The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Great Events by Famous Historians,
Volume 07, by Various

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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07

Author: Various

Editor: Rossiter Johnson
        Charles Horne
        John Rudd

Release Date: December 18, 2008 [EBook #27562]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Turgut Dincer and the Online Distributed
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Jeanne d'Arc stands, banner in hand,
during the coronation of Charles
VII before the high altar at Rheims.
Jeanne d'Arc stands, banner in hand,
during the coronation of Charles
VII before the high altar at Rheims.













With a staff of specialists



The National Alumni





An Outline Narrative of the Great Events, xiii

Dante Composes the Divina Commedia (a.d. 1300-1318),


Third Estate Joins in the Government of France (a.d. 1302),


War of the Flemings with Philip the Fair of France (a.d. 1302),


First Swiss Struggle for Liberty (a.d. 1308),


Battle of Bannockburn (a.d. 1314),,


Extinction of the Order of Knights Templars


Burning of Grand Master Molay (a.d. 1314),


James van Artevelde Leads a Flemish Revolt


Edward III of England Assumes the Title of King of France,(a.d. 1337-1340)


Battles of Sluys and Crécy (a.d. 1340-1346),


Modern Recognition of Scenic Beauty


Crowning of Petrarch at Rome (a.d. 1341),


Rienzi's Revolution in Rome (a.d. 1347),


Beginning and Progress of the Renaissance (Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century),


The Black Death Ravages Europe (a.d. 1348),


First Turkish Dominion in Europe Turks Seize Gallipoli (a.d. 1354),


Conspiracy and Death of Marino Falieri at Venice (d.d. 1355),


Charles IV of Germany Publishes His Golden Bull (a.d. 1356),


Insurrection of the Jacquerie in France (a.d. 1358),


Conquests of Timur the Tartar (a.d. 1370-1405),


Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages (a.d. 1374),

  J. F. C. HECKER  

Election of Antipope Clement VII


Beginning of the Great Schism (a.d. 1378),


Genoese Surrender to Venetians (a.d. 1380),


Rebellion of Wat Tyler (a.d. 1381),


Wycliffe Translates the Bible into English (A.D. 1382),


The Swiss Win Their Independence Battle of Sempach (a.d. 1386-1389),


Union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (a.d. 1397),


Discovery of the Canary Islands and the African Coast


Beginning of Negro Slave Trade (a.d. 1402),


Council of Constance (a.d. 1414),


Trial and Burning of John Huss


The Hussite Wars (a.d. 1415),


The House of Hohenzollern Established in Brandenburg (a.d. 1415),


Battle of Agincourt


English Conquest of France (a.d. 1415),


Jeanne d'Arc's Victory at Orleans (a.d. 1429),


Trial and Execution of Jeanne d'Arc (a.d. 1431),


Charles VII Issues His Pragmatic Sanction


Emancipation of the Gallican Church (a.d. 1438),


Universal Chronology (A.D. 1301-1438),






Jeanne d'Arc stands, banner in hand, during the coronation of Charles VII, before the high altar at Rheims (page 347),

  Painting by J. E. Lenepveu.  

Richard II resigns the crown of England to Henry, Duke of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt, at London,

  Painting by Sir John Gilbert.  







FIFTY years ago the term "renaissance" had a very definite meaning to scholars as representing an exact period toward the close of the fourteenth century when the world suddenly reawoke to the beauty of the arts of Greece and Rome, to the charm of their gayer life, the splendor of their intellect. We know now that there was no such sudden reawakening, that Teutonic Europe toiled slowly upward through long centuries, and that men learned only gradually to appreciate the finer side of existence, to study the universe for themselves, and look with their own eyes upon the life around them and the life beyond.

Thus the word "renaissance" has grown to cover a vaguer period, and there has been a constant tendency to push the date of its beginning ever backward, as we detect more and more the dimly dawning light amid the darkness of earlier ages. Of late, writers have fallen into the way of calling Dante the "morning star of the Renaissance"; and the period of the great poet's work, the first decade of the fourteenth century, has certainly the advantage of being characterized by three or four peculiarly striking events which serve to typify the tendencies of the coming age.

In 1301 Dante was driven out of Florence, his native city-republic, by a political strife. In this year, as he himself phrases xiv it, he descended into hell; that is, he began those weary wanderings in exile which ended only with his life, and which stirred in him the deeps that found expression in his mighty poem, the Divina Commedia.1 Throughout his masterpiece he speaks with eager respect of the old Roman writers, and of such Greeks as he knew—so we have admiration of the ancient intellect. He also speaks bitterly of certain popes, as well as of other more earthly tyrants—so we have the dawnings of democracy and of religious revolt, of government by one's self and thought for one's self, instead of submission to the guidance of others.

More important even than these in its immediate results, Dante, while he began his poem in Latin, the learned language of the time, soon transposed and completed it in Italian, the corrupted Latin of his commoner contemporaries, the tongue of his daily life. That is, he wrote not for scholars like himself, but for a wider circle of more worldly friends. It is the first great work in any modern speech. It is in very truth the recognition of a new world of men, a new and more practical set of merchant intellects which, with their growing and vigorous vitality, were to supersede the old.

In that same decade and in that same city of Florence, Giotto was at work, was beginning modern art with his paintings, was building the famous cathedral there, was perhaps planning his still more famous bell-tower. Here surely was artistic wakening enough.

If we look further afield through Italy we find in 1303 another scene tragically expressive of the changing times. The French King, Philip the Fair, so called from his appearance, not his dealings, had bitter cause of quarrel with the same Pope Boniface VIII who had held the great jubilee of 1300. Philip's soldiers, forcing their way into the little town of Anagni, to which the Pope had withdrawn, laid violent hands upon his holiness. If measured by numbers, the whole affair was trifling. So few were the French soldiers that in a few days the handful of towns-folk in Anagni were able to rise against them, expel them from the place and rescue the aged Pope. He had been struck—beaten, say not wholly reliable authorities—and so insulted that rage and shame drove him mad, and he died.

xv Not a sword in all Europe leaped from its scabbard to avenge the martyr. Religious men might shudder at the sacrilege, but the next Pope, venturing to take up Boniface's quarrel, died within a few months under strong probabilities of poison; and the next Pope, Clement V, became the obedient servant of the French King. He even removed the seat of papal authority from Rome to Avignon in France, and there for seventy years the popes remained. The breakdown of the whole temporal power of the Church was sudden, terrible, complete.


Following up his religious successes, Philip the Fair attacked the mighty knights of the Temple, the most powerful of the religious orders of knighthood which had fought the Saracens in Jerusalem. The Templars, having found their warfare hopeless, had abandoned the Holy Land and had dwelt for a generation inglorious in the West. Philip suddenly seized the leading members of the order, accused it of hideous crimes, and confiscated all its vast wealth and hundreds of strong castles throughout France. He secured from his French Pope approval of the extermination of the entire order and the torture and execution of its chiefs. Whether the charges against them were true or not, their helplessness in the grip of the King shows clearly the low ebb to which knighthood had fallen, and the rising power of the monarchs. The day of feudalism was past.2

We may read yet other signs of the age in the career of this cruel, crafty King. To strengthen himself in his struggle against the Pope, he called, in 1302, an assembly or "states-general" of his people; and, following the example already established in England, he gave a voice in this assembly to the "Third Estate," the common folk or "citizens," as well as to the nobles and the clergy. So even in France we find the people acquiring power, though as yet this Third Estate speaks with but a timid and subservient voice, requiring to be much encouraged by its money-asking sovereigns, who little dreamed it would one day be strong enough to demand a reckoning of all its tyrant overlords.3


Another event to be noted in this same year of 1302 took place farther northward in King Philip's domains. The Flemish cities Ghent, Liège, and Bruges had grown to be the great centres of the commercial world, so wealthy and so populous that they outranked Paris. The sturdy Flemish burghers had not always been subject to France—else they had been less well to-do. They regarded Philip's exactions as intolerable, and rebelled. Against them marched the royal army of iron-clad knights; and the desperate citizens, meeting these with no better defence than stout leather jerkins, led them into a trap. At the battle of Courtrai the knights charged into an unsuspected ditch, and as they fell the burghers with huge clubs beat out such brains as they could find within the helmets. It was subtlety against stupidity, the merchant's shrewdness asserting itself along new lines. King Philip had to create for himself a fresh nobility to replenish his depleted stock.4

The fact that there is so much to pause on in Philip's reign will in itself suggest the truth, that France had grown the most important state in Europe. This, however, was due less to French strength than to the weakness of the empire, where rival rulers were being constantly elected and wasting their strength against one another. If Courtrai had given the first hint that these iron-clad knights were not invincible in war, it was soon followed by another. The Swiss peasants formed among themselves a league to resist oppression. This took definite shape in 1308 when they rebelled openly against their Hapsburg overlords.5 The Hapsburg duke of the moment was one of two rival claimants for the title of emperor, and was much too busy to attend personally to the chastisement of these presumptuous boors. The army which he sent to do the work for him was met by the Swiss at Morgarten, among their mountain passes, overwhelmed with rocks, and then put to flight by one fierce charge of the unarmored peasants. It took the Austrians seventy years to forget that lesson, and when a later generation sent a second army into the mountains it was overthrown at Sempach. Swiss liberty was established on an unarguable basis.6

xviiA similar tale might be told of Bannockburn, where, under Bruce, the Scotch common folk regained their freedom from the English.7 Courtrai, Morgarten, Bannockburn! Clearly a new force was growing up over all Europe, and a new spirit among men. Knighthood, which had lost its power over kings, seemed like to lose its military repute as well.

The development of the age was, of course, most rapid in Italy, where democracy had first asserted itself. In its train came intellectual ability, and by the middle of the fourteenth century Italy was in the full swing of the intellectual renaissance.8 In 1341 Petrarch, recognized by all his contemporary countrymen as their leading scholar and poet, was crowned with a laurel wreath on the steps of the Capitol in Rome. This was the formal assertion by the age of its admiration for intellectual worth. To Petrarch is ascribed the earliest recognition of the beauty of nature. He has been called the first modern man. In reading his works we feel at last that we speak with one of our own, with a friend who understands.9


Unfortunately, however, the democracy of Italy proved too intense, too frenzied and unbalanced. Rienzi established a republic in Rome and talked of the restoration of the city's ancient rule. But he governed like a madman or an inflated fool, and was slain in a riot of the streets.10 Scarce one of the famous cities succeeded in retaining its republican form. Milan became a duchy. Florence fell under the sway of the Medici. In Venice a few rich families seized all authority, and while the fame and territory of the republic were extended, its dogeship became a mere figurehead. All real power was lodged in the dread and secret council of three.11 Genoa was defeated and crushed in a great naval contest with her rival, Venice.12 Everywhere tyrannies stood out triumphant. The first modern age of representative xviiigovernment was a failure. The cities had proved unable to protect themselves against the selfish ambitions of their leaders.

In Germany and the Netherlands town life had been, as we have seen, slower of development.13 Hence for these Northern cities the period of decay had not yet come. In fact, the fourteenth century marks the zenith of their power. Their great trading league, the Hansa, was now fully established, and through the hands of its members passed all the wealth of Northern Europe. The league even fought a war against the King of Denmark and defeated him. The three northern states, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, fell almost wholly under the dominance of the Hansa, until, toward the end of the century, Queen Margaret of Denmark, "the Semiramis of the North," united the three countries under her sway, and partly at least upraised them from their sorry plight.14

On the whole this was not an era to which Europe can look back with pride. The empire was a scene of anarchy. One of its wrangling rulers, Charles IV, recognizing that the lack of an established government lay at the root of all the disorder, tried to mend matters by publishing his "Golden Bull," which exactly regulated the rules and formulæ to be gone through in choosing an emperor, and named the seven "electors" who were to vote. This simplified matters so far as the repeatedly contested elections went; but it failed to strike to the real difficulty. The Emperor remained elective and therefore weak.15

Moreover, in 1346 the "Black Death," most terrible of all the repeated plagues under which the centuries previous to our own have suffered, began to rear its dread form over terror-stricken Europe.16 It has been estimated that during the three years of this awful visitation one-third of the people of Europe perished. Whole cities were wiped out. In the despair and desolation of the period of scarcity that followed, humanity became hysterical, and within a generation that oddest of all the extravagances of the Middle Ages, the "dancing mania," rose to its height. Men and women wandered from town to town, espexixcially in Germany, dancing frantically, until in their exhaustion they would beg the bystanders to beat them or even jump on them to enable them to stop.17

France and England were also in desolation. The long "Hundred Years' War" between them began in 1340. France was not averse to it. In fact, her King, Philip of Valois, rather welcomed the opportunity of wresting away Guienne, the last remaining French fief of the English kings. France, as we have seen, was regarded as the strongest land of Europe. England was thought of as little more than a French colony, whose Norman dukes had in the previous century been thoroughly chastised and deprived of half their territories by their overlord. To be sure, France was having much trouble with her Flemish cities, which were in revolt again under the noted brewer-nobleman, Van Artevelde,18 yet it seemed presumption for England to attack her—England, so feeble that she had been unable to avenge her own defeat by the half-barbaric Scots at Bannockburn.

But the English had not nearly so small an opinion of themselves as had the rest of Europe. The heart of the nation had not been in that strife against the Scots, a brave and impoverished people struggling for freedom. But hearts and pockets, too, welcomed the quarrel with France, overbearing France, that plundered their ships when they traded with their friends the Flemings. The Flemish wool trade was at this time a main source of English wealth, so Edward III of England, than whom ordinarily no haughtier aristocrat existed, made friends with the brewer Van Artevelde, and called him "gossip" and visited him at Ghent, and presently Flemings and English were allied in a defiance of France. By asserting a vague ancestral claim to the French throne, Edward eased the consciences of his allies, who had sworn loyalty to France; and King Philip had on his hands a far more serious quarrel than he realized.19

In England's first great naval victory, Edward destroyed the French fleet at Sluys and so started his country on its wonderful career of ocean dominance. Moreover, his success established xxfrom the start that the war should be fought out in France and not in England.20 Then, in 1346, he won his famous victory of Crécy against overwhelming numbers of his enemies. It has been said that cannon were effectively used for the first time at Crécy, and it was certainly about this time that gunpowder began to assume a definite though as yet subordinate importance in warfare. But we need not go so far afield to explain the English victory. It lay in the quality of the fighting men. Through a century and a half of freedom, England had been building up a class of sturdy yeomen, peasants who, like the Swiss, lived healthy, hearty, independent lives. France relied only on her nobles; her common folk were as yet a helpless herd of much shorn sheep. The French knights charged as they had charged at Courtrai, with blind, unreasoning valor; and the English peasants, instead of fleeing before them, stood firm and, with deadly accuracy of aim, discharged arrow after arrow into the soon disorganized mass. Then the English knights charged, and completed what the English yeomen had begun.

Poitiers, ten years later, repeated the same story; and what with the Black Death sweeping over the land, and these terrible English ravaging at will, France sank into an abyss of misery worse even than that which had engulfed the empire. The unhappy peasantry, driven by starvation into frenzied revolt, avenged their agony upon the nobility by hideous plunderings and burnings of the rich châteaux.21 A partial peace with England was patched up in 1360; but the "free companies" of mercenary soldiers, who had previously been ravaging Italy, had now come to take their pleasure in the French carnival of crime, and so the plundering and burning went on until the fair land was wellnigh a wilderness, and the English troops caught disease from their victims and perished in the desolation they had helped to make. By simply refusing to fight battles with them and letting them starve, the next French king, Charles V, won back almost all his father had lost; and before his death, in 1380, the English power in France had fallen again almost to where it stood at the beginning of the war.

Edward III had died, brooding over the emptiness of his xxigreat triumph. His son the Black Prince had died, cursing the falsity of Frenchmen. England also had gone through the great tragedy of the Black Death and her people, like those of France, had been driven to the point of rebellion—though with them this meant no more than that they felt themselves over-taxed.22

The latter part of the fourteenth century must, therefore, be regarded as a period of depression in European civilization, of retrograde movement during which the wheels of progress had turned back. It even seemed as though Asia would once more and perhaps with final success reassert her dominion over helpless Europe. The Seljuk Turks who, in 1291, had conquered Acre, the last European stronghold in the Holy Land, had lost their power; but a new family of the Turkish race, the one that dwells in Europe to-day, the Osmanlis, had built up an empire by conquest over their fellows, and had begun to wrest province after province from the feeble Empire of the East. In 1354 their advance brought them across the Bosporus and they seized their first European territory.23 Soon they had spread over most of modern Turkey. Only the strong-walled Constantinople held out, while its people cried frantically to the West for help. The invaders ravaged Hungary. A crusade was preached against them; but in 1396 the entire crusading army, united with all the forces of Hungary, was overthrown, almost exterminated in the battle of Nicopolis.

Perhaps it was only a direct providence that saved Europe. Another Tartar conqueror, Timur the Lame, or Tamburlaine, had risen in the Far East.24 Like Attila and Genghis Khan he swept westward asserting sovereignty. The Sultan of the Turks recalled all his armies from Europe to meet this mightier and more insistent foe. A gigantic battle, which vague rumor has measured in quite unthinkable numbers of combatants and slain, was fought at Angora in 1402. The Turks were defeated and subjugated by the Tartars. Timur's empire, being founded on no real unity, dissolved with his death, and the various subject nations reasserted their independence. Yet Europe was granted a xxiiconsiderable breathing space before the Turks once more felt able to push their aggressions westward.


Toward the close of this unlucky fourteenth century a marked religious revival extended over Europe. Perhaps men's sufferings had caused it. Many sects of reformers appeared, protesting sometimes against the discipline, sometimes the doctrines, of the Church. In Germany Nicholas of Basel established the "Friends of God." In England Wycliffe wrote the earliest translation of the Bible into any of our modern tongues.25 The Avignon popes shook off their long submission to France and returned to Italy, to a Rome so desolate that they tell us not ten thousand people remained to dwell amid its stupendous ruins. Unfortunately this return only led the papacy into still deeper troubles. Several of the cardinals refused to recognize the Roman Pope and elected another, who returned to Avignon. This was the beginning of the "Great Schism" in the Church.26 For forty years there were two, sometimes three, claimants to the papal chair. The effect of their struggles was naturally to lessen still further that solemn veneration with which men had once looked up to the accepted vicegerent of God on earth. Hitherto the revolt against the popes had only assailed their political supremacy; but now heresies that included complete denial of the religious authority of the Church began everywhere to arise. In England Wycliffe's preachings and pamphlets grew more and more opposed to Roman doctrine. In Bohemia John Huss not only said, as all men did, that the Church needed reform, but, going further, he refused obedience to papal commands.27 In short, the reformers, finding themselves unable to purify the Roman Church according to their views, began to deny its sacredness and defy its power.

At length an unusually energetic though not oversuccessful emperor, Sigismund, the same whom the Turks had defeated at Nicopolis, persuaded the leaders of the Church to unite with him xxiiiin calling a grand council at Constance.28 This council ended the great schism and restored order to the Church by securing the rule of a single pope. It also burned John Huss as a heretic, and thereby left on Sigismund's hands a fierce rebellion among the reformer's Bohemian followers. The war lasted for a generation, and during its course all the armies of Germany were repeatedly defeated by the fanatic Hussites.29

Another interesting performance of the Emperor Sigismund was that, being deep in debt, he sold his "electorate" of Brandenburg to a friend, a Hohenzollern, and thus established as one of the four chief families of the empire those Hohenzollerns who rose to be kings of Prussia and have in our own day supplanted the Hapsburgs as emperors of Germany.30 Also worth noting of Sigismund is the fact that during the sitting of his Council of Constance he made a tour of Europe to persuade all the princes and various potentates to join it. When he reached England he was met by a band of Englishmen who waded into the sea to demand whether by his imperial visit he meant to assert any supremacy over England. Sigismund assured them he did not, and was allowed to land. We may look to this English parade of independence as our last reminder of the old mediæval conception of the Emperor as being at least in theory the overlord of the whole of Europe.


By this time England had in fact recovered from her period of temporary disorder and depression. King Richard II, the feeble son of the Black Prince, had been deposed in 1399,31 and a new and vigorous line of rulers, the Lancastrians, reached their culmination in Henry V (1415-1422). Henry revived the French quarrel, and paralleled Crécy and Poitiers with a similar victory at Agincourt.32 The French King was a madman, and, aided by a civil war among the French nobility, Henry soon had his neighbor'sxxiv kingdom seemingly helpless at his feet. By the treaty of Troyes he was declared the heir to the French throne, married the mad King's daughter, and dwelt in Paris as regent of the kingdom.33

The Norman conquest of England seemed balanced by a similar English conquest of France. But the chances of fate are many. Both Henry and his insane father-in-law died in the same year, and while Henry left only a tiny babe to succeed to his claims, the French King left a full-grown though rather worthless son. This young man, Charles VII, continued to deny the English authority, from a safe distance in Southern France. He made, however, no effort to assert himself or retrieve his fortunes; and the English captains in the name of their baby King took possession of one fortress after another, till, in 1429, Orleans was the only French city of rank still barring their way from Charles and the far south.34

Then came the sudden, wonderful arousing of the French under their peasant heroine, Jeanne d'Arc, and her tragic capture and execution.35 At last even the French peasantry were roused; and the French nobles forgot their private quarrels and turned a united front against the invaders. The leaderless English lost battle after battle, until of all France they retained only Edward III's first conquest, the city of Calais.

France, a regenerated France, turned upon the popes of the Council of Constance, and, remembering how long she had held the papacy within her own borders, asserted at least a qualified independence of the Romans by the "Pragmatic Sanction" which established the Gallican Church.36

This semi-defiance of the Pope was encouraged by King Charles, who, in fact, made several shrewd moves to secure the power which his good-fortune, and not his abilities, had won. Among other innovations he established a "standing army," the first permanent body of government troops in Teutonic Europe. By this step he did much to alter the mediæval into the modern world; he did much to establish that supremacy of xxvkings over both nobles and people which continued in France and more or less throughout all Europe for over three centuries to follow.

Another sign of the coming of a new and more vigorous era is to be seen in the beginning of exploration down the Atlantic coast of Africa by the Portuguese, and their discovery and settlement of the Canary Isles. As a first product of their voyages the explorers introduced negro slavery into Europe37—a grim hint that the next age with increasing power was to face increasing responsibilities as well.

An even greater change was coming, was already glimmering into light. In that same year of King Charles' Pragmatic Sanction (1438), though yet unknown to warring princes and wrangling churchmen, John Gutenberg, in a little German workshop, had evolved the idea of movable types, that is, of modern printing. From his press sprang the two great modern genii, education and publicity, which have already made tyrannies and slaveries impossible, pragmatic sanctions unnecessary, and which may one day do as much for standing armies.



A.D. 1300-1318


Out of what may be called the civil and religious storm-and-stress period through which the Middle passed into the modern age, there came a great literary foregleam of the new life upon which the world was about to enter. From Italy, where the European ferment, both in its political and its spiritual character, mainly centred, came the prophecy of the new day, in a poet's "vision of the invisible world"—Dante's Divina Commedia—wherein also the deeper history of the visible world of man was both embodied from the past and in a measure predetermined for the human race.

Dante's great epic was called by him a comedy because its ending was not tragical, but "happy"; and admiration gave it the epithet "divine." It is in three parts—Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory), and Paradiso (paradise). It has been made accessible to English readers in the metrical translations of Carey, Longfellow, Norton, and others, and in the excellent prose version (Inferno) of John Aitken Carlyle, brother of Thomas Carlyle.

Dante (originally Durante) Alighieri was born at Florence in May, 1265, and died at Ravenna September 14, 1321. Both the Divina Commedia and his other great work, the Vita Nuova (the new life), narrate the love—either romantic or passionate—with which he was inspired by Beatrice Portinari, whom he first saw when he was nine years old and Beatrice eight. His whole future life and work are believed to have been determined by this ideal attachment. But an equally noteworthy fact of his literary career is that his works were produced in the midst of party strifes wherein the poet himself was a prominent actor. In the bitter feuds of the Guelfs and Ghibellines he bore the sufferings of failure, persecution, and exile. But above all these trials rose his heroic spirit and the sublime voice of his poems, which became a quickening prophecy, realized in the birth of Italian and of European literature, in the whole movement of the Renaissance, and in the ever-advancing development of the modern world.

Church's clear-sighted interpretations of the mind and life of Dante, and of the history-making Commedia, attest the importance of including the poet and his work in this record of Great Events.

2 THE Divina Commedia is one of the landmarks of history. More than a magnificent poem, more than the beginning of a language and the opening of a national literature, more than the inspirer of art and the glory of a great people, it is one of those rare and solemn monuments of the mind's power which measure and test what it can reach to, which rise up ineffaceably and forever as time goes on marking out its advance by grander divisions than its centuries, and adopted as epochs by the consent of all who come after. It stands with the Iliad and Shakespeare's plays, with the writings of Aristotle and Plato, with the Novum Organon and the Principia, with Justinian's Code, with the Parthenon and St. Peter's. It is the first Christian poem; and it opens European literature, as the Iliad did that of Greece and Rome. And, like the Iliad, it has never become out of date; it accompanies in undiminished freshness the literature which it began.

We approach the history of such works, in which genius seems to have pushed its achievements to a new limit. Their bursting out from nothing, and gradual evolution into substance and shape, cast on the mind a solemn influence. They come too near the fount of being to be followed up without our feeling the shadows which surround it. We cannot but fear, cannot but feel ourselves cut off from this visible and familiar world—as we enter into the cloud. And as with the processes of nature, so it is with those offsprings of man's mind by which he has added permanently one more great feature to the world, and created a new power which is to act on mankind to the end. The mystery of the inventive and creative faculty, the subtle and incalculable combinations by which it was led to its work, and carried through it, are out of reach of investigating thought. Often the idea recurs of the precariousness of the result; by how little the world might have lost one of its ornaments—by one sharp pang, or one chance meeting, or any other among the countless accidents among which man runs his course. And then the solemn recollection supervenes that powers were formed, and life preserved, and circumstances arranged, and actions controlled, and thus it should be; and the work which man has brooded over, and at last created, is the foster-child too of that "Wisdom which reaches from end to end, strongly and sweetly disposing of all things."3

It does not abate these feelings that we can follow in some cases and to a certain extent the progress of a work. Indeed, the sight of the particular accidents among which it was developed—which belong perhaps to a heterogeneous and wildly discordant order of things, which are out of proportion and out of harmony with it, which do not explain it; which have, as it seems to us, no natural right to be connected with it, to bear on its character, or contribute to its accomplishment; to which we feel, as it were, ashamed to owe what we can least spare, yet on which its forming mind and purpose were dependent, and with which they had to conspire—affects the imagination even more than cases where we see nothing. We are tempted less to musing and wonder by the Iliad, a work without a history, cut off from its past, the sole relic and vestige of its age, unexplained in its origin and perfection, than by the Divina Commedia, destined for the highest ends and most universal sympathy, yet the reflection of a personal history, and issuing seemingly from its chance incidents.

The Divina Commedia is singular among the great works with which it ranks, for its strong stamp of personal character and history. In general we associate little more than the name—not the life—of a great poet with his works; personal interest belongs more usually to greatness in its active than its creative forms. But the whole idea and purpose of the Commedia, as well as its filling up and coloring, are determined by Dante's peculiar history. The loftiest, perhaps, in its aim and flight of all poems, it is also the most individual; the writer's own life is chronicled in it, as well as the issues and upshot of all things. It is at once the mirror to all time of the sins and perfections of men, of the judgments and grace of God, and the record, often the only one, of the transient names, and local factions, and obscure ambitions, and forgotten crimes of the poet's own day; and in that awful company to which he leads us, in the most unearthly of his scenes, we never lose sight of himself. And when this peculiarity sends us to history, it seems as if the poem which was to hold such a place in Christian literature hung upon and grew out of chance events, rather than the deliberate design of its author. History, indeed, here, as generally, is but a feeble exponent of the course of growth in a great4 mind and great ideas. It shows us early a bent and purpose—the man conscious of power and intending to use it—and then the accidents among which he worked; but how the current of purpose threaded its way among them, how it was thrown back, deflected, deepened by them, we cannot learn from history.

It presents a broken and mysterious picture. A boy of quick and enthusiastic temper grows up into youth in a dream of love. The lady of his mystic passion dies early. He dreams of her still, not as a wonder of earth, but as a saint in paradise, and relieves his heart in an autobiography, a strange and perplexing work of fiction—quaint and subtle enough for a metaphysical conceit; but, on the other hand, with far too much of genuine and deep feeling. It is a first essay; he closes it abruptly as if dissatisfied with his work, but with the resolution of raising at a future day a worthy monument to the memory of her whom he has lost. It is the promise and purpose of a great work. But a prosaic change seems to come over his half-ideal character. The lover becomes the student—the student of the thirteenth century—struggling painfully against difficulties, eager and hot after knowledge, wasting eyesight and stinting sleep, subtle, inquisitive, active-minded and sanguine, but omnivorous, overflowing with dialectical forms, loose in premise and ostentatiously rigid in syllogism, fettered by the refinements of half-awakened taste and the mannerisms of the Provençals.

Boethius and Cicero and the mass of mixed learning within his reach are accepted as the consolation of his human griefs; he is filled with the passion of universal knowledge, and the desire to communicate it. Philosophy has become the lady of his soul—to write allegorical poems in her honor, and to comment on them with all the apparatus of his learning in prose, his mode of celebrating her. Further, he marries; it is said, not happily. The antiquaries, too, have disturbed romance by discovering that Beatrice also was married some years before her death. He appears, as time goes on, as a burgher of Florence, the father of a family, a politician, an envoy, a magistrate, a partisan, taking his full share in the quarrels of the day.

Beatrice reappears—shadowy, melting at times into symbol5 and figure—but far too living and real, addressed with too intense and natural feeling, to be the mere personification of anything. The lady of the philosophical Canzoni has vanished. The student's dream has been broken, as the boy's had been; and the earnestness of the man, enlightened by sorrow, overleaping the student's formalities and abstractions, reverted in sympathy to the earnestness of the boy, and brooded once more on that saint in paradise, whose presence and memory had once been so soothing, and who now seemed a real link between him and that stable country "where the angels are in peace." Round her image, the reflection of purity and truth and forbearing love, was grouped that confused scene of trouble and effort, of failure and success, which the poet saw round him; round her image it arranged itself in awful order—and that image, not a metaphysical abstraction, but the living memory, freshened by sorrow, and seen through the softening and hallowing vista of years, of Beatrice Portinari—no figment of imagination, but God's creature and servant. A childish love, dissipated by heavy sorrow—a boyish resolution, made in a moment of feeling, interrupted, though it would be hazardous to say, in Dante's case, laid aside, for apparently more manly studies, gave the idea and suggested the form of the "sacred poem of earth and heaven."

And the occasion of this startling unfolding of the poetic gift, of this passage of a soft and dreamy boy into the keenest, boldest, sternest of poets, the free and mighty leader of European song, was, what is not ordinarily held to be a source of poetical inspiration—the political life. The boy had sensibility, high aspirations, and a versatile and passionate nature; the student added to this energy, various learning, gifts of language, and noble ideas on the capacities and ends of man. But it was the factions of Florence which made Dante a great poet.

The connection of these feuds with Dante's poem has given to the Middle-Age history of Italy an interest of which it is not undeserving in itself, full as it is of curious exhibitions of character and contrivance, but to which politically it cannot lay claim, amid the social phenomena, so far grander in scale and purpose and more felicitous in issue, of other western nations.6 It is remarkable for keeping up an antique phase, which, in spite of modern arrangements, it has not yet lost. It is a history of cities. In ancient history all that is most memorable and instructive gathers round cities; civilization and empire were concentrated within walls; and it baffled the ancient mind to conceive how power should be possessed and wielded by numbers larger than might be collected in a single market-place. The Roman Empire, indeed, aimed at being one in its administration and law; and it was not a nation nor were its provinces nations, yet everywhere but in Italy it prepared them for becoming nations. And while everywhere else parts were uniting and union was becoming organization—and neither geographical remoteness nor unwieldiness of number nor local interests and differences were untractable obstacles to that spirit of fusion which was at once the ambition of the few and the instinct of the many; and cities, even where most powerful, had become the centres of the attracting and joining forces, knots in the political network—while this was going on more or less happily throughout the rest of Europe, in Italy the ancient classic idea lingered in its simplicity, its narrowness and jealousy, wherever there was any political activity. The history of Southern Italy, indeed, is mainly a foreign one—the history of modern Rome merges in that of the papacy; but Northern Italy has a history of its own, and that is a history of separate and independent cities—points of reciprocal and indestructible repulsion, and within, theatres of action where the blind tendencies and traditions of classes and parties weighed little on the freedom of individual character, and citizens could watch and measure and study one another with the minuteness of private life.

Dante, like any other literary celebrity of the time, was not less from the custom of the day than from his own purpose a public man. He took his place among his fellow-citizens; he went out to war with them; he fought, it is said, among the skirmishers at the great Guelf victory at Campaldino; to qualify himself for office in the democracy, he enrolled himself in one of the guilds of the people, and was matriculated in the "art" of the apothecaries; he served the state as its agent abroad; he went on important missions to the cities and courts of Italy7according to a Florentine tradition, which enumerates fourteen distinct embassies, even to Hungary and France. In the memorable year of jubilee, 1300, he was one of the priors of the Republic. There is no shrinking from fellowship and coöperation and conflict with the keen or bold men of the market-place and council hall, in that mind of exquisite and, as drawn by itself, exaggerated sensibility. The doings and characters of men, the workings of society, the fortunes of Italy, were watched and thought of with as deep an interest as the courses of the stars, and read in the real spectacle of life with as profound emotion as in the miraculous page of Vergil; and no scholar ever read Vergil with such feeling—no astronomer ever watched the stars with more eager inquisitiveness. The whole man opens to the world around him; all affections and powers, soul and sense, diligently and thoughtfully directed and trained, with free and concurrent and equal energy, with distinct yet harmonious purposes, seek out their respective and appropriate objects, moral, intellectual, natural, spiritual, in that admirable scene and hard field where man is placed to labor and love, to be exercised, proved, and judged.

The outlines of this part of Dante's history are so well known that it is not necessary to dwell on them; and more than the outlines we know not. The family quarrels came to a head, issued in parties, and the parties took names; they borrowed them from two rival factions in a neighboring town, Pistoia, whose feud was imported into Florence; and the Guelfs became divided into the Black Guelfs, who were led by the Donati, and the White Guelfs, who sided with Cerchi. It is still professed to be but a family feud, confined to the great houses; but they were too powerful and Florence too small for it not to affect the whole Republic. The middle classes and the artisans looked on, and for a time not without satisfaction, at the strife of the great men; but it grew evident that one party must crush the other and become dominant in Florence; and of the two, the Cerchi and their White adherents were less formidable to the democracy than the unscrupulous and overbearing Donati, with their military renown and lordly tastes; proud not merely of being nobles, but Guelf nobles; always loyal champions, once the martyrs, and now the hereditary assertors, of the great Guelf8 cause. The Cerchi, with less character and less zeal, but rich, liberal, and showy, and with more of rough kindness and vulgar good-nature for the common people, were more popular in Guelf Florence than the Parte Guelfa; and, of course, the Ghibellines wished them well.

Both the contemporary historians of Florence lead us to think that they might have been the governors and guides of the Republic—if they had chosen, and had known how; and both, though condemning the two parties equally, seem to have thought that this would have been the best result for the state. But the accounts of both, though they are very different writers, agree in their scorn of the leaders of the White Guelfs. They were upstarts, purse-proud, vain, and coarse-minded; and they dared to aspire to an ambition which they were too dull and too cowardly to pursue, when the game was in their hands. They wished to rule; but when they might, they were afraid. The commons were on their side, the moderate men, the party of law, the lovers of republican government, and for the most part the magistrates; but they shrank from their fortune, "more from cowardice than from goodness, because they exceedingly feared their adversaries." Boniface VIII had no prepossessions in Florence, except for energy and an open hand; the side which was most popular he would have accepted and backed. But he said, "Io non voglio perdere gli uomini perle femminelle."38 If the Black party furnished types for the grosser or fiercer forms of wickedness in the poet's hell, the White party surely were the originals of that picture of stupid and cowardly selfishness, in the miserable crowd who moan and are buffeted in the vestibule of the Pit, mingled with the angels who dared neither to rebel nor be faithful, but "were for themselves"; and whoever it may be who is singled out in the setta dei cattivi, for deeper and special scorn—he,

"Che fece per vilta il gran rifinto,"39

the idea was derived from the Cerchi in Florence.

Of his subsequent life, history tells us little more than the 9 general character. He acted for a time in concert with the expelled party, when they attempted to force their way back to Florence; he gave them up at last in scorn and despair; but he never returned to Florence. And he found no new home for the rest of his days. Nineteen years, from his exile to his death, he was a wanderer. The character is stamped on his writings. History, tradition, documents, all scanty or dim, do but disclose him to us at different points, appearing here and there, we are not told how or why. One old record, discovered by antiquarian industry, shows him in a village church near Florence, planning with the Cerchi and the White party an attack on the Black Guelfs. In another, he appears in the Val di Magra, making peace between its small potentates; in another, as the inhabitant of a certain street in Padua. The traditions of some remote spots about Italy still connect his name with a ruined tower, a mountain glen, a cell in a convent. In the recollections of the following generation, his solemn and melancholy form mingled reluctantly, and for a while, in the brilliant court of the Scaligers; and scared the women, as a visitant of the other world, as he passed by their doors in the streets of Verona. Rumor brings him to the West—with probability to Paris, more doubtfully to Oxford. But little that is certain can be made out about the places where he was honored and admired, and, it may be, not always a welcome guest, till we find him sheltered, cherished, and then laid at last to rest, by the lords of Ravenna. There he still rests, in a small, solitary chapel, built, not by a Florentine, but a Venetian. Florence, "that mother of little love," asked for his bones, but rightly asked in vain. His place of repose is better in those remote and forsaken streets "by the shore of the Adrian Sea," hard by the last relics of the Roman Empire—the mausoleum of the children of Theodosius, and the mosaics of Justinian—than among the assembled dead of St. Croce, or amid the magnificence of Santa Maria del Fiore.

The Commedia, at the first glance, shows the traces of its author's life. It is the work of a wanderer. The very form in which it is cast is that of a journey, difficult, toilsome, perilous, and full of change. It is more than a working out of that touching phraseology of the Middle Ages in which "the way"10 was the technical theological expression for this mortal life; and "viator" meant man in his state of trial, as "comprehensor" meant man made perfect, having attained to his heavenly country. It is more than merely this. The writer's mind is full of the recollections and definite images of his various journeys. The permanent scenery of the inferno and purgatorio, very variously and distinctly marked, is that of travel. The descent down the sides of the Pit, and the ascent of the Sacred Mountain, show one familiar with such scenes—one who had climbed painfully in perilous passes, and grown dizzy on the brink of narrow ledges over sea or torrent. It is scenery from the gorges of the Alps and Apennines, or the terraces and precipices of the Riviera. Local reminiscences abound. The severed rocks of the Adige Valley—the waterfall of St. Benedetto; the crags of Pietra-pana and St. Leo, which overlook the plains of Lucca and Ravenna; the "fair river" that flows among the poplars between Chiaveri and Sestri; the marble quarries of Carrara; the "rough and desert ways between Lerici and Turbia," and whose towery cliffs, going sheer into the deep sea at Noli, which travellers on the Corniche road some thirty years ago may yet remember with fear. Mountain experience furnished that picture of the traveller caught in an Alpine mist and gradually climbing above it; seeing the vapors grow thin, and the sun's orb appear faintly through them; and issuing at last into sunshine on the mountain top, while the light of sunset was lost already on the shores below:

"Ai raggi, morti gia' bassi lidi,"40

or that image of the cold dull shadow over the torrent, beneath the Alpine fir:

"Un' ombra smorta Qual sotto foglie verdi e rami nigri Sovra suoi freddi rivi, l'Alpe porta;"41

or of the large snowflakes falling without wind among the mountains:


"d'un cader lento Piovean di fuoco dilatate falde Come di neve in Alpe senza vento."42

Of these years, then, of disappointment and exile the Divina Commedia was the labor and fruit. A story in Boccaccio's life of Dante, told with some detail, implies, indeed, that it was begun, and some progress made in it, while Dante was yet in Florence—begun in Latin, and he quotes three lines of it—continued afterward in Italian. This is not impossible; indeed, the germ and presage of it may be traced in the Vita Nuova. The idealized saint is there, in all the grace of her pure and noble humbleness, the guide and safeguard of the poet's soul. She is already in glory with Mary the Queen of Angels. She already beholds the face of the Ever-blessed. And the envoye of the Vita Nuova is the promise of the Commedia. "After this sonnet" (in which he describes how beyond the widest sphere of heaven his love had beheld a lady receiving honor and dazzling by her glory the unaccustomed spirit)—"After this sonnet there appeared to me a marvellous vision, in which I saw things which made me resolve not to speak more of this blessed one until such time as I should be able to indite more worthily of her. And to attain to this, I study to the utmost of my power, as she truly knows. So that it shall be the pleasure of Him, by whom all things live, that my life continue for some years, I hope to say of her that which never hath been said of any woman. And afterward, may it please him, who is the Lord of kindness, that my soul may go to behold the glory of her lady, that is, of that blessed Beatrice, who gloriously gazes on the countenance of Him, qui est per omnia secula benedictus." It would be wantonly violating probability and the unity of a great life to suppose that this purpose, though transformed, was ever forgotten or laid aside. The poet knew not, indeed, what he was promising, what he was pledging himself to—through what years of toil and anguish he would have to seek the light and the power he had asked; in what form his high venture should be realized.

12 But the Commedia is the work of no light resolve, and we need not be surprised at finding the resolve and the purpose at the outset of the poet's life. We may freely accept the key supplied by the words of the Vita Nuova. The spell of boyhood is never broken, through the ups and downs of life. His course of thought advances, alters, deepens, but is continuous. From youth to age, from the first glimpse to the perfect work, the same idea abides with him, "even from the flower till the grape was ripe." It may assume various changes—an image of beauty, a figure of philosophy, a voice from the other world, a type of heavenly wisdom and joy—but still it holds, in self-imposed and willing thraldom, that creative and versatile and tenacious spirit. It was the dream and hope of too deep and strong a mind to fade and come to naught—to be other than the seed of the achievement and crown of life. But with all faith in the star and the freedom of genius, we may doubt whether the prosperous citizen would have done that which was done by the man without a home. Beatrice's glory might have been sung in grand though barbarous Latin to the literati of the fourteenth century; or a poem of new beauty might have fixed the language and opened the literature of modern Italy; but it could hardly have been the Commedia. That belongs, in its date and its greatness, to the time when sorrow had become the poet's daily portion and the condition of his life.

But such greatness had to endure its price and its counterpoise. Dante was alone—except in his visionary world, solitary and companionless. The blind Greek had his throng of listeners; the blind Englishman his home and the voices of his daughters; Shakespeare had his free associates of the stage; Goethe, his correspondents, a court, and all Germany to applaud. Not so Dante. The friends of his youth are already in the region of spirits, and meet him there—Casella, Forese; Guido Cavalcanti will soon be with them. In this upper world he thinks and writes as a friendless man—to whom all that he had held dearest was either lost or imbittered; he thinks and writes for himself.

So comprehensive in interest is the Commedia. Any attempt to explain it, by narrowing that interest to politics, philosophy, the moral life, or theology itself, must prove inadequate. The13ology strikes the keynote; but history, natural and metaphysical science, poetry, and art, each in their turn join in the harmony, independent, yet ministering to the whole. If from the poem itself we could be for a single moment in doubt of the reality and dominant place of religion in it, the plain-spoken prose of the Convito would show how he placed "the Divine Science, full of all peace, and allowing no strife of opinions and sophisms, for the excellent certainty of its subject, which is God," is single perfection above all other sciences, "which are, as Solomon speaks, but queens or concubines or maidens; but she is the 'Dove,' and the 'perfect one'—'Dove,' because without stain of strife; 'perfect,' because perfectly she makes us behold the truth, in which our soul stills itself and is at rest." But the same passage shows likewise how he viewed all human knowledge and human interests, as holding their due place in the hierarchy of wisdom, and among the steps of man's perfection. No account of the Commedia will prove sufficient which does not keep in view, first of all, the high moral purpose and deep spirit of faith with which it was written, and then the wide liberty of materials and means which the poet allowed himself in working out his design.

Doubtless his writings have a political aspect. The "great Ghibelline poet" is one of Dante's received synonymes; of his strong political opinions, and the importance he attached to them, there can be no doubt. And he meant his poem to be the vehicle of them, and the record to all ages of the folly and selfishness with which he saw men governed. That he should take the deepest interest in the goings-on of his time is part of his greatness; to suppose that he stopped at them, or that he subordinated to political objects or feelings all the other elements of his poem, is to shrink up that greatness into very narrow limits. Yet this has been done by men of mark and ability, by Italians, by men who read the Commedia in their own mother tongue. It has been maintained as a satisfactory account of it—maintained with great labor and pertinacious ingenuity—that Dante meant nothing more by his poem than the conflicts and ideal triumphs of a political party. The hundred cantos of that vision of the universe are but a manifesto of the Ghibelline propaganda, designed, under the veil of historic images and14 scenes, to insinuate what it was dangerous to announce; and Beatrice, in all her glory and sweetness, is but a specimen of the jargon and slang of Ghibelline freemasonry. When Italians write thus, they degrade the greatest name of their country to a depth of laborious imbecility, to which the trifling of schoolmen and academicians is as nothing. It is to solve the enigma of Dante's works by imagining for him a character in which it is hard to say which predominates, the pedant, mountebank, or infidel. After that we may read Voltaire's sneers with patience, and even enter with gravity on the examination of Father Hardouin's historic doubts. The fanaticism of an outraged liberalism, produced by centuries of injustice and despotism, is but a poor excuse for such perverse blindness.

Dante was not a Ghibelline, though he longed for the interposition of an imperial power. Historically he did not belong to the Ghibelline party. It is true that he forsook the Guelfs, with whom he had been brought up, and that the White Guelfs, with whom he was expelled from Florence, were at length merged and lost in the Ghibelline party; and he acted with them for a time. But no words can be stronger than those in which he disjoins himself from that "evil and foolish company," and claims his independence—

"A te fia bello Averti fatto parte per te stesso."43

Dante, by the Divina Commedia, was the restorer of seriousness in literature. He was so by the magnitude and pretensions of his work, and by the earnestness of its spirit. He first broke through the prescription which had confined great works to the Latin, and the faithless prejudices which, in the language of society, could see powers fitted for no higher task than that of expressing, in curiously diversified forms, its most ordinary feelings. But he did much more. Literature was going astray in its tone, while growing in importance; the Commedia checked it. The Provençal and Italian poetry was, with the exception of some pieces of political satire, almost exclusively amatory, in the most fantastic and affected fashion. In expression, it 15 had not even the merit of being natural; in purpose, it was trifling; in the spirit which it encouraged, it was something worse. Doubtless it brought a degree of refinement with it, but it was refinement purchased at a high price, by intellectual distortion and moral insensibility. But this was not all. The brilliant age of Frederick II, for such it was, was deeply mined by religious unbelief. However strange this charge first sounds against the thirteenth century, no one can look at all closely into its history, at least in Italy, without seeing that the idea of infidelity—not heresy, but infidelity—was quite a familiar one; and that, side by side with the theology of Aquinas and Bonaventura, there was working among those who influenced fashion and opinion, among the great men, and the men to whom learning was a profession, a spirit of scepticism and irreligion almost monstrous for its time, which found its countenance in Frederick's refined and enlightened court. The genius of the great doctors might have kept in safety the Latin schools, but not the free and home thoughts which found utterance in the language of the people, if the solemn beauty of the Italian Commedia had not seized on all minds. It would have been an evil thing for Italian, perhaps for European, literature if the siren tales of the Decameron had not been the first to occupy the ears with the charms of a new language.

Dante's all-surveying, all-embracing mind was worthy to open the grand procession of modern poets. He had chosen his subject in a region remote from popular thought—too awful for it, too abstruse. He had accepted frankly the dogmatic limits of the Church, and thrown himself with even enthusiastic faith into her reasonings, at once so bold and so undoubting—her spirit of certainty, and her deep contemplations on the unseen and infinite. And in literature, he had taken as guides and models, above all criticism and all appeal, the classical writers. But with his mind full of the deep and intricate questions of metaphysics and theology, and his poetical taste always owing allegiance to Vergil, Ovid, and Statius—keen and subtle as a schoolman—as much an idolater of old heathen art and grandeur as the men of the Renaissance—his eye is yet as open to the delicacies of character, to the variety of external nature, to the wonders of the physical world—his16 interest in them as diversified and fresh, his impressions as sharp and distinct, his rendering of them as free and true and forcible, as little weakened or confused by imitation or by conventional words, his language as elastic and as completely under his command, his choice of poetic materials as unrestricted and original, as if he had been born in days which claim as their own such freedom and such keen discriminative sense of what is real in feeling and image—as if he had never felt the attractions of a crabbed problem of scholastic logic, or bowed before the mellow grace of the Latins. It may be said, indeed, that the time was not yet come when the classics could be really understood and appreciated; and this is true, perhaps fortunate. But admiring them with a kind of devotion, and showing not seldom that he had caught their spirit, he never attempts to copy them. His poetry in form and material is all his own. He asserted the poet's claim to borrow from all science, and from every phase of nature, the associations and images which he wants; and he showed that those images and associations did not lose their poetry by being expressed with the most literal reality.



A.D. 1302


At the commencement of the fourteenth century, when the power of Philip IV of France (surnamed the "Fair") was at its height, contentions arose between him and Pope Boniface VIII over the taxation of the clergy, and the right of nomination to vacant bishoprics and benefices within the dominions of the French King.

Affairs reached a crisis when Philip laid claim to the county of Melgueil, which the Bishop of Maguelonne held in fief from the holy see. Boniface provoked Philip by a chiding bull, and added to the provocation by sending to the King, as negotiator in their differences, Bernard de Saisset, whom the Pope, in spite of the King, had created Bishop of Pamiers.

This tactless prelate made matters worse by an arrogant attitude, and afterward spoke of the King, who received him in sombre silence, as "that debaser of coinage, that proud and dumb image that knows nothing but to stare at people without saying anything."

Ignoring his ambassadorial privileges, Philip had him arrested and imprisoned as a French subject, on a charge of treason, heresy, and blasphemy, and sent his chancellor, Peter Flotte, and William de Nogaret, to the Pope, to demand the prelate's degradation and deprivation of his see.

The Pope, who meanwhile had launched his famous "Ausculta, fili," bull, received Philip's ambassadors, but their interview was marked by a violent scene: "My power!" exclaimed the Pope, "the spiritual power embraces and includes the temporal power!"

"So be it!" replied Flotte, "but your power is verbal; that of the King, real."

To deliberate on the remedies for the abuses of which he deemed the King guilty, the Pope summoned all the superior clergy of France to an assembly at Rome.

PHILIP and his council resolved to fight the enemy with its own weapons, to enlist public opinion on their side, and to shelter themselves behind a great national manifestation; the three estates of France were convoked at Notre Dame in Paris, 18the 10th of April, 1302, to take cognizance of the differences between the King and the Pope. For the first time since the establishment of the kingdom of France, the town deputies were called to sit in a body in a national assembly, alongside of prelates and barons; this great event was the official acknowledgment of the middle class as the "Third Estate," and attested that henceforth the villages, the towns, the communities formed a collective entity, a political order.

It is a singular thing that the first states-general was freely convoked by the most despotic of the kings of the Middle Ages, and that he had the idea to seek in them moral power and support.

The attempt would seem foolhardy in a prince so little popular as Philip the Fair; but Philip in reality risked nothing, and knew it; the feudality did not possess sufficient union, the people did not have enough force to profit on this occasion against the Crown. Besides, the Pope was more unpopular than the King, and had been so for a much longer time; the nobility, which, since the reign of St. Louis, had coalesced to resist clerical jurisdiction, had not changed in sentiment; as to the people, filled with the remembrance of St. Louis, they loved the King still, better than the Pope, notwithstanding the oppressions of Philip, and besides it was easy to foresee that the mayors, consuls, aldermen, jurats or magistrates, who were to represent their cities in the great assembly at Paris, dazzled with the unaccustomed rôle to which they were called, and desirous to please the King in their personal interest or in that of their towns, would be under the control of the adroit lawyers who were prepared to work on their minds and to direct the debates. The bull, nevertheless, if its exact tenor had been known, might well have produced in many respects a contrary effect to the wishes of the King. The reproaches of Boniface touching the debasement of the coinage and the royal exactions, reproaches which so irritated Philip, might have met with other sentiments from the townsmen. The chancellor, Peter Flotte, foresaw this; he distributed among the public, instead of the original bull, a species of résumé in which he had assembled, in a few lines, in the crudest terms, the most exorbitant pretensions of Boniface, at the same time suppressing everything which touched on the troubles of the nation against the King.19

"Boniface, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Philip, King of the French; fear God and observe his commandments. We want you to know that you are subject to us temporarily as well as spiritually; that the collation of the benefices and the prebends—revenues attached to the canonical positions—do not belong to you in any way; that if you have care of the vacant benefices, it is to reserve their revenue for their successors; that if you have misapplied any of these benefices, we declare that collation invalid and revoke it, declaring as heretics all those who think otherwise.

"Given in the Lateran in the month of December, etc."

At the same time they caused to be circulated a pretended answer to the pretended bull:

"Philip, by the Grace of God, King of the French, to Boniface, who gives out that he is sovereign pontiff, little or no salutations! May your very great Fatuity know that we are subject to no one as regards temporal power: that the collation of vacant churches and prebends belongs to us by Royal Right; that the incomes belong to us; that the collations made and to be made by us are valid in the past and in the future, and that we will manfully protect their possessors toward and against all. Those who think otherwise we take to be fools and insane."

This brutal letter was not destined to be sent to its address, but to abase the pontifical dignity, or at least the person of the Pope, in the eyes of the French public. The spirit of the people must have been greatly changed if this end could be thus attained by a means which formerly would have drawn universal indignation on the head of the sacrilegious monarch.

The attack of Philip, on the contrary, was completely effectual. The prelates arrived at the states-general timid, irresolute, neutralized by the difficulties of their position between the King and the Pope; the lords and the townsmen hastened thither irritated against the bull, heated by the violence of the royal answer. The members of the assembly were influenced each by the other according to their arrival; the pungent and wily eloquence of Peter Flotte did the rest. The chancellor, as the first of the great crown officers and the king's chief justice, opened the states by a long harangue in which, speaking in the name of Philip, he exposed with much force and ingenuity20 the enterprises of the court of Rome and its wrongs toward the kingdom and the Church.

"The Pope confers the bishoprics and the rectories on strangers and unknown individuals who never become residents. The prelates no longer have benefices to give to nobles whose ancestors founded the churches, and to other lettered persons; from which results also that gifts are no longer given to the churches. The Pope imposes on the churches and benefices pensions, subsidies, exactions of all kinds. The bishops are kept from their ministry, being obliged to go to the holy see to carry presents—always presents. All these abuses have done nothing but increase under the actual pontificate, and increase every day—conditions that can no longer be tolerated. That is why I command you as your master and pray you as your friend to give me counsel and help."

The Chancellor added that the King had resolved, on his own initiative, to remedy the encroachments that his officers had made on the rights of the Church, and would have done so sooner had he not feared the appearance of submitting to the menaces and orders of the Pope, who pretended to reduce to a condition of vassalage the most noble kingdom of France, which had never been raised but from God. Peter Flotte dwelt especially on this latter argument, and appealed in turn to the interests of the nobility and of the clergy, and to national pride. The fiery Count of Artois arose, and exclaimed that even if the King submitted to the encroachments of the Pope, the nobility would not suffer them, and that the gentry would never acknowledge any temporal superior other than the King. The nobility and the Third Estate confirmed these words by their acclamations, and swore to sacrifice their properties and lives to defend the temporal independence of the kingdom. A Norman advocate, named Dubosc, procurator of the commune of Coutances, accused the Pope, in writing, of heresy for having wanted to despoil the King of the independence of the crown which he held from God. The embarrassment of the clergy was extreme; the members of the Church, fearing to be crushed in the crash between King and Pope, asked time for deliberation; their declaration in the assembly then being held, was insisted upon; already cries arose around them that whoever did not subscribe21 to the oath would be held as an enemy of the State; they acquiesced, satisfied apparently by an appearance of violence which would serve them for an excuse at Rome. They acknowledged themselves obliged, in common with the other orders, to defend the rights of the King and of the kingdom, whether they held estates from the King or not; then they prayed the King to be allowed to go to the council convoked by the Pope; the King and the barons declared themselves formally opposed.

The three orders then separated, so as to write to the court at Rome each its own side of the affair; the letters of the nobility and of the Third Estate—which as may be imagined were all prepared in advance by the agents of the King, and were only subscribed to and sealed by the assistants—were addressed, not to the Pope, but to the college of cardinals. The despatch of the barons expresses rudely the tortuous and unreasonable enterprises of him who, at present, is at the seat and government of the Church, and declares that neither the nobility nor the universities nor the people require correction or imposition of any trouble, whether by the authority of the Pope or anyone else—unless it be from their sire, the King. This letter is signed, not only by the principal lords of the kingdom, but also by several great barons of the empire.

The epistle of the mayors, aldermen, jurats, consuls, universities, communes, and communities of the towns of the kingdom of France has not been preserved. It is known only, by the answer that the cardinals made, that it was conceived in the same spirit as the letter of the barons. The letter of the clergy is quite in another style: the clerks address their very holy father and very holy sire, the Pope; expose to him the complaints of the King and of the nobility; the necessity in which they find themselves engaged to defend the King's rights, and the anger of the laity; the imminent rupture of France with the Roman Church—and even of the people with the clergy in general—and conjure the highest prudence of the Pope to conserve the ancient union by revoking the convocation of the ecclesiastical council.

The states-general were dissolved immediately after the unique séance which had so well responded to the desires of the King. The means employed to attain this result were not entirely22tirely loyal, nor was public opinion altogether free; it was but slightly enlightened on the grave debates that the authorities affected to submit to it. Nevertheless it was an important matter, this call to the French nation, and it must be acknowledged that the genius of France responded in proclaiming national independence, and in repelling the intervention of the court of Rome in the internal politics of the country.



A.D. 1302


Toward the beginning of the thirteenth century the people of Flanders, whose country had been for centuries a feudal dependency of France, were considerably advanced in wealth and importance. They had become restive under the French rule, and their discontent ripened into settled hostility. Common commercial interests drew them into friendship with England, and in the quarrel between Philip the Fair and Edward I, 1295, concerning Edward's rule in Guienne (Aquitaine) the Flemings allied themselves with the English King.

In 1297 Philip invaded Flanders and gained several successes against the Flemings, who were feebly aided by King Edward. In 1299 the two kings settled their quarrel, and the Flemings were left to the vengeance of Philip, for in the pacification the court of Flanders was not included. A French army entered the Flemish territory, inflicted two defeats upon the Count's troops, and received the submission of the Count. Philip annexed Flanders to his crown and appointed a governor over the Flemings. In less than two years they rose in furious revolt. The insurrection began at Bruges, May 18, 1302, when over three thousand Frenchmen in that city were massacred by the insurgents. This massacre was called the "Bruges Matins." Such an outrage upon the French crown could not but bring upon the Flemings all the forces that Philip was able to muster. The two leading actions of the ensuing war—that at Courtrai, known as the "Battle of the Spurs," on account of the number of gilt spurs captured by the Flemings, and the engagement at Mons-la-Puelle—are described in the course of the narrative which follows. As a result of the battle of Courtrai the French nobility were nearly destroyed, and Philip found it necessary to recreate his titled bodies.

THE Flemings prepared to resist the storm. They chose Guy of Juliers, grandson of the Count of Flanders, to be their commander. Though a cleric, he did not hesitate to obey the call, in order to avenge his family, so cruelly betrayed by the French King. His brother, made prisoner at Furnes by the Count d'Artois, had perished in that rude Prince's keeping. His first attempt was to induce the people of Ghent to join the insurrection, but its rich burgesses preferred French rule to that of the Count of Flanders. Bruges, however, was supported24 by all the lesser and maritime towns of Flanders. Guy of Namur, a son of the Count, who had escaped to Germany, also returned with a body of soldiers from that country, and reassured the Flemings. These surprised one of the ducal manors, in which were five hundred French, and then took Courtrai, occupying the town, but not the castle. It was immediately besieged, as well as that of Cassel, the people of Ypres rallying to the French cause. The French garrison of the town of Courtrai sent pressing messengers for aid, and Robert of Artois marched with seven thousand knights and forty thousand foot, of which one-fourth were archers. The Flemish were but twenty thousand, of which none but the chiefs had horses. Neither was their armor nor their weapons of a perfect kind, the latter being a lance like a boar-spear, or a knotted stick pointed with iron, and called in Flemish a "good day." The princes of Juliers and Namur posted their combatants on the road which leads from Courtrai to Ghent, behind a canal that communicated with the river Lys. A priest came with the host, but, there being no time to receive the communion, each man took some earth in his mouth. The counts then knighted Pierre Konig and the chiefs of bands, and took their station on foot with the rest.

The French had nine battalions or divisions, their archers or light troops being Lombards or Navarrese and Provençals. These the constable placed foremost, to commence the fight and harass the Flemings by their missiles. But the Count d'Artois overruled this manœuvre, and called it a Lombard trick, reproaching the Constable de Nesle with appreciating the Flemings too highly because of his connection with them. (He had married a daughter of the Count of Flanders.) "If you advance as far as I shall," replied the Count, "you will go far enough, I warrant." So saying he put spurs to his horse and led on his knights; on which the Count d'Artois and the French squadrons charged also. This formidable cavalry could not reach the Flemings, but fell one over the other into the canal, which they had not perceived, and which was five fathoms wide and three deep. The Flemish counts, seeing the disorder, instantly passed the canal on either side to take advantage of it, and fell on the discomfited French. The battle was but a massacre. Numbers of the French nobles perished—the Count d'Artois,25 Godfrey of Brabant and his son, the counts of Eu and of Albemarle, the Constable and his brother, De Tanquerville, Pierre Flotte, the Chancellor, and Jacques de St. Pol—in all some six thousand knights. Louis of Clermont and one or two others escaped, to the damage of their reputation. This battle of Courtrai was fought on July 11, 1302.

Had the war not been one exclusively of defence on the part of the Flemings, or had they had ambitious and adventurous chiefs, such a disaster might have endangered the throne of France. It was the Flemish democracy which had conquered, and its chiefs contented themselves with reducing the remaining cities, and expelling the gentry and rich citizens as of French inclinations. This reaction extended from Flanders into Brabant and Hainault. Philip in the mean time exerted all his activities and resources. Had he been an English king he would have called his parliament together, and have found national support and national supplies. The French King preferred having recourse to a recoinage. In 1294 he had forbidden any persons to keep plate unless they possessed an annual revenue of six thousand livres. He now ordered his bailies to deliver up their plate, and all non-functionaries to send half of theirs. Those who did so received payment in the new coin, and lost one-half thereby. A tax of one-fifth, or 20 per cent., of the annual revenue was levied on the land, and a twentieth was levied on the movable property. In the following year the King found it more advantageous to order that all prelates and barons should, for every five hundred livres of yearly revenue in land, furnish an armed and mounted gentleman for five months' service, while the non-noble was to furnish and keep up six infantry soldiers (sergens de pied) for every hundred hearths. This decree was a return to feudal military service, occasioned, no doubt, by the general disaffection caused by the raising of the war supplies in money. As if to recompense all classes for the severity of the exaction, Philip published an ordonnance of reform for the protection of both laymen and ecclesiastics from the arbitrary encroachments or interference of his officers.

Having thus set his realm in order, and collected an army of seventy thousand men at Arras, the King marched to meet the26 Flemings, who in equal force had mustered in the vicinity of Dovai. They kept, as at Courtrai, on the defensive; and the King of France, too cautious to attack them, allowed the whole autumn to pass, and returned to France after a campaign as inefficient as inglorious.

Philip had been long involved in a controversy with Pope Boniface VIII, and the quarrel still continued. It was not till some time after the battle of Courtrai that the King at last, delivered from the menacing hostility of Rome, had leisure to turn his mind and efforts again toward Flanders. During the year 1303 he had sought to keep the Flemings at bay by bodies of Lombard and Tuscan infantry, whom his Florentine banker persuaded him to hire, and by Amadeus V, Duke of Savoy, who brought soldiers of that country to his aid. Although the long lances and more perfect armor of these troops gave them some advantage over the Flemings, the latter took and burned Therouanne, overran Artois, and laid siege to Tournai. Amadeus of Savoy, unable to overcome the Flemings by arms, recommended Philip to do so by treaty, and the King accordingly concluded a pacification, one condition of which was that the Count of Flanders should be released from prison to negotiate terms of fresh accommodation. The Flemings received the aged Count with respect; but he brought no terms which they were willing to accept; and he returned, as he had pledged his word, to captivity at Compiègne, where he soon after died.

For the campaign of the following year Philip, in lieu of Italian infantry, took sixteen Genoese galleys into his pay, commanded by Rainier de Grimaldi. This admiral passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and assailed the maritime towns and shipping of Flanders. Guy of Namur mustered to oppose them a fleet of greater numbers; but the Genoese, accustomed to naval warfare, defeated the Flemings and took Guy of Namur prisoner. Philip, at the same time, assembled a large army at Tournai, and marched to Mons-la-Puelle, near Lille, where the Flemings, to the number of seventy thousand, were encamped within a circumvallation of cars and chariots. There was no Robert of Artois on this occasion to precipitate a rash onslaught, and by Philip's order the southern light troops harassed the Flemings all day with arrows and missiles, allowing them no27 repose. Toward the evening many of the French withdrew to refresh themselves and take off their armor; the King himself was of this number; the Flemings, perceiving this slackness, and divining the cause, poured forth from their encampment in three divisions, which at first drove all before them, and reached as far as the King's tent, then in full preparation for supper. The monarch himself, without armor or helmet, was fortunately not recognized; his secretary, De Boville, and two Parisians of the name of Gentien, whom Philip had always about his person, were slain before his eyes. The King withdrew, but it was to arm, mount on horseback, and cry out to his followers to stand their ground. He himself, says Villani, "one of the strongest and best made men of his time," fought valiantly until his brother Charles and most of the barons, recovering from the first panic, came to his rescue, and the Flemings were finally repulsed and put to the rout. William of Juliers fell on the side of the Flemings; the son of the Duke of Burgundy and many others on that of the French. Philip immediately laid siege to Lille, deeming the Flemings totally discomfited. They had, however, rallied, obtained reënforcements at Bruges and at Ghent, and in three weeks appeared to the number of fifty thousand before the King's camp at Lille, crying for battle. Philip called a council, and observed that "even a victory would be dearly purchased over a party so desperate."

The Duke of Brabant and the Count of Savoy therefore undertook to negotiate with the Flemings, and Philip consented to grant them fair terms. He recognized their independent rights, agreed to liberate Robert, eldest son of Guido, Count of Flanders, as well as all those in captivity. He granted Robert and his son the fiefs which belonged to him in France, especially that of Nevers, and promised to give him investiture of the County of Flanders. The Flemings, on their side, consented to pay two hundred thousand livres, and to leave the King of France in possession of the three towns of Lille, Douai, and Béthune, that part of Flanders in which French was spoken. It was thus, at least, that the French interpreted the treaty, while the Flemings afterward alleged that French Flanders was merely a pledge for the payment of the money, not an alienation to the crown of France.



A.D. 1308


Owing to the fact that the house of Hapsburg had its origin in Switzerland, the accession of Rudolph I, founder of the Hapsburg dynasty, to the throne of Germany (1273), with the virtual headship of the Holy Roman Empire, was an event of great importance in the history of the Swiss cantons. To this day the paternal domains whence the Hapsburg family takes its name are a part of Swiss territory. The local administration, as well as such imperial offices as still remained in the free communities of Switzerland, were largely in the hands of this family long before it gave sovereigns to the empire itself. Its chiefs were the chosen champions or advocates of the district.

Of the Swiss communities Uri seems to have first established its freedom within the empire, and in that canton liberty was most completely preserved from the perils that always threatened Switzerland in this period. Under Rudolph it was at first the policy of the empire to secure the attachment of the Swiss by making the two other cantons, Schwyz and Unterwalden, similarly independent. But toward the end of his reign the policy of Rudolph was so influenced by ambition for territorial expansion that the Swiss began to feel an encroachment upon their independence. In 1291, the year of Rudolph's death, the three cantons, fearing danger to their interests in the new settlement of the crown, formed a league for mutual protection and coöperation. The very parchment on which the terms of this union were written "has been preserved as a testimony to the early independence of the Forest Cantons, the Magna Charta of Switzerland." The formation of this confederacy may be regarded as the first combined preparation of the Swiss for that great struggle in defence of their liberties, in the history of which fact and legend, as shown in Baker's discriminating narrative, are romantically blended.

The empire passed out of the Hapsburg control when Rudolph died, but the family again got possession of it in 1298, when Rudolph's son Albert was elected German king. In the following account the relations of Switzerland and Austria, under the renewed Hapsburg sovereignty, are circumstantially set forth.

THERE can be little doubt that most of the many stories related by the Swiss of the cruelty and extortion of the Austrian bailies are wholly or in great part devoid of a historical basis of truth, as are the dates given for their occurrence.29 They doubtless sprang from the very natural feelings of hatred the mountaineers of the Forest State felt against a foreign master, who was probably only too ready to punish them for the part they took against him in the struggle for the imperial throne. Indeed, it was not till about two centuries after this period that any reference to the alleged cruelties of the Austrians can be found in the local records, though legends about them have been plentiful.

Many and various are the stories that have come down to our times of the oppression and licentiousness of the bailies, most of which have probably gained much color by constant repetition, even if they were not wholly created by imagination and hatred of the Austrian rule. According to these accounts, the local despots imposed exorbitant fines for trivial offences, and frequently sent prisoners to Zug and Lucerne to be tried by Austrian judges. They levied enormously increased taxes and imports on every commodity, and exacted payment in the most merciless manner; they openly violated the liberties of the people, and chose every occasion to insult and degrade them. An oft-quoted instance of their cruelty is recorded of a bailie named Landenburg, who publicly reproved a peasant for living in a house above his station. On another occasion, having fined an old and much respected laborer, named Henry of Melchi, a yoke of oxen for an imaginary offence, the Governor's messenger jeeringly told the old man, who was lamenting that if he lost his cattle he could no longer earn his bread, that if he wanted to use a plough he had better draw it himself, being only a vile peasant. To this insult Henry's son Arnold responded by attacking the messenger and breaking his fingers, and then, fearing lest his act should bring down some serious punishment, fled to the mountains, and left his aged father to Landenburg's vengeance. The bailie confiscated his little property, imposed a heavy fine, and finally burned out both his eyes.

The hot irons used in this barbarous punishment, the Swiss are fond of saying, went deeper than the tyrant intended, and penetrated to the hearts and aroused the sympathies of their ancestors to perform such acts of heroism that tyranny fled in fear from the land. The conduct of Arnold, however, can30 hardly at this period of his life warrant the eulogies bestowed upon his memory, though he subsequently figures as one of the "Men of Ruetli."

Landenburg lived in a castle near Sarnen, in Unterwalden, where his imperious temper, his exactions, his cruelties, and his debaucheries aroused a universal feeling of hatred among the peasants, that culminated in his expulsion and the destruction of his stronghold. The latter is popularly believed to have occurred on January 1, 1308. As the bailie left his castle to attend mass, some forty determined peasants, who had already bound themselves by oath to free their country at a solemn meeting on the steep promontory over the Lake of Lucerne known as the Ruetli, appeared before him carrying sheep, fowls, and other customary presents, and thus gained admission to the castle. No sooner were they past the gates than, drawing the weapons they had till then concealed beneath their clothes, they disarmed the guard and took possession of the fortress. Other conspirators were admitted, and the people at once rose in revolt. Landenburg, hearing while still at church of what had occurred, managed to effect his escape, and fled to Lucerne. Of the other bailies, Gessler and Wolfenschiess are believed to have excited even more hatred than their colleague Landenburg, and to have exceeded him in acts of savage cruelty and vicious living.

One example out of many similar ones will show the spirit in which the Swiss traditions have treated the memory of Wolfenschiess. On a certain day, finding that a peasant named Conrad, of Baumgarten, whose wife he had frequently tried in vain to seduce, was absent from home, Wolfenschiess entered Conrad's house and ordered his wife to prepare him a bath, at the same time renewing with ardor his former proposals. With the cunning of her sex, the wife feigned to be willing to accede to his wishes, and on the pretence of retiring to another room to undress sped to her husband, who quickly returned and slew Wolfenschiess while he was still in the bath. After this exploit an entrance was effected into the bailies' castle of Rotzberg by one of the conspirators, who was in the habit of paying nightly visits to a servant living in the castle, by means of a rope attached to her window, and who then admitted his companions, who were lying concealed in the moat.31

But, probably in consequence of his supposed connection with the legend of William Tell, the bailie to whom the name of Gessler has been given stands out more prominently in Swiss history than any other. Gessler's residence, according to tradition, was a strongly fortified castle built in the valley of Uri, near Altorf, and this he named Zwing Uri ("Uri's Restraint"). He used every means that cruelty or avarice could suggest in his conduct as governor, and incurred additional hatred from the methods he adopted to discover the members of a secret conspiracy he believed existed against him in the district. With this object in view, Gessler caused a pole, surmounted with the ducal cap of Austria, to be set up in the market-place at Altorf, before which emblem of authority he ordered every man to uncover and do reverence as he passed. The refusal of a peasant to obey this command, his arrest, trial, and condemnation to pierce with an arrow an apple placed on his own child's head, his dexterity in performing this feat, his escape from his enemies, his murder of the tyrant Gessler, the solemn compact sworn at Ruetli, and the revolutionary events that followed form the motive of the much-celebrated legend of William Tell.

The mythical hero of this shadowy romance has long embodied in his person the virtues of the typical avenger of the wrongs of the poor and the oppressed against the tyranny of the rich and the powerful; his name has been honored and his manly deeds have been lauded in prose and verse by thousands in many lands for many centuries, exciting doubtless many a noble deed of self-denial, and spurring to the forefront many a popular act of patriotic daring. In Switzerland certainly this picturesque representative of liberty has done much to mould the political life, if not also to write many pages of the history of the people, and that in spite of the questionable morality of the received narrative of his career, and its unquestionable untruth. The emergence of the Swiss from slavery to freedom, as in the case of all other nations, was undoubtedly a gradual process, and there is now every reason for believing that the narrative relating to William Tell and the other heroes who are said to have been the prime instruments in the expulsion of the Austrian bailies from the districts of the Waldstaette are purely apocryphal, with a possible substratum of actual fact.32

It is sad for an individual, and still more so for a nation, to lose the illusions of youth, if not of innocence, and to awake to the knowledge of an unbeautiful reality, bereft of all fictitious adornment. When, however, the naked truth can be discovered—and that is seldom the case—it must be faced; if the national or individual mind cannot receive it, the fault lies with the immaturity or morbid condition of the former, not with the material of the latter.

As the legend of William Tell is more devoid of actual historical foundation, and is more widely known and believed than are the many others related as the records of events happening at the period from which the Swiss date their independence, it may be as well to devote some little space to its consideration. All the local records that might possibly throw some light on the existence and career of Tell have now been thoroughly searched by many impartial and competent scholars, as well as by enthusiastic partisans, with the invariable result that, till a considerable lapse of years after the presumed date of their deaths, not one particle of evidence has been discovered tending to prove the identity of either William Tell or of the tyrant Gessler. On the other hand, many local authorities, as early as the beginning of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when the story was fully established, have gone out of their way to deny its truth and prove its entire falsity from their own researches. Materials, indeed, are many relating to the events that befell the Waldstaette during their conflicts with the bailies, whom they succeeded in expelling from their country; and it seems in the highest degree improbable that, had Tell and his friends lived and taken so prominent a part in effecting their country's freedom as is popularly assigned to them, they should have been entirely ignored by all contemporary writers, as well as by subsequent ones, for a hundred and fifty or two hundred years—yet such is the case.

William Tell is supposed to have performed his heroic deeds in or about the year 1291, and not till between 1467 and 1474 are his acts recorded, when in a collection of the traditions of the Canton of Unterwalden, transcribed by a notary at Sarnen, an account is given of the apple episode and the subsequent escape of the famous archer, and his murder of Gessler, though33 nothing is said of his having taken part in a league to free his country or of his being the founder of the confederation. A little prior to the compilation of the White Book of Sarnen, as this collection is called, an anonymous poet composed a Song of the Origin of the Confederation, in which, although no reference is made to Gessler, the other details are related concerning William Tell shooting at the apple, the revolt of the peasants, the expulsion of the bailies, and the formation of a patriotic league. It is, of course, quite possible that a Gessler was killed by the peasants, as the name was common enough at the time, but no member of that family—the records of which have now been most carefully traced—held any office under the Austrians at that period in any of the Waldstaette, nor is it at all probable that Austrian bailies governed the districts later than 1231. Neither is it possible for a bailie named Gessler to have occupied the castle at the date assigned, the ruins of which have so long been pointed out as being those of his former abode. So, also, the celebrated Tell's Chapel on the Vier Waldstaette See, at Kuesnach, was certainly not built to commemorate the exploits of Schiller's and Rossini's Swiss hero.

"The fact is that in Gessler we are confronted by a curious case of confusion in identity. At least three totally different men seem to have been blended into one in the course of an attempt to reconcile the different versions of the three cantons. Felix Hammerlin, of Zurich, in 1450, tells of a Hapsburg governor being on the little island of Schwanan, in the lake of Lowerz, who seduced a maid of Schwyz, and was killed by her brothers. Then there was another person, strictly historical, Knight Eppo, of Kuesnach, who, while acting as bailiff for the Duke of Austria, put down two revolts of the inhabitants in his district, one in 1284 and another in 1302. Finally, there was the tyrant bailiff mentioned in the ballad of Tell, who, by the way, a chronicler, writing in 1510, calls, not Gessler, but the Count of Seedorf. These three persons were combined, and the result was named Gessler."

Moreover, it is extremely doubtful whether the green plateau of the Ruetli below Seelisberg, and some six hundred and fifty feet above the lake, with its miraculous springs, ever witnessed the patriotic gathering of the thirty-three peasants who,34 tradition asserts, there formed the league against Austrian rule, or heard the solemn oath they and their leaders, Stauffacher, Fuerst, and Arnold, mutually swore.

In all probability the legend of Tell and the apple originated in Scandinavia, and was brought by the Alemanni into Switzerland; as into other lands. Saxo Grammaticus, in the Withina Saga, places the scene of a very similar story in that country, some three hundred years before the appearance of the Swiss version, and tells of a certain Danish king named Harold, the counterpart of Gessler, and one Toki, who played the same rôle enacted by Tell. Like legends are also related of Olaf, Eindridi, and an almost identical one to that of William Tell of Egil, who, being ordered by King Nidung to shoot an apple off the head of the son of the former, took two arrows from his quiver and prepared to obey. On the King asking why he had selected two arrows, Egil replied, "To shoot thee, tyrant, with the second, should the first fail."

Neither are similar narratives absent from the legends of other countries. Thus Reginald Scott says: "Puncher shot a penny on his son's head, and made ready another arrow to have slain the Duke of Rengrave, who commanded it." So also similar incidents occur in the tales of Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Claudeslie in the Percy Ballads, and in the legends of many places in Northern Europe. On this subject Sir Francis Adams mentions, in a note to his valuable book on the Swiss Confederation, that a well-known citizen of Berne, in answer to his inquiry as to whether Tell ever existed, replied: "Not in Switzerland. If you travel in the Hasli districts you will find a distinct race of men, who are of Scandinavian origin, and I believe that their ancestors brought the legend with them." To this it may be added that philologists have long since traced the rude dialect of Oberhasli to its Scandinavian sources, and the physical characteristics of the people mark them as of different racial origin from those around them.

At the period these events were in progress, or, rather, about the time that the Austrian bailies were expelled, toward the close of the thirteenth century, the Emperor's45 attention was too fully occupied conducting a war against the Bishop of Basel to


allow him to enforce his authority among the revolted Waldstaette. He did not, however, allow the peasants for long to enjoy the fruits of their energetic and successful action, as some six months later he headed a large army with which he intended to enforce obedience. The expedition thus begun led to Albert's tragic death, and reared another step leading to the final independence of the Swiss. On reaching Baden, in the Aargau, a halt was made in order to deliberate on the best mode of punishing the rebels. Here a general council of nobles decided, after careful deliberation, on the route to be taken, and the nature of the measures best calculated to enforce Albert's authority. On May 1, 1308, the Emperor, with a few followers, returned to Rheinfelden, in order to visit the Empress Elizabeth, preparatory to marching against the Waldstaette. Shortly before this time Albert had had a violent quarrel with his nephew John, son of Duke Rudolph of Swabia, touching the youth's paternal inheritance, which he persistently declined to allow John to take possession of, and whom he had, moreover, publicly insulted by offering him a coronet of twigs as the only recompense for his just claims.

In spite of this quarrel Albert allowed John and four of his fastest friends to occupy a place in his suite when he left Baden to visit his consort. Albert's disregard of his nephew's resentment was further shown when the party arrived on the bank of the Reuss, as he allowed him, with his friends, to accompany him in the boat in which he crossed the river. The passage was made in safety, but just as the Emperor was stepping on shore near the town of Windisch, John and three of his companions struck him down with their swords, and after inflicting a number of severe wounds left him for dead. The unhappy monarch expired a few minutes after in the arms of a passing peasant woman. All this bloody scene took place in full view of the Emperor's train on the opposite side of the river, though no one apparently was able to render him assistance, probably from the absence of boats and the suddenness of the tragedy. The murderers succeeded in making good their escape, though two of them were afterward captured and executed, as were also a number of innocent people believed to be participators in the conspiracy. John himself was more fortunate, for, disguised as36 a monk, he managed for many years to hide his identity, and, after wandering in Tuscany unsuspected, eventually died in a monastery at Pisa.

Albert's daughter Agnes, Queen of Hungary, "a woman unacquainted with the milder feelings of piety, but addicted to a certain sort of devotional habits and practices by no means inconsistent with implacable vindictiveness," fearfully avenged his murder. This woman appears to have been seized with a perfectly demoniacal mania for blood and revenge. Aided by those in authority, who feared lest a widespread conspiracy had been formed, she seized, on the slightest suspicion, hundreds of innocent victims and put them to death with all the ferocity of a famished beast. Members of nearly a hundred noble families, and at least a thousand persons of lower rank, of every age and of both sexes, fell beneath her savage vengeance. She is said to have further whetted her appetite for horrors by wading, at Fahrwangen, in the blood of sixty-three innocent knights, exclaiming the while, "This day we bathe in May-dew." But at last, after several months, even the implacable bloodthirstiness of the Hungarian Queen was satisfied, and the massacre ceased. Over the spot where Albert met his death Agnes built a monastery; she named it Koenigsfelden and enriched it with the spoils of her victims. Here she took up her abode for the remainder of her life, and for nearly fifty years practised the most rigid asceticism, and here, by the side of her parents, she was eventually buried. Koenigsfelden stood on the road from Basel to Baden and Zurich, and within sight of the castle of Hapsburg, the cradle of the house of Austria.

Strenuous efforts were made by Albert's widow to obtain the succession to the imperial throne for her son, Frederick, Duke of Austria, but the choice of the prince-electors, headed by the Archbishop of Mainz, fell on Count Henry of Luxemburg, a liberal-minded and generous noble, who was accordingly crowned, under the title of Henry VII. During the short reign of this monarch he proved himself a wise and generous friend to the Swiss, whose privileges he confirmed. He made no effort to reimpose local governors on the people of the Waldstaette, but, on the contrary, confirmed the charters of Schwyz and Uri, granted one to Unterwalden, and acknowledged jurisdiction.37 After Henry's death, in 1313, civil war once more divided the empire through the rival contentions of Ludwig (Louis) of Bavaria and Albert's son, Frederick of Austria. In this contest the powerful monastery of Einsiedeln sided with the Austrian candidate, and through its influence induced the Bishop of Constance to place the large portion of Switzerland supporting the Bavarian cause under a sentence of excommunication.

Between Einsiedeln and the Waldstaette there had long existed a feeling of bitter hostility, the canons resenting the independent spirit displayed by the peasants, and the latter remembering the many acts of arbitrary oppression they and their ancestors had suffered at the instance of the abbey. Indeed, actual hostilities were only prevented by the friendly, though interested, mediation of the citizens of Zurich, who were most anxious to preserve tranquillity in the territories of both, in order to allow their trade with Italy over the St. Gothard being carried on. They also favored peace, because since the Hapsburgs had refused permission to the peasants to enter Lucerne, these had been in the habit of bringing their cattle and dairy produce through Einsiedeln to the monks of Zurich. The action of the monks, however, in bringing about the serious sentence of excommunication so roused the spirit of the mountaineers that, headed by their Landammann, Werner Stauffacher, they attacked and captured the abbey, ransacked the whole building from cellar to altar, and carried off the monks captive to the town of Schwyz. This daring and sacrilegious act led Frederick—the hereditary avoyer of the abbey—to place the Waldstaette under the further punishment of the "ban of the empire." Both these sentences were alike fruitless in bringing the peasants to submission to the house of Austria. Shortly after, on Ludwig ascending the throne, the "ban" was removed by the new monarch, and, with the aid of the Archbishop of Mainz, the Metropolitan of Constance in 1315, the excommunication was also revoked.

The triumph of Ludwig's claims over those of Frederick began that long series of deadly conflicts between the Swiss and the house of Austria that led the two nations for so many years to regard each other as natural and implacable enemies. At this time Austria was governed by Duke Leopold, a man of38 arrogant, passionate temper, of unscrupulous ambition, and brutal cruelty, according to the Swiss chronicles, but who, from other accounts, does not appear specially to have deserved this character. His hatred of the Swiss was greatly increased by their action in opposing his brother, Frederick, in the late contest. No sooner, indeed, were the troubles of that contest over than he prepared to wreak his vengeance, and once for all crush the power and independence of the Forest States, and, as he declared, "trample the audacious rustics under his feet."

Rapidly collecting his forces, Leopold soon found himself at the head of fifteen thousand or twenty thousand well-armed men, including a large body of heavily equipped cavalry. These latter were then looked upon as the main strength of an army. Most of the ancient nobility of Hapsburg, Kyburg, and Lenzburg rallied to his banners, besides many of the lesser nobles and a contingent from Zurich, the citizens of which, deserting their natural allies, had formed a treaty with Austria. Against this formidable array the men of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden were only able to muster some fourteen hundred men, who, however, made up for their want of weapons and discipline by the geographical advantages of the country, by their patriotism, unity, and determined bravery.

Nothing now seemed to intervene between the Swiss and imminent destruction, when, viewing with a compassion, most rare in those days, the impending fate of the heroic mountaineers, the powerful Count of Toggenborg tried to negotiate a peace with the Duke. Leopold's terms, however, were so humiliating and evidently so insincere that nothing came of these proposals.

On November 3, 1315, Leopold's army reached Baden, where a council was held to determine upon the details of the campaign, a campaign having for its object, as the Duke openly declared, "the extirpation of the whole race of the people of Waldstaette." The difficulties of the enterprise now began to show themselves, as several of Leopold's followers, being well acquainted with the nature of the country and the characters of the inhabitants, pointed out that both would offer a determined resistance. Finally, relying upon their numbers and superior arms, it was settled to march on Schwyz, through the Sattel Pass by Morgarten39, making Zug the base of operations; and while a false attack should be threatened on the side of Arth, Unterwalden should be attacked from Lucerne, as well as by a large force under the Count of Strasburg by way of the Bruenig. Leopold himself was to lead the main army and enter Schwyz through the pass. Had these operations remained secret, or been carried out successfully, the course of Swiss history would probably have been very different from what it was; but fortunately for the cause of freedom, the Austrian plans became known in time, and failed signally when put to the test. According to ancient chronicles, as the Confederates were hurrying to repel the feint from Arth, a friendly Austrian baron, named Henry of Huenenberg, shot an arrow amid them bearing the message, "Guard Morgarten on the eve of St. Othmar." Be this as it may, the Swiss collected their little band on the Sattel, between which mountain and the eastern shore of the Lake of Egeri is situated the ever-memorable Pass of Morgarten. Here, on the night of November 14th, they collected a number of loose bowlders and tree-trunks, and then, having offered up prayers for the preservation of their country, they awaited with resolution the coming struggle.

With the first dawn of morning the Austrian army—the first that ever entered the country—made its appearance in the pass, headed by Duke Leopold and his formidable cavalry. Suddenly, when the whole narrow defile was blocked with horse and foot, thousands of heavy stones and trees were hurled among them from the neighboring heights, where the peasant band, forming the Swiss force, lay concealed. The suddenness and vigor of this unexpected attack quickly threw the first ranks of the invaders into confusion, and caused a panic to seize the horses, many of which in their fright turned and trampled down the men behind. Rapidly the panic increased as the showers of missiles came tearing down, and soon the whole army was in a state of wild terror and confusion—a condition greatly assisted by the slippery nature of the ground. Then, with wild shouts, and brandishing their iron-studded clubs and their formidable halberts and scythes, down the mountain-side rushed, with the fury of their native avalanche, the heroic Confederates; and falling on their foes literally slew them by thousands. Many hundreds40 of the Austrians perished in the lake, the men of Zurich alone making a stand, and falling each where he fought. Few succeeded in effecting their escape from what was little less than a general butchery.

On that memorable day all the flower of Austria's nobility lay dead within the country they had hoped so easily to conquer. The Duke, with a handful of followers, alone survived, and even these were forced to undergo many perils before they eventually arrived in safety at Winterthur. Neither were the other attacks, under the Count of Strasburg and the forces from Lucerne, more successful for the invaders. Both armies were repulsed with enormous loss by the men of Unterwalden, who gave no quarter, many of their opponents being their own countrymen from the estates of the abbey of Interlaken. After these signal victories the Swiss, according to ancient custom, offered up a solemn thanksgiving to almighty God for their success and the overthrow of their enemies; and then, having laden themselves with the spoils of the dead, they returned to their humble occupations, whence the defence of their country and their lives had called them away. Among the Swiss, Morgarten has always taken the first place in the long record of heroic victories that since 1315 has made the fame of Swiss arms second to none in Europe. This victory at once brought the Waldstaette out of their long obscurity, and placed them in the front rank as powerful and respected states in Switzerland.

Leopold, on his return to Austria, was so satisfied with the ability of the "audacious rustics" to defend themselves that he made no further attempt to enter their country.



A.D. 1314


After the submission of Scotland in 1303, at the end of Wallace's heroic struggle, Edward I undertook to complete the union of that kingdom with England. "But the great difficulty," says a historian, "in dealing with the Scots was that they never knew when they were conquered; and just when Edward hoped that his scheme for union was carried out, they rose in arms once more."

The Scottish leader now was Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale and Earl of Carrick. He had acted with Wallace, but afterward swore fealty to Edward. Still later he united with William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews, against the English King. Edward heard of their compact while Bruce was in London, and the Scot fled to Dumfries. There, 1306, in the Church of the Gray Friars, he had an interview with John Comyn, called the Red Comyn—Bruce's rival for the Scottish throne—which ended in a violent altercation and the killing of Comyn by Bruce with a dagger. Next to the Baliols, Bruce was now nearest heir to the throne, and March 27, 1306, he was crowned.

Edward now determined to take more vigorous measures than ever against the Scots. He denounced as traitors all who had participated in the murder of Comyn, and declared that all persons taken in arms would be put to death. He made great preparations for subduing Scotland, but while leading his army into that country, 1307, he died at Burgh-on-the-Sands, near Carlisle.

Meanwhile Bruce, who ranks with Wallace as a Scottish hero, had suffered some reverses at the hands of the English. Under the Earl of Pembroke, in 1306, they took Perth and drove Bruce into the wilds of Athol. In the same year, at Dairy, Bruce was defeated by Comyn's uncle, Macdougal, Lord of Lorn, and escaped to Ireland. But in 1307 Bruce returned to Scotland and carried on the war against Edward II. The English were driven out of the strong places one by one; war alternated with diplomacy through several years; and at last came a crisis which roused the English government to a supreme effort.

Stirling castle still held out, besieged by Edward Bruce, Robert's brother, 1313, but its surrender was promised by Mowbray, the governor, in the event of his not being relieved before June 24, 1314. The relieving of Stirling meant for the English a new invasion of Scotland. On both sides the strongest efforts were made—on the one side to relieve the castle, on the other to strengthen its besiegers. The opposing forces 42met in battle at Bannockburn, June 24, 1314, an action which has never been better described than in this characteristic recital by Professor Lang.

BANNOCKBURN, like the relief of Orleans, or Marathon, was one of the decisive battles of the world. History hinged upon it. If England had won, Scotland might have dwindled into the condition of Ireland—for Edward II was not likely to aim at a statesmanlike policy of union, in his father's manner. Could Scotland have accepted union at the first Edward's hands; could he have refrained from his mistreatment as we must think it of Baliol, the fortunes of the isle of Britain might have been happier. But had Scotland been trodden down at Bannockburn, the fortunes of the isle might well have been worse.

The singular and certain fact is that Bannockburn was fought on a point of chivalry, on a rule in a game. England must "touch bar," relieve Stirling, as in some child's pastime. To the securing of the castle, the central gate of Scotland, north and south, England put forth her full strength. Bruce had no choice but to concentrate all the power of a now, at last, united realm, and stand just where he did stand. His enemies knew his purpose: by May 27th writs informed England that the Scots were gathering on heights and morasses inaccessible to cavalry. If ever Edward showed energy, it was in preparing for the appointed Midsummer Day of 1314. The Rotuli Scotiæ contain several pages of his demands for men, horses, wines, hay, grain, provisions, and ships. Endless letters were sent to master mariners and magistrates of towns. The King appealed to his beloved Irish chiefs, O'Donnells, O'Flyns, O'Hanlens, MacMahons, M'Carthys, Kellys, O'Reillys, and O'Briens, and to Hiberniæ Magnates, Anglico genere ortos, Butlers, Blounts, De Lacys, Powers, and Russels. John of Argyll was made admiral of the western fleet, and was asked to conciliate the Islesmen, who, under Angus Og, were rallying to Bruce. The numbers of men engaged on either side in this war cannot be ascertained. Each kingdom had a year within which to muster and arm.

"Then all that worthy were to fight Of Scotland, set all hale their might;"

43while Barbour makes Edward assemble not only

"His own chivalry That was so great it was ferly,"

but also knights of France and Hainault, Bretagne and Gascony, Wales, Ireland, and Aquitaine. The whole English force is said to have exceeded one hundred thousand, forty thousand of whom were cavalry, including three thousand horses "barded from counter to tail," armed against stroke of sword or point of spear. The baggage train was endless, bearing tents, harness, "and apparel of chamber and hall," wine, wax, and all the luxuries of Edward's manner of campaigning, including animalia, perhaps lions. Thus the English advanced from Berwick,

"Banners rightly fairly flaming, And pencels to the wind waving."

On June 23d Bruce heard that the English host had streamed out of Edinburgh, where the dismantled castle was no safe hold, and were advancing on Falkirk. Bruce had summoned Scotland to tryst in Torwood, whence he could retreat at pleasure, if, after all, retreat he must. The Fiery Cross, red with blood of a sacrificed goat, must have flown through the whole of the Celticland. Lanarkshire, Douglasdale, and Ettrick Forest were mustered under the banner of Douglas, the mullets not yet enriched with the royal heart. The men of Moray followed their new earl, Randolph, the adventurous knight who scaled the rock of the castle of the Maidens. Renfrewshire, Bute, and Ayr were under the fesse chequy of young Walter Stewart. Bruce had gathered his own Carrick men, and Angus Og led the wild levies of the Isles. Of stout spearmen and fleet-footed clansmen Bruce had abundance; but what were his archers to the archers of England, or his five hundred horse under Keith the mareschal, to the rival knights of England, Hainault, Guienne, and Almayne?

Battles, however, are won by heads, as well as by hearts and hands. The victor of Glen Trool and Cruachen and London Hill knew every move in the game, while Randolph and Douglas were experts in making one man do the work of five. Bruce, too, had choice of ground, and the ground suited him well.44

To reach Stirling the English must advance by their left, along the so-called German way, through the village of St. Nian's, or by their right, through the Carse, partly enclosed, and much broken, in drainless days, by reedy lochans. Bruce did not make his final dispositions till he learned that the English meant to march by the former route. He then chose ground where his front was defended, first by the little burn of Bannock, which at one point winds through a cleugh with steep banks, and next by two morasses, Halbert's bog and Milton bog. What is now arable ground may have been a loch in old days, and these two marshes were then impassable by a column of attack.

Between Charter's Hall—where Edward had his head-quarters—and Park's Mill was a marge of firm soil, along which a column could pass, in scrubby country, and between the bogs was a sort of bridge of dry land. By these two avenues the English might assail the Scottish lines. These approaches Bruce is said to have rendered difficult by pitfalls, and even by caltrops to maim the horses. He determined to fight on foot, the wooded country being difficult for horsemen, and the foe being infinitely superior in cavalry. His army was arranged in four "battles," with Randolph to lead the vaward and watch against any attempt to throw cavalry into Stirling. Edward Bruce commanded the division on the right, next the Torwood. Walter Stewart, a lad, with Douglas led the third division. Bruce himself and Angus Og, with the men of Carrick and the Celts, were in the rear. Bruce had no mind to take the offensive, and as at the Battle of the Standard, to open the fight with a charge of impetuous mountaineers. On Sunday morning mass was said, and men shrived them.

"They thought to die in the mêlée, Or else to set their country free."

They ate but bread and water, for it was the vigil of St. John. News came that the English had moved out of Falkirk, and Douglas and the Steward brought tidings of the great and splendid host that was rolling north. Bruce bade them make little of it in the hearing of the army.

Meanwhile Philip de Mowbray, who commanded in Stirling,45 had ridden forth to meet and counsel Edward. His advice was to come no nearer; perhaps a technical relief was held to have already been secured by the presence of the army.

Mowbray was not heard—"the young men" would not listen. Gloucester, with the van, entered the park, where he was met, as we shall see, and Clifford, Beaumont, and Sir Thomas Grey, with three hundred horsemen, skirted the wood where Randolph was posted, a clear way lying before them to the castle of Stirling. Bruce had seen this movement, and told Randolph that "a rose of his chaplet was fallen," the phrase attesting the King's love of chivalrous romance. To pursue horsemen with infantry seemed vain enough; but Randolph moved out of cover, thinking perhaps that knights adventurous would refuse no chance to fight. If this was his thought, he reckoned well. Beaumont cried to his knights, "Give ground, leave them fair field." Grey hinted that the Scots were in too great force, and Beaumont answered, "If you fear, fly!" "Sir," said Sir Thomas, "for fear I fly not this day!" and so spurred in between Beaumont and D'Eyncourt and galloped on the spears. D'Eyncourt was slain, Grey was unhorsed and taken. The three hundred lances of Beaumont then circled Randolph's spearmen round about on every side, but the spears kept back the horses. Swords, maces, and knives were thrown; all was done as by the French cavalry against the British squares at Waterloo, and all as vainly. The hedge of steel was unbroken, and, in the hot sun of June, a mist of dust and heat brooded over the battle.

"Sic mirkness In the air above them was"

as when the sons of Thetis and the Dawn fought under the walls of windy Troy. Douglas beheld the distant cloud, and rode to Bruce, imploring leave to hurry to Randolph's aid. "I will not break my ranks for him," said Bruce; yet Douglas had his will. But the English wavered, seeing his line advance, and thereon Douglas halted his men, lest Randolph should lose renown. Beholding this the spearmen of Randolph, in their turn, charged and drove the weary English horse and their disheartened riders.

46Meanwhile Edward had halted his main force to consider whether they should fight or rest. But Gloucester's party, knowing nothing of his halt, had advanced into the wooded park; and Bruce rode down to the right in his armor, and with a gold coronal on his basnet, but mounted on a mere palfrey. To the front of the English van, under Gloucester and Hereford, rode Sir Henry Bohun, a bow-shot beyond his company. Recognizing the King, who was arraying his ranks, Bohun sped down upon him, apparently hoping to take him.

"He thought that he should dwell lightly, Win him, and have him at his will."

But Bruce, in this fatal movement, when history hung on his hand and eye, uprose in his stirrups and clove Bohun's helmet, the axe breaking in that stroke. It was a desperate but a winning blow: Bruce's spears advanced, and the English van withdrew in half superstitious fear of the omen. His lords blamed Bruce, but

"The King has answer made them none, But turned upon the axe-shaft, wha Was with the stroke broken in twa."

"Initium malorum hoc" ("This was the beginning of evil"), says the English chronicler.

After this double success in the Quatre Bras of the Scottish Waterloo, Bruce, according to Barbour, offered to his men their choice of withdrawal or of standing it out. The great general might well be of doubtful mind—was to-morrow to bring a second and a more fatal Falkirk? The army of Scotland was protected, as Wallace's army at Falkirk had been, by difficult ground. But the English archers might again rain their blinding showers of shafts into the broad mark offered by the clumps of spears, and again the English knights might break through the shaken ranks. Bruce had but a few squadrons of horse—could they be trusted to scatter the bowmen of the English forests, and to escape a flank charge from the far heavier cavalry of Edward? On the whole, was not the old strategy best, the strategy of retreat? So Bruce may have pondered. He had brought his men to the ring, and they voted for dancing. Meanwhile47 the English rested on a marshy plain "outre-Bannockburn" in sore discomfiture, says Gray. He must mean south of Bannockburn, taking the point of view of his father, at that hour captive in Bruce's camp. He tells us that the Scots meant to retire "into the Lennox, a right strong country"—this confirms, in a way, Barbour's tale of Bruce suggesting retreat—when Sir Alexander Seton, deserting Edward's camp, advised Bruce of the English lack of spirit, and bade him face the foe next day. To retire, indeed, was Bruce's, as it had been Wallace's, natural policy. The English would soon be distressed for want of supplies; on the other hand, they had clearly made no arrangements for an orderly retreat if they lost the day; with Bruce this was a motive for fighting them. The advice of Seton prevailed; the Scots would stand their ground.

The sun of Midsummer Day rose on the rite of the mass done in front of the Scottish lines. Men breakfasted, and Bruce knighted Douglas, the Steward, and other of his nobles. The host then moved out of the wood, and the standards rose above the spears of the soldiers. Edward Bruce held the right wing; Randolph the centre; the left, under Douglas and the Steward, rested of St. Ninian's. Bruce, as he had arranged, was in reserve with Carrick and the Isles. "Will these men fight?" asked Edward, and Sir Ingram assured him that such was their intent. He advised that the English should make a feigned retreat, when the Scots would certainly break their ranks—

"Then prick we on them hardily."

Edward rejected his old ruse, which probably would not have beguiled the Scottish leader. The Scots then knelt for a moment of prayer, as the Abbot of Inchafray bore the crucifix along the line; but they did not kneel to Edward. His van, under Gloucester, fell on Edward Bruce's division, where there was hand-to-hand fighting, broken lances, dying chargers, the rear ranks of Gloucester pressing vainly on the front ranks, unable to deploy for the straitness of the ground.

Meanwhile, Randolph's men moved forward slowly with extended spears, "as they were plunged in the sea" of charging knights. Douglas and the Steward were also engaged, and the48 "hideous shower" of arrows was ever raining from the bows of England. This must have been the crisis of the fight, according to Barbour, and Bruce bade Keith with his five hundred horse charge the English archers on the flank. The bowmen do not seem to have been defended by pikes; they fell beneath the lances of the mareschal, as the archers of Ettrick had fallen at Falkirk. The Scottish archers now took heart, and loosed into the crowded and reeling ranks of England, while the flying bowmen of the south clashed against and confused the English charge. Then Scottish archers took to their steel sparths—who ever loved to come to hand strokes—and hewed into the mass of the English, so that the field, whither Bruce brought up his reserves to support Edward Bruce on the right, was a mass of wild, confused fighting. In this mellay the great body of the English army could deal no stroke, swaying helplessly as southern knights or northern spears won some feet of ground. So, in the space between Halbert's bog and the burn, the mellay rang and wavered, the long spears of the Scottish ranks unbroken and pushing forward, the ground before them so covered with fallen men and horses that the English advance was clogged and crushed between the resistance in front and the pressure behind.

"God will have a stroke in every fight," says the romance of Malory. While the discipline was lost, and England was trusting to sheer weight and "who will pound longest," a fresh force, banners displayed, was seen rushing down the Gillies' Hill, beyond the Scottish right. The English could deem no less than that this multitude were tardy levies from beyond the Spey, above all when the slogans rang out from the fresh advancing host. It was a body of yeomen, shepherds, and camp-followers, who could no longer remain and gaze when fighting and plunder were in sight. With blankets fastened to cut saplings for banner-poles, they ran down to the conflict. The King saw them, and well knew that the moment had come: he pealed his ensenye—called his battle-cry—faint hearts of England failed; men turned, trampling through the hardy warriors who still stood and died; the knights who rode at Edward's rein strove to draw him toward the castle of Stirling. But now the foremost knights of Edward Bruce's division,49 charging on foot, had fought their way to the English King and laid hands on the rich trappings of his horse. Edward cleared his way with strokes of his mace; his horse was stabbed, but a fresh mount was found for him. Even Sir Giles de Argentine, the best knight on ground, bade Edward fly to Stirling castle. "For me, I am not of custom to fly," he said, "nor shall I do so now. God keep you!" Thereon he spurred into the press, crying "Argentine!" and died among the spears.

None held his ground for England. The burn was choked with fallen men and horses, so that folk might pass dry-shod over it. The country people fell on and slew. If Bruce had possessed more cavalry, not an Englishman would have reached the Tweed. Edward, as Argentine bade him, rode to Stirling, but Mowbray told him that there he would be but a captive king. He spurred south, with five hundred horse, Douglas following with sixty, so close that no Englishman might alight, but was slain or taken. Laurence de Abernethy, with eighty horse, was riding to join the English, but turned, and with Douglas, pursued them. Edward reached Dunbar, whence he took boat for Berwick. In his terror he vowed to build a college of Carmelites, students in theology. It is Oriel College to-day, with a Scot for provost. Among those who fell on the English side were the son of Comyn, Gloucester, Clifford, Harcourt, Courtenay, and seven hundred other gentlemen of coat-armor were slain. Hereford (later), with Angus, Umfraville, and Sir Thomas Grey, was among the prisoners. Stirling, of course, surrendered.

The sun of Midsummer Day set on men wounded and weary, but victorious and free. The task of Wallace was accomplished. To many of the combatants not the least agreeable result of Bannockburn was the unprecedented abundance of the booty. When campaigning Edward denied himself nothing. His wardrobe and arms; his enormous and apparently well-supplied array of food wagons; his ecclesiastical vestments for the celebration of victory; his plate; his siege artillery; his military chests, with all the jewelry of his young minion knights, fell into the hands of the Scots. Down to Queen Mary's reign we read, in inventories, about costly vestments "from the fight at Bannockburn." In Scotland it rained ransoms. The Rotuli Scotiæ,50 in 1314 full of Edward's preparation for war, in 1315 are rich in safe-conducts for men going into Scotland to redeem prisoners. One of these, the brave Sir Marmaduke Twenge, renowned at Stirling bridge, hid in the woods on Midsummer's Night, and surrendered to Bruce next day. The King gave him gifts and set him free unransomed. Indeed, the clemency of Bruce after his success is courteously acknowledged by the English chroniclers.

This victory was due to Edward's incompetence, as well as to the excellent dispositions and indomitable courage of Bruce, and to "the intolerable axes" of his men. No measures had been taken by Edward to secure a retreat. Only one rally, at "the Bloody Fauld," is reported. The English fought widely, their measures being laid on the strength of a confidence which, after the skirmishes of Sunday, June 23d, they no longer entertained. They suffered what, at Agincourt, Crécy, Poitiers, and Verneuil, their descendants were to inflict. Horses and banners, gay armor and chivalric trappings, were set at naught by the sperthes and spears of infantry acting on favorable ground. From the dust and reek of that burning day of June, Scotland emerged a people, firm in a glorious memory. Out of weakness she was made strong, being strangely led through paths of little promise since the day when Bruce's dagger-stroke at Dumfries closed from him the path of returning.




A.D. 1314


The quarrel between Philip the Fair of France and Pope Boniface VIII, concerning the taxation of the clergy, and the right of nomination to vacant bishoprics within the dominions of Philip, had far-reaching effects. It led, in 1302, to the convocation of the first properly so-called Parliament in France, to offset the actions of the Pope, who excommunicated the King; and also to an expedition into Italy of a small body of French troops which made the Pope prisoner at Agnani, but were subsequently expelled with great loss of life. The Pope was reinstated, but died shortly afterward from brain fever; he was succeeded by Benedict XI, whom the King of France sought to placate, but unsuccessfully. Within nine months Benedict died, presumably from poison, and Philip, by his intrigues, was enabled to secure the election to the pontificate of Bertrand de Goth, who became pope as Clement V, and was pledged to the service of the French King.

Philip, who had obstructed the operations of commerce by debasing the coin of the realm to meet the exigencies of the state, was always in want of money. His cupidity was excited by the wealth of the order of Knights Templars, and, emboldened by his successes over the spiritual power, he now entered upon the career of intrigue which resulted in the destruction and plunder of the order.

The famous Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, founded in 1118 by a small band of nine French knights, sworn to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Sepulchre, had become, in almost every kingdom of the West, a powerful, wealthy, semimilitary, semimonastic republic, governed by its own laws, animated by the closest corporate spirit, under the severest internal discipline, an all-pervading organization, independent alike of the civil power and of the spiritual hierarchy.

During two centuries as crusaders, the knights fought valiantly and shed their blood in defence of the Sepulchre of our Lord, earning the devout admiration of Western Christendom, and receiving splendid endowments of lands, castles, and riches of all kinds as contributions to the cause of the holy wars.

52 But despite their valor, Mahometan persistency prevailed, and the total expulsion of the Templars, with the rest of the Christian establishments from Palestine, followed the downfall of Acre in 1291.


THE loss of Palestine led indirectly to the ruin of the order of the Templars. The record is one of the dark episodes of history, encompassed with contradictions, full of surprises, painful to contemplate, whatever view may be taken, whichever side espoused.

It is difficult to understand how an order of men who for nearly two hundred years earned the thanks and praise of Christendom for their bravery and devotion; who had shed blood like water to defend the places dearest to all Christian hearts; who had been recruited from the noblest families in every country in Europe, and had had princes of royal blood in their ranks; who claimed to act upon the purest and most exalted Christian principles; and who proved the sincerity of their professions by their lives of self-sacrifice, and their deaths, for the cause they had taken up; who had been honored and favored and dowered with gifts and privileges, in gratitude for their exploits—should suddenly have fallen into the blackest crimes. So it is no less difficult to understand how public opinion should turn against them as it did, and how all Europe should set itself to disgrace and despoil, to malign and execrate, those who had so long been its favorites and its champions. It is not easy to understand this, and it is painful to read the story in its sad and miserable details.

But there are other pages of history that more or less correspond with this; and there are well-known characteristics of human nature that explain how such revulsions of feeling come about. It has never been found difficult to get up a case against those whom the great and powerful have made up their minds to destroy. The best men are fallible and have their weak side. Large bodies of men must contain some unworthy members. A long history can hardly be without blots, mistakes, and crimes. No man's life, if narrowly scrutinized by an unfavorable and prejudiced criticism, but will afford ground for accusation. Then, too, facts may be perverted, circumstances may be made53 to bear a meaning that does not really belong to them, and fear and torture may force the weak to say anything that they are required. And, finally, the evidence and the judgment of those who have everything to gain by the condemnation of those whom they accuse, must always be viewed with suspicion by sober and truth-loving minds. Moreover, in judging the Templars, we must not forget the lapse of time and the change of circumstances that separate our age from theirs.

After the loss of Acre a chapter of the surviving Templars was gathered, and James de Molay, preceptor of England, was elected grand master. One more attempt was made to recover a footing in the Holy Land, but it was defeated with great loss to the order, and all hope of restoring the Latin kingdom in Palestine seems to have been abandoned. The occupation of the Templars was gone. They had been banded together to fight upon the sacred soil of Palestine, and to defend pilgrims, but now they had been driven out of the country, and they could no longer execute their mission or fulfil their vows. We soon hear of them being engaged in civil or international wars, which seems to be a violation of their oath not to draw sword upon any Christian. Thus we read of Templars fighting on the side of the King of England, in the battle of Falkirk, 1298, and similar occurrences are recorded in the French wars of the time. Those against whom the Templars fought would not be slow to complain of them.

But the real cause of the downfall of the Templars was probably the enormous wealth of the order. There had not been wanting indications for some years of covetous eyes and itching hands turned toward the possession of the Knights. Sometimes complaints were made because the rents of their estates were all sent out of the country; sometimes the grievance alleged was that they were exempted from paying taxes and other levies, civil and ecclesiastical. Sometimes open acts of spoliation were committed upon their property, and that even by royal hands.

But it was in France that the final attack was made. Philip the Fair was king at this time, a man of bad character and unscrupulous as to the means by which he attained his ends. The country was exhausted and the treasury empty, and the idea54 seems to have occurred to him, as it did later to Henry VIII of England under similar circumstances, that an easy way to fill his own purse was to put his hand into the purses of others. But even kings cannot appropriate the property of a religious order without offering some apology or justification to the world. And so it began to be whispered that the Holy Land would never have been lost to Christendom if its sworn defenders had not failed in their Christian character. The whole blame of the defeat of the crusades was laid upon the Templars. It was said they had treacherously betrayed the Christian cause, that they had treated with the enemy, and by their personal sins, especially by secret, unhallowed rites, had provoked the just wrath of God, and so brought about the ruin of the dominion of the Cross in the East.

When Ahab has determined to put Naboth to death, that he may seize his coveted vineyard, it is not difficult to find witness that he is a blasphemer of God and a traitor to the King; and so Philip found his first tool in a man guilty of a multitude of crimes, who secured his own pardon by a denunciation of the Templars.

But even a king could not ruin a great religious order without the aid of the ecclesiastical authorities. The Templars had always been favored and protected by the popes, and nothing was in itself so likely to evoke that protection again as an attack upon the order by the secular powers. But Philip was prepared for this. The Pope of the day, Clement V, had been a subject of his own. As bishop of Bordeaux, he owed his election to the pontificate to Philip's own intrigues, and had been easily induced to quit Rome and live in France, so as to be more completely under the dictation of the King. Moreover, the majority of the cardinals were also French and entirely devoted to the King's interests.

Clement V was one of the worst of those miserable men who have from time to time disgraced the papal chair, and was guilty of almost every crime. There are, indeed, authorities worthy of credit who assert that before his election he had been made to promise to perform six favors to the King, and that the last was not to be divulged till the time for its execution came. This last was then found to be the suppression of the55 order of the Templars. There was no difficulty, under these circumstances, in getting the so-called sanction of the Church for an inquiry into the crimes of which the Templars were accused.

Accordingly, in 1307, Philip issued letters to his officers throughout the kingdom, commanding them to seize all the Templars on a certain day, that they might be tried for crimes of which he and the Pope had satisfied themselves they were guilty. They had apostatized from the Christian religion, worshipped idols in their secret meetings, and had been guilty of horrible and shameful offences against God, the Church, the State, and humanity itself. Philip professed the most pious horror at what he had discovered; he lamented the grievous necessity laid upon him, and urged upon the guilty men the expediency of a full and immediate confession of their wicked doings as the only way to secure pardon and escape the just and extreme penalty of such outrageous wickedness.

It was during the night of October 13, 1307, that the King's orders were executed. Every house of the Templars in the dominions of the King of France was suddenly surrounded by a strong force, and all the Knights and members of the order were simultaneously taken prisoners.

At the same time a strenuous endeavor was made to arouse popular indignation against the order. The regular and secular clergy were commanded to preach against the Templars, and to describe the horrible enormities that were practised among them. It is incredible to us in these days that such charges should be made, and still more that they should actually be believed. It was said that the Templars worshipped some hideous idol in their secret assemblies, that they offered sacrifices to it of infants and young girls, and that although every one saw them devout, charitable, and regular in their religious duties, people were not to be misled by these things, for this was only a cloak intended to deceive the world and conceal their secret rites and obscene orgies.

It was hoped that some confession of guilt might be readily obtained from some of the weaker brethren in order to receive the pardon which was promised by the King. But no such confession was made. All the prisoners denied the charges brought56 against them. Then the usual mediæval expedient was resorted to, and torture was used to extort acknowledgments of guilt. The unhappy Templars in Paris were handed over to the tender mercies of the tormentors with the usual results. One hundred and forty were subjected to trial by fire.

The details preserved are almost too horrible to be related. The feet of some were fastened close to a hot fire till the very flesh and even the bones were consumed. Others were suspended by their limbs, and heavy weights attached to them to make the agony more intense. Others were deprived of their teeth; and every cruelty that a horrible ingenuity could invent was used.

While this was going on, questions were asked, and offers of pardon were made if they would acknowledge themselves or others guilty of the monstrous wickednesses which were detailed to them. At the same time forged letters were read, purporting to come from the grand master himself, exhorting them to make a full confession, and declarations were made of the confessions which were said to have been already freely given by other members of the order.

What wonder, then, that the usual consequences followed. Those who had strong will and indomitable courage stood firm and endured the slow martyrdom till death released them, maintaining to the last their own innocence, and the innocence of their order, of the crimes with which they were charged. But some weaker men broke down. In hope of release from the agony which they could not endure, they confessed anything and everything that was required of them, and these things were at once written down as grave facts and made matter of accusation of others. Often these unhappy men almost immediately recanted, and as soon as the torture ceased withdrew their confessions, and repeated their original denial of the accusations one and all.

We have long ago ceased to set any value upon confessions extorted by torture, and the system has happily been abolished by all civilized nations, but in those days this was not understood; torture was relied upon as a means of extracting truth from unwilling witnesses when all other means failed; indeed, it was simpler and more expeditious than the calling of many witnesses,57 the testing of evidence by cross-examination, and other surer but slower methods; and especially when conviction, not truth, was the end in view, torture was a welcome and efficacious ally.

All this was but too sadly exemplified in the proceedings against the Templars in France. No sooner were those who had made confessions of guilt while under torture released from their tormentors than they disavowed their forced admissions and proclaimed their innocence and the purity of their order, appealing to history and the testimony of their own day for evidence of their courage and devotion to the Catholic faith.

Upon hearing of this Philip immediately ordered the rearrest of the Templars, and, proceeding against them as relapsed heretics, they were condemned to be burned alive. In Paris alone one hundred and thirteen suffered this terrible punishment, and many more were burned in other towns. In Spain, Portugal, and Germany, proceedings were taken against the order; their property was confiscated, and in some cases torture was used; but it is remarkable that it was only in France, and in those places where Philip's influence was powerful, that any Templar was actually put to death.

Everywhere else the monstrous charges were declared to be unproved, and the order was declared innocent of heresy and sacrilegious rites.

In October, 1311, a council was held at Vienna to dissolve the Order of the Temple, but the majority of the bishops were decidedly opposed to such a proceeding against so ancient and illustrious an order, till its members had been heard in their own defence in a fair and open trial. The Pope was furious at this and dismissed the council, and in the following year, 1312, by a papal brief, abolished the order and forbade its reconstitution. The property of the order in France was nominally made over to the Hospitallers, but Philip laid claim to an immense sum for the expenses of the prosecution, and by this and other means he obtained what he had all along desired—the greatest part of the possessions of the order. Similar proceedings took place in other countries. In some, new orders were founded in the place of the Templars, with the sovereign at their head, by which means the estates came into the possession58 of the Crown as completely as if they had been actually confiscated.

In France the Templars who survived their torture and the horrors of their prisons were either executed or left to linger out a miserable existence in their dungeons till death released them. The grand master and a few other brethren of the highest rank were thus kept in prison for five years. They were then taken to Notre Dame in Paris, and required to give verbal assent to the confessions which had been extorted from them under torture. But the grand master, James de Molay, the grand preceptor, and some others seized the opportunity of declaring their innocence, and disowning the alleged confessions as forgeries. The old veterans stood up in the church before the assembled multitude, and, raising their chained hands to heaven, declared that whatever had been confessed to the detriment of the illustrious order was only forced from them by extreme agony and fear of death, and that they solemnly and finally repudiated and revoked all such admissions.

On hearing of this, Philip ordered their immediate execution, and the same evening the last grand master of the Temple and his faithful comrades were burned to death at a slow fire.

Impartial men had formed their own judgment, and a very strong feeling prevailed that justice had not been done. It was remarked that those who had been foremost in the proceedings against the Templars came to a speedy and miserable end. The Pope, the kings of France and of England, and others, all soon followed their victims and died violent or shameful deaths.

We have somewhat anticipated the order of events, and must return to the earlier stage of the proceedings against the Templars. As soon as Philip had determined upon his own course of action, he desired to find countenance for it by stirring up other sovereigns to imitate it. He therefore wrote letters to the kings of other European states, informing them of his discovery of the guilt of the Templars, and urging them to adopt a similar course in their own dominions. The Pope, too, summoned the grand master to France, but with every mark of respect, and so got him into his power before the terrible proceedings against the members of his order were made public.59

The King of England, Edward II, acted with prudence. He expressed his unbounded astonishment at the contents of the French King's letter, and at the particulars detailed to him by an agent specially sent to him by Philip, but he would do no more at the time than promise that the matter should receive his serious attention in due course.

He wrote at the same time to the kings of Portugal, Aragon, Castile, and Sicily, telling them of the extraordinary information he had received respecting the Templars, and declaring his unwillingness to believe the dreadful charges brought against them. He referred to the services rendered to Christendom by the order, and to its unblemished reputation ever since it was founded. He urged upon his fellow-sovereigns that nothing should be done in haste, but that inquiry should be made in due and solemn legal form, expressing his belief that the order was guiltless of the crimes alleged against it, and that the charges were merely the result of slander and envy and of a desire to appropriate the property of the order.

At the same time Edward wrote to the Pope in similar terms. He declared that the Templars were universally respected by all classes throughout his dominions as pious and upright men, and begged the Pope to promote a just inquiry which should free the order from the unjust slander and injuries to which it was being subjected. But hardly was this letter despatched than Edward received another from the Pope, which had crossed his own on its way, calling upon him to imitate Philip, King of France, in proceeding against the Templars. The Pope professed great distress and astonishment that an order that had so long enjoyed the respect and gratitude of the Church for its worthy deeds in defence of the faith should have fallen into grievous and perfidious apostasy. He then narrated the commendable zeal of the King of France in rooting out the secrets of these men's hidden wickedness, and gave particulars of some of their confessions of the crimes with which they had been charged. He concluded by commanding the King of England to pursue a similar course, to seize and imprison all members of the order on one day, and to hold, in the Pope's name, all the property of the order till it should be determined how it was to be disposed of.

60King Edward, notwithstanding his recent declaration of confidence in the integrity of the Templars, yielded obedience to this missive of the Pope. Whether he was overawed by the authority of the Pontiff, and deferred his own opinion to that of so great a personage, or whether, as some suppose, he desired to give the Templars a fair and honorable trial, and the opportunity of clearing themselves; or whether he gave way to the evil counsels of those who whispered that the great wealth of the Templars would be useful to the Crown, and that he might avail himself of the opportunity of taking all—as his predecessors had taken some—of their treasure; whatever may have been his real motive, and the cause of his change of conduct, it is certain that he issued an order for the arrest of the Templars, and the seizure of all their estates, houses, and property.

The greatest caution and secrecy were adopted. Instructions were sent to all the sheriffs throughout England to hold themselves in readiness to execute certain orders which would be given to them by trusty persons on that day. Similar arrangements were made in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; and on January 8, 1308, every Templar was simultaneously arrested.

It was not till October in the following year that any trial took place. All this time the Templars had been suffering the miseries of imprisonment. More than two hundred men of high rank, many of them veterans who had fought and bled in Palestine, and who were now grown old and feeble after a life of hardship and privation, maimed with wounds, bronzed with exposure to the Eastern sun, languished under the tender mercies of jailers, with no opportunity of defending themselves or of raising up friends to say a word for them. Some were foreigners who happened to be in England on the business of the order. A few managed to evade the vigilance of the King's emissaries, notwithstanding the secrecy and suddenness of the arrest, and escaped in various disguises to the wild and remote mountain districts of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

The court appointed by the Pope commenced its proceedings in London, in October, 1309, under the presidency of the Bishop of London. Several French ecclesiastics had come over to take their seat upon the bench as judges—an ill omen for the English Templars. After the usual preliminaries, which were61 long and tedious, the articles of accusation were read. They stated that those who were received into the order of the Knights of the Temple did, at their reception, formally deny Jesus Christ and renounce all hope of salvation through him; that they trampled and spat upon the cross; that they worshipped a cat(!); that they denied the sacraments, and looked only to the grand master for absolution; that they possessed and worshipped various idols; that they practised a variety of cruel, degrading, and filthy customs and rites; that the grand master and many of the brethren had confessed to these things even before they had been arrested. Such is a brief summary of the accusation, the original documents of which have happily come down to us.

It is not easy for us to understand how such a farrago of absurdity, profanity, and indecency could ever have been gravely produced in a so-called court of justice in England as a state paper—a bill of indictment against a body of noblemen and gentlemen; against an order that for two hundred years had been the right arm of the Church and the defender of Christianity against its most dangerous and ruthless enemies. No writer of fiction would have ventured on inventing such a trial, and no one unacquainted with mediæval history would credit the record that grave prelates and learned judges drew up such a document, and then set themselves to prove the truth of its monstrous allegations by the use of torture.

Students of the Middle Ages know well that such things were done in those days. They remember Savonarola and Beatrice Cenci in Italy, Jeanne d'Arc in France, Abbot Whiting and others in England. They call to mind the cruelties and exactions practised so often upon the Jews in every country in Europe; and with the contemporary records in their hands, they do not hesitate to accept as undoubted historical fact what would otherwise be rejected as a slander upon humanity and an outrage upon common-sense.

If the Templars had been accused of the crimes vulgarly supposed to attach themselves to religious orders; if they had been charged with falling into the sins to which poor human nature by its frailty is liable; if erring members had been denounced, men who had entered the order through disappointment, or from some other unworthy motive, men such as Sir62 Walter Scott depicts in his imaginary Templar, Brian de Bois Guilbert, in his novel, Ivanhoe, we might well believe that some at least of the accusations against them were true.

It is singular that no such charges are alleged against the Templars, though they were freely brought, two hundred years later, against the regular monks by the commissioners of Henry VIII. This fact has been noticed by most thoughtful historians, and has been considered to tell strongly in the tribunal of equity in favor of the Templars. Instead of these probable or possible crimes, we find nothing but monstrous charges of sorcery, idolatry, apostasy, and such like, instances of which we know are to be found in those strange times; but which it seems altogether unlikely would infect a large body whose fundamental principle was close adherence to Christianity; a body which was spread all over the world, and which included in its ranks such a multitude and variety of men and of nationalities, among whom there must have been, to say the least, some sincere, upright, and godly men who would have set themselves to root out such miserable errors, or, if they were found to be ineradicable, would have left the order as no place for them.

Even Voltaire acknowledges that such an indictment destroys itself. It recoils upon its framers, and proves nothing but their intense hatred of their victims and their total unfitness to sit as judges.

When this extraordinary paper had been read, the prisoners were asked what they had to say to it, and, as might be expected, they at once and unanimously declared that they and their order were absolutely guiltless of the crimes of which they were accused. After this the prisoners were examined one by one.

It would be tedious to follow the long and wearisome questionings and to record the replies given by the several brethren of the Temple during their trial in London. One and all agreed in denying the existence of the horrible and ridiculous rites which were said to be used at the reception of new members; and whether they had been received in England or abroad, detailed the ceremonies that were used, and showed that they were substantially the same everywhere. The candidate was asked what he desired, and on replying that he desired admission to the order of the Knights of the Temple, he was warned of the63 strict and severe life that was demanded of members of the order; of the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and, moreover, that he must be ready to go and fight the enemies of Christ even to the death.

Others related details of the interior discipline and regulations of the order, which were stern and rigorous, as became a body that added to the strictness of the convent the order and system of a military organization. Many of the brethren had been nearly all their lives in the order, some more than forty years, a great part of which had been spent in active service in the East.

The witnesses who were summoned were not members of the order, and had only hearsay evidence to give. They had heard this and that report, they suspected something else, they had been told that certain things had been said or done. Nothing definite could be obtained, and there was no proof whatever of any of the extravagant and incredible charges. Similar proceedings took place in Lincoln and York, and also in Scotland and Ireland; and in all places the results were the same, and the matter dragged on till October, 1311.

Hitherto torture had not been resorted to; but now, in accordance with the repeated solicitations of the Pope, King Edward gave orders that the imprisoned Templars should be subjected to the rack in order that they might be forced to give evidence of their guilt. Even then there seems to have been reluctance to resort to this cruel and shameful treatment, and a series of delays occurred, so that nothing was done till the beginning of the following year.

The Templars, having been now three years in prison, chained, half-starved, threatened with greater miseries here, and with eternal damnation hereafter; separated from one another, without friend, adviser, or legal defence, were now removed to the various jails in London and elsewhere, and submitted to torture. We have no particular record of the horrible details, but some evidence was afterward adduced which was said to have been obtained from the unhappy victims during their agony. It was such as was desired; an admission of the truth of the monstrous accusations that were detailed to them, which had been obtained, for the most part, from their tortured brethren in France.

64In April, 1311, these depositions were read in the court, in the presence of the Templars, who were required to say what they could allege in their defence. They replied that they were ignorant of the processes of law, and that they were not permitted to have the aid of those whom they trusted and who could advise them, but that they would gladly make a statement of their faith and of the principles of their order. This they were permitted to do, and a very simple and touching paper was produced and signed by all the brethren. They declared themselves, one and all, good Christians and faithful members of the Church, and they claimed to be treated as such, and openly and fairly tried if there were any just cause of complaint against them. But their persecutors were by no means satisfied. Fresh tortures and cruelties were resorted to to force confessions of guilt from these worn-out and dying men. A few gave way, and said what they were told to say; and these unhappy men were produced in St. Paul's Cathedral shortly afterward, and made to recant their errors, and were then "reconciled to the Church." A similar scene was enacted at York.

The property of the Templars in England was placed under the charge of a commission at the time that proceedings were commenced against them, and the King very soon treated it as if it were his own, giving away manors and convents at his pleasure. A great part of the possessions of the order was subsequently made over to the Hospitallers. The convent and church of the Temple in London were granted, in 1313, to Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, whose monument is in Westminster Abbey. Other property was pawned by the King to his creditors as security for payment of his debts; but constant litigation and disputes seem to have pursued the holders of the ill-gotten goods.

Some of the surviving Templars retired to monasteries, others returned to the world and assumed secular habits, for which they incurred the censures of the Pope.


The tragedy of the Templars had not yet drawn to its close. The four great dignitaries of the order, the grand master Du Molay, Guy, the commander of Normandy, son of the Dauphin65 of Auvergne, the commander of Aquitaine, Godfrey de Gonaville, the great visitor of France, Hugues de Peraud, were still pining in the royal dungeons. It was necessary to determine on their fate. The King and the Pope were now equally interested in burying the affair forever in silence and oblivion. So long as these men lived, uncondemned, undoomed, the order was not extinct. A commission was named: the Cardinal-Archbishop of Albi, with two other cardinals, two monks, the Cistercian Arnold Novelli, and Arnold de Fargis, nephew of Pope Clement, the Dominican Nicolas de Freveauville, akin to the house of Marigny, formerly the King's confessor. With these the Archbishop of Sens sat in judgment on the Knights' own former confessions. The grand master and the rest were found guilty, and were to be sentenced to perpetual imprisonment.

A scaffold was erected before the porch of Notre Dame. On one side appeared the two cardinals; on the other the four noble prisoners, in chains, under the custody of the Provost of Paris. Six years of dreary imprisonment had passed over their heads; of their valiant brethren the most valiant had been burned alive; the recreants had purchased their lives by confession; the Pope, in a full council, had condemned and dissolved the order. If a human mind—a mind like that of Du Molay—could be broken by suffering and humiliation, it must have yielded to this long and crushing imprisonment. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Albi ascended a raised platform: he read the confessions of the Knights, the proceedings of the court; he enlarged on the criminality of the order, on the holy justice of the Pope, and the devout, self-sacrificing zeal of the King; he was proceeding to the final, the fatal sentence. At that instant the grand master advanced; his gesture implored silence; judges and people gazed in awestruck apprehension. In a calm, clear voice Du Molay spoke: "Before heaven and earth, on the verge of death, where the least falsehood bears like an intolerable weight upon the soul, I protest that we have richly deserved death, not on account of any heresy or sin of which ourselves or our order have been guilty, but because we have yielded, to save our lives, to the seductive words of the Pope and of the King; and so by our confessions brought shame and ruin on our blameless, holy, and orthodox brotherhood."

66The cardinals stood confounded; the people could not suppress their profound sympathy. The assembly was hastily broken up; the Provost was commanded to conduct the prisoners back to their dungeons. "To-morrow we will hold further counsel." But on the moment that the King heard these things, without a day's delay, without the least consultation with the ecclesiastical authorities, he ordered them to death as relapsed heretics. On the island in the Seine, where now stands the statue of Henry IV, between the King's garden on one side and the convent of the Augustinian monks on the other, the two pyres were raised—two out of the four had shrunk back into their ignoble confessions. It was the hour of vespers when these two aged and noble men were led out to be burned; they were tied each to the stake. The flames kindled dully and heavily; the wood, hastily piled up, was green or wet; or in cruel mercy the tardiness was designed that the victims might have time, while the fire was still curling round their extremities, to recant their bold recantation. But there was no sign, no word of weakness. Du Molay implored that the image of the Mother of God might be held up before him, and his hands unchained, that he might clasp them in prayer. Both, as the smoke rose to their lips, as the fire crept up to their vital parts, continued solemnly to aver the innocence and the Catholic faith of the order. The King himself sat and beheld, it might seem without remorse, this hideous spectacle; the words of Du Molay might have reached his ears. But the people looked on with far other feelings. Stupor kindled into admiration; the execution was a martyrdom; friars gathered up their ashes and bones and carried them away, hardly by stealth, to consecrated ground; they became holy relics. The two who wanted courage to die pined away their miserable life in prison.

The wonder and the pity of the times which immediately followed, arrayed Du Molay not only in the robes of the martyr, but gave him the terrible language of a prophet. "Clement, iniquitous and cruel judge, I summon thee within forty days to meet me before the throne of the Most High!" According to some accounts this fearful sentence included the King, by whom, if uttered, it might have been heard. The earliest allusion to this awful speech does not contain that striking particularity,67 which, if part of it, would be fatal to its credibility, i.e., the precise date of Clement's death. It was not till the year after that Clement and King Philip passed to their account. The fate of these two men during the next year might naturally so appal the popular imagination, as to approximate more closely the prophecy and its accomplishment. At all events it betrayed the deep and general feeling of the cruel wrong inflicted on the order; while the unlamented death of the Pope, the disastrous close of Philip's reign, and the disgraceful crimes which attainted the honor of his family seemed as declarations of heaven as to the innocence of their noble victims.




A.D. 1337-1340


Having defeated the Flemings at Mons-la-Puelle in 1304, Philip the Fair of France found that they were unsubdued and ready to renew their war against him. Therefore he very soon acknowledged their independence under their count, Robert de Béthune. But Philip continually violated the treaty he had made, and just before his death (1314) he again began hostilities against Flanders.

Little of historical importance occurred in that country between the death of Philip the Fair and the accession of Philip of Valois (1328). His first act was to take up the cause of Louis de Nevers, then Count of Flanders, whom the independent burghers of most of the chief cities had united to deprive of his territories, leaving him only Ghent for a refuge. In the first year of his reign Philip gained a victory over the Flemish "weavers" at Cassel, and laid all Flanders at the feet of its rejected count.

In 1338 began the Hundred Years' War, arising from the claim of Edward III of England to the French throne. Edward's most important measure in preparation for the war was the securing of an alliance with the Flemish burghers, whose French count, Louis de Nevers, had gained nothing in their affections through the humiliation of Cassel, which confirmed his rule. The hated count showed his hostility to Edward, as well as his spite against his own subjects, by various petty acts which interfered with the commerce and industry of both Flanders and England.

At last, by prohibiting the exportation of wool to Flanders, Edward reduced the Flemings to despair and forced them to fling themselves into his arms. Many of them emigrated to England, where they helped to lay the foundation of manufactures. But the Flemish towns burst into insurrection and proceeded to organized action in the manner here related by Guizot, who draws largely upon the narrative of Froissart.

THE Flemings bore the first brunt of that war which was to be so cruel and so long. It was a lamentable position for them; their industrial and commercial prosperity was being ruined; their security at home was going from them; their communal69 liberties were compromised; divisions set in among them; by interest and habitual intercourse they were drawn toward England, but the Count, their lord, did all he could to turn them away from her, and many among them were loath to separate themselves entirely from France. "Burghers of Ghent, as they chatted in the thoroughfares and at the cross-roads, said one to another that they had heard much wisdom, to their mind, from a burgher who was called James van Artevelde, and who was a brewer of beer. They had heard him say that, if he could obtain a hearing and credit, he would in a little while restore Flanders to good estate, and they would recover all their gains without standing ill with the King of France or the King of England.

"These sayings began to get spread abroad insomuch that a quarter or half the city was informed thereof, especially the small folk of the commonalty, whom the evil touched most nearly. They began to assemble in the streets, and it came to pass that one day, after dinner, several went from house to house calling for their comrades, and saying, 'Come and hear the wise man's counsel.' On December 26, 1337, they came to the house of the said James van Artevelde, and found him leaning against his door. Far off as they were when they first perceived him, they made him a deep obeisance, and 'Dear sir,' they said, 'we are come to you for counsel; for we are told that by your great and good sense you will restore the country of Flanders to good case. So tell us how.'

"Then James van Artevelde came forward, and said: 'Sirs comrades, I am a native and burgher of this city, and here I have my means. Know that I would gladly aid you with all my power, you and all the country; if there were here a man who would be willing to take the lead, I would be willing to risk body and means at his side; and if the rest of ye be willing to be brethren, friends, and comrades to me, to abide in all matters at my side, notwithstanding that I am not worthy of it, I will undertake it willingly.' Then said all with one voice: 'We promise you faithfully to abide at your side in all matters and to therewith adventure body and means, for we know well that in the whole countship of Flanders there is not a man but you worthy so to do.'" Then Van Artevelde bound them to assemble70 on the next day but one in the grounds of the monastery of Biloke, which had received numerous benefits from the ancestors of Sohier of Courtrai, whose son-in-law Van Artevelde was.

This bold burgher of Ghent, who was born about 1285, was sprung from a family the name of which had been for a long while inscribed in their city upon the register of industrial corporations. His father, John van Artevelde, a cloth-worker, had been several times over-sheriff of Ghent, and his mother, Mary van Groete, was great-aunt to the grandfather of the illustrious publicist called in history Grotius. James van Artevelde in his youth accompanied Count Charles of Valois, brother of Philip the Handsome, upon his adventurous expeditions in Italy, Sicily, and Greece, and to the island of Rhodes; and it had been close by the spots where the soldiers of Marathon and Salamis had beaten the armies of Darius and Xerxes that he had heard of the victory of the Flemish burghers and workmen attacked in 1302, at Courtrai, by the splendid army of Philip the Handsome.

James van Artevelde, on returning to his country, had been busy with his manufactures,46 his fields, the education of his children, and Flemish affairs up to the day when, at his invitation, the burghers of Ghent thronged to the meeting on December 28, 1337, in the grounds of the monastery of Biloke. There he delivered an eloquent speech, pointing out unhesitatingly but temperately the policy which he considered good for the country. "Forget not," he said, "the might and the glory of Flanders. Who, pray, shall forbid that we defend our interests by using our rights? Can the King of France prevent us from treating with the King of England? And may we not be certain that if we were to treat with the King of England, the King of France would not be the less urgent in seeking our alliance? Besides, have we not with us all the communes of Brabant, of Hainault, of Holland, and of Zealand?" The audience cheered these words; the commune of Ghent forthwith assembled, and on January 3, 1337, reëstablished the offices of captains of parishes according to olden usage, when the city was exposed to any pressing danger.


It was carried that one of these captains should have the chief government of the city; and James van Artevelde was at once invested with it. From that moment the conduct of Van Artevelde was ruled by one predominant idea: to secure free and fair commercial intercourse for Flanders with England, while observing a general neutrality in the war between the kings of England and France, and to combine so far all the communes of Flanders in one and the same policy. And he succeeded in this twofold purpose. On April 29, 1338, the representatives of all the communes of Flanders—the city of Bruges numbering among them a hundred and eight deputies—repaired to the castle of Mâle, a residence of Count Louis, and then James van Artevelde set before the Count what had been resolved upon among them. The Count submitted, and swore that he would thenceforth maintain the liberties of Flanders in the state in which they had hitherto existed. In the month of May following a deputation, consisting of James van Artevelde and other burghers appointed by the cities of Ghent, Bruges, and Ypres scoured the whole of Flanders, from Bailleul to Termonde, and from Ninove to Dunkirk, "to reconcile the good folk of the communes to the Count of Flanders, as well for the Count's honor as for the peace of the country." Lastly, on June 10, 1338, a treaty was signed at Anvers between the deputies of the Flemish communes and the English ambassadors, the latter declaring: "We do all to wit that we have negotiated the way and substance of friendship with the good folk of the communes of Flanders, in form and manner hereinafter following:

"First, they shall be able to go and buy the wools and other merchandise which have been exported from England to Holland, Zealand, or any other place whatsoever; and all traders of Flanders who shall repair to the ports of England shall there be safe and free in their persons and their goods, just as in any other place where their ventures might bring them together.

"Item, we have agreed with the good folk and with all the common country of Flanders that they must not mix nor intermeddle in any way, by assistance in men or arms, in the wars of our lord the King and the noble Sir Philip of Valois (who holdeth himself for King of France)."

72Three articles following regulated in detail the principles laid down in the first two, and, by another charter, Edward III ordained that "all stuffs marked with the seal of the city of Ghent might travel freely in England without being subject according to ellage and quality to the control to which all foreign merchandise was subject."

Van Artevelde was right in telling the Flemings that, if they treated with the King of England, the King of France would be only the more anxious for their alliance. Philip of Valois and even Count Louis of Flanders, when they got to know of the negotiations entered into between the Flemish communes and King Edward, redoubled their offers and promises to them. But when the passions of men have taken full possession of their souls, words of concession and attempts at accommodation are nothing more than postponements or lies. Philip, when he heard about the conclusion of a treaty between the Flemish communes and the King of England, sent word to Count Louis "that this James van Artevelde must not, on any account, be allowed to rule or even live, for if it were so for long, the Count would lose his land." The Count, very much disposed to accept such advice, repaired to Ghent and sent for Van Artevelde to come and see him at his hotel. He went, but with so large a following that the Count was not at the time at all in a position to resist him. He tried to persuade the Flemish burgher that "if he would keep a hand on the people so as to keep them to their love for the King of France, he having more authority than anyone else for such a purpose, much good would result to him; mingling, besides, with this address, some words of threatening import."

Van Artevelde, who was not the least afraid of the threat, and who at heart was fond of the English, told the Count that he would do as he had promised the communes. "Hereupon he left the Count, who consulted his confidants as to what he was to do in this business, and they counselled him to let them go and assemble their people, saying that they would kill Van Artevelde secretly or otherwise. And, indeed, they did lay many traps and made many attempts against the captain; but it was of no avail, since all the commonalty was for him." When the rumor of these projects and these attempts was spread abroad in the73 city, the excitement was extreme, and all the burghers assumed white hoods, which was the mark peculiar to the members of the commune when they assembled under their flags; so that the Count found himself reduced to assuming one, for he was afraid of being kept captive at Ghent, and, on the pretext of a hunting-party, he lost no time in gaining his castle of Mâle.

The burghers of Ghent had their minds still filled with their late alarm when they heard that by order, it was said, of the King of France—Count Louis had sent and beheaded at the castle of Rupelmonde, in the very bed in which he was confined by his infirmities, their fellow-citizen Sohier of Courtrai, Van Artevelde's father-in-law, who had been kept for many months in prison for his intimacy with the English. On the same day the Bishop of Senlis and the Abbot of St. Denis had arrived at Tournai, and had superintended the reading out in the market-place of a sentence of excommunication against the Ghentese.

It was probably at this date that Van Artevelde in his vexation and disquietude assumed in Ghent an attitude threatening and despotic even to tyranny. "He had continually after him," says Froissart, "sixty or eighty armed varlets, among whom were two or three who knew some of his secrets. When he met a man whom he hated or had in suspicion, this man was at once killed, for Van Artevelde had given this order to his varlets: 'The moment I meet a man, and make such and such a sign to you, slay him without delay, however great he may be, without waiting for more speech.' In this way he had many great masters slain. And as soon as these sixty varlets had taken him home to his hotel, each went to dinner at his own house; and the moment dinner was over they returned and stood before his hotel and waited in the street until that he was minded to go and play and take his pastime in the city, and so they attended him to supper-time.

"And know that each of these hirelings had per diem four groschen of Flanders for their expenses and wages, and he had them regularly paid from week to week. And even in the case of all that were most powerful in Flanders, knights, esquires, and burghers of the good cities, whom he believed to be favorable to the Count of Flanders, them he banished from Flanders and74 levied half their revenues. He had levies made of rents, of dues on merchandise and all the revenues belonging to the Count, wherever it might be in Flanders, and he disbursed them at his will, and gave them away without rendering any account. And when he would borrow of any burghers on his word for payment, there was none that durst say him nay. In short there was never in Flanders, or in any other country, duke, count, prince, or other who can have had a country at his will as James van Artevelde had for a long time." It is possible that, as some historians have thought, Froissart, being less favorable to burghers than to princes, did not deny himself a little exaggeration in this portrait of a great burgher-patriot transformed by the force of events and passions into a demagogic tyrant.

While the Count of Flanders, after having vainly attempted to excite an uprising against Van Artevelde, was being forced, in order to escape from the people of Bruges, to mount his horse in hot haste, at night and barely armed, and to flee away to St. Omer, Philip of Valois and Edward III were preparing on either side, for the war which they could see drawing near. Philip was vigorously at work on the Pope, the Emperor of Germany, and the princes neighbors of Flanders, in order to raise obstacles against his rival or rob him of his allies. He ordered that short-lived meeting of the states-general about which we have no information left us, save that it voted the principle that "no talliage could be imposed on the people if urgent necessity or evident utility should not require it, and unless by concession of the estates."

Philip, as chief of feudal society rather than of the nation which was forming itself little by little around the lords, convoked at Amiens all his vassals great and small, laic or cleric, placing all his strength in their coöperation, and not caring at all to associate the country itself in the affairs of his government. Edward, on the contrary, while equipping his fleet and amassing treasure at the expense of the Jews and Lombard usurers, was assembling his parliament, talking to it "of this important and costly war," for which he obtained large subsidies, and accepting, without making any difficulty, the vote of the commons' house, which expressed a desire "to consult their constituents upon this subject, and begged him to summon an early parliament, to which75 there should be elected, in each county, two knights taken from among the best landowners of their counties."

The King set out for the Continent; the parliament met and considered the exigences of the war by land and sea, in Scotland and in France; traders, shipowners, and mariners were called and examined; and the forces determined to be necessary were voted. Edward took the field, pillaging, burning, and ravaging, "destroying all the country for twelve or fourteen leagues in extent," as he himself said in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury. When he set foot on French territory, Count William of Hainault, his brother-in-law and up to that time his ally, came to him and said that "he would ride with him no farther, for that his presence was prayed and required by his uncle the King of France, to whom he bore no hate, and whom he would go and serve in his own kingdom, as he had served King Edward on the territory of the Emperor, whose vicar he was," and Edward wished him "Godspeed!" Such was the binding nature of feudal ties that the same lord held himself bound to pass from one camp to another according as he found himself upon the domains of one or the other of his suzerains in a war one against the other.

Edward continued his march toward St. Quentin, where Philip had at last arrived with his allies the kings of Bohemia, Navarre, and Scotland, "after delays which had given rise to great scandal and murmurs throughout the whole kingdom." The two armies, with a strength, according to Froissart, of a hundred thousand men on the French side, and forty-four thousand on the English, were soon facing one another, near Buironfosse, a large burgh of Picardy. A herald came from the English camp to tell the King of France that the King of England "demanded of him battle. To which demand," says Froissart, "the King of France gave willing assent and accepted the day which was fixed at first for Thursday the 21st, and afterward for Saturday the 25th of October, 1339."

To judge from the somewhat tangled accounts of the chroniclers and of Froissart himself, neither of the two kings was very anxious to come to blows. The forces of Edward were much inferior to those of Philip; and the former had accordingly taken up, as it appears, a position which rendered attack difficult76 for Philip. There was much division of opinion in the French camp. Independently of military grounds, a great deal was said about certain letters from Robert, King of Naples, "a mighty necromancer and full of mighty wisdom, it was reported, who, after having several times cast their horoscopes, had discovered, by astrology and from experience, that, if his cousin, the King of France, were to fight the King of England, the former would be worsted."

"In thus disputing and debating," says Froissart, "the time passed till full mid-day. A little afterward a hare came leaping across the fields, and rushed among the French. Those who saw it began shouting and making a great halloo. Those who were behind thought that those who were in front were engaging in battle; and several put on their helmets and gripped their swords. Thereupon several knights were made; and the Count of Hainault himself made fourteen, who were thenceforth nicknamed Knights of the Hare."

Whatever his motive may have been, Philip did not attack; and Edward promptly began a retreat. They both dismissed their allies; and during the early days of November Philip fell back upon St. Quentin, and Edward went and took up his winter-quarters at Brussels.

For Edward it was a serious check not to have dared to attack the King whose kingdom he made a pretence of conquering; and he took it grievously to heart. At Brussels he had an interview with his allies and asked their counsel. Most of the princes of the Low Countries remained faithful to him and the Count of Hainault seemed inclined to go back to him; but all hesitated as to what he was to do to recover from the check. Van Artevelde showed more invention and more boldness. The Flemish communes had concentrated their forces not far from the spot where the two kings had kept their armies looking at one another; but they had maintained a strict neutrality, and at the invitation of the Count of Flanders, who promised them that the King of France would entertain all their claims, Artevelde and Breydel, the deputies from Ghent and Bruges, even repaired to Courtrai to make terms with him. But as they got there nothing but ambiguous engagements and evasive promises, they let the negotiation drop, and, while Count77 Louis was on his way to rejoin Philip at St. Quentin, Artevelde with the deputies from the Flemish communes started for Brussels.

Edward, who was already living on very confidential terms with him, told him that "if the Flemings were minded to help him to keep up the war and go with him whithersoever he would take them, they should aid him to recover Lille, Douai, and Béthune, then occupied by the King of France. Artevelde, after consulting his colleagues, returned to Edward, and, 'Dear sir,' said he, 'you have already made such requests to us, and verily, if we could do so while keeping our honor and faith, we would do as you demand: but we be bound, by faith and oath, and on a bond of two millions of florins entered into with the Pope, not to go to war with the King of France without incurring a debt to the amount of that sum and a sentence of excommunication; but if you do that which we are about to say to you, if you will be pleased to adopt the arms of France, and quarter them with those of England, and openly call yourself King of France, we will uphold you for the true King of France; you, as King of France, shall give us quittance of our faith; and then we will obey you as King of France, and will go whithersoever you shall ordain."

This prospect pleased Edward mightily: but "it irked him to take the name and arms of that of which he had as yet won no title." He consulted his allies. Some of them hesitated; but "his most privy and especial friend," Robert d'Artois, strongly urged him to consent to the proposal. So a French prince and a Flemish burgher prevailed upon the King of England to pursue, as in assertion of his avowed rights, the conquest of the kingdom of France. King, prince, and burgher fixed Ghent as their place of meeting for the official conclusion of the alliance; and there, in January, 1340, the mutual engagement was signed and sealed. The King of England "assumed the arms of France quartered with those of England," and thenceforth took the title of King of France.



A.D. 1340-1346


The sea fight of Sluys began the Hundred Years' War between England and France. It is also memorable as England's first great naval victory. The origin of the war lay in the Salic Law, which excludes women from the throne of France. This overruled the claims of Queen Isabella of England, and her son Edward III in 1328, when the twelve peers and barons of France unanimously gave the crown to Isabella's cousin, Philip of Valois, who ascended the throne as Philip VI of France.

Edward III ingeniously maintained that though the Salic Law prevented his mother from filling the throne, it did not destroy the rights of her male descendants, and he early entertained the project of enforcing this contention; but it was not until 1337 that he felt able to assert formally his claim to the French crown and to assume the title of king of France.

The following year, with a considerable body of troops to support his presumed rights, he crossed to the Continent, and passed the winter at Antwerp among the Flemings who had taken up his cause, and with whom, as well as with the Emperor-King of Germany, he effected aggressive alliances. He made a formal declaration of war in 1339, beginning hostilities which were prolonged into the Hundred Years' War, and which as a contest of the English kings for the sovereignty of France produced a series of important revolutions in the fortunes of that country.

The first serious action of the war was a naval battle at Sluys, near the Belgian frontier just northeast of Bruges, June 23, 1340. King Edward and his entire navy sailed from the Thames June 22, and made straight for Sluys. Sir Hugh Quiriel and other French officers, with over one hundred and twenty large vessels, were lying near Sluys for the purpose of disputing the English King's passage. Froissart, with his usual terseness, has graphically recorded the combat which ensued.

A more important victory was that won in the land battle at Crécy in 1346, which, however, simply paved the way to the capture of Calais, for it was not until the battle of Poitiers, ten years later, that Edward made any progress toward the conquest of France. In 1346, after landing with a force of troops at Cape La Hogue, Edward reduced Cherbourg, Carentan, and Caen, and, with the intention of crossing the Seine at Rouen, 79commenced his march on Calais, where he was to be joined by his Flemish allies. Philip, making a rapid march from Paris to Amiens, had posted detachments of soldiers along the right bank of the river Somme, guarding every ford, breaking down every bridge, and gradually shutting up the invaders in the narrow space between the Somme and the sea.

Edward sent out his marshals with their battalions to find a passage, but they were unsuccessful, until a peasant led them to the tidal ford of Blanchetaque. Although desperately opposed by fully twelve thousand French, under the Norman baron Sir Godémar du Fay, they effected a crossing, and, marching on, encamped in the fields near Crécy. The King of France with the main body of his troops had taken up his quarters in Abbeville.


WHEN the King's fleet was almost got to Sluys, they saw so many masts standing before it that they looked like a wood. The King asked the commander of his ship what they could be, who answered that he imagined they must be that armament of Normans which the King of France kept at sea and which had so frequently done him much damage, had burned his good town of Southampton, and taken his large ship the Christopher. The King replied: "I have for a long time wished to meet with them, and now, please God and St. George, we will fight them; for, in truth, they have done me so much mischief that I will be revenged on them if it be possible."

The King drew up all his vessels, placing the strongest in the front, and on the wings his archers. Between every two vessels with archers there was one of men-at-arms. He stationed some detached vessels as a reserve, full of archers, to assist and help such as might be damaged. There were in this fleet a great many ladies from England, countesses, baronesses, and knights' and gentlemen's wives, who were going to attend on the Queen at Ghent. These the King had guarded most carefully by three hundred men-at-arms and five hundred archers.

When the King of England and his marshals had properly divided the fleet, they hoisted their sails to have the wind on their quarter, as the sun shone full in their faces, which they considered might be of disadvantage to them, and stretched out a little, so that at last they got the wind as they wished. The Normans, who saw them tack, could not help wondering why they did so, and said they took good care to turn about, for they80 were afraid of meddling with them. They perceived, however, by his banner, that the King was on board, which gave them great joy, as they were eager to fight with him; so they put their vessels in proper order, for they were expert and gallant men on the seas. They filled the Christopher, the large ship which they had taken the year before from the English, with trumpets and other warlike instruments, and ordered her to fall upon the English.

The battle then began very fiercely; archers and cross-bowmen shot with all their might at each other, and the men-at-arms engaged hand to hand. In order to be more successful, they had large grapnels, and iron hooks with chains, which they flung from ship to ship, to moor them to each other. There were many valiant deeds performed, many prisoners made, and many rescues. The Christopher, which led the van, was recaptured by the English, and all in her taken or killed. There were then great shouts and cries, and the English manned her again with archers and sent her to fight against the Genoese.

This battle was very murderous and horrible. Combats at sea are more destructive and obstinate than upon the land, for it is not possible to retreat or flee—everyone must abide his fortune and exert his prowess and valor. Sir Hugh Quiriel and his companions were bold and determined men, had done much mischief to the English at sea and destroyed many of their ships; this combat, therefore, lasted from early in the morning until noon, and the English were hard pressed, for their enemies were four to one, and the greater part men who had been used to the sea.

The King, who was in the flower of his youth, showed himself on that day a gallant knight, as did the earls of Derby, Pembroke, Hereford, Huntingdon, Northampton, and Gloucester; the Lord Reginald Cobham, Lord Felton, Lord Bradestan, Sir Richard Stafford, the Lord Percy, Sir Walter Manny, Sir Henry de Flanders, Sir John Beauchamp, Sir John Chandos, the Lord Delaware, Lucie Lord Malton, and the Lord Robert d'Artois, now called Earl of Richmond.

I cannot remember all the names of those who behaved so valiantly in the combat; but they did so well that, with some assistance from Bruges and those parts of the country, the81 French were completely defeated, and all the Normans and the others killed or drowned, so that not one of them escaped. This was soon known all over Flanders; and when it came to the two armies before Thin-l'Evêque, the Hainaulters were as much rejoiced as their enemies were dismayed.

After the King had gained this victory, which was on the eve of St. John's Day, he remained all that night on board of his ship before Sluys, and there were great noises with trumpets and all kinds of other instruments. The Flemings came to wait on him, having heard of his arrival and what deeds he had performed. The King inquired of the citizens of Bruges after Jacob van Artevelde, and they told him he was gone to the aid of the Earl of Hainault with upward of sixty thousand men, against the Duke of Normandy. On the morrow, which was Midsummer Day, the King and his fleet entered the port. As soon as they were landed, the King, attended by crowds of knights, set out on foot on a pilgrimage to our Lady of Ardemburg, where he heard mass and dined. He then mounted his horse and went that day to Ghent, where the Queen was, who received him with great joy and kindness. The army and baggage, with the attendants of the King, followed him by degrees to the same place.


The two battalions of the marshals came, on Friday in the afternoon, to where the King was, and they fixed their quarters, all three together, near Crécy in Ponthieu. The King of England, who had been informed that the King of France was following him, in order to give him battle, said to his people: "Let us post ourselves here, for we will not go farther before we have seen our enemies. I have good reason to wait for them on this spot; as I am now upon the lawful inheritance of my lady mother, which was given her as her marriage portion, and I am resolved to defend it against my adversary, Philip de Valois." On account of his not having more than an eighth part of the forces which the King of France had, his marshals fixed upon the most advantageous situation, and the army went and took possession of it. He then sent his scouts toward Abbeville, to learn if the King of France meant to take the field this Friday,82 but they returned and said they saw no appearance of it; upon which he dismissed his men to their quarters with orders to be in readiness by times in the morning and to assemble in the same place. The King of France remained all Friday in Abbeville, waiting for more troops. He sent his marshals, the Lord of St. Venant and Lord Charles of Montmorency, out of Abbeville, to examine the country and get some certain intelligence of the English. They returned about vespers with information that the English were encamped on the plain. That night the King of France entertained at supper in Abbeville all the princes and chief lords. There was much conversation relative to war; and the King entreated them after supper that they would always remain in friendship with each other; that they would be friends without jealousy, and courteous without pride. The King was still expecting the Earl of Savoy, who ought to have been there with a thousand lances, as he had been well paid for them at Troyes in Champaign, three months in advance.

The King of England encamped this Friday in the plain, for he found the country abounding in provisions, but, if they should have failed, he had plenty in the carriages which attended on him. The army set about furbishing and repairing their armor, and the King gave a supper that evening to the earls and barons of his army, where they made good cheer. On their taking leave the King remained alone with the lords of his bedchamber; he retired into his oratory, and, falling on his knees before the altar, prayed to God that if he should combat his enemies on the morrow, he might come off with honor. About midnight he went to bed and, rising early the next day, he and the Prince of Wales heard mass and communicated. The greater part of his army did the same, confessed, and made proper preparations. After mass, the King ordered his men to arm themselves, and assemble on the ground he had before fixed on. He had enclosed a large park near a wood, on the rear of his army, in which he placed all his baggage wagons and horses. This park had but one entrance; his men-at-arms and archers remained on foot.

The King afterward ordered, through his constable and his two marshals, that the army should be divided into three battalions. In the first he placed the young Prince of Wales, and with83 him the earls of Warwick and Oxford, Sir Godfrey de Harcourt, the Lord Reginald Cobham, Lord Thomas Holland, Lord Stafford, Lord Mauley, the Lord Delaware, Sir John Chandos, Lord Bartholomew Burgherst, Lord Robert Neville, Lord Thomas Clifford, Lord Bourchier, Lord Latimer, and many other knights and squires. There might be, in this first division, about eight hundred men-at-arms, two thousand archers, and a thousand Welshmen. They advanced in regular order to their ground, each lord under his banner and pennon and in the centre of his men. In the second battalion were the Earl of Northampton, the Earl of Arundel, the lords Roos, Willoughby, Basset, St. Albans, Sir Lewis Tufton, Lord Multon, Lord Lascels, and many others; amounting, in the whole, to about eight hundred men-at-arms and twelve hundred archers. The third battalion was commanded by the King, and was composed of about seven hundred men-at-arms and two thousand archers.

The King then mounted a small palfrey, having a white wand in his hand, and, attended by his two marshals on each side of him, he rode at a footpace through all the ranks, encouraging and entreating the army that they would guard his honor and defend his right. He spoke this so sweetly and with such a cheerful countenance that all who had been dispirited were directly comforted by seeing and hearing him. When he had thus visited all the battalions it was near ten o'clock; he retired to his own division, and ordered them all to eat heartily and drink a glass after. They ate and drank at their ease, and, having packed up pots, barrels, etc., in the carts they returned to their battalions according to the marshals' orders, and seated themselves on the ground, placing their helmets and bows before them, that they might be the fresher when their enemies should arrive.

On Saturday the King of France rose betimes, and heard mass in the monastery of St. Peter's in Abbeville, where he was lodged; having ordered his army to do the same, he left that town after sunrise. When he had marched about two leagues from Abbeville, and was approaching the enemy, he was advised to form his army in order of battle and to let those on foot march forward that they might not be trampled on by the horses. The King, upon this, sent off four knights, Lord Moyne of Bastleberg,84 Lord of Noyers, Lord of Beaujeu, and the Lord of Aubigny, who rode so near to the English that they could clearly distinguish their position. The English plainly perceived they were come to reconnoitre them; however, they took no notice of it, but suffered them to return unmolested. When the King of France saw them coming back, he halted his army; and the knights, pushing through the crowd, came near the King, who said to them, "My lords, what news?" They looked at each other, without opening their mouths, for neither chose to speak first. At last the King addressed himself to the Lord Moyne, who was attached to the King of Bohemia, and had performed very many gallant deeds, so that he was esteemed one of the most valiant knights in Christendom. Lord Moyne said: "Sir, I will speak, since it pleases you to order me, but under the correction of my companions. We have advanced far enough to reconnoitre your enemies. Know, then, that they are drawn up in three battalions, and are waiting for you. I would advise, for my part—submitting, however, to better counsel—that you halt your army here and quarter them for the night; for before the rear shall come up and the army be properly drawn out, it will be very late; your men will be tired and in disorder, while they will find your enemies fresh and properly arrayed. On the morrow you may draw up your army more at your ease and may reconnoitre at leisure on what part it will be most advantageous to begin the attack; for, be assured, they will wait for you." The King commanded that it should be so done, and the two marshals rode, one toward the front, and the other to the rear, crying out, "Halt banners, in the name of God and St. Denis." Those that were in the front halted, but those behind said they would not halt until they were as forward as the front. When the front perceived the rear pressing on they pushed forward, and neither the King nor the marshals could stop them, but they marched without any order until they came in sight of their enemies. As soon as the foremost rank saw them they fell back at once in great disorder, which alarmed those in the rear, who thought they had been fighting. There was then space and room enough for them to have passed forward, had they been willing so to do; some did so, but others remained shy. All the roads between Abbeville and Crécy were covered with common85 people, who, when they were come within three leagues of their enemies, drew their swords, bawling out, "Kill, kill," and with them were many great lords that were eager to make show of their courage. There is no man—unless he had been present—that can imagine or describe truly the confusion of that day; especially the bad management and disorder of the French, whose troops were out of number.

The English were drawn up in three divisions and seated on the ground. On seeing their enemies advance they rose up and fell into their ranks. That of the Prince was the first to do so, whose archers were formed in the manner of a portcullis, or harrow, and the men-at-arms in the rear. The earls of Northampton and Arundel, who commanded the second division, had posted themselves in good order on his wing, to assist and succor the Prince if necessary. You must know that these kings, earls, barons, and lords of France did not advance in any regular order, but one after the other, or any way most pleasing to themselves. As soon as the King of France came in sight of the English his blood began to boil, and he cried out to his marshals, "Order the Genoese forward and begin the battle, in the name of God and St. Denis." There were about fifteen thousand Genoese cross-bowmen, but they were quite fatigued, having marched on foot that day six leagues, completely armed and with their cross-bows. They told the constable they were not in a fit condition to do any great things that day in battle. The Earl of Alençon, hearing this, said, "This is what one gets by employing such scoundrels, who fall off when there is any need for them." During this time a heavy rain fell, accompanied by thunder and a very terrible eclipse of the sun, and before this rain a great flight of crows hovered in the air over all those battalions, making a loud noise. Shortly afterward it cleared up and the sun shone very bright, but the Frenchmen had it on their faces and the English on their backs. When the Genoese were somewhat in order and approached the English they set up a loud shout48 in order to frighten them, but they remained 86quite still and did not seem to attend to it. They then set up a second shout and advanced a little forward, but the English never moved.

They hooted a third time, advancing with their cross-bows presented and began to shoot. The English archers then advanced one step forward and shot their arrows with such force and quickness that it seemed as if it snowed. When the Genoese felt these arrows, which pierced their arms, heads, and through their armor, some of them cut the strings of their cross-bows; others flung them on the ground and all turned about and retreated quite discomfited. The French had a large body of men-at-arms on horseback, richly dressed, to support the Genoese. The King of France seeing them thus fall back cried out, "Kill me those scoundrels, for they stop up our road without any reason." You would then have seen the above-mentioned men-at-arms lay about them, killing all they could of these runaways.

The English continued shooting as vigorously and quickly as before; some of their arrows fell among the horsemen, who 87were sumptuously equipped, and, killing and wounding many, made them caper and fall among the Genoese, so that they were in such confusion they could never rally again. In the English army there were some Cornish and Welshmen on foot who had armed themselves with large knives. These, advancing through the ranks of the men-at-arms and archers, who made way for them, came upon the French when they were in this danger, and, falling upon earls, barons, knights, and squires, slew many; at which the King of England was afterward much exasperated. The valiant King of Bohemia was slain there. He was called Charles of Luxembourg, for he was the son of the gallant king and emperor Henry of Luxembourg. Having heard the order of the battle, he inquired where his son, Lord Charles, was. His attendants answered that they did not know, but believed he was fighting. The King said to them: "Gentlemen, you are all my people, my friends and brethren-at-arms this day; therefore, as I am blind,49 I request of you to lead me so far into the engagement that I may strike one stroke with my sword." The knights replied that they would directly lead him forward, and, in order that they might not lose him in the crowd, they fastened all the reins of their horses together and put the King at their head, that he might gratify his wish and advance toward the enemy. Lord Charles of Bohemia—who already signed his name as King of Germany and bore the arms—had come in good order to the engagement, but when he perceived that it was likely to turn out against the French he departed. The King, his father, had rode in among the enemy, and made good use of his sword, for he and his companions had fought most gallantly. They had advanced so far that they were all slain, and on the morrow they were found on the ground, with their horses all tied together.

The Earl of Alençon advanced in regular order upon the English, to fight with them; as did the Earl of Flanders in another part. These two lords, with their detachments—coasting, as it were, the archers—came to the Prince's battalion, where they fought valiantly for a length of time. The King of France was eager to march to the place were he saw their ban88ners displayed, but there was a hedge of archers before him. He had that day made a present of a handsome black horse to Sir John of Hainault, who had mounted on it a knight called Sir John de Fusselles, that bore his banner. The horse ran off with him and forced its way through the English army, and, when about to return, stumbled and fell into a ditch and severely wounded him. He would have been dead if his page had not followed him round the battalions and found him unable to rise. He had not, however, any other hinderance than from his horse; for the English did not quit the ranks that day to make prisoners. The page alighted and raised him up, but he did not return the way he came, as he would have found it difficult from the crowd. This battle, which was fought on the Saturday, between La Broyes and Crécy, was very murderous and cruel, and many gallant deeds of arms were performed that were never known. Toward evening many knights and squires of the French had lost their masters. They wandered up and down the plain, attacking the English in small parties. They were soon destroyed, for the English had determined that day to give no quarter nor hear of ransom from anyone.

Early in the day some French, Germans, and Savoyards had broken through the archers of the Prince's battalion and had engaged with the men-at-arms; upon which the second battalion came to his aid, otherwise he would have been hard pressed. The first division, seeing the danger they were in, sent a knight in great haste to the King of England, who was posted upon an eminence near a windmill. On the knight's arrival he said: "Sir, the Earl of Warwick, Lord Reginald Cobham, and the others who are about your son are vigorously attacked by the French. They entreat that you would come to their assistance with your battalion, for, if their numbers should increase, they fear he will have too much to do."

The King replied, "Is my son dead, unhorsed, or so badly wounded that he cannot support himself?"

"Nothing of the sort, thank God," rejoined the knight, "but he is in so hot an engagement that he has great need of your help." The King answered: "Now, Sir Thomas, return back to those that sent you, and tell them from me not to send again for me this day, or expect that I shall come, let what will happen,89 as long as my son has life; and say that I command them to let the boy win his spurs; for I am determined, if it please God, that all the glory and honor of this day shall be given to him and to those into whose care I have intrusted him." The knight returned to his lords, and related the King's answer, which mightily encouraged them and made them repent they had ever sent such a message.50

It is a certain fact that Sir Godfrey de Harcourt, who was in the Prince's battalion, having been told by some of the English that they had seen the banner of his brother engaged in the battle against him, was exceedingly anxious to save him; but he was too late, for he was left dead on the field, and so was the Earl of Aumarle, his nephew. On the other hand, the earls of Alençon and of Flanders were fighting lustily under their banners and with their own people, but they could not resist the force of the English, and were slain, as well as many other knights and squires that were attending on or accompanying them. The Earl of Blois, nephew to the King of France, and the Duke of Lorraine, his brother-in-law, with their troops, 90made a gallant defence; but they were surrounded by a troop of English and Welsh and slain in spite of their prowess. The Earl of St. Pol and the Earl of Auxerre were also killed, as well as many others.

Late after vespers, the King of France had not more about him than sixty men—every one included. Sir John of Hainault, who was of the number, had once remounted the King; for his horse had been killed under him by an arrow. He said to the King: "Sir, retreat while you have an opportunity and do not expose yourself so simply. If you have lost this battle, another time you will be the conqueror." After he had said this, he took the bridle of the King's horse and led him off by force, for he had before entreated him to retire. The King rode on until he came to the castle of La Broyes, where he found the gates shut, for it was very dark. The King ordered the governor of it to be summoned. He came upon the battlements and asked who it was that called at such an hour. The King answered: "Open, open, governor! It is the fortune of France!" The governor, hearing the King's voice, immediately descended, opened the gate and let down the bridge. The King and his company entered the castle, but he had only with him five barons, Sir John of Hainault, Lord Charles of Montmorency, Lord Beaujeu, Lord Aubigny, and Lord Montfort. The King would not bury himself in such a place as that, but, having taken some refreshments, set out again with his attendants about midnight, and rode on, under the direction of guides—who were well acquainted with the country—until about daybreak, when he came to Amiens, where he halted. The English never quitted their ranks in pursuit of anyone, but remained on the field, guarding their position and defending themselves against all who attacked them. The battle was ended at the hour of vespers.

When, on Saturday night, the English heard no more hooting or shouting, nor any more crying out to particular lords or their banners, they looked upon the field as their own and their enemies as beaten. They made great fires, and lighted torches because of the obscurity of the night. King Edward then came down from his post, who all that day had not put on his helmet, and with his whole battalion advanced to the Prince of Wales,91 whom he embraced in his arms and kissed, and said: "Sweet son, God give you good perseverance; you are my son, for most loyally have you acquitted yourself this day. You are worthy to be a sovereign." The Prince bowed down very low and humbled himself, giving all the honor to the King, his father. The English, during the night, made frequent thanksgivings to the Lord for the happy issue of the day, and without rioting, for the King had forbidden all riot or noise. On Sunday morning there was so great a fog that one could scarcely see the distance of half an acre. The King ordered a detachment from the army, under the command of the two marshals—consisting of about five hundred lances and two thousand archers—to make an excursion and see if there were any bodies of French troops collected together. The quota of troops from Rouen and Beauvais had that morning left Abbeville and St. Ricquier in Ponthieu to join the French army, and were ignorant of the defeat of the preceding evening. They met this detachment, and, thinking they must be French, hastened to join them.

As soon as the English found who they were, they fell upon them and there was a sharp engagement. The French soon turned their backs and fled in great disorder. There were slain in this flight in the open fields, under hedges and bushes, upward of seven thousand; and had it been clear weather, not one soul would have escaped.

A little time afterward this same party fell in with the Archbishop of Rouen and the great Prior of France, who were also ignorant of the discomfiture of the French, for they had been informed that the King was not to fight before Sunday. Here began a fresh battle; for those two lords were well attended by good men-at-arms. However, they could not withstand the English, but were almost all slain, with the two chiefs who commanded them; very few escaping. In the morning the English found many Frenchmen who had lost their road on Saturday and had lain in the open fields, not knowing what was become of the King or their own leaders. The English put to the sword all they met; and it has been assured to me for fact that of foot soldiers, sent from the cities, towns, and municipalities, there were slain, this Sunday morning, four times as many as in the battle of Saturday.

92This detachment, which had been sent to look after the French, returned as the King was coming from mass, and related to him all that they had seen and met with. After he had been assured by them that there was not any likelihood of the French collecting another army, he sent to have the number and condition of the dead examined. He ordered on this business Lord Reginald Cobham, Lord Stafford, and three heralds to examine their arms, and two secretaries to write down all the names. They took much pains to examine all the dead, and were the whole day in the field of battle, not returning but just as the King was sitting down to supper. They made him a very circumstantial report of all they had observed, and said they had found eighty banners, the bodies of eleven princes, twelve hundred knights, and about thirty thousand common men.




A.D. 1341


The beauty of nature, of natural scenery amid mountains, fields, and lakes, seems to have passed unheeded during early mediæval times. Even in the ancient days of classic culture it apparently attracted very little notice, except from an occasional poet. The present attitude of enthusiasm, which leads thousands of tourists to flock to Switzerland or to Niagara every year, is wholly a modern development. This development of what is almost a new sense in man certainly deserves notice. To fix an exact date for its beginning is, of course, impossible, but it is generally regarded as a product of the Italian Renaissance, and Burckhardt, seeking for its slow unfolding, traces it back to Petrarch, who, in his poetry, speaks of nature repeatedly.

Petrarch's poetry was so highly valued by the Italians that they unanimously agreed to confer upon the author a laurel crown. This was a revival of the old Greek method of honoring poets, and as such it was felt by the Italians a specially fitting way to proclaim their reviving interest in art. So a great public gathering was arranged at Rome, and the laurel was with elaborate ceremonies placed on Petrarch's brow.

The recipient of this new and distinguished honor is regarded as second only to Dante in Italian literature. In addition to his world-famed sonnets to Laura, he wrote much-admired Latin poems, and was a scholar of high repute. His enthusiasm for the ancient Greek and Latin authors made him the central figure in that revival of classic learning which at this time began in Italy.

PETRARCH, who lives in the memory of most people nowadays chiefly as a great Italian poet, owed his fame among his contemporaries far rather to the fact that he was a kind of living representative of antiquity, that he imitated all styles of Latin poetry, endeavored by his voluminous historical and philosophical writings not to supplant, but to make known, the works of the ancients, and wrote letters that, as treatises on matters of antiquarian interest, obtained a reputation which to us is unintelligible, but which was natural enough in an age without hand-books. Petrarch himself trusted and hoped that his Latin94 writings would bring him fame with his contemporaries and with posterity, and thought so little of his Italian poems that, as he often tells us, he would gladly have destroyed them if he could have succeeded thereby in blotting them out from the memory of men.

It was the same with Boccaccio. For two centuries, when but little was known of the Decameron north of the Alps, he was famous all over Europe simply on account of his Latin compilations on mythology, geography, and biography. One of these, de Genealogia Deorum, contains in the fourteenth and fifteenth books a remarkable appendix, in which he discusses the position of the then youthful humanism with regard to the age. We must not be misled by his exclusive references to poesia, as closer observation shows that he means thereby the whole mental activity of the poet-scholars. This it is whose enemies he so vigorously combats—the frivolous ignoramuses who have no soul for anything but debauchery; the sophistical theologian to whom Helicon, the Castalian fountain, and the grove of Apollo were foolishness; the greedy lawyers, to whom poetry was a superfluity, since no money was to be made by it; finally the mendicant friars, described periphrastically, but clearly enough, who made free with their charges of paganism and immorality. Then follow the defence of poetry, the proof that the poetry of the ancients and of their modern followers contains nothing mendacious, the praise of it, and especially of the deeper and allegorical meanings which we must always attribute to it, and of that calculated obscurity which is intended to repel the dull minds of the ignorant.

