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CHRONICLES OF ENGUERRAND DE MONSTRELET.
S Sallust says, at the commencement of his Bellum Catilinarium, wherein he relates many extraordinary deeds of arms done by the Romans and their adversaries, that every man ought to avoid idleness, and exercise himself in good works, to the end that he may not resemble beasts, who are only useful to themselves unless otherwise instructed; and as there cannot be any more suitable or worthy occupation than handing down to posterity the grand and magnanimous feats of arms, and the inestimable subtleties of war which by valiant men have been performed, as well those descended from noble families as others of low degree, in the most Christian kingdom of France, and in many other countries of Christendom under different laws, for the instruction and information of those who in a just cause may be desirous of honourably exercising their prowess in arms; and also to celebrate the glory and renown of those who by strength of courage and bodily vigour have gallantly distinguished themselves, M well in sudden rencounters as in pitched battles, armies against armies, or in single combats, like as valiant men ought to do, who, reading or hearing these accounts, should attentively consider them, in order to bring to remembrance the above deeds of arms and other matters worthy of record, and especially particular acts of prowess that have happened within the period of this history, as well as the discords, wars, and quarrels, that have arisen between princes and great lords of the kingdom of France, also between those of the adjoining countries, that have been continued for a long time, specifying the causes whence these wars have had their origin.
I, Enguerrand de Monstrclet, descended from a noble family, and residing, at the time of composing this present book, in the noble city of Cambray, a town belonging to the empire of Germany, employed myself in writing a history in prose, although the matter required a genius superior to mine, from the great weight of many of the events relative to the royal majesty of princes, and grand deeds of arms that will enter into its composition. It
VOL. I. B
requires also great subtlety of knowledge to describe the causes of many of the events, seeing that several of them have been very diversely related. I have frequently marvelled within myself how this could have happened, and whether the diversity of these accounts of the same event could have any other foundation than in party-prejudice; and perhaps it may have been the case, that those who have been engaged in battles or skirmishes have paid so much attention to conduct themselves with honour, that they have been unable to notice particularly what was passing in other parts of the field of battle. Nevertheless, as I was from my youth fond of hearing such histories, I took pains, according to the extent of my understanding until of mature age, to make every diligent inquiry as to the truth of different events, and questioned such persons as from their rank and birth would disdain to relate a falsehood, and others known for their love of truth in the different and opposing parties, on every point in these chronicles from the first book to the last; and particularly, I made inquiries from kings-at-arms, heralds, pursuivants, and lords resident on their estates, respecting the wars of France, who, from their offices or situations, ought to be well informed of facts, and relaters of the truth concerning them. On their informations often repeated, and throwing aside everything I thought doubtful or false, or not proved by the continuation of their accounts, and having maturely considered their relations, at the end of a year I had them fairly written down, and not sooner. I then determined to pursue my work to a conclusion, without leaning or showing favour to any party, but simply to give to every one his due share of honour, according to the best of my abilities; for to do otherwise would be to detract from the honour and prowess which valiant and prudent men have acquired at the risk of their lives, whose glory and renown should be exalted in recompense for their noble deeds.
And inasmuch as this is a difficult undertaking, and cannot be pleasing to all parties,— some of whom may maintain, that what I have related of particular events is not the truth; I therefore entreat and request all noble persons who may read this book, to excuse me if they find in it some things that may not be perfectly agreeable to them; for I declare I have written nothing but what has been asserted to me as fact, and told to me as such, and, should it not prove so, on those who have been my informants must the blame be laid. If, on the contrary, they find any virtuous actions worthy of preservation, and that may with delight be proposed as proper examples to be followed, let the honour and praise be bestowed on those who performed them, and not on me, who am simply the narrator.
This present Chronicle will commence on Easter-day, in the year of grace 1400, at which time was concluded the last volume of the Chronicles of sir John Froissart, native of Valenciennes in Hainault, whose renown on account of his excellent work will be of long duration. The first book of this work concludes with the death of Charles VI. the most christian and most worthy king of France, surnamed "the well beloved," who deceased at his hotel of St. Pol, at Paris, near the Celestins, the 22d day of October 1422. But that the causes of these divisions and discords which arose in that most renowned and excellent kingdom of France may be known, discords which caused such desolation and misery to that realm as is pitiful to relate, I shall touch a little at the commencement of my history on the state, government, manners and conduct of the aforesaid king Charles during his youth.
CHAPTER I.—HOW CHARLES THE WELL-BELOVED REIGNED IN FRANCE, AFTER HE HAD BEEN CROWNED AT RHEIMS, IN THE YEAR THIRTEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY.
N conformity to what I said in my prologue, that I would speak of the state and government of King Charles VI. of France, surnamed the Well-beloved, in order to explain the causes of the divisions and quarrels of the princes of the blood royal during his reign and afterward, I shall devote this first chapter to that purpose.
True it is, that the above-mentioned king Charles the "Wellbeloved, son to king Charles V. began to reign and was crowned at Rheims the Sunday before All-saints-day, in the year of grace one thousand three hundred and eighty, as is fully described in the Chronicles of sir John Froissart. Ho was then but fourteen years old, and thenceforward for some time governed his kingdom right well. By following prudent advice at the commencement of his reign, he undertook several expeditions, in which, considering his youth, he conducted himself soberly and valiantly, as well in Flanders, where he gained the battle of Rosebecque and reduced the Flemings to his obedience, as afterwards in the valley of Cassel and on that frontier against the duke of Gueldres. He then made preparations at Sluys for an invasion of England. All which enterprises made him redoubted in every part of the world that heard of him.
