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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
The Hundred Years' War. - Philip VI. And John II.
by Guizot, M.


We have just been spectators at the labor of formation of the French kingship and the French nation. We have seen monarchical unity and national unity rising, little by little, out of and above the feudal system, which had been the first result of barbarians settling upon the ruins of the Roman empire. In the fourteenth century, a new and a vital question arose: Will the French dominion preserve its nationality? Will the kingship remain French, or pass to the foreigner? This question brought ravages upon France, and kept her fortunes in suspense for a hundred years of war with England, from the reign of Philip of Valois to that of Charles VII.; and a young girl of Lorraine, called Joan of Arc, had the glory of communicating to France that decisive impulse which brought to a triumphant issue the independence of the French nation and kingship.

As we have seen in the preceding chapter, the elevation of Philip of Valois to the throne, as representative of the male line amongst the descendants of Hugh Capet, took place by virtue, not of any old written law, but of a traditional right, recognized and confirmed by two recent resolutions taken at the death of the two eldest sons of Philip the Handsome. The right thus promulgated became at once a fact accepted by the whole of France; Philip of Valois had for rival none but a foreign prince, and "there was no mind in France," say contemporary chroniclers, "to be subjects of the King of England." Some weeks after his accession, on the 29th of May, 1328, Philip was crowned at Rheims, in presence of a brilliant assemblage of princes and lords, French and foreign; and next year, on the 6th of June, Edward III., King of England, being summoned to fulfil a vassal's duties by doing homage to the King of France for the duchy of Aquitaine, which he held, appeared in the cathedral of Amiens, with his crown on his head, his sword at his side, and his gilded spurs on his heels. When he drew near to the throne, the Viscount de Melun, king's chamberlain, invited him to lay aside his crown, his sword, and his spurs, and go down on his knees before Philip. Not without a murmur, Edward obeyed; but when the chamberlain said to him, "Sir, you, as Duke of Aquitaine, became liegeman of my lord the king who is here, and do promise to keep towards him faith and loyalty," Edward protested, saying that he owed only simple homage, and not liege-homage—a closer bond, imposing on the vassal more stringent obligations [to serve and defend his suzerain against every enemy whatsoever]. "Cousin," said Philip to him, "we would not deceive you, and what you have now done contenteth us well until you have returned to your own country, and seen from the acts of your predecessors what you ought to do."

"Gramercy, dear sir," answered the King of England; and with the reservation he had just made, and which was added to the formula of homage, he placed his hands between the hands of the King of France, who kissed him on the mouth, and accepted his homage, confiding in Edward's promise to certify himself by reference to the archives of England of the extent to which his ancestors had been bound. The certification took place, and on the 30th of March, 1331, about two years after his visit to Amiens, Edward III. recognized, by letters express, "that the said homage which we did at Amiens to the King of France in general terms, is and must be understood as liege; and that we are bound, as Duke of Aquitaine and peer of France, to show him faith and loyalty."

The relations between the two kings were not destined to be for long so courteous and so pacific. Even before the question of the succession to the throne of France arose between them they had adopted contrary policies. When Philip was crowned at Rheims, Louis de Nevers, Count of Flanders, repaired thither with a following of eighty-six knights, and he it was to whom the right belonged of carrying the sword of the kingdom. The heralds-at-arms repeated three times, "Count of Flanders, if you are here, come and do your duty." He made no answer. The king was astounded, and bade him explain himself. "My lord," answered the count, "may it please you not to be astounded; they called the Count of Flanders, and not Louis de Nevers." "What then!" replied the king; "are you not the Count of Flanders?" "It is true, sir," rejoined the other, "that I bear the name, but I do not possess the authority; the burghers of Bruges, Ypres, and Cassel have driven me from my land, and there scarce remains but the town of Ghent where I dare show myself." "Fair cousin," said Philip, "we will swear to you by the holy oil which hath this day trickled over our brow that we will not enter Paris again before seeing you reinstated in peaceable possession of the countship of Flanders." Some of the French barons who happened to be present represented to the king that the Flemish burghers were powerful; that autumn was a bad season for a war in their country; and that Louis the Quarreller, in 1315, had been obliged to come to a stand-still in a similar expedition. Philip consulted his constable, Walter de Chatillon, who had served the kings his predecessors in their wars against Flanders. "Whoso hath good stomach for fight," answered the constable, "findeth all times seasonable." "Well, then," said the king, embracing him, "whoso loveth me will follow me." The war thus resolved upon was forthwith begun. Philip, on arriving with his army before Cassel, found the place defended by sixteen thousand Flemings under the command of Nicholas Zannequin, the richest of the burghers of Furnes, and already renowned for his zeal in the insurrection against the count. For several days the French remained inactive around the mountain on which Cassel is built, and which the knights, mounted on iron-clad horses, were unable to scale. The Flemings had planted on a tower of Cassel a flag carrying a cock, with this inscription:—
"When the cock that is hereon shall crow,
The foundling king herein shall go."


They called Philip the foundling king because he had no business to expect to be king. Philip in his wrath gave up to fire and pillage the outskirts of the place. The Flemings marshalled at the top of the mountain made no movement. On the 24th of August, 1328, about three in the afternoon, the French knights had disarmed. Some were playing at chess; others "strolled from tent to tent in their fine robes, in search of amusement;" and the king was asleep in his tent after a long carouse, when all on a sudden his confessor, a Dominican friar, shouted out that the Flemings were attacking the camp. Zannequin, indeed, "came out full softly and without a bit of noise," says Froissart, "with his troops in three divisions, to surprise the French camp at three points. He was quite close to the king's tent, and some chroniclers say that he was already lifting his mace over the head of Philip, who had armed in hot haste, and was defended only by a few knights, of whom one was waving the oriflamme round him, when others hurried up, and Zannequin was forced to stay his hand. At two other points of the camp the attack had failed. The French gathered about the king and the Flemings about Zannequin; and there took place so stubborn a fight, that "of sixteen thousand Flemings who were there not one recoiled," says Froissart, "and all were left there dead and slain in three heaps one upon another, without budging from the spot where the battle had begun." The same evening Philip entered Cassel, which he set on fire, and, in a few days afterwards, on leaving for France, he said to Count Louis, before the French barons, Count, I have worked for you at my own and my barons' expense; I give you back your land, recovered and in peace; so take care that justice be kept up in it, and that I have not, through your fault, to return; for if I do, it will be to my own profit and to your hurt."

The Count of Flanders was far from following the advice of the King of France, and the King of France was far from foreseeing whither he would be led by the road upon which he had just set foot. It has already been pointed out to what a position of wealth, population, and power, industrial and commercial activity had in the thirteenth century raised the towns of Flanders, Bruges, Ghent, Lille, Ypres, Fumes, Courtrai, and Douai, and with what energy they had defended against their lords their prosperity and their liberties. It was the struggle, sometimes sullen, sometimes violent, of feudal lordship against municipal burgherdom. The able and imperious Philip the Handsome had tested the strength of the Flemish cities, and had not cared to push them to extremity. When, in 1322, Count Louis de Nevers, scarcely eighteen years of age, inherited from his grandfather Robert III. the countship of Flanders, he gave himself up, in respect of the majority of towns in the countship, to the same course of oppression and injustice as had been familiar to his predecessors; the burghers resisted him with the same, often ruffianly, energy; and when, after a six years' struggle amongst Flemings, the Count of Flanders, who had been conquered by the burghers, owed his return as master of his countship to the King of the French, he troubled himself about nothing but avenging himself and enjoying his victory at the expense of the vanquished. He chastised, despoiled, proscribed, and inflicted atrocious punishments; and, not content with striking at individuals, he attacked the cities themselves. Nearly all of them, save Ghent, which had been favorable to the count, saw their privileges annulled or curtailed of their most essential guarantees. The burghers of Bruges were obliged to meet the count half way to his castle of Vale, and on their knees implore his pity. At Ypres the bell in the tower was broken up. Philip of Valois made himself a partner in these severities; he ordered the fortifications of Bruges, Ypres, and Courtrai to be destroyed, and he charged French agents to see to their demolition. Absolute power is often led into mistakes by its insolence; but when it is in the hands of rash and reckless mediocrity, there is no knowing how clumsy and blind it can be. Neither the King of France nor the Count of Flanders seemed to remember that the Flemish communes had at their door a natural and powerful ally who could not do without them any more than they could do without him. Woollen stuffs, cloths, carpets, warm coverings of every sort were the chief articles of the manufactures and commerce of Flanders; there chiefly was to be found all that the active and enterprising merchants of the time exported to Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Russia, and even Asia; and it was from England that they chiefly imported their wool, the primary staple of their handiwork. "All Flanders," says Froissart, "was based upon cloth and no wool, no cloth." On the other hand it was to Flanders that England, her land-owners and farmers, sold the fleeces of their flocks; and the two countries were thus united by the bond of their mutual prosperity. The Count of Flanders forgot or defied this fact so far as in 1336, at the instigation, it is said, of the King of France, to have all the English in Flanders arrested and kept in prison. Reprisals were not long deferred. On the 5th of October in the same year the King of England ordered the arrest of all Flemish merchants in his kingdom and the seizure of their goods; and he at the same time prohibited the exportation of wool. "Flanders was given over," says her principal historian, "to desolation; nearly all her looms ceased rattling on one and the same day, and the streets of her cities, but lately filled with rich and busy workmen, were overrun with beggars who asked in vain for work to escape from misery and hunger." The English land-owners and farmers did not suffer so much, but were scarcely less angered; only it was to the King of France and the Count of Flanders rather than their own king that they held themselves indebted for the stagnation of their affairs, and their discontent sought vent only in execration of the foreigner.

When great national interests are to such a point misconceived and injured, there crop up, before long, clear-sighted and bold men who undertake the championship of them, and foment the quarrel to explosion-heat, either from personal views or patriotic feeling. The question of succession to the throne of France seemed settled by the inaction of the King of England, and the formal homage he had come and paid to the King of France at Amiens; but it was merely in abeyance. Many people both in England and in France still thought of it and spoke of it; and many intrigues bred of hope or fear were kept up with reference to it at the courts of the two kings. When the rumblings of anger were loud on both sides in consequence of affairs in Flanders, two men of note, a Frenchman and a Fleming, considering that the hour had come, determined to revive the question, and turn the great struggle which could not fail to be excited thereby to the profit of their own and their countries' cause, for it is singular how ambition and devotion, selfishness and patriotism, combine and mingle in the human soul, and even in great souls.

Philip VI. had embroiled himself with a prince of his line, Robert of Artois, great-grandson of Robert the first Count of Artois, who was a brother of St. Louis, and was killed during the crusade in Egypt, at the battle of Mansourah. As early as the reign of Philip the Handsome Robert claimed the count-ship of Artois as his heritage; but having had his pretensions rejected by a decision of the peers of the kingdom, he had hoped for more success under Philip of Valois, whose sister he had married. Philip tried to satisfy him with another domain raised to a peerage; but Robert, more and more discontented, got involved in a series of intrigues, plots, falsehoods, forgeries, and even, according to public report, imprisonments and crimes, which, in 1332, led to his being condemned by the court of peers to banishment and the confiscation of his property. He fled for refuge first to Brabant, and then to England, to the court of Edward III., who received him graciously, and whom he forthwith commenced inciting to claim the crown of France, "his inheritance," as he said, "which King Philip holds most wrongfully." Edward III., who was naturally prudent, and had been involved, almost ever since his accession, in a stubborn war with Scotland, cared but little for rushing into a fresh and far more serious enterprise. But of all human passions hatred is perhaps the most determined in the prosecution of its designs. Robert accompanied the King of England in his campaigns northward; and "Sir," said he, whilst they were marching together over the heaths of Scotland, "leave this poor country, and give your thoughts to the noble crown of France." When Edward, on returning to London, was self-complacently rejoicing at his successes over his neighbors, Robert took pains to pique his self-respect, by expressing astonishment that he did not seek more practical and more brilliant successes. Poetry sometimes reveals sentiments and processes about which history is silent. We read in a poem of the fourteenth century, entitled The vow on the heron, "In the season when summer is verging upon its decline, and the gay birds are forgetting their sweet converse on the trees, now despoiled of their verdure, Robert seeks for consolation in the pleasures of fowling, for he cannot forget the gentle land of France, the glorious country whence he is an exile. He carries a falcon, which goes flying over the waters till a heron falls its prey; then he calls two young damsels to take the bird to the king's palace, singing the while in sweet discourse: 'Fly, fly, ye honorless knights; give place to gallants on whom love smiles; here is the dish for gallants who are faithful to their mistresses. The heron is the most timid of birds, for it fears its own shadow; it is for the heron to receive the vows of King Edward, who, though lawful King of France, dares not claim that noble heritage.' At these words the king flushed, his heart was wroth, and he cried aloud, 'Since coward is thrown in my teeth, I make vow [on this heron] to the God of Paradise that ere a single year rolls by I will defy the King of Paris.' Count Robert hears and smiles; and low to his own heart he says, 'Now have I won: and my heron will cause a great war.'"

Robert's confidence in this tempter's work of his was well founded, but a little premature. Edward III. did not repel him; complained loudly of the assistance rendered by the King of France to the Scots; gave an absolute refusal to Philip's demands for the extradition of the rebel Robert, and retorted by protesting, in his turn, against the reception accorded in France to David Bruce, the rival of his own favorite Baliol for the throne of Scotland. In Aquitaine he claimed as of his own domain some places still occupied by Philip. Philip, on his side, neglected no chance of causing Edward embarrassment, and more or less overtly assisting his foes. The two kings were profoundly distrustful one of the other, foresaw, both of them, that they would one day come to blows, and prepared for it by mutually working to entangle and enfeeble one another. But neither durst as yet proclaim his wishes or his fears, and take the initiative in those unknown events which war must bring about to the great peril of their people and perhaps of themselves. From 1334 to 1337, as they continued to advance towards the issue, foreseen and at the same time deferred, of this situation, they were both of them seeking allies in Europe for their approaching struggle. Philip had a notable one under his thumb, the pope at that time settled at Avignon; and he made use of him for the purpose of proposing a new crusade, in which Edward III. should be called upon to join with him. If Edward complied, any enterprise on his part against France would become impossible; and if he declined, Christendom would cry fie upon him. Two successive popes, John XXII. and Benedict XII., preached the crusade, and offered their mediation to settle the differences between the two kings; but they were unsuccessful in both their attempts. The two kings strained every nerve to form laic alliances. Philip did all he could to secure to himself the fidelity of Count Louis of Flanders, whom the King of England several times attempted, but in vain, to win over. Philip drew into close relations with himself the Kings of Bohemia and Navarre, the Dukes of Lorraine and Burgundy, the Count of Foix, the Genoese, the Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and many other lords. The two principal neighbors of Flanders, the Count of Hainault and the Duke of Brabant, received the solicitations of both kings at one and the same time. The former had to wife Joan of Valois, sister of the King of France, but he had married his daughter Philippa to the King of England; and when Edward's envoys came and asked for his support in "the great business which their master had in view." "If the king can succeed in it," said the count, "I shall be right glad. It may well be supposed that my heart is with him, him who hath my daughter, rather than with King Philip, though I have married his sister; for he hath filched from me the hand of the young Duke of Brabant, who should have wedded my daughter Isabel, and hath kept him for a daughter of his own. So help will I my dear and beloved son the King of England to the best of my power. But he must get far stronger aid than mine, for Hainault is but a little place in comparison with the kingdom of France, and England is too far off to succor us." "Dear sir," said the envoys, "advise us of what lords our master might best seek aid, and in what he might best put his trust." "By my soul," said the count, "I could not point to lord so powerful to aid him in this business as would be the Duke of Brabant, who is his cousin-german, the Duke of Gueldres, who hath his sister to wife, and Sire de Fauquemont. They are those who would have most men-at-arms in the least time, and they are right good soldiers; provided that money be given them in proportion, for they are lords and men who are glad of pay." Edward III. went for powerful allies even beyond the Rhine; he treated with Louis V. of Bavaria, Emperor of Germany; he even had a solemn interview with him at a diet assembled at Coblenz, and Louis named Edward vicar imperial throughout all the empire situated on the left bank of the Rhine, with orders to all the princes of the Low Countries to follow and obey him, for a space of seven years, in the field. But Louis of Bavaria was a tottering emperor, excommunicated by the pope, and with a formidable competitor in Frederick of Austria. When the time for action arrived, King John of Bohemia, a zealous ally of the French king, persuaded the Emperor of Germany that his dignity would be compromised if he were to go and join the army of the English king, in whose pay he would appear to have enlisted; and Louis of Bavaria withdrew from his alliance with Edward III., sending back the subsidies he had received from him.

