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Reign of Henry V. Part 2 page 2

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This ominous deputation used all their influence to persuade the duke to meet the dauphin, for a conference of their affairs at this pressing crisis, on the bridge of Montereau, not requiring him to advance into the town. The duke knew the character both of the dauphin and of those about him; and could not expel from his memory his own murder of the Duke of Orleans twelve years before. These deadly suspicions of each other, based on too much well-grounded experience of each other's utter destitution of honour, did not augur much blessing to the country from their co-operation. When all arguments and protestations proved incapable of moving the duke, recourse was once more had to the influence of Madame de Giac, and the all-powerful mistress won from him the fatal consent to the meeting on the 10th of September.

Every apparent precaution was taken for the peace of the interview and the security of the leaders. Tannegui du Chastel, on the day previous to the meeting, took an oath from the followers of the duke to observe strictly the alliance pledged between the parties, and Burgundy sent the husband of Madame de Giac and another of his officers to impose the same oath on the followers of the dauphin. But no precautions or formalities can bind men without honour or principle, and when the duke was himself ready to go, his most experienced friends strongly dissuaded him from it, reminding him that around the dauphin were his most deadly enemies. Whatever might be his own internal feelings, Burgundy now appeared resolved to go. He talked of the great advantages to be obtained by gaining the command of the brave captains and men in the service of the dauphin, and boasted that once united, it would soon be seen which was the better man, "Hannotin of Flanders," a nickname given him by his Flemish subjects, or "Henry of Lancaster."

His astrologer declared that if he went he would never return, and at the moment of starting his friends once more crowded round him, and urged him to give up the hazardous enterprise. Resisting, if not despising these warnings, the doomed duke rode away, attended by 400 men-at-arms.

On approaching the town, Burgundy sent to announce to the dauphin his arrival, when he was speedily attended by Tannegui du Chastel, who brought him from the dauphin the most solemn assurances, "on the word of a prince," that no injury should be offered to him or his. It was agreed that he should take only ten knights with him, and that the dauphin should only bring the same number on his side. The meeting was to take place on the bridge, which was to be guarded at the end by which he entered by his own troops, and at the other by those of the dauphin. Before proceeding, the duke learned that three barriers were drawn across the bridge with a gate in each; this appeared to excite his suspicion, and at this moment one of his valets, who had been into the castle to make preparations for the reception of the duke and his train, came in haste and warned him not to go upon the bridge, as he would assuredly be slain or taken prisoner. On this the duke, turning to Tannegui, said, "How is this? You have pledged your honour for our safety, but do you say true?" The traitor swore he would die himself rather than permit any injury to the duke, and the victim went on.

Yet again, as he had dismounted, and was walking to the bridge, another of his servants rushed up and implored him to remain, for he had seen throngs of armed men collecting on the other side of the river. On this the duke paused, and sent forward the Sieur de Giac to see if it were so, but the false man reported that the whole was a fiction: and Tannegui urged the duke to make haste, for his master had been waiting for him more than an hour. This decided the matter; the duke hurried forward, and no sooner had he passed the first gate on the bridge with his attendants, than it was closed and secured behind him, and so the second. Once more the suspicions of the duke being roused, he laid his hand on Tannegui, and said, "Here is what I trust in." It was a deadly trust. "Let us hasten," said Tannegui, "to my lord the dauphin." They pushed forward towards the next barrier, where the dauphin was standing, and on the duke kneeling with his velvet cap in his hand, he was suddenly struck down from behind by the villain who had lured him on by every sacred assurance. He was speedily dispatched; one of his followers, the Sieur de Navailles, was killed also by Tannegui as he attempted to defend his master. The Lord of Neuchatel darted away, sprang over the barriers, and escaped; the rest of the attendants were surrounded, overpowered, and seized. While this was going on, the soldiers of the dauphin, of whom Burgundy had been warned by his faithful servants, rushed from their hiding-place, scoured over the bridge, and fell upon the duke's followers. These, thus taken by surprise, fled, and got back to Bray.

Nothing could demonstrate the dreadful state of moral turpitude in France at this period more clearly than this studied and most impolitic murder. At the very moment when the most imminent danger to the country from foreign invasion called upon them to put forth all their energies for its defence