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When Joanna had exercised the sovereign authority as regent for her son a year and a half, the young duke, accompanied by her, made his solemn entrance into Rennes, Mar. 22, 1401, and took the oaths in the presence of his prelates and nobles, having entered his twelfth year. He then proceeded to the cathedral, and, according to the custom of the dukes his predecessors, passed the night in prayer before the great altar of St. Peter. On the morrow, having heard mass, he was knighted by Clisson, and then conferred knighthood on his younger brothers, Arthur and Jules; after which he was invested with the ducal habit, circlet, and sword by his prelates and nobles, and carried in procession through the city. After his inauguration, the young duke mounted his horse, and, attended by his nobles, returned to the castle of Rennes, where a royal banquet had been prepared under the auspices of the duchess-regent."
Joanna put her son in possession of the duchy at so tender an age, as a preliminary to her union with the new king of England, Henry of Lancaster. The visit of that prince to the court of Vannes in the year 1399, had made an indelible impression on the heart of Joanna, and on the death of her husband, John the Valiant, she determined to become his wife. Although the learned historian of France, M. Michelet, affirms that very soon after the death of the duke of Bretagne, the fair widow declared she would marry Henry, it is certain that she not only acted with punctilious respect to the memory of her defunct lord, by allowing the discreet period of upwards that the duke of Burgundy, the uncle of the duchess Joanna and of the king of France, was likely to have the guardianship of the duchy and of the persons of the princely minors, flew to the apartment of her father, exclaiming in great agitation,-"My lord, my father! it now depends on you if ever my husband recover his inheritance! We have such beautiful children, I beseech you to assist us for their sakes.”—“What is it you would have me do?” said Clisson. “Can you not slay the children of the false duke, before the duke of Burgundy can come to Bretagne?” replied she. “Ah, cruel and perverse woman!” exclaimed her father, with a burst of virtuous indignation; “if thou livest longer, thou wilt be the cause of involving thy children in infamy and ruin.” And drawing his sword, in the first transports of his wrath he would have slain her on the spot, if she had not fled precipitately from his presence. “She did not wholly escape punishment,” adds the chronicler, “for in her fright she fell, and broke
her thigh-bone, of which she was lame for the rest of her life.” * Alain Bouchard. Dom Morice.
of two years to elapse before she took any steps for exchanging her widow’s veil for the queenly diadem of England, but she kept her intentions in favour of Henry a profound secret till she could cajole the pope of Avignon, to whose communion she belonged, into giving her a general dispensation to marry any one she pleased within the fourth degree of consangunity, without naming the person;' for besides the great political obstacles which opposed themselves to her union with Henry, they were members of rival churches, Henry, who had been educated in Wickliffite principles, having now attached himself to the party of Boniface, the pope of Rome, who was called the anti-pope by those who denied his authority. Joanna's agents negotiated this difficult arrangement so adroitly, that the bull was executed according to her desire, March 20, 1402, without the slightest suspicion being entertained by the orthodox court of Avignon that the schismatic king of England was the mysterious person within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity, whom Benedict had so obligingly granted the duchess-dowager of Bretagne liberty to espouse.” When Joanna had thus outwitted her pope, she despatched a trusty squire of her household, named Antoine Riczi, to conclude her treaty of marriage with king Henry. After the articles of this matrimonial alliance were signed, Joanna and her royal bridegroom were espoused, by procuration, at the palace of Eltham, on the third day of April, 1402, Antoine Riczi acting as the proxy of the bride.” What motive could have induced the lovely widow of John the Valiant of Bretagne to choose a male representative on this interesting occasion, it is difficult to surmise; but it is certain that Henry plighted his nuptial troth" to the said Antoine Riczi, and placed the bridal ring on his finger as the representative of his absent bride.” This act was performed with great solemnity in the presence of the archbishop of Canterbury, the king's halfbrothers the Beaufort princes, the earl of Worcester, lord chamberlain of England, and other officers of state." Riczi had previously produced a letter from the duchess Joanna, empowering him to contract matrimony with the king of England in her name, on which the trusty squire, having received king Henry's plight, pronounced that of Joanna in these words:–“I, Antoine Riczi, in the name of my worshipful lady, dame Joanna, the daughter of Charles lately king of Navarre, duchess of Bretagne, and countess of Richmond, take you, Henry of Lancaster, king of England and lord of Ireland, to my husband, and thereto I, Antoine, in the spirit of my said lady, plight you my troth.” No sooner was this ceremony concluded, than the rigid canonists represented to Joanna that she would commit a deadly sin by completing her marriage with a prince attached to the communion of pope Boniface. The case, however, not being without precedent, the court of Avignon quieted the conscience of the duchess, under the idea that great advantages might be derived from her forming an alliance with the king of England, whose religious principles had hitherto been any thing but stable.” She obtained permission, therefore, to live with the schismatic Catholics, and even outwardly to conform to them by receiving the sacraments from their hands, provided that she remained firmly attached to the party of Benedict XIII.” The prospect of a marriage between Joanna and the new king of England, Henry of Lancaster, was contemplated with great uneasiness by the court of France. Henry was the brother of the queens of Castile and Portugal, and, in addition to these powerful family connexions, he would become no less closely allied with the sovereigns of Navarre and Bretagne, and thus enjoy every facility of invading France, if he felt disposed to renew the pretensions of his renowned grandsire, Edward III., to the sovereignty of that realm. The royal dukes, Joanna's uncles, endeavoured, by every means in their power, to dissuade her from a marriage so full of peril to France, but in vain. At length, her intention of taking the young duke, her son, and the rest of her children with her to England, and placing them under the tutelage of her second husband transpiring, the duke of Burgundy considered it "Ms. Chron of Nantes. • Dom Morice: "Ms. Chron of Nantes.
