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A Popular History of France Vol 2
CHAPTER XXI. THE STATES GENERAL OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.
by Guizot, Francois Pierre Guillaume


Let us turn back a little, in order to understand the government and position of King John before he engaged in the war which, so far as he was concerned, ended with the battle of Poitiers and imprisonment in England.

A valiant and loyal knight, but a frivolous, hare-brained, thoughtless, prodigal, and obstinate as well as impetuous prince, and even more incapable than Philip of Valois in the practice of government, John, after having summoned at his accession, in 1351, a states-assembly concerning which we have no explicit information left to us, tried for a space of four years to suffice in himself for all the perils, difficulties, and requirements of the situation he had found bequeathed to him by his father. For a space of four years, in order to get money, he debased the coinage, confiscated the goods and securities of foreign merchants, and stopped payment of his debts; and he went through several provinces, treating with local councils or magistrates in order to obtain from them certain subsidies which he purchased by granting them new privileges. He hoped by his institution of the order of the Star to resuscitate the chivalrous zeal of his nobility. All these means were vain or insufficient. The defeat of Crecy and the loss of Calais had caused discouragement in the kingdom and aroused many doubts as to the issue of the war with England. Defection and even treason brought trouble into the court, the councils, and even the family of John. To get the better of them he at one time heaped favors upon the men he feared, at another he had them arrested, imprisoned, and even beheaded in his presence. He gave his daughter Joan in marriage to Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, and, some few months afterwards, Charles himself, the real or presumed head of all the traitors, was seized, thrown into prison, and treated with extreme rigor, in spite of the supplications of his wife, who vigorously took the part of her husband against her father. After four years thus consumed in fruitless endeavors, by turns violently and feebly enforced, to reorganize an army and a treasury, and to purchase fidelity at any price or arbitrarily strike down treason, John was obliged to recognize his powerlessness and to call to his aid the French nation, still so imperfectly formed, by convoking at Paris, for the 30th of November, 1355, the states-general of Langue d'oil. that is, Northern France, separated by the Dordogne and the Garonne from Langue d'oc, which had its own assembly distinct. Auvergne belonged to Langue d'oil.

It is certain that neither this assembly nor the king who convoked it had any clear and fixed idea of what they were meeting together to do. The kingship was no longer competent for its own government and its own perils; but it insisted none the less, in principle, on its own all but unregulated and unlimited power. The assembly did not claim for the country the right of self-government, but it had a strong leaven of patriotic sentiment, and at the same time was very much discontented with the king's government: it had equally at heart the defence of France against England and against the abuses of the kingly power. There was no notion of a social struggle and no systematic idea of political revolution; a dangerous crisis and intolerable sufferings constrained king and nation to come together in order to make an attempt at an understanding and at a mutual exchange of the supports and the reliefs of which they were in need.

On the 2d of December, 1355, the three orders, the clergy, the nobility, and the deputies from the towns assembled at Paris in the great hall of the Parliament. Peter de la Forest, Archbishop of Rouen and Chancellor of France, asked them in the king's name "to consult together about making him a subvention which should suffice for the expenses of the war," and the king offered to "make a sound and durable coinage." The tampering with the coinage was the most pressing of the grievances for which the three orders solicited a remedy. They declared that "they were ready to live and die with the king, and to put their bodies and what they had at his service;" and they demanded authority to deliberate together—which was granted them. John de Craon, Archbishop of Rheims; Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens; and Stephen Marcel, provost of the tradesmen of Paris, were to report the result, as presidents, each of his own order. The session of the states lasted not more than a week. They replied to the king "that they would give him a subvention of thirty thousand men-at-arms every year," and, for their pay, they voted an impost of fifty hundred thousand livres (five millions of livres), which was to be levied "on all folks, of whatever condition they might be, Church folks, nobles, or others," and the gabel or tax on salt "over the whole kingdom of France." On separating, the states appointed beforehand two fresh sessions at which they would assemble, one, in the month of March, to estimate the sufficiency of the impost, and to hear, on that subject, the report of the nine superintendents charged with the execution of their decision; the other, in the month of November following, "to examine into the condition of the kingdom."

They assembled, in fact, on the 1st of March, and on the 8th of May, 1356 [N. B. As the year at that time began with Easter, the 24th of April was the first day of the year 1356: the new style, however, is here in every case adopted]; but they had not the satisfaction of finding their authority generally recognized and their patriotic purpose effectually accomplished. The impost they had voted, notably the salt-tax, had met with violent opposition. "When the news thereof reached Normandy," says Froissart, "the country was very much astounded at it, for they had not learned to pay any such thing. The Count d'Harcourt told the folks of Rouen, where he was puissant, that they would be very serfs and very wicked if they agreed to this tax, and that, by God's help, it should never be current in his country." The King of Navarre used much the same language in his countship of Evreux. At other spots the mischief was still more serious. Close to Paris itself, at Malun, payment was peremptorily refused; and at Arras, on the 5th of March, 1356, "the commonalty of the town," says Froissart, "rose upon the rich burghers and slew fourteen of the most substantial, which was a pity and loss; and so it is when wicked folk have the upper hand of valiant men. However, the people of Arras paid for it afterwards, for the king sent thither his cousin, my lord James of Bourbon, who gave orders to take all them by whom the sedition had been caused, and, on the spot, had their heads cut off."

