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

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cities, Paris or elsewhere, everybody knew them and pointed them out, but
none durst lay a hand upon them. I saw one night at Paris, in the suburb
of St. Germain des Pres, while the people were sleeping, some brigands
who were abiding with their chieftains in the city, attempting to sack
certain hospices: they were arrested and imprisoned in the Chatelet; but,
before long, they were got off, declared innocent, and set at liberty
without undergoing the least punishment--a great encouragement for them
and their like to go still farther. . . . When the king gave Bertrand
du Guesclin the countship of Longueville, in the diocese of Rouen, which
had belonged to Philip, brother of the King of Navarre, Du Guesclin
promised the king that he would drive out by force of arms all the
plunderers and robbers, those enemies of the kingdom; but he did nothing
of the sort; nay, the Bretons even of Du Guesclin, on returning from
Rouen, pillaged and stole in the villages whatever they found there--
garments, horses, sheep, oxen, and beasts of burden and of tillage."

Charles V. was not, as Louis XII. and Henry IV. were, of a disposition
full of affection, and sympathetically inclined towards his people; but
he was a practical man, who, in his closet and in the library growing up
about him, took thought for the interests of his kingdom as well as for
his own; he had at heart the public good, and lawlessness was an
abomination to him. He had just purchased, at a ransom of a hundred
thousand francs, the liberty of Bertrand du Guesclin, who had remained a
prisoner in the hands of John Chandos, after the battle of Auray. An
idea occurred to him that the valiant Breton might be of use to him in
extricating France from the deplorable condition to which she had been
reduced by the bands of plunderers roaming everywhere over her soil. We
find in the Chronicle in verse of Bertrand Guesclin, by Cuvelier, a
troubadour of the fourteenth century, a detailed account of the king's
perplexities on this subject, and of the measures he took to apply a
remedy. We cannot regard this account as strictly historical; but it is
a picture, vivid and morally true, of events and men as they were
understood and conceived to be by a contemporary, a mediocre poet, but a
spirited narrator. We will reproduce the principal features, modifying
the language to make it more easily intelligible, but without altering
the fundamental character.

"There were so many folk who went about pillaging the country of France
that the king was sad and doleful at heart. He summoned his council, and
said to them, 'What shall we do with this multitude of thieves who go
about destroying our people? If I send against them my valiant baronage
I lose my noble barons, and then I shall never more have any joy of my
life. If any could lead these folk into Spain against the miscreant and
tyrant Pedro, who put our sister to death, I would like it well, whatever
it might cost me.'

[Illustration: Bertrand du Guesclin----388]

"Bertrand du Guesclin gave ear to the king, and 'Sir King,' said he, 'it
is my heart's desire to cross over the seas and go fight the heathen with
the edge of the sword; but if I could come nigh this folk which Both
anger you, I would deliver the kingdom from them.' 'I should like it
well,' said the king. 'Say no more,' said Bertrand to him; 'I will learn
their pleasure; give it no further thought.'

"Bertrand du Guesclin summoned his herald, and said to him, 'Go thou to
the Grand Company and have all the captains assembled; thou wilt go and
demand for me a safe-conduct, for I have a great desire to parley with
them.' The herald mounted his horse, and went a-seeking these folk
toward Chalon-sur-la-Saone. They were seated together at dinner, and
were drinking good wine from the cask they had pierced. 'Sirs,' said the
herald, 'the blessing of Jesus be on you! Bertrand du Guesclin prayeth
you to let him parley with all in company.' ' By my faith, gentle
herald,' said Hugh de Calverley, who was master of the English, 'I will
readily see Bertrand here, and will give him good wine; I can well give
it him, in sooth, I do assure you, for it costs me nothing.' Then the
herald departed, and returned to his lord, and told the news of this

"So away rode Bertrand, and halted not; and he rode so far that he came
to the Grand Company, and then did greet them. 'God keep,' said he, 'the
companions I see yonder!' Then they bowed down; each abased himself. 'I
vow to God,' said Bertrand, 'whosoever will be pleased to believe me; I
will make you all rich.' And they answered, 'Right welcome here sir, we
will all do whatsoever is your pleasure.' 'Sirs,' said Bertrand, 'be
pleased to listen to me; wherefore I am come I will tell unto you. I
come by order of the king in whose keeping is France, and who would be
right glad, to save his people, that ye should come with me whither I
should be glad to go into good company I fain would bring ye. If we
would all of us look into our hearts, we might full truly consider that
we have done enough to damn our souls; think we but how we have dealt
with life, outraged ladies and burned houses, slain men, children, and
everybody set to ransom, how we have eaten up cows, oxen, and sheep,
drunk good wines, and done worse than robbers do. Let us do honor to God
and forsake the devil. Ask, if it may please you, all the companions,
all the knights, and all the barons; if you be of accord, we will go to
the king, and I will have the gold got ready which we do promise you I
would fain get together all my friends to make the journey we so strongly

Du Guesclin then explained, in broad terms which left the choice to the
Grand Company, what this journey was which was so much desired. He spoke
of the King of Cyprus, of the Saracens of Granada, of the Pope of
Avignon, and especially of Spain and the King of Castile, Pedro the
Cruel, "scoundrel-murderer of his wife (Blanche of Bourbon)," on whom,
above all, Du Gueselin wished to draw down the wrath of his hearers. "In
Spain," he said to them, we might largely profit, for the country is a
good one for leading a good life, and there are good wines which are neat
and clear." Nearly all present, whereof were twenty-five famous
captains, "confirmed what was said by Bertrand." "Sirs," said he to them
at last, "listen to me: I will go my way and speak to the King of the
Franks; I will get for you those two hundred thousand francs; you shall
come and dine with me at Paris, according to my desire, when the time
shall have come for it; and you shall see the king, who will be rejoiced
thereat. We will have no evil suspicion in anything, for I never was
inclined to treason, and never shall be as long as I live." Then said
the valiant knights and esquires to him, "Never was more valiant man seen
on earth; and in you we have more belief and faith than in all the
prelates and great clerics who dwell at Avignon or in France."

