Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

OBSERVATIONS

on THE CHRONICLE of ENGUERRAND DE MONSTRELET, BY M. DE FoxCEMAGNE, MENTion RD IN THE PRECEDING PAGE, TRANSLATED FROM THE SIXTEENTH volumE OF THE “MEMOIRES DE L'AcADEMIE DE BELLEs-LETTREs,” &c.

The Chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, governor of Cambray, commences at the year 1400, where that of Froissart ends, and terminates at 1467; but different editors have successively added several continuations, which bring it down to the year 1516.

The critics have before remarked, that the first of these additions was nothing more than a chronicle of Louis XI., known under the name of the “Chronique Scandaleuse,” and attributed to John de Troyes, registrar of the hôtel-de-ville of Paris. Those who have made this remark should have added, that the beginning of the two works is different, and that they only become uniform at the description of the great floods of the Seine and Marne, which happened in 1460, for the author takes up the history at that year. This event will be found at the ninth page of the Chronique Scandaleuse (in the second volume of the Brussels edition of Comines), and at the third leaf of the last volume of Monstrelet (second order of ciphers), edition of 1603.

The second continuation includes the whole of the reign of Charles VIII. It is written by Pierre Desrey, who styles himself in the title, “simple orateur de Troyes en Champagne.” The greater part of this addition, more especially what respects the invasion of Italy, is again to be met with at the end of the translation of Gaguin's chronicle made by this same Desrey; at the conclusion of “La Chronique de Bretagne,” by Alain Bouchard ; and in the history of Charles VIII., by M. Godefroi, page 190, where it is called “a relation of the expedition of Charles VIII.”

M. de Foncemagne says nothing more of the other continuations, which he had not occasion to examine with the same care; but he thinks they may have been taken from those which Desrey has added to his translation of Gaguin, as far as the year 1538. This notice may be useful to those who shall study the history of Louis XI. and of Charles VIII., inasmuch as it will spare them the trouble and disgust of reading several times the same things, which they could have no reason to suspect had been copied from each other.

We should be under great obligations to the authors of rules for reading, if, in pointing out what on each subject ought to be read, they would at the same time inform us what ought not to be read. This information is particularly necessary in regard to old chronicles, or what are called in France Recueils de Pièces. The greater part of the chroniclers have copied each other, at least for the years that have preceded their own writings: in like manner, an infinite number of detached pieces have been published by different editors. Thus books multiply, volumes thicken, and the only result to men of letters is an increase of obstacles in their progress.

The learned Benedictine, who is labouring at the collection of French historians, has wisely avoided this inconvenience in regard to the chronicles”. A society of learned men announced in 1734 an alphabetical library, or a general index of ancient pieces scattered in those compilations known under the names of Spicilegia, Analectae, Anecdote, by which would be seen at a glance in how many places the same piece could be found. This project, on its appearance, gave rise to a literary warfare, the only fruit of which was to cool the zeal of the illustrious authors who had conceived it, and to prevent the execution of a work which would have been of infinite utility to the republic of letterst.

* See his preface at the head of the first volume, p. 7. indicis Sorbonici, seu bibliothecae alphabetica, quam ador

t Epistola plurium doctorum de societate Sorbonică ad nant, &c. 1734. illustrissimum marchionem Scipionem Maffeium, deratione

THE

PROLOGUE

TO THE

CHRONICLES OF ENGUERRAND DE MONSTRELET.

S Sallust says, at the commencement of his Bellum Catili

narium, wherein he relates many extraordinary deeds of arms done by the Romans and their adversaries, that every man ought to avoid idleness, and exercise himself in good works, to the end that he may not resemble beasts, who are only useful to themselves unless otherwise instructed; and as there cannot be any more suitable or worthy occupation than handing down to posterity the grand and magnanimous feats of arms, and the inestimable subtleties of war which by valiant men have been performed, as well those descended from noble families as others of low degree, in the most Christian kingdom of France, and in many other countries of Christendom under different laws, for the instruction and information of those who in a just cause may be desirous of honourably exercising their prowess in arms; and also to celebrate the glory and renown of those who by strength of courage and bodily vigour have gallantly distinguished themselves, as well in sudden rencounters as in pitched battles, armies against armies, or in single combats, like as valiant men ought to do, who, reading or hearing these accounts, should attentively consider them, in order to bring to remembrance the above deeds of arms and other matters worthy of record, and especially particular acts of prowess that have happened within the period of this history, as well as the discords, wars, and quarrels, that have arisen between princes and great lords of the kingdom of France, also between those of the adjoining countries, that have been continued for a long time, specifying the causes whence these wars have had their origin.