The states-general at their re-assembly on the 1st of March, 1356, admitted the feebleness of their authority and the insufficiency of their preceding votes for the purpose of aiding the king in the war. They abolished the salt-tax and the sales-duty, which had met with such opposition; but, stanch in their patriotism and loyalty, they substituted therefor an income-tax, imposed on every sort of folk, nobles or burghers, ecclesiastical or lay, which was to be levied "not by the high justiciers of the king, but by the folks of the three estates themselves." The king's ordinance, dated the 12th of March, 1356, which regulates the execution of these different measures, is (article 10) to this import: "there shall be, in each city, three deputies, one for each estate. These deputies shall appoint, in each parish, collectors, who shall go into the houses to receive the declaration which the persons who dwell there shall make touching their property, their estate, and their servants. When a declaration shall appear in conformity with truth, they shall be content therewith; else they shall have him who has made it sent before the deputies of the city in the district whereof he dwells, and the deputies shall cause him to take, on this subject, such oaths as they shall think proper. . . . The collectors in the villages shall cause to be taken therein, in the presence of the pastor, suitable oaths on the subject of the declarations. If, in the towns or villages, any one refuse to take the oaths demanded, the collectors shall assess his property according to general opinion, and on the deposition of his neighbors." (Ordonnances des Bois de France, t. iv. pp. 171 175.)

In return for so loyal and persevering a co-operation on the part of the states-general, notwithstanding the obstacles en-countered by their votes and their agents, King John confirmed expressly, by an ordinance of May 26, 1356 [art. 9: Ordonnances des Bois de France, t. iii. p. 55], all the promises he had made them and all the engagements he had entered into with them by his ordinance of December 28, 1355, given immediately after their first session (Ibidem, t. iii. pp. 19 37): a veritable reformatory ordinance, which enumerated the various royal abuses, administrative, judicial, financial, and military, against which there had been a public clamor, and regulated the manner of redressing them.

After these mutual concessions and promises the states-general broke up, adjourning until the 30th of November following (1356); but two months and a half before this time King John, proud of some success obtained by him in Normandy and of the brilliant army of knights remaining to him after he had dismissed the burgher-forces, rushed, as has been said, with conceited impetuosity to encounter the Prince of Wales, rejected with insolent demands the modest proposals of withdrawal made to him by the commander of the little English army, and, on the 19th of September, lost, contrary to all expectation, the lamentable battle of Poitiers. We have seen how he was deserted before the close of the action by his eldest son, Prince Charles, with his body of troops, and how he himself remained with his youngest son, Prince Philip, a boy of fourteen years, a prisoner in the hands of his victorious enemies. "At this news," says Froissart, "the kingdom of France was greatly troubled and excited, and with good cause, for it was a right grievous blow and vexatious for all sorts of folk. The wise men of the kingdom might well predict that great evils would come of it, for the king, their head, and all the chivalry of the kingdom were slain or taken; the knights and squires who came back home were on that account so hated and blamed by the commoners that they had great difficulty in gaining admittance to the good towns; and the king's three sons who had returned, Charles, Louis, and John, were very young in years and experience, and there was in them such small resource that none of the said lads liked to undertake the government of the said kingdom."

The eldest of the three, Prince Charles, aged nineteen, who was called the Dauphin after the cession of Dauphiny to France, nevertheless assumed the office, in spite of his youth and his anything but glorious retreat from Poitiers. He took the title of lieutenant of the king, and had hardly re-entered Paris, on the 29th of September, when he summoned, for the 15th of October, the states-general of Langue d'oil, who met, in point of fact, on the 17th, in the great chamber of parliament. "Never was seen," says the report of their meeting, "an assembly so numerous, or composed of wiser folk." The superior clergy were there almost to a man; the nobility had lost too many in front of Poitiers to be abundant at Paris, but there were counted at the assembly four hundred deputies from the good towns, amongst whom special mention is made, in the documents, of those from Amiens, Tournay, Lille, Arras, Troyes, Auxerre, and Sens. The total number of members at the assembly amounted to more than eight hundred.

The session was opened by a speech from the chancellor, Peter de la Forest, who called upon the estates to aid the dauphin with their counsels under the serious and melancholy circumstances of the kingdom. The three orders at first attempted to hold their deliberations each in a separate hall; but it was not long before they felt the inconveniences arising from their number and their separation, and they resolved to choose from amongst each order commissioners who should examine the questions together, and afterwards make their report and their proposals to the general meeting of the estates. Eighty commissioners were accordingly elected, and set themselves to work. The dauphin appointed some of his officers to be present at their meetings, and to furnish them with such information as they might require. As early as the second day "these officers were given to understand that the deputies would not work whilst anybody belonging to the king's council was with them." So the officers withdrew; and a few days afterwards, towards the end of October, 1356, the commissioners reported the result of their conferences to each of the three orders. The general assembly adopted their proposals, and had the dauphin informed that they were desirous of a private audience. Charles repaired, with some of his councillors, to the monastery of the Cordeliers, where the estates were holding their sittings, and there he received their representations. They demanded of him "that he should deprive of their offices such of the king's councillors as they should point out, have them arrested, and confiscate all their property. Twenty-two men of note, the chancellor, the premier president of the Parliament, the king's stewards, and several officers in the household of the dauphin himself, were thus pointed out. They were accused of having taken part to their own profit in all the abuses for which the government was reproached, and of having concealed from the king the true state of things and the misery of the people. The commissioners elected by the estates were to take proceedings against them: if they were found guilty, they were to be punished; and if they were innocent, they were at the very least to forfeit their offices and their property, on account of their bad counsels and their bad administration."

The chronicles of the time are not agreed as to these last demands. We have, as regards the events of this period, two contemporary witnesses, both full of detail, intelligence, and animation in their narratives, namely, Froissart and the continuer of William of Nangis' Latin Chronicle. Froissart is in general favorable to kings and princes; the anonymous chronicler, on the contrary, has a somewhat passionate bias towards the popular party. Probably both of them are often given to exaggeration in their assertions and impressions; but, taking into account none but undisputed facts, it is evident that the claims of the states-general, though they were, for the most part, legitimate enough at bottom, by reason of the number, gravity, and frequent recurrence of abuses, were excessive and violent, and produced the effect of complete suspension in the regular course of government and justice. The dauphin, Charles, was a young man, of a naturally sound and collected mind, but without experience, who had hitherto lived only in his father's court, and who could not help being deeply shocked and disquieted by such demands. He was still more troubled when the estates demanded that the deputies, under the title of reformers, should traverse the provinces as a check upon the malversations of the royal officials, and that twenty-eight delegates, chosen from amongst the three orders, four prelates, twelve knights, and twelve burgesses, should be constantly placed near the king's person, "with power to do and order everything in the kingdom, just like the king himself, as well for the purpose of appointing and removing public officers as for other matters." It was taking away the entire government from the crown, and putting it into the hands of the estates.

