صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

no other quarter was any attack to be feared. Every thing looked favourable for France, and it was hoped that she would now at length recover from the miserable condition to which she had been reduced by her long war with England, under Edward III., and the insurrections and other internal disturbances which had set her own sons at vari

ance.

It was in the summer of this year (1392) that King Charles had undertaken an expedition to punish one of the most powerful lords of his kingdom, the Duke of Brittany, who had given shelter to a notorious criminal. I will tell you the story, that you may form an idea of the barbarous and savage state of a society whose members yet called themrelves noble and gentle knights, and courteous cavaliers, although I shall have even worse things to tell by and bye.

Peter de Craon, a gentleman of good

family and fortune, had been held in great favour by the King of France and his brother, the Duke of Touraine, afterwards the Duke of Orleans; but falling into disgrace with them, in consequence of a circumstance in which he had acted very dishonourably coming to their knowledge, he was forced to retire from court, and went to Brittany, when he was kindly received by the Duke, who, on hearing of his misfortune, persuaded him that it was entirely owing to the ill offices of the constable Clisson, who was much beloved by the fing, but disliked by Craon, and hated by the Duke of Brittany, who was his mortal enemy, and had not long before made him prisoner in a very shameful manner, and exacted a heavy ransom. Craon's real character was now beginning to be publicly known, as before he had been taken into favour by the King of France, he had been

[ocr errors]

driven in disgrace from the family of the Duke of Anjou, who called himself King of Naples, whose father he had plundered of large sums, which he was afterwards forced to refund. He considered it very desirable to obtain the firm friendship of the Duke of Brittany, and thought he could effect this by no surer means than by slaying the constable, and thus avenging his own supposed wrong (for the constable had really had no hand in his disgrace) and his new friend's quarrel.

He therefore left Brittany without telling the Duke what his exact intentions were though he most probably guessed them well enough, and went to a country-house of his own, from whence he sent up by small parties forty stout men, who were received and well entertained by his orders, at a large house he had at Paris, but kept quite close, and not suffered to show themselves abroad.

They were supplied with arms and armour; but neither they nor even the steward who had charge of the house knew why they were assembled. When all the forty were arrived, Peter joined them, coming as secretly as they had done, and immediately employed spies to give him information of the movements of the constable. The story is told by Froissart, the best and most delightful historian of his times, and in his words I shall continue it. “It happened that on the feast of the Holy Sacrament, the King of France kept an open court at the Hôtel de St. Pol, where he entertained all barons and lords who were in Paris. He was in high enjoyment, as were the queen and the Duchess of Touraine ; to add to their amusement, after dinner, lists were prepared within the courts of the hôtel, and young knights and squires ready armed and mounted for tilting came thither, and

justed very gallantly. The tiltings were well performed, to the delight of the king, queen, ladies, and damsels, and lasted until the evening. The king entertained at supper, in the Hôtel de St. Pol, every knight who wished to partake of it; and afterward, the dancings continued until one o'clock in the morning. When these were over, every one retired to his home without guard and without suspicion. Sir Oliver de cl

Clisson remained the last; and when he had taken leave of the king, he returned to the apartment of the Duke of Touraine, and asked, My lord, shall you stay here to-night, or do you go to Toulain's ?' This Toulain was treasurer to the Duke of Touraine. The duke replied, — Constable, I am not determined whether I shall stay or not, but do you go, for it is high time to retire:' ‘My lord, God give you a good night!' said Sir Oliver, and went away. He found

« السابقةمتابعة »