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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.t 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 1998. 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. 1.
not the art to exercise or to preserve his authority : impost succeeded impost, and one concussion proved only the forerunner of another, such constituting the climax of his political science; neither was he capable of masking these odious measures, but by the most ridiculous pretexts, which were abandoned as soon as he had reaped the fruits of his flagrant injustice. To this system there appeared to be no end; for Louis, overburdened with debts,* was every day borrowing; besides which, he was forced to supply the insatiable cupidity of Isabella ; and this completed the ruin of his reputation, which had long been sullied by his infamous connexion with that perfidious woman.
The duke of Burgundy, taking advantage of the crimes of his rival, set every engine on foot to blast his character.t No blame would have been attachable
events, it appears that it was considered as a right belonging to the first prince of the blood royal by the French people at large. -Laboureur, page 44 ; Villaret, xii. page 143.
• He did not pay a farthing towards his household expenses, which were enormous, the whole being procured on credit.Laboureur, page 515. Many other princes and noblemen followed this example. See the same historian, page 621; and Choisy, pages 296, 299.
† Louis had dared to assert that a general impost was established with the consent of his uncles; to this Philip gave the lie, by a manifesto which he profusely disseminated, and wherein he declaiined with great vehemence against imposts in general. See Laboureur, History, page 448.
to this prince, nay, even some share of praise might have been due to him, had he contented himself with thus paving the way to the disgrace of Louis ; but he established the credit of his own family on the ruins of legitimate authority; and thirty years were scarcely sufficient to open the eyes of the Parisians in this respect, whose blindness had uniformly continued, notwithstanding the evils into which they had been thereby plunged, and the crimes of the successor of Philip. A second lucid interval which Charles experienced, replaced the government in the hands of Philip, which Louis again strove to acquire at subsequent periods of the monarch's temporary convalescence. Charles was literally nothing more than a puppet in the hands of the two factions; as either reigning party, upon the return of his reason, made him sanction all the acts which had passed during their respective administrations ; and by this means the monarchy became one general scene of desolation. Thus the king recovered a temporary state of sanity only to perceive the horrors of his situation, and to aggravate the evils wherewith he was surrounded; and when a relapse took place, he was abandoned in a manner so cruel and disgraceful, that humanity sickens at the recital. Indeed, were it not for the ample and precise account given by historians concerning this affair, one might be led to doubt whether the heart of man could harbour such deliberate baseness. So absolutely absorbed in profligacy were the brother and wife of this unhappy monarch, as it is not only denied him the necessaries of life, but neglected to clothe his children, and sometimes left them in want of bread.
Five years rolled on, during which these troubles continued, when Philip died, at the beginning of 1404; and immediately Isabella and Louis, conceiving that from this time there would be no person to control their actions or give cause for apprehension, abandoned themselves to all the inebriety of their passions, paying no respect whatsoever to public opinion either in their depredations, or their unbridled licentiousness and debauchery.
It becomes a painful task to dwell upon the subject of two beings so entirely abandoned to immorality: it is, nevertheless, the duty of the historian to delineate truths still more aggravating; to depict, in short, one of the greatest villains that ever disgraced the records of history, who figured in the person of Jean sans Peur, the son of Philip, duke of Burgundy, who was more justly entitled to the appellation of Jean suns Vertus, had he not displayed very great talent in the art of war, and a rooted detestation for licentiousness and inordinate pleasures. It is much easier to recount the vices which this prince did not possess, than those wherewith his heart was gangrened: pride, ambition, impu
dence, hatred, cruelty, perfidy, and withal consummate hypocrisy, which last rendered him far more dangerous than all the rest of his vices combined.*
Scarcely were the ashes of Philip consigned to the tomb, when Jean, thus armed for iniquity at all points, appeared upon the great political scene. Charles had constituted Louis lieutenant-general of the kingdom of France; but he had also appointed a council composed of the leading characters in the state, whose decision was to constitute the law. Jean demanded and obtained a seat in this assembly, on account of his elevated rank, his real character being altogether unknown. Upon the very first occasion Louis was desirous of having recourse to his favourite object-a new impost; Jean opposed the measure ; on which occasion he depicted, in the most glowing language, the miseries endured by the people, and the misfortunes brought upon the state, by the malpractices of evil governors : his advice, as he had foreseen and desired it should be, was
* These complicated vices of Jean, duke of Burgundy, will be fully exemplified by the statements which follow, as well as from innumerable passages that might be quoted from the historians of his own time. Such verifications, however, are useless, as the character of Jean sans Peur is too well known to require any further elucidation.