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Title: Historical Tales, Vol. 6 (of 15) - The Romance of Reality. French.
Author: Morris, Charles, 1833-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Historical Tales, Vol. 6 (of 15) - The Romance of Reality. French." ***

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Edition d'Élite

Historical Tales

The Romance of Reality



_Author of "Half-Hours with the Best American Authors," "Tales from the
Dramatists," etc._


Volume VI






THE HUNS AT ORLEANS                                                    7

THE WOOING OF CLOTILDE                                                18

THE RIVAL QUEENS                                                      29

ROLAND AT RONCESVALLES                                                40

CHARLEMAGNE AND THE AVARS                                             47

THE CROWNING OF CHARLEMAGNE                                           58

PETER THE HERMIT                                                      69

THE COMMUNE OF LAON                                                   81

HOW BIG FERRÉ FOUGHT FOR FRANCE                                       94

BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN                                                 103

JOAN OF ARC, THE MAID OF ORLEANS                                     116

THE CAREER OF A KNIGHT-ERRANT                                        133

LOUIS THE POLITIC AND CHARLES THE BOLD                               147

CHARLES THE BOLD AND THE SWISS                                       158

BAYARD, THE GOOD KNIGHT                                              166

EPISODES IN THE LIFE OF A TRAITOR                                    176

ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S DAY                                                188

KING HENRY OF NAVARRE                                                197

THE MURDER OF A KING                                                 210

RICHELIEU AND THE CONSPIRATORS                                       218

THE PARLIAMENT OF PARIS                                              233

A MARTYR TO HIS PROFESSION                                           251

THE MAN WITH THE IRON MASK                                           257

VOLTAIRE'S LAST VISIT TO PARIS                                       264

THE DIAMOND NECKLACE                                                 271

THE FALL OF THE BASTILLE                                             281

THE STORY OF THE SAINTE AMPOULE                                      287

THE FLIGHT OF THE KING                                               298

THE END OF THE TERROR                                                306

THE BURNING OF MOSCOW                                                316

NAPOLEON'S RETURN FROM ELBA                                          327

THE PRUSSIAN WAR AND THE PARIS COMMUNE                               337

                       LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



FRIEDLAND                                                  _Frontispiece_.

CITY OF ORLEANS                                                        8

THE VOW OF CLOVIS                                                     25

THE CORONATION OF CHARLEMAGNE                                         63

A MARRIAGE FEAST IN BRITTANY                                          82

COLUMN OF JULY, PLACE DE LA BASTILLE                                 100

JOAN OF ARC AT ORLEANS                                               125

A DUEL OF KNIGHTS                                                    133

LOUIS XI                                                             147

THE DUKE OF GUISE AT THE FRENCH COURT                                189

EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF HENRY IV                                        196

CHAMBER OF MARY D' MEDICI                                            212

CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE DAME, PARIS                                       242

VOLTAIRE'S LAST VISIT TO PARIS                                       265

MARIE ANTOINETTE AND HER CHILDREN                                    274

THE LAST VICTIMS OF THE REIGN OF TERROR                              307

THE CITY OF MOSCOW                                                   317

ARC DE TRIOMPHE AND CHAMPS ELYSÉES, PARIS                            327

NAPOLEON'S RETURN FROM ELBA                                          332

SCENE FROM THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR                                   340


On the edge of a grand plain, almost in the centre of France, rises a
rich and beautiful city, time-honored and famous, for it stood there
before France had begun and while Rome still spread its wide wings over
this whole region, and it has been the scene of some of the most notable
events in French history. The Gauls, one of whose cities it was, named
it Genabum. The Romans renamed it Aurelian, probably from their Emperor
Aurelian. Time and the evolution of the French language wore this name
down to Orleans, by which the city has for many centuries been known.

The broad Loire, the longest river of France, sweeps the foot of the
sloping plain on which the city stands, and bears its commerce to the
sea. Near by grows a magnificent forest, one of the largest in France,
covering no less than ninety-four thousand acres. Within the city
appears the lofty spires of a magnificent cathedral, while numerous
towers rise from a maze of buildings, giving the place, from a distance,
a highly attractive aspect. It is still surrounded by its mediæval
walls, outside of which extend prosperous suburbs, while far and wide
beyond stretches the fertile plain.

Such is the Orleans of to-day. In the past it was the scene of two
striking and romantic events, one of them associated with the name of
Joan of Arc, the most interesting figure in French history; the other,
which we have now to tell, concerned with the terrible Attila and his
horde of devastating Huns, who had swept over Europe and threatened to
annihilate civilization. Orleans was the turning-point in the career of
victory of this all-conquering barbarian. From its walls he was driven
backward to defeat.

Out from the endless wilds of Scythia had poured a vast swarm of nomad
horsemen, ill-favored, fierce, ruthless, the scions of the desert and
seemingly sworn to make a desert of Europe. They were led by Attila, the
"Scourge of God," as he called himself, in the tracks of whose horse's
hoofs the grass could never grow again, as he proudly boasted.

Writers of the time picture to us this savage chieftain as a deformed
monster, short, ill-formed, with a large head, swarthy complexion,
small, deep-seated eyes, flat nose, a few hairs in place of a beard, and
with a habit of fiercely rolling his eyes, as if to inspire terror. He
had broad shoulders, a square, strong form, and was as powerful in body
as he was ready and alert in mind. The man had been born for a
conqueror, and Europe was his prey.

The Scythians adored the god of war, whom they worshipped under the
shape of an iron cimeter. It was through the aid of this superstition
that Attila raised himself to dominion over their savage and tameless
hordes. One of their shepherds, finding that a heifer was wounded in the
foot, followed the track of blood which the animal had made, and
discovered amid the long grass the point of an ancient sword. This he
dug from the earth in which it was buried and presented to Attila. The
artful chief claimed that it was a celestial gift, sent to him by the
god of war, and giving him a divine claim to the dominion of the earth.
Doubtless his sacred gift was consecrated with the Scythian rites,--a
lofty heap of fagots, three hundred yards in length and breadth, being
raised on a spacious plain, the sword of Mars placed erect on its
summit, and the rude altar consecrated by the blood of sheep, horses,
and probably of human captives. But Attila soon proved a better claim to
a divine commission by leading the hordes of the Huns to victory after
victory, until he threatened to subjugate, if not to depopulate, all
Europe. It was in pursuance of this conquering career that he was
brought, in the year 451, to the banks of the Rhine and the borders of
the future realm of France, then still known as Gaul, and held by the
feeble hand of the expiring empire of Rome.

The broad Rhine proved but a feeble obstacle to the innumerable cavalry
of the Huns. A bridge of boats was quickly built, and across the stream
they poured into the fair provinces of Gaul. Universal consternation
prevailed. Long peace had made the country rich, and had robbed its
people of their ancient valor. As the story goes, the degenerate Gauls
trusted for their defence to the prayers of the saints. St. Lupus saved
Troyes. The prayers of St. Genevieve turned the march of Attila aside
from Paris. Unluckily, most of the cities of the land held neither
saints nor soldiers, and the Huns made these their helpless prey. City
after city was taken and ruined. The fate of Metz will serve as an
example of the policy of the Huns. In this city, as we are told, priests
and infants alike were slain, and the flourishing city was so utterly
destroyed that only a chapel of St. Stephen was left to mark its site.
Its able-bodied inhabitants were probably reserved to be sold as slaves.

And now, in the prosecution of his ruinous march, Attila fixed his camp
before the walls of Orleans, a city which he designed to make the
central post of the dominion which he hoped to establish in Gaul. It was
to be his fortified centre of conquest. Upon it rested the fate of the
whole great province.

Orleans lay behind its walls trembling with dread, as the neigh of the
Hunnish horses sounded in its ears, as the standards of the Hunnish host
floated in the air. Yet it was not quite defenceless. Its walls had been
recently strengthened. Behind them lay a force of soldiers, or of armed
citizens, who repelled the first assaults of the foe. An army was known
to be marching to its relief. All was not lost.

Forty years earlier Rome had fallen before Alaric, the Goth. The empire
was now in the last stages of decreptitude. Yet by fortunate chance it
had an able soldier at the head of its armies, Ætius, the noblest son of
declining Rome. "The graceful figure of Ætius," says a contemporary
historian, "was not above the middle stature; but his manly limbs were
admirably formed for strength, beauty, and agility; and he excelled in
the martial exercises of managing a horse, drawing the bow, and darting
the javelin. He could patiently endure the want of food or of sleep; and
his mind and body were alike capable of the most laborious efforts. He
possessed the genuine courage that can despise not only dangers but
injuries; and it was impossible either to corrupt, or deceive, or
intimidate the firm integrity of his soul."

When the Huns invaded Gaul, this skilled and valiant commander flew to
its relief. To his Roman army he added an army of the Visigoths of
Southern Gaul, under their King Theoderic, and marched to the rescue of
the land. But the gathering of this army took precious time, during
which the foe wrought ruin upon the land. The siege of Orleans had begun
by the time Ætius was fairly ready to begin his march.

In that seemingly doomed city all was terror and dismay. A speedy
capture, a frightful massacre, or a no less frightful enslavement to the
savage Huns, was the dread of the trembling inhabitants. They had no
saint to rescue them by his prayers. All their hope lay in the arms of
their feeble garrison and the encouraging words of their bishop, in
whose heart alone courage seemed to keep alive.

Anianus was the name of this valiant and wise churchman, whose counsels
of hope alone sustained the despairing citizens, whose diligence and
earnestness animated the garrison in its defence. The siege was fierce,
the defence obstinate, the army of relief was known to be on its way, if
they could but hold out till it came. Anianus, counting the days and
hours with intense anxiety, kept a sentinel on the lookout for the first
signs of the advancing host of Romans and Goths. Yet hours and days went
by, and no sign of flashing steel or floating banner could be seen,
until the stout heart of the bishop himself was almost ready to give way
to the despair which possessed so many of the citizens.

The Huns advanced point by point. They were already in the suburbs. The
walls were shaking beneath the blows of their battering-rams. The city
could not much longer be held. At length came a day which threatened to
end with Orleans in the hands of the ruthless foe. And still the
prayed-for relief came not. Hope seemed at an end.

While such of the people as could not bear arms lay prostrate in prayer,
Anianus, hopeful to the last, sent his messenger to the ramparts to look
for the banners of the Roman army. Far and wide, from his lofty outlook,
the keen-eyed sentinel surveyed the surrounding country. In vain he
looked. No moving object was visible, only the line of the forest and
the far-off bordering horizon. He returned with this discouraging

"Go again," said the bishop. "They should have been here before now. Any
minute may bring them. Go again."

The sentinel returned, and again swept the horizon with his eyes, noting
every visible object, seeing nothing to give him hope. With heavy tread
he returned to the bishop, and reported his failure.

"They must be near!" cried Anianus, with nervous impatience. "Go; look
once more. Let nothing escape your eyes."

Back went the messenger, again mounted the rampart, again swept the
plain with his eyes. Nothing,--ah! what was that, on the horizon, at the
very extremity of the landscape, that small, faint cloud, which he had
not seen before? He watched it; it seemed to grow larger and nearer. In
haste he returned to the bishop with the hopeful news.

"I have seen a distant mist, like a far-off cloud of dust," he said. "It
is moving. It comes nearer."

"It is the aid of God!" burst from the lips of the bishop, his heart
suddenly elate with joy. And from the expectant multitude, through whose
ranks ran like wildfire the inspiring tidings, burst the same glad cry,
"It is the aid of God!"

Crowds ran in all haste to the ramparts; hundreds of eyes were fixed on
the far-off, mist-like object; every moment it grew larger and more
distinct; flashes, as of steel, color, as of standards, were gradually
perceived; at last a favorable wind blew aside the dust, and to their
joyful eyes, under this gray canopy, appeared the waving folds of
banners, and under them, in serried array, the squadrons of the Roman
and Gothic troops, pressing forward in all haste to the relief of the
beleaguered city.

Well might the citizens cry, "It is the aid of God!" The army of Ætius
had come not a day, not an hour, too soon. The walls had given way
before the thundering blows of the battering-rams. A breach had been
made through which the Huns were swarming. Only for the desire of Attila
to save the city, it might have been already in flames. As it was, the
savage foes were breaking into the houses in search of plunder, and
dividing such citizens as they had seized into groups to be led into
captivity, when this cry of glad relief broke loudly upon the air.

The news that had aroused the citizens quickly reached the ears of
Attila. A strong army of enemies was at hand. There was no time to
occupy and attempt to defend the city. If his men were assailed by
citizens and soldiers in those narrow streets they might be slaughtered
without mercy. Prudence dictated a retreat.

Attila was as prudent as he was daring. The sound of trumpets recalled
his obedient hordes. Out they swarmed through the openings which had
permitted their entrance. Soon the army of the Huns was in full retreat,
while the advancing host of Romans and Goths marched proudly into the
open gates of the delivered city, with banners proudly floating and
trumpets loudly blaring, while every heart within those walls was in a
thrill of joy. Orleans had been saved, almost by magic as it seemed, for
never had been peril more extreme, need more pressing. An hour more of
delay, and Orleans, perhaps the whole province of Gaul, had been lost.

We may briefly conclude the story of this invasion of the Huns. Attila,
convinced of the strength and spirit of his enemy, retreated in haste,
foreseeing ruin if he should be defeated in the heart of Gaul. He
crossed the Seine, and halted not until he had reached the plains of
Châlons, whose level surface was well adapted to the evolutions of the
skilled horsemen who formed the strength of his hordes.

As he retreated, the Romans and Goths followed, pressing him sharply,
making havoc in his rear-guard, reaching Châlons so closely upon his
march that the Goths, under Torismond, the young and valiant son of
their king, were able to seize a commanding height in the midst of the
field, driving back the Huns who were ascending from the opposite side.

The battle that followed was one of the decisive battles of history. Had
the Huns won the victory, all western Europe might have become their
prey. The victory of Ætius was the first check received by this mighty
horde in their career of ruin and devastation. The conflict, as
described by the historians of the time, was "fierce, various,
obstinate, and bloody, such as could not be paralleled, either in the
present or in past ages." The number of the slain is variously estimated
at from three hundred thousand to about half that number. Exaggerated as
these estimates undoubtedly are, they will serve to indicate the
ferocity and bloody nature of the struggle. For a time it seemed as if
the Huns would win. Led by their king, they broke through the centre of
the allies, separated their wings, turned their whole strength against
the Goths, and slew Theodoric, their king, at the head of his men.

But the victory which seemed theirs was snatched from them by the
valiant Torismond, who descended from the height he had seized, assailed
the Huns with intrepid courage, and so changed the fortune of the field
that Attila was obliged to retreat,--vanquished for the first time in
his long career. The approach of night alone saved the Huns from a total
defeat. They retired within the circle of their wagons, and remained
there as in a fort, while the triumphant allies encamped upon the field.

That night was one of anxiety for Attila. He feared an attack, and knew
that the Huns, dismounted and fighting behind a barricade, were in
imminent danger of defeat. Their strength lay in their horses. On foot
they were but feeble warriors. Dreading utter ruin, Attila prepared a
funeral pile of the saddles and rich equipments of the cavalry,
resolved, if his camp should be forced, to rush into the flames, and
deprive his enemies of the glory of slaying or capturing the great
barbarian king.

The attack did not come. The army of Ætius was in no condition for an
assault. Nor did it seem safe to them to attempt to storm the camp of
their formidable antagonist, who lay behind his wagons, as the
historians of the time say, like a lion in his den, encompassed by the
hunters, and daring them to the attack. His trumpets sounded defiance.
Such troops as advanced to the assault were checked or destroyed by
showers of arrows. It was at length determined, in a council of war, to
besiege the Huns in their camp, and by dread of starvation to force them
into battle on unequal terms, or to a treaty disgraceful to their king.

For this Attila did not wait. Breaking camp he retreated, and by
crossing the Rhine acknowledged his defeat. The Roman empire had won its
last victory in the west, and saved Gaul for the Franks, whose day of
conquest was soon to come.


A beautiful, wise, and well-learned maiden was Clotilde, princess of
Burgundy, the noblest and most charming of the daughters of the Franks.
Such was the story that the voice of fame whispered into the ear of
Clovis, the first of the long line of Frankish kings. Beautiful she was,
but unfortunate. Grief had marked her for its own. Her father had been
murdered. Her two brothers had shared his fate. Her mother had been
thrown into the Rhone, with a stone around her neck, and drowned. Her
sister Chrona had taken religious vows. She remained alone, the last of
her family, not knowing at what moment she might share their fate,
dwelling almost in exile at Geneva, where her days were spent in works
of charity and piety.

It was to her uncle, Gondebaud, king of the Burgundians, that she owed
these misfortunes. Ambition was their cause. The fierce barbarian, in
whom desire for a throne outweighed all brotherly feeling, had murdered
his brother and seized the throne, leaving of the line of Chilperic only
these two helpless girls, one a nun, the other seemingly a devotee.

To the ears of Clovis, the king of the Franks, came, as we have said,
the story of the beauty and misfortunes of this Burgundian maiden, a
scion like himself of the royal line of Germany, but an heir to sorrow
and exposed to peril. Clovis was young, unmarried, and ardent of heart.
He craved the love of this famed maiden, if she should be as beautiful
as report said, but wisely wished to satisfy himself in this regard
before making a formal demand for her hand. He could not himself see
her. Royal etiquette forbade that. Nor did he care to rouse Gondebaud's
suspicions by sending an envoy. He therefore adopted more secret
measures, and sent a Roman, named Aurelian, bidding him to seek Geneva
in the guise of a beggar, and to use all his wit to gain sight of and
speech with the fair Clotilde.

Clothed in rags, and bearing his wallet on his back, like a wandering
mendicant, Aurelian set out on his mission, travelling on foot to
Geneva. Clovis had entrusted him with his ring, as proof of his mission,
in case he should deem the maiden worthy to be the bride of his king.
Geneva was duly reached, and the seeming pilgrim, learning where the
princess dwelt, and her habits of Christian charity towards strangers,
sought her dwelling and begged for alms and shelter. Clotilde received
him with all kindness, bade him welcome, and, in pursuance of the custom
of the times, washed his feet.

Aurelian, who had quickly made up his mind as to the beauty, grace, and
wit of the royal maiden, and her fitness to become a king's bride, bent
towards her as she was thus humbly employed, and in a low voice said,--

"Lady, I have great matters to announce to thee, if thou wilt deign to
grant me secret speech."

Clotilde looked up quickly, and saw deep meaning in his face. "Surely,"
she thought, "this is no common beggar."

"Say on," she remarked, in the same cautious tone.

"Clovis, king of the Franks, has sent me to thee," said Aurelian. "If it
be the will of God, he would fain raise thee to his high rank by
marriage, and that thou mayst be satisfied that I am a true messenger,
he sendeth thee this, his ring."

Clotilde joyfully took the ring, her heart beating high with hope and
desire for revenge. Dismissing her attendants, she warmly thanked the
messenger for his caution, and declared that nothing could give her
greater joy than to be bride to Clovis, the great and valorous king who
was bringing all the land of Gaul under his rule.

"Take in payment for thy pains these hundred sous in gold and this ring
of mine," she said. "Return promptly to thy lord. If he would have my
hand in marriage, let him send messengers without delay to demand me of
my uncle Gondebaud; and bid him direct his messengers, as soon as they
obtain permission, to take me away in haste. If they delay, I fear all
will fail. Aridius, my uncle's counsellor, is on his way back from
Constantinople. If he should arrive, and gain my uncle's ear, before I
am gone, all will come to naught. Haste, then, and advise Clovis that
there be no delay."

Aurelian was willing enough to comply with her request, but he met with
obstacles on the way. Starting back in the same disguise in which he
had come, he made all haste towards Orleans, where he dwelt, and where
he hoped to learn the location of the camp of the warlike Clovis. On
nearing this city, he took for travelling companion a poor mendicant,
whom fortune threw in his way, and with whom he journeyed for miles in
the intimacy of the highway. Growing weary as night approached, and
having confidence in his companion, Aurelian fell asleep by the wayside,
leaving the beggar to watch.

Several hours passed before he awoke. When he did so it was to find, to
his intense alarm, that his companion had vanished and his wallet had
gone, and with it the gold which it contained and Clotilde's precious
ring. In dismay Aurelian hurried to the city, reached his home, and sent
his servants in all directions in search of the thievish mendicant, whom
he felt sure had sought some lurking-place within the city walls.

His surmise was correct. The fellow was found and brought to him, the
wallet and its valuable contents being recovered intact. What was to be
done with the thief? Those were not days of courts and prisons. Men were
apt to interpret law and administer punishment for themselves. Culprits
were hung, thrashed, or set at liberty. Aurelian weighed the offence and
decided on the just measures of retribution. The culprit, so says the
chronicle, was soundly thrashed for three days, and then set free.

Having thus settled this knotty question of law, Aurelian continued his
journey until Clovis was reached, told him what he had seen and what
heard, and gave him Clotilde's ring and message. Clovis was alike
pleased with the favorable report of his messenger and with the
judicious advice of the maiden. He sent a deputation at once to
Gondebaud, bidding the envoys to make no delay either in going or
returning, and to demand of Gondebaud the hand of his niece in marriage.

They found Gondebaud, and found him willing. The request of the powerful
Clovis was not one to be safely refused, and the Burgundian king was
pleased with the idea of gaining his friendship, by giving him his niece
in marriage. His consent gained, the deputation offered him a denier and
a sou, according to the marriage customs of the Franks, and espoused
Clotilde in the name of Clovis. Word was at once sent to Clovis of their
success, and without delay the king's council was assembled at Châlons,
and preparations made for the marriage.

Meanwhile, news startling to Clotilde had reached Geneva. Aridius was on
his way back. He had arrived at Marseilles, and was travelling with all
speed towards Burgundy. The alarmed woman, in a fever of impatience,
hastened the departure of the Franks, seemingly burning with desire to
reach the court of the king, really cold with fear at the near approach
of the shrewd Aridius, whose counsel she greatly dreaded. Her nervous
haste expedited matters. Gondebaud formally transferred her to the
Franks, with valuable gifts which he sent as a marriage portion, and
the cortege set out, Clotilde in a covered carriage, her attendants and
escort on horseback. And thus slowly moved away this old-time

But not far had they left the city behind them when Clotilde's
impatience with their slow movement displayed itself. She had kept
herself advised. Aridius was near at hand. He might reach Geneva that
very day. Calling to her carriage the leaders of her escort, she said,--

"Good sirs, if you hope to take me into the presence of your lord, you
must find me better means of speed than this slow carriage. Let me
descend, mount on horseback, and then away as fast as we may. Much I
fear that, in this carriage, I shall never see Clovis, your king."

Learning the reason of her haste, they did as requested, and mounted on
one of their swiftest steeds, Clotilde swept onward to love and
vengeance, leaving the lumbering carriage to follow with her female
attendants at its slow will.

She was none too soon. Not long had she left her uncle's court before
Aridius reached it. Gondebaud, who had unbounded respect for and
confidence in him, received him joyfully, and said, after their first

"I have just completed a good stroke of policy. I have made friends with
the Franks, and given my niece Clotilde to Clovis in marriage."

"You have?" exclaimed Aridius, in surprise and alarm. "And you deem this
a bond of friendship? To my poor wit, Gondebaud, it is a pledge of
perpetual strife. Have you forgotten, my lord, that you killed
Clotilde's father and drowned her mother, and that you cut off the heads
of her brothers and threw their bodies into a well? What think you this
woman is made of? If she become powerful, will not revenge be her first
and only thought? She is not far gone; if you are wise you will send at
once a troop in swift pursuit, and bring her back. She is but one, the
Franks are many. You will find it easier to bear the wrath of one person
than for you and yours to be perpetually at war with all the Franks."

Gondebaud saw the wisdom of these words, and lost no time in taking his
councillor's advice. A troop was sent, with orders to ride at all speed,
and bring back Clotilde with the carriage and the treasure.

The carriage and the treasure they did bring back; but not Clotilde.
She, with her escort, was already far away, riding in haste for the
frontier of Burgundy. Clovis had advanced to meet her, and was awaiting
at Villers, in the territory of Troyes, at no great distance from the
border of Burgundy. But before reaching this frontier, Clotilde gave
vent to revengeful passion, crying to her escort,--

"Ride right and left! Plunder and burn! Do what damage you may to this
hated country from which Heaven has delivered me!"

Then, as they rode away on their mission of ruin, to which they had
obtained permission from Clovis, she cried aloud,--

"I thank thee, God omnipotent, for that I see in this the beginning of
the vengeance which I owe to my slaughtered parents and brethren!"

In no long time afterwards she joined Clovis, who received her with a
lover's joy, and in due season the marriage was celebrated, with all the
pomp and ceremony of which those rude times were capable.

Thus ends the romantic story told us by the chronicler Frédégaire,
somewhat too romantic to be accepted for veracious history, we fear. Yet
it is interesting as a picture of the times, and has doubtless in it an
element of fact--though it may have been colored by imagination.
Aurelian and Aridius are historical personages, and what we know of them
is in keeping with what is here told of them. So the reader may, if he
will, accept the story as an interesting compound of reality and

But there is more to tell. Clotilde had an important historical part to
play, which is picturesquely described by the chronicler, Gregory of
Tours. She was a Christian, Clovis a pagan; it was natural that she
should desire to convert her husband, and through him turn the nation of
the Franks into worshippers of Christ. She had a son, whom she wished to
have baptized. She begged her husband to yield to her wishes.

"The gods you worship," she said, "are of wood, stone, or metal. They
are nought, and can do nought for you or themselves."

"It is by command of our gods that all things are created," answered
Clovis. "It is plain that your God has no power. There is no proof that
he is even of the race of gods."

Yet he yielded to her wishes and let the child be baptized. Soon
afterwards the infant died, and Clovis reproached her bitterly.

"Had he been dedicated to my gods he would still be alive," he said. "He
was baptized in the name of your God, and you see the end; he could not

A second son was born, and was also baptized. He, too, fell sick.

"It will be with him as with his brother," said Clovis. "You have had
your will in baptizing him, and he is going to die. Is this the power of
your Christ?"

But the child lived, and Clovis grew less incredulous of the God of his
wife. In the year 496 war broke out between him and a German tribe. The
Germans were successful, the Franks wavering, Clovis was anxious. Before
hurrying to the front he had promised his wife--so says Frédégaire--to
become a Christian if the victory were his. Others say that he made this
promise at the suggestion of Aurelian, at a moment when the battle
seemed lost. However that be, the tide of battle turned, the victory
remained with the Franks, the Germans were defeated and their king

Clotilde, fearing that he would forget his promise, sent secretly to St.
Remy, bishop of Rheims, to come and use his influence with the king. He
did so, and fervently besought Clovis to accept the Christian faith.

"I would willingly listen to you, holy father," said Clovis, "but I fear
that the people who follow me will not give up their gods. I am about to
assemble them, and will repeat to them your words."

He found them more ready than he deemed. The story of his promise and
the victory that followed it had, doubtless, strongly influenced them.
Before he could speak, most of those present cried out,--

"We abjure the mortal gods; we are ready to follow the immortal God whom
Remy preaches."

About three thousand of the Franks, however, refused to give up their
old faith, and deserted Clovis, joining the Frankish King of
Cambrai--who was before long to pay dearly for this addition to his

Christmas-day, 496, was fixed by Remy for the ceremony of baptism of the
king and his followers, and on that day, with impressive ceremonies,
Clovis the king and about three thousand of his warriors were made
Christians, and the maker of the French nation was received into the
fold of the Church. From that time forward Clovis won victory after
victory over his surrounding enemies. He had been born leader of a
tribe. He died king of a nation.

As regards Gundebaud, the result proved as Aridius predicted, whether or
not through the personal influence of Clotilde upon her husband. Clovis
broke his truce with Gondebaud, and entered Burgundy with an army.
Gondebaud was met and defeated at Dijon, partly through the treachery of
his brother, whom Clovis had won over. He fled to Avignon and shut
himself up in that stronghold. Clovis pursued and besieged him.
Gondebaud, filled with alarm, asked counsel of Aridius, who told him
that he had brought this upon himself.

"I will save you, though," he said. "I will feign to fly and go over to
Clovis. Trust me to act so that he shall ruin neither you nor your land.
But you must do what I ask."

"I will do whatever you bid," said Gondebaud.

Aridius thereupon sought Clovis, in the guise of a deserter from
Gondebaud. But such was his intelligence, the charm of his conversation,
the wisdom and good judgment of his counsel, that Clovis was greatly
taken with him, and yielded to his advice.

"You gain nothing by ravaging the fields, cutting down the vines, and
destroying the harvests of your adversary," he said, "while he defies
you in his stronghold. Rather send him deputies, and lay on him a
tribute to be paid you every year. Thus the land will be preserved, and
you be lord forever over him who owes you tribute. If he refuse, then do
what pleases you."

Clovis deemed the advice good, did as requested, and found Gondebaud
more than willing to become his tributary vassal. And thus ended the
contest between them, Burgundy becoming a tributary province of France.


From the days of Clovis to the days of Charles Martel and Charlemagne
the history of the Frankish realm, so far as its kingship is concerned,
is almost a blank. It was an era of several centuries of incompetent and
sluggish monarchs, of whom we can say little more than that they were
born and died; they can scarcely be said to have reigned. But from the
midst of this dull interregnum of Merovingian sluggards comes to us the
story of two queens, women of force and power, whose biography is full
of the elements of romance. As a picture of the manners and customs of
the Merovingian epoch we cannot do better than to tell the stories of
these queens, Fredegonde and Brunehild by name, whose rivalry and
enmity, with their consequences, throw a striking light on the history
of those obscure times.

What is now France was at that time divided into three kingdoms,
Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy, King Chilperic reigning over
Austrasia; King Sigebert over Neustria. But the power behind the throne
lay in the wives of these kings, with whom alone we have to do.
Contrasted characters they were,--Fredegonde wicked, faithless,
self-seeking; Brunehild patriotic and devoted to the good of her
country; yet in the end wickedness triumphed, and honesty died a
violent and frightful death. With this preliminary we may proceed with
our tale.

Fredegonde was the daughter of poor peasants, who dwelt in the vicinity
of Montdidier in Picardy. But so striking and notable was her beauty
that at an early age she was made, under circumstances of which we are
not informed, one of the ladies in waiting on Queen Andovere, the first
wife of King Chilperic. The poor queen was destined to suffer from the
artfulness of her maid. The beauty of Fredegonde quickly attracted the
attention of the king, and her skilful and unscrupulous arts soon made
her a power in the court. The queen was in her way; but no long time
passed before, on the pretext of a spiritual relationship with her
husband which rendered the marriage illegal, the hapless Andovere was
repudiated and banished to a convent.

But Chilperic was not yet ready to marry a peasant. He chose for his
second wife Galsuinthe, daughter of the king of the Visigoths. This
marriage lasted a still shorter time than the other. Galsuinthe was
found strangled in her bed; and now, no longer able to restrain his
passion for the beautiful and artful maid of honor, Chilperic married
Fredegonde, and raised the peasant maiden to the throne for which she
had so deeply and darkly wrought.

The marriage of Galsuinthe had been preceded by that of her younger
sister, Brunehild, who became the wife of Sigebert, brother of Chilperic
and king of Austrasia. The murder of Galsuinthe was ascribed by
Brunehild to Fredegonde, with excellent reason if we may judge from her
subsequent career, and from that day on an undying hatred existed
between the two queens. To this the stirring incidents of their after
lives were due. War broke out between the two kings, probably inspired
by Brunehild's thirst for revenge for her sister's death on the one
hand, and the ambition and hatred of Fredegonde on the other. Sigebert
was successful in the field, but treachery soon robbed him of the fruits
of victory. He was murdered in his tent (in the year 575) by two
assassins in the pay of Queen Fredegonde.

This murder gave Chilperic the ascendancy. Sigebert's army disbanded,
and Brunehild, as the only means of preserving her life, sought an
asylum in the cathedral of Paris. And now the scene becomes one of rapid
changes, in which the unscrupulous Fredegonde plays the leading part.
Chilperic, not daring to offend the church by slaying the fugitive queen
under its protection, sent her to Rouen. Here the widowed lady, her
beauty rendered more attractive by her misfortunes, was seen and loved
by Merovée, the son of Chilperic by his first wife, then in that town on
a mission from his father. Fired with passion for the hapless queen, he
married her privately, the Bishop of Rouen sealing their union.

This imprudent action soon became known at the court of Chilperic, and
the ambitious Fredegonde hastened to turn it to her advantage. Merovée
was heir to the throne of Chilperic. He was in her way, and had now
given her a pretext for his removal. Chilperic, who seems to have been
the weak slave of her designs, would have seized both Merovée and his
bride but for the Austrasians, who demanded that their queen Brunehild
should be restored to them, and enforced their demands with threats. She
was surrendered; but Merovée, under the influence of his step-mother,
was imprisoned, then shorn and shut up in a monastery, and afterwards
became a fugitive, and was urged to head a rebellion against his father.
Such was the terror, however, which the unhappy youth entertained for
his cruel step-mother, that he put an end to his existence by suicide,
inducing a faithful servant to strike him dead.

Fredegonde's success in getting rid of one of the heirs to the throne,
only partly satisfied her ambitious views. There was another son,
Clovis, brother of Merovée. To rid herself of him the wily queen took
another course. Three of her own children had recently died, and she
ascribed their death to Clovis, whom she accused of sorcery. He was
seized under this charge, thrown into prison, and there ended his
career, a poniard-thrust closing his brief tale of life. The tale of
murders in this direction was completed by that of the repudiated Queen
Andovere, who was soon found strangled in the convent to which she had
been consigned.

Fredegonde had thus rid herself of all claimants to the throne outside
of herself and her descendants, Galsuinthe having left no children.
Though death had recently robbed her of three children, one survived, a
son named Clotaire, then a few months old. Her next act of treachery was
to make away with her weak and confiding husband, perhaps that she might
reign alone, perhaps through fear that Chilperic might discover her
guilty relations with Landry, an officer of the court, and subsequently
mayor of the palace. Whatever the reason, soon after these events, King
Chilperic, while in the act of dismounting on his return from the chase,
was struck two mortal blows by a man who took to rapid flight, while all
around the cry was raised, "Treason! it is the hand of the Austrasian
Childebert against our lord the king!"

The readiness with which this cry was raised seemed evidence of its
falsity. Men ascribed it and the murder to emissaries of Fredegonde.
But, heedless of their opinions, she installed herself as sovereign
guardian of her infant son, and virtual reigning queen of Neustria. It
was now the year 584. Fredegonde had by her beauty, ambition, boldness,
and unscrupulousness raised herself from the lowly rank of a peasant's
daughter to the high position of sovereign over a great dominion, a
queenship which she was to hold during the remainder of her life, her
strong will, effrontery, artifice, skill in deception, and readiness to
strengthen her position by crime, enabling her to overcome all
resistance and maintain her ascendancy over the restless and barbarous
elements of the kingdom she ruled. She was a true product of the times,
one born to become dominant over a barbarous people.

Gregory of Tours tells a story of Chilperic and Fredegonde, which will
bear repetition here. In addition to the sons of Chilperic, of whom the
queen disposed as we have seen, he had a daughter, Rigouthe by name,
whom he promised in marriage to Prince Recared, son of the king of the
Visigoths of Spain.

"A grand deputation of Goths came to Paris to fetch the Frankish
princess. King Chilperic ordered several families in the fiscal domains
to be seized and placed in cars. As a great number of them wept and were
not willing to go, he had them kept in prison that he might more easily
force them to go away with his daughter. It is said that several, in
their despair, hung themselves, fearing to be taken from their parents.
Sons were separated from fathers, daughters from mothers, and all
departed with deep groans and maledictions, and in Paris there reigned a
desolation like that of Egypt. Not a few, of superior birth, being
forced to go away, even made wills whereby they left their possessions
to the churches, and demanded that, so soon as the young girl should
have entered Spain, their wills should be opened just as if they were
already in their graves.

"When King Chilperic gave up his daughter to the ambassadors of the
Goths, he presented them with vast treasures. Queen Fredegonde added
thereto so great a quantity of gold and silver and valuable vestments
that, at the sight thereof, the king thought he must have nought
remaining. The queen, perceiving his emotion, turned to the Franks, and
said to them,--

"'Think not, warriors, that there is here aught of the treasures of
former kings. All that ye see is taken from my own possessions, for my
most glorious king has made me many gifts. Thereto have I added of the
fruits of my own toil, and a great part proceeds from the revenues I
have drawn, either in kind or in money, from the houses that have been
ceded unto me. Ye yourselves have given me riches, and ye see here a
portion thereof; but there is here nought of the public treasure.'

"And the king was deceived into believing her words. Such was the
multitude of golden and silver articles and other precious things that
it took fifty wagons to hold them. The Franks, on their part, made many
offerings; some gave gold, others silver, sundry gave horses, but most
of them vestments.

"At last the young girl, with many tears and kisses, said farewell. As
she was passing through the gate an axle of her carriage broke, and all
cried out 'Alack!' which was interpreted by some as a presage. She
departed from Paris, and at eight miles' distance from the city she had
her tents pitched. During the night fifty men arose and, having taken a
hundred of the best horses, and as many golden bits and bridles, and two
large silver dishes, fled away, and took refuge with King Childebert.
During the whole journey whoever could escape fled away with all that
he could lay hands on. It was required also of all the towns that were
traversed on the way that they should make great preparations to defray
expenses, for the king forbade any contribution from the treasury. All
the charges were met by extraordinary taxes levied upon the poor."

In this story there is probably much exaggeration, but it has its
significance as a picture of life in the dark ages, from one to the
manner born. So far as Fredegonde was concerned, the marriage of
Rigouthe removed from her path one possible future rival for the throne.

Twice in the foregoing pages Childebert of Austrasia has been mentioned.
Who was this Childebert, it may be asked? He was the son of Brunehild,
whom the Austrasians had preserved after the murder of their king, and
as a guardian for whom they had insisted on the return, by Chilperic, of
the captive queen. Brunehild from that time reigned in Austrasia during
the minority of her son, and in a manner in striking contrast with the
reign of her wicked rival.

Unlike the latter, she was a princess by birth, and of that race of
Gothic kings who had preserved some traces of the Roman civilization.
Fredegonde was a barbarian, Brunehild a scion of a semi-civilization and
far superior to her rival in culture and intellectual power. As a queen
she did so much for her country that her name as a public benefactor was
long afterwards remembered in the land. The highways, the bridges, all
the public works of the state received her careful attention, so much so
that the Roman roads in Austrasia received, and long retained, the name
of "Brunehild's Causeways." Her name was associated with many other
things in the land. In a forest near Bourges men long pointed out
"Brunehild's castle," at Etampes was shown "Brunehild's tower," and near
Cahors "Brunehild's fort." A more interesting evidence of her activity
for the good of her people for ages existed in the by-word of
"Brunehild's alms," which long retained the evidence of her abundant
charities. She protected men of letters,--a rare production in that
day,--and in return we find one of them, Fortunatus, bishop of Poitiers,
dedicating poems to her.

But the life of Queen Brunehild was far from being a quiet one. In
addition to her conflicts with her mortal foe, Queen Fredegonde, she had
her own nobles to fight against. They seem to have detested her from the
fact that her palace was filled with royal officers and favorites, whose
presence excited the jealousy of the great landholders and warriors. But
Brunehild protected them, with unyielding courage, against their foes,
and proved herself every inch a queen. It was a semblance of the Roman
imperial monarchy which she wished to establish in Austrasia, and to her
efforts in this direction were due her struggles with the turbulent
lords of the land, whose opposition gave her more and more trouble as
time went on.

A story of this conflict is told by Gregory of Tours. One of the palace
officers of the queen, Lupus, a Roman by birth, but made by her duke of
Champagne, "was being constantly insulted and plundered by his enemies,
especially by Ursion Bertfried. At last, having agreed to slay him, they
marched against him with an army. At the sight, Brunehild,
compassionating the evil case of one of her lieges unjustly presented,
assumed a manly courage, and threw herself among the hostile battalions,
crying, 'Stay, warriors; refrain from this wicked deed; persecute not
the innocent; engage not, for a single man's sake, in a battle which
will desolate the country!' 'Back, woman!' said Ursion to her; 'let it
suffice thee to have ruled under thy husband's sway. Now it is thy son
that reigns, and his kingdom is under our protection, not thine. Back!
if thou wouldst not that the hoofs of our horses trample thee under as
the dust of the ground!' After the dispute had lasted some time in this
strain, the queen, by her address, at last prevented the battle from
taking place."

The words of Ursion were prophetic. To be trampled under horses' hoofs
into the dust was the final fate of the queen, though for many years yet
she was to retain her power and to keep up her strife with the foes who
surrounded her. Far nobler of soul than Fredegonde, she was as strong in
all those qualities which go to make a vigorous queen.

But we must hasten on to the end of these royal rivals. Fredegonde died
quietly in Paris, in 597, powerful to her death, and leaving on the
throne her son Clotaire II., whom she had infected with all her hatred
against the queen of Austrasia. Brunehild lived till 614, thirty-nine
years after the death of her husband Sigebert, and through the reigns of
her son and two of her grandsons, who were but puppets in her hands. Her
later years were marked by lack of womanly virtue, and by an
unscrupulousness in ridding herself of her enemies significant of
barbarous times. At length, when she had reached the advanced age of
eighty years, she was deserted by her army and her people whom the
crimes imputed to her had incensed, and fell into the hands of her
mortal foe, Clotaire II., in whom all the venom of his cruel mother
seemed retained.

After having subjected the aged queen to base and gross insults and
severe tortures, the crowned wretch had her paraded on a camel in front
of his whole army, and then tied by one arm, one foot, and hair of her
head to the tail of an unbroken horse, which dashed and kicked her to
pieces as he rushed away in affright, before the eyes of the ferocious
Clotaire and his army.

By the death of Brunehild and her sons, whom Clotaire also put to death,
this king became master of Austrasia, and thus lord of all the Frankish
realm, the successor in power of the two queens whose story stands out
so prominently in that dark and barbarous age.


From the long, straight ridge of the Pyrenees, stretching from the Bay
of Biscay to the Mediterranean, and dividing the land of France from
that of Spain, there extend numerous side-hills, like buttresses to the
main mountain mass, running far into the plains on either side. Between
these rugged buttresses lie narrow valleys, now spreading into broad
amphitheatres, now contracting into straightened ravines, winding upward
to the passes across the mountain chain. Dense forests often border
these valleys, covering the mountain-sides and summits, and hiding with
their deep-green foliage the rugged rocks from which they spring. Such
is the scene of the celebrated story which we have next to tell.

All these mountain valleys are filled with legends, centring around a
great event and a mighty hero of the remote past, whose hand and sword
made famous the little vale of Roncesvalles, which lies between the
defiles of Sizer and Val Carlos, in the land of the Basques. This hero
was Roland, the nephew of the great emperor Charlemagne, who has been
given by romantic fiction the first place among the legendary Paladins
of France, and made memorable in epic poetry as the hero of the
celebrated "Orlando Furioso" of Ariosto, and the less notable "Orlando
Innamorato" of Boiardo.

All these stories are based upon a very slender fabric of history, which
would have been long since forgotten had not legend clung to it with so
loving a hand, and credited its hero with such a multitude of marvellous
deeds. The history of the event is preserved for us by Eginhard, the
secretary and annalist of Charlemagne. He takes few words to tell what
has given rise to innumerable strophes.

In the year 778, Charlemagne invaded Spain, then almost wholly in the
hands of the Saracens. His march was a victorious one until Saragossa
was reached. Here he found himself before a well-supplied,
strongly-fortified, and fully-garrisoned city, while his own army was
none too well provided with food. In the end he found it expedient to
retreat, leaving Saragossa still in Saracen hands.

The retreat was conducted without loss until the Pyrenees were reached.
These were crossed by the main body of the army without hostile
disturbance, leaving to follow the baggage-train and a rear-guard under
the king's nephew Roland, prefect of the Marches of Brittany, with whom
were Eginhard, master of the household, and Anselm, count of the palace;
while legend adds the names of Oliver, Roland's bosom friend, the
warlike Archbishop Turpin, and other warriors of renown.

Their route lay through the pass of Roncesvalles so narrow at points
that only two, or at most three men could move abreast, while the rugged
bordering hills were covered with dense forest, affording a secure
retreat for an ambushing foe. It was when the main body of the army was
miles in advance, and the rear-guard struggling up this narrow defile,
that disaster came. Suddenly the surrounding woods and mountains
bristled with life. A host of light-armed Basque mountaineers emerged
from the forest, and poured darts and arrows upon the crowded columns of
heavily-armed Franks below. Rocks were rolled down the steep
declivities, crushing living men beneath their weight. The surprised
troops withdrew in haste to the bottom of the valley, death pursuing
them at every step. The battle that followed was doubtless a severe and
hotly-contested one; the prominent place it has gained in tradition
indicates that the Franks must have defended themselves valiantly; but
they fought at a terrible disadvantage, and in the end they were killed
to a man. Then the assailants, rich with the plunder which they had
obtained from the baggage-wagons and the slain bodies, vanished into the
forests whence they came, leaving to Charlemagne, when he returned in
search of Roland and his men, only the silence of death and the livid
heaps of the slain in that terrible valley of slaughter.

Such is the sober fact. Fancy has adorned it with a thousand loving
fictions. In the valleys are told a multitude of tales connected with
Roland's name. A part of his armor has given its name to a flower of the
hills, the _casque de Roland_, a species of hellebore. The _breiche de
Roland_, a deep fissure in the mountain crest, is ascribed to a stroke
of his mighty blade. The sound of his magic horn still seems to echo
around those rugged crests and pulse through those winding valleys, as
it did on the day when, as legend says, it was borne to the ears of
Charlemagne miles away, and warned him of the deadly peril of his
favorite chieftain.

This horn is reputed to have had magical powers. Its sound was so
intense as to split all other horns. The story goes that Roland, himself
sadly wounded, his fellows falling thickly around him, blew upon it so
mighty a blast that the veins and nerves of his neck burst under the
effort. The sound reached the ears of Charlemagne, then encamped eight
miles away, in the Val Carlos pass.

"It is Roland's horn," he cried. "He never blows it except the extremity
be great. We must hasten to his aid."

"I have known him to sound it on light occasions," answered Ganalon,
Roland's secret foe. "He is, perhaps, pursuing some wild beast, and the
sound echoes through the wood. It would be fruitless to lead back your
weary host to seek him."

Charlemagne yielded to his specious argument, and Roland and all his
followers died. Charles afterwards discovered the body with the arms
extended in the form of a cross, and wept over it his bitterest tears.
"There did Charlemagne," says the legend, "mourn for Orlando to the very
last day of his life. On the spot where he died he encamped and caused
the body to be embalmed with balsam, myrrh, and aloes. The whole camp
watched it that night, honoring his corpse with hymns and songs, and
innumerable torches and fires kindled in the adjacent mountains."

At the battle of Hastings the minstrel Taillefer, as we have elsewhere
told, rode before the advancing Norman host, singing the "Song of
Roland," till a British hand stilled his song and laid him low in death.
This ancient song is attributed, though doubtfully, to Turold, that
abbot of Peterborough who was so detested by Hereward the Wake. From it
came many of the stories which afterwards were embodied in the epic
legends of mediæval days. To quote a few passages from it may not be
amiss. The poet tells us that Roland refused to blow his magic horn in
the beginning of the battle. In the end, when ruin and death were
gathering fast around, and blood was flowing freely from his own veins,
he set his lips to the mighty instrument, and filled vales and mountains
with its sound.

    "With pain and dolor, groan and pant,
    Count Roland sounds his Olifant:
    The crimson stream shoots from his lips;
    The blood from bursten temple drips;
    But far, oh, far, the echoes ring,
    And in the defiles reach the king,
    Reach Naymes and the French array;
    ''Tis Roland's horn,' the king doth say;
    'He only sounds when brought to bay,'
    How huge the rocks! how dark and steep
    The streams are swift; the valleys deep!
    Out blare the trumpets, one and all,
    As Charles responds to Roland's call.
    Round wheels the king, with choler mad
    The Frenchmen follow, grim and sad;
    No one but prays for Roland's life,
    Till they have joined him in the strife.
    But, ah! what prayer can alter fate?
    The time is past; too late! too late!"

The fight goes on. More of the warriors fall. Oliver dies. Roland and
Turpin continue the fight. Once more a blast is sent from the magic

    "Then Roland takes his horn once more;
    His blast is feebler than before,
    But still it reaches the emperor;
    He hears it, and he halts to shout,
    'Let clarions, one and all, ring out!'
    Then sixty thousand clarions ring,
    And rocks and dales set echoing.
    And they, too, hear,--the pagan pack;
    They force the rising laughter back:
    'Charles, Charles,' they cry, 'is on our track!'
    They fly; and Roland stands alone,--
    Alone, afoot; his steed is gone."

