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Title: King René d'Anjou and his Seven Queens
Author: Staley, Edgcumbe
Language: English
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KING RENÉ D’ANJOU AND HIS SEVEN QUEENS


[Illustration: THE CEREMONIOUS ENTRY OF THE “LADY OF THE CREST” SAUMUR
TOURNAMENT 1446

From “Le Livre des Tournois” Painted by King René]


KING RENÉ D’ANJOU AND HIS SEVEN QUEENS

by

EDGCUMBE STALEY

Author of
“Lords and Ladies of the Italian Lakes,” “Guilds of Florence,”
“Fair Women of Florence,” “Tragedies of the Medici,”
“Dogaressas of Venice,” “Heroines of Genoa and the Rivieras,”
etc.

With Coloured Frontispiece and Thirty-Five Other Illustrations

“Fides Vitat Servata”
_King René’S Motto_



[Illustration]
 
London
John Long, Limited
Norris Street, Haymarket
MCMXII


                   TO
            MY BROTHER VERNON
                   AND
             HIS WIFE ETHEL



CONTENTS


                                                                      PAGES

                               CHAPTER I

                        INTRODUCTORY--KING RENÉ

    King René’s titles--His character--A beau-ideal
    Prince--His occupations--His work as an artist--Visits to
    Italy--Scrivani--“The Burning Bush”--“Souls in Purgatory”--“La
    Divina Commedia”--“St. Madeleine preaching”--“Preces Præ”--“Pas
    d’Armes”--“Livres des Heures”--René’s literary work--“Regnault
    et Jehanneton”--“Mortifiement de Vaine Plaisance”--“La
    Conquête de la Doulce Mercy”--“L’Abuzé en Court”--“Le
    Tracte des Tournois”--Charles d’Anjou-Orléans--Dance
    songs--Letters--Collections, books, curios, etc.--Work as a
    craftsman--Orders and Guilds--Agricultural tastes--The rose de
    Provence--Workshops--“Les Comptes de Roy René”--La Cheminée du
    Roy--Intercourse with his people--A troubadour King--Relics--A
    famous winecup                                                    17-29

                              CHAPTER II

                        YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA--I.

    A Queen in labour--Natural children--Princess
    Juanita--“La Gaya Ciencia”--Troubadours--Iolande de
    Flandres--Bar-le-Duc--Highwaymen--Recruits--Fêtes
    galants--Court of Love--Juan I., King of Aragon--A beauteous
    damsel--L’Académie des Jeux Floraux--A royal Mainteneuse--Nails
    in their heads!--“Plucking the turkey”!--“Quite as good as
    you!”--“A gay woman”--A royal baptism--Princess Yolanda--The
    Salic Law--A bridegroom-elect--Mauled by a wolf--A silver
    throne--“The Queen!”--Bullfights--A royal trousseau--A
    brilliant cavalcade--Louis II. d’Anjou--Attractive
    girls--Castle of Montpellier--A royal progress--“The Loves
    of Louis and Yolanda”--A King-suitor in disguise--An ardent
    kiss--A royal marriage--Beautiful Arlésiennes--“A lovely
    creature!”--A splendid dowry--Gardens at Tarascon--Legend of
    St. Martha--A deadly dragon--State entry into Angers--The
    castle and its contents--“Mysteries”--Inartistic
    fare--Feastings--Yolanda Lieutenant-General of Anjou--English
    invasion--Rabbit with a medallion--Isabeau de Bavière--A
    wasp-like waist--Jewels--Catherine de Valois--Yolanda’s
    first-born--The “Black Death”--Queen-Duchess Marie--Princess
    Marie--Taxes and tax-gatherers--René d’Anjou born--St.
    Renatus--The Queen’s enterprise--Cutting off his
    tail!--Claimants for a throne--A piteous little Prince--A royal
    betrothal--Henry V. of England--Louis II. in Italy--His death     30-66

                              CHAPTER III

                        YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA--II.

    Royal mourning--Cardinal Louis de Bar--Yolande a
    constitutional Sovereign--The Duke of Burgundy--Matrimonial
    alliances--Tournaments--Princess Margherita di Savoia--Louis
    III. fights for the crown of Naples--Queen Giovanna
    II.--Princess Isabelle de Lorraine--A stick for a bad
    woman!--René takes up arms--A vassal--Ordre de la Fidélité--The
    Van Eycks--Treasures--Gardens at Bar-le-Duc--Floral
    games--Fortune is a woman!--Battle of Baugé--Birth of Louis XI.
    of France--Jeanne d’Arc--A panel of matrons--Slanders--Queen
    Yolande’s daring--Charles VII. inert--René Duke of Barrois--A
    débauché Prince--A young widow--Preux chevaliers--A
    love-match--Princess Catherine de Champagne burnt to
    death--René and Isabelle married--René Duke of Lorraine--Battle
    of Bulgneville--A royal prisoner--A foisted child--A beretta
    crown--Prince Jean--Duke of Calabria--Princess Marie de
    Bourbon--Agnes Sorel, the most lovely girl in France--Queen
    Yolande in private life--The Castle of Saumur--Queen Yolande’s
    death--Her character--No trace of her grave--Théophaine la
    Magine--A quaint epitaph--The stained-glass windows of Le Mans
    Cathedral--“A good mother and a great Queen”                      67-93

                              CHAPTER IV

                         ISABELLE DE LORRAINE

    Child marriages--“The Pride of Lorraine”--A mailed
    fist--Duchess’s bare feet--Satin skin--Cardinal matchmaker--Ten
    considerations--Woman’s wit supreme--A charming boy--Jean “sans
    Peur”--“Polluyon”--A Sovereign’s oath--“Noël! Noël!”--First
    free Parliament in France--Veterans--Antoine de Vaudémont--“You
    may go!”--Bulgneville--René a prisoner--Insecurity of life--The
    Duke’s terms--Two boy hostages--La Tour de Bar--René’s
    parole--Money the crux--René at Naples--The Golden Rose--A
    royal artist--Music and song--Duchess Margaret dies--“Le Roi
    est mort, vive le Roi!”--The sword of Lancelot--A very young
    widow--Isabelle leads an army--Alfonso in check--King René
    free--Women of Genoa--On the throne--A troubled land--“Cette
    vraie Amazone!”--Fortune did not smile--“Too much blood”--A
    dastardly outrage--Peace--Princess Marguerite betrothed--Black
    armour--Jehanne de Laval--Black buffaloes--Grey hair--Splendid
    tournaments--Ordre du Croissant--Double nuptials--Henry VI.
    of England--Ferri carries off Yolande--Cupid’s “Lists”--The
    spectre of war--Death of Queen Isabelle--“My heart has lost its
    love!”--“Amour et Foy”                                           94-142

                               CHAPTER V

                      JEANNE D’ARC--“LA PUCELLE”

    “Give me René!”--Village of Domremy--Village feuds--A busy
    mother--A weird accouchement--Le Bois Chènus--Voices--St.
    Michael--Mad Jehanne--A coarse kirtle--She touched the
    hilt--Duke Charles’s strange visitors--A dash around
    the courtyard--“Vive la nostre Royne!”--A pilgrimage
    march--Priests and minstrels--A famous sword--Jeanne’s
    oriflamme--A dissolute Court--Charles VI. at Chinon--A winning
    hazard--Certain secrets--Jeanne’s double ordeal--Bishops
    and matrons--“La Pucelle” so named by Queen Yolande--Filles
    de Joie--White armour--An ultimatum--Divided counsels--The
    siege of Orléans--“The Maid” wounded--En route to Reims--The
    “Sacré”--Jeanne’s modesty--Her apotheosis--“Sire, I bid
    you farewell”--René the hero--Jeanne the heroine--To
    expel the hated English--The fall of Paris--“The Maid”
    a prisoner--Deserted by everyone--A mock trial--A human
    wreck--Burnt to death--A maiden’s heart and a white dove--“Ma
    Royne est mort!” René’s lament--Charles’s remorse--The memory
    of Jeanne d’Arc                                                 143-173

                              CHAPTER VI

                             MARIE D’ANJOU

    “The little Queen of Bourges”--A master-stroke--A lovely
    bride, an ill-looking groom--An evil mother’s influence--Three
    fair witches--Yolande’s prestige--Woman’s power in
    France--Marie _v._ Agnes--Unhappy Charles VI.--The Châtelaine
    de Courrages--A gallows and a flagellation--Marriage
    of Charles and Marie--Impecuniosity--Never touched her
    below the chin!--Jacques Cœur’s loyal succour--Terrible
    disasters--A treacherous deed--Isabeau’s rage--Queen Marie’s
    speech--A lovely bevy of Maids of Honour--Outrageous
    fashions--Correcte’s crusade--“À bas les hennins!”--Scudding
    stones--Plain chapelles--A faint-hearted King--Queen
    Marie’s “I will”--Marie d’Anjou and Jeanne d’Arc--No place
    for the Queen!--Agnes Sorel, “la Belle des Belles”--Serge
    chemises--“The plaything of the most valiant King?”--Agnes’s
    four daughters--A loving son--Boxed her ears!--Agnes’s heart
    in gold--“Males femmes”--“Everything for France!”--Disasters
    and delirium--Marie in shade and shine--A pillion--Poor
    little Princess Margaret!--“A curse on life!”--A dissolute
    Prince--Slander and hypocrisy--The Bastard of Orléans--A tryst
    disturbed--The obscene Fête des Fous--A royal repast-Tours for
    delicacies--A famous pack of cards--The Queen as a business
    woman--Cocks and hens--Marie dies at Poitiers--“A good and
    devout woman”                                                   174-215

                              CHAPTER VII

                        GIOVANNA II. OF NAPLES

    “Like Queen Giovanna!”--Anjou succession in Naples--A
    lover suffocated--King Ladislaus--Many suitors--Hard to
    please--A rare quality--Marriage ring torn off--Louis
    d’Anjou’s advance--A poor old Queen--Butterfly courtesans--A
    champion of physical beauty--A wily woman--The cord
    of St. Francis--A base-born athlete--The chief of the
    pages--The Queen’s master--Vampire kisses--Louis _v._
    Alfonso--A romantic story--Fair Leonora--Not a tool of the
    Queen--Fierce rivals--Pulled the Queen’s hands--Giovanna in
    her lover’s arms--Flashing eyes--Beneath the lips--Superb
    entertainments--Giovanna discovers the liaison--René bravest
    of the brave--Treason--Duchess Covella Ruffo and her jewelled
    poniard--René at Naples--“Il galantuomo Re”--The Jews--Alfonso
    defeated and a prisoner--Belated pious deeds--Giovanna as
    the Virgin Mary!--An embassy from Naples--Many claimants
    for the throne--Isabelle a virago Queen--A macaroni
    basket--“I’ll not fight with a woman!”--Colossal orgies--A
    Spartan mother--Decisive battle of Troia--End of the Angevine
    dynasty--Jean, Duke of Calabria, raises the flag in vain        216-252

                             CHAPTER VIII

                          MARGUERITE D’ANJOU

    “The loveliest Princess in Christendom”--A storm-rocked
    cradle--A child’s kiss--Troubadours and glee-maidens--An
    eligible suitor--The love of all the boys--Neglected
    education--A delighted grandmother--Marriage tangles--Philippe,
    Count de Nevers, repudiated--Henry VI. of England looking for
    a Queen--The “Three Graces of Armagnac”--Cardinal Beaufort
    charmed with Marguerite--An unpainted face--“Oh fie! oh
    fie!”--An autograph letter--Splendid nuptials--La Confrèrerie
    de la Passion--Too poor to buy her own wedding dress--A
    peachy blush--Fine fashions--Gold garter chains--Sumptuous
    hair-dressing--A “Marguerite” flower-holder--A sorrowful
    parting--A truly royal train--The entente cordiale--The Queen
    short of ready cash--A stormy passage--Chicken-pox?--The
    King’s ring--A famous tire-woman--Extraordinary
    presents--Pageants--Queen Margaret crowned--“La Française”--The
    Queen’s strong character--The Duke of York nonplussed--Pious
    foundations--The King’s seizure--She had to play the
    man!--The Prince of Wales--York’s dastardly insinuations--A
    costly churching-robe--Civil war begins--Margaret leads
    the Lancastrians in person--Success and failure--York’s
    grey gory head--“Love Lady-Day”--Lord Grey de Ruthen’s
    treason--King Henry a prisoner in the Tower--“Fie on thee, thou
    traitor!”--The Queen in Scotland--King Louis’s double game--A
    shipwreck--A common robette--Galant Sir Pierre de Brézé--“Une
    Merrie Mol!”--The kiss of etiquette--Thorns--All the poets
    sing of Margaret--All is lost!--Margaret at home again--Earl
    of Warwick’s loyalty--A diplomatic marriage--The sea flouts
    Margaret--Perjured Lord Wenlock--A treacherous blow--The Prince
    murdered--“Bloody Edward”--The “she-wolf”--Hands tied behind
    her back--King Henry killed--The Queen in a dungeon--René’s
    pathetic letter--The great heroine of the Wars of the
    Roses--Repose at Reculée--A lioness at bay--“The grim grey wolf
    of Anjou”--A sad and lonely death                               253-305

                              CHAPTER IX

                           JEHANNE DE LAVAL

    Roses--“December” and “May”--A famous House--The Queen
    of Beauty--All in love with Jehanne--The champion’s
    crest--A tournament banquet--The Grand Prix--René struck
    with Jehanne--His Genoese innamorate--“Devils at home”--A
    second marriage desirable--The King bemoans Isabelle--No
    festivities--A moral allegory--A new course of life--Costly
    offerings--“Les Tards-Venus”--Court of Love at Les Baux--“La
    Passe Rose”--A coffin full of golden hair--Ruralizing
    royalty--Jehanne, nymph of the bosquets--“Pastorals”--“Regnault
    et Jehanneton”--All fall in love, and all fall out!--An
    allegory of chivalry--Cuer reads the strange inscription--Louis
    XI.’s outrageous behaviour--“L’Abuzé en Court”--René
    the victim--The Pageant of the Pheasant--An elysium of
    love--The Queen’s virtues--Her portrait--René’s school of
    architects--St. Bernardin, the King’s confessor--René’s
    heart--Pious Sovereigns--Relics--The crown of Catalonia--Queen
    Jehanne and Queen Margaret--Church spectacles--Magnificent
    hospitality--Demoiselle Odille--La Petite Hélène--Patroness
    of crafts--“The Golden Rose”--René’s green old age--“Le bon
    Roy est mort!”--Marie de la Chapelle’s children--Queen Jehanne
    retires to Beaufort--A studious widow--“I have no other rôle to
    play!”-“La Reine” in an iron cage--The Queen’s sweet death--Her
    will--Her monument and René’s--“Priez pour la bonne Jehanne”    306-356



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                     FACING PAGE

  CEREMONIOUS ENTRY OF THE “LADY OF THE CREST”      _Frontispiece_

  QUEEN YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA                                30

  ENTRY OF A QUEEN INTO HER CAPITAL                       40

  FAVOURITE RECREATIONS                                   50

  A MYSTERY                                               60

  KING LOUIS II. OF SICILY-ANJOU                          68

  COMMUNION OF A KNIGHT                                   74

  A ROYAL REPAST                                          80

  STREET SCENE IN AIX                                     86

  QUEEN ISABELLE DE LORRAINE                              94

  KING RENÉ (_circa_ 1440)                               106

  ROYAL PATRONESSES AND CRAFTS                           118

  “CŒUR” AND “THE ISLAND OF LOVE”                        130

  “THE WHITE QUEEN”--JEANNE D’ARC                        144

  EXPULSION OF GAY WOMEN                                 152

  SIEGE OF ORLÉANS                                       160

  SACRÉ OF CHARLES VII.                                  168

  QUEEN MARIE D’ANJOU                                    174

  A BESIEGED CASTLE                                      184

  KING RENÉ AND HIS COURT                                194

  QUEENS, JUDGES, AND KNIGHTS                            204

  QUEEN GIOVANNA II. DA NAPOLI                           216

  HOMAGE OF A VASSAL                                     226

  KING AND QUEEN IN STONE                                236

  KING RENÉ AND GUARINI DA VERONA                        246

  QUEEN MARGUERITE D’ANJOU                               254

  BEFORE THE “LISTS”                                     268

  KING RENÉ IN HIS STUDY                                 280

  AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS                                  292

  QUEEN JEHANNE DE LAVAL                                 306

  ST. MADELEINE PREACHING                                320

  “THE BURNING BUSH”                                     334

  KING RENÉ (_circa_ 1470)                               348



PREFACE


KING RENÉ D’ANJOU AND HIS SEVEN QUEENS--yes, I stand by my title, and
offer no apology to the captious and the curious.

René was the most remarkable personality in the French Renaissance.
How many English readers of the romance of history, I wonder, know
anything about him but his name? Of his “seven Queens,” two only are
at all familiar to the English public,--Marguerite d’Anjou and Jeanne
d’Arc,--and their stories as commonly told are unconvincing. The other
five are not known even by name to the majority of people; therefore
I have immense pleasure in introducing them to any clientèle: Yolanda
d’Arragona, Isabelle de Lorraine, Jehanne de Laval, Giovanna II. da
Napoli, Jeanne d’Arc and Marguerite d’Anjou. This galaxy of Queens,
fair and frail, will appeal as something entirely new in sentimental
biography to those in search of novelty.

Turgid facts of history and dryasdust statistics of the past are,
of course, within everybody’s ken, or they are supposed to be--this
is an age of snobbery! Piquant stories of the persons and foibles of
famous men and women are my measure, and such you will have in plenty
in my narratives. To get at my facts and fictions I have dug deep into
the records of Court chroniclers, and I think I have blended very
successfully the spirit of the troubadours and the spirit of the age of
chivalry. At the end of the volume I have added a Bibliography, for the
benefit of sententious students, and my Index is as full as possible,
to assist the casual reader.

The illustrations which adorn my pages have been gathered from many
sources. I think they will greatly assist the appreciation of my
work. With respect to portraits of my “Queens,” there are no extant
likenesses of Yolanda and Jeanne: for the latter I have chosen to
reproduce the historical imaginative fresco of M. Lepenveu, at the
Pantheon in Paris; for the former the stained-glass window effigy at
Le Mans Cathedral must do duty. Queen Isabelle is an enlargement of
a miniature by René; Queen Marie is after a French picture of the
School of Jean Focquet, now at the National Gallery, London, but
wrongly entitled. Queen Giovanna II. is from an altar-piece in the
National Museum at Naples. Queen Marguerite is from a miniature by her
father,--her portraits in England are eminently unsatisfactory and
non-contemporary,--Queen Jehanne is from the right wing of the Aix
triptych, by Nicholas Froment.

There is, I think, nothing more to add to my preface, so I leave “King
René and his Seven Queens” _tête-à-tête_ with my discerning public. If
they are found to be entertaining company I am repaid.

EDGCUMBE STALEY.



CHRONOLOGY


  1399. Marriage of Louis II. d’Anjou and Yolanda d’Arragona.

  1408. Birth of René d’Anjou.

  1411. Giovanna II. succeeds to throne of Naples.

  1417. René adopted by Cardinal de Bar.

  1420. Marriage of René and Isabelle de Lorraine.

  1422. Marie d’Anjou marries Charles VII.

  1424. René, Duke of Barrois.

  1429. Jeanne d’Arc and René at Siege of Orléans.

  1431. René, Duke of Lorraine; prisoner at Bulgneville.

  1433. René’s campaign in Italy.

  1434. René, King of Sicily, etc.

  1435. Giovanna II. dies; René, King of Naples.

  1437. René released finally from Tour de Bar.

  1441. René retires from Italy.

  1442. Queen Yolanda dies.

  1445. Marriage of Marguerite d’Anjou and Henry VI.

  1448. Order of the _Croissant_ established.

  1453. Queen Isabelle dies.

  1455. Marriage of René and Jehanne de Laval.

  1463. Queen Marie dies.

  1465. René proclaimed King of Catalonia.

  1470. Jean, Duke of Calabria, King of Catalonia, dies.

  1473. René retires from Anjou, which is seized by Louis XI.

  1480. René dies.

  1482. Queen Marguerite dies.

  1498. Queen Jehanne dies.



KING RENÉ D’ANJOU AND HIS SEVEN QUEENS



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY


“René, King of Jerusalem, the Two Sicilies, Aragon, Valencia, Majorca,
Sardinia and Corsica; Duke of Anjou, Barrois, and Lorraine; Count of
Provence, Forcalquier and Piemont,” so runs the preamble of his Will.
To these titles he might have added Prince of Gerona, Duke of Calabria,
Lord of Genoa, Count of Guise, Maine, Chailly, and Longjumeau, and
Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson!

He was famous as a Sovereign, a soldier, a legislator, a traveller,
a linguist, a scholar, a poet, a musician, a craftsman, a painter, an
architect, a sculptor, a collector, a sportsman, an agriculturist, and
incidentally a chivalrous lover. About such a many-sided character
there is much to tell and much to learn. His times were spacious;
the clouds of Mediævalism had rolled away, and the Sun of Progress
illuminated the heyday of the Renaissance; art and craft had come into
their own. Venus disarmed Mars, Diana entranced Apollo, and Minerva
restrained Mercury, and all the hierarchy of heaven was captive to
the Liberal Arts. René d’Anjou, figuratively, seems to have gathered
up in his cunning hand the powers of all the spiritual intelligences
alongwith the life-lines of practical manifestations. He has come down
to us as the beau-ideal Prince of the fifteenth century.

“A Prince who had great and pre-eminent qualities, worthy of a better
future. He was a great Justicier and an enemy to long despatches. He
said sometimes, when they presented anything to signe, being a-hunting
or at the warre, that the Pen was a kinde of Armes, which a person
should use at all times”--so wrote the historian Pierre Mathieu, in his
“History of Louis XI.,” in 1614. He goes on to say: “The reign of so
good a Prince was much lamented, for he intreated his subjects like a
Pastor and a Father. They say that when his Treasurer brought unto him
the Royale Taxe,--which was sixteen florins for every kindled fire,
whereof Provence might have about three thousand five hundred,--hee
enformed himselfe of the aboundance or barenesse of the season; and
when they told him, that a mistrall winde had reigned long, hee
remitted the moiety and sometimes the whole taxe. Hee contented himself
with his revenues, and did not charge his people with new tributes. Hee
spent his time in paintings, the which were excellent, as they are yet
to be seen in the city of Aix. Hee was drawing of a partridge when as
they brought him newes of the loose of the Realme of Naples, yet hee
could not draw his hande from the work and the pleasure hee took here
in.… They relate that he dranke not wine, and when as the noble men of
Naples demanded the reasons, he affirmed that it had made Titus Livius
to lie, who had said that the good wine caused the French to passe the
Alps.… He was perhaps better suited to make a quiet State happy than to
reduce a rebellious one.”

King René’s career and work as a Sovereign, a soldier, a legislator, a
traveller, a poet, and a lover, are treated in full in the letterpress
of this volume. His work as an artist, a craftsman, an agriculturist,
and a collector, is here given under different headings, as
introductory to the expression of his personal talents.


I. ARTISTIC WORKS OF KING RENÉ.

René’s first efforts as a designer and painter were exhibited upon the
walls of his prison-chamber at Tour de Bar, near Dijon, 1431-1435.
Thence forward he decorated the walls and stain-glazed the windows of
his various castles and palaces--Bar-le-Duc, Nancy, Angers, Saumur,
Reculée, Tarascon, Marseilles, and Aix. Every _bastide_ and _maison_
inhabited by his Queens and himself was also similarly adorned, and
many coloured church windows were due to his gentle art. Alas that
so few vestiges of these admirable labours remain! French mobs are
proverbial for iconoclastic propensities, and no land has suffered more
than France from the suicidal mania of her _sans-culottes_.

To fresco-painting, portraits, and glass-staining, the Royal artist
added miniatures and penmanship. His “style” was formed and developed
successively under such personal tuition as that of the brothers Van
Eyck and Maistre Jehannot le Flament. Later on Jean Focquet of Tours
and Nicholas Froment influenced him. A letter is extant of King René,
addressed in 1448 to Jan Van Eyck, in which he asks for two good
painters to be sent to Barrois.

Visits to Rome, Florence, Naples, Milan, and other art cities of Italy,
very greatly enlarged René’s _métier_. Intercourse with Fra Angelico
da Fiesole, Fra Filippo Lippi, Paolo Ucello, the Della Robbia, and
many other Tuscan artists, quickened his natural talent and guided
his eye and hand. Leon Battista Alberti, Francesco Brunellesco, and
Cennino Cennini, and their works in _materia_ and literature, produced
great results in the receptive faculties of the King-artist. At Naples
he came in contact with Colantonio del Fiore, Antonio Solario--_Il
Zingaro_--and Angiolo Franco, and gathered up what they taught.

Besides these immense advantages as a personal friend of great ruling
Italian families, the Medici, the Pazzi, the Tornabuoni, the Visconti,
the Sforza, the Orsini, and many others, René had opportunities enjoyed
by very few. His own amiable individuality and his ample knowledge
were the highest credentials in the pursuit of art and craft. René
witnessed the consecration of the Duomo of Florence and the completion
of the guild shrine of Or San Michele, and he was enrolled as an
honorary member thereof. At Florence also he was thrown in contact with
world famous _scrivani_--writers and illustrators of manuscript. The
subsequent excellence of French miniaturists was largely due to King
René’s example and encouragement.

René’s more considerable paintings, which have been preserved, are as
follows:

1. _The Burning Bush_, part of an altar triptych, at the Cathedral
of Aix. Projected and begun by the King, it was finished by Nicholas
Froment, 1475-76, and for it the artist received no more than 70 gulden
(see illustration).

2. _Souls in Purgatory_, an altar-piece (7 × 5½), originally in
hospital chapel at the Chartreuse of Villeneuve les Avignon. It is
really a “Judgment,” with Christ and saints above the clouds, and
twenty-four little figures in and out torment. The building was
destroyed in 1793.

3. _La Divina Commedia_, an altar-piece (8 × 6), in the church of the
Célestins at Avignon in distemper. It was due to René’s vision of his
mistress, Dame Chapelle, upon the day of her death, which shocked him
so greatly that he painted this composition to remove the painful
impression he thus experienced.

4. _Saint Madeleine preaching_, now in the Hôtel Cluny. It was a
whimsical conceit connecting the story of the sisters of Lazarus
with René and his Queen Jehanne. It is conventional in treatment but
finished most beautifully (see illustration).

King René’s artistic speciality was miniatures. He illuminated many
manuscripts.

1. _Preces Præ_. The Latin “Hours” of King René, a manuscript of 150
sheets of fine vellum, written very beautifully in small lettering,
with superb capitals in gold and colours. The borders and miniatures
are exquisitely painted. It is bound in red morocco. This precious
volume was dedicated to Queen Isabelle, whose portrait is painted as
a frontispiece (see illustration). It was one of the King’s wedding
presents to his second Queen, Jehanne de Laval. The value of the
_Preces Præ_ is enhanced by numerous marginal notes of dates and
details written by René’s hand. At the end by way of _Finis_ is a
clock-face, upon which is painted “R et J,” under the words “En Un,”
all in a circle of gold. This treasure is now in the National Library
in Paris, and there is a copy almost exactly in duplicate in the
Imperial Library in Vienna. The date is 1454.

2. _Pas d’Armes de la Bergère._ A poem of Louis de Beauvau, Seigneur
de la Roche et Champigny, Grand Seneschal of Angers, Ambassador
to Pope Pius II., and a famous Champion in the “Lists.” It is a
pastoral allegory, and extols the courage and chivalry of many famous
knights--Ferri de Vaudémont, Philippe Lenoncourt, Tanneguy de Chastel,
Jean de Cossa, Guy de Laval, and others. It was put forth in 1448 after
the celebrated tournaments in Anjou, Lorraine, and Provence. King René
illuminated it with portraits and miniature paintings at Tarascon,
where he and Jehanne de Laval spent so many happy days ruralizing in
1457.

At Aix, in the Library, is a manuscript _Livres des Heures_, dated
1458; at Avignon, in the Church of the Cordeliers, is another of
the following year; at Poitiers, in the Library, is a “Psalter”; in
the Musée de l’Arsenal of Paris, a Breviary (see illustration)--all
exquisitely written and illuminated by the master-hand of the King.


II. LITERARY WORKS OF KING RENÉ.

The earlier works of the King are sufficiently remarkable as
exhibiting his serenity in adversity and his uprightness as a
legislator; his later poems are notable in revealing his chivalry as
a knight-adventurer, and his tenderness as a dainty troubadour. René,
whether as Sovereign, knight, or lover, led the taste of his age. His
personality attracted everybody, and his character elevated all in
fruitful emulation. His utterances and his writings, in spite of the
freedom of manners and the piquancy of speech, were conspicuous for
chastity of thought and delicacy of expression. Not a single dubious
word or doubtful reference disfigures his pages: a man and King was he
without reproach.

The works which René composed as well as decorated place him in the
forefront of poets. The principal are as follows:

1. _Regnault et Jehanneton_, or _Les Amours du Bergier et de la
Bergeronne_. It is an idyllic pastoral. The manuscript occupies seventy
sheets of fine vellum, written in black and crimson, very carefully
and finely. The miniatures and capitals are very numerous, and display
the greatest skill and taste in design and finish. This manuscript was
written at Tarascon, after René and Jehanne’s romantic sojourn at his
_bastide_ on the Durance.

2. _Mortifiement de Vaine Plaisance_, or _Tracte entre l’Ame devote et
le Cœur_. In manuscript, written very carefully in black and scarlet,
with many exquisitely-painted miniatures and capital letters. This
“Morality” covers fifty-five sheets of the finest vellum. The Royal
writer was assisted by Jehan Coppre, a priest of Varronsgues. The
frontispiece by René represents the King, fully robed, seated in his
studio labouring with his pen and brush (see illustration).

3. _La Conquête de la Doulce Mercy_, or _La Conquête par le Cuer
d’Amour Espris_. This is a manuscript with 138 sheets of very smooth
vellum written in red, black, and purple, with sixty-two miniatures and
many capitals superbly painted. It is bound in red morocco, and is in
the National Library in Paris. It bears the date 1457. René both wrote
and illuminated it shortly before the death of Queen Isabelle.

4. _L’Abuzé en Court._ A manuscript covering fifty-seven sheets of
very fine vellum. Where and how King René got his “skins” we do not
know, but they are the finest and most perfect of any French or Italian
manuscripts of the period. The colour and grain of the skin are very
fine; only an artist-writer could have chosen such splendid folios.
This manuscript is bound in walnut-wood boards covered with crimson
velvet and embroidered. It contains fifty lovely miniatures and has
rich capitals. René has in this case recorded the exact date of
completion--July 12, 1473.

5. Very superb--perhaps King René’s _chef d’œuvre_--is _Le Tracte des
Tournois_, a full description of his splendid tournament at Saumur,
with the richest possible illustration. It is dedicated to Charles
d’Anjou, his brother, who died in 1470; he was Count of Maine and
Guise, and Governor of Lorraine. The frontispiece and two other
illustrations are reproductions of the Royal artist’s designs.

One of the most charming incidents in René’s long, useful, and moving
life was his intercourse with Charles d’Anjou, son of the first Duke of
Orléans, brother of Charles VI. of France. The young Prince was made a
prisoner at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and remained in captivity
in the Tower of London for twenty-five years. His constant complaint
was: “I mourn with chagrin that no one does anything to release me!”
This piteous appeal at length gained the heart of Duke Philippe of
Burgundy, who effected his deliverance in 1440. Between King René and
Duke Charles there passed, through spiritual affinity, a constant
succession of delightful poetic souvenirs--the prisoner of La Tour
de Bar and the prisoner of the Tower of London--comrades in sorrow,
companions in joy! The form these missives took was that of _rondeaux_,
or valentines, and in this category nothing could be more delicate and
sensuous. A very favourite ending of the poems was--

      “Après une seule excepter,
      Je vous servirai cette conte,
      Ma douce Valentine gente,
      Puis qu’amour veuilt que on’y contente.”

      “With one only reservation,
      I will send you this narration,
      My gentle, natty Valentine,
      Since your love so well content is mine.”

Charles d’Anjou died in 1465, greatly lamented by his poet-confidant.

King René composed and wrote, and also set to music, very many _motets_
and _caroles_ (dance-songs). The former are still sung in village
churches in Provence, and the latter danced at village fêtes.

René was famous, too, as a polite letter-writer. Between 1468 and 1474
he despatched thirty-seven missives to Pope Sixtus IV. and others,
chiefly relating to affairs in the kingdom of Catalonia.

At the Château d’Angers, as well as at those of Nancy and Aix, King
René had splendid collections of manuscripts and books. Rare works in
Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, and Latin, he collected in the several
departments of Scripture, Philosophy, History, Geography, Natural
History, and Physics. Writers and students naturally were attracted
to such a sapient Prince. Three of the former in particular attached
themselves to his patronage: Pierre de Hurion, Jehan de Perin, and
Louis de Beauvau; and with them was René’s chief collaborator--Hervé
Grellin.


III. CRAFTMAN’S WORKS OF KING RENÉ.

René was a great advocate for the combination and co-operation of the
arts and crafts. In no sense was he a free-trader: his policy was
to encourage native enterprise and to check destructive intrusion
of aliens. To consolidate commercial interests and to safeguard
industries, he established “Orders” or “Guilds” for workers. For
example, at Tarascon he instituted “The Order of the Sturgeon,”
for fisherfolk, which held an annual festival in July, called _La
Charibande_, specially in honour of _Le Roy des Gardons_--“King of
Roaches.” At Aix the King established “The Order of the Plough,” for
agriculturists, and their fête-day was the Festival of the Assumption.
He could hold the coulter with any of his farm labourers, and greatly
delighted in matches of strength and speed. René’s interest in
agriculture and stock-rearing did very much to make Anjou and Provence
fruitful States. He naturalized the sugar-cane, and introduced many
new trees and plants: the rose de Provence; the _Œillet de Poëte_--our
Sweet William; the mulberry; and the Muscat grape.

As patron of crafts, René especially encouraged workers in tapestry,
vestments, costumes and tournament decorations, goldsmiths, jewellers,
medalists, armourers, and masters of wood, stone, and metal, with
operatives in textiles. In Provence, at Aix and Marseilles, he had
workshops which he himself superintended, and where such instructors
were employed as Jehan de Nicholas, Guillaume le Pelletier, Juan
d’Arragona, Jehan le Gracieux, Luigi Rubbotino, Henri Henniquin,
and Jehanne Despert. These may be names only, but their fame may be
learnt by the study of useful industries in France. The _Comptes de
Roy René_,--René’s business-books,--at Angers are full of orders,
instructions, payments, etc., to work-people of all sorts and kinds.

At each of King René’s residences, and more especially at Aix, he
designed and erected a raised architectural loggia, or terrace, which
at once gained the name of _La Cheminée du Roy_. Here he was wont to
spend a good deal of his time in the enjoyment of the fresh air and
the contemplation of the persons and avocations of his subjects within
range. Here, too, he gave audience to all sorts and conditions of his
subjects, passing the time of the day merely to many, but with some
of them entering fully into matters proposed for his consideration.
Craftsmen, tradesmen, and merchants, were accustomed to pass that way
to expose commodities, and exhibit novelties which might tempt the
Royal patronage. One salient object of this amiable habit was that, as
he put it, “my children may see their father, and take cognizance of
my state of health and my pursuits.” René lived and worked among and
for his people, and none who approached him ever went away empty or
dissatisfied. Nothing pleased him better than a morning salutation or
an evening serenade by troubadour-jongleurs and other makers of music
and of fun. Sometimes the municipal authorities made courteous protests
to their liege Lord for the creation of crowds and obstruction to the
free circulation of the traffic. To all such representations the King
turned a ready ear, but also turned their pleas into subjects for
good-humoured merriment.

“You see,” he used to say, “I am something of a troubadour myself, and
life’s serious moods require joyous elevation.”

René was great in loving-cups, or, more correctly, their contents.
Nothing pleased him more than to hand to anyone who had interested
or amused him a delicious beverage, and often enough in the utmost
good-humour he bade the recipient keep the cup as a memento of his
interview--and “mind,” he added, “you drink my health and Queen
Jehanne’s sometimes.”

René’s consideration of and generosity to his servants and attendants
was proverbial. The _Comptes_ are full of instructions to his
Treasurers to pay such and such sums of money or other benefactions.
To Jehan de Sérancourt, an equerry, for example, he gave a purse of
200 ducats, “for thy skilful care of my favourite charger.” To Alain
le Hérault, a valet and barber “a gold snuffbox and fifty ducats for
his daughter’s confinement.” He was very fond of quoting the example of
Marie d’Harcourt, mother of his son-in-law Ferri de Vaudémont, who died
in 1476. She was affectionately called “the Mother of the Poor.” “She
was rightly called; am not I, then, father too?”

René was a great collector of works of art and curios, although, by
the way, he was obliged very frequently to distribute his treasures
in order to raise money for his warlike enterprises and philanthropic
pursuits. A speciality was the acquisition of relics of saints and
other venerable objects. In 1470 he and Queen Jehanne assisted at the
translation of a piece of the True Cross, which he had obtained in
Italy, to the Church of St. Croix at Angers. Lists of such treasures,
and, indeed, of the treasures in general of his house, may be read in
_Les Comptes de Roy René_. Many originally came from King John the
“Good” of France, René’s great-grandfather, handed down by Louis I. and
Louis II. of Sicily-Anjou.

René had a penchant for rock-crystal objects and miniature carvings in
wood. Among the former he possessed a very famous winecup, upon which
he engraved the following quaint conceit:

      “Qui bien beurra
            Dieu voira.
      Qui beurra tout d’une baleine
      Voira Dieu et la Madeleine!”

      “Whoso drinks me
          God shall see.
      Whoso at one good breath drains me
      Shall God and the Magdalen see!”



CHAPTER II

YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA--“A GOOD MOTHER AND A GREAT QUEEN.”


I.

The Queen was in labour, and shivering groups of robust citizens and
sturdy peasants were gathered in front of the royal castle of Zaragoza,
eagerly awaiting the signal of a happy deliverance. The fervent wish of
King Juan for a male heir was shared by his subjects, for his brother
Martino, next in succession, was in delicate health; moreover, he had
only one son, and he was a cripple. The succession to the throne was a
source of anxiety to all good Aragonese. To be sure, there was a baby
Princess already in the royal nursery, but whether her mother had been
a lawful wedded wife, or no more than a _barragana_ of the Sovereign,
few knew outside the charmed circle of the Court. In the opinion of the
men and women of the triple kingdom generally, this mattered little,
for natural children were looked upon as strengthening the family;
_hijos de ganancia_ they were called. The Salic Law, however, barred
the female heirs of the royal house, so little Juanita was of no
importance.

[Illustration: YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA

(KING RENÉ’S MOTHER)

From Coloured Glass Window, Le Mans Cathedral

_To face page 30_]

Within the courtyard, about the royal apartments, and all through
the precincts of the Presence, minstrels and poets thronged, as well as
Ministers and officials; Queen Yolanda was the Queen of Troubadours,
and the courtiers she loved best to have about her were merry maids
and men--graduates of the “_Gaya Ciencia_.” The livelong night they
had danced and postured, they had piped and sung. Each poet of the
hilarious company had in turn taken up his recitative, printed by
staccato notes, to be repeated in chorus and in step, until the
_fandangoes_ and _boleros_ of the South were turned into the boisterous
whirling _jotas_ of Aragon. The first dawn of day brought into play
lutes and harps, restrung, retuned cellos and hurdy-gurdies, and
_vihuelas de peñola_, guitars with metal wires and struck with strong
herons’ plumes, and so awoke the phlegmatic guardians of the castle.
Sweet and harmonious Provençal voices blended with soft notes of
melodious singers from Languedoc to the running accompaniment of the
weird Basque music of the mountaineers.

The Queen, upon her massive curtained bed of state, heard the refrains
and felt the vibration of the lilting measures, and smiled pleasantly
as she laid awake expectantly. At length the great tenor bell up in
the chapel turret gave out the hour of six. The last note seemed to
hang, and many a devout listener bent a reverent knee and bared his
head, whilst the women-folk uttered fervent _Aves_. One single stroke
of the metal clapper was followed, alas! immediately by another. “Two
for a Princess!” resounded from lusty throats, but there was a tone of
disappointment in the cry. The glaring morning sun, however, made no
mistake, impartial in his love of sex. Dancing upon the phosphorescent
ripples of the rolling Mediterranean, he shot golden beams within the
royal chamber, and crimson flushed the cheeks of the royal mother
and her child. It was the red-hot sun of Spain, and the day was red,
too--the feast of San Marco, April 25, 1380.

Christened within eight hours of birth--the custom in Aragon--and
“Yolanda” named, the little Princess’s advent was speeded right away
to distant Barrois, her mother’s home, by the Queen’s Chamberlain,
trusty Cavalier Hugues de Pulligny. He had been summoned at once to the
accouchement couch, and given to hold and identify the babe. With him
he took the Queen’s mothering scarf--the token of a happy birth--and
hied post-haste to lay it and his news at the feet of the anxious Duke
and Duchess at Bar-le-Duc. His reward was a patent of nobility and 500
good golden livres.

Yolanda, Queen-consort of Juan I., King of the triple kingdom of
Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia--Violante de Bar--was the elder of
the two daughters of Robert I., Duke of Bar, and his wife, Marie of
France, daughter of King John II., “the Good.” Their Court was one of
the chief resorts of the Troubadours and Jongleurs, who looked to the
Duke’s famous mother, Princess Iolande of Flanders, as their queen and
patroness. Bar, or Barrois, first gained royal honours when the Emperor
Otto III., in 958, created his son and successor, Frederic, Count of
Bar and Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. The succession was handed
down for hundreds of years, and in 1321 Count Henry IV. married the
Flemish Princess. Her jewels and her trousseau were the talk of half a
century. Her gaiety, her erudition, and her skill in handicraft, were
remarkable; her Court the most splendid in Europe.

Bar was, so to speak, the golden hub of the great humming wheel of
Franco-Flemish arts and crafts. Bordered by Luxembourg, Lorraine,
Champagne, and Burgundy, the fountain-heads of rich and generous
vintages, she took toll of all, and the Barroisiens were the
healthiest, wealthiest, and the merriest folk in the French borderland.

The influence of the bewitching and accomplished Princess-Countess
Iolande was paramount, and she was ever adding to her fame by making
royal progresses throughout her husband’s domains. Wherever she went,
music and the fine arts, and every artistic cult and useful craft,
prospered amazingly. Borne in a great swaying chariot, drawn by four
strong white Flemish horses, the magnificence of her cortège led on
one occasion, if not on more, nearly to her undoing. Travelling in the
summer-time of the year 1361 to Clermont en Argonne, one of the ducal
castles, she was, when not very far away from storied Laon, beset by
an armed company of outlaws, who, however, treated her with charming
courtesy. They caused the Princess and her ladies to descend from their
equipage and step it with them as _vis-à-vis_ under the greenwood tree.
Then, not very gallantly, to be sure, they stripped their fair partners
of their ornaments and despoiled the princely treasure, causing the
Princess to sign a pardon for their onslaught. The adventure, however,
did not end here, for Iolande was a match for any man, and on the spot
she enrolled her highwaymen as recruits for Count Henry’s army!

The almost fairy Princess-Countess survived her consort many years,
and lived to see the county of Bar raised to a dukedom, and to dance
upon her knee a little namesake granddaughter, Violante de Bar. Nothing
gave her greater pleasure than the floral games of the troubadours, and
one of these _fêtes galants_ was enacted in 1363 at the Ducal Castle
of Val de Cassel, where Duchess Marie had just brought into the world
this very baby girl. The poets chose their laureate--one Eustache
Deschamps-Morel, and Princess Iolande crowned him with bays. The
_ballade_ he composed for those auspicious revels is still extant--_Du
Métier Profitable_--wherein he maintains that only two careers are open
to happy mortals.

      “Ces deux ont partout l’avantage,
      L’un en junglant, l’autre à corner.”

The sights and sounds, then, which first greeted the pretty child were
merry and tuneful. She was reared on troubadour fare, on troubadour
lore. Violante had three brothers, Édouard, Jehan, and Louis, and a
younger sister Bonne, married to Nicholas, Comte de Ligny, but alas!
buried with her first-born before the high-altar of St. Étienne at
Bar-le-Duc.

When Violante was in her seventeenth year, there came a royal
traveller, disguised as a troubadour of Languedoc, to the Court of Love
at Bar-le-Duc. His quest was for a bride. He was of ancient lineage;
his forbears came from Ria, in a southern upland valley of the Eastern
Pyrenees, and had ruled the land ’twixt barren mountain and wild
seacoast for no end of years--Juan I., King of Aragon, Catalonia, and
Valencia. He had just buried Mahaud d’Armagnac, the young mother of his
little daughter Juanita, and there was a gaping wound in his amorous
heart which yearned for healing. The royal Benedict looked for a Venus
with a dash of Diana and a measure of Minerva, and chroniclers say he
had drawn blank the Courts of Spain and Southern France. Moreover, they
tell a pretty tale of him which must now again be told.

After wanderings manifold, the royal knight-errant found himself
within the pageant-ground of Bar-le-Duc and at a “Court of Love.”
There he broke shield and lance at tilt, and Prince Cupid pierced
his heart. Mingling in the merry throng, King Juan found himself
partnered by the most beauteous damsel his eyes had ever seen. She
was the Princess Violante, daughter of the Duke. Before she realized
what her gay _vis-à-vis_ had said and done, he vanished. But upon her
maiden finger glittered a royal signet-ring. Back to Zaragoza sped
the gay troubadour, and in a trice a noble embassy was on its way to
the Barrois Court to claim the hand of the fascinating Princess and
to exchange the heavy ring of State for the lighter jewelled hoop of
espousal.

The entry of Queen Yolanda (Violante) into Zaragoza was a resplendent
function, and, despite their habitual taciturnity, the citizens hailed
the lovely consort of their King with heartiest acclamations. In her
train came minstrels and glee-maidens from Champagne and Burgundy, from
Provence and the Valley of the Rhine and Languedoc. Such merry folk
were unknown in phlegmatic Aragon. To be sure, they had their poets,
their dances and their songs, but they were the semi-serious pastimes
of the sturdy Basque mountaineers.

The _Académie des Jeux Floraux_ of Toulouse,--newly founded in 1323,
and better known there as the _Collège du Gaye Sçavoir_,--sent an
imposing company of minstrels to greet the new Queen of Aragon at
Narbonne--the city of romance and song--and to offer her a spectacular
serenade beneath the balconies of the Archiepiscopal Palace, where she
and her suite were accommodated. With them they bore golden flowers
and silver with which Royal Violante should crown the laureates, and
to Her Majesty they offered a great amaranth of gold, together with
the diploma of a _Mainteneuse_. Acclaimed “Queen of Troubadours,” her
motley train swept through the cities of the coast and crossed the
Spanish frontier. One and all offered her their true allegiance--to
live and dance and sing and die for Yolanda d’Arragona.

If the Aragonese were noted for stubbornness,--and of them was curtly
said: “The men of Aragon will drive nails in their heads rather than
use hammers,”--they have a sound reputation for chivalry. King Iago II.
established this characteristic in an edict in 1327. “We will,” ran the
royal rescript, “that every man, whether armed or not, who shall be in
company with a lady, pass safely and unmolested unless he be guilty of
murder.” Courting an _alegra señorita_, whether of Aragon, Catalonia,
or Valencia, was the duty of every lad, albeit the fair one jokingly
called it “_pelando la pava_” (plucking the turkey). The royal romance
was a charming example for all and sundry, and many an amorous French
troubadour had his wings cut by Prince Cupid and never went home again
at all, and many a glee-maiden, to boot, plucked a “turkey” of Aragon!

King Juan threw himself unreservedly into the arms of his merry
Minerva-Venus Queen: no doubt she “plucked” him thoroughly! A “Court of
Love” was established at Zaragoza. All day long they danced, and all
night through they sang, and at all times played their floral games,
whilst dour señors scowled and proud dueñas grimaced. The revels of the
“_Gaya Ciencia_” shocked their susceptibilities, until a crisis was
reached in 1340, when the King sent embassies to all the French Courts
to enlist the services of their best troubadours. A solemn session
of the Cortes, wherein resided the actual power of the State,--the
King was King only by their pleasure,--was called, “_Podemos mas
que vos_”--“We are quite as good as you, or even better”--that was
the moving spirit of Aragon. A resolution was passed demanding the
suppression of “the feast of folly,” as the gay doings at Court were
called, and the immediate expulsion of the foreign minstrels and their
hilarious company.

Here was a fix for the easy-going King,--dubbed by many
“_l’Indolente_,” the Indolent,--between the devil and the deep sea.
The Queen point-blank refused to say good-bye to her _devotés_, and
her wiles prevailed to retain many a merry lover at her Court, for the
stoutest will of man yields to the witchery of beauty in every rank of
life!

If Queen Yolanda was a “gay woman,” as historians have called
her,--and no class of men are anything like so mendacious,--she was not
the “fast” woman some of them have maliciously styled her. No, she was
a loving spouse and a devoted mother. Perhaps, could she have chosen,
she would have brought forth a boy; but, still, every mother loves her
child regardless of sex or other considerations. She addressed herself
zealously to the rearing of the little princess. No sour-visaged
_hidalgo_ and no censorious citizen was allowed the entrée to the
nursery. Minstrels rejoiced at the nativity, and minstrels shared
the rocking of the cradle. She was baptized at the old mosque-like
cathedral of Sa Zeo, or San Salvador,--where the Kings her forbears
were all anointed and crowned,--with the courtly ceremonial of Holy
Church, whilst outside the people sang their well-loved ditties. Quite
the favourite was “_Nocte Buena_”--

      “La Vergin se fui’ in lavar
      Sui manos blancas al rio;
      El Sol sequedó parado,
      La Mar perdio su ruido,” etc.

      “To the rivulet the Virgin sped,
      Her fair white hands to wash;
      The wandering Sun stood still o’erhead,
      The Sea cast up no splash,” etc.

and many, many other verses. Zaragoza was famous for the splendour
of her mystery plays, as many quaint entries in the archives of the
archdiocese prove: “Seven _sueldos_ for making up the heads of the ass
and the ox for the stable at Bethlehem; six _sueldos_ for wigs for the
prophets; ten _sueldos_ for gloves for the angels.”

The little Princess was not the only occupant of the royal nursery in
Zaragoza; King Juan’s child Juanita greeted her baby companion with
glee, but the Queen was not too well pleased that she should be allowed
to remain there. Indeed, an arrangement was come to whereby Mahaud’s
child was delivered over to a _governante_, and Princess Yolanda was
queen of all she saw. Very carefully her training was taken in hand,
with due respect to the peccadilloes of the Court; but her mother saw
to it that her environment should be youthful, bright, and intelligent.
Hardly before the child was out of leading-strings her future was under
serious consideration, for the King had no son nor the promise of one
by his consort, and Queen Yolanda determined to do all that lay in her
power to circumvent the obnoxious clauses of the Salic Law.

The Princess grew up handsome like her father and bewitching like her
mother. She was the pet of the palace and the pride of the people,
and everybody prophesied great things for her and Aragon. The most
important question was, naturally, betrothal and marriage. The King,
easy-going in everything, left this delicate matter to his ambitious,
clever Queen, and very soon half the crowns _in posse_ in Europe were
laid at her daughter’s feet.

The survey of eligible lads of royal birth was far and wide, but,
with the tactful instinct of a ruling native, Queen Yolanda made a
very happy choice. At Toulouse, three years before the birth of her
little daughter, had been born a royal Prince, the eldest son of her
uncle Louis of France, her mother’s brother, titular King of Naples,
Sicily, and Jerusalem, Duke of Anjou, and Count of Provence. The boy’s
mother was Countess Marie de Châtillon, the wealthy heiress of the
ducal line of Blois-Bretagne. He was the husband-to-be of Princess
Yolanda d’Arragona, Louis d’Anjou. King Juan cordially approved the
selection of the young Prince: French royal marriages were popular in
Aragon. An imposing embassy was despatched at once to Angers, with an
invitation for the boy to visit the Court of Zaragoza under the charge
of his aunt, Queen Yolanda. The King and Queen made the most they could
of their interesting little visitor. With a view to contingencies,
Louis was introduced at the session of the Cortes, and the King gave
splendid entertainments to the _ricoshombres_ and other members of the
Estates in honour of his future son-in-law, the royal fiancé of the
_soi-disante_ heiress to the throne.

This notable visit came to an abrupt and unexpected end upon receipt
of the news of the sudden death of King-Duke Louis at the Castle of
Bisclin, in La Pouille, on September 20, 1389. His young son, now Louis
II., was called home at once. Met at the Languedoc frontier by a kingly
escort, the young Sovereign passed on to Arles, and thence to Avignon,
where, on October 25, 1389, he was solemnly crowned in the basilica of
Nôtre Dame des Dons by Pope Clement VII. A stately progress was made to
the Court of Charles VI. in Paris, and the youthful King was presented
to imperious Queen Isabeau,--his aunt by marriage,--the proud daughter
of Stephen II., Duke of Bavaria, and Princess Thadée Visconti of Milan.

The chief object of this visit was the formal betrothal of the young
King and the Princess Yolanda d’Arragona--a ceremony deemed too
important for celebration either at Angers or at Aix, in the King’s
domains. A notable function, in the grand metropolitan cathedral of
Nôtre Dame, was held on, of all days the most suitable, the Feast of
the Three Holy Kings, January 6, 1390, whereat assisted all the Princes
and Princesses of the House of France, with Prince Ferdinand of Castile
and Aragon as proxy for the bride-Princess, and an imposing embassy
from King Juan and Queen Yolanda.

[Illustration: SOLEMN ENTRY OF A QUEEN INTO THE CAPITAL OF HER SPOUSE,
FIFTEENTH CENTURY

See Froissart’s Chronicles and “L’Album Historique de France”

_To face page 40_]

Back to Angers went, with his mother, Queen-Duchess Marie, the youthful
bridegroom-elect, to be safeguarded and trained for his brilliant
career. Everybody in Anjou and Provence loved their Duchess. She had
won all hearts. Those were prosperous, happy days--the days of the
gracious Regent’s kindly government.

Early in 1393 King Juan met with a serious accident whilst hunting in
the mountains around Tacca, the ancient capital of Aragon. He was, by
the way, a famous huntsman, and had gained by his keenness in pursuit
of game the title of “_El Cazador_”--“The Sportsman.” Mauled by a wolf
he had wounded in the chase, he never recovered from the loss of blood
and the poison of those unclean fangs. Feeling his end approaching,
and anxious about the future of his darling child, he proposed to
Queen Marie and the Anjou-Provence Court of Regency that the nuptials
of Louis and Yolanda should be celebrated without delay. This he did
because he had determined to evade the restrictions of the Salic Law
by proclaiming Louis and Yolanda heir and heiress together of Aragon,
Catalonia, and Valencia.

Queen Yolanda most heartily seconded her consort’s project,--indeed,
she it was who had first suggested that line of action,--and when,
on May 15, the King breathed his last in the castle of his fathers
in Zaragoza, she claimed the succession for her son-in-law and
daughter. On the day following the King’s death she took the young
Princess,--barely thirteen years of age,--accompanied by the whole
Court and a crowd of sympathetic citizens, into the basilica of Sa Zeo,
and placed her upon the magnificent and historic silver throne of the
Kings of Aragon. Bending her knees before her, she kissed the child’s
hand in homage to her sovereignty, and caused heralds to proclaim her
“_Yolanda Reina d’Arragona_.” It was a bold step, but quite in accord
with the ruling instinct of the royal house; moreover, it commanded the
suffrages of very many members of the Cortes.

The Estates of the three realms met in plenary session, and before
the deliberations were opened the little “Queen” was presented by her
mother, who demanded a unanimous vote in favour of Louis and Yolanda.
There were, however, other claimants for the crown, and the Cortes
decided to offer it to Dom Martino, the late King’s only surviving
brother, a next heir-male of the blood, whose consort was Queen Maria
of Sicily. The new King treated his widowed sister-in-law and his
little niece with the utmost consideration. He prevailed upon Queen
Yolanda to retain the royal apartments at the castle, for he did not
propose to reside there. He only stayed at Zaragoza for his coronation,
and returned at once to Palermo.

The whole energy of the widowed Queen was now devoted to the education
of her only child. Her widowhood weighed lightly upon her; her buoyant,
happy nature soon shook off her grief and mourning. She was now
perfectly free to cultivate her tastes. If the “little Queen” was not
to be Queen of Aragon, she should succeed herself as “Queen of Hearts
and Troubadours.” Accordingly she moved her residence to Barcelona,
the sunny and the gay, and there at once set up a “Court of Love.”
Catalonia was times out of mind the rival of Provence in romance and
minstrelsy; her marts had quite as many merry troubadours as serious
merchants. The _corridas de toros_--bullfights--of Barcelona were the
most brilliant in Spain, whilst the people were as independent and as
unconventional as they were cultured and industrious. The two Queens
very soon became expert _aficionadas_ of the royal sport.

Queen Yolanda never for a moment lost sight of the future of her
daughter, and preparations for her marriage to Louis d’Anjou occupied
very much of her busy, merry, useful life. Queens’ trousseaux were
something more than nine days’ wonders; besides, the ambition of
the mother-Queen knew no bounds to her daughter’s horizon. She
must go forth at least as richly clothed and dowered as any of her
predecessors. Goldsmiths, glass-blowers, cabinet-makers, saddlers,
silk-weavers, and potters,--none more accomplished and famous in
Europe than the artificers of Barcelona and Valencia,--were set to
work to fill the immense walnut marriage-chests of the bride-to-be.
Her jewels were superb,--no richer gold was known than the red gold of
Aragon,--the royal gems were unique, of Moorish origin, uncut. Years
passed quickly along, and Princess Yolanda kept her eighteenth birthday
with her mother in Barcelona. She was on the threshold of a new life.


II.

One glorious autumn morning in the good year 1399,--“good” because
“the next before a brand-new century,” as said the gossips of the
time,--a gallant cavalcade deployed down the battlemented approach to
the grim old castle of Angers. At its head, mounted upon a prancing
white Anjou charger, rode as comely a young knight as ever hoisted
pennoned lance to stirrup-lock. He was dressed in semi-armour,--the
armour of the “Lists.” His errand was not warlike, for knotted in his
harness were Cupid’s love-ribbons: he was a royal bridegroom-elect
speeding off to bring gaily home from distant Aragon his fair
betrothed. He had been knighted ten years before by his uncle, Charles
VI., at his coronation in Nôtre Dame in Paris, at which solemnity he
had,--a slim lad of twelve,--held proudly the stirrup of the Sovereign.

Louis II. d’Anjou, born at the Castle of Toulouse on October 7, 1377,
succeeded his father, Louis I., in 1389, and, like him, bore many
titles of sovereignty: King of Naples, Sicily, and Jerusalem; Duke of
Anjou, Calabria, Touraine, and Pouille; Grand Peer of France; Prince
of Capua; Count of Provence, Maine, Forcalquier, and Piemont; Lord of
Montpellier; and Governor of Languedoc and Guienne. His grandfather
was the brave but unfortunate King John “the Good” of France; his
grandmother, the beautiful but sorrowful Queen Bonne of Luxembourg and
Bohemia.

The boy-King carrouselled through the lumbering gates of Angers
that brilliant October morning between two trusty knights of his
household,--loyal lieges of their late King now devoted to the service
of the son. As valiant in deeds of war as discreet in affairs of State
were Raymond d’Agout and Jehan de Morien. All three bore the proud
cognizance of Sicily-Anjou,--the golden flying eagle,--and their silken
bannerets were sewn with the white lilies of the royal house of France.
A goodly retinue of mounted men followed the young King, guarding the
person and the costly bridal gifts which accompanied the royal lover’s
cortège.

Queen-Duchess Marie, his mother, had kept as Regent unweariedly her
long ten years’ watch, not only over the business of the State, but
also over the passions and the actions of her lusty, well-grown son.
Many a maid,--royal, noble, and simple,--had attracted the comely
youth’s regard, and had flushed her face and his. Women and girls of
his time were, as an appreciative chronicler has noted, “_franches,
désintéressés, capable d’amours, épidémentés, elles restent naïve très
longtemps, parceque les vices étrangères n’ont point pénetrés dans les
familles_.”[A] Louis had responded affectionately and loyally to his
mother’s solicitude; he was famed as the St. Sebastian of his time,
whose chastity and good report had no sharp shaft of scandal pierced.

    [A] “Natural, open-hearted, amorous, and accessible, they are
    always unspoiled because odious foreign manners have never
    marred their home.”

The royal cavalcade pranced its way warily over the wide-rolling
plains and across the gently cresting hill-country of Central France,
making for the Spanish frontier. The whole of that smiling land was
ravaged by foreign foes and overrun by native ne’er-do-wells, but,
happily, no thrilling adventures have been recorded of that lengthy
progress. Near upon the eve of St. Luke, King Louis II. and his
suite were cordially welcomed in his royal castle of Montpellier,
which the two mother-Queens, Marie and Yolanda, had indicated as the
trysting-place. There the royal Court was established, whilst d’Agout
and de Morien were despatched, with a lordly following, to Perpignan
and across the frontier of Aragon to greet, at the Castle of Gerona,
the two Yolandas--who were already on their way from Barcelona--and
thence escort them to their Sovereign’s presence.

The young “Queen” was quite as anxious to meet her affianced husband
as he was to embrace her, and no undue delay hindered the resumption
of the queenly progress. It was a notable cortège, for Queen Yolanda,
holding as she did tenaciously that her daughter was, at least, titular
Queen of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia, travelled in extravagant
royal state. Besides the great chariot, with its tapestries and
furniture of richest Hispano-Moorish origin, were others almost as
sumptuous for the lords and ladies of the suite. All these had their
guards of honour--trusty veterans of King Juan’s time, and devoted to
their “Queen.” Great tumbrils, laden with costly products of Zaragoza,
Barcelona, and Valencia,--the royal trousseau and magnificent offerings
for King Louis and his widowed mother,--accompanied by well-mounted
cavalry, rolled heavily along the ancient Roman road to France.

The whole of Languedoc agreed to pay honour to the royal travellers,
and they revelled in the floral games and _fêtes galants_ offered by
every town and castle by the way. From Toulouse, the birthplace of the
bridegroom-elect, came quite appropriately a phalanx of _maintaineurs_
to Montpellier to recite and sing poems and melodies of the “_Gaya
Ciencia_.” The green rolling hills of Languedoc gave back in sweetly
echoing refrains the tuneful music of the shell-sown shores of the
rolling sea, the sun-kissed Mediterranean: all sang the “Loves of Louis
and Yolanda.”

There is a quaint and suggestive story anent the meeting of the
august young couple which calls to mind the adventures of King Juan
at the Court of Bar-le-Duc. The young King had timely warning of the
approach of his royal bride-elect, and, hastily donning the guise of
a simple knight, he mingled in the throng of enthusiastic citizens,
unrecognized, at the entrance of the town. Both Queens leaned
forward in their chariot to acknowledge the loyal greetings; and the
bride,--arrayed in golden tissue of Zaragoza, and wearing Anjou lilies
in her hair,--smiled and laughed and clapped her hands in ecstasy, the
animation adding immensely to her charms of face and figure. King Louis
was enraptured, and, falling head over ears in love, approached the
royal carriage; and kneeling on his _berretta_, he seized the youthful
Queen’s white, shapely hand, and implanted thereupon one ardent kiss.
The impact sent the hot blood coursing through his veins, and it was
as much as his esquire could do to drag his master back and hurry him
to the palace in time to change his costume and receive his royal
guests with courtly etiquette. The young Queen was conscious of this
outburst of love; she, too, coloured, and tried in vain to penetrate
the disguise of her impassioned lover. The mother-Queen instinctively
guessed who he was, and quietly remarked: “You will meet your gallant
knight again, and soon--and no mistake.”

Montpellier was all too small to accommodate such a numerous and such
a distinguished company, so King Louis gave his royal visitors barely
time to recover from the fatigues of the long coach-ride out of Spain
when he hurried on the royal train to Arles, in Provence. Queen-Duchess
Marie was already waiting at the great Archiepiscopal Palace to give
the royal visitors a cordial greeting. After having waved her son adieu
from the boudoir-balcony of the Castle of Angers, she, too, set out for
the south. She had chosen Arles for the royal nuptials, as being the
capital of the third great kingdom of Europe and the most considerable
city in her son’s dominions.

No better choice could have been made from a psychological point of
view, for have not the Arlésiennes been noted for all time for their
perfect figures,--Venus di Milo was one of them,--their graceful
carriage, and surpassingly good looks? They, with their menfolk,
animated and merry, have always eaten well and well drunk. The
delicious pink St. Peray is a more generous wine than all the vintages
of Champagne. Physical charms and _fin bouquets_ were ever incentives
to love and pleasure, and Mars of Aragon yielded up his arms to Venus
of Arles. _Arles--la belle Grecque aux yeux Sarrazines!_ Perhaps the
becoming, close-fitting black velvet _chapelles_, or bonnets, and the
diaphanous white gauze veils, did much to express _la grâce fière aux
femmes_!

It was indeed a gorgeous function at which the royal couple were
united in the bonds of matrimony, that morrow of All Saints, 1399. The
ancient basilica of St. Trophimus was one vast nave, no choir,--that
the royal brothers Louis and René built a generation later,--but it was
too circumscribed for the marriage ritual; consequently, under a gold
and crimson awning, slung on ships’ masts beyond the deeply recessed
chief portal, with its weird sculptures, the clergy took up their
station to await the bridal pageant. The Cardinal-Archbishop, Nicholas
de Brancas, joined the two young hands in wedlock, and Cardinal Adreano
Savernelli, the Papal Legate, gave the blessing of Peter, whilst the
two mother-Queens looked on approvingly.

The royal bride,--in white, of course,--had an over-kirtle, or train,
of gemmed silver tissue--a thing of wonderment and beauty worn by her
royal mother, and her mother, Marie de France, before her, and coming
from the Greco-Flemish trousseau of the famous Countess Iolande. Her
abundant brown-black hair was plaited in two thick ropes, with pearls
and silver lace reaching far below the jewelled golden cincture that
encompassed her well-formed bust. Upon her thinly covered bosom reposed
the kingly medallion of her father, King Juan, with its massive golden
chain of Estate, the emblem of her sovereign rank. Upon her finger she
wore the simple ruby ring of betrothal, now to be exchanged for the
plain golden hoop of marriage.

“Yolande is one of the most lovely creatures anybody could imagine.”
So wrote grim old Juvenal des Ursins, the chatty chronicler of Courts.
She brought to her royal spouse a rich dowry--much of the private
wealth of her father and many art treasures, among them great lustred
dishes and vases of Hispano-Moorish potters’ work, with the royal arms
and cipher thereon. Four baronies, too, passed to the Sicily-Anjou
crown: Lunel in Languedoc--famed for vintages of sweet muscatel
wines--Berre, Martignes, and Istres, all bordering the salt Étang de
Berre, in Provence, each a Venice in miniature, and rich in salt,
salt-dues, and works. The royal bride’s splendid marriage-chests were
packed full of costly products of King Juan’s kingdoms: table services
in gold from Zaragoza and finely-cut gems; delicate glass _arruxiados_,
or scent-sprinklers, and crystal tazzas from Barcelona--more famous
than Murano; great brazen vessels from Valencia and richly-woven
textiles.

The same veracious historian has painted a picture in words of the
youthful Yolande. “Tall,” he says, “slim, erect, well proportioned in
her frame, her features of a Spanish cast, dark lustrous hair, the
Queen-Duchess has an intrepid heart and an elevated spirit, which
give animation and distinction to her charming personality. She is
remarkable for decision, and commands obedience by her authoritative
manner.”

The Court did not tarry long at Arles, for, in spite of the beauty
of the women and the gallantry of the men and its other notable
attractions, it was, after all, somewhat of a dull, unhealthy place. A
move was accordingly made,--before, indeed, the festivities were quite
exhausted,--to the comfortable and roomy _manoir_ of Tarascon, a very
favourite country residence of all the Provence Princes. The gardens
were famous, and laid out in the Italian manner, and the extensive
park and fresh-water lakes were well stocked with game and fish. The
_fêtes galants_ of Louis XV. and “La Pompadour” here had their model.
The bridal couple, with their guests and retainers,--often as not in
the guise of shepherds and shepherdesses,--thus kept there state for
three merry months, until the warmer spring weather hurried them off to
Angers, in the north.

[Illustration: FAVOURITE RECREATIONS

1. A DIGNIFIED MUSIC PARTY.

2. HAND-BALL AND CHESS

Both from Miniatures in MS., Fourteenth Century, “Valeur Maxime”

British Museum

_To face page 50_]

The pretty legend of St. Martha of Bethany appealed to the young
Queen-Duchess. In the crypt of the principal church of Tarascon is
the tomb of the saint, and on the walls is her story sculptured. Once
upon a time a deadly dragon,--called by the fearful country-folk
“Tarasque,”--dwelt in a hollow cave by the Rhone shore, and fed on
human flesh. News of the devastation wrought by the monster reached
the ears of Lazarus and his sisters at Marseilles, and St. Martha took
upon herself to subdue the beast. With nothing in her hand but a piece
of the true Cross of Christ and her silken girdle of many ells in
length, she sought out the deadly dragon in his lair. Casting around
his loathsome body her light cincture, she enabled her companions
to slay him. The girdle of St. Martha became the mascot of all the
Tarasconnais, and everybody wore a goodly belt or bodice _à la Marthe_.
Such a girdle, in cloth of gold and tasselled, was offered to the young
bride by the loyal townsfolk.

