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merely tended to place public affairs in the hands of
* This was Pierre de Craon, who had endeavoured to procure the assassination of the constable; the duke, however, solemnly
See protested his ignorance respecting the retreat of Craon. Laboureur's History, page 216 ; Choisy, page 162; Villaret, xii, 110, &c.
The dukes of Berri and of Burgundy, irritated at finding that the spoil of France, which they had been accustomed to regard as their own patrimony, had been consigned by the monarch to other hands, waited with impatience for the moment when they might vent their rage and avenge themselves.
Too soon did the evil genius of France present the favourable opportunity, -if, indeed, they themselves were not accessory to this event. The appearance of the pretended spectre * which first
* About the beginning of August, 1392, it was apparent that Charles, in his words and actions, became somewhat changed, at which period he expressed a desire of riding out armed in the open country; and in consequence he mounted on horseback, when, after proceeding some distance, there came to meet him an ill-looking, man, in wretched attire, poor, and of miserable appearance, (some authors state he wore the garb of an hermit,) who, seizing the bridle of his palfrey, thus addressed the monarch: “King, where goest thou? proceed no farther, thou art betrayed, and it is intended to deliver thee into the hands of thine adversaries." Upon this Charles VI. immediately became frantic, running distractedly in all directions, and striking whomsoever he met; whereby four men were killed.
Every effort was diligently pursued in order to secure the king, who was conducted to his chamber, and placed upon a bed, where he continued, neither moving hands nor feet, being apparently dead ; and, upon the arrival of the physicians, they adjudged him to be gone past all hopes of recovery; every one wept and lamented; and in this state he was exposed to the view of those who wished to behold him. This singular occurrence took place in the forest of Mans, which Charles was traversing, in order to go to the attack of the
occasioned the mental derangement of Charles ---that apparition which is said to have presented itself just as the expedition against Brittany was completed, a measure those princes had uniformly opposed, because the duke was their ally; the particular care they took in making no inquiry into this singular affair; the eagerness displayed in abandoning the expedition on resuming their authority; the immediate and active proceedings instituted against the ministers who might have unveiled the machinations connected with this apparition ; everything leads to a conjecture of their having been the primary agents in this mysterious occurrence.*
In whatsoever light, however, the event may be regarded, from the character of these princes, no one
duke of Brittany. Charles, however, recovered, and lived for twenty-two years afterwards, being frequently subject to these strange attacks; and died at the Hotel of Saint Pol, in the fiftythird year of his age.-See the History of Laboureur, p. 219; Choisy, p. 163; Villaret, xii. 117.
Independent of this supposed spectre, history details the account of a grand ball, at which the fire caught the habiliments of the king, who wore the disguise of a satyr; which circumstance again turned his brain, the event having occurred at the end of the January following.- Laboureur, page 235; Juvenal, page 115. Some writers, however, conjecture that these accidents only tended to increase a disease which had its origin in the debaucheries that took place during the youth of this unfortunate prince.---Laboureur, page 326; Choisy, pages 165, 185.
will imagine that France acquired much additional prosperity; because, having to make good the time lost during the reign of ministers and courtiers, it is but natural to suppose they adopted with redoubled ardour the means most expedient to facilitate their depredations, and augment their power. This line of conduct they uniformly pursued for the period of six years, during which they disposed of the kingdom just as suited their own convenience. Yet, however incredible it may seem, so wretched a state of affairs was nevertheless to give place to a still more deplorable order of things.
During this interval, Louis, duke of Orleans, the king's brother, and the queen, acquired the age of maturity. Louis possessed a very engaging exterior; he was affable, endearing, eloquent; and by obliging and generous manners, usurped an ascendency over the mind, and riveted the affections, before his real character could be ascertained: his conduct, however, soon unmasked the hidden duplicity of his soul and the depravity of his heart. ostentatious from taste, addicted to uncontrolled dissipation, not less audacious in rapine than his uncles; totally divested of the military talents of the one, and the faculties as an administrator possessed by the other; in short, he carried to an excess the vice of concupiscence, which was not imputed to either of them. Sacrificing every thing to his pre
dilection for debauchery, he even dared to pollute the bed of his own brother, — of his sovereign; and that, too, at a period when he scrupulously observed the forms of the most degrading superstition.
From this statement, some opinion may be formed respecting the character of his accomplice in iniquity, Isabella of Bavaria. Her name is, indeed, a stain upon the page of history; nor have four centuries sufficed to wipe away from the recollection of the French nation the odium so justly attached to her memory.
This unnatural pair, so flagitious in crime, did not fail to thirst after power, which they soon obtained, at a period when Charles enjoyed a faint ray of reason ;* and it must be confessed that the office of regent did, by right, devolve upon Louis, as being first prince of the blood royal. He, however, had
* For a long period a misunderstanding had taken place between Louis and his uncles, and their quarrel became manifest in 1401. The adverse parties set their forces in motion about the month of December; subsequently, however, they became reconciled, and on the 14th of January, swore to maintain an inviolable friendship. During this interval of peace, Philip proposed to perform a journey to Arras, for the purpose of witnessing the nuptials of one of his sons. Scarcely, however, had he taken his departure, (the middle of April, 1402,) than Louis demanded and obtained the sovereign authority. See Laboureur, pages 441, 447. Juvenal states, at page 168, that their quarrels existed in 1398. See also Choisy, 234, 262; Villaret, xii. pages 328, 348.
+ It is true that no positive law existed on this head, but, at all VOL. I.