J. J. (Jean Jules) Jusserand.

The romance of a king's life, by J.J. Jusserand; online

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Online LibraryJ. J. (Jean Jules) JusserandThe romance of a king's life, by J.J. Jusserand; → online text (page 1 of 5)
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English 'Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages
(XlVth Century).

The English Novel in the Time of Shake-

A French Ambassador at the Court of Charles

Piers Plowman, 1362-1398.

A Literary History of the English People,
from the Origins to the Renaissance.

English Essays, from a French Pen.

Cfje Bomame


a lyings Htfe






\_All rights reserved.']

Alas for the woful thing
That a poet true and a friend of man
In desperate days of bale and ban

Should needs be born a king.





. 22


. 36

. 56

. 78


II. The Truce between England and
Scotland, 1404-5 . . .84

III. King James's Poems . . 86





II. .




IV. .



VI. .







I. The Wild Scots



IV. James's Treaties with Norway and
Holland . . . .89

V. Some of King James's Laws . 90

VI. A Fight between Highlanders . 92

VII. The Pastimes of James I. . 93

VIII. Concerning Carthusians . . 94

IX. ^neas Sylvius's Impressions of Scot-
land .... 95

X. Journey of ^neas Sylvius to Scotland 97
Xr. Alain Chartier's Speech to James I. . 99

XII. Regnault Girard at Sea . . 100

XIII. Regnault Girard leaves Scotland — A
Farewell Banquet and an Exchange

of Gifts . . . .103

XIV. Death of Margaret, daughter of James

I., Dauphiness of France . . 105

XV. The "Bar-lass" . . .106

XVI. The Death of James I. . . 107


iEneas Sylvius Piccolomini, before James I. of
Scotland, a fancy picture by Pinturicchio
in the Library of the Sienna Cathedral. It
makes part of a series of frescoes by the
same, representing the principal events in
the life of -^neas Sylvius, afterwards Pope
Pius II. It was painted by order of Francis
Piccolomini, nephew of Pius II., after-
wards Pope Pius III. . . Frontispiece

Ruins of the Castle at St. Andrews To face page i6

A fifteenth-century representation of the star-
goddess Venus ; from MS. Harl., 4431,
works of Christine de Pisan : " Venus est
pianette ou ciel que les pa'iens jadis appelc-
rent deesse d'amours," fol. 102 To face page 31

The Wheel of Fortune, from the same MS,

fol. 131 . . To face page 33

Ruins of Inchcolm. There lived Walter
Bower, the principal chronicler of the
time of James I. He fortified the place


to be able to withstand the attacks of the
English pirates . . To face page 45

The Castle of Tantallon, by Turner, from
" Provincial Antiquities and Picturesque
Scenery of Scotland, with Descriptive
Illustrations by Sir Walter Scott." London
and Edinburgh, 1826 . To face page 46

Linlithgow (partly built by James L), from the
"Theatruni Scotiae, containing the pro-
spects of their Majesties Castles." By
John Sle'/.er, London, 1693, fol.

lo face page 48

The Porch of Whitekirk, Haddington .

To face page 53

Dumbarton, from the "Theatrum Scotise, con-
taining the prospects of their Majesties
Castles." By John Slezer, London, 1693,
fol. . . . To face page 64

^ OING northwards, the landscape changes,
meadows disappear, trees become scarcer,
the sun grows dimmer. England leaves the
impression of a huge park with rich verdure ;
Scotland the impression of a boundless moor
covered as far as eye can see with heather.
Beeches and larches thinly scattered on the edge
of the streams project their irregular outlines
against the dark background of the mountains.
In those still solitudes, the clouds alone pursue
their silent march across the sky ; the wind
sunders them, rolls them into flakes ; they lower,
halt on the hill-side, and seem to catch in the
thorns ; then free themselves, float lightly off,
and are lost in the moving mass.

No sound, save the sound of waters ; the
brooks fall in cascades or quiver along the slopes ;
no song but the cawing of crows, gathered in


great bands, unscared by the passing of the
traveller ; they look without stirring, and the
most they do is to cease their chatter ; they are
at home and on their own ground, the passer-by
is the intruder. Winter soon comes with its
long nights ; a few hours after noon the shadows
lengthen, colder grows the air, darkness enshrouds
the moor, the pathway, the larches, and hardly
allows the traveller to see the light of the distant
hovel, marked out for the night's rest.

Dwellings are few and poor, built of irregular
stones without any mortar coating, and roofed in
with heather. Heather is the great friend ; with-
out it human life would cease on the hills of
Scotland ; it gives the clear flame that warms the
hearth and lights the house, it forms the roof of
the abode, it affords material for the family couch
and the guest's bed ; its pink blossoms wrap the
landscape in beauty. Four walls of stone, and
a roof peaked on account of the snow, such is the
habitation ; oatmeal cakes, fish dried under the
chimney-board, such is the food ; the skin of a
long-haired calf spread on the clay floor, such is

In these bare regions, beyond the lochs now
united by the Caledonian Canal, a land which
used to be known only by hearsay in Europe,
lived once what chroniclers called the " Wild

A king's life. 13

Scottis," or catervani^ as they termed them
in their barbarous Latin. The race was a
proud and hardy one, delighting in dangers ; the
men were soldiers, fishers, seamen ; a deep feeling
of wondrous strength filled their breasts, the love
of their tribe ; other sentiments had less hold
on them ; the chief of the clan was to them the
incarnation of religion, country, and family, and
the chief acknowledged no master but God. No
law existed for those chiefs save that they made ;
the royal laws were in their eyes foreign ones ;
and it had ever been so. The Romans, masters
of the world, had given up trying to subdue the
people of Scotland, and in order not to draw back
themselves, had built in the north of England
the two famous walls going from one sea to the

Through all the Middle Ages, the Scotch
remain the same. " They had as lief die," writes
of them Bartholomew the Englishman, " as be
in slavery, and say it is shameful to die in one's
bed. . . . Not often do they eat before the going
down of the sun. . . . And are an extremely
handsome people both in body and visage, but
wear a garb that does not make them look well."
Those who dwell near the border have left ofT
this garb ; but " the wild Scots who live in the
woods take pride in keeping to their ancient


customs, in dress, in speech, and in their manner
of life. . . . The Scots do not love peace." ^

Thus, of all the hard trades plied in the rude
Scotland of yore, the hardest was kingscraft. On
the frontier, a truceless war ; the Roman walls
have crumbled, and armies battle on their ruins ;
within the frontier, the continual revolts, and the
fratricidal strife of the catervani ; one single ally,
distant France.

Over this land and this people reigned, in 1402,
Robert III. Stuart. A strange doom rested on
his race. The genius of the family, angel and
demon by turns, appeared on birthdays to lay
within the cradle crowns of gold, of flowers, or
of laurel ; and the infant grew up brave and fair,
a peerless poet, a lover of art, a sturdy soldier, to
perish by the dagger, to mount the steps of the
scaffold, or to die forgotten in the dismal palace
of St. Germain in France.

The ramily had early a foreboding of its fate,
and strove to appease the oracle. Robert III. in
reality bore the name of John ; but it was an ill-
omened one for a king, as had been seen with
John of France, John of England, John of
Bohemia, and John of Scotland, When the
hour came for him to reign, he took the name of
Robert ; but who can out-wit Fate ? All called

' See Appendix I.

A king's life. 15

him Robert, but Fate knew him as John of
Scotland, second of the name ; strange misfor-
tunes awaited him, a yet stranger fate awaited
his son.


JAMES, son of Robert, was, in 1402, sole heir
to the old king. His life's tragedy had begun
early ; he was only a boy when his elder brother
David, Duke of Rothesay, suffered imprisonment
at the hands of his uncle Robert Stuart, Duke of
Albany, who, it was rumoured, allowed the young
prince to die of hunger. James was sent, for his
early education, to Bishop Wardlaw, in the learned
and godly town of St. Andrews, and he lived for
a while in the episcopal castle, now a shapeless
ruin on a rocky headland, by the sea shore. The
child was in safety ; but the king, always in fear
concerning the fate of the Stuarts, provoked
Destiny anew while trying to baffle her decrees.
He bethought himself of a better place to keep
the boy than St. Andrews, distant France ;
there James would be secure from danger, would
study letters, and become an accomplished

r,- I . I

I I. !

*•, J


t'"^ '.""4; - 1 ,' 1^ r i\;'^^ss. xJl


The royal child put out to sea in the spring
of 1405 ; it was a long journey. Froissart has
told us how tedious time appeared on the ships
of that period : the passengers used to play dice
and make bets ; by way of diverting his com-
panions a knight offered to climb in full armour
to the top of the mast, his foot slipped, he fell
into the sea, and he sank like a stone as may
well be believed, which was a great pity. An
unforeseen event shortened James's crossing ; as
his vessel was passing off Flamborough Head,
English sailors, warned it is thought by the
traitor Albany, attacked the ship and carried
away the passengers prisoners. The boarding
took place on Palm Sunday, April 12, 1405 :

This ilke schip sone takyn v\xs
Ewyn upon the Palm sonday
Before Pasch that fallis ay.