When Du Gueselin returned to Paris, "Sir," said he to the king, "I have
accomplished your wish; I will put out of your kingdom all the worst folk
of this Grand Company, and I will so work it that everything shall be
saved." "Bertrand," said the king to him, "may the Holy Trinity be
pleased to have you in their keeping, and may I see you a long while in
joy and health!" "Noble king," said Bertrand, "the captains have a very
great desire to come to Paris, your good city." "I am heartily willing,"
said the king; "if they come, let them assemble at the Temple; elsewhere
there is too much people and too much abundance; there might be too much
alarm. Since they have reconciled themselves to us, I would have nought
but friendship with them."

The poet concludes the negotiation thus: "At the bidding of Bertrand,
when he understood the pleasure of the noble King of France, all the
captains came to Paris in perfect safety; they were conducted straight to
the Temple; there they were feasted and dined nobly, and received many a
gift, and all was sealed."

Matters went, at the outset at least, as Du Guesclin had promised to the
king on the one side, and on the other to the captains of the Grand
Company. There was, in point of fact, a civil war raging in Spain
between Don Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile, and his natural brother,
Henry of Transtamare, and that was the theatre on which Du Guesclin had
first proposed to launch the vagabond army which he desired to get out of
France. It does not appear, however, that at their departure from
Burgundy at the end of November, 1365, this army and its chiefs had in
this respect any well-considered resolution, or any well-defined aim in
their movements. They made first for Avignon, and Pope Urban V., on
hearing of their approach, was somewhat disquieted, and sent to them one
of his cardinals to ask them what was their will. If we may believe the
poet-chronicler, Cuvelier, the mission was anything but pleasing to the
cardinal, who said to one of his confidants, "I am grieved to be set to
this business, for I am sent to a pack of madmen who have not an hour's,
nay, not even half-an-hour's conscience." The captains replied that they
were going to fight the heathen either in Cyprus or in the kingdom of
Granada, and that they demanded of the pope absolution of their sins and
two hundred thousand livres, which Du Guesclin had promised them in his
name. The pope cried out against this. "Here," said he, "at Avignon, we
have money given us for absolution, and we must give it gratis to yonder
folks, and give them money also: it is quite against reason." Du
Guesclin insisted. "Know you," said he to the cardinal, "that there are
in this army many folks who care not a whit for absolution, and who would
much rather have money; we are making them proper men in spite of
themselves, and are leading them abroad that they may do no mischief to
Christians. Tell that to the pope; for else we could not take them
away." The pope yielded, and gave them the two hundred thousand livres.
He obtained the money by levies upon the population of Avignon. They, no
doubt, complained loudly, for the chiefs of the Grand Company were
informed thereof, and Du Guesclin said, "By the faith that I owe to the
Holy Trinity, I will not take a denier of that which these poor folks
have given; let the pope and the clerics give us of their own; we desire
that all they who have paid the tax do recover their money without losing
a doit; "and, according to contemporary chronicles, the vagabond army did
not withdraw until they had obtained this satisfaction. The piety of the
middle ages, though sincere, was often less disinterested and more rough
than it is commonly represented.

On arriving at Toulouse from Avignon, Du Guesclin and his bands, with a
strength, it is said, of thirty thousand men, took the decided resolution
of going into Spain to support the cause of Prince Henry of Transtamare
against the King of Castile his brother, Don Pedro the Cruel. The Duke
of Anjou, governor of Languedoc, gave them encouragement, by agreement,
no doubt with King Charles V., and from anxiety on his own part to rid
his province of such inconvenient visitors. On the 1st of January, 1366,
Du Guesclin entered Barcelona, whither Henry of Transtamare came to join
him. There is no occasion to give a detailed account here of that
expedition, which appertains much more to the history of Spain than to
that of France. There was a brief or almost no struggle. Henry of
Transtamare was crowned king, first at Calahorra, and afterwards at
Burgos. Don Pedro, as much despised before long as he was already
detested, fled from Castile to Andalusia, and from Andalusia to Portugal,
whose king would not grant him an asylum in his dominions, and he ended
by embarking at Corunna for Bordeaux, to implore the assistance of the
Prince of Wales, who gave him a warm and a magnificent reception. Edward
III., King of England, had been disquieted by the march of the Grand
Company into Spain, and had given John Chandos and the rest of his chief
commanders in Guienne orders to be vigilant in preventing the English
from taking part in the expedition against his cousin the King of
Castile; but several of the English chieftains, serving in the bands and
with Du Guesclin, set at nought this prohibition, and contributed
materially to the fall of Don Pedro. Edward III. did not consider that
the matter was any infraction, on the part of France, of the treaty of
Bretigne, and continued to live at peace with Charles V., testifying his
displeasure, however, all the same. But when Don Pedro had reached
Bordeaux, and had told the Prince of Wales that, if he obtained the
support of England, he would make the prince's eldest son, Edward, king
of Galicia, and share amongst the prince's warriors the treasure he had
left in Castile, so well concealed that he alone knew where, "the knights
of the Prince of Wales," says Froissart, "gave ready heed to his words,
for English and Gascons are by nature covetous." The Prince of Wales
immediately summoned the barons of Aquitaine, and on the advice they gave
him sent four knights to London to ask for instructions from the king his
father. Edward III. assembled his chief councillors at Westminster, and
finally "it seemed to all course due and reasonable on the part of the
Prince of Wales to restore and conduct the King of Spain to his kingdom;
to which end they wrote official letters from the King and the council of
England to the prince and the barons of Aquitaine. When the said barons
heard the letters read they said to the prince, 'My lord, we will obey
the command of the king our master and your father; it is but reason, and
we will serve you on this journey and King Pedro also; but we would know
who shall pay us and deliver us our wages, for one does not take
men-at-arms away from their homes to go a warfare in a foreign land,
without they be paid and delivered. If it were a matter touching our
dear lord your father's affairs, or your own, or your honor or our
country's, we would not speak thereof so much beforehand as we do.' Then
the Prince of Wales looked towards the Prince Don Pedro, and said to him,
'Sir King, you hear what these gentlemen say; to answer is for you, who
have to employ them.' Then the King Don Pedro answered the prince, 'My
dear cousin, so far as my gold, my silver, and all my treasure which I
have brought with me hither, and which is not a thirtieth part so great
as that which there is yonder, will go, I am ready to give it and share
it amongst your gentry.' 'You say well,' said the prince, 'and for the
residue I will be debtor to them, and I will lend you all you shall have
need of until we be in Castile.' 'By my head,' answered the King Don
Pedro, you will do me great grace and great courtesy.'"