But Fortune, who frequently turns her wheel against those of high rank as well as against those of low degree, began to play him her tricks *; for, in the year one thousand three hundred and ninety-two, the king had resolved in his council to march a powerful army to the town of Mans, and thence invade Brittany, to subjugate and bring under his obedience the duke of Brittany, for having received and supported the lord Peter de Craon, who had beaten and insulted in Paris, to his great displeasure, sir Oliver de Clisson, his constable. On this march, a most melancholy adventure befel him, which brought on his kingdom tho utmost distress, and which I shall relato, although it took place prior to the date of this history.
During the time the king was on his march from Mans towards Brittany, attended by his princes and chivalry, he was suddenly seized with a disorder which deprived him of his reason. He wrested a spear from the hands of one of his attendants, and struck with it the
• Thia quaint exprewion i« manifestly adopted from Froissart, who uses it very ofti n.
varlet of the bastard of Langres, and dew him: he then killed the bastard of Langres, and struck the duke of Orleans, his brother, who, although well armed, was wounded in the shoulder. He next wounded the lord de Saint Py, and would have put him to death had not God prevented it; for in making his thrust, he fell to the ground,—when, by the diligence of the lord de Coucy and others his faithful servants, the spear was with difficulty taken from him. Thence he was conducted to the said town of Alans, and visited by his physicians, who thought his case hopeless: nevertheless, by the grace of God, he recovered better health, and his senses, but not so soundly as he possessed them before this accident*. From that time he had frequent relapses,—and it was necessary, during his life, perpetually to look after him and keep him under strict observance.
Sir Km — Of Charles The Well-Beloved.—Composed from contemporary illuminations.
From this unfortunate disorder may be dated all the miseries and desolations that befel his realm; for then began all those jealousies between the princes of his blood, each contending for the government of the kingdom, seeing clearly that he was willing to act in any manner that those near his person desired, and in the absence of their rivals craftily advising him to their own private advantage, without atteuding to act in concert for the general good of the state. Some, however, acquitted themselves loyally, for which after their deaths they were greatly praised.
This king had several sons and daughters, whose names now follow, that lived to man's estate; first, Louis, duke of Aquitaine, who espoused the eldest daughter of the duke of Burgundy, but died without issue before the king his father; John, duke of Touraine, who married the only daughter of duke William of Bavaria, count of Hainault, who also died before his father, and without issue; Charles, married to the daughter of king Louis II. of Naples, who had issue that will be noticed hereafter: he succeeded to the crown of France on the death of his father.
He had five daughters: Isabella, the eldest, was first married to king Richard II. of England, and afterwards to Charles duke of Orleans, by whom she had a daughter; Jane,
• See a particular account of this attack in Froissart, died before the king suffered a relapse. After this the king hook 4, ch. 44. His cure was effected by Master William never perfectly recovered the full use of his intellects.—Eo. de Har-eley, a learned physician of the town of I jion, who
married to John duke of Brittany, had many children; Michelle, espoused Philip duke of Burgundy, but had no issue; Mary was a nun at Poissy; Catherine, married to Henry V. of England, had a son, Henry, who succeeded on the death of his father to tho throne of England. King Charles had all these children by his queen, Isabella *, daughter to Stephen duke of Bavaria.
CHAPTER II. AN ESQUIRE OF ARRAOON, NAMED MICHEL D ORRIS, SENDS CHALLENGES TO
ENGLAND. THE ANSWER HE RECEIVES FROM A KNIGHT OF THAT COUNTRY.
At the beginning of this year one thousand four hundred, an esquire of Arragon, named -Michel d'Orris, sent challenges to England of the following tenor:
"In the name of God and of the blessed Virgin Mary, I Michel d'Orris, to exalt my name, knowing full well the renown of the prowess of the English chivalry, have, from the date of this present letter, attached to my leg a piece of a greavet to be worn by me until I be delivered from it by an English knight performing the following deeds of arms :—First, to enter the lists on foot, each armed in the manner he shall please, having a dagger and sword attached to any part of his body, and a battle-axe, with tho handle of such length as I shall fix on. The combat to be as follows: ten strokes with the battle-axe, without intermission; and when these strokes shall have been given, and the judge shall cry out, 'Ho!' ten cuts with the sword to be given without intermission or change of armour. When the judge shall cry out, 'Ho!' we will resort to our daggers, and give ten stabs with them. Should either party lose or drop his weapon, the other may continue the use of the one in his hand nntil the judge shall cry out, 'Ho!' When the combat on foot shall be finished, we will mount our horses, each armed as he shall please, but with two similar helmets of iron, which I will provide, and my adversary shall have the choice: each shall have what sort of gorget he pleases. I will also provide two saddles, for the choice of my opponent.
• The house of Bavaria was at this period split into so decrees of affinity without having recourse to a genealogical
many branches, the males of every branch retaining, accord- table. The following will suffice for tho purpose of ex
ing to thefierman custom, the title of the head of the house, plaining Monstrelet:
Jacqueline died without issue.
t The armour, or iron boot for the protection of the front part of the leg. This custom of making a vow of wearing iome painful or unsightly token, until a certain deed of arms should be performed, was not uncommon among the more aspiring chevaliers. So in Froissart, vol. i., ch. 28, when
Robert III. Emperor, 1401.'
Edward III., first contemplated hostilities with France, many "young knights bachelors" covered one eye with a piece of cloth, having made a vow to their ladies to use but one eye until they had personally performed some deed of arms iu France.—En.