry on against Philip the Handsome, grandson of St.
Louis, the most violent of struggles, who decreed, on the 11th of August,
1297, the canonization of the most Christian amongst the kings of France,
and one of the truest Christians, king or simple, in France and in

St. Louis was succeeded by his son, Philip III., a prince, no doubt, of
some personal valor, since he has retained in history the nickname of The
Bold, but not otherwise beyond mediocrity. His reign had an unfortunate
beginning. After having passed several months before Tunis, in slack and
unsuccessful continuation of his father's crusade, he gave it up, and
re-embarked in November, 1270, with the remnants of an army anxious to
quit "that accursed land," wrote one of the crusaders, "where we languish
rather than live, exposed to torments of dust, fury of winds, corruption
of atmosphere, and putrefaction of corpses." A tempest caught the fleet
on the coast of Sicily; and Philip lost, by it several vessels, four or
five thousand men, and all the money he had received from the Mussulmans
of Tunis as the price of his departure. Whilst passing through Italy, at
Cosenza, his wife, Isabel of Aragon, six months gone with child, fell
from her horse, was delivered of a child which lived barely a few hours,
and died herself a day or two afterwards, leaving her husband almost as
sick as sad. He at last arrived at Paris, on the 21st of May, 1271,
bringing back with him five royal biers, that of his father, that of his
brother, John Tristan, Count of Nevers, that of his brother-in-law, Theo-
bald King of Navarre, that of his wife, and that of his son. The day
after his arrival he conducted them all in state to the Abbey of St.
Denis, and was crowned at Rheims, not until the 30th of August following.
His reign, which lasted fifteen years, was a period of neither repose nor
glory. He engaged in war several times over in Southern France and in
the north of Spain, in 1272, against Roger Bernard, Count of Foix, and in
1285 against Don Pedro III., King of Aragon, attempting conquests and
gaining victories, but becoming easily disgusted with his enterprises and
gaining no result of importance or durability. Without his taking
himself any official or active part in the matter, the name and credit of
France were more than once compromised in the affairs of Italy through
the continual wars and intrigues of his uncle Charles of Anjou, King of
Sicily, who was just as ambitious, just as turbulent, and just as
tyrannical as his brother St. Louis was scrupulous, temperate, and just.
It was in the reign of Philip the Bold that there took place in Sicily,
on the 30th of March, 1282, that notorious massacre of the French which
is known by the name of Sicilian Vespers, which was provoked by the
unbridled excesses of Charles of Anjou's comrades, and through which many
noble French families had to suffer cruelly.

[Illustration: THE SICILIAN VESPERS----156]

At the same time, the celebrated Italian Admiral Roger de Loria
inflicted, by sea, on the French party in Italy, the Provincal navy, and
the army of Philip the Bold, who was engaged upon incursions into Spain,
considerable reverses and losses. At the same period the foundations
were being laid in Germany and in the north of Italy, in the person of
Rudolph of Hapsburg, elected emperor, of the greatness reached by the
House of Austria, which was destined to be so formidable a rival to
France. The government of Philip III. showed hardly more ability at home
than in Europe; not that the king was himself violent, tyrannical, greedy
of power or money, and unpopular; he was, on the contrary, honorable,
moderate in respect of his personal claims, simple in his manners,
sincerely pious and gentle towards the humble; but he was at the same
time weak, credulous, very illiterate, say the chroniclers, and without
penetration, foresight, or intelligent and determined will. He fell
under the influence of an inferior servant of his house, Peter de la
Brosse, who had been surgeon and barber first of all to St. Louis and
then to Philip III., who made him, before long, his chancellor and
familiar counsellor. Being, though a skilful and active intriguer,
entirely concerned with his own personal fortunes and those of his
family, this barber-mushroom was soon a mark for the jealousy and the
attacks of the great lords of the court. And he joined issue with them,
and even with the young queen, Maria of Brabant, the second wife of
Philip III. Accusations of treason, of poisoning and peculation, were
raised against him, and, in 1276, he was hanged at Paris, on the thieves'
gibbet, in presence of the Dukes of Burgundy and Brabant, the Count of
Artois, and many other personages of note, who took pleasure in
witnessing his execution. His condemnation, "the cause of which remained
unknown to the people," says the chronicler William of Nangis, "was a
great source of astonishment and grumbling." Peter de la Brosse was one
of the first examples, in French history, of those favorites who did not
understand that, if the scandal caused by their elevation were not to
entail their ruin, it was incumbent upon them to be great men.

In spite of the want of ability and the weakness conspicuous in the
government of Philip the Bold, the kingship in France had, in his reign,
better fortunes than could have been expected.

The death, without children, of his uncle Alphonso, St. Louis's brother,
Count of Poitiers and also Count of Toulouse, through his wife, Joan,
daughter of Raymond VII., put Philip in possession of those fair
provinces. He at first possessed the count-ship of Toulouse merely with
the title of count, and as a private domain which was not definitively
incorporated with the crown of France until a century later. Certain
disputes arose between England and France in respect of this great
inheritance; and Philip ended them by ceding Agenois to Edward I., King
of England, and keeping Quercy. He also ceded to Pope Urban IV. the
county of Venaissin, with its capital Avignon, which the court of Rome
claimed by virtue of a gift from Raymond VII., Count of Toulouse, and
which, through a course of many disputations and vicissitudes, remained
in possession of the Holy See until it was reunited to France on the 19th
of February, 1797, by the treaty of Tolentino. But, notwithstanding
these concessions, when Philip the Bold died, at Perpignan, the 5th of
October, 1285, on his return from his expedition in Aragon, the
sovereignty in Southern France, as far as the frontiers of Spain, had
been won for the kingship of France.

A Flemish chronicler, a monk at Egmont, describes the character of Philip
the Bold's successor in the following words: "A certain King of France,
also named Philip, eaten up by the fever of avarice and cupidity." And
that was not the only fever inherent in Philip IV., called The Handsome;
he was a prey also to that of ambition, and, above all, to that of power.
When he mounted the throne, at seventeen years of age, he was handsome,
as his nickname tells us, cold, taciturn, harsh, brave at need, but
without fire or dash, able in the formation of his designs, and obstinate
in prosecuting them by craft or violence, by means of bribery or cruelty,
with wit to choose and support his servants, passionately vindictive
against his enemies, and faithless and unsympathetic towards his
subjects, but from time to time taking care to conciliate them, either by
calling them to his aid in his difficulties or his dangers, or by giving
them protection against other oppressors. Never, perhaps, was king
better served by circumstances or more successful in his enterprises;
but he is the first of the Capetians who had a scandalous contempt for
rights, abused success, and thrust the king-ship, in France, upon the
high road of that arrogant and reckless egotism which is sometimes
compatible with ability and glory, but which carries with it in the germ,
and sooner or later brings out in full bloom, the native vices and fatal
consequences of arbitrary and absolute power.

Away from his own kingdom, in his dealings with foreign countries, Philip
the Handsome had a good fortune, which his predecessors had lacked, and
which his successors lacked still more. Through William the Conqueror's
settlement in England and Henry II.'s marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine,
the Kings of England had, by reason of their possessions and their claims
in France, become the natural enemies of the Kings of France, and war was
almost incessant between the two kingdoms. But Edward I., King of
England, ever since his accession to the throne, in 1272, had his ideas
fixed upon, and his constant efforts directed towards, the conquests of
the countries of Wales and Scotland, so as to unite under his sway the
whole island of Great Britain. The Welsh and the Scotch, from prince to
peasant, offered an energetic resistance in defence of their
independence; and it was only after seven years' warfare, from 1277 to
1284, that the conquest of Wales by the English was accomplished, and the
style of Prince of Wales became the title of the heir to the throne of
England. Scotland, in spite of dissensions at home, made a longer and a
more effectual resistance; and though it was reduced to submission, it
was not conquered by Edward I. Two national heroes, William Wallace and
Robert Bruce, excited against him insurrections which were often
triumphant and always being renewed; and after having, during eighteen
years of strife, maintained a precarious dominion in Scotland, Edward I.
died, in 1307, without having acquired the sovereignty of it. But his
persevering ardor in this two-fold enterprise kept him out of war with
France; he did all he could to avoid it, and when the pressure of
circumstances involved him in it for a time, he was anxious to escape
from it. Being summoned to Paris by Philip the Handsome, in 1286, to
swear fealty and homage on account of his domains in France, he repaired
thither with a good grace, and, on his knees before his souzerain,
repeated to him the solemn form of words, "I become your liegeman for the
lands I hold of you this side the sea, according to the fashion of the
peace which was made between our ancestors." The conditions of this
peace were confirmed, and, by a new treaty between the two princes, the
annual payment of fifty thousand dollars to the King of England, in
exchange for his claims over Normandy, was guaranteed to him, and Edward
renounced his pretensions to Querey in consideration of a yearly sum of
three thousand livres of Tours. In 1292, a quarrel and some hostilities
at sea between the English and Norman commercial navies grew into a war
between the two kings; and it dragged its slow length along for four
years in the south-west of France. Edward made an alliance, in the
north, with the Flemish, who were engaged in a deadly struggle with
Philip the Handsome, and thereby lost Aquitaine for a season; but, in
1296, a truce was concluded between the belligerents, and though the
importance of England's commercial relations with Flanders decided Edward
upon resuming his alliance with the Flemish, when, in 1300, war broke out
again between them and France, he withdrew from it three years
afterwards, and made a separate peace with Philip the Handsome, who gave
him back Aquitaine. In 1306, fresh differences arose between the two
kings; but before they had rekindled the torch of war, Edward I. died at
the opening of a new campaign in Scotland, and his successor, Edward II.,
repaired to Boulogne, where he, in his turn, did homage to Philip the
Handsome for the duchy of Aquitaine, and espoused Philip's daughter
Isabel, reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Europe. In spite,
then, of frequent interruptions, the reign of Edward I. was on the whole
a period of peace between England and France, being exempt, at any rate,
from premeditated and obstinate hostilities.

