Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

imperial claim inconsistent with the entire independence of the crown. After this he remained during his visit upon the most cordial and familiar terms with Henry and his court.1

Having offered his mediation while at Paris, an embassy had been fitted out under the Bishop of Rheims and other nobles, and these accompanied the Emperor to London. But, before any progress could be made in the negotiation, an event occurred which widened still more the breach between the two countries. The Count d'Armagnac had succeeded D'Albret as Constable after the battle of Agincourt, and he had soon taken occasion to signalize his accession to the command. Dorset, the Governor of Harfleur, had, immediately before the Emperor's arrival in England, sallied forth with a force of three thousand men, and pillaged the country to the gates of Rouen. The French, under Armagnac, had set upon him with a superior army, retaken all the booty and the prisoners captured by him, pursued him with great loss, forced him to seek shelter under the walls of Harfleur, and had only been prevented from taking the whole English force by a severe reverse sustained in attempting to intercept them before they reached the town. The result of this expedition, however, had compelled Dorset to remain wholly on the defensive; and Armagnac, profiting by the naval superiority which enabled the French at that time to insult the whole southern coast of England, laid siege to Harfleur, which he invested closely on all sides. The garrison was thus reduced to the greatest extremity by the want of all supplies; and Henry was under the necessity of either surrendering it or fitting out an expedition, which, by giving him the command of the sea, might enable him to relieve the place. He decided on the latter course, with his wonted promptitude; and so great anxiety was felt for the success of the enterprise, the rather because the French had obtained the naval assistance of their Genoese allies, that he was minded to take the command himself; but the Emperor, who had insinuated himself into his confidence by the dislike which he showed of France, dissuaded him from an undertaking that seemed fitter for subordinate hands, and the Duke of Bedford was intrusted with the conduct of it. In this service that prince displayed his accustomed gallantry and skill. Notwithstanding most unfavourable weather, both storms and calms opposing him, he defeated the French fleet, and captured the three largest of the Genoese vessels. That the enemy's loss, however, could not have been so great, nor his discomfiture so complete, as contemporary historians have represented, is manifest Aii14 from this, that when the duke followed up 1416his victory by attempting to victual the besieged town, he was again opposed, and had to disperse a naval force collected against him the day after the engagement. This further success enabled him to accomplish his purpose; the garrison was relieved

1 Hoi., iii. 85. Goodw., 103.

K

by sufficient supplies, and Armagnac raised the siege.1

These events, however, frustrated all Sigismund's well-meant endeavours to effect an accommodation between France and England. Henry was evidently disinclined to peace: he gave as a reason against it, that the discomfiture of Dorset's expedition would be regarded as having disheartened, if not dismayed him; but his hopes of further success were the real cause of his determination to persist in the war; and these hopes were grounded not more upon his past victories, both by sea and land, than upon the state of affairs in France. He therefore renewed his former extravagant demands of the restitution of all that had ever belonged to the English crown. The Emperor, despairing of peace, returned to his own dominions; and Henry accompanied him as far as Calais, where he renewed his intrigues with the Burgundian, whom the French court so vehemently suspected of siding with the common enemy, that orders were given to exclude his envoys from the conference then holding of the French delegates at Constance, in connexion with the proceedings of the Council.2 But the better opinion seems to be that this unprincipled man was not sufficiently satisfied of Henry's success against France to break with her and side with him; while it is certain that the only documents of the negotiation which have reached us are unfinished drafts of conventions that were never executed. Between Henry and Sigismund, on the other hand, a treaty was concluded, by which each party became bound ^U2, u to aid the other if attacked, and to make 1416neither peace nor war without giving the other notice, and each engaged to assist the other in prosecuting his claims against France.1 This Qct. 19 treaty was afterwards confirmed in Parlia- 1416ment.2

1 T. Elm., 79. T. Jay., 25. Hardynge, 377. Monstrel., c. clxv. T. Wals., 441. Hoi., iii. 84. Hall, 73. Otterb., i. 278. Note XXXIX.

« Monstrel., ch. clxi. Rym., is. 401, 436.

It was not without good grounds that Henry reckoned upon the divided councils which paralysed and the intestine dissensions which distracted France. The Burgundian, who upon the defeat at Agincourt had marched as far as Lagny, and, after a lengthened halt in that town,3 finding he could not succeed in an attempt to regain his influence at Paris, had returned to his own states, proceeded, on the Duke de

-n -, i i "» i T» i . June, 1416.

Bern s death, to seize upon the xJoulonnais as an escheat to his own duchy. Thus he was ever ready to take advantage of any change, but especially of any change unfavourable to the party of the Armagnacs. The new Constable, their leader, intoxicated with the ascendant which he had gained over his rival, had made himself hated by many acts of oppression. The King's malady only allowed him occasional lucid intervals. A foul conspiracy of the Burgundian to seize his person, and murder the Queen Isabel and her counsellors, had failed through an accident, but left a general distrust and alarm in men's minds. The Dauphin Lewis having died, and been succeeded by his brother John, a youth entirely under the Burgundian influence, he too died in the following spring, suddenly, and not without suspicion of having been poisoned by the Armagnacs; and thus the Constable became sole possessor of the King's person, as well as that of Charles, who succeeded his brother as Dauphin and heir-apparent to the crown.

• Rym., ix. 401, 436, 377. * Rot. Pari., iv. 96.

* His lingering six weeks there got him the name at Paris of Jean ile Lagny, and Jean le Long, instead of Jean Sans I'eur.

In this state of things it was that Henry pressed forward his preparations for another campaign. But these had been commenced before the end of the preceding year, while affairs in France wore by no means so bad an aspect; nor can we doubt that the hope of plunder alone dictated this, as it certainly had occasioned the former invasion, any rational expectation of conquest being at the time wholly impossible to be Oct. 19 entertained. The rupture of the negotia1416- tion patronised by the Emperor was announced to Parliament at its meeting in October; the embarrassment of French affairs only became hopelessly complicated in the ensuing spring; and the accidental quarrel between the Armagnacs and the Queen, which alone could give the chance of permanent success to the English expedition, happened several months after the preparations for it had been begun, indeed when it was nearly ready.

« ZurückWeiter »