When the English and Gascon chieftains who had followed Du Guesclin
into Spain heard of the resolutions of their king, Edward III., and the
preparations made by the Prince of Wales for going and restoring Don
Pedro to the throne of Castile, they withdrew from the cause which they
had just brought to an issue to the advantage of Henry of Transtamare,
separated from the French captain who had been their leader, and marched
back into Aquitaine, quite ready to adopt the contrary cause, and follow
the Prince of Wales in the service of Don Pedro. The greater part of the
adventurers, Burgundian, Picard, Champagnese, Norman, and others who had
enlisted in the bands which Du Guesclin had marched out of France,
likewise quitted him, after reaping the fruits of their raid, and
recrossed the Pyrenees to go and resume in France their life of roving
and pillage. There remained in Spain about fifteen hundred men-at-arms
faithful to Du Guesclin, himself faithful to Henry of Transtamare, who
had made him Constable of Castile.

Amidst all these vicissitudes, and at the bottom of all events as well as
of all hearts, there still remained the great fact of the period, the
struggle between the two kings of France and England for dominion in that
beautiful country which, in spite of its dismemberment, kept the name of
France. Edward III. in London, and the Prince of Wales at Bordeaux,
could not see, without serious disquietude, the most famous warrior
amongst the French crossing the Pyrenees with a following for the most
part French, and setting upon the throne of Castile a prince necessarily
allied to the King of France. The question of rivalry between the two
kings and the two peoples had thus been transferred into Spain, and for
the moment the victory remained with France. After several months'
preparation the prince of Wales, purchasing the complicity of the King of
Navarre, marched into Spain in February, 1367, with an army of twenty-
seven thousand men, and John Chandos, the most able of the English
warriors. Henry of Transtamare had troops more numerous, but less
disciplined and experienced. The two armies joined battle on the 3d of
April, 1367, at Najara or Navarette, not far from the Ebro. Disorder and
even sheer rout soon took place amongst that of Henry, who flung himself
before the fugitives, shouting, "Why would ye thus desert and betray me,
ye who have made me King of Castile? Turn back and stand by me; and by
the grace of God the day shall be ours." Du Guesclin and his men-at-arms
maintained the fight with stubborn courage, but at last they were beaten,
and either slain or taken. To the last moment Du Guesclin, with his back
against a wall, defended himself heroically against a host of assailants.
The Prince of Wales, coming up, cried out, "Gentle marshals of France,
and you too, Bertrand, yield yourselves to me." "Why, yonder men are my
foes," cried the king, Don Pedro; "it is they who took from me my
kingdom, and on them I mean to take vengeance." Du Guesclin, darting
forward, struck so rough a blow with his sword at Don Pedro, that he
brought him fainting to the ground, and then turning to the Prince of
Wales said, "Nathless I give up my sword to the most valiant prince on
earth." The Prince of Wales took the sword, and charged the Captal of
Buch with the prisoner's keeping. "Aha! sir Bertrand," said the Captal
to Du Guesclin, "you took me at the battle of Cocherel, and to-day I've
got you." "Yes," replied Du Guesclin; "but at Cocherel I took you
myself, and here you are only my keeper."