The dauphin's surprise and suspicion were still more vivid when the deputies spoke to him about setting at liberty the King of Navarre, who had been imprisoned by King John, and told him that "since this deed of violence no good had come to the king or the kingdom, because of the sin of having imprisoned the said King of Navarre." And yet Charles the Bad was already as infamous as he has remained in history; he had labored to embroil the dauphin with his royal father; and there was no plot or intrigue, whether with the malcontents in France or with the King of England, in which he was not, with good reason, suspected of having been mixed up, and of being ever ready to be mixed up. He was clearly a dangerous enemy for the public peace, as well as for the crown, and, for the states-general who were demanding his release, a bad associate.

In the face of such demands and such forebodings, the dauphin did all he could to gain time. Before he gave an answer he must know, he said, what subvention the states-general would be willing to grant him. The reply was a repetition of the promise of thirty thousand men-at-arms, together with an enumeration of the several taxes whereby there was a hope of providing for the expense. But the produce of these taxes was so uncertain, that both parties doubted the worth of the promise. Careful calculation went to prove that the subvention would suffice, at the very most, for the keep of no more than eight or nine thousand men. The estates were urgent for a speedy compliance with their demands. The dauphin persisted in his policy of delay. He was threatened with a public and solemn session, at which all the questions should be brought before the people, and which was fixed for the 3d of November. Great was the excitement in Paris; and the people showed a disposition to support the estates at any price. On the 2d of November, the dauphin summoned at the Louvre a meeting of his councillors and of the principal deputies; and there he announced that he was obliged to set out for Metz, where he was going to follow up the negotiations entered into with the Emperor Charles IV. and Pope Innocent VI. for the sake of restoring peace between France and England. He added that the deputies, on returning for a while to their provinces, should get themselves enlightened as to the real state of affairs, and that he would not fail to recall them so soon as he had any important news to tell them, and any assistance to request of them.

It was not without serious grounds that the dauphin attached so much importance to gaining time. When, in the preceding month of October, he had summoned to Paris the states-general of Langue d'oil, he had likewise convoked at Toulouse those of Langue d'oc, and he was informed that the latter had not only just voted a levy of fifty thousand men-at-arms, with an adequate subsidy, but that, in order to show their royalist sentiments, they had decreed a sort of public mourning, to last for a year, if King John were not released from his captivity. The dauphin's idea was to summon other provincial assemblies, from which he hoped for similar manifestations. It was said, moreover, that several deputies, already gone from Paris, had been ill received in their towns, at Soissons amongst others, on account of their excessive claims, and their insulting language towards all the king's councillors. Under such flattering auspices the dauphin set out, according to the announcement he had made, from Paris, on the 5th of December, 1356, to go and meet the Emperor Charles IV. at Metz; but, at his departure, he committed exactly the fault which was likely to do him the most harm at Paris: being in want of money for his costly trip, he subjected the coinage to a fresh adulteration, which took effect five days after his departure.

The leaders in Paris seized eagerly upon so legitimate a grievance for the support of their claims. As early as the 3d of the preceding November, when they were apprised of the dauphin's approaching departure for Metz, and the adjournment of their sittings, the states-general had come to a decision that their remonstrances and demands, summed up in twenty-one articles, should be read in general assembly, and that a recital of the negotiations which had taken place on that subject between the estates and the dauphin should be likewise drawn up, "in order that all the deputies might be able to tell in their districts wherefore the answers had not been received." When, after the dauphin's departure, the new debased coins were put in circulation, the people were driven to an outbreak thereby, and the provost of tradesmen, "Stephen Marcel, hurried to the Louvre to demand of the Count of Anjou, the dauphin's brother and lieutenant, a withdrawal of the decree. Having obtained no answer, he returned the next day, escorted by a throng of the inhabitants of Paris. At length, on the third day, the numbers assembled were so considerable that the young prince took alarm, and suspended the execution of the decree until his brother's return. For the fist time Stephen Marcel had got himself supported by an outbreak of the people; for the first time the mob had imposed its will upon the ruling power; and from this day forth pacific and lawful resistance was transformed into a violent struggle."

At his re-entry into Paris, on the 19th of January, 1357, the dauphin attempted to once more gain possession of some sort of authority. He issued orders to Marcel and the sheriffs to remove the stoppage they had placed on the currency of the new coinage. This was to found his opposition on the worst side of his case. "We will do nothing of the sort," replied Marcel; and in a few moments, at the provost's orders, the work-people left their work, and shouts of "To arms!" resounded through the streets. The prince's councillors were threatened with death. The dauphin saw the hopelessness of a struggle; for there were hardly a handful of men left to guard the Louvre. On the morrow, the 20th of January, he sent for Marcel and the sheriffs into the great hall of parliament, and giving way on almost every point, bound himself to no longer issue new coin, to remove from his council the officers who had been named to him, and even to imprison them until the return of his father, who would do full justice to them. The estates were at the same time authorized to meet when they pleased: on all which points the provost of tradesmen requested letters, which were granted him; "and he demanded that the dauphin should immediately place sergeants in the houses of those of his councillors who still happened to be in Paris, and that proceedings should be taken without delay for making an inventory of their goods, with a view to confiscation of them."

