« ZurückWeiter »
thority in his name, under the title of Regent. The King survived him only a few weeks.
. J 1422.
Meanwhile, Charles, the son, assumed the Regency, and the Parliament of Toulouse registered his Letters proclaiming it. He sets forth 0ct. 2, in these his title as heir apparent, and as 142a alone having the right to exercise the Royal authority in respect of the "well known incapacity" of his father. Upon the death of the latter, he succeeded of course to the Crown; but in his embarrassing situation he judged it prudent to obtain the recognition even of that clear right from the States at
Bourges. Bedford, on the other hand, rested upon the former recognition, by the States, of the Treaty of Troyes, and upon Henry's gift of the Regency, which he advised him to offer the Duke of Burgundy, and which he had refused. Nothing further passed upon the subject during the continuance of the Lancastrian dynasty in France; and no objection appears to have been raised against Henry's exercising the power on his death-bed to appoint a Regent, although it may be observed that he was then only heir apparent, and under the Treaty, or Law of the Monarchy (as it had been made by the States), he had no power whatever to name a Regent.1
The infirm title of the Lancaster princes proved highly advantageous to the parliamentary constitution of England, but their reign in France was not attended with such important results to the government of that state. Their power was founded upon their military possession; they held only a part, though the greater part of the kingdom, which was distracted by civil war and in the occupation of rival sovereigns; and the popular assemblies had not acquired, in any portion of the country, the same form and consistency which they had for ages been gradually but steadily attaining in England. Those assemblies existed at every period of the French monarchy, but imperfectly, irregularly, with many alternations of power and weakness, never extinguished, though their action was often changed, often suspended. These bodies were—the Parliament, which had become judicial in its ordinary functions, but with some claims to an indirect political interference by remon strance, some weight from being occasionally consulted in great emergencies;—and the States-General, which had no defined office, nor any recognised privileges, above all, had no appointed periods of meeting, but were convoked in seasons of public embarrassment rather to help by their connexion with the country when the treasury wanted money, or the army men, than to assist with their advice. The fundamental maxims of the feudal polity, and which had prevailed in France long before the formal and complete introduction of the system, that the community should share in the administration of justice, and in granting the sovereign whatever aids he required beyond the services incident to the vassal's tenure, had enabled the people of England,1 taking advantage of the Crown's necessities, gradually to establish their mixed government: But a most imperfect form of it alone remained in France, although the principles never were lost sight of; and some progress had been made in improving both the judicial and the legislative systems during the two centuries that preceded the times of which we treat.2 The great difficulties which the English invasion created to the French government, the almost inextricable embarrassments of the rival court after the conquest, and the dreadful condition of the country from the consequences of the war, as well as from its immediate operations, produced a sensible effect upon the manner of conducting state affairs, and may be justly said to have somewhat affected the position of the Crown in relation to the people.
1 Note LXXn.
Upon the approach of Henry's invasion the Dauphin Louis, exercising the powers of government for his father, levied a taille* and laid a tenth upon the clergy, by his own mere authority, and without any assembling of the States. The collection was made by main force, a multitude of tax-gatherers being sent all over the country to employ every kind of violence—among others, that of seizing the persons of the peasantry to compel a ran1 Note LXV. • Note LXVI.
'A tax on the land and fanners' profits, generally estimated by their stock, and from which the nobles and clergy were exempt, unless in certain districts.—Note LXV1II.
som. The gendarmes on their way to the army committed equal excesses in plundering the people, who fled to the woods for shelter from both classes of marauders, and remained wholly indifferent about the issue of the contest, only desiring that whichever party prevailed, the war might speedily cease. When Armagnac on Louis's death took possession of the government, he plainly showed that no appeal would be made either to the Parliament or to the States. In Languedoc, where he possessed many fiefs, he strictly forbade his lieutenants or superintendents to hold any assembly; and afterwards, when the Parliament of Paris addressed him to urge a reconcilement with the Burgundian, he peremptorily refused, drove 300 persons of note, including many Parliament-men, into banishment, and considered that he had thus obtained a preponderating majority in all their deliberations. Yet still he avoided asking their sanction, or that of the States, to any levy of taxes; he preferred despoiling the churches of their plate, seizing the treasures amassed by the Queen, raising the denomination or lowering the standard of the coin, and extorting money from the inhabitants of Paris, the zealous partisans of his adversary. The Burgundian availed himself skilfully of these oppressive acts to obtain an advantage over his rival; he used the Queen's authority to annul the Armagnac Parliament at Paris, to summon another at Troyes, and to repeal all the taxes which Armagnac had imposed. But he also by the same authority assembled the States of Languedoc, prelates, nobles, and towns: he appealed to them for supplies, but also desired their advice upon the state of public affairs. This proceeding gained over to his side the whole of that country; with the exception of Beaucaire and Avignon, it became all Burgundian. It cannot be doubted that the States likewise granted him a supply, though of this no precise information has reached us. The recognition of that body was plainly owing, not so much to the English invasion as to the conflict between the two great parties which divided France. Armagnac having taken one course, the Burgundian took the opposite.
When the Treaty of Troyes had surrendered the kingdom to Henry, the Burgundian's successor, Philip, found no support of that disgraceful settlement from his own barons or his towns; they would on no account swear to maintain it. The confederates, therefore, Philip, the Queen, the Regent Henry, and their tool, the unhappy King, convoked the States at Paris in order to obtain a sanction to their proceedings. The Parisians, in their factious zeal against the Armagnacs, had at once declared their approval of the treaty. The States met under the presidency of Charles, who was said to have a lucid interval; they were directed to deliberate in their several chambers; and in a few days they returned with an unqualified answer in favour of the treaty, declaring it to be the Law of the Monarchy.