The state entry of the Sovereigns into Angers,--the major capital of
the King-Duke’s dominions,--was just such another pageant as that
which greeted Queen Isabeau of Bavaria in Paris in the summer of 1385.
From ancient days Angers had been a place of note--the Andegavi of
Gallo-Roman times, a _municipium_ and a _castrum_ combined. In the
Carlovingian era the Counts--then Dukes--of the Angevines,--founders of
the great Capet family,--and their vigorous consorts nursed stalwart
sons, who were the superiors of their neighbour rulers in Frankland.
From Geoffrey Plantagenet, titular King of Jerusalem, sprang our
English Kings. Louis IX.,--St. Louis of blessed memory,--bestowed the
duchy of Anjou upon his brother John with the title of King of the Two
Sicilies; hence came the sovereign titles of Louis II. and Yolande.

The Castle of Angers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was
one of the most imposing in France. Flanked by eighteen great donjon
towers, shaped like dice-boxes, it had the aspect of a prison rather
than of a palace. The royal apartments were between two great bastions,
_Le Tour du Moulin_ and _Le Tour du Diable_. The drawbridge spanned the
deep, wide moat to the esplanade called _Le Pont du Monde_; beneath
were dark dungeons and odious oubliettes. To honour their King and
Queen, the castle household hung great swaying lengths of scarlet
“noble cloth,”--newly purchased from the Florentine merchants of the
“_Calimala_,”--to cover up the black slate-stone courses of the masonry
of _Le Diable_, whilst they concealed the rough masonry of _Le Moulin_
by strips of gorgeous yellow canvas of Cholet d’Anjou. These were the
heraldic colours of Aragon. All the gloomy slate-fronted houses of the
city,--“Black Angers” it was called,--were decorated similarly, and
gay Flemish carpets and showy skins of beasts were flaunted from the
windows. The citizens kept holiday with bunches of greenery and early
spring flowers in their hands to cast at their new liege Lady.

Queen Yolande waved her gloved hand,--a novelty in demure Angers,--in
friendly response to the plaudits of the throngs, and refused no kiss
of bearded mouth or cherry lips thereon as she rode on happily by the
side of her royal spouse. At St. Maurice,--the noble cathedral, with
its new and glorious coloured windows,--the royal cortège halted whilst
_Te Deum_ was sung, and the bridal pair were sprinkled with holy water
and censed. Another “Station” was made where the ascent to the castle
began, for there pious loyal folk had prepared the mystery-spectacles
of the “Resurrection of Christ” with “His Appearance to His Virgin
Mother.” The Saviour’s features, by a typical but strange conceit, were
those of the King-Duke, St. Mary’s those of the royal bride!

The banquetings and junketings were scenes of deep amazement to the new
Queen. In Aragon and Barcelona people ate and drank delicately,--their
menus were _à la Grecque_,--but in cold and phlegmatic Anjou great
hunks of beef and great mugs of sack,--quite _à la Romain_,--were _de
rigueur_. An old kitchen reporter of Angers records the daily fare at
the castle: “One whole ox, two calves, three sheep, three pigs, twelve
fowls.” The only artistic confection was “hippocras, seasoned with
cloves and cinnamon.” Pepper, ginger, rosemary, mint, and thyme, were
served as “delicacies.” Another harsh note on the fitness of things
which struck the royal bride as extraordinary was the loud laughter
indulged in by the gentlemen of the Court and their coarse jests; _le
rire français_ had nothing of the mellowed merriment of the “_Gaya
Ciencia_.”

Alas! the rejoicings and the feastings of the Angevines and their
guests were suddenly arrested, and the enthusiastic shouts of welcome
were drowned by harsh hammerings of armourers and raucous military
commands. The King-Duke was summoned to take his position among the
captains of France, in battle order, in face of the foreign foe,
and the Queen-Duchess, young and inexperienced as she was, assumed
the government of Angers and the care of the citizens. All France
was ravaged by the English, and State after State fell before their
onslaught. Yolande addressed herself to the strengthening of the
defences of the castle and the city. Imitating the tact and prudence of
Silvestro and Giovanni de’ Medici at Florence, she ordered the levying
of a poll-tax, rated upon the variations of land-tenure and the varying
incomes of the craftsmen: a tenth of all rateable property,--shrewdly
spread over three years, with a credit for immediate needs,--was
cordially yielded by the Angevines.

Probably this impost was made upon the advice of worthy councillors,
but, all the same, the manner in which the young _châtelaine_
Lieutenant-General in person superintended its operation was an
eloquent testimony to her force of character and her true patriotism.
She disposed of many personal belongings, and submitted to many acts
of self-denial, an example quickly followed by great and small. She
sent also to Zaragoza for master-armourers to refurbish old and temper
new weapons of various sorts. Some of these craftsmen she ordered to
give instruction to native workers; so very shortly her armoury was
efficient, not alone for home defence, but for the rearming of the
King’s forces in the field.

Not content with these warlike preparations, Queen Yolande gave time
and money for the distraction and amusement of her people in their time
of stress. Castle fêtes, town sports, and church mystery plays, were
bravely carried through. The Queen herself was everywhere--now mounted
for the chase, now tending sick folks, now at public prayers. Born
daughter of a grand race, and full of dignity, she had inherited her
mother’s happy disposition. She charmed everyone in town and country,
and endeared herself to her loving subjects by many a homely trait.

A pretty tale has been preserved about her whilst King Louis was
standing shoulder to shoulder with Charles VI. and his other peers
of France. One afternoon,--according to her wont when not hindered
by affairs of State or claims of charity,--she sallied forth to the
royal park of L’Vien, her dogs in leash. Let loose, they put up a
rabbit, which made directly for their royal mistress, and sought
refuge in the skirt of her green velvet hunting-kirtle. Reaching down
her hand, she fondled the little trembling creature, when, to her
immense surprise, she discovered upon its neck a faded ribbon, with a
medallion bearing an image of the Virgin. The incident occurred in a
woody dell within the ruins of a half-buried hermit’s cell. Yolande did
not for a moment hesitate in her interpretation of the incident. She
noted the date,--February 2, the Feast of the Purification,--and she
set to work to restore the holy house in honour of St. Mary. Upon the
portal, by her command, was sculptured the charming episode, with the
legend: “_Nôtre Dame de Sousterre, l’amie et la protectrice des âmes en
danger._”[A]

    [A] “Our Lady of the Deep Cell, the friend and protectress of
    souls in danger.”

The same year, 1401, found Louis d’Anjou and Yolande upon their way to
Paris, where she, as Queen of Jerusalem, Naples, Sicily, and Aragon,
made her state entry at the Court of Charles VI. and Isabeau. Doubtless
the young Queen was struck with Isabeau’s extraordinary freedom of
manner. Her own training, both at Zaragoza and Barcelona, in the
rigid conventions of a semi-Moorish Court, had taught her restraint
and aloofness. The dress of the French Queen astonished her, for in
Aragon and Catalonia physical charms were enhanced by semi-concealment,
whereas Isabeau exposed her painted arms, shoulders, and her breast,
right down to her cincture; whilst her low waist at the back was
pinched by a _cotte hardie_, so that the bust was enlarged to the
degree of distortion: _une taille de guêpe_--“wasp-like” indeed! The
etiquette of the Court of her father, as well as that of Anjou, kept
men out of the bedchambers of the fair, but Isabeau, _décolletée_ and
_en déshabillée_, was the centre of a crowd of flatterers and fawners
at her daily _se lever_. The dressing-room of Isabeau was the factory
of gossip and intrigue. Perhaps she gave utterance to the aphorism:

      “Ostez le fard et le vice,
      Vous luy ostez l’âme et le corps.”

      “Take away fashion and vice,
      And you expose both soul and body.”

On her side Queen Yolande caused a sensation among the French
courtiers. No one had ever seen such a wealth of gold and jewels as
that which adorned the winsome Spanish Queen. In spite of their great
dissimilarity in age, appearance, character, and manner, the two Queens
became fast friends, and Yolande was permitted to weld the intimacy
into a permanent relationship at the fortunate accouchement of Isabeau.
With admirable simplicity and charm she assumed the charge of the royal
infant, sponsored it, and gave it her own name added to Catherine. Born
to be the consort of Henry V. of England, the victor of Azincourt,
Catherine de Valois served as the gracious hostage and pledge of a
greatly-longed-for peace.

Queen Yolande was, however, approaching her own accouchement, and
Louis, judging that a fortified castle was not a desirable locality
for such an auspicious event, hurried his consort and her boudoir
entourage off to Toulouse, the gay capital of Languedoc--Toulouse of
the Troubadours. There, upon September 25, 1403, within the palace,
Yolande brought forth her first-born, her royal husband’s son and heir.
Louis the bonny boy was named by the Archbishop at the font of St.
Étienne’s Cathedral. Great was the joy over all the harvest-fields and
vineyards of Provence and Languedoc. Perhaps the good folk of Aix felt
themselves a little slighted. Why was not the happy birth planned for
their capital? they asked. Nevertheless, they sent a goodly tribute of
100,000 gold florins to the cradle of the little Prince, and saluted
him as “Vicomte d’Aix.”

The year 1404 had seasons of peculiar sorrow for the Angevine
Court, followed, happily, by joyous days. On May 19 the King-Duke’s
brother, Charles, Duke of Maine and Count of Guise, died suddenly at
Angers,--the “Black Death” they called his malady,--amid universal
regret. He had been content to play a subordinate rôle in the affairs
of State--a man more addicted to scholarly pursuits than political
activities. He had, however, proved himself the son of a good mother
and the stay of his young sister-in-law from Aragon during her spouse’s
absence from his own dominions. The Duke left one only child--a
boy--who succeeded him as Charles II. of Maine. Queen-Duchess Marie
felt her dear son’s untimely death acutely, and, notwithstanding the
loving care of her devoted daughter-in-law, she never recovered from
the prostration of her grief. Within a fortnight of the obsequies of
her son, the feet of those who had so sorrowfully borne his body forth
to burial were treading the same mournful path, tenderly bearing her
own funeral casket.

Ever since her happy marriage to Louis I. in 1360, Marie de
Châtillon-Blois had borne nobly her part as the worthy helpmeet of her
spouse and the devoted mother of his children. For ten years after his
death her gentle presence and wise counsels had directed the affairs of
the House of Sicily-Anjou, and smoothed away all difficulties from the
path of her son. She left immense wealth, which, added to the goodly
fortune of Louis I., made her son the richest Sovereign in all France.
It was said at the time that she was worth “more than twenty-two
millions of livres.” “In spite of reputed avarice and hoarding,“ said
a not too friendly historian, ”she was a sapient ruler, moderate and
firm, and she left Anjou the better for a good example.” “_Sachiez_,”
wrote Bourdigne of her, “_que c’estoit une dame de goût faiet, et
de moult grant ponchas, car point ne dormoit en poursuivant ses
besoignes_.”

These dark clouds hung heavily over Louis II. and Yolande, but the
cause of their passing was a signal of enthusiastic joy. On October 14
a little baby-girl was born. Mary, the “Mother of Sorrows,” heard the
prayer of the stricken Royal Family, and sent a new Mary to fill the
place of the lamented Duchess; for the child was named Marie simply,
and was offered to St. Mary for her own.

Troubles, however, were gathering thickly all over the devoted land
of France. The enemy in the gate, ever victorious, plundered and
pauperized every State in turn, so that the country was “like a sheep
bleating helplessly before her shearers.” Tax-gatherers and oppressors
of mankind beggared the poor and feeble, and spoiled the rich and
brave. “_Sà de l’argent? Sà de l’argent?_”--“Where’s your money?”--was
the desolating cry which the rough _cailloux_ of the village _pavé_
tossed through the draughty doorways of peasant cottages, and the
smooth courtyards echoed through the mullioned windows of seigneurs’
castles. The gatherings, in spite of rape and rapine, fell far short
of the requirements of these times of stress, and a general appeal was
made to Queens and _châtelaines_ to exercise their charms in staying
the hands of ravishers. The famous answer of Queen Isabeau was that,
alas! of Queen Yolande, though more sympathetically expressed: “_Je
suis une povre voix criant dans ce royaume, désireuse de paix et du
bien de tous!_”[A]

    [A] “I am a poor voice crying helplessly in this wretched
    kingdom, seeking only peace and the good of all.”

This aptly expressed the weary sense of disaster which saw that fateful
year expire, but for the King and Queen of Sicily-Anjou-Provence a
gleam of the brightness of Epiphany fell athwart their marital couch.
Yolande was for the third time a mother, and her child was a boy. Born
on January 6, 1408, in a crenellated tower of the castle gateway of
Angers, his mother had to bear the anxiety and the vigil all alone, for
Louis II. was in Italy fighting for his own.

As before the birth of the Princess Marie devotions had been addressed
to the Mother of God and to the saints for a favourable carriage,
now, in view of the troubles of the land, special petitions were
addressed to the most popular saint of Anjou, St. Renatus, that the
new deliverance might presage a new birth of hope for France, and that
the holy one,--the patron of child-bearing mothers who sought male
heirs,--might supplicate at the throne of heaven for a baby-boy.

Baptized in the Cathedral of St. Maurice eight days after birth, the
little Prince had for sponsors no foreign potentates, but men of
good renown and substance in Anjou: Pierre, Abbé de St. Aubin; Jean,
Seigneur de l’Aigle; Guillaume, Chevalier des Roches; and Mathilde,
Abbée de Nôtre Dame d’Angers. The Queen by proxy named her child
“René--_reconnaissance à Messire St. Renatus_.”

The Queen folded her little infant to her breast, but after weaning him
she gave him over to the care of a faithful nurse, one Théophaine la
Magine of Saumur, who came to love him, and he her, most tenderly.

Among the _documens historiques_ of Anjou are _Les Comptes de Roi
René_--notices of public works carried out in various parts of the
royal-ducal dominions. Many of these enterprises were undertaken at the
direct instance of Queen Yolande, and they throw a strong light upon
her character as a loyal spouse and sapient ruler. For example, on July
26, 1408, a _marché_, or contract, was made between the Queen’s Council
and one Julien Guillot, a master-builder, for reslating the roof of the
living apartments and the towers of the Castle of Angers, and also of
various public buildings in the city, and the manor-houses of Diex-Aye
and de la Roche au Due, at an upset price of fifty-five _livres
tournois_ (standard gold coins), “to be paid when the work is complete,
with twenty more as deposit.”

[Illustration: A MYSTERY OR MIRACLE PLAY, FIFTEENTH CENTURY

From “L’Album Historique de France”

_To face page 60_]

Again, under date October 25, 1410, another _marché_ was signed,
whereby “Jean Dueceux and Jean Butort, master-carpenters of Angers,
agree to strengthen the woodwork of the castle chapel and replace
worn-out corbels. All to be finished against the Feast of the Magdalen,
at a total cost of two hundred _livres tournois_, according to the
order of Queen Yolande and her Council.” King Louis had in 1403
assigned a benefaction of twenty-five gold livres to the ancient chapel
of St. John Baptist, to be paid yearly for ever, as a thank-offering
for the birth of Princess Marie.

These _documens_ are full of such notices, and they also record
events of festive interest. One such incident had a most ludicrous
dénouement: “On the twenty-seventh of June, 1409, Messire Yovunet
Coyrant, Superintendent of the Castle of Angers, paid a visit of
inspection, and he complained that on Sunday, June 23rd of this month,
being within the said castle, where a merry company was occupied with
games and drolleries before Queen Yolande and the Court, he stood for
a time to watch the fun. Quite unknown to him, the tails of his new
long coat, which had cost him ten solz [half a livre], were cut off
by some miscreant or other, whereby he became an object of derision!
For this insult he claimed satisfaction, and named as his go-betweens
Guye Buyneart and Jehan Guoynie.” Whether these practical jokers were
inspired by the Queen we know not, but this trifling record shows that
she was not entirely absorbed by the heavy responsibilities of her rank
as Lieutenant-General of her consort, but found time to indulge in some
of the gaieties which had been the joy of her mother and herself in
Aragon, and which had graced her own nuptials and entry into Anjou and
Provence.

Again the mirthful pursuits of the Court and country were stayed by
the stringency of the times. Sedition spread its baneful influence all
over Provence and Languedoc what time King Louis was still far away
fighting in Italy. With courage, fraught with love and assurance, she
set off to the distant province, taking with her, not only an escort
of doughty war-lords, but also her own tender nurslings--Louis, Marie,
and René. With her children was also the young Princess Catherine,
daughter of Jean “sans Peur,” the Duke of Burgundy, whose betrothal
to her eldest son Louis was imminent. Through his children her appeal
would first be made to her husband’s disaffected subjects. Should
that fail, then she could don cuirass and casque and head her royal
troops to worst them. With little Vicomte d’Aix upon her saddle-lap,
she passed through village, town, and city, receiving enthusiastic
plaudits everywhere; she was “_Madame la Nostre Royne_!” The head of
the rebellion was scotched, and from Aix the intrepid Queen despatched
messengers to the King to tell of her success, and to say that she was
ready to embark at once to his assistance.

This heroic offer was made possible by the death of King Martin of
Aragon in 1410, who bequeathed to his niece the whole of his private
fortune. This event, however, added to the Queen’s anxieties, for
she was not the sort of woman to allow the royal succession to pass
for ever unchallenged. _La Justicia Mayor_ of the State of Aragon
assembled at the ancient royal castle of Alcañiz to receive the names
and to adjudicate the claims of candidates for the vacant throne.
Yolande, still styling herself “Queen of Aragon,” was represented by
Louis, Duke of Bourbon, and Antoine, Count of Vendôme. Her claim was
not immediately for herself, but for her son Louis. Two years were
spent in acrimonious deliberations, but the provisions of the Salic
Law penalized the female descent, and consequently the next male heir,
Prince Ferdinand of Castile, placed the crown of Aragon upon his head
as well as that of Castile. Queen Yolande had to be content with her
protest and her titular sovereignty.

Back at Angers in 1413, the Queen conceived a notable future for her
nine-years-old daughter, Marie. Of the six sons of Charles VI. of
France and Isabeau, only one survived, the fifth-born, Charles. The
imperious Bavarian Queen had little or none of Queen Yolande’s fondness
for her offspring; they were born, alas! put out to nurse, forgotten,
and neglected--so they died. Upon the little Prince--the cherished
jewel of his father--Queen Yolande fixed her motherly regard. He was
a year older than her Marie, and a piteous little object bereft of a
mother’s love and solicitude. Yolande’s warm heart yearned towards the
lonely child; she would mother him, she would train him, and then she
would marry him to Marie--this was the Queen’s dream.

With that promptitude which marked all her well-considered actions,
Queen Yolande set about the realization of her castle in the air. She
again packed up herself, her children, and her Court, and took up her
abode in the Château de Mehun-sur-Yèvre, near Bourges, a favourite
residence of the French Court. Among her little ones was a baby-girl,
no more than six months old--Yolande, her own name-child. She gave
as her reason for so strange a line of conduct her wish for greater
facilities in the education of her children. Charles VI. offered no
objection to the residence of such a worthy mother and heroine wife in
his own neighbourhood; indeed, he regarded her advent with considerable
pleasure and satisfaction. Yolande’s influence for good would outweigh
Isabeau’s for evil; besides, she would be a trusty counsellor.

Queen Yolande had not been very long established at Mehun before she
put in a plea on behalf of the poor little heir to the throne of
France. Charles was thankful, he was delighted, and at once gave into
her sole charge, untrammelled in any way, his dear little son, to share
the home care and the studies of his two young cousins, Louis and René
d’Anjou. Having obtained the charge of the little Count de Ponthieu,
Queen Yolande once more went home to Angers, by no means embarrassed
by the fact that she had assumed the training of two Kings, Louis and
Charles, with René a possible King of Aragon besides.

For two years Charles passed for Yolande’s son, the playmate and
boy-lover of her sweet Marie. All his inspirations and his examples he
took from her and them--at last a happy boy, with a hopeful future. The
Queen allowed that future no halting steps; Charles and Marie should
be betrothed, and Mary should be Queen of France! Yolande broached
the subject to King Charles, and at once gained his cordial consent,
but tactfully she left to him the furthering of the project. Upon
December 18, 1415, Charles of France and Marie of Sicily-Anjou were
privately affianced in the Royal Chapel of the Castle of Bourges.
France was in the throes of revolution and dissolution; the terrible
defeat at Azincourt, on October 24 that same year, had paralyzed the
military power of the French States, and was the ultimate cause of King
Charles’s insanity. For seven years he became a fugitive, not only
bereft of reason, but of all resources. Queen Isabeau did nothing to
relieve the tension, but maintained her irreconcilable position, and
continued her ill-living. The King’s only brother, the lamented Duke of
Orléans, had been assassinated eight years before, and there appeared
to be no one capable of steering the ship of State into a calm haven.

This was Queen Yolande’s opportunity, and she rose to its height
majestically. She was already guardian of the Dauphin, who after his
espousal returned with his child-bride to Angers. Now she assumed the
general direction of affairs, and became virtually Regent of France
and the arbiter of her destiny. She personally approached the English
King, and obtained from him favourable terms of peace, which assured
tranquillity and regeneration for France. She it was who proposed to
Henry his alliance with her young goddaughter, Catherine, the youngest
child of Charles VI. and Isabeau, then fourteen years of age. He was
twenty-eight, and the marriage was consummated five years later,
although Henry’s terms included the payment of the arrears of the
ransom of King John the “Good,” the prisoner of Poitiers, a sum of
2,000,000 crowns.

The Queen’s judgment and resourcefulness eminently merited the
grudging encomium of the wife of her husband’s fiercest rival, the
Duchess of Burgundy. “I am always glad,” she said, “when it is a good
woman who governs, for then all good men follow her!”

All this time,--a time fraught with infinite issues,--King Louis II.
of Sicily-Anjou was in Italy, meeting in his campaign with varied
fortune. He had all he could do to hold his own, but his presence at
the head of his army was essential to ultimate success. Three times
he entered Naples acclaimed as King, for Queen Giovanna II. had named
him so. Three times he fled discomfited after victory, which he failed
to follow up. He rarely returned to his French dominions, and really
he had no necessity so to do on the score of administration, for his
beloved and capable Lieutenant-General was perfectly able to keep
everything in order and uphold his authority. At last the King of
Sicily-Anjou and Naples returned to Angers a broken and an ailing man,
to spend what time Providence would still grant him with his devoted
noble wife.

Queen Yolande’s first great grief came to her in 1417, when her
faithful husband was taken from her. Happily for them both, they
were united at the deathbed--consoling and consoled. He was young to
die--barely forty years of age--but ripe enough for the greedy grasp
of Death. Louis II.’s fame was that of a “loyal Sovereign, a righteous
man, a true spouse, and an affectionate father.”



CHAPTER III

YOLANDA D’ARRAGONA--“A GOOD MOTHER AND A GREAT QUEEN”--_continued_


I.

A royal corpse reposed upon the state tester bedstead within the great
Hall of Audiences in the enceinte of the Castle of Angers, and a royal
widow knelt humbly at a prie-dieu at his feet. It was late in the
evening of that sweet April day,--half sun, half shower,--that the
body of Louis II., King of Sicily, Naples, Jerusalem, and Anjou, was
ceremonially displayed, flanked by huge yellow wax candles in chiselled
sticks of Gerona brasswork. The tapestried walls of this _chapelle
ardente_ were covered with sable cloth sewn with silver lilies and hung
with great garlands of yew. The head of the lamented Sovereign reposed
upon a soft cushion of blue velvet, put there by the widow herself.
Upon his breast, with its pectoral cross, was his favourite “_Livre des
Heures_,” one of the famous treasures of the collection of King John
the “Good,” his grandfather.

In her black velvet _chapelle_, with its close gauze veil concealing
her beautiful hair, and attired in sombre black, unrelieved, the
devotional figure, sorrowful and brave, was none other than “Good”
Queen Yolande. Her right hand rested consolingly upon the shoulder of
her eldest son, now Louis III., a well-grown stripling of fourteen.
Around his neck his mother had but just hung the chain and medallion
of sovereignty, taken tenderly from her dead spouse. Behind them knelt
Prince René and Princess Marie, the fondest of playmates, weeping
bitterly, poor children! The vast hall was filled with courtiers,
soldiers, citizens, all manifesting signs of woe and regret. The royal
obsequies were conducted magnificently, under the personal direction
of the Queen, within the choir of the Cathedral of St. Maurice. Feuds
of rival Sovereigns, operations against the foreign foe, quarrels of
fault-finders, and the like, were all hushed in the presence of the
King of Terrors. To Angers thronged royal guests and simple folk to pay
their last tributes of respect and devotion. In state, King Charles
VI. started to tender his homage to the dead, but, struck down with
sudden illness at Orléans, he requested Queen Isabeau to take his
place. Burial rites were not much in that giddy woman’s way, and her
hard heart had no room for sympathy and condolence; so the “Scourge of
France,” as she was called, gave Angers a wide berth.

The Angevine royal children were five in number, and Louis left
besides a natural son,--Louis de Maine, Seigneur de Mezières,--and
a natural daughter,--Blanche,--whom René, when he attained his
father’s throne in 1434, married to the Sieur Pierre de Biège. The
defunct King’s will appointed four simple knights,--his henchmen
true,--executors: Pierre de Beauvais and Guy de Laval for Anjou, and
Barthélèmy and Gabriel de Valorey for Provence, with Hardoyn de Bueil,
Bishop of Angers, as moderator. The Queen-mother was constituted Regent
of the kingdoms and dominions and guardian of the young King, whilst
Prince René was commended, under his father’s will, to the charge of
his great-uncle Louis, Cardinal and Duke de Bar, with the family title
of Comte de Guise.

[Illustration: KING LOUIS OF SICILY-ANJOU

(KING RENÉ’S FATHER)

From Coloured Glass Window, Le Mans Cathedral

_To face page 68_]

The loss of her second son and the parting of the brothers was a sore
trial to the whole family. The Cardinal, however, insisted upon his
young nephew being sent to him at Bar-le-Duc, to be educated under
his eye and prepared for his destiny as future Duke of Bar, which the
Cardinal caused to be announced both in Anjou and Barrois. Louis de
Bar was a very distinguished ecclesiastic; he had passed through every
grade of Holy Order with rare distinction. In 1391 the Pope conferred
upon him the bishopric of Poitiers, and two years later translated
him to Langres, with the Sees also of Châlons and Verdun. The latter
dignity carried with it the degree of Grand Peer of France, and in
those days Bishops were regarded as temporal Sovereigns within the
jurisdiction of their Sees. Benedict XIII. in 1397 preconized Louis
de Bar Cardinal-Bishop, and named him Papal Legate in France and
Germany. His temporal honours as Duke of Bar came to him in 1415, after
the calamitous battle of Azincourt, in which his two elder brothers,
Édouard and Jehan, fell gloriously. Their untimely deaths and disasters
keen and sad brought about, too, the death of good Duke Robert, their
father. He died of a broken heart, whilst Duchess Marie shut herself
up in a convent, and was never known again to smile. Her death has not
been recorded.

After bidding adieu to her dearly loved son,--perhaps her favourite
child, and most like herself in temperament and character,--Queen
Yolande, with the young King, was fully occupied in receiving addresses
of condolence and assurances of loyalty both at Angers and at Aix, to
which they made a progress in full state. She assumed the personal
direction of affairs, appointing tactfully as assessors the most
prominent men of all classes in both domains. In a very distinct sense
she was a democratic Sovereign, and under her régime the Estates
were allowed a good deal of independent action in matters, at least,
of local policy. Thus, by maintaining the dignity of the crown of
Sicily-Anjou-Provence and encouraging popular government, Queen Yolande
initiated the first free constitution in the history of all France.

The stability of the throne and the welfare of its subjects having
been secured, the Queen turned her attention to the matrimonial
prospect of her eldest son. Some years before King Louis’s death, Jean
“sans Peur,” Duke of Burgundy,--in days when the Courts of Angers and
Dijon saw eye to eye, and the States were not rivals in the direction
of the general policy of the French Sovereigns,--had confided his
little daughter Catherine to the charge of the eminent Queen of
Sicily-Anjou, to be brought up with her own girls, the Princesses
Marie and Yolande. Then the idea of the betrothal of Louis d’Anjou
and Catherine de Bourgogne was accepted as a very excellent mutual
arrangement; indeed, the Duke had named his intention of dowering the
Princess with 50,000 _livres tournois_ (= _circa_ £30,000), besides
placing the castle at the disposal of the young couple upon the
consummation of the marriage.

There had arisen coolness and suspicion between the Sovereigns
of France and the Duke of Burgundy, whose connection with the
assassination of the Duke of Orléans, in 1407, had never been cleared
up. The Duke, moreover, had seen good,--in view of his professed claims
to the crown of France,--to make terms with the King of England which
would, under certain circumstances, gain territorial aggrandizement
for Burgundy, and ultimately the reversion to his family of the
royal title. This _rapprochement_ with the hated invader of Northern
France,--the foe at the gates of Anjou,--lead summarily to the
renunciation by the Angevine Sovereigns of all matrimonial affinities
between the Houses of Anjou and Burgundy. Little Princess Catherine was
sent home to Dijon, and the Duke scouted the Anjou alliance, and made
terms with Lorraine, a step which in another decade told disastrously
against the son of Queen Yolande.

She, on the other hand, cared very little for the change of front
of Duke Jean “sans Peur.” Her mind had all along been made up in the
matter of her son’s betrothal, and her eyes were turned to Brittany,
whose Sovereigns were the most stable and the most powerful in France.
The dual crown of Sicily-Anjou was rich, and the prospects of the new
occupant of that throne with respect to Naples, and possibly to Aragon,
were of the highest; consequently the matrimonial market was absolutely
at her command. Politically it was clear that an alliance of Anjou
and Brittany would more than balance that of Burgundy and Lorraine.
Very tactfully the Angevine Queen-mother caused her “cousin” at Nantes
to know that a nuptial arrangement between her son and a daughter of
Duke Jean VI. would be favourably considered at Angers. To pave the
way more auspiciously, splendid fêtes were organized at the castle, to
which the ducal family of Brittany were invited as principal guests of
honour. The Duke and Duchess were accompanied by their young daughter,
Princess Isabelle, and were greatly affected by their reception. In the
tournaments, pageants, and floral games, the young Bretagne Princes
gained all the laurels, whilst the blushing Princess, as the “Queen of
Beauty,” bestowed the prizes upon the victors.

On July 3 a royal function in the Cathedral of Angers brought the
fêtes to an auspicious finish, for there Louis d’Anjou and Isabelle
de Bretagne were formally espoused, the young couple being of the
same age. Alas for the hopes of all concerned! the Princess,--a
very beautiful and an accomplished girl,--was not destined to wear
the Queen-consort’s crown of Sicily-Anjou. Before the year was out
she sickened of plague,--as captious critics said, caught in “Black
Angers,”--and died. This was a serious blow to Queen Yolande’s
diplomacy, but she was not the sort of woman to waste time in
unprofitable lamentations.

By the force of circumstances, seen and unseen, the Queen-mother’s
search for favourable alliances and an eligible consort for her son
was greatly aided by the fresh aggression of the English under Henry
V. In face of the common danger, which threatened alike the western
and the eastern States of France, Queen Yolande found her opportunity
of immensely strengthening the position of her son’s dominions by
detaching Burgundy and Lorraine from the English alliance. At Saumur
she signed the articles of a defensive and offensive treaty between
the four great duchies,--Bretagne, of course, being one,--_La Ligue de
Quatre_, it was called.

Next to the assurance of political security at home, this instrument
set the astute Queen free to turn her attention to the support of her
son’s claims to the throne of Naples. First appertaining to the older
line of Anjou in the person and descendants of Jehan, brother of St.
Louis, they had lapsed until King Louis I. of Sicily-Anjou asserted
his right as head of the younger line of Anjou in virtue of the grant
by his father, King John the “Good.” These prerogatives, alas! Louis
II. had lost the year he died, and their reacquisition was the destiny
of his son. In furtherance of these duties, Queen Yolande conceived
that an Italian alliance, with the corollary of a matrimonial contract
for the young King, were indicated, and she set to work to elaborate a
scheme which should achieve the ends in view.

In September, 1418, Queen Yolande opened negotiations directly with
Amadeo VIII., Duke of Savoy, first for his assistance in the field of
battle, and next for the betrothal of his daughter Margherita, then an
infant of three years old. A treaty was signed on October 18, wherein
the Duke agreed to receive young King Louis in Savoy, and either
personally to accompany him through the proposed campaign, or at least
to see his embarkation at Genoa at the head of a Savoyard contingent of
ten thousand men-at-arms, for the recovery of the crown of Naples. One
clause ceded the county of Nice to Savoy in lieu of moneys borrowed by
Louis II. for his Naples expedition. Appended to this treaty was the
marriage contract, which appointed Chambéry,--the capital of Savoy,--as
the place, and Lady Day the following year as the date, for the formal
espousal of Louis and Margherita.

Steps were at once taken for the young King to enter upon his
expedition in a manner suited to his rank and commensurate with the
military movements of the time. Angers once more resounded to the
metallic music of armourers. A Guild of Sword-Cutlers was incorporated,
and skilled craftsmen from Aragon were again welcomed by the Queen.
Masters of Arms, too, were invited to give Louis the best instruction
in warlike exercises, Yolande herself meanwhile inculcating lessons
of hardihood, chivalry, and patriotism. Hers, happily, was the
satisfaction of knowing that these efforts were productive of the best
results, for the youthful Sovereign quickly became an expert and an
enthusiast.

It does not appear that the young King took much interest in the
matrimonial part of the negotiations. An unripe boy of sixteen would
naturally be very much more affected by military prowess than by
uxorious daintiness. The service of Mars was very much more to his
liking than that of Venus, and he addressed himself zealously to the
task of winning back his grandfather’s crown and sceptre, which his
father had failed to retain. It was doubtless a daring enterprise for
a youth to undertake, but we may be quite sure that he inherited not a
little of his family’s well known fearlessness. Province was denuded
of her garrisons, and Languedoc also; but no men could be spared from
Anjou and Bar, and it was but the nucleus of an army which Queen
Yolande reviewed at Marseilles, whither she went to bid adieu to her
dearly loved son upon his adventurous career.

[Illustration: COMMUNION OF A KNIGHT

Sculpture from Interior, Western Façade, Reims Cathedral

_To face page 74_]

Louis sailed for Genoa, where he met the Duke of Savoy and took command
of his contingent. He anchored in the Bay of Naples on August 15, 1420,
a day full of favourable omens. On the voyage he fell in with the fleet
of the King of Aragon, his rival for the crown of Naples, and worsted
it. At once he went off to Aversa, where the Queen of Naples, Giovanna
II., received him with open arms. His _naïveté_ delighted her, jaded as
she was with the attentions of willing and unwilling aspirants for her
favours. She created him Duke of Calabria, and proclaimed him her heir
in lieu of the defeated and discredited Alfonso.

It was a perilous position for the vigorous and gallant stripling
Prince, but the counsels of his virtuous mother were not thrown away.
The young King refused the amorous royal overtures successfully, and
having kissed the Queen’s hand, he offered a plausible excuse, and
speedily took his departure for Rome. The Supreme Pontiff extended
to the youthful hero his paternal benediction, and detained him at
the Vatican just long enough to invest him with the title of King
of Naples, in place, as His Holiness wished, of the worthless and
abandoned Queen. Thence Louis travelled on to Florence and Milan, and
obtained promises of substantial assistance from their rulers against
the pretensions of the King of Aragon.

But to return to Anjou and the “good mother” there, the anxious and
busy Queen Yolande.

The _Revue Numismatique du Maine_ contains many paragraphs recounting
the Queen’s prudence and activity in military matters. Under date
June 10, 1418, for example, she issued an order to the Seneschal and
Treasurer of Provence “to reimburse one Jehan Crepin, keeper of the
Castle of Forcalquier, whence one of the sovereign titles are taken,
the advance made by him for the reparation of the said castle.” On
February 18, 1419, the States of Provence assembled at Aix besought
the Queen, as head of the State, “to suppress the tax which had been
levied upon the circulation of foreign money, with a view to greater
facilities being accorded for the payment of sums required for the
defence of the country.” A few years later,--in 1427,--the authorities
of the city of Marseilles prayed the Queen, then at Tarascon, to
authorize them to impose a poll-tax upon all foreign merchants in the
port, “so that the funds at their command might be enlarged, for the
express purpose of fitting out vessels of war.” The inhabitants of
Martignes, which county Yolande had brought, on her marriage, to the
possessions of her husband,--on December 20, 1419,--sought for their
Queen-Countess, as ruler and administrator, the right to retain certain
dues on the production of salt for the defence of their coast-line.
There are very many such entries in the State papers of the reign;
indeed, both before and after the departure of Louis III. for Naples,
Queen Yolande was recognized as responsible ruler for her son.


II.

If Louis’s matrimonial prospects were somewhat clouded by the extreme
youth of his child-bride, the Queen was by no means discouraged in
her policy of influential alliances. Her second son, René, who had
won all hearts in Barrois, was actually married to Princess Isabelle
of Lorraine in 1420, although she was no more than nine years old,
and he but twelve. This match was, however, not wholly the work of
Queen Yolande; her ideas, however, were those which impelled her
uncle, Cardinal Louis de Bar, directly to ask the hand of the juvenile
Princess.

The year before this precocious marriage the Cardinal had formally
proclaimed René his heir to the duchy of Bar, and created him Marquis
of Pont-à-Mousson. This action greatly displeased Arnould, Duke of
Berg, whose wife was Marie de Bar, a sister of the Cardinal. She
preferred claims to the succession as next of kin to her brother,
and when she was refused, the Duke took up arms and advanced upon
Bar-le-Duc. The movement failed, and young René saw the Duke’s dead
body taken away for burial without emotion. The young Prince had been
for nearly two years residing at his great-uncle’s castle, under
his immediate care and instruction. Among the tutors chosen for his
training were Maestre Jehan de Proviesey, a grammarian and Latinist,
and Maestre Antoine de la Salle, poet and musician. Such instructors
were _de rigueur_, of course, for the true development of a perfect
gentleman and courtier. The latter master wrote a treatise entitled
“_Les quinze joyes de la mariage: instructions addressés aux jeunes
hommes_.” This he dedicated to his pupil, Prince René. Among the quaint
aphorisms it contains, this must have caused more than a smile on the
part of the young knight:

      “Bon cheval, mauvais cheval, veut l’esperon;
      Bonne femme, mauvaise femme, veut le baston!”

Perhaps the pith of the treatise is expressed in the neat quintet:

      “Quattuor sunt que mulieres summe cupiunt,
      A formis amari juvenibus,
      Pottere fillis pluribus
      Ornari preciosis vestibus
      Et dominari pre ceteris in domibus.”

René’s time was, however, not wholly absorbed by his studies in school
and Court, for he bestrode his warhorse like a man, and rode forth by
his great-uncle’s side on punitive expeditions against recalcitrant
vassals and against the incursions of freebooters, who under the
designation of “_Soudoyers_” were devastating the duchy. It was said of
the Cardinal: “_Il savait au besoin porter ung bassinet pour mitre et
pour croix d’or un tache d’acier_!”

Directly Duke Robert died, and the succession fell to an ecclesiastic,
the dissatisfied subjects of the Barrois crown considered it a
favourable opportunity for throwing off their allegiance. Jean
de Luxembourg, a cousin of the widowed Duchess Marie, and Robert
de Sarrebouche,--at the extreme limits of the territories of the
duchy,--were perhaps the most conspicuous for their infidelity. The
Cardinal-Duke struck home at once, and both rebels surrendered. In
the case of the latter, Prince René was put forward to receive his
submission, on his great-uncle’s behalf. The “proud Sieur de Commercy,”
as he was called, was compelled to kneel in the market-place of
Commercy before the boy-knight, and, putting his great hands between
the tender palms of his Prince, obliged to swear as _vostre homme
et vostre vassail_! The Prince’s bearing in this his first military
campaign was beyond all praise, and the Cardinal was delighted with his
chivalry. The Duke of Lorraine sent to compliment him upon his courage,
and his doting mother, Queen Yolande, held a ten-days festival at
Angers, and rang all the church bells in honour of her son’s baptism of
blood.

These exploits caused the youthful hero to carry himself proudly, and
greatly increased his self-conceit. This latter development had an
amusing and yet a very natural sequel. The Prince with his own hand,
under the instruction of Maestre Jehan de Proviesey, wrote letters
to all the leading men of Angers, Provence, Barrois, and Lorraine,
in which he enlarged upon the boldness of his conduct; and inditing
sententious maxims, he sought their approbation and good-will. The
Cardinal-Duke doubtless smiled good-humouredly at these juvenile
effusions, but at the same time he reconstituted the Barrois knightly
“_Ordre de la Fidélité_,” which embraced as members all the young
French Princes, and created René de Bar, as he was now called, first
and principal Knight. The Prince henceforward wore the motto of his
Order embroidered upon his _berretta_ and chimere--“_Tout Ung_”--and
chose it as his _gage de guerre_.

Louis de Bar had, however, other duties and pursuits to place before
his favourite nephew. At the Court of Dijon resided two famous Flemish
painters, brothers--Hubert and Jehan Van Eyck, pensioners of the
enlightened Duke of Burgundy. By means of bribes and other influences
brought to bear, they were induced to remove to Bar-le-Duc, and with
them came Petrus Christus and other pupils. Keen patron of the arts
and crafts, the Cardinal-Duke encouraged his principal courtiers and
vassals to send their sons to them for instruction in the art of
painting. The first pupil enrolled in Barrois upon the books of the
Van Eycks was none other than Prince René, and no pupil showed greater
talent and greater perseverance. His uncle once said to him: “René,
if thou wast not destined to succeed me as Duke of Bar and leader of
her armies, I would make of thee an artist.” In his veins, we must
remember, ran Flemish blood,--his famous and talented ancestress, the
Countess-Princess Iolande, came from Flanders,--and these excellent
pigment masters appear to have stirred qualities in the young Prince
which eventually proclaimed him the foremost royal artist in Europe.

The Cardinal also inculcated in his nephew the love and taste for
objects of beauty. He was himself a proficient in the craft of
goldsmithery, and, moreover, possessed a very magnificent collection
of gold and silver work. Part of this had come to him from his mother,
Duchess Marie of France, who took to Bar her share of her father’s
treasures, the good King John. Of these, the Cardinal presented to Pope
John XXIII. in 1414 a writing-table made of cedar, covered with plates
of solid gold, and the superb gold chalice and paten which are still
used in the Papal chapel at Rome at special Masses by His Holiness
himself. Another precious goblet, mounted with sapphires and rubies,
was bequeathed to the Cardinal’s sister, the Princess Bonne, Countess
of Ligny.

[Illustration: A ROYAL REPAST, FIFTEENTH CENTURY

PROCESSION OF THE KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE

From “L’Album Historique de France”

_To face page 80._]

The ducal gardens at Bar-le-Duc were famous. The Cardinal sent
to Italy for skilled gardeners, who reproduced something of the
terrestrial glories of that favoured land. Tuscan sculptors and
Venetian decorative painters followed in the wake of the gardeners,
who not only designed architectural terraces with marble statues and
garden-pavilions with painted ceilings, but also designed and minted
medals and plaques of the Cardinal, Prince René, and other members of
the family. Naturally, the young Hereditary Duke revelled in these
graceful settings for the floral games and festive pastimes which made
the Barrois Court, even in the absence of a reigning Duchess, the
rendezvous of poets, gallants, and beauties. Here, too, the Prince’s
natural love for music had full play; he became a poet and a troubadour
“in little,” if not in “great.” In a very real kind of way René’s
training in the arts of war and in the arts of peace was the very same
which made a Lorenzo de’ Medici at Florence and a Francesco Sforza at
Milan.

Amid all these occupations, the Prince had few opportunities for
visiting his birthplace, Angers, and his devoted mother there.
Travelling was very insecure, and the Cardinal disparaged any
expedition beyond the bounds of the duchy. Only one such visit is
recorded, and that in 1422, when René took his absent brother’s place
to give away his favourite sister Marie to Charles VII. of France, and
then Queen Yolande once more embraced her son. On the other hand, the
Prince was permitted by his uncle to vigorously assist King Charles
against Louis de Châlons, Prince of Orange, who was devastating
Dauphiné. In another direction the young warrior gained laurels also.
Named protector of the city of Verdun, he destroyed the rebel castle
of Renancourt and the fortresses of La Ferté, and hastened to the
assistance of his kinsman, the Count of Ligny, at Baumont en Argonne.
Guillaume de Flavy and Jehan de Mattaincourt surrendered, and René
cleared the country of disaffected marauders and adventurers.

Charles V.’s speech at the siege of Metz one hundred years later might
very well have fitted the youthful conqueror in Barrois: “Fortune is a
woman: she favours only the young.”

Queen Yolande’s eldest son, Louis III., was meanwhile meeting with
varying fortunes in Italy, but the slow progress of his campaign
greatly chagrined his dauntless mother. She actually made up her mind
to set out for Naples in person to try and turn the slow tide of
victory into an overpowering flood; but Anjou was too closely invested
by the English for the realization of her project. Here, however,
the Queen had her militant opportunity, for at the bloody battle of
Baugé,--between La Flèche and Saumur,--in 1421, the English were routed
and so greatly disheartened that they evacuated all their strategic
points within and around the duchy. That victory was gained directly by
Queen Yolande, who commanded in person, sitting astride a great white
charger, clothed in steel and silver mail. Some years later King René
built an imposing castle upon the heights overlooking the field of
battle in memory of his mother’s valour.

The Queen’s warlike ardour, however, received a check, for Queen
Marie, driven with King Charles before the all-conquering English,
escaped to Bourges, and there begged her mother to hasten to her side.
She needed, not a mailed woman’s fist, but the gentle hand of her good
mother at her accouchement. Louis le Dauphin, her first-born, saw the
light in the Archbishop’s Palace on July 3, 1423. Those days were
dark indeed for France, but a brilliant star was about to rise above
her eastern horizon. Towards the end of 1428 strange reports began to
spread all over the stricken country concerning a simple village maiden
in far-off Champagne, to whom, in the obscure village of Domremy,
Divine visions had been vouchsafed. Her mission, it was stated, was
nothing less than the deliverance of France and the coronation of King
Charles at Reims.

Nowhere did the mysterious tidings create greater interest than
among the members of the Royal Families and Courts of Sicily-Anjou
and France. When the news of Jeanne d’Arc’s arrival with Duke René
reached Angers, Queen Yolande set out at once for Chinon, that she
might judge for herself of the girl and her mission. Very greatly
struck was the Queen by the maid’s youth, comeliness, and innocence.
Her simple manners and unaffected devotion convinced Yolande that she
had no adventuress to deal with. She conversed freely with her, and her
simple narrative and fearless courage determined her to take the maid
under her direct patronage. When it was proposed to inquire formally
into Jeanne’s character and mental bias, the Queen promptly allocated
to herself that duty. She called to her assistance three ladies of her
Court of good repute. Jehan Pasquerelle has quaintly recorded this
plenary council of matrons: “_Fust icelle Pucelle baillée à la Royne
de Cecile, mère de la Royne, nostre souveraine, et à certaines dames
d’estant avec elle, dont estoient les Dames de Gaucourt, de Fiennes, et
de Trèves_.” Another chronicler adds the name of Jeanne de Mortèmar,
wife of the Chancellor, Robert le Maçon. Their verdict was a complete
vindication of Jeanne’s honour and sincerity.

The tongue of slander had associated René and Jeanne in a liaison. The
Court of Chinon was full of evil gossip, and the more ill-conditioned
courtiers and hirelings, both men and women, revelled in compromising
insinuations and coarse jests. Queen Yolande determined once and for
all to put an end to these baseless and foul rumours. She knew her son
too well to doubt his honour, and now she pledged herself to defend
that of the village maid. Several of the offenders were dismissed the
service of the King, and warned to hold their tongue, unless they
wished for condign punishment.

History has done scant justice to Queen Yolande for the part she bore
in the drama of Jeanne d’Arc. It was in a very great measure due to her
that the maid’s mission was carried out. Whilst Charles was dallying
with his idle associates and procrastinating in his military measures,
Yolande played the man. Her intrepid counsels and fearless insistence
were the levers which moved her son-in-law’s inertness. There is a
story told that, when Queen Marie’s gentle chiding had failed to rouse
her desponding consort, Queen Yolande appeared before him clothed in
full armour, and demanded why the King of France skulked in his castle!

“See, Charles,” she said, “if you refuse to follow _La Pucelle_ at once
and do your duty to God and to your country, I will go forth as your
lieutenant, and in person lead your army against the English. But shame
to you to trust in a woman’s arm rather than your own! Rouse you like a
man, and begone!”

This emphatic order fairly called out Charles’s manhood, roused, to
be sure, by the mission of Jeanne d’Arc. Nothing excites a man more
than a woman’s threats to take his place and do his work; and many
women can be as good as their word, and one of these was Yolande of
Sicily-Anjou-Aragon.

The noble patriotic Queen-mother, moreover, backed her stout words
by actions firm. With that splendid unselfishness which marked her
character, she raised a considerable sum of money by the sale of her
jewellery and other precious possessions, and applied it, together with
the substantial offerings of her devoted subjects, to the fitting out
of a convoy of provisions and necessaries for the besieged garrison of
Orléans. She also persuaded the University of Angers, which her late
consort, Louis II., had founded in 1398, to vote a goodly sum of money
towards the King’s expenses. Charles, stirred by the gentleness of
Jeanne and the vigour of Yolande, was no longer despondent. The Queen
thankfully noted his confidence in his mysterious guide from Domremy,
but she remained at Chinon until she had seen him and his equipage take
boat upon the Loire. His last words to his mother-in-law were: “Yes,
now I am on my way to Reims with Jeanne, my oracle, my Queen--_ma Royne
blanche: tous pour Dieu et la France!_” Yolande then quietly returned
to her castle at Angers, and Anjou once more greeted the King’s
guardian and the Lieutenant-General of his dominions.

The decade had its consolations as well as its troubles, and among
them Queen Yolande rejoiced at the births of vigorous grandchildren.
To Queen Marie were born Princesses Jeanne and Yolande, as well as the
Dauphin Louis; and to Duke René, Jean, Louis, Nicholas, Yolande, and
Marguerite, in lawful wedlock. The Queen-mother, too, had satisfaction
in the less disturbed state of Barrois and Lorraine, of receiving
at Angers her son René and his fair young wife Isabelle. He had
added to the bays of victory the palms of peace, and his fame as an
administrator of justice and charity was already spread abroad.

The Cardinal-Duke Louis was ageing rapidly, and he executed his final
testament whilst his nephew and niece were in Anjou. Everything was
left to René, who had as much as he could do to get back to Bar-le-Duc
in time to receive his uncle’s last blessing and close his eyes in
death. The dying Prince was at the Abbey of Varennes when he breathed
his last, on February 15, 1431. Duke René was at once proclaimed his
successor, and the Estates of Barrois did their homage heartily. The
career of the young Duke had been developed under the approving eyes of
his uncle’s subjects, and his marriage with Isabelle de Lorraine had
been immensely popular. The new reign opened, then, under the happiest
auspices.

[Illustration: STREET SCENE IN AIX OF PROVENCE

FOREGROUND: MIRACLE OF ST. MAXIME

From a Painting by Nicholas Froment (1475-76). Aix Cathedral

_To face page 86_]

René’s future being thus amply provided for,--his hand was also on
the throne of Lorraine,--Queen Yolande turned her attention to the
settlement in life of her younger children--Yolande, just eighteen,
and Charles, two years younger. For her daughter, whose espousal three
years before to Jehan, Comte d’Alençon, had not led to marriage, the
Queen sought once more an alliance with the House of Bretagne. The
Duke’s eldest son, François, Comte de Montfort, who had been first
champion at the Angers tournament in 1417, was the chosen bridegroom.
He, indeed, had seen and played with the Princess then, but she was a
little child of five; their betrothal, however, had been considered,
and only hindered by the military exigencies of the time. The Prince
was in person as handsome as could be, and talented, but his character
was not one that Queen Yolande looked for in a son-in-law. More
addicted to warlike deeds and the free licence of a soldier’s calling,
he had little taste for peaceful pursuits, and still less for the
restrictions of family life. He was, like most Princes at the time,
more or less of a _débauché_, and his fair fame was besmirched by
sordid and licentious habits. Still, the Comte de Montfort stood for
political advantages, and questions of character were counted of less
importance. The royal nuptials were celebrated in due course at the
Cathedral of St. Pierre at Nantes, the capital of Brittany, on July
1, 1431, in the presence of Queen Yolande and the Duke and Duchess
of Barrois. Alas! once more marriage proved a failure, for the year
following the home-coming of the Count and Countess he was slain in a
foray with the English, leaving his childless young widow to bewail her
ill-luck alone.

The marriage of Prince Charles d’Anjou was delayed many years, and his
experience of the vicissitudes of Cupid’s thraldom was almost identical
with that of King Louis III., his elder brother. Affianced in 1431,
at the same time as his sister Yolande, to a daughter of Guy, Count
of Laval, his brother René’s bosom friend, and one of Jeanne d’Arc’s
_preux cavaliers_, another Yolande, he broke off the match because the
infant Princess,--she but three years old,--was “so plain and weak.”
“Besides, I will not wait twelve years for her.” He was himself just
seventeen. The baby-fiancée’s mother was a Bretagne princess, Isabelle,
a daughter of Queen Yolande’s great ally, Duke Jehan VI. The young
Prince had in his mind another amour, perhaps hardly in his heart; but
he had seen and admired, when assisting at the _sacre_ of King Charles
VII., his brother-in-law, at Reims, a Princess of Champagne, and,
much against his mother’s wish, he bespoke her for his own. They were
betrothed at the ancient castle of Coucy, near Soissons, in 1435. This
match, too, came to nothing, for the fair fiancée, Catherine, perished
in the flames of her boudoir curtains, set on fire by accident, and
left her young Prince of twenty-one free to step along the uncertain
path of courtship once more. Such were some of the ups and downs of the
Queen of Sicily-Anjou and of her family.

The death of Charles II., Duke of Lorraine, on January 25, 1431, saw
the reunion,--after a century or more apart,--of Bar and Lorraine
under one Sovereign. Duke René and his Duchess Isabelle had resided
more or less quietly for ten years at the Castle of Bar-le-Duc, and
there the greater part of their family was born. Now they prepared to
move to Nancy, but their way, which Duke Charles had, as he thought,
secured, was barred, and René was called out to fight for his throne.
Antoine, Comte de Vaudémont, Duke Charles’s eldest nephew, thrust the
provisions of the Salic Law in the new Duke’s face, and drew his sword
to enforce his action. Varied were the fortunes of the civil war, but
at the Battle of Bulgneville Duke René was taken prisoner by Philippe,
Duke of Burgundy, who supported his kinsman Vaudémont, and was kept in
captivity for nearly three years. In vain Queen Yolande tried every
expedient to set her son free. His captors required his absolute
renunciation of the duchy of Lorraine, and would accept no compromise.
Then came another crushing blow. Louis III., King of Sicily, Naples,
and Jerusalem, Duke of Anjou, and Count of Provence, died of fever at
Cosenza, the capital of Calabria, on November 15, 1434, lamented alike
by friend and foe. Queen Giovanna had in 1424 created him Duke of
Calabria, but many attributed his death, indeed, to poison administered
by order of the Queen. Never was there a more gentle nor a braver
Prince--“_l’escarboucle de gentilesse_,” he was styled in the annals
of chivalry. His devoted mother, of course, was not with him; she was
broken-hearted at Marseilles. Cast down by grief unspeakable, the young
Queen of Sicily-Anjou and Naples, Margherita, still a bride, was by
his side to console his last hours. They had been married by proxy at
Geneva,--not at Chambéry, as arranged,--years before, but had sworn to
each other recently in the Cathedral of Cosenza. Alas! no son was left
to succeed his father and cheer his mother’s heart; their only child, a
little daughter, had survived her birth a short six weeks.

Queen Giovanna, in spite of her iniquity in seeking to foist upon
René d’Anjou and Bar a child not his nor hers, in all probability, but
so acknowledged, made no opposition to his proclamation as King of
Naples or the Two Sicilies. What an exquisite piece of irony it was, to
be sure--a King proclaimed when fast bound in prison, a crayon for a
sceptre in his hand, his crown a drab _berretta_! Three devoted women,
good and bad, supported the royal captive’s prerogatives--three Queens
indeed: Yolande was for Anjou and Provence, Isabelle for Barrois and
Lorraine, and Giovanna for Naples and Sicily; whilst a fourth, Queen
Margherita, looked to the donjon of Dijon for clemency. It was said
that a copy of King René’s proclamation was fixed upon the portal of
his prison in insolent derision. “_Sic transit gloria mundi_” might
well have been penned beneath it.

Upon King René’s succession to the throne of Sicily-Anjou, Queen
Yolande continued to act as his Lieutenant-General for Anjou and
Provence, and left negotiations for his release to the young
Queen-Duchess Isabelle, who was very much more favourably placed, and
near at hand to serve the royal prisoner’s interests. She spent most of
her time in Anjou, but paid many visits to Marseilles, her favourite
residence in Provence. She never crossed the Aragonese frontier;
she could have done so only as Queen-regnant, which of course was
impossible. However, she named her grandson Jean, Duke of Calabria,
King René’s eldest son, as the heir to her ancestral claims.

The Queen-mother’s presence in Anjou was necessary in the interests of
her daughter, Queen Marie of France, and she never relaxed her control
of the policy of her royal son-in-law. At each accouchement of the
French Queen her devoted mother assisted, and it was a long family of
grandchildren she nursed upon her knee. Her succour in sickness, her
stay in trouble, and her help in poverty, were immeasurably precious
to the fugitive Sovereigns. In 1437 Queen Yolande had the felicity
also of receiving her son René, after his release from durance vile,
in the Castle of Tine, near Saumur, and with him came Queen Isabelle
and her children,--Prince Jean, the eldest, being a fine lad of eleven.
It was a season of universal rejoicing in Anjou, and the Queen-mother,
laying aside her widow’s _chapelle_ and veil, entered whole-heartedly
into the festivities. The most cheering feature of the gaiety was due
to the magnanimity of the Duke of Burgundy, who quite unexpectedly and
unreservedly offered the crown of peace by proposing that Princess
Marie, daughter of Charles I., Duke of Bourbon, his niece, should be
affianced to the young Duke of Calabria. The ceremony of betrothal was
duly celebrated in Angers Cathedral, the little bride being no more
than seven years old. This was a great joy to the Queen-mother, and
René and Isabelle were very happy, too.

Again in 1440 the splendours of the Angevine Court were once more
revived by the Queen-mother, when she welcomed right royally King
Charles VII. and Queen Marie. It was by way of being a family gathering
also, for King René and Queen Isabelle were of the party. It was a
reunion remarkable in one way, as the introduction at Angers of the
most lovely girl in France, in the suite of Queen Isabelle,--a girl
destined to play a very important part in the private life of King
Charles VII.,--Agnes Sorel. The Queen-mother was charmed with her
lovely young visitor, and never made any opposition to her appointment
as Maid of Honour to Queen Marie. These festivities, however, were
the last in which Queen Yolande took part. The sorrows she was called
upon to bear and the anxieties of the life she lived had their natural
effect even upon such an ardent and vigorous constitution as hers.
Gradually she retired altogether from public life, and in 1441 she
took up her residence at Saumur. The castle was one of the strongest
fortresses in France, and was one of the very few which held out
successfully all through the Hundred Years’ War. Originally called _La
Tour du Tronc_, Count Foulques Nerra, Count of Anjou, in the tenth
century gave it the appearance and stability which it subsequently
retained. Queen Yolande placed her suite within the castle precincts,
but she herself, putting on an oblate’s habit, occupied for some time a
house in the Faubourg des Ponts, where her privacy could be less easily
disturbed. What remains,--and that, alas! is very little, of this
habitation,--is still called _La Maison de la Reine Cicile_ (Sicily).
In this humble abode Yolanda d’Arragona, “the great Queen,” died
quietly on December 14, 1443.

Whether King René was present to close his beloved mother’s eyes we
know not, but it is significant of absence that the expense,--500
livres,--of the Queen’s obsequies was borne by her youngest son,
Charles, Duke of Maine; indeed, it is almost certain that René was at
Marseilles when he heard of his mother’s death. In one of his “_Livres
des Heures_” he inscribed: “_Le 14 Decembre de l’an 1443 trespassa au
Château de Saumur Madame Yolande, fille de Roy d’Aragon et depuis mère
de Roy René_.” The funeral ceremonies were celebrated by the Archbishop
of Tours, her private chaplain, not at Saumur, but at Angers, in
the Cathedral of St. Maurice, to which her remains were conveyed by
night two days after her death. Her grave was that of her consort’s,
twenty-five years before,--in front of the high-altar,--but all trace
of it has disappeared, and explorations have failed to reveal her
burial casket.

It is eloquent of the irony of human affairs, that whereas no
memorial, or even inscription, is left to record the virtues of the
royal mother of Anjou, in the Church of Nôtre Dame de Nantilly at
Saumur there is a memorial to Mère Théophaine la Magine, the devoted
nurse of King René and Queen Marie, who died March 13, 1458. The
original monument, erected by the King, presented his faithful domestic
holding him and Marie in her arms. This has been destroyed, but an
epitaph still remains:

      “Cy gist la nourrice Théophaine
      La Magine, qui ot grant paine
      A nourrie de let en enfance
      Marie d’Anjou, Royne de France,
      Et après, son frère René, Duc d’Anjou.”

      “Here lies good nurse Théophaine
      La Magine, who at great pain
      Foster-mother’d in infancy
      Marie d’Anjou, Queen of France,
      And then René, Duke of Anjou.”

The only existent memorials to King Louis II. and Queen Yolande are to
be seen in a stained-glass window in the Cathedral of St. Julien at
Le Mans, the capital of Maine, one of the richest and most beautiful
specimens of fifteenth-century glass in Europe. The royal couple are
upon their knees, attired in conventional costumes, and bare-headed.
Their youngest son, Charles of Anjou and Maine, is buried near that
splendid window, an interesting and curious circumstance in the
happenings of Providence. He died in 1474. All Anjou and Provence
bewailed their Queen, her virtues, her benevolence, her piety, her
loyalty.

Yolande’s claim to the title with which she has been honoured, “a good
mother and a great Queen,” needs no vindication. She was, in short, the
most noble woman in all France during the first half of the fifteenth
century.



CHAPTER IV

ISABELLE DE LORRAINE--“THE PRIDE OF LORRAINE”


I.

Child-marriage was a distinguishing mark of the Renaissance, but
its fashion in the Sovereign States of France was very much more
commendable than its prototype in Italy. In the Italian republics it
became a holocaust of immature maidens, condemned to untimely death
through the perverted passions of worn-out men of middle age. In
France the girl brides were mated with boy husbands, but cohabitation
was regulated by the watch and will of guardians. In both countries,
doubtless, the marriage contract was essentially a commercial
undertaking, but in France it marked the attainment of political and
dynastic aims. Sovereign families rarely allied their offspring out of
the ruling class. At the same time the danger of conjugal union between
individuals nearly related was immeasurably increased. Indeed, such
relationships were those most zealously cultivated by ambitious and
exclusive rulers. The marriage of René d’Anjou and Isabelle de Lorraine
was a striking and typical instance of this precocious marital custom.

[Illustration: ISABELLE DE LORRAINE

From a Miniature by King René, in “Le Livre des Heures”

_To face page 94_]

Isabelle, “the Pride of Lorraine,”--as she was acclaimed by her
devoted subjects at the time of her betrothal,--was born at the Castle
of Nancy, March 20, 1410. Her parents were Charles II., Duke of
Lorraine, and his consort, Margaret of Bavaria. Charles himself was the
eldest son of Jehan, Duke and Count of Lorraine, and Sophie, Princess
of Würtemberg. Born in 1364, at Toul,--a free city of the German Empire
and an ecclesiastical sovereign see,--Charles succeeded his father in
1392. Originally a fief of the Holy Roman Empire, Lorraine was erected
a kingdom by the Emperor Lothair, who styled himself “King and Baron of
Lothairland.” The first Prince to bear the ducal title was Adelebert,
in 979, and that style descended unbroken through 500 years.

The Duchess Margaret was the second daughter of the Emperor Robert
III., Duke and Baron of Bavaria. She married Charles II. in 1393. To
them were born eight children, but, alas! Louis and Rodolphe died in
infancy, Charles and Ferri before their majority, and Robert in 1419,
unmarried, at twenty-two. Of their three daughters, Isabelle was
the eldest. Marie became the wife of Enguerrand de Coucy, Baron of
Champagne and Lord of Soissons, a lineal descendant of the founder,
in the thirteenth century, of the famous Château de Coucy, the most
complete feudal fortress ever built, whose proud motto may still be
seen on the donjon wall:

      “Roi je ne suis
      Prince ni Comte aussi:
      Je suis le Sire de Coucy.”

This union was childless. Catherine, the third daughter, in 1426
married James, Marquis of Baden, Count Palatine of the Rhine and
Elector. She renounced all claims to Lorraine. Their only child was a
daughter.

At the time of their marriage, Charles II. of Lorraine and Margaret
of Bavaria were a model couple upon the principles of dissimilarity
and contrast. The Duke, a soldier born, had made good his degree of
knighthood ten years before, when, a mere stripling, he won his spurs
fighting daringly by the side of his cousin, Philippe “le Hardi,”
Duke of Burgundy. With him he went on a punitive expedition against
the pirates of the Barbary coast. At Rosebach, and especially at the
tremendous battle of Azincourt, he did prodigies of valour. In Flanders
and in Germany his ensign led on victorious troops. Charles’s last
military achievement was the rout of the Emperor Wenceslas under the
very walls of Nancy. No warrior loved fighting more than the Duke of
Lorraine. Slightly to alter the text, he was one of those war-lords
whom Shakespeare, in his “seven ages of man,” says “sought reputation
at the cannon’s mouth.” He yearned for the applause of gallant knights,
both friends and foes; he yielded himself amorously to the smiles and
embraces of the fair sex, and he revelled in the praise and adulation
of poets and minstrels. His mailed fist was ever toying with his trusty
sword and grappling the chafing-reins of his charger; his mailed foot
was ever ready for the stirrup and to trample upon the head of a fallen
foe.

At the same time he was a gay and polished courtier, one of the most
accomplished Princes in Europe. Fond of literature and poetry, he
studied daily his Latin copy of the “Commentaries of Julius Cæsar” and
similar treatises. He had besides a taste for music, and was no mean
exponent of the lute and guitar, and a friend of troubadours.

On the other hand, the gentle, lovable Duchess was born for the
cloister and for the worship of the Mass. Her bare feet were ever
moving in penitential pilgrimages and religious processions, and her
shapely hands were ever joined in prayer or divided in charity. Her
passion was the submissive rule of Christ, her will the conquest of
herself.

Daring and devotion thus harnessed together rocked the family cradle,
and insured for their offspring the best of two worlds. Such a union
was bound to be productive of genius and corrective of faults of
heredity. What a bitter disappointment, then, it must have been for
both the Duke and the Duchess when one after another their beauteous
babes and adolescent sons dropped like blighted rosebuds from their
young love’s rosebush prematurely into the cold, dark grave, leaving
only the aroma of their sweet young lives to soothe their sorrowing
parents!

Isabelle was the fairest daughter of the three. She inherited the force
of character of her father and the pious disposition of her mother, and
to these precious traits she joined a spirit of intelligence much in
advance of her years as a growing girl. In short, she was remarkable
“_pour ses qualités de l’esprit et du cœur_,” a description difficult
to render into good English; perhaps we may say she had her father’s
will and her mother’s love.

Many were the suitors for her hand, some for the pure love of beauty,
grace, and spirit, but most with a view to the Duke-consortship in the
future of rich Lorraine. The “Pride of Lorraine,” indeed, served as
an ever-reinforced magnet. She became remarkable for her loveliness
of person, her animation of manner, and her distinguished carriage.
The natural sweetness of her voice lent a gracious persuasiveness to
her eloquence, which in later life proved invaluable in the recruiting
of adherents to her husband’s cause. High-souled and condescending,
she brought her enemies to her feet, only to raise them her warmest
friends. Talented beyond the average of Princesses, she had also
the charm of winsome gaiety, and proved herself a worthy spouse
and companion for her gallant and clever consort René. Tall, slim,
fair-haired, blue-eyed, with a skin of satin softness, the “Pride of
Lorraine” won all hearts and turned many a head.

To Louis, Cardinal de Bar, was due the accomplishment of an idea
suggested by Queen Yolande with respect to the future of her second
son, René d’Anjou. He had for ever so long been considering what
steps he should take with respect to the succession to the duchy. He
of course, as an ecclesiastic, could have no legitimate offspring.
His brothers had died childless, and only one of his sisters had male
descendants, the grandsons of Violante de Bar, his own grand-nephews.
In His Eminence’s mind, too, was a project to reconstitute the
ancient kingdom of Lothair by merging Barrois and Lorraine proper.
Whilst Duke Charles II.’s young sons were living, the Cardinal looked
to one of them as his heir; and when they all drooped and died, he
reflected whether or not he should name Charles as his successor. At
this juncture his niece, the Queen of Sicily-Anjou, was busy looking
out for brides for her two elder sons, Louis and René. For the former
a Bretagne alliance was indicated; for the latter a union with
Lorraine--Burgundy for the time being out of the question--or Champagne
seemed desirable.

