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Fall of the Roman Empire—Invasion of Clovis—First Race of French Kings—Accession of Pepin—State of Italy—Charlemagne—His Reign and Character—Louis the Debonair—His Successors—Calamitous State of the Empire in the ninth and tenth Centuries—Accession of Hugh Capet—His first Successors—Louis VII.—Philip Augustus— Conquest of Normandy—War in Languedoc—Louis IX.—His Character—Digression upon the Crusades—Philip III.—Philip IV.—Aggrandizement of French Monarchy under his Reign—Reigns of his Children—Question of Salic Law—Claim of Edward III.


Before the conclusion of the fifth century the mighty fabric of empire which valor and policy had founded upon the seven hills of Rome was finally overthrown in all the west of Europe by the barbarous nations from the north, whose martial energy and whose numbers were irresistible. A race of men, formerly unknown or despised, had not only dismembered that proud sovereignty, but permanently settled themselves in its fairest provinces, and imposed their yoke upon the ancient possessors. The Vandals were masters of Africa; the Suevi held part of Spain; the Visigoths possessed the remainder, with a large portion of Gaul; the Burgundians occupied the provinces watered by the Rhone and Saône; the Ostrogoths almost all Italy. The north-west of Gaul, between the Seine and the Loire, some writers have filled with an Armorican republic; while the remainder was still nominally subject to the Roman empire, and governed by a certain Syagrius, rather with an independent than a deputed authority.

At this time Clovis, king of the Salian Franks, a tribe of Germans long connected with Rome, and originally settled upon the right bank of the Rhine, but who had latterly penetrated as far as Tournay and Cambray invaded Gaul, and defeated Syagrius at Soissons. [a.d. 486.] The result of this victory was the subjugation of those provinces which had previously been considered as Roman. But as their allegiance had not been very strict, so their loss was not very severely felt; since the emperors of Constantinople were not too proud to confer upon Clovis the titles of consul and patrician, which he was too prudent to refuse.

Some years after this, Clovis defeated the Alemanni, or Swabians, in a great battle at Zulpich, near Cologne. In consequence of a vow, as it is said, made during this engagement, and at the instigation of his wife Clotilda, a princess of Burgundy, he became a convert to Christianity, [a.d. 496.] It would be a fruitless inquiry whether he was sincere in this change; but it is certain, at least, that no policy could have been more successful. The Arian sect, which had been early introduced among the barbarous nations, was predominant, though apparently without intolerance, in the Burgundian and Visigoth courts; but the clergy of Gaul were strenuously attached to the Catholic side, and, even before his conversion, had favored the arms of Clovis. They now became his most zealous supporters, and were rewarded by him with artful gratitude, and by his descendants with lavish munificence. Upon the pretence of religion, he attacked Alaric, king of the Visigoths, and, by one great victory near Poitiers overthrowing their empire in Gaul, reduced them to the maritime province of Septimania, a narrow strip of coast between the Rhone and the Pyrenees, [a.d. 507.] The last exploits of Clovis were the reduction of certain independent chiefs of his own tribe and family, who were settled in the neighborhood of the Rhine. All these he put to death by force or treachery; for he was cast in the true mould of conquerors, and may justly be ranked among the first of his class, both for the splendor and the guiltiness of his ambition.

Clovis left four sons; one illegitimate, or at least born before his conversion; and three by his queen Clotilda, [a.d. 511.] These four made, it is said, an equal partition of his dominions, which comprehended not only France, but the western and central parts of Germany, besides Bavaria, and perhaps Swabia, which were governed by their own dependent, but hereditary, chiefs. Thierry, the eldest, had what was called Austrasia, the eastern or German division, and fixed his capital at Metz; Clodomir, at Orleans; Childebert, at Paris; and Clotaire, at Soissons, During their reigns the monarchy was aggrandized by the conquest of Burgundy. Clotaire, the youngest brother, ultimately reunited all the kingdoms [a.d. 558] ; but upon his death they were again divided among his four sons, and brought together a second time by another Clotaire, the grand­son to the first, [a.d. 613.] It is a weary and unprofitable task to follow these changes in detail, through scenes of tumult and bloodshed, in which the eye meets with no sunshine, nor can rest upon any interesting spot. It would be difficult, as Gibbon has justly observed, to find anywhere more vice or less virtue. The names of two queens are distinguished even in that age for the magnitude of their crimes: Fredegonde, the wife of Chilperic, of whose atrocities none have doubted; and Brunehaut, Queen of Austrasia, who has met with advocates in modern times, less, perhaps, from any fair presumptions of her innocence than from compassion for the cruel death which she underwent.

But after Dagobert, son of Clotaire II, the kings of France dwindled into personal insignificance, and are generally treated by later historians as insensati, or idiots. The whole power of the kingdom devolved upon the mayors of the palace, originally officers of the household, through whom petitions or representations were laid before the king The weakness of sovereigns rendered this office important, and still greater weakness suffered it to become elective; men of energetic talents and ambition united it with military command; and the history of France for half a century presents no names more conspicuous than those of Ebroin and Grimoald, mayors of Neustria and Austrasia, the western and eastern divisions of the French monarchy. These, however, met with violent ends; but a more successful usurper of the royal authority was Pepin Heristal, first mayor, and afterwards duke, of Austrasia; who united with almost an avowed sovereignty over that division a paramount command over the French or Neustrian provinces, where nominal kings of the Merovingian family were still permitted to exist. This authority he transmitted to a more renowned hero, his son, Charles Martel, who, after some less important exploits, was called upon to encounter a new and terrible enemy. The Saracens, after subjugating Spain, had penetrated into the very heart of France. Charles Martel gained a complete victory over them between Tours and Poitiers, in which 300,000 Mohammedans are hyperbolically asserted to have fallen. [a.d. 732.] The reward of this victory was the province of Septimania, which the Saracens had conquered from the Visigoths.

Battle of Tours, 10 October 732

Such powerful subjects were not likely to remain long contented without the crown; but the circumstances under which it was transferred from the race of Clovis are connected with one of the most important revolutions in the history of Europe. The mayor Pepin inheriting his father Charles Martel’s talents and ambition, made, in the name and with the consent of the nation, a solemn reference to the Pope Zacharias, as to the deposition of Childeric III, under whose nominal authority he himself was reigning. The decision was favorable; that he who possessed the power should also bear the title of king. The unfortunate Merovingian was dismissed into a convent, and the Franks, with one consent, raised Pepin to the throne, the founder of a more illustrious dynasty. In order to judge of the importance of this revolution to the see of Rome, as well as to France, we must turn our eyes upon the affairs of Italy.

The dominion of the Ostrogoths was annihilated by the arms of Belisarius and Narses in the sixth century, and that nation appears no more in history. But not long afterwards, the Lombards, a people for some time settled in Pannonia, not only subdued that northern part of Italy which has retained their name, but, extending themselves southward, formed the powerful duchies of Spoleto and Benevento. The residence of their kings was in Pavia; but the hereditary vassals, who held those two duchies, might be deemed almost independent sovereigns. The rest of Italy was governed by exarchs, — deputed by the Greek emperors, and fixed at Ravenna. In Rome itself neither the people nor the bishops, who had already conceived in part their schemes of ambition, were much inclined to endure the superiority of Constantinople; yet their disaffection was counterbalanced by the inveterate hatred as well as jealousy, with which they regarded the Lombards. But an impolitic and intemperate persecution, carried on by two or three Greek emperors against a favorite superstition, the — worship of images, excited commotions throughout Italy, of which the Lombards took advantage, and easily wrested the exarchate of Ravenna [a.d. 752] from the eastern empire. It was far from the design of the popes to see their nearest enemies so much aggrandized; and any effectual assistance from the Emperor Constantine Copronymus would have kept Rome still faithful. But having no hope from his arms, and provoked by his obstinate intolerance, the pontiffs had recourse to France; and the service they had rendered to Pepin led to reciprocal obligations of the greatest magnitude. At the request of Stephen II the new King of France descended from the Alps, drove the Lombards from their recent conquests, and conferred them upon the pope. This memorable donation nearly comprised the modern provinces of Romagna and the March of Ancona.

The state of Italy, which had undergone no change for nearly two centuries, was now rapidly verging to a great revolution. [a.d. 768.] Under the shadow of a mighty name the Greek empire had concealed the extent of its decline. That charm was now broken: and the Lombard kingdom, which had hitherto appeared the only competitor in the lists, proved to have lost his own energy in awaiting the occasion for its display. France was far more than a match for the power of Italy, even if she had not been guided by the towering ambition and restless activity of the son of Pepin. It was almost the first exploit of Charlemagne, after the death of his brother Carloman [a.d. 772] had reunited the Frankish empire under his dominion, to subjugate the kingdom of Lombardy, [a.d. 774.] Neither Pavia nor Verona, its most considerable cities, interposed any material delay to his arms: and the chief resistance he encountered was from the dukes of Friuli and Benevento, the latter of whom could never be brought into thorough subjection to the conqueror. Italy, however, be the cause what it might, seems to have tempted Charlemagne far less than the dark forests of Germany. For neither the southern provinces, nor Sicily, could have withstood his power if it had been steadily directed against them. Even Spain hardly drew so much of his attention as the splendor of the prize might naturally have excited. He gained, however, a very important accession to his empire, by conquering from the Saracens the territory contained between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. This was formed into the Spanish March, governed by the Count of Barcelona, part of which at least must be considered as appertaining to France till the twelfth century.

But the most tedious and difficult achievement of Charlemagne was the reduction of the Saxons. The wars with this nation, who occupied nearly the modern circles of Westphalia and Lower Saxony, lasted for thirty years. Whenever the conqueror withdrew his armies, or even his person, the Saxons broke into fresh rebellion, which his unparalleled rapidity of movement seldom failed to crush without delay. From such perseverance on either side, destruction of the weaker could alone result. A large colony of Saxons were finally transplanted into Flanders and Brabant, countries hitherto ill- peopled, in which their descendants preserved the same unconquerable spirit of resistance to oppression. Many fled to the kingdoms of Scandinavia, and, mingling with the Northmen, who were just preparing to run their memorable career, revenged upon the children and subjects of Charlemagne the devastation of Saxony. The remnant embraced Christianity, their aversion to which had been the chief cause of their rebellions, and acknowledged the sovereignty of Charlemagne —a submission which even Witikind, the second Arminius of Germany, after such irresistible conviction of her destiny, did not disdain to make. But they retained, in the main, their own laws; they were governed by a duke of their own nation, if not of their own election; and for many ages they were distinguished by their original character among the nations of Germany.

The successes of Charlemagne on the eastern frontier of his empire against the Sclavonians of Bohemia and Huns or Avars of Pannonia, though obtained with less cost, were hardly less eminent. In all his wars the newly conquered nations, or those whom fear had made dependent allies, were employed to subjugate their neighbors, and the incessant waste of fatigue and the sword was supplied by a fresh population that swelled the expanding circle of dominion. I do not know that the limits of the new western empire are very exactly defined by contemporary writers, nor would it be easy to appreciate the degree of subjection in which the Sclavonian tribes were held. As an organized mass of provinces, regularly governed by imperial officers, it seems to have been nearly bounded, in Germany, by the Elbe, the Saale, the Bohemian mountains, and a line drawn from thence crossing the Danube above Vienna, and prolonged to the Gulf of Istria. Part of Dalmatia was comprised in the duchy of Friuli. In Italy the empire extended not much beyond the modern frontier of Naples, if we exclude, as was the fact, the duchy of Benevento from anything more than a titular subjection. The Spanish boundary, as has been said already, was the Ebro.

A seal was put to the glory of Charlemagne when Leo III, in the name of the Roman people, placed upon his head the imperial crown, [a.d. 800]. His father, Pepin, had borne the title of Patrician, and he had himself exercised, with that title, a regular sovereignty over Rome. Money was coined in his name, and an oath of fidelity was taken by the clergy and people. But the appellation of Emperor seemed to place his authority over all his subjects on a new footing. It was full of high and indefinite pretension, tending to overshadow the free election of the Franks by a fictitious descent from Augustus. A fresh oath of fidelity to him as emperor was demanded from his subjects. His own discretion, however, prevented him from affecting those more despotic prerogatives which the imperial name might still be supposed to convey.

In analyzing the characters of heroes it is hardly possible to separate altogether the share of fortune from their own. The epoch made by Charlemagne in the history of the world, the illustrious families which prided themselves in him as their progenitor, the very legends of romance, which are full of his fabulous exploits, have cast a lustre around his head, and testify the greatness that has embodied itself in his name. None, indeed, of Charlemagne’s wars can be compared with the Saracenic victory of Charles Martel; but that was a contest for freedom, his for conquest; and fame is more partial to successful aggression than to patriotic resistance. As a scholar, his acquisitions were probably little superior to those of his unrespected son; and in several points of view the glory of Charlemagne might be extenuated by an analytical dissection. But rejecting a mode of judging equally uncandid and fallacious, we shall find that he possessed in everything that grandeur of conception which distinguishes extraordinary minds. Like Alexander, he seemed born for universal innovation: in a life restlessly active, we see him reforming the coinage and establishing the legal divisions of money; gathering about him the learned of every country; founding schools and collecting libraries; interfering, but with the tone of a king, in religious controversies; aiming, though prematurely, at the formation of a naval force; attempting, for the sake of commerce, the magnificent enterprise of uniting the Rhine and Danube; and meditating to mould the discordant codes of Roman and barbarian laws into an uniform system.

The great qualities of Charlemagne were, indeed, alloyed by the vices of a barbarian and a conqueror. Nine wives, whom he divorced with very little ceremony, attest the license of his private life, which his temperance and frugality can hardly be said to redeem. Unsparing of blood, though not constitutionally cruel, and wholly indifferent to the means which his ambition prescribed, he beheaded in one day four thousand Saxons—an act of atrocious butchery, after which his persecuting edicts, pronouncing the pain of death against those who refused baptism, or even who ate flesh during Lent, seem scarcely worthy of notice. This union of barbarous ferocity with elevated views of national improvement might suggest the parallel of Peter the Great. But the degrading habits and brute violence of the Muscovite place him at an immense distance from the restorer of the empire.

A strong sympathy for intellectual excellence was the leading characteristic of Charlemagne, and this undoubtedly biassed him in the chief political error of his conduct—that of encouraging the power and pretensions of the hierarchy. But, perhaps, his greatest eulogy is written in the disgraces of succeeding times and the miseries of Europe. He stands alone, like a beacon upon a waste, or a rock in the broad ocean. His sceptre was the bow of Ulysses, which could not be drawn by any weaker hand. In the dark ages of European history the reign of Charlemagne affords a solitary resting-place between two long periods of turbulence and ignominy, deriving the advantages of contrast both from that of the preceding dynasty and of a posterity for whom he had formed an empire which they were unworthy and unequal to maintain.

Pepin, the eldest son of Charlemagne, died before him, leaving a natural son, named Bernard. Even if he had been legitimate, the right of representation was not at all established during these ages; indeed, the general prejudice seems to have inclined against it. Bernard, therefore, kept only the kingdom of Italy, which had been transferred to his father; while Louis, the younger son of Charlemagne, inherited the empire. But, in a short time, Bernard, having attempted a rebellion against his uncle, was sentenced to lose his eyes, which occasioned his death [a.d. 817]—a cruelty more agreeable to the prevailing tone of manners than to the character of Louis, who bitterly reproached himself for the severity he had been persuaded to use.

Under this prince, called by the Italians the Pious, and by the French the Debonair, or Good-natured, the mighty structure of his father’s power began rapidly to decay. I do not know that Louis deserves so much contempt as he has undergone; but historians have in general more indulgence for splendid crimes than for the weaknesses of virtue. There was no defect in Louis’s understanding or courage; he was accomplished in martial exercises, and in all the learning which an education, excellent for that age, could supply. No one was ever more anxious to reform the abuses of administration; and whoever compares his capitularies with those of Charlemagne will perceive that, as a legislator, he was even superior to his father. The fault lay entirely in his heart; and this fault was nothing but a temper too soft and a conscience too strict. It is not wonderful that the empire should have been speedily dissolved; a succession of such men as Charles Martel, Pepin, and Charlemagne, could alone have preserved its integrity; but the misfortunes of Louis and his people were immediately owing to the following errors of his conduct.

