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^

THE

HISTORY OF FRANCE

RELATED FOR THE RISING GENERATION,

LONDON : OILBBBT AND RIYINOTON, FBINTBBR, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE.

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

PAGE

Chapter XIX. The Communes and the Third Estate 1

XX The Hundred Years' War. PhiUp VI. and John II. . 49

XXI. The States-General of the Fourteenth Century . .133

XXIL The Hundred Years' War. Charles V 170

XXni. The Hundred Years' War. Charles VL and the Dukes of

Burgundy 227

XXIV. The Hundred Years' War. Charles VIL and Joan of Arc

(U21— 1461) 312

XXV. Louis XL (1461—1483) 411

XXVL The Wars in Italy.— Charles VIIL (1483—1498) . 601

XXVIL The Wars in Italy.— Louis XIL (1498—1515) . . .552

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE

HeaJ-piece of Chapter XIX 1

The Peasants resolved to live according to. their own inclinations and their

own laws - 6

Insurrection in favour of the Commune at Carabrai 13

Bishop Gaudri dniggeJ from the Cask 23

The Cathedral of Laon . 43

Tail-piece of Chapter XIX 48

Head-piece of Chapter XX 49

Van Artevelde at his Door 65

" See ! See !" she cried 83

Statue of James van Artevelde 99

Queen Philippa at the feet of the King .115

John II., calle<l the Good 123

" Father, ware right ! Father, ware left !" 129

Tail-piece of Chapter XX. . 132

Head- piece of Chapter XXI. 133

Charles the Bad, King of Navarre 137

Stephen Marcel 145

The LouvTe in the Fourteenth Century . . . . .153

Tbe Murder of the Marshals. ......... 157

*'Iii his hands the Keys of the Gates" 165

Head-piece of Chapter XXII 170

CiiarlesV 183

BigFerr6 191

Bertrand du Guesclin 203

Putting the Keys on Du Guesclin's Bier 223

Head-piece of Chapter XXIII. . . 227

The Procession went over the Gates 235

"Thou art betrayed" 247

Murder of the Duke of Orleans 259

Death of Valentine de Milan 267

John the Fearless 273

Already distressed ........... 281

Charles VL and Odette 295

"Into the River!" 303

viii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE

Tail-piece of Chapter XXIII 311

Head-piece of Chapter XXIV 312

Joan of Arc at Domr^my 319

Herself drew out the Arrow . 337

Joan examined in Prison 355

Philip the Good of Burgundy 373

The Constable made his Entry on horsebaok . .381

Jacques Coeur 305

Jacques Coeur's Hostel at Bourges 401

Agnes SoreL Tail-piece of Chapter XXTV 410

Head-piece of Chapter XX V 411

Louis XL and Burgesses waiting for News 423

Charles the Rash 435

Louis XL and Charles the Rash at Peronne 443

Philip de Commynes 453

The Corpse of Charles the Rash discovered 473

Views of the Castle of Plessis-les-Tours . 483

Louis XI 495

TaU-piece of Chapter XXV 500

Head-piece of Chapter XXVI '. .501

Anne de Beaujeu 505

Meeting between Charles VIII. and Anne of Brittany 523

Charles VIIL 533

Battle of Fomovo ........... 545

Tail-piece of Chapter XXVI 551

Head-piece of Chapter XXVII 552

Louis XII 555

Bayard 561

Battle of Agnadello 579

Cardinal d'Amboise ........... 589

Bayard's Farewell 605

Gaston deFoix 012

Chaumont d'Amboise 623

f*iitt V**"'*

H^*-

^^^

CHAPTER XIX.

THE C0>™UNE8 AND THE TillBD ESTATK.

