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

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weaknesses of John in the case of those whom he suspected; the snares he
laid for them; the precipitancy and cruel violence with which he struck
them down, without form of trial, and almost with his own hand, forbid
history to receive his suspicious and his forcible proceedings as any
kind of proof; but amongst those whom he accused there were undoubtedly
traitors to the king and to France. There is one about whom there can be
no doubt at all. As early as 1351, amidst all his embroilments and all
his reconciliations with his father-in-law, Charles the Bad, King of
Navarre, had concluded with Edward III. a secret treaty, whereby, in
exchange for promises he received, he recognized his title as King of
France. In 1355 his treason burst forth. The King of Navarre, who had
gone for refuge to Avignon, under the protection of Pope Clement VI.,
crossed France by English Aquitaine, and went and landed at Cherbourg,
which he had an idea of throwing open to the King of England. He once
more entered into communications with King John, once more obtained
forgiveness from him, and for a while appeared detached from his English
alliance. But Edward III. had openly resumed his hostile attitude; and
he demanded that Aquitaine and the courtship of Ponthieu, detached from
the kingdom of France, should be ceded to him in full sovereignty, and
that Brittany should become all but independent. John haughtily rejected
these pretensions, which were merely a pretext for recommencing war. And
it recommenced accordingly, and the King of Navarre resumed his course of
perfidy. He had lands and castles in Normandy, which John put under
sequestration, and ordered the officers commanding in them to deliver up
to him. Six of them, the commandants of the castles of Cherbourg and
Evreux, amongst others, refused, believing, no doubt, that in betraying
France and her king, they were remaining faithful to their own lord.

At several points in the kingdom, especially in the northernprovinces,
the first fruits of the war were not favorable for the English. King
Edward, who had landed at Calais with a body of troops, made an
unsuccessful campaign in Artois and Picardy, and was obliged to re-embark
for England, falling back before King John, whom he had at one time
offered and at another refused to meet and fight at a spot agreed upon.
But in the south-west and south of France, in 1355 and 1356, the Prince
of Wales, at the head of a small picked army, and with John Chandos for
comrade, victoriously overran Limousin, Perigord, Languedoc, Auvergne,
Berry, and Poitou, ravaging the country and plundering the towns into
which he could force an entrance, and the environs of those that defended
themselves behind their walls. He met with scarcely any resistance, and
he was returning by way of Berry and Poitou back again to Bordeaux, when
he heard that King John, starting from Normandy with a large army, was
advancing to give him battle. John, in fact, with easy self-complacency,
and somewhat proud of his petty successes against King Edward in Picardy,
had been in a hurry to move against the Prince of Wales, in hopes of
forcing him also to re-embark for England. He was at the head of forty
or fifty thousand men, with his four sons, twenty-six dukes or counts,
and nearly all the baronage of France; and such was his confidence in
this noble army, that on crossing the Loire he dismissed the burgher
forces, "which was madness in him and in those who advised him," said
even his contemporaries. John, even more than his father Philip, was a
king of courts, ever surrounded by his nobility, and caring little for
his people. Jealous of the order of the Garter, lately instituted by
Edward III. in honor of the beautiful Countess of Salisbury, John had
created, in 1351, by way of following suit, a brotherhood called Our Lady
of the Noble House, or of the Star, the knights of which, to the number
of five hundred, had to swear, that if they were forced to recoil in a
battle they would never yield to the enemy more than four acres of
ground, and would be slain rather than retreat. John was destined to
find out before long that neither numbers nor bravery can supply the
place of prudence, ability, and discipline. When the two armies were
close to one another, on the platform of Maupertuis, two leagues to the
north of Poitiers, two legates from the pope came hurrying up from that
town, with instructions to negotiate peace between the Kings of France,
England, and Navarre. John consented to an armistice of twenty-four
hours. The Prince of Wales, seeing himself cut off from Bordeaux by
forces very much superior to his own,--for he had but eight or ten
thousand men,--offered to restore to the King of France "all that he had
conquered this bout, both towns and castles, and all the prisoners that
he and his had taken, and to swear that, for seven whole years, he would
bear arms no more against the King of France; "but King John and his
council would not accept anything of the sort, saying that "the prince
and a hundred of his knights must come and put themselves as prisoners in
the hands of the King of France." Neither the Prince of Wales nor
Chandos had any hesitation in rejecting such a demand: "God forbid," said
Chandos, "that we should go without a fight! If we be taken or
discomfited by so many fine men-at-arms, and in so great a host, we shall
incur no blame; and if the day be for us, and fortune be pleased to
consent thereto, we shall be the most honored folk in the world." The
battle took place on the 19th of September, 1356, in the morning. There
is no occasion to give the details of it here, as was done but lately in
the case of Crecy; we should merely have to tell an almost perfectly
similar story. The three battles which, from the fourteenth to the
fifteenth century, were decisive as to the fate of France, to wit, Crecy,
on the 26th of August, 1346; Poictiers, on the 19th of September, 1356;
and Azincourt, on the 25th of October, 1415, considered as historical
events, were all alike, offering a spectacle of the same faults and the
same reverses, brought about by the same causes. In all three, no matter
what was the difference in date, place, and persons engaged, it was a
case of undisciplined forces, without co-operation or order, and
ill-directed by their commanders, advancing, bravely and one after
another, to get broken against a compact force, under strict command, and
as docile as heroic. From the battle of Poictiers we will cull but that
glorious feat which was peculiar to it, and which might be called as
unfortunate as glorious if the captivity of King John had been a
misfortune for France. Nearly all his army had been beaten and
dispersed; and three of his sons, with the eldest, Charles, Duke of
Normandy, at their head, had left the field of battle with the wreck of
the divisions they commanded. John still remained there with the knights
of the Star, a band of faithful knights from Picardy, Burgundy, Normandy,
and Poitou, his constable, the Duke of Artois, his standard-bearer,
Geoffrey de Charny, and his youngest son Philip, a boy of fourteen, who
clung obstinately to his side, saying, every instant, "Father, ware
right! Father, ware left!"

[Illustration: "Father, ware right! Father, ware left!"----326]

The king was surrounded by assailants, of whom some did and some did not
know him, and all of whom kept shouting, "Yield you! yield you! else you
die." The banner of France fell at his side; for Geoffrey de Charny was
slain. Denis de Morbecque, a knight of St. Omer, made his way up to the
king, and said to him, in good French, "Sir, sir, I pray you, yield!"
"To whom shall I yield me?" said John:
where is my cousin, the Prince of Wales?" "Sir, yield you to me; I will
bring you to him." "Who are you?" "Denis de Morbecque, a knight of
Artois; I serve the King of England, not being able to live in the
kingdom of France, for I have lost all I possessed there." "I yield me
to you," said John: and he gave his glove to the knight, who led him away
"in the midst of a great press, for every one was dragging the king,
saying, 'I took him!' and he could not get forward, nor could my lord
Philip, his young son. . . . The king said to them all, Sirs, conduct
me courteously, and quarrel no more together about the taking of me, for
I am rich and great enough to make every one of you rich.'" Hereupon,
the two English marshals, the Earl of Warwick and the Earl of Suffolk,
"seeing from afar this throng, gave spur to their steeds, and came up,
asking, 'What is this yonder?' And answer was made to them, 'It is the
King of France who is taken, and more than ten knights and squires would
fain have him.' Then the two barons broke through the throng by dint of
their horses, dismounted and bowed full low before the king, who was very
joyful at their coming, for they saved him from great danger." A very
little while afterwards, the two marshals "entered the pavilion of the
Prince of Wales, and made him a present of the King of France; the which
present the prince could not but take kindly as a great and noble one,
and so truly he did, for he bowed full low before the king, and received
him as king, properly and discreetly, as he well knew how to do. . . .
When evening came, the Prince of Wales gave a supper to the King of
France, and to my lord Philip, his son, and to the greater part of the
barons of France, who were prisoners. . . . And the prince would not
sit at the king's table for all the king's entreaty, but waited as a
serving-man at the king's table, bending the knee before him, and saying,
'Dear sir, be pleased not to put on so sad a countenance because it hath
not pleased God to consent this day to your wishes, for assuredly my lord
and father will show you all the honor and friendship he shall be able,
and he will come to terms with you so reasonably that ye shall remain
good friends forever."

[Illustration: King John taken Prisoner----326]

Henceforth it was, fortunately, not on King John, or on peace or war
between him and the King of England, that the fate of France depended.


Let us turn back a little, in order to understand the government and
position of King John before he engaged in the war which, so far as he
was concerned, ended with the battle of Poitiers and imprisonment in

A valiant and loyal knight, but a frivolous, hare-brained, thoughtless,
prodigal, and obstinate as well as impetuous prince, and even more
incapable than Philip of Valois in the practice of government, John,
after having summoned at his accession, in 1351, a states-assembly
concerning which we have no explicit information left to us, tried
for a space of four years to suffice in himself for all the perils,
difficulties, and requirements of the situation he had found bequeathed
to him by his father. For a space of four years, in order to get money,
he debased the coinage, confiscated the goods and securities of foreign
merchants, and stopped payment of his debts; and he went through several
provinces, treating with local councils or magistrates in order to obtain
from them certain subsidies which he purchased by granting them new
privileges. He hoped by his institution of the order of the Star to
resuscitate the chivalrous zeal of his nobility. All these means were
vain or insufficient. The defeat of Crecy and the loss of Calais had
caused discouragement in the kingdom and aroused many doubts as to the
issue of the war with England. Defection and even treason brought
trouble into the court, the councils, and even the family of John. To
get the better of them he at one time heaped favors upon the men he
feared, at another he had them arrested, imprisoned, and even beheaded in
his presence. He gave his daughter Joan in marriage to Charles the Bad,
King of Navarre, and, some few months afterwards, Charles himself, the
real or presumed head of all the traitors, was seized, thrown into
prison, and treated with extreme rigor, in spite of the supplications of
his wife, who vigorously took the part of her husband against her father.
After four years thus consumed in fruitless endeavors, by turns violently
and feebly enforced, to reorganize an army and a treasury, and to
purchase fidelity at any price or arbitrarily strike down treason, John
was obliged to recognize his powerlessness and to call to his aid the
French nation, still so imperfectly formed, by convoking at Paris, for
the 30th of November, 1355, the states-general of _Langue d'oil_. that
is, Northern France, separated by the Dordogne and the Garonne from
_Langue d'oc,_ which had its own assembly distinct. Auvergne belonged to
_Langue d'oil_.

It is certain that neither this assembly nor the king who convoked it had
any clear and fixed idea of what they were meeting together to do. The
kingship was no longer competent for its own government and its own
perils; but it insisted none the less, in principle, on its own all but
unregulated and unlimited power. The assembly did not claim for the
country the right of self-government, but it had a strong leaven of
patriotic sentiment, and at the same time was very much discontented with
the king's government: it had equally at heart the defence of France
against England and against the abuses of the kingly power. There was no
notion of a social struggle and no systematic idea of political
revolution; a dangerous crisis and intolerable sufferings constrained
king and nation to come together in order to make an attempt at an
understanding and at a mutual exchange of the supports and the reliefs of
which they were in need.

On the 2d of December, 1355, the three orders, the clergy, the nobility,
and the deputies from the towns assembled at Paris in the great hall of
the Parliament. Peter de la Forest, Archbishop of Rouen and Chancellor
of France, asked them in the king's name "to consult together about
making him a subvention which should suffice for the expenses of the
war," and the king offered to "make a sound and durable coinage." The
tampering with the coinage was the most pressing of the grievances for
which the three orders solicited a remedy. They declared that "they were
ready to live and die with the king, and to put their bodies and what
they had at his service;" and they demanded authority to deliberate
together--which was granted them. John de Craon, Archbishop of Rheims;
Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens; and Stephen Marcel, provost of the
tradesmen of Paris, were to report the result, as presidents, each of his
own order. The session of the states lasted not more than a week. They
replied to the king "that they would give him a subvention of thirty
thousand men-at-arms every year," and, for their pay, they voted an
impost of fifty hundred thousand livres (five millions of livres), which
was to be levied "on all folks, of whatever condition they might be,
Church folks, nobles, or others," and the gabel or tax on salt "over the
whole kingdom of France." On separating, the states appointed beforehand
two fresh sessions at which they would assemble, one, in the month of
March, to estimate the sufficiency of the impost, and to hear, on that
subject, the report of the nine superintendents charged with the
execution of their decision; the other, in the month of November
following, to examine into the condition of the kingdom."