Soon after his accession Louis thought fit to associate his eldest son, Lothaire, to the empire, and to confer the provinces of Bavaria and Aquitaine, as subordinate kingdoms, upon the two younger, Louis and Pepin. The step was, in appearance, conformable to his father’s policy, who had acted towards himself in a similar manner. But such measures are not subject to general rules, and exact a careful regard to characters and circumstances. The principle, however, which regulated this division was learned from Charlemagne, and could alone, if strictly pursued, have given unity and permanence to the empire. The elder brother was to preserve his superiority over the others, so that they should neither make peace nor war, nor even give answer to ambassadors, without his consent. Upon the death of either no further partition was to be made; but whichever of his children might become the popular choice was to inherit the whole kingdom, under the same superiority of the head of the family. This compact was, from the beginning, disliked by the younger brothers; and an event, upon which Louis does not seem to have calculated, soon disgusted his colleague Lothaire. Judith of Bavaria, the emperor’s second wife, an ambitious woman, bore him a son, by name Charles, whom both parents were naturally anxious to place on an equal footing with his brothers. But this could only be done at the expense of Lothaire, who was ill disposed to see his empire still further dismembered for this child of a second bed. Louis passed his life in a struggle with three undutiful sons, who abused his paternal kindness by constant rebellions.

These were rendered more formidable by the concurrence of a different class of enemies, whom it had been another error of the emperor to provoke. Charlemagne had assumed a thorough control and supremacy over the clergy; and his son was perhaps still more vigilant in chastising their irregularities, and reforming their rules of discipline. But to this, which they had been compelled to bear at the hands of the first, it was not equally easy for the second to obtain their submission. Louis therefore drew on himself the inveterate enmity of men who united with the turbulence of martial nobles a skill in managing those engines of offence which were peculiar to their order, and to which the implicit devotion of his character laid him very open. Yet, after many vicissitudes of fortune, and many days of ignominy, his wishes were eventually accomplished. [a.d. 840.] Charles, his youngest son, surnamed the Bald, obtained, upon his death, most part of France, while Germany fell to the share of Louis, and the rest of the imperial dominions, with the title, to the eldest, Lothaire. [a.d. 847.] This partition was the result of a sanguinary, though short, contest; and it gave a fatal blow to the empire of the Franks. For the treaty of Verdun, in 843, abrogated the sovereignty that had been attached to the eldest brother and to the imperial name in former partitions: each held his respective kingdom as an independent right. This is the epoch of a final separation between the French and German members of the empire. Its millenary was celebrated by some of the latter nation in 1843.

The subsequent partitions made among the children of these brothers are of too rapid succession to be here related. In about forty years the empire was nearly reunited under Charles the Fat, son of Louis of Germany [Emperor A.D. 881; King of France, 885]; but his short and inglorious reign ended in his deposition, [a.d. 887.] From this time the possession of Italy was contested among her native princes; Germany fell at first to an illegitimate descendant of Charlemagne, and in a short time was entirely lost by his family; two kingdoms, afterwards united, were formed by usurpers out of what was then called Burgundy, and comprised the provinces between the Rhone and the Alps, with Franche Comté, and great part of Switzerland. In France the Carolingian kings continued for another century; but their line was interrupted two or three times by the election or usurpation of a powerful family, the counts of Paris and Orleans, who ended, like the old mayors of the palace, in dispersing the phantoms of royalty they had professed to serve.

[Kings of France: Eudes, a.d. 887; Charles the Simple, 898; Robert ( ?), 922; Ralph, 923; Louis IV, 936; Lothaire, 954; Louis V, 986; counts of Paris.]

Hugh Capet, the representative of this house upon the death of Louis V, placed himself upon the throne; thus founding the third and most permanent race of French sovereigns. Before this happened, the descendants of Charlemagne had sunk into insignificance, and retained little more of France than the city of Laon. The rest of the kingdom had been seized by the powerful nobles, who, with the nominal fidelity of the feudal system, maintained its practical independence and rebellious spirit

These were times of great misery to the people, and the worst, perhaps, that Europe has ever known. Even under Charlemagne, we have abundant proofs of the calamities which the people suffered. The light which shone around him was that of a consuming fire. The free proprietors who had once considered themselves as only called upon to resist foreign invasion, were harassed by endless expeditions, and dragged away to the Baltic Sea, or the banks of the Drave. Many of them, as we learn from his Capitularies, became ecclesiastics to avoid military conscription. But far worse must have been their state under the lax government of succeeding times, when the dukes and counts, no longer checked by the vigorous administration of Charlemagne, were at liberty to play the tyrants in their several territories, of which they now became almost the sovereigns. The poorer landholders accordingly were forced to bow their necks to the yoke; and, either by compulsion or through hope of being better protected, submitted their independent patrimonies to the feudal tenure.

But evils still more terrible than these political abuses were the lot of those nations who had been subject to Charlemagne. They, indeed, may appear to us little better than ferocious barbarians; but they were exposed to the assaults of tribes, in comparison of whom they must be deemed humane and polished. Each frontier of the empire had to dread the attack of an enemy. The coasts of Italy were continually alarmed by the Saracens of Africa, who possessed themselves of Sicily and Sardinia, and became masters of the Mediterranean Sea. Though the Greek dominions in the south of Italy were chiefly exposed to them, they twice insulted and ravaged the territory of Rome [a.d. 846-849]; nor was there any security even in the neighborhood of the maritime Alps, where, early in the tenth century, they settled a piratical colony.

Much more formidable were the foes by whom Germany was assailed. The Slavonians, a widely extended people whose language is still spoken upon half the surface of Europe, had occupied the countries of Bohemia, Poland, and Pannonia, on the eastern confines of the empire, and from the time of Charlemagne acknowledged its superiority. But at the end of the ninth century, a Tartarian tribe, the Hungarians, overspreading that country which since has borne their name, and moving forward like a vast wave, brought a dreadful reverse upon Germany. Their numbers were great, their ferocity untamed. They fought with light cavalry and light armor, trusting to their showers of arrows, against which the swords and lances of the European armies could not avail. The memory of Attila was renewed in the devastations of these savages, who, if they were not his compatriots, resembled them both in their countenances and customs. All Italy, all Germany, and the south of France felt this scourge till Henry the Fowler, and Otho the Great, drove them back by successive victories within their own limits [a.d. 934-954], where, in a short time, they learned peaceful arts, adopted the religion and followed the policy of Christendom.

If any enemies could be more destructive than these Hungarians, they were the pirates of the north, known commonly by the name of Normans. The love of a predatory life seems to have attracted adventurers of different nations to the Scandinavian seas, from whence they infested, not only by maritime piracy, but continual invasions, the northern coasts both of France and Germany. The causes of their sudden appearance are inexplicable, or at least could only be sought in the ancient traditions of Scandinavia. For, undoubtedly, the coasts of France and England were as little protected from depredations under the Merovingian kings, and those of the Heptarchy, as in subsequent times. Yet only one instance of an attack from this side is recorded, and that before the middle of the sixth century till the age of Charlemagne. In 787 the Danes, as we call those northern plunderers, began to infest England, which lay most immediately open to their incursions. Soon afterwards they ravaged the coasts of France. Charlemagne repulsed them by means of his fleets; yet they pillaged a few places during his reign. It is said that, perceiving one day, from a port in the Mediterranean, some Norman vessels, which had penetrated into that sea, he shed tears, in anticipation of the miseries which awaited his empire. In Louis’s reign their depredations upon the coast were more incessant, but they did not penetrate into the inland country till that of Charles the Bald. The wars between that prince and his family, which exhausted France of her noblest blood, the insubordination of the provincial governors, even the instigation of some of Charles’s enemies, laid all open to their inroads. They adopted an uniform plan of warfare both in France and England; sailing up navigable rivers in their vessels of small burden, and fortifying the islands which they occasionally found, they made these intrenchments at once an asylum for their women and children, a repository for their plunder, and a place of retreat from superior force. After pillaging a town they retired to these strongholds or to their ships; and it was not till 872 that they ventured to keep possession of Angers, which, however, they were compelled to evacuate. Sixteen years afterwards they laid siege to Paris, and committed the most ruinous devastations on the neighboring country. As these Normans were unchecked by religious awe, the rich monasteries, which had stood harmless amidst the havoc of Christian war, were overwhelmed in the storm. Perhaps they may have endured some irrecoverable losses of ancient learning; but their complaints are of monuments disfigured, bones of saints and kings dispersed, treasures carried away. St. Denis redeemed its abbot from captivity with six hundred and eighty-five pounds of gold. All the chief abbeys were stripped about the same time, either by the enemy, or for contributions to the public necessity. So impoverished was the kingdom, that in 860 Charles the Bald had great difficulty in collecting three thousand pounds of silver to subsidize a body of Normans against their countrymen. The kings of France, too feeble to prevent or repel these invaders, had recourse to the palliative of buying peace at their hands, or rather precarious armistices, to which reviving thirst of plunder soon put an end. At length Charles the Simple, in 918, ceded a great province, which they had already partly occupied, partly rendered desolate, and which has derived from them the name of Normandy. Ignominious as this appears, it proved no impolitic step. Rollo, the Norman chief, with all his subjects, became Christians and Frenchmen; and the kingdom was at once relieved from a terrible enemy, and strengthened by a race of hardy colonists.

The accession of Hugh Capet had not the immediate effect of restoring the royal authority over France, [a.d. 987.] His own very extensive fief was now, indeed, united to the crown; but a few great vassals occupied the remainder of the kingdom. Six of these obtained, at a subsequent time, the exclusive appellation of peers of France,—the Count of Flanders, whose fief stretched from the Scheldt to the Somme; the Count of Champagne; the Duke of Normandy, to whom Brittany did homage; the Duke of Burgundy, on whom the Count of Nivernois seems to have depended; the Duke of Aquitaine, whose territory, though less than the ancient kingdom of that name, comprehended Poitou, Limousin, and most of Guienne, with the feudal superiority over the Angoumois, and some other central districts; and lastly the Count of Toulouse, who possessed Languedoc, with the small countries of Quercy and Rouergue, and the superiority over Auvergne. Besides these six, the Duke of Gascony, not long afterwards united with Aquitaine, the counts of Anjou, Ponthieu, and Vermandois, the Viscount of Bourges, the lords of Bourbon and Coucy, with one or two other vassals, held immediately of the last Carolingian kings. This was the aristocracy, of which Hugh Capet usurped the direction; for the suffrage of no general assembly gave a sanction to his title. On the death of Louis V he took advantage of the absence of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, who, as the deceased king’s uncle, was nearest heir, and procured his own consecration at Rheims. At first he was by no means acknowledged in the kingdom; but his contest with Charles proving successful, the chief vassals ultimately gave at least a tacit consent to the usurpation, and permitted the royal name to descend undisputed upon his posterity. But this was almost the sole attribute of sovereignty which the first kings of the third dynasty enjoyed. For a long period before and after the accession of that family France has, properly speaking, no national history. The character or fortune of those who were called its kings were little more important to the majority of the nation than those of foreign princes. [Robert, a.d. 996; Henry I, 1031; Philip, 1060.] Undoubtedly, the degree of influence which they exercised with respect to the vassals of the crown varied according to their power and their proximity. Over Guienne and Toulouse the first four Capets had very little authority; nor do they seem to have ever received as­sistance from them either in civil or national wars. With provinces nearer to their own domains, such as Normandy and Flanders, they were frequently engaged in alliance or hostility; but each seemed rather to proceed from the policy of independent states than from the relation of a sovereign towards his subjects.

It should be remembered that, when the fiefs of Paris and Orleans are said to have been reunited by Hugh Capet to the crown, little more is understood than the feudal superiority over the vassals of these provinces. As the kingdom of Charlemagne’s posterity was split into a number of great fiefs, so each of these contained many barons, possessing exclusive immunities within their own territories, waging war at their pleasure, administering justice to their military tenants and other subjects, and free from all control beyond the conditions of the feudal compact. At the accession of Louis VI in 1108, the cities of Paris, Orleans, and Bourges, with the immediately adjacent districts, formed the most considerable portion of the royal domain. A number of petty barons, with their fortified castles, intercepted the communication between these, and waged war against the king almost under the walls of his capital. It cost Louis a great deal of trouble to reduce the lords of Montlhery, and other places within a few miles of Paris. Under this prince, however, who had more activity than his predecessors, the royal authority considerably revived. From his reign we may date the systematic rivalry of the French and English monarchies. Hostilities had several times occurred between Philip I and the two Williams; but the wars that began under Louis VI lasted, with no long interruption, for three centuries and a half, and form, indeed, the most leading feature of French history during the middle ages. Of all the royal vassals, the dukes of Normandy were the proudest and most powerful. Though they had submitted to do homage, they could not forget that they came in originally by force, and that in real strength they were fully equal to their sovereign. Nor had the conquest of England any tendency to diminish their pretensions.

Louis VII ascended the throne with better prospects than his father, [a.d. 1137.] He had married Eleanor, heiress of the great duchy of Guienne. But this union, which promised an immense accession of strength to the crown, was rendered unhappy by the levities of that princess. Repudiated by Louis, who felt rather as a husband than a king, Eleanor immediately married Henry II of England, who, already inheriting Normandy from his mother and Anjou from his father, became possessed of more than one-half of France, and an overmatch for Louis, even if the great vassals of the crown had been always ready to maintain its supremacy. One might venture, perhaps, to conjecture that the sceptre of France would eventually have passed from the Capets to the Plantagenets, if the vexatious quarrel with Becket at one time, and the successive rebellions fomented by Louis at a later period, had not embarrassed the great talents and ambitious spirit of Henry.

But the scene quite changed when Philip Augustus, son of Louis VII, came upon the stage, [a.d. 1180.] No prince comparable to him in systematic ambition and military enterprise had reigned in France since Charlemagne. From his reign the French monarchy dates the recovery of its lustre. He wrested from the Count of Flanders the Vermandois (that part of Picardy which borders on the Isle of France and Champagne), and subsequently, the county of Artois. But the most important conquests of Philip were obtained against the kings of England. [Conquest of Normandy, 1203.] Even Richard I, with all his prowess, lost ground in struggling against an adversary not less active, and more politic, than himself. But when John not only took possession of his brother’s dominions, but confirmed his usurpation by the murder, as was very probably surmised, of the heir, Philip, artfully taking advantage of the general indignation, summoned him as his vassal to the court of his peers. John demanded a safe-conduct. Willingly, said Philip; let him come unmolested. And return? inquired the English envoy. If the judgment of his peers permit him, replied the king. By all the saints of France, he exclaimed, when further pressed, he shall not return unless acquitted. The Bishop of Ely still remonstrated that the Duke of Normandy could not come without the King of England; nor would the barons of that country permit their sovereign to run the risk of death or imprisonment. What of that, my lord bishop? cried Philip. It is well known that my vassal the Duke of Normandy acquired England by force. But if a subject obtains any accession of dignity, shall his paramount lord therefore lose his rights ?

It may be doubted whether, in thus citing John before his court, the King of France did not stretch his feudal sovereignty beyond its acknowledged limits. Arthur was certainly no immediate vassal of the crown for Brittany; and, though he had done homage to Philip for Anjou and Maine, yet a subsequent treaty had abrogated his investiture, and confirmed his uncle in the possession of those provinces. But the vigor of Philip, and the meanness of his adversary, cast a shade over all that might be novel or irregular in these proceedings. John, not appearing at his summons, was declared guilty of felony, and his fiefs confiscated. The execution of this sentence was not intrusted to a dilatory arm. Philip poured his troops into Normandy, and took town after town, while the King of England, infatuated by his own wickedness and cowardice, made hardly an attempt at defence. In two years Normandy, Maine, and Anjou were irrecoverably lost. Poitou and Guienne resisted longer; but the conquest of the first was completed by Louis VIII, successor of Philip [a.d. 1223], and the subjection of the second seemed drawing near, when the arms of Louis were diverted to different but scarcely less advantageous objects.

The country of Languedoc, subject to the counts of Toulouse, had been unconnected, beyond any other part of France, with the kings of the house of Capet. Louis VII, having married his sister to the reigning count, and travelled himself through the country, began to exercise some degree of authority, chiefly in confirming the rights of ecclesiastical bodies, who were vain, perhaps, of this additional sanction to the privileges which they already possessed. But the remoteness of their situation, with a difference in language and legal usages, still kept the people of this province apart from those of the north of France.