The battle of Najara being over, and Don Pedro the Cruel restored to a
throne which he was not to occupy for long, the Prince of Wales returned
to Bordeaux with his army and his prisoner Du Guesclin, whom he treated
courteously, at the same time that he kept him pretty strictly. One of
the English chieftains who had been connected with Du Guesclin at the
time of his expedition into Spain, Sir Hugh Calverley, tried one day to
induce the Prince of Wales to set the French warrior at liberty. "Sir,"
said he, "Bertrand is a right loyal knight, but he is not a rich man, or
in estate to pay much money; he would have good need to end his captivity
on easy terms." "Let be," said the prince; "I have no care to take aught
of his; I will cause his life to be prolonged in spite of himself: if he
were released, he would be in battle again, and always a-making war."
After supper, Hugh, without any beating about the bush, told Bertrand the
prince's answer. "Sir," he said, "I cannot bring about your release."
"Sir," said Bertrand, "think no more of it; I will leave the matter to
the decision of God, who is a good and just master." Some time after,
Du Guesclin having sent a request to the Prince of Wales to admit him to
ransom, the prince, one day when he was in a gay humor, had him brought
up, and told him that his advisers had urged him not to give him his
liberty so long as the war between France and England lasted. "Sir,"
said Du Guesclin to him, "then am I the most honored knight in the world,
for they say, in the kingdom of France and elsewhere, that you are more
afraid of me than of any other." "Think you, then, it is for your
knighthood that we do keep you?" said the prince: "nay, by St. George;
fix you your own ransom, and you shall be released." Du Guesclin proudly
fixed his ransom at a hundred thousand francs, which seemed a large sum
even to the Prince of Wales. "Sir," said Du Guesclin to him, "the king
in whose keeping is France will lend me what I lack, and there is not a
spinning wench in France who would not spin to gain for me what is
necessary to put me out of your clutches." The advisers of the Prince of
Wales would have had him think better of it, and break his promise; but
"that which we have agreed to with him we will hold to," said the prince;
"it would be shame and confusion of face to us if we could be reproached
with not setting him to ransom when he is ready to set himself down at so
much as to pay a hundred thousand francs." Prince and knight were both
as good as their word. Du Guesclin found amongst his Breton friends a
portion of the sum he wanted; King Charles V. lent him thirty thousand
Spanish doubloons, which, by a deed of December 27, 1367, Du Guesclin
undertook to repay; and at the beginning of 1368 the Prince of Wales set
the French warrior at liberty.

The first use Du Guesclin made of it was to go and put his name and his
sword at the service first of the Duke of Anjou, governor of Languedoc,
who was making war in Provence against Queen Joan of Naples, and then of
his Spanish patron, Henry of Transtamare, who had recommenced the war in
Spain against his brother, Pedro the Cruel, whom he was before long to
dethrone for the second time and slay with his own hand. But whilst Du
Guesclin was taking part in this settlement of the Spanish question,
important events called him back to the north of the Pyrenees for the
service of his own king, the defence of his own country, and the
aggrandizement of his own fortunes. The English and Gascon bands which,
in 1367, had recrossed the Pyrenees with the Prince of Wales, after
having restored Don Pedro the Cruel to the throne of Castile had not
disappeared. Having no more to do in their own prince's service, they
had spread abroad over France, which they called "their apartment," and
recommenced, in the countries between the Seine and the Loire, their life
of vagabondage and pillage. A general outcry was raised; it was the
Prince of Wales, men said, who had let them loose, and the people called
them the host (army) of England. A proceeding of the Prince of Wales
himself had the effect of adding to the rage of the people that of the
aristocratic classes. He was lavish of expenditure, and held at Bordeaux
a magnificent court, for which the revenues from his domains and ordinary
resources were insufficient; so he imposed a tax for five years of ten
sous per hearth or family, "in order to satisfy," he said, "the large
claims against him." In order to levy this tax legally, he convoked the
estates of Aquitaine, first at Niort, and then, successively, at
Angouleme, Poitiers, Bordeaux, and Bergerac; but nowhere could he obtain
the vote he demanded. "When we obeyed the King of France," said the
Gascons, "we were never so aggrieved with subsidies, hearth-taxes, or
gabels, and we will not be, as long as we can defend ourselves." The
Prince of Wales persisted in his demands. He was ill and irritable, and
was becoming truly the Black Prince. The Aquitanians too became
irritated. The prince's more temperate advisers, even those of English
birth, tried in vain to move him from his stubborn course. Even John
Chandos, the most notable as well as the wisest of them, failed, and
withdrew to his domain of St. Sauveur, in Normandy, that he might have
nothing to do with measures of which he disapproved. Being driven to
extremity, the principal lords of Aquitaine, the Counts of Comminges, of
Armagnac, of Perigord, and many barons besides, set out for France, and
made complaint, on the 30th of June, 1368, before Charles V. and his
peers, "on account of the grievances which the Prince of Wales was
purposed to put upon them." They had recourse, they said, to the King of
France as their sovereign lord, who had no power to renounce his
suzerainty or the jurisdiction of his court of peers and of his

Nothing could have corresponded better with the wishes of Charles V. For
eight years past he had taken to heart the treaty of Bretigny, and he was
as determined not to miss as he was patient in waiting for an opportunity
for a breach of it. But he was too prudent to act with a precipitation
which would have given his conduct an appearance of a premeditated and
deep-laid purpose for which there was no legitimate ground. He did not
care to entertain at once and unreservedly the appeal of the Aquitanian
lords. He gave them a gracious reception, and made them "great cheer and
rich gifts;" but he announced his intention of thoroughly examining the
stipulations of the treaty of Bretigny, and the rights of his kingship.
"He sent for into his council chamber all the charters of the peace, and
then he had them read on several days and at full leisure." He called
into consultation the schools of Boulogne, of Montpellier, of Toulouse,
and of Orleans, and the most learned clerks of the papal court. It was
not until he had thus ascertained the legal means of maintaining that the
stipulations of the treaty of Bretigny had not all of them been performed
by the King of England, and that, consequently, the King of France had
not lost all his rights of suzerainty over the ceded provinces, that on
the 25th of January, 1369, just six months after the appeal of the
Aquitanian lords had been submitted to him, he adopted it, in the
following terms, which he addressed to the Prince of Wales, at Bordeaux,
and which are here curtailed in their legal expressions: --

"Charles, by the grace of God King of France, to our nephew the Prince of
Wales and of Aquitaine, greeting. Whereas many prelates, barons,
knights, universities, communes, and colleges of the country of Gascony
and the duchy of Aquitaine, have come thence into our presence, that they
might have justice touching certain undue grievances and vexations which
you, through weak counsel and silly advice, have designed to impose upon
them, whereat we are quite astounded, . . . we, of our kingly majesty
and lordship, do command you to come to our city of Paris, in your own
person, and to present yourself before us in our chamber of peers, for to
hear justice touching the said complaints and grievances proposed by you
to be done to your people which claims to have resort to our court. . .
And be it as quickly as you may."