^HE history of the Mero\nngians is that of barbariana invading Gaul and Bottling upon the niins of tho Roman empire. The history of the Carlovingians is that of tlio gi*oate»t of tho barbarians taking ui>oii hiranelf tiO resuscitate the Bonuiu empire, and of ChaHeimigne's dosccjiidants dii^puting amongst themselves for the fragments of his fabric, as fragile as it was grand. Amidst this vast chaos and upon this double rain was formid tlie feudal sy6t4?m, whicli by tmnsformatiou afk^r trans- formation became ultimately France* Hugh Ca|>et> one of its chieftains, made hintself its King. The Capetians achievod the French kingship. have traced its character and progressive development from the eleven tli to the fourteenth century, through tliC reigns of Louis the Fat, of Philip Augustus, of St* Louis and of Philip the Handsome, princes very diveri^o and very unequal in merit but all of them able ami energetic. This period was likewise the cradle of the French nation* That was the time wWn it began to exhibit itself in its different elements, and to arise under VOL u, B

HISTORY OF FRANCE. [Chap. XIX,

monarcliical rule fromtlie midst of the feudal system. Its earliest" features and its earliest efforts in the long and laborious work of its development are now to be set before the reader's ejres* ^|

The two words inscribed at the head of this chapter, the Commmws and the Third-Estate, are verbal expressions for the two great facts at that time revealing that the French nation was in labour of formation. Closely connected one with the other and tending towards the same end, these two facts are, nevertheless^ very diverse, and even when they have not been confounded, thej have not been with sufficient clearness distinguished and charac- terized, each of them apart. They are diverse both in thei chronological date and their social importance. The Co^mnune are the first to appear in history. They appear there as local facts, isolated one from another, often very different in point of origin though analogous in their aim, and in every case neither assuming nor pretending to assume any place in the government of the State. Local interests and rights, the special affairs of certain populations agglomerated in certain spots, are the only objects, the only province of the communes. With this purely municipal and individual character they come to their birth, their confirraation and their development from the eleventh to the fourteenth century; and at .the end of two centuries they enter upon their decline, they occupy far less room and make far less noise in history. It iflH exactly then that the Third E.^fafe comes to the front, and uplifts" itself as a general fact, a national element, a political power. It is the successor, not the contemporary, of the Communes ; they con- tributed much towards, but did not suffice for its formation ; iifl drew upon other resources, and was developed under other influences than those which gave existence to the communes. It has subsisted, it has gone on growing throughout the whole course of French history; and at the end of five centuries, in 1789, when the Commmnes had for a long while sunk into languish raent and political insignificance, at the moment at which France was electing her CamtUueni Assmibhj^ the Abb^Sifeyes, a man of powerful rathei than scrupulous mind, could say, " WTiat is the Thini Estate i Every thing, \VTiat has it hitherto been in the body politic! Nothing. Wliat does it demand ? To be something/*

Chap, XIX.] THE COMMUNES AND THE THIRD ESTATE. S

These words contained three grave errors. In the course of government anterior to 1789, so far was the third estate from being nothings that it had been every day becoming gi*eater and stronger. What was demanded for it in 1789 by M. Sieyes and his friends was not that it might become something but that it should be every thing. That was a desire beyond its right and its strength; and the very Revohition, which was its own victory^ proved this. Whatever may have been the weaknesses and faults of its foes, the third estate had a terrible struggle to conquer them ; and the struggle was so violent and so obstinate that the third estate was broken up therein, and had to pay dearly for its triumph. At first it obtained thereby despotism instead of liberty ; and when liberty returned, the third estate found itself confronted by twofold hostility, that of its foes under the old regimen and that of the absolute democracy which claimed in its turn to be every thing* Outrageous claims bring about intractable opposition and excite unbridled ambition. What there was in the words of the Abb^ Silyes in 1789 was not the verity of history ; it was a lying pro- gramme of revolution.

We have anticipated dates in order to properly chai^acterize and explain the facts as they present themselves, by giving a glimpse of their scope and their attainment* Now that we have clearly marked the profound difference between the third estate and the communes, we will return to the communes alone, which had the priority in respect of time. We will trace the origin and the com* position of the third estate, when we reach the period at which it became one of the gre^t performers in the history of France by reason of the place it assumed and the part it played in the States- general of the kingdom p

In dealing with the formation of the communes from the eleventh to the fourt43enth century the majority of the French historians, even M. Thierry, the most original and clearsighted of them all, often entitle this event the co7mmmal revohition. This expression hardly gives a correct idea of the fact to which it is applied. The word remlnU&n^ in the sense or at least the aspect given to it amongst us by contemporary events, points to the overthrow of a certain regimen and of the ideas and authority predominant

B 2

HISTORY OF FRANCE.

