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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
The Wars Of Italy. - Charles VIII. 1483-1498.
by Guizot, M.

Louis XI. had by the queen his wife, Charlotte of Savoy, six children; three of them survived him: Charles VIII., his successor; Anne, his eldest daughter, who had espoused Peter of Bourbon, Sire de Beaujeu; and Joan, whom he had married to the Duke of Orleans, who became Louis XII. At their father's death, Charles was thirteen; Anne twenty-two or twenty-three; and Joan nineteen. According to Charles V.'s decree, which had fixed fourteen as the age for the king's majority, Charles VIII., on his accession, was very nearly a major; but Louis XI., with good reason, considered him very far from capable of reigning as yet. On the other hand, he had a very high opinion of his daughter Anne, and it was to her far more than to Sire de Beaujeu, her husband, that, six days before his death, and by his last instructions, he intrusted the guardian-ship of his son, to whom he already gave the title of King, and the government of the realm. They were oral instructions not set forth in or confirmed by any regular testament; but the words of Louis XI. had great weight, even after his death. Opposition to his last wishes was not wanting. Louis, Duke of Orleans, was a natural claimant to the regency; but Anne de Beaujeu, immediately and without consulting anybody, took up the position which had been intrusted to her by her father, and the fact was accepted without ceasing to be questioned. Louis XI. had not been mistaken in his choice; there was none more fitted than his daughter Anne to continue his policy under the reign and in the name of his successor; "a shrewd and clever woman, if ever there was one," says Brantome, "and the true image in everything of King Louis, her father."

She began by acts of intelligent discretion. She tried, not to subdue by force the rivals and malcontents, but to put them in the wrong in the eyes of the public, and to cause embarrassment to themselves by treating them with fearless favor. Her brother-in-law, the Duke of Bourbon, was vexed at being only in appearance and name the head of his own house; and she made him constable of France and lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The friends of Duke Louis of Orleans, amongst others his chief confidant, George of Amboise, Bishop of Montauban, and Count Dunois, son of Charles VII.'s hero, persistently supported the duke's rights to the regency; and Madame (the title Anne de Beaujeu had assumed) made Duke Louis governor of Ile-de-France and of Champagne, and sent Dunois as governor to Dauphiny. She kept those of Louis XI.'s advisers for whom the public had not conceived a perfect hatred like that felt for their master; and Commynes alone was set aside, as having received from the late king too many personal favors, and as having too much inclination towards independent criticism of the new regency. Two of Louis XI.'s subordinate and detested servants, Oliver de Daim and John Doyac, were prosecuted, and one was hanged and the other banished; and his doctor, James Cattier, was condemned to disgorge fifty thousand crowns out of the enormous presents he had received from his patient. At the same time that she thus gave some satisfaction to the cravings of popular wrath, Anne de Beaujeu threw open the prisons, recalled exiles, forgave the people a quarter of the talliage, cut down expenses by dismissing six thousand Swiss whom the late king had taken into his pay, re-established some sort of order in the administration of the domains of the crown, and, in fine, whether in general measures or in respect of persons, displayed impartiality without paying court, and firmness without using severity. Here was, in fact, a young and gracious woman who gloried solely in signing herself simply Anne of France, whilst respectfully following out the policy of her father, a veteran king, able, mistrustful, and pitiless.

Anne's discretion was soon put to a great trial. A general cry was raised for the convocation of the states-general. The ambitious hoped thus to open a road to power; the public looked forward to it for a return to legalized government. No doubt Anne would have preferred to remain more free and less responsible in the exercise of her authority; for it was still very far from the time when national assemblies could be considered as a permanent power and a regular means of government. But Anne and her advisers did not waver; they were too wise and too weak to oppose a great public wish. The states-general were convoked at Tours for the 5th of January, 1484. On the 15th they met in the great hall of the arch-bishop's palace. Around the king's throne sat two hundred and fifty deputies, whom the successive arrivals of absentees raised to two hundred and eighty-four. "France in all its entirety," says M. Picot, "found itself, for the first time, represented; Flanders alone sent no deputies until the end of the session; but Provence, Roussillon, Burgundy, and Dauphiny were eager to join their commissioners to the delegates from the provinces united from the oldest times to the crown." [Histoire des Etats Generaux from 1355 to 1614, by George Picot, t. i. p. 360.]

We have the journal of these states-general drawn up with precision and detail by one of the chief actors, John Masselin, canon of and deputy for Rouen, "an eminent speaker," says a contemporary Norman chronicle, "who delivered on behalf of the common weal, in the presence of kings and princes, speeches full of elegance." We may agree that, compared with the pompous pedantry of most speakers of his day, the oratorical style of John Masselin is not without a certain elegance, but that is not his great and his original distinction; what marks him out and gives him so high a place in the history of the fifteenth century, is the judicious and firm political spirit displayed in his conduct as deputy and in his narrative as historian. [The Journal, written by the author in Latin, was translated into French and published, original and translation, by M. A. Bernier, in 1835, in the Collection des Documents inedits relatifs d l'Histoire de France.] And it is not John Masselin only, but the very assembly itself in which he sat, that appears to us, at the end of five centuries, seriously moved by a desire for a free government, and not far from comprehending and following out the essential conditions of it. France had no lack of states-general, full of brilliancy and power, between 1356 and 1789, from the reign of Charles V. to that of Louis XVI.; but in the majority of these assemblies, for all the ambitious soarings of liberty, it was at one time religious party-spirit and at another the spirit of revolution that ruled and determined both acts and events. Nothing of that kind appeared in the states-general assembled at Tours in 1484; the assembly was profoundly monarchical, not only on general principles, but in respect of the reigning house and the young king seated on the throne. There was no fierce struggle, either, between the aristocracy and the democracy of the day, between the ecclesiastical body and the secular body; although widely differing and widely separated, the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate were not at war, even in their hearts, between themselves. One and the same idea, one and the same desire, animated the three orders; to such a degree that, as has been well pointed out by M. Picot, "in the majority of the towns they proceeded in common to the choice of deputies: the clergy, nobles, and commons who arrived at Tours were not the representatives exclusively of the clergy, the nobles, or the third estate: they combined in their persons a triple commission;" and when, after having examined together their different memorials, by the agency of a committee of thirty-six members taken in equal numbers from the three orders, they came to a conclusion to bring their grievances and their wishes before the government of Charles VIII., they decided that a single spokesman should be commissioned to sum up, in a speech delivered in solemn session, the report of the committee of Thirty-six; and it was the canon, Master John Masselin, who received the commission to speak in the name of all. They all had at heart one and the same idea; they desired to turn the old and undisputed monarchy into a legalized and free government. Clergy, nobles, and third estate, there was not in any of their minds any revolutionary yearning or any thought of social war. It is the peculiar and the beautiful characteristic of the states-general of 1484 that they had an eye to nothing but a great political reform, a regimen of legality and freedom.

Two men, one a Norman and the other a Burgundian, the canon John Masselin and Philip Pot, lord of la Roche, a former counsellor of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, were the exponents of this political spirit, at once bold and prudent, conservative and reformative. The nation's sovereignty and the right of the estates not only to vote imposts but to exercise a real influence over the choice and conduct of the officers of the crown, this was what they affirmed in principle, and what, in fact, they labored to get established. "I should like," said Philip de la Roche, "to see you quite convinced that the government of the state is the people's affair; and by the people I mean not only the multitude of those who are simply subjects of this crown, but indeed all persons of each estate, including the princes also. Since you consider yourselves deputies from all the estates of the kingdom, why are you afraid to conclude that you have been especially summoned to direct by your counsels the commonwealth during its quasi-interregnum caused by the king's minority? Far be it from me to say that the reigning, properly so called, the dominion, in fact, passes into any hands but those of the king; it is only the administration, the guardianship of the kingdom, which is conferred for a time upon the people or their elect. Why tremble at the idea of taking in hand the regulation, arrangement, and nomination of the council of the crown? You are here to say and to advise freely that which, by inspiration of God and your conscience, you believe to be useful for the realm. What is the obstacle that prevents you from accomplishing so excellent and meritorious a work? I can find none, unless it be your own weakness and the pusillanimity which causes fear in your minds. Come, then, most illustrious lords, have great confidence in yourselves, have great hopes, have great manly virtue, and let not this liberty of the estates, that your ancestors were so zealous in defending, be imperilled by reason of your soft-heartedness." "This speech," says Masselin, "was listened to by the whole assembly very attentively and very favorably." Masselin, being called upon to give the king "in his privy chamber, before the Dukes of Orleans and Lorraine and a numerous company of nobles," an exact account of the estates' first deliberations, held in his turn language more reserved than, but similar to, that of Lord Philip de la Roche, whose views he shared and whose proud openness he admired. The question touching the composition of the king's council and the part to be taken in it by the estates was for five weeks the absorbing idea with the government and with the assembly. There were made, on both sides, concessions which satisfied neither the estates nor the court, for their object was always on the part of the estates to exercise a real influence on the government, and on the part of the court to escape being under any real influence of the estates. Side by side with the question of the king's council was ranged that of the imposts; and here it was no easier to effect an understanding: the crown asked more than the estates thought they ought or were able to vote; and, after a long and obscure controversy about expenses and receipts, Masselin was again commissioned to set-before the king's council the views of the assembly and its ultimate resolution. "When we saw," said he, "that the aforesaid accounts or estimates contained elements of extreme difficulty, and that to balance and verify them would subject us to interminable discussions and longer labor than would be to our and the people's advantage, we hastened to adopt by way of expedient, but nevertheless resolutely, the decision I am about to declare to you. . . . Wishing to meet liberally the king's and your desires, we offer to pay the sum that King Charles VII. used to take for the impost of talliages, provided, however, that this sum be equally and proportionately distributed between the provinces of the kingdom, and that in the shape of an aid. And this contribution be only for two years, after which the estates shall be assembled as they are to-day to discuss the public needs; and if at that time or previously they see the advantage thereof, the said sum shall be diminished or augmented. Further, the said my lords the deputies do demand that their next meeting be now appointed and declared, and that an irrevocable decision do fix and decree that assembly."

