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When this assembly had held many consultations on the subjects laid before it, its members determined that the university of Paris should make their report in the name of all,—which report was delivered to the king at his hôtel of St. Pol, in manner following.
Charles VI. IN COUNCIL WIth (a) urs GRAND MASTER AND CHAMBERLAIN, (6) mis NOTARY
AND TREASURER, AND (c) ms WAR TREASURER.
“ To our most high and most excellent prince, our sovereign lord and father. Your most humble and devoted daughter the university of Paris, your very submissive and obedient subjects the provost of the merchants, the sheriffs and citizens of your good town of Paris, lay before you their opinions and advice, as required by you, for the welfare and happiness of yourself and kingdom. In the first place, respecting the peace that has been lately concluded between certain princes of your royal blood, according to the terms your majesty has been pleased to lay before us, we say, that all who have sworn solemnly to keep this peace, and have hitherto observed it, ought to continue this same conduct, in pursuance of their intentions sworn to before God: but we think that you should summon certain others of the lords of your blood, and of their principal servants, to swear personally before you to keep the peace; and that for many reasons,—first, because they never yet have taken the said oaths,—secondly, because many among them do not keep the peace. It is a notorious fact, that although the English are in your kingdom, and in conjunction with other companies, as well natives as foreigners, daily commit waste on the country, scarcely any attempts have been made to oppose their further progress, and petitions and clamours arise throughout the realm.-Item, the count d'Armagnac, who is your subject, pays no regard to the peace; and so far from observing it, is constantly making war on your more faithful subjects.-Item, for the better observance of this peace, we recommend that your majesty should cause letters to be drawn up, in which all the articles of the treaty shall be incorporated, and sent to the different officers, or to whomsoever else you may please, with orders to make known all transgressors of them, that they may be punished accordingly.
“With regard to the second point on which you, our sovereign lord, demand our advice, having fully considered all that concerns your own honour and welfare, and everything that may tend to the prosperity of the kingdom, we feel ourselves obliged to make known to you what we perceive to be defects in your government We must begin by the bad adminis
tration of the public finances, to which you, as king, ought to have caused more faithful attention to be paid. We recommend, in the first place, that the revenues of the royal demesne be divided into four parts : one to be distributed in alms, another to defray the expenses of your majesty, those of the queen, the duke of Aquitaine, and your household; another to pay the salaries of your officers and servants; another to be applied to the repairs of bridges, roads, mills, castles, causeways, or other public works,—and the overplus to be paid into the king's treasury, as was formerly done. Item, it clearly appears, that the finances are not at this present time so regulated, which is the fault of your treasurers, who have the administration of them. The religious of both sexes, as well belonging to convents as to hospitals, are frequently forced to expend their own money on the repairs of their churches, without deriving any assistance from the royal treasury, to their great detriment, to the loss of their personal comforts, the ruin of the churches, and the failure of divine service, to the prejudice of the souls of your predecessors, and to the oppression of your own conscience. In regard to alms, it is well known that scarcely anything is paid ; and as to the expenses of yourself, the queen, and the duke of Aquitaine, which are regulated by sir Pierre de Fontenay, and paid by Raymond Ragnier and Jean Pie, clerks of the exchequer, they are found to-amount to four hundred and fifty thousand francs, as well received from the royal demesnes as from other sources; whereas, in former times, only ninety-two thousand francs were received for this purpose, and your predecessors kept up a royal state, and the tradesmen were regularly paid, notwithstanding the smallness of the sum: but at present this is far from being the case, for the tradesmen are not only unpaid, but your household, and those of the queen and the duke of Aquitaine, are frequently broken up. Even so lately as Thursday last, this disgrace happened to the household of the queen ; whence it appears, that these sums are not employed for your expenses, but wasted at the will of your ministers, and among their favourites, as we shall more fully explain at a proper time and place.