Turpin dies. Roland remains the sole survivor of the host, and he hurt
unto death. He falls on the field in a swoon. A wounded Saracen rises,
and, seeing him, says,--

"Vanquished, he is vanquished, the nephew of Charles! There is his
sword, which I will carry off to Arabia." He knew not the power of the
dying hero.

    "And as he makes to draw the steel,
    A something does Sir Roland feel;
    He opes his eyes, says nought but this,
    'Thou art not one of us, I wis,'
    Raises the horn he could not quit,
    And cracks the pagan's skull with it....
    And then the touch of death that steals
    Down, down from head to heart he feels;
    Under yon pine he hastes away
    On the green turf his head to lay;
    Placing beneath him horn and sword,
    He turns towards the Paynim horde,
    And there, beneath the pine, he sees
    A vision of old memories;
    A thought of realms he helped to win,
    Of his sweet France, of kith and kin,
    And Charles, his lord, who nurtured him."

And here let us take our leave of Roland the brave, whose brief story of
fact has been rounded into so vast a story of fiction that the actual
histories of few men equal in extent that of this hero of romance.


Striking is the story which the early centuries of modern Europe have to
tell us. After the era of the busy building of empire in which the
sturdy old Romans were the active agents, there came an era of the
overthrow of empire, during which the vast results of centuries of
active civilization seemed about to sink and be lost in the seething
whirlpool of barbarism. The wild hordes of the north of Europe
overflowed the rich cities and smiling plains of the south, and left
ruin where they found wealth and splendor. Later, the half-savage
nomades of eastern Europe and northern Asia--the devastating
Huns--poured out upon the budding kingdoms which had succeeded the
mighty empire of Rome, and threatened to trample under foot all that was
left of the work of long preceding ages. Civilization had swung downward
into barbarism; was barbarism to swing downward into savagery, and man
return to his primitive state?

Against such a conceivable fate of Europe Charlemagne served as a mighty
bulwark, and built by his genius an impermeable wall against the torrent
of savage invasion, saying to its inflowing waves, "Thus far shalt thou
come, and no farther." Attila, the "Scourge of God," in the track of
whose horses' hoofs "no grass could grow," met his only great defeat at
Châlons-sur-Marne, on the soil of Gaul. He died in Hungary; his hordes
were scattered; Europe again began to breathe. But not long had the Huns
of Attila ceased their devastations when another tribe of Hunnish origin
appeared, and began a like career of ravage and ruin. These called
themselves Avars. Small in numbers at first, they grew by vanquishing
and amalgamating other tribes of Huns until they became the terror and
threatened to become the masters of Europe. Hungary, the centre of
Attila's great circle of power, was made their place of abode. Here was
the palace and stronghold of their monarchs, the Chagans, and here they
continued a threat to all the surrounding nations, while enjoying the
vast spoils which they had wrung from ruined peoples.

Time passed on; civilization showed feeble signs of recovery; France and
Italy became its abiding-places; but barbarian invasion still threatened
these lands, and no security could be felt while the hordes of the north
and east remained free to move at will. This was the task that
Charlemagne was born to perform. Before his day the Huns of the east,
the Saxons of the north, the Moors of the south kept the growing
civilization of France in constant alarm. After his day aggression by
land was at an end; only by sea could the north invade the south.

The record of the deeds of Charlemagne is a long one. The Saxons were
conquered and incorporated into the kingdom of the Franks. Then
collision with the Avars took place. The story of how Charlemagne dealt
with these savage hordes is one of the most interesting episodes in the
extended tale of his wars, and we therefore select it for our present
theme. The Avars had long been quiet, but now again began to stir,
making two invasions, one of Lombardy, the other of Bavaria. Both were
repelled. Stung by defeat, they raised a greater army than before, and
in 788 crossed the Danube, determined in their savage souls to teach
these proud Franks a lesson, and write on their land in blood the old
story of the prowess and invincibility of the Huns. To their alarm and
astonishment they found themselves not only checked, but utterly routed,
thousands of them being left dead upon the field, and other thousands
swallowed up by the Danube, in their wild effort to swim that swollen

This brings us to the record of the dealings of Charlemagne with the
Huns, who had thus dared to invade his far-extending kingdom. Vast had
been the work of this mighty monarch in subduing the unquiet realms
around him. Italy had been made a part of his dominions, Spain invaded
and quieted, and the Saxons, the fiercest people of the north, forced to
submit to the power of the Franks. Now the Avars of Hungary, the most
dangerous of the remaining neighbors of Charlemagne's great empire, were
to be dealt with.

During the two years succeeding their defeat, overtures for peace
passed between the Avars and Charlemagne, overtures which, perhaps, had
their chief purpose in the desire to gain time to prepare for war.

These nomadic hordes were celebrated alike for their cunning and their
arrogance,--cunning when they had an object to gain, arrogance when they
had gained it. In their dealings with Charlemagne they displayed the
same mixture of artfulness and insolence which they had employed in
their dealings with the empire of the East. But they had now to do with
a different man from the weak emperors of Constantinople. Charlemagne
continued his negotiations, but prepared for hostilities, and in the
spring of 791 put himself at the head of a powerful army, prepared to
repay the barbarian hordes with some of the havoc which they had dealt
out to the other nations of Europe.

It was no light task he had undertaken, and the great general made ready
for it with the utmost care and deliberation. He was about to invade a
country of great resources, of remarkable natural and artificial
defences, and inhabited by a people celebrated for their fierceness and
impetuosity, and who had hitherto known little besides victory. And he
was to leave behind him in his march a kingdom full of unquiet elements,
which needed the presence of his strong arm and quick mind to keep it in
subjection. He knew not but that the Saxons might rise upon his march
and spread ruin upon his path. There was one way to avoid this, and that
he took. Years before, he had incorporated the Lombards with his army,
and found them to fight as valiantly for him as against him. He now did
the same with the Saxons, drafting a large body of them into his ranks,
with the double purpose of weakening the fighting power of the nation,
and employing their fierce courage in his own service. All winter the
world of the Franks was in commotion, preparing for war. The chroniclers
of the times speak of "innumerable multitudes" which the great conqueror
set in motion in the early spring.

The army marched in three grand divisions. One entered Bavaria, joined
to itself recruits raised in that country, and descended the Danube in
boats, which carried also an abundance of provisions and military
stores. A second division, under Charlemagne himself, marched along the
southern side of the river; and a third, under his generals Theoderic
and Meginfried, along its northern banks. The emperor had besides sent
orders to his son Pepin, king of Italy, bidding him to lead an army of
Lombards and other Italians to the frontier of Hungary, and co-operate
with the other troops.

Before telling the story of the expedition, it behooves us to give some
account of the country which the king of the Franks was about to invade,
and particularly to describe the extraordinary defences and interior
conditions with which it is credited by the gossipy old Monk of St.
Gall, the most entertaining, though hardly the most credible, writer of
that period. All authors admit that the country of the Avars was
defended by an ingenious and singular system of fortifications. The
account we propose to give, the Monk of St. Gall declares that he wrote
down from the words of an eye-witness, Adelbart by name, who took part
in the expedition. But one cannot help thinking that either this
eye-witness mingled a strong infusion of imagination with his vision, or
that the monk added fiction to his facts, with the laudable purpose of
making an attractive story. Such as it is, we give it, without further

Nine concentric circles of palisaded walls, says the garrulous old monk,
surrounded the country of the Avars, the outer one enclosing the entire
realm of Hungary, the inner ones growing successively smaller, the
innermost being the central fortification within which dwelt the Chagan,
with his palace and his treasures. These walls were made of double rows
of palisades of oak, beech, and pine logs, twenty feet high and twenty
feet asunder, the interval between them being filled with stone and
lime. Thus was formed a great wall, which at a distance must have
presented a singular appearance, since the top was covered with soil and
planted with bushes and trees.

The outermost wall surrounded the whole country. Within it, at a
distance of twenty Teutonic, or forty Italian, miles, was a second, of
smaller diameter, but constructed in the same manner. At an equal
distance inward was a third, and thus they continued inward, fortress
after fortress, to the number of nine, the outer one rivalling the
Chinese wall in extent, the inner one--the _ring_, as it was
called--being of small diameter, and enclosing a central space within
which the Avars guarded the accumulated wealth of centuries of conquest
and plunder.

The only places of exit from these great palisaded fortifications were
very narrow gates, or sally-ports, opening at proper intervals, and well
guarded by armed sentinels. The space between the successive ramparts
was a well-wooded and thickly-settled country, filled with villages and
homesteads, so close together that the sound of a trumpet could be heard
from one to the other, and thus an alarm from the exterior be conveyed
with remarkable rapidity throughout the whole land.

This and more the veracious Monk of St. Gall tells us. As to believing
him, that is quite another matter. Sufficient is told by other writers
to convince us that the country was guarded by strong and singular
defences, but the nine concentric circles of breastworks, surpassing the
Chinese wall in length and size, the reader is quite privileged to

Certainly the defences failed to check the advance of the army of
Charlemagne. Though he had begun his march in the spring, so extensive
were his preparations that it was September before he reached the banks
of the river Enns, the border line between Bavaria and Hungary. Here the
army encamped for three days, engaged in prayers for victory, and here
encouraging news came to Charlemagne. His son Pepin, with the Duke of
Friuli, had already invaded Hungary, met an army of the Avars, and
defeated it with great slaughter. The news of this success must have
invigorated the army under Charlemagne. Breaking camp, they invaded the
country of the Avars, advancing with the usual impetuosity of their
great leader. One after another the Hungarian lines of defence were
taken, until three had fallen, while the country between them was laid
waste. No army appeared in the path of the invaders; sword in hand,
Charlemagne assailed and broke through the strong walls of his foes;
soon he reached the river Raab, which he followed to its junction with
the Danube.

Until now all had promised complete success. Those frightful Huns, who
had so long kept Europe in terror, seemed about to be subdued and made
subjects of the great monarch of the Franks. But, through that fatality
which so often ruins the best-laid plans of men, Charlemagne suddenly
found himself in a perilous and critical situation. His army was
composed almost wholly of cavalry. As he lay encamped by the Danube, a
deadly pestilence attacked the horses, and swept them off with such
rapidity that a hasty retreat became necessary. Nine-tenths of the
horses had perished before the retiring army reached Bavaria. Good
fortune, however, attended the retreat. Had the Avars recovered from the
panic into which their successive defeats had thrown them, they might
have taken a disastrous revenge upon the invaders. But as it was,
Charlemagne succeeded in retiring without being attacked, and was able
to take with him the valuable booty and the host of prisoners which were
the trophies of his victorious progress.

He fully intended to return and complete the conquest of Hungary in the
spring, and, to facilitate his advance, had a bridge of boats
constructed, during the winter, across the Danube. He never returned, as
it happened. Circumstances hindered. But in 794 his subject, the
margrave Eric, Duke of Friuli, again invaded Hungary, which had in the
interval been exhausted by civil wars. All the defences of the Avars
went down before him, and his victorious troops penetrated to that inner
fortress, called the _Ring_, which so long had been the boasted
stronghold of the Chagans, and within whose confines were gathered the
vast treasures which the conquering hordes had accumulated during
centuries of victory and plunder, together with the great wealth in gold
and silver coin which they had wrung by way of tribute from the weak
rulers of the Eastern Empire. A conception of the extent of this spoil
may be gathered from the fact that the Greek emperor during the seventh
century paid the Avars annually as tribute eighty thousand gold solidi,
and that on a single occasion the Emperor Heraclius was forced to pay
them an equal sum.

In a nation that had made any progress towards civilization this wealth
would have been distributed and perhaps dissipated. But the only use
which the half-savage Avars seem to have found for it was to store it
up as spoil. For centuries it had been accumulating within the
treasure-house of the _Ring_, in convenient form to be seized and borne
away by the conquering army which now broke into this long-defiant
stronghold. The great bulk of this wealth, consisting of gold and silver
coin, vessels of the precious metals, garments of great value, rich
weapons and ornaments, jewels of priceless worth, and innumerable other
articles, was taken to Aix-la-Chapelle, and laid at the feet of
Charlemagne, to be disposed of as he saw fit. So extensive was it, that,
as we are told, fifteen wagons, each drawn by four oxen, were needed to
convey it to the capital of the mighty emperor.

Charlemagne dealt with it in a very different manner from that pursued
by the monarchs of the Avars. He distributed it with a liberal hand, the
church receiving valuable donations, including some of the most splendid
objects, a large share being set aside for the pope, and most of the
balance being given to the poor and to the royal officers, nobles, and
soldiers. The amount thus divided was so great that, as we are told, the
nation of the Franks "became rich, whereas they had been poor before."
That treasure which the barbarian invaders had been centuries in
collecting from the nations of Europe was in a few months again
scattered far and wide.

Eric's invasion was followed by one from Pepin, king of Italy, who in
his turn entered the _Ring_, took the wealth which Eric's raiders had
left, demolished the palace of the Chagan, and completely destroyed the
central stronghold of the Avars. They were not, however, fully subdued.
Risings afterwards took place, invading armies were destroyed, and not
until 803 was a permanent conquest made. The Avars in the end accepted
baptism and held themselves as vassals or subjects of the great Frankish
monarch, who permitted them to retain some of their old laws and
governmental forms. At a subsequent date they were nearly exterminated
by the Moravians, and after the year 827 this once powerful people
disappear from history. Part of their realm was incorporated with
Moravia, and remained so until the incursion of the Magyars in 884.

As regards the location of the _Ring_, or central stronghold of the
Avars, it is believed to have been in the wide plain between the Danube
and the Theiss, the probable site being the Pusste-Sarto-Sar, on the
right of the Tatar. Traces of the wonderful circular wall, or of the
palisaded and earth-filled fortifications of the Avars, are said still
to exist in this locality. They are known as Avarian Rings, and in a
measure sustain the old stories told of them, though hardly that of the
legend-loving Monk of St. Gall and his romancing informant.


Charlemagne, the great king, had built himself an empire only surpassed
by that of ancient Rome. All France was his; all Italy was his; all
Saxony and Hungary were his; all western Europe indeed, from the borders
of Slavonia to the Atlantic, with the exception of Spain, was his. He
was the bulwark of civilization against the barbarism of the north and
east, the right hand of the church in its conflict with paganism, the
greatest and noblest warrior the world had seen since the days of the
great Cæsar, and it seemed fitting that he should be given the honor
which was his due, and that in him and his kingdom the great empire of
Rome should be restored.

Augustulus, the last emperor of the west, had ceased to reign in 476.
The Eastern Empire was still alive, or rather half-alive, for it was a
life without spirit or energy. The empire of the west had vanished under
the flood of barbarism, and for more than three centuries there had been
no claimant of the imperial crown. But here was a strong man, a noble
man, the lord and master of a mighty realm which included the old
imperial city; it seemed fitting that he should take the title of
emperor and rule over the western world as the successor of the famous
line of the Cæsars.

So thought the pope, Leo III., and so thought his cardinals. He had
already sent to Charlemagne the keys of the prison of St. Peter and the
banner of the city of Rome. In 799 he had a private interview with the
king, whose purpose no one knew. In August of the year 800, having
settled the affairs of his wide-spread kingdom, Charlemagne suddenly
announced in the general assembly of the Franks that he was about to
make a journey to Rome. Why he went he did not say. The secret was not
yet ready to be revealed.

On the 23d of November the king of the Franks arrived at the gates of
Rome, a city which he was to leave with the time-honored title of
Emperor of the West. "The pope received him as he was dismounting; then,
on the next day, standing on the steps of the basilica of St. Peter and
amidst general hallelujahs, he introduced the king into the sanctuary of
the blessed apostle, glorifying and thanking the Lord for this happy

In the days that followed, Charlemagne examined the grievances of the
Church and took measures to protect the pope against his enemies. And
while he was there two monks came from Jerusalem, bearing with them the
keys of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary, and the sacred standard of the
holy city, which the patriarch had intrusted to their care to present to
the great king of the Franks. Charlemagne was thus virtually
commissioned as the defender of the Church of Christ and the true
successor of the Christian emperors of Rome.

Meanwhile, Leo had called a synod of the Church to consider whether the
title of emperor should not be conferred on Charles the Great. At
present, he said, the Roman world had no sovereign. The throne of
Constantinople was occupied by a woman, the Empress Irene, who had
usurped the title and made it her own by murder. It was intolerable that
Charles should be looked on as a mere patrician, an implied subordinate
to this unworthy sovereign of the Eastern Empire. He was the master of
Italy, Gaul, and Germany, said Leo. Who was there besides him to act as
Defender of the Faith? On whom besides could the Church rest, in its
great conflict with paganism and unbelief?

The synod agreed with him. It was fitting that the great king should be
crowned emperor, and restore in his person the ancient glory of the
realm. A petition was sent to Charles. He answered that, however
unworthy the honor, he could not resist the desire of that august body.
And thus was formally completed what probably had been the secret
understanding of the pope and the king months before. Charles, king of
the Franks, was to be given the title and dignity of Charles, Emperor of
the West.

The season of the Feast of the Nativity, Christmas-day of the year 800,
duly came. It was destined to be a great day in the annals of the Roman
city. The chimes of bells which announced the dawning of that holy day
fell on the ears of great multitudes assembled in the streets of Rome,
all full of the grand event that day to be consummated, and rumors of
which had spread far and wide. The great basilica of St. Peter was to be
the scene of the imposing ceremony, and at the hour fixed its aisles
were crowded with the greatest and the most devoted and enthusiastic
assemblage it had ever held, all eager to behold and to lend their
support to the glorious act of coronation, as they deemed it, fixed for
that day, an act which, as they hoped, would restore Rome to the
imperial position which that great city had so many centuries held.

It was a noble pile, that great cathedral of the early church. It had
been recently enriched by costly gifts set aside by Charles from the
spoils of the Avars, and converted into the most beautiful of ornaments
consecrated to the worship of Christ. Before the altar stood the golden
censers, containing seventeen pounds weight of solid gold. Above gleamed
three grand coronas of solid silver, of three hundred and seven pounds
in weight, ablaze with a glory of wax-lights, whose beams softly
illuminated the whole great edifice. The shrine of St. Peter dazzled the
eyes by its glittering "rufas," made of forty-nine pounds of the purest
gold, and enriched by brilliant jewels till they sparkled like single
great gems. There also hung superb curtains of white silk, embroidered
with roses, and with rich and intricate borders, while in the centre was
a splendid cross worked in gold and purple. Suspended from the keystone
of the dome hung the most attractive of the many fine pictures which
adorned the church, a peerless painting of the Saviour, whose beauty
drew all eyes and aroused in all souls fervent aspirations of devoted
faith. Never had Christian church presented a grander spectacle; never
had one held so immense and enthusiastic an audience; for one of the
greatest ceremonies the Christian world had known was that day to be

Through the wide doors of the great church filed a procession of bronzed
veterans of the Frankish army; the nobility and the leading people of
Rome; the nobles, generals, and courtiers who had followed Charlemagne
thither; warriors from all parts of the empire, with their corslets and
winged helmets of steel and their uniforms of divers colors; civic
functionaries in their gorgeous robes of office; dignitaries of the
church in their rich vestments; a long array of priests in their white
dalmatics, until all Christendom seemed present in its noblest and most
showy representatives. Heathendom may have been represented also, for it
may be that messengers from the great caliph of Bagdad, the renowned
Haroun al Raschid, the hero of the "Arabian Nights' Entertainments,"
were present in the church. Many members of the royal family of
Charlemagne were present to lend dignity to the scene, and towering
above them all was the great Charles himself, probably clad in Roman
costume, his garb as a patrician of the imperial city, which dignity had
been conferred upon him. Loud plaudits welcomed him as he rose into
view. There were many present who had seen him at the head of his army,
driving before him hosts of flying Saracens, Saxons, Lombards, and
Avars, and to them he was the embodiment of earthly power, the mighty
patron of the church, and the scourge of pagans and infidels; and as
they gazed on his noble form and dignified face it seemed to some of
them as if they looked with human eyes on the face and form of a
representative of the Deity.

A solemn mass was sung, with all the impressive ceremony suitable to the
occasion. As the king rose to his feet, or while he still kneeled before
the altar and the "confession,"--the tomb of St. Peter,--the pope, as if
moved by a sudden impulse, took up a splendid crown which lay upon the
altar, and placed it on his brow, saying, in a loud voice,--

"Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by
God the great and pacific Emperor of the Romans!"

At once, as if this were a signal for the breaking of the constrained
silence, a mighty shout rose from the whole vast assembly. Again and
again it was repeated, and then broke out the solemn chant of the
litany, sung by hundreds of voices, while Charlemagne stood in dignified
and patient silence. Whether or not this act of the pope was a surprise
to him we have no assurance. Eginhard tells us that he declared that he
would not have entered the church that day if he had foreseen the pope's
intentions; yet it is not easy to believe that he was ignorant of or
non-consenting to the coming event. At the close of the chant Leo
prostrated himself at the feet of Charlemagne, and paid him adoration,
as had been the custom in the days of the old emperors. He then anointed
him with holy oil. And from that day forward Charles, "giving up the
title of patrician, bore that of emperor and Augustus."

The ceremonies ended in the presentation from the emperor to the church
of a great silver table, and, in conjunction with his son Charles and
his daughters, of golden vessels belonging to the table of five hundred
pounds' weight. This great gift was followed, on the Feast of the
Circumcision, with a superb golden corona to be suspended over the
altar. It was ornamented with gems, and contained fifty pounds of gold.
On the Feast of the Epiphany he added three golden chalices, weighing
forty-two pounds, and a golden paten of twenty-two pounds' weight. To
the other churches also, and to the pope, he made magnificent gifts, and
added three thousand pounds of silver to be distributed among the poor.

Thus, after more than three centuries, the title of Augustus was
restored to the western world. It was destined to be held many centuries
thereafter by the descendants of Charlemagne. After the division of his
empire into France and Germany, the imperial title was preserved in the
latter realm, the fiction--for it was little more--that an emperor of
the west existed being maintained down to the present century.

As to the influence exerted by the power and dominion of Charlemagne on
the minds of his contemporaries and successors, many interesting stories
might be told. Fable surrounded him, legend attached to his deeds, and
at a later date he shared the honor given to the legendary King Arthur
of England, of being made a hero of romance, a leading character in many
of those interminable romances of chivalry which formed the favorite
reading of the mediæval age.

But we need not go beyond his own century to find him a hero of romance.
The monk of the abbey of St. Gall, in Switzerland, whose story of the
defences of the land of the Avars we have already quoted, has left us a
chronicle full of surprising tales of the life and doings of Charles the
Great. One of these may be of interest, as an example of the kind of
history with which our ancestors of a thousand years ago were satisfied.

Charlemagne was approaching with his army Pavia, the capital of the
Lombards. Didier, the king, was greatly disquieted at his approach. With
him was Ogier the Dane (Ogger the monk calls him), one of the most
famous captains of Charlemagne, and a prominent hero of romance. He had
quarrelled with the king and had taken refuge with the king of the
Lombards. Thus goes on the chronicler of St. Gall:

"When Didier and Ogger heard that the dread monarch was coming, they
ascended a tower of vast height, where they could watch his arrival from
afar off and from every quarter. They saw, first of all, engines of war
such as must have been necessary for the armies of Darius or Julius

"'Is not Charles,' asked Didier of Ogger, 'with this great army?'

"But the other answered, 'No.' The Lombard, seeing afterwards an immense
body of soldiery gathered from all quarters of the vast empire, said to
Ogger, 'Certainly, Charles advances in triumph in the midst of this

"'No, not yet; he will not appear so soon,' was the answer.

"'What should we do, then,' rejoined Didier, who began to be perturbed,
'should he come accompanied by a larger band of warriors?'

"'You will see what he is when he comes,' replied Ogger; 'but as to what
will become of us I know nothing.'

"As they were thus parleying, appeared the body of guards that knew no
repose; and at this sight the Lombard, overcome with dread, cried, 'This
time it is surely Charles.'

"'No," answered Ogger, 'not yet.'

"In their wake came the bishops, the abbots, the ordinaries of the
chapels royal, and the counts; and then Didier, no longer able to bear
the light of day or to face death, cried out with groans, 'Let us
descend and hide ourselves in the bowels of the earth, far from the face
and the fury of so terrible a foe.'

"Trembling the while, Ogger, who knew by experience what were the power
and might of Charles, and who had learned the lesson by long consuetude
in better days, then said, 'When you shall behold the crops shaking for
fear in the fields, and the gloomy Po and the Ticino overflowing the
walls of the city with their waves blackened with steel, then may you
think that Charles is coming.'

"He had not ended these words when there began to be seen in the west,
as it were a black cloud raised by the north-west wind or by Boreas,
which turned the brightest day into awful shadows. But as the emperor
drew nearer and nearer, the gleam of arms caused to shine on the people
shut up within the city a day more gloomy than any kind of night. And
then appeared Charles himself, that man of steel, with his head encased
in a helmet of steel, his hands garnished with gauntlets of steel, his
heart of steel and his shoulders of marble protected by a cuirass of
steel, and his left hand armed with a lance of steel which he held aloft
in the air, for as to his right hand, he kept that continually on the
hilt of his invincible sword. The outside of his thighs, which the rest,
for their greater ease in mounting on horseback, were wont to leave
unshackled even by straps, he wore encircled by plates of steel. What
shall I say concerning his boots? All the army were wont to have them
invariably of steel; on his buckler there was naught to be seen but
steel; his horse was of the color and the strength of steel.

"All those who went before the monarch, all those who marched by his
side, all those who followed after, even the whole mass of the army,
had armor of the like sort, so far as the means of each permitted. The
fields and the highways were covered with steel; the points of steel
reflected the rays of the sun; and this steel, so hard, was borne by
people with hearts still harder. The flash of steel spread terror
throughout the streets of the city. 'What steel! alack, what steel!'
Such were the bewildered cries the citizens raised. The firmness of
manhood and of youth gave way at sight of the steel; and the steel
paralyzed the wisdom of graybeards. That which I, poor tale-teller,
mumbling and toothless, have attempted to depict in a long description,
Ogger perceived at one rapid glance, and said to Didier, 'Here is what
you so anxiously sought,' and whilst uttering these words he fell down
almost lifeless."

If our sober chronicler of the ninth century could thus let his
imagination wander in speaking of the great king, what wonder that the
romancers of a later age took Charlemagne and his Paladins as fruitful
subjects for their wildly fanciful themes!


In the last decade of the eleventh century there might have been seen,
wandering through every part of France and Germany, a man of singular
appearance. Small of stature, almost dwarfish in size, emaciated by
rigid austerities, angular and ungainly in form, clad in a woollen tunic
over which he wore a serge cloak that came down to his heels, his head
and feet bare, and mounted on an ass that seemed to have practised the
same austerities as its master, this singular person rode up and down
the land, rousing everywhere as he went the wildest enthusiasm.
Miserable as he seemed in body, he was a man of active and earnest mind,
of quick intellect, keen and penetrating eye, and an ease, fluency, and
force of speech that gave him the power to sway multitudes and stir up
the soul of Europe as no man before him had ever done.

This man was Peter the Hermit, the father of the Crusades. He had been a
soldier in his youth; afterwards a married man and father of a family;
later a monk and recluse; then a pilgrim to Jerusalem, now he was an
envoy from Simeon, patriarch of Jerusalem, to arouse the nations of
Europe with the story of the cruelties to which Christian pilgrims were
subjected by the barbarous Turks.

The pope, Urban II., had blessed his enterprise; and then, dressed and
mounted as described, and bearing in his arms a huge cross, the
inspired envoy rode throughout the Teutonic lands, everywhere recounting
with vehement speech and with the force of fiery indignation the
sufferings of the Christians and the barbarities of the Turks, and
calling on all pious souls to take arms in defence of the Holy Sepulchre
and for the emancipation of the Holy Land from infidel control.

"We saw him at that time," says Guibert de Nogent; his contemporary,
"scouring city and town, and preaching everywhere. The people crowded
around him, heaped presents upon him, and celebrated his sanctity by
such great praises that I remember not that like honor was ever rendered
to any other person. In all that he did or said he seemed to have in him
something divine, insomuch that people went so far as to pluck hairs
from his mule to keep as relics."

Never had mankind been more excited. All Europe was aroused, indignant,
fiery. The Holy Sepulchre must be rescued, Palestine must be in the
hands of the Christians, the infidel Turks must be driven from that
sacred soil and punished for the indignities they had heaped upon
pilgrims, Europe must march to Asia, and win salvation by driving the
unbelieving barbarian from the land sanctified by the feet of Christ.

Everywhere men rose, seized their arms and prepared for the march, of
whose length and dangers few of them dreamed. "The most distant islands
and savage countries," says William of Malmesbury, "were inspired by
this ardent passion. The Welshman left his hunting, the Scotchman his
fellowship with vermin, the Dane his drinking-party, the Norwegian his
raw fish." So far extended the story of the mission of Peter the Hermit;
while in France, Germany, and the other lands in which he made his
indignant and fiery appeals, the whole population seemed ready to rise
and march _en masse_ to the Holy Land.

In 1095, taking advantage of this enthusiasm, Urban II., the pope,
called a council at Clermont, in Auvergne, where numbers of clergymen
and multitudes of people assembled. Here, after the council, the pope
mounted a platform which rose in the midst of a great open space, and
around which extended a vast throng of knights, nobles, and common
people. Peter the Hermit stood by the pope's side, and told the story of
the miseries and humiliations of the Christians in Jerusalem in that
fiery and fluent oratory which had stirred the soul of all Europe. Pope
Urban followed in an impassioned address, recounting the sufferings of
the Christian pilgrims, and calling upon the people of France to rise
for their deliverance.

"Men of France," he said, "men from beyond the mountains, nations chosen
and beloved of God, right valiant knights, recall the virtues of your
ancestors, the virtue and greatness of King Charlemagne and your other
kings; it is from you above all that Jerusalem awaits the help she
invokes, for to you, above all nations, God has vouchsafed signal glory
in arms. Christians, put an end to your own misdeeds and let concord
reign among you while in those distant lands. If necessary, your bodies
will redeem your souls.... These things I publish and command, and for
their execution I appoint the end of the coming spring."

His eloquent words roused the mass to madness. From the throng rose one
general cry, "God wills it! God wills it!" Again and again it was
repeated as if it would never end, while swords waving in the air,
banners floating on high, and every indication of applause and approval,
attested the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd.

"If the Lord God were not in your soul, you would not all have uttered
the same words," cried the pope, when he could make himself heard. "In
the battle, then, be those your war-cry, those words that came from God.
In the army of our Lord let nought be heard but that one shout, 'God
wills it! God wills it!' Whosoever hath a wish to enter upon this
pilgrimage, let him wear upon his breast or his brow the cross of the
Lord, and let him who, in accomplishment of his desire, shall be willing
to march away, place the cross behind him, between his shoulders; for
thus he will fulfil the precept of the Lord, who said, 'He that doth not
take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me.'"

These words aroused a new enthusiasm. The desire to assume the cross
spread like a contagion through the crowd. Adhemar, bishop of Puy, was
the first to receive it from the pope's hands. This emblem was of red
cloth, sewed on the right shoulder of the coat, or fastened on the front
of the helmet. In haste the crowd sought materials to make it. The
passion for wearing the cross spread like wild fire through Europe.
Peter the Hermit, seconded by the pope, had given birth to the Crusades.

The first outburst of enthusiasm was, as always, the strongest. It has
been said that in the spring of 1096 six million souls took the road to
Palestine. This is, doubtless, a vast exaggeration, but great numbers
set out, and an immense multitude of ignorant and enthusiastic people
pushed tumultuously towards the Holy Land, in advance of the organized
armies of the First Crusade.

As early as the 8th of March, 1096, great mobs--they cannot fairly be
called armies--began their journey towards Palestine. They were not only
composed of armed men; women and children made up part of them; whole
families abandoned their villages; and without organization or
provisions, or a knowledge of what lay before them, the ignorant and
enthusiastic mass pushed onward with unquestioning faith.

The first body of these enthusiasts, led by a poor knight called Walter
the Penniless, was cut to pieces by the natives of Bulgaria, a few only
reaching Constantinople. A second multitude, forty thousand strong, was
headed by Peter the Hermit. It was similar in character to the
preceding. Whenever a town came in sight on their way, the children
eagerly asked if that were Jerusalem. The elders were little better
informed. Onward they went, through Hungary, through Bulgaria, through
the provinces of the Greek empire, everywhere committing excesses,
everywhere treated as enemies by the incensed people, until the line of
march was strewn with their dead bodies. Peter the Hermit sought to
check their excesses, but in vain; and when, at length, a miserable
remnant of them reached Constantinople, the Emperor Alexius hastened to
convey them across the Bosphorus, to save the suburbs of his city from
their ravages.

In Asia Minor they were assailed by the Turks, and numbers of them
slain; and when, in the spring of the next year, Godfrey de Bouillon and
the other Crusader chiefs, with a real army of knights and men-at-arms,
reached that locality, and marched to besiege Nicæa, the first important
Turkish stronghold on their line of march, they saw coming to meet them
a miserable band, with every indication of woful destitution, at whose
head appeared Peter the Hermit. It was the handful of destitute
wanderers that remained from the hundreds of thousands who had set out
with such high hopes a year before.

Thus began that great movement from Europe towards Asia, which was to
continue for several centuries, and end at length in disaster and
defeat. But we are concerned here only with Peter the Hermit, and the
conclusion of his career. He had set the flood in motion; how far was he
to be borne on its waves?

The chiefs of the army welcomed him with respect and consideration, and
heard with interest and feeling his account of the misfortunes of those
under his leadership, and how they were due to their own ignorance,
violence, and insubordination. With the few who survived from the
multitude he joined the crusading army, and regained the ardent hopes
which had almost vanished from his heart.

The army that reached Nicæa is said to have been six hundred thousand
strong, though they were probably not nearly so many. On they went with
many adventures, meeting the Turks in battle, suffering from hunger and
thirst, enduring calamities, losing many by death, until at length the
great city of Antioch was reached and besieged.

Here at first food was plenty and life easy. But the Turks held out,
winter came, provisions grew scarce, life ceased to be agreeable. Such
was the discouragement that succeeded that several men of note deserted
the army of the cross, among them Robert, duke of Normandy, William,
viscount of Melun, called the _Carpenter_, from his mighty battle-axe,
and Peter the Hermit himself. Their flight caused the greatest
indignation. Tancred, one of the leaders, hurried after and overtook
them, and brought them back to the camp, where they, overcome by shame,
swore on the Gospel never again to abandon the cause of the cross.

In time Antioch was taken, and the Turks therein massacred. But, unknown
to the Crusaders, an immense army of Turks was being organized in Syria
for its relief; and four days after its capture the Crusaders found
themselves in their turn besieged, the place being completely enclosed.

Day by day the blockade became more strict. Suffering from want of food
began. Starvation threatened the citizens and the army alike. It seemed
as if the crusade might end there and then, in the death or captivity of
all concerned in it; when an incident, esteemed miraculous, roused the
spirits of the soldiers and achieved their deliverance.

A priest of Marseilles, Peter Bartholomew by name, presented himself
before the chief and said that he had had a marvellous dream. St. Andrew
had thrice appeared to him, saying, "Go into the church of my brother
Peter at Antioch, and hard by the high altar thou wilt find, on digging
up the ground, the head of the spear which pierced our Redeemer's side.
That, carried in front of the army, will bring about the deliverance of
the Christians."

The search was made, a spear-head was found, hope, confidence,
enthusiasm were restored, and with loud shouts the half-starved
multitude demanded that they should be led against the enemy. But before
doing so, the chiefs decided to apprise the leader of the Turks of their
intention, and for this purpose chose Peter the Hermit as their boldest
and ablest speaker.

Peter, therefore, under a flag of truce, sought the Turkish camp,
presented himself without any mark of respect before Corboghâ, the
leader of the Turks, and his captains, and boldly told them the decision
of the crusading chiefs.

"They offer thee," he said, "the choice between divers determinations:
either that thou appear alone in person to fight with one of our
princes, in order that, if victorious, thou mayst obtain all thou canst
demand, or, if vanquished, thou mayst remain quiet; or again, pick out
divers of thine who shall fight, on the same terms, with the same number
of ours; or, lastly, agree that the two armies shall prove, one against
the other, the fortune of battle."

Corboghâ received this challenge as an amusing jest, saying that the
chiefs must be in a desperate state to send him such a proposition. "Go,
and tell these fools," he said, "that all whom I shall find in full
possession of all the powers of the manly age shall have their lives,
and shall be reserved by me for my master's service, and that all others
shall fall beneath my sword, as useless trees, so that there shall
remain of them not even a faint remembrance. Had I not deemed it more
convenient to destroy them by famine than to smite them with the sword,
I should already have gotten forcible mastery of the city, and they
would have reaped the fruits of their voyage hither by undergoing the
law of vengeance."

Corboghâ spoke much too hastily. Before night of the next day he was a
helpless fugitive, his army destroyed or dispersed. Peter the Hermit
returned with his message, but, by the advice of Godfrey de Bouillon,
he simply announced that the Turks desired battle, and that instant
preparation for it must be made. On the next day the whole Christian
army, armed and enthusiastic, issued from the city, a part of the clergy
marching at their head, the miraculous spear-head borne before them, and
attacked the Turks in their camp. The battle was long, fierce, and
stubborn, but in the end the Turks gave way before the fury of Christian
enthusiasm, and fled for their lives, vast multitudes of them being
slain on the field, while the vain-glorious Corboghâ rode in all haste,
with a weak escort, towards far-off Bagdad.

The camp of the Turks was taken and pillaged. It yielded fifteen
thousand camels and an unnamed multitude of horses. The tent of Corboghâ
proved a rich prize. It was laid out in streets, flanked by towers, in
imitation of a fortified town, was everywhere enriched with gold and
precious stones, and was so spacious that it would have contained more
than two thousand persons. It was sent to Italy, where it was long
preserved. So great was the spoil that, says Albert of Aix, "every
Crusader found himself richer than he had been at starting from Europe."

In June, 1099, the Crusaders arrived before Jerusalem, and saw with eyes
of wonder and delight the vision of the Holy City which they had come so
far to gaze upon. After a month of siege the chiefs fixed a day for the
grand assault, and on the day preceding that chosen the whole army
marched, fasting, and preceded by their priests, in slow procession
round the walls, halting at every hallowed spot, listening to the hymns
and exhortations of their priests, and looking upward with wrathful eyes
at the insults heaped by the Islamites upon the cross and other symbols
of the Christian faith.

"Ye see," cried Peter the Hermit, "the blasphemies of God's enemies.
Now, this I swear to you by your faith; this I swear to you by the arms
you carry; to-day these infidels are still full of pride and insolence,
but to-morrow they shall be frozen with fear; those mosques, which tower
over Christian ruins, shall serve for temples to the true God, and
Jerusalem shall hear no longer aught but the praises of the Lord."

His words were received with shouts of applause by the whole army. His
had been the first voice to call Europe to the deliverance of the Holy
City; now, with a strong army to back him, he gazed on the walls of
Jerusalem, still in the hands of the infidels, likely soon to be in the
hands of the Christians. Well might he feel joy and self-gratification,
in thinking that all this was his work, and that he had been the apostle
of the greatest event in modern history.

On the next day, July 14, 1099, the assault began at daybreak. On
Friday, the 15th, Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Crusaders, and
the mission of Peter the Hermit was accomplished, the Holy City was won.

With that great day ended the active part played by Peter the Hermit in
history. He was received with the greatest respect by the Christian
dwellers in Jerusalem, who exerted themselves to render him the highest
honors, and attributed to him alone, after God, their deliverance from
the sufferings which they had so long endured. On his return to Europe
he founded a monastery near Hue, in the diocese of Liége, where he spent
the remainder of his life in retirement, respected and honored by all,
and died there on the 11th of July, 1115.


The history of the kingdoms of Europe has a double aspect, that of the
arrogant rule of kings and nobles, and that of the enforced submission
and occasional insurrection of the common people, whom the governing
class despised while subsisting on the products of their labor, as a
tree draws its nutriment from the base soil above which it proudly
rises. Insurrections of the peasantry took place at times, we have said,
though, as a rule, nothing was gained by them but blows and bloodshed.
We have described such outbreaks in England. France had its share of
them, all of which were speedily and cruelly suppressed. It was not by
armed insurrection that the peasantry gained the measure of liberty they
now possess. Their gradual emancipation was gained through unceasing
protest and steady pressure, and in no sense by revolt and bloodshed.

A different story must be told of the towns. In these the common people
were concentrated and well organized, and possessed skilled leaders and
strong walls. They understood the political situation, struck for a
definite purpose, and usually gained it. The history of nearly every
town in France tells of some such demand for chartered privileges,
ordinarily ending in the freeing of the town from the tyranny of the
nobles. Each town had its municipal government, the _Commune_. It was
this body which spoke for the burghers, which led in the struggle for
liberty, and which succeeded in gaining for most of the towns a charter
of rights and privileges. Many stirring incidents might be told of this
fight for freedom. We shall confine ourselves to the story of the revolt
of the Commune of Laon, of which a sprightly contemporary description

At the end of the eleventh century Laon was a bustling and important
city. It was the seat of a cathedral and under the government of a
bishop; was wealthy and prosperous, stirring and turbulent; was the
gathering-place of the surrounding people, the centre of frequent
disturbances. Thierry draws a vivid picture of the state of affairs
existing within its walls. "The nobles and their servitors," he says,
"sword in hand, committed robbery upon the burghers; the streets of the
town were not safe by night nor even by day, and none could go out
without running a risk of being stopped and robbed or killed. The
burghers in their turn committed violence upon the peasants, who came to
buy or sell at the market of the town."

Truly, town life and country life alike were neither safe nor agreeable
in those charming mediæval days when chivalry was the profession of all
and the possession of none, when the nobility were courteous in word and
violent in deed, and when might everywhere lorded it over right, and
conscience was but another word for desire. As for the treatment of the
peasantry by the townsmen, we may quote from Guibert, an abbot of
Nogent-sous-Coucy, to whose lively pen we owe all we have to tell about

"Let me give as example," he says, "a single fact, which had it taken
place among the Barbarians or the Scythians would assuredly have been
considered the height of wickedness, in the judgment even of those who
know no law. On Saturday the inhabitants of the country places used to
leave their fields and come from all sides to Laon to get provisions at
the market. The townsfolk used then to go round the place carrying in
baskets or bowls or otherwise samples of vegetables or grain or any
other article, as if they wished to sell. They would offer them to the
first peasant who was in search of such things to buy; he would promise
to pay the price agreed upon; and then the seller would say to the
buyer, 'Come with me to my house to see and examine the whole of the
articles I am selling you.' The other would go; and then, when they came
to the bin containing the goods, the honest seller would take off and
hold up the lid, saying to the buyer, 'Step hither and put your head or
arms into the bin to make quite sure that it is all exactly the same
goods as I showed you outside.' And then when the other, jumping on to
the edge of the bin, remained leaning on his belly, with his head and
shoulders hanging down, the worthy seller, who kept in the rear, would
hoist up the thoughtless rustic by the feet, push him suddenly into the
bin, and, clapping on the lid as he fell, keep him shut up in this safe
prison until he had bought himself out."

This has more the aspect of a practical joke than an act of barbarism.
But withal, between the cheating of the peasantry by the burghers, the
robbery of the burghers by the nobles, and the general turmoil and
terror, there might have been found more delightful places of residence
than the good city of Laon in the eleventh century. The story of this
city is a long one. We are here concerned with but one episode in the

In the year 1106 the bishopric of Laon, which had been for two years
vacant, was bought by Gaudri, a Norman by birth, and a man of no very
savory reputation. He was a clergyman with the habits of a soldier,
hasty and arrogant in disposition, hurrying through the service of the
mass, and dallying with delight over narratives of fighting and hunting,
one of the churchmen of wickedly worldly tastes of which those days
presented so many examples.

Laon soon learned something of the character of its new bishop. Not long
was he in office before outrages began. He seized one man whom he
suspected of aiding his enemies, and put out his eyes. Another was
murdered in the church itself, with his connivance. In his deeds of
violence or vengeance he employed a black slave, imitating in this some
of the Crusaders, who brought with them such servants from the east. No
lawless noble could have shown more disregard of law or justice than
this dignitary of the church, and the burghers of Laon viewed with
growing indignation his lawless and merciless course.

Taking advantage of the absence of Bishop Gaudri in England, the
burghers bribed the clergy and knights who governed in his stead, and
obtained from them the privilege of choosing their own rulers. "The
clergy and knights," we are told, "came to an agreement with the common
folk in hopes of enriching themselves in a speedy and easy fashion." A
commune was set up, and given the necessary powers and immunities.

Gaudri returned, and heard with fierce wrath of what had been done in
his absence. For several days he stayed outside the walls, clouding and
thundering. Then the burghers applied the same plaster to his wrath as
they had done to the virtue of his representatives. They offered him
money, "enough to appease the tempest of his words." He accepted the
bribe and swore to respect the commune. This done, he entered the city
in state.

The burghers knew him somewhat too well to trust him. There were higher
powers in France than Bishop Gaudri, which were known to be susceptible
to the same mercenary argument. A deputation was therefore sent to King
Louis the Fat at Paris, laden with rich presents, and praying for a
royal confirmation of the commune. The king loved the glitter of cash;
he accepted the presents, swore that the commune should be respected,
and gave Laon a charter sealed with the great seal of the crown. All
that the citizens were to do in return, beyond meeting the customary
crown claims, was to give the king three lodgings a year, if he came to
the town, or in lieu thereof, if he failed to come, twenty livres for
each lodging.

For three years all went well in Laon. The burghers were happy in their
security and proud of their liberty, while clergy and knights were
occupied in spending the money they had received. The year 1112 came.
The bishop and his subordinates had got rid of their money, and craved
again the power they had sold. They began to consider how the citizens
might once more be made serfs. They would not have hesitated long but
for that inconvenient grant of Louis the Fat. But King Louis might be
managed. He was normally avaricious. The bishop invited him to Laon to
take part in the keeping of Holy Week, trusting to get his aid to
overthrow the commune.

The king came. The burghers were not long in suspecting the cause of his
coming. They offered him some four hundred livres to confirm them in
their liberties. The bishop and his party offered him seven hundred
livres to restore their power. The higher offer prevailed. The charter
was annulled, and the magistrates of the commune were ordered to cease
from their functions, to give up the seal and the banner of the town,
and no more to ring the belfry-chimes which indicated the beginning and
the ending of their sessions.

Wrath and uproar succeeded this decree. The burghers had tasted the
sweets of liberty, and were not ready to lose their dearly-bought
independence. So violent were they that the king himself was frightened,
and hastily left his hotel for the stronger walls of the episcopal
palace. At dawn of the next day, partly in fear and perhaps partly in
shame, he departed from Laon with all his train, leaving the Easter
festival to take place without him.

It was destined to be a serious festival for Bishop Gaudri and his crew
of base-souled followers. The king had left a harvest of indignation
behind him. On the day after his going all shops and taverns were kept
closed and nothing was sold; every one remained at home, nursing his
wrath. The next day the anger of the citizens grew more demonstrative. A
rumor spread that the bishop and grandees were busy calculating the
fortunes of the citizens, that they might force from them the sum
promised the king. The burghers assembled in burning indignation, and
forty of them bound themselves by oath to kill the bishop and all those
who had aided him to destroy the commune.

Some rumor of this got afloat. Anselm, the arch-deacon, warned the
bishop that his life was in danger, and urged him not to leave his
house, and, in particular, not to accompany the procession on
Easter-day. Thus Cæsar had been warned, and had contemned the warning.
Gaudri emulated him, and answered, with a sneer of contempt,--

"Pooh! _I_ die by the hands of such fellows!"

Easter-day came. The bishop did not appear at matins, or at the later
church service. But, lest he should be called coward, he joined the
procession, followed by his clergy and domestics, and by a number of
knights with arms and armor concealed under their clothes. Slowly
through the streets moved the procession, the people looking on in
lowering silence. As it passed a dark arch one of the forty rushed
suddenly out, crying, "Commune! commune!" No one joined him; the crowd
seemed intimidated; their feelings subsided in a murmur; the procession
continued on its way undisturbed.

The next day another procession took place. This day the bishop had
filled the town with peasants, who were charged to protect his church,
his palace, and himself. The people kept quiet. All went well. Bishop
Gaudri, satisfied that the talk of danger was all a myth, now dismissed
the peasants, feeling quite secure.

"On the fourth day after Easter," says Guibert of Nogent, "my corn
having been pillaged in consequence of the disorder that reigned in the
town, I repaired to the bishop, and prayed him to put a stop to this
state of violence.

"'What do you suppose,' said he to me, 'these fellows can do with all
their outbreaks? Why, if my blackamoor, John, were to pull the nose of
the most formidable amongst them, the poor devil durst not even grumble.
Have I not forced them to give up what they called their commune, for
the whole duration of my life?'

