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"Between two servants of Humanity, who appeared
eighteen hundred years apart, the" >< a mysterious relation.
* * * * Let us say it with a sentiment of
profound respect: JESUS WEPT: VOLTAIRE SMILED.
Of that divine tear and of that human smile is composed the
sweetness of the present civilization. 1 *































VOL. Ill

FRANCE, 1384 EUROPE, 1599



THE SIEGE OF ORLEANS . . Frontispiece


Louis XI I3 6





THE kingdom of Castile was in almost as miser-
able a condition as France. Peter, or Don Pedro,
surnamed the Cruel, whom historians have repre-
sented as a merciless tiger that thirsted after human
blood, and even felt a ferocious joy in spilling it,
sat upon the throne. I dare affirm that there does
not exist such a character in nature. Sanguinary
men. are only such in the transports of revenge, or in
the severity of that horrid policy which considers
cruelty as a necessary measure; but no man ever
spills blood merely for his pleasure.

This prince ascended the throne of Castile a minor,
and under very unfavorable circumstances. His
father, Alphonso XL, had had seven bastards by his
mistress, Eleonora de Gusman. These bastards had
such powerful settlements left them that they defied
the royal authority ; and their mother, who had
still more power than they, insulted the queen-dow-


6 Ancient and Modern History.

ager. In short, the kingdom of Castile was divided
into two parties, one of which sided with the queen-
mother, and the other with Eleonora de Gusman;
so that when the young king came of age, he found
himself obliged to maintain a civil war against the
faction of the bastards. He engaged them in sev-
eral battles, proved victorious, and at last put Eleo-
nora to death, to satisfy his mother's revenge. Thus
far he might be termed valiant but too severe. He
afterwards espoused Blanche of Bourbon, and the
first news he heard concerning his wife, upon her
arrival at Valladolid, was that she had fallen in love
with the grand master of St. Jago, one of those very
bastards who had waged war against him. I am
sensible that intrigues of this nature are seldom
authenticated by proofs, and that a prudent king
ought rather to pretend ignorance in such matters,
than blindly follow the dictates of revenge; but,
after all, the king was excusable, since there is to
this day a family in Spain which boasts of being
descended from this adulterous commerce.

Queen Blanche had at least the imprudence to
enter into too close connection with the faction of
the bastards, her husband's enemies. Can we then
be surprised that the king left her in a castle, and
consoled himself with other amours?

Don Pedro, therefore, had, at the same time, the
king of Aragon and his rebellious brothers to
encounter. Victory however still followed him, and
it must be confessed, he made a cruel use of it.

The Black Prince. 7

He seldom forgave, and his relatives, who were
found in arms against him, were sacrificed to his
resentment. In short, he ordered the grand master
of St. Jago to be put to death. This action pro-
cured him the name of " Cruel," while John, king
of France, who had assassinated his constable and
four Norman lords, was called John the Good.

During these troubles, his wife, Blanche, died.
She had been judged culpable, and, of course, it
was said she died by poison. But let me once more
observe that we should be cautious how we give
credit to a charge of this nature, without sufficient

It was, doubtless, the interest of the king's ene-
mies to spread a report about Europe of his having
poisoned his wife. Henry de Transtamare, one of
the bastards, who had the death of a mother and
a brother to revenge, and what was still more, his
own interest to support, took ad vantage of this oppor-
tunity. France was at that time infested by those
united banditti called Malandrini, who did all the
mischief which Edward of England had not been
able to do. This Henry de Transtamare entered into
a treaty with Charles V. to rid France of those
freebooters, by taking them into his service. The
king of Aragon, always an enemy to the sovereign
of Castile, promised to grant them a free passage
through his dominions. Bertrand Du Guesclin, a
knight of great reputation, who had only fought
for an opportunity to signalize himself, engaged

8 Ancient and Modern History.

the Malandrins to acknowledge him as their chief,
and follow him into Castile. This enterprise of Du
Guesclin had been considered as a holy action, which
he performed, as he himself acknowledged, for the
good of his soul. The holiness of this action con-
sisted in leading a band of robbers, to assist a rebel
against his lawful, though cruel, sovereign.

