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Reign of Henry V. Part 1 page 11


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A company of young men had entered into secret correspondence with the Burgundians; and on the night of the 29th of May, Perrinet le Clerk, one of their number, opened the gate of St. Germain-des-Pres to L'Isle-Adam, a captain of the Duke of Burgundy, and his troop marched in profound silence to the Chatelet, where they were joined by 500 of the inhabitants. They then divided into different bodies, and, having admitted the whole garrison of Pontoise, they ran through the streets, crying, "Our Lady of Peace! Long live Burgundy! Let those who are for peace come and follow us!"

The mass of the people obeyed the summons with instant alacrity. They threw on their clothes and followed the Burgundians, who hastened to the houses of the chief Armagnacs, dragged them from their beds, and thrust them into prison. Tannegui du Chastel, a Breton, and one of the most daring of the Armagnacs, ran to the chamber of the dauphin, and carried him off, wrapped merely in his bed-clothes, to the Bastile, from whence he escaped to Melun. But scarcely did Du Chastel disappear from one door of the dauphin's chamber, when the mob broke in, and, missing him, seized all the gentlemen of his retinue, and sent them to prison. L'Isle-Adam, meantime, had hurried to the Hotel St. Pol, where the king lived, and, securing him, they set him on a horse, idiotic as he was, and paraded him through the streets, to convince the people that all they did was by his orders. The Count of Armagnac himself, who had fled and concealed himself in the house of a mason, was given up to L'Isle-Adam by this man, in terror of the denunciation against all who protected him.

On the 11th of June, Tannegui du Chastel made a sortie with 1,600 men from the Bastile, in the hope of recovering Paris; but he was driven back to his retreat, the people flinging down upon him and his followers at every step all kinds of missiles from their windows and roofs. The Armagnacs had killed a considerable number of poor people in the Faubourg St. Antoine, and now the mob, in their rage, fell on the Armagnac citizens, and massacred all they could find, without the least compunction. Women, and even children, like demons in their fury, dragged the dead Armagnacs about the streets, mutilating and insulting them in their diabolical frenzy.

No sooner had the news of this revolution spread through the land than the equally brutalised population of the country came pouring into Paris to share in the plunder and carnage. The Burgundian butchers once more walked the streets of the capital in sanguinary ascendancy, and Paris was nothing more nor less than a perfect hell! Had not avarice - that mighty passion which has swayed men in all ages, often and often influencing the destinies and fortunes of great countries - come in to stay the hand of murder, in the hope of ransom, not a single Armagnac would have been left alive.

But even yet the horror had not culminated. Instead of the Duke of Burgundy and the queen, now in the ascendant, exerting themselves to restrain the cruelty and restore order, as they might easily have done, had they so desired, they kept aloof - Burgundy at Montbelliard, and the queen at Troyes; and they are accused of even stimulating the massacre of their defeated enemies. Nothing short of the monstrosity of crime to which those long and deadly feuds had led at this time could induce us to credit such appalling suggestions. But the queen is related to have replied to a deputation sent to invite her to Paris, that she would never set foot again in that city while a single Armagnac breathed in it. On the other hand, though Tannegui du Chastel had fled to Bourges with the dauphin, 150 miles off, rumours, said to be traceable to the Burgundian camp, were constantly spreading that he was on his way to surprise Paris, release all the Armagnac captives, and slay every Burgundian, man, woman, and child.

These rumours were incessantly revived, keeping the people in perpetual alarm, and irritating them to a state of mind bordering on desperation. At length, on the night of Sunday, the 12th of June, cries were heard in the streets that Tannegui was at the gates, and that all Paris would be butchered. The people, roused to a pitch of uncontrolled fury, swore that there would be no peace while one Armagnac lived. They rushed out, armed and implacable, crying, "Peace for ever! Long live the Duke of Burgundy!" L'Isle-Adam endeavoured, at the head of his soldiery, to appease their murderous designs; but he and his 1,000 men were nothing in the path of a whole city breathing destruction. They gave way, and the wild mob rushed on, crying that the Armagnacs were dogs; that they had ruined France; were now in treaty to make it over to the English; and had prepared English flags to plant on the walls of Paris. They burst open the prison doors, they ranged like wild beasts through the houses of the Armagnacs; and there was one fierce, deadly, universal massacre.