And finally, with a clear reference to his own scholarly work, the writer justifies the new relation in which his age stood to paganism. The case was wholly different, he pleads, when the Early Church had to fight its way among the heathen. Now—praised be Jesus Christ!—true religion was strengthened, paganism destroyed, and the victorious Church in possession of the hostile camp. It was now possible to touch and study paganism almost (fere) without danger. Boccaccio, however, did not hold this liberal view consistently. The ground of his apostasy lay partly in the mobility of his character, partly in the still powerful and widespread prejudice that classical pursuits were unbecoming95 in a theologian. To these reasons must be added the warning given him in the name of the dead Pietro Petroni by the monk Gioacchino Ciani to give up his pagan studies under pain of early death. He accordingly determined to abandon them, and was only brought back from this cowardly resolve by the earnest exhortations of Petrarch, and by the latter's able demonstration that humanism was reconcilable with religion.

There was thus a new cause in the world, and a new class of men to maintain it. It is idle to ask if this cause ought not to have stopped short in its career of victory, to have restrained itself deliberately, and conceded the first place to purely national elements of culture. No conviction was more firmly rooted in the popular mind than that antiquity was the highest title to glory which Italy possessed.

There was a symbolical ceremony familiar to this generation of poet-scholars which lasted on into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, though losing the higher sentiment which inspired it—the coronation of the poets with the laurel wreath. The origin of this system in the Middle Ages is obscure, and the ritual of the ceremony never became fixed. It was a public demonstration, an outward and visible expression of literary enthusiasm, and naturally its form was variable. Dante, for instance, seems to have understood it in the sense of a half-religious consecration; he desired to assume the wreath in the baptistery of San Giovanni, where, like thousands of other Florentine children, he had received baptism. He could, says his biographer, have anywhere received the crown in virtue of his fame, but desired it nowhere but in his native city, and therefore died uncrowned. From the same source we learn that the usage was till then uncommon, and was held to be inherited by the ancient Romans from the Greeks. The most recent source to which the practices could be referred is to be found in the Capitoline contests of musicians, poets, and other artists, founded by Domitian in imitation of the Greeks and celebrated every five years, which may possibly have survived for a time the fall of the Roman Empire; but as few other men would venture to crown themselves, as Dante desired to do, the question arises, To whom did this office belong? Albertino Mussato was crowned at Padua in 1310 by the Bishop and the rector of the university.

96The University of Paris, the rector of which was then a Florentine, 1341, and the municipal authorities of Rome competed for the honor of crowning Petrarch. His self-elected examiner, King Robert of Anjou, would gladly have performed the ceremony at Naples, but Petrarch preferred to be crowned on the Capitol by the senator of Rome. This honor was long the highest object of ambition, and so it seemed to Jacobus Pizinga, an illustrious Sicilian magistrate. Then came the Italian journey of Charles IV, whom it amused to flatter the vanity of ambitious men, and impress the ignorant multitude by means of gorgeous ceremonies. Starting from the fiction that the coronation of poets was a prerogative of the old Roman emperors, and consequently was no less his own, he crowned, May 15, 1355, the Florentine scholar Zanobi della Strada at Pisa, to the annoyance of Petrarch, who complained that the barbarian laurel had dared adorn the man loved by the Ausonian muses, and to the great disgust of Boccaccio, who declined to recognize this laurea Pisana as legitimate. Indeed, it might be fairly asked with what right this stranger, half Slavonic by birth, came to sit in judgment on the merits of Italian poets. But from henceforth the emperors crowned poets whenever they went on their travels; and in the fifteenth century the popes and other princes assumed the same right, till at last no regard whatever was paid to place or circumstances.

Outside the sphere of scientific investigation, there is another way to draw near to nature. The Italians are the first among modern peoples by whom the outward world was seen and felt as something beautiful. The power to do so is always the result of a long and complicated development, and its origin is not easily detected, since a dim feeling of this kind may exist long before it shows itself in poetry and painting, and thereby becomes conscious of itself. Among the ancients, for example, art and poetry had gone through the whole circle of human interests before they turned to the representation of nature, and even then the latter filled always a limited and subordinate place. And yet, from the time of Homer downward, the powerful impression made by nature upon man is shown by countless verses and chance expressions. The Germanic races which founded their states on the ruins of the Roman Empire were thoroughly97 and specially fitted to understand the spirit of natural scenery; and though Christianity compelled them for a while to see in the springs and mountains, in the lakes and woods, which they had till then revered, the working of evil demons, yet this transitional conception was soon outgrown.

By the year 1200, at the height of the Middle Ages, a genuine, hearty enjoyment of the external world was again in existence, and found lively expression in the minstrelsy of different nations, which gives evidence of the sympathy felt with all the simple phenomena of nature—spring with its flowers, the green fields, and the woods. But these pictures are all foreground, without perspective. Even the crusaders, who travelled so far and saw so much, are not recognizable as such in these poems. The epic poetry, which describes armor and costumes so fully, does not attempt more than a sketch of outward nature; and even the great Wolfram von Eschenbach scarcely anywhere gives us an adequate picture of the scene on which his heroes move. From these poems it would never be guessed that their noble authors in all countries inhabited or visited lofty castles, commanding distant prospects. Even in the Latin poems of the wandering clerks, we find no traces of a distant view—of landscape properly so called; but what lies near is sometimes described with a glow and splendor which none of the knightly minstrels can surpass.

To the Italian mind, at all events, nature had by this time lost its taint of sin, and had shaken off all trace of demoniacal powers. St. Francis of Assisi, in his Hymn to the Sun, frankly praises the Lord for creating the heavenly bodies and the four elements.

The unmistakable proofs of a deepening effect of nature on the human spirit begin with Dante. Not only does he awaken in us by a few vigorous lines the sense of the morning airs and the trembling light on the distant ocean, or of the grandeur of the storm-beaten forest, but he makes the ascent of lofty peaks, with the only possible object of enjoying the view—the first man, perhaps, since the days of antiquity who did so. In Boccaccio we can do little more than infer how country scenery affected him; yet his pastoral romances show his imagination to have been filled with it.

98But the significance of nature for a receptive spirit is fully and clearly displayed by Petrarch—one of the first truly modern men. That clear soul—who first collected from the literature of all countries evidence of the origin and progress of the sense of natural beauty, and himself, in his Ansichten der Natur, achieved the noblest masterpiece of description—Alexander von Humboldt, has not done full justice to Petrarch; and, following in the steps of the great reaper, we may still hope to glean a few ears of interest and value.

Petrarch was not only a distinguished geographer—the first map of Italy is said to have been drawn by his direction—and not only a reproducer of the sayings of the ancients, but felt himself the influence of natural beauty. The enjoyment of nature is, for him, the favorite accompaniment of intellectual pursuits; it was to combine the two that he lived in learned retirement at Vaucluse and elsewhere, that he from time to time fled from the world and from his age. We should do him wrong by inferring from his weak and undeveloped power of describing natural scenery that he did not feel it deeply. His picture, for instance, of the lovely Gulf of Spezzia and Porto Venere, which he inserts at the end of the sixth book of the Africa, for the reason that none of the ancients or moderns had sung of it, is no more than a simple enumeration, but the descriptions in letters to his friends of Rome, Naples, and other Italian, cities in which he willingly lingered, are picturesque and worthy of the subject. Petrarch is also conscious of the beauty of rock scenery, and is perfectly able to distinguish the picturesqueness from the utility of nature. During his stay among the woods of Reggio, the sudden sight of an impressive landscape so affected him that he resumed a poem which he had long laid aside. But the deepest impression of all was made upon him by the ascent of Mont Ventoux, near Avignon. An indefinable longing for a distant panorama grew stronger and stronger in him, till at length the accidental sight of a passage in Livy, where King Philip, the enemy of Rome, ascends the Haemus, decided him. He thought that what was not blamed in a gray-headed monarch might be well excused in a young man of private station.

The ascent of a mountain for its own sake was unheard of, and there could be no thought of the companionship of friends99 or acquaintances. Petrarch took with him only his younger brother and two country people from the last place where he halted. At the foot of the mountain an old herdsman besought him to turn back, saying that he himself had attempted to climb it fifty years before, and had brought home nothing but repentance, broken bones, and torn clothes, and that neither before nor after had anyone ventured to do the same. Nevertheless, they struggled forward and upward, till the clouds lay beneath their feet, and at last they reached the top. A description of the view from the summit would be looked for in vain, not because the poet was insensible to it, but, on the contrary, because the impression was too overwhelming. His whole past life, with all its follies, rose before his mind; he remembered that ten years ago that day he had quitted Bologna a young man, and turned a longing gaze toward his native country; he opened a book which then was his constant companion, the Confessions of St. Augustine, and his eye fell on the passage in the tenth chapter, "and men go forth, and admire lofty mountains and broad seas and roaring torrents and the ocean and the course of the stars, and forget their own selves while doing so." His brother, to whom he read these words, could not understand why he closed the book and said no more.

Some decades later, about 1360, Fazio degli Uberti describes, in his rhyming geography, the wide panorama from the mountains of Auvergne, with the interest, it is true, of the geographer and antiquarian only, but still showing clearly that he himself had seen it. He must, however, have ascended higher peaks, since he is familiar with facts which only occur at a height of ten thousand feet or more above the sea—mountain-sickness and its accompaniments—of which his imaginary comrade Solinus tries to cure him with a sponge dipped in essence. The ascents of Parnassus and Olympus, of which he speaks, are perhaps only fictions.

In the fifteenth century, the great masters of the Flemish school, Hubert and Johann van Eyck, suddenly lifted the veil from nature. Their landscapes are not merely the fruit of an endeavor to reflect the real world in art, but have, even if expressed conventionally, a certain poetical meaning—in short, a soul. Their influence on the whole art of the West is undeniable,100 and extended to the landscape-painting of the Italians, but without preventing the characteristic interest of the Italian eye for nature from finding its own expression.

On this point, as in the scientific description of nature, Æneas Sylvius is again one of the most weighty voices of his time. Even if we grant the justice of all that has been said against his character, we must, nevertheless, admit that in few other men was the picture of the age and its culture so fully reflected, and that few came nearer to the normal type of the men of the early Renaissance. It may be added parenthetically that even in respect to his moral character he will not be fairly judged if we listen solely to the complaints of the German Church, which his fickleness helped to balk of the council it so ardently desired.

He here claims our attention as the first who not only enjoyed the magnificence of the Italian landscape, but described it with enthusiasm down to its minutest details. The ecclesiastical state and the South of Tuscany—his native home—he knew thoroughly, and after he became pope he spent his leisure during the favorable season chiefly in excursions to the country. Then at last the gouty man was rich enough to have himself carried in a litter through the mountains and valleys; and when we compare his enjoyments with those of the popes who succeeded him, Pius, whose chief delight was in nature, antiquity, and simple but noble architecture, appears almost a saint. In the elegant and flowing Latin of his Commentaries he freely tells us of his happiness.

His eye seems as keen and practised as that of any modern observer. He enjoys with rapture the panoramic splendor of the view from the summit of the Alban hills—from the Monte Cavo—whence he could see the shores of St. Peter from Terracina and the promontory of Circe as far as Monte Argentaro, and the wide expanse of country round about, with the ruined cities of the past, and with the mountain chains of central Italy beyond; and then his eye would turn to the green woods in the hollows beneath, and the mountain lakes among them. He feels the beauty of the position of Todi, crowning the vineyards and olive-clad slopes, looking down upon distant woods and upon the valley of the Tiber, where towns and castles rise above the winding101 river. The lovely hills about Siena, with villas and monasteries on every height, are his own home, and his descriptions of them are touched with a peculiar feeling. Single picturesque glimpses charm him, too, like the little promontory of Capo di Monte that stretches out into the Lake of Bolsena. "Rocky steps," we read, "shaded by vines, descend to the water's edge, where the evergreen oaks stand between the cliffs, alive with the song of thrushes." On the path round the Lake of Nemi, beneath the chestnuts and fruit-trees, he feels that here, if anywhere, a poet's soul must awake—here in the hiding-place of Diana! He often held consistories or received ambassadors under huge old chestnut-trees, or beneath the olives on the greensward by some gurgling spring. A view like that of a narrowing gorge, with a bridge arched boldly over it, awakens at once his artistic sense. Even the smallest details give him delight through something beautiful, or perfect, or characteristic in them—the blue fields of waving flax, the yellow gorge which covers the hills, even tangled thickets, or single trees, or springs, which seem to him like wonders of nature.

The height of his enthusiasm for natural beauty was reached during his stay on Monte Amiata, in the summer of 1462, when plague and heat made the lowlands uninhabitable. Half way up the mountain, in the old Lombard monastery of San Salvatore, he and his court took up their quarters. There, between the chestnuts which clothe the steep declivity, the eye may wander over all Southern Tuscany, with the towers of Siena in the distance. The ascent of the highest peak he left to his companions, who were joined by the Venetian envoy; they found at the top two vast blocks of stone one upon the other—perhaps the sacrificial altar of a prehistorical people—and fancied that in the far distance they saw Corsica and Sardinia rising above the sea.

In the cool air of the hills, among the old oaks and chestnuts, on the green meadows where there were no thorns to wound the feet and no snakes or insects to hurt or to annoy, the Pope passed days of unclouded happiness. For the segnatura, which took place on certain days of the week, he selected on each occasion some new shady retreat "novas in convallibus fontes et novas inveniens umbras, quæ dubiam jacerent electionem." At such times102 the dogs would perhaps start a great stag from his lair, who, after defending himself a while with hoofs and antlers, would fly at last up the mountain. In the evening the Pope was accustomed to sit before the monastery on the spot from which the whole valley of the Paglia was visible, holding lively conversations with the cardinals. The courtiers, who ventured down from the heights on their hunting expeditions, found the heat below intolerable, and the scorched plains like a very hell, while the monastery, with its cool, shady woods, seemed like an abode of the blessed.

All this is genuine modern enjoyment, not a reflection of antiquity. As surely as the ancients themselves felt in the same manner, so surely, nevertheless, were the scanty expressions of the writers whom Pius knew insufficient to awaken in him such enthusiasm.

The second great age of Italian poetry, which now followed at the end of the fifteenth century, as well as the Latin poetry of the same period, is rich in proofs of the powerful effect of nature on the human mind. The first glance at the lyric poets of that time will suffice to convince us. Elaborate descriptions, it is true, of natural scenery are very rare, for the reason that, in this energetic age, the novels and the lyric or epic poetry had something else to deal with. Bojardo and Ariosto paint nature vigorously, but as briefly as possible, and with no effort to appeal by their descriptions to the feelings of the reader, which they endeavor to reach solely by their narrative and characters.

Letter-writers and the authors of philosophical dialogues are, in fact, better evidences of the growing love of nature than the poets. The novelist Bandello, for example, observes rigorously the rules of his department of literature; he gives us in his novels themselves not a word more than is necessary on the natural scenery amid which the action of his tales takes place, but in the dedications which always precede them we meet with charming descriptions of nature as the setting for his dialogues and social pictures. Among letter-writers, Aretino unfortunately must be named as the first who has fully painted in words the splendid effect of light and shadow in an Italian sunset.

We sometimes find the feeling of the poets, also, attaching itself with tenderness to graceful scenes of country life. Tito103 Strozza, about the year 1480, describes in a Latin elegy the dwelling of his mistress. We are shown an old ivy-clad house, half hidden in trees, and adorned with weather-stained frescoes of the saints, and near it a chapel, much damaged by the violence of the river Po, which flowed hard by; not far off, the priest ploughs his few barren roods with borrowed cattle. This is no reminiscence of the Roman elegists, but true modern sentiment.

It may be objected that the German painters at the beginning of the sixteenth century succeed in representing with perfect mastery these scenes of country life, as, for instance, Albrecht Durer, in his engraving of the prodigal son. But it is one thing if a painter, brought up in a school of realism, introduces such scenes, and quite another thing if a poet, accustomed to an ideal or mythological framework, is driven by inward impulse into realism. Besides which, priority in point of time is here, as in the descriptions of country life, on the side of the Italian poets.



A.D. 1347


When for nearly forty years Rome had been deserted by the popes, who had betaken themselves in 1309 to a long residence at Avignon, France, and when the Eternal City was virtually without an imperial government—the Teutonic emperors having likewise abandoned her—she fell back upon the memories of her great past, recalling the glories of her ancient supremacy and the means whereby it had been established and maintained. Whatever might promise to restore it she was ready to welcome.

At this time the real masters of Rome were the princes or barons dwelling in their fortified castles outside or in their strong palaces within the city. Over the northern district, near the Quirinal, reigned the celebrated old family of the Colonnas; while along the Tiber, from the Campo-di-Fiore to the Church of St. Peter, extended the sway of the new family of the Orsini. Other members of the nobility, in the country, held their seats in small fortified cities or castles. Under such domination Rome had become almost deserted. "The population of the seven-hilled city had come down to about thirty thousand souls." When at peace with one another—which was rarely—the barons exercised over the citizens and serfs a combined tyranny, while the farmers, travellers, and pilgrims were made victims of their plunder. At this period Petrarch—that "first modern man"—wrote to Pope Clement VI that Rome had become the abode of demons, the receptacle of all crimes, a hell for the living.

"It was in these circumstances that a momentary revival of order and liberty was effected by the most extraordinary adventurer of an age that was prolific in adventurers." This was Cola Di Rienzi, who was born in Rome about 1313, and who is sometimes styled "an Italian patriot." In his ambitious endeavor to reinstate the Cæsarean power in Italy he appears alternately in the figure of a hero and the character of a charlatan. Believing himself the founder of a new era, he was inflamed by his successes, and ended in "mystical extravagances and follies which could not fail to cause his ruin."

COLA DI RIENZI was born of humble parents, though he afterward tried to gratify his own vanity and to gain the ear of Charles IV by claiming to be the bastard son of Henry VII. A wrong which he could not venture to avenge excited105 his bitter hostility against the baronage, while the study of Livy and other classical writers inspired him with regretful admiration for the glories of ancient Rome.

He succeeded in attracting notice by his personal beauty and by the rather turgid eloquence which was his chief talent. In 1342 he took the most prominent part in an embassy from the citizens to Clement VI; and though he failed to induce the Pope to return to Rome, which at that time he seems to have regarded as the panacea for the evils of the time, he gained sufficient favor at Avignon to be appointed papal notary.

From this time he deliberately set himself to raise the people to open resistance against their oppressors, while he disarmed the suspicions of the nobles by intentional buffoonery and extravagance of conduct. On May 20, 1347, the first blow was struck. Rienzi, with a chosen band of conspirators, and accompanied by the papal vicar, who had every interest in weakening the baronage, proceeded to the Capitol, and, amid the applause of the mob, promulgated the laws of the buono stato.

He himself took the title of tribune, in order to emphasize his championship of the lower classes. The most important of his laws were for the maintenance of order. Private garrisons and fortified houses were forbidden. Each of the thirteen districts was to maintain an armed force of a hundred infantry and twenty-five horsemen. Every port was provided with a cruiser for the protection of merchandise, and the trade on the Tiber was to be secured by a river police.

The nobles watched the progress of this astonishing revolution with impotent surprise. Stefano Colonna, who was absent on the eventful day, expressed his scorn of the mob and their leader. But a popular attack on his palace convinced him of his error and forced him to fly from the city. Within fifteen days the triumph of Rienzi seemed to be complete, when the proudest nobles of Rome submitted and took an oath to support the new constitution. But the suddenness of his success was enough to turn a head which was never of the strongest.

The Tribune began to dream of restoring to the Roman Republic its old supremacy. And for a moment even this dream seemed hardly chimerical. Europe was really dazzled by the revival of its ancient capital. Louis of Hungary and Joanna of106 Naples submitted their quarrel to Rienzi's arbitration. Thus encouraged, he set no bounds to his ambition. He called upon the Pope and cardinals to return at once to Rome. He summoned Louis and Charles, the two claimants to the Imperial dignity, to appear before his throne and submit to his tribunal.

His arrogance was shown in the pretentious titles which he assumed and in the gorgeous pomp with which he was accompanied on public and even on private occasions. On August 15th, after bathing in the porphyry font in which the emperor Constantine had been baptized, he was crowned with seven crowns representing the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. His most loyal admirer prophesied disaster when the Tribune ventured on this occasion to blasphemously compare himself with Christ.

Rienzi's government deteriorated with his personal character. It had at first been liberal and just; it became arbitrary and even treacherous. His personal timidity made him at once harsh and vacillating. The heads of the great families, whom he had invited to a banquet, were seized and condemned to death on a charge of conspiracy. But a sudden terror of the possible consequences of his action caused him to relent, and he released his victims just as they were preparing for execution. His leniency was as ill-timed as his previous severity. The nobles could no longer trust him, and their fear was diminished by the weakness which they despised while they profited by it. They retired from Rome and concerted measures for the overthrow of their enemy.

The first attack, which was led by Stefano Colonna, was repulsed almost by accident; but Rienzi, who had shown more cowardice than generalship, disgusted his supporters by his indecent exultation over the bodies of the slain. And there was one fatal ambiguity in Rienzi's position. He had begun by announcing himself as the ally and champion of the papacy, and Clement VI had been willing enough to stand by and watch the destruction of the baronage. But the growing independence and the arrogant pretensions of the Tribune exasperated the Pope. A new legate was despatched to Italy to denounce and excommunicate Rienzi as a heretic. The latter had no longer any support to lean upon. When a new attack was threatened, the people sullenly refused to obey the call to arms. Rienzi had107 not sufficient courage to risk a final struggle. On December 15th he abdicated and retired in disguise from Rome. His rise to power, his dazzling triumph, and his downfall were all comprised within the brief period of seven months.

For the next few years Rienzi disappeared from view. According to his own account he was concealed in a cave in the Apennines, where he associated with some of the wilder members of the sect of the Fraticelli and probably imbibed some of their tenets. Rome relapsed into anarchy, and men's minds were distracted from politics by the ravages of the black death. The great jubilee held in Rome in 1350 became a kind of thanksgiving service of those whom the plague had spared.

It is said that Rienzi himself visited the scene of his exploits without detection among the crowds of pilgrims. But he was destined to reappear in a more public and disastrous manner. In his solitude his courage and his ambition revived, and he meditated new plans for restoring freedom to Rome and to Italy. The allegiance to the Church, which he had professed in 1347, was weakened by the conduct of Clement VI and by the influence of the Fraticelli, and he resolved in the future to ally himself with the secular rather than with the ecclesiastical power, with the Empire rather than with the papacy. In August, 1351, he appeared in disguise in Prague and demanded an audience of Charles IV. To him he proposed the far-reaching scheme which he had formed during his exile.

The Pope and the whole body of clergy were to be deprived of their temporal power; the petty tyrants of Italy were to be driven out; and the Emperor was to fix his residence in Rome as the supreme ruler of Christendom. All this was to be accomplished by Rienzi himself at his own cost and trouble. Charles IV listened with some curiosity to a man whose career had excited such universal interest, but he was the last man to be carried away by such chimerical suggestions.

The introduction into the political proposals of some of the religious and communistic ideas of the Fraticelli gave the Emperor a pretext for committing Rienzi to the Archbishop of Prague for correction and instruction. The Archbishop communicated with the Pope, and on the demand of Clement VI Charles agreed to hand Rienzi over to the papal court on condition108dition that his life should be spared. In 1352 Rienzi was conveyed to Avignon and thrust into prison. He owed his life perhaps less to the Emperor's request than to the opportune death of Clement VI in this year.

The new Pope, Innocent VI, was more independent of French control than his immediate predecessors. The French King was fully occupied with internal disorders and with the English war. Thus the Pope was able to give more attention to Italian politics, which were sufficiently pressing. The independence and anarchy of the Papal States constituted a serious problem, but the danger of their subjection to a foreign power was still more serious. In 1350 the important city of Bologna had been seized by the Visconti of Milan, and the progress of this powerful family threatened to absorb the whole of the Romagna. Innocent determined to resist their encroachments and at the same time to restore the papal authority, and in 1353 he intrusted this double task to Cardinal Albornoz.

Albornoz, equally distinguished as a diplomatist and as a military commander, resolved to ally the cause of the papacy with that of liberty. His programme was to overthrow the tyrants as the enemies both of the people and of the popes, and to restore municipal self-government under papal protection. His attention was first directed to the city of Rome, which, after many vicissitudes since 1347, had fallen under the influence of a demagogue named Baroncelli.

Baroncelli had revived to some extent the schemes of Rienzi, but had declared openly against papal rule. To oppose this new tribune, Albornoz conceived the project of using the influence of Rienzi, whose rule was now regretted by the populace that had previously deserted him. The Pope was persuaded to release Rienzi from prison and to send him to Rome, where the effect of his presence was almost magical. The Romans flocked to welcome their former liberator, and he was reinstalled in power with the title of senator, conferred upon him by the Pope. But his character was not improved by adversity, and his rule was more arbitrary and selfish than it had been before.

The execution of the condottiere, Fra Moreale, was an act of ingratitude as well as of treachery. Popular favor was soon alienated from a ruler who could no longer command either109 affection or respect, and, in a mob rising, Rienzi was put to death, October 8, 1354. But his return had served the purpose of Albornoz. Rome was preserved to the papacy, and the cardinal could proceed in safety with his task of subduing the independent tyrants of Romagna.

Central Italy had not yet witnessed the general introduction of mercenaries, and the native populations still fought their own battles. The policy of exciting revolts among the subject citizens was completely successful, and by 1360 almost the whole of Romagna had submitted to the papal legate. His triumph was crowned in this year, when, by skilful use of quarrels among the Visconti princes, he succeeded in recovering Bologna.



Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century


The new birth or resurrection known as the "Renaissance" is usually considered to have begun in Italy in the fourteenth century, though some writers would date its origin from the reign of Frederick II, 1215-1250; and by this Prince—the most enlightened man of his age—it was at least anticipated. Well versed in languages and science, he was a patron of scholars, whom he gathered about him, from all parts of the world, at his court in Palermo.

At all events the Renaissance was heralded through the recovery by Italian scholars of Greek and Roman classical literature. When the movement began, the civilization of Greece and Rome had long been exerting a partial influence, not only upon Italy, but on other parts of mediæval Europe as well. But in Italy especially, when the wave of barbarism had passed, the people began to feel a returning consciousness of their ancient culture, and a desire to reproduce it. To Italians the Latin language was easy, and their country abounded in documents and monumental records which symbolized past greatness.

The modern Italian spirit was produced through the combination of various elements, among which were the political institutions brought by the Lombards from Germany, the influence of chivalry and other northern forms of civilization, and the more immediate power of the Church. That which was foreshadowed in the thirteenth century became in the fourteenth a distinct national development, which, as Symonds, its most discerning interpreter, shows us, was constructing a model for the whole western world.

THE word "renaissance" has of late years received a more extended significance than that which is implied in our English equivalent—the "revival of learning." We use it to denote the whole transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world; and though it is possible to assign certain limits to the period during which this transition took place, we cannot fix on any dates so positively as to say between this year and that the movement was accomplished. To do so would be like trying to111 name the days on which spring in any particular season began and ended. Yet we speak of spring as different from winter and from summer.

The truth is that in many senses we are still in mid-Renaissance. The evolution has not been completed. The new life is our own and is progressive. As in the transformation scene of some pantomime, so here the waning and the waxing shapes are mingled; the new forms, at first shadowy and filmy, gain upon the old; and now both blend; and now the old scene fades into the background; still, who shall say whether the new scene be finally set up?

In like manner we cannot refer the whole phenomena of the Renaissance to any one cause or circumstance, or limit them within the field of any one department of human knowledge. If we ask the students of art what they mean by the Renaissance, they will reply that it was the revolution effected in architecture, painting, and sculpture by the recovery of antique monuments. Students of literature, philosophy, and theology see in the Renaissance that discovery of manuscripts, that passion for antiquity, that progress in philology and criticism, which led to a correct knowledge of the classics, to a fresh taste in poetry, to new systems of thought, to more accurate analysis, and finally to the Lutheran schism and the emancipation of the conscience. Men of science will discourse about the discovery of the solar system by Copernicus and Galileo, the anatomy of Vesalius, and Harvey's theory of the circulation of the blood. The origination of a truly scientific method is the point which interests them most in the Renaissance. The political historian, again, has his own answer to the question. The extinction of feudalism, the development of the great nationalities of Europe, the growth of monarchy, the limitation of the ecclesiastical authority, and the erection of the papacy into an Italian kingdom, and in the last place the gradual emergence of that sense of popular freedom which exploded in the Revolution: these are the aspects of the movement which engross his attention.

Jurists will describe the dissolution of legal fictions based upon the False Decretals, the acquisition of a true text of the Roman code, and the attempt to introduce a rational method into the theory of modern iurisprudence, as well as to commence112 the study of international law. Men whose attention has been turned to the history of discoveries and inventions will relate the exploration of America and the East, or will point to the benefits conferred upon the world by the arts of printing and engraving, by the compass and the telescope, by paper and by gunpowder; and will insist that at the moment of the Renaissance all the instruments of mechanical utility started into existence, to aid the dissolution of what was rotten and must perish, to strengthen and perpetuate the new and useful and life-giving.

Yet neither any one of these answers, taken separately, nor indeed all of them together, will offer a solution of the problem. By the term "renaissance," or new birth, is indicated a natural movement, not to be explained by this or that characteristic, but to be accepted as an effort of humanity for which at length the time had come, and in the onward progress of which we still participate. The history of the Renaissance is not the history of arts or of sciences or of literature or even of nations. It is the history of the attainment of self-conscious freedom by the human spirit manifested in the European races. It is no mere political mutation, no new fashion of art, no restoration of classical standards of taste. The arts and the inventions, the knowledge and the books which suddenly became vital at the time of the Renaissance, had long lain neglected on the shores of the dead sea which we call the Middle Ages. It was not their discovery which caused the Renaissance. But it was the intellectual energy, the spontaneous outburst of intelligence, which enabled mankind at that moment to make use of them. The force then generated still continues, vital and expansive, in the spirit of the modern world.

How was it, then, that at a certain period, about fourteen centuries after Christ, to speak roughly, humanity awoke as it were from slumber and began to live? That is a question which we can but imperfectly answer. The mystery of organic life defeats analysis. Whether the subject of our inquiry be a germ-cell, or a phenomenon so complex as the commencement of a new religion, or the origination of a new disease, or a new phase in civilization, it is alike impossible to do more than to state the conditions under which the fresh growth begins, and to113 point out what are its manifestations. In doing so, moreover, we must be careful not to be carried away by words of our own making. Renaissance, Reformation, and Revolution are not separate things, capable of being isolated; they are moments in the history of the human race which we find it convenient to name; while history itself is one and continuous, so that our utmost endeavors to regard some portion of it, independently of the rest, will be defeated.

A glance at the history of the preceding centuries shows that, after the dissolution of the fabric of the Roman Empire, there was no possibility of any intellectual revival. The barbarous races which had deluged Europe had to absorb their barbarism; the fragments of Roman civilization had either to be destroyed or assimilated; the Germanic nations had to receive culture and religion from the effete people they had superseded. It was further necessary that the modern nationalities should be defined, that the modern languages should be formed, that peace should be secured to some extent, and wealth accumulated, before the indispensable milieu for a resurrection of the free spirit of humanity could exist. The first nation which fulfilled these conditions was the first to inaugurate the new era. The reason why Italy took the lead in the Renaissance was that Italy possessed a language, a favorable climate, political freedom, and commercial prosperity, at a time when other nations Were still semibarbarous. Where the human spirit had been buried in the decay of the Roman Empire, there it arose upon the ruins of that Empire; and the papacy—- called by Hobbes the ghost of the dead Roman Empire, seated, throned, and crowned, upon the ashes thereof—to some extent bridged over the gulf between the two periods.

Keeping steadily in sight the truth that the real quality of the Renaissance was intellectual—that it was the emancipation of the reason for the modern world—we may inquire how feudalism was related to it. The mental condition of the Middle Ages was one of ignorant prostration before the idols of the Church—dogma and authority and scholasticism. Again, the nations of Europe during these centuries were bound down by the brute weight of material necessities. Without the power over the outer world which the physical sciences and useful arts114 communicate, without the ease of life which wealth and plenty secure, without the traditions of a civilized past, emerging slowly from a state of utter rawness, each nation could barely do more than gain and keep a difficult hold upon existence. To depreciate the work achieved for humanity during the Middle Ages would be ridiculous. Yet we may point out that it was done unconsciously—that it was a gradual and instinctive process of becoming. The reason, in a word, was not awake; the mind of man was ignorant of its own treasures and its own capacities. It is pathetic to think of the mediæval students poring over a single ill-translated sentence of Porphyry, endeavoring to extract from its clauses whole systems of logical science, and torturing their brains about puzzles more idle than the dilemma of Buridan's donkey, while all the time, at Constantinople and at Seville, in Greek and Arabic, Plato and Aristotle were alive, but sleeping, awaiting only the call of the Renaissance to bid them speak with voice intelligible to the modern mind. It is no less pathetic to watch tide after tide of the ocean of humanity sweeping from all parts of Europe, to break in passionate but unavailing foam upon the shores of Palestine, whole nations laying life down for the chance of seeing the walls of Jerusalem, worshipping the sepulchre whence Christ had risen, loading their fleet with relics and with cargoes of the sacred earth, while all the time, within their breasts and brains, the spirit of the Lord was with them, living but unrecognized, the spirit of freedom which ere long was destined to restore its birthright to the world.

Meanwhile the Middle Age accomplished its own work. Slowly and obscurely, amid stupidity and ignorance, were being forged the nations and the languages of Europe. Italy, France, Spain, England, Germany took shape. The actors of the future drama acquired their several characters, and formed the tongues whereby their personalities should be expressed. The qualities which render modern society different from that of the ancient world were being impressed upon these nations by Christianity, by the Church, by chivalry, by feudal customs. Then came a further phase. After the nations had been moulded, their monarchies and dynasties were established. Feudalism passed by slow degrees into various forms of more or less defined autocracy.115 In Italy and Germany numerous principalities sprang into preëminence; and though the nation was not united under one head, the monarchical principle was acknowledged. France and Spain submitted to a despotism, by right of which the king could say, "L'état c'est moi." England developed her complicated constitution of popular right and royal prerogative. At the same time the Latin Church underwent a similar process of transformation. The papacy became more autocratic. Like the king the pope began to say, "L'Église c'est moi." This merging of the mediæval state and mediæval church in the personal supremacy of king and pope may be termed the special feature of the last age of feudalism which preceded the Renaissance. It was thus that the necessary milieu was prepared. The organization of the five great nations, and the levelling of political and spiritual interests under political and spiritual despots, formed the prelude to that drama of liberty of which the Renaissance was the first act, the Reformation the second, the Revolution the third, and which we nations of the present are still evolving in the establishment of the democratic idea.

Meanwhile it must not be imagined that the Renaissance burst suddenly upon the world in the fifteenth century without premonitory symptoms. Far from that, within the Middle Age itself, over and over again, the reason strove to break loose from its fetters. Abelard, in the twelfth century, tried to prove that the interminable dispute about entities and words was founded on a misapprehension. Roger Bacon, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, anticipated modern science, and proclaimed that man, by use of nature, can do all things. Joachim of Flora, intermediate between the two, drank one drop of the cup of prophecy offered to his lips, and cried that "the gospel of the Father was past, the gospel of the Son was passing, the gospel of the Spirit was to be." These three men, each in his own way, the Frenchman as a logician, the Englishman as an analyst, the Italian as a mystic, divined the future but inevitable emancipation of the reason of mankind. Nor were there wanting signs, especially in Provence, that Aphrodite and Phœbus and the Graces were ready to resume their sway. We have, moreover, to remember the Cathari, the Paterini, the Franticelli, the Albigenses, the Hussites—heretics in whom the new116 light dimly shone, but who were instantly exterminated by the Church.

We have to commemorate the vast conception of the emperor Frederick II, who strove to found a new society of humane culture in the South of Europe, and to anticipate the advent of the spirit of modern tolerance. He, too, and all his race were exterminated by the papal jealousy. Truly we may say with Michelet that the sibyl of the Renaissance kept offering her books in vain to feudal Europe. In vain, because the time was not yet. The ideas projected thus early on the modern world were immature and abortive, like those headless trunks and zoöphytic members of half-moulded humanity which, in the vision of Empedocles, preceded the birth of full-formed man. The nations were not ready. Franciscans imprisoning Roger Bacon for venturing to examine what God had meant to keep secret; Dominicans preaching crusades against the cultivated nobles of Provence; popes stamping out the seed of enlightened Frederick; Benedictines erasing the masterpieces of classical literature to make way for their own litanies and lurries, or selling pieces of the parchment for charms; a laity devoted by superstition to saints and by sorcery to the devil; a clergy sunk in sensual sloth or fevered with demoniac zeal—these still ruled the intellectual destinies of Europe. Therefore the first anticipations of the Renaissance were fragmentary and sterile.

Then came a second period. Dante's poem, a work of conscious art, conceived in a modern spirit and written in a modern tongue, was the first true sign that Italy, the leader of the nations of the West, had shaken off her sleep. Petrarch followed. His ideal of antique culture as the everlasting solace and the universal education of the human race, his lifelong effort to recover the classical harmony of thought and speech, gave a direct impulse to one of the chief movements of the Renaissance—its passionate outgoing toward the ancient world. After Petrarch, Boccaccio opened yet another channel for the stream of freedom. His conception of human existence as a joy to be accepted with thanksgiving, not as a gloomy error to be rectified by suffering, familiarized the fourteenth century with that form of semipagan gladness that marked the real Renaissance.

In Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio Italy recovered the consciousness117 of intellectual liberty. What we call the Renaissance had not yet arrived; but their achievement rendered its appearance in due season certain. With Dante the genius of the modern world dared to stand alone and to create confidently after its own fashion. With Petrarch the same genius reached forth across the gulf of darkness, resuming the tradition of a splendid past. With Boccaccio the same genius proclaimed the beauty of the world, the goodliness of youth, and strength and love and life, unterrified by hell, unappalled by the shadow of impending death.

It was now, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, when Italy had lost, indeed, the heroic spirit which we admire in her communes of the thirteenth, but had gained instead ease, wealth, magnificence, and that repose which springs from long prosperity, that the new age at last began. Europe was, as it were, a fallow field, beneath which lay buried the civilization of the Old World. Behind stretched the centuries of mediævalism, intellectually barren and inert. Of the future there were as yet but faint foreshadowings. Meanwhile, the force of the nations who were destined to achieve the coming transformation was unexhausted, their physical and mental faculties were unimpaired. No ages of enervating luxury, of intellectual endeavor, of life artificially preserved or ingeniously prolonged, had sapped the fibre of the men who were about to inaugurate the modern world. Severely nurtured, unused to delicate living, these giants of the Renaissance were like boys in their capacity for endurance, their inordinate appetite for enjoyment. No generations, hungry, sickly, effete, critical, disillusioned, trod them down. Ennui and the fatigue that springs from scepticism, the despair of thwarted effort, were unknown. Their fresh and unperverted senses rendered them keenly alive to what was beautiful and natural. They yearned for magnificence and instinctively comprehended splendor. At the same time the period of satiety was still far off.

Everything seemed possible to their young energy; nor had a single pleasure palled upon their appetite. Born, as it were, at the moment when desires and faculties are evenly balanced, when the perceptions are not blunted, nor the senses cloyed, opening their eyes for the first time on a world of wonder, these118 men of the Renaissance enjoyed what we may term the first transcendent springtide of the modern world. Nothing is more remarkable than the fulness of the life that throbbed in them. Natures rich in all capacities and endowed with every kind of sensibility were frequent. Nor was there any limit to the play of personality in action. We may apply to them what Browning has written of Sordello's temperament:

"A football there Suffices to upturn to the warm air Half-germinating spices, mere decay Produces richer life, and day by day New pollen on the lily-petal grows, And still more labyrinthine buds the rose."

During the Middle Ages man had lived enveloped in a cowl. He had not seen the beauty of the world, or had seen it only to cross himself, and turn aside and tell his beads and pray. Like St. Bernard travelling along the shores of Lake Leman, and noticing neither the azure of the waters nor the luxuriance of the vines, nor the radiance of the mountains with their robe of sun and snow, but bending a thought-burdened forehead over the neck of his mule—even like this monk, humanity had passed, a careful pilgrim, intent on the terrors of sin, death, and judgment, along the highways of the world, and had not known that they were sightworthy, or that life is a blessing. Beauty is a snare, pleasure a sin, the world a fleeting show, man fallen and lost, death the only certainty, judgment inevitable, hell everlasting, heaven hard to win, ignorance is acceptable to God as a proof of faith and submission, abstinence and mortification are the only safe rules of life—these were the fixed ideas of the ascetic mediæval Church. The Renaissance shattered and destroyed them, rending the thick veil which they had drawn between the mind of man and the outer world, and flashing the light of reality upon the darkened places of his own nature. For the mystic teaching of the Church was substituted culture in the classical humanities; a new ideal was established, whereby man strove to make himself the monarch of the globe on which it is his privilege as well as destiny to live. The Renaissance was the liberation of humanity from a dungeon, the double discovery of the outer and the inner world.

119An external event determined the direction which this outburst of the spirit of freedom should take. This was the contact of the modern with the ancient mind, which followed upon what is called the Revival of Learning. The fall of the Greek empire in 1453, while it signalized the extinction of the old order, gave an impulse to the now accumulated forces of the new. A belief in the identity of the human spirit under all manifestations was generated. Men found that in classical as well as biblical antiquity existed an ideal of human life, both moral and intellectual, by which they might profit in the present. The modern genius felt confidence in its own energies when it learned what the ancients had achieved. The guesses of the ancients stimulated the exertions of the moderns. The whole world's history seemed once more to be one.

The great achievements of the Renaissance were the discovery of the world and the discovery of man. Under these two formulas may be classified all the phenomena which properly belong to this period. The discovery of the world divides itself into two branches—the exploration of the globe, and that systematic exploration of the universe which is in fact what we call science. Columbus made known America in 1492; the Portuguese rounded the Cape in 1497; Copernicus explained the solar system in 1507. It is not necessary to add anything to this plain statement, for, in contact with facts of such momentous import, to avoid what seems like commonplace reflection would be difficult. Yet it is only when we contrast the ten centuries which preceded these dates with the four centuries which have ensued that we can estimate the magnitude of that Renaissance movement by means of which a new hemisphere has been added to civilization.

In like manner, it is worth while to pause a moment and consider what is implied in the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system. The world, regarded in old times as the centre of all things, the apple of God's eye, for the sake of which were created sun and moon and stars, suddenly was found to be one of the many balls that roll round a giant sphere of light and heat, which is itself but one among innumerable suns, attended each by a cortége of planets, and scattered—how, we know not—through infinity. What has become of that120 brazen seat of the old gods, that paradise to which an ascending Deity might be caught up through clouds, and hidden for a moment from the eyes of his disciples? The demonstration of the simplest truths of astronomy destroyed at a blow the legends that were most significant to the early Christians by annihilating their symbolism. Well might the Church persecute Galileo for his proof of the world's mobility. Instinctively she perceived that in this one proposition was involved the principle of hostility to her most cherished conceptions, to the very core of her mythology.

Science was born, and the warfare between scientific positivism and religious metaphysics was declared. Henceforth God could not be worshipped under the forms and idols of a sacerdotal fancy; a new meaning had been given to the words "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The reason of man was at last able to study the scheme of the universe, of which he is a part, and to ascertain the actual laws by which it is governed. Three centuries and a half have elapsed since Copernicus revolutionized astronomy. It is only by reflecting on the mass of knowledge we have since acquired, knowledge not only infinitely curious, but also incalculably useful in its application to the arts of life, and then considering how much ground of this kind was acquired in the ten centuries which preceded the Renaissance, that we are at all able to estimate the expansive force which was then generated. Science, rescued from the hands of astrology, geomancy, alchemy, began her real life with the Renaissance. Since then, as far as to the present moment, she has never ceased to grow. Progressive and durable, science may be called the first-born of the spirit of the modern world.

Thus by the discovery of the world is meant on the one hand the appropriation by civilized humanity of all corners of the habitable world, and on the other the conquest by science of all that we now know about the nature of the universe. In the discovery of man, again, it is possible to trace a twofold process. Man in his temporal relations, illustrated by pagan antiquity, and man in his spiritual relations, illustrated by biblical antiquity: these are the two regions, at first apparently distinct, afterward found to be interpenetrative, which the critical and121 inquisitive genius of the Renaissance opened for investigation. In the former of these regions we find two agencies at work—art and scholarship. During the Middle Ages the plastic arts, like philosophy, had degenerated into barren and meaningless scholasticism—a frigid reproduction of lifeless forms copied technically and without inspiration from debased patterns. Pictures became symbolically connected with the religious feelings of the people, formulas from which to deviate would be impious in the artist and confusing to the worshipper. Superstitious reverence bound the painter to copy the almond eyes and stiff joints of the saints whom he had adored from infancy; and, even had it been otherwise, he lacked the skill to imitate the natural forms he saw around him.

But with the dawning of the Renaissance a new spirit in the arts arose. Men began to conceive that the human body is noble in itself and worthy of patient study. The object of the artist then became to unite devotional feeling and respect for the sacred legend with the utmost beauty and the utmost fidelity of delineation. He studied from the nude; he drew the body in every posture; he composed drapery, invented attitudes, and adapted the action of his figures and the expression of his faces to the subject he had chosen. In a word, he humanized the altar-pieces and the cloister frescoes upon which he worked. In this way the painters rose above the ancient symbols and brought heaven down to earth. By drawing Madonna and her son like living human beings, by dramatizing the Christian history, they silently substituted the love of beauty and the interests of actual life for the principles of the Church. The saint or angel became an occasion for the display of physical perfection, and to introduce un bel corpo ignudo into the composition was of more moment to them than to represent the macerations of the Magdalen. Men thus learned to look beyond the relique and the host, and to forget the dogma in the lovely forms which gave it expression. Finally, when the classics came to aid this work of progress, a new world of thought and fancy, divinely charming, wholly human, was revealed to their astonished eyes.

Thus art, which had begun by humanizing the legends of the Church, diverted the attention of its students from the122 legend to the work of beauty, and lastly, severing itself from the religious tradition, became the exponent of the majesty and splendor of the human body. This final emancipation of art from ecclesiastical trammels culminated in the great age of Italian painting. Gazing at Michelangelo's prophets in the Sistine Chapel, we are indeed in contact with ideas originally religious. But the treatment of these ideas is purely, broadly human, on a level with that of the sculpture of Phidias. Titian's "Virgin Received into Heaven," soaring midway between the archangel who descends to crown her and the apostles who yearn to follow her, is far less a Madonna Assunta than the apotheosis of humanity conceived as a radiant mother. Throughout the picture there is nothing ascetic, nothing mystic, nothing devotional. Nor did the art of the Renaissance stop here. It went further, and plunged into paganism. Sculptors and painters combined with architects to cut the arts loose from their connection with the Church by introducing a spirit and a sentiment alien to Christianity.

Through the instrumentality of art, and of all the ideas which art introduced into daily life, the Renaissance wrought for the modern world a real resurrection of the body which, since the destruction of the pagan civilization, had lain swathed up in hair-shirts and cerements within the tomb of the mediæval cloister. It was scholarship which revealed to men the wealth of their own minds, the dignity of human thought, the value of human speculation, the importance of human life regarded as a thing apart from religious rules and dogmas. During the Middle Ages a few students had possessed the poems of Vergil and the prose of Boethius—and Vergil at Mantua, Boethius at Pavia, had actually been honored as saints—together with fragments of Lucan, Ovid, Statius, Cicero, and Horace. The Renaissance opened to the whole reading public the treasure-houses of Greek and Latin literature. At the same time the Bible, in its original tongues, was rediscovered. Mines of oriental learning were laid bare for the students of the Jewish and Arabic traditions. What we may call the Aryan and the Semitic revelations were for the first time subjected to something like a critical comparison. With unerring instinct the men of the Renaissance named the voluminous subject-matter of scholarship123 Litteræ Humaniores ("the more human literature"), the literature that humanizes.

There are three stages in the history of scholarship during the Renaissance. The first is the age of passionate desire. Petrarch poring over a Homer he could not understand, and Boccaccio in his maturity learning Greek, in order that he might drink from the well-head of poetic inspiration, are the heroes of this period. They inspired the Italians with a thirst for antique culture. Next comes the age of acquisition and of libraries. Nicholas V, who founded the Vatican Library in 1453, Cosmo de' Medici, who began the Medicean collection a little earlier, and Poggio Bracciolini, who ransacked all the cities and convents of Europe for manuscripts, together with the teachers of Greek, who in the first half of the fifteenth century escaped from Constantinople with precious freights of classic literature, are the heroes of this second period. It was an age of accumulation, of uncritical and indiscriminate enthusiasm. Manuscripts were worshipped by these men, just as the reliques of the Holy Land had been adored by their great-grandfathers. The eagerness of the crusades was revived in this quest of the holy grail of ancient knowledge. Waifs and strays of pagan authors were valued like precious gems, revelled in like odoriferous and gorgeous flowers, consulted like oracles of God, gazed on like the eyes of a beloved mistress. The good, the bad, and the indifferent received an almost equal homage. Criticism had not yet begun. The world was bent on gathering up its treasures, frantically bewailing the lost books of Livy, the lost songs of Sappho—absorbing to intoxication the strong wine of multitudinous thoughts and passions that kept pouring from those long buried amphoræ of inspiration.

What is most remarkable about this age of scholarship is the enthusiasm which pervaded all classes in Italy for antique culture. Popes and princes, captains of adventure and peasants, noble ladies and the leaders of the demi-monde alike became scholars. There is a story told by Infessura which illustrates the temper of the times with singular felicity. On April 18, 1485, a report circulated in Rome that some Lombard workmen had discovered a Roman sarcophagus while digging on the Appian Way. It was a marble tomb, engraved with the inscription124 "Julia, Daughter of Claudius," and inside the coffer lay the body of a most beautiful girl of fifteen years, preserved by precious unguents from corruption and the injury of time. The bloom of youth was still upon her cheeks and lips; her eyes and mouth were half open; her long hair floated round her shoulders. She was instantly removed—so goes the legend—to the Capitol; and then began a procession of pilgrims from all the quarters of Rome to gaze upon this saint of the old pagan world. In the eyes of those enthusiastic worshippers, her beauty was beyond imagination or description. She was far fairer than any woman of the modern age could hope to be. At last Innocent VIII feared lest the orthodox faith should suffer by this new cult of a heathen corpse. Julia was buried secretly and at night by his direction, and naught remained in the Capitol but her empty marble coffin. The tale, as told by Infessura, is repeated in Matarazzo and in Nantiporto with slight variations. One says that the girl's hair was yellow, another that it was of the glossiest black. What foundation for the legend may really have existed need not here be questioned. Let us rather use the mythus as a parable of the ecstatic devotion which prompted the men of that age to discover a form of unimaginable beauty in the tomb of the classic world.

Then came the third age of scholarship—the age of the critics, philologers, and printers. What had been collected by Poggio and Aurispa had now to be explained by Ficino, Poliziano, and Erasmus. They began their task by digesting and arranging the contents of the libraries. There were then no short cuts of learning, no comprehensive lexicons, no dictionaries of antiquities, no carefully prepared thesauri of mythology and history. Each student had to hold in his brain the whole mass of classical erudition. The text and the canon of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and the tragedians had to be decided. Greek type had to be struck. Florence, Venice, Basel, and Paris groaned with printing-presses. The Aldi, the Stephani, and Froben toiled by night and day, employing scores of scholars, men of supreme devotion and of mighty brain, whose work it was to ascertain the right reading of sentences, to accentuate, to punctuate, to commit to the press, and to place, beyond the reach of monkish hatred or of envious time, that everlasting125 solace of humanity which exists in the classics. All subsequent achievements in the field of scholarship sink into insignificance beside the labors of these men, who needed genius, enthusiasm, and the sympathy of Europe for the accomplishment of their titanic task. Vergil was printed in 1470, Homer in 1488, Aristotle in 1498, Plato in 1512. They then became the inalienable heritage of mankind. But what vigils, what anxious expenditure of thought, what agonies of doubt and expectation, were endured by those heroes of humanizing scholarship, whom we are apt to think of merely as pedants! Which of us now warms and thrills with emotion at hearing the name of Aldus Manutius or of Henricus Stephanus or of Johannes Froben? Yet this we surely ought to do; for to them we owe in a great measure the freedom of our spirit, our stores of intellectual enjoyment, our command of the past, our certainty of the future of human culture.

This third age in the history of the Renaissance scholarship may be said to have reached its climax in Erasmus; for by this time Italy had handed on the torch of learning to the northern nations. The publication of his Adagia in 1500 marks the advent of a more critical and selective spirit, which from that date onward has been gradually gaining strength in the modern mind. Criticism, in the true sense of accurate testing and sifting, is one of the points which distinguish the moderns from the ancients; and criticism was developed by the process of assimilation, comparison, and appropriation, which was necessary in the growth of scholarship. The ultimate effect of this recovery of classic culture was, once and for all, to liberate the intellect. The modern world was brought into close contact with the free virility of the ancient world, and emancipated from the thraldom of improved traditions. The force to judge and the desire to create were generated. The immediate result in the sixteenth century was an abrupt secession of the learned, not merely from monasticism, but also from the true spirit of Christianity. The minds of the Italians assimilated paganism. In their hatred of mediæval ignorance, in their loathing of cowled and cloistered fools, they flew to an extreme, and affected the manner of an irrevocable past. This extravagance led of necessity to a reaction—in the North, of Puritanism; in the South, to what126 has been termed the Counter-Reformation effected under Spanish influences in the Latin Church. But Christianity, that most precious possession of the modern world, was never seriously imperilled by the classical enthusiasm of the Renaissance; nor, on the other hand, was the progressive emancipation of the reason materially retarded by the reaction it produced.

The transition at this point to the third branch in the discovery of man, the revelation to the consciousness of its own spiritual freedom, is natural. Not only did scholarship restore the classics and encourage literary criticism; it also restored the text of the Bible, and encouraged theological criticism. In the wake of theological freedom followed a free philosophy, no longer subject to the dogmas of the Church. To purge the Christian faith from false conceptions, to liberate the conscience from the tyranny of priests, and to interpret religion to the reason, has been the work of the last centuries; nor is this work as yet by any means accomplished. On the one side, Descartes and Bacon and Spinoza and Locke are sons of the Renaissance, champions of new-found philosophical freedom; on the other side, Luther is a son of the Renaissance, the herald of new-found religious freedom. The whole movement of the Reformation is a phase in that accelerated action of the modern mind which at its commencement we call the Renaissance. It is a mistake to regard the Reformation as an isolated phenomenon, or as a mere effort to restore the Church to purity. The Reformation exhibits, in the region of religious thought and national politics, what the Renaissance displays in the sphere of culture, art, and science—the recovered energy and freedom of humanity. We are too apt to treat of history in parcels, and to attempt to draw lessons from detached chapters in the biography of the human race. To observe the connection between the several stages of a progressive movement of the human spirit, and to recognize that the forces at work are still active, is the true philosophy of history.

The Reformation, like the revival of science and of culture, had its mediæval anticipations and foreshadowings. The heretics whom the Church successfully combated in North Italy, in France, and in Bohemia were the precursors of Luther. The scholars prepared the way in the fifteenth century. Teachers127 of Hebrew, founders of Hebrew type—Reuchlin in Germany, Alexander in Paris, Von Hutten as a pamphleteer, and Erasmus as a humanist—contribute each a definite momentum. Luther, for his part, incarnates the spirit of revolt against tyrannical authority, urges the necessity of a return to the essential truth of Christianity as distinguished from the idols of the Church, and asserts the right of the individual to judge, interpret, criticise, and construct opinion for himself. The veil which the Church had interposed between humanity and God was broken down. The freedom of the conscience was established. The principles involved in what we call the Reformation were momentous. Connected on the one side with scholarship and the study of texts, it opened the path for modern biblical criticism. Connected on the other side with intolerance of mere authority, it led to what has since been named rationalism—the attempt to reconcile the religious tradition with the reason, and to define the logical ideas that underlie the conceptions of the popular religious conscience. Again, by promulgating the doctrine of personal freedom, and by connecting itself with national politics, the Reformation was linked historically to the Revolution. It was the Puritan Church in England, stimulated by the patriotism of the Dutch Protestants, which established our constitutional liberty and introduced in America the general principle of the equality of men. This high political abstraction, latent in Christianity, evolved by criticism, and promulgated as a gospel in the second half of the eighteenth century, was externalized in the French Revolution. The work that yet remains to be accomplished for the modern world is the organization of society in harmony with democratic principles.

Thus what the word Renaissance really means is new birth to liberty—the spirit of mankind recovering consciousness and the power of self-determination, recognizing the beauty of the outer world and of the body through art, liberating the reason in science and the conscience in religion, restoring culture to the intelligence, and establishing the principle of political freedom. The Church was the schoolmaster of the Middle Ages. Culture was the humanizing and refining influence of the Renaissance. The problem for the present and the future is how, through education, to render culture accessible to all—to break down that128 barrier which in the Middle Ages was set between clerk and layman, and which in the intermediate period has arisen between the intelligent and ignorant classes. Whether the Utopia of a modern world in which all men shall enjoy the same social, political, and intellectual advantages be realized or not, we cannot doubt that the whole movement of humanity, from the Renaissance onward, has tended in this direction. To destroy the distinctions, mental and physical, which nature raises between individuals, and which constitute an actual hierarchy, will always be impossible. Yet it may happen that in the future no civilized man will lack the opportunity of being physically and mentally the best that God has made him.

It remains to speak of the instruments and mechanical inventions which aided the emancipation of the spirit in the modern age. Discovered over and over again, and offered at intervals to the human race at various times and on divers soils, no effective use was made of these material resources until the fifteenth century. The compass, discovered according to tradition by Gioja of Naples in 1302, was employed by Columbus for the voyage to America in 1492. The telescope, known to the Arabians in the Middle Ages, and described by Roger Bacon in 1250, helped Copernicus to prove the revolution of the earth in 1530, and Galileo to substantiate his theory of the planetary system. Printing, after numerous useless revelations to the world of its resources, became an art in 1438; and paper, which had long been known to the Chinese, was first made of cotton in Europe about 1000 and of rags in 1319. Gunpowder entered into use about 1320. As employed by the Genius of the Renaissance, each one of these inventions became a lever by means of which to move the world. Gunpowder revolutionized the art of war. The feudal castle, the armor of the knight and his battle-horse, the prowess of one man against a hundred, and the pride of aristocratic cavalry trampling upon ill-armed militia, were annihilated by the flashes of the cannon. Courage became more a moral than a physical quality. The victory was delivered to the brain of the general. Printing has established, as indestructible, all knowledge, and disseminated, as the common property of everyone, all thought; while paper has made the work of printing cheap. Such reflections as these, however,129 are trite and must occur to every mind. It is far more to the purpose to repeat that not the inventions, but the intelligence that used them, the conscious calculating spirit of the modern world, should rivet our attention when we direct it to the phenomena of the Renaissance.

In the work of the Renaissance all the great nations of Europe shared. But it must never be forgotten that, as a matter of history, the true Renaissance began in Italy. It was there that the essential qualities which distinguish the modern from the ancient and the mediæval world were developed. Italy created that new spiritual atmosphere of culture and of intellectual freedom which has been the life-breath of the European races. As the Jews are called the chosen and peculiar people of divine revelation, so may the Italians be called the chosen and peculiar vessels of the prophecy of the Renaissance. In art, in scholarship, in science, in the mediation between antique culture and the modern intellect, they took the lead, handing to Germany and France and England the restored humanities complete. Spain and England have since done more for the exploration and colonization of the world. Germany achieved the labor of the Reformation almost single-handed. France has collected, centralized, and diffused intelligence with irresistible energy. But if we return to the first origins of the Renaissance, we find that, at a time when the rest of Europe was inert, Italy had already begun to organize the various elements of the modern spirit, and to set the fashion whereby the other great nations should learn and live.



A.D. 1348


Different parts of the oriental world have been mentioned as the probable locality of the first appearance of the plague or pestilence known as the "black death," but its origin is most generally referred to China, where, at all events, it raged violently about 1333, when it was accompanied at its outbreak by terrestrial and atmospheric phenomena of a destructive character, such as are said to have attended the first appearance of Asiatic cholera and other spreading and deadly diseases; from which it has been conjectured that through these convulsions deleterious foreign substances may have been projected into the atmosphere.

But while for centuries the nature and causes of the black death have been subjects of medical inquiry in all countries, it remained for our own time to discover a more scientific explanation than those previously advanced. The malady is now identified by pathologists with the bubonic plague, which at intervals still afflicts India and other oriental lands, and has in recent years been a cause of apprehension at more than one American seaport.

It is called bubonic—from the Greek boubon ("groin")—because it attacks the lymphatic glands of the groins, armpits, neck, and other parts of the body. Among its leading symptoms are headache, fever, vertigo, vomiting, prostration, etc., with dark purple spots or a mottled appearance upon the skin. Death in severe cases usually occurs within forty-eight hours. Bacteriologists are now generally agreed that the disorder is due to a bacillus identified by investigators both in India and in western countries.

The first historic appearance of the black death in Europe was at Constantinople, A.D. 543. But far more widespread and terrible were its ravages in the fourteenth century, when they were almost world-wide. Of the dreadful visitation in Europe then, we are fortunate to have the striking account of Dr. Hecker, which follows.

The name "black death" was given to the disease in the more northern parts of Europe—from the dark spots on the skin above mentioned—while in Italy it was called la mortalega grande ("the great mortality"). 131From Italy came almost the only credible accounts of the manner of living, and of the ruin caused among the people in their more private life, during the pestilence; and the subjoined account of what was seen in Florence is of special interest as being from no less an eye-witness than Boccaccio.


THE nature of the first plague in China is unknown. We have no certain intelligence of the disease until it entered the western countries of Asia. Here it showed itself as the oriental plague with inflammation of the lungs; in which form it probably also may have begun in China—that is to say, as a malady which spreads, more than any other, by contagion; a contagion that in ordinary pestilences requires immediate contact, and only under unfavorable circumstances of rare occurrence is communicated by the mere approach to the sick.

The share which this cause had in the spreading of the plague over the whole earth was certainly very great; and the opinion that the black death might have been excluded from Western Europe, by good regulations, similar to those which are now in use, would have all the support of modern experience, provided it could be proved that this plague had been actually imported from the East; or that the oriental plague in general, whenever it appears in Europe, has its origin in Asia or Egypt. Such a proof, however, can by no means be produced so as to enforce conviction. The plague was, however, known in Europe before nations were united by the bonds of commerce and social intercourse; hence there is ground for supposing that it sprung up spontaneously, in consequence of the rude manner of living and the uncultivated state of the earth; influences which peculiarly favor the origin of severe diseases. We need not go back to the earlier centuries, for the fourteenth itself, before it had half expired, was visited by five or six pestilences.

If, therefore, we consider the peculiar property of the plague, that in countries which it has once visited it remains for a long time in a milder form, and that the epidemic influences of 1342, when it had appeared for the last time, were particularly favorable to its unperceived continuance, till 1348, we come to the notion that in this eventful year also, the germs of plague existed in Southern Europe, which might be vivified by atmospherical132 deteriorations. Thus, at least in part, the black plague may have originated in Europe itself. The corruption of the atmosphere came from the East; but the disease itself came not upon the wings of the wind, but was only excited and increased by the atmosphere where it had previously existed.

This source of the black plague was not, however, the only one; for, far more powerful than the excitement of the latent elements of the plague by atmospheric influences was the effect of the contagion communicated from one people to another, on the great roads, and in the harbors of the Mediterranean. From China, the route of the caravans lay to the north of the Caspian Sea, through Central Asia to Tauris. Here ships were ready to take the produce of the East to Constantinople, the capital of commerce and the medium of connection between Asia, Europe, and Africa. Other caravans went from India to Asia Minor, and touched at the cities south of the Caspian Sea, and lastly from Bagdad, through Arabia to Egypt; also the maritime communication on the Red Sea, from India to Arabia and Egypt, was not inconsiderable. In all these directions contagion made its way; and doubtless Constantinople and the harbors of Asia Minor are to be regarded as the foci of infection; whence it radiated to the most distant seaports and islands.

To Constantinople the plague had been brought from the northern coast of the Black Sea, after it had depopulated the countries between those routes of commerce and appeared as early as 1347, in Cyprus, Sicily, Marseilles, and some of the seaports of Italy. The remaining islands of the Mediterranean, particularly Sardinia, Corsica, and Majorca, were visited in succession. Foci of contagion existed also in full activity along the whole southern coast of Europe; when, in January, 1348, the plague appeared in Avignon, and in other cities in the South of France and North of Italy, as well as in Spain.

The precise days of its eruption in the individual towns are no longer to be ascertained; but it was not simultaneous; for in Florence the disease appeared in the beginning of April; in Cesena, the 1st of June; and place after place was attacked throughout the whole year; so that the plague, after it had passed through the whole of France and Germany, where, however, it did not make its ravages until the following year, did not break133 out till August in England; where it advanced so gradually that a period of three months elapsed before it reached London. The northern kingdoms were attacked by it in 1349; Sweden, indeed, not until November of that year, almost two years after its eruption in Avignon. Poland received the plague in 1349, probably from Germany, if not from the northern countries; but in Russia it did not make its appearance until 1351, more than three years after it had broken out in Constantinople. Instead of advancing in a northwesterly direction from Tauris and from the Caspian Sea, it had thus made the great circuit of the Black Sea, by way of Constantinople, Southern and Central Europe, England, the northern kingdoms and Poland, before it reached the Russian territories; a phenomenon which has not again occurred with respect to more recent pestilences originating in Asia.

We have no certain measure by which to estimate the ravages of the black plague. Let us go back for a moment to the fourteenth century. The people were yet but little civilized. Human life was little regarded; governments concerned not themselves about the numbers of their subjects, for whose welfare it was incumbent on them to provide. Thus, the first requisite for estimating the loss of human life—namely, a knowledge of the amount of the population—is altogether wanting.

Cairo lost daily, when the plague was raging with its greatest violence, from ten thousand to fifteen thousand, being as many as, in modern times, great plagues have carried off during their whole course. In China, more than thirteen millions are said to have died; and this is in correspondence with the certainly exaggerated accounts from the rest of Asia. India was depopulated. Tartary, the Tartar kingdom of Kaptschak, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, were covered with dead bodies; the Kurds fled in vain to the mountains. In Caramania and Cæsarea, none was left alive. On the roads, in the camps, in the caravansaries, unburied bodies were seen; and a few cities only remained, in an unaccountable manner, free. In Aleppo, five hundred died daily; twenty-two thousand people and most of the animals were carried off in Gaza within six weeks. Cyprus lost almost all its inhabitants; and ships without crews were often seen in the Mediterranean, as afterward in the North Sea,134 driving about and spreading the plague wherever they went on shore. It was reported to Pope Clement, at Avignon, that throughout the East, probably with the exception of China, twenty-three million eight hundred and forty thousand people had fallen victims to the plague.

Lubeck, which could no longer contain the multitudes that flocked to it, was thrown into such consternation on the eruption of the plague that the citizens destroyed themselves, as if in frenzy. When the plague ceased, men thought they were still wandering among the dead, so appalling was the livid aspect of the survivors, in consequence of the anxiety they had undergone, and the unavoidable infection of the air. Many other cities probably presented a similar appearance; and small country towns and villages, estimated at two hundred thousand population, were bereft of all their inhabitants.

In many places in France not more than two out of twenty of the inhabitants were left alive. Two queens, one bishop, and great numbers of other distinguished persons fell a sacrifice to it, and more than five hundred a day died in the Hôtel-Dieu, under the faithful care of the religious women, whose disinterested courage, in this age of horror, displayed the most beautiful traits of human virtue.

The church-yards were soon unable to contain the dead, and many houses, left without inhabitants, fell to ruins. In Avignon, the Pope found it necessary to consecrate the Rhone, that bodies might be thrown into the river without delay, as the church-yards would no longer hold them.

In Vienna, where for some time twelve hundred inhabitants died daily, the interment of corpses in the church-yards and within the churches as forthwith prohibited, and the dead were then arranged in layers, by thousands, in six large pits outside the city. In many places it was rumored that plague patients were buried alive, and thus the horror of the distressed people was everywhere increased. In Erfurt, after the church-yards were filled, twelve thousand corpses were thrown into eleven great pits; and the like might be stated with respect to all the larger cities. Funeral ceremonies, the last consolation of the survivors, were everywhere impracticable.

In all Germany there seem to have died only one million135 two hundred and forty-four thousand four hundred and thirty-four inhabitants; this country, however, was more spared than others. Italy was most severely visited. It is said to have lost half its inhabitants; in Sardinia and Corsica, according to the account of John Villani, who was himself carried off by the black plague, scarcely a third part of the population remained alive; and the Venetians engaged ships at a high rate to retreat to the islands; so that, after the plague had carried off three-fourths of her inhabitants, their proud city was left forlorn and desolate. In Florence it was prohibited to publish the numbers of the dead and to toll the bells at their funerals, in order that the living might not abandon themselves to despair.

In England most of the great cities suffered incredible losses; above all, Yarmouth, in which seven thousand and fifty-two died; Bristol, Oxford, Norwich, Leicester, York, and London, where, in one burial-ground alone, there were interred upward of fifty thousand corpses, arranged in layers, in large pits. It is said that in the whole country scarcely a tenth part remained alive. Morals were deteriorated everywhere, and public worship was, in a great measure, laid aside, in many places the churches being bereft of their priests. The instruction of the people was impeded, covetousness became general; and when tranquillity was restored, the great increase of lawyers was astonishing, to whom the endless disputes regarding inheritances offered a rich harvest. The want of priests, too, throughout the country, operated very detrimentally upon the people. The lower classes were most exposed to the ravages of the plague, while the houses of the nobility were, in proportion, much more spared. The sittings of parliament, of the king's bench, and of most of the other courts were suspended as long as the malady raged.

Ireland was much less heavily visited than England. The disease seems to have scarcely reached the mountainous districts of that kingdom; and Scotland, too, would, perhaps, have remained free had not the Scots availed themselves of the misfortune of the English, to make an irruption into their territory, which terminated in the destruction of their army, by the plague and by the sword, and the extension of the pestilence, through those who escaped, over the whole country.

136In England the plague was soon accompanied by a fatal murrain among the cattle. Of what nature this murrain may have been can no more be determined than whether it originated from communication with the plague patients or from other causes. There was everywhere a great rise in the price of food. For a whole year, until it terminated in August, 1349, the black plague prevailed and everywhere poisoned the springs of comfort and prosperity. In other countries it generally lasted only half a year, but returned frequently in individual places. Spain was uninterruptedly ravaged by the black plague till after the year 1350, to which the frequent internal feuds and the wars with the Moors not a little contributed. Alfonso XI, whose passion for war carried him too far, died of it at the siege of Gibraltar, March 26, 1350. He was the only king in Europe who fell a sacrifice to it. The mortality seems to have been less in Spain than in Italy, and about as considerable as in France.

The whole period during which the black plague raged with destructive violence in Europe was, with the exception of Russia, from 1347 to 1350. The plagues which in the sequel often returned until 1383, we do not consider as belonging to the "great mortality."

The premature celebration of the Jubilee, to which Clement VI cited the faithful to Rome 1350, during the great epidemic, caused a new eruption of the plague, from which it is said that scarcely one in a hundred of the pilgrims escaped. Italy was, in consequence, depopulated anew; and those who returned spread poison and corruption of morals in all directions.

The changes which occurred about this period in the North of Europe are sufficiently memorable. In Sweden two princes died—Haken and Canute, half-brothers of King Magnus; and in Westgothland alone four hundred and sixty-six priests. The inhabitants of Iceland and Greenland found in the coldness of their inhospitable climate no protection against the southern enemy who had penetrated to them from happier countries. The plague wrought great havoc among them. In Denmark and Norway, however, people were so occupied with their own misery that the accustomed voyages to Greenland ceased.

In Russia the black plague did not break out until 1351,137 after it had already passed through the South and North of Europe. The mortality was extraordinarily great. In Russia, too, the voice of nature was silenced by fear and horror. In the hour of danger, fathers and mothers deserted their children, and children their parents.

Of all the estimates of the number of lives lost in Europe, the most probable is that altogether a fourth part of the inhabitants were carried off. It may be assumed, without exaggeration, that Europe lost during the black death twenty-five million inhabitants.

That her nations could so quickly recover from so fearful a visitation, and, without retrograding more than they actually did, could so develop their energies in the following century, is a most convincing proof of the indestructibility of human society as a whole. To assume, however, that it did not suffer any essential change internally, because in appearance everything remained as before, is inconsistent with a just view of cause and effect. Many historians seem to have adopted such an opinion; hence, most of them have touched but superficially on the "great mortality" of the fourteenth century. We for our part are convinced that in the history of the world the black death is one of the most important events which have prepared the way for the present state of Europe.

He who studies the human mind with attention, and forms a deliberate judgment on the intellectual powers which set people and states in motion, may, perhaps, find some proofs of this assertion in the following observations. At that time the advancement of the hierarchy was, in most countries, extraordinary; for the Church acquired treasures and large properties in land, even to a greater extent than after the crusades; but experience has demonstrated that such a state of things is ruinous to the people, and causes them to retrograde, as was evinced on this occasion.

After the cessation of the black plague, a greater fecundity in women was everywhere remarkable; marriages were prolific; and double and treble births were more frequent than at other times. After the "great mortality" the children were said to have got fewer teeth than before; at which contemporaries were mightily shocked, and even later writers have felt surprise.138 Some writers of authority published their opinions on this subject. Others copied from them, without seeing for themselves, and thus the world believed in the miracle of an imperfection in the human body which had been caused by the black plague.

The people gradually consoled themselves after the sufferings which they had undergone; the dead were lamented and forgotten; and in the stirring vicissitudes of existence the world belonged to the living.

The mental shock sustained by all nations during the prevalence of the black plague is without parallel and beyond description. In the eyes of the timorous, danger was the certain harbinger of death; many fell victims to fear on the first appearance of the distemper, and the most stout-hearted lost their confidence. The pious closed their accounts with the world; their only remaining desire was for a participation in the consolations of religion. Repentance seized the transgressor, admonishing him to consecrate his remaining hours to the exercise of Christian virtues. Children were frequently seen, while laboring under the plague, breathing out their spirit with prayer and songs of thanksgiving. An awful sense of contrition seized Christians everywhere; they resolved to forsake their vices, to make restitution for past offences, before they were summoned hence, to seek reconciliation with their Maker, and to avert, by self-chastisement, the punishment due to their former sins.

Human nature would be exalted could the countless noble actions which, in times of most imminent danger, were performed in secret, be recorded for future generations. They, however, have no influence on the course of worldly events. They are known only to silent eye-witnesses, and soon fall into oblivion. But hypocrisy, illusion, and bigotry stalk abroad undaunted; they desecrate what is noble, they pervert what is divine, to the unholy purposes of selfishness; which hurries along every good feeling in the false excitement of the age. Thus it was in the years of this plague.

In the fourteenth century the monastic system was still in its full vigor, the power of the religious orders and brotherhoods was revered by the people, and the hierarchy was still formidable to the temporal power. It was, therefore, in the natural constitution of society that bigoted zeal, which in such times139 makes a show of public acts of penance, should avail itself of the semblance of religion. But this took place in such a manner that unbridled, self-willed penitence degenerated into luke-warmness, renounced obedience to the hierarchy, and prepared a fearful opposition to the Church, paralyzed as it was by antiquated forms.

While all countries were filled with lamentations and woe, there first arose in Hungary, and afterward in Germany, the Brotherhood of the Flagellants, called also the Brethren of the Cross, or Cross-bearers, who took upon themselves the repentance of the people for the sins they had committed, and offered prayers and supplications for the averting of this plague. This order consisted chiefly of persons of the lower class, who were either actuated by sincere contrition or who joyfully availed themselves of this pretext for idleness and were hurried along with the tide of distracting frenzy. But as these brotherhoods gained in repute, and were welcomed by the people with veneration and enthusiasm, many nobles and ecclesiastics ranged themselves under their standard; and their bands were not unfrequently augmented by children, honorable women, and nuns.

They marched through the cities with leaders and singers, their heads covered as far as the eyes, their look fixed on the ground, with every token of contrition and mourning. They were robed in sombre garments, with red crosses on the breast, back, and cap, and bore triple scourges, tied in three or four knots, in which points of iron were fixed. Tapers and magnificent banners of velvet and cloth of gold were carried before them; wherever they made their appearance they were welcomed by the ringing of bells, and the people flocked from all quarters to listen to their hymns and witness their penance.

In 1349 two hundred Flagellants first entered Strasburg, where they were hospitably lodged by the citizens. Above a thousand joined the brotherhood, which now separated into two bodies, for the purpose of journeying to the north and to the south. Adults and children left their families to accompany them; till, at length, their sanctity was questioned and the doors of houses and churches were closed against them. At Spires two hundred boys, of twelve years of age and under, constituted themselves into a brotherhood of the Cross, in imitation of the140 children who, about a hundred years before, had united, at the instigation of some fanatic monks, for the purpose of recovering the Holy Sepulchre. All the inhabitants of this town were carried away by the delusion; they conducted the strangers to their houses with songs of thanksgiving, to regale them for the night. The women embroidered banners for them, and all were anxious to augment their pomp; and at every succeeding pilgrimage their influence and reputation increased.

All Germany, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia, Silesia, and Flanders did homage to them; and they at length became as formidable to the secular as to the ecclesiastical power. The influence of this fanaticism was great and threatening. The appearance, in itself, was not novel. As far back as the eleventh century many believers in Asia and Southern Europe afflicted themselves with the punishment of flagellation.

The author of the solemn processions of the Flagellants is said to have been St. Anthony of Padua (1231). In 1260 the Flagellants appeared in Italy as Devoti. "When the land was polluted by vices and crimes, an unexampled spirit of remorse suddenly seized the minds of the Italians. The fear of Christ fell upon all; noble and lowly, old and young, and even children of five years of age marched through the streets with no covering but a scarf round the waist. They each carried a scourge of leathern thongs, which they applied to their limbs, amid sighs and tears, with such violence that the blood flowed from the wounds. Not only during the day, but even by night and in the severest winter, they traversed the cities with burning torches and banners, in thousands and tens of thousands, headed by their priests, and prostrated themselves before the altars. The melancholy chant of the penitent alone was heard; enemies were reconciled; men and women vied with each other in splendid works of charity, as if they dreaded that divine omnipotence would pronounce on them the doom of annihilation."

But at length the priests resisted this dangerous fanaticism, without being able to extirpate the illusion, which was advantageous to the hierarchy, as long as it submitted to its sway.

The processions of the Brotherhood of the Cross undoubtedly promoted the spreading of the plague; and it is evident that141 the gloomy fanaticism which gave rise to them would infuse a new poison into the already desponding minds of the people.

Still, however, all this was within the bounds of barbarous enthusiasm; but horrible were the persecutions of the Jews, which were committed in most countries with even greater exasperation than in the twelfth century, during the first crusades. In every destructive pestilence the common people at first attribute the mortality to poison. On whom, then, was vengeance so likely to fall as on the Jews, the usurers and the strangers who lived at enmity with the Christians? They were everywhere suspected of having poisoned the wells52 or infected the air, and were pursued with merciless cruelty.

These bloody scenes, which disgraced Europe in the fourteenth century, are a counterpart to a similar mania of the age which was manifested in the persecutions of witches and sorcerers; and, like these, they prove that enthusiasm, associated with hatred and leagued with the baser passions, may work more powerfully upon whole nations than religion and legal order; nay, that it even knows how to profit by the authority of both, in order the more surely to satiate with blood the swords of long-suppressed revenge.

The persecution of the Jews commenced in September and October, 1348, at Chillon, on the Lake of Geneva, where the first criminal proceedings were instituted against them, after they had long before been accused by the people of poisoning the wells; similar scenes followed in Bern and in Freiburg, in 1349. Under the influence of excruciating suffering, the tortured Jews confessed themselves guilty of the crime imputed to them; and it being affirmed that poison had in fact been found in a well at Zofingen, this was deemed a sufficient proof to convince the world; and the persecution of the abhorred culprits thus appeared justifiable.

Already in the autumn of 1348 a dreadful panic, caused by this supposed poisoning, seized all nations; in Germany, especially, the springs and wells were built over, that nobody might drink of them or employ their contents for culinary purposes; 142and for a long time the inhabitants of numerous towns and villages used only river-and rain-water. The city gates were also guarded with the greatest caution: only confidential persons were admitted; and if medicine or any other article which might be supposed to be poisonous was found in the possession of a stranger—and it was natural that some should have these things by them for private use—he was forced to swallow a portion of it. By this trying state of privation, distrust, and suspicion the hatred against the supposed poisoners became greatly increased, and often broke out in popular commotions, which only served still further to infuriate the wildest passions.

The noble and the mean fearlessly bound themselves by an oath to extirpate the Jews by fire and sword, and to snatch them from their protectors, of whom the number was so small that throughout all Germany but few places can be mentioned where these unfortunate people were not regarded as outlaws and martyred and burned. Solemn summonses were issued from Bern to the towns of Basel, Freiburg in Breisgau, and Strasburg, to pursue the Jews as poisoners. The burgomasters and senators, indeed, opposed this requisition; but in Basel the populace obliged them to bind themselves by an oath to burn the Jews and to forbid persons of that community from entering their city for the space of two hundred years. Upon this, all the Jews in Basel, whose number could not have been inconsiderable, were enclosed in a wooden building, constructed for the purpose, and burned, together with it, upon the mere outcry of the people, without sentence or trial, which, indeed, would have availed them nothing. Soon after the same thing took place at Freiburg.

A regular diet was held at Bennefeld, in Alsace, where the bishops, lords, and barons, as also deputies of the counties and towns, consulted how they should proceed with regard to the Jews; and when the deputies of Strasburg—not, indeed, the bishop of this town, who proved himself a violent fanatic—spoke in favor of the persecuted, as nothing criminal was substantiated against them, a great outcry was raised, and it was vehemently asked why, if so, they had covered their wells and removed their buckets? A sanguinary decree was resolved upon, of which the populace, who obeyed the call of the nobles143 and superior clergy, became but the too willing executioners. Wherever the Jews were not burned they were at least banished; and so being compelled to wander about, they fell into the hands of the country people, who, without humanity and regardless of all laws, persecuted them with fire and sword.

At Eslingen, the whole Jewish community burned themselves in their synagogue; and mothers were often seen throwing their children on the pile, to prevent their being baptized, and then precipitating themselves into the flames. In short, whatever deeds fanaticism, revenge, avarice, and desperation, in fearful combination, could instigate mankind to perform, were executed in 1349, throughout Germany, Italy, and France, with impunity and in the eyes of all the world. It seemed as if the plague gave rise to scandalous acts and frantic tumults, not to mourning and grief; and the greater part of those who, by their education and rank, were called upon to raise the voice of reason, themselves led on the savage mob to murder and to plunder.

The humanity and prudence of Clement VI must on this occasion also be mentioned to his honor. He not only protected the Jews at Avignon, as far as lay in his power, but also issued two bulls in which he declared them innocent, and he admonished all Christians, though without success, to cease from such groundless persecutions. The emperor Charles IV was also favorable to them, and sought to avert their destruction wherever he could; but he dared not draw the sword of justice, and even found himself obliged to yield to the selfishness of the Bohemian nobles, who were unwilling to forego so favorable an opportunity of releasing themselves from their Jewish creditors, under favor of an imperial mandate. Duke Albert of Austria burned and pillaged those of his cities which had persecuted the Jews—a vain and inhuman proceeding which, moreover, is not exempt from the suspicion of covetousness; yet he was unable, in his own fortress of Kyberg, to protect some hundreds of Jews, who had been received there, from being barbarously burned by the inhabitants.

Several other princes and counts, among whom was Ruprecht of the Palatinate, took the Jews under their protection, on the payment of large sums; in consequence of which they were called "Jew-masters," and were in danger of being attacked144 by the populace and by their powerful neighbors. These persecuted and ill-used people—except, indeed, where humane individuals took compassion on them at their own peril, or when they could command riches to purchase protection—had no place of refuge left but the distant country of Lithuania, where Boleslav V, Duke of Poland, 1227-1279, had before granted them liberty of conscience; and King Casimir the Great, 1333-1370, yielding to the entreaties of Esther, a favorite Jewess, received them, and granted them further protection; on which account that country is still inhabited by a great number of Jews, who by their secluded habits have, more than any people in Europe, retained the manners of the Middle Ages.


When the evil had become universal in Florence, the hearts of all the inhabitants were closed to feelings of humanity. They fled from the sick and all that belonged to them, hoping by these means to save themselves. Others shut themselves up in their houses, with their wives, their children and households, living on the most costly food, but carefully avoiding all excess. None was allowed access to them; no intelligence of death or sickness was permitted to reach their ears; and they spent their time in singing and music and other pastimes.

Others, on the contrary, considered eating and drinking to excess, amusements of all descriptions, the indulgence of every gratification, and an indifference to what was passing around them as the best medicine, and acted accordingly. They wandered day and night from one tavern to another, and feasted without moderation or bounds. In this way they endeavored to avoid all contact with the sick, and abandoned their houses and property to chance, like men whose death-knell had already tolled.

Amid this general lamentation and woe, the influence and authority of every law, human and divine, vanished. Most of those who were in office had been carried off by the plague, or lay sick, or had lost so many members of their families that they were unable to attend to their duties; so that thenceforth everyone acted as he thought proper. Others, in their mode of living, chose a middle course. They ate and drank what145 they pleased, and walked abroad; carrying odoriferous flowers, herbs, or spices, which they smelt at from time to time, in order to invigorate the brain and to avert the baneful influence of the air, infected by the sick and by the innumerable corpses of those who had died of the plague. Others carried their precaution still further, and thought the surest way to escape death was by flight. They therefore left the city; women as well as men abandoning their dwellings and their relations, and retiring into the country. But of these, also, many were carried off, most of them alone and deserted by all the world, themselves having previously set the example.

Thus it was that one citizen fled from another—a neighbor from his neighbors—a relation from his relations; and in the end, so completely had terror extinguished every kindlier feeling that the brother forsook the brother, the sister the sister, the wife her husband, and at last even the parent his own offspring, and abandoned them, unvisited and unsoothed, to their fate. Those, therefore, that stood in need of assistance fell a prey to greedy attendants; who, for an exorbitant recompense, merely handed the sick their food and medicine, remained with them in their last moments, and then not unfrequently became themselves victims to their avarice, and lived not to enjoy their extorted gain.

Propriety and decorum were extinguished among the helpless sick. Females of rank seemed to forget their natural bashfulness, and committed the care of their persons, indiscriminately, to men and women of the lowest order. No longer were women, relatives or friends, found in the houses of mourning, to share the grief of the survivors; no longer was the corpse accompanied to the grave by neighbors and a numerous train of priests, carrying wax tapers and singing psalms, nor was it borne along by other citizens of equal rank. Many breathed their last without a friend to comfort them in their last moments; and few indeed were they who departed amid the lamentations and tears of their friends and kindred.

Instead of sorrow and mourning, appeared indifference, frivolity, and mirth; this being considered, especially by the females, as conducive to health. Seldom was the body followed by even ten or twelve attendants; and instead of the usual bearers146 and sextons, hirelings of the lowest of the populace undertook the office for the sake of gain; and accompanied by only a few priests, and often without a single taper, it was borne to the very nearest church, and lowered into the first grave that was not already too full to receive it. Among the middling classes, and especially among the poor, the misery was still greater. Poverty or negligence induced most of these to remain in their dwellings or in the immediate neighborhood; and thus they fell by thousands; and many ended their lives in the streets by day and by night.

The stench of putrefying corpses was often the first indication to their neighbors that more deaths had occurred. The survivors, to preserve themselves from infection, generally had the bodies taken out of the houses and laid before the doors, where the early morn found them in heaps, exposed to the affrighted gaze of the passing stranger. It was no longer possible to have a bier for every corpse—three or four were generally laid together; husband and wife, father and mother, with two or three children, were frequently borne to the grave on the same bier; and it often happened that two priests would accompany a coffin, bearing the cross before it, and be joined on the way by several other funerals; so that instead of one, there were five or six bodies for interment.




A.D. 1354


During the early years of the fourteenth century a new Mahometan realm was established on the ruins of the Seljukian and Byzantine power in Asia Minor. Osman,54 or Othman, the founder of this realm, which is regarded as the original Ottoman empire, subdued a great part of Asia Minor, and in the year of his death 1326, his son Orkhan captured Prusa (now Brusa) and Nicomedia. In 1330 he took Nicæa—then second only to Constantinople in the Greek or Byzantine empire—and six years later he defeated the Turkish Prince of Karasi, the ancient Mysia, and annexed his territory, including the capital, Berghama, the ancient Pergamus, to the Ottoman dominions, thus securing nearly the whole of North-western Asia Minor.