[Chap. XJX

thereunder, etkI the systematic Gleyation in their stead of a regimen essential Ij different in principle and in fact. The revo- Jutions of our day substitute or would fain substitute a republic for B monarchy, democracy for aristocracy, political liberty for absolute power. The struggles which from the eleventh to the foin'teenth century gave existence to so many communes had no ^ucli profound character ; the populations did not pretend to any ^ndamental overthrow of the regimen they attacked ; they con- spired togt^ther, they swore itujether^ as the phrase is according ta the documents of the time^ they rose to extricate themselves from the outrageous oppression and misery they were enduring, but not to abolish feudal sovereignty and to change the personality of their masters, \Vlien they succeeded they obtained those treat-ies of peace called oharters^ which brought about in the pondition of the insurgents salutary changes accompanied by more or less effectual guarantees- When they failed or when the charters were violated, the result was violent reactions, mutual excesses ; the relations between the populations and their lords were t^em- pestuous and full of vicissitude ; but at bottoni neither the political regimen nor the social systc^m of the communes were altered. And so there were, at many spots without any connexion between them, local revolts and civil wars, but no oomnmnal revolution*

One of the earliest facts of this kind which have been set forth with some detail in history clearly shows their primitive character : a fact tlie more remarkable in that the revolt described by the chroniclers originated and i^n its course in the country among peasants with a view of recovering complete independence and not amongst an urban population with a view of resulting in the erec- tion of a commune. Towards the end of the tenth century, under Richard IL, duke of Normandy, called the Good, and whilst the good Ki/uj Robert was reigning in France, "In sevei'al countships of Normandy," says William of Jumi%e, *'all the peasants, assom^ blihg in their conventicles, resolved to live according to their in- clinations and their own laws, as well in the interior of the forests as along the rivers, and to reck naught of any est-ablished right. To carry out this purpose these mobs of madmen chose each two deputies, who were to form at some central point an aseerably

\

CmAF. XIXO THE COMMUNES AND THE THIED ESTATE.

cliargied to see to tUe execution of theu^ decrees. As soon as the duke {fiicUaitl II,) was intbrmed thereof^ bo sent a largo body of men-ut-^ iS to repress tUia uudaciDusness of tbe cuuiitry districts and to ter tbis rustic assemblage. In execution of bis orders, the depu- tiea of the peasants and many other rebels were forthwith arrested, their feet and hands were cut off, and they were sent away thus mu- tilated to theii' homes, in order to deter their like from such enter- prisee and to make them wiser, for fear of worse. After this experience tbe peasants left off their meetings and returned to their plouglis.'^ It was about eighty years after the event when the monk WilKara af Jumti^ge told the story of this insurrection of peasants so long Ulterior, and yet Eo similar to that which more than three ceutmnes afterwards broke out in nearly the whole of Northern France, and which was called the Jcicquery* Less than a century after William of Juniifcge a Norman poet, Robert Wace, told the same story in his Mommiee of Rmi, a history in verse of RoUo and the fiist dukes of Normandy: **The lords do us naught but ill,'* he tziakea the Norman peasants say : " with them we have nor gain nor profit from our labours ; every day is for us a day of suffering, of travail and of fatigue ; every day our beasts are taken from u^ ioT forced labour and services . . - , why put up witli all this evit, and why not get quit of travail ? Are not we men even as they are r Have we not the same stature, the same limbs, the same atoength for suffering? Bind we ourselves by oath; swear we to aid one another ; and if they be minded to make war on us have we not for every knight thirty or foi ty young peasants ready and willing to fight with club or boar^spear or aiTOW or axe or stones if tbey ha%*e not arms ? Learn we to resist the knights, and we shall be free to hew down trees, to hunt game, and to fish after our fashion, and we shall work our will on flood and in field and wood,"

These two passages have already been quoted in Chapter xiv- of this history in the course of describing the general condition of France under the Gapetians before the crusades, and they are agatn brought forward here because they express and paint to the Ufe the chief cause which from the end of tbe teuth century led to io many insurix'ctions amongst the rural as well as urban popula- tions and brought about the establishment of so many communes.