* Lobineau. Preuves Hist. de Bretagne. * Dom Morice. * Dom Morice, Chron. de Bretagne. * Lobineau. * Acts of the Privy Council, by sir Harris Nicolas.
* Lobineau, Hist. de Bretagne. vol. 11. F
necessary to undertake a journey to her court, to try the effect of his personal eloquence in turning her from this rash design. He arrived at Nantes on the 1st of October, and sent to announce his advent to the duchess Joanna, who welcomed him in proper form, invited him to dinner, and regaled him sumptuously. The duke of Burgundy, who perfectly understood the character of his niece, had prepared a treat of a more important kind for her, and at the conclusion of the banquet, presented her with a rich crown and a sceptre of crystal, and another of gold, ornamented with pearls and precious stones. He gave the young duke, her son, a buckle of gold adorned with rubies and pearls, a beautiful diamond, and a number of silver vessels. To his little brothers, Arthur earl of Richmond and count Jules of. Bretagne, he presented each a collar of gold enriched with rubies and pearls. He gave the countess of Rohan, Joanna's aunt, a splendid diamond, and a buckle to each of her ladies and damsels who were present. The lords in waiting and officers of the duchess's household were not forgotten in this magnificent distribution of largesses, in which the duke expended an immense sum. These discreet gifts entirely gained the heart of the duchess, of the princes her children, her lords and officers, but, above all, of that most influential coterie, the ladies of her court and bedchamber. They were sure the duke of Burgundy would be the best person in the world to defend the rights and protect the person of their young duke, and to diffuse happiness and prosperity among his subjects, and they besought him to undertake the guardianship of the royal minors and their patrimony. To turn Joanna from her intended marriage with the king of England, the duke of Burgundy found to be a thing impossible; but he succeeded in convincing her how much better it would be for the interests of her sons to leave them under his guardianship, and the protection of their natural sovereign the king of France, than to risk alienating the affections of the Bretons by taking them to England. He reminded her that he was her uncle, and one of the nearest relations her children had, and also that he was the friend and kinsman of their father, the late duke; finally, he swore on the holy Evangelists to maintain their cause, and to preserve the laws, liberties, and privileges of the Bretons inviolate. The duchess was then persuaded to sign a deed, investing him with this important charge. When Joanna had resigned the guardianship of her children to the duke of Burgundy, he departed from Nantes for Paris on the 3rd of November, 1402, after a stay of two months, taking with him the young duke and his two brothers, Arthur and Jules. The duke was only in his thirteenth year, and the younger princes so small, that they could scarcely guide the horse on which they were mounted, one behind the other. They were conducted by the duke of Burgundy to Paris, where the young duke of Bretagne performed his homage to Charles VI. of France. Joanna had another son named Richard, an infant, who is not mentioned in the Breton chronicles as forming one of this party.'
One of Joanna's last actions as duchess of Bretagne was to secure to her aunt, Jane of Navarre, the wife of the viscount Rohan, a pension of 1000l. per year, out of the rents of her dower-city and county of Nantes. This deed, which is printed in the Foedera, affords an interesting testimony of Joanna's affection for her deceased lord, as it states that the annuity is granted, not only in consideration of the nearness of kindred and friendship that is between her and her aunt, “but also,” continues the august donor, “in remuneration of the good pains and diligence she used to procure our marriage with our very dear and beloved lord, (whom God assoile !) Of which marriage it has pleased our Lord and Saviour that we should continue a noble line, to the great profit of the country of Bretagne, in our very dear and beloved son the duke of Bretagne, and our other children, sons and daughters. And for this it was the will and pleasure of our said very dear and beloved lord, if he had had a longer life, to have bestowed many gifts and benefits on our said aunt, to aid her in her sustenance and provision.””
* Actes de Bretagne. Chron. Briocense. Dom Morice. * Joanna's grant was confirmed by her betrothed husband, Henry IV. of England, to her aunt, under his great seal at Westminster, March 1st, 1402– ormer's Foedera.