During the reign of Orkhan the Ottomans made frequent passages of the Hellespont for the purpose of extending their power into Europe. After fifteen invasions without any permanent conquest, in 1354 Orkhan and his son Suleiman perceived an opportunity by which they prepared themselves to profit—civil war was raging in the Byzantine empire, where John Palæologus was striving to deprive the emperor Cantacuzenus of his throne.

The plan whereby the Ottomans secured a foothold in Europe which soon enabled them to establish a permanent sovereignty on the peninsula of Gallipoli was executed by Suleiman with a military skill which gave his name a conspicuous place in Turkish history.

ON the meridional shore of the Sea of Marmora, at the entrance of the Hellespont, is perceived the peninsula of Kapoutaghi—the ancient, almost insular Cyzicus, a Milesian colony. At the neck of the isthmus, where it joins the mainland, there where are seen to-day the ruins of Aidindjik, formerly 148arose Cyzicus, a city celebrated in the history of Persia and of Rome, of ancient Greece and of the Byzantine empire. This port, one of the most commercial of the Asiatic coast, possessed, like Rhodes, Marseilles, and Carthage, two military arsenals and an immense granary, each placed under the special superintendence of an architect. The annals of this town have been enriched by the passage of the Argonauts and of the Goths, by the siege of Mithridates and by the assistance received from the Romans under the leadership of Lucullus.

Granted its freedom by the latter as a reward for its fidelity, Cyzicus was shortly afterward deprived of its privileges for having neglected the service of the temple of Augustus. Under the Byzantines it became the capital of the province of Hellespont and the metropolitan see of Mysia and of all the territory of Troy. On Mount Dyndimos, at the gates of Cyzicus, arose the temple of the great mother, the goddess Ida, whose worship had been established by the Argonauts, and who was venerated at Cyzicus as at Pessinunte, in the form of an aërolite, a sacred stone, which under the reign of King Attalus was carried to Rome, and installed in the city by all the matrons, preceded by Scipio the Younger. The inhabitants of the peninsula adored also Cybele, Proserpine, and Jupiter, who, according to a fabulous tradition, had given the town of Cyzicus to the wife of Pluto, as dower. Emperor Hadrian embellished this town with the largest and the finest of the temples of paganism. The columns of this edifice, all of one piece, were four ells (fifteen and one-half feet) in circumference and fifty ells (one hundred and ninety-five feet) in height.

In 1354 Suleiman, the son of Orkhan, Governor of ancient Mysia, a province recently conquered by the Turks, was seized with admiration by the aspect of the majestic ruins of Cyzicus. The broken columns, the marbles prone on the sward, recalled to him the ruins of the palace of the Queen of Saba Balkis, erected by the order of Solomon, the remains of Istakhr (Persepolis), and of Tadmor (Palmyra). One evening when seated by the sea-shore, he saw, by the light of the moon (Aidindjik, the crescent moon), the porticoes and peristyles reflected in the waves. Clouds passed along the surface of the sea, and he imagined that he saw these ruined palaces and temples arise149 from the deep, and a fleet navigate the waters. Around him arose mysterious voices whose sound mingled with the murmur of the waves, while the moon, which at this moment shone in the east, seemed to unite Asia and Europe by a silver ribbon. It was she who, emerging formerly from the bosom of Edebali,55 had come to hide herself in that of Osman. The remembrance of the fantastic vision, which had presaged a universal domination to his ancestor, inflamed the courage of Suleiman, and made him resolve to unite Europe and Asia by transporting the Ottoman power from the shores of Asia Minor to the strands of the Greek empire, and thus to realize the dream of Osman.

Suleiman consulted immediately with Adjebeg, Ghazi-Fazil, Ewrenos, and Hadji-Ilbeki, ancient vizier of the Prince of Karasi, who had been his assistants in the government of Mysia. All confirmed him in his resolution. Adjebeg and Ghazi-Fazil the same night went to Gouroudjouk and took ship to make a reconnaissance in the environs of Tzympe, situated a league and a half from Gallipoli, opposite Gouroudjouk. A Greek prisoner whom they brought with them to Asia informed Suleiman of the abandoned and unprepared state of the place, and offered himself as a guide to surprise the garrison. Suleiman immediately had two rafts constructed of trees united by thongs of bull skins, and made the attempt the following night, with thirty-nine of his most intrepid companions in arms. Arrived before the fortress, they scaled the walls by mounting on an immense dung-heap, and took possession of it easily, owing to the inhabitants being all absent in the fields engaged in harvesting. Suleiman then hastened to send to Asia all the ships which he found in the port, to transport soldiers to Tzympe; and three days after, the fortress contained a garrison of three thousand Ottomans.

In the mean while Cantacuzenus, unable to resist any longer the forces assembled against him by his young rival, John Palæologus, asked the assistance of Orkhan. Orkhan sent him the conqueror of Tzympe, an auxiliary whose support later became more troublesome to the Emperor than it was useful against his enemy. Ten thousand Turkish cavaliers disem150barked near Ainos, at the embouchure of Maritza (Hebrus), defeated the auxiliary troops which John Palæologus had drawn from Mœsia and from the Triballiens, ravaged Bulgaria, and repassed into Asia, loaded with spoil.

Cantacuzenus, more at his ease after the departure of the conquering horde, negotiated with Suleiman the ransom of Tzympe. Scarcely had he sent the ten thousand ducats agreed upon, when a commissary of the Ottoman Prince arrived bringing him the keys; but at the same time a terrific earthquake devastated the towns on the Thracian coasts. The inhabitants who did not find death in the destruction of their dwellings went with the garrisons to seek refuge against the destroying scourge and the barbarity of the Turks in the towns and the castles which the catastrophe had spared. But torrents of rain, snow, and a glacial temperature killed the women and the children on the road. As to the men, they fell into the power of Orkhan's soldiers, who were awaiting their passage. Thus the Ottomans found a powerful auxiliary in the warring elements. From that time they believed that God himself favored their projects. Adjebeg and Ghazi-Fazil, whom Suleiman had left in front of Gallipoli, penetrated into that town by the large breaches that the earthquake had made in the walls, and took possession of it, owing to the confusion which reigned among the inhabitants.

Gallipoli, the key of the Hellespont, the commercial entrepôt of the Black Sea and of the Mediterranean, is celebrated in history by the siege that it sustained against Philip of Macedon, and by the revolt of the Catalans or Mogabars who, half a century before the disaster, braved with impunity the power of the Greek Emperor and made it the centre of their piracies. The tombs of the two Ottoman chiefs are still seen to-day. These two mausoleums are much visited by Mussulman pilgrims, and the reason of this pious veneration is due to the fact that here in this sacred place lie the ashes of the two generations to whom the Ottoman empire owes the conquest of a town, the possession of which facilitated the passing of the Turks into Europe. For the same reason all the surrounding country, which, during the blockade of the town, Adjebeg and his lieutenant Ghazi-Fazil had put to fire and sword, received the name of Adje Owa. The two beys, taking advantage of the terror caused151 by so many disasters, penetrated into the deserted towns and established themselves.

On the news of these conquests Suleiman, who then was at Bigha (Pegæ), refused to restore Tzympe, and, far from being contented with the peaceful possession of the territory invaded by his hordes, dreamed of extending the boundaries, and for this purpose sent over to Europe numerous colonies of Turks and Arabs. One of his first cares was to raise the walls of Gallipoli and other strong places devastated by the earthquake; among the number were Konour, whose commander, called Calaconia by the Ottoman historians, was hanged by order of Suleiman at the doors of the castle; the fort of Boulair, before which Suleiman received, as a presage of his future glory, the bonnet of a dervish Mewlewi; Malgara, renowned for its trade in honey; Ipsala (ancient Cypsella) on the Marizza; and lastly Rodosto, now Tekourtaghi, ancient residence of Besus, King of Thrace, and the place of exile where died in modern times the Hungarian Francis Rakoczy, Prince of Transylvania, and his partisans. All these towns and strong places fell into the power of the Ottomans in the course of the year 1357; they served them as starting-bases for their excursions, which they pushed as far as Hireboli (Chariupolis) and Tschorli (Tzurulum).

Cantacuzenus, too weak to stop the progress of the Turks, complained of this violation of the peace. Orkhan excused his son, saying that it was not force of arms which had opened the gates of the towns of the Greek empire, but the divine will manifested by the earthquake. The Emperor made representations that he was not agitating to know whether it was by the gates or by the breaches that Suleiman had penetrated into the places in question, but whether or not he possessed them legitimately. Orkhan then asked a delay for reflection, and subsequently promised that he would request his son to return the towns that he occupied, if Cantacuzenus, on his side, would engage to pay him a sum of forty thousand ducats. At the same time he invited him to an interview to meet Suleiman on the Gulf of Nicomedia. But the Sultan pretending to be ill, the Emperor returned to Byzantium, without having obtained anything.

152Orkhan now found himself in one of the happiest of political situations. The division of sovereign authority between Cantacuzenus and his pupil John Palæologus, and their continual wars, allowed him to address one or the other according as his interests and the circumstances demanded. It was thus that John Palæeologus, ally of the Genoese, undertook to deliver from captivity to Phoceus, the son of Orkhan, Khalil or Kasim, whom the governor Calothes surrendered for a ransom of one hundred thousand pieces of gold and the concession of the glorious title of Panhypersebastos ("very venerable"). The service that John had rendered did not prevent Orkhan from sending to Abydos a body of troops to rescue the son of Cantacuzenus, Mathias, then at war with the Bulgarians.

From the epoch when the Ottomans made durable conquests in the Greek empire, Asia each spring threw new hordes into Europe, until the time when the successors of Orkhan had extended their domination from the shores of the Sea of Marmora to those of the Danube.

The conquest of Gallipoli, which had opened the gate of the Greek empire and the whole of the European continent to the Ottomans, was announced by "letters of victory" to the neighboring princes of Orkhan, whose father had divided with Osman the heritage of the Seljukian sultans. The use of these "letters of victory" has been preserved to this day in Turkey, and their style, already so pompous in the days of Orkhan, has become so proudly emphatic that this kind of document to-day is not the least curious of those which belong to the annals of the Turkish nation.

Orkhan left to his son, Suleiman Pacha, and Hadji-Ilbeki the charge of preserving the conquests made in Europe; Suleiman established his residence at Gallipoli, and Ilbeki at Konour. The first overran the country as far as Demitoka; the second as far as Tschorli and Hireboli. Adjebeg received in fief the valley which still bears his name.

But Suleiman enjoyed for only a few years the fruits of his conquests. One day while hunting wild geese between Boulair and Sidi-Kawak, that is to say near the palatine of the Cid, and following at a gallop the flight of his falcon, he fell so violently from his horse (1359) as to be instantly killed. His153 body was deposited, not in the mausoleum of the Osman family at Prusa, where he had caused a mosque to be erected in the quarter of the confectioners, but near the mosque of Boulair, also founded by him. Orkhan, to perpetuate the exploits of his son, caused a tomb to be built to his memory on the shore of the Hellespont, the only one which, during more than a century, was erected in memory of an Ottoman prince on Greek soil. Of all the sepulchres of Turkish heroes which the national historians mention with holy respect, that of the founder of the Ottoman power in Europe is the most venerated and the most frequented by pilgrims. It is still to be seen to the north of the embouchure of the Hellespont.

Tradition attributes yet another victory to Suleiman after his death. At the head of a troop of celestial heroes, mounted on white horses, encircled by a brilliant aureole, he is said to have vanquished an army of infidels. The love of the marvellous, so general among orientals, the leaning which all people have to make heaven intervene in the deeds relating to their origin, alone can explain this tradition, for it would be useless to seek any historic fact which could have given it birth. According to this tradition, thirty thousand Christians appeared in the Hellespont on a fleet of sixty-one vessels; one half disembarked at Touzla and the other at Sidi-Kawak; it was this latter body which was cut in pieces by the celestial troop led by Suleiman. The Ottoman historians who relate this miracle have evidently borrowed the apparition of these vessels from the First or the Second Crusade of the Europeans against the Turks, and have transported them from the waters of Smyrna to those of Gallipoli, for the greater glory of Suleiman Pacha. Neither the history of Byzantium nor that of the crusades offers the slightest trace of this event.



A.D. 1355


Marino Falieri was born at Venice about 1278, and was elected doge in 1354. For many years the government of the republic, under an oligarchy, had been arbitrarily dominated by the Council of Ten, an assembly that, after serving a special purpose for which it was created, was declared permanent in 1325 and became a formidable tribunal. Professing to guard the republic the Ten in fact destroyed its liberties, disposed of its finances, overruled the constitutional legislators, suppressed and excluded the popular element from all voice in public affairs, and finally reduced the nominal prince—the doge—to a mere puppet or an ornamental functionary, still called "head of the state."

At the time when Falieri entered upon his dogeship the city in all quarters was pervaded by the spies of this great oligarchy, which seized and imprisoned citizens, and even put them to death, secretly, without itself being answerable to any authority. The most notable event in the annals of this extraordinary Venetian government is that which forms the story of Marino Falieri himself. His conspiracy with the plebeians to assassinate the oligarchs and make himself actual ruler of the state had the double motive of a personal grievance and the sense of a political wrong.

The fate of this old man has been made the subject of tragedies by Byron (1820), Casimir Delavigne (1829), and Swinburne (1885). The novel, Doge und Dogaressa, by Ernst Theodor Hoffmann, was inspired by the same dramatic figure. Of historical accounts, the following—in Mrs. Oliphant's best manner—is justly regarded as the most impressive which has hitherto appeared in English.

MARINO FALIERI had been an active servant of Venice through a long life. He had filled almost all the great offices which were intrusted to her nobles. He had governed her distant colonies, accompanied her armies in that position of proveditore, omnipotent civilian critic of all the movements of war, which so much disgusted the generals of the republic. He had been ambassador at the courts of both emperor and pope, and was serving his country in that capacity at Avignon when the news of his election reached him.

155It is thus evident that Falieri was not a man used to the position of a lay figure, although at seventy-six the dignified retirement of a throne, even when so encircled with restrictions, would seem not inappropriate. That he was of a haughty and hasty temper seems apparent. It is told of him that, after waiting long for a bishop to head a procession at Treviso where he was podesta ("chief magistrate"), he astonished the tardy prelate by a box on the ear when he finally appeared, a punishment for keeping the authorities waiting.

Old age to a statesman, however, is in many cases an advantage rather than a defect, and Falieri was young in vigor and character, and still full of life and strength. He was married a second time to presumably a beautiful wife much younger than himself, though the chroniclers are not agreed even on the subject of her name, whether she was a Gradenigo or a Contarini. The well-known story of young Steno's insult to this lady and to her old husband has found a place in all subsequent histories, but there is no trace of it in the unpublished documents of the state.

The story goes that Michel Steno, one of those young and insubordinate gallants who are a danger to every aristocratic state, having been turned out of the presence of the Dogaressa for some unseemly freedom of behavior, wrote upon the chair of the Doge in boyish petulance an insulting taunt, such as might well rouse a high-tempered old man to fury. According to Sanudo, the young man, on being brought before the Forty,56 confessed that he had thus avenged himself in a fit of passion; and regard having been had to his age and the "heat of love" which had been the cause of his original misdemeanor—a reason seldom taken into account by the tribunals of the state—he was condemned to prison for two months, and afterward to be banished for a year from Venice.

The Doge took this light punishment greatly amiss, considering it, indeed, as a further insult.

Sabellico says not a word of Michel Steno, or of this definite cause of offence, and Romanin quotes the contemporary records to show that though Alcuni zovanelli fioli de gentiluomini di Venetia are supposed to have affronted the Doge, no such story 156finds a place in any of them. But the old man thus translated from active life and power, soon became bitterly sensible in his new position that he was senza parentado, with few relations, and flouted by the giovinastri, the dissolute young gentlemen who swaggered about the Broglio in their finery, strong in the support of fathers and uncles.

That he found himself, at the same time, shelved in his new rank, powerless, and regarded as a nobody in the state where hitherto he had been a potent signior—mastered in every action by the secret tribunal, and presiding nominally in councils where his opinion was of little consequence—is evident. And a man so well acquainted, and so long, with all the proceedings of the state, who had seen consummated the shutting out of the people, and since had watched through election after election a gradual tightening of the bonds round the feet of the doge, would naturally have many thoughts when he found himself the wearer of that restricted and diminished crown.

He could not be unconscious of how the stream was going, nor unaware of that gradual sapping of privilege and decreasing of power which even in his own case had gone further than with his predecessor. Perhaps he had noted with an indignant mind the new limits of the promissione, a narrower charter than ever, when he was called upon to sign it. He had no mind, we may well believe, to retire thus from the administration of affairs. And when these giovinastri, other people's boys, the scum of the gay world, flung their unsavory jests in the face of the old man who had no son to come after him, the silly insults so lightly uttered, so little thought of, the natural scoff of youth at old age, stung him to the quick.

Old Falieri's heart burned within him at his own injuries and those of his old comrades. How he was induced to head the conspiracy, and put his crown, his life, and honor on the cast, there is no further information. His fierce temper, and the fact that he had no powerful house behind him to help to support his case, probably made him reckless. In April, 1355, six months after his arrival in Venice as doge, the smouldering fire broke out. Two of the conspirators were seized with compunction on the eve of the catastrophe and betrayed the plot—one with a merciful motive to serve a patrician he loved, the157 other with perhaps less noble intentions—and, without a blow struck, the conspiracy collapsed. There was no real heart in it, nothing to give it consistence; the hot passion of a few men insulted, the variable gaseous excitement of wronged commoners, and the ambition—if it was ambition—of one enraged and affronted old man, without an heir to follow him or anything that could make it worth his while to conquer.

An enterprise more wild was never undertaken. It was the passionate stand of despair against force so overwhelming as to make mad the helpless, yet not submissive, victims. The Doge, who no doubt in former days had felt it to be a mere affair of the populace, a thing with which a noble ambassador and proveditore had nothing to do, a struggle beneath his notice, found himself at last, with fury and amazement, to be a fellow-sufferer caught in the same toils. There seems no reason to believe that Falieri consciously staked the remnant of his life on the forlorn hope of overcoming that awful and pitiless power, with any real hope of establishing his own supremacy. His aspect is rather that of a man betrayed by passion, and wildly forgetful of all possibility in his fierce attempt to free himself and get the upper hand. One cannot but feel in that passion of helpless age and unfriendedness, something of the terrible disappointment of one to whom the real situation of affairs had never been revealed before; who had come home triumphant to reign like the doges of old, and, only after the ducal cap was on his head and the palace of the state had become his home, found out that the doge—like the unconsidered plebeian—had been reduced to bondage; his judgment and experience put aside in favor of the deliberations of a secret tribunal, and the very boys, when they were nobles, at liberty to jeer at his declining years.

The lesser conspirators, all men of the humbler sort—Calendario, the architect, who was then at work upon the palace, a number of seamen, and other little-known persons—were hanged; not like the greater criminals, beheaded between the columns, but strung up—a horrible fringe—along the side of the palazzo. The fate of Falieri himself is too generally known to demand description. Calmed by the tragic touch of fate, the Doge bore all the humiliations of his doom with dignity,158 and was beheaded at the head of the stairs where he had sworn the promissione on first assuming the office of doge.

What a contrast was this from that triumphant day when probably he felt that his reward had come to him after the long and faithful service of years. Death stills disappointment as well as rage, and Falieri is said to have acknowledged the justice of his sentence. He had never made any attempt to justify or defend himself, but frankly and at once avowed his guilt and made no attempt to escape from its penalties. His body was conveyed privately to the Church of St. Giovanni and St. Paolo, the great "Zanipolo"—with which all visitors to Venice are familiar—and was buried in secrecy and silence in the atrio of a little chapel behind the great church—where no doubt for centuries the pavement was worn by many feet with little thought of those who lay below. Even from that refuge his bones have been driven forth, but his name remains in the corner of the Hall of the Great Council, where—with a certain dramatic affectation—the painter-historians have painted a black veil across the vacant place. "This is the place of Marino Falieri, beheaded for his crimes," is all the record left of the Doge disgraced.

Was it a crime? The question is one which it is difficult to discuss with any certainty. That Falieri desired to establish—as so many had done in other cities—an independent despotism in Venice, seems entirely unproved. It was the prevailing fear; the one suggestion which alarmed everybody and made sentiment unanimous. But one of the special points which are recorded by the chroniclers as working in him to madness, was that he was senza parentado—without any backing of relationship or allies—i.e., sonless, with no one to come after him. How little likely then was an old man to embark on such a desperate venture for self-aggrandizement merely. He had, indeed, a nephew who was involved in his fate, but apparently not so deeply as to expose him to the last penalty of the law.

The incident altogether points more to a sudden outbreak of the rage and disappointment of an old public servant coming back from his weary labors for the state in triumph and satisfaction to what seemed the supreme reward; and finding himself159 no more than a puppet in the hands of remorseless masters, subject to the scoffs of the younger generation, with his eyes opened by his own suffering, perceiving for the first time what justice there was in the oft-repeated protest of the people, and how they and he alike were crushed under the iron heel of that oligarchy to which the power of the people and that of the Prince were equally obnoxious. The chroniclers of his time were so much at a loss to find any reason for such an attempt on the part of a man, non abbiando alcum propinquo, that they agree in attributing it to diabolical inspiration.

It was more probably that fury which springs from a sense of wrong, which the sight of the wrongs of others raised to frenzy, and that intolerable impatience of the impotent which is more harsh in its hopelessness than the greatest hardihood. He could not but die for it, but there seems no more reason to characterize this impossible attempt as deliberate treason than to give the same name to many an alliance formed between prince and people in other regions—the king and commons of the early Stuarts, for example—against the intolerable exactions and cruelty of an aristocracy too powerful to be faced alone by either.



A.D. 1356


The Golden Bull of Charles IV of Germany, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, first published at the Diet of Nuremberg in 1356, was a charter—sometimes called the "Magna Charta of Germany"—regulating the election of the emperor. It was called "golden" because the seal attached to the parchment on which it was engrossed was of gold instead of the customary lead. In a diet at Metz in the same year six additional clauses were promulgated.

By some historians the origin of the imperial electoral college is assigned to the year 1125, when at the election of Lothair II certain of the nobles and church dignitaries made a selection of candidates to be voted for. But until the promulgation of the Golden Bull the constitution and prerogatives of the college were never definitely ascertained.

The personal traits and the languid reign of Charles IV have been treated by historians with derision. He forgot the general welfare of the empire in his eagerness to enrich his own house and aggrandize his paternal kingdom of Bohemia. The one remarkable law which emanated from him, and whereby alone his reign is distinguished in the constitutional history of the empire, is that embodied in the Golden Bull. By this instrument the dignity of the electors was greatly enhanced, and the disputes which had arisen between members of the same house as to their right of suffrage were terminated. The number of electors was absolutely restricted to seven.

AFTER a solemn invocation of the Trinity, a reprobation of the seven deadly sins, and a pointed allusion to the seven candlesticks and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Golden Bull proceeds to the subject of the imperial election. It provides, in the first place, for the safe conduct of the seven electors to and from Frankfort-on-the-Main, which is fixed as the place of election; it directs the archbishop of Mainz to summon the electors upon the death of the emperor, and regulates the manner in which their proxies are to be appointed; it enjoins the citizens of Frankfort to protect the assembled electors; and161 forbids them to admit any stranger into the city during the election.

It next prescribes the form of oath to be taken by the electors; and also forbids them to quit the city before the completion of the election; and after thirty days restricts their diet to bread and water. A majority of votes is to decide the election; and in case any elector obtain three votes, his own vote is to be taken in his favor.

The precedence of the electors is thus settled: First, the archbishops of Mainz, Cologne, and Treves; then the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine, the Duke of Saxony, and the Margrave of Brandenburg. The Elector of Treves is to vote first; then the Elector of Cologne; then the secular electors; and the Elector of Mainz is finally to collect the votes and deliver his own.

The Elector of Cologne is to perform the coronation. At all feasts the Margrave of Brandenburg, as grand chamberlain, is to present the Emperor with water to wash; the King of Bohemia, as cup-bearer, is to offer the goblet of wine; the Count Palatine, as grand steward, is to set the first dish on the table; and the Duke of Saxony is to officiate as grand marshal.

The Count Palatine and the Duke of Saxony are declared vicars of the empire during the vacancy of the throne. An exclusive jurisdiction is guaranteed to the electors; and their precedence over all other princes of Germany is enforced.

The right of voting is vested in the eldest son of a deceased elector, provided he have attained the age of eighteen; and during the minority, the guardianship and vote are vested in the next kinsman of the deceased.

If one of the lay electorates become vacant by default of heirs, it shall revert to the Emperor, and be by him disposed of—Bohemia excepted, where the vacancy is to be supplied by ancient mode of election.

The electors are invested with the possession of all mines discovered within their respective territories. They are authorized to give refuge to the Jews, and to receive dues payable within their states. They are also privileged to coin money, and to purchase lands subject to the feudal rights of the sovereign.

162A yearly assembly of the electors, in one of the imperial cities, is enjoined.

All privileges granted to any city or community prejudicial to the rights of the electors are revoked. All fraudulent resignations of fiefs by vassals, with intent to attack their lords, are declared void. All leagues, associations, and confederacies, not sanctioned by law, are made punishable by fine; and all burgesses and subjects of princes and nobles are to adhere to their original subjection, and not to claim any rights or exemptions as burgesses of any city unless actually domiciled therein.

Challenges, with design of destroying another's property or committing any outrage, are prohibited; and all challenges are to be given three days before the onset.

The forms of summoning electors, and of their delegation of proxies, are laid down. And the right of voting, as well as all other rights, is declared inseparably incident to the electoral principality.

On grand occasions the Duke of Saxony is to carry the sword; the Count Palatine, the globe; the Margrave of Brandenburg, the sceptre. In celebrating mass before the Emperor, the benedictions are to be pronounced by the senior spiritual elector present.

All persons conspiring against the lives of the electors are declared guilty of leze-majesty, and shall forfeit their lives and possessions. The lives of their sons, though justly forfeited, are spared only by the particular bounty of the Emperor; but they are declared incapable of holding any property, honor, or dignity, and doomed to perpetual poverty. The daughters are permitted to enjoy one-fourth of their mother's succession.

The secular principalities, Bohemia, the Palatinate, the duchy of Saxony, and the margravate of Brandenburg, are declared indivisible and entire, descendible in the male line.

On all the solemn occasions the electors shall attend the Emperor, and the arch-chancellors shall carry the seals. And the bull then proceeds minutely to point out the manner in which the electors are to exercise their ministerial functions at the imperial banquet; and regulates the order and disposition of the imperial and electoral tables.

163Frankfort is again declared as the place of election; Aix-la-Chapelle, of coronation; and Nuremberg, for holding the first royal court.

The electors are exempted from all payments on receiving their fiefs from their sovereign. But other princes are to pay certain fees, etc., to the imperial officers.

Lastly, the secular electors are enjoined to instruct their sons in the Latin, Italian, and Slavonic tongues.

At the final promulgation of the bull in the Diet of Metz the Emperor and Empress feasted, in the presence of the dauphin (Charles V) and the legate of Pope Innocent VI, with all the pageantry and ceremonies prescribed by the new ordinances. The imperial tables were spread in the grand square of the city; Rudolph, Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg, attended with a silver measure of oats, and marshalled the order of the company; Louis II, Margrave of Brandenburg, presented to the Emperor the golden basin, with water and fair napkins; Rupert, Count Palatine, placed the first dish upon the table; and the Emperor's brother, Wenceslaus, representing the King of Bohemia, officiated as cup-bearer. Lastly, the princes of Schwarzburg and the deputy huntsman came with three hounds amid the loud din of horns, and carried up a stag and a boar to the table of the Emperor.



A.D. 1358


The defeat of the French under King John II, at Poitiers, by the British forces of Edward, the Black Prince, September 19, 1356, aroused great indignation among the common people of France, with scorn of the nobility; for these leaders, with an army of sixty thousand, had fled before an enemy whom they outnumbered seven to one. In the next assembly of the states-general the bourgeois obtained a preponderance so intolerable to the nobles that they withdrew to their homes. A little later the deputies of the clergy also retired, leaving only the representatives of the cities—among whom the supremacy of the members from Paris was generally accepted—to deal with the affairs of the kingdom.

At this point appeared a man who in an age "so uncivilized and sombre," says Pierre Robiquet, "by wonderful instinct laid down and nearly succeeded in obtaining the adoption of the essential principles on which modern society is founded—the government of the country by elected representatives, taxes voted by representatives of the taxpayers, abolition of privileges founded upon right of birth, extension of political rights to all citizens, and subordination of traditional sovereignty to that of the nation." This man was Étienne Marcel, provost of the merchants of Paris—that is to say, mayor of the municipality, whom eminent historians have called the greatest personage of the fourteenth century. During a career of three years his name dominates French history—a brief ascendency, but of potent influence. His endeavor, in Thierry's view, "was, as it were, a premature attempt at the grand designs of Providence, and the mirror of the bloody changes of fortune through which those designs were destined to advance to their accomplishment under the impulse of human passions."

After the disaster of Poitiers, Marcel finished the fortifications of Paris and barricaded the streets, and in the assembly there he presided over the bourgeois—the Third Estate. In the growing conflict between the two other estates—nobles and clergy—and the third, Marcel armed the bourgeois and began an open revolution, thus organizing the commune for carrying out his designs. The nobles were meanwhile laying heavier miseries upon the peasantry, and in the spring of 1358 occurred the rising of the Jacquerie, here described by Froissart, whose brilliant narrative is to be read in the light of modern critical judgment, which re165gards it as an exaggeration both of the numbers of the insurgents and their atrocities, while Froissart had no capacity for understanding the conditions which explain, if they do not also justify, the present revolt.

This outbreak, to which Marcel gave his support, was enough to ruin his cause, and he died in a massacre, July 31, 1358, having failed "because the time was not yet ripe," and because the violence to which he lent his sanction was overcome by stronger violence.

A MARVELLOUS and great tribulation befell the kingdom of France, in Beauvoisis, Brie, upon the river Marne, in the Laonnois, and in the neighborhood of Soissons. Some of the inhabitants of the country towns assembled together in Beauvoisis, without any leader; they were not at first more than one hundred men. They said that the nobles of the kingdom of France, knights and squires, were a disgrace to it, and that it would be a very meritorious act to destroy them all; to which proposition everyone assented, and added, shame befall him that should be the means of preventing the gentlemen from being wholly destroyed. They then, without further counsel, collected themselves in a body, and with no other arms than the staves shod with iron which some had, and others with knives, marched to the house of a knight who lived near, and, breaking it open, murdered the knight, his lady, and all the children, both great and small; they then burned the house.

After this, their second expedition was to the strong castle of another knight, which they took, and, having tied him to a stake, many of them violated his wife and daughter before his eyes; they then murdered the lady, her daughter, and the other children, and last of all the knight himself, with much cruelty. They destroyed and burned his castle. They did the like to many castles and handsome houses; and their numbers increased so much that they were in a short time upward of six thousand. Wherever they went they received additions, for all of their rank in life followed them, while everyone else fled, carrying off with them their ladies, damsels, and children ten or twenty leagues distant, where they thought they could place them in security, leaving their houses, with all their riches in them.

These wicked people, without leader and without arms, plundered and burned all the houses they came to, murdered every gentleman, and violated every lady and damsel they could find. He who committed the most atrocious actions, and such166 as no human creature would have imagined, was the most applauded and considered as the greatest man among them. I dare not write the horrible and inconceivable atrocities they committed on the persons of the ladies.

Among other infamous acts they murdered a knight, and, having fastened him to a spit, roasted him before the eyes of his wife and his children, and forced her to eat some of her husband's flesh, and then knocked her brains out. They had chosen a king among them, who came from Clermont in Beauvoisis. He was elected as the worst of the bad, and they denominated him "Jacques Bonhomme."57

These wretches burned and destroyed in the county of Beauvoisis, and at Corbie, Amiens, and Montdidier, upward of sixty good houses and strong castles. By the acts of such traitors in the country of Brie and thereabout, it behooved every lady, knight, and squire, having the means of escape, to fly to Meaux, if they wished to preserve themselves from being insulted and afterward murdered. The Duchess of Normandy, the Duchess of Orleans, and many other ladies had adopted this course. These cursed people thus supported themselves in the countries between Paris, Noyon, and Soissons, and in all the territory of Coucy, in the County of Valois. In the bishoprics of Noyon, Laon, and Soissons there were upward of one hundred castles and good houses of knights and squires destroyed.

When the gentlemen of Beauvoisis, Corbie, Vermandois, and of the lands where these wretches were associated, saw to what lengths their madness had extended, they sent for succor to their friends in Flanders, Hainault, and Bohemia; from which places numbers soon came and united themselves with the gentlemen of the country. They began therefore to kill and destroy these wretches wherever they met them, and hung them up by troops on the nearest trees. The King of Navarre even destroyed in one day, near Clermont in Beauvoisis, upward of 167three thousand; but they were by this time so much increased in numbers that, had they been all together, they would have amounted to more than one hundred thousand. When they were asked for what reason they acted so wickedly, they replied, they knew not, but they did so because they saw others do it, and they thought that by this means they should destroy all the nobles and gentlemen in the world.

At this period the Duke of Normandy, suspecting the King of Navarre, the provost of merchants and those of his faction—for they were always unanimous in their sentiments—set out from Paris, and went to the bridge at Charenton-upon-Marne, where he issued a special summons for the attendance of the crown vassals, and sent a defiance to the provost of merchants and to all those who should support him. The provost, being fearful he would return in the night-time to Paris—which was then unenclosed—collected as many workmen as possible from all parts, and employed them to make ditches all around Paris. He also surrounded it by a wall with strong gates. For the space of one year there were three hundred workmen daily employed; the expense of which was equal to maintaining an army. I must say that to surround with a sufficient defence such a city as Paris was an act of greater utility than any provost of merchants had ever done before; for otherwise it would have been plundered and destroyed several times by the different factions.

At the time these wicked men were overrunning the country, the Earl of Foix, and his cousin the Captal of Buch were returning from a crusade in Prussia. They were informed, on their entering France, of the distress the nobles were in; and they learned at the city of Chalons that the Duchess of Orleans and three hundred other ladies, under the protection of the Duke of Orleans, were fled to Meaux on account of these disturbances. The two knights resolved to go to the assistance of these ladies, and to reënforce them with all their might, notwithstanding the Captal was attached to the English; but at that time there was a truce between the two kings. They might have in their company about sixty lances.

They were most cheerfully received, on their arrival at Meaux, by the ladies and damsels; for these Jacks and peasants of168 Brie had heard what number of ladies, married and unmarried, and young children of quality were in Meaux; they had united themselves with those of Valois and were on their road thither. On the other hand, those of Paris had also been informed of the treasures Meaux contained, and had set out from that place in crowds. Having met the others, they amounted together to nine thousand men. Their forces were augmenting every step they advanced.

They came to the gates of the town, which the inhabitants opened to them and allowed them to enter; they did so in such numbers that all the streets were quite filled, as far as the market-place, which is tolerably strong, but it required to be guarded, though the river Marne nearly surrounds it. The noble dames who were lodged there, seeing such multitudes rushing toward them, were exceedingly frightened. On this, the two lords and their company advanced to the gate of the market-place, which they had opened, and, marching under the banners of the Earl of Foix and Duke of Orleans, and the pennon of the Captal of Buch, posted themselves in front of this peasantry, who were badly armed.

When these banditti perceived such a troop of gentlemen, so well equipped, sally forth to guard the market-place, the foremost of them began to fall back. The gentlemen then followed them, using their lances and swords. When they felt the weight of their blows, they, through fear, turned about so fast they fell one over the other. All manner of armed persons then rushed out of the barriers, drove them before them, striking them down like beasts, and clearing the town of them; for they kept neither regularity nor order, slaying so many that they were tired. They flung them in great heaps into the river. In short, they killed upward of seven thousand. Not one would have escaped if they had chosen to pursue them farther.

On the return of the men-at-arms, they set fire to the town of Meaux, burned it; and all the peasants they could find were shut up in it, because they had been of the party of the Jacks. Since this discomfiture which happened to them at Meaux, they never collected again in any great bodies; for the young Enguerrand de Coucy had plenty of gentlemen under his orders, who destroyed them, wherever they could be met with, without mercy.



A.D. 1370-1405


Timur, better known as Tamerlane ("Timur the Lame"), was born in Central Asia—probably in the village of Sebzar, near Samarkand, in Transoxiana (Turkestan). He is supposed to have been descended from a follower of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol empire; or, as some say, directly, by the mother's side, from Genghis himself. He is the Tamerlaine or Tamburlaine of Marlowe and other dramatists. Gibbon introduces him in the Decline and Fall, apparently because fascinated with the subject, although he gives as a historical reason the fact that Timur's triumph in Asia delayed the final fall of Constantinople—taken by the Turks in 1453.

In early youth the future ruler of so vast an empire was engaged in struggles for ascendency with the petty chiefs of rival tribes. His boundless ambition early conceived the conquest and monarchy of the world; his wish was "to live in the memory and esteem of future ages." He was born in a period of anarchy, when the crumbling kingdoms of the Asiatic dynasties were no longer able to resist the adventurous spirit determined to occupy the new field of military triumph which opened before him. At the age of twenty-five Timur was hailed as the deliverer of his country. When he chose Samarkand as the capital of his dominion, he declared his purpose to make that dominion embrace the whole habitable earth; and at the height of his power he ruled from the Great Wall of China to the centre of Russia on the north, while his sovereignty extended to the Mediterranean and the Nile on the west, and on the east to the sources of the Ganges. In his own person he united twenty-seven different sovereignties, and nine several dynasties of kings gave place to the unparalleled conqueror, who won by the sword a larger portion of the globe than Cyrus or Alexander, Cæsar or Attila, Genghis Khan, Charlemagne, or Napoleon.

It was believed in the family and empire of Timur that he himself composed the Commentaries of his life and the Institutions of his government, which, however, were probably the work of his secretaries. These manuscripts have been of great service to historians in their study of Timur's career.

AT the age of thirty-four, and in a general diet, Timur was invested with imperial command, but he affected to revere the house of Genghis; and while the emir Timur reigned over Zagatai and the East, a nominal khan served as a private officer170 in the armies of his servant. Without expatiating on the victories of thirty-five campaigns, without describing the lines of march which he repeatedly traced over the continent of Asia, I shall briefly represent Timur's conquests in Persia, Tartary, and India, and from thence proceed to the more interesting narrative of his Ottoman war.

No sooner had Timur reunited to the patrimony of Zagatai the dependent countries of Karizme and Kandahar than he turned his eyes toward the kingdoms of Iran or Persia. From the Oxus to the Tigris that extensive country was without a lawful sovereign. Peace and justice had been banished from the land above forty years; and the Mongol invader might seem to listen to the cries of an oppressed people. Their petty tyrants might have opposed him with confederate arms: they separately stood and successively fell; and the difference of their fate was only marked by the promptitude of submission or the obstinacy of resistance. Ibrahim, Prince of Shirwan or Albania, kissed the footstool of the imperial throne. His peace offerings of silks, horses, and jewels were composed, according to the Tartar fashion, each article of nine pieces; but a critical spectator observed that there were only eight slaves. "I myself am the ninth," replied Ibraham, who was prepared for the remark: and his flattery was rewarded by the smile of Timur.

Shah Mansur, Prince of Fars, or the proper Persia, was one of the least powerful, but most dangerous, of his enemies. In a battle under the walls of Shiraz, he broke, with three or four thousand soldiers, the coul, or main body, of thirty thousand horse, where the Emperor fought in person. No more than fourteen or fifteen guards remained near the standard of Timur; he stood firm as a rock, and received on his helmet two weighty strokes of a cimeter; the Mongols rallied; the head of Mansur was thrown at his feet; and he declared his esteem of the valor of a foe by extirpating all the males of so intrepid a race. From Shiraz his troops advanced to the Persian Gulf; and the richness and weakness of Ormus were displayed in an annual tribute of six hundred thousand dinars of gold.

Bagdad was no longer the city of peace, the seat of the caliphs; but the noblest conquest of Khulagu could not be overlooked171 by his ambitious successor. The whole course of the Tigris and Euphrates, from the mouth to the sources of those rivers, was reduced to his obedience; he entered Edessa; and the Turcomans of the black sheep were chastised for the sacrilegious pillage of a caravan of Mecca. In the mountains of Georgia the native Christians still braved the law and the sword of Mahomet; by three expeditions he obtained the merit of the gazie, or holy war; and the Prince of Tiflis became his proselyte and friend.

A just retaliation might be urged for the invasion of Turkestan, or the Eastern Tartary. The dignity of Timur could not endure the impunity of the Getes: he passed the Sihun, subdued the kingdom of Kashgar, and marched seven times into the heart of their country. His most distant camp was two months' journey to the northeast of Samarkand; and his emirs, who traversed the river Irtysh, engraved in the forests of Siberia a rude memorial of their exploits. The conquest of Kiptchak, or the Western Tartary, was founded on the double motive of aiding the distressed and chastising the ungrateful. Toctamish, a fugitive prince, was entertained and protected in his court; the ambassadors of Auruss Khan were dismissed with a haughty denial, and followed on the same day by the armies of Zagatai; and their success established Toctamish in the Mongol empire of the North.

But, after a reign of ten years, the new Khan forgot the merits and the strength of his benefactor—the base usurper, as he deemed him, of the sacred rights of the house of Genghis. Through the gates of Derbent he entered Persia at the head of ninety thousand horse: with the innumerable forces of Kiptchak, Bulgaria, Circassia, and Russia, he passed the Sihun, burned the palaces of Timur, and compelled him, amid the winter snows, to contend for Samarkand and his life. After a mild expostulation and a glorious victory the Emperor resolved on revenge; and by the east and the west of the Caspian and the Volga he twice invaded Kiptchak with such mighty powers that thirteen miles were measured from his right to his left wing. In a march of five months they rarely beheld the footsteps of man; and their daily subsistence was often trusted to the fortune of the chase. At length the armies encountered each172 other; but the treachery of the standard-bearer, who, in the heat of action, reversed the imperial standard of Kiptchak, determined the victory of the Zagatais and Toctamish—I speak the language of the Institutions—gave the tribe of Toushi to the wind of desolation. He fled to the Christian Duke of Lithuania, again returned to the banks of the Volga, and, after fifteen battles with a domestic rival, at last perished in the wilds of Siberia.

The pursuit of a flying enemy carried Timur into the tributary provinces of Russia; a duke of the reigning family was made prisoner amid the ruins of his capital; and Yelets, by the pride and ignorance of the orientals, might easily be confounded with the genuine metropolis of the nation. Moscow trembled at the approach of the Tartar. Ambition and prudence recalled him to the south, the desolate country was exhausted, and the Mongol soldiers were enriched with an immense spoil of precious furs, of linen of Antioch, and of ingots of gold and silver. On the banks of the Don, or Tanais, he received a humble deputation from the consuls and merchants of Egypt, Venice, Genoa, Catalonia, and Biscay, who occupied the commerce and city of Tana, or Azov, at the mouth of the river. They offered their gifts, admired his magnificence, and trusted his royal word. But the peaceful visit of an emir, who explored the state of the magazines and harbor, was speedily followed by the destructive presence of the Tartars. The city of Tana was reduced to ashes; the Moslems were pillaged and dismissed; but all the Christians who had not fled to their ships were condemned either to death or slavery. Revenge prompted him to burn the cities of Sarai and Astrakhan, the monuments of rising civilization; and his vanity proclaimed that he had penetrated to the region of perpetual daylight, a strange phenomenon, which authorized his Mahometan doctors to dispense with the obligation of evening prayer.

When Timur first proposed to his princes and emirs the invasion of India or Hindustan, he was answered by a murmur of discontent: "The rivers! and the mountains and deserts! and the soldiers clad in armor! and the elephants, destroyers of men!" But the displeasure of the Emperor was more dreadful than all these terrors; and his superior reason was173 convinced that an enterprise of such tremendous aspect was safe and easy in the execution. He was informed by his spies of the weakness and anarchy of Hindustan: the subahs of the provinces had erected the standard of rebellion; and the perpetual infancy of Sultan Mahmud was despised even in the harem of Delhi. The Mongol army moved in three great divisions, and Timur observes with pleasure that the ninety-two squadrons of a thousand horse most fortunately corresponded with the ninety-two names or epithets of the prophet Mahomet.

Between the Jihun and the Indus they crossed one of the ridges of mountains which are styled by the Arabian geographers the "Stony Girdles of the Earth." The highland robbers were subdued or extirpated; but great numbers of men and horses perished in the snow; the Emperor himself was let down a precipice on a portable scaffold—the ropes were one hundred and fifty cubits in length—and before he could reach the bottom, this dangerous operation was five times repeated. Timur crossed the Indus at the ordinary passage of Attock, and successively traversed, in the footsteps of Alexander, the Punjab, or five rivers, that fall into the master stream. From Attock to Delhi the high road measures no more than six hundred miles; but the two conquerors deviated to the southeast; and the motive of Timur was to join his grandson, who had achieved by his command the conquest of Multan. On the eastern bank of the Hyphasis, on the edge of the desert, the Macedonian hero halted and wept; the Mongol entered the desert, reduced the fortress of Batnir, and stood in arms before the gates of Delhi, a great and flourishing city, which had subsisted three centuries under the dominion of the Mahometan kings.

The siege, more especially of the castle, might have been a work of time; but he tempted, by the appearance of weakness, the Sultan Mahmud and his wazir to descend into the plain, with ten thousand cuirassiers, forty thousand of his foot-guards, and one hundred and twenty elephants, whose tusks are said to have been armed with sharp and poisoned daggers. Against these monsters, or rather against the imagination of his troops, he condescended to use some extraordinary precautions of fire and a ditch, of iron spikes and a rampart of bucklers; but the event taught the Mongols to smile at their own fears; and as174 soon as these unwieldy animals were routed, the inferior species (the men of India) disappeared from the field. Timur made his triumphal entry into the capital of Hindustan, and admired, with a view to imitate, the architecture of the stately mosque; but the order or license of a general pillage and massacre polluted the festival of his victory. He resolved to purify his soldiers in the blood of the idolaters, or Gentoos, who still surpass, in the proportion of ten to one, the numbers of the Moslems. In this pious design he advanced one hundred miles to the northeast of Delhi, passed the Ganges, fought several battles by land and water, and penetrated to the famous rock of Cupele, the statue of the cow,58 that seems to discharge the mighty river, whose source is far distant among the mountains of Tibet. His return was along the skirts of the northern hills; nor could this rapid campaign of one year justify the strange foresight of his emirs, that their children in a warm climate would degenerate into a race of Hindus.

It was on the banks of the Ganges that Timur was informed, by his speedy messengers, of the disturbances which had arisen on the confines of Georgia and Anatolia, of the revolt of the Christians, and the ambitious designs of the sultan Bajazet. His vigor of mind and body was not impaired by sixty-three years and innumerable fatigues; and, after enjoying some tranquil months in the palace of Samarkand, he proclaimed a new expedition of seven years into the western countries of Asia. To the soldiers who had served in the Indian war he granted the choice of remaining at home or following their prince; but the troops of all the provinces and kingdoms of Persia were commanded to assemble at Ispahan and wait the arrival of the imperial standard. It was first directed against the Christians of Georgia, who were strong only in their rocks, their castles, and the winter season; but these obstacles were overcome by the zeal and perseverance of Timur: the rebels submitted 175to the tribute or the Koran; and if both religions boasted of their martyrs, that name is more justly due to the Christian prisoners, who were offered the choice of abjuration or death.

On his descent from the hills the Emperor gave audience to the first ambassadors of Bajazet, and opened the hostile correspondence of complaints and menaces, which fermented two years before the final explosion. Between two jealous and haughty neighbors, the motives of quarrel will seldom be wanting. The Mongol and Ottoman conquests now touched each other in the neighborhood of Erzerum and the Euphrates; nor had the doubtful limit been ascertained by time and treaty. Each of these ambitious monarchs might accuse his rival of violating his territory, of threatening his vassals and protecting his rebels; and, by the name of rebels, each understood the fugitive princes, whose kingdoms he had usurped and whose life or liberty he implacably pursued. In their victorious career Timur was impatient of an equal, and Bajazet was ignorant of a superior.

In his first expedition, Timur was satisfied with the siege and destruction of Sebaste, a strong city on the borders of Anatolia. He then turned aside to the invasion of Syria and Egypt, where the military republic of the mamelukes still reigned. The Syrian emirs were assembled at Aleppo to repel the invasion; they confided in the fame and discipline of the mamelukes, in the temper of their swords and lances of the purest steel of Damascus, in the strength of their walled cities, and in the populousness of sixty thousand villages; and instead of sustaining a siege, they threw open their gates and arrayed their forces in the plain. But these forces were not cemented by virtue and union, and some powerful emirs had been seduced to desert or betray their more loyal companions. Timur's front was covered with a line of Indian elephants, whose turrets were filled with archers and Greek fire; the rapid evolutions of his cavalry completed the dismay and disorder; the Syrian crowds fell back on each other; many thousands were stifled or slaughtered in the entrance of the great street; the Mongols entered with the fugitives; and after a short defence the impregnable citadel of Aleppo was surrendered by cowardice or treachery. Among the suppliants and captives, Timur distinguished176 the doctors of the law, whom he invited to the dangerous honor of a personal conference. The Mongol Prince was a zealous Mussulman; but his Persian schools had taught him to revere the memory of Ali and Hasan; and he had imbibed a deep prejudice against the Syrians as the enemies of the son of the daughter of the apostle of God. To these doctors he proposed a captious question, which the casuists of Samarkand and Herat were incapable of resolving. "Who are the true martyrs, of those who are slain on my side or on that of my enemies?" But he was silenced, or satisfied, by the dexterity of one of the cadis of Aleppo, who replied, in the words of Mahomet himself, that the motive, not the ensign, constitutes the martyr; and that the Moslems of either party who fight only for the glory of God may deserve that sacred appellation. The true succession of the caliphs was a controversy of a still more delicate nature; and the frankness of a doctor, too honest for his situation, provoked the Emperor to exclaim: "Ye are as false as those of Damascus: Moawiyah was a usurper, Yezid a tyrant, and Ali alone is the lawful successor of the Prophet." A prudent explanation restored his tranquillity, and he passed to a more familiar topic of conversation. "What is your age?" said he to the cadi. "Fifty years." "It would be the age of my eldest son: you see me here," continued Timur, "a poor, lame, decrepit mortal. Yet by my arms has the Almighty been pleased to subdue the kingdoms of Iran, Turan, and the Indies. I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity." During this peaceful conversation the streets of Aleppo streamed with blood and reëchoed with the cries of mothers and children, with the shrieks of violated virgins. The rich plunder that was abandoned to his soldiers might stimulate their avarice; but their cruelty was enforced by the peremptory command of producing an adequate number of heads, which, according to his custom, were curiously piled in columns and pyramids. The Mongols celebrated the feast of victory, while the surviving Moslems passed the night in tears and in chains.

I shall not dwell on the march of the destroyer from Aleppo to Damascus, where he was rudely encountered, and almost177 overthrown, by the armies of Egypt. A retrograde motion was imputed to his distress and despair; one of his nephews deserted to the enemy; and Syria rejoiced in the tale of his defeat, when the Sultan was driven, by the revolt of the mamelukes, to escape with precipitation and shame to his palace of Cairo. Abandoned by their Prince, the inhabitants of Damascus still defended their walls; and Timur consented to raise the siege if they would adorn his retreat with a gift or ransom, each article of nine pieces. But no sooner had he introduced himself into the city, under color of a truce, than he perfidiously violated the treaty, imposed a contribution of ten millions of gold, and animated his troops to chastise the posterity of those Syrians who had executed, or approved, the murder of the grandson of Mahomet. After a period of seven centuries Damascus was reduced to ashes, because a Tartar was moved by religious zeal to avenge the blood of an Arab.

The losses and fatigues of the campaign obliged Timur to renounce the conquest of Palestine and Egypt; but in his return to the Euphrates he delivered Aleppo to the flames and justified his pious motive by the pardon and reward of two thousand sectaries of Ali, who were desirous to visit the tomb of his son. I have expatiated on the personal anecdotes which mark the character of the Mongol hero, but I shall briefly mention that he erected, on the ruins of Bagdad, a pyramid of ninety thousand heads; again visited Georgia; encamped on the banks of the Araxes; and proclaimed his resolution of marching against the Ottoman Emperor. Conscious of the importance of the war, he collected his forces from every province; eight hundred thousand men were enrolled on his military list, but the splendid commands of five and ten thousand horse may be rather expressive of the rank and pension of the chiefs than of the genuine number of effective soldiers. In the pillage of Syria the Mongols had acquired immense riches; but the delivery of their pay and arrears for seven years more firmly attached them to the imperial standard.

During this diversion of the Mongol arms, Bajazet had two years to collect his forces for a more serious encounter. They consisted of four hundred thousand horse and foot whose merit and fidelity were of an unequal complexion. We may178 discriminate the janizaries, who have been gradually raised to an establishment of forty thousand men; a national cavalry (the spahis of modern times); twenty thousand cuirassiers of Europe, clad in black and impenetrable armor; the troops of Anatolia, whose princes had taken refuge in the camp of Timur: and a colony of Tartars, whom he had driven from Kiptchak, and to whom Bajazet had assigned a settlement in the plains of Adrianople. The fearless confidence of the Sultan urged him to meet his antagonist; and, as if he had chosen that spot for revenge, he displayed his banner near the ruins of the unfortunate Sebaste.

In the mean while Timur moved from the Araxes through the countries of Armenia and Anatolia. His boldness was secured by the wisest precautions; his speed was guided by order and discipline; and the woods, the mountains, and the rivers were diligently explored by the flying squadrons, who marked his road and preceded his standard. Firm in his plan of fighting in the heart of the Ottoman kingdom, he avoided their camp, dexterously inclined to the left, occupied Cæsarea, traversed the salt desert and the river Halys, and invested Angora; while the Sultan, immovable and ignorant in his post, compared the Tartar swiftness to the crawling of a snail. He returned on the wings of indignation to the relief of Angora; and as both generals were alike impatient for action, the plains round that city were the scene of a memorable battle, which has immortalized the glory of Timur and the shame of Bajazet.

For this signal victory the Mongol Emperor was indebted to himself, to the genius of the moment, and the discipline of thirty years. He had improved the tactics, without violating the manners, of his nation, whose force still consisted in the missile weapons and rapid evolutions of a numerous cavalry. From a single troop to a great army, the mode of attack was the same; a foremost line first advanced to the charge, and was supported in a just order by the squadrons of the great vanguard. The general's eye watched over the field, and at his command the front and rear of the right and left wings successively moved forward in their several divisions, and in a direct or oblique line; the enemy was pressed by eighteen or twenty attacks;179 and each attack afforded a chance of victory. If they all proved fruitless or unsuccessful, the occasion was worthy of the Emperor himself, who gave the signal of advancing to the standard and main body, which he led in person. But in the battle of Angora, the main body itself was supported, on the flanks and in the rear, by the bravest squadrons of the reserve, commanded by the sons and grandsons of Timur. The conqueror of Hindustan ostentatiously showed a line of elephants, the trophies rather than the instruments of victory; the use of the Greek fire was familiar to the Mongols and Ottomans; but had they borrowed from Europe the recent invention of gunpowder and cannon, the artificial thunder, in the hands of either nation, must have turned the fortune of the day. In that day Bajazet displayed the qualities of a soldier and a chief; but his genius sunk under a stronger ascendant; and, from various motives, the greatest part of his troops failed him in the decisive moment. His rigor and avarice had provoked a mutiny among the Turks; and even his son Solyman too hastily withdrew from the field. The forces of Anatolia, loyal in their revolt, were drawn away to the banners of their lawful princes. His Tartar allies had been tempted by the letters and emissaries of Timur, who reproached their ignoble servitude under the slaves of their fathers; and offered to their hopes the dominion of their new, or the liberty of their ancient, country. In the right wing of Bajazet the cuirassiers of Europe charged with faithful hearts and irresistible arms; but these men of iron were soon broken by an artful flight and headlong pursuit; and the janizaries, alone, without cavalry or missile weapons, were encompassed by the circle of the Mongol hunters. Their valor was at length oppressed by heat, thirst, and the weight of numbers; and the unfortunate Sultan, afflicted with the gout in his hands and feet, was transported from the field on the fleetest of his horses. He was pursued and taken by the titular Khan of Zagatai; and, after his capture and the defeat of the Ottoman powers, the kingdom of Anatolia submitted to the conqueror, who planted his standard at Kiotahia, and dispersed on all sides the ministers of rapine and destruction. Mirza Mehemmed Sultan, the eldest and best beloved of his grandsons, was despatched to Bursa, with thirty thousand horse; and such was180 his youthful ardor that he arrived with only four thousand at the gates of the capital, after performing in five days a march of two hundred and thirty miles. Yet fear is still more rapid in its course; and Solyman, the son of Bajazet, had already passed over to Europe with the royal treasure. The spoil, however, of the palace and city was immense; the inhabitants had escaped; but the buildings, for the most part of wood, were reduced to ashes. From Bursa, the grandson of Timur advanced to Nice, even yet a fair and flourishing city; and the Mongol squadrons were only stopped by the waves of the Propontis. The same success attended the other mirzas and emirs in their excursions, and Smyrna, defended by the zeal and courage of the Rhodian knights, alone deserved the presence of the Emperor himself. After an obstinate defence, the place was taken by storm; all that breathed was put to the sword; and the heads of the Christian heroes were launched from the engines, on board of two caracks, or great ships of Europe, that rode at anchor in the harbor. The Moslems of Asia rejoiced in their deliverance from a dangerous and domestic foe and a parallel was drawn between the two rivals, by observing that Timur, in fourteen days, had reduced a fortress which had sustained seven years the siege, or at least the blockade, of Bajazet.

The "iron cage" in which Bajazet was imprisoned by Timur, so long and so often repeated as a moral lesson, is now rejected as a fable by the modern writers, who smile at the vulgar credulity. They appeal with confidence to the Persian history of Sherefeddin Ali, according to which has been given to our curiosity in a French version, and from which I shall collect and abridge, a more specious narrative of this memorable transaction. No sooner was Timur informed that the captive Ottoman was at the door of his tent than he graciously stepped forward to receive him, seated him by his side, and mingled with just reproaches a soothing pity for his rank and misfortune.

"Alas!" said the Emperor, "the decree of fate is now accomplished by your own fault; it is the web which you have woven, the thorns of the tree which yourself have planted. I wished to spare, and even to assist, the champion of the Moslems. You braved our threats; you despised our friendship;181 you forced us to enter your kingdom with our invincible armies. Behold the event. Had you vanquished, I am not ignorant of the fate which you reserved for myself and my troops. But I disdain to retaliate; your life and honor are secure; and I shall express my gratitude to God by my clemency to man."

The royal captive showed some signs of repentance, accepted the humiliation of a robe of honor, and embraced with tears his son Musa, who, at his request, was sought and found among the captives of the field. The Ottoman princes were lodged in a splendid pavilion; and the respect of the guards could be surpassed only by their vigilance. On the arrival of the harem from Bursa, Timur restored the queen Despina and her daughter to their father and husband; but he piously required that the Servian princess, who had hitherto been indulged in the profession of Christianity, should embrace, without delay, the religion of the Prophet. In the feast of victory, to which Bajazet was invited, the Mongol Emperor placed a crown on his head and a sceptre in his hand, with a solemn assurance of restoring him with an increase of glory to the throne of his ancestors. But the effect of this promise was disappointed by the Sultan's untimely death. Amid the care of the most skilful physicians, he expired of an apoplexy, about nine months after his defeat. The victor dropped a tear over his grave; his body, with royal pomp, was conveyed to the mausoleum which he had erected at Bursa; and his son Musa, after receiving a rich present of gold and jewels, of horses and arms, was invested by a patent in red ink with the kingdom of Anatolia.

Such is the portrait of a generous conqueror, which has been extracted from his own memorials and dedicated to his son and grandson, nineteen years after his decease; and, at a time when the truth was remembered by thousands, a manifest falsehood would have implied a satire on his real conduct. Weighty, indeed, is this evidence, adopted by all the Persian histories; yet flattery, more especially in the East, is base and audacious; and the harsh and ignominious treatment of Bajazet is attested by a chain of witnesses.

I am satisfied that Sherefeddin Ali has faithfully described the first ostentatious interview, in which the conqueror, whose spirits were harmonized by success, affected the character of182 generosity. But his mind was insensibly alienated by the unseasonable arrogance of Bajazet; and Timur betrayed a design of leading his royal captive in triumph to Samarkand. An attempt to facilitate his escape, by digging a mine under the tent, provoked the Mongol Emperor to impose a harsher restraint; and in his perpetual marches, an iron cage on a wagon might be invented, not as a wanton insult, but as a rigorous precaution. But the strength of Bajazet's mind and body fainted under the trial, and his premature death might, without injustice, be ascribed to the severity of Timur.

From the Irtysh and Volga to the Persian Gulf, and from the Ganges to Damascus and the Archipelago, Asia was in the hands of Timur; his armies were invincible, his ambition was boundless, and his zeal might aspire to conquer and convert the Christian kingdoms of the West, which already trembled at his name. He touched the utmost verge of the land; but an insuperable, though narrow, sea rolled between the two continents of Europe and Asia; and the lord of so many myriads of horse was not master of a single galley. The two passages of the Bosporus and Hellespont, of Constantinople and Gallipoli, were possessed, the one by the Christians, the other by the Turks. On this great occasion they forgot the difference of religion, to act with union and firmness in the common cause; the double straits were guarded with ships and fortifications; and they separately withheld the transports which Timur demanded of either nation, under the pretence of attacking their enemy. At the same time they soothed his pride with tributary gifts and suppliant embassies, and prudently tempted him to retreat with the honors of victory. Solyman, the son of Bajazet, implored his clemency for his father and himself; accepted, by a red patent, the investiture of the kingdom of Romania, which he already held by the sword; and reiterated his ardent wish of casting himself in person at the feet of the king of the world. The Greek Emperor—either John or Manuel—submitted to pay the same tribute which he had stipulated with the Turkish Sultan, and ratified the treaty by an oath of allegiance, from which he could absolve his conscience so soon as the Mongol arms had retired from Anatolia. But the fears and fancy of nations ascribed to the ambitious Tamerlane a new design of183 vast and romantic compass; a design of subduing Egypt and Africa, marching from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean, entering Europe by the Straits of Gibraltar, and, after imposing his yoke on the kingdoms of Christendom, of returning home by the deserts of Russia and Tartary. This remote, and perhaps imaginary, danger was averted by the submission of the Sultan of Egypt, the honors of the prayer and the coin attested at Cairo the supremacy of Timur; and a rare gift of a giraffe, or camelopard, and nine ostriches, represented at Samarkand the tribute of the African world. Our imagination is not less astonished by the portrait of a Mongol, who, in his camp before Smyrna, meditates, and almost accomplishes, the invasion of the Chinese empire. Timur was urged to this enterprise by national honor and religious zeal. He received a perfect map and description of the unknown regions, from the source of Irtysh to the Wall of China. During the preparations, the Emperor achieved the final conquest of Georgia; passed the winter on the banks of the Araxes; appeased the troubles of Persia; and slowly returned to his capital, after a campaign of four years and nine months.

On the throne of Samarkand he displayed, in a short repose, his magnificence and power; listened to the complaints of the people; distributed a just measure of rewards and punishments; employed his riches in the architecture of palaces and temples; and gave audience to the ambassadors of Egypt, Arabia, India, Tartary, Russia, and Spain, the last of whom presented a suit of tapestry which eclipsed the pencil of the oriental artists. A general indulgence was proclaimed; every law was relaxed, every pleasure was allowed; the people was free, the sovereign was idle; and the historian of Timur may remark that, after devoting fifty years to the attainment of empire, the only happy period of his life was the two months in which he ceased to exercise his power.

But he soon awakened to the cares of government and war. The standard was unfurled for the invasion of China; the emirs made their report of two hundred thousand, the select and veteran soldiers of Iran and Turan; their baggage and provisions were transported by five hundred great wagons and an immense train of horses and camels; and the troops might184 prepare for a long absence, since more than six months were employed in the tranquil journey of a caravan from Samarkand to Peking. Neither age nor the severity of the winter could retard the impatience of Timur; he mounted on horseback, passed the Sihun on the ice, marched seventy-six parasangs (three hundred miles) from his capital, and pitched his last camp in the neighborhood of Otrar, where he was expected by the angel of death. Fatigue and the indiscreet use of iced water accelerated the progress of his fever; and the conqueror of Asia expired in the seventieth year of his age, 1405, thirty-five years after he had ascended the throne of Zagatai. His designs were lost; his armies were disbanded; China was saved; and, fourteen years after his decease, the most powerful of his children sent an embassy of friendship and commerce to the court of Peking.

The fame of Timur has pervaded the East and West; his posterity is still invested with the imperial title; and the admiration of his subjects, who revered him almost as a deity, may be justified in some degree by the praise or confession of his bitterest enemies. Although he was lame of a hand and foot, his form and stature were not unworthy of his rank; and his vigorous health, so essential to himself and to the world, was corroborated by temperance and exercise. In his familiar discourse he was grave and modest; and if he was ignorant of the Arabic language, he spoke with fluency and elegance the Persian and Turkish idioms. It was his delight to converse with the learned on topics of history and science; and the amusement of his leisure hours was the game of chess, which he improved or corrupted with new refinements.

In his religion he was a zealous, though not perhaps an orthodox, Mussulman; but his sound understanding may tempt us to believe that a superstitious reverence for omens and prophecies, for saints and astrologers, was only affected as an instrument of policy. In the government of a vast empire, he stood alone and absolute, without a rebel to oppose his power, a favorite to seduce his affections, or a minister to mislead his judgment.

Timur might boast that at his accession to the throne Asia was the prey of anarchy and rapine, while under his prosperous185 monarchy a child, fearless and unhurt, might carry a purse of gold from the East to the West. Such was his confidence of merit that from this reformation he derived an excuse for his victories and a title to universal dominion. The four following observations will serve to appreciate his claim to the public gratitude; and perhaps we shall conclude that the Mongol Emperor was rather the scourge than the benefactor of mankind. If some partial disorders, some local oppressions, were healed by the sword of Timur, the remedy was far more pernicious than the disease. By their rapine, cruelty, and discord the petty tyrants of Persia might afflict their subjects; but whole nations were crushed under the footsteps of the reformer. The ground which had been occupied by flourishing cities was often marked by his abominable trophies—by columns, or pyramids of human heads. Astrakhan, Karizme, Delhi, Ispahan, Bagdad, Aleppo, Damascus, Bursa, Smyrna, and a thousand others were sacked or burned or utterly destroyed in his presence and by his troops; and perhaps his conscience would have been startled if a priest or philosopher had dared to number the millions of victims whom he had sacrificed to the establishment of peace and order. His most destructive wars were rather inroads than conquests. He invaded Turkestan, Kiptchak, Russia, Hindustan, Syria, Anatolia, Armenia, and Georgia, without a hope or a desire of preserving those distant provinces. From thence he departed laden with spoil; but he left behind him neither troops to awe the contumacious nor magistrates to protect the obedient natives. When he had broken the fabric of their ancient government, he abandoned them in their evils which his invasion had aggravated or caused; nor were these evils compensated by any present or possible benefits. The kingdoms of Transoxiana and Persia were the proper field which he labored to cultivate and adorn as the perpetual inheritance of his family. But his peaceful labors were often interrupted, and sometimes blasted, by the absence of the conqueror. While he triumphed on the Volga or the Ganges, his servants, and even his sons, forgot their master and their duty. The public and private injuries were poorly redressed by the tardy rigor or inquiry and punishment; and we must be content to praise the Institutions of Timur as the186 specious idea of a perfect monarchy. Whatsoever might be the blessings of his administration, they evaporated with his life. To reign, rather than to govern, was the ambition of his children and grandchildren—the enemies of each other and of the people. A fragment of the empire was upheld with some glory by Sharokh, his youngest son; but after his decease the scene was again involved in darkness and blood; and before the end of a century Transoxiana and Persia were trampled by the Usbegs from the north, and the Turcomans of the black and white sheep. The race of Timur would have been extinct if a hero, his descendant in the fifth degree, had not fled before the Usbeg arms to the conquest of Hindustan. His successors—the great Mongols—extended their sway from the mountains of Cashmere to Cape Comorin, and from Kandahar to the Gulf of Bengal. Since the reign of Aurungzebe, their empire has been dissolved; their treasures of Delhi have been rifled by a Persian robber; and the richest of their kingdoms is now possessed by a company of Christian merchants, of a remote island in the Northern Ocean.



A.D. 1374


The black death, which originated in Central China about 1333, appeared on the Mediterranean littoral in 1347, ravaged the island of Cyprus, made the circuit of the Mediterranean countries, spread throughout Europe northward as far as Iceland, and in 1357 appeared in Russia, where it seems to have been checked by the barrier of the Caucasus.

Scarce had its effects subsided, and the graves of its 25,000,000 victims were hardly closed, when it was followed by an epidemic of the dance of St. John, or St. Vitus, which like a demoniacal plague appeared in Germany in 1347, and spread over the whole empire and throughout the neighboring countries. The dance was characterized by wild leaping, furious screaming, and foaming at the mouth, which gave to the individuals affected all the appearance of insanity.

The epidemic was not confined to particular localities, but was propagated by the sight of the sufferers, and for over two centuries excited the astonishment of contemporaries. The Netherlands and France were equally affected; in Italy the disease became known as tarantism, it being supposed to proceed from the bite of the tarantula, a venomous spider. Like the St. Vitus' dance in Germany, tarantism spread by sympathy, increasing in severity as it took a wider range; the chief cure was music, which seemed to furnish magical means for exorcising the malady of the patients.

The epidemic subsided in Central Europe in the seventeenth century, but diseases approximating to the original dancing mania have occurred at various periods in many parts of Europe, Africa, and the United States. Nathaniel Pearce, an eye-witness, who resided nine years in Abyssinia early in the nineteenth century, gives a graphic account of a similar epidemic there, called tigretier, from the Tigré district, in which it was most prevalent. In France, from 1727 to 1790, an epidemic prevailed among the Convulsionnaires, who received relief from brethren in the faith known as Secourists, very much after the rough methods administered to the St. John's dancers and to the tarantati. About the same period nervous epidemics of a similar character, largely propagated by sympathy, were very prevalent in the Shetland Islands and in various parts of Scotland, but were for the most part eradicated by cold-water immersion.

188 An epidemic of chorea sancti Viti, recorded by Felix Robertson of Tennessee (Philadelphia, 1805), found vent in an unparalleled blaze of enthusiastic religion, which spread with lightning-like rapidity in almost every part of Tennessee and Kentucky, and in various parts of Virginia, in 1800, being distinguished by uncontrollable and infectious muscular contractions, gesticulations, crying, laughing, shouting, and singing. To similar epidemics are attributed the uncontrollable acts which, till late in the nineteenth century, were a feature of North American camp meetings for divine service in the open air, and which exhibited the same form of mental disturbance as did the St. Vitus' dance in mediæval Europe.

SO early as the year 1374, assemblages of men and women were seen at Aix-la-Chapelle who had come out of Germany, and who, united by one common delusion, exhibited to the public both in the streets and in the churches the following strange spectacle. They formed circles hand in hand, and, appearing to have lost all control over their senses, continued dancing, regardless of the bystanders, for hours together in wild delirium, until at length they fell to the ground in a state of exhaustion. They then complained of extreme oppression, and groaned as if in the agonies of death, until they were swathed in cloths bound tightly round their waists, upon which they again recovered, and remained free from complaint until the next attack. This practice of swathing was resorted to on account of the tympany which followed these spasmodic ravings, but the bystanders frequently relieved patients in a less artificial manner, by thumping and trampling upon the parts affected. While dancing they neither saw nor heard, being insensible to external impressions through the senses, but were haunted by visions, their fancies conjuring up spirits whose names they shrieked out; and some of them afterward asserted that they felt as if they had been immersed in a stream of blood, which obliged them to leap so high. Others, during the paroxysm, saw the heavens open and the Saviour enthroned with the Virgin Mary, according as the religious notions of the age were strangely and variously reflected in their imaginations.

Where the disease was completely developed, the attack commenced with epileptic convulsions. Those affected fell to the ground senseless, panting and laboring for breath. They foamed at the mouth, and suddenly springing up began their dance amid strange contortions. Yet the malady doubtless made189 its appearance very variously, and was modified by temporary or local circumstances, whereof non-medical contemporaries but imperfectly noted the essential particulars, accustomed as they were to confound their observation of natural events with their notions of the world of spirits.

It was but a few months ere this demoniacal disease had spread from Aix-la-Chapelle, where it appeared in July, over the neighboring Netherlands. In Liège, Utrecht, Tongres, and many other towns of Belgium the dancers appeared with garlands in their hair, and their waists girt with cloths, that they might, as soon as the paroxysm was over, receive immediate relief on the attack of the tympany. This bandage was, by the insertion of a stick, easily twisted tight. Many, however, obtained more relief from kicks and blows, which they found numbers of persons ready to administer; for, wherever the dancers appeared, the people assembled in crowds to gratify their curiosity with the frightful spectacle. At length the increasing number of the affected excited no less anxiety than the attention that was paid to them. In towns and villages they took possession of the religious houses; processions were everywhere instituted on their account and masses were said and hymns were sung, while the disease itself, of the demoniacal origin of which no one entertained the least doubt, excited everywhere astonishment and horror. In Liège the priests had recourse to exorcisms, and endeavored, by every means in their power, to allay an evil which threatened so much danger to themselves; for the possessed, assembling in multitudes, frequently poured forth imprecations against them and menaced their destruction. They intimidated the people also to such a degree that there was an express ordinance issued that no one should make any but square-toed shoes, because these fanatics had manifested a morbid dislike to the pointed shoes which had come into fashion immediately after the "great mortality," in 1350. They were still more irritated at the sight of red colors, the influence of which on the disordered nerves might lead us to imagine an extraordinary accordance between this spasmodic malady and the condition of infuriated animals; but in the St. John's dancers this excitement was probably connected with apparitions consequent upon their convulsions. There were likewise some of them who were unable190 to endure the sight of persons weeping. The clergy seemed to become daily more and more confirmed in their belief that those who were affected were a kind of sectarians, and on this account they hastened their exorcisms as much as possible, in order that the evil might not spread among the higher classes, for hitherto scarcely any but the poor had been attacked, and the few people of respectability among the laity and clergy who were to be found among them were persons whose natural frivolity was unable to withstand the excitement of novelty, even though it proceeded from a demoniacal influence. Some of the affected had indeed themselves declared, when under the influence of priestly forms of exorcism, that, if the demons had been allowed only a few weeks more time, they would have entered the bodies of the nobility and princes, and through these have destroyed the clergy. Assertions of this sort, which those possessed uttered while in a state which may be compared with that of magnetic sleep, obtained general belief, and passed from mouth to mouth with wonderful additions. The priesthood were, on this account, so much the more zealous in their endeavors to anticipate every dangerous excitement of the people, as if the existing order of things could have been seriously threatened by such incoherent ravings. Their exertions were effectual, for exorcism was a powerful remedy in the fourteenth century; or it might perhaps be that this wild infatuation terminated in consequence of the exhaustion which naturally ensued from it; at all events, in the course of ten or eleven months the St. John's dancers were no longer to be found in any of the cities of Belgium. The evil, however, was too deeply rooted to give way altogether to such feeble attacks.

A few months after this dancing malady had made its appearance at Aix-la-Chapelle, it broke out at Cologne, where the number of those possessed amounted to more than five hundred, and about the same time at Metz, the streets of which place are said to have been filled with eleven hundred dancers. Peasants left their ploughs, mechanics their workshops, housewives their domestic duties, to join the wild revels, and this rich commercial city became the scene of the most ruinous disorder. Secret desires were excited, and but too often found opportunities for wild enjoyment; and numerous beggars, stimulated by vice and misery,191 availed themselves of this new complaint to gain a temporary livelihood. Girls and boys quitted their parents, and servants their masters, to amuse themselves at the dances of those possessed, and greedily imbibed the poison of mental infection. Gangs of idle vagabonds, who understood how to imitate to the life the gestures and convulsions of those really affected, roved from place to place seeking maintenance and adventures, and thus, wherever they went, spreading this disgusting spasmodic disease like a plague; for in maladies of this kind the susceptible are infected as easily by the appearance as by the reality. At last it was found necessary to drive away these mischievous guests, who were equally inaccessible to the exorcisms of the priests and the remedies of the physicians. It was not, however, until after four months that the Rhenish cities were able to suppress these impostors, which had so alarmingly increased the original evil. In the mean time, when once called into existence, the plague crept on, and found abundant food in the tone of thought which prevailed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and even, though in a minor degree, throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth, causing a permanent disorder of the mind, and exhibiting, in those cities to whose inhabitants it was a novelty, scenes as strange as they were detestable.

Strasburg was visited by the dancing plague, or St. Vitus' dance,60 in the year 1418, and the same infatuation existed among 192the people there as in the towns of Belgium and the Lower Rhine. Many who were seized at the sight of those affected, excited attention at first by their confused and absurd behavior, and then by their constantly following the swarms of dancers. These were seen day and night passing through the streets, accompanied by musicians playing on bagpipes, and by innumerable spectators attracted by curiosity, to which were added anxious parents and relations, who came to look after those among the misguided multitude who belonged to their respective families. Imposture and profligacy played their part in this city also, but the morbid delusion itself seems to have predominated. On this account religion could only bring provisional aid, and therefore the town council benevolently took an interest in the afflicted. They divided them into separate parties, to each of which they appointed responsible superintendents to protect them from harm and perhaps also to restrain their turbulence. They were thus conducted on foot and in carriages to the chapels of St. Vitus, hear Zabern and Rotestein, where priests were in attendance to work upon their misguided minds by masses and other religious ceremonies. After divine worship was completed, they were led in solemn procession to the altar, where they made some small offering of alms, and where it is probable that many were, through the influence of devotion and the sanctity of the place, cured of this lamentable aberration. It is worthy of observation, at all events, that the dancing mania did not recommence at the altars of the saint, and that from him alone assistance was implored, and through his miraculous interposition a cure was expected, which was beyond the reach of human skill. The personal history of St. Vitus is by no means unimportant in this matter. He was a Sicilian youth, who, together with Modestus and Crescentia, suffered martyrdom at the time of the persecution of the Christians, under Diocletian, in the year 303. The legends respecting him are obscure, and he would certainly have been passed over without notice among the innumerable apocryphal martyrs of the first centuries, had not the transfer of his body to St. Denis, and thence, in the year 836, to Corvey, raised him to a higher rank. From this time forth, it may be supposed that many miracles were manifested at his new sepulchre, which were of essential service in confirming193 the Roman faith among the Germans, and St. Vitus was soon ranked among the fourteen saintly helpers (Nothhelfer or Apotheker). His altars were multiplied, and the people had recourse to them in all kinds of distresses, and revered him as a powerful intercessor. As the worship of these saints was, however, at that time stripped of all historical connections, which were purposely obliterated by the priesthood, a legend was invented at the beginning of the fifteenth century, or perhaps even so early as the fourteenth, that St. Vitus had, just before he bent his neck to the sword, prayed to God that he might protect from the dancing mania all those who should solemnize the day of his commemoration, and fast upon its eve, and that thereupon a voice from heaven was heard, saying, "Vitus, thy prayer is accepted." Thus St. Vitus became the patron saint of those afflicted with the dancing plague, as St. Martin of Tours was at one time the succorer of persons in smallpox.

The connection which John the Baptist had with the dancing mania of the fourteenth century was of a totally different character. He was originally far from being a protecting saint to those who were attacked, or one who would be likely to give them relief from a malady considered as the work of the devil. On the contrary, the manner in which he was worshipped afforded an important and very evident cause for its development. From the remotest period, perhaps even so far back as the fourth century, St. John's Day was solemnized with all sorts of strange and rude customs, of which the originally mystical meaning was variously disfigured among different nations by super-added relics of heathenism. Thus the Germans transferred to the festival of St. John's Day an ancient heathen usage, the kindling of the Nodfyr, which was forbidden them by St. Boniface, and the belief subsists even to the present day that people and animals that have leaped through these flames, or their smoke, are protected for a whole year from fevers and other diseases, as if by a kind of baptism by fire. Bacchanalian dances, which have originated in similar causes among all the rude nations of the earth, and the wild extravagancies of a heated imagination, were the constant accompaniments of this half-heathen, half-Christian festival. At the period of which we are treating, however, the Germans were not the only people who gave way to the194 ebullitions of fanaticism in keeping the festival of St. John the Baptist. Similar customs were also to be found among the nations of Southern Europe and of Asia,61 and it is more than probable that the Greeks transferred to the festival of John the Baptist, who is also held in high esteem among the Mahometans, a part of their Bacchanalian mysteries, an absurdity of a kind which it but too frequently met with in human affairs. How far a remembrance of the history of St. John's death may have had an influence on this occasion we would leave learned theologians to decide. It is of importance here to add only that in Abyssinia, a country entirely separated from Europe, where Christianity has maintained itself in its primeval simplicity against Mahometanism, John is to this day worshipped as protecting saint of those who are attacked with the dancing malady. In these fragments of the dominion of mysticism and superstition, historical connection is not to be found.

When we observe, however, that the first dancers in Aix-la-Chapelle appeared in July with St. John's name in their mouths, the conjecture is probable that the wild revels of St. John's Day, A.D. 1374, gave rise to this mental plague, which thenceforth has visited so many thousands with incurable aberration of mind and disgusting distortions of body.

This is rendered so much the more probable because some months previously the districts in the neighborhood of the Rhine and the Maine had met with great disasters. So early as February both these rivers had overflowed their banks to a great 195extent; the walls of the town of Cologne, on the side next the Rhine, had fallen down, and a great many villages had been reduced to the utmost distress. To this was added the miserable condition of Western and Southern Germany. Neither law nor edict could suppress the incessant feuds of the barons, and in Franconia especially the ancient times of club law appeared to be revived. Security of property there was none; arbitrary will everywhere prevailed; corruption of morals and rude power rarely met with even a feeble opposition; whence it arose that the cruel, but lucrative, persecutions of the Jews were in many places still practised, through the whole of this century, with their wonted ferocity. Thus, throughout the western parts of Germany, and especially in the districts bordering on the Rhine, there was a wretched and oppressed populace; and if we take into consideration that among their numerous bands many wandered about whose consciences were tormented with the recollection of the crimes which they had committed during the prevalence of the black plague, we shall comprehend how their despair sought relief in the intoxication of an artificial delirium. There is hence good ground for supposing that the frantic celebration of the festival of St. John, A.D. 1374, only served to bring to a crisis a malady which had been long impending; and if we would further inquire how a hitherto harmless usage, which like many others had but served to keep up superstition, could degenerate into so serious a disease, we must take into account the unusual excitement of men's minds and the consequences of wretchedness and want. The bowels, which in many were debilitated by hunger and bad food, were precisely the parts which in most cases were attacked with excruciating pain, and the tympanitic state of the intestines points out to the intelligent physician an origin of the disorder which is well worth consideration.

The dancing mania of the year 1374 was, in fact, no new disease, but a phenomenon well known in the Middle Ages, of which many wondrous stories were traditionally current among the people. In the year 1237, upward of a hundred children were said to have been suddenly seized with this disease at Erfurt, and to have proceeded dancing and jumping along the road to Arnstadt. When they arrived at that place they fell exhausted196 to the ground, and, according to an account of an old chronicle, many of them, after they were taken home by their parents, died, and the rest remained affected to the end of their lives with the permanent tremor. Another occurrence was related to have taken place on the Mosel bridge at Utrecht, on June 17, 1278, when two hundred fanatics began to dance, and would not desist until a priest passed who was carrying the host to a person that was sick, upon which, as if in punishment of their crime, the bridge gave way, and they were all drowned. A similar event also occurred, so early as the year 1027, near the convent church of Kolbig, not far from Bernburg. According to an oft-repeated tradition, eighteen peasants, some of whose names are still preserved, are said to have disturbed divine service on Christmas Eve by dancing and brawling in the church-yard, whereupon the priest, Ruprecht, inflicted a curse upon them, that they should dance and scream for a whole year without ceasing. This curse is stated to have been completely fulfilled, so that the unfortunate sufferers at length sank knee deep into the earth, and remained the whole time without nourishment, until they were finally released by the intercession of two pious bishops. It is said that upon this they fell into a deep sleep, which lasted three days, and that four of them died; the rest continuing to suffer all their lives from a trembling of their limbs.62 It is not worth while to separate what may have been true and what the addition of crafty priests in this strangely distorted story. It is sufficient that it was believed, and related with astonishment and horror, throughout the Middle Ages, so that, when there was any exciting cause for this delirious raving, and wild rage for dancing, it failed not to produce its effects upon men whose thoughts were given up to a belief in wonders and apparitions.

This disposition of mind, altogether so peculiar to the Middle Ages, and which, happily for mankind, has yielded to an improved state of civilization and the diffusion of popular instruction, accounts for the origin and long duration of this extraordinary mental disorder. The good sense of the people 197recoiled with horror and aversion from this heavy plague, which, whenever malevolent persons wished to curse their bitterest enemies and adversaries, was long after used as a malediction.63 The indignation also that was felt by the people at large against the immorality of the age was proved by their ascribing this frightful affliction to the inefficacy of baptism by unchaste priests, as if innocent children were doomed to atone, in after years, for this desecration of the sacrament administered by unholy hands. We have already mentioned what perils the priests in the Netherlands incurred from this belief. They now, indeed, endeavored to hasten their reconciliation with the irritated and at that time very degenerate people by exorcisms, which, with some, procured them greater respect than ever, because they thus visibly restored thousands of those who were affected. In general, however, there prevailed a want of confidence in their efficacy, and then the sacred rites had as little power in arresting the progress of this deeply rooted malady as the prayers and holy services subsequently had at the altars of the greatly revered martyr St. Vitus. We may, therefore, ascribe it to accident merely, and to a certain aversion to this demoniacal disease, which seemed to lie beyond the reach of human skill, that we meet with but few and imperfect notices of the St. Vitus' dance in the second half of the fifteenth century. The highly colored descriptions of the sixteenth century contradict the notion that this mental plague had in any degree diminished in its severity, and not a single fact is to be found which supports the opinion that any one of the essential symptoms of the disease, not even excepting the tympany, had disappeared, or that the disorder itself had become milder in its attacks. The physicians never, as it seems, throughout the whole of the fifteenth century, undertook the treatment of the dancing mania, which, according to the prevailing notions, appertained exclusively to the servants of the Church. Against demoniacal disorders they had no remedies, and though some at first did promulgate the opinion that the malady had its origin in natural circumstances, such as a hot temperament, and other causes named in the phraseology of the schools, yet these opinions were 198 the less examined, as it did not appear worth while to divide with a jealous priesthood the care of a host of fanatical vagabonds and beggars.

It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the St. Vitus' dance was made the subject of medical research, and stripped of its unhallowed character as a work of demons. This was effected by Paracelsus, that mighty, but as yet scarcely comprehended, reformer of medicine, whose aim it was to withdraw diseases from the pale of miraculous interpositions and saintly influences, and explain their causes upon principles deduced from his knowledge of the human frame. "We will not, however, admit that the saints have power to inflict diseases, and that these ought to be named after them, although many there are who in their theology lay great stress on this supposition, ascribing them rather to God than to nature, which is but idle talk. We dislike such nonsensical gossip as is not supported by symptoms, but only by faith, a thing which is not human, whereon the gods themselves set no value."

Such were the words which Paracelsus addressed to his contemporaries, who were as yet incapable of appreciating doctrines of this sort; for the belief in enchantment still remained everywhere unshaken, and faith in the world of spirits still held men's minds in so close a bondage that thousands were, according to their own conviction, given up as a prey to the devil; while, at the command of religion as well as of law, countless piles were lighted, by the flames of which human society was to be purified.

Paracelsus divides the St. Vitus' dance into three kinds: First, that which arises from imagination (Vitista, chorea imaginativa, æstimativa), by which the original dancing plague is to be understood; secondly, that which arises from sensual desires, depending on the will (chorea lasciva); thirdly, that which arises from corporeal causes (chorea naturalis, coacta), which, according to a strange notion of his own, he explained by maintaining that in certain vessels which are susceptible of an internal pruriency, and thence produce laughter, the blood is set in commotion, in consequence of an alteration in the vital spirits, whereby involuntary fits of intoxicating joy, and a propensity to dance, are occasioned. To this notion he was, no doubt, led from having observed a milder form of St. Vitus' dance, not199 uncommon in his time, which was accompanied by involuntary laughter, and which bore a resemblance to the hysterical laughter of the moderns, except that it was characterized by more pleasurable sensations, and by an extravagant propensity to dance. There was no howling, screaming, and jumping, as in the severer form; neither was the disposition to dance by any means insuperable. Patients thus affected, although they had not a complete control over their understandings, yet were sufficiently self-possessed, during the attack, to obey the directions which they received. There were even some among them who did not dance at all, but only felt an involuntary impulse to allay the internal sense of disquietude, which is the usual forerunner of an attack of this kind, by laughter, and quick walking carried to the extent of producing fatigue. This disorder, so different from the original type, evidently approximates to the modern chorea, or rather is in perfect accordance with it, even to the less essential symptom of laughter. A mitigation in the form of the dancing mania had thus clearly taken place at the commencement of the sixteenth century.