They assembled, in fact, on the 1st of March, and on the 8th of May, 1356
[N. B. As the year at that time began with Easter, the 24th of April was
the first day of the year 1356: the new style, however, is here in every
case adopted]; but they had not the satisfaction of finding their
authority generally recognized and their patriotic purpose effectually
accomplished. The impost they had voted, notably the salt-tax, had met
with violent opposition. "When the news thereof reached Normandy," says
Froissart, "the country was very much astounded at it, for they had not
learned to pay any such thing. The Count d'Harcourt told the folks of
Rouen, where he was puissant, that they would be very serfs and very
wicked if they agreed to this tax, and that, by God's help, it should
never be current in his country." The King of Navarre used much the same
language in his countship of Evreux. At other spots the mischief was
still more serious. Close to Paris itself, at Malun, payment was
peremptorily refused; and at Arras, on the 5th of March, 1356, "the
commonalty of the town," says Froissart, "rose upon the rich burghers and
slew fourteen of the most substantial, which was a pity and loss; and so
it is when wicked folk have the upper hand of valiant men. However, the
people of Arras paid for it afterwards, for the king sent thither his
cousin, my lord James of Bourbon, who gave orders to take all them by
whom the sedition had been caused, and, on the spot, had their heads cut

The states-general at their re-assembly on the 1st of March, 1356,
admitted the feebleness of their authority and the insufficiency of their
preceding votes for the purpose of aiding the king in the war. They
abolished the salt-tax and the sales-duty, which had met with such
opposition; but, stanch in their patriotism and loyalty, they substituted
therefor an income-tax, imposed on every sort of folk, nobles or
burghers, ecclesiastical or lay, which was to be levied "not by the high
justiciers of the king, but by the folks of the three estates
themselves." The king's ordinance, dated the 12th of March, 1356, which
regulates the execution of these different measures, is (article 10) to
this import: "there shall be, in each city, three deputies, one for each
estate. These deputies shall appoint, in each parish, collectors, who
shall go into the houses to receive the declaration which the persons who
dwell there shall make touching their property, their estate, and their
servants. When a declaration shall appear in conformity with truth, they
shall be content therewith; else they shall have him who has made it sent
before the deputies of the city in the district whereof he dwells, and
the deputies shall cause him to take, on this subject, such oaths as they
shall think proper. . . . The collectors in the villages shall cause
to be taken therein, in the presence of the pastor, suitable oaths on the
subject of the declarations. If, in the towns or villages, any one
refuse to take the oaths demanded, the collectors shall assess his
property according to general opinion, and on the deposition of his
neighbors." (_Ordonnances des Bois de France,_ t. iv. pp. 171 175.)

In return for so loyal and persevering a co-operation on the part of the
states-general, notwithstanding the obstacles en-countered by their votes
and their agents, King John confirmed expressly, by an ordinance of May
26, 1356 [art. 9: _Ordonnances des Bois de France,_ t. iii. p. 55], all
the promises he had made them and all the engagements he had entered into
with them by his ordinance of December 28, 1355, given immediately after
their first session (Ibidem, t. iii. pp. 19 37): a veritable reformatory
ordinance, which enumerated the various royal abuses, administrative,
judicial, financial, and military, against which there had been a public
clamor, and regulated the manner of redressing them.

After these mutual concessions and promises the states-general broke up,
adjourning until the 30th of November following (1356); but two months
and a half before this time King John, proud of some success obtained by
him in Normandy and of the brilliant army of knights remaining to him
after he had dismissed the burgher-forces, rushed, as has been said, with
conceited impetuosity to encounter the Prince of Wales, rejected with
insolent demands the modest proposals of withdrawal made to him by the
commander of the little English army, and, on the 19th of September,
lost, contrary to all expectation, the lamentable battle of Poitiers.
We have seen how he was deserted before the close of the action by his
eldest son, Prince Charles, with his body of troops, and how he himself
remained with his youngest son, Prince Philip, a boy of fourteen years, a
prisoner in the hands of his victorious enemies. "At this news," says
Froissart, "the kingdom of France was greatly troubled and excited, and
with good cause, for it was a right grievous blow and vexatious for all
sorts of folk. The wise men of the kingdom might well predict that great
evils would come of it, for the king, their head, and all the chivalry of
the kingdom were slain or taken; the knights and squires who came back
home were on that account so hated and blamed by the commoners that they
had great difficulty in gaining admittance to the good towns; and the
king's three sons who had returned, Charles, Louis, and John, were very
young in years and experience, and there was in them such small resource
that none of the said lads liked to undertake the government of the said

The eldest of the three, Prince Charles, aged nineteen, who was called
the Dauphin after the cession of Dauphiny to France, nevertheless assumed
the office, in spite of his youth and his anything but glorious retreat
from Poitiers. He took the title of lieutenant of the king, and had
hardly re-entered Paris, on the 29th of September, when he summoned, for
the 15th of October, the states-general of _Langue d'oil,_ who met, in
point of fact, on the 17th, in the great chamber of parliament. "Never
was seen," says the report of their meeting, "an assembly so numerous, or
composed of wiser folk." The superior clergy were there almost to a man;
the nobility had lost too many in front of Poitiers to be abundant at
Paris, but there were counted at the assembly four hundred deputies from
the good towns, amongst whom special mention is made, in the documents,
of those from Amiens, Tournay, Lille, Arras, Troyes, Auxerre, and Sens.
The total number of members at the assembly amounted to more than eight

The session was opened by a speech from the chancellor, Peter de la
Forest, who called upon the estates to aid the dauphin with their
counsels under the serious and melancholy circumstances of the kingdom.
The three orders at first attempted to hold their deliberations each in a
separate hall; but it was not long before they felt the inconveniences
arising from their number and their separation, and they resolved to
choose from amongst each order commissioners who should examine the
questions together, and afterwards make their report and their proposals
to the general meeting of the estates. Eighty commissioners were
accordingly elected, and set themselves to work. The dauphin appointed
some of his officers to be present at their meetings, and to furnish them
with such information as they might require. As early as the second day
"these officers were given to understand that the deputies would not work
whilst anybody belonging to the king's council was with them." So the
officers withdrew; and a few days afterwards, towards the end of October,
1356, the commissioners reported the result of their conferences to each
of the three orders. The general assembly adopted their proposals, and
had the dauphin informed that they were desirous of a private audience.
Charles repaired, with some of his councillors, to the monastery of the
Cordeliers, where the estates were holding their sittings, and there he
received their representations. They demanded of him "that he should
deprive of their offices such of the king's councillors as they should
point out, have them arrested, and confiscate all their property.
Twenty-two men of note, the chancellor, the premier president of the
Parliament, the king's stewards, and several officers in the household of
the dauphin himself, were thus pointed out. They were accused of having
taken part to their own profit in all the abuses for which the government
was reproached, and of having concealed from the king the true state of
things and the misery of the people. The commissioners elected by the
estates were to take proceedings against them: if they were found guilty,
they were to be punished; and if they were innocent, they were at the
very least to forfeit their offices and their property, on account of
their bad counsels and their bad administration."

The chronicles of the time are not agreed as to these last demands. We
have, as regards the events of this period, two contemporary witnesses,
both full of detail, intelligence, and animation in their narratives,
namely, Froissart and the continuer of William of Nangis' _Latin
Chronicle_. Froissart is in general favorable to kings and princes; the
anonymous chronicler, on the contrary, has a somewhat passionate bias
towards the popular party. Probably both of them are often given to
exaggeration in their assertions and impressions; but, taking into
account none but undisputed facts, it is evident that the claims of the
states-general, though they were, for the most part, legitimate enough at
bottom, by reason of the number, gravity, and frequent recurrence of
abuses, were excessive and violent, and produced the effect of complete
suspension in the regular course of government and justice. The dauphin,
Charles, was a young man, of a naturally sound and collected mind, but
without experience, who had hitherto lived only in his father's court,
and who could not help being deeply shocked and disquieted by such
demands. He was still more troubled when the estates demanded that the
deputies, under the title of reformers, should traverse the provinces as
a check upon the malversations of the royal officials, and that twenty-
eight delegates, chosen from amongst the three orders, four prelates,
twelve knights, and twelve burgesses, should be constantly placed near
the king's person, "with power to do and order everything in the kingdom,
just like the king himself, as well for the purpose of appointing and
removing public officers as for other matters." It was taking away the
entire government from the crown, and putting it into the hands of the

The dauphin's surprise and suspicion were still more vivid when the
deputies spoke to him about setting at liberty the King of Navarre, who
had been imprisoned by King John, and told him that "since this deed of
violence no good had come to the king or the kingdom, because of the sin
of having imprisoned the said King of Navarre." And yet Charles the Bad
was already as infamous as he has remained in history; he had labored to
embroil the dauphin with his royal father; and there was no plot or
intrigue, whether with the malcontents in France or with the King of
England, in which he was not, with good reason, suspected of having been
mixed up, and of being ever ready to be mixed up. He was clearly a
dangerous enemy for the public peace, as well as for the crown, and,
for the states-general who were demanding his release, a bad associate.

[Illustration: Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, in Prison----335]

In the face of such demands and such forebodings, the dauphin did all he
could to gain time. Before he gave an answer he must know, he said, what
subvention the states-general would be willing to grant him. The reply
was a repetition of the promise of thirty thousand men-at-arms, together
with an enumeration of the several taxes whereby there was a hope of
providing for the expense. But the produce of these taxes was so
uncertain, that both parties doubted the worth of the promise. Careful
calculation went to prove that the subvention would suffice, at the very
most, for the keep of no more than eight or nine thousand men. The
estates were urgent for a speedy compliance with their demands. The
dauphin persisted in his policy of delay. He was threatened with a
public and solemn session, at which all the questions should be brought
before the people, and which was fixed for the 3d of November. Great was
the excitement in Paris; and the people showed a disposition to support
the estates at any price. On the 2d of November, the dauphin summoned at
the Louvre a meeting of his councillors and of the principal deputies;
and there he announced that he was obliged to set out for Metz, where he
was going to follow up the negotiations entered into with the Emperor
Charles IV. and Pope Innocent VI. for the sake of restoring peace between
France and England. He added that the deputies, on returning for a while
to their provinces, should get themselves enlightened as to the real
state of affairs, and that he would not fail to recall them so soon as he
had any important news to tell them, and any assistance to request of

[Illustration: The Louvre in the Fourtheenth Century----336]

It was not without serious grounds that the dauphin attached so much
importance to gaining time. When, in the preceding month of October, he
had summoned to Paris the states-general of _Langue d'oil_, he had
likewise convoked at Toulouse those of _Langue d'oe_, and he was informed
that the latter had not only just voted a levy of fifty thousand men-at-
arms, with an adequate subsidy, but that, in order to show their royalist
sentiments, they had decreed a sort of public mourning, to last for a
year, if King John were not released from his captivity. The dauphin's
idea was to summon other provincial assemblies, from which he hoped for
similar manifestations. It was said, moreover, that several deputies,
already gone from Paris, had been ill received in their towns, at
Soissons amongst others, on account of their excessive claims, and their
insulting language towards all the king's councillors. Under such
flattering auspices the dauphin set out, according to the announcement he
had made, from Paris, on the 5th of December, 1356, to go and meet the
Emperor Charles IV. at Metz; but, at his departure, he committed exactly
the fault which was likely to do him the most harm at Paris: being in
want of money for his costly trip, he subjected the coinage to a fresh
adulteration, which took effect five days after his departure.

The leaders in Paris seized eagerly upon so legitimate a grievance for
the support of their claims. As early as the 3d of the preceding
November, when they were apprised of the dauphin's approaching departure
for Metz, and the adjournment of their sittings, the states-general had
come to a decision that their remonstrances and demands, summed up in
twenty-one articles, should be read in general assembly, and that a
recital of the negotiations which had taken place on that subject between
the estates and the dauphin should be likewise drawn up, "in order that
all the deputies might be able to tell in their districts wherefore the
answers had not been received." When, after the dauphin's departure, the
new debased coins were put in circulation, the people were driven to an
outbreak thereby, and the provost of tradesmen, "Stephen Marcel, hurried
to the Louvre to demand of the Count of Anjou, the dauphin's brother and
lieutenant, a withdrawal of the decree. Having obtained no answer, he
returned the next day, escorted by a throng of the inhabitants of Paris.
At length, on the third day, the numbers assembled were so considerable
that the young prince took alarm, and suspended the execution of the
decree until his brother's return. For the fist time Stephen Marcel had
got himself supported by an outbreak of the people; for the first time
the mob had imposed its will upon the ruling power; and from this day
forth pacific and lawful resistance was transformed into a violent

At his re-entry into Paris, on the 19th of January, 1357, the dauphin
attempted to once more gain possession of some sort of authority. He
issued orders to Marcel and the sheriffs to remove the stoppage they had
placed on the currency of the new coinage. This was to found his
opposition on the worst side of his case. "We will do nothing of the
sort," replied Marcel; and in a few moments, at the provost's orders, the
work-people left their work, and shouts of "To arms!" resounded through
the streets. The prince's councillors were threatened with death. The
dauphin saw the hopelessness of a struggle; for there were hardly a
handful of men left to guard the Louvre. On the morrow, the 20th of
January, he sent for Marcel and the sheriffs into the great hall of
parliament, and giving way on almost every point, bound himself to no
longer issue new coin, to remove from his council the officers who had
been named to him, and even to imprison them until the return of his
father, who would do full justice to them. The estates were at the same
time authorized to meet when they pleased: on all which points the
provost of tradesmen requested letters, which were granted him; "and he
demanded that the dauphin should immediately place sergeants in the
houses of those of his councillors who still happened to be in Paris, and
that proceedings should be taken without delay for making an inventory of
their goods, with a view to confiscation of them.