6

HISTORY OP FRANCE,

[Chap. XIT.

We saytlie chief cause only, because oppression and insurrection were not the sole origin of the communes. Evil, moral and raate- Tialj abounds in human communities, but it never has the sole do- minion there; force never di^ves justice into utter banishment^ and the ruffianly violence of the strong never stifles in all hearts every sympathy /op the weak. Two causes, quite distinct from feudal oppression, viz. Roman traditions and Christian Bentiments, had their share in the formation of the communes and in the beneficial results thereof.

The Roman municipal regimen, which is described in M, Guizot's Eiisais BUT rHistoire de Prance (1st Essay, pp. 1 i4), did not every where perish with the empire; it kept its footing in a great number of towns, especially in those of Southern Gaid, Marseilles^ ArleSj Nisraes, Narbonnej Toulouse^ &c. At Aries the municipality actually bore the name of commune {communitas)^ Toulouse gave her municipal magistrates the name of Capiiouh^ after the Capitol of Rome, and in the greater part of the other towns in the South they wei*e called CanmU.s, After the great invasion of barbarians from the seventh to the end of the eleventh century, the existence of these Roman mimicipalities appears but rarely and confusedly in history ; but in this there is notliing pecuHar to the towns and the municipal regimen, for confusion and obscurity were at that time universal, and the nascent feudal system was plunged therein as well as the dying little municipal systems were. Many Roman municipahties were still subsisting without influencing any event of at all a general kind and without leaving any trace ; and as the feudal system grew and grew they still went on in the midst of universal darkness and anarchy* They had penetrated into the north of Gaul in fewer numbers and with a weaker organization than in the south, but still keeping their footing and vaunting themselves on their Roman origin in the face of their barbaric conquerors. The inhabitants of Rheims remembered with prido tliat their mimicipal magistracy and its jurisdiction were antarior to Clovis, dating as they did from before the days of St. Remigius, the apostle of the Franks- The burghers of Metz boasted of having enjoyed civil rights before there was any district of Lorraine : ** Lorraine," said they, ** is young, and Metz is old." The city

Cbaf, xix:] the communes and the third estate. 9

of Boiirgea was on© of the most complete examples of siicces- sive transformations and denominations attained by a Roman municipality from the sixtli to the tlilrU'^enth century under the ifero\'ingiaii8, the CarloTngianSi and the earliest Capoiiau», At the time of the invasioa it had arenas, an amphitheatre, and all tliat charact'Orizcd a Roman city* In the seventh oontury, th^ author of the life of St, Estadiola, born at Bourges, says that ** she waa the child of iUustrious parents who, as worldly diginty ia accounted, were notable by reason of iiemitori4d rank; and Gregory of Tours quotes a judgment delivered by the pmwtpah {/m>/*on«) of the city of Bourges. Coins of the time of Charles the Bald are struck with the name of the city of Bourges and its inhabitants (Biluruje^)^ In 1107, under PhiUp L, the members of the muni- cipal body of Bourges are named pra^Vhammes. in two chart-ers, one of Louis the Young, in 1145, and the other of Philip AuguBtus, in 1218, the old stmatars of Bourges have the name at one time of bom twmme^j at another of hannm of the city. Under different names, in accordance with changes of languagt^, the Boman municipal regimen held on and adapted itself to new

rfal conditions.

In our own day there has been far too much inclination to dispute, and M* Augustin Thierry has, in M. Gui350t*a opinion, made far too little of, the active and effective part played by the kingship in the formation and protection of the French communes. Not only did the kings, m we shall presently see, often interpose as mediators in the quarrels of the communes witli their laic or ecclesiastical lortis, but many amongst them assumed in their own domains and to the profit of the communes an intelligtmt and beneficial initiativD, The city of Orleans was a happy example of this. It was of mncient data, and had prospered under the Boman empire ; never- theless the continuance of the Roman municijml regimen does not appear there clearly as wo have just seen that it did in the case of Bourges ; it is chiefly from the middle ages and their kings that Orleans held its municipal franchises and its privileges; they never nised it to a commune^ propt^rly so called, by a charter sworn to and guaranteed by independent institutions, but they set honestly to work to prevent local oppression, to reform abuses, and make

•10

HISTORY OF FRANCE.

