The History Of France

History Of Europe During The Middle Ages
Book: Book I:
Author: Hallam, Henry

Part Nine

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. ^i 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; ^j
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.]

[Footnote i: Compare Rym. t. ix. pp. 34, 138, 304, 394. The last reference is
to the treaty of Calais.]

[Footnote j: Rym. t. ix. pp. 628, 763. Nothing can be more insolent than the
tone of Henry's instructions to his commissioners, p. 628.]

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. ^k
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.

[Footnote k: As if through shame on account of what was to follow, the first
articles contain petty stipulations about the dower of Catherine. The sixth
gives the kingdom of France after Charles' decease to Henry and his heirs.
The seventh concedes the immediate regency. Henry kept Normandy by right of
conquest, not in virtue of any stipulation in the treaty, which he was too
proud to admit. The treaty of Troyes was confirmed by the States-General, or
rather by a partial convention which assumed the name, in December, 1420.
Rym. t. x. p. 30. The parliament of England did the same. Id. p. 110. It is
printed at full length by Villaret, t. xv. p. 84.]

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, ^l
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. ^m 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.
^n 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.

[Footnote l: Monstrelet, part i. f. 303.]

[Footnote m: Rym. t. x. p. 392. This contract was for 600 men-at-arms,
including six bannerets and thirty-four bachelors; and for 1700 archers; bien
et suffisamment montez, armez, et arraiez comme a leurs estats appartient.
The pay was, for the earl, 6s. 8d. a day; for a banneret, 4s.; for a bachelor,
2s.; for every other man-at-arms, 1s.; and for each archer, 6d. Artillery-men
were paid higher than men-at-arms.]

[Footnote n: Villaret, t. xiv. p. 302.]

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 for 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' 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. ^o 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. ^p

[Footnote o: Rym. t. x. pp. 458-472. This, however, is conjecture; for the
cause of their desertion is not mentioned in these proclamations, though Rymer
had printed it in their title. But the Duke of Bedford speaks of the turn of
success as astonishing, and due only to the superstitious fear which the
English had conceived of a female magician. Rymer, t. x. p. 408.]

[Footnote p: M. de l'Averdy, to whom we owe the copious account of the
proceedings against Joan of Arc, as well as those which Charles VII.
instituted in order to rescind the former, contained in the third volume of
Notices des Manuscrits du Roi, has justly made this remark, which is founded
on the eagerness shown by the University of Paris in the prosecution, and on
its being conducted before an inquisitor; a circumstance exceedingly
remarkable in the ecclesiastical history of France. But another material
observation arises out of this. The Maid was pursued with peculiar bitterness
by her countrymen of the English, or rather Burgundian, faction; a proof that
in 1430 their animosity against Charles VII. was still ardent. [Note XVI.]]

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, ^q 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.

[See Joan Of Arc: The spirit which Joan of Arc had roused did not subside.]

[Footnote q: It is a current piece of history that Agnes Sorel, mistress of
Charles VII., had the merit of dissuading him from giving up the kingdom as
lost at the time when Orleans was besieged in 1428. Mezeray, Daniel,
Villaret, and, I believe, every other modern historian, have mentioned this
circumstance; and some of them, among whom is Hume, with the addition that
Agnes threatened to leave the court of Charles for that of Henry, affirming
that she was born to be the mistress of a great king. The latter part of this
tale is evidently a fabrication, Henry VI. being at the time a child of seven
years old. But I have, to say the least, great doubts of the main story. It
is not mentioned by contemporary writers. On the contrary, what they say of
Agnes leads me to think the dates incompatible. Agnes died (in childbed, as
some say) in 1450; twenty-two years after the siege of Orleans. Monstrelet
says that she had been about five years in the service of the queen; and the
king taking pleasure in her liveliness and wit, common fame had spread abroad
that she lived in concubinage with him. She certainly had a child, and was
willing that it should be thought the king's; but he always denied it, et le
pouvoit bien avoir emprunte ailleurs. Pt. iii. f. 25. Olivier de la Marche,
another contemporary, who lived in the court of Burgundy, says, about the year
1444, le roy avoir nouvellement esleve une pauvre demoiselle, gentifemme,
nommee Agnes Sorel, et mis en tel triumphe et tel pouvoir, que son estat
estoit a comparar aux grandes princesses de royaume, et certes c'estoit une
des plus belles femmes que je vey oncques, et fit en sa qualite beau-coup au
royaume de France. Elle avancoit devers le roy jeunes gens d'armes et gentils
compaignons, et dont le roy depuis fut bien servy. La Marche; Mem. Hist. t.
viii. p. 145. Du Clercq, whose memoirs were first published in the same
collection, says that Agnes mourut par poison moult jeune. Ib. t. viii. p.
410. And the continuator of Monstrelet, probably John Chartier, speaks of the
youth and beauty of Agnes, which exceeded that of any other woman in France,
and of the favor shown her by the king, which so much excited the displeasure
of the dauphin, on his mother's account, and he was suspected of having caused
her to be poisoned. fol. 68. The same writer affirms of Charles VII. that he
was, before the peace of Arras, de moult belle vie et devote; but afterwards
enlaidit sa vie de tenir malles femmes en son hostel, &c. fol. 86.

