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was caused by our order or consent, we answer that you lie, and will lie foully oft as you say so.” Monstrelet gives either a continuation of this correspondence, or varied and fuller copies of the letters.
Louis, DUKE of ORLEANs, To HENRY."
“How could you suffer my much redoubted lady, the queen of England, to return so desolate to this country, after the death of her lord, despoiled by your rigour and cruelty of her dower, which you detain from her, and likewise of the portion which she carried hence on the day of her marriage? The man who seeks to gain honour, is always the defender of the rights of widows and damsels of virtuous life such as my niece was known to lead; and as I am so nearly related to her, that, acquitting myself toward God and toward her as a relation, I reply that I am ready to meet you in single combat, or with any greater number you may please; and that, through the aid of God, the Blessed Virgin, and my lord St. Michael, you will find me doing my duty in such wise as the case may
“I return you thanks, in the name of my party, for the greater care you take of their healths, than you have done of that of your sovereign liege lord, (Richard II.)
“That you may be assured this letter has been written by me, I have put to it the seal of my arms, and signed it with my own hand, on the morrow of the feast of Our Lady, March 26.”
This letter stung Henry IV. to the bitterest retorts. His answer is, however, a series of falsehoods, as his own privycouncil journals can prove:
“In regard to your charge against us for our rigour to your niece, and for having cruelly suffered her to depart from this country in despair for the loss of her lord, (Richard II.) in despair for the loss of her dower, which you say we detain after despoiling her of the money she brought hither, God knows, from whom nothing can be concealed, that so far from acting towards her harshly, we have ever shown her kindness and friendship. We wish to God that you may never have acted with greater rigour, unkindness, or cruelty to any lady or damsel than we have done to her, and we believe it would be well for you.
“As to the despair you say she is in for the loss of our very dear lord and cousin, (Richard II.) we must answer as we have before done. And in regard to her dower, of the seizure of which you complain, we are satisfied that if you had well examined the articles of her marriage, you could not have made this charge against us. In regard to her money, it is notorious that on her leaving this kingdom we had made her such restitution of jewels and money, much more than she brought hither, that we hold ourselves acquitted; and we have, besides. an acquittance under the seal of her father, our lord and brother, drawn up in his council and in your presence, proving we never despoiled her.
“With regard to your companions, we have no fault to find with them, for we are not acquainted with them; but as to yourself, we do not repute very highly of you. But when you return thanks to those of your family for having felt more pity than we have done for our king and sovereign liege lord, (Richard II.) we reply that, by the honour of God, of Our Lady, and of my lord St. George. when you say so you lie, falsely and wickedly, for we hold his blood to be dearer
*Abstract from the letter.—Monstrelet, illuminated ed. vol. i. p.20.
to us than the blood of those of your side; and if you say his blood was not dear to us in his lifetime, we tell you that you lie, and do so every time you assert it.
“I wish to God that you had never done, or procured to be done, any thing more against the person of your lord and brother than we have done against our late lord, (Richard II.); and in that case we believe you would find your conscience more clear.”
The pertinacity of Henry IV. to gain the “sweet young queen” as a bride for his gallant son was not overcome even by this furious correspondence with her uncle. In the year 1406, according to Monstrelet, he made a most extraordinary proposal, declaring that if the hand of Isabella (now in her eighteenth year) were bestowed on the prince of Wales, he would abdicate the English crown in favour of the young prince.” The royal council of France sat in debate on this offer for a long time; but the king's brother, Louis duke of Orleans, contended that he had the promise of the hand of Isabella for his son Charles of Angoulême. He represented the frauds of the king of England, and called to their memory the “steady aversion” of his niece to ally herself with the assassin of the husband she still loved. An unfavourable answer was therefore given to the English ambassadors, who departed malcontent. The betrothment of Isabella to her youthful cousin took place at Compiegne, where her mother, queen Isabeau, met the duke of Orleans and his son. Magnificent fétes took place at the ceremony, consisting of “banquets, dancings, jousts, and other jollities.” But the bride wept bitterly while her hand was pledged to a bridegroom so much younger than herself; the court charitably declared that her tears flowed on account of her losing the title of queen of England, but the heart of the fair young widow had been too severely schooled in adversity to mourn over a mere empty name.” Her thoughts were on king Richard.
The husband of Isabella became duke of Orleans in 1407,
* Monstrelet, vol. i. p. 22.
* No English historian can believe this assertion, yet Giffard, in his History of France, does not dispute it.