"I held my tongue," adds Guibert; "many folks besides me warned him of
his danger, but he would not deign to believe anybody."

For three days all kept quiet. The bishop and his myrmidons busied
themselves in calculating how much cash they could squeeze from the
people. The people lowered like a gathering storm. All at once the storm
broke. A sudden tumult arose; crowds filled the streets. "Commune!
commune!" was the general cry; as if by magic, swords, lances, axes,
bows, and clubs appeared in the hands of the people; with wild shouts of
vengeance they rushed through the streets and burst into the bishop's
palace. The knights who had promised to protect him hastened thither and
faced the infuriated populace. The first three who appeared were hotly
attacked and fell before the axes of the burghers. The others held back.
In a few minutes more flames appeared in the palace, and in no long time
it was a mass of seething fire. The day of vengeance had come.

The bishop had fled to the church. Here, having no means of defence, he
hastily put on the dress of one of his servants and repaired to the
church cellar, where were a number of empty casks. One of these he got
into, a faithful follower then heading him in, and even stopping up the
bung-hole. Meanwhile, the crowd were in eager quest for the object of
their wrath. The palace had been searched before being set on fire; the
church and all accompanying buildings now swarmed with revengeful
burghers. Among these was a bandit named Teutgaud, a fellow notorious
for his robberies and murders of travellers, but now hand and glove with
the commune. The bishop had named him _Isengrin_, the by-word then for

This worthy made his way into the cellar, followed by an armed crowd.
Through this they went, tapping the casks as they proceeded. Teutgaud
halted in front of that in which the bishop was concealed--on what
suspicion does not appear.

"Knock in the head of this," he ordered.

He was quickly obeyed.

"Is there any one here?" he asked.

"Only a poor prisoner," came a quavering voice from the depths of the

"Ha! ha!" laughed Teutgaud; "so it is you, Master Isengrin, who are
hiding here!"

Seizing the trembling bishop by the hair, he dragged him without
ceremony from the cask. The frightened culprit fell on his knees and
begged piteously for his life. He would do anything; he would give up
the bishopric, yield them all the money he had, and leave the country.

Insults and blows were the only replies. In a minute more the
unfortunate man was dead. Teutgaud, true to his profession, cut off his
finger to obtain the episcopal ring that glittered on it. Stripped of
its clothing, the body was hurled into a corner, and the furious throng
flung stones and mud at it, as the only vent remaining to their
revengeful passions.

All that day and the night that followed the armed and maddened townsmen
searched the streets and houses of Laon for the supporters of the
murdered bishop, and numbers of them shared his fate. Not the guilty
alone, but many of the innocent, perished before the blind wrath of the
multitude. "The progress of the fire," says Guibert, "kindled on two
sides at once, was so rapid, and the winds drove the flames so furiously
in the direction of the convent of St. Vincent, that the monks were
afraid of seeing all they possessed become the fire's prey, and all the
persons who had taken refuge in this monastery trembled as if they had
seen swords hanging over their heads."

It was a day and night of frightful excess, one of those dread occasions
which arise when men are roused to violence by injustice, and for the
time break all the bonds of mercy and moderation which ordinarily
control them. Regret at their insensate rage is sure to succeed all such
outbreaks. Retribution is likely to follow. Consternation came to the
burghers of Laon when calm thought returned to them. They had defied the
king. What would he do? To protect themselves they added to the burden
of their offences, summoning to their aid Thomas de Marle, the son of
Lord Enguerraud de Coucy, a man who was little better than a brigand,
and with a detestable reputation for cruelty and ferocity.

De Marle was not quite ready to undertake this task. He consulted his
people, who declared that it would be folly for their small force to
seek to defend such a city against the king. He thereupon induced the
burghers to meet him in a field, about a mile from the city, where he
would make answer to their request. When they had come, he said,--

"Laon is the head of the kingdom; it is impossible for me to keep the
king from making himself master of it. If you fear his arms, follow me
to my own land, and you will find in me a protector and a friend."

Their consternation was extreme at this advice. For the time being they
were in a panic, through fear of the king's vengeance, and the
conference ended in many of them taking the advice of the Lord of Marle,
and flying with him to his stronghold. Teutgaud was among the number
that accepted his protection.

The news of their flight quickly spread to the country places around
Laon. The story went that the town was quite deserted. The peasants,
filled with hopes of plunder, hastened to the town, took possession of
what empty houses they found, and carried off what money and other
valuables they could discover. "Before long," says Guibert, "there arose
between the first and last comers disputes about the partition of their
plunder; all that the small folks had taken soon passed into the hands
of the powerful; if two men met a third quite alone they stripped him;
the state of the town was truly pitiable. The burghers who had quitted
it with Thomas de Marle had beforehand destroyed and burnt the houses
of the clergy and grandees whom they hated; and now the grandees,
escaped from the massacre, carried off in their turn from the houses of
the fugitives all means of subsistence and all movables to the very
hinges and bolts."

What succeeded must be briefly told. The story of the events here
described spread through the kingdom. Thomas de Marle was put under ban
by the king and excommunicated by the church. Louis raised an army and
marched against him. De Marle was helpless with illness, but truculent
in temper. He defied the king, and would not listen to his summons.
Louis attacked his castles, took two of them, Crecy and Nogent, and in
the end forced him to buy pardon by a heavy ransom and an indemnity to
the church. As for the burghers who had taken refuge with him, the king
showed them no mercy. They had had a hand in the murder of Bishop
Gaudri, and all of them were hung.

The remaining story of Laon is too long for our space. The burghers
continued to demand their liberties, and in 1128 a new charter was
granted them. This they retained, except during some intervals, until
that later period when the mediæval system of municipal government came
to an end, and all the cities and towns fell under the direct control of
the deputies of the king.


It was in the heart of the Hundred Years' War. Everywhere France lay
desolate under the feet of the English invaders. Never had land been
more torn and rent, and never with less right and justice. Like a flock
of vultures the English descended upon the fair realm of France,
ravaging as they went, leaving ruin behind their footsteps, marching
hither and thither at will, now victorious, now beaten, yet ever
plundering, ever desolating. Wherever they came the rich were ruined,
the poor were starved, want and misery stared each other in the face,
happy homes became gaping ruins, fertile fields became sterile wastes.
It was a pandemonium of war, a frightful orgy of military license, a
scene to make the angels weep and demons rejoice over the cruelty of

In the history of this dreadful business we find little to show what
part the peasantry took in the affair, beyond that of mere suffering.
The man-at-arms lorded it in France; the peasant endured.

Yet occasionally this down-trodden sufferer took arms against his
oppressors, and contemporary chronicles give us some interesting insight
into brave deeds done by the tiller of the soil. One of these we propose
to tell,--a stirring and romantic one. It is half legendary, perhaps,
yet there is reason to believe that it is in the main true, and it
paints a vivid picture of those days of blood and violence which is well
worthy of reproduction.

In 1358 the king of Navarre, who had aided the English in their raids,
suddenly made peace with France. This displeased his English allies, who
none the less, however, continued their destructive raids, small parties
marching hither and thither, now victorious, now vanquished, an
interminable series of minor encounters taking the place of large
operations. Both armies were reduced to guerilla bands, who fought as
they met, and lived meanwhile on the land and its inhabitants. The
battle of Poitiers had been recently fought, the king of France was a
prisoner, there was no organization, no central power, in the realm, and
wherever possible the population took arms and fought in their own
defence, seeking some little relief from the evils of anarchy.

The scene of the story we propose to tell is a small stronghold called
Longueil, not far from Compiègne and near the banks of the Oise. It was
pretty well fortified, and likely to prove a point of danger to the
district if the enemy should seize it and make it a centre of their
plundering raids. There were no soldiers to guard it, and the peasants
of the vicinity, Jacques Bonhomme (Jack Goodfellow) as they were called,
undertook its defence. This was no unauthorized action. The lord-regent
of France and the abbot of the monastery of St. Corneille-de-Compiègne,
near by, gave them permission, glad, doubtless, to have even their poor
aid, in the absence of trained soldiery.

In consequence, a number of the neighboring tillers of the soil
garrisoned the place, providing themselves with arms and provisions, and
promising the regent to defend the town until death. Hither came many of
the villagers for security, continuing the labors which yielded them a
poor livelihood, but making Longueil their stronghold of defence. In all
there were some two hundred of them, their chosen captain being a tall,
finely-formed man, named William a-Larks (_aux Alouettes_). For servant,
this captain had a gigantic peasant, a fellow of great stature,
marvellous strength, and undaunted boldness, and withal of extreme
modesty. He bore the name of Big Ferré.

This action of the peasants called the attention of the English to the
place, and roused in them a desire to possess it. _Jacques Bonhomme_ was
held by them in utter contempt, and the peasant garrison simply brought
to their notice the advantage of the place as a well-fortified centre of
operations. That these poor dirt delvers could hold their own against
trained warriors seemed a matter not worth a second thought.

"Let us drive the base-born rogues from the town and take possession of
it," said they. "It will be a trifle to do it, and the place will serve
us well."

Such seemed the case. The peasants, unused to war and lacking all
military training, streamed in and out at pleasure, leaving the gates
wide open, and taking no precautions against the enemy. Suddenly, to
their surprise and alarm, they saw a strong body of armed men entering
the open gates and marching boldly into the court-yard of the
stronghold, the heedless garrison gazing with gaping eyes at them from
the windows and the inner courts. It was a body of English men-at-arms,
two hundred strong, who had taken the unguarded fortress by surprise.

Down came the captain, William a-Larks, to whose negligence this
surprise was due, and made a bold and fierce assault on the invaders,
supported by a body of his men. But the English forced their way inward,
pushed back the defenders, surrounded the captain, and quickly struck
him to the earth with a mortal wound. Defence seemed hopeless. The
assailants had gained the gates and the outer court, dispersed the first
party of defenders, killed their captain, and were pushing their way
with shouts of triumph into the stronghold within. The main body of the
peasants were in the inner court, Big Ferré at their head, but it was
beyond reason to suppose that they could stand against this compact and
well-armed body of invaders.

Yet they had promised the regent to hold the place until death, and they
meant it.

"It is death fighting or death yielding," they said. "These men will
slay us without mercy; let us sell them our lives at a dear price."

"Gathering themselves discreetly together," says the chronicler, "they
went down by different gates, and struck out with mighty blows at the
English, as if they had been beating out their corn on the
threshing-floor; their arms went up and down again, and every blow dealt
out a mighty wound."

Big Ferré led a party of the defenders against the main body of the
English, pushing his way into the outer court where the captain had
fallen. When he saw his master stretched bleeding and dying on the
ground, the faithful fellow gave vent to a bitter cry, and rushed with
the rage of a lion upon the foe, wielding a great axe like a feather in
his hands.

The English looked with surprise and alarm on this huge fellow, who
topped them all in height by a head and shoulders, and who came forward
like a maddened bull, uttering short, hoarse cries of rage, while the
heavy axe quivered in his vigorous grasp. In a moment he was upon them,
striking such quick and deadly blows that the place before him was soon
void of living men. Of one man the head was crushed; of another the arm
was lopped off; a third was hurled back with a gaping wound. His
comrades, seeing the havoc he was making, were filled with ardor, and
seconded him well, pressing on the dismayed English and forcing them
bodily back. In an hour, says the chronicler, the vigorous fellow had
slain with his own hand eighteen of the foe, without counting the

This was more than flesh and blood could bear. The English turned to
fly; some leaped in terror into the ditches, others sought to regain the
gates; after them rushed Big Ferré, still full of the rage of battle.
Reaching the point where the English had planted their flag, he killed
the bearer, seized the standard, and bade one of his followers to go
and fling it into the ditch, at a point where the wall was not yet

"I cannot," said the man; "there are still too many English there."

"Follow me with the flag," said Big Ferré.

Like a woodman making a lane through a thicket, the burly champion
cleared an avenue through the ranks of the foe, and enabled his follower
to hurl the flag into the ditch. Then, turning back, he made such havoc
among the English who still remained within the wall, that all who were
able fled in terror from his deadly axe. In a short time the place was
cleared and the gates closed, the English--such of them as were
left--making their way with all haste from that fatal place. Of those
who had come, the greater part never went back. It is said that the axe
of Big Ferré alone laid more than forty of them low in death. In this
number the chronicler may have exaggerated, but the story as a whole is
probably true.

The sequel to this exploit of the giant champion is no less interesting.
The huge fellow whom steel could not kill was slain by water,--not by
drowning, however, but by drinking. And this is how it came to pass.

The story of the doings at Longueil filled the English with shame and
anger. When the bleeding and exhausted fugitives came back and reported
the fate of their fellows, indignation and desire for revenge animated
all the English in the vicinity. On the following day they gathered
from all the camps in the neighborhood and marched in force on Longueil,
bent on making the peasants pay dearly for the slaughter of their

This time they found entrance not so easy. The gates were closed, the
walls well manned. Big Ferré was now the captain of Longueil, and so
little did he or his followers fear the assaults of their foes, that
they sallied out boldly upon them, their captain in the lead with his
mighty axe.

Fierce was the fray that followed. The peasants fought like tigers,
their leader like a lion. The English were broken, slaughtered, driven
like sheep before the burly champion and his bold followers. Many were
slain or sorely wounded. Numbers were taken, among them some of the
English nobles. The remainder fled in a panic, not able to stand against
that vigorous arm and deadly axe, and the fierce courage which the
exploits of their leader gave to the peasants. The field was cleared and
Longueil again saved.

Big Ferré, overcome with heat and fatigue, sought his home at the end of
the fight, and there drank such immoderate draughts of cold water that
he was seized with a fever. He was put to bed, but would not part with
his axe, "which was so heavy that a man of the usual strength could
scarcely lift it from the ground with both hands." In this statement one
would say that the worthy chronicler must have romanced a little.

The news that their gigantic enemy was sick came to the ears of the
English, and filled them with joy and hope. He was outside the walls of
Longueil, and might be assailed in his bed. Twelve men-at-arms were
chosen, their purpose being to creep up secretly upon the place,
surround it, and kill the burly champion before aid could come to him.

The plan was well laid, but it failed through the watchfulness of the
sick man's wife. She saw the group of armed men before they could
complete their dispositions, and hurried with the alarming news to the
bedside of her husband.

"The English are coming!" she cried. "I fear it is for you they are
looking. What will you do?"

Big Ferré answered by springing from bed, arming himself in all haste
despite his sickness, seizing his axe, and leaving the house. Entering
his little yard, he saw the foe closing covertly in on his small
mansion, and shouted, angrily,--

"Ah, you scoundrels! you are coming to take me in my bed. You shall not
get me there; come, take me here if you will."

Setting his back against a wall, he defended himself with his usual
strength and courage. The English attacked him in a body, but found it
impossible to get inside the swing of that deadly axe. In a little while
five of them lay wounded upon the ground, and the other seven had taken
to flight.

Big Ferré returned triumphantly to his bed; but, heated by his
exertions, he drank again too freely of cold water. In consequence his
fever returned, more violently than before. A few days afterwards the
brave fellow, sinking under his sickness, went out of the world,
conquered by water where steel had been of no avail. "All his comrades
and his country wept for him bitterly, for, so long as he lived, the
English would not have come nigh this place."

And so ended the short but brilliant career of the notable Big Ferré,
one of those peasant heroes who have risen from time to time in all
countries, yet rarely have lived long enough to make their fame
enduring. His fate teaches one useful warning, that imprudence is often
more dangerous than armed men.

We are told nothing concerning the fate of Longueil after his death.
Probably the English found it an easy prey when deprived of the peasant
champion, who had held it so bravely and well; though it may be that the
wraith of the burly hero hung about the place and still inspired his
late companions to successful resistance to their foes. Its fate is one
of those many half-told tales on which history shuts its door, after
revealing all that it holds to be of interest to mankind.


In the castle of Motte-Broon, near Rennes, France, there was born about
the year 1314 "the ugliest child from Rennes to Dinan," as an
uncomplimentary chronicle says. He was a flat-nosed, swarthy,
big-headed, broad-shouldered fellow, a regular wretch, in his own
mother's words, violent in temper, using his fist as freely as his
tongue, driving his tutor away before he could teach him to read, but
having no need to be taught to fight, since this art came to him by
nature. At sixteen he fled from home to Rennes, where he entered into
adventures, quarrels, and challenges, and distinguished himself by
strength, courage, and a strong sense of honor.

He quickly took part in the wars of the time, showed his prowess in
every encounter, and in the war against Navarre, won the highest honors.
At a later date he engaged in the civil wars of Spain, where he headed
an army of thirty thousand men. In the end the adventurers who followed
him, Burgundian, Picard, Champagnese, Norman, and others, satisfied with
their spoils, left him and returned to France. Bertrand had but some
fifteen hundred men-at-arms remaining under his command when a great
peril confronted him. He was a supporter of Henry of Transtamare, who
was favorable to France, and who had made him Constable of Castile.
This was not pleasing to Edward III. of England. Don Pedro the Cruel, a
king equally despised and detested, had been driven from Castile by the
French allies of his brother Henry. Edward III. determined to replace
him on the throne, and with this intent sent his son, the Black Prince,
with John Chandos, the ablest of the English leaders, and an army of
twenty-seven thousand men, into the distracted kingdom.

A fierce battle followed on April 3, 1367. The ill-disciplined soldiers
of Henry were beaten and put to rout. Du Guesclin and his men-at-arms
alone maintained the fight, with a courage that knew no yielding. In the
end they were partly driven back, partly slain. Du Guesclin set his back
against a wall, and fought with heroic courage. There were few with him.
Up came the Prince of Wales, saw what was doing, and cried,--

"Gentle marshals of France, and you too, Bertrand, yield yourselves to

"Yonder men are my foes," exclaimed Don Pedro, who accompanied the
prince; "it is they who took from me my kingdom, and on them I mean to
take vengeance."

He came near to have ended his career of vengeance then and there. Du
Guesclin, incensed at his words, sprang forward and dealt him so furious
a blow with his sword as to hurl him fainting to the ground. Then,
turning to the prince, the valiant warrior said, "Nathless, I give up my
sword to the most valiant prince on earth."

The prince took the sword, and turning to the Captal of Buch, the
Navarrese commander, whom Bertrand had years before defeated and
captured, bade him keep the prisoner.

"Aha, Sir Bertrand," said the Captal, "you took me at the battle of
Cocherel, and to-day I've got you."

"Yes," retorted Bertrand; "but at Cocherel I took you myself, and here
you are only my keeper."

Pedro was restored to the throne of Castile,--which he was not long to
hold,--and the Prince of Wales returned to Bordeaux, bringing him his
prisoner. He treated him courteously enough, but held him in strict
captivity, and to Sir Hugh Calverley, who begged that he would release
him at a ransom suited to his small estate, he answered,--

"I have no wish for ransom from him. I will have his life prolonged in
spite of himself. If he were released he would be in battle again, and
always making war."

And so Bertrand remained in captivity, until an event occurred of which
the chroniclers give us an entertaining story. It is this event which it
is our purpose to relate.

A day came in which the Prince of Wales and his noble companions, having
risen from dinner, were amusing themselves with narratives of daring
deeds of arms, striking love-passages, and others of the tales with
which the barons of that day were wont to solace their leisure. The talk
came round to the story of how St. Louis, when captive in Tunis, had
been ransomed with fine gold, paid down by weight. At this point the
prince spoke, somewhat unthinkingly.

"When a good knight is made prisoner in fair feat of arms," he said,
"and sworn to abide prisoner, he should on no account depart without his
master's leave. But one should not demand such portion of his substance
in ransom as to leave him unable to equip himself again."

The Sire de Lebret, who was friendly to Du Guesclin, answered,--

"Noble sire, be not angry if I relate what I have heard said of you in
your absence."

"By my faith," said the prince, "right little should I love follower of
mine, sitting at my table, if he heard a word said against my honor and
apprised me not of it."

"Sire," answered he of Lebret, "men say that you hold in prison a knight
whose name I well know, whom you dare not deliver."

"That is true," broke in Oliver de Clisson; "I have heard the same

The prince heard them with a countenance that reddened with anger.

"I know no knight in the world," he declared, "who, if he were my
prisoner, I would not put to a fair ransom, according to his ability."

"How, then, do you forget Bertrand du Guesclin?" said Lebret.

The prince doubly changed color on hearing this. He felt himself fairly
caught, and, after a minute's indecision, he gave orders that Bertrand
should be brought before him.

The knights who went in search found Bertrand talking with his
chamberlain, as a relief to his weariness.

"You are come in good time," he said to his visitors, and bade the
chamberlain bring wine.

"It is fitting that we should have good and strong wine," said one of
the knights, "for we bring you good and pleasant tidings, with the best
of good-will."

"The prince has sent us for you," said another. "We think you will be
ransomed by the help of the many friends you have in court."

"What say you?" answered Bertrand. "I have not a half-penny to my purse,
and owe more than ten thousand livres in this city, which have been lent
me since I have been held prisoner here. I cannot well ask more from my

"How have you got rid of so much?" asked one of his visitors.

"I can easily answer for that," said Bertrand, with a laugh. "I have
eaten, drunk, given, and played at dice. A little money is soon spent.
But that matters not; if once free I shall soon pay it. He who, for my
help, lends me the keys of his money, has it in the best of keeping."

"Sir, you are stout-hearted," answered an officer. "It seems to you that
everything which you would have must happen."

"By my faith, you are right," said Bertrand, heartily. "In my view a
dispirited man is a beaten and discomfited one."

"Surely there is enchantment in your blood," rejoined the officer, "for
you seem proof against every shock."

Leaving Bertrand's chamber, they sought that in which was the prince and
his companions. The prisoner was dressed in a rough gray coat, and bore
himself with manly ease and assurance. The prince laughed pleasantly on
seeing him.

"Well, Bertrand, how are you?" he asked.

"Sir, when it shall please you, I may fare better," answered Bertrand,
bowing slightly. "Many a day have I heard the rats and mice, but it is
long since I have heard the song of birds. I shall hear them when it is
your pleasure."

"That shall be when you will, Bertrand," said the prince. "I require you
only to swear never to bear arms against me nor these with me, nor to
assist Henry of Spain. If you consent to this, we shall set you free,
pay your debts, and give ten thousand florins to equip you anew. If you
refuse, you shall not go."

"Then, sir," answered Bertrand, proudly, "my deliverance will not come
to pass, for before I do this, may I lie chained by the leg in prison
while I live. With God's will, I shall never be a reproach to my
friends, but shall serve with my whole heart the good king of France,
and the noble dukes of Anjou, Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, whose
subject I have been. But, so please you, worthy prince, suffer me to
go. You have held me too long in prison, wrongfully and without cause.
Had I been free I had intended to go from France, to work out my
salvation by fighting the Saracens."

"Why, then, went you not straight, without stopping?" asked the prince.

"I will tell you," exclaimed Bertrand, in a loud and fierce tone. "We
found Peter,--the curse of God confound him!--who had long since thrice
falsely murdered his noble queen, who was of the royal blood of France
and your own cousin. I stopped to take revenge for her, and to help
Henry, whom I believe to be the rightful king of Spain. But you, through
pride and covetousness of gold and silver, came to Spain, thinking to
have the throne after the death of Peter. In this you injured your own
blood and troubled me and my people, ruined your friends and famished
your army, and for what? After all this, Peter has deceived you by
cheating and trickery, for he has not kept faith nor covenant with you.
But for this, by my soul and faith, I thank him heartily."

These bold words were listened to by the prince with a changeful face.
Seldom had he heard the truth spoken so bluntly, or with such firm
composure in the speaker. When he had ceased, the prince rose, and with
a somewhat bitter laugh declared that, on his soul, Bertrand had spoken
but the truth. The barons around repeated the same among themselves,
and, fixing their eyes on Bertrand, said,--"A brave fellow, the

"Whether this be truth or no, Bertrand," continued the prince, "you have
rejected my offer, and shall not escape without a good ransom. It vexes
me to let you go at all, for your king has none like you; but as men say
that I keep you prisoner because I fear you, you shall go free on
payment of sufficient ransom. Men shall learn that I neither fear nor
care for you."

"Sir, I thank you," said Bertrand. "But I am a poor knight of little
name and small means. What estate I have is deeply mortgaged for the
purchase of war-horses, and I owe besides in this town full ten thousand
florins. I pray you, therefore, to be moderate, and deliver me."

"Where will you go, fair sir?" asked the prince.

"Where I may regain my loss," answered Bertrand. "More than that, I say

"Consider, then," said the prince, "what ransom you will give me. What
sum you name shall be enough for me."

"I trust you will not stoop to retract your meaning," rejoined Bertrand.
"And since you are content to refer it to my pleasure, I ought not to
value myself too low. So I will give and engage for my freedom one
hundred thousand double golden florins."

These words roused the greatest surprise and excitement in the room.
Many of those present started, and the prince changed color, as he
looked around at his knights.

"Does he mean to make game of me, that he offers such a sum?" asked the
prince. "I would gladly free him for the quarter."

Then, turning again to Bertrand, who stood with impassive countenance,
he said,--

"Bertrand, neither can you pay, nor do I wish such a sum. So consider

"Sir," answered Bertrand, with grave composure, "since you wish not so
much, I place myself at sixty thousand double florins; you shall not
have less, if you but discharge me."

"Be it so," said the prince. "I agree to it."

Then Bertrand looked round him with glad eyes, and drew up his form with
proud assurance.

"Sir," he said, "Prince Henry may truly vaunt that he will die king of
Spain, cost him what it may, if he but lend me half my ransom, and the
king of France the other. If I can neither go nor send to these two, I
will get all the spinstresses in France to spin it, rather than that I
should remain longer in your hands."

"What sort of man is this?" said the prince, aside to his lords. "He is
startled by nothing, either in act or thought; no more than if he had
all the gold in the world. He has set himself at sixty thousand double
florins, when I would have willingly accepted ten thousand."

The barons talked among one another, lost in astonishment. Bertrand
stood aside, his eyes fixed quietly upon the prince.

"Am I then at liberty?" he asked.

"Whence shall the money come?" queried Chandos.

"Trust me to find it," said Bertrand. "I have good friends."

"By my faith," answered Chandos, heartily, "you have one of them here.
If you need my help, thus much I say: I will lend you ten thousand."

"You have my thanks," answered Bertrand. "But before accepting your
offer, I will try the people of my own country."

The confidence of the gallant soldier was not misplaced. Part of the sum
was raised among his Breton friends, and King Charles V. of France lent
him thirty thousand Spanish doubloons. In the beginning of 1368 the
Prince of Wales set him at liberty.

The remaining story of the life of Du Guesclin is a stirring and
interesting one. War was the only trade he knew, and he plunged boldly
into it. First he joined the Duke of Anjou, who was warring in Provence
against Queen Joan of Naples. Then he put his sword again at the service
of Henry of Transtamare, who was at war once more with Pedro the Cruel,
and whom he was soon to dethrone and slay with his own hand. But shortly
afterwards war broke out again between France and England, and Charles
V. summoned Du Guesclin to Paris.

The king's purpose was to do the greatest honor to the poor but proud
soldier. He offered him the high office of Constable of
France,--commander-in-chief of the army and the first dignitary under
the crown. Du Guesclin prayed earnestly to be excused, but the king
insisted, and he in the end felt obliged to yield. The poor Breton had
now indeed risen to high estate. The king set him beside himself at
table, showed him the deepest affection, and showered on him gifts and
estates. His new wealth the free-handed soldier dispensed lavishly,
giving numerous and sumptuous dinners, where, says his poet

    "At Bertrand's plate gazed every eye,
    So massive, chased so gloriously."

This plate proved a slippery possession. More than once he pledged it,
and in the end sold great part of it, to pay "without fail the knights
and honorable fighting-men of whom he was the leader."

The war roused a strong spirit of nationality through France. Towns,
strongholds, and castles were everywhere occupied and fortified. The
English marched through the country, but found no army in the field, no
stronghold that was to be had without a hard siege. Du Guesclin adopted
the waiting policy, and kept to it firmly against all opposition of lord
or prince. It was his purpose to let the English scatter and waste
themselves in a host of small operations and petty skirmishes. For eight
years the war continued, with much suffering to France, with no gain to
England. In 1373 an English army landed at Calais, which overran nearly
the whole of France without meeting a French army or mastering a French
fortress, while incessantly harassed by detached parties of soldiers. On
returning, of the thirty thousand horses with which they had landed,
"they could not muster more than six thousand at Bordeaux, and had lost
full a third of their men and more. There were seen noble knights who
had great possessions in their own country, toiling along afoot, without
armor, and begging their bread from door to door without getting any."
Such were the happy results for France of the Fabian policy of the
Constable Du Guesclin.

A truce was at length signed, that both parties might have time to
breathe. Soon afterwards, on June 8, 1376, the Black Prince died, and in
June of the following year his father, Edward III., followed him to the
tomb, and France was freed from its greatest foes. During his service as
constable, Bertrand had recovered from English hands the provinces of
Poitou, Guienne, and Auvergne, and thus done much towards the
establishment of a united France.

Du Guesclin was not long to survive his great English enemies. The king
treated him unjustly, and he threw up his office of constable, declaring
that he would seek Spain and enter the service of Henry of Castile. This
threat brought the king to his senses. He sent the Dukes of Anjou and
Bourbon to beg Du Guesclin to retain his office. The indignant soldier
yielded to their persuasions, accepted again the title of Constable of
France, and died four days afterwards, on July 13, 1380. He had been
sent into Languedoc to suppress disturbances and brigandage, provoked by
the harsh government of the Duke of Anjou, and in this service fell
sick while besieging Châteauneuf-Randon, in the Gévandan, a fortress
then held by the English. He died at sixty-six years of age, with his
last words exhorting the captains around him "never to forget that, in
whatsoever country they might be making war, churchmen, women, children,
and the poor people were not their enemies."

He won victory even after his death, so say the chronicles of that day.
It is related that an agreement had been made for the surrender of the
besieged fortress, and that the date fixed was July 14, the day after Du
Guesclin died. The new commander of the army summoned the governor to
surrender, but he declared that he had given his word to Du Guesclin,
and would yield the place to no other. He was told that the constable
was dead.

"Very well;" he replied, "I will carry the keys of the town to his

And so he did. He marched out of the place at the head of his garrison,
passed through the lines of the besieging army, knelt before Du
Guesclin's corpse, and laid the keys of Châteauneuf-Randon on his bier.

And thus passed away one of the greatest and noblest warriors France had
ever known, honored in life and triumphant in death.


At the hour of noon, on a sunny summer's day in the year of our Lord
1425, a young girl of the little village of Domremy, France, stood with
bent head and thoughtful eyes in the small garden attached to her
father's humble home. There was nothing in her appearance to attract a
second glance. Her parents were peasants, her occupation was one of
constant toil, her attire was of the humblest, her life had been
hitherto spent in aiding her mother at home or in driving her father's
few sheep afield. None who saw her on that day could have dreamed that
this simple peasant maiden was destined to become one of the most famous
women whose name history records, and that this day, was that of the
beginning of her career.

She had been born at a critical period in history. Her country was in
extremity. For the greater part of a century the dreadful "Hundred
Years' War" had been waged, desolating France, destroying its people by
the thousands, bringing it more and more under the dominion of a foreign
foe. The realm of France had now reached its lowest depth of disaster,
its king uncrowned, its fairest regions overrun,--here by the English,
there by the Burgundians,--the whole kingdom in peril of being taken and
reduced to vassalage. Never before nor since had the need of a
deliverer been so vitally felt. The deliverer chosen of heaven was the
young peasant girl who walked that summer noon in her father's humble
garden at Domremy.

Young as she was, she had seen the horrors of war. Four years before the
village had been plundered and burnt, its defenders slain or wounded,
the surrounding country devastated. The story of the suffering and peril
of France was in all French ears. Doubtless little Joan's soul burned
with sympathy for her beloved land as she moved thoughtfully up and down
the garden paths, asking herself if God could longer permit such wrongs
and disasters to continue.

Suddenly, to her right, in the direction of the small village church,
Joan heard a voice calling her, and, looking thither, she was surprised
and frightened at seeing a great light. The voice, continued; her
courage returned; "it was a worthy voice," she tells us, one that could
come only from angels. "I saw them with my bodily eyes," she afterwards
said. "When they departed from me I wept and would fain have had them
take me with them." Again and again came to her the voices and the
forms; they haunted her; and still the burden of their exhortation was
the same, that she should "go to France to deliver the kingdom." The
girl grew dreamy. She became lost in meditation, full of deep thoughts
and budding purposes, wrought by the celestial voices into high hopes
and noble aspirations, possessed with the belief that she had been
chosen by heaven to deliver France from its woes and to disconcert its

The times were fitting for such a conception. Two forces ruled mens'
minds,--ambition and trust in the supernatural. The powerful
depended upon their own arms for aid; the weak and miserable turned to
Christ and the Virgin for support; there were those who looked to see
God in bodily person; His angels and ministers were thought to deal
directly with man; it was an age in which force and fraud alike were
dominant, in which men were governed in their bodies by the sword, in
their souls by their belief in and dread of the supernatural, and in
which enthusiasm had higher sway than thought. It was enthusiastic
belief in her divine mission that moved Joan of Arc. It was trust in her
as God's agent of deliverance that filled the soul of France with new
spirit, and unnerved her foes with enfeebling fears. Joan's mission and
her age were well associated. In the nineteenth century she would have
been covered with ridicule; in the fifteenth she led France to victory.

Three years passed away. Joan's faith in her mission had grown with the
years. Some ridiculed, many believed her. The story of her angelic
voices was spreading. At length came the event that moved her to action.
The English laid siege to Orleans, the most important city in the
kingdom after Paris and Rouen. If this were lost, all might be lost.
Some of the bravest warriors of France fought in its defence; but the
garrison was weak, the English were strong, their works surrounded the
walls; daily the city was more closely pressed; unless relieved it must

"I must go to raise the siege of Orleans," said Joan to Robert de
Baudricourt, commander of Vaucouleurs, with whom she had gained speech.
"I will go, should I have to wear off my legs to the knee."

"I must be with the king before the middle of Lent," she said later to
John of Metz, a knight serving with Baudricourt; "for none in the world,
nor kings, nor dukes, nor daughter of the Scottish king can recover the
kingdom of France; there is no help but in me. Assuredly I would far
rather be spinning beside my poor mother, for this other is not my
condition; but I must go and do my work because my Lord wills that I
should do it."

"Who is your Lord?" asked John of Metz.

"The Lord God."

"By my faith," cried the knight, as he seized her hands. "I will take
you to the king, God helping. When will you set out?"

"Rather now than to-morrow; rather to-morrow than later," said Joan.

On the 6th of March, 1429, the devoted girl arrived at Chinon, in
Touraine, where the king then was. She had journeyed nearly a hundred
and fifty leagues, through a country that was everywhere a theatre of
war, without harm or insult. She was dressed in a coat of mail, bore
lance and sword, and had a king's messenger and an archer as her train.
This had been deemed necessary to her safety in those distracted times.

Interest and curiosity went before her. Baudricourt's letters to the
king had prepared him for something remarkable. Certain incidents which
happened during Joan's journey, and which were magnified by report into
miracles, added to the feeling in her favor. The king and his council
doubted if it were wise to give her an audience. That a peasant girl
could succor a kingdom in extremity seemed the height of absurdity. But
something must be done. Orleans was in imminent danger. If it were
taken, the king might have to fly to Spain or Scotland. He had no money.
His treasury, it is said, held only four crowns. He had no troops to
send to the besieged city. Drowning men catch at straws. The people of
Orleans had heard of Joan and clamored for her; with her, they felt
sure, would come superhuman aid. The king consented to receive her.

It was the 9th of March, 1429. The hour was evening. Candles dimly
lighted the great hall of the king's palace at Chinon, in which nearly
three hundred knights were gathered. Charles VII., the king, was among
them, distinguished by no mark or sign, more plainly dressed than most
of those around him, standing retired in the throng.

Joan was introduced. The story--in which we cannot put too much
faith--says that she walked straight to the king through the crowd of
showily-dressed lords and knights, though she had never seen him
before, and said, in quiet and humble tones,--

"Gentle dauphin" (she did not think it right to call him king until he
had been crowned), "my name is Joan the maid; the King of Heaven sendeth
you word by me that you shall be anointed and crowned in the city of
Rheims, and shall be lieutenant of the King of Heaven, who is king of
France. It is God's pleasure that our enemies, the English, should
depart to their own country; if they depart not, evil will come to them,
and the kingdom is sure to continue yours."

What followed is shrouded in doubt. Some say that Joan told Charles
things that none but himself had known. However this be, the king
determined to go to Poitiers and have this seeming messenger from Heaven
questioned strictly as to her mission, by learned theologians of the
University of Paris there present.

"In the name of God," said Joan, "I know that I shall have rough work
there, but my Lord will help me. Let us go, then, for God's sake."

They went. It was an august and learned assembly into which the
unlettered girl was introduced, yet for two hours she answered all their
questions with simple earnestness and shrewd wit.

"In what language do the voices speak to you?" asked Father Seguin, the
Dominican, "a very sour man," says the chronicle.

"Better than yours," answered Joan. The doctor spoke a provincial

"Do you believe in God?" he asked, sharply.

"More than you do," answered Joan, with equal sharpness.

"Well," he answered, "God forbids belief in you without some sign
tending thereto; I shall not give the king advice to trust men-at-arms
to you and put them in peril on your simple word."

"In the name of God," replied Joan, "I am not come to Poitiers to show
signs. Take me to Orleans and I will give you signs of what I am sent
for. Let me have ever so few men-at-arms given me and I will go to

For a fortnight the questioning was continued. In the end the doctors
pronounced in Joan's favor. Two of them were convinced of her divine
mission. They declared that she was the virgin foretold in ancient
prophecies, notably in those of Merlin. All united in saying that "there
had been discovered in her naught but goodness, humility, devotion,
honesty, and simplicity."

Charles decided. The Maid should go to Orleans. A suit of armor was made
to fit her. She was given the following of a war-chief. She had a white
banner made, which was studded with lilies, and bore on it a figure of
God seated on clouds and bearing a globe, while below were two kneeling
angels, above were the words "Jesu Maria." Her sword she required the
king to provide. One would be found, she said, marked with five crosses,
behind the altar in the chapel of St. Catharine de Fierbois, where she
had stopped on her arrival in Chinon. Search was made, and the sword was

And now five weeks were passed in weary preliminaries, despite the fact
that Orleans pleaded earnestly for succor. Joan had friends at court,
but she had powerful enemies, whose designs her coming had thwarted, and
it was they who secretly opposed her plans. At length, on the 27th of
April, the march to Orleans began.

On the 29th the army of relief arrived before the city. There were ten
or twelve thousand men in the train, guarding a heavy convoy of food.
The English covered the approach to the walls, the only unguarded
passage being beyond the Loire, which ran by the town. To the surprise
and vexation of Joan her escort determined to cross the stream.

"Was it you," she asked Dunois, who had left the town to meet her, "who
gave counsel for making me come hither by this side of the river, and
not the direct way, over there where Talbot and the English are?"

"Yes; such was the opinion of the wisest captains," he replied.

"In the name of God, the counsel of my Lord is wiser than yours. You
thought to deceive me, and you have deceived yourselves, for I am
bringing you the best succor that ever had knight, or town, or city, and
that is, the good-will of God and succor from the King of Heaven; not,
assuredly, for love of me; it is from God only that it proceeds."

She wished to remain with the troops until they could enter the city,
but Dunois urged her to cross the stream at once, with such portion of
the convoy as the boats might convey immediately.

"Orleans would count it for naught," he said, "if they received the
victuals without the Maid."

She decided to go, and crossed the stream with two hundred men-at-arms
and part of the supplies. At eight o'clock that evening she entered the
city, on horseback, in full armor, her banner preceding her, beside her
Dunois, behind her the captains of the garrison and several of the most
distinguished citizens. The population hailed her coming with shouts of
joy, crowding on the procession, torch in hand, so closely that her
banner was set on fire. Joan made her horse leap forward with the skill
of a practised horseman, and herself extinguished the flame.

It was a remarkable change in her life. Three years before, a simple
peasant child, she had been listening to the "voices" in her father's
garden at Domremy. Now, the associate of princes and nobles, and the
last hope of the kingdom, she was entering a beleaguered city at the
head of an army, amid the plaudits of the population, and followed by
the prayers of France. She was but seventeen years old, still a mere
girl, yet her coming had filled her countrymen with hope and depressed
their foes with dread. Such was the power of religious belief in that
good mediæval age.

The arrival of the Maid was announced to the besiegers by a herald, who
bore a summons from her to the English, bidding them to leave the land
and give up the keys of the cities which they had wrongfully taken,
under peril of being visited by God's judgment. They detained and
threatened to burn the herald, as a warning to Joan, the sorceress, as
they deemed her. Yet such was their terror that they allowed the armed
force still outside the city to enter unmolested, through their

The warning Joan had sent them by herald she now repeated in person,
mounting a bastion and bidding the English, in a loud voice, to begone,
else woe and shame would come upon them.

The commandant of the bastille opposite, Sir William Gladesdale,
answered with insults, bidding her to go back and mind her cows, and
saying that the French were miscreants.

"You speak falsely!" cried Joan; "and in spite of yourselves shall soon
depart hence; many of your people shall be slain; but as for you, you
shall not see it."

Nor did he; he was drowned a few days afterwards, a shot from Orleans
destroying a drawbridge on which he stood, with many companions.

What succeeded we may tell briefly. Inspired by the intrepid Maid, the
besieged boldly attacked the British forts, and took them one after
another. The first captured was that of St. Loup, which was carried by
Joan and her troops, despite the brave defence of the English. The next
day, the 6th of May, other forts were assailed and taken, the men of
Orleans, led by Joan, proving irresistible. The English would not face
her in the open field, and under her leadership the French intrepidly
stormed their ramparts.

A memorable incident occurred during the assault on the works south of
the city. Here Joan seized a scaling ladder, and was mounting it herself
when an arrow struck and wounded her. She was taken aside, her armor
removed, and she herself pulled out the arrow, though with some tears
and signs of faintness. Her wound being dressed, she retired into a
vineyard to rest and pray. Discouraged by her absence, the French began
to give way. The captains ordered the retreat to be sounded.

"My God, we shall soon be inside," cried Joan to Dunois. "Give your
people a little rest; eat and drink."

In a short time she resumed her arms, mounted her horse, ordered her
banner to be displayed, and put herself at the head of the storming
party. New courage inspired the French; the English, who had seen her
fall, and were much encouraged thereby, beheld her again in arms with
superstitious dread. Joan pressed on; the English retreated; the fort
was taken without another blow. Back to Orleans marched the triumphant
Maid, the people wild with joy. All through the night the bells rang out
glad peals, and the _Te Deum_ was chanted. Much reason had they for joy:
Orleans was saved.

It was on a Saturday that these events had taken place. At daybreak of
the next day, Sunday, May 8, the English advanced to the moats of the
city as if to offer battle. Some of the French leaders wished to accept
their challenge, but Joan ran to the city gates, and bade them desist
"for the love and honor of holy Sunday."

"It is God's good-will and pleasure," she said, "that they be allowed to
get them gone if they be minded to go away; if they attack you, defend
yourselves boldly; you will be the masters."

An altar was raised at her suggestion; mass was celebrated, and hymns of
thanksgiving chanted. While this was being done, the English turned and
marched away, with banners flying. Their advance had been an act of

"See," cried Joan, "are the English turning to you their faces, or
verily their backs? Let them go; my Lord willeth not that there be any
fighting this day; you shall have them another time."

Her words were true; the English were in full retreat; the siege of
Orleans was raised. So hastily had they gone that they had left their
sick and many of their prisoners behind, while the abandoned works were
found to be filled with provisions and military supplies. The Maid had
fulfilled her mission. France was saved.

History contains no instance to match this. A year before, Joan of Arc,
a low-born peasant girl, had occupied herself in tending sheep and
spinning flax; her hours of leisure being given to dreams and visions.
Now, clad in armor and at the head of an army, she was gazing in triumph
on the flight of a hostile army, driven from its seemingly assured prey
by her courage, intrepidity, and enthusiasm, while veteran soldiers
obeyed her commands, experienced leaders yielded to her judgment. Never
had the world seen its like. The Maid of Orleans had made her name

Three days afterward Joan was with the king, at Tours. She advanced to
meet him with her banner in her hand, her head uncovered, and making a
deep obeisance over her horse's head. Charles met her with the deepest
joy, taking off his cap and extending his hand, while his face beamed
with warm gratitude.

She urged him to march at once against his flying enemies, and to start
without delay for Rheims, there to be crowned, that her mission might be

"I shall hardly last more than a year," she said, with prophetic
insight; "we must think of working right well this year, for there is
much to do."

Charles hesitated; hesitation was natural to him. He had many advisers
who opposed Joan's counsel. There were no men, no money, for so great a
journey, they said. Councils were held, but nothing was decided on. Joan
grew impatient and impetuous. Many supported her. Great lords from all
parts of France promised their aid. One of these, Guy de Laval, thus
pictures the Maid:

"It seems a thing divine to look on her and listen to her. I saw her
mount on horseback, armed all in white armor, save her head, and with a
little axe in her hand, on a great black charger, which, at the door of
her quarters, was very restive and would not let out her mount. Then
said she, 'Lead him to the cross,' which was in front of the neighboring
church, on the road. There she mounted him without his moving, and as if
he were tied up; and turning towards the door of the church, which was
very nigh at hand, she said, in quite a womanly voice, 'You priests and
churchmen, make procession and prayers to God!' Then she resumed her
road, saying, 'Push forward, push forward!'"

Push forward it was. The army was infected with her enthusiasm,
irresistible with belief in her. On the 10th of June she led them to the
siege of the fortified places which lay around Orleans. One by one they
fell. On Sunday, June 12, Jargeau was taken. Beaugency next fell.
Nothing could withstand the impetuosity of the Maid and her followers,
Patay was assailed.

"Have you good spurs?" she asked her captains.

"Ha! must we fly, then!" they demanded.

"No, surely; but there will be need to ride boldly; we shall give a good
account of the English, and our spurs will serve us famously in pursuing

The French attacked, by order of Joan.

"In the name of God, we must fight," she said. "Though the English were
suspended from the clouds, we should have them, for God has sent us to
punish them. The gentle king shall have to-day the greatest victory he
has ever had; my counsel has told me that they are ours."

Her voices counselled well. The battle was short, the victory decisive.
The English were put to flight; Lord Talbot, their leader, was taken.

"Lord Talbot, this is not what you expected this morning," said the Duke

"It is the fortune of war," answered Talbot, coolly.

Joan returned to the king and demanded that they should march instantly
for Rheims. He hesitated still. His counsellors advised delay. The
impatient Maid left the court and sought the army. She was mistress of
the situation. The king and his court were obliged to follow her. On
June 29 the army, about twelve thousand strong, began the march to

There were obstacles on the road, but all gave way before her. The
strong town of Troyes, garrisoned by English and Burgundians, made a
show of resistance; but when her banner was displayed, and the assault
began, she being at the head of the troops, the garrison lost heart and
surrendered. On went the army, all opposition vanishing. On the 16th of
July, King Charles entered Rheims. The coronation was fixed for the
following day. "Make good use of my time," Joan repeated to the king,
"for I shall hardly last longer than a year."

In less than three months she had driven the English from before
Orleans, captured from them city after city, raised the sinking cause of
France into a hopeful state, and now had brought the prince to be
crowned in that august cathedral which had witnessed the coronation of
so many kings. On the 17th the ceremony took place with much grandeur
and solemnity. Joan rode between Dunois and the Archbishop of Rheims,
while the air rang with the acclamations of the immense throng.

"I have accomplished that which my Lord commanded me to do," said Joan,
"to raise the siege of Orleans and have the gentle king crowned. I
should like it well if it should please Him to send me back to my father
and mother, to keep their sheep and their cattle and do that which was
my wont."

It would have been well for her if she had done so, for her future
career was one of failure and misfortune. She kept in arms at the king's
desire. In September she attacked Paris, and was defeated, she herself
being pierced through the thigh with an arrow. It was her first repulse.
During the winter we hear little of her. Her family was ennobled by
royal decree, and the district of Domremy made free from all tax or
tribute. In the spring the enemy attacked Compiègne. Joan threw herself
into the town to save it. She had not been there many hours when, in a
sortie, the French were repulsed. Joan and some of her followers
remained outside fighting, while the drawbridge was raised and the
portcullis dropped by the frightened commandant. The Burgundians crowded
around her. Twenty of them surrounded her horse. One, a Picard archer,
"a tough fellow and mighty sour," seized her and flung her to the
ground. She was a prisoner in their hands.