It is for the reader to judge how far these passages render it improbable
that Agnes Sorel was the mistress of Charles VII. at the siege of Orleans in
1428, and, consequently, whether she is entitled to the praise which she has
received, of being instrumental in the deliverance of France. The tradition,
however, is as ancient as Francis I., who made in her honor a quatrain which
is well known. This probably may have brought the story more into vogue, and
led Mezeray, who was not very critical, to insert it in his history, from
which it has passed to his followers. Its origin was apparently the popular
character of Agnes. She was the Nell Gwyn of France; and justly beloved, not
only for her charity and courtesy, but for bringing forward men of merit, and
turning her influence, a virtue very rare in her class, towards the public
interest. From thence it was natural to bestow upon her, in aftertimes, a
merit not ill suited to her character, but which an accurate observation of
dates seems to render impossible. But whatever honor I am compelled to
detract from Agnes Sorel, I am willing to transfer undiminished to a more
unblemished female, the injured queen of Charles VII., Mary of Anjou, who has
hitherto only shared with the usurper of her rights the credit of awakening
Charles from his lethargy. Though I do not know on what foundation even this
rests, it is not unlikely to be true, and, in deference to the sex, let it
pass undisputed.

Sismondi (vol. xiii. p. 204), where he first mentions Agnes Sorel, says
that many of the circumstances told of her influence over Charles VII. are
fabulous. "Cependant il faut bien qu'Agnes ait merite, en quelque maniere, la
reconnoissance qui s'est attachee a son nom." This is a loose and inconclusive
way of reasoning in history; many popular traditions have no basis at all.
And in p. 345 he slights the story told in Brantome to the honor of Agnes, as
well he might, since it is ridiculously untrue that she threatened Charles to
go to the court of Henry VI., knowing herself to be born to be the mistress of
a great king. Sismondi afterwards (pp. 497 and 604) quotes, as I have done,
Chartier and Jacques du Clereq; but without adverting to the incongruity of
their dates with the current story. M. Michelet does not seem to attach much
credit to it, though he adopts the earlier date for the king's attachment to
Agnes.]

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; ^r 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. ^s As foreign enemies, they were odious even in that part of France
which had acknowledged Henry; ^t 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. ^u 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.]

[Footnote r: Villaret says, Les plenipotentiares de Charles offrirent la
cession de la Normandie et de la Guienne en toute propriete sous la clause de
l'hommage a la couronne, t. xv. p. 174. But he does not quote his authority,
and I do not like to rely on an historian not eminent for accuracy in fact or
precision in language. If this expression is correct, the French must have
given up the feudal appeal or ressort which had been the great point in
dispute between Edward III. and Charles V., preserving only a homage per
paragium, as it was called, which implied no actual supremacy. Monstrelet
says only, que per certaines conditions luy seroient accordees les seign
euries de Guienne et Normandie.]

[Footnote s: See the instructions given to the English negotiators in 1439, at
length, in Rymer, t. x. p. 724.]

[Footnote t: Villaret, t. xiv. p. 448.]

[Footnote u: Amelgard, from whose unpublished memoirs of Charles VII. and
Louis XI. some valuable extracts are made in the Notices des Manuscrits, t. i.
p. 403, attributes the delay in recovering Normandy solely to the king's
slothfulness and sensuality. In fact the people of that province rose upon
the English and almost emancipated themselves with little aid from Charles.]

