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and it was, after much consultation, resolved to await
Bedford, eager to meet the great body of his
1424. stain which he deemed that the surrender of Verneuil without a blow had left on the British arms, advanced with extraordinary alacrity to the fight. He drew up his army in a single line, each man-at-arms having, as at Agincourt, a shod stake planted before him, and the archers formed the two wings, except a body of 2000, who were appointed to guard the baggage and the horses of the dismounted men-at-arms. The Constable also, on his side, formed his men-at-arms, all dismounted, in a single line, with the horsemen on the flanks. His plan was to await the Regent's attack ; but it was disconcerted by the hot temper of Narbonne, who advanced prematurely, and forced the Constable to join in the onward movement. The cavalry having in vain endeavoured to attack the English in the rear, rushed on the baggage, and compelled the archers to quit its defence. The Lombard horse then engaged in the congenial occupation of plunder, and allowed the bowmen to retreat in good order, and join the main body of the army. The French, under their veteran commander, now made a desperate attack on the Regent's line, which it required his utmost exertions to sustain. Mounted on his bay charger, he flew about from corps to corps; he was in every spot to be seen sharing the danger where
the fight waxed hottest, encouraging his men with cheerful talk, and bringing up fresh troops to supply the losses in his array. For a long time he could perceive no slackening in the enemy's attack; but at length he thought he could descry some faltering, and instantly he commanded his troops to advance with all possible rapidity. The movement proved decisive: the French, wearied and baffled, could not withstand the powerful impulse; they fled in all directions. Of 18,000 men, between 4000 and 5000 were left on the field; but as at Agincourt the loss fell heavier in proportion upon the officers. Most of their generals were slain ; among them the Constable, Douglas, and his son, Aumale, Ventadour, Gravell, and that Narbonne whose temerity had so great a hand in occasioning the disastrous event. Alençon and other generals were among the prisoners. The Regent, on his part, lost 1600 men; and a slaughter so unusual in the victorious army made him order that there should be no manifestation of joy to celebrate a triumph thus dearly purchased. The only solemnities performed after the battle were his returning thanks to Heaven in the presence of his officers assembled on the field of battle, and the less pious ceremony of having Narbonne's body hung upon a gibbet, as one of the murderers at Montereau.
Verneuil surrendered immediately after the engagement, as did Mayenne, Marne, and other places in Maine. The affairs of Charles appeared to be 'P. Daniel, vii. 4. Hall, 124. Monstrel., tom. ii. fol. 12.
nearly desperate. His supplies of men were exhausted; to no quarter could he look for more. His supplies of money were reduced to so low an ebb, that his table was in want of the most common necessaries. The Loire was the boundary of his possessions; and while to the north of that river he had no footing, Bedford was preparing to profit by his distresses and carry the war into the south, when a serious difficulty arose, the remote cause of those reverses which were, in any, event, certain to have sooner or later changed the fortune of the war.
The dissension which had long subsisted between Gloster and the Bishop of Winchester, afterwards Cardinal Beaufort, had now broken out in open hostility. The imprudent conduct of the former had entailed upon him the more formidable enmity of Philip; and this led to an alienation of the Burgundian party, hitherto the mainstay of the English power in France.
It is probable, and some have affirmed, that Beaufort had encouraged the opposition which was made, as we have seen, by the Parliament to the title and authority of Regent being conferred upon Gloster. But it is certain that the exercise of the limited power granted to the nephew, and the guardianship of the young King's person held by the uncle jointly with Exeter, soon brought into an almost unavoidable collision two men whose ambition was the only point of resemblance in their characters—the indiscretion of the one being as likely to give offence as the pride
of the other was to resent it. While the kindness of Gloster's disposition and the suavity of his manners, his courtesy towards equals, his affability to inferiors, formed a remarkable contrast to the stern nature and lofty demeanour of the haughty Prelate, it was observed that in their pursuits as well as their tempers the layman and the priest seemed to have changed places; for while the spiritual Peer devoted himself to the amassing of wealth and the pursuit of power, the chivalrous habits of the age did not prevent the temporal Baron from devoting much of his time to the society of learned men, and of his patronage to their advancement. Although both were conspicuous for politic capacity, and for personal intrepidity as well as moral courage, in genius for affairs and in boldness of design Beaufort appears to have outstripped his nephew. Firm of purpose, fertile in resources, unscrupulous in the choice of his instruments, unbounded in the confidence he accorded them, he must be regarded as one of the first statesmen of his age, if he does not, after the Fourth and Fifth Henrys, stand at their head. Little disposed to waste his eloquence upon the ordinary topics of his sacred profession, while he left to others the fame of a great preacher, his rhetoric as well as his address was employed at the Council of Constance in furthering the interests of the Anglican Church ; and his sagacity failed not to discover that his success on so great an occasion must prepare for him the way to the loftiest ecclesiastical positions. The promise of
à Cardinal's hat and of the Legantine Commission, which he then received from Martin, he only deemed of importance as leading, first, to a large accession of wealth, and eventually to the Papal chair, the object of all his hopes. Notwithstanding his reputed avarice, the not unusual consequence of the Romish system, which, forbidding its dignitaries the enjoyment of riches in the endowment of a family, casts them upon the less natural desire of accumulating for accumulation's sake, he bestowed his vast wealth, which obtained for him the name of the “ Rich Cardinal,” in largesses, as well as in loans of unparalleled amount to the Crown, and in munificent ecclesiastical foundations. But Gloster, who bore among his countrymen the more endearing title of the “ Good Duke,” enjoyed a degree of popular favour which neither his uncle's riches could gain, nor his own indiscretions could destroy. The Prelate's life was unexceptionable, and his performance of ecclesiastical duties decorous; yet could he lay aside on occasions the crosier for the sword, and head the more zealous portion of his flock in a crusade against the Bohemian heretics. That he was free from the vices in which the dignitaries of his age indulged cannot, perhaps, be affirmed, any more than he can be proved to have always kept the line so hard for aspiring natures to follow—the line which separates the steep and slippery, though straight, ascent of ambition from the devious path of restless intrigue. Pride, so unseemly in a Christian divine