In Southern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees, Philip the Handsome,
just as his father, Philip the Bold, was, during the first years of his
reign, at war with the Kings of Aragon, Alphonso III. and Jayme II.; but
these campaigns, originating in purely local quarrels, or in the ties
between the descendants of St. Louis and of his brother, Charles of
Anjou, King of the Two Sicilies, rather than in furtherance of the
general interests of France, were terminated in 1291 by a treaty
concluded at Tarascon between the belligerents, and have remained without
historical importance.

The Flemish were the people with whom Philip the Handsome engaged in and
kept up, during the whole of his reign, with frequent alternations of
defeat and success, a really serious war. In the thirteenth century,
Flanders was the most populous and the richest country in Europe. She
owed the fact to the briskness of her manufacturing and commercial
undertakings, not only amongst her neighbors, but throughout Southern and
Eastern Europe, in Italy, in Spain, in Sweden, in Norway, in Hungary, in
Russia, and even as far as Constantinople, where, as we have seen,
Baldwin I., Count of Flanders, became, in 1204, Latin Emperor of the
East. Cloth, and all manner of woollen stuffs, were the principal
articles of Flemish production, and it was chiefly from England that
Flanders drew her supply of Wool, the raw material of her industry.
Thence arose between the two countries commercial relations which could
not fail to acquire political importance. As early as the middle of the
twelfth century, several Flemish towns formed a society for founding in
England a commercial exchange, which obtained great privileges, and,
under the name of the Flemish hanse of London, reached rapid development.
The merchants of Bruges had taken the initiative in it; but soon all the
towns of Flanders--and Flanders was covered with towns--Ghent, Lille,
Ypres, Courtrai, Furnes, Alost, St. Omer, and Douai, entered the
confederation, and made unity as well as extension of liberties in
respect of Flemish commerce the object of their joint efforts. Their
prosperity became celebrated; and its celebrity gave it increase. It was
a burgher of Bruges who was governor of the hanse of London, and he was
called the Count of the Hanse. The fair of Bruges, held in the month of
May, brought together traders from the whole world. "Thither came for
exchange," says the most modern and most enlightened historian of
Flanders (Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, _Histoire de Flandre,_ t. ii.
p. 300), "the produce of the North and the South, the riches collected in
the pilgrimages to Novogorod, and those brought over by the caravans from
Samarcand and Bagdad, the pitch of Norway and the oils of Andalusia, the
furs of Russia and the dates from the Atlas, the metals of Hungary and
Bohemia, the figs of Granada, the honey of Portugal, the wax of Morocco,
and the spice of Egypt; whereby, says an ancient manuscript, no land is
to be compared in merchandise to the land of Flanders." At Ypres, the
chief centre of cloth fabrics, the population increased so rapidly that,
in 1247, the sheriffs prayed Pope Innocent IV. to augment the number of
parishes in their city, which contained, according to their account,
about two hundred thousand persons. So much prosperity made the Counts
of Flanders very puissant lords. "Marguerite II., called the Black,
Countess of Flanders and Hainault, from 1244 to 1280, was extremely
rich," says a chronicler, "not only in lands, but in furniture, jewels,
and money; and, as is not customary with women, she was right liberal and
right sumptuous, not only in her largesses, but in her entertainments,
and whole manner of living; insomuch that she kept up the state of queen
rather than countess." Nearly all the Flemish towns were strongly
organized communes, in which prosperity had won liberty, and which became
before long small republics sufficiently powerful not only for the
defence of their municipal rights against the Counts of Flanders, their
lords, but for offering an armed resistance to such of the sovereigns
their neighbors as attempted to conquer them or to trammel them in their
commercial relations, or to draw upon their wealth by forced
contributions or by plunder. Philip Augustus had begun to have a taste
of their strength during his quarrels with Count Ferdinand of Portugal,
whom he had made Count of Flanders by marrying him to the Countess Joan,
heiress of the countship, and whom, after the battle of Bouvines, he had
confined for thirteen years in the tower of the Louvre. Philip the
Handsome laid himself open to and was subjected by the Flemings to still
rougher experiences.

At the time of the latter king's accession to the throne, Guy de
Dampierre, of noble Champagnese origin, had been for five years Count of
Flanders, as heir to his mother, Marguerite II. He was a prince who did
not lack courage, or, on a great emergency, high-mindedness and honor;
but he was ambitious, covetous, as parsimonious as his mother had been
munificent, and above all concerned to get his children married in a
manner conducive to his own political importance. He had by his two
wives, Matilda of Bethune and Isabel of Luxembourg, nine sons and eight
daughters, offering free scope for combinations and connections, in
respect of which Guy de Dampierre was not at all scrupulous about the
means of success. He had a quarrel with his son-in-law, Florent V.,
Count of Holland, to whom he had given his daughter Beatrice in marriage;
and another of his sons-in-law, John I., Duke of Brabant, married to
another of his daughters, the Princess Marguerite, offered himself as
mediator in the difference. The two brothers-in-law went together to see
their father-in-law; but, on their arrival, Guy de Dampierre seized the
person of the Count of Holland, and would not release him until the Duke
of Brabant offered to become prisoner in his place, and found himself
obliged, in order to obtain his liberty, to pay his father-in-law a tough
ransom. It was not long before Guy himself suffered from the same sort
of iniquitous surprise that he had practised upon his sons-in-law. In
1293 he was secretly negotiating the marriage of Philippa, one of his
daughters, with Prince Edward, eldest son of the King of England. Philip
the Handsome, having received due warning, invited the Count of Flanders
to Paris, "to take counsel with him and the other barons touching the
state of the king-dom." At first Guy hesitated; but he dared not refuse,
and he repaired to Paris, with his sons John and Guy. As soon as he
arrived he bashfully announced to the king the approaching union of his
daughter with the English prince, protesting, "that he would never cease,
for all that, to serve him loyally, as every good and true man should
serve his lord." "In God's name, Sir Count," said the enraged king,
"this thing will never do; you have made alliance with my foe, without my
wit; wherefore you shall abide with me;" and he had him, together with
his sons, marched off at once to the tower of the Louvre, where Guy
remained for six months, and did not then get out save by leaving as
hostage to the King of France his daughter Philippa herself, who was
destined to pass in this prison her young and mournful life. On once
more entering Flanders, Count Guy oscillated for two years between the
King of France and the King of England, submitting to the exactions of
the former, at the same time that he was privily renewing his attempts to
form an intimate alliance with the latter. Driven to extremity by the
haughty severity of Philip, he at last came to a decision, concluded a
formal treaty with Edward I., affianced to the English crown-prince the
most youthful of his daughters, Isabel of Flanders, youngest sister of
Philippa, the prisoner in the tower of the Louvre, and charged two
ambassadors to go to Paris, as the bearers of the following declaration:
"Every one doth know in how many ways the King of France hath misbehaved
towards God and justice. Such is his might and his pride, that he doth
acknowledge nought above himself, and he hath brought us to the necessity
of seeking allies who may be able to defend and protect us. . . . By
reason whereof we do charge our ambassadors to declare and say, for us
and from us, to the above said king, that because of his misdeeds and
defaults of justice, we hold ourselves unbound, absolved, and delivered
from all bonds, all alliances, obligations, conventions, subjections,
services, and dues whereby we may have been bounden towards him."