The estates met on the 5th of February. It was not without surprise that they found themselves less numerous than they had hitherto been. The deputies from the duchy of Burgundy, from the countships of Flanders and Alencon, and several nobles and burghers from other provinces, did not repair to the session. The kingdom was falling into anarchy; bands of plunderers roved hither and thither, threatening persons and ravaging lands; the magistrates either could not or would not exercise their authority; disquietude and disgust were gaining possession of many honest folks. Marcel and his partisans, having fallen into somewhat of disrepute and neglect, keenly felt how necessary, and also saw how easy, it was for them to become completely masters. They began by drawing up a series of propositions, which they had distributed and spread abroad far and wide in the provinces. On the 3d of March, they held a public meeting, at which the dauphin and his two brothers were present. A numerous throng filled the hall. The Bishop of Laon, Robert Lecoeq, the spokesman of the party, made a long and vehement statement of all the public grievances, and declared that twenty-two of the king's officers should be deprived forever of all offices, that all the officers of the kingdom should be provisionally suspended, and that reformers, chosen by the estates, and commissioned by the dauphin himself, should go all over France, to hold inquiries as to these officers, and, according to their deserts, either reinstate them in their offices or condemn them. At the same time, the estates bound themselves to raise thirty thousand men-at-arms, whom they themselves would pay and keep; and as the produce of the impost voted for this purpose was very uncertain, they demanded their adjournment to the fortnight of Easter, and two sessions certain, for which they should be free to fix the time, before the 15th of February in the following year. This was simply to decree the permanence of their power. To all these demands the dauphin offered no resistance. In the month of March following, a grand ordinance, drawn up in sixty-one articles, enumerated all the grievances which had been complained of, and prescribed the redress for them. A second ordinance, regulating all that appertained to the suspension of the royal officers, was likewise, as it appears, drawn up at the same time, but has not come down to us. At last a grand commission was appointed, composed of thirty-six members, twelve elected by each of the three orders. "These thirty-six persons," says Froissart, "were bound to often meet together at Paris, for to order the affairs of the kingdom, and all kinds of matters were to be disposed of by these three estates, and all prelates, all lords, and all commonalties of the cities and good towns were bound to be obedient to what these three estates should order." Having their power thus secured in their absence, the estates adjourned to the 25th of April.

The rumor of these events reached Bordeaux, where, since the defeat at Poitiers, King John had been living as the guest of the Prince of Wales, rather than as a prisoner of the English. Amidst the galas and pleasures to which he abandoned himself, he was indignant to learn that at Paris the royal authority was ignored, and he sent three of his comrades in captivity to notify to the Parisians that he rejected all the claims of the estates, that he would not have payment made of the subsidy voted by them, and that he forbade their meeting on the 25th of April following. This strange manifesto on the part of imprisoned royalty excited in Paris such irritation amongst the people, that the dauphin hastily sent out of the city the king's three envoys, whose lives might have been threatened, and declared to the thirty-six commissioners of the estates that the subsidy should be raised, and that the general assembly should be perfectly free to meet at the time it had appointed.

And it did meet towards the end of April, but in far fewer numbers than had been the case hitherto, and with more and more division from day to day. Nearly all the nobles and ecclesiastics were withdrawing from it; and amongst the burgesses themselves many of the more moderate spirits were becoming alarmed at the violent proceedings of the commission of the thirty-six delegates, who, under the direction of Stephen Marcel, were becoming a small oligarchy, little by little usurping the place of the great national assembly. A cry was raised in the provinces "against the injustice of those chief governors who were no more than ten or a dozen;" and there was a refusal to pay the subsidy voted. These symptoms and the disorganization which was coming to a head throughout the whole kingdom made the dauphin think that the moment had arrived for him to seize the reins again. About the middle of August, 1357, he sent for Marcel and three sheriffs, accustomed to direct matters at Paris, and let them know "that he intended thence-forward to govern by himself, without curators." He at the same time restored to office some of the lately dismissed royal officers. The thirty-six commissioners made a show of submission; and their most faithful ecclesiastical ally, Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon, returned to his diocese. The dauphin left Paris and went a trip into some of the provinces, halting at the principal towns, such as Rouen and Chartres, and everywhere, with intelligent but timid discretion, making his presence and his will felt, not very successfully, however, as regarded the re-establishment of some kind of order on his route in the name of the kingship.

Marcel and his partisans took advantage of his absence to shore up their tottering supremacy. They felt how important it was for them to have a fresh meeting of the estates, whose presence alone could restore strength to their commissioners; but the dauphin only could legally summon them. They, therefore, eagerly pressed him to return in person to Paris, giving him a promise that, if he agreed to convoke there the deputies from twenty or thirty towns, they would supply him with the money of which he was in need, and would say no more about the dismissal of royal officers, or about setting at liberty the king of Navarre. The dauphin, being still young and trustful, though he was already discreet and reserved, fell into the snare. He returned to Paris, and summoned thither, for the 7th of November following, the deputies from seventy towns, a sufficient number to give their meeting a specious resemblance to the states-general. One circumstance ought to have caused him some glimmering of suspicion. At the same time that the dauphin was sending to the deputies his letters of convocation, Marcel himself also sent to them, as if he possessed the right, either in his own name or in that of the thirty-six delegate-commissioners, of calling them together. But a still more serious matter came to open the dauphin's eyes to the danger he had fallen into. During the night between the 8th and 9th of November, 1357, immediately after the re-opening of the states, Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, was carried off by a surprise from the castle of Arleux in Cambresis, where he had been confined; and his liberators removed him first of all to Amiens and then to Paris itself, where the popular party gave him a triumphant reception. Marcel and his sheriffs had decided upon and prepared, at a private council, this dramatic incident, so contrary to the promises they had but lately made to the dauphin. Charles the Bad used his deliverance like a skilful workman; the very day after his arrival in Paris he mounted a platform set against the walls of St. Germain's abbey, and there, in the presence of more than ten thousand persons, burgesses and populace, he delivered a long speech, "seasoned with much venom," says a chronicler of the time. After having denounced the wrongs which he had been made to endure, he said, for eighteen months past, he declared that the would live and die in defence of the kingdom of France, giving it to be understood that "if he were minded to claim the crown, he would soon show by the laws of right and wrong that he was nearer to it than the King of England was." He was insinuating, eloquent, and an adept in the art of making truth subserve the cause of falsehood. The people were moved by his speech. The dauphin was obliged not only to put up with the release and the triumph of his most dangerous enemy, but to make an outward show of reconciliation with him, and to undertake not only to give him back the castles confiscated after his arrest, but "to act towards him as a good brother towards his brother." These were the exact words made use of in the dauphin's name, "and without having asked his pleasure about it," by Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon, who himself also had returned from his diocese to Paris at the time of the recall of the estates.