It is well known that Du Guesclin, in passing by
Avignon, being in want of money to pay his troops,
obliged the pope to give him a large sum for the
safety of himself and his court. This was at that
time a necessary extortion, but I dare not mention
the name which would have been given it had it not
been done by one who commanded a troop that might
pass for a little army.

1366 The bastard Henry, assisted by these
troops, which had increased in their march, and
likewise supported by the king of Aragon, began
by causing himself to be proclaimed king in the
town of Burgos. Don Pedro, finding himself thus
attacked by the French, applied for assistance to the
Black Prince, their conqueror. This prince, who was
sovereign of Guienne, and consequently must have
beheld with a jealous eye any success of the French
arms in Spain, determined by interest and honor,
espoused the juster side, and marched to the assist-
ance of Pedro, with his Gascons and some Eng-
lish; and soon after was fought, on the banks of
the Ebro, near the village of Navarrete, the bloody
battle which is called by that name, between Don

The Black Prince. 9

Pedro and the Black Prince on one side, and Henry
de Transtamare and the constable Du Guesclin on
the other. This battle proved more glorious to the
Black Prince than even those of Crecy and Poitiers
had done; because here the field was longer dis-
puted. In a word, his victory was complete ; for he
took Bertrand Du Guesclin and Marshal d'An-
drehen prisoners, who would surrender to no one but

Henry de Transtamare, after the loss of this battle,
was obliged to fly into Aragon; and the Black
Prince resettled Don Pedro on the throne. Don
Pedro, on this occasion, exerted the unhappy right
of revenge to its full extent, and treated several of
the rebels with all that severity which the laws of
government authorize under the name of justice.
The Black Prince, who had the glory of restoring
him to his crown, had also that of putting a stop
to his cruelties: and indeed this prince is, next to
Alfred, the hero whom the English hold most in

As soon as the supporter of Don Pedro was with-
drawn, and Bertrand Du Guesclin had paid his ran-
som, the bastard of Transtamare revived the party
of the malcontents, and Du Guesclin, at the private
instigation of the French king, Charles V., began to
raise new troops.

The count de Transtamare had on his side Aragon,
the rebels of Castile, and the aid of France ; while
not only the greater part of the Castilians, but also

io Ancient and Modern History.

Portugal and the Moors of Spain, declared for Don
Pedro, who only gained fresh odium by these new
allies, without reaping much real service from them.

Henry and Du Guesclin, having no longer the
superior genius and fortune of the Black Prince to
encounter, gained a complete victory over Pedro in
the neighborhood of Toledo, in 1368; who, after
this defeat, retired for safety to a castle, where he
was soon besieged by the victors, and, endeavoring
to make his escape, was taken prisoner by a French
gentleman, named le Begue de Vilaines. Being
conducted to this knight's tent, the first object which
met his eyes was the count de Transtamare. It is
said that, transported with rage at this sight, he
flew, disarmed as he was, upon him, and this
brother so far is the truth with a poniard he
held in his hand, instantly put an end to his life.

Thus perished Don Pedro, at the age of thirty-
four; and with him ended the Castilian race. His
mortal foe succeeded him on the throne, without
any other right than that of murder : and from him
descended the kings of Castile, who afterward
reigned in Spain till the sceptre of that kingdom
was transferred to the house of Austria, by the mar-
riage of Queen Joan of Castile with Philip the
Handsome, father of the famous Charles V.

