his capital, believing himself lost if he did not re-enter it.
He arrived at Monthery in the morning of July 16, and there
found the Burgundians, who blocked his way. Forced to
fight, the king made a vigorous attack. He charged and
dismounted the Count of St. Pol, who was in front. The
Bold with the bulk of his army in his turn charged one
wing of the king's forces, put it to rout, and pursued it to
within a half league of Monthery. Thus each party was
half victorious, half defeated ; but the end of Louis was
attained : he had entered Paris. There he was shut in by
50,000 men. Before this army had closed all the issues the
king departed August 10 for Normandy, and returned
August 28 with 12,000 men, 60 wagons of powder, 700
muids of flour,* and provisions of all sorts. Then he went to
take the oriflamb from St. Denis and pretended that he
wished to attack while in reality desirous only to keep on
Although Louis XI. was personally very brave on the field
* The muid (Latin modius) was a measure introduced by Charlemagne
of very varying quantity, but in 1465 equivalent to 41^ bushels. ED.
CHAP. II.] FRANCE FROM 1453 TO 1494. 13
of battle his favorite combats were those of the mind, of
finesse and ruse. Humble in speech and attire, giving
much, but promising far more, buying or buying back
without bargaining those whom he needed, and holding none
in resentment for the past, he was sure of attaching to him-
self many of those princes and lords who had so much dif-
ficulty in living together. So he negotiated and parleyed
incessantly. Many of the conspirators had already offered
to sell their allegiance : the Count of Armagnac for money,
the Duke of Nemours for lands, the Count of St. Pol for the
sword of Constable of France, others for pensions or com-
mands. Nothing was refused. By his diplomacy the king
saw the league already dissolved, and the dukes of Brit-
tany and Burgundy isolated and perhaps enemies.
Unhappily Louis XI. could not be everywhere at once.
He was powerless against desertions and distant treasons,
of which many were taking place. Pontoise was delivered
up by its governor, Rouen likewise ; then Evreux, Caen,
Beauvais, Peronne, declared for the princes. The king
hastened to finish. He granted everything they wanted :
to his brother the Duke of Berry, Normandy ; to the Duke
of Burgundy, Bologne, Guines, Roye, Montdidier, Peronne,
cities of the Somme ; to the Count of Charolais, Ponthieu ;
to the Duke of Brittany, exemption from appeals to Parlia-
ment, direct nomination of bishops, and exemption from
feudal dues in a word a petty independent royalty ; to the
Duke of Lorraine, the march of Champagne without obliga-
tion of homage, Mouzon, St. Menehould, Neufchateau,
30,000 crowns in ready money ; to the dukes of Bourbon
and Nemours, to the counts of Armagnac, of Dunois, of
Dammartin, to the Sire d'Albret and to very many more,
lands and enormous pensions, without counting promises
for the future. As to the public welfare, nobody spoke of
it ; no one had seriously thought about it.
Such a treaty strictly executed would have been the ruin
of the royalty and of France. But one could be sure that
Louis XI. would not execute it if there were possibility of
doing otherwise ; already Parliament, supple to his hand,
refused its registration.
The cession of Normandy was especially dangerous, inas-
much as by means of this province the dominions of the
dukes of Brittany and Burgundy touched each other, and
all the coasts from Nantes to Dunkirk were open to the
14 REVOLUTION IN THE POLITICAL ORDER. [BOOK I.
English. From the first day Louis pondered the means of
retaking it. To accomplish this it was necessary that the
Bold, who became duke in 1467, but who reigned in fact
from 1465, should be diverted from the affairs of France.
Louis easily found means to occupy him at home : three
insurrections burst out at once, at Liege, Dinant, and Ghent.