[Illustration: THE TOWN AND FORTRESS OF LILLE----164]

This meant war. And it was prompt and sharp on the part of the King of
France, slow and dull on the part of the King of England, who was always
more bent upon the conquest of Scotland than upon defending, on the
Continent, his ally, the Count of Flanders. In June, 1297, Philip the
Handsome, in person, laid siege to Lille, and, on the 13th of August,
Robert, Count of Artois, at the head of the French chivalry, gained at
Furnes, over the Flemish army, a victory which decided the campaign.
Lille capitulated. The English re-enforcements arrived too late, and
served no other purpose but that of inducing Philip to grant the Flemings
a truce for two years. A fruitless attempt was made, with the help of
Pope Boniface VIII., to change the truce into a lasting peace. The very
day on which it expired, Charles, Count of Valois, and brother of Philip
the Handsome, entered Flanders with a powerful army, surprised Douai,
passed through Bruges, and, on arriving at Ghent, gave a reception to its
magistrates, who came and offered him the keys. "The burghers of the
towns of Flanders," says a chronicler of the age, "were all bribed by
gifts or promises from the King of France, who would never have dared to
invade their frontiers, had they been faithful to their count." Guy de
Dampierre, hopelessly beaten, repaired, with two of his sons, and fifty-
one of his faithful knights, to the camp of the Count of Valois, who gave
him a kind reception, and urged him to trust himself to the king's
generosity, promising at the same time to support his suit. Guy set out
for Paris with all his retinue. On approaching the City-palace which was
the usual residence of the kings, he espied at one of the windows Queen
Joan of Navarre, who took a supercilious pleasure in gazing upon the
humiliation of the victim of defeat. Guy drooped his head, and gave no
greeting. When he was close to the steps of the palace, he dismounted
from his horse, and placed himself and all his following at the mercy of
the king. The Count of Valois said a few words in his favor, but Philip,
cutting his brother short, said, addressing himself to Guy, "I desire no
peace with you, and if my brother has made any engagements with you, he
had no right to do so." And he had the Count of Flanders taken off
immediately to Compiegne, "to a strong tower, such that all could see
him," and his comrades were distributed amongst several towns, where they
were strictly guarded. The whole of Flanders submitted; and its
principal towns, Ypres, Audenarde, Ter-monde, and Cassel, fell
successively into the hands of the French. Three of the sons of Count
Guy retired to Namur. The constable Raoul of Nesle "was lieutenant for
the King of France in his newly-won country of Flanders." Next year, in
the month of May, 1301, Philip determined to pay his conquest a visit;
and the queen, his wife, accompanied him. There is never any lack of
galas for conquerors. After having passed in state through Tournai,
Courtrai, Audenarde, and Ghent, the King and Queen of France made their
entry into Bruges. All the houses were magnificently decorated; on
platforms covered with the richest tapestry thronged the ladies of
Bruges; there was nothing but haberdashery and precious stones. Such an
array of fine dresses, jewels, and riches, excited a woman's jealousy in
the Queen of France: "There is none but queens," quoth she, "to be seen
in Bruges; I had thought that there was none but I who had a right to
royal state." But the people of Bruges remained dumb; and their silence
scared Philip the Handsome, who vainly attempted to attract a concourse
of people about him by the proclamation of brilliant jousts. "These
galas," says the historian Villani, who was going through Flanders at
this very time, "were the last whereof the French knew aught in our time,
for Fortune, who till then had shown such favor to the King of France, on
a sudden turned her wheel, and the cause thereof lay in the unrighteous
captivity of the innocent maid of Flanders, and in the treason whereof
the Count of Flanders and his sons had been the victims." There were
causes, however, for this new turn of events of a more general and more
profound character than the personal woes of Flemish princes. James de
Chiltillon, the governor assigned by Philip the Handsome to Flanders, was
a greedy oppressor of it; the municipal authorities whom the victories or
the gold of Philip had demoralized became the objects of popular hatred;
and there was an outburst of violent sedition. A simple weaver, obscure,
poor, undersized, and one-eyed, but valiant, and eloquent in his Flemish
tongue, one Peter Deconing, became the leader of revolt in Bruges;
accomplices flocked to him from nearly all the towns of Flanders; and he
found allies amongst their neighbors. In 1302 war again broke out; but
it was no longer a war between Philip the Handsome and Guy de Dampierre:
it was a war between the Flemish communes and their foreign oppressors.
Everywhere resounded the cry of insurrection: "Our bucklers and our
friends for the lion of Flanders! Death to all Walloons! "Philip the
Handsome precipitately levied an army of sixty thousand men, says
Villani, and gave the command of it to Count Robert of Artois, the hero
of Furnes. The forces of the Flemings amounted to no more than twenty
thousand fighting men. The two armies met near Courtrai. The French
chivalry were full of ardor and confidence; and the Italian archers in
their service began the attack with some success. My lord," said one of
his knights to the Count of Artois, "these knaves will do so well that
they will gain the honor of the day; and, if they alone put an end to the
war, what will be left for the noblesse to do?" "Attack, then!"
answered the prince. Two grand attacks succeeded one another; the first
under the orders of the Constable Raoul of Nesle, the second under those
of the Count of Artois in person. After two hours' fighting, both failed
against the fiery national passion of the Flemish communes, and the two
French leaders, the Constable and the Count of Artois, were left, both of
them, lying on the field of battle amidst twelve or fifteen thousand of
their dead. "I yield me! I yield me!" cried the Count of Artois; but,
"We understand not thy lingo," ironically answered in their own tongue
the Flemings who surrounded him; and he was forthwith put to the sword.
Too late to save him galloped up a noble ally of the insurgents, Guy of
Namur. "From the top of the towers of our monastery," says the Abbot of
St. Martin's of Tournai, "we could see the French flying over the roads,
across fields and through hedges, in such numbers that the sight must
have been seen to be believed. There were in the outskirts of our town
and in the neighboring villages, so vast a multitude of knights and men-
at-arms tormented with hunger, that it was a matter horrible to see.
They gave their arms to get bread."

[Illustration: The Battle of Courtrai----167]

A French knight, covered with wounds, whose name has remained unknown,
hastily scratched a few words upon a scrap of parchment dyed with blood;
and that was the first account Philip the Handsome received of the battle
of Courtrai, which was fought and lost on the 11th of July, 1302.

The news of this great defeat of the French spread rapidly throughout
Europe, and filled with joy all those who were hostile to or jealous of
Philip the Handsome. The Flemings celebrated their victory with
splendor, and rewarded with bounteous gifts their burgher heroes, Peter
Deconing amongst others, and those of their neighbors who had brought
them aid. Philip, greatly affected and a little alarmed, sent for his
prisoner, the aged Guy de Dampierre, and loaded him with reproaches, as
if he had to thank him for the calamity; and, forthwith levying a fresh
army, "as numerous," say the chroniclers, "as the grains of sand on the
borders of the sea from Propontis to the Ocean," he took up a position at
Arras, and even advanced quite close to Douai; but he was of those in
whom obstinacy does not extinguish prudence, and who, persevering all the
while in their purposes, have wit to understand the difficulties and
clangers of them. Instead of immediately resuming the war, he entered
into negotiations with the Flemings; and their envoys met him in a ruined
church beneath the walls of Douai. John of Chalons, one of Philip's
envoys, demanded, in his name, that the king should be recognized as lord
of all Flanders, and authorized to punish the insurrection of Bruges,
with a promise, however, to spare the lives of all who had taken part in
it. "How!" said a Fleming, Baldwin de Paperode; "our lives would be left
us, but only after our goods had been pillaged and our limbs subjected to
every torture!" "Sir Castellan," answered John of Chalons, "why speak
you so? A choice must needs be made; for the king is determined to lose
his crown rather than not be avenged." Another Fleming, John de Renesse,
who, leaning on the broken altar, had hitherto kept silence, cried,
"Since so it is, let answer be made to the king that we be come hither to
fight him, and not to deliver up to him our fellow-citizens;" and the
Flemish envoys withdrew. Still Philip did not give up negotiating, for
the purpose of gaining time and of letting the edge wear off the
Flemings' confidence. He returned to Paris, fetched Guy de Dampierre
from the tower of the Louvre, and charged him to go and negotiate peace
under a promise of returning to his prison if he were unsuccessful. Guy,
respected as he was throughout Flanders on account of his age and his
long misfortunes, failed in his attempt, and, faithful to his word, went
back and submitted himself to the power of Philip. "I am so old," said
he to his friends, "that I am ready to die whensoever it shall please
God." And he did die, on the 7th of March, 1304, in the prison of
Compiegne, to which he had been transferred. Philip, all the while
pushing forward his preparations for war, continued to make protestation
of pacific intentions. The Flemish communes desired the peace necessary
for the prosperity of their commerce; but patriotic anxieties wrestled
with material interests. A burgher of Ghent was quietly fishing on the
banks of the Scheldt, when an old man acosted him, saying sharply,
"Knowest thou not, then, that the king is assembling all his armies? It
is time the Ghentese shook off their sloth; the lion of Flanders must no
longer slumber." In the spring of 1304, the cry of war resounded
everywhere. Philip had laid an impost extraordinary upon all real
property in his kingdom; regulars and reserves had been summoned to
Arras, to attack the Flemings by land and sea. He had taken into his pay
a Genoese fleet commanded by Regnier de Grimaldi, a celebrated Italian
admiral; and it arrived in the North Sea, and blockaded Zierikzee, a
maritime town of Zealand. On the 10th of August, 1304, the Flemish fleet
which was defending the place was beaten and dispersed. Philip hoped for
a moment that this reverse would discourage the Flemings; but it was not
so at all. A great battle took place on the 17th of August between the
two land armies at Mons-en-Puelle (or, Mont-en-Pevele, according to the
true local spelling), near Lille; the action was for some time
indecisive, and even after it was over both sides hesitated about
claiming the victory; but when the Flemings saw their camp swept off and
rifled, and when they no longer found in it, say the chroniclers, "their
fine stuffs of Bruges and Ypres, their wines of Rochelle, their beers of
Cambrai, and their cheeses of Bethune," they declared that they would
return to their hearths; and their leaders, unable to restrain them, were
obliged to shut themselves up in Lille, whither Philip, who had himself
retired at first to Arras, came to besiege them. When the first days of
downheartedness were over, and at sight of the danger which threatened
Lille and the remains of the Flemish army assembled within its walls, all
Flanders rushed to arms. "The labors of the workshop and the field were
everywhere suspended," say contemporary Historians: "the women kept guard
in the towns: you might traverse the country without meeting a single
man, for they were all in the camp at Courtrai, to the number of twelve
hundred thousand, according to popular exaggeration, swearing one to
another that they would rather die fighting than live in slavery."
Philip was astounded. "I thought the Flemings," said he, "were
destroyed; but they seem to rain from heaven; "and he resumed his
protestations and pacific overtures. Circumstances were favorable to
him: old Guy de Dampierre was dead; Robert of Bethune, his eldest son and
successor, was still the prisoner of Philip the Handsome, who set him at
liberty after having imposed conditions upon him. Robert, timid in
spirit and weak of heart, accepted them, in spite of the grumblings of
the Flemish populations, always eager to recommence war after a short
respite from its trials. The burghers of Bruges had made themselves a
new seal, whereon the old symbol of the bridge of their city on the Reye
was replaced by the lion of Flanders wearing the crown and armed with the
cross, with this inscription: "The lion hath roared and burst his fetters
"(_Rugiit leo, vincula fregit_). During ten years, from 1305 to 1314,
there was between France and Flanders a continual alternation of
reciprocal concessions and retractations, of treaties concluded and of
renewed insurrections, without decisive and ascertained results. It was
neither peace nor war; and, after the death of Philip the Handsome, his
successors were destined, for a long time to come, to find again and
again amongst the Flemish communes deadly enmities and grievous perils.