France and England. 1 1



THE policy of Charles V. saved France from ruin ;
and the necessity of weakening the conquerors
Edward III. and his son, the Black Prince, gives
a show of justice to his procedure. He took advan-
tage of the father's old age, and the son's state of
ill health, who was afflicted with dropsy, of which
he died in 1371. His first step was to sow dissension
between the Black Prince, sovereign of Guienne,
and his vassals ; he eluded the performance of his
treaties, and refused to pay the remainder of his
father's ransom, under various plausible pretences.
He entered into connection with the king of Navarre,
Charles the Bad, who had so many large posses-
sions in France ; he likewise stirred up the new king
of Scotland, Robert Stuart, against England; he
restored order and regularity in the finances, and
made the people contribute to the necessary supplies
without murmuring ; in fine, without stirring out of
his cabinet, he found means to have as much success
as King Edward, who had crossed the sea, and
gained such signal victories.

As soon as he perceived all the springs of his
political machine well secured, and in readiness for
action, he made one of those bold strokes which
might pass for rashness in politics, if not justified

12 Ancient and Modern History.

by well-concerted measures and a successful issue.
In 1369 he sent a knight and a judge of Toulouse
to summon the Black Prince to appear before him
in the court of peers, to give an account of his con-

This was acting as sovereign judge of the con-
queror of his father and grandfather, who was still
in possession of Guienne and the surrounding terri-
tories, in absolute sovereignty, by right of con-
quest and the most solemn treaty. For he not only
summoned the prince as his subject, but an arret
of the parliament was likewise issued in 1370, con-
fiscating the province of Guienne and all the places
that appertained to the English in France. The
custom of those times was to declare war by a herald
at arms; but on this occasion one of the king's
domestic servants was sent to London to perform
the ceremony a plain proof that Edward was no
longer in a situation to be feared.

The irregularity of these proceedings was in some
measure dignified by the valor and abilities of Ber-
trand Du Guesclin, now constable of France, and
more especially by the good order which Charles
had established throughout his whole kingdom,
which proved the truth of this maxim in public
affairs, that " where the profit is, there is the glory."

The Black Prince, who was every day declining in
his health, was no longer able to take the field : his
father could send him but very weak supplies, and
the English, who had before been everywhere vie-

France and England. 13

torious, were now beaten on all sides. Bertrand Du
Guesclin, though he did not obtain such signal vic-
tories as those of Crecy and Poitiers, made exactly
such a campaign, as that by which in these latter
times Marshal Turenne gained the character of
the greatest general in Europe. He fell upon the
English settled about Maine and Avignon, defeated
all their parties, one after the other, and with his own
hand took their general, Grandison, prisoner. He
added Poitou and Saintonge to the French domin-
ions, and took all the towns belonging to the Eng-
lish, either by force of arms, or intrigues. The very
seasons themselves seemed to fight for Charles. A
formidable fleet of English ships, which was des-
tined to make a descent upon the coasts of France,
was several times put back by contrary winds ; and
temporary truces, artfully managed, prepared the
way for future successes.

Charles V. who, twenty years before, had not
money sufficient to pay his guards, now saw himself
master of five armies, and a fine fleet. His ships of
war insulted the English on their own coasts, land-
ing troops and ravaging the country, while Eng-
land, who had now lost her warrior king, sat, a
tame spectator of these insults. She had now noth-
ing left in France but the city of Bordeaux, Calais,
and a few other fortified towns.

France lost her Bertrand Du Guesclin in 1380.
Everyone knows what honors his sovereign paid to
his memory. He was the first, I think, that had

14 Ancient and Modern History.

a funeral oration pronounced in his praise, and none
but himself and Marshal Turenne were ever
interred in the church designed for the burying-
place of the kings of France. His body was carried
to the grave with the same ceremonies as those of
crowned heads, and was followed by four princes
of the blood; his horses, agreeably to the customs
of those times, were presented, in the church, to the
bishop who performed the funeral service, who laid
his hand upon them and blessed them. These cir-
cumstances are of no further importance than that
they serve to show the spirit of chivalry, since the
regard and veneration paid to great knights who
had rendered themselves famous by their feats in
arms, extended even to the horses who fought under
them in battle.