"When the Prince of Wales had read this letter," says Froissart, "he
shook his head, and looked askant at the aforesaid Frenchmen; and when he
had thought a while, he answered, 'We will go willingly, at our own time,
since the King of France doth bid us, but it shall be with our Basque on
our head, and with sixty thousand men at our back.'"

This was a declaration of war; and deeds followed at once upon words.
Edward III., after a short and fruitless attempt at an accommodation,
assumed, on the 3d of June, 1369, the title of King of France, and
ordered a levy of all his subjects between sixteen and sixty, laic or
ecclesiastical, for the defence of England, threatened by a French fleet
which was cruising in the Channel. He sent re-enforcements to the Prince
of Wales, whose brother, the Duke of Lancaster, landed with an army at
Calais; and he offered to all the adventurers with whom Europe was
teeming possession of all the fiefs they could conquer in France.
Charles V. on his side vigorously pushed forward his preparations; he had
begun them before he showed his teeth, for as early as the 19th of July,
1368, he had sent into Spain ambassadors with orders to conclude an
alliance with Henry of Transtamare against the King of England and his
son, whom he called "the Duke of Aquitaine." On the 12th of April, 1369,
he signed the treaty which, by a contract of marriage between his
brother, Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and the Princess Marguerite
of Flanders, transferred the latter rich province to the House of France.
Lastly he summoned to Paris Du Guesclin, who since the recovery of his
freedom had been fighting at one time in Spain, and at another in the
south of France, and announced to him his intention of making him
constable. "Dear sir and noble king," said the honest and modest Breton,
"I do pray you to have me excused; I am a poor knight and petty bachelor.
The office of constable is so grand and noble that he who would well
discharge it should have had long previous practice and command, and
rather over the great than the small. Here are my lords your brothers,
your nephews, and your cousins, who will have charge of men-at-arms in
the armies, and the rides afield, and how durst I lay commands on them?
In sooth, sir, jealousies be so strong that I cannot well but be afeard
of them. I do affectionately pray you to dispense with me, and to confer
it upon another who will more willingly take it than I, and will know
better how to fill it." "Sir Bertrand, Sir Bertrand," answered the king,
"do not excuse yourself after this fashion; I have nor brother, nor
cousin, nor nephew, nor count, nor baron in my kingdom, who would not
obey you; and if any should do otherwise, he would anger me so that he
would hear of it. Take, therefore, the office with a good heart, I do
beseech you." Sir Bertrand saw well, says Froissart, "that his excuses
were of no avail, and finally he assented to the king's opinion; but it
was not without a struggle, and to his great disgust. . . . In order
to give him further encouragement and advancement the king did set him
close to him at table, showed him all the signs he could of affection,
and gave him, together with the office, many handsome gifts and great
estates for binelf and his heirs." Charles V. might fearlessly lavish
his gifts on the loyal warrior, for Du Guesclin felt nothing more binding
upon him than to lavish them, in his turn, for the king's service. He
gave numerous and sumptuous dinners to the barons, knights, and soldiers
of every degree whom he was to command.

"At Bertrand's plate gazed every eye,
So massive, chased so gloriously,"

says the poet-chronicler Cuvelier; but Du Guesclin pledged it more than
once, and sold a great portion of it, in order to pay "without fail the
knights and honorable fighting-men of whom he was the leader."

The war thus renewed was hotly prosecuted on both sides. A sentiment of
nationality became, from day to day, more keen and more general in
France. At the commencement of hostilities, it burst forth particularly
in the North; the burghers of Abbeville opened their gates to the Count
of St. Poi, and in a single week St. Valery, Crotoy, and all the places
in the countship of Ponthieu followed this example. The movement made
progress before long in the South. Montauban and Milhau hoisted on their
walls the royal standard; the Archbishop of Toulouse "went riding through
the whole of Quercy, preaching and demonstrating the good cause of the
King of France; and he converted, without striking a blow, Cahors and
more than sixty towns, castles, or fortresses." Charles V. neglected no
means of encouraging and keeping up the public impulse. It has been
remarked that, as early as the 9th of May, 1369, he had convoked the
states-general, declaring to them in person that "if they considered that
he had done anything he ought not, they should say so, and he would amend
it, for there was still time for reparation if he had done too much or
not enough." He called a new meeting on the 7th of December, 1369, after
the explosion of hostilities, and obtained from them the most extensive
subsidies they had ever granted. They were as stanch to the king in
principle as in purse, and their interpretations of the treaty of
Bretigny went far beyond the grounds which Charles had put forward to
justify war. It was not only on the upper classes and on political minds
that the king endeavored to act; he paid attention also to popular
impressions; he set on foot in Paris a series of processions, in which he
took part in person, and the queen also, "barefoot and unsandaled, to
pray God to graciously give heed to the doings and affairs of the