* Monstrelet, and the Chronicles of St. Denis. Monstrelet declares that Charles duke of Orleans had been the godfather of Isabella, and therefore a dispensation was required on that account, as well as because they were first-cousins; but the dates of the birth of Isabella and Orleans show that this was an impossibility. It is possible that Isabella had been godmother to Orleans. A very slight verbal error of the transcribers of Monstrelet might cause the mistake in French.
when his father was atrociously murdered in the Rue Barbette, by his kinsman the duke of Burgundy. Isabella took a decided part in demanding justice to be executed on the powerful assassin of her uncle and father-in-law." “The young queen-dowager of England came with her mother-inlaw, Violante of Milan, duchess of Orleans, both dressed in the deepest weeds of black. They arrived without the walls of Paris in a charrette or wagon, covered with black cloth, drawn by six snow-white steeds, whose funeral trappings strongly contrasted with their colour. Isabella and her mother-in-law sat weeping in the front of the wagon; a long file of mourning wagons, filled with the domestics of the princesses, followed. They were met at the gates by most of the princes of the blood.” This lugubrious train passed, at a foot's pace, through the streets of that capital, stained by the slaughter of Orleans. The gloomy appearance of the procession, the downcast looks of the attendants, the flowing tears of the princesses, for a short time excited the indignation of the Parisians against the popular murderer, John of Burgundy. Isabella alighted at the gates of the hôtel de St. Pol, where, throwing herself at the feet of her half-crazed father, she demanded, in concert with the duchess Violante, justice on the assassin of her uncle. The unfortunate king of France was thrown into fresh agonies of delirium by the violent excitement produced by the sight of his suppliant daughter and sister-in-law. A year afterwards the same mournful procession traversed Paris again; Isabella again joined Violante in crying for justice, not to the unconscious king who was raving in delirium, but to her brother, the dauphin Louis, whose feeble hands held the reins of empire his father had dropped. Soon after Isabella attended the death-bed of the duchess Violante, who died positively of a broken heart for the loss of Orleans. The following year Isabella was married to her cousin: the previous ceremony had been only betrothment. The elegant and precocious mind of this prince soon made the difference of the few years between his age and that of his bride forgotten. * Chronicles of St. Denis, * Ibid.
Isabella loved her husband entirely; he was the pride of his country, both in mind and person. He was that celebrated poet-duke of Orleans, whose beautiful lyrics are still reckoned among the classics of France." Just as Isabella seemed to have attained the height of human felicity, adored by the most accomplished prince in Europe, beloved by his family, and with no present alloy in her cup of happiness, death claimed her as his prey in the bloom of her life. She expired at the castle of Blois, in her twenty-second year, a few hours after the birth of her infant child, Sept. 13th, 1410. Her husband's grief amounted to frenzy; but after her infant was brought to him by her attendants, he shed tears, and became calmer while caressing it.” The first verses of Orleans that attained any celebrity were poured forth by his grief for this
sad bereavement. He says,
Death ! who made thee so bold,
But a more finished lyric to the memory of Isabella thus commences in French:” J’ai fait l'obseques de Madame."
“To make my lady's obsequies
* In the public library of Grenoble is a fine copy of the poems of Charles duke of Orleans, the husband of this queen of England. It was written, from his dictation, by his secretary, Antoine l'Astisan. It has been copied for the Bibliotheque Royale. Another fine copy exists, richly illuminated, in the British Museum, supposed to have been transcribed for Henry VII.
* Isabella's infant was a little girl, who was reared, and afterwards married to the duke of Alençon.
* We believe the translation is by the elegant pen of Mr. Carey. Whoever wishes further acquaintance with the lyrics of Charles of Orleans, will find many well worthy of attention translated by Miss L. Costello, in her truly poetical version of the Early Poets of France.
*This expression, madame, simply denotes the title of Isabella; she was Madame of France, both as eldest daughter to the king, and wife to the second prince of France. That the title of madame was thus applied in the fourteenth century, see Froissart, when narrating the adventures of Isabella's mother-in-law, Violante of Milan.
The tapers were of burning sighs,
Were livelily portray’d.
Her wondrous beauty made,
No more, no more; my heart doth faint, When I the life recall Of her who lived so free from taint, So virtuous deem'd by all; Who in herself was so complete, I think that she was ta'en By God to deck his Paradise, And with his saints to reign; For well she doth become the skies, Whom, while on earth, each one did prize The fairest thing to mortal eyes!” The exquisite beauty and naïve earnestness of the last verse, will inspire all readers with respect for the genius of the second husband of our Isabella. Isabella, thus passionately mourned in death by her husband, was happy in closing her eyes before the troublous era commenced, when sorrow and disgrace overwhelmed her family and her country. The infamy of her mother had not reached its climax during the life of Isabella. Charles of Orleans, by the peculiar malice of fortune, was doomed to a long imprisonment by the very man who had so often been refused by his wife, a circumstance which perhaps was not altogether forgotten by Henry V. The husband of Isabella, after fighting desperately at Agincourt, was left for dead on the lost field; but, being dragged from beneath a heap of slain, was restored to unwelcome life by the care of a valiant English squire, Richard Waller. Orleans refused to eat or drink after covering from his swoon, but was persuaded out of his solution of starving himself to death by the philosophic and