The Cardinal clinched the matter, and paid a visit to the Duke of
Lorraine in furtherance of his project, which was the very natural
and sensible one of marrying his nephew René with the Duke’s eldest
daughter Isabelle. Whether Charles had any inklings of the Cardinal’s
cogitations with relation to his own position with respect to Bar we
know not; but possibly he had, for he met the proposition with a direct
refusal. He read to his relative two clauses of a will he had recently
executed, which forbade his daughter Isabelle to marry a Prince of
French origin, and especially barred the House of Anjou. This latter
prohibition was inserted with reference to the rupture between Jean
“sans Peur,” the Duke of Burgundy, and Louis II., King of Sicily and
Duke of Anjou, which resulted from the part the former had played in
the assassination of the Duke of Orléans in 1407, and the consequent
repudiation of the betrothal of Catherine de Bourgogne and Louis
d’Anjou. Lorraine and Burgundy were in close alliance.

The Cardinal, however, was not to be diverted from the course he
had taken. He placed ten considerations before the Duke and his
advisers:--(1) The advisability of reuniting the two portions of
Lorraine; (2) Charles’s lack of male heirs; (3) his own incompetence in
the same direction; (4) his choice of his grand-nephew, René d’Anjou,
as his successor at Bar-le-Duc; (5) the attractive personality, mental
attainments, and high courage of the young Prince; (6) his descent from
a Barrois-Lorraine Princess, Violante, his sister; (7) the risks of the
application of the power of the Salic Law over his daughters; (8) the
equality of age of René and Isabelle; (9) the wish of the late King and
of the Queen of Sicily-Anjou for an alliance with Lorraine and a better
understanding politically; (10) the welfare of the peoples of the two
duchies and the love of the Lorrainers for their princely house.

Charles asked time to consider these points, but meanwhile he summoned
the Estates, and laid before them a proposition concerning the
succession to Lorraine at his death. He named his eldest daughter as
Hereditary Duchess, and proposed that her consort should bear the
title, and with her exercise the prerogatives, of Duke of Lorraine. A
concordat was agreed to whereby the Estates were pledged to support the
Duchess Isabelle, and to carry out Charles’s wishes.

Queen Yolande had seconded her uncle’s negotiations in a very womanly
and sensible way. She communicated directly with good Duchess Margaret.
She pointed out to her the mutual advantages of the marriage of the two
children, and declared that such a union would heal the breach between
the eastern and the western Sovereigns of France. Margaret, loving
peace and holy things, was easily persuaded to reason with her husband;
she submitted absolutely to the overpowering personality of the Queen.
With Charles, Yolande had a stiffer fight, but she gathered up her
strength, and in the end, lusty warrior that he was, he yielded up his
defence to the tactful diplomacy of the good mother of Anjou. Woman’s
wit once more, as it generally does, triumphed over man’s obstinacy.

Charles agreed to receive the young Prince, and judge for himself
of his prepositions and qualifications. The result was beyond the
Cardinal’s expectation, for the Duke declared himself charmed with
the boy. He was, he said, ready to rescind the prohibitory clauses of
his will, but he made it a condition that he should have the personal
and unrestricted guardianship of the boy until he reached the age of
fifteen. He desired René to proceed at once to Angers to obtain Queen
Yolande’s consent to the matrimonial contract between himself and
Princess Isabelle. Everything went merrily, like the marriage-bells
which soon enough pealed forth all over Lorraine, Barrois, and Anjou,
at the auspicious nuptials. The final arrangements were completed, and
René and Isabelle were betrothed at the Castle of St. Mihiel, and on
October 20, 1420, married at the Cathedral of Nancy by the Bishop of
Toul, Henri de Ville, Duke Charles’s cousin. Immediately before the
wedding, Cardinal-Duke Louis caused a herald to proclaim publicly, in
the market-place of Nancy, René d’Anjou, Comte de Guise, Hereditary
Duke of Bar, with the _ad interim_ title of Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson.

The record of the marriage is thus entered in “_Les Chroniques de
Lorraine_”: “_Les nopces furent faictes en grant triomphe, et la
dicte fille menée à Bar moult honorablement. Le Cardinal fust moult
joyeulx._”[A] The contract had been signed on March 20, 1420, by
the Duke and the Cardinal at the Château de Tourg, near Toul, Queen
Yolande’s signature being provided by her proxy. She granted to her son
the right to quarter the arms of Bar and Lorraine with those of Anjou
and Guise.

    [A] “The nuptials were celebrated with great ceremony, and
    the said Princess was conducted to Bar very honourably. The
    Cardinal was full of joy.”

On November 10 formal proclamation was made in every important town
in Lorraine, to the effect that Duke Charles II. constituted his
eldest daughter, now Duchess of Barrois and Countess of Guise, heiress
to the duchy of Lorraine, and confirmed to her, and to her issue by
René d’Anjou and Bar, full rights of succession and government. The
proclamation named Queen Yolande of Sicily-Anjou, Louis, Cardinal de
Bar, and the Duke himself, Charles’s guardians during the minority of
the young couple.

“René,” wrote a chronicler, “is well-grown, well-bred, and
well-looking. He is greatly admired by all the fair sex, and loves them
in return. He will make a good husband, and has the making of a great
Sovereign.” The bride’s praises were sung by poets and minstrels the
length and breadth of Lorraine and Bar.

Among the earliest to congratulate the young people and their parents
was the redoubtable Duke of Burgundy! He sent a special embassy to
Nancy with this striking message: “_Tous estoient si joyeulx de veoir
la fervente et cordiale amour qui estoit entre ces deulx jeuns gens,
que je me trouve capable des sentiments les plus amiables pour tous
mes cousins royales. Je salue mes bons frères les Souverains Ducs
de Lorraine et Barrois avec Madame la Duchesse Marguerite, et sans
autre choses la bonne Rogne de Cecile, son épous le Roy Louis, pour
jamais._”[A]

    [A] “Everybody was delighted to behold the fervent and cordial
    love which exists between the two young people, whilst I found
    myself filled with the most amiable sentiments for all my
    royal cousins. I salute my good brothers the Sovereign Dukes
    of Lorraine and Barrois, and also the Duchess Margaret, and
    equally the good Queen of Sicily and her consort King Louis.”

This was as a jewel in the hair of Queen Yolande, and as nectar in the
cup of Cardinal Louis. Their plans had succeeded splendidly.

Shortly after his marriage, René returned to Bar-le-Duc with his
child-bride, and they were received in royal state by the Cardinal,
who had renovated and decorated the castle specially in their honour
and for their use. The town of Ligny was causing trouble in Barrois by
refusing to pay the accustomed tribute. The Prince de Ligny claimed
that portion of the duchy of Bar as his, by the marriage contract of
his wife, the Cardinal’s sister. He attacked the Castle of Pierrepoint
and the town of Briey, whose garrison he caused to be put to the
sword. The Cardinal took arms, and, accompanied by René and companies
of Lorraine soldiers from Longwy, defeated his relative and took him
prisoner. The young Prince received the rebel’s sword and personally
conducted him to Nancy, where, after two years’ confinement in the
fortress, he signed an act of renunciation of his pretensions in
Barrois.

René, only twelve years old, the following year accompanied Charles II.
of Lorraine to the siege of Toul,--for many years a turbulent element
in his dominions,--where there was a hot dispute concerning certain
laws and customs oppositive to the claims of the crown of Lorraine.
Toul was captured, and mulcted in an annual tribute of a thousand
livres.

Directly the proclamation of Isabelle of Lorraine with René as the
sharer of her throne was made, Antoine de Vaudémont, Duke Charles’s
eldest nephew, entered a protest and claimed the succession. He based
his action upon the three conditions--(1) The Salic Law ruled the
succession of Lorraine; (2) the male line had not been broken since
the creation of the duchy; and (3) the realm had never gone out of the
family. Charles scouted all these positions, affirmed his own sovereign
right to name his successor, and refused to alter the terms of the
proclamation so far as regarded the succession of his daughter and Duke
René.

All the church-bells in Barrois and Lorraine were again set
jingling joyously when, in the ducal castle of Toul, on the morning
of January 17, 1437, a young mother,--very young indeed, barely
seventeen,--brought forth her first-born--a beauteous boy, the
image, as the midwives said, of the boy-father, not yet nineteen.
Church-bells, too, rang merrily all over Anjou and Provence when the
glad tidings reached their borders that a male heir was born to the
honours of Sicily-Anjou-Provence. Perhaps René and Isabelle were too
young to realize what it all meant for France at large, but Queen
Yolande understood well enough its tenor, and with her congratulations
she greeted her first son’s grandchild with the title of “Prince of
Gerona,” linking him ostentatiously with her hereditary rights in
Aragon. Duke Charles, too, and Duchess Margaret were the happiest of
grandparents, and baby Jean was created Comte de Nancy as future Duke.

Charles’s death was somewhat sudden and quite unexpected. Strong man
that he was, King Death seemed to be a power not immediately to be
feared. René was not at Nancy when the death-knell sounded, but news
swiftly reached him, and he returned at once to the capital. Duchess
Margaret,--despite her lamentations and her natural dislike to public
appearance,--attired herself in full Court dress, the crown she rarely
wore upon her head, and all the officials of the Court, the Government,
and city, in her retinue, and hastened to the gate to welcome the
new Duke of Lorraine. Before her carriage rode a number of lords and
knights, who dismounted on the approach of René, and, saluting him
deferentially, greeted him as “_Vous estoit le nostre duc!_” The cry
was taken up by all the gallant company, whilst René, having dismounted
at the portal of St. George, took the sacred missal offered by the Dean
into his hands, and swore then and there to respect and safeguard the
ancient liberties of the State and city.

One of the quaintest of quaint observances followed, a custom peculiar
to Lorraine. After receiving the ecclesiastical blessing, the new
Duke remounted his horse, and into his hand was placed the ancient
altar cross called “Polluyon.” He rode slowly through the city to St.
Nicholas Gate, where he again dismounted, and gave his charger into the
care of one of the canons, who took his place in the saddle and rode
out of sight. This strange custom had been observed at all the public
recognitions of new Dukes of Lorraine ever since its inception by Duke
Raoul, in 1339. The Duke then returned on foot to St. George’s, bearing
still the jewelled cross. At the entrance the Bishop stood ready to
administer the customary oaths and to accord the Papal benediction.
This ceremony also was unique. The Bishop told him to face the assembly
of his subjects at the four points of the compass, and to repeat at
each the formula: “I take this oath before God and you willingly, and
look to God for assistance, and to you for service.”

Then conducted to the castle in great circumstance, amid the vociferous
plaudits of the populace,--“_Noël! Noël!_” they cried,--the Duke knelt
and kissed the hand of Duchess Isabelle, who was waiting there, and
presented her to the delirious citizens. “_Vive le nostre Duc! Vive
la nostre Duchesse!_” rang through the city, and, caught up by the
sculptured pinnacles and turrets of the cathedral, mingled harmoniously
with the musical cadences of the bells, and so was wafted over all that
fair and smiling land.

René, although but two-and-twenty, gave immediate evidence of
wisdom beyond his years. His power to grasp and handle complex affairs
of State, and his discrimination in matters of moment, proved the
excellence of his grand-uncle’s training. His personal appearance
was all in his favour, and his graceful, well-set-up figure, his
open countenance, his majestic manner,--ever ready to bend to
circumstances,--gained general admiration and confidence. His gracious,
patient, and conciliatory bearing was remarkable. His modesty and
absolute lack of presumption attracted the best men of all parties.
His readiness to appoint a Council of State, with unusual freedom of
deliberation and action, was only, perhaps, what might have been looked
for from the son of the founder of the free Parliament of Provence in
1415. The new Duke set on foot movements for the amelioration of the
condition of the poor, for the improvement of education, and for the
rectification of the morals of the Court and city. One of his earliest
edicts was for the suppression of blasphemy; a first charge was
punishable by the judge in the ordinary way, a second involved a heavy
fine, a third obtained correction in the public pillory, and a fourth
offence was purged only by the splitting of the tongue and rigorous
imprisonment.

[Illustration: RENÉ D’ANJOU

(_Circa 1440_)

Painted by himself “Le Livre des Heures”

_To face page 106_]

In all these, and many similar acts of sapient policy, Duchess Isabelle
bore her part in counsel and example; her conduct was beyond all
praise. The next move was a progress through every part of the two
duchies. At each considerable town the royal cortège halted first
of all that the Duke and Duchess might make their devotions in the
principal church, and endow Masses and ecclesiastical grants. Then,
assembling the officials and chief citizens, they inquired into
the hardships of the people and encouraged local institutions, at
each place leaving largesse for distribution. In strong places with
garrisons, the Duke interested himself in redressing injuries and
inequalities among the veterans. He offered to pay all the losses of
officers in the wars; he allowed eighteen sols for each horse killed
in battle or on march; he bestowed on each soldier a surcoat and steel
helmet with his royal cognizance, and created many knights. Meanwhile
Duchess Isabelle endeared herself to the women-folk by consoling
words of sympathy and gracious doles of charity. Widows and orphans
she took under her personal patronage, and no worthy claimant for her
benevolence lacked favour and assistance.

Thus René and Isabelle won, not only golden opinions, but the
sincerest affection of their subjects, rich and poor. But a climax
was put to the noble works of the kindly Sovereigns, and never came
truer the saying; “Providence ever destroys the good that men do.” An
evil genius appeared upon the peaceful scene when Antoine de Vaudémont
refused to pay allegiance to the new Duke and Duchess. The moment of
his declaration of hostility was as unfortunate as it was cruel. At
the public baptism of Prince Jean, the Duke’s eldest son, who had
been privately baptized at his birth, in 1426-27, the Count entered
the Cathedral of Nancy in full armour, and objected to the Duke of
Calabria,--the title of the young boy,--being received by the Church as
heir to the throne of Lorraine.

The Duke immediately summoned him to appear before the Council of
State, and also before a meeting of principal citizens, and there
repeat his protest. By both assembles his pretensions were scouted
unanimously. Sieur Jehan d’Haussonville, the Mayor, addressed the
Count, and said: “Your uncle has left daughters; the eldest, Isabelle,
is Duchess of Lorraine. I salute you. You may go.” Vaudémont left Nancy
in a violent rage, crying out as he passed through the gateway of St.
George: “I shall be Duke of Lorraine all the same, and soon, and then
will I reckon with you dogs!” He posted off to Dijon, and there took
counsel with the Duke of Burgundy.

The body of Charles II. had scarcely been consigned to its monumental
tomb in the choir of St. Georges de Port at Nancy, when the Comte de
Vaudémont revealed himself in his true colours. After his protest
against the edict of the Duke which named Duke René of Barrois, the
consort of the heiress to the throne, as his successor to the title
of Duke of Lorraine, he had remained skulking in his castle, where he
welcomed as many malcontents and disturbers of the peace as accepted
his pretensions to the crown. The coronation of Duchess Isabelle was
the signal for Vaudémont’s attempt to vindicate his claim. He had
hardly a sympathizer at Court, for Charles had caused all the principal
nobles and citizens to swear allegiance to his daughter and her husband
before he died. The Count appeared suddenly before Nancy, and demanded
the keys and the custody of the Duchess. Duke René was away besieging
Metz, but he at once posted off to Nancy, and assisted with men-at-arms
by Charles VII., and aided by the generalship of Barbazan, he defeated
Vaudémont in eight battles great and small.

Vaudémont rallied his forces from Burgundy under Antoine de
Toulongeon, Duke Philippe’s favourite general, and enlisted foreign
mercenaries from Flanders and Germany. René had at his back all the
armed men of Lorraine and Bar, and contingents from Anjou and Provence.
James, Marquis of Baden, and Louis of Bavaria, joined him with
squadrons of cavalry, and his army numbered nearly 20,000 men. Perhaps
he was over-confident of his strength, his right, and his intrepidity;
and having a very much more numerous following, he advanced upon his
enemy disregarding sundry cautions and wise counsels. The two armies
met upon the plain of Bulgneville, near Neufchâteau, on July 2.
Vaudémont played a waiting game; besides, he had in reserve heavier
artillery than his royal foeman. Early in the encounter Barbazan
fell mortally wounded, and then René himself received a wound which
incapacitated him for a time. The fall of their leaders demoralized the
Lorraine army, and Vaudémont, seeing his advantage, made a dash with a
column of heavy cavalry. René was smitten to the ground and surrounded.
He refused to surrender until an officer of sufficient rank should be
allowed to receive his sword. Then Toulongeon galloped up, and the
Duke, covered with blood and dust, was lead away to the Burgundian camp.

Taken the same evening to the Château de Talant, near Dijon, the royal
prisoner was treated with the deference due to his rank, but, alas! he
had fallen into the hands of the enemy of his house--the hated Duke of
Burgundy. That evening the curfew sounded not in Nancy, but the gates
were shut and barred, and two weeping women, powerless in their woe,
never sought their couches in the castle. Mother and daughter, Margaret
and Isabelle, were nigh death themselves. No tidings could they gain
of the whereabouts or of the condition of the man they loved. Duchess
Isabelle cried out: “Alas! I do not know whether my husband is dead or
alive or wounded, nor where they have taken him.” None had a consoling
answer, for all Nancy was in mourning. Two thousand good men and true
lay dead upon the stricken field, and three thousand more shared the
imprisonment of their Duke. The wounded in hundreds crawled into city,
village, and mansion; not a house in Lorraine but was flooded with
women’s tears and men’s blood that desperate day and night. At last
splashed and bedraggled heralds brought news of the Duke’s captivity,
and that his wounds were not serious: “_M’sieur le Duc, madame, estoit
en bon santé; les Bourguignons l’avoient pris: il se trouv at Dijon
demain_.”

Thus assured of her husband’s safety, Isabelle brushed away her
tears and roused herself to action. Promptly she called together the
Council of State, where she presided in person, and eloquently demanded
that strong measures should at once be taken to carry on the war
against Vaudémont and Philippe de Bourgogne, raise sufficient funds
to make good losses, and secure the liberty of the Duke. The Council
responded nobly and patriotically to the call of their Duchess; as the
“_Chroniques de Lorraine_” has it: “They had pity upon her, for she
had borne four sturdy children as comely as you might wish to see.”
“_Elle fust allegrée!_” was the universal testimony to Isabelle’s worth
as a wife and mother. Duchess Margaret, too, perhaps for the first
time in her life of devotion, raised her voice, and called for the
temporal sword to be reground to avenge the disaster. She accompanied
her daughter, both mounted, to Vézelise, which Isabelle had appointed
as the rendezvous of the new army, and personally enrolled companies
and squadrons, fastening to each man’s helm a thistle--the cognizance
of Lorraine. Then she addressed a protest to the victor of Bulgneville,
in which she warned him not to approach Nancy, but to regard herself
as his implacable foe until he should deliver up the Duke. Étienne
Pasquier, the chronicler, sums up in ten words the courageous character
of Duchess Isabelle. “Within the body of a woman,” he says, “the
Duchess carries the heart of a man.” After warning Vaudémont, she
concluded with him a truce of three months, during which period she
went in person to Charles VII., who was then in Dauphiné, and implored
his intervention and assistance. In her train was a young Maid of
Honour, Agnes Sorel, whose beauty and _naïveté_ rightly affected that
unstable monarch; it was an introduction which ripened later on into
something more intimate than mere admiration.

Duchess Margaret also greatly bestirred herself. Hearing that her
uncle, the Duke of Savoy, and her brother-in-law, the Duke of Berry,
were at Lyons awaiting the coming of King Charles, she posted off
there, taking with her as advisers the Bishops of Toul and Metz.
In company with the King of France was no less a person than Queen
Yolande, his mother-in-law--

      “Aussi vient en icelle ville,
      Accompaignée de demoiselles,
      La noble Royne de Cecile.”

      “There also came to the same town, accompanied by
      Maids of Honour, the noble Queen of Sicily.”

as we read in the “_Heures de Charles VII._”

René was not kept long at Talant, but transferred to the fortress of
Bracon, near Salines. His imprisonment varied in severity; at times
he was treated roughly, half starved and unclothed, with no resources
or intercourse with friends outside. Then he was served with dignity
befitting his rank, and granted facilities for the better occupation
of his time. But what a staggering blow was his misfortune to all his
dreams and aims of honour, glory, and sovereignty!

Lorraine was in a terrible state, and so was Barrois; men knew
not what to do nor whom to trust. Overrun with soldiers of fortune
and the riff-raff of foreign camp-followers, security for person
and for property was no more. Vaudémont made, however, no use of
his victory--at least, so far as pressing his claims to the duchy.
Everywhere his cause was unpopular; indeed, he found himself in the
very unusual and humiliating position of a victor denied the fruits of
his victory. He disbanded his army and retired from Lorraine, and took
up his abode with his ally, Philippe of Burgundy, and there awaited
developments. René found means to communicate with his desolated wife,
and forwarded instructions to the Estates of Lorraine and Barrois to
acknowledge and serve Duchess Isabelle as Lieutenant-General during
his captivity. She entered upon her responsible duties with the utmost
fortitude and courage. All historians testify to her indefatigable zeal
and administrative ability.

Whilst the two Duchesses were doing all they could to effect the Duke’s
release and maintain the rights of Lorraine and Barrois, René himself
made a direct appeal to Philippe of Burgundy, and on March 1, 1432,
he proposed certain terms to his royal gaoler. They were as follows:
(1) The acceptance by the Duke of Burgundy of Duke René’s two young
sons, Jean and Louis, as hostages for their father; (2) the cession of
the castles of Clermont en Argonne, Châtille, Bourmont, and Charmes;
and (3) the payment of the Burgundian troops in full for all arrears.
Philippe accepted these hard conditions, and added to their harshness
by fixing a ransom of 20,000 _saluts d’or_. At the same time thirty
nobles of Lorraine and Barrois offered themselves in lieu of the two
young Princes.

This contract Philippe submitted to the Comte de Vaudémont for his
approval, which he gave after much consideration, but required the
insertion of a clause to the effect that his son Ferri should be
betrothed to Yolande, Duke René’s eldest daughter, then not quite three
years old, and that she should receive a dowry of 18,000 _florins de
Rhin_ for the purchase of an estate in Lorraine, and he added very
cunningly a proviso that residuary rights to the duchy should be
settled upon the issue of the marriage. This was with grim vengeance
the hoisting both of the Duke and the Count upon their own petards.
Such an extraordinary arrangement was, perhaps, never before contrived
by the craft of man.

At Nancy in the Queen’s apartments there was sorrow keen. Isabelle’s
heart was stabbed to the core. Could she part with her dear children?
That was the question she had to answer. The other clauses of René’s
charter of freedom were serious enough, to be sure, but none of them
weighed upon a mother’s heart as did this. As she looked out upon the
pleasaunce whence came echoes of childish laughter, her will failed
her. No, there they were, Jean and Louis, lovely boys of six and four,
too tender much to leave her fostering care, too young to face the
rigours of captivity. And yet her dearly loved husband, René, could not
be left in durance vile; his liberty was of the first importance, and
no sacrifice would be too great to bring him home to her again. What
should she do? First of all she knelt in prayer to God, and implored
the aid of St. Mary and the saints. St. George was for Lorraine. Then
she hied her to the boudoir of her mother, Duchess Margaret, and fell
upon her bosom, sobbing violently, the woman with the courage of a man!
Those tears, however, washed away her momentary want of resolution, and
when she had laid bare her troubles before her sympathetic parent, the
answer to her prayers came through the same devoted channel.

“Isabelle, my child,” the old Duchess said, “dry your tears, and thank
God in any case, for this trouble will pass. St. Mary, the Mother of
Jesus, feels for you, the mother of her boys. She inspires me, too, and
I am ready to take the dear children myself to Dijon or wherever our
René may be, and to remain with them till Philippe of Burgundy plays
the man and the Christian and releases them, and then our René shall
fold thee to his heart ere many suns have set.”

This pious and heroic resolution of the good-living Duchess-Dowager
was, perhaps, no more than Isabelle expected. She, of course, could
not take her hand off the helm of State, but her mother was a _persona
grata_ at the Burgundian Court; at least, she had been so when she
came as a bride to Nancy many years before. The long and the short of
the matter was that Duke René was released from his prison on March 1,
1432. He gave his parole to return there within a twelvemonth if the
conditions of his freedom were not complied with.

By a curious concatenation of circumstances the arrival of Duchess
Margaret and her two little grandsons at Dijon synchronized with that
of the Duke of Burgundy. He had been away in Flanders and in the
English camp on political business, and had postponed the bestowal of
rewards and honours upon his adherents at Bulgneville. Now he called
a Chapter of the “Order of the Toison d’Or” at Bracon, of all places
in the duchy, apparently forgetful of the fact that his royal prisoner
was there. The fortress possessed two towers; in one of these René was
confined,--henceforward known as _La Tour de Bar_. There were three
floors; on the topmost were the Duke’s two chambers, below certain
Lorraine prisoners of distinction were accommodated, and the guard
occupied the ground-floor. The other tower contained the regalia and
the archives of the Order. A very pleasant story is told of a meeting
of the two Dukes at Tour de Bar, and it delightfully illustrates the
French proverb, “_Noblesse oblige_.” On the day of the Chapter the Duke
of Burgundy, passing the portal of René’s tower, cast up his eyes, and
beheld his prisoner looking out of a window. He tossed up his bare hand
in token of recognition, and sent an officer up to René’s chamber with
a request that he would permit him to enter and hold converse there.
Such a demand appealed, of course, instantly to the chivalrous instinct
of the Duke of Lorraine and Bar, and the two Sovereigns clasped each
other’s hand in silence. Philippe’s heart failed him at the greeting
of his captive, and he shed tears. Whilst the Princes were so engaged,
a noble of the Court of Dijon approached his liege and delivered him a
despatch, the perusal of which greatly affected him. It was, indeed,
the intimation that Duchess Margaret of Lorraine was in attendance with
René’s two young boys at the palace in Dijon, awaiting Duke Philippe’s
pleasure. He communicated the intelligence to Duke René, who covered
his face with his hands and sank to his seat in a conflict of emotions.

Duke Philippe, laying his hand on his prisoner’s shoulder, said: “_La
parole du Duc du Bar est plus forte que les ôtages!_” Then he added:
“Pray, Monseigneur, consider the portals of the Tour de Bar open to
your orders. Let us go together and greet the good Duchess Margaret.
You and she and your children shall be set forth this day to Nancy.
May the good God cheer your way!” This was magnanimity incarnate--a
choice trait of the days of _la vraie chivalrie_! To describe the joy
of René as he once more caressed his sons and kissed the hand of his
mother-in-law, and to set forth the rejoicings at Nancy, and, indeed,
all along that joyous march from Dijon, with the blessedness of reunion
between Isabelle and her spouse, would tax the pen of any ready writer.
René was free, and Philippe had attained his apogee. Joy-bells rang,
voices cheered, and Lorraine and Barrois gave themselves over to
unbridled festivity; whilst the Duke and Duchess and their two brave
boys made a royal progress, whereon they were nearly torn to pieces
by their enthusiastic subjects. René and Isabelle once more visited
every town, and personally thanked all and sundry for their loyalty and
affection.

But business is business even in royal circles, and the Estates of
Lorraine and Bar were assembled by the Sovereigns to consider and
fulfil the terms of René’s charter of liberty. The crux was the amount
of the money ransom, and how to raise it. Both duchies were stripped
bare of resources, prolonged wars had impoverished the nobles, and
had brought upon all classes great privations. In Anjou and Provence
much the same conditions existed, and Queen Yolande had as much as she
could do to make all ends meet. King Charles VII. was a fugitive or
little better, he had no money, and the Duke of Brittany had his own
responsibilities and cares. The only wealthy member of the Sicily-Anjou
family was the Queen of Naples, and she was financing King Louis III.
and his conflict with the King of Aragon. Nevertheless something had
to be done, and René and Isabelle together put their pride into their
pocket and made approaches to their unlovely relative. Queen Yolande
and Duchess Margaret also backed up the appeal.

René embarked at Marseilles directly Queen Giovanna’s reply reached
him, for she demanded that his request for assistance should be made in
person at Aversa. It was not a very pleasant prospect that presented
itself to the Duke of Bar-Lorraine. The ill-fame of the Queen of Naples
had by no means been lessened by her attempted liaison with his elder
brother, King Louis. Nevertheless, René was prepared to pay a high
price for the 20,000 _saluts d’or_, but Isabelle had no fear for his
honour. The mission was a failure. The Queen’s price was impossible;
and although René remained in dalliance upon her, and played the part
of a complete courtier, so far as was possible for him to do, she
dismissed her relative with a sneer and a refusal.

News of René’s failure reached Nancy before his own arrival, and
resourceful Duchess Isabelle immediately set to work upon an
alternative plan for securing the liberty of her consort. The city
of Basel was then preparing to receive the Fathers of the Ecumenical
Council of the Roman Church, and with them the citizens were required
to welcome the Emperor of Germany, under whose protection they were.
Sigismund was the son of Marie de France, sister of Louis I. of
Sicily-Anjou. Moreover, he had married the Princess Elizabeth of
Bavaria, a sister of Duchess Margaret.

[Illustration: A ROYAL PATRONESS AND WOMEN-WORKERS IN WOOL

From a Miniature, MS. Fifteenth Century, “Des Clercs et Nobles Femmes.”
British Museum]

[Illustration: A ROYAL PATRONESS OF HANDICRAFTS

From a Miniature, MS. Fifteenth Century, “Des Clercs et Nobles Femmes.”
British Museum]

Isabelle despatched a notable embassy to greet her uncle the
Emperor, and at the same time to crave his sympathy and help. A very
favourable reply came quickly back to Nancy, and with the returning
Lorraine envoys travelled two Chamberlains of the Imperial Court, sent
by the Emperor to escort René to Basel. Sigismund furthermore cited
the Comte de Vaudémont to appear before him and state his case. A
most patient hearing was granted by His Majesty to the arguments of
the victorious Count, but on April 24 Sigismund ascended the imperial
throne in the Cathedral of Basel, and there solemnly gave his judgment.
He decreed that René was lawful Duke of Lorraine, that he should not be
required to return to prison, and that further grace should be allowed
for the payment of the ransom.

With scant reverence for the sacred edifice, and with much discourtesy
to the Emperor and the dignitaries who sat with him as assessors,--the
Papal Legate and the Patriarch of Constantinople,--Vaudémont
indignantly refused to accept the imperial ruling, and demanded the
immediate payment of the 20,000 _saluts d’or_ or the prompt return of
Duke René to Bracon. Duchess Isabelle, who had courageously accompanied
her husband, fell upon her knees before their stern, irreconcilable
enemy, and pleaded with him to extend knightly magnanimity towards
his prisoner. No! Vaudémont would have the duchy or René’s money or
his person. René, gently raising his loving spouse, led her from the
scene, and then, tenderly embracing her, he returned to where he had
left Vaudémont scowling. “See,” said he, “here I am: take me at once
to Dijon.” Before leaving the Imperial Court the Emperor beckoned
to him, and, directing him to kneel, formally invested him with the
temporalities of the duchy of Lorraine, and upon Isabelle he bestowed
with the Papal benediction the honour of the “Golden Rose.”

Torn from the bosom of his family once more, René bore his misfortune
like a man, and Isabelle rose superior to her trouble. Their noble
bearing gained further the respect and good-will of all the Sovereigns
and peoples of Europe, whilst the spleen and meanness of Vaudémont
rendered him odious everywhere. René submitted obediently to the
newly-imposed discipline. He beguiled his time by adorning the walls
and windows of his chamber with sketches and paintings. What a thousand
pities it is that none of those treasures have been preserved! Alas!
France has suffered more than any other land from the suicidal
tendencies of her people. Over and over again national passion has
swept away works of art and historical memorials. King René’s frescoes
have, with the fortress of Bracon, wholly disappeared. Music, too,
and poetry, formed for him consolations. He composed _ballades_, he
sang songs, sacred and profane. He played the viol and zither, and so
whiled away some of the tedium of his captivity. “_Les Chroniques de
Lorraine_,” note that “_il a sçu la musique, et marier la voix aulx
doulx accents d’un luth, gémissant sous ses doigts_.”[A]

    [A] “He knew music, and how to modulate his voice to the notes
    of a lute, striking it with his fingers.”

At Bracon was the Duke of Burgundy’s splendid library, to which René
was freely admitted. There he studied painstakingly classical works in
Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

Cut off as he was entirely from intercourse with his family, friends,
and subjects, at times he gave way to melancholy, and regarded himself
as unjustly treated by Providence. He craved to behold his children,
and this longing was assuaged by the chivalrous consideration of the
Duke of Burgundy, who permitted the little Princes Jean and Louis to
visit their unhappy father in his prison.


II.

The years 1434 and 1435 were full of tragic happenings for René and
Isabelle. Death claimed three important personages near of kin.
All Lorraine mourned the saintly Duchess Margaret. She died in her
devoted daughter’s arms during the feast of Pentecost, and they
buried her beside her consort, Charles II., in the ducal tomb at
St. George-by-the-Gate. Her quiet influence had been all for good,
both upon her children’s account and upon the morals of the Court
and nation. She could, as we have seen, act the heroine as well as
the devotee. Isabelle missed her mother’s goodly counsels more than
she could express in words. René’s greatest loss was undoubtedly his
brother, Louis III., King of Sicily-Anjou and Naples. This bereavement
wholly changed the position and prospects of the Bar-Lorraine ducal
family; for Louis dying without surviving issue, all his honours,
titles, and dominions, were inherited by his next brother, René.

This event, and what it meant for René, were the climax of his
career. The proclamation of the new King was a tragedy and a travesty
combined. The pathos of his position was emphatic. The news stunned
him--powerless and wellnigh nerveless, hopeless and wellnigh demented.
He had not regained his equanimity, when the mockery of his fate was
borne still more cruelly upon him in the intelligence that reached
him on February 2, 1435, in the Tour de Bar, of the demise of Queen
Giovanna II., whose will named him her successor as King of Naples.

Louis died of fever at Cosenza, the capital of Calabria, on November
15, 1434, lamented by his enemies as well as by his friends. His
devoted mother was not with him. She was broken-hearted at the news
which reached her at Angers. Alas that so gallant a soldier-King
should be cut off so suddenly and so prematurely in the first bloom
of his manhood! Cast down with grief unspeakable and mute, his
girl-wife--still a bride--Marguerite, consoled his last hours. No child
had come to bless their union, and the palpitating passion of the
honeymoon was naturally cooling. The stress, too, of martial movements
separated all too soon and too frequently the bridal couple. Still,
Queen Marguerite ministered tenderly to her sick spouse, and her
love burst forth in undiminished fervency as she realized that death
would so cruelly part them. Very nobly and unselfishly, Louis in his
will,--very strangely, made exactly to the day a year before,--required
all honour to be paid to his widow, for his sake as well as for her
own, and left her the bulk of his private property--alas! greatly
diminished by the expenses of his military campaigns. Moreover, he
expressly directed that she should be free to go where she would,--if
not to Anjou, then to her home again in Savoy,--and he besought her,
“for the love she bore him, not to pine away in sadness, but to choose
some good man and marry him, for the relief of nature and for the love
of God.”

Marguerite buried Louis with the burial of a King, and built a
monument to his memory in the cathedral, and she directed that the
sword of Lancelot, the British knight whom Louis had unhorsed at tilt
and slain, should be suspended over the royal burying-place. Then she
speeded back to her father’s Court, not adventuring herself at Naples,
where Queen Giovanna lay a-dying. Good and true wife that she was, she
kept her sorrow silently and unaffectedly for twelve long years, and
then she married another Louis--Louis IV., Duke of Bavaria. Short was
again this second union, for after another two years’ widowhood she
married, for a third time, Ulric VII., Count of Würtemberg, in 1452.
At Stuttgart, after so many tragic changes, Queen-Duchess-Countess
Marguerite settled down, and lived seventeen years in peace and
happiness, drawing her last breath upon the very day of November, the
15th, which had witnessed the marriage vows of Louis III. and herself
just thirty-six years before.

Duchess Isabelle de Lorraine, now Queen of Sicily-Anjou and Naples,
with her accustomed promptitude, despatched a messenger to the King
in prison, announcing her instant departure for Naples. She sapiently
understood that her presence in Italy was essential if the crown
of Naples was to rest securely upon her husband’s head. She would
receive the allegiance of the Neapolitans in his name, and administer
the government as his Lieutenant-General. On November 28 she left
Nancy with her second son, Louis, Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson, and
travelled post-haste into Provence. Again her presence kindled the
most enthusiastic expressions of commiseration for the lot of the
King and Count, and of devotion to his person and to herself. Men and
money poured in upon her. She welcomed all, and accepted gratefully
everybody’s contribution.

From Marseilles the Queen and her following sailed to Genoa, where the
Doge and the nobles gave her a right royal reception, and volunteered
help and amity. Thence to Milan the intrepid traveller took her way,
where she gained over the Duke, and he made René’s cause his own. In
Rome, Pope Eugenius IV. blessed her and her son, and conjured all the
Italian States to lend their aid. Her arrival at Naples was so entirely
unexpected by the Alfonsists that they were not only checkmated in
their attempt on King René’s inheritance, but were thrown into a panic,
from which they were unable to rally.

The Neapolitans of every grade and class welcomed their new Queen and
her five great galleys, filled with the flower of Provence, Milan,
and Genoa, with every manifestation of joy and loyalty. Her charms of
person transported them, her intrepidity roused them, and her gracious
words delighted them. The old love of Naples for the House of Anjou
returned, and every adherent of the Spanish King was cast out. Queen
Isabelle had very soon more serious work in hand than graciously
acknowledging the salutations of the enthusiastic citizens. King
Alfonso was at the gates of Naples with a strong force on land and
sea. She in person assumed command of the loyal troops in the capital,
appointed trusty commanders, and placed Naples in a good state of
defence. Besieged rigorously by the Spanish army, the Queen directed
sorties which were perfectly successful, and the enemy retreated to a
more respectful distance. In one of these affrays, Dom Pedro, brother
of the King of Aragon, was slain, and Queen Isabelle, with a spirit of
chivalry worthy of a noble knight and a magnanimous Sovereign, offered
his dead body royal sepulchral rites in the cathedral.

During Queen Isabelle’s absence from Lorraine, King René named their
eldest son, Jean, now Duke of Calabria,--the traditional title of the
heir to the throne of Naples,--as his Lieutenant-General in Barrois and
Lorraine, child though he was, not yet ten years old. Nominally he was
placed under the tutelage and guardianship of Queen Yolande, who made
a progress to Nancy to assist in carrying out her son’s command, and
to look after the two little “orphaned” girls, Yolande and Marguerite,
her granddaughters. Most prudently she abstained, as might have been
expected from her high-toned character, from interfering in any affairs
of State in these two eastern duchies of her son’s dominions. Four high
officials she selected to direct the policy of the palace and safeguard
the crown, all men of proven probity and loyal disinterestedness, and
to them she, by René’s wish, delegated the actual charge of the young
Duke: Jehan de Fenestranger, Grand Marshal; Gerard de Harancourt,
Seneschal; Jacques de Harancourt, Bailli or Mayor of Nancy; and
Philippe de Lenoncourt, tutor to the young Princes.

Queen Yolande having seen all these matters settled, and having named
Anne, Countess of Vaudémont, _governante_ of the two young Princesses,
she took her departure to Provence and Marseilles, there to await the
course of events in Naples. The appointment of a Vaudémont must have
struck most people as extraordinary. The Countess was mother of the
implacable Count Antoine, and it was due to Queen Yolande’s remarkable
foresightedness that she was chosen. She saw the perils ahead caused by
the number and dispersion of the dominions of the crowns unfortunate
King René had not yet put upon his head. It appeared to her that Naples
and Sicily would be the chief appanage, and require the presence of the
Sovereign almost continuously. Anjou and Provence might fall to the
government of René’s second son, and then Bar and Lorraine would go to
his daughters, perhaps upon their marriage. Vaudémont would never relax
his efforts to gain Lorraine. Might not a matrimonial alliance between
a son of his and a granddaughter of her own, thought the Queen, solve
amicably and profitably a very vexed question?

All the while that Queen Isabelle was holding Naples for her consort
and keeping Alfonso of Aragon in check, nothing was neglected which
might hasten the release of the royal captive. With commendable
astuteness Isabelle made overtures to her namesake Isabelle, Duchess of
Burgundy, and her efforts were seconded on the spot by Queen Yolande.
Isabelle of Portugal was in disposition and tastes very much like
the late lamented Duchess of Lorraine--much affected by religion, by
charity, by pity. The separation of the King of Sicily-Anjou and Naples
from his family, and the sorrows of his Queen, appealed to her womanly
sympathy. She talked long and well to Duke Philippe, and at last
succeeded in gaining his signature to a decree of pardon and an order
of release for the distinguished captive. Under her persuasion the
amount of the ransom was halved, and René’s liberty was unlimited.

King René of Sicily-Anjou and Naples was set free from durance vile at
Bracon on November 25, 1436. No doubt this achievement was greatly due
to the urgent pressure of all the Sovereigns of France, headed by King
Charles VII.; indeed, the Duke of Burgundy had hardly any choice in the
matter, for Arthur de Richemont, brother of the Duke of Brittany and
Constable of France, who was the bearer of the united royal protest,
gave him plainly to understand that the retention of René at Bracon
would mean the immediate invasion and devastation of the duchy.

René went off at once to Nancy and Bar-le-Duc, there to be welcomed by
his subjects and to thank personally his many warm friends and helpers.
After embracing his children, he hurried on to Angers, where Queen
Yolande greeted him tenderly and made him rest and refresh himself.
She had been busy, as was her wont, in more matrimonial adventures,
and now she broached the subject of the betrothal of the young Duke of
Calabria, her eldest grandson. The bride she had chosen for him, with
Queen Isabelle’s approval, was the Princess Marie, a daughter of the
Duke of Bourbon, a little motherless girl who had been under her care
for some time. She was a granddaughter of King John II. the Good, and
niece and ward of the Duke of Burgundy, who dowered her with 50,000
_écus d’or_.

There was, however, not much time for King René to waste in
festivities. He set off to thank King Charles, the Duke of Brittany,
and all the other friendly Princes who had so greatly aided his
deliverance. Then he hastened by water,--the usual method of quick
transit,--down to his favourite Provence, where the transports of
delight with which he was welcomed surpassed all former demonstrations.
He wanted men and money,--and Provence was never backward in
contributions for her Count,--for his next move was to be to Naples, to
embrace his noble Queen and relieve her of her heavy responsibilities.

The usual course was taken by the royal galley. Genoa was the
rendezvous, as of old. The Genoese gave their visitor a splendid
reception. His romantic career had greatly affected them, and now that
they beheld his gracious person their delight knew no bounds. Never had
a royal visitor such an ovation in Liguria. The famous Tommaso Fregoso,
the Doge, lodged him in the Ducal Palace, the streets were wreathed in
spring greenery, and all the maids and matrons of the proud city combed
out their rich brown, lustrous locks of hair, jauntily fixed their
white lace veils with jewelled pins, and put on their best attire and
massive chains of gold. At the entrance of the Piazza di San Lorenzo
one hundred of the fairest of the fair scattered flowers before King
René’s white steed of state, and six of the prettiest and the noblest
were dedicated to his personal wish and disposition. This indeed was
a Scriptural and a patriarchal custom, but always duly observed in
decorous and sensuous Genoa. But again pleasure had to give way to
business, and King René had the satisfaction of sailing out of that
famous harbour followed by a goodly flotilla of fighting ships well
found.

René was received at Naples tumultuously as lawful King and Sovereign.
Mounted on a great black charger, crowned and habited in cloth of
gold and covered with the royal mantle of state of crimson velvet
and ermine, the sword of St. Januarius in his hand, he rode through
people, flowers, banners, and huzzahs, right into the nave of the
cathedral; there Queen Isabelle received her consort exultingly, and
with him knelt lowly for the benediction of the Mass. That day marked
an amazing contrast in the fortunes of two men--King René, the prisoner
of Bracon, seated upon the ancient throne of Naples, and King Alfonso,
the conqueror of Aragon, pacing uneasily his prison chamber at Milan!

The reunion of the royal couple was a happy thing indeed, so often
parted had they been and so sadly. Isabelle had acted the part of a
good woman and a faithful spouse despite splenetic insinuations to the
contrary. Her position had been most trying in anxious times, and among
ill-disposed aspirants for her favour. She knew intuitively who to
trust of those that expressed themselves most devoted to her service,
and no one ever was more zealously preoccupied with the interest of her
friends than she. Now came the time to award honours to the faithful
and the true, and King René deputed his Queen to bestow the royal
favours. The first to profit by the new dispensation was, naturally,
the widowed Queen Margaret, who after the burial of her consort, King
Louis III., had sought refuge in Naples, under the sheltering wing of
her royal sister-in-law. Still resplendent in her beauty and possessed
of every youthful grace, the young Queen was the object of deep
solicitude and affection.

The condition of the Two Sicilies was parlous; almost every commune
was divided against itself on the subject of the succession to the
throne, and almost daily were recorded deeds of cruelty and aggression,
pointing to the outbreak of serious hostilities all over the dual
kingdom. The blue and white ensign of Anjou and the red and yellow
banner of Aragon were reared, not in friendly contest, but in deadly
feud. Under these circumstances René judged it expedient for the Queen
and their little son Louis to go back to France, and Queen Margaret
refused to be separated from her sympathetic sister-in-law. It was
a pang to both again so soon to part, but rulers of States are not
like ordinary mortals; for public duties must take precedence of
private interests. Isabelle’s brief rule at Naples had done wonders
in the way of conciliation, and Étienne Pasquier did not exaggerate
her virtues when he wrote: “_Cette vraye Amazone, que dans un corps
de femme portoit un cœur d’homme, fist tant d’actes généraux pendant
la prisonment de son mari, que ceste pièce este enchassée en lettres
d’or dedans les annales de Lorraine_.” All Naples shed tears at their
beloved Queen’s departure. Margaret they hardly knew, but the last
Queen they had known, Giovanna, was hated quite as thoroughly as
Isabelle was adored.

The galley bearing back to Marseilles those whom he most loved
had hardly passed beyond the horizon of the Bay of Naples when René
took action. On September 22 an Anjou herald appeared in the camp
of King Alfonso, and threw down King René’s bloodstained glove as a
challenge, first to a personal encounter between the two Kings, and
then to a combat _à l’outrance_ between the two armies. On the part
of Alfonso, who was on his way from his Milan prison, the challenge
was accepted by his chief of the staff, who indicated the locality for
the trials of chivalry and force,--the level country between Nola and
Arienzo, at the foot of Vesuvius. Single combat was denied by Alfonso,
and then René attacked his rival with all the forces at his command.
Numerically again, as at the stricken field of Bulgneville, the
Angevine army was much the stronger, for under René’s banner marched
the Milan-Genoese contingent, with Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, at
its head. René’s fleet, too, was at anchor in the bay, commanded by
the intrepid Admiral Jehan de Beaufort, to act in conjunction with the
land forces of his King. The Spanish army was better disciplined and
better furnished with artillery, and King René once more had to bow
to circumstances, and to look in vain for Fortune’s smile. His forces
were cut in two and slaughtered right and left, and he himself wounded
and all but captured, for he was not a leader to skulk behind his men:
he led the van, and was ever in the thick of the fight. His appeal,
“_Anjou-Cecile! Amor Chevaliers!_” was of no avail. He was beaten, and
fled with only two knights, and shut himself in Castel Nuovo. A truce
was signed, and the King of Naples went off to report his defeat at
Rome, Florence, and Genoa.

[Illustration: 1. “EMBARKMENT OF ‘CUER’ FOR THE ‘ISLAND OF LOVE’”

2. “‘CUER’ READING THE INSCRIPTION ON THE ENCHANTED FOUNTAIN”

From “La Conqueste de Doulce Mercy.” Written and illuminated by King
René. National Library, Paris

_To face page 130_]

Pope Eugenius IV. and the Emperor Joannes Paleologos, who were both
at Florence, received the royal fugitive ardently, blessed him, and
awarded him and his heirs, disregarding the victory of King Alfonso,
the right to govern the Two Sicilies in perpetuity. The Medici and
other Florentines of mark and wealth offered subsidies for the recovery
of the Neapolitan throne, and at Genoa and Milan men and supplies
were to be had for the asking; but René had had his fill of war, and
bloodshed was now to him abhorrent. “Too much blood,” he remarked,
“has been shed already. We will rest awhile, and ask God to pardon our
sins.” René returned to Marseilles in 1442 a sadder and a wiser man.
There he met once more his Queen, to rejoice his stricken heart; but
that heart, and hers too, tenderly bled again and again, for not only
did the melancholy news of his good mother’s death in Anjou shatter
him, but Isabelle and he had the terrible grief of parting with their
dearly-loved second son, the Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson. Prince Louis,
so promising, so handsome, and so loyal, they buried sadly: he was his
mother’s favourite child, the companion of her triumphs and her trials.

King René was called from his grief over the tomb of his young son to
Tours by Charles of France. To the French Court had come Ambassadors,
with the Earl of Suffolk at their head, to treat for peace between the
two conflicting kingdoms. The French King, with his usual lassitude,
deputed to King René the conduct of the deliberations, which ended
honourably for all parties concerned, in the guarantee of two years’
cessation of hostilities, with the acknowledgment of in _statu
quo_. Nearer home, however, matters were not so stable; the state
of the allied duchies was deplorable. So insecure were the roads in
Lorraine,--infested by wandering bands of discontented peasantry and
ill-affected townspeople,--that travelling was attended with the utmost
danger. The higher the dignity of a wayfarer, the greater the eagerness
to attack and pilfer. Queen Isabelle was herself the victim of a
dastardly outrage. Journeying forth soon after her dear son Louis’s
death, to pray at his grave at Pont-à-Mousson, her cortège was attacked
by a party of marauders from Metz. They compelled her to leave her
litter, with its cloth of gold curtains and luxurious cushions, and
subjected her to rough treatment in spite of her protestations.

“You villains!” she cried, “you know perfectly who I am. How dare
you offer this gross insult to your Sovereign! Begone, and let me
pass. You shall richly pay for your temerity.” Jeers and offensive
remarks greeted this haughty command. They cared nothing for Isabelle
nor her consort; indeed, they were unrighteous allies of the Count of
Vaudémont. The Duchess was stripped of her jewellery, her _coffrets_
were rifled, and her servants beaten, and then the miscreants made off.

The Queen hastily returned to Nancy, and laid the matter before the
Council, demanding satisfaction. “Unless you, my lords,” she said, “at
once make a strong representation to the Governor of Metz, I will set
off to Anjou, and bring the King back to recompense the miscreants.”
All the chivalry of France was shocked at this amazing outrage, and
King Charles, with Arthur de Richemont and a strong force, hurried
into Lorraine from Dauphiné, determined to make an example of the
gross behaviour of the Messins. The city barricaded her gates, sounded
the tocsin, and prepared to resist, if might be, the united forces
of France. The besieged held out for six months, flinging taunt on
taunt against the King and Queen. At last it fell, and the price the
rebels had to pay was onerous, besides the forfeiture of all their
charters and privileges. A general amnesty was granted on February
27, 1445, in Barrois as well as in Lorraine. The Messins signalized
their deliverance by offering to their liege Lord complete allegiance,
together with 25,000 _écus d’or_ enclosed in a splendid gold and
enamelled vase.

René now for the first time in his thirty years of public service and
command found himself in the possession of that rare blessing, Peace,
and he prepared to celebrate it adequately. Isabelle, too, was only too
thankful for the respite; her sorrows and anxieties had wellnigh broken
her courageous heart. After she parted with her husband in the Bay of
Naples, she landed at Marseilles, and made all haste to Angers, too
late, indeed, to soothe the last moments of her noble mother-in-law,
but drawn there by the tranquillity of Anjou. There she gave herself
to the education of her two young daughters, to whom she was happily
reunited--Marguerite just thirteen, and Yolande a year younger. René
again joined his spouse, whom he loved so fondly, and in whose honour
he had adopted a new royal motto and cipher, “_Ardent Désir_,” below a
burning brasier. They gave themselves up to religious exercises, and
led a calm and retired life--precious to them both after the alarums of
the past. The world was still very young for them both--René no more
than thirty-seven, and Isabelle two years his junior.

The most delightful ingredient in their full cup of joy was the
home-coming of their son and heir, Prince Jean, Duke of Calabria and
Lieutenant-General of Barrois-Lorraine. During eleven strenuous years
he and his devoted parents had rarely met. He had zealously, after
their brave example, addressed himself to his public duties, and had
won golden opinions from the loyal subjects of the throne. He was
nearing his majority, and with him came his young wife Marie, whose
marriage had been but lately accomplished. They were stepping bravely
together along the marital way, which their grandparents and their
parents had traversed, unscathed by scandal and beloved by all.

Great festivities were organized at Angers, Tarascon, and Nancy,
to celebrate the general peace, and in particular the betrothal of
Princess Marguerite d’Anjou. A magnificent tournament was held between
Razilly and Chinon in the summer of 1446, which attracted all the most
famous knights in France and beyond the frontiers and an immense crowd
of spectators. One there was, and she one of the fairest of the fair,
came riding beside her father, one of King René’s dearest friends,
Count Guy de Laval; and the King for the first time set eyes upon
lovely Jehanne, who was destined to mingle her destiny with his right
on to his dying day. René caused “_Le Châtel de Joyeuse Garde_” to be
built of wood richly adorned with paintings, tapestries, and garlands,
and for forty days jousts and floral games engaged the attention of the
gallant and beauteous company. A very singular and popular custom was
inaugurated at the King’s suggestion. Four knights of proved probity
crossed their lances in the roadway beyond the Castle of Chinon.
Cavaliers, accompanied by their ladies fair, were made to fight their
way through and carry safe their sweethearts. A faint heart lost his
lady, a knight unhorsed his horse, and a victorious competitor his
sash of knighthood, which was immediately tied to the crupper of his
fair one’s palfrey. The King himself took his place in the “Lists” in
black armour; his mantle was of black velvet sewn with silver lilies
of Anjou, and his well-trained charger was black also. Queen Isabelle
and her ladies occupied a flower-decked tribune, and with her was poor
young Queen Marguerite and her son’s child-wife, Marie. They were the
Queens of the Tournament, but the damosel Jehanne de Laval was “Queen
of Beauty,” scarce thirteen years old.

Alas! a deadly “bolt shot out of the blue.” The Duchess of Calabria
had but just risen from childbed; she was not strong enough to bear the
excitement and the toil of such tumultuous gaiety, and upon the last
day of the tournament she fainted in the royal tribune, and breathed
out her brief life before she could be borne to couch. Thus into
life’s sweetest joys comes sadly too often the relentless bitterness
of sorrow. Faces which only a few short hours before were wreathed in
smiles were furrowed with the ravages of grief ere the curfew sounded.
The tournament ended in a “Triumph of the Black Buffaloes.” Happily,
perhaps, the child died too, and both sweet bodies were consigned
to one flower-decked grave in the chapel garden of the Castle of
Saumur,--“_la gentille et la bien assise_,”--a paradise of fragrant
trees and pleasant prospects.

Dire news, too, reached Angers from Provence. A winter of unparalleled
inclemency was followed by a famine and a pest, which decimated people
and domestic animals, and wrought havoc with the crops. René and
Isabelle took boat once more for their southern province, and their
“_le bon roy_,” as he was now called affectionately by his subjects,
laid himself out to alleviate his people’s sufferings. Taxes were
remitted, the poor fed and clothed, and farms restocked. “_La bonté_,”
he said, “_est la première grandeur des roys_.” People noted the King’s
grey hair--hair “white less by time than white through trouble,” as
chroniclers have written. Trouble makes all the world akin: the King
and Queen bore their people’s, and they humbly shared their rulers’
griefs.

The clouds cleared off that sunny land, and birds once more sang in
the meadows, and men and maids were gay. Then it was Tarascon’s turn
to celebrate the virtues of the Count and Countess of Provence. A
Provençal tournament was a celebration _ne plus ultra_, and René made
that of 1448 famous and unique by his institution of the knightly
“_Ordre du Croissant_.” To be sure, it was established at Angers, whose
warrior-patron, St. Maurice, was honoured as guardian and exemplar of
chivalry, and in whose cathedral church the banners of the knights
were hung. The King himself drew up the statutes of the Order. With
characteristic and chivalrous modesty, he named, not himself First
Master, but chose Guy de Laval for that honourable post. Conditions
of membership were dictated by religion, courtesy, and charity, in
harmony; only knights of goodly birth and unblemished reputation were
eligible. They were enjoined to hear Mass daily and to recite the
daily “Hours.” Fraternal love was to be exemplified in all dealings
with their fellow-men at large. An impious oath or an indecent jest
was never to pass their lips. Women and children were in a special
sense committed to their care. The poor and ailing were to engage their
best offices. Debts of every sort and gambling under every guise were
absolutely forbidden. With respect to the fair sex, the code of rules
had in golden letters the following order: “_De ne mesdire des femmes
de quelques estats quelles soient pour chose qui doibue d’advenir_.”
The knights first impanelled, having taken their oaths of obedience and
accepted service, departed from Anjou, and made their rendezvous at the
King’s Castle of Tarascon on August 11. René himself again entered the
“Lists,” but champion honours were carried off by his son-in-law, Ferri
de Vaudémont, and Louis de Beauvais; and the Queen-Countess Isabelle
placed floral crowns upon their brows, a golden ring upon their right
hands, and received a kiss of homage upon her still smooth and comely
cheek.

Nancy was the scene of the most magnificent gaieties Lorraine had
ever beheld. The espousals of the Princess Marguerite and King Henry
VI. were solemnized in the ancient Gothic church of St. Martin at
Pont-à-Mousson by Louis d’Harcourt, Bishop of Toul. The King was
represented by the gallant Earl of Suffolk, one of the most famous
Knights in Europe. The ecclesiastical ceremony was rendered all the
more auspicious by the joint nuptials of the Princess Yolande and
Count Ferri de Vaudémont. All France,--Sovereigns, ladies, nobles,
citizens,--thronged around the King and Queen; their congratulations
were, however, restrained until the actualities of the Vaudémont
marriage were revealed. To marry a dear child to the son of a man’s
worst enemy appeared quixotic at the least, and few called to mind that
strange clause in René’s charter of release from Bracon. The King was,
as Duke Philippe of Burgundy had styled him, a man of his word; and
if proof were wanted, then the appointment of the young bridegroom’s
mother, the Countess, as _governante_ of René’s daughters furnished it.
Besides this, the presence of the Count himself at the marriage of his
son exhibited not only the reconciliation of the two rivals for the
throne of Lorraine, but emphasized the innate chivalry of both. To be
sure, Antoine de Vaudémont was in ill-health, his fighting days were
over, and he was searching for comfort and absolution before he faced
his end; and, in truth, that end was nearer than he thought, for he
died six months after he had given his blessing to Ferri and Yolande.

A pretty and characteristic story is told of the loves of Ferri and
Yolande. King René was wishful that his daughter and future son-in-law
should attain more mature age before the consummation of Count
Antoine’s wishes concerning them. The young knight, “who was,” wrote
Martial, “regarded among men and youths much as Helen of Troy was
among her companions,”--a very handsome fellow,--chafed at delay, and,
emboldened by the vows of his fiancée, one dark, windy night he with
two trusty comrades broke into her boudoir, where she, ready for the
signal, awaited her lover. Romeo carried his Juliet away to Clermont
in Argonne, and held her till her father consented to their marriage.
This story is contained in an old manuscript, the handiwork of Louis de
Grasse, the Sire of Mas.

Splendid fêtes covering eight full days followed the Church ceremonies.
The “Lists” were held in the Grande Place of Nancy, in the presence
of the right worshipful company, headed by Kings Charles and René and
Queens Isabelle, Marie, and Margaret. Quaintly Martial d’Auvergne wrote
in “_Les Vigiles de Charles VII._”:

      “Les Roynes de France, Sécille,
      La Fiancée et la Dauphine,
      Et d’autres dames, belles filles,
      Si en firent devoir condigne.”

      “The Queens of France and Sicily,
      The Bride and the Dauphine,
      And many other dames of honour,
      Compelled the homage of the men.”

All the _châtelaines_ forsook their _manoirs_ and took the
field-marital in force. Mars had come in strength, Venus would join
the fray, and victory was never doubtful. If comely, gallant, doughty
knights fell not in deathly conflict in those “Lists” of love, their
hearts were captured by fair vanquishers all the same.

      “En gagea sans retour
      Son cœur et sa liberté,”

describes those battle-fields of Cupid’s warfare!

The pageantry of the tournament over, the panoply of the encampment
claimed the knightly company of Nancy, and a mighty cavalcade--ladies,
too, in litter and on palfrey--ambled off serenely to the great
wide plains of Champagne, where René and Charles reviewed at
Châlons-sur-Marne the united armies of all the crowns. It was a sight
which stirred all the best blood in France, and spoke to her Sovereigns
and her statesmen of a new age, when the artifices of war should give
place to the arts of peace. Alas! when human things appear to promise
peace and joy, there ever comes over the scene the pall of Providence.
War again broke out between France and England, but now the French held
their own and more; and King René, revived in military ardour, led the
victorious vanguard, and crowned his bays of triumph by new palms of
peace.

Sad news came to him, however, when in Normandy, from his ancestral
Angers. His devoted and dearly loved Queen, Isabelle, was laid low
with illness. Stalking fever had crossed the castle moat and fixed its
baneful touch upon the royal _châtelaine_. Do what she would,--and
her will to the end was vigorous enough,--she could not shake off the
deadly visitant. She felt that her end was approaching unrelentlessly,
and with admirable piety the noble, high-toned Queen controlled her
pains, and patiently prepared herself to face her last foe with
courageous resignation. Her children were gathered by her bedside--Jean
and Yolande in person, Marguerite in spirit, and perhaps Louis, too,
from his tomb at Pont-à-Mousson. Quietly and prayerfully on February
28, 1453, she passed away to join her babes in Paradise, and “Black
Angers” was plunged in deepest mourning.

The death of a great Queen deeply affects men and women everywhere.
Isabelle’s name, like that of “good Queen Yolande,” had become a
household word in Europe far and wide. Everywhere tokens of bereavement
were displayed, and King René, the royal widower, hastening home
too late to close his fond wife’s eyes in death, wrote in his
tablets: “Since the life of my dear, dear wife has been cut off by
death, my heart has lost its love, for she was the mainspring of my
consolations.” In every one of his “_Livres des Heures_,” and in other
books and places, the artist in the Sovereign painted and drew the
features and the figure of his Queen.

Their married life,--chequered as it had been,--had been as happy as
could be. Devoted to one another with a rare force of faithfulness
which knew no flaw, René and Isabelle were examples for their
generation. No stone has ever been cast at either of them. Nine
children were born to them: four, Charles, René, Anne, and Isabelle,
died in infancy; Nicholas, their third son, was a twin with Yolande,
born in 1428; he had the title of Duke of Bar, but died before his
majority. Good Queen Isabelle was buried in the Cathedral of Angers,
where nearly forty years later René’s bones were laid beside her ashes,
to mingle in the common decay till the last trump shall sound to wake
the dead.

There cannot be a better summing up of her gifts, her graces and her
virtues than in the words of the sententious life’s motto she herself
composed, and wrote in golden letters upon parchment, and gave to each
of her dear children:

      “Si l’Amour fault, la Foy n’est plus chérie;
      Si Foy périt, l’Amour s’en va périe;
          Pour ce, les ay en devise liez
          Amour et Foy.”

      “If Love fails, Faith becomes more precious;
      If Faith perishes, Love dies too;
          Whence Love and Faith together are my device.”



CHAPTER V

JEANNE D’ARC--“LA PUCELLE,” “LA BLANCHE REINE DE FRANCE”


I.

“Give me Duke René de Barrois, the noble son of good Queen Yolande, to
guide me into France.” The request was made by a simple village maiden
aged not more than seventeen years, and the personage she addressed was
Charles II., Duke of Lorraine. It was an extraordinary request; the
occasion, too, was extraordinary.

Born on the Feast of the Epiphany in the year 1412, of worthy
peasants, at Domremy, in Alsace,--Jacques d’Arc and Isabelle Romée, his
wife,--Jeanne was the younger of their two daughters; she had three
brothers older than herself. Domremy was a squalid little hamlet, like
many another upon the Meuse, boasting of the mother-church of the
commune--a grim old building, but glorified by many figures of holy
saints in its coloured windows. The nearest village was Maxey, upon
the borders of Lorraine. The villagers were in constant feud--Domremy
for the King of France and her own Duke at Nancy, Maxey for the Duke
of Burgundy and the hated English. Sieur Jacques d’Arc and his three
stalwart, hard-working sons were as ready with the pike as they were
handy with the plough. Mère Isabelle and her two daughters were zealous
backers of their menfolk.

Sieur Jacques was, as peasant farmers went, a man of substance and well
connected. He had saved a goodly sum of money, and owned, perhaps, the
biggest flock of sheep in the country-side. Milch cows and fattening
oxen grazed his wide meadows. He was a man of probity, and had served
the ancestral office of Maire of Domremy for many a year. Mère Isabelle
excelled in stitchery as well as in the rearing of poultry and the
cultivation of her fair garden plot. When about to be delivered of
her youngest child, she dreamed three times that she should bear a
girl, and that she should become famous in her country’s history. The
narrative goes on to say that many unusual circumstances attended
her child’s nativity: a fierce thunderstorm shook the dwelling, and
mysterious voices uttered the strange cry: “_Aux secours! aux secours
de la France!_”

Jeanne, the little daughter, was duly christened by the curé, and
from her mother’s womb she was a child of dedication--St. Catherine
and St. Margaret were her spiritual sponsors. Precocious from her
weaning, both in physical growth and mental development, she grew up
a devotee at Mass and shrine. She sought solitude and silence, and
declined to share her playmates’ games. Other children thought her
odd, and old crones shook their heads and pitied Sieur Jacques and
his worthy spouse. Jeanne’s favourite resort was a thicket near her
parents’ home,--Le Bois Chènus it was called,--an oak-wood grove where
her father’s pigs greedily sought for acorns. The Bois had, however,
a weird repute; it had been, centuries before, a sacrificial site
of heathen worship, and the village folk avoided it at night, for
they said they saw strange figures under the trees and heard strange
sounds,--in fact, the wood was haunted.

[Illustration: JEANNE D’ARC

From a Fresco by E. Lepenveu. Pantheon, Paris

_To face page 144_]

One summer’s day in July, 1424, Jeanne d’Arc was seated, as was her
wont, upon an ancient fallen menhir at the verge of the coppice. She
was shelling peas, and she also had her knitting by her. The hour of
the day was nearly that of the “Angelus,” when the frightened damsel
heard an unusual rustling of the oaken branches overhead, and somewhere
out of the tree or out of the sky voices sounded faintly upon her
ear. At the same time a strange lurid light gleamed between her and
the church-tower across the meadow. Laying aside her occupation, she
listened breathlessly, almost in a trance, to what the “Voices” said;
they were pitched in soothing female treble accents.

“_Jeanne soit bonne et sage enfant_,” said one; and another went
on: “_Va souvent à l’église_.” Surely the heavenly speakers were
Jeanne’s holy guardians, St. Catherine and St. Margaret. Jeanne was
riveted to the spot, and moved not till the twilight brought her
sister looking for her. Jeanne said nothing, but for seven days in
succession she sat as at the first, and heard the same solemn words
repeated; then on the seventh,--it was Saturday,--another wonder
appeared to her: a very glorious holy one and a watcher,--the great
St. Michael, God’s warring archangel, in shining armour,--stood before
her under the great oak-tree, and bade her give heed to what he said.
He told her eloquently and convincingly the story of the sad state of
France--devoured by enemies, torn by factions, her King a fugitive
uncrowned. When the heavenly visitant had finished his impassioned
narrative, he bade Jeanne kneel, and, touching her shoulder with his
flashing sword, said: “_Jeanne va toy aux secours du roy de France_.”

The girl swooned as soon as her ghostly visitor had vanished, and so
was found, and borne to her couch by her brothers in alarm. In delirium
for days and nights, she kept on repeating what the archangel had said,
until, amid broken-hearted sobs, her grieving parents counted her as
mad. All the gossips of the village and those from more distant homes
shook their heads sadly, and said more fervently their _Ave Marias_.
Jeanne was not mad, and after she had recovered her usual demeanour
she related to her doubting father and mother and the good curé her
mysterious story. The good priest proposed to exorcise the evil spirit
which he was convinced was in her. Her father,--a matter-of-fact
sort of man, and serious-minded, like all the peasant-folk of
France,--thought a good thrashing was her deserts; her mother sided
with her: she remembered the strange cry at her Jeanne’s birth.
Jeanne heard all they had to say, and kept silence, her protestations
only adding fuel to the fire of denunciation. She resumed her usual
avocations, but daily sat to hear the “Voices,” as she called her
ghostly visitants, and daily they repeated their strange instructions.
She spent much time upon her knees in the church, and at last the curé,
good man, gave heed to her infatuation. “If this be from God,” he said
to himself, “no man may stay her.” He wondered, naturally, how this
quiet and devout village girl could ever be the Divine instrument for
the deliverance of France.

