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the short-sighted folly of the nation was as signal as their want of right feeling. The most advantageous offers had been rejected by their representatives at the Congress, because, though the head of the embassy was also the chief of the peace party, he manifestly did not venture to accept terms against which the clamour at home would have enabled his unreflecting and impetuous rival to work his immediate destruction. Thus the last chance of retaining any portion of the conquests so dearly bought and so fondly cherished was thrown away, and the multitude, utterly and necessarily ignorant of the whole subject, as well its details as its principles, upon which they undertook to pronounce a judgment, carried their own sentence into execution, as they fancied, against their ally—in reality, against themselves.1
On the restoration of peace the Burgundian was treated by Charles with the greatest cordiality, and he desired to remain on amicable terms with England also. But the party of Gloster had obtained the mastery; they rejected his friendly offer of mediation with Charles, and were resolved that the alliance, the dissolution of which had so enraged them, should be succeeded not by neutrality, but by war. The Flemish vessels were stopped on the high seas, and rifled; the malcontents in Philip's towns were excited to sedition and revolt; the Emperor was urged to declare against him; and a plot to seize one of his principal fortresses by stratagem was accompanied with an open attack upon a small body of his forces near the Flemish frontier. These senseless proceedings, which only served to display ill humour, drove him to hostilities. He marched an army to besiege Calais, and though he was obliged to retire in consequence of a mutiny among his troops, his movement compelled Gloster to hasten with a
from the Somme to the German frontier, a distance of 200 miles, was converted into a perfectly uncultivated desert, covered with thorns and brush-wood, and in some places thick forests, without a single inhabitant remaining hi many districts. In other parts of France the natives had been driven into the woods for shelter from the armies and their overflowings, the Bands, when the fortified towns were so encumbered with refugees from the country that they could admit no more. 1 Note LXIII.
• • T> June'1436.
large force to its relief. But he had also
at the commencement of hostilities sent considerable reinforcements to Charles, who was thus enabled to carry on his operations more effectually in the Isle de France.
To succeed Bedford in the Regency, Gloster's party, which was then preponderant, had appointed Richard, Duke of York, son of the Earl of Cambridge, executed for the conspiracy against Henry V. at the beginning of his reign, and now representative of the elder branch of the royal family, whom the Lancastrian usurpation had set aside—a prince of no mean capacity, distinguished for his bravery, but of an irresolute and feeble character; indiscreet, fickle, and obstinate by turns, so that his errors were by the French ascribed to haughtiness and presumption, while in England they passed for the result of openness and good humour; wholly devoid of the prudence and wary circumspection which, joined to his singular firmness, had enabled his predecessor to maintain a hold over the conquered country when surrounded by such complicated difficulties. While the distracted councils of the English Regency, and the official forms in completing his appointment, detained him above half a year from his government, he committed the great indiscretion of removing the Chancellor Therouanne to make way for an English favourite, and thus alienated the House of Luxembourg at a time when the loss of all other support made its countenance of peculiar importance; but the popular party, which had clamoured for war with the Burgundian, in all probability regarded this breach with Luxembourg as equally politic.
Long before Richard arrived at Rouen, Paris had fallen. Though Willoughby, the Commandant in the Regent's absence, had carefully kept from the people all information of the proceedings at Arras, by degrees the defection of Philip became known; and there was at once an end of all hope that any part of the Parisians would longer endure the English authorities. Their troops were few, and recourse was had to the most violent measures in order to supply by means of terror their want of numbers. For a short time the discontent was thus prevented from breaking out in open revolt; but, as Willoughby's forces diminished, the exasperation of the people increased under the cruelties hourly exercised, and gave them courage to assemble, especially in those parts of the town where the Burgundian party had the greatest hold. They conveyed information to Charles's lieutenants, held a communication with them which led to the assurance of a general amnesty, and opened one of the gates, through which a sufficient force was admitted to drive the English from every part of the town. The greater number of Charles's troops were of the Robber-bands (the ecorcheurs), and the Constable had no little difficulty to prevent them from sacking the place, which, on hearing the bells announce its surrender, they regarded as an operation that followed of course. Willoughby and his army retreated into the Bastille to negotiate for terms; and they capitulated on condition of being suffered to retire unmolested. They embarked for Rouen with some few of the inhabitants who chose to accompany them, in distrust of the promised pardon. They were followed by the insults and execrations of all the rest, being marched round to pass through a gate opening upon the fields, in order to avoid the violence of the people. They took refuge in the Duchy; they had no French subjects in connexion with them, save some few who apprehended that their conduct during the occupation made it dangerous to remain under the power of Charles's officers. And thus the English possessions in France extended but little beyond what the terms offered at Arras would have secured—Normandy, Guienne, and Calais. sent, and, indeed, the active co-operation of the inhabitants, and the general restoration to Charles of his people's affections in the provinces of which the English yet retained possession, may be deemed the virtual as it was the natural termination of the conquest. The war still languished for many years, and the invaders were not driven from the country; first, because of those indolent habits which Charles had not yet shaken off; and afterwards because of the necessity under which he found himself of bending all his efforts to establish peace and order in the country, and extirpate the freebooters who laid it waste. But the probability is, that he felt less inclined to make a final arrangement with the English than he had done at Arras, the capital being now in his hands, and his adversary having no longer in his service or his alliance any French subjects, save a few of no importance and desperate fortunes. He perceived, on the other hand, in the English, once so averse to peace, a sudden and vehement desire for it, produced by the loss of Paris, and retreat into Normandy—a change very usual in the popular feeling, sometimes termed opinion, which is apt first to drive the country into hostilities against its best interests, and soon to force a negotiation when, perhaps, the war ought to be continued for the interests well understood of peace itself.1 But he must have plainly seen that unless he agreed to leave them the Duchies, no accommodation was yet possible; whereas, by a little delay until he should 1 See Note LXIIf.