James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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willing to make a truce
for a month. He again
sought an alliance with
the king's brother, but
the latter died, possibly
from poison. Before the
expiry of the truce
Charles renewed hostili-
ties and now was more
successful ; but his army
committed such depreda-
tions in the country that
the inhabitants were
roused to fury, and the
citizens of Beauvais in
particular offered a most
stubborn resistance. The
town was not captured,
for the Duke of Brittany,
being hard pressed by the
king, did not come to aid.

Charles, therefore, was
forced to retreat, owing
to terrible scarcity of
provisions, due to
the devastation of the
land. His retreat was
rendered difficult by
numerous skirmishes ; at
last he was compelled to
make a new armistice.
Louis availed himself of
it to subdue his rebellious
vassals in the south, STATUE OF

especially the Duke of Alen9on. But
Charles did not remain quiet, and
hoped by an alliance with Edward IV.
of England finally to conquer Louis.
Edward declared himself ready for
a campaign against France in 1475,
and actually appeared in June before
Calais. Charles, however, whose forces
had been considerably lessened by the
disastrous siege of Neuss, could not give
the expected assistance, especially since
Louis had again fought with success in
Burgundy. Edward had pictured to

himself a more favourable state of things
in France, and in his disappointment he
did not hesitate to accept the arrange-
ment proposed by Louis, and, in con-
sideration of a large indemnity, to return
home again. Charles also, who now was
intent on other plans, agreed in 1475
to a nine years' truce. France seemsd
freed from her most dangerous enemy,
although Louis was always counting on a
renewed attack of the Burgundian. The
complications, however, with Lorraine
and the Swiss nowclaimed
the attention of the
ambitious warrior so
closely that he could not
think of other hostilities.
On January 5th, 1477,
Charles the Bold was
killed after his defeat by
the Swiss at Nancy.

His realm, however,
through the marriage of
his daughter and heiress
Mary with the young
Maximilian, son of
Frederic III., passed to
the house of the Austrian
Hapsburgs, and not to
France. Of all the ene-
mies of Louis the only
survivor was Duke
Francis of Brittany,
whose secret league with
Edward of England had
been discovered by the
king in 1477. He here
contented himself with
the confiscation of one
county and with a
renewed oath of loyalty.
But he treated the Duke
of Nemours according to
J his old principle, and
' took bloody vengeance.
His despotic aim, the
conquest of all imaginary and actual
enemies of his kingdom, was attained.
He acquired Provence by inheritance,
and the people trembled more than ever
before the king but still more did the
king tremble before the people. He sus-
piciously looked out for conspiracies every-
where among servants and ministers, and
punished with great severity.

After a life of anxiety, at once full of
work and empty of pleasures, Louis XI.
died at the end of April, 1483. The
government of France by the States had




He headed the league of vassal nobles against Louis XL,
and when he became Duke of Burgundy, on the death of
his father, Philip the Good of Burgundy, in 1467, he made
an attempt to throw off all allegiance to France and its
king. He met his death fighting at Nancy in the year 1 477.

completely disappeared under him and
mainly through him. Modern absolutism,
which influences all powers by the. con-
stitution, took its start under him, and
reached its height through Louis XII.

Charles VIII., son of Louis XL, was only
thirteen years old on his father's death.
Of little ability, and still less education,
he was incapable of reigning independently,
and was entirely under the influence of his
sister Anne, who was married to Peter,
the subsequent Duke of Bourbon. In
conformity with the wish of the people, the
States-General were summoned at the
beginning of 1484, and sat for two months
at Tours. Complaints were raised on all
sides about the pressure of taxation, but
the deliberations had no lasting results.

The appointment of a regular regency
was refused, to the injury of the country ;
for once more, as at the beginning of the
century, civil war broke out. The husband
of Louis' daughter Joanna, Duke Louis
of Orleans, did not wish to acknowledge
the influence of his sister-in-law, Anne,
and, in alliance with the Duke of Brittany,
began war against the party of the king,


but was defeated in the summer of 1488,
and taken prisoner. Charles, however,
wished to act independently and did not
allow himself to be guided any longer by
his sister. He released the Duke of
Orleans from prison, and married, at the
end of 1491, Anne, daughter of the
deceased Duke Francis. Thus Brittany,
the lords of which had hitherto been
bitterly opposed to the king, was annexed
to the crown of France.