Jeanne’s simplicity and sincerity, her earnestness and good behaviour,
however, gradually silenced unfriendly critics; and although most folk
regarded her as mad, many believed her story and watched developments.
The strange revelation of the maid of Domremy travelled far and wide,
and brought many a neighbour and many a stranger to question her. Among
the rest came Sieur Durand Laxaert, her mother’s uncle by marriage--a
man of means, too, and well known the country round. He questioned
Jeanne, he questioned her parents, he questioned the village curé, and
then he went off and told the amazing story to his friend, Chevalier
Robert de Baudricourt, the Captain of Vaucouleurs, a market-town
in Champagne, not far from Domremy. The gallant Captain listened
attentively, but when the story was completed he burst out laughing.
“Why, man,” said he, “you and all of them are crazy! Just go back and
box the child’s ears soundly; that’s the way to treat this sort of
nonsense.”

The matter dropped so far as the Chevalier was concerned, but again,
in the following January, Sieur Laxaert approached Baudricourt,
and asked him to see his young niece. He consented, and Jeanne,
wearing her coarse red homespun kirtle and heavy wooden shoes and
her village girl’s coif, was introduced to the unbelieving Captain.
He was dumbfounded by her appearance, for the lass was no village
hoyden. Her figure was slender, her features refined; her great
brown eyes,--staring into his face,--told only of simple faith and
untarnished honour. Her voice was low and sweet, and there was a
something eerie and incomprehensible about her which struck the good
man, and made him feel uncomfortable. When he asked her what she
wanted, she promptly replied: “I want to be led to the King of France.”

“My child,” de Baudricourt replied, “that I cannot do; but, if you
wish, I will willingly take you to Nancy, and lead you to the Duke,
your sovereign lord and mine. Prepare yourself at once for the journey.”

Amid the tears and protests of her parents and her friends Jeanne
started, as she was, upon her eventful pilgrimage. At St. Nicholas de
Pont,--a little town two leagues from Nancy,--she asked to be allowed
to spend three hours in devotions in the church. When she reappeared,
her face was wet with tears, and her long brown hair hung dishevelled
over her shoulders. She did not seem to care. Her gaze was heavenward,
and the only words she uttered were: “_En avant!_” With Sieur Laxaert
was a comrade, a young man, Jehan de Novelonpont, better known as Jehan
de Metz, of good birth and knightly carriage. He offered Jeanne his
sword. She touched the hilt, and, smiling sadly, said: “Alas! young
sir, that blade will be required erelong to slay thy country’s foes and
God’s.” Thus they entered the capital of Lorraine.

Duke Charles received his strange visitor somewhat reluctantly. He was
a man of shrewd common-sense, intolerant of superstition, and impatient
of feminine assumptions--as his consort, Duchess Marguerite, learnt to
her undoing. He asked curtly about her home and her occult powers, and
jokingly invoked her aid in the cure of gout, to which he was martyr,
and from which he was then suffering acutely. “This,” said he, “shall
be the test of your pretensions to save France. Remove my pain, and
I will take you to the King.” Jeanne shed tears, and, straightening
out her rough woolsey skirt, she looked sadly up to heaven. At last
she spoke: “Take me not, noble Duke, for a common jongleuse. First of
all, noble Duke, I implore you to become reconciled to the Duchess,
your wife; as for me, I am the unworthy instrument of God to set King
Charles of France upon his throne and to scatter his enemies.” The
Duke dismissed the maid with a wave of his hand. “Take her away,” he
said; “be kind to her; maybe I will see her again shortly.” “Jeanne,”
he added, “in a day or two you shall tell your tale before some noble
lords.”

All over Lorraine and Barrois internecine war was rife; noble rose
against noble, and yeoman and peasant joined the fray. The most serious
was the rivalry of René, the young Duke of Bar, and Antoine, Count
of Vaudémont, concerning the rights of succession to the dukedom
of Lorraine. Metz, into which de Vaudémont had thrown himself, was
invested by the Barrois troops, splendidly led by the boy-warrior--he
was but twenty years of age. A messenger from Charles requested a
truce, and invited both commanders to join him at Nancy to take
counsel with their peers upon the strange claims of a shepherd-girl
from Domremy. With Duke René rode a score of knights and nobles; Count
Antoine was accompanied by a like company. Upon the morrow of their
arrival at the capital, Duke Charles assembled them and others in the
great courtyard of the castle, and sent for Jeanne, who, still attired
in her peasant garb, knelt at his feet and kissed his hand. Then she
surveyed the assembly furtively, as though prepared for insult or
worse, and quietly repeated her strange story amid general scoffs and
impatience. One noble knight alone gave serious heed,--René, Duke of
Bar. Duke Charles taunted her with her inability to mount a horse, much
more to lead an army.

“Jeanne,” said he, “thou hast never bestridden a charger, thou canst
not bear a lance!”

“Sire,” she replied, “mount me, and see if I cannot both ride and hold
my own.”

A quiet palfrey,--the property of Duchess Marguerite,--was led into
the courtyard by its groom, but Jeanne refused to mount. “Give me,”
she demanded, “the charger of that Prince yonder,” pointing to René of
Sicily-Anjou and Bar. The Prince lifted her into the saddle, and his
gentleness, reverence, and good looks, differentiated him from the rest
of that knightly assemblage.

“What is thy name, brave Prince?” she asked.

“René de Bar,” he said.

“What!” the Maid replied, “the noble Duke of Bar, the gallant son of
good Queen Yolande of Anjou. You shall be my escort into France.”

With that she laid firm hold of the heavy lance, offered by a young
esquire, placed it correctly in stay, and smartly gathered up the
reins. Saluting Dukes Charles and René, she drove the heels of her
wooden shoes into the horse’s sides, and dashed round and round
the courtyard, the lance in position, and then out into the open.
Astonishment marked each noble countenance, and then loud applause
greeted this quite unexpected display; it enlisted to her cause most of
the spectators, who had meant to cry down the girl’s ineptitude, but
now were perfectly ready to follow her. With difficulty Jeanne reined
in her mount, and slowly cantered into the courtyard again. Saluting in
correct knightly fashion the Duke, her Sovereign, and beckoning René
once more to her side, she dismounted with his help, rendered up her
lance, and fell at Charles’s feet.

The Duke gently raised the palpitating, girlish form, and aloud
exclaimed: “May God grant the accomplishment of thy desires! I see
thou hast both courage and intelligence.” Jeanne then turned to René,
and, laying her trembling hand upon his arm, looked up innocently but
intently with her great brown eyes, into his open, truthful face,
and said: “You, my Prince, will help me, I am sure. There is none
other here in whom I know I can put my whole trust. You are like
the blessed Michael who speaks to me and strengthens me. You are a
Christian knight; you will lead me into France.” The Maid’s partiality
for René de Bar gave rise, unworthily, to evil gossip with respect
to their mutual relations. She was attracted to him by the tales of
the country-side. Domremy was so near to the scenes of his military
achievements in Lorraine that news of him and his prowess affected
greatly the younger folk. The fact that he was the husband of their
Princess Isabelle, “the Pride of Lorraine,” greatly added to his local
fame.

The noble company at the castle moved into the hall of
audience, and there Jeanne laid before them fully all her loyal
aims--heaven-directed, as she said. She told them, too, the story of
the “Voices,” and craved their assistance in her enterprise. “We will
traverse France together,” she exclaimed, “until we find King Charles.
We will crown him at Reims, and we will then cast out our country’s
enemies. Saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret, will protect us and
our homes!”

This amazing speech by a young country girl roused general enthusiasm,
and the mysterious magic of her voice and manner disarmed all
opposition. Each belted knight drew forth his steely blade, and,
tossing it on high, swore to be her henchman. “_Vive la nostre Royne!
à bas les Anglois!_” they cried aloud together. These acclamations
hurtled stridently through gallery, way-ward, and postern, and away
they flew in increased volume past the portcullis, till every citizen
in Nancy and the labourers in the fields around joined in the ecstatic
chorus: “_Vive la nostre Royne Jeanne!_” Rich and poor, noble and
simple, and the children, too, pressed into the castle precincts to
catch a sight of the humble yet brave messenger of God, and perchance
to touch her person or her dress, seeking infection from the virtue and
valour which possessed her. Jeanne’s reception and recognition at Nancy
Castle attained the proportions of a Bretagne _pardon_. Church-bells
clanged for her, priests blessed her, and relics of saints were exposed
with the Blessed Sacrament on her behalf.

[Illustration: JEANNE D’ARC EXPELLING GAY WOMEN FROM HER CAMP

From an Illuminated MS. National Library of Paris

_To face page 152_]

Duke René, on his part, showed no hesitation in accepting the high
honour the inspired Maid had paid him. He kissed her hand, a peasant’s
hand,--strange act for a royal knight!--smitten with the girl’s piety
and devotion; he, too, was religiously affected. Jeanne became an
heroic figure in his estimation. What clean-minded lad is there, or
has ever been, who is not marvellously affected by a handsome, dashing
girl, irrespective of her rank in life? What traces some have seen of
a tenderer passion still than youthful admiration were surely hard to
diagnose in that first burst of emotional romance: it may have bloomed
later, but René’s heart was in the safe-keeping of Isabelle. Times and
manners then lent colour to the insinuation, possibly, for love and
lovers were freer then than now from social conventions. René departed
for Bar-le-Duc, to prepare for the expedition. He gave immediate orders
to raise the siege of three fortresses, Metz, Vézelise, and Vaudémont,
and, calling off the troops encamped there, he returned quickly to
Nancy, to escort Jeanne to the King of France. He found her arrayed
in quasi-armour, with spurs on her mailed boots; her head alone was
uncovered, save for the glory of her abundant hair. She wore a sash
of white silk, the gift of Duchess Marguerite; her horse, too, had
white silken favours. The cavalcade started from the castle, René and
Jeanne riding side by side in front. Through byways they went,--an
ever-increasing host of armed men and camp-followers,--avoiding notice
as best they could, marching by night, resting by day, to avoid the
scattered bands of English foemen.

The pilgrimage,--for such it really was,--partook not only of a
religious and a warlike character,--for Jeanne insisted on attending
Mass _en route_, and prevailed upon her escort to say their daily
prayers,--but it exhibited elements of gaiety; with Duke René rode a
company of minstrels, with Jehan Durant of Bar as their leader. To him
René paid 30 gold florins a month--“to make warlike melody for keeping
up my men’s brave hearts,” he said. At Troyes, Jeanne and her escort
were received rapturously; the Bishop placed in her hand a white silken
oriflamme, a banner made by ladies of the city, and censed and blessed
her, and so they won their way to Tours.

Before entering that ancient loyal city,--under the special charge
of the holy warrior St. Martin,--Jeanne requested René to send to
the neighbouring village of Fierbois, and “ask the curé of the
Church of St. Catherine for a sword which hangs,” she said, “over
the high-altar.” It was a famous weapon, although the doughty knight
whose it had been was unremembered. The blade was of finely tempered
steel, and richly damascened with golden crosses and silver lilies--the
emblems of Jeanne’s spiritual sponsors. The sword itself, in size and
shape, was like St. Michael’s own. She told René that the “Voices” had
revealed this relic to her, and had bidden her hang it on her hip.
At Tours, also, René had news of the whereabouts of the King, who,
sad to say, was a fugitive in and out of his own dominions and those
of his neighbours. Charles VII. was at Chinon, safe in its majestic
castle--much like that of Windsor in extent, position, and distinction.

It came certainly as a grievous shock to all that enthusiastic
expedition to find the King,--“poor as a church mouse and defenceless
as a rabbit,”--engaged in frivolities and excesses. The Court at
Chinon was the maddest and the merriest in France. Duke René, true to
his promise, at once sought out the King, and arranged an interview
with the Maid of Domremy, although His Majesty at first refused “to
be troubled with a country wench.” The meeting was held in the Grand
Logis of the enceinte of the Château du Milieu. Chinon, indeed, had
three castles connected with one another: The Château de St. Georges
was a sort of advanced fortress, built by Henri Plantagenet (Henry
II. of England) in the twelfth century, but greatly dilapidated 300
years later; the Château du Milieu, the most important part of Chinon,
contained the royal apartments; and the Château de Couldray, the most
ancient, dating from the time of the heroic Thibaut le Tricheur, early
in the tenth century. Henry II. died in the Grand Logis, where King
Charles VII. had his temporary residence. In the Salle du Trône, with
its vast chimney-piece of sculptured stone and its famous painted
windows, the King summoned his courtiers, and, disguised as an ordinary
noble of the Court, he mingled with them, giving out as his reason that
he should “test the wench’s power of divination. If she picks me out
at once, then I will hear what she has to say; if not, I won’t have
anything to do with her.”

Jeanne was brought into the splendid apartment, filled with the
pageantry of France, and dazzling enough to have disturbed any
ordinary girl’s equanimity. She made, taught by René, an obeisance to
the empty throne, and then he told her she must find the King among
the company. Without a moment’s hesitation she went straight up to
the Sovereign incognito, bowed low, and said softly: “Sire, you are
Charles the Dauphin.” Very much astonished by Jeanne’s appearance and
demeanour, and still more by her certainty as to his identity, Charles
acknowledged himself, and, leading the unabashed damsel with René aside
into the embrasure of a window, he asked her to give him her message.
This Jeanne did with candour and emphasis, and furthermore astounded
“the Dauphin,” as she persisted in calling him,--he had not been
crowned King, of course,--by “revealing,” as he told René afterwards,
“certain secrets known only to myself and God.” What these “secrets”
were has puzzled curious inquirers. Probably they concerned happenings
during the King’s youth, and affected the question of his legitimacy.
He, too, was at one time proposed as the husband of the “Pride of
Lorraine,” the heiress Isabelle. Anyhow, as known to Jeanne d’Arc,
they were the usual exaggerations of Court and country gossip. Kings,
knights, and ladies, and their doings, ever cause peasants topics for
discussion.

“Gentle Dauphin,” the Maid said, “I am sent to you to tell you that you
shall be crowned at Reims.” The Court was divided; part held with la
Trémouille, the Chancellor, against Jeanne’s pretensions, some of the
baser sort attempted to make sport of her rusticity, but the majority
sided with Duke René, who was now more than ever impressed with the
bearing of his “Queen.”


II.

All sorts of plans were propounded to test the virtue and the devotion
of the young Domremy shepherdess. René and those of his following
denounced most of them as indecent and preposterous, but he allowed two
inquiries to be instituted: one with reference to Jeanne’s orthodoxy in
religion, and the other with respect to her personal chastity. The King
approved both these expedients, and confided to René,--youth though he
was,--their superintendence and execution.

Still acting as Jeanne’s escort, René took her and a number of
Court chaplains, together with the worthy Curé of Domremy and Sieur
Laxaert,--both of whom had been sent for from Lorraine,--to Poitiers,
for examination by a special conclave of Bishops and theologians.
Poitiers was famous for its divinity schools and its _École de Droit_,
wherein thousands of students were instructed in doctrinal matters and
subjects of metaphysical science. The Holy See had there an office of
the Congregation of Rites and a permanent secretariate of hagiology.
The quaint old capital of Poitou was also renowned for the shrine of
St. Radegonde, which attracted annually vast numbers of pilgrims to
kiss _Le Pas de Dieu_, Christ’s footprints, where he stood communing
with his gentle servant. Radegonde and Jeanne had ground for mutual
sympathy. Perhaps Jeanne knew the story of her prototype.

Do what they would, the holy men of Poitiers could not make Jeanne
deviate ever so little from the thread of her story. “The Voices,”
she said, “speak to me daily, and I feel that my three saints are
with me constantly.” She answered all their questions fearlessly, and
very greatly were they impressed by her sincerity and amazed at her
knowledge of divinity. No flaw was to be discovered in her orthodoxy,
nor did she yield at all to insinuations of witchcraft. Indeed, the
whole assembly was affected by her religious enthusiasm, and a careful
précis was preserved of all that transpired during the examination.
This was, in truth, the first step to the beatification of St. Jeanne
d’Arc.

Returning to Chinon, the Maid awaited her second ordeal--the
inquisition by a panel of matrons. This delicate business was taken in
hand by Queen Yolande and certain ladies well known for probity and
prudence. Jeanne submitted herself gladly enough to the “good mother”
of her true knight, René d’Anjou and Bar. They speedily reached a
decision respecting the character of the Maid of Domremy. Emphatically
they repudiated all suggestions of immorality, and declared that
Jeanne d’Arc was a _virgo intacta_, “as chaste in mind and body as the
Holy Virgin herself.” “_La Pucelle_,” as they styled her, “is,” they
affirmed, “a child of God, the peculiar charge of St. Catherine and
St. Margaret, whose saintly virtues she desires to cultivate. She is
no witch, nor in the pay of any evil-minded persons. She is directly
inspired by God, and St. Michael is her protector.”

This testimony Queen Yolande delivered personally to King Charles, and
persuaded him to see the Maid once more and converse more fully with
her. The result of this intercourse was amazing: Charles became another
man. The persuasions of his faithful and devout consort, Queen Marie,
had completely failed to rouse him, and the exhortations of Queen
Yolande had no more than excited his curiosity, but the village maid
from Lorraine succeeded in inspiring the trifling, inept Sovereign with
new life and energy. He sent for René, and named him his lieutenant,
and recommitted “_La Pucelle_” to his care. With the young Duke was
his trusty friend and Mentor, Armand Barbazan, one of the most perfect
soldiers and gentlemen in France, the precursor of another knight
“_sans peur et sans reproche_”--Bayart. Together they elaborated a plan
of campaign which would be in obedience to the mysterious “Voices”
of “_La Pucelle_.” This they submitted to la Trémouille, Dunois, “le
Bâtard,” and La Hire, Charles’s trusted counsellors. It was the latter,
probably, who uttered that veiled rebuke to the King: “Sire, I never
knew any Prince so happy in his losses as you!”

These sapient commanders agreed that the first move in the new
operations was the raising of the siege of Orléans. The King
acquiesced; he, too, had done his part, for he had, upon his own
initiative, detached the Duke of Burgundy from his alliance with the
English, and had thus very materially prepared the way to Reims and his
coronation. Jeanne d’Arc was, of course, apprised of this decision, and
she was asked what part she proposed to take. After a night-long vigil
in the grand old church of St. Maurice, where she held communion with
the “Voices,” she told René that she should be by his side “as leader
of the vanguard.”

The Maid had done very much upon the forced march from Nancy to
Chinon to reform the discipline and the freedom of the soldiers.
She forbade swearing and the use of strong drink. Gambling of every
kind, and resort to fortune-telling mummers, she penalized, as well
as every other illicit distraction. She expelled in person _les
filles de joie_--the gay women who hung upon the fringe of the army
and demoralized both officers and men. Daily she insisted upon Mass
being celebrated on the field of march, and moved each man to offer
his own orisons upon his bended knee. Among her immediate attendants
were priests and acolytes--strange comrades, perhaps, for Duke René’s
minstrels; but, then, the two cults,--Religion and Chivalry,--were ever
in intimate affinity: all-honoured Blessed Mary first, and the saints
of God, and all respected the persons of the weaker sex around them.

It was a well-found, well-disciplined, and well-led army that left the
sheltering battlements of Chinon on April 29, 1429--it was a momentous
move. Some in river barges, some in saddle, some afoot, traversed the
lovely spring-smiling valley of the Loire. Forest echoes were awakened
and church-bells set chiming in response to holy litanies of Church and
lilting songs of chivalry. Peasants put lighted candles on the lintels
of doors and windows of their rude hovels; every castle and _manoir_
displayed their banners and boomed their guns _en route_. In the
churches the Host was exposed on decorated altars, and _Miserere_ sung.

Before bidding farewell to King Charles, La Pucelle,--fully armed,
cap-à-pie, in burnished steel armour of Zaragoza damascened with gold,
wherein she had been clothed by Queen Yolande’s royal hands,--took her
place upon the foot-pace of the high-altar of St. Maurice. She placed
her white oriflamme and her crimson-sheathed sword of Fierbois upon
the sacred stone for episcopal benediction, and then, dedicating her
mission and herself once more solemnly to the God of battles, assumed
her trophy and her weapon. Led by René, she slowly passed down the nave
of the grand old church, and out by the great portal, whence, mounting
her strong white charger, she rode off amid enthusiastic plaudits and
many hearty prayers, to put herself at the head of the French host, and
thus awaited the signal to advance.

[Illustration: JEANNE D’ARC AT THE SIEGE OF ORLÉANS

From a Fresco by E. Lepenveu. Pantheon, Paris

_To face page 160_]

What a thrilling scene it must have been! Nothing in modern warfare
could ever equal in circumstance and emotion that pageant pilgrimage.
It was the last hope of France going forth to conquer or to die, led
by a young shepherd-girl and a youthful royal knight. La Pucelle’s
absolute reliance on the help of God, her remarkable courage, and
the spell she had cast over the King, his army, and his Court, were
all rendered more convincing to the common mind by the magic of her
personal appearance. She was hailed as “_Nostre Royne en blanche!_”
The bright sun shone upon her resplendent white armour, and the sharp
breeze unfurled her snow-white banner; her white charger, too, enhanced
the _tout ensemble_. She rode the most conspicuous object in that
dazzling cavalcade, and no wonder her followers regarded her as almost
supernatural.

At Tours and at Blois “Stations” were made for absolution, and from the
latter place Jeanne caused René, in her name, to write an ultimatum to
the Duke of Bedford, the English Regent of France and Generalissimo
of the English army. She ordered him and his co-commanders to cease
devastating fair France, sorely stricken as she was, and to avoid the
clash of arms by retiring before her Heaven-directed forces. “Thou hast
had,” she said, “noble Duke, thy fill of human bleed. Seek now the
Divine pardon, for nothing shall stay me till I have planted my banner
upon the walls of Orléans. Give back to me the keys of all the towns
you have seized, destroy no more property, repent and retire.”

Alas for human foresight! human quarrels mar heroic achievements: la
Trémouille, Dunois, and La Hire were not at one with one another--each
sought his own; but that being impossible, all three determined that
they would master René, Barbazan, and Jeanne. La Pucelle had made up
her mind to approach Orléans from the right bank of the Loire; but her
rivals led their troops to the other side, whence the fortifications
could only be reached by crossing the impregnable bridge or by boat.
Jeanne, however, was not to be denied, and she determined to make an
assault at once and at all costs. Seeing herself misled, she summoned
René once more for council, and Guy de Laval, a young knight,--second
only to René in devotion to La Pucelle,--joined the deliberations. A
storming-party was chosen,--regardless of the opposition of the three
churlish commanders,--and Jeanne put herself at its head without any
hesitation. Confidence and enthusiasm prevailed: Jeanne stood upon
the broken bridge whilst René and Guy hammered at the portcullis; and
thus upon May 8 Orléans was captured. Among the wounded was the Maid
herself, not severely, to be sure, but the sight of her blood lent
frenzied prowess to her soldiery. With her escort she rode through the
streets crowded with famished, suffering people, who blessed,--nay,
almost worshipped,--her. She halted at the cathedral of Sainte Croix,
and held communion with the “Voices,” and then she went to rest awhile
in the humble abode of Sieur Jacques Bouchier, an honest citizen
attached to the suite of the Duke of Orléans. René lodged at the ducal
palace.

The English withdrew to Paris, where a truce was agreed to by Louis,
Cardinal de Bar, in the name of his nephew, Duke René--a very singular
arrangement, but it was the efficient cause of a general suspension
of hostilities. Charles VII. called a council of war at Blois, which
decided that, as the way was now absolutely open, La Pucelle should
fulfil her mysterious but triumphant mission by conducting “the
Dauphin” to his coronation.

A great wave of patriotism swept over France. Men asked one another
whether this was not the prelude to deliverance from 300 years of
foreign aggression, and the first step towards the reformation of
civil disorder. Charles rose to his magnificent opportunity, and
rallied all the French Sovereigns in a league of peace and stability.
Even the implacable Duke of Burgundy, who hated René de Bar and
Charles de Lorraine irreconcilably, was minded to join in the general
_rapprochement_. La Pucelle dictated a letter to him, conjuring him to
renounce his petty jealousies for the love of Christ and St. Mary, to
make his peace complete with King Charles of France, and to turn his
hand against the common enemy. “Come,” she said, “with us to Reims,
there to cement the good-will of all good men in France.” The Duke
actually made some preparations for the journey, but at the eleventh
hour pride got the better of his reason, and his hand never grasped
those of his brother Sovereigns nor that of La Pucelle. Notwithstanding
all France was _en route_ to Reims that July, attracted magnet-like by
the Maid’s white steel mail and oriflamme.

The Cathedral of Reims,--whose marvellous “Glory of Mary” over the
great western portal Viollet le Duc called “the most splendid piece of
Gothic architecture in the world,”--had been the coronation theatre of
all the Kings of France since Henry I. in 1027; but no such ceremony
had equalled in interest and in grandeur that of July 17, 1429. The
summer sun awoke betimes the loyal citizens and the thousands of
strangers within their gates; the genial morning breeze ruffled out gay
banners and pageant garlands which decorated lavishly each house and
street, and soon the world and his wife were on foot to the cathedral.

There was certainly very much more than a mere suspicion of _fin
bouquet_ in that fresh morning air; each worthy had filled his flask
with generous _vin de la montaigne_, with which to quaff jovially the
good healths of Charles and Jeanne and René, inseparable in the popular
mind. “_Le Roy, La Pucelle, et le preux Cavalier_”--that was the toast.

What a motley crowd it was! Some, too, of the hated English were there,
courageously incognito; but, then, Reims was quite as cosmopolitan
in the fifteenth century as she is in the twentieth, with her 30,000
Yorkshire and Worcestershire wool-weavers. Probably, however, no forced
Yorkshire rhubarb found its way then, as now, into the vats of the
vintners!

It was a well-dressed crowd, for St. Frisette,--one of the patrons
of the city,--has all along had her devotees, and no coiffeurs are
so famous as those of her romantic cult. Indeed, her influence in
fashion is for ever memoralized by the costumes and headgear, correctly
chiselled, of the statues of the cathedral.

Saints, prophets, kings, and queens, in stone, high up in the
galleries of the exterior of the cathedral, looked down approvingly,
or the reverse, upon the rare show and its spectators. The gargoyles
of Reims were ever famous for their unusual benignity. They were all
animation and sparkled in the sunshine; merriment became emphatic
within the floriated arches of the buttresses. In each a laughing angel
in stone was exercising her witchery and adding heavenly hilarity to
the general good-humour. The whole sacred building was _en fête_; it is
still the merriest building in Christendom; its sculptured stones have
imbibed the effervescence of rare champagne for centuries!

Within the sacred building all was solemn and restrained. Resplendent
gem-like glass of the thirteenth century, skilfully leaded in the
clerestory windows of the nave, produced a chiaroscuro of scintillating
coloured light, wherein the spirits of the mighty and the beauteous
dead were mustering to take, unseen, their sympathetic parts in the
gorgeous functions of the day. Freshly-worked tapestries, covering the
aisle walls, shared with the vitreous glories the telling of pageant
stories of religion and romance.

The “_Sacré_,” or coronation, of King Charles was an unique
ceremonial. Supported upon either hand by the most distinguished
Sovereign Princes of France,--Louis III., King of Sicily and Duke
of Anjou, and his brother René, Duke of Barrois and heir-consort of
Lorraine,--he passed majestically up the nave under the heavy golden
canopy of state. Another Anjou Prince, Charles, Duke of Maine, nephew
of Louis and René, bore the monarch’s train--his cousins all. The Grand
Peers, with one exception, Burgundy, marched alongside in sovereign
dignity and pride. Strange it was that no royal ladies graced the
auspicious sacring. Queen Marie bore no part; she, indeed, remained at
Bourges, and recited her “Hours” in solitude. Neither Queen Yolande of
Sicily-Anjou nor Duchess Isabelle of Bar-Lorraine was present, but the
place of First Lady was, for all that, occupied by a “Queen,” _the_
Queen of the coronation--“_la Royne blanche--Jeanne_.” Such a “Queen”
had never stood beside a Sovereign kneeling for his crown before the
high-altar of Reims. The fabled fame of saintly Queen Clotilde paled
before the brilliant triumph of plain Jeanne d’Arc. How she bore
herself in this her hour of miraculous victory, and what part she
took in the stately ceremonial, historians have scantily related, and
painters only imaginatively recorded: no précis has come down to us, no
artist made a sketch upon the spot.

Immediately after the King and his royal supporters walked with dignity
La Pucelle, in her flashing white armour. In her right hand she bore,
at the salute, the crimson-sheathed sword of St. Catherine of Fierbois.
Her head was bare, save for her lustrous locks of hair; but some pious
souls thought they saw a saint’s nimbus around her brow; it was,
perhaps, a ring of sunny halo--a reflection from her mail of steel, or
a coronal of coloured glories shot through the stained-glass windows.
By the Maid’s side marched her young and true esquire, Louis de Contes,
bearing unfurled her magic oriflamme.

It was said that Jeanne had not intended to take any part in the
actual coronation of her Sovereign; it was quite enough for her that
Charles and she had entered Reims together. She was resting quietly and
prayerfully, communing with her patron saints, and listening, as was
her daily wont, of course, to the “Voices,” within her modest chamber
in the humble hostelry,--now the Maison Rouge,--where her parents from
Domremy had put up, when René and a Sovereign’s escort clattered up to
the door and commanded in the King’s name the Maid’s presence within
the cathedral. At once she donned her armour, and, giving René her
hand, she walked with him across the cathedral place to where the King
was awaiting her.

“The people,” it is recorded, “looked on with awe and wonder. Thus
had actually come to pass the fantastic vision that floated before
the eyes of the young village girl of Domremy, and had thrilled all
France.” When La Pucelle had taken up her station on the royal daïs,
she grasped her white silken banner in her right hand, saying to those
around her: “This oriflamme hath shared the dangers: it has a right to
the glories!” That ensign of victory still towers up aloft in the nave
of Reims Cathedral, above the very spot where Jeanne stood and Charles
was crowned--an abiding mascot of faith and chivalry. We may well
imagine the heroine casting her eyes over that splendid temple of God
and its occupants, and resting at last mesmerically upon the glorified
figures of her three beloved holy ones beaming down upon her from the
choirs of saints in the clerestory windows. St. Michael, St. Catherine,
and St. Margaret, were all there, and their Master, too, for out and
away from the empyreal realm, and beyond the burning sun of heaven, for
the coronation of Charles VII. of France at Reims was the apotheosis
of Jeanne d’Arc of Domremy. “The glory of God,” as some said who saw
her, “there transformed the village maid into a bride of Christ”--a
substantial Queen of Heaven.

Immediately after the anointing, the coronation, and the other
ritual acts, were complete, Jeanne knelt down before her King, her
eyes brimful of tears, and said softly to him: “Gentle King, now is
fulfilled the pleasure of God. I pray you thank Him humbly with me, and
let us thank, too, the good saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret,
who have so wonderfully aided us. Now my mission to you, my King, is
fulfilled, I pray you release me, that I may depart with my parents to
my simple home. One thing only I crave: it is that my beloved village
shall be free for ever from taxation, and that their land and tenements
shall be retained by my people. Sire, I bid you farewell.”

A few days subsequent to the coronation, Charles held a council of
war at Reims to decide the plan of operations against the enemies of
France, and he again sent René to the Maid’s lodging to bid her attend.
“You have,” said the King to Jeanne, “not yet quite fulfilled the task
you set yourself. The English still possess our gates. I need your
presence and your services to rid France of her foes.” The Maid, sad
at heart that more bloodshed had to deluge the soil of the devastated
land, had no choice but to resume her martial garb, and once more to
mount her war-steed. The council was divided in opinion: some agreed
with la Trémouille, Dunois, and La Hire, and others sided with René
and Barbazan,--with them was Jeanne,--and they prevailed. An advance
in force on Paris was the order of the day. Upon August 13 René, with
Jeanne, led the vanguard of the King’s forces across the Marne. At
Montpiloir a pitched battle was fought, wherein Jeanne wrought terror
in the breast of superstitious foemen, and René covered himself with
glory. The pick of the English army, under the Regent himself, the Duke
of Bedford, was worsted, after knightly encounters of noble champions
and prodigies of valour on both sides had been keenly scored. Wherever
the white oriflamme of La Pucelle chanced to be advanced, there was
panic; the English regarded her as a supernatural being whom no human
bravery could withstand. Defeat became a rout, and ten days after
leaving Reims the victorious French army followed Jeanne and René into
St. Denis and recovered the royal sepulchres.

[Illustration: THE CORONATION OF KING CHARLES VII. AT REIMS CATHEDRAL

From a Fresco by E. Lepenveu. Pantheon, Paris

_To face page 168_]

Next to popular and soldierly estimation of the heroism of La Pucelle,
was universal admiration for the courage and resourcefulness of the
young Duke de Barrois. He with his brother, King Louis of Sicily, were
also the champions of the knightly “Lists,” although Jeanne had prayed
_her_ warrior not to risk his neck in such encounters. René, indeed,
was the hero, as Jeanne was the heroine, of that wonderful campaign.
Only half the truth was told of his abilities in that saying of the
Maid: “René de Bar is worth more than a squadron of cavalry!”

During these sanguinary operations two royal ladies, each in her
castle boudoir,--at Angers and at Nancy,--were devoured with anxiety
and apprehension: the mother and the wife of René--“good” Queen Yolande
and “fair” Duchess Isabelle. Their part was to watch and pray, for each
was exercising a lieutenant-generalcy for her absent hero. Very well
could they each have donned their coats of mail, like Jeanne d’Arc,
for each was to the manner born; but the closer ties and dearer of
motherhood could not be renounced. Queen Marie also played nobly the
woman’s part; she had her family cares also, and, now that her consort
was like a lion roused, her tact and love had much to do to restrain
his ardour. Charles was not a soldier born, nor had he been trained in
military command, so his presence in the field was fraught with risk
and danger; his forte was in reserve. Whilst Marie grasped the bridle
of his charger, Agnes Sorel loosened the girdle of his mail, and he
quietly reposed at Loches.

La Pucelle now assumed another rôle. By heavenly advice she had been
content to guide the destiny of Charles; now her “Voices” bade her
command in person the army of France against the foe. The experienced
military leaders, one and all, were discounted, and on September 8 she
took actual command-in-chief, and opened the attack on Paris. It was
on the waning of that fête-day of the Virgin that Jeanne, in all her
flashing panoply of war, scaled the first ladder raised against the
Port St. Denis; but, alas! before she could place her foot upon the
battlement her thigh was pierced by an arrow, and she fell. Shades,
too, of night were falling, and René sounded the retreat, whilst many
a gallant heart trembled more for La Pucelle than for the temporary
check. Helped by Guy de Laval and Jean de Clermont, as constant as
himself, the young chief of the staff placed tenderly the wounded Maid
upon a sumpter-horse, and himself led her to the nuns’ quarters at the
Chapelle de St. Denis hard by, and assisted to dress her wound.

René rallied the flower of the French forces, and many a grizzled
warrior and many a beardless recruit felt the influence of his
enthusiasm--whilst all were ready to lay down their lives for La
Pucelle, and mingle their blood with hers. A quaint couplet says:

      “La dit il mante la fière bande
      Que le fier Prince René commande!”

Paris fell, and Charles came to his own, whilst René bade farewell
to La Pucelle, and hurried off to Bar-le-Duc, where brave and
fair Isabelle was holding her own and his with difficulty against
unscrupulous and unpatriotic factions. Jeanne felt the absence of her
most trusty ally keenly, and missed his energetic counsels; but she
bravely resumed the conduct of the war, instructed by her heavenly
patrons. A crisis, however, was approaching--a crisis which was
momentous in its consequence for herself. Called to give siege to
Compiègne on May 24, 1430, she was taken prisoner, and the hopes of
France were wrecked. Without La Pucelle the fight was impossible, and
René had gone too!

The rest of the story of La Pucelle is, alas! soon told. What she
said to Charles, Duke of Lorraine, at the outset of her mission might
well be said of her now that she was _hors de combat_: “_La lutte sera
vive, mais j’ai le plan précis pour triompher!_” (The struggle will be
fierce, but I have a plan of certain victory!). It was said that Jeanne
was captured by some archers from Picardy, who crept unseen between the
legs of her escort. By them handed over to John, Duke of Luxembourg,
she was sold to the English. The _Tour de la Pucelle_ still marks
the spot. Not a hand in France was raised to rescue the holy maiden.
Charles himself, who owed all to her, seems to have forgotten her very
soon after his return to Loches and to the arms of his “_belle des
belles_,” Agnes Sorel. René was fighting for his own in Lorraine and
Bar, and could do nothing for his heroine. La Pucelle was taken from
fortress to fortress, each prison being more fearsome than the last.
She was subjected to insult and injury, treachery and outrage, and,
deserted by everyone, she remained reliant only upon God. Her trial
as an enemy and a sorceress was a mockery; even her own people turned
against her; her straightforward answers and her superhuman fortitude
baffled her judges. At last she was condemned and shut up in a cage of
iron, her feet fettered with irons, and her body stripped almost to
nakedness. Alas that God, whose devoted servant she was, should have
destined her to this last stage of despair! Through all her bitter
trials and sufferings she maintained an undaunted demeanour. Were her
“Voices” hushed now that she prayed for death? When some English bigots
approached to taunt her, she answered meekly: “_Je sais bien que les
Anglois me feront mourir_” (I know perfectly well that the English will
put me to death).

A year’s captivity and cruelty, harsh and revolting, found the
spotless, unselfish, and pious “Maid of Orléans” in her twentieth
year--alas! so young to die--a human wreck; but, mercifully, an end
was put to her sufferings at Rouen on May 30, 1431. Burnt to death
in the market-place,--calling upon Jesus, Mary, Michael, Catherine,
and Margaret,--her fiendish murderers hardly allowed the fire to cool
before they raked up her poor grey ashes, and then cast them with
maledictions into the swirling Seine. So perished Jeanne d’Arc, the
child of God, the deliverer of her country. Now her place is among the
saints: she is St. Jeanne d’Arc.

It was said that her heart was found intact after the fire had burnt
itself out, and that as one stooped to pick it up a white dove
fluttered before his face!

Ill news travels apace. René de Bar et Lorraine heard of the tragedy
at Rouen, and was broken-hearted. He dismissed his captains, his
courtiers, and his minstrels, and shut himself up in his castle at
Clermont, where he chided his soul with tears and fastings. His was the
bitter cry: “_Ma Royne blanche, Jeanne, est mort--helas! ma Royne est
mort!_”

The heart, too, of Charles, the King, reproached him before he died; he
could never really have forgotten La Pucelle. A little girl was born to
him and Queen Marie six months after Jeanne’s martyrdom; her name was
“_Jeanne_,” as he said, “_en reconnaissance et pour mes péchés_.”

In the Register of Taxes the space against Domremy was left vacant
until the great revolution, except for the entry: “_Néant, à cause de
la Pucelle_.” Her parents’ cottage is still preserved, although the
Bois Chènus is no more. The memory of Jeanne d’Arc will never die.



CHAPTER VI

MARIE D’ANJOU--“LA PETITE REINE DE BOURGES”


I.

“The little Queen of Bourges,”--so called partly in derision, partly
in pity,--but all the same one of the noblest and best Queens who
ever shared the sovereign throne of France: “noble,” not so much in
gradation of rank as in distinction of character; “best,” or “good,”
not in the sense of mock righteousness, but in the interpretation of
whole-heartedness.

Marie d’Anjou was the eldest daughter of King Louis II. and Queen
Yolande of Sicily-Anjou-Naples-Provence. Born at Angers, October
14, 1404, she and her younger brother, René, four years her junior,
grew up to love one another almost distractedly. So intense was this
fraternal affection that their solicitous and resourceful mother viewed
it with apprehension, fearing its consequences,--if left unchecked or
undiverted into a more natural channel,--the cloister. It was no part
of the excellent training the Queen provided for her offspring to hide
their futures under the garb of religion; she had lofty ambitions for
all her children, and those ambitions she lived to see realized.

[Illustration: MARIE D’ANJOU

From a Painting of the School of Jean Fouquet (1460). National Gallery,
London

_To face page 174_]

Marie d’Anjou’s betrothal and marriage to Charles de Ponthieu,
Dauphin of France, in 1422, was a supreme master-stroke of statecraft
which only such a remarkable mother and Queen as Yolande of
Sicily-Anjou could effect. She, with all her prescience, could not have
forecast the future of France proper and her many sovereign sister
States, which was, in its happy fruition, due to that far-seeing
nuptial contract. Marie’s son, Louis XI., made France one nation much
as she is to-day.

When Queen Yolande so anxiously took charge of the young Dauphin, and
had him educated with her own children, she was quite prepared for
any mental and physical development in her son-in-law which might be
expected to result from his unhappy parentage. No doubt she did what
was possible to correct faults of heredity and to develop such latent
excellencies as had not been wholly vitiated in the child’s infancy.
Still, we may be sure she had a heart full of trouble as she witnessed
the degeneration of her son-in-law from paths of probity and virtue.

In truth, the marriage of Princess Marie was, in a strict sense, a
sacrifice and an oblation. The mating of her dearly loved daughter, a
girl of unusual promise, with a youth of evil ancestry and unworthy
predispositions must have cost the devoted mother much.

Marie was remarkable for rare beauty of person--pale, with perfect
features; tall, with a graceful figure, and distinguished by her regal
carriage.

In personal appearance Charles was unattractive: his figure was
insignificant and ill-formed; his head was unduly large; he had large
feet and hands, whilst his legs were short and bowed, and this caused
an ungraceful gait; his face was sickly-looking and pock-marked, with
a prominent nose, a wide and sensual mouth, and a heavy jaw; his
eyes were small and somewhat crisscross; he had coarse dark hair and
heavy eyebrows. If his destiny had not been a throne, he might just
as well have found his career in a stable. With all these personal
disadvantages, Charles was naturally warm-hearted and affectionate; he
was possessed of a cool judgment, very affable and considerate, and,
when roused, a very lion in the way. The marks of his evil mother’s
influence never left him; the crushing of his natural inclinations and
opportunities in childhood warped and unbalanced his mental calibre.

It was said scoffingly of him by those who were bereft of feeling: “_Le
Dauphin est un fou, fils d’un insensé et d’une prostituée_.”[A] Jean
Juvenal des Ursins perhaps went too far in the opposite direction, for
in 1433 he wrote in his “Chronicle” concerning the King: “_Sa vie est
plaisante à Dieu; il n’y-a-en aucun vice_.”[B]

    [A] “The Dauphin is a poor fool, the son of a madman and a
    prostitute.”

    [B] “His manner of life is pleasant to God; he has no vice.”

The first notice we find of the life of Marie d’Anjou, however, does
not refer to her union with Charles VII., but her betrothal, when only
five years old, to Jehan de Beaux, Prince of Taranto, her kinsman.
He was the son of the Prince of Taranto who accompanied King Louis
II., Marie’s father, on his romantic journey to Perpignan, in 1399,
to welcome Princess Yolanda d’Arragona. Descended in direct line from
Charles, first Duke of Anjou, younger brother of St. Louis IX., his
grandfather was Philippe, second son of Charles III. and Marguerite
of France. Through the last-named Princess a sad stain besmirched
the shield of the silver lilies. Jehanne and Blanche de Luxembourg,
daughters of Otto IV., Count of Burgundy, married respectively King
Philippe the “Tall” and King Charles the “Fair” of France. Charged
with witchcraft, they were imprisoned for life in the Château de
Dourdan, where they were tonsured, scourged, and tortured--although
they were the most beautiful and most highly cultured women of their
day--together with their sister-in-law Marguerite, but she returned to
her husband in 1314. Their terrible experiences were made traditional
in the family, and, naturally, did not conduce to success in courtship.

No doubt the idea which fixed itself in the minds of Louis II. and
Yolande with respect to this betrothal was the strengthening of the
claims of Anjou, of the younger line, upon the crown of Naples, by the
alliance of the two branches of the house. Why this arrangement was set
aside, or when, it is hard to say. Some chroniclers aver that the young
Prince was drowned at sea off Taranto; others, that he had different
views; and, more likely than all, others attribute the renunciation to
the action of Queen Yolande, who, directly she had obtained charge of
the person of the young Dauphin Charles, determined a more brilliant
match politically, if a less attractive one psychologically.

Possibly Queen Yolande hardly realized, at the date of that auspicious
marriage, how its consummation would affect herself. High-toned as
she was, and assertive of Anjou’s prestige, she could not know that
Queen Isabeau’s absolute declension from rectitude would, by force of
contrast alone, throw her own worthy aims into emphatic prominence.
That marriage was the opening of the portals of imperial interest
to the personal guidance of the strongest mind and will in France.
She became actually the power on the throne, not behind it. Her hand
directed the issues of life and death between the rival Powers--France
and England. Yolande became at once the ruler of France and the
dictator of her foreign policy. What has history to say about all this?
Nothing, or next to nothing. Historians,--the most narrow-minded and
most easily biassed of writers,--have not cared to trace and teach the
ethics of the personality of this ruler of men and States.

The genesis of the paramount influence of women in the public and
private life of France was undoubtedly in the reign of Charles VII.
He was successively in the hands of Isabeau, his unworthy mother;
of Yolande, his noble mother-in-law; of Marie, his much-enduring
wife; and of Agnes Sorel, his inspiring mistress. Happily for him,
he was withdrawn early from the immediate care of Queen Isabeau, but
her intrigues later on brought out the latent bad elements of his
character. What saving grace was his, was his through Yolande of
Sicily-Anjou. His wife and his chief mistress were given him for two
distinct purposes: Marie kept the wolf from the door and emboldened
her faint-hearted spouse, whilst Agnes cheered his troubled spirit and
impelled his motive-power. There is a quatrain of Francis I. which is
interesting from the fact that his versification leaves it doubtful
whether Marie or Agnes was actually his good genius: he names _both_ in
the first line:

      “Gentille Marie (Agnès), plus d’honneur tu mérite,
      La cause étant de France recouvrer;
      Que ce que peut dedans un cloître ouvrer--
      Close nonain ou bien dévot hermite.”

      “Gentle Marie (Agnes), thou hast gained all honour,
      Of France the new life thou wast inspirer;
      But thou wast born to adorn the cloister,
      Encloséd nun or dedicated sister.”

Marie and René d’Anjou and Charles de Ponthieu were educated together,
and for four years or more were inseparable companions. The betrothal
of Charles and Marie was effected at the Palace of the Louvre, December
18, 1413, in the presence of the King and Queen of France and of the
King and Queen of Sicily-Anjou. Charles VI. was then still King of
France, and fully in possession of his senses. His troubles, political
and mental, ranged from 1417 to 1422, when he had become no more than
nominal Sovereign, driven from place to place, crushed, depressed,
and suffering. Until his malady became hopeless, he was noted for his
nobility of endurance, his chivalry of deportment, and his unselfish
devotion to his duty. His Don Quixotic sort of life, however, was a
mixture of smiles and frowns--joys and sorrows. Such a wife and mother
as Queen Isabeau proved herself to be was quite enough to shatter the
patience and the peace of the most stolid of men. There was not a more
unhappy family in all France than that of its principal Sovereign, nor
a more miserable home than that of its King.

Still, there were not wanting human touches which paint the
character of King Charles VI. in sympathetic colours. In the King’s
room at the Castle of Blois is a superb piece of tapestry, among many
others, embroidered with the “Story of the Seigneur and Châtelaine de
Courrages.” The “_Annales Français_” recount the following narrative:
“The Seigneur de Courrages was called upon by the Parliament of Paris
to fight in the ‘Lists’ with a certain Knight, Jehan Le Gris, for the
honour of his wife, the Dame de Courrages. During the absence of her
spouse in the Holy Land, the fair châtelaine gave her favours to an
urgent lover, the Seigneur Le Gris, and he made love to her, quite
naturally, in return. King Charles VI. was presiding at a tournament,
and he noted the presence of the lady in question, but was amazed at
her effrontery; for she was seated, superbly attired, in her state
chariot, in view of the whole assemblage, whereas the custom of the
time should have found her upon her knees in her closet, praying for
her good man. The King despatched a herald to the impudent hussy, with
a message that ‘it is inconceivable that anyone lying under so grievous
a reproach should assume herself to be innocent till such time as that
innocence shall have been made apparent.’ The brazen dame was ordered
at once to dismount from her carriage and retire to her _manoir_. She
was unwilling to bow to the royal command, and, hearing of this, the
King sent another messenger, who was instructed to conduct the fair
and frail delinquent beneath a scaffold, where she was ordered to cry
aloud to God for mercy, and to the King for clemency. In the issue
of arms, luckily for her, fortune favoured her husband, who unhorsed
his adversary, and, after pinning him to the ground with his sword,
compelled him to confess the villainies he had committed with his wife.
Then the unfortunate man was hurried off to the scaffold,--beneath
which Dame de Courrages was humbly kneeling,--and there and then hung
up by the neck by way of justification of his miserable sweetheart.”
What happened to the frail woman the chronicler has failed to tell;
probably the Seigneur de Courrages took his erring wife home and
administered a well-deserved flagellation in the privacy of his
bedchamber, and condemned her to a period of imprisonment in the family
dungeon upon a spare diet of bread and water! Such was the wholesome
discipline for marital infidelity in the days of chivalry!

The marriage of Charles, Count of Ponthieu, and Marie, Princess of
Sicily-Anjou, was solemnized at St. Martin at Tours, January 15, 1422.
It was a year of rejoicing in France, for on May Day her King by
descent, Charles VI., and her King by conquest, Henry V., entered Paris
riding side by side in a splendid triumph of peace. Charles’s reason
had returned to him with the return of happier days, and although the
spectre of Isabeau was beside him, he managed to retain his senses and
his vigour until October 21, when death mercifully heralded a new reign
and a new régime in Paris.

The Dauphin and Dauphine spent their short honeymoon at Loches and
Bourges, whence they were called to attend the Kings in Paris, and
there they remained till Charles VI. died. Thereafter troubles once
more devastated fair suffering France: the peace was broken, and a
broken band of fugitives fled the capital. The Court sought refuge at
Bourges.

“The King by misfortune in the warres grew so behindhand, both in fame
and estate, that amongst other afflictions hee was subject to reproach
and poverty, so that he dined in his small chamber attended only by his
household servants. Pothou and La Hire, coming to Châteaudun to ask for
succour, found him at table with no more than a rump of mutton and two
chickens. He had neither wine nor dessert, and only two attendants,
whilst his carriage had no relay of horses and only two grooms. He was
reproached for his love of fair Agnes (Sorel), but the Bishop of St.
Denis reported that hee loved her onely for her pleasing behaviour,
eloquent speech, and beauty; and that he never used any lascivious
action unto her, nor never touched her beneath the chin.”

The _Comptes de la Royne Marie_ record that the King and Queen were
reduced to eat their meals off common pewter dishes, that they had
little or no change of linen, and that the Queen sold all her jewels to
purchase food and other necessaries. The townsfolk of the neighbourhood
as well as the nobility contributed liberally to their Sovereigns’
wants. Jacques Cœur of Bourges in particular rendered them hospitality,
for he was accustomed to send in daily the royal supper at his own
expense. Cœur was a merchant, a jeweller, and a wine-grower, and waxed
rich in trade, but never wavered in his loyalty. He became Charles’s
treasurer, but after advancing him nearly 300,000 gold crowns, he was
for some unknown reason cast into prison and condemned to execution and
the confiscation of his goods. Queen Marie pleaded for their faithful
subject, and gained his reprieve, but Jacques Cœur never recovered his
liberty nor his property.

A gory stain was dashed upon the lily shield of France when the Duke
of Burgundy was basely slain by Tanneguy de Châtel in the King’s
presence. He had been one of Charles’s most devoted adherents, for he
it was who, in 1418, carried off the youthful Dauphin, wrapped in a
piece of arras, for safety to the Bastile, and whence he was allowed to
escape to Poitiers. It was a time of terrible disaster. Paris was in
open revolution, and all the possessions of the Crown were threatened
with destruction. The English were marching all over France unopposed,
for the French Court and Government were divided by the feuds of rival
leaders. On June 12 the starving populace of the capital burnt the
Hôtel de Ville, the Temple, and prison. Women were seized, outraged,
and killed, and 1,600 murdered bodies were scattered in the streets and
squares. The Count of Armagnac was the chief supporter of the Dauphin’s
party, but Queen Isabeau joined hands with Jean “sans Peur,” Duke of
Burgundy, against her husband,--alas! now quite imbecile,--and her only
son.

A peace was patched up, and it was arranged that the Dauphin and the
Duke should meet for mutual satisfaction at Montereau. The latter had
no suspicion of foul-play, and Charles had no inkling of what was
in de Châtel’s mind. The meeting was arranged upon the stone bridge
crossing the Seine, on September 10, 1419. There the Dauphin, in full
armour, awaited his rival’s approach. The Duke passed the two barriers
on the bridge assured by the words: “Come if you please, Monseigneur.
Fear not; the Dauphin is awaiting you.” At the young Prince’s feet the
proud Jean knelt and did homage, but Charles put out no hand to raise
him graciously nor paid him any compliment, but brusquely exclaimed:
“Monseigneur, you and the Queen have disgraced France and me. I command
you to leave that wicked woman alone and go back in peace to your
dominions.”

The Duke, astounded, rose, and was about to offer some uncomplimentary
reply, when he was struck down by Tanneguy de Châtel with his
battle-axe, as he hissed out: “Thou art a traitor! Go thy way, base
Burgundy!” Twenty swords leaped from their scabbards and finished the
dastardly deed, and Charles, shocked beyond expression, mounted his
horse and galloped off. Queen Isabeau was at Troyes, where she had been
exiled by her son’s advisers, and the tragic death of her confederate
roused the whole fury of her nature. She assembled the chief citizens,
and made them an impassioned harangue:--

“Consider the horrors, faults, and crimes, perpetrated in this kingdom
of France by Charles, soi-disant Dauphin of Vienne. It is here and
now agreed that our son Henry, King of England, and our dear nephew,
Philippe, Duke of Burgundy, shall not enter into relations with the
said Charles.”

The assassination of the Duke of Burgundy weighed heavily upon the
conscience of Charles; he never concealed his wish that his mother’s
colleague should come by his end, but he never put his desire into
exact words.

The year 1422 saw Marie d’Anjou seated, at least metaphorically,
upon the throne of France. Both Kings of France died soon after her
marriage,--Henry V. on August 31, and Charles VI. on October 21,--and
Charles VII. and Marie were proclaimed King and Queen of France at
Mehun-sur-Yèvre in Berry on November 10 following. They were crowned in
Poitiers Cathedral on Christmas Day, where the new King had established
his Parliament.

[Illustration: A BESIEGED CASTLE IN FRANCE

From a Miniature, MS. Fourteenth Century, “Valeur Maxime” British Museum

_To face page 184_]

The King and Queen made many progresses through their circumscribed
dominions. The first was in the summer of 1423, when they made a state
entry also into Angers, and heard Mass at the Cathedral of St. Maurice.
They presented to the Chapter two superb pieces of tapestry, depicting
the Old and New Testaments. The Queen’s brother, Louis III., was of
course in Italy, but the Duke of Bar-Lorraine and the Duchess Isabelle
were there supporting the Queen-mother Yolande in rendering gracious
hospitalities; the citizens provided a mystery-play, and the Court
a tournament. The royal couple were lodged in the castle, from the
gateway of which Queen Marie addressed the assemblage of people: “_Vos
citoyens et habitans de la ville d’Angiers soyeant toujours loyaux et
fidèles à vostre sovereyns, et aussi des beaulx amis vers la couronne
de France, laquelle je porte moi même_.”[A] Vociferous plaudits hailed
this declamation, and both Queen Yolande and Duke René made patriotic
addresses.

    [A] “You noble citizens and good inhabitants of this worthy
    city of Angers were ever famous for loyalty and fidelity to
    your Sovereigns, and, moreover, the best of friends to the
    Crown of France, which you see I wear.”

Five years later Charles and Marie entered Anjou and took up their
residence at Saumur, where the King received the homage of no less
a fellow-Sovereign than the Duke of Brittany, this being due to the
tactful policy of the Queen-mother. Charles also had a request to place
before the loyal Angevines: he wanted money and men to carry on the
ceaseless warfare against the English. In this he admirably succeeded,
and through Duke René he gained help from Lorraine and Bar besides.

Marie, though the consort of a fugitive penniless King, had a suite
worthy of herself and of her parentage and rank; the Queen-mother saw
to that. Her Controller was Hardoin de Mailly, and her Master of Horse
Jacques Odon de Maulevrier, a devoted friend of her brother, Duke René.
The Queen’s four _Dames d’Honneur_ were Catherine Bourgoing, Aimée de
Beauvais, Philippe de la Rochefoucault, and Jeanne Sorel. Her Maids
of Honour were Marie du Couldray, Jeanne de la Grosse, Catherine de
Beauvais, Jeannett la Garrelle, Hervée Catherine de Montplaie, and
Jehanne Biardelle, with three quite young girls whose Christian names
alone have been preserved--Felize, Geffeline, and Jacquette--perhaps
pet names.

Duke René, ever a liberal-minded and open-handed Prince, gave each of
his sister’s ladies a robe of richest _aigneaulx_ fur, with crimson
satin lining, and twenty skins of martens for bordering their kirtle
bodices. Each robe cost 16 florins (= £12), and was supplied by the
Queen-mother’s furrier at Angers, one Martin Chebiton.

The immodest fashions set by Queen Isabeau and the ladies of her
Court, and their outrageous modes of headgear, did not go unrebuked by
the better sort of clergy. A very famous preaching friar, one Thomas
Correcte, a Carmelite monk from Brittany, in particular inaugurated
a crusade against feminine extravagances through the North of France
and in Flanders during the second decade of the fifteenth century.
He further strenuously denounced the dignified clergy who kept
fashionable mistresses. He was welcomed heartily by the burghers of
the towns through which he passed, and conducted to a special pulpit
erected in the market-place, adorned with rich hangings and a gigantic
crucifix. Guards of honour and musicians were at his service, and, in
spite of opposition and natural predilections, the clergy fell into
line with the popular fancy, and rang their bells on his arrival. His
denunciations were quite in accord with the feelings of the people,
but they incited the rougher element to take the law into their own
hands. Squads of youths paraded the public thoroughfares in search
of errant dames, and no sooner had their gaze alighted upon a lady
of degree, coiffured _à l’outrance_, than a flight of stones, deftly
aimed, quickly made havoc of her headgear. The popular cry, “_Un
hennin! un hennin! à bas les hennins!_” produced a panic, so that the
women dared hardly sally forth from their own doors. It was said that
the friar personally organized these demonstrations, and even paid
the lads to disenchant the fair sex by forcibly pulling down their
hideous superstructures. At all events, women with dishevelled heads
and disordered attire ran hither and thither helpless and defenceless.
The worthy and enthusiastic evangelist had, however, an alternative
fashion with which modest women might cover their heads and breasts.
He prescribed the universal habit of wearing plain _chapelles_, the
ordinary caps of peasant women. The raid, however, ceased to terrify
the determined votaries of eccentricity in dress, and, as Monstrelet,
the historian, pithily puts it, “Snails, when anybody passes near
them, draw in their horns; but when the danger is past they put them
forth again.” The _hennin_, so called by Friar Correcte, became still
more gigantic and grotesque, although Queen Marie, backed by her good
mother, Queen Yolande, made loud protests and refused their favours to
transgressors.

With respect to indecency in dress, the preacher insisted upon running
a thick cord between the men and women of his audiences. The mixing of
the sexes in public he gravely denounced, and the bareness of women’s
breasts and the tightness of men’s hose excited his most eloquent
tirades. The reason of the cord he quaintly phrased: “I perceive that
sly doings will be going on!” The King of Sicily, Louis III., and Duke
René, were quite in accord with the friar’s philippics; but the “King
of Bourges” was another sort of man, and much of the coolness which
existed between himself and Queen Marie was due to her moderation in
dress and quietness of manner. Charles, it was said, chanced to hear
the friar one day at Ponthieu, where he was in residence, and ordered
him to keep silence and depart. The friar retired to his monastery
after a year of eloquence and exertions, but his animadversions upon
the lives of the higher clergy led to his being summoned to Rome, to
answer to certain charges of breach of monkish discipline and errors
of doctrine. The poor man seems to have felt his position keenly, so
keenly, indeed, that to escape judgment he jumped out of the window of
his cell and decamped. Being quickly captured, he was arraigned before
the Holy Office of the Inquisition, and condemned to be burnt as a
heretic. Perhaps he deserved punishment for his unguarded language, but
he paid dearly indeed as a reformer of gay women’s fashions and gross
parsons’ passions!

The years 1427 and 1428 saw France plunged in warfare. King Charles
shook himself, metaphorically, and registered a vow that he would drive
out every “desecrating English dog.” He bestirred himself, and led
forlorn hopes here and there, only to meet with disaster; and then he
gave way to despair, and declared that he would do no more for France
or for himself. Queen Marie, with true Anjou-Aragon grit, chided him
with his faint-heartedness, and one day she surprised him greatly by
appearing in a full suit of armour and armed, and declared that “If
you, Charles of France, will not lead your troops, I will!” Her example
was contagious, for within a week scores of loyal, devoted women
assumed mail and stood for the weal or woe of France. These heroic
doings were noised abroad, and possibly they had effect in a very
unexpected quarter, for in 1429 another heroine appeared in armour from
the eastern frontier of France, and made good woman’s claim to military
prowess. Thus quaintly wrote Monstrelet of her:

“In the course of this year (1429) a young girl called Jehanne, about
twenty years of age, and dressed like a man, came to Charles, King
of France, at Chinon. She was born in the village of Droimy, on the
borders of Burgundy and Lorraine, not far from Vaucouleurs. She had
been for some time an ostler and chambermaid at an inn, and had shown
much courage in riding horses to water and in other feats unusual for
young women to do. She called herself a ‘Maiden inspired by the Divine
Grace,’ and said that she was sent to restore Charles to his kingdom.”

Very little has been recorded of what Queen Marie felt and said
concerning that strange visitor. Nobody in all that recklessly gay
Court at Chinon viewed the coming of the maid of Domremy more eagerly
or more hopefully than did she. She had failed to rouse the King to
strike a new blow for his throne, it is true, but she anxiously prayed
that this heaven-sent village girl might be the means of doing so.
The Queen gave La Pucelle a most sympathetic welcome. The mysteries
of devotion and the dictates of religion had in her a very reverent
disciple. Apartments were prepared for Jeanne’s reception quite near
her own boudoir and private oratory, and its priest was placed at her
disposal.

If Jeanne was dumbfounded at the spectacle of a King wholly apathetic
to the duties of his high station, and of a Court abandoned, in the
midst of dire disaster, to all the frivolities of the idle and the
dissolute, she had at least one solace. The beautiful and serious face
of the young Queen was to her a comfort and a stay. Looking from one
bedizened beauty to another in that fatuous assembly, her eyes fastened
themselves upon the one figure that was dissimilar to the rest,--the
figure of a good woman, the daughter of the good Queen Yolande. She
looked to her like what she conceived of her own saintly Margaret, of
the Bois de Chènus. Marie received her unsophisticated visitor with
emotion. She entered fully into her story, and conversed daily with
her in private about herself, her home, her mission, and her “voices,”
and thus she gained the girl’s confidence and her love. If Jeanne had
conceived profound veneration for Queen Yolande,--she even called her
“my St. Catherine,”--her sentiments towards Queen Marie were those of
the most tender affection. Marie, so near her own age, so modest, so
simple, and so true, became Jeanne’s confidant and loving patroness.
To Marie the mere sight of the girl and her frank, girlish ways was
quite sufficient, had she sought for proof positive, to dispel from her
mind any suspicions which may have been forced upon her about Jeanne’s
relations with her dear brother, René de Bar. Of course, she knew him
far too well to credit any tales of faithlessness or dishonour on his
part. He and she had been, till he was carried off to Bar-le-Duc by
the good Cardinal Louis de Bar, the very dearest and most intimate of
playmates in and out of school. Their intercourse had never ceased;
such never fails between kindred souls, though parted by hemispheres.
René was a just man still, and a true knight. Jeanne likened him to her
own St. Michael.

All through Jeanne’s ordeals,--first the open scoffs of the courtiers
and servitors at Chinon, then the covert jeers of the divines and
busybodies at Poitiers, and lastly the base insinuations of libertines
and adventurers,--the Queen stood by La Pucelle. Queen Yolande’s panel
of matrons found Marie’s tribute of the utmost value; she staked her
royal prerogative upon the girl’s absolute chastity, and the prying,
posturing Court bowed to her decision.

If Queen Yolande clothed the maid in shining armour within the great
Hall of Audience of Angers Castle, on the eve of the advance upon
Orléans, Queen Marie knelt with her in prayer in the solemn choir of
Angers Cathedral from Vespers to Compline. How much of her strength
of will and the promptness of her action Jeanne d’Arc gained from the
whole-hearted favour of these two good Queens the world may never know,
but this much we all can apprehend: that unselfish human sympathy is a
more mobile force than the uncertainties of Providence.

We can never know why Queen Marie was denied the satisfaction of
witnessing and sharing in the coronation of Charles at Reims. She was
living quietly at Bourges when the King set off for the metropolitical
cathedral under the conduct of La Pucelle and of her brother René. She
was prepared for the expedition, and her robes of state were ready for
the ceremony, when suddenly Charles commanded her to remain where she
was, saying that the march was full of dangers and quite impossible
for the Queen and her ladies. La Pucelle begged the King to recall
his prohibitions, saying that Queen Marie was quite as worthy as was
he to receive a crown. The poor Queen put by her finery,--perhaps not
altogether sorrowfully,--and went to reflect awhile at Gien upon the
untowardness of human affairs in general and the inconsequences of
Charles in particular. Her parting with Jeanne was affecting; Queen and
peasant embraced each other affectionately--and never more they met.


II.

After the disastrous battle of Bulgneville, Duchess Isabelle of
Lorraine set off to Vienne in Dauphiné, a province which ever remained
faithful to the royal house of France, where the Court of Charles
VII. was established, to claim his aid for her captive husband
languishing at Bracon. In her train went her fairest Maid of Honour,
Agnes Sorel, just twenty years of age; she was Mistress of the Robes
to the Duchess. She made an immediate impression upon the jejune King,
who urged Isabelle to allow her to be transferred to the suite of
his consort--perhaps by way of _quid pro quo_. Queen Marie added her
entreaties to the monarch’s suit. She had failed completely to rouse
her husband; perhaps she thought Agnes would be more successful. The
Duchess would not hear of the arrangement, and the beauteous Maid of
Honour was anything but eager to be the creature of so unattractive a
master.

Happier days, however, dawned both for King René and for King Charles,
and jousts, pageants, and mystery-plays, were in full fling everywhere.
At Angers, in particular, everything was gay and merry for the welcome
of King René to his ancestral home,--after his duress at Tour de
Bar,--and of Queen Isabelle. Agnes Sorel was still attached to her
royal mistress, and, although unmarried, she numbered her lovers by the
score.

Agnes Sorel, or Soreau, was born at Fromenteau, on the verge of the
forest of Fontainebleau, on May 17, 1409. Her father was the Sieur
Jehan Soreau, and her mother Catherine de Maignelais, who were quiet
country people and occupied in agricultural pursuits. She had a younger
sister, Jehanne, to whom she was devoted, and mothered her when Dame
Catherine died. Her uncle, Raoul de Maignelais, followed the profession
of arms, and made himself a name as a dauntless warrior in the service
of King Charles VI. He had an only daughter, Antoinette, born 1420,
who, her mother dying when she was very young, was confided to the
care of her aunt, Catherine Soreau, and was brought up by her with
her own little daughters. Nothing is positively known about Agnes’s
girlhood, but in 1423 the two cousins entered the service of Isabelle,
the Duchess of Bar-Lorraine. Bar-le-Duc, ever since the advent of the
famous Countess Iolande, had been remarkable for the number of lovely
damsels and comely youths from all parts of France attached to the
“Court of Love,” under the patronage and maintenance of the Dukes and
Duchesses. The young Duchess appears to have taken a particular fancy
to fair Agnes, due no doubt to the girl’s physical beauty and mental
brilliance. Few maidens at that merry Court excelled her in good looks,
grace of figure, and distinction of deportment. Bourdigne, the Court
chronicler, says “she was the most lovely girl in France.” She sang
divinely,--a natural gift,--and danced bewitchingly, and gave promise
of a splendid career. She was welcomed at Chinon with delight both by
the King and Queen.