The remaining history of Joan of Arc presents a striking picture of the
character of the age. It is beyond our purpose to give it. It will
suffice to say that she was tried by the English as a sorceress, dealt
with unfairly in every particular, and in the end, on May 30, 1431, was
burned at the stake. Even as the flames rose she affirmed that the
voices which she had obeyed came from God. Her voice was raised in
prayer as death approached, the last word heard from her lips being

"Would that my soul were where I believe the soul of that woman is!"
cried two of her judges, on seeing her die.

And Tressart, secretary to Henry VI. of England, said, on his return
from the place of execution, "We are all lost; we have burned a saint!"

A saint she was, an inspired one. She died, but France was saved.


Mediæval history would be of greatly reduced interest but for its
sprightly stories of knights and their doings. In those days when men,
"clad in complete steel," did their fighting with spear, sword, and
battle-axe, and were so enamoured of hard blows and blood-letting that
in the intervals of war they spent their time seeking combat and
adventure, much more of the startling and romantic naturally came to
pass than can be looked for in these days of the tyranny of commerce and
the dominion of "villanous saltpetre." This was the more so from the
fact that enchanters, magicians, demons, dragons, and all that uncanny
brood, the creation of ignorance and fancy, made knighthood often no
sinecure, and men's haunting belief in the supernatural were frequently
more troublesome to them than their armed enemies. But with this
misbegotten crew we have nothing to do. They belong to legend and
fiction, not to history, and it is with the latter alone that we are
here concerned. But as more than one example has been given of how
knights bore themselves in battle, it behooves us to tell something of
the doings of a knight-errant, one of those worthy fellows who went
abroad to prove their prowess in single combat, and win glory in the
tournament at spear's point.

Such a knight was Jacques de Lelaing, "the good knight without fear and
without doubt," as his chroniclers entitle him, a Burgundian by birth,
born in the château of Lelaing early in the fifteenth century. Jacques
was well brought up for a knight. Literature was cultivated in Burgundy
in those days, and the boy was taught the arts of reading and writing,
the accomplishments of French and Latin, and in his later life he
employed the pen as well as the sword, and did literary work of which
specimens still survive.

In warlike sports he excelled. He was still but a youth when the nephew
of Philip the Good of Burgundy (Philip the _Bad_ would have hit the mark
more nearly) carried him off to his uncle's court to graduate in
knighthood. The young adventurer sought the court of Philip well
equipped for his new duties, his father, William de Lelaing, having
furnished him with four fine horses, a skilful groom, and a no less
skilful valet; and also with some good advice, to the effect that,
"Inasmuch as you are more noble than others by birth, so should you be
more noble than they by virtues," adding that, "few great men have
gained renown for prowess and virtue who did not entertain love for some
dame or damoiselle."

The latter part of the advice the youthful squire seemed well inclined
to accept. He was handsome, gallant, bold, and eloquent, and quickly
became a favorite with the fair sex. Nor was he long in gaining an
opportunity to try his hand in battle, a squabble having arisen between
Philip and a neighboring prince. This at an end, our hero, stirred by
his "errant disposition," left Philip's court, eager, doubtless, to win
his spurs by dint of battle-axe and blows of blade.

In 1445 he appeared at Nancy, then occupied by the French court, which
had escorted thither Margaret of Anjou, who was to be taken to England
as bride to Henry VI. The occasion was celebrated by festivals, of which
a tournament was the principal feature, and here the Burgundian squire,
piqued at some disparaging remarks of the French knights, rode into the
lists and declared his purpose to hold them against all comers,
challenging the best knight there to unhorse him if he could.

The boastful squire was richly adorned for the occasion, having already
made friends among the ladies of the court, and wearing favors and
jewels received at the hands of some of the fairest there. Nor was his
boast an empty one. Not a man who faced him was able to hurl him from
the saddle, while many of them left the lists with bruised bodies or
broken bones.

"What manner of man will this be," said the onlookers, "who as a boy is
so firm of seat and strong of hand?"

At the banquet which followed Jacques was as fresh and gay as if newly
risen from sleep, and his conquests among the ladies were as many as he
had won among the knights. That night he went to his couch the owner of
a valuable diamond given him by the Duchess of Orleans, and of a ring
set with a precious ruby, the gift of the Duchess of Calabria. Verily,
the squire of Burgundy had made his mark.

The end of the year found our bold squire in Antwerp. Here, in the
cathedral of Notre Dame, he met an arrogant Sicilian knight named
Bonifazio, whose insolent bearing annoyed him. The Sicilian wore on his
left leg a golden fetter-ring fastened by a chain of gold to a circlet
above his knee, while his shield bore the defiant motto, "Who has fair
lady, let him look to her well."

Jacques looked at the swaggering fellow, liked his bearing but little,
and touched his shield by way of challenge, saying, "Thine is an
impertinent device."

"And thou art but a sorry squire, though with assurance enough for a
tried knight," answered the Sicilian.

"That is to prove," said Jacques, defiantly. "If my master, Duke Philip,
will give me leave to fight, thou durst not deny me, being, as we are,
on his Grace's territory."

Bonifazio accepted the challenge, and as the duke gave consent, a battle
between squire and knight was arranged, Ghent being the chosen place of

Two days it lasted, the first day's fight being a sort of horseback
prelude to the main combat. In this the squire bore himself so well
against his experienced antagonist, that Duke Philip judged he had
fairly won his spurs, and on the next day he was formally made a
knight, with the accolade and its attendant ceremonies.

This day the work displayed worthily followed the promising preface.
After a preliminary bout with spears, the combatants seized their
battle-axes, and hewed at each other with the vigor of two woodmen
felling a mighty oak. The edges of the axes being spoiled, the knights
drew their well-tempered swords and renewed the combat with the
lustihood of the heroes of the Round Table, fighting so fiercely that it
was not easy to follow the gleam of the swift-flashing blades. In the
end the Burgundian proved himself more than a match for the Sicilian,
driving him back, hewing rents in his armor, and threatening him with
speedy death. At this stage of the affray Duke Philip, at the request of
the Duke of Orleans, flung his truncheon into the lists and ended the
fight, in time to save the Sicilian knight.

His signal victory won Sir Jacques much fame. His antagonist was a man
of mark, and the Burgundian knight gained from his prowess the
appellation of "The Good Knight," which he maintained throughout his
career. He now determined to take up the profession of knight-errant,
travelling from court to court, and winning smiles and fame wherever
lists were set up or men of prowess could be found. But first he sought
his home and the approval of his parents.

"Go on thy way, with God's blessing," said his stout sire, who had
cracked skulls in his day and was proud of his doughty son.

"Yes, go on thy way, Jacques," said his mother in milder tone, and with
moist eyes. "I have put a healing ointment in thy valise, that will cure
bruises. If thou shouldst break a bone, Heaven send thee a skilful

Into France rode Sir Jacques, well mounted, and with squire and page in
his train, in search of adventures and opponents, eager for fame and
profit. From his left arm, fastened by a chain of gold, hung a splendid
helmet, which he offered as a prize to any knight who could overcome him
in single combat. To this he added a diamond, which he agreed to present
to any lady whom his victor should name. Whoever should first drop his
axe in the combat was to bestow a bracelet on his opponent. To this
Jacques added a singular stipulation, significant of queer doings in
those days, that neither knight should be fastened to his saddle. For
all else, he put his trust in God and his own right arm, and in the aid
that came to him from the love of "the fair lady who had more power over
him than aught besides throughout the entire world."

Thus prepared and thus defying, Sir Jacques rode through Paris and the
other cities of France without meeting a knight ready to accept his
challenge. This was due to the king, however, rather than to his
knights; Charles VII. had forbidden any of his chevaliers to fight the
bold Burgundian, the fame of whose strength and prowess was already
wide-spread. Through southern France, then in the hands of the English,
rode our hero, with the same fortune. Many were ready to meet him at
the board, none in the field. Into Spain he passed on, still without an
adversary, and sore in temper despite his pride in his reputation.

At last, in the realm of the Dons, he found a knight ready to break
lances with him in the field, out of pure duty to his "much loved lady,"
as he affirmed. This was Don Diego de Guzman, grand master of Calatrava,
whom he met on the borders of Castile, and who at once accepted his
challenge. Yet single combat in those days was not quite the easy affair
we might imagine it, if we judged from fiction and legend. Before a
knight could indulge in mortal affray he was obliged to obtain the
consent of his sovereign, provided that peace ruled between his country
and that of his antagonist, as was the case between Spain and Burgundy.
The king of Spain was absent. An answer could not be had immediately.
While awaiting it, Sir Jacques rode into Portugal, followed by a
splendid retinue, and offered an open challenge to the knights of that
kingdom to take the field against him.

His ride was almost a royal procession. The story of his one combat
seemed to have gained Jacques world-wide fame. From the frontier to
Lisbon he was met with a continuous ovation, and in the capital, where a
ball was given in his honor, he was invited to open the dance with the
queen for partner. And so it went,--an abundance of merry-making,
unlimited feasting and dancing, but no fighting. Sir Jacques grew
melancholy. He pleaded with King Alphonso.

"I have had a turn in the dance with your queen," he said; "now let me
have a tourney with your knights."

"Burgundy is my good friend," answered the king, "and Heaven forbid that
a knight from that court should be roughly treated by any knights of

"By all the saints, I defy the best of them!" cried the irate knight.

"And so let it rest," said Alphonso, placably. "Ride back to Castile,
and do thy worst upon Guzman's hard head and strong ribs."

There being nothing better to do, Jacques complied, and made his way to
Valladolid, having learned that the king of Spain had graciously
consented to the combat. The 3d of February, 1447, was the day which had
been fixed for the battle between the two knights, "for the grace of God
and the love of their ladies," and on the advent of that day the city
named was so crowded with sport-loving Spaniards that its streets were
barely passable. A great day in the history of knight-errantry was
promised, and gentles and simples, lords and ladies alike, were anxious
to see the spectacle.

When the morning of the eventful day dawned all was bustle and
excitement in Valladolid, and multitudes gathered at the lists. The
Burgundian was on the ground and ready by ten o'clock, but it was three
before Don Guzman appeared, and then he came armed with an axe so
portentously long in the handle that the Spanish umpires themselves,
anxious as they were for his success, forbade its use. Yet the truculent
Don gave them no small trouble before he would consent to choose
another. This done, the knights were conducted to their tents, which
they were not to leave till the clarions had thrice sounded the signal
of battle.

Don Guzman, however, proved inconveniently brave and eager. At the first
trumpet blast out he sprang, and muttered fiercely when ordered back.
The second blast brought him out again, and this time the king himself
sent him back "with an ugly word." The third blast sounded. Out now flew
both combatants. Battle-axe in hand, they made at each other, and soon
the ring of axe on helmet delighted the ardent souls of the thousands of
lookers-on. At length, Diego's axe was hurled from his hand. Jacques,
with knightly courtesy, threw down his, and an interval of wrestling for
the mastery followed. Then they drew their swords, and assailed each
other with undiminished fierceness. What might have been the result it
is not easy to say; Sir Jacques had no carpet knight to deal with in Don
Diego; but the king ended the business by throwing his truncheon into
the lists, and refusing permission to the combatants to finish their
fight on horseback, as they wished. They thereupon shook hands, while
the air rang with the shouts of the spectators.

In the end Don Guzman behaved well. He praised the skill and courage of
his antagonist, and presented him with an Andalusian horse, covered
with rich trappings. In this Jacques was not to be outdone. He sent the
Don a charger of great beauty and value, whose coverings were of blue
velvet embroidered in gold, and the saddle of violet velvet. Banquets
and balls followed the combat; the combatants were feasted to their
hearts' content; and Sir Jacques at length left the court of Spain
loaded with presents and covered with honor.

And now the "good knight" turned his steps homeward, challenging all
champions as he went, but without finding an opponent. Feasting he found
in abundance; but no fighting. Stopping at Montpelier, he became the
guest of Jacques Coeur, silversmith and banker to Charles VII. His
worthy host offered him money freely, and engaged to redeem any
valuables which the wandering knight might have found it necessary to
pawn. Sir Jacques thanked him, but said,--

"My good master, the Duke of Burgundy, provides all that is necessary
for me, and allows me to want for nothing."

Soon after, our errant knight reached Philip's court, where he was
received with the highest honors. Then to his paternal castle he wended
his way, to be welcomed by his proud parents as gladly as if he had won
the Holy Grail. Dancing and rejoicing followed, in which all the
neighboring noble families participated, and many a fair damsel shed her
smiles--in vain it seems--on the famous and heart-whole knight.

We next hear of Jacques de Lelaing in 1449. In that year the herald
Charolais made his advent at the Scottish court, bearing a challenge
from the Burgundian knight to the whole clan of the Douglases. James
Douglas accepted the challenge, and Sir Jacques appeared in due time at
Stirling, where a battle took place in which the Burgundian again came
off victor. From Scotland Jacques sought England but failed to find in
that kingdom any knight willing to accept his challenge. Yet he had but
fairly got home again when an English knight, Sir Thomas Karr by name,
appeared at the court of Philip the Good, and challenged Jacques de
Lelaing to combat for the honor of old England.

As may well be imagined, this challenge was speedily accepted, the lists
being set in a field near Bruges. The English knight was the heavier,
but Jacques was the favorite, for once again he was fighting on his
native soil. Fierce was the combat. It ended in the Burgundian's favor.
Karr struck him a blow on the arm with his battle-axe which rendered
that arm useless, it being paralyzed or broken. But the valiant Jacques
dropped his axe, closed with his foe, and with the aid of his one arm
flung him to the ground, falling upon him. This ended the combat, the
Burgundian being pronounced victor. But as he had been the first to drop
his battle-axe, he presented Sir Thomas with a rich diamond, as he had
agreed in his challenge.

Jacques had been sorely hurt. His wound took a long time to heal. When
his arm had grown strong again he repaired to Châlons, where he opened
a tournament of his own, in which he held the lists against all comers.
This was in fulfilment of a vow which he had made that he would appear
in the closed lists thirty times before the completion of his thirtieth
year. Much fighting was done, much blood spilt, and much honor gained by
Sir Jacques. We cannot tell all that took place, but the noble
tournament at Châlons was long afterwards the talk of the country-side.

As for Sir Jacques, he was now at the height of fame, and Philip the
Good, to do him the highest honor in his power, created him a knight of
the illustrious order of the Golden Fleece. Of his single combats
afterwards we shall but speak of one fought at Brussels, in honor of the
son of the Duke of Burgundy, then eighteen years old. Jacques de Lelaing
was selected to tilt with the young count,--doubtless with the idea that
he could be trusted not to harm him. In the first course that was run
the count shattered his spear against the shield of Jacques, who raised
his own weapon and passed without touching his adversary. This
complaisance displeased the duke, who sent word to the knight that if he
proposed to play with his adversary he had better withdraw at once. They
ran again. This time both splintered their spears, and both kept their
seats, much to the delight of Duke Philip.

On the next day the grand tourney came off. To behold it there were
present no less than two hundred and twenty-five princes, barons,
knights, and squires. That day the youthful Count de Charolais
acquitted himself nobly, breaking eighteen spears,--and possibly some
bones of his antagonists. He carried off the prize, which was bestowed
upon him by the ladies of his father's court, and Duke Philip gloried in
the prowess of his son.

With that tournament ended the record of the single combats of Jacques
de Lelaing. War followed, the duke and his robber barons fighting
against the rich cities of Belgium, and spoiling many of them. In those
wars Sir Jacques took part. At length, in June, 1453, siege was being
made against the Château de Pouckes, a stronghold against whose walls
the Burgundians plied a great piece of artillery, an arm which was then
only fairly coming into use. Behind this stood Sir Jacques, with a
number of other nobles, to watch the effect of the shot. Just then came
whizzing through the air a stone bullet, shot from a culverin on the
walls of the castle, the artillerist being a young man of Ghent, son of
Henry the Blindman. This stone struck Sir Jacques on the forehead and
carried away the upper half of his head, stretching him dead on the
field. He was yet a young man when death thus came to him. Only eight
years before he had made his first appearance in the lists, at Nancy.

Philip the Good was infuriated when he heard of the loss of his favorite
knight. He vowed that when the Château was taken every soul in it should
be hung from the walls. He kept his word, too, with a few exceptions,
these being some priests, a leprous soldier, and a couple of boys. One
of these lads made his way in all haste to Ghent, and not until well out
of reach of the _good_ Philip did he reveal the truth, that it was his
hand which had fired the fatal shot.

And so ended the life of our worthy knight-errant, the prize-fighter of
an earlier day than ours, the main difference between past and present
being that his combats were fought with battle-axe and sword instead of
fists, and that his backers were princes, his admirers high-born ladies,
instead of the low-lived class of bruisers who now support such
_knightly_ exhibitions. Four centuries and more have passed since the
days of Sir Jacques. It is to be hoped that long before another century
has passed, there will be an end of all single combats in civilized


In the latter half of the fifteenth century Europe had two notable
sovereigns, Louis XI. of France and Charles the Bold, or Charles the
Rash, of Burgundy; the one famous in history for his intricate policy,
the other for his lack of anything that could fairly be called policy.
The relations between these two men ranged from open hostility to a
peace of the most fragile character. The policy of Louis was of the kind
that was as likely to get him into trouble as out of it. The rashness
and headstrong temper of Charles were equally likely to bring trouble in
their train. In all things the two formed a strongly contrasted pair,
and their adjoining realms could hardly hope for lasting peace while
these men lived.

The hand of Charles was ever on his sword. With him the blow quickly
followed the word or the thought. The hand of Louis--"the universal
spider," as his contemporaries named him--was ever on the web of
intrigue which he had woven around him, feeling its filaments, and
keeping himself in touch with every movement of his foes. He did not
like war. That was too direct a means of gaining his ends. It was his
delight to defeat his enemies by combinations of state policy, to play
off one against another, and by incessant intrigue to gain those ends
which other men gained by hard blows.

Yet it is possible for a schemer to overdo himself, for one who trusts
to his plots and his policy to defeat himself by the very neatness and
intricacy of his combinations, and so it proved on one occasion in the
dealings between these two men. The incident which we propose to relate
forms the subject of "Quentin Durward," one of the best-known novels by
Sir Walter Scott, and is worth telling for itself without the
allurements of romance.

"Louis had a great idea of the influence he gained over people by his
wits and his language," says one of his biographers. "He was always
convinced that people never said what ought to be said, and that they
did not set to work the right way." He liked to owe success to himself
alone, and had an inordinate opinion of his power both of convincing and
of deceiving people. In consequence, during one of his periods of
strained relations with Charles of Burgundy, which his agents found it
impossible to settle, this royal schemer determined to visit Charles in
person, and try the effect on his opponent of the powers of persuasion
of which he was so proud.

It was as rash a project as Charles himself could have been guilty of.
The fox was about to trust himself in the den of the angry lion. But
Louis persisted, despite the persuasions of his councillors, sent to
Charles for a letter of safe-conduct, and under its assurance sought
the Duke of Burgundy in his fortified town of Péronne, having with him
as escort only fourscore of his Scotch guard and sixty men-at-arms.

It was a mad movement, and led to consequences of which Louis had not
dreamed. Charles received him civily enough. Between rash duke and
politic king there was every show of amity. But the negotiations went on
no more rapidly now than they had done before. And soon came news which
proved that Louis the schemer had, for once at least, played the fool,
and put himself in a position of the utmost danger.

The policy of the royal spider had been stretched too far. His webs of
plot had unluckily crossed. In truth, shortly before coming to Péronne,
he had sent two secret agents to the town of Liége, to stir the unruly
citizens up to rebellion against the duke. Quite forgetting this trifle
of treachery, the too-hasty plotter had sought the duke's stronghold
with the hope of placating him with well-concocted lies and a smooth
tongue. Unluckily for him, his agents did not forget their orders.

The Liégoise broke out into rebellion, under the insidious advice of the
French king's agents, advanced and took the town of Tongres, killed some
few people, and made prisoner there the bishop of Liége and the lord of
Humbercourt. The fugitives who brought this news to Péronne made the
matter even worse than this, reporting that the bishop and lord had
probably been killed. Charles believed them, and broke into a fury that
augured badly for his guest.

"So the king came here only to deceive me!" he burst out. "It is he who
by his ambassadors excited these bad folks of Liége! By St. George, they
shall be severely punished for it, and he himself shall have cause to

The measures taken by the incensed duke were certainly threatening. The
gates of the town and castle were closed and guarded by archers. Louis
was to all intents and purposes a prisoner, though the duke, a little
ashamed, perhaps, of his action, affirmed that his purpose was to
recover a box of gold and jewels that had been stolen from him.

The den of the lion had closed on the fox. Now was the time for the fox
to show his boasted wit, for his position was one of danger. That
rash-headed Duke of Burgundy was never the man to be played with, and in
his rage was as perilous as dynamite. It was, in truth, an occasion
fitted to draw out all the quickness and shrewdness of mind of Louis,
those faculties on which he prided himself! To gain friends in the
castle he bribed the household of the duke. As for himself he remained
quiet and apparently easy and unsuspicious, while alertly watchful to
avail himself of any opportunity to escape from the trap into which he
had brought himself. During the two days that succeeded, the rage of
Charles cooled somewhat. Louis had offered to swear a peace, to aid
Charles in punishing the Liégoise for their rebellion, and to leave
hostages for his good faith. This the angry duke at first would not
listen to. He talked of keeping Louis a prisoner, and sending for Prince
Charles, his brother, to take on himself the government of France. The
messenger was ready for this errand; his horse in the court-yard; the
letters written. But the duke's councillors begged him to reflect. Louis
had come under his safe-conduct. His honor was involved. Such an act
would be an eternal reproach to Burgundy. Charles did reflect, and
slowly began to relent. He had heard again from Liége. The affair was
not so bad as he had been told. The bishop and lord had been set free.
The violent storm in the duke's mind began to subside.

Early in the next day the irate duke entered the chamber of the castle
in which he held his royal guest a prisoner. The storm had fallen, but
the waves still ran high. There was courtesy in his looks, but his voice
trembled with anger. The words that came from his lips were brief and
bitter; there was threat in his manner; Louis looked at him with more
confidence than he felt.

"Brother," he said, "I am safe, am I not, in your house and your

"Yes," answered the duke, with an effort at self-repression; "so safe
that if I saw an arrow from a bow coming towards you I would throw
myself in the way to protect you. But will you not be pleased to swear
to the treaty just as it is written?"

"Yes, and I thank you for your good-will," said Louis, heartily.

"And will you not be pleased to come with me to Liége to help me punish
the treason committed against me by these Liégoise, all through you and
your journey hither? The bishop is your near relative of the house of

"Yes, Pâques-Dieu!" replied Louis; "and I am much astounded by their
wickedness. But let us begin by swearing this treaty; and then I will
start with as many or as few of my people as you please."

"My brother, the fox, is over-willing," may have been the thought that
passed through the duke's mind. "He is ready to lose his foot to get his
body out of the trap."

But whatever his thoughts, in action he took prompt measures to bind the
slippery king to his promise. From Louis's boxes was produced the cross
of St. Laud, claimed to be made of the wood of the true cross, and so
named because it was usually kept in the church of St. Laud, at Angers.
It was said to have belonged to Charlemagne, and Louis regarded it as
the most sacred of relics. On this the king swore to observe the treaty,
though it contained clauses to which he would not have assented under
other circumstances. The document was immediately signed. Louis, for the
first moment since learning of his almost fatal blunder, breathed at
ease. As for the second part of his promise, that of helping Charles to
punish the townsmen whom he had himself stirred to rebellion, it little
troubled his conscience--if he possessed any sentiment that could
properly be denominated by this name.

On the day after the signing of the treaty the two princes set out
together. Charles was followed by his army, Louis by his modest
body-guard, which had been augmented by three hundred men-at-arms, just
arrived from France. On the 27th of October [1468] they arrived at the
rebellious city. There seemed no trouble to get into it. No wall or
ditch surrounded it. The duke had previously deprived it of these
obstacles to his armies. But an obstacle remained in the people, who
could not easily be brought to believe that the king of France and the
Duke of Burgundy, those fire-and water-like potentates, were true
allies. The thing seemed impossible. Louis was their friend, and would
certainly strike for them. They made a sortie from the city, shouting,
"Hurrah for the king! Hurrah for France!"

To their consternation, they saw Louis and Duke Charles together at the
head of the advancing army, the king wearing in his hat the cross of St.
Andrew of Burgundy, his false voice shouting "Hurrah for Burgundy!"

The surprise of the Liégoise was shared by many of the French, whose
sense of national honor was shocked to see so utter a lack of pride and
so open a display of treachery in their monarch. They had not deemed his
boasted policy capable of such baseness. Louis afterwards excused
himself with the remark, "When pride rides before, shame and hurt
follow close after," a saying very pretty as a politic apothegm, but not
likely to soothe the wounded pride of France.

The treachery of Louis roused a different feeling in the hearts of the
Liégoise,--that of indignation. They determined to defend their city,
despite its lack of ramparts, and met the advancing army with such
spirit that it was obliged to convert its assault into a siege. Night
after night the Burgundian army was troubled by the bold sorties of the
citizens. In one of these the duke and king both were in danger of
capture. At ten o'clock, one night, about six hundred well-armed men
made a sudden assault upon the duke's quarters. They were ill-defended.
Charles was in bed. Only twelve archers were on guard, and these were
playing at dice. The assault came with startling suddenness. The archers
seized their arms, but had great difficulty in defending the door-way.
Charles hastened to put on breast-plate and helmet and to join them.
But only the opportune arrival of aid saved him from being seized in the
midst of his army.

Louis ran a similar danger. His quarters had simultaneously been
attacked. Luckily for him, his Scotch guardsmen were more ready than
those of Burgundy. They repulsed the attack, with little heed whether
their arrows killed hostile Liégoise or friendly Burgundians. As for the
assailants, they found it easier to get into the French camp than out of
it. They were killed almost to a man.

On the next day the duke and his councillors determined on an assault.
The king was not present, and when he heard of it he did not favor the

"You have seen the courage of these people," he remarked. "You know how
murderous and uncertain is street-fighting. You will lose many brave men
to no purpose. Wait two or three days, and the Liégoise will certainly
come to terms."

Most of the Burgundian captains were of the same opinion. The duke,
whose rash spirit could ill brook opposition, grew angry.

"He wishes to spare the Liégoise," he angrily exclaimed. "What danger is
there in this assault? There are no walls; they cannot put a single gun
in position; I certainly will not give up the assault. If the king is
afraid, let him get him gone to Namur."

This insult to the king, which shocked the Burgundians themselves, was
repeated to him, and received in silence. He had made up his mind to
drain the cup of humiliation to the dregs. The next day, October 30, the
assault was made, Charles at the head of his troops. Louis came up to
join him.

"Bide your time," said Charles. "Put not yourself uselessly in danger. I
will send you word when it is time."

"Lead on, brother," answered Louis. "You are the most fortunate prince
alive; I will follow you."

On they marched--into, as it proved, an undefended city. The Liégoise
had been discouraged by the fall of many of their bravest men. It was
Sunday; no attack was looked for; "the cloth was laid in every house,
and all were preparing for dinner"; the Burgundians moved through empty
streets, Louis following with his own escort, and shouting, "Hurrah for

By mid-day the vengeance of Charles was complete; the town had been
pillaged; there was nothing left to take in house or church; many a
floor was stained with blood; Liége for the time was ruined.

As for the arch-deceiver to whom all this was due, he completed his work
of baseness by loading the duke with praises, his tone and manner so
courteous and amiable that Charles lost the last shreds of his recent

"Brother," said the king the next day, "if you still need my help, do
not spare me. But if you have nothing more for me to do, it would be
well for me to go back to Paris, to make public in my court of
parliament the arrangement we have come to together; otherwise it would
risk becoming of no avail. You know that such is the custom of France.
Next summer we must meet again. You will come into your duchy of
Burgundy, and I will go and pay you a visit, and we will pass a week
joyously together in making good cheer."

It may be that this smooth speech was accompanied by a mental
commentary,--"Let me once get from under your claws, my playful tiger,
and I will not be fool enough to put myself back there again,"--but if
so nothing of the kind appeared on his face.

Charles made no answer. He sent for the treaty, and left it to the king
to confirm or renounce it, as he would. Louis expressed himself as fully
satisfied with its terms, and on the next day, November 2, set out on
his return to France. Charles kept him company for some distance. On
parting, the king said,--

"If my brother Charles, who is in Brittany, should not be content with
the assignment which I, for love of you, have made him, what would you
have me do?"

"If he do not please to take it, but would have you otherwise satisfy
him, I leave that to the two of you to settle," said Charles.

With these words he turned back, leaving Louis to pursue his way free
once more, "after having passed the most trying three weeks of his

That the fox kept faith with the lion, or the lion with the fox, is not
to be looked for. New disputes broke out, new battles were fought,--not
now in alliance,--and the happiest day in the life of Louis XI. was that
in which he heard that Charles of Burgundy, the constant thorn in his
chaplet, had fallen on the fatal field of Nancy, and that France was
freed from the threatening presence of the bold and passionate duke.


On the 6th of February, 1476, Duke Charles of Burgundy marched from
Besançon to take the field against the Swiss, between whom and Burgundy
hostilities had broken out. There were three parties to this war, Louis
XI. being the third. That politic monarch had covertly stirred up the
Swiss to their hostile attitude, promised them aid in money, if not in
men, and now had his secret agents in both camps, and kept himself in
readiness to take advantage of every circumstance that might be turned
to his own benefit. Leaving Tours, he went to Lyons, that he might be
within easy distance of the seat of war. And not long had he been there
before news of the most gratifying character came to his ears, Duke
Charles had met the foe, and--but we anticipate.

The army of Burgundy was a powerful one, having not less than thirty or
forty thousand men and a strong train of artillery. It was followed, as
was Charles's fashion in making war, with an immense baggage-train.
Personally his habits were simple and careless, but he loved to display
his riches and magnificence, and made his marches and encampments
as much scenes of festival as of war. What this showy duke wanted from
their poor cities and barren country the Swiss could not very well see.
"The spurs and the horses' bits in his army are worth more money than
the whole of us could pay in ransom if we were all taken," they said.

Without regard to this, Charles marched on, and on February 19 reached
Granson, a little town in the district of Vaud. Here fighting had taken
place, and hither soon came the Swiss battalions. Powerful fellows they
were, bold and sturdy, and animated with the highest spirit of freedom.
On they marched, timing their long strides to the lowings of the "bull
of Uri" and the "cow of Unterwalden," two great trumpets of buffalo horn
which, as was claimed, Charlemagne had given to their ancestors.

Against these compact battalions, armed with spears eighteen feet long,
the squadrons of Burgundy rode in vain. Their lines were impregnable.
Their enemies fell in numbers. In the end the whole Burgundian army,
seized with panic, broke and fled, "like smoke before the northern

So sudden and complete was the defeat that Charles himself had to take
to flight with only five horsemen for escort, and with such haste that
everything was left in the hands of the foe,--camp, artillery, treasure,
the duke's personal jewels, even his very cap with its garniture of
precious stones and his collar of the Golden Fleece.

The Swiss were as ignorant of the value of their booty as they were
astonished at the completeness of their victory. Jewels, gold, silver,
rich hangings, precious tapestry, had little value in their eyes. They
sold the silver plate for a few pence, taking it for pewter. The silks
and velvets found in the baggage-wagons of the duke, the rich cloth of
gold and damask, the precious Flanders lace and Arras carpets, were cut
in pieces and distributed among the peasant soldiers as if they had been
so much common canvas. Most notable of all was the fate of the great
diamond of the duke, which had once glittered in the crown of the Great
Mogul, and was of inestimable value. This prize was found on the road,
inside a little box set with fine pearls. The man who picked it up
thought the box pretty and worth keeping, but saw no use for that bit of
shining glass inside. He threw this contemptuously away. Afterwards he
thought it might be worth something, to be so carefully kept, and went
back to look for it. He found it under a wagon, and sold it to a
clergyman in the neighborhood for a crown. This precious stone, one of
the few great diamonds in the world, is now in the possession of the
Emperor of Austria, its value enhanced to him, it may be, by its strange

There was only one thing in this event that did not please Louis
XI.,--that Charles had left the field alive. He sent him advice, indeed,
to let those poor folks but hard fighters of the Alps alone, well
convinced that the fiery duke would not take his counsel. In truth,
Charles, mad with rage, ordered that all the soldiers who had fled from
the field should be put to death, and that the new recruits to be raised
should be dealt with in the same manner if they did not march to his
camp with all haste. It cannot be said that this insane command was
obeyed, but so intense was his energy, and so fierce his rage against
the Swiss, that in no great time he had a fresh army, of from
twenty-five to thirty thousand men, composed of Burgundians, Flemings,
Italians, and English.

Late in May he was again on the march,--with much less parade and
display than before,--and on the 10th of June pitched his camp before
the little town of Morat, six leagues from Berne.

Everywhere as he went he left word that it was war to the death on which
he was bent. His pride had been bitterly wounded. He vowed to heal it in
the blood of his foes.

The Swiss were preparing with all haste, and advancing to Berne. The
governor of Morat sent them word to be at ease concerning him. "I will
defend Morat," he said, and to garrison and people he swore that he
would hang the first who spoke of surrender. For ten days he had held
out against Charles's whole army, while his countrymen were gathering.

The men of Zurich were the last to reach Berne. On the 21st of June, in
the evening, the Swiss encamped near their foes.

"Have those hounds lost heart, pray?" the duke had just said; "I was
told that we were about to get at them."

His wish was to be gratified in a way he had not meant; they were about
to get at him. The next day, June 22, opened with a pelting rain.
Later, the sun burst through the clouds. With its first beams the Swiss
were in motion, marching on the camp of their foes.

A man-at-arms hurried to the duke's tent, and told him that the Swiss
were coming, and that they had attacked the lines. He declared the story
was a lie, and drove the messenger with an insulting reproof from his
tent. What, these base peasants? To attack his army? The thing was
incredible! For all that, he left the tent and hurried to the point
indicated. It was true, they had attacked, and were already driving back
his men.

Charles rallied them as he best could. The battle was desperate. All the
remainder of the day it continued. But before nightfall the Swiss were
everywhere victorious, the Burgundians everywhere beaten. Charles had
still three thousand horsemen, but they, too, broke before the fierce
charges of the Swiss, and in the end he escaped with difficulty, having
but a dozen men at his back, and leaving eight or ten thousand of his
soldiers dead on the field, the greater part of them killed after the
fight by the relentlessly furious Swiss.

Charles, obstinate, furious, wild with rage, sought to collect another
army, but failed. No men could be found willing to bear arms against
those terrible Swiss. He shut himself up for weeks in one of his
castles, dismayed, inconsolable, heated with passion, ready to crush the
world if his hand could have grasped it, a sorry spectacle of
disappointed ambition and overthrown pride.

Other enemies rose against him. René II., duke of Lorraine, whom he had
robbed of his dominions and driven from Nancy, now saw an opportunity to
recover his heritage. He had been wandering like a fugitive from court
to court. Before Morat he had joined the Swiss, and helped them to their
victory. Now, gathering a force, he re-entered his duchy, besieged
Nancy, then feebly garrisoned, and pressed it hard. The governor sent
messengers to Duke Charles, asking for aid. He received none. The duke
did not even reply to him. He seemed utterly dispirited. In this
emergency the governor surrendered, and René had his own again.

Yet at that very moment, Charles the Bold, throwing off his apathy, was
marching upon Lorraine, with a small army which he had hastily
collected. On the 22d of October, 1476, he reached Nancy, which was once
more besieged. At his approach, Duke René left the town, but left it
well garrisoned. He went in search of reinforcements. These he found in
Switzerland, the agents of Louis XI. promising them good pay, while
their hatred of Charles made them fully ready for the service.

On January 4, 1477, René, having led his new army to Lorraine, found
himself face to face with the army of Charles the Bold, who was still
besieging Nancy. Charles held council with his captains.

"Well," he said, "since these drunken scoundrels are upon us, and are
coming here to look for meat and drink, what ought we to do?"

"Fall back," was the general opinion. "They outnumber us. We should
recruit our army. Duke René is poor. He will not long be able to bear
the expense of the war, and his allies will leave him as soon as his
money is gone. Wait but a little, and success is certain."

The duke burst into one of his usual fits of passion.

"My father and I," he cried, "knew how to thrash these Lorrainers, and
we will make them remember it. By St. George, I will not fly before a
boy, before René of Vaudemont, who is coming at the head of this scum!
He has not so many men with him as people think; the Germans have no
idea of leaving their stoves in winter. This evening we will deliver the
assault against the town, and to-morrow we will give battle."

He did give battle on the morrow,--his last, as it proved. The fray did
not last long, nor was the loss of life in the field great. But the
Burgundians broke and fled, and the pursuit was terrible, the Lorrainers
and their Swiss and German allies pursuing hotly, and killing all they
found. René entered Nancy in triumph, and relieved the citizens from the
famine from which they had long suffered. To show him what they had
endured in his cause, there were piled up before his door "the heads of
the horses, dogs, mules, cats, and other unclean animals which had for
several weeks past been the only food of the besieged."

The battle over, the question arose, what had become of the Duke of
Burgundy? None could answer. Some said a servant had carried him
wounded from the field; others, that a German lord held him prisoner.
But a page soon appeared who said he had seen him fall and could lead to
the spot. He did so, conducting a party to a pond near the town, where,
half buried in the mud, lay several dead bodies lately stripped. Among
the searchers was a poor washerwoman, who, seeing the glitter of a ring
on the finger of one of the corpses, turned it over, and cried, "Ah! my

All rushed to the spot. The body was examined with care. There was no
doubt, it was that of Charles of Burgundy. His rash and violent
disposition had at length borne the fruit that might have been
anticipated, and brought him to an end which gave the highest
satisfaction to many of his foes, and to none more than to Louis XI. of
France. He was buried with great pomp, by the order of Duke René. In
1550 the emperor Charles V., his great grandson, had his body taken to
Bruges, and placed on the tomb the following inscription:

"Here lieth the most high, mighty, and magnanimous prince, Charles, Duke
of Burgundy, ... the which, being mightily endowed with strength,
firmness, and magnanimity, prospered awhile in high enterprises,
battles, and victories, as well at Montlhéry, in Normandy, in Artois,
and in Liége, as elsewhere, until fortune, turning her back on him, thus
crushed him before Nancy."

To-day it might be written on his tomb, "His was a fitting end to a
violent, lawless, and blood-thirsty career."


Good knights were abundant in the romance of the age of chivalry; they
seem to have been greatly lacking in its history. Of knights without
fear there were many; of knights "without fear and without reproach" we
are specially told of but one, Pierre du Terrail, Chevalier de Bayard,
"_Le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche_." Many are the stories of the
courage, the justice, the honor, the mercy, the intrepidity in war, the
humanity and kindliness of spirit in peace, which make this admirable
character an anomaly in that age of courteous appearance and brutal
reality yclept the "age of chivalry." One such story we have to tell.

The town of Brescia had been taken by the French army under Gaston de
Foix, and given up to pillage by his troops, with all the horrors which
this meant in that day of license and inhumanity. Bayard took part in
the assault on the town, and was wounded therein, so severely that he
said to his fellow-captain, the lord of Molart,--

"Comrade, march your men forward; the town is ours. As for me, I cannot
pull on farther, for I am a dead man."

Not quite dead, as it proved. He had many years of noble deeds before
him still. When the town was taken, two of his archers bore him to a
house whose size and show of importance attracted them as a fair harbor
for their lord. It was the residence of a rich citizen, who had fled for
safety to a monastery, leaving his wife to God's care in the house, and
two fair daughters to such security as they could gain from the hay in a
granary, under which they were hidden.

At the loud summons of the archers the lady tremblingly opened the door,
and was surprised and relieved when she saw that it was a wounded knight
who craved admittance. Sadly hurt as Bayard was, his instinct of
kindness remained active. He bade the archers to close the door and
remain there on guard.

"Take heed, for your lives," he said, "that none enter here unless they
be some of my own people. I am sure that, when this is known to be my
quarters, none will try to force a way in. If, by your aiding me, you
miss a chance of gain in the sack of the town, let not that trouble you;
you shall lose nothing by your service."

The archers obeyed, and the wounded knight was borne to a rich chamber,
the lady herself showing the way. When he had been laid in bed, she
threw herself on her knees before him, and pleadingly said,--

"Noble sir, I present you this house and all that is therein, all of
which, in truth, I well know to be yours by right of war. But I
earnestly pray that it be your pleasure to spare me and my two young
daughters our lives and honor."

"Madam," answered the knight, with grave courtesy, "I know not if I can
escape from my wound; but, so long as I live, trust me that no harm
shall come to you and your daughters, any more than to myself. Only keep
them in their chambers; let them not be seen; and I assure you that no
man in the house will take upon himself to enter any place against your

These words the lady heard with joy, and on Bayard's request that he
should have a good surgeon without delay, she and one of the archers set
out in quest of the best that could be found. Fortunately, it proved
that the knight's wound, though deep, was not mortal. At the second
dressing Master Claude, the surgeon of Gaston de Foix, took him in hand,
and afterwards attended him assiduously until his wound was healed, a
process which took about a month. After the first dressing of the wound,
Bayard asked his hostess, in kindly tones, where her husband was.

"I know not, my lord, if he be dead or alive," she answered, bursting
into tears. "If he be living, I am sure he has taken refuge in a
monastery where he is well known."

"Let him return home," answered Bayard. "I shall send those after him
who will see that he has no harm."

The lady, elate with hope, sent to inquire, and found that her husband
was really where she had supposed. Bayard's steward and the two archers
were sent for him, and conducted him safely through the turmoil of the
streets, where war's ravage, in its worst form, was still afoot. On his
arrival, the knight received him with a courteous welcome, and bade him
not to be alarmed, as only friends were quartered upon him, and he
should suffer no loss in person or estate.

For a month the wounded knight lay on his couch, where, though he was
made as comfortable as possible by the assiduous ministrations of his
grateful host and hostess, he suffered much from his hurt. At the end of
that time he was able to rise and walk across the chamber, though still
very weak. But news came that a great battle between the French and the
Spaniards was likely soon to be fought, and the brave Bayard burned with
warlike desire to take part in the conflict.

"My dear friend," he said to the surgeon, "tell me if there is any
danger in setting me on the march. It seems to me that I am well, or
nearly so; and, in my judgment, to stay here longer will do me more harm
than good, for I fret sorely to be thus tied."

"Your wound is not yet closed," said the surgeon, "though it is quite
healed inside. After another dressing you may be able to ride, provided
that your barber attends to dressing it with ointment and a little lint
every day. The worst of the wound is now on the surface, and, as it will
not touch your saddle, you will run no risk in riding."

Bayard heard these words with gladness, and at once gave orders to his
people to prepare for the road, as he would set out for the army in two

Meanwhile, his host and hostess and their children were far from well at
ease. Until now their guest had protected and spared them, but they knew
too well the habits of soldiers to imagine that he intended to do this
without being abundantly paid for the service. They held themselves as
his prisoners, and feared that he might yet force them to ransom
themselves with the utmost sum their estate would afford, perhaps ten or
twelve thousand crowns. Yet he had been so gentle and kindly that the
good lady entertained hopes that he might prove generous, if softened by
a suitable present. Therefore, on the morning of the day which he had
fixed for his departure, she appeared in his chamber, followed by a
servant who carried a small steel box.

Bayard had been walking up and down the room to try his leg, and had now
thrown himself into a chair to rest. The lady fell upon her knees before
him; but before he would permit her to speak he insisted that she should
rise and be seated.

"My lord," she began, "I can never be thankful enough for the grace
which God did me, at the taking of this town, in directing you to this
our house. We owe to you our lives and all that we hold dear. Moreover,
from the time that you arrived here, neither I nor the least of my
people have endured a single insult, but all has been good-will and
courtesy, nor have your folks taken a farthing's worth of our goods
without paying for them. I am aware that my husband, myself, my
children, and all my household are your prisoners, to be dealt with
according to your good pleasure, in person and goods; but, knowing the
nobleness of your heart, I am come to entreat you humbly to have pity on
us, and extend to us your wonted generosity. Here is a little present we
make you; and we pray that you may be pleased to take it in good part."

She opened the box which the servant held, and Bayard saw that it was
filled with golden coins. The free-hearted knight, who had never in his
life troubled himself about money, burst out laughing, and said,--

"Madam, how many ducats are there in this box?"

His action, so different from what she expected, frightened the poor
woman. Thinking it to indicate that the sum was below his expectations,
she said hurriedly,--

"My lord, there are but two thousand five hundred ducats; but, if you
are not content, we will find a larger sum."

"By my faith, madam," he warmly replied, "though you should give a
hundred thousand crowns, you would not do as well towards me as you have
done by the good cheer I have had here and the kind attendance you have
given me. In whatsoever place I may happen to be, you will have, so long
as God shall grant me life, a gentleman at your bidding. As for your
ducats, I will have none of them, and yet I thank you; take them back;
all my life I have always loved people much more than crowns. And take
my word for it that I go away as well pleased with you as if this town
were at your disposal and you had given it to me."

The good lady listened to him with deep astonishment. Never had she
dreamed of such a marvel as this, a soldier who did not crave money. She
was really distressed by his decision.

"My lord," she said, "I shall feel myself the most wretched creature in
the world if you will not take this small present, which is nothing in
comparison with your past courtesy and present kindness."

Seeing how firm she was in her purpose, he said, with a gentle smile,--

"Well, then, I will take it for love of you; but go and fetch me your
two daughters, for I would fain bid them farewell."

Much pleased with his acceptance, the lady left the room in search of
her daughters, whom the knight knew well, for they had solaced many of
the weary hours of his illness with pleasant chat, and music from their
voices and from the lute and spinet, on which they played agreeably.
While awaiting them he bade the servant to empty the box and count the
ducats into three lots, two of a thousand each and one of five hundred.

When the young ladies entered, they would have fallen on their knees as
their mother had done before them, but Bayard would not consent that
they should remain in this humble attitude.

"My lord," said the elder, "these two poor girls, who owe so much to
your kindness, are come to take leave of you, and humbly to thank your
lordship for your goodness, for which they can make no return other than
to pray that God may hold you in His good care."

"Dear damsels," answered Bayard, much affected, "you have done what I
ought to do; that is, to thank you for your good company, for which I am
much beholden. You know that fighting men are not likely to be laden
with pretty things to present to ladies. I am sorry not to be better
provided. But here are some ducats brought me by your lady-mother. Of
these I give to each of you a thousand towards your marriage; and for my
recompense you shall, if it please you, pray God for me, as you have

He swept the ducats from the table into their aprons, forcing them to
accept them whether they would or not. Then, turning to his hostess, he

"Madam, I will take these five hundred ducats that remain for my own
profit, to distribute among the poor sisterhoods of this town which have
been plundered; and to you I commit the charge of them, since you,
better than any other, will understand where they are most needed. And
with this mission I take my leave of you."

Then he bade them adieu by touching their hands, after the Italian
fashion, "and they fell upon their knees, weeping so bitterly that it
seemed as if they were to be led out to their deaths."

The dinner hour came and passed. When it was over the knight quickly
left the table and called for his horses, being eager to be gone for
fear the two armies might come to battle in his absence. As he left his
chamber to seek his horse, the two fair daughters of the house came down
to bid him a final farewell and to make him presents which they had
worked for him during his illness.

One gave him a pair of pretty and delicate bracelets, made of gold and
silver thread, worked with marvellous neatness. The other presented him
a handsome purse of crimson satin very cleverly ornamented with the
needle. The knight received these graceful gifts with warm thanks,
saying that presents which came from hands so fair were more to him than
a hundred-fold their value in gold. To do them the more honor, he put
the bracelets on his wrists and the purse in his sleeve, and assured
them that, as long as they lasted, he would wear them for love of the

Then, mounting, the good knight rode away, leaving more tears of joy and
heartfelt gratitude behind him than can be said of few soldiers since
the world began. It was not for fame he had wrought, or of fame he had
thought, but he won high fame by his generous behavior, for his
treatment of his Brescian hosts is still quoted as the rarest deed in
his chaplet of good actions.

The two archers who had stayed with Bayard failed not to receive the
promised reward. Gaston de Foix, the Duke of Nemours, sent the knight a
number of presents, among them five hundred crowns, and these he divided
between the archers whom he had debarred from their share of the spoil.

It will suffice to say, in conclusion, that he reached the army in time
to take part in the battle that followed, and to add therein to his fame
as a "good knight without fear."


At the early hour of one o'clock in the morning of September 8, 1523, a
train of men-at-arms and servants, headed by a tall, stern-faced,
soldierly-looking man, rode from the gates of the strong castle of
Chantelle, and headed southward in the direction of Spain. The leader
was dressed in armor, and carried sword by side and battle-axe at his
saddle-bow. Of his followers, some fifteen of them were attired in a
peculiar manner, wearing thick jackets of woollen cloth that seemed as
stiff as iron mail, and jingled metallically as they rode. Mail they
were, capable of turning arrow or spear thrust, but mail of gold, not of
iron, for in those jackets were sewed up thirty thousand crowns of gold,
and their wearers served as the ambulatory treasury of the proud soldier
at their head.