About the middle of the twelfth century, certain religious opinions, which it is not easy, nor, for our present purpose, material to define, but, upon every supposition, exceedingly adverse to those of the church, began to spread over Languedoc. Those who imbibed them have borne the name of Albigeois, though they were in no degree peculiar to the district of Albi. In despite of much preaching and some persecution, these errors made a continual progress; till Innocent III, in 1198, despatched commissaries, the seed of the inquisition, with ample powers both to investigate and to chastise. Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, whether inclined towards the innovators, as was then the theme of reproach, or, as is more probable, disgusted with the insolent interference of the pope and his missionaries, provoked them to pronounce a sentence of excommunication against him. [a.d. 1208.] Though this was taken off, he was still suspected; and upon the assassination of one of the inquisitors, in which Raymond had no con­cern, Innocent published a crusade both against the count and his subjects, calling upon the King of France, and the nobility of that kingdom, to take up the cross, with all the indulgences usually held out as allurements to religious war­fare. Though Philip would not interfere, a prodigious number of knights undertook this enterprise, led partly by ecclesiastics, and partly by some of the first barons in France. It was prosecuted with every atrocious barbarity which superstition, the mother of crimes, could inspire. Languedoc, a country, for that age, flourishing and civilized, was laid waste by these desolators; her cities burned; her inhabitants swept away by fire and the sword. And this was to punish a fanaticism ten thousand times more innocent than their own, and errors which, according to the worst imputations, left the laws of humanity and the peace of social life unimpaired.

The crusaders were commanded by Simon de Montfort, a man, like Cromwell, whose intrepidity, hypocrisy, and ambition, marked him for the hero of a holy war. The energy of such a mind, at the head of an army of enthusiastic warriors, may well account for successes which then appeared miraculous. But Montfort was cut off before he could realize his ultimate object, an independent principality; and Raymond was able to bequeath the inheritance of his ancestors to his son. Rome, however, was not yet appeased; upon some new pretence she raised up a still more formidable enemy against the younger Raymond. Louis VIII suffered himself to be diverted from the conquest of Guienne, to take the cross against the supposed patron of heresy. After a short and successful war, Louis, dying prematurely, left the crown of France to a son only twelve years old. But the Count of Toulouse was still pursued, till, hopeless of safety in so unequal a struggle, he concluded a treaty upon very hard terms. By this he ceded the greater part of Languedoc; and, giving his daughter in marriage to Alphonso, brother of Louis IX, confirmed to them, and to the king in failure of their descendants, the reversion of the rest, in exclusion of any other children whom he might have. Thus fell the ancient house of Toulouse, through one of those strange combinations of fortune, which thwart the natural course of human prosperity, and disappoint the plans of wise policy and beneficent government.

The rapid progress of royal power under Philip Augustus and his son had scarcely given the great vassals time to reflect upon the change which it produced in their situation. The crown, with which some might singly have measured their forces, was now an equipoise to their united weight. And such an union was hard to be accomplished among men not always very sagacious in policy, and divided by separate interests and animosities. They were not, however, insensible to the crisis of their feudal liberties; and the minority of Louis IX, guided only by his mother, the regent, Blanche of Castile, seemed to offer a favorable opportunity for recovering their former situation. Some of the most considerable barons, the counts of Brittany, Champagne, and La Marche, had, during the time of Louis VIII, shown an unwillingness to push the Count of Toulouse too far, if they did not even keep up a secret under­standing with him. They now broke out into open rebellion; but the address of Blanche detached some from the league, and her firmness subdued the rest. For the first fifteen years of Louis’s reign, the struggle was frequently renewed; till repeated humiliations convinced the refractory that the throne was no longer to be shaken. A prince so feeble as Henry III was unable to afford them that aid from England, which, if his grandfather or son had then reigned, might probably have lengthened these civil wars.

But Louis IX had methods of preserving his ascendency very different from military prowess. That excellent prince was perhaps the most eminent pattern of unswerving probity and Christian strictness of conscience that ever held the sceptre in any country. There is a peculiar beauty in the reign of St. Louis, because it shows the inestimable benefit which a virtuous king may confer on his people, without possessing any distinguished genius. For nearly half a century that he governed France there is not the smallest want of moderation or disinterestedness in his actions; and yet he raised the influence of the monarchy to a much higher point than the most ambitious of his predecessors. To the surprise of his own and later times, he restored great part of his conquests to Henry III, whom he might naturally hope to have expelled from France. It would indeed have been a tedious work to conquer Guienne, which was full of strong places; and the subjugation of such a province might have alarmed the other vassals of his crown. But it is the privilege only of virtuous minds to perceive that wisdom resides in moderate counsels: no sagacity ever taught a selfish and ambitious sovereign to forego the sweetness of immediate power. An ordinary king, in the circumstances of the French monarchy, would have fomented, or, at least, have rejoiced in, the dissensions which broke out among the principal vassals; Louis constantly employed himself to reconcile them. In this, too, his benevolence had all the effects of far­sighted policy. It had been the practice of his three last predecessors to interpose their mediation in behalf of the less powerful classes, the clergy, the inferior nobility, and the inhabitants of chartered towns. Thus the supremacy of the crown became a familiar idea; but the perfect integrity of St. Louis wore away all distrust, and accustomed even the most jealous feudatories to look upon him as their judge and legislator. And as the royal authority was hitherto shown only in its most amiable prerogatives, the dispensation of favor, and the redress of wrong, few were watchful enough to remark the transition of the French constitution from a feudal league to an absolute monarchy.

It was perhaps fortunate for the display of St. Louis’s virtues that the throne had already been strengthened by the less innocent exertions of Philip Augustus and Louis VIII. A century earlier his mild and scrupulous character, unsustained by great actual power, might not have inspired sufficient awe. But the crown was now grown so formidable, and Louis was so eminent for his firmness and bravery, qualities without which every other virtue would have been ineffectual, that no one thought it safe to run wantonly into rebellion, while his disinterested administration gave no one a pretext for it. Hence the latter part of his reign was altogether tranquil, and employed in watching over the public peace and the security of travellers; administering justice personally, or by the best counsellors; and compiling that code of feudal customs called the Establishments of St. Louis, which is the first monument of legislation after the accession of the house of Capet. Not satisfied with the justice of his own conduct, Louis aimed at that act of virtue which is rarely practised by private men, and had perhaps no example among kings—restitution. Commissaries were appointed to inquire what possessions had been unjustly annexed to the royal domain during the last two reigns. These were restored to the proprietors, or, where length of time had made it difficult to ascertain the claimant, their value was distributed among the poor.

It has been hinted already that all this excellence of heart in Louis IX was not attended with that strength of understanding, which is necessary, we must allow, to complete the usefulness of a sovereign. During his minority Blanche of Castile, his mother, had filled the office of Regent with great courage and firmness. But after he grew up to manhood, her influence seems to have passed the limit which gratitude and piety would have assigned to it; and, as her temper was not very meek or popular, exposed the king to some degree of contempt. He submitted even to be restrained from the society of his wife Margaret, daughter of Raymond Count of Provence, a princess of great virtue and conjugal affection. Joinville relates a curious story, characteristic of Blanche’s arbitrary conduct, and sufficiently derogatory to Louis.

But the principal weakness of this king, which almost effaced all the good effects of his virtues, was superstition. It would be idle to sneer at those habits of abstemiousness and mortification which were part of the religion of his age, and, at the worst, were only injurious to his own comfort. But he had other prejudices, which, though they may be forgiven, must never be defended. No man was ever more impressed than St. Louis with a belief in the duty of exterminating all enemies to his own faith. With these he thought no layman ought to risk himself in the perilous ways of reasoning, but to make answer with his sword as stoutly as a strong arm and a fiery zeal could carry that argument.” Though, fortunately for his fame, the persecution against the Albigeois, which had been the disgrace of his father's short reign, was at an end before he reached manhood, he suffered an hypocritical monk to establish a tribunal at Paris for the suppres­sion of heresy, where many innocent persons suffered death.

But no events in Louis’s life were more memorable than his two crusades, which lead us to look back on the nature and circumstances of that most singular phenomenon in European history. Though the crusades involved all the western nations of Europe, without belonging particularly to any one, yet, as France was more distinguished than the rest in most of those enterprises, I shall introduce the subject as a sort of digression from the main course of French history.

Even before the violation of Palestine by the Saracen arms it had been a prevailing custom among the Christians of Europe to visit those scenes rendered interesting by religion, partly Through delight in the effects of local association, partly in obedience to the prejudices or commands of superstition. These pilgrimages became more frequent in later times, in spite, perhaps in consequence, of the danger and hardships which attended them. For a while the Mohammedan possessors of Jerusalem permitted, or even encouraged, a devotion which they found lucrative; but this was interrupted when­ever the ferocious insolence with which they regarded all infidels got the better of their rapacity. During the eleventh century, when, from increasing superstition and some particular fancies, the pilgrims were more numerous than ever, a change took place in the government of Palestine, which was overrun by the Turkish hordes from the North. These barbarians treated the visitors of Jerusalem with still greater contumely, mingling with their Mohammedan bigotry, a consciousness of strength and courage, and a scorn of the Christians, whom they knew only by the debased natives of Greece and Syria, or by these humble and defenceless palmers. When such insults became known throughout Europe, they excited a keen sensation of resentment among nations equally courageous and devout, which, though wanting as yet any definite means of satisfying itself, was ripe for whatever favorable conjuncture might arise.

Twenty years before the first crusade Gregory VII had projected the scheme of embodying Europe in arms against Asia—a scheme worthy of his daring mind, and which, perhaps, was never forgotten by Urban II, who in everything loved to imitate his great predecessor. This design of Gregory was founded upon the supplication of the Greek emperor Michael, which was renewed by Alexius Comnenus to Urban with increased importunity. The Turks had now taken Nice, and threatened, from the opposite shore, the very walls of Constantinople. Everyone knows whose hand held the torch to that inflammable mass of enthusiasm that pervaded Europe; the hermit of Picardy, who, roused by witnessed wrongs and imagined visions, journeyed from land to land, the apostle of an holy war. The preaching of Peter was powerfully seconded by Urban. In the councils of Piacenza and of Clermont the deliverance of Jerusalem was eloquently recommended and exultingly undertaken. “It is the will of God!” was the tumultuous cry that broke from the heart and lips of the assembly at Clermont; and these words afford at once the most obvious and most certain explanation of the leading principle of the crusades. Later writers, incapable of sympathizing with the blind fervor of zeal, or anxious to find a pretext for its effect somewhat more congenial to the spirit of our times, have sought political reasons for that which resulted only from predominant affections. No suggestion of these will, I believe, be found in contemporary historians. To rescue the Greek empire from its imminent peril, and thus to secure Christendom from enemies who professed towards it eternal hostility, might have been a legitimate and magnanimous ground of interference; but it operated scarcely, or not at all, upon those who took the cross. It argues, indeed, strange ignorance of the eleventh century to ascribe such refinements of later times even to the princes of that age. The Turks were no doubt repelled from the neighborhood of Constantinople by the crusaders; but this was a collateral effect of their enterprise. Nor had they any disposition to serve the interest of the Greeks, whom they soon came to hate, and not entirely without provocation, with almost as much animosity as the Moslems themselves.

Every means was used to excite an epidemical frenzy: the remission of penance, the dispensation from those practices of self-denial which superstition imposed or suspended at pleasure, the absolution of all sins, and the assurance of eternal felicity. None doubted that such as perished in the war received immediately the reward of martyrdom. False miracles and fanatical prophecies, which were never so frequent, wrought up the enthusiasm to a still higher pitch. And these devotional feelings, which are usually thwarted and balanced by other passions, fell in with every motive that could influence the men of that time; with curiosity, restlessness, the love of license, thirst for war, emulation, ambition. Of the princes who assumed the cross, some probably from the beginning speculated upon forming independent establishments in the East. In later periods the temporal benefits of undertaking a crusade undoubtedly blended themselves with less selfish considerations. Men resorted to Palestine, as in modern times they have done to the colonies, in order to redeem their fame, or repair their fortune. Thus Gui de Lusignan, after dying from France, for murder, was ultimately raised to the throne of Jerusalem. To the more vulgar class were held out induce­ments which, though absorbed in the overruling fanaticism of the first crusade, might be exceedingly efficacious when it began rather to flag. During the time that a crusader bore the cross he was free from suit for his debts, and the interest of them was entirely abolished; lie was exempted, in some instances at least, from taxes, and placed under the protection of the church, so that he could not be impleaded in any civil court, except on criminal charges, or disputes relating to land.

None of the sovereigns of Europe took a part in the first crusade; but many of their chief vassals, great part of the inferior nobility, and a countless multitude of the common people. The priests left their parishes, and the monks their cells; and though the peasantry were then in general bound to the soil, we find no check given to their emigration for this cause. Numbers of women and children swelled the crowd; it appeared a sort of sacrilege to repel anyone from a work which was considered as the manifest design of Providence. But if it were lawful to interpret the will of Providence by events, few undertakings have been more branded by its disapprobation than the crusades. So many crimes and so much misery have seldom been accumulated in so short a space as in the three years of the first expedition. We should be warranted by contemporary writers in stating the loss of the Christians alone during this period at nearly a million; but at the least computation it must have exceeded half that number. To engage in the crusade, and to perish in it, were almost synonymous. Few of those myriads who were mus­tered in the plains of Nice returned to gladden their friends in Europe with the story of their triumph at Jerusalem. Besieging alternately and besieged in Antioch, they drained to the lees the cup of misery: three hundred thousand sat down before that place; next year there remained but a sixth part to pursue the enterprise. But their losses were least in the field of battle; the intrinsic superiority of European prowess was constantly displayed; the angel of Asia, to apply the bold language of our poet, high and unmatchable, where her rival was not, became a fear; and the Christian lances bore all before them in their shock from Nice to Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem, [a.d. 1099.] It was here, where their triumph was consummated, that it was stained with the most atrocious massacre; not limited to the hour of resistance, but renewed deliberately even after that famous penitential procession to the holy sepulchre, which might have calmed their ferocious dispositions, if, through the misguided enthusiasm of the enterprise, it had not been rather calculated to excite them.

The conquests obtained at such a price by the first crusade were chiefly comprised in the maritime parts of Syria. Except the state of Edessa beyond the Euphrates, which, in its best days, extended over great part of Mesopotamia, the Latin possessions never reached more than a few leagues from the sea. Within the barrier of Mount Libanus their arms might be feared, but their power was never established; and the prophet was still invoked in the mosques of Aleppo and Damascus. The principality of Antioch to the north, the kingdom of Jerusalem with its feudal dependencies of Tripoli and Tiberias to the south, were assigned, the one to Boemond, a brother of Robert Guiscard, Count of Apulia, the other to Godfrey of Boulogne, whose extraordinary merit had justly raised him to a degree of influence with the chief crusaders that has been sometimes confounded with a legitimate authority. In the course of a few years Tyre, Ascalon, and the other cities upon the sea-coast, were subjected by the successors of Godfrey on the throne of Jerusalem. But as their enemies had been stunned, not killed, by the western storm, the Latins were constantly molested by the Mohammedans of Egypt and Syria. They were exposed as the outposts of Christendom, with no respite and few resources. A second crusade, in which the Emperor Conrad III and Louis VII of France were engaged, each with seventy thousand cavalry, made scarce any diversion [a.d. 1147]; and that vast army wasted away in the passage of Natolia.