While the Bold hastened thither the king sent 120,000 gold
crowns to the Duke of Brittany, which decided him to keep
quiet, and he himself entered Normandy. Evreux, Vernon,
Louviers, Rouen, opened their gates. In a few weeks the
entire province was in his hands, and Charolais could do noth-
ing more than write to the king very humbly in favor of his
former ally. Neither were the chiefs of the other houses
more aggressive. One after the other they had been gained
or made neutral by the king. He had attached to himself
the house of Bourbon by giving to Duke John a whole
kingdom to govern in the south of France (Berry, Orleans,
Limousin, Perigord, Quercy, Rouergue, Languedoc) ; to
the brother of the duke, Pierre de Beaujeu, his daughter
Anne in marriage ; to the bastard of Bourbon, the title of
Admiral of France, and the command of Honfleur. He had
gained the house of Anjou by giving 120,000 livres to John
of Calabria, the son of Rene ; the house of Orleans, by
attaching to himself the aged Dunois, the hero of the Eng-
lish wars ; and finally the Count of St. Pol, the companion
and the friend from childhood of the Bold, by making him
Nobody, therefore, thought of disputing Normandy with
the king. The Bold was solitary, and however great his
power, could do nothing, being alone. But he formed an
alliance with Edward IV., the King of England, and suc-
ceeded in bringing to him the Duke of Brittany, who also
called the English to his aid, and offered them as guarantee
of his fidelity twelve strongholds in his duchy, whichever
In face of this new peril Louis appealed to the opinion of
France. April 6, 1468, he convoked at Tours the States
General of the kingdom and simply asked them if they
were willing that Normandy should cease to continue a part
of the crown domains. The States replied " that according
to the laws the brother of the king should have been con-
tent with an appanage of 12,000 livres income, and that
since the king was generous enough to give him 60,000 he
CHAP. II.] FRANCE FROM 1453 TO 1494. *5
ought to be grateful for it." Louis solemnly sent this
decision to the Duke of Burgundy, who received the deputies
in a harsh manner. Meanwhile he crushed the Duke of
Brittany, and by the rapidity of his blows forced him to
treat in Ancenis before the Duke of Burgundy, who was
collecting his troops at Peronne, was able to aid him.
Then the king, disembarrassed of the Bretons, and hav-
ing at his orders an excellent army and superior artillery,
could apparently have treated the Duke of Burgundy with
little mercy ; but at Portsmouth there was an English fleet
and army ready to cross. King Edward had publicly
announced to his Parliament his approaching descent into
France ; this, above all, Louis XI. desired to prevent.
The best means of preventing it was by treating also
with the Bold. Counting upon his adroitness, Louis wished
to conduct the negotiations himself, and went to find the
duke at Peronne. This was a great imprudence despite
the safe conduct which he had obtained before putting
himself in the hands of his enemy, for the princes of that
age were not greatly in the habit of keeping their word,
and he least of all.
For a long time Louis had emissaries at Liege, a turbu-
lent city situated outside the states of Burgundy, and
depending only on its bishop ; but this bishop, Louis of
Bourbon, having placed himself under the protection of the
duke, every revolt against him seemed a revolt against the
duke himself. Now at the time while Louis was proceed-
ing toward Peronne an insurrection broke out at Liege,
and he was already conferring with the Bold when the
news arrived that the citizens of Liege had put their bishop
in prison and had massacred many canons. Charles
became infuriated in consequence, accused the king of
treason, and shut him up in the castle of Peronne, where
Charles the Simple had already died in captivity. Louis
did not go free till after having signed a ruinous and
humiliating treaty. He promised to yield Champagne to
his brother, which brought the Burgundians without strik-
ing a blow to the gates of Paris, and agreed to accompany
the duke against Liege. That unhappy city, whose inhab-
itants were fighting with " Long live the king " upon their
lips, was sacked (1468).
For Louis XI. and for Charles the Bold the treaty of
Peronne marks the point of departure of new conduct.
1 6 REVOLUTION IN THE POLITICAL ORDER. [BOOK I.
For the first it was the last of his mistakes, for the sec-
ond the commencement of dreams and of unattainable
enterprises. While the King of France, trusting no one
because he had been deceived by all, now 'refused every
risk, even when he had two chances to one, the Duke of
Burgundy by a contrary effect believed nothing above his
strength, inasmuch as he saw nothing above his hopes.
It was necessary for Louis to regain the lost ground.
He made his brother Charles accept Guyenne instead of
Ambition and ^ nani P a g n e, which would so well have suited
death of the the Duke of Burgundy. The Duke of Brit-
gumfy (M77) Bur tan y was compelled once more to renounce
any foreign alliance ; to hold him more firmly
Louis purchased his favorite Lescun, attached to himself
the powerful Breton family of Rohan, and afterward caused
those rights to be ceded to him which the house of Blois
claimed to possess in Brittany. Two traitors, the Cardinal
la Balue and the Bishop of Verdun, were confined in iron
cages, where they remained ten years. Two others, the Duke
of Nemours and the Count of Armagnac, were reduced
the former to implore pardon, and the latter to flee from the
kingdom, abandoning his property, which the king confis-
cated. At the same time to the King-maker, Earl War-
wick, whom he reconciled with Margaret of Anjou, Louis
gave the means of overthrowing in England Edward IV.,
the brother-in-law of the Bold.