This man was no less a personage than Charles, Duke of Bourbon,
Constable of France, the highest personage in the kingdom next to the
monarch himself, but now in flight from that monarch, and from the
soldiers who were marching to environ Chantelle and carry him as a
prisoner to the king. There had been bad blood between Bourbon and
Francis I., pride and haughtiness on the one side, injustice and
indecision on the other; wrong to the subject, defiance to the king;
and now the "short-tempered" noble and great soldier had made a
moonlight flitting, bent on cutting loose from his allegiance to France,
and on lending the aid of his sword and military skill to her hereditary

For a month Bourbon and his followers wandered around the provinces of
southern France. Incessantly he changed his road, his costume, his
companions, his resting-place, occasionally falling in with soldiers of
the king who were on their way to take part in the wars in Italy,
seeking in vain for adherents to his cause, and feeling his way by
correspondence to an understanding with the enemies of France. In early
October he entered the domains of the emperor, Charles V., and
definitely cut loose from his allegiance to the king.

The news of this defection filled Francis with alarm. He had, by his
injustice, driven his greatest soldier from the realm, and now sought to
undo the perilous work he had done. He put off his journey to join the
army marching to Italy, and sent a messenger to the redoubtable
fugitive, offering restitution of his property, satisfaction in full of
his claims, and security for good treatment and punctual payment.
Bourbon curtly refused.

"It is too late," he said.

"Then," said the envoy, "I am bidden by the king to ask you to deliver
up the sword of constable and the collar of the order of St. Michael."

"You may tell the king," answered Bourbon, shortly, "that he took from
me the sword of constable on the day that he took from me the command
of the advanced guard to give it to M. d'Alençon. As for the collar of
his order, you will find it at Chantelle under the pillow of my bed."

Francis made further efforts to win back the powerful noble whom he had
so deeply offended, but equally in vain. Bourbon had definitely cut
loose from his native land and was bent on joining hands with its mortal
foes. Francis had offended him too deeply to be so readily forgiven as
he hoped.

It is not the story of the life of this notable traitor that we propose
to tell, but simply to depict some picturesque scenes in his career.
Charles V. gladly welcomed him, and made him his lieutenant-general in
Italy, so that he became leader against the French in their invasion of
that land. We next find him during the siege of Milan by the army of
Francis I., one of whose leaders was Chevalier Bayard, "the good
knight," who was the subject of our last story. The siege was destined
to prove a fatal affair for this noble warrior. The French found
themselves so hard pressed by the imperial army under the Constable de
Bourbon that they fell back to await reinforcements. Near Romagnano, on
the banks of the Sesia, they were thrown into disorder while seeking to
pass the stream, and Bonnivet, their leader, was severely wounded. The
Count de St. Pol and Chevalier Bayard took command. Bayard, always first
in advance and last in retreat, charged the enemy at the head of a body
of men-at-arms. It proved for him a fatal charge. A shot from an
arquebuse gave him a mortal wound.

"Jesus, my God," he cried, "I am dead!"

He took his sword by the handle, kissed its cross-hilt as an act of
devotion, and repeated the _Miserere_,--"Have pity on me, O God,
according to Thy great mercy!"

In a moment more he grew deathly pale and grasped the pommel of the
saddle to keep him from falling, remaining thus until one of his
followers helped him to dismount, and placed him at the foot of a tree.

The French were repulsed, leaving the wounded knight within the lines of
the enemy. Word of Bayard's plight was quickly brought to Bourbon, who
came up with a face filled with sympathetic feeling.

"Bayard, my good friend, I am sore distressed at your mishap," he said.
"There is nothing for it but patience. Give not way to melancholy. I
will send in quest of the best surgeons in this country, and, by God's
help, you will soon be healed."

Bayard looked up at him with dying eyes, full of pity and reproach.

"My lord, I thank you," he said, "but pity is not for me, who die like a
true man, serving my king; pity is for you, who bear arms against your
prince, your country, and your oath."

Bourbon made no answer. He turned and withdrew, doubtless stung to the
soul by the reproachful words of the noblest and honestest man of that
age. His own conscience must have added a double sting to Bayard's
words. Such is the bitterest reward of treason; it dares not look
integrity in the face.

Bayard lived for two or three hours afterwards, surrounded by his
friends, who would not leave him, though he bade them do so to escape
falling into the enemy's hands. They had nothing to fear. Both armies
mourned the loss of the good knight, with equal grief. Five days after
his death, on May 5, 1524, Beaurain wrote to Charles V.,--

"Sir, albeit Sir Bayard was your enemy's servant, yet was it pity of his
death, for he was a gentle knight, well beloved of every one, and one
that lived as good a life as ever any man of his condition. And, in
truth, he fully showed it by his end, for it was the most beautiful that
I ever heard tell of."

So passed away a man who lived fully up to the principles of chivalry,
and whose honesty, modesty, sympathy, and valor have given him undying
fame. His name survives as an example of what chivalry might have been
had man been as Christian in nature as in name, but of what it rarely
was, except in theory.

The next picture we shall draw belongs to the date of February 24, 1525.
Francis I. had for months been besieging Pavia. Bourbon came to its
relief. A battle followed, which at first seemed to favor the French,
but which Bourbon's skill soon turned in favor of the Imperialists.
Seeing his ranks breaking on all sides, Francis, inspired by fury and
despair, desperately charged the enemy with such knights and men-at-arms
as he could get to follow him. The conflict was fierce and fatal. Around
the king fell his ablest warriors,--Marshal de Foix, Francis of
Lorraine, Bussy d'Amboise, La Trémoille, and many others. At sight of
this terrible slaughter, Admiral Bonnivet, under the king the leader of
the French host, exclaimed, in accents of despair, "I can never survive
this fearful havoc." Raising the visor of his helmet, he rushed
desperately forward where a tempest of balls was sweeping the field, and
in a moment fell beside his slain comrades.

Francis fought on amid the heaps of dead and dying, his soul filled with
the battle rage, his heart burning with fury and desperation. He was
wounded in face, arms, and legs, yet still his heavy sword swept right
and left, still men fell before his vigorous blows. His horse, mortally
wounded, sank under him, dragging him down. In an instant he was up
again, laying about him shrewdly. Two Spaniards who pressed him closely
fell before the sweep of that great blade. Alone among his foes he
fought on, a crowd of hostile soldiers around him. Who he was they knew
not, but his size, strength, and courage, the golden lilies which
studded his coat of mail, the plume of costly feathers which waved from
his helmet, told them that this must be one of the greatest men in the
French array.

Despite the strength and intrepid valor of the king, his danger was
increasing minute by minute, when the Lord of Pompérant, one of
Bourbon's intimate friends, pressed up through the mass and recognized
the warrior who stood like a wounded lion at bay amid a pack of wolves.

"Back! back!" he cried, springing forward, and beating off the soldiers
with his sword. "Leave this man to me."

Pressing to the king's side, he still beat back his foes, saying to

"Yield, my liege! You stand alone. If you fight longer, I cannot answer
for your life. Look! there is no hope for you. The Duke of Bourbon is
not far off. Let me send for him to receive your sword."

The visor of the king hid the look with which he must have received
these words. But from the helmet's iron depths came in hollow tones the
reply of Francis of France to this appeal.

"No," he cried, sternly, "rather would I die the death than pledge my
faith to Bourbon the traitor! Where is the Viceroy of Naples?"

Lannoy, the viceroy, was in a distant part of the field. Some time was
lost in finding and bringing him to the spot. At length he arrived, and
fell upon one knee before Francis, who presented him his sword. Lannoy
took it with a show of the profoundest respect, and immediately gave him
another in its place. The battle was over, and the king of France was a
prisoner in the hands of his rebellious subject, the Duke of Bourbon.
The wheel of fate had strangely turned.

The captive king had shown himself a poor general, but an heroic
soldier. His victors viewed him with admiration for his prowess. When he
sat at table, after having his wounds, which were slight, dressed,
Bourbon approached him respectfully and handed him a dinner napkin.
Francis took it, but with the most distant and curt politeness. The next
day an interview took place between Bourbon and the king, in reference
to the position of the latter as captive. In this Francis displayed the
same frigidity of manner as before, while he was all cordiality with
Pescara, Bourbon's fellow in command. The two leaders claimed Francis as
their own captive, but Lannoy, to whom he had surrendered, had him
embarked for Naples, and instead of taking him there, sent him directly
to Spain, where he was delivered up to Charles V. Thus ended this
episode in the life of the Constable de Bourbon.

We have still another, and the closing, scene to present in the life of
this great soldier and traitor. It is of no less interest than those
that have gone before. Historically it is of far deeper interest, for it
was attended with a destruction of inestimable material that has rarely
been excelled. The world is the poorer that Bourbon lived.

In Spain he had been treated with consideration by the emperor, but with
disdain by many of the lords, who despised him as a traitor. Charles V.
asked the Marquis de Villena to give quarters in his palace to the duke.

"I can refuse the emperor nothing," he replied; "but as soon as the
_traitor_ is out of my house I shall set it on fire with my own hand. No
man of honor could live in it again."

Despite this feeling, the military record of Bourbon could not be set
aside. He was the greatest general of his time, and, recognizing this,
Charles again placed him in command of his armies in Italy. On going
there, Bourbon found that there was nothing that could be called an
army. Everything was in disorder and the imperial cause almost at an
end. In this state of affairs, Bourbon became filled with hopes of great
conquests and high fame for himself. Filled with the spirit of
adventure, and finding the Spanish army devoted to him, he added to it
some fifteen thousand of German lanzknechts, most of them Lutherans.

Addressing this greedy horde of soldiers of fortune, he told them that
he was now but a poor gentleman, like themselves, and promised that if
they would follow him he would make them rich or die in the attempt.
Finishing his remarks, which were greeted with enthusiastic cheers, he
distributed among them all his money and jewels, keeping little more
than his clothes and armor for himself.

"We will follow you everywhere, to the devil himself!" shouted the wild
horde of adventurers. "No more of Julius Cæsar, Hannibal, and Scipio!
Hurrah for the fame of Bourbon!"

Putting himself at the head of this tumultuous array, the duke led them
southward through Italy, halting before Bologna, Florence, and other
towns, with a half-formed purpose to besiege them, but in the end
pushing on without an assault until, on the 5th of May, 1527, his horde
of land pirates came in sight of Rome itself.

The imperial city, after being sacked by the Goths, Vandals, and other
barbarians, had remained without serious damage for a thousand years,
but now another army was encamped under its walls, and one equally bent
on havoc and ruin with those of the past.

"Now is the time to show courage, manliness, and the strength of your
bodies," said Bourbon to his followers. "If in this bout you are
victorious, you will be rich lords and well off for the rest of your
lives. Yonder is the city whereof, in times past, a wise astrologer
prophesied concerning me, telling me that I should die there; but I
swear to you that I care but little for dying there if, when I die, my
corpse be left with endless glory and renown throughout the world."

He then bade them to retire for the night, ordering them to be ready
betimes in the morning for the assault, which would take place at an
early hour on that day. Hardly, indeed, had the stars faded before the
sunrise of May 6, when the soldiers were afoot and making ready for the
assault. Bourbon placed himself at their head, clad all in white that he
might be better seen and known. To the walls they advanced, bearing
scaling ladders, which they hastened to place. On the first raised of
these Bourbon set foot, with the soldier's desire to be the earliest in
the assault. But hardly had he taken two steps up the ladder than his
grasp loosened and he fell backward, with blood gushing from his side.
He had been hit with an arquebuse-shot in the left side and mortally

He had but voice enough left to bid those near him to cover his body
with a cloak and take it away, that his followers might not know of his
death. Those were the last words recorded of the Duke of Bourbon. He
died as he had lived, a valiant soldier and a born adventurer, hurling
havoc with his last words on the great city of the Church; for his
followers, not knowing of his death, attacked so furiously that the
walls were soon carried and the town theirs. Then, as news came to them
that their leader had fallen, they burst into the fury of slaughter,
shouting, "Slay, slay! blood, blood! Bourbon! Bourbon!" and cutting down
remorselessly all whom they met.

The celebrated artist, Benvenuto Cellini, tells us in his autobiography
that it was he who shot Bourbon, aiming his arquebuse from the wall of
the Campo Santo at one of the besiegers who was mounted higher than the
rest, and who, as he afterwards learned, was the leader of the assailing

Whoever it was that fired the fatal shot, the slain man was frightfully
avenged, Rome being plundered, ravaged, and devastated by his brutal
followers to a degree not surpassed by the work of the Vandals of old.
For several months the famous city remained in the hands of this
licentious soldiery, and its inhabitants were subjected to every
outrage and barbarity which brutal desire and ungoverned license could
incite, while in none of its former periods of ravage were so many of
the precious relics of antiquity destroyed as in this period of
occupation by men who called themselves the soldiers of civilized and
Christian lands.


"Kill! kill! kill!" was the cry in Paris. "Blood! blood! death to the
Huguenots!" came from the lips of thousands of maddened murderers. Blood
flowed everywhere; men dabbled in blood, almost bathed in blood. A
crimson tide flowed in the streets of Paris deep enough to damn the
infamous Catherine de' Medici and her confederates. To the crime of
assassination on that direful day of St. Bartholomew must be added that
of treachery of the darkest hue. Peace had been made between the warring
parties. The Protestant chiefs had been invited to Paris to witness the
marriage of the young King Henry of Navarre with Marguerite de Valois,
sister of the king of France, which was fixed for the 18th of August,
1572. They had been received with every show of amity and good-will. The
great Huguenot leader, Admiral de Coligny, had come, confiding in the
honor of his late foes, and had been received by the king, Charles IX.,
with demonstrations of sincere friendship, though the weak monarch
warned him to beware of the Guises, his bitter enemies and the
remorseless haters of all opponents of the Catholic party.

On the 22d of August the work of treachery began. On that day a
murderous shot was fired at Coligny as he stood by the window of his
room engaged in reading a letter. It smashed two fingers of his right
hand, and lodged a ball in his left arm. The would-be murderer escaped.

"Here is a fine proof of the fidelity to his agreement of the Duke of
Guise," said Coligny, reproachfully, to the king.

"My dear father," returned the king, "the hurt is yours, the grief and
the outrage mine; but I will take such vengeance that it shall never be

He meant it for the moment; but his mind was feeble, his will weak,
himself a mere puppet in the hands of his imperious mother and the
implacable Guises. Between them they had determined to rid themselves of
the opposing party in the state on the death of the admiral and the
other Protestant leaders. Sure of their power over the king, the orders
for the massacre were already given when, near midnight of August 24,
St. Bartholomew's day, the queen, with some of her leading councillors,
sought the king's room and made a determined assault upon the feeble
defences of his intellect.

"The slaughter of many thousands of men may be prevented by a single
sword-thrust," they argued. "Only kill the admiral, the head and front
of the civil wars, and the strength of his party will die with him. The
sacrifice of two or three men will satisfy the loyal party, who will
remain forever your faithful and obedient subjects. War is inevitable.
The Guises on one side, and the Huguenots on the other, cannot be
controlled. Better to win a battle in Paris, where we hold all the
chiefs in our clutches, than to put it to hazard in the field. In this
case pity would be cruelty, and cruelty would be pity."

For an hour and a half the struggle with the weak will of the king
continued. He was violently agitated, but could not bring himself to
order the murder of the guest to whom he had promised his royal faith
and protection. The queen mother grew alarmed. Delay might ruin all, by
the discovery of her plans. At length, with a show of indignation, she

"Then, if you will not do this, permit me and your brother to retire to
some other part of the kingdom."

This threat to leave him alone to grapple with the difficulties that
surrounded him frightened the feeble king. He rose hastily from his

"By God's death!" he cried, passionately, "since you think proper to
kill the admiral, I consent." With these words he left the room.

The beginning of the work of bloodshed had been fixed for an hour before
daybreak. But the king had spoken in a moment of passion and agitation.
An hour's reflection might change his mind. There was no time to be
lost. The queen gave the signal at once, and out on the air of that
dreadful night rang the terrible tocsin peal from the tower of the
church of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, the alarm call for which the
white-crossed murderers waited.

Quickly the silence of the night was broken by loud cries, shouts of
vengeance, the tramp of many feet, the sharp reports of musketry. The
work was begun. Every man not marked by a cross was to be slaughtered.
The voice of murder broke fearfully upon the peacefulness of the
recently quiet midnight hour.

The noise roused Coligny. He rose hastily and threw on his
dressing-gown. The cries and shots told him what was going on. He had
trusted the faithless Guises and the soulless De' Medici, and this was
what came of it.

"M. Merlin," he said to a clergyman who was with him, "say me a prayer;
I commit my soul to my Saviour."

Some of his gentlemen entered the room.

"What is the meaning of this riot?" asked Ambrose Paré.

"My lord, it is God calling us," said Cornaton.

"I have long been ready to die," said the admiral; "but you, my friends,
save yourselves, if it is still possible."

They left him, and escaped, the most of them by the roof. Only one man
stayed with him, Nicholas Muss, a German servant, "as little concerned,"
says Cornaton, "as if there was nothing going on around him."

The flight had been made barely in time. Hasty footsteps were heard
below. The assassins were in the house. In a moment more the chamber
door was flung open and two servants of the Duke of Guise entered.

"Art not thou the admiral?" asked one of them, Behme by name.

"Young man," answered Coligny, "thou comest against a wounded and aged
man. Thou'lt not shorten my life by much."

Behme's answer was to plunge a heavy boar-spear which he held into the
body of the defenceless veteran. Withdrawing it, he struck him on the
head with it. Coligny fell, saying,--

"If it were but a man! But it is a horse-boy."

Others rushed into the room and thrust their weapons into the dying man.

"Behme," cried the duke of Guise from the court-yard, "hast thou done?"

"It is all over, my lord," answered the assassin.

The murderers flung the body from the window. It fell with a crash at
the feet of Guise and his companions. They turned it over, wiped the
blood from the face, and said,--

"Faith, it is he, sure enough!"

Some say that Guise kicked the bleeding corpse in the face.

Meanwhile, murder was everywhere. The savage lower orders of Paris, all,
high and low, of the party of the Guises, were infected with the thirst
for blood, and the streets of the city became a horrible whirlpool of
slaughter, all who did not wear the saving cross being shot down without
mercy or discrimination.

The anecdotes of that fatal night and the succeeding day are numerous,
some of them pathetic, most of them ferocious, all tending to show how
brutal man may become under the inspiration of religious prejudice and
the example of slaughter,--the blood fury, as it has been fitly termed.

Téligny, the son-in-law of Coligny, took refuge on a roof. The guards of
the Duke of Anjou fired at him as at a target. La Rochefoucauld, with
whom the king had been in merry chat until eleven o'clock of the
preceding evening, was aroused by a loud knocking upon his door. He
opened it; six masked men rushed in, and instantly buried their poniards
in his body. The new queen of Navarre had just gone to bed, under
peremptory orders from her mother, Catherine de' Medici. She was wakened
from her first slumber by a man knocking and kicking at her door, with
wild shouts of "Navarre! Navarre!" Her nurse ran to open the door,
thinking that it was the king, her lady's husband. A wounded and
bleeding gentleman rushed in, blood flowing from both arms, four archers
pursuing him into the queen's bedchamber.

The fugitive flung himself on the queen's couch, seizing her in his
alarm. She leaped out of bed towards the wall, he following her, and
still clasping her round the body. What it meant she knew not, but
screamed in fright, her assailant screaming as loudly. Their cries had
the effect of bringing into the room M. de Nançay, captain of the
guards, who could not help laughing on seeing the plight of the queen.
But in an instant more he turned in a rage upon the archers, cursed them
for their daring, and harshly bade them begone. As for the fugitive, M.
de Leran by name, he granted him his life at the queen's prayer. She
put him to bed, in her closet, and attended him until he was well of his

Such are a few of the anecdotes told of that night of terror. They might
be extended indefinitely, but anecdotes of murder are not of the most
attractive character, and may profitably be passed over. The king saved
some, including his nurse and Ambrose Paré his surgeon, both Huguenots.
Two others, destined in the future to play the highest parts in the
kingdom, were saved by his orders. These were the two Huguenot princes,
Henry of Navarre, and Henry de Condé. The king sent for them during the
height of the massacre, and bade them recant or die.

"I mean, for the future," he said, "to have but one religion in my
kingdom; the mass or death; make your choice."

The king of Navarre asked for time to consider the subject, reminding
Charles of his promised protection. Condé was defiant.

"I will remain firm in what I believe to be the true religion," he said,
"though I have to give up my life for it."

"Seditious madman, rebel, and son of a rebel," cried the king,
furiously, "if within three days you do not change your language, I will
have you strangled."

In three days Charles himself changed his language. Remorse succeeded
his insensate rage.

"Ambrose," he said to his surgeon, "I do not know what has come over me
for the last two or three days, but I feel my mind and body greatly
excited; in fact, just as if I had a fever. It seems to me every moment,
whether I wake or sleep, that these murdered corpses appear to me with
hideous and blood-covered faces. I wish the helpless and innocent had
not been included."

On the next day he issued orders, prohibiting, on pain of death, any
slaying or plundering. But he had raised a fury not easily to be
allayed. The tocsin of death still rang; to it the great bell of the
palace added at intervals its clanging peal; shouts, yells, the sharp
reports of pistols and arquebuses, the shrieks of victims, filled the
air; sixty thousand murderers thronged the streets, slaying all who wore
not the white cross, breaking into and plundering houses, and
slaughtering all within them. All through that dreadful Sunday the
crimson carnival went on, death everywhere, wagons loaded with bleeding
bodies traversing the streets, to cast their gory burdens into the
Seine, a scene of frightful massacre prevailing such as city streets
have seldom witnessed. The king judged feebly if he deemed that with a
word he could quell the storm his voice had raised. Many of the nobles
of the court, satisfied with the death of the Huguenot leaders,
attempted to stay the work of death, but a report that a party of
Huguenots had attempted to kill the king added to the popular fury, and
the sanguinary work went on.

It is not known how many were slain during that outbreak of slaughter.
It was not confined to Paris, but spread through France. Thousands are
said to have been killed in the city. In the kingdom the number slain
has been variously estimated at from ten to one hundred thousand. Such
was the frightful result of a lamentable event in which religious
animosity was taken advantage of to intensify the political enmity of
the warring parties of the realm.

It proved a useless infamy. Charles IX. died two years afterwards, after
having suffered agonies of remorse. Despite the massacre, the Huguenots
were not all slain. Nor had the murder of Coligny robbed them of a
leader. Henry of Navarre, who had narrowly escaped death on that fearful
night, was in the coming years to lead the Protestants to many a
victory, and in the end to become king of France, as Henry IV. By his
coronation, Coligny was revenged; the Huguenots, instead of being
exterminated by the hand of massacre, had defeated their foes and raised
their leader to the throne, and the Edict of Nantes, which was soon
afterwards announced, gave liberty of conscience to France for many
years thereafter.


For the first time in its history France had a Protestant king. Henry
III. had died by the knife of an assassin. Henry of Navarre was named by
him as his successor. But the Catholic chiefs of France, in particular
the leaders of the League which had been banded against Henry III., were
bitterly opposed to the reign of a Huguenot in a realm that had always
been governed by Catholic kings, and it was evident that only by the
sword could the throne be secured.

The League held Paris and much of France. Henry's army was too weak to
face them. He fell back on Dieppe, that he might be near the coast, and
in position to receive reinforcements and supplies promised him by Queen
Elizabeth. The Duke of Mayenne pursued him with an army of some
thirty-five thousand men. Such was the situation at the date of the
opening of our story.

Henry III. had been killed on the 1st of August, 1589. Henry IV. was
proclaimed king on the 2d of August. On the 26th of the same month he
reached Dieppe, where he was met by the governor, Aymar de Chastes, and
the leading citizens, who brought him the keys of the place.

"I come to salute my lord and hand over to him the government of this
city," said Aymar, who was a Catholic noble.

"Ventre-saint-gris!" cried Henry, with his favorite exclamation; "I know
none more worthy of it than you are."

The citizens crowded round the king, profuse in their expressions of

"No fuss, my lads," said Henry, who was the embodiment of plain common
sense; "all I want is your affection, good bread, good wine, and good
hospitable faces."

Within the town he was received with loud cheers, and the population
seemed enthusiastic in his favor. But the shrewd soldier had no idea of
shutting himself up in a walled town, to be besieged there by Mayenne.
So, after carefully inspecting its fortifications, he left five hundred
men within the town, assisted by a garrison of burgesses, and
established his camp on a neighboring hill, crowned by the old castle of
Arques, where he put all his men and all the peasants that could be
found busily to work digging like beavers, working night and day to
fortify the camp. He set the example himself in the use of the spade.

"It is a wonder I am alive with such work as I have," he wrote at the
time. "God have pity upon me and show me mercy, blessing my labors, as
He does in spite of many folks. I am well, and my affairs are going
well. I have taken Eu. The enemy, who are double me just now, thought to
catch me there; but I drew off towards Dieppe, and I await them in a
camp that I am fortifying. To-morrow will be the day when I shall see
them, and I hope, with God's help, that if they attack me they will
find they have made a bad bargain."

The enemy came, as Henry had said, saw his preparations, and by a
skilful manoeuvre sought to render them useless. Mayenne had no fancy
for attacking those strong works in front. He managed, by an
unlooked-for movement, to push himself between the camp and the town,
"hoping to cut off the king's communications with the sea, divide his
forces, deprive him of his reinforcements from England, and, finally,
surround him and capture him, as he had promised the Leaguers of Paris,
who were already talking of the iron cage in which the Bearnese would be
sent to them."

But Henry IV. was not the man to be caught easily in a trap. Much as had
been his labor at digging, he at once changed his plans, and decided
that it would not pay him to await the foe in his intrenchments. If they
would not come to him, he must go to them, preserving his communications
at any cost. Chance, rather than design, brought the two armies into
contact. A body of light-horse approached the king's intrenchments. A
sharp skirmish followed.

"My son," said Marshal de Biron to the young Count of Auvergne, "charge;
now is the time."

The young soldier--a prince by birth--obeyed, and so effectively that he
put the Leaguers to rout, killed three hundred of them, and returned to
camp unobstructed. On the succeeding two days similar encounters took
place, with like good fortune for Henry's army. Mayenne was annoyed.
His prestige was in danger of being lost. He determined to recover it by
attacking the intrenchments of the king with his whole army.

The night of the 20th of September came. It was a very dark one. Henry,
having reason to expect an attack, kept awake the whole night. In
company with a group of his officers, he gazed over the dark valley
within which lay Mayenne's army. The silence was profound. Afar off
could be seen a long line of lights, so flickering and inconstant that
the observers were puzzled to decide if they were men or glow-worms.

At five in the morning, Henry gave orders that every man should be at
his post. He had his breakfast brought to him on the field, and ate it
with a hearty appetite, seated in a fosse with his officers around him.
While there a prisoner was brought in who had been taken during a

"Good-morning, Belin," said the king, who knew him. "Embrace me for your
welcome appearance."

Belin did so, taking the situation philosophically.

"To give you appetite for dinner," he said, "you are about to have work
to do with thirty thousand foot and ten thousand horse. Where are your
forces?" he continued, looking around curiously.

"You don't see them all, M. de Belin," answered Henry. "You don't reckon
the good God and the good right, but they are ever with me."

Belin had told the truth. About ten o'clock Mayenne made his attack. It
was a day ill-suited for battle, for there lay upon the field so thick
a fog that the advancing lines could not see each other at ten paces
apart. Despite this, the battle proceeded briskly, and for nearly three
hours the two armies struggled, now one, now the other, in the

Henry fought as vigorously as any of his men, all being so confusedly
mingled in the fog that there was little distinction between officers
and soldiers. At one time he found himself so entangled in a medley of
disorganized troopers that he loudly shouted,--

"Courage, gentlemen; pray, courage! Are there not among you fifty
gentlemen willing to die with their king?"

The confusion was somewhat alleviated by the arrival, at this juncture,
of five hundred men from Dieppe, whose opportune coming the king gladly
greeted. Springing from his horse, he placed himself beside Chatillon,
their leader, to fight in the trenches. The battle, which had been hot
at this point, now grew furious, and for some fifteen minutes there was
a hand-to-hand struggle in the fog, like that of two armies fighting in
the dead of night.

Then came a welcome change. For what followed we may quote Sully. "When
things were in this desperate state," he says, "the fog, which had been
very thick all the morning, dropped down suddenly, and the cannon of the
castle of Arques, getting sight of the enemy's army, a volley of four
pieces was fired, which made four beautiful lanes in their squadrons and
battalions. That pulled them up quite short; and three or four volleys
in succession, which produced marvellous effects, made them waver, and,
little by little, retire all of them behind the turn of the valley, out
of cannon-shot, and finally to their quarters."

Mayenne was defeated. The king held the field. He pursued the enemy for
some distance, and then returned to Arques to return thanks to God for
the victory. Immediately afterwards, Mayenne struck camp and marched
away, leaving Henry master of the situation. The king of Navarre had
scored a master-point in the contest for the throne of France.

During the ensuing year the cause of the king rapidly advanced. More and
more of France acknowledged him as the legitimate heir to the throne. A
year after the affair at Dieppe he marched suddenly and rapidly on
Paris, and would have taken it had not Mayenne succeeded in throwing his
army into the city when it was half captured. In March, 1590, the two
armies met again on the plain of Ivry, a village half-way between Mantes
and Dreux, and here was fought one of the famous battles of history, a
conflict whose final result was to make Henry IV. king of all France.

On this notable field the king was greatly outnumbered. Mayenne had
under his command about four thousand horse and twenty thousand foot,
while Henry's force consisted of three thousand horse and eight thousand
foot. But the king's men were much better disciplined, and much more
largely moved by patriotism, Mayenne's army being in considerable part
made up of German and Swiss auxiliaries. The king's men, Catholics and
Protestants alike, were stirred by a strong religious enthusiasm. In a
grave and earnest speech to his men, Henry placed the issue of the day
in the hands of the Almighty. The Catholics of his army crowded to the
neighboring churches to hear mass. The Huguenots, much fewer in number,
"also made their prayers after their sort."

The day of battle dawned,--March 14, 1590. Henry's army was drawn up
with the infantry to right and left,--partly made up of German and Swiss
auxiliaries,--the cavalry, under his own command, in the centre. In this
arm, in those days of transition between ancient and modern war, the
strength of armies lay, and those five lines of horsemen were that day
to decide the fate of the field.

In the early morning Henry displayed a winning instance of that generous
good feeling for which he was noted. Count Schomberg, colonel of the
German auxiliaries, had, some days before, asked for the pay of his
troops, saying that they would not fight if not paid. Henry, indignant
at this implied threat, had harshly replied,--

"People do not ask for money on the eve of a battle."

He now, just as the battle was about to begin, approached Schomberg with
a look of contrition on his face.

"Colonel," he said, "I have hurt your feelings. This may be the last day
of my life. I cannot bear to take away the honor of a brave and honest
gentleman like you. Pray forgive me and embrace me."

"Sir," answered Schomberg, with deep feeling, "the other day your
Majesty wounded me; to-day you kill me."

He gave up the command of the German reiters that he might fight in the
king's own squadron, and was killed in the battle.

As the two armies stood face to face, waiting for the signal of onset,
Henry rode along the front of his squadron, and halted opposite their

"Fellow-soldiers," he said, "you are Frenchmen; behold the enemy! If
to-day you run my risks, I also run yours. I will conquer or die with
you. Keep your ranks well, I pray you. If the heat of battle disperse
you for a while, rally as soon as you can under those pear-trees you see
up yonder to my right; and if you lose sight of your standards, do not
lose sight of my white plume. Make that your rallying point, for you
will always find it in the path of honor, and, I hope, of victory also."

And Henry pointed significantly to the snow-white plume that ornamented
his helmet, while a shout of enthusiastic applause broke from all those
who had heard his stirring appeal. Those words have become famous. The
white plume of Henry of Navarre is still one of the rallying points of
history. It has also a notable place in poetry, in Macaulay's stirring
ode of "Ivry," from which we quote:

    "'And if my standard-bearer fall,
      As fall full well he may;
    For never saw I promise yet
      Of such a bloody fray;
    Press where ye see my white plume shine
      Amidst the ranks of war,
    And be your oriflamme to-day
      The helmet of Navarre.'"

The words we have quoted spoken, Henry galloped along the whole line of
his army; then halted again, threw his bridle over his arm, and said,
with clasped hands and deep feeling,--

"O God, Thou knowest my thoughts, and dost see to the very bottom of my
heart; if it be for my people's good that I keep the crown, favor Thou
my cause and uphold my arms. But if Thy holy will have otherwise
ordained, at least let me die, O God, in the midst of these brave
soldiers who give their lives for me!"

The infantry began the battle. Egmont, in command of Mayenne's right
wing, attacked sharply, but after a brief success was killed and his men
repulsed. On the king's right, Aumont, Biron, and Montpensier drove
their opponents before them. At this stage of the affray Mayenne, in
command of the powerful body of cavalry in the centre, fell upon the
king's horse with a furious charge, which for the time threatened to
carry all before it. The lines wavered and broke; knights and nobles
fell back; confusion began and was increasing; the odds appeared too
great; for a brief and perilous period the battle seemed lost. At this
critical moment Henry came to the rescue. Victory or death had been his
word to his men. His promise was now to be kept in deeds. Pointing with
his sword to the enemy, and calling in a loud voice upon all who heard
him to follow, he spurred fiercely forward, and in a moment his white
plume was seen waving in the thickest ranks of the foe.

His cry had touched the right place in the hearts of his followers.
Forgetting every thought but that of victory and the rescue of their
beloved leader, they pushed after him in a gallant and irresistible
charge, which resembled in its impetuosity that of the Black Prince at
Poitiers. Mayenne's thronging horsemen wavered and broke before this
impetuous rush. Into the heart of the opposing army rode Henry and his
ardent followers, cutting, slashing, shouting in victorious enthusiasm.
In a few minutes the forward movement of Mayenne's cavalry was checked.
His troops halted, wavered, broke, and fled, hotly pursued by their
foes. The battle was won. That rush of the white plume had carried all
before it, and swept the serried ranks of the Leaguers to the winds. Let
us quote the poetic rendition of this scene from Macaulay's ode.

    "Hurrah! the foes are moving!
      Hark to the mingled din
    Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum
      And roaring culverin!
    The fiery duke is pricking fast
      Across St André's plain,
    With all the hireling cavalry
      Of Gueldres and Almayne.
    'Now by the lips of those ye love,
      Fair gentlemen of France,
    Charge for the golden lilies,
      Upon them with the lance!'
    A thousand spurs are striking deep,
      A thousand spears in rest,
    A thousand knights are pressing close
      Behind a snow-white crest,
    And in they burst, and on they rushed,
      While, like a gliding star,
    Amidst the thickest carnage blazed
      The helmet of Navarre."

The enemy's cavalry being in flight and hotly pursued, Henry with a
handful of horsemen (he had but thirty at his back when he came out of
the mêlée) charged upon the Walloons and Swiss, who instantly broke and
fled, with such impetuous haste that they left their standards behind

"Slay the strangers, but spare the French," was the king's order, as a
hot pursuit of the flying infantry began, in which the German
auxiliaries in particular were cut down mercilessly.

    "And then we thought on vengeance,
      And all along our van,
    'Remember St. Bartholomew!'
      Was passed from man to man.
    But out spake gentle Henry,
      'No Frenchman is my foe;
    Down, down with every foreigner,
      But let your brethren go.'"

The Swiss, however, ancient friends and allies of France, begged the
king's compassion and were admitted to mercy, being drafted into his
service. The flying Germans and French were severely punished, great
numbers of them falling, many more being taken, the list of prisoners
including a large number of lords and leaders of the foe. The battle had
been remarkably short. It was won by the cavalry, the infantry having
scarcely come into action. As to its effect, we may quote again from the

    "Now glory to the Lord of Hosts,
      From whom all glories are,
    And glory to our sovereign liege,
      King Henry of Navarre.
    Now let there be the merry sound
      Of music and of dance,
    Through thy corn-fields green and sunny vines,
      Oh, pleasant land of France.
    Hurrah! Hurrah! a single field
      Hath turned the chance of war!
    Hurrah! Hurrah! for Ivry,
      And Henry of Navarre!"

It "turned the chance of war" in truth, in a great measure. Paris was in
consternation. Everywhere was a great change in public opinion. Men
ceased to look on Henry as an adventurous soldier, and came to regard
him as a great prince, fighting for his own. Beyond this, however, the
effect was not immediate. Paris remained in the hands of the League. A
Spanish League was formed. The difficulties seemed to grow deeper. The
only easy solution to them was an abjuration of the Protestant faith,
and to this view Henry in the end came. He professed conversion to
Catholicism, and all opposition ceased. Henry IV. became the fully
acknowledged king of France, and for the time being all persecution of
the Huguenots was at an end.


History is full of stories of presentiments, of "visions of sudden
death," made notable by their realization, of strange disasters
predicted in advance. Doubtless there have been very many presentiments
that failed to come true, enough, possibly, to make those that have been
realized mere coincidences. However that be, these agreements of
prediction and event are, to say the least, curious. The case of Cæsar
is well known. We have now to relate that of Henry IV.

Sully has told the story. Henry had married, as a second wife, Mary de'
Medici, daughter of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and a woman whose
headstrong temper and cantankerous disposition were by no means
calculated to make his life with her an agreeable one. In the end she
strongly insisted on being crowned queen, a desire on her part which was
very unpleasant to her royal husband, who seemed to feel that some
disaster impended over the event.

"Hey! my friend," he said to Sully, his intimate, "I know not what is
the meaning of it, but my heart tells me that some misfortune will
happen to me."

He was seated on a low chair, his face disturbed by uneasy thought, his
fingers drumming on his spectacle-case. Of a sudden he sprang up, and
struck his hand sharply on his thigh.

"By God!" he said; "I shall die in this city, and shall never go out of
it. They will kill me. I see quite well that they have no other remedy
in their dangers but my death. Ah! accursed coronation; thou wilt be the
cause of my death!"

"What fancy is this of yours?" asked Sully. "If it continue, I am of
opinion that you should break off this anointment and coronation. If you
please to give me orders, it shall be done."

"Yes, break off the coronation," said the king. "Let me hear no more
about it. I shall have my mind at rest from divers fancies which certain
warnings have put into it. To hide nothing from you, I have been told
that I was to be killed at the first grand ceremony I should undertake,
and that I should die in a carriage."

"You never told me that, sir," answered Sully. "I have often been
astounded to hear you cry out when in a carriage, as if you had dreaded
this petty peril, after having so many times seen you amidst
cannon-balls, musketry, lance-thrusts, pike-thrusts, and sword-thrusts,
without being a bit afraid. Since your mind is so exercised thereby, if
I were you, I would go away to-morrow, let the coronation take place
without you, or put it off to another time, and not enter Paris for a
long time, or in a carriage. If you please, I will send word to Notre
Dame and St. Denys to stop everything and to withdraw the workmen."

"I am very much inclined," said the king; "but what will my wife say?
She has gotten this coronation marvellously into her head."

"She may say what she likes," rejoined Sully. "But I cannot think that,
when she knows your opinion about it, she will persist any longer."

He did not know Mary de' Medici. She did persist strongly and
offensively. For three days the matter was disputed, with high words on
both sides. In the end, Henry, weary of the contention, and finding it
impossible to convince or silence his obstinate wife, gave way, and the
laborers were again set to work to prepare for the coronation.

Despite his presentiments Henry remained in Paris, and gave orders for
the immediate performance of the ceremony, as if he were anxious to have
done with it, and to pass the crisis in his life which he feared. The
coronation was proclaimed on the 12th of May, 1610. It took place on the
13th, at St. Denys. The tragical event which he had dreaded did not take
place. He breathed easier.

On the next day, the 14th, he took it in mind to go to the arsenal to
see Sully, who was ill. Yet the same indecision and fear seemed to
possess him. He stirred about in an unquiet and irresolute mood, saying
several times to the queen, "My dear, shall I go or not?"

He went so far as to leave the room two or three times, but each time
returned, in the same doubt.

"My dear, shall I really go?" he said to the queen; and then, making up
his mind, he kissed her several times and bade her adieu.

"I shall only go there and back," he said; "I shall be here again almost

On reaching his carriage, M. de Praslin, the captain of his guard,
proposed to attend him, but he would not permit it, saying,--

"Get you gone; I want nobody; go about your business."

Yet that morning, in a conversation with Guise and Bassompierre, he had
spoken as if he dreaded quickly coming death.

"You will live, please God, long years yet," said Bassompierre. "You are
only in the flower of your age, in perfect bodily health and strength,
full of honor more than any mortal man, in the most flourishing kingdom
in the world, loved and adored by your subjects, with fine houses, fine
women, fine children who are growing up."

Henry sighed, as if still oppressed by his presentiments, and sadly

"My friend, all that must be left."

Those were his last words of which any record remains, save the few he
spoke in the carriage. A few hours afterwards all the earthly blessings
of which Bassompierre spoke were naught to him. The king was dead.

To return to our subject; in the carriage with the king were several
gentlemen of the court. Henry occupied the rear seat at the left, with
M. d'Epernon seated at his right, and M. de Montbazon between him and
the door, while several other gentlemen occupied the remaining seats.
When the carriage reached the Croix du Tiroir, the coachman asked
whither he should drive, and was bidden to go towards St. Innocent. On
the way thither, while in the Rue de la Ferronnerie, a cart obstructed
the way, so that the carriage had to turn towards the sidewalk and to
proceed more slowly. Here were some ironmongers' shops, beside one of
which lurked a man, his eyes keenly fixed on the approaching carriage,
his hand nervously clutching some object in his pocket.

As the carriage moved slowly by, this man sprang from his covert and
rushed towards it, a knife in his hand. In an instant he had dealt the
king two blows, in rapid succession, in the left side. The first struck
him below the armpit and went upward, merely grazing the flesh. The
other proved more dangerous. It entered his side between the fifth and
sixth ribs, and, taking a downward direction, cut a large blood-vessel.
The king, by chance, had his left hand on the shoulder of M. de
Montbazon, and was leaning towards M. d'Epernon, to whom he was
speaking. He thus laid himself more fully open to the assassin's knife.

All had passed so quickly that no movement of defence was possible.
Henry gave a low cry and made a few movements.

"What is the matter, sir?" asked M. de Montbazon, who had not seen the

"It is nothing," answered the king. "It is nothing," he repeated, his
voice now so low that they could barely hear him. Those were the last
words he spoke.

The assassin had been seized. He was a fanatic, named François
Ravaillac, who had been roused to his mad act by rumors that Henry
intended to make war upon the pope, and other baseless fancies of the
king's opponents. With him we are not further concerned, other than to
say that he was made to suffer the most barbarous tortures for his deed.

The carriage was turned and driven back to the Louvre. On reaching the
entrance steps some wine was given to the wounded monarch. An officer of
the guard raised his head, his only sign of intelligence being some
movements of the eyes. In a moment more they were closed, never to be
opened again.

He was carried up-stairs and laid on the couch in his closet, and from
there taken to the bed in his chamber. As he lay there some one gave him
holy water, and M. de Vic, a councillor of state, put to his mouth the
cross of his order, and directed his thoughts to God. All this was lost
on the king. He lay motionless and insensible. All around him were in
tears. The grief of the queen was unconsolable. All Paris was weeping.
The monarch against whom the Parisians had so bitterly fought they now
mourned as they would have done for their dearest friend.

The surgeons wanted to dress the king's wounds. Milon, the chief
physician, who sat weeping at the bedside, waved them aside. A faint
sigh died away on the king's lips. "It is all over," said Milon, sadly.
"He is gone."

What followed may be told in a few words. The old adage, "The king is
dead; long live the king!" was the thought of practical men of affairs.
Sully, whom the news of the assassination had raised in haste from his
sick-bed, put himself quickly at the head of some forty horse and rode
towards the palace. Guise and Bassompierre had come to the door, to see
what was passing outside, as he rode up.

"Gentlemen," he said to them, with tearful eyes, "if the service you
vowed to the king be impressed upon your souls as deeply as it ought to
be with all good Frenchmen, swear this moment to keep towards the king's
son and heir the same allegiance that you showed him, and to spend your
lives and your blood in avenging his death."

"Sir," answered Bassompierre, "it is for us to cause this oath to be
taken by others; we have no need to be exhorted thereto."

Leaving them, Sully rode to the Bastille, which he took possession of,
and sent out soldiers to seize and carry off all the bread that could be
found in the market and at the shops of the bakers. He despatched a
messenger also, in the greatest haste, to his son-in-law, M. de Rohan,
then in command of a force of six thousand Swiss, bidding him to march
with all speed upon Paris.

Henry IV. was dead. His son was his legitimate successor. But the murder
of Henry III. had been followed by a contest for the throne. That of
Henry IV. might be. Sully felt it necessary to take precautions,
although the king was hardly cold in death. The king dies; the kingship
survives; prudent men, on whom the peace of a people depend, prepare
without delay; the Duke de Sully was such a man. His precautions,
however, were not needed. No one thought of opposing the heirship of the
king's son.


In a richly-furnished state apartment of the royal palace of the
Luxembourg, on a day in November, 1630, stood Louis XIII., king of
France, tapping nervously with his fingers on the window-pane, and with
a disturbed and irresolute look upon his face. Beside him was his
favorite, St. Simon, a showily-dressed and handsome gentleman of the

"What do you think of all this?" asked the king, his fingers keeping up
their idle drumming on the glass.

"Sir, I seem to be in another world," was the politic reply. "But at any
rate you are master."

"I am," said the king, proudly, "and I will make it felt, too."

The royal prisoner was stirring uneasily in the bonds which hard
necessity had cast round his will. It was against Cardinal Richelieu
that his testy remark was made, yet in the very speaking he could not
but feel that to lose Richelieu was to lose the bulwark of his throne;
that this imperious master, against whose rule he chafed, was the glory
and the support of his reign.

Just now, however, the relations between king and cardinal were sadly
strained. Mary de' Medici, the king's mother, once Richelieu's ardent
friend, was now his active foe. The queen, Anne of Austria, was equally
hostile. Their influence had been used to its utmost to poison the mind
of the monarch against his minister, and seemingly with success. To all
appearance it looked as if the great cardinal was near his fall.

Rumor of what was afloat had invaded the court. Everywhere were secret
whisperings, knowing looks, expectant movements. The courtiers were
flocking to the Luxembourg, in hopes of some advantage to themselves.
Marillac, the keeper of the seals, was at his country house at Glatigny,
very near Versailles, where the king was expected. He remained there in
hopes that Louis would send for him and put the power of the disgraced
cardinal into his hands. The colossus seemed about to fall. All waited

The conspiracy of the queen-mother had gone farther than to use her
personal influence with her son against the cardinal. There were others
in league with her, particularly Marillac, the keeper of the seals, and
Marshal Marillac, his brother, then in command of a large force in
Piedmont. All had been carefully prepared against the fall of the
minister. The astute conspirators had fully laid their plans as to what
was to follow.

Unfortunately for them, they did not reckon with the two principal
parties concerned, Louis XIII. and Cardinal Richelieu. With all his
weaknesses of temper and mind, the king had intellect enough to know
what were the great interests of his kingdom and power, and on whose
shoulders they rested. Above all the littleness of a court cabal he
could not but discern the great questions which impended, and with which
he felt quite incompetent to deal. And he could perceive but one man in
his kingdom able to handle these great problems of state.

As for Richelieu, he was by no means blind to what was going on around
him. He was the last man in the world to be a dupe. Delaying until the
time seemed ripe to move, he requested and obtained an interview with
the king. They were a long time closeted, while all the courtier-world
of Paris waited in expectation and suspense.

What passed in that private cabinet of the palace no one knew, but when
the interview was over it quickly became evident that the queen-mother
and her associates had lost, the cardinal had won. Michael de Marillac
had hopeful dreams that night, as he slept in his house at Glatigny; but
when he awoke in the morning it was to receive the disturbing news that
the king and the cardinal were at Versailles together, the minister
being lodged in a room under that of the monarch. Quickly came still
more disturbing news. The king demanded a return of the seals. Before
this tidings could be well digested, the frightened plotter learned that
his own arrest had been ordered, and that the exons were already at his
door to secure his person.

While the courtier conspirator was being thus attended to, the soldier,
his brother, was not forgotten. A courier had been despatched to the
headquarters of the army in Piedmont, bearing a letter to Marshal
Schomberg, who, with Marshals La Force and Marillac, had formed there a
junction of the forces under their control. Marillac was in command on
the day of the courier's arrival, and was impatiently awaiting the news,
for which he had been prepared by his brother, of the cardinal's

Schomberg opened his despatches. The first words he saw, in the king's
own handwriting, were these:

"My dear cousin, you will not fail to arrest Marshal Marillac; it is for
the good of my service and for your own exculpation."

