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CHAPTER I.—now 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 > 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 mado 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.
During 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.
varlet of the bastard of Langres, and slew him: he then killed the bastard of Langres, and struck the duke of Orleans, his brother, who, although well armed, was wounded in the shoulder. He next wounded the lord de Saint Py, and would have put him to death had not God prevented it; for in making his thrust, he fell to the ground,—when, by the diligence of the lord de Coucy and others his faithful servants, the spear was with difficulty taken from him. Thence he was conducted to the said town of Mans, and visited by his physicians, who thought his case hopeless: nevertheless, by the grace of God, he recovered better health, and his senses, but not so soundly as he possessed them before this accident *. From that time he had frequent relapses,—and it was necessary, during his life, perpetually to look after him and keep him under strict observance.
Sicrness Of Charles The Well-brlovrd.—Composed from contemporary illuminations.
From this unfortunate disorder may be dated all the miseries and desolations that befel his realm; for then began all those jealousies between the princes of his blood, each contending for the government of the kingdom, seeing clearly that he was willing to act in any manner that those near his person desired, and in the absence of their rivals craftily advising him to their own private advantage, without attending to act in concert for the general good of the state. Some, however, acquitted themselves loyally, for which after their deaths they were greatly praised.
This king had several sons and daughters, whose names now follow, that lived to man's estate; first, Louis, duke of Aquitaine, who espoused the eldest daughter of the duke of Burgundy, but died without issue before the king his father; John, duke of Touraine, who married the only daughter of duke William of Bavaria, count of Hainault, who also died before his father, and without issue; Charles, married to the daughter of king Louis II. of Naples, who had issue that will be noticed hereafter: he succeeded to the crown of France on the death of his father.
He had five daughters: Isabella, the eldest, was first married to king Richard II. of England, and afterwards to Charles duke of Orleans, by whom she had a daughter; Jane,
• See 11 particular account of this attack in Froissart, died before the king suffered a relapse. After thi« the king book 4, eh. 44. His cure was effected by Master William never perfectly recovered the full use of his intellects—En. de llarseloy, a learned physician of the town of Laon, who
married to John duke of Brittany, had many children; Michelle, espoused Philip duke of Burgundy, but had no issue; Mary was a nun at Poissy; Catherine, married to Henry V. of England, had a son, Henry, who succeeded on the death of his father to the throne of England. King Charles had all these children by his queen, Isabella *, daughter to Stephen duke of Bavaria.
CHAPTER II. AN ESQUIRE OP ARRAGON, NAMED MICHEL D ORRIS, SENDS CHALLENGES TO
ENGLAND. THE ANSWER HE RECEIVES FROM A KNIGHT OF THAT COUNTRY.
At the beginning of this year one thousand four hundred, an esquire of Arragon, named Michel d'Orris, sent challenges to England of the following tenor:
"In the name of God and of the blessed Virgin Mary, I Michel d'Orris, to exalt my name, knowing full well the renown of the prowess of the English chivalry, have, from the date of this present letter, attached to my leg a piece of a greave t to be worn by me until I be delivered from it by an English knight performing the following deeds of arms :—First, to enter the lists on foot, each armed in the manner he shall please, having a dagger and sword attached to any part of his body, and a battle-axe, with the handle of such length as I shall fix on. The combat to be as follows: ten strokes with the battle-axe, without intermission; and when these strokes shall have been given, and the judge shall cry out, 'Ho!' ten cuts with the sword to be given without intermission or change of armour. When the judge shall cry out, ' Ho!' we will resort to our daggers, and give ten stabs with them. Should either party lose or drop his weapon, the other may continue the use of the one in his hand until the judge shall cry out, ' Ho!' When the combat on foot shall be finished, we will mount our horses, each armed as he shall please, but with two similar helmets of iron, which I will provide, and my adversary shall have the choice: each shall have what sort of gorget he pleases. I will also provide two saddles, for the choice of my opponent.