This was providing at one and the same time for the wants of the present and the rights of the future. The impost of talliage was, indeed, voted just as it had stood under Charles VII., but it became a temporary aid granted for two years only; at the end of them the estates were to be convoked and the tax augmented or diminished according to the public wants. The great question appeared decided; by means of the vote, necessary and at the same time temporary, in the case of the impost, the states-general entered into real possession of a decisive influence in the government; but the behavior and language of the officers of the crown and of the great lords of the court rendered the situation as difficult as ever. In a long and confused harangue the chancellor, William de Rochefort, did not confine himself to declaring the sum voted, twelve hundred thousand livres, to be insufficient, and demanding three hundred thousand livres more; he passed over in complete silence the limitation to two years of the tax voted and the requirement that at the end of that time the states-general should be convoked. "Whilst the chancellor was thus speaking," says Masselin, "many deputies of a more independent spirit kept groaning, and all the hall resounded with a slight murmuring because it seemed that he was not expressing himself well as to the power and liberty of the people." The deputies asked leave to deliberate in the afternoon, promising a speedy answer. "As you wish to deliberate, do so, but briefly," said the chancellor; "it would be better for you to hold counsel now so as to answer in the afternoon." The deputies took their time; and the discussion was a long and a hot one. "We see quite well how it is," said the princes and the majority of the great lords; "to curtail the king's power, and pare down his nails to the quick, is the object of your efforts; you forbid the subjects to pay their prince as much as the wants of the state require: are they masters, pray, and no longer subjects? You would set up the laws of some fanciful monarchy, and abolish the old ones." "I know the rascals," said one of the great lords [according to one historian, it was the Duke of Bourbon, Anne de Beaujeu's brother-in-law]; "if they are not kept down by over-weighting them, they will soon become insolent; for my part, I consider this tax the surest curb for holding them in." "Strange words," says Masselin, "unworthy of utterance from the mouth of a man so eminent; but in his soul, as in that of all old men, covetousness had increased with age, and he appeared to fear a diminution of his pension."

After having deliberated upon it, the states-general persisted in their vote of a tax of twelve hundred thousand livres, at which figure it had stood under King Charles VII., but for two years only, and as a gift or grant, not as a permanent talliage any more, and on condition that at the end of that time the states should be necessarily convoked. At the same time, however, "and over and above this, the said estates, who do desire the well-being, honor, prosperity, and augmentation of the lord king and of his kingdom, and in order to obey him and please him in all ways possible, do grant him the sum of three hundred thousand livres of Tours, for this once only, and without being a precedent, on account of his late joyful accession to the throne of France, and for to aid and support the outlay which it is suitable to make for his holy consecration, coronation, and entry into Paris."

On this fresh vote, full of fidelity to the monarchy and at the same time of patriotic independence, negotiations began between the estates and the court; and they lasted from the 28th of February to the 12th of March, but without result. At bottom, the question lay between absolute power and free government, between arbitrariness and legality; and, on this field, both parties were determined not to accept a serious and final defeat. Unmoved by the loyal concessions and assurances they received, the advisers of the crown thought no longer of anything but getting speedily rid of the presence of the estates, so as to be free from the trouble of maintaining the discussion with them. The deputies saw through the device; their speeches were stifled, and the necessity of replying was eluded. "My lord chancellor," said they, at an interview on the 2d of March, 1484, "if we are not to have a hearing, why are we here? Why have you summoned us? Let us withdraw. If you behave thus, you do not require our presence. We did not at all expect to see the fruits of our vigils, and the decisions adopted after so much trouble by so illustrious an assembly rejected so carelessly." The complaints were not always so temperate. A theologian, whom Masselin quotes without giving his name, "a bold and fiery partisan of the people," says he, added these almost insulting words: "As soon as our consent had been obtained for raising the money, there is no doubt but that we have been cajoled, that everything has been treated with contempt, the demands set down in our memorials, our final resolutions, and the limits we fixed. Speak we of the money. On this point, our decisions have been conformed to only so far as to tell us, 'This impost shall no longer be called talliage; it shall be a free grant.' Is it in words, pray, and not in things, that our labor and the well-being of the state consist? Verily, we would rather still call this impost talliage, and even blackmail (maltote), or give it a still viler name, if there be any, than see it increasing immeasurably and crushing the people. The curse of God and the execration of men upon those whose deeds and plots have caused such woes! They are the most dangerous foes of the people and of the commonwealth." "The theologian burned with a desire to continue," adds Masselin; "but though he had not wandered far from the truth, many deputies chid him and constrained him to be silent. . . . Already lethargy had fallen upon the most notable amongst us; glutted with favors and promises, they no longer possessed that ardor of will which had animated them at first; when we were prosecuting our business, they remained motionless at home; when we spoke before them, they held their peace or added but a few feeble words. We were wasting our time."

On the 12th of March, 1484, the deputies from Normandy, twenty-five in number, happened to hold a meeting at Montils-les-Tours. The Bishop of Coutances told them that there was no occasion for the estates to hold any more meetings; that it would be enough if each of the six sections appointed three or four delegates to follow the course of affairs; and that, moreover, the compensation granted to all the deputies of the estates would cease on the 14th of March, and after that would be granted only to their delegates. This compensation had already, amongst the estates, been the subject of a long discussion. The clergy and the nobility had attempted to throw the whole burden of it upon the third estate; the third estate had very properly claimed that each of the three orders should, share proportionately in this expense, and the chancellor had with some difficulty got it decided that the matter should stand so. On the 14th of March, accordingly, the six sections of the estates met and elected three or four deputies apiece. The deputies were a little surprised, on entering their sessions-hall, to find it completely dismantled: carpets, hangings, benches, table, all had been removed, so certainly did the government consider the session over. Some members, in disgust, thought and maintained that the estates ought not to separate without carrying away with them the resolutions set down in their general memorial, formally approved and accompanied by an order to the judges to have them executed. "But a much larger number," says Masselin, "were afraid of remaining too long, and many of our colleagues, in spite of the zeal which they had once shown, had a burning desire to depart, according to the princes' good pleasure and orders. As for us, we enjoined upon the three deputies of our Norman nationality not to devote themselves solely to certain special affairs which had not yet been terminated, but to use redoubled care and diligence in all that concerned the general memorial and the aggregate of the estates. And having thus left our commissioners at Tours and put matters to rights, we went away well content; and we pray God that our labors and all that has been done may be useful for the people's welfare."

Neither Masselin nor his descendants for more than three centuries were destined to see the labors of the states-general of 1484 obtain substantial and durable results. The work they had conceived and attempted was premature. The establishment of a free government demands either spontaneous and simple virtues, such as may be found in a young and small community, or the lights, the scientific method, and the wisdom, painfully acquired and still so imperfect, of great and civilized nations. France of the fifteenth century was in neither of these conditions. But it is a crown of glory to have felt that honest and patriotic ambition which animated Masselin and his friends at their exodus from the corrupt and corrupting despotism of Louis XI. Who would dare to say that their attempt, vain as it was for them, was so also for generations separated from them by centuries? Time and space are as nothing in the mysterious development of God's designs towards men, and it is the privilege of mankind to get instruction and example from far-off memories of their own history. It was a duty to render to the states-general of 1484 the homage to which they have a right by reason of their intentions and their efforts on behalf of the good cause and in spite of their unsuccess.