The estates met on the 5th of February. It was not without surprise that
they found themselves less numerous than they had hitherto been. The
deputies from the duchy of Burgundy, from the countships of Flanders and
Alencon, and several nobles and burghers from other provinces, did not
repair to the session. The kingdom was falling into anarchy; bands of
plunderers roved hither and thither, threatening persons and ravaging
lands; the magistrates either could not or would not exercise their
authority; disquietude and disgust were gaining possession of many honest
folks. Marcel and his partisans, having fallen into somewhat of
disrepute and neglect, keenly felt how necessary, and also saw how easy,
it was for them to become completely masters. They began by drawing up a
series of propositions, which they had distributed and spread abroad far
and wide in the provinces. On the 3d of March, they held a public
meeting, at which the dauphin and his two brothers were present. A
numerous throng filled the hall. The Bishop of Laon, Robert Lecoeq, the
spokesman of the party, made a long and vehement statement of all the
public grievances, and declared that twenty-two of the king's officers
should be deprived forever of all offices, that all the officers of the
kingdom should be provisionally suspended, and that reformers, chosen by
the estates, and commissioned by the dauphin himself, should go all over
France, to hold inquiries as to these officers, and, according to their
deserts, either reinstate them in their offices or condemn them. At the
same time, the estates bound themselves to raise thirty thousand men-at-
arms, whom they themselves would pay and keep; and as the produce of the
impost voted for this purpose was very uncertain, they demanded their
adjournment to the fortnight of Easter, and two sessions certain, for
which they should be free to fix the time, before the 15th of February in
the following year. This was simply to decree the permanence of their
power. To all these demands the dauphin offered no resistance. In the
month of March following, a grand ordinance, drawn up in sixty-one
articles, enumerated all the grievances which had been complained of, and
prescribed the redress for them. A second ordinance, regulating all that
appertained to the suspension of the royal officers, was likewise, as it
appears, drawn up at the same time, but has not come down to us. At last
a grand commission was appointed, composed of thirty-six members, twelve
elected by each of the three orders. "These thirty-six persons," says
Froissart, "were bound to often meet together at Paris, for to order the
affairs of the kingdom, and all kinds of matters were to be disposed of
by these three estates, and all prelates, all lords, and all commonalties
of the cities and good towns were bound to be obedient to what these
three estates should order." Having their power thus secured in their
absence, the estates adjourned to the 25th of April.

The rumor of these events reached Bordeaux, where, since the defeat at
Poitiers, King John had been living as the guest of the Prince of Wales,
rather than as a prisoner of the English. Amidst the galas and pleasures
to which he abandoned himself, he was indignant to learn that at Paris
the royal authority was ignored, and he sent three of his comrades in
captivity to notify to the Parisians that he rejected all the claims of
the estates, that he would not have payment made of the subsidy voted by
them, and that he forbade their meeting on the 25th of April following.
This strange manifesto on the part of imprisoned royalty excited in Paris
such irritation amongst the people, that the dauphin hastily sent out of
the city the king's three envoys, whose lives might have been threatened,
and declared to the thirty-six commissioners of the estates that the
subsidy should be raised, and that the general assembly should be
perfectly free to meet at the time it had appointed.

And it did meet towards the end of April, but in far fewer numbers than
had been the case hitherto, and with more and more division from day to
day. Nearly all the nobles and ecclesiastics were withdrawing from it;
and amongst the burgesses themselves many of the more moderate spirits
were becoming alarmed at the violent proceedings of the commission of the
thirty-six delegates, who, under the direction of Stephen Marcel, were
becoming a small oligarchy, little by little usurping the place of the
great national assembly. A cry was raised in the provinces "against the
injustice of those chief governors who were no more than ten or a dozen;"
and there was a refusal to pay the subsidy voted. These symptoms and the
disorganization which was coming to a head throughout the whole kingdom
made the dauphin think that the moment had arrived for him to seize the
reins again. About the middle of August, 1357, he sent for Marcel and
three sheriffs, accustomed to direct matters at Paris, and let them know
"that he intended thence-forward to govern by himself, without curators."
He at the same time restored to office some of the lately dismissed royal
officers. The thirty-six commissioners made a show of submission; and
their most faithful ecclesiastical ally, Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon,
returned to his diocese. The dauphin left Paris and went a trip into
some of the provinces, halting at the principal towns, such as Rouen and
Chartres, and everywhere, with intelligent but timid discretion, making
his presence and his will felt, not very successfully, however, as
regarded the re-establishment of some kind of order on his route in the
name of the kingship.

[Illustration: Stephen Marcel----342]

Marcel and his partisans took advantage of his absence to shore up their
tottering supremacy. They felt how important it was for them to have a
fresh meeting of the estates, whose presence alone could restore strength
to their commissioners; but the dauphin only could legally summon them.
They, therefore, eagerly pressed him to return in person to Paris, giving
him a promise that, if he agreed to convoke there the deputies from
twenty or thirty towns, they would supply him with the money of which he
was in need, and would say no more about the dismissal of royal officers,
or about setting at liberty the king of Navarre. The dauphin, being
still young and trustful, though he was already discreet and reserved,
fell into the snare. He returned to Paris, and summoned thither, for the
7th of November following, the deputies from seventy towns, a sufficient
number to give their meeting a specious resemblance to the
states-general. One circumstance ought to have caused him some
glimmering of suspicion. At the same time that the dauphin was sending
to the deputies his letters of convocation, Marcel himself also sent to
them, as if he possessed the right, either in his own name or in that of
the thirty-six delegate-commissioners, of calling them together. But a
still more serious matter came to open the dauphin's eyes to the danger
he had fallen into. During the night between the 8th and 9th of
November, 1357, immediately after the re-opening of the states, Charles
the Bad, King of Navarre, was carried off by a surprise from the castle
of Arleux in Cambresis, where he had been confined; and his liberators
removed him first of all to Amiens and then to Paris itself, where the
popular party gave him a triumphant reception. Marcel and his sheriffs
had decided upon and prepared, at a private council, this dramatic
incident, so contrary to the promises they had but lately made to the
dauphin. Charles the Bad used his deliverance like a skilful workman;
the very day after his arrival in Paris he mounted a platform set against
the walls of St. Germain's abbey, and there, in the presence of more than
ten thousand persons, burgesses and populace, he delivered a long speech,
"seasoned with much venom," says a chronicler of the time. After having
denounced the wrongs which he had been made to endure, he said, for
eighteen months past, he declared that the would live and die in defence
of the kingdom of France, giving it to be understood that "if he were
minded to claim the crown, he would soon show by the laws of right and
wrong that he was nearer to it than the King of England was." He was
insinuating, eloquent, and an adept in the art of making truth subserve
the cause of falsehood. The people were moved by his speech. The
dauphin was obliged not only to put up with the release and the triumph
of his most dangerous enemy, but to make an outward show of
reconciliation with him, and to undertake not only to give him back the
castles confiscated after his arrest, but "to act towards him as a good
brother towards his brother." These were the exact words made use of in
the dauphin's name, "and without having asked his pleasure about it," by
Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon, who himself also had returned from his
diocese to Paris at the time of the recall of the estates.

The consequences of this position were not slow to exhibit themselves.
Whilst the King of Navarre was re-entering Paris and the dauphin
submitting to the necessity of a reconciliation with him, several of the
deputies who had but lately returned to the states-general, and amongst
others nearly all those from Champagne and Burgundy, were going away
again, being unwilling either to witness the triumphal re-entry of
Charles the Bad or to share the responsibility for such acts as they
foresaw. Before long the struggle, or rather the war, between the King
of Navarre and the dauphin broke out again; several of the nobles in
possession of the castles which were to have been restored to Charles the
Bad, and especially those of Breteuil, Pacy-sur-Eure, and Pont-Audemer,
flatly refused to give them back to him; and the dauphin was suspected,
probably not without reason, of having encouraged them in their
resistance. Without the walls of Paris it was really war that was going
on between the two princes. Philip of Navarre, brother of Charles the
Bad, went marching with bands of pillagers over Normandy and Anjou, and
within a few leagues of Paris, declaring that he had not taken, and did
not intend to take, any part in his brother's pacific arrangements, and
carrying fire and sword all through the country. The peasantry from the
ravaged districts were overflowing Paris. Stephen Marcel had no mind to
reject the support which many of them brought him; but they had to be
fed, and the treasury was empty. The wreck of the states-general,
meeting on the 2d of January, 1358, themselves had recourse to the
expedient which they had so often and so violently reproached the king
and the dauphin with employing: they notably depreciated the coinage,
allotting a fifth of the profit to the dauphin, and retaining the other
four fifths for the defence of the kingdom. What Marcel and his party
called the defence of the kingdom was the works of fortification round
Paris, begun in October, 1356, against the English, after the defeat of
Poitiers, and resumed in 1358 against the dauphin's party in the
neighboring provinces, as well as against the robbers that were laying
them waste. Amidst all this military and popular excitement the dauphin
kept to the Louvre, having about him two thousand men-at-arms, whom he
had taken into his pay, he said, solely "on account of the prospect of a
war with the Navarrese." Before he went and plunged into a civil war
outside the gates of Paris, he resolved to make an effort to win back the
Parisians themselves to his cause. He sent a crier through the city to
bid the people assemble in the market-place, and thither he repaired on
horseback, on the 11th of January, with five or six of his most trusty
servants. The astonished mob thronged about him, and he addressed them
in vigorous language. He meant, he said, to live and die amongst the
people of Paris; if he was collecting his men-at-arms, it was not for the
purpose of plundering and oppressing Paris, but that he might march
against their common enemies; and if he had not done so sooner, it was
because "the folks who had taken the government gave him neither money
nor arms; but they would some day be called to strict account for it."
The dauphin was small, thin, delicate, and of insignificant appearance;
but at this juncture he displayed unexpected boldness and eloquence; the
people were deeply moved; and Marcel and his friends felt that a heavy
blow had just been dealt them.

They hastened to respond with a blow of another sort. It was everywhere
whispered abroad that if Paris was suffering so much from civil war and
the irregularities and calamities which were the concomitants of it, the
fault lay with the dauphin's surroundings, and that his noble advisers
deterred him from measures which would save the people from their

"Provost Marcel and the burgesses of Paris took counsel together and
decided that it would be a good thing if some of those attendants on the
regent were to be taken away from the midst of this world. They all put
on caps, red on one side and blue on the other, which they wore as a sign
of their confederation in defence of the common weal. This done, they
reassembled in large numbers on the 22d of February, 1358, with the
provost at their head, and marched to the palace where the duke was
lodged." This crowd encountered on its, way, in the street called
Juiverie (Jewry), the advocate-general Regnault d'Aci, one of the
twenty-two royal officers denounced by the estates in the preceding year;
and he was massacred in a pastry-cook's shop. Marcel, continuing his
road, arrived at the palace, and ascended, followed by a band of armed
men, to the apartments of the dauphin, "whom he requested very sharply,"
says Froissart, "to restrain so many companies from roving about on all
sides, damaging and plundering the country. The duke replied that he
would do so willingly if he had the wherewithal to do it, but that it was
for him who received the dues belonging to the kingdom to discharge that
duty. I know not why or how," adds Froissart, "but words were multiplied
on the part of all, and became very high." "My lord duke," suddenly said
the provost, "do not alarm yourself; but we have somewhat to do here;"
and turning towards his fellows in the caps, he said, "Dearly beloved, do
that for the which ye are come." Immediately the Lord de Conflans,
Marshal of Champagne, and Robert de Clermont, Marshal of Normandy, noble
and valiant gentlemen, and both at the time unarmed, were massacred so
close to the dauphin and his couch, that his robe was covered with their
blood. The dauphin shuddered; and the rest of his officers fled. "Take
no heed, lord duke," said Marcel; "you have nought to fear." He handed
to the dauphin his own red and blue cap, and himself put on the
dauphin's, which was of black stuff with golden fringe. The corpses of
the two marshals were dragged into the court-yard of the palace, where
they remained until evening without any one's daring to remove them; and
Marcel with his fellows repaired to the mansion-house, and harangued from
an open window the mob collected on the Place de Greve. "What has been
done is for the good and the profit of the kingdom," said he; "the dead
were false and wicked traitors." "We do own it, and will maintain it!"
cried the people who were about him.

[Illustration: The Murder of the Marshals----345]

The house from which Marcel thus addressed the people was his own
property, and was called the Pillar-house. There he accommodated the
town-council, which had formerly held its sittings in divers parlors.

For a month after this triple murder, committed with such official
parade, Marcel reigned dictator in Paris. He removed from the council
of thirty-six deputies such members as he could not rely upon, and
introduced his own confidants. He cited the council, thus modified, to
express approval of the blow just struck; and the deputies, "some from
conviction and others from doubt (that is, fear), answered that they
believed that for what had been done there had been good and just cause."
The King of Navarre was recalled from Nantes to Paris, and the dauphin
was obliged to assign to him, in the king's name, "as a make-up for his
losses," ten thousand livres a year on landed property in Languedoc.
Such was the young prince's condition that, almost every day, he was
reduced to the necessity of dining with his most dangerous and most
hypocritical enemy. A man of family, devoted to the dauphin, who was now
called regent, Philip de Repenti by name, lost his head on the 19th of
March, 1358, on the market-place, for having attempted, with a few bold
comrades, "to place the regent beyond the power and the reach of the
people of Paris." Six days afterwards, however, on the 25th of March,
the dauphin succeeded in escaping, and repaired first of all to Senlis,
and then to Provins, where he found the estates of Champagne eager to
welcome him. Marcel at once sent to Provins two deputies with
instructions to bind over the three orders of Champagne "to be at one
with them of Paris, and not to be astounded at what had been done."
Before answering, the members of the estates withdrew into a garden to
parley together, and sent to pray the regent to come and meet them. "My
lord," said the Count de Braine to him in the name of the nobility, "did
you ever suffer any harm or villany at the hands of De Conflans, Marshal
of Champagne, for which he deserved to be put to death as he hath been by
them of Paris? "The prince replied that he firmly held and believed that
the said marshal and Robert de Clermont had well and loyally served and
advised him. "My lord," replied the Count de Braine, "we Champagnese who
are here do thank you for that which you have just said, and do desire
you to do full justice on those who have put our friend to death without
cause;" and they bound themselves to support him with their persons and
their property, for the chastisement of them who had been the authors of
the outrage.

