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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.)
was necessary to impede his course ; the constable caused his arrest, then judged him by a commission, and delivered him over to be executed, in spite of the king. Richemont, however, did not deign to adopt that formality of justice in regard to Beaulieu, who had succeeded to the monarch's favour as well as to the insolence and extortionate proceedings of Giac, his predecessor; on this occasion he employed the hand of an assassin.
These acts of violence, so reprehensible in themselves, and so injurious to the sovereign, excited sentiments of pity towards Charles VII.; and some historians have sought to justify his conduct under an idea that his misfortunes made him require a confidant. A dissipation of the public treasure, and the consequent invasion and loss of provinces from a want of the means of defence, were the ordinary services of the pretended friends of Charles ! Suppose even a defect of judgment could have prompted him to make so bad a choice : he could not adduce the common palliative of inexperience ; for, when Richemont, perceiving that some favourite was absolutely necessary for his prince, proposed Trimouille as a person fit to replace Beaulieu : “ You will repent,” said Charles, “ I know him better than you.” After such a reply any comment is unnecessary. It will be sufficient to observe, that the manæuvres of Giac and Beaulieu, and the effect produced by the operations resorted to in effecting
their overthrow, completely exhausted for one year, (after the check experienced at Beuvron,) all the resources that remained to Charles, and thus prevented him from affording succour to many places which the English were besieging and ultimately conquered. *
The influence which Trimouille obtained over the king became even more fatal; he induced him to neglect the favourable opportunity of acting during the absence of the regent; and the duke of Bedford, after having arranged affairs in England, returned in 1427, with considerable subsidies and twenty thousand men. The king's partisans did not deign to trouble themselves respecting the movements of the regent, who marched unmolested into Brittany; forcing the duke to renounce his alliance with Charles, t and to sign a treaty by which the
• We must, however, except Montargis, which was besieged by Warwick and Suffolk, and succoured by Dunois—at least it appears froin history, that about this time the expedition in question was undertaken. The French also surprised Mans about the same period; but Talbot and Suffolk drove them from thence, and afterwards got possession of Laval.—See Villaret, xiv. page 344.
+ Hume makes mention of this expedition as at the end of the year 1426, and then immediately after passes on to 1428, without noticing any event of the intervening year. But the circumstance that tends to do away all uncertainty as to the precise period of the duke of Bedford's expedition, and demonstrates the error in Hume, is a letter of the 8th of September, 1427,
monarch would have been disinherited. Trimouille, seeking only his own aggrandisement and the acquisition of riches, did not interest himself about the welfare or ruin of the monarchy; and such was his shameful abuse of princely favour, that he at length forced the most zealous royalists and princes of the blood, in disgust, to declare themselves against the king, and forcibly take possession of Bourges, which then ranked as his capital. This civil war, through the exertions of the true friends of royalty, or, perhaps, because Trimouille perceived that it would be detrimental to his interests, was at length appeased; but, in the interim, no steps were taken against the English, who resorted to every measure which could render the opening campaign of 1428 successful.*
We are now arrived at the period when France
preserved in the Treasury of Charters, (see Melanges, v. iii. No.98, page 403,) wherein the duke of Brittany solemnly renounces all alliance to the prejudice of Henry, therein promising to obey him as well as the regent duke of Bedford, &c. (This document is quoted, with the oaths pronounced by the inhabitants of many towns, &c. of Brittany, in Dutillet, Recueil des Traités, 359 to 361.) The king of Navarre on the 16th of the same month tendered a similar oath for the duchy of Nemours. Dutillet, ibid. 345, 362.
• Hume, when speaking of the siege of Orleans, says that Bedford resolved upon attempting an enterprise, which, in case of success, would turn the balance completely in his favour, and pave a way for the entire subjection of France.
seemed verging upon her complete overthrow; for she was assailed by a most formidable enemy, and almost entirely divested of the means of defence. Intestine divisions and universal plunder had overwhelmed the state during the reign of Charles VI., and continued for the first six years of the administration of his son. France was a prey to a succession of evils, differing only in their nature, without the slightest alleviation ; for the weakness and the dissipation of Charles VII. were as dangerous as the mental derangements to which his father had been subject.
The mode of warfare at the period of which we are speaking, was much more destructive than at present ; for besides regular battles, simple combats, and the besieging of cities, incessant contests were carried on between the garrisons or the bands of adventurers, who occupied the castles or strong holds. France was in a state of convulsion from one extremity to the other; and when a temporary cessation of hostilities took place, the depredations committed by hordes of unlicensed freebooters rendered the state of the country equally deplorable.
The reader may inquire what became of the riches of France? The reply is, that during the long subversion of affairs, agriculture and commerce had dwindled into nothing : on the other hand, the essence of war, which consists in wasting many things without replacing any, necessarily caused