When the states-general had separated, Anne de Beaujeu, without difficulty or uproar, resumed, as she had assumed on her father's death, the government of France; and she kept it yet for seven years, from 1484 to 1491. During all this time she had a rival and foe in Louis, Duke of Orleans, who was one day to be Louis XII. "I have heard tell," says Brantome, "how that, at the first, she showed affection towards him, nay, even love; in such sort that, if M. d'Orleans had been minded to give heed thereto, he might have done well, as I know from a good source; but he could not bring himself to it; especially as he found her too ambitious, and he would that she should be dependent on him, as premier prince and nearest to the throne, and not he on her; whereas she desired the contrary, for she was minded to have the high place and rule everything. . . . They used to have," adds Brantome, "prickings of jealousy, love, and ambition." If Brantome's anecdote is true, as one is inclined to believe, though several historians have cast doubts upon it, Anne de Beaujeu had, in their prickings of jealousy, love, and ambition, a great advantage over Louis of Orleans. They were both young, and exactly of the same age; but Louis had all the defects of youth, whilst Anne had all the qualities of mature age. He was handsome, volatile, inconsiderate, impudent, brave, and of a generous, open nature, combined with kindliness; she was thoughtful, judicious, persistent, and probably a little cold and hard, such, in fact, as she must needs have become in the school of her father, Louis XI. As soon as the struggle between them began, the diversity of their characters appeared and bore fruit. The Duke of Orleans plunged into all sorts of intrigues and ventures against the fair regent, exciting civil war, and, when he was too much compromised or too hard pressed, withdrawing to the court of Francis II., Duke of Brittany, an unruly vassal of the King of France. Louis of Orleans even made alliance, at need, with foreign princes, Henry VII., King of England, Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Arragon, and Maximilian, archduke of Austria, without much regard for the interests of his own kingly house and his own country. Anne, on the contrary, in possession of official and legal authority, wielded it and guarded it with prudence and moderation in the interests of France and of the crown, never taking the initiative in war, but having the wit to foresee, maintain, and, after victory, end it. She encountered from time to time, at her own court and in her own immediate circle, a serious difficulty: the young king, Charles, was charmed by the Duke of Orleans's brilliant qualities, especially by the skill and bravery that Louis displayed at tournaments. One day, interrupting the Bishop of Montauban, George of Amboise, who was reading the breviary to him, "Send word to the Duke of Orleans," said the king, "to go on with his enterprise, and that I would fain be with him." Another day he said to Count Dunois, "Do take me away, uncle: I'm longing to be out of this company." Dunois and George of Amboise, both of them partisans of the Duke of Orleans, carefully encouraged the king in sentiments so favorable to the fair regent's rival. Incidents of another sort occurred to still further embarrass the position for Anne de Beaujeu. The eldest daughter of Francis II., Duke of Brittany, herself also named Anne, would inherit his duchy, and on this ground she was ardently wooed by many competitors. She was born in 1477; and at four years of age, in 1481, she had been promised in marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Edward IV., King of England. But two years afterwards, in 1483, this young prince was murdered, or, according to other accounts, imprisoned by his uncle Richard III., who seized the crown; and the Breton promise vanished with him. The number of claimants to the hand of Anne of Brittany increased rapidly; and the policy of the duke her father consisted, it was said, in making for himself five or six sons-in-law by means of one daughter. Towards the end of 1484, the Duke of Orleans, having embroiled himself with Anne de Beaujeu, sought refuge in Brittany; and many historians have said that he not only at that time aspired to the hand of Anne of Brittany, but that he paid her assiduous court and obtained from her marks of tender interest. Count Darn, in his Histoire de Bretagne (t. iii. p. 82), has put the falsehood of this assertion beyond a doubt; the Breton princess was then only seven and the Duke of Orleans had been eight years married to Joan of France, younger daughter of Louis XI. But in succeeding years and amidst the continual alternations of war and negotiation between the King of France and the Duke of Brittany, Anne de Beaujeu and the Duke of Orleans, competition and strife between the various claimants to the hand of Anne of Brittany became very active; Alan, Sire d'Albret, called the Great because of his reputation for being the richest lord of the realm, Viscount James de Rohan, and Archduke Maximilian of Austria, all three believed themselves to have hopes of success, and prosecuted them assiduously. Sire d'Albret, a widower and the father of eight children already, was forty-five, with a pimply face, a hard eye, a hoarse voice, and a quarrelsome and gloomy temper; and Anne, being pressed to answer his suit, finally declared that she would turn nun rather than marry him. James de Rohan, in spite of his powerful backers at the court of Rennes, was likewise dismissed; his father, Viscount John II., was in the service of the King of France. Archduke Maximilian remained the only claimant with any pretensions. He was nine and twenty, of gigantic stature, justly renowned for valor and ability in war, and of more literary culture than any of the princes his contemporaries, a trait he had in common with Princess Anne, whose education had been very carefully attended to. She showed herself to be favorably disposed towards him; and the Duke of Orleans, whose name, married though he was, was still sometimes associated with that of the Breton princess, formally declared, on the 26th of January, 1486, that, "when he came to the Duke of Brittany's, it was solely to visit him and advise him on certain points touching the defence of his duchy, and not to talk to him of marriage with the princesses his daughters." But, whilst the negotiation was thus inclining towards the Austrian prince, Anne de Beaujeu, ever far-sighted and energetic, was vigorously pushing on the war against the Duke of Brittany and his allies. She had found in Louis de la Tremoille an able and a bold warrior, whom Guicciardini calls the greatest captain in the world. In July, 1488, he came suddenly down upon Brittany, took one after the other Chateaubriant, Ancenis, and Fougeres, and, on the 28th, gained at St. Aubin-du-Cormier, near Rennes, over the army of the Duke of Brittany and his English, German, and Gascon allies, a victory which decided the campaign: six thousand of the Breton army were killed, and Duke Louis of Orleans, the Prince of Orange, and several French lords, his friends, were made prisoners. On receiving at Angers the news of this victory, Charles VIII. gave orders that the two captive princes should be brought to him; but Anne de Beaujeu, fearing some ebullition on his part of a too prompt and too gratuitous generosity, caused delay in their arrival; and the Duke of Orleans, who was taken first to the castle of Sable and then to Lusignan, went ultimately to the Tower of Bourges, where he was to await the king's decision.

It was a great success for Anne de Beaujeu. She had beaten her united foes; and the most formidable of them all, the Duke of Orleans, was her prisoner. Two incidents that supervened, one a little before and the other a little after the battle of St. Aubin-du-Cormier, occurred to both embarrass the position and at the same time call forth all the energy of Anne. Her brother-in-law, Duke John of Bourbon, the head of his house, died on the 1st of April, 1488, leaving to his younger brother, Peter, his title and domains. Having thus become Duchess of Bourbon, and being well content with this elevation in rank and fortune, Madame the Great (as Anne de Beaujeu was popularly called) was somewhat less eagerly occupied with the business of the realm, was less constant at the king's council, and went occasionally with her husband to stay a while in their own territories. Charles VIII., moreover, having nearly arrived at man's estate, made more frequent manifestations of his own personal will; and Anne, clear-sighted and discreet though ambitious, was little by little changing her dominion into influence. But some weeks after the battle of St. Aubin-du-Cormier, on the 7th or 9th of September, 1488, the death of Francis II., Duke of Brittany, rendered the active intervention of the Duchess of Bourbon natural and necessary; for he left his daughter, the Princess Anne, barely eighteen years old, exposed to all the difficulties attendant upon the government of her inheritance, and to all the intrigues of the claimants to her hand. In the summer of 1489, Charles VIII. and his advisers learned that the Count of Nassau, having arrived in Brittany with the proxy of Archduke Maximilian, had by a mock ceremony espoused the Breton princess in his master's name. This strange mode of celebration could not give the marriage a real and indissoluble character; but the concern in the court of France was profound. In Brittany there was no mystery any longer made about the young duchess's engagement; she already took the title of Queen of the Romans. Charles VIII. loudly protested against this pretended marriage; and to give still more weight to his protest he sent to Henry VII., King of England, who was much mixed up with the affairs of Brittany, ambassadors charged to explain to him the right which France had to oppose the marriage of the young Duchess with Archduke Maximilian, at the same time taking care not to give occasion for thinking that Charles had any views on his own account in that quarter. "The king my master," said the ambassador, "doth propose to assert by arms his plain rights over the kingdom of Naples, now occupied by some usurper or other, a bastard of the house of Arragon. He doth consider, moreover, the conquest of Naples only as a bridge thrown down before him for to take him into Greece; there he is resolved to lavish his blood and his treasure, though he should have to pawn his crown and drain his kingdom, for to overthrow the tyranny of the Ottomans, and open to himself in this way the kingdom of Heaven." The King of England gave a somewhat ironical reply to this chivalrous address, merely asking whether the King of France would consent not to dispose of the heiress of Brittany's hand, save on the condition of not marrying her himself. The ambassadors shuffled out of the question by saying that their master was so far from any such idea, that it had not been foreseen in their instructions.

Whether it had or had not been foreseen and meditated upon, so soon as the reunion of Brittany with France by the marriage of the young duchess, Anne, with King Charles VIII. appeared on the horizon as a possible, and, peradventure, probable fact, it became the common desire, aim, and labor of all the French politicians who up to that time had been opposed, persecuted, and proscribed. Since the battle of St. Aubin-du-Cormier, Duke Louis of Orleans had been a prisoner in the Tower of Bourges, and so strictly guarded that he was confined at night in an iron cage like Cardinal Balue's for fear he should escape. In vain had his wife, Joan of France, an unhappy and virtuous princess, ugly and deformed, who had never been able to gain her husband's affections, implored her all-powerful sister, Anne of Bourbon, to set him at liberty: "As I am incessantly thinking," she wrote to her, "about my husband's release, I have conceived the idea of setting down in writing the fashion in which peace might be had, and my said husband be released. I am writing it out for the king, and you will see it all. I pray you, sister, to look to it that I may get a few words in answer; it has been a very sad thing for me that I never see you now." There is no trace of any answer from Anne to her sister. Charles VIII. had a heart more easily touched. When Joan, in mourning, came and threw herself at his feet, saying, "Brother, my husband is dragging on his life in prison; and I am in such trouble that I know not what I ought to say in his defence. If he has had aught wherewith to reproach himself, I am the only one whom he has outraged. Pardon him, brother; you will never have so happy a chance of being generous." "You shall have him, sister," said Charles, kissing her; "grant Heaven that you may not repent one day of that which you are doing for him to-day!" Some days after this interview, in May, 1491, Charles, without saying anything about it to the duchess, Anne of Bourbon, set off one evening from Plessis du Pare on pretence of going a-hunting, and on reaching Berry sent for the Duke of Orleans from the Tower of Bourges. Louis, in raptures at breathing the air of freedom, at the farthest glimpse he caught of the king, leaped down from his horse and knelt, weeping, on the ground. "Charles," says the chronicler, "sprang upon his neck, and knew not what cheer (reception) to give him, to make it understood that he was acting of his own motion and free will." Charles ill understood his sister Anne, and could scarcely make her out. But two convictions had found their way into that straightforward and steady mind of hers; one, that a favorable time had arrived for uniting Brittany with France, and must be seized; the other, that the period of her personal dominion was over, and that all she had to do was to get herself well established in her new position. She wrote to the king her brother to warn him against the accusations and wicked rumors of which she might possibly be the object. He replied to her on the 21st of June, 1491: "My good sister, my dear, Louis de Pesclins has informed me that you have knowledge that certain matters have been reported to me against you; whereupon I answered him that nought of the kind had been reported to me; and I assure you that none would dare so to speak to me; for, in whatsoever fashion it might, I would not put faith therein, as I hope to tell you when we are together,—bidding you adieu, my good sister, my dear." After having re-assured his sister, Charles set about reconciling her, as well as her husband, the Duke of Bourbon, with her brother-in-law, the Duke of Orleans. Louis, who was of a frank and by no means rancorous disposition, as he himself said and proved at a later period, submitted with a good grace; and on the 4th of September, 1491, at La Fleche, the princes jointly made oath, by their baptism and with their hands on the book of the Gospels, "to hold one another once more in perpetual affection, and to forget all old rancor, hatred, and ill will, for to well and loyally serve King Charles, guard his person and authority, and help him to comfort the people, and set in order his household and his kingdom." Councillors and servants were included in this reconciliation of the masters; and Philip de Commynes and the Bishop of Montauban, ere long Archbishop of Rouen, Governor of Normandy, and Cardinal d'Amboise, went out of disgrace, took their places again in the king's councils, and set themselves loyally to the work of accomplishing that union between Charles VIII. and Anne of Brittany, whereby France was to achieve the pacific conquest of Brittany.