So says the contemporary chronicler, Andrew
of Wyntoun. It was a time of peace ; ^ but was
there ever real peace with Scotland? Henry IV.
reigned at Westminster Palace ; a self-willed and
unscrupulous prince, he deemed that what was
good to take was good to keep ; he had applied
this maxim to the kingdom of England, and

' Appendix II.


acting upon it had deposed, imprisoned, and put
to death his predecessor and cousin, Richard II.
He therefore did not hesitate to send James to
the Tower, and was so little troubled in his
conscience that the only remark the event
elicited from him was : " If the Scotch had
been good people they would have sent me this
young man to teach, for I too know French very
well." I A captivity of eighteen years began
for the heir of the Stuarts.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage ;

the mind of the child fast growing to man-
hood was never captive. Behind the thick walls
of the Tower, built in former times by the
Conqueror, he studied ; guards watched over
him, but his spirit was afar, and journeyed in
the realms of poetry. Thus he visited in his
imaginary travels, heavy books on his knee, by
the light of his casement, the famous fields where
the deeds of the Romans were performed ; he
went to the plain of Troy, and beheld what
was then to be seen there, knights in armour
slaying each other for the love of Helens in

' " Certe si grati fuerint Scoti, hunc misissent mihi juvenem
instituendum, nam et idioma Francias ego novi." Walsingham,
" Historia Anglicana," Rolls, ii. p. 273.


cornets. The noble senator Boethius taught
him resignation ; Guillaume de Lorris took his
hand and led him to the Garden of the Rose ;
illustrious Chaucer beckoned him to join, on the
Canterbury road, the noisy troop of his pilgrims ;
sober Gower, announcing beforehand a sermon of
several hours, begged him to be seated, and to
the sound of his wise words the child, with his
head thrown back on the window-sill, quietly

Thus passed the years, and the main change
they brought was a change of prison ; after
the Tower the keep of Nottingham, another
Norman citadel ; then Evesham, then the Tower
again at the accession of Henry V., Windsor
Castle, the Tower once more, Kenilworth,
Pontefract, and other fortresses.

From time to time came tidings from abroad,
mostly evil ones ; fate continued adverse to the
prisoner. Then dark hours began for him ;
"Bel Accueil" smiled in vain; the mirth of
the Canterbury pilgrims was no longer catching ;
the Trojan war lost its fascination ; the boy
dreamed of other wars.

Fortune did not tire of befriending the English ;
they now had a whole " treasury " of prisoners
representing every hostile nation. There were,
besides James of Scotland, Gruffyd, son of the


famous Welsh rebel Owen Glendower, as the
English called him, unable to pronounce his real
name of Glyndyfrdwy ; Murdoch Stuart, Earl of
Fife, another Scot, son of Albany, and who had
preceded James at the Tower, having been made
prisoner at Homildon Hill ; and finally, the
princely poet, Charles of Orleans, who came in
14 1 5 to tell the other captives of the disaster at
Agincourt. Fortune continued to be opposed to
France and her ally ; the epos of the " Bonne
Lorraine " had not yet begun.

Sadder than all others were the tidings from
Scotland. On hearing of his son's misfortune,
the old king had been seized with so deep a grier
that he declined from day to day. He refused at
last all food, and died on Palm Sunday, 1406, the
anniversary of his sorrow. ^ He had requested to
have graven on his tomb : " Here lies the worst

' A thousand and four hundyr yere
To tha the sext all reknyt clere,
Sanct Ambrose fest in till Aprile
The ferd day fallis, bot in that quhile
That fest fell on Palm Sunday,
The quhilke before Pasch fallis ay,
Robert the Thrid, oure Lord the King,
Maid at Dundownald his endyng.

Andrew of Wyntoun, " Orygynale Cronykil," ed. Laing, vol. iii.
p. 98. As Andrew states it, the feast of St. Ambrose and Palm
Sunday happened on the same day, April 4, in the year 1406,


of kings and the unhappiest of men." ' Vate had
never forgotten that Robert III. was in truth
John of Scotland. At the king's death, the
traitor Albany had become regent. He despatched
occasional embassies to England for the deliverance
of his nephew^ ; the envoys alvv^ays failed in their
mission, and w^ere no less favourably looked upon
by their master. He also sent missions for the
liberation of his son Murdoch, but these met
with better success ; Murdoch returned to his
own land, leaving James a prisoner, a fact kept
in mind by the youthful prince, in whom began
to stir the vengeful spirit of the Stuarts.