The dauphin, with full trust in this manifestation and this promise,
convoked at Compiegne, for the 4th of May, 1858, no longer the estates of
Champagne only, but the states-general in their entirety, who, on
separating at the close of their last session, had adjourned to the 1st
of May following. The story of this fresh session, and of the events
determined by it, is here reproduced textually, just as it has come down
to us from the last continuer of the Chronicle of William of Nangis, the
most favorable amongst all the chroniclers of the time to Stephen Marcel
and the popular party in Paris. "All the deputies, and especially the
friends of the nobles slain, did with one heart and one mind counsel the
lord Charles, Duke of Normandy, to have the homicides stricken to death;
and, if he could not do so by reason of the number of their defenders,
they urged him to lay vigorous siege to the city of Paris, either with an
armed force or by forbidding the entry of victuals thereinto, in such
sort that it should understand and perceive for a certainty that the
death of the provost of tradesmen and of his accomplices was intended.
The said provost and those who, after the regent's departure, had taken
the government of the city, clearly understood this intention, and they
then implored the University of studies at Paris to send deputies to the
said lord-regent, to humbly adjure him, in their name and in the name of
the whole city, to banish from his heart the wrath he had conceived
against their fellow-citizens, offering and promising, moreover, a
suitable reparation for the offence, provided that the lives of the
persons were spared. The University, concerned for the welfare of the
city, sent several deputies of weight to treat about the matter. They
were received by the lord Duke Charles and the other lords with great
kindness; and they brought back word to Paris that the demand made at
Compiegne was, that ten or a dozen, or even only five or six, of the men
suspected of the crime lately committed at Paris should be sent to
Compiegne, where there was no design of putting them to death, and, if
this were done, the duke-regent would return to his old and intimate
friendship with the Parisians. But Provost Marcel and his accomplices,
who were afeard for themselves, did not believe that if they fell into
the hands of the lord duke they could escape a terrible death, and they
had no mind to run such a risk. Taking, therefore, a bold resolution,
they desired to be treated as all the rest of the citizens, and to that
end sent several deputations to the lord-regent either to Compiegne or to
Meaux, whither he sometimes removed; but they got no gracious reply, and
rather words of bitterness and threatening. Thereupon, being seized with
alarm for their city, into the which the lord-regent and his noble
comrades were so ardently desirous of re-entering, and being minded to
put it out of reach from the peril which threatened it, they began to
fortify themselves therein, to repair the walls, to deepen the ditches,
to build new ramparts on the eastern side, and to throw up barriers at
all the gates. . . . As they lacked a captain, they sent to Charles
the Bad, King of Navarre, who was at that time in Normandy, and whom they
knew to be freshly embroiled with the regent; and they requested him to
come to Paris with a strong body of men-at-arms, and to be their captain
there and their defender against all their foes, save the lord John, King
of, France, a prisoner in England. The King of Navarre, with all his
men, was received in state, on the 15th of June, by the Parisians, to the
great indignation of the prince-regent, his friends, and many others.
The nobles thereupon began to draw near to Paris, and to ride about in
the fields of the neighborhood, prepared to fight if there should be a
sortie from Paris to attack them. . . . On a certain day the
besiegers came right up to the bridge of Charenton, as if to draw out the
King of Navarre and the Parisians to battle. The King of Navarre issued
forth, armed, with his men, and drawing near to the besiegers, had long
conversations with them without fighting, and afterwards went back into
Paris. At sight hereof the Parisians suspected that this king, who was
himself a noble, was conspiring with the besiegers, and was preparing to
deal some secret blow to the detriment of Paris; so they conceived
mistrust of him and his, and stripped him of his office of captain. He
went forth sore vexed from Paris, he and his; and the English especially,
whom he had brought with him, insulted certain Parisians, whence it
happened that before they were out of the city several of them were
massacred by the folks of Paris, who afterwards confined themselves
within their walls, carefully guarding the gates by day, and by night
keeping up strong patrols on the ramparts."

Whilst Marcel inside Paris, where he reigned supreme, was a prey, on his
own account and that of his besieged city, to these anxieties and perils,
an event occurred outside which seemed to open to him a prospect of
powerful aid, perhaps of decisive victory. Throughout several provinces
the peasants, whose condition, sad and hard as it already was under the
feudal system, had been still further aggravated by the outrages and
irregularities of war, not finding any protection in their lords, and
often being even oppressed by them as if they had been foes, had recourse
to insurrection in order to escape from the evils which came down upon
them every day and from every quarter.

They bore and would bear anything, it was said, and they got the name of
Jacques Bonhomme (Jack Goodfellow); but this taunt they belied in a
terrible manner. We will quote from the last continuer of William of
Nangis, the least declamatory and the least confused of all the
chroniclers of that period: "In this same year 1358," says he, "in the
summer [the first rising took place on the 28th of May], the peasants in
the neighborhood of St. Loup de Cerent and Clermont, in the diocese of
Beauvais, took up arms against the nobles of France. They assembled in
great numbers, set at their head a certain peasant named William Karle
[or Cale, or Callet], of more intelligence than the rest, and marching by
companies under their own flag, roamed over the country, slaying and
massacring all the nobles they met, even their own lords. Not content
with that, they demolished the houses and castles of the nobles; and,
what is still more deplorable, they villanously put to death the noble
dames and little children who fell into their hands; and afterwards they
strutted about, they and their wives, bedizened with the garments they
had stripped from their victims. The number of men who had thus risen
amounted to five thousand, and the rising extended to the outskirts of
Paris. They had begun it from sheer necessity and love of justice, for
their lords oppressed instead of defending them; but before long they
proceeded to the most hateful and criminal deeds. They took and
destroyed from top to bottom the strong castle of Ermenonville, where
they put to death a multitude of men and dames of noble family who had
taken refuge there. For some time the nobles no longer went about as
before; none of them durst set a foot outside the fortified places."
Jacquery had taken the form of a fit of demagogic fury, and the Jacks [or
Goodfellows] swarming out of their hovels were the terror of the castles.

Had Marcel provoked this bloody insurrection? There is strong
presumption against him; many of his contemporaries say he had; and the
dauphin himself wrote on the 30th of August, 1359, to the Count of Savoy,
that one of the most heinous acts of Marcel and his partisans was
exciting the folks of the open country in France, of Beauvaisis and
Champagne, and other districts, against the nobles of the said kingdom;
whence so many evils have proceeded as no man should or could conceive."
It is quite certain, however, that, the insurrection having once broken
out, Marcel hastened to profit by it, and encouraged and even supported
it at several points. Amongst other things he sent from Paris a body of
three hundred men to the assistance of the peasants who were besieging
the castle of Ermenonville. It is the due penalty paid by reformers who
allow themselves to drift into revolution, that they become before long
accomplices in mischief or crime which their original design and their
own personal interest made it incumbent on them to prevent or repress.

The reaction against Jaequery was speedy and shockingly bloody. The
nobles, the dauphin, and the King of Navarre, a prince and a noble at the
same time that he was a scoundrel, made common cause against the
Goodfellows, who were the more disorderly in proportion as they had
become more numerous, and believed themselves more invincible. The
ascendency of the masters over the rebels was soon too strong for
resistance. At Meaux, of which the Goodfellows had obtained possession,
they were surprised and massacred to the number, it is said, of seven
thousand, with the town burning about their ears. In Beauvaisis, the
King of Navarre, after having made a show of treating with their
chieftain, William Karle or Callet, got possession of him, and had him
beheaded, wearing a trivet of red-hot iron, says one of the chroniclers,
by way of crown. He then moved upon a camp of Goodfellows assembled near
Montdidier, slew three thousand of them, and dispersed the remainder.
These figures are probably very much exaggerated, as nearly always
happens in such accounts; but the continuer of William of Nangis, so
justly severe on the outrages and barbarities of the insurgent peasants,
is not less so on those of their conquerors. "The nobles of France," he
says, "committed at that time such ravages in the district of Meaux that
there was no need for the English to come and destroy our country those
mortal enemies of the kingdom could not have done what was done by the
nobles at home."

Marcel from that moment perceived that his cause was lost, and no longer
dreamed of anything but saving himself and his, at any price; "for he
thought," says Froissart, "that it paid better to slay than to be slain."
Although he had more than once experienced the disloyalty of the King of
Navarre, he entered into fresh negotiation with him, hoping to use him as
an intermediary between himself and the dauphin, in order to obtain
either an acceptable peace or guarantees for his own security in case of
extreme danger. The King of Navarre lent a ready ear to these overtures;
he had no scruple about negotiating with this or that individual, this or
that party, flattering himself that he would make one or the other useful
for his own purposes. Marcel had no difficulty in discovering that the
real design of the King of Navarre was to set aside the house of Valois
and the Plantagenets together, and to become King of France himself, as a
descendant, in his own person, of St. Louis, though one degree more
remote. An understanding was renewed between the two, such as it is
possible to have between two personal interests fundamentally different,
but capable of being for the moment mutually helpful. Marcel, under
pretext of defence against the besiegers, admitted into Paris a pretty
large number of English in the pay of the King of Navarre. Before long,
quarrels arose between the Parisians and these unpopular foreigners; on
the 21st of July, 1358, during one of these quarrels, twenty-four English
were massacred by the people; and four hundred others, it is said, were
in danger of undergoing the same fate, when Marcel came up and succeeded
in saving their lives by having them imprisoned in the Louvre. The
quarrel grew hotter and spread farther. The people of Paris went and
attacked other mercenaries of the King of Navarre, chiefly English, who
were occupying St. Denis and St. Cloud. The Parisians were beaten; and
the King of Navarre withdrew to St. Denis. On the 27th of July, Marcel
boldly resolved to set at liberty and send over to him the four hundred
English imprisoned in the Louvre. He had them let out, accordingly, and
himself escorted them as far as the gate St. Honore, in the midst of a
throng that made no movement for all its irritation. Some of Marcel's
satellites who formed the escort cried out as they went, "Has anybody
aught to say against the setting of these prisoners at liberty?" The
Parisians remembered their late reverse, and not a voice was raised.
"Strongly moved as the people of Paris were in their hearts against the
provost of tradesmen," says a contemporary chronicle, there was not a man
who durst commence a riot."

Marcel's position became day by day more critical. The dauphin, encamped
with his army around Paris, was keeping up secret but very active
communications with it; and a party, numerous and already growing in
popularity, was being formed there in his favor. Men of note, who were
lately Marcel's comrades, were now pronouncing against him; and John
Maillart, one of the four chosen captains of the municipal forces, was
the most vigilant. Marcel, at his wit's end, made an offer to the King
of Navarre to deliver Paris up to him on the night between the 31st of
July and the 1st of August. All was ready for carrying out this design.
During the day of the 31st of July, Marcel would have changed the keepers
of the St. Denis gate, but Maillart opposed him, rushed to the Hotel de
Ville, seized the banner of France, jumped on horseback and rode through
the city shouting, "Mountjoy St. Denis, for the king and the duke!" This
was the rallying-cry of the dauphin's partisans. The day ended with a
great riot amongst the people. Towards eleven o'clock at night Marcel,
followed by his people armed from head to foot, made his way to the St.
Anthony gate, holding in his hands, it is said, the keys of the city.
Whilst he was there, waiting for the arrival of the King of Navarre's
men, Maillart came up "with torches and lanterns and a numerous
assemblage. He went straight to the provost and said to him, 'Stephen,
Stephen, what do you here at this hour?' 'John, what business have you
to meddle? I am here to take the guard of the city of which I have the
government.' 'By God,' rejoined Maillart, 'that will not do; you are not
here at this hour for any good, and I'll prove it to you,' said he,
addressing his comrades. 'See, he holds in his hands the keys of the
gates, to betray the city.'

[Illustration: "In his Hands the Keys of the Gates."----354]

'You lie, John,' said Marcel. 'By God, you traitor, 'tis you who lie,'
replied Maillart: 'death! death! to all on his side!' "And he raised his
battle-axe against Marcel. Philippe Giffard, one of the provost's
friends, threw himself before Marcel and covered him for a moment with
his own body; but the struggle had begun in earnest. Maillart plied his
battle-axe upon Marcel, who fell pierced with many wounds. Six of his
comrades shared the same fate; and Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon, saved
himself by putting on a Cordelier's habit. Maillart's company divided
themselves into several bands, and spread themselves all over the city,
carrying the news everywhere, and despatching or arresting the partisans
of Marcel. The next morning, the 1st of August, 1358, "John Maillart
brought together in the market-place the greater part of the community of
Paris, explained for what reason he had slain the provost of tradesmen
and in what offence he had detected him, and pointed out quietly and
discreetly how that on this very night the city of Paris must have been
overrun and destroyed if God of His grace had not applied a remedy. When
the people who were present heard these news they were much astounded at
the peril in which they had been, and the greater part thanked God with
folded hands for the grace He had done them." The corpse of Stephen
Marcel was stripped and exposed quite naked to the public gaze, in front
of St. Catherine du Val des Beoliers, on the very spot where, by his
orders, the corpses of the two marshals, Robert de Clermont and John de
Conflans, had been exposed five months before. He was afterwards cast
into the river in the presence of a great concourse. "Then were
sentenced to death by the council of prud'hommes of Paris, and executed
by divers forms of deadly torture, several who had been of the sect of
the provost," the regent having declared that he would not re-enter Paris
until these traitors had ceased to live.