But at the same time that he was thus making his appeal, throughout
France and by every means, to the feeling of nationality, Charles
remained faithful to the rule of conduct which had been inculcated in him
by the experience of his youth; he recommended, nay, he commanded, all
his military captains to avoid any general engagement with the English.
It was not without great difficulty that he wrung obedience from the
feudal nobility, who, more numerous very often than the English, looked
upon such a prohibition as an insult, and sometimes withdrew to their
castles rather than submit to it; and even the king's brother, Philip the
Bold, openly in Burgundy testified his displeasure at it. Du Guesclin,
having more intelligence and firmness, even before becoming constable,
and at the moment of quitting the Duke of Anjou at Toulouse, had advised
him not to accept battle, to well fortify all the places that had been
recovered, and to let the English scatter and waste themselves in a host
of small expeditions and distant skirmishes constantly renewed. When
once he was constable, Du Guesclin put determinedly in practice the
king's maxim, calmly confident in his own fame for valor whenever he had
to refuse to yield to the impatience of his comrades.

This detached and indecisive war lasted eight years, with a medley of
more or less serious incidents, which, however, did not change its
character. In 1370, the Prince of Wales laid siege to Limoges, which had
opened its gates to the Duke of Berry. He was already so ill that he
could not mount his horse, and had himself carried in a litter from post
to post, to follow up and direct the operations of the siege. In spite
of a month's resistance the prince took the place, and gave it up as a
prey to a mob of reckless plunderers, whose excesses were such that
Froissart himself, a spectator generally so indifferent, and leaning
rather to the English, was deeply shocked. "There," said he, "was a
great pity, for men, women, and children threw themselves on their knees
before the prince, and cried, 'Mercy, gentle sir!' but he was so inflamed
with passion that he gave no heed, and none, male or female, was listened
to, but all were put to the sword. There is no heart so hard but, if
present then at Limoges and not forgetful of God, would have wept
bitterly, for more than three thousand persons, men, women, and children,
were there beheaded on that day. May God receive their souls, for verily
they were martyrs!" The massacre of Limoges caused, throughout France, a
feeling of horror and indignant anger towards the English name. In 1373
an English army landed at Calais, under the command of the Duke of
Lancaster, and overran nearly the whole of France, being incessantly
harassed, however, without ever being attacked in force, and without
mastering a single fortress. "Let them be," was the saying in the king's
circle; "when a storm bursts out in a country, it leaves off afterwards
and disperses of itself; and so it will be with these English." The
sufferings and reverses of the English armies on this expedition were
such, that, of thirty thousand horses which the English had landed at
Calais, "they could not muster more than six thousand at Bordeaux, and
had lost full a third of their men and more. There were seen noble
knights, who had great possessions in their own country, toiling along
a-foot, without armor, and begging their bread from door to door without
getting any." In vain did Edward III. treat with the Duke of Brittany
and the King of Navarre in order to have their support in this war. The
Duke of Brittany, John IV., after having openly defied the King of
France, his suzerain, was obliged to fly to England, and the King of
Navarre entered upon negotiations alternately with Edward III. and
Charles V., being always ready to betray either, according to what suited
his interests at the moment. Tired of so many ineffectual efforts,
Edward III. was twice obliged, between 1375 and 1377, to conclude with
Charles V. a truce, just to give the two peoples, as well as the two
kings, breathing-time; but the truces were as vain as the petty combats
for the purpose of putting an end to this great struggle.

The great actors in this historical drama did not know how near were the
days when they would be called away from this arena, still so crowded
with their exploits or their reverses. A few weeks after the massacre of
Limoges the Prince of Wales lost, at Bordeaux, his eldest son, six years
old, whom he loved with all the tenderness of a veteran warrior, so much
the more affected by gentle impressions as they were a rarity to him; and
he was himself so ill that "his doctors advised him to return to England,
his own land, saying that he would probably get better health there."
Accordingly he left France, which he would never see again, and, on
returning to England, he, after a few months' rest in the country, took
an active part in Parliament in the home-policy of his country, and
supported the opposition against the government of his father, who since
the death of the queen, Philippa of Hainault, had been treating England
to the spectacle of a scandalous old age closing a life of glory.
Parliamentary contests soon exhausted the remaining strength of the Black
Prince, and he died on the 8th of June, 1376, in possession of a
popularity that never shifted, and was deserved by such qualities as
showed a nature great indeed and generous, though often sullied by the
fits of passion of a character harsh even to ferocity. "The good fortune
of England," says his contemporary Walsingham, "seemed bound up with his
person, for it flourished when he was well, fell off when he was ill, and
vanished at his death. As long as he was on the spot the English feared
neither the foe's invasion nor the meeting on the battle-field; but with
him died all their hopes." A year after him, on the 21st of June, 1377,
died his father, Edward III., a king who had been able, glorious, and
fortunate for nearly half a century, but had fallen, towards the end of
his life, into contempt with his people and into forgetfulness on the
continent of Europe, where nothing was heard about him beyond whispers of
an indolent old man's indulgent weaknesses to please a covetous mistress.