Which side were the Flemings themselves to take in a conflict of such importance, and already so hot even before it had reached bursting point? It was clearly in Flanders that each king was likely to find his most efficient allies; and so it was there that they made the most strenuous applications. Edward III. hastened to restore between England and the Flemish communes the commercial relations which had been for a while disturbed by the arrest of the traders in both countries. He sent into Flanders, even to Ghent, ambassadors charged to enter into negotiations with the burghers; and one of the most considerable amongst these burghers, Solver of Courtrai, who had but lately supported Count Louis in his quarrels with the people of Bruges, loudly declared that the alliance of the King of England was the first requirement of Flanders, and gave apartments in his own house to one of the English envoys. Edward proposed the establishment in Flanders of a magazine for English wools; and he gave assurance to such Flemish weavers as would settle in England of all the securities they could desire. He even offered to give his daughter Joan in marriage to the son of the Count of Flanders. Philip, on his side, tried hard to reconcile the communes of Flanders to their count, and so make them faithful to himself; he let them off two years' payment of a rent due to him of forty thousand livres of Paris per annum; he promised them the monopoly of exporting wools from France; he authorized the Brugesmen to widen the moats of their city, and even to repair its ramparts. The King of England's envoys met in most of the Flemish cities with a favor which was real, but intermingled with prudent reservations, and Count Louis of Flanders remained ever closely allied with the King of France, "for he was right French and loyal," says Froissart, "and with good reason, for he had the King of France almost alone to thank for restoring him to his country by force."

Whilst, by both sides, preparations were thus being made on the Continent for war, the question which was to make it burst forth was being decided in England. In the soul of Edward temptation overcame indecision. As early as the month of June, 1336, in a Parliament assembled at Northampton, he had complained of the assistance given by the King of France to the Scots, and he had expressed a "hope that if the French and the Scots were to join, they would at last offer him battle, which the latter had always carefully avoided." In September of the same year he employed similar language in a Parliament held at Nottingham, and he obtained therefrom subsidies for the war going on not only in Scotland, but also in Aquitaine, against the French king's lieutenants. In April and May of the following year, 1337, he granted to Robert of Artois, his tempter for three years past, court favors which proved his resolution to have been already taken. On the 21st of August following he formally declared war against the King of France, and addressed to all the sheriffs, archbishops, and bishops of his kingdom a circular in which he attributed the initiative to Philip; on the 26th of August he gave his ally, the Emperor of Germany, notice of what he had just done, whilst, for the first time, insultingly describing Philip as "setting himself up for King of France." At last, on the 7th of October, 1337, he proclaimed himself King of France, as his lawful inheritance, designating as representatives and supporters of his right the Duke of Brabant, the Marquis of Juliers, the Count of Hainault, and William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton.

The enterprise had no foundation in right, and seemed to have few chances of success. If the succession to the crown of France had not been regulated beforehand by a special and positive law, Philip of Valois had on his side the traditional right of nearly three centuries past and actual possession without any disputes having arisen in France upon the subject. His title had been expressly declared by the peers of the kingdom, sanctioned by the Church, and recognized by Edward himself, who had come to pay him homage. He had the general and free assent of his people: to repeat the words of the chroniclers of the time, "There was no mind in France to be subjects of the King of England." Philip VI. was regarded in Europe as a greater and more powerful sovereign than Edward III. He had the pope settled in the midst of his kingdom; and he often traversed it with an array of valiant nobility whom he knew how to support and serve on occasion as faithfully as he was served by them. "He was highly prized and honored," says Froissart, "for the victory he had won (at Cassel) over the Flemings, and also for the handsome service he had done his cousin Count Louis. He did thereby abide in great prosperity and honor, and he greatly increased the royal state; never had there been king in France, it was said, who had kept state like King Philip, and he provided tourneys and jousts and diversions in great abundance." No national interest, no public ground, was provocative of war between the two peoples; it was a war of personal ambition, like that which in the eleventh century William the Conqueror had carried into England. The memory of that great event was still, in the fourteenth century, so fresh in France, that when the pretensions of Edward were declared, and the struggle was begun, an assemblage of Normans, barons and knights, or, according to others, the Estates of Normandy themselves, came and proposed to Philip to undertake once more, and at their own expense, the conquest of England, if he would put at their head his eldest son, John, their own duke. The king received their deputation at Vincennes, on the 23d of March, 1339, and accepted their offer. They bound themselves to supply for the expedition four thousand men-at-arms and twenty thousand foot, whom they promised to maintain for ten weeks, and even a fortnight beyond, if, when the Duke of Normandy had crossed to England, his council should consider the prolongation necessary. The conditions in detail and the subsequent course of the enterprise thus projected were minutely regulated and settled in a treaty published by Dutillet in 1588, from a copy found at Caen when Edward III. became master of that city in 1346. The events of the war, the long fits of hesitation on the part of both kings, and the repeated alternations from hostilities to truces and truces to hostilities, prevented anything from coming of this proposal, the authenticity of which has been questioned by M. Michelet amongst others, but the genuineness of which has been demonstrated by M. Adolph Despont, member of the appeal-court of Caen, in his learned Histoire du Cotentin.

Edward III., though he had proclaimed himself King of France, did not at the outset of his claim adopt the policy of a man firmly resolved and burning to succeed. From 1337 to 1340 he behaved as if he were at strife with the Count of Flanders rather than with the King of France. He was incessantly to and fro, either by embassy or in person, between England, Flanders, Hainault, Brabant, and even Germany, for the purpose of bringing the princes and people to actively co-operate with him against his rival; and during this diplomatic movement such was the hostility between the King of England and the Count of Flanders that Edward's ambassadors thought it impossible for them to pass through Flanders in safety, and went to Holland for a ship in which to return to England. Nor were their fears groundless; for the Count of Flanders had caused to be arrested, and was still detaining in prison at the castle of Rupelmonde, the Fleming Sohier of Courtrai, who had received into his house at Ghent one of the English envoys, and had shown himself favorable to their cause. Edward keenly resented these outrages, demanded, but did not obtain, the release of Sohier of Courtrai, and by way of revenge gave orders in November, 1337, to two of his bravest captains, the Earl of Derby and Walter de Manny, to go and attack the fort of Cadsand, situated between the Island of Walcheren and the town of Ecluse (or Sluys), a post of consequence to the Count of Flanders, who had confided the keeping of it to his bastard brother Guy, with five thousand of his most faithful subjects. It was a sanguinary affair. The besieged were surprised, but defended themselves bravely; the landing cost the English dear; the Earl of Derby was wounded and hurled to the ground, but his comrade, Walter de Manny, raised him up with a shout to his men of "Lancaster, for the Earl of Derby;" and at last the English prevailed. The Bastard of Flanders was made prisoner; the town was pillaged and burned; and the English returned to England, and "told their adventure," says Froissart, "to the king, who was right joyous when he saw them and learned how they had sped."

Thus began that war which was to be so cruel and so long. The Flemings bore the first brunt of it. It was a lamentable position for them; their industrial and commercial prosperity was being ruined; their security at home was going from them; their communal liberties were compromised; divisions set in amongst them; by interest and habitual intercourse they were drawn towards England, but the count, their lord, did all he could to turn them away from her, and many amongst them were loath to separate themselves entirely from France. Burghers of Ghent, as they chatted in the thoroughfares and at the cross-roads, said one to another, that they had heard much wisdom, to their mind, from a burgher who was called James Van Artevelde, and who was a brewer of beer. They had heard him say that, if he could obtain a hearing and credit, he would in a little while restore Flanders to good estate, and they would recover all their gains without standing ill with the King of France or the King of England. These sayings began to get spread abroad, insomuch that a quarter or half the city was informed thereof, especially the small folks of the commonalty, whom the evil touched most nearly. They began to assemble in the streets, and it came to pass that one day, after dinner, several went from house to house calling for their comrades, and saying, 'Come and hear the wise man's counsel.' On the 26th of December, 1337, they came to the house of the said James Van Artevelde, and found him leaning against his door.

Far off as they were when they first perceived him, they made him a deep obeisance, and 'Dear sir,' they said, 'we are come to you for counsel; for we are told that by your great and good sense you will restore the country of Flanders to good case. So tell us how.' Then James Van Artevelde came forward, and said, 'Sirs comrades, I am a native and burgher of this city, and here I have my means. Know that I would gladly aid you with all my power, you and all the country; if there were here a man who would be willing to take the lead, I would be willing to risk body and means at his side; and if the rest of ye be willing to be brethren, friends and comrades to me, to abide in all matters at my side, notwithstanding that I am not worthy of it, I will undertake it willingly.' Then said all with one voice, 'We promise you faithfully to abide at your side in all matters and to therewith adventure body and means, for we know well that in the whole countship of Flanders there is not a man but you worthy so to do.' Then Van Artevelde bound them to assemble on the next day but one in the grounds of the monastery of Biloke, which had received numerous benefits from the ancestors of Sohier of Courtrai, whose son-in-law Van Artevelde was.

This bold burgher of Ghent, who was born about 1285, was sprung from a family the name of which had been for a long while inscribed in their city upon the register of industrial corporations. His father, John Van Artevelde, a cloth-worker, had been several times over sheriff of Ghent, and his mother, Mary Van Groete, was great aunt to the grandfather of the illustrious publicist called in history Grotius. James Van Artevelde in his youth accompanied Count Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Handsome, upon his adventurous expeditions in Italy, Sicily, and Greece, and to the Island of Rhodes; and it had been close by the spots where the soldiers of Marathon and Salamis had beaten the armies of Darius and Xerxes that he had heard of the victory of the Flemish burghers and workmen attacked in 1302, at Courtrai, by the splendid army of Philip the Handsome. James Van Artevelde, on returning to his country, had been busy with his manufactures, his fields, the education of his children, and Flemish affairs up to the day when, at his invitation, the burghers of Ghent thronged to the meeting on the 28th of December, 1337, in the grounds of the monastery of Biloke. There he delivered an eloquent speech, pointing out, unhesitatingly but temperately, the policy which he considered good for the country. "Forget not," he said, "the might and the glory of Flanders. Who, pray, shall forbid that we defend our interests by using our rights? Can the King of France prevent us from treating with the King of England? And may we not be certain that if we were to treat with the King of England, the King of France would not be the less urgent in seeking our alliance? Besides, have we not with us all the communes of Brabant, of Hainault, of Holland, and of Zealand?" The audience cheered these words; the commune of Ghent forthwith assembled, and on the 3d of January, 1337 [according to the old style, which made the year begin at the 25th of March], re-established the offices of captains of parishes according to olden usage, when the city was exposed to any pressing danger. It was carried that one of these captains should have the chief government of the city; and James Van Artevelde was at once invested with it. From that moment the conduct of Van Artevelde was ruled by one predominant idea: to secure free and fair commercial intercourse for Flanders with England, whilst observing a general neutrality in the war between the Kings of England and France, and to combine so far all the communes of Flanders in one and the same policy. And he succeeded in this twofold purpose. "On the 29th of April, 1338, the representatives of all the communes of Flanders (the city of Bruges numbering amongst them a hundred and eight deputies) repaired to the castle of Male, a residence of Count Louis, and then James Van Artevelde set before the count what had been resolved upon amongst them. The count submitted, and swore that he would thenceforth maintain the liberties of Flanders in the state in which they had existed since the treaty of Athies. In the month of May following a deputation, consisting of James Van Artevelde and other burghers appointed by the cities of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres scoured the whole of Flanders, from Bailleul to Termonde, and from Ninove to Dunkerque, "to reconcile the good folks of the communes to the Count of Flanders, as well for the count's honor as for the peace of the country." Lastly, on the 10th of June, 1338, a treaty was signed at Anvers between the deputies of the Flemish communes and the English ambassadors, the latter declaring: "We do all to wit that we have negotiated way and substance of friendship with the good folks of the communes of Flanders, in form and manner herein-after following:—

"First, they shall be able to go and buy the wools and other merchandise which have been exported from England to Holland, Zealand, or any other place whatsoever; and all traders of Flanders who shall repair to the ports of England shall there be safe and free in their persons and their goods, just as in any other place where their ventures might bring them together.

"Item, we have agreed with the good folks and with all the common country of Flanders that they must not mix nor inter-meddle in any way, by assistance of men or arms, in the wars of our lord the king and the noble Sir Philip of Valois (who holdeth himself for King of France)."

Three articles following regulated in detail the principles laid down in the first two, and, by another charter, Edward III. ordained that "all stuffs marked with the seal of the city of Ghent might travel freely in England without being subject according to ellage and quality to the control to which all foreign merchandise was subject." (Histoire de Flandre, by M, le Baron Kerwyn de Lettenhove, t. iii. pp. 199-203.)

Van Artevelde was right in telling the Flemings that, if they treated with the King of England, the King of France would be only the more anxious for their alliance. Philip of Valois, and even Count Louis of Flanders, when they got to know of the negotiations entered into between the Flemish communes and King Edward, redoubled their offers and promises to them. But when the passions of men have taken full possession of their souls, words of concession and attempts at accommodation are nothing more than postponements or lies. Philip, when he heard about the conclusion of a treaty between the Flemish communes and the King of England, sent word to Count Louis "that this James Van Artevelde must not, on any account, be allowed to rule, or even live, for, if it were so for long, the count would lose his land." The count, very much disposed to accept such advice, repaired to Ghent and sent for Van Artevelde to come and see him at his hotel. He went, but with so large a following that the count was not at the time at all in a position to resist him. He tried to persuade the Flemish burgher that "if he would keep a hand on the people so as to keep them to their love for the King of France, he having more authority than any one else for such a purpose, much good would result to him: mingling, besides, with this address, some words of threatening import." Van Artevelde, who was not the least afraid of the threat, and who at heart was fond of the English, told the count that he would do as he had promised the communes. "Hereupon he left the count, who consulted his confidants as to what he was to do in this business, and they counselled him to let them go and assemble their people, saying that they would kill Van Artevelde secretly or otherwise. And indeed, they did lay many traps and made many attempts against the captain; but it was of no avail, since all the commonalty was for him." When the rumor of these projects and these attempts was spread abroad in the city, the excitement was extreme, and all the burghers assumed white hoods, which was the mark peculiar to the members of the commune when they assembled under their flags; so that the count found himself reduced to assuming one, for he was afraid of being kept captive at Ghent, and, on the pretext of a hunting party, he lost no time in gaining his castle of Male.