Thus perished, after scarcely three years' political life, and by the
hands of his former friends, a man of rare capacity and energy, who at
the outset had formed none but patriotic designs, and had, no doubt,
promised himself a better fate. When, in December, 1355, at the summons
of a deplorably incapable and feeble king, Marcel, a simple burgher of
Paris and quite a new man, entered the assembly of the states-general of
France, itself quite a new power, he was justly struck with the vices and
abuses of the kingly government, with the evils and the dangers being
entailed thereby upon France, and with the necessity for applying some
remedy. But, notwithstanding this perfectly honest and sound conviction,
he fell into a capital error; he tried to abolish, for a time at least,
the government he desired to reform, and to substitute for the kingship
and its agents the people and their elect. For more than three centuries
the kingship had been the form of power which had naturally assumed shape
and development in France, whilst seconding the natural labor attending
the formation and development of the French nation; but this labor had as
yet advanced but a little way, and the nascent nation was not in a
condition to take up position at the head of its government. Stephen
Marcel attempted by means of the states-general of the fourteenth century
to bring to pass what we in the nineteenth, and after all the advances of
the French nation, have not yet succeeded in getting accomplished, to
wit, the government of the country by the country itself. Marcel, going
from excess to excess and from reverse to reverse in the pursuit of his
impracticable enterprise, found himself before long engaged in a fierce
struggle with the feudal aristocracy, still so powerful at that time, as
well as with the kingship. Being reduced to depend entirely during this
struggle upon such strength as could be supplied by a municipal democracy
incoherent, inexperienced, and full of divisions in its own ranks, and by
a mad insurrection in the country districts, he rapidly fell into the
selfish and criminal condition of the man whose special concern is his
own personal safety. This he sought to secure by an unworthy alliance
with the most scoundrelly amongst his ambitious contemporaries, and he
would have given up his own city as well as France to the King of Navarre
and the English had not another burgher of Paris, John Maillart, stopped
him, and put him to death at the very moment when the patriot of the
states-general of 1355 was about to become a traitor to his country.
Hardly thirteen years before, when Stephen Marcel was already a
full-grown man, the great Flemish burgher, James Van Artevelde, had,
in the cause of his country's liberties, attempted a similar enterprise,
and, after a series of great deeds at the outset and then of faults also
similar to those of Marcel, had fallen into the same abyss, and had
perished by the hand of his fellow-citizens, at the very moment when he
was laboring to put Flanders, his native country, into the hands of a
foreign master, the Prince of Wales, son of Edward III., King of England.
Of all political snares the democratic is the most tempting, but it is
also the most demoralizing and the most deceptive when, instead of
consulting the interests of the democracy by securing public liberties, a
man aspires to put it in direct possession of the supreme power, and with
its sole support to take upon himself the direction of the helm.

One single result of importance was won for France by the states-general
of the fourteenth century, namely, the principle of the nation's right to
intervene in their own affairs, and to set their government straight when
it had gone wrong or was incapable of performing that duty itself. Up to
that time, in the thirteenth century and at the opening of the
fourteenth, the states-general had been hardly anything more than a
temporary expedient employed by the kingship itself to solve some special
question, or to escape from some grave embarrassment. Starting from King
John, the states-general became one of the principles of national right;
a principle which did not disappear even when it remained without
application, and the prestige of which survived even its reverses. Faith
and hope fill a prominent place in the lives of peoples as well as of
individuals; having sprung into real existence in 1355, the
states-general of France found themselves alive again in 1789; and we may
hope that, after so long a trial, their rebuffs and their mistakes will
not be more fatal to them in our day.


So soon as Marcel and three of his chief confidants had been put to death
at the St. Anthony gate, at the very moment when they were about to open
it to the English, John Maillart had information sent to the regent, at
that time at Charenton, with an urgent entreaty that he would come back
to Paris without delay. "The news, at once spread abroad through the
city, was received with noisy joy there, and the red caps, which had been
worn so proudly the night before, were everywhere taken off and hidden.
The next morning a proclamation ordered that whosoever knew any of the
faction of Marcel should arrest them and take them to the Chatelet, but
without laying hands on their goods and without maltreating their wives
or children. Several were taken, put to the question, brought out into
the public square, and beheaded by virtue of a decree. They were the men
who but lately had the government of the city and decided all matters.
Some were burgesses of renown, eloquent and learned, and one of them, on
arriving at the square, cried out, 'Woe is me! Would to Heaven, O King
of Navarre, that I had never seen thee or heard thee!'" On the 2d of
August, 1358, in the evening, the dauphin, Charles, re-entered Paris, and
was accompanied by John Maillart, who "was mightily in his grace and
love." On his way a man cried out, "By God, sir, if I had been listened
to, you would never have entered in here; but, after all, you will get
but little by it." The Count of Tancarville, who was in the prince's
train, drew his sword, and "spurred his horse upon this rascal;" but the
dauphin restrained him, and contented himself with saying smilingly to
the man, "You will not be listened to, fair sir." Charles had the spirit
of coolness and discretion; and "he thought," says his contemporary,
Christine de Pisan, "that if this fellow had been slain, the city which
had been so rebellious might probably have been excited thereby."
Charles, on being resettled in Paris, showed neither clemency nor
cruelty. He let the reaction against Stephen Marcel run its course, and
turned it to account without further exciting it or prolonging it beyond
measure. The property of some of the condemned was confiscated; some
attempts at a conspiracy for the purpose of avenging the provost of
trades-men were repressed with severity, and John Maillart and his family
were loaded with gifts and favors. On becoming king, Charles determined
himself to hold his son at the baptismal font; but Robert Lecocq, Bishop
of Laon, the most intimate of Marcel's accomplices, returned quietly to
his diocese; two of Marcel's brothers, William and John, owing their
protection, it is said, to certain youthful reminiscences on the prince's
part, were exempted from all prosecution; Marcels widow even recovered a
portion of his property; and as early as the 10th of August, 1358,
Charles published an amnesty, from which he excepted only "those who had
been in the secret council of the provost of tradesmen in respect of the
great treason;" and on the same day another amnesty quashed all
proceedings for deeds done during the Jacquery, "whether by nobles or
ignobles." Charles knew that in acts of rigor or of grace impartiality
conduces to the strength and the reputation of authority.

The death of Stephen Marcel and the ruin of his party were fatal to the
plots and ambitious hopes of the King of Navarre. At the first moment he
hastened to renew his alliance with the King of England, and to
recommence war in Normandy, Picardy, and Champagne against the regent of
France. But several of his local expeditions were unsuccessful; the
temperate and patient policy of the regent rallied round him the
populations aweary of war and anarchy; negotiations were opened between
the two princes; and their agents were laboriously discussing conditions
of peace when Charles of Navarre suddenly interfered in person, saying,
"I would fain talk over matters with the lord duke regent, my brother."
We know that his wife was Joan of France, the dauphin's sister. "Hereat
there was great joy," says the chronicler, "amongst their councillors.
The two princes met, and the King of Navarre with modesty and gentleness
addressed the regent in these terms: 'My lord duke and brother, know that
I do hold you to be my proper and especial lord; though I have for a long
while made war against you and against France, our country, I wish not to
continue or to foment it; I wish henceforth to be a good Frenchman, your
faithful friend and close ally, your defender against the English and
whoever it may be: I pray you to pardon me thoroughly, me and mine, for
all that I have done to you up to this present. I wish for neither the
lands nor the towns which are offered to me or promised to me; if I order
myself well, and you find me faithful in all matters, you shall give me
all that my deserts shall seem to you to justify.' At these words the
regent arose and thanked the king with much sweetness; they, one and the
other, proffered and accepted wine and spices; and all present rejoiced
greatly, rendering thanks to God, who doth blow where He listeth, and
doth accomplish in a moment that which men with their own sole
intelligence have nor wit nor power to do in a long while. The town of
Melun was restored to the lord duke; the navigation of the river once
more became free up stream and down; great was the satisfaction in Paris
and throughout the whole country; and peace being thus made, the two
princes returned both of them home."

The King of Navarre knew how to give an appearance of free will and
sincerity to changes of posture and behavior which seemed to be pressed
upon him by necessity; and we may suppose that the dauphin, all the while
that he was interchanging graceful acts, was too well acquainted by this
time with the other to become his dupe; but, by their apparent
reconciliation, they put an end, for a few brief moments, between
themselves to a position which was burdensome to both.

Whilst these events, from the battle of Poitiers to the death of Stephen
Marcel (from the 19th of September, 1356, to the 1st of August, 1358),
were going on in France, King John was living as a prisoner in the hands
of the English, first at Bordeaux, and afterwards in London, and was much
more concerned about the reception he met with, and the galas he was
present at, than about the affairs of his kingdom. When, after his
defeat, he was conducted to Bordeaux by the Prince of Wales, who was
governor of English Aquitaine, he became the object of the most courteous
attentions, not only on the part of his princely conqueror, but of all
Gascon society, "dames and damsels, old and young, and their fair
attendants, who took pleasure in consoling him by providing him with
diversion." Thus he passed the winter of 1356; and in the spring the
Prince of Wales received from his father, King Edward III., the
instructions and the vessels he had requested for the conveyance of his
prisoner to England. In the month of May, 1357, "he summoned," says
Froissart, "all the highest barons of Gascony, and told them that he had
made up his mind to go to England, whither he would take some of them,
leaving the rest in the country of Bordelais and Gascony, to keep the
land and the frontiers against the French. When the Gaseous heard that
the Prince of Wales would carry away out of their power the King of
France, whom they had helped to take, they were by no means of accord
therewith, and said to the prince, 'Dear sir, we owe you, in all that is
in our power, all honor, obedience, and loyal service; but it is not our
desire that you should thus remove from us the King of France, in respect
of whom we have had great trouble to put him in the place where he is;
for, thank God, he is in a good strong city, and we are strong and men
enough to keep him against the French, if they by force would take him
from you.' The prince answered, 'Dear sirs, I grant it heartily; but my
lord my father wishes to hold and behold him; and with the good service
that you have done my father, and me also, we are well pleased, and it
shall be handsomely requited.' Nevertheless, these words did not suffice
to appease the Gascons, until a means thereto was found by Sir Reginald
de Cobham and Sir John Chandos; for they knew the Gascons to be very
covetous. So they said to the prince, 'Sir, offer them a sum of florins,
and you will see them come down to your demands.' The prince offered
them sixty thousand florins; but they would have nothing to do with them.
At last there was so much haggling that an agreement was made for a
hundred thousand francs, which the prince was to hand over to the barons
of Gascony to share between them. He borrowed the money; and the said
sum was paid and handed over to them before the prince started. When
these matters were done, the prince put to sea with a fine fleet, crammed
with men-at-arms and archers, and put the King of France in a vessel
quite apart, that he might be more at his ease."

"They were at sea eleven days and eleven nights," continues Froissart,
and on the 12th they arrived at Sandwich harbor, where they landed, and
halted two days to refresh themselves and their horses. On the third day
they set out and came to St. Thomas of Canterbury."

"When the news reached the King and Queen of England that the prince
their son had arrived and had brought with him the King of France, they
were greatly rejoiced thereat, and gave orders to the burgesses of London
to get themselves ready in as splendid fashion as was beseeming to
receive the King of France. They of the city of London obeyed the king's
commandment, and arrayed themselves by companies most richly, all the
trades in cloth of different kinds." According to the poet
herald-at-arms of John Chandos, King Edward III. went in person, with his
barons and more than twenty counts, to meet King John, who entered London
"mounted on a tall white steed right well harnessed and accoutred at all
points, and the Prince of Wales, on a little black hackney, at his side."
King John was first of all lodged in London at the Savoy hotel, and
shortly afterwards removed, with all his people, to Windsor; "there,"
says Froissart, "to hawk, hunt, disport himself, and take his pastime
according to his pleasure, and Sir Philip, his son, also; and all the
rest of the other lords, counts, and barons, remained in London, but they
went to see the king when it pleased them, and they were put upon their
honor only." Chandos's poet adds, "Many a dame and many a damsel, right
amiable, gay, and lovely, came to dance there, to sing, and to cause
great galas and jousts, as in the days of King Arthur."

In the midst of his pleasures in England King John sometimes also
occupied himself at Windsor with his business in France, but with no more
wisdom or success than had been his wont during his actual reign.
Towards the end of April, 1359, the dauphin-regent received at Paris the
text of a treaty which the king his father had concluded, in London, with
the King of England. "The cession of the western half of France, from
Calais to Bayonne, and the immediate payment of four million golden
crowns," such was, according to the terms of this treaty, the price of
King John's ransom, says M. Picot, in his work concerning the History of
the States-General, which was crowned in 1869 by the _Academie des
Sciences Morales et Politiques_, and the regent resolved to leave to the
judgment of France the acceptance or refusal of such exorbitant demands.
He summoned a meeting, to be held at Paris on the 19th of May, of
churchmen, nobles, and deputies from the good towns; but "there came but
few deputies, as well because full notice had not by that time been given
of the said summons, as because the roads were blocked by the English and
the Navarrese, who occupied fortresses in all parts whereby it was
possible to get to Paris." The assembly had to be postponed from day to
day. At last, on the 25th of May, the regent repaired to the palace. He
halted on the marble staircase; around him were ranged the three estates;
and a numerous multitude filled the court-yard. In presence of all the
people, William de Dormans, king's advocate in parliament, read the
treaty of peace, which was to divide the kingdom into two parts, so as to
hand over one to the foes of France. The reading of it roused the
indignation of the people. The estates replied that the treaty was not
"tolerable or feasible," and in their patriotic enthusiasm "decreed to
make fair war on the English." But it was not enough to spare the
kingdom the shame of such a treaty; it was necessary to give the regent
the means of concluding a better. On the 2d of June, the nobles
announced to the dauphin that they would serve for a month at their own
expense, and that they would pay besides such imposts as should be
decreed by the good towns. The churchmen also offered to pay them. The
city of Paris undertook to maintain "six hundred swords, three hundred
archers, and a thousand brigands." The good towns offered twelve
thousand men; but they could not keep their promise, the country being
utterly ruined.