The decline of the Christian establishments in the East is ascribed by William of Tyre to the extreme viciousness of their manners, to the adoption of European arms by the Orientals, and to the union of the Mohammedan principalities under a single chief. Without denying the operation of these causes, and especially the last, it is easy to perceive one more radical than all the three, the inadequacy of their means of self-defence. The kingdom of Jerusalem was guarded only, exclusive of European volunteers, by the feudal service of eight hundred and sixty-six knights, attended each by four archers on horse­back, by a militia of five thousand and seventy-five burghers, and by a conscription, in great exigencies, of the remaining population. William of Tyre mentions an army of one thousand three hundred horse and fifteen thousand foot, as the greatest which had ever been collected, and predicts the utmost success from it, if wisely conducted. This was a little before the irruption of Saladin. In the last fatal battle Lusignan seems to have had somewhat a larger force. Nothing can more strikingly evince the ascendency of Europe than the resistance of these Frankish acquisitions in Syria during nearly two hundred years. Several of their victories over the Moslems were obtained against such disparity of numbers, that they may be compared with whatever is most illustrious in history or romance. These perhaps were less due to the descendants of the first crusaders, settled in the Holy Land, than to those volunteers from Europe whom martial ardor and religious zeal impelled to the service. It was the penance commonly im­posed upon men of rank for the most heinous crimes, to serve a number of years under the banner of the cross. Thus a perpetual supply of warriors was poured in from Europe; and in this sense the crusades may be said to have lasted without intermission during the whole period of the Latin settlements. Of these defenders the most renowned were the military orders of the Knights of the Temple and of the Hospital of St. John; instituted, the one in 1124, the other in 1118, for the sole purpose of protecting the Holy Land. The Teutonic order, established in 1190, when the kingdom of Jerusalem was falling, soon diverted its schemes of holy warfare to a very different quarter of the world. Large estates, as well in Palestine as throughout Europe, enriched the two former institutions; but the pride, rapaciousness, and misconduct of both, especially of the Templars, seem to have balanced the advantages derived from their valor. At length the famous Saladin, usurping the throne of a feeble dynasty which had reigned in Egypt, broke in upon the Christians of Jerusalem; the king and the kingdom fell into his hands [a.d. 1187]; nothing remained but a few strong towns upon the sea-coast.

These misfortunes roused once more the princes of Europe, and the third crusade was undertaken by three of her sovereigns, the greatest in personal estimation as well as dignity—by the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, Philip Augustus of France, and our own Richard Coeur de Lion. [a.d. 1189.] But this, like the preceding enterprise, failed of permanent effect; and those feats of romantic prowess which made the name of Richard so famous both in Europe and Asia proved only the total inefficacy of all exertions in an attempt so impracticable; Palestine was never the scene of another crusade. One great armament was diverted to the siege of Constantinople [a.d. 1204], and another wasted in fruitless attempts upon Egypt, [a.d. 1218.] The Emperor Frederic II afterwards procured the restoration of Jerusalem by the Saracens; but the Christian princes of Syria were unable to defend it, and their possessions were gradually reduced to the maritime towns. Acre, the last of these, was finally taken by storm in 1291; and its ruin closes the history of the Latin dominion in Syria, which Europe had already ceased to protect.

The two last crusades were undertaken by St. Louis, [a.d. , 1248.] In the first he was attended by 2,800 knights and 50,000 ordinary troops. He landed at Damietta in Egypt, for that country was now deemed the key of the Holy Land, and easily made himself master of the city. But advancing up the country, he found natural impediments as well as enemies in his way; the Turks assailed him with Greek fire, an instrument of warfare almost as surprising and terrible as gunpowder; he lost his brother the Count of Artois, with many knights, at Massoura, near Cairo; and began too late a retreat towards Damietta. Such calamities now fell upon this devoted army as have scarce ever been surpassed; hunger and want of every kind, aggravated by an unsparing pestilence. At length the king was made prisoner, and very few of the army escaped the Turkish cimeter in battle or in captivity. Four hundred thousand livres were paid as a ransom for Louis. He returned to France, and passed nearly twenty years in the exercise of those virtues which are his best title to canonization. But the fatal illusions of superstition were still always at his heart; nor did it fail to be painfully observed by his subjects that he still kept the cross upon his garment. His last expedition was originally designed for Jerusalem. But he had received some intimation that the King of Tunis was desirous of embracing Christianity. That these intentions might be carried into effect, he sailed out of his way to the coast of Africa, and laid siege to that city. A fever here put an end to his life, sacrificed to that ruling passion which never would have forsaken him. But he had survived the spirit of the crusades; the disastrous expedition to Egypt had cured his sub­jects, though not himself, of their folly; his son, after making terms with Tunis, returned to France; the Christians were suffered to lose what they still retained in the Holy Land; and though many princes in subsequent ages talked loudly of renewing the war, the promise, if it were ever sincere, was never accomplished.

Louis IX had increased the royal domain by the annexation of several counties and other less important fiefs; but soon after the accession of Philip III [a.d. 1270] (surnamed the Bold) it received a far more considerable augmentation. Alphonso, the late king’s brother, had been invested with the county of Poitou, ceded by Henry III, together with part of Auvergne and of Saintonge; and held also, as has been said before, the remains of the great fief of Toulouse, in right of his wife Jane, heiress of Raymond VII. Upon his death, and that of his countess, which happened about the same time, the king en­tered into possession of all these territories, [a.d. 1271.] This acquisition brought the sovereigns of France into contact with new neighbors, the kings of Aragon and the powers of Italy. The first great and lasting foreign war which they carried on was that of Philip III. and Philip IV against the former kingdom, excited by the insurrection of Sicily, [a.d. 1270.] Though effecting no change in the boundaries of their dominions, this war may be deemed a sort of epoch in the history of France and Spain, as well as in that of Italy, to which it more peculiarly belongs.

There still remained five great and ancient fiefs of the French crown; Champagne, Guienne, Flanders, Burgundy, and Brittany. But Philip IV [a.d. 1285], usually called the Fair, married the heiress of the first, a little before his father’s death; and although he governed that county in her name without pretending to reunite it to the royal domain, it was, at least in a political sense, no longer a part of the feudal body. With some of his other vassals Philip used more violent methods. A parallel might be drawn between this prince and Philip Augustus. But while in ambition, violence of temper and un­principled rapacity, as well as in the success of their attempts to establish an absolute authority, they may be considered as nearly equal, we may remark this difference, that Philip the Fair, who was destitute of military talents, gained those ends by dissimulation which his predecessor had reached by force.

The duchy of Guienne, though somewhat abridged of its original extent, was still by far the most considerable of the French fiefs, even independently of its connection with England. Philip, by dint of perfidy, and by the egregious incapacity of Edmund, brother of Edward I, contrived to obtain, and to keep for several years, the possession of this great province. A quarrel among some French and English sailors hav­ing provoked retaliation, till a sort of piratical war commenced between their respective countries, [a.d. 1292] Edward, as Duke of Guienne, was summoned into the king’s court to an­swer for the trespass of his subjects. Upon this he despatched his brother to settle terms of reconciliation, with fuller powers than should have been intrusted to so credulous a negotiator. Philip so outwitted this prince, through a fictitious treaty, as to procure from him the surrender of all the fortresses in Guienne. He then threw off the mask, and after again summoning Edward to appear, pronounced the confiscation of his fief. This business is the greatest blemish in the political character of Edward. But his eagerness about the acquisition of Scotland rendered him less sensible to the danger of a possession in many respects more valuable; and the spirit of resistance among the English nobility, which his arbitrary measures had provoked, broke out very opportunely for Philip, to thwart every effort for the recovery of Guienne by arms. [a.d. 1303.] But after repeated suspensions of hostilities a treaty was finally concluded, by which Philip restored the province, on the agreement of a marriage between his daughter Isabel and the heir of England.

To this restitution he was chiefly induced by the ill success that attended his arms in Flanders, another of the great fiefs which this ambitious monarch had endeavored to confiscate. We have not, perhaps, as clear evidence of the original injustice of his proceedings towards the Count of Flanders as in the case of Guienne; but he certainly twice detained his person, once after drawing him on some pretext to his court, and again, in violation of the faith pledged by his generals. The Flemings made, however, so vigorous a resistance, that Philip was unable to reduce that small country; and in one famous battle at Courtray they discomfited a powerful army with that utter loss and ignominy to which the undisciplined impetuosity of the French nobles was pre-eminently exposed. [a.d. 1302.]

Two other acquisitions of Philip the Fair deserve notice; that of the counties of Angouleme and La Marche, upon a sentence of forfeiture (and, as it seems, a very harsh one) passed against the reigning count; and that of the city of Lyons, and its adjacent territory, which had not even feudally been subject to the crown of France for more than three hundred years. Lyons was the dowry of Matilda, daughter of Louis IV, on her marriage with Conrad, King of Burgundy, and was bequeathed with the rest of that kingdom by Rodolph, in 1032, to the empire. Frederic Barbarossa conferred upon the Archbishop of Lyons all regalian rights over the city, with the title of Imperial Vicar. France seems to have had no concern with it, till St. Louis was called in as a mediator in dis­putes between the chapter and the city, during a vacancy of the see, and took the exercise of jurisdiction upon himself for the time. Philip III, having been chosen arbitrator in similar circumstances, insisted, before he would restore the jurisdic­tion, upon an oath of fealty from the new archbishop. This oath, which could be demanded, it seems, by no right but that of force, continued to be taken, till, in 1310, an archbishop resisting what he had thought an usurpation, the city was besieged by Philip IV, and, the inhabitants not being unwilling to submit, was finally united to the French crown.

Philip the Fair left three sons, who successively reigned in France; Louis, surnamed Hutin [Louis X, a.d. 1314], Philip the Long, and Charles the Fair; with a daughter, Isabel, married to Edward II of England. Louis, the eldest, survived his father little more than a year, leaving one daughter, and his queen pregnant. The circumstances that ensued require to be accurately stated. Louis had possessed, in right of his mother, the kingdom of Navarre, with the counties of Champagne and Brie. Upon his death, Philip, his next brother [Philip V, a.d. 1315], assumed the regency both of France and Navarre; and not long afterwards entered into a treaty with Eudes, Duke of Burgundy, uncle of the Princess Jane, Louis’s daughter, by which her eventual rights to the succession were to be regulated. It was agreed that, in case the queen should be delivered of a daughter, these two princesses, or the survivor of them, should take the grandmother’s inheritance, Navarre and Champagne, on releasing all claim to the throne of France. But this was not to take place till their age of consent, when, if they should refuse to make such re­nunciation, their claim was to remain, and right to be done to them therein: but, in return, the release made by Philip of Navarre and Champagne was to be null. In the meantime, he was to hold the government of France, Navarre, and Champagne, receiving homage of vassals in all these countries as governor; saving the right of a male heir to the late king, in the event of whose birth the treaty was not to take effect.

This convention was made on the 17th of July, 1316; and on the 15th of November the queen brought into the world a 6on, John I (as some called him), who died in four days. The conditional treaty was now become absolute; in spirit, at least, if any cavil might be raised about the expression; and Philip was, by his own agreement, precluded from taking any other title than that of regent or governor, until the princess Jane should attain the age to concur in or disclaim the provisional contract of her uncle. Instead of this, however, he procured himself to be consecrated at Rheims; though, on account of the avowed opposition of the Duke of Burgundy, and even of his own brother Charles, it was thought prudent to shut the gates during the ceremony, and to dispose guards throughout the town. Upon his return to Paris, an assembly composed of prelates, barons, and burgesses of that city, was convened, who acknowledged him as their lawful sovereign, and, if we may believe an historian, expressly declared that a woman was incapable of succeeding to the crown of France. The Duke of Burgundy, however, made a show of supporting his niece’s interests, till, tempted by the prospect of a marriage with the daughter of Philip, he shamefully betrayed her cause, and gave up in her name, for an inconsiderable pension, not only her disputed claim to the whole monarchy, but her unquestionable right to Navarre and Champagne. I have been rather minute in stating these details, because the transaction is misrepresented by every historian, not excepting those who have written since the publication of the documents which illustrate it.

In this contest, every way memorable, but especially on account of that which sprung out of it, the exclusion of females from the throne of France was first publicly discussed. The French writers almost unanimously concur in asserting that such an exclusion was built upon a fundamental maxim of their government. No written law, nor even, as far as I know, the direct testimony of any ancient writer, has been brought forward to confirm this position. For as to the text of the Salic law, which was frequently quoted, and has indeed given a name to this exclusion of females, it can only by a doubtful and refined analogy be considered as bearing any relation to the succession of the crown. It is certain nevertheless that, from the time of Clovis, no woman had ever reigned in France; and although not an instance of a sole heiress had occurred before, yet some of the Merovingian kings left daughters, who might, if not rendered incapable by their sex, have shared with their brothers in partitions then commonly made. But, on the other hand, these times were gone quite out of memory, and France had much in the analogy of her existing usages to reconcile her to a female reign. The crown resembled a great fief; and the great fiefs might universally descend to women. Even at the consecration of Philip himself, Maud, Countess of Artois, held the crown over his head among the other peers. And it was scarcely beyond the recollection of persons living that Blanche had been legitimate regent of France during the minority of St. Louis.

For these reasons, and much more from the provisional treaty concluded between Philip and the Duke of Burgundy, it may be fairly inferred that the Salic law, as it was called, was not so fixed a principle at that time as has been contended. But however this may be, it received at the accession of Philip the Long a sanction which subsequent events more thoroughly confirmed. Philip himself leaving only three daughters, his brother Charles mounted the throne [Charles IV, a.d. 1322]; and upon his death the rule was so unquestionably established, that his only daughter was excluded by the Count of Valois, grandson of Philip the Bold. This prince first took the regency, the queen-dowager being pregnant, and, upon her giving birth to a daughter, was crowned king. [a.d. 1328.] No competitor or opponent appeared in France; but one more formidable than any whom France could have produced was awaiting the occasion to prosecute his imagined right with all the resources of valor and genius, and to carry desolation over that great kingdom with as little scruple as if he was preferring a suit before a civil tribunal.

From the moment of Charles IV’s death, Edward III of England buoyed himself up with a notion of his title to the crown of France, in right of his mother Isabel, sister to the three last kings. We can have no hesitation in condemning the injustice of this pretension. Whether the Salic law were or were not valid, no advantage could be gained by Edward. Even if he could forget the express or tacit decision of all France, there stood in his way Jane, the daughter of Louis X, three of Philip the Long, and one of Charles the Fair. Aware of this, Edward set up a distinction, that, although females were excluded from succession, the same rule did not apply to their male issue; and thus, though his mother Isabel could not herself become Queen of France, she might transmit a title to him. But this was contrary to the commonest rules of inheritance; and if it could have been regarded at all, Jane had a son, afterwards the famous King of Navarre, who stood one degree nearer to the crown than Edward.

It is asserted in some French authorities that Edward pre­ferred a claim to the regency immediately after the decease of Charles the Fair, and that the States-General, or at least the peers of France, adjudged that dignity to Philip de Valois. Whether this be true or not, it is clear that he entertained projects of recovering his right as early, though his youth and the embarrassed circumstances of his government threw insuperable obstacles in the way of their execution. He did liege homage, therefore, to Philip for Guienne, and for sev­eral years, while the affairs of Scotland engrossed his atten­tion, gave no sign of meditating a more magnificent enterprise. As he advanced in manhood, and felt the consciousness of his strength, his early designs grew mature, and produced a series of the most important and interesting revolutions in the fort­unes of France. These will form the subject of the ensuing pages.



War of Edward III in France—Causes of his Success—Civil Disturb­ances of France—Peace of Bretigni—Its Interpretation Considered— Charles V.—Renewal of the War—Charles VI.—His Minority and Insanity—Civil Dissensions of the Parties of Orleans and Burgundy— Assassination of both these Princes—Intrigues of their Parties with England under Henry IV.—Henry V. Invades France—Treaty of Troyes—State of France in the First Years of Charles VII.—Progress and Subsequent Decline of the English Arms—Their Expulsion from France—Change in the Political Constitution—Louis XI.—His Character—Leagues Formed against him—Charles Duke of Burgundy— His Prosperity and Fall—Louis Obtains Possession of Burgundy—His Death—Charles VIII.—Acquisition of Brittany.


No war had broken out in Europe, since the fall of the Roman Empire, so memorable as that of Edward III and his successors against France, whether we consider its duration, its object, or the magnitude and variety of its events. It was a struggle of one hundred and twenty years, interrupted but once by a regular pacification, where the most ancient and extensive dominion in the civilized world was the prize, twice lost and twice recovered, in the conflict, while individual courage was wrought up to that high pitch which it can seldom display since the regularity of modern tactics has chastised its enthusiasm and levelled its distinctions. There can be no occasion to dwell upon the events of this war, which are familiar to almost every reader: it is rather my aim to develop and arrange those circumstances which, when rightly understood, give the clew to its various changes of fortune.