Perhaps one reason why Agnes’s presence was so grateful to the
taciturn and indolent monarch was that she dressed so superbly, and
yet so tastefully. The Queen and her ladies were subject to strict
Court sartorial conventions, but the Demoiselle de Fromenteau knew
no such restrictions. One day “_la Belle des Belles_,” as everybody
called her, appeared as “Cleopatra,” another as “Diana,” and a third
as “Venus,” and so on. Her costumes were of the richest and the
thinnest. Her abundant beautiful brown hair, too, she dressed not only
for the _hennin à la mode_,--bunched over the ears or gathered into
a chignon,--but _à la calotte galonnée_: frizzed out, or _en simple
résille_--in a net, or _à tours_, thrown round and round her head in
massive coils. Agnes was short of stature, but she made up for this
by wearing Venetian _zilve_, or high pattens, beautifully embroidered
with silk and pearls. Her _decollétage_ was never vulgar or immodest,
like that of the King’s mother, but her well-formed bust was covered
lightly by white lace or thinnest gauze. A string of pearls usually
embraced her well-shaped throat. One article of clothing was peculiarly
her own invention. Whilst the ladies of the Court, and even Queen Marie
herself, wore serge chemises, hers were of fine Flemish linen. Very
many of her tasteful fancies were taken up by the ladies about her, and
Queen Marie herself followed suit by discarding the daily use of the
_hennin_ and the stiff and heavy fur borders of her kirtle. She, too,
had hair as fair as that of Agnes, and she was privately quite as proud
of it as was her _Dame d’Honneur_, for so “_la Belle des Belles_” had
become.

[Illustration: KING RENÉ AND HIS COURT

From a Miniature by King René in his “Breviary.” Musée de l’Arsenal.
Paris

_To face page 194_]

A pretty story is told of “_la Belle des Belles_” with respect to the
melancholy moods of King Charles. One day Charles was more than usually
depressed, and, try how she would, Queen Marie could not cheer him; so
she sent for Agnes, who at once ran to her mistress, and, then entering
the King’s presence, knelt at his feet and fondled his knees. “Sire,”
she said, “when I was a very little girl a soothsayer told my mother
that I should be the plaything of a King who would be the most valiant
in Europe. I thought that your Majesty was such an one, but I find
that I am mistaken. Perhaps I ought to have sought the Court of Henry
rather than that of Charles!” The King frowned, but the bantering words
had struck home, and he raised himself and Agnes, and, kissing her
affectionately, replied: “No, my sweet, you have no need to seek Henry.
I am your valiant King!”

Agnes held Charles under a spell. She was his “Queen of Hearts”; he
denied her nothing, her will was his. Her influence was complete, and
if the poor neglected Queen had thrown upon her frail shoulders the
heavy weight of sovereignty, it was fond Agnes’s fair hair that wore
the light crown of gaiety. Her tact and unselfishness were remarkable;
every domestic squabble and every State imbroglio were quietly and
swiftly settled when she joined the fray. Charles could not do enough
for his sweetheart. Besides costly presents of jewellery and clothes,
he bestowed upon her the county of Penthièvre, the lordships of
Roquecesière, Issoudon, and Vernon, with the Castle of Breauté and its
great woods of pine-trees.

Agnes had by Charles four daughters; the youngest died in infancy,
but the rest grew up, like their mother, famed for good looks
and attractive manners, and were legitimatized and married well.
Catherine de France, the eldest, wedded, in 1464, Jacques de Brézé,
Comte de Maulevrier, and became the accomplished châtelaine of his
splendid castle near Saumur. Alas for the joys of married life! the
Count, himself unfaithful and intolerant, grew suspicious of his
wife’s conduct,--she had attracted the attention of King René, among
others,--accused her of adultery, and stabbed her as she was sallying
forth one dark November day, 1477, bent upon an errand of charity.
Their son, Louis de Brézé became the husband of the celebrated Diane de
Poitiers, in 1515, before her liaison with King Henry II. Marguerite
de France married, in 1458, Seigneur Olivier de Coëtivi, and died in
1473; and Jeanne de France became the wife of Antoine de Benil, Comte
de Sancerre, and received from the King, her father, a _dot_ of 40,000
_écus d’or_.

These three daughters were born and educated as Princesses of the
Royal House, in conformity with the existent code of morals. Queen
Marie not only made no demur at their status, but, acting upon the
advice of good Queen Yolande, her mother, treated them in every respect
as she did her own offspring. When Agnes’s second daughter was married,
the Queen stood by her and gave her rich wedding presents. Certainly
she was not subjected to the indignity of sharing hearth and home with
her husband’s mistress. Dame Agnes Sorel resided at her own Castle de
Breauté-sur-Marne, and there she bore him her family. The castle was a
bijou residence,--a great favourite of Charles,--and Agnes made it a
habitation of beauty, adorned not alone by her own gracious presence,
but by the attendance of a brilliant Court, quite outrivalling that of
the modest Queen, and filled her rooms and galleries with the countless
beautiful and costly gifts of her former devoted mistress, Duchess
Isabelle.

Agnes’s ascendancy over Charles VII. was purely erotic. She exercised
no influence whatever upon the affairs of state, or, indeed, upon
anything but what ministered to his personal pleasure and amusement.
However, she was useful, and indeed invaluable, on more than one
occasion of danger and suspicion. Unreservedly devoted to her paramour,
she was sensitive of any dereliction of duty and of any appearance of
intrigue. To her was solely due the detection of the conspiracy of
1449, which, fomented by the Dauphin, threatened the life of the King.

Marie inspired the fervent love of her son, Louis the Dauphin, as
she did, in truth, the devotion of all her children. When a stripling
of fourteen, he championed his mother against his father’s mistress;
and when Agnes made a disparaging remark affecting the Queen, the lad
immediately boxed her ears, and warned her never to repeat the offence
in his hearing! From that day Louis hated “_la Belle des Belles_,”
and never tired of checking her assumptions. He even dared to protest
personally before his father against the King’s neglect of the Queen
and his partiality for her Lady of Honour. Charles on one occasion
took his son’s strictures seriously to heart, sent for Marie, bewailed
his infidelity, and craved her pardon. But the wanton monarch’s day of
righteousness was short, for he very soon forgot his son’s vehemence,
and went on fondling his favourite.

“_La Belle des Belles_” died in childbed on February 18, 1450. Her
end was quite unexpected, for she had gone on a visit of pleasure to
her cousin, Antoinette de Maignelais, the Baroness of Villerequier, at
the Castle of Mesnil la Belle, near the far-famed Abbey of Jumièges
in Normandy. Her husband, André de Villerequier, was Chamberlain to
Charles VII., who presented her at her bridal, as a wedding gift, the
three islands, Oléron, Marennes, and Auvert, at the mouth of the River
Charente. Floral games and spectacles were engaging the attention of
the merry party assembled at the castle, and Agnes Sorel was the gayest
of the gay, but unfortunately, tripping upon the sash of her gown, she
fell heavily to the ground. She was carried tenderly to her chamber,
and at once her life was despaired of. She had barely time to make her
confession, and then, calling to mind the example of St. Mary Magdalen,
she called aloud to Heaven for pardon of her sins and for the prayers
of those standing by. She heard Mass and received the Last Sacraments,
and painfully passed away in her cousin’s arms. The distracted Baroness
laid the dead head of the lovely Agnes gently upon the pillow, closed
the eyes which had spell-bound King Charles and many more besides, and,
weeping bitterly, exclaimed: “The good God has taken away my Agnes
because He feared she would never lose her beauty.”

King Charles was not with his sweetheart in her death, but he grieved
and rocked himself in woe. “Because she was what she was,” he sobbed,
“for that I mourn.” He hastened to Jumièges, and with every mark of
sincere affection he assisted in placing his Agnes in her coffin. Her
heart he had enclosed in a costly gold vase, which he carried about
with him wherever he went, and when he died it was deposited by his
command beneath a black marble slab in front of the high-altar of
Jumièges, with the simple epitaph: “Agnes Seurelle--Dame de Breauté.”
Fair Agnes’s body, still comely in death, was ultimately translated
by Charles to Loches, and interred in the basement of the King’s
Apartments. Her tomb, surmounted by a statue, was erected by her royal
lover. Upon a block marble bed reclines a white marble effigy of “_la
Belle des Belles_,” evidently sculptured after life. The fascinating
features with her sweet smile are beautifully chiselled, and the
graceful figure lightly covered by a long chemise admirably exhibits
her exquisitely-proportioned form.

Agnes, in a will she made a year before her death, directed that her
body should rest at Jumièges, and she bequeathed 1,000 _écus d’or_ (=
£500) to the monastery for Masses for the rest of her soul. She had
for years been a munificent benefactress to the clergy of the abbey.
When Charles had joined his sweetheart in the Paradise of Love, the
ungrateful monks were desirous of removing Agnes’s heart and its
memorial tablet, on the score that she had led an immoral life; but
Louis XI., in spite of his fierce hatred of his father’s mistress,
reproved the religious, and warned them that, if they determined to
cast out her remains, they must also divest themselves of the gifts and
legacies of their patroness. “If you,” the new King said, “disturb her
ashes, I shall expect you to hand over to me the gold _écus_.” Needless
perhaps to say, the worldly-wise Canons kept the money and the heart.

The death of Agnes Sorel had a terrible effect upon the subsequent life
of Charles the King. She and Queen Marie between them had managed to
keep him free from amorous imbroglios, but now, with only his wife’s
protestations to guard him, he gave way to immoderate indulgences, and
he, to quote the French,--“_enlardit sa vie de tenir males femmes en
son hostel!_”


III.

“Everything must be sacrificed for the glory of France!” was no empty,
echoing cry in a desert; it was the pleading and persistent cry of a
devoted wife and a patriotic Queen. Into the ears of the King of France
and into the ears of everybody who was even in the smallest degree
likely to be able to do anything at all for her beloved country, the
admirable Queen Marie poured her complaint. She stood for the expulsion
of the English invaders of her native soil, and for the composure of
the feuds and jealousies of the French Sovereigns and nobles. “God
and reason,” she went on to exclaim, “are on my side; rouse you like
men and fight!” Surely he is a coward or a simpleton in whose heart a
woman’s voice and a woman’s taunts fail to enkindle enthusiasm. All
France flocked to do homage to the “little Queen of Bourges,” to kiss
her hand, and to lay their swords at the feet of the King. From Loches
to Chinon and Tours, right down the river valley of the Rhone, and
throughout Dauphiné, that voice went echoing. The new campaign was
hers, hers the credit, hers the glory, for great deeds were done that
shamed men’s apathy.

Alas! her enthusiasm found faint response in Charles. A skit of the
time denounced him thus: “_Nouvelle du Roy nullement; ne que se il fust
à Romme oue Jherusalemme!_”--“The King is of no use whatever; he might
as well be at Rome or at Jerusalem!” Still, the Queen did not fail for
loyal soldiers nor for consummate captains; first and foremost was her
beloved brother René, now King of Sicily-Anjou.

But now enemies more terrible than the hated English, more insidious
than the squabbling Princes, stalked the broad plains of suffering
France--the three fell sisters, famine, flood, and fever. The price of
foodstuffs rose portentously; wheat, butter, oil, and cheese, were a
hundred times dearer than their usual cost. Men grovelled like pigs for
offal, and women and children laid themselves down to die just where
they were. Queen Marie’s tender heart grieved sorely for her people’s
misery. She sold what jewellery she had left, and pawned her available
property to minister to the prevailing want. And then a new terror
seized the land--the rivers were in flood, and what stocks and crops
the famine had left were washed away, and beggary stared the nation
in the face. The Queen instituted pilgrimages of women to celebrated
shrines, and she herself put on the deepest mourning and spent her
time in prayer. All seemed to be of no avail to stay the afflicting
hand of Heaven, for no sooner were the waters abated than the scourge
of fever was let loose on the devoted land of France, and corpses were
flung out of echoing doorways and left for chance burial, or to be the
prey of scavaging dogs. Had the Day of Judgment dawned? men asked each
other, whilst they promptly covered their mouths against the infection.
Delirium would have seized all the remnants of the population had not
the intrepid Queen ridden up and down, risking her own precious life
and appealing to one and all to be courageous, bear all, and hope for
better days.

Marie had happy days and proud to cancel days of gloom and penury.
Toulouse was _en fête_; it was the month of May, 1435, best loved
of all the children of Mary; and she made a stately entry into that
ancient, loyal city with the King by her side. Oddly enough, she was
mounted on pillion behind her young son, the Dauphin Louis, then a
lad of twelve. Her vesture was superb--a blue brocaded satin robe,
bordered heavily with royal ermine. She was _décolletée_, her bosom
covered with jewels and chains of gold. Upon her head, rising out of
a regal diadem of flashing gems, she wore a _chaperon_, a hood of
fine white cambric shaped like a crescent, raised at the points, and
lightly covered with a thin white gauze veil. Her hair was bunched
over her ears, and carried in a golden jewelled net. Her feet were
shod in white, gold-embroidered kid, and she wore, after her mother’s
fashion, jewelled white kid gloves. Four Chamberlains, also mounted,
held a state canopy of cloth of gold and white plumes over their royal
mistress and her white charger.

A bright day dawned for Queen Marie. It was the Festival of the
Forerunner, June 24, 1436, and the ancient and loyal city of Tours
was decked for the royal nuptials of the Dauphin. The King and Queen
of France with the good Queen Yolande and their suite awaited at the
Château du Plessis-lès-Tours the arrival of the young bridal couple.
Louis had gone to meet his bride at Saumur; he was but a boy of
thirteen, small, ill-looking, and not too clever. Princess Margaret,
daughter of James I. of Scotland, with a following of Scottish nobles
and Maids of Honour, a tall, sprightly girl of twelve, vastly enjoyed
her voyage, and clapped her hands delightedly at the flowers and fruits
of Anjou. She embraced her little husband-to-be, and took him by the
hand as they stepped on board the state barge in waiting at the river
quay.

Among the bevy of fair maidens who welcomed the royal bride was
Jehanne de Laval, who was attached to the suite of the Dauphiness.
The grand hall of the castle and state-rooms were hung with tapestry
and lengths of cloth of gold. There the Sovereigns were seated on a
canopied daïs, wearing their crowns and robes of state. The little
Princess entered the Presence somewhat nervously, still holding the
hand of the young Dauphin, and chaperoned by her Scottish Mistress
of the Robes. Making a graceful obeisance, Margaret advanced with
childlike confidence, and Queen Marie, rising, went to greet her young
daughter-in-law; she embraced her tenderly, and introduced her to the
King and to Queen Yolande. The courtiers pressed forward to kiss the
Princess’s hand, and many costly gifts were laid at her feet. Wearied
at length with the ceremonies, Queen Marie conducted her interesting
visitor to her own apartments, where dinner was served.

The bells of all the churches in Tours set up merry janglings at dawn
next day, and the cathedral was crowded by a goodly company of wedding
guests. The King and the two Queens were seated on their thrones.
Charles wore a black velvet doublet and hose, his _berretta_ was of
red, and he bore round his neck a decoration sent from the King of
Scotland. The Queen was arrayed in crimson velvet and ermine. She wore
an abbreviated _hennin_ with a fine lace fall; her hair was embroidered
with gold. The young Prince was in blue and silver, his bride in
bridal white. Everybody bore wedding favours--Scottish heather and
French lilies entwined with white satin ribbons. The Archbishop of
Reims performed the ceremony, accompanied by a number of Bishops and
dignified clergy.

Margaret at once became a great favourite with the King and Queen.
Her Northern vigour and sweet manners were good credentials; but,
unhappily, the young bridegroom from the first took a dislike to his
consort. She was never happy when he was present, and her furtive eyes
searched in vain for tokens of affection and _camaraderie_. “There was
no one,” wrote Philippe de Commines a few years later, “in all the
world whom she dreaded more than the Dauphin.” Her life was indeed a
sad one; neglected by her husband, misunderstood and disesteemed at
Court, the poor young Dauphiness passed her time mostly with Queen
Marie and in futile regrets for her dear, dear home in Scotland.

[Illustration: QUEENS AND JUDGES INSPECT KNIGHTS BEFORE THE “LISTS,”
SAUMUR TOURNAMENT, 1446

Painted by King René. From “Le Livre des Tournois”

_To face page 204_]

Her death came about most unexpectedly, for she was discovered
poisoned,--rumour had it by her spouse,--in her boudoir at
Sarry-le-Château, on August 16, 1444, an ill-used wife of no more than
twenty years of age. Princess Margaret’s fate was as sad as sad could
be--too young to die. Her last words,--the most pathetic ever uttered
by an unhappy woman,--were addressed to her faithful chaperon: “A curse
on life! don’t speak to me about it!” No child, perhaps happily, was
born of that ill-starred marriage.

No one wept more bitterly at this mischance than tender-hearted Queen
Marie. She loved her son to distraction, and he loved her as greatly
in return; and she had learned to love Margaret too, but nothing that
she could say moved Louis to love, honour, and comfort, his young wife.
Calm, crafty, and selfish, like his father, and vindictive, Louis’s
character may be succinctly stated as he himself wrote it: “The King
knows not how to rule who knows not how to dissemble.… If my cap should
know my thoughts, I would burn it!”

Queen Marie’s other son, Charles, Duc de Berry, the last of all her
surviving children, born December 28, 1446, was a Prince of no strength
of character. Easily led by others, he became involved in endless
imbroglios, and aided and abetted his elder brother the Dauphin, in
his unfilial conduct towards their father. Created Duke of Guienne and
Duke of Normandy in 1469,--after the expulsion of the English,--he
was a source of constant anxiety and trouble to his mother. The Queen
of Sicily-Anjou, Isabelle de Lorraine, his godmother, with King
René, took the young Prince in hand, but he did not well repay their
solicitude. Immoral, dissipated, and in debt, Charles de Berry spent
his time in debauches and intrigues; he was own grandson of Isabeau the
Infamous. Among his many mistresses, Derouillée de Montereau, widow
of Louis d’Amboise, exercised the greatest influence. She, too, was
the cause of his death, for at lunch one day she placed a peach in his
wineglass, and she challenged Charles to bite the fruit with her. Her
half she swallowed, and she fell dead in a few minutes, whilst her
royal paramour lingered in acute suffering for three whole days, and at
last succumbed to the poison on May 28, 1472. Whether she caused the
fruit to be poisoned we know not; most likely she knew all about it,
and only followed in the steps of those whose immorality turns love to
hate and sanctity to madness. This was a characteristic of society in
the Renaissance, the cloven hoof of the old Adam showing beneath the
sumptuous garments of the new man.

As might very well have been expected at a Court of self-seekers
and sycophants, the integrity and unselfishness of the Queen were
goads to slander and aids to hypocrisy. She was assailed on account
of her absolute faithfulness to the marriage bond and for her want of
personal ambition. Roués could not understand her; mondaines would
not tolerate her; the King’s favourites and mistresses,--not Agnes
Sorel, be it said,--strove all they could to poison his mind against
his consort. The names of many prominent Princes and courtiers were
linked scandalously with the Queen’s. Arthur de Richemont, son of
Duke Jehan VI. of Brittany, the Constable of France; Pierre de Giac
de la Trémouille, Captain of the King’s Guards; Étienne Louvet,
President of the Privy Council; and the Count of Dunois, better known
as the “Bastard of Orléans,” were all said to have shared the Queen’s
confidences and her favours. The latter was thrown, indeed, very much
with Her Majesty, and ranked among the Princes of the Royal House. Son
of the assassinated Duke of Orléans by an unknown mother, the Duchess
brought him up along with her own children, and she hoped he would live
to avenge his father’s death. The “Bastard” was the playmate of the
children of King Louis II. of Sicily-Anjou and Queen Yolande, and he
and the Princess Marie were much drawn to one another.

The two young people were one day in the gardens of the Hôtel de
St. Pol along with the Comte de Ponthieu,--Charles VII.,--and the
Princes and Princesses of Sicily-Anjou, when the Count, wearied of his
forced attentions to the Princess Marie, sauntered away by himself.
Xaintrailles followed him and remonstrated with him for his coolness
to his fiancée. Charles replied that they were not fully betrothed,
and that he did not admire and did not love Marie. Xaintrailles told
Dunois what the Count had said, and Dunois, with a scornful laugh,
exclaimed: “One must be dull and blind indeed not to be smitten by her
eyes--the most beautiful eyes in the whole world, and quite incapable
of seeing the faults of others.” Dunois was very much in love with the
Princess, and did not conceal his passion, so much so that when he
kissed her hand, as he often did, he also lifted the hem of her skirt
and implanted a kiss there, as a lover’s token of humility.

Dunois contrived _têtes-à-tête_ as often as he could with his
sweetheart, as he called Marie d’Anjou. One day, it is said, Charles
passed down a sheltered path in the gardens, and his companion pointed
out to him a couple love-making in a secluded arbour. They chided him
with the feebleness of his suit, and told him it would serve him right
if Marie married Dunois. He said he did not care a bit if she did or
if she did not. They were all mere children--the Count sixteen, Marie
fifteen, and Dunois of a like age. The intimacy between the Princess
and her lover became embarrassing to the whole Court, but time went on,
and developments were awaited by the curious and intriguing. A summer’s
day came when some ladies of the Court went wandering about searching
for shady shelters. Right away from the palace, near a springing
fountain, they came upon a crossing in the path, and there in the sandy
dust they read, written by a stick or something:

      “Destin qui va m’unir d’une éternelle chaîne
        A l’object de ma haîne--
      Cruel destin, arrache de mon cœur
        Une trop vive ardeur.”

      “Fate which would rivet me with a perpetual chain
        To the object of my deep disdain--
      O, cruel fate! which would snatch from my poor worn heart
        A passion full of ardour on my part.”

Puzzling over the meaning of this strange verse, the ladies beheld
the Princess hastening to where they stood. With heightened colour
she asked them: “What are you doing here? Why are you not with the
Queen of Sicily?” Then effacing the writing with her foot, she added:
“I cannot think why I did not efface those words; I have committed an
indiscretion. But take note I did not name the unhappy person who wrote
them.” The romance went on unchecked. Dunois, still under age, very
adroitly contrived to remove the suspicions his conduct had aroused in
the mind of Queen Yolande, and Marie took dutifully and silently the
maternal reproofs. Then came the death of Charles VI., and Princess
Marie was proclaimed Queen of France. With more than a sigh,--almost a
broken heart,--she set herself to play her part as a virtuous woman and
as a loyal spouse. Dunois did not renounce his devotion to the Queen,
and she never forgot the love she had borne him--a Prince the very
antithesis of her husband, remarkable for personal beauty and mental
accomplishment, just the sort of man all women love. Daily she poured
out her soul before the altar of her private chapel for strength to be
true and faithful, and victory was hers; but it cost her dear.

      “Car en vertueuse souffrance,
      Au temps du commun desarroy,
      Elle a monstre plus de vaillance
      Que sage prince ou fier roy.”

      “In point of virtuous suffering,
      At times of deep alarms,
      She exhibited more daring
      Than wise prince or king in arms.”

This fascinating story of the loves of Count Dunois d’Orléans and
Princess Marie d’Anjou was worked up by fanatics into a culpable
liaison of the Queen. It grew in vile misrepresentation, and swelled
in garbled facts until it became abhorrent in the ears of all
decent-minded people. Some of Charles’s legitimate children were said
to have been fathered by the Count. The Queen very wisely refrained
from making replies to the evil stories, the only sensible way of
dealing with them. “Exempt,” as wrote Varillas, “not only from the
faults of the Court, but still more from suspicion that she had any
part therein, she had all the same to suffer from the poison of
calumny.” On the other hand, Marie suffered in patience the disdain and
unfaithfulness of the King, and returned his evil with her good. Her
entire life was a scene of sacrifice and an arena of benevolence.

Marie, in her quiet, unobtrusive way, did very much for the correction
of morals in Court and country. Due to her representation, Charles at
Toul abolished the obscene _Fête des Fous_, which was observed through
his dominions. It was a scandalous exhibition, an indecent orgy,
shared in alike by laity and clergy. The latter chose a local Pope or
Bishop, to whom for the time the actual Bishop of the diocese rendered
up the attributes of his office. The mock prelate was enthroned in
the cathedral, and then a wild scene of profanity was witnessed. Men
and women dressed as buffoons, many exposing their nakedness without
shame, joined in licentious dances and blasphemous songs, and gorged
themselves with roast pork and other coarse viands and intoxicating
beverages served upon the altars. In the holy censers were burnt common
corks and bits of leather; the holy-water stoups were used for nameless
indecencies; and promiscuous prostitution made each sacred edifice a
brothel and a Gehenna.

Early in the year 1457 Ambassadors from Duke Ladislaus of Austria
came to France to ask from Charles VII. the hand of his youngest
daughter, Madeleine, a girl of fourteen, and dowered with beauty if
not with wealth. Passing through Lorraine and Bar, King René greeted
them, entertained them handsomely, and accompanied them to Tours.
The King and Queen of France were at the castle with their three
daughters,--Jeanne; Yolande, the wife of Amadeo IX., Duke of Savoy;
and Madeleine,--and a numerous and distinguished suite. In the Grand
Salle twelve long tables were placed, each seating seven guests. At
the first were the two Kings and the Queens with the three Princesses
and the Duke of Savoy. The Masters of Ceremonies were the Counts
Gaston de Foix, Dunois, and de la Marche, with the Grand Seneschal of
France. It was a typical entertainment--lavish, long, and laborious.
The first course consisted of white hypocras and “_rosties_”--_hors
d’œuvres_(?)--served in crystal vessels. The second course offered
_grands pâtes de chapons à haute grasse_, with boars’ tongues, and
accompanied by seven kinds of soup--all served on plates of silver. The
third course presented all kinds of game-birds with venison and boars’
heads served on silver dishes. The fourth course was _des petites
oyseaux_ on toast and spit, with prunes and salads, set forth on dishes
of silver gilt. The fifth course consisted of tarts, orange trifles,
candied lemons, and many sorts of sweetmeats, beautifully arranged on
plates and stands of coloured jewelled glass. The sixth and last course
was hypocras again, but red, served with _oublies_--perhaps macaroons
and wafers.

The wines which accompanied this regal menu, unhappily, are not
mentioned by the chronicler, but the name of Tours in connection with
delicacies of the palate has always been a _cachet_ of excellence; its
cuisine and its cellars are still unsurpassed in France. The banquet
was accompanied by minstrelsy and masque. King René himself arranged
the musical programme; indeed, he brought with him some of his famous
troubadours. After dinner the august company disposed themselves, some
to the merry dance, some to the quiet _têtes-à-tête_, and some to
cards--then so fashionable and so much beloved by the King and Queen
of France. A very famous pack was used, the Queens of the suit being
Isabeau for “Hearts,” Marie for “Clubs,” Agnes Sorel for “Diamonds,”
and Jeanne d’Arc for “Spades,” Kinged respectively by Charles VI.,
Louis III., Charles VII., and René; and the Knaves, Xaintrailles, La
Hire, Dunois, and Barbazan--a quaint conceit!

Upon the death of Louis III., his sister, Queen Marie, came in for
a considerable fortune--renounced, be it said, by that most loving
of all brothers, René, in her behalf. It was said that the new Duke
assigned the whole of his revenues from Anjou to the use of his
sister. He settled certain estates upon her which she very quickly and
cleverly turned to good account. In person the Queen visited her new
properties, dressed plainly in black and without ceremony, inquired
into the condition of the labourers and the promise of the harvest, and
then, calling to her assistance the well-known financier of Bourges,
Jacques Cœur, opened out business relations with England. The vineyards
of Anjou--at least, those bordering the Loire--were among the most
fruitful in France. These the Ministers of the Queen exploited, and
opened out a very profitable export trade from the port of La Rochelle.
The sweet white vinous brandies of Annis became established favourites
of English palates. Anjou cheese, too, was excellent; it still is made
from milk of Anjou cows and goats. _Crême de Blois_ was famous long
before Roquefort, Cantal, or Brie, came into request, and with fresh
butter was exported largely to Southampton, much to the profit of Queen
Marie’s exchequer.

These homely touches introduce the student of “_La Vie Privée des
Français_” to a charming hobby of the good Queen Marie--her love of
animals and birds. In the _Comptes de Roy René_ is a letter to the
Agents of the Audit; it is dated July 16, 1458, and is as follows:

                       “By Command of the Queen.

    “WELL-BELOVED AND RIGHT TRUSTY,

    “We have noted that our brother the King of Sicily (René) has
    in his house at Rivetes, of which you, Guillaume Bernart,
    have the superintendence, some cocks and hens of good strain,
    and that they are very fine, as we have seen. If you are well
    disposed, then, the messenger can bring us a cock and a hen,
    with a broody hen and her chicks. You will see that they are
    in good condition. Do not be at all fearful of displeasing our
    royal brother, for we shall make him both pleased and happy.

    “Dearly beloved, may Our Lord protect you. Written at our
    Castle of Chinon, XVI. day of July, 1458.

                                                          “MARIE.”

King René had a farm at Rivetes, and from an inventory dated November
12, 1458, we learn that he had--“69 _chés d’animaille_ (heads of
stock), 1 _jument_ (mare), 1 _poulain_ (colt), 42 _chés de pourceaux_
(pigs), and much poultry.” Rivetes, with its forest of chestnuts, was
situated between the rivers Loire and Anthion, at no great distance
from Angers. René had also wild beasts and birds--a vast menagerie
at Rivetes and Reculée. His keeper of lions and leopards in 1476 was
Benoist Bagonet, and of his eagles and peacocks, Vissuel Gosmes. He had
also at Reculée a Court fool, Triboullet. They were all very pleasant
fellows, and helped to amuse the King and Queen and their guests.

King Charles VII. died at his favourite castle of Mehun-sur-Yèvre, July
22, 1461. He had suffered for a considerable time from an incurable
ulcer in his mouth, which denied him the pleasure and necessity of
eating. In his last illness Marie was at Chinon; he cried piteously for
her to come to him: “_Marie, ma Marie!_” She hastened to Mehun, and
was in time to hold his hand and moisten his heated brow, and quietly
he died in her arms--the arms of the truest of wives and noblest of
queens. Charles was buried in the royal vaults at St. Denis, and
Louis XI., his son, reigned in his stead. Devoted to his mother, her
widowhood was lightened by his affectionate regard. His father’s death
made no difference in her royal state; the King placed his mother
before his wife--Charlotte of Savoy.

Queen Marie bore her consort twelve children; six died in infancy.
Her two sons were Louis and Charles; her daughters, who survived,
Catherine, Jeanne, Yolande, and Madeleine. She survived Charles but two
short years. Enguerrand de Monstrelet speaks thus of her death, which
occurred near Poitiers, November 23, 1463: “There passed away from this
world Marie of Anjou and France.… She bore all through her life the
character of a good and devout woman, ever generous and patient.” Her
death was not unexpected, for through trouble, sorrow, and fasting, her
frame had become emaciated and her pulse beat slow; she died actually
from prostration. Her end was very peaceful in the silent cloisters of
the Abbey of Chastilliers in Poitou. She had but just returned from
a pilgrimage to the Gallician shrine of Santiago da Compostella. Her
body was embalmed and translated in solemn guise to St. Denis, and laid
beside that of her husband. Her devotion to him had not ceased at his
death, for she had endowed twelve altars in the chief cities of France
proper for the offering of Masses for the repose of his soul. Every
month she made the practice of visiting the royal tomb at St. Denis to
hear Mass and pray for him. At Bourges, of sad and chastened memory,
the widowed Queen founded in honour of her consort three considerable
benevolent institutions--a hospital for the sick poor, a refuge for
poor pilgrims, and an orphanage for illegitimate children.

Queen Marie’s transparent faithfulness and absolute unselfishness is
outlined in a famous saying of hers with respect to her relations with
King Charles: “He is my lord and master; he has entire power over all
my actions, and I have none over his.” Her whole-hearted devotion and
her heroic courage have raised Marie d’Anjou far above the ordinary
level of her sex, and have elevated her to the very highest throne
among the Queens of France.



CHAPTER VII

GIOVANNA II. DA NAPOLI--“SI COMME A REGINA GIOVANNA!”


I.

“Like Queen Giovanna” was, alas! a common saying in the Two Sicilies
what time Giovanna II. was Queen of Naples. A term of immeasurable
reprobation, it implied the stripping of the woman of every shred of
moral character, the baring of the Queen of every claim to honour. If
Isabeau of Bavaria was the worst Queen-consort, then Giovanna II. was
the worst Queen-regnant, perhaps, the world has ever seen. Her story
needs telling truthfully with care.

Giovanna II., Queen of Naples, was the only surviving daughter of
Charles III., “_Carlo della Pace_,” King of Naples and Count of
Provence. Her mother was Margaret, daughter of her great-uncle Charles,
Duke of Durazzo; hence her parents were cousins, and were both in the
direct line of succession from Charles I., Count of Anjou, the fourth
son of King Louis IX.,--St. Louis of France,--who had married Beatrix,
Countess of Provence in her own right. Giovanna had seven brothers and
sisters, all of whom died in infancy except Ladislaus, born in 1376;
she was his senior by five years, having first seen the light of day on
April 27, 1371.

[Illustration: GIOVANNA II. DA NAPOLI AS THE VIRGIN MARY

From a Painting by Antonio Solario (“Lo Zingaro”). (_Circa 1420._)

National Museum, Naples

_To face page 216_]

The Queen’s father’s predecessor as occupant of the throne of Naples
had been his second cousin, Giovanna I., the eldest surviving
grandchild of King Robert, “_Roberto il Buono e Saggio_.” She died
childless in 1382, although twice married, first to Andrew, King of
Hungary, and secondly to Lodovico, Prince of Taranto. By her will she
purposely passed over the Princes of the Durazzo family, and named as
her successor Louis II. d’Anjou, King of Sicily and Jerusalem and Count
of Provence. The Queen’s first marriage was celebrated September 24,
1333, when she was only seven years old, her boy-husband being fifteen.
The Pope created Prince Andrew King of Naples six years later, upon his
succession to the throne of Hungary. Without the slightest compunction,
Charles, son of Lodovico, Count of Gravina, seized his cousin’s empty
throne, and maintained himself thereupon for five years, his little
daughter Giovanna being just ten years of age. The death of Queen
Giovanna I. was due to the instigation of Charles. He entered Naples at
the head of a strong force of cavalry, seized the palace, and took the
Queen prisoner. She was conducted to the Castle of Muro, overlooking
the road from Naples to Melfi, and there, with her lover, Otto of
Brunswick, suffocated under a feather bed by two Hungarian soldiers.
This outrage was committed in revenge for the death of King Andrew,
which was ordered by Giovanna I., his consort.

Charles III., King of Naples, died in 1386, leaving to his son
Ladislaus the royal succession, with his widow, Queen Margaret, as
Regent. They with the Princess Giovanna, sixteen years of age, were
fugitives from castle to castle, pursued by the troops of Louis
d’Anjou. Nevertheless, Margaret was an astute mother, for when
Ladislaus was eighteen years old she espoused him to Constance,
daughter of the Count of Clermont in Sicily, a very wealthy heiress.
What matrimonial projects were hatched or addled on behalf of Princess
Giovanna during her father’s lifetime we know not, but almost the first
matter taken in hand by King Ladislaus was an advantageous marriage for
his sister. This was a very complicated business. First of all, neither
he nor she cared very much for matrimony; he was a libertine, and she
shared his freedom and his depravity. Next, each suitor for the hand
of Giovanna retired disgusted by the loose morals of the Neapolitan
Court and by the avarice of the King and his sister. However, at
length a match was arranged between the Princess and Prince William,
son of Leopold III., Duke of Austria. The actual nuptials, however,
were postponed for one reason or another until 1403, when Giovanna had
reached the considerable age of thirty-two. The princely couple went
off to Austria, where they remained more or less unhappy until 1406,
when the Prince died suddenly and suspiciously, many said by the hand
or direction of his ill-conditioned wife.

The widow returned at once to Naples to fill the place of honour
vacated by her brother’s wife, his second consort, Maria di Lusignan.
Queen Constance he had divorced in 1391, and married the daughter of
the King of Cyprus the same year. The ostensible reason for rejecting
Constance was the failure of her father to pay her dowry. She was a
lovely girl and virtuous,--a rare quality at that time,--and became
the idol of the Court. Queen Maria had scarcely been seated on the
throne, when she also fell from her high station. Ladislaus said she
was delicate and in consumption, and no wife for him. One day, when
she and the King were assisting at Mass in the cathedral, she heard
with the utmost astonishment and dismay the Archbishop read a Bull
of Pope Boniface IX. annulling her marriage with Ladislaus. At the
conclusion of the citation the prelate advanced to the Queen’s throne
and demanded her wedding-ring. Too stupefied to resist, the pledge of
her married state was torn from her finger, and she was carried away
to a remote convent under the care of two aged nuns. Three years after
this outrage the King relented of his cruelty, and married her to one
Andrea di Capua, one of his favourites. He took a third wife in 1406,
Marie d’Enghien, the widow of Raimondo d’Orsini, some six months after
the return of his sister from Austria. She is said to have survived
Ladislaus. Some letters of hers are preserved at Conversano, near Bari,
in the Benedictine convent.

The advance of Louis d’Anjou upon the capital roused Ladislaus to
action, and he hastily gathered together an undisciplined army, and
set forth to withstand his rival to the throne. A decisive battle was
fought at Rocca Secca, May 19, 1411, wherein Ladislaus’s troops were
routed, but Louis failed to follow up his advantage, and Ladislaus
retained his throne and continued his debauches.

Early in 1412 Queen Margaret, mother of the King and of Giovanna,
died somewhat suddenly. She and her entourage had taken refuge from
a visitation of plague, which spared neither prince nor peasant,
at her villa at Acquamela, six miles from Salerno. She was buried
privately in the Cathedral of Salerno, in the crypt over against the
marble sarcophagus which contained the ashes of St. Matthew. Whatever
influence she may have exerted during the youth of her son and daughter
for their good was speedily dissipated, and as soon as Ladislaus
had obtained the crown he took steps to circumscribe the liberty of
his mother. She appealed to her daughter Giovanna for sympathy, but
found none, and the poor old Queen, who had survived her consort,
Charles, for six-and-twenty years, was consigned to the Convent of the
Annunciation, “so as to be out of the way of mischief,” as her daughter
phrased it. The natural rôle of mother was entirely out of place in a
palace or at a Court ruled by a libertine and a prostitute.

Ladislaus died sadly and alone. His unnatural sister refused to be with
him, and all his butterfly courtesans gave to themselves wing when
sickness and death entered the royal palace. He died August 6, 1414,
leaving no lawful offspring by his three wives, but a numerous family
of natural children. No Salic Law governed the succession to the throne
in the kingdom of Naples, consequently Giovanna became Queen.

The widowed Queen Giovanna had not married again, although she counted
lovers by the score; but within a few months of her accession she took
steps to ally herself with a Prince who should be the handsomest and
wittiest of the time. This determination of Giovanna was noised abroad
all over the capitals and Courts of Europe, and forthwith a troop of
eligible suitors passed through the ports of Marseilles and Genoa, each
bent on taking the ribald Queen at her word. The romance reads like a
fairy tale, for each princeling and prince was put through his paces
to show his qualifications in person and in purse; for, desperately
wicked as she was, the Queen had a commercial sense, and her exchequer
stood sorely in need of replenishment. Taken for all in all, Juan
d’Arragona, son of King Ferdinand, was the champion of physical beauty,
knightly courtesy, and financial competence; but he was no more than
a precocious lad of seventeen, whilst the Queen was forty-five. A
matrimonial union was ruled to be impossible, and the pride of Aragon
would not suffer a scion of her royal house to become the plaything of
a lewd Queen.

Giovanna very unwillingly transferred her affections to an
older suitor,--the champion, if we may so write, of the heavy
weights,--Jacques de Bourbon, Comte de la Marche, of the Royal House of
France, and their nuptials were celebrated in the Cathedral of Naples
on August 10, 1415. He very soon discovered that, strong man as he was,
he had a wily woman to contend with. He began to assert his marital
rights, and required Giovanna to accord him equal honours with herself;
at the same time he utterly failed in the reformation of the conduct
of his wife. She served herself upon him as she willed, but she mostly
willed to serve him not at all, and to transfer her favours, as before
their marriage, indiscriminately to whilom paramours. Like a lion
wounded in his den, Roy Jacques,--for so he called himself,--struck out
at his supplanters, and, with his past-master knowledge of the rapier
and its uses, he pricked to death not one but many lovers of the Queen.
The Neapolitans were man for man with Giovanna, and indignant with her
consort. Strange to say, perhaps, for us who read the story of the
time, evil royal communications had wholly corrupted the morals and the
manners of all classes in the realm.

Incited by toadies and sycophants, Giovanna at last took the upper hand
against her spouse, and on September 13, 1416,--little more than a year
after their marriage,--she ordered his imprisonment in the Castella
dell’ Ovo, a fortress of such strength that Froissart said: “None but
the devil can take it!” Thence, however, he escaped, but with a price
upon his head,--fixed by his inconstant mistress,--and took up his
residence at Besançon, with the white cord of St. Francis d’Assisi
round his loins. There he died, having renounced the world, the flesh,
and the devil, a wiser and a disillusioned man, in 1436.

Giovanna, released from the bonds of matrimony, greatly to her relief,
gave herself unreservedly into the arms of every man dare-devil enough
to risk the consequences. Of these, perhaps the first whose name and
maldoings chroniclers have preserved was Pandolfo Alopo, a base-born
athlete, a very handsome fellow, and a seductive guitarist to boot.
He responded to his royal mistress’s amours, and she appointed him
Seneschal of the kingdom, with authority to use her signet-ring. Very
soon, mentally and morally undisciplined as he was, he exceeded the
length of Giovanna’s tether, by exciting her jealousy with respect to
her Maids of Honour. Short was his shrift. Seized, bound, and tortured
with nameless indignity and cruelty, his mutilated body was cast into
the sea off the fair island of Nisida, where the vicious vixen held
orgies equal in atrocity and bestiality to those of Tiberius in Capri.

Sforza da Colignola stepped gaily in the bloody footmarks of Alopo. He
was the chief of the Queen’s pages, and had been reared under her eye
and at her will; he had, moreover, a fell influence over his mistress,
as witness time out of mind, ever since his teens, of her enormities.
He, indeed, gained the upper hand of Giovanna, and, being an adept in
martial exercises, held his own against all comers. For a time he left
the intimate service of the Queen, and became a soldier of fortune,
winning laurels and prizes all along his way. Secretly he sympathized
with the claims of the House of Anjou, judging shrewdly enough that
under the white lilies of Louis he would have a better hold upon his
position at the Court of Naples than he would under the red bars of
Alfonso of Aragon.

Giovanna felt the thraldom of Sforza’s strength of character and his
knowledge of her past, and because no one seemed willing to take her
at her word, and rid her of his presence, she turned herself about and
fixed her confidence on Sergianni Caracciolo. Upon him she showered
riches and honours, but in return he made himself her master.

The Queen’s choice of favourites was not, however, confined to men
of merit or of high degree. Every good-looking youth or well-favoured
man upon whom her eyes chanced to rest was enrolled in her household.
She frequented athletic meetings incognita to view the personal
qualifications of vigorous youths, and spent her evenings in
surreptitious visits to her stables and her kennels. The men of her
choice were offered no alternative, but when the guilty intercourse was
consummated the lucky-luckless companion of her couch was expected to
commit suicide or for ever leave his home on pain of imprisonment and
torture if he tarried four-and-twenty hours.

Perhaps no figure of a man fascinated Queen Giovanna more completely
than did the handsome person of Bartolommeo Colleone of Bergamo. His
family had become impoverished by the bitter feuds of the Guelphs and
Ghibellines, so at eighteen the young lad bid his parents farewell
and started off to win his way in military adventures. He travelled
south to Naples, and at twenty was as lusty and as strong as any man
he met. Of a strict habit of body, he performed feats none others
dared. Giovanna sent for the good-looking stranger, and pitted him
against the ablest youths of Naples. In leaping, running, and casting
of heavy weights, no one could surpass him. Instantly the Queen fell
in love with him, and appointed him her esquire, with ready access to
her boudoir, where she denied him nothing. His final reward was the
cloister of St. Francis d’Assisi, which became his prison, and his
mouth was sealed. How he escaped torture no one has recorded.

It would be long, and certainly distasteful, to give a full list of all
those who shared the vampire caresses of the peccant Queen; but brief
is her story of how Giovanna destroyed the fair fame of her house and
the honour of her country. Of her it was written: “_Ultima Durazza fiet
destructio regnum_” (“The last Durazzo shall destroy the kingdom”).


II.

Whilst Giovanna was thus prostituting herself and her kingdom, and
Alfonso of Aragon was biding his time, a movement was on foot in Anjou
and Provence, under the strong hand of Queen Yolande, to win back the
rights her husband had abandoned to the succession of the Neapolitan
crown. Her eldest son,--a boy not yet out of school,--should place that
crown once more upon the head of an Angevine Sovereign or perish in the
attempt. Men and arms and allies were all requisitioned, and elaborate
preparations were made at Marseilles and Genoa for the embarkation of
the “army of Naples.”

The expedition of Louis III. to Naples was hurried forward in
consequence of the breach between Queen Giovanna and the nobles
of Naples. Her disregard of their allegiance, and her appointment
to all the more important posts under the Crown of men of obscure
origin who had commended themselves to her by their physical charms
and coarse obscenities, caused a disruption in the political economy
of the kingdom. The Queen was deaf to the expostulations of her
Barons, and ordered them severally to their estates, where, fuming
with indignation, they armed their retainers and stood ready for any
emergency. The arrogance of King Alfonso drove many would-be adherents
into the camp of his Angevine rival, and an influential deputation of
aggrieved dignitaries made its way to Marseilles to tender to Yolande,
the Queen of Sicily and the mother of Anjou, their homage, and to
assure her of their cordial support for the youthful King if only she
would permit him to show himself at the head of an overawing force
before the capital.

There is a romantic story concerning King Louis’s journey to Naples
told by Jehan Charantais, esquire to the King, in a letter to Queen
Yolande. The fleet of Genoese and Provençal galleons was driven by
adverse winds, it is related, and sought refuge under the high cliffs
of Sicily. Whilst weather-bound, the young Prince landed with a company
of knights in search of adventures. As they came ashore a number of
girls greeted them with showers of roses, and tossed them handfuls
of kisses. One, more daring than the rest, ran up to the youthful
Sovereign, wholly ignorant of his identity, and gave him a nosegay of
crimson blooms tied with a lovers’ knot of blue ribbon. Accepting the
good-omened offering, Louis loosened his surcoat to insert the fragrant
spray, when his kingly medallion fell out at the foot of the damsel.
She at once picked it up and ran away, laughing provokingly. The Prince
followed her, caught her, recovered his badge of sovereignty, and gave
his captive in exchange a sounding kiss. But Leonora,--such was her
name,--had discovered who he was.

That same day a missive was brought aboard the flagship by a Sicilian
fisherman. It was in Leonora’s handwriting, and bore her signature.
She told him she was about to be sent to Naples by her parents as a
Maid of Honour to the Queen. She had very much disliked the idea, and
had refused to go, because Giovanna was the daughter of a usurper, as
was reported, and because she bore so evil a character. “Now,” she
added, “that I have seen and spoken to _my_ King, and have received
his embraces, I am ready to go at all hazards and do my utmost in his
cause.”

Louis dillydallied with his Sicilian mermaid, and their loves continued
for wellnigh a fortnight before his fleet was ready to put to sea
again. Fair Leonora, too, took her departure, saying, as she bid
adieu to her lover: “We shall meet, dear Prince, again in the Queen’s
boudoir.”

[Illustration: KING RENÉ RECEIVING THE HOMAGE OF A VASSAL, 1469

From a Miniature, MS. Fifteenth Century. National Library, Paris

_To face page 226_]

Louis III., a well-grown lad of seventeen, and as manly as he was
fit mentally, arrived off the city of Naples on August 15, 1420, to
maintain his right to the throne more bravely and more successfully
than either his father or his grandfather had done. He had just
fallen in with the fleet of the King of Aragon, but in defeating his
hereditary enemy his own flotilla was so greatly worsted that he was
unable to take the city by storm. He landed, however, and betook
himself to Aversa to present his homage to Queen Giovanna. Shocked by
her lustful overtures, he departed precipitately to Rome, and there
bided his time. The Queen’s failure to seduce the young Sovereign
threw her once more into the arms of King Alfonso, whom she formally
proclaimed her heir on September 24 the same year. Three years passed
whilst the adherents of the House of Anjou suffered forfeiture of
goods, liberty of person, and many cruel punishments and tortures.

Alfonso, a natural son of King Ferdinand the Just, King of Aragon
and Sicily, was forty years of age, remarkably handsome, talented and
capable, ambitious, but generous and devoted to the fair sex. He was,
however, entirely unresponsive to the amorous approaches of the Queen.
His rejection, his scorn, and his independence of action, roused in
Giovanna keen feelings of resentment. She had named him heir to Naples;
she could just as easily disinherit and discard him. On June 24,
1423,--good St. John the Baptist’s Day, a festival of major obligation
in the Church,--the Queen caused proclamation to be made at Mass and
in the markets that, “owing to the incompetence and pretensions of
the King of Aragon, he is thereby disinherited, and is no longer to
be recognized as successor to the throne of Naples.” A plot, indeed,
or more correctly plots, were revealed to Giovanna whereby Alfonso
was implicated in a conspiracy to seize the Queen’s person, imprison
her, and ultimately to poison her. On May 22 of the same year he had
taken the bold step of arresting Gianni Caracciolo, the Queen’s chief
favourite. This roused Giovanna to action. She ordered Caracciolo’s
immediate release, and bade Alfonso quit Naples at once, or remain at
his peril. Greatly to her surprise and relief, he took his departure,
and left the field open to his youthful rival.

The Queen’s next step was to send to Rome, and invite her “beloved
cousin,” as she called Louis, to return to her assistance in driving
the Aragonese out of Naples, and to accept the succession to her
throne. She bade him to have no fear of misunderstandings of the past,
but to regard herself as nothing more than a well-intentioned relative.

Louis, now grown to manhood, with ripened experience of warlike
tactics and political strife, and, be it said, of women and their ways,
entered Naples in state on April 10, 1424. His arrival in Southern
Italy cheered the desponding spirits of the Angevine party and roused
their zeal. Adherents flocked to the banner he set up, and men and arms
were ready at his beck and call. A very important personage allied
himself with the young King-adventurer--none other than Sforza, the
famous _condottiere_. He gathered around him a considerable number of
distinguished malcontents and disappointed favourites of the Queen, who
in no way concealed their intention of revenging the insults she had
heaped upon them, as soon as they gained a promising opportunity. News
of this determination very soon reached Giovanna’s ears, and she shut
herself up in her palace with her maidens and her toadies, and declined
to receive King Louis or his envoys. At the same time she summoned to
her presence Braccio Fortebraccio di Mantova, another of her renowned
_condottieri_, and Constable of Sicily, the avowed rival and enemy of
Sforza, and suffering under a decree of excommunication of Pope Martin
V.

Leonora, immediately in attendance on the Queen, managed very
skilfully to convey intelligence of all that passed in Giovanna’s
secret councils to her royal lover. She told him that, in spite of her
recent proclamation, the Queen had sent her favourite Court Seneschal,
Gianni Caracciolo, to the King of Aragon to implore him to come and
rescue her, and put the coalition to flight. She asked Alfonso to
accept the title and estates of Duke of Calabria, as appertaining to
the heir-presumptive to the Neapolitan throne. This daring courtier
pressed his attentions upon the Queen, demanding not only a share of
her bed, but a share of her throne. Leonora told Louis all the ins
and outs of this intrigue, and warned him to be on the alert; for
should Caracciolo’s presumption become known in Naples, there would
be a general revolution. Sforza, on his side, was not prepared to
allow his rival Hercules an unquestioned victory at Court. He demanded
admission to the palace, and an interview with the Queen, before whom
he challenged Caracciolo to mortal combat.

Giovanna was delighted that such redoubtable champions should worst
each other on her account. Her vanity was flattered--and that is a
happy condition for a scheming woman. Undoubtedly she most favoured
Caracciolo, but Sforza’s fine physique appealed to her irresistibly,
and she fanned his passion. If Caracciolo was for the moment master
of her heart, Sforza was master of her future, and she was happy. One
day she invited the rivals to join her in the chase, and she rode
between them. She cared little for hunting save as an incentive to
amorous relations. Tiring soon of the exercise, she expressed a wish
to dismount and saunter in the forest glades, but her mood lead to
an extraordinary contest. Caracciolo threw himself at once off his
mount, and gave the Queen his hand to rid her of her pommel. Sforza,
seeing his advantage, pressed his horse against the Queen’s and
seized her other hand. Each hero pulled his hardest, until Giovanna
was compelled to cry aloud for pain! Then, slipping quietly down, she
ordered Sforza to release her. This token of non-preference excited the
_condottiere’s_ passion. “If Caracciolo,” he hissed out, “had not been
so clumsy, your Majesty would not have been so greatly disarranged!”

“It is not you,” replied the Queen, “that should dare to regulate my
conduct, or, for the matter of that, your rival’s. Hold your tongue and
leave me; your presence is not grateful just now!”

“As you will, madam,” said Sforza fiercely. “Yes, I will leave you with
the favourite of your heart, but you ought to know that you cannot
treat thus a man like me!” Then he turned to Caracciolo, and exclaimed
in a tone of scornful disdain: “As for you, I advise you to use all
your wits and all your resources, for you will stand in need of them!”

Giovanna was on that day absolutely overcome by her physical passions.
She cared for nothing, and the last sight the enraged Sforza had of
her was locked in her lover’s arms and reclining on a mossy bed, lost
to the world around. The erring Queen speedily came to her senses with
respect to the position Sforza had taken up; and when she learnt that
he had thrown in his lot for better or for worse with Louis III.,
under a pretext, she despatched Caracciolo to Rome to claim the Papal
reversal of his excommunication, and to assure the Pope of her filial
devotion to the Holy See. Before he departed, Giovanna required him to
deliver up his sword as Seneschal of the kingdom, which she promptly
offered as a bribe to Sforza.

Meanwhile Leonora had not been idle. She had spoken to the Queen
often and passionately about the comeliness and the gallantry of her
hero, contrasting his buoyant physical excellences with the blazé
proportions of Alfonso,--not knowing that he had rejected Giovanna’s
lustful overtures,--until she expressed herself desirous of confirming
his appointment as her heir. Leonora wrote thus to King Louis: “Come
not yet to the palace; but arm your fleet, and recruit what troops you
can. Sforza is loyal, but Caracciolo is your enemy, and he is powerful.
Besides him you have to reckon with Braccio and with King Alfonso. You
have need of prudence and daring.”

The position of affairs, so far as the Queen was personally concerned,
was perilous in the extreme. On one hand, the King of Aragon did not
hide his intention of capturing her, and consigning her and her maidens
and men to a castle in Catalonia, and then he would be absolute master
of the kingdom of Naples. On the other hand, Louis, aided by Sforza,
whom she had so grievously outraged, was determined to win back his
ancestral inheritance, Queen or no Queen, but he in no way threatened
her life or liberty. The Queen fled with her Court to the Castle of
Capua, and there established herself. Sforza followed her, and, whilst
avowedly protecting his Queen, made her his prisoner, and then, with
the assistance of the fleet of King Louis, caused Alfonso, who with
Braccio was investing the city of Naples, to seek refuge in Castel
Nuovo, whence he set sail to Aragon for reinforcements and supplies.

Leonora,--still with the Queen and still devoted to the cause of King
Louis,--wrote to him again, bidding him adventure himself to Aversa,
whither Giovanna retired after the departure of King Alfonso. There
Louis found her, and, in spite of advancing years and the disordered
life she had led, noted her good looks, her grace of manner and of
speech, and her general attractiveness. “Her eyes,” wrote Leonora,
“flashed wonderfully, and her cheeks reddened passionately directly
she beheld again her good-looking young cousin.” Giovanna greeted him
at the top of the grand staircase of the palace, and addressed him in
gushing terms: “The brave deeds you have accomplished, gallant Prince,”
she said, “have added greatly to your renown. Enter, victorious King,
my peaceful abode, take a well-merited repose, and receive from me,
your devoted admirer, the homage of a thankful Princess, who is greatly
charmed at beholding you in full possession of your lawful estate.”
Extending her hand, she led the young King to the apartments which had
been prepared for him.

Louis, bowing profoundly, deprecated the services which had gained
such honours as the Queen had bestowed upon him. “I have achieved
success in your name, Madam, and for your pleasure,” he replied. They
supped together, and then, bidding all the company and the servants to
withdraw, she conversed with her visitor upon every subject that came
uppermost in her mind, but eventually laid herself open to receive the
supreme pleasure she had in contemplation. Louis was inflexible, and
all her tenderness and affection found no response. At last she said:
“I do not know what more I can do. You, Sire, accept gladly the rights
your arms have won, but what is more precious still you refuse--these
arms of mine which are ready to do your will and pleasure.”

Giovanna then lowered her gaze and sat mute, awaiting Louis’s reply
with palpitating breast. She might very well have hummed the kissing
song of Ronsard:

      “On soit d’un baiser sec, ou d’un baiser humide,
      D’un baiser court, ou d’un baiser qui guide
      L’âme dessuz la bouche, et laisse tréspasser
      Le baiseur.”

      “Maybe the kiss is cold, maybe it’s warm;
      A kiss and off, or a kiss that clings,
      And guides the ardent lover ’neath the lips
      Till he finds no way to escape.”

“No, madam,” at last spoke the young Prince, greatly embarrassed by
the Queen’s words and looks, “it shall never be said that I seek the
means for impairing your royal prerogative; you shall retain that,
I pray, in its entirety so long as Providence sees good to preserve
you to your people.” Then he politely withdrew from the chamber and
sought his own lodging. Again on the morrow the King and Queen dined
together privately. Giovanna was dressed superbly in royal robes and
wore priceless jewels, but her manner was strangely marked by languor
and vexation. Their conversation was forced and restrained in turn.
After the repast they adjourned together to the lovely gardens of the
palace, which were brilliantly illuminated and filled with a numerous
and festive company. The best musicians, of the capital and the most
excellent jongleurs of foreign and native fame forgathered to do honour
to the royal guest. Dances and flirtations were the order of the
evening, and among the Queen’s maidens was the lovely girl from Sicily,
Leonora. Louis saw her immediately, and it was not very long before
they were _tête-à-tête_ in a grotto hidden from public gaze.

The royal romance reached a climax when Louis avowed himself the
devoted admirer and lover of the girl. He even proposed a clandestine
marriage, but Leonora begged him with tears not to press his suit. She
revealed to him the real character of her mistress, and warned him that
if Giovanna became conversant with the liaison, then she herself would
be done to death, and he, Louis, would probably be assassinated. “You
may,” she said, “refuse to marry the Queen, but she will never pardon
you if you marry anybody else.”

Again, the third day of Louis’s visit to Aversa, the Queen arranged
meals and meetings alone with the Prince, whose morals and whose
manhood she was striving so consumedly to seduce. The Queen’s eyes had
in them not alone the lure of lust, but the flash of passion and the
flame of resentment. Louis again excused himself her presence, and,
making his way to his tryst with Leonora, heard as he approached the
grotto the high-toned voice of Giovanna beating down the frightened
protests of his _innamorata_--they were together in the grotto! The
Prince revealed himself, only to meet the scornful invectives of the
jealous Queen. She demanded to know the nature of Louis’s relations
with her serving-maid, and when she had heard the story she turned upon
Leonora like a tiger. Louis stepped before the terrified girl, and bade
Giovanna abate her fury and not lay hands upon a woman whom he loved.
“Leonora has done more than you, madam,” he exclaimed, “to mount me on
the throne of Naples, and you shall not cause me to descend therefrom!”

The Queen, at last realizing the manner of man with whom she had to
deal, was intimidated by his boldness, and presently she left the
grotto. Leonora still refused Louis’s proposition, and before the day
dawned she had taken her flight from Aversa, and was well on her way
to Rome, to claim sanctuary. She wrote a farewell letter to her royal
lover, which a faithful dependent of her father safely conveyed to
Naples. King Louis offered the old man every possible inducement to
reveal the hiding-place of his young mistress, but he never broke the
seal of secrecy which Leonora placed upon him, and Louis and Leonora
never met again.

Louis managed to evade the embraces and the advances of the Queen. He
had been espoused to the Princess Margaret of Savoy, and although he
used the liberty of a vigorous and a level-headed young manhood under
the silver-feathered ægis of Prince Cupid, he was not forgetful of his
troth. Having broken the back of the opposition of Alfonso of Aragon,
and being confident of the support of Genoa and Milan, he lived in
comparative comfort and peace; but he withdrew into Calabria, where he
was for a time, at all events, safe from the intrigues of Giovanna.
During this interval the young King made repeated visits both to Angers
and Chambéry, to greet his devoted mother, revive the sweet memories
of his boyhood, and to cultivate the love of his fiancée Margaret, now
growing rapidly to womanhood.

The whole of France was once again in a ferment. The English,
driving all before them, captured almost all the possessions of the
Crown. Charles VII. was a fugitive, and his consort Marie, Louis’s
beloved sister, broken-hearted. René, his younger brother, was fighting
for his own in Bar and Lorraine. With the chivalry and self-sacrifice
which distinguished all the children of Louis II. and Yolande, he
placed his sword at the disposal of his brother-in-law, and fell
into line with the defenders of his native soil. None of the French
King’s allies held themselves more stoutly, nor were anything like
so dependable, as was the young King of Sicily and Naples. His royal
person and his coroneted helmet were ever foremost in the battle; his
bravery was inspiring. When matters seemed to be hopeless and the flame
of France’s honour appeared to be extinguished, the miraculous mission
of the Maid of Domremy cheered the hearts of all true patriots. She
chose René as her _preux chevalier_, and her place was at the head of
the troops under his orders. Louis III. had another post of danger to
fill; he and his command were told off to keep watchful eyes upon the
movements of the Duke of Burgundy. By his excellent strategy he kept
the English apart from their allies, and rendered the co-operation of
the Burgundians impossible.

[Illustration: KING LADISLAUS AND QUEEN GIOVANNA II.

From a Monument by A. Ciccione. Church of San Giovanni a Carbonara,
Naples

_To face page 236_]

The relief of Orléans was followed by the amalgamation of the two
French armies, led so brilliantly by the Angevine royal brothers,
and the victorious hosts of France swept Charles and his Court along
with them triumphantly to his _Sacré_ at Reims. Released from his
duties as coadjutor to the King of France, Louis returned south again,
and at Geneva he and Margherita di Savoia were united in the bonds
of matrimony. The royal couple left immediately for Marseilles, and
sailed away to Naples, accompanied by a strong squadron of war-galleys
of Venice and Genoa; for the Venetians, recognizing the courage and
the ability of the young King, and desirous of gaining some of the
commercial profits of Neapolitan trade, joined their forces to the
banner of the Angevine King of Naples.

Once more in his capital he discovered Queen Giovanna wholly under the
influence of Gianni Caracciolo, who had assumed regal attributes, and
was personally carrying on an intrigue to supplant his authority. Louis
immediately sent for the usurper, asked him about his pretensions,
and warned him that if the Queen, as he said, had named him her
Lieutenant-General, he (Louis) was his undoubted Sovereign. Caracciolo
took the King’s assumption of his kingly rights quite nonchalantly, and
replied insolently that as long as Giovanna lived he was the mouthpiece
of her Government.

The favourite of the Queen was not a _persona grata_ at her Court.
His arrogance and presumption raised up enemies on every side; in
particular, the old nobility looked askance upon a courtier of his
low origin. Sergianni was by name a Caracciolo, by birth the son of a
common woman--so it was said. The Queen’s Mistress of the Robes was
Covella Ruffo, Duchess of Sessa,--her husband was a pretender to the
crown,--and she voiced the palace discontent. She boldly demanded of
Giovanna the immediate disgrace of her Seneschal, and proclaimed the
Court preference for King Louis and his fascinating consort Margherita.
The Queen indignantly stood by Caracciolo, and forbade the Duchess to
name the matter again. Within ten days,--it was August 25, 1432,--the
body of the favourite was picked up by brethren of the Misericordia
and given decent burial. In the dead man’s heart, plunged up to the
hilt, was the jewelled poniard of the Duchess of Sessa! The incident
passed, for the Queen deemed it inexpedient to ask for explanations;
besides, she had become wearied by the obsequiousness of her Minister,
and she had other fish to fry! With rare commercial acumen, she seized
all Caracciolo’s belongings,--most of them he had received from
herself,--and actually, with feminine inconsequence, shared them with
the Duchess!


III.

Whilst Louis was strengthening his position at Naples, Duke René
of Bar and Lorraine was languishing in the Tour de Bar at Bracon,
vanquished at Bulgneville and crushed by the Duke of Burgundy. Louis
added his protest against his brother’s retention in captivity to that
of all the Sovereigns and peers of France, and his appeal was carried
by Queen Margherita to her father, the Duke of Savoy, whose influence
was great with the Court of Burgundy. René’s release on parole for
a year was largely due to the intercession of his brother. Giovanna
expressed a wish to see “my other cousin of Anjou,” as she put it, and
Louis pressed his brother to bend his steps to Naples and recruit his
health and spirits in the sunny, merry South. The Duke’s first step,
however, was to hurry off to Nancy to fold his heroic wife Isabelle and
darling children to his breast; here, too, to regulate many affairs
of State awaiting his decision. To Angers next he boated, to pay his
filial homage to his courageous, resourceful mother, Queen Yolande, and
to relieve her of some of the worry of government. René, too, had much
business to do at the Court of King Charles of France, and his loyal,
devoted subjects in Provence demanded his presence. So passed nearly
the whole of his twelvemonth’s grace.

Giovanna’s reception of her “cousin” was affectionate in the extreme,
and she was warm in her admiration of “another handsome Prince of
Anjou.”

Nothing, however, would suit her until René became her guest, and as
such he went through all the weird experience of his elder brother. It
mattered not to the Queen that he was a married man with a loving wife
and dear children; what mattered to her was that he was good-looking,
brave, and gallant. To be sure, René’s serious manner disconcerted her,
and his artistic tastes bored her, but under his studious courtesy she
tried to believe that he was hiding a lively response to her amorous
advances. In the presence of “_il galantuomo Re_,”--by which term she
always saluted Louis,--Giovanna named René second heir to her kingdom,
and successor to the title and estates of the duchy of Calabria. She
carefully refrained from inquiries about Duchess Isabelle; indeed,
she ignored her existence altogether, and in this line of conduct she
was quite consistent, for she had declined to receive the young Queen
Margherita when Louis entered Naples with her in state.

René, however, was instrumental, whilst under the fascination of Queen
Giovanna, in effecting two matters of importance for the kingdom of
Naples and its people. She had instructed Giovanni Capistrani, a
perfervid son of Rome, and at the same time an admirer of the Queen,
whom she had appointed Court Chamberlain, to persecute the Jews and
drive them away from Naples; all such as refused exile he was ordered
to put to death. René interposed in the interpretation of these
decrees, and gained the Queen’s consent to allow the persecuted race to
remain on two conditions: (1) That they should not exact unjust usury;
and (2) that they should be marked by a yellow cross to differentiate
them from the Christian subjects of the Crown. René further suggested
to Giovanna that the Church needed her patronage, that she herself
would go the way of all flesh, and that some accommodation with
Heaven was very desirable. The Queen laughed his counsel to scorn,
and badgered him for a crusader and a churchling, but his words went
home even to her hardened, sensuous heart. Capistrani’s unexpected
action, moreover, greatly moved her; he resigned his Court offices and
emoluments, and meekly entered a monastery of St. Francis d’Assisi.

Duke René returned to his prison at Dijon, and King Louis took
his bride off to Cosenza, the capital of Calabria, where a second
marriage was celebrated on August 15, 1433, to allay the scruples
of prejudiced adherents of the Neapolitan throne. A rumour had been
spread,--originating, it was said, with the Queen herself,--which
affirmed that Margherita was not the wife, but the mistress, of the
royal Duke! Eighteen short months of marital bliss were enjoyed by
Louis and Margherita, broken, alas! by a fresh attack by Alfonso in
force on Naples. A naval battle off Gaeta, 1434, ended disastrously
for the fleet of Aragon. Arrayed against it were the allied forces of
Genoa, Venice, Florence, and Milan. Alfonso and his brother Juan were
taken prisoners, and carried off to Milan by Duke Filippo Maria. Then
a blow fell on the young Queen and upon the whole kingdom of Naples,
which made itself felt even in the morbid heart of Queen Giovanna.
King Louis caught fever besieging the city of Taranto, and was borne
swiftly off to Cosenza, where he died, in his own fond Queen’s arms,
on November 15, 1434. Few Princes have made themselves so universally
loved as Louis III. of Sicily and Naples, and never were there so
many sad hearts and tearful eyes in the kingdom of Naples as when his
beloved body was laid out for burial in the Cathedral of Cosenza.

Giovanna never again recovered her spirits; to be sure, she did not
renounce her evil ways, but she set about in a hurry to put into
execution Duke René’s suggestions. Among belated pious deeds, she
rebuilt and refounded the Church of Santa Maria dell’ Annunziata by
way of penance for her bad life, and there she was buried in front of
the high-altar. A simple slab of marble points out, in the absence of
a grandiose monument, the place of her sepulture. She died February 2,
1435, and no woman wept for her, and no man felt grieved. If it is true
that “the evil which men do dies with them,” then we must not rake up
the tainting memories of an evil past. Giovanna II., Queen of Naples,
has passed to her last account, and before Heaven’s tribunal will she
stand, alongside with the victims of her vampire-love. Faraglia, in his
“_Storia della Regina Giovanna II. d’Angio_,” makes a brave attempt to
whitewash the character of the Queen, and he records many interesting
details in her daily life. “Every morning,” he says, “she rose with the
sun, spent one hour at Mass and private devotions; then she applied
herself to the study of music and literature; at noon she breakfasted,
generally alone, the afternoon she gave to exercise, and before dinner
she bathed in a bath supplied with the milk of one hundred asses.”
Apparently the Queen gave no time to affairs of State, and she had not
much leisure for company. Undoubtedly Queen Giovanna was the friend of
art and craft, but only so far as their exponents helped to enhance her
own attractions and luxuries. Antonio Solario--“Il Zingaro”--was her
favourite painter, and, by the oddest of irrational conventions, he has
represented her in an altar-piece as the Virgin Mary with the Infant
Christ, and surrounded by a court of saints!