Pacific as it was, this conquest cost some pains, and gave some trouble. In person Charles VIII. was far from charming; he was short and badly built; he had an enormous head; great, blank-looking eyes; an aquiline nose, bigger and thicker than was becoming; thick lips, too, and everlastingly open; nervous twitchings, disagreeable to see; and slow speech. "In my judgment," adds the ambassador from Venice, Zachary Contarini, who had come to Paris in May, 1492, "I should hold that, body and mind, he is not worth much; however, they all sing his praises in Paris as a right lusty gallant at playing of tennis, and at hunting, and at jousting, exercises to the which, in season and out of season, he doth devote a great deal of time." The same ambassador says of Anne of Brittany, who had then been for four months Queen of France, "The queen is short also, thin, lame of one foot, and perceptibly so, though she does what she can for herself by means of boots with high heels, a brunette and very pretty in the face, and, for her age, very knowing; in such sort that what she has once taken into her head she will obtain somehow or other, whether it be smiles or tears that be needed for it." —[La Diplomatic Venitienne au Seizieme Siecle, by M. Armand Baschet, p. 325 (Paris, 1862).] Knowing as she was, Anne was at the same time proud and headstrong; she had a cultivated mind; she was fond of the arts, of poetry, and of ancient literature; she knew Latin, and even a little Greek; and having been united, though by proxy and at a distance, to a prince whom she had never seen, but whom she knew to be tall, well made, and a friend to the sciences, she revolted at the idea of giving him up for a prince without beauty, and to such an extent without education, that, it is said, Charles VIII., when he ascended the throne, was unable to read. When he was spoken of to the young princess, "I am engaged in the bonds of matrimony to Archduke Maximilian," said Anne: "and the King of France, on his side, is affianced to the Princess Marguerite of Austria; we are not free, either of us." She went so far as to say that she would set out and go and join Maximilian. Her advisers, who had nearly all of them become advocates of the French marriage, did their best to combat this obstinacy on the part of their princess, and they proposed to her other marriages. Anne answered, "I will marry none but a king or a king's son." Whilst the question was thus being disputed at the little court of Rennes, the army of Charles VIII. was pressing the city more closely every day. Parleys took place between the leaders of the two hosts; and the Duke of Orleans made his way into Rennes, had an interview with the Duchess Anne, and succeeded in shaking her in her refusal of any French marriage. "Many maintain," says Count Philip de Segur [Histoire de Charles VIII, t. i. p. 217], "that Charles VIII. himself entered alone and without escort into the town he was besieging, had a conversation with the young duchess, and left to her the decision of their common fate, declaring to her that she was free and he her captive; that all roads would be open to her to go to England or to Germany; and that, for himself, he would go to Touraine to await the decision whereon depended, together with the happiness of his own future, that of all the kingdom." Whatever may be the truth about these chivalrous traditions, there was concluded on the 15th of September, 1491, a treaty whereby the two parties submitted themselves for an examination of all questions that concerned them to twenty-four commissioners, taken half and half from the two hosts; and, in order to give the preconcerted resolution an appearance of mutual liberty, authority was given to the young Duchess Anne to go, if she pleased, and join Maximilian in Germany. Charles VIII., accompanied by a hundred men-at-arms and fifty archers of his guard, again entered Rennes; and three days afterwards the King of France and the Duchess of Brittany were secretly affianced in the chapel of Notre-Dame. The Duke of Orleans, the Duchess of Bourbon, the Prince of Orange, Count Dunois, and some Breton lords, were the sole witnesses of the ceremony. Next day Charles VIII. left Rennes and repaired to the castle of Langeais in Touraine. There the Duchess Anne joined him a fortnight afterwards. The young Princess Marguerite of Austria, who had for eight years been under guardianship and education at Amboise as the future wife of the King of France, was removed from France and taken back into Flanders to her father, Archduke Maximilian, with all the external honors that could alleviate such an insult. On the 13th of December, 1491, the contract of marriage between Charles VIII. and Anne of Brittany was drawn up in the great hall of the castle of Langeais, in two drafts, one in French and the other in Breton. The Bishop of Alby celebrated the nuptial ceremony. By that deed, "if my Lady Anne were to die before King Charles, and his children, issue of their marriage, she ceded and transferred irrevocably to him and his successors, kings of France, all her rights to the duchy of Brittany. King Charles ceded in like manner to my Lady Anne his rights to the possession of the said duchy, if he were to die before her with-out children born of their marriage. My Lady Anne could not, in case of widowhood, contract a second marriage save with the future king, if it were his pleasure and were possible, or with other near and presumptive future successor to the throne, who should be bound to make to the king regnant, on account of the said duchy, the same acknowledgments that the predecessors of the said Lady Anne had made." On the 7th of February, 1492, Anne was crowned at St. Denis; and next day, the 8th of February, she made her entry in state into Paris, amidst the joyful and earnest acclamations of the public. A sensible and a legitimate joy: for the reunion of Brittany to France was the consolidation of the peace which, in this same century, on the 17th of September, 1453, had put an end to the Hundred Years' War between France and England, and was the greatest act that remained to be accomplished to insure the definitive victory and the territorial constitution of French nationality.

Charles VIII. was pleased with and proud of himself. He had achieved a brilliant and a difficult marriage. In Europe, and within his own household, he had made a display of power and independence. In order to espouse Anne of Brittany, he had sent back Marguerite of Austria to her father. He had gone in person and withdrawn from prison his cousin Louis of Orleans, whom his sister, Anne de Beaujeu, had put there; and so far from having got embroiled with her, he saw all the royal family reconciled around him. This was no little success for a young prince of twenty-one. He thereupon devoted himself with ardor and confidence to his desire of winning back the kingdom of Naples, which Alphonso I., King of Arragon, had wrested from the house of France, and of thereby re-opening for himself in the East, and against Islamry, that career of Christian glory which had made a saint of his ancestor, Louis IX. Mediocre men are not safe from the great dreams which have more than once seduced and ruined the greatest men. The very mediocre son of Louis XI., on renouncing his father's prudent and by no means chivalrous policy, had no chance of becoming a great warrior and a saint; but not the less did he take the initiative as to those wars in Italy which were to be so costly to his successors and to France. By two treaties concluded in 1493 [one at Barcelona on the 19th of January and the other at Senlis on the 23d of May], he gave up Roussillon and Cerdagne to Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Arragon, and Franche-Comte, Artois, and Charolais to the house of Austria, and, after having at such a lamentable price purchased freedom of movement, he went and took up his quarters at Lyons to prepare for his Neapolitan venture.

In his council he found loyal and able opponents. "On the undertaking of this trip," says Philip de Commynes, one of those present, "there was many a discussion, for it seemed to all folks of wisdom and experience very dangerous . . . all things necessary for so great a purpose were wanting; the king was very young, a poor creature, wilful and with but a small attendance of wise folk and good leaders; no ready money; neither tents, nor pavilions for wintering in Lombardy. One thing good they had: a lusty company full of young men of family, but little under control." The chiefest warrior of France at this time, Philip de Crevecoeur, Marshal d'Esquerdes, threw into the opposition the weight of his age and of his recognized ability. "The greatness and tranquillity of the realm," said he, "depend on possession of the Low Countries; that is the direction in which we must use all our exertions rather than against a state, the possession of which, so far from being advantageous to us, could not but weaken us." "Unhappily," says the latest, learned historian of Charles VIII. [Histoire de Charles VIII., by the late M. de Cherrier, t. i. p. 393], "the veteran marshal died on the 22d of April, 1494, in a small town some few leagues from Lyons, and thenceforth all hope of checking the current became visionary. . . . On the 8th of September, 1494, Charles VIII. started from Grenoble, crossed Mount Genevre, and went and slept at Oulx, which was territory of Piedmont. In the evening a peasant who was accused of being a master of Vaudery [i.e. one of the Vaudois, a small population of reformers in the Alps, between Piedmont and Dauphiny] was brought before him; the king gave him audience, and then handed him over to the provost, who had him hanged on a tree." By such an act of severity, perpetrated in a foreign country and on the person of one who was not his own subject, did Charles VIII. distinguish his first entry into Italy.

It were out of place to follow out here in all its details a war which belongs to the history of Italy far more than to that of France; it will suffice to point out with precision the positions of the principal Italian states at this period, and the different shares of influence they exercised on the fate of the French expedition.