Schomberg looked at the document with startled eyes. What could this
mean? And was it safe to attempt an arrest? A large section of the
troops were devoted to Marillac. He consulted with La Force, who advised
him to obey orders, whatever the consequences. Schomberg thereupon
showed Marillac the despatch. He beheld it with surprise and alarm, but
without thought of resistance.

"I can protest that I have done nothing contrary to the king's service,"
he said. "The truth is, that my brother, the keeper of the seals, and I
have always been the servants of the queen-mother. She must have had the
worst of it, and Cardinal Richelieu has won the day against her and her

So it proved, indeed, and he was to suffer for it. He was tried,--not on
any political charge, however, the crimes alleged against him were
peculation and extortion, common practices with many of his

"It is a very strange thing," said he, bitterly, "to prosecute me as
they do; my trial is a mere question of hay, straw, wood, stones, and
lime; there is not case enough for whipping a lackey."

He was mistaken; there was case enough for beheading a marshal. It was
not a question of peculation, but of offending the great cardinal, for
which he was really put on trial, and the case ended in his being found
guilty of malfeasance in office and executed. His brother died in prison
three months afterwards,--of decline, so the records say.

"Dupes' Day," as the day we have described came to be called, was over.
The queen-mother had lost. Her dupes had suffered. Richelieu was more
powerful than ever. She had but strengthened his ascendancy over the
king. But Mary de' Medici was not the woman to acknowledge defeat
easily. No sooner had her first effort failed than her enmity against
the too-powerful minister showed itself in a new direction, the
principal agent of her purposes being now her son, the Duke of Orleans,
brother to the king. The duke, after an angry interview with the
cardinal, left Paris in haste for Orleans, his mother declaring to the
king that the occasion of his sudden departure was that he could no
longer tolerate by his presence Richelieu's violent proceedings against
herself. She professed to have been taken by surprise by his departure,
which Louis doubting, "she took occasion to belch forth fire and flames
against the cardinal, and made a fresh attempt to ruin him in the king's
estimation, though she had previously bound herself by oath to take no
more steps against him."

Her malignity defeated itself. Richelieu was too skilful an adept in the
game of politics to be so easily beaten. He brought the affair before
the council, seemingly utterly indifferent what might be done; the
trouble might be ended, he suggested, by his own retirement or that of
the queen-mother, whichever in their wisdom they might deem best.

The implied threat settled the matter. The king, alarmed at the idea of
having the government of France left on his weak hands, at once gave the
offending lady to understand that she had better retire for a time to
one of his provincial palaces, recommending Moulins. Mary de' Medici
heard this order with fiery indignation. She shut herself up in the
castle of Compiègne, where she then was, and declared that she would not
leave unless dragged out by main force. In the end, however, she changed
her mind, fled by night from the castle, and made her way to Brussels,
where she took refuge from her powerful foe. Richelieu's game was won.
Mary de' Medici had lost all influence with her son. She was never to
see him again.

A number of years passed before a new plot was hatched against the
cardinal. Then a conspiracy was organized which threatened not only his
power but his life. It was in 1636. The king's headquarters were then
at the castle of Demuin. The Duke of Orleans, who had been recently in
armed rebellion against the king, and had been pardoned for his treason,
determined, in common with the Count of Soissons, that their enemy, the
cardinal, should die. There were others in this plot of assassination,
two of the duke's gentlemen, Montrésor and Saint Ibal, being chosen to
deal the fatal blow. They were to station themselves at the foot of the
grand stairway, meet Richelieu at his exit from the council, and strike
him dead. The duke was to give the signal for the murderous assault.

The door of the council chamber opened. The king and the cardinal came
out together and descended the stairs in company, Richelieu attending
Louis until he had reached the foot of the stairway, and gone into an
adjoining room. The cardinal turned to ascend again, without a moment's
suspicion that the two gentlemen at the stair-foot clutched hidden
daggers in their hands, ready, at a signal from the duke, who stood near
by, to plunge them in his breast.

The signal did not come. At the last moment the courage of Gaston of
Orleans failed him. Whether from something in Richelieu's earnest and
dignified aspect, or some sudden fear of serious consequences to
himself, the chief conspirator turned hastily away, without speaking the
fatal word agreed upon. What the duke feared to do, the count dared not
do. The two chosen assassins stood expectant, greeting the cardinal as
he passed, and waiting in nervous impatience for the promised signal.
It failed to come. Their daggers remained undrawn. Richelieu calmly
ascended the stairs to his rooms, without a dream of the deadly peril he
had run.

The conspiracy against the cardinal which has attained the greatest
historical notoriety is that associated with the name of Cinq-Mars, the
famous favorite of Louis XIII. Brilliant and witty, a true type of the
courtiers of the time, this handsome youth so amused and interested the
king that, when he was only nineteen years of age, Louis made him master
of the wardrobe and grand equerry of France. M. Le Grand he was called,
and grand enough he seemed, in his independent and capricious dealings
with the king. Louis went so far as to complain to Richelieu of the
humors of his youthful favorite.

"I am very sorry," he wrote, under date of January 4, 1641, "to trouble
you about the ill-tempers of M. Le Grand. I upbraided him with his
heedlessness; he answered that for that matter he could not change, and
that he should do no better than he had done. I said that, considering
his obligations to me, he ought not to address me in that manner. He
answered in his usual way; that he didn't want my kindness, that he
could do very well without it, and that he would be quite as well
content to be Cinq-Mars as M. Le Grand, but as for changing his ways and
his life, he couldn't do it. And so, he continually nagging at me and I
at him, we came as far as the court-yard, where I said to him that,
being in the temper he was in, he would do me the pleasure of not coming
to see me. I have not seen him since."

This letter yields a curious revelation of the secret history of a royal
court. There have been few kings with whom such impudent independence
would have served. Louis XIII. was one of them. Cinq-Mars seems to have
known his man. The quarrel was not of long continuance. Richelieu, who
had first placed the youth near the king, easily reconciled them, a
service which the foolish boy soon repaid by lending an ear to the
enemies of the cardinal. For this Richelieu was in a way responsible. He
had begun to find the constant attendance of the favorite upon the king
troublesome to himself, and gave him plainly to understand so. "One day
he sent word to him not to be for the future so continually at his
heels, and treated him even to his face with as much tartness and
imperiousnesss as if he had been the lowest of his valets." Such
treatment was not likely to be well received by one of the independent
disposition of Cinq-Mars. He joined in a plot against the cardinal.

The king was ill; the cardinal more so. Gaston, Duke of Orleans, was
again in Paris, and full of his old intriguing spirit. The Duke of
Bouillon was there also, having been sent for by the king to take
command of the army of Italy. He, too, was drawn into the plot which was
being woven against Richelieu. The queen, Anne of Austria, was another
of the conspirators. The plot thus organized was the deepest and most
far-reaching which had yet been laid against the all-powerful minister.

Bouillon was prince-sovereign of the town of Sedan. This place was to
serve the conspirators as an asylum in case of reverse. But a town was
not enough; an army was needed; whence should it come? Spain might
furnish it.

The affair was growing to the dimensions of a conspiracy against the
crown as well as the minister. Viscount de Fontrailles, a man who
detested the cardinal, and would not have hesitated to murder him as a
simpler way of disposing of the difficulty, was named by Cinq-Mars as a
proper person to deal with the Spaniards. He set out for Madrid, and
soon succeeded in negotiating a secret treaty, in the name of the Duke
of Orleans, by whose terms Spain was to furnish the conspirators with
twelve thousand foot, five thousand horse, and the necessary funds for
the enterprise. The town of Sedan, and the names of Cinq-Mars and
Bouillon, were not mentioned in this treaty, but were given in a
separate document.

While this dangerous work was going on the cardinal was dangerously ill,
a prey to violent fever, and with an abscess on his arm which prevented
him from writing. The king was with the army, which was besieging
Perpignan. With him was Cinq-Mars, who was doing his best to insinuate
suspicions of the minister into the mind of the king. All seemed
promising for the conspirators, the illness of the cardinal, in their
opinion, being likely to carry him off in no long period, and meanwhile
preventing him from discovering the plot and setting himself right with
the king.

Evidently these hopeful people did not know the resources of Cardinal
Richelieu. In all his severe illness his eyes had not been blind, his
intellect not at rest. Keen as they thought themselves, they had a man
with double their resources to deal with. Though Richelieu was by no
means surrounded by the intricate web of spies and intrigues with which
fiction and the drama have credited him, he was not without his secret
agents, and his means of tracing the most hidden movements of his
enemies. Cinq-Mars lacked the caution necessary for a conspirator. His
purposes became evident to the king, who had no thought of exchanging
his great minister for a frivolous boy who was only fitted to amuse his
hours of relaxation. The outcome of the affair appears in a piece of
news published in the _Gazette de France_ on June 21, 1642.

"The cardinal-duke," it said, "after remaining two days at Arles,
embarked on the 11th of this month for Tarascon, his health becoming
better and better. The king has ordered under arrest Marquis de
Cinq-Mars, grand equerry of France."

Had a thunderbolt fallen in their midst, the enemies of Richelieu could
not have been in greater consternation than at this simple item of news.
How came it about? The fox was not asleep. Nor had his illness robbed
his hand and his brain of their cunning. The king, overladen with
affairs of state from which his minister when well had usually relieved
him, sent a message of confidence to Richelieu, indicating that his
enemies would seek in vain to separate them. In reply the cardinal sent
the king a document which filled the monarch with an astonishment that
was only equalled by his wrath. It was a copy of the secret treaty of
Orleans with Spain!

The king could hardly believe his eyes. So this was what lay behind the
insinuations of Cinq-Mars? An insurrection was projected against the
state! The cardinal, mayhap the king himself, was to be overthrown by
force of arms! Only the sleepless vigilance of Richelieu could have
discovered and exposed this perilous plot. It remained for the king to
second the work of his minister by decisive action. An order was at once
issued for the arrest of Cinq-Mars and his intimate friend, M. de Thou;
while a messenger was sent off in all haste to the army of Italy,
bearing orders for the arrest of the Duke of Bouillon at the head of his

Fontrailles, just arrived from his mission to Spain, returned to that
kingdom with all haste, having first said to Cinq-Mars, "Sir, you are a
fine figure; if you were shorter by the whole head you would not cease
to be very tall. As for me, who am already very short, nothing could be
taken off me without inconveniencing me and making me cut the poorest
figure in the world. You will be good enough, if you please, to let me
get out of the way of edge tools."

The minor parties to the conspiracy, with the exception of the prudent
Fontrailles, were in custody. The most guilty of all, the king's
brother, was at large. What part was he to play in the drama of
retribution? Flight, or treachery to his accomplices, alone remained to
him. He chose the latter, sending an agent to the king, who had just
joined the cardinal at Tarascon, with directions to confess everything
and implore for him the pardon of his royal brother. The cardinal
questioned this agent, the Abbé de la Rivière, with unrelenting
severity, made him write and sign everything, and was inclined to make
the prince-duke appear as a witness at the trial, and yield up his
accomplices in the face of the world. This final disgrace, however, was
omitted at the wish of Louis, and an order of exile was sent from the
king to his brother, which bore this note in the cardinal's hand,--

"Monsieur will have in his place of exile twelve thousand crowns a
month, the same sum that the king of Spain had promised to give him."

The dying cardinal had triumphed over all his foes. He had, from his bed
at Tarascon, dictated to the king the course to be pursued, entailing
dishonor to the Duke of Orleans and death to the grand equerry of
France. The king then took his way back to Fontainebleau in the litter
of the cardinal, which the latter had lent him. Richelieu did not
remain long behind him. He was conveyed to his house in Lyons in a
litter shaped like a square chamber, covered with red damask, and borne
on the shoulders of eighteen guards. Within, beside his couch, was a
table covered with papers, at which he worked with his ordinary
diligence, chatting pleasantly at intervals with such of his servants as
accompanied him. In the same equipage he left Lyons for the Loire, on
his return to Paris. On the way it was necessary to pull down walls and
bridge ditches that this great litter, in which the greatest man in
France lay in mortal illness, might pass.

What followed needs few words. The Duke of Bouillon confessed
everything, and was pardoned on condition of his delivering up Sedan to
the king. He was kept in prison, however, till after the death of his
accomplices, Cinq-Mars and De Thou, who were tried and sentenced to

Bouillon had not long to wait. The execution took place on the very day
on which sentence had been pronounced. The two culprits met death
firmly. Cinq-Mars was but twenty-two years of age. He had rapidly run
his course. "Now that I make not a single step which does not lead me to
death, I am more capable than anybody else of estimating the value of
the things of the world," he wrote. "Enough of this world; away to
Paradise!" said De Thou, as he walked to the scaffold.

There were no more conspiracies against Richelieu. There was no time for
them, for in less than three months afterwards he was dead. The
greatest, or at least the most dramatic, minister known to the pages of
history had departed from this world. His royal master did not long
survive him. In five months afterwards, Louis XIII. had followed his
minister to the grave.


In the streets of Paris all was tumult and fiery indignation. Never had
there been a more sudden or violent outbreak. The whole city seemed to
have turned into the streets. Not until the era of the Revolution, a
century and a half later, was the capital of France again to see such an
uprising of the people against the court. Broussel had been arrested,
Councillor Broussel, a favorite of the populace, who sustained him in
his opposition to the court party, and at once the city was ablaze; for
the first time in the history of France had the people risen in support
of their representatives.

It was by no means the first time that royalty had ended its disputes
with the Parliament in this summary manner. Four years previously, Anne
of Austria, the queen-regent, had done the same thing, and scarce a
voice had been raised in protest. But in the ensuing four years public
opinion had changed. The king, Louis XIV., was but ten years old; his
mother, aided by her favorite minister, Cardinal Mazarin, ruled the
kingdom,--misruled it, as the people thought; the country was crushed
under its weight of taxes; the finances were in utter disorder; France
was successful abroad, but her successes had been dearly bought, and the
people groaned under the burden of their victories. Parliament made
itself the mouth-piece of the public discontent. It no longer felt upon
it the iron hand of Richelieu. Mazarin was able, but he was not a
master, and the Parliament began once more to claim that authority in
affairs of state from which it had been deposed by the great cardinal. A
conflict arose between the members and the court which soon led to acts
of open hostility.

An edict laying a tax upon all provisions which entered Paris irritated
the citizens, and the Parliament refused to register it. Other steps
towards independence were taken by the members. Gradually they resumed
their old rights, and the court party was forced to yield. But courage
returned to the queen-regent with the news that the army of France had
gained a great victory. No sooner had the tidings reached Paris than the
city was electrified by hearing that President Brancmesnil and
Councillor Broussel had been arrested.

It was the arrest of Broussel that stirred the popular heart. Mazarin
and the queen had made the dangerous mistake of not taking into account
the state of the public mind. "There was a blaze at once, a sensation, a
rush, an outcry, and a shutting up of shops." The excitement of the
people was intense. Moment by moment the tumult grew greater. "Broussel!
Broussel!" they shouted. That perilous populace had arisen which was
afterwards to show what frightful deeds it could do under the impulse of
oppression and misgovernment.

Paul de Gondi, afterwards known as Cardinal de Retz, then coadjutor of
the Archbishop of Paris, and the leading spirit with the populace,
hurried to the palace, accompanied by Marshal de la Meilleraie.

"The city is in a frightful state," they told the queen. "The people are
furious and may soon grow unmanageable. The air is full of revolt."

Anne of Austria listened to them with set lips and angry eyes.

"There is revolt in imagining there can be revolt," she sternly replied.
"These are the ridiculous stories of those who favor trouble; the king's
authority will soon restore order."

M. de Guitant, an old courtier, who entered as she was speaking,
declared that the coadjutor had barely represented the facts, and said
that he did not see how anybody could sleep with things in such a state.

"Well, M. de Guitant, and what is your advice?" asked De Retz.

"My advice is to give up that old rascal of a Broussel, dead or alive."

"To give him up dead," said the coadjutor, "would not accord with either
the piety or the prudence of the queen; to yield him alive might quiet
the people."

The queen turned to him a face hot with anger, and exclaimed,--

"I understand you, Mr. Coadjutor; you would have me set Broussel at
liberty. I would strangle him with these hands first!" As she finished
these words she put her hands close to the coadjutor's face, and added,
in a threatening tone, "And those who--" Her voice ceased; he was left
to infer the rest.

Yet, despite this infatuation of the queen, it was evident that
something must be done, if Paris was to be saved. The people grew more
tumultuous. Fresh tidings continued to come in, each more threatening
than the last. The queen at length yielded so far as to promise that
Broussel should be set free if the people would first disperse and cease
their tumultuous behavior.

The coadjutor was bidden to proclaim this in the streets. He asked for
an order to sustain him, but the queen refused to give it, and withdrew
"to her little gray room," angry at herself for yielding so far as she

De Retz did not find the situation a very pleasant one for himself.
Mazarin pushed him gently towards the door, saying, "Restore the peace
of the realm." Marshal Meilleraie drew him onward. He went into the
street, wearing his robe of office, and bestowing benedictions right and
left, though while doing so his mind was busy in considering how he was
going to get out of the difficulty which lay before him.

It grew worse instead of better. Marshal Meilleraie, losing his head
through excitement, advanced waving his sword in the air, and shouting
at the top of his voice,--

"Hurrah for the king! Liberation for Broussel!"

This did very well for those within hearing; but his sword provoked far
more than his voice quieted; those at a distance looked on his action as
a menace, and their fury was augmented. On all sides there was a rush
for arms. Stones were flung by the rioters, one of which struck De Retz
and felled him to the earth. As he picked himself up an excited youth
rushed at him and put a musket to his head. Only the wit and readiness
of the coadjutor saved him from imminent peril.

"Though I did not know him a bit," says De Retz, in his "Memoirs," "I
thought it would not be well to let him suppose so at such a moment; on
the contrary, I said to him, 'Ah, wretch, if thy father saw thee!' He
thought I was the best friend of his father, on whom, however, I had
never set eyes."

The fellow withdrew, ashamed of his violence, and before any further
attack could be made upon De Retz he was recognized by the people and
dragged to the market-place, constantly crying out as he went, "The
queen has promised to restore Broussel."

The good news by this time had spread through the multitude, whose cries
of anger were giving place to shouts of joy. Their arms were hastily
disposed of, and a great throng, thirty or forty thousand in number,
followed the coadjutor to the Palais-Royal. When he entered, Marshal
Meilleraie turned to the queen and said,--

"Madame, here is he to whom I owe my life, and your Majesty the safety
of the Palais-Royal."

The queen's answer was an incredulous smile. On seeing it, the hasty
temper of the marshal broke out in an oath.

"Madame," he said, hotly, "no proper man can venture to flatter you in
the state in which things are; and if you do not this very day set
Broussel at liberty, to-morrow there will not be left one stone upon
another in Paris."

Anne of Austria, carried away by her pride and superciliousness, could
not be brought to believe that the populace would dare attempt an actual
revolt against the king. De Retz would have spoken in support of the
marshal's words, but she cut him short, saying in a tone of mockery,--

"Go and rest yourself, sir; you have worked very hard."

He left the palace in a rage. It was increased when word was brought to
him that he had been ridiculed at the supper-table of the queen. She had
gone so far as to blame him for increasing the tumult, and threatened to
make an example of him and to interdict the Parliament. In short, the
exercise of power had made the woman mad. De Retz reflected. If the
queen designed to punish him, she should have something to punish him
for. He was not the man to be made a cat's-paw of.

"We are not in such bad case as you suppose, gentlemen," he said to his
friends. "There is an intention of crushing the public; it is for me to
defend it from oppression; to-morrow before mid-day I shall be master of

Anne of Austria had made an enemy of one who had been her strong friend,
a bold and restless man, capable of great deeds. He had long taken pains
to make himself popular in Paris. During that night he and his
emissaries worked in secret upon the people. Early the next day the mob
was out again, arms in hand, and ripe for mischief. The chancellor, on
his way to the Palace of Justice, suddenly found his carriage surrounded
by these rioters. He hastily sought refuge in the Hôtel de Luynes. The
mob followed him, pillaging as they went, destroying the furniture,
seeking the fugitive. He had taken refuge in a small chamber, where,
thinking that his last hour had come, he knelt in confession before his
brother, the Bishop of Meaux. Fortunately for him the rioters failed to
discover him, and were led away by another fancy.

"It was like a sudden and violent conflagration lighted up from the Pont
Neuf over the whole city," says De Retz. "Everybody without exception
took up arms. Children of five and six years of age were seen dagger in
hand, and the mothers themselves carried them. In less than two hours
there were in Paris more than two hundred barricades, bordered with
flags and all the arms that the League had left entire. Everybody cried
'Hurrah, for the king!' but echo answered, 'None of your Mazarin!'"

It was an incipient revolution, but it was the minister and the regent,
not the king, against whom the people had risen, its object being the
support of the Parliament of Paris, not the States General of the
kingdom. France was not yet ready for the radical work reserved for a
later day. The turbulent Parisians were in the street, arms in hand, but
they had not yet lost the sentiment of loyalty to the king. A century
and a half more of misrule were needed to complete this transformation
in the national idea.

While all this was going on, the coadjutor, the soul of the outbreak,
kept at home, vowing that he was powerless to control the people. At an
early hour the Parliament assembled at the Palace of Justice, but its
deliberations were interrupted by shouts of "Broussel! Broussel!" from
the immense multitude which filled every adjoining avenue. Only the
release of the arrested members could appease the mob. The Parliament
determined to go in a body and demand this of the queen.

Their journey was an eventful one. Paris was in insurrection. Everywhere
they found the people in arms, while barricades were thrown up at every
hundred paces. Through the shouting and howling mob they made their way
to the queen's palace, the ushers in front, with their square caps, the
members following in their robes, at their head M. Molé, their premier

The conference with the queen was a passionate one. M. Molé spoke for
the Parliament, representing to the queen the extreme danger Paris was
in, the peril to all France, unless the prisoners were released and the
sedition allayed. He spoke to a woman "who feared nothing because she
knew but little," and who was just then controlled by pride and passion
instead of reason.

"I am quite aware that there is a disturbance in the city," she
answered, furiously; "but you shall answer to me for it, gentlemen of
the Parliament, you, your wives, and your children."

With further threats that the king would remember the cause of these
evils, when he reached his majority, the incensed woman flouted from the
chamber of audience, slamming the door violently behind her. To deal
with her, in her present mood, was evidently impracticable. The members
left the palace to return. They quickly found themselves surrounded by
an angry mob, furious at their non-success, disposed to hold them
responsible for the failure. On their arrival at the Rue St. Honoré,
just as they were about to turn on to the Pont Neuf, a band of about two
hundred men advanced threateningly upon them, headed by a cook-shop lad,
armed with a halberd, which he thrust against M. Molé's body, crying,--

"Turn, traitor, and if thou wouldst not thyself be slain, give up to us
Broussel, or Mazarin and the chancellor as hostages."

Molé quietly put the weapon aside.

"You forget yourself," he said, with calm dignity, "and are oblivious of
the respect you owe to my office."

The mob, however, was past the point of paying respect to dignitaries.
They hustled the members, threatened the president with swords and
pistols, and several times tried to drag him into a private house. But
he resisted, and was aided by members and friends who surrounded him.
Slowly the parliamentary body made its way back to the Palais-Royal,
whither they had resolved to return, M. Molé preserving his dignity of
mien and movement, despite the "running fire of insults, threats,
execrations, and blasphemies," that arose from every side. They reached
the palace, at length, in diminished numbers, many of the members having
dropped out of the procession.

The whole court was assembled in the gallery. Molé spoke first. He was a
man of great natural eloquence, who was at his best as an orator when
surrounded by peril, and he depicted the situation so graphically that
all present, except the queen, were in terror. "Monsieur made as if he
would throw himself upon his knees before the queen, who remained
inflexible," says De Retz; "four or five princesses, who were trembling
with fear, did throw themselves at her feet; the queen of England, who
had come that day from St. Germain, represented that the troubles had
never been so serious at their commencement in England, nor the feelings
so heated or united."

Paris, in short, was on the eve of a revolution, and the queen could not
be made to see it. Cardinal Mazarin, who was present, and who had been
severely dealt with in the speeches, some of the orators telling him, in
mockery, that if he would only go as far as the Pont Neuf he would learn
for himself how things were, now joined the others in entreating Anne of
Austria to give way. She did so at length, consenting to the release of
Broussel, though "not without a deep sigh, which showed what violence
she did her feelings in the struggle."

It is an interesting spectacle to see this woman, moved by sheer pride
and obstinacy, conjoined with ignorance of the actual situation, seeking
to set her single will against that of a city in revolt, and endangering
the very existence of the monarchy by her sheer lack of reason. Her
consent, for the time being, settled the difficulty, though the passions
which had been aroused were not easily to be set at rest. Broussel was
released and took his seat again in the Parliament, and the people
returned to their homes, satisfied, for the time, with their victory
over the queen and the cardinal.

In truth, a contest had arisen which was yet to yield important
consequences. The Prince of Condé had arrived in Paris during these
events. He had the prestige of a successful general; he did not like the
cardinal, and he looked on the Parliament as imprudent and insolent.

"If I should join hands with them," he said to De Retz, "it might be
best for my interests, but my name is Louis de Bourbon, and I do not
wish to shake the throne. These devils of square-caps, are they mad
about bringing me either to commence a civil war, or to put a rope
round their own necks? I will let them see that they are not the
potentates they think themselves, and that they may easily be brought to

"The cardinal may possibly be mistaken in his measures," answered De
Retz. "He will find Paris a hard nut to crack."

"It will not be taken, like Dunkerque, by mining and assaults," retorted
the prince, angrily; "but if the bread of Gonesse were to fail them for
a week--" He left the coadjutor to imagine the consequences.

The contest continued. In January, 1649, the queen, the boy king, and
the whole court set out by night for the castle of St. Germain. It was
unfurnished, with scarcely a bundle of straw to lie upon, but the queen
could not have been more gay "had she won a battle, taken Paris, and had
all who had displeased her hanged, and nevertheless she was very far
from all that."

Far enough, indeed. Paris was in the hands of her enemies, who were as
gay as the queen. On the 8th of January the Parliament of Paris decreed
Cardinal Mazarin an enemy to the king and the state, and bade all
subjects of the king to hunt him down. War was declared against the
queen regent and her favorite, the cardinal. Had it been the
States-General in place of the Parliament, the French Revolution might
have then and there begun.

Many of the greatest lords joined the side of the people. Troops were
levied in the city, their command being offered to the Prince of Conti.
The Parliaments of Aix and Rouen voted to support that of Paris. It was
decreed that all the royal funds, in the exchequers of the kingdom,
should be seized and used for the defence of the people. All was
festivity in the city. The versatile people seemed to imagine that to
declare war was to decree victory. There was dancing everywhere within
the walls. There was the rumble of war without. The Prince of Condé, at
the head of the king's troops, had taken the post of Charentin from the
Frondeurs, as the malcontents called themselves, and had carried out his
threat of checking the flow of bread to the city. The gay Parisians were
beginning to feel the inconvenience of hunger.

What followed is too long a story to be told here, except in bare
epitome. A truce was patched up between the contending parties. Bread
flowed again into Paris. The seared and hungry people grew courageous
and violent again when their appetites were satisfied. When M. Molé and
his fellows returned to Paris with a treaty of peace which they had
signed, the populace gathered round them in fury.

"None of your peace! None of your Mazarin!" they angrily shouted. "We
must go to St. Germain to seek our good king! We must fling into the
river all the Mazarins."

One of them laid his hand threateningly on President Molé's arm. The
latter looked him in the face calmly.

"When you have killed me," he said, quietly, "I shall only need six feet
of earth."

"You can get back to your house secretly by way of the record offices,"
whispered one of his companions.

"The court never hides itself," he composedly replied. "If I were
certain to perish, I would not commit this poltroonery, which, moreover,
would but give courage to the rioters. They would seek me in my house if
they thought I shrank from them here."

M. Molé was a man of courage. To face a mob is at times more dangerous
than to face an army.

Paris was in disorder. The agitation was spreading all over France. But
the army was faithful to the king, and without it the Fronde was
powerless. The outbreak had ended in a treaty of peace and amnesty in
which the Parliament had in a measure won, as it had preserved all its
rights and privileges.

It was to be a short peace. Condé, elated by having beaten the Fronde,
claimed a lion's share in the government. His brother, the Prince of
Conti, and his sister, the Duchess of Longueville, joined him in these
pretensions. The affair ended in a bold step on the part of Mazarin and
the queen. The two princes and M. de Longueville were arrested and
conveyed to the castle of Vincennes, while the princesses were ordered
to retire to their estates, and the Duchess of Longueville, fearing
arrest, fled in haste to Normandy.

For the present the star of the cardinal was in the ascendant. But his
master-stroke set war on foot again. The Parliament of Paris supported
the princes. Their partisans rallied. Bordeaux broke into insurrection.
Elsewhere hot blood declared itself. The Duke of Orleans joined the
party of the prisoners. The Parliament enjoined all the officers of the
crown to obey none but the duke, the lieutenant-general of the kingdom.
On the night of February 6, 1651, Mazarin set out again for St. Germain.
Paris had become far too hot to hold him.

The tidings of his flight brought the people into the streets again. The
Duke of Orleans informed Cardinal de Retz that the queen proposed to
follow her flying minister, with the boy king.

"What is to be done?" he asked, somewhat helplessly. "It is a bad
business; but how are we to stop it?"

"How?" cried the more practical De Retz; "why, by shutting the gates of
Paris, to begin with. The king must not go."

Within an hour the emissaries of the ready coadjutor were rousing up the
people right and left with the tidings of the projected flight of the
queen with her son. Soon the city swarmed again with armed and angry
men, the gates were seized, mounted guards patrolled the streets, the
crowd surged towards the Palais-Royal.

Within the palace all was alarm and confusion. Anne of Austria had
indeed been on the point of flight. Her son was in his travelling-dress.
But the people were at the door, clamoring to see the king, threatening
dire consequences if the doors were not opened to them. They could not
long be kept out; some immediate action must be taken. The boy's
travelling-attire was quickly replaced by his night dress, and he was
laid in bed, his mother cautioning him to lie quiet and feign sleep.

"The king! we must see the king!" came the vociferous cry from the
street. "Open! the people demand to see their king."

The doors were forced; the mob was in the palace; clamor and tumult
reigned below the royal chambers. The queen sent word to the people that
the king was asleep in his bed. They might enter and see him if they
would promise to tread softly and keep strict silence. This message at
once stopped the tumult; the noise subsided; the people began to file
into the room, stepping as noiselessly as though shod with down, gazing
with awed eyes on the seemingly sleeping face of the boy king.

The queen stood at the pillow of her son, a graceful and beautiful
woman, her outstretched arm holding back the heavy folds of the drapery,
her face schooled to quiet repose. Louis lay with closed eyes and
regular breathing, playing his part well. For hours a stream of the men
and women of Paris flowed through the chamber, moving in reverential
silence, gazing on the boy's face as on a sacred treasure of their own.
Till three o'clock in the morning the movement continued, the queen
standing all this time like a beautiful statue, her son still feigning
slumber. It was a scene of remarkable and picturesque character.

That night of strain and excitement passed. The king was with them
still, of that the people were assured; he must remain with them, there
must be an end of midnight flights. The patrol was kept up, the gates
watched, the king was a prisoner in the hands of the Parisians.

"The king, our master, is a captive," said M. Molé, voicing to the
Parliament the queen's complaint.

"He _was_ a captive, in the hands of Mazarin," replied the Duke of
Orleans; "but, thank God, he is so no longer."

The people had won. Mazarin was beaten. He hastened to La Havre, where
the princes were then confined, and set them at liberty himself. His
power in France, for the time, was at an end. He made his way to the
frontier, which he crossed on the 12th of March. He was just in time:
the Parliament of Paris had issued orders for his arrest, wherever found
in France.

We must end here, with this closing of the contest between Mazarin and
the Fronde. History goes on to tell that the contest was reopened,
Mazarin returned, there was battle in Paris, the Fronde failed, and
Mazarin died in office.

The popular outbreak here briefly chronicled is of interest from the
fact that it immediately followed the success of the insurrection in
England and the execution of Charles I. The provocation was the same in
the two nations; the result highly different. In both cases it was a
revolt against the tyranny of the court and the attempt to establish
absolutism. But the difference in results lay in the fact that England
had a single parliament, composed of politicians, while France had ten
parliaments, composed of magistrates, and unaccustomed to handle great
questions of public policy. Richelieu had taken from the civic
parliaments of France what little power they possessed, and they were
but shadowy prototypes of the English representative assembly. "Without
any unity of action or aim, and by turns excited and dismayed by the
examples that came to them from England, the Frondeurs had to guide them
no Hampden or Cromwell; they had at their backs neither people nor army;
the English had been able to accomplish a revolution; the Fronde failed
before the dexterous prudence of Mazarin and the queen's fidelity to her

There lay before France a century and a half of autocratic rule and
popular suffering; then was to come the convening of the States-General,
the rise of the people, and the final downfall of absolute royalty and
feudal privileges in the red tide of the Revolution.


The grounds of the Château de Chantilly, that charming retreat of the
Prince de Condé, shone with all the splendor which artistic adornments,
gleaming lanterns of varied form and color, splendidly-costumed dames
and richly-attired cavaliers could give them, the whole scene having a
fairy-like beauty and richness wonderfully pleasing to the eye. For more
than a mile from the entrance to the grounds men holding lighted torches
bordered the road, while in all the villages leading thither the
peasants were out in their gala attire, and triumphal arches of verdure
were erected in honor of the king, Louis XIV., who was on his way
thither to visit Monsieur le Prince.

He was coming, the great Louis, the Grand Monarque of France, and noble
and peasant alike were out to bid him welcome, while the artistic skill
of the day had exhausted itself in efforts to provide him a splendid
reception. And now there could be heard on the road the trampling of
horses, the clanking of swords, the voices of approaching men, and a
gallant cavalcade wheeled at length into the grounds, announcing that
the king was close at hand. A few minutes of anxious expectation passed,
and then the king, attended by a large group of courtiers, came
sweeping grandly forward, while at the same moment a gleaming display of
fireworks, at the end of the avenue, blazed off in fiery greeting. As
the coruscating lights faded out Condé met the king in his coach, which
he invited him to enter, and off they drove to the château, followed by
a shining swarm of grand dames and great lords who had gathered to this
fête from all parts of France.

Within the château as much had been done as without to render honor to
the occasion. Hundreds of retainers lined chamber and hall in splendid
attire, their only duty being to add life and richness to the scene. The
rooms were luxuriously furnished, the banqueting hall was a scene for a
painter, and the banquet a triumph of the art of the cuisine, for was it
not prepared by the genius of Vatel, the great Vatel, the most famous of
cooks ministering to the most showy of monarchs!

All went well; the king feasted on delicacies which were a triumph of
art; Louis was satisfied; Vatel triumphed; so far the fête was a
success. In the evening the king played at piquet, the cavaliers and
ladies promenaded through the splendidly-furnished and richly-lighted
saloons, some cracked jokes on sofas, some made love in alcoves, still
all went well.

For the next day the programme included a grand promenade _à la mode de
Versailles_, a collation in the park, under great trees laden with the
freshest verdure of spring, a stag-hunt by moonlight, a brilliant
display of fireworks, then a supper in the banqueting hall of the
château. And still all went well. At least all thought so but Vatel; but
as for that prince of cooks, he was in despair. A frightful disaster had
occurred. After the days and nights of anxiety and care in preparing for
this grand occasion, for a failure now to take place, it was to him
unpardonable, unsupportable.

Tidings of his distress were brought to Condé. The generous prince
sought his room to console him.

"Vatel," said he, "what is this I hear? The king's supper was superb."

"Monseigneur," said Vatel, tears in his eyes. "The _rôti_ was wanting at
two tables."

"Not at all," replied the prince. "You surpassed yourself; nothing could
have been better; everything was perfect."

Vatel, somewhat relieved by this praise, sought his couch, and a morsel
of sleep visited his eyelids. But the shadow of doom still hung over his
career. By break of day he was up again. Others might lie late abed, but
there could be no such indulgence for him; for was not he the power
behind the throne? What would this grand fête be should his genius fail,
his powers prove unequal to the strain? King and prince, lord and lady
might slumber, but Vatel must be up and alert.

Fresh fish formed an essential part of the menu which he had laid out
for the dining-tables of the third day. He had ordered them from every
part of the coast. Would they come? Could the fates fail him now, at
this critical moment of his life? The anxious chief went abroad to view
the situation. His eyes lighted. A fisher-boy had just arrived with two
loads of fish, fresh brought from the coast. Vatel looked at them, and
then gazed around with newly disturbed eyes.

"Is that all?" he asked, his voice faltering.

"That is all, sir," answered the boy, who knew nothing about the
numerous orders.

Vatel turned pale. All? These few fish all he had to offer his multitude
of guests? Only a miracle could divide these so as to give a portion to
each. He waited, despair slowly descending upon his heart. In vain his
anxious wait; no more fish appeared. Vatel's anxiety was fast becoming
despair. The disaster of the night before, to be followed by this
terrible stroke--it was more than his artistic soul could bear; disgrace
had come upon him in its direst form; his reputation was at stake.

He met Gourville, a wit and factotum of the court, and told him of his

"It is disgrace, ruin," he cried; "I cannot survive it."

Gourville heard him with merry laughter. To his light mind the affair
seemed only a good joke. It was not so to Vatel. He sought his room and
locked himself in.

He was too soon, alas, too soon; for now fish are coming; here, there,
everywhere; the orders have been strictly obeyed, there is abundance
for all purposes. The cooks receive them, and look for Vatel to give
orders for their disposal. He is not to be seen. "He went to his room,"
says Gourville. They repair thither, knock persistently, but in vain,
and finding that no answer can be obtained, they break open the door and

A frightful spectacle meets their eyes. On the floor before them lies
poor Vatel, in a pool of his own blood, pierced through the heart. In
his ecstasy of despair at the non-arrival of the fish, he had fastened
his sword in the door, and thrown himself upon its deadly point. Thrice
he had done so, twice wounding himself slightly, the third time piercing
himself through the heart. Poor fellow! he was dead, and the fish had
arrived. It was a useless sacrifice of his life to his art.

The tidings of the tragedy filled the château with alarm and dismay. The
prince was in despair, the more so as the king blamed him for the fatal
occurrence. He had long avoided Chantilly, he said, knowing that his
coming would occasion inconvenience, since his host would insist on
providing for the whole of his suite. There should have been but two
tables, and there were more than twenty-five; the strain on poor Vatel
was the cause of his death and the loss of one of the ornaments of the
reign. He would never allow such extravagance again. Men like Vatel were
not to be so lightly sacrificed.

While the king thus petulantly scolded his great subject in the
time-honored "I told you so" fashion, the whole château buzzed with
opinions about the tragic event. "Vatel has played the hero," said some;
"He has played the idiot," said others. Some praised his courage and
devotion to his art; others blamed his haste and folly. But praise
prevailed over blame, for, as all conceded, "he had died for the honor
of his profession," and no soldier or martyr could do more.

But Vatel was gone, and dinner was not served. The dead was dead, but
appetite remained. What was to be done? Gourville sprang into the breach
and undertook to replace Vatel. The fish were cooked, the company dined,
then they promenaded, then they played piquet, losing and winning
largely, then they supped, then they enjoyed a moonlight chase of the
deer in the park of Chantilly. Mirth and gayety prevailed, and before
bedtime came poor Vatel was forgotten. The cook who had died for his art
was as far from their thoughts as the martyrs of centuries before.

Early the next day the king and his train departed, leaving Condé to
count the cost of the entertainment, which had been so great as to make
him agree with Louis, that hereafter two tables would be better than
twenty-five. Doubtless among his chief losses he counted Vatel. Money
could be found again, waste repaired, but a genius of the kitchen the
equal of Vatel was not to be had to order. Men like him are the growth
of centuries. He died that his name might live.


In the year 1662, the first year of the absolute reign of Louis XIV.,
there occurred an event without parallel in history, and which still
remains shrouded in the mystery in which it was from the first involved.
There was sent with the utmost secrecy to the Château of Pignerol an
unknown prisoner, whose identity was kept secret with the most extreme
care. All that can be said of him is that he was young, well-formed and
attractive in appearance, and above the usual stature. As for his face,
whether it were handsome or ill-favored, noble or base, no man could
say, for it was concealed by an impenetrable mask, the lower portion of
which was made movable by steel springs, so that he could eat with it
on, while the upper portion was immovably fixed.

This mysterious state prisoner remained for a number of years at
Pignerol, under charge of its governor, M. de Saint Mars, an officer of
the greatest discretion and trustworthiness. He was afterwards removed
to the castle of the Isle of Sainte Marguerite, on the coast of
Provence, where he remained for years in the same mysterious seclusion,
an object of the greatest curiosity on the part of all the people of the
prison, and of no less interest to the people of the kingdom, to whose
love of the marvellous the secrecy surrounding him appealed. The mask
was never removed, day or night, so far as any one could learn, while
conjecture sought in vain to discover who this mysterious personage
could be.

This much was certain, no person of leading importance had disappeared
from Europe in the year 1662. On the other hand, the masked prisoner was
treated with a consideration which could be looked for only by persons
of the highest birth. The Marquis of Louvois, minister of war under the
"Grand Monarque," was said to have visited him at Sainte Marguerite, and
to have treated him with the respect due to one of royal birth. He spoke
to him standing, as to one far his superior in station, and showed him
throughout the interview the greatest deference.

In 1698, M. de Saint Mars was made governor of the Bastille. He brought
with him this mysterious masked prisoner, whose secret it was apparently
not deemed advisable to intrust to a new governor of Sainte Marguerite.
As to what took place on the journey, we have some interesting details
in a letter from M. de Formanoir, grand nephew of Saint Mars.

"In 1698, M. de Saint Mars exchanged the governorship of the islands
[Sainte Marguerite and Sainte Honnat] for that of the Bastille. When he
set out to enter on his new office he stayed with his prisoner for a
short time at Palteau, his estate. The mask arrived in a litter which
preceded that of M. de Saint Mars; they were accompanied by several men
on horseback. The peasants went out to meet their seigneur. M. de Saint
Mars took his meals with his prisoner, who sat with his back towards the
windows of the room, which looked into the court-yard. The peasants of
whom I made inquiry could not see if he had his mask on when eating; but
they observed that M. de Saint Mars, who sat opposite to him at table,
had a pair of pistols beside his plate. They were attended by a single
valet only, Antoine Ru, who took away the dishes set down to him in an
antechamber, having first carefully shut the door of the dining-room.
When the prisoner crossed the court-yard a black mask was always on his

The extreme caution here indicated was continued until the prisoner
reached the Bastille. With regard to his life in this fortress we are
better informed, since it must be acknowledged that the record of his
previous prison life is somewhat obscure. All that seems well
established is that he was one of the "two prisoners of the Lower Tower"
at Pignerol, in 1681; that he was spoken of to Saint Mars as "your
ancient prisoner," and "your prisoner of twenty years' standing;" that
in 1687 he was removed from Exiles to Sainte Marguerite with the same
care and secrecy observed in the journey to the Bastille, his jailer
accompanying him to the new prison, and that throughout he was under the
care of the relentless Saint Mars.

Of the life of this remarkable state prisoner in the Bastille we have
more detailed accounts. Dujunca, the chief turnkey of that prison, has
left a journal, which contains the following entry: "On Thursday, the
18th September, 1698, at three o'clock in the afternoon, M. de Saint
Mars, the governor, arrived at the Bastille for the first time from the
islands of Sainte Marguerite and Sainte Honnat. He brought with him in
his own litter an ancient prisoner formerly under his care at Pignerol,
and whose name remains untold. This prisoner was always kept masked, and
was at first lodged in the Basinière tower.... I conducted him
afterwards to the Bertaudière tower, and put him in a room, which, by
order of M. de Saint Mars, I had furnished before his arrival."

Throughout the life of this mysterious personage in the Bastille, the
secrecy which had so far environed him was rigidly observed. So far as
is known, no one ever saw him without his mask. Aside from this, and his
detention, everything that could be was done to make his life enjoyable.
He was given the best accommodation the Bastille afforded. Nothing that
he desired was refused him. He had a strong taste for lace and linen of
extreme fineness, and his wishes in this particular were complied with.
His table was always served in the most elegant manner, while the
governor, who frequently attended him, seldom sat in his presence.

During his intervals of ailment he was attended by the old doctor of the
Bastille, who, while often examining his tongue and parts of his body,
never saw his face. He represents him as very finely shaped, and of
somewhat brownish complexion, with an agreeable and engaging voice. He
never complained, nor gave any hint as to who he was, and throughout his
whole prison life no one gained the least clue to his identity. The only
instance in which he attempted to make himself known is described by
Voltaire, who tells us that while at Sainte Marguerite he threw out from
the grated window of his cell a piece of fine linen, and a silver plate
on which he had traced some strange characters. This, however, is an
unauthenticated story.

The detention of this mysterious prisoner in the Bastille was not an
extended one. He died in 1703. Dujunca's journal tells the story of his
death. "On Monday, the 19th of November, 1703, the unknown prisoner, who
had continually worn a black velvet mask, and whom M. de Saint Mars had
brought with him from the island of Sainte Marguerite, died to-day at
about ten o'clock in the evening, having been yesterday taken slightly
ill. He had been a long time in M. de Saint Mars' hands, and his illness
was exceedingly trifling."

There is one particular of interest in this record. The "iron mask"
appears to have been really a mask of black velvet, the only iron about
it being the springs, which permitted the lower part to be lifted.

The question now arises, Who was the "man with the iron mask"? It is a
question which has been long debated, without definite conclusion.
Chamillard was the last minister of Louis XIV. who knew this secret.
When he was dying, his son-in-law, Marshal de Feuillade, begged him on
his knees to reveal the mystery. He begged in vain. Chamillard answered
that it was a secret of state, which he had sworn never to reveal, and
he died with it untold.

Voltaire, in his "Age of Louis XIV.," was the first to call special
attention to this mystery, and since then numerous conjectures have been
made as to who the Iron Mask really was. One writer has suggested that
he was an illegitimate son of Anne of Austria, the queen-mother. Another
identifies him with a supposed twin brother of Louis XIV., whose birth
Richelieu had concealed. Others make him the Count of Vermandois, an
illegitimate son of Louis XIV.; the Duke of Beaufort, a hero of the
Fronde; the Duke of Monmouth, the English pretender of 1685; Fouquet,
Louis's disgraced minister of finance; a son of Cromwell, the English
protector; and various other wild and unfounded guesses. After all has
been said, the identity of the prisoner remains unknown. Mattioli, a
diplomatic agent of the Duke of Mantua, who was long imprisoned at
Pignerol and at Sainte Marguerite, was for a long time generally thought
to be the Iron Mask, but there is good reason to believe that he died in

Conjecture has exhausted itself, and yet the identity of this strange
captive remains a mystery, and is likely always to continue so. The
fact that all the exalted personages of the day can be traced renders it
probable that the veiled prisoner was really an obscure individual, whom
the caprice of Louis XIV. surrounded with conditions intended to excite
the curiosity of the public. There are on record other instances of
imprisonment under similar conditions of inviolate secrecy, and it is
not impossible that the king may have endeavored, for no purpose higher
than whim, to surround the story of this one with unbroken mystery. If
such were his purpose it has succeeded, for there is no more mysterious
person in history than the Man with the Iron Mask.


Never had excitable Paris been more excited. Only one man was talked of,
only one subject thought of; there was no longer interest in rumors of
war, in political quarrels, in the doings at the king's court; all
admiration and all sympathy were turned towards one feeble old man, who
had returned to Paris to die. For twenty-seven years he had been absent,
that brilliant writer and unsurpassed genius, the versatile Voltaire.
His facile pen had given its greatest glory to the reign of Louis XV.,
yet for more than a quarter of a century he had been exiled from the
land he loved, because he dared to exercise the privilege of free speech
in that land of oppression, and to deal with kings and nobles as man
with man, not as reverent worshipper with divinity. Now, in his
eighty-fourth year of age, he had ventured to come back to the city he
loved above all others, with scarcely enough life left for the journey,
and far from sure that power would not still seek to suppress genius as
it had done in the past.

If he had such fears, there was no warrant for them. Paris was ready to
worship him. The king himself would not have dared to interfere with the
popular idol in that interval of enthusiastic ebullition. All Paris was
prepared to cast itself at his feet; all France was eager to do him
honor; all calumny, jealousy, hatred were forgotten; a nation had risen
to welcome and honor its greatest genius, and the splendors of the court
paled before the glory which seemed to emanate from that feeble,
tottering veteran of the empire of thought, who had come back to occupy,
for a brief period, the throne of his old dominion.