When King John heard at Windsor that the treaty, whereby he had hoped to
be set at liberty, had been rejected at Paris, he showed his displeasure
by a single outburst of personal animosity, saying, "Ah! Charles, fair
son, you were counselled by the King of Navarre, who deceives you, and
would deceive sixty such as you!" Edward III., on his side, at once took
measures for recommencing the war; but before engaging in it he had King
John removed from Windsor to Hertford Castle, and thence to Somerton,
where he set a strong guard. Having thus made certain that his prisoner
would not escape from him, he put to sea, and, on the 28th of October,
1359, landed at Calais with a numerous and well-supplied army. Then,
rapidly traversing Northern France, he did not halt till he arrived
before Rheims, which he was in hopes of surprising, and where, it is
said, he purposed to have himself, without delay, crowned King of France.
But he found the place so well provided, and the population so determined
to make a good defence, that he raised the siege and moved on Chalons,
where the same disappointment awaited him. Passing from Champagne to
Burgundy, he then commenced the same course of scouring and ravaging; but
the Burgundians entered into negotiations with him, and by a treaty
concluded on the 10th of March, 1360, and signed by Joan of Auvergne,
Queen of France, second wife of King John, and guardian of the young Duke
of Burgundy, Philip de Rouvre, they obtained, at the cost of two hundred
thousand golden sheep (moutons), an agreement that for three years Edward
and his army "would not go scouring and burning" in Burgundy, as they
were doing in the other parts of France. Such was the powerlessness, or
rather absence, of all national government, that a province made a treaty
all alone, and on its own account, without causing the regent to show any
surprise, or to dream of making any complaint.

As a make-weight, at this same time, another province, Picardy, aided by
many Normans and Flemings, its neighbors, "nobles, burgesses, and
common-folk," was sending to sea an expedition which was going to try,
with God's help, to deliver King John from his prison in England, and
bring him back in triumph to his kingdom." "Thus," says the chronicler,
"they who, God-forsaken or through their own faults, could not defend
themselves on the soil of their fathers, were going abroad to seek their
fortune and their renown, to return home covered with honor and boasting
of divine succor! The Picard expedition landed in England on the 14th of
March, 1360; it did not deliver King John, but it took and gave over to
flames and pillage for two days the town of Winchelsea, after which it
put to sea again, and returned to its hearths." (_The Continuer of
William of Nangis,_ t. ii. p. 298.)

Edward III., weary of thus roaming with his army over France without
obtaining any decisive result, and without even managing to get into his
hands any one "of the good towns which he had promised himself," says
Froissart, "that he would tan and hide in such sort that they would be
glad to come to some accord with him," resolved to direct his efforts
against the capital of the kingdom, where the dauphin kept himself close.
On the 7th of April, 1360, he arrived hard by Montrouge, and his troops
spread themselves over the outskirts of Paris in the form of an investing
or besieging force. But he had to do with a city protected by good
ramparts, and well supplied with provisions, and with a prince cool,
patient, determined, free from any illusion as to his danger or his
strength, and resolved not to risk any of those great battles of which he
had experienced the sad issue. Foreseeing the advance of the English, he
had burned the villages in the neighborhood of Paris, where they might
have fixed their quarters; he did the same with the suburbs of St.
Germain, St. Marcel, and Notre-Dame-des-Champs; he turned a deaf ear to
all King Edward's warlike challenges; and some attempts at an assault on
the part of the English knights, and some sorties on the part of the
French knights, impatient of their inactivity, came to nothing. At the
end of a week Edward, whose "army no longer found aught to eat," withdrew
from Paris by the Chartres road, declaring his purpose of entering the
good country of Beauce, where he would recruit himself all the summer,"
and whence he would return after vintage to resume the siege of Paris,
whilst his lieutenants would ravage all the neighboring provinces. When
he was approaching Chartres, "there burst upon his army," says Froissart,
"a tempest, a storm, an eclipse, a wind, a hail, an upheaval so mighty,
so wondrous, so horrible, that it seemed as if the heaven were all
a-tumble, and the earth were opening to swallow up everything; the stones
fell so thick and so big that they slew men and horses, and there was
none so bold but that they were all dismayed. There were at that time in
the army certain wise men, who said that it was a scourge of God, sent as
a warning, and that God was showing by signs that He would that peace
should be made." Edward had by him certain discreet friends, who added
their admonitions to those of the tempest. His cousin, the Duke of
Lancaster, said to him, "My lord, this war that you are waging in the
kingdom of France is right wondrous, and too costly for you; your men
gain by it, and you lose your time over it to no purpose; you will spend
your life on it, and it is very doubtful whether you will attain your
desire; take the offers made to you now, whilst you can come out with
honor; for, my lord, we may lose more in one day than we have won in
twenty years." The Regent of France, on his side, indirectly made
overtures for peace; the Abbot of Cluny, and the General of the
Dominicans, legates of Pope Innocent VI., warmly seconded them; and
negotiations were opened at the hamlet of Bretigny, close to Chartres.
"The King of England was a hard nut to crack," says Froissart; he yielded
a little, however, and on the 8th of May, 1360, was concluded the treaty
of Bretigny, a peace disastrous indeed, but become necessary. Aquitaine
ceased to be a French fief, and was exalted, in the King of England's
interest, to an independent sovereignty, together with the provinces
attached to Poitou, Saintonge, Aunis, Agenois, Perigord, Limousin,
Quercy, Bigorre, Angoumois, and Rouergue. The King of England, on his
side, gave up completely to the King of France Normandy, Maine, and the
portion of Touraine and Anjou situated to the north of the Loire. He
engaged, further, to solemnly renounce all pretensions to the crown of
France so soon as King John had renounced all rights of suzerainty over
Aquitaine. King John's ransom was fixed at three millions of golden
crowns, payable in six years, and John Galeas Visconti, Duke of Milan,
paid the first instalment of it (six hundred thousand florins) as the
price of his marriage with Isabel of France, daughter of King John. Hard
as these conditions were, the peace was joyfully welcomed in Paris, and
throughout Northern France; the bells of the country churches, as well as
of Notre-Dame in Paris, songs and dances amongst the people, and liberty
of locomotion and of residence secured to the English in all places, "so
that none should disquiet them or insult them," bore witness to the
general satisfaction. But some of the provinces ceded to the King of
England had great difficulty in resigning themselves to it. "In Poitou,
and in all the district of Saintonge," says Froissart, "great was the
displeasure of barons, knights, and good towns when they had to be
English. The town of La Rochelle was especially unwilling to agree
thereto; it is wonderful what sweet and piteous words they wrote, again
and again, to the King of France, begging him, for God's sake, to be
pleased not to separate them from his own domains, or place them in
foreign hands, and saying that they would rather be clipped every year of
half their revenue than pass into the hands of the English. And when
they saw that neither excuses, nor remonstrances, nor prayers were of any
avail, they obeyed , but the men of most mark in the town said, 'We will
recognize the English with the lips, but the heart shall beat to it
never.'" Thus began to grow in substance and spirit, in the midst of war
and out of disaster itself [_per damna, per caedes ab ipso Duxit opes
animumque ferro_], that national patriotism which had hitherto been such
a stranger to feudal France, and which was so necessary for her progress
towards unity--the sole condition for her of strength, security, and
grandeur, in the state characteristic of the European world since the
settlement of the Franks in Gaul.

Having concluded the treaty of Bretigny, the King of England returned on
the 18th of May, 1360, to London; and, on the 8th of July following, King
John, having been set at liberty, was brought over by the Prince of Wales
to Calais, where Edward III. came to meet him. The two kings treated one
another there with great courtesy. "The King of England," says
Froissart, "gave the King of France at Calais Castle a magnificent
supper, at which his own children, and the Duke of Lancaster, and the
greatest barons of England, waited at table, bareheaded." Meanwhile the
Prince-Regent of France was arriving at Amiens, and there receiving from
his brother-in-law, Galdas Visconti, Duke of Milan, the sum necessary to
pay the first instalment of his royal father's ransom. Payment having
been made, the two kings solemnly ratified at Calais the treaty of
Britigny. Two sons of King John, the Duke of Anjou and the Duke of
Berry, with several other personages of consideration, princes of the
blood, barons, and burgesses of the principal good towns, were given as
hostages to the King of England for the due execution of the treaty; and
Edward III. negotiated between the King of France and Charles the Bad,
King of Navarre, a reconciliation precarious as ever. The work of
pacification having been thus accomplished, King John departed on foot
for Boulogne, where he was awaited by the dauphin, his son, and where the
Prince of Wales and his two brothers, like-wise on foot, came and joined
him. All these princes passed two days together at Boulogne in religious
ceremonies and joyous galas; after which the Prince of Wales returned to
Calais, and King John set out for Paris, which he once more entered,
December 13, 1360. "He was welcomed there," says Froissart, "by all
manner of folk, for he had been much desired there. Rich presents were
made him; the prelates and barons of his kingdom came to visit him; they
feasted him and rejoiced with him, as it was seemly to do; and the king
received them sweetly and handsomely, for well he knew how."

And that was all King John did know. When he was once more seated on his
throne, the counsels of his eldest son, the late regent, induced him to
take some wise and wholesome administrative measures. All adulteration
of the coinage was stopped; the Jews were recalled for twenty years, and
some securities were accorded to their industry and interests; and an
edict renewed the prohibition of private wars. But in his personal
actions, in his bearing and practices as a king, the levity, frivolity,
thoughtlessness, and inconsistency of King John were the same as ever.
He went about his kingdom, especially in Southern France, seeking
everywhere occasions for holiday-making and disbursing, rather than for
observing and reforming the state of the country. During the visit he
paid in 1362 to the new pope, Urban V., at Avignon, he tried to get
married to Queen Joan of Naples, the widow of two husbands already, and,
not being successful, he was on the point of involving himself in a new
crusade against the Turks. It was on his return from this trip that he
committed the gravest fault of his reign, a fault which was destined to
bring upon France and the French kingship even more evils and disasters
than those which had made the treaty of Bretigny a necessity. In 1362,
the young Duke of Burgundy, Philip de Louvre, the last of the first house
of the Dukes of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert, died without issue,
leaving several pretenders to his rich inheritance. King John was,
according to the language of the genealogists, the nearest of blood, and
at the same time the most powerful; and he immediately took possession of
the duchy, went, on the 23d of December, 1362, to Dijon, swore on the
altar of St. Benignus that he would maintain the privileges of the city
and of the province, and, nine months after, on the 6th of September,
1363, disposed of the duchy of Burgundy in the following terms:
"Recalling again to memory the excellent and praise-worthy services of
our right dearly beloved Philip, the fourth of our sons, who freely
exposed himself to death with us, and, all wounded as he was, remained
unwavering and fearless at the battle of Poitiers . . . we do concede
to him and give him the duchy and peerage of Burgundy, together with all
that we may have therein of right, possession, and proprietorship . . .
for the which gift our said son hath done us homage as duke and premier
peer of France." Thus was founded that second house of the Dukes of
Burgundy which was destined to play, for more than a century, so great
and often so fatal a part in the fortunes of France.

Whilst he was thus preparing a gloomy future for his country and his
line, King John heard that his second son, the Duke of Anjou, one of the
hostages left in the hands of the King of England as security for the
execution of the treaty of Bretigny, had broken his word of honor and
escaped from England, in order to go and join his wife at Guise Castle.
Knightly faith was the virtue of King John; and it was, they say, on this
occasion, that he cried, as he was severely upbraiding his son, that "if
good faith were banished from the world, it ought to find an asylum in
the hearts of kings." He announced to his councillors, assembled at
Amiens, his intention of going in person to England. An effort was made
to dissuade him; and "several prelates and barons of France told him that
he was committing great folly when he was minded to again put himself in
danger from the King of England. He answered that he had found in his
brother, the King of England, in the Queen, and in his nephews, their
children, so much loyalty, honor, and courtesy, that he had no doubt but
that they would be courteous, loyal, and amiable to him, in any case.
And so he was minded to go and make the excuses of his son, the Duke of
Anjou, who had returned to France." According to the most intelligent of
the chroniclers of the time, the Continuer of William of Nangis, "some
persons said that the king was minded to go to England in order to amuse
himself;" and they were probably right, for kingly and knightly
amusements were the favorite subject of King John's meditations. This
time he found in England something else besides galas; he before long
fell seriously ill, "which mightily disconcerted the King and Queen of
England, for the wisest in the country judged him to be in great peril."
He died, in fact, on the 8th of April, 1364, at the Savoy Hotel, in
London; "whereat the King of England, the Queen, their children, and many
English barons were much moved," says Froissart, "for the honor of the
great love which the King of France, since peace was made, had shown
them." France was at last about to have in Charles V. a practical and
an effective king.