* The house of Bavaria was at this period split into so degrees of affinity without having recourse to a genealogical
many branches, the males of every branch retaining, accord- table. The following will suffice for the purpose of ex
ing to the German custom, the title of the head of the house, plaining Monstrelet: that it becomes a difficult task to point out their several
LEWIS THE SEVERE,
DUKE OF ALL BAVArIA.
There shall also be two lances of equal lengths, with which twenty courses shall be run, with liberty to strike on the fore or hinder parts of the body, from the fork of the body upward. These courses being finished, the following combats to take place: that is to say, should it happen that neither of us be wounded, wo shall be bound to perform, on that or on the following day, so many courses on horseback until one fall to the ground, or be wounded so that he can hold out no longer, each person being armed as to his body and head according to his pleasure. The targets to be made of horn or sinews, without any part being of iron or steel, and no deceit in them. The courses to be performed with the before-mentioned lances and saddles, on horseback ; but each may settle his stirrups as he pleases, but without any trick. To add greater authenticity to this letter, I Michel d'Orris have sealed it with the seal of my arms, written and dated from Paris, Friday the 27th day of May, in the year 1400."
The pursuivant Aly went with this letter to Calais, where it was seen by an English knight, called sir John Prendergast, who accepted the challenge, provided it were agreeable to his sovereign lord the king of England, and in consequence wrote the following answer to the Arragonian esquire:
"To the noble and honourable personage Michel d'Orris,—John Prendergast, knight, and familiar to the most high and puissant lord the earl of Somerset, sends greeting, honour and pleasure:—May it please you to know, that I have just seen your letter, sent hither by the pursuivant Aly, from which I learn the valiant desire you havo for deeds of arms, which has induced you to wear on your leg a certain thing that is of pain to you, but which you will not take off until delivered by an English knight performing with you such deeds of arms as are mentioned in your aforesaid letter. I, being equally desirous of gaining honour and amusement like a gentleman to the utmost of my power, in the name of God, of the blessed Virgin Mary, of my lords St. George and St. Anthony, have accepted and do accept your challenge, according to the best sense of the terms in your letter, as well to ease you from the pain you are now suffering as from the desire I have long had of making acquaintance with some of the French nobility, to learn more knowledge from them in the honourable profession of arms. But my acceptation of your challenge must bo subject to the good pleasure of my sovereign lord the king, that he may from his especial grace grant me liberty to fulfil it, either before his royal presence in England, or otherwise at Calais before my lord the earl of Somerset. And since you mention in your letter, that you will provide helmets, from which your adversary may chuse, and that each may wear such gorgets as he shall please, I wish you to know that to prevent any unnecessary delay by any supposed subtlety of mine respecting armour or otherwise, I will also bring with me two helmets and two gorgets for you, if you shall think proper, to chuse from them; and I promise you on my loyalty and good faith, that I will exert all my own influence and that of my friends, to obtain the aforesaid permission, of which I hope to God I shall not be disappointed. Should it be the good pleasure of the king to grant his consent, I will write to the governor of Boulogne on Epiphany-day next ensuing, or sooner if it be possible, to acquaint him of the time and place of combat, that you may be instantly informed of the willingness of my heart to comply with your request.
"Noble, honourable, and valiant lord, I pray the Author of all good to grant you joy, honour, and pleasure, with every kind thing you may wish to the lady of your affections, to whom I entreat that these presents may recommend me. Written at Calais, and sealed with my seal, this 11th day of June, in the year aforesaid."
This letter was sent to the Arragonian esquire; but the English knight not receiving an answer so soon as he expected, and the matter seeming to be delayed, he again wrote as follows:
"To the honourable Michel d'Orris, John Prendergast, knight, sends greeting.
