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rode on with his suite.1 When he came near to Montereau, he was met by three of his adherents who had left the place to warn him that there were barriers erected on the spot appointed for the conference, and that their position gave the Dauphin's party a manifest advantage. A council was now held, and a circumstance so pregnant with suspicion created a great division of opinion, some strongly dissuading the step, others declaring in favour of it, on the conviction that any treachery was wholly impossible. To the latter class the lady gave her support, and their sentiments were in harmony with the undaunted nature of the man who shrunk from the imputation of holding back through fear—probably, too, from the responsibility sure to be cast upon him of having revived the quarrel so lately appeased. Thus he went forward, and took possession of his apartments in the castle, with a moderate body-guard, posting the rest of his men at the gate leading to the town.
He had not arrived many minutes when Tanneguy du Chastel came to say that the Dauphin expected him; and he walked, accompanied by ten only of his suite, towards the bridge, upon which an inclosure, formed by a double barrier, was erected as the place of meeting. Arrived at the first barrier, he was met by some of the Dauphin's people sent to hasten his approach, by telling him their lord was kept waiting. Again he had misgivings, as well he might, if all these things are correctly represented; and he asked his attendants if they thought him safe. They said they were willing to run the same risk, and felt it to be nothing. He bade them keep close by him; he entered the first barrier. Again he was met by messengers who begged him to make haste, for the Dauphin was waiting. "I am going to him," said he, and with his suite entered the second barrier, which was immediately closed and locked by the sentinels. Here he met Tanneguy, and probably from a lurking suspicion and the consequent wish to make treachery more difficult, placing his hand on the man's shoulder he said, "Here is he in whom I put my trust." Passing on he came near the Dauphin, whom he found outside the barrier on his own side, and leaning on it, completely armed. The Duke dropped on one knee, respectfully saluting him, but he only met reproaches in bitter terms, charging him with neither withdrawing his garrisons, nor attacking the English according to the treaty. He was still on one knee, when Loire, an Armagnac knight, tauntingly bade him rise from a posture unbecoming so great a lord. The Duke saw now that he was betrayed, and moved his hand to his sword, which had got entangled behind him. "What!" cried Loire, "do you draw in the Dauphin's presence?" Tanneguy now advanced, gave the signal to his accomplices by exclaiming, "It is the time!" and struck the Duke so violently in the face with his battle-axe that he was felled down, and part of his chin was cut off. He started on his legs, but before he could draw his sword the assassins despatched him, and repeated their blows after he was dead. Barnard de Navailles attempted to resist, and wrested the dagger from the hand of the Viscount de Narbonne, who had been set to watch him; but he was immediately killed by the rest. Of the other Burgundians who had followed their lord to the bridge, three were wounded in attempting to resist, one escaped, and the rest were made prisoners. The Dauphin is said to have looked on while this bloody scene was enacted as one much alarmed; and while the scuffle yet continued, he was conducted to his lodgings by the President Louvet and the rest of his counsellors.1
1 Charles is said to have had 20,000 with him; Jean only 700.
Alarmed in truth he well might be; for never was a deed perpetrated the absolute folly of which, at least equal to its guilt, was so certain to bring condign punishment upon its contrivers, always supposing they were personages who had an interest in the safety of their country. Nor is this a judgment pronounced after the event. No one could possibly doubt that the murder of the Burgundian at once placed an insuperable bar in the way of reconcilement between the two parties which divided France. No one could deny that the distractions thus inevitably continued must speedily throw the State into the hands of the common enemy, and whichever of the two factions he chose to join. That the cutting off the powerful leader of the Bourguignons should either destroy them, or force them, for want of a head, to acknowledge the dominion of their chiefs assassin, was a supposition so contrary to all experience of human nature as to be wholly absurd, even if the fact were not well known that the heir of his name and his dominions had already distinguished himself, and proved his possessing a capacity for command. That he should allow any romantic sense of duty towards the State to master the natural feelings of revenge against his father's murderers was as little to be expected; and, indeed, in those times it is very likely that the approval of the world would rather have been withheld from a patriotic than from a vindictive course of action. Hence all men at once perceived what the few patriots then to be found in France deplored, the inevitable ruin of the country, the destruction of the Armagnacs by defeat, of the Bourguignons by treason, while the deplorable catastrophe that impended was not likely even to benefit permanently the party certain to gain by it in the first instance; for in the end England, next after France, was sure to be the greatest sufferer.
1 Monstrclet, ccxii. Mez., ii. 1023.
It is not easy to suppose that the Dauphin should himself have been blind to what the most cursory reflection rendered so manifest; and therefore it is exceedingly difficult to believe that he could have been a willing party to the murder. Although he had not then, any more than he did for many years after, exerted his eminent natural abilities, yet he possessed them; and he must have seen the perils by jgjggttlLB£MttgB£
HENRY THE FIFTH. 187
which he would be surrounded, whether a plot against the Burgundian's life succeeded or failed. That it should have originated with him, then, is in the highest degree improbable. On the other hand, the whole transaction bears the mark of so much preparation, and his passive demeanour during its progress is so inconsistent with the supposition of his entire ignorance, that in the absence of all positive evidence we are almost unavoidably led to believe, not that he was a party to the formation of the plan, but that he acquiesced in its execution. To this inference we are further guided by several obvious considerations beside those which have been mentioned. He had hitherto been in the hands of the Armagnac chiefs, first of the Court, then of Louvet, and always of Tanneguy du Chastel, a man of great courage, of no scruples, of imperious temper. For the Burgundian he had from his infancy been brought up to entertain the utmost aversion, and his hatred was largely mingled with fear. Towards his mother, of late closely allied with the Duke, he had the strong feeling of dislike which a consciousness of having done a wrong ever inspires, but never so strongly as when the victim of our maltreatment stands in the near relation of friendship or of blood. A mind thus prepared at once by inexperience and by passion might easily receive impressions from more powerful and more practised natures; and they probably did not find it difficult to persuade the Dauphin that the removal of his rival would take out of his way the only obstacle to his