[Illustration: Charles V.----371]

In spite of the discretion he had displayed during his four years of
regency (from 1356 to 1360), his reign opened under the saddest auspices.
In 1363, one of those contagious diseases, all at that time called the
plague, committed cruel ravages in France. "None," says the contemporary
chronicler, "could count the number of the dead in Paris, young or old,
rich or poor; when death entered a house, the little children died first,
then the menials, then the parents. In the smallest villages, as well as
in Paris, the mortality was such that at Argenteuil, for example, where
there were wont to be numbered seven hundred hearths, there remained no
more than forty or fifty." The ravages of the armed thieves, or bandits,
who scoured the country added to those of the plague. Let it suffice to
quote one instance. "In Beauce, on the Orleans and Chartres side, some
brigands and prowlers, with hostile intent, dressed as pig-dealers or
cow-drivers, came to the little castle of Murs, close to Corbeil, and
finding outside the gate the master of the place, who was a knight, asked
him to get them back their pigs, which his menials, they said, had the
night before taken from them, which was false. The master gave them
leave to go in, that they might discover their pigs and move them away.
As soon as they had crossed the drawbridge they seized upon the master,
threw off their false clothes, drew their weapons, and blew a blast upon
the bagpipe; and forthwith appeared their comrades from their
hiding-places in the neighboring woods. They took possession of the
castle, its master and mistress, and all their folk; and, settling
themselves there, they scoured from thence the whole country, pillaging
everywhere, and filling the castle with the provisions they carried off.
At the rumor of this thievish capture, many men-at-arms in the
neighborhood rushed up to expel the thieves and retake from them the
castle. Not succeeding in their assault, they fell back on Corbeil,
and then themselves set to ravaging the country, taking away from the
farm-houses provisions and wine without paying a dolt, and carrying them
off to Corbeil for their own use. They became before long as much feared
and hated as the brigands; and all the inhabitants of the neighboring
villages, leaving their homes and their labor, took refuge, with their
children and what they had been able to carry off, in Paris, the only
place where they could find a little security." Thus the population was
without any kind of regular force, anything like effectual protection;
the temporary defenders of order themselves went over, and with alacrity
too, to the side of disorder when they did not succeed in repressing it;
and the men-at-arms set readily about plundering, in their turn, the
castles and country-places whence they had been charged to drive off the

Let us add a still more striking example of the absence of all publicly
recognized power at this period, and of the necessity to which the
population was nearly everywhere reduced of defending itself with its own
hands, in order to escape ever so little from the evils of war and
anarchy. It was a little while ago pointed out why and how, after the
death of Marcel and the downfall of his faction, Charles the Bad, King of
Navarre, suddenly determined upon making his peace with the regent of
France. This peace was very displeasing to the English, allies of the
King of Navarre, and they continued to carry on war, ravaging the country
here and there, at one time victorious and at another vanquished in a
multiplication of disconnected encounters. "I will relate," says the
Continuer of William of Nangis, "one of those incidents just as it
occurred in my neighborhood, and as I have been truthfully told about it.
The struggle there was valiantly maintained by peasants, Jacques Bonhomme
(Jack Goodfellows), as they are called. There is a place pretty well
fortified in a little town named Longueil, not far from Compiegne, in the
diocese of Beauvais, and near to the banks of the Oise. This place is
close to the monastery of St. Corneille-de-Compiegne. The inhabitants
perceived that there would be danger if the enemy occupied this point;
and, after having obtained authority from the lord-regent of France and
the abbot of the monastery, they settled themselves there, provided
themselves with arms and provisions, and appointed a captain taken from
among themselves, promising the regent that they would defend this place
to the death. Many of the villagers came thither to place themselves in
security, and they chose for captain a tall, fine man, named William a-
Larks (aux Alouettes). He had for servant, and held as with bit and
bridle, a certain peasant of lofty stature, marvellous bodily strength,
and equal boldness, who had joined to these advantages an extreme
modesty: he was called _Big Ferre_. These folks settled themselves at
this point to the number of about two hundred men, all tillers of the
soil, and getting a poor livelihood by the labor of their hands. The
English, hearing it said that these folks were there and were determined
to resist, held them in contempt, and went to them, saying, 'Drive we
hence these peasants, and take we possession of this point so well
fortified and well supplied.' They went thither to the number of two
hundred. The folks inside had no suspicion thereof, and had left their
gates open. The English entered boldly into the place, whilst the
peasants were in the inner courts or at the windows, a-gape at seeing men
so well armed making their way in. The captain, William a-Larks, came
down at once with some of his people, and bravely began the fight; but he
had the worst of it, was surrounded by the English, and himself stricken
with a mortal wound. At sight hereof, those of his folk who were still
in the courts, with Big Ferre at their head, said one to another, 'Let us
go down and sell our lives clearly, else they will slay us without
mercy.' Gathering themselves discreetly together, they went down by
different gates, and struck out with mighty blows at the English, as if
they had been beating out their corn on the threshing-floor; their arms
went up and down again, and every blow dealt out a deadly wound. Big
Ferre, seeing his captain laid low and almost dead already, uttered a
bitter cry, and advancing upon the English he topped them all, as he did
his own fellows, by a head and shoulders. Raising his axe, he dealt
about him deadly blows, insomuch that in front of him the place was soon
a void; he felled to the earth all those whom he could reach; of one he
broke the head, of another he lopped off the arms; he bore himself so
valiantly that in an hour he had with his own hand slain eighteen of
them, without counting the wounded; and at this sight his comrades were
filled with ardor. What more shall I say? All that band of English were
forced to turn their backs and fly; some jumped into the ditches full of
water; others tried with tottering steps to regain the gates. Big Ferre,
advancing to the spot where the English had planted their flag, took it,
killed the bearer, and told one of his own fellows to go and hurl it into
a ditch where the wall was as not yet finished. 'I cannot,' said the
other, 'there are still so many English yonder.' 'Follow me with the
flag,' said Big Ferre; and marching in front, and laying about him right
and left with his axe, he opened and cleared the way to the point
indicated, so that his comrade could freely hurl the flag into the ditch.
After he had rested a moment, he returned to the fight, and fell so
roughly on the English who remained, that all those who could fly
hastened to profit thereby. It is said that on that day, with the help
of God and Big Ferre, who, with his own hand, as is certified, laid low
more than forty, the greater part of the English who had come to this
business never went back from it. But the captain on our side, William
a-Larks, was there stricken mortally: he was not yet dead when the fight
ended; he was carried away to his bed; he recognized all his comrades who
were there, and soon afterwards sank under his wounds. They buried him
in the midst of weeping, for he was wise and good."

"At the news of what had thus happened at Longueil the English were very
disconsolate, saying that it was a shame that so many and such brave
warriors should have been slain by such rustics. Next day they came
together again from all their camps in the neighborhood, and went and
made a vigorous attack at Longueil on our folks, who no longer feared
them hardly at all, and went out of their walls to fight them. In the
first rank was Big Ferre, of whom the English had heard so much talk.
When they saw him, and when they felt the weight of his axe and his arm,
many of those who had come to this fight would have been right glad not
to be there. Many fled or were grievously wounded or slain. Some of the
English nobles were taken. If our folks had been willing to give them up
for money, as the nobles do, they might have made a great deal; but they
would not.

[Illustration: Big Ferre----376]

When the fight was over, Big Ferre, overcome with heat and fatigue, drank
a large quantity of cold water, and was forthwith seized of a fever. He
put himself to bed without parting from his axe, which was so heavy that
a man of the usual strength could scarcely lift it from the ground with
both hands. The English, hearing that Big Ferre was sick, rejoiced
greatly, and for fear he should get well they sent privily, round about
the place where he was lodged, twelve of their men bidden to try and rid
them of him. On espying them from afar, his wife hurried up to his bed
where he was laid, saying to him, 'My dear Ferre, the English are coming,
and I verily believe it is for thee they are looking; what wilt thou do?'
Big Ferre, forgetting his sickness, armed himself in all haste, took his
axe which had already stricken to death so many foes, went out of his
house, and entering into his little yard, shouted to the English as soon
as he saw them, 'Ah! scoundrels, you are coming to take me in my bed; but
you shall not get me.' He set himself against a wall to be in surety
from behind, and defended himself manfully with his good axe and his
great heart. The English assailed him, burning to slay or to take him;
but he resisted them so wondrously, that he brought down five much
wounded to the ground, and the other seven took to flight. Big Ferre,
returning in triumph to his bed, and heated again by the blows he had
dealt, again drank cold water in abundance, and fell sick of a more
violent fever. A few days afterwards, sinking under his sickness, and
after having received the holy sacraments, Big Ferre went out of this
world, and was buried in the burial-place of his own village. All his
comrades and his country wept for him bitterly, for, so long as he lived,
the English would not have come nigh this place."

There is probably some exaggeration about the exploits of Big Ferre and
the number of his victims. The story just quoted is not, however, a
legend; authentic and simple, it has all the characteristics of a real
and true fact, just as it was picked up, partly from eye-witnesses and
partly from hearsay, by the contemporary narrator. It is a faithful
picture of the internal state of the French nation in the fourteenth
century; a nation in labor of formation, a nation whose elements, as yet
scattered and incohesive, though under one and the same name, were
fermenting each in its own quarter and independently of the rest, with a
tendency to mutual coalescence in a powerful unity, but, as yet, far from
succeeding in it.

Externally, King Charles V. had scarcely easier work before him. Between
himself and his great rival, Edward III., King of England, there was only
such a peace as was fatal and hateful to France. To escape some day from
the treaty of Bretigny, and recover some of the provinces which had been
lost by it--this was what king and country secretly desired and labored
for. Pending a favorable opportunity for promoting this higher interest,
war went on in Brittany between John of Montfort and Charles of Blois,
who continued to be encouraged and patronized, covertly, one by the King
of England, the other by the King of France. Almost immediately after
the accession of Charles V. it broke out again between him and his
brother-in-law, Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, the former being
profoundly mistrustful, and the latter brazen-facedly perfidious, and
both detesting one another, and watching to seize the moment for taking
advantage one of the other. The states bordering on France, amongst
others Spain and Italy, were a prey to discord and even civil wars, which
could not fail to be a source of trouble or serious embarrassment to
France. In Spain two brothers, Peter the Cruel and Henry of Transtamare,
were disputing the throne of Castile. Shortly after the accession of
Charles V., and in spite of his lively remonstrances, in 1267, Pope Urban
V. quitted Avignon for Rome, whence he was not to return to Avignon till
three years afterwards, and then only to die. The Emperor of Germany
was, at this period, almost the only one of the great sovereigns of
Europe who showed for France and her kings a sincere good will. When, in
1378, he went to Paris to pay a visit to Charles V., he was pleased to go
to St. Denis to see the tombs of Charles the Handsome and Philip of
Valois. "In my young days," he said to the abbot, "I was nurtured at the
homes of those good kings, who showed me much kindness; I do request you
affectionately to make good prayer to God for them." Charles V., who had
given him a very friendly reception, was, no doubt, included in this
pious request.

In order to maintain the struggle against these difficulties, within and
without, the means which Charles V. had at his disposal were of but
moderate worth. He had three brothers and three sisters calculated
rather to embarrass and sometimes even injure him than to be of any
service to him. Of his brothers, the eldest, Louis, Duke of Anjou, was
restless, harsh, and bellicose. He upheld authority with no little
energy in Languedoc, of which Charles had made him governor, but at the
same time made it detested; and he was more taken up with his own
ambitious views upon the kingdom of Naples, which Queen Joan of Hungary
had transmitted to him by adoption, than with the interests of France and
her king. The second, John, Duke of Berry, was an insignificant prince,
who has left no strong mark on history. The third, Philip the Bold, Duke
of Burgundy, after having been the favorite of his father, King John, was
likewise of his brother Charles V., who did not hesitate to still farther
aggrandize this vassal, already so great, by obtaining for him in
marriage the hand of Princess Marguerite, heiress to the countship of
Flanders; and this marriage, which was destined at a later period to
render the Dukes of Burgundy such formidable neighbors for the Kings of
France, was even in the lifetime of Charles V. a cause of unpleasant
complications both for France and Burgundy. Of King Charles's three
sisters, the eldest, Joan, was married to the King of Navarre, Charles
the Bad, and much more devoted to her husband than to her brother; the
second, Mary, espoused Robert, Duke of Bar, who caused more annoyance
than he rendered service to his brother-in-law, the king of France; and
the third, Isabel, wife of Galas Visconti, Duke of Milan, was of no use
to her brother beyond the fact of contributing, as we have seen, by her
marriage, to pay a part of King John's ransom. Charles V., by kindly and
judicious behavior in the bosom of his family, was able to keep serious
quarrels or embarrassments from arising thence; but he found therein
neither real strength nor sure support.