Six principal states, Piedmont, the kingdom of the Dukes of Savoy; the duchy of Milan; the republic of Venice; the republic of Florence; Rome and the pope; and the kingdom of Naples, co-existed in Italy at the end of the fifteenth century. In August, 1494, when Charles VIII. started from Lyons on his Italian expedition, Piedmout was governed by Blanche of Montferrat, widow of Charles the 'Warrior,' Duke of Savoy, in the name of her son Charles John Amadeo, a child only six years old. In the duchy of Milan the power was in the hands of Ludovic Sforza, called the Moor, who, being ambitious, faithless, lawless, unscrupulous, employed it in banishing to Pavia the lawful duke, his own nephew, John Galeas Mario Sforza, of whom the Florentine ambassador said to Ludovic himself, "This young man seems to me a good young man and animated by good sentiments, but very deficient in wits." He was destined to die ere long, probably by poison. The republic of Venice had at this period for its doge Augustin Barbarigo; and it was to the council of Ten that in respect of foreign affairs as well as of the home department the power really belonged. Peter de' Medici, son of Lorenzo de' Medici, the father of the Muses, was feebly and stupidly, though with all the airs and pretensions of a despot, governing the republic of Florence.

Rome had for pope Alexander VI. (Poderigo Borgia), a prince who was covetous, licentious, and brazen-facedly fickle and disloyal in his policy, and who would be regarded as one of the most utterly demoralized men of the fifteenth century, only that he had for son a Caesar Borgia. Finally, at Naples, in 1494, three months before the day on which Charles VIII, entered Italy, King Alphonso II. ascended the throne. "No man," says Commynes, "was ever more cruel than he, or more wicked, or more vicious and tainted, or more gluttonous; less dangerous, however, than his father, King Ferdinand, the which did take in and betray folks whilst giving them good cheer (kindly welcome), as hath been told to me by his relatives and friends, and who did never have any pity or compassion for his poor people." Such, in Italy, whether in her kingdoms or her republics, were the Heads with whom Charles VIII. had to deal when he went, in the name of a disputed right, three hundred leagues away from his own kingdom in quest of a bootless and ephemeral conquest.

The reception he met with at the outset of his enterprise could not but confirm him in his illusory hopes. Whilst he was at Lyons, engaged in preparations for his departure, Duke Charles of Savoy, whose territories were the first he would have to cross, came to see him on a personal matter. "Cousin, my good friend," said the king to him, "I am delighted to see you at Lyons, for, if you had delayed your coming, I had intended to go myself to see you, with a very numerous company, in your own dominions, where it is likely such a visit could not but have caused you loss." "My lord," answered the duke, "my only regret at your arrival in my dominions would be, that I should be unable to give you such welcome there as is due to so great a prince. . . . However, whether here or elsewhere, I shall be always ready to beg that you will dispose of me and all that pertains to me just as of all that might belong to your own subjects." Duke Charles of Savoy had scarcely exaggerated; he was no longer living in September, 1494, when Charles VIII, demanded of his widow Blanche, regent in the name of her infant son, a free passage for the French army over her territory, and she not only granted his request, but, when he entered Turin, she had him received exactly as he might have been in the greatest cities of France. He admired the magnificent jewels she wore; and she offered to lend them to him. He accepted them, and soon afterwards borrowed on the strength of them twelve thousand golden ducats; so ill provided was he with money. The fair regent, besides, made him a present of a fine black horse, which Commynes calls the best in the world, and which, ten months later, Charles rode at the battle of Fornovo, the only victory he was to gain on retiring from this sorry campaign. On entering the country of the Milanese he did not experience the same feeling of confidence that Piedmont had inspired him with. Not that Ludovic the Moor hesitated to lavish upon him assurances of devotion. "Sir," said he, "have no fear for this enterprise; there are in Italy three powers which we consider great, and of which you have one, which is Milan; another, which is the Venetians, does not stir; so you have to do only with that of Naples, and many of your predecessors have beaten us when we were all united. If you will trust me, I will help to make you greater than ever was Charlemagne; and when you have in your hands this kingdom of Naples, we shall easily drive yon Turk out of that empire of Constantinople." These words pleased Charles VIII. mightily, and he would have readily pinned his faith to them; but he had at his side some persons more clear-sighted, and Ludovic had enemies who did not deny themselves the pleasure of enlightening the king concerning him. He invited Charles to visit Milan; he desired to parade before the eyes of the people his alliance and intimate friendship with the powerful King of France; but Charles, who had at first treated him as a friend, all at once changed his demeanor, and refused to go to Milan, "so as not to lose time." Ludovic was too good a judge to make any mistake in the matter; but he did not press the point. Charles resumed his road to Piacenza, where his army awaited him. At Pavia, vows, harangues, felicitations, protestations of devotion, were lavished upon him without restoring his confidence; quarters had been assigned to him within the city; he determined to occupy the castle, which was in a state of defence; his own guard took possession of the guard-posts; and the watch was doubled during the night. Ludovic appeared to take no notice, and continued to accompany the king as far as Piacenza, the last town in the state of Milan. Into it Charles entered with seventy-eight hundred horse, many Swiss foot, and many artillerymen and bombardiers. The Italian population regarded this army with an admiration tinged with timidity and anxiety. News was heard there to the effect that young John Galeas, nephew of Ludovic the Moor and lawful Duke of Milan, was dead. He left a son, five years old, for whom he had at Pavia implored the king's protection; and "I will look upon him as my own," King Charles had answered as he fondled the child. Ludovic set out in haste for Milan; and it was not long before it was known that he had been proclaimed duke and put in possession of the duchy. Distrust became general throughout the army. "Those who ought to have known best told me," says Commynes, "that several, who had at first commended the trip, now found fault with it, and that there was a great inclination to turn back." However, the march was continued forward; and on the 29th of October, 1494, the French army encamped before Sarzana, a Florentine town. Ludovic the Moor suddenly arrived in the camp with new proposals of alliance, on new conditions: Charles accepted some of them, and rejected the principal ones. Ludovic went away again on the 3d of November, never to return.

From this day the King of France might reckon him amongst his enemies. With the republic of Florence was henceforth to be Charles's business. Its head, Peter de' Medici, went to the camp at Sarzana, and Philip de Commynes started on an embassy to go and negotiate with the doge and senate of Venice, which was the chiefest of the Italian powers and the territory of which lay far out of the line of march of the King of France and his army. In the presence of the King of France and in the midst of his troops Peter de' Medici grew embarrassed and confused. He had gone to meet the king without the knowledge of the Florentines and was already alarmed at the gravity of his situation; and he offered more concession and submission than was demanded of him. "Those who treated with him," says Commynes, "told me, turning him to scorn and ridicule, that they were dumbfounded at his so readily granting so great a matter and what they were not prepared for." Feelings were raised to the highest pitch at Florence when his weaknesses were known. There was a numerous and powerful party, consisting of the republicans and the envious, hostile to the Medicis; and they eagerly seized the opportunity of attacking them. A deputation, comprising the most considerable men of the city, was sent, on the 5th of November, to the King of France with a commission to obtain from him more favorable conditions. The Dominican, Jerome Savonarola, at that time the popular oracle of Florence, was one of them. With a pious hauteur that was natural and habitual to him, he adopted the same tone towards Charles as towards the people of Florence. "Hearken thou to my words," said he, "and grave them upon thy heart. I warn thee, in God's name, that thou must show thyself merciful and forbearing to the people of Florence, if thou wouldest that He should aid thee in thy enterprise." Charles, who scarcely knew Savonarola by name, answered simply that he did not wish to do the Florentines any harm, but that he demanded a free passage, and all that had been promised him: "I wish to be received at Florence," he added, "to sign there a definitive treaty which shall settle everything." At these cold expressions the ambassadors withdrew in some disquietude. Peter de' Medici, who was lightly confident, returned to Florence on the 8th of November, and attempted again to seize the supreme power. A violent outbreak took place; Peter was as weak before the Florentine populace as he had been before the King of France; and, having been harried in his very palace, which was given up to pillage, it was only in the disguise of a monk that he was able, on the 9th of November, to get out of the city in company with his two brothers, Julian and Cardinal John de' Medici, of whom the latter was to be, ten years later, Pope Leo X. Peter and his brothers having been driven out, the Florentines were anxious to be reconciled with Charles VIII. Both by political tradition and popular bias the Florentine republic was favorable to France. Charles, annoyed at what had just taken place, showed but slight inclination to enter into negotiation with them; but his wisest advisers represented to him that, in order to accomplish his enterprise and march securely on Naples, he needed the good will of Florence; and the new Florentine authorities promised him the best of receptions in their city. Into it Charles entered on the 17th of November, 1494, at the head of all his army. His reception on the part of officials and populace was really magnificent. Negotiation was resumed. Charles was at first very exacting; the Florentine negotiators protested; one of them, Peter Capponi, "a man of great wits and great courage," says Guiceiardini, "highly esteemed for those qualities in Florence, and issue of a family which had been very powerful in the republic," when he heard read the exorbitant conditions proposed to them on the king's behalf, started up suddenly, took the paper from the secretary's hands, and tore it up before the king's eyes, saying, "Since you impose upon us things so dishonorable, have your trumpets sounded, and we will have our bells rung;" and he went forth from the chamber together with his comrades. Charles and his advisers thought better of it; mutual concessions were made; a treaty, concluded on the 25th of November, secured to the King of France a free passage through the whole extent of the republic, and a sum of one hundred and twenty thousand golden florins "to help towards the success of the expedition against Naples;" the commune of Florence engaged to revoke the order putting a price upon the head of Peter de' Medici as well as confiscating his goods, and not to enforce against him any penalty beyond proscription from the territory; and, the honor as well as the security of both the contracting parties having thus been provided for, Charles VIII. left Florence, and took, with his army, the road towards the Roman States.