The burghers of Ghent had their minds still filled with their late alarm when they heard that, by order, it was said, of the King of France, Count Louis had sent and beheaded at the castle of Rupehuonde, in the very bed in which he was confined by his infirmities, their fellow-citizen Solver of Courtrai, Van Artevelde's father-in-law, who had been kept for many months in prison for his intimacy with the English. On the same day the Bishop of Senlis and the Abbot of St. Denis had arrived at Tournay, and had superintended the reading out in the market-place of a sentence of excommunication against the Ghentese.

It was probably at this date that Van Artevelde, in his vexation and disquietude, assumed in Ghent an attitude threatening and despotic even to tyranny. "He had continually after him," says Froissart, "sixty or eighty armed varlets, amongst whom were two or three who knew some of his secrets. When he met a man whom he had hated or had in suspicion, this man was at once killed, for Van Artevelde had given this order to his varlets: 'The moment I meet a man, and make such and such a sign to you, slay him without delay, however great he may be, without waiting for more speech.' In this way he had many great masters slain. And as soon as these sixty varlets had taken him home to his hotel, each went to dinner at his own house; and the moment dinner was over they returned and stood before his hotel, and waited in the street until that he was minded to go and play and take his pastime in the city, and so they attended him till supper-time. And know that each of these hirelings had per diem four groschen of Flanders for their expenses and wages, and he had them regularly paid from week to week. . . . And even in the case of all that were most powerful in Flanders, knights, esquires, and burghers of the good cities, whom he believed to be favorable to the Count of Flanders, them he banished from Flanders, and levied half their revenues. He had levies made of rents, of dues on merchandise, and all the revenues belonging to the count, wherever it might be in Flanders, and he disbursed them at his will, and gave them away without rendering any account. . . . And when he would borrow of any burghers on his word for payment, there was none that durst say him nay. In short, there was never in Flanders, or in any other country, duke, count, prince, or other, who can have had a country at his will as James Van Artevelde had for a long time."

It is possible that, as some historians have thought, Froissart, being less favorable to burghers than to princes, did not deny himself a little exaggeration in this portrait of a great burgher-patriot transformed by the force of events and passions into a demagogic tyrant. But some of us may have too vivid a personal recollection of similar scenes to doubt the general truth of the picture; and we shall meet before long in the history of France during the fourteenth century with an example still more striking and more famous than that of Van Artevelde.

Whilst the Count of Flanders, after having vainly attempted to excite an uprising against Van Artevelde, was being forced, in order to escape from the people of Bruges, to mount his horse in hot haste, at night and barely armed, and to flee away to St. Omer, Philip of Valois and Edward III. were preparing, on either side, for the war which they could see drawing near. Philip was vigorously at work on the pope, the Emperor of Germany, and the princes neighbors of Flanders, in order to raise obstacles against his rival or rob him of his allies. He ordered that short-lived meeting of the states-general about which we have no information left us, save that it voted the principle that "no talliage could be imposed on the people if urgent necessity or evident utility should not require it, and unless by concession of the Estates." Philip, as chief of feudal society, rather than of the nation which was forming itself little by little around the lords, convoked at Amiens all his vassals, great and small, laic or cleric, placing all his strength in their co-operation, and not caring at all to associate the country itself in the affairs of his government. Edward, on the contrary, whilst equipping his fleet and amassing treasure at the expense of the Jews and Lombard usurers, was assembling his Parliament, talking to it "of this important and costly war," for which he obtained large subsidies, and accepting without making any difficulty the vote of the Commons' House, which expressed a desire "to consult their constituents upon this subject, and begged him to summon an early Parliament, to which there should be elected, in each county, two knights taken from among the best land-owners of their counties." The king set out for the Continent; the Parliament met and considered the exigencies of the war by land and sea, in Scotland and in France; traders, ship-owners, and mariners were called and examined; and the forces determined to be necessary were voted. Edward took the field, pillaging, burning, and ravaging, "destroying all the country for twelve or fourteen leagues to extent," as he himself said in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he set foot on French territory, Count William of Hainault, his brother-in-law, and up to that time his ally, came to him and said that "he would ride with him no farther, for that his presence was prayed and required by his uncle, the King of France to whom he bore no hate, and whom he would go and serve in his own kingdom, as he had served King Edward on the territory of the emperor, whose vicar he was; and Edward wished him 'God speed!'" Such was the binding nature of feudal ties that the same lord held himself bound to pass from one camp to another, according as he found himself upon the domains of one or the other of his suzerains in a war one against the other. Edward continued his march towards St. Quentin, where Philip had at last arrived with his allies, the Kings of Bohemia, Navarre, and Scotland, "after delays which had given rise to great scandal and murmurs throughout the whole kingdom." The two armies, with a strength, according to Froissart, of a hundred thousand men on the French side, and forty-four thousand on the English, were soon facing one another, near Buironfosse, a large burgh of Picardy. A herald came from the English camp to tell the King of France that the King of England "demanded of him battle. To which demand," says Froissart, "the King of France gave willing assent, and accepted the day, which was fixed at first for Thursday the 21st, and afterwards for Saturday the 25th of October, 1339." To judge from the somewhat tangled accounts of the chroniclers and of Froissart himself, neither of the two kings was very anxious to come to blows. The forces of Edward were much inferior to those of Philip; and the former had accordingly taken up, as it appears, a position which rendered attack difficult for Philip. There was much division of opinion in the French camp. Independently of military grounds, a great deal was said about certain letters from Robert, King of Naples, "a mighty necromancer and full of mighty wisdom, it was reported, who, after having several times cast their horoscopes, had discovered by astrology and from experience, that, if his cousin, the King of France, were to fight the King of England, the former would be worsted." "In thus disputing and debating," says Froissart, "the time passed till full midday. A little afterwards a hare came leaping across the fields, and rushed amongst the French. Those who saw it began shouting and making a great halloo. Those who were behind thought that those who were in front were engaging in battle; and several put on their helmets and gripped their swords. Thereupon several knights were made; and the Count of Hainault himself made fourteen, who were thenceforth nicknamed Knights of the Hare." Whatever his motive may have been, Philip did not attack; and Edward promptly began a retreat. They both dismissed their allies; and during the early days of. November, Philip fell back upon St. Quentin, and Edward went and took up his winter quarters at Brussels.

For Edward it was a serious check not to have dared to attack the king whose kingdom he made a pretence of conquering; and he took it grievously to heart. At Brussels he had an interview with his allies, and asked their counsel. Most of the princes of the Low Countries remained faithful to him, and the Count of Hainault seemed inclined to go back to him; but all hesitated as to what he was to do to recover from the check. Van Artevelde showed more invention and more boldness. The Flemish communes had concentrated their forces not far from the spot where the two kings had kept their armies looking at one another; but they had maintained a strict neutrality, and at the invitation of the Count of Flanders, who promised them that the King of France would entertain all their claims, Artevelde and Breydel, the deputies from Ghent and Bruges, even repaired to Courtrai to make terms with him. But as they got there nothing but ambiguous engagements and evasive promises, they let the negotiation drop, and, whilst Count Louis was on his way to rejoin Philip at St. Quentin, Artevelde, with the deputies from the Flemish communes, started for Brussels. Edward, who was already living on very confidential terms with him, told him that "if the Flemings were minded to help him to keep up the war, and go with him whithersoever he would take them, they should aid him to recover Lille, Douai, and Bethune, then occupied by the King of France. Artevelde, after consulting his colleagues, returned to Edward, and, 'Dear sir,' said he, 'you have already made such requests to us, and verily if we could do so whilst keeping our honor and faith, we would do as you demand; but we be bound, by faith and oath, and on a bond of two millions of florins entered into with the pope, not to go to war with the King of France without incurring a debt to the amount of that sum, and a sentence of ex-communication; but if you do that which we are about to say to you, if you will be pleased to adopt the arms of France, and quarter them with those of England, and openly call yourself King of France, we will uphold you for true King of France; you, as King of France, shall give us quittance of our faith; and then we will obey you as King of France, and will go whithersoever you shall ordain.'"

This prospect pleased Edward mightily: but "it irked him to take the name and arms of that of which he had as yet won no tittle." He consulted his allies. Some of them hesitated; but "his most privy and especial friend," Robert d'Artois, strongly urged him to consent to the proposal. So a French prince and a Flemish burgher prevailed upon the King of England to pursue, as in assertion of his avowed rights, the conquest of the kingdom of France. King, prince, and burgher fixed Ghent as their place of meeting for the official conclusion of the alliance; and there, in January, 1340, the mutual engagement was signed and sealed. The King of England "assumed the arms of France quartered with those of England," and thenceforth took the title of King of France.

Then burst forth in reality that war which was to last a hundred years; which was to bring upon the two nations the most violent struggles, as well as the most cruel sufferings, and which, at the end of a hundred years, was to end in the salvation of France from her tremendous peril, and the defeat of England in her unrighteous attempt. In January, 1340, Edward thought he had won the most useful of allies; Artevelde thought the independence of the Flemish communes and his own supremacy in his own country secured; and Robert d'Artois thought with complacency how he had gratified his hatred for Philip of Valois. And all three were deceiving themselves in their joy and their confidence.

Edward, leaving Queen Philippa at Ghent with Artevelde for her adviser, had returned to England, and had just obtained from the Parliament, for the purpose of vigorously pushing on the war, a subsidy almost without precedent, when he heard that a large French fleet was assembling on the coasts of Zealand, near the port of Ecluse (or Sluys), with a design of surprising and attacking him when he should cross over again to the Continent. For some time past this fleet had been cruising in the Channel, making descents here and there upon English soil, at Plymouth, Southampton, Sandwich, and Dover, and everywhere causing alarm and pillage. Its strength, they said, was a hundred and forty large vessels, "without counting the smaller," having on board thirty-five thousand men, Normans, Picards, Italians, sailors and soldiers of all countries, under the command of two French leaders, Hugh Quiret, titular admiral, and Nicholas Behuchet, King Philip's treasurer, and of a famous Genoese buccaneer, named Barbavera. Edward, so soon as he received this information, resolved to go and meet their attack; and he gave orders to have his vessels and troops summoned from all parts of England to Orewell, his point of departure. His advisers, with the Archbishop of Canterbury at their head, strove, but in vain, to restrain him. "Ye are all in conspiracy against me," said he; "I shall go; and those who are afraid can abide at home." And go he did on the 22d of June, 1340, and aboard of his fleet "went with him many an English dame," says Froissart, "wives of earls, and barons, and knights, and burghers, of London, who were off to Ghent to see the Queen of England, whom for a long time past they had not seen; and King Edward guarded them carefully." "For many a long day," said he, "have I desired to fight those fellows, and now we will fight them, please God and St. George; for, verily, they have caused me so many displeasures, that I would fain take vengeance for them, if I can but get it." On arriving off the coast of Flanders, opposite Ecluse (or Sluys), he saw "so great a number of vessels that of masts there seemed to be verily a forest." He made his arrangements forthwith, "placing his strongest ships in front, and manoeuvring so as to have the wind on the starboard quarter, and the sun astern. The Normans marvelled to see the English thus twisting about, and said, 'They are turning tail; they are not men enough to fight us.'" But the Genoese buccaneer was not misled. "When he saw the English fleet approaching in such fashion, he said to the French admiral and his colleague, Behuchet, 'Sirs, here is the King of England, with all his ships, bearing down upon us: if ye will follow my advice, instead of remaining shut up in port, ye will draw out into the open sea; for, if ye abide here, they, whilst they have in their favor sun, and wind, and tide, will keep you so short of room, that ye will be helpless and unable to manoeuvre.' Whereupon answered the treasurer, Behuchet, who knew more about arithmetic than sea fights, 'Let him go hang, whoever shall go out: here will we wait, and take our chance.' 'Sir,' replied Barbavera, 'if ye will not be pleased to believe me, I have no mind to work my own ruin, and I will get me gone with my galleys out of this hole.'" And out he went, with all his squadron, engaged the English on the high seas, and took the first ship which attempted to board him. But Edward, though he was wounded in the thigh, quickly restored the battle. After a gallant resistance, Barbavera sailed off with his galleys, and the French fleet found itself alone at grips with the English. The struggle was obstinate on both sides; it began at six in the morning of June 24, 1340, and lasted to midday. It was put an end to by the arrival of the re-enforcements promised by the Flemings to the King of England. "The deputies of Bruges," says their historian, "had employed the whole night in getting under way an armament of two hundred vessels, and, before long, the French heard echoing about them the horns of the Flemish mariners sounding to quarters." These latter decided the victory, Behuchet, Philip of Valois' treasurer, fell into their hands; and they, heeding only their desire of avenging themselves for the devastation of Cadsand (in 1337), hanged him from the mast of his vessel "out of spite to the King of France." The admiral, Hugh Quieret, though he surrendered, was put to death; "and with him perished so great a number of men-at-arms that the sea was dyed with blood on this coast, and the dead were put down at quite thirty thousand men."

The very day after the battle, the Queen of England came from Ghent to join the king her husband, whom his wound confined to his ship; and at Valenciennes, whither the news of the victory speedily arrived, Artevelde, mounting a platform set up in the market-place, maintained, in the presence of a large crowd, the right which the King of England had to claim the kingdom of France. He vaunted "the puissance of the three countries, Flanders, Hainault, and Brabant, when at one accord amongst themselves, and what with his words and his great sense," says Froissart, "he did so well that all who heard him said that he had spoken mighty well, and with mighty experience, and that he was right worthy to govern the countship of Flanders." From Valenciennes he repaired to King Edward at Bruges, where all the allied princes were assembled; and there, in concert with the other deputies from the Flemish communes, Artevelde offered Edward a hundred thousand men for the vigorous prosecution of the war. "All these burghers," says the modern historian of the Flemings, "had declared that, in order to promote their country's cause, they would serve without pay, so heartily had they entered into the war." The siege of Tournay was the first operation Edward resolved to undertake. He had promised to give this place to the Flemings; the burghers were getting a taste for conquest, in company with kings.

They found Philip of Valois better informed, and also more hot for war, than perhaps they had expected. It is said that he learned the defeat of his navy at Ecluse from his court fool, who was the first to announce it, and in the following fashion. "The English are cowards," said he. "Why so?" asked the king. "Because they lacked courage to leap into the sea at Ecluse, as the French and Normans did." Philip lost no time about putting the places on his northern frontier in a state of defence, he took up his quarters first at Arras, and then three leagues from Tournay, into which his constable, Raoul d'Eu, immediately threw himself, with a considerable force, and whither his allies, the Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Savoy, the Bishops of Liege, Metz, and Verdun, and nearly all the barons of Burgundy came and joined him. On the 27th of July, 1340, he received there from his rival a challenge of portentous length, the principal terms of which are set forth as follows:

"Philip of Valois, for a long time past we have taken proceedings, by means of messages and other reasonable ways, to the end that you might restore to us our rightful heritage of France, which you have this long while withheld from us and do most wrongfully occupy. And as we do clearly see that you do intend to persevere in your wrongful withholding, we do give you notice that we are marching against you to bring our rightful claims to an issue. And, whereas so great a number of folks assembled on our side and on yours, cannot keep themselves together for long without causing great destruction to the people and the country, we desire, as the quarrel is between you and us, that the decision of our claim should be between our two bodies. And if you have no mind to this way, we propose that our quarrel should end by a battle, body to body, between a hundred persons, the most capable on your side and on ours. And, if you have no mind either to one way or to the other, that you do appoint us a fixed day for fighting before the city of Tournay, power to power. Given under our privy seal, on the field near Tournay, the 26th day of July, in the first year of our reign in France and in England the fourteenth."

