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DEATH OF KING CHARLES-WAR AGAINST THE DAUPHIN, OR CHARLES VII., CARRIED ON BY THE DUKE OF BEDFORD REGENT FOR HENRY VI.--SIEGE OF ORLEANS.
Within two months after King Henry's death, King Charles died. Henry VI. was proclaimed King of France and England, and Charles the Dauphin, who was then in the city of Poictiers, was crowned in that city, and was called King of France by all his adherents. There were many towns and fortresses in the north of France which were held for him, for the old party distinctions of Burgundians and Armagnacs were beginning to be forgotten, and there were few of the French who were in their hearts sincerely attached to the English; for, however they might quarrel among
themselves, they liked not the idea of being ruled by a foreign king. But the Duke of Bedford, who governed France for his young nephew, Henry, was both bold and skilful; and although Charles and his friends made a brave resistance, and were sometimes successful, yet town after town, castle after castle was taken from them, and step by step they were driven from the north, and Charles himself was reduced to such necessity that he often wanted money for his personal subsistence, and although all the parade of a court was banished, could with difficulty keep a table supplied with the plainest necessaries for himself and a few followers.
The possession of the city of Orleans was of great importance to King Charles. for as it lay immediately between those provinces which had submitted to the English, and those which still acknowledged
his authority, it served as a gathering point for his adherents, and a stronghold from whence they could with advantage sally out and annoy their enemies. Unless this place were subdued, the English could not with safety pursue King Charles into the southern part of the kingdom, and the success of his cause seemed now wholly dependent upon its possession. If it were lost, no resource was left him but a retreat into the south-eastern provinces of France, and it seemed very doubtful if he could have long continued any effectual opposition to the English when driven into that part of the country. Thus all the hopes of Charles seemed dependent on the fate of Orleans. He entrusted its defence to the Lord of Gaucour, a brave and experienced officer : the best troops he could command, led by many of his most faithful officers, were sent there; the inhabitants were all