Abbildungen der Seite

upon the balance of parties and the accidents that might from day to day vary it, among those who, in his unavoidable absence, had the government in their hands. But the fate of the war had been virtually decided with the termination of the Burgundian alliance, of which so many circumstances indicated the approach, even before his Duchess's death, and of which that event, and the fixing of negotiations for a general peace, left no longer any possible doubt. Upon these negotiations all men's hopes rested; they were the object of intense anxiety in every part of Europe, long since worn out by the cruelties and devastations of the war, and now weary of a contest of which the mischiefs remained, while the interest had died away as its active operations ceased.

At length the Congress met. It was Aug 5, attended by the ambassadors of the Emperor 1435Sigismund, the Kings of Arragon, Castile, Navarre, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Sicily, Naples, the Dukes of Milan and Brittany, and four Legates from the Pope, the mediating power. Philip appeared in person, attended by many of his nobles and knights. The English Embassy was composed of 200 Lords and Knights under the Archbishop of York and Earl of Suffolk; it was afterwards joined by the Cardinal himself. The Regent remained at Rouen, confined to his bed by severe illness, and appears to have taken no part in any of the proceedings. The Embassy from Charles consisted of above 400 persons, some of high rank, with the Constable Bourbon at their head. There were brought together from all parts upwards of 10,000 strangers, and more than 500 personages of dignity and importance.

Philip had frankly apprised the English Council of the previous negotiations at Nevers, adding that the Pope had released him from the oath which fifteen years before he had taken to abide by the Treaty of Troyes. Henry had upon this intimation addressed his inquiries to Rome, and received for answer that no dispensation from any lawful obligation was ever given; an answer which seemed to leave no doubt of the Burgundian's assertion being correct.

Interrupted only by the tournaments and other festivities which in that age attended all gatherings of the people for what purpose soever, the negotiations lasted seven weeks. The offers made by Charles to the English were such as in the posture of their affairs they had no right to expect—the cession in perpetuity of both Normandy and Aquitaine, as well as Calais; and this was refused. The Cardinal and his colleagues, having before their eyes the dread of the war party in the Council and in the country, headed by Gloster, would listen to nothing but the uti possidetis, which would have left England in possession of Paris and the Isle de France. But they also objected to a peace, and proposed a long truce, and the marriage of Henry to a daughter of Charles, as if to insult the French with the recollection of the ruin and the dishonour which had accompanied the last

[ocr errors]

nuptials in the royal house. These propositions were indignantly rejected; and the Embassy left Arras some weeks before the Congress broke up.

Every one plainly perceived that the English were the cause of the negotiation failing; and as their whole conduct from the beginning of the invasion had been universally disapproved, the reprobation that fell upon them was now mightily increased. The Burgundian, on the other hand, won general favour. His unfeigned reluctance to break with his ally by a final separation, could with great difficulty be overcome by the pressing entreaties of the mediators, and the other ambassadors. He still had scruples respecting his oath; and various doctors, Roman, French, and English, learned in the civil and canon law and skilled in casuistry, were consulted by him, most of whom declared that he was not bound. But he was apprehensive that the Papal dispensation, which the Legates had plenary powers to renew in the amplest form, might not satisfy the exigencies of his duty as a knight; and though the French and Roman doctors gave a clear opinion that he was released, those of England held him still bound. While he remained in a state of hesitation, his doubts wereended by the intelligence arriving thatBedford had breathed his last; and on the 21st of Septem- gept 14) ber he signed the Treaty, considering the last 1435, tie which bound him to England against his duty towards himself and his own people as severed by his brother-in-law's decease, and soothing his irritation with the fancy that his promise bore some personal relation to Henry and Bedford, both no more. The terms which he had obtained were in all respects advantageous to him, and somewhat humiliating to France. Charles, beside pronouncing a solemn censure upon the murder of Jean-sans-Peur, offering an ample apology for himself as of tender years and under the control of others, binding himself to pursue with the utmost rigour those whom Philip might charge with the offence,1 and engaging to found convents and chapels, with daily mass and requiem for the deceased's soul ceded in perpetuity the counties of Macon, Auxerre, Pe'ronne, and other places, with all the towns of the Somme, Tournay excepted; and freed the Duke and his states from all feudal homage and services.

The peace of Arras diffused the greatest joy over the whole of France, and caused the utmost discontent in England. The price was heavy at which Charles had most wisely purchased the inestimable advantages of immediately confining the operations of the war to his English enemies, and ultimately driving them from the country. But all parties, Bourguignons as well as Armagnacs, and the people still under the nominal dominion of England, as well as those under his own, cheerfully agreed to the terms by which he had obtained a fair prospect of terminating miseries that equally affected all. The English, removed from the scenes of the war, and who had

1 He immediately named Tanneguy, Louvet, and two others.—01. de la Marche, liv. i. ch. 3.


never suffered or even witnessed its calamities, regarded the loss of the Burgundian alliance, and that of their French conquests, certain in itself, and probable to all appearance, as prejudicial both to their interests and their honour. The envoy whom Philip sent to announce his signature of the treaty was slighted by the Council, refused an audience of the King, and only saved by the military from the vengeance of the multitude, who rose upon the Flemings and other foreigners in London, maltreating all they could find, and even putting some to death. It must be confessed that a more disreputable passage is not to be found in the history of any nation than the conduct alike selfish and foolish of our countrymen on this occasion. Alone of all mankind, they and the Robber-bands were indignant at the Burgundian for having given peace to his own subjects, placed the same blessing within the reach of England, and left France free to shake off a foreign yoke imposed by the accident which had converted a predatory incursion into a conquest. Surely, if any people are bound by every obligation of principle and of feeling to be the unflinching advocates of peace, it is they who, placed by happy accident at a safe distance from the scenes of war, can only know the worst of its countless horrors, its intolerable miseries, in the song of the poet whom they do not believe, or the page of the historian whom they do not heed.1 But

1 The contemporary writer already referred to (Amelgard, lib. ii. cap. 1) affirms that the whole country, naturally of extreme fertility,

« ZurückWeiter »