Philip replied, "Philip, by the grace of God King of France to Edward, King of England. We have seen your letters brought to our court, as from you to Philip of Valois, and containing certain demands which you make upon the said Philip of Valois. And, as the said letters did not come to ourself, we make you no answer. Our intention is, when it shall seem good to us, to hurl you out of our kingdom for the benefit of our people. And of that we have firm hope in Jesus Christ, from whom all power cometh to us."

Events were not satisfactory either to the haughty pretensions of Edward or to the patriotic hopes of Philip. The war continued in the north and south-west of France without any result. In the neighborhood of Tournay some encounters in the open country were unfavorable to the English and their allies; the siege of the place was prolonged for seventy-four days without the attainment of any success by assault or investment; and the inhabitants defended themselves with so obstinate a courage, that, when at length the King of England found himself obliged to raise the siege, Philip, to testify his gratitude towards them, restored them their law, that is, their communal charter, for some time past withdrawn, and "they were greatly rejoiced," says Froissart, "at having no more royal governors, and at appointing provosts and jurymen according to their fancy." The Flemish burghers, in spite of their display of warlike zeal, soon grew tired of being so far from their business and of living under canvas. In Aquitaine the lieutenants of the King of France had the advantage over those of the King of England; they retook or delivered several places in dispute between the two crowns, and they closely pressed Bordeaux itself both by land and sea. Edward, the aggressor, was exhausting his pecuniary resources, and his Parliament was displaying but little inclination to replenish them. For Philip, who had merely to defend himself in his own dominions, any cessation of hostilities was almost a victory. A pious princess, Joan of Valois, sister of Philip and mother-in-law of Edward, issued from her convent at Fontenelle, for the purpose of urging the two kings to make peace, or at least to suspend hostilities. "The good dame," says Froissart, "saw there, on the two sides, all the flower and honor of the chivalry of the world; and many a time she had fallen at the feet of her brother, the King of France, praying him for some respite or treaty of agreement between himself and the English king. And when she had labored with them of France, she went her way to them of the Empire, to the Duke of Brabant, to the Marquis of Juliers, and to my Lord John of Hainault, and prayed them, for God's and pity's sake, that they would be pleased to hearken to some terms of accord, and would win over the King of England to be pleased to condescend thereto." In concert with the envoys of Pope Benedict XII., Joan of Valois at last succeeded in bringing the two sovereigns and their allies to a truce, which was concluded on the 25th of September, 1340, at first for nine months, and was afterwards renewed on several occasions up to the month of June, 1342. Neither sovereign, and none of their allies, gave up anything, or bound themselves to anything more than not to fight during that interval; but they were, on both sides, without the power of carrying on without pause a struggle which they would not entirely abandon.

An unexpected incident led to its recommencement in spite of the truce: not, however, throughout France or directly between the two kings, but with fiery fierceness, though it was limited to a single province, and arose not in the name of the kingship of France, but out of a purely provincial question. John III., Duke of Brittany and a faithful vassal of Philip of Valois, whom he had gone to support at Tournay "more stoutly and substantially than any of the other princes," says Froissart, died suddenly at Caen, on the 30th of April, 1341, on returning to his domain. Though he had been thrice married, he left no child. The duchy of Brittany then reverted to his brothers or their posterity, but his very next brother, Guy, Count of Penthievre, had been dead six years, and had left only a daughter, Joan, called the Cripple, married to Charles of Blois, nephew of the King of France. The third brother was still alive; he too was named John, had from his mother the title of Count of Montfort, and claimed to be heir to the duchy of Brittany in preference to his niece Joan. The niece, on the contrary, believed in her own right to the exclusion of her uncle. The question was exactly the same as that which had arisen touching the crown of France when Philip the Long had successfully disputed it with the only daughter of his brother Louis the Quarreller; but the Salic law, which had for more than three centuries prevailed in France, and just lately to the benefit of Philip of Valois, had no existence in the written code, or the traditions of Brittany. There, as in several other great fiefs, women had often been recognized as capable of holding and transmitting sovereignty. At the death of John III., his brother, the Count of Montfort, immediately put himself in possession of the inheritance, seized the principal Breton towns, Nantes, Brest, Rennes, and Vannes, and crossed over to England to secure the support of Edward III. His rival, Charles of Blois, appealed to the decision of the King of France, his uncle and natural protector. Philip of Valois thus found himself the champion of succession in the female line in Brittany, whilst he was himself reigning in France by virtue of the Salic law, and Edward III. took up in Brittany the defence of succession in the male line which he was disputing and fighting against in France. Philip and his court of peers declared on the 7th of September, 1341, that Brittany belonged to Charles of Blois, who at once did homage for it to the King of France, whilst John of Montfort demanded and obtained the support of the King of England. War broke out between the two claimants, effectually supported by the two kings, who nevertheless were not supposed to make war upon one another and in their own dominions. The feudal system sometimes entailed these strange and dangerous complications.

If the two parties had been reduced for leaders to the two claimants only, the war would not, perhaps, have lasted long.

In the first campaign the Count of Montfort was made prisoner at the siege of Nantes, carried off to Paris, and shut up in the tower of the Louvre, whence he did not escape until three years were over. Charles of Blois, with all his personal valor, was so scrupulously devout that he often added to the embarrassments and at the same time the delays of war. He never marched without being followed by his almoner, who took with him everywhere bread, and wine, and water, and fire in a pot, for the purpose of saying mass by the way. One day when Charles was accordingly hearing it and was very near the enemy, one of his officers, Auffroy de Montboucher, said to him, "Sir, you see right well that your enemies are yonder, and you halt a longer time than they need to take you." "Auffroy," answered the prince, "we shall always have towns and castles, and, if they are taken, we shall, with God's help, recover them; but if we miss hearing of mass we shall never recover it." Neither side, however, had much detriment from either the captivity or pious delays of its chief. Joan of Flanders, Countess of Montfort, was at Rennes when she heard that her husband had been taken prisoner at Nantes. "Although she made great mourning in her heart," says Froissart, "she made it not like a disconsolate woman, but like a proud and gallant man. She showed to her friends and soldiers a little boy she had, and whose name was John, even as his father's, and she said to them, 'Ah! sirs, be not discomforted and cast down because of my lord whom we have lost; he was but one man; see, here is my little boy, who, please God, shall be his avenger. I have wealth in abundance, and of it I will give you enow, and I will provide you with such a leader as shall give you all fresh heart.' She went through all her good towns and fortresses, taking her young son with her, re-enforcing the garrisons with men and all they wanted, and giving away abundantly wherever she thought it would be well laid out. Then she went her way to Hennebon-sur-Mer, which was a strong town and strong castle, and there she abode, and her son with her, all the winter." In May, 1242, Charles of Blois came to besiege her; but the attempts at assault were not successful. "The Countess of Montfort, who was cased in armor and rode on a fine steed, galloped from street to street through the town, summoned the people to defend themselves stoutly, and called on the women, dames, damoisels, and others, to pull up the roads, and carry the stones to the ramparts to throw down on the assailants." She attempted a bolder enterprise. "She sometimes mounted a tower, right up to the top, that she might see the better how her people bore themselves. She one day saw that all they of the hostile army, lords and others, had left their quarters and gone to watch the assault. She mounted her steed, all armed as she was, and summoned to horse with her about three hundred men-at-arms who were on guard at a gate which was not being assailed. She went out thereat with all her company and threw herself valiantly upon the tents and quarters of the lords of France, which were all burned, being guarded only by boys and varlets, who fled as soon as they saw the countess and her folks entering and setting fire. When the lords saw their quarters burning and heard the noise which came therefrom, they ran up all dazed and crying, 'Betrayed! betrayed!' so that none remained for the assault. When the countess saw the enemy's host running up from all parts, she re-assembled all her folks, and seeing right well that she could not enter the town again without too great loss, she went off by another road to the castle of Brest [or, more probably, d'Auray, as Brest is much more than three leagues from Hennebon], which lies as near as three leagues from thence." Though hotly pursued by the assailants, "she rode so fast and so well that she and the greater part of her folks arrived at the castle of Brest, where she was received and feasted right joyously. Those of her folks who were in Hennebon were all night in great disquietude because neither she nor any of her company returned; and the assailant lords, who had taken up quarters nearer to the town, cried, 'Come out, come out, and seek your countess; she is lost; you will not find a bit of her.' In such fear the folks in Hennebon remained five days. But the countess wrought so well that she had now full five hundred comrades armed and well mounted; then she set out from Brest about midnight and came away, arriving at sunrise and riding straight upon one of the flanks of the enemy's host; there she had the gate of Hennebon castle opened, and entered in with great joy and a great noise of trumpets and drums; whereby the besiegers were roughly disturbed and awakened."

The joy of the besieged was short. Charles of Blois pressed on the siege more rigorously every day, threatening that, when he should have taken the place, he would put all the inhabitants to the sword. Consternation spread even to the brave; and a negotiation was opened with a view of arriving at terms of capitulation. By dint of prayers Countess Joan obtained a delay of three days. The first two had expired, and the besiegers were preparing for a fresh assault, when Joan, from the top of her tower, saw the sea covered with sails: "'See, see, she cried, the aid so much desired!' Every one in the town, as best they could, rushed up at once to the windows and battlements of the walls to see what it might be," says Froissart. In point of fact it was a fleet with six thousand men brought from England to the relief of Hennebon by Amaury de Clisson and Walter de Manny; and they had been a long while detained at sea by contrary winds.

"When they had landed the countess herself went to them and feasted them and thanked them greatly, which was no wonder, for she had sore need of their coming." It was far better still when, next day, the new arrivals had attacked the besiegers and gained a brilliant victory over them. When they re-entered the place, "whoever," says Froissart, "saw the countess descend from the castle, and kiss my lord Walter de Manny and his comrades, one after another, two or three times, might well have said that it was a gallant dame."

All the while that the Count of Montfort was a prisoner in the tower of the Louvre, the countess his wife strove for his cause with the same indefatigable energy. He escaped in 1345, crossed over to England, swore fealty and homage to Edward III. for the duchy of Brittany, and immediately returned to take in hand, himself, his own cause. But in the very year of his escape, on the 26th of September, 1345, he died at the castle of Hennebon, leaving once more his wife, with a young child, alone at the head of his party and having in charge the future of his house. The Countess Joan maintained the rights and interests of her son as she had maintained those of her husband. For nineteen years, she, with the help of England, struggled against Charles of Blois, the head of a party growing more and more powerful, and protected by France. Fortune shifted her favors and her asperities from one camp to the other. Charles of Blois had at first pretty considerable success; but on the 18th of June, 1347, in a battle in which he personally displayed a brilliant courage, he was in his turn made prisoner, carried to England, and immured in the Tower of London. There he remained nine years. But he too had a valiant and indomitable wife, Joan of Penthievre, the Cripple. She did for her husband all that Joan of Montfort was doing for hers. All the time that he was a prisoner in the Tower of London, she was the soul and the head of his party, in the open country as well as in the towns, turning to profitable account the inclinations of the Breton population, whom the presence and the ravages of the English had turned against John of Montfort and his cause. She even convoked at Dinan, in 1352, a general assembly of her partisans, which is counted by the Breton historians as the second holding of the states of their country. During nine years, from 1347 to 1356, the two Joans were the two heads of their parties in politics and in war. Charles of Blois at last obtained his liberty from Edward III. on hard conditions, and returned to Brittany to take up the conduct of his own affairs. The struggle between the two claimants still lasted eight years, with vicissitudes ending in nothing definite. In 1363 Charles of Blois and young John of Montfort, weary of their fruitless efforts and the sufferings of their countries, determined both of them to make peace and share Brittany between them. Rennes was to be Charles's capital, and Nantes that of his rival. The treaty had been signed, an altar raised between the two armies, and an oath taken on both sides; but when Joan of Penthivre was informed of it she refused downright to ratify it. "I married you," she said to her husband, "to defend my inheritance, and not to yield the half of it; I am only a woman, but I would lose my life, and two lives if I had them, rather than consent to any cession of the kind." Charles of Blois, as weak before his wife as brave before the enemy, broke the treaty he had but just sworn to, and set out for Nantes to resume the war. "My lord," said Countess Joan to him in presence of all his knights, "you are going to defend my inheritance and yours, which my lord of Montfort—wrongfully, God knows—doth withhold from us, and the barons of Brittany who are here present know that I am rightful heiress of it. I pray you affectionately not to make any ordinance, composition, or treaty whereby the duchy corporate remain not ours." Charles set out; and in the following year, on the 29th of September, 1364, the battle of Auray cost him his life and the countship of Brittany. When he was wounded to death he said, "I have long been at war against my conscience." At sight of his dead body on the field of battle young John of Montfort, his conqueror, was touched, and cried out, "Alas my cousin, by your obstinacy you have been the cause of great evils in Brittany: may God forgive you! It grieves me much that you are come to so sad an end." After this outburst of generous compassion came the joy of victory, which Montfort owed above all to his English allies and to John Chandos their leader, to whom, "My Lord John," said he, "this great fortune path come to me through your great sense and prowess: wherefore, I pray you, drink out of my cup." "Sir," answered Chandos, "let us go hence, and render you your thanks to God for this happy fortune you have gotten, for, without the death of yonder warrior, you could not have come into the inheritance of Brittany." From that day forth John of Monfort remained in point of fact Duke of Brittany, and Joan of Penthievre, the Cripple, the proud princess who had so obstinately defended her rights against him, survived for full twenty years the death of her husband and the loss of her duchy.