At the same time that he was prosecuting this interminable war against
the Flemings, Philip was engaged, in this case also beyond the boundaries
of his kingdom, in a struggle which was still more serious, owing to the
nature of the questions which gave rise to it and to the quality of his
adversary. In 1294 a new pope, Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani, had been
elected under the name of Boniface VIII. He had been for a long time
connected with the French party in Italy, and he owed his elevation to
the influence, especially, of Charles II., King of Naples and Sicily,
grandson of St. Louis and cousin-german of Philip the Handsome. Shortly
before his election, Benedetto Gaetani said to that prince, "Thy pope
(Celestine V.) was willing and able to serve thee, only he knew not how;
as for me, if thou make me pope, I shall be willing and able and know how
to be useful to thee." The long quarrel between the popes and the
Emperors of Germany, who, as Kings of the Romans, aspired to invade or
dominate Italy, had made the Kings of France natural allies of the
papacy, and there had been a saying ever since, arising from a popular
instinct, which had already found its way into poetry,--

"'Tis a goodly match as match can be,
To marry the Church and the fleurs-de-lis:
Should either mate a-straying go,
Then each--too late--will own 'twas so."

Boniface VIII. did not seem fated to withdraw from this policy; he was
old (sixty-six); his party-engagements were of long standing; his
personal fortune was made; three years before his election he possessed
twelve ecclesiastical benefices, of which seven were in France; by his
accession to the Holy See his ambition was satisfied; and as legate in
France in 1290 he had made the acquaintance there of the young king,
Philip the Handsome, and had conceived a liking for him. King Philip
must have considered that he had ground for seeing in him a faithful and
useful ally.

Neither of the two sovereigns took into account the changes that had
come, during two centuries past, over the character of their power, and
of the influence which these changes must exercise upon their posture and
their relations one towards the other. Louis the Fat in the first
instance, and then in a special manner Philip Augustus and St. Louis,
each with very different sentiments and by very different processes, had
disentangled the kingship in France from the feudal system, and had
acquired for it a sovereignty of its own, beyond and above the rights of
the suzerain over his vassals. The popes, for their part, Gregory VII.
and Innocent III. amongst others, had raised the papacy to a region of
intellectual and moral supremacy whence it looked down upon all the
terrestrial powers. Gregory VII., the most disinterested of all
ambitious men in high places, had dedicated his stormy life to
establishing the dominion of the Church over the world, kings as well as
people, and also to reforming internally the Church herself, her morals
and her discipline. "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; and that
is why I am dying in exile," he had said on his death-bed: but his works
survived him, and a hundred years after him, in spite of the troubles
which had disturbed the Church under eighteen mediocre and transitory
popes, Innocent III., whilst maintaining, only with more moderation and
prudence, the same principles as Gregory VII. had maintained, exercised
peacefully, for a space of eighteen years, the powers of the right
divine, whilst Philip Augustus was extending and confirming the kingly
power in France. This parallel progress of the kingship and the papacy
had its critics and its supporters. Learned lawyers, on the authority of
the maxims and precedents of the Roman empire, proclaimed the king's
sovereignty in the State; and profound theologians, on the authority of
the divine origin of Christianity, laid down as a principle the right
divine of the papacy in the Church and in the dealings of the Church with
the State.

Thus, at the end of the thirteenth century, there were found face to face
two systems, one laic and the other ecclesiastical, of absolute power.
But the teachers of the doctrine of the right divine do not expunge from
human affairs the passions, errors, and vices of the individuals who put
their systems in practice; and absolute power, which is the greatest of
all demoralizers, entails before long upon communities, whether civil or
religious, the disorders, abuses, faults, and evils which it is the
special province of governments to prevent or keep under. The French
kingship and the papacy, the representatives of which had but lately been
great and glorious princes, such as Philip Augustus and St. Louis,
Gregory VII. and Innocent III., were, at the end of the thirteenth
century, vested in the persons of men of far less moral worth and less
political wisdom, Philip the Handsome and Boniface VIII. We have already
had glimpses of Philip the Handsome's greedy, ruggedly obstinate, haughty
and tyrannical character; and Boniface VIII. had the same defects, with
more hastiness and less ability. The two great poets of Italy in that
century, Dante and Petrarch, who were both very much opposed to Philip
the Handsome, paint Boniface VIII. in similar colors. "He was," says
Petrarch (_Epistoloe Ramiliares,_ bk. ii. letter 3), "an inexorable
sovereign, whom it was very hard to break by force, and impossible to
bend by humility and caresses; "and Dante (_Inferno,_ canto xix.
v. 45 57) makes Pope Nicholas III. say, "Already art thou here and
proudly upstanding, O Boniface? Hast thou so soon been sated with that
wealth for which thou didst not fear to deceive that fair dame (the
Church) whom afterwards thou didst so disastrously govern? "Two men so
deeply imbued with evil and selfish passions could not possibly meet
without clashing; and it was not long before facts combined to produce
between them an outburst of hatred and strife which revealed the latent
vices and fatal results of the two systems of absolute power of which
they were the representatives.

Philip the Handsome had been nine years king when Boniface VIII. became
pope. On his accession to the throne he had testified an intention of
curtailing the privileges and power of the Church. He had removed the
clergy from judicial functions, in the domains of the lords as well as in
the domain of the king, and he had everywhere been putting into the hands
of laymen the administration of civil justice. He had considerably
increased the percentage to be paid on real property acquired by the
Church (called possessions in mortmain), by way of compensation for the
mutation-dues which their fixity caused the State to lose. At the time
of the crusades the property of the clergy had been subjected to a
special tax of a tenth of the revenues, and this tax had been several
times renewed for reasons other than the crusades. The Church recognized
her duty of contributing towards the defence of the kingdom, and the
chapter-general of the order of Citeaux wrote to Philip the Handsome
himself, "On all grounds of natural equity and rules of law we ought to
bear our share of such a burden out of the goods which God hath given
us." In every instance, the question had been as to the necessity for
and the quota of the ecclesiastical contribution, which was at one time
granted by the bishops and local clergy, at another expressly authorized
by the papacy. There is nothing to show that Boniface VIII., at the time
of his elevation to the Holy See, was opposed to these augmentations and
demands on the part of the French crown; he was at that time too much
occupied by his struggle against his own enemies at Rome, the family of
the Colonnas, and he felt the necessity of remaining on good terms with
France; but in 1296, Philip the Handsome, at war with the King of England
and the Flemings, imposed upon the clergy two fresh tenths. The bishops
alone were called upon to vote them; and the order of Citeaux refused to
pay them, and addressed to the pope a protest, with a comparison between
Philip and Pharaoh. Boniface not only entertained the protest, but
addressed to the king a bull (called _Clericis laicos,_ from its first
two words), in which, led on by his zeal to set forth the generality and
absoluteness of his power, he laid down as a principle that churches and
ecclesiastics could not be taxed save with the permission of the
sovereign pontiff, and that "all emperors, kings, dukes, counts, barons,
or governors whatsoever, who should violate this principle, and all
prelates or other ecclesiastics who should through weakness lend
themselves to such violation, would by this mere fact incur
excommunication, and would be incapable of release therefrom, save in
_articulo mortis,_ unless by a special decision of the Holy See." This
was going far beyond the traditions of the French Church, and, in the
very act of protecting it, to strike a blow at its independence in its
dealings with the French State. Philip was mighty wroth, but he did not
burst out; he confined himself to letting the pope perceive his
displeasure by means of divers administrative measures, amongst others by
forbidding the exportation from the kingdom of gold, silver, and valuable
articles, which found their way chiefly to Rome. Boniface, on his side,
was not slow to perceive that he had gone too far, and that his own
interests did not permit him to give so much offence to the King of
France. A year after the bull _Clericis laicos,_ he modified it by a new
bull, which not only authorized the collection of the two tenths voted by
the French bishops, but recognized the right of the King of France to tax
the French clergy with their consent and without authorization from the
Holy See, whenever there was a pressing necessity for it. Philip, on his
side, testified to the pope his satisfaction at this concession by
himself making one at the expense of the religious liberty of his
subjects. In 1292 he had ordered the seneschal of Carcassonne to place
limits to the power of the inquisitors in Languedoc by taking from them
the right of having their sentences against heretics executed without
appeal; and in 1298 he issued an ordinance to the effect that "to further
the proceedings of the Inquisition against heretics, for the glory of God
and for the augmentation of the faith, he laid his injunctions upon all
dukes, counts, barons, seneschals, bailiffs, and provosts of his kingdom,
to obey the diocesan bishops and the inquisitors deputed by the Holy See
in handing over to them, whenever they should be requested, all heretics
and their creed-fellows, favorers, and harborers, and to see to the
immediate execution of sentences passed by the judges of the Church,
notwithstanding any appeal and any complaint on the part of heretics and
their favorers."

Thus the two absolute sovereigns changed their policy and made temporary
sacrifice of their mutual pretensions, according as it suited them to
fight or to agree. But there arose a question in respect of which this
continual alternation of pretensions and compromises, of quarrels and
accommodations, was no longer possible; in order to keep up their
position in the eyes of one another, they were obliged to come to a
deadly clash; and in this struggle, perilous for both, Boniface VIII.
was the aggressor, and with Philip the Handsome remained the victory.

On the 2d of February, 1300, Boniface VIII., who had much at heart the
lustre and popularity of the Holy See, published a bull which granted
indulgences to the pilgrims who should that year, and every centenary to
come, visit the church of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome.
At this first celebration of the centenarian Christian jubilee the
concourse was immense; the most moderate historians say that there were
never fewer than a hundred thousand pilgrims at Rome; others put the
numbers as high as two hundred thousand, and contemporary poetry as well
as history has celebrated this pious assemblage of Christians of every
nation, language, and age around the tomb of their fathers in the faith.
"The old man with white hair goeth far away," says Petrarch (Sonnet
xiv.), "from the sweet haunts where his life hath been passed, and from
his little family astonished to find their dear father missing. As for
him, in the last days of his age, broken down by weight of years and
a-weary of the road, he draggeth along as best he may by force of willing
spirit his old and tottering limbs, and cometh to Rome to fulfil his
desire of seeing the image of Him whom he hopeth to see ere long up
yonder in the heavens." The success of the measure and the solemn homage
of Christendom filled with joy and proud confidence the heart of the
septuagenarian pontiff. He had three years before decreed to Louis IX.,
the most Christian of the Kings of France, the honors of canonization and
the title of Saint. Being chosen as mediator, in 1298, by the Kings of
France and England in a war which pressed heavily on both, the decree of
arbitration which he pronounced, favorable rather to Philip than to
Edward I., had been accepted by both of them; and the pope, on laying his
injunctions upon them with some severity of language, had exhibited
authority in a manner salutary for both kingdoms. Everything seemed at
that time to smile on Boniface, and to invite him to believe himself the
real sovereign of Christendom.

An opportunity for a splendid confirmation of his universal supremacy in
the Christian world came to tempt him. A quarrel had arisen between
Philip and the Archbishop of Narbonne on the subject of certain dues
claimed by both in that great diocese. Boniface was loud in his advocacy
of the archbishop against the officers of the king: "If, my son, thou
tolerate such enterprises against the Churches of thy kingdom," he wrote
to Philip (on the 18th of July, 1300), "thou mayest thereafter have
reasonable fear lest God, the author of judgments and the King of kings,
exact vengeance for it; and assuredly His vicar will not, in the long
run, keep silence. Though he wait a while patiently, in order not to
close the door to compassion, there will be full need at last that he
rouse himself for the punishment of the wicked and the glory of the
good." Nor did Boniface content himself with writing: he sent to Paris,
to support his words, Bernard de Saisset, whom he, on his own authority,
had just appointed Bishop of Pamiers. The choice of bishops was not yet,
at that time, subject to any fixed and generally recognized rule: most
often it was the chapter of the diocese that elected its bishop, with a
subsequent application for the approbation of the king and the pope;
sometimes the king and also the pope made such appointments directly and
independently. Boniface VIII. had quite recently created a new bishopric
at Pamiers in order to immediately appoint to it Bernard de Saisset,
hitherto simple Abbot of St. Antonine in that city. Bernard, who was
devoted to his patron, was, further, a passionate Languedocian and a foe
to the dominion of the French kings of the North over Southern France;
and he gave himself out as a personal descendant of the last Counts of
Toulouse. On arriving in Paris as the pope's legate, he made use there
of violent and inconsiderate language; he even affirmed, it was said,
that St. Louis had predicted the disappearance of his line in the third
generation, and that King Philip was only an illegitimate descendant of
Charlemagne. He was accused of having incessantly labored to excite
revolts against the king in the south, at one time for the advantage of
the local lords, at another in favor of foreign enemies of the kingdom.
Being summoned before the king and his council at Senlis (October 14,
1301), he denied, but with an air of arrogance and aggression, the
accusations against him. Philip had, at that time, as his chief
councillors, lay-lawyers, servants passionately attached to the kingship.
They were Peter Flotte his chancellor, William of Nogaret, judge-major at
Beaucaire, and William of Plasian, Lord of Vezenobre, the two latter
belonging, as Bernard de Saisset belonged, to Southern France, and
determined to withstand, in the south as well as the north, the
domination of ecclesiastics. They, in their turn, rose up against the
doctrine and language of the Bishop of Pamiers. He was arrested and
committed to the keeping of the Archbishop of Narbonne; and Philip sent
to Rome his chancellor Peter Flotte himself and William of Nogaret, with
orders to demand of the pope "that he should avenge the wrongs of God,
the king, and the whole kingdom, by depriving of his orders and every
clerical privilege that man whose longer life would taint the places he
inhabited; and this in order that the king might make of him a sacrifice
to God in the way of justice, for there could be no hope of his amendment
if he were suffered to live, seeing that, from his youth up, he had
always lived ill, and that baseness and abandonment only became more and
more confirmed in him by inveterate habit."

To this violent and threatening language Boniface replied by changing the
venue to his own personal tribunal in the case of the Bishop of Pamiers.
"We do bid thy majesty," he wrote to the king, "to give this bishop free
leave to depart and come to us, for we do desire his presence. We do
warn thee to have all his goods restored to him, not to stretch out for
the future thy rapacious hands towards the like things, and not to offend
the Divine Majesty or the dignity of the Apostolic See, lest we be forced
to employ some other remedy; for thou must know that, unless thou canst
allege some excuse founded on reason and truth, we do not see how thou
shouldest escape the sentence of the holy canons for having laid rash
hands on this bishop."

"My power,--the spiritual power,"--said the pope to the Chancellor of
France, "embraces the temporal, and includes it." "Be it so," answered
Peter Flotte; "but your power is nominal, the king's real."