[CflAP.XIX

justice prtjvail there. From 1051 to 1281 there are to be found io the Eei'iteil den ortkmnance^ dm row seven important charters relating to Orleans. In 1051, at the deniaud of the people of Orleans and its bishopj who appears in the charter as the head of the people, the defender of the citify Henry I, secures to the inhabitants of Orlejins freedom of labour and of going to and fro during the vinfeiges, and interdicts his agents from exacting any Uiing upon the entry of wines. From 1137 to 1178, during ihe administratioii of Suger, Louis the Young in four successive ordinances gives, in respect of Orleans, precisG guarantees for freedom of trade, security of person and propertyj and the internal peace of the city ; and in 1183 Philip Augustus exempts from all talHage, that is, from all liersonal impost, the present and future inhabitants of Orleans, and grants them divers privileges, amongst others that of not going to law-courts farther from their homes than Etampos. In 1281 Pliilip the Bold renews and confirms the concessions of Philip Augustus* Orleans was not, within the royal domain, the only city where the kings of that period were careful to favour the progress of the population, of wealth and of security; several other cities and even less considerable burghs obtained similar favour ; and in 1 165 X»ouis the youDg, probably in confirmation of an act of Ids father Louis the Fat, granted to the little town of Lorris, in Qatinais (now-a-days chief place of a canton in the department of the Loiret)^ a clxarter, full of detail, which regulated its interior regimen in financial, commercial Judicial, and miHtary matters, and secured to all its inhabitants good conditions in resiiect of civil hfe. Thiii charter was in the course of the twelfth century regai'ded as so favourable that it was demanded by a great number of toinis and Imrghsi the king was asked for tJte custoins of Lornif (c&ihH^iw- iudines - Lauraciejisc^)^ and in the space of fifty years they were granted to seven towns, some of them a considerable distance from Orleanness. The towns wliich obtained them did not become by this qualification communes properly so called in the special and liistorical sense of the word ; they had no jurisdiction of their own, no independent magistracy; they had not their own government in tlicir hands ; the king's officers, provosts, bailiffs, or others, were the only persons who exercised there a real and decisive power-

I

Cbap. XIX.] THE COMMUNES AND THE THIRD ESTATE.

II

But the king's promises to the inhabitants^ the rights which he\ authorized them to claim fVora him, and the rules which he imposed upon his oificers in their goveruraeut, were not concessions which were of no value or which remained without fruit. As we follow in tlie conrse of our history the towns which, without having been raised to communes properly so called, had obtained advantsagee of that kind, we see them developing and growing in population and Health, and sticking more and more closely to tliat kingship from wliich they had received their privilogesj and which, for all its imperfect observance and even frequent violation of promises, was neveHhelesa accessible to complaint, repressed from time to time the misbehaviour of its officers, renewed at need and even extended privileges, and, in a word, promoted in its administration the pro- gross of civilization and the counsels of reason, and thus attached the burghers to itself without recognizing on. their side those positive rights and those guarantees of administrative indepen- dence which are in a perfectly and solidly constructed social fabric the foundation of political Hberty<

Nor was it the kings alone who in the middle ages listened to the oounsels of reason, and recognized in their behaviour towards their towns the rights of justice. Many bishops had become the feudal lords of the episcopal city ; and the Christian spirit enlight- ened and animated many amongst them just as the monarchical ^irit sometimes enlightened and guided the kings « Troubles had amen in the town of Carabrai between the bishops and the people, ** There was amongst the members of the metropolitan clergy,'* aays M. Augustine Thierry, *' a certain Bandri do Sarchftin\nlle, a native of Artois, who bad the title of chaplain of the bishoprick He was a man of high character and of wise and reflecting mind. He did not share the violent aversion felt by most of his order for ^8 intititution of communes. He saw in this institution a sort of neoessity beneath which it would be inevitable sooner or later, willy nilly, to bow, and he thought it was better to siu-render to the wishes of the citizens than to shed blood in order to postpone for awhUe an unavoidable revolution. Iij 1098 he was elected bishop of Noyon, He found this town in the same state in which he had seen that of Cambrai* The burghers were at daily logger^