With what feelings the news of the death of Louis III. at Cosenza
was received by René in his prison chamber at Tour de Bar we may
well imagine. The hold of his house upon the kingdom of Naples was,
of course, of the weakest; and if the late King upon the spot, free
to move what troops and stores he had at will, was unable to retain
command of Naples, how could a captive Prince away in Burgundy hope to
enforce successfully his claim as his brother’s heir?

In Provence and Anjou and beyond the borders of his dominions, with
Bar and Lorraine, and with the sympathy and assistance of friendly
Sovereigns and Princes at home and abroad, he had, of course,
numberless loyal subjects, friends, and allies, but among them all
not one could enthuse his cause as he could himself in person. Three
devoted Princesses,--Yolande, Isabelle, and Marguerite,--were doing all
they could to free him from his captivity. Their efforts were in the
schools of sympathy and politics, but they could not lead troops or
command a victorious army. No doubt René was depressed and in despair
at the apparent paralysis of all effective assistance. Then came the
crushing intelligence that Giovanna, the Queen of Naples, was dead, and
that he (René) was _de facto_ King. This must have made him desperate.
He had no resources, and there appeared no possibility of his obtaining
possession of his rights. How he chafed and fumed as he paced his
spacious chamber, and how defiantly he must have gazed through its
barred windows and at its closed door! Duke René’s brain must have
reeled.

Relief, however, came in quite an unexpected sort of way. One morning
the bolts of his door were noisily shot back, and upon the threshold
he beheld two foreign gentlemen unknown to him. They knelt and kissed
his hand; then they offered him a permit from the Duke of Burgundy, a
sealed letter from Duchess (now Queen) Isabelle, and a great official
despatch from the lately deceased Queen Giovanna. The two emissaries
were devoted adherents to the House of Anjou-Provence--Baron Charles de
Montelar and Signore Vidal di Cabarus. They came, as their credentials
ordered, directly from the deathbed of the Queen, to tell him from
her that, “for the sake of the love I had for King Louis,--now, alas!
departed,--I chose his noble brother René as my heir and successor.
Long live King René!” Into his hand the two gentlemen delivered the
Sovereign’s medallion and its royal chain of gold, and again they did
obeisance to their new Sovereign.

René accepted their homage chivalrously, if sorrowfully, but his eye
wandered to the smaller packet held by di Cabarus, for he saw it was
addressed to him in his dear wife’s handwriting. Tearing open the
cover, he read with tears in his eyes the startling news that--

    “Even whilst thou, my fond spouse, readest these presents, I,
    thy loyal wife and royal consort, am setting off at once, well
    mounted and numerously attended, to Marseilles to take shipping
    for Naples, there to receive in thy name the homage of the
    Estates and to assume the government. I am taking with me our
    second boy, Louis, with Yolande and Marguerite, to show them
    to thy Neapolitan subjects, but Jean I shall send to thee to
    comfort thee, by the grace of the Duke of Burgundy. My sweet
    mother will accompany him to cheer thee and to tell thee of my
    good estate. Fare thee well, beloved.

                                                    “Your ISABELLE.

    “AT NANCY, 1434.”

Isabelle had learned promptness and wisdom from her good
mother-in-law, Queen Yolande, as well as decision and courage from
her father, Duke Charles, and all these royal virtues she exhibited
magnificently at this extraordinary juncture. The two Neapolitan envoys
had, it appeared, gone direct to Nancy to learn their new Queen’s
pleasure, and had thus become the bearers of her exhilarating mandate.
René received the intelligence of the masterful action of his spouse
with mixed feelings. He knelt at his prie-dieu, and thanked God and the
saints for the noble self-sacrifice of his wife; then, rising proudly
from his knees, he embraced his two visitors, bestowed upon each a ring
from his own fingers, and gave them instructions to carry his duty to
the Duke of Burgundy, praying for his instant release, and then to
proceed to Marseilles to convey to Queen Isabelle his blessing and his
approval of her splendid enterprise. No sooner was he left to himself
once more than he collapsed, weeping like a child and chiding his
Maker and his captor in language lurid and forcible. The irony of his
position nearly drove him mad.

Queen Isabelle landed at Naples in due course, and became the object
of an extraordinary outburst of enthusiasm. Hailed as Queen, and with
King René’s name ever reverberating from loyal lip to loyal lip, she
made no mistake, she had no illusions, for she faced the fact at once
that there were other claimants for the vacant throne and the uneasy
crown. The King of Aragon she knew as a traditional rival, and with
him she had to deal most seriously and methodically. He, indeed,
directly news of the Queen’s death reached him, had seized the Castle
of Gaeta, and thence had issued a proclamation claiming the vacant
throne. The Duke of Sessa, the husband of Queen Giovanna’s favourite
confidante, Duchess Sancia, claimed the throne as representing,--in
descent from Robert, Count of Avellino, her second husband,--Maria of
Calabria-Durazzo, sister of Queen Giovanna I. The Prince of Taranto,
grand-nephew of Giovanna I.’s third husband and of her sister Maria’s
third spouse, the Emperor of Constantinople, entered his claims to
the whole kingdom. He pretended also that King Louis III., René’s
brother, had before his death at Cosenza made him his heir of all
Calabria. From a distant kingdom came still another claimant. The King
of Hungary, Andrew, first consort of Giovanna I., had by her a son, it
was affirmed, but who it was alleged had died in infancy. This child,
it was maintained, was living, now grown to man’s estate. The child who
died, and was buried as the Queen’s son, was the son of a servant in
the royal suite, whilst the young Prince was removed from his mother’s
care and carried off to Hungary, and thus reared.

Isabelle brushed all these claims aside,--save that of Alfonso, who
alone of the pretenders to the crown was prepared to take up, as he
had done for years, the rights of Aragon in Naples, by force of arms.
Everywhere throughout the kingdom the Anjou dynasty was popular; the
country people swore by Louis III., and acclaimed the proclamation of
René. The army alone was disaffected, and was corrupted by Spanish
gold. The royal treasury at Naples was empty, the pay of the loyal
troops was in arrears; corruption and fraud filled every department
of State. The country gentry and peasantry were ruined; they had been
taxed and supertaxed by the minions of Queen Giovanna II. From Provence
and Anjou not much monetary help could be expected, and Lorraine and
Bar were impoverished. All France was suffering from the wreck of the
Hundred Years’ War. René’s ransom required almost every penny Yolande,
Isabelle, and Marguerite, could raise by love and threat. What could be
done?

[Illustration: GUARINI DA VERONA PRESENTING HIS TRANSLATION OF STRABO’S
WORK ON GEOGRAPHY TO KING RENÉ

From a Miniature by King René. Albi Library

_To face page 246_]

The new Queen had come to Naples to claim and hold the kingdom for her
husband, and she made up her mind that she would try every expedient
to that end, cost what it might. To steal and to borrow were not lines
of conduct that appealed to her, but she could beg, and beg she did.
Upon this circumstance historians have fastened, and have written
more or less eloquently in praise of a dauntless Queen. After making
up her mind to this course of action, Isabelle at once put it into
operation, and an immense sensation was created in the city when their
beautiful and virtuous Queen, clothed simply in native Neapolitan garb,
without jewels or marks of royalty, took her place morning by morning
outside the palace, in the open square, a macaroni basket in her fair,
white, ringless hands, and there pleaded eloquently, in her sweet and
musical voice, for contributions for the honour of the King and for
the defence of the city. By her side, clad in Neapolitan costumes,
were her three little children--innocent, fresh, and comely. “It was,”
wrote a chronicler, “a spectacle to move the heart and soul of a marble
statue--if such it hath. A Queen of high degree and impeccability
humbling herself for her new country’s good. Looking upon her and her
children, one conjured up the base contrast offered to our outraged
nature by the late Queen, of infamous memory.”

Money flowed in fast and full, and the wicker cash-box daily carried
almost more weight of copper and silver, and of articles of jewellery,
than the fine strength of the virago Queen could support. Isabelle
set about a thorough overhauling of the resources of the national
exchequer. She personally rallied troops, and inspected militarily her
recruits; arrears of pay were forthcoming, and the better-disposed
men of affairs she intuitively selected, and thus purged the seats
of government. The King of Aragon, amazed at Isabelle’s courage and
ability, refrained from attacking Naples. “I’ll fight with men,” he
said, “not with a woman!” he exclaimed. “Let us see what she will do.”

The state of Naples in general, and of the Court in particular, was
worse than that of any Augean stable. Indeed, of Court, strictly
speaking, there was none, for the less disreputable nobles had long
ago gone away to their country estates, taking the seeds of corruption
with them to sow among their tenantry. The coteries which gathered
around the abandoned Queen like eagles round a carcass were split up
into murderous, lustful parties, and divided among evil-conditioned
brothels. Every man was every woman’s prey, and every woman at the
mercy of a libertine. The whole city was a colossal orgie, and its
inhabitants sunk in the slough of unmitigated filth. The turpitude of
Pompeii found a parallel in the unrighteousness of Naples. To pull
aside the veil which merciful Time has placed over those years of
banality and crime would be a sacrilege.

      “Down among the dead men let them lie!”

Queen Isabelle, aghast, pulled her veil more closely over her fair
features, fixed her teeth, and clenched her hands. Giovanna and all
her doings were taboo to her, and by the example and precept of a
good woman she gradually accomplished what appeared to be a Herculean
task--she brought the Neapolitans to their senses. Mind, in those
rapidly pulsating Southern natures, quickly controls action, and the
human animal is not all bad even when so predestined by Providence.
Isabelle’s administration of the kingdom of Naples during the three
years of her sole government was by way of being a moral renascence
of humanity, and, when René joined his noble consort, the roses which
decorated his triumphal entry were richly perfumed by his wife’s sweet
culture.

The prisoner of Bracon was set unconditionally free in 1437, and he
hurried away to Marseilles, passing through his beloved country of
Provence, hailed everywhere and by everyone with ecstatic devotion.
At his port of departure for Naples he was met by Queen Yolande.
Never was there a more affecting scene: the mother,--still bearing
traces of her early beauty and grace,--bowed down with grief and aged
prematurely; the son grown older than his age under the rigours, mental
and physical, of his long imprisonment, but still devoted, grateful,
and chivalrous. Yolande had fain pressed René to remain in France and
comfort her declining years, for, were they parted, she felt that she
never more should fold him to her heart--a heart pierced deeply by
the premature death of Louis. Yet she played the Spartan mother, not
spectacularly but sincerely, and, hushing the sobs of parting, she
bravely waved the King of Naples her last farewell. His father and his
brother had both traversed the way René was taking; their experience
would doubtless be his.

René had a great reception at Naples, and his joy was unclouded when
he embraced his noble wife and his four young children, with tears
coursing down his cheeks. His recognition as Sovereign was celebrated
in the cathedral. There he and Isabelle knelt hand in hand in thankful
confidence. Not long did the new King remain in the bosom of his
family. Alfonso broke his parole, and prepared a fresh expedition to
attack Naples. René went off at once to Rome, Florence, Venice, Genoa,
and Milan, to rally help in his emergency. During his captivity the
King of Aragon had played the cards so adroitly that he had succeeded
in detaching the Duke, his captor, from the triple alliance. Moreover,
he gained over to his side Pope Eugenius IV. by promising to make
Sicily a fief of the Church. The Aragonese attack failed, though the
forces at King René’s command suffered terribly.

At this juncture Queen Isabelle and her children, except the heir to
the throne, returned to France, much against her will, but obedient to
her royal consort’s wishes. Jean, Duke of Calabria, now a promising lad
of nearly thirteen, remained with his father at the post of danger.
Alfonso was by no means discouraged; he intended to be master of Naples
cost him what it might. In 1440 and 1441 he made fresh assaults on
Naples and other seaports of the Calabrian peninsula. All of these René
resisted triumphantly, but at Troia, on October 21 in the latter year,
Alfonso in person defeated René’s army under the command of Sforza and
Sanseverino, and made good his footing in the kingdom of Naples. He
further pressed home his attack upon the capital by seizing the island
of Ischia, where he compelled the women, whether married or not, to
wed his victorious soldiers. René wearied of the contest; he had been
warring for twenty years, and he yearned for repose. The Neapolitans
quickly took his measure, and his indecision and slackness of energy
disheartened his principal supporters. His troops fell away from him,
and when, in May, 1442, the King of Aragon once more summoned the
capital to surrender, René meekly handed over the keys to his enemy,
and made his escape to Marseilles. Alfonso on June 2 entered Naples in
triumph, and put an end to the rule of the Angevine Kings.

Alfonso has been styled “the Magnanimous”; perhaps “the Philosopher”
would fit his character better. He was a student of metaphysics and a
classicist to boot, and, moreover, he had a ready wit. He hated dancing
and frivolity, and once remarked that “a man who danced only differed
from a fool because his folly was shorter!” An ideal domestic menage
appeared to him to be “a blind wife and a deaf husband.” His treasurer
was one day giving out scrip for 20,000 ducats, when an officer
standing by exclaimed: “Alack, if I only had that amount I should be a
happy man!” “Take it,” replied the King!

Nevertheless, Alfonso was hated by his new subjects quite as
thoroughly as René had been beloved. The war dragged on; in Calabria
the Prince of Taranto raised once more the banner of Anjou, and
Giovanni Toreglia, a cousin of Lucrezia d’Alagni, Alfonso’s last
mistress, seized Ischia for Jean, Duke of Calabria, René’s eldest son.
René himself made two more attempts to regain Giovanna’s inheritance:
in 1458 and 1461; but Charles VII. and Louis XI. each failed him in
turn with reinforcements. Last of all, Jean, Duke of Calabria, was
decisively defeated at Troia in 1462 by Ferdinand I., Alfonso’s bastard
son, who succeeded to the throne of Naples after his father’s death in
1458, a man treacherous and vindictive, and a libertine. “_Sic transit
gloria mundi_” may be written as a footnote to the story of Naples in
the fifteenth century.



CHAPTER VIII

MARGUERITE D’ANJOU--“THE MOST INTREPID OF QUEENS”


I.

“Margaret of Anjou was the loveliest, the best-educated, and the most
fearless Princess in Christendom!” High praise indeed, but not more
than her due, and universally accorded her by every historian who has
undertaken to chronicle her character and career.

Born at the Castle of Pont-à-Mousson,--one of the finest in all
Lorraine, and a favourite residence of her father and mother,--on
March 23, 1429, Margaret was the youngest child of René, Duke of Bar,
and Isabelle of Lorraine his wife. Her father was far away from his
home when this pretty babe first smiled upon her sweet mother. He was
escorting _La Pucelle_ to Chinon, and leading the troops of Charles
VII. to victory. Her mother was Lieutenant-General of the duchies--a
devoted and heroic spouse. The little girl’s cradle was rocked amid the
rivalries and hostilities of the Houses of Lorraine and Vaudémont. She
was the child of Mars. She was baptized by Henri de Ville, Bishop of
Toul, who had just been created, by the Emperor Sigismund, Prince of
the Holy Roman Empire. The Bishop was a trusty friend of Duke René in
shower and shine.

That ducal nursery, where faithful Théophaine la Magine bore maternal
nursing sway, was a merry one; for Margaret’s brothers Jean, Louis, and
little Nicholas,--twin with her only sister Yolande,--were all vigorous
youngsters. Then, besides these legitimate children, the Castle of
Bar-le-Duc sheltered another Jean and Blanche and Madeleine, born to
their father out of wedlock. The ducal sepulchre had given rest to two
other baby boys, Charles and René, own brothers to little Margaret.

Margaret’s experience of the joys and sorrows of the world began at
a very early age. Her doting father was a captive away at Dijon under
the rigorous hand of the Duke of Burgundy, and Duchess Isabelle was up
and about seeking his deliverance. René and she had succeeded Charles
II. as Duke and Duchess of Lorraine the same year that saw the Tour de
Bar receive its distinguished prisoner, and upon Isabelle fell all the
complications and difficulties attending the succession. To be sure,
she had the very able help of the Dowager Duchess, her own dear mother
Marguerite, godmother of her little girl, but the first consideration
in her mind was her husband’s liberty. Handing over the reins of
government to Duchess Marguerite and the Council of State, Isabelle
betook herself to the Court of Charles VII. to claim his assistance and
interference. With her she took her two little daughters--Yolande, only
three years old, and Margaret, but two. Her sons were sent to Burgundy
to stand as hostages at the Duke’s orders, and little Nicholas remained
with his grandmother at Nancy.

[Illustration: MARGUERITE D’ANJOU

From a Miniature by King René, in “Le Livre des Heures”

_To face page 254_]

At Vienne, where the French Court was at the time, having gone south
from Reims and the coronation, the King gave his brother-in-law’s
consort a very hearty greeting, but he hesitated to commit himself to
action which might ferment once more evil blood between his people
and the Burgundians. Isabelle held by their hands, as she pleaded for
her dear husband, her two baby girls, and Charles’s indecision was
overcome by little Margaret, then a dauntless infant, who ran up to
him and insisted upon being nursed upon his knee and kissed. A child’s
instinctive disingenuousness is affected by magnetic natures regardless
of conventions and proprieties; how often and often again is this
proved to be axiomatic! That interview was memorable for the meeting of
Charles with a woman--to be sure, then a girl--who would in after-years
affect him and his considerably. Agnes Sorel was in attendance upon the
Duchess Isabelle. Charles beheld her for the first time, and her face
and figure haunted him for good and ill many a long day.

Not content with winning over the King of France to intercede for
the liberation of her consort, the Duchess returned to Lorraine, and
went off at once to Vaudémont to plead with Count Antoine, the Duke
of Burgundy’s brother, in the same cause. Vaudémont agreed to assist
his kinswoman, but upon one chief condition, among others--that she
would consent to Yolande, her eldest daughter, being betrothed to his
eldest son Ferri. There was, of course, method in this extraordinary
proposal,--for the child was only three years of age,--and it was
this: He, the Count, claimed Lorraine, by the Salic Law, as first heir
male against Isabelle. Whatever might eventuate, his son married to
René’s daughter would be an additional lien upon the duchy. This policy
also commended itself to Isabelle’s prudential mind, and she gave a
qualitative consent dependent upon confirmation by Duke René later on.
The Count added a rider to the stipulation, and that was the committal
of the girl to the care of his wife, the Countess, for education and
training. This, too, the Duchess accepted, although it cost her sore
to part with her dear child. Margaret and Nicholas alone remained to
solace her; but Isabelle was far too strong a character to spend much
time in comforting or being comforted. Whilst René was in durance
vile she could not remain idle; so off she went, taking Margaret and
Nicholas with her, to the Castle of Tarascon, in order to enlist the
sympathies and services of René’s devoted Provençals.

Isabelle’s coming into Provence provoked remarkable demonstrations
on the part of the warm-hearted and loyal subjects of the county.
Troubadours and glee maidens flocked to the Rhone shore; they sang,
they danced, they ate, they drank, and laid floral offerings and votive
crowns at the feet of their Countess and her tender children. Bonfires
blazed from shore to shore, and echoes of the rejoicings might have
been carried by the warm south wind right into the dungeoned ears
of their beloved Count. Whilst Duchess Isabelle was in residence at
Tarascon negotiations were already on foot for the betrothal of little
Margaret. An eligible suitor arrived, the young Pierre de Luxembourg,
eldest son of the Count of St. Pol, whose esquire, by a singular
coincidence, happened to be the recipient at Bulgneville of Duke René’s
sword. Arrangements for the ceremony of espousal were, however, rudely
interrupted by a serious outbreak of plague, and Isabelle and her
children fled to Marseilles, where they remained till René joined them,
released upon a year’s parole.

When René was proclaimed King of Sicily, Naples, and Jerusalem, Duke
of Anjou, and Count of Provence, upon the premature death of his elder
brother, Louis III., at Cosenza, Isabelle was again at Marseilles,
on her way to take possession of her husband’s rights in Naples.
Such pageants and spectacles at those exhibited in her honour by the
exuberant Marseillais that city had never seen. She rode through ranks
on ranks of cheering citizens, in a great state chariot covered with
crimson and gold, and wearing a queenly crown upon her head, and with
her were Jean, her eldest son, and Margaret and Nicholas. The little
Princess captivated everybody by her _naïveté_ and the graceful kissing
of her little hand. Margaret sent kisses flying through every street,
winning all men’s loyalty and the love of all the boys.

Queen Isabelle and her children took up their residence at the Palace
of Capua. Queen Giovanna offered her the new royal palace in Naples,
but Isabelle’s instinct was not in error when she chose to dwell a
little distance from the royal hussy. There King René joined his
family, bringing with him both Louis, his second son, and Yolande.
The reunion was the happiest that could be. Upon the King devolved,
of course, the onus of government, with the co-operation of Queen
Giovanna. Queen Isabelle, relieved from the trammels of the executive,
had now a much-longed-for respite in which to give attention to the
neglected education of her children. She constituted herself their
teacher-in-chief, but called to her assistance the very noted writer
of French romance, Antoine de Salle. Alas! it was a brief interlude
indeed, for the studies had hardly had time to affect the young pupils
when the King of Aragon resumed his hostile demonstration against
the Angevine dynasty, and René and his were locked in the grip of
war. Very unwillingly Queen Isabelle agreed to return to France
with her children, Naples being an armed camp and the whole country
in a turmoil. They wended their way leisurely to Anjou, and not to
Lorraine. Two reasons dictated this course. Angers was the capital
_par excellence_ of the dominions of the King of Sicily-Anjou, the
ancestral seat of his house, and Anjou was more favourably conditioned
than Lorraine or Bar for the completion of the training of the royal
children. Queen Yolande was only too delighted to welcome her brave
daughter-in-law and to caress her beloved grandchildren. She went off
to the Castle of Saumur, her favourite residence, and the walls of
the grim Castle of Angers once more resounded to the merry laughter
of childish games. Sadly enough those joyous sounds yielded place
to saddest dirges when Prince Nicholas, not yet ten years old, died
suddenly of poison. This was the first break by Death into that home
circle.

The King and Queen were again in residence at the Castle of Tarascon
in 1443, and there, on February 2, they received an imposing mission
from the Duke of Burgundy, headed by Guillaume Harancourt, Bishop of
Verdun, the Seigneurs Pierre de Beauprémont and Adolphe de Charny,
with Antoine de Gaudel, the Duke’s principal secretary. They came to
Tarascon to negotiate a marriage between the Duke’s nephew, Charles de
Borugges, son of Philippe, Count of Nevers, and the Princess Margaret.
This bridegroom expectant had been very much in the matrimonial market
before accepting the choice of his uncle. His first fiancée was Jeanne,
daughter of Robert, Count de la Marche; she gave place to Anne, Duchess
of Austria; and she in turn was passed over before the greater charms
of the Angevine Princess. The contract of betrothal with Pierre de
Luxembourg was cancelled, and Charles de Nevers was the choice of René
and Isabelle.

The date for signing the marriage contract was fixed, February 4, and
to all the articles the King and Queen readily assented. The dowry was
50,000 _livres_, but how that large sum was to be raised neither René
nor Isabelle had the slightest idea; they had exhausted their exchequer
in the fruitless fight for Naples. The Duke of Burgundy, acting as
next of kin to the bridegroom-elect, promised to settle a jointure of
40,000 _livres_ on Margaret. René had put forward a plea that the Duke
should forego 80,000 _écus d’or_, which was due on loans, and Philippe
agreed, receiving as further security and indemnity to the towns of
Neufchâteau, Preny, and Longwy,--already in pawn to him,--the Castles
of Clermont, Varennes, and Renne, all in Argonne. A secret clause was,
however, at the eleventh hour foisted upon the Angevine Sovereigns--a
proceeding quite in accordance with the proverbial cunning of the Court
of Burgundy. It stipulated that the children of Charles and Margaret
should be heirs-presumptive of Sicily-Anjou-Provence, Lorraine, and
Bar, to the exclusion of the issue of Ferri and Yolande de Vaudémont.

The judicial mind of King René would not let his consent to this
article be recorded until he had consulted both the Count de Vaudémont
and King Charles of France. The former indignantly interviewed
the Duke of Burgundy, and stated his determination to oppose the
proposed marriage. Charles resented the stipulation upon the ground
of its injustice, and warned his brother-in-law not to agree to any
such proposals. The marriage contract was not signed, and, whilst
acrimonious negotiations were carried on both at Dijon and Vienne,
another and a very much more illustrious suitor of the hand of Princess
Margaret appeared upon the scene, no less a person than Henry VI., King
of England and France.

When the matter was first mooted, it was thought nothing of by the
King and Queen of Sicily, because Henry had been all but betrothed
to Isabelle, the daughter of the Count of Armagnac, to whom he owed
so very much in earlier days. Indeed, the gossip went so far as to
link the English King’s name in turn with all three daughters of the
Count--the loveliest girls in France: “Three Graces of Armagnac” they
were called. Henry had sent his favourite painter, Hans of Antwerp, to
paint the three comely sisters, and his handiwork was so acceptable
to the royal young bachelor that he sat and gazed at them for long,
changing the order of their arrangement to see which face of the
beauteous three made the most passionate appeal. The Armagnac marriage
was backed by all the influence of the Duke of Gloucester, the younger
of the King’s uncles, and lately Lord Protector of England.

What drew Margaret of Anjou into the orbit of Henry of England was that
she had gone on a visit to her aunt, Queen Marie of France, and had at
the French Court created quite a sensation. She was nearly fourteen
years of age, and gave fascinating indications of those charms of mind
and person which made her “the most lovely, the best-educated, and the
most fearless Princess in Christendom.”

Cardinal Beaufort was also a visitor at King Charles’s castle
at Chinon, and was immensely moved by Margaret’s appearance and
accomplishments. He also detected her latent strength of character, and
certain traits therein which marked her unerringly as the counterfoil
of his royal pupil and master’s mental and moral weaknesses. The
Cardinal returned to England full of the charms of the young Princess,
and descanted upon them so enthusiastically to the King that Henry
was in a perfect fever to behold the beauteous Princess for himself.
His amorous appetite was further stimulated by conversations he quite
accidentally had with one Jules Champchevier, a prisoner of war on
parole from Anjou, lodging with Sir John Falstaff, in attendance upon
the King. Champchevier was sent off to Saumur to obtain, if possible,
a portrait of the bewitching young Princess. The King wished her to
be painted quite simply and naturally “in a plain kirtle, her face
unpainted, and her hair in coils.” He required information about “her
height, her form, the colour of her skin, her hair, her eyes, and what
size of hand she hath.”

Champchevier was taken prisoner on landing in France, and threatened
with death for breaking his parole whilst executing the royal
commission; but news reaching Charles VII. of the unfortunate fellow’s
predicament, he laughed heartily at the situation when he learned the
reason of his mission, and forthwith ordered his release. The idea of a
matrimonial contract between his royal rival and his royal niece opened
His Majesty’s eyes to possibilities created thereby of a satisfactory
peace between the two countries. Once more,--and how many times before
and since!--a royal maiden’s heart contained the key to great political
issues.

The portrait was painted exactly to order--perhaps, and quite
correctly, with a little artistic embellishment. The beauty of Nature
is always enhanced by the decorative features of art. Henry was charmed
with the sweet face he gazed and gazed upon, quite putting into the
shade the other reigning beauties of his heart. He was himself as
comely as might be, just four-and-twenty, highly educated, his mind
unusually refined. In thought and deed he was pure and devout, and very
shy of strange women. Upon the latter head he was emphatic, for when
at Court or elsewhere he beheld women with open bosoms _à l’Isabeau
de Bavière_ he was shocked, and turned away his face, muttering: “Oh
fie! oh fie! ye be much to blame!” His earnest wish was marriage, not
concubinage. The King’s choice very soon became noised abroad, and the
Court became agitated and divided. The Duke of Gloucester, the King’s
next of kin and heir-presumptive to the throne, championed the Armagnac
match, whilst Cardinal Beaufort and the Earl of Suffolk decided for
Margaret of Anjou.

There was, however, an obstacle in the way, quite consistently with
the proverbial rugged course of all true love; the Count of Nevers
refused to release his fiancée. He was prepared, he averred, to cancel
the contentious clause in the marriage contract, made at Tarascon, and
not to insist upon anything derogatory to the dignity of King René
and his elder daughter, the Countess Ferri de Vaudémont. The prospect
to René of such an auspicious union, however, which would place his
daughter upon one of the greatest of European thrones, was too dazzling
to be ignored, and the outcome of the imbroglio was the assembling in
January, 1444, of a mixed Commission, representing England, France,
Anjou, and Burgundy, at Tours, whereat two protocols were framed: a
treaty for a two years’ peace, and a marriage agreement between the
King of England and the Princess of Anjou. This was signed on May 28 of
the same year. The marriage contract thus drawn out was very favourable
to the House of Sicily-Anjou: Henry asked for no dowry, but required
only the rights transmitted to King René by Queen Yolande with respect
to the kingdom of Minorca. Henry further agreed to the retrocession of
Le Mans and other points in Anjou held by the English.

To the Earl of Suffolk, the leading English plenipotentiary, was
mainly due the successful issue of the conference. Henry created
him Marquis and Grand Seneschal of the Royal Household. The King
furthermore despatched to him an autograph letter to the following
effect: “As you have lately, by the Divine favour and grace, in our
name, and for us, engaged verbally the excellent, magnificent, and very
bright Margaret, the second daughter of the King of Sicily, and sworn
that we shall contract marriage with her, we consent thereto, and will
that she be conveyed to us over the seas at our expense.” Arrangements
were forthwith made for the immediate marriage of the Princess.
Suffolk,--one of the handsomest and most cultivated men of the day,
though now verging on fifty years of age,--headed a majestic embassy to
Nancy, where the Sicily-Anjou Court was in residence. He bore with him
a dispensation from his royal master to act as his proxy at the nuptial
ceremony, and to receive in his name the hand of his fascinating bride.
It was indeed a notable function, and held in the ancient cathedral
of Tours, whereat all that was royal, noble, brave, and beautiful,
forgathered. The witnesses for Margaret were the King and Queen of
France, the King and Queen of Sicily-Anjou, and the Duke and Duchess
of Calabria, with the Dauphin Louis. The Princess’s supporters were
the Duke of Alençon, the most gallant and most accomplished Prince in
France, and the Marquis of Suffolk, the premier noble of England. Upon
the latter’s consort, the clever Marchioness, devolved the duties of
Mistress of the Robes.

That day,--February 27, 1445,--was a red-letter day in the annals
of all three kingdoms. Louis d’Harcourt, Bishop of Toul, was chief
celebrant, assisted by half the prelates of France, and Cardinal
Beaufort was in choir to administer the Papal benediction. The
young Queen’s Maids of Honour were the two most lovely girls in
France--Jehanne de Laval, in the suite of Queen Marie, and Agnes Sorel,
in that of Queen Isabelle. It was a singular and delightful coincidence
that these two lovely damsels were in evidence on that auspicious day;
for were they not the charming cynosures respectively of two pairs of
kingly eyes--René and Charles!

The interest and the importance of the celebration was heightened
considerably by the fact that there was a double wedding: Count Ferri
de Vaudémont and Princess Yolande of Sicily-Anjou were united in the
bonds of matrimony immediately after the nuptials of the new Queen.
Fêtes and festivities were carried out right royally for eight whole
days and nights. The “Lists” were held in the great wide Place de
Carrière in Nancy. Charles and René met in amicable conflict, but
it was the former’s lance which was tossed up, and René gained the
guerdon, which he presented gallantly enough to his sister, the Queen
of France. The champion of champions, however, was none other than
Pierre de Luxembourg, the earliest fiancée of Queen Margaret, and he
had the happy satisfaction of receiving the victor’s crest of honour
from her hands--now another’s! Minstrelsy and the stage also lent
their aid to the general rejoicings. King René was already styled
the “Royal Troubadour,” and he rallied his melodious, merry men in a
goodly phalanx, whilst he himself led the music in person and recited
his own new marriage poem. The theatre proper had only very recently
been established in France. Church mysteries and pageant plays had
had their vogue, when, in 1402, Charles VI. granted his charter to
“_La Confrèrerie de la Passion_,”--a company, or guild, of masons,
carpenters, saddlers, and other craftsmen, and women,--which he
established at the village of St. Maur, near Vincennes. These merry
fellows introduced to their distinguished audience, in the Castle of
Nancy, secular travesties of the well-worn religious spectacles, and
won the heartiest applause. King René personally, through the gracious
hands of the royal bride, decorated the actors with gay ribbons and
medallions.

The dress of the right royal company was, as may well be supposed,
sumptuous in the extreme; but among the wearers of rich attire a
pathetic note was struck, when it was mooted that royal Margaret had
been dressed for her bridal by Queen Marie, her aunt, because her
own parents were too much impoverished to supply suitable marriage
robes! The bride’s dress was mainly that worn by Queen Marie herself,
twenty-three years before, at her own nuptials with Charles VII. The
kirtle was of cloth of gold cunningly embroidered with the white
lilies of France--the same for Anjou; the robe of state was of crimson
velvet bordered with ermine, which also formed the trimming of the
stomacher she wore. Her hair was dressed _à l’Angloise_, its rich
golden coils being crowned with a royal diadem, almost the only jewel
of Queen Yolande’s treasury which had not been sold or pawned. The
little Queen was slight of build and short of stature for her age; very
fair of skin, with a peachy blush; her eyes light blue, her hair a
golden auburn; her whole face and figure lent themselves to delightful
expression and graceful pose. Above all, she was very self-possessed,
and gave all beholders the impression of ability and decision beyond
the average.

With respect to King René’s inability to provide a fitting trousseau
for his daughter, there is an entry in the _Comptes de Roy René_ which
indicates that he was not unmindful of the sartorial requirements of
his family. Under date September 11, 1442, is an order, addressed to
Guillaume de la Planche, merchant of Angers, for 11 _aulnes_ of cloth
of gold, embroidered in crimson and pleated, at 30 _écus_ per _aulne_,
with a suite of trimming to cost 30 _livres_. At the same time François
Castargis, furrier of Angers, is directed to supply ten dozen finest
marten skins at a cost of £15 7s. 6d., and to pack and despatch them to
the care of the Seigneur de Precigny at Saumur, “for dresses for Madame
Margaret.” This de Precigny was Bertrand de Beauvau, who married King
René’s natural daughter Blanche d’Anjou.

At the wedding of Henry VI. and Margaret at Tours and Nancy, the
courtiers were very richly attired in short jackets or tunics of
pleated brocade trimmed with silk fringes; their body hose was of
parti-coloured spun silk to match their tunics. Their shoes were made
long, of white kid with high heels, and were laced with golden thread.
Calves where skimpy were padded, and narrow shoulders were puffed
out. They wore long pendent sleeves, pricked and furred. Their hair,
generally worn _à la Nazarene_, hung in thick straight locks upon their
shoulders, cut square over the forehead. A small _berretta_, with a
heron’s plume and a jewelled brooch, completed the costume. Chains of
gold and jewels were worn at will. The ladies of the Court wore short
kirtles or petticoats, with long bunched-up trains of silk brocade
in two contrasting colours; cloth of gold was reserved for dames of
royal degree. Strict rules were observed in the wearing of fur--its
quality and its breadth; ermine was reserved for royalty. Their gloves
were long-fingered, and their shoes long-toed, the points of each
being caught up with thin golden chains to their garters--“_un chose
ridicule et absurde_,” as Paradin wrote. The salient mark adopted
by the ladies of fashion was noted in their coiffures. The popular
name, or, rather, the name of scorn,--thanks to Father Thomas of
Brittany,--for the astounding headgear _à la mode_, “_hennin_,” was
in select circles called _en papillons_--“butterflied.” Some ladies
had double horns like the mitres of Bishops, some had round redoubts
“_comme les donjons_,” some were half-moon shape, and some like hearts,
whilst many goodly dames made themselves still more ridiculous by
wearing miniature windmills! All these erections were made of white
stiffened linen, built up on frameworks of wicker and carton. Over all
_floquarts_,--thin gauze veils,--were gently cast. Collars of jewels
and ropes of pearls were _de rigueur_, and most of the ladies wore
badges of chivalry--the guerdons of their lords and sweethearts. One
very pretty conceit was introduced at the time of Queen Margaret’s
marriage--a dainty holder for the necessary pocket-handkerchief. This
took the shape of a small heart of gold suspended from an enamelled
white _marguerite_, and hung at the side of the jewelled cincture. The
ladies’ shoes were richly embroidered with seed-pearls and gold thread.
Rings were worn outside the gloves.

Among the suite sent by Henry to attend upon his bride were the
Countess of Shrewsbury and the Lady Emma de Scales, with five Barons
and Baronesses of the realm. In attendance, too, was Scrivener William
Andrews, Private Secretary to the King, who acted as juris-consult at
the signing of the marriage registers. In his diary he wrote: “Never
have I seen or heard of a young Princess so greatly loved and admired.”

[Illustration: EMPANELLING THE KNIGHTS BEFORE THE “LISTS,” SAUMUR
TOURNAMENT, 1446

Painted by King René. From “Le Livre des Tournois”

_To face page 268_]

Upon the ninth day after the marriage ceremony Queen Margaret took
a tearful but brave farewell of her fond parents and of the princely
company, and King René committed her proudly, yet regretfully, to the
care of the Marquis of Suffolk. An imposing cavalcade accompanied the
parting Queen; indeed, all Nancy, noble and bourgeois, rich and poor,
turned out to do honour to Her Majesty. King Charles and Queen Marie
went as far as Toul, and then bade their niece adieu. Charles was
strangely sad, and said with a deep-drawn sigh: “I seem to have done
nothing for you, my well-beloved niece, in placing you upon one of the
greatest thrones in Europe, but it certainly is worthy of possessing
you as Queen.” Queen Marie’s farewell was very affecting: “I bid you
God-speed, my best-loved niece. I am sure I do not know what we shall
do without you. I weep for you, my child!”

King René and Queen Isabelle travelled with their dear daughter right
on to Bar-le-Duc, where the cortège was enthusiastically received,
and where a rest was called over the Sunday, and parents and daughter
partook of the Communion. Then, on the morrow, Margaret broke down
completely at the parting, and both René and Isabelle gave way to sobs
and tears. If the prospect of the royal marriage had been pleasant
to them all, its realization and the future filled their hearts with
apprehension. A dearly loved child was now to make her way all alone
among strangers--too young to go so far from home, but too good to err.

“_Je fais peur pour vous, ma fille_,” cried the sorrowing father,
“_en vous plaçant sur un des plus grands trônes de Chrétienté; que le
bon Dieu vous gardiez. Pour moi et pour vôtre mère, nous sommes tous
les deux désolés._”[A] Queen Isabelle’s heart was too full for words.
She folded her child to her bosom, and the two wept together. It was
Margaret who first dried her tears, and said bravely: “_N’ayez aucun
regret pour moi; je serai vôtre fille la plus devouée pour jamais. Si
mon corps veçut en Angleterre, mon âme restera tousjours en France avec
la vôtre._”[B]

    [A] “I am fearful for you, my daughter, in placing you upon
    one of the mightiest thrones in Christendom; may the good God
    protect you. As for me and your mother, we are filled with
    desolation.”

    [B] “Do not feel any regret for me; I shall be always your most
    devoted daughter. If my body dwells in England, my soul shall
    rest always in France with yours.”

Bare-headed, King René stood at the castle portal till Margaret and her
escort had faded from his sight; then he and the Queen shut themselves
up in their apartments and gave way to their pent-up feelings.
Travelling as the Queen of England, Margaret had now for her supporters
her brother, the Duke of Calabria, the Duke of Alençon, and the
courteous Marquis of Suffolk. Leisurely enough the company traversed
the fertile fields of Champagne, ever aiming for the north French
coast. Besides a strong escort of soldiery, in the royal train were
seventeen knights and two esquire-carvers, sixty-five esquires, twenty
grooms, and 174 servitors of all kinds, and with them serving-maids and
dressers. At every stopping-place heartiest greetings awaited the young
Queen, and Princes and nobles knelt to pay their homage. The English
garrisons _en route_ were forward in their loyal salutations; their new
Queen was the pledge of a greatly-yearned-for _entente cordiale_.

At Nantes the Duke of York, King Henry’s near kinsman, and the
representative of the older line of the English Royal House, received
the Queen, and entertained her in the castle of the French Kings. On
March 23 the royal progress ended at Rouen, where a week’s rest was
called. Bicknoke, in his “_Computus_,” has enumerated several curious
items in the bill of costs which covered the lengthy journey from
Lorraine. The Barons and Baronesses of the Queen’s suite received each
four shillings and sixpence a day, the knights had half a crown each a
day, and, at the tail of the following, the grooms were paid no more
than fourpence per diem. At Rouen the Queen paid four shillings and
ninepence for fourteen pairs of shoes to give to certain poor women of
the town. She also made many purchases of second-hand silver plate from
a silversmith, Jean Tubande by name. The articles were chiefly cups and
plates which bore the arms of Henry, Count of Luxembourg, father of her
first fiancé. These escutcheons the Queen had removed, and in place of
them _marguerites_ were engraved. The Queen, moreover, came short of
ready cash, so she pawned some of her real silver wedding presents to
the Marchioness of Suffolk, that she might have the wherewithal for
gifts to the seamen on her transport to England.

The royal party embarked in river boats, and made for Honfleur, where
the _Cokke John_, a great galley, was waiting off the port. Such a
stormy passage as that which was the prelude to Queen Margaret’s
triumphant progress to the English capital had hardly been exceeded for
fury in the memory of the most ancient mariners. Thunder and lightning
and sheets of ice-cold water threatened to destroy the stately craft
and to engulf her lordly fares. After beating about in the Channel
for one whole day and night, with utmost difficulty the harbour of
Porchester was attained on April 10.

It was rather hard upon the Queen’s impoverished exchequer that she
should have been called upon to pay £5 4s. 10d. for her pilot, £13 6s.
8d. for new hawsers, and £9 7s. for alterations and repairs in the
vessel.

The terrified young Queen had never beheld the angry sea before nor
tasted its misery, and she was utterly prostrated in her state-room,
and wept and cried for her mother and to God for help. The Marquis
raised her inanimate form gently in his arms, and wading bravely to
land through the scudding sea-foam, he bore his precious burden,
marching manfully along the fresh-rush-strewn streets of the little
fishing town. King Henry was at Winchester, anxiously awaiting
couriers who should gladden his ears by the news of his royal bride’s
arrival, and he galloped off at once to greet her at the Goddes
House of Southwick, whither she was borne for rest and treatment.
Unhappily, Margaret had contracted some infectious complaint,--perhaps
chicken-pox,--and, very tantalizing for herself and Henry, their
meeting was postponed until her illness had abated.

At the priory church of St. Mary and All Saints the ceremony of the
English espousal was celebrated by Cardinal Kemp, and Henry placed
upon Margaret’s finger the ring which he had worn at his coronation in
Paris eighteen years before. If the King was charmed by the portrait
of his Queen, he was transported with joy and passion when he beheld
and embraced beauteous Margaret. The half of her excellence had
not been revealed in pigment; she was more, much more, lovely and
attractive than he had imagined. Preparations for the state nuptials
were hurried forward, and also for the coronation of the Queen, and
Henry with his bride rowed on to Southampton, saluted as they passed
by all the shipping in the Solent. Two Genoese galleys in particular
were gaily festooned and manned, and as the royal barge swept by seven
trumpeters blew a wedding fanfare, and then the crews shouted their
loud “_Evviva_.” Margaret insisted on sending for the two captains of
the foreign crafts, and gave them £1 3s. 4d. “for plaieing so merrielie
my musique”--so the Queen phrased it. Another heavy item in the cost of
her progress was her doctor’s fee; Maistre François of Nancy claimed £5
9s. 2d. for his professional services upon the journey. A further delay
was caused in the completion of the nuptial arrangements by reason of
the poverty of the Queen’s wardrobe. Her trousseau was quite unworthy
of her rank, and Henry, although himself as poor as a King might be,
despatched messengers to London to summon Margaret Chamberlayne,
a famous tire-worker, and a number of craftswomen with sumptuous
materials for the wedding gown. The King, indeed, had to pawn his own
jewellery and plate to furnish sufficient funds for the double ceremony.

Henry of England and Margaret of Anjou were married by Cardinal
Beaufort in the abbey church of Titchfield on April 22. The bride was
just sixteen years of age--already a woman, but with the heart of a
man. Most extraordinary presents were showered upon the young Queen: a
lion in a cage, a score of hedgehogs, a dozen thick all-wool blankets,
two tuns of English wine, a suit of bronze silver armour, several
chairs,--two of state,--five young lambs’ fleeces, and so forth. Then
the royal progress began to the capital. Halfway between Fareham and
London the Duke of Gloucester, with 500 armed and superbly mounted
retainers, greeted the King and Queen, and conducted them to the palace
at Greenwich. Triumphal arches spanned the road, and maidens scattered
spring blossoms before the royal couple.

On May 30 the King and Queen quitted Blackheath for Westminster,
passing many notable pageant spectacles--“Noah’s Ark,” “Grace,”
“God’s Chancellor,” “St. Margaret,” the “Heavenly Jerusalem,” and so
forth--all marshalled in their honour. Somewhat wearied by the dust and
the shaking of her chariot, and deafened by the plaudits of the crowds,
Margaret was handed down by the King, at the great west door of the
royal abbey. Her entry was accompanied by minstrelsy, for King René had
sent over for the ceremonial a large company of the troubadours and
glee maidens of Bar, Lorraine, and Provence, under the orders of his
Groom of the Stole, Sire Jehan d’Escose. The cost of this expedition
ran up to nearly £100, a great sum for the poor King of Sicily to
disburse.

King Henry spared no expense, but ran still more heavily into debt to
make the crowning of his Queen magnificent. Rarely had such a gallant
and splendid company gathered for a royal wedding. Everybody wore
the Queen’s badge--a red-tipped daisy. Three days were set apart for
tournaments between Palace Yard and Broad Sanctuary, whereat the new
Queen presided, wearing the Queen-consort’s jewelled crown of England.

Margaret was now _de facto_ and _de jure_ Queen of England and mistress
of her destiny--her husband’s, also. What a unique elevation it was
for a young girl of sixteen, all alone among strangers, rivals, and
adventurers! A false step seemed inevitable; indeed, absolute rectitude
and tactfulness of conduct under the exigeant circumstances which
surrounded her would have tried the grit of the stoutest mind and the
grasp of the strongest hand. Dubbed “_La Française_” by men and women
jealous of the King and of herself, she had to steer her course amid
endless pitfalls placed in her way. Warfare and politics were the two
chief contentions of the day. As for the first, she (Margaret) was its
mascot, and warriors laid down their arms at her feet; but with respect
to the wordy warfare of parties and their intrigues and plots the young
Queen danced upon the thinnest ice, and unconsciously she slipped.
She gave herself into the hands, quite naturally, of the party which
held first to the King and herself, as opposed to that which sought
initially self-interest. The Duke of Gloucester was the leader of the
loyal section of her lieges, and to him the young Queen turned for
light and leading.

Very soon the impress of Margaret’s strong character made itself felt
in every quarter. She spared neither the Duke of York himself, nor any
other rival to her own Lord and King; but what could a child still in
her teens do against the cabals of crafty and influential foes? Henry
was as weak as water; he hated political questions, caring very much
more, of course, for peaceful intercourse with his fascinating spouse,
and for the delights of leisure and learning, than for the turmoil of
Parliament and the vexed questions of the day. York held Henry in his
hand, but Margaret was a doughty nut to crack, and she kept him in his
proper place.

Letters written from Sheen and Windsor to Queen Isabelle by her loving
daughter show how happy was her state. Henry’s passionate love she
returned as passionately, and their loves made for peace both at home
and abroad. Literary pursuits and benevolent aims were in both their
minds: the King founded Eton College, and King’s College, Cambridge,
in 1446; the Queen, Queen’s College, Cambridge. Together they invited
Italian, French, and Flemish craftsmen to settle in England, and teach
their ignorant but not unwilling subjects some of the arts of peace.
The poor were relieved, the naked clothed, the hungry fed; but when all
estates of the realm seemed secure and in prosperity, the dark spectre
of sedition rose at the beck and call of the Duke of York. King Henry
had to rouse himself and lay low the insurrection of Jack Cade and
30,000 mislead Kentish men. This was the beginning of troubles.


II.

For some little time Margaret had detected signs in her consort’s
speech and manner that caused her the gravest solicitude. She had
witnessed the mental depression and lassitude of her uncle, the King
of France, and she had grieved for her beloved aunt’s (Queen Marie’s)
anxieties. The insanity of King Charles VI., too, had been one of the
sad family histories of her school days in Anjou. Now she was faced
with a trouble far away more terrible than any of these. In 1453 the
King’s memory began to fail, he was bereft of feeling, and gradually he
lost his power of walking. The malady, indeed, had shown itself during
the Christmas revels at Greenwich. The Queen was already broken-hearted
by the news she received from France of the critical state of her
mother’s health, and when, on March 5, she heard of her death, poor
Margaret was indeed disconsolate. In pain she turned to Henry for
comfort, but he failed to comprehend her sorrow. All around were men
and women intriguing against herself and him; alone she had to bear her
trouble, and the trouble was intensified in pathos by the fact that she
was at last enceinte. Would her child be stillborn, she asked herself
many a time; how could she expect otherwise when so utterly cast down?
Then she realized the loneliness of a throne. The menace of the Duke
of York was a scourge to wear her down, and his denunciation of her
barrenness an unspeakable affront.

Crushed indeed she was, and yet she had to play the man; for she was
both King and Queen of England, and while she lived she determined
that none should sap her authority. Henry subsided into imbecility,
but Margaret’s will matched and vanquished York’s, although he was
proclaimed “Protector of the Realm and Church.” The year sped on, but
it brought joy to the sad heart of the lonely Queen, and the whole
nation shared her happiness. On October 11 she brought forth her
first-born child, a son and heir, a fact of the vastest importance for
all concerned, friend and foe. York at once denounced the child for a
changeling; but the nation would not have it so, and he was christened
Edward publicly at Westminster, and created Prince of Wales, so named
because his birthday was that of the holy King St. Edward.

Alas! the King could not be roused sufficiently to recognize his son,
nor, indeed, his wife, and this was construed by York and his party
as proof conclusive against the truth of the Queen’s accouchement. At
the same time they threw out insinuations against her character with
respect to relations with many prominent men of her entourage.

The chivalrous spirit of the Queen felt York’s false imputations
crushingly. Her convalescence was retarded, and when she came to be
churched at the Abbey of Westminster, she was almost too prostrate to
go through the ceremony. Like the noble woman that she was, she roused
herself; and when she beheld the distinguished and numerous suite
awaiting her,--the forty most influential peeresses in the land,--she
took heart, and was herself once more. She assumed her costly churching
robe. It was of white, gold-embroidered silk and was bordered with 500
sable pelts, and it had cost £554 16s. 8d.

The Duke’s despicable conduct was flouted when Christmas next came
round, for on the Feast of the Nativity the Queen presented herself
holding her babe in her arms before the King. To her unspeakable joy,
Henry held out his hands and drew her and the infant Prince to his
breast, and out loud thanked God for the recovery of his reason and
acknowledged the child as his. York was away on mischief bent, and
Margaret did not fail to make use of the opportunity for checkmating
his unworthy aspirations. She took the King to the Parliament, then
sitting, and at his command and in his presence the decree appointing
York Protector of the kingdom was revoked, and Henry, Margaret, and
Edward, assumed their orthodox positions. This step was the first
move in the great war game which devastated the whole realm, and
ended, alas! in the absolute undoing of the King, the Queen, and the
Prince. York, hearing what had transpired at Westminster, hurried
from the Welsh border with 5,000 armed followers. The King met him at
St. Albans, and ordered him to disband his troop and salute the royal
banner. The Duke refused to obey only on impossible conditions.

But what of King René and Queen Isabelle? Their hearts were torn
asunder, we may be sure, at the contemplation of their Margaret’s
peril. They were powerless to assist her save by their whole soul’s
sympathy; besides, they were faced by a contrariety of facts. The
all too brief “truce of Margaret” was broken in 1449, and René was
summoned to support King Charles and fight against the servants of her
consort,--her subjects too,--for, spite of being “_La Française_,” she
had won all hearts in bonnie England. A beautiful girl and a brave is
unmatchable! Fortune of war favoured the French-Anjou colours, and
Charles became master of Normandy and all English-held North France.
Guienne, too, was yielded to the valiant young Duke of Calabria.
Moreover, the war-galleys of “_Le Petit Roy de Bourges_” scoured the
Channel, and gained prizes and renown for Charles and René off the
English coast.

Somerset’s defeat was a loss of credit, however, to Queen Margaret,
and York of course made the most of it. He boasted that, “as Henry was
fitter for a cell than a throne, and had transferred his authority
to Margaret, the affairs of the kingdom could not be managed by a
Frenchwoman, who cared only for her own power and profit.” To placate
this arrogance the Queen made a tactless move: she named the Duke
Governor of Ireland, thus adding to his prestige and opportunity.
Talbot’s death at Albany further weakened the King’s authority and
Margaret’s strategy.

Upon the death of Queen Isabelle, so deeply mourned, not alone by
her daughter in England, but by all the chivalry of France, René
devolved his authority in Bar and Lorraine upon Jean, Duke of
Calabria, intending to withdraw gradually from the responsibilities of
government. His efforts, however, were discounted by the entreaties
of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and his Florentine allies, that
he should again take up arms and appear in the field against King
Alfonso of Aragon and the Venetians who were supporting him. René was
victorious, but the palm of triumph was withered in his hand by the
news that reached him on his way back to France: civil war had broken
out in England, and Margaret was in command of the Lancastrians.
Margaret, so lovely, so cultivated, and so fearless, was adding lustre
to the heroic deeds of the House of Anjou--but what terrible risks she
ran! The initial victory at Wakefield was tarnished by the irony of
circumstances, and, though decreed by her in the moment of her emphatic
triumph, York’s grey head speared upon the walls of York must have
shocked her sense of magnanimity.

[Illustration: KING RENÉ WRITING HIS POEM, “LE MORTEFIEMENT DE VAINE
PLAISANCE”

From the Frontispiece painted by King René

_To face page 280_]

Margaret led her troops in person,--they worshipped the ground she
trod,--but her splendid courage was of no avail at the second battle
of St. Albans. Henry was deposed, and York’s eldest son, the Earl
of March, was proclaimed King as Edward IV. Margaret never accepted
defeat; she quailed not, but off she went with her little son, who was
never parted from her side, to Yorkshire and the North.

“Love Lady-Day” was the quaint if somewhat hypocritical name bestowed
by general consent upon March 25, 1458. On that auspicious Lady-Day a
very notable assemblage gathered together at the Palace of Westminster.
The Queen had personally summoned the leaders of the rival factions
to meet the King and accompany him and herself in procession to St.
Paul’s, to crave from on high the spirit of conciliation. The streets
were crowded with loyal and appreciative citizens, whose delight knew
no bounds as they witnessed pass before them the King in his crown, his
horse’s bridle held by a “White Rose” knight and a “Red.” Then followed
the Queen in a litter, escorted by the new Duke of York, Somerset hand
in hand with Salisbury, Essex with Warwick, and others in order of
precedence. No man was armed, no woman feared, and joy-bells tossed
themselves over and over again, swung by stalwart ringers. _Te Deum_
was sung, but as the progress turned westward rumblings of thunder made
wise-acres shake their heads,--and in sooth they had good cause, as
matters chanced,--at the dire omen.

Warwick was the _bête noire_ of the reconciliation. By instinct and
preference a plotter-royal, he incurred the Queen’s suspicion by a
system of sea-piracy he established, and because of inconsiderate
language about the elder line of Plantagenet. An unfortunate street
fracas led to Warwick’s imprisonment. He was too proud to plead
guilty, the Queen too jealous to release him. York and Salisbury at
once enrolled their retainers, and stood ready to deliver Warwick.
The fruits of the reconciliation fell instantly to the ground, and
the complement of “Love Lady-Day” was renunciation and conflict _à
l’outrance_. Before the fresh outbreak of hostilities, whilst the
King retired for rest and quietude to St. Albans Abbey, the Queen,
accompanied by the baby Prince, made a progress through the Midlands.
The child’s winning ways touched every heart, and when he distributed
to struggling hands everywhere the cognizance of his patron saint,
St. Edward,--little silver swans,--everybody swore to be his henchman
and to stand by Henry and Margaret. Salisbury hung upon the skirts
of the Queen’s cortège, and Margaret inquired his business. His curt
reply determined her to demand his body, alive or dead. At Bloreheath
adherents of both sides met, and then Margaret had her baptism of
blood; her own was tinged with warriors’ strains from Charlemagne of
old, and in her veins the old lion sprang up phœnix-like. Margaret saw
red. She offered two courses only to her rebellious and disaffected
subjects, submission or death--no quarter. Alas! her experience was the
common one, the faithlessness of friends.

The Battle of Northampton, on July 10, 1460, was lost by the
treachery of Lord Grey de Ruthen. The Queen and Prince were posted
upon an eminence to view the fight, and her military instinct detected
the base defection whereby Warwick was enabled to take the King’s
army in the rear. Henry was captured before her eyes, and Margaret,
powerless to retrieve the disaster, fled with her boy at once to the
North. By a circuitous route they reached the impregnable walls of
Harlech Castle. Henry was led in mock triumph to the Tower, whence
Warwick had the effrontery to demand the custody of the persons of the
Queen and Prince. Margaret expressed her indignation at the insult
emphatically, but, waiting not to bandy useless words, she hurried off
to Scotland to seek sympathy and assistance. Meanwhile the Duke of
York formally claimed the crown. Margaret’s response was impressive.
Without difficulty she roused Scottish enthusiasm,--generally so slow
to move,--and, sweeping across the border, she gathered in her train
an army of 60,000 men, and appeared before the gates of York. There
she called a plenary council of lords, to whom she expressed her
determination “to rest not till I have entered London and set free the
King.”

York, taken by surprise, hastened to meet the valiant Queen, and found
her encamped at Wakefield. Warned of his approach, she sent heralds to
his quarters, who in her name defied the Duke “to meet her in honest,
open fight.” He held back, and then she poured the vials of her scorn
upon his head: “Doth want of courage,” she exclaimed, “allow thee to
be browbeaten by a woman--fie on thee, thou traitor!” The battle was
joined on December 30, and gained in less than half an hour. A troop
of horse, headed by young Lord Clifford,--and followed immediately by
the Queen, mounted and armed,--made an impetuous dash to where the
Duke’s standard hung heavy in the still, damp air. It they captured,
and forthwith threw it over Margaret’s knees, and with his sword
Clifford struck the rebel leader down from his horse, and slew him as
he lay at Margaret’s feet. In a trice he had severed the head of her
mortal enemy, and upon his knee he offered the ghastly trophy to his
Queen. “Madam,” he said, “the war is over; here is the King’s ransom!”
The Queen turned sick at the terrible sight, and hysterically sobbed
and laughed alternately, and she screamed aloud when soldiers stuffed
the blood-dripping head into a common chaff-sack. Lord Clifford she
knighted on the spot, using his own gory sword; then she ordered York’s
head to be carried off to York, and placed on the city’s southern
gateway.

Salisbury was also _hors de combat_, wounded and a prisoner, and by the
Queen’s orders he was beheaded on the field of battle,--for he would
not yield his sword and word,--and his head was placed by the side of
his leader’s. In a moment, too, of justifiable vengeance, the Queen
directed that space should be left on that carrion portal for two other
traitors’ heads--Warwick’s and March’s. “There,” she said, “they all
four shall dangle till the rain and the sun and the birds have consumed
them--warnings to all and sundry who shall hereafter raise voice and
hand against their liege.”

Margaret pushed south, and at St. Albans, on February 17, met Warwick,
with the King in his camp. The issue was soon decided; 2,000 Yorkists
were slain, and Henry and Margaret were united once more. Lord Montague
discovered him alone seated under a tree. Clifford galloped off to the
Queen to tell her the good news, and, bereft of kirtle and veil and
every sign of royalty, she rushed as she was to where the King was
awaiting her. He bade her kneel before he embraced her, and gave her
then and there the knightly accolade, as well as to his son, who had
run as hard as he could after his mother, and he also knighted sixty
worthy, loyal gentlemen. All entered the abbey church for _Te Deum_
and Benediction, and then the royal pair sought the monastery for rest
and food. Leaving Henry at his devotions, and the Prince to cheer him,
Margaret again mounted her charger and marched straight on London,
where York’s eldest son, Edward, Earl of March, a lad of eighteen,
had been proclaimed King as Edward IV. Perhaps over-confident, and at
all events uncompromising in her intention to punish the disloyal and
rebel citizens, she failed to post her army advantageously, although
she had 60,000 men against Warwick’s 40,000. At Towton the fates were
once more against her, and she, with the King and the Prince, fled for
their lives to Newcastle, and over the border to the friendly Court
of the Queen Regent, Margaret. Henry was established in royal state
at Kirkcudbright, and the Queen and Prince at Dunfermline, and there
the little fellow, just eight years of age, was betrothed to the young
King’s sister, Margaret.

Margaret was really happy in her new home, and, resourceful as she was
and never cast down, she turned her attention to peaceful pursuits, and
in particular interested herself in the local industry of wool-weaving.
She had seen her father’s and her mother’s interest, in her happy days
in Lorraine and Anjou, in the craftsmen and craftswomen about them,
and her own skilful fingers had busied themselves in homely, peaceful
avocations. Margaret endeared herself to her Fifeshire friends, as she
usually did to all who were fortunate enough to be thrown into contact
with her, and they sang of her:

      “God bless Margaret of Anjou,
      For she taught Dunfermline how to sew.”

It was said, too, of Margaret, that “if she had not been destined to
play the rôle of Bellona, she would have glorified that of Minerva.”
The Earl of March,--to whom she never allowed the style of Edward
IV.,--was wont to repeat his quaint joke: “Margaret is more to be
feared when a fugitive than all the leaders of Lancaster put together!”

On April 16, 1462, Queen Margaret bade adieu to her consort at
Kirkcudbright, and with her son and suite, in four well-found Scottish
galleys, set sail for France. She landed at Ecluse in Brittany, after
more perils on the sea, and was cordially welcomed by Duke Francis,
who gave her 12,000 _livres_. Thence she made straight to Chinon,--of
happy memories,--to interview King Louis, who had just been crowned at
Reims, upon the death of his father, Charles VII. There she was folded
in the loving arms of her dear aunt, Queen Marie; and what a meeting
that was for both royal ladies! They had not seen each other since that
auspicious wedding-day sixteen years before. Then they were both in
the heyday of prosperity; now both were crushed by Providence--Marie
flouted by her ill-conditioned, jealous daughter-in-law, Charlotte de
Savoy, now Queen-consort of France, and Margaret a fugitive!

Louis played a double game--a cruel one indeed, and insincere so
far as Margaret was concerned. He spoke to her fairly, but his mind
was with the usurping King of England. Under one pretext or another
he delayed his reply to her plea for assistance, but at length, in
desperation, Margaret pledged Jersey with him for 2,000 French bowmen.
King René was in Provence, but, taking a hint from Louis that his
presence would be undesirable just then in Anjou, he sent for his
daughter to join him at Aix. This was impossible; for Margaret time was
all too valuable, and she set sail for Scotland on October 10. With her
went a few single-hearted knights, but of all the hosts of admirers
and loyal followers of sixteen years before, only one of mark wore his
badge of chivalry consistently--the gallant and accomplished Pierre de
Brézé, a _preux chevalier_ indeed, the forerunner of Bayart, and like
him “_sans peur et sans reproche_.”

Again the elements were not only unpropitious, but malevolent. Escaping
the vigilance of Edward’s cruisers, and the rebel guns of Tynemouth,
basely trained upon their Queen, her ships were wrecked on Holy Island.
There 500 of her troops were massacred, and Margaret and de Brézé, and
a very meagre following, put to sea in a fisherman’s open boat which
landed them on Bamborough sands. The banner of Henry of Lancaster,
once more raised aloft by Margaret, magnet-like drew all the northern
counties, and in spite of Somerset’s desertion the Queen soon found
herself at the head of a formidable army, with the King beside her and
the Prince. Once more at Hexham fickle fortune failed the intrepid
Queen. Henry was again a captive, but Margaret and Edward made good
their escape over the Scottish border.

How often, when human affairs appear most desperate, and all hope and
effort are thrown away, help comes from some unexpected quarter! So
it was in Queen Margaret’s experience. There is a romantic tale with
respect to her flight from Hexham’s stricken field--the story of the
robber. Whether one or more outlaws waylaid and robbed the fugitives
it matters not, but, stripped of everything but the clothes they wore,
Queen and Prince were in dismal straits. Wonder of wonders! a messenger
followed Margaret from no less a person than the Duke of Burgundy,
the inveterate enemy of her house, the friend and ally of the English
in France. The message was in effect an invitation to the Queen and
Prince to Flanders--the splendid appanage of ducal Burgundy. Margaret’s
implacable foes,--the winds and seas,--were waiting for their prey, and
nearly secured their quarry as she tossed to and fro across the wild
North Sea on her way to meet Philippe. Landing on the Flemish coast
on July 31,--when storm and tempest should never have appeared,--with
utmost difficulty, the Queen presented a sorry figure. No badge or
symbol of royalty marked her worn-out figure; she was clad meanly in a
coarse short worsted skirt--_robette_--without chemise or shawl, her
stockings low down on her heels, her hair dishevelled and unveiled. Who
could have recognized in that chastened traveller “the loveliest woman
in Christendom”?

True to his loyal devotion, Sieur Pierre de Brézé was with his
Queen poor as herself, he had, he said, “spent 50,000 crowns for
nothing”--and a faithful valet, Louis Carbonelle, and no more than
seven women-dresses. At once the Duke was apprised of Margaret’s
coming; but, being on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Boulogne, he sent
his apologies by Philippe Pot, Seigneur de la Roche and a Knight of
the Golden Fleece, bidding the Queen welcome, and saying that he would
present his homage to her shortly if she would proceed direct to Bruges.

That progress was a nightmare, an “Inferno,” a masquerade--what you
will: the Queen of England clad in rags, her hair untied, seated in a
common country bullock-cart, drawn by a pair of sorry steeds, mocked
all the way along as “_Une Merrie Mol!_” “_Une Naufragée!_” “_Une
Sorcière de Vent!_” The Comte de Charolois, heir to the duchy, met her
Majesty at the _digue_, saluted her with all reverence, and conducted
her to the Castle of St. Pol. On the morrow the Duke of Burgundy
arrived, and at once went to the Queen’s lodgings to pay his homage.
Right in the middle of the street, where Margaret stood to greet him,
with a courtly bow he swept the ground with the drooping plume of his
_berretta_, whilst the Queen curtsied in her abbreviated gown twice
majestically. Never was there a finer piece of royal burlesque enacted!

Margaret caught the Duke by the arm as he was about to give the kiss
of etiquette. “Thanks, my cousin,” she said; “now I am, perhaps,
in no fit mind for compliments. I seek your aid for Henry and our
son, and I beseech you, by the love of Our Lady, not to credit the
abominable tales which have been circulated touching me.” The Duke
did not commit himself, but generously gave his “sweet cousin” 2,000
golden crowns,--wherewith “to fit your Majesty with proper raiment,”
he said,--and a fine diamond to wear for him. The next day the Duchess
of Bourbon, Philippe’s sister, visited Queen Margaret, and in her she
found a sincere and sympathizing confidante. She set before the Duchess
all the sad facts of her impoverished condition, and told her all about
the hardships she and her spouse and son had met with in England. “We
were reduced,” she said, “on one occasion to one herring among three,
and not more bread than would suffice for five days’ nourishment.”
She went on to say that once at Mass, at Dunfermline, she had no coin
for the offertory, and she asked an archer of the King of Scotland,
kneeling near her, for a farthing, which he most reluctantly gave her.

“Alas!” replied the weeping Duchess, “no Queen save your Majesty has
been so hardly dealt with by Providence; but now we must offer you,
sweet cousin, some consolation for your sufferings.” One more affecting
speech of the heroic Queen must be recorded. “When on the day of my
espousal,” she said, “I gathered the rose of England, I was quite well
aware that I should have to wear it whole with all its thorns!”

The Duchess, true to her word, organized splendid fêtes at the Castle
of St. Pol in honour of the royal refugees, and Margaret, now attired
as became her lofty station, put on one side her cruel anxieties, and
yielded herself to the pleasures and humours of the festivities. They
put her in mind of the gay tournaments in her happy home--the Court of
her good father, King René.

Henry was all the while a prisoner in the Tower, and Margaret’s tender
heart bled on his account. She for the moment was without resources,
and she had to bide her time. She knew that that time would come, and
never for a moment did she lend herself to unprofitable despair. The
Duke stood by her, a friend in need, and bestowed both money and an
escort upon his royal visitor. In the spring of 1463 she and the Prince
were welcomed in Bar-le-Duc by King René and his Court, though it cost
Margaret a pang to see her one-time Maid of Honour, Jehanne de Laval,
in her dear mother’s place.