On the communication of the St. Vitus' dance by sympathy, Paracelsus, in his peculiar language, expresses himself with great spirit, and shows a profound knowledge of the nature of sensual impressions, which find their way to the heart—the seat of joys and emotions—which overpower the opposition of reason; and while "all other qualities and natures" are subdued, incessantly impel the patient, in consequence of his original compliance, and his all-conquering imagination, to imitate what he has seen. On his treatment of the disease we cannot bestow any great praise, but must be content with the remark that it was in conformity with the notions of the age in which he lived. For the first kind, which often originated in passionate excitement, he had a mental remedy, the efficacy of which is not to be despised, if we estimate its value in connection with the prevalent opinions of those times. The patient was to make an image of himself in wax or resin, and by an effort of thought to concentrate all his blasphemies and sins in it. "Without the intervention of any other person, to set his whole mind and thoughts concerning these oaths in the image;" and when he had succeeded in this, he was to burn the image, so that not a particle of it should200 remain.64 In all this there was no mention made of St. Vitus, or any of the other mediatory saints, which is accounted for by the circumstance, that, at this time, an open rebellion against the Romish Church had begun, and the worship of saints was by many rejected as idolatrous. For the second kind of St. Vitus' dance, Paracelsus recommended harsh treatment and strict fasting. He directed that the patients should be deprived of their liberty, placed in solitary confinement, and made to sit in an uncomfortable place, until their misery brought them to their senses and to a feeling of penitence. He then permitted them gradually to return to their accustomed habits. Severe corporal chastisement was not omitted; but, on the other hand, angry resistance on the part of the patient was to be sedulously avoided, on the ground that it might increase his malady, or even destroy him; moreover, where it seemed proper, Paracelsus allayed the excitement of the nerves by immersion in cold water. On the treatment of the third kind we shall not here enlarge. It was to be effected by all sorts of wonderful remedies, composed of the quintessences; and it would require, to render it intelligible, a more extended exposition of peculiar principles than suits our present purpose.

About this time the St. Vitus' dance began to decline, so that milder forms of it appeared more frequently, while the severer cases became more rare; and even in these, some of the important symptoms gradually disappeared. Paracelsus makes no mention of the tympanites as taking place after the attacks, although it may occasionally have occurred; and Schenck von Graffenberg, a celebrated physician of the latter half of the sixteenth century, speaks of this disease as having been frequent only in the time of his forefathers.




A.D. 1378


In 1308 Pope Clement V, a Frenchman, under the influence of King Philip the Fair, of France, transferred the papal chair from Rome to Avignon, a possession of the holy see beyond the Alps, in Philip's dominions. The sojourn there of Clement and his successors, which continued until 1376, is known as the "Babylonish captivity" of the popes.

Rome, from the first, was angry at this loss of supremacy, and aimed at recovering her prestige; and throughout the Christian world—France alone excepted—it was regarded as a scandal that the chair of St. Peter should rest on any soil but that of the Eternal City; but the French kings, and the cardinals of France—outnumbering all others in the sacred college—were determined to retain the pontifical seat in their own territory.

During the pontificate of Gregory XI (1371-1378) Italy was torn by civil dissensions; the "free companies"—bands of organized marauders—ravaged the country with fire and sword, plundering Guelf and Ghibelline alike. Gregory's legates in the government of the ecclesiastical states rendered themselves so odious to the people by their immorality and rapacity that a league of the more powerful political factions was formed for throwing off the yoke of the "absentee" papal rulers. This was the beginning of the War of Liberation (1375) that was to shake the papal power in Italy to its very foundations.

Gregory saw that, in order to preserve even a vestige of temporal power in the Italian states, he must act with crushing vigor. He therefore sent the cardinal legate, Robert, of Geneva—afterward Antipope Clement VII—into Italy with a company of Breton adventurers dreaded for their ferocity, and trained to plunder in the terrible wars of France. In spite of the atrocities committed by Robert and his hirelings, the revolt continued with unabated fury, and at last Gregory was constrained to return in person to Italy with the purpose of pacifying the turbulent forces. He entered Rome, January 17, 1377; but after a year of futile effort he died, leaving the confusion worse than he found it.

Since, according to ecclesiastical law, the election of a new pope must be held at the place of the last pontiff's decease, great clamor arose among the Romans, whose demands were seconded throughout Europe, 202for the election of a Roman pope and the ending of the "Babylonish captivity." The history of the Great Schism and election of the rival pontiffs is nowhere to be found in better form of narrative than that of Milman, which here follows.

GREGORY XI had hardly expired when Rome burst out into a furious tumult. A Roman pope, at least an Italian pope, was the universal outcry. The conclave must be overawed; the hateful domination of a foreign, a French pontiff, must be broken up, and forever. This was not unforeseen. Before his death Gregory XI had issued a bull conferring the amplest powers on the cardinals to choose, according to their wisdom, the time and the place for the election. It manifestly contemplated their retreat from the turbulent streets of Rome to some place where their deliberations would not be overborne, and the predominant French interest would maintain its superiority. On the other hand there were serious and not groundless apprehensions that the fierce Breton and Gascon bands, at the command of the French cardinals, might dictate to the conclave. The Romans not only armed their civic troops, but sent to Tivoli, Velletri, and the neighboring cities; a strong force was mustered to keep the foreigners in check.

Throughout the interval between the funeral of Gregory and the opening of the conclave, the cardinals were either too jealously watched, or thought it imprudent to attempt flight. Sixteen cardinals were present at Rome, one Spaniard, eleven French, four Italians. The ordinary measures were taken for opening the conclave in the palace near St. Peter's. Five Romans, two ecclesiastics and three laymen, and three Frenchmen were appointed to wait upon and to guard the conclave. The Bishop of Marseilles represented the great chamberlain, who holds the supreme authority during the vacancy of the popedom. The chamberlain, the Archbishop of Arles, brother of the Cardinal of Limoges, had withdrawn into the castle of St. Angelo, to secure his own person and to occupy that important fortress.

The nine solemn days fully elapsed, on the 7th of April they assembled for the conclave. At that instant (inauspicious omen!) a terrible flash of lightning, followed by a stunning peal of thunder, struck through the hall, burning and splitting some of the furniture. The hall of conclave was crowded by a fierce203 rabble, who refused to retire. After about an hour's strife, the Bishop of Marseilles, by threats, by persuasion, or by entreaty, had expelled all but about forty wild men, armed to the teeth. These ruffians rudely and insolently searched the whole building; they looked under the beds, they examined the places of retreat. They would satisfy themselves whether any armed men were concealed, whether there was any hole, or even drain through which the cardinals could escape. All the time they shouted: "A Roman pope! we will have a Roman pope!" Those without echoed back the savage yell. Before long appeared two ecclesiastics, announcing themselves as delegated by the commonalty of Rome; they demanded to speak with the cardinals. The cardinals dared not refuse. The Romans represented, in firm but not disrespectful language, that for seventy years the holy Roman people had been without their pastor, the supreme head of Christendom. In Rome were many noble and wise ecclesiastics equal to govern the Church: if not in Rome, there were such men in Italy.

They intimated that so great were the fury and determination of the people that, if the conclave should resist, there might be a general massacre, in which probably they themselves, assuredly the cardinals, would perish. The cardinals might hear from every quarter around them the cry: "A Roman pope! if not a Roman, an Italian!" The cardinals replied, that such aged and reverend men must know the rules of the conclave; that no election could be by requisition, favor, fear, or tumult, but by the interposition of the Holy Ghost. To reiterated persuasions and menaces they only said: "We are in your power; you may kill us, but we must act according to God's ordinance. To-morrow we celebrate the mass for the descent of the Holy Ghost; as the Holy Ghost directs, so shall we do." Some of the French uttered words which sounded like defiance. The populace cried: "If ye persist to do despite to Christ, if we have not a Roman pope, we will hew these cardinals and Frenchmen in pieces."

At length the Bishop of Marseilles was able to entirely clear the hall. The cardinals sat down to a plentiful repast; the doors were finally closed. But all the night through they heard in the streets the unceasing clamor: "A Roman pope, a Roman204 pope!" Toward the morning the tumult became more fierce and dense. Strange men had burst into the belfry of St. Peter's; the clanging bells tolled as if all Rome was on fire.

Within the conclave, the tumult, if less loud and clamorous, was hardly less general. The confusion without and terror within did not allay the angry rivalry, or suspend that subtle play of policy peculiar to the form of election. The French interest was divided; within this circle there was another circle. The single diocese of Limoges, favored as it had been by more than one pope, had almost strength to dictate to the conclave. The Limousins put forward the Cardinal de St. Eustache. Against these the leader was the Cardinal Robert of Geneva, whose fierce and haughty demeanor and sanguinary acts as legate had brought so much of its unpopularity on the administration of Gregory XI. With Robert were the four Italians and three French cardinals. Rather than a Limousin, Robert would even consent to an Italian. They on the one side, the Limousins on the other, had met secretly before the conclave: the eight had sworn not on any account to submit to the election of a traitorous Limousin.

All the sleepless night the cardinals might hear the din at the gate, the yells of the people, the tolling of the bells. There was constant passing and repassing from each other's chamber, intrigues, altercations, manœuvres, proposals advanced and rejected, promises of support given and withdrawn. Many names were put up. Of the Romans within the conclave two only were named, the old Cardinal of St. Peter's, the Cardinal Jacobo Orsini. The Limousins advanced in turn almost every one of their faction; no one but himself thought of Robert of Geneva.

In the morning the disturbance without waxed more terrible. A vain attempt was made to address the populace by the three cardinal priors; they were driven from the windows with loud derisive shouts, "A Roman! A Roman!" For now the alternative of an Italian had been abandoned; a Roman, none but a Roman, would content the people. The madness of intoxication was added to the madness of popular fury. The rabble had broken open the Pope's cellar and drunk his rich wines. In the conclave the wildest projects were started. The Cardinal Orsini205 was to dress up a Minorite friar (probably a Spiritual) in the papal robes, to show him to the people, and so for themselves to effect their escape to some safe place and proceed to a legitimate election. The cardinals, from honor or from fear, shrunk from this trick.

At length both parties seemed to concur. Each claimed credit for first advancing the name—which most afterward repudiated—of the Archbishop of Bari, a man of repute for theologic and legal erudition, an Italian, but a subject of the Queen of Naples, who was also Countess of Provence. They came to the nomination. The Cardinal of Florence proposed the Cardinal of St. Peter's. The Cardinal of Limoges arose: "The Cardinal of St. Peter's is too old. The Cardinal of Florence is of a city at war with the holy see. I reject the Cardinal of Milan as the subject of the Visconti, the most deadly enemy of the Church. The Cardinal Orsini is too young, and we must not yield to the clamor of the Romans. I vote for Bartholomew Prignani, Archbishop of Bari." All was acclamation; Orsini alone stood out; he aspired to be the pope of the Romans.

But it was too late; the mob was thundering at the gates, menacing death to the cardinals, if they had not immediately a Roman pontiff. The feeble defences sounded as if they were shattering down; the tramp of the populace was almost heard within the hall. They forced or persuaded the aged Cardinal of St. Peter's to make a desperate effort to save their lives. He appeared at the window, hastily attired in what either was or seemed to be the papal stole and mitre. There was a jubilant and triumphant cry: "We have a Roman pope, the Cardinal of St. Peter's. Long live Rome! Long live St. Peter!" The populace became even more frantic with joy than before with wrath. One band hastened to the Cardinal's palace, and, according to the strange usage, broke in, threw the furniture into the streets, and sacked it from top to bottom. Those around the hall of conclave, aided by the connivance of some of the cardinals' servants within, or by more violent efforts of their own, burst in in all quarters. The supposed pope was surrounded by eager adorers; they were at his feet; they pressed his swollen, gouty hands till he shrieked from pain, and began to protest, in the strongest language, that he was not the pope.

206The indignation of the populace at this disappointment was aggravated by an unlucky confusion of names. The Archbishop was mistaken for John of Bari, of the bedchamber of the late pope, a man of harsh manners and dissolute life, an object of general hatred. Five of the cardinals, Robert of Geneva, Acquasparta, Viviers, Poitou, and De Verny, were seized in their attempt to steal away, and driven back, amid contemptuous hootings, by personal violence. Night came on again; the populace, having pillaged all the provisions in the conclave, grew weary of their own excesses. The cardinals fled on all sides. Four left the city; Orsini and St. Eustache escaped to Vicovaro, Robert of Geneva to Zagarolo, St. Angelo to Guardia; six, Limoges, D'Aigrefeuille, Poitou, Viviers, Brittany, and Marmoutiers, to the castle of St. Angelo; Florence, Milan, Montmayeur, Glandève, and Luna, to their own strong fortresses.

The Pope lay concealed in the Vatican. In the morning the five cardinals in Rome were assembled round him. A message was sent to the bannerets of Rome, announcing his election. The six cardinals in St. Angelo were summoned; they were hardly persuaded to leave their place of security; but without their presence the Archbishop would not declare his assent to his elevation. The Cardinal of Florence, as dean, presented the Pope-elect to the sacred college, and discoursed on the text, "Such ought he to be, an undefiled high-priest." The Archbishop began a long harangue, "Fear and trembling have come upon me, the horror of great darkness." The Cardinal of Florence cut short the ill-timed sermon, demanding whether he accepted the pontificate. The Archbishop gave his assent; he took the name of Urban VI. Te Deum was intoned; he was lifted to the throne. The fugitives returned to Rome. Urban VI was crowned on Easter Day, in the Church of St. John Lateran. All the cardinals were present at the august ceremony. They announced the election of Urban VI to their brethren who had remained in Avignon. Urban himself addressed the usual encyclic letters, proclaiming his elevation, to all the prelates in Christendom.

None could determine how far the nomination of the Archbishop of Bari was free and uncontrolled by the terrors of the raging populace; but the acknowledgment of Urban VI by all207 the cardinals, at his inauguration in the holy office—their assistance at his coronation without protest, when some at least might have been safe beyond the walls of Rome—their acceptance of honors, as by the cardinals of Limoges, Poitou, and Aigrefeuille—the homage of all—might seem to annul all possible irregularity in the election, to confirm irrefragably the legitimacy of his title.

Not many days had passed, when the cardinals began to look with dismay and bitter repentance on their own work. "In Urban VI," said a writer of these times (on the side of Urban as rightful pontiff), "was verified the proverb—None is so insolent as a low man suddenly raised to power." The high-born, haughty, luxurious prelates, both French and Italian, found that they had set over themselves a master resolved not only to redress the flagrant and inveterate abuses of the college and of the hierarchy, but also to force on his reforms in the most hasty and insulting way. He did the harshest things in the harshest manner.

The Archbishop of Bari, of mean birth, had risen by the virtues of a monk. He was studious, austere, humble, a diligent reader of the Bible, master of the canon law, rigid in his fasts; he wore haircloth next his skin. His time was divided between study, prayer, and business, for which he had great aptitude. From the poor bishopric of Acherontia he had been promoted to the archbishopric of Bari, and had presided over the papal chancery in Avignon. The monk broke out at once on his elevation in the utmost rudeness and rigor, but the humility changed to the most offensive haughtiness. Almost his first act was a public rebuke in his chapel to all the bishops present for their desertion of their dioceses. He called them perjured traitors. The Bishop of Pampeluna boldly repelled the charge; he was at Rome, he said, on the affairs of his see. In the full consistory Urban preached on the text, "I am the Good Shepherd," and inveighed in a manner not to be mistaken against the wealth and luxury of the cardinals. Their voluptuous banquets were notorious—Petrarch had declaimed against them. The Pope threatened a sumptuary law that they should have but one dish at their table: it was the rule of his own order. He was determined to extirpate simony. A cardinal who should208 receive presents he menaced with excommunication. He affected to despise wealth. "Thy money perish with thee!" he said to a collector of the papal revenue. He disdained to conceal the most unpopular schemes; he declared his intention not to leave Rome. To the petition of the bannerets of Rome for a promotion of cardinals, he openly avowed his design to make so large a nomination that the Italians should resume their ascendency over the Ultramontanes. The Cardinal of Geneva turned pale and left the consistory. Urban declared himself determined to do equal justice between man and man, between the kings of France and England. The French cardinals, and those in the pay of France, heard this with great indignation.

The manners of Urban were even more offensive than his acts. "Hold your tongue!" "You have talked long enough!" were his common phrases to his mitred counsellors. He called the Cardinal Orsini a fool. He charged the Cardinal of St. Marcellus of Amiens, on his return from his legation in Tuscany, with having robbed the treasures of the Church. The charge was not less insulting for its justice. The Cardinal of Amiens, instead of allaying the feuds of France and England, which it was his holy mission to allay, had inflamed them in order to glut his own insatiable avarice by draining the wealth of both countries in the Pope's name. "As Archbishop of Bari, you lie," was the reply of the high-born Frenchman. On one occasion such high words passed with the Cardinal of Limoges that but for the interposition of another cardinal the Pope would have rushed on him, and there had been a personal conflict.

Such were among the stories of the time. Friends and foes agree in attributing the schism, at least the immediate schism, to the imprudent zeal, the imperiousness, the ungovernable temper of Pope Urban. The cardinals among themselves talked of him as mad; they began to murmur that it was a compulsory, therefore invalid, election.

The French cardinals were now at Anagni: they were joined by the Cardinal of Amiens, who had taken no part in the election, but who was burning under the insulting words of the Pope, perhaps not too eager to render an account of his legation. The Pope retired to Tivoli; he summoned the cardinals to that209 city. They answered that they had gone to large expenses in laying in provisions and making preparations for their residence in Anagni; they had no means to supply a second sojourn in Tivoli. The Pope, with his four Italian cardinals, passed two important acts as sovereign pontiff. He confirmed the election of Wenceslaus, son of Charles IV, to the empire; he completed the treaty with Florence by which the republic paid a large sum to the see of Rome. The amount was seventy thousand florins in the course of the year, one hundred and eighty thousand in four years, for the expenses of the war. They were relieved from ecclesiastical censures, under which this enlightened republic, though Italian, trembled, even from a pope of doubtful title. Their awe showed perhaps the weakness and dissensions in Florence rather than the papal power.

The cardinals at Anagni sent a summons to their brethren inviting them to share in their counsels concerning the compulsory election of the successor to Gregory XI. Already the opinions of great legists had been taken; some of them, that of the famous Baldus, may still be read. He was in favor of the validity of the election.

But grave legal arguments and ecclesiastical logic were not to decide a contest which had stirred so deeply the passions and interests of two great factions. France and Italy were at strife for the popedom. The Ultramontane cardinals would not tamely abandon a power which had given them rank, wealth, luxury, virtually the spiritual supremacy of the world, for seventy years. Italy, Rome, would not forego the golden opportunity of resuming the long-lost authority. On the 9th of August the cardinals at Anagni publicly declared, they announced in encyclic letters addressed to the faithful in all Christendom, that the election of Urban VI was carried by force and the fear of death; that through the same force and fear he had been inaugurated, enthroned, and crowned; that he was an apostate, an accursed antichrist. They pronounced him a tyrannical usurper of the popedom, a wolf that had stolen into the fold. They called upon him to descend at once from the throne which he occupied without canonical title; if repentant, he might find mercy; if he persisted he would provoke the indignation of God, of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and all of the saints, for his violation of210 the Spouse of Christ, the common Mother of the Faithful. It was signed by thirteen cardinals. The more pious and devout were shocked at this avowal of cowardice; cardinals who would not be martyrs in the cause of truth and of spiritual freedom condemned themselves.

But letters and appeals to the judgment of the world, and awful maledictions, were not their only resources. The fierce Breton bands were used to march and to be indulged in their worst excesses under the banner of the Cardinal of Geneva. As Ultramontanists it was their interest, their inclination, to espouse the Ultramontane cause. They arrayed themselves to advance and join the cardinals at Anagni. The Romans rose to oppose them; a fight took place near the Ponte Salario, three hundred Romans lay dead on the field.

Urban VI was as blind to cautious temporal as to cautious ecclesiastical policy. Every act of the Pope raised him up new enemies. Joanna, Queen of Naples, had hailed the elevation of her subject the Archbishop of Bari. Naples had been brilliantly illuminated. Shiploads of fruit and wines, and the more solid gift of twenty thousand florins, had been her oblations to the Pope. Her husband, Otho of Brunswick, had gone to Rome to pay his personal homage. His object was to determine in his own favor the succession to the realm. The reception of Otho was cold and repulsive; he returned in disgust. The Queen eagerly listened to suspicions, skilfully awakened, that Urban meditated the resumption of the fief of Naples, and its grant to the rival house of Hungary. She became the sworn ally of the cardinals at Anagni. Honorato Gaetani, Count of Fondi, one of the most turbulent barons of the land, demanded of the Pontiff twenty thousand florins advanced on loan to Gregory XI. Urban not only rejected the claim, declaring it a personal debt of the late Pope, not of the holy see, he also deprived Gaetani of his fief, and granted it to his mortal enemy, the Count San Severino. Gaetani began immediately so seize the adjacent castles in Campania, and invited the cardinals to his stronghold at Fondi. The Archbishop of Arles, chamberlain of the late Pope, leaving the castle of St. Angelo under the guard of a commander who long refused all orders from Pope Urban, brought to Anagni the jewels and ornaments of the papacy, which had been carried for security211 to St. Angelo. The prefect of the city, De Vico, Lord of Viterbo, had been won over by the Cardinal of Amiens.

The four Italian cardinals still adhered to Pope Urban. They labored hard to mediate between the conflicting parties. Conferences were held at Zagarolo and other places; when the French cardinals had retired to Fondi, the Italians took up their quarters at Subiaco. The Cardinal of St. Peter's, worn out with age and trouble, withdrew to Rome, and soon after died. He left a testamentary document declaring the validity of the election of Urban. The French cardinals had declared the election void; they were debating the next step. Some suggested the appointment of a coadjutor. They were now sure of the support of the King of France, who would not easily surrender his influence over a pope at Avignon, and of the Queen of Naples, estranged by the pride of Urban, and secretly stimulated by the Cardinal Orsini, who had not forgiven his own loss of the tiara. Yet even now they seemed to shrink from the creation of an antipope. Urban precipitated and made inevitable this disastrous event. He was now alone; the Cardinal of St. Peter's was dead; Florence, Milan, and the Orsini stood aloof; they seemed only to wait to be thrown off by Urban, to join the adverse faction. Urban at first declared his intention to create nine cardinals; he proceeded at once, and without warning, to create twenty-six.65 By this step the French and Italian cardinals together were now but an insignificant minority. They were instantly one. All must be risked or all lost.

On September 20th, at Fondi, Robert of Geneva was elected pope in the presence of all the cardinals (except St. Peter's) who had chosen, inaugurated, enthroned, and for a time obeyed Urban VI. The Italians refused to give their suffrages, but entered no protest. They retired into their castles and remained aloof from the schism. Orsini died before long at Tagliacozzo. The qualifications which, according to his partial biographer, recommended the Cardinal of Geneva, were rather those of a successor to John Hawkwood or to a duke of Milan, than of the apostles. Extraordinary activity of body and endurance of fatigue, courage which would hazard his life to put down the intrusive pope, sagacity and experience in the temporal affairs 212of the Church; high birth, through which he was allied with most of the royal and princely houses of Europe; of austerity, devotion, learning, holiness, charity, not a word. He took the name of Clement VII; the Italians bitterly taunted the mockery of this name, assumed by the captain of the Breton Free Companies—by the author, it was believed, of the massacre at Cesena.

So began the schism which divided Western Christendom for thirty-eight years. Italy, excepting the kingdom of Joanna of Naples, adhered to her native pontiff; Germany and Bohemia to the pontiff who had recognized King Wenceslaus as emperor; England to the pontiff hostile to France;66 Hungary to the pontiff who might support her pretentions to Naples; Poland and the Northern kingdoms, with Portugal, espoused the same cause. France at first stood almost alone in support of her subject, of a pope at Avignon instead of at Rome. Scotland only was with Clement, because England was with Urban. So Flanders was with Urban because France was with Clement. The uncommon abilities of Peter di Luna, the Spanish cardinal (afterward better known under a higher title), detached successively the Spanish kingdoms, Castile, Aragon, and Navarre, from allegiance to Pope Urban.



A.D. 1380


Prolonged commercial rivalry between Genoa and Venice brought them to a state of bitter jealousy which led to furious wars. In the second half of the twelfth century Genoa established her power on the Black Sea, and aimed at a commercial monopoly in that region. This aroused the Venetians to anger and led to open hostilities. The first war growing out of these antagonisms between the two republics began in 1257, and throughout the rest of the thirteenth century hostilities were almost continuous.

In 1351 the Venetians formed an alliance against Genoa with the Greeks and Aragonese, and, in the ensuing war, the advantage gained by Genoa was confirmed by a treaty of peace in 1355. But this peace lasted only until 1378, when a dispute arose between Genoa and Venice in relation to the island of Tenedos, in the Ægean Sea, of which the Venetians had taken possession.

The Venetians, having denounced Genoa as false to all its oaths and obligations, formally declared war in April, after several acts of hostility had occurred in the Levant. Of all the wars between the rival states, this was the most remarkable and led to the most important consequences.

GENOA did not stand alone in this war. A formidable confederacy was raised against Venice, which had given provocation to many enemies. Of this Francis Carrara, seignior of Padua, and the King of Hungary were the leaders. But the principal struggle was, as usual, upon the waves. During the winter of 1378 a Genoese fleet kept the sea, and ravaged the shores of Dalmatia. The Venetian armament had been weakened by an epidemic disease, and when Vittor Pisani, their admiral, gave battle to the enemy, he was compelled to fight with a hasty conscription of landsmen against the best sailors in the world.

Entirely defeated, and taking refuge at Venice with only seven galleys, Pisani was cast into prison, as if his ill-fortune had been his crime. Meanwhile the Genoese fleet, augmented by a strong reënforcement, rode before the long natural ramparts that separate214 the lagunes of Venice from the Adriatic. Six passages intersect the islands which constitute this barrier, besides the broader outlets of Brondolo and Fossone, through which the waters of the Brenta and the Adige are discharged. The Lagoon itself, as is well known, consists of extremely shallow water, unnavigable for any vessel except along the course of artificial and intricate passages.

Notwithstanding the apparent difficulties of such an enterprise, Pietro Doria, the Genoese admiral, determined to reduce the city. His first successes gave him reason to hope. He forced the passage, and stormed the little town of Chioggia, built upon the inside of the isle bearing that name, about twenty-five miles south of Venice. Nearly four thousand prisoners fell here into his hands—an augury, as it seemed, of a more splendid triumph.

In the consternation this misfortune inspired at Venice, the first impulse was to ask for peace. The ambassadors carried with them seven Genoese prisoners, as a sort of peace-offering to the admiral, and were empowered to make large and humiliating concessions, reserving nothing but the liberty of Venice. Francis Carrara strongly urged his allies to treat for peace. But the Genoese were stimulated by long hatred, and intoxicated by this unexpected opportunity of revenge. Doria, calling the ambassadors into council, thus addressed them: "Ye shall obtain no peace from us, I swear to you, nor from the lord of Padua, till first we have put a curb in the mouths of those wild horses that stand upon the place of St. Mark. When they are bridled you shall have enough of peace. Take back with you your Genoese captives, for I am coming within a few days to release both them and their companions from your prisons."

When this answer was reported to the senate, they prepared to defend themselves with the characteristic firmness of their government. Every eye was turned toward a great man unjustly punished, their admiral, Vittor Pisani. He was called out of prison to defend his country amid general acclamations. Under his vigorous command the canals were fortified or occupied by large vessels armed with artillery; thirty-four galleys were equipped; every citizen contributed according to his power; in the entire want of commercial resources—for Venice had not a215 merchant-ship during this war—private plate was melted; and the senate held out the promise of ennobling thirty families who should be most forward in this strife of patriotism.

The new fleet was so ill-provided with seamen that for some months the admiral employed them only in manœuvring along the canals. From some unaccountable supineness, or more probably from the insuperable difficulties of the undertaking, the Genoese made no assault upon the city. They had, indeed, fair grounds to hope its reduction by famine or despair. Every access to the Continent was cut off by the troops of Padua; and the King of Hungary had mastered almost all the Venetian towns in Istria and along the Dalmatian coast. The doge Contarini, taking the chief command, appeared at length with his fleet near Chioggia, before the Genoese were aware. They were still less aware of his secret design. He pushed one of the large round vessels, then called cocche, into the narrow passage of Chioggia which connects the Lagoon with the sea, and, mooring her athwart the channel, interrupted that communication. Attacked with fury by the enemy, this vessel went down on the spot, and the Doge improved his advantage by sinking loads of stones until the passage became absolutely unnavigable.

It was still possible for the Genoese fleet to follow the principal canal of the Lagoon toward Venice and the northern passages, or to sail out of it by the harbor of Brondolo; but, whether from confusion or from miscalculating the dangers of their position, they suffered the Venetians to close the canal upon them by the same means they had used at Chioggia, and even to place their fleet in the entrance of Brondolo so near to the Lagoon that the Genoese could not form their ships in line of battle. The circumstances of the two combatants were thus entirely changed. But the Genoese fleet, though besieged in Chioggia, was impregnable, and their command of the land secured them from famine.

Venice, notwithstanding her unexpected success, was still very far from secure; it was difficult for the Doge to keep his position through the winter; and if the enemy could appear in open sea, the risks of combat were extremely hazardous. It is said that the senate deliberated upon transporting the seat of their liberty to Candia, and that the Doge had announced his216 intention to raise the siege of Chioggia, if expected succors did not arrive by January 1, 1380. On that very day Carlo Zeno, an admiral who, ignorant of the dangers of his country, had been supporting the honor of her flag in the Levant and on the coast of Liguria, appeared with a reënforcement of eighteen galleys and a store of provisions.

From that moment the confidence of Venice revived. The fleet, now superior in strength to the enemy, began to attack them with vivacity. After several months of obstinate resistance, the Genoese—whom their republic had ineffectually attempted to relieve by a fresh armament—blocked up in the town of Chioggia, and pressed by hunger, were obliged to surrender. Nineteen galleys only, out of forty-eight, were in good condition; and the crews were equally diminished in the ten months of their occupation of Chioggia. The pride of Genoa was deemed to be justly humbled; and even her own historian confesses that God would not suffer so noble a city as Venice to become the spoil of a conqueror.

Though the capture of Chioggia did not terminate the war, both parties were exhausted, and willing, next year, to accept the mediation of the Duke of Savoy. By the peace of Turin, Venice surrendered most of her territorial possessions to the King of Hungary. That Prince and Francis Carrara were the only gainers. Genoa obtained the isle of Tenedos, one of the original subjects of dispute—a poor indemnity for her losses. Though, upon a hasty view, the result of this war appears more unfavorable to Venice, yet in fact it is the epoch of the decline of Genoa. From this time she never commanded the ocean with such navies as before; her commerce gradually went into decay; and the fifteenth century—the most splendid in the annals of Venice—is, till recent times, the most ignominious in those of Genoa. But this was partly owing to internal dissensions, by which her liberty, as well as glory, was for a while suspended.



A.D. 1381


Richard II, of England, at eleven years of age, succeeded to a heritage of foreign complications and wars, which were a legacy from the reign of his grandfather, Edward III.

At the request of the commons, the lords, in the King's name, appointed nine persons to be a permanent council, and it was resolved that during the King's minority the appointment of all the chief officers of the crown should be with the parliament. The administration was conducted in the King's name, and the whole system was for some years kept together by the secret authority of the King's uncles, especially of the Duke of Lancaster, who was in reality the regent.

France, Scotland, and Castile continued their hostilities against England, and during the first two years of Richard's reign the ministers had no difficulty in obtaining ample grants of money to carry on the wars. In the third year the expense of the campaign in Brittany compelled them to solicit yet additional aid.

Various methods of taxation failing to raise the amount required, the commons, in great discontent, demanded alterations in the council, and after long debate reluctantly consented to the imposition of a new and unusual tax of three groats67 on every person, male and female, above fifteen years of age. For the relief of the poor it was provided that in the cities and towns the aggregate amount should be divided among the inhabitants according to their abilities, so that no individual should pay less than one groat, or more than sixty groats for himself and his wife. Parliament thereupon was dismissed; but the collection of the tax gave rise to an insurrection which threatened the life of the King and the existence of the government.

AT this period [1381] a secret ferment seems to have pervaded the mass of the people in many nations of Europe. Men were no longer willing to submit to the impositions of their rulers, or to wear the chains which had been thrown round the necks of their fathers by a warlike and haughty aristocracy. We may trace this awakening spirit of independence to a variety of causes, operating in the same direction; to the progressive 218improvement of society, the gradual diffusion of knowledge, the increasing pressure of taxation, and above all to the numerous and lasting wars by which Europe had lately been convulsed. Necessity had often compelled both the sovereigns and nobles to court the good-will of the people; the burghers in the towns and inferior tenants in the country had learned, from the repeated demands made upon them, to form notions of their own importance; and the archers and foot-soldiers, who had served for years in the wars, were, at their return home, unwilling to sit down in the humble station of bondmen to their former lords. In Flanders the commons had risen against their Count Louis, and had driven him out of his dominions; in France the populace had taken possession of Paris and Rouen, and massacred the collectors of the revenue. In England a spirit of discontent agitated the whole body of the villeins, who remained in almost the same situation in which we left them at the Norman Conquest. They were still attached to the soil, talliable at the will of the lord, and bound to pay the fines for the marriage of their females, to perform customary labor, and to render the other servile prestations incident to their condition. It is true that in the course of time many had obtained the rights of freemen. Occasionally the king or the lord would liberate at once all the bondmen on some particular domain, in return for a fixed rent to be yearly assessed on the inhabitants.

But the progress of emancipation was slow; the improved condition of their former fellows served only to embitter the discontent of those who still wore the fetters of servitude; and in many places the villeins formed associations for their mutual support, and availed themselves of every expedient in their power to free themselves from the control of their lords. In the first year of Richard's reign a complaint was laid before parliament that in many districts they had purchased exemplifications out of the Domesday Book in the king's court, and under a false interpretation of that record had pretended to be discharged of all manner of servitude both as to their bodies and their tenures, and would not suffer the officers of their lords either to levy distress or to do justice upon them. It was in vain that such exemplifications were declared of no force, and that commissions were ordered for the punishment of the rebellious.219 The villeins, by their union and perseverance, contrived to intimidate their lords, and set at defiance the severity of the law. To this resistance they were encouraged by the diffusion of the doctrines so recently taught by Wycliffe, that the right of property was founded in grace, and that no man, who was by sin a traitor to God, could be entitled to the services of others; at the same time itinerant preachers sedulously inculcated the natural equality of mankind, and the tyranny of artificial distinctions; and the poorer classes, still smarting under the exactions of the late reign, were by the impositions of the new tax wound up to a pitch of madness. Thus the materials had been prepared; it required but a spark to set the whole country in a blaze.

It was soon discovered that the receipts of the treasury would fall short of the expected amount; and commissions were issued to different persons to inquire into the conduct of the collectors, and to compel payment from those who had been favored or overlooked. One of these commissioners, Thomas de Bampton, sat at Brentwood in Essex; but the men of Fobbings refused to answer before him; and when the chief justice of the common pleas attempted to punish their contumacy, they compelled him to flee, murdered the jurors and clerks of the commission, and, carrying their heads upon poles, claimed the support of the nearest townships. In a few days all the commons of Essex were in a state of insurrection, under the command of a profligate priest, who had assumed the name of Jack Straw.

The men of Kent were not long behind their neighbors in Essex. At Dartford one of the collectors had demanded the tax for a young girl, the daughter of a tyler. Her mother maintained that she was under the age required by the statute; and the officer was proceeding to ascertain the fact by an indecent exposure of her person, when her father, who had just returned from work, with a stroke of his hammer beat out the offender's brains. His courage was applauded by his neighbors. They swore that they would protect him from punishment, and by threats and promises secured the cooperation of all the villages in the western division of Kent.

A third party of insurgents was formed by the men of Gravesend, irritated at the conduct of Sir Simon Burley. He had claimed one of the burghers as his bondman, refused to220 grant him his freedom at a less price than three hundred pounds, and sent him a prisoner to the castle of Rochester. With the aid of a body of insurgents from Essex, the castle was taken and the captive liberated. At Maidstone they appointed Wat the tyler, of that town, leader of the commons of Kent, and took with them an itinerant preacher of the name of John Ball, who for his seditious and heterodox harangues had been confined by order of the archbishop. The mayor and aldermen of Canterbury were compelled to swear fidelity to the good cause; several of the citizens were slain; and five hundred joined them in their intended march toward London. When they reached Blackheath their numbers are said to have amounted to one hundred thousand men. To this lawless and tumultuous multitude Ball was appointed preacher, and assumed for the text of his first sermon the following lines:

"When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?"

He told them that by nature all men were born equal; that the distinction of bondage and freedom was the invention of their oppressors, and contrary to the views of their Creator; that God now offered them the means of recovering their liberty, and that, if they continued slaves, the blame must rest with themselves; that it was necessary to dispose of the archbishop, the earls and barons, the judges, lawyers, and questmongers; and that when the distinction of ranks was abolished, all would be free, because all would be of the same nobility and of equal authority. His discourse was received with shouts of applause by his infatuated hearers, who promised to make him, in defiance of his own doctrines, archbishop of Canterbury and chancellor of the realm.

By letters and messengers the knowledge of these proceedings was carefully propagated through the neighboring counties. Everywhere the people had been prepared; and in a few days the flame spread from the southern coast of Kent to the right bank of the Humber. In all places the insurgents regularly pursued the same course. They pillaged the manors of their lords, demolished the houses, and burned the court rolls; cut off the heads of every justice and lawyer and juror who221 fell into their hands; and swore all others to be true to King Richard and the commons; to admit of no king of the name of John; and to oppose all taxes but fifteenths, the ancient tallage paid by their fathers. The members of the council saw, with astonishment, the sudden rise and rapid spread of the insurrection; and, bewildered by their fears and ignorance, knew not whom to trust or what measures to pursue.

The first who encountered the rabble on Blackheath was the Princess of Wales, the King's mother, on her return from a pilgrimage to Canterbury. She liberated herself from danger by her own address; and a few kisses from "the fair maid of Kent" purchased the protection of the leaders, and secured the respect of their followers. She was permitted to join her son, who, with his cousin Henry, Earl of Derby, Simon, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor, Sir Robert Hales, master of the Knights of St. John and treasurer, and about one hundred sergeants and knights had left the castle of Windsor, and repaired for greater security to the Tower of London. The next morning the King in his barge descended the river to receive the petitions of the insurgents. To the number of ten thousand, with two banners of St. George, and sixty pennons, they waited his arrival at Rotherhithe; but their horrid yells and uncouth appearance so intimidated his attendants, that instead of permitting him to land, they took advantage of the tide, and returned with precipitation. Tyler and Straw, irritated by this disappointment, led their men into Southwark, where they demolished the houses belonging to the Marshalsea and the king's bench, while another party forced their way into the palace of the Archbishop at Lambeth, and burned the furniture with the records belonging to the chancery.

The next morning they were allowed to pass in small companies, according to their different townships, over the bridge into the city. The populace joined them; and as soon as they had regaled themselves at the cost of the richer inhabitants, the work of devastation commenced. They demolished Newgate, and liberated the prisoners; plundered and destroyed the magnificent palace of the Savoy, belonging to the Duke of Lancaster; burned the temple with the books and records; and despatched a party to set fire to the house of the Knights Hospitallers222 at Clerkenwell, which had been lately built by Sir Robert Hales. To prove, however, that they had no views of private emolument, a proclamation was issued forbidding any one to secrete part of the plunder; and so severely was the prohibition enforced that the plate was hammered and cut into small pieces, the precious stones were beaten to powder, and one of the rioters, who had concealed a silver cup in his bosom, was immediately thrown, with his prize, into the river. To every man whom they met they put the question, "With whom holdest thou?" and unless he gave the proper answer, "With King Richard and the commons," he was instantly beheaded. But the principal objects of their cruelty were the natives of Flanders. They dragged thirteen Flemings out of one church, seventeen out of another, and thirty-two out of the Vintry, and struck off their heads with shouts of triumph and exultation. In the evening, wearied with the labor of the day, they dispersed through the streets, and indulged in every kind of debauchery.

During this night of suspense and terror, the Princess of Wales held a council with the ministers in the Tower. The King's uncles were absent; the garrison, though perhaps able to defend the place, was too weak to put down the insurgents; and a resolution was taken to try the influence of promises and concession. In the morning the Tower Hill was seen covered with an immense multitude, who prohibited the introduction of provisions, and with loud cries demanded the heads of the chancellor and treasurer. In return, a herald ordered them, by proclamation, to retire to Mile End, where the King would assent to all their demands. Immediately the gates were thrown open. Richard with a few unarmed attendants rode forward; the best intentioned of the crowd followed him, and at Mile End he saw himself surrounded with sixty thousand petitioners. Their demands were reduced to four: the abolition of slavery; the reduction of the rent of land to fourpence the acre; the free liberty of buying and selling in all fairs and markets; and a general pardon for past offences. A charter to that effect was engrossed for each parish and township; during the night thirty clerks were employed in transcribing a sufficient number of copies; they were sealed and delivered in the morning; and the223 whole body, consisting chiefly of the men of Essex and Hertfordshire, retired, bearing the King's banner as a token that they were under his protection.

But Tyler and Straw had formed other and more ambitious designs. The moment the King was gone, they rushed, at the head of four hundred men, into the Tower. The Archbishop, who had just celebrated mass, Sir Robert Hales, William Apuldore, the King's confessor, Legge, the farmer of the tax, and three of his associates, were seized, and led to immediate execution.68 As no opposition was offered, they searched every part of the Tower, burst into the private apartment of the Princess, and probed her bed with their swords. She fainted, and was carried by her ladies to the river, which she crossed in a covered barge. The royal wardrobe, a house in Carter Lane, was selected for her residence.

The King joined his mother at the wardrobe; and the next morning, as he rode through Smithfield with sixty horsemen, encountered Tyler at the head of twenty thousand insurgents. Three different charters had been sent to that demagogue, who contemptuously refused them all. As soon as he saw Richard, he made a sign to his followers to halt, and boldly rode up to the King. A conversation immediately began. Tyler, as he talked, affected to play with his dagger; at last he laid his hand on the bridle of his sovereign; but at the instant Walworth, the Lord Mayor, jealous of his design, plunged a short sword into his throat. He spurred his horse, rode about a dozen yards, fell to the ground, and was despatched by Robert Standish, one of the King's esquires. The insurgents, who witnessed the transaction, drew their bows to revenge the fall of their leader, and Richard would inevitably have lost his life had he not been saved by his own intrepidity. Galloping up to the archers he exclaimed: "What are ye doing, my lieges? Tyler was a traitor. Come with me, and I will be your leader." Wavering and disconcerted, they followed him into the fields of Islington, whither a 224force of one thousand men-at-arms, which had been collected by the Lord Mayor and Sir Robert Knowles, hastened to protect the young King; and the insurgents, falling on their knees, begged for mercy. Many of the royalists demanded permission to punish them for their past excesses; but Richard firmly refused, ordered the suppliants to return to their homes, and by proclamation forbade, under pain of death, any stranger to pass the night in the city.

On the southern coast the excesses of the insurgents reached as far as Winchester; on the eastern, to Beverley and Scarborough; and, if we reflect that in every place they rose about the same time, and uniformly pursued the same system, we may discover reason to suspect that they acted under the direction of some acknowledged though invisible leader. The nobility and gentry, intimidated by the hostility of their tenants, and distressed by contradictory reports, sought security within the fortifications of their castles. The only man who behaved with promptitude and resolution was Henry Spenser, the young and warlike Bishop of Norwich. In the counties of Norfolk, Cambridge, and Huntington tranquillity was restored and preserved by this singular prelate, who successively exercised the offices of general, judge, and priest. In complete armor he always led his followers to the attack; after the battle he sat in judgment on his prisoners; and before execution he administered to them the aids of religion. But as soon as the death of Tyler and the dispersion of the men of Kent and Essex were known, thousands became eager to display their loyalty; and knights and esquires from every quarter poured into London to offer their services to the King. At the head of forty thousand horse he published proclamations, revoking the charters of manumission which he had granted, commanding the villeins to perform their usual services, and prohibiting illegal assemblies and associations. In several parts the commons threatened to renew the horrors of the late tumult in defence of their liberties; but the approach of the royal army dismayed the disaffected in Kent; the loss of five hundred men induced the insurgents of Essex to sue for pardon; and numerous executions in different counties effectually crushed the spirit of resistance. Among the sufferers were Lister and Westbroom, who had assumed the225 title and authority of kings in Norfolk and Suffolk; and Straw and Ball, the itinerant preachers, who have been already mentioned, and whose sermons were supposed to have kindled and nourished the insurrection.69

When the parliament met, the two houses were informed by the Chancellor, that the King had revoked the charters of emancipation, which he had been compelled to grant to the villeins, but at the same time wished to submit to their consideration whether it might not be wise to abolish the state of bondage altogether. The minds of the great proprietors were not, however, prepared for the adoption of so liberal a measure; and both lords and commons unanimously replied that no man could deprive them of the services of their villeins without their consent; that they had never given that consent, and never would be induced to give it, either through persuasion or violence. The King yielded to their obstinacy; and the charters were repealed by authority of parliament. The commons next deliberated, and presented their petitions. They attributed the insurrection to the grievances suffered by the people from: 1. The purveyors, who were said to have exceeded all their predecessors in insolence and extortion; 2. From the rapacity of the royal officers in the chancery and exchequer, and the courts of king's bench and common pleas; 3. From the banditti, called maintainers, who, in different counties, supported themselves by plunder, and, arming in defence of each other, set at defiance all the provisions of the law; and 4. From the repeated aids and taxes, which had impoverished the people and proved of no service to the nation. To silence these complaints, a commis226sion of inquiry was appointed; the courts of law and the King's household were subjected to regulations of reform, and severe orders were published for the immediate suppression of illegal associations. But the demand of a supply produced a very interesting altercation. The commons refused, on the ground that the imposition of a new tax would goad the people to a second insurrection. They found it, however, necessary to request of the King a general pardon for all illegal acts committed in the suppression of the insurgents, and received for answer that it was customary for the commons to make their grants before the King bestowed his favors. When the subsidy was again pressed on their attention they replied that they should take time to consider it, but were told that the King would also take time to consider of their petition. At last they yielded; the tax upon wool, wool-fells, and leather was continued for five years, and in return a general pardon was granted for all loyal subjects, who had acted illegally in opposing the rebels, and for the great body of the insurgents, who had been misled by the declamations of the demagogues.



A.D. 1382


It may safely be said that no greater service has been rendered at once to religion and to literature than the translation of the Bible into the English tongue. This achievement did not indeed, like that of Luther's German translation, come as it were by a single stroke. Luther's Bible caused him to be regarded as the founder of the present literary language of Germany—New High German—which his translation permanently established. The English Bible, on the other hand, was the growth of centuries. But to the contributions of able hands through many generations, during which the English language itself passed through a wonderful formative development, the incomparable beauty of King James' version owes its existence, and our literature its greatest ornaments.

It is impossible to say when the first translation of any part of the Bible into English was made. No English Bible of earlier date than the fourteenth century has ever been found. But translations, even of the whole Bible, older than Wcyliffe's are, by at least two eminent witnesses, said to have existed. "As for olde translacions, before Wycliffe's time," says Sir Thomas More, "they remain lawful and be in some folkes handes." "The hole byble," he declares (Dyalogues, p. 138, ed. 1530), "was long before Wycliffe's days, by vertuous and well learned men, translated into the English tong." And Cranmer, in his prologue to the second edition of the "Great Bible," bears testimony equally explicit to the translation of Scripture "in the Saxons tongue." And when that language "waxed olde and out of common usage," he says, the Bible "was again translated into the newer language." There has never been any means of testing these statements, which were probably due to some inexplicable error. Abundant evidence exists relating to many Saxon and later translations of various parts of the Bible before the time of Wycliffe. Among the most notable of the early translators were the Venerable Bede and Alfred the Great. Some portions of Scripture were likewise translated into Anglo-Norman in the thirteenth century. Some of the early fragments are still preserved in English libraries.

Three versions of the Psalter in English, from the early years of the fourteenth century, still exist, one of which was by Richard Rolle, the Yorkshire hermit, who also translated the New Testament.

But so far as known, the first complete Bible in English was the work of John Wycliffe, assisted by Nicholas de Hereford—whom some would 228name first in this partnership, though the product of their joint labors is known as "Wycliffe's Bible."

John Wycliffe, the "Morning Star of the Reformation," was born near Richmond, Yorkshire, about 1324. He became a fellow, and later master of Balliol College, Oxford, afterward held several rectorships—the last being that of Lutterworth, upon which he entered in 1374. For opposing the papacy and certain church doctrines and practices, he was condemned by the university, and his followers—known as Lollards—were persecuted. Something of his life in connection with these matters is fitly dealt with by Smyth in connection with his account of the famous translation.

AFTER the early Anglo-Saxon versions comes a long pause in the history of Bible translation. Amid the disturbance resulting from the Danish invasion there was little time for thinking of translations and manuscripts; and before the land had fully regained its quiet the fatal battle of Hastings had been fought, and England lay helpless at the Normans' feet. The higher Saxon clergy were replaced by the priests of Normandy, who had little sympathy with the people over whom they came, and the Saxon manuscripts were contemptuously flung aside as relics of a rude barbarism. The contempt shown to the language of the defeated race quite destroyed the impulse to English translation, and the Norman clergy had no sympathy with the desire for spreading the knowledge of the Scriptures among the people, so that for centuries those Scriptures remained in England a "spring shut up, a fountain sealed."

Yet this time must not be considered altogether lost, for during those centuries England was becoming fitted for an English Bible. The future language of the nation was being formed; the Saxon and Norman French were struggling side by side; gradually the old Saxon grew unintelligible to the people; gradually the French became a foreign tongue, and with the fusion of the two races a language grew up which was the language of united England.

Passing, then, from the quiet death-beds of Alfred and of Bede, we transfer ourselves to the great hall of the Blackfriars' monastery, London, on a dull, warm May day in 1378, amid purple robes and gowns of satin and damask, amid monks and abbots, and bishops and doctors of the Church, assembled for the trial of John Wycliffe, the parish priest of Lutterworth.

229The great hall, crowded to its heavy oaken doors, witnesses to the interest that is centred in the trial, and all eyes are fixed on the pale, stern old man who stands before the dais silently facing his judges. He is quite alone, and his thoughts go back, with some bitterness, to his previous trial, when the people crowded the doors shouting for their favorite, and John of Gaunt and the Lord Marshal of England were standing by his side. He has learned since then not to put his trust in princes. The power of his enemies has rapidly grown; even the young King (Richard II) has been won over to their cause, and patrons and friends have drawn back from his side, whom the Church has resolved to crush.

The judges have taken their seats, and the accused stands awaiting the charges to be read, when suddenly there is a quick cry of terror. A strange rumbling sound fills the air, and the walls of the judgment hall are trembling to their base—the monastery and the city of London are being shaken by an earthquake! Friar and prelate grow pale with superstitious awe. Twice already has this arraignment of Wycliffe been strangely interrupted. Are the elements in league with this enemy of the Church? Shall they give up the trial?

"No!" thunders Archbishop Courtenay, rising in his place. "We shall not give up the trial. This earthquake but portends the purging of the kingdom; for as there are in the bowels of the earth noxious vapors which only by a violent earthquake can be purged away, so are these evils brought by such men upon this land which only by a very earthquake can ever be removed. Let the trial go forward!"

What think you, reader, were the evils which this pale ascetic had wrought, needing a very earthquake to cleanse them from the land? Had he falsified the divine message to the people in his charge? Was he turning men's hearts from the worship of God? Was his priestly office disgraced by carelessness or drunkenness or impurity of life?

Oh, no. Such faults could be gently judged at the tribunal in the Blackfriars' hall. Wycliffe's was a far more serious crime. He had dared to attack the corruptions of the Church, and especially the enormities of the begging friars; he had indignantly denounced pardons and indulgences and masses for230 the soul as part of a system of gigantic fraud; and worst of all, he had filled up the cup of his iniquity by translating the Scriptures into the English tongue; "making it," as one of the chroniclers angrily complains, "common and more open to laymen and to women than it was wont to be to clerks well learned and of good understanding. So that the pearl of the Gospel is trodden under foot of swine."

The feeling of his opponents will be better understood if we notice the position of the Church in England at the time. The meridian of her power had been already passed. Her clergy as a class were ignorant and corrupt. Her people were neglected, except for the money to be extorted by masses and pardons, "as if," to quote the words of an old writer, "God had given his sheep, not to be pastured, but to be shaven and shorn." This state of things had gone on for centuries, and the people like dumb, driven cattle had submitted. But those who could discern the signs of the times must have seen now that it could not go on much longer. The spread of education was rapidly increasing, several new colleges having been founded in Oxford during Wycliffe's lifetime. A strong spirit of independence, too, was rising among the people. Already Edward III and his parliament had indignantly refused the Pope's demand for the annual tribute to be sent to Rome. It was evident that a crisis was near. And, as if to hasten the crisis, the famous schism of the papacy had placed two popes at the head of the Church, and all Christendom was scandalized by the sight of the rival "vicars of Jesus Christ" anathematizing each other from Rome and Avignon, raising armies and slaughtering helpless women and children, each for the aggrandizing of himself.

The minds of men in England were greatly agitated, and Wycliffe felt that at such a time the firmest charter of the Church would be the open Bible in her children's hands; the best exposure of the selfish policy of her rulers, the exhibiting to the people the beautiful, self-forgetting life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. "The sacred Scriptures," he said, "are the property of the people, and one which no one should be allowed to wrest from them. Christ and his apostles converted the world by making known the Scriptures to men in a form familiar to them, and I pray with all my heart that through231 doing the things contained in this book we may all together come to the everlasting life." This Bible translation he placed far the first in importance of all his attempts to reform the English Church, and he pursued his object with a vigor and against an opposition that remind one of the old monk of Bethlehem and his Bible a thousand years before.

The result of the Blackfriars' synod was that after three days' deliberation Wycliffe's teaching was condemned, and at a subsequent meeting he himself was excommunicated. He returned to his quiet parsonage at Lutterworth—for his enemies dared not yet proceed to extremities—and there, with his pile of old Latin manuscripts and commentaries, he labored on at the great work of his life, till the whole Bible was translated into the "modir tongue," and England received for the first time in her history a complete version of the Scriptures in the language of the people.

And scarce was his task well finished when, like his great predecessor Bede, the brave old priest laid down his life. He himself had expected that a violent death would have finished his course. His enemies were many and powerful; the Primate, the King, and the Pope were against him—with the friars, whom he had so often and so fiercely defied; so that his destruction seemed but a mere question of time. But while his enemies were preparing to strike, the old man "was not, for God took him."

It was the close of the old year, the last Sunday of 1384, and his little flock at Lutterworth were kneeling in hushed reverence before the altar, when suddenly, at the time of the elevation of the sacrament, he fell to the ground in a violent fit of the palsy, and never spoke again until his death on the last day of the year.

In him England lost one of her best and greatest sons, a patriot sternly resenting all dishonor to his country, a reformer who ventured his life for the purity of the Church and the freedom of the Bible—an earnest, faithful "parson of a country town," standing out conspicuously among the clergy of the time.

"For Cristè's lore and his apostles twelve He taughte—and first he folwede it himselve."

232Here is a choice specimen from one of the monkish writers of the time describing his death: "On the feast of the passion of St. Thomas of Canterbury, John Wycliffe, the organ of the devil, the enemy of the Church, the idol of heretics, the image of hypocrites, the restorer of schism, the storehouse of lies, the sink of flattery, being struck by the horrible judgment of God, was seized with the palsy throughout his whole body, and that mouth which was to have spoken huge things against God and his saints, and holy Church, was miserably drawn aside, and afforded a frightful spectacle to beholders; his tongue was speechless and his head shook, showing painfully plainly that the curse which God had thundered forth against Cain was also inflicted on him."

Some time after his death a petition was presented to the Pope, which to his honor he rejected, praying him to order Wycliffe's body to be taken out of consecrated ground and buried in a dunghill. But forty years after, by a decree of the Council of Constance, the old reformer's bones were dug up and burned, and the ashes flung into the little river Swift which "runneth hard by his church at Lutterworth." And so, in the often-quoted words of old Fuller, "as the Swift bear them into the Severn, and the Severn into the narrow seas, and they again into the ocean, thus the ashes of Wycliffe is an emblem of his doctrine, which is now dispersed all over the world."

But it is with his Bible translation that we are specially concerned. As far as we can learn, the whole Bible was not translated by the reformer. About half the Old Testament is ascribed to Nicholas de Hereford, one of the Oxford leaders of the Lollards; the remainder, with the whole of the New Testament, being done by Wycliffe himself. About eight years after its completion the whole was revised by Richard Purvey, his curate and intimate friend, whose manuscript is still in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Purvey's preface is a most interesting old document, and shows not only that he was deeply in earnest about his work, but that he thoroughly understood the intellectual and moral conditions necessary for its success.

"A simpel creature," he says, "hath translated the Scripture out of Latin into Englische. First, this simpel creature had233 much travayle with divers fellows and helpers to gather many old Bibles and other doctors and glosses to make one Latin Bible. Some deal true and then to study it anew the texte and any other help he might get, especially Lyra on the Old Testament, which helped him much with this work. The third time to counsel with olde grammarians and old divines of hard words and hard sentences how they might best be understood and translated, the fourth time to translate as clearly as he could to the sense, and to have many good fellows and cunnying at the correcting of the translacioun. A translator hath great nede to studie well the sense both before and after, and then also he hath nede to live a clene life and be full devout in preiers, and have not his wit occupied about worldli things that the Holy Spyrit author of all wisdom and cunnynge and truthe dresse him for his work and suffer him not to err." And he concludes with the prayer, "God grant to us all grace to ken well and to kepe well Holie Writ, and to suffer joiefulli some paine for it at the laste."

Like all the earlier English translations, Wycliffe's Bible was based on the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome; and this is the great defect in his work, as compared with the versions that followed. He was not capable of consulting the original Greek and Hebrew even if he had access to them—in fact, there was probably no man in England at the time capable of doing so; and therefore, though he represents the Latin faithfully and well, he of course handed on its errors as faithfully as its perfections. But, such as it is, it is a fine specimen of fourteenth-century English. He translated not for scholars or for nobles, but for the plain people, and his style was such as suited those for whom he wrote—plain, vigorous, homely, and yet with all its homeliness full of a solemn grace and dignity, which made men feel that they were reading no ordinary book. He uses many striking expressions, such as (II Tim. ii. 4): "No man holding knighthood to God, wlappith himself with worldli nedes;" and many of the best-known phrases in our present Bible originated with him; e.g., "the beame and the mote," "the depe thingis of God," "strait is the gate and narewe is the waye," "no but a man schall be born againe," "the cuppe of blessing which we blessen," etc.

234Here is a specimen from Wycliffe's Gospels:

In thilke dayes came Joon Baptist prechynge in the desert of Jude, saying, Do ye penaunce: for the kyngdom of heuens shall neigh. Forsothe this is he of whom it is said by Ysaye the prophete, A voice of a cryinge in desert, make ye redy the wayes of the Lord, make ye rightful the pathes of hym. Forsothe that like Joon hadde cloth of the beeris of cameylis and a girdil of skyn about his leendis; sothely his mete weren Iocustis and hony of the wode. Thanne Jerusalem wente out to hym, and al Jude, and al the cuntre aboute Jordan, and thei weren crystened of hym in in Jordon, knowlechynge there synnes.

It is somewhere recorded that at a meeting in Yorkshire recently a long passage of Wycliffe's Bible was read, which was quite intelligible throughout to those who heard.

It will be seen that this specimen (Matt. iii. 1-6) is not divided into verses. Verse division belongs to a much later period, and, though convenient for reference, it sometimes a good deal spoils the sense. The division into chapters appears in Wycliffe's as in our own Bibles. This chapter division had shortly before been made by a cardinal Hugo, for the purpose of a Latin concordance, and its convenience brought it quickly into use. But, like the verse division, it is often very badly done, the object aimed at seeming to be uniformity of length rather than any natural division of the subject. Sometimes a chapter breaks off in the middle of a narrative or an argument, and, especially in St. Paul's epistles, the incorrect division often becomes misleading. The removal as far as possible of these divisions is one of the advantages of the Revised Version to be noticed later on.

The book had a very wide circulation. While the Anglo-Saxon versions were confined for the most part to the few religious houses where they were written, Wycliffe's Bible, in spite of its disadvantage of being only manuscript, was circulated largely through the kingdom; and, though the cost a good deal restricted its possession to the wealthier classes, those who could not hope to possess it gained access to it too, as well through their own efforts as through the ministrations of Wycliffe's "pore priestes." A considerable sum was paid for even a few sheets of the manuscript, a load of hay was given for permission235 to read it for a certain period one hour a day,70 and those who could not afford even such expenses adopted what means they could. It is touching to read such incidents as that of one Alice Collins, sent for to the little gatherings "to recite the Ten Commandments and parts of the epistles of SS. Paul and Peter, which she knew by heart." "Certes," says old John Foxe in his Book of Martyrs, "the zeal of those Christian days seems much superior to this of our day, and to see the travail of them may well shame our careless times."

But it was at a terrible risk such study was carried on. The appearance of Wycliffe's Bible aroused at once fierce opposition. A bill was brought into parliament to forbid the circulation of the Scriptures in English; but the sturdy John of Gaunt vigorously asserted the right of the people to have the Word of God in their own tongue; "for why," said he, "are we to be the dross of the nations?" However, the rulers of the Church grew more and more alarmed at the circulation of the book. At length Archbishop Arundel, a zealous but not very learned prelate, complained to the Pope of "that pestilent wretch, John Wycliffe, the son of the old Serpent, the forerunner of Antichrist, who had completed his iniquity by inventing a new translation of the Scriptures"; and, shortly after, the Convocation of Canterbury forbade such translations, under penalty of the major excommunication.

236"God grant us," runs the prayer in the old Bible preface, "to ken and to kepe well Holie Writ, and to suffer joiefulli some paine for it at the laste." What a meaning that prayer must have gained when the readers of the book were burned with the copies round their necks, when men and women were executed for teaching their children the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments in English, when husbands were made to witness against their wives, and children forced to light the death-fires of their parents, and possessors of the banned Wycliffe Bible were hunted down as if they were wild beasts!

Thus did Wycliffe, in his effort for the spread of the Gospel of Peace, bring, like his Master fourteen centuries before, "not peace, but a sword." Every bold attempt to let in the light on long-standing darkness seems to result first in a fierce opposition from the evil creatures that delight in the darkness, and the weak creatures weakened by dwelling in it so long. It is not till the driving back of the evil and the strengthening of the weak, as the light gradually wins its way, that the true results can be seen. It is, to use a simile of a graceful modern writer,71 "As when you raise with your staff an old flat stone, with the grass forming a little hedge, as it were, around it as it lies. Beneath it, what a revelation! Blades of grass flattened down, colorless, matted together, as if they had been bleached and ironed; hideous crawling things; black crickets with their long filaments sticking out on all sides; motionless, slug-like creatures; young larvæ, perhaps more horrible in their pulpy stillness than in the infernal wriggle of maturity. But no sooner is the stone turned and the wholesome light of day let in on this compressed and blinded community of creeping things than all of them that have legs rush blindly about, butting against each other and everything else in their way, and end in a general stampede to underground retreats from the region poisoned by sunshine. Next year you will find the grass growing fresh and green where the stone lay—the ground-bird builds her nest where the beetle had his hole—the dandelion and the buttercup are growing there, and the broad fans of insect-angels open and shut over their golden disks as the rhythmic waves of blissful consciousness pulsate through their glorified being.

237"The stone is ancient error, the grass is human nature borne down and bleached of all its color by it, the shapes that are found beneath are the crafty beings that thrive in the darkness, and the weak organizations kept helpless by it. He who turns the stone is whosoever puts the staff of truth to the old lying incubus, whether he do it with a serious face or a laughing one. The next year stands for the coming time. Then shall the nature which had lain blanched and broken rise in its full stature and native lines in the sunshine. Then shall God's minstrels build their nests in the hearts of a new-born humanity. Then shall beauty—divinity taking outline and color—light upon the souls of men as the butterfly, image of the beatified spirit rising from the dust, soars from the shell that held a poor grub, which would never have found wings unless that stone had been lifted."




A.D. 1386-1389

F. Grenfell Baker

For two generations after the victory of the Swiss over the Austrians at Morgarten (1315), which was followed by the renewal of the Swiss Confederation of 1291, the leagued cantons were favored with growth and internal development. To the original cantons—Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden—were added (1332-1353) Lucerne, Zurich, Glarus, Zug, and Bern. The Confederation acknowledged no superior but the Emperor of Germany.

In 1375 there was an irruption into Switzerland of a horde of irregular soldiers under Enguerrand de Courcy, son-in-law of Edward III of England. The mother of De Courcy was a daughter of Leopold I, Duke of Austria, and through her De Courcy claimed several Swiss towns. As the present Austrian Duke, Leopold II, who held nominal suzerainty over Switzerland, refused to give them up, De Courcy invaded Swiss territory with a large force and a fury which at first threw the country into panic. But at last the Swiss recovered their old spirit of bravery, and in many severe encounters they either killed or chased out of the country the whole ruthless host of invaders.

This war is known in Swiss chronicles as the Guglerkrieg, either from the pointed spikes on the helmets of the Swiss soldiers or from the cowls which many of them wore. It is also called the "English War," although De Courcy's men were nearly all from the Continent and Wales.

The Swiss soon had need of their old military prowess, which this defence of their country against foreign invaders had freshly put to the proof. By the victory of Sempach, July 9, 1386, their independence was practically won, and by later acts of valor and statesmanship they made it secure for many years.

AUSTRIA'S conduct soon began once more to disturb the Swiss, and to threaten a renewal of hostilities. Her first act of importance was the conquest of the Tyrol, after which, under pretence of benefiting the pilgrims to Einsiedeln,72 but in 239reality to separate Glarus from Zurich, she built a bridge across the lake at Rapperschwyl. The possession of this bridge by Austria acted as a perpetual hinderance to Zurich's trade with the South, and was accordingly greatly resented by the city. Austria's position, as ruler in so many burghs that, from their situation and the nationality of their inhabitants, were essentially Swiss, also acted as a never-ending source of trouble. Her rule was both harsh and unjust, and, as a result, her local governors were extremely unpopular. In 1386 the anti-Austrian feeling in Switzerland had grown to such a pitch that popular outbreaks against her authority were, in many centres, of frequent occurrence, and war appeared inevitable.

From Lucerne came the final troubles that precipitated the country again into a conflict with Austria. Previous to the actual declaration of war, constant collisions in the neighborhood of Lucerne had for some time past taken place, with all the horrors and savagery of war. In 1385 a body of men from Lucerne attacked and demolished the castle town of Rothenburg, the residence of an Austrian bailie. Next, both Entlibuch and Sempach, at the instigation of Lucerne, revolted against her Austrian rulers, expelled the bailies, and entered into alliances with the city. Lucerne herself commenced extending her territories by the purchase of Wiggis, and—contrary to her treaty stipulations—admitted a number of Austrian subjects into the privileges of citizenship. Austria retaliated by attacking Richensee, a small Lucerne town containing a garrison of some two hundred soldiers. This she carried by assault and destroyed, massacring the inhabitants of all ages and of both sexes.

Other reprisals on both sides followed in quick succession, in which immense numbers of victims perished. Soon both the Duke, Leopold II, and the Confederates were fully prepared, and the former took the field with a large army. After menacing Zurich, the Duke, accompanied by many nobles from Germany, France, and North Italy, headed some six thousand picked men, and marched upon Lucerne. On his way he burned Willisau and several smaller towns, where his troops committed every form of excess. On July 9th a portion of his forces appeared before the walls of Sempach, while another division240 menaced Zurich. At Sempach the Confederates mustered to the help of Lucerne, but were only able to bring about sixteen hundred men, taken chiefly from the Forest States. In spite of their disparity in numbers, the Confederates determined to risk an encounter.

The decisive and brilliant battle of Sempach, the second of the long roll of victories that mark the prowess of the Swiss, is thus described by an old writer: "The Swiss order of battle was angular, one soldier followed by two, these by four, and so on. The Swiss were all on foot, badly armed, having only their long swords and their halberds, and boards on their left arms with which to parry the blows of their adversaries, and they could at first make no impression on the close ranks of the Austrians, all bristling with spears. But Anthony zer Pot, of Uri, cried to his men to strike with their halberds on the shafts of the spears, which he knew were made hollow to render them lighter, and, at the same time, Arnold von Winkelried, a knight from Unterwalden, devoting himself for his country, cried out: 'I'll open a way for you, Confederates!' and, seizing as many spears as he could grasp in his arms, dragged them down with his whole weight and strength upon his own bosom, and thus made an opening for his countrymen to penetrate the Austrian ranks.

"This act of heroism decided the victory. The Swiss rushed into the gap made by Winkelried, and, having now come to close quarters with their enemies, their bodily strength and the lightness of their equipment gave them a great advantage over the heavily armed Austrians, who were already fainting under the heat of a July sun. The very closeness of the array of the Austrian men-at-arms rendered them incapable either of advancing or falling back, and, the grooms who held their horses having taken flight, panic seized them, they broke their ranks, and were hewed down by the Swiss halberds in frightful numbers. Duke Leopold was urged by those around him to save his life, but he scorned the advice, and, seeing the banner of Austria in danger, rushed to save it, and was killed in the attempt. The rout then became general, but the Swiss had the humanity, or the policy, not to pursue their enemies, of whom otherwise not one, perhaps, would have escaped. The loss of the Austrians amounted to two thousand men, including six hundred and seventy-six241 noblemen, three hundred and fifty of whom wore coroneted helmets. Most of them were buried at Koenigsfelden, with their leader Leopold. The Swiss lost two hundred men in this memorable battle, the second in which they had defeated a duke of Austria at the head of his chivalry."

After Sempach the men of Glarus set about making themselves a free people. One of their first acts was the capture of Wesen and the expulsion of its Austrian soldiers. This was followed by a truce, which lasted till 1388, when Leopold's sons recommenced the war with fresh fury. Wesen was recaptured by the admission of a number of soldiers in disguise, who opened the gates to their comrades without and massacred all the chief Swiss leaders. Some months later the men of Glarus inflicted a severe defeat on the Austrians at the little town of Naefels, within their state. In this important combat three hundred and fifty men of Glarus, together with fifty from Schwyz, posted themselves on the heights above the town, and, as the Austrians advanced, suddenly hurled down masses of stones that soon caused a panic. Then, following the successful tactics employed at Morgarten, the Swiss rushed down on the disordered mass—said to consist of fifteen thousand soldiers, but probably about half that number—and dealt death on every side. A precipitate flight of the invaders followed, but they were met near Wesen by a fresh body of seven hundred Glarus peasants, who completed the victory.

Though Bern took no part in the battle of Sempach, after that victory she entered actively into the war, and overran the Austrian dependencies in Freiburg and Valengrin. She drove the Duke's followers out of Rapperschwyl, annexed Nidau and Bueren, and conquered the upper Simmenthal.

At length, both sides being weary of war and carnage, a peace was signed for seven years in 1389, with the condition that Bern should restore Nidau and Bueren. This peace was in 1394 further prolonged for twenty years. These treaties brought great benefits to Switzerland in many ways. Glarus and Zug obtained their formal freedom from Austrian rule in payment of a moderate sum of money; Schwyz received the town and abbey of Einsiedeln (1397); Lucerne purchased Sempach and Entlibuch from the Duke, as also other towns; but chief of all, the242 political power of the Hapsburgs came to an end in Switzerland.

An important feature of this period was the lessened influence of the Emperor of Germany in Swiss affairs, and the gradual withdrawal of the Swiss from the position they so long occupied as subject-vassals of the empire. This was especially seen toward the close of the fourteenth century, when the Emperor, being pressed for money, sold his rights over several important Swiss districts to their inhabitants, and thus forfeited all authority over them.

But chief of all the memorable events of this time was the close it brought to the long and bloody struggle between Austria and Switzerland. At length the heroism and persevering patriotism of the Swiss effected the liberation of their country from Austrian rule, and henceforth the dukes ceased to attempt to enforce their claims, and tacitly acknowledged their defeat. The Swiss states from this period, moreover, began to be known, not as an unimportant portion of the German empire, but as a separate country, Die Schweiz, from the prominent part taken by Schwyz in initiating the freedom of the land.



A.D. 1397


Canute the Great, King of England and Denmark, by successful wars added almost the whole of Norway to his dominions. At his death in 1035 his kingdoms were divided, and fell into anarchy and discord for two centuries, until the tyrant Black Geert, who had driven out Christopher II, and been for fourteen years the virtual sovereign of Denmark, was assassinated by the Danish patriot Niels Ebbeson.

Christopher's third son, Waldemar, surnamed Atterdag, because he used to say when a misfortune happened, "To-morrow it is again day," was recalled from Bavaria and crowned king as Waldemar IV. He commenced at once with vigor and marked success the improvement of the internal conditions of the country, and strove to encompass his chief ambition, the reunion of the ancient Danish possessions.

By marrying his daughter Margaret to Hakon VI, King of Norway and son of Magnus Smek, King of Sweden, Waldemar laid a basis for a junction of the three great Scandinavian kingdoms. The union was realized under the administration of his illustrious and sagacious daughter, Margaret, known as the "Semiramis of the North."

WALDEMAR ATTERDAG left no direct male issue. But his two grandsons, Albert the Younger, of Mecklenburg, a son of Ingeborg, Waldemar's eldest daughter, and of Henry of Mecklenburg; and Olaf, a son of Margaret, his younger daughter, and of Hakon VI of Norway, were now claiming the hereditary succession to the throne. One party declared for Olaf, but, as he was the son of the younger daughter, his claim was very doubtful. But because the house of Mecklenburg had acted with hostility toward Denmark, and Olaf had expectation of Norway and claims to the crown of Sweden, as a grandson of Magnus Smek, Denmark was, by his election, in hopes of one day seeing the three crowns united on the same head. It was therefore not long before this important affair was determined. The preference was given Olaf, who, although only six years of age, was, under the name of Olaf V,244 elected king of Denmark, under the guardianship of Margaret his mother; and after the death of his father Hakon VI, he became also king of Norway, the two kingdoms thus being united. This union, till the expiration of four hundred and thirty-four years, was not dissolved. When Olaf V, seven years after, died in Falsterbo, both kingdoms elected Margaret their queen, though custom had not yet authorized the election of a female.

During the reign of this great Princess, who deservedly has been called the "Semiramis of the North," Denmark and Norway exercised in Europe an influence the effects of which were long felt throughout the Scandinavian countries with their vast extent and rival races. She united wisdom and policy with courage and determination, had strength of mind to preserve her rectitude without deviation, and her efforts were crowned by divine Providence with success. She is justly considered one of the most illustrious female rulers in history. Her renown even reached the Byzantine emperor Emanuel Palæologus, who called her Regina sine exemplo maxima. But under her successors—destitute of her high sense of duty, great ability, and consistent virtue—her triumphs proved a snare instead of a blessing. The great union she created dissolved in a short time, and its downfall was as sudden as its elevation had been extraordinary. She was born in 1353. Her father was, as we have seen, Waldemar Atterdag, her mother Queen Hedevig, and she became queen of Denmark and Norway in 1387. She was no sooner elected queen of Denmark, and homaged on the hill of Sliparehog, near Lund, in Ringsted, Odensee, and Wiborg, than she sailed to Norway to receive their homage. But a remarkable occurrence is mentioned by historians as occurring about this time. A report prevailed that King Olaf, the Queen's son, was not dead; it was propagated by the nobility, and very likely set on foot by them, in order to punish Margaret for her liberality to the clergy. An impostor claimed the crown of Denmark and Norway, and gained credit every day by making discoveries which could only be known to Olaf and his mother. Margaret, however, proved him to be a son of Olaf's nurse. Olaf had a large wart between his shoulders—a mark which did not appear on the impostor. The false Olaf was seized, broken on the245 wheel, and publicly burned at a place between Falsterbo and Skanor, in Sweden, and Margaret continued uninterruptedly her regency.

But the Queen, not wishing to contract a new marriage, and comprehending the importance of having a successor elected to the throne, proposed her nephew, Eric, Duke of Pomerania. This proposal the clergy and nobility approved, and they elected him to be king of Denmark and Norway after Margaret's death. Meanwhile Albert, King of Sweden, having, on account of his preference given to German favorites, incurred the hatred of his people, the Swedes requested Margaret to assist them against him, which she promised to do if they in return would make her queen of Sweden. Moreover, Albert had highly offended the Danish Queen; had, though hardly able to govern his own kingdom, assumed the title "king of Denmark," and laid claim to Norway, too; and when she blamed him for it he had answered her disdainfully. In a letter he had used foul and abusive language, calling her "a king without breeches," and the "abbot's concubine" (abbedfrillen), on account of her particular attachment to a certain abbot of Soro, who was her spiritual director. It is, however, true, that her intimacy with this monk gave room for some suspicion that her privacies with him were not all employed about the care of her soul. Afterward, to ridicule her yet more, King Albert sent her a hone to sharpen her needles, and swore not to put on his nightcap until she had yielded to him. But under perilous circumstances Margaret was never at a loss how to act. She acted here with the utmost prudence, trying first to gain the favor of the peers of the state, and solemnly promising to rule according to the Swedish laws. War now broke out between Albert and Margaret, whose army was commanded by Jvar Lykke. The encounter of the two armies—about twelve thousand men on each side—took place at Falkoping, September 21, 1388. A furious battle was fought, in which the victory for a long while hung in suspense. But Margaret's good fortune prevailed; Albert was routed and his army cut to pieces, and Margaret was now mistress of Sweden.

While this was passing, the Queen tarried in Wordingborg Sjelland, ardently desiring to learn the result. But no sooner did246 she hear that the victory was gained, and the Swedish King and his son Eric taken prisoners, than she hastened to Bahus, in Sweden, where the King and his son were brought before her. Lost in joy and amazement at having her enemy in her power, the Queen now retorted upon King Albert with revilings, and she made him wear a large nightcap of paper—a retaliation proportioned to his offensive words. He and his son were thereupon brought to Lindholm, a castle in Skane, where they were kept prisoners for seven years. When they entered the castle, a dark, square room was assigned them, and when the King said, "I hope that this torture against a crowned head will only last a few days," the jailer replied: "I grieve to say that the Queen's orders are to the contrary; anger not the Queen by any bravado, else you will be placed in the irons, and if these fail we can have recourse to sharper means." To the excessive self-love, intemperance, conceitedness, and want of foresight which had characterized all his actions, the unhappy Albert had to ascribe his present situation.

The year following, the Queen stormed the important city of Calmar, yet siding with the imprisoned King. She made several wise alliances with Richard II of England, and other potentates, and concluded a truce for two years with the princes of Mecklenburg, and the cities of Rostock and Wismar, which had begun to raise fresh levies in favor of the unfortunate Albert. This period expired, she laid siege to Stockholm and other fortified places, of which John, Duke of Mecklenburg, and other friends of the imprisoned King had become masters. But the cause of Albert was little forwarded, and Margaret gained ground every day. She compelled the capital to surrender to her and do homage to her as its sovereign; whereafter a peremptory peace was concluded on Good Friday, which restored tranquillity to the three kingdoms. The imprisoned King and his son were delivered up to the Hanseatic towns, and they obtained their liberty for sixty thousand ounces of silver, upon condition that they should resign all claims to Sweden if the amount were not paid within three years. As soon as the King and his son were delivered to the deputies, they solemnly swore to a strict observance of this article, the Hanse towns engaging themselves to guarantee the treaty. The money, however, not being paid by the stipulated247 time, Margaret became undisputed sovereign of Sweden, the third Scandinavian kingdom.

About this time the "Victuals Brethren," so called because they brought victuals from the Hanse towns to Stockholm while besieged, began to imperil Denmark, plundering the Danish and Norwegian coasts, and destroying all commercial business along the Baltic. But Margaret ordered the harbors of the maritime towns to be blockaded, thus putting a quick stop to their cruelties and piracies. The Queen's principal care was now to visit the different provinces, to administer justice and redress grievances of every kind. Among other salutary regulations, the affairs of commerce were not forgotten. It was, for instance, decreed that all manner of assistance should be given to foreign merchants and sailors, particularly in case of misfortune and shipwreck, without expectation of reward; and that all pirates should be treated with the greatest rigor.

Eric of Pomerania was, as we have said, elected to be king of Denmark and Norway after Margaret's death. But wishing to have him also elected her successor to the Swedish throne, Margaret brought him to Sweden, and introduced him to the deputies, one by one, whom she requested to confirm his election to the succession. The majesty of the Queen's person, the strength of her arguments, and the sweetness of her eloquence gained over the deputies, who, on July 22, 1396, elected him at Morastone by Upsala, to succeed her also in Sweden. But Margaret, soon discovering his inability and impetuousness, took pains to remedy these defects, as much as possible, by procuring for him as a wife the intelligent and virtuous princess Philippa, a daughter of Henry V of England, and shortly after had got Catharine, her niece and Eric's sister, married to Prince John, a son of the German emperor Ruprecht; John being promised the Scandinavian crowns if Eric of Pomerania should die childless. Thus having strengthened and consolidated her power by influential connections and relationships, the Queen, upon whose head the three northern crowns were actually united, now proceeded to realize the great plan she had long cherished—to get a fundamental law established for a perpetual union of the three large Scandinavian kingdoms. The realization of this purpose immortalized her, securing for her the admiration of the world,248 whose most eminent historians do not hesitate to surname her the "Great," and to compare her with the loftiest Greek and Roman heroes and statesmen.

On June 17, 1397, Margaret summoned to an assembly at Calmar, in the province of Smaland, Sweden, the clergy and the nobility of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, and established, by their aid and consent, a fundamental law. This was the law so celebrated in the North under the name of the "Union of Calmar," and which afterward gave birth to wars between Sweden and Denmark that lasted a whole century. It consisted of three articles. The first provided that the three kingdoms should thenceforward have but one and the same king, who was to be chosen successively by each of the kingdoms. The second article imposed upon the sovereign the obligation of dividing his time equally between the three kingdoms. The third, and most important, decreed that each kingdom should retain its own laws, customs, senate, and privileges of every kind; that the highest officers should be natives; that any alliance concluded with foreign potentates should be obligatory upon all three kingdoms when approved by the council of one kingdom; and that, after the death of the King, his eldest son, or, if the King died childless, then another wise, intelligent, and able prince, should be chosen common monarch; and if anyone, because of high treason, was banished from one kingdom, then he should be banished from them all. A month after, on the Queen's birthday, July 13th, a legitimate charter was drawn up, to which the Queen subscribed and put her seal; on which occasion Eric of Pomerania was anointed and crowned by the archbishops of Upsala and Lund as king of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The Te Deum was sung in the churches of Calmar, the assembly crying out: "Hæcce unio esto perpetua! Longe, longe, longe, vivat Margarethe, regina Daniæ, Norvegiæ et Sveciæ!"

This strict union of the three large states became a potent bulwark for their security, and made them, in more than one century, the arbiter of the European system; the three nations of the northern peninsula presenting a compact and united front, that could bid defiance to any foreign aggression.

Although Eric of Pomerania was elected king, and in 1407 passed his minority, Margaret continued governing until the day249 of her death. "You have done all well," wrote the people to her, "and we value your services so highly that we would gladly grant you everything." The union of the three Scandinavian kingdoms having been established in Calmar, all her efforts were now aimed at regaining the duchy of Schleswig, which circumstances had compelled her to resign to Gerhard IV, Count of Holstein. For such a reunion with Schleswig a favorable opportunity appeared, when Gerhard was killed in an expedition against the Ditmarshers, leaving behind three sons in minority. Elizabeth, Gerhard's widow, fled to Margaret for succor against her violent brother-in-law, Bishop Henry of Osnabrueck. Margaret, fond of fishing in foul water, was very willing to help her, but availed herself of the opportunity to annex successively different parts of Schleswig.

The dethroned Swedish King, Albert, never able to forget his anger toward Margaret or her severity against him, and continually cherishing a hope of reascending the Swedish throne, and considering the Union of Calmar a breach of peace, contrived to make the Swedish people displeased with her, and thought it a suitable time to revolt from her dominion. He established a strong camp before Visby, the capital of the island of Gulland, having six thousand foot and, at some distance, nine thousand horse. Determined to engage before their junction could take place, the Queen's commander-in-chief, Abraham Broder, immediately advanced until in sight of the enemy, and then endeavored to gain possession of Visby and the ground near by. In this he was so far successful that Albert and his army had to leave the camp and conclude a truce. But nevertheless he did not till after a lapse of seven years give up his hope of remounting the throne of Sweden, making a final peace with Margaret, and henceforward living in Gadebush, Mecklenburg, where in 1412 he closed his inglorious life.

Soon after, October 27th, Queen Margaret died on board a ship in the harbor of Flensburg, at the age of fifty-nine, after an active and notable reign of thirty-seven years. Her funeral was attended with the greatest solemnity, and her corpse was brought to the Cathedral of Roeskilde, where Eric of Pomerania, her successor, in 1423, caused her likeness to be carved in alabaster. Her acts show her character. She displayed judiciousness united250 with circumspection; wisdom in devising plans, and perseverance in executing them; skill in gaining the confidence of the clergy and peasantry, and thereby counterbalancing the imperious nobility. On the whole she applied herself to the civilization of her three kingdoms, and to their improvement by excellent laws, the great aim of which was to undermine the nobility. She pursued the plan of her great father to recall all rights to the crown lands, which during the reign of her weak and inefficient predecessors had been granted to the nobility. The prosecution of this plan for the perfect subversion of the feudal aristocracy was unfortunately interrupted by her death; her imprudent and weak successor having no power to restrain the turbulent spirit of a factious nobility.




A.D. 1399


Richard II, son of Edward the Black Prince, succeeded his grandfather, Edward III, on the throne of England in 1377, when Richard was but ten years old. During his minority the government was intrusted to a council of twelve, but for some years it was mainly controlled by Richard's uncles, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester. War with France, then in progress, entailed great expenditures, which were increased by court extravagance, and at length burdensome taxes led to popular uprisings. These became most serious in the great revolt of the peasants led by Wat Tyler, in 1381. Richard appeared among the insurgents and granted them concessions.

From this time the King became more active in his government, and in 1386 John of Gaunt withdrew to the Continent. About the same time the Duke of Gloucester headed a coalition of the baronial party in opposition to the sovereign; but in 1389 Richard suddenly declared himself of age and gave a check to their designs. For eight years he ruled with moderation as a constitutional monarch.

But in 1396 Richard married Isabella, daughter of Charles VI of France, and henceforth seems to have adopted French ideas, and to have made pretensions in the direction of absolutism. He proceeded to arbitrary prosecutions which led to the violent death of several leading nobles. Richard also quarrelled with Henry, son of John of Gaunt, whom as Duke of Lancaster he succeeded in 1399. The year before, Richard had banished Henry for ten years—fearing him as a possible rival. The history of the remaining months of Richard's reign is crowded with the events which rapidly led to the ending of the direct line of the Plantagenets and the beginning of the line of Lancaster.

In Shakespeare's Richard II—the first of his historical plays—the poet, following Holinshed's chronicle, presents not only a skilful dramatic construction of the recorded incidents of the reign, but also a finely discriminated portrait of Richard's much debated character as man and monarch.

RICHARD now saw himself triumphant over all his opponents. Even his uncles, through affection or fear, seconded all his measures. He had attained what seems for some time to have been the great object of his policy. He had placed himself above252 the control of the law. By the grant of a subsidy for life he was relieved from the necessity of meeting his parliament; with the aid of his committee, the members of which proved the obsequious ministers of his will, he could issue what new ordinances he pleased; and a former declaration by the two houses, that he was as free as any of his predecessors, was conveniently interpreted to release him from the obligations of those statutes which he deemed hostile to the royal prerogative. But he had forfeited all that popularity which he had earned during the last ten years; and the security in which he indulged hurried him on to other acts of despotism, which inevitably led to his ruin. He raised money by forced loans; he compelled the judges to expound the law according to his own prejudices or caprice; he required the former adherents of Gloucester to purchase and repurchase charters of pardon; and, that he might obtain a more plentiful harvest of fines and amercements, put at once seventeen counties out of the protection of the law, under the pretence that they had favored his enemies.

The Duke of Lancaster did not survive the banishment of his son more than three months; and the exile expected to succeed by his attorneys to the ample estates of his father. But Richard now discovered that his banishment, like an outlawry, had rendered him incapable of inheriting property. At a great council, including the committee of parliament, it was held that the patents granted, both to him and his antagonist, were illegal, and therefore void; and all the members present were sworn to support that determination. Henry Bowet, who had procured the patent for the duke of Hereford, was even condemned, for that imaginary offence, to suffer the punishment of treason; though, on account of his character, his life was spared on condition that he should abjure the kingdom forever.

This iniquitous proceeding seems to have exhausted the patience of the nation. Henry—on the death of his father he had assumed the title of duke of Lancaster—had long been the idol of the people; and the voluntary assemblage of thousands to attend him on his last departure from London might have warned Richard of the approaching danger. The feeling of their own wrongs had awakened among them a spirit of resistance; the new injury offered to their favorite pointed him out253 to them as their leader. Consultations were held; plans were formed; the dispositions of the great lords were sounded; and the whole nation appeared in a ferment. Yet it was in this moment, so pregnant with danger, that the infatuated monarch determined to leave his kingdom. His cousin and heir, the Earl of March, had been surprised and slain by a party of Irish; and, in his eagerness to revenge the loss of a relation, he despised the advice of his friends, and wilfully shut his eyes to the designs of his enemies.

Having appointed his uncle, the Duke of York, regent during his absence, the King assisted at a solemn mass at Windsor, chanted a collect himself, and made his offering. At the door of the Church he took wine and spices with his young Queen; and, lifting her up in his arms, repeatedly kissed her, saying, "Adieu, madam, adieu till we meet again." From Windsor, accompanied by several noblemen, he proceeded to Bristol, where the report of plots and conspiracies reached him, and was received with contempt. At Milford Haven he joined his army, and, embarking in a fleet of two hundred sail, arrived in a few days in the port of Waterford. His cousin the Duke of Albemarle had been ordered to follow with a hundred more; and three weeks were consumed in waiting for that nobleman, whose delay was afterward attributed to a secret understanding with the King's enemies.

At length Richard led his forces from Kilkenny against the Irish. Several of the inferior chiefs hastened barefoot and with halters round their necks to implore his mercy; but M'Murchad spurned the idea of submission, and boasted that he would extirpate the invaders. He dared not indeed meet them in open combat; but it was his policy to flee before them, and draw them into woods and morasses, where they could neither fight with advantage nor procure subsistence. The want of provisions and the clamor of the soldiers compelled the King to give up the pursuit, and to direct his march toward Dublin; and M'Murchad, when he could no longer impede their progress, solicited and obtained a parley with the Earl of Gloucester, the commander of the rear-guard. The chieftain was an athletic man; he came to the conference mounted on a gray charger, which had cost him four hundred head of cattle, and brandished with ease and254 dexterity a heavy spear in his hand. He seemed willing to become the nominal vassal of the King of England, but refused to submit to any conditions. Richard set a price on his head, proceeded to Dublin, and at the expiration of a fortnight was joined by the Duke of Albemarle with men and provisions. This seasonable supply enabled him to recommence the pursuit of M'Murchad; but while he was thus occupied with objects of inferior interest in Ireland, a revolution had occurred in England, which eventually deprived him both of his crown and his life.

When the King sailed to Ireland, Henry of Bolingbroke, the new Duke of Lancaster, resided in Paris, where he was hospitably entertained, but at the same time narrowly watched, by the French monarch. About Christmas he offered his hand to Marie, one of the daughters of the Duke of Berry. The jealousy of Richard was alarmed; the Earl of Salisbury hastened to Paris to remonstrate against the marriage of a daughter of France with an English "traitor," and, suiting his conduct to his words, the envoy, having accomplished his object, returned without deigning to speak to the exile. While Henry was brooding over these injuries, the late Primate, or nominal Bishop of St. Andrews, secretly left his house at Cologne, and in the disguise of a friar procured an interview with the Duke at the Hotel de Vinchester. The result of their meeting was a determination to return to England during the King's absence. To elude the suspicions of the French ministers, Henry procured permission to visit the Duke of Bretagne; and, on his arrival at Nantes, hired three small vessels, with which he sailed from Vannes to seek his fortune in England. His whole retinue consisted only of the Archbishop, the son of the late Earl of Arundel, fifteen lances, and a few servants. After hovering for some days on the eastern coast, he landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, and was immediately joined by the two powerful earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland; before whom, in the White Friars at Doncaster, he declared upon oath that his only object was to recover the honors and estates which had belonged to his father, and bound himself not to advance any claim to the crown.

The Duke of York, to whom the King had intrusted the government during his absence, was accurately informed of his255 motions, and had summoned the retainers of the crown to join the royal standard at St. Albans. There is, however, reason to believe that he was not hearty in the cause which it was his duty to support. He must have viewed with pity the unmerited misfortunes of one nephew, and have condemned the violent and thoughtless career of the other; and from the fate of his brother Gloucester, and the cruel and unjust treatment of the only son of his brother, John of Gaunt, he could not draw any very flattering conclusion with respect to the stability of his own family. Whether it was from suspicion of his fidelity, or from the disinclination of the chief barons to draw the sword against one who demanded nothing more than his right, the favorites of Richard became alarmed for their own safety.

The Earl of Wiltshire, with Bussy and Greene, members of the committee of parliament, had been appointed to wait on the young Queen at Wallingford; but they suddenly abandoned their charge, and fled with precipitation to Bristol. York himself followed with the army in the same direction. It might be that, to relieve himself from responsibility, he wished to be in readiness to deliver up the command on the expected arrival of Richard from Ireland; but at the same time he left open the road from Yorkshire to the metropolis, and allowed the adventurer to pursue his object without impediment. Henry was already on his march. The snowball increased as it rolled along, and the small number of forty followers, with whom he had landed, swelled by the time that he had reached St. Albans to sixty thousand men. He was preceded by his messengers and letters, stating not only his own wrongs, but also the grievances of the people, and affirming that the revenue of the kingdom had been let out to farm to the rapacity of Scrope, Bussy, and Greene. In all those lordships which had been the inheritance of his family he was received with enthusiasm; in London by a procession of the clergy and people, with addresses of congratulation, and presents, and offers of service.

His stay in the capital was short. Having flattered the citizens, and confirmed them in their attachment to his person, he turned to the west, and entered Evesham, on the same day on which York reached Berkeley. After an interchange of messages they met in the church of the castle; and, before they256 separated, the doom of Richard was sealed. That the regent consented to the actual deposition of his nephew does not necessarily follow; he might only have sought his reformation by putting it out of his power to govern amiss; but he betrayed the trust which had been reposed to him, united his force with that of Henry, and commanded Sir Peter Courtenay, who held the castle of Bristol for the King, to open its gates. That officer, protesting that he acknowledged no authority in the Duke of Lancaster, obeyed the mandate of the regent. The next morning the three fugitives, the Earl of Wiltshire, Bussy, and Greene, were executed by order of the constable and marshal of the host. The Duke of York remained at Bristol; Henry with his own forces proceeded to Chester to secure that city, and awe the men of Cheshire, the most devoted adherents of the King.

We may now return to Richard in Ireland. It must appear strange, but Henry had been in England a fortnight before the King, in consequence, it was said, of the tempestuous weather, had heard of his landing. The intelligence appears to have provoked indignation as much as alarm. "Ha!" he exclaimed, "fair uncle of Lancaster, God reward your soul! Had I believed you, this man would not have injured me. Thrice have I pardoned him; this is his fourth offence." But he referred the matter to his council, and was advised to cross over to England immediately with the ships which had brought the reënforcement under the Duke of Albemarle. That nobleman, however, insidiously, as it was afterward pretended, diverted him from this intention. The Earl of Salisbury received orders to sail immediately with his own retainers, a body of one hundred men, and to summon to the royal standard the natives of Wales. Richard promised to follow in the fleet from Waterford in the course of six days. The Earl obeyed; the men of Wales and Cheshire answered the call; and a gallant host collected at Conway.

But Richard appeared not according to his promise; distressing reports were circulated among the troops; and the royalists, having waited for him almost a fortnight, disbanded in spite of the fears and entreaties of their commander. At last, on the eighteenth day, the King arrived in Milford Haven with the dukes of Albemarle, Exeter, and Surrey, the Earl of Worcester,257 the bishops of London, Lincoln, and Carlisle, and several thousands of the troops who had accompanied him to Ireland. With such a force, had it been faithful, he might have made a stand against his antagonist; but on the second morning, when he arose, he observed from his window that the greater part had disappeared. A council was immediately summoned, and a proposal made that the King should flee by sea to Bordeaux; but the Duke of Exeter objected that to quit the kingdom in such circumstances was to abdicate the throne. Let them proceed to the army at Conway. There they might bid defiance to the enemy; or at all events, as the sea would still be open, might thence set sail to Guienne. His opinion prevailed; and at nightfall the King, in the disguise of a Franciscan friar, his two brothers of Exeter and Surrey, the Earl of Gloucester, the Bishop of Carlisle, Sir Stephen Scrope, and Sir William Feriby, with eight others, stole away from the army, and directed their route toward Conway. Their flight was soon known. The royal treasure, which Richard left behind him, was plundered; Albemarle, Worcester, and most of the leaders hastened to pay their court to Henry; the rest attempted in small bodies to make their way to their own counties, but were in most instances plundered and ill-treated by the Welsh.

The royal party with some difficulty, but without any accident, reached Conway, where, to their utter disappointment, instead of a numerous force, they found only the Earl of Salisbury with a hundred men. In this emergency the King's brothers undertook to visit Henry at Chester, and to sound his intentions; and during their absence Richard, with the Earl of Salisbury, examined the castles of Beaumaris and Carnarvon; but finding them without garrisons or provisions, the disconsolate wanderers returned to their former quarters.

When the two dukes were admitted into the presence of Henry, they bent the knee and acquainted him with their message from the King. He took little notice of Surrey, whom he afterward confined in the castle, but, leading Exeter aside, spoke with him in private, and gave him, instead of the hart, the King's livery, his own badge of the rose. But no entreaties could induce him to allow them to return. Exeter was observed to drop a tear when the Duke of Albemarle said to him258 tauntingly: "Fair cousin, be not angry. If it please God, things shall go well."

The immediate object of Henry was to secure the royal person. He was gratified to learn from the envoys the place of Richard's retreat, and detained them at Chester, that the King, instead of making his escape, might await their return. His first care was to take possession of the treasure which the King had deposited in the strong castle of Holt; his next, to despatch the Earl of Northumberland at the head of four hundred men-at-arms and a thousand archers to Conway, with instructions not to display his force, lest the King should put to sea, but by artful speeches and promises to draw him out of the fortress and then make him prisoner. The Earl took possession in his journey of the castles of Flint and Rhuddlan, and a few miles beyond the latter, placing his men in concealment under a rock, rode forward with only five attendants to Conway.

He was readily admitted, and, to the King's anxious inquiries about his brothers, replied that he had left them well at Chester, and had brought a letter from the Duke of Exeter. In it that nobleman said, or rather was made to say, that full credit might be given to the offers of the bearer. These offers were, that Richard should promise to govern and judge his people by law; that the dukes of Exeter and Surrey, the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop of Carlisle, and Maudelin, the King's chaplain, should submit to a trial in parliament, on the charge of having advised the assassination of Gloucester; that Henry should be made grand justiciary of the kingdom, as his ancestors had been for a hundred years; and that, on the concession of these terms, the Duke should come to Flint, ask the King's pardon on his knees, and accompany or follow him to London. Richard consulted his friends apart. He expressed his approbation of the articles, but bade them secretly be assured that no consideration should induce him to abandon them on their trial, and that he would grasp the first opportunity of being revenged on his and their enemies—"for there were some among them whom he would flay alive; whom he would never spare for all the gold in the land." Northumberland was then sworn to the observance of the conditions. He took259 his oath on the host; and, "like Judas," says the writer, "perjured himself on the body of our Lord."

As Northumberland departed to make arrangements for the interview at Flint, the King said to him: "I rely, my lord, on your faith. Remember your oath, and the God who heard it." Soon afterward he followed with his friends and their servants, to the number of twenty-two. They came to a steep declivity, to the left of which was the sea, and on the right a lofty rock overhanging the road. The King dismounted, and was descending on foot, when he suddenly exclaimed: "I am betrayed. God of Paradise, assist me! Do you not see banners and pennons in the valley?" Northumberland with eleven others met them at the moment and affected to be ignorant of the circumstance. "Earl of Northumberland," said the King, "if I thought you capable of betraying me, it is not too late to return." "You cannot return," the Earl replied, seizing the King's bridle; "I have promised to conduct you to the Duke of Lancaster." By this time he was joined by a hundred lances, and two hundred archers on horseback; and Richard, seeing it impossible to escape, exclaimed: "May the God, on whom you laid your hand, reward you and your accomplices at the last day!" and then, turning to his friends, added: "We are betrayed; but remember that our Lord was also sold and delivered into the hands of his enemies."

They dined at Rhuddlan, and reached Flint in the evening. The King, as soon as he was left with his friends, abandoned himself to the reflections which his melancholy situation inspired. He frequently upbraided himself with his past indulgence to his present opponent: "Fool that I was!" he exclaimed: "thrice did I save the life of this Henry of Lancaster. Once my dear uncle his father, on whom the Lord have mercy! would have put him to death for his treason and villany. God of Paradise! I rode all night to save him; and his father delivered him to me, to do with him as I pleased. How true is the saying that we have no greater enemy than the man whom we have preserved from the gallows! Another time he drew his sword on me, in the chamber of the Queen, on whom God have mercy! He was also the accomplice of the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Arundel; he consented to my murder,260 to that of his father, and of all my council. By St. John, I forgave him all; nor would I believe his father, who more than once pronounced him deserving of death."

The unfortunate King rose after a sleepless night, heard mass, and ascended the tower to watch the arrival of his opponent. At length he saw the army, amounting to eighty thousand men, winding along the beach till it reached the castle and surrounded it from sea to sea. He shuddered and wept, and cursed the Earl of Northumberland, but was called down by the arrival of Archbishop Arundel, the Duke of Albemarle, and the Earl of Worcester. They knelt to Richard, who, drawing the prelate apart, held a long conversation with him. After their departure he again mounted the tower, and, surveying the host of his enemies, exclaimed: "Good Lord God! I commend myself into thy holy keeping, and cry thee mercy, that thou wouldst pardon all my sins. If they put me to death I will take it patiently, as thou didst for us all." Northumberland had ordered dinner, and the Earl of Salisbury, the Bishop and the two knights, Sir Stephen Scrope and Sir William Feriby, sat with the King at the same table by his order; for since they were all companions in misfortune, he would allow no distinction among them. While he was eating, unknown persons entered the hall, insulting him with sarcasms and threats. As soon as he rose, he was summoned into the court to receive the Duke of Lancaster. Henry came forward in complete armor, with the exception of his helmet. As soon as he saw the King he bent his knee, and, advancing a few paces, he repeated his obeisance with his cap in his hand.

"Fair cousin of Lancaster," said Richard, uncovering himself, "you are right welcome." "My lord," answered the Duke, "I am come before my time. But I will show you the reason. Your people complain that for the space of twenty or two-and-twenty years you have ruled them rigorously; but, if it please God, I will help you to govern better." The King replied, "Fair cousin, since it pleaseth you, it pleaseth us well." Henry then addressed himself successively to the Bishop and to the knights, but refused to notice the Earl. The King's horses were immediately ordered; and two lean and miserable animals were brought out, on which Richard and Salisbury mounted,261 and amid the flourish of trumpets and shouts of triumph followed the Duke into Chester.

At Chester writs were issued in the King's name for the meeting of parliament and the preservation of the peace. Henry dismissed the greater part of his army, and prepared to conduct his prisoner to the capital. At Lichfield Richard seized a favorable moment to let himself down from his window, but was retaken in the garden, and from that moment was constantly guarded by ten or twelve armed men. In the neighborhood of London they separated. Henry, accompanied by the mayor and principal citizens, proceeded to St. Paul's, prayed before the high altar, and wept a few minutes over the tomb of his father. The King was sent to Westminster, and thence on the following day to the Tower, and, as he went along, was greeted with curses and the appellation of "the bastard," a word of ominous import, and prophetic of his approaching degradation.

When the Duke first landed in England, he had sworn on the Gospels that his only object was to vindicate his right to the honors and possessions of the house of Lancaster. If this was the truth, his ambition had grown with his good-fortune. He now aspired to exchange the coronet of a duke for the crown of a king. Can we believe that he would meet with opposition from his associates, the Percy family? Yet so we are assured. They, however, by their perfidy, had given themselves a master. Their retainers had been already dismissed; and the friends of Richard abhorred them as the worst of traitors. They had therefore no resource but to submit, and to second the design of Lancaster. After several consultations it was resolved to combine a solemn renunciation of the royal authority on the part of Richard with an act of deposition on the part of the two houses of parliament, in the hope that those whose scruples should not be satisfied with the one, might acquiesce in the other. To obtain the first, the royal captive was assailed with promises and threats. Generally he abandoned himself to lamentation and despair; occasionally he exerted that spirit which he had formerly displayed. "Why am I thus guarded?" he asked one day. "Am I your king or your prisoner?" "You are my king, sir," replied the Duke with coolness; "but the262 council of your realm has thought proper to place a guard about you."

Richard II resigns the crown of England
to Henry, Duke of Lancaster,
son of John of Gaunt,
at London.
Richard II resigns the crown of England
to Henry, Duke of Lancaster,
son of John of Gaunt,
at London.

On the day before the meeting of parliament a deputation of prelates, barons, knights, and lawyers waited on the captive in the Tower, and reminded him that in the castle of Conway, while he was perfectly his own master, he had promised to resign the crown on account of his own incompetency to govern. On his reply that he was ready to perform his promise, a paper was given him to read, in which he was made to absolve all his subjects from their fealty and allegiance, to renounce of his own accord all kingly authority, to acknowledge himself incapable of reigning, and worthy for his past demerits to be deposed, and to swear by the holy Gospels that he would never act, nor, as far as in him lay, suffer any other person to act, in opposition to this resignation. He then added, as from himself, that if it were in his power to name his successor, he would choose his cousin of Lancaster, who was present, and to whom he gave his ring, which he took from his own finger.

Such is the account of this transaction inserted by the order of Henry in the rolls of parliament; an account the accuracy of which is liable to strong suspicion. It is difficult to believe that Richard had so much command over his feelings as to behave with that cheerfulness which is repeatedly noticed in the record; and the assertion that he had promised to resign the crown when he saw Northumberland in the castle of Conway, is not only contradictory to the statement of the two eye-witnesses, but also in itself highly improbable. From the fate of Edward II, with which he had so often been threatened, he must have known that it was better to flee to his transmarine dominions, which were still open to him, than to resign his crown and remain a prisoner in the custody of his successor.

The next day the two houses met amid a great concourse of people in Westminster hall. The Duke occupied his usual seat near the throne, which was empty and covered with cloth of gold. The resignation of the King was read; each member, standing in his place, signified his acceptance of it aloud; and the people with repeated shouts expressed their approbation. Henry now proceeded to the second part of his plan, the act of263 deposition. For this purpose the coronation oath was first read; thirty-three articles of impeachment followed, in which it was contended that Richard had violated that oath; and thence it was concluded that he had by his misconduct forfeited his title to the throne. Of the articles, those which bear the hardest on the King are: the part which he was supposed to have had in the death of the Duke of Gloucester, his revocation of the pardons formerly granted to that Prince and his adherents, and his despotic conduct since the dissolution of parliament. Of the remainder, some are frivolous; many might, with equal reason, have been objected to each of his predecessors; and the others rest on the unsupported assertion of men whose interest it was to paint him in the blackest colors.

No opposition had been anticipated, nor is any mentioned on the rolls; but we are told that the Bishop of Carlisle, to the astonishment of the Lancastrians, rose and demanded for Richard what ought not to be refused to the meanest criminal, the right of being confronted with his accusers; and for parliament what it might justly claim, the opportunity of learning from the King's own mouth whether the resignation of the crown, which had been attributed to him, were his own spontaneous act. If Merks actually made such a speech, he must have stood alone; no one was found to second it; the house voted the deposition of Richard; and eight commissioners, ascending a tribunal erected before the throne, pronounced him degraded from the state and authority of king, on the ground that he notoriously deserved such punishment, and had acknowledged it under his hand and seal on the preceding day. Sir William Thirnyng, chief justice, was appointed to notify the sentence to the captive, who meekly replied that he looked not after the royal authority, but hoped his cousin would be good lord to him.

The rightful possessor was now removed from the throne. But, supposing it to be vacant, what pretensions could Henry of Lancaster advance to it? By the law of succession it belonged to the descendants of Lionel, the third son of Edward III; and their claim, it is said, had been formally recognized in parliament. All waited in anxious suspense till the Duke, rising from his seat, and forming with great solemnity the sign264 of the cross on his forehead and breast, pronounced the following words: "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I, Henry of Lancaster, challenge this realm of England, and the crown, with all the members and appurtenances, as that I am descended by right line of blood, coming from the good lord King Henry III, and through that right that God, of his grace, hath sent me with help of my kin and of my friends to recover it; the which realm was in point to be undone for default of governance and undoing of good laws."

In these extraordinary terms did Lancaster advance his pretensions, artfully intermixing an undefined claim of inheritance73 with those of conquest and expediency, and rather hinting at each than insisting on either. But, however difficult it might be to understand the ground, the object of his challenge was perfectly intelligible. Both houses admitted it unanimously; and, as a confirmation, Henry produced the ring and seal which Richard had previously delivered to him. The Archbishop of Canterbury now took him by the hand, and led him to the throne. He knelt for a few minutes in prayer on the steps, arose, and was seated in it by the two archbishops. As soon as the acclamations had subsided, the Primate, stepping forward, made a short harangue, in which he undertook to prove that a monarch in the vigor of manhood was a blessing, a young and inexperienced prince was a curse to a people. At the conclusion the King rose. "Sirs," said he, "I thank God, and you, spiritual and temporal, and all estates of the land; and do you to wit, it is not my will that no man think that by way of conquest I would disinherit any man of his heritage, franchises, or other rights that him ought to have, nor put him out of that that he has and has had by the good laws and customs of the 265realm; except those persons that have been against the good purpose and the common profit of the realm."

With the authority of Richard had expired that of the parliament and of the royal officers. Henry immediately summoned the same parliament to meet again in six days, appointed new officers of the crown, and as soon as he had received their oaths retired in state to the royal apartments. Thus ended this eventful day, with the deposition of Richard of Bordeaux, and the succession of his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke.




A.D. 1402


The Canary Islands—the "Elysian Fields" and "Fortunate Islands" of antiquity—have perhaps figured in fabulous lore more extensively than any others, and have been discovered, invaded, and conquered more frequently than any country in the world. There has scarcely been a nation of any maritime enterprise that has not had to do with them, and in one manner or another made its appearance in them.

During the period following the death of ancient empires, the Canary Islands lay hidden in the general darkness which fell upon the world. With the modern revival came new and greater mariners, and the islands were once more discovered. It is well to note the connection between these modern rediscoveries and the origin of negro slavery.

In Europe the old pagan slavery existed in many nations, and in the early Christian centuries underwent many modifications through the advance of the new religion and civilization. The modern form of slavery began with the first importation of negroes into Europe, as shown in the following account, from which it appears that the history of modern slavery begins with the history of African discovery.

PETRARCH is referred to by Viera to prove that the Genoese sent out an expedition to the Canary Islands. Las Casas mentions that an English or French vessel bound from France or England to Spain was driven by contrary winds to these Islands, and on its return spread abroad in France an account of the voyage. The information thus obtained—or perhaps in other ways of which there is no record—stimulated Don Luis de la Cerda, Count of Clermont, great-grandson of Don Alonzo the Wise of Castile, to seek for the investiture of the crown of the Canaries, which was given to him with much pomp by Clement VI, at Avignon, in 1344, Petrarch being present. This sceptre proved a barren one. The affairs of France, with which state the new King of the Canaries was connected, drew off his attention;267 and he died without having visited his dominions. The next authentic information that we have of the Canary Islands is that, in the times of Don Juan I of Castile, and of Don Enrique, his son, these islands were much visited by the Spaniards. In 1399, we are told, certain Andalusians, Biscayans, Guipuzcoans, with the consent of Don Enrique, fitted out an expedition of five vessels, and making a descent on the island of Lanzarote, one of the Canaries, took captive the King and Queen, and one hundred and seventy of the islanders.

Hitherto there had been nothing but discoveries, rediscoveries, and invasions of these islands; but at last a colonist appears upon the scene. This was Juan de Béthencourt, a great Norman baron, lord of St. Martin le Gaillard in the County of Eu, of Béthencourt, of Granville, of Sancerre, and other places in Normandy, and chamberlain to Charles VI of France. Those who are at all familiar with the history of that period, and with the mean and cowardly barbarity which characterized the long-continued contests between the rival factions of Orleans and Burgundy, may well imagine that any Frenchman would then be very glad to find a career in some other country. Whatever was the motive of Juan de Béthencourt, he carried out his purpose in the most resolute manner. Leaving his young wife, and selling part of his estate, he embarked at Rochelle in 1402, with men and means for the purpose of conquering, and establishing himself in, the Canary Islands. It is not requisite to give a minute description of this expedition. Suffice it to say that Béthencourt met with fully the usual difficulties, distresses, treacheries, and disasters that attach themselves to this race of enterprising men. After his arrival at the Canaries, finding his means insufficient, he repaired to the court of Castile, did acts of homage to the King, Enrique III, and afterward renewed them to his son Juan II, thereby much strengthening the claim which the Spanish monarchs already made to the dominion of these islands. Béthencourt, returning to the islands with renewed resources, made himself master of the greater part of them, reduced several of the natives to slavery, introduced the Christian faith, built churches, and established vassalage.

On the occasion of quitting his colony in A.D. 1405, he called all his vassals together, and represented to them that he had268 named for his lieutenant and governor Maciot de Béthencourt, his relation; that he himself was going to Spain and to Rome to seek for a bishop for them; and he concluded his oration with these words: "My loved vassals, great or small, plebeians or nobles, if you have anything to ask me or to inform me of, if you find in my conduct anything to complain of, do not fear to speak; I desire to do favor and justice to all the world." The assembly he was addressing contained none of the slaves he had made. We are told, however, and that by eye-witnesses, that the poor natives themselves bitterly regretted his departure, and, wading through the water, followed his vessel as far as they could. After his visit to Spain and to Rome, he returned to his paternal domains in Normandy, where, while meditating another voyage to his colony, he died in 1425.

Maciot de Béthencourt ruled for some time successfully; but afterward, falling into disputes with the Bishop, and his affairs generally not prospering, he sold his rights to Prince Henry of Portugal—also, as it strangely appears, to another person—and afterward settled in Madeira. The claims to the government of the Canaries were, for many years, in a most entangled state; and the right to the sovereignty over these islands was a constant ground of dispute between the crowns of Spain and Portugal.

Thus ended the enterprise of Juan de Béthencourt, which, though it cannot be said to have led to any very large or lasting results, yet, as it was the first modern attempt of the kind, deserves to be chronicled before commencing with Prince Henry of Portugal's long-continued and connected efforts in the same direction. The events also which preceded and accompanied Béthencourt's enterprise need to be recorded, in order to show the part which many nations, especially the Spaniards, had in the first discoveries on the coast of Africa.

We now turn to the history of the discoveries made, or rather caused to be made, by Prince Henry of Portugal. This Prince was born in 1394. He was the third son of John I of Portugal and Philippa, the daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. That good Plantagenet blood on the mother's side was, doubtless, not without avail to a man whose life was to be spent in continuous and insatiate efforts to work out a great idea.269 Prince Henry was with his father at the memorable capture of Ceuta, the ancient Septem, in 1415. This town, which lies opposite to Gibraltar, was of great magnificence, and one of the principal marts in that age for the productions of the East. It was here that the Portuguese nation first planted a firm foot in Africa; and the date of this town's capture may, perhaps, be taken as that from which Prince Henry began to meditate further and far greater conquests. His aims, however, were directed to a point long beyond the range of the mere conquering soldier. He was especially learned, for that age of the world, being skilled in mathematical and geographical knowledge. And it may be noticed here that the greatest geographical discoveries have been made by men conversant with the book knowledge of their own time. A work, for instance, often seen in the hands of Columbus, which his son mentions as having had much influence with him, was the learned treatise of Cardinal Petro de Aliaco (Pierre d'Ailly), the Imago Mundi.

But to return to Prince Henry of Portugal. We learn that he had conversed much with those who had made voyages in different parts of the world, and particularly with Moors from Fez and Morocco, so that he came to hear of the Azeneghis, a people bordering on the country of the negroes of Jalof. Such was the scanty information of a positive kind which the Prince had to guide his endeavors. Then there were the suggestions and the inducements which to a willing mind were to be found in the shrewd conjectures of learned men, the fables of chivalry, and, perhaps, in the confused records of forgotten knowledge once possessed by Arabic geographers. The story of Prister John, which had spread over Europe since the crusades, was well known to the Portuguese Prince. A mysterious voyage of a certain wandering saint, called St. Brendan, was not without its influence upon an enthusiastic mind. Moreover, there were many sound motives urging the Prince to maritime discovery; among which, a desire to fathom the power of the Moors, a wish to find a new outlet for traffic, and a longing to spread the blessings of the faith may be enumerated. The especial reason which impelled Prince Henry to take the burden of discovery on himself was that neither mariner nor merchant would be likely to adopt an enterprise in which there was no clear hope of profit.270 It belonged, therefore, to great men and princes, and among such he knew of no one but himself who was inclined to it.

The map of the world being before us, let us reduce it to the proportions it filled in Prince Henry's time: let us look at our infant world. First, take away those two continents, for so we may almost call them, each much larger than a Europe, to the far west. Then cancel that square, massive-looking piece to the extreme southeast; happily there are no penal settlements there yet. Then turn to Africa: instead of that form of inverted cone which it presents, and which we now know there are physical reasons for its presenting, make a cimetar shape of it, by running a slightly curved line from Juba on the eastern side to Cape Nam on the western. Declare all below that line unknown. Hitherto, we have only been doing the work of destruction; but now scatter emblems of hippogriffs and anthropophagi on the outskirts of what is left in the map, obeying a maxim, not confined to the ancient geographers only—where you know nothing, place terrors. Looking at the map thus completed, we can hardly help thinking to ourselves, with a smile, what a small space, comparatively speaking, the known history of the world has been transacted in, up to the last four hundred years. The idea of the universality of the Roman dominions shrinks a little; and we begin to fancy that Ovid might have escaped his tyrant. The ascertained confines of the world were now, however, to be more than doubled in the course of one century; and to Prince Henry of Portugal, as to the first promoter of these vast discoveries, our attention must be directed.

This Prince, having once the well-grounded idea in his mind that Africa did not end where it was commonly supposed, namely, at Cape Nam (Not), but that there was a world beyond that forbidding negative, seems never to have rested until he had made known that quarter of the globe to his own. He fixed his abode upon the promontory of Sagres, at the southern part of Portugal, whence, for many a year, he could watch for the rising specks of white sail bringing back his captains to tell him of new countries and new men. We may wonder that he never went himself; but he may have thought that he served the cause better by remaining at home and forming a centre whence the electric energy of enterprise was communicated to many discoverers, and271 then again collected from them. Moreover, he was much engaged in the public affairs of his country. In the course of his life he was three times in Africa, carrying on war against the Moors; and at home, besides the care and trouble which the state of the Portuguese court and government must have given him, he was occupied in promoting science and encouraging education.

In 1415, as before noticed, he was at Ceuta. In 1418 he was settled on the promontory of Sagres. One night in that year he is thought to have had a dream of promise, for on the ensuing morning he suddenly ordered two vessels to be got ready forthwith, and to be placed under the command of two gentlemen of his household, Joham Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristam Vaz, whom he ordered to proceed down the Barbary coast on a voyage of discovery.

A contemporary chronicler, Azurara, whose work has recently been discovered and published, tells the story more simply, and merely states that these captains were young men, who, after the ending of the Ceuta campaign, were as eager for employment as the Prince for discovery; and that they were ordered on a voyage having for its object the general molestation of the Moors, as well as that of making discoveries beyond Cape Nam. The Portuguese mariners had a proverb about this cape—"He who would pass Cape Not, either will return or not"; intimating that, if he did not turn before passing the cape, he would never return at all. On the present occasion it was not destined to be passed; for these captains, Joham Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristam Vaz, were driven out of their course by storms, and accidentally discovered a little island, where they took refuge, and from that circumstance called the island Porto Santo. "They found there a race of people living in no settled polity, but not altogether barbarous or savage, and possessing a kindly and most fertile soil."

I give this description of the first land discovered by Prince Henry's captains, thinking it would well apply to many other lands about to be found out by his captains and by other discoverers. Joham Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristam Vaz returned. Their master was delighted with the news they brought him, more on account of its promise than its substance. In the same272 year he sent them out again, together with a third captain, named Bartholomew Perestrelo, assigning a ship to each captain. His object was not only to discover more lands, but also to improve those which had been discovered. He sent, therefore, various seeds and animals to Porto Santo. This seems to have been a man worthy to direct discovery. Unfortunately, however, among the animals some rabbits were introduced into the new island; and they conquered it, not for the Prince, but for themselves. Hereafter, we shall find that they gave his people much trouble, and caused no little reproach to him.

We come now to the year 1419. Perestrelo, for some unknown cause, returned to Portugal at that time. After his departure, Joham Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristam Vaz, seeing from Porto Santo something that seemed like a cloud, but yet different—the origin of so much discovery, noting the difference in the likeness—built two boats, and, making for this cloud, soon found themselves alongside a beautiful island, abounding in many things, but most of all in trees, on which account they gave it the name of "Madeira" (Wood). The two discoverers entered the island at different parts. The Prince, their master, afterward rewarded them with the captaincies of those parts. To Perestrelo he gave the island of Porto Santo to colonize it. Perestrelo, however, did not make much of his captaincy, but after a strenuous contest with the rabbits, having killed an army of them, died himself. This captain has a place in history as being the father-in-law of Columbus, who, indeed, lived at Porto Santo for some time, and here, on new-found land, meditated far bolder discoveries.

Joham Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristam Vaz began the cultivation of their island of Madeira, but met with an untoward event at first. In clearing the wood, they kindled a fire among it, which burned for seven years, we are told; and in the end, that which had given its name to the island, and which, in the words of the historian, overshadowed the whole land, became the most deficient commodity. The captains founded churches in the island; and the King of Portugal, Don Duarte, gave the temporalities to Prince Henry, and all the spiritualities to the Knights of Christ.

While these things were occurring at Madeira and at Porto273 Santo, Prince Henry had been prosecuting his general scheme of discovery, sending out two or three vessels each year, with orders to go down the coast from Cape Nam, and make what discoveries they could; but these did not amount to much, for the captains never advanced beyond Cape Bojador, which is situated seventy leagues to the south of Cape Nam. This Cape Bojador was formidable in itself, being terminated by a ridge of rocks with fierce currents running round them, but was much more formidable from the fancies which the mariners had formed of the sea and land beyond it. "It is clear," they were wont to say, "that beyond this cape there is no people whatever; the land is as bare as Libya—no water, no trees, no grass in it; the sea so shallow that at a league from the land it is only a fathom deep; the currents so fierce that the ship which passes that cape will never return;" and thus their theories were brought in to justify their fears. This outstretcher—for such is the meaning of the word bojador—was, therefore, as a bar drawn across that advance in maritime discovery which had for so long a time been the first object of Prince Henry's life.

The Prince had now been working at his discoveries for twelve years, with little approbation from the generality of persons; the discovery of these islands, Porto Santo and Madeira, serving to whet his appetite for further enterprise, but not winning the common voice in favor of prosecuting discoveries on the coast of Africa. The people at home, improving upon the reports of the sailors, said that "the land which the Prince sought after was merely some sandy place like the deserts of Libya; that princes had possessed the empires of the world, and yet had not undertaken such designs as his, nor shown such anxiety to find new kingdoms; that the men who arrived in those foreign parts—if they did arrive—turned from white into black men; that the King Don John, the Prince's father, had endowed foreigners with land in his kingdom, to break it up and cultivate it—a thing very different from taking the people out of Portugal, which had need of them, to bring them among savages to be eaten, and to place them upon lands of which the mother country had no need; that the Author of the world had provided these islands solely for the habitation of wild beasts, of which an additional proof was that those rabbits the discoverers themselves274 had introduced were now dispossessing them of the island.

There is much here of the usual captiousness to be found in the criticism of bystanders upon action, mixed with a great deal of false assertion and premature knowledge of the ways of Providence. Still, it were to be wished that most criticism upon action was as wise; for that part of the common talk which spoke of keeping their own population to bring out their own resources had a wisdom in it which the men of future centuries were yet to discover throughout the peninsula. Prince Henry, as may be seen by his perseverance up to this time, was not a man to have his purposes diverted by such criticism, much of which must have been, in his eyes, worthless and inconsequent in the extreme. Nevertheless, he had his own misgivings. His captains came back one after another with no good tidings of discovery, but with petty plunder gained, as they returned from incursions on the Moorish coast.

The Prince concealed from them his chagrin at the fruitless nature of their attempts, but probably did not feel it less on that account. He began to think: Was it for him to hope to discover that land which had been hidden from so many princes? Still, he felt within himself the incitement of "a virtuous obstinacy," which would not let him rest. Would it not, he thought, be ingratitude to God, who thus moved his mind to these attempts, if he were to desist from his work, or be negligent in it? He resolved, therefore, to send out again Gil Eannes, one of his household, who had been sent the year before, but had returned, like the rest, having discovered nothing. He had been driven to the Canary Islands, and had seized upon some of the natives there, whom he brought back. With this transaction the Prince had shown himself dissatisfied; and Gil Eannes, now intrusted again with command, resolved to meet all dangers rather than to disappoint the wishes of his master. Before his departure, the Prince called him aside and said: "You cannot meet with such peril that the hope of your reward shall not be much greater; and in truth, I wonder what imagination this is that you have all taken up—in a matter, too, of so little certainty; for if these things which are reported had any authority, however little, I would not blame you so much. But you quote to me the opinions275 of four mariners, who, as they were driven out of their way to Frandes or to some other ports to which they commonly navigated, had not, and could not have used, the needle and the chart; but do you go, however, and make your voyage without regard to their opinion,—and, by the grace of God, you will not bring out of it anything but honor and profit."

We may well imagine that these stirring words of the Prince must have confirmed Gil Eannes in his resolve to efface the stain of his former misadventure. And he succeeded in doing so; for he passed the dreaded Cape Bojador—a great event in the history of African discovery, and one that in that day was considered equal to a labor of Hercules. Gil Eannes returned to a grateful and most delighted master. He informed the Prince that he had landed, and that the soil appeared to him unworked and fruitful; and, like a prudent man, he could not tell of foreign plants, but had brought some of them home with him in a barrel of the new-found earth—plants much like those which bear in Portugal the roses of Santa Maria. The Prince rejoiced to see them, and gave thanks to God, "as if they had been the fruit and sign of the promised land; and besought Our Lady, whose name the plants bore, that she would guide and set forth the doings in this discovery to the praise and glory of God and to the increase of his holy faith."

After passing the Cape of Bojador there was a lull in Portuguese discovery, the period from 1434 to 1441 being spent in enterprises of very little distinctness or importance. Indeed, during the latter part of this period, the Prince was fully occupied with the affairs of Portugal. In 1437 he accompanied the unfortunate expedition to Tangier, in which his brother Ferdinand was taken prisoner, who afterward ended his days in slavery to the Moor. In 1438, King Duarte dying, the troubles of the regency occupied Prince Henry's attention. In 1441, however, there was a voyage which led to very important consequences. In that year Antonio Gonçalvez, master of the robes to Prince Henry, was sent out with a vessel to load it with skins of "sea-wolves," a number of them having been seen, during a former voyage, in the mouth of a river about fifty-four leagues beyond Cape Bojador. Gonçalvez resolved to signalize his voyage by a feat that should gratify his master more than the276 capture of sea-wolves; and he accordingly planned and executed successfully an expedition for capturing some Azeneghi Moors, in order, as he told his companions, to take home "some of the language of that country." Nuño Tristam, another of Prince Henry's captains, afterward falling in with Gonçalvez, a further capture of Moors was made, and Gonçalvez returned to Portugal with his spoil.

In the same year Prince Henry applied to Pope Martin V, praying that his holiness would grant to the Portuguese crown all that it could conquer, from Cape Bojador to the Indies, together with plenary indulgence for those who should die while engaged in such conquests. The Pope granted these requests. "And now," says a Portuguese historian, "with this apostolic grace, with the breath of royal favor, and already with the applause of the people, the Prince pursued his purpose with more courage and with greater outlay."

In 1442 the Moors whom Antonio Gonçalvez had captured in the previous year promised to give black slaves in ransom for themselves if he would take them back to their own country; and the Prince, approving of this, ordered Gonçalvez to set sail immediately, "insisting as the foundation of the matter, that if Gonçalvez should not be able to obtain so many negroes (as had been mentioned) in exchange for the three Moors, yet that he should take them; for whatever number he should get, he would gain souls, because the negroes might be converted to the faith, which could not be managed with the Moors." Gonçalvez obtained ten black slaves, some gold-dust, a target of buffalo-hide, and some ostrich eggs in exchange for two of the Moors, and, returning with his cargo, excited general wonderment on account of the color of the slaves. These, then, we may presume, were the first black slaves that had made their appearance in the peninsula since the extinction of the old slavery.

I am not ignorant that there are reasons for alleging that negroes had before this era been seized and carried to Seville. The Ecclesiastical and Secular Annals of that city, under the date 1474, record that negro slaves abounded there, and that the fifths levied on them produced considerable gains to the royal revenue; it is also mentioned that there had been traffic of this kind in the days of Don Enrique III, about 1399, but that it had277 since then fallen into the hands of the Portuguese. The chronicler states that the negroes of Seville were treated very kindly from the time of King Enrique, being allowed to keep their dances and festivals; and that one of them was named mayoral of the rest, who protected them against their masters and before the courts of law, and also settled their own private quarrels. There is a letter from Ferdinand and Isabella in the year 1474 to a celebrated negro, Juan de Valladolid, commonly called the "Negro Count," nominating him to this office of mayoral of the negroes, which runs thus: "For the many good, loyal, and signal services which you have done us, and do each day, and because we know your sufficiency, ability, and good disposition, we constitute you mayoral and judge of all the negroes and mulattoes, free or slaves, which are in the very loyal and noble city of Seville, and throughout the whole archbishopric thereof, and that the said negroes and mulattoes may not hold any festivals nor pleadings among themselves, except before you, Juan de Valladolid, negro, our judge and mayoral of the said negroes and mulattoes; and we command that you, and you only, should take cognizance of the disputes, pleadings, marriages, and other things which may take place among them, forasmuch as you are a person sufficient for that office, and deserving of your power, and you know the laws and ordinances which ought to be kept, and we are informed that you are of noble lineage among the said negroes."

But the above merely shows that in the year 1474 there were many negroes in Seville, and that laws and ordinances had been made about them. These negroes might all, however, have been imported into Seville since the Portuguese discoveries. True it is that in the times of Don Enrique III, and during Béthencourt's occupation of the Canary Islands, slaves from thence had been brought to France and Spain; but these islanders were not negroes, and it certainly may be doubted whether any negroes were imported into Seville previous to 1443.

Returning to the course of Portuguese affairs, a historian of that nation informs us that the gold obtained by Gonçalvez "awakened, as it always does, covetousness"; and there is no doubt that it proved an important stimulus to further discovery. The next year Nuño Tristam went farther down the African278 coast; and, off Adeget, one of the Arguim Islands, captured eighty natives, whom he brought to Portugal. These, however, were not negroes, but Azeneghis.

The tide of popular opinion was now not merely turned, but was rushing in full flow, in favor of Prince Henry and his discoveries. The discoverers were found to come back rich in slaves and other commodities; whereas it was remembered that, in former wars and undertakings, those who had been engaged in them had generally returned in great distress. Strangers, too, now came from afar, scenting the prey. A new mode of life, as the Portuguese said, had been found out; and "the greater part of the kingdom was moved with a sudden desire to follow this way to Guinea."

In 1444 a company was formed at Lagos, who received permission from the Prince to undertake discovery along the coast of Africa, paying him a certain portion of any gains which they might make. This has been considered as a company founded for carrying on the slave trade; but the evidence is by no means sufficient to show that its founders meant such to be its purpose. It might rather be compared to an expedition sent out, as we should say in modern times, with letters of marque, in which, however, the prizes chiefly hoped for were not ships nor merchandise, but men. The only thing of any moment, however, which the expedition accomplished was to attack successfully the inhabitants of the islands Nar and Tider, and to bring back about two hundred slaves. I grieve to say that there is no evidence of Prince Henry's putting a check to any of these proceedings; but, on the contrary, it appears that he rewarded with large honors Lançarote, one of the principal men of this expedition, and received his own fifth of the slaves. Yet I have scarcely a doubt that the words of the historian are substantially true—that discovery, not gain, was still the Prince's leading idea. We have an account from an eye-witness of the partition of the slaves brought back by Lançarote, which, as it is the first transaction of the kind on record, is worthy of notice, more especially as it may enable the reader to understand the motives of the Prince and of other men of those times. It is to be found in the Chronicle, before referred to, of Azurara. The merciful chronicler is smitten to the heart at the sorrow he witnesses, but279 still believes it to be for good, and that he must not let his mere earthly commiseration get the better of his piety.

"O thou heavenly Father," he exclaims, "who, with thy powerful hand, without movement of thy divine essence, governest all the infinite company of thy holy city, and who drawest together all the axles of the upper worlds, divided into nine spheres, moving the times of their long and short periods as it pleases thee! I implore thee that my tears may not condemn my conscience, for not its law, but our common humanity, constrains my humanity to lament piteously the sufferings of these people (slaves). And if the brute animals, with their mere bestial sentiments, by a natural instinct, recognize the misfortunes of their like, what must this by human nature do, seeing thus before my eyes this wretched company, remembering that I myself am of the generation of the sons of Adam! The other day, which was the eighth of August, very early in the morning, by reason of the heat, the mariners began to bring to their vessels, and, as they had been commanded, to draw forth those captives to take them out of the vessel: whom, placed together on that plain, it was a marvellous sight to behold; for among them there were some of a reasonable degree of whiteness, handsome and well made; others less white, resembling leopards in their color; others as black as Ethiopians, and so ill-formed, as well in their faces as their bodies, that it seemed to the beholders as if they saw the forms of a lower hemisphere.

"But what heart was that, how hard soever, which was not pierced with sorrow, seeing that company: for some had sunken cheeks, and their faces bathed in tears, looking at each other; others were groaning very dolorously, looking at the heights of the heavens, fixing their eyes upon them, crying out loudly, as if they were asking succor from the Father of nature; others struck their faces with their hands, throwing themselves on the earth; others made their lamentations in songs, according to the customs of their country, which, although we could not understand their language, we saw corresponded well to the height of their sorrow. But now, for the increase of their grief, came those who had the charge of the distribution, and they began to put them apart one from the other, in order to equalize the portions, wherefore it was necessary to part children and parents,280 husbands and wives, and brethren from each other. Neither in the partition of friends and relations was any law kept, only each fell where the lot took him. O powerful Fortune! who goest hither and thither with thy wheels, compassing the things of the world as it pleaseth thee, if thou canst, place before the eyes of this miserable nation some knowledge of the things that are to come after them, that they may receive some consolation in the midst of their great sadness! and you others who have the business of this partition, look with pity on such great misery, and consider how can those be parted whom you cannot disunite! Who will be able to make this partition without great difficulty? for while they were placing in one part the children that saw their parents in another, the children sprang up perseveringly and fled to them; the mothers enclosed their children in their arms and threw themselves with them on the ground, receiving wounds with little pity for their own flesh, so that their offspring might not be torn from them!

"And so, with labor and difficulty, they concluded the partition, for, besides the trouble they had with the captives, the plain was full of people, as well of the place as of the villages and neighborhood around, who in that day gave rest to their hands, the mainstay of their livelihood, only to see this novelty. And as they looked upon these things, some deploring, some reasoning upon them, they made such a riotous noise as greatly to disturb those who had the management of this distribution. The Infante was there upon a powerful horse, accompanied by his people, looking out his share, but as a man who for his part did not care for gain, for, of the forty-six souls which fell to his fifth, he speedily made his choice, as all his principal riches were in his contentment, considering with great delight the salvation of those souls which before were lost. And certainly his thought was not vain, for as soon as they had knowledge of our language they readily became Christians; and I, who have made this history in this volume, have seen in the town of Lagos young men and young women, the sons and grandsons of those very captives, born in this land, as good and as true Christians as if they had lineally descended, since the commencement of the law of Christ, from those who were first baptized."

The good Azurara wished that these captives might have281 some foresight of the things to happen after their death. I do not think, however, that it would have proved much consolation to them to have foreseen that they were almost the first of many millions to be dealt with as they had been; for, in this year 1444, Europe may be said to have made a distinct beginning in the slave trade, henceforth to spread on all sides, like the waves upon stirred water, and not, like them, to become fainter and fainter as the circles widen.

In 1445 an expedition was fitted out by Prince Henry himself, and the command given to Gonsalvo de Cintra, who was unsuccessful in an attack on the natives near Cape Blanco. He and some other of the principal men of the expedition lost their lives. These were the first Portuguese who died in battle on that coast. In the same year the Prince sent out three other vessels. The captains received orders from the Infante, Don Pedro, who was then Regent of Portugal, to enter the river D'Oro, and make all endeavors to convert the natives to the faith, and even, if they should not receive baptism, to make peace and alliance with them. This did not succeed. It is probable that the captains found negotiation of any kind exceedingly tame and apparently profitless in comparison with the pleasant forays made by their predecessors. The attempt, however, shows much intelligence and humanity on the part of those in power in Portugal. That the instructions were sincere is proved by the fact of this expedition returning with only one negro, gained in ransom, and a Moor who came of his own accord to see the Christian country.

This same year 1445 is signalized by a great event in the progress of discovery along the African coast. Dinis Dyaz, called by Barros and the historians who followed him Dinis Fernandez, sought employment from the Infante, and, being intrusted by him with the command of a vessel, pushed boldly down the coast, and passed the river Sanaga (Senegal), which divides the Azeneghis—whom the first discoverers always called Moors—from the negroes of Jalof. The inhabitants were much astonished at the presence of the Portuguese vessel on their coasts, and at first took it for a fish or a bird or a phantasm; but when in their rude boats—hollowed logs—they neared it, and saw that there were men in it, judiciously concluding that it was a282 more dangerous thing than fish or bird or phantasm, they fled. Dinis Fernandez, however, captured four of them off that coast, but as his object was discovery, not slave-hunting, he went on till he discovered Cape Verd, and then returned to his country, to be received with much honor and favor by Prince Henry. These four negroes taken by Dinis Fernandez were the first taken in their own country by the Portuguese. That the Prince was still engaged in high thoughts of discovery and conversion we may conclude from observing that he rewarded and honored Dinis Fernandez as much as if he had brought him large booty; for the Prince "thought little of whatever he could do for those who came to him with these signs and tokens of another greater hope which he entertained."

In this case, as in others, we should do great injustice if we supposed that Prince Henry had any of the pleasure of a slave-dealer in obtaining these negroes: it is far more probable that he valued them as persons capable of furnishing intelligence, and, perhaps, of becoming interpreters, for his future expeditions. Not that, without these especial motives, he would have thought it anything but great gain for a man to be made a slave, if it were the means of bringing him into communion with the Church.

After this, several expeditions, which did not lead to much, occupied the Prince's time till 1447. In that year a fleet, large for those times, of fourteen vessels, was fitted out at Lagos by the people there, and the command given by Prince Henry to Lançarote. The object seems to have been, from a speech that is recorded of Lançarote's, to make war upon the Azeneghi Moors, and especially to take revenge for the defeat before mentioned which Gonsalvo de Cintra suffered in 1445 near Cape Blanco. That purpose effected, Lançarote went southward, extending the discovery of the coast to the Gambia. In the course of his proceedings on that coast we find again that Prince Henry's instructions insisted much upon the maintenance of peace with the natives. Another instance of the same disposition on his part deserves to be especially recorded. The expedition had been received in a friendly manner at Gomera, one of the Canary Islands. Notwithstanding this kind reception, some of the natives were taken prisoners. On their being brought to283 Portugal, Prince Henry had them clothed and afterward set at liberty in the place from which they had been taken.

This expedition under Lançarote had no great result. The Portuguese went a little farther down the coast than they had ever been before, but they did not succeed in making friends of the natives, who had already been treated in a hostile manner by some Portuguese from Madeira. Neither did the expedition make great spoil of any kind. They had got into feuds with the natives, and were preparing to attack them, when a storm dissipated their fleet and caused them to return home.

It appears, I think, from the general course of proceedings of the Portuguese in those times, that they considered there was always war between them and the Azeneghi Moors—that is, in the territory from Ceuta as far as the Senegal River; but that they had no declared hostility against the negroes of Jalof, or of any country farther south, though skirmishes would be sure to happen from ill-understood attempts at friendship on the one side, and just or needless fears on the other.

The last public enterprise of which Prince Henry had the direction was worthy to close his administration of the affairs relating to Portuguese discovery. He caused two ambassadors to be despatched to the King of the Cape Verd territory, to treat of peace and to introduce the Christian faith. One of the ambassadors, a Danish gentleman, was treacherously killed by the natives, and upon that the other returned, having accomplished nothing.

Don Alfonso V, the nephew of Prince Henry, now took the reins of government, and the future expeditions along the coast of Africa proceeded in his name. Still it does not appear that Prince Henry ceased to have power and influence in the management of African affairs; and the first thing that the King did in them was to enact that no one should pass Cape Bojador without a license from Prince Henry. Some time between 1448 and 1454 a fortress was built in one of the islands of Arguim, which islands had already become a place of bargain for gold and negro slaves. This was the first Portuguese establishment on the coast of Africa. It seems that a system of trade was now established between the Portuguese and the negroes.



A.D. 1414


During the forty years of the second great schism in the Roman Catholic Church, 1378-1417, different parties adhered to different popes, of whom there were sometimes two or more simultaneously in office. The French cardinals preferred Avignon—to which the holy see had been removed in 1309—as the seat of the pope, the Italian cardinals preferred Rome, and two lines of popes were consequently chosen. This division proved extremely injurious to the papal power and authority.

Meanwhile there were various efforts for reform in the Church, among the most notable movements being those led by John Wycliffe in England and John Huss on the Continent. At last a council was called to decide who was the rightful claimant to the papal throne. The council assembled at Pisa, Italy, in 1409, but recognized neither of the then rival popes—Gregory XII and Benedict XIII—Alexander V being elected in their stead. The deposed popes, however, would not give up their rule, and so the action of the council added to the difficulty, since there were now three popes instead of two.

Alexander V died ten months after his election, and the cardinals chose as his successor Cardinal Cossa, who took the name of John XXIII. The Church remained as much divided as before. In 1412 Pope John, who was a shrewd and politic man, opened at Rome a council for the reformation of the Church, but there seems to have been little serious purpose either on the part of John himself or of the ecclesiastics who assembled; and practically nothing was done.

John was more concerned about his political relations with various sovereigns. He was at war with Ladislaus, King of Naples, who soon drove him from Rome. John fled to Florence, and appealed to Sigismund, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, for assistance. But the Emperor would aid him only on condition that the Pope should summon a new council to some German city, in order to end the schism. At last John issued a formal summons for a council to meet at Constance on November 1, 1414. Before it assembled, Ladislaus died, and Sigismund determined to conduct the council in the interest of his imperial dignity and that of the German kingship, which he also held.

THE Council of Constance, like that of Pisa, had two very obvious questions to consider: (1) The restoration of unity; and (2), if the reforming party could have its way, the reform of the Church in its head and members. But circumstances285 forced the council to consider a third question, which had never been even touched in the discussions at Pisa. This was reformation in its widest sense; not merely a constitutional change in the relations of pope and hierarchy, but a vital change in dogma and ritual. This question was brought to the front by the so-called Hussite movement in Bohemia. The fundamental issues involved were those which have been at the bottom of most subsequent disputes in the Christian Church.

How far was the Christianity of the day unlike the Christianity to be found in the record of Christ and his apostles? And the difference, if any, was it a real and necessary difference consequent on the development of society, or was it the result of abuses and innovations introduced by fallible men? The orthodox took their stand upon the unity and authority of the Church. The Church was the true foundation of Christ and the inheritor of his spirit. Therefore what the Church believed and taught, that alone was the true Christian doctrine; and the forms and ceremonies of the Church were the necessary aids to faith. The reformers, on the other hand, looked to Scripture for the fundamental rules of life and conduct. Any deviation from these rules, no matter on what authority, must be superfluous and might very probably be harmful.

The Council of Constance is one of the most notable assemblies in the history of the world. In the number and fame of its members, in the importance of its objects, and, above all, in the dramatic interest of its records, it has few rivals. It is like the meeting of two worlds, the old and the new, the mediæval and the modern. We find there represented views which have hardly yet been fully accepted, which have occupied the best minds of succeeding centuries; at the same time, the council itself and its ceremonial carry us back to the times of the Roman Empire, when church and state were scarcely yet dual, and when Christianity was coextensive with one united empire. At Constance all the ideas, religious and political, of the Middle Ages seem to be put upon their trial. If that trial had ended in condemnation, there could be no fitter point to mark the division between mediæval and modern history. But the verdict was acquittal, or at least a partial aquittal; and the old system was allowed, under modified conditions, a lease of life for another286 century. It must not be forgotten that there were great secular as well as ecclestiasical interests involved in the council. Princes and nobles were present as well as cardinals and prelates. The council may be regarded not only as a great assembly of the Church, but also as a great diet of the mediæval empire.

The man who had done more than anyone to procure the summons of the council, and whose interests were most closely bound up in its success, was Sigismund, King of the Romans and potential Emperor. He was eager to terminate the schism, and to bring about such a reform in the Church as would prevent the recurrence of similar scandals. But his motive in this was not merely disinterested devotion to the interests of the Church. He wished to revive the prestige of the Holy Roman Empire, and to gratify his own personal vanity by posing as the secular head of Christendom and the arbiter of its disputes. More especially he wished to restore the authority of the monarchy in Germany, and to put an end to that anarchic independence of the princes of which the recent schism was both the illustration and the result.

In pursuing this aim he was confronted by the champions of "liberty" and princely interests, who were represented at Constance by the Archbishop of Mainz and Frederick of Hapsburg, Count of Tyrol. The Archbishop, John of Nassau, had been prominent in effecting and prolonging the schism in the Empire. He was a firm supporter of John XXIII, and had no interest in attending the council except to thwart the designs of the King, whom he had been the last to accept. Frederick of Tyrol was the youngest son of that duke Leopold who had fallen at Sempach in the war with the Swiss. Of his father's possessions Frederick had inherited Tyrol and the Swabian lands, and the propinquity of his territories made him a powerful personage at Constance. His family was the chief rival of the house of Luxemburg for ascendency in Eastern Germany, and he himself seems to have cherished a personal grudge against Sigismund. To these enemies Sigismund could oppose two loyal allies, the elector palatine Lewis, who had completely abandoned the anti-Luxemburg policy pursued by his father, Rupert, and Frederick of Hohenzollern, the most prominent representative of national sentiment in Germany, who had already given in Brandenburg287 an example of that restoration of order which he wished Sigismund to effect throughout his dominions.

Of the clerical members of the council the most prominent at the commencement was the pope John XXIII. He had been forced by his difficulties in Italy to issue the summons, but as the time for the meeting approached he felt more and more misgiving. His object was to maintain himself in office; but he was conscious that neither Sigismund nor the cardinals would hesitate to throw him over if he stood in the way of the restoration of unity. He therefore allied himself with Sigismund's opponents, the Elector of Mainz and Frederick of Tyrol, and spared no pains to bring about dissension between Sigismund and the council.

The assembled clergy may be divided roughly into two parties, the reformers, and the conservative or ultramontane party. The reformers were not in favor of any radical change in the Church. They were, if anything, more vehemently opposed than their antagonists to the doctrines of Wycliffe and Huss. Such reform as they desired was aristocratic rather than democratic. They had no intention of weakening the authority of the Church; but within the Church they desired to remove gross abuses, and to strengthen the hierarchy as against the papacy. Their chief contention was that a general council has supreme authority, even over the pope, and they wished such councils to meet at regular intervals. By this means papal absolutism would be limited by a sort of oligarchical parliament within the Church. The conservatives, on the other hand, consisting chiefly of the cardinals and Italian prelates, had no wish to alter a system under which they enjoyed material advantages. Their object, as it had been at Pisa, was to restore the union of the Church, but to defeat, or at any rate postpone, any schemes of reform.

The council was opened on November 5th, but the meeting was only formal, and no real business was transacted for a month. Meanwhile Huss had been followed to Constance by the representatives of the-orthodox party in Bohemia, who brought a formidable list of charges against the reformer. John XXIII at once saw in this an opportunity for embroiling the council with Sigismund. Adroitly keeping himself in the background,288 he allowed the cardinals to take the lead in the matter. They summoned Huss to appear before them, and in spite of his protest that he was only answerable to the whole council, they committed him to prison. The news that his safe-conduct had been so insultingly disregarded reached Sigismund as he was starting for Constance after the coronation ceremony at Aachen.

He arrived on Christmas Day, and at once demanded that Huss should be released. The Pope excused himself, and threw the blame on the cardinals. To the King's right to protect his subject the cardinals opposed their duty to suppress heresy. In high dudgeon, Sigismund declared that he would leave the council to its fate, and actually set out on his return journey. The Pope was jubilant at the success of his wiles. But Sigismund's friends, and especially Frederick of Hohenzollern, urged him not to sacrifice the interests of Germany and of Christendom for the sake of a heretic. This advice, and the feeling that his personal reputation was staked on the success of the council, triumphed. Sigismund returned to Constance, and Huss remained a prisoner. From this moment John XXIII began to despair.

The Pope's position became worse when the council, copying the procedure of the universities, began to discuss matters, not in a general assembly, but each nation separately. This deprived John of the advantage which he hoped to gain from the numerical majority of Italian prelates attending the council. Four nations organized themselves: Italians, French, Germans, and English. Over the last three John XXIII had no hold whatever. To his disgust they treated him, not as the legitimate pope, whose authority was to be vindicated against his rivals, but as one of three schismatic popes, whose retirement was a necessary condition of the restoration of unity. When he tried to evade their demand, they brought unanswerable charges against his personal character and threatened to depose him.

He tried to disarm hostility by declaring his readiness to resign if the other popes would do the same. His promise was welcomed with enthusiasm, but neither Sigismund nor his supporters were softened by it. In spite of the vehement protests of the Elector of Mainz that he would obey no pope but John XXIII, the proposal was made to proceed to a new election.289 John had to fall back upon his last expedient. If he departed from Constance he might throw the council into fatal confusion; at the worst he could maintain himself as an antipope, as Gregory and Benedict had done against the Council of Pisa. His ally Frederick of Tyrol was prepared to assist him. Frederick arranged a tournament outside the walls; and while this absorbed public interest, the Pope escaped from Constance in the disguise of a groom, and made his way to Schaffhausen, a strong castle of the Hapsburg Count.

For the moment John XXIII seemed not unlikely to gain his end. Constance was thrown into confusion by the news of his flight. The mob rushed to pillage the papal residence. The Italian and Austrian prelates prepared to leave the city, and the council was on the verge of dissolution. But Sigismund's zeal and energy succeeded in averting such a disaster. He restored order in the city, persuaded the prelates to remain, and took prompt measures to punish his rebellious vassal. An armed force under Frederick of Hohenzollern succeeded in capturing not only John XXIII, but also Frederick of Tyrol. The latter was compelled to undergo public humiliation, and to hand over his territories to his suzerain on condition that his life should be spared. No such exercise of imperial power had been witnessed in Germany since the days of the Hohenstaufen, and Sigismund chose this auspicious moment to secure a powerful supporter within the electoral college by handing over the electorate of Brandenburg to Frederick of Nuremberg, April 30, 1415. He thus established a dynasty which was destined to play a great part in German history, and ultimately to create a new German empire.

The unsuccessful flight of John XXIII not only enabled Sigismund to assume a more authoritative position in the council and in Germany; it also sealed his own fate. The council had no longer any hesitation in proceeding to the formal deposition of the Pope May 29, 1415. As the two popes who had been deposed at Pisa had never been recognized at Constance, the Church was now without a head. But instead of hastening to fill the vacancy, the council turned aside to the suppression of heresy and the trial of Huss. On three occasions, the 5th, 7th, and 8th of June, Huss was heard before a general session. No290 point in his teaching excited greater animadversion than his contention that a priest, whether pope or prelate, forfeited his office by the commission of mortal sin. With great cunning his accusers drew him on to extend this doctrine to temporal princes. This was enough to complete the alienation of Sigismund, and after the third day's trial he was the first to pronounce in favor of condemnation. The last obstacle in the way of the prosecution was thus removed, and Huss was burned in a meadow outside the city walls on July 6, 1415.

With the death of Huss ends the first and most eventful period of the Council of Constance. Within these seven or eight months Sigismund and the reforming party, thanks to the division of the council into nations, seemed to have gained a signal success. Sigismund had purchased his triumph by breaking his pledge to Huss, and for this he was to pay a heavy penalty in the subsequent disturbances in Bohemia. But for the moment these were not foreseen, and Sigismund was jubilantly eager to prosecute his scheme. Warned by the experience of its predecessor at Pisa, the Council of Constance was careful not to put too much trust in paper decrees. John XXIII was not only deposed, but a prisoner. Gregory XII had given a conditional promise of resignation, and had so few supporters as to be of slight importance. But Benedict XIII was still strong in the allegiance of the Spanish kingdoms, and unless they could be detached from his cause there was little prospect of ending the schism.

This task Sigismund volunteered to undertake, and he also proposed to avert the impending war between England and France, to reconcile the Burgundian and Armagnac parties in the latter country, and to negotiate peace between the King of Poland and the Teutonic Knights. It would, indeed, be a revival of the imperial idea if its representative could thus act as a general mediator in European quarrels. The council welcomed the offer with enthusiasm, and showed their loyalty to Sigismund by deciding to postpone all important questions till his return. And this decision was actually adhered to. During the sixteen months of Sigismund's absence—July 15, 1415, to January 27, 1417—only two prominent subjects were considered by the council. One was the trial of Jerome of291 Prague, which was a mere corollary of that of Huss, and ended in a similar sentence. The other was the thorny question raised by the proposed condemnation of the writings of Jean Petit, a Burgundian partisan who had defended the murder of the Duke of Orleans. The leader of the attack upon Jean Petit was Gerson, the learned and eloquent chancellor of the University of Paris. But so completely had the matter become a party question, and so great was the influence of the Duke of Burgundy, that the council could not be induced to go further than a general condemnation of the doctrine of lawful tyrannicide; and Gerson's activity in the matter provoked such ill-will that after the close of the council he could not venture to return to France, which was then completely under Burgundian and English domination.

It is impossible to narrate here the story of Sigismund's journey, though it abounds with illustrations of his impulsive character and of the attitude of the western states toward the imperial pretensions. It furnished conclusive proofs, if any were needed, that however the council, for its own ends, might welcome the authority of a secular head, national sentiment was far too strongly developed to give any chance of success to a projected revival of the mediæval empire. As regards his immediate object, Sigismund was able to achieve some results. He failed to induce Benedict XIII to abdicate, but the quibbles of the veteran intriguer exhausted the patience of his supporters, and at a conference at Narbonne the Spanish kings agreed to desert him and to adhere to the Council of Constance, December, 1415. But Sigismund's more ambitious schemes came to nothing. So far from preventing a war between England and France, he only forwarded an alliance between Henry V and the Duke of Burgundy; and though he may have done this in the hope of forcing peace upon France, the result was to make the war more disastrous and prolonged.

When Sigismund reappeared in Constance, January 27, 1417, he found that the state of affairs both in Germany and in the council had altered for the worse. Frederick of Tyrol had returned to his dominions and had been welcomed by his subjects.

The Archbishop of Mainz had renewed his intrigues, and an292 attempt had even been made to release John XXIII. With the Elector Palatine, formerly his loyal supporter, Sigismund had quarrelled on money matters, and it seemed possible that the four Rhenish electors would form a league against Sigismund as they had done against Wenceslaus in 1400. Still more galling was his loss of influence in the council. The adhesion of the Spanish kingdoms had been followed by the arrival of Spanish prelates, who formed a fifth nation and strengthened the party opposed to reform. The war between England and France had created a quarrel between the two nations at Constance, and the French deserted the cause they had once championed rather than vote with their enemies.

Sigismund could only rely upon the English and the Germans; and the question which agitated the council was one of vital importance. Which was to come first, the election of a new pope or the adoption of a scheme of ecclesiastical reform? The conservatives contended that the Church could hardly be said to exist without its head; that no reform would be valid until the normal constitution of the Church was restored. On the other hand, it was urged that no reform was possible unless the supremacy of a general council was fully recognized; that certain questions could be more easily discussed and settled during a vacancy; that if the reforms were agreed upon, a new pope could be pledged to accept them, whereas a pope elected at once could prevent all reform. Party spirit ran extremely high, and it seemed almost impossible to effect an agreement. Sigismund was openly denounced as a heretic, while he in turn threatened to imprison the cardinals for contumacy.

But gradually the balance turned against the reformers. Some of the leading German bishops were bribed to change their votes. The head of the English representatives, Robert Hallam, Bishop of Salisbury, died at the critical moment, and the influence of Henry Beaufort, the future cardinal, induced the English nation to support an immediate election. It was agreed that a new pope should be chosen at once, and that the council should then proceed to the work of reform. But the only preliminary concession that Sigismund and his party could obtain was the issue of a decree in October, 1417, that another council should meet within five years, a second within seven years,293 and that afterward a council should be regularly held every ten years.

For the new election it was decided that the twenty-three cardinals should be joined by thirty delegates of the council, six from each nation. The conclave met on November 8th, and three days later their choice fell upon Cardinal Oddo Colonna, who took the name of Martin V. Even the defeated party could not refrain from sharing in the general enthusiasm at the restoration of unity after forty years of schism. But their fears as to the ultimate fate of the cause of reform were fully justified. Soon after his election Martin declared that it was impious to appeal to a council against a papal decision. Such a declaration, as Gerson said, nullified the acts of the councils of Pisa and Constance, including the election of the Pope himself. In their indignation the members made a strong appeal to the Pope to fulfil the conditions agreed upon before his election. But Martin had a weapon to hand which had been furnished by the council itself.

It was the division into nations that had led to the fall of John XXIII, and it was the same division into nations that had ruined the prospects of reform. The Pope now drew up a few scanty articles of reform, which he offered as separate concordats to the French, Germans, and English. It was a dangerous expedient for a pope to adopt, because it seemed to imply the separate existence of national churches; but it answered its immediate purpose. Martin could contend that there was no longer any work for the council to do, and he dissolved it in May, 1418.

He set out for Italy, where a difficult task awaited him. Papal authority in Rome had ceased with the flight of John XXIII in 1414. Sigismund offered the Pope a residence in some Germany city, but Martin wisely refused. The support of his own family, the Colonnas, enabled him to reënter Rome in 1421. By that time almost all traces of the schism had disappeared. Gregory XII was dead; John XXIII had recently died in Florence; Benedict XIII still held out in his fortress of Peniscola, but was impotent in his isolation.




A.D. 1415


Among the heralds of the Reformation, John Wycliffe, the English Protestant who antedated Protestantism by a century and a half, holds the first position in order of time. For many years after the death of Wycliffe the movement which he began continued to be, as it was at first, confined to England; but at length it was to acquire a wider significance and to enter upon its European extension.

Not long after his own day the spirit of Wycliffe—even before knowledge of his work had crossed the Channel—had come to a new birth on the Continent. And when some sparks of Wycliffe's own fire were blown over the half of Europe—even as far as Bohemia—the kindred fires which had long burned in spite of all suppression were quickened into a living and a spreading flame.

While then there was a direct and vital influence from the work of the English reformer which gave to his teachings partial identity with those of his Bohemian successors, the movement led by these was still quite independent and national.

The central figure of the Bohemian Reformation was John Huss, or Hus, the son of a peasant. He was born in 1369 at Husinetz—of which his own name is a contraction—in Southern Bohemia. The principal events of his life, from the time that he took his degree at the University of Prague until his death at the stake, July 6, 1415, will be found in Trench's sympathetic but discriminating narrative.

IF we look for the proper forerunners of Huss, his true spiritual ancestors, we shall find them in his own land, in a succession of earnest and faithful preachers—among these Militz (d. 1374) and Janow (d. 1394) stand out the most prominently—who had sown seed which could hardly have failed to bear fruit sooner or later, though no line of Wycliffe's writings had ever found its way to Bohemia. This land, not German, however it may have been early drawn into the circle of German interests, with a population Slavonic in the main, had first received the faith through the preaching of Greek monks. The Bohemian Church295 probably owed to this fact that, though incorporated from the first with the churches of the West, uses and customs prevailed in it—as the preaching in the mother tongue, the marriage of the clergy, communion in both kinds—which it only slowly and unwillingly relinquished. It was not till the fourteenth century that its lines were drawn throughout in exact conformity with those of Rome. All this deserves to be kept in mind; for it helps to account for the kindly reception which the seed sown by the later Bohemian reformers found, falling as this did in a soil to which it was not altogether strange.

John Huss took in the year 1394 his degree as bachelor of theology in that University of Prague upon the fortunes of which he was destined to exercise so lasting an influence; and four years later, in 1398, he began to deliver lectures there. Huss had early taken his degree in a school higher than any school of man's. He himself has told us how he was once careless and disobedient, how the word of the Cross had taken hold of him with strength, and penetrated him through and through as with a mighty purifying fire. What he had learned in the school of Christ he could not keep to himself. Holding, in addition to his academical position, a lectureship founded by two pious laymen for the preaching of the Word in the Bohemian tongue (1401), he soon signalized himself by his diligence in breaking the bread of life to hungering souls, and his boldness in rebuking vice in high places as in low. So long as he confined himself to reproving the sins of the laity, he found little opposition, nay, rather support and applause. But when he brought the clergy and monks also within the circle of his condemnation, and began to upbraid them for their covetousness, their ambition, their luxury, their sloth, and for other vices, they turned resentfully upon him, and sought to undermine his authority, everywhere spreading reports of the unsoundness of his teaching.

Let us see on what side he mainly exposed himself to charges such as these. Many things had recently wrought together to bring into nearness countries geographically so remote from one another as Bohemia and England. Anne, wife of our second Richard, was a sister of Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia. The two flourishing universities of Oxford and Prague were bound together by their common zeal for Realism. This may seem296 to us but a slight and fantastic bond; it was in those days a very strong one indeed. Young English scholars studied at Prague, young Bohemian at Oxford. Now, Oxford, long after Wycliffe's death, was full of interest for his doctrine; and among the many strangers sojourning there, it could hardly fail that some should imbibe opinions and bring back with them books of one whom they had there learned to know and to honor. Thus Jerome, called of Prague, on his return from the English university, gave a new impulse to the study of Wycliffe's writings, bearer as he was of several among these which had not hitherto travelled so far.

This man, whose fortunes were so tragically bound up with those of Huss, who should share with him in the same fiery doom, was his junior by several years; his superior in eloquence, in talents, in gifts—for certainly Huss was not a theologian of the first order; speculative theologian he was not at all—but notably his inferior in moderation and practical good-sense. Huss never shared in his friend's indiscriminate admiration of Wycliffe. When, in 1403, some forty-five theses, which either were or professed to be drawn from the writings of the English reformer, were brought before the university, that they might be condemned as heretical, Huss expressed himself with extreme caution and reserve. Many of these, he affirmed, were true when a man took them aright; but he could not say this of all. Not first at the Council of Constance, but long before, he had refused to undertake the responsibility of Wycliffe's teaching on the holy eucharist. But he did not conceal what he had learned from Wycliffe's writings. By these there had been opened to him a deeper glimpse into the corruptions of the Church, and its need of reformation in the head and in the members, than ever he had before obtained. His preaching, with the new accesses of insight which now were his, more than ever exasperated his foes.

While matters were in this strained condition, events took place at Prague which are too closely connected with the story that we are telling, exercised too great an influence in bringing about the issues that lie before us, to allow us to pass them by, even though they may prove somewhat long to relate. The University of Prague, though recently founded—it only dated297 back to the year 1348—was now, next after those of Paris and Oxford, the most illustrious in Europe. Saying this I say much; for we must not measure the influence and authority of a university at that day by the influence and authority, great as these are, which it may now possess. This university, like that of Paris, on the pattern of which it had been modelled, was divided into four "nations"—four groups, that is, or families of scholars—each of these having in academical affairs a single collective vote. These nations were the Bavarian, the Saxon, the Polish, and the Bohemian. This does not appear at first an unfair division—two German and two Slavonic; but in practical working the Polish was so largely recruited from Silesia and other German or half-German lands that its vote was in fact German also.

The Teutonic votes were thus as three to one, and the Bohemians, in their own land and in their own university, on every important matter hopelessly outvoted. When, by aid of this preponderance, the university was made to condemn the teaching of Wycliffe in those forty-five points, matters came to a crisis. Urged by Huss—who as a stout patriot, and an earnest lover of the Bohemian language and literature, had more than a theological interest in the matter—by Jerome, by a large number of the Bohemian nobility, King Wenceslaus published an edict whereby the relations of natives and foreigners were completely reversed. There should be henceforth three votes for the Bohemian nation, and only one for the three others. Such a shifting of the weight certainly appears as a redressing of one inequality by creating another. At all events it was so earnestly resented by the Germans, by professors and students alike, that they quitted the university in a body, some say of five thousand and some of thirty thousand, and founded the rival University of Leipsic, leaving no more than two thousand students at Prague. Full of indignation against Huss, whom they regarded as the prime author of this affront and wrong, they spread throughout Germany the most unfavorable reports of him and of his teaching.

This exodus of the foreigners had left Huss, who was now rector of the university, with a freer field than before. But church matters at Prague did not mend; they became more298 confused and threatening every day, until presently Huss stood in open opposition with the hierarchy of his time. Pope John XXIII, having a quarrel with the King of Naples, proclaimed a crusade against him, with what had become a constant accompaniment of this—indulgences to the crusaders. But to denounce indulgences, as Huss with fierce indignation did now, was to wound Pope John in a most sensitive part. He was excommunicated at once, and every place which should harbor him stricken with an interdict. While matters were in this frame the Council of Constance was opened, which should appease all the troubles of Christendom and correct whatever was amiss. The Bohemian difficulty could not be omitted, and Huss was summoned to make answer at Constance for himself.

He had not been there four weeks when he was required to appear before the Pope and cardinals, November 18, 1414. After a brief informal hearing he was committed to harsh durance, from which he never issued as a free man again. Sigismund, the German King and Emperor-elect, who had furnished Huss with a safe-conduct which should protect him, "going to the Council, tarrying at the Council, returning from the Council," was absent from Constance at the time, and heard with real displeasure how lightly regarded this promise and pledge of his had been.

Some big words, too, he spoke, threatening to come himself and release the prisoner by force; but, being waited on by a deputation from the council, who represented to him that he, as a layman, in giving such a safe-conduct had exceeded his powers, and intruded into a region which was not his, Sigismund was convinced, or affected to be convinced. Doubtless the temptations to be convinced were strong. Had he insisted on the liberation of Huss, the danger was imminent that the council, for which he had labored so earnestly, would be broken up on the plea that its rightful freedom was denied it. He did not choose to run this risk, preferring to leave an everlasting blot upon his name.

Some modern sophists assure us that this safe-conduct—or free pass, as they prefer to call it—engaged the imperial word for Huss' safety in going to the council, but for nothing more—a most perfidious document, if this is all which it undertook;299 for the words—I quote the more important of them in the original Latin—are as follows: "ut ei transire, stare, morari, redire permittatis." But the treachery was not in the document, and nobody at the time attempted to find it there. If this had not engaged the honor of the Emperor, what cause of complaint would he have had against the cardinals as having entangled him in a breach of his word? what need of their solemn ambassage to him? Untrue also is the assertion that this was so little regarded by Huss himself as a safe-conduct covering the whole period during which he should be exposed to the malice of his enemies that he never appealed to it or claimed protection from it. He did so appeal at this second formal hearing, June 7th, the first at which Sigismund was present. "I am here," he there said, "under the King's promise that I should return to Bohemia in safety"; while at his last, by a look and by a few like words, he brought the royal word-breaker to a blush, evident to all present, July 6th.

But to return a little. More than seven months elapsed before Huss could obtain a hearing before the council. This was granted to him at last. Thrice heard, June 5, 7, 8, 1415—if, indeed, such tumultuary sittings, where the man speaking for his life, and for much more than his life, was continually interrupted and overborne by hostile voices, by loud cries of "Recant, recant!" may be reckoned as hearings at all—he bore himself, by the confession of all, with courage, meekness, and dignity. The charges brought against him were various; some so far-fetched as that urged by a Nominalist from the University of Paris—for Paris was Nominalist now—namely, that as a Realist he could not be sound on the doctrine of the eucharist. Others were vague enough, as that he had sown discord between the church and the state. Nor were accusations wanting which touched a really weak point in his teaching, namely, the subjective aspect which undoubtedly some aspects of it wore; as when he taught that not the baptized, but the predestinated to life, constituted the Church. Beset as he was by the most accomplished theologians of the age, the best or the worst advantage was sure to be made of any vulnerable side which he exposed.

But there were charges against him with more in them of300 danger than these. The point which was really at issue between him and his adversaries concerned the relative authority of the Church and of Scripture. What they demanded of him was a retractation of all the articles brought against him, with an unconditional submission to the council. Some of the articles, he replied, charged him with teaching things which he had never taught, and he could not by this formal act of retractation admit that he had taught them. Let any doctrine of his be shown to be contrary to God's holy Word, and he would retract it; but such unconditional submission he could not yield.

His fate was now sealed—that is, unless he could be induced to recant; in which event, though he did not know it, his sentence would have been degradation from the priesthood and a lifelong imprisonment. Many efforts up to the last moment were made by friend and foe to persuade him to this, but in vain. And now once more, July 6th, he is brought before the council, but this time for sentence and for doom. The sentence passed, his suffering begins. The long list of his heresies, among which they are not ashamed to include many which he has distinctly repudiated, is read out in his hearing. He is clothed with priestly garments, that these, piece by piece, and each with an appropriate insult malediction, may be stripped from him again. The sacred vessels are placed in his hands, that from him, "accursed Judas that he is," they may be taken again. There is some difficulty in erasing his tonsure; but this difficulty with a little violence and cruelty is overcome. A tall paper cap, painted over with flames and devils, and inscribed "Heresiarch," is placed upon his head. This done, and his soul having been duly delivered to Satan, his body is surrendered to the secular arm. One last touch is not wanting. As men bind him to the stake, attention is called to the fact that his face is turned to the east. This honor must not be his, upon whom no sun of righteousness shall ever rise. He is unfastened, and refastened anew. All is borne with perfect meekness, in the thought and in the strength of Him who had borne so much more for sinners, the Just for the unjust; and so, in his fire-chariot of a painful martyrdom, Huss passes from our sight.

Some may wonder that he, a reformer, should have been so treated by a council, itself also reforming, and with a man like301 Gerson—Doctor Christianissimus was the title he bore—virtually at its head. But a little consideration will dispel this surprise, and lead us to the conclusion that a council less earnestly bent on reforms of its own would probably have dealt more mildly with him. His position and theirs, however we may ascribe alike to him and to them a desire to reform the Church, were fundamentally different. They, when they deposed a pope, where they proclaimed the general superiority of councils over popes, had no intention of diminishing one jot the Church's authority in matters of faith, but only of changing the seat of that authority, substituting an ecclesiastical aristocracy for an ecclesiastical monarchy—or despotism, as long since it had grown to be. And thus the more earnest the council was to carry out a reformation in discipline, the more eager was it also to make evident to all the world that it did not intend to touch doctrine, but would uphold this as it had received it. It is not then uncharitable to suspect that the leading men of the council—like those reformers at Geneva who a century and a half later, 1553, sent Servetus to the stake—were not sorry to be able to give so signal an evidence of their zeal for the maintenance of the faith which they had received, as thus, in the condemnation of Huss, they had the opportunity of doing. Nor may we leave altogether out of account that the German element must of necessity have been strong in a council held on the shores of the Bodensee; while in his vindication of Bohemian nationality, perhaps an excessive vindication, Huss had offended and embittered the Germans to the uttermost.

If any had flattered themselves that with the death of Huss the Reformation in Bohemia had also received its death-blow, they had not long to wait for a painful undeception. Words fail to describe the tempest of passionate indignation with which the tidings of his execution, followed within a year by that of Jerome, were received there. Both were honored as martyrs, and already, in the fierce exasperation of men's spirits against the authors of their doom, there was a prophecy of the unutterable woes which were even at the door. Some watchword by which his followers could know and be known—this watchword, if possible, a spell of power like that which Luther had found in the doctrine of justification by faith—was still wanting. One,302 however, was soon found; which indeed had this drawback, that it concerned a matter disciplinary rather than doctrinal, yet having a real value as a visible witness for the rights of the laity in the Church of Christ. So far as we know, Huss had not himself laid any special stress on communion under both kinds; but in 1414—he was then already at Constance—the subject had come to the forefront at Prague; and, being consulted, Huss had entirely approved of such communion as most conformable to the original institution and to the practice of the primitive Church. On the other hand, the council, learning the agitation of men's spirits in this direction, had declared what is called the "Concomitance"—that is, that wherever one kind was present, there was also the other, which being so, nothing was, indeed, withholden from the communicant through the withholding of the cup. At the same time the council had solemnly condemned as a heretic everyone who refused to submit himself to the decision of the Church in this matter, June 15, 1415.

But there was no temper of submission in Bohemia—least of all when the University of Prague gave its voice in favor of this demand. Wenceslaus, the well-intentioned but poor-spirited King, was quite unable to keep peace between the rival factions, and could only slip out of his difficulties by dying, August 16, 1419. Sigismund, his brother, was also his successor; but of one thing the Bohemians were at this time resolved; namely, that the royal betrayer of his word should not reign over them. And thus a condition of miserable anarchy followed, and, in the end, of open war; which, lasting for eleven years, could be matched by few wars in the cruelties and atrocities by which on both sides it was disgraced. In Ziska, their blind chief, the Hussites had a leader with a born genius for war. It was he who invented the movable wagon-fortress whereof we hear so much, against which the German chivalry would break as idle waves upon a rock. Three times crusading armies—for this name they bore, thinking with no serious opposition to enforce the decrees of the council—invaded Bohemia, to be thrice driven back with utter defeat, disgrace, and loss; the Hussites, who for a long while were content with merely repelling the invaders, after a while, and as the only way of conquering303 a peace, turning the tables, and wasting with fire and sword all neighboring German lands.

A conflict so hideous could not long be waged without a rapid deterioration of all who were engaged in it. The spirit of Huss more and more departed from those who called themselves by his name. Intestine strifes devoured their strength. There were first the Moderates—Calixtines, Utraquists, or "Those of Prague," they were called—who, weary of the long struggle, were willing to return to the bosom of the Church if only the cup (calix), and thus communion under both kinds (sub utraque), were guaranteed to them, with two or three secondary matters. Not so the Taborites, who drew their name from a mountain fastness which they fortified and called Mount Tabor. These, the Ultras, the democratic radical party, separating themselves off as early as 1419, had left Huss and his teaching very far behind. Ignoring the whole historical development of Christianity, they demanded that a clean sweep should be made of everything in the Church's practice for which an express and literal warrant in Scripture could not be found. When at the Council of Basel an agreement was patched up with the Calixtines on the footing which I have just named, 1433, a few further promises being thrown in which might mean anything and, as the issue proved, did mean nothing, the Taborites would not listen to the compromise. Again they appealed to arms: but now their old comrades and allies had passed to the other side; and, defeated in battle, 1434, their stronghold taken and destroyed, 1453, their political power forever broken, they, too, as so many before and since, were doomed to learn that violence is weakness in disguise, and that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

Whether the Church of Rome made the concessions to the Calixtines which she did, with the intention of retracting them at the first opportunity, it is impossible to say. This, however, is certain, that half a dozen years had scarcely elapsed before these concessions were brought into question and dispute; while, in less than thirty, Pope Pius II formally withdrew altogether the papal recognition of them, 1462; though a struggle for their maintenance, not always unsuccessful, lasted on into the century ensuing.

304It was in truth a melancholy close of a movement so hopefully begun. And yet not altogether the close; for, indeed, nothing, in which any elements of true heroism are mingled, so disappears as to leave no traces of itself behind. If it does no more, it serves to feed the high tradition of the world—that most precious of all bequests to the present age from the ages which are behind it. But there was more than this. If much was consumed, yet not all. Something—and that the best worth the saving—was saved from the fires, having first been purified in them. The stormy zealots, as many as had taken the sword, had for the most part perished by the sword.

But there were some who made for themselves a better future than the sword could have ever made. A feeble remnant, extricating themselves from the wreck and ruin of their party, and having been taught of God in his severest school, pious Calixtines, too, that were little content with the Compacts of Basel, a few stray Waldensians mingling with them, all these, drawing together in an evil time, refashioned and reconstituted themselves in humblest guise, though not in guise so humble that they could escape the cruel attentions of Rome. Seeking to build on a true scriptural foundation, with a scheme of doctrine, it may be, dogmatically incomplete—even as that of Huss himself had been—with their episcopate lost and never since recovered, the Unitas Fratrum, the Moravian Brethren, trampled and trodden down, but overcoming now, not by weapons of carnal warfare, but by the blood of the Cross, lived on to hail the breaking of a fairer dawn, and to be themselves greeted as witnesses for God, who in a dark and gloomy day, and having but a little strength, had kept his word, and not denied his name.



A.D. 1415


The German princely family of Hohenzollern, which ruled over Brandenburg from 1415, has furnished the kings of Prussia since 1701, and since 1871 those kings have also been German emperors. The Hohenzollerns were originally owners of a castle on the Upper Danube, at no great distance from the ancestral seat of the Hapsburg family. They acquired influence at the court of Swabia, and in 1192 had established themselves in Nuremberg, where in that year Frederick I became burggraf. When Rudolph I, founder of the house of Hapsburg, finally defeated his rival, Ottocar of Bohemia (1278), his cause was saved by the assistance of a Hohenzollern—Frederick of Nuremberg.

The Hohenzollerns made fortunate marriages and shrewd purchases and the descendants of Frederick I, succeeding to his burggravate, in the course of time acquired great estates in Franconia, Moravia, and Burgundy. Through their increasing wealth—whereby in the fifteenth century they had gained a position similar to that of the present Rothschilds—and by use of their political abilities, they attained commanding influence in the councils of the German princes.

Such was the eminence of this powerful family at the time when they acquired the electorate of Brandenburg, the nucleus of the present kingdom of Prussia. Brandenburg was a district formerly inhabited by the Wends, a Slavic people, from whom it was taken in 926 by Henry the Fowler, King of Germany, of which kingdom it afterward became a margravate. Its first margrave was Albert the Bear, under whom, about 1150, it was made an electorate; from Albert's line it passed to Louis the Bavarian, in 1319; and in 1371 it was transferred to Charles (Karl) IV. On the death of Charles, his son and successor Wenzel (Wenceslaus) relinquished Brandenburg to his brothers, as told by Carlyle, who in his own pictorial manner describes the subsequent complications which finally resulted in giving that possession to the ancestors of the present ruling house of Germany.

KARL74 left three young sons, Wenzel, Sigismund, Johann; and also a certain nephew much older; all of whom now more or less concern us in this unfortunate history.

Wenzel, the eldest son, heritable Kurfuerst of Brandenburg 306as well as King of Bohemia, was as yet only seventeen, who nevertheless got to be kaiser—and went widely astray, poor soul. The nephew was no other than Margrave Jobst of Moravia, now in the vigor of his years and a stirring man: to him, for a time, the chief management in Brandenburg fell, in these circumstances. Wenzel, still a minor, and already Kaiser and King of Bohemia, gave up Brandenburg to his two younger brothers, most of it to Sigismund, with a cutting for Johann, to help their appanages; and applied his own powers to govern the Holy Roman Empire, at that early stage of life.

To govern the Holy Roman Empire, poor soul—or rather "to drink beer and dance with the girls"; in which, if defective in other things, Wenzel had an eminent talent. He was one of the worst kaisers and the least victorious on record. He would attend to nothing in the Reich; "the Prag white beer, and girls" of various complexion, being much preferable, as he was heard to say. He had to fling his poor Queen's Confessor into the river Moldau—Johann of Nepomuk, Saint so called, if he is not a fable altogether; whose Statue stands on Bridges ever since, in those parts. Wenzel's Bohemians revolted against him; put him in jail; and he broke prison, a boatman's daughter helping him out, with adventures. His Germans were disgusted with him; deposed him from the kaisership; chose Rupert of the Pfalz; and then, after Rupert's death, chose Wenzel's own brother Sigismund in his stead—left Wenzel to jumble about in his native Bohemian element, as king there, for nineteen years longer, still breaking pots to a ruinous extent.

He ended by apoplexy, or sudden spasm of the heart; terrible Ziska,75 as it were, killing him at second hand. For Ziska, stout and furious, blind of one eye and at last of both, a kind of human rhinoceros driven mad, had risen out of the ashes of murdered Huss, and other bad papistic doings, in the interim; and was tearing up the world at a huge rate. Rhinoceros Ziska was on the Weissenberg, or a still nearer hill of Prag since called Ziska-berg (Ziska Hill); and none durst whisper of it to the King. A servant waiting at dinner inadvertently let slip the word: "Ziska there? Deny it, slave!" cried Wenzel, frantic. 307Slave durst not deny. Wenzel drew his sword to run at him, but fell down dead: that was the last pot broken by Wenzel. The hapless royal ex-imperial phantasm self-broken in this manner. Poor soul, he came to the kaisership too early; was a thin violent creature, sensible to the charms and horrors of created objects; and had terrible rhinoceros ziskas and unruly horned cattle to drive. He was one of the worst kaisers ever known—could have done Opera Singing much better—and a sad sight to Bohemia. Let us leave him there: he was never actual Elector of Brandenburg, having given it up in time; never did any ill to that poor country.

The real Kurfürst of Brandenburg all this while was Sigismund, Wenzel's next brother, under tutelage of cousin Jobst or otherwise—a real and yet imaginary, for he never himself governed, but always had Jobst of Mähren or some other in his place there. Sigismund was to have married a daughter of Burggraf Friedrich V;76 and he was himself, as was the young lady, well inclined to this arrangement. But the old people being dead, and some offer of a king's daughter turning up for Sigismund, Sigismund broke off; and took the king's daughter, King of Hungary's—not without regret then and afterward, as is believed. At any rate, the Hungarian charmer proved a wife of small merit, and a Hungarian successor she had was a wife of light conduct even; Hungarian charmers, and Hungarian affairs, were much other than a comfort to Sigismund.

As for the disappointed princess, Burggraf Friedrich's daughter, she said nothing that we hear; silently became a Nun, an Abbess: and through a long life looked out, with her thoughts to herself, upon the loud whirlwind of things, where Sigismund (oftenest an imponderous rag of conspicuous color) was riding and tossing. Her two brothers also, joint Burggraves after their father's death, seemed to have reconciled themselves without difficulty. The elder of them was already Sigismund's brother-in-law; married to Sigismund's and Wenzel's sister—by such predestination as we saw. Burggraf Johann III was the name of this one; a stout fighter and manager for many years; much liked, and looked to, by Sigismund, as indeed were both the brothers, for that matter; always, together or in succession, a 308kind of right hand to Sigismund. Frederick (Friedrich), the younger Burggraf, and ultimately the survivor and inheritor (Johann having left no sons), is the famed Burggraf Friedrich VI the last and notablest of all the Burggraves—a man of distinguished importance, extrinsic and intrinsic; chief or among the very chief of German public men in his time; and memorable to Posterity, and to this history, on still other grounds! But let us not anticipate.

Sigismund, if appanaged with Brandenburg alone, and wedded to his first love, not a king's daughter, might have done tolerably well there; better than Wenzel, with the empire and Bohemia, did. But delusive Fortune threw her golden apple at Sigismund too; and he, in the wide high world, had to play strange pranks. His father-in-law died in Hungary, Sigismund's first wife his only child. Father-in-law bequeathed Hungary to Sigismund, who plunged into a strange sea thereby; got troubles without number, beatings not a few, and had even to take boat, and sail for his life down to Constantinople, at one time. In which sad adventure Burggraf Johann escorted him, and as it were tore him out by the hair of the head. These troubles and adventures lasted many years; in the course of which, Sigismund, trying all manner of friends and expedients, found in the Burggraves of Nuremberg, Johann and Friedrich, with their talents, possessions, and resources, the main or almost only sure support he got.

No end of troubles to Sigismund, and to Brandenburg through him, from this sublime Hungarian legacy. Like a remote fabulous golden fleece, which you have to go and conquer first, and which is worth little when conquered. Before ever setting out (1387), Sigismund saw too clearly that he would have cash to raise: an operation he had never done with, all his life afterward. He pawned Brandenburg to cousin Jobst of Mähren; got "twenty thousand Bohemian gulden"—I guess, a most slender sum, if Dryasdust would but interpret it. This was the beginning of pawnings to Brandenburg; of which when will the end be? Jobst thereby came into Brandenburg on his own right for the time, not as tutor or guardian, which he had hitherto been. Into Brandenburg; and there was no chance of repayment to get him out again.

309Jobst tried at first to do some governing; but finding all very anarchic, grew unhopeful; took to making matters easy for himself. Took, in fact, to turning a penny on his pawn-ticket; alienating crown domains, winking hard at robber barons, and the like—and after a few years, went home to Moravia, leaving Brandenburg to shift for itself, under a Statthalter (Viceregent, more like a hungry land-steward), whom nobody took the trouble of respecting. Robber castles flourished; all else decayed. No highway not unsafe; many a Turpin with sixteen quarters, and styling himself Edle Herr (noble gentleman), took to "living from the saddle": what are Hamburg pedlers made for but to be robbed?

The towns suffered much; any trade they might have had, going to wreck in this manner. Not to speak of private feuds, which abounded ad libitum. Neighboring potentates, Archbishop of Magdeburg and others, struck in also at discretion, as they had gradually got accustomed to do, and snapped away some convenient bit of territory, or, more legitimately, they came across to coerce, at their own hand, this or the other Edle Herr of the Turpin sort, whom there was no other way of getting at, when he carried matters quite too high. "Droves of six hundred swine"—I have seen (by reading in those old books) certain noble gentlemen, "of Putlitz," I think, driving them openly, captured by the stronger hand; and have heard the short querulous squeak of the bristly creatures: "What is the use of being a pig at all, if I am to be stolen in this way, and surreptitiously made into ham?" Pigs do continue to be bred in Brandenburg: but it is under such discouragements. Agriculture, trade, well-being and well-doing of any kind, it is not encouragement they are meeting here. Probably few countries, not even Ireland, have a worse outlook, unless help come.

Jobst came back in 1398, after eight years' absence; but no help came with Jobst. The Neumark of Brandenburg, which was brother Johann's portion, had fallen home to Sigismund, brother Johann having died; but Sigismund, far from redeeming old pawn-tickets with the Neumark, pawned the Neumark too—the second pawnage of Brandenburg. Pawned the Neumark to the Teutsch Ritters "for sixty-three thousand Hungarian gulden" (I think, about thirty thousand pounds), and310 gave no part of it to Jobst; had not nearly enough for himself and his Hungarian occasions.

Seeing which, and hearing such squeak of pigs surreptitiously driven, with little but discordant sights and sounds everywhere, Jobst became disgusted with the matter; and resolved to wash his hands of it, at least to have his money out of it again. Having sold what of the domains he could to persons of quality, at an uncommonly easy rate, and so pocketed what ready cash there was among them, he made over his pawn-ticket, or properly he himself repawned Brandenburg to the Saxon potentate, a speculative moneyed man, Markgraf of Meissen, "Wilhelm the Rich," so called. Pawned it to Wilhelm the Rich—sum not named; and went home to Moravia, there to wait events. This is the third Brandenburg pawning: let us hope there may be a fourth and last.

And so we have now reached that point in Brandenburg history when, if some help does not come, Brandenburg will not long be a country, but will either get dissipated in pieces and stuck to the edge of others where some government is, or else go waste again and fall to the bisons and wild bears.

Who now is Kurfürst of Brandenburg, might be a question. "I unquestionably!" Sigismund would answer, with astonishment. "Soft, your Hungarian Majesty," thinks Jobst: "till my cash is paid may it not probably be another?" This question has its interest: the Electors just now (1400) are about deposing Wenzel; must choose some better Kaiser. If they wanted another scion of the house of Luxemburg—a mature old gentleman of sixty; full of plans, plausibilities, pretensions—Jobst is their man. Jobst and Sigismund were of one mind as to Wenzel's going; at least Sigismund voted clearly so, and Jobst said nothing counter: but the Kurfürsts did not think of Jobst for successor. After some stumbling, they fixed upon Rupert Kur-Pfalz (Elector Palatine, Ruprecht von der Pfalz) as Kaiser.

Rupert of the Pfalz proved a highly respectable Kaiser; lasted for ten years (1400-10), with honor to himself and the Reich. A strong heart, strong head, but short of means. He chastised petty mutiny with vigor, could not bring down the Milanese Visconti, who had perched themselves so high on money paid to Wenzel; could not heal the schism of the Church311 (double or triple Pope, Rome-Avignon affair), or awaken the Reich to a sense of its old dignity and present loose condition. In the late loose times, as antiquaries remark, most members of the Empire, petty princes even and imperial towns, had been struggling to set up for themselves; and were now concerned chiefly to become sovereign in their own territories. And Schilter informs us it was about this period that most of them attained such rather unblessed consummation; Rupert of himself not able to help it, with all his willingness. The people called him "Rupert Klemm (Rupert Smith's-vise)," from his resolute ways; which nickname—given him not in hatred, but partly in satirical good-will—is itself a kind of history. From historians of the Reich he deserves honorable regretful mention.

He had for Empress a sister of Burggraf Friedrich's; which high lady, unknown to us otherwise, except by her tomb at Heidelberg, we remember for her brother's sake. Kaiser Rupert—great-grandson of that Kur-Pfalz who was Kaiser Ludwig's elder brother—is the culminating point of the Electors Palatine; the highest that Heidelberg produced. Ancestor of those famed Protestant "Palatines"; of all the Palatines or Pfalzes that reign in these late centuries. Ancestor of the present Bavarian Majesty; Kaiser Ludwig's race having died out. Ancestor of the unfortunate Winterkönig, Friedrich, King of Bohemia, who is too well known in English history—ancestor also of Charles XII of Sweden, a highly creditable fact of the kind to him. Fact indisputable: a cadet of Pfalz-Zweibrück (Deux-Ponts), direct from Rupert, went to serve in Sweden in his soldier business; distinguished himself in soldiering; had a sister of the great Gustaf Adolf to wife; and from her a renowned son, Karl Gustaf (Christiana's cousin), who succeeded as King; who again had a grandson made in his own likeness, only still more of iron in his composition. Enough now of Rupert Smith's-vise; who died in 1410, and left the Reich again vacant.

Rupert's funeral is hardly done, when, over in Preussen, far off in the Memel region, place called Tannenberg, where there is still "a church-yard to be seen," if little more, the Teutsch Ritters had, unexpectedly, a terrible defeat; consummation of their Polish miscellaneous quarrels of long standing; and the312 end of their high courses in this world. A ruined Teutsch Ritterdom, as good as ruined, ever henceforth. Kaiser Rupert died May 18th; and on July 15th, within two months, was fought that dreadful "Battle of Tannenburg," Poland and Polish King, with miscellany of savage Tartars and revolted Prussians, versus Teutsch Ritterdom; all in a very high mood of mutual rage; the very elements, "wild thunder, tempest and rain deluges," playing chorus to them on the occasion. Ritterdom fought lion-like, but with insufficient strategic and other wisdom, and was driven nearly distracted to see its pride tripped into the ditch by such a set. Vacant Reich could not in the least attend to it; nor can we further at present.

Jobst and Sigismund were competitors for the Kaisership; Wenzel, too, striking in with claims for reinstatement: the house of Luxemburg divided against itself. Wenzel, finding reinstatement not to be thought of, threw his weight, such as it was, into the scale of cousin Jobst. The contest was vehement, and like to be lengthy. Jobst, though he had made over his pawn-ticket, claimed to be Elector of Brandenburg; and voted for himself. The like, with still more emphasis, did Sigismund, or Burggraf Friedrich acting for him: "Sigismund, sure, is Kur-Brandenburg, though under pawn!" argued Friedrich—and, I almost guess, though that is not said, produced from his own purse, at some stage of the business, the actual money for Jobst, to close his Brandenburg pretension.

Both were elected (majority contested in this manner); and old Jobst, then above seventy, was like to have given much trouble; but happily in three months he died; and Sigismund became indisputable. In his day Jobst made much noise in the world, but did little or no good in it. He was thought "a great man," says one satirical old Chronicler; and there "was nothing great about him but the beard."

"The cause of Sigismund's success with the Electors," says Kohler, "or of his having any party among them, was the faithful and unwearied diligence which had been used for him by the above-named Burggraf Friedrich VI of Nuremberg, who took extreme pains to forward Sigismund to the Empire; pleading that Sigismund and Wenzel would be sure to agree well henceforth, and that Sigismund, having already such extensive territories313 (Hungary, Brandenburg, and so forth) by inheritance, would not be so exact about the Reichs-tolls and other imperial incomes. This same Friedrich also, when the election fell out doubtful, was Sigismund's best support in Germany, nay almost his right hand, through whom he did whatever was done."

Sigismund is Kaiser, then, in spite of Wenzel. King of Hungary, after unheard-of troubles and adventures, ending some years ago in a kind of peace and conquest, he has long been. King of Bohemia, too, he at last became; having survived Wenzel, who was childless. Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, and so much else: is not Sigismund now a great man? Truly the loom he weaves upon, in this world, is very large. But the weaver was of headlong, high-pacing, flimsy nature; and both warp and woof were gone dreadfully entangled!

This is the Kaiser Sigismund who held the Council of Constance; and "blushed visibly," when Huss, about to die, alluded to the letter of safe-conduct granted him, which was issuing in such fashion. Sigismund blushed; but could not conveniently mend the matter—so many matters pressing on him just now. As they perpetually did, and had done. An always-hoping, never-resting, unsuccessful, vain and empty Kaiser. Specious, speculative; given to eloquence, diplomacy, and the windy instead of the solid arts; always short of money for one thing. He roamed about, and talked eloquently; aiming high, and generally missing. Hungary and even the Reich have at length become his, but have brought small triumph in any kind; and instead of ready money, debt on debt. His Majesty has no money, and his Majesty's occasions need it more and more.

He is now (1414) holding this Council of Constance, by way of healing the Church, which is sick of three simultaneous popes and of much else. He finds the problem difficult; finds he will have to run into Spain, to persuade a refractory pope there, if eloquence can (as it cannot): all which requires money, money. At opening of the council, he "officiated as deacon"; actually did some kind of litanying "with a surplice over him," though Kaiser and King of the Romans. But this passage of his opening speech is what I recollect best of him there: "Right reverend Fathers, date operam ut illa nefanda schisma eradicetur,"314 exclaims Sigismund, intent on having the Bohemian schism well dealt with—which he reckons to be of the feminine gender. To which a cardinal mildly remarking, "Domine, schisma est generis neutrius (schisma is neuter, your Majesty)," Sigismund loftily replies: "Ego sum Rex Romanus et super grammaticam (I am King of the Romans, and above Grammar)!" For which reason I call him in my note-books Sigismund Super Grammaticam, to distinguish him in the imbroglio of kaisers.

How Jobst's pawn-ticket was settled I never clearly heard; but can guess it was by Burggraf Friedrich's advancing the money, in the pinch above indicated, or paying it afterward to Jobst's heirs whoever they were. Thus much is certain: Burggraf Friedrich, these three years and more (ever since July 8, 1411) holds Sigismund's deed of acknowledgment "for one hundred thousand gulden lent at various times"; and has likewise got the Electorate of Brandenburg in pledge for that sum; and does himself administer the said Electorate till he be paid. This is the important news; but this is not all.

The new journey into Spain requires new money; this council itself, with such a pomp as suited Sigismund, has cost him endless money. Brandenburg, torn to ruins in the way we saw, is a sorrowful matter; and, except the title of it, as a feather in one's cap, is worth nothing to Sigismund. And he is still short of money; and will forever be. Why could not he give up Brandenburg altogether; since, instead of paying, he is still making new loans from Burggraf Friedrich; and the hope of ever paying were mere lunacy! Sigismund revolves these sad thoughts too, amid his world-wide diplomacies, and efforts to heal the Church. "Pledged for one hundred thousand gulden," sadly ruminates Sigismund; "and fifty thousand more borrowed since, by little and little; and more ever needed, especially for this grand Spanish journey!" these were his sad thoughts. "Advance me, in a round sum, two hundred and fifty thousand more," said he to Burggraf Friedrich, "two hundred and fifty thousand more, for my manifold occasions in this time—that will be four hundred thousand in whole—and take the Electorate of Brandenburg to yourself, Land, Titles, Sovereign, Electorship and all, and make me rid of it!" That was the settlement adopted, in Sigismund's apartment at Constance, on315 April 30, 1415; signed, sealed, and ratified—and the money paid. A very notable event in World-History; virtually completed on the day we mention.

The ceremony of investiture did not take place till two years afterward, when the Spanish journey had proved fruitless, when much else of fruitless had come and gone and Kaiser and council were probably more at leisure for such a thing. Done at length it was by Kaiser Sigismund in almost gala, with the Grandees of the Empire assisting, and august members of the council and world in general looking on; in the big square or market-place of Constance, April 17, 1417; is to be found described in Rentsch, from Nauclerus and the old news-mongers of the times. Very grand indeed: much processioning on horseback, under powerful trumpet-peals and flourishes; much stately kneeling, stately rising, stepping backward (done well, zierlich, on the Kurfürst's part); liberal expenditure of cloth and pomp; in short, "above one hundred thousand people looking on from roofs and windows," and Kaiser Sigismund in all his glory. He was on a high platform in the market-place, with stairs to it; the illustrious Kaiser—red as a flamingo, "with scarlet mantle and crown of gold,"—a treat to the eyes of simple mankind.

What sum of modern money, in real purchasing power, this "four hundred thousand Hungarian Gold Gulden" is, I have inquired in the likely quarters without result; and it is probable no man exactly knows. The latest existing representative of the ancient gold gulden is the ducat, worth generally a half-sovereign in English. Taking the sum at that latest rate, it amounts to two hundred thousand pounds; and the reader can use that as a note of memory for the sale-price of Brandenburg with all its lands and honors—multiplying it perhaps by four or six to bring out its effective amount in current coin. Dog cheap, it must be owned, for size and capability; but in the most waste condition, full of mutiny, injustice, anarchy, and highway robbery; a purchase that might have proved dear enough to another man than Burggraf Friedrich.

But so, at any rate, moribund Brandenburg has got its Hohenzollern Kurfürst, and started on a new career it little dreamt of; and we can now, right willingly, quit Sigismund and the316 Reichs-History, leave Kaiser Sigismund to sink or swim at his own will henceforth. His grand feat in life, the wonder of his generation, was this same Council of Constance; which proved entirely a failure; one of the largest wind-eggs ever dropped with noise and travail in this world. Two hundred thousand human creatures, reckoned and reckoning themselves the elixir of the intellect and dignity of Europe. Two hundred thousand—nay some, counting the lower menials and numerous unfortunate females, say four hundred thousand—were got congregated into that little Swiss town; and there as an Ecumenic Council, or solemnly distilled elixir of what pious intellect and valor could be scraped together in the world, they labored with all their select might for four years' space. That was the Council of Constance. And except this transfer of Brandenburg to Friedrich of Hohenzollern, resulting from said council, in the quite reverse and involuntary way, one sees not what good result it had.

They did, indeed, burn Huss; but that could not be called a beneficial incident; that seemed to Sigismund and the council a most small and insignificant one. And it kindled Bohemia, and kindled Rhinoceros Ziska, into never-imagined flame of vengeance; brought mere disaster, disgrace, and defeat on defeat to Sigismund, and kept his hands full for the rest of his life, however small he had thought it. As for the sublime four years' deliberations and debates of this Sanhedrim of the Universe—eloquent debates, conducted, we may say, under such extent of wig as was never seen before or since—they have fallen wholly to the domain of Dryasdust; and amount, for mankind at this time, to zero plus the burning of Huss. On the whole, Burggraf Friedrich's Electorship, and the first Hohenzollern to Brandenburg, is the one good result.

Burggraf Friedrich, on his first coming to Brandenburg, found but a cool reception as Statthalter. He came as the representative of law and rule; and there had been many helping themselves by a ruleless life, of late. Industry was at a low ebb, violence was rife; plunder, disorder, everywhere; too much the habit for baronial gentlemen to "live by the saddle," as they termed it, that is, by highway robbery in modern phrase.

317The towns, harried and plundered to skin and bone, were glad to see a Statthalter, and did homage to him with all their heart. But the baronage or squirearchy of the country were of another mind. These, in the late anarchies, had set up for a kind of kings in their own right. They had their feuds; made war, made peace, levied tolls, transit dues; lived much at their own discretion in these solitary countries; rushing out from their stone towers ("walls fourteen feet thick"), to seize any herd of "six hundred swine," and convoy of Lübeck or Hamburg merchant goods, that had not contented them in passing. What were pedlers and mechanic fellows made for, if not to be plundered when needful? Arbitrary rule, on the part of these noble robber lords! And then much of the crown domains had gone to the chief of them—pawned (and the pawn-ticket lost, so to speak), or sold for what trifle of ready money was to be had, in Jobst and Company's time. To these gentlemen a Statthalter coming to inquire into matters was no welcome phenomenon. Your Edle Herr (noble lord) of Putlitz, noble lords of Quitzow, Rochow, Maltitz, and others, supreme in their grassy solitudes this long while, and accustomed to nothing greater than themselves in Brandenburg, how should they obey a Statthalter?

Such was more or less the universal humor in the squirearchy of Brandenburg; not of good omen to Burggraf Friedrich. But the chief seat of contumacy seemed to be among the Quitzows, Putlitzes, above spoken of; big squires in the district they call the Priegnitz, in the country of the sluggish Havel River, northwest from Berlin a forty or fifty miles. These refused homage, very many of them; said they were "incorporated with Böhmen"; said this and that; much disinclined to homage; and would not do it. Stiff, surly fellows, much deficient in discernment of what is above them and what is not: a thick-skinned set; bodies clad in buff leather; minds also cased in ill habits of long continuance.

Friedrich was very patient with them; hoped to prevail by gentle methods. He "invited them to dinner"; "had them often at dinner for a year or more:" but could make no progress in that way. "Who is this we have got for a Governor?" said the noble lords privately to each other: "A Nuremberger318 Tand" (Nuremberg plaything—wooden image, such as they make at Nuremberg), said they, grinning, in a thick-skinned way: "If it rained Burggraves all the year round, none of them would come to luck in this country;" and continued their feuds, toll-levyings, plunderings, and other contumacies.

Seeing matters come to this pass after above a year, Burggraf Friedrich gathered his Frankish men-at-arms; quietly made league with the neighboring Potentates, Thüringen and others; got some munitions, some artillery together—especially one huge gun, the biggest ever seen, "a twenty-four pounder," no less; to which the peasants, dragging her with difficulty through the clayey roads, gave the name of Faule Grete (Lazy or Heavy Peg); a remarkable piece of ordnance. Lazy Peg he had got from the Landgraf of Thüringen, on loan merely; but he turned her to excellent account of his own. I have often inquired after Lazy Peg's fate in subsequent times; but could never learn anything distinct; the German Dryasdust is a dull dog, and seldom carries anything human in those big wallets of his!

Equipped in this way, Burggraf Friedrich (he was not yet Kurfürst, only coming to be) marches for the Havel Country (early days of 1414); makes his appearance before Quitzow's strong house of Friesack, walls fourteen feet thick: "You, Dietrich von Quitzow, are you prepared to live as a peaceable subject henceforth? to do homage to the laws and me?" "Never!" answered Quitzow, and pulled up his drawbridge. Whereupon Heavy Peg opened upon him, Heavy Peg and other guns; and, in some eight-and-forty hours, shook Quitzow's impregnable Friesack about his ears. This was in the month of February, 1414, day not given: Friesack was the name of the impregnable castle (still discoverable in our time); and it ought to be memorable and venerable to every Prussian man. Burggraf Friedrich VI, not yet quite become Kurfürst Friedrich I, but in a year's space to become so, he in person was the beneficent operator; Heavy Peg and steady human insight, these were clearly the chief implements.

Quitzow being settled—for the country is in military occupation of Friedrich and his allies, and except in some stone castle a man has no chance—straightway Putlitz or another mutineer, with his drawbridge up, was battered to pieces, and his319 drawbridge brought slamming down. After this manner, in an incredibly short period, mutiny was quenched; and it became apparent to noble lords, and to all men, that here at length was a man come who would have the laws obeyed again, and could and would keep mutiny down.




A.D. 1415-1420


King Henry V of England, son of Henry IV, was born in 1387, and two years later was made prince of Wales. In 1401-1408 he was engaged against the Welsh rebels under Owen Glendower, and in 1410 became captain of Calais. His youthful period is represented—probably with much exaggeration, to which Shakespeare, in Henry IV, contributed—as full of wild and dissolute conduct, but as king he was distinguished for his courage, ability, and enterprise.

Henry was crowned in 1413, about seventy-five years after the beginning of the Hundred Years' War between England and France, which arose from the claim of Edward III to the French throne. For some years a feud had been raging in France between the houses of Burgundy and Orleans, the rival parties being known as Burgundians and Armagnacs. Led by Simonet Caboche, a butcher, adherents of the Armagnacs rose with great fury against the Burgundians. This was in the first year of Henry's reign, and to him and other rulers Charles VI of France appealed in order to prevent them from aiding the outbreak, which was soon quelled by the princes of the blood and the University of Paris. Order in France was restored by the Duke of Orleans, and the Duke of Burgundy withdrew to Flanders. But war between the two factions was soon after renewed, and both sides sought the alliance of England.

In these contentions and appeals for his interference Henry saw an opportunity for pressing his designs to recover what he claimed as the French inheritance of his predecessors. In 1414, as the heir of Isabella, mother of his great-grandfather Edward, he formally demanded the crown of France. The French princes refused to consider his claim. Henry modified his demands, but after several months of negotiation, with no promise of success, he prepared for renewal of the ancient war.

THE claim made by Edward III to the French crown had been questionable enough. That of Henry was certainly most unreasonable. Edward had maintained that though the Salic Law, which governed the succession in France, excluded females from the throne, it did not exclude their male descendants. On this theory Edward himself was doubtless the true heir to the321 French monarchy. But even admitting the claims of Edward, his rights had certainly not descended to Henry V, seeing that even in England neither he nor his father was true to the throne by lineal right. A war with France, however, was sure to be popular with his subjects, and the weakness of that country from civil discord seemed a favorable opportunity for urging the most extreme pretensions.

To give a show of fairness and moderation the English ambassadors at Paris lessened their demands more than once, and appeared willing for some time to renew negotiations after their terms had been rejected. But in the end they still insisted on a claim which in point of equity was altogether preposterous, and rejected a compromise which would have put Henry in possession of the whole of Guienne and given him the hand of the French King's daughter Catharine with a marriage portion of eight hundred thousand crowns. Meanwhile Henry was making active preparations for war, and at the same time carried on secret negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy, trusting to have him for an ally in the invasion of France.

At length, in the summer of 1415, the King had collected an army and was ready to embark at Southampton. But on the eve of his departure a conspiracy was discovered, the object of which was to dethrone the King and set aside the house of Lancaster. The conspirators were Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, and a knight of Northumberland named Sir Thomas Grey. The Earl of Cambridge was the King's cousin-german, and had been recently raised to that dignity by Henry himself. Lord Scrope was, to all appearance, the King's most intimate friend and counsellor. The design seems to have been formed upon the model of similar projects in the preceding reign. Richard II was to be proclaimed once more, as if he had been still alive; but the real intention was to procure the crown for Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, the true heir of Richard, whom Henry IV had set aside.

At the same time the Earl of March himself seems hardly to have countenanced the attempt; but the Earl of Cambridge, who had married his sister, wished, doubtless, to secure the succession for his son Richard, as the Earl of March had no322 children. Evidently it was the impression of some persons that the house of Lancaster was not even yet firmly seated upon the throne. Perhaps it was not even yet apparent that the young man who had so recently been a gamesome reveller was capable of ruling with a firm hand a king.

But all doubt on this point was soon terminated. The commissioners were tried by a commission hastily issued, and were summarily condemned and put to death. The Earl of March, it is said, revealed the plot to the King, sat as one of the judges of his two brother peers, and was taken into the King's favor. The Earl of Cambridge made a confession of his guilt. Lord Scrope, though he repudiated the imputation of disloyalty, admitted having had a guilty knowledge of the plot, which he said it had been his purpose to defeat. The one nobleman, in consideration of his royal blood, was simply beheaded; the other was drawn and quartered. We hear of no more attempts of the kind during Henry's reign.

With a fleet of one thousand five hundred sail Henry crossed the sea and landed without opposition at Chef de Caux, near Harfleur, at the mouth of the Seine. The force that he brought with him was about thirty thousand men, and he immediately employed it in laying siege to Harfleur. The place was strong, so far as walls and bulwarks could make it, but it was not well victualled, and after a five-weeks' siege it was obliged to capitulate. But the forces of the besieged were thinned by disease as well as actual fighting. Dysentery had broken out in the camp, and, though it was only September, they suffered bitterly from the coldness of the nights; so that, when the town had been won and garrisoned, the force available for further operations amounted to less than half the original strength of the invading army.

Under the circumstances it was hopeless to expect to do much before the winter set in, and many counselled the King to return to England. But Henry could not tolerate the idea of retreat or even of apparent inaction. He sent a challenge to the Dauphin, offering to refer their differences to single combat; and when no notice was taken of this proposal, he determined to cut his way, if possible, through the country to Calais, along with the remainder of his forces.

323It was a difficult and hazardous march. Hunger, dysentery, and fever had already reduced the little band to less than nine thousand men, or, as good authorities say, to little more than six thousand. The country people were unfriendly, their supplies were cut off on all sides, and the scanty stock of provisions with which they set out was soon exhausted. For want of bread, many were driven to feed on nuts, while the enemy harassed them upon the way and broke down the bridges in advance of them. On one or two occasions, having repulsed an attack from a garrison town, Henry demanded and obtained from the governor a safe-conduct and a certain quantity of bread and wine, under threat of setting fire to the place if refused.

In this manner he and his army gradually approached the river Somme at Blanche Tache, where there was a ford by which King Edward III had crossed before the battle of Crécy. But while yet some distance from it, they received information from a prisoner that the ford was guarded by six thousand fighting men, and, though the intelligence was untrue, it deterred him from attempting the passage. They accordingly turned to the right and went up the river as far as Amiens, but were still unable to cross, till, after following the course of the river about fifty miles farther, they fortunately came upon an undefended ford and passed over before their enemies were aware.

Hitherto their progress had not been without adventures and skirmishes in many places. But the main army of the French only overtook them when they had arrived within about forty-five miles of Calais. On the night of October 24th they were posted at the village of Maisoncelles, with an enemy before them five or six times their number, who had resolved to stop their further progress. Both sides prepared for battle on the following morning. The English, besides being so much inferior in numbers, were wasted by disease and famine, while their adversaries were fresh and vigorous, with a plentiful commissariat. But the latter were overconfident. They spent the evening in dice-playing and making wagers about the prisoners they should take; while the English, on the contrary, confessed themselves and received the sacrament.

Heavy rain fell during the night, from which both armies suffered; but Henry availed himself of a brief period of moonlight324 to have the ground thoroughly surveyed. His position was an admirable one. His forces occupied a narrow field hemmed in on either side by hedges and thickets, so that they could only be attacked in front, and were in no fear of being surrounded. Early on the following morning Henry arose and heard mass; but the two armies stood facing each other for some hours, each waiting for the other to begin. The English archers were drawn up in front in form of a wedge, and each man was provided with a stake shod with iron at both ends, which being fixed into the ground before him, the whole line formed a kind of hedge bristling with sharp points, to defend them from being ridden down by the enemy's cavalry.

At length, however, Henry gave orders to commence the attack, and the archers advanced, leaving their stakes behind them fixed in the ground. The French cavalry on either side endeavored to close them in, but were soon obliged to retire before the thick showers of arrows poured in upon them, which destroyed four-fifths of their numbers. Their horses then became unmanageable, being plagued with a multitude of wounds, and the whole army was thrown into confusion. Never was a more brilliant victory won against more overwhelming odds.

One sad piece of cruelty alone tarnished the glory of that day's action, but it seems to have been dictated by fear as a means of self-preservation. After the enemy had been completely routed in front, and a multitude of prisoners taken, the King, hearing that some detachments had got round to his rear, and were endeavoring to plunder his baggage, gave orders to the whole army to put their prisoners to death. The order was executed in the most relentless fashion. One or two distinguished prisoners afterward were taken from under heaps of slain, among whom were the dukes of Orleans and Bourbon. Altogether, the slaughter of the French was enormous. There is a general agreement that it was upward of ten thousand men, and among them were the flower of the French nobility. That of the English was disproportionately small. Their own writers reckon it not more than one hundred altogether, some absurdly stating it as low as twenty or thirty, while the French authorities estimate it variously from three hundred to one thousand six hundred.

325Henry called his victory the battle of Agincourt, from the name of a neighboring castle. The army proceeded in excellent order to Calais, where they were triumphantly received, and after resting there awhile recrossed to England. The news of such a splendid victory caused them to be welcomed with an enthusiasm that knew no bounds. At Dover the people rushed into the sea to meet the conquerors, and carried the King in their arms in triumph from his vessel to the shore. From thence to London his progress was like one continued triumphal procession, and the capital itself received him with every demonstration of joy.

The progress of the English arms in France did not, for a long time, induce the rival factions in that country to suspend the civil war among themselves. But at length some feeble efforts were made toward a reconciliation. The Council of Constance having healed the divisions in the Church by the election of Martin V as pope in place of the three rival popes deposed, the new Pontiff despatched two cardinals to France to aid in this important object. By their mediation a treaty was concluded between the Queen, the Duke of Burgundy, and the Dauphin; but it was no sooner published than the Count of Armagnac and his partisans made a vehement protest against it and accused of treason all who had promoted it.

On this, Paris rose in anger, took part with the Burgundians, fell upon all the leading Armagnacs, put them in prison, and destroyed their houses. The Dauphin was only saved by one of Armagnac's principal adherents, Tannegui du Châtel, who carried him to the Bastille. The Bastille, however, was a few days after stormed by the populace, and Du Châtel was forced to withdraw his charge to Melun. The Armagnac party, except those in prison, were entirely driven out of Paris. But even this did not satisfy the rage of the multitude. Riots continued from day to day, and, a report being spread that the King was willing to ransom the captives, the people broke open the prisons and massacred every one of the prisoners. The Count of Armagnac, his chancellor, and several bishops and officers of state were the principal victims; but no one, man or woman, was spared. State prisoners, criminals, and debtors, even women great with child, perished in this indiscriminate slaughter.

326Almost the whole of Normandy was by this time in possession of the English; but Rouen, the capital of the duchy, still held out. It was a large city, strongly fortified, but Henry closed it in on every side until it was reduced to capitulate by hunger. At the beginning of the siege the authorities took measures to expel the destitute class of the inhabitants, and several thousands of poor people were thus thrown into the hands of the besiegers, who endeavored to drive them back into the town. But the gates being absolutely shut against them, they remained between the walls and the trenches, pitifully crying for help and perishing for want of food and shelter, until, on Christmas Day, when the siege had continued nearly five months, Henry ordered food to be distributed to them "in the honor of Christ's nativity."

Those within the town, meanwhile, were reduced to no less extremities. Enormous prices were given for bread and even for the bodies of dogs, cats, and rats. The garrison at length were induced to offer terms, but Henry for some time insisted on their surrendering at discretion. Hearing, however, that a desperate project was entertained of undermining the wall and suddenly rushing out upon the besiegers, he consented to grant them conditions, and the city capitulated on January 19th. The few places that remained unconquered in Normandy then opened their gates to Henry; others in Maine and the Isle of France did the same, and the English troops entered Picardy on a further career of conquest.

Both the rival factions were now seriously anxious to stop the progress of the English, either by coming at once to terms with Henry or by uniting together against him; and each in turn first tried the former course. The Dauphin offered to treat with the King of England; but Henry demanding the whole of those large possessions in the north and south of France which had been secured to Edward III by the treaty of Bretigni, he felt that it was impossible to prolong the negotiation. The Duke of Burgundy then arranged a personal interview at Meulan between Henry on the one side and himself and the French Queen on behalf of Charles, at which terms of peace were to be adjusted. The Queen brought with her the princess Catharine, her daughter, whose hand Henry himself had formerly demanded as one of the conditions on which he would have consented to327 forbear from invading France. It was now hoped that if he would take her in marriage he would moderate his other demands. But Henry, for his part, was altogether unyielding. He insisted on the terms of the treaty of Bretigni, and on keeping his own conquests besides, with Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and the sovereignty over Brittany.

Demands so exorbitant the Duke of Burgundy did not dare to accept, and as a last resource he and the Dauphin agreed to be reconciled and to unite in defence of their country against the enemy. They held a personal interview, embraced each other, and signed a treaty by which they promised each to love the other as a brother, and to offer a joint resistance to the invaders. A further meeting was arranged to take place about seven weeks later to complete matters and to consider their future policy. France was delighted at the prospect of internal harmony and the hope of deliverance from her enemies. But at the second interview an event occurred which marred all her prospects once more. The meeting had been appointed to take place at Montereau, where the river Yonne falls into the Seine.

The Duke, remembering doubtless how he had perfidiously murdered the Duke of Orleans, allowed the day originally appointed to pass by, and came to the place at last after considerable misgivings, which appear to have been overcome by the exhortations of treacherous friends.

When he arrived he found a place railed in with barriers for the meeting. He nevertheless advanced, accompanied by ten attendants, and, being told that the Dauphin waited for him, he came within the barriers, which were immediately closed behind him. The Dauphin was accompanied by one or two gentlemen, among whom was his devoted servant, Tannegui du Châtel, who had saved him from the Parisian massacre. This Tannegui had been formerly a servant of Louis, Duke of Orleans, whose murder he had been eagerly seeking an opportunity to revenge; and as the Duke of Burgundy knelt before the Dauphin, he struck him a violent blow on the head with a battle-axe. The attack was immediately followed up by two or three others, who, before the Duke was able to draw his sword, had closed in around him and despatched him with a multitude of wounds.

328The effect of this crime was what might have been anticipated. Nothing could have been more favorable to the aggressive designs of Henry, or more ruinous to the party of the Dauphin, with whose complicity it had been too evidently committed. Philip, the son and heir of the murdered Duke of Burgundy, at once sought means to revenge his father's death. The people of Paris became more than ever enraged against the Armagnacs, and entered into negotiations with the King of England. The new Duke Philip and Queen Isabel did the same, the latter being no less eager than the former for the punishment of her own son. Within less than three months they made up their minds to waive every scruple as to the acceptance of Henry's most exorbitant demands. He was to have the princess Catharine in marriage, and, the Dauphin being disinherited, to succeed to the crown of France on her father's death. He was also to be regent during King Charles' life; and all who held honors or offices of any kind in France were at once to swear allegiance to him as their future sovereign. Henry, for his part, was to use his utmost power to reduce to obedience those towns and places within the realm which adhered to the Dauphin or the Armagnacs.

A treaty on this basis was at length concluded at Troyes in Champagne on May 21, 1420, and on Trinity Sunday, June 2d, Henry was married to the princess Catharine. Shortly afterward the treaty was formally registered by the states of the realm at Paris, when the Dauphin was condemned and attainted as guilty of the murder of the Duke of Burgundy and declared incapable of succeeding to the crown. But the state of affairs left Henry no time for honeymoon festivities. On the Tuesday after his wedding he again put himself at the head of his army, and marched with Philip of Burgundy to lay siege to Sens, which in a few days capitulated. Montereau and Melun were next besieged in succession, and each, after some resistance, was compelled to surrender. The latter siege lasted nearly four months, and during its continuance Henry fought a single combat with the governor in the mines, each combatant having his vizor down and being unknown to the other. The governor's name was Barbason, and he was one of those accused of complicity in the murder of the Duke of Orleans; but in consequence329 of this incident, Henry saved him from the capital punishment which he would otherwise have incurred on his capture.

Toward the end of the year Henry entered Paris in triumph with the French King and the Duke of Burgundy. He there kept Christmas, and shortly afterward removed with his Queen into Normandy on his return into England. He held a parliament at Rouen to confirm his authority in the duchy, after which he passed through Picardy and Calais, and, crossing the sea, came by Dover and Canterbury to London. By his own subjects, and especially in the capital, he and his bride were received with profuse demonstrations of joy. The Queen was crowned at Westminster with great magnificence, and afterward Henry went a progress with her through the country, making pilgrimages to several of the more famous shrines in England.

But while he was thus employed, a great calamity befell the English power in France, which, when the news arrived in England, made it apparent that the King's presence was again much needed across the Channel. His brother, the Duke of Clarence, whom he had left as his lieutenant, was defeated and slain at Beaugé in Anjou by an army of French and Scots, a number of English noblemen being also slain or taken prisoners. This was the first important advantage the Dauphin had gained, and the credit of the victory was mainly due to his Scotch allies. For the Duke of Albany, who was regent of Scotland, though it is commonly supposed that he was unwilling to give needless offence to England lest Henry should terminate his power by setting the Scotch King at liberty, had been compelled by the general sympathy of the Scots with France to send a force under his son the Earl of Buchan to serve against the English. The service which they did in that battle was so great that the Earl of Buchan was created, by the Dauphin, constable of France.

Again Henry crossed the sea with a new army, having borrowed large sums for the expenses of the expedition. Before he left England he made a private treaty with his prisoner King James of Scotland, promising to let him return to his country after the campaign in France on certain specified conditions, among which it was agreed that he should take the command of a body of troops in aid of the English. James had accompanied him in his last campaign, and Henry had endeavored330 to make use of his authority to forbid the Scots in France from taking part in the war, but they had refused to acknowledge themselves bound to a king who was a captive.

By this agreement, however, Henry obtained real assistance and coöperation from his prisoner, whom he employed, in concert with the Duke of Gloucester, in the siege of Dreux, which very soon surrendered. He himself meanwhile marched toward the Loire to meet the Dauphin, and took Beaugency; then, returning northward, first reduced Villeneuve on the Yonne, and afterward laid siege to Meaux on the Marne. The latter place held out for seven months, and while Henry lay before it he received intelligence that his Queen had borne him a son at Windsor, who was christened Henry.

The city of Meaux surrendered on May 10, 1422. The Governor, a man who had been guilty of great cruelties, was beheaded, and his head and body were suspended from a tree on which he himself had caused a number of people to be hanged as adherents of the Duke of Burgundy. Henry was now master of the greater part of the North of France, and his Queen came over from England to join him, with reënforcements under his brother the Duke of Bedford. But he was not permitted to rest; for the Dauphin, having taken from his ally the Duke of Burgundy the town of La Charté on the Loire, proceeded to lay siege to Côsne, and, Philip having applied to Henry for assistance, he sent forward the Duke of Bedford with his army, intending shortly to follow himself. This demonstration was sufficient. The Dauphin felt that he was too weak to contend with the united English and Burgundian forces, and he withdrew from the siege.

Henry, however, was disabled from joining the army by a severe attack of dysentery; and though he had at first hoped that he might be carried in a litter to head-quarters, he soon found that his illness was far too serious to permit him to carry out his intention. He was accordingly conveyed back to Vincennes, near Paris, where he grew so rapidly worse that it was evident his end was near. In a few brief words to those about him he declared his will touching the government of England and France after his death, until his infant son should be of age. The regency of France he committed to the Duke of Bedford,331 in case it should be declined by the Duke of Burgundy. That of England he gave to his other brother, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. To his two uncles, Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter, he intrusted the guardianship of his child. He besought all parties to maintain the alliance with Burgundy, and never to release the Duke of Orleans and the other prisoners of Agincourt during his son's minority. Having given these instructions he expired, on the last day of August, 1422.

His death was bewailed both in England and France with no ordinary regret. The great achievements of his reign made him naturally a popular hero; nor was the regard felt for his memory diminished when, under the feeble reign of his son, all that he had gained was irrecoverably lost again, so that nothing remained of all his conquests except the story of how they had been won. Those past glories, indeed, must have seemed all the brighter when contrasted with a present which knew but disaster abroad and civil dissension at home. The early death of Henry also contributed to the popular estimate of his greatness. It was seen that in a very few years he had subdued a large part of the territory of France. It was not seen that in the nature of things this advantage could not be maintained, and that even the greatest military talents would not have succeeded in preserving the English conquests.

Nor can it be said that Henry's success, extraordinary as it was, was altogether owing to his own abilities. That he exhibited great qualities as a general cannot be denied; but these would have availed him little if the rival factions in France had not been far more bitterly opposed to each other than to him. Indeed, it is difficult after all to justify, even as a matter of policy, his interference in French affairs, except as a means of diverting public attention from the fact that he inherited from his father but an indifferent title even to the throne of England. And though success attended his efforts beyond all expectation, he most wilfully endangered the safety not only of himself, but of his gallant army, when he determined to march with reduced forces through the enemy's country from Harfleur to Calais. It was a rashness nothing less than culpable, but in his own interests rashness was good policy. Unless332 he could succeed in desperate enterprises against tremendous odds and so make himself a military hero and a favorite of the multitude, his throne was insecure. He succeeded; but it was only by staking everything upon the venture—his own safety and that of his army, which, if the French had exercised but a little more discretion, would inevitably have been cut to pieces or made prisoners to a man.



A.D. 1429

Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy

In the Hundred Years' War between England and France, a critical period was reached when Henry V, in 1415, won the battle of Agincourt, and five years later, by the treaty of Troyes, secured the succession to the French throne on the death of Charles VI. Both monarchs dying in 1422, Charles VII was proclaimed King of France, and Henry's son—Henry VI—succeeded to his father's throne.

France now realized that her condition was wellnigh hopeless, for the greater part of her territory was in the hands of her enemies. When the English began the siege of Orleans the extinction of French independence seemed to be inevitable. The chivalry of France had been wasted in terrible wars, and the spirits of her soldiers were daunted by repeated disaster. The English king had been proclaimed in Paris, and the "native prince was a dissolute trifler, stained with the assassination of the most powerful noble of the land."77 Anarchy and brigandage everywhere prevailed, and the condition of the peasantry was too wretched to be described.

"Such," says Lamartine, "was the state of the nation when Providence showed it a savior in a child." This child was Jeanne d'Arc, called La Pucelle ("the Maid"—more fully, "the Maid of Orleans"), whose character and services to her country made her, perhaps, the most illustrious heroine of history. She was born at Domremy, in the northeast part of France, January 6, 1412. All that is essential concerning her personality and life prior to the great achievement recorded here will be found in Creasy's own introduction to his spirited account of the victory at Orleans.

ORLEANS was looked upon as the last stronghold of the French national party. If the English could once obtain possession of it, their victorious progress through the residue of the kingdom seemed free from any serious obstacle. Accordingly, the Earl of Salisbury, one of the bravest and most experienced of the English generals, who had been trained under Henry V, marched to the attack of the all-important city; and, after re334ducing several places of inferior consequence in the neighborhood, appeared with his army before its walls on the 12th of October, 1428.

The city of Orleans itself was on the north side of the Loire, but its suburbs extended far on the southern side, and a strong bridge connected them with the town. A fortification, which in modern military phrase would be termed a tête-du-pont, defended the bridge head on the southern side, and two towers, called the Tourelles, were built on the bridge itself, at a little distance from the tête-du-pont. Indeed, the solid masonry of the bridge terminated at the Tourelles; and the communication thence with the tête-du-pont and the southern shore was by means of a drawbridge. The Tourelles and the tête-du-pont formed together a strong-fortified post, capable of containing a garrison of considerable strength; and so long as this was in possession of the Orleannais, they could communicate freely with the southern provinces, the inhabitants of which, like the Orleannais themselves, supported the cause of their dauphin against the foreigners.

Lord Salisbury rightly judged the capture of the Tourelles to be the most material step toward the reduction of the city itself. Accordingly, he directed his principal operations against this post, and after some severe repulses he carried the Tourelles by storm on the 23d of October. The French, however, broke down the arches of the bridge that were nearest to the north bank, and thus rendered a direct assault from the Tourelles upon the city impossible. But the possession of this post enabled the English to distress the town greatly by a battery of cannon which they planted there, and which commanded some of the principal streets.

It has been observed by Hume that this is the first siege in which any important use appears to have been made of artillery. And even at Orleans both besiegers and besieged seem to have employed their cannons merely as instruments of destruction against their enemy's men, and not to have trusted to them as engines of demolition against their enemy's walls and works. The efficacy of cannon in breaching solid masonry was taught Europe by the Turks a few years afterward, at the memorable siege of Constantinople.

335In our French wars, as in the wars of the classic nations, famine was looked on as the surest weapon to compel the submission of a well-walled town; and the great object of the besiegers was to effect a complete circumvallation. The great ambit of the walls of Orleans, and the facilities which the river gave for obtaining succors and supplies, rendered the capture of the town by this process a matter of great difficulty. Nevertheless, Lord Salisbury, and Lord Suffolk, who succeeded him in command of the English after his death by a cannon-ball, carried on the necessary works with great skill and resolution. Six strongly-fortified posts, called bastilles, were formed at certain intervals round the town, and the purpose of the English engineers was to draw strong lines between them. During the winter, little progress was made with the intrenchments, but when the spring of 1429 came, the English resumed their work with activity; the communications between the city and the country became more difficult, and the approach of want began already to be felt in Orleans.

The besieging force also fared hardly for stores and provisions, until relieved by the effects of a brilliant victory which Sir John Fastolf, one of the best English generals, gained at Rouvrai, near Orleans, a few days after Ash Wednesday, 1429. With only sixteen hundred fighting men, Sir John completely defeated an army of French and Scots, four thousand strong, which had been collected for the purpose of aiding the Orleannais and harassing the besiegers. After this encounter, which seemed decisively to confirm the superiority of the English in battle over their adversaries, Fastolf escorted large supplies of stores and food to Suffolk's camp, and the spirits of the English rose to the highest pitch at the prospect of the speedy capture of the city before them, and the consequent subjection of all France beneath their arms.

The Orleannais now, in their distress, offered to surrender the city into the hands of the Duke of Burgundy, who, though the ally of the English, was yet one of their native princes. The regent Bedford refused these terms, and the speedy submission of the city to the English seemed inevitable. The dauphin Charles, who was now at Chinon with his remnant of a court, despaired of continuing any longer the struggle for his crown,336 and was only prevented from abandoning the country by the more masculine spirits of his mistress and his Queen. Yet neither they nor the boldest of Charles' captains could have shown him where to find resources for prolonging war; and least of all could any human skill have predicted the quarter whence rescue was to come to Orleans and to France.

In the village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, there was a poor peasant of the name of Jacques d'Arc, respected in his station of life, and who had reared a family in virtuous habits and in the practice of the strictest devotion. His eldest daughter was named by her parents Jeannette, but she was called Jeanne by the French, which was Latinized into Johanna, and Anglicized into Joan.

At the time when Jeanne first attracted attention, she was about eighteen years of age. She was naturally of a susceptible disposition, which diligent attention to the legends of saints and tales of fairies, aided by the dreamy loneliness of her life while tending her father's flocks, had made peculiarly prone to enthusiastic fervor. At the same time, she was eminent for piety and purity of soul, and for her compassionate gentleness to the sick and the distressed.

The district where she dwelt had escaped comparatively free from the ravages of war, but the approach of roving bands of Burgundian or English troops frequently spread terror through Domremy. Once the village had been plundered by some of these marauders, and Jeanne and her family had been driven from their home, and forced to seek refuge for a time at Neufchâteau. The peasantry in Domremy were principally attached to the house of Orleans and the Dauphin, and all the miseries which France endured were there imputed to the Burgundian faction and their allies, the English, who were seeking to enslave unhappy France.

Thus, from infancy to girlhood, Jeanne had heard continually of the woes of the war, and had herself witnessed some of the wretchedness that it caused. A feeling of intense patriotism grew in her with her growth. The deliverance of France from the English was the subject of her reveries by day and her dreams by night. Blended with these aspirations were recollections of the miraculous interpositions of heaven in favor of the337 oppressed, which she had learned from the legends of her Church. Her faith was undoubting; her prayers were fervent. "She feared no danger, for she felt no sin," and at length she believed herself to have received the supernatural inspiration which she sought.

According to her own narrative, delivered by her to her merciless inquisitors in the time of her captivity and approaching death, she was about thirteen years old when her revelations commenced. Her own words describe them best. "At the age of thirteen, a voice from God came to her to help her in ruling herself, and that voice came to her about the hour of noon, in summer-time, while she was in her father's garden. And she had fasted the day before. And she heard the voice on her right, in the direction of the church; and when she heard the voice, she saw also a bright light."

Afterward St. Michael and St. Margaret and St. Catharine appeared to her. They were always in a halo of glory; she could see that their heads were crowned with jewels; and she heard their voices, which were sweet and mild. She did not distinguish their arms or limbs. She heard them more frequently than she saw them; and the usual time when she heard them was when the church bells were sounding for prayer. And if she was in the woods when she heard them, she could plainly distinguish their voices drawing near to her. When she thought that she discerned the heavenly voices, she knelt down, and bowed herself to the ground. Their presence gladdened her even to tears, and after they departed she wept because they had not taken her with them back to paradise. They always spoke soothingly to her. They told her that France would be saved, and that she was to save it.

Such were the visions and the voices that moved the spirit of the girl of thirteen; and as she grew older, they became more frequent and more clear. At last the tidings of the siege of Orleans reached Domremy. Jeanne heard her parents and neighbors talk of the sufferings of its population, of the ruin which its capture would bring on their lawful sovereign, and of the distress of the Dauphin and his court. Jeanne's heart was sorely troubled at the thought of the fate of Orleans; and her "voices" now ordered her to leave her home, and warned her that she was the338 instrument chosen by heaven for driving away the English from that city, and for taking the Dauphin to be anointed king at Rheims. At length she informed her parents of her divine mission, and told them that she must go to the Sire de Baudricourt, who commanded at Vaucouleurs, and who was the appointed person to bring her into the presence of the King, whom she was to save.

Neither the anger nor the grief of her parents, who said that they would rather see her drowned than exposed to the contamination of the camp, could move her from her purpose. One of her uncles consented to take her to Vaucouleurs, where De Baudricourt at first thought her mad, and derided her, but by degrees was led to believe, if not in her inspiration, at least in her enthusiasm, and in its possible utility to the Dauphin's cause.

The inhabitants of Vaucouleurs were completely won over to her side by the piety and devoutness which she displayed, and by her firm assurance in the truth of her mission. She told them that it was God's will that she should go to the King, and that no one but her could save the kingdom of France. She said that she herself would rather remain with her poor mother and spin; but the Lord had ordered her forth.

The fame of "the Maid," as she was termed, the renown of her holiness and of her mission, spread far and wide. Baudricourt sent her with an escort to Chinon, where the dauphin Charles was dallying away his time. Her "voices" had bidden her assume the arms and the apparel of a knight; and the wealthiest inhabitants of Vaucouleurs had vied with each other in equipping her with war-horse, armor, and sword. On reaching Chinon, she was, after some delay, admitted into the presence of the Dauphin. Charles designedly dressed himself far less richly than many of his courtiers were apparelled, and mingled with them, when Jeanne was introduced, in order to see if the holy Maid would address her exhortations to the wrong person. But she instantly singled him out, and, kneeling before him, said:

"Most noble Dauphin, the King of Heaven announces to you by me that you shall be anointed and crowned king in the city of Rheims, and that you shall be his vicegerent in France."

His features may probably have been seen by her previously339 in portraits, or have been described to her by others; but she herself believed that her "voices" inspired her when she addressed the King, and the report soon spread abroad that the holy Maid had found the King by a miracle; and this, with many other similar rumors, augmented the renown and influence that she now rapidly acquired.

The state of public feeling in France was now favorable to an enthusiastic belief in a divine interposition in favor of the party that had hitherto been unsuccessful and oppressed. The humiliations which had befallen the French royal family and nobility were looked on as the just judgments of God upon them for their vice and impiety. The misfortunes that had come upon France as a nation were believed to have been drawn down by national sins. The English, who had been the instruments of heaven's wrath against France, seemed now, by their pride and cruelty, to be fitting objects of it themselves.

France in that age was a profoundly religious country. There was ignorance, there was superstition, there was bigotry; but there was faith—a faith that itself worked true miracles, even while it believed in unreal ones. At this time, also, one of those devotional movements began among the clergy in France, which from time to time occur in national churches, without it being possible for the historian to assign any adequate human cause for their immediate date or extension. Numberless friars and priests traversed the rural districts and towns of France, preaching to the people that they must seek from heaven a deliverance from the pillages of the soldiery and the insolence of the foreign oppressors.

The idea of a providence that works only by general laws was wholly alien to the feelings of the age. Every political event, as well as every natural phenomenon, was believed to be the immediate result of a special mandate of God. This led to the belief that his holy angels and saints were constantly employed in executing his commands and mingling in the affairs of men. The Church encouraged these feelings, and at the same time sanctioned the concurrent popular belief that hosts of evil spirits were also ever actively interposing in the current of earthly events, with whom sorcerers and wizards could league themselves, and thereby obtain the exercise of supernatural power.

340Thus all things favored the influence which Jeanne obtained both over friends and foes. The French nation, as well as the English and the Burgundians, readily admitted that superhuman beings inspired her; the only question was whether these beings were good or evil angels; whether she brought with her "airs from heaven or blasts from hell." This question seemed to her countrymen to be decisively settled in her favor by the austere sanctity of her life, by the holiness of her conversation, but still more by her exemplary attention to all the services and rites of the Church. The Dauphin at first feared the injury that might be done to his cause if he laid himself open to the charge of having leagued himself with a sorceress. Every imaginable test, therefore, was resorted to in order to set Jeanne's orthodoxy and purity beyond suspicion. At last Charles and his advisers felt safe in accepting her services as those of a true and virtuous Christian daughter of the holy Church.

It is, indeed, probable that Charles himself and some of his counsellors may have suspected Jeanne of being a mere enthusiast, and it is certain that Dunois and others of the best generals took considerable latitude in obeying or deviating from the military orders that she gave. But over the mass of the people and the soldiery her influence was unbounded. While Charles and his doctors of theology, and court ladies, had been deliberating as to recognizing or dismissing the Maid, a considerable period had passed away during which a small army, the last gleanings, as it seemed, of the English sword, had been assembled at Blois, under Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, and other chiefs, who to their natural valor were now beginning to unite the wisdom that is taught by misfortune. It was resolved to send Jeanne with this force and a convoy of provisions to Orleans. The distress of that city had now become urgent. But the communication with the open country was not entirely cut off: the Orleannais had heard of the holy Maid whom Providence had raised up for their deliverance, and their messengers earnestly implored the Dauphin to send her to them without delay.

Jeanne appeared at the camp at Blois, clad in a new suit of brilliant white armor, mounted on a stately black war-horse, and with a lance in her right hand, which she had learned to wield with skill and grace. Her head was unhelmeted, so that341 all could behold her fair and expressive features, her deep-set and earnest eyes, and her long black hair, which was parted across her forehead, and bound by a ribbon behind her back. She wore at her side a small battle-axe, and the consecrated sword, marked on the blade with five crosses, which had at her bidding been taken for her from the shrine of St. Catharine at Fierbois. A page carried her banner, which she had caused to be made and embroidered as her voices enjoined. It was white satin, strewn with fleurs-de-lis, and on it were the words

"Jhesus Maria,"

and the representation of the Saviour in his glory. Jeanne afterward generally bore her banner herself in battle; she said that though she loved her sword much, she loved her banner forty times as much; and she loved to carry it, because it could not kill anyone.

Thus accoutred, she came to lead the troops of France, who looked with soldierly admiration on her well-proportioned and upright figure, the skill with which she managed her war-horse, and the easy grace with which she handled her weapons. Her military education had been short, but she had availed herself of it well. She had also the good sense to interfere little with the manœuvres of the troops, leaving these things to Dunois and others whom she had the discernment to recognize as the best officers in the camp.

Her tactics in action were simple enough. As she herself described it, "I used to say to them, 'Go boldly in among the English,' and then I used to go boldly in myself." Such, as she told her inquisitors, was the only spell she used, and it was one of power. But, while interfering little with the military discipline of the troops, in all matters of moral discipline she was inflexibly strict. All the abandoned followers of the camp were driven away. She compelled both generals and soldiers to attend regularly at confessional. Her chaplain and other priests marched with the army under her orders; and at every halt, an altar was set up and the sacrament administered. No oath or foul language passed without punishment or censure. Even the roughest and most hardened veterans obeyed her. They had put off for a time the bestial coarseness which had342 grown on them during a life of bloodshed and rapine; they felt that they must go forth in a new spirit to a new career, and acknowledged the beauty of the holiness in which the heaven-sent Maid was leading them to certain victory.

Jeanne marched from Blois on the 25th of April with a convoy of provisions for Orleans, accompanied by Dunois, La Hire, and the other chief captains of the French, and on the evening of the 28th they approached the town. In the words of the old chronicler Hall: "The Englishmen, perceiving that thei within could not long continue for faute of vitaile and pouder, kepte not their watche so diligently as thei were accustomed, nor scoured now the countrey environed as thei before had ordained. Whiche negligence the citizens shut in perceiving, sent worde thereof to the French captaines, which, with Pucelle, in the dedde tyme of the nighte, and in a greate rayne and thundere, with all their vitaile and artillery, entered into the citie."

When it was day, the Maid rode in solemn procession through the city, clad in complete armor, and mounted on a white horse. Dunois was by her side, and all the bravest knights of her army and of the garrison followed in her train. The whole population thronged around her; and men, women, and children strove to touch her garments or her banner or her charger. They poured forth blessings on her, whom they already considered their deliverer. In the words used by two of them afterward before the tribunal which reversed the sentence, but could not restore the life of the virgin-martyr of France, "the people of Orleans, when they first saw her in their city, thought that it was an angel from heaven that had come down to save them."

Jeanne spoke gently in reply to their acclamations and addresses. She told them to fear God, and trust in him for safety from the fury of their enemies. She first went to the principal church, where Te Deum was chanted; and then she took up her abode at the house of Jacques Bourgier, one of the principal citizens, and whose wife was a matron of good repute. She refused to attend a splendid banquet which had been provided for her, and passed nearly all her time in prayer.

When it was known by the English that the Maid was in Orleans, their minds were not less occupied about her than were the minds of those in the city; but it was in a very different spirit.343 The English believed in her supernatural mission as firmly as the French did, but they thought her a sorceress who had come to overthrow them by her enchantments. An old prophecy, which told that a damsel from Lorraine was to save France, had long been current, and it was known and applied to Jeanne by foreigners as well as by the natives. For months the English had heard of the coming Maid, and the tales of miracles which she was said to have wrought had been listened to by the rough yeomen of the English camp with anxious curiosity and secret awe. She had sent a herald to the English generals before she marched for Orleans, and he had summoned the English generals in the name of the most High to give up to the Maid, who was sent by heaven, the keys of the French cities which they had wrongfully taken; and he also solemnly adjured the English troops, whether archers or men of the companies of war or gentlemen or others, who were before the city of Orleans, to depart thence to their homes, under peril of being visited by the judgment of God.

On her arrival in Orleans, Jeanne sent another similar message; but the English scoffed at her from their towers, and threatened to burn her heralds. She determined, before she shed the blood of the besiegers, to repeat the warning with her own voice; and accordingly she mounted one of the boulevards of the town, which was within hearing of the Tourelles, and thence she spoke to the English, and bade them depart, otherwise they would meet with shame and woe.

Sir William Gladsdale—whom the French call "Glacidas"—commanded the English post at the Tourelles, and he and another English officer replied by bidding her go home and keep her cows, and by ribald jests that brought tears of shame and indignation into her eyes. But, though the English leaders vaunted aloud, the effect produced on their army by Jeanne's presence in Orleans was proved four days after her arrival, when, on the approach of reënforcements and stores to the town, Jeanne and La Hire marched out to meet them, and escorted the long train of provision wagons safely into Orleans, between the bastiles of the English, who cowered behind their walls instead of charging fiercely and fearlessly, as had been their wont, on any French band that dared to show itself within reach.

344Thus far she had prevailed without striking a blow; but the time was now come to test her courage amid the horrors of actual slaughter. On the afternoon of the day on which she had escorted the reënforcements into the city, while she was resting fatigued at home, Dunois had seized an advantageous opportunity of attacking the English bastile of St. Loup, and a fierce assault of the Orleannais had been made on it, which the English garrison of the fort stubbornly resisted. Jeanne was roused by a sound which she believed to be that of her heavenly voices; she called for her arms and horse, and, quickly equipping herself, she mounted to ride off to where the fight was raging. In her haste she had forgotten her banner; she rode back, and, without dismounting, had it given to her from the window, and then she galloped to the gate whence the sally had been made.

On her way she met some of the wounded French who had been carried back from the fight. "Ha!" she exclaimed, "I never can see French blood flow without my hair standing on end." She rode out of the gate, and met the tide of her countrymen, who had been repulsed from the English fort, and were flying back to Orleans in confusion. At the sight of the holy Maid and her banner they rallied and renewed the assault, Jeanne rode forward at their head, waving her banner and cheering them on. The English quailed at what they believed to be the charge of hell; St. Loup was stormed, and its defenders put to the sword, except some few, whom Jeanne succeeded in saving. All her woman's gentleness returned when the combat was over. It was the first time that she had ever seen a battlefield. She wept at the sight of so many bleeding corpses; and her tears flowed doubly when she reflected that they were the bodies of Christian men who had died without confession.

The next day was Ascension Day, and it was passed by Jeanne in prayer. But on the following morrow it was resolved by the chiefs of the garrison to attack the English forts on the south of the river. For this purpose they crossed the river in boats, and after some severe fighting, in which the Maid was wounded in the heel, both the English bastiles of the Augustins and St. Jean de Blanc were captured. The Tourelles were now the only posts which the besiegers held on the south of the river. But that post345 was formidably strong, and by its command of the bridge it was the key to the deliverance of Orleans. It was known that a fresh English army was approaching under Fastolfe to reënforce the besiegers, and, should that army arrive while the Tourelles were yet in the possession of their comrades, there was great peril of all the advantages which the French had gained being nullified, and of the siege being again actively carried on.

It was resolved, therefore, by the French to assail the Tourelles at once, while the enthusiasm which the presence and the heroic valor of the Maid had created was at its height. But the enterprise was difficult. The rampart of the tête-du-pont, or landward bulwark, of the Tourelles was steep and high, and Sir John Gladsdale occupied this all-important fort with five hundred archers and men-at-arms, who were the very flower of the English army.

Early in the morning of the 7th of May some thousands of the best French troops in Orleans heard mass and attended the confessional by Jeanne's orders, and then crossing the river in boats, as on the preceding day, they assailed the bulwark of the Tourelles "with light hearts and heavy hands." But Gladsdale's men, encouraged by their bold and skilful leader, made a resolute and able defence. The Maid planted her banner on the edge of the fosse, and then, springing down into the ditch, she placed the first ladder against the wall and began to mount. An English archer sent an arrow at her, which pierced her corselet and wounded her severely between the neck and shoulder. She fell bleeding from the ladder; and the English were leaping down from the wall to capture her, but her followers bore her off. She was carried to the rear and laid upon the grass; her armor was taken off, and the anguish of her wound and the sight of her blood made her at first tremble and weep.

But her confidence in her celestial mission soon returned: her patron saints seemed to stand before her and reassure her. She sat up and drew the arrow out with her own hands. Some of the soldiers who stood by wished to stanch the blood by saying a charm over the wound; but she forbade them, saying that she did not wish to be cured by unhallowed means. She had the wound dressed with a little oil, and then, bidding her confessor come to her, she betook herself to prayer.

346In the mean while the English in the bulwark of the Tourelles had repulsed the oft-renewed efforts of the French to scale the wall. Dunois, who commanded the assailants, was at last discouraged, and gave orders for a retreat to be sounded. Jeanne sent for him and the other generals, and implored them not to despair.

"By my God," she said to them, "you shall soon enter in there. Do not doubt it. When you see my banner wave again up to the wall, to your arms again! the fort is yours. For the present, rest a little and take some food and drink."

"They did so," says the old chronicler of the siege, "for they obeyed her marvellously."

The faintness caused by her wound had now passed off, and she headed the French in another rush against the bulwark. The English, who had thought her slain, were alarmed at her reappearance, while the French pressed furiously and fanatically forward. A Biscayan soldier was carrying Jeanne's banner. She had told the troops that directly the banner touched the wall they should enter. The Biscayan waved the banner forward from the edge of the fosse, and touched the wall with it, and then all the French host swarmed madly up the ladders that now were raised in all directions against the English fort. At this crisis the efforts of the English garrison were distracted by an attack from another quarter. The French troops who had been left in Orleans had placed some planks over the broken arch of the bridge, and advanced across them to the assault of the Tourelles on the northern side.

Gladsdale resolved to withdraw his men from the landward bulwark, and concentrate his whole force in the Tourelles themselves. He was passing for this purpose across the drawbridge that connected the Tourelles and the tête-du-pont, when Jeanne, who by this time had scaled the wall of the bulwark, called out to him, "Surrender! surrender to the King of Heaven! Ah, Glacidas, you have foully wronged me with your words, but I have great pity on your soul and the souls of your men." The Englishman, disdainful of her summons, was striding on across the drawbridge, when a cannon-shot from the town carried it away, and Gladsdale perished in the water that ran beneath. After his fall, the remnant of the English abandoned all further347 resistance. Three hundred of them had been killed in the battle and two hundred were made prisoners.

The broken arch was speedily repaired by the exulting Orleannais, and Jeanne made her triumphal reëntry into the city by the bridge that had so long been closed. Every church in Orleans rang out its gratulating peal; and throughout the night the sounds of rejoicing echoed, and the bonfires blazed up from the city. But in the lines and forts which the besiegers yet retained on the northern shore, there was anxious watching of the generals, and there was desponding gloom among the soldiery. Even Talbot now counselled retreat. On the following morning the Orleannais, from their walls, saw the great forts called "London" and "St. Lawrence" in flames, and witnessed their invaders busy in destroying the stores and munitions which had been relied on for the destruction of Orleans.

Slowly and sullenly the English army retired; and not before it had drawn up in battle array opposite to the city, as if to challenge the garrison to an encounter. The French troops were eager to go out and attack, but Jeanne forbade it. The day was Sunday.

"In the name of God," she said, "let them depart, and let us return thanks to God."

She led the soldiers and citizens forth from Orleans, but not for the shedding of blood. They passed in solemn procession round the city walls, and then, while their retiring enemies were yet in sight, they knelt in thanksgiving to God for the deliverance which he had vouchsafed them.

Within three months from the time of her first interview with the Dauphin, Jeanne had fulfilled the first part of her promise, the raising of the siege of Orleans. Within three months more she had fulfilled the second part also, and had stood with her banner in her hand by the high altar at Rheims, while he was anointed and crowned as king Charles VII of France. In the interval she had taken Jargeau, Troyes, and other strong places, and she had defeated an English army in a fair field at Patay. The enthusiasm of her countrymen knew no bounds; but the importance of her services, and especially of her primary achievement at Orleans, may perhaps be best proved by the testimony of her enemies. There is extant a fragment of a letter348 from the regent Bedford to his royal nephew, Henry VI, in which he bewails the turn that the war has taken, and especially attributes it to the raising of the siege of Orleans by Jeanne. Bedford's own words, which are preserved in Rymer, are as follows:

"And alle thing there prospered for you til the tyme of the Siege of Orleans taken in hand God knoweth by what advis. At the whiche tyme, after the adventure fallen to the persone of my cousin of Salisbury, whom God assoille, there felle, by the hand of God as it seemeth, a great strook upon your peuple that was assembled there in grete nombre, caused in grete partie, as y trowe, of lakke of sadde beleve, and of unlevefulle doubte, that thei hadde of a disciple and lyme of the Feende, called the Pucelle, that used fals enchantments and sorcerie.

"The whiche strooke and discomfiture nott oonly lessed in grete partie the nombre of your peuple there, but as well withdrewe the courage of the remenant in merveillous wyse, and couraiged your adverse partie and ennemys to assemble them forthwith in grete nombre."

When Charles had been anointed king of France, Jeanne believed that her mission was accomplished. And in truth the deliverance of France from the English, though not completed for many years afterward, was then insured. The ceremony of a royal coronation and anointment was not in those days regarded as a mere costly formality. It was believed to confer the sanction and the grace of heaven upon the prince, who had previously ruled with mere human authority. Thenceforth he was the Lord's Anointed. Moreover, one of the difficulties that had previously lain in the way of many Frenchmen when called on to support Charles VII was now removed. He had been publicly stigmatized, even by his own parents, as no true son of the royal race of France. The queen-mother, the English, and the partisans of Burgundy called him the "Pretender to the title of Dauphin"; but those who had been led to doubt his legitimacy were cured of their scepticism by the victories of the holy Maid and by the fulfilment of her pledges. They thought that heaven had now declared itself in favor of Charles as the true heir of the crown of St. Louis, and the tales about his being spurious were thenceforth regarded as mere English calumnies.

349With this strong tide of national feeling in his favor, with victorious generals and soldiers round him, and a dispirited and divided enemy before him, he could not fail to conquer, though his own imprudence and misconduct, and the stubborn valor which the English still from time to time displayed, prolonged the war in France until the civil Wars of the Roses broke out in England, and left France to peace and repose.



A.D. 1431

Jules Michelet

After her victory at Orleans (1429), Jeanne d'Arc "knelt before the French King in the cathedral of Rheims, and shed tears of joy." She felt that she had fulfilled her mission, and she desired to return to her home at Domremy. But King Charles VII persuaded her to remain with the army. "She still heard her heavenly voices, but she now no longer thought herself the appointed minister of heaven to lead her countrymen to certain victory." She expected but one year more of life; but she still bravely faced the future with its perils.

The Maid took part in the capture of Laon, Soissons, Compiègne, and other places, and, in the attack on Paris, September, 1429, which she prematurely urged, was severely wounded. In a sally from Compiègne, where she was besieged by Burgundians, she was taken prisoner May 24, 1430, and held until November, when for a large payment in money she was surrendered to the English, who took her to Rouen, their real capital in France.

On January 3, 1431, by order of King Henry VI of England, Jeanne was placed in the hands of Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who had already moved to have her delivered up to the Inquisition of France, as demanded by the University of Paris. The Bishop proceeded to form at Rouen a "court of justice" for her trial, and on February 21st the Maid was brought before her judges—"Norman priests and doctors of Paris"—in the chapel of Rouen castle. The trial lasted until May 30th, forty sittings being held—some of them in Jeanne's prison, where for a time she was kept in an iron cage.

Commanded to take "an oath to tell the truth about everything as to which she should be questioned," she replied: "Perchance you may ask me things I would not tell you. I do not like to take an oath to tell the truth save as to matters which concern the faith." She fearlessly tried to guard against violation of what she considered her right to be silent.

In "this odious and shameful trial," says Guizot, "the judges' prejudiced servility and scientific subtlety were employed for three months to wear out the courage or overreach the understanding of a young girl of nineteen, who made no defence beyond holding her tongue or appealing to God, who had dictated to her that which she had done." Formal accusation was made under twelve heads or articles, based on the preliminary examination, and the trial proceeded to its merciless end.


IN Passion Week, Jeanne d'Arc fell sick. Her temptation began, no doubt, on Palm Sunday. A country girl, born on the skirts of a forest, and having ever lived in the open air of heaven, she was compelled to pass this fine Palm Sunday in the depths of a dungeon. The grand "succor" which the Church invokes came not for her; the "doors did not open."

They were opened on the Tuesday, but it was to lead the accused to the great hall of the castle, before her judges. They read to her the articles which had been founded on her answers, and the Bishop previously represented to her "that these doctors were all churchmen, clerks, and well read in law, divine and human; that they were all tender and pitiful, and desired to proceed mildly, seeking neither vengeance nor corporal punishment, but solely wishing to enlighten her, and put her in the way of truth and of salvation; and that, as she was not sufficiently informed in such high matters, the Bishop and the Inquisitor offered her the choice of one or more of the assessors to act as her counsel." The accused, in presence of this assembly, in which she did not descry a single friendly face, mildly answered: "For what you admonish me as to my good, and concerning our faith, I thank you; as to the counsel you offer me, I have no intention to forsake the counsel of our Lord."

The first article touched the capital point, submission. She replied: "Well do I believe that our holy Father, the bishops, and others of the Church are to guard the Christian faith and punish those who are found wanting. As to my deeds, I submit myself only to the Church in heaven, to God and the Virgin, to the sainted men and women in paradise. I have not been wanting in regard to the Christian faith, and trust I never shall be." And, shortly afterward, "I would rather die than recall what I have done by our Lord's command."

What illustrates the time, the uninformed mind of these doctors, and their blind attachment to the letter without regard to the spirit is that no point seemed graver to them than the sin of having assumed male attire. They represented to her that, according to the canons, those who thus change the habit of their sex are abominable in the sight of God. At first she would not give a direct answer, and begged for a respite till the next day, but her judges insisted on her discarding the dress; she352 replied "that she was not empowered to say when she could quit it."

"But if you should be deprived of the privilege of hearing mass?"

"Well, our Lord can grant me to hear it without you."

"Will you put on a woman's dress, in order to receive your Saviour at Easter?"

"No; I cannot quit this dress; it matters not to me in what dress I receive my Saviour."

After this she seems shaken, asks to be at least allowed to hear mass, adding, "I won't say but if you were to give me a gown such as the daughters of the burghers wear, a very long gown."

It is clear she shrank, through modesty, from explaining herself. The poor girl durst not explain her position in prison or the constant danger she was in. The truth is that three soldiers slept in her room, three of the brigand ruffians called houspilleurs;78 that she was chained to a beam by a large iron chain, almost wholly at their mercy; the man's dress they wished to compel her to discontinue was all her safeguard. What are we to think of the imbecility of the judge, or of his horrible connivance?

Besides being kept under the eyes of these wretches, and exposed to their insults and mockery, she was subjected to espial from without. Winchester,79 the Inquisitor, and Cauchon had each a key to the tower, and watched her hourly through a hole in the wall. Each stone of this infernal dungeon had eyes.

Her only consolation was that she was at first allowed interviews with a priest, who told her that he was a prisoner and attached to Charles VII's cause. Loyseleur, so he was named, was a tool of the English. He had won Jeanne's confidence, who used to confess herself to him; and, at such times, her confessions were taken down by notaries concealed on purpose to overhear her. It is said that Loyseleur encouraged her to hold out, in order to insure her destruction.

The deplorable state of the prisoner's health was aggravated by her being deprived of the consolations of religion during 353Passion Week. On the Thursday, the sacrament was withheld from her; on that selfsame day on which Christ is universal host, on which he invites the poor and all those who suffer, she seemed to be forgotten.

On Good Friday, that day of deep silence, on which we all hear no other sound than the beating of one's own heart, it seems as if the hearts of the judges smote them, and that some feeling of humanity and of religion had been awakened in their aged scholastic souls; at least it is certain that, whereas thirty-five of them took their seats on the Wednesday, no more than nine were present at the examination on Saturday; the rest, no doubt, alleged the devotions of the day as their excuse.

On the contrary, her courage had revived. Likening her own sufferings to those of Christ, the thought had roused her from her despondency. She agreed to "defer to the Church militant, provided it commanded nothing impossible."

"Do you think, then, that you are not subject to the Church which is upon earth, to our holy father the Pope, to the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and prelates?"

"Yes, certainly, our Lord served."

"Do your voices forbid your submitting to the Church militant?"

"They do not forbid it, our Lord being served first."

This firmness did not desert her once on the Saturday; but on the next day, the Sunday, Easter Sunday! what must her feelings have been? What must have passed in that poor heart when, the sounds of the universal holiday enlivening the city, Rouen's five hundred bells ringing out with their joyous peals on the air, and the whole Christian world coming to life with the Saviour, she remained with death! Could she who, with all her inner life of visions and revelations, had not the less docilely obeyed the commands of the Church; could she, who till now had believed herself in her simplicity "a good girl," as she said, a girl altogether submissive to the Church—could she without terror see the Church against her?

After all, what, who was she, to undertake to gainsay these prelates, these doctors? How dared she speak before so many able men—men who had studied? Was there not presumption and damnable pride in an ignorant girl's opposing herself to the354 learned—a poor, simple girl, to men in authority? Undoubtedly fears of the kind agitated her mind.

On the other hand, this opposition is not Jeanne's, but that of the saints and angels who have dictated her answers to her, and, up to this time, sustained her. Wherefore, alas! do they come no more in this pressing need of hers? Wherefore is the so long promised deliverance delayed? Doubtless the prisoner has put these questions to herself over and over again.

There was one means of escaping; this was, without expressly disavowing, to forbear affirming, and to say, "It seems to me." The lawyers thought it easy for her to pronounce these few simple words; but in her mind, to use so doubtful an expression was in reality equivalent to a denial; it was abjuring her beautiful dream of heavenly friendships, betraying her sweet sisters on high. Better to die. And indeed, the unfortunate, rejected by the visible, abandoned by the invisible, by the Church, by the world, and by her own heart, was sinking. And the body was following the sinking soul.

It so happened that on that very day she had eaten part of a fish which the charitable Bishop of Beauvais had sent her, and might have imagined herself poisoned. The bishop had an interest in her death; it would have put an end to this embarrassing trial, would have got the judge out of the scrape; but this was not what the English reckoned upon. The Earl of Warwick, in his alarm, said: "The King would not have her by any means die a natural death. The King has bought her dear. She must die by justice and be burned. See and cure her."

All attention, indeed, was paid her; she was visited and bled, but was none the better for it, remaining weak and nearly dying. Whether through fear that she should escape thus and die without retracting, or that her bodily weakness inspired hopes that her mind would be more easily dealt with, the judges made an attempt while she was lying in this state, April 18th. They visited her in her chamber, and represented to her that she would be in great danger if she did not reconsider, and follow the advice of the Church. "It seems to me, indeed," she said, "seeing my sickness, that I am in great danger of death. If so, God's will be done; I should like to confess, receive my Saviour, and be laid in holy ground."

355"If you desire the sacraments of the Church, you must do as good Catholics do, and submit yourself to it." She made no reply. But, on the judge's repeating his words, she said: "If the body die in prison, I hope that you will lay it in holy ground; if you do not, I appeal to our Lord."

Already, in the course of these examinations, she had expressed one of her last wishes. Question: "You say that you wear a man's dress by God's command, and yet, in case you die, you want a woman's shift?" Answer: "All I want is to have a long one." This touching answer was ample proof that, in this extremity, she was much less occupied with care about life than with the fears of modesty.

The doctors preached to their patient for a long time; and he who had taken on himself the especial care of exhorting her, Master Nicolas Midy, a scholastic of Paris, closed the scene by saying bitterly to her, "If you don't obey the Church, you will be abandoned for a Saracen."

"I am a good Christian," she replied meekly; "I was properly baptized, and will die like a good Christian."

The slowness of these proceedings drove the English wild with impatience. Winchester had hoped to bring the trial to an end before the campaign; to have forced a confession from the prisoner, and have dishonored King Charles. This blow struck, he would recover Louviers, secure Normandy and the Seine, and then repair to Basel to begin another war—a theological war—to sit there as arbiter of Christendom, and make and unmake popes. At the very moment he had these high designs in view, he was compelled to cool his heels, waiting upon what it might please this girl to say.

The unlucky Cauchon happened at this precise juncture to have offended the chapter of Rouen, from which he was soliciting a decision against the Pucelle; he had allowed himself to be addressed beforehand as "My lord the Archbishop." Winchester determined to disregard the delays of these Normans, and to refer at once to the great theological tribunal, the University of Paris.

While waiting for the answer, new attempts were made to overcome the resistance of the accused; and both stratagem and terror were brought into play. In the course of a second356 admonition, May 2d, the preacher, Master Châtillon, proposed to her to submit the question of the truth of her visions to persons of her own party. She did not give in to the snare. "As to this," she said, "I depend on my Judge, the King of heaven and earth." She did not say this time, as before, "On God and the Pope."

"Well, the Church will give you up, and you will be in danger of fire, both soul and body. You will not do what we tell you until you suffer body and soul."

They did not stop at vague threats. On the third admonition, which took place in her chamber, May 11th, the executioner was sent for, and she was told that the torture was ready. But the manœuvre failed. On the contrary, it was found that she had resumed all, and more than all, her courage. Raised up after temptation, she seemed to have mounted a step nearer the source of grace. "The angel Gabriel," she said, "has appeared to strengthen me; it was he—my saints have assured me so. God has been ever my master in what I have done; the devil has never had power over me. Though you should tear off my limbs and pluck my soul from my body, I would say nothing else." The spirit was so visibly manifested in her that her last adversary, the preacher Châtillon, was touched, and became her defender, declaring that a trial so conducted seemed to him null. Cauchon, beside himself with rage, compelled him to silence.

The reply of the University arrived at last. The decision to which it came on the twelve articles was that this girl was wholly the devil's; was impious in regard to her parents; thirsted for Christian blood, etc. This was the opinion given by the faculty of theology. That of law was more moderate, declaring her to be deserving of punishment, but with two reservations: (80) In case she persisted in her nonsubmission; (2) if she were in her right senses.

At the same time the university wrote to the Pope, to the cardinals, and to the King of England, lauding the Bishop of Beauvais and setting forth, "there seemed to it to have been great gravity observed, and a holy and just way of proceeding, which ought to be most satisfactory to all."

Armed with this response, some of the assessors80 were for 357 burning her without further delay; which would have been sufficient satisfaction for the doctors, whose authority she rejected, but not for the English, who required a retraction that should defame King Charles. They had recourse to a new admonition and a new preacher, Master Pierre Morice, which was attended by no better result. It was in vain that he dwelt upon the authority of the University of Paris, "which is the light of all science."

"Though I should see the executioner and the fire there," she exclaimed, "though I were in the fire, I could only say what I have said."

It was by this time the 23d of May, the day after Pentecost; Winchester could remain no longer at Rouen, and it behooved to make an end of the business. Therefore it was resolved to get up a great and terrible public scene, which should either terrify the recusant into submission, or, at the least, blind the people. Loyseleur, Châtillon, and Morice were sent to visit her the evening before, to promise her that, if she would submit and quit her man's dress, she should be delivered out of the hands of the English, and placed in those of the Church.

This fearful farce was enacted in the cemetery of St. Ouen, behind the beautifully severe monastic church so called, and which had by that day assumed its present appearance. On a scaffolding raised for the purpose sat Cardinal Winchester, the two judges, and thirty-three assessors, of whom many had their scribes seated at their feet. On another scaffold, in the midst of huissiers81 and torturers, was Jeanne, in male attire, and also notaries to take down her confessions, and a preacher to admonish her; and, at its foot, among the crowd, was remarked a strange auditor, the executioner upon his cart, ready to bear her off as soon as she should be adjudged his.

The preacher on this day, a famous doctor, Guillaume Erard, conceived himself bound, on so fine an opportunity, to give the reins to his eloquence; and by his zeal he spoiled all. "O noble house of France," he exclaimed, "which wast ever wont to be protectress of the faith, how hast thou been abused to ally thyself with a heretic and schismatic!" So far the accused had listened patiently; but when the preacher, turning toward her, 358said to her, raising his finger: "It is to thee, Jeanne, that I address myself; and I tell thee that thy King is a heretic and schismatic," the admirable girl, forgetting all her danger, burst forth with, "On my faith, sir, with all due respect, I undertake to tell you, and to swear, on pain of my life, that he is the noblest Christian of all Christians, the sincerest lover of the faith and of the Church, and not what you call him."

"Silence her," called out Cauchon.

The accused adhered to what she had said. All they could obtain from her was her consent to submit herself to the Pope. Cauchon replied, "The Pope is too far off." He then began to read the sentence of condemnation, which had been drawn up beforehand, and in which, among other things, it was specified: "And furthermore, you have obstinately persisted, in refusing to submit yourself to the holy Father and to the council," etc. Meanwhile, Loyseleur and Erard conjured her to have pity on herself; on which the Bishop, catching at a shadow of hope, discontinued his reading. This drove the English mad; and one of Winchester's secretaries told Cauchon it was clear that he favored the girl—a charge repeated by the Cardinal's chaplain. "Thou art a liar," exclaimed the Bishop. "And thou," was the retort, "art a traitor to the King." These grave personages seemed to be on the point of going to cuffs on the judgment-seat.

Erard, not discouraged, threatened, prayed. One while he said, "Jeanne, we pity you so!" and another, "Abjure or be burned!" All present evinced an interest in the matter, down even to a worthy catchpole (huissier), who, touched with compassion, besought her to give way, assuring her that she should be taken out of the hands of the English and placed in those of the Church. "Well, then," she said, "I will sign." On this Cauchon, turning to the Cardinal, respectfully inquired what was to be done next. "Admit her to do penance," replied the ecclesiastical prince.

Winchester's secretary drew out of his sleeve a brief revocation, only six lines long—that which was given to the world took up six pages—and put a pen in her hand, but she could not sign. She smiled and drew a circle: the secretary took her hand and guided it to make a cross.

359The sentence of grace was a most severe one: "Jeanne, we condemn you, out of our grace and moderation, to pass the rest of your days in prison, on the bread of grief and water of anguish, and so to mourn your sins."

She was admitted by the ecclesiastical judge to do penance, no doubt, nowhere save in the prisons of the Church. The ecclesiastic in pace, however severe it might be, would at the least withdraw her from the hands of the English, place her under shelter from their insults, save her honor. Judge of her surprise and despair when the Bishop coldly said, "Take her back whence you brought her."

Nothing was done; deceived on this wise, she could not fail to retract her retractation. Yet, though she had abided by it, the English in their fury would not have allowed her to escape. They had come to St. Ouen in the hope of at last burning the sorceress, had waited panting and breathless to this end; and now they were to be dismissed on this fashion, paid with a slip of parchment, a signature, a grimace. At the very moment the Bishop discontinued reading the sentence of condemnation, stones flew upon the scaffolding without any respect for the Cardinal. The doctors were in peril of their lives as they came down from their seats into the public place; swords were in all directions pointed at their throats. The more moderate among the English confined themselves to insulting language—"Priests, you are not earning the King's money." The doctors, making off in all haste, said tremblingly, "Do not be uneasy, we shall soon have her again."

And it was not the soldiery alone, not the English mob, always so ferocious, which displayed this thirst for blood. The better born, the great, the lords, were no less sanguinary. The King's man, his tutor, the Earl of Warwick, said like the soldiers: "The King's business goes on badly; the girl will not be burned."

According to English notions, Warwick was the mirror of worthiness, the accomplished Englishman, the perfect gentleman. Brave and devout, like his master, Henry V, and the zealous champion of the Established Church, he had performed the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as well as many other chivalrous expeditions. With all his chivalry, Warwick was not the less360 savagely eager for the death of a woman, and one who was, too, a prisoner of war. The best and the most looked-up-to of the English was as little deterred by honorable scruples as the rest of his countrymen from putting to death on the award of priests, and by fire, her who had humbled them by the sword.

The Jews never exhibited the rage against Jesus which the English did against the Pucelle. It must be owned that she had wounded them cruelly in the most sensible part—in the simple but deep esteem they have for themselves. At Orleans the invincible men-at-arms, the famous archers, Talbot at their head, had shown their backs; at Jargeau, sheltered by the good walls of a fortified town, they had suffered themselves to be taken; at Patay they had fled as fast as their legs would carry them, fled before a girl. This was hard to be borne, and these taciturn English were forever pondering over the disgrace. They had been afraid of a girl, and it was not very certain but that, chained as she was, they felt fear of her still, though, seemingly, not of her, but of the devil, whose agent she was. At least, they endeavored both to believe and to have it believed so.

But there was an obstacle in the way of this, for she was said to be a virgin; and it was a notorious and well-ascertained fact that the devil could not make a compact with a virgin. The coolest head among the English, Bedford,82 the regent, resolved to have the point cleared up; and his wife, the Duchess, intrusted the matter to some matrons, who declared Jeanne to be a maid; a favorable declaration which turned against her by giving rise to another superstitious notion; to wit, that her virginity constituted her strength, her power, and that to deprive her of it was to disarm her, was to break the charm, and lower her to the level of other women.

The poor girl's only defence against such a danger had been wearing male attire; though, strange to say, no one had ever seemed able to understand her motive for wearing it. All, both friends and enemies, were scandalized by it. At the outset, she had been obliged to explain her reasons to the woman of Poitiers; and when made prisoner, and under the care of the 361ladies of Luxemburg, those excellent persons prayed her to clothe herself as honest girls were wont to do. Above all, the English ladies, who have always made a parade of chastity and modesty, must have considered her so disguising herself monstrous and insufferably indecent. The Duchess of Bedford sent her female attire; but by whom? By a man, a tailor. The fellow, with impudent familiarity, was about to pass it over her head, and, when she pushed him away, laid his unmannnerly hand upon her—his tailor's hand on that hand which had borne the flag of France. She boxed his ears.

If women could not understand this feminine question, how much less could priests! They quoted the text of a council held in the fourth century, which anathematized such changes of dress; not seeing that the prohibition specially applied to a period when manners had been barely retrieved from pagan impurities. The doctors belonging to the party of Charles VII, the apologists of the Pucelle, find exceeding difficulty in justifying her on this head. One of them—thought to be Gerson—- makes the gratuitous supposition that the moment she dismounted from her horse, she was in the habit of resuming woman's apparel; confessing that Esther and Judith had had recourse to more natural and feminine means for their triumphs over the enemies of God's people. Entirely preoccupied with the soul, these theologians seem to have held the body cheap; provided the letter, the written law, be followed, the soul will be saved; the flesh may take its chance. A poor and simple girl may be pardoned her inability to distinguish so clearly.

On the Friday and the Saturday the unfortunate prisoner, despoiled of her man's dress, had much to fear. Brutality, furious hatred, vengeance, might severally incite the cowards to degrade her before she perished, to sully what they were about to burn. Besides, they might be tempted to varnish their infamy by a "reason of state," according to the notions of the day—by depriving her of her virginity they would undoubtedly destroy that secret power of which the English entertained such great dread, who perhaps might recover their courage when they knew that, after all, she was but a woman. According to her confessor, to whom she divulged the fact, an Englishman, not a common soldier, but a gentleman, a lord, patriotically362 devoted himself to this execution—bravely undertook to violate a girl laden with fetters, and, being unable to effect his wishes, rained blows upon her.

"On the Sunday morning, Trinity Sunday, when it was time for her to rise—as she told him who speaks—she said to her English guards, 'Leave me, that I may get up.' One of them took off her woman's dress, emptied the bag in which was the man's apparel, and said to her, 'Get up.' 'Gentlemen,' she said, 'you know that dress is forbidden me; excuse me, I will not put it on.' The point was contested till noon; when, being compelled to go out for some bodily want, she put it on. When she came back, they would give her no other, despite her entreaties."

In reality, it was not to the interest of the English that she should resume her man's dress, and so make null and void a retractation obtained with such difficulty. But at this moment, their rage no longer knew any bounds. Saintrailles had just made a bold attempt upon Rouen. It would have been a lucky hit to have swept off the judges from the judgment seat, and have carried Winchester and Bedford to Poitiers; the latter was, subsequently, all but taken on his return, between Rouen and Paris. As long as this accursed girl lived, who beyond a doubt continued in prison to practise her sorceries, there was no safety for the English; perish she must.

The assessors, who had notice instantly given them of her change of dress, found some hundred English in the court to obstruct their passage; who, thinking that if these doctors entered they might spoil all, threatened them with their axes and swords, and chased them out, calling them "traitors of Armagnacs." Cauchon, introduced with much difficulty, assumed an air of gayety to pay his court to Warwick, and said with a laugh, "She is caught."

On the Monday he returned, along with the Inquisitor and eight assessors, to question the Pucelle, and ask her why she had resumed that dress. She made no excuse, but, bravely facing the danger, said that the dress was fitter for her as long as she was guarded by men, and that faith had not been kept with her. Her saints, too, had told her "that it was great pity she had abjured to save her life." Still, she did not refuse to resume363 woman's dress. "Put me in a seemly and safe prison," she said; "I will be good, and do whatever the Church shall wish."

On leaving her the Bishop encountered Warwick and a crowd of English; and to show himself a good Englishman he said in their tongue, "Farewell, farewell." This joyous adieu was about synonymous with "Good evening, good evening; all's over."

On the Tuesday, the judges got up at the Archbishop's palace a court of assessors as they best might; some of them had assisted at the first sittings only, others at none; in fact, composed of men of all sorts, priests, legists, and even three physicians. The judges recapitulated to them what had taken place, and asked their opinion. This opinion, quite different from what was expected, was that the prisoner should be summoned, and her act of abjuration be read over to her. Whether this was in the power of the judges is doubtful. In the midst of the fury and swords of a raging soldiery, there was in reality no judge, and no possibility of judgment. Blood was the one thing wanted; and that of the judges was, perhaps, not far from flowing. They hastily drew up a summons, to be served the next morning at eight o'clock; she was not to appear, save to be burned.

Cauchon sent her a confessor in the morning, brother Martin l'Advenu, "to prepare her for her death, and persuade her to repentance. And when he apprised her of the death she was to die that day, she began to cry out grievously, to give way, and tear her hair: 'Alas! am I to be treated so horribly and cruelly? must my body, pure as from birth, and which was never contaminated, be this day consumed and reduced to ashes? Ha! ha! I would rather be beheaded seven times over than be burned on this wise! Oh! I make my appeal to God, the great judge of the wrongs and grievances done me!'"

After this burst of grief, she recovered herself and confessed; she then asked to communicate. The brother was embarrassed; but, consulting the Bishop, the latter told him to administer the sacrament, "and whatever else she might ask." Thus, at the very moment he condemned her as a relapsed heretic, and cut her off from the Church, he gave her all that the Church gives to her faithful. Perhaps a last sentiment of humanity awoke in the364 heart of the wicked judge; he considered it enough to burn the poor creature, without driving her to despair, and damning her. Besides, it was attempted to do it privately, and the eucharist was brought without stole and light. But the monk complained, and the Church of Rouen, duly warned, was delighted to show what it thought of the judgment pronounced by Cauchon; it sent along with the body of Christ numerous torches and a large escort of priests, who sang litanies, and, as they passed through the streets, told the kneeling people, "Pray for her."

After partaking of the communion, which she received with abundance of tears, she perceived the Bishop, and addressed him with the words, "Bishop, I die through you." And, again, "Had you put me in the prisons of the Church, and given me ghostly keepers, this would not have happened. And for this I summon you to answer before God."

Then, seeing among the bystanders Pierre Morice, one of the preachers by whom she had been addressed, she said to him, "Ah, Master Pierre, where shall I be this evening?"

"Have you not good hope in the Lord?"

"Oh! yes; God to aid, I shall be in paradise."

It was nine o'clock: she was dressed in female attire, and placed on a cart. On one side of her was brother Martin l'Advenu; the constable, Massieu, was on the other. The Augustine monk, Brother Isambart, who had already displayed much charity and courage, would not quit her.

Up to this moment the Pucelle had never despaired, with the exception, perhaps, of her temptation in the Passion Week. While saying, as she at times would say, "These English will kill me," she in reality did not think so. She did not imagine that she could ever be deserted. She had faith in her King, in the good people of France. She had said expressly: "There will be some disturbance, either in prison or at the trial, by which I shall be delivered, greatly, victoriously delivered." But though King and people deserted her, she had another source of aid, and a far more powerful and certain one from her friends above, her kind and dear saints. When she was assaulting St. Pierre, and deserted by her followers, her saints sent an invisible army to her aid. How could they abandon their obedient girl, they who had so often promised her "safety and deliverance"?

365What then must her thoughts have been when she saw that she must die; when, carried in a cart, she passed through a trembling crowd, under the guard of eight hundred Englishmen armed with sword and lance? She wept and bemoaned herself, yet reproached neither her King nor her saints. She was only heard to utter, "O Rouen, Rouen! must I then die here?"

The term of her sad journey was the old market-place, the fish-market. Three scaffolds had been raised; on one was the episcopal and royal chair, the throne of the Cardinal of England, surrounded by the stalls of his prelates; on another were to figure the principal personages of the mournful drama, the preacher, the judges, and the bailiff, and, lastly, the condemned one; apart was a large scaffolding of plaster, groaning under a weight of wood—nothing had been grudged the stake, which struck terror by its height alone. This was not only to add to the solemnity of the execution, but was done with the intent that, from the height to which it was reared, the executioner might not get at it save at the base, and that to light it only, so that he would be unable to cut short the torments and relieve the sufferer, as he did with others, sparing them the flames.

On this occasion the important point was that justice should not be defrauded of her due or a dead body be committed to the flames; they desired that she should be really burned alive, and that, placed on the summit of this mountain of wood, and commanding the circle of lances and of swords, she might be seen from every part of the market-place. There was reason to suppose that being slowly, tediously burned, before the eyes of a curious crowd, she might at last be surprised into some weakness, that something might escape her which could be set down as a disavowal, at the least some confused words which might be interpreted at pleasure, perhaps low prayers, humiliating cries for mercy, such as proceed from a woman in despair.

The frightful ceremony began with a sermon. Master Nicolas Midy, one of the lights of the University of Paris, preached upon the edifying text: "When one limb of the Church is sick, the whole Church is sick." He wound up with the formula: "Jeanne, go in peace; the Church can no longer defend thee."

The ecclesiastical judge, the Bishop of Beauvais, then benignly366 exhorted her to take care of her soul and to recall all her misdeeds, in order that she might awaken to true repentance. The assessors had ruled that it was the law to read over her abjuration to her; the Bishop did nothing of the sort. He feared her denials, her disclaimers. But the poor girl had no thought of so chicaning away life; her mind was fixed on far other subjects. Even before she was exhorted to repentance, she had knelt down and invoked God, the Virgin, St. Michael, and St. Catharine, pardoning all and asking pardon, saying to the bystanders, "Pray for me!" In particular, she besought the priests to say each a mass for her soul. And all this so devoutly, humbly, and touchingly that, sympathy becoming contagious, no one could any longer contain himself; the Bishop of Beauvais melted into tears, the Bishop of Boulogne sobbed, and the very English cried and wept as well, Winchester with the rest.

Might it be in this moment of universal tenderness, of tears, of contagious weakness, that the unhappy girl, softened, and relapsing into the mere woman, confessed that she saw clearly she had erred, and that, apparently, she had been deceived when promised deliverance? This is a point on which we cannot implicitly rely on the interested testimony of the English. Nevertheless, it would betray scant knowledge of human nature to doubt, with her hopes so frustrated, her having wavered in her faith. Whether she confessed to this effect in words is uncertain; but I will confidently affirm that she owned it in thought.

Meanwhile the judges, for a moment put out of countenance, had recovered their usual bearing, and the Bishop of Beauvais, drying his eyes, began to read the act of condemnation. He reminded the guilty one of all her crimes, of her schism, idolatry, invocation of demons, how she had been admitted to repentance, and how, "seduced by the Prince of Lies, she had fallen, O grief! 'like the dog which returns to his vomit.' Therefore, we pronounce you to be a rotten limb, and, as such, to be lopped off from the Church. We deliver you over to the secular power, praying it at the same time to relax its sentence and to spare you death and the mutilation of your members."

Deserted thus by the Church, she put her whole trust in God. She asked for the cross. An Englishman handed her a cross367 which he made out of a stick; she took it, rudely fashioned as it was, with not less devotion, kissed it, and placed it under her garments, next to her skin. But what she desired was the crucifix belonging to the Church, to have it before her eyes till she breathed her last. The good huissier Massieu and Brother Isambart interfered with such effect that it was brought her from St. Sauveur's. While she was embracing this crucifix, and Brother Isambart was encouraging her, the English began to think all this exceedingly tedious; it was now noon at least; the soldiers grumbled, and the captains called out: "What's this, priest; do you mean us to dine here?"

Then, losing patience, and without waiting for the order from the bailiff, who alone had authority to dismiss her to death, they sent two constables to take her out of the hands of the priests. She was seized at the foot of the tribunal by the men-at-arms, who dragged her to the executioner with the words, "Do thy office." The fury of the soldiery filled all present with horror; and many there, even of the judges, fled the spot, that they might see no more.

When she found herself brought down to the market-place, surrounded by English, laying rude hands on her, nature asserted her rights and the flesh was troubled. Again she cried out, "O Rouen, thou art then to be my last abode!" She said no more, and, in this hour of fear and trouble, did not sin with her lips.

She accused neither her King nor her holy ones. But when she set foot on the top of the pile, on viewing this great city, this motionless and silent crowd, she could not refrain from exclaiming, "Ah! Rouen, Rouen, much do I fear you will suffer from my death!" She who had saved the people, and whom that people deserted, gave voice to no other sentiment when dying—admirable sweetness of soul!—than that of compassion for it.

She was made fast under the infamous placard, mitred with a mitre on which was read, "Heretic, relapser, apostate, idolater."

And then the executioner set fire to the pile. She saw this from above and uttered a cry. Then, as the brother who was exhorting her paid no attention to the fire, forgetting herself in her fear for him, she insisted on his descending.

368The proof that up to this period she had made no express recantation is, that the unhappy Cauchon was obliged—no doubt by the high satanic will which presided over the whole—to proceed to the foot of the pile, obliged to face his victim to endeavor to extract some admission from her. All that he obtained was a few words, enough to rack his soul. She said to him mildly what she had already said: "Bishop, I die through you. If you had put me into the Church prisons, this would not have happened." No doubt hopes had been entertained that, on finding herself abandoned by her King, she would at last accuse and defame him. To the last, she defended him: "Whether I have done well or ill, my King is faultless; it was not he who counselled me."

Meanwhile the flames rose. When they first seized her, the unhappy girl shrieked for holy water—this must have been the cry of fear. But, soon recovering, she called only on God, on her angels and her saints. She bore witness to them, "Yes, my voices were from God, my voices have not deceived me." The fact that all her doubts vanished at this trying moment must be taken as a proof that she accepted death as the promised deliverance; that she no longer understood her salvation in the Judaic and material sense, as until now she had done, that at length she saw clearly; and that, rising above all shadows, her gifts of illumination and of sanctity were at the final hour made perfect unto her.

The great testimony she thus bore is attested by the sworn and compelled witness of her death, by the Dominican who mounted the pile with her, whom she forced to descend, but who spoke to her from its foot, listened to her, and held out to her the crucifix.

There is yet another witness of this sainted death, a most grave witness, who must himself have been a saint. This witness, whose name history ought to preserve, was the Augustine monk already mentioned, Brother Isambart de la Pierre. During the trial he had hazarded his life by counselling the Pucelle, and yet, though so clearly pointed out to the hate of the English, he persisted in accompanying her in the cart, procured the parish crucifix for her, and comforted her in the midst of the raging multitude, both on the scaffold where she was interrogated and at the stake.

369Twenty years afterward, the two venerable friars, simple monks, vowed to poverty and having nothing to hope or fear in this world, bear witness to the scene we have just described: "We heard her," they say, "in the midst of the flames invoke her saints, her archangel; several times she called on her Saviour. At the last, as her head sunk on her bosom, she shrieked, 'Jesus!'"

"Ten thousand men wept. A few of the English alone laughed, or endeavored to laugh. One of the most furious among them had sworn that he would throw a fagot on the pile. Just as he brought it she breathed her last. He was taken ill. His comrades led him to a tavern to recruit his spirits by drink, but he was beyond recovery. 'I saw,' he exclaimed, in his frantic despair, 'I saw a dove fly out of her mouth with her last sigh.' Others had read in the flames the word 'Jesus,' which she so often repeated. The executioner repaired in the evening to Brother Isambart, full of consternation, and confessed himself; he felt persuaded that God would never pardon him. One of the English King's secretaries said aloud, on returning from the dismal scene: 'We are lost; we have burned a saint.'"

Though these words fell from an enemy's mouth, they are not the less important, and will live, uncontradicted by the future. Yes, whether considered religiously or patriotically, Jeanne d'Arc was a saint.

Where find a finer legend than this true history? Still, let us beware of converting it into a legend; let us piously preserve its every trait, even such as are most akin to human nature, and respect its terrible and touching reality.83




A.D. 1438


"No two words," says Smedley, "convey less distinct meaning to English ears than 'pragmatic sanction.' Perhaps 'a well-considered ordinance' may in some degree represent them, i.e., an ordinance which has been fully discussed by men practised in state affairs." Carlyle defines "pragmatic sanction" as "the received title for ordinances of a very irrevocable nature, which a sovereign makes in affairs that belong wholly to himself, or what he reckons his own rights." A dictionary definition calls it "an imperial edict operating as a fundamental law." The term was probably first applied to certain decrees of the Byzantine emperors for regulating their provinces and towns, and later it was given to imperial decrees in the West. In the present case it is applied to the limitations set to the power of the pope in France.

In the Council of Constance, 1414-1418, at which decrees were passed subordinating the pope as well as the whole Church to the authority of a general council, Gallican or French opinion on this subject won its first great victory. But this triumph introduced into the Western Church an element of strife which resulted in calamities scarcely less grave than those of the Great Schism of 1378-1417, during which different parties adhered to rival popes. From the Council of Constance may be dated the formal divergence of the Gallican from the Ultramontane or strictly Roman church government.

Pope Martin V, who was elected by the Council of Constance after it had deposed John XXIII, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII, is generally considered to have assented to all its decrees. In 1431, on the death of Martin V, Eugenius IV succeeded to the papal throne. A council had been convened at Pavia in 1423. After a few weeks it was transferred to Siena, and subsequently to Basel. Fearing that it would follow the policy of Constance, Eugenius (1431) attempted to dissolve it and to have it reconvened at Bologna under his own eye. A rupture followed between Pope and council, resulting in years of confused strife.

In all this confusion our historians, Jervis and Rohrbacher, distinguish the leading events, the most significant of which was the issuing 371of the Pragmatic Sanction by Charles VII of France. This ordinance is known, from the place of its promulgation, as the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, and is sometimes called the "Palladium of France," also the "Magna Charta of the Gallican Church."


THE position assumed by the Gallican Church at this junction was peculiar and in some respects questionable. It declared decidedly in favor of the Council of Basel; many French prelates repaired thither, and ambassadors were sent by the King, Charles VII, to Pope Eugenius, to beseech him to support the authority of the synod, and to protest against its dissolution. The fathers stood firm at their posts, appealing to the principles solemnly asserted at Constance, that the pope is bound in certain specified cases to submit to an ecumenical council, and that the latter cannot be translated, prorogued, or dissolved without its own consent. The gift of infallibility, they affirmed, resides in the collective Church. It does not belong to the popes, several of whom have erred concerning the faith. The Church alone has authority to enact laws which are binding on the whole body of the faithful.

Now, the authority of general councils is identical with that of the Church. This was expressly determined by the Council of Constance, and acknowledged by Pope Martin V. The pope is the ministerial head of the Church, but he is not its absolute sovereign; on the contrary, facts prove that he is subject to the jurisdiction of the Church; for well-known instances are on record of popes being deposed on the score of erroneous doctrine and immoral life, whereas no pope has ever attempted to condemn or excommunicate the Church. Both the pope and the Church have received authority to bind and loose; but the Church has practically exerted that authority against the pope, whereas the latter has never ventured to take any such step against the Church. In fine, the words of Christ himself are decisive of the question—"If any man neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto you as a heathen man and a publican." This injunction was addressed to St. Peter equally with the rest of the disciples.

The council proceeded to cite Eugenius by a formal monition to appear in person at Basel; and on his failing to comply, they372 signified that on the expiration of a further interval of sixty days ulterior means would be put in force against him. Their firmness, added to the pressing solicitations of the emperor Sigismund, at length induced the Pope to yield. He reconciled himself with the council in December, 1433; acknowledged that it had been legitimately convoked; approved its proceedings up to that date; and cancelled the act by which he had pronounced its dissolution.

Elated by their triumph, the Basilian fathers commenced in earnest the task of Church reform, and passed several decrees of a character vexatious to the Pope, particularly one for the total abolition of annates. A second breach was the consequence. Eugenius, under pretence of furthering the negotiation then pending for the reunion of the Greek and Latin branches of the Church, published in 1437 a bull dissolving the Council of Basel, and summoning another to meet at Ferrara. The assembly at Basel retorted by declaring the Pope contumacious, and suspending him from the exercise of all authority. Both parties proceeded eventually to the last extremities. The council, after proclaiming afresh, as "Catholic verities," that a general council has power over the pope, and cannot be transferred or dissolved but by its own act, passed a definitive sentence in its thirty-fourth session, June 25, 1439, deposing Eugenius from the papal throne. The Pope retaliated by stigmatizing the Fathers of Basel as schismatical and heretical, cancelling their acts, and excommunicating their president, the Cardinal Archbishop of Arles.

Meanwhile an energetic and independent line of action was adopted by the Government in France. The Crown, in concert with the heads of the Church, availed itself of a train of events, which had so seriously damaged the prestige of the papacy to make a decisive advance in the path of practical reform and to establish the long-cherished Gallican privileges on a secure basis. For this purpose Charles VII assembled a great national council at Bourges, in July, 1438, at which he presided in person, surrounded by the princes of his family and by all the most eminent dignitaries spiritual and temporal; and here was promulgated the memorable ordinance known as the "Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges."

373The French Church, it must be observed, did not recognize the deposition of Pope Eugenius, but adhered to his obedience, rejecting Felix V, whom the Council of Basel elected to succeed him, as a pretender. It continued, nevertheless, to support the council and to assert its supreme legislative authority. Hence there arises a considerable difficulty in limine as to the character of the proceedings at Bourges. For the deposition of Eugenius was either a rightful and valid exercise of conciliar authority or it was not. If it was not—if the council had wrongfully or uncanonically condemned the successor of Peter—how could it be infallible? and when should its legislation in any other particulars be indisputable? On the other hand, if the deposition was a valid one, with what consistency could the French continue to regard Eugenius as their legitimate pastor? It was a knotty dilemma.

The position, however, though logically open to objections, was not without its practical advantages. For, since France maintained a good understanding with both the contending parties, both found it conducive to their interests to send deputations to the Council of Bourges: Pope Eugenius, with a view to obtain its support for the rival council which he had opened at Ferrara; the Fathers of Basel, in order to make known their decrees, which, as agreeing with the received doctrine of Gallican theologians, would, it was hoped, meet with a cordial welcome throughout France. The assembly at Bourges did not fail to profit by these exceptional circumstances. It accepted the decrees of Basel, yet not absolutely, but after critical examination and with certain modification; a course which, by implication, asserted a right to legislate for the concerns of the French Church even independently of a general council acknowledged to be orthodox. The following explanation of this proceeding was inserted in the preamble of the celebrated statute agreed upon by the authorities at Bourges. It is there stated that this policy was adopted, "not from any hesitation as to the authority of the Council of Basel to enact ecclesiastical decrees, but because it was judged advisable, under the circumstances and requirements of the French realm and nation." So that it appears, on the whole, that while the French professed great zeal on this occasion for the dogma of the superiority of a374 general council over the pope, the principle practically illustrated at Bourges was that of a supremacy of a national council over every other ecclesiastical authority. Such were the anomalies which arose out of the strange necessities of the time.

The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges embraces twenty-three articles. The first treats of the authority of general councils, and of the time and manner of convening and celebrating them. The second relates to ecclesiastical elections, which are enjoined to be made hereafter in strict accordance with the canons, by the cathedral, collegiate, and conventual chapters. Reserves, annates, and "expective graces" are abolished; the rights of patrons are to be respected, provided their nominees be graduates of the universities and otherwise well qualified. The pope retains only a veto in case of unfitness or uncanonical election, and the nominations to benefices "in curia vacantia," i.e., of which the incumbents may happen to die at Rome or within two days' journey of the pontifical residence. The king and other princes may occasionally recommend or request the promotion of persons of special merit, but without threats or violent pressure of any kind.

Other articles regulate the order of ecclesiastical appeals, which, with the exception of the "causa majores" specified by law, and those relating to the elections in cathedral and conventual churches, are henceforth to be decided on the spot by the ordinary judges; appeals are to be carried in all cases to the court immediately superior; no case to be referred to the pope "omisso medio," i.e., without passing through the intermediate tribunals. The remaining clauses consist of regulations for the performance of divine service, and various matters of discipline. The reader will remember that Pope Eugenius, on the occasion of his temporary reconciliation with the Council of Basel in 1433, expressed his approbation of all its synodal acts up to that date; and this sanction of their validity is held by Gallicans to extend to the period of the second and final rupture in 1437. It follows that the provisions of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, so far as they coincide with the decrees of Basel prior to 1437, were authorized by the holy see; and this includes them all, with two exceptions.

The Pragmatic Sanction was registered by the Parliament of375 Paris on July 13, 1439; becoming thereby part of the statute law of France. Its publication caused universal satisfaction throughout the kingdom. At Rome, on the other hand, it was indignantly censured and resolutely opposed. Eugenius IV vainly strove to obtain the King's consent to an alteration of some of its details. Nicholas V protested against it without effect; but the superior genius and subtle measures of Pius II were more successful. This Pontiff denounced the Pragmatic at the Council of Mantua in 1460 as "a blot which disfigured the Church of France; a decree which no ecumenical council would have passed nor any pope have confirmed; a principle of confusion in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Since it had been in force, the laity had become the masters and judges of the clergy; the power of the spiritual sword could no longer be exerted except at the good pleasure of the secular authority. The Roman pontiff, whose diocese embraced the world, whose jurisdiction is not bounded even by the ocean, possessed only such extent of power in France as the parliament might see fit to allow him." The ambassadors of Charles VII, however, reminded his holiness that the Pragmatic Sanction was founded on the canons of Constance and Basel, which had been ratified by his predecessors; and when the Pope proceeded to threaten France with the interdict, and to prohibit all appeal from his decisions to a future council, the King caused his procureur-general, Jean Dauvet, to publish an official protest against these acts of violence, concluding with a solemn appeal to the judgment of the Church Catholic assembled by the representation. While awaiting that event, Charles declared himself resolved to uphold the laws and regulations which had been sanctioned by previous councils.

Louis XI, urged by alternate menaces, entreaties, and flattery from Rome, revoked the Pragmatic Sanction shortly after his accession. This step accorded well with his own arbitrary temper; for he could not endure the privilege of free election by the cathedral and monastic chapters; nor was he less jealous of the influence exerted, under the shelter of that privilege, by the high feudal nobility in the disposal of church preferment. He seems to have expected, moreover, that while ostensibly conceding the right of patronage to the apostolic see, he should be able to retain the real power in his own hands. The event disappointed376 his calculations. No sooner was the decree of Bourges rescinded than the Pope resumed and enforced his claim to the provision of benefices in France. Simony and the whole train of concomitant abuses reappeared more scandalously than ever; and Louis found himself despised by his subjects as the dupe of papal artifice.

The parliamentary courts, meanwhile, assumed a determined attitude in defence of the right of election guaranteed by the Pragmatic Sanction. They pronounced the abolition of that act illegal, and treated it as null and void; they insisted on their own authority in entertaining appeals against ecclesiastical abuses; they eagerly supported anyone who showed a disposition to withstand the pretensions of Rome in the matter of patronage. The King, smarting under the trickery of the Pope, made no attempt to restrain them in this line of conduct; and the result was that the repeal of the Pragmatic Sanction was never fully executed, having never been legalized by the forms of the constitution. On the other hand, the popes so far maintained the advantage they had extorted from Louis that the ancient franchise of the Church as to elections became virtually extinct in France.

Things remained in this unsettled state during the reigns of Louis XI, Charles VIII, and Louis XII. The latter Prince, on coming to the throne, published an edict reëstablishing the Pragmatic Sanction; and this step, added to his ambitious enterprises in Italy, brought him into hostile collision with Pope Julius II. The King, unwilling to make war on the head of the Church without some semblance of ecclesiastical sanction, convoked a council at Tours in September, 1510, and consulted the clergy on a series of questions arising out of the disturbed state of his relations with Rome. They decided, in accordance with the known views and wishes of the sovereign, that it is lawful for an independent prince, if unjustly attacked, to defend himself against the pope by force of arms; to withdraw for a time from his obedience; to take possession of the territory of the Church, not with the purpose of retaining it, but as a temporary measure of self-protection; and to resist the pretensions of the pontiff to powers not rightfully belonging to him. Citations to appear in Rome might, under such circumstances, be safely disregarded;377 as also papal censures, which would be null and void. If the emergency should arise, the council added, the king ought to be governed by the ancient principles of ecclesiastical law, as confirmed and reënacted by the Pragmatic Sanction.

The Gallican clergy sent a deputation to Pope Julius on this occasion to entreat him to adopt a more conciliatory policy toward the princes of Christendom; and they determined, in case their advice should be fruitless, to demand the convocation of a general council to take cognizance of the Pope's conduct, and prescribe the measures necessary for the guidance and welfare of the Church. An ecclesiastical congress, calling itself a council-general, but altogether unworthy of that august title, was held, in fact, in the following year at Pisa, under the auspices of the King of France and the emperor Maximilian. The Pope refused to appear there, and convoked a rival synod at Rome, summoning the cardinals who had authorized the meeting at Pisa to present themselves at his court within sixty days. On the expiration of this term he publicly excommunicated them, degraded them from their dignity, and deprived them of their preferments.

Thus the Western Church once more exhibited the spectacle of a "house divided against itself," as during the scandalous strife between the synods of Basel and Florence; and for some time a formal schism appeared imminent. The so-called Council of Pisa consisted of the four rebellious cardinals, twenty Gallican prelates, several abbots and other dignitaries, the envoys of the King of France, deputies from some of the French universities, and a considerable number of doctors of the Faculty of Paris. This assembly justified its position on the ground that there are extraordinary cases in which a council may be called without the intervention of the pope; and that, since the present Pontiff had neglected to obey the decree of the Council of Constance which enjoined a similar celebration at the interval of every ten years, the cardinals were bound to take the initiative in the matter, according to a solemn engagement which they had made in the conclave when Julius was elected. After repeating the stereotyped formula concerning the supreme authority of general councils, and the imperative necessity of a reformation of the Church in its head and in its members, the fathers addressed378 themselves professedly to the herculean task thus indicated; but little or nothing was effected of any practical importance.


Charles held an assembly at Bourges in the month of July, 1438. He attended this himself, with the Dauphin, his son, afterward Louis XI, many princes of the blood, and other nobles, with a great number of bishops and doctors of the Church. The deputies of Pope Eugenius IV and those of the prelates of Basel were heard one after another.

The result of this Assembly of Bourges was an ordinance and twenty-three articles which were called the "Pragmatic Sanction," a name introduced under the ancient emperors. In this were adopted, sometimes with modifications, most of the decrees of Basel. Among them the first was conceived in these terms: "General councils shall be held every ten years, and the pope, according to the opinion of the council which is closing, shall designate the place of the next council, which cannot be changed except for most important reasons and by the advice of the cardinals. As to the authority of the general council, the decrees published at Constance are renewed, by which it is said that the general council holds its power immediately from Jesus Christ; that all persons, even of papal dignity, are subject to it in that which regards the faith, the extirpation of schism, and the reformation of the Church in the head and in the members; and that all must obey it, even the pope, who is punishable if he transgresses it. Consequently, the Council of Basel states that it is legitimately assembled in the Holy Ghost, and that no one, not even the pope, can dissolve, transfer, nor prolong it, without the consent of the fathers of the council."

The other articles may be reduced principally to the following propositions: Canonical elections shall be held, and the pope shall not reserve the bishoprics and other elective benefices. Expectant pardons shall be abolished. Graduates shall be preferred to others in the conferring of benefices, and for this reason they shall suggest their degrees during Lent. All ecclesiastical causes of the provinces at a distance of four days' journey 379from Rome shall be tried in the place where they arise, except major causes and those of churches which are immediately dependent on the holy see. In the case of appeals, the order of the tribunals shall be preserved. No one shall ever appeal to the pope without passing previously through the intermediate tribunal. If anyone, believing himself injured by an intermediate tribunal subject to the pope, makes an appeal to the holy see, the pope shall name the judges from the same places, unless there should be important reasons for bringing the cause directly to Rome. Frivolous appeals are punished. The celebration of divine service is regulated and spectacles in churches are forbidden. The abuse of ecclesiastical censures is repressed, and it is declared that no one is obliged to shun excommunicated persons, unless they have been proclaimed by name, or else that the censure shall be so notorious that it cannot be denied or excused. Such are the principal matters of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. It was registered at the Parliament of Paris, July 13, 1439; but the King ordered its execution from the day of its date, 1438.

The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges had a little defect; it was radically null; for every contract is null which is not consented to by both of the contracting parties. Now the Pragmatic Sanction was a contract between the churches of France and the pope to regulate their mutual relations. The consent of the pope to it was therefore absolutely necessary, the more especially as he was the superior. For if one must admit that a general council is superior to the pope, the Assembly of Bourges was certainly not a general council. Moreover, the first use that it made of its Pragmatic Sanction was to break it—and happily. In its first articles, it had recognized the Council of Basel as ecumenical and as superior to Pope Eugenius IV, with obligation to everyone to obey its decrees. Now, the following year, 1439, the Council of Basel deposes Eugenius IV, and substitutes for him Felix V, with obligation to everyone, under penalty of anathema, to reject the first and submit to the second. Nevertheless France does neither the one nor the other; she continues to recognize Eugenius IV, and derides the pope of Ripaille and of Basel, as she will declare in a new assembly of Bourges in 1440. Above certain laws which men write on sheets of paper, with a goose-quill and ink, they bear in themselves another law, written380 by the hand of God, and which is good sense. Happy the nations which never depart from this living and general law, or which, at least, know enough to return to it promptly!

Accordingly, September 2, 1440, in the new Assembly of Bourges, King Charles VII published a declaration by which he commanded all his subjects to yield obedience to Pope Eugenius, with prohibition to recognize another pope or to circulate among the public any letters or despatches bearing the name of any other one whomsoever who pretended to the pontificate. Nevertheless, Monsieur de Savoie, for so Charles VII called the antipope, was united to him by ties of blood. This declaration of the King and of the Assembly of Bourges was religiously observed in all France, except in the University of Paris, where they declared openly enough for the antipope. The reason of this is very simple: the doctors of the Church in Paris dominated in the mob of Basel, the antipope was of their own creation, and their colleagues of Paris could not fail to recognize him.

As for King Charles VII, at the close of the year 1441 he sent an embassy to Pope Eugenius to ask the convocation of a general council which should put an end to the troubles of Christendom. The principal orator was the Bishop of Meaux, Pierre de Versailles, formerly Bishop of Digne, and originally a monk of the Abbey of St. Denis. He had an audience in full consistory December 16th, and he spoke to the Pope in the following terms:

"The most Christian King, our master, implores your assistance, most holy Father, or rather it is the entire people of the faithful who address to you these words of Scripture: 'Be our leader and our prince.' Not that any one among us doubts that you have not the princedom in the Church; for we know that the state of the Church was constituted monarchical by Jesus Christ himself; but we ask you to be our prince by functions of zeal and by considerateness. We pray you to manage wisely the boat of St. Peter, in the midst of the tempests by which it is buffeted. The princes of the Church, most holy Father, ought not to resemble those of the nations. The latter have frequently no other rule of government than their own will; on the contrary, the princes of the Church ought to temper the use of their authority; and it is for that that the holy fathers have established381 laws and canons. Now, here is the source of the ills which afflict the Church. There are two extremes: one consists in exercising ecclesiastical authority as the princes of the nations exercise theirs, without rule and without measure; the other is the enterprise of those who, in order to correct its abuses, have desired to annihilate authority, who have denied that supreme power rests in the Church, who have given this power to the multitude, who have changed the entire ecclesiastical order in destroying the monarchy which God placed there, to substitute for it democracy or aristocracy, who have arrived, not only with respect to the leader but also with respect to doctrine, at the point of causing an execrable schism among the faithful.

"These considerations, most holy Father, have touched the most Christian King; and to mitigate these two extremes, he has resolved to solicit the convocation of a general council. That of Basel pushed the second extreme too far when it undertook to suppress the truth as to the supreme power in one alone. That of Florence, which you are now holding, has well elucidated this truth, as may be seen in the decree concerning the Greeks; but it has determined upon nothing to temper the use of this power. This has caused many to believe it too near to the first extremity. A third will be able, therefore, to take the just mean and restore everything to order.

"I shall be told, no doubt, that there is no more need of general councils; that there have been enough of them up to this time; that the Roman Church suffices to terminate all controversies; that a prince does not willingly intrust his rights to the multitude; that we would be again exposed, by the convocation of another council, to the movements which agitated the assembly at Basel; but, in order to answer that, it is sufficient to cast our eyes upon the present state of the Church. There should rest in you, most holy Father, and in all other prelates, two kinds of authority; one of divine power and institution, the other of confidence in the people and of good reputation. The first, although it cannot fail you, has, however, to be amenable to the second, and you will obtain this by means of a general council, not such a one as that of Basel, but such as the most Christian King asks; that is to say, a council which shall be held at your order, and which shall be regulated according to382 the decrees of the holy fathers. Such an assembly will not be a confused multitude; and your monarchical power, which comes from heaven, which is attested by the Gospel, which is recognized by the saints and by the universal Church, will not be exposed to any danger."

The orator then shows how dangerous it is to refuse the convocation of this council, dwelling long upon the enterprises of the prelates of Basel, whom he emphatically blames, even to the extent of saying that, from their practice and their maxims, there is no more peace possible in the Church, and that a great many are asking if this schism be not that great apostasy of which St. Paul spoke to the Thessalonians, and which should open the door to the Antichrist. He finishes the address by this declaration: "I have desired to say all this in public, most holy Father, in order to make known to you the upright intentions of the King my master in the present affair. He does not attach himself to flesh and blood, but he hears the voice of the celestial Father. From this source he learns to recognize you and to revere you as the sovereign pontiff and the head of all Christians, the vicar of Jesus Christ, conformably with the doctrine of the saints and of the whole Church. And because he sees that these truths are obscured to-day, he asks for the call of the general council. In this he equally manifests his justice and his piety.

"As for your person, most holy Father, he has sentiments for you which pass the limits of ordinary filial affection. He always speaks of you with consideration. He does not like to have others speak otherwise. He conceives the most favorable hopes of you. He counts upon it that, after having reconciled all the orientals to the Roman Church, you will also reëstablish the affairs of the Occident."

This discourse certainly did honor to the good sense of France. In spite of the intrigues of the learned doctors of the university, the King and the episcopacy early and clearly remarked the revolutionary and anarchistic tendency of Basel. As for the amicably regulating relation of the churches of France with the holy see to remedy certain abuses, the thing was not difficult. It would have been sufficient to send some more bishops to Florence like the Bishop of Meaux. All would have been very quickly arranged, to the satisfaction of everybody, and the383 example of France would have drawn the rest of the Occident. But to desire a third council was not of the same wisdom. Thus the Pope took good care not to consent to it.

In 1444 Eugenius IV created the Dauphin of France, who was afterward King Louis XI, grand gonfalonier of the Roman Church, granting him a pension of fifteen thousand florins, to be taken annually from the apostolic chamber. The Dauphin made an expedition to the gates of Basel, where he overcame a corps of Swiss and spread consternation among those who were still at the pretended council. This expedition was followed by a long truce between France and England; an event which was considered as the prelude to a good peace. In order to obtain from God this good, so necessary and so much desired, there were public fêtes at Paris, among others a solemn procession in which were carried all the holy relics of the city.

In November, 1446, King Charles VII, being at Tours, made with his council a plan of accommodation between the two parties that divided the Church. It arranged that all the censures published on one side and the other should be revoked; that Pope Eugenius should be recognized by all as before the schism; that Monsieur de Savoie, called Felix by his adherents, should renounce the popedom; that he should hold the highest rank in the Church, next to the person of the Pope, and that his partisans should be also maintained in their dignities, grades, and benefices.




A.D. 1301-1438


Events treated at length are here indicated in large type; the numerals following give volume and page.

Separate chronologies of the various nations, and of the careers of famous persons, will be found in the Index Volume, with volume and page references showing where the several events are fully treated.


1301. In Hungary the crown becomes elective; end of the Arpad dynasty.

Dante begins writing his Divine Comedy, See "Dante Composes the Divina Commedia," vii, 1.

1302. Philip the Fair convenes the first meeting of the States-General of France. See "Third Estate Joins in the Government Of France," vii, 17.

Dante and his party banished from Florence. See "Dante Composes the Divina Commedia," vii, 1.

Comyn is appointed regent by the Scots, who make another effort to regain their independence.

Pope Boniface VIII issues a bull against Philip the Fair, who burns it, accuses him of simony and heresy, and refuses to acknowledge him as pope.

Battle of Courtrai; the Flemings defeat the French. See "War of the Flemings with Philip the Fair of France," vii, 23.

1303. Pope Boniface VIII is surprised at Anagni by William de Nogaret, King Philip's adviser; after being kept for some days a prisoner he is rescued and allowed to return to Rome, where he dies.

Scotland submits to Edward I of England.

Andronicus Palæologus, the Byzantine Emperor, engages the Catalan Grand Company to aid him against the Turks.85

3881304. Roger di Flor defeats the Mongols, enters Philadelphia, and stations himself at Ephesus.

1305. Wallace, "Hero of Scotland," is executed. See "Exploits and Death of William Wallace, the Hero of Scotland," vi, 369.

Beginning of the so-called Babylonish Captivity, being the establishment of the papal court at Lyons, France.

1306. A grandson of the first claimant, Robert Bruce, is crowned King of Scotland; he dispossesses the English of a great part of Scotland.

On complaint of the nobility and gentry the use of sea-coal is prohibited in London.

1307. Death of Edward I; his son, Edward II, succeeds to the English throne.

Charges against the Knights Templars. See "Extinction of the Order of Knights Templars," vii, 51.

1308. Albert of Austria assassinated by his nephew; Henry VII, Count of Luxemburg, elected emperor of Germany.

Origin of the Swiss confederations according to common traditions.86 See "First Swiss Struggle for Liberty," vii, 28.

1309. Pope Clement V removes the papal court from Rome to Avignon, France.

Rhodes captured from the Turks by the Knights of St. John.

1310. Fifty Knights Templars are burned in Paris.

Expedition of Henry VII of Germany into Italy to restore the imperial authority. He obtains the throne of Bohemia for his son John, inaugurating the Luxemburg dynasty.

1311. Fifteenth general council (Council of Vienne); it suppresses the order of Knights Templars, and condemns the Beghards (Beguins), a begging order of monks and nuns.

Matteo Visconti secures the sovereignty of Milan.

Walter de Brienne quarrels with the Catalans and is defeated and slain by them; they conquer the duchy of Athens and appoint Roger Deslau grand duke.

1312. Henry VII unsuccessful in an attempt on Florence.

Gaveston, a foreigner and favorite of the King, and who for some years had made himself obnoxious to the barons and people of England, is made prisoner and beheaded; peace ensues between Edward II and his barons.

Robert, King of Naples, seizes the principal forts in Rome; Henry VII is, notwithstanding, crowned emperor in the Lateran Church by three cardinals.

1313. In conjunction with the Genoese and Sicilians, Emperor Henry VII prepares to attack Robert of Naples, but dies suddenly.

Birth of Boccaccio.

1314. Defeat of the English by the Scots under Robert Bruce. See "Battle of Bannockburn," vii, 41.

Louis of Bavaria and Frederick, son of the late Albert of Austria, are elected by opposite parties to the crown of Germany; they make war on each other.

Ireland invaded by Edward Bruce, a Scottish adventurer, and a younger brother of Robert Bruce.

Louis X succeeds his father, Philip IV, in France.

Molay, grand master of the Knights Templars, is burned at the stake in Paris. See "Extinction of the Order of Knights Templars," vii, 51.

1315. Louis Hutin, King of France, emancipates all serfs within the royal domains on payment of a just surrender charge.

A great victory achieved by the Swiss over the Austrians, under Leopold (brother of Frederick the Handsome) at Morgarten.

1316. Edward Bruce crowned king of Ireland.

Establishment of the Salic law excluding females and their descendants from the throne of France.

A predominance of French cardinals, created by Pope Clement V, secures the election of another French pope, and the continuance of the papal see at Avignon. The new pope, John XXII, appoints eight more cardinals, of whom seven are French.

1317. Birger, King of the Swedes, murders his two brothers and causes a rebellion of his people.

1318. Battle of Dundalk; Edward Bruce defeated and slain by Lord Birmingham; end of the war in Ireland.

Giotto, a friend of Dante, famous in Italy; he was the first painter of portraits from life.

1319. Pope John XXII excommunicates Robert Bruce of Scotland; the Scotch Parliament resists all papal interference in its affairs.

1320.87 The Old English poem Cursor Mundi composed. It was founded on Cædmon's paraphrase of the book of Genesis.

1321. Death of Dante while in exile at Ravenna.

1322. Philip V dies; he is succeeded by his brother, Charles IV, on the throne of France.

Louis the Bavarian triumphs over his rival Frederick of Austria, who is captured.

Queen Isabella, while resident in the Tower of London, first sees Mortimer, who is brought there a prisoner.

Sir John Mandeville, an English exile in France, sets out on his eastern travels.

1323. Louis of Bavaria invests his son with the margraviate of Brandenburg.

1324. Commencement of Queen Isabella's guilty intimacy with Mortimer.

Birth of Wycliffe.88

Pope John XXII excommunicates Louis the Bavarian.

1325. Birth of John Gower, poet, and friend of Chaucer.

1326. Burgesses are first admitted into the Scotch Parliament.

Isabella, Queen of Edward II, and Earl Mortimer invade England; the King is captured and imprisoned in Kenilworth castle.

1327. King Edward II is deposed by parliament; Edward III, his son, succeeds. Edward II is brutally murdered by his keepers.

Louis V, the Bavarian, of Germany heads an expedition into Italy; he proclaims the deposition of Pope John XXII; he is forced to retreat after being crowned in Rome.

1328. Independence of Scotland recognized by Edward III of England.

Accession of Philip VI of France, the first of the house of Valois.

Birth of Chaucer.[88]

1329. Death of Robert Bruce; his infant son, David, succeeds to the Scotch throne.

1330. Orkham, Sultan of the Turks, captures Nicæa.

Queen Isabella and Mortimer are surprised in Nottingham castle89; he is executed at Tyburn; Isabella is confined during her life at Castle Rising.

1331. John Kempe takes his servants and apprentices from Flanders to join the weaving colony already founded at Norwich, England.

1332. Edward Balliol claims the crown of Scotland; he invades that country with an English army. The young King, David, takes refuge in France.

Lucerne joins the Swiss confederacy.

1333. Edward III of England invades Scotland; he defeats the Scotch at Halidon Hill and captures Berwick, which is annexed to England.

Casimir the Great, last king of the Piast line, succeeds to the throne of Poland.

1334. Denmark in a state of anarchy; Gerard, Count of Holstein, exercises a disputed power as regent.

1335. The house of Austria becomes possessed of Carinthia.

1336. Birth of Timur (Tamerlane) the Tartar.

1337. Edward III of England obtains the support of Van Artevelde; he obtains money by grants from parliament and confiscating the wealth of the Lombard merchants. See "James van Artevelde Leads a Flemish Revolt," vii, 68.

Birth of Froissart, the chronicler, at Valenciennes.

1338. Beginning of the wars of Edward III against France; he sails 389with a fleet of five hundred ships; lands his army at Antwerp. See "Battle of Sluys and Crécy," vii, 78.

Declaration of the Electors at Rense that Germany is an independent empire over which the Pope has no jurisdiction; the diet at Frankfort ratifies the manifesto.

1339. France invaded by Edward III of England; beginning of the Hundred Years' War.

Genoa elects its first doge, Simone Boccanera.

A body of disbanded mercenaries form themselves into the first condottiere company known in Italy. The word means a captain or leader, the condottieri those under the leader. They were free lances, open to serve under any flag.

1340. Edward destroys a large French fleet at Sluys; beginning of England's naval power. See "Battle of Sluys and Crécy," vii, 78.

War between the Hanseatic League and Denmark; the Danes defeated.

1341. Death of John III of Brittany; his brother, John of Montfort, and his niece, Jeanne de Penthièvre, wife of Charles of Blois, contest the succession; England supports the former, France the latter.

Edward Balliol retires on the return of David II to Scotland.

Petrarch is crowned with laurel at Rome. See "Modern Recognition Of Scenic Beauty," vii, 93.

1342. Edward III pursues his campaign in Brittany; he relieves Hennebonne, besieged by the French.

Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, becomes sovereign lord of Florence.

Accession of Louis, called the Great, to the throne of Hungary, on the death of King Charles Robert, his father.

1343. Expulsion from Florence of the Duke of Athens; popular government restored.

A truce of three years arranged between England and France by the mediation of the papal legates.

1344. Breach of the truce between England and France; Earl Derby defeats Count de Lisle and reduces a great part of Perigord.

A Turkish fleet is destroyed at Pallene by the Knights of Rhodes, who assist in the capture of Smyrna by the Venetians and the King of Cyprus.

Masham, an Englishman, first discovers the Madeira Islands.

In England, parliament, by the Statute of Provisors, forbids the interference of the pope in bestowing benefices and livings in England.

1345. Fall and death of James Van Artevelde at Ghent.

1346. Battle of Crécy; cannon said to have been first used by the English. See "Battles of Sluys and Crécy," vii, 78.

At the instance of Pope Clement VI, Charles of Luxemburg (Charles IV) is elected emperor of Germany in opposition to Louis the Bavarian.

David Bruce invades England; he is vanquished and made prisoner at Neville's Cross.


Servia at the zenith of her power; the ruler, Stephen Dushan, assumes the imperial title.

1347. Calais captured by Edward III.

Death of Louis the Bavarian; he is succeeded by Charles IV, whose title is disputed until 1349.

Queen Joanna I of Naples has her dominions invaded by Louis the Great of Hungary to avenge the murder of her husband, Andrew, brother of Louis, supposedly at her instigation. See "Rienzi's Revolution in Rome," vii, 104.

1348. About this time begins the Renaissance in Italy. See "Beginning and Progress of the Renaissance," vii, 110.

Founding of the University of Prague, the first in Germany.

Pope Clement VI purchases Avignon from Queen Joanna I of Naples.

The plague stalks in Europe. See "The Black Death Ravages Europe," vii, 130.

1349. Institution (or revival, see A.D. 1192) of the Order of the Garter in England.

Dauphiny annexed to France on condition that the King's eldest son should be called the dauphin.

1350. Death of Philip VI; his son, John the Good, succeeds to the French throne.

1351. Zurich joins the Swiss confederation.

Paganino Doria, commanding the Genoese fleet, plunders many Venetian towns on the Adriatic.

1352. A statute of præmunire still further limits the papal power in England.

Naval battle in the Bosporus between the Genoese, under Paganino Doria, and the Venetians, Byzantines, and Catalans under Niccola Pisano; the latter are defeated, and concede the entire command of the Black Sea to the Genoese.

1353. Alliance of Genoa with Louis of Hungary; their fleet, under Antonino Grinaldi, defeated; in despair the Genoese place themselves under the protection of John Visconte.

Bern joins the league of Swiss cantons.

1354. Downfall and death of Rienzi. See "Rienzi's Revolution in Rome," vii, 104.

Paganino Doria captures or destroys the Venetian fleet in the Morea; their admiral, Pisano, is captured.

Beginning of Turkish dominion in Europe. See "First Turkish Dominion in Europe," vii, 136.

1355. King Charles of Navarre is treacherously seized and imprisoned in France; his brother Philip, and Geoffry d'Harcourt, make an alliance with Edward III; the war is renewed.

Marino Falieri, Doge of Venice, beheaded. See "Conspiracy and Death of Marino Falieri at Venice," vii, 154.

1356. Battle of Poitiers; John II, King of France, taken prisoner by 391Edward, the Black Prince; the Dauphin, Charles, escapes and assumes the government of France during his father's captivity.

Emperor Charles defines the duties of the electors of Germany. See "Charles IV of Germany Publishes His Golden Bull," vii, 160.

Wycliffe publishes his Last Age of the Court.

1357. London enthusiastically welcomes the Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) on his return with his prisoners; King Edward III concludes a treaty with the captive French King, which the Dauphin rejects.

Popular movement in Paris under Stephen Marcel; meeting of the States-general of France.

1358. Violent commotions in France. See "Insurrection of the Jacquerie in France," vii, 164.

By a treaty of peace the Venetians resign Dalmatia and Istria to the King of Hungary; they agree to style their doge Duke of Venice only.

1359. Edward III again invades France, his terms of peace not being accepted.

1360. England and France conclude the treaty of Bretigny; King John II is set at liberty on payment of a heavy ransom.

Outbreak of the Children's Plague in England.

1361. End of the first ducal house of Burgundy.

Adrianople is conquered by Sultan Amurath I of Turkey.

All military operations in Europe suspended by the virulence of the plague.

1362. Edward III grants Aquitaine to his son, the Black Prince; he also celebrates his fiftieth birthday by a general amnesty and a confirmation of Magna Charta.

Conjectured beginning of Langland's Vision of Piers Plowman, a noted allegorical and satirical poem.90

1363. Disbanded English soldiers enter the service of the Pisans, and obtain a victory for them over the Florentines.

1364. Death of King John the Good of France, in Savoy palace, London; his son, Charles V, succeeds; Du Guesclin, his general, defeats the English and the army of Charles the Bad at Cocherel. Du Guesclin is afterward defeated and captured by the English, under Sir John Chandos; besides the capture of Du Guesclin, Charles of Blois is slain. The house of Montfort secures Brittany.

Treaty of union between Bohemia and Austria.

Chaucer writes his Canterbury Tales.

1365. Pedro the Cruel, the epithet "cruel" being given him mainly for the murder of his brother, Don Fadrique, becomes so odious to his subjects that Henry of Trastamare, his brother, revives his claim to the throne of Leon and Castile; Du Guesclin takes command of his forces.

University of Vienna founded.

1366. Pedro the Cruel driven from his throne.

Pope Urban V claims the tribute which had previously been paid by 392England; an act of parliament resists the demand; it further declares the concessions made by King John to be illegal and invalid.

Tamerlane (Timur the Tartar), reviver of the great Mongol empire, inaugurates his conquests.

1367. Edward the Black Prince, having espoused the cause of Pedro the Cruel, attacks and dethrones Henry of Trastamare; Pedro is restored to the throne, but refuses the stipulated pay to his allies, who leave him to his fate.

Passage of the Kilkenny Statute; it forbade any Englishman to use an Irish name, to speak the Irish language, to adopt the Irish dress, or to allow the cattle of an Irishman to graze on his lands; it also made it high treason to marry a native.

1369. King Charles V breaks the Anglo-French treaty; the Hundred Years' War reopened.

1370. End of the Piast dynasty, Poland, caused by the death of Casimir the Great; Louis the Great, King of Hungary, succeeds.

Timur the Tartar extends his domains. See "Conquests of Timur the Tartar," vii, 169.

1371. Robert II ascends the throne and founds the Stuart dynasty in Scotland, on the death of David Bruce.91

A petition of the English Parliament to the King that he employ no churchmen in any office of the state, and threatening to resist by force the oppressions of papal authority.

1373. Henry of Castile invades Portugal, besieges Lisbon, and compels Ferdinand to sign a treaty of peace.

Birth of John Huss.92

1374. A strange plague, the dancing mania, appears in Europe. See "Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages," vii, 187.

Wycliffe is appointed one of the seven ambassadors to represent to the Pope the grievances of the Church of England.

1375. A general council of citizens of Florence declares "liberty paramount to every other consideration"; it appoints the "Seven Saints of War," which effectually resist aggression.

1376. Death of Edward the Black Prince. Gregory XI abandons Avignon as the papal residence.

1377. Rome again becomes the home of the papal court.

Gregory XI orders proceedings against Wycliffe, the English reformer.

Death of Edward III; his grandson, Richard II, succeeds to the English throne.

1378. Wenceslaus becomes emperor of Germany on the death of his father, Charles IV.

Rival popes elected. See "Election of Antipope Clement VII: Beginning of the Great Schism," vii, 201.


1379. Pietro Doria, at the head of the Genoese fleet, defeats the Venetian fleet off Pola; Chioggia is captured and Venice threatened.

A poll-tax imposed on the people of England; this led directly to a revolution.

War of the rival papal factions in Rome.

Revolt of the White Hoods (Les Chaperons blancs) in Flanders; the workmen of Ghent, when they revolted against the Duke of Burgundy, adopted a white hood as their badge.

1380. Establishment in Germany of post messengers.

Surrender of the Genoese fleet and army at Chioggia. See "Genoese Surrender to Venetians," vii, 213.

1381. Overthrow of Joanna I of Naples by Charles Durazzo (Charles the Little).

An act of parliament surreptitiously obtained against heretics in England.

Exasperated by the poll-tax the people of England revolt. See "Rebellion of Wat Tyler," vii, 217.

Insurrection of the Maillotins against the new tax on bread in Paris. They were so called because they armed themselves with maillets de fer ("iron malls") when they attacked the arsenal, put to death the officers, and set the prisoners at large.

Philip van Artevelde rises to power in Flanders.

1382. Queen Joanna I of Naples is put to death in prison.

"Wycliffe Translates the Bible into English." See vii, 227.

Led by Philip van Artevelde the people of Ghent triumph over their ruler, Count Louis II; Bruges is captured and looted by them; Artevelde is acclaimed governor; a French army advances and defeats the forces of Artevelde, who is slain, and Louis is restored.

1384. Flanders is incorporated in the dukedom of Burgundy; Artois and Franche Comté are also acquired by Philip the Bold of Burgundy.

1385. Scotland fruitlessly invaded by Richard II of England.

John the Great ascends the throne of Portugal; he defeats the Castilians at Aljubarota.

1386. Victory of the Swiss over the Austrians at Sempach. See "The Swiss Win Their Independence," vii, 238.

Hedvige, Queen of Poland, marries Duke of Jagellon, of Lithuania, uniting the states and establishing the Jagellon dynasty; as sovereign of Poland he is styled Ladislaus II. The Lithuanians abandon paganism.

Founding of the University of Heidelberg.

A regency, that of the Duke of Gloucester, is imposed upon Richard II of England.

1387. Consultation of Richard II at Nottingham with the judges; the regency commission is declared a criminal act.

A brother of Emperor Wenceslaus, Sigismund, becomes king of Hungary.

Birth of Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietri), the great friar-painter.

1388. Battle of Otterburne (Chevy Chase); an English-Scotch en394counter in a private feud, not a national quarrel; the Earl of Douglas slain; Henry Percy captured by the Scots.

At Naefels the Austrians are defeated by the Swiss.

1389. Bulgaria and Servia conquered by the Turks under Amurath I at the decisive battle of Kosovo; he is slain.

Death of Pope Urban VI; Boniface succeeds; the schism continues.

Albert, King of Sweden, defeated and made prisoner by Queen Margaret, who reigns over the three Scandinavian kingdoms.

1390. War of Florence with Milan.

Robert III ascends the throne of Scotland.

1392. Fits of insanity seize the young King of France, Charles VI; cards are invented, or introduced, to amuse him during his lucid intervals.

1394. Birth of Prince Henry of Portugal, known as the "Navigator."

1395. Milan is created a hereditary duchy by Emperor Wenceslaus for Giovanni Galeazzo Visconti.

1396. Battle of Nicopolis; the Christian defenders of Hungary suffer a great defeat at the hands of the Turkish sultan Bajazet I.

1397. Scandinavia united under one crown. See "Union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway," vii, 243.

1398. Mortimer, Earl of March, presumptive heir to the English throne and governor of Ireland, slain by a rebel force in that island.

Froissart writes his Chronicles.

1399. Deposition of Richard II of England; Henry Bolingbroke founds the house of Lancaster. See "Deposition of Richard II," vii, 251.

After a long struggle for the possession of Naples between Ladislaus and Louis II of Anjou, it ends in the triumph of Ladislaus.

1400. A great revolt of the Welsh is headed by Owen Glendower.

Emperor Wenceslaus is deposed.

Rupert of the Palatinate elected to the throne of Germany.

1401. Parliament ordains the burning of Lollards in England. Barcelona bank (earliest existing bank) established.

1402. Battle of Homildon Hill; victory of the Percys, a noble northern English family, over the Scots.

License by royal letters-patent given to the "Confrerie de la Passion" to exhibit sacred dramas, or Mysteries, in France.

"Discovery of the Canary Islands and the African Coast." See vii, 266.

Tamerlane (Timur the Tartar) defeats and captures Bajazet at Angora.

1403. Battle of Shrewsbury; Henry IV defeats the Percys, who had allied themselves with Glendower to place the Earl of March on the English throne; Harry Percy (Hotspur) slain.

1404. Queen Margaret of Sweden claims Schleswig and Holstein on the death of Gerard VI.

1405. Pisa sold to Florence by the Visconti.

An English act of parliament prohibits anyone not possessing twenty shillings a year in land from apprenticing his sons to any trade.


Venice conquers Verona and Padua.

Prince James Stuart, afterward James I, heir to the crown of Scotland, captured by the English.

1406. Pisa compelled to submit to Florence after a year of war.

Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, proposes a general council to terminate the schism in the Church.93

1407. France distracted by the animosities of her leading families; Louis, Duke of Orleans, is assassinated by John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy.

1408. Valentina, widow of the Duke of Orleans, demands justice on her husband's assassins; the Duke of Burgundy declared an enemy of the state; he occupies Paris and drives out the royal court.

1409. Council of Pisa; both popes refuse to appear; they are deposed and Alexander V is elected.

University of Leipsic founded.

1410. Death of Rupert of the Palatinate, Emperor of Germany.

Jagellon (Ladislaus II), King of Poland, vanquishes the Teutonic Knights.

1411. Battle of Harlow; defeat of the Scotch Lord of the Isles and the highland clans.

Sigismund elected emperor of Germany.

John Huss excommunicated and forbidden to preach.

University of St. Andrew's, Scotland, founded.

1412. For insulting the chief justice of England the Prince of Wales is committed to prison.

Birth of Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Orleans.

1413. Death of Henry IV; Henry V ascends the English throne; he discards his dissolute associates and reforms his conduct.

Ladislaus takes forcible possession of Rome and most of the papal states.

1414. The Seventeenth general council. See "Council of Constance," vii, 284.

Joanna II succeeds her brother Ladislaus of Naples on his death.

1415. "Trial and Burning of John Huss." See vii, 294.

John the Great of Portugal conquers Ceuta; he discards the use of the Julian period and introduces the computation of time from the Christian era.

Brandenburg is acquired by the house of Hohenzollern. See "The House of Hohenzollern Established in Brandenburg," vii, 305.

"Battle of Agincourt." See vii, 320.

1416. Jerome of Prague burned.

Alfonso the Wise, so called for his patronage of letters, ascends the throne of Aragon on the death of his father, Ferdinand the Just.

1417. Pope Martin V elected by the Council of Constance; end of the schism.


Sir John Oldcastle, the "Good Lord Cobham," after four years' hiding is captured and burned as a heretic in London.

Gypsies appear in Transylvania; they are believed to have been low-caste Hindus expelled by Timur in the fourteenth century.

1418. Close of the Council of Constance. See "Council of Constance," vii, 284.

A great massacre in Paris of the Armagnacs by the populace, the partisans of John the Fearless of Burgundy; the Dauphin and his adherents transfer their seat of government to Poitiers.

1419. Surrender of Rouen to the English.

John the Fearless, beguiled by a treaty, meets the Dauphin, who has him assassinated.

Storming of the town-hall of Prague by the Hussites; outbreak of the Hussite wars.

Madeira first reached by the Portuguese, who sail under the command of Henry the Navigator.

1420. Henry V, King of England, made successor to the French throne. See "Battle of Agincourt," vii, 320.

Sigismund besieges the Hussites in Prague; he is defeated by them, led by John Ziska.

Joanna II of Naples, who summons to her aid Alfonso V of Aragon, is attacked by Louis III of Anjou.

1421. Second crusade against the Bohemian Hussites.

1422. Death of Henry V of England and Charles VI of France; the former is succeeded by his infant son; he is proclaimed King of England and France; his uncles, the Duke of Gloucester, regent in England, and the Duke of Bedford in France; Charles VII, son of Charles VI, is proclaimed by the French.

Constantinople besieged by Amurath II, Sultan of Turkey.

1423. Frederick the Warlike, Margrave of Misnia, assumes the electorate of Saxony and establishes the house of Wettin.

1424. James I of Scotland, released after a captivity of nineteen years, marries a daughter of the Earl of Somerset; he assumes the government of Scotland.

John Ziska is succeeded by Procopius the Great as head of the Taborites, a division of the Hussites.

1425. Accession of John Palæologus II as emperor of Byzantium.

John and Hulbert van Eyck, masters of the early Flemish school, invent painting in oil.

1426. Lubeck and the Baltic Hanse Towns support the Duke of Holstein against Eric XIII of Sweden.

Great Hussite victory at Aussig.

1427. The Hussites extend their conquests in Saxony and Meissen; they gain a victory at Mies.

1428. Orleans, France, besieged by the English.

Death of John de' Medici, founder of the illustrious family at Florence.

1429. Coronation of Charles VII of France at Rheims.


Jeanne d'Arc relieves Orleans. See "Jeanne d'Arc's Victory at Orleans," vii, 333.

Refusal of the Hussites to treat for peace with Emperor Sigismund.

Antipope Clement VIII abdicates and ends the Great Schism.

1430. Institution of the Golden Fleece by Philip, Duke of Burgundy, on his marriage with Isabella, daughter of King John of Portugal, and in commemoration of the manufacturing prosperity of the Netherlands.

1431. Jeanne d'Arc dishonorably and inhumanly burned at Rouen. See "Trial and Execution of Jeanne d'Arc," vii, 350.

Council of Basel. Pope Martin V succeeded by Eugenius IV.

1432. Prince Henry's navigators discover and take possession of the Azores for the Portuguese.

Opening of the trade of the north to the English and Dutch by the wars of the Hanse Towns, and Holstein, with Denmark.

1433. Treaty of the Council of Basel with the section of the Hussites called Calixtines; this satisfies them and they secede from the Hussite league.

1434. Cosmo de' Medici recalled to Florence; his party triumphant.

Organization of the national church (Utraquist) in Bohemia.

First exploration of the west coast of Africa by the Portuguese.

The Calixtines join the imperial army and defeat the Taborites at Bohmisch-Brod.

1435. Treaty of Arras between France and Burgundy; the latter withdraws from the English party.

Death of the Duke of Bedford.

1436. A settlement effected between Emperor Sigismund and the Hussites by the treaty of Iglau; he is recognized as king of Bohemia.

Charles VII, the French King, recovers Paris from the English.

Eric, by a treaty of peace, relinquishes the greater part of Schleswig to the Duke of Holstein and makes concessions at Stockholm which restore tranquillity in Sweden.

1437. Death of Emperor Sigismund; election of Albert of Austria to the throne of Hungary.

Murder of James I; his son, James II, succeeds him on the throne of Scotland.

Pope Eugenius IV is summoned to appear before the Council of Basel to answer various charges brought against him; he issues a bull dissolving the council; he calls another at Ferrara, whither he invites the Greek Emperor to attend and arrange for the union of the two churches.

1438. Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VII; it secures the liberty of the Gallican Church. See "Charles VII Issues His Pragmatic Sanction," vii, 370.

Coronation of Albert II, King of Hungary; recognized by the Diet of Frankfort.


1 See Dante Composes the Divina Commedia, page 1.

2 See Extinction of the Order of Knights Templars, page 51.

3 See The Third Estate Joins in the Government of France, page 17.

4 See War of the Flemings with Philip the Fair, page 23.

5 See First Swiss Struggle for Liberty, page 28.

6 See The Swiss Win Their Independence, page 238.

7 See Battle of Bannockburn, page 41.

8 See Beginning and Progress of the Renaissance, page 110.

9 See Crowning of Petrarch at Rome, page 93.

10 See Rienzi's Revolution in Rome, page 104.

11 See Conspiracy and Death of Marino Falieri at Venice, page 154.

12 See Genoese Surrender to Venetians, page 213.

13 See Rise of the Hanseatic League, vol. vi, page 214.

14 See Union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, page 243.

15 See Charles IV of Germany Publishes His Golden Bull, page 160.

16 See The Black Death Ravages Europe, page 130.

17 See Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages, page 187.

18 See James van Artevelde Leads a Flemish Revolt, page 68.

19 See Edward III of England Assumes the Title of King of France, page 68.

20 See Battles of Sluys and Crécy, page 78.

21 See Insurrection of the Jacquerie in France, page 164.

22 See Rebellion of Wat Tyler, page 217.

23 See Turks Seize Gallipoli, page 147.

24 See Conquests of Timur the Tartar, page 169.

25 See Wycliffe Translates the Bible into English, page 227.

26 See Election of Antipope Clement VII, page 201.

27 See Trial and Burning of John Huss, page 294.

28 See Council of Constance, page 284.

29 See The Hussite Wars, page 294.

30 See The House of Hohenzollern Established in Brandenburg, page 305.

31 See Deposition of Richard II, page 251.

32 See Battle of Agincourt, page 320.

33 See English Conquest of France, page 320.

34 See Jeanne d'Arc's Victory at Orleans, page 333.

35 See Trial and Execution of Jeanne d'Arc, page 350.

36 See Charles VII Issues his Pragmatic Sanction, page 370.

37 See Discovery of the Canary Islands: Beginning of Negro Slave Trade, page 266.

38 "I am not going to lose the men for the old women."

39 "The coward who the great refusal made."

"The beams on the low shores now lost and dead."
"A death-like shade— Like that beneath black boughs and foliage green O'er the cold stream in Alpine glens display'd."
"O'er all the sandy desert falling slow, Were shower'd dilated flakes of fire, like snow On Alpine summits, when the wind is low."
"So will a greater fame redound to thee, To have formed a party by thyself alone."

44 Translated by Charles Leonard-Stuart.

45 This Emperor was Albert I, son of Rudolph I.

46 James van Artevelde was called "the Brewer of Ghent," because, although born an aristocrat, he was enrolled in the Guild of Brewers.

47 Translated from the French by Thomas Johnes.

48 Lord Berners' account of the advance of the Genoese is somewhat different from this; he describes them as leaping forward with a fell cry. The whole passage is so spirited and graphic that we give it entire:

"Whan the genowayes were assembled toguyder and beganne to aproche, they made a great leape and crye to abasshe thenglysshmen, but they stode styll and styredde nat for all that. Than the genowayes agayne the seconde tyme made another leape and a fell crye and stepped forwarde a lytell, and thenglysshmen remeued nat one fote; thirdly agayne they leapt and cryed, and went forthe tyll they came within shotte; than they shotte feersly with their crosbowes. Than thenglysshe archers stept forthe one pase and lette fly their arowes so hotly and so thycke that it semed snowe. Whan the genowayes felte the arowes persynge through heedes, armes, and brestes, many of them cast downe their crosbowes and did cutte their strynges and retourned dysconfited. Whan the frenche kynge sawe them flye away, he said, Slee these rascals, for they shall lette and trouble us without reason; than you shoulde haue sene the men of armes dasshe in among them and kylled a great nombre of them; and euerstyll the englysshmen shot where as they sawe thyckest preace, the sharpe arowes ranne into the men of armes and into their horses, and many fell horse and men amonge the genowayes, and whan they were downe they coude nat relyne agayne; the preace was so thycke that one ouerthrewe a nother. And also amonge the englysshemen there were certayne rascalles that went a fote with great knyues, and they went in among the men of armes and slewe and murdredde many as they lay on the grounde, both erles, barownes, knyghts, and squyers, whereof the kyng of Englande was after dyspleased, for he had rather they had been taken prisoners."

49 His blindness was supposed to be caused by poison, which was given to him when engaged in the wars of Italy.

50 The following is Lord Berners' version of this narration: "In the mornyng the day of the batayle certayne frenchemen and almaygnes perforce opyned the archers of the princes batayle, and came and fought with the men at armes hande to hande. Than the second batayle of thenglyshe men came to socour the prince's batayle, the whiche was tyme, for they had as than moche ado, and they with the prince sent a messangar to the kynge who was on a lytell wyndmill hill. Than the knyght sayd to the kyng, Sir therle of Warwyke and therle of Cafort [Stafford] Sir Reynolde Cobham and other such as be about the prince your sonne are feersly fought with all, and are sore handled, wherefore they desire you that you and your batayle woll come and ayde them, for if the frenchemen encrease as they dout they woll your sonne and they shall have moche a do. Than the kynge sayde, is my sonne deed or hurt or on the yerthe felled? No, sir, quoth the knight, but he is hardely matched wherfore he hath nede of your ayde. Well sayde the kyng, retourne to hym and to them that sent you hyther, and say to them that they sende no more to me for any adventure that falleth as long as my sonne is alyve; and also say to them that they suffer hym this day to wynne his spurres, for if God be pleased, I woll this iourney be his and the honoure therof and to them that be aboute hym. Than the knyght retourned agayn to them and shewed the kynges wordes, the which greatly encouraged them, and repoyned in that they had sende to the kynge as they dyd."

51 Translated from the German by B. G. Babington.

52 Thucydides, in his account of the earlier plague in Athens, B.C. 430, says, "It was supposed that the Peloponnesians had poisoned the cisterns."

53 Translated from the French by Charles Leonard-Stuart.

54 Osman is the real Turkish name, which has been corrupted into Othman. The descendants of his subjects style themselves Osmanlis—corrupted into Ottoman.

55 Edebali, a Mussulman prophet and saint, whose daughter Osman married.

56 A criminal tribunal, of which Steno himself was president.

57 "Jacques Bonhomme." Froissart takes this for the name of an individual, but it is the common nickname—like "Hodge" or "Giles"—of the French peasantry. It is said that the term was applied by the lords of the manor to their villeins or serfs, in derision of their awkwardness and patient endurance of their lot. The "King who came from Clermont"—the leader of the Jacquerie—was William Karl or Callet.

58 A most wonderful scene. The B'hagiratha or Ganges issues from under a very low arch at the foot of the grand snow-bed. The illiterate mountaineers compare the pendent icicles to Mahodeva's hair. Hindoos of research may formerly have been here; and if so, one cannot think of any place to which they might more aptly give the name of a cow's mouth than to this extraordinary débouché.

59 Translated from the German by B. G. Babington.

60 "Chorus Sancti Viti, or St. Vitus' dance; the lascivious dance, Paracelsus calls it, because they that are taken with it can do nothing but dance till they be dead or cured. It is so called for that the parties so troubled were wont to go to St. Vitus for help; and, after they had danced there awhile, they were certainly freed. 'Tis strange to hear how long they will dance, and in what manner, over stools, forms, and tables. One in red clothes they cannot abide. Musick above all things they love; and therefore magistrates in Germany will hire musicians to play to them, and some lusty, sturdy companions to dance with them. This disease hath been very common in Germany, as appears by those relations of Schenkius, and Paracelsus in his book of madness, who brags how many several persons he hath cured of it. Felix Platerus (de Mentis Alienat. cap. 3) reports of a woman in Basel whom he saw, that danced a whole month together. The Arabians call it a kind of palsie. Bodine, in his fifth book, speaks of this infirmity; Monavius, in his last epistle to Scoltizius, and in another to Dudithus, where you may read more of it."—Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.

61 The Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus in Syria states that, at the festival of St. John, large fires were annually kindled in several towns, through which men, women, and children jumped; and that young children were carried through by their mothers. He considered this custom as an ancient Asiatic ceremony of purification, similar to that recorded of Ahaz, in II Kings, xvi. 3. Zonaras, Balsamon, and Photius speak of the St. John's fires in Constantinople, and the first looks upon them as the remains of an old Grecian custom. Even in modern times fires are still lighted on St. John's Day in Brittany and other remote parts of Continental Europe, through the smoke of which the cattle are driven in the belief that they will thus be protected from contagious and other diseases, and in these practices protective fumigation originated. That such different nations should have had the same idea of fixing the purification by fire on St. John's Day is a remarkable coincidence, which perhaps can be accounted for only by its analogy to baptism.

62 Beckmann makes many other observations on this well-known circumstance. The priest named is the same who is still known in the nursery tales of children as the Knecht Ruprecht.

63 Dass dir Sanct Veitstanz ankomme ("May you be seized with St. Vitus' dance").

64 "This proceeding was, however, no invention of his, but an imitation of a usual mode of enchantment by means of wax figures (peri cunculas). The witches made a wax image of the person who was to be bewitched; and in order to torment him, they stuck it full of pins, or melted it before the fire. The books on magic, of the Middle Ages, are full of such things; though the reader who may wish to obtain information on this subject need not go so far back. Only eighty years since, the learned and celebrated Storch, of the school of Stahl, published a treatise on witchcraft, worthy of the fourteenth century."—Treatise on the Diseases of Children.

65 Some authorities give twenty-nine.

66 Selden, in his Table Talk, says: "There was once, I am sure, a parliamentary pope. Pope Urban was made pope in England by act of parliament, against Pope Clement: the act is not in the Book of Statutes, either because he that compiled the book would not have the name of the Pope there, or else he would not let it appear that they meddled with any such thing; but it is upon the rolls."

67 A groat equalled fourpence, or eight cents.

68 In Walsingham may be seen a long account of the death of the Archbishop, page 250. His head was carried in triumph through the streets on the point of a lance, and fixed on London bridge. That it might be the better known, the hat or bonnet worn by him was nailed to the skull.

69 When Tresilian, one of the judges, tried the insurgents at St. Alban's, he impanelled three juries of twelve men each. The first was ordered to present all whom they knew to be the chiefs of the tumult, the second gave their opinion on the presentation of the first, and the third pronounced the verdict of guilty or not guilty. It does not appear that witnesses were examined. The juries spoke from their personal knowledge. Thus each convict was condemned on the oaths of thirty-six men. At first, on account of the multitude of executions, the condemned were beheaded: afterward they were hanged and left on the gibbet as objects of terror; but as their bodies were removed by their friends, the King ordered them to be hanged in chains, the first instance in which express mention of the practice is made. According to Holinshed the executions amounted to fifteen hundred.

70 The readers, as might be expected, often surreptitiously copied portions of special interest. One is reminded of the story in ancient Irish history of a curious decision arising out of an incident of this kind nearly a thousand years before, which seems to have influenced the history of Christianity in Britain. St. Columb, on a visit to the aged St. Finian in Ulster, had permission to read in the Psalter belonging to his host. But every night while the good old saint was sleeping, the young one was busy in the chapel writing by a miraculous light till he had completed a copy of the whole Psalter. The owner of the Psalter, discovering this, demanded that it should be given up, as it had been copied unlawfully from his book; while the copyist insisted that, the materials of labor being his, he was entitled to what he had written. The dispute was referred to Diarmad, the King at Tara, and his decision (genuinely Irish) was given in St. Finian's favor. "To every book," said he, "belongs its son-book [copy], as to every cow belongs her calf." Columb complained of the decision as unjust, and the dispute is said to have been one of the causes of his leaving Ireland for Iona.

71 Oliver Wendell Holmes: Autocrat of the Breakfast-table.

72 A town in Schwyz. The name means a "hermitage." St. Meinrad, according to legend, lived there (ninth century) as a hermit. It is a celebrated pilgrim resort.—Ed.

73 He descended from Henry III both by father and mother. But he could not claim by the father's side, because the young Earl of March was sprung from the Duke of Clarence, the elder brother of John of Gaunt; nor by the mother's side, because she was sprung from Edmund of Lancaster, a younger brother of Edward I. It was pretended that Edmund was the elder brother, but deformed in body, and therefore set aside with his own consent. If we may believe Hardyng, Henry on September 21st produced in council a document to prove the seniority of Edmund over Edward, but that the contrary was shown by a number of unanswerable authorities.

74 Charles IV.

75 Allusion to John Ziska, leader of the Hussites, who waged a fierce war against Wenzel and the empire.

76 Head of the House of Hohenzollern, Burggraves of Nuremberg.

77 This was the Dauphin, afterward Charles VII, whose brother Jean, Duke of Burgundy, had, in 1407, procured the murder of the Duke of Orleans.

78 To houspiller is to maul, pull about, abuse, "worry like a dog"; hence the name houspilleur.

79 The English cardinal, most powerful ecclesiastic of the time.

80 Assistant judges.

81 Tipstaffs, constables.

82 The Duke of Bedford (John of Lancaster), third son of Henry IV of England, was regent of England and France, which office he assumed on the death of Henry V, in 1422.

83 The memory of Jeanne d'Arc was long and shamefully traduced by descendants of those enemies of France whom she baffled. Even Shakespeare (Henry VI) is so unjust to her—refining upon the brutal calumnies of the historians—as to grieve his most loving critics. It remained for the opening years of the twentieth century to see the Maid canonized by the Church which, as the agent of her country's foes, was instrumental in her destruction.—Ed.

84 Translated by Chauncey C. Starkweather, M.A., LL.B.

85 The Catalan Grand Company was a formidable body of mercenary soldiers; it arose in Sicily during the wars that followed the Sicilian Vespers.

86 See 1291.

87 Date uncertain.

88 Date uncertain.

89 A specimen of an early speaking-tube exists, connecting the room said to have been occupied by Isabella with the old brewhouse, now a tavern, by means of which Mortimer was wont to communicate with his mistress. The castle stands upon a mount of 280 feet, sheer rock, and the brewhouse is at its base. A peculiarity of the tube, bored through the live rock, is an elbow-joint, which is a puzzle to scientists.

90 Date uncertain.

91 Often erroneously given as 1370, neglecting the fact that, by the old manner of reckoning, the year began on March 25th.

92 Date uncertain.

93 By the French it is claimed that Jean Charlier de Gerson was the author of de Imitatione Christi, usually attributed to Thomas à Kempis.


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