Here was a coarse challenge hurled by the crown at the tiara: and
Boniface VIII. unhesitatingly accepted it. But, instead of keeping the
advantage of a defensive position by claiming, in the name of lawful
right, the liberties and immunities of the Church, he assumed the
offensive against the kingship by proclaiming the supremacy of the Holy
See in things temporal as well as spiritual, and by calling upon Philip
the Handsome to acknowledge it. On the 5th of December, 1301, he
addressed to the king, commencing with the words, "Hearken, most dear
son" (_Ausculta, carissime fili_), a long bull, in which, with
circumlocutions and expositions full of obscurity and subtlety, he laid
down and affirmed, at bottom, the principle of the final sovereignty of
the spiritual power, being of divine origin, over every temporal power,
being of human creation. "In spite of the insufficiency of our deserts,"
said he, "God hath established us above kings and kingdoms by imposing
upon us, in virtue of the Apostolic office, the duty of plucking away,
destroying, dispersing, dissipating, building up and planting in His name
and according to His doctrine; to the end that, in tending the flock of
the Lord, we may strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken
limbs, raise the fallen, and pour wine and oil into all wounds. Let
none, then, most dear son, persuade thee that thou hast no superior, and
that thou art not subject to the sovereign head of the ecclesiastical
hierarchy; for he who so thinketh is beside himself; and if he
obstinately affirm any such thing, he is an infidel, and hath no place
any longer in the fold of the good Shepherd." At the same time Boniface
summoned the bishops of France to a council at Rome, "in order to labor
for the preservation of the liberties of the Catholic Church, the
reformation of the kingdom, the amendment of the king, and the good
government of France."

Philip the Handsome and his councillors did not misconceive the tendency
of such language, however involved and full of specious reservations it
might be. The final supremacy of the pope in the body politic, and over
all sovereigns, meant the absorption of the laic community in the
religious, and the abolition of the State's independence, not in favor of
the national Church, but to the advantage of the foreign head of the
universal Church. The defenders of the French kingship formed a better
estimate than was formed at Rome of the effect which would be produced by
such doctrine on France, in the existing condition of the French mind;
they entered upon no theological and abstract polemics; they confined
themselves entirely to setting in a vivid light the pope's pretensions
and their consequences, feeling sure that, by confining themselves to
this question, they would enlist in their opposition not only all laymen,
nobles, and commoners, but the greater part of the French ecclesiastics
themselves, who were no strangers to the feeling of national patriotism,
and to whom the pope's absolute power in the body politic was scarcely
more agreeable than the king's. In order to make a strong impression
upon the public mind, there was published at Paris, as the actual text of
the pope's bull, a very short summary of his long bull, "Hearken, most
dear Son," in the following terms: "Boniface, bishop, servant of the
servants of God, to Philip, King of the French. Fear thou God, and keep
His commandments. We would have thee to know that thou art subject unto
us in things spiritual and temporal. The presentation to benefices and
prebends appertaineth to thee in no wise. If thou have the keeping of
certain vacancies, thou art bound to reserve the revenues of them for the
successors to them. If thou have made any presentations, we declare them
void, and revoke them. We consider as heretics all those who believe
otherwise." Together with this document there was put in circulation the
king's answer to the pope, in the following terms: "Philip, by the grace
of God, King of the French, to Boniface, who giveth himself out for
sovereign pontiff, little or no greeting. Let thy Extreme Fatuity know
that we be subject to none in things temporal, that the presentation to
churches and prebends that be vacant belongeth to us of kingly right,
that the revenues therefrom be ours, that presentations already made or
to be made be valid both now and hereafter, that we will firmly support
the possessors of them to thy face and in thy teeth, and that we do hold
as senseless and insolent those who think otherwise." The pope
disavowed, as a falsification, the summary of his long bull; and there is
nothing to prove that the unseemly and insulting letter of Philip the
Handsome was sent to Rome. But, at bottom, the situation of affairs
remained the same; indeed, it did not stop where it was. On the 11th of
February, 1302, the bull, Hearken, most dear Son, was solemnly burned at
Paris in presence of the king and a numerous multitude. Philip convoked,
for the 8th of April following, an assembly of the barons, bishops, and
chief ecclesiastics, and of deputies from the communes to the number of
two or three for each city, all being summoned "to deliberate on certain
affairs which in the highest degree concern the king, the kingdom, the
churches, and all and sundry." This assembly, which really met on the
10th of April, at Paris, in the church of Notre-Dame, is reckoned in
French history as the first "states-general." The three estates wrote
separately to Rome; the clergy to the pope himself, the nobility and the
deputies of the communes to the cardinals, all, however, protesting
against the pope's pretensions in matters temporal, the two laic orders
writing in a rough and threatening tone, the clergy making an appeal "to
the wisdom and paternal clemency of the Holy Father, with tearful
accents, and sobs mingled with their tears." The king evidently had on
his side the general feeling of the nation: and the news from Rome was
not of a kind to pacify him. In spite of the king's formal prohibition,
forty-five French bishops had repaired to the council summoned by the
pope for All Saints' day, 1302, and, after this meeting, a papal decree
of November 18 had declared, "There be two swords, the temporal and the
spiritual; both are in the power of the Church, but one is held by the
Church herself, the other by kings only with the assent and by sufferance
of the sovereign pontiff. Every human being is subject to the Roman
pontiff; and to believe this is necessary to salvation." Philip made a
seizure of the temporalities of such bishops as had been present at that
council, and renewed his prohibition forbidding them to leave the
kingdom. Boniface ordered those who had not been to Rome to attend there
within three months; and the cardinal of St. Marcellinus, legate of the
Holy See, called a fresh council in France itself, without the king's
knowledge. On both sides, there were at one time words of conciliation
and attempts to keep up appearances of respect, at another new explosions
of complaints and threats; but, amidst all these changes of language, the
struggle was day by day becoming more violent, and preparations were
being made by both parties for something other than threats.

On the 12th of March and the 13th of June, 1303, at two assemblies of
barons, prelates, and legists held at the Louvre, in presence of the
king, which several historians have considered to have been states-
general, one of the crown's most intimate advisers, William of Plasian,
proposed, against Boniface, a form of accusation which imputed to him,
beyond his ambition and his claims to absolutism, crimes as improbable as
they were hateful. It was demanded that the Church should be governed by
a lawful pope, and the king, as defender of the faith, was pressed to
appeal to the convocation of a general council. On the 24th of June, in
the palace-garden, a great crowd of people assembled; and, after a sermon
preached in French, the form of accusation against Boniface, and the
appeal to the future council, were solemnly made public. The pope
meanwhile did not remain idle; he protested against the imputations of
which he was the subject. "Forty years ago," he said, "we were admitted
a doctor of laws, and learned that both powers, the temporal and the
spiritual, be ordained of God. Who can believe that such fatuity can
have entered into our mind? But who can also deny that the king is
subject unto us on the score of sin? . . . We be disposed to grant
unto him every grace. . . . So long as I was cardinal, I was French
in heart; since then, we have testified how we do love the king. . . .
Without us, he would not have even one foot on the throne. We do know
all the secrets of the kingdom. We do know how the Germans, the
Burgundians, and the folks who speak the Oc tongue do love the king. If
he mend not, we shall know how to chastise him, and treat him as a little
boy (_sicut unum garcionem_), though greatly against our will." On the
13th of April, Boniface declared Philip excommunicate if he persisted in
preventing the prelates from attending at Rome. Philip, being warned,
effected the arrest at Troyes of the priest who was bringing the pope's
letter to his legate in France. The legate took to flight. Boniface,
on his side, being warned that the king was appealing against him to an
approaching council, declared by a bull, on the 15th of August, that it
appertained to him alone to summon a council. After this bull, there was
full expectation that another would be launched, which would pronounce
the deposition of the king. And a new bull was actually prepared at Rome
on the 5th of September, and was to be published on the 8th. It did not
expressly depose the king; it merely announced that measures would be
taken more serious even than excommunication. Philip had taken his
precautions. He had demanded and obtained from the great towns,
churches, and universities more than seven hundred declarations of
support in his appeal to the future council, and an engagement to take no
notice of the decree which might be issued by the pope to release the
king's subjects from their oath of allegiance. Only a few, and amongst
them the Abbot of Citeaux, gave him a refusal. The order of the Templars
gave only a qualified support. At the approaching advent of the new bull
which was being anticipated, the king resolved to act still more roughly
and speedily. Notification must be sent to the pope of the king's appeal
to the future council. Philip could no longer confide this awkward
business to his chancellor, Peter Flotte; for he had fallen at Courtrai,
in the battle against the Flemings. William of Nogaret undertook it, at
the same time obtaining from the king a sort of blank commission
authorizing and ratifying in advance all that, under the circumstances,
he might consider it advisable to do. Notification of the appeal had to
be made to the pope at Anagni, his native town, whither he had gone for
refuge, and the people of which, being zealous in his favor, had already
dragged in the mud the lilies and the banner of France. Nogaret was
bold, ruffianly, and clever. He repaired in haste to Florence, to the
king's banker, got a plentiful supply of money, established
communications in Anagni, and secured, above all, the co-operation of
Sciarra Colonna, who was passionately hostile to the pope, had been
formerly proscribed by him, and, having fallen into the hands of
corsairs, had worked at the oar for them during many a year rather than
reveal his name and be sold to Boniface Gaetani. On the 7th of
September, 1303, Colonna and his associates introduced Nogaret and his
following into Anagni, with shouts of "Death to Pope Boniface! Long live
the King of France!" The populace, dumbfounded, remained motionless.
The pope, deserted by all, even by his own nephew, tried to touch the
heart of Colonna himself, whose only answer was a summons to abdicate,
and to surrender at discretion. "Those be hard words," said Boniface,
and burst into tears. But this old man, seventy-five years of age, had a
proud spirit, and a dignity worthy of his rank. "Betrayed, like Jesus,"
said he, "shall I die; but I will die pope." He donned the cloak of St.
Peter, put the crown of Constantine upon his head, took in his hands the
keys and the cross, and, as his enemies drew nigh, he said to them, "Here
is my neck, and here is my head." There is a tradition, of considerable
trustworthiness, that Sciarra Colonna would have killed him, and did with
his mailed hand strike him in the face. Nogaret, however, prevented the
murder, and confined himself to saying, "Thou caitiff pope, confess, and
behold the goodness of my lord, the King of France, who, though so far
away from thee in his own kingdom, both watcheth over and defendeth thee
by my hand." "Thou art of heretic family," answered the pope: "at thy
hands I look for martyrdom."