The intended union of this heiress with
Maximilian, king of the Romans, had thus
been frustrated, and he demanded com-
pensation for this as well as for the fact that
the previously arranged marriage of his
daughter Margaret with the French king
had now become impossible. His ally,
Henry VII. of England, was indemnified by
a money payment. Maximilian himself
lacked the means to make war ; for this
reason he finally, in 1493, preferred an
amicable arrangement, and received back
the counties of Burgundy and Artois, where
the feeling of the population had already
decided in favour of the German sovereign.

Since Charles, Count of Maine, had died
in 1481, King Louis had acquired the


Under Louis XL, the Comte de St. Pol was Constable of
France, an office equivalent to that of Commander of the
Forces. This high official was executed at the Bastille.



heritage of Provence as well as claims to
the kingdom of Naples, and Charles
wished to assert this claim when, after the
death of King Ferdinand in the beginning
of 1494, party hatred began to spread its
horrors over Italy. In order not to let slip
the favourable opportunity of
interference, Charles marched
in the autumn with a large
army over the Alps. Contrary
to expectation he obtained
favourable concessions from
Piero de Medici, but by so
doing caused the banishment
of the princely family, and
could gain little from the
indignant citizens of Florence.
He now went to Rome, where
Alexander VI. lived in the
greatest fear. The Pope agreed
to cede to the French some
fortresses as bases of opera-
tion, and to hand over his son,
Cesare Borgia, as hostage.
Charles left Rome at the end

homewards with the remainder. But in
July an army of Milanese and Venetians
attacked him in superior force near
Fornuovo ; nevertheless, he succeeded in
worsting them and continued his march.
Before he left Italian soil, in October, a
treaty was made with the
allies, but nevertheless the
final results of this Italian
campaign were very unfavour-
able for Charles. Even be-
fore he reached France, the
banished Ferdinand had
attempted to recover his
realm, and the revolt of the
people against the French
yoke assisted his effort. The
remains of the French army
disappeared in battle or from
sickness, and King Charles
VIII. , in April, 1498, soon
after his return home, died
from the result of an accident.
Since Charles' sons had

The son of Louis XI., whom he
succeeded as King of France in

1483. By his marriage to the predeceased him, he was suc-
of January, 1495, andmarched heiress of the Duke of Brittany, he C eeded on the throne by his

added Brittany to his own domain. T ,-, , ,

cousin Louis, of the elder

to Naples, where Alfonso II.,
son of Ferdinand I., was governing,
tormented by the stings of conscience for
his past cruelties. In order to escape the
hatred of the people, he resigned his rule
and gave over the country to

French '' his y uthful son > Ferdinand II.
T r f ' c ,, The success of the French arms
soon disheartened the Nea-
politan troops ; some of them deserted to
Charles, who was able in February to
enter Naples and was soon in possession
of the whole country.

The French conquerors did not, however,
understand how to win the goodwill of
the people. The brutal treatment which
the population received from the French
soldiery roused a burning hatred which
could not be quenched by the hastily
introduced remission of taxation and the
inauguration of public amusements. The
Pope also refused to crown Charles king
at Naples. The lords, formerly at enmity
with each other, now united against the
common foe, the French intruder.
Lodovico Sforza of Milan, who had
especially invited Charles to make the
Italian expedition, Pope Alexander VI.,
Venice, Ferdinand of Sicily, and the king
of the Romans, Maximilian, all united
against the king of France. He marched
away unsuspectingly from Naples, in May,
left half his army behind, and turned


house of Orleans, as the twelfth of this
name (1498-1515). He was in the prime
of life when he took the reins of govern-
ment, and had hitherto played little
part in public affairs. But the people
soon recognised that the best qualities
of a ruler justice, clemency, and ap-
preciation of a nation's needs were not
wanting in him. In foreign policy, it is
true, he was no better than the other
monarchs of the time in a somewhat
inglorious statesmanship, and ambition
drove him to the most rash schemes. He
procured a divorce from his wife, and
married his predecessor's widow, Anne,
the heiress of Brittany, in order to annex
this duchy permanently to the crown. His
predecessor on the throne had opened the
road to- Italy. Louis was determined to
take it.