Having on the 7th of December, 1494, entered Acquapendente, and, on the 10th, Viterbo, he there received, on the following day, a message from Pope Alexander VI., who in his own name and that of Alphonso II., King of Naples, made him an offer of a million ducats to defray the expenses of the war, and a hundred thousand livres annually, on condition that he would abandon his enterprise against the kingdom of Naples. "I have no mind to make terms with the Arragonese usurper," answered Charles: "I will treat directly with the pope when I am in Rome, which I reckon upon entering about Christmas. I have already made known to him my intentions; I will forthwith send him ambassadors commissioned to repeat them to him." And he did send to him the most valiant of his warriors, Louis de la Tremoille, "the which was there," says the contemporary chronicler, John Bouchet, "with certain speakers, who, after having pompously reminded the pope of the whole history of the French kingship in its relations with the papacy, ended up in the following strain: 'prayeth you, then, our sovereign lord the king not to give him occasion to be, to his great sorrow, the first of his lineage who ever had war and discord with the Roman Church, whereof he and the Christian Kings of France, his predecessors, have been protectors and augmenters.' More briefly and with an affectation of sorrowful graciousness, the pope made answer to the ambassador: 'If it please King Charles, my eldest spiritual son, to enter into my city without arms in all humility, he will be most welcome; but much would it annoy me if the army of thy king should enter, because that, under shadow of it, which is said to be great and riotous, the factions and bands of Rome might rise up and cause uproar and scandal, wherefrom great discomforts might happen to the citizens.'" For three weeks the king and the pope offered the spectacle, only too common in history, of the hypocrisy of might pitted against the hypocrisy of religion. At last the pope saw the necessity of yielding; he sent for Prince Ferdinand, son of the King of Naples, and told him that he must no longer remain at Rome with the Neapolitan troops, for that the King of France was absolute about entering; and he at the same time handed him a safe-conduct under Charles's own hand. Ferdinand refused the safe-conduct, and threw himself upon his knees before the pope, asking him for his blessing: "Rise, my dear son," said the pope; "go, and have good hope; God will come to our aid." The Neapolitans departed, and on the 1st of January, 1495, Charles VIII. entered Rome with his army, "saying gentlewise," according to Brantome, "that a while agone he had made a vow to my lord St. Peter of Rome, and that of necessity he must accomplish it at the peril of his life. Behold him, then, entered into Rome," continues Brantome, "in bravery and triumph, himself armed at all points, with lance on thigh, as if he would fain pick forward to the charge. Marching in this fine and furious order of battle, with trumpets a-sounding and drums a-beating, he enters in and takes his lodging, by the means of his harbingers, wheresoever it seems to him good, has his bodies of guards set, posts his sentinels about the places and districts of the noble city, with no end of rounds and patrols, has his tribunals and his gallows planted in five or six different spots, his edicts and ordinances being published and proclaimed by sound of trumpet, as if he had been in Paris. Go find me ever a King of France who did such things, save Charlemagne; yet trow I he did not bear himself with authority so superb and imperious. What remained, then, more for this great king, if not to make himself full master of this glorious city which had subdued all the world in days of yore, as it was in his power to do, and as he, perchance, would fain have done, in accordance with his ambition and with some of his council, who urged him mightily thereto, if it were only for to keep himself secure. But far from this: violation of holy religion gave him pause, and the reproach that might have been brought against him of having done offence to his Holiness, though reason enough had been given him: on the contrary, he rendered him all honor and obedience, even to kissing in all humility his slipper!" [Oeuvres de Brantome (Paris, 1822), t. ii. p. 3.] No excuse is required for quoting this fragment of Brantome; for it gives the truest and most striking picture of the conditions of facts and sentiments during this transitory encounter between a madly adventurous king and a brazen-facedly dishonest pope. Thus they passed four weeks at Rome, the pope having retired at first to the Vatican and afterwards to the castle of St. Angelo, and Charles remaining master of the city, which, in a fit of mutual ill-humor and mistrust, was for one day given over to pillage and the violence of the soldiery. At last, on the 15th of January, a treaty was concluded which regulated pacific relations between the two sovereigns, and secured to the French army a free passage through the States of the Church, both going to Naples and also returning, and provisional possession of the town of Civita Vecchia, on condition that it should be restored to the pope when the king returned to France. On the 16th and 19th of January the pope and the king had two interviews, one private and the other public, at which they renewed their engagements, and paid one another the stipulated honors. It was announced that, on the 23d of January, the Arragonese King of Naples, Alphonso II., had abdicated in favor of his son, Ferdinand II.; and, on the 28th of January, Charles VIII. took solemn leave of the pope, received his blessing, and left Rome, as he had entered it, at the head of his army, and more confident than ever in the success of the expedition he was going to carry out.

Ferdinand II., the new King of Naples, who had no lack of energy or courage, was looking everywhere, at home and abroad, for forces and allies to oppose the imminent invasion. To the Duke of Milan he wrote, "Remember that we two are of the same blood. It is much to be desired that a league should at once be formed between the pope, the kings of the Romans and Spain, you, and Venice. If these powers are united, Italy would have nought to fear from any. Give me your support; I have the greatest need of it. If you back me, I shall owe to you the preservation of my throne, and I will honor you as my father." He ordered the Neapolitan envoy at Constantinople to remind Sultan Bajazet of the re-enforcements he had promised his father, King Alphonso: "Time presses; the King of France is advancing in person on Naples; be instant in solicitation; be importunate if necessary, so that the Turkish army cross the sea without delay. Be present yourself at the embarkation of the troops. Be active; run; fly." He himself ran through all his kingdom, striving to resuscitate some little spark of affection and hope. He had no success anywhere; the memory of the king his father was hateful; he was himself young and without influence; his ardor caused fear instead of sympathy. Charles kept advancing along the kingdom through the midst of people that remained impassive when they did not give him a warm reception. The garrison of Monte San Giovanni, the strongest place on the frontier, determined to resist. The place was carried by assault in a few hours, and "the assailants," says a French chronicler, "without pity or compassion, made short work of all those plunderers and malefactors, whose bodies they hurled down from the walls. The carnage lasted eight whole hours." A few days afterwards Charles with his guard arrived in front of San Germano: "The clergy awaited him at the gate with cross and banner; men of note carried a dais under the which he took his place; behind him followed men, women, and children, chanting this versicle from the Psalms: 'Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini! Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord!'" The town of Capua was supposed to be very much attached to the house of Arragon; John James Trivulzio, a valiant Milanese captain, who had found asylum and fortune in Naples, had the command there; and thither King Ferdinand hurried. "I am going to Naples for troops," said he to the inhabitants; "wait for me confidently; and if by to-morrow evening you do not see me return, make your own terms with King Charles; you have my full authority." On arriving at Naples, he said to the Neapolitans, "Hold out for a fortnight; I will not expose the capital of my kingdom to be stormed by barbarians; if, within a fort-night hence, I have not prevented the enemy from crossing the Volturno, you may ask him for terms of capitulation;" and back he went to Capua. When he was within sight of the ramparts he heard that on the previous evening, before it was night, the French had been admitted into the town. Trivulzio had been to visit King Charles at Teano, and had offered, in the name of his troops and of the Capuans, to surrender Capua; he had even added, says Guicciardini, that he did not despair of bringing King Ferdinand himself to an arrangement, if a suitable provision were guaranteed to him. "I willingly accept the offer you make me in the name of your troops and of the Capuans," answered Charles: "as for the Arragonese prince, he shall be well received if he come to me; but let him understand that not an inch of ground shall be left to him in this kingdom; in France he shall have honors and beautiful domains." On the 18th of February Charles entered Capua amidst the cheers of the people; and on the same day Trivulzio went over to his service with a hundred lances. On returning to Naples, Ferdinand found the gates closed, and could not get into Castel Nuovo save by a postern. At that very moment the mob was pillaging his stables; he went down from the fortress, addressed the crowd collected beneath the ramparts in a few sad and bitter words, into which he tried to infuse some leaven of hope, took certain measures to enable the two forts of Naples, Castel Nuovo and Castel dell Uovo, to defend themselves for a few days longer, and, on the 23d of February, went for refuge to the island of Ischia, repeating out loud, as long as he had Naples in sight, this versicle from the Psalms: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain!" At Ischia itself "he had a fresh trial to make," says Guicciardini, "of his courage and of the ungrateful faithlessness displayed towards those whom Fortune deserts." The governor of the island refused to admit him accompanied by more than one man. The prince, so soon as he got in, flung himself upon him, poniard in hand, with such fury and such an outburst of kingly authority, that all the garrison, astounded, submitted to him and gave up to him the fort and its rock. On the very eve of the day on which King Ferdinand II. was thus seeking his last refuge in the island of Ischia, Charles VIII. was entering Naples in triumph at the head of his troops, on horseback, beneath a pall of cloth of gold borne by four great Neapolitan lords, and "received," says Guicciardini, "with cheers and a joy of which it would be vain to attempt a description; the incredible exultation of a crowd of both sexes, of every age, of every condition, of every quality, of every party, as if he had been the father and first founder of the city." And the great French historian bears similar witness to that of the great Italian historian: "Never," says Commynes, "did people show so much affection to king or nation as they showed to the king, and thought all of them to be free of tyranny."