Six months passed all too swiftly under the hospitable roofs of her
brother Jean, Duke of Calabria, and now actual Duke of Lorraine as
well, and of her sister Yolande, Countess of Vaudémont. Then widowed
Queen Marie sent an urgent summons for her favourite niece to pay her
a visit at Amboise in Touraine, and there most happily Margaret forgot
her troubles, and looked more hopefully than ever to the future.

King René’s affairs were in hopeless confusion, and his interests and
resources were drained by his son’s campaign in Italy. He could offer
nothing but a loving father’s whole-hearted love and protection to his
unfortunate daughter and his little grandson, the pride and joy of
his life. He breathed out his deep feelings in two elegant canticles
eloquent of Margaret’s woes. His example set all the poets singing
sweetly of the Lancastrian Queen; her beauty and her accomplishments,
her troubles and her fortitude, appealed to them mightily. They sought,
too, to cheer the riven soul of their liege lord and poet leader:

      “Rouse thee, King René! rouse thee, good René!
        Let not sorrow all thy spirits beguile.
      Thy dear daughter, brave spouse of King Henry,
        Tho’ sadly she wept still she coaxes a smile.”

All that René was able to do for his royal daughter was to establish
her and her son at his castle of Kuerere, near St. Mihil’s by Verdun in
Lorraine, with 2,000 _livres_ to carry on the education of the Prince.
Sir John Fortescue, a soldier of fortune, was appointed his tutor. He
was a devoted adherent of the Red Rose. “We are,” he wrote, “reduced to
great poverty, and the Queen with difficulty sustaineth us in meat and
drink.”

Louis XI., who had refused to have anything to do with his unfortunate
cousin, Queen Margaret, at last agreed to meet her at Tours in
December, 1469, and with her he invited King René; Jean, Duke of
Calabria and Lorraine; and her sister Yolande, with her husband,
Ferri, Count of Vaudémont, “to consider,” as he put it, “what may or
may not be done.” Louis treated Margaret with scant ceremony. Whilst
discussions were going on, startling news came from England which very
much altered the situation. The North and Midlands had again risen
against Edward, and Warwick had gone over to the Lancastrians. Edward
was a prisoner at Middleham Castle, and Warwick was virtually King
of England! The diversion was, however, of short duration, for in a
few weeks Edward managed to escape. And now it was Warwick’s turn to
fly. He sought the French Court, and confided in Louis, who, sinister
and scheming as he was always, saw a way to help Margaret and still
be on the winning side. The King proposed an interview between the
Queen and the Earl, with a view to a reconciliation. Margaret rejected
indignantly the proposal. “The Earl of Warwick,” she exclaimed, “has
pierced my heart with wounds that can never be healed. They will
bleed till the Day of Judgment. He hath done things which I can never
forgive.”

[Illustration: AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS

From a Miniature, MS. Fourteenth Century, “Livre des Proprietez des
Choses”

British Museum

_To face page 292._]

The King was, however, determined that his idea of a _rapprochement_
between the Lancastrians and the wing of the Yorkists who looked to
Warwick for light and leading should be realized, and he urged his view
so emphatically upon Margaret that at last she agreed to meet Warwick,
but upon one condition: that “he shall unsay before your Majesty and
the King of Sicily, my father, all that he has foully uttered about me
and the Prince, and shall swear to repeat the same at Paul’s Cross in
London later.”

Warwick, to the amazement of Louis, agreed to this condition, and
forthwith presented himself most humbly to the Queen upon his knees.
Swordless, gloveless, and uncovered, he sought pardon for his evil
conduct, and prayed her to accept him as her true henchman and devoted
lieutenant. Margaret seemed stunned by this extraordinary _volte-face_,
and kept the Earl upon his knees quite a long time before she
vouchsafed a reply. At last she extended her hand for him to kiss, and
he, further, servilely kissed the fur hem of her robe. Then he laid his
plans before the august company for releasing the King and placing him
once more upon his throne. He next called on King Louis and King René
to stand surety for the performance of his purpose. He said he could
command immediately 50,000 men to fight under his orders, and he craved
the presence of the Queen in the saddle by his side.

With Warwick was the Earl of Oxford and other leaders of his party,
who all knelt in homage to the Queen and craved her clemency. To Oxford
she at once extended her hand. “Your pardon, my lord,” she said, “is
right easy. What wrongs you have done me are cancelled by what you
have borne for King Henry.” The conference at Tours was adjourned, and
resumed at the Castle of Angers; and then Louis had another startling
proposition to lay before Queen Margaret: no less than the betrothal
of Prince Edward,--now a well-grown and handsome lad of seventeen,--to
the Earl of Warwick’s daughter Anne! Margaret flared up at once.
“Impossible!” she said. “What! will he indeed give his daughter to my
royal son, whom he has so often branded as the offspring of adultery or
fraud! By God’s name, that can never be!”

For a whole fortnight Margaret stood her ground. She could not agree
to this extraordinary proposal; but then the peaceful, fatherly
insistence of René caused her to relent, but not before she roundly
rated her good sire for his pusillanimity and too ready credence.
Meanwhile the Countess of Warwick and her daughter had arrived at
Amboise, and had been most ostentatiously received by King Louis.
Then happened, by happy coincidence, an event vastly important to the
King of France--the birth of an heir. Queen Charlotte was delivered
of a son, the future Charles VIII., on June 30. Nothing would content
the King but Prince Edward and Anne Neville must be among the child’s
sponsors. At the same time, to influence Queen Margaret, Warwick, at
Louis’s suggestion, made a solemn asseveration in the cathedral church
of Angers: “Upon this fragment of the True Cross I promise to be true
to King Henry VI. of England; to Queen Margaret, his spouse; and to
the Prince of Wales, his true and only son; and to go back at once to
England, raise 50,000 men, and restore the King to his honours.” Louis
gave him 46,000 gold crowns and 2,000 French archers, and at the same
time asked Queen Margaret to accept the charge of his young daughter
Anne whilst he was away.

Margaret could not stand out any longer, and so, immediately after the
baptismal ceremony,--where she herself held her little royal nephew at
the font,--Edward, Prince of Wales, and Anne Neville were betrothed
with gorgeous ceremonial in the Chapel of St. Florentin, within the
Castle of Amboise, in the presence of nearly all the Sovereigns of
France and their Courts.

“The Prince,” so said the chroniclers, “is one of the handsomest and
most accomplished Princes in Europe, tall, fair like his mother, and
with her soft voice and courteous carriage, was well pleased with his
pretty and sprightly fiancée.” People sought to belittle the match, and
called it a _mésalliance_; but the bride’s great-grandmother was Joanna
Beaufort, daughter of Prince John of Ghent, Edward III.’s third son.
She married the Earl of Westmoreland. In Queen Margaret’s estimation,
what certainly did weigh very considerably was the fact that her
daughter-in-law-to-be was one of the wealthiest heiresses in England.
The august company went on to Angers after the double ceremony, at the
desire of Queen Margaret, who insisted that a Prince of Wales could
only be married in his ancestral dominions. She cited the intention of
King René to leave to her and her heirs the duchy of Anjou, and so she
claimed it as already English territory. Louis acceded to her whim. He
could afford to wait and watch the course of events. The marriage of
Prince Edward and the Lady Anne was consequently solemnized, on August
15, in the Cathedral of St. Maurice, which had witnessed so many royal
functions.

The Earl of Warwick, accompanied by the Duke of Clarence, grandson
of King Henry IV., departed immediately for England, to make good his
brave words and prove his loyalty. His proclamation in favour of Henry,
Margaret, and Edward, produced an immense sensation, and in a couple of
days he found himself in command of 70,000 men, all crying, “A Henry! A
Henry!” Edward IV. immediately left the capital and sought the friendly
shores of Holland, and Warwick was, without a blow being struck, master
of the kingdom. His first step was to send the Bishop of Winchester to
the Tower, to clothe King Henry in regal robes, and conduct him with
the Sovereign’s escort to the Palace of Westminster. On October 13 the
King went to St. Paul’s, wearing once more his crown. Louis ordered
_Te Deum_ to be sung in every church in France, and went in person to
the Castle of Saumur to salute Queen Margaret. Early in November the
Queen, with the Prince and Princess of Wales and a very distinguished
following, set out for Paris, on their way to London. Every town
through which the royal cortège passed was gaily decorated, and the
hearty plaudits of the thronging inhabitants were mingled with the joy
peals of all the bells.

Harfleur once more was fixed upon as the port of passage, and once
more the Channel churned and a tempest fell upon the royal flotilla.
Nobody has been able to explain why Margaret of England was so
persistently persecuted by the divinities of the weather. Twice they
put back to port, and then, after tossing about for sixteen whole days
and nights, they made Weymouth,--a passage ordinarily of no more than
as many hours,--and landed on April 13. That day was indeed ill-omened
for the cause Queen Margaret had at heart, and for which she had
suffered such appalling vicissitudes. The Battle of Barnet was fought
and lost; Warwick was killed, and King Henry was again a prisoner.
Verily, Queen Margaret’s star was a blaze of disasters!

The terrible news staggered the courageous Queen; she swooned, but
soon recovered her usual equanimity, although out of the bitterness
of her soul she sobbed: “Better die right out, methinks, than exist
so insecurely!” She appeared to have no plan of action, for such a
disaster seemed to be impossible; so, to gain time for thought and
effort, she moved herself and those she loved into the safe sanctuary
of Beaulieu Abbey. There Somerset and many other notable fugitives
forgathered. To them she counselled retreat--“Till Providence,” she
said, “ordereth better luck.” The Prince now for the first time
asserted himself, and, with his mother’s daring, gave an emphatic “No.”
At Bath a goodly array of soldiers rallied to the royal standard, and
Margaret determined to cross the Severn and join her forces to Jasper
Tudor’s army of sturdy loyal Welshmen. The Duke of Gloucester opposed
her advance, and so she turned aside to Tewkesbury, and there encamped.

The morrow (May 4, 1471) was to be the darkest in all the chequered
career of Margaret of Anjou and England. Sweet Pentecost though it was,
the spirit of comfort belied, failed the fated Queen once more. With
early dawn fell aslant the springtide sunbeams a rain of feathered
hail. Battle was joined, each man at his post--save one, the perjured
Lord Wenlock. His command, in the centre of Queen Margaret’s forces,
lacked its leader, and Somerset rode off to find him. At a low brothel
he discovered the miscreant drinking with and fondling loose wenches.
“Traitor!” cried the Duke; “die, thou scoundrel!” And he clove his
head in two. This defection caused irretrievable disaster; still, the
Prince of Wales did prodigies of valour, and so did many more; but he
was felled from his horse, and the “Hope of England” was lead captive
to victorious Edward’s tent. Received with every mark of discourtesy,
the heart of the chivalrous young Prince must have quailed as he stood
before the arch-enemy of his house, but he had very little time for
reflection.

“How durst thou, changeling, presumptuously enter my dominions with
banners displayed against me?” demanded Edward.

“To recover my father’s crown, the heritage of my ancestors,” bravely
replied the Prince.

“Speakest thou thus to me, thou upstart! See, I smite thee on thy
bastard mouth!” roughly exclaimed the conqueror, and with that he
demeaned himself and the crown he fought for by cowardly and savagely
striking with his mailed fist the unsuspecting and unarmed Prince.
This treacherous blow was the signal to the titled scoundrels standing
by for a murderous attack upon the Prince of Wales. He fell crying
fearlessly: “A Henry! A Henry!” pierced by many daggers. It was a dark
deed and dastardly; its stain no course of years will ever cleanse, and
Edward IV. is for all time “Bloody Edward.”

Queen Margaret, seeing the hopelessness of the conflict, and fearing
the worst had happened to the Prince,--for he never came to cheer
her,--took the Princess and fled to a convent hard by the battlefield,
and there lay concealed. Edward, yielding to the base instincts of a
cruel nature, very soon got news of Margaret’s hiding-place, and with a
demoniacal scowl, “Ah, ah!” he cried out, “we’ve settled the cub; now
for the she-wolf!”

The Queen was dragged from her hiding-place, and borne to Edward’s
quarters, where, like the brute he was, he reviled and insulted her.

“Slay me, thou bloodthirsty wretch, if thou wilt! I care not for
death at thy desecrating hands! May God strike thee, as He will!” she
exclaimed.

Margaret was sent to the Tower, but not to her husband; they were kept
apart, and the Princess of Wales was delivered over to the care of her
uncle, the Archbishop of York. But even so Edward’s malice was not
exhausted. The Queen was conducted without honour, or even decency, in
the suite of Edward on his return to the capital. At Coventry,--of all
places for further outrage, a place so greatly agreeable to Henry and
herself,--ill-fated Margaret was subjected to personal insults from her
vanquisher. In reply she reviled him, and thrust him with abhorrence
from her. In revenge he ordered her to be fastened upon a common
sumpter horse, and he ordered a placard to be placed on her breast,
“This is Queen Margaret, good lieges,” and her hands were tied behind
her back. Thus was the most valiant, most unselfish, and most loyal
Queen that England ever had led to grace the mock triumph of a royal
murderer. She was thrust into the foulest dungeon of the grim Tower,
and there remained, bereft of food, of service, and wellnigh of reason,
too, for seven dreary, weary months.

The day after her incarceration King Henry’s dead body was discovered
in his cell. Gloucester, it was said, had killed him; but Edward was,
if not the actual murderer, privy to the deed. Queen Margaret, hearing
in her dark, foul den the heavy tramp of men-at-arms, scrambled up to
the bars of her little window, and beheld,--what probably Edward meant
she should,--the corpse of her slaughtered husband borne past for
burial. No ceremony of any kind accompanied that mournful passing. At
St. Paul’s, Henry’s body was exposed in a chapel of the crypt, and then
it found merciful sepulture in the God’s-acre at Chertsey Abbey.

That her beloved son,--her one and only hope,--was dead as well,
heart-broken Margaret gathered amid ribald blasphemies of the
intoxicated soldiery as she was borne to London in that “Triumph.”
Now was she bereft indeed, and nothing seemed so desirable as death;
indeed, she resigned herself, and prepared herself for execution at any
moment, at any savage hint of her consort’s supplanter on England’s
throne--accursed Edward! It was, however, not to be supposed that King
Louis of France or King René of Sicily-Anjou should silently condone
the unhalting cruelty of a bloodthirsty monarch, especially when the
person and the honour of a French Princess were at stake.


III.

Efforts were made, more or less feeble, for the delivery of the
incarcerated Queen by Louis,--fearful of offence to the Yorkist
King,--and by René, who had no resources with which to back up his
appeal. Anyhow, Margaret was, at the Christmas following the fatal
battle, released from durance vile, and consigned to the care of the
Duchess-Dowager of Somerset,--one of her earliest friends,--and went to
live under her wing at Wallingford. Edward made her the beggarly grant
of 5 marks weekly for the support of herself and two maid-servants!
There Margaret remained for five years, each one more intolerable than
its predecessor.

At the Peace of Picquigny, August 29, 1475, between Louis and Edward,
the latter agreed to accept a ransom of 50,000 gold crowns for the
widowed Queen. This compact was not an act of grace on the part of
Louis so much as a _quid pro quo_. He insisted upon René ceding
Provence to the crown of France, upon his death, by way of payment of
the ransom. Still, in this matter Edward was as good as his bond, and
directly the first instalment of the amount was paid in London to John
Howard, Edward’s Treasurer, Margaret was conducted to Sandwich, not
without indignity, and placed upon a common fishing-boat. Landing at
Dieppe, January 14, 1476, she was taken on to Rouen, where she received
the following affecting letter from her sorrowing father, King René:

“_Ma fille, que Dieu vous assiste dans vos conseils, car c’est rarement
des hommes qu’il faut en attendre dans les revers de fortune. Lorsque
vous désirerez moins ressentir vos peines, pensez aux miennes; elles sont
grandes, ma fille, et pourtant je vous console._”[A]

    [A]“My child, may God assist thee in thy counsels, for rarely do
    men render help in times of fortune’s reverses. When you desire
    to resent your trials the least, think of mine; they are great,
    my child, and therefore I wish to console you.”

True enough, the troubles and reverses of King René were more than
fall to the lot of most men of high culture and degree; but what of
Queen Margaret’s shipwreck? For nearly thirty years she had endured
experiences which had tried no other Queen half so hardly; and all
the while she had set a unique example of devotion, loyalty, courage,
and endurance, unexampled in history. There never was a truer wife, a
more self-sacrificing mother, a more intrepid and a nobler Queen, than
Margaret of Anjou.

From Rouen the Queen sent a message to King Louis, desiring to see
him; but he, knowing well her desperate case, and seeing no likelihood
of profit accruing to himself, coward-like, evaded an interview. His
miserable aunt might forage for herself, for all he cared, and go where
she listed, but not to Paris nor Amboise. With bent head and slow feet,
the great heroine of the Wars of the Roses, broken like a pitcher at a
fountain, took her lonely way no more in gallant cavalcade, but almost
in funereal cortège, to Anjou and Angers--the cradle of her race.

At Reculée father and daughter once more embraced each other. Alas,
what a sorrowful meeting that was, and how mixed their feelings!
Margaret’s filial duty conquered the reproaches she had prepared, and
René’s tears and silence spoke more loudly than words of regret could
do. Providence had been cruel to them both. René loved Reculée for its
peace and solitude, and there Margaret should repose awhile and recover
mind and body. No prettier resort was there in all Anjou than the
Maison de Reculée--“Reculée” René named it, a place of “recoil” from
the buffetings of fate. He had purchased the estate, in 1465, from one
Colin, an Angers butcher, for 300 _écus d’or_, and had greatly enjoyed
laying out the estate and erecting a bijou residence. His paintings
and his sculptures, his books, his music scores, his miniatures, and
all his artistic hobbies, he lavished there for himself and fair Queen
Jehanne. They often dropped down the Maine in a pleasure barge, and
landed in the sedges, full of warblers and wild life. Reculée was but a
league or two from Angers. Hard by the _manoir_ was the sheltered and
picturesque hermitage of La Baumette,--a shrine of St. Baume, patroness
of Provence,--and hither René and Margaret resorted daily for prayer
and meditation.

Margaret’s home-coming was sad enough, but her demeanour was rather
that of defiance than of patience. Her pride had been laid low by her
sufferings and ill-treatment, but not slain; and when she heard of
the treachery and chicanery of the King of France in entering Angers
in force, and proclaiming himself Sovereign of Anjou, her scorn knew
no bounds, and she chided her father for his pusillanimity, and
reproached him for his _dilettante_ life. His sedentary pleasures
and his artistic tastes bored her cruelly; she despised his peaceful
handiwork, and craved his strong arm once more in the fight. If England
was lost to her, Anjou and Provence should not be; this was her grim
determination, and she roused herself for action and foray. Like a
lioness at bay, she fought out to a finish strenuously her troubled
life, away from stricken fields and gruesome dungeons. René felt his
daughter’s strictures more acutely than he said; indeed, they fell
like blows of sharp poniards upon his wounded heart. The deaths of all
his near relatives, sons and daughters, and his son-in-law, Ferri de
Vaudémont, saddening as they were, were as nothing to the vituperations
of Margaret--now almost a frenzied recluse. King René sank at last,
wearied, heart-broken, yet trustful in his God, into his mortal
resting-place, and Queen Margaret retired to the Castle of Dampière,
near Saumur, the modest _manoir_ of a devoted servant of her father’s
house,--the Sieur François de la Vignolles, of Moraens,--to end her
dire days of woe.

Her father left her what he could, impoverished as he was: 1,000 gold
crowns and the Castle of Queniez--an inconsiderable estate between
Angers and Saumur. René wrote to Louis a few months before his death,
commending Margaret to his care and charity, and this is how the King
of France executed the trust, so characteristic of his greed and
cunning. He negotiated with Margaret the sale of her reversionary
rights in Lorraine, Anjou, Maine, Provence, and Barrois, for an annual
income of 600 _livres_. The deed was executed at Reculée, November 19,
1480, but Louis never paid the annuity! One purpose Margaret had in
view in this arrangement was the recovery of the bodies of her husband
and son, that she might give them decent burial. Edward IV. would not
allow this seemly duty, and the bones of the illustrious dead were left
dishonoured and unnoted.

Margaret’s nature would not allow of comfort. She was devoured with
regret and consumed by revenge; she spent the last two years of her
stormy life in fretting and fuming over the disasters of her family.
Her whole appearance and her manner changed. No longer lovely, as when
she stepped on England’s inhospitable shore, she became shrunk, aged,
and pallid. The ravenings of her spirit had indeed transformed her into
the “grim grey wolf of Anjou.” She became leprous and hideous--“the
most hideous Princess in Europe,” one might write. Gently but firmly
she had to be restrained, lest she should do herself some harm and
injure others. Alas! Margaret of Anjou came to her death, not in the
halo of sanctity, but in the mist of mental obscurity, and thus she
died alone--perhaps unlamented, and certainly misjudged by posterity.
Near her end languor and paralysis seized her, and she passed away
unconsciously on August 25, 1482.

Above the chief portal of his castle De la Vignolles put up this
epitaph:

“In the year 1480 Margaret of Anjou and Queen of England, daughter of
René, King of Naples, Sicily, and Jerusalem, forced to abandon her
kingdom after having courageously borne herself in a great number of
encounters and in twelve pitched battles, deprived of the rights of
her family, spoiled of all her possessions, without means of support
and without help, found a resting-place in this _manoir_, the home of
François de la Vignolles, an old and faithful servant of her father.
She died here August 25, 1482, aged no more than fifty-three years.
Upon whose soul may Christ Jesus have pity.”

All that remained of this remarkable woman was interred without
ceremony in the Cathedral of Angers. She was laid, it was said, by her
father’s side, but no inscription, no mark of any kind, records the
fact. No one knows exactly where to bow the head in reverence and bend
the knee in homage to the memory of Great Queen Margaret. In a very
few words, however, are summed up in the “Paston Letters,” No. 275,
the character of Margaret d’Anjou: “The Queen is a grete and stronge
laborid woman, for she spareth noo peyne to save hir things.”



CHAPTER IX

JEHANNE DE LAVAL--“THE LADY OF THE CREST”


I.

There are roses at Christmas as well as at midsummer, and although the
pale single blossoms of the winter festival have not the fragrance of
the floral queens of the month of May, they are roses all the same.
All roses, though, have thorns, or their petals are crinkled and their
leaves torn. In the Temple Gardens, as the story goes, once on a time
two rival warriors met, and plucked, one a white, and one a red, rose
from the bushes. They stuck them in their caps, and so carried them to
battle, fierce and long--the deadly Wars of the Roses. The story of the
rose heroine of those troubled scenes, the intrepid Queen Margaret,
we have learnt; now we must read the narrative of another Queen of
Roses, La Demoiselle Jehanne de Laval, and of her nigh fifty-years-old
bridegroom, le bon Roy René, a Christmas rose.

“May and December” we call such nuptials. But never mind. The monarch
and the maid went very well together, and for them literally came
true, “Roses, roses, all the way.” He the great red standard rose of
Provence, she the nestling, creeping, sweet wild-rose of Laval, mingled
their renown and charm for the pleasure of all ages.

[Illustration: JEHANNE DE LAVAL

From a Painting by King René, finished by Nicholas de Froment (1475-76)
at Aix Cathedral

_To face page 306_]

Jehanne, or Jeanne, de Laval, “a very beautiful woman and superbly
dressed”--this is a succinct and alluring description of one of the
most fascinating beauties, as lovely in mind as in body, be it said,
who ever took her gracious path across the pages of sentimental
biography. Born at the Castle of Auray,--of which now not a stone is
standing,--in Brittany, overlooking the tempestuous Atlantic and the
Druid fable-land of Carnac-Locmariaker, on November 10, 1433, Jehanne
was the fifth child of Guy XIII., Count of Laval, and his wife,
Isabelle de Bretagne, whose father was Jean VI., Duke of Brittany, and
mother Princess Joanna of France, sister of Charles VII. The House of
Laval was very famous in the annals of mediæval France, and linked
by auspicious marriages to all the Sovereign Princes of the land.
The first Count was a Baron of Charlemagne--a “Guy,” the unalterable
prenominate of all the line. Their castle was founded by that King of
romance and chivalry, King Arthur, and each succeeding occupant made
good his claim to the gilded spurs of knighthood either on a stricken
field or in a crusade to Palestine; they were war-lords all. Laval was
their principal stronghold, midway between Rennes and Le Mans, where
the machicolated donjon of the Seigneurs of La Trémouille, upon its
isolated rock, dominates the smiling country-side.

The full title of the lordly Guys was Counts of Laval, Vitré, Gaure,
and Montfort--all in Brittany. Count Guy XIII. had ten children by
his consort Isabelle: Guy, who succeeded him as Guy XIV.; Pierre,
Duke and Archbishop of Reims; Yolande, sponsored by Queen Yolande
of Sicily-Anjou, and twice married, last to Charles of Anjou, King
René’s brother; Françoise, who only survived her birth fourteen days;
Jehanne, or Jeanne; Anne, died in infancy; Artuse, who died unmarried
at Marseilles in 1467; Hélène, wife of Jehan de Malestroit, son of the
Bishop of Nantes by his mistress, Isabel Kaër; and Louise, who married
Edward, Count of Penthièvre. Guy XIII., inconsolable for the loss of
the mother of his children, sought comfort in another matrimonial
venture, and for his second wife took Françoise, daughter of Jacques
de Dinan, Seigneur of Châteaubriant and Grand Butler at the Court of
King Charles VI. She bore him three children,--Pierre, François, and
Jacques,--so Jehanne was a member of a large and, we may presume, a
happy family. Little Jehanne was baptized in the Audience Hall of the
Castle of Auray by Amaury de la Motte, Bishop of Vannes.

There is rarely very much to record of the early years of any girl’s
life, and Jehanne de Laval was no exception. A maiden was only made
conspicuous by an early betrothal, and for that her parents worked
assiduously. Jehanne was an exception to the rule of precocious
marriages, for no one appears to have claimed her hand and heart until
she was past her majority, and suitors probably regarded her as a
negligible quantity. Jehanne, however, was not wanting in her _entrée_
upon the world of men and manners, and we make her acquaintance when
not more than fourteen years of age, as she comes forward curvetting
upon a _blanche haquenée_ at a royal tournament.

This was King René’s Anjou tournament, famous, with those in Lorraine
and Provence, as the most brilliant ever seen in France. The “Lists”
in the Anjou tournament were held in turn at Angers, Chinon, and
Saumur, and it was at the latter gathering of chivalry, in 1446, that
every knight and squire, every dame and damsel, turned in amazement
as they beheld “a very young girl of most graceful shape and bearing,
covered with a thin veil, and wearing silken garments sparkling with
precious stones, riding most easily up to the tribune of honour.”
The colours of her habit were blue and white--blue, as tender as her
eyes; white, fair as her skin. The reins and crupper of her palfrey
were decked with ribbons, blue and white, and he bore nodding feathers
upon his head-piece. At each side walked her brothers Guy and Pierre,
decked, too, in Laval colours, the most good-looking and best dressed
of all the pages, holding the horse’s snaffle. By way of suite there
rode behind Jehanne de Laval,--for such was the beauteous maiden’s
name,--four maids of honour, each one a comely feature of a picture
pageant. Amid exclamations of admiration and most pleasant greetings,
the charming cavalcade described the circuit of the festival ground,
and then its “Queen” leaped lightly to her feet, and, advancing to the
royal stand, made curtsies to the Queens of Sicily and France, and to
Charles and René, their royal consorts.

Young knights and old came flocking round the “Fairy Queen,” and she,
naïve and winsome, cast furtive glances here and there, until her
bonnie blue eyes fastened themselves upon the young Count of Nevers,
and he delightedly stepped forth to cavalier her to her seat amid the
throng of beauty and fair fame upon the ladies’ seats of honour. He
was still _a parti_ in spite of his rejection as suitor for the hand
of Princess Margaret, and his handsome looks and gallant bearing stood
him in good stead where amorous maidens forgathered. King René,--ever
susceptible to female charms, both of mind and body,--did not behold
the fair Demoiselle de Laval unmoved; he had a tender spot in his
great loving heart for any attractive damsel; what healthy-minded man
has not? He could not know that that pretty, clever hand, which so
skilfully managed her curvetting cob, would one day take his in hers
for better, and not for worse!

The coming of young Jehanne de Laval to the tournament at Saumur
provided the sensation of the day’s exploits. The highest honour, which
the assembled knights before the encounters in the “Lists” began could
confer, was hers by universal acclamation. She was to be the lady
bearer of the champion’s crest, and, as “Queen of Queens,” to affix
the coveted guerdon of victory upon the helm of the most successful
knight. This election was preceded by a characteristic observance, true
to the pure spirit of chivalry. Each knight had to kneel before an
altar for the blessing of his weapons, and for the mental registration
of his suffrage for the “Queen.” She was “the lady of his thought.”
So, certainly, the beauteous apparition of the young daughter of Guy
de Laval caused many a misgiving in the hearts of gallant men. The
“Lady” each had chosen none divulged by name, but, all the same, Cupid
had done so to the ears of curious friends and foes. The wholesale
desertion of their chosen divinities might very well account for hard
looks and frowns from emulous maidens:--all we know, is not gold that
glitters!

The precious _gage d’amour et de guerre_, the champion’s crest, took
the form of a small gold crown, heavily jewelled, from which sprang,
retained by wires of gold, three pure white curled feathers of the
crested heron. It was awarded to the knight whose bearing in the
“Lists” had been the most gallant, and whose victories over adversaries
had been most effective, and who had thereby gained the unanimous votes
of the tournament judges. Other prizes there were of scarcely less
distinction: the first, a golden lance in miniature, to the knight
who administered the most brilliant blow and in the shortest time;
the second, a rich ruby valued at 1,000 _écus d’or_,--for mounting in
his helm,--for the breaker of the most lances; and the third, a pure
diamond of a similar value, for him who lasted out the longest before
being vanquished by his opponent’s lance.

The “Bringing in the Champion’s Crest” was a remarkably pretty
ceremony. The “Queen of Beauty,” attended by two maids of honour, all
clad in full state robes, with towering _hennins_, and wearing superb
jewels and ornaments, were escorted to a chamber of preparation, within
the castle, immediately before the closing banquet of the tournament.
There a procession was marshalled; pages of the contestant knights,
arrayed in their proper colours and wearing ermine mantles, danced
gaily before the “Queen of Beauty,” and knelt as she advanced, bearing
the flashing crest upon an embroidered scarf. Pursuivants, heralds, and
kings-of-arms, swelled the glittering progress with tabards, wands,
and crowns. Masters of the ceremony were in attendance on the “Queen.”
All moved with grace and dignity to the banqueting-hall, which they
traversed up to the royal daïs, accompanied by attendants bearing great
flaring torches and waxen candles. Everybody rose at the entry of the
procession, and the Prince of highest rank handed the “Queen” to her
special seat, whence she might receive the homage of the knightly
company, and bestow upon the champion the crest she bore. Strident
music and the blare of brazen horns filled the great hall, and the
high-pitched roof re-echoed the plaudits of the company.

The “Grand Prix” was gained neither by King René nor by King Charles.
The former, indeed, caused a sensation by appearing in black tournament
armour, his shield studded with silver spangles; his lance was black,
and his charger caparisoned in a black housing, which trailed the
ground. René was mourning still for his good mother, Queen Yolande, and
for his second son of promise rare, Louis, Marquis of Pont-à-Mousson.
The “Champion of Champions” was not the Count of Nevers,--perhaps
to Jehanne’s regret,--but Louis de Beauvau; whilst the second prize
fell to Robert de Florigny, and the third to Ferri de Vaudémont.
These famous tournaments did not lack the assistance by illustration
of painters; Jehannot le Flament,--better known nowadays as Jan van
Eyck,--King René’s master at Bar-le-Duc, was in attendance on his royal
pupil, and painted at least two considerable pictures of the pageants.
Alas! those valuable paintings are lost to us.

Well, the “Lists” were over, and the world and his wife resumed their
usual avocations, and Jehanne de Laval went home once more with her
parents, to finish her education and to be provided with a husband. And
now the chroniclers of such events as matrimony fail us. Very well we
might have expected the announcement of the “Fairy Queen’s” betrothal
immediately after that famous tournament. But no--and in vain we search
for the reason. Jehanne was not espoused. Some have said that Count
Guy, seeing King René’s unconcealed admiration for his captivating
little daughter, and bearing to his beloved companion in peace and
war well-worn confidence, conceived a romantic dream. Queen Isabelle
was said to be very delicate. She might die young, and then Jehanne
might be René’s solace and his love! Whether the King and the maiden
met again and often we do not know. Very likely indeed they did, for
Jehanne and Margaret d’Anjou were playmates, and Laval was not so very
far from Angers. This is a dream, of course.

There is a touching story which connects Jehanne de Laval with another
Margaret--Margaret of Scotland, the virtuous and accomplished spouse
of Louis the Dauphin, and a great favourite with King Charles and
Queen Marie. The unhappy Princess died of poison at Sarry-le-Château
on August 16, 1445--poison administered, it was understood, by her
unscrupulous husband. She was only twenty-three years of age, but had
been Dauphiness for eight years--years of neglect and cruelty. Among
the suite which gathered around the bonnie Scottish Princess were
young girls, and of these one was Jehanne de Laval, of whom Margaret
made a special pet, and shared with her her meals and leisure. Some
candies were given to the children by the Princess, who rejected them
as tasting bitter. Margaret, to allay their mistrust, ate a number, and
she sickened and died. Her last words were: “A curse on life! Don’t
trouble me about it.” This lamentable cry was drawn from her through
the false aspersions on her honour raked up against her by her husband.
Marriage was indeed a failure to Margaret of Scotland, for “there was
no one she dreaded,” says de Commines, “like my lord the Dauphin.”

The next scene wherein Jehanne de Laval is recorded to have been a
participant was the obsequies of Queen Isabelle of Sicily-Anjou and
Naples. We may, however, be quite certain that she was not absent very
far what time that excellent Princess was in Angers attending to the
education of her family. They were all of near age to the daughter of
Count Guy. Yolande d’Anjou was five years her senior, and Margaret no
more than four. Be this as it may, King René, anyhow, was not very
much in Anjou; his brain and hands were full of warlike things, and
embarrassed by lack of means.

René d’Anjou, King and Duke, the _preux chevalier_ of all the
beautiful women in his dominions, did not fail to excite feelings
of admiration and of a profounder passion in the pulsating hearts
of the amorous women and girls of Genoa. There he was received
with acclamations by warrior men, and with kisses by their wives
and sweethearts. A foreign Prince, especially if he had gained
renown in love and war, was always welcomed enthusiastically by the
strong-blooded Ligurians. The customary characteristic offering of the
city,--a maiden or two of high birth,--was at the King’s disposal.
Their names, alas! have not been recorded, but René showed his
appreciation of his host’s magnificent and patriarchal hospitality by
despatching, on November 10, 1447, four splendid collars of beaten
gold, with medallions of himself, to Tommaso Spinola, Giacomo Fiesco,
Tommaso Fregoso, and Francesco Doria, fathers of his _innamorate_.
The historians of Genoa all wrote sententiously of the royal visitor:
“Every woman, even the poorest, put on a new guise,--pure white
raiment,--in compliment to the Holy Maid’s lieutenant, and all wore
ornaments of pure gold in token of their love for her, and for him
their favour. Tournament, dance, and song, made the city a rare
paradise of joy.” The daughters of Genoa,--true daughters of Eve,--ever
evoked the encomiums of all, as the following quaint quintet, in
perhaps dubious parlance, affirms:

      “Le Donne son Santi in Chiesa,
      Angele in Istrada,
      Diavole in Casa,
      Civette alla Finestra,
      Gassi alla Porta.”

      “Women are Saints in Church,
      Angels in the Street,
      Devils at Home,
      Owls in the Window,
      Magpies at the Door.”

On Monday, March 5, 1453, when the Queen’s burial casket was borne
under its silken canopy through the streets of Angers, twenty fair
daughters of Anjou and the adjoining States strewed white flowers in
the way. Their leader was Jehanne de Laval, now grown to womanhood,
fresh and sweet. She had loved the lamented Queen, and learned
much from her gentle ways and her heroism, and she grieved for the
bereavement of King René and his children. Companions in love and
comrades in sorrow cling equally to one another, and those who rejoice
together in the sunshine compassionate each other in the shade. Pity is
the tender veil of Cupid’s favours.


II.

King René’s grief at the untimely death of his devoted spouse
completely unstrung the man and disabled the monarch. He gave himself
away to tears and melancholy, from which even the embraces of his
children failed to rouse him. His Ministers and courtiers viewed the
desolation of their Sovereign with sincere and deep concern, for it
threatened to unnerve him permanently for the arduous duties of his
station. A consultation was held at Angers by the Barons and nobles
of Anjou, Maine, Lorraine, Barrois, and Provence, with respect to
their beloved Sovereign’s prostration, and a unanimous decision was
reached--a second marriage with a young consort, comely, cultivated,
and of good fame. A petition was presented to the King praying him to
yield to the advice of his “right loyal lieges,” that he should look
out for some noble and virtuous “_pucelle qui fust à son gré_.” They
add: “We have found just such _une très belle fille nommée Jehanne de
Laval_,--wise, well-conditioned, and of adult age,--and we know that
she is ready to become the spouse of our very good lord.”

The sorrowful King took heart of grace, acceded to his subjects’
agreeable suggestion, and, knowing well himself all young Jehanne’s
charms, despatched forthwith a gallant embassy to his old friend,
Count Guy, demanding the hand of his beauteous daughter. Only one bar
appeared to stop the course of true love,--for such René’s was for
Jehanne,--the disparity of age: he was forty-seven, she twenty-two.
This was soon dismissed, and “May” and “December” were betrothed in
the August month of ripe red gold. Articles of marriage were signed
at Angers on September 3, 1455--by Seigneur de Couldray, Captain of
the Guard; Guy de Laval; Louis de Beauvau; the Counts of Vendôme and
Tancarville; the Seigneur de Lohere; Raoul de Bosket; and Olivier de
Feschal--whereby the bride’s _dot_ was fixed at 40,000 _écus d’or_
(_circa_ £2,000). The marriage ceremony was celebrated at the abbey
church of St. Nicholas d’Angers on September 16 by Cardinal de Foix,
Archbishop of Arles, in the presence of Bishops and deputations from
every part of King René’s dominions. The wedding ceremony was notable
for the appearance of the bride’s young brother Pierre, a boy of eleven
years of age, habited in full episcopal vestments. He was nominal
Archbishop of Reims and Bishop of St. Brieux and St. Malo.

The citizens of Angers received their new Queen “_en grant joye et
lyesse_,” but, notwithstanding the general satisfaction, the Court
became grave and serious, and, to universal astonishment, there were
neither tournaments for the nobles nor junketings for the poorer
people. The heart of the King was still sore; he seemed disinclined for
festivities, and sought solitude and devotional exercises; his spirit
was _acharné_--sad within him. “Had he,” people asked, “renounced the
pleasures he so loved for ever?” René found relief from the tension of
his feelings in the composition of a moral allegory which he entitled
“_Le Mortefiement de Vaine Plaisance_,” which he dedicated to his
confessor, Jean Bernard, Bishop of Tours. It is by way of being a
dialogue between a soul devoured by love divine and a heart full of
earthly vanities. Other _dramatis personæ_ are introduced at intervals:
“Fear of God;” “Divine Justice;” “Faith,” “Hope,” and “Sovereign Love,”
with “True Contrition.” Midway in the lengthy poem is a “similitude,”
accompanied by a very beautiful drawing, showing a Queen,--perhaps
Isabelle,--seated open-bosomed in a country waggon, bare-headed, her
crown upon her knees. The two horses are tandem-harnessed, the wheeler
bestridden by a rider with a thong in hand, the leader turning sharply
round. Thus did René’s poetic imagination picture his loss and his woe.
The dedication is most touching: “Considering that the course of life
runs like a river, without stopping or running back, it is necessary to
do good deeds to earn a sweet repose. I set myself to write this book
for the love of the Redeemer, but, that my work may be useful for all,
I tell in plain speech the conflict of the soul and heart.”

The royal couple left Angers immediately after their marriage, and
spent the month’s honeymoon at the Castle of Launay les Saumur. Then
they set off for Provence, and reached Arles early in November. This
was the prelude to an entirely new course of life which King René had
in his mind. For thirty years and more he had courted the smiles of
Fortune in the arena of arms, and she had only given him frowns. His
courage and his chivalry had met with scant success. Hopes disappointed
and finances wasted, he was a wiser if a poorer man; but now the
residue of his days and enterprises should be differently expended.
Peace has its triumphs as well as war. Poets and writers, troubadours
and musicians, artists and craftsmen, farmers and sportsmen, and
peasants and fishermen, were peaceful folk; with such would he throw in
his lot--a _roi-patron_, a _roi-fainéant_, would he be!

The journey to the south was, as usual, by river barge up the winding
sylvan Loire to Roanne, and thence _à portage_ to Valence, and on by
water past Montelimart, Orange, and Avignon. The King, like other
rulers in France, maintained a fleet of vessels for trade and pleasure
upon the splendid waterways. It was, of course, a royal progress such
as René and his father and brother, and Queen Yolande, his venerated
mother, had often made, and very cordial were the greetings by the
way. At Arles, where the King and Queen were rapturously received,
they found awaiting them deputations from every considerable place in
Provence, each bearing goodly offerings to their liege lord and lady.
Arles presented 400 _écus d’or_ in two enamelled gold flasks, and six
chased cups of silver; Aix, two great bowls of silver embossed and
jewelled, six silver cups, and three goblets of gold; Marseilles, 200
_écus d’or_, to be spent in buying fine wax, at the pleasure of the
Queen,--a treasured possession,--and four silver cups; Avignon, twelve
enamelled silver cups and two gold goblets; Tarascon, a great gold ewer
and six small goblets--and so on. Formalities completed and _Te Deum_
sung, René and Jehanne went off to Aix, there to settle and to arrange
their household affairs. In recognition of this auspicious visit to
Provence, the King created his consort Countess of Les Baux, with
proprietary rights in that ancient stronghold.

The ancient family had become extinct in the comely person of
Countess Alix, a helpless girl placed under the guardianship of her
uncle, Robert de Beaufort, better known as “_Le Fléau de Provence_,”
the leader of a band of ruffians designated “_Les Tards-Venus_.”
Fair Alix died unmarried in 1426, and the county of Les Baux passed
to Louis III. d’Anjou, King René’s brother. For Jehanne de Laval her
loving spouse repaired and decorated the ruinous old castle. The
pleasure-grounds were laid out by René, and the “_Pavillon de la
Royne Jehanne_” erected, a true “_Pavillon d’Amour_,” wherein he and
she could repose and utter sweet nothings to one another, and revive
also some of the fascinating observances of the once famous “Court of
Love” of Les Baux. Spirits of former Countess-Presidents of Chapters
of the Troubadours flitted to and fro the “Chamber of the Rose.” The
beauteous if fateful sisters, Étiennette and Douce, gracious spouses of
two fierce rival Counts, Raymond des Baux and Berenger de Barcelona,
but rivals in the poems and dances of the troubadours, away in the
twelfth century, looked down, perhaps, from the eerie thrones in “_Il
Paradiso_” upon the new Queen of Beauty. The girlish figure, too, of
Cécile des Baux, “_La Passe Rose_,” the fairest beauty of them all,
sought, a century later, the spiritual companionship of Alix, the last
of the châtelaines, with her to observe the graceful figure of Queen
Jehanne. Memories of lovely women and the romances of their lives
appealed irresistibly to the royal troubadour; he could picture the gay
crowds in the games of Love. Dark deeds, too--the clash of weapons and
the stealthy poniard; the smothered cries from the _oubliettes_, and
the defiant oaths of men in irons: these the imaginative poet-monarch
could most easily re-create. A thought-moving memento of a vivid and
lurid past was brought to light not so many years ago in a coffin
discovered in the crypt of the ruined church of St. Catherine--it was
a woman’s long soft golden hair cut off at the roots. To whom did this
_cabelladuro d’or_ belong? Some beauty done to death, perhaps, or
peacefully fallen upon sleep in the dim, dim past? Or was it, as it may
have been, the _chevelure_ of that beautiful young Italian girl in the
suite of Queen Jehanne, who married at Les Baux the Queen’s Seneschal,
and died ere ever that day’s curfew sounded? The “_Pavillon de la Royne
Jehanne_,” with its miniature dome and delicate frieze, supported
on Ionic columns, still stands, but hidden away amid cornstalks and
verdure, whilst, alas! nothing whatever remains of the Queen’s gardens,
where courtier cavaliers flirted and toyed with her Maids of Honour.
Jehanne loved Les Baux almost as much as she did her Laval barony of
Beaufort, and René loved it, too, for her sake.

[Illustration: SAINT MADELEINE PREACHING BEFORE KING RENÉ AND QUEEN
JEHANNE AT MARSEILLES

From a Painting by King René. Musée de Cluny, Paris]

Early in the springtide which followed the settlement of the King
and Queen in Provence, they sought the peaceful charms of the
country-side, and made their way, accompanied by a very limited suite,
to the neighbourhood of Tarascon. The stately castle, so lately
René’s favourite abode, had little attraction for ruralizing royalty,
so they packed themselves into a modest _bastide_, or farmstead,
upon the kingly estate, Pertuis, not far from Cadenet, below Mont
Lubéron. Its position was delightful, overlooking the turbulent river
Durance, with its strewn verdure-grown rocks and boulders, and its
banks lined by sedges, willows, and alders, hiding many a still pool
of trout. There the royal couple wandered forth hand in hand, quite
unattended, amid the growing vines and chestnut woods, conversing with
all the country-folk they met, sharing with them their homely fare,
and watching delightedly their rural games and dances. Many a time
René, with Jehanne as his happy assessor, sat upon old _saules_, or
willow stumps, under a spreading tree, to receive requests and discern
disputes, dispensing royal justice with the simple hand of equity.

The life they led was an ideal one--a dream, an inspiring fantasy. The
songs of birds, the brush of wings of butterflies, the thousand and
one mysterious sounds of animated, sun-cheered Nature, and the scent
of spring narcissi, with the glowing glories of anemones, seemed all
to be in harmony with the fresh greenery of tree and crop, the gambols
of young lambs, and the cooing of sweetheart doves. The King and Queen
became for the nonce shepherd and shepherdess; Jehanne was nymph of
the bosquets, René her impassioned Apollo, his heart’s wounds healed
at last, his soul’s new hopes at bud. The Muse of Poetry dwelt also
in that pleasant fairy-land, and her voice, rustling the zephyr-moved
foliage, reached the poetic nature of the agrestical King, and out of
his sympathetic brain came the impulse of the hand which penned one of
the most delicate and affecting “Pastorals” that ever man produced.

The scene is laid in the meadows of the royal country house, where
shepherds and shepherdesses and toilers in the soil,--vigorous and
fair,--are giving themselves away to the joys of pastoral revels.
Chancing that way is a pilgrim, newly come from recording his vows
at the shrine of Nôtre Dame de Larghet. Looking ahead, the penitent
beholds the entrancing vision, and, whilst he brushes away the
assiduous attentions of a big bumble-bee, he is conscious of voices
murmuring close at hand. It is but the love-chat of a lovelorn lad and
lass, seated by a dripping fountain of the rivulet. Behind them is
the stump of a great forest king with no more than one lean branch to
show its life. The youth vanishes mysteriously, but the girl beckons
caressingly to the wandering pilgrim, and she invites him with dulcet
voice:

      “Regnault, vien environ
      De la souche; et nous asseon,
        Cy toy et moy!”

      “Regnault, come thee near
      This tree; have no fear,
      Only thee and me!”

The shy wanderer approaches diffidently, and then the maiden opens her
little luncheon basket, which hangs from her shoulders by blue silken
ribbons, and eats a portion of a roll; to him she offers the remainder.
The fascination of the moment overrides all scruples, and Regnault,
as she has called him, kneels at his enchantress’s feet, strokes her
hands and arms, and protests his love. The damsel is willy-nilly, and
naïvely cries: “All fall in love, and all fall out; and so may you,
fair sir, for aught I know!” Carried away by the vehemence of his
passion, Regnault tries to seize the girl and press his hot lips upon
hers, so coral pink; but she evades him, slips from his grasp, and,
presto! she has vanished. All dazy-wazy Regnault rises, holds out his
hands beseechingly, and then, folding them upon his breast, with bowed
head he seeks once more the mountain shrine, and before our sweet Lady
of Consolation pours out his heart and his soul. Compline still finds
him saying his _Aves_, and Night covers him with her restful shroud;
his last words are addressed to his meadow nymph:

      “T’ameray très parfaictment,
      Du bon du Cuer si loyaument,
      Que ne te fauldray nullement
        Jusques à mort.”

      “I love thee perfectly,
      From bottom of my heart;
      I will never fail thee
      Till death us two shall part.”

This very beautiful poem the royal lover entitled “_Regnault et
Jehanneton_,” or “_Les Amours du Bergier et de la Bergeronne_,”--a
play, of course, upon his own name and Queen Jehanne’s. At the end of
the manuscript René drew a very pretty design--side by side two shields
of arms, his and Jehanne’s, united by a royal crown; his supporter,
on the left, _une souche_,--the stump of a forest tree,--with one
flourishing foliaged branch bearing a censer of burning incense; her
supporter, on the right, a chestnut-tree in full flower, and on a
branch two royal paroquets--lovebirds!

In 1457 the poet-King put forth an allegory of chivalry which he called
“_La Conqueste de Doulce Mercy par le Cuer d’Amour espris_.” The
conceit of the story is just a simple knight,--youthful, vigorous, and
a true lover of women,--setting forth for the devotion he holds for his
mistress to endure perilous adventures. René himself is, of course, the
hero of the poem, the intrepid soldier of Naples, the heroic prisoner
of Bulgneville.

The opening of the poem reveals “_le Bon Roy_” one night wakeful, and
suffering heartache--“_Mortie dormant en resverie_.” It appeared to
him that his heart left his breast, and that “_Vif Désire_” whispered
gently:

            “Si, Doulce Mercy,
      Desires de povoir avoir,
      Il fault que tu faces devoir
      Par la force d’armes l’acquerir.”

      “If, True Chivalry,
      Thou wouldst have power,
      Then thy metal try
      And by arms acquire.”

“_Vif Désire_” then armed “_Cuer_” with a blade of steel, keen and
bright, a helmet stamped with amorous thoughts bearing the crest of
hope, three blooms of “_N’oubliez mye_.” Then led gently forth, he
meets “_Franc Vouloir_,” tall and strong, and fully armed for all
emergencies; and putting spurs to his charger, he goes off at a gallop
with his companions. Over hill and dale they dash, until they come in
view of a lovely damsel--

                        “plaiesante et blonde
      Et de tous biens la plus parfaict du monde.”

After passing through a weird forest, they emerge upon a smiling
valley, where they behold a sumptuous palace. On approaching, they see
a very splendid column of jasper, and after dismounting they read the
inscription carved thereon:

      “A vous, tous Cuers gentilz et gracieux,
      Qui conquérir voulez pour valori mieulx
      Du Dieu d’Amour et de vos Dames aussi
      Doulce grace et eureuse mercy.
      N’ayez en vous changement de pensée
      Pour delaissier vos premières amours,
      Soiez loyaux sans varier tousjours,
      Pitie pur vous ne sera par lasée.”

Whilst pondering over this epithet, a very beautiful woman approaches
them, splendidly attired in royal robes, and seizes hold of the reins
of “_Franc Vouloir’s_” steed. “_Cuer_” at once turns to her, and,
kneeling, kisses her hand and asks her name. “_Douce Éspérance_,” she
replies, “and I greet you, worthy gentlemen, and desire to set you
on your way.” Directed by this gracious lady, they reach the shores
of a great lake or sea, and, moored by the water’s edge, they espy a
little sailing vessel, and in it two lovely maidens--“_Fiance_” and
“_Actente_”--about whom “_Douce Éspérance_” had spoken. Leaving their
mounts to wander free, the travellers board the frail craft, and,
presto! they are at the glorious temple of the Isle of Love. The day
passes dillydally; they all sup together, and the sweet, soft shadows
hide their repose. Other characters are “_Bel Accueil_,” “_Franchise_,”
“_Piété_,” “_Faux Semblant_,” and “_Largesse_”; and the allegory ends,
as all should do, in the complete victory of Cupid.

The year that Louis XI., by his greed and treachery, drove his
noble uncle, “_le Bon Roy René_,” out of Anjou was one of trial and
embarrassment for the King of Sicily. At first his feelings, outraged
by the infamous behaviour of the son of his best-loved sister, Queen
Marie, got the better of his equanimity, and he gave way to indignant
protests; but when a man is in his sixties he learns to put up with
base affronts. René learned by sad experience to measure hypocrites
by their professions, but to leave their castigation to posterity. He
accepted philosophically, adverse circumstances as they arose and not
only checked the expression of his own sentiments, but discouraged
reprisals on the part of his impatient and indignant subjects. With
this same restraint the poet-King put forth a sententious drama, which
he entitled “_L’Abuzé en Court_”; we may translate it, perhaps, “The
Victim of Circumstances.” Its theme may be gauged as follows: Within
the shady portal of an ancient church,--the pavement strewn with the
persons of the blind and crippled seeking alms,--a pious wayfarer
beheld an oldish man whose silken though shabby attire spoke of better
days. His doublet was torn and his long poniard broken, his light brown
hair streaked with silver strands, and his pouch poorly furnished. The
wayfarer speaks kindly to the victim of Providence:

      “Mon gentil homme, Dieu vous garde,
      Et vous doint ce que déseriez.
      Pardonnez moi, je vous en prie,
      Et me dictez par courtousie
      De vostre vie le renom
      Que vous estez et vostre nom.”

      “My good fellow, God protect you,
      And grant you all that now you desire.
      Forgive me fully, now I pray you,
      And tell me something of your despair.
      By your courtesy I would your name,
      And your life’s story and deeds of fame.”

_L’Abuzé_ politely replies:

      “Sire! pourquoi le demandez
      C’est raison que je vous le dye.
      J’ay nom sans que riens en mesdye
      Le pouvre homme abuzé en court.”

Then he goes on to tell his story--the story of his life’s adversity,
a biograph of René’s. In happy days, now past, he had his amours and
his ambitions, his military exploits and his acts of peace. Much
of his time he had spent unselfishly caring for others, whose weal
depleted his purse and embarrassed his affairs until he was forced to
settle with his creditors. The narrative is worked out in dialogue
by the concourse of many speakers--among them a great lady, “_La
Court_”--Providence, and two _demoiselles_ of pity--“_Abuz_”--Wantoncy,
and “_Folcuideo_”--Mockery.

The _mise en scène_ varies as the tension, and the vicissitudes of
human life are presented under every aspect. The poem is a “morality,”
as that term was erstwhile understood.

The end of the whole matter is summed up characteristically as follows:

              “J’ay pascience!
      Et pour vostre paine et salaire
      Y-a-t-il aulcun que y pense?
      Pour à voz loyers satisfaire
      Que avez vous?
              J’ay pascience!”

                  “Patience is mine!
      For your ailing and for your health,
      Is there anything for which you pine
      Openly to gain, or by your stealth,
      What would you?
                  Patience is mine!”

René and Jehanne went to Provence in 1473 in the guise of fugitives.
The Angevines deplored excessively this exile; they loved both King and
Queen, and Louis and all his works they hated cordially. René saw no
other course to follow. He was heavily cast down by family afflictions.
Jean, his noble eldest son, was dead; dead, too, were Charles d’Anjou,
his brother, and Nicholas, his dear grandson, and Ferri de Vaudémont.
He sought peace and consolation, and Provence and the Provençaux
offered both most loyally.

The story of Louis’s perfidy may be shortly told. In 1474 René
proclaimed Charles de Maine, his nephew, his heir to Anjou-Provence,
regardless of the French King’s presumptions. Louis summoned his uncle
to Paris to answer before the Parliament. Something of a compromise
was come to, for Louis said he should be content for Charles to be
proclaimed Duke and Count, but after him he or his heirs would annex
both duchy and county to France.

It had always been the policy of Sovereigns to encourage
knight-errantry and tournaments, for the competitors who assembled
became lieges of the lord. The names and performances of candidates
were inscribed on parchment rolls with gold and enamels; these were
read out aloud by tabarded heralds. The champions were escorted
in pageants to be decorated by the Queen or Lady President of the
“Lists”--a graduation, so to speak, in a world-wide University of
chivalry. In 1453 Duke Philippe of Burgundy instituted a very singular
festival, “The Pageant of the Pheasant,” in which knights were made
to swear for Church and fame. The oath ran as follows: “I _N._ swear
before God, my Creator, in the first place; the ever-glorious Mary,
His mother; and, lastly, before these ladies of the tournament and the
Pheasant, to be a true and Christian knight.” The Pheasant was the
emblem of fecundity, the mascot of would-be brides and mothers!

Troubadours and “Courts of Love” were complements of warlike deeds on
stricken field or in tilting-joust. The Provençal seigneurs and their
ladies lived in lonely castles, with nothing on earth to do. Provence
was the cradle of the troubadours. Every troubadour had to choose the
lady of his passion; she might return it or not, as she chose. It was
Guillaume de Poitou, a very famous troubadour, who gave the maxim: “If
you propose a game of love, I am not too foolish to refuse, but I shall
choose the side that is the best.” All this appealed to King René, and
his bent fell in distinctly with that of the famous troubadours of the
past. His poetic and sentimental nature found reflective expression in
the old “_Magali_,” of the popular melodies of Provence:

      “O Magali ma tant amado,
      Mete la tête au fenestroun,
      Esecuto un pan aguesto subado
      De Tambourine, de Viouloun
      Esplein estello paramount,
      L’Auro os tournado
      Mailes estello paliran
      Quand te verraut.”

This was the spirit of the life to which King René introduced his young
and beauteous consort--a romantic existence which appealed forcibly
to the sweet instincts of the royal bride. Her response was the joy
of René’s heart; if denied the fruit of sexual love, he and she were
productive of the issue of kindred souls. They lived for one another in
an elysium of bliss, chaste and unalloyed, with no qualms of conscience
and no aftermath of reproach.

René’s love of Jehanne became a passion; her freshness and animation
and the evenness of her disposition were to him like so many springs of
invigorating water, whence, quaffing, he ever rose to new activities.
She became the inspirer of his poetry, the spur in his official duties,
and the pivot of his benevolence. He was never tired of extolling her
virtues in prose and verse, nor of painting her in miniature and in
large. It was said that he always carried about with him wherever he
went her portrait, which he himself painted upon a small oval piece
of walnut wood let into a locket frame of chiselled gold and enamel.
More than this, his most treasured trophy of the “Lists”--the lance
with which he unseated Charles VII. at the nuptial tournament for Queen
Marguerite d’Anjou--contained an orifice wherein he inserted another
likeness of “_la bonne Jehanne_.” In the inventory of his garderobe
at Angers Castle we read: “_Item, Ung bois de lance creux, ou il y a
dedans un rollet de parchemin, auquel c’est dedans la portraicture de
la Royne de Sicile._”[A]

    [A] “Item, A hollow lance pole wherein there is a roll of
    parchment upon which is a portrait of the Queen of Sicily.”

The _Comptes de Roi René_, filling very many folios, wherein are
noted household, State, and private expenses and other correlative
matters, were stored in the _Chambre des Comptes_ which René caused to
be built at Angers Castle. A suite of apartments facing the river was
used for the transaction of business matters and for the deposit of
valuable documents. Here, too, was the King’s council-chamber, whilst
in the gardens stretching in front along the river-side were cages and
caves, wherein were kept many lions and strange beasts the collection
of which became a royal hobby. Beyond the spacious buildings at the
centre of the gardens was a pavilion which René used as a study and a
sanctum, wherein he spent much of his leisure time dreaming, reading,
and writing. Here he kept a register of artists and artisans, noting
their several qualifications, their works, and their honorariums and
salaries. He had a sort of school of architect-surveyors who, under his
personal direction, prepared plans and projections of all the works,
public and private, in which he was interested--markets, bridges,
fountains, cottages, etc.

A work at Angers in which he took the greatest interest, and on which
he lavished large sums of money, was the erection and decoration of
a chapel within the Cathedral of St. Maurice, which he dedicated to
the ever-blessed memory of St. Bernardin, his cherished friend and
confessor.

Giovanni della Porta was born at Massa di Carrara at the close of 1384.
He took the cord and cowl of St. Francis d’Assisi, and was sent with
other brethren of the Order to evangelize the people of Marseilles.
He became attached to the household of King Louis II., René’s father,
and thus an intimacy sprang up between the two. He accompanied René
on all his expeditions to Italy, and remained in priestly attendance
upon him when at home. The good man died of fever at Aquila in Calabria
in 1449, and René, ever grateful to his mentor and spiritual father,
in 1450 prevailed upon Pope Nicholas V. to order his canonization.
Certain miracles said to have been wrought at his tomb in Southern
Italy, and weird happenings as his body was translated to Anjou,
convinced the Curia of his sanctity. His memorial chapel at Angers was
a sumptuous erection, and in its adornment the King took an active
part, painting the glass windows and the altar and its reredos. Before
the resting-place of the dead saint’s corpse René directed a funeral
chamber to be made, wherein he subsequently ordered by his will that
his heart should be deposited. This was an action truly characteristic
of “_le bon Roy_.” He had so often unburdened himself to the saint, and
from him had obtained not only absolution, but direction, that their
two hearts beat in accord in life, and in death they were also joined.

Not only did the heart of René rest near St. Bernardin, but the hearts
also,--each in its golden casket,--of Jehanne and the valiant and
chivalrous Jean de Calabria, René’s eldest son.

King René and Queen Jehanne were pious folk indeed. At Marseilles, at
Tarascon, and at Aix itself, they assisted humbly at Church festivals,
processions, and pilgrimages. The lives and loves of the humble
home at Bethany in Palestine, transhipped to the reverent shores of
tuneful Provence, kindled the affection and the reverence of one and
all. The feasts of “_Les Maries_,” St. Marthe de Tarasque, and of St.
Maximin, good Lazarus’s disciple, were honoured by enthusiastic annual
devotions. No one tired of hearing of those saintly lives, and no
sacrifice was too great to show the heart’s devotion. King René and
his consort’s offerings took the form of costly reliquaries in gold,
enamels, and jewels, depositories upon high-altars for holy relics.
The royal couple assisted at the translation of St. Martha’s relics
to Tarascon, May 10, 1458. In 1461 from Aix went a splendid casket
to the collegiate church of St. George at Nancy, in pious memory of
that redoubtable warrior and of the gentle Isabelle de Lorraine. It
was intended for the encasement of a thigh-bone of the Knight of
Cappadocia. The King and Queen in 1473 presented another precious
reliquary to the Church of St. Nicholas du Port at Angers, and with it
they bestowed upon the clergy the unique gift of an arm and a hand of
the saint. Twelve leagues from Aix is the curious little town of St.
Maximin, where, in the thirteenth-century church,--built by Charles
II. of Naples and Provence, ancestor of Queen Giovanna II.,--are
preserved the sacred bones of St. Mary Magdalen. The skull, it is said,
has still a small fragment of flesh adhering where Christ touched her
forehead. Here, too, the kingly couple bestowed a golden reliquary for
the saint’s right arm and founded a perpetual Mass. This sad saint of
Christ, the repentant one, ever had great influence with René and his
royal consort. Not content with listening to her sweet voice,--perhaps
an imagination, after all,--in the streets of Marseilles (as the King
himself has depicted), in a beauteous retreat near Angers he fixed a
sweet shrine, La Baumette, or Bausome, near Reculée, where he founded a
hermitage, “La Madeleine de St. Baumette.” This was partly in honour of
“St. Baume,” as the Magdalen, the patroness of Provence was familiarly
called. In the chapel the King painted a picture of St. Bernardin
hearing confession--perhaps his own.

If René had lost the crown of Naples, another crown was shortly
laid at his feet. In 1469 the Grand Council of Barcelona rejected
Juan II. as King of Catalonia. He was brother of Alfonso V., René’s
rival and conqueror in Naples, but unpopular and blind, and somewhat
unready. His wife, the courageous Queen Blanche of Navarre, had taken
his place in line of battle, and was enthusiastically beloved by the
Catalonians; she died, unhappily, in 1468, of a cancer or of poison,
so it was rumoured, and with her died the love of Juan’s subjects. The
vacant throne was offered with one accord to King René of Sicily-Anjou,
the son of the beloved and venerated Princess Yolanda,--who had been
brought up at Barcelona,--the only child of old King Juan I. René, in
accepting the graceful tribute to his dear mother’s claim and person,
placed his son Jean de Calabria in the hands of the Catalonians, and
begged them,--his own age being far advanced, and his son in his
prime and a famous warrior,--to proclaim him in his stead. Jean was
acclaimed generally, and hastened to Barcelona to assume his crown,
being backed by Louis XI. with a money subsidy and a strong force of
men. The landing of the new King was a scene of uproarious rejoicing.
His princely qualities appealed to them, and his grandmother had been
their own Princess. People struggled to embrace his knees as he rode to
the castle; they kissed the harness of his charger, and ladies tossed
valuable rings and jewellery with their flowers and their kisses sweet.

[Illustration: “THE BURNING BUSH”

A Triptych at Aix Cathedral. Portraits of King René and Queen Jehanne.

Designed by King René, finished by Nicholas de Froment]

Alas for the joys of nations and of individuals! when things are
rosiest, and all tend to good and peace and prosperity, there swoops
down the insatiable mower with his scythe, to garner what men can
least well spare. King Juan III. of Catalonia and Calabria had not
been installed in the kingdom of his grandmother more than one short
year, when he fell ill of plague or poison,--the two fellest foes
to Sovereigns then,--and died at Barcelona on December 13, 1470. He
had fought for his father’s cause and his own right nobly in Italy,
defeating Ferdinand d’Aragon, Alfonso’s son, at Sarno in 1460, but,
beaten at Troia, he fled to Ischia.

The Castle of Beaufort was built upon a lofty rock rising above
the Loire, overlooking the whole of that fertile and lovely valley;
from its battlements both Angers and Saumur were visible. King René
purchased it and its estate in 1469 for 30,000 gold crowns, and
assigned it as part of Queen Jehanne’s fortune. After the King’s death
and burial, and when she had taken a sad and affectionate farewell of
her devoted people in Provence, the royal widow settled down in this
attractive residence, and there spent the residue of her life. The
_Comptes_ contain many items for building materials, decoration, and
furniture, showing King René’s anxiety to make his dear wife’s bijou
residence a very real pleasaunce for her.

René indeed was a master-builder, not merely in the way of a hobby,
but practically and in many places. He studied the works of Leon
Battista Alberti and other famous architects, and entertained and
employed numbers of Italian sculptors. Pietro da Milano was one of
these; he was engaged principally in Barrois, and there added the
duties of director of revels to his other artistic occupations. Marble
busts of René and Jehanne, of Queen Margaret of England and her unhappy
son Edward, Prince of Wales, of Ferri de Vaudémont and Yolande, with
their young son René, and many others, found expression under Pietro’s
skilful chisel. In the “_Farce des Pastoureaux_,” acted at the Palace
of Bar-le-Duc in August, 1463, King René provided costly dresses for
his clever little namesake grandson, then twelve years old, and for
the rest of the juvenile cast; these were made by Noel Bontault,
after Pietro da Milano’s designs. The King and his Court were then in
residence at the Castle of Louppy, which he had repaired along with
the castles of Clermont en Argonne, de Koeurs, and Bonconville, and
where he received and comforted his miserable daughter, the heroic
consort of Henry VI. Queen Jehanne’s ministrations to the forlorn
Queen were tenderly rendered and gratefully received. She is credited
with the characteristically graceful acts of reclothing the fugitive,
and according to Queen Margaret precedence and homage. King René’s
handiwork in all these enterprises was varied and extensive. He painted
the windows, he carved the escutcheons of arms, and he fashioned the
hinges and locks of the doors. The _Comptes_ prove by very many entries
his royal excellence as a craftsman as well as an artist. Scarcely a
church in Barrois, Lorraine, Anjou, and Provence, but bore evidence of
the kingly artistry. Perhaps his two specialities were glass working
and decorating, and wool and silk weaving and embroidery.

One of the most admirable works of the King and Queen,--for Jehanne
was not only the amanuensis of her husband, but his inspirer also,--was
the conception and the elaboration of the procession of the “_Fête
Dieu_” and “_Les Jeux de la Tarasque_.” This pageant originated in the
mind of René when, as a youth, he witnessed with emotion in 1427, at
Bar-le-Duc, “_La Mystère de la Passion_,” under the direction of Conrad
Bayer, Bishop of Metz. Thirty years of war and travel did not banish
the impression the young Christian warrior gained, and from time to
time in Anjou and elsewhere he composed _rondeaux_, _ballades_, and
_chansons_, in a masque or mystery which he called “_Le Roy Avenir_.”
In 1474 the King and Queen assisted at Aix at the first rendition of
“_Les Jeux de la Fête Dieu_.” This was preceded by “_La Procession du
Sacré_”--the Procession of the Sacred Host. All the clergy, nobles,
troubadours, pretty women, and gallant knights, of Provence assisted,
and all the trade corporations took part. Everybody in the procession
carried upon the tip of a white wand a piece of _pain béni_. Each
section of the cortège was a moving spectacle or pageant. The first
section, by acclamation, exhibited “_Lon Grand Juée deis Diables_”--the
Grand Play of the Devils. The devils were black and red and green, and
every youth’s ambition was to figure as a Prince of Darkness; indeed,
in later times a young fellow based his claim to be a devil on the
fact that his father and all his ancestors had been devils, so “_c’est
pourquoi ne le serrais je pas!_”

To “the Devils” succeeded “the Magi,” “the Innocents of Bethlehem,”
“the Apostles,” “the Queen of Sheba and Solomon,” and other _tableaux
movants_ from Scriptural sources. Most amusing were “The Play of
the Jews,” represented by human cats--a reference to the features
characteristic of the race; “_Les Chevaux fringants_,” hobby-horses
played by four-and-twenty children, dressed as knights of the “Lists”;
a masque of morris-dancers. The two last spectacles were lugubrious:
“The Company of Lepers” and “The March of Death.”

