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tolerable sufferings, to provide an effectual remedy, or to witness the entire dissolution of society. The distractions of the Government for above half a century—the civil war, so long dividing the people—the resort of foreign adventurers, attracted by the prospect of plunder-above all, the occasional disbanding and constant desertion of the soldiers in the contending armies, had subjected the whole country to bodies of freebooters, who at length became so strong in numbers, and so desperate in audacity, that they undertook military operations upon a considerable scale when united, as when dispersed they carried on the work of general massacre and pillage. Bedford (we have seen) had unsuccessfully opposed a body of those Ecorcheurs (flayers, as they delighted to call themselves), had lost one of his most distinguished captains, with a considerable division of his choicest troops, and had with difficulty prevented another body from sacking Paris, after taking a fortified suburb and massacreing its garrison. The less defended districts of the country were entirely exposed to their ravages by fire and sword. It thus became the most vehement desire of the whole community to see those lawless depredators put down. Upon this feeling Charles acted, as his grandfather had done in similar circumstances eighty years before; but he was enabled to obtain from it more important results.
Nov. 1439. He assembled the States at Orleans, where their meeting was more thronged, and their pro
ceedings more solemn, than had ever before been known.
Three several subjects were brought before them for debate—the question of peace connected with the pending negotiations; the grant of a supply for continuing the war; the establishment of a military force equal to cope with the difficulties both external and internal of the country. These questions appear to have been fully discussed. In compliance with the opinion pronounced for peace, an embassy was promised to treat with the English envoys. All arbitrary exactions, whether by the Crown or the Barons, were prohibited, but a taille of 1,200,000 livres was granted for the support of an armed force; the provisions respecting which formed the most important feature of the Ordinance made with the consent of the States. The power was vested or recognised in the King to employ at all times a hired body of cavalry 9000 in number, and to name all their officers; all other persons whatever were forbidden to appoint commanders of any armed body; the Barons were held responsible for excesses committed by their followers ; the persons named by the King to command the cavalry were to choose their men, but to be answerable for their conduct; and all persons were declared subject to the ordinary judicatures of the country.
It being found impossible to put this important Ordinance in execution immediately, the continuance of the Robber-bands gave the Barons a pretext for opposing Charles and exciting discontent against him.
They had been restrained at the meeting of the States partly by the alarm generally prevailing, and in which they partook; partly by the strong feeling of the other classes : but now they joined in a conspiracy to dethrone him, and put the Dauphin in his place. When foiled by the combined firmness and temper of the King, they held a meeting at Nevers with the discontented princes, and presented a remonstrance against his proceedings as injurious to the common people. This, with their having yielded at Orleans, is a sure proof of the importance which the Third Estate had acquired. But these occurrences, and the interruptions occasioned by the war, prevented him from giving full effect to the Ordinance for several years. He then established the regular
1445. force of lancers authorised by that Ordinance to be raised and paid. They were distributed in fifteen companies ; and by the help of his most confidential nobles he so arranged the appointments, that the more able and experienced of the banditti chiefs became the officers, and recruited their men from among their Bands as well as the French cavalry at large. The bodies thus raised were called from their origin Compagnies d'Ordonnance; they were subjected to a strict discipline, and were distributed over the whole kingdom, each town paying its proportion of the taille, which thus became a yearly and permanent tax, levied without any new authority from the States, or even any new Ordinance. All the
commanders of Bands and their followers were ordered to disperse themselves under the severest penalties, and in a very short time the restoration of quiet and order appeared to be effected.
Satisfied with the grant of the army and of the taille thus made perpetual, and apprehensive either of the Barons gaining more influence, or of the popular force being turned against himself, Charles avoided again convoking the States for financial or for general purposes, though he assembled them at Bourges
when he desired their concurrence in taking
part with one rival pope against another, and met with a refusal, only obtaining the grant of a tenth to be levied upon the clergy. So much did he shun any new appeal to the States, that he rarely applied even to those of the provinces, to which he had formerly made repeated applications. For one most important purpose, however, he made use of their local information and authority. The customs of the different provinces had neve and reduced to writing. St. Louis had begun this useful work, and in the course of two centuries those of several districts had been compiled. Charles extended this to the whole kingdom, requiring the customs of each province to be digested in a Coutumier or Code by the States of that province.
1 There cannot be a stronger proof of the little attention paid by French authors to the proceedings of the States than the circumstance of the Hist. Univ. Mod., tom. xxxvi. p. 116 (Hist. France, liv, xxiii. sec. 7), ascribing the whole reform of the army to Charles VII., without even mentioning the States of Orleans or the Ordinance.
2 Note LXX.
But though he avoided any further assemblages after the advantage he had reaped from the assent of the last to both his financial and military policy, he took care to use the authority wherewithal he had been armed in order to improve both those branches of his administration. He not only extended the taille considerably beyond the sum at which it had been fixed in the Ordinance of Orleans by taking three several crues or surcharges, but he arranged the distribution and collection in a manner calculated to render it at once more productive and more oppressive. But he made a still more important addition to the regular army, sanctioned by that Ordinance. He established a militia, or body of archers, one to
1448. be furnished, equipped, and trained by each parish, ready when required for the King's service, but only then to receive pay, and to have an exemption from all direct taxes as a compensation for the enrolment. This circumstance gave them their name of franc-archers. His successor many
1479. years after suppressed this body, and introduced the Swiss troops instead, beside making a large addition to the lancers or cavalry. But the standing army unquestionably was introduced by Charles; and to its excellent discipline and general efficiency, contemporary writers ascribe his succeeding so easily in the conquest of Normandy. i Note LXVIII.
Monstrelet, iii. ch. ccx., Hafod edit. P. Dan. (vii. 626) dates the introduction of the Swiss Guards in 1479, Ph. de Com. (i. ch. 6) in 1465.