I, Enguerrand de Monstrelet, descended from a noble family, and residing, at the time of composing this present book, in the noble city of Cambray, a town belonging to the empire of Germany, employed myself in writing a history in prose, although the matter required a genius superior to mine, from the great weight of many of the events relative to the royal majesty of princes, and grand deeds of arms that will enter into its composition. It WOL. I. B

[graphic]

requires also great subtlety of knowledge to describe the causes of many of the events, seeing that several of them have been very diversely related. I have frequently marvelled within myself how this could have happened, and whether the diversity of these accounts of the same event could have any other foundation than in party-prejudice; and perhaps it may have been the case, that those who have been engaged in battles or skirmishes have paid so much attention to conduct themselves with honour, that they have been unable to notice particularly what was passing in other parts of the field of battle. Nevertheless, as I was from my youth fond of hearing such histories, I took pains, according to the extent of my understanding until of mature age, to make every diligent inquiry as to the truth of different events, and questioned such persons as from their rank and birth would disdain to relate a falsehood, and others known for their love of truth in the different and opposing parties, on every point in these chronicles from the first book to the last ; and particularly, I made inquiries from kings-at-arms, heralds, pursuivants, and lords resident on their estates, respecting the wars of France, who, from their offices or situations, ought to be well informed of facts, and relaters of the truth concerning them. On their informations often repeated, and throwing aside everything I thought doubtful or false, or not proved by the continuation of their accounts, and having maturely considered their relations, at the end of a year I had them fairly written down, and not sooner. I then determined to pursue my work to a conclusion, without leaning or showing favour to any party, but simply to give to every one his due share of honour, according to the best of my abilities; for to do otherwise would be to detract from the honour and prowess which valiant and prudent men have acquired at

the risk of their lives, whose glory and renown should be exalted in recompense for their noble deeds.

And inasmuch as this is a difficult undertaking, and cannot be pleasing to all parties, some of whom may maintain, that what I have related of particular events is not the truth; I therefore entreat and request all noble persons who may read this book, to excuse me if they find in it some things that may not be perfectly agreeable to them ; for I declare I have written nothing but what has been asserted to me as fact, and told to me as such, and, should it not prove so, on those who have been my informants must the blame be laid. If, on the contrary, they find any virtuous actions worthy of preservation, and that may with delight be proposed as proper examples to be followed, let the honour and praise be bestowed on those who performed them, and not on me, who am simply the narrator.

This present Chronicle will commence on Easter-day, in the year of grace 1400, at which time was concluded the last volume of the Chronicles of sir John Froissart, native of Valenciennes in Hainault, whose renown on account of his excellent work will be of long duration. The first book of this work concludes with the death of Charles VI. the most christian and most worthy king of France, surnamed “the well beloved,” who deceased at his hôtel of St. Pol, at Paris, near the Celestins, the 22d day of October 1422. But that the causes of these divisions and discords which arose in that most renowned and excellent kingdom of France may be known, discords which caused such desolation and misery to that realm as is pitiful to relate, I shall touch a little at the commencement of my history on the state, government, manners and conduct of the aforesaid king Charles during his youth.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER I.-How CHARLES THE well-BELovED REIGNED IN FRANCE, AFTER HE HAD BEEN CROWNED AT RHEIMS, IN THE YEAR THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY.

N conformity to what I said in my prologue, that I would speak of the state and government of King Charles VI. of France, surnamed the Well-beloved, in order to explain the causes of the divisions and quarrels of the princes of the blood royal during his reign and afterward, I shall devote this first chapter to that purpose. True it is, that the above-mentioned king Charles the Wellbeloved, son to king Charles V. began to reign and was * crowned at Rheims the Sunday before All-saints-day, in the A year of grace one thousand three hundred and eighty, as is fully described in the Chronicles of sir John Froissart. He was then but fourteen years old, and thenceforward for some time governed his kingdom right well. By following prudent advice at the commencement of his reign, he undertook several expeditions, in which, considering his youth, he conducted himself soberly and valiantly, as well in Flanders, where he gained the battle of Rosebecque and reduced the Flemings to his obedience, as afterwards in the valley of Cassel and on that frontier against the duke of Gueldres. He then made preparations at Sluys for an invasion of England. All which enterprises made him redoubted in every part of the world that heard of him. But Fortune, who frequently turns her wheel against those of high rank as well as against those of low degree, began to play him her tricks"; for, in the year one thousand three hundred and ninety-two, the king had resolved in his council to march a powerful army to the town of Mans, and thence invade Brittany, to subjugate and bring under his obedience the duke of Brittany, for having received and supported the lord Peter de Craon, who had beaten and insulted in Paris, to his great displeasure, sir Oliver de Clisson, his constable. On this march, a most melancholy adventure befel him, which brought on his kingdom the utmost distress, and which I shall relate, although it took place prior to the date of this history. pig the time the king was on his march from Mans towards Brittany, attended by his princes and chivalry, he was suddenly seized with a disorder which deprived him of his reason. He wrested a spear from the hands of one of his attendants, and struck with it the

* This quaint expression is manifestly adopted from Froissart, who uses it very often.

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »