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showed a violent spirit combined with much unscrupulous ability. This ill-starred marriage brought with it no lasting peace for England; but Beaufort, knowing how ill the country was prepared for war, by a skilful management of the wedding negotiations, brought about a truce for twenty-two months between the two countries.
This, after nearly thirty years of strife, was such a novelty, such a joy, that the excitable French were wild with delight. People long pent up in beleaguered towns and fortresses, who had never looked on the face of nature, were now like poor birds let loose from the cage, and went forth in crowds to see the neighbouring fields and villages. With whomsoever they met, whether French or English, they were gay and social,-a certain proof that they were more disposed for peace than for fighting. "A wonderful thing indeed,' says the old chronicler, “and only to be ascribed to God! Those even who before were pleased with a merciless shedding of blood, now, by an inexplicable love of peace, joined in the dances and the feasts, and formed friendly connections with their former enemies, however cruel they might have been.'
The people thus gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the present hour, but the French Government had other thoughts and views. With them, the truce was nothing more than a respite to be employed in the most vigorous preparations for the renewal of the war, which should be one of extermination for the English.
In the midst of this, a great misfortune befell the
TRUCE BETWEEN ENGLAND AND FRANCE. 317
Dauphin (though perhaps he was incapable of feeling it as such), in the death of his amiable young wife, Margaret of Scotland, after only a few days' illness. While she lived, although her husband's jealousy and meanness deeply wounded her, yet, by her goodness and fine tact, she managed to keep the peace between father and son; so that under her guidance they were at least outwardly civil. But the moment she was gone, the war began anew; and Louis speedily married again a very young girl, Charlotte of Savoy, contrary to Charles' wishes. Hence arose for a time a new cause of strife.
These unhappy dissensions did not produce any serious changes in the Government, which showed great stability and an unwavering purpose; for though the truce with England was renewed from time to time, there was no relaxation in the preparations for the recovery of Normandy.
Those valiant generals, Richmond, Alençon, and Dunois, pressed the King to seize a most favourable opportunity that presented itself at this time, when the Duke of Brittany entreated Charles to send him aid to recover certain possessions which the English had wrested from him. The army, the Council, and even the people, as with one voice cried : ‘To arms, to arms! extirpate the English ; cast them out from our land !' To this cry Charles at length responded; the Duke of Brittany and his barons added to their entreaty the assurance that they would faithfully serve him against the English; and Richmond, who was nearly related to the Duke, at once placed himself
at the head of a strong Breton force ready to take the field.
Charles made no demur, and wished to march forward ; but the means were wanting to do so—his exchequer was very low. He applied to some of his nobles, whom he had enriched, for a loan. All refused on frivolous pretences; but when he addressed himself to that loyal merchant, Jacques Cour, he was nobly answered, Sire, all I have
“ is yours ;' and he gave the King two hundred thousand crowns in gold towards the recovery of Normandy.
This was enough; the war was renewed with spirit. There was no lack of men-at-arms, with all that might be required to give efficiency to an army. Part bore aloft the standard and uttered the war-cry of Brittany; but they failed not to serve France, and seized Pont de L'Arche and many othet places in Normandy. So well were the
. several forces combined, that the Constable and his Bretons were everywhere victorious, and the English were driven out from nearly every city. Charles, as he passed from town to town throughout his regained dominions, was hailed with the “Noel, Noel' of enthusiastic welcome.
Rouen, the scene of Jeanne's martyrdom, was the most important refractory city. The principal English generals and governors had fled within its walls, and there proposed to hold out. The King and his Council were at Pont de L'Arche; and on learning this, they despatched a herald to summon Rouen to surrender. The herald was brutally repulsed and threatened with death, 'which,' says an old
THE CONQUEST OF NORMANDY.
chronicler, 'was contrary to all the usages of chivalry.' That famous city was not easily to be conquered. Within its walls was old John Talbot, who defended them with extraordinary vigour; and even after the city was subdued, he retired to the fortress of the ancient palace.
All resistance, however, proved vain; the citizens in a body declared for capitulation; and Charles, who was desirous to win back both cities and people by pardon and indulgence, granted liberal terms. He also consented that the English should depart uninjured, on condition of giving up all the towns they held in Normandy, and paying ransom of fifty thousand crowns in gold; Talbot and certain other of the great English nobles to be held as hostages till these terms were fulfilled. Some demur arose on the part of the governor of Honfleur, who, when the other places yielded, refused to surrender; and therefore Talbot, held in the highest honour by Charles and his chivalrous company, remained as the most valuable hostage for a considerable time.
Rich gifts were presented to Charles by the principal citizens, with the humble petition that he would be graciously pleased to pursue his ancient enemies the English, and drive them entirely out. Charles promised to do so, and granted many privileges to the good city of Rouen. Having arranged that the hostages were to be liberated as soon as the terms agreed upon were fulfilled, he appointed Sir Pierre de Brezé, Seneschal of Poitou, and governor of the regained city, and soon after departed.?
| Monstrelet, vol. ix.
Charles goes to Jumieges—Death of Agnes Sorel-Monuments to her
Memory—the Court of Charles becomes more corrupt in Morals—
HARLES, finding that the terms of the treaty
were not fulfilled, in consequence of the Governor of Honfleur persisting in his re
fusal to give up the town, ordered that it should be reduced by siege, and went himself to the Abbey of Jumieges, about eighteen miles from Rouen.
Whilst he was there, after giving birth to her fourth child by the King, died Agnes Sorel. As her end approached, she expressed much repentance for her sinful life, and remarked to the wife of the Seneschal de Brezé, that our fragile body, of whose beauty we are so proud, is but worthless dust.' She then desired her confessor to