The revels filled five whole days in and out of church, through
and through the streets and squares, and out into the open
pleasure-grounds. Prizes were awarded, honours bestowed, and profits
made, and everybody was the better for the prodigality of “_le bon
Roy_” and the graciousness of “_la bonne Royne_.”

René had been in early life remarkable for his simple tastes and
abstemiousness in food and drink, and Queen Isabelle was equally
careful in personal matters. Their lives were passed in strenuous times
when self-denial required great sacrifices of individual indulgences.
Isabelle was a soldier’s wife, Jehanne the consort of a statesman when
life’s battle had given way to the ease of peace. Both were attractive
women, few their superiors, but Isabelle’s hand was upon the hilt of
the sword and the snaffle of the charger. Jehanne’s held the mirror of
fashion and the goblet of pleasure. After René and Jehanne had arranged
their domestic settlement in Provence, at once their Court became noted
for its magnificent hospitality. René employed the first master-cook of
the day, Maestro Guillaume Real, as his Master of the Household. People
nicknamed him “_Courçon_,” as marshal of the courses of a banquet,
rather than “_Soupçon_,” the secret of each! The royal repasts were
arranged as spectacles; at the cross high table were placed the hosts
and guests of honour, and at tables down the hall other guests were
accommodated. The walls were hung with silver and crystal sconces full
of torches or tapers, and the trophies of war and the chase belonging
to the house were there displayed. The covers and the service were as
rich and costly as could be. Gold, enamels, crystals, rare faience, and
other art treasures, were used with lavish taste.

Each course was proclaimed heraldically by blasts of horns and
_motets_ from the music gallery. The high table was served by knights
and men of rank, who bore the splendid bowls and dishes upon napery of
cloth of gold. The richer viands were enclosed in golden caskets, and
the keys offered to the guests, who in turn unlocked them and took or
refused their contents. Some of the confections have not their parallel
to-day. One table, for example, was made to represent a stag-hunt,
another a village revel, one a castle with a moat of rare vintage,
another an abbey church with bells pealing and hidden children singing.
Small animals and birds, and actually growing trees and flowers, were
used. The roast and the dessert were the _pièces de résistance_; each
was carried up the hall in gay procession with much ceremonious bowing,
and guarded by archers of the guard in gorgeous liveries. At the sight
of any very splendid and appealing course the whole lordly company were
wont to burst out into song--a well-known and lengthy _chanson_; it was
called “_Le Sauve-garde de ma Vie_.”

Over the anticlimax of the feast the kindly chroniclers usually draw a
discreet veil, for warriors in the field were vanquished in the hall,
and beauties beloved in the boudoir were forgotten in the debauch.
We may suppose rightfully, however, that the hospitalities of René
and Jehanne never caused a flush of shame or a prick of scorn. They
aimed at and happily succeeded in proving that “_il n’y pas au monde
de royauté comparable au bonheur d’être aimé d’elle_,” as the King
prettily termed it.

For twenty-five years the simple delights of a useful domestic life
were serenely enjoyed by the happy King and Queen. Their spirit of
contentedness hallowed the homes of their people, and Provence became
a paradise of peace. Certainly the want of children caused Jehanne
many a pang, but the devotion of a good husband, one so accomplished,
so unselfish, and so universally beloved, was a real compensation,
and she had learned the lesson of mingled weal and woe. She found
congenial occupation in furthering the good intentions of the King
and in ministering to all in need around her. She had, nevertheless,
quasi-maternal cares, for in the palace at Aix and in other royal
residences were several children and young people of both sexes,
besides the three acknowledged bastards by convention, who could lay
claim to royal parentage. Some of these are mentioned in _Les Comptes_
as receiving alimony and gifts from René. An entry on July 8, 1466,
records the gift to Demoiselle Odille of a pelisse of marten fur.
She was then somewhere about twenty years of age, but had charge of
the King’s rings and jewellery under the eye of Sieur Guillaume de
Remerville, the Treasurer of the Household. René had married her, in
1460, to Gaspare Spinola, a Genoese attendant in his train, who died
in 1465, leaving his child-widow to the care of her father. Another
child is also named, Hélène,--“_la petite Hélène_,” as René called
her,--an attractive little creature, “singing like a lark and dancing
like a gazelle,” who died on her fifteenth birthday, in the year 1469.
The King liked to have her near him at meal-times, when he fondled her
affectionately, “_comme ma vraie fille_.”

Besides these family cares, Queen Jehanne devoted much of her time
to feminine industries. In the convents, in the workshops, in the
fields, were poor girls and women needing assistance and encouragement.
The example of “good Queen Yolande” was ever before her eyes, and
she strove to make herself not only mistress of their hearts, but of
their occupations. Spinning, weaving, embroidering, and generally all
needlework, found her an accomplished executant. She, too, could use
her brush and palette, in miniature and in large, and her chisel and
mallet both in wood and stone, and she was a very excellent artificer
in gold and silver work. Her benefactions were on the most liberal and
most catholic scale; no good cause was overlooked, and when she came
to make her will, paragraph after paragraph was taken up by bequests
to charitable institutions and to cherished needy individuals. If
less devout than her sister-in-law, Queen Marie, and less religiously
exercised, Queen Jehanne was a model daughter of the Church, and
none recognized this more completely than His Holiness the Pope, who
bestowed upon her the precious decoration of the Golden Rose, “for
virtue as a spouse and benevolence as a Queen.”

Approaching her jubilee,--an anxious period for many women,--the good
Queen fell away in health, and appeared to be sickening for her end.
Poison was hinted at, but in all probability she suffered, not from
poison designedly administered, but from the poison of the atmosphere,
laden time out of mind, in those low-lying lands near the mouths of the
Rhine, with the seeds of disease--the dreaded plague and black-death.

Happily, Jehanne was able, through her robust constitution and
abstemious way of life, to throw off the evil effects of her malady;
but no sooner had she regained her accustomed vigour than a crushing
sorrow came to her--the mortal illness of her cherished spouse, King
René. His was a green old age, with his venerable but erect figure
and his winning if somewhat melancholy expression. His blue eyes and
gracious aspect drew forth confidence all round, and his gentle voice
and genial manners excited true affection. Dressed almost with monkish
severity in a great long coat of black silk or velvet, with a heavy
collar and revers of brown squirrel fur, and wearing a girdle with a
crucifix and beads, his long white hair was capped by a simple velvet
_berretta_, and he displayed neither jewels nor decorations, only his
Sovereign’s badge and chain of gold. He was a typical father of his
people.

Struck down mysteriously one day at Mass in the Cathedral of Aix by a
stalking epidemic,--he had not spared himself in visits of condolence
to the stricken and bereaved,--in the springtide of 1480, the King
was borne tenderly to the palace. No more tender nurse could there be
than his devoted consort. She took her station at once at his bedside,
and, laying her head upon his pillow, she cheered and solaced him as
none other could; only did she rouse herself for needful ablutions,
for food, and for the saying of the “Hours” in the oratory. With her
was a little maiden, René’s grandchild Marguerite, thirteen years of
age, Yolande de Vaudémont’s daughter, a great pet of Queen Jehanne. The
child had the sweetest of sweet voices,--a quality very precious in the
estimation of the King,--and she soothed his sufferings and refreshed
his weaknesses by childish songs and minstrelsy, whilst she stroked his
withered hands and in them placed her own.

At dawn of day, July 10, amid the rustling of the summer foliage
outside the wide-open windows of the palace, came whisperings from the
sick-room--soft, low, and sad: “_Le bon Roy est mort!_” It was gently
told to the weeping Queen by the royal physicians, but her Ladies of
Honour in the anteroom caught the ominous news besides. They stole
outside the heavy arras and told the terrible secret to the valets and
men-at-arms; then it flashed out through the galleries and across the
courtyards, and stayed the janitors of the gates as they prepared to
open them as usual for the new day’s life. “_Le bon Roy est mort!_”
soon was echoed through the city streets, and tears and protestations
of affection and tender souvenirs of regret found full utterance. “_Le
bon Roy is mort!_” was like the knell of doom. No one could realize it
or prophesy.


III.

No one has told us of Queen Jehanne’s sorrow--better so. No stranger
ever shares a full heart’s loss. Broken, but submissive and
self-sustained, her consort’s fortitude in distress had come to her as
well; she failed not at the moment of her trial. With her own hands she
led the last offices of reverent duty to the dead. Shrouded in a simple
white linen shift, but covered with the crimson and ermine mantle of
state, they laid their deceased Sovereign upon the canopied bed of
Estate, moved to the centre of the great hall. The Queen herself had
closed his eyes, and now she arranged his hands. In them she placed a
costly ruby cross he had given her at her marriage; at his feet she
laid the “_Livre des Heures_,” which was also his nuptial gift; and
then she placed around his neck the Sovereign’s jewel,--there was no
heir to wear it, alas!--and last of all she knelt and sprinkled holy
water on his corpse.

Every door and window was set wide ajar that, night or day, all might
see and pray and bless. Dusk fell on that long, long day, but the crowd
of loving servants and subjects still surged along reverently to pay
their last respects; and so night fell and passed, not in the peaceful
hush of slumber, but with smothered tread of painful feet and the
smothered sob of woe.

All Aix was hung in black, and on July 14 the streets were lined by
weeping citizens as the funeral cortège of “_le bon Roy_” passed to
the Cathedral of St. Sauveur. The burial casket, after the requiem and
Court ceremonies, was placed, not in a tomb direct, but in a _chapelle
ardente_, and watches of religious mounted guard and prayed. Soon the
wish of their venerated Sovereign was made public property, and then,
amid fresh lamentations lest Aix should lose his remains, appeals were
made to Queen Jehanne. She was deeply affected, but remained quiet and
resigned. She could not reverse her husband’s will, but she could allow
his body to remain awhile where it was. With this the authorities had
to be content, and forthwith, to strengthen their hold upon that sacred
casket, steps were taken to erect a splendid monument and tomb. An
embassy was sent off at once to Rome to ask for a “Bull” whereby the
late Sovereign’s directions as to the place of sepulture might be laid
aside. Aix was not so much jealous of Angers as she was devoted to her
King.

In accordance with the marital customs of the time, King René had
a mistress--perhaps more than one, but one at least whose name has
been preserved by chroniclers, Marie de la Chapelle, a respectable
middle-class woman of Provence. Whether “de la Chapelle” was a
sobriquet or not is not clear; probably it was so, and given her later
on in life after the artist King had painted her wearing a _chapelle_,
or black velvet hood, in a diptych, wherein he faces her, which he kept
secretly in his own studio. It is said that she did not really love
René, but liked to rule him and to direct the royal household. She was
exigeant, too, for the legitimatizing of the three children she bore
the King, whom René had always duly acknowledged as his. These were
Jean, “_le Bâtard d’Angers_,” created, after the premature death of
Prince Louis, Marquis de Pont-à-Mousson and Seigneur of St. Cannot;
Blanche; and Madeleine. Jean married Isabelle, daughter of Raymond de
Glandevez, Ambassador to the Pope, pro-Governor of Genoa, and Grand
Master of France. Blanche d’Anjou married Bertrand de Beauvau, Seigneur
de Precigny, Master of the Court of Angers and Seneschal of Anjou. He
was in 1462 appointed President of Provence. His father was Seigneur
de Rochette. René gave his daughter the estate of Mirabeau in Poitou,
which he purchased in 1488. In the _Comptes du Roy René_ is the record
of a gift to Blanche of a gold mirror worth 20 _écus d’or_, under
date January 12, 1488, and the same year, on March 18, she received a
large table diamond from her father, which unfortunately she lost when
playing in a farce before the Court on the following _Jour de l’An_.
The precious bauble was found by a monk, Alfonso de la Rocque, Prior
of the monastery of Les Anges d’Aix, and restored on payment of a tun
of red wine. The discovery was only made known, it appears, through
the confessional; the good friar had qualms about not making known his
find. This Blanche d’Anjou was educated at Beaucaire by Demoiselle
Collette, a worker in furs, who received many costly gifts from King
René. It has been sought to prove that Marie de la Chapelle was this
Demoiselle Collette. Among the King’s gift were homely objects, too.
His _Comptes_, under April 4, 1447, record “three cannes of fine
holland cloth; two ditto fine muslin, and five black silk velvet for
a head-dress.” Another gift to Blanche d’Anjou, on May 16, 1447, was
hair for a _rigotter_, a _coiffure postiche_ for which the King paid
7 florins to Marguerite, wife of Jehan Augier, at Beaucaire. Again
Blanche was the recipient of her father’s generosity, for on June 7
the same year he gave her a cincture of wrought silver which cost 11
florins.

Before Blanche married the Seigneur de Precigny he had buried three
wives, and he himself was buried with them at Angers in October,
1474. She died prematurely in giving birth to a child, April 11,
1470, no more than twenty-one years of age. Madeleine, René’s second
illegitimate daughter, married Louis Jehan, Seigneur de Belleneve,
Chamberlain to Charles VIII. of France when Dauphin. He gave him for
his marriage 15,000 florins, that he might “espouse worthily _ma
cousine_,” as he calls her. Louis XII. gave her on her widowhood a sum
of 12,000 florins.

On the death of King René, his eldest daughter, Yolande, Countess of
Vaudémont, claimed and assumed the title of Queen of Sicily, Jerusalem,
Naples, and Aragon, but took no steps to enforce her claim upon that
vulture monarch, Louis XI., who at once seized upon the lands of his
uncle, and styled himself Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence. Countess
Yolande was her father’s child, tender and retiring. She craved the
charms of the quiet life, and consequently, at the convocation of
the Estates of Anjou and Provence, she renounced her title, and made
it over to her son René. He had already taken up the gauntlet of his
grandfather, and given proof of the sterling qualities of his ancestry.
The duchy of Lorraine and that of Bar were his through his mother also,
and as Duke of Lorraine René II. is known to historians. Countess
Yolande died at Nancy February 21, 1483. René II. was the Prince whom
his father, Ferri de Vaudémont, insisted should make a pilgrimage from
Vezelay,--famous in the history of Thomas à Becket,--the capital of
Le Morvan, to Jerusalem with one foot booted, the other bare, and, as
he went, to distribute to every poor person he met 12 _livres_ by way
of satisfaction for small sums he himself had borrowed and had not
paid back--surely a wide stretch of fatherly authority and the law of
substitution!

The widowed Queen lost little time in settling her affairs in Provence,
for she was minded to go to Anjou with her precious dead; indeed, René
had expressed a wish to that effect. She carefully surveyed the names
of all the people René loved and of those who loved him most nearly
too. To each and all some token was sent or given; she spared few
things for herself. Churches, institutions, schools, guilds, and all
public bodies, received mementoes of the dead monarch. To Jehanne came
many pangs at parting. She had learned to love the gentle Provençals,
and they had not failed to return her regard most warmly. At last her
preparations were completed, and she spent a day and night in the
cathedral by the casket of her dear dead, and then sorrowfully she took
her journey to distant Anjou, home to her kith and kin.

[Illustration: RENÉ D’ANJOU

(_Circa 1470_)

Painted by himself on wood. Aix Library

_To face page 348_]

King René in his will speaks thus of his beloved Queen: “Because
Jehanne has loved me, so I do and shall love her as my dearest wife
till death. Her virtues and her goodness to me I cannot forget, nor her
loving services which she has rendered me for so long a time. I will
that she shall have unrestricted liberty of action to settle, when I
am dead, where she will.… I give to her the county of Beaufort; the
castle and estate of Mirabeau; the town of Aubagne; the castles of San
Remy, Pertuis, and Les Baux, with my _bastides_ in and about Aix and at
Marseilles, with all their furniture and appurtenances.” King René also
specially bequeathed to Jehanne his most valuable jewels: collars of
diamonds; “_le grand et le petit bulay_,” rubies, with sprays of gold
and gems;[A] his diamonds “_à la cesse_,” uncut and strung (?); his
plates and caskets of gold; his great bowls of gold; his great trays of
silver; and his precious goblet and ewer of gold encrusted with jewels;
and many other splendid precious objects.

    [A] “_Le grand bulay_” was a famous ruby, richly mounted, which
    he had bought for 18,000 florins (= £7,000).

With respect to the body of King René, it has been chronicled that the
Queen before leaving Aix made secret arrangements for its translation
to Angers. She feared a hostile demonstration if open measures were
taken. She took into her confidence a priest belonging to the cathedral
chapter, and they together worked out a plan which was put into
operation after Queen Jehanne had arrived at Angers. She sent two of
her most trusty attendants, Jehan de Pastis and Jacquemain de Mahiers,
with an imposing suite, conveying a letter to the Archbishop of Aix
asking for the heart of René. The priestly confidant was at the service
of the envoys, and they very cleverly contrived to secrete the casket
with the King’s body in a royal chariot which the Queen had commanded
to be laden with certain dresses and properties she had left behind,
and in particular the pall she had worked with her own hand, and which
was still covering the dead King’s coffin. The precious burden was
driven to a secluded backwater of the Rhone, and there embarked upon a
great royal barge; and so King René’s body passed through France once
more, as he had so often done in life. The disembarkment of the royal
corpse was effected at Ponts-de-Cé, across the Loire, a few miles out
of Angers, and thence the second obsequies were conducted with splendid
ceremonies and amid universal tokens of joy and sorrow of his Angevine
subjects. The heart was with the body, but the entrails were left at
Aix in the cathedral.

This was the last public appearance of Queen Jehanne. She retired
to her Castle of Beaufort, and there she spent the residue of her
life, eighteen long and solitary years--years never idle, never
self-indulgent, years loyal to the fond memory of her spouse, years
yearning for reunion. The day Jehanne entered her new home was St.
Luke’s festival, 1481, the second summer of the year, when the last
grapes hang ripened upon the vines, and the year’s vintage is gathered
in. Perhaps the simile from Nature enforced itself upon the widowed
Queen’s sympathetic mind. Her harvest was now that of the quiet
eye; its growth had been when eye met eye--hers and René’s; now was
approaching the winter of her life, when her work was to be finished
and her rest full-garnered.

Jehanne chose as the companions of her widowhood three trusty
servitors--René de Breslay, her Seneschal; Thibault de Cossé, her
Master of the Household; and Bernard de Praneas, her Confessor. She
spent her time in prayer and charity. She established hostels for poor
people, for pilgrims and the sick; schools for children left orphans,
and for those cast upon the world by miserable parents. Besides these
pious works, the good Queen preserved her interest in such arts and
crafts as she and René had encouraged in Provence. She studied once
more books and sciences he had loved, she painted miniatures, composed
madrigals and hymns, and sang and played as she had done for him, and
her pen became that of the ready writer. She translated Guillaume de
Guillerville’s tragedy, “The Pilgrimage of Human Life”; “The Soul
separated from the Body,” a poem by Jehan Galoppez, a priest of Angers
and her Private Secretary; and a moralization upon “The Certainty of
Paradise.” All her works were, however, in prose, which, she said
“_conservez le sens et les images, mais déliverez moi du martelage et
des grimaces de ce baragouin!_”[A]

    [A] “Preserve the sense and the shape, but protect me from
    forced metaphor and gibberish!”

Perhaps the action which most endeared the memory of the good Queen
to the hearts and minds of the people about her was the extraordinary
pains she took to alleviate taxation and to readjust tribute. When René
took over the estate in 1471, he made vast reductions in the imposts
on land and stock and crop. These were confirmed by Queen Jehanne ten
years later, and further reductions were conceded. Her plea to herself
was: “Now René is no more, I have no other rôle to play but to do as he
would have wished me.” The Forest of Beaufort, where René and she had
followed the chase in princely fashion, now no longer echoed the blast
of hunting-horns and the cracks of hunting-whips, but with the gentle
notes of the _Angelus_, and when the curfews rang out in neighbouring
village and homestead, they carried with them the refrain, “_Priez pour
la bonne Jehanne_.”

These soft nocturnes and sweet visions of ancient days still linger
in Anjou. The memory of the Queen of Sicily, Jehanne, is cherished,
and almost a proverb it has become, that all good things done in that
rich province are due to the watchful spirit of the Queen. In this
connection a very weird narrative may be told. In 1469 Guillaume
de Harancourt, Bishop of Verdun, invented a cage of wood and iron
for refractory criminals. One such was sent to Angers, which after
Jehanne’s death became known as the “cage of the Queen of Sicily.” It
was said that Jehanne had been put therein wearing wooden sabots. The
why and wherefore of her incarceration was perfectly uncertain, but the
sabots are to-day in Angers Museum; the cage has disappeared. Another
version has it that King René had among his wild creatures at Reculée
and elsewhere a very ferocious eagle which he could not tame, and so
the bird was sent to Angers and placed in the Bishop’s wood and iron
cage, and dubbed “_La Reine_”--“The Queen”! This bird of prey deserved
the name; its appetite was prodigious. In _Les Comptes_, among other
entries referring to “her Majesty,” is--“June 3, 1474, ‘La Reine’ has a
whole sheep day by day.” This is quaint indeed, but characteristic of
stories and storytellers!

Queen Jehanne died at the Castle of Beaufort, December 19, 1498,--as
the chroniclers tell us,--“in the odour of sanctity and with all the
consolations of Holy Church.”

The Queen’s will--a most lengthy document--contains many affecting and
many quaint bequests. She first of all commends herself conventionally
to the Almighty, and then goes on to indicate her desire to be laid
not far from “Marie of blessed memory”--her consort’s grandmother,
Marie de Blois-Châtillon--“before the altar where is laid my lord and
consort,” and she warns all and sundry against laying any other bodies
there. Her heart she bequeaths to the Chapel of St. Bernardin, within
the Church of the Cordeliers at Angers, to be placed beside that of
René. She directs that her body shall be covered with a pall of black
silk, and that at her funeral six poor religious should attend habited
in black, and each bearing a flaming torch. Her heart and René’s should
repose upon a pall of cloth of gold embroidered in crimson, and bearing
their joined shields of arms. Lights shall always burn in front of the
tomb and the cardial reliquary. She instructs her brother and nephew,
Seigneurs de la Roche and de Montafiland, to hand over to the Chapter
of St. Maurice in Angers 200 _livres tournois_ (_circa_ £120) to pay
for her burial cortège, and for Mass, absolutions, vespers, and bells.
Particularly she notes her preference for flags of _bougran_--stuff
(?)--over silken banners.

The day after her interment the Queen directs that with reverent
ritual a crown shall be placed over her head like that she placed over
René’s, upon their monument. Certain saintly relics which he and she
had been the means of rescuing from sacrilege, and had deposited in
the Church of St. Tugal de Laval, shall be displayed gratuitously to
“such _dames comtesses_ as may wish to become mothers.” Her “Breviary,”
“Psalter,” “Hours,” and other books of devotion, she bequeaths to the
Church of St. Tugal de Laval, for the use of daughters of her father’s
house at their marriage or when residing in Laval. Two gold rings she
particularly desires to be placed upon the relics of St. Nicholas
d’Angers, within his reliquary: “one, my wedding-ring, which my very
redoubtable lord and consort,--whom God absolve,--placed upon my
finger at our nuptials, with a small heart of diamonds and enamelled
with deep red roses.” The other ring had a large diamond mounted on
a fleur-de-lis, and the band bore the enamelled arms of Anjou. Queen
Jehanne did not forget her friends and attendants; for example, among
very many legacies, she left 200 _livres tournois_ each to three
ladies: Jacqueline de Puy du Jour, Catherine Beaufilz, and “_ma
petite_” Gindine de la Jaille, to provide them with trousseaux upon
marriage.

The body of the Queen was reverently shrouded in a plain linen
chemise, such as that with which she herself had assisted to cover King
René’s corpse, and over it was placed his robe of state. Hers was the
last lying in state of a Queen of Sicily, and every mark of homage and
respect was rendered her remains by high and low. Peasants and citizens
conspired together to show their grateful sense of her virtues and her
benefactions, and the country road from Beaufort to Angers was lined
with sympathetic crowds of mourners. Her passing was in the night
time,--so consonant with her love of seclusion and simplicity,--and the
whole country-side was ablaze with torches and bonfires. The Queen’s
burial was at St. Maurice’s Cathedral, in the tomb of her consort;
whilst her heart,--“so full of love and so tenderly beloved,”--in a
golden casket exactly like that of the King, was placed next his in
the Chapel of St. Bernardin. Upon a memorial tablet was inscribed the
epitaph: “Here lies the Heart of the very high and puissant Princess,
Jehanne de Laval, second wife of King René, and daughter of Guy, Count
de Laval.”

The monument to King René, which she at last came to share in blessed
memory, had his effigy reclining, and at his feet a sculptured lion,
symbol of courage; at Jehanne’s feet were carved two hounds, emblematic
of fidelity. The Chapel of St. Bernardin thus became the royal
mausoleum of the last Anjou dynasty--René, with his father and mother,
his two wives, his eldest son, and his two daughters, in holy company;
and so they remained for 300 years, until that cataclysmatic year 1793,
when every holy stone was tumbled down and every reverent memorial
defaced. The memorial chapel was for centuries a thing of beauty. King
René himself painted the glass windows and designed the tomb. Soon
after his marriage with Jehanne de Laval he employed Francesco Laurana
and Pietro da Milano to decorate the chapel.

Soon after the death of King René, Sieur Guillaume de Remerville,--his
Treasurer at Aix,--voiced the universal sorrow and permanent regret of
all the royal servants of his lord in a beautiful funeral ode, which he
dedicated to “Queen Jehanne, his worshipful mistress”:

      “Pleurez, petits et grands! Pleurez!
      Car perdu avez le bon Sire.
      Jamais ne le recouverierez--
      Sa mort sera grief martyir.”

      “Weep little, weep great, weep all!
      For we have lost our good Lord.
      Ne’er more his form to recall--
      Hearts broken by his mord.”

Such was the refrain. The same loving dirge of woe was re-echoed
through Anjou and Provence when Jehanne passed royally to her burial.

[Illustration: KING RENÉ’S SIGNATURE.]



BIBLIOGRAPHY


AUTHORITIES CONSULTED

I. LE ROI RENÉ.

    “Histoire de Roi René.” Vicomte F. L. Villeneuve-Bargement. 3
    vols. Paris, 1825.

    “Le Roi René: Sa Vie, son Administration, ses Travaux
    Artistiques et Littéraires.” A. Lecoy de la Marche. Paris, 1875.

    “Le Roi René en Lorraine.” Le Chanoine Cherrier. Marseilles,
    1895.

    “Vie de Roi René.” R. Legonvello. Angers, 1731.

    “Le Roi René et la Fête de Charité, 1448.” J. B. Gaut. Aix,
    1869.

    “Le Duc René.” Gaston Save. Nancy, 1899.

    “Les Comptes de Roi René.” 3 vols. Paris, 1909.

    “Les Tournois de Roi René.” Paris, 1826.

    “Œuvres de Roi René.” Comte A. de Quatrebarbes. 2 vols. Angers,
    1885.

II. MISCELLANEOUS.

    “Histoire de l’Ordre de Chevalerie.” F. F. Steenackers. Paris,
    1867.

    “Les MSS. et les Miniatures.” Lecoy de la Marche. Paris, 1884.

    “La Chronique des Roys de France.” J. de Ongoys. Paris, 1579.

    “Chroniques et Mémoires.” Juvenal des Ursins (1400-1472).
    Paris, 1653.

    “Le Règne de Charles VII.” G. Du Fresne de Beaucourt. Paris,
    1856.

    “Histoire de Charles VII.” A. Bandot de Juilly. Paris, 1754.

    “Histoire Généalogique de la Maison de Bar,” etc. A. Du Chesne.
    Paris, 1631.

    “Étude de la Vie Privée d’Anjou du XV. Siècle.” A. Joubert.
    Paris, 1884.

    “Histoire des Reines Jeanne I. et II.” A. T. Guzot. Paris, 1700.

    “Le Orgie della Reina Giovanna II. da Napoli.” G. Cattallani.
    Naples, 1895.

    “Storia della Regina Giovanna II. d’Anzio.” N. F. Faraglia
    Naples, 1904.

    “Coustumes du Pays et Duché Dainon.” 1510.

    “Coûtumes d’Anjou.” A. Beautemps-Beaupré. 4 vols. Paris 1881.

    “Histoire de Lorraine.” A. Calmet. 3 vols. Paris.

    “Histoire de Provence.” J. E. Papon. Aix, 1786.

    “Chroniques de Charles VII.” A. Chartier. Paris, 1528.

    “Mémoires Sécrets de la Cour de Charles VII.” Madame D(urand).
    Paris, 1735.

    “Maison de Laval.” Comte Bertrand de Brousillon. Angers, 1895.

    “La Chorographie de Provence.” H. Bouche. 1664.

    “Mélanges.” J. B. Champillon. Paris, 1809.

    “Lettres Autobiographiques.” A. Charavaz. 1884.

    “Chroniques des Ducs de Bourgogne.” G. Chastellain. Paris, 1825.

    “Anecdotes des Reines de France.” Paris, 1785.

    “Musée des Monuments Français.” A. Lenoir. 5 vols. Paris.

    “Le Moyen Age.” P. La Croix. 5 vols. Paris, 1848.

III. PERIODICALS.

    “Bibliothèque Nationale”--“Album des Portraits.”

    “Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine et Loire.” Vol. vi.

    “Revue d’Anjou.” Vol. xv.

    “Revue Historique d’Angers.” Vol. xviii.

    “Revue Numismatique d’Anjou.” Vol. i.

    “Bulletin Société Industrielle d’Angers.” Vol. x.

    “Mémoires de la Société Agriculturelle d’Angers.” 1850, 1866,
    1872.

    “Bulletin Mensuel de la Société d’Archéologie Lorraine.” Vol. i.

    “Dictionnaire Biographique de Maine et Loire.” Vol. i.

    “Documents Historiques de l’École des Chartes.” 1873.

    “Recherches Historiques sur l’Angers.” Vols. i. and ii.

    “Recherches Historiques sur le Saumur.” Vols. i. and ii.

    “Archivio Storico Lombardo.” 1894.

    “Joyeuses Histoires de nos Pères.” Paris, 1891, etc.

    “Revue Historique et Archéologique du Maine.” Vols. xv. and xvi

    “Réunion des Sociétés des Beaux Arts.” Vols. v. and xxxii.

IV. IN ENGLISH.

    “History of Louis XI” P. Mathieu. London, 1814.

    “Romantic Episodes of France.” H. Vance. Dublin, 1868.

    “Old Provence.” J. A. Cooke. 2 vols. London, 1905.

    “Troubadours and Courts of Love.” J. F. Rowbotham. London, 1895.

    “Troubadours at Home.” J. H. Smith. 2 vols. London, 1899.

    “Life and Times of Margaret of Anjou.” M. A. Bookham. London,
    1872.

    “Lives of the Queens of England.” A. Strickland. Vol. i.
    London, 1864.

    “Close of Middle Ages.” R. Lodge. London, 1908.

    “Life of Joan d’Arc.” Lord Mahon. London, 1876.

    “Paston Letters” (1422-1509). 4 vols. Reprint, 1901.



INDEX


  “A Henry! A Henry!” 296, 298

  Alagni, Lucrezia d’, 251

  Alliance, A great, 262

  Animals and birds, Love of, 213, 214, 352

  ANJOU, Anne of (daughter of King René), 141
    Blanche of (natural daughter of King Louis II.), 68
    Blanche of (natural daughter of King René), 68, 254, 267
    Charles, Duke of (brother of King Charles VI. of France, the elder
        Anjou line), 24, 25
    Charles of, Duke of Maine I. (brother of King René), 24, 57, 86, 87,
        92, 93, 307
    Charles of, Duke of Maine II. (son of above), 57, 165, 328, 329
    Foulques-Nerra, Count of, 92
    Hélène of, “La Petite” (natural daughter of King René?), 341
    Isabelle of (daughter of King René), 141
    Jean of (son of King René), Duke of Calabria and Lorraine, King of
        Catalonia, 85, 90, 91, 104, 108, 113, 114, 124, 127, 134, 140,
        244-254, 264, 270, 279, 280, 291
    Jean of (natural son of King René), 254
    Louis I., King-Duke of, see Kings
    Louis II., King-Duke of, see Kings
    Louis III., King-Duke of, see Kings
    Louis de Maine of (natural son of King Louis II.), 68
    Madeleine of (natural daughter of King René), 254
    Margaret of (daughter of King René), see Queens
    Nicholas of (son of King René), 85, 141, 254-258, 328
    Odille of, “La Demoiselle” (natural daughter of King René?), 341
    René, King-Duke of, 17-356
    René of (son of King René), 141
    Yolande of (sister of King René), see Brittany
    Yolande of (daughter of King René), see Vaudémont

  ARCHITECTS:
    Leon Battista Alberti, 20, 236;
    Francesco Brunellesco, 20;
    Giovanni Capistrani, 340;
    Cennino Cennini, 20

  Armagnac, Mahaud d’, 34, 38
    Three Graces of, 260


  Banquet, A sumptuous, 129, 211

  BAR, Bonne of, wife of Nicholas de Ligny, 34, 80
    Édouard of, 34, 69
    Frederic, Count of, 32
    Henry IV., Count of, 32
    Iolande of Flanders, Countess of, 32-34
    Jehan of, 34, 69
    Louis, Cardinal of, 69, 77-81, 86, 98-103, 162, 191
    Marie of France, Duchess of, 32, 34, 49, 69, 80
    Robert I., Duke of, 32, 69, 78
    Violante (Yolanda), see Queens

  Barragana, A, 30

  Bare breasts, 56, 186, 188, 262

  Bare feet, A Duchess’s, 97

  BATTLES:
    Azincourt, 34, 64, 69, 96;
    Arienzo, 20, 130, 131;
    Baugé, 82;
    Bulgneville, 88, 109-115, 130, 192, 238, 256;
    Gaeta, 241;
    Montpiloir, 168;
    Rocca-Secca, 219;
    Rosebach, 96;
    Sarno, 335;
    Troia (I.), 250;
    Troia (II.), 252, 335
    Wars of the Roses:
      Barnet, 297;
      Bloreheath, 282;
      Hexham, 287;
      Northampton, 282;
      St. Albans, 281, 284;
      Towton, 285;
      Wakefield, 280

  Beaufort, Cardinal, 261, 262, 264, 275

  Beauty, A village, 83, 147

  “Belles, La Belle des,” see Agnes Sorel

  “Better die right out!” 297

  “Bloody Edward,” 298, 304

  Blushing maids, 45

  Bois Chènus, Le, 144, 173, 190

  “Bourges, The little Queen of,” 174

  “Bourges, The little King of,” 188, 279

  “Box her ears!” 147, 198

  Bride burnt to death, A, 88

  BRITTANY, Arthur de Richemont of, 126, 133, 207
    Charles, Duke of, 127, 185
    Francis, Duke of, 286
    Francis, Count of Montfort, 86
    Isabelle of, 72, 88
    Jean VI., Duke of, 71, 88, 116, 207, 307
    Yolande of Anjou, Countess of Montfort, 86

  BURGUNDY, Catherine of, 62, 70, 71, 76, 79
    Isabelle of Portugal, Duchess of, 65, 126
    Jean, Duke of, 62, 70, 71, 91, 99, 182-184
    Philippe, Duke of, 25, 96, 102, 108, 111, 113, 115, 116, 120, 126,
        127, 138, 159, 163, 184, 236, 243-254, 258-260, 288-290, 329

  Burlesque, A royal, 289


  CASTLES:
    Aix, 19, 333, 340;
    Amboise, 294, 295;
    Angers, 19, 43, 44, 51, 60, 67, 72, 169, 191, 258, 293, 295, 309, 331;
    Auray, 307;
    Aversa, 227;
    Bar-le-Duc, 88, 103, 254, 291;
    Bastile, 183;
    Baugé, 82;
    Beaufort, 335, 350, 352;
    Bisclin, 40;
    Blois, 179;
    Bonconville, 336;
    Bourges, 64, 165, 181, 192, 201, 215;
    Bourmont, 81, 113;
    Bracon (Tour-de-Bar), 112, 119, 120, 138, 192, 193, 238, 242, 249;
    Breauté, 196, 197;
    Capua, 232, 257;
    Castel Nuovo, 232;
    Châtille, 113;
    Charmes, 113;
    Châteaudun, 182;
    Chinon, 134, 154, 160, 189, 194, 201, 214, 253, 261, 286, 309;
    Clermont, 113, 139, 173, 259, 336;
    Coucy, 88, 95;
    Dampière, 304;
    dell’ Ovo, 222;
    Dourdan, 177;
    Forcalquier, 76;
    Gaeta, 245;
    Gerona, 46;
    Gien, 192;
    Harlech, 283;
    Koeurs, 336;
    Kuerere, 291;
    La Ferté, 81;
    Launay-les-Saumur, 318;
    Laval, 307;
    Les Baux, 320, 321, 348;
    Loches, 170, 171, 181, 199, 201;
    Louppy, 336;
    Marseilles, 19, 333;
    Maulevrier, 196;
    Mehun-sur-Yèvre, 63, 184, 214;
    Mesnil-la-Belle, 198;
    Middleham, 292;
    Montpellier, 45;
    Muro, 217;
    Nancy, 19, 95, 106, 109, 114, 133, 134, 149, 150, 254, 265;
    Nantes, 270;
    Nesle, 177;
    Pertuis, 349;
    Pierrepoint, 103;
    Plessis-lès-Tours, 203;
    Pont-à-Mousson, 253;
    Queniez, 304;
    Reculée, 19, 214, 302, 303, 334, 352;
    Renancourt, 81;
    Renne, 259;
    Sarry-le-Château, 313;
    Saumur, 19, 91, 136, 185, 258, 261, 296, 309;
    St. Mihiel, 101;
    St. Pol, 289;
    San Remy, 349;
    Talant, 110;
    Tarascon, 19, 50, 134, 137, 256, 258, 333;
    Toulouse, 44, 57;
    Tourg, 101;
    Tours, 201, 203, 211;
    Troyes, 184;
    Val-de-Cassel, 34;
    Varennes, 259;
    Vienne, 254;
    Zaragoza, 31

  Cathedral, A magnificent, 163-168

  “Cell, Fit for a,” 279

  Champion of champions, 265, 312

  Chapelle, Marie de la, 21, 345, 346

  Châtelaines, 54, 59, 139, 180, 181, 196, 320, 329

  Chemises, 195

  Child marriages, 94

  Claimants for a throne, 41, 42, 62, 63, 245, 246

  Coffin, Golden hair in a, 321

  “Comptes de Roy René, Les,” 28, 29, 60, 182, 213, 266, 331, 336, 337, 346

  Conclave, A sacred, 157

  “Confrèrerie de la Passion, La,” 256

  “Conquête de la Doulce Mercy, La,” 23, 324-326

  Cooking, Art of, 53, 211, 339

  Coronations, Royal, 41-43, 165-168, 237, 274, 275

  Correcte, Friar Thomas, 186-188

  Country life, Joys of a, 318, 321, 322, 340

  Court, A frivolous, 190

  “Courts of Love,” 35, 37, 42, 320

  Courtiers, see Nobles

  CRAFTSMEN:
    Colin d’Angers, 302;
    Juan d’Arragona, 27;
    Jean Butort, 60;
    François Castargis, 267;
    Jehan Dueceux, 60;
    Julien Guillot, 60;
    Henri Henniquin, 27;
    Jehan le Gracieux, 27;
    Jehan de Nicholas, 27;
    Guillaume le Pelletier, 27;
    Guillaume de la Planche, 266;
    Luigi Rubbotino, 27;
    Guillaume Real (chef), 339;
    Jean Tubande, 271

  CRAFTSWOMEN:
    Marguerite Chamberlayne, 273;
    Demoiselle Collette, 346;
    Jehanne Despert, 27

  Cry, A piteous, 173

  Cupid’s ways, 87, 140, 310

  “Curse on life! A,” 313, 314


  Dame de Courrages, La, 180, 181

  Dancing fool, A, 251

  Dare-devils, 221-223

  Day, An ill-omened, 296

  Delicacies, 48, 53

  “Devils at home,” 315

  Devils and hobby-horses, 338

  Disguise, A royal, 34, 47

  Divorce, A royal, 218, 219

  Dowries, Royal, 49, 70, 76, 114, 127, 196, 198, 218, 259, 317, 346, 347

  Dress, A reformer of, 186-189

  Dresses, Gorgeous, 233, 234, 266, 267, 311


  Elopement, A royal, 138, 139

  EMPERORS:
    Charlemagne, 282, 307;
    Lothair, 95;
    Otto III., 32;
    Robert III., 95;
    Sigismund, 118, 119, 253;
    Wenceslas, 212

  Erotic ascendancy, 197


  Farewell, A sad, 269

  Fashions, 48, 49, 55, 56, 67, 186, 187, 194, 195, 202, 267

  FAVOURITES, ROYAL:
    Pandolfo Alopo, 222, 223;
    Sergianni Caracciolo, 223, 228-231, 237, 238;
    Sforza da Colignola, 222, 223, 228-232;
    Bartolommeo Colleone, 224;
    Braccio Fortebraccio, 229-232

  Feast of Folly, 37

  Fête Dieu at Aix, La, 337, 338

  Fête des Fous, La, 210

  Fêtes and sports, see Merrymakings

  Fierbois, The sword of, 154, 160, 166

  Flagellations, 181

  Foix, Cardinal de, 317

  Foul deed, A, 298

  Foul-play, 182-184, 205, 206, 218


  GARDENS:
    Lovely Tarascon, 50;
    Bar-le-Duc, 80;
    Aversa, 234, 235;
    Les Baux, 320, 321

  Garters, Chained, 267

  “Gaya Ciencia, La,” 31, 36, 37, 46, 53

  Genoa, Maiden offering at, 314

  Girls, Character of, 45;
    tribute of, 128

  “Give me René d’Anjou!” 143

  Glee-maidens, 31, 35, 256, 274

  Glory of France, Everything for the, 200

  Golden Rose, The, 119

  “Grey wolf of Anjou, The,” 304

  Grotto, Voices in a, 235


  Hard-heads, 36

  Hairdressing, 49, 67, 148, 164, 187, 194, 195, 202, 204, 261, 266,
      267, 268, 311

  Hair in a coffin, Golden, 321

  Harvest of a quiet eye, 350

  Heart, A pierced, 290

  Herring, Only one, 290

  Highwaymen, 33, 132

  “Hold your tongue!” 230

  Honour, Dames and Maids of, 186, 222, 226, 234, 264

  “Hope of England, The,” 298

  Horsewoman, A splendid, 150, 151

  Hostages, Royal, 113-116, 120


  Jacques d’Arc, 143, 144, 167

  Jeanne d’Arc, “La Pucelle,” 83-87, 143-173, 189-192, 236, 253

  “Jeanne soit bonne,” 145

  Jehanne de Laval, see Queens

  Jehanne the Inspirer, 330

  Jewels, 35, 43, 49, 56, 80, 128, 196, 202, 203, 234, 247, 266-268, 275,
      276, 289, 309, 315, 335, 346, 349, 354

  Jews, 240

  Joke, A royal, 61


  KINGS:
    Alfonso, “The Magnanimous,” of Aragon-Sicily-Naples, 75, 117, 124, 126,
        128, 130, 224, 225, 227-235, 241-258, 280, 334
    Andrew of Hungary, 217, 246
    Charles IV., “The Fair,” of France, 177
    Charles V. of France, 82
    Charles VI. of France, 40, 44, 55, 63-65, 68, 179-181, 193, 209, 265,
        276, 308
    Charles VII. of France, 63-65, 81-85, 88, 91, 109-111, 117, 126, 132,
        154-199, 200-215, 236, 239, 251-254, 260-264, 269-279, 331
    Charles VIII. of France, 294, 347
    Charles II. of Naples, 333
    Charles III. of Naples, 216, 217, 220
    Edward IV. of England, 281-286 292-304
    Ferdinand of Aragon, 221, 227
    Ferdinand I. of Naples, 252, 335
    Henry IV. of England, 295
    Henry V. of England, 56, 65, 72, 181, 184
    Henry VI. of England, 138, 260-263, 272-304, 363
    Henry II. of France, 196
    Iago II. of Aragon, 36
    James III. of Scotland, 285, 290
    Jean II., “The Good,” of France, 29, 32, 44, 65, 67, 73, 80, 127
    Juan I. of Aragon, 32-49, 334
    Juan II. of Aragon-Catalonia, 334
    Juan III. of Aragon-Catalonia, see Jean d’Anjou
    Ladislaus of Naples, 216-220
    Louis IX. (St. Louis) of France, 51, 176
    Louis XI. of France, 85, 175, 197-205, 214, 232, 264, 286-296, 300-304,
        326, 335, 347
    Louis I. of Sicily-Anjou, 29, 39-44, 58, 73, 118
    Louis II. of Sicily-Anjou, 29, 39, 40-46, 55-67, 73, 85, 93, 99,
        174-176, 207, 217-219, 332
    Louis III. of Sicily-Anjou, 57-64, 68-76, 82-89, 117, 121, 165-169,
        185-188, 212, 225-246, 320
    Martino of Aragon-Sicily, 30, 42, 62
    René of Sicily-Anjou-Naples, 17-356
    Robert of Naples, 217
    Philip V., “The Tall,” of France, 177

  King, A libertine, 218;
    meagre fare of a, 182;
    Most Valiant (?), 195;
    skit on a, 201

  Kisses, 47, 52, 75, 137, 152, 195, 201, 208, 209, 226, 255, 257, 269, 335


  “L’Abuzé en Court,” 24, 327, 328

  “Lady of his thoughts, The,” 310

  Lady of the Crest, 306, 310, 311

  “La Française,” 275, 279, 280

  “La Royne Blanche,” 85, 112, 161, 166, 173

  LAVAL, Françoise de Dinan, Countess of, 308
    Guy XIII., Count of, 68, 87, 135-137, 162, 170, 307-312, 316, 317, 355
    Guy XIV., Count of, 307
    Isabelle of Brittany, Countess of, 307
    Jehanne of, see Queens
    Pierre of, 307, 309, 317
    Yolande of, 307

  “Le Bon Roy,” 318, 321, 322, 324, 326, 332, 338, 343

  LEGENDS:
    Nôtre Dame de Sousterre, 35;
    St Catherine les Baux, 320, 321;
    St. Frisette de Reims, 164;
    St. Martha of Bethany, 50, 51, 333;
    St. Maximin d’Aix, 333;
    St. Radegonde de Tours, 157;
    St. Renatus d’Angers, 59, 60

  Leonora, Fair, 225, 231-235

  “Le Sauve-garde de ma Vie,” 340

  LES BAUX, Alix, Countess of, 319
    Cécile of, “La Passe Rose,” 320
    Douce of, 320
    Étiennette of, 320
    Jehanne of, 319
    Raymond, Count of, 320
    Robert Beaufort, Count of, “Le Fléau de Provence,” 319

  “Les Tards-Venus,” 319

  Library, A famous, 120

  “Ligue de Quatre, La,” 73

  Likeness in a lance, A, 331

  “Like Queen Giovanna!” 217

  Lioness at bay, Like a, 303

  LORRAINE, Adelebert, Duke of, 95
    Charles II., Duke of, 88, 95, 96, 98-104, 121, 143, 148-151, 163,
        171, 244, 245
    Isabelle of, see Queens
    Jehan, Count of, 95
    Margaret of Bavaria, Duchess of, 95-100, 104, 105, 110-115, 118, 121,
        148-153, 254
    Marie of, Dame de Soissons, 95
    Raoul, Duke of, 105
    René II., Duke of, 336, 347, 348
    The Pride of, 94, 98, 151, 156

  Love of all the boys, 257

  LOVE, COURTS OF:
    Bar le Duc, 35;
    Zaragoza, 37;
    Barcelona, 42;
    Les Baux, 320

  Love, The Chamber of, 320

  Love Lady-Day, 281, 282

  Loves of Louis and Yolanda, 46
    Charles and Agnes, 192-200
    Charles Dunois and Marie d’Anjou, 208, 209
    Louis and Leonora, 225-235

  Love’s rosebush, 97


  “Magali,” 330

  Maiden tribute, 316

  Maids of Honour, 186, 222, 226, 234, 264

  Maignelais, Antoinette de, 193, 198
    Catherine de, 193

  Malady, A terrible, 276

  Margaret d’Anjou, see Queens

  Margaret, Truce of, 281

  Marguerites, 268, 271, 274

  “Mariage, Quinze Joyes de,” 77

  Marriage ring torn off, 219

  Martyrdom, A royal, 172, 173

  Matchmaking, 35, 39, 64, 65, 70-73, 76, 86-88, 91, 127, 218, 220, 256,
        257, 259, 293, 294

  Matrimonial pros and cons, 99, 100

  Matrons, A panel of, 83, 157, 158, 191

  Mermaid, A Sicilian, 226

  “Merrie Mol, Une,” 289

  Merrymakings, 31, 35-37, 46, 48, 50-54, 61, 72, 91, 104, 134, 135, 139,
        234, 256, 265, 338

  Millionaires, Royal, 58, 62, 182, 212

  Montereau, Derouillée de, 206

  “Mortifiement de Vaine Plaisance, Le,” 23, 317

  MOTTOES:
    “Amour et foy” (Isabelle de Lorraine), 142;
    “Ardent désir” (King René), 134;
    “Fides vitat servata” (King René), title-page

  Murder, 222, 223, 298, 299

  Mystery plays, 38, 52, 265, 274, 337, 338


  Natural children, 30, 68, 196, 220, 227, 252

  NOBLES AND COURTIERS:
    Agout, Raymond d’, 44, 45
    Aigle, Jean, Lord de l’, 60
    Amboise, Louis d’, 206
    Andrews, William (Private Secretary to Henry VI.), 268
    Avellino, Robert, Count of, 245
    Barbazan, Armand, 109, 158, 162, 168
    Baudricourt, Robert de, 147, 148
    Beauvais, Pierre de, 68
    Beauvau, Bertrand de, Lord of Precigny, 267, 346, 347
    Beauvau, Louis de, 20, 26, 137, 312, 317
    Beauprémont, Pierre de, 258
    Belleneve, Louis Jehan, Lord of, 347
    Biège, Pierre de, 68
    Brézé, Jacques de, Count of Maulevrier, 196
    Brézé, Louis de, 196
    Brézé, Pierre de, 287, 288
    Breslay, René de, 350
    Cabarus, Vidal di, 244
    Capua, Andrea di, 219
    Champchevier, Jules, 261
    Charantais, Jehan, 225
    Charny, Adolphe de, 258
    Châtel, Tanneguy de, 20, 182, 184
    Clifford, Lord, 283, 284
    Cœur, Jacques, 182, 212
    Coëtivi, Olivier de, 196
    Cossé, Thibault de, 350
    Couldray, Lord of, 316
    Courrages, Lord of, 180, 181
    Coyrant, Yovunet, 61
    Crepin, Jehan, 76
    Dunois, Count Charles (le Bâtard d’Orléans), 159, 161, 168, 207-211
    Escose, Jean d’, 274
    Falstaff, Sir John, 261
    Fenestranger, Jehan de, 125
    Flavy, Guillaume de, 81
    Fortescue, Sir John, 292
    Gaudel, Antoine de, 258
    Gris, Jehan de, 180
    Harancourt, Gerard de, 125
    Harancourt, Jacques de, 125
    Hérault, Alain le, 28
    La Hire, 159, 161, 168, 182
    Lenoncourt, Philippe de, 30
    Laval, Guy de, 87
    Louvet, Étienne, 207
    Luxembourg, Jehan de, 78
    Maçon, Robert de, 83
    Mahiers, Jacquemain de, 349
    Maignelais, Raoul de, 193
    Mailly, Hardoin de, 186
    Mattaincourt, Jehan de, 81
    Maulevrier, Jacques Odon de, 186
    Metz, Jehan de, 148
    Mezières, Louis de Maine, Lord of, 68
    Montague, Lord, 284
    Montelar, Charles di, Baron, 244
    Moraens, François de la Vignolles de, 304, 305
    Morien, Jehan de, 44, 45
    Oxford, Earl of, 293
    Pastis, Jehan de, 349
    Pulligny, Hugues de, 32
    Remerville, Guillaume de, 355
    Roche, Philippe de Pot, de la, 288
    Roches, Guillaume Chevalier des, 60
    Ruthen, Lord Guy de, 282
    St. Aubin, Pierre, Abbé de, 60
    Salisbury, Earl of, 281, 282, 284
    Sancerre, Antoine de Benil, Count of, 196
    Sarrebouche, Robert de, 78
    Sérancourt, Jehan de, 28
    Somerset, Duke of, 279, 281, 287, 297
    Sorel, Jehan de, 193
    Suffolk, Earl of, 132, 138, 262, 264, 270
    Toreglia, Giovanni di, 251
    Toulongeon, Antoine de, 109, 110
    Trémouille, Pierre de, 158, 161, 168, 207
    Valorey, Barthélèmy de, 68
    Valorey, Gabriel de, 68
    Villerequier, André de, 198
    Warwick, Earl of, 281-284, 292-297
    Wenlock, Lord, 297
    Westmoreland, Earl of, 295
    Xaintrailles, Pothon de, 207

  Nuptials, Royal, 41, 48, 49, 81, 86, 87, 91, 101, 123, 138, 179, 181,
      204, 217, 218, 221, 256, 264, 272, 273, 295, 317


  Obsequies, Royal, 40, 41, 57, 58, 66, 67, 68, 72, 92, 121, 122, 132,
      135, 214, 219, 241, 258, 300, 314, 315, 344, 345, 349, 354

  Ode, A funeral, 356

  “Oh fie! Oh fie!”, 262

  ORDERS:
    of the Sturgeon, 26;
    of the Plough, 26;
    de la Fidélité, 79;
    Toison d’Or, 115;
    du Croissant, 136;
    Golden Rose, 119, 342

  Oriflamme, “The Maid’s” white, 153, 167, 169


  Pack of cards, A famous, 212

  Pageant of the Peasant, The, 329

  PAINTERS:
    Fra Angelico, 20;
    Petrus Christus, 79;
    Hubert Van Eyck, 19, 20, 79;
    Jan Van Eyck, 19, 20, 79;
    Jean Focquet, 19;
    Colantonio del Fiore, 20;
    Angiolo Franco, 20;
    Hans of Antwerp, 260;
    Fra Filippo Lippi, 20;
    Jehannot le Flament, 19, 312;
    Antonio Solario (“Il Zingaro”), 20, 242;
    Paolo Ucello, 20

  Pastoral, A royal, 322

  Payments, Quaint, 271-273

  Peach, Bite a, 206

  Pilgrimage, A warlike, 159-161

  Plot, A royal, 231

  “Plucking the turkey,” 36

  Poison, 89, 205, 206, 218, 313, 342

  “Polluyon,” Ceremony of the, 105

  Poniard, A jewelled, 238;
    a stealthy, 320

  POPES:
    Benedict XIII., 69;
    Boniface IX., 219;
    Clement VII., 40;
    Eugenius IV., 125, 130, 250;
    John XXIII., 80;
    Martin V., 229;
    Nicholas V., 332;
    Sixtus IV., 25

  Porta, Giovanni de la (King René’s confessor), 332

  Poverty, Royal, 181, 182

  Presents, Extraordinary, 273, 274;
    splendid, 186, 346, 347

  Preux chevaliers, 87, 96, 236, 287, 314

  Prince, An ugly, 175, 176, 203

  PRINCES:
    Alençon, Jehan, Count of, 86
    Alençon, Charles, Duke of, 264, 270
    Anjou, see Anjou
    Aragon, Juan of, 221
    Aragon, Pedro of, 124
    Armagnac, Henri, Count of, 183, 260
    Austria, Ladislaus, Archduke of, 211
    Austria, Leopold III., Duke of, 218
    Austria, William, Duke of, 218
    Baden, James, Marquis of, 96, 107
    Bavaria, Louis of, 109, 123
    Bar, see Bar
    Bedford, John, Duke of, 161, 169
    Berg, Arnould, Duke of, 77
    Berry, Charles, Duke of, 205, 206
    Bourbon, Charles, Duke of, 91
    Bourbon, Louis, Duke of, 62
    Bourbon, Jacques of, 221, 222
    Brittany, see Brittany
    Brunswick, Otto of, 217
    Burgundy, see Burgundy
    Castile, Ferdinand of, 40, 63
    Charolois, Count of, 289
    Clarence, Duke of, 295
    Foix, Gaston de, Count, 211
    Gaunt, John of, 295
    Gravina, Charles Durazzo, Count of, 217
    Gloucester, Humphrey, Duke of, 262, 274, 275, 277, 279
    Lorraine, see Lorraine
    Luxembourg, Henri, Count of, 27
    Luxembourg, John, Duke of, 171
    Luxembourg, Pierre of, 256, 259, 265
    Marche, Robert, Count de la, 259
    Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of, 241, 250
    Milan, Francesco Sforza, Duke of, 130, 250, 280
    Montfort, see Brittany
    Nevers, Charles of Bruges, 259, 262, 309, 312
    Nevers, Philippe, Count of, 259
    Orange, Louis of, 81
    Orsini, Raimondo of, 219
    Savoy, Amadeo VIII., Duke of, 211, 238
    Taranto, Charles III., Prince of, 176
    Taranto, Jehan de Beaux-Taranto, 176
    Taranto, Lodovico of, 217
    Vendôme, Antoine, Duke of, 62
    Wales, Edward, Prince of, 277-279, 282-288, 293-300
    Würtemberg, Ulric VII., Count of, 123
    York, Edward, Duke of, 264, 270, 275-280

  PRINCESSES:
    Anjou, Blanche of, 68, 254, 267
    Anjou, Margaret of, see Queens
    Anjou, Yolande of, Countess of Montfort, 86
    Anjou, Yolande of, Countess of Vaudémont, see Vaudémont
    Aragon, Juanita of, 30, 35, 38
    Armagnac, Isabelle of, 260
    Austria, Anne, Duchess of, 259
    Baden, Catherine, Marchioness of, 96
    Bar, Bonne of, 34, 80
    Bar, Marie of France, Duchess of, 32, 34, 49, 69, 80
    Bar, Violante of, see Queens
    Bavaria, Elizabeth of, 118
    Beaufort, Joanna, of Ghent, 295
    Bourbon, Anne, Duchess of, 289, 290
    Bourbon, Marie of, see Queens
    Brittany, Isabelle of, 72, 85
    Brittany, Yolande, Countess of Montfort, 86
    Burgundy, Catherine of, 62, 70, 71, 76
    France, Catherine of (daughter of Charles VII.), 214
      Catherine of (natural daughter of Charles VII.), 196
      Jeanne of (daughter of Charles VII.), 173, 211, 214
      Jeanne of (natural daughter of Charles VII.), 196
      Madeleine of (daughter of Charles VII.), 211, 214
      Margaret of (natural daughter of Charles VII.), 196
      Margaret of (daughter of King Philippe V.), 176
      Yolande of (daughter of Charles VII.), 211, 214
    Harcourt, Marie of, 28
    Laval, Françoise de Dinan, Countess of, 308
    Laval, Yolande of, 307
    Les Baux, Alix, Countess of, 319
      Cécile of, 320
      Douce of, 320
      Étiennette of, 320
      Jehanne of, 319
    Lorraine, Isabelle of, see Queens
    Lorraine, Margaret of Bavaria, Duchess of, see Lorraine
    Lorraine, Marie of, Dame de Soissons, 95
    Luxembourg, Blanche of, 177
    Luxembourg, Jehanne of, 177
    Marche, Jeanne de la, 259
    Provence, Beatrix, Countess of, 216
    Vaudémont, Anna, Countess of, 125, 138
    Vaudémont, Margaret of (granddaughter of King René), 343
    Vaudémont, Yolande of Anjou, Countess of, see Vaudémont
    Wales, Anne Neville, Princess of, 294-299
    Würtemberg, Sophie, Countess of, 95

  “Priez pour la Bonne Jehanne,” 352

  Prisoner, A royal, 115, 116

  Progresses, Royal, 33, 40, 44, 46, 47, 62, 107, 127, 185, 269-271, 274,
      296, 319


  Quatrain, A royal, 179

  QUEEN:
    Bath of, 242;
    begs alms, 247;
    borrows a farthing, 290;
    bountiful, 351;
    dances on highway, 33;
    day in the life of a, 242;
    Epitaph on a, 305;
    “great,” 93, 141, 143, 150, 305;
    handiwork of a, 341;
    heroic, 189, 290;
    intrepid, 253;
    knighted, 285;
    last words of, 205;
    leprous, 304;
    letters of a, 213, 244;
    noblest of France, 215;
    of beauty, 135, 309, 311;
    of hearts, 42, 195;
    of Queens, 310;
    of roses, 306;
    prisoner, 232;
    robber and, 288;
    speech of a, 185, 290;
    state entry of Queens, 35, 50, 81, 103, 105, 106, 202, 257, 274, 317

  QUEENS:
    Blanche of Navarre-France, 334
    Bonne of Luxembourg-France, 44
    Catherine of Valois-England, 56, 65
    Charlotte of Savoy-France, 214, 286, 294
    Constance of Clermont-Naples, 218
    Giovanna I. of Naples, 217, 246
    Giovanna II. of Naples, 66, 75, 89, 116-121, 217-252, 333, 357
    Isabeau of Bavaria-France, 40, 51-59, 63-68, 177-186, 190, 206,
        216, 262
    Isabelle of Lorraine-Sicily-Anjou-Naples, 77, 86-88, 90, 91, 94-142,
        166-169, 185, 193, 206, 239-259, 264, 269-279, 280, 313-318, 338
    Jehanne of Laval-Sicily-Anjou, 135, 203, 264, 291, 303, 306-356
    Margaret of Anjou-England, 85, 125, 134-140, 244, 253-305, 310, 313,
        331, 336, 337
    Margaret of Savoy-Sicily-Anjou-Naples, 73, 89, 90, 122, 123, 130, 139,
        235, 237, 240-247
    Margaret of Durazzo-Naples, 216-220
    Margaret of Scotland-France, 203, 205, 313, 314
    Margaret of Denmark-Scotland, 285
    Maria of Lusignan-Naples, 218
      of Sicily, 42
    Marie of Anjou-France, 58-64, 68-70, 82-85, 90, 91, 139, 158, 165, 170,
        173, 174-215, 236, 261, 264-266, 269, 286, 291, 313, 326, 342
    Marie of Châtillon-Sicily-Anjou-Naples, 39-41, 45, 47, 57, 58, 353
    Marie of Bourbon-Calabria-Catalonia, 91, 127, 134, 135, 204
    Marie of Enghien-Naples, 219
    Yolanda of Bar-Aragon, 30, 35-47, 98
    Yolanda of Aragon-Sicily-Anjou-Naples, 30-93, 98-104, 112, 117-121,
        127, 142, 150, 158-160, 166, 169, 174-179, 185, 188, 197, 203,
        207-209, 225, 236, 239, 243-247, 249, 258, 263, 266, 307, 312, 319,
        334, 341


  Ransom, A King’s, 65, 117, 118, 119

  “Regnault et Jehanneton,” 23, 322-324

  Relics, 29, 333, 334

  RENÉ OF ANJOU, King, 17-356;
    titles of, 17, 101;
    character of, 18, 106;
    occupations of, 18, 19, 120;
    painter, 20, 21;
    miniaturist, 21, 22;
    writer and poet, 22, 23, 81;
    a bosom friend of, 24;
    letters of, 25;
    patron of crafts, 26, 27;
    accessibility of, 27;
    generosity of, 28;
    devotion to relics, 29;
    his winecup, 29;
    travels of, 20;
    tutors, 77;
    arms, 78;
    marriages of, 101, 317;
    in prison, 88, 110, 112;
    “La Pucelle” and, 149, 150, 151;
    love of nature, 213, 322;
    his heart, 349;
    signature, 356

  Rings, 49, 137, 219, 272, 335, 354

  “Rose, The Golden,” 119, 342

  Roses at Christmas, 306, 316;
    in Temple Gardens, 306;
    Queen of, 306;
    showers of, 226;
    Wars of the, 279-300

  Royal hussy, A, 257


  “St. Madeleine preaching,” 21

  Sand, Writing in, 208, 209

  Sash, Tripped on a, 128

  Scales, The Lady Emma de, 268

  Scapegoat, A, 105

  “Scourge of France, The,” 68

  SCULPTORS:
    Della Robbia, 20;
    Pietro da Milano, 316;
    Francesco Laurana, 355

  Second marriage advocated, 316

  “She wolf, The,” 299

  Silver swans, 282

  Sisters, Unfortunate, 177

  Slanders, 84, 156, 191, 206, 207, 241, 277, 278

  Snails, Horns of, 187

  Sorel, Agnes, 91, 111, 170, 171, 178, 182, 194-199, 255, 264

  “Soul and Heart,” a dialogue, 318

  Stabbed to death, 196, 238

  STORIES:
    a lost diamond, 346;
    a pathetic, 313;
    a pretty, 55, 208, 209;
    a romantic, 225-235;
    a tragic, 180, 181


  Tapestries, Rich, 179, 185

  Taxes, Queen Yolande’s, 76

  Tempests at sea, 271, 287, 296

  The “Cokke John,” 271

  Theatre, The French, 265

  “This is Queen Margaret!” 299

  Three Graces of Armagnac, 260

  Toast, A popular, 164

  “Too much blood!” 131

  Tournaments, 135, 136, 139, 265, 308-312, 315, 329

  Tournament prizes, 311, 312

  Tower, In the, 283, 290, 296, 299

  “Le Tracte des Tournois,” 24

  Treachery, 282, 287, 297, 298

  Tribunal, An imperial, 119

  Tragedy, Stories of, 180, 181, 205, 206

  Troubadours, 31, 34, 35, 37, 46, 153, 212, 256, 265, 274, 318, 329;
    maxims, 329;
    royal, 34, 97, 268;
    Queen of, 36, 42

  TROUBADOUR LAUREATES:
    Eustache des Champs-Morel, 34;
    Jehan Durant, 153;
    Guillaume de Poitou, 329

  Troublous times, 58, 59, 62, 64, 65, 201, 202, 236, 237, 246, 248

  Trousseaux, Royal, 32, 43, 49, 50, 266

  TUTORS, ROYAL:
    Jan Van Eyck, 19;
    Jehan de Proviesey, 77;
    Antoine de la Salle, 77, 288;
    Philippe de Lenoncourt, 125;
    Sir John Fortescue, 292


  VAUDÉMONT, Anna, Countess of, 125, 138
    Antoine, Count of, 62, 88, 104, 108, 109, 111-113, 119, 120, 138, 149,
        255, 260
    Ferri, Count of, 113, 137, 138, 215, 260, 263, 265, 292, 303, 312,
        328, 348
    Margaret of (granddaughter of King René), 343
    René, Duke of Lorraine (grandson of King René), 336, 347, 348
    Yolande d’Anjou, Countess of, 63, 70, 85, 87, 113, 125, 134, 138, 140,
        244, 254-257, 260, 265, 291, 292, 347, 348

  Venus di Milo, 48

  Village gossip, 146

  Virago, A royal, 111-114, 124, 130, 169, 192-200, 261, 275, 280

  Visconti, see Princes

  “Voices” The, 144, 145, 146, 158, 159, 168

  Volte face, A, 293


  Widow, A girl, 122, 129, 218

  WIFE:
    a blind, 250;
    a stick for a, 77;
    a much-enduring, 178;
    an unfaithful, 180, 181

  Wine, Delicious, 48, 211, 212, 213

  Winecup, A famous, 29

  Witchcraft, 177, 195

  “Woman, Fortune is a,” 82;
    very beautiful, 307;
    threats of a, 84;
    A gay, 37;
    vampire, 222-227

  WOMEN:
    Character of, 45;
    of Arles, 48;
    of Genoa, 128;
    paramount, 178;
    gay, 159, 200, 206

  Word, A Duke’s, 116

  Worldly-wise canons, 200

  WRITERS AND CHRONICLERS:
    Martial d’Auvergne, 139
    Louis de Beauvau, 26
    Jean Bourdigne, 58
    Philippe de Commines, 204, 314
    Viollet le Duc, 163
    Neron, F. Faraglia, 242
    Louis de Grasse, 139
    Pierre de Hurion, 26
    Pierre Mathieu, 18
    Enguerrand de Monstrelet, 187, 188, 214
    Jehan Pasquerelle, 85
    Étienne Pasquier, 111
    Jehan de Perin, 26
    Antoine de la Salle, 258
    Jean Juvenal des Ursins, 49, 50, 176


  Yolanda d’Arragona, see Queens

  “You may go!” 108

  “You villains!” 132


BILLING AND SONS, LTD., PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.





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