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. ^v 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. ^w 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. ^x

[Footnote v: Monstrelet, passim. A long metrical complaint of the people of
France, curious as a specimen of versification, as well as a testimony to the
misfortunes of the time, may be found in this historian, part i. fol. 321.
Notwithstanding the treaty of Arras, the French and Burgundians made continual
incursions upon each other's frontiers, especially about Laon and in the
Vermandois. So that the people had no help, says Monstrelet, si non de crier
miserablement a Dieu leur createur vengeance; et que pis estoit, quand ils
obtenoient aucun sauf-conduit d'aucuns capitaines, peu en estoit entretenu,
mesmement tout d'un parti. part ii. fol. 139. These pillagers were called
Ecorcheurs, because they stripped the people of their shirts. And this name
superseded that of Armagnacs, by which one side had hitherto been known. Even
Xaintrailles and La Hire, two of the bravest champions of France, were
disgraced by these habits of outrage. Ibid. fols. 144, 150, 175. Oliv. de la
Marche, in Collec. des Memoires, t. viii. p. 25; t. v. p. 323.

Pour la plupart, says Villaret, se faire guerrier, ou voleur de grands
chemins, signifioit la meme chose.]

[Footnote w: Monstrelet, part ii. f. 79. This John of Luxemburg, Count de
Ligny, was a distinguished captain on the Burgundian side, and for a long time
would not acquiesce in the treaty of Arras. He disgraced himself by giving up
to the Duke of Bedford his prisoner Joan of Arc for 10,000 francs. The famous
Count of St. Pol was his nephew, and inherited his great possessions in the
county of Vermandois. Monstrelet relates a singular proof of the good
education which his uncle gave him. Some prisoners having been made in an
engagement, si fut le jeune Comte de St. Pol mis en voye de guerre; car le
Comte de Ligny son oncle luy en feit occire aucuns, le quel y prenoit grand
plaisir, part ii. fol. 95.]

[Footnote x: Villaret, t. xv. p. 327.]

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), under 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. ^z 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. ^a

[Footnote y: The confederacy formed at Nevers in 1441, by the dukes of Orleans
and Bourbon, with many other princes, made a variety of demands, all relating
to the grievances which different classes of the state, or individuals among
themselves, suffered under the administration of Charles. These may be found
at length in Monstrelet, pt. ii. f. 193; and are a curious document of the
change which was then working in the French constitution. In his answer the
king claims the right, in urgent cases, of levying taxes without waiting for
the consent of the States-General.]

[Footnote z: Olivier de la Marche speaks very much in favor of the companies
of ordonnance, as having repressed the plunderers, and restored internal
police. Collect. des Memoires, t. viii. p. 148. Amelgard pronounces a
vehement philippic against them; but it is probable that his observation of
the abuses they had fallen into was confined to the reign of Louis XI.
Notices des Manuscrits, ubi supra.]

[Footnote a: The insurrection of Guienne in 1452, which for a few months
restored that province to the English crown, is accounted for in the curious
memoirs of Amelgard, above mentioned. It proceeded solely from the arbitrary
taxes imposed by Charles VII. in order to defray the expenses of his regular
army. The people of Bordeaux complained of exactions not only contrary to
their ancient privileges, but to the positive conditions of their
capitulation. But the king was deaf to such remonstrances. The province of
Guienne, he says, then perceived that it was meant to subject it to the same
servitude as the rest of France, where the leeches of the state boldly
maintain as a fundamental maxim, that the king has a right to tax all his
subjects how and when he pleases; which is to advance that in France no man
has anything that he can call his own, and that the king can take all at his
pleasure; the proper condition of slaves, whose peculium enjoyed by their
master's permission belongs to him, like their persons, and may be taken away
whenever he chooses. Thus situated, the people of Guienne, especially those
of Bordeaux, alarmed themselves, and, excited by some of the nobility,
secretly sought about for means to regain their ancient freedom; and having
still many connections with persons of rank in England, they negotiated with
them, &c. Notices des Manuscrits, p. 433. The same cause is assigned to this
revolution by Du Clercq, also a contemporary writer, living in the dominions
of Burgundy. Collection des Memoires, t. ix. p. 400. Villaret has not known,
or not chosen to know, anything of the matter.]

 

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