France was, even in the fourteenth century, a kingdom of such extent and compactness of figure, such population and resources, and filled with so spirited a nobility, that the very idea of subjugating it by a foreign force must have seemed the most extravagant dream of ambition. Yet, in the course of about twenty years of war, this mighty nation was reduced to the lowest state of exhaustion, and dismembered of considerable provinces by an ignominious peace. What was the combination of political causes which brought about so strange a revolution, and, though not realizing Edward’s hopes to their extent, redeemed them from the imputation of rashness in the judgment of his own and succeeding ages ?

The first advantage which Edward III possessed in this contest was derived from the splendor of his personal character and from the still more eminent virtues of his son. Besides prudence and military skill, these great princes were endowed with qualities peculiarly fitted for the times in which they lived. Chivalry was then in its zenith; and in all the virtues which adorned the knightly character, in courtesy, munificence, gallantry, in all delicate and magnanimous feelings, none were so conspicuous as Edward III and the Black Prince. As later princes have boasted of being the best gentlemen, they might claim to be the prowest knights in Europe—a character not quite dissimilar, yet of more high pretension. Their court was, as it were, the sun of that system which embraced the valor and nobility of the Christian world; and the respect which was felt for their excellences, while it drew many to their side, mitigated in all the rancor and ferociousness of hostility. This war was like a great tournament, where the combatants fought indeed a outrance, but with all the courtesy and fair play of such an entertainment, and almost as much for the honor of their ladies. In the school of the Edwards were formed men not inferior in any nobleness of disposition to their masters— Manni and the Captal de Buch, Knollys and Calverley, Chandos and Lancaster. On the French side, especially after Du Guesclin came on the stage, these had rivals almost equally deserving of renown. If we could forget, what never should be forgotten, the wretchedness and devastation that fell upon a great kingdom, too dear a price for the display of any heroism, we might count these English wars in France among the brightest periods in history.

Philip of Valois, and John his son, showed but poorly in comparison with their illustrious enemies. Yet they both had considerable virtues; they were brave, just, liberal, and the latter, in particular, of unshaken fidelity to his word. But neither was beloved by his subjects; the misgovernment and extortion of their predecessors during half a century had alienated the public mind, and rendered their own taxes and debasement of the coin intolerable. Philip was made by misfortune, John by nature, suspicious and austere; and although their most violent acts seem never to have wanted absolute justice, yet they were so ill-conducted, and of so arbitrary a complexion, that they greatly impaired the reputation, as well as interests, of these monarchs. In the execution of Clisson under Philip, in that of the Connetable d’Eu under John, and still more in that of Harcourt, even in the imprisonment of the King of Navarre, though every one of these might have been guilty of treasons, there were circumstances enough to exas­perate the disaffected, and to strengthen the party of so politic a competitor as Edward.

Next to the personal qualities of the King of England, his resources in this war must be taken into the account. It was after long hesitation that he assumed the title and arms of France, from which, unless upon the best terms, he could not recede without loss of honor. In the meantime he strengthened himself by alliances with the emperor, with the cities of Flanders, and with most of the princes in the Netherlands and on the Rhine. Yet I do not know that he profited much by these conventions, since he met with no success till the scene of the war was changed from the Flemish frontier to Nor­mandy and Poitou. The troops of Hainault alone were constantly distinguished in his service.

But his intrinsic strength was at home. England had been growing in riches since the wise government of his grand­father, Edward I, and through the market opened for her wool with the manufacturing towns of Flanders. She was tranquil within; and her northern enemy, the Scotch, had been defeated and quelled. The parliament, after some slight precautions against a very probable effect of Edward’s conquest of France, the reduction of their own island into a province, entered, as warmly as improvidently, into his quarrel. The people made it their own, and grew so intoxicated with the victories of this war, that for some centuries the injustice and folly of the enterprise do gravest of our countrymen.

There is, indeed, ample room for national exultation at the names of Crecy, Poitiers, and Azincourt. So great was the disparity of numbers upon those famous days, that we cannot, with the French historians, attribute the discomfiture of their hosts merely to mistaken tactics and too impetuous valor. They yielded rather to that intrepid steadiness in danger which had already become the characteristic of our English soldiers, and which, during five centuries, has insured their superiority, whenever ignorance or infatuation has not led them into the field. But these victories, and the qualities that secured them, must chiefly be ascribed to the freedom of our constitution, and to the superior condition of the people. Not the nobility of England, not the feudal tenants won the battles of Crecy and Poitiers; for these were fully matched in the ranks of France; but the yeomen who drew the bow with strong and steady arms, accustomed to use it in their native fields, and rendered fearless by personal competence and civil freedom. It is well known that each of the three great victories was due to our archers, who were chiefly of the middle class, and attached, according to the system of that age, to the knights and squires who fought in heavy armor with the lance. Even at the battle of Poitiers, of which our country seems to have the least right to boast, since the greater part of the Black Prince’s small army was composed of Gascons, the merit of the English bow­men is strongly attested by Froissart.

Yet the glorious termination to which Edward was enabled, at least for a time, to bring the contest, was rather the work of fortune than of valor and prudence. Until the battle of Poitiers he had made no progress towards the conquest of France. That country was too vast, and his army too small, for such a revolution. The victory of Crecy gave him nothing but Calais, a post of considerable importance in war and peace, but rather adapted to annoy than to subjugate the kingdom. But at Poitiers he obtained the greatest of prizes, by taking prisoner the King of France. Not only the love of freedom tempted that prince to ransom himself by the utmost sacrifices, but his captivity left France defenceless, and seemed to annihilate the monarchy itself. The government was already odious; a spirit was awakened in the people which might seem hardly to belong to the fourteenth century; and the convulsions of our own time are sometimes strongly paralleled by those which succeeded the battle of Poitiers. Already the States-General had established a fundamental principle, that no resolution could be passed as the opinion of the whole unless each of the three orders concurred in its adoption. The right of levying and regulating the collection of taxes was recognized. But that assembly, which met at Paris immediately after the battle, went far greater lengths in the reform and control of government. From the time of Philip the Fair the abuses natural to arbitrary power had harassed the people. There now seemed an opportunity of redress; and however seditious, or even treasonable, may have been the motives of those who guided this assembly of the States, especially the famous Marcel, it is clear that many of their reformations tended to liberty and the public good. But the tumultuous scenes which passed in the capital, sometimes heightened into civil war, necessarily distracted men from the common defence against Edward. These tumults were excited, and the distraction increased, by Charles King of Navarre, surnamed the Bad, to whom the French writers have, not perhaps unjustly, attributed a character of unmixed and inveterate malignity. He was grandson of Louis Hutin, by his daughter Jane, and, if Edward’s pretence of claiming through females, could be admitted, was a nearer heir to the crown; the consciousness of which seems to have suggested itself to his depraved mind as an excuse for his treacheries, though he could entertain very little prospect of asserting the claim against either contending party. John had bestowed his daughter in marriage on the King of Navarre; but he very soon gave a proof of his character by procuring the assassination of the king’s favorite, Charles de la Cerda. An irreconcilable enmity was the natural result of this crime. Charles became aware that he had offended beyond the possi­bility of forgiveness, and that no letters of pardon, nor pretended reconciliation, could secure him from the king’s resentment. Thus, impelled by guilt into deeper guilt, he entered into alliances with Edward, and fomented the seditious spirit of Paris. Eloquent and insinuating, he was the favorite of the people, whose grievances he affected to pity, and with whose leaders he intrigued. As his paternal inheritance, he pos­sessed the country of Evreux in Normandy. The proximity of this to Paris created a formidable diversion in favor of Edward III, and connected the English garrisons of the North with those of Poitou and Guienne.

There is no affliction which did not fall upon France during this miserable period. A foreign enemy was in the heart of the kingdom, the king a prisoner, the capital in sedition, a treacherous prince of the blood in arms against the sovereign authority. Famine, the sure and terrible companion of war, for several years desolated the country. In 1348 a pestilence, the most extensive and unsparing of which we have any memorial, visited France as well as the rest of Europe, and consummated the work of hunger and the sword. The companies of adventure, mercenary troops in the service of John or Edward, finding no immediate occupation after the truce of 1357, scattered themselves over the country in search of pillage. No force existed sufficiently powerful to check these robbers in their career. Undismayed by superstition, they compelled the pope to redeem himself in Avignon by the payment of forty thousand crowns. France was the passive victim of their license, even after the pacification concluded with England, till some were diverted into Italy, and others led by Du Guesclin to the war of Castile. Impatient of this wretchedness, and stung by the insolence and luxury of their lords, the peasantry of several districts broke out into a dreadful insurrection, [a.d. 1358.] This was called the Jacquerie, from the cant phrase Jacques Bonhomme, applied to men of that class; and was marked by all the circumstances of horror incident to the rising of an exasperated and unenlightened populace.

Subdued by these misfortunes, though Edward had made but slight progress towards the conquest of the country, the regent of France, afterwards Charles V, submitted to the peace of Bretigni. [a.d. 1360.] By this treaty, not to mention less important articles, all Guienne, Gascony, Poitou, Saintonge, the Limousin, and the Angoumois, as well as Calais, and the county of Ponthieu, were ceded in full sovereignty to Edward; a price abundantly compensating his renunciation of the title of France, which was the sole concession stipulated in return these provinces complete. The first six articles of the treaty expressly surrender them to the King of England. By the seventh, John and his son engaged to convey within a year from the ensuing Michaelmas all their rights over them, and especially those of sovereignty and feudal appeal. The same words are repeated still more emphatically in the eleventh and some other articles. The twelfth stipulates the exchange of mutual renunciations; by John, of all right over the ceded countries; by Edward, of his claim to the throne of France. At Calais the treaty of Bretigni was renewed by John, who, as a prisoner, had been no party to the former compact, with the omission only of the twelfth article, respecting the exchange of renunciations. But that it was not intended to waive them by this omission is abundantly manifest by instruments of both the kings, in which reference is made to their future interchanges at Bruges, on the feast of St. Andrew, 1361. And, until that time should arrive, Edward promises to lay aside the title and arms of France (an engagement which he strictly kept), and John to act in no respect as king or suzerain over the ceded provinces. Finally, on November 15, 1361, two commissioners are appointed by Edward to receive the renunciations of the King of France at Bruges on the ensuing feast of St. Andrew, and to do whatever might be mutually required by virtue of the treaty. These, however, seem to have been withheld, and the twelfth article of the treaty of Bretigni was never expressly completed. By mutual instruments, executed at Calais, October 24, it had been declared that the sovereignty of the ceded provinces, as well as Edward’s right to the crown of France, should remain as before, although suspended as to its exercise, until the exchange of renunciations, notwithstanding any words of present conveyance or release in the treaties of Bretigni and Calais. And another pair of letters-patent, dated October 26, contains the form of renunciations, which, it is mutually declared, should have effect by virtue of the present letters, in case one party should be ready to exchange such renunciations at the time and place appointed, and the other should make default therein. These instruments executed at Calais are so prolix, and so studiously enveloped, as it seems, in the obscurity of technical language, that it is difficult to extract their precise intention. It appears, nevertheless, that whichever party was prepared to perform what was required of him at Bruges on November 30, 1361, the other then and there making default, would acquire not only what our lawyers might call an equitable title, but an actual vested right, by virtue of the provision in the letters-patent of October 26, 1360. The appointment above mentioned of Edward’s commissioners on November 15, 1361, seems to throw upon the French the burden of proving that John sent his envoys with equally full powers to the place of meeting, and that the non-interchange of renunciations was owing to the English govern­ment. But though an historian, sixty years later (Juvenal des Ursins), asserts that the French commissioners attended at Bruges, and that those of Edward made default, this is certainly rendered improbable by the actual appointment of commissioners made by the King of England on the 15th of November, by the silence of Charles V after the recommencement of hostilities, who would have rejoiced in so good a ground of excuse, and by the language of some English instruments, complaining that the French renunciations were withheld? It is suggested by the French authors that Edward was unwilling to execute a formal renunciation of his claim to the crown. But we can hardly suppose that, in order to evade this condition, which he had voluntarily imposed upon himself by the treaties of Bretigni and Calais, he would have left his title to the provinces ceded by those conventions imperfect. He certainly deemed it indefeasible, and acted, without any complaint from the French court, as the perfect master of those countries. He created his son Prince of Aquitaine, with the fullest powers over that new principality, holding it in fief of the crown of England by the yearly rent of an ounce of gold. And the court of that great prince was kept for several years at Bordeaux.

I have gone something more than usual into detail as to these circumstances, because a very specious account is given by some French historians and antiquaries which tends to throw the blame of the rupture in 1368 upon Edward III. Unfounded as was his pretension to the crown of France, and actuated as we must consider him by the most ruinous ambition, his character was unblemished by ill faith. There is no apparent cause to impute the ravages made in France by soldiers formerly in the English service to his instigation, nor any proof of a connection with the King of Navarre subsequently to the peace of Bretigni. But a good lesson may be drawn by conquerors from the change of fortune that befell Edward III. A long warfare, and unexampled success, had procured for him some of the richest provinces of France. Within a short time he was entirely stripped of them, less through any particular misconduct than in consequence of the intrinsic difficulty of preserving such acquisitions. The French were already knit together as one people; and even those whose feudal duties sometimes led them into the field against their sovereign could not endure the feeling of dismemberment from the monarchy. When the peace of Bretigni was to be carried into effect, the nobility of the South remon­strated against the loss of the king’s sovereignty, and showed, it is said, in their charters granted by Charlemagne, a promise never to transfer the right of protecting them to another. The citizens of Rochelle implored the king not to desert them, and protested their readiness to pay half their estates in taxes, rather than fall under the power of England. John with heaviness of heart persuaded these faithful people to comply with that destiny which he had not been able to surmount. At length they sullenly submitted: we will obey, they said, the English with our lips, but our hearts shall never forget their allegiance. Such unwilling subjects might perhaps have been won by a prudent government; but the temper of the Prince of Wales, which was rather stern and arbitrary, did not conciliate their hearts to his cause. After the expedition into Castile, a most injudicious and fatal enterprise, he attempted to impose a heavy tax upon Guienne. This was extended to the lands of the nobility, who claimed an immunity from all impositions. Many of the chief lords in Guienne and Gascony carried their complaints to the throne of Charles V, who had succeeded his father in 1364, appealing to him as the prince’s sovereign and judge, [a.d. 1368.] After a year’s delay the king ventured to summon the Black Prince to answer these charges before the peers of France, and the war immediately recommenced between the two countries.

Though it is impossible to reconcile the conduct of Charles upon this occasion to the stern principles of rectitude which ought always to be obeyed, yet the exceeding injustice of Edward in the former war, and the miseries which he inflicted upon an unoffending people in the prosecution of his claim, will go far towards extenuating this breach of the treaty of Bretigni. It is observed, indeed, with some truth by Rapin, that we judge of Charles’s prudence by the event; and that, if he had been unfortunate in the war, he would have brought on himself the reproaches of all mankind, and even of those writers who are now most ready to extol him. But his measures had been so sagaciously taken, that, except through that perverseness of fortune, against which, especially in war, there is no security, he could hardly fail of success. The elder Edward was declining through age, and the younger through disease; the ceded provinces were eager to return to their native king, and their garrisons, as we may infer by their easy reduction, feeble and ill-supplied. France, on the other hand, had recovered breath after her losses; the sons of those who had fallen or fled at Poitiers were in the field; a king, not personally warlike, but eminently wise and popular, occupied the throne of the rash and intemperate John. She was restored by the policy of Charles V and the valor of Du Guesclin. This hero, a Breton gentleman without fortune or exterior graces, was the greatest ornament of France during that age. Though inferior, as it seems, to Lord Chandos in military skill, as well as in the polished virtues of chivalry, his unwearied activity, his talent of inspiring confidence, his good fortune, the generosity and frankness of his character, have preserved a fresh recollection of his name, which has hardly been the case with our countryman.