The consequences of this position were not slow to exhibit themselves. Whilst the King of Navarre was re-entering Paris and the dauphin submitting to the necessity of a reconciliation with him, several of the deputies who had but lately returned to the states-general, and amongst others nearly all those from Champagne and Burgundy, were going away again, being unwilling either to witness the triumphal re-entry of Charles the Bad or to share the responsibility for such acts as they foresaw. Before long the struggle, or rather the war, between the King of Navarre and the dauphin broke out again; several of the nobles in possession of the castles which were to have been restored to Charles the Bad, and especially those of Breteuil, Pacy-sur-Eure, and Pont-Audemer, flatly refused to give them back to him; and the dauphin was suspected, probably not without reason, of having encouraged them in their resistance. Without the walls of Paris it was really war that was going on between the two princes. Philip of Navarre, brother of Charles the Bad, went marching with bands of pillagers over Normandy and Anjou, and within a few leagues of Paris, declaring that he had not taken, and did not intend to take, any part in his brother's pacific arrangements, and carrying fire and sword all through the country. The peasantry from the ravaged districts were overflowing Paris. Stephen Marcel had no mind to reject the support which many of them brought him; but they had to be fed, and the treasury was empty. The wreck of the states-general, meeting on the 2d of January, 1358, themselves had recourse to the expedient which they had so often and so violently reproached the king and the dauphin with employing: they notably depreciated the coinage, allotting a fifth of the profit to the dauphin, and retaining the other four fifths for the defence of the kingdom. What Marcel and his party called the defence of the kingdom was the works of fortification round Paris, begun in October, 1356, against the English, after the defeat of Poitiers, and resumed in 1358 against the dauphin's party in the neighboring provinces, as well as against the robbers that were laying them waste. Amidst all this military and popular excitement the dauphin kept to the Louvre, having about him two thousand men-at-arms, whom he had taken into his pay, he said, solely "on account of the prospect of a war with the Navarrese." Before he went and plunged into a civil war outside the gates of Paris, he resolved to make an effort to win back the Parisians themselves to his cause. He sent a crier through the city to bid the people assemble in the market-place, and thither he repaired on horseback, on the 11th of January, with five or six of his most trusty servants. The astonished mob thronged about him, and he addressed them in vigorous language. He meant, he said, to live and die amongst the people of Paris; if he was collecting his men-at-arms, it was not for the purpose of plundering and oppressing Paris, but that he might march against their common enemies; and if he had not done so sooner, it was because "the folks who had taken the government gave him neither money nor arms; but they would some day be called to strict account for it." The dauphin was small, thin, delicate, and of insignificant appearance; but at this juncture he displayed unexpected boldness and eloquence; the people were deeply moved; and Marcel and his friends felt that a heavy blow had just been dealt them.

They hastened to respond with a blow of another sort. It was everywhere whispered abroad that if Paris was suffering so much from civil war and the irregularities and calamities which were the concomitants of it, the fault lay with the dauphin's surroundings, and that his noble advisers deterred him from measures which would save the people from their miseries.

"Provost Marcel and the burgesses of Paris took counsel together and decided that it would be a good thing if some of those attendants on the regent were to be taken away from the midst of this world. They all put on caps, red on one side and blue on the other, which they wore as a sign of their confederation in defence of the common weal. This done, they reassembled in large numbers on the 22d of February, 1358, with the provost at their head, and marched to the palace where the duke was lodged." This crowd encountered on its, way, in the street called Juiverie (Jewry), the advocate-general Regnault d'Aci, one of the twenty-two royal officers denounced by the estates in the preceding year; and he was massacred in a pastry-cook's shop. Marcel, continuing his road, arrived at the palace, and ascended, followed by a band of armed men, to the apartments of the dauphin, "whom he requested very sharply," says Froissart, "to restrain so many companies from roving about on all sides, damaging and plundering the country. The duke replied that he would do so willingly if he had the wherewithal to do it, but that it was for him who received the dues belonging to the kingdom to discharge that duty. I know not why or how," adds Froissart, "but words were multiplied on the part of all, and became very high." "My lord duke," suddenly said the provost, "do not alarm yourself; but we have somewhat to do here;" and turning towards his fellows in the caps, he said, "Dearly beloved, do that for the which ye are come." Immediately the Lord de Conflans, Marshal of Champagne, and Robert de Clermont, Marshal of Normandy, noble and valiant gentlemen, and both at the time unarmed, were massacred so close to the dauphin and his couch, that his robe was covered with their blood. The dauphin shuddered; and the rest of his officers fled. "Take no heed, lord duke," said Marcel; "you have nought to fear." He handed to the dauphin his own red and blue cap, and himself put on the dauphin's, which was of black stuff with golden fringe. The corpses of the two marshals were dragged into the court-yard of the palace, where they remained until evening without any one's daring to remove them; and Marcel with his fellows repaired to the mansion-house, and harangued from an open window the mob collected on the Place de Greve. "What has been done is for the good and the profit of the kingdom," said he; "the dead were false and wicked traitors." "We do own it, and will maintain it!" cried the people who were about him.

The house from which Marcel thus addressed the people was his own property, and was called the Pillar-house. There he accommodated the town-council, which had formerly held its sittings in divers parlors.