“In former days, the sum raised for the expenses of the queen's household was but thirtysix thousand francs; but at present, one hundred and forty thousand are raised on this account, from taxes independent of the revenues of her demesnes. This difference proceeds from the fault of the administrators of this department, the principal of whom is Raymond Ragnier, the treasurer; and he has so managed this money, destined for the use of the queen, that he has purchased large estates, and built fine houses, as may be seen both in town and country. The management of this part of the finances should be examined into; for beside the regular receipt, other sums are demanded by way of extraordinaries.-Item, there are also great abuses in the offices of the master of your wardrobe, and of the treasury; for those who have the direction, receive very large sums of money, and dispose of them otherwise than in the payment of your debts or to your advantage: the salaries of your officers and servants are consequently in arrear; and those who have supplied your table with provision and wine, cannot get their money. Of course, these sums must be applied to their own use, as is very apparent from the great state they live in, from the number of their horses and other luxuries; as in the instance of Raymond Ragnier, who, in purchasing and building, has expended, as it is said, upward of thirty thousand francs.
“ Charlot Poupart, master of the wardrobe, and master William Budé, storekeeper, have also made great acquisitions of property, and live at an immense expense, which cannot be done from the salaries of their office, nor from their estates before they had these offices given to them. There are likewise great defects in the management of your stables, which is an office of very great receipt; and the prodigious sums that are there expended, are not for your honournor profit.-Item, in regard to the salaries of the officers of your household, they are very ill paid at the treasury ; nor are their payments any way regular, so that they suffer very great poverty, and are unable to appear before you so decently dressed as they would wish. There are, however, some favourites among them that are very well paid.
“With respect to the repairs of your castles, mills, and other public works, they are all going to ruin; and as for the overplus that should remain to be paid into your private treasury, there is not at this moment one penny; although, in the days of king Philip, king John, and king Charles, when the receipt was not anything like what it is now, there were savings : but the treasury was then far better managed. We must likewise observe, that this kind of management of the finances has been continued for nearly thirty years; and that those who have had the administration of them, have no way attended to your honour or profit, or to the good of the kingdom, but solely to their own private emolument.
“ It therefore befits your said daughter, the university of Paris, to lay before you the following facts, that a better administration of your finances may be adopted. In the first place, you have too many treasurers, who have increased since the time before mentioned, from the additional business in the office ; and several have forced themselves into it, who. before the expiration of the year, have been removed to make way for others of more popularity in the country. God knows, they would not be so eager to be admitted into this office, were it not for the plundering daily going on there; and if a treasurer do not yearly gain from four to five thousand francs, he thinks he is badly off. Where formerly there were but two treasurers, there are now five or six, from the great increase of business; and at times there are six or seven. Thus it is clear as the day, that you lose every year from sixteen to twenty thousand francs, from the bad conduct of your treasurers. When they are admitted to their office, they pay not any attention to the discharge of the necessary disbursements, nor to the oaths they took on admission, but solely to the enormous grants that have been surreptitiously obtained, which are paid from their general receipt. In regard to the other offices where the net receipt is paid, it passes through so many hands that immense fortunes are made from the exorbitant fees claimed by the treasurers : these are Andrieu Guiffart, Burel Dampmartin, Regnier de Bouligney, Jean Guerin, and the director Nicolle Bonet, who was clerk to his predecessor in office, Jean Chayf, and the clerk master Guy Bouchier, who are all of them useless and guilty of mismanagement, except Jean Guerin, who has but lately come into the office, and has not as yet misbehaved himself. Andrieu Guiffart is particularly culpable for having wasted all the patrimony he had received from his father. He was appointed, through the influence of the provost of Paris, (who is his cousin by the mother's side,) to one of the treasurerships, where he has amassed such sums of money that he wears nothing but sapphires, rubies, and other precious diamonds, with the most costly dresses, and rides the best of horses. He lives in the utmost state, with his side-boards covered with plate of every description for ornament and use.
“ Item, formerly it was not necessary to have a treasurer for the criminal prosecutions, but only an occasional counsellor; but now there are four counsellors, who receive very large sums to your prejudice. In regard to the administration of those taxes called Aides, there are officers appointed for that purpose, called Generals, through whose hands pass all that is ordered for the carrying on the wars, amounting, one year with another, to twelve thousand francs. The aforesaid treasurers, by the connivance of these generals, manage the finances very badly ; for they commonly obtain their places through the influence of friends, to whom the generals make great gifts to your loss. The salaries of these generals amount to from two to four thousand francs yearly each; and if a general remain in office for two years, he will acquire from nine to ten thousand francs, or some such great sum, by private gifts, and which are sometimes levied on the properties of great lords without their knowledge: particulars of such conduct, and false certificates, were discovered during the late inquiries for the reformation of abuses. There is also another office, wrongfully called the Treasury of Savings, under the government of Anthony des Essars, for which the sum of about one hundred and twenty thousand francs is taken from the taxes. In former times, this chest for savings was kept under two locks, of which you had one key, to take from it any sum that should be wanting for yourself or your kingdom. Those, however, who now have the management of it have so acted, that there is not one penny in the chest; nor is it known who in the world has been bettered by it, excepting the administrators, with the consent of those they found in the office, by drawing out false statements of expenses to your prejudice.
“ Item, this aforesaid Anthony has the keeping of your wardrobe and jewels, and is so negligent that whatever may be wanting for your dress is bought from day to day, of which he alone is culpable.—Item, after this comes another office, called the Cofferers, held by Maurice de Rully, who, in general, receives daily ten golden crowns, which he ought to deliver into your hands to spend according to your pleasure ; but the coffers are empty, for he has dissipated their contents,—and under shadow of this office, immense sums have been wasted, as shall be spoken of in proper time and place. The manner in which you, the queen, and the duke of Aquitaine, are pillaged, is easily shown ; for when you have need of a speedy sum of money for the war, or for any other urgent necessity, application must be made to certain money-lenders, who, for usury, make a traffic of money, and supply your wants on having your plate and jewels in pawn, and at an exorbitant loss in the interest paid for these loans, insomuch that what may be worth ten thousand francs costs you fifteen or sixteen ; and thus your losses are annually very great from these usurious practices and pretended exchanges. You may readily suppose that your officers must be accomplices in this traffic, and that this alone will occasion such an empty treasury. Your inferior servants are much distressed and ill treated ; and in this manner are not only your own affairs but those of the princes of your blood managed, without any exception.
“ Item, it is proper that you should be made acquainted with the tricks and deceit of those officers called Generals, in the receipt of your finances. When any receiver shall have lent you a sum amounting to five or six thousand crowns over and above his receipt, he is dismissed from his office, to prevent him from reimbursing himself, and another put in his place, who will receive the whole of the taxes in that department. When, therefore, there shall be little or nothing to receive, he that was dismissed will be replaced in his office, provided he has made sufficient presents to his superior officers. By this means, the aforesaid receiver can neither be paid nor pay what he owes; and thus they ride one on another, to the ruin of your finances,—and you drink your wine sour.-Item, when there is an ambassador to be sent, or even a simple canon to be despatched to a foreign country, money for their expenses must be borrowed from usurers; and it frequently happens that the aforesaid ambassador cannot depart for want of money, which renders the embassy useless, and the kingdom suffers greatly from it. Item, it is also necessary that you should know what is become of all the money that for these last two years has been raised, as well from the domains of the crown as from the very numerous and heavy taxes and impositions of all sorts, of which the provost of Paris has, as is notorious, taken on himself the management, and styled himself Director and General Superintendant of the Finances.—Item, it should likewise be remembered, that other great officers, as well as the provost, have held many offices of importance, which they have sold, and pocketed the amount, to your great disadvantage and contrary to your royal edicts, and also to the prejudice of the kingdom, for by this system, ignorant and improper persons are put into the said offices.
“ Item, the provost of Paris, who had held for some time the office of grand-master of waters and forests, has now resigned it to the lord de Jury, for which six thousand francs have been levied. But beside the provostship of Paris, he holds the government of the towns of Cherbourg and its dependencies, which brings bim an annual rent of six thousand francs, with the government of Nemours, amounting to two thousand more. Your income is also ruined by another mode, namely, by the immense number of receivers, treasurers, clerks, comptrollers, and other officers, who swallow enormous sums by way of fees, over and above the regular fees of office, of which the provost and his dependants have the greater share, and which they regarıl as their own personal property, to your great loss, and to the delay of payments to many of your faithful servants, knights, and counsellors of state. It is daily witnessed, that when a young man has been appointed to any of the above offices, however poor his situation may have been before, or how little versed he may be in the management of public affairs, he soon becomes rich, keeps a grand establishment, and purchases large estates and manors, all at your expense. There are great frauds committed by your treasurers of the war department, who are accustomed to take from your knights and esquires blank receipts sealed by them, of which they make a very bad use, as they know to their cost: but they can more fully inform you on this head than we can. It is melancholy to hear their complaints of the delays in the payment of their salaries, which are always much curtailed, at least to the greater part of them. It is consequently now become a rule among your men-at-arms, when their salary is in arrear, to pay themselves from the countries they are quartered in, saying, that, since they cannot obtain their pay, they must live by their service.