The acquisition of Milan was now
the object of the French policy. The
grandmother of the king had
been the daughter of Galeazzo
Visconti, the first Duke of
Milan, who died in 1402. After
preparations of every kind, which proved
the shrewd and far-sighted calculations of
the king, an army crossed the mountains
in the summer of 1499, and conquered the
country, from which .the Duke Lodovico
Sforza had to fly with incredible swiftness.

Milan the


of France


The French king made a solemn entry into
Milan, and Genoa surrendered to him.
Venice indeed, by virtue of an earlier
treaty, received a share of the French
victory ; but France had thus won a
strong base of operations which danger-
ously menaced Italy.

Soon after the departure of the king the
storm burst against the foreign dominion ;
the inhabitants, bitterly exasperated by
the outrages of the conquerors, welcomed
the old duke when he entered his land in
February, 1500, with an army of foreign
mercenaries. The French garrisons could
offer no resistance, and withdrew. Louis,
however, sent reinforcements, and Sforza's
Swiss mercenaries refused to fight against
their countrymen in the French service.

The duke's cause was lost ; he wished to
fly, but was betrayed and led prisoner to
France, where he spent ten years in cap-
tivity. Louis was not yet satisfied with his
success : his wishes were now centred on

Naples. There he came into contact with
the powerful Ferdinand the Catholic of
Aragon, who, as husband of Isabella of
Castile, represented a formidable oppo-
nent. The two therefore joined, according
to the terms of a treaty, in common action
against the uncle of Ferdinand II.,
Frederic of Naples, whose friendly
relations with the Turks were to form the

The two kings, thirsting for conquests,
posed as the protectors of Christen-
dom. Nothing was known of this alli-
ance at Naples, where the people thought
that Louis alone was their enemy,
and actually hoped for Ferdinand's aid
against him. When, in the summer of
1501, a French army appeared in Rome,
the treaty was disclosed, since both sove-
reigns demanded and received the papal
investiture of Naples. Under these cir-
cumstances Frederic could not resist ; he
surrendered to the French, and lived in


It was the great ambition of Charles VIII. to conquer Italy, and he invaded that country in 1495. Entering Naples, he
found the people eager for French rule, and soon he found himself in possession of the whole country. But the conquerors
did not understand how to win the goodwill of the people, who quickly rose up against them. Though Charles defeated
the Milanese and Venetians at Fornuovo, the results of the Italian campaign were not at all to his advantage.



France with a large yearly allowance until
his death, in 1504. Louis' pleasure at
the possession of Naples did not last long.
Since no agreement could be
made with Ferdinand as to
the frontier, war resulted.
In it the Spanish general,
Gonsalvo Hernandez de Cor-
dova, the " Great Captain,"
was repeatedly victorious,
and finally gained sole
possession of the capital.
Louis, in furious indignation
at the failure of his under-
takings, immediately
equipped several armies
against the Spaniards ; but
at the end of 1503 the most
powerful of them was com-
pletely routed by Gonsalvo H
on the Garigliano. A three
years' truce was concluded
in February, 1504, by the
terms of which the whole
of Naples was annexed to Spain. The
events in Italy were of decisive im-
portance for the king of the Romans,
Maximilian, whose vassal had been

unceremoniously banished from Milan, and
the acquisition of Naples threatened to
furnish the French king with another
strong centre for operations.
King Maximilian, in order
not to let his claims on
Milan disappear, had already
consented to the betrothal of
his grandson, Charles, aged
a year and a half, to Claudia,
infant daughter of Louis, on
the condition that both
should inherit Milan, and had
promised to invest Louis with
the duchy. This treaty was,
in 1504, extended, so that
in the event of Louis dying
without male issue, Naples,
and both Brittany and the
duchy of Burgundy in France,

VIII., in the year 1498,' and reigned should fall to the future wife

till 1515, dying three months of Charles. Thereupon Louis

was actually invested with
Milan. But soon afterwards
all idea was abandoned of a marriage
between Claudia and Charles. Louis had
possibly never seriously contemplated it.
In fact, the fulfilment of the compact of

after his marriage to Mary, the
sister of Henry VIII. of England.