12

HISTORY OF FRANCE,

[Chap. XIX.

heads with the metropolitan clergy, and the registers of the ChtircTi conta^ined a host of documents entitled * Peace made between us and the burghers of Noyon/ But no reconciliation was lasting; the truce was soon broken, either by the clergy or by the citizens who were the more touchy in that they had less security for their persons and their property. The new bishop thought that tl establishment of a commune sworn to by both the rival parties' might become a sort of compact of alliance between them, and lie set about reiilizing this noble idea before the word cmnmune had served at Noyon as the rallying cry of popular insmrection. Of his own mere motion he convoked in assembly all the in habi taints of the town, clergy, knights, tiBders, and craftsmen. He pi sen ted them with a charter which constituted the body of burghers' an association for ever under magistrates called jun/nimi like those of Cambrai, ' Whosoever,* said the charter, ' shall desire to enter this commune shall not be able to be received as a member of it by a single individual, but only in the presence of the jury- men. The sum of money he shall then give shall be employed for the benefit of the town, and not for the private advantage of any one whatsoever. If the commune be outraged, all those who have sworn to it shall be bound to march to its defence, and none shall be empowered to remain at home unless he be infirm or sick^ or so poor that he must needs be himself the watcher of his own wife and children lying sick. If any one have wounded or slain any one on the territory of the commune the jurymen shall take vengeance therefor.' " "

The other articles guarantee to the members of the conimun© of Noyon the complete ownership of their property, and the right of not being handed over to justice save before their own municipal magistrates. The bishop first swore to this charter, and the inhabitants of every condition took the same oath afl^r liir In virtue of his pontifical authority he pronounced the anathema^ and all the curses of the Old and New Testament, against who- ever should in time to come dare to dissolve the commune or infringe its regulations. Furthermore, in order to give this nei pact a stronger warranty, Baudri requested the king of France^' Louis the Fat, to corroborate it, as they used to say at the time»

I

I

I

ft

I

ft

JChap. XIX] THE COMMUNES AND THE THIRD ESTATE. IS

Bis approbation and by the great seal of the crown. The fcixig consented to this request of the bishop^ and that was all the part taken by Louis the Fat in the establishment of the commnntf of Noyon. The king*s charter is not preserved, but, under the date of 1108, there is extant one of the bishop's own, which may serve to snbstantiat© the account given :—

" Bandri, by the grace of God bishop of Noyon, to all those who do persevere and go on in the faith :

"Most dear brethren, we learn by the example and words of the holy Fathers, that all good things ought to be committed to writing for fear lest hereafter they come to bo forgotten* Know then aU Christians present and to come, that I have formed at Noyon a commune, constituted by the counsel and in an assembly of clergy, knights, and burghers; that I have confirmed it by oath, by pontifical authority and by the bond of anathema, and that I have prevailed upon our lord King Louis to grant this commune and corroborate it with the king's seal. This establishment formed by me, sworn to by a great number of persons, and granted by the ting, let none be so bold as to destroy or alter ; I give warning thereof, 6n behalf of God and myself, and I forbid it in the name of pontifical authority. Whosoever shall transgress and violate the present law, bo subjected to excommunication ; and whosoever, oa the contrary, shall faithfully keep it, be preserved for ever amongst those who dwell in the house of the Lord/*

Tliis good example was not without fruit. The communal a*giraen was established in several towns, notably at St, Quentin and at Soissons, without trouble or violence, and with one accord amongst the laic and ecclesiastical lords and the inhabitants ,

W0 arrive now at the third and chief source of the communes, at the case of those which met feudal oppression with energetic retistance, and which after all the sufferings, vicissitudes and outrages, on both sides, of a prolonged struggle ended by win- ning a veritable administrative and, to a certain extent, political independence* The number of communes thus formed from the eleventh to the thirteenth century was great, and we have a ^tailed history of the fortunes of several amongst them, 0am- brai, Beauvais, Laon, Amiens, Rheims, Btampes, Vezelay, &c. To

la

HISTORY OF FRANCE.