The Count of Armagnac, who had so long ridden on the crest of the troubled sea of French affairs, was one of the first on whom they glutted their thirst of blood; and his mangled remains were dragged with curses for three days through the streets of Paris by the excited women and children. The wild work of extermination went on for many days. In the first outbreak of this carnival of Moloch, between four o'clock in the morning and mid-day, 1,500 persons perished. In the three first days, besides the constable, the chancellor, and six bishops, 3,500 persons of eminent rank and character were put to death. The streets ran with blood; and when murder had wearied itself out, or ceased for want of fresh, victims, pestilence took up the work, and the whole tale of the victims of this outbreak is said to have amounted to 14,000 persons, of whom 5,000 were women. V In the midst of these horrors, the queen and the Duke of Burgundy made their entry into Paris in triumph on the 14th of July. The streets, not yet dried from the blood of the massacred, were strown with flowers; and these contemptible princes, themselves stained with more than one murder, or the reputation of it, rode on as if nothing had occurred. The butcheries had not ceased when they entered Paris, and they rather encouraged than put a stop to them, for they had spites of their own which they sought to gratify. They got the poor doting king into their possession, and, thus armed with the royal authority, they made use of the leaders of the mob to execute their own vengeance' on those they hated, and then executed their tools to pacify the people. They made strenuous endeavours to secure the person of the dauphin; but Tannegui du Chastel and the Armagnacs had him at Bourges, and kept good watch over him. They then entered into negotiations with him, offering him terms of coalition, and doing all in their power to allure him to Paris; but such overtures were hopeless while the whole Armagnac party were burning for revenge of their late butchery. Though the old Count of Armagnac was dead, his son was alive, and vowing the most signal retribution. "With the Count of Dreux, and other French barons, he had been harassing Henry's province of Guienne as a diversion in favour of Normandy; but he and his associates at once made peace with the King of England and joined the dauphin, demanding justice on his father's assassins. Tannegui du Chastel, equally eager for revenge, and more truculent, denounced extermination to the Burgundians. By their advice the dauphin assumed the title of regent, repudiating his mother's right to it, and opened a Parliament at Poictiers.

Thus France, after all the murders of the heads of its factions, had still two factions a-s decided and iniquitous as ever. Each of these factions sought to make an alliance with Henry, the common enemy of their claims. Henry amused them as long as it suited his purpose. He sent commissioners to meet those of the dauphin at Alencon, and those of Burgundy at Pont de l'Arche; and having heard all they had to say, without at all communicating his own views, at length dismissed them with the insulting observations that the dauphin was a minor, the king not of sound mind, and Burgundy's authority doubtful, so that no safe treaty could be made with any of them.

During these attempts at negotiation Henry still pressed on the siege of Rouen. Winter was now setting in, and the famished citizens saw its approach with horror. They had long been reduced to the severest condition of starvation, and still the determined De Bouteillier held out. They had consumed every green and every living thing but themselves and their children. The inky Robec, flowing through and under Rouen, the Styx of the place, had long ceased to furnish one desperate rat to the hungry watchers. The time was come when a man looked at his neighbour's leathern girdle with fierce desire, and an old shoe was the only material for a stew. A lizard, a bat, or a snail were luxuries which only could be purchased by the rich. Gaunt Famine, the sternest of all conquerors, now subdued the iron hardihood of the governor, and he offered on the 3rd of January to capitulate; but Henry insisted on unconditional surrender. Bouteillier, indignant and in despair, assembled the garrison, and proposed to them to set fire to the city, to throw down a portion of the wall, which was already undermined by the English, and burst headlong into the camp of the enemy, where, if they could not cut their way through, they should at least perish as became soldiers.

This stoical design, as terribly sublime as any project of antiquity, reaching the ears of Henry, he lowered his demands. It was impossible not to be struck with such heroism in men wasted by months of utter want, and he had no wish to see Rouen a heap of smoking ruins. He offered the soldiers their lives and liberties on condition that they did not serve against him for twelve months; and he guaranteed to the citizens their property and their franchises on the payment of 300,000 crowns. On the 13th of January, 1419, the terms of surrender were signed, and on the 19th Henry entered the city in triumph. To his honour he strictly observed the treaty, suffering no infringement of the citizens' rights, nor displaying any signs of vengeance. The only person exempted from this clemency was a priest who had, during the siege, excommunicated him, and pronounced the direst curses upon him. Him he imprisoned for life; and a captain of the city militia was executed a few days after the entrance of the city, for treasonable designs.

The fall of Rouen was the fall of the whole province. The fortresses which had hitherto held out now speedily opened their gates, and the red cross of England waved on all the towers of Normandy, announcing it an appanage of England.

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Pictures for Reign of Henry V. Part 1 page 11

Great Seal of Henry V
Great Seal of Henry V >>>>
Henry V
Henry V >>>>
Cradle of Henry V
Cradle of Henry V >>>>
Room in the Lollards' Tower
Room in the Lollards' Tower >>>>
French Carpenter and Maid-Servant
French Carpenter and Maid-Servant >>>>
The Battle of the Carpenters and Butchers
The Battle of the Carpenters and Butchers >>>>
Parliament of Henry V
Parliament of Henry V >>>>
Azincourt. - King Henry V. and the Sire de Helly
Azincourt. - King Henry V. and the Sire de Helly >>>>
Monmouth Castle
Monmouth Castle >>>>
Reception of Sigismund on the Coast of England.
Reception of Sigismund on the Coast of England. >>>>
Mass in the Abbey Church of Marmontier
Mass in the Abbey Church of Marmontier >>>>
Rouen
Rouen >>>>
Cardinal Ursini
Cardinal Ursini >>>>

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