Whilst England thus lost her two great chiefs, France still kept hers.
For three years longer Charles V. and Du Guesclin remained at the head of
her government and her armies. The truce between the two kingdoms was
still in force when the Prince of Wales died, and Charles, ever careful
to practise knightly courtesy, had a solemn funeral service performed for
him in the Sainte-Chapelle; but the following year, at the death of
Edward III., the truce had expired. The Prince of Wales's young son,
Richard II., succeeded his grandfather, and Charles, on the accession of
a king who was a minor, was anxious to reap all the advantage be could
hope from that fact. The war was pushed forward vigorously, and a French
fleet cruised on the coast of England, ravaged the Isle of Wight, and
burned Yarmouth, Dartmouth, Plymouth, Winchelsea, and Lewes. What
Charles passionately desired was the recovery of Calais; he would have
made considerable sacrifices to obtain it, and in the seclusion of his
closet he displayed an intelligent activity in his efforts, by war or
diplomacy, to attain this end. "He had," says Froissart, "couriers going
a-horseback night and day, who, from one day to the next, brought him
news from eighty or a hundred leagues' distance, by help of relays posted
from town to town." This labor of the king had no success; on the whole
the war prosecuted by Charles V. between Edward III.'s death and his own
had no result of importance; the attempt, by law and arms, which he made
in 1378, to make Brittany his own and reunite it to the crown, completely
failed, thanks to the passion with which the Bretons, nobles, burgesses,
and peasants, were attached to their country's independence. Charles V.
actually ran a risk of embroiling himself with the hero of his reign; he
had ordered Du Guesclin to reduce to submission the countship of Rennes,
his native land, and he showed some temper because the constable not only
did not succeed, but advised him to make peace with the Duke of Brittany
and his party. Du Guesclin, grievously hurt, sent to the king his sword
of constable, adding that he was about to withdraw to the court of
Castile, to Henry of Transtamare, who would show more appreciation of his
services. All Charles V.'s wisdom did not preserve him from one of those
deeds of haughty levity which the handling of sovereign power sometimes
causes even the wisest kings to commit, but reflection made him promptly
acknowledge and retrieve his fault. He charged the Dukes of Anjou and
Bourbon to go and, for his sake, conjure Du Guesclin to remain his
constable; and, though some chroniclers declare that Du Guesclin refused,
his will, dated the 9th of July, 1380, leads to a contrary belief, for in
it he assumes the title of constable of France, and this will preceded
the hero's death only by four days. Having fallen sick before
Chateauneuf-Randon, a place he was besieging in the Gevaudan, Du Guesclin
expired on the 13th of July, 1380, at sixty-six years of age, and his
last words were an exhortation to the veteran captains around him "never
to forget that, in whatsoever country they might be making war,
churchmen, women, children, and the poor people were not their enemies."
According to certain contemporary chronicles, or, one might almost say,
legends, Chateauneuf-Randon was to be given up the day after Du Guesclin
died. The marshal De Sancerre, who commanded the king's army, summoned
the governor to surrender the place to him; but the governor replied that
he had given his word to Du Guesclin, and would surrender to no other.
He was told of the constable's death: "Very well," he rejoined, "I will
carry the keys of the town to his tomb." To this the marshal agreed; the
governor marched out of the place at the head of his garrison, passed
through the besieging army, went and knelt down before Du Guesclin's
corpse, and actually laid the keys of Chateauneuf-Randon on his bier.

[Illustration: Putting the Keys on Du Guesclin's Bier----407]

This dramatic story is not sufficiently supported by authentic documents
to be admitted as an historical fact; but there is to be found in an old
chronicle concerning Du Guesclin [published for the first time at the end
of the fifteenth century, and in a new edition by M. Francisque Michel in
1830] a story which, in spite of many discrepancies, confirms the
principal fact of the keys of Chateauneuf-Randon being brought by the
garrison to the bier. "At the decease of Sir Bertrand," says the
chronicler, "a great cry arose throughout the host of the French. The
English refused to give up the castle. The marshal, Louis de Sancerre,
had the hostages brought to the ditches, for to have their heads struck
off. But forthwith the people in the castle lowered their bridge, and
the captain came and offered the keys to the marshal, who refused them,
and said to him, 'Friends, you have your agreements with Sir Bertrand,
and ye shall fulfil them to him.' 'God the Lord!' said the captain, 'you
know well that Sir Bertrand, who was so much worth, is dead: how, then,
should we surrender to him this castle? Verily, lord marshal, you do
demand our dishonor when you would have us and our castle surrendered to
a dead knight.' 'Needs no parley hereupon,' said the marshal, 'but do it
at once, for, if you put forth more words, short will be the life of your
hostages.' Well did the English see that it could not be otherwise; so
they went forth all of them from the castle, their captain in front of
them, and came to the marshal, who led them to the hostel where lay Sir
Bertrand, and made them give up the keys and place them on his bier,
sobbing the while: 'Let all know that there was there nor knight, nor
squire, French or English, who showed not great mourning.'"

The body of Du Guesclin was carried to Paris to be interred at St. Denis,
hard by the tomb which Charles V. had ordered to be made for himself; and
nine years afterwards, in 1389, Charles V.'s successor, his son Charles
VI., caused to be celebrated in the Breton warrior's honor a fresh
funeral, at which the princes and grandees of the kingdom, and the young
king himself, were present in state. The Bishop of Auxerre delivered the
funeral oration over the constable; and a poet of the time, giving an
account of the ceremony, says,

"The tears of princes fell,
What time the bishop said,
'Sir Bertrand loved ye well;
Weep, warriors, for the dead!
The knell of sorrow tolls
For deeds that were so bright:
God save all Christian souls,
And his--the gallant knight: '

The life, character, and name of Bertrand du Guesclin were and remained
one of the most popular, patriotic, and legitimate boasts of the middle
ages, then at their decline.