[Chap, XIX.

give a correct and vivid picture of them we will ctoose the com- mune of Laon which was one of those whose fortunes were most chequered as well as most tragic^ and which after more than two centuries of a very tempestuous existence was sentenced to complete abolition, first by Philip the Handsome j then bj Philip the Long and Charles the Handsome, and, finally, by Philip of Valois, ** for certain misdeeds and excesses notorious, enormous, and detestable, and on full deUberation of our council/* The early portion of the histoiy connected with the commune of Laon has been narrated for us by Guibert, an abbot of Nogent-sous-Coucy, in the diocese of Laon, a cont-emporarj wi*iter, sprightly and bold. ** In all that I have written and am still writing/' says he, " I dismiss all men from my mind, caring not a whit about pleasing any body* I have taken my side in the opinions of the worlJ, and with calmness and indifference on my own account I expect to be exposed to all sorts of language, to be as it were beaten with rods, I proceed with my task, being fully purposed to bear with equanimity the judgments of all who come snarling after me/*

Laon was at the end of the eleventh century one of the most important towns in the kingdom of France, It was fuU of rich and industrious inhabitants; the neighbouring people came thither for provisions or diversion ; and such concourse led to the greatest disturbances. '' The nobles and their servitors," saya M. Augustin Thierry, "sword in hand, committed robbery upon the burghers ; the streets of the town were not safe by night or even by day, and none could go out without running a risk of being stopped and robbed or killed. The burghers in their turn committed violence upon the peasants, who came to buy or soil at the market of the town," " Let me give as example," says GuibertofNogent,"a single fact, which had it taken place amongst the Barbarians or the Scythians, would assuredly have been con- sidered the height of wickedness, in the judgment even of those who recognize no law. On Saturday the inhabitants of the country *places used to leave their fields, and come from all sides to Laon to get provisions at the market. The townsfolk used then to go round the place carrying in baskets or bowls or otherwise samples of vegetables or grain or any other article, as if

Chap. XIX.] THE COMMUNKS AND THE THIRD ESTATE.

17

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they ^shed to sell. They would offer them to the first peasant who was iQ search of such things to buy ; he would promise to pay the price ag:*eed upon ; and then the seller would say to the buyer, * Come with me to my house to see and examine the whole of the articles I am selling you.' The other would go ; and then, when they came to the bin containing the goods, the honest seller would takeoff and hold up the lid, saying to the buyer, ' St^^p hither, and put your head or arms into the bin to make quite sure that it is all exactly the same goods as I showed you outside/ And then when the other, jumping on to the edge of the bin, remained k'auing on his bellj, with his head and slioiddera hanging down, the worthy seller, who kept in the roar, would hoist up the thoughtless rustic by the foefc, push him suddenly into the bin, aod, clapping on the lid as be fell, keep him shut up in this safe prison until he had bought himself out."

In 1100 the bishopric of Laon had been two years vacant. It was sought after and ol>tained for a sum of money, say contempo- raries, by Gaudri, a Norman by birth, referendary of Henry I*, king of England, and one of tliose Churchmen who, according to M, Augustin ThieiTy's expression, '* had gone iu the train of William the Bastard to seek their fortunes amongst the EngHsh by seizing the property of the vanquished/* It appears that thenceforth the life of Gaudri had been scarcely edifying ; he had, it is said, the tastes and habits of a. soldier ; he was hasty and arrogant, and he Uked beyond every thing to talk of fighting and bunting, of arms, of horses, and of hounds. When he was re- piirtog with a numerous following to Rome, to ask for con- finiiation of his election, he met at Langres Pope Pascal II.,como to France to keep the festival of Christmas at the abljey of Cluny, The pope had no doubt heard, something about the in- different reputation of the new bishop foi", the very day after his arrival at Langres, he held a conference with the ecclesias- tics who had accompanied Gaudri and pMed them with questions concerning him. " He asked us first/' says Guibert of Nogent, who was in the train, ** why we had chosen a man who was unknown to us- As none of the priests, some of whom did not know even the first rudiments of the Latm language, made any

c

18

HISTOHY OF FRANOR

[CHAr, XIX.