Charles V. did not long survive Du Guesclin. He
is said to have died by a slow poison, which had been
given him ten years before, and ended his life at the
age of forty-four. The real poison which despatched
Charles V. was a bad constitution.

No one is ignorant of the wise ordinance published
by this prince, wherein the time of a king of France
coming of age was fixed at fourteen. This wise
ordinance, which, however, proved insufficient to
prevent the subsequent troubles, was enrolled at a
bed of justice held in 1374.

Charles desired, by this ordinance, to eradicate the
ancient abuse of private wars between the lords,
an abuse which had hitherto passed as a law of

France and England. 15

the state, and which, as soon as he came to be
master, he took care to prohibit, and even forbade
the wearing of arms ; but this was one of those laws
which it was impossible at that time to put in execu-

The treasures which he amassed during his reign
are said to have amounted to the sum of seventeen
million livres of the money then current. It is cer-
tain that he had accumulated great riches, and that
all the fruits of his economy were dissipated by his
brother, the duke of Anjou, in the unfortunate expe-
dition to Naples, of which I have already spoken.

After the decease of Edward III., the conqueror
of France, and of Charles V., the restorer of that
kingdom, it was plainly seen that the superiority of
a nation depends wholly upon those who are at the
helm of government.

Richard II., son of the Black Prince, succeeded
his grandfather, Edward III., at the age of eleven;
and, some time after, Charles VI. came to the crown
of France, at the age of twelve. These two minor-
ities proved unhappy ; but England had the first and
greatest reason to complain.

We have seen the frenzy and madness which pos-
sessed the peasants of France under King John, and
how cruelly they revenged themselves for the state of
slavery they had been in, and the miseries they had
suffered, upon those gentlemen who had been their
oppressors. The same madness seized the English ;
and the war of Rome with the Slavs seemed revived

1 6 Ancient and Modern History.

in this country. A tiler and a priest did as much
mischief to England as the quarrels between the king
and parliament are capable of producing in that
kingdom. These two incendiaries assembled the
people of three counties, and easily found means to
persuade them that the rich had long enough enjoyed
the goods of this world, and that it was now time for
the poor to take their revenge. They led them directly
to London, plundered a part of the city, and caused
the archbishop of Canterbury and the high treas-
urer to be beheaded. It is true that this madness
ended in the death of their chiefs and the total dis-
persion of the mutineers: but these storms, which
were common in Europe, sufficiently showed what
kind of government prevailed at that time. They
were as yet unacquainted with the true end of poli-
tics, which consists in subjecting all degrees and
orders, in a state, to the public good.

It may be said also, that the English at that time
did not better understand the limits of their kings'
prerogatives, nor of the privileges of their parlia-
ments. Richard II., at the age of eighteen, aimed
at being despotic, and his subjects wanted to be free.
This soon produced a civil war. In other countries
a civil war almost always proves fatal to the malcon-
tents, but in England the king generally smarts for
it. Richard, after having maintained a ten years' con-
test with his subjects about authority, saw himself
at length abandoned even by his own party. His
cousin, the duke of Lancaster, grandson of the late

France and England. 17

Edward III., and who had for a long time been
banished out of the kingdom, returned with only
three ships. Indeed he stood in need of no greater
assistance; for, the instant he arrived, the whole
nation declared for him ; and Richard requested only
that they would grants him his life and a pension.

A parliament was called, in which this prince was
solemnly deposed and confined in the Tower, in 1399,
whence he sent the duke of Lancaster the ensigns
of royalty, together with a writing, signed by his
own hand, in which he acknowledged himself alto-
gether unqualified to reign, as indeed he was, since
weak enough to sign such a declaration.

Thus did this one century behold two kings of
England, Edward II. and Richard II., the emperor
Wenceslaus, and Pope John XXIII., all four tried,
condemned, and deposed, in the most solemn manner
and with all the formalities of justice.