Then, sure of having again isolated the duke, the king
dared attack him openly. He convoked at Tours an
assembly of notables, exposed his wrongs at length, and
obtained a declaration from the assembly stating that
Charles by his hostile acts had freed the king from the
obligations contracted at Peronne. In virtue of this decla-
ration the king seized those places upon the Somme which
he so much desired and which were within his reach St.
Quentin, Roye, Montdidier, and Amiens. He had put on
foot 100,000 men, and the duke was unprepared.
But the dukes of Brittany and of Guyenne and the Con-
stable of St. Pol, the chief of the army, terrified by the
rapid progress of the king, were already betraying him.
A dauphin was born the preceding year ; the Duke of
Guyenne, being no longer heir to the crown, was interested
in reforming anew the league of the princes. Louis, seeing
that his successes slackened, understood that new plots
CHAP. II.] FRANCE FROM 1453 TO 1494. I?
were forming. He believed it prudent to stop, and con-
cluded a truce with the Duke of Burgundy. This was nec-
essary, inasmuch as Edward IV., the ally of Burgundy, was
at that moment once more reascending the English throne.
So Louis XI. again had to break the thousand fetters
with which the aristocracy sought to bind the royalty. The
question was of nothing less than the dismemberment of
France. " I care more for the good of France than they
think," said the Duke of Burgundy, " for instead of one
king as now I would have six." The court of the Duke of
Guyenne was the center of all these intrigues. Through
him a new and powerful feudal house was again forming.
The Duke of Burgundy offered him the hand of Mary, his
only daughter ; that is to say, the hope of uniting his
possessions of Aquitaine, states more extended, more
populous, more rich, than those of the king himself. The
young duke was therefore the greatest obstacle which
inconvenienced the king.
This obstacle disappeared : the prince died. Was he
poisoned ? If so, was his being poisoned the work of the
king ? These are questions which history cannot answer.
But if the guilt of the king on this point remains in doubt,
there is no question as to the atrocious joy which he felt
at the sickness and then at the death of his brother.
This event destroyed all the plans of the Bold. Never-
theless, since he was ready, he crossed the Somme and
invaded the kingdom, swearing to put everything to fire
and sword, though the truce he had concluded with Louis
XI. was not yet expired. This war was carried on with
atrocious cruelty. At Nesle men, women, and children
had fled to the large church : they were massacred there
The inhabitants of Beauvais profited by such a warning,
and when, June 27, 1472, the Burgundian army arrived
under their walls they valiantly sustained an assault which
lasted eleven hours ; the women themselves took part in
the defense. One of them, Jeanne Hachette, tore away a
Burgundian standard that a soldier had already planted
upon the rampart. The duke, arrested by this heroism, was
compelled to retire. He took his revenge by burning St.
Valery, Eu, and Neufchateau ; he failed before Dieppe and
encamped under the walls of Rouen, where he had appointed
a rendezvous, it was said, with the Duke of Brittany. He
1 8 REVOLUTION IN THE POLITICAL ORDER. [BOOK I.
remained there four days. Then, accusing Francis II. of
not keeping his promise, he returned to his states.
If the duke Francis II. had failed at his rendezvous it
was because Louis XI. had made against him furious war.
He had captured from him la Guerche, Machecoul, Ancenis,
and Chantoce ; and then, after having terrified him by his
successes, he had offered him an advantageous peace. The
duke signed it October 18, and October 23 Charles the Bold,
a little before so untractable, himself accepted the truce of
Thus the treaty of Peronne, which was supposed to have
laid the King of France so low, was rendered null. The
shame of Liege was compensated in the eyes of Louis XI.
by the shame of Beauvais. And if the king had emerged
with so much good fortune and address from so evil a case,
what would he not accomplish in future with larger re-
sources and fewer embarrassments ? As to the resources, he
was increasing them by an able and firm administration.
As to the embarrassments, the Bold seemed to have given
himself the task of diminishing them by attempting the
realization of projects above his strength.