At the news hereof the disquietude and vexation of the principal Italian powers were displayed at Venice as well as at Milan and at Rome. The Venetian senate, as prudent as it was vigilant, had hitherto maintained a demeanor of expectancy and almost of good will towards France; they hoped that Charles VIII. would be stopped or would stop of himself in his mad enterprise, without their being obliged to interfere. The doge, Augustin Barbarigo, lived on very good terms with Commynes, who was as desirous as he was that the king should recover his senses. Commynes was destined to learn how difficult and sorry a thing it is to have to promote a policy of which you disapprove. When he perceived that a league was near to being formed in Italy against the King of France, he at once informed his master of it, and attempted to dissuade the Venetians from it. They denied that they had any such design, and showed a disposition to form, in concert with the Kings of France, Spain, and the Romans, and with the whole of Italy, a league against the Turks, provided that Charles VIII. would consent to leave the King of Naples in possession of his kingdom, at the same time keeping for himself three places therein, and accepting a sum in ready money which Venice would advance. "Would to God," says Commynes, "that the king had been pleased to listen then! Of all did I give him notice, and I got bare answer. . . . When the Venetians heard that the king was in Naples, and that the strong fort, which they had great hopes would hold out, was surrendered, they sent for me one morning, and I found them in great number, about fifty or sixty, in the apartment of the prince (the doge) who was ill. Some were sitting upon a staircase leading to the benches, and had their heads resting upon their hands, others otherwise, all showing that they had great sadness at heart. And I trow that, when news came to Rome of the battle lost at Cannae against Hannibal, the senators who had remained there were not more dumbfounded and dismayed than these were; for not a single one made sign of seeing me, or spoke to me one word, save the duke (the doge), who asked me if the king would keep to that of which he had constantly sent them word, and which I had said to them. I assured them stoutly that he would, and I opened up ways for to remain at sound peace, hoping to remove their suspicions, and then I did get me gone."

The league was concluded on the 31st of March, 1495, between Pope Alexander VI., Emperor Maximilian I., as King of the Romans, the King of Spain, the Venetians, and the Duke of Milan: "To three ends," says Commynes, "for to defend Christendom against the Turks, for the defence of Italy, and for the preservation of their Estates. There was nothing in it against the king, they told me, but it was to secure themselves from him; they did not like his so deluding the world with words by saying that all he wanted was the kingdom, and then to march against the Turk, and all the while he was showing quite the contrary. . . . I remained in the city about a month after that, being as well treated as before; and then I went my way, having been summoned by the king, and being conducted in perfect security, at their expense, to Ferrara, whence I went to Florence for to await the king."

When Ferdinand II. took refuge in the island of Ischia, and Castel Nuovo and Castel dell' Uovo had surrendered at Naples, Charles VIII., considering himself in possession of the kingdom, announced his intention, and, there is reason to believe, actually harbored the design, of returning to France, without asserting any further his pretensions as a conqueror. On the 20th of March, before the Italian league had been definitively concluded, Briconnet, Cardinal of St. Malo, who had attended the king throughout his expedition, wrote to the queen, Anne of Brittany, "His Majesty is using diligence as best he can to return over yonder, and has expressly charged me, for my part, to hasten his affairs. I hope he will be able to start hence about the 8th of April. He will leave over here, as lieutenant, my lord de Montpensier, with a thousand or twelve hundred lances, partly French and partly of this country, fifteen hundred Swiss, and a thousand French crossbow-men." Charles himself wrote, on the 28th of March, to his brother-in-law, the Duke of Bourbon, that he would mount his horse immediately after Quasimodo [the first Sunday after Easter], to return to France without halting, or staying in any place. But Charles, whilst so speaking and projecting, was forgetful of his giddy indolence, his frivolous tastes, and his passion for theatrical display and licentious pleasure. The climate, the country, the customs of Naples charmed him. "You would never believe," he wrote to the Duke of Bourbon, "what beautiful gardens I have in this city; on my faith, they seem to me to lack only Adam and Eve to make of them an earthly paradise, so beautiful are they, and full of nice and curious things, as I hope to tell you soon. To add to that, I have found in this country the best of painters; and I will send you some of them to make the most beautiful ceilings possible. The ceilings at Beauce, Lyons, and other places in France do not approach those of this place in beauty and richness. . . . Wherefore I shall provide myself with them, and bring them with me for to have some done at Arnboise." Politics were forgotten in the presence of these royal fancies. Charles VIII. remained nearly two months at Naples after the Italian league had been concluded, and whilst it was making its preparations against him was solely concerned about enjoying, in his beautiful but precarious kingdom, "all sorts of mundane pleasaunces," as his councillor, the Cardinal of St. Malo, says, and giving entertainments to his new subjects, as much disposed as himself to forget everything in amusement. On the 12th of May, 1495, all the population of Naples and of the neighboring country was afoot early to see their new king make his entry in state as King of Naples, Sicily, and Jerusalem, with his Neapolitan court and his French army. Charles was on horseback beneath a rich dais borne by great Neapolitan lords; he had a close crown on his head, the sceptre in his right hand, and a golden globe in his left; in front of this brilliant train he took his way through the principal streets of the city, halting at the five knots of the noblesse, where the gentlemen and their wives who had assembled there detained him a long while, requesting him to be pleased to confer with his own hand the order of knighthood on their sons, which he willingly did. At last he reached the cathedral church of St. Januarius, which had recently been rebuilt by Alphonso I. of Arragon, after the earth-quake of 1456. The archbishop, at the head of his clergy, came out to meet him, and conducted him to the front of the high altar, where the head of St. Januarius was exhibited.

When all these solemnities had been accomplished to the great satisfaction of the populace, bonfires were lighted up for three days; the city was illuminated; and only a week afterwards, on the 20th of May, 1495, Charles VIII. started from Naples to return to France, with an army, at the most, from twelve to fifteen thousand strong, leaving for guardian of his new kingdom his cousin, Gilbert of Bourbon, Count de Montpensier, a brave but indolent knight (who never rose, it was said, until noon), with eight or ten thousand men, scattered for the most part throughout the provinces.

During the months of April and May, thus wasted by Charles VIII., the Italian league, and especially the Venetians and the Duke of Milan, Ludovic the Moor, had vigorously pushed forward their preparations for war, and had already collected an army more numerous than that with which the King of France, in order to return home, would have to traverse the whole of Italy. He took more than six weeks to traverse it, passing three days at Rome, four at Siena, the same number at Pisa, and three at Lucca, though he had declared that he would not halt anywhere. He evaded entering Florence, where he had made promises which he could neither retract nor fulfil. The Dominican Savonarola, "who had always preached greatly in the king's favor," says Commynes, "and by his words had kept the Florentines from turning against us," came to see him on his way at Poggibonsi. "I asked him," said Commynes, "whether the king would be able to cross without danger to his person, seeing the great muster that was being made by the Venetians. He answered me that the king would have trouble on the road, but that the honor would remain his, though he had but a hundred men at his back; but, seeing that he had not done well for the reformation of the Church, as he ought, and had suffered his men to plunder and rob the people, God had given sentence against him, and in short he would have a touch of the scourge."

Several contemporary historians affirm that if the Italian army, formed by the Venetians and the Duke of Milan, had opposed the march of the French army, they might have put it in great peril; but nothing of the kind was attempted. It was at the passage of the Appennines, so as to cross them and descend into the duchy of Parma, that Charles VIII. had for the first time to overcome resistance, not from men, but from nature. He had in his train a numerous and powerful artillery, from which he promised himself a great deal when the day of battle came; and he had to get it up and down by steep paths, "Here never," says the chronicle of La Tremoille, "had car or carriage gone. . . ." The king, knowing that the lord of La Tremoille, such was his boldness and his strong will, thought nothing impossible, gave to him this duty, which he willingly undertook; and, to the end that the footmen, Swiss, German, and others, might labor thereat without fearing the heat, he addressed them as follows: 'The proper nature of us Gauls is strength, boldness, and ferocity. We triumphed at our coming; better would it be for us to die, than to lose by cowardice the delight of such praise; we are all in the flower of our age and the vigor of our years; let each lend a hand to the work of dragging the gun-carriages and carrying the cannon-balls; ten crowns to the first man that reaches the top of the mountain before me!' Throwing off his armor, La Tremoille, in hose and shirt, himself lent a hand to the work; by dint of pulling and pushing, the artillery was got to the brow of the mountain; it was then harder still to get it down the other side, along a very narrow and rugged incline; and five whole days were spent on this rough work, which luckily the generals of the enemy did not attempt to molest. La Tremoille, "black as a Moor," says the chronicle, "by reason of the murderous heat he had endured, made his report to the king, who said, 'By the light of this day, cousin, you have done more than ever could Annibal of Carthage or Caesar have done, to the peril of your person, whereof you have not been sparing to serve me, me and mine. I vow to God, that if I may only see you back in France, the recompense I hope to make you shall be so great, that others shall conceive fresh desire to serve me.'"