In a few campaigns the English were deprived of almost all their conquests, and even, in a great degree, of their original possessions in Guienne. They were still formidable enemies, not only from their courage and alacrity in the war, but on account of the keys of France which they held in their hands ; Bordeaux, Bayonne, and Calais, by inheritance or conquest; Brest and Cherbourg, in mortgage from their allies, the Duke of Brittany and King of Navarre. But the successor of Edward III was Richard II; a reign of feebleness and sedition gave no opportunity for prosecuting schemes of ambition. The war, protracted with few distinguished events for several years, was at length suspended by repeated armistices, not, indeed, very strictly observed, and which the animosity of the English would not permit to settle in any regular treaty. Nothing less than the terms obtained at Bretigni, emphatically called the Great Peace, would satisfy a frank and cour­ageous people, who deemed themselves cheated by the manner of its infraction. The war was therefore always popular in England, and the credit which an ambitious prince, Thomas Duke of Gloucester, obtained in that country, was chiefly owing to the determined opposition which he showed to all French connections. But the politics of Richard II were of a different cast; and Henry IV was equally anxious to avoid hostilities with France; so that, before the unhappy condition of that kingdom tempted his son to revive the claims of Edward in still more favorable circumstances, there had been thirty years of respite, and even some intervals of friendly intercourse between the two nations. Both, indeed, were weakened by internal discord; but France more fatally than England. But for the calamities of Charles VI’s reign, she would probably have expelled her enemies from the kingdom. The strength of that fertile and populous country was recruited with surprising rapidity. Sir Hugh Calverley, a famous captain in the wars of Edward III, while serving in Flanders, laughed at the herald, who assured him that the King of France’s army, then entering the country, amounted to 26,000 lances; asserting that he had often seen their largest musters, but never so much as a fourth part of the number. The relapse of this great kingdom under Charles VI. was more painful and perilous than her first crisis; but she recovered from each through her intrinsic and inextinguishable resources.

Charles V, surnamed the Wise, after a reign, which, if we overlook a little obliquity in the rupture of the peace of Bretigni, may be deemed one of the most honorable in French history, dying prematurely, left the crown to his son, a boy of thirteen, under the care of three ambitious uncles, the dukes of Anjou, Berry, and Burgundy, [a.d. 1380.] Charles had retrieved the glory, restored the tranquillity, revived the spirit of his country; the severe trials which exercised his regency after the battle of Poitiers had disciplined his mind; he became a sagacious statesman, an encourager of literature, a beneficent lawgiver. He erred, doubtless, though upon plausible grounds, in accumulating a vast treasure, which the Duke of Anjou seized before he was cold in the grave. But all the fruits of his wisdom were lost in the succeeding reign. In a government essentially popular the youth or imbecility of the sovereign creates no material derangement. In a monarchy, where all the springs of the system depend upon one central force, these accidents, which are sure in the course of a few generations to recur, can scarcely fail to dislocate the whole machine. During the forty years that Charles VI bore the name of king, rather than reigned in France, that country was reduced to a state far more deplorable than during the captivity of John.

A great change had occurred in the political condition of France during the fourteenth century. As the feudal militia became unserviceable, the expenses of war were increased through the necessity of taking troops into constant pay; and while more luxurious refinements of living heightened the temptations to profuseness, the means of enjoying them were lessened by improvident alienations of the domain. Hence, taxes, hitherto almost unknown, were levied incessantly, and with all those circumstances of oppression which are natural to the fiscal proceedings of an arbitrary government. These, as has been said before, gave rise to the unpopularity of the two first Valois, and were nearly leading to a complete revolution in the convulsions that succeeded the battle of Poitiers. The confidence reposed in Charles V’s wisdom and economy kept everything at rest during his reign, though the taxes were still very heavy. But the seizure of his vast accumulations by the Duke of Anjou, and the ill faith with which the new government imposed subsidies, after promising their abolition, provoked the people of Paris, and sometimes of other places, to repeated seditions. The States-General not only compelled the government to revoke these impositions and restore the nation, at least according to the language of edicts, to all their liberties, but, with less wisdom, refused to make any grant of money. Indeed a remarkable spirit of democratical freedom was then rising in those classes on whom the crown and nobility had so long trampled. An example was held out by the Flemings, who, always tenacious of their privileges, because conscious of their ability to maintain them, were engaged in a furious conflict with Louis Count of Flanders. The court of France took part in this war; and after obtaining a decisive victory over the citizens of Ghent, Charles VI returned to chastise those of Paris. Unable to resist the royal army, the city was treated as the spoil of conquest; its immunities abridged; its most active leaders put to death; a fine of uncommon severity imposed; and the taxes renewed by arbitrary prerogative. But the people preserved their indig­nation for a favorable moment; and were unfortunately led by it, when rendered subservient to the ambition of others, into a series of crimes, and a long alienation from the interests of their country.

It is difficult to name a limit beyond which taxes will not be borne without impatience, when they appear to be called for by necessity, and faithfully applied; nor is it impracticable for a skilful minister to deceive the people in both these respects. But the sting of taxation is wastefulness. What high-spirited man could see without indignation the earnings of his labor, yielded ungrudgingly to the public defence, become the spoil of parasites and speculators? It is this that mortifies the liberal hand of public spirit; and those statesmen who deem the security of government to depend not on laws and armies, but on the moral sympathies and prejudices of the people, will vigilantly guard against even the suspicion of prodigality. In the present stage of society it is impossible to conceive that degree of misapplication which existed in the French treasury under Charles VI, because the real exigencies of the state could never again be so inconsiderable. Scarcely any military force was kept up ; and the produce of the grievous impositions then levied was chiefly lavished upon the royal household, or plundered by the officers of the government. This naturally resulted from the peculiar and afflicting circum­stances of this reign. The Duke of Anjou pretended to be entitled by the late king’s appointment, if not by the constitution of France, to exercise the government as regent during the minority;but this period, which would naturally be very short, a law of Charles V. having fixed the age of majority at thirteen, was still more abridged by consent; and after the young monarch’s coronation, he was considered as reigning with full personal authority. Anjou, Berry, and Burgundy together with the king’s maternal uncle, the Duke of Bourbon, divided the actual exercise of government.

The first of these soon undertook an expedition into Italy, to possess himself of the crown of Naples, in which he perished. Berry was a profuse and voluptuous man, of no great talents; though his rank, and the middle position which he held between struggling parties, made him rather conspicuous throughout the revolutions of that age. The most respectable of the king’s uncles, the Duke of Bourbon, being further removed from the royal stem, and of an unassuming character, took a less active part than his three coadjutors. Burgundy, an ambitious and able prince, maintained the ascendency, until Charles, weary of a restraint which had been protracted by his uncle till he was in his twenty-first year, took the reins into his own hands, [a.d. 1387.] The dukes of Burgundy and Berry retired from court, and the administration was committed to a different set of men, at the head of whom appeared the Constable De Clisson, a soldier of great fame in the English wars. The people rejoiced in the fall of the princes by whose exactions they had been plundered; but the new ministers soon rendered themselves odious by similar conduct. The fortune of Clisson, after a few years’ favor, amounted to 1,700,000 livres, equal in weight of silver, to say nothing of the depreciation of money, to ten times that sum at present.

Charles VI had reigned five years from his assumption of power, when he was seized with a derangement of intellect [a.d. 1393], which continued, through a series of recoveries and relapses, to his death. He passed thirty years in a pitiable state of suffering, neglected by his family, particularly by the most infamous of women, Isabel of Bavaria, his queen, to a degree which is hardly credible. The ministers were imme­diately disgraced; the princes reassumed their stations. For several years the Duke of Burgundy conducted the government. But this was in opposition to a formidable rival, Louis, Duke of Orleans, the king’s brother. It was impossible that a prince so near to the throne, favored by the queen, perhaps with criminal fondness, and by the people on account of his external graces, should not acquire a share of power. He succeeded at length in obtaining the whole management of affairs; wherein the outrageous dissoluteness of his conduct, and still more the excessive taxes imposed, rendered him altogether odious. The Parisians compared his administration with that of the Duke of Burgundy; and from that time ranged themselves on the side of the latter and his family, throughout the long distractions to which the ambition of these princes gave birth.

The death of the Duke of Burgundy, in 1404, after several fluctuations of success between him and the Duke of Orleans, by no means left his party without a head. Equally brave and ambitious, but far more audacious and unprincipled, his son John, surnamed Sans peur, sustained the same contest. A reconciliation had been, however, brought about with the Duke of Orleans; they had sworn reciprocal friendship, and participated, as was the custom, in order to render these obligations more solemn, in the same communion. In the midst of this outward harmony, the Duke of Orleans was assassinated in the streets of Paris, [a.d. 1407.] After a slight attempt at concealment, Burgundy avowed and boasted of the crime, to which he had been instigated, it is said, by somewhat more than political jealousy. From this fatal moment the dissensions of the royal family began to assume the complexion of civil war. The queen, the sons of the Duke of Orleans, with the dukes of Berry and Bourbon, united against the assassin. But he possessed, in addition to his own appanage of Burgundy, the county of Flanders as his maternal inheritance; and the people of Paris, who hated the Duke of Orleans, readily forgave, or rather exulted in his murder.

It is easy to estimate the weakness of the government, from the terms upon which the Duke of Burgundy was permitted to obtain pardon at Chartres, a year after the perpetration of the crime. As soon as he entered the royal presence, every­one rose, except the king, queen, and dauphin. The duke, approaching the throne, fell on his knees; when a lord, who acted as a sort of counsel for him, addressed the king: “Sire, the Duke of Burgundy, your cousin and servant, is come before you, being informed that he has incurred your displeasure, on account of what he caused to be done to the Duke of Orleans your brother, for your good and that of your kingdom, as he is ready to prove when it shall please you to hear it, and therefore requests you, with all humility, to dismiss your resentment towards him, and to receive him into you favor.”

This insolent apology was all the atonement that could be extorted for the assassination of the first prince of the blood. It is not wonderful that the Duke of Burgundy soon obtained the management of affairs, and drove his adversaries from the capital, [a.d. 1410.] The princes, headed by the father-in-law of the young Duke of Orleans, the Count of Armagnac, from whom their party was now denominated, raised their standard against him; and the north of France was rent to pieces by a protracted civil war, in which neither party scrupled any extremity of pillage or massacre. Several times peace was made; but each faction, conscious of their own insincerity, suspected that of their adversaries. The king, of whose name both availed themselves, was only in some doubtful intervals of reason capable of rendering legitimate the acts of either. The dauphin, aware of the tyranny which the two parties alter­nately exercised, was forced, even at the expense of perpetuating a civil war, to balance one against the other, and permit neither to be wholly subdued. He gave peace to the Armagnacs at Auxerre, in despite of the Duke of Burgundy; and, having afterwards united with them against this prince, and carried a successful war into Flanders, he disappointed their revenge by concluding with him a treaty at Arras, [a.d. 1414.]

This dauphin and his next brother died within sixteen months of each other, by which the rank devolved upon Charles, youngest son of the king. The Count of Armagnac, now Constable of France, retained possession of the government. But his severity, and the weight of taxes, revived the Burgundian party in Paris, which a rigid proscription had endeavored to destroy. [April, 1417.] He brought on his head the implacable hatred of the queen, whom he had not only shut out from public affairs, but disgraced by the detection of her gallantries. Notwithstanding her ancient enmity to the Duke of Burgundy, she made overtures to him, and, being delivered by his troops from confinement, declared herself openly on his side. [a.d. 1417.] A few obscure persons stole the city keys, and admitted the Burgundians into Paris. The tumult which arose showed in a moment the disposition of the inhabitants; but this was more horribly displayed a few days afterwards, when the populace, rushing to the prisons, massacred the Constable d’Armagnac and his partisans. [June 12, 1418.] Between three and four thousand persons were murdered on this day, which has no parallel but what our own age has witnessed, in the massacre perpetrated by the same ferocious populace of Paris, under circumstances nearly similar. Not long afterwards an agreement took place between the Duke of Burgundy, who had now the king’s person as well as the capital in his hands, and the dauphin, whose party was enfeebled by the loss of almost all its leaders, [a.d. 1419.] This reconciliation, which mutual interest should have rendered permanent, had lasted a very short time, when the Duke of Burgundy was assassinated at an interview with Charles, in his presence, and by the hands of his friends, though not, perhaps, with his previous knowledge. From whomsoever the crime proceeded, it was a deed of infatuation, and plunged France afresh into a sea of perils, from which the union of these factions had just afforded a hope of extricating her.

It has been mentioned already that the English war had almost ceased during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV. The former of these was attached by inclination, and latterly by marriage, to the court of France; and, though the French government showed at first some disposition to revenge his dethronement, yet the new king’s success, as well as domestic quarrels, deterred it from any serious renewal of the war. A long commercial connection had subsisted between England and Flanders, which the dukes of Burgundy, when they became sovereigns of the latter country upon the death of Count Louis in 1384, were studious to preserve by separate truces. They acted upon the same pacific policy when their interest predominated in the councils of France. Henry had even a negotiation pending for the marriage of his eldest son with a princess of Burgundy, when an unexpected proposal from the opposite side set more tempting views before his eyes. The Armagnacs, pressed hard by the Duke of Burgundy, offered, in consideration of only 4000 troops, the pay of which they would themselves defray, to assist him in the recovery of Guienne and Poitou. Four princes of the blood—Berry, Bourbon, Orleans, and Alençon—disgraced their names by signing this treaty. [May, 1412.] Henry broke off his alliance with Burgundy, and sent a force into France, which found on its arrival that the princes had made a separate treaty, without the least concern for their English allies. After his death, Henry V engaged for some time in a series of negotiations with the French court, where the Orleans party now prevailed, and with the Duke of Burgundy. He even secretly treated at the same time for a marriage with Catherine of France (which seems to have been his favorite, as it was ultimately his successful project), and with a daughter of the duke—a duplicity not creditable to his memory. But Henry’s ambition, which aimed at the highest quarry, was not long fettered by negotiation; and, indeed, his proposals of marrying Catherine were coupled with such exorbitant demands, as France, notwithstanding all her weakness, could not admit, though she would have ceded Guienne, and given a vast dowry with the princess. He invaded Normandy, took Harfleur, and won the great battle of Azincourt on his march to Calais. [a.d. 1415.]

The flower of French chivalry was mowed down in this fatal day, but especially the chiefs of the Orleans party, and the princes of the royal blood, met with death or captivity. Burgundy had still suffered nothing; but a clandestine negotiation had secured the duke’s neutrality, though he seems not to have entered into a regular alliance till a year after the battle of Azincourt, when, by a secret treaty at Calais, he acknowledged the right of Henry to the crown of France, and his own obligation to do him homage, though its performance was to be suspended till Henry should become master of a considerable part of the kingdom. In a second invasion the English achieved the conquest of Normandy; and this, in all subsequent negotiations for peace during the life of Henry, he would never consent to relinquish. After several conferences, which his demands rendered abortive, the French court at length consented to add Normandy to the cessions made in the peace of Bretigni; and the treaty, though laboring under some difficulties, seems to have been nearly completed, when the Duke of Burgundy, for reasons unexplained, suddenly came to a reconciliation with the dauphin. This event, which must have been intended adversely to Henry, would probably have broken off all parley on the subject of peace, if it had not been speedily followed by one still more surprising, the assassination of the Duke of Burgundy at Montereau. [Sept, 10, 1419.]

An act of treachery so apparently unprovoked inflamed the minds of that powerful party which had looked up to the duke as their leader and patron. The city of Paris, especially, abjured at once its respect for the supposed author of the murder, though the legitimate heir of the crown. A solemn oath was taken by all ranks to revenge the crime; the nobility, the clergy, the parliament, vying with the populace in their invectives against Charles, whom they now styled only pretended (soi-disant) dauphin. Philip, son of the assassinated duke, who, with all the popularity and much of the ability of his father, did not inherit all his depravity, was instigated by a pardonable excess of filial resentment to ally himself with the King of England. These passions of the people and the Duke of Burgundy, concurring with the imbecility of Charles VI and the rancor of Isabel towards her son, led to the treaty of Troyes. [May, 1420.] This compact, signed by the queen and duke, as proxies of the king, who had fallen into a state of unconscious idiocy, stipulated that Henry V, upon his marriage with Catherine, should become immediately regent of France, and, after the death of Charles, succeed to the kingdom, in exclusion not only of the dauphin, but of all the royal family. It is unnecessary to remark that these flagitious provi­sions were absolutely invalid. But they had at the time the strong sanction of force; and Henry might plausibly flatter himself with a hope of establishing his own usurpation as firmly in France as his father’s had been in England. What not even the comprehensive policy of Edward III, the energy of the Black Prince, the valor of their Knollyses and Chandoses, nor his own victories could attain, now seemed, by a strange vicissitude of fortune, to court his ambition. During two years that Henry lived after the treaty of Troyes, he governed the north of France with unlimited authority in the name of Charles VI. The latter survived his son-in-law but a few weeks; and the infant Henry VI. was immediately proclaimed King of France and England, under the regency of his uncle the Duke of Bedford.