Whilst the two Joans were exhibiting in Brittany, for the preservation or the recovery of their little dominion, so much energy and persistency, another Joan, no princess, but not the less a heroine, was, in no other interest than the satisfaction of her love and her vengeance, making war, all by herself, on the same territory. Several Norman and Breton lords, and amongst others Oliver de Clisson and Godfrey d'Harcourt, were suspected, nominally attached as they were to the King of France, of having made secret overtures to the King of England. Philip of Valois had them arrested at a tournament, and had them beheaded without any form of trial, in the middle of the market-place at Paris, to the number of fourteen. The head of Clisson was sent to Nantes and exposed on one of the gates of the city. At the news thereof, his widow, Joan of Belleville, attended by several men of family, her neighbors and friends, set out for a castle occupied by the troops of Philip's candidate, Charles of Blois. The fate of Clisson was not yet known there; it was supposed that his wife was on a hunting excursion; and she was admitted without distrust. As soon as she was inside, the blast of a horn gave notice to her followers, whom she had left concealed in the neighboring woods. They rushed up, and took possession of the castle, and Joan de Clisson had all the inhabitants—but one—put to the sword. But this was too little for her grief and her zeal. At the head of her troops, augmented, she scoured the country and seized several places, everywhere driving out or putting to death the servants of the King of France. Philip confiscated the property of the house of Clisson. Joan moved from land to sea. She manned several vessels, attacked the French ships she fell in with, ravaged the coasts, and ended by going and placing at the service of the Countess of Montfort her hatred and her son, a boy of seven years of age, whom she had taken with her in all her expeditions, and who was afterwards the great constable, Oliver de Clisson. We shall find him under Charles V. and Charles VI. as devoted to France and her kings as if he had not made his first essays in arms against the candidate of their ancestor, Philip. His mother had sent him to England, to be brought up at the court of Edward III., but, shortly after taking a glorious part with the English in the battle of Auray, in which he lost an eye, and which secured the duchy of Brittany to the Count of Montfort, De Clisson got embroiled none the less with his suzerain, who had given John Chandos the castle of Gavre, near Nantes. "Devil take me, my lord," said Oliver to him, "if ever Englishman shall be my neighbor;" and he went forthwith and attacked the castle, which he completely demolished. The hatreds of women whose passions have made them heroines of war are more personal and more obstinate than those of the roughest warriors. Accordingly the war for the duchy of Brittany, in the fourteenth century, has been called, in history, the war of the three Joans.

This war was, on both sides, remarkable for cruelty. If Joan de Clisson gave to the sword all the people in a castle, belonging to Charles of Blois, to which she had been admitted on a supposition of pacific intentions, Charles of Blois, on his side, finding in another castle thirty knights, partisans of the Count of Montfort, had their heads shot from catapults over the walls of Nantes, which he was besieging, and, at the same time that he saved from pillage the churches of Quimper, which he had just taken, he allowed his troops to massacre fourteen hundred inhabitants, and had his principal prisoners beheaded. One of them, being a deacon, he caused to be degraded, and then handed over to the populace, who stoned him. It is characteristic of the middle ages that in them the ferocity of barbaric times existed side by side with the sentiments of chivalry and the fervor of Christianity: so slow is the race of man to eschew evil, even when it has begun to discern and relish good. War was then the passion and habitual condition of men. They made it without motive as well as without prevision, in a transport of feeling or for the sake of pastime, to display their strength or to escape from listlessness; and, whilst making it, they abandoned themselves without scruple to all those deeds of violence, vengeance, brutal anger, or fierce delight, which war provokes. At the same time, however, the generous impulses of feudal chivalry, the sympathies of Christian piety, tender affections, faithful devotion, noble tastes, were fermenting in their souls; and human nature appeared with all its complications, its inconsistencies, and its irregularities, but also with all its wealth of prospective development. The three Joans of the fourteenth century were but eighty years in advance of the Joan of Arc of the fifteenth; and the knights of Charles V., Du Guesclin and De Clisson, were the forerunners of the Bayard of Francis I.

An incident which has retained its popularity in French history, to wit, the fight between thirty Bretons and thirty English during the just now commemorated war in Brittany, will give a better idea than any general observations could of the real, living characteristics of facts and manners, barbaric and at the same time chivalric, at that period. No apology is needed for here reproducing the chief details as they have been related by Froissart, the dramatic chronicler of the middle ages.

In 1351, "it happened on a day that Sir Robert de Beaumanoir, a valiant knight and commandant of the castle which is called Castle Josselin, came before the town and castle of Ploermel, whereof the captain, called Brandebourg [or Brembro, probably Bremborough], had with him a plenty of soldiers of the Countess of Montfort. 'Brandebourg,' said Robert, 'have ye within there never a man-at-arms, or two or three, who would fain cross swords with other three for love of their ladies?' Brandebourg answered that their ladies would not have them lose their lives in so miserable an affair as single combat, whereby one gained the name of fool rather than honorable renown. 'I will tell you what we will do, if it please you. You shall take twenty or thirty of your comrades, as I will take as many of ours. We will go out into a goodly field where none can hinder or vex us, and there will we do so much that men shall speak thereof in time to come in hall, and palace, and highway, and other places of the world.' 'By my faith,' said Beaumanoir, 'tis bravely said, and I agree: be ye thirty, and we will be thirty, too.' And thus the matter was settled. When the day had come, the thirty comrades of Brandebourg, whom we shall call English, heard mass, then got on their arms, went off to the place where the battle was to be, dismounted, and waited a long while for the others, whom we shall call French. When the thirty French had come, and they were in front one of another, they parleyed a little together, all the sixty; then they fell back, and made all their fellows go far away from the place. Then one of them made a sign, and forthwith they set on and fought stoutly all in a heap, and they aided one another handsomely when they saw their comrades in evil case. Pretty soon after they had come together, one of the French was slain, but the rest did not slacken the fight one whit, and they bore themselves as valiantly all as if they had all been Rolands and Olivers. At last they were forced to stop, and they rested by common accord, giving themselves truce until they should be rested, and the first to get up again should recall the others. They rested long, and there were some who drank wine which was brought to them in bottles. They rebuckled their armor, which had got undone, and dressed their wounds. Four French and two English were dead already."

It was no doubt during this interval that the captain of the Bretons, Robert de Beaumanoir, grievously wounded and dying of fatigue and thirst, cried out for a drink. "Drink thy blood, Beaumanoir," said one of his comrades, Geoffrey de Bois, according to some accounts, and Sire de Tinteniac, according to others. From that day those words became the war-cry of the Beaumanoirs. Froissart says nothing of this incident. Let us return to his narrative.

"When they were refreshed, the first to get up again made a sign, and recalled the others. Then the battle recommenced as stoutly as before, and lasted a long while. They had short swords of Bordeaux, tough and sharp, and boar-spears and daggers, and some had axes, and therewith they dealt one another marvellously great dings, and some seized one another by the arms a-struggling, and they struck one another, and spared not. At last the English had the worst of it; Brandebourg, their captain, was slain, with eight of his comrades, and the rest yielded themselves prisoners when they saw that they could no longer defend themselves, for they could not and must not fly. Sir Robert de Beaumanoir and his comrades, who remained alive, took them and carried them off to Castle Josselin as their prisoners; and then admitted them to ransom courteously when they were all cured, for there was none that was not grievously wounded, French as well as English. I saw afterwards, sitting at the table of King Charles of France, a Breton knight who had been in it, Sir Yvon Charnel, and he had a face so carved and cut that he showed full well how good a fight had been fought. The matter was talked of in many places, and some set it down as a very poor, and others as a very swaggering business."

The most modern and most judicious historian of Brittany, Count Daru, who has left a name as honorable in literature as in the higher administration of the First Empire, says, very truly, in recounting this incident, "It is not quite certain whether this was an act of patriotism or of chivalry." He might have gone farther, and discovered in this exploit not only the characteristics he points out, but many others besides. Local patriotism, the honor of Brittany, party spirit, the success of John of Montfort or Charles of Blois, the sentiment of gallantry, the glorification of the most beautiful one amongst their lady-loves, and, chiefly, the passion for war amongst all and sundry— there was something of all this mixed up with the battle of the Thirty, a faithful reflex of the complication and confusion of minds, of morals, and of wants at that forceful period. It is this very variety of the ideas, feelings, interests, motives, and motive tendencies involved in that incident which accounts for the fact that the battle of the Thirty has remained so vividly remembered, and that in 1811 a monument, unpretentious but national, replaced the simple stone at first erected on the field of battle, on the edge of the road from Ploermel to Josselin, with this inscription: "To the immortal memory of the battle of the Thirty, gained by Marshal Beaumanoir, on the 26th of March, 1350 (1351)."

With some fondness, and at some length, this portion of Brittany's history in the fourteenth century has been dwelt upon, not only because of the dramatic interest attaching to the events and the actors, but also for the sake of showing, by that example, how many separate associations, diverse and often hostile, were at that time developing themselves, each on its own account, in that extensive and beautiful country which became France. We will now return to Philip of Valois and Edward III., and to the struggle between them for a settlement of the question whether France should or should not preserve its own independent kingship, and that national unity of which she already had the name, but of which she was still to undergo so much painful travail in acquiring the reality.

Although Edward III. by supporting with troops and officers, and sometimes even in person, the cause of the Countess of Montfort, and Philip of Valois by assisting in the same way Charles of Blois and Joan of Penthievre, took a very active, if indirect, share in the war in Brittany, the two kings persisted in not calling themselves at war; and when either of them proceeded to acts of unquestionable hostility, they eluded the consequences of them by hastily concluding truces incessantly violated and as incessantly renewed. They had made use of this expedient in 1340; and they had recourse to it again in 1342, 1343, and 1344. The last of these truces was to have lasted up to 1346; but, in the spring of 1345, Edward resolved to put an end to this equivocal position, and to openly recommence war. He announced his intention to Pope Clement IV., to his own lieutenants in Brittany, and to all the cities and corporations of his kingdom. He accused Philip of having "violated, without even sending us a challenge, the truce which, out of regard to the sovereign pontiff, we had agreed upon with him, and which he had taken an oath, upon his soul, to keep. On account whereof we have resolved to proceed against him, him and all his adherents, by land and sea, by all means possible, in order to recover our just rights." It is not quite clear what pressing reasons urged Edward to this decisive resolution. The English Parliament and people, it is true, showed more disposition to support their king in his pretensions to the throne of France, and the cause of the Count of Montfort was maintaining itself stubbornly in Brittany, but nothing seemed to call for so startling a rupture, or to promise Edward any speedy and successful issue. He had lost his most energetic and warlike adviser; for Robert d'Artois, the deadly enemy of Philip of Valois, had been so desperately wounded in the defence of Vannes against Robert de Beaumanoir, that he had returned to England only to die. Edward felt this loss severely, gave Robert a splendid funeral in St. Paul's church, and declared that "he would listen to nought until he had avenged him, and that he would reduce the country of Brittany to such plight that, for forty years, it should not recover." Philip of Valois, on his side, gave signs of getting ready for war. In 1343 he had convoked at Paris one of those assemblies which were beginning to be called the states-general of the kingdom, and he obtained from it certain subventions. It was likewise in 1343 and at the beginning of 1344, that he ordered the arrest, at a tournament to which he had invited them, and the decapitation, without any form of trial, of fourteen Breton and three Norman lords whom he suspected of intriguing against him with the King of England. And so Edward might have considered himself threatened with imminent peril; and, besides, he had friends to avenge. But it is not unreasonable to suppose that his fiery ambition, and his impatience to decide, once for all, that question of the French kingship which had been for five years in suspense between himself and his rival, were the true causes of his warlike resolve. However that may be, he determined to push the war vigorously forward at the three points at which he could easily wage it. In Brittany he had a party already engaged in the struggle; in Aquitaine, possessions of importance to defend or recover; in Flanders, allies with power to back him, and as angry as he himself. To Brittany he forwarded fresh supplies for the Count of Montfort; to Aquitaine he sent Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, his own cousin, and the ablest of his lieutenants; and he himself prepared to cross over with a large army to Flanders.

The Earl of Derby met with solid and brilliant success in Aquitaine. He attacked and took in rapid succession Bergerac, La Reole, Aiguillon, Montpezat, Villefranche, and Angouleme. None of those places was relieved in time; the strict discipline of Derby's troops and the skill of the English archers were too much for the bravery of the men-at-arms, and the raw levies, ill organized and ill paid, of the King of France; and, in a word, the English were soon masters of almost the whole country between the Garonne and the Charente. Under such happy auspices Edward III. arrived on the 7th of July, 1345, at the port of Ecluse (Sluys), anxious to put himself in concert with the Flemings touching the campaign he proposed to commence before long in the north of France. Artevelde, with the consuls of Bruges and Ypres, was awaiting him there. According to some historians, Edward invited them aboard of his galley, and represented to them that the time had come for renouncing imperfect resolves and half-measures; told them that their count, Louis of Flanders, and his ancestors, had always ignored and attacked their liberties, and that the best thing they could do would be to sever their connection with a house they could not trust; and offered them for their chieftain his own son, the young Prince of Wales, to whom he would give the title of Duke of Flanders. According to other historians, it was not King Edward, but Artevelde himself, who took the initiative in this proposition. The latter had for some time past felt his own dominion in Flanders attacked and shaken; and he had been confronted, in his own native city, by declared enemies, who had all but come to blows with his own partisans. The different industrial corporations of Ghent were no longer at one amongst themselves; the weavers had quarrelled with the fullers. Division was likewise reaching a great height amongst the Flemish towns. The burghers of Poperinghe had refused to continue recognizing the privileges of those of Ypres; and the Ypres men, enraged, had taken up arms, and, after a sanguinary melley, had forced the folks of Poperinghe to give in. Then the Ypres men, proud of their triumph, had gone and broken the weavers' machinery at Bailleul, and in some other towns. Artevelde, constrained to take part in these petty civil wars, had been led on to greater and greater abuse, in his own city itself, of his municipal despotism, already grown hateful to many of his fellow-citizens. Whether he himself proposed to shake off the yoke of Count Louis of Flanders, and take for duke the Prince of Wales, or merely accepted King Edward's proposal, he set resolutely to work to get it carried. The most able men, swayed by their own passions and the growing necessities of the struggle in which they may be engaged, soon forget their first intentions, and ignore their new perils. The consuls of Bruges and Ypres, present with Artevelde at his interview with King Edward in the port of Ecluse (Sluys), answered that "they could not decide so great a matter unless the whole community of Flanders should agree thereto," and so returned to their cities. Artevelde followed them thither, and succeeded in getting the proposed resolution adopted by the people of Ypres and Bruges. But when he returned to Ghent, on the 24th of July, 1345, "those in the city who knew of his coming," says Froissart, "had assembled in the street whereby he must ride to his hostel. So soon as they saw him they began to mutter, saying, 'There goes he who is too much master, and would fain do with the countship of Flanders according to his own will; which cannot be borne.' It had, besides this, been spread about the city that James Van Artevelde had secretly sent to England the great treasure of Flanders, which he had been collecting for the space of the nine years and more during which he had held the government. This was a matter which did greatly vex and incense them of Ghent. As James Van Artevelde rode along the street, he soon perceived that there was something fresh against him, for those who were wont to bow down and take off their caps to him turned him a cold shoulder, and went back into their houses. Then he began to be afraid; and so soon as he had dismounted at his house, he had all the doors and windows shut and barred. Scarcely had his varlets done so, when the street in which he lived was covered, front and back, with folk, and chiefly small crafts-folk. His hostel was surrounded and beset, front and back, and broken into by force. Those within defended themselves a long while, and overthrew and wounded many; but at last they could not hold out, for they were so closely assailed that nearly three quarters of the city were at this assault. When Artevelde saw the efforts a-making, and how hotly he was pressed, he came to a window over the street, and began to abase himself, and say with much fine language, 'Good folks, what want ye? What is it that doth move ye? Wherefore are ye so vexed at me? In what way can I have angered ye? Tell me, and I will mend it according to your wishes.' Then all those who had heard him answered with one voice, 'We would have an account of the great treasure of Flanders, which you have sent to England without right or reason.' Artevelde answered full softly, 'Of a surety, sirs, I have never taken a denier from the treasury of Flanders; go ye back quietly home, I pray you, and come again to-morrow morning; I shall be so well prepared to render you a good account, that, according to reason, it cannot but content ye.' 'Nay, nay,' they answered, with one voice, 'but we would have it at once; you shall not escape us so; we do know of a verity that you have taken it out and sent it away to England, without our wit; for which cause you must needs die.' When Artevelde heard this word, he began to weep right piteously, and said, 'Sirs, ye have made me what I am, and ye did swear to me aforetime that ye would guard and defend me against all men; and now ye would kill me, and without a cause. Ye can do so an if it please you, for I am but one single man against ye all, without any defence. Think hereon, for God's sake, and look back to bygone times. Consider the great courtesies and services that I have done ye. Know ye not how all trade had perished in this country? It was I who raised it up again. Afterwards I governed ye in peace so great, that, during the time of my government, ye have had everything to your wish, grains, wools, and all sorts of merchandise, wherewith ye are well provided and in good case.' Then they began to shout, 'Come down, and preach not to us from such a height; we would have account and reckoning of the great treasure of Flanders which you have too long had under control without rendering an account, which it appertaineth not to any officer to do.' When Artevelde saw that they would not cool down, and would not restrain themselves, he closed the window, and bethought him that he would escape by the back, and get him gone to a church adjoining his hostel; but his hostel was already burst open and broken into behind, and there were more than four hundred persons who were all anxious to seize him. At last he was caught amongst them, and killed on the spot without mercy. A weaver, called Thomas Denis, gave him his death-blow. This was the end of Artevelde, who in his time was so great a master in Flanders. Poor folk exalted him at first, and wicked folk slew him at the last."

