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sperity; and with the greater semblance of reason, as the finances of all the neighbouring states were in a most impoverished condition. It would be futile to suppose that these riches were carefully hoarded up by a man whose boundless pride was solely bent on his own aggrandizement. The rank of first prince of the blood, and the eminent post of regent, did not satisfy his inordinate vanity, crown could alone satiate his ambition; and the hope of effecting the conquest of Naples, in his opinion, sanctioned the attempt to gain it.
To accomplish this scheme, after having exhausted the royal treasures in the short space of two months; in order to make good the deficit, he became as cruel as rapacious in pillaging the people, rendering himself equally dreaded by his subjects as by the enemies of the state. New imposts were imperiously called for to augment the scanty supplies exacted from the public; these measures fomented revolts,* and forced
* Le Laboureur speaks positively respecting these popular tumults, at page 50 of his introductory matter; and in regard to the rigorous measures pursued, as well as for a detail of such commotions, see the same history, pages 6, 13, 15, 35, and 41. It was, above all, in the month of February, 1384, at the return from the expedition which had been undertaken to Flanders, that these coercive measures were in particular resorted to. Many of the Parisians, in easy circumstances, were punished with death, and thousands of the citizens condemned to pay penalties which ended in their complete ruin, without the public treasury being in any degree benefited.
the government to adopt those rigorous proceedings which very soon terminated in alienating the affection and respect of the citizens.
The regent had not yet completed the preparations for his expedition, when, as a just punishment for his crimes, he lost his life; upon which Philip le Hardi, duke of Burgundy, one of his brothers, hastened the young king, Charles VI., into a fresh war, from motives of self-interest. Flanders, which was one day to become his territory, in right of his wife, only gave him a precarious power; because the Flemish, enriched by their commerce, were incessantly struggling against their sovereigns : and it was, therefore, upon this account that Philip le Hardi impelled the French monarch to march with a formidable force, for the purpose of reducing that people to subjection. The victory of Rosbecq, obtained by the French, on the 11th November, 1382,* inflicted a blow from the effects of which the Flemish could not recover: this event strengthened the au
The above date of the battle of Rosbecq, which is omitted by Villaret, is in the history of Laboureur, page 63.
Notwithstanding the Flemish revolted several times, this victory was certainly a decisive blow; in proof of which, a conclusive authority may be found in the discourse delivered by the ambassadors of Louis XI. to Charles le Téméraire, great grandson of Philip, in 1470. “ Never," said they, “ would the dukes of Burgundy have enjoyed such uninterrupted good fortune, had not Charles VI. humbled the Flemish, and re-established your grandfather in the possession of his estates.” -See Villaret, xvii. 387.
thority of the counts of Flanders, and subsequently that of the house of Burgundy. Thus, the revenues of the French monarchy, and the blood of the people, served to cement an empire, which, in less than thirty years afterwards, had very nearly overturned its own government. Philip was not destitute of virtues, or attachment to France ; but the pernicious impulse of ambition stiffed every nobler sentiment: nor was he, when invested with authority, very scrupulous in his measures, provided he could by any means enrich his own family.*
Although the second brother of Charles V., John, duke of Berri, did not thirst after a diadem, he no less contributed to increase the public calamities.t His whole life was one tissue of such extravagant
* And it might also be said, to satisfy his own inclination for magnificence and ceremony; since the attendants on Philips court were far more numerous and splendid than those of the French king, as will be found from a list of such personages, which does not occupy less than 91 pages : this document is to be found in the continuation of the Journal de Paris, as well as in Choisy, page 222. The duke also caused every thing to be paid him, even to the expedition undertaken against Flanders for his own particular interest; yet, notwithstanding these enormous exactions, he died insolvent. See the Introduction of Laboureur, page 90, &c., who recites a number of exactions of Philip le Hardi,
† John, duc de Berri, voluntarily renounced all idea of governing, that he might enjoy the right of pillaging the people. He pretended that the provinces were indebted to him in all that his
dissipation, that absolutely nothing remained from the rapine and the plunder of every description of which he was guilty, during a lapse of thirty-six years. The royal treasures were lavished in useless prodigality, excepting only such sums as were expended in erecting palaces and churches, and furnishing the latter with an immense number of reliques.*
Preparations had been made for an expedition against England, which, to all appearance, would have impeded for a length of time any war between the two countries. The fleet was upon the point
deceased brother, the duke of Anjou, bad wrested from them. The prodigality of this prince converted him into a complete tyrant, and the consequence was, that whole towns, subject to his government, emigrated to Spain.
* In the inventory of the goods of this prince, appears the following singular collection of saintly scraps, viz. :- 1. A rib of Saint Zacharias; 2. Another of Saint Barbe; 3. Half of a foot of Saint Cyprian; 4. Half of the sponge whereon the Holy Virgin wept the martyrdom of Saint Stephen; 5. Half of the gridiron of Saint Lawrence; 6. Half of the rib of Saint Anthony: (see Laboureur's Introduction, page 85,) independent of which he had given numerous other reliques to different churches. For instance, to the abbey of Saint Denis, a part of the skull and the arm of Saint Benedict; for which he obtained in return the chin of Saint Hilary, and subsequently the hand of Saint Thomas the Apostle. See the same history, pages 249, 327, and 436; Juvenal des Ursins, page 127
† The arrangements for the accomplishment of this undertaking had been prodigious. Among other objects, at the beginning of
of sailing, and only waited for the duke of Berri, as first prince of the blood royal, to assume the command: he, however, did not think fit to join in due time, fearful lest Charles VI. should reap the honour of the enterprise ; and thus, the enormous preparations were rendered abortive.
To describe these princes, is to convey a faint idea of the sufferings which France experienced during the first eight years of the reign of Charles VI., which comprised the period of their administration: nor does it less tend to delineate what the country must have suffered even to the period of their deaths; when the king's extraordinary delirium left them at liberty to re-assume the sovereign authority, or to struggle and intrigue in order to acquire it. Notwithstanding this, it will scarcely be credited that France would have fared much better had Philip and John lived as well as the monarch; even supposing the latter had uniformly continued insane, and under their direction.
In the first place, the administration exercised immediately under the direction of Charles, during the four years that he estranged himself from them,
August, 1986, nine hundred transports were assembled at the port of Ecluse; Smollett computes them at twelve hundred. The duke of Berri did not arrive until the middle of the equinox; so that the tempestuous weather, conjoined with the English forces, destroyed the major part of this numerous fleet.