“Item, whenever these directors or superintendants of your finances are called upon, they make answer, that they are ready to produce their accounts, as if that were sufficient, and even go so far as to desire commissioners may be appointed to inspect and examine them; but, under correction, this answer is futile,—and if the real culprits are to be discovered, let their original state, and what substance they possessed before they entered into office, be inquired into — what the amount of their salaries and fees, how much their reasonable expenditure, and then what is their present income, what estates they possess, and what buildings they have erected. It is notorious, that the superior officers are rich and magnificent, but that they were indigent before their appointment to office, and that some of them have purchased houses of great value, namely, master Jean Chastegnier, Guillaume Luce, and Nicaise Bouses. To say the truth, every loyal subject must be astonished and grieved at heart when he witnesses such management, that you, their lawful prince and sovereign, should be thus robbed, and that all your finances should be lodged in such beggarly purses, by the aforesaid, whose purses are swollen out, and by those who have preceded them, without any regard to your own wants, or to those of the state.--Item, since mention has been made of the grand state in which many live, it seems to your daughter, that such a style of living is too generally adopted throughout your kingdom; and she fears, from the evils that daily result from it, lest God may be angered against his people.--Item, in regard to the great councils, they are not held in the manner they ought to be; for generally almost every one is admitted, whereas none but wise and discreet men, such as knights and clerks, should be suffered to enter, to a competent number receiving pay and salaries from you, and from none other, and these should always have an attentive eye to your personal profit and honour, and to the strengthening of your crown and kingdom. It frequently happens, from the numbers admitted, that business of every sort is neglected or delayed, and that when any good resolution has been made, as now and then will be the case, it remains unexecuted, however nearly it may affect your interests.-Foreign ambassadors should have their negotiations terminated, and our own should be despatched ; and whenever anything conclusive has, by mature deliberation, been settled, it ought not to be broken off by a few persons afterward, as has often happened.
"Item, it is very distressing to hear such loud complaints of the debility of your government in protracting business. We even see the lord de Mouberon, the viscount de Murat, and those of la Rochelle, complaining of the delays of your council, although they are employed for the service of your kingdom, and declaring, that if more energy is not exerted, they must necessarily make peace with your enemies, -and thus you may lose many of your faithful vassals. In regard to the administration of justice in the realm, your court of parliament, which is the most eminent, is not governed as it is wont to have been. Formerly it was composed of excellent lawyers, as well secular as ecclesiastical, of a mature age and learned in the laws; and from its great fame for learning and justice, without partiality to any one, was resorted to, not only by Christians of all nations, but even by Saracens, who have applied to it for judgment. For some short time past, through favour of friends, relations, or other means, many young men have been admitted who are ignorant of the laws and unworthy of such honour, by which the authority and fair reputation of this court is greatly lessened. There are also other inconveniences attending these indiscriminate admissions : for instance, there are in this court many sons, brothers, nephews, and relations, sitting together, and many others who are lineally connected, as is the case with the family of the first president,—and from this circumstance great injustice may ensue in the decisions of the court.
“ Item, there are now before the parliament several causes between poor persons, that are, as it were, dead; for the members do not use such expedition in deciding upon them as they in reason should.-Item, respecting the chamber of accounts, nothing is done, for all causes are there buried; for although some new members have been lately admitted, no progress seems to be made. Among the new ones is Alexander Boursier, who has several times been receiver-general of taxes, and whose accounts are said not yet to have been closed. You may, consequently, be a great loser in this business ; for he who ought to be narrowly examined himself, is appointed to examine and reduce the accounts of others. — Item, tho