In this great battle the army of Louis XII. of France, under the youthful commander, Gastonde Foix, met the papal and
Spanish forces and inflicted upon them a decisive defeat. France, however, lost her brilliant leader, who fell in the battle.



1504 would have been equivalent to a
partition of France.

In all the negotiations between the
kings, Louis and Maximilian, an important
part had been played by the latter's son
Philip. Out of hatred for him the Span-
iard, Ferdinand, was drawn more closely
to Louis, and received the hand of his niece,
to whom Louis had granted his claims on
Naples. Claudia was betrothed a little
later to Count Francis of Angouleme, the
heir-presumptive to the French throne,
and the brilliant prospects of the Haps-
burgs were destroyed. Philip would
gladly have avenged the affront, but he
died in 1506, and King Maximilian was
too weak to venture
on war with Louis,
who successfully
crushed a rising in
Genoa in 1507.

Maximilian soon
afterwards engaged
in an unfortunate
struggle with the
powerful republic of
Venice, which refused
him a passage for his
troops to Rome, and
was forced to con-
clude a truce in April,
1508. Since the
republic seemed
equally dangerous to
Louis and Maxi-
milian, a treaty was
signed at Cambray
on December loth,
1508, when it was
arranged that each
party should recover
from the republic the


appeared before the city and began the
siege, but discontent and want of money
finally forced him to abandon it. He
marched back to Germany and dismissed
the greater part of his army. Pope
Julius II. also had obtained from Venice
what he wanted. Ferdinand was invested
with Naples, and desisted from the
struggle, so that now only France and King
Maximilian continued the war.

In order to crush the opposition of the
Pope, their former ally, the two . kings,
supported by some cardinals, arranged to
hold a general council in November, 1510.
It was actually summoned at Pisa, but
Julius forbade the assembly, and on his
B| part convened a
Lateran Council at
Rome. The Pope
had now allies in
Venice and the Swiss ;
Ferdinand of Aragon
also was a firm sup-
porter. Thus the so-
called "Holy League"
was formed in order
to drive out Louis.
But the French again
were victorious, and
captured Brescia with
terrible slaughter in
1512. The Pope won
over Henry VIII. of
England for the
League, and induced
King Maximilian to
make a truce at any
rate with Venice, so
that Louis now had
to trust to his own
power alone. He
once more won a

territories to which During the cap ture of the town of Brescia by the decisive victory at

he laid claim. The French in 1512 many brave deeds were witnessed, but Ravenna, but, Unfor-
-r, i rr- they were all eclipsed by the exploit of Bayard, " the , '

Pope and King knight without fear and without reproach; 1 who de- tunately, Gaston de

Ferdinand of Aragon fended a castle a e ainst an overwhelming body of troops*. Foix,, the youthful

joined the league, as well as some smaller , French commander, fell in it. The Pope,

rulers. In the spring of 0:509 a powerful
Venetian army was in the field when the
French advanced to the attack. Victory
rested with the French arms, and each
of the allies received the districts which
he wished to occupy. Attempts of the
Venetians to separate the allies by formal
offers proved ineffectual. They succeeded,
however, in regaining Padua by the help
of the population. Shortly afterwards,
King Maximilian, with a powerful army,
supported by French and Spaniards,

deeply concerned by the reverse, breathed
again when he learned that an army of the 1
Confederates had invaded Milan, and with
the help of Venice was driving the French-
out of the country. Maximilian Sforza, aj
son of Lodovico Sforza, now became duke,
of the territory, reduced by the loss of some,
districts. A new danger was threatening
King Louis from Spain, where Ferdinand
brought the kingdom of Navarre under his
dominion. Thus the end of the year 1512
showed a much less favourable prospect.