For a month after this triple murder, committed with such official parade, Marcel reigned dictator in Paris. He removed from the council of thirty-six deputies such members as he could not rely upon, and introduced his own confidants. He cited the council, thus modified, to express approval of the blow just struck; and the deputies, "some from conviction and others from doubt (that is, fear), answered that they believed that for what had been done there had been good and just cause." The King of Navarre was recalled from Nantes to Paris, and the dauphin was obliged to assign to him, in the king's name, "as a make-up for his losses," ten thousand livres a year on landed property in Languedoc. Such was the young prince's condition that, almost every day, he was reduced to the necessity of dining with his most dangerous and most hypocritical enemy. A man of family, devoted to the dauphin, who was now called regent, Philip de Repenti by name, lost his head on the 19th of March, 1358, on the market-place, for having attempted, with a few bold comrades, "to place the regent beyond the power and the reach of the people of Paris." Six days afterwards, however, on the 25th of March, the dauphin succeeded in escaping, and repaired first of all to Senlis, and then to Provins, where he found the estates of Champagne eager to welcome him. Marcel at once sent to Provins two deputies with instructions to bind over the three orders of Champagne "to be at one with them of Paris, and not to be astounded at what had been done." Before answering, the members of the estates withdrew into a garden to parley together, and sent to pray the regent to come and meet them. "My lord," said the Count de Braine to him in the name of the nobility, "did you ever suffer any harm or villany at the hands of De Conflans, Marshal of Champagne, for which he deserved to be put to death as he hath been by them of Paris?" The prince replied that he firmly held and believed that the said marshal and Robert de Clermont had well and loyally served and advised him. "My lord," replied the Count de Braine, "we Champagnese who are here do thank you for that which you have just said, and do desire you to do full justice on those who have put our friend to death without cause;" and they bound themselves to support him with their persons and their property, for the chastisement of them who had been the authors of the outrage.

The dauphin, with full trust in this manifestation and this promise, convoked at Compiegne, for the 4th of May, 1858, no longer the estates of Champagne only, but the states-general in their entirety, who, on separating at the close of their last session, had adjourned to the 1st of May following. The story of this fresh session, and of the events determined by it, is here reproduced textually, just as it has come down to us from the last continuer of the Chronicle of William of Nangis, the most favorable amongst all the chroniclers of the time to Stephen Marcel and the popular party in Paris. "All the deputies, and especially the friends of the nobles slain, did with one heart and one mind counsel the lord Charles, Duke of Normandy, to have the homicides stricken to death; and, if he could not do so by reason of the number of their defenders, they urged him to lay vigorous siege to the city of Paris, either with an armed force or by forbidding the entry of victuals thereinto, in such sort that it should understand and perceive for a certainty that the death of the provost of tradesmen and of his accomplices was intended. The said provost and those who, after the regent's departure, had taken the government of the city, clearly understood this intention, and they then implored the University of studies at Paris to send deputies to the said lord-regent, to humbly adjure him, in their name and in the name of the whole city, to banish from his heart the wrath he had conceived against their fellow-citizens, offering and promising, moreover, a suitable reparation for the offence, provided that the lives of the persons were spared. The University, concerned for the welfare of the city, sent several deputies of weight to treat about the matter. They were received by the lord Duke Charles and the other lords with great kindness; and they brought back word to Paris that the demand made at Compiegne was, that ten or a dozen, or even only five or six, of the men suspected of the crime lately committed at Paris should be sent to Compiegne, where there was no design of putting them to death, and, if this were done, the duke-regent would return to his old and intimate friendship with the Parisians. But Provost Marcel and his accomplices, who were afeard for themselves, did not believe that if they fell into the hands of the lord duke they could escape a terrible death, and they had no mind to run such a risk. Taking, therefore, a bold resolution, they desired to be treated as all the rest of the citizens, and to that end sent several deputations to the lord-regent either to Compiegne or to Meaux, whither he sometimes removed; but they got no gracious reply, and rather words of bitterness and threatening. Thereupon, being seized with alarm for their city, into the which the lord-regent and his noble comrades were so ardently desirous of re-entering, and being minded to put it out of reach from the peril which threatened it, they began to fortify themselves therein, to repair the walls, to deepen the ditches, to build new ramparts on the eastern side, and to throw up barriers at all the gates. . . . As they lacked a captain, they sent to Charles the Bad, King of Navarre, who was at that time in Normandy, and whom they knew to be freshly embroiled with the regent; and they requested him to come to Paris with a strong body of men-at-arms, and to be their captain there and their defender against all their foes, save the lord John, King of, France, a prisoner in England. The King of Navarre, with all his men, was received in state, on the 15th of June, by the Parisians, to the great indignation of the prince-regent, his friends, and many others. The nobles thereupon began to draw near to Paris, and to ride about in the fields of the neighborhood, prepared to fight if there should be a sortie from Paris to attack them. . . . On a certain day the besiegers came right up to the bridge of Charenton, as if to draw out the King of Navarre and the Parisians to battle. The King of Navarre issued forth, armed, with his men, and drawing near to the besiegers, had long conversations with them without fighting, and afterwards went back into Paris. At sight hereof the Parisians suspected that this king, who was himself a noble, was conspiring with the besiegers, and was preparing to deal some secret blow to the detriment of Paris; so they conceived mistrust of him and his, and stripped him of his office of captain. He went forth sore vexed from Paris, he and his; and the English especially, whom he had brought with him, insulted certain Parisians, whence it happened that before they were out of the city several of them were massacred by the folks of Paris, who afterwards confined themselves within their walls, carefully guarding the gates by day, and by night keeping up strong patrols on the ramparts."

Whilst Marcel inside Paris, where he reigned supreme, was a prey, on his own account and that of his besieged city, to these anxieties and perils, an event occurred outside which seemed to open to him a prospect of powerful aid, perhaps of decisive victory. Throughout several provinces the peasants, whose condition, sad and hard as it already was under the feudal system, had been still further aggravated by the outrages and irregularities of war, not finding any protection in their lords, and often being even oppressed by them as if they had been foes, had recourse to insurrection in order to escape from the evils which came down upon them every day and from every quarter.