His civil councillors, his chancellor, William de Dormans,
cardinal-bishop of Beauvais, his minister of finance, John de la Grange,
cardinal-bishop of Amiens; his treasurer, Philip de Savoisy; and his
chamberlain and private secretary, Bureau de la Riviere, were,
undoubtedly, men full of ability and zeal for his service, for he had
picked them out and maintained them unchangeably in their offices. There
is reason to believe that they conducted themselves discreetly, for we do
not observe that after their master's death there was any outburst
against them, on the part either of court or people, of that violent and
deadly hatred which has so often caused bloodshed in the history of
France. Bureau de la Riviere was attacked and prosecuted, without,
however, becoming one of the victims of judicial authority at the command
of political passions. None of Charles V.'s councillors exercised over
his master that preponderating and confirmed influence which makes a man
a premier minister. Charles V. himself assumed the direction of his own
government, exhibiting unwearied vigilance, "but without hastiness and
without noise." There is a work, as yet unpublished, of M. Leopold
Delisle, which is to contain a complete explanatory catalogue of all the
_Mandements et Actes divers de Charles V_. This catalogue, which forms a
pendant to a similar work performed by M. Delisle for the reign of Philip
Augustus, is not yet concluded; and, nevertheless, for the first seven
years only of Charles V.'s reign, from 1364 to 1371, there are to be
found enumerated and described in it eight hundred and fifty-four
_mandements, ordonnances et actes divers de Charles V._, relating to the
different branches of administration, and to daily incidents of
government; acts all bearing the impress of an intellect active,
farsighted, and bent upon becoming acquainted with everything, and
regulating everything, not according to a general system, but from actual
and exact knowledge. Charles always proved himself reflective,
unhurried, and anxious solely to comport himself in accordance with the
public interests and with good sense. He was one day at table in his
room with some of his intimates, when news was brought him that the
English had laid siege, in Guienne, to a place where there was only a
small garrison, not in a condition to hold out unless it were promptly
succored. "The king," says Christine de Pisan, "showed no great outward
emotion, and quite coolly, as if the topic of conversation were something
else, turned and looked about him, and, seeing one of his secretaries,
summoned him courteously, and bade him, in a whisper, write word to Louis
de Sancerre, his marshal, to come to him directly. They who were there
were amazed that, though the matter was so weighty, the king took no
great account of it. Some young esquires who were waiting upon him at
table were bold enough to say to him,

'Sir, give us the money to fit ourselves out, as many of us are of your
household, for to go on this business; we will be new-made knights, and
will go and raise the siege.' The king began to smile, and said, 'It is
not new-made knights that are suitable; they must be all old.' Seeing
that he said no more about it, some of them added, 'What are your orders,
sir, touching this affair, which is of haste?' 'It is not well to give
orders in haste; when we see those to whom it is meet to speak, we will
give our orders.'"

On another occasion, the treasurer of Nimes had died, and the king
appointed his successor. His brother, the Duke of Anjou, came and asked
for the place on behalf of one of his own intimates, saying that he to
whom the king had granted it was a man of straw, and without credit.
Charles caused inquiries to be made, and then said to the duke, "Truly,
fair brother, he for whom you have spoken to me is a rich man, but one of
little sense and bad behavior." "Assuredly," said the Duke of Anjou, "he
to whom you have given the office is a man of straw, and incompetent to
fill it." "Why, prithee?" asked the king. "Because he is a poor man,
the son of small laboring folks, who are still tillers of the ground in
our country." "Ah!" said Charles; "is there nothing more? Assuredly,
fair brother, we should prize more highly the poor man of wisdom than the
profligate ass;" and he maintained in the office him whom he had put

The government of Charles V. was the personal government of an
intelligent, prudent, and honorable king, anxious for the interests of
the state, at home and abroad, as well as for his own; with little
inclination for, and little confidence in, the free co-operation of the
country in its own affairs, but with wit enough to cheerfully call upon
it when there was any pressing necessity, and accepting it then without
chicanery or cheating, but safe to go back as soon as possible to that
sole dominion, a medley of patriotism and selfishness, which is the very
insufficient and very precarious resource of peoples as yet incapable of
applying their liberty to the art of their own government. Charles V.
had recourse three times, in July, 1367, and in May and December, 1369,
to a convocation of the states-general, in order to be put in a position
to meet the political and financial difficulties of France. At the
second of these assemblies, when the chancellor, William de Dormans, had
explained the position of the kingdom, the king himself rose up "for to
say to all that if they considered that he had done anything he ought not
to have done, they should tell him so, and he would amend what he had
done, for there was still time to repair it, if he had done too much or
not enough." The question at that time was as to entertaining the appeal
of the barons of Aquitaine to the King of France as suzerain of the
Prince of Wales, whose government had become intolerable, and to thus
make a first move to struggle out of the humiliating pace of Bretigny.
Such a step, and such words, do great honor to the memory of the pacific
prince who was at that time bearing the burden of the government of
France. It was Charles V.'s good fortune to find amongst his servants
a man who was destined to be the thunderbolt of war and the glory of
knighthood of his reign. About 1314, fifty years before Charles's
accession, there was born at the castle of Motte-Broon, near Rennes, in a
family which could reckon two ancestors amongst Godfrey de Bouillon's
comrades in the first crusade, Bertrand du Guesclin, "the ugliest child
from Rennes to Dinan," says a contemporary chronicle, flat-nosed and
swarthy, thick-set, broad-shouldered, big-headed, a bad fellow, a regular
wretch, according to his own mother's words, given to violence, always
striking or being struck, whom his tutor abandoned without having been
able to teach him to read. At sixteen years of age, he escaped from the
paternal mansion, went to Rennes, entered upon a course of adventures,
quarrels, challenges, and tourneys, in which he distinguished himself by
his strength, his valor, and likewise his sense of honor. He joined the
cause of Charles of Blois against John of Montfort, when the two were
claimants for the duchy of Brittany; but at the end of thirty years,
"neither the good of him, nor his prowess, were as yet greatly renowned,"
says Froissart, "save amongst the knights who were about him in the
country of Brittany." But Charles V., at that time regent, had taken
notice of him in 1359, at the siege of Melun, where Du Guesclin had for
the first time borne arms in the service of France. When, in 1364,
Charles became king, he said to Boucicaut, marshal of France, "Boucicaut,
get you hence, with such men as you have, and ride towards Normandy; you
will there find Sir Bertrand du Guesclin , hold yourselves in readiness,
I pray you, you and he, to recover from the King of Navarre the town of
Mantes, which would make us masters of the River Seine." "Right
willingly, sir," answered Boucicaut; and a few weeks afterwards, on the
7th of April, 1364, Boucicaut, by stratagem, entered Mantes with his
troop, and Du Guesclin, coming up suddenly with his, dashed into the town
at a gallop, shouting, "St. Yves! Guesclin! death, death to all
Navarrese!" The two warriors did the same next day at the gates of
Meulan, three leagues from Mantes. "Thus were the two cities taken,
whereat King Charles V. was very joyous when he heard the news; and the
King of Navarre was very wroth, for he set down as great hurt the loss of
Mantes and of Meulan, which made a mighty fine entrance for him into

It was at Rheims, during the ceremony of his coronation, that Charles V.
heard of his two officers' success. The war thus begun against the King
of Navarre was hotly prosecuted on both sides. Charles the Bad hastily
collected his forces, Gascons, Normans, and English, and put them under
the command of John de Grailli, called the Captal of Buch, an officer of
renown. Du Guesclin recruited in Normandy, Picardy, and Brittany, and
amongst the bands of warriors which were now roaming all over France.
The plan of the Captal of Buch was to go and disturb the festivities at
Rheims, but at Cockerel, on the banks of the Eure, two leagues from
Evreux, he met the troops of Du Guesclin; and the two armies, pretty
nearly equal in number, halted in view of one another. Du Guesclin held
counsel, and said to his comrades in arms, "Sirs, we know that in front
of us we have in the Captal as gallant a knight as can be found to-day on
all the earth; so long as he shall be on the spot he will do us great
hurt; set we then a-horseback thirty of ours, the most skilful and the
boldest; they shall give heed to nothing but to make straight towards the
Captal, break through the press, and get right up to him; then they shall
take him, pin him, carry him off amongst them, and lead him away some
whither in safety, without waiting for the end of the battle. If he can
be taken and kept in such way, the day will be ours, so astounded will
his men be at his capture." Battle ensued at all points [May 16, 1364];
and, whilst it led to various encounters, with various results, "the
picked thirty, well mounted on the flower of steeds," says Froissart,
"and with no thought but for their enterprise, came all compact together
to where was the Captal, who was fighting right valiantly with his axe,
and was dealing blows so mighty that none durst come nigh him; but the
thirty broke through the press by dint of their horses, made right up to
him, halted hard by him, took him and shut him in amongst them by force;
then they voided the place, and bare him away in that state, whilst his
men, who were like to mad, shouted, 'A rescue for the Captal! a rescue!'
but nought could avail them, or help them; and the Captal was carried off
and placed in safety. In this bustle and turmoil, whilst the Navarrese
and English were trying to follow the track of the Captal, whom they saw
being taken off before their eyes, some French agreed with hearty good
will to bear down on the Captal's banner, which was in a thicket, and
whereof the Navarrese made their own standard. Thereupon there was a
great tumult and hard fighting there, for the banner was well guarded,
and by good men; but at last it was seized, won, torn, and cast to the
ground. The French were masters of the battle-field; Sir Bertrand and
his Bretons acquitted themselves loyally, and ever kept themselves well
together, giving aid one to another; but it cost them dear in men."

Charles was highly delighted, and, after the victory, resolutely
discharged his kingly part, rewarding, and also punishing. Du Guesclin
was made marshal of Normandy, and received as a gift the countship of
Longueville, confiscated from the King of Navarre. Certain Frenchmen who
had become confidants of the King of Navarre were executed, and Charles
V. ordered his generals to no longer show any mercy for the future to
subjects of the kingdom who were found in the enemy's ranks. The war
against Charles the Bad continued. Charles V., encouraged by his
successes, determined to take part likewise in that which was still going
on between the two claimants to the duchy of Brittany, Charles of Blois
and John of Montfort. Du Guesclin was sent to support Charles of Blois;
"whereat he was greatly rejoiced," says Froissart, "for he had always
held the said lord Charles for his rightful lord." The Count and
Countess of Blois "received him right joyously and pleasantly, and the
best part of the barons of Brittany likewise had lord Charles of Blois in
regard and affection." Du Guesclin entered at once on the campaign, and
marched upon Auray, which was being besieged by the Count of Montfort.
But there he was destined to encounter the most formidable of his
adversaries. John of Montfort had claimed the support of his patron, the
king of England, and John Chandos, the most famous of the English
commanders, had applied to the Prince of Wales to know what he was to do.
"You may go full well," the prince had answered, "since the French are
going for the Count of Blois; I give you good leave." Chandos,
delighted, set hastily to work recruiting. Only a few Aquitanians
decided to join him, for they were beginning to be disgusted with English
rule, and the French national spirit was developing itself throughout
Gascony, even in the Prince of Wales's immediate circle. Chandos
recruited scarcely any but English or Bretons, and when, to the great joy
of the Count of Montfort, he arrived before Auray, "he brought," says
Froissart, "full sixteen hundred fighting men, knights, and squires,
English and Breton, and about eight or nine hundred archers." Du
Guesclin's troops were pretty nearly equal in number, and not less brave,
but less well disciplined, and probably also less ably commanded. The
battle took place on the 29th of September, 1364, before Auray. The
attendant circumstances and the result have already been recounted in the
twentieth chapter of this history; Charles of Blois was killed, and Du
Guesclin was made prisoner. The cause of John of Montfort was clearly
won; and he, on taking possession of the duchy of Brittany, asked nothing
better than to acknowledge himself vassal of the King of France, and
swear fidelity to him. Charles V. had too much judgment not to foresee
that, even after a defeat, a peace which gave a lawful and definite
solution to the question of Brittany, rendered his relations and means of
influence with this important province much more to be depended upon than
any success which a prolonged war might promise him. Accordingly he made
peace at Guerande, on the 11th of April, 1365, after having disputed the
conditions inch by inch; and some weeks previously, on the 6th of March,
at the indirect instance of the King of Navarre, who, since the battle of
Gocherel, had felt himself in peril, Charles V. had likewise put an end
to his open struggle against his perfidious neighbor, of whom he
certainly did not cease to be mistrustful. Being thus delivered from
every external war and declared enemy, the wise King of France was at
liberty to devote himself to the re-establishment of internal peace and
of order throughout his kingdom, which was in the most pressing need

We have, no doubt, even in our own day, cruel experience of the disorders
and evils of war; but we can form, one would say, but a very incomplete
idea of what they were in the fourteenth century, without any of those
humane administrative measures, still so ineffectual,--provisionings,
hospitals, ambulances, barracks, and encampments,--which are taken in the
present day to prevent or repair them. The _Recueil des Ordonnances des
Lois de France_ is full of safeguards granted by Charles V. to
monasteries and hospices and communes, which implored his protection,
that they might have a little less to suffer than the country in general.
We will borrow from the best informed and the most intelligent of the
contemporary chroniclers, the Continuer of William of Nangis, a picture
of those sufferings and the causes of them. "There was not," he says,
"in Anjou, in Touraine, in Beauce, near Orleans and up to the approaches
of Paris, any corner of the country which was free from plunderers and
robbers. They were so numerous everywhere, either in little forts
occupied by them or in the villages and country-places, that peasants and
tradesfolks could not travel but at great expense and great peril. The
very guards told off to defend cultivators and travellers took part most
shamefully in harassing and despoiling them. It was the same in Burgundy
and the neighboring countries. Some knights who called themselves
friends of the king and of the king's majesty, and whose names I am not
minded to set down here, kept in their service brigands who were quite as
bad. What is far more strange is, that when those folks went into the

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