Imágenes de páginas

until the ratification of the treaty at Bourges.* Finding, therefore, no enemies to encounter, the English proceeded to ravage several of the provinces;ť nor could the progress of their spoliations be stopped but by the payment of a ransom, and by permitting them to re-occupy several towns of Guienne, with the assistance of the count of Armagnac, who, for the time being, rather preferred an adherence to the disgraceful alliance he had ratified, than to enter into a reconciliation with the duke of Burgundy.

• It appears froin the statement of Rapin, that it was not until after their debarkation, and that they were proceeding on their march from Normandy to Blois, that the English got information of the peace being concluded; the contrary, however, results from consulting the acts of Rymer, which are given by Rapin himself. It was not until the first of July that the duke of Clarence was named commander in chief of the expedition, and, upon the eleventh, lieutenant-general of Guienne ; consequently, his departure must have been posterior. If after this we compute the time required for the embarkation and debarking of the troops and the crossing of the channel, it will appear evident, that they could not have arrived in Normandy till several days after the peace of Bourges, which occurred on the 13th of July, 1412.See Laboureur, page 833, and following pages.

+ Charles, duke of Orleans, undertook to liquidate half of the sum stipulated; and as a security for the performance of his promise delivered up his brother, the count of Angoulême, as an hostage.

This, however, was but a prelude to the ills which the French people were to endure from the policy pursued by the English monarch. About this time the death of Henry IV. took place, who was succeeded by an hero, equal in valour to any warrior of his time, while in every other requisite our fifth Henry surpassed them; uniting firmness, prudence, sagacity, vigilance, and activity, both of mind and of body ; in short, every requisite seemed united in his person to constitute the greatest man of that time. Wholly divested of the title of usurper, which had been so prejudicial to his father, he took advantage of all the deep-laid policy of his predecessor: adored by his subjects, their lives and their fortunes were at his disposal ; wherefore, shielded from every internal disquietude, he was fully enabled to satisfy, with impunity, his thirst for conquest.

Notwithstanding all these flattering advantages, Henry might in all probability have failed in his ambitious projects, had it not been for the factions that divided France. There is indeed little reason to doubt this, if we calmly consider the small profit be derived from the glorious exploit which signalized the commencement of his martial career, and for which he had nevertheless been making preparations during two years with all the acumen of a skilful warrior and the most consummate negotiator. We of course allude to the battle, or rather the slaughter at Azincourt, in which

conflict the flower of the French' nobility perished or were made prisoners*. This signal victory, however, was productive of no beneficial consequences to the English, who were soon after obliged to return quietly to their own country, and did not further annoy their Gallic neighbours for the space of two years.

• It is well ascertained, that the English army, harassed by fatigue and weakened with sickness, would have been annihilated without beginning the contest, if the French generals had been guided by prudence. The memorable battle of Azincourt was fought on the 25th of October, 1415; the loss of the French being estimated at ten thousand men. “ Desquels dix mille," according to Monstrelet, ch. 149. vol. i. p. 226; “ on espérait y avoir environ seize cents varlets, et tout le surplus gentilshommes.From hence it is obvious, that Hume either did not comprehend Monstrelet, or consulted a very faulty edition of that historian ; since, after estimating the same loss at ten thousand men, according to Saint Remi, Ixiv. he adds, that Monstrelet computes the slaughter at eight thousand four hundred. Smollett, though almost a copyist of Monstrelet, in detailing this battle, has equally misunderstood bis author. He certainly states, that the French lost many officers of distinction, some of whom he enumerates by name, and about ten thousand men. Monstrelet, cxlix. gives a list of the principal gentlemen killed upon that occasion, and the catalogue occupies no less than two pages and a half grand-in-folio ; he then proceeds to give a detail of the prisoners of note, such as Charles duke of Orleans, the son of Louis; the count of Richemont, &c. Le Laboureur also inserts copious details of the circumstances attending this disaster, at page 1005 and following. Idem Juvenal, 394, &c. Chron. Manuscr. 532 to 535; and Choisy, page 443. VOL. I.


Time was thereby given for the French to recruit themselves; and they might have been taught by their late reverse to unite against the common enemy; but there was no longer any love of country in their breasts; nothing but factions existed in every quarter. Independent of the two leading parties already described, a third had been formed by Louis the Dauphin : indeed, even the profligate Isabella had her adherents; which circumstance furnished Voltaire, in his famous Essay, * with a reflection more ingenious than well-founded, which has so frequently been quoted, that Le Roi seul n'avait point de parti. It would, indeed, have been better that Charles VI. had not been seconded by any body; as in such case the factious who got possession of his person, would not have made use of his name and his authority in order to secure the neutrality of all the functionaries and citizens who continued faithful to the laws of duty and of honour. Indeed, we have merely mentioned the party of the Dauphin, which disappeared upon the demise of that prince, on the 18th of December, 1415, because, with a more worthy leader, and one possessing a proper capacity, he would have completely annihilated the other three, particularly at the period of the battle of Azincourt, when the heir to the monarchy had been named lieutenant

. Essai sur les Maurs, lxxix. This opinion is approved by Villaret, xiii. page 335.

general, being also master of the capital and of the king's person. On the contrary, both were placed under the dominion of the count of Armagnac, who was appointed Constable; when, in order to maintain his credit, he singly undertook to drive out the English by besieging Harfleur, * the sole but important conquest gained by the expedition of Henry V..

Two naval victories, one of which was gained by the duke of Bedford, completely annihilated the plans and the hopes of the Constable, and emboldened the duke of Burgundy to complete his dishonour and effect the ruin of France by ratifying a treaty so ignominious,t that he blushed at his own deed; and, whether owing to policy or a sentiment of shame, the details of this instrument

• Henry disembarked on the 14th of August, 1415, and immediately commenced the siege of that city, which undertook to surrender if it did not receive succour before the 18th September; and the place was accordingly given up, as no forces appeared to tender aid by the time stipulated.

+ The contents of this document were not ascertained until the eighteenth century, when Rymer's collection appeared, where they may be found, as well as in Rapin. This instrument bears date in the month of October, 1416; and, very shortly after, the duke of Burgundy sought to enter into an alliance with the Dauphin Jean, whose ruin he had thus endeavoured to compass by signing the treaty in question.-See Villuret, xiii, 415, and the ensuing note.

« AnteriorContinuar »