The admiration, the enthusiasm, the glory were too much for him. He was
dying in the excitement of joy and triumph. Yet, with his wonderful
elasticity of frame and mind, he rose again for a fuller enjoyment of
that popular ovation which was to him the wine of life. The story of his
final triumph has been so graphically told by an eye-witness that we
cannot do better than to quote his words.

"M. de Voltaire has appeared for the first time at the Academy and at
the play; he found all the doors, all the approaches, to the Academy
besieged by a multitude which only opened slowly to let him pass, and
then rushed in immediately upon his footsteps with repeated plaudits and
acclamations. The Academy came out into the first room to meet him, an
honor it had never yet paid to any of its members, not even to the
foreign princes who had deigned to be present at its meetings.

"The homage he received at the Academy was merely the prelude to that
which awaited him at the National theatre. As soon as his carriage was
seen at a distance, there arose a universal shout of joy. All the
curb-stones, all the barriers, all the windows, were crammed with
spectators, and scarcely was the carriage stopped when people were
already on the imperial and even on the wheels to get a nearer view of
the divinity. Scarcely had he entered the house when Sieur Brizard came
up with a crown of laurels, which Madame de Villette placed upon the
great man's head, but which he immediately took off, though the public
urged him to keep it on by clapping of hands and by cheers which
resounded from all parts of the house with such a din as never was

"All the women stood up. I saw at one time that part of the pit which
was under the boxes go down on their knees, in despair of getting a
sight any other way. The whole house was darkened with the dust raised
by the ebb and flow of the excited multitude. It was not without
difficulty that the players managed at last to begin the piece. It was
'Irene,' which was given for the sixth time. Never had this tragedy been
better played, never less listened to, never more applauded. The
illustrious old man rose to thank the public, and, a moment afterwards,
there appeared on a pedestal in the middle of the stage a bust of this
great man, and the actresses, garlands and crowns in hand, covered it
with laurels.

"M. de Voltaire seemed to be sinking beneath the burden of age and of
the homage with which he had just been overwhelmed. He appeared deeply
affected, his eyes still sparkled amidst the pallor of his face, but it
seemed as if he breathed no longer save with the consciousness of his
glory. The people shouted, 'Lights! lights! that everybody may see him!'
The coachman was entreated to go at a walk, and thus he was accompanied
by cheering and the crowd as far as Pont Royal."

This was a very different greeting from that which Voltaire had received
fifty years before, when a nobleman with whom he had quarrelled had him
beaten with sticks in the public street, and, when Voltaire showed an
intention of making him answer at the sword's point for this outrage,
had him seized and thrown into the Bastille by the authorities. This was
but one of the several times he had been immured in this gloomy prison
for daring to say what he thought about powers and potentates. But time
brings its revenges. The Chevalier de Rohan, who had had the poet
castigated, was forgotten except as the man who had dishonored himself
in seeking to dishonor Voltaire, and the poet had become the idol of the
people of Paris, high and low alike.

Voltaire was not the only great man in Paris at this period. There was
another as great as he, but great in a very different fashion,--Benjamin
Franklin, the American philosopher and statesman, as famous for common
sense and public spirit as Voltaire was for poetical power and satirical
keenness. These two great men met, and their meeting is worthy of
description. The American envoys had asked permission to call on the
veteran of literature, a request that was willingly granted when
Voltaire learned that Franklin was one of the number. What passed
between them may be briefly related.

They found the aged poet reclining on a couch, thin of body, wrinkled of
face, evidently sick and feeble; yet his eyes, "glittering like two
carbuncles," showed what spirit lay within his withered frame. As they
entered, he raised himself with difficulty, and repeated the following
lines from Thomson's "Ode to Liberty," a poem which he had been familiar
with in England fifty years before.

    "Lo! swarming southward on rejoicing suns,
    Gay colonies extend, the calm retreat
    Of undisturbed Distress, the better home
    Of those whom bigots chase from foreign lands;
    Not built on rapine, servitude, and woe,
    And in their turn some petty tyrant's prey;
    But bound by social Freedom, firm they rise."

He then began to converse with Franklin in English; but, on being asked
by his niece to speak in French, that she and others present might
understand what was said, he remarked,--

"I beg your pardon. I have, for the moment, yielded to the vanity of
showing that I can speak in the language of a Franklin."

Shortly afterwards, Dr. Franklin presented him his grandson, whereupon
the old man lifted his hands over the head of the youth, and said, "My
child, God and liberty! Recollect those two words."

This was not the only scene between Franklin and Voltaire. Another took
place at the Academy of Sciences at one of the meetings of that body.
The two distinguished guests sat side by side on the platform, in full
view of the audience.

During the proceedings an interruption occurred. A confused cry arose,
the names of the two great visitors alone being distinguishable. It was
taken to mean that they should be introduced. This was done. They rose
and acknowledged the courtesy by bowing and a few words. But such a
formal proceeding was far from enough to satisfy the audience. The noise
continued. Franklin and Voltaire shook hands. This gave rise to
plaudits, but the confused cries were not stilled; the audience wanted
some more decided demonstration.

"Il faut s'embrasser, à la Françoise" ["You must embrace, in French
fashion"], they cried.

John Adams, who witnessed the spectacle, thus describes what followed:
"The two aged actors upon this great theatre of philosophy and
frivolity, embraced each other by hugging one another in their arms, and
kissing each other's cheeks, and then the tumult subsided. And the cry
immediately spread through the whole kingdom, and, I suppose over all
Europe, 'How charming it was to see Solon and Sophocles embrace.'"

A month later Voltaire lay dead, his brilliant eyes closed, his active
brain at rest. The excitement of his visit to Paris and the constant
ovation which he had received had been too much for the old man. He had
died in the midst of his triumph, vanished from the stage of life just
when his genius had compelled the highest display of appreciation which
it was possible for his countrymen to give. As for the church, which his
keen pen had dealt with as severely as with the temporal powers, it
could not well forget his incessant and bitter attacks. That he might
obtain Christian burial, he confessed and received absolution from the
Abbé Gaultier; but, with his views, this was simply a sacrifice to the
proprieties; he remained a heathen poet to the end, a born satirist and
scoffer at all tradition and all conventionality.

Voltaire was deistic in belief, in no sense atheistic. Among his latest
words were, "I die worshipping God, loving my friends, not hating my
enemies, but detesting superstition." Despite the admiration of the
people, the powers of the state could not forget that the man so
enthusiastically received was the great apostle of mockery and
irreverence. The government gave its last kick to the dead lion by
ordering the papers not to comment on his death. The church laid an
interdict on his burial in consecrated ground,--an hour or two too late,
as it proved. His body, minus the heart, was transferred in 1791 to the
Pantheon, and when, in 1864, the sarcophagus was opened with the purpose
of restoring the heart to the other remains, it was found to be empty.
In the stirring days of France the body had by some one, in some way,
been removed.


Paris, that city of sensations, was shaken to its centre by tidings of a
new and startling event. The Cardinal de Rohan, grand almoner of France,
at mass-time, and when dressed in his pontifical robes, had been
suddenly arrested in the palace of Versailles and taken to the Bastille.
Why? No one knew; though many had their opinions and beliefs. Rumors of
some mysterious and disgraceful secret beneath this arrest, a mystery in
which the honor of Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, was involved,
had got afloat, and were whispered from end to end of the city, in which
"the Austrian," as the queen was contemptuously designated, was by no
means a favorite.

The truth gradually came out,--the story of a disgraceful and
extraordinary intrigue, of which the prince cardinal was a victim rather
than an accessory, and of which the queen was utterly ignorant, though
the odium of the transaction clung to her until her death. When, eight
years afterwards, she was borne through a raging mob to the guillotine,
insulting references to this affair of the diamond necklace were among
the terms of opprobrium heaped upon her by the dregs of the Parisian

What was this disgraceful business? It is partly revealed in the graphic
account of an interview with the king which preceded the arrest of the
prince cardinal. On the 15th of August, 1785, Louis XVI. sent for M. de
Rohan to his cabinet. He entered smilingly, not dreaming of the
thunderbolt that was about to burst upon his head. He found there the
king and queen, the former with indignant countenance, the latter grave
and severe in expression.

"Cardinal," broke out the king, in an abrupt tone, "you bought some
diamonds of Boehmer?"

"Yes, sir," rejoined the cardinal, disturbed by the stern severity of
the king's looks and tone.

"What have you done with them?"

"I thought they had been sent to the queen."

"Who gave you the commission to buy them?"

"A lady, the Countess de La Motte Valois," answered the cardinal,
growing more uneasy. "She gave me a letter from the queen; I thought I
was obliging her Majesty."

The queen sharply interrupted him. She was no friend of the cardinal; he
had maligned her years before, when her husband was but dauphin of
France. Now was the opportunity to repay him for those malevolent

"How, sir," she broke out severely; "how could you think--you to whom I
have never spoken for eight years--that I should choose _you_ for
conducting such a negotiation, and by the medium of such a woman?"

"I was mistaken, I perceive," said the cardinal, humbly. "The desire I
felt to please your Majesty misled me. Here is the letter which I was
told was from you."

He drew a letter from his pocket and handed it to the king. Louis took
it, and cast his eyes over the signature. He looked up indignantly.

"How could a prince of your house and my grand almoner suppose that the
queen would sign, 'Marie Antoinette of France?'" he sternly demanded.
"Queens do not sign their names at such length. It is not even the
queen's writing. And what is the meaning of all these doings with
jewellers, and these notes shown to bankers?"

By this time the cardinal was so agitated that he was obliged to rest
himself against the table for support.

"Sir," he said, in a broken voice, "I am too much overcome to be able to
reply. What you say overwhelms me with surprise."

"Walk into the room, cardinal," said the king, with more kindness of
tone. "You may write your explanation of these occurrences."

The cardinal attempted to do so, but his written statement failed to
make clear the mystery. In the end an officer of the king's body-guard
was called in, and an order given him to convey Cardinal de Rohan to the
Bastille. He had barely time to give secret directions to his grand
vicar to burn all his papers, before he was carried off to that
frightful fortress, the scene of so much injustice, haunted by so many

The papers of De Rohan probably needed purging by fire, for the order to
burn them indicates that they contained evidence derogatory to his
position as a dignitary of the church. The prince cardinal was a vain
and profligate man, full of vicious inclinations, and credulous to a
degree that had made him the victim of the unscrupulous schemer, Madame
de La Motte Valois, a woman as adroit and unscrupulous as she was
daring. Of low birth, brought up by charity, married to a ruined
nobleman, she had ended her career by duping and ruining Cardinal de
Rohan, a man whose character exposed him to the machinations of an
adventuress so skilful, bold, and alluring as La Motte Valois.

So much for preliminary. Let us take up the story at its beginning. The
diamond necklace was an exceedingly handsome and highly valuable piece
of jewelry, containing about five hundred diamonds, and held at a price
equal to about four hundred thousand dollars of modern money. It had
been made by Boehmer, a jeweller of Paris, about the year 1774, and was
intended for Madame Dubarry, the favorite of Louis XV. But before the
necklace was finished Louis had died, and a new king had come to the
throne. With Louis XVI. virtue entered that profligate court, and Madame
Dubarry was excluded from its precincts. As for the necklace, it
remained without a purchaser. It was too costly for a subject, and was
not craved by the queen. The jeweller had not failed to offer it to
Marie Antoinette, but found her disinclined to buy. The American
Revolution was going on, France was involved in the war, and money was
needed for other purposes than diamond necklaces.

"That is the price of two frigates," said the king, on hearing of the
estimated value of the famous trinket.

"We want ships, and not diamonds," said the queen, and ended the
audience with the jeweller.

A few months afterwards, M. Boehmer openly declared that he had found a
purchaser for the necklace. It had gone to Constantinople, he said, for
the adornment of the favorite sultana.

"This was a real pleasure to the queen," says Madame Campan. "She,
however, expressed some astonishment that a necklace made for the
adornment of French women should be worn in the seraglio, and,
thereupon, she talked to me a long time about the total change which
took place in the tastes and desires of women in the period between
twenty and thirty years of age. She told me that when she was ten years
younger she loved diamonds madly, but that she had no longer any taste
for anything but private society, the country, the work and the
attentions required by the education of her children. From that moment
until the fatal crisis there was nothing more said about the necklace."

The necklace had not been sold. It remained in the jeweller's hands
until nearly ten years had passed. Then the vicious De La Motte laid an
adroit plan for getting it into her possession, through the aid of the
Cardinal de Rohan, who had come to admire her. She was a hanger-on of
the court, and began her work by persuading the cardinal that the queen
regarded him with favor. The credulous dupe was completely infatuated
with the idea. One night, in August, 1784, he was given a brief
interview in the groves around Versailles with a woman whom he supposed
to be the queen, but who was really a girl resembling her, and taught by
La Motte to play this part.

Filled with the idea that the queen loved him, the duped cardinal was
ready for any folly. De La Motte played her next card by persuading him
that the queen had a secret desire to possess this wonderful necklace,
but had not the necessary money at that time. She would, however, sign
an agreement to purchase it if the cardinal would become her security.
De Rohan eagerly assented. This secret understanding seemed but another
proof of the queen's predilection for him. An agreement was produced,
signed with the queen's name, to which the cardinal added his own, and
on February 1, 1785, the jeweller surrendered the necklace to De Rohan,
receiving this agreement as his security. The cardinal carried the
costly prize to Versailles, where he was told the queen would send for
it. It was given by him to La Motte, who was commissioned to deliver it
to her royal patroness. In a few days afterwards this lady's husband
disappeared from Paris, and the diamond necklace with him.

The whole affair had been a trick. All the messages from the queen had
been false ones, the written documents being prepared by a seeming
valet, who was skilful in the imitation of handwriting. Throughout the
whole business the cardinal had been readily deceived, infatuation
closing his eyes to truth.

Such was the first act in the drama. The second opened when the jeweller
began to press for payment. M. de La Motte sold some of the diamonds in
England, and transmitted the money to his wife, who is said to have
quieted the jeweller for a time by paying him some instalments on the
price. But he quickly grew impatient and suspicious that all was not
right, and went to court, where he earnestly inquired if the necklace
had been delivered to the queen. For a time she could not understand
what he meant. The diamond necklace? What diamond necklace? What did
this mean? The Cardinal de Rohan her security for payment!--it was all
false, all base, some dark intrigue behind it all.

Burning with indignation, she sent for Abbé de Vermond and Baron de
Breteuil, the minister of the king's household, and told them of the
affair. It was a shameful business, they said. They hated the cardinal,
and did not spare him. The queen, growing momentarily more angry, at
length decided to reveal the whole transaction to the king, and roused
in his mind an indignation equal to her own. The result we have already
seen. De Rohan and La Motte were consigned to the Bastille. M. de La
Motte was in England, and thus out of reach of justice. Another
celebrated individual who was concerned in the affair, and had aided in
duping the cardinal, the famous, or infamous, Count Cagliostro, was
also consigned to the Bastille for his share in the dark and deep

The trial came on, as the closing act in this mysterious drama, in which
all Paris had now become intensely interested. The cardinal had
renounced all the privileges of his rank and condition, and accepted the
jurisdiction of Parliament,--perhaps counting on the open enmity between
that body and the court.

The trial revealed a disgraceful business, in which a high dignitary of
the church had permitted himself to be completely gulled by a shameless
woman and the equally shameless Cagliostro, and into which not only the
name but even the virtue of the queen had been dragged. Public opinion
became intense. The hostility to the queen which had long smouldered now
openly declared itself. "It was for her and by her orders that the
necklace was bought," said the respectable Parisians. Those who were not
respectable said much worse things. The queen was being made a victim of
these shameless and criminal adventurers.

The trial went on, political feeling being openly displayed in it. The
great houses of Condé and Rohan took sides with the cardinal. Their
representatives might be seen, dressed in mourning, interviewing the
magistrates on their way to the tribunal, pleading with them on behalf
of their relative. The magistrates needed little persuasion. The
Parliament of Paris had long been at sword's point with the crown; now
was its time for revenge; political prejudice blinded the members to
the pure questions of law and justice; the cardinal was acquitted.

Cagliostro was similarly acquitted. He had conducted his own case, and
with a skill that deceived the magistrates and the public alike. Madame
de La Motte alone was convicted. She was sentenced to be whipped,
branded on each shoulder with the letter V (for _voleuse_, "thief"), and
to be imprisoned for life. Her husband, who was in England, was
sentenced in his absence to the galleys for life. A minor participant in
this business, the girl who had personated the queen, escaped

So ended this disgraceful affair. The queen was greatly cast down by the
result. "Condole with me," she said, in a broken voice, to Madame
Campan; "the intriguer who wanted to ruin me, or procure money by using
my name and forging my signature, has just been fully acquitted." But it
was due, she declared, to bribery on the part of some and to political
passion on that of others, with an audacity towards authority which such
people loved to display. The king entered as she was speaking.

"You find the queen in great affliction," he said to Madame Campan; "she
has much reason to be. But what then? They would not see in this
business anything save a prince of the Church and the Prince of Rohan,
whereas it is only the case of a man in want of money, and a mere trick
for raising cash, wherein the cardinal has been swindled in his turn.
Nothing is easier to understand, and it needs no Alexander to cut this
Gordian knot."

Cardinal Rohan was exiled to his abbey of Chaise-Dieu, guilty in the
king's opinion, a dupe in the judgment of history, evidently a credulous
profligate who had mistaken his vocation. The queen was the true victim
of the whole affair. It doubled the hostility of the people to her, and
had its share in that final sentence which brought her head to the


"To the Bastille! to the Bastille!" was the cry. Paris surged with an
ungovernable mob. Month by month, week by week, day by day, since the
meeting of the States-General,--called into being chiefly to provide
money for the king and kept in being to provide government for the
people,--the revolutionary feeling had grown, alike among the delegates
and among the citizens. Now the population of Paris was aroused, the
unruly element of the city was in the streets, their wrath directed
against the prison-fortress, the bulwark of feudalism, the stronghold of
oppression, the infamous keeper of the dark secrets of the kings of
France. The people had always feared, always hated it, and now against
its sullen walls was directed the torrent of their wrath.

The surging throng besieged the Hôtel de Ville, demanding arms. Gaining
no satisfaction there, they rushed to the Invalides, where they knew
that arms were stored. The governor wished to parley. "He asks for time
to make us lose ours!" cried a voice in the crowd. A rush was made, the
iron gates gave way, the cellar-doors were forced open, and in a short
time thirty thousand guns were distributed among the people.

Minute by minute the tumult increased. Messengers came with threatening
tidings. "The troops are marching to attack the Faubourgs; Paris is
about to be put to fire and sword; the cannon of the Bastille are about
to open fire upon us," were the startling cries. The people grew wild
with rage.

This scene was the first of those frightful outbreaks of mob violence
of which Paris was in the coming years to see so many. It was the 14th
of July, 1789. As yet no man dreamed of the horrors which the near
future was to bring forth. The Third Estate was at war with the king,
and fancied itself the power in France. But beneath it, unseen by it,
almost undreamed of by it, was rousing from sleep the wild beast of
popular fury and revenge. Centuries of oppression were about to be
repaid by years of a wild carnival of slaughter.

The Bastille was the visible emblem of that oppression. It was an armed
fortress threatening Paris. The cannon on its walls frowned defiance to
the people. Momentarily the wrath of the multitude grew stronger. The
electors of the Third Estate sent a message to Delaunay, governor of the
Bastille, asking him to withdraw the cannons, the sight of which
infuriated the people, and promising, if he would do this, to restrain
the mob.

The advice was wise; the governor was not. The messengers were long
absent; the electors grew uneasy; the tumult in the street increased. At
length the deputation returned, bringing word that the governor pledged
himself not to fire on the people, unless forced to do so in
self-defence. This message the electors communicated to the crowd
around the Hôtel de Ville, hoping that it would satisfy them. Their
words were interrupted by a startling sound, the roar of a cannon,--even
while they were reporting the governor's evasive message the cannon of
the Bastille were roaring defiance to the people of Paris! An attack had
been made by the people on the fortress and this was the governor's

That shot was fatal to Delaunay. The citizens heard it with rage.
"Treason!" was the cry. "To the Bastille! to the Bastille!" again rose
the shout. Surging onward in an irresistible mass, the furious crowd
poured through the streets, and soon surrounded the towering walls of
the detested prison-fortress. A few bold men had already cut the chains
of the first drawbridge, and let it fall. Across it rushed the multitude
to attack the second bridge.

The fortress was feebly garrisoned, having but thirty Swiss soldiers and
eighty invalids for its defence. But its walls were massive; it was well
provided; it had resisted many attacks in the past; this disorderly and
badly-armed mass seemed likely to beat in vain against those century-old
bulwarks and towers. Yet there come times in which indignation grows
strong, even with bare hands, oppression waxes weak behind its walls of
might, and this was one of those times.

A chance shot was fired from the crowd; the soldiers answered with a
volley; several men were wounded; other shots came from the people; the
governor gave orders to fire the cannon; the struggle had begun.

It proved a short one. Companies of the National Guard were brought up
to restrain the mob,--the soldiers broke from their ranks and joined it.
Two of their sub-officers, Elie and Hullin by name, put themselves at
the head of the furious crowd and led the people to the assault on the
fortress. The fire of the garrison swept through their dense ranks; many
of them fell; one hundred and fifty were killed or wounded; but now
several pieces of cannon were dragged up by hand and their threatening
muzzles turned against the gates.

The assault was progressing; Delaunay waited for succor which did not
arrive; the small garrison could not withstand that mighty mob; in the
excitement of the moment the governor attempted to blow up the powder
magazine, and would have done so had not one of his attendants held his
arms by force.

And now deputations arrived from the electors, two of them in
succession, demanding that the fortress should be given up to the
citizen guard. Delaunay proposed to capitulate, saying that he would
yield if he and his men were allowed to march out with arms and honor.
The proposition was received with shouts of sarcastic laughter.

"Life and safety are all we can promise you," answered Elie. "This I
engage on the word of an officer."

Delaunay at this ordered the second drawbridge to be lowered and the
gates to be opened. In poured the mass, precipitating themselves in fury
upon that hated fortress, rushing madly through all its halls and
passages, breaking its cell-doors with hammer blows, releasing captives
some of whom had been held there in hopeless misery for half a lifetime,
unearthing secrets which added to their revengeful rage.

Elie and Hullin had promised the governor his life. They miscalculated
their power over their savage followers. Before they had gone far they
were fighting hand to hand with the multitude for the safety of their
prisoner. At the Place de Grève, Hullin seized the governor in his
strong arms and covered his bare head with a hat, with the hope of
concealing his features from the people. In a moment more he was hurled
down and trodden under foot, and on struggling to his feet saw the head
of Delaunay carried on a pike. The major and lieutenant were similarly
massacred. Flesselles, the mayor of Paris, shared their fate. The other
prisoners were saved by the soldiers, who surrounded and protected them
from the fury of the mob.

The fall of the Bastille was celebrated by two processions that moved
through the streets; one blood-stained and horrible, carrying the heads
of the victims on pikes; the other triumphant and pathetic, bearing on
their shoulders the prisoners released from its cells. Of these, two had
been incarcerated so long that they were imbecile, and no one could
tell whence they came. On the pathway of this procession flowers and
ribbons were scattered. The spectators looked on with silent horror at
the other.

Meanwhile, the king was at Versailles, in ignorance of what was taking
place at Paris. The courts were full of soldiers, drinking and singing;
wine had been distributed among them; there were courtiers and court
intrigues still; the lowering cloud of ruin had yet scarcely cast a
shadow on the palace. Louis XVI. went to bed and to sleep, in blissful
ignorance of what had taken place. The Duke of Lioncourt entered and had
him awakened, and informed him of the momentous event.

"But that is a revolt!" exclaimed the king, with startled face, sitting
up on his couch.

"No, sire," replied the duke; "it is a revolution!"

That was the true word. It was a revolution. With the taking of the
Bastille the Revolution of France was fairly inaugurated. As for that
detested fortress, its demolition began on the next day, amid the
thunder of cannon and the singing of the _Te Deum_. It had dominated
Paris, and served as a state-prison for four hundred years. Its site was
henceforward to be kept as a monument to liberty.


Sad years were they for kings and potentates in France--now a century
ago--when the cup of civilization was turned upside-down and the dregs
rose to the top. For once in the history of mankind the anarchist was
lord--and a frightful use he made of his privileges. Not only living
kings were at a discount, but the very bones of kings were scattered to
the winds, and the sacred oil, the "Sainte Ampoule," which for many
centuries had been used at the coronation of the kings of France, became
an object of detestation, and was treated with the same lack of ceremony
and consideration as the royal family itself.

Thereby hangs a tale. But before telling what desecration came to the
Sainte Ampoule through the impious hands of the new lords of France, it
may be well to trace briefly the earlier history of this precious oil.
Christianity came to France when Clovis, its first king, was baptized.
And although we cannot say much for the Christian virtues of the worthy
king Clovis, we are given to understand that Heaven smiled on his
conversion, for the story goes that a dove came down from the realm of
the blessed, bearing a small vial of holy oil, which was placed in the
hands of St. Remy to be used in anointing the king at his coronation.
Afterwards the saint placed this vial in his own tomb, where it was
after many years discovered by miracle. It is true, St. Remy tells us
none of this. Our authority for it is Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, who
flourished four centuries after Clovis and his converter had been
gathered to their fathers. But as Hincmar defied those who doubted the
story of the dove and the vial to prove the contrary, and produced a
vial of oil from the saint's tomb in further proof of his statement, no
reasonable person--at that day--could longer deny it, though the first
mention of it is by a chronicler who lived a century and a half after
the saint.

From the days of Hincmar forward the monarchs of France, at their
coronation, were anointed with this holy oil. And as the dove was said
to have descended at Rheims, and St. Remy was buried there, this became
the city of the coronation. An order of knighthood was founded to take
part in the coronation,--the "Knights of the Sainte Ampoule,"--but the
worthy incumbents held their office for a day only,--that of the
crowning of the king. They were created for that purpose, received the
precious vial from the archbishop, and after the ceremony returned it to
that high dignitary of the church and saw it restored to its
abiding-place. This done, they ceased to exist as knights of the holy
oil, the order dying while the king lived.

But these short-lived chevaliers made the most of their opportunity, and
crowded all the splendor and dignity into their one day that it would
well bear. The sacred vial was kept in the abbey of St. Remy, and from
that place to the cathedral they moved in a stately procession that
almost threw the cortege of the king into the shade. The Grand Prior of
St. Remy bore the vial, in its case or shrine, which hung from his neck
by a golden chain. He rode always on a white horse, being covered by a
magnificent canopy, upheld by the knights of the Sainte Ampoule. The
cathedral reached, the prior placed the vial in the hands of the
archbishop, who pledged himself by a solemn oath to restore it at the
end of the ceremony. And to make this doubly sure a number of barons
were given to the knights as hostages, the restoration of the vial to be
their ransom. The ceremony over, back to the abbey they went, through
streets adorned with rich tapestries, and surrounded by throngs of
admiring lookers-on, to whom the vial was of as much interest as the
king's crown.

For many centuries this honor came at intervals to the city of Rheims,
and the St. Remy vial figured as an indispensable element of every
kingly coronation. It figured thus in the mission of Joan of Arc, whose
purpose was to drive the English from Orleans and open the way to
Rheims, that the new king might be crowned with the old ceremony. The
holy oil continued to play a leading part in the coronation of the kings
until the reign of Louis XVI. Then came the Revolution, that mighty
overturner of all things sacred and time-honored, and a new chapter was
written in the story of the Sainte Ampoule. It is this chapter which we
have now to give.

The Revolution had gone on, desecrating things sacred and beheading
things royal, through years of terror, and now had arrived the 6th of
October, 1793, a day fatal in the history of the holy oil. On that day
Citizen Rhul, one of the new sovereigns of France, entered the room of
Philippe Hourelle, chief _marguillier_ of the Cathedral of Rheims, and
demanded of him the vial of coronation oil of which he had charge.
Horror seized Monsieur Philippe; but Master Rhul was imperative, and the
guillotine stood in the near perspective. There was nothing to do but to

"It is not in my care," declared the trembling Philippe. "It is in the
keeping of the curé, Monsieur Seraine. I will instantly apply to him for

"And make haste," said Citizen Rhul. "Bring pomatum and all," thus
irreverently designating the age-thickened oil.

"May I ask what you will do with it?" ventured Philippe.

"Grease the knife of the guillotine, mayhap, that it may the easier slip
through your neck, if you waste any time in your errand."

As may be imagined, Philippe Hourelle lost no time in seeking the curé,
and giving him his startling message. M. Seraine heard him with horror.
Had the desecration of sans-culottisme proceeded so far as this? But an
idea sprang to the quick wit of the curé.

"We can save some of it," he exclaimed.

A minute sufficed to extract a portion of the unguent-like substance.
Then, with a sigh of regret, the curé handed the vial to Philippe, who,
with another sigh of regret, delivered it to Citizen Rhul, who, without
a sigh of regret, carried it to the front of the cathedral, and at the
foot of the statue of Louis XV. hammered the vial to powder, and trod
what remained of the precious ointment under foot until it was
completely mingled with the mud of the street.

"So we put an end to princes and pomatum," said this irascible
republican, with a laugh of triumph, as he ground the remnants of the
vial under his irreverent heel.

Not quite an end to either, as it proved. The portion of the sacred oil
which M. Seraine had saved was divided into two portions, one kept by
himself, the other placed in the care of Philippe Hourelle, to be kept
until the reign of anarchy should come to an end and a king reign again
in France. And had Citizen Rhul dreamed of all that lay in the future
every hair on his democratic head would have stood erect in horror and

In truth, not many years had passed before the age of princes came again
to France, and a demand for St. Remy's vial arose, Napoleon was to be
crowned emperor at Notre Dame. Little did this usurper of royalty care
for the holy oil, but there were those around him with more reverence
for the past, men who would have greatly liked to act as knights of the
Sainte Ampoule. But the unguent was not forthcoming, and the emperor was
crowned without its aid.

Then came the end of the imperial dynasty, and the return of the
Bourbons. To them the precious ointment was an important essential of
legitimate kingship. Could St. Remy's vial be found, or had it and its
contents vanished in the whirlpool of the Revolution? That was to be
learned. A worthy magistrate of Rheims, Monsieur de Chevrières, took in
hand the task of discovery. He searched diligently but unsuccessfully,
until one day, in the early months of 1819, when three gentlemen, sons
of Philippe Hourelle, called upon him, and told the story which we have
just transcribed. A portion of the holy oil of coronation, they
declared, had been in their father's care, preserved and transmitted
through M. Seraine's wit and promptitude. Their father was dead, but he
had left it to his widow, who long kept it as a priceless treasure. They
were interrupted at this point in their story by M. de Chevrières.

"This is fortunate," he exclaimed. "She must pass it over to me. Her
name will become historic for her loyal spirit."

"I wish she could," said one of the visitors. "But, alas! it is lost.
Our house was plundered during the invasion, and among other things
taken was this precious relic. It is irretrievably gone."

That seemed to end the matter; but not so, there was more of the
consecration oil in existence than could have been imagined. The visit
of the Hourelles was followed after an interval by a call from a Judge
Lecomte, who brought what he affirmed was a portion of the holy ointment
which had been given him by the widow Hourelle. Unluckily, it was of
microscopic dimensions, far from enough to impart the full flavor of
kingship to his majesty Louis XVIII.

It seemed as if this worthy monarch of the Restoration would have to
wear his crown without anointment, when, fortunately, a new and
interesting item of news was made public. It was declared by a number of
ecclesiastics that the curé, M. Seraine, had given only a part of the
oil to Philippe Hourelle, and had himself kept the remainder. He had
told them so, but, as it proved, not a man of them all knew what he had
done with it. He had died, and the secret with him. Months passed away;
spring vanished; summer came; then new tidings bloomed. A priest of
Berry-au-Bac, M. Bouré by name, sought M. de Chevrières, and gladdened
his heart with the announcement that the missing relic was in his
possession, having been consigned to him by M. Seraine. It was rendered
doubly precious by being wrapped in a portion of the winding sheet of
the blessed St. Remy himself.

Nor was this all. Within a week another portion of the lost treasure was
brought forward. It had been preserved in a manner almost miraculous.
Its possessor was a gentleman named M. Champagne Provotian, who had the
following interesting story to tell. He had, a quarter of a century
before, in 1793, been standing near Citizen Rhul when that scion of the
Revolution destroyed the vial of St. Remy, at the foot of the statue of
Louis XV., in front of the Cathedral of Rheims. When he struck the vial
he did so with such force that fragments of it flew right and left, some
of them falling on the coat-sleeve of the young man beside him, M.
Champagne. These he dexterously concealed from the iconoclastic citizen,
took home, and preserved. He now produced them.

Here were three separate portions of the precious ointment. A commission
was appointed to examine them. They were pronounced genuine, oil and
glass alike. Enough had been saved to crown a king.

"There is nothing now to obstruct the coronation of your Majesty," said
an officer of the court to Louis XVIII.

His majesty laughed incredulously. He was an unbeliever as regarded
legend and a democrat as regarded ceremony, and gave the gentleman to
understand that he was content to reign without being anointed.

"What shall be done with the ointment?" asked the disappointed official.

"Lock it up in the vestry and say no more about it," replied the king.

This was done, and the precious relics were restored to the tomb of St.
Remy, whence they originally came; being placed there in a silver
reliquary lined with white silk, and enclosed in a metal case, with
three locks. And there they lay till 1825, when a new king came to the
throne, in the person of Charles X.

Now, for the last time, the old ceremony was revived, the knights of the
Sainte Ampoule being created, and their office duly performed. With such
dignity as he could assume and such grandeur as he could display,
Charles entered the choir of the cathedral and advanced to the grand
altar, at whose foot he knelt. On rising, he was led to the centre of
the sanctuary, and took his seat in a throne-like chair, placed there to
receive him. In a semi-circle round him stood a richly-dressed group of
nobles and courtiers.

Then came forward in stately procession the chevaliers of the Sainte
Ampoule, bearing the minute remnants of that sacred oil which was
claimed to have been first used in the anointing of Clovis, thirteen
hundred years before. An imposing group of churchmen stood ready to
receive the ointment, including three prelates, an archbishop, and two
bishops. These dignitaries carried the precious relic to the high altar,
consecrated it, and anointed the king with a solemn ceremony highly
edifying to the observers, and greatly gratifying to the vanity of the
new monarch.

It cannot be said that this ceremonious proceeding appealed to the
people of France. It was the nineteenth century, and the Revolution lay
between the new and the old age. All men of wit laughed at the pompous
affair, and five years afterwards the people of Paris dispensed with
Charles X. as their king, despite the flavor of coronation that hung
about him. The dynasty of the Bourbons was at an end, and the knights of
the Saint Ampoule had been created for the last time.

In conclusion, there is a story connected with the coronation ceremony
which may be of interest. Legend or history tells us that at one time
the English took the city of Rheims, plundered it, and, as part of their
plunder, carried off the Saint Ampoule, which their desecrating hands
had stolen from the tomb of St. Remy. The people of the suburb of Chène
la Populeux pursued the invaders, fell upon them and recovered this
precious treasure. From that time, in memory of their deed, the
inhabitants of Chène claimed the right to walk in the procession of the
Sainte Ampoule, and to fall heir to the horse ridden by the Grand Prior.
This horse was furnished by the government, and was claimed by the prior
as the property of the abbey, in recompense for his services. He denied
the claim of the people of Chène, said that their story was a fable, and
that at the best they were but low-born rogues. As a result of all this,
hot blood existed between the rival claimants to the white horse of the

At the crowning of Louis XIV. the monks and the people of Chène came to
blows, in support of their respective claims. The villagers pulled the
prior from his horse, pummelled the monks who came to his aid, thrashed
the knights out of every semblance of dignity, tore the canopy into
shreds, and led off the white horse in triumph. Law followed blows; the
cost of a dozen horses was wasted on the lawyers; in the end the monks
won, and the people of Chène had to restore the four-footed prize to the

At the subsequent coronations of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. they renewed
their claim, and violence was again threatened. The trouble was overcome
by special decrees, which prohibited the people of Chène from meddling
with the claim of the prior. By the time of the coronation of Charles
X., all such mediæval folly was at an end, and the stately old ceremony
had become a matter of popular ridicule.

The story of the Sainte Ampoule is not without its interest in showing
the growth of ideas. At the end of the ninth century, a bishop could
gravely state, and a nation unquestionably accept his statement, that a
dove had flown down from heaven bearing a vial of holy oil for the
anointment of its kings. At the end of the nineteenth century the same
nation has lost its last vestige of reverence for the "divinity which
doth hedge a king," and has no longer any use for divinely-commissioned
potentates or heaven-sent ointments.


At midnight of the 22d of June, 1791, a heavy and lumbering carriage
rolled slowly into the town of Varennes, situated in the department of
Meuse, in northeastern France. It had set out from Paris at an early
hour of the preceding day, and had now left that turbulent capital more
than a hundred and fifty miles behind it, pursuing a direct route
towards the nearest frontier of the kingdom.

There were in this clumsy vehicle several plainly-dressed ladies, a man
attired as a servant, and a half-grown boy. They all seemed in the best
of spirits, and felicitated themselves on having come so far without
question or obstruction. As they neared Varennes, however, an alarming
sound was borne on the midnight air to their ears,--that of a clanging
bell, ringing quickly, as if in alarm. They entered the town and drove
to the post-house.

"Let us have horses at once," was the demand of the outriders; "we must
go forward without delay."

"There are no horses ready," was the reply. "Have you your passports?"

The papers were presented and taken to M. Sausse, the public officer of
the commune, a timid little shop-keeper, sadly incompetent to deal with
any matter that needed bold decision. He cast his eye over the
passports, which shook in his trembling hand. Yet they appeared to be
all right, being made out in the name of Baron Korf, the man in the
carriage being named as a valet de chambre to the baron.

But the disturbed little commune officer knew better than that. A young
man named Drouet, son of the postmaster at St. Menehould, had, a
half-hour or so before, ridden at furious speed into the town, giving
startling information to such of the citizens as he found awake. There
quickly followed that ringing of the alarm-bell which had pealed trouble
into the ears of the approaching travellers.

M. Sausse approached the carriage, and bowed with the deepest respect
before the seeming servant within.

"Will you not enter my house?" he asked. "There is a rumor abroad that
we are so fortunate as to have our king in our midst. If you remain in
the carriage, while the municipal authorities are in council, your
Majesty might be exposed to insult."

The secret was out; it was the king of France who was thus masquerading
in the dress of a lackey and speeding with all haste towards the
frontier. The town was alarmed: a group of armed men stood at the
shopkeeper's door as the traveller entered; some of them told him rudely
that they knew him to be the king.

"If you recognize him," sharply answered the lady who followed, "speak
to him with the respect you owe your king."

It was Marie Antoinette, though her dress was rather that of a
waiting-maid than a queen. The ladies who followed her were Madame
Elizabeth, the princess, and the governess of the royal children. The
boy was the dauphin of France.

This flight had been undertaken under the management of General Bouillé,
who had done all in his power to make it successful, by stationing
relays of soldiers along the road, procuring passports, and other
necessary details. But those intrusted with its execution had, aside
from keeping the project a secret, clumsily managed its details. The
carriage procured was of great size, and loaded like a furniture van
with luggage. There was a day's delay in the start. Even the setting out
was awkwardly managed; the queen leaving the palace on foot, losing her
way, and keeping her companions perilously waiting. The detachments of
troops on the road were sure to attract attention. Careful precautions
for the defeat of the enterprise seemed to have been taken.

Yet all went well until St. Menehould was reached, though the king was
recognized by more than one person on the road. "We passed through the
large town of Châlons-sur-Marne," wrote the young princess, "where we
were quite recognized. Many people praised God at seeing the king, and
made vows for his escape."

All France had not yet reached the republican virulence of Paris. "All
goes well, François," said the queen in a glad tone to Valory, her
courier. "If we were to have been stopped, it would have taken place

At St. Menehould, however, they found the people in a different temper.
The king was recognized, and though his carriage was not stopped, a
detachment of dragoons, who had followed him at a distance, was not
suffered to proceed, the people cutting the girths of the horses. Young
Drouet, of whom we have already spoken, sprang on horseback and rode
hurriedly on towards Varennes, preceding the carriage.

The soldiers who had been posted at Varennes were in no condition to
assist the king. The son of Marquis Bouillé, who had accompanied the
royal party, found them helplessly intoxicated, and rode off at full
speed to inform his father of the alarming condition of affairs.

Meanwhile, the king, who had taken refuge in the shop of the grocer
Sausse, awaited the municipal authorities in no small perturbation of
spirits. They presented themselves at length before him, bowing with
great show of respect, and humbly asking his orders.

"Have the horses put to my carriage without delay," he said, with no
further attempt at concealment, "that I may start for Montmédy."

They continued respectful, but were provided with various reasons why
they could not obey: the horses were at a distance; those in the stables
were not in condition to travel; pretext after pretext was advanced for
delay. In truth, no pretext was needed; the adjoining street was filled
with armed revolutionists, and in no case would the carriage have been
suffered to proceed.

As daybreak approached a detachment of dragoons rode into the town. They
were those who had been posted near Châlons, and who had ridden on
towards Montmédy after the king's passage. Missing him, they had
returned. Choiseul, their commander, pushed through the people and
entered the shop.

"You are environed here," he said to the king. "We are not strong enough
to take the carriage through; but if you will mount on horseback we can
force a passage through the crowd."

"If I were alone I should try it," said Louis. "I cannot do it as
matters stand. I am waiting for daylight; they do not refuse to let me
go on; moreover, M. de Bouillé will soon be here."

He did not recognize the danger of delay. The crowd in the streets was
increasing; the bridge was barricaded; the authorities had sent a
messenger in haste to Paris to tell what had happened and ask orders
from the National Assembly.

"Tell M. de Bouillé that I am a prisoner," said the king to Captain
Deslon, the commander of a detachment, who had just reached him. "I
suspect that he cannot do anything for me, but I desire him to do what
he can."

The queen meanwhile was urgently entreating Madame Sausse to use her
influence with her husband and procure an order for the king's release.
She found the good woman by no means inclined to favor her.

"You are thinking of the king," she said; "I am thinking of M. Sausse;
each is for her own husband."

By this time the throng in the streets was growing impatient and
violent. "To Paris! to Paris!" shouted the people. The king grew
frightened. Bouillé had failed to appear. There was no indication of his
approach. The excitement grew momentarily greater.

During this anxious interval two officers rode rapidly up on the road
from Paris, and presented themselves before the king. They were
aides-de-camp of General Lafayette, commander of the National Guard. One
of them, Romeuf by name, handed Louis a decree of the assembly ordering
pursuit and return of the king. It cited an act which forbade any public
functionary to remove himself more than twenty leagues from his post.

"I never sanctioned that," cried the king, angrily, flinging the paper
on the bed where the dauphin lay.

The queen snatched it up hastily, exclaiming that the bed of her
children should not be soiled by such a document.

"Madame," said Romeuf, warningly, "do you wish that other eyes than mine
should witness your anger?"

The queen blushed, and recovered with an effort the composure which she
had suffered herself to lose.

A messenger now arrived from Bouillé bringing word that the detachments
he had posted were moving towards Varennes, and that he himself was on
the way thither. But the tumult in the streets had grown hour by hour;
the people were becoming furious at the delay; it seemed certain that
the arrival of the troops would be the signal for a battle with the
armed populace, who had strongly barricaded the town. Utterly
disheartened, the king gave orders for the carriage; he had decided to
return to Paris.

An hour afterwards Bouillé, breathless from a long and hurried ride,
arrived within sight of Varennes. Its barricades met his eyes. He was
told that the king had set out on his return an hour before. The game
was up; Louis had lost his last hope of escape; the loyal general took
the road for Stenay, and that same evening crossed the French frontier.

The king's carriage made its way back to Paris through a throng that
lined the roads, and which became dense when the city was reached. The
National Guards held their arms reversed; none of the spectators
uncovered their heads; the flight of the king had put an end to his
authority and to the respect of the people. It was a sad procession that
slowly made its way, in the evening light, along the boulevards towards
the Tuileries. When the king and queen entered the palace the doors
were closed behind them, and armed guards stationed to prevent egress.
The palace had become a prison; Louis XVI. had ceased to reign; the
National Assembly was now the governing power in France.

What followed a few words may tell. In the succeeding year the Reign of
Terror began, and Louis was taken from the Tuileries to the Temple, a
true prison. In December he was tried for treason and condemned to
death, and on January 21, 1793, his head fell under the knife of the
guillotine. In October of the same year his unhappy queen shared his


No period of equal length in the whole era of history yields us such a
succession of exciting and startling events as those few years between
the convening of the States-General in France and the rise of Napoleon
to power, and particularly that portion of the Revolution known as the
Reign of Terror. A volume of thrilling stories might have been made from
its incidents alone; but it would have been a volume so full of tales of
blood and woe, of misery and massacre, of the dominance of those
wild-beast passions which civilization seeks to subdue in man, that we
may well be spared the telling. As with the fall of the Bastille began
the long dominion of the populace, so with the fall of Robespierre it
ended, and civil order returned to unhappy France. We have told the
story of the one; we shall conclude with that of the other.

Three men dominated the Terror,--Danton, Marat, and Robespierre; the
first named best deserving the title of man, for he possessed certain
qualities of manliness not shown by his brutal colleagues. As Lamartine
says, "Nothing was wanting to make Danton a great man except virtue." He
had too much manliness, as it seems, for the purposes of Robespierre,
and was brought by him to the guillotine on April 5, 1794.

The triumvirate of the Reign of Terror was broken by his death and that
of Marat, who had fallen under the avenging knife of Charlotte Corday in
July, 1793. Robespierre was left sole director of the Revolution, being
president of the Committee of Public Safety, leader of the Jacobin Club,
favorite of the extreme terrorists, and lord and master of the
Convention, whose members were held in subjection by his violence and
their fears.

His dominion was not to be of long continuance. It was signalized by
such a frightful activity of the guillotine, in which multitudes of
innocent persons daily perished, that the terror which he produced was
quickly followed by indignation, and a combination of many of the
leading spirits of the Convention was formed against him. One after
another he had vanquished all his enemies, and stood alone. But he stood
on such a ghastly pyramid of the dead that he could not hope to maintain
his dangerous elevation. The voice of vengeance, long choked by terror,
at length began to rise against this wholesale executioner.

The outbreak was precipitated by a demand of Saint-Just, the most
prominent supporter of Robespierre, that a dictatorship should be
established in France, and that the "virtuous and inflexible, as well as
incorruptible citizen," Robespierre, should be made Dictator. It was a
declaration of war. Many of the members of the Convention knew that it
meant their death. Once give their terrible foe the extreme power which
this demand indicated, and every known enemy of Robespierre in France
would be doomed. Yet to oppose it was to oppose the Jacobins and the
revolutionary sections, the controlling powers in Paris. The boldest
members of the Convention might well pause and tremble before assailing
their seemingly impregnable foe. But the rule of Robespierre had been
opposed in committee; it had ceased to be a secret that he had enemies
in the Convention; as yet the sentiment against him had spoken only in
the dark, but the time was rapidly approaching when an open struggle
could no longer be avoided.

Robespierre himself began the battle. He said to a deputation from
Aisne, "In the situation in which it now is, gangrened by corruption,
and without power to remedy it, the Convention can no longer save the
republic; both will perish together."

He repeated this accusation before the Convention itself, in a
threatening speech, in which he declared that there was in its midst a
conspiracy against public liberty; there were traitors in the national
councils; the Convention must be purged and purified; the conspirators
must be punished. His words were listened to in sullen silence. When he
had ceased no word was spoken, except in whispers from member to member.
The glove of defiance had been cast into their midst; were there none
among them with the courage to take it up, or must they all yield
themselves as the slaves or the victims of this merciless autocrat? No;
there were men of courage and patriotism left. Three delegates rose
simultaneously, three voices struggled for precedence in the right to
attack the tyrant and dare the worst.

"The man who has made himself master of everything, the man who
paralyzes our will, is he who has just spoken--Robespierre!" cried
Cambon, in ringing tones of defiance.

"It is Robespierre! It is Robespierre," came from other unsealed voices.
"Let him give an account of the crimes of the members whose death he
demanded from the Jacobins."

The attack was so unexpected and so vehement that Robespierre hesitated
to reply.

"You who pretend to have the courage of virtue, have the courage of
truth," cried Charlier; "name the individuals you accuse."

Tumult and confusion followed these daring words. Robespierre, unable to
gain the ear of the assembly, which now seemed filled with his enemies,
and finding the feeling against him rapidly spreading, left the hall and
took refuge with the Jacobins, where he repeated his address, this time
to applauding hearers. Violent councils followed. Henriot, commandant of
the troops, proposed to march on the Convention and put an end to its
existence. "Name thy enemies," shouted the members to Robespierre; "we
will deliver them to thee." Yet there was hesitation and doubt among the
leaders; they feared the result of violent measures, and felt inclined
to temporize and wait.