Notwithstanding the disadvantage of a minority, the Eng­lish cause was less weakened by the death of Henry than might have been expected. The Duke of Bedford partook of the same character, and resembled his brother in faults as well as virtues; in his haughtiness and arbitrary temper as in his energy and address. At the accession of Charles VII. the usurper was acknowledged by all the northern provinces of France, except a few fortresses, by most of Guienne, and the dominions of Burgundy, [a.d. 1423.] The Duke of Brittany soon afterwards acceded to the treaty of Troyes, but changed his party again several times within a few years. The central provinces, with Languedoc, Poitou, and Dauphine, were faithful to the king. For some years the war continued without any decisive result; but the balance was clearly swayed in favor of England. For this it is not difficult to assign several causes. The animosity of the Parisians and the Duke of Burgundy against the Armagnac party still continued, mingled in the former with dread of the king’s return, whom they judged themselves to have inexpiably offended. The war had brought forward some accomplished commanders in the English army; surpassing, not indeed in valor and enterprise, but in military skill, any whom France could oppose to them. Of these the most distinguished, besides the Duke of Bedford himself, were Warwick, Salisbury, and Talbot. Their troops, too, were still very superior to the French. But this, we must in candor allow, proceeded in a great degree from the mode in which they were raised. The war was so popular in England that it was easy to pick the best and stoutest recruits, and their high pay allured men of respectable condition to the service. We find in Rymer a contract of the Earl of Salisbury to supply a body of troops, receiving a shilling a day for every man-at-arms, and sixpence for each archer. This is, perhaps, equal to fifteen times the sum at our present value of money. They were bound, indeed, to furnish their own equipments and horses. But France was totally exhausted by her civil and foreign war, and incompetent to defray the expenses even of the small force which defended the wreck of the monarchy. Charles VII lived in the utmost poverty at Bourges. The nobility had scarcely recovered from the fatal slaughter of Azincourt; and the infantry, composed of peasants or burgesses, which had made their army so numerous upon that day, whether from inability to compel their services, or experience of their inefficacy, were never called into the field. It became almost entirely a war of partisans. Every town in Picardy, Champagne, Maine, or wherever the contest might be carried on, was a fortress; and in the attack or defence of these garrisons the valor of both nations was called into constant exercise. This mode of warfare was undoubtedly the best in the actual state of France, as it gradually improved her troops, and flushed them with petty successes. But what prin­cipally led to its adoption, was the license and insubordination of the royalists, who, receiving no pay, owned no control, and thought that, provided they acted against the English and Burgundians, they were free to choose their own points of attack. Nothing can more evidently show the weakness of France than the high terms by which Charles VII was content to purchase the assistance of some Scottish auxiliaries. The Earl of Buchan was made constable; the Earl of Douglas had the duchy of Touraine, with a new title, lieutenant-general of the kingdom. At a subsequent time Charles offered the prov­ince of Saintonge to James I for an aid of 6000 men. These Scots fought bravely for France, though unsuccessfully, at Crevant and Verneuil; but it must be owned they set a sufficient value upon their service. Under all these disadvantages it would be unjust to charge the French nation with any inferiority of courage, even in the most unfortunate periods of this war. Though frequently panic-struck in the field of battle, they stood sieges of their walled towns with matchless spirit and endurance. Perhaps some analogy may be found between the character of the French commonalty during the English invasion and the Spaniards of the late peninsular war. But to the exertions of those brave nobles who restored the monarchy of Charles VII Spain has afforded no adequate parallel.

It was, however, in the temper of Charles VII that his ene­mies found their chief advantage. This prince is one of the few whose character has been improved by prosperity. During the calamitous morning of his reign he shrunk from fronting the storm, and strove to forget himself in pleasure. Though brave, he was never seen in war; though intelligent, he was governed by flatterers. Those who had committed the assassination at Montereau under his eyes were his first favorites; as if he had determined to avoid the only measure through which he could hope for better success, a reconciliation with the Duke of Burgundy. The Count de Richemont, brother of the Duke of Brittany, who became afterwards one of the chief pillars of his throne, consented to renounce the English alliance, and accept the rank of constable, on condition that these favorites should quit the court, [a.d. 1424.] Two others, who succes­sively gained a similar influence over Charles, Richemont publicly caused to be assassinated, assuring the king that it was (or his own and the public good. Such was the debasement of morals and government which twenty years of civil war had produced! Another favorite, La Tremouille, took the dangerous office, and, as might be expected, employed his influence against Richemont, who for some years lived on his own domains, rather as an armed neutral than a friend, though he never lost his attachment to the royal cause.

It cannot therefore surprise us that with all these advantages the regent Duke of Bedford had almost completed the capture of the fortresses north of the Loire when he invested Orleans in 1428. If this city had fallen, the central provinces, which were less furnished with defensible places, would have lain open to the enemy, and it is said that Charles VII in despair was about to retire into Dauphine. At this time his affairs were restored by one of the most marvellous revolutions in history. A country girl overthrew the power of England. We cannot pretend to explain the surprising story of the Maid of Orleans; for, however easy it may be to suppose that a heated and enthusiastic imagination produced her own visions, it is a much greater problem to account for the credit they obtained, and for the success that attended her. Nor will this be solved by the hypothesis of a concerted stratagem; which, if we do not judge altogether from events, must appear liable to so many chances of failure, that it could not have suggested itself to any rational person. However, it is certain that the appearance of Joan of Arc turned the tide of war, which from that moment flowed without interruption in Charles’s favor. A superstitious awe enfeebled the sinews of the English. They hung back in their own country, or deserted from the army, through fear of the incantations by which alone they conceived so extraordinary a person to succeed. As men always make sure of Providence for an ally, whatever untoward fortune ap­peared to result from preternatural causes was at once ascribed to infernal enemies; and such bigotry may be pleaded as an excuse, though a very miserable one, for the detestable murder of this heroine.

The spirit which Joan of Arc had roused did not subside. France recovered confidence in her own strength, which had been chilled by a long course of adverse fortune. The king, too, shook off his indolence, and permitted Richemont to exclude his unworthy favorites from the court. This led to a very important consequence. The Duke of Burgundy, whose alliance with England had been only the fruit of indignation at his father’s murder, fell naturally, as that passion wore out, into sentiments more congenial to his birth and interests. A prince of the house of Capet could not willingly see the inheritance of his ancestors transferred to a stranger. And he had met with provocation both from the regent and the Duke of Gloucester, who, in contempt of all policy and justice, had en­deavored, by an invalid marriage with Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault and Holland, to obtain provinces which Burgundy designed for himself. Yet the union of his sister with Bedford, the obligations by which he was bound, and, most of all, the favor shown by Charles VII to the assassins of his father, kept him for many years on the English side, although rendering it less and less assistance. But at length he concluded a treaty at Arras, the terms of which he dictated rather as a conqueror than a subject negotiating with his sovereign, [a.d. 1435.] Charles, however, refused nothing for such an end; and, in a very short time, the Burgundians were ranged with the French against their old allies of England.

It was now time for the latter to abandon those magnificent projects of conquering France which temporary circumstances alone had seemed to render feasible. But as it is a natural effect of good fortune in the game of war to render a people insensible to its gradual change, the English could not persuade themselves that their affairs were irretrievably declining. Hence they rejected the offer of Normandy and Guienne, subject to the feudal superiority of France, which was made to them at the congress of Arras; and some years afterwards, when Paris, with the adjacent provinces, had been lost, the English ambassadors, though empowered by their private instructions to relax, stood upon demands quite disproportionate to the actual position of affairs. As foreign enemies, they were odious even in that part of France which had acknowledged Henry; and when the Duke of Burgundy deserted their side, Paris and every other city were impatient to throw off the yoke. A feeble monarchy, and a selfish council, completed their ruin: the necessary subsidies were raised with difficulty, and, when raised, misapplied. It is a proof of the exhaustion of France, that Charles was unable, for several years, to reduce Normandy or Guienne, which were so ill-provided for defence. At last he came with collected strength to the contest, and, breaking an armistice upon slight pretences, within two years overwhelmed the English garrisons in each of these provinces. All the inheritance of Henry II and Eleanor, all the conquests of Edward III and Henry V except Calais and a small adjacent district, were irrecoverably torn from the crown of England. A barren title, that idle trophy of disappointed ambition, was preserved with strange obstinacy to our own age. [a.d. 1449]

In these second English wars we find little left of that generous feeling which had, in general, distinguished the con­temporaries of Edward III. The very virtues which a state of hostility promotes are not proof against its long continuance, and sink at last into brutal fierceness. Revenge and fear excited the two factions of Orleans and Burgundy to all atrocious actions. The troops serving under partisans on detached expeditions, according to the system of the war, lived at free quarters on the people. The histories of the time are full of their outrages, from which, as is the common case, the unprotected peasantry most suffered. Even those laws of war, which the courteous sympathies of chivalry had enjoined, were disregarded by a merciless fury. Garrisons surrendering after a brave defence were put to death. Instances of this are very frequent. Henry V excepts Alain Blanchard, a citizen who had distinguished himself during the siege, from the capitulation of Rouen, and orders him to execution. At the taking of a town of Champagne, John of Luxemburg, the Burgundian general, stipulates that every fourth and sixth man should be at his discretion; which he exercises by causing them all to be hanged. Four hundred English from Pontoise, stormed by Charles VII in 1441, are paraded in chains and naked through the streets of Paris, and thrown afterwards into the Seine. This infamous action cannot but be ascribed to the king.

At the expulsion of the English, France emerged from the chaos with an altered character and new features of government. The royal authority and supreme jurisdiction of the parliament were universally recognized. Yet there was a tendency towards insubordination left among the great nobility, arising in part from the remains of old feudal privileges, but still more from that lax administration which, in the convulsive struggles of the war, had been suffered to prevail. In the south were some considerable vassals, the houses of Foix, Albret, and Armagnac, who, on account of their distance from the seat of empire, had always maintained a very independent conduct. The dukes of Brittany and Burgundy were of a more formidable character, and might rather be ranked among foreign powers than privileged subjects. The princes, too, of the royal blood, who, during the late reign, had learned to partake or contend for the management, were ill-inclined towards Charles VII, himself jealous, from old recollections, of their ascendency. They saw that the constitution was verging rapidly towards an absolute monarchy, from the direction of which they would studiously be excluded. This apprehension gave rise to several attempts at rebellion during the reign of Charles VII, and to the war, commonly entitled, for the Public Weal (du Bien Public'), tinder Louis XI. Among the pretences alleged by the revolters in each of these, the injuries of the people were not forgotten; y but from the people they received small support. Weary of civil dissension, and anxious for a strong government to secure them from depredation, the French had no inducement to intrust even their real grievances to a few malcontent princes, whose regard for the common good they had much reason to distrust. Every circumstance favored Charles VII. and his son in the attainment of arbitrary power. The country was pillaged by military ruffians. Some of these had been led by the dauphin to a war in Germany, but the remainder still infested the highroads and villages. Charles established his companies of ordonnance, the basis of the French regular army, in order to protect the country from such depredators. They consisted of about nine thousand soldiers, all cavalry, of whom fifteen hundred were heavy armed; a force not very considerable, but the first, except mere body-guards, which had been raised in any part of Eu­rope as a national standing army. These troops were paid out of the produce of a permanent tax, called the taille; an innovation still more important than the former. But the present benefit cheating the people, now prone to submissive habits, little or no opposition was made, except in Guienne, the inhabitants of which had speedy reason to regret the mild govern­ment of England, and vainly endeavored to return to its protection.

It was not long before the new despotism exhibited itself in its harshest character. Louis XI, son of Charles VII, who, during his father’s reign, had been connected with the discontented princes, came to the throne greatly endowed with those virtues and vices which conspire to the success of a king. [a.d. 1461.] Laborious vigilance in business, contempt of pomp, affability to inferiors, were his excellences; qualities especially praiseworthy in an age characterized by idleness, love of pageantry, and insolence. To these virtues he added a perfect knowledge of all persons eminent for talents or influence in the countries with which he was connected, and a well-judged bounty, that thought no expense wasted to draw them into his service or interest. In the fifteenth century this political art had hardly been known, except perhaps in Italy; the princes of Europe had contended with each other by arms, sometimes by treachery, but never with such complicated subtlety of intrigue. Of that insidious cunning, which has since been brought to perfection, Louis XI may be deemed not absolutely the inventor, but the most eminent improver; and its success has led, perhaps, to too high an estimate of his abilities. Like most bad men, he sometimes fell into his own snare, and was betrayed by his confidential ministers, because his confidence was generally reposed in the wicked. And his dissimulation was so notorious, his tyranny so oppressive, that he was naturally surrounded by enemies, and had occasion for all his craft to elude those rebellions and confederacies which might perhaps not have been raised against a more upright sover- eign. At one time the monarchy was on the point of sinking before a combination which would have ended in dismembering France. This was the league denominated of the Public Weal, in which all the princes and great vassals of the French crown were concerned; the dukes of Brittany, Burgundy, Alençon, Bourbon, the Count of Dunois, so renowned for his valor in the English wars, the families of Foix and Armagnac; and at the head of all, Charles Duke of Berry, the king’s brother and presumptive heir. [a.d. 1461.] So unanimous a combination was not formed without a strong provocation from the king, or at least without weighty grounds for distrusting his intentions; but the more remote cause of this confederacy, as of those which had been raised against Charles VII., was the critical position of the feudal aristocracy from the increas­ing power of the crown. This war of the Public Weal was in fact, a struggle to preserve their independence; and from the weak character of the Duke of Berry, whom they would, if successful, have placed upon the throne, it is possible that France might have been in a manner partitioned among them in the event of their success, or, at least, that Burgundy and Brittany would have thrown off the sovereignty that galled them.

The strength of the confederates in this war much exceeded that of the king; but it was not judiciously employed; and after an indecisive battle at Montlhéry they failed in the great object of reducing Paris, which would have obliged Louis to fly from his dominions. It was his policy to promise everything, in trust that fortune would afford some opening to repair his losses and give scope to his superior prudence. Accordingly, by the treaty of Conflans, he not only surrendered afresh the towns upon the Somme, which he had lately redeemed from the Duke of Burgundy, but invested his brother with the duchy of Normandy as his appanage.

The term appanage denotes the provision made for the younger children of a king of France. This always consisted of lands and feudal superiorities held of the crown by the tenure of peerage. It is evident that this usage, as it produced a new class of powerful feudatories, was hostile to the interests and policy of the sovereign, and retarded the subjugation of the ancient aristocracy. But an usage coeval with the monarchy was not to be abrogated, and the scarcity of money rendered it impossible to provide for the younger branches of the royal family by any other means. It was restrained, however, as far as circumstances would permit. Philip IV declared that the county of Poitiers, bestowed by him on his son, should revert to the crown on the extinction of male heirs. But this, though an important precedent, was not, as has often been asserted, a general law. Charles V. limited the appanages of his own sons to twelve thousand livres of annual value in land. By means of their appanages, and through the operation of the Salic law, which made their inheritance of the crown a less remote contingency, the princes of the blood royal in France were at all times (for the remark is applicable long after Louis XI.) a distinct and formidable class of men, whose influence was always disadvantageous to the reigning monarch, and, in general, to the people.