Two months after the constable's death, on the 16th of September, 1380,
Charles V. died at the castle of Beaute-sur-Marne, near Vincennes, at
forty-three years of age, quite young still after so stormy and
hard-working a life. His contemporaries were convinced, and he was
himself convinced, that he had been poisoned by his perfidious enemy,
King Charles of Navarre. His uncle, Charles IV., Emperor of Germany,
had sent him an able doctor, who "set him in good case and in manly
strength," says Froissart, by effecting a permanent issue in his arm.
"When this little sore," said he to him, "shall cease to discharge and
shall dry up, you will die without help for it, and you will have at the
most fifteen days' leisure to take counsel and thought for the soul."
When the issue began to dry up, Charles knew that death was at hand; and
"like a wise and valiant man as he was," says Froissart, "he set in order
all his affairs, and sent for his three brothers, in whom he had most
confidence, the Duke of Berry, the Duke of Burgundy, and the Duke of
Bourbon, and he left in the lurch his second brother, the Duke of Anjou,
because he considered him too covetous. 'My dear brothers,' said the
king to them, 'I feel and know full well that I have not long to live.
I do commend and give in charge to you my son Charles. Behave to him as
good uncles should behave to their nephew. Crown him as soon as possible
after my death, and counsel him loyally in all his affairs. The lad is
young, and of a volatile spirit; he will need to be guided and governed
by good doctrine; teach him or have him taught all the kingly points and
states he will have to maintain, and marry him in such lofty station that
the kingdom may be the better for it. Thank God, the affairs of our
kingdom are in good case. The Duke of Brittany [John IV., called the
Valiant] is a crafty and a slippery man, and he hath ever been more
English than French; for which reason keep the nobles of Brittany and the
good towns affectionate, and you will thus thwart his intentions. I am
fond of the Bretons, for they have ever served me loyally, and helped to
keep and defend my kingdom against my enemies. Make the lord Clisson
constable, for, all considered, I see none more competent for it than he.
As to those aids and taxes of the kingdom of France, wherewith the poorer
folks are so burdened and aggrieved, deal with them according to your
conscience, and take them off as soon as ever you can, for they are
things which, although I have upheld them, do grieve me and weigh upon my
heart; but the great wars and great matters which we have had on all
sides caused me to countenance them."

Of all the dying speeches and confessions of kings to their family and
their councillors, that which has just been put forward is the most
practical, precise, and simple. Charles V., taking upon his shoulders at
nineteen years of age, first as king's lieutenant and as dauphin, and
afterwards as regent, the government of France, employed all his soul and
his life in repairing the disasters arising from the wars of his
predecessors and preventing any repetition. No sovereign was ever more
resolutely pacific; he carried prudence even into the very practice of
war, as was proved by his forbidding his generals to venture any general
engagement with the English, so great a lesson and so deep an impression
had he derived from the defeats of Crecy and Poitiers, and the causes
which led to them. But without being a warrior, and without running any
hazardous risks, he made himself respected and feared by his enemies.
"Never was there king," said Edward III., "who handled arms less, and
never was there king who gave me so much to do." When the condition of
the kingdom was at the best, and more favorable circumstances led Charles
to believe that the day had come for setting France free from the cruel
conditions which had been imposed upon her by the treaty of Bretigny, he
entered without hesitation upon that war of patriotic reparation; and,
after the death of his two powerful enemies, Edward III. and the Black
Prince, he was still prosecuting it, not without chance of success, when
he himself died of the malady with which he had for a long while been
afflicted. At his death he left in the royal treasury a surplus of
seventeen million francs, a large sum for those days. Nor the labors of
government, nor the expenses of war, nor far-sighted economy had
prevented him from showing a serious interest in learned works and
studies, and from giving effectual protection to the men who devoted
themselves thereto. The University of Paris, notwithstanding the
embarrassments it sometimes caused him, was always the object of his
good-will. "He was a great lover of wisdom," says Christine de Pisan,
"and when certain folks murmured for that he honored clerks so highly, he
answered, 'So long as wisdom is honored in this realm, it will continue
in prosperity; but when wisdom is thrust aside, it will go down.'" He
collected nine hundred and fifty volumes (the first foundation of the
loyal Library), which were deposited in a tower of the Louvre, called the
library tower, and of which he, in 1373, had an inventory drawn up by his
personal attendant, Gilles de Presle. His taste for literature and
science was not confined to collecting manuscripts. He had a French
translation made, for the sake of spreading a knowledge thereof, of the
Bible in the first place, and then of several works of Aristotle, of
Livy, of Valerius Maximus, of Vegetius, and of St. Augustine. He was
fond of industry and the arts as well as of literature. Henry de Vic, a
German clock-maker, constructed for him the first public clock ever seen
in France, and it was placed in what was called the Clock Tower in the
Palace of Justice; and the king even had a clock-maker by appointment,
named Peter de St. Beathe. Several of the Paris monuments, churches, or
buildings for public use were undertaken or completed under his care. He
began the building of the Bastille, that fortress which was then so
necessary for the safety of Paris, where it was to be, four centuries
later, the object of the wrath and earliest excesses on the part of the
populace. Charles the Wise, from whatever point of view he may be
regarded, is, after Louis the Fat, Philip Augustus, St. Louis, and Philip
the Handsome, the fifth of those kings who powerfully contributed to the
settlement of France in Europe, and of the kingship in France. He was
not the greatest nor the best, but, perhaps, the most honestly able. And
at the same time he was a signal example of the shallowness and
insufficiency of human abilities. Charles V., on his death-bed,
considered that "the affairs of his kingdom were in good case;" he had
not even a suspicion of that chaos of war, anarchy, reverses and ruin
into which they were about to fall, in the reign of his son, Charles VI.


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