"Since to ease you from the penance you have suffered, and still do suffer, in wearing the stump of the greave on your leg, I have consented to deliver you by a combat at arms described in your former letters, sealed with the seal of your arms; and in consequence of the request made by me and by my friends to my sovereign lord and king, who has ordained the most excellent and puissant lord of Somerset, his brother, governor of Calais, to be the judge of our combat, as I had written to yon by Aly the pursuivant, in my letter bearing date the 11th day of last June, and which you ought to have received and seen in proper time. This is apparent from letters of that noble and potent man the lord de Gaucourt, chamberlain to the king of France, bearing date the 20th day of January, declaring that he had forwarded my letter to you, to hasten your journey hitherward. You will have learnt from it that the day appointed for the fulfilment of our engagement is fixed for the first Monday in the ensuing month of May; for so it has been ordained by the king, our lord, in consequence of my solicitations. I must therefore obey; and since it has pleased that monarch, for various other weighty considerations touching his royal excellence, to order my lord, his brother, into other parts on the appointed day, he has condescended, at the humble requests of myself, my kindred, and friends, to nominate for our judge his cousin, my much honoured lord Hugh Lutrellier *, lieutenant to my aforesaid lord of Somerset, in the government of Calais. I am therefore ready prepared to fulfil our engagement in arms, under the good pleasure of God, St. George, and St. Anthony, expecting that you will not fail to meet me for the deliverance from your long penance; and, to accomplish this, I send you a passport for forty persons and as many horses. I have nothing more now to add, for you know how much your honour is concerned in this matter. I entreat therefore Cupid, the god of love, as you may desire the affections of your lady, to urge you to hasten your journey.—Written at Calais, and sealed with my arms, the 2d day of January, 1401."
THE THIRD LETTER WRITTEN AND SENT BY THE ENGLISH KNIGIIT TO THE ESQUIRE OP
"To the honourable man Michel d'Orris, John Prendergast, knight, sends greeting.
"You will be pleased to remember that you sent, by Aly the pursuivant, a general challenge, addressed to all English knights, written at Paris on Friday the 27th day of May, 1400, sealed with the seal of your arms. You must likewise recollect the answer I sent to your challenge, as an English knight who had first seen your defiance; which answer, and all that has since passed between us, I have renewed in substance, in my letters scaled with my arms, and bearing date the last day but one of April just passed. I likewise sent you a good and sufficient passport to come hither, and perform the promises held out by your letter, addressed to you in a manner similar to that of this present letter. Know, therefore, that I am greatly astonished, considering the purport of my letters, that I have not received any answer, and that you have not kept your appointment by meeting me on the day fixed on, nor sent any sufficient excuse for this failure.
"I am ignorant if the god of love, who inspired you with the courage to write your challenge, have since been displeased, and changed his ancient pleasures, which formerly consisted in urging on deeds of arms, and in the delights of chivalry. He kept the nobles of his court under such good government t that, to add to their honour, after having undertaken any deeds of arms, they could not absent themselves from the country where such enterprise was to be performed until it was perfectly accomplished, and this caused their companions not to labour or exert themselves in vain. I would not, therefore, ho should find me so great a defaulter in this respect as to banish me from his court; and consequently shall remain here until the eighth day of this present month of May, ready, with the aid of God, of St. George, and of St. Anthony, to deliver you, so that your lady and mine may know that, out of respect to them, I am willing to ease you of your penance, which, according to the tenor of your letter, you have suffered a long time, and have sufficient reason for wishing to be relieved from it. After the above-mentioned period, should you be unwilling to come, I intend, under God's pleasure, to return to England, to our ladies, where I hope to God that knights and esquires will bear witness that I have not misbehaved towards the god of love, to whom I recommend my lady and yours, hoping he will not be displeased with them for anything that may have happened.—Written at Calais, and sealed with my arms, the 2d day of May, 1401."
• Q. Luttrcl, or Latimer? the ancient courts of love, the institution of which was con
T The whole of this romantic passage seems to refer to siderably prior to the fifteenth century.