[Illustration: Colonna striking the Pope----185]

The captivity of Boniface VIII., however, lasted only three days; for the
people of Anagni, having recovered themselves, and seeing the scanty
numbers of the foreigners, rose and delivered the pope. The old man was
conducted to the public square, crying like a child. "Good folks," said
he to the crowd around him, "ye have seen that mine enemies have robbed
me of all my goods and those of the Church. Behold me here as poor as
Job. Nought have I either to eat or drink. If there be any good woman
who would give me an alms of wine and bread, I would bestow upon her
God's blessing and mine." All the people began to shout, "Long live the
Holy Father!" He was reconducted into his palace: "and women thronged
together thither, bringing him bread, wine, and water. Finding no proper
vessels, they poured them into a chest. . . . Any one who liked went
in, and talked with the pope, as with any other beggar." So soon as the
agitation was somewhat abated, Boniface set out for Rome, with a great
crowd following him; but he was broken down in spirit and body. Scarcely
had he arrived when he fell into a burning fever, which traditions,
probably invented and spread by his enemies, have represented as a fit of
mad rage. He died on the 11th of October, 1303, without having recovered
his reason. It is reported that his predecessor, Celestine V., had said
of him, "Thou risest like a fox; thou wilt rule like a lion, and die like
a dog." The last expression was unjustified. Boniface VIII. was a
fanatic, ambitious, proud, violent, and crafty, but with sincerity at the
bottom of his prejudiced ideas, and stubborn and blind in his fits of
temper: his death was that of an old lion at bay.

We were bound to get a good idea and understanding of this violent
struggle between the two sovereigns of France and Rome, not only because
of its dramatic interest, but because it marks an important period in the
history of the papacy and its relations with foreign governments. From
the tenth century and the accession of the Capetians the policy of the
Holy See had been enterprising, bold, full of initiative, often even
aggressive, and more often than not successful in the prosecution of its
designs. Under Innocent III. it had attained the apogee of its strength
and fortune. At that point its motion forward and upward came to a stop.
Boniface had not the wit to recognize the changes which had taken place
in European communities, and the decided progress which had been made by
laic influences and civil powers. He was a stubborn preacher of maxims
he could no longer practise. He was beaten in his enterprise; and the
papacy, even on recovering from his defeat, found itself no longer what
it had been before him. Starting from the fourteenth century we find no
second Gregory VII., or Innocent III. Without expressly abandoning their
principles, the policy of the Holy See became essentially defensive and
conservative, more occupied in the maintenance than the aggrandizement of
itself, and sometimes even more stationary and stagnant than was required
by necessity or recommended by foresight. The posture assumed and the
conduct adopted by the earliest successors of Boniface VIII. showed how
far the situation of the papacy was altered, and how deep had been the
penetration of the stab which, in this conflict between the two aspirants
to absolute power, Philip the Handsome had inflicted on his rival.

On the 22d of October, 1303, eleven days after the death of Boniface
VIII., Benedict XI., son of a simple shepherd, was elected at Rome to
succeed him. Philip the Handsome at once sent his congratulations, but
by William of Plasian, who had lately been the accuser of Boniface, and
who was charged to hand to the new pope, on the king's behalf, a very
bitter memorandum touching his predecessor. Philip at the same time
caused an address to be presented to himself in his own kingdom and in
the vulgar tongue, called a supplication from the people of France to the
King against Boniface. Benedict XI. exerted himself to give satisfaction
to the conqueror; he declared the Colonnas absolved; he released the
barons and prelates of France from the excommunications pronounced
against them; and he himself wrote to the king to say that he would
behave towards him as the good shepherd in the parable, who leaves ninety
and nine sheep to go after one that is lost. Nogaret and the direct
authors of the assault at Anagni were alone excepted from this amnesty.
The pope reserved for a future occasion the announcement of their
absolution, when he should consider it expedient. But on the 7th of
June, 1304, instead of absolving them, he launched a fresh bull of
excommunication against "certain wicked men who had dared to commit a
hateful crime against a person of good memory, Pope Boniface." A month
after this bull Benedict XI. was dead. It is related that a young woman
had put before him at table a basket of fresh figs, of which he had eaten
and which had poisoned him. The chroniclers of the time impute this
crime to William of Nogaret, to the Colonnas, and to their associates at
Anagni; a single one names King Philip. Popular credulity is great in
matters of poisoning; but one thing is certain, namely, that no
prosecution was ordered. There is no proof of Philip's complicity; but,
full as he was of hatred and dissimulation, he was of those who do their
best to profit by crimes which they have not ordered. It is clear that
such a pope as Benedict XI. would not do either for his passions or his

He found one, however, from whom he flattered himself, not without
reason, that he would get more complete and efficient co-operation. The
cardinals, after being assembled in conclave for six months at Perouse,
were unable to arrive at an agreement about a choice of pope. As a way
out of their embarrassment, they entered into a secret convention to the
effect that one of them, a confidant of Philip the Handsome, should make
known to him that the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Goth, was the
candidate in respect of whom they could agree. He was a subject of the
King of England and a late favorite of Boniface VIII., who had raised him
from the bishopric of Comminges to the archbishopric of Bordeaux. He was
regarded as an enemy of France; but Philip knew what may be done with an
ambitious man, whose fortune is only half made, by offering to advance
him to his highest point. He, therefore, appointed a meeting with the
archbishop. "Hearken," said he: "I have in my grasp wherewithal to make
thee pope if I please; and provided that thou promise me to do six things
I demand of thee, I will confer upon thee that honor; and to prove to
thee that I have the power, here be letters and advices I have received
from Rome." After having heard and read, "the Gascon, overcome with
joy," says the contemporary historian Villani, "threw himself at the
king's feet, saying, 'My lord, now know I that thou art my best friend,
and that thou wouldest render me good for evil. It is for thee to
command and for me to obey: such will ever be my disposition.'" Philip
then set before him his six demands, amongst which there were only two
which could have caused the archbishop any uneasiness. The fourth
purported that he should condemn the memory of Pope Boniface. "The
sixth, which is important and secret, I keep to myself," said Philip, "to
make known to thee in due time and place." The archbishop bound himself
by oath taken on the sacred host to accomplish the wishes of the king, to
whom, furthermore, he gave as hostages his brother and his two nephews.
Six weeks after this interview, on the 5th of June, 1305, Bertrand de
Goth was elected pope, under the name of Clement V.

It was not long before he gave the king the most certain pledge of his
docility. After having held his pontifical court at Bordeaux and
Poitiers he declared that he would fix his residence in France, in the
county of Venaissin, at Avignon, a territory which Philip the Bold had
remitted to Pope Gregory X. in execution of a deed of gift from Raymond
VII., Count of Toulouse. It was renouncing, in fact, if not in law, the
practical independence of the papacy to thus place it in the midst of the
dominions and under the very thumb of the King of France. "I know the
Gaseous," said the old Italian Cardinal Matthew Rosso, dean of the Sacred
College, when he heard of this resolution; "it will be long ere the
Church comes back to Italy." And, indeed, it was not until sixty years
afterwards, under Pope Gregory XI., that Italy regained possession of the
Holy See; and historians called this long absence the Babylonish
captivity. Philip lost no time in profiting by his propinquity to make
the full weight of his power felt by Clement V. He claimed from him the
fulfilment of the fourth promise Bertrand de Goth had made in order to
become pope, which was the condemnation of Boniface VIII.; and he
revealed to him the sixth, that "important and secret one which he kept
to himself to make known to him in clue time and place;" and it was the
persecution and abolition of the order of the Templars. The pontificate
of Clement V. at Avignon was, for him, a nine years' painful effort, at
one time to elude and at another to accomplish, against the grain, the
heavy engagements he had incurred towards the king.