Beginning with 1472 all the attention of the Duke of
Burgundy was directed toward Germany, Lorraine, and
Switzerland. The affairs of France had for him only sec-
ondary importance. An Austrian prince, Sigismund, had
just pledged to him the landgravate of Upper Alsace and
the county of Ferrette ; he bought Guelderland and the
county of Zutphen (1469). Seeing his domains thus in-
creased in the valleys of the Meuse and Rhine, he dreamed
of reuniting all the countries which had formerly composed
the share of King Lothaire and of forming a new kingdom
under the name of Belgian Gaul. His states formed two
separate groups which could have been urwted by Cham-
pagne, Lorraine, and Alsace. He had missed Champagne,
but he held Alsace ; he expected without difficulty to take
Lorraine; Switzerland would come afterward, then Provence;
and Lotharingia would be reconstituted. He commenced
where he ought to have finished. He sought from the
emperor the title of king (1473). Louis prevented the
success of his negotiations.
On this side he failed ; on the other he saw a league
forming between Rene II., the young Duke of Lorraine, the
archduke Sigismund, the cities of the Rhine, which felt
CHAP. II.] FRANCE FROM 1453 TO 1494. 19
themselves menaced, the Swiss, whom Hagenbach, his agent
in Alsace, had annoyed in their commerce by a thousand
exactions, and finally the eternal enemy, the King of France,
the instigator of this coalition which wove its meshes
around the Burgundian states. Suddenly the archduke
brought him the 100,000 florins agreed upon for the ransom
of Alsace ; Hagenbach was seized and beheaded by the
inhabitants of Brisach (1474). Together with this news the
duke received the solemn defiance of the Swiss, who entered
Franche Comte and gained over the Burgundians the bloody
battle of Hericourt. And these events occurred at the very
moment when he was himself engaged in another war to
sustain the Archbishop of Cologne against the Pope, the
emperor, and his subjects. In behalf of this prince he
was besieging the little city of Neuss, which resisted eleven
months. While he was here losing both his time and
strength, his brother-in-law and ally, Edward IV., at last
landed at Calais.
Edward expected a short and glorious campaign. His
hopes were dissipated after he had made a few marches in
the interior of the country. The Burgundian cities did not
open their gates to receive the ally of the Duke of Burgundy;
the Burgundian soldiers did not appear in order to join the
English troops, who found themselves without shelter or
magazines. He counted at least on entering St. Quentin,
which was commanded by St. Pol, the secret ally of Charles
the Bold. He was received by cannon shot. Deceived and
irritated, he hastened to accept the favorable conditions by
which Louis offered to treat. By the peace of Pecquigny
"the two kings promised to assist each other against their
rebellious subjects ; furthermore, Edward obtained 75,000
crowns in ready money and a life annuity of 50,000 (August
2 9, 1475)-
Then the Bold also found it very necessary to make peace.
The following September he signed the treaty of Soleure
with the King of France in order to terminate his affairs
with Lorraine and Switzerland. In fact November 30 he
entered Nancy. Lorraine, abandoned by the king, who had,
however, been the first to instigate Rene" to take arms, was
conquered. Forthwith Charles turned against the Swiss,
who burned and plundered at their ease in Franche Comte".
He attacked them in dead winter with an army of 18,000
men who had just made two exhausting campaigns. He
20 REVOLUTION IN THE POLITICAL ORDER. [BOOK J.
was completely beaten at Granson (March, 1476), and three
months after at Moral.
At this news Lorraine rose and recalled the young Rene
de Vaudemont. This last affront made the Bold lose all
prudence. He got together in haste 6000 mercenaries and
rushed to Nancy. But Rene found soldiers with the money
of Louis XL; the Swiss, on whose side he fought at Morat,
came to his aid. The Bold was unwilling to retreat and
accepted an unequal battle. In a few hours the Burgun-
dians were routed and the " Grand Duke of the West "
remained among the dead (1477).
While Charles the Bold was dashing himself against the
Germans, the people of Lorraine, and the Swiss, Louis XI.
Ruin of the na d profited by the respite afforded to settle
Great Feudal n j s accounts with those who had so many
Houses. Death . ,... r\ e ^i
of Louis xi. times turned against him. One of the first
(I48a)> who had to render this difficult account was
the Duke of Alencon. This duke, condemned to death
under Charles VII., had been pardoned by Louis XL, but
he assassinated those who gave testimony against him,
coined false money, and entered into plots against the king.
Arrested in 1473, ne was tne following year condemned
for the second time to capital punishment. Louis XI. kept
him in prison until his death. He left a son ; those who
had appropriated the goods of his father implicated him
in a plot of high treason, then had him condemned to give
up all his castles to the king, to demand pardon, and to
endure perpetual confinement (1481).
