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which, together with the courtesy shown by Philip in several movements of his troops, showed that the difficulties on his part would be easily surmounted, a general congress, under the mediation of the Pope, Eugenius IV., who had expressed the greatest anxiety
for restoring the peace of Christendom, was 1434.
appointed to be held at Arras in the ensuing autumn. A few months before it assembled Bedford had made a short stay at Paris, and found proofs of the increased animosity towards the English which pervaded all ranks and each party now that the estrangement of the Burgundian was known. The war languished meanwhile. Some inconsiderable actions only were fought; and chiefly against the freebooter bands. These were a collection of the scum of all nations, but principally French and English from the armies, embodied under captains of courage and skill; they were known by the name, in which they gloried, of Ecorcheurs or flayers, as, after wasting the country by their pillage, they tortured the inhabitants to obtain ransom or the disclosure of their effects, or murdered them in brutal revenge when they found that all had been swept away by other hordes. Oftentimes in such force as to undertake extensive operations, they seized whole villages, and even drove the people from open towns
to take refuge in fortified places. In one of these · expeditions the English were worsted with the loss of
Arundel, eminent among their best generals, and other distinguished officers. The capital itself nar
rowly escaped being sacked by a formidable body of those ferocious wretches, who were driven to desperation by the dread of the approaching negotiations putting an end with the war to their execrable trade.'
Whether from declining health, or from despair of bringing to a successful conclusion the great affairs committed to his charge, certain it is that Bedford no longer displayed the same energy—at least in his proceedings he did not show the same activitywhich had marked the former periods of his life. But he remained at Rouen, repairing occasionally to Paris when any pressing exigency demanded his presence; and he left the administration of the English government to the Council, which was divided and paralysed by the conflict of the parties under the Cardinal and Gloster. The King him
1434., self, only in his thirteenth year, was in the hands of whichever of the two for the time obtained the ascendant. Yet his character had already begun to unfold itself, so that a fair estimate might without difficulty be formed both of his capacity and his dispositions; and already he evinced some desire, on certain matters at least, to share in the deliberations of the government. Possessed of very moderate abilities, rendered still more slender by a morbid indolence which disinclined him alike to cultivate and to exert them, he was wholly without firmness and resolution whether on great or on trifling occasions; and he thus seemed fashioned to be the tool
· Note LXVII.-01. de la Marche, liv, i. ch. 4.
of whatever designing persons might surround him, or the sport of the caprices of those who had no designs to compass. But his nature was eminently kind and gentle, as it was invariably honest and open; his abhorrence of violence and fraud was alike strong, and so habitual that it seemed constitutional ; his piety was unobtrusive, but exemplary even in a religious age; his amiable disposition was testified in constant benevolence and kindness, the only virtues which in this world receive their full reward, by the love they inspire and the gratification they impart; while his manners, if not brilliant like his uncle's, or graceful like his father's, were uniformly mild and inoffensive, and won for him the affections of all who approached his person, as much as Charles's showy accomplishments with his condescension and good humour commanded admiration and esteem. It was, indeed, rather with Charles's father that men were led to compare him than to contrast him with Charles himself, from marking the similar fate which attended the two unhappy monarchs, of their reason being clouded over at various periods of their disastrous reigns. But although pity for the French prince's misfortunes continued his place in the public favour, after the recollection had passed away of the affable deportment and splendid figure which once made him popular, there was even in the form of the English sovereign's malady a gentleness, a patient submission, an entire harmlessness in thought, and word, and act, that formed a mighty contrast to the murderous fury with which Charles's original seizure had been signalised, and which occasionally recurred until his imbecility was confirmed.
Henry's mother, Catherine of France, had a short time after his father's death married a
1425. subject, Owen Tudor, and the care of the infant's person had very properly been transferred first to the Lady Boteler, and then to the
1428. Earl of Warwick: he complained of flatterers having in the young king's eleventh year instilled into his mind notions of his rank and station inconsistent with a due submission to the tutor's authority, and required from the Council a power of naming all the household, and preventing access of others to his royal pupil. The request was complied with. But flatterers can no more be excluded from the palace by closing its doors than any other pestilence engendered by corruption within its walls: they again found their way to Henry, and in his fourteenth year he repeated his claim of being ,
1434. allowed to attend the meetings of his Council. They answered, that “ although God had endowed him with as great an understanding as they had ever seen in any prince or in any person of his years,” yet that it was safer for both himself and the kingdom that he should be wholly guided either by the Parliament or by themselves. It was a striking and an affecting circumstance, showing the amiable nature of Henry, that he mainly desired to interfere
'Rot. Parl., iv. 438.
in mitigation of the punishments inflicted by the law;
and when some years after he renewed his 1437.
claim, the Council satisfied him by a resolution that he should exercise the power of pardoning and of collating to benefices. He was also to decide when the Council happened to differ, and did not come to a determination by a majority of more than two-thirds.
The divisions under the factious conflicts between the Cardinal and Gloster would have sufficed to ruin all chance of retaining the French conquests, if that had not been already desperate, independently of English affairs : for, instead of the unity and vigour which the conduct of such a war peculiarly required, the Council wavered continually between the two parties, the Cardinal's being wisely bent upon peace at any reasonable price, the Duke's upon continuing the war at all hazards; and though in general Beaufort, while he could attend in person, had the advantage, from his prudence, his long-sighted sagacity, his command of temper, and his thorough knowledge of men as well as his long experience in dealing with them, he was yet obliged more than once to absent himself from England when the clamours against him, from accidental circumstances, aided the violence of his nephew, who on other occasions also obtained a temporary ascendancy. So that whether the war should be prosecuted with vigour or suffered to languish depended less upon the wise counsels and fixed determination of the Regent, who was carrying it on, than