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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 he 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 bence 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 his 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 balf 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.
Time was thereby given for the French to recruit themselves ; and they might bave 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 lleurs, lxxix. This opinion is approved by Villartt, xiii. page 335.
general, being alsó 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,f 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 che ensuing note.
were concealed with such scrupulous care, as to remain a secret for three succeeding centuries. The duke therein recognised Henry V. of England as king of France and his liege lord; and engaged to combat against Charles and his children in every possible way, until they should be dethroned and this upon the faith of his body, and the word of a prince !
The reverses which he had experienced, and more especially this confederacy, would have opened the eyes of the Count of Armagnac in regard to his real interests, had the spirit of faction possessed less influence over his mind; but the sudden deaths of the king's elder sons * 'tended completely to blind him. Convinced of the support of the third heir (Charles VII.), he solely occupied himself in the preservation of power, and every means to maintain his own authority appeared justifiable. His grand effort was to continue master of Paris, and have the king at his disposal ; which objects attained, he became indifferent about the English invading the
• Jean the Dauphin, who had succeeded to Louis, died on Monday the 5th of April, 1416, before Easter, and consequently about six months subsequent to the treaty of which we have spoken in the foregoing note. It may not be amiss to observe that the Count of Armagnac bad been freed from another rival, powerful by reason of his 'rank and influence, in the death of the duke of Berri at the siege of Harfleur. (Villaret, xiii. page 407.)