However, Pope Julius, who had been
the soul of the league, died in February,
1513. Soon afterwards Louis concluded
with his former bitter enemy, the republic
of Venice, a treaty with regard to the joint
conquest of Milan. The new Pope of the
family of the Medici, Leo X., a determined
enemy of the French, allied himself
against them with King Maximilian,
Ferdinand, and Henry VIII., in order to
offer resistance to the combined power
of Venice and France. After a preliminary
success the French were defeated on June
6th, 1513, at Novara by the Swiss soldiers
of Sforza, and the Venetians now saw
themselves abandoned by Louis. Picardy
was overrun by an army of Henry VIII.,

which, supported by German knights, con-
quered the enemy in August and cap-
tured Tournay. At the same time an army
of Swiss wished to conquer Burgundy.
But the French commander entered into a
treaty with them which the king did not
ratify and thus this threatening danger
was averted. Louis now tried to make
terms with his enemies, and succeeded in
doing so. Henry VIII. actually gave him
the hand of his sister Mary. But on
January ist, 1515, only three months after
his marriage, Louis XII. died, deeply
mourned by his people, and left his king-
dom to Francis, Count of Angouleme, a
great-grandson of their common ancestor,
Louis of Orleans. ARMIN TILLE


Bayard, the most chivalrous hero of the Middle Ages, whose famous exploit at Brescia is referred to on the preceding
page, met his death fighting for his country against Milan in 1524. With a handful of men he remained behind to hold
the enemy in check while the French army retreated from a difficult position. He was thus engaged when a stone
from a crossbow struck him, snapping his spine in two places. He was lifted from his horse, and laid beneath a tree,
as shown in the above picture, and after breathing a prayer he begged his friends to turn his face to the foe.

From the painting by Benjamin West





By H. W. C. Davis, M.A. and Arthur D. Innes, M.A.



\Y/E left Egbert of Wessex, in the early
** years of the ninth century, engaged
in establishing what may be called a single
suzerainty among the various Anglo-
Saxon kingdoms. But the progress of
the work begun by him was delayed by the
descent of a new storm of invaders on the
English coasts. The Northmen, driven
out from the Scandinavian countries by
the love of adventure, the hope of booty,
and repugnance to the centralising policy
of their native kings, began to plunder
Northumbria at the close of the eighth
century. Gradually their raids brought
them further to the south, and in the
year 832 their bands wintered for the
first time on English soil, in the Isle of
Sheppey. From that year to 878 the
English kingdoms were fighting for
bare existence against ever increasing
hosts, who came at first in the hope of
plunder, and afterwards with the intention
of founding a new state.

England was not the only victim :
on the coast of Ireland, and from the
mouth of the Rhine to that of the

_,. Garonne, the Northmen made
The fierce themselves fe i t as the worst

Northmen ,

. _ . foes of peace in a period

in England , .*"

of general anarchy; but in
England they performed their work
of destruction with special thoroughness.
They destroyed the kingdoms of North-
umbria, East Anglia, and Mercia, and
Alfred the Great, who came to the throne
of Wessex in 871, found it necessary to

The Great
Alfred and
the Danes

purchase a respite from the attacks which
had brought his kingdom to the last gasp.
After seven years of incessant fighting, and
a final victory at Ethandune, in 878, the
young king divided England with his
enemies. By the Treaty of Wedmore a
line drawn from Reading to
the point where the Ribble
takes a western turn in the direc-
tion of the sea was fixed as the
boundary between the English and the
Danes. In East Anglia the invaders
formed a kingdom under the rule of
Guthrum ; in Eastern Mercia there arose
a federation of five Danish boroughs.
The rest of the Danelaw was settled by
smaller communities organised on a re-
publican model.

Alfred survived the treaty of Wedmore
by more than twenty years. This period
he occupied partly in warfare against new
bands of Danes, partly in the reorganisa-
tion of his shattered kingdom. The pains
which he took to improve his army, by
a stricter enforcement of the service and
by calling out the ordinary militia in
relays, bore fruit even in his own time.
He secured Wessex and West Mercia
against sudden raids ; he reannexed Essex
and the town of London. He also fortified
boroughs as places of refuge and posts of
observation, and he was wiser than most
of his successors in his attempts to create
a powerful navy for the defence of the
English coasts. But his warlike exploits
were eclipsed by those of his descendants,



and he is more justly celebrated for
his endeavours to revive religion and
education, for his translations of such
standard works as Boethius, Orosius, and
Gregory's " Pastoral Care," and, finally,
for his connection with the first English
Chronicle, which appears to have been
compiled under his supervision. His code
of laws, though no more than a summary of
custom and previous enactments with
some few improvements, is at once a
testimony to his care for the good order of
his kingdom, and a historical monument

lands which had been ceded at the Peace
of Wedmore ; and every stage of their
advance was marked by the establishment

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 45 of 55)