There were complaints, very serious in another sense, to
bring against the Count of Armagnac, that horrible John
V. who had espoused his sister Isabella, and forced the
chaplain to bless this incestuous marriage by threatening
to throw him into the river if he made difficulty. His
arrest having been decreed by Parliament, he had been
condemned for incest, murder, and forgery under Charles
VII., but had fled ; and one of the first acts of Louis XI.
on his accession had been to restore him his domains.
This frightful man cherished for the king the gratitude to
be expected : he was constantly with his enemies. It was
only in 1473 tnat tne king could concern himself with him.
Cardinal d'Alby came with an army to besiege Lectoure.
The city resisted. Negotiations followed ; and while they
negotiated the cardinal seized one of the gates of the city.
CHAP. II.] FRANCE FROM 1453 TO 1494. 21
John V. of Armagnac was stabbed before the eyes of his
wife. The latter was enceinte. They gave her poison.
Of all the population of Lectoure three men and four
In this house of Armagnac there was a younger branch,
that of Nemours, whose chief, loaded with goods and
honors by Louis XI., betrayed him ten times. Freed from
the Burgundians and the English, Louis besieged and cap-
tured the Duke of Nemours in his castle of Carlat and
shut him up in the castle of Pierre-Encise, a prison so
frightful that the hair of the prisoner became white in a
few days. Then he had him carried to the Bastille, chained
and placed in an iron cage ; he ordered that he should be
allowed to go out from it only for torture, that the
severest torture should be inflicted, and that he should
be made to confess. Nemours, condemned to death, was
beheaded in the market-place.
A brother of John V. of Armagnac and a member of the
powerful house of d'Albret, both also guilty of plots against
the king, were the former imprisoned, the latter beheaded.
These severe executions ended by teaching respect of law
and the king to the so often rebellious lords of the south.
The King of Aragon had given Roussillon in pledge to
Louis XI. for 200,000 crowns. But he intended not to
pay the money, but to regain the province, whose spirit of
hostility to the French he fomented secretly. In 1474
Louis XI. cut these intrigues short by sending a good army
which captured Perpignan after a siege of eight months,
endured with admirable constancy. One woman, it was
said, had nourished one of her children with the body of
another who had died of famine.
In the north there was a man to punish who, like Jacques
of Nemours, was nobody save by Louis XL, to whom with
the title of Constable* Louis XI. had intrusted the Sword
* The title of constable originally indicated the commander of the
cavalry, comes stabuli, whence the name is derived. From 1218 to
1627, when the office was suppressed, the Constable of France was com-
mander-in-chief of the army in the absence of the king. The insignia of
his office was a naked sword, called the Sword of France, which he
received from the hands of the king. His emoluments, like his privileges
and power, were enormous. After the execution of the traitor Louis of
Luxemburg, Count of St. Pol, the office remained vacant forty years till
the appointment in 1515 of Charles of Bourbon, ultimately a still greater
22 REVOLUTION IN THE POLITICAL ORDER. [BOOK I.
of France, the defense of the kingdom. This man, the
Count of St. Pol, had resolved to create for himself an
independent kingdom at the expense of England, France,
and Burgundy. He had toiled at it during ten years,
employing only one means to succeed, deceiving by turns
the English, French, and Burgundians, but forgetting that
the day might come when the King of France, the King of
England, and the Duke of Burgundy would exchange the
letters which he had written them. Louis was the most
implacable. At the approach of the French troops the
constable fled to Mons. The king wrote him to return
without fear. "I am in great difficulties," he wrote him ;
" I have much need of a head like yours " ; and he added
before those who were present for fear they should mistake :
" It is only the head which I wish ; the body can stay where
it is." The Duke of Burgundy gave him up ; he was
decapitated in the Place de Greve (1475).
But of all these deaths the most fortunate for the king
was that of the Bold. His was really the death of feudal-
ism. " Never afterward did the King of France find," said
Comines, " a man bold enough to raise his head against
him or to contradict his will." The duke left only a daugh-
ter. The king tried to take the heiress and the heritage.
He put forward a project of marriage between Mary of
Burgundy, who was twenty years old, and the dauphin, who
was eight. But counting little upon so inappropriate a
marriage, he made certain of a part of the dowry by seizing
under various pretexts Burgundy, Picardy, and Artoi.s.
Mary, despoiled and betrayed by the king, who, giving to
the Flemings one of her letters, brought about the death of