The Convention met the next day. It met inspired with a new spirit.
Courage animated the members. They had crossed the Rubicon, and felt
that there was no return. During the interval since the last session
their forces had been organized, their plans considered. Saint-Just
appeared and sought to speak. He was interrupted and his words drowned
by the voices of indignant members.

"I see here," cried Billaud-Varennes, who stood beside him, "one of the
men who yesterday, at the Jacobins, promised the massacre of the
National Convention; let him be arrested."

The officers obeyed this order. Saint-Just was in custody. Billaud
continued his remarks, declaring that the members were in danger of
massacre, denouncing Robespierre and his supporters, bidding them to be
firm and resolute. His boldness infected the assembly; the deputies
stood up and waved their hats, shouting their approval. In the midst of
this scene Robespierre appeared, livid with rage, his eyes flashing with
the fury which inspired him.

"I demand liberty to speak," he exclaimed.

"Down with the tyrant!" rose in a roar from a hundred voices.

Tallien, the leader of the opposition, sprang into the tribune.

"I demand that the veil be torn away instantly," he exclaimed. "The work
is done, the conspirators are unmasked. Yesterday, at the Jacobins, I
saw the army of the new Cromwell formed, and I have come here armed with
a dagger to pierce his heart if the Assembly dares not decree his
accusation. I demand the arrest of Henriot and his staff."

The debate went on, growing more violent minute by minute. Several times
Robespierre strove to speak, but each time his voice was drowned in
cries of "Down with the tyrant!" Pale with rage and fear, he turned from
his opponents towards his former supporters, both hands nervously
clutching the tribune.

"It is to you, pure and virtuous men," he said, "that I address myself.
I do not talk with scoundrels."

"Down with the tyrant!" was the response of the members addressed.
Evidently the whole assembly had turned against him.

Henriot, the president, rang his bell for order.

"President of assassins," cried Robespierre, in a voice that grew
feebler, "I once more demand liberty to speak."

"The blood of Danton is choking him!" cried Garnier de l'Aude.

"Shall this man longer remain master of the Convention?" asked Charles

"Let us make an end! A decree! a decree!" shouted Lasseau.

"A tyrant is hard to strike down!" exclaimed Fréron.

Robespierre stood in the midst of his circle of enemies, assailed on all
sides, nervously turning in his hands an open knife.

"Send me to death!" he ejaculated.

"You have merited it a thousand times," cried his foes. "Down with the

In the midst of the tumult a decree for his arrest was offered and
carried. In it were included the names of his brother, of Couthon, and
of Saint-Just. Henriot proclaimed the decree, while wild acclamations of
triumph shook the room.

"Long live liberty! Long live the republic! Down with the tyrants! To
the bar with the accused!" came from the lips of those who the day
before had not dared to speak. The floodgates were down and the torrent
of long repressed fury was rushing on the accused. The exciting scene
ended in the removal of the prisoners, who were taken to separate

Tidings of what had taken place in the Convention ran like wildfire
through Paris. Thousands of households were inspired with hope. The
terrorists were filled with fury and dismay. The Commune and the
Jacobins swore to support Robespierre. The tocsin peal rang out; the
people gathered; the gates of Paris were closed; Henriot, half drunk,
galloped along the streets, crying out that the representatives of the
people were being massacred; an insurrection against the Convention was
rapidly organized, headed by desperate men, among them Robespierre
himself, who was again free, having been taken from the hands of the

All was in peril. The Convention had assembled again, but had taken no
steps in self-defence. Startling tidings were brought to the members in
quick succession. It was said that the National Guard was coming with
artillery, to direct it against the hall. The roar of the insurrection
filled street and building. For the time it looked as if Robespierre had
conquered, and all was at an end.

"I propose," cried Elie Lacoste, "that Henriot be outlawed."

As he spoke these words, the man named stood in the street without,
ordering the artillerists, whose cannon were trained upon the Convention
hall, to fire. The gunners hesitated. It was a critical moment. The fate
of France hung in the balance. A group of the deputies came hastily from
the hall and faced Henriot and his men.

"What are you doing, soldiers?" they exclaimed. "That man is a rebel,
who has just been outlawed."

The gunners lowered their matches. The Convention was saved. The
National Guard had deserted Robespierre. Henriot put spurs to his horse,
and fled at full gallop.

"Outlaw all who shall take arms against the Convention, or who shall
oppose its decrees," said Barère; "as well as those who have defied it
by eluding arrest."

This decree, repeated to the insurgents, completed their discomfiture.
Rapidly they dispersed. Public opinion had changed; the Convention had
triumphed. The gunners who had marched with the insurrection deserted
their pieces; and a few hours afterwards returned to them, to protect
the Convention.

The members of the Convention had run a serious risk in not taking
active steps to assemble their friends, and in thus giving so perilous
an opportunity to their enemies. This error was now retrieved; a section
of their supporters came together, commanded by Lèonard Bourdon and a
gendarme named Méda. They reached the Hôtel de Ville without opposition.
Méda entered it, crying, probably as a strategem, "Long live
Robespierre!" He reached the hall where the Jacobin leaders were
gathered in silent dismay around the fallen dictator. Robespierre sat at
a table, his head resting on his hand. Méda stepped towards him, pistols
in hand.

"Surrender, traitor!" he exclaimed.

"It is you who are a traitor," retorted Robespierre, "and I will have
you shot."

His words were barely spoken when Méda fired, his bullet shattering
Robespierre's lower jaw. It is well to state here, however, that in the
belief of many Robespierre shot himself.

This decided action created consternation in the room. The younger
Robespierre leaped from a window, receiving mortal injury from the fall.
Saint-Just turned towards Lebas and said to him, "Kill me."

"I have something better to do," answered Lebas, shooting himself
through the head.

A report from the stairway quickly followed. Méda with his second pistol
had shot Couthon and badly wounded him. The hall had suddenly become a
place of blood and death. The Jacobin chiefs, lately all-powerful, now
condemned, dead, or dying, presented a frightful spectacle. Two days
had changed the course of events in France. The Reign of Terror was at
an end.

Robespierre lay on a table, his head supported by a small deal box. The
blood flowed slowly from his mouth. He was silent, giving no sign of
pain or feeling. He was taken to the Conciergerie, whither other
prisoners of his faction were being brought. Saint-Just and Couthon were
already there.

Five o'clock came. The carts had drawn up as usual at the gate of the
prison, waiting for the condemned. This time there was a new spectacle
for the people, who had become wearied with executions, but were on the
alert for the fresh sensation promised them. It was no time to
temporize. The Convention had ordered the immediate execution of its
foes. As Robespierre, with a blood-stained cloth round his face, entered
the cart, there was a shout of joy and triumph from the assembled crowd.
The late all-powerful man had not a friend left.

On the scaffold the executioner tore the cloth from Robespierre's
wounded face. A terrible cry of pain followed, the first sign of
suffering he had given. In a minute more his head had fallen into the
gory basket, and France was avenged. It was the 28th of July, 1794, less
than four months after the death of Danton had left all the power in his
hands. In that and the following days one hundred and three executions
sealed the fate of the defeated enemies of the Convention. Justice had
been done; the Terror was at an end.


From west to east across Europe had marched the army of the great
conqueror, no nation daring to draw a hostile sword, none venturing to
place an obstacle in its path. Across Russia it had marched almost as
triumphantly, breaking irresistibly through the dams of armed men in its
way, sweeping onward with the strength and majesty of fate. At length it
had reached the heart of the empire of the czars, and before it lay
displayed the ancient capital of the Muscovite kings, time-honored

This great city was revealed to the eyes of the weary soldiers with the
suddenness of a mirage in the desert. Throughout that day an
interminable outreach of level country had seemed to spread before them,
dreary, uninviting, disheartening. Now, from the summit of a hill, their
triumphant eyes gazed suddenly upon the roofs and spires of a mighty
city, splendid, far-reaching, stretching far across the plain that lay
revealed before their eyes. It seemed to them truly as if the hand of a
magician had touched the desert, and caused this city to spring up
across their path.

It was a remarkable spectacle that met their gaze. Here were visible
what seemed hundreds of gilded domes and shining spires, thousands of
habitations rich with varied colors, a strange compound of palaces and
cottages, churches and bell-towers, woods and lakes, Western and
Oriental architecture, the Gothic arches and spires of Europe mingled
with the strange forms of Byzantine and Asiatic edifices. Outwardly, a
line of monasteries flanked with towers appeared to encircle the city.
Centrally, crowning an eminence, rose a great citadel, from whose towers
one could look down on columned temples and imperial palaces, embattled
walls crowned with majestic domes, from whose summits, above the
reversed crescent, rose the cross, Russia's emblem of conquest over the
fanatical sectaries of the East. It was the Kremlin which they here
beheld, the sacred centre of the Russian empire, the ancient
dwelling-place and citadel of the czars.

A wild cry of wonder and triumph burst from the soldiers who had first
reached the summit of the hill. "Moscow! Moscow!" they shouted, their
imaginations strongly excited by the magnificent spectacle. This cry
lent wings to those behind them. In crowding hosts the eager soldiers
rushed up the long slope, all ranks mingling in their burning desire to
gaze upon that great city which was the goal of their far-extended
march. Deep were the emotions, intense the joy, with which they gazed on
this dazzling vision, with all its domes and spires burning in the warm
rays of the sun. Napoleon himself, who hastened to the spot, was struck
with admiration, and new dreams of glory doubtless sprang up in his soul
as he stood gazing with deep emotion on what must have seemed to him the
key of the East, the gateway to conquests never yet surpassed by man.
Little did he dream that it was ruin upon which he gazed, the fatal
turning-point in his long career of victory. Still certain of his
genius, still confident in his good fortune, he looked forward to new
conquests which would throw those of the past into the shade, and as his
eyes rested on that mighty city of the czars, the intoxication of glory
filled his soul.

The conqueror gave but little time to these dreams. The steps to realize
them must be taken. Murat was bidden to march forward quickly and to
repress all disorders which might break out in the city. Denniée was
ordered to hasten and arrange for the food and lodging of the soldiers.
Durosnel received orders to communicate with the authorities, to calm
their fears, and to lead them to the conqueror, that he might receive
their homage. Fancying that the inhabitants awaited his coming in
trembling fear, Napoleon halted until these preliminaries should be
arranged, before making his triumphant entry into the conquered capital
of Muscovy.

Murat, at the head of the light cavalry, galloped rapidly forward,
quickly reaching the bridge over the Moskowa. Here he found a rear-guard
of the Russian army, in rapid retreat. The meeting was not a hostile
one; Murat rode to the Russian line, and asked if there was an officer
among them who spoke French. A young Russian immediately presented
himself, and asked him what he wanted.

"Who is the commander of this rear-guard?" he asked.

The Russian pointed to a white-haired officer, who wore a long cloak of
fur. Murat advanced and held out his hand. The officer took and pressed
it warmly.

"Do you know me?" asked the Frenchman.

"Yes," answered the Russian, courteously; "we have seen enough of you
under fire to know you."

A short colloquy succeeded, during which Murat could not keep his eyes
from the officer's fur cloak, which looked as if it would be very
comfortable in a winter bivouac. The Russian, noticing his looks, took
off the mantle and offered it to him, begging him to accept it as a
present from an admiring foe. Murat courteously accepted it, and in
return presented the officer with a beautiful and valuable watch, which
was accepted in the same spirit of courteous good-will.

The Russian officer now joined his men, who were filing rapidly away,
and Murat rode onward into the streets of the captured city, his staff
and a detachment of cavalry accompanying him. Through street after
street he passed, here finding himself moving between rows of narrow
wooden houses, there through avenues bordered by palatial residences,
which rose from rich and ample gardens, but all silent and seemingly

The city was there, but where were the people? Solitude surrounded him.
Not an inhabitant was to be seen. It seemed a city of the dead. Into
Berlin, Vienna, and other capitals had the French army entered, but
never had it seen anything like this utter solitude. The inhabitants, so
the surprised soldiers fancied, must be cowering in terror within their
houses. This desolation could not continue. Moscow was known as one of
the most bustling cities in Europe. As soon as the people learned that
no harm was meant them, the streets would again swarm with busy life.
Hugging this flattering opinion to his soul, Murat rode on, threading
the silent city.

Ah! here were some of the people. A few distracted individuals had
appeared in the streets. Murat rode up to them, to find that they were
French, belonging to the foreign colony of Moscow. They begged piteously
for protection from the robbers, who, they said, had become masters of
the town. They told Murat more than this, destroying the pleasant
picture of a submissive and contented population with which he had
solaced his mind. The population had fled, they said; no one was left in
the city except a few strangers and some Russians who knew the ways of
the French and did not fear them. In their place was a crew of thieves
and bandits whom the Count of Rostopchin had let loose on deserted
Moscow, emptying the prisons and setting these convicts free to ravage
the city at their will.

Further evidence of this disheartening story was soon forthcoming. When
the French approached the Kremlin they were saluted by a discharge of
musketry. Some of the villanous crew had invaded the capitol, seized on
the guns in the arsenal, and were firing on the invaders. A few minutes
settled this last effort in the defence of Moscow. The citadel was
entered at a charge, several of the villanous crew were sabred, and the
others put to flight. The French had the town, but it was an empty one,
its only inmates being thieves and strangers.

The next morning, September 15, 1812, Napoleon made his triumphal march
into Moscow, at the head of his conquering legions. But for the first
time in his career of victory he found himself in the streets of a
deserted city, advancing through empty avenues, to whose windows the
tread of marching feet called not an eye to witness the triumph of
France. It was a gloomy and threatening impression which was experienced
by the grand army in its progress through those silent and lifeless
streets. The ancient city of the czars seemed a body without a soul.

But if the people were gone, their dwellings remained. Moscow was taken,
with all its palaces and treasures. It was a signal conquest. Napoleon
hastened to the Kremlin, mounted to the top of the lofty tower of Ivan,
and from its height looked with eyes of pride on the far-extending city.
It was grand, that vision of palatial mansions, but it was mournful in
its silence and gloom, the tramp of soldiery its only sound, the flutter
of multitudes of birds--ravens and crows, which haunted the city in
thousands--its only sign of life. Two days before Moscow had been one of
the busiest cities in the world. Now it was the most silent. But the
conqueror had this satisfaction, that while abandoned like other Russian
towns, it was not burned like them, he might find here winter-quarters
for his army and by mild measures lure the frightened people back to
their homes again. Comforted with this hopeful view, Napoleon descended
the stairs again, filled with confidence and triumph.

His confidence was misplaced. Disaster lowered upon the devoted city. On
the day succeeding his entrance a column of flame suddenly appeared,
rising from a large building in which was stored an abundant supply of
spirits. The soldiers ran thither without thought of alarm, fancying
that this was due to some imprudence on the part of their own men. In a
short time the fire was mastered, and a feeling of confidence returned.

But immediately afterwards a new fire broke out in a great collection of
buildings called the Bazaar, in which were the richest shops of the
city, filled with costly goods, the beautiful fabrics of Persia and
India, and rare and precious commodities from all quarters of the world.
Here the flames spread with extraordinary rapidity, consuming the
inflammable goods with frightful haste, despite the frantic efforts of
the soldiers to arrest their progress. Despairing of success, they
strove to save something from the vast riches of the establishment,
carrying out furs, costly wines, valuable tissues, and other precious
treasures. Such as remained of the people of the town aided in these
efforts, in the natural desire to save something from the flames.

Until now all this seemed ordinary accident, and no one dreamed that
these fires were the result of hostile design. They were soon to learn
more of the unconquerable determination of the Russians. During the
following night the wind rose suddenly, and carried the flames of the
burning Bazaar along several of the most beautiful streets of Moscow,
the fire spreading rapidly among the wooden buildings, and consuming
them with alarming rapidity.

But this was not the most disturbing indication. Rockets were seen in
the distance, ascending into the air, and immediately afterwards fire
broke out in a dozen quarters, and hired bandits were seen carrying
combustibles at the end of long poles, and seeking to extend the empire
of the flames. A number of these were arrested, and under threat of
death revealed a frightful secret. The Count of Rostopchin had ordered
that the great city of Moscow should be set on fire and burned, with as
little heed for the immense loss involved as he would have had in
ordering the burning of a wayside village.

The news filled the whole army with consternation. Waiting till the wind
had risen, the ferocious count had sent up his signal-rockets to order
the work to begin. He had done more. On running to the pumps to obtain
water to extinguish the flames, there were none to be found. They had
been removed and the fire-extinguishing apparatus destroyed in
preparation for this incendiary work.

Napoleon, alarmed and incensed, ordered that all caught in the act of
firing buildings should be executed on the spot. The army was directed
to use every effort to extinguish the flames. But the high wind set all
their efforts at defiance. It increased in fury and varied in direction,
carrying the conflagration over new quarters. From the Kremlin could be
seen vast columns of fire, shooting from building to building, wrapping
the wooden structures in lurid sheets of flame, sweeping destruction
forward at frightful speed. The roar of the flames, the explosions that
from time to time took place, the burning fragments which filled the
air, borne on the wings of the wind, all went to make a scene as grand
and fearful as human eye has ever gazed upon. To Napoleon and his men,
who saw their hopes of safe and pleasant winter-quarters thus vanishing
in flame, it must have been a most alarming and disquieting spectacle.

After blowing for some hours from the north-west, the wind shifted to
the south-west, and the conflagration invaded new regions of the city.
The Kremlin, hitherto out of the range of the flames, was now in danger.
Fiery sparks, borne by the wind, fell on its roof and in its court-yard.
The most frightful danger of the whole night now threatened the
imperilled army. In the court-yards of the Kremlin had been placed more
than four hundred wagons of ammunition; in its arsenal were a hundred
thousand pounds of powder. Should the flames reach these, Napoleon and
his guards would be blown into the air.

All who were near him pressed him to hasten from this imminent peril.
General Lariboisière begged him to fly, as a duty which he owed to his
army. Officers who came in from the streets reported that it was almost
impossible to pass through the avenues of the town, and that delay would
increase the danger. To remain where they were much longer might render
escape impossible.

Napoleon, convinced by these words, left the Kremlin, after some
twenty-four hours' possession of this old palace of the czars, and
descended to the quay of the Moskowa, where he found his horses awaiting
him. Mounting, he rode through the fire-invaded streets towards the
north-west, but with no little difficulty and danger, for the flames
from the other quarters of the city were now spreading here.

The wind seemed steadily to increase in violence, torrents of smoke,
cinders, and sparks were driven down into the streets; sheets of flame
seemed to bend downward as if to sweep the ground; on every side the
troops were flying for their lives, on every side the conflagration
pursued them; it was through imminent peril that the grand army, which
on the morning before had marched so triumphantly into that abandoned
city, now succeeded in gaining a safe location outside, whence they
could look back in despair on that hell of flames in which their dearest
hopes were being consumed.

A small number of the inhabitants who had remained concealed in their
houses now came out, carrying away with them what treasures they most
esteemed; in some cases, women their children, men their aged parents;
many of them barely saving their clothes, and disputing the possession
of even these with the band of robbers whom Rostopchin had let loose,
and who, like spirits of evil, danced with glee in the midst of the
terrible conflagration which had been kindled by their hands.

So ended one of the most startling events in history,--the burning of a
great city to dispossess a victorious foe. It proved successful. When
Napoleon left the Kremlin on that fearful night he began his downward
career. The conflagration, it is true, did not drive him at once from
Moscow. He lingered for more than a month amid its ruins, in the vain
hope that the czar would ask him for terms of peace. But the czar kept
silent, the city was untenable for winter-quarters, and retreat became
imperative. When, at length, the grand army marched, winter marched with
it,--a winter such as even Russia had rarely seen. Napoleon had delayed
too long. The north gathered its forces and swooped upon his shivering
ranks, with death in its blasts. The Russians, recovering from their
losses, rushed upon his freezing columns, pouring destruction upon them
as they marched. All was at an end. The great victor's tide of success
had definitely turned. He had entered Russia with nearly half a million
of men; hardly a tenth part of this great army followed him from that
fatal land.


All was quiet in Elba. Nothing was talked of at Porto-Ferrajo but the
ball to be given by Pauline, the sister of Napoleon, who had exchanged
his imperial dominion over half Europe for kingship over that little
Mediterranean island. Evening came. The fête was a brilliant one.
Napoleon was present, gay, cheerful, easy, to all appearance fully
satisfied with his little kingdom, and without thought of wider empire
or heavier cares. He stayed till a late hour, and went home with two of
his old generals, Bertrand and Drouet, to tell them the news which had
come to him from the continent. This news was not altogether to his
liking. The Congress at Vienna had decreed his transportation to the
Azores. Elba was too near France.

Such was the state of affairs on the night of February 25, 1815. At
sunset of the next day there might have been seen a small flotilla
moving before a south wind along the shores of Elba. It consisted of a
brig, the Inconstant by name, a schooner, and five smaller vessels. The
brig evidently carried guns. The decks of the other vessels were crowded
with men in uniform. On the deck of the Inconstant stood Napoleon, his
face filled with hope and joy, his hand waving an adieu to his sister
Pauline, who watched him from the château windows, on the island shore.

The next day came. The sea was motionless. Not a breath of wind could be
felt. The island was still close at hand. At a distance might be seen
the French and English cruisers which guarded that side of the island,
now moveless upon a moveless sea. It was doubtful if the flotilla had
not better return. But the wind rose again, and their progress was

Four in the afternoon found them off the heights of Leghorn. Five
leagues to leeward lay one frigate; near the shores of Corsica was
another; to windward could be seen a third, making its way towards the
flotilla. It was the Zephyr, of the French navy, commanded by Captain
Andrieux. Now had come a vital moment in the enterprise. Should the
Emperor declare himself and seek to gain over Andrieux? It was too
dangerous a venture; he bade the grenadiers on the deck to conceal
themselves; it was a situation in which strategy seemed better than
boldness. At six the two vessels were close together. Lieutenant
Taillade of the Inconstant knew and saluted Captain Andrieux. A
speaking-trumpet colloquy followed.

"Where are you bound?" asked Taillade.

"To Leghorn. And you?"

"To Genoa. Have you any commissions I can execute there?"

"Thanks, not any. How is the Emperor?"

"Very well."

"So much the better."

The two vessels moved on, and soon lost sight of each other in the
growing darkness. The other frigates had disappeared.

The next day dawned. There was visible a large frigate in the distance,
but it was not moving towards the flotilla. No danger was to be feared
from this source. But the vessel's head had been turned to the
southward, to Taillade's surprise.

"Gentlemen," he called to the officers on the bridge, "are we bound for
Spain or for Africa?"

Napoleon, who had perceived the same thing, summoned Taillade from his
conference with the officers.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"Sire, we are headed for Africa."

"I don't wish to go there. Take me to France."

"Your Majesty shall be there before noon to-morrow."

The face of Napoleon beamed on hearing these words. He turned to the
soldiers of the Old Guard who accompanied him, and said,--

"Yes, grenadiers, we are going to France, to Paris." Enthusiastic
"_vivas_" followed his announcement, which told a tale of future glory
to those war-hardened veterans. They had fought for the Emperor on many
a mighty field. They were ready to dare new dangers in the hope of new

On the morning of Wednesday, March 1, the shores of France were visible
from the vessel's deck. At three in the afternoon anchor was dropped in
the Bay of Juan. Cheers and salvos of artillery greeted those welcome
shores; the boats were quickly dropped, and by five o'clock the whole
expedition was on shore. The soldiers made their bivouac in an olive
grove on the borders of the bay.

"Happy omen!" said Napoleon; "the olive is the emblem of peace."

He plucked some violets, and then sat down and consulted his maps, which
were spread on a table before him. There were two routes which might be
taken; an easy one through Provence, and a difficult one over the snowy
mountains of Dauphiny. But on the former he could not count on the
loyalty of the people; on the latter he could: the difficult route was

It proved a cold and wearying journey. The men were obliged to march in
single file along narrow roads which bordered precipices. Several mules,
one of them laden with gold, lost their footing and were plunged down
the cliff. Napoleon was forced to dismount and go on foot to keep warm.
For a short time he rested beside the brush-wood fire of a cabin whose
only tenant was an old woman.

"Have you any news from Paris?" he asked her. "Do you know what the king
is doing?"

"The king? You mean the Emperor," answered the old woman. "He is always
down yonder."

So, here was a Frenchwoman who had not heard a word of the last year's
doings. Was this the stuff of glory? Napoleon looked at General Drouet,
and said, in pensive tones, "Do you hear this, Drouet? What, after all,
is the good of troubling the world in order to fill it with our name?"

We cannot follow their progress step by step. That small army of a
thousand men was marching to conquer a kingdom, but for days it had only
the mountains and the snows to overcome. As yet not a soldier had been
encountered, and they had been a week on shore. But the news of the
landing had now spread far and wide, and soldiers were marching to stop
the advance of the "Brigand of Elba," as the royalists in Paris called
Napoleon. How would they receive him,--with volleys or acclamations?
That was soon to be learned. The troops in that part of France were
concentrated at Grenoble and its vicinity. The Emperor was approaching
them. The problem would soon be solved.

At nine o'clock of March 7 Napoleon separated his small force into three
divisions, himself taking station in the midst of the advance-guard, on
horseback, wearing his famous gray overcoat and the broad ribbon of the
Legion of Honor. About one o'clock the small battalion approached a
regiment of the troops of the king, who were drawn up in line across the
road. Napoleon dismounted.

"Colonel Mallet," he said, "tell the soldiers to put their weapons under
their left arms, points down."

"Sire," said the colonel, "is it not dangerous to act thus in presence
of troops whose sentiments we do not know, and whose first fire may be
so fatal?"

"Mallet, tell them to put the weapons under their arms," repeated

The order was obeyed. The two battalions faced each other, at short
pistol-shot, in absolute silence. Napoleon advanced alone towards the
royal troops.

"Present arms!" he commanded.

They obeyed, levelling their guns at their old commander. He advanced
slowly, with impassive face. Reaching their front, he touched his cap
and saluted.

"Soldiers of the Fifth," he cried, loudly, "do you recognize me?"

"Yes, yes," came from some voices, filled with barely-repressed

"Soldiers, behold your general; behold your emperor," he continued. "Let
any of you who wishes to kill him, fire."

Fire?--Their guns went to the earth; they flung themselves on their
knees before him, called him father, shed tears, shouted as if in
frenzy, waved their shakos on their bayonets and sabres.

"All is over," said Napoleon to Bertrand and Drouet. "In ten days we
shall be in the Tuileries."

In a brief time the Emperor moved on, the king's regiment, now wearing
the tricolor cockade, following with his former troop. As they drew near
Grenoble throngs of peasantry gathered, with enthusiastic cheers.
Another regiment approached, the seventh of the line, commanded by
Colonel de Labédoyère. He had taken the eagle of the regiment from a
chest, brandished his sword, and crying "Long live the Emperor! Those
who love me follow me!" led the way from Grenoble. The whole regiment
followed. Meeting Napoleon, the colonel and the Emperor sprang from
their horses and warmly embraced.

"Colonel," said Napoleon, "it is you who will replace me on the throne."

It was night when they reached Grenoble. The royalist authorities had
closed the gates, but the ramparts were thronged with men. The darkness
was profound, but Labédoyère called out loudly,--

"Soldiers, it is I, Labédoyère, colonel of the Seventh. We bring you
Napoleon. He is yonder. It is for you to receive him and to repeat with
us the rallying-cry of the former conquerors of Europe: Live the

His words were followed by a ringing shout from the ramparts. Many ran
to the gates. Finding them closed and barred they furiously attacked
them with axes, while the peasants outside hammered on them as fiercely.
Thus doubly assailed they soon gave way, and the stream of new-comers
rushed in, torches and flambeaux illuminating the scene. Napoleon had no
little difficulty in making his way through the crowd, which was
delirious with joy, and reaching an inn, the Three Dauphins, where he
designed to pass the night.

On the 9th he left Grenoble, followed by six thousand of his old
soldiers. His march was an ovation. He reached Lyons on the 10th.
Several regiments had been collected here to oppose him, but they all
trampled the white cockade of the king underfoot, assumed the tricolor,
and fraternized with the Emperor's troops.

Marshal Ney was the only hope left to the royalists. He had, they said,
promised Louis XVIII. to bring back Napoleon in an iron cage. This hope
vanished when Ney issued a proclamation beginning, "The cause of the
Bourbons is lost forever;" which was followed, on March 18, by his
embracing the Emperor openly at Auxerre.

All was over for Louis XVIII. Near midnight of March 19 some travelling
carriages rolled away from the court-yard of the Touileries in a torrent
of rain, and amid a furious wind-storm that extinguished the carriage
lights. It was Louis XVIII. going into exile. On the 20th, at nine
o'clock in the evening, the Emperor Napoleon drove through the streets
of Paris towards the abandoned palace through hosts of shouting soldiers
and a population that was wild with joy. The officers tore him from his
carriage and carried him on their arms, kissing his hands, embracing his
old gray overcoat, not letting his feet touch ground till they had borne
him to the foot of the grand stairway of the Tuileries.

It was twenty days since he had landed, and France was his, the people,
the soldiers, alike mad with delight, none, to all appearance, dreaming
of what renewed miseries this ill-omened return of their worshipped
emperor meant.

It meant, as we now know, bloodshed, slaughter, and ruin; it meant
Waterloo and St. Helena; it meant a hundred days of renewed empire, and
then the final end of the power of the great conqueror. On August 7,
less than five months from the date of the triumphant entry to the
Tuileries, Napoleon stepped on board the British frigate Northumberland,
to be borne to the far-off isle of St. Helena, his future home.

Twenty-five years after the date of these events Napoleon returned again
to France, but under very different auspices from those described. On
the 29th of November, 1840, there anchored at Cherbourg, amid the
salutes of forts and ships, a French war-vessel called the Belle Poule,
on which were the mortal remains of the great conqueror, long since
conquered by death, and now brought back to the land over which he had
so long reigned. On December 8 the coffin was transferred to the steamer
Normandie, amid a salute of two thousand guns, and taken by it to the
Seine. On December 15 the coffin, placed on a splendid car drawn by
sixteen horses, moved in solemn procession through the streets of Paris,
attended by the noblest escort the city could provide, and passing
through avenues thronged with adoring multitudes, who forgot the
injuries the great soldier had done to France and remembered only his
fame. The funeral train was received by King Louis Philippe, the royal
family, and all the high dignitaries of the government at the Church of
the Invalides, in which a noble and worthy final resting-place had been
prepared for the corpse of the once mighty emperor. "Napoleon," says
Bourrienne, "had again and finally conquered. While every throne in
Europe was shaking, the Great Conqueror came to claim and receive from
posterity the crown for which he had sacrificed so much. In the
Invalides the Emperor had at last found a resting-place, 'by the banks
of the Seine, among the French people whom he had loved so well.'"


There have been two critical periods in the story of France in which
history was made at a rate of rapidity rarely equalled in the history of
the world. The first of these was the era of the Revolution and the
Napoleonic régime, which has no parallel among human events in the
rapidity and momentous gravity of its changes. The second was the period
from August, 1870, to the summer of 1871, less than a year in length,
yet crowded with important events to an unprecedented degree.

Within that year was fought a great war between France and Germany, in
which the military power of France, in an incredibly brief period, was
utterly overthrown, and that nation left at the mercy of its opponent.
Within the same period the second empire of France came to a sudden and
disastrous end, and a republic, the third in French history, was built
upon its ruins. Simultaneously a new and powerful empire was founded,
that of Germany, the palace at Versailles being the scene of this highly
important change in the political conditions of Europe. During this
period also a political revolution took place in Italy, in consequence
of the French war, and Paris sustained two sieges; the first by the
German army; the second and most bitter by the French themselves,
fighting against a mob of fanatical revolutionists and ending in a
frightful saturnalia of murder, ruin and revenge.

Has there ever been a year in the world's history more crowded with
momentous events? Within that year the political status of France,
Germany, and Italy was transformed, the late emperor of France suddenly
found himself a throneless fugitive, and the people of Paris passed
through an experience unparalleled in the diversified history of that
ancient city. Of all the sieges to which Paris has been subjected, far
the strangest was that in which the scum of the city, miscalled the
commune, fought with tiger-like ferocity against the forces of the
newly-formed republic, filled with the revengeful and murderous spirit
which had inspired the masses in the first revolution.

It is the story of this tragic interlude which we propose here to tell,
premising with a brief résumé of the events which led up to it.

Louis Napoleon, posing as Emperor Napoleon III. of France, a position
which he had been enabled to gain through the glamour of the name of his
famous uncle, was infected throughout his reign with the desire to
emulate the deeds of the great Napoleon. He hoped to shine as one of the
military stars of Europe, and was encouraged by the success of the war
which he fomented in Italy. His second effort in this direction was the
invasion of Mexico and the attempt to establish an empire, under his
tutelage, upon American soil. In this he ran counter to the Monroe
Doctrine and the power of the United States and was forced to retire
with his feathers scorched and his prestige sadly diminished.

But what he probably proposed to make the great military triumph of his
reign came in 1870, when, on a flimsy pretence, a misunderstanding which
called only for diplomatic adjustment, he suddenly declared war against
Germany and rashly put his armies into the field to cope with that
powerful rival. Never had there been a more unwise or suicidal
proceeding. In shameful ignorance of the real condition of the army,
which he was made to believe was "five times ready," "ready to the last
gaiter button," he marshalled against the thoroughly prepared military
power of Germany an army ill-organized, ill-supplied, without proper
reserves, and led by commanders of appalling incapacity. Maps and plans
were bad; strategy was an unknown quantity; no study had been made of
the use of the railway in war; almost everything except courage was
lacking, and courage without leadership was hopeless against the
thoroughly drilled and supplied German army and the science of Yon
Moltke, the great German strategist.

Had it been the first Napoleon, he would have made himself sure
personally as to "the last gaiter button" and all other details, but
with sublime self-satisfaction and inane blindness the Second Napoleon
put himself at the head of this unready army, inspired apparently with
the "on to Berlin" confidence of the cheering Parisian mob.

He was to be awakened suddenly and painfully from his dream of victory
and military fame. The first collision of the two armies took place on
August 2. On September 2, just one month later, the derelict emperor was
a prisoner of war in the hands of the King of Prussia, together with his
army of more than 80,000 men. He had proved an utter failure as a
commander, a mere encumbrance, without a plan of campaign, a conception
of leadership, or an idea of strategic movements. Recognizing, when too
late, his incapacity, he had resigned the general command to Marshal
Bazaine, who withdrew with a large army into Metz, and subsequently, in
a northward movement for Bazaine's relief, he found himself surrounded
at Sedan by an irresistible force and was obliged to surrender to save
his army from impending annihilation.

Such was the first act in this lugubrious drama. Two days later, on
September 4, France was proclaimed a republic. Before the end of October
Bazaine surrendered Metz to the Germans and his great army of 180,000
men was lost to France. The military force of France was vanishing with
alarming rapidity. Another event of the period, of interest in this
connection, was the loss of the temporal power of the pope, above
alluded to. The papacy had been defended by Napoleon III. against the
Italian revolutionists, and the withdrawal of the French force from Rome
left that city open to the army of Victor Emmanuel. It was occupied in
September and became the capital of the new kingdom of Italy. In
December another important event took place, the King of Prussia being
proclaimed at Versailles the head of a new empire of Germany, which
embraced all the German states except Austria.

Events of great moment, as may be seen, were occurring with startling
rapidity. Before the surrender of Bazaine the advance of the German army
had appeared before Paris and on September 19 the siege of that city
began. Soon it was so closely invested that food could not enter and the
only way out was by balloon. The German bombardment did little damage to
the great city, which was defended obstinately. But the Germans had a
powerful ally within, where the grisly demon of famine threatened the

Meanwhile Gambetta, the most ardent patriot left to France, was seeking
with nervous energy to raise fresh armies in the south; Garibaldi, his
sword free from duty in Italy, had come to the aid of France; all
patriots were called to the ranks and a struggle of some importance took
place. But all this practically ceased on the 28th of January, 1871,
when an armistice brought the hopeless resistance of Paris to an end.
Almost at once the war died out on all sides, the Germans occupied all
the forts around Paris, and France lay at the mercy of Germany, after a
struggle of six months' duration.

The first siege of Paris had terminated; a second and more desperately
contested one was at hand. On March 13 the German army around Paris,
which had been given the triumph of a march into the conquered city,
set out on its return home and the authorities of the new republic
prepared to take possession of their freed capital.

They were to find the task one of unlooked-for difficulty. On March 18
the revolutionary element of the city rose _en masse_, organized under
the name of the Commune, took possession of Paris, and prepared to
defend it to the death against the leaders of the new-formed government,
whom they contemned as aristocrats.

The story of the Commune is a shameful and terrible one. Beginning in a
fraternization of the National Guard with the mob, its advent was sealed
with murder. In a contest on the 18th for the possession of some cannon
General Lecomte ordered his men to fire on the insurgents. They refused.
A gentleman standing in a crowd of angry men on the street corner said:
"General Lecomte is right." He was immediately seized and quickly
recognised as General Clément Thomas, a brave officer who had done
gallant service during the siege. This sufficed him nothing with the
mob. He and General Lecomte were at once dragged away to prison. At 4
o'clock that same day they were brought out by a party of the insurgent
National Guards, and after a mock trial were taken to a walled enclosure
and shot down in cold blood. They were the first victims of the mob,
which had early begun to burn its bridges behind it.

On the following day the leaders of the outbreak met at the
Hôtel-de-Ville. They all belonged to the International, a secret society
formed for the abolition of property, religion, rulers, government, and
the upper classes, and the reduction of the community to a state of
anarchy or something resembling it. They called upon the citizens to
meet in their sections and elect a commune--the new form of government
advocated by the Anarchists, in which destruction of all existing
institutions was to precede reconstruction from the bottom upwards.

Events now moved rapidly. A delegation from the few men of note left in
Paris proceeded to Versailles, where the government of the republic was
in session, and demanded that special municipal rights should be given
to the people of Paris. The refusal of this request precipitated the
insurrection. The furious people at once elected a revolutionary
government, choosing the most extreme of the revolutionists, who
organized what was called the Council of the Commune. This consisted of
eighty members, of varied nationality, seventy of them never having been
heard of in Paris before. They had risen from the bottom of the deep sea
of anarchy to assume control.

On the 3d of April the civil war broke out--Paris against Versailles,
the army under the Assembly of the republic against the National Guard
in sympathy with the Commune. The Germans, who still held two of the
forts in the vicinity of Paris, looked grimly on at the tragedy about to
be played upon the stage which their hands had erected.

The war began with murder. Dr. Pasquier, a distinguished surgeon,
bearing a flag of truce, met two National Guards on the bridge of
Courbevoie, near Neuilly, where the body of Napoleon had been brought
ashore thirty years before. After a brief debate one of the soldiers
ended the colloquy by blowing out the doctor's brains. As soon as
General Vinoy, in command of the army of order, heard of this murderous
act he ordered the guns of Fort Varélien to be turned upon the city.

On the following morning five columns of the troops of the Commune
marched out to take the fort, lured by the confident impression that the
soldiers under Vinoy would fraternize with them. They were mistaken. The
guns of Fort Varélien hurled death-dealing missiles into their columns
and they were quickly in full retreat. Flourens, a scientist of fame who
had joined their ranks, fell dead. Duval, one of their generals, was
captured and was quickly shot as a traitor. The other leaders were at
once sent to prison by the angry Council on their return and the Commune
ordered that Paris should be filled with barricades.

Though the Commune had imprisoned the unsuccessful generals, they were
infuriated at the execution of General Duval and sought in the
dignitaries of the church the most exalted hostages they could find
against such summary acts. On the night of the 6th Monseigneur Darboy,
Archbishop of Paris, his chaplain, and eight other priests were
arrested. The curé of the Madeleine and his vicar had before been
seized. Other priests were later taken into custody and the prison at
Mazas was well filled with these so-called hostages. The fury of the
leaders of the revolt led them to other excesses against religion, the
churches being closed, the arms cut from the crosses, and red flags hung
in their stead.

The outrages were not confined to the church. In the words of a resident
of Paris: "The motto of the Commune soon became fraternity of that sort
which means arrest of each other." Before the Council was two weeks old
many of its leading members had found their way to prison. Dissensions
had broken out in its midst, and the stronger victimized the weaker.

By April 7 a personage calling himself General Cluseret had, as some one
expressed it, "swallowed up the Commune." He called himself an American,
and had been in the Union service in the American civil war, but no one
knew where he was born. He had served in the Chasseurs d'Afrique and in
the Papal Zouaves, and after the fall of the Commune escaped from Paris
and became a general of the Fenians, nearly capturing Chester Castle in
their service.

This man became absolute dictator over the revolted city, with its two
million of inhabitants; yet after three weeks of this dictatorial rule
his star declined and he found himself in prison at Mazas, to which he
had sent so many others.

Leaving these details for the present, we must return to the war, which
was soon in full blast. The assault of April 4 repulsed, the guns of
Fort Varélien were opened upon the city and the second bombardment of
Paris in that memorable year began. The guns of its friends were more
destructive than those of its foes, the forts taking part in the
bombardment being much nearer the centre of the city. Their shells
damaged the Arch of Triumph, which the Prussians had spared; they fell
alike on homes, public buildings and churches; alike on men, women and
children, friend and foe.

Under order of General Cluseret, the dictator of the Commune, every man
was ordered to take part in the defence of the city. His neighbors were
required to see that he did so and to arrest him if he showed a
disposition to decline. For the seventy-three days that the power of the
Commune lasted Paris was a veritable pandemonium, the fighting, the
arrests, the bombardment keeping the excitement at an intense pitch. The
people deserted the streets, which were silent and empty, except for the
soldiers of the Commune--a disorderly crew in motley uniforms--the
movement of ammunition wagons, and the other scenes incident to a state
of war. But the usual swarming life of Paris had vanished. There was no
movement, scarcely any sound. The shop-windows were shut, many of them
boarded up, red flags hanging from a few, but as a rule the very
buildings seemed dead.

This is the story told by one observer, but another--perhaps at a
different period of the bombardment--speaks of well-dressed people
"loitering in the boulevards as if nothing were going on. The cafés,
indeed, were ordered to close their doors at midnight, but behind closed
shutters went on gambling, drinking and debauchery. After spending a
riotous night, fast men and women considered it a joke to drive out to
the Arch of Triumph and see how the fight was going on."

On the 9th of April the army of Versailles began to make active assaults
upon the forts held by the soldiers of the Commune, and with such effect
that confusion and dismay quickly pervaded its councils. As the struggle
went on the fury and spirit of retaliation of the insurgents increased.
New hostages were arrested, the palace of the archbishop was pillaged,
and in the first week of May the destruction of the house of M. Thiers,
the president of the republic, was decreed. It was a beautiful mansion,
filled with objects of art and valuable documents used by him in writing
his historical works. Some of these were removed, but most of them were
consumed by the flames. On the 12th of May the Commune, now inspired by
the spirit of destruction, ordered the levelling of the famous column in
the Place Vendôme, describing it as a symbol of brute force and false

This famous column, one hundred and thirty-five feet high, formed on the
model of Trajan's column at Rome, had been erected by Napoleon I., cast
from cannon taken from his foes, and surmounted by a statue of Napoleon
in his imperial robes. On May 16 this proud work of art fell, being
pulled down with a tremendous crash by the aid of ropes fastened to its
upper part. It is pleasant to be able to state that this fine work of
art has been restored. Its attempted destruction filled the army of
Versailles with a spirit of revenge, which led them, on their entering
Paris a few days later, to deal with the insurrectionists with brutal
and merciless energy. They had other and abundant cause for this
feeling, as the reader will perceive in the recital of the later deeds
of the desperate Commune.

By the date now reached the army of order was rapidly gaining ground.
The fort of Vauves was taken; that of Mont Rouge was dismantled;
breaches were opened in the barricades, and by the 20th of May the army
was in the streets and fighting its way onward against a desperate
defence. The carnage was frightful; Dambrowski, a Pole and the only able
general of the Commune, was killed; prisoners on both sides were shot
down without mercy; there were barricades in almost every street and
these were hotly defended, the courage of despair in their defenders
making the progress of the besieging army a slow and bloody one.

The rest of the story is all blood and horror. The desperate leaders of
the Commune determined that, if they must perish, Paris should be their
funeral pyre. On the night of May 24 the city became a scene of
incendiary rage. The Hôtel-de-Ville was in flames; the Palace of the
Tuileries was burning like a great furnace; the Palace of the Legion of
Honor, the Ministry of War, the Treasury were lurid volcanoes of flames;
on all sides the torch had been applied.

Not only these great public buildings, but many private houses were
consigned to the flames. All the sewers beneath Paris had been strewn
with torpedoes, bombs, and inflammable materials, connected with
electric wires, and the catacombs in the eastern quarter of the city
were similarly prepared. It was the intention of the desperate
revolutionists to blow up the city, but fortunately, before their
preparations were completed, the army of order was in control and
sappers and miners were sent underground to cut the electric wires
leading to these mines of death-dealing explosives.

But the capture of the city came too late to save the lives of many of
the "hostages" whom the Commune had sent to prison. Not content with
burning the architectural monuments of the city, as the last effort of
baffled rage they condemned these innocent victims of their wrath to
death. On Wednesday, May 24, the venerable archbishop and five others of
the imprisoned priests were taken from their cells and shot to death. On
Thursday fifty more, priests and others, were similarly slaughtered.

A large number of captives remained shut up in the prison of La
Roquette, around which, on Saturday the 27th, a yelling crowd gathered,
thirsting for their lives. They, knowing that their rescuers were
fighting within the city, determined to defend themselves and convert
the prison into a fortress. Poiret, one of the warders, horrified by
what had already been done, was the leader in the resolution, in which
he was joined by the Abbé Lamazan, who called out:

"Don't let us be shot, my friends; let us defend ourselves. Trust in
God; he is on our side."

The _sergents de ville_, captives in the story below, had made the same
resolution. They had no arms, but they barricaded the doors and resolved
to defend themselves from the murderous throng outside, howling for
their blood. Two guns and a mortar had been brought by the mob to fire
on the prison and the moment was critical.

Suddenly there came a lull in the uproar. Something had taken place. In
a few minutes more the crowd broke up and dispersed, dragging away the
guns they had brought. Word had reached them that the Council had fled
from its headquarters to Belleville and a sudden panic seized the mob.
Yet that night they returned, howling and cursing, while a barricade
near by was still held by the insurgents. But with the early dawn this
was abandoned, the mob melted away, and soon after a batallion of
rescuers marched up and took possession of the prison. The captives were
saved. Their resistance, seemingly so desperate, had proved successful.
That day, Sunday, May 28, ended the rule of the Commune. The Versailles
troops, who had been fighting their way steadily from street to street
since the 21st, completed their work, the whole great city was in their
hands, and the rule of the Commune was over.

The Commune had left devastation behind it. On every side were
smoldering ruins, including the great municipal buildings, the law
courts, and other public edifices, two theatres, eight whole streets,
and innumerable private houses, while the dead bodies of its victims lay
where they had been shot down. The soldiers, infuriated by the ruin
which they beheld on all sides, were savage in their revenge. Every man
seized whose hands were black with powder was instantly shot, many
innocent persons perishing, since numbers had been forced to the
barricades. The story of what took place during those bloody days of
retribution is too long to tell, and it must suffice to sum it up in the
frightful death roll of fourteen thousand persons--six thousand of them
killed in open fight, eight thousand executed in bitter revenge.

The executions over, the prisons were filled to bursting. Count Orsi
tells us that six hundred men were locked up in the wine cellars of
Versailles, forty-five feet underground. He himself, falsely seized
through the malice of an enemy, spent ten days in this horrible place
amid the scum of the insurgents. As for the members of the Council of
the Commune, some escaped, some were executed, others were transported
to New Caledonia, a lonely isle in the far Pacific--from which they were
subsequently freed when the hot blood of that year of revengeful
retribution cooled down.

Thus ends the remarkable story of that year of war, insurrection, and
devastation, the whole due to the overweening ambition of one man, Louis
Napoleon, who wished to shine as a great conqueror. The destiny of
France lay in his hand alone. He blindly decided upon war. The result
was the humiliation of France, the death of thousands of her sons, the
overthrow of her government, the frightful saturnalia of the rule of the
Commune, and the loss to France of two of her provinces, those of Alsace
and Lorraine, and a war indemnity of one thousand million dollars. Such
terrors march in the train of blind and unrestrained ambition.


[Illustration: FRIEDLAND.]


[Illustration: JOAN OF ARC AT ORLEANS.]

[Illustration: A DUEL OF KNIGHTS]

[Illustration: LOUIS XI.]





[Illustration: THE VOW OF CLOVIS.]




[Illustration: THE CITY OF MOSCOW.]





[Illustration: CITY OF ORLEANS.]


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