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The court of Charles seemed anxious, in the first instance, to profit by these favourable circumstances; a general was required, and the count of Richemont was appointed to command the army. In order to induce him to accept this appointment it was necessary to bestow on him the sword of Constable, and other precious gifts. However, in acquiring the aid of the count, the duke of Brittany his brother became separated from the English faction: and beside this, auxiliary troops were obtained, of which Charles stood in the greatest need.
No sooner, however, were these succours procured, through the medium of negotiations, than
have been given in England, relating to the duke of Bedford, namely, at Sandwich on the 20th December, 1425, (No. 402;) at Worcester on the 9th March, 1425, (No. 488;) on the 12th idem at Leicester, (No. 636;) and at Westminster on the 5th of December, 1425, (No. 631.) The first letters patent subsequently given at Paris, bear date the 8th, 11th, and the 12th of April, 1426, before Easter, (Nos. 628, 630, 632, 647, 634, and 645.)
All these statements tend to confirm the assertion of the Journalist of Paris; and from hence it certainly does appear that the regent quitted that city at the commencement of December, 1425, (according to the present mode of calculating,) and that he returned the beginning of April, 1427, having been absent for the space of sixteen months. Villaret, vol. xiv. page 344, certainly ascribes the return of Bedford to the year 1427, but he is guilty of the same error as Humne and Daniel, in curtailing the period of his absence to eight months.
it appeared as if the court was wearied with the trouble which had been taken. One of the stipulations in the treaty had for its object the dismissal of several of the ministers or favourites of Charles, who were implicated in a conspiracy against the duke of Burgundy.
The ministers refused to fulfil this condition, in which determination they were supported by the mistresses * and most of the
• Although Charles VII. was surrounded by a worthless set of courtiers, he could boast a queen and a mistress who were possessed of many noble qualifications. Mary of Anjou, the wife of Charles, used every effort to raise her pusillanimous husband above himself; while Agnes Sorel, surnamed La Dame de Beauté, exerted all the influence she possessed over the king, to convert her royal lover into a heroic monarch ; regarding the noble allurements of glory as far superior to the frivolous blandishments of pleasure. The queen, fully sensible of the merits possessed by Agnes, not only admired her rival, but extended her generosity so far as to unite with her in striving to rouse the king to a sense of what was due to himself and his persecuted subjects. So truly exalted was Mary of Anjou, that she disdained the idea of jealousy; and while her magnanimity of soul equalled that of Agnes, she possessed a greater fund of virtue. Both united their prudent counsels and intrepid minds, to keep the crown upon the bead of their master.
It seems to have been the fate of Charles to grant all to females, to whom he was indebted for every thing. In fact, four women appear to have been of more service to him than all his ministers and generals combined. Jacquelina of Hainault disunited his enemies, Mary of Anjou and Agnes Sorel invigorated his courage, and Jeanne d'Arc led him on to glory and to triumph. It is
courtiers of Charles; one of whom carried his audacity so far as to assassinate an adversary in open council—and under the very eyes of his sovereign.*
generally acknowledged that Agnes died from the effects of poison, in 1449, administered, as is strongly surmised, at the instigation of Louis the dauphin, eldest son of Charles VII.
At the period of Agnes Sorel's death, Charles was at Jumieges, where he consoled himself for his loss by taking to mistress Antoinetta de Maiguelais, dame de Villequier, a cousin of Agnes Sorel; besides whom he had many other damsels to please his eye.See Mezeray, page 462.
Agnes Sorel was interred in the centre of the collegiate church of Loches; her effigy was represented in white marble, with two angels supporting a slab upon which her head reposed, while two lambs lay recumbent at her feet. She had bestowed considerable gifts upon this church; notwithstanding which, the prebends, conceiving that Louis XI. entertained the same hatred towards the beautiful Agnes after her death as he had cherished during her life, requested permission of that monarch to remove the tomb from the choir of the church; to which the prince consented, if the fathers were willing to restore all the riches which they had received at her hands.
The following couplets were penned by Francis I., on contemplating a portrait of Agnes Sorel :
“ Gentille Agnès, plus d'honneur tu mérites,
La cause étant de France recouvrer,
The Dauphin d'Auvergne was thus murdered by Tauneguy Duchâtel.-See Villaret, vol. xiv. page 315.
A scene unprecedented in the records of history then presented itself; the constable Richemont advanced towards the court at the head of a small army which he had raised by his personal influence. The king then fled from town to town in order to protect those ministers who were precipitating him to ruin, and he thus evaded the warrior who furnished him the means of preserving his crown.
Nothing more was wanting than the retreat of the princes of the blood royal, and the surrender of some cities to the enemy, when Charles would probably have listened to the voice of reason; yet such was his infatuation, that even then he might have remained blind to his own interests, if Tanneguy Duchâtel had not set the example to his colleagues by voluntarily retiring from the court. *
Ultimately, however, Richemont, having overcome every obstacle, assembled an army of twenty thousand men in Brittany: and thus, at the be
• The famous president Louvet was desirous, on retiring, to preserve all his influence, or rather, to be well assured that the same disorganized state of affairs should continue, although he could no longer participate in the spoil. For this purpose be left Giac, one of his creatures, at court, and advised Charles to select him as his favourite. Louvet had arrived to such a pitch of power, that count Dunois did not disdain to court an alliance with his family. - See Daniel, vii. page 31; Villaret, xiv.
ginning of 1426, he found himself enabled to invade Normandy, and attack the English in the very heart of their possessions. After taking Pontorson, he laid siege to Saint James de Beuvron, which was the barrier of that province. The enterprise would, doubtless, have been crowned with success; but Giac, a favourite of Charles, aided by one of the ministers, a native of Brittany, * prevented the fortunate result of the expedition by withholding the sums reserved for the payment of the soldiers. The army in consequence disbanded; when Richemont, in despair, boldly attempted an assault with the few forces that remained ; in which effort, however, he was completely beaten.
What a lesson this for Charles ! Any other being but himself would have degraded and severely punished the author of this disaster; but a flatterer is more esteemed by a weak prince than the possession of a kingdom, and the welfare of a courtier dearer than the happiness of a whole people. Giac now became audacious in his measures; and it
The chancellor of Brittany, (see the History of Richemont, page 749; Daniel, vii. page 33; Villaret, xiv. page 321.)
In November 1425, Charles VII. had obtained of the clergy of Languedoc two tenths; and of the commons the sum of 250,000 livres in support of the war, besides twelve thousand for his private pleasures. Giac, abusing the credit he had obtained over his master, placed nearly the whole of these sums to his own account. (See D. Vaissette, iv. page 467.)