It was a great loss for King Edward. Under Van Artevelde's bold dominance, and in consequence of his alliance with England, the warlike renown of Flanders had made some noise in Europe, to such an extent that Petrarch exclaimed, "List to the sounds, still indistinct, that reach us from the world of the West; Flanders is plunged in ceaseless war; all the country stretching from the restless Ocean to the Latin Alps is rushing forth to arms. Would to Heaven that there might come to us some gleams of salvation from thence! O Italy, poor father-land, thou prey to sufferings without relief, thou who wast wont with thy deeds of arms to trouble the peace of the world, now art thou motionless when the fate of the world hangs on the chances of battle!" The Flemings spared no effort to re-assure the King of England. Their envoys went to Westminster to deplore the murder of Van Artevelde, and tried to persuade Edward that his policy would be perpetuated throughout their cities, and "to such purpose," says Froissart, "that in the end the king was fairly content with the Flemings, and they with him, and, between them, the death of James Van Artevelde was little by little forgotten." Edward, however, was so much affected by it that he required a whole year before he could resume with any confidence his projects of war; and it was not until the 2d of July, 1346, that he embarked at Southampton, taking with him, besides his son, the Prince of Wales, hardly sixteen years of age, an army which comprised, according to Froissart, seven earls, more than thirty-five barons, a great number of knights, four thousand men-at-arms, ten thousand English archers, six thousand Irish, and twelve thousand Welsh infantry, in all something more than thirty-two thousand men, troops even more formidable for their discipline and experience of war than for their numbers. When they were out at sea none knew, not even the king himself, for what point of the Continent they were to make, for the south or the north, for Aquitaine or Normandy. "Sir," said Godfrey d'Harcourt, who had become one of the king's most trusted counsellors, "the country of Normandy is one of the fattest in the world, and I promise you, at the risk of my head, that if you put in there you shall take possession of land at your good pleasure, for the folk there never were armed, and all the flower of their chivalry is now at Aiguillon with their duke; for certain, we shall find there gold, silver, victual, and all other good things in great abundance." Edward adopted this advice; and on the 12th of July, 1346, his fleet anchored before the peninsula of Cotentin, at Cape La Hogue. Whilst disembarking, at the very first step he made on shore, the king fell "so roughly," says Froissart, "that blood spurted from his nose. 'Sir,' said his knights to him, 'go back to your ship, and come not now to land, for here is an ill sign for you.' 'Nay, verily,' quoth the king, full roundly, 'it is a right good sign for me, since the land doth desire me.'" Caesar did and said much the same on disembarking in Africa, and William the Conqueror on landing in England. In spite of contemporary accounts, there is a doubt about the authenticity of these striking expressions, which become favorites, and crop up again on all similar occasions.

For a month Edward marched his army over Normandy, "finding on his road," says Froissart, "the country fat and plenteous in everything, the garners full of corn, the houses full of all manner of riches, carriages, wagons and horses, swine, ewes, wethers, and the finest oxen in the world." He took and plundered on his way Barfleur, Cherbourg, Valognes, Carentan, and St. Lo. When, on the 26th of July, he arrived before Caen, "a city bigger than any in England save London, and full of all kinds of merchandise, of rich burghers, of noble dames, and of fine churches," the population attempted to resist. Philip had sent to them the constable, Raoul d'Eu, and the Count of Tancarville; but, after three days of petty fighting around the city and even in the streets themselves, Edward became master of it, and on the entreaty, it is said, of Godfrey d'Harcourt, exempted it from pillage. Continuing his march, he occupied Louviers, Vernon, Verneuil, Mantes, Meulan, and Poissy, where he took up his quarters in the old residence of King Robert; and thence his troops advanced and spread themselves as far as Ruel, Neuilly, Boulogne, St. Cloud, Bourg-la-Reine, and almost to the gates of Paris, whence could be seen "the fire and smoke from burning villages." "We ourselves," says a contemporary chronicler, "saw these things; and it was a great dishonor that in the midst of the kingdom of France the King of England should squander, spoil, and consume the king's wines and other goods." Great was the consternation at Paris. And it was redoubled when Philip gave orders for the demolition of the houses built along by the walls of circumvallation, on the ground that they embarrassed the defence. The people believed that they were on the eve of a siege. The order was revoked; but the feeling became even more intense when it was known that the king was getting ready to start for St. Denis, where his principal allies, the King of Bohemia, the Dukes of Hainault and of Lorraine, the Counts of Flanders and of Blois, "and a very great array of baronry and chivalry," were already assembled. "Ah! dear sir and noble king," cried the burghers of Paris as they came to Philip and threw themselves on their knees before him, "what would you do? Would you thus leave your good city of Paris? Your enemies are already within two leagues, and will soon be in our city when they know that you are gone; and we have and shall have none to defend us against them. Sir, may it please you to remain and watch over your good city." "My good people," answered the king, "have ye no fear; the English shall come no nigher to you; I am away to St. Denis to my men-at-arms, for I mean to ride against these English, and fight them, in such fashion as I may." Philip recalled in all haste his troops from Aquitaine, commanded the burgher-forces to assemble, and gave them, as he had given all his allies, St. Denis for the rallying-point. At sight of so many great lords and all sorts of men of war flocking together from all points, the Parisians took fresh courage. "For many a long day there had not been seen at St. Denis a king of France in arms and fully prepared for battle."

Edward began to be afraid of having pushed too far forward, and of finding himself endangered in the heart of France, confronted by an army which would soon be stronger than his own. Some chronicles say that Philip, in his turn, sent a challenge either for single combat or for a battle on a fixed day, in a place assigned, and that Edward, in his turn also, declined the proposition he had but lately made to his rival. It appears, further, that at the moment of commencing his retreat away from Paris, he tried ringing the changes on Philip with respect to the line he intended to take, and that Philip was led to believe that the English army would fall back in a westerly direction, by Orleans and Tours, whereas it marched northward, where Edward flattered himself he would find partisans, counting especially on the help of the Flemings, who, in fulfilment of their promise, had already advanced as far as Bethune to support him. Philip was soon better informed, and moved with all his army into Picardy in pursuit of the English army, which was in a hurry to reach and cross the Somme, and so continue its march northward. It was more than once forced to fight on its march with the people of the towns and country through which it was passing; provisions were beginning to fall short; and Edward sent his two marshals, the Earl of Warwick and Godfrey d'Harcourt, to discover where it was practicable to cross the river, which, at this season of the year and so near its mouth, was both broad and deep. They returned without having any satisfactory information to report; "whereupon," says Froissart, "the king was not more joyous or less pensive, and began to fall into a great melancholy." He had halted three or four days at Airaines, some few leagues from Amiens, whither the King of France had arrived in pursuit with an army, it is said, more than a hundred thousand strong. Philip learned through his scouts that the King of England would evacuate Airaines the next morning, and ride to Abbeville in hopes of finding some means of getting over the Somme. Philip immediately ordered a Norman baron, Godemar du Fay, to go with a body of troops and guard the ford of Blanche-Tache, below Abbeville, the only point at which, it was said, the English could cross the river; and on the same day he himself moved with the bulk of his army from Amiens on Airaines. There he arrived about midday, some few hours after that the King of England had departed with such precipitation that the French found in it "great store of provisions, meat ready spitted, bread and pastry in the oven, wines in barrel, and many tables which the English had left ready set and laid out." "Sir," said Philip's officers to him, as soon as he was at Airaines, "rest you here and wait for your barons and their folk, for the English cannot escape you." It was concluded, in point of fact, that Edward and his troops, not being able to cross the Somme, would find themselves hemmed in between the French army and the strong places of Abbeville, St. Valery, and Le Crotoi, in the most evil case and perilous position possible. But Edward, on arriving at the little town of Oisemont, hard by the Somme, set out in person in quest of the ford he was so anxious to discover. He sent for some prisoners he had made in the country, and said to them, "right courteously," according to Froissart, "'Is there here any man who knows of a passage below Abbeville, where-by we and our army might cross the river without peril?' And a varlet from a neighboring mill, whose name history has preserved as that of a traitor, Gobin Agace, said to the king, 'Sir, I do promise you, at the risk of my head, that I will guide you to such a spot, where you shall cross the River Somme without peril, you and your army.' 'Comrade,' said the king to him, 'if I find true that which thou tellest us, I will set thee free from thy prison, thee and all thy fellows for love of thee, and I will cause to be given to thee a hundred golden nobles and a good stallion.'" The varlet had told the truth; the ford was found at the spot called Blanche-Tache, whither Philip had sent Godemar du Fay with a few thousand men to guard it. A battle took place; but the two marshals of England, "unfurling their banners in the name of God and St. George, and having with them the most valiant and best mounted, threw themselves into the water at full gallop, and there, in the river, was done many a deed of battle, and many a man was laid low on one side and the other, for Sir Godemar and his comrades did valiantly defend the passage; but at last the English got across, and moved forward into the fields as fast as ever they landed. When Sir Godemar saw the mishap, he made off as quickly as he could, and so did a many of his comrades." The King of France, when he heard the news, was very wroth, "for he had good hope of finding the English on the Somme and fighting them there. 'What is it right to do now?' asked Philip of his marshals. 'Sir,' answered they, 'you cannot now cross in pursuit of the English, for the tide is already up.'" Philip went disconsolate to lie at Abbeville, whither all his men followed him. Had he been as watchful as Edward was, and had he, instead of halting at Airaines "by the ready-set tables which the English had left," marched at once in pursuit of them, perhaps he would have caught and beaten them on the left bank of the Somme, before they could cross and take up position on the other side. This was the first striking instance of that extreme inequality between the two kings in point of ability and energy which was before long to produce results so fatal for Philip.

When Edward, after passing the Somme, had arrived near Crecy, five leagues from Abbeville, in the countship of Ponthieu which had formed part of his mother Isabel's dowry, "'Halt we here,' said he to his marshals; 'I will go no farther till I have seen the enemy; I am on my mother's rightful inheritance which was given her on her marriage; I will defend it against mine adversary, Philip of Valois;' and he rested in the open fields, he and all his men, and made his marshals mark well the ground where they would set their battle in array." Philip, on his side, had moved to Abbeville, where all his men came and joined him, and whence he sent out scouts "to learn the truth about the English. When he knew that they were resting in the open fields near Crecy and showed that they were awaiting their enemies, the King of France was very joyful, and said that, please God, they should fight him on the morrow [the day after Friday, August 25, 1346]. He that day bade to supper all the high-born princes who were at Abbeville. They were all in great spirits and had great talk of arms, and after supper the king prayed all the lords to be all of them, one toward another, friendly and courteous, without envy, hatred, and pride, and every one made him a promise thereof. On the same day of Friday the King of England also gave a supper to the earls and barons of his army, made them great cheer, and then sent them away to rest, which they did. When all the company had gone, he entered into his oratory, and fell on his knees before the altar, praying devoutly that God would permit him on the morrow, if he should fight, to come out of the business with honor; after which, about midnight, he went and lay down. On the morrow he rose pretty early, for good reason, heard mass with the Prince of Wales, his son, and both of them communicated. The majority of his men confessed and put themselves in good ease. After mass the king commanded all to get on their arms and take their places in the field according as he had assigned them the day before." Edward had divided his army into three bodies; he had put the first, forming the van, under the orders of the young Prince of Wales, having about him the best and most tried warriors; the second had for commanders earls and barons in whom the king had confidence; and the third, the reserve, he commanded in person. Having thus made his arrangements, Edward, mounted on a little palfrey, with a white staff in his hand and his marshals in his train, rode at a foot-pace from rank to rank, exhorting all his men, officers and privates, to stoutly defend his right and do their duty; and "he said these words to them," says Froissart, "with so bright a smile and so joyous a mien that whoso had before been disheartened felt reheartened on seeing and hearing him." Having finished his ride, Edward went back to his own division, giving orders for all his folk to eat their fill and drink one draught: which they did. "And then they sat down all of them on the ground, with their head-pieces and their bows in front of them, resting themselves in order to be more fresh and cool when the enemy should come."

Philip also set himself in motion on Saturday, the 26th of August, and, after having heard mass, marched out from Abbeville with all his barons. "There was so great a throng of men-at-arms there," says Froissart, "that it were a marvel to think on, and the king rode mighty gently to wait for all his folk." When they were two leagues from Abbeville, one of them that were with him said, "Sir, it were well to put your lines in order of battle, and to send three or four of your knights to ride forward and observe the enemy and in what condition they be." So four knights pushed forward to within sight of the English, and, returning immediately to the king, whom they could not approach without breaking the host that encompassed him, they said by the mouth of one of them, "Know, sir, that the English be halted, well and regularly, in three lines of battle, and show no sign of meaning to fly, but await your coming. For my part, my counsel is that you halt all your men, and rest them in the fields throughout this day. Before the hindermost can come up, and before your lines of battle are set in order, it will be late; your men will be tired and in disarray; and you will find the enemy cool and fresh. To-morrow morning you will be better able to dispose your men and determine in what quarter it will be expedient to attack the enemy. Sure may you be that they will await you." This counsel was well pleasing to the King of France, and he commanded that thus it should be. "The two marshals rode one to the front and the other to the rear with orders to the bannerets, 'Halt, banners, by command of the king, in the name of God and St. Denis!' At this order those who were foremost halted, but not those who were hindermost, continuing to ride forward and saying that they would not halt until they were as much to the front as the foremost were. Neither the king nor his marshals could get the mastery of their men, for there was so goodly a number of great lords that each was minded to show his own might. There was, besides, in the fields, so goodly a number of common people that all the roads between Abbeville and Crecy were covered with them; and when these folk thought themselves near the enemy, they drew their swords, shouting, 'Death! death!' And not a soul did they see."