They bore and would bear anything, it was said, and they got the name of Jacques Bonhomme (Jack Goodfellow); but this taunt they belied in a terrible manner. We will quote from the last continuer of William of Nangis, the least declamatory and the least confused of all the chroniclers of that period: "In this same year 1358," says he, "in the summer [the first rising took place on the 28th of May], the peasants in the neighborhood of St. Loup de Cerent and Clermont, in the diocese of Beauvais, took up arms against the nobles of France. They assembled in great numbers, set at their head a certain peasant named William Karle [or Cale, or Callet], of more intelligence than the rest, and marching by companies under their own flag, roamed over the country, slaying and massacring all the nobles they met, even their own lords. Not content with that, they demolished the houses and castles of the nobles; and, what is still more deplorable, they villanously put to death the noble dames and little children who fell into their hands; and afterwards they strutted about, they and their wives, bedizened with the garments they had stripped from their victims. The number of men who had thus risen amounted to five thousand, and the rising extended to the outskirts of Paris. They had begun it from sheer necessity and love of justice, for their lords oppressed instead of defending them; but before long they proceeded to the most hateful and criminal deeds. They took and destroyed from top to bottom the strong castle of Ermenonville, where they put to death a multitude of men and dames of noble family who had taken refuge there. For some time the nobles no longer went about as before; none of them durst set a foot outside the fortified places." Jacquery had taken the form of a fit of demagogic fury, and the Jacks [or Goodfellows] swarming out of their hovels were the terror of the castles.

Had Marcel provoked this bloody insurrection? There is strong presumption against him; many of his contemporaries say he had; and the dauphin himself wrote on the 30th of August, 1359, to the Count of Savoy, that one of the most heinous acts of Marcel and his partisans was exciting the folks of the open country in France, of Beauvaisis and Champagne, and other districts, against the nobles of the said kingdom; "whence so many evils have proceeded as no man should or could conceive." It is quite certain, however, that, the insurrection having once broken out, Marcel hastened to profit by it, and encouraged and even supported it at several points. Amongst other things he sent from Paris a body of three hundred men to the assistance of the peasants who were besieging the castle of Ermenonville. It is the due penalty paid by reformers who allow themselves to drift into revolution, that they become before long accomplices in mischief or crime which their original design and their own personal interest made it incumbent on them to prevent or repress.

The reaction against Jaequery was speedy and shockingly bloody. The nobles, the dauphin, and the King of Navarre, a prince and a noble at the same time that he was a scoundrel, made common cause against the Goodfellows, who were the more disorderly in proportion as they had become more numerous, and believed themselves more invincible. The ascendency of the masters over the rebels was soon too strong for resistance. At Meaux, of which the Goodfellows had obtained possession, they were surprised and massacred to the number, it is said, of seven thousand, with the town burning about their ears. In Beauvaisis, the King of Navarre, after having made a show of treating with their chieftain, William Karle or Callet, got possession of him, and had him beheaded, wearing a trivet of red-hot iron, says one of the chroniclers, by way of crown. He then moved upon a camp of Goodfellows assembled near Montdidier, slew three thousand of them, and dispersed the remainder. These figures are probably very much exaggerated, as nearly always happens in such accounts; but the continuer of William of Nangis, so justly severe on the outrages and barbarities of the insurgent peasants, is not less so on those of their conquerors. "The nobles of France," he says, "committed at that time such ravages in the district of Meaux that there was no need for the English to come and destroy our country those mortal enemies of the kingdom could not have done what was done by the nobles at home."

Marcel from that moment perceived that his cause was lost, and no longer dreamed of anything but saving himself and his, at any price; "for he thought," says Froissart, "that it paid better to slay than to be slain." Although he had more than once experienced the disloyalty of the King of Navarre, he entered into fresh negotiation with him, hoping to use him as an intermediary between himself and the dauphin, in order to obtain either an acceptable peace or guarantees for his own security in case of extreme danger. The King of Navarre lent a ready ear to these overtures; he had no scruple about negotiating with this or that individual, this or that party, flattering himself that he would make one or the other useful for his own purposes. Marcel had no difficulty in discovering that the real design of the King of Navarre was to set aside the house of Valois and the Plantagenets together, and to become King of France himself, as a descendant, in his own person, of St. Louis, though one degree more remote. An understanding was renewed between the two, such as it is possible to have between two personal interests fundamentally different, but capable of being for the moment mutually helpful. Marcel, under pretext of defence against the besiegers, admitted into Paris a pretty large number of English in the pay of the King of Navarre. Before long, quarrels arose between the Parisians and these unpopular foreigners; on the 21st of July, 1358, during one of these quarrels, twenty-four English were massacred by the people; and four hundred others, it is said, were in danger of undergoing the same fate, when Marcel came up and succeeded in saving their lives by having them imprisoned in the Louvre. The quarrel grew hotter and spread farther. The people of Paris went and attacked other mercenaries of the King of Navarre, chiefly English, who were occupying St. Denis and St. Cloud. The Parisians were beaten; and the King of Navarre withdrew to St. Denis. On the 27th of July, Marcel boldly resolved to set at liberty and send over to him the four hundred English imprisoned in the Louvre. He had them let out, accordingly, and himself escorted them as far as the gate St. Honore, in the midst of a throng that made no movement for all its irritation. Some of Marcel's satellites who formed the escort cried out as they went, "Has anybody aught to say against the setting of these prisoners at liberty?" The Parisians remembered their late reverse, and not a voice was raised. "Strongly moved as the people of Paris were in their hearts against the provost of tradesmen," says a contemporary chronicle, "there was not a man who durst commence a riot."