The English Parliament, having deposed their
king, issued a decree, importing that, in case of any
attempt being made to restore him, he should be
adjudged worthy of death. Accordingly, upon the
first rising that was made in his favor, eight ruffians
went and assassinated the unhappy monarch in his
prison in 1400. But Richard defended his life far
better than he had his throne. He wrested a pole-axe
from one of the assassins, with which he laid four
of the number dead at his feet before he fell him-
self. The duke of Lancaster now ascended the
throne under the name of Henry IV., during whose

1 8 Ancient and Modern History.

reign England neither enjoyed tranquillity, nor was
in a condition to undertake anything against France :
but his son, Henry V., brought about the greatest
revolution since the time of Charlemagne.



PART of the care which Charles V. had taken to
re-establish France proved the means of hastening
its subversion. The immense treasures he had
amassed were dissipated, and the taxes he imposed
had alienated the minds of his people. It has been
observed that this prince expended fifteen hundred
marks of gold annually for the maintenance of his
household; and his brothers, who were regents of
the kingdom during the minority of Charles VI.,
who came to the crown before he was thirteen,
expended more than seven thousand, and yet that
prince was almost in want of common necessaries.
These minute details are not to be slighted, since they
frequently prove the secret springs of ruin in most
states, as well as in private families.

Louis of Anjou, one of the uncles of Charles VI.,
and the same who had been adopted by Joan I., queen
of Naples, not satisfied with having embezzled his
pupil's treasure, loaded the people with exactions.
Paris, Rouen, and most of the cities rose up in arms ;
and the same fury which afterward destroyed Paris

Charles VI. 19

in the time of the League in the minority of Louis
XIV. appeared under Charles VI. The public and
private punishments inflicted on this occasion were
as cruel as the insurrection had been outrageous.
The great papal schism which prevailed at that time,
and of which we have already treated, contributed
to increase their disorders. The popes of Avignon,
who were acknowledged by the French court, com-
pleted the impoverishment of this kingdom by all
the arts which avarice could invent, under the dis-
guise of religion. The people, however, flattered
themselves, that when the king came of age he
would make amends for all these evils by a more
happy government.

He had in person, in 1384, avenged the count of
Flanders, his vassal, on the rebellious Flemings,
whom the English still continued to support; and
took advantage of the troubles which distracted that
unhappy island during the reign of Richard II. He
also fitted out a fleet of twelve hundred ships, to
make a descent on the English coast. This prodig-
ious number of ships is by no means incredible ; St.
Louis had a much larger fleet. It is true they were
only vessels for transporting troops, but the ease
with which they equipped these large fleets plainly
shows that they had a much greater quantity of
timber for building than we have at present, and that
they were not deficient in point of industry. The
jealousy which prevailed between the king's uncles
put a stop to the sailing of this fleet; and at last

2o Ancient and Modern History.

it only served as a proof of the resources France
might have been provided with under a good admin-
istration, since, notwithstanding the great quantity
of money which the duke of Anjou carried out of
the kingdom with him in his unhappy expedition
to Naples, it was still able to undertake such great

At length there seemed to be some respite from the
confusion which had perplexed the kingdom. The
king set out for Brittany to chastise the duke, of
whom France had so much reason to complain ;
when, unfortunately, at this very juncture, he was
seized with a terrible frenzy. This distemper began
with a drowsiness, followed by a loss of understand-
ing, and ending at length in a fit of madness. When
he was first seized with this fit, he killed four men,
and continued striking everyone about him, till at
length, exhausted by these convulsive motions, he
fell into a deep lethargy.

I am not in the least surprised that all France
thought him poisoned and bewitched. There have
been instances even in this present age, notwith-
standing its improvement in knowledge, of popular
prejudices altogether as unjust. His brother, the
duke of Orleans, had married Valentine of Milan,

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