He found the condemnation of Boniface VIII. rather an embarrassment than
a danger. He shrank, on becoming pope, from condemning the pope his
predecessor, who had appointed him archbishop and cardinal. Instead of
an official condemnation, he offered the king satisfaction in various
ways. It was only from headstrong pride and to cloak himself in the eyes
of his subjects that Philip clung to the condemnation of the memory of
Boniface; and, after a long period of mutual tergiversation, it was
agreed in the end to let bygones be bygones. The principal promoter of
the assault at Anagni, William of Nogaret, was the sole exception to the
amnesty; and the pope imposed upon him, by way of penance, merely the
obligation of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which he never
fulfilled. On the contrary he remained, in great favor, about the person
of King Philip, who made him his chancellor, and gave him, in Languedoc,
some rich lands, amongst others those of Calvisson, Massillargues, and
Manduel. For Philip knew how to liberally reward and faithfully support
his servants.

And he knew still better how to persecute and ruin his foes. He had no
reason, of a public kind, to consider the Templars his enemies. It is
true that they had given him a merely qualified support on his appeal to
the council against Boniface VIII.; but, both before and after that
occurrence, Philip had shown them marks of the most friendly regard. He
had asked to be affiliated to their order; and he had borrowed their
money. During a violent outbreak of the populace at Paris, in 1306, on
the occasion of a fresh tax, he had sought and found a refuge in the very
palace of the Temple, where the chapters-general were held and where its
treasures were kept. It is said that the sight of these treasures
kindled the longings of Philip, and his ardent desire to get hold of
them. At the time of the formation of the order, in 1119, after the
first crusade, the Templars were far from being rich. Nine knights had
joined together to protect the arrival and sojourning of pilgrims in
Palestine; and Baldwin II., the third Christian King of Jerusalem, had
given them a lodging in his own palace, to the east of Solomon's temple,
whence they had assumed the name of "Poor United Champions of Christ and
the Temple." Their valor and pious devotion had soon rendered them
famous in the West as well as the East; and St. Bernard had commended
them to the Christian world. At the council of Troyes, in 1123, Pope
Honorius II. had recognized their order, and regulated their dress, a
white mantle, on which Pope Eugenius III. placed a red cross. In 1172
the rules of the order were drawn up in seventy-two articles, and the
Templars began to exempt themselves from the jurisdiction of the
patriarch of Jerusalem, recognizing that of the pope only. Their number
and their importance rapidly increased. In 1130 the Emperor Lothaire II.
gave them lands in the Duchy of Brunswick. They received other gifts in
the Low Countries, in Spain, and in Portugal. After a voyage to the
West, Hugh des Payens, the chief of the nine Templars, returned to the
East with three hundred knights enlisted in his order; and a hundred and
fifty years after its foundation the order of the Temple, divided into
fourteen or fifteen provinces,--four in the East and ten or eleven in the
West,--numbered, it is said, eighteen or twenty thousand knights, mostly
French, and nine thousand commanderies or territorial benefices, the
revenue of which is calculated at fifty-four millions of francs (about
ten and a half million dollars). It was an army of monks, once poor men
and hard-working soldiers, but now rich and idle, and abandoned to all
the temptations of riches and idleness. There was still some fine talk
about Jerusalem, pilgrims, and crusades. The popes still kept these
words prominent, either to distract the Western Christians from intestine
quarrels, or to really promote some new Christian effort in the East.
The Isle of Cyprus was still a small Christian kingdom, and the warrior-
monks, who were vowed to the defence of Christendom in the East, the
Templars and the Hospitallers, had still in Palestine, Syria, Armenia,
and the adjacent lands, certain battles to fight and certain services to
render to the Christian cause. But these were events too petty and too
transitory to give serious employment to the two great religious and
military orders, whose riches and fame were far beyond the proportions of
their public usefulness and their real strength; a position fraught with
perils for them, for it inspired the sovereign powers of the state with
the spirit rather of jealousy than fear of them.

In 1303 the king and the pope simultaneously summoned from Cyprus to
France the Grand Master of the Templars, James do Molay, a Burgundian
nobleman, who had entered the order when he was almost a child, had
valiantly fought the infidels in the East, and fourteen years ago had
been unanimously elected Grand Master. For several months he was well
treated, to all appearance, by the two monarchs. Philip said he wished
to discuss with him a new plan of crusade, and asked him to stand
godfather to one of his children; and Molay was pall-bearer at the burial
of the king's sister-in-law. Meanwhile the most sinister reports, the
gravest imputations, were bruited abroad against the Templars; they were
accused "of things distasteful, deplorable, horrible to think on,
horrible to hear, of betraying Christendom for the profit of the
infidels, of secretly denying the faith, of spitting upon the cross, of
abandoning themselves to idolatrous practices and the most licentious
lives." In 1307, in the month of October, Philip the Handsome and
Clement V. had met at Poitiers; and the king asked the pope to authorize
an inquiry touching the Templars and the accusations made against them.
James de Molay was forthwith arrested at Paris with a hundred and forty
of his knights; sixty met the same fate at Beaucaire; many others all
over France; and their property was put in the king's keeping for the
service of the Holy Land. On the 12th of August, 1308, a papal bull
appointed a grand commission of inquiry charged to conduct, at Paris, an
examination of the matter "according as the law requires." The
Archbishops of Canterbury in England and of Mayence, Cologne, and Troves
in Germany, were also named commissioners, and the pope announced that he
would deliver his judgment within two years, at a general council held at
Vienne, in Dauphiny, territory of the Empire. Twenty-six princes and
laic lords, the Dukes of Burgundy and Brittany, the Counts of Flanders,
Nevers, and Auxerre, and the Count of Talleyrand de Perigord, offered
themselves as the Templars' accusers, and gave powers of attorney to act
in their names. On the 22d of November, 1309, the Grand Master, Molay,
was, called before the commission. At first he firmly denied all that
his order had been accused of; afterwards he became confused and
embarrassed, said that he had not the ability to undertake the defence of
his order, that he was but a poor, unlettered knight, that the pope had
reserved to himself the decision in the case, and that, for his part,
he only wished the pope would summon him as soon as possible before him.
On the 28th of March, 1310, five hundred and forty-six knights, who had
declared their readiness to defend their order, appeared before the
commission; and they were called upon to choose proctors to speak in
their name. We ought also, then," said they, "to have been tortured by
proxy only." The prisoners were treated with the uttermost rigor and
reduced to the most wretched plight: "out of their poor pay of twelve
deniers per diem they were obliged to pay for their passage by water to
go and submit to their examination in the city, and to give money besides
to the man who undid and riveted their fetters." In October, 1310, at a
council held at Paris, a large number of Templars were examined, several
acquitted, some subjected to special penances, and fifty-four condemned
as heretics to the stake, and burned the same day in a field close to the
abbey of St. Anthony; and nine others met the same fate at the hands of a
council held at Senlis the same year: "They confessed under their
tortures," says Bossuet, "but they denied at their execution." The
business dragged slowly on; different decisions were pronounced,
according to the place of decision; the Templars were pronounced
innocent, on the 17th of June, 1310, at Ravenna, on the 1st of July at
Mayence, and on the 21st of October at Salamanca; and in Aragon they made
a successful resistance. Europe began to be wearied at the uncertainty
of such judgments and at the sight of such horrible spectacles; and
Clement V. felt some shame at thus persecuting monks who, on more than
one occasion, had shown devotion to the Holy See.

But Philip the Handsome had attained his end: he was in possession of the
Templars' riches. On the 11th of June, 1311, the commission of inquiry
terminated its sittings, and the report of its labors concluded as
follows: "For further precaution, we have deposited the said procedure,
drawn up by notaries in authentic form, in the treasury of Notre-Dame, at
Paris, to be shown to none without special letters from Your Holiness."
The council-general, announced in 1308 by the pope, to decide
definitively upon this great case, was actually opened at Vienne, in
October, 1311; more than three hundred bishops assembled; and nine
Templars presented themselves for the defence of their order, saying that
there were at Lyons, or in the neighborhood, fifteen hundred or two
thousand of their brethren, ready to support them. The pope had the nine
defenders arrested, adjourned the decision once more, and, on the 22d of
March in the following year, at a mere secret consistory, made up of the
most docile bishops and a few cardinals, pronounced, solely on his
pontifical authority, the abolition of the order of the Temple: and it
was subsequently proclaimed officially, on the 3d of April, 1312, in
presence of the king and the council. And not a soul protested.

The Grand Master, James de Molay, in confinement at Gisors, survived his
order. The pope had reserved to himself the task of trying him; but,
disgusted with the work, he committed the trial to ecclesiastical
commissioners assembled at Paris, before whom Molay was brought, together
with three of the principal leaders of the Temple, survivors like
himself. They had read over to them, from a scaffold erected in the
forecourt of Notre-Dame, the confessions they had made, but lately, under
torture, and it was announced to them that they were sentenced to
perpetual imprisonment. Remorse had restored to the Grand Master all his
courage; he interrupted the reading, and disavowed his avowals,
protesting that torture alone had made him speak so falsely, and
maintaining that

"Of his grand order nought he wist
'Gainst honor and the laws of Christ."

One of his three comrades in misfortune, the commander of Normandy, made
aloud a similar disavowal. The embarrassed judges sent the two Templars

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