Charles VIII. was wise to treat his brave men well; for the day was at hand when he would need them and all their bravery. It was in the duchy of Parma, near the town of Fornovo, on the right bank of the Taro, an affluent of the Po, that the French and Italian armies met, on the 5th of July, 1495. The French army was nine or ten thousand strong, with five or six thousand camp followers, servants or drivers; the Italian army numbered at least thirty thousand men, well supplied and well rested, whereas the French were fatigued with their long march, and very badly off for supplies. During the night between the 5th and 6th of July, a violent storm burst over the country, "rain, lightnings, and thunder so mighty," says Commynes, "that none could say more; seemed that heaven and earth would dissolve, or that it portended some great disaster to come." Next day, at six in the morning, Charles VIII. heard mass, received the communion, mounted on horseback, and set out to join his own division. "I went to him," says Commynes, "and found him armed at all points, and mounted upon the finest horse I had ever seen in my life, called Savoy; Duke Charles of Savoy (the Duchess of Savoy,? v. p. 288) had given it him; it was black, and had but one eye; it was a middle-sized horse, of good height for him who was upon it. Seemed that this young man was quite other than either his nature, his stature, or his complexion bespoke him, for he was very timid in speaking, and is so to this day. That horse made him look tall; and he had a good countenance, and of good color, and speech bold and sensible." On perceiving Commynes, the king said to him, "Go and see if yonder folks would fain parley." "Sir," answered Commynes, "I will do so willingly; but I never saw two so great hosts so near to one another, and yet go their ways without fighting." He went, nevertheless, to the Venetian advanced posts, and his trumpeter was admitted to the presence of the Marquis of Mantua, who commanded the Italian army; but skirmishing had already commenced in all quarters, and the first boom of the cannon was heard just as the marquis was reading Commynes' letter. "It is too late to speak of peace," said he; and the trumpeter was sent back. The king had joined the division which he was to lead to battle. "Gentlemen," said he to the men-at-arms who pressed around him, "you will live or die here with me, will you not?" And then raising his voice that he might be heard by the troops, "They are ten times as many as we," he said; "but you are ten times better than they; God loves the French; He is with us, and will do battle for us. As far as Naples I have had the victory over my enemies; I have brought you hither without shame or blame; with God's help I will lead you back into France, to our honor and that of our kingdom." The men-at-arms made the sign of the cross; the foot-soldiers kissed the ground; and the king made several knights, according to custom, before going into action. The Marquis of Mantua's squadrons were approaching. "Sir," said the bastard of Bourbon, "there is no longer time for the amusement of making knights; the enemy is coming on in force; go we at him." The king gave orders to charge, and the battle began at all points.

It was very hotly contested, but did not last long, with alternations of success and reverse on both sides. The two principal commanders in the king's army, Louis de la Tremoille and John James Trivulzio, sustained without recoiling the shock of troops far more numerous than their own. "At the throat! at the throat!!" shouted La Tremoille, after the first onset, and his three hundred men-at-arms burst upon the enemy and broke their line. In the midst of the melley, the French baggage was attacked by the Stradiots, a sort of light infantry composed of Greeks recruited and paid by the Venetians. "Let them be," said Trivulzio to his men; "their zeal for plunder will make them forget all, and we shall give the better account of them." At one moment, the king had advanced before the main body of his guard, without looking to see if they were close behind him, and was not more than a hundred paces from the Marquis of Mantua, who, seeing him scantily attended, bore down at the head of his cavalry. "Not possible is it," says Commynes, "to do more doughtily than was done on both sides." The king, being very hard pressed, defended himself fiercely against those who would have taken him; the bastard Matthew of Bourbon, his brother-in-arms and one of the bravest knights in the army, had thrown himself twenty paces in front of him to cover him, and had just been taken prisoner by the Marquis of Mantua in person, when a mass of the royal troops came to their aid, and released them from all peril. Here it was that Peter du Terrail, the Chevalier de Bayard, who was barely twenty years of age, and destined to so glorious a renown, made his first essay in arms; he had two horses killed under him, and took a standard, which he presented to the king, who after the battle made him a present of five hundred crowns.

Charles VIII. remained master of the battle-field. "There were still to be seen," says Commynes, "outside their camp, a great number of men-at-arms, whose lances and heads only were visible, and likewise foot-soldiers. The king put it to the council whether he ought to give chase to them or not; some were for marching against them; but the French were not of this opinion; they said that enough had been done, that it was late, and that it was time to get lodged. Night was coming on; the host which had been in front of us withdrew into their camp, and we went to get lodged a quarter of a league from where the battle had been. The king put up at a poorly-built farm-house, but he found there an infinite quantity of corn in sheaves, whereby the whole army profited. Some other bits of houses there were hard by, which did for a few; and every one lodged as he could, without making any cantonment, I know well enough that I lay in a vineyard, at full length on the bare ground, without anything else and without cloak, for the king had borrowed mine in the morning. Whoever had the wherewith made a meal, but few had, save a hunch of bread from a varlet's knapsack. I went to see the king in his chamber, where there were some wounded whom he was having dressed; he wore a good mien, and every one kept a good face; and we were not so boastful as a little before the battle, because we saw the enemy near us." Six days after the battle, on the 12th of July, the king wrote to his sister, the Duchess Anne of Bourbon, "Sister, my dear, I commend myself to you right heartily. I wrote to my brother how that I found in my way a big army that Lord Ludovic, the Venetians, and their allies, had got ready against me, thinking to keep me from passing. Against which, with God's help, such resistance was made, that I am come hither without any loss. Furthermore, I am using the greatest diligence that can be to get right away, and I hope shortly to see you, which is my desire, in order to tell you at good length all about my trip. And so God bless you, sister, my dear, and may He have you in His keeping!"

Both armies might and did claim the victory, for they had, each of them, partly succeeded in their design. The Italians wished to unmistakably drive out of Italy Charles VIII., who was withdrawing voluntarily; but to make it an unmistakable retreat, he ought to have been defeated, his army beaten, and himself perhaps a prisoner. With that view they attempted to bar his passage and beat him on Italian ground: in that they failed; Charles, remaining master of the battle-field, went on his way in freedom, and covered with glory, he and his army. He certainly left Italy, but he left it with the feeling of superiority in arms, and with the intention of returning thither better informed and better supplied. The Italian allies were triumphant, but without any ground of security or any lustre; the expedition of Charles VIII. was plainly only the beginning of the foreigner's ambitious projects, invasions and wars against their own beautiful land. The King of France and his men of war had not succeeded in conquering it, but they had been charmed with such an abode; they had displayed in their campaign knightly qualities more brilliant and more masterful than the studied duplicity and elegant effeminacy of the Italians of the fifteenth century, and, after the battle of Fornovo, they returned to France justly proud and foolishly confident, notwithstanding the incompleteness of their success.

Charles VIII. reigned for nearly three years longer after his return to his kingdom; and for the first two of them he passed his time in indolently dreaming of his plans for a fresh invasion of Italy, and in frivolous abandonment to his pleasures and the entertainments at his court, which he moved about from Lyons to Moulins, to Paris, to Tours, and to Amboise. The news which came to him from Italy was worse and worse every day. The Count de Montpensier, whom he had left at Naples, could not hold his own there, and died a prisoner there on the 11th of November, 1496, after having found himself driven from place to place by Ferdinand II., who by degrees recovered possession of nearly all his kingdom, merely, himself also, to die there on the 6th of October, leaving for his uncle and successor, Frederick III., the honor of recovering the last four places held by the French. Charles ordered a fresh army of invasion to be formed, and the Duke of Orleans was singled out to command it; but he evaded this commission. The young dauphin, Charles Orlando, three years old, had just died, "a fine child and bold of speech," says Commynes, "and one that feared not the things that other children are wont to fear." Duke Louis of Orleans, having thus become heir to the throne, did not care to go and run risks at a distance. He, nevertheless, declared his readiness to obey an express command from the king if the title of lieutenant-general were given him; but "I will never send him to war on compulsion," said Charles, and nothing more was said about it. Whilst still constantly talking of the war he had in view, Charles attended more often and more earnestly than he hitherto had to the internal affairs of his kingdom. "He had gotten it into his head," says Commynes, "that he would fain live according to God's commandments, and set justice and the Church in good order. He would also revise his finances, in such sort as to levy on the people but twelve hundred thousand francs, and that in form of talliage, besides his own property on which he would live, as did the kings of old." His two immediate predecessors, Charles VII. and Louis IX., had decreed the collation and revision of local customs, so often the rule of civil jurisdiction; but the work made no progress: Charles VIII., by a decree dated March 15, 1497, abridged the formalities, and urged on the execution of it, though it was not completed until the reign of Charles IX. By another decree, dated August 2, 1497, he organized and regulated, as to its powers as well as its composition, the king's grand council, the supreme administrative body, which was a fixture at Paris. He began even to contemplate a reformation of his own life; he had inquiries made as to how St. Louis used to proceed in giving audience to the lower orders; his intention, he said, was to henceforth follow the footsteps of the most justice-loving of French kings. "He set up," says Commynes, "a public audience, whereat he gave ear to everybody, and especially to the poor; I saw him thereat, a week before his death, for two good hours, and I never saw him again. He did not much business at this audience; but at least it was enough to keep folks in awe, and especially his own officers, of whom he had suspended some for extortion." It is but too often a man's fate to have his life slip from him just as he was beginning to make a better use of it. On the 7th of April, 1498, Charles VIII. was pleased, after dinner, to go down with the queen into the fosses of the castle of Amboise, to see a game of tennis. Their way lay through a gallery the opening of which was very low; and the king, short as he was, hit his forehead. Though he was a little dizzy with the blow, he did not stop, watched the players for some time, and even conversed with several persons; but about two in the afternoon, whilst he was a second time traversing this passage on his way back to the castle, he fell backwards and lost consciousness. He was laid upon a paltry paillasse in that gallery where everybody went in and out at pleasure; and in that wretched place, after a lapse of nine hours, expired "he," says Commynes, "who had so many fine houses, and who was making so fine an one at Amboise; so small a matter is our miserable life, which giveth us so much trouble for the things of the world, and kings cannot help themselves any more than peasants. I arrived at Amboise two days after his decease; I went to say mine orison at the spot where was the corpse; and there I was for five or six hours. And, of a verity, there was never seen the like mourning, nor that lasted so long; he was so good that better creature cannot be seen; the most humane and gentle address that ever was was his; I trow that to never a man spake he aught that could displease; and at a better hour could he never have died for to remain of great renown in histories and regretted by those that served him. I trow I was the man to whom he showed most roughness; but knowing that it was in his youth, and that it did not proceed from him, I never bore him ill-will for it."

Probably no king was ever thus praised for his goodness, and his goodness alone, by a man whom he had so maltreated, and who, as judicious and independent as he was just, said of this same king, "He was not better off for sense than for money, and he thought of nothing but pastime and his pleasures."


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