answer to this qLiestion, he turned to the abbots. I was seated between my two colloagues* As they likewise kept silence, I began to be urged, riglitand left, to speak* I was oae of those whom this election had displeased; but with culpable timidity I had yielded to the authority of my superiors in dignity. With tlie bash fulness of youth I could only with great difficulty and much blusliing prevail upon myself to open my mouth. The discussion was carried on not in our mother- tongue but in the language of scholars. I therefore, though with great confusion of niind and face, betook myself to speaking in a manner to tickle tho palate of hira who was questioning us, wrapping up in artfully arranged form of speech esipresBions which wei'o soft^*ned down, but were not entirely reraovGd from the truth. I said that wo did not know, it was true, to tho extent of having been fainihar by sight and intercourse with him, the man of whom we had made choice, but that we had received favourable reports of his integrity. The pope strove to confound my arguments by this quotation from the Gos{)el : " He that hath seen giveth testimony/* But as he did not expHcitly raise tlie objection that Gauilri had been elected by^ desii^ of the court, all subtle subterfuge on any such point became useless ; so I gave it up, and confessed that I could say nothing in opposition to the pontiff *s words; which pleased him very muchj for he had less scholarship than would have become his high office. Cleiirly perceiving, however, that all the phrases I had jiiled up in defence of our election had but little weight, I launched out afterwards upon the urgent straits wherein oui' Cliurch was placed, and on this subject I gave myself the more rein in proportion as tho person elected was unfitted for the functions of the ei»iseopate.**

Gaudri was iudtHnl very scantily fitted for the office of bishop, an tht^ Unvn of Imoii was nut slow to perceive. Scarcely had he been installed when ho committ^^d strange outmges. He had a inan*8 eyes put out on suspicion of connivance with his enemies ; and he t^ilerated the murder of another in the metropohtan church. In imitation of rich crusaders on their return from the East he kept a blaek slave, whom he employed upon his deeds of vengeance. The biiiTghers bogun to be disquieted, and to wax wroth. During

CsAe. XrX.] THE COMMUNES AND THE THHID ESTATE.

19

I

a trip the bishop made to England, they offered a great deal of money to the clergy and knights who ruled in his absence, if they wduJd consent to recogiiize by a genuine Act the right of the DOinmonalty of the inhabitants to bo governed by authorities of their own choice, "The clergy and knights/' says a contemporary chronicler, ** came to an agreement with the common folk in hopes of enriching tliemselyos in a speedy and easy fashion," A commune wa^ therefore set up and proclaimed at Laon, on the model of that of Noyon, and invested with effective powers. The bishop, on his return, was very wroth, and for some days abstained from re-entering the town. But the burghers acted srifch him as they had with his olergy and the knights : they offered him so large a sum of money that '' it was enough/* says Guibert of Nogent, " to appease the tempest of his words.'* He iccepted the communCj and swore to respect its The burghers flrished to have a higher warranty ; so they sent to Paris to King Louis the Fata deputation laden with rich presents. ** The king/' says the chronicler, ** won over by this plebeian bounty, confirmed the oomraune by his own oath/' and the deputation took back to Laon their charter sealed with the great seal of the crown, and aogmented by two articles to the following purport ; " The folks of Laon shaU not be liable to be forced to law away from their town ; if the king have a suit against any one amongst them justice shall be done him in the episcopal court. For these advantages and others fiurther gninted to the aforesaid inhabitants by the king's manificence the folks of the commune hq-ve covenanted to give the kingj besides the old plenary court dues, and man-and-horse dues [ium paid for exemption from active service in case of war], three lodgings a year, if he come to the town, and, if he do not comei they will pay him instead twenty livi^es for each lodging/'

For three years the town of Laon was satisfied and tranquil ; the burghers were happy in the security they enjoyed and proud of the Uberty they