"When the English saw the French approaching, they rose up in fine order and ranged themselves in their lines of battle, that of the Prince of Wales right in front, and the Earls of Northampton and Arundel, who commanded the second, took up their place on the wing, right orderly and all ready to support the prince, if need should be. Well, the lords, kings, dukes, counts, and barons of the French came not up all together, but one in front and another behind, without plan or orderliness. When King Philip arrived at the spot where the English were thus halted, and saw them, the blood boiled within him, for he hated them, and he said to his marshals, 'Let our Genoese pass to the front and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis.' There were there fifteen thousand of these said Genoese bowmen; but they were sore tired with going a-foot that day more than six leagues and fully armed, and they said to their commanders that they were not prepared to do any great feat of battle. 'To be saddled with such a scum as this that fails you in the hour of need!' said the Duke d'Alencon on hearing those words. Whilst the Genoese were holding back, there fell from heaven a rain, heavy and thick, with thunder and lightning very mighty and terrible. Before long, however, the air began to clear and the sun to shine. The French had it right in their eyes and the English at their backs. When the Genoese had recovered themselves and got together, they advanced upon the English with loud shouts, so as to strike dismay; but the English kept quite quiet, and showed no sign of it. Then the Genoese bent their cross-bows and began to shoot. The English, making one step forward, let fly their arrows, which came down so thick upon the Genoese that it looked like a fall of snow. The Genoese, galled and discomfited, began to fall back. Between them and the main body of the French was a great hedge of men-at-arms who were watching their proceedings. When the King of France saw his bowmen thus in disorder he shouted to the men-at-arms, 'Up now and slay all this scum, for it blocks our way and hinders us from getting forward.'" Then the French, on every side, struck out at the Genoese, at whom the English archers continued to shoot.

"Thus began the battle between Broye and Crecy, at the hour of vespers." The French, as they came up, were already tired and in great disorder: "howbeit so many valiant men and good knights kept ever riding forward for their honor's sake, and preferred rather to die than that a base flight should be cast in their teeth." A fierce combat took place between them and the division of the Prince of Wales. Thither penetrated the Count d'Alencon and the Count of Flanders with their followers, round the flank of the English archers; and the King of France, who was foaming with displeasure and wrath, rode forward to join his brother D'Alencon, but there was so great a hedge of archers and men-at-arms mingled together that he could never get past. Thomas of Norwich, a knight serving under the Prince of Wales, was sent to the King of England to ask him for help. "'Sir Thomas,' said the king, 'is my son dead or unhorsed, or so wounded that he cannot help himself?' 'Not so, my lord, please God; but he is fighting against great odds, and is like to have need of your help.' 'Sir Thomas,' replied the king, 'return to them who sent you, and tell them from me not to send for me, whatever chance befall them, so long as my son is alive, and tell them that I bid them let the lad win his spurs; for I wish, if God so deem, that the day should be his, and the honor thereof remain to him and to those to whom I have given him in charge.' The knight returned with this answer to his chiefs; and it encouraged them greatly, and they repented within themselves for that they had sent him to the king." Warlike ardor, if not ability and prudence, was the same on both sides. Philip's faithful ally, John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, had come thither, blind as he was, with his son Charles and his knights; and when he knew that the battle had begun he asked those who were near him how it was going on. "'My lord,' they said, 'the Genoese are discomfited, and the king has given orders to slay them all; and all the while between our folk and them there is so great disorder that they stumble one over another and hinder us greatly.' 'Ha!' said the king, 'that is an ill sign for us; where is Sir Charles, my son?' 'My lord, we know not; we have reason to believe that he is elsewhere in the fight.' 'Sirs,' replied the old king, 'ye are my liegemen, my friends, and my comrades; I pray you and require you to lead me so far to the front in the work of this day that I may strike a blow with my sword; it shall not be said that I came hither to do nought.' So his train, who loved his honor and their own advancement," says Froissart, "did his bidding. For to acquit themselves of their duty, and that they might not lose him in the throng, they tied themselves all together by the reins of their horses, and set the king, their lord, right in front, that he might the better accomplish his desire, and thus they bore down on the enemy. And the king went so far forward that he struck a good blow, yea, three and four; and so did all those who were with him. And they served him so well and charged so well forward upon the English, that all fell there and were found next day on the spot around their lord, and their horses tied together."

"The King of France," continues Froissart, "had great anguish at heart when he saw his men thus discomfited and falling one after another before a handful of folk as the English were. He asked counsel of Sir John of Hainault, who was near him and who said to him, 'Truly, sir, I can give you no better counsel than that you should withdraw and place yourself in safety, for I see no remedy here. It will soon be late; and then you would be as likely to ride upon your enemies as amongst your friends, and so be lost.' Late in the evening, at nightfall, King Philip left the field with a heavy heart—and for good cause; he had just five barons with him, and no more! He rode, quite broken-hearted, to the castle of Broye. When he came to the gate, he found it shut and the bridge drawn up, for it was fully night, and was very dark and thick. The king had the castellan summoned, who came forward on the battlements and cried aloud, 'Who's there? who knocks at such an hour?' 'Open, castellan,' said Philip; 'it is the unhappy King of France.' The castellan went out as soon as he recognized the voice of the King of France; and he well knew already that they had been discomfited, from some fugitives who had passed at the foot of the castle. He let down the bridge and opened the gate. Then the king, with his following, went in, and remained there up to midnight, for the king did not care to stay and shut himself up therein. He drank a draught, and so did they who were with him; then they mounted to horse, took guides to conduct them, and rode in such wise that at break of day they entered the good city of Amiens. There the king halted, took up his quarters in an abbey, and said that he would go no farther until he knew the truth about his men, which of them were left on the field and which had escaped."

Whilst Philip, with all speed, was on the road back to Paris with his army as disheartened as its king, and more disorderly in retreat than it had been in battle, Edward was hastening, with ardor and intelligence, to reap the fruits of his victory. In the difficult war of conquest he had undertaken, what was clearly of most importance to him was to possess on the coast of France, as near as possible to England, a place which he might make, in his operations by land and sea, a point of arrival and departure, of occupancy, of provisioning, and of secure refuge. Calais exactly fulfilled these conditions. It was a natural harbor, protected, for many centuries past, by two huge towers, of which one, it is said, was built by the Emperor Caligula and the other by Charlemagne; it had been deepened and improved, at the end of the tenth century, by Baldwin IV., Count of Flanders, and in the thirteenth by Philip of France, called Toughskin (Hurepel), Count of Boulogne; and, in the fourteenth, it had become an important city, surrounded by a strong wall of circumvallation, and having erected in its midst a huge keep, furnished with bastions and towers, which was called the Castle. On arriving before the place, September 3, 1346, Edward "immediately had built all round it," says Froissart, "houses and dwelling-places of solid carpentry, and arranged in streets as if he were to remain there for ten or twelve years, for his intention was not to leave it winter or summer, whatever time and whatever trouble he must spend and take. He called this new town Villeneuve la Hardie; and he had therein all things necessary for an army, and more too, as a place appointed for the holding of a market on Wednesday and Saturday; and therein were mercers' shops, and butchers' shops, and stores for the sale of cloth, and bread, and all other necessaries. King Edward did not have the city of Calais assaulted by his men, well knowing that he would lose his pains, but said he would starve it out, however long a time it might cost him, if King Philip of France did not come to fight him again, and raise the siege."

Calais had for its governor John de Vienne, a valiant and faithful Burgundian knight, "the which, seeing," says Froissart, "that the King of England was making every sacrifice to keep up the siege, ordered that all sorts of small folk, who had no provisions, should quit the city without further notice. They went forth on a Wednesday morning, men, women, and children, more than seventeen hundred of them, and passed through King Edward's army. They were asked why they were leaving; and they answered, because they had no means of living. Then the king permitted them to pass, and caused to be given to all of them, male and female, a hearty dinner, and after dinner two shillings apiece, the which grace was commended as very handsome; and so indeed it was." Edward probably hoped that his generosity would produce, in the town itself which remained in a state of siege, a favorable impression; but he had to do with a population ardently warlike and patriotic, burghers as well as knights. They endured for eleven months all the sufferings arising from isolation and famine; though, from time to time, fishermen and seamen in their neighborhood, and amongst others two seamen of Abbeville, the names of whom have been preserved in history, Marant and Mestriel, succeeded in getting victuals in to them. The King of France made two attempts to relieve them. On the 20th of May, 1347, he assembled his troops at Amiens; but they were not ready to march till about the middle of July, and as long before as the 23d of June a French fleet of ten galleys and thirty-five transports had been driven off by the English. John de Vienne wrote to Philip, "Everything has been eaten, cats, dogs, and horses, and we can no longer find victual in the town unless we eat human flesh. . . . If we have not speedy succor, we will issue forth from the town to fight, whether to live or die, for we would rather die honorably in the field than eat one another. . . . If a remedy be not soon applied, you will never more have letter from me, and the town will be lost as well as we who are in it. May our Lord grant you a happy life and a long, and put you in such a disposition that, if we die for your sake, you may settle the account therefor with our heirs!" On the 27th of July Philip arrived in person before Calais. If Froissart can be trusted, "he had with him full two hundred thousand men, and these French rode up with banners flying as if to fight, and it was a fine sight to see such puissant array; and so, when they of Calais who were on the walls saw them appear and their banners floating on the breeze, they had great joy, and believed that they were going to be soon delivered! But when they saw camping and tenting going forward they were more angered than before, for it seemed to them an evil sign." The marshals of France went about everywhere looking for a passage, and they reported that it was nowhere possible to open a road without exposing the army to loss, so well all the approaches to the place, by sea and land, were guarded by the English. The pope's two legates, who had accompanied King Philip, tried in vain to open negotiations. Philip sent four knights to the King of England to urge him to appoint a place where a battle might be fought without advantage on either side; but, "Sirs," answered Edward, "I have been here nigh upon a year, and have been at heavy charges by it; and having done so much that before long I shall be master of Calais. I will by no means retard my conquest which I have so much desired. Let mine adversary and his people find out a way, as they please, to fight me."

Other testimony would have us believe that Edward accepted Philip's challenge, and that it was the King of France who raised fresh difficulties in consequence of which the proposed battle did not take place. Froissart's account, however, seems the more truth-like in itself, and more in accordance with the totality of facts. However that may be, whether it were actual powerlessness or want of spirit both on the part of the French army and of the king, Philip, on the 2d of August, 1347, took the road back to Amiens, and dismissed all those who had gone with him, men-at-arms and common folk.

When the people of Calais saw that all hope of a rescue had slipped from them, they held a council, resigned themselves to offer submission to the King of England rather than die of hunger, and begged their governor, John de Vienne, to enter into negotiations for that purpose with the besiegers. Walter de Manny, instructed by Edward to reply to these overtures, said to John de Vienne, "The king's intent is, that ye put yourselves at his free will to ransom or put to death such as it shall please him; the people of Calais have caused him so great displeasure, cost him so much money, and lost him so many men, that it is not astonishing if that weighs heavily upon him." "Sir Walter," answered John de Vienne, "it would be too hard a matter for us if we were to consent to what you say. There are within here but a small number of us knights and squires who have loyally served our lord the King of France even as you would serve yours in like case; but we would suffer greater evils than ever men have had to endure rather than consent that the meanest 'prentice-boy or varlet of the town should have other evil than the greatest of us. We pray you be pleased to return to the King of England, and pray him to have pity upon us; and you will do us courtesy." "By my faith," answered Walter de Manny, "I will do it willingly, Sir John; and I would that, by God's help, the king might be pleased to listen unto me." And the brave English knight reported to the king the prayer of the French knights in Calais, saying, "My lord, Sir John de Vienne told me that they were in very sore extremity and famine, but that, rather than surrender all to your will, to live or die as it might please you, they would sell themselves so dearly as never did men-at-arms." "I will not do otherwise than I have said," answered the king. "My lord," replied Walter, "you will perchance be wrong, for you will give us a bad example; if you should be pleased to send us to defend any of your fortresses, we should of a surety not go willingly if you have these people put to death, for thus would they do to us in like case." These words caused Edward to reflect; and the greater part of the English barons came to the aid of Walter de Manny. "Sirs," said the king, "I would not be all alone against you all. Go, Walter, to them of Calais, and say to the governor that the greatest grace they can find in my sight is that six of the most notable burghers come forth from their town, bare-headed, bare-footed, with ropes round their necks, and with the keys of the town and castle in their hands. With them I will do according to my will, and the rest I will receive to mercy." "My lord," said Walter, "I will do it willingly." He returned to Calais, where John de Vienne was awaiting him, and reported the king's decision. The governor immediately left the ramparts, went to the market-place, and had the bell rung to assemble the people. At sound of the bell men and women came hurrying up hungering for news, as was natural for people so hard-pressed by famine that they could not hold out any longer. John de Vienne then repeated to them what he had just been told, adding that there was no other way, and that they would have to make short answer. On this they all fell a-weeping and crying out so bitterly that no heart in the world, however hard, could have seen and heard them without pity. Even John de Vienne shed tears. Then rose up to his feet the richest burgher of the town, Eustace de St. Pierre, who, at the former council, had been for capitulation. "Sir," said he, "it would be great pity to leave this people to die, by famine or otherwise, when any remedy can be found against it; and he who should keep them from such a mishap would find great favor in the eyes of our Lord. I have great hope to find favor in the eyes of our Lord if I die to save this people; I would fain be the first herein, and I will willingly place myself in my shirt and bare-headed and with a rope round my neck, at the mercy of the King of England." At this speech, men and women cast themselves at the feet of Eustace de St. Pierre, weeping piteously. Another right-honorable burgher, who had great possessions and two beautiful damsels for daughters, rose up and said that he would act comrade to Eustace de St. Pierre: his name was John d'Aire. Then, for the third, James de Vissant, a rich man in personalty and realty; then his brother Peter de Vissant; and then the fifth and sixth, of whom none has told the names. On the 5th of August, 1347, these six burghers, thus apparelled, with cords round their necks and each with a bunch of the keys of the city and of the castle, were conducted outside the gates by John de Vienne, who rode a small hackney, for he was in such ill plight that he could not go a-foot. He gave them up to Sir Walter, who was awaiting him, and said to him, "As captain of Calais I deliver to you, with the consent of the poor people of the town, these six burghers, who are, I swear to you, the most honorable and notable in person, in fortune, and in ancestry, in the town of Calais. I pray you be pleased to pray the King of England that these good folks be not put to death." "I know not," answered De Manny, "what my lord the king may mean to do with them; but I promise you that I will do mine ability." When Sir Walter brought in the six burghers in this condition, King Edward was in his chamber with a great company of earls, barons, and knights. As soon as he heard that the folks of Calais were there as he had ordered, he went out and stood in the open space before his hostel and all those lords with him; and even Queen Philippa of England, who was with child, followed the king her lord. He gazed most cruelly on those six poor men, for he had his heart possessed with so much rage that at first he could not speak. When he spoke, he commanded them to be straightway beheaded, All the barons and knights who were there prayed him to show them mercy. "Gentle sir," said Walter de Manny, "restrain your wrath; you have renown for gentleness and nobleness; be pleased to do nought whereby it may be diminished; if you have not pity on yonder folk, all others will say that it was great cruelty on your part to put to death these six honorable burghers, who of their own free will have put themselves at your mercy to save the others." The king gnashed his teeth, saying, "Sir Walter, hold your peace; let them fetch hither my headsman; the people of Calais have been the death of so many of my men that it is but meet that yon fellows die also." Then, with great humility, the noble queen, who was very nigh her delivery, threw herself on her knees at the feet of the king, saying, "Ah gentle sir, if, as you know, I have asked nothing of you from the time that I crossed the sea in great peril, I pray you humbly that as a special boon, for the sake of Holy Mary's Son and for the love of me, you will please to have mercy on these six men."