' " . . . Ut scribatis pro meo epitaphio : Hie jacet pessimus
rex et miserrirmis hominum in universe regno." Bovver, in his
continuation of Forrlun's " Scotichronicon," 1759, vol. ii. p. 441.


TDOETS have celebrated in their epic tales,
illuminators have painted in their gold-
adorned miniatures, the prisoner of w^ar, confined
in a dungeon on the banks of the Thames or
the Rhone, in the Tourer of London or at
Beaucaire, or in the land of poetry and dreams.
The captive leans sadly out of the narrow^ window
of his cell ; he sees the silent river flow ; he hears
the clash of lances and of armour ; military bands
are starting on an expedition ; then, again, it is
spring time and dawn ; flowers bathed in dew
turn towards the rising sun ; birds carol in the
groves at the foot of the tower ; and here comes
through the wet grass, blithe as the birds, fresh
as the flowers, or pensive sometimes and full of
thoughts, the maiden seen in dreams, the giver of
joy or sorrow. Beholding his vision realised, the
prisoner doubts whether he be awake or asleep.
The maiden treads the paths, stoops to pluck the
flowers, sits in the shade of the trees while the
sun mounts ; in her tuni she dreams.


She is called Nicolette in the tale of Aucassin,
Emily in Chaucer's "Knight's Tale," she was
called Jane Beaufort in the romance of real life
lived by James of Scotland.

Jane belonged, as did the prisoner, to a race of
tragic destinies, the Somersets, a branch of the
royal family of Lancaster, the chief scions of
which were, for over a hundred years, slain in
war or beheaded for high treason. Jane's brother
fell on the field of St. Albans, two of her nephews
perished on the scaffold, the third was killed at
Tewkesbury ; one of her grand-nephews won the
battle of Bosworth and became King Henry VII.

She appeared one day under the walls of
James's prison, young and fair as a heroine of
romance, with an air both gentle and resolute.
The prince saw her from his window, coming as
the maidens in miniatures to gather flowers in the
dew, at the foot of the gloomy walls. Never
had James seen anything so charming save in
imagination, while turning the pages of his
favourite Chaucer. Youth stood before him.
Beauty, and all the wondrous beings with which
the authors of that time liked to people their
palaces of love. James became enamoured, made
his passion known, had the joy of seeing it
shared ; he sana; it.


T IKE most of the Stuarts, the captive king
was a poet. He was also a musician, an
artist, an excellent horseman and tennis-player ;
he was skilful in all things. After he knew
Jane Beaufort, love gilded the bars of his prison,
and life changed its aspect ; the world for him
was an immense parterre where Jane gathered
flowers, the rest was non-existent ; the abstrac-
tions of the Garden of the Rose took shape in
his eyes, his soul was no longer lonely, he con-
versed with Bel Accueil, he defended himself
against Male-Bouche, he took counsel of Venus
and of Minerva ; the fancies of rhymers were no
longer fancies to him, books of love no longer
poetic pastimes ; the rose of love was no longer
an allegory ; his rose was a living rose, with
bright eyes, scarlet lips, and a heart that beat ;
she had a name and a rank in the world ; James
loved Jane Beaufort.



He sang Jane Beaufort. He sang her accord-
ing to the fashion of the day, in musical and
delightful verses, verses full of birds and flowers,
where we seem continually to hear the flutter
of wings, where the branches rustle softly in
the morning breeze, where spring-tide sets the
seal of youth on brow and heart. Jane is repre-
sented in the " Kingis Quair " ^ like a figure in
a manuscript, slight, tall, graceful ; and — love
works these marvels — after four hundred years
she has not been frozen by death ; her hands
retain their warmth.

But how differently were told, in a style
peculiar to the period, joys and sorrows like unto
ours !

Heigh in the hevynnis figure circulete
The rody sterres tvvynklyng as the fyre ;

And, in Aquary, Cynthia the clere

Rynsid hir tressis like gold in wyre . . .

in other words it was night. Instead of sleeping
the poet-king mused ; he recalled his woes,
he thought of his country, and of that persistent
enmity of Fate which, after so many years, con-
tinued to keep him away from his own hearth.
He opened a book, the book opened by all

' "The Kingis

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Online LibraryJ. J. (Jean Jules) JusserandThe romance of a king's life, by J.J. Jusserand; → online text (page 1 of 5)