Marcel's position became day by day more critical. The dauphin, encamped with his army around Paris, was keeping up secret but very active communications with it; and a party, numerous and already growing in popularity, was being formed there in his favor. Men of note, who were lately Marcel's comrades, were now pronouncing against him; and John Maillart, one of the four chosen captains of the municipal forces, was the most vigilant. Marcel, at his wit's end, made an offer to the King of Navarre to deliver Paris up to him on the night between the 31st of July and the 1st of August. All was ready for carrying out this design. During the day of the 31st of July, Marcel would have changed the keepers of the St. Denis gate, but Maillart opposed him, rushed to the Hotel de Ville, seized the banner of France, jumped on horseback and rode through the city shouting, "Mountjoy St. Denis, for the king and the duke!" This was the rallying-cry of the dauphin's partisans. The day ended with a great riot amongst the people. Towards eleven o'clock at night Marcel, followed by his people armed from head to foot, made his way to the St. Anthony gate, holding in his hands, it is said, the keys of the city. Whilst he was there, waiting for the arrival of the King of Navarre's men, Maillart came up "with torches and lanterns and a numerous assemblage. He went straight to the provost and said to him, 'Stephen, Stephen, what do you here at this hour?' 'John, what business have you to meddle? I am here to take the guard of the city of which I have the government.' 'By God,' rejoined Maillart, 'that will not do; you are not here at this hour for any good, and I'll prove it to you,' said he, addressing his comrades. 'See, he holds in his hands the keys of the gates, to betray the city.'"

"'You lie, John,' said Marcel. 'By God, you traitor, 'tis you who lie,' replied Maillart: 'death! death! to all on his side!' "And he raised his battle-axe against Marcel. Philippe Giffard, one of the provost's friends, threw himself before Marcel and covered him for a moment with his own body; but the struggle had begun in earnest. Maillart plied his battle-axe upon Marcel, who fell pierced with many wounds. Six of his comrades shared the same fate; and Robert Lecocq, Bishop of Laon, saved himself by putting on a Cordelier's habit. Maillart's company divided themselves into several bands, and spread themselves all over the city, carrying the news everywhere, and despatching or arresting the partisans of Marcel. The next morning, the 1st of August, 1358, "John Maillart brought together in the market-place the greater part of the community of Paris, explained for what reason he had slain the provost of tradesmen and in what offence he had detected him, and pointed out quietly and discreetly how that on this very night the city of Paris must have been overrun and destroyed if God of His grace had not applied a remedy. When the people who were present heard these news they were much astounded at the peril in which they had been, and the greater part thanked God with folded hands for the grace He had done them." The corpse of Stephen Marcel was stripped and exposed quite naked to the public gaze, in front of St. Catherine du Val des Beoliers, on the very spot where, by his orders, the corpses of the two marshals, Robert de Clermont and John de Conflans, had been exposed five months before. He was afterwards cast into the river in the presence of a great concourse. "Then were sentenced to death by the council of prud'hommes of Paris, and executed by divers forms of deadly torture, several who had been of the sect of the provost," the regent having declared that he would not re-enter Paris until these traitors had ceased to live.

Thus perished, after scarcely three years' political life, and by the hands of his former friends, a man of rare capacity and energy, who at the outset had formed none but patriotic designs, and had, no doubt, promised himself a better fate. When, in December, 1355, at the summons of a deplorably incapable and feeble king, Marcel, a simple burgher of Paris and quite a new man, entered the assembly of the states-general of France, itself quite a new power, he was justly struck with the vices and abuses of the kingly government, with the evils and the dangers being entailed thereby upon France, and with the necessity for applying some remedy. But, notwithstanding this perfectly honest and sound conviction, he fell into a capital error; he tried to abolish, for a time at least, the government he desired to reform, and to substitute for the kingship and its agents the people and their elect. For more than three centuries the kingship had been the form of power which had naturally assumed shape and development in France, whilst seconding the natural labor attending the formation and development of the French nation; but this labor had as yet advanced but a little way, and the nascent nation was not in a condition to take up position at the head of its government. Stephen Marcel attempted by means of the states-general of the fourteenth century to bring to pass what we in the nineteenth, and after all the advances of the French nation, have not yet succeeded in getting accomplished, to wit, the government of the country by the country itself. Marcel, going from excess to excess and from reverse to reverse in the pursuit of his impracticable enterprise, found himself before long engaged in a fierce struggle with the feudal aristocracy, still so powerful at that time, as well as with the kingship. Being reduced to depend entirely during this struggle upon such strength as could be supplied by a municipal democracy incoherent, inexperienced, and full of divisions in its own ranks, and by a mad insurrection in the country districts, he rapidly fell into the selfish and criminal condition of the man whose special concern is his own personal safety. This he sought to secure by an unworthy alliance with the most scoundrelly amongst his ambitious contemporaries, and he would have given up his own city as well as France to the King of Navarre and the English had not another burgher of Paris, John Maillart, stopped him, and put him to death at the very moment when the patriot of the states-general of 1355 was about to become a traitor to his country. Hardly thirteen years before, when Stephen Marcel was already a full-grown man, the great Flemish burgher, James Van Artevelde, had, in the cause of his country's liberties, attempted a similar enterprise, and, after a series of great deeds at the outset and then of faults also similar to those of Marcel, had fallen into the same abyss, and had perished by the hand of his fellow-citizens, at the very moment when he was laboring to put Flanders, his native country, into the hands of a foreign master, the Prince of Wales, son of Edward III., King of England. Of all political snares the democratic is the most tempting, but it is also the most demoralizing and the most deceptive when, instead of consulting the interests of the democracy by securing public liberties, a man aspires to put it in direct possession of the supreme power, and with its sole support to take upon himself the direction of the helm.

One single result of importance was won for France by the states-general of the fourteenth century, namely, the principle of the nation's right to intervene in their own affairs, and to set their government straight when it had gone wrong or was incapable of performing that duty itself. Up to that time, in the thirteenth century and at the opening of the fourteenth, the states-general had been hardly anything more than a temporary expedient employed by the kingship itself to solve some special question, or to escape from some grave embarrassment. Starting from King John, the states-general became one of the principles of national right; a principle which did not disappear even when it remained without application, and the prestige of which survived even its reverses. Faith and hope fill a prominent place in the lives of peoples as well as of individuals; having sprung into real existence in 1355, the states-general of France found themselves alive again in 1789; and we may hope that, after so long a trial, their rebuffs and their mistakes will not be more fatal to them in our day.

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