The king did not speak at once, and fixed his eyes on the good dame his wife, who was weeping piteously on her knees. She softened his stern heart, for he would have been loath to vex her in the state in which she was; and he said to her, "Ha! dame, I had much rather you had been elsewhere than here; but you pray me such prayers that I dare not refuse you, and though it irks me much to do so, there! I give them up to you; do with them as you will." "Thanks, hearty thanks, my lord," said the good queen. Then she rose up and raised up the six burghers, had the ropes taken off their necks, and took them with her to her chamber, where she had fresh clothes and dinner brought to them. Afterwards she gave them six nobles apiece, and had them led out of the host in all safety.

Edward was choleric and stern in his choler, but judicious and politic. He had sense enough to comprehend the impressions exhibited around him and to take them into account. He had yielded to the free-spoken representations of Walter de Manny and to the soft entreaties of his royal wife. When he was master of Calais he did not suffer himself to be under any illusion as to the sentiments of the population he had conquered, and, without excluding the French from the town, he took great care to mingle with them an English population. He had allowed a free passage to the poor Calaisians driven out by famine; he now fetched from London thirty-six burghers of position and three hundred others of inferior condition, with their wives and children, and he granted to the town thus depeopled and repeopled all such municipal and commercial privileges as were likely to attract new inhabitants thither. But, at the same time, he felt what renown and importance a devotion like that of the six burghers of Calais could not fail to confer upon such men, and not only did he trouble himself to get them back to their own hearths, but on the 8th of October, 1347, two months after the surrender of Calais, he gave Eustace de St. Pierre a considerable pension "on account of the good services he was to render in the town by maintaining good order there," and he re-instated him, him and his heirs, in possession of the properties that had belonged to him. Eustace, more concerned for the interests of his own town than for those of France, and being more of a Calaisian burgher than a national patriot, showed no hesitation, for all that appears, in accepting this new fashion of serving his native city, for which he had shown himself so ready to die. He lived four years as a subject of the King of England. At his death, which happened in 1351, his heirs declared themselves faithful subjects of the King of France, and Edward confiscated away from them the possessions he had restored to their predecessor. Eustace de St. Pierre's cousin and comrade in devotion to their native town, John d'Aire, would not enter Calais again; his property was confiscated, and his house, the finest, it is said, in the town, was given by King Edward to Queen Philippa, who showed no more hesitation in accepting it than Eustace in serving his new king. Long-lived delicacy of sentiment and conduct was rarer in those rough and rude times than heroic bursts of courage and devotion.

Philip of Valois tried to afford some consolation and supply some remedy for the misfortune of the Calaisians banished from their town. He secured to them exemption from certain imposts, no matter whither they removed, and the possession of all property and inheritances that might fall to them, and he promised to confer upon them all vacant offices which it might suit them to fill. But it was not in his gift to repair. even superficially and in appearance, the evils he had not known how to prevent or combat to any purpose. The outset of his reign had been brilliant and prosperous; but his victory at Cassel over the Flemings brought more cry than wool. He had vanity enough to flaunt it rather than wit enough to turn it to account. He was a prince of courts, and tournaments, and trips, and galas, whether regal or plebeian; he was volatile, imprudent, haughty, and yet frivolous, brave without ability, and despotic without anything to show for it. The battle of Crecy and the loss of Calais were reverses from which he never even made a serious attempt to recover; he hastily concluded with Edward a truce, twice renewed, which served only to consolidate the victor's successes. A calamity of European extent came as an addition to the distresses of France. From 1347 to 1349 a frightful disease, brought from Egypt and Syria through the ports of Italy, and called the black plague or the plague of Florence, ravaged Western Europe, especially Provence and Languedoc, where it carried off, they say, two thirds of the inhabitants. Machiavelli and Boccaccio have described with all the force of their genius the material and moral effects of this terrible plague. The court of France suffered particularly from it, and the famous object of Petrarch's tender sonnets, Laura de Noves, married to Hugh de Sade, fell a victim to it at Avignon. When the epidemic had well nigh disappeared, the survivors, men and women, princes and subjects, returned passionately to their pleasures and their galas; to mortality, says a contemporary chronicler, succeeded a rage for marriage; and Philip of Valois himself, now fifty-eight years of age, took for his second wife Blanche of Navarre, who was only eighteen. She was a sister of that young King of Navarre, Charles II., who was soon to get the name of Charles the Bad, and to become so dangerous an enemy for Philip's successors. Seven months after his marriage, and on the 22d of August, 1350, Philip died at Nogent-le-Roi in the Haute-Marne, strictly enjoining his son John to maintain with vigor his well-ascertained right to the crown he wore, and leaving his people bowed down beneath a weight "of extortions so heavy that the like had never been seen in the kingdom of France."

Only one happy event distinguished the close of this reign. As early as 1343 Philip had treated, on a monetary basis, with Humbert II., Count and Dauphin of Vienness, for the cession of that beautiful province to the crown of France after the death of the then possessor. Humbert, an adventurous and fantastic prince, plunged, in 1346, into a crusade against the Turks, from which he returned in the following year without having obtained any success. Tired of seeking adventures as well as of reigning, he, on the 16th of July, 1349, before a solemn assembly held at Lyons, abdicated his principality in favor of Prince Charles of France, grandson of Philip of Valois, and afterwards Charles V. The new dauphin took the oath, between the hands of the Bishop of Grenoble, to maintain the liberties, franchises, and privileges of the Dauphiny; and the ex-dauphin, after having taken holy orders and passed successively through the Archbishopric of Rheims and the Bishopric of Paris, both of which he found equally unpalatable, went to die at Clermont in Auvergne, in a convent belonging to the order of Dominicans, whose habit he had donned.

In the same year, on the 18th of April, 1349, Philip of Valois bought of Jayme of Arragon, the last king of Majorca, for one hundred and twenty thousand golden crowns, the lordship and town of Montpellier, thus trying to repair to some extent, for the kingdom of France, the losses he had caused it.

His successor, John II., called the Good, on no other ground than that he was gay, prodigal, credulous, and devoted to his favorites, did nothing but reproduce, with aggravations, the faults and reverses of his father. He had hardly become king when he witnessed the arrival in Paris of the Constable of France, Raoul, Count of Eu and of Guines, whom Edward III. had made prisoner at Caen, and who, after five years' captivity, had just obtained, that is, purchased, his liberty. Raoul lost no time in hurrying to the side of the new king, by whom he believed himself to be greatly beloved. John, as soon as he perceived him, gave him a look, saying, "Count, come this way with me; I have to speak with you aside." "Right willingly, my lord." The king took him into an apartment, and showing him a letter, asked, "Have you ever, count, seen this letter anywhere but here?" The constable appeared astounded and troubled. "Ah! wicked traitor," said the king, "you have well deserved death, and, by my father's soul, it shall assuredly not miss you;" and he sent him forthwith to prison in the tower of the Louvre. "The lords and barons of France were sadly astonished," says Froissart, "for they held the count to be a good man and true, and they humbly prayed the king that he would be pleased to say wherefore he had imprisoned their cousin, so gentle a knight, who had toiled so much and so much lost for him and for the kingdom. But the king would not say anything, save that he would never sleep so long as the Count of Guines was living; and he had him secretly beheaded in the castle of the Louvre, whether rightly or wrongly; for which the king was greatly blamed, behind his back, by many of the barons of high estate in the kingdom of France, and the dukes and counts of the border." Two months after this execution, John gave the office of constable and a large portion of Count Raoul's property to his favorite, Charles of Spain, a descendant of King Alphonso of Castille and naturalized in France; and he added thereto before long some lands claimed by the King of Navarre, Charles the Bad, a nickname which at eighteen years of age he had already received from his Navarrese subjects, but which had not prevented King John from giving him in marriage his own daughter, Joan of France. From that moment a deep hatred sprang up between the King of Navarre and the favorite. The latter was sometimes disquieted thereby. "Fear nought from my son of Navarre," said John; "he durst not vex you, for, if he did, he would have no greater enemy than myself." John did not yet know his son-in-law. Two years later, in 1354, his favorite, Charles of Spain, arrived at Laigle in Normandy. The King of Navarre, having notice thereof, instructed one of his agents, the Bastard de Mareuil, to go with a troop of men-at-arms and surprise him in that town; and he himself remained outside the walls, awaiting the result of his design. At break of day, he saw galloping up the Bastard de Mareuil, who shouted to him from afar, "'Tis done." "What is done?" asked Charles. "He is dead," answered Mareuil. King John's favorite had been surprised and massacred in his bed. John burst out into threats; he swore he would have vengeance, and made preparations for war against his son-in-law. But the King of England promised his support to the King of Navarre. Charles the Bad was a bold and able intriguer; he levied troops and won over allies amongst the lords; dread of seeing the recommencement of a war with England gained ground; and amongst the people, and even in the king's council, there was a cry of "Peace with the King of Navarre!" John took fright and pretended to give up his ideas of vengeance; he received his son-in-law, who thanked him on bended knee. But the king gave him never a word. The King of Navarre, uneasy but bold as ever, continued his intrigues for obtaining partisans and for exciting troubles and enmities against the king. "I will have no master in France but myself," said John to his confidant: "I shall have no joy so long as he is living." His eldest son, the young Duke of Normandy, who was at a later period Charles V., had contracted friendly relations with the King of Navarre. On the 16th of April, 1356, the two princes were together at a banquet in the castle of Rouen, as well as the Count d'Harcourt and some other lords. All on a sudden King John, who had entered the castle by a postern with a troop of men-at-arms, strode abruptly into the hall, preceded by the Marshal Arnoul d'Audenham, who held a naked sword in his hand, and said, "Let none stir, whatever he may see, unless he wish to fall by this sword." The king went up to the table; and all rose as if to do him reverence. John seized the King of Navarre roughly by the arm, and drew him towards him, saying, "Get up, traitor; thou art not worthy to sit at my son's table; by my father's soul I cannot think of meat or drink so long as thou art living." A servant of the King of Navarre, to defend his master, drew his cutlass, and pointed it at the breast of the King of France, who thrust him back, saying to his sergeants, "Take me this fellow and his master too." The King of Navarre dissolved in humble protestations and repentant speeches over the assassination of the Constable Charles of Spain. "Go, traitor, go," answered John: "you will need to learn good rede or some infamous trick to escape from me." The young Duke of Normandy had thrown himself at the feet of the king his father, crying, "Ah! my lord, for God's sake have mercy; you do me dishonor; for what will be said of me, having prayed King Charles and his barons to dine with me, if you do treat me thus? It will be said that I betrayed them." "Hold your peace, Charles," answered his father: "you know not all I know." He gave orders for the instant removal of the King of Navarre, and afterwards of the Count d'Harcourt and three others of those present under arrest. "Rid us of these men," said he to the captain of the Ribalds, forming the soldiers of his guard; and the four prisoners were actually beheaded in the king's presence outside Rouen, in a field called the Field of Pardon. John was with great difficulty prevailed upon not to mete out the same measure to the King of Navarre, who was conducted first of all to Gaillard Castle, then to the tower of the Louvre, and then to the prison of the Chatelet: "and there," says Froissart, "they put him to all sorts of discomforts and fears, for every day and every night they gave him to understand that his head would be cut off at such and such an hour, or at such and such another he would be thrown into the Seine . . . whereupon he spoke so finely and so softly to his keepers that they who were so entreating him by the command of the King of France had great pity on him."

With such violence, such absence of all legal procedure, such a mixture of deceptive indulgence and thoughtless brutality, did King John treat his son-in-law, his own daughter, some of his principal barons, their relations, their friends, and the people with whom they were in good credit. He compromised more and more seriously every day his own safety and that of his successor, by vexing more and more, without destroying, his most dangerous enemy. He showed no greater prudence or ability in the government of his kingdom. Always in want of money, because he spent it foolishly on galas or presents to his favorites, he had recourse, for the purpose of procuring it, at one time to the very worst of all financial expedients, debasement of the coinage; at another, to disreputable imposts, such as the tax upon salt, and upon the sale of all kinds of merchandise. In the single year of 1352 the value of a silver mark varied sixteen times, from four livres ten sous to eighteen livres. To meet the requirements of his government and the greediness of his courtiers, John twice, in 1355 and 1356, convoked the states-general, to the consideration of which we shall soon recur in detail, and which did not refuse him their support; but John had not the wit either to make good use of the powers with which he was furnished, or to inspire the states-general with that confidence which alone could decide them upon continuing their gifts. And, nevertheless, King John's necessities were more evident and more urgent than ever: war with England had begun again.

The truth is that, in spite of the truce still existing, the English, since the accession of King John, had at several points resumed hostilities. The disorders and dissensions to which France was a prey, the presumptuous and hare-brained incapacity of her new king, were, for so ambitious and able a prince as Edward III., very strong temptations. Nor did opportunities for attack, and chances of success, fail him any more than temptations. He found in France, amongst the grandees of the kingdom, and even at the king's court, men disposed to desert the cause of the king and of France to serve a prince who had more capacity, and who pretended to claim the crown of France as his lawful right. The feudal system lent itself to ambiguous questions and doubts of conscience: a lord who had two suzerains, and who, rightly or wrongly, believed that he had cause of complaint against one of them, was justified in serving that one who could and would protect him. Personal interest and subtle disputes soon make traitors; and Edward had the ability to discover them and win them over. The alternate outbursts and weaknesses of John in the case of those whom he suspected; the snares he laid for them; the precipitancy and cruel violence with which he struck them down, without form of trial, and almost with his own hand, forbid history to receive his suspicious and his forcible proceedings as any kind of proof; but amongst those whom he accused there were undoubtedly traitors to the king and to France. There is one about whom there can be no doubt at all. As early as 1351, amidst all his embroilments and all his reconciliations with his father-in-law, Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, had concluded with Edward III. a secret treaty, whereby, in exchange for promises he received, he recognized his title as King of France. In 1355 his treason burst forth. The King of Navarre, who had gone for refuge to Avignon, under the protection of Pope Clement VI., crossed France by English Aquitaine, and went and landed at Cherbourg, which he had an idea of throwing open to the King of England. He once more entered into communications with King John, once more obtained forgiveness from him, and for a while appeared detached from his English alliance. But Edward III. had openly resumed his hostile attitude; and he demanded that Aquitaine and the courtship of Ponthieu, detached from the kingdom of France, should be ceded to him in full sovereignty, and that Brittany should become all but independent. John haughtily rejected these pretensions, which were merely a pretext for recommencing war. And it recommenced accordingly, and the King of Navarre resumed his course of perfidy. He had lands and castles in Normandy, which John put under sequestration, and ordered the officers commanding in them to deliver up to him. Six of them, the commandants of the castles of Cherbourg and Evreux, amongst others, refused, believing, no doubt, that in betraying France and her king, they were remaining faithful to their own lord.

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

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

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

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