No appanage had ever been granted to France so enormous as the duchy of Normandy. One-third of the whole national revenue, it is declared, was derived from that rich province. Louis could not, therefore, sit down under such terms as, with his usual insincerity, he had accepted at Conflans. In a very short time he attacked Normandy, and easily compelled his brother to take refuge in Brittany; nor were his enemies ever able to procure the restitution of Charles’s appanage. During the rest of his reign Louis had powerful coalitions to withstand; but his prudence and compliance with circumstances, joined to some mixture of good fortune, brought him safely through his perils. The Duke of Brittany, a prince of moder­ate talents, was unable to make any formidable impression, though generally leagued with the enemies of the king. The less powerful vassals were successfully crushed by Louis with decisive vigor; the duchy of Alençon was confiscated; the Count of Armagnac was assassinated; the Duke of Nemours, and the Constable of St. Pol, a politician as treacherous as Louis, who had long betrayed both him and the Duke of Burgundy, suffered upon the scaffold. The king’s brother Charles, after disquieting him for many years, died suddenly in Guienne, which had finally been granted as his appanage, with strong suspicions of having been poisoned by the king’s contrivance. [a.d. 1472.] Edward IV of England was too dissipated and too indolent to be fond of war; and, though he once entered France with an army more considerable than could have been expected after such civil bloodshed as England had witnessed, he was induced, by the stipulation of a large pension, to give up the enterprise. So terrible was still in France the apprehension of an English war, that Louis prided himself upon no part of his policy so much as the warding this blow. Edward showed a desire to visit Paris; but the king gave him no invitation, lest, he said, his brother should find some handsome women there, who might tempt him to return in a different manner. Hastings, Howard, and others of Edward’s ministers, were secured by bribes in the interest of Louis, which the first of these did not scruple to receive at the same time from the Duke of Burgundy.

This was the most powerful enemy whom the craft of Louis had to counteract. In the last days of the feudal system, when the house of Capet had almost achieved the subjugation of those proud vassals among whom it had been originally numbered, a new antagonist sprung up to dispute the field against the crown. John King of France granted the duchy of Burgundy, by way of appanage, to his third son, Philip. By his marriage with Margaret, heiress of Louis Count of Flanders, Philip acquired that province, Artois, the county of Burgundy (or Franche-Comte), and the Nivernois. Philip the Good, his grandson, who carried the prosperity of this family to its height, possessed himself, by various titles, of the several other provinces which composed the Netherlands. These were fiefs of the empire, but latterly not much dependent upon it, and alienated by their owners without its consent. At the peace of Arras the districts of Macon and Auxerre were absolutely ceded to Philip, and great part of Picardy conditionally made over to him, redeemable on the payment of four hundred thousand crowns. These extensive, though not compact dominions, were abundant in population and wealth, fertile in corn, wine, and salt, and full of commercial activity. Thirty years of peace which followed the treaty of Arras, with a mild and free government, raised the subjects of Burgundy to a degree of prosperity quite unparalleled in these times of disorder, and this was displayed in general sumptuousness of dress and feasting. The court of Philip and of his son Charles was distinguished for its pomp and riches, for pageants and tourna­ments; the trappings of chivalry, perhaps without its spirit; for the military character of Burgundy had been impaired by long tranquility.

During the lives of Philip and Charles VII each understood the other’s rank, and their amity was little interrupted. But their successors, the most opposite of human kind in character, had one common quality, ambition, to render their antipathy more powerful. Louis was eminently timid and suspicious in policy; Charles intrepid beyond all men, and blindly pre­sumptuous : Louis stooped to any humiliation to reach his aim; Charles was too haughty to seek the fairest means of strengthening his party. An alliance of his daughter with the Duke of Guienne, brother of Louis, was what the malcon­tent French princes most desired and the king most dreaded; but Charles, either averse to any French connection, or willing to keep his daughter’s suitors in dependence, would never di­rectly accede to that or any other proposition for her marriage. On Philip’s death in 1467, he inherited a great treasure, which he soon wasted in the prosecution of his schemes. These were so numerous and vast, that he had not time to live, says Comines, to complete them, nor would one-half of Europe have contented him. It was his intention to assume the title of king; and the Emperor Frederic III. was at one time act­ually on his road to confer this dignity, when some suspicion caused him to retire, and the project was never renewed. It is evident that, if Charles’s capacity had borne any propor­tion to his pride and courage, or if a prince less politic than Louis XI. had been his contemporary in France, the prov­ince of Burgundy must have been lost to the monarchy. For several years these great rivals were engaged, sometimes in open hostility, sometimes in endeavors to overreach each other; but Charles, though not much more scrupulous, was far less an adept in these mysteries of politics than the king.

Notwithstanding the power of Burgundy, there were some disadvantages in its situation. It presented (I speak of all Charles’s dominions under the common name, Burgundy) a very exposed frontier on the side of Germany and Switzerland, as well as France; and Louis exerted a considerable influence over the adjacent princes of the empire as well as the United Cantons. The people of Liège, a very populous city, had for a long time been continually rebelling against their bishops, who were the allies of Burgundy ; Louis was of course not back­ward to foment their insurrections, which sometimes gave the dukes a good deal of trouble. The Flemings, and especially the people of Ghent, had been during a century noted for their republican spirit and contumacious defiance of their sover­eign. Liberty never wore a more unamiable countenance than among these burghers, who abused the strength she gave them by cruelty and insolence. Ghent, when Froissart wrote, about the year 1400, was one of the strongest cities in Europe, and would have required, he says, an army of two hundred thousand men to besiege it on every side, so as to shut up all access by the Lys and Scheldt. It contained eighty thousand men of age to bear arms; a calculation which, although, as I presume, much exaggerated, is evidence of great actual populousness. Such a city was absolutely impregnable at a time when artillery was very imperfect both in its construction and management. Hence, though the citizens of Ghent were gen­erally beaten in the field with great slaughter, they obtained tolerable terms from their masters, who knew the danger of forcing them to a desperate defence.

No taxes were raised in Flanders, or indeed throughout the dominions of Burgundy, without consent of the three es­tates. In the time of Philip not a great deal of money was levied upon the people; but Charles obtained every year a pretty large subsidy, which he expended in the hire of Italian and English mercenaries. An almost uninterrupted suc­cess had attended his enterprises for a length of time, and rendered his disposition still more overweening. His first failure was before Neuss, a little town near Cologne, the possession of which would have made him nearly master of the whole course of the Rhine, for he had already obtained the land-graviate of Alsace, [a.d. 1474.] Though compelled to raise the siege, he succeeded in occupying, next year, the duchy of Lorraine. But his overthrow was reserved for an enemy whom he despised, and whom none could have thought equal to the contest. The Swiss had given him some slight provocation, for which they were ready to atone; but Charles was unused to forbear; and perhaps Switzerland came within his projects of conquest. At Granson, in the Pays de Vaud, he was entirely routed, with more disgrace than slaughter. [a.d. 1476.] But having reassembled his troops, and met the confederate army of Swiss and Germans at Morat, near Friburg, he was again defeated with vast loss. On this day the power of Burgundy was dissipated: deserted by his allies, betrayed by his merce­naries, he set his life upon another cast at Nancy, desperately giving battle to the Duke of Lorraine with a small dispirited army, and perished in the engagement, [a.d. 1477.]

Now was the moment when Louis, who had held back while his enemy was breaking his force against the rocks of Switzerland, came to gather a harvest which his labor had not reaped. Charles left an only daughter, undoubted heiress of Flanders and Artois, as well as of his dominions out of France, but whose right of succession to the duchy of Burgundy was more questionable. Originally the great fiefs of the crown descended to females, and this was the case with respect to the two first mentioned. But John had granted Burgundy to his son Philip by way of appanage; and it was contended that the appanages reverted to the crown in default of male heirs. In the form of Philip’s investiture, the duchy was granted to him and his lawful heirs, without designation of sex. The construction, there­fore, must be left to the established course of law. This, how­ever, was by no means acknowledged by Mary, Charles’s daughter, who maintained both that no general law restricted appanages to male heirs, and that Burgundy had always been considered as a feminine fief, John himself having possessed it, not by reversion as king (for descendants of the first dukes were then living), but by inheritance derived through females. Such was this question of succession between Louis XI and Mary of Burgundy, upon the merits of whose pretensions I will not pretend altogether to decide, but shall only observe that, if Charles had conceived his daughter to be excluded from this part of his inheritance, he would probably, at Conflans or Peronne, where he treated upon the vantage-ground, have attempted at least to obtain a renunciation of Louis's claim.

There was one obvious mode of preventing all further contest and of aggrandizing the French monarchy far more than by the reunion of Burgundy. This was the marriage of Mary with the dauphin, which was ardently wished in France. Whatever obstacles might occur to this connection, it was natural to expect on the opposite side—from Mary’s repugnance to an infant husband, or from the jealousy which her subjects were likely to entertain of being incorporated with a country worse governed than their own. The arts of Louis would have been well employed in smoothing these impediments.” But he chose to seize upon as many towns as, in those critical circumstances, lay exposed to him, and stripped the young duchess of Artois and Franche-Comté. Expectations of the marriage he sometimes held out, but, as it seems, without sincerity. Indeed he contrived irreconcilably to alienate Mary by a shameful perfidy, betraying the ministers whom she had intrusted upon a secret mission to the people of Ghent, who put them to the torture, and afterwards to death, in the presence and amidst the tears and supplications of their mis­tress. Thus the French alliance becoming odious in France, this princess married Maximilian of Austria, son of the Emperor Frederic—a connection which Louis strove to prevent, though it was impossible then to foresee that it was ordained to retard the growth of France and to bias the fate of Europe during three hundred years, [a.d. 1477.] This war lasted till after the death of Mary, who left one son, Philip, and one daughter, Margaret. By a treaty of peace concluded at Arras, in 1482, it was agreed that this daughter should become the dauphin’s wife, with Franche-Comté and Artois, which Louis held already, for her dowry, to be restored in case the marriage should not take effect. The homage of Flanders was reserved to the crown.

Meanwhile Louis was lingering in disease and torments of mind, the retribution of fraud and tyranny. Two years before his death he was struck with an apoplexy, from which he never wholly recovered. As he felt his disorder increasing, he shut himself up in a palace near Tours, to hide from the world the knowledge of his decline. His solitude was like that of Tiberius at Capreae, full of terror and suspicion, and deep consciousness of universal hatred. All ranks, he well knew, had their several injuries to remember: the clergy, whose liberties he had sacrificed to the see of Rome, by revoking the Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VII; the princes, whose blood he had poured upon the scaffold; the parliament, whose course of justice he had turned aside; the commons, who groaned under his extortion, and were plundered by his soldiery. The palace, fenced with portcullises and spikes of iron, was guarded by archers and cross-bow men, who shot at any that approached by night. Few entered this den; but to them he showed himself in magnificent apparel, contrary to his former custom, hoping thus to disguise the change of his meagre body. He distrusted his friends and kindred, his daughter and his son, the last of whom he had not suffered even to read or write, lest he should too soon become his rival. No man ever so much feared death, to avert which he stooped to every meanness and sought every remedy. His physician had sworn that if he were dismissed the king would not survive a week; and Louis, enfeebled by sickness and terror, bore the rudest usage from this man, and endeavored to secure his services by vast rewards. Always credulous in relics, though seldom restrained by superstition from any crime, he eagerly bought up treasures of this sort, and even procured a Calabrian hermit, of noted sanctity, to journey as far as Tours in order to restore his health. Philip de Comines, who attended him during his infirmity, draws a parallel between the torments he then endured and those he had formerly inflicted on others. Indeed the whole of his life was vexation of spirit. “I have known him,” says Comines, “and been his servant in the flower of his age, and in the time of his greatest prosperity; but never did I see him without uneasiness and care. Of all amusements he loved only the chase, and hawking in its season. And in this he had almost as much uneasiness as pleasure: for he rode hard and got up early, and sometimes went a great way, and regarded no weather; so that he used to return very weary, and almost ever in wrath with someone. I think that from his childhood he never had any respite of labor and trouble to his death. And I am certain that, if all the happy days of his life, in which he had more enjoyment than uneasiness, were numbered, they would be found very few; and at least that they would be twenty of sorrow for every one of pleasure.”

Charles VIII was about thirteen years old when he succeeded his father Louis, [a.d. 1483.] Though the law of France fixed the majority of her kings at that age, yet it seems not to have been strictly regarded on this occasion, and at least Charles was a minor by nature, if not by law. A contest arose, therefore, for the regency, which Louis had intrusted to his daughter Anne, wife of the Lord de Beaujeu, one of the Bourbon family. The Duke of Orleans, afterward Louis XII, claimed it as presumptive heir of the crown, and was seconded by most of the princes. Anne, however, maintained her ground, and ruled France for several years in her brother’s name with singular spirit and address, in spite of the rebellions which the Orleans party raised up against her. These were supported by the Duke of Brittany, the last of the great vassals of the crown, whose daughter, as he had no male issue, was the object of as many suitors as Mary of Burgundy.

The duchy of Brittany was peculiarly circumstanced. The inhabitants, whether sprung from the ancient republicans of Armorica, or, as some have thought, from an emigration of Britons during the Saxon invasion, had not originally belonged to the body of the French monarchy. They were governed by their own princes and laws, though tributary, perhaps, as the weaker to the stronger, to the Merovingian kings. In the ninth century the dukes of Brittany did homage to Charles the Bald, the right of which was transferred afterward to the dukes of Normandy. This formality, at that time no token of real subjection, led to consequences beyond the views of either party. For when the feudal chains that had hung so loosely upon the shoulders of the great vassals began to be straightened by the dexterity of the court, Brittany found itself drawn among the rest to the same centre. The old privileges of independence were treated as usurpation; the dukes were menaced with confiscation of their fief, their right of coining money disputed, their jurisdiction impaired by appeals to the parliament of Paris. However, they stood boldly upon their right, and always refused to pay liege-homage, which implied an obligation of service to the lord, in contradistinction to simple homage, which was a mere symbol of feudal dependence.

About the time that Edward III made pretension to the crown of France, a controversy somewhat resembling it arose in the duchy of Brittany, between the families of Blois and Montfort. This led to a long and obstinate war, connected all along, as a sort of underplot, with the great drama of France and England. At last Montfort, Edward’s ally, by the defeat and death of his antagonist, obtained the duchy, of which Charles V soon after gave him the investiture. This prince and his family were generally inclined to English connections; but the Bretons would seldom permit them to be effectual. Two cardinal feelings guided the conduct of this brave and faithful people; the one, an attachment to the French nation and monarchy in opposition to foreign enemies; the other, a zeal for their own privileges and the family of Montfort, in opposition to the encroachments of the crown. In Francis II, the present duke, the male line of that family was about to be extinguished. His daughter Anne was naturally the object of many suitors, among whom were particularly distinguished the Duke of Orleans, who seems to have been preferred by herself; the lord of Albret, a member of the Gascon family of Foix, favored by the Breton nobility, as most likely to preserve the peace and liberties of their country, but whose age rendered him not very acceptable to a youthful princess; and Maximilian, king of the Romans. Brittany was rent by factions and overrun by the armies of the regent of France, who did not lose this opportunity of interfering with its domestic troubles, and of persecuting her private enemy, the Duke of Orleans. Anne of Brittany, upon her father’s death, finding no other means of escaping the addresses of Albret, was married by proxy to Maximilian, [a.d. 1489.] This, however, aggravated the evils of the country, since France was resolved at all events to break off so dangerous a connection. And as Maximilian himself was unable, or took not sufficient pains, to relieve his betrothed wife from her embarrassments, she was ultimately compelled to accept the hand of Charles VIII. He had long been engaged by the treaty of Arras to marry the daughter of Maximilian, and that princess was educated at the French court. But this engagement had not prevented several years of hostilities, and continual intrigues with the towns of Flanders against Maximilian. The double injury which the latter sustained in the marriage of Charles with the heiress of Brittany seemed likely to excite a protracted contest; but the King of France, who had other objects in view, and perhaps was conscious that he had not acted a fair part, soon came to an accommodation, by which he re­stored Artois and Franche-Comté. Both these provinces had revolted to Maximilian; so that Charles must have continued the war at some disadvantage.

France was now consolidated into a great kingdom: the feudal system was at an end. [a.d. 1492.] The vigor of Philip Augustus, the paternal wisdom of St. Louis, the policy of Philip the Fair, had laid the foundations of a powerful monarchy, which neither the arms of England nor seditions of Paris nor rebellions of the princes were able to shake. Be­sides the original fiefs of the French crown, it had acquired two countries beyond the Rhone, which properly depended only upon the empire, Dauphine, under Philip of Valois, by the bequest of Humbert, the last of its princes; and Provence, under Louis XI, by that of Charles of Anjou. Thus having conquered herself, if I may use the phrase, and no longer apprehensive of any foreign enemy, France was prepared, under a monarch flushed with sanguine ambition, to carry her arms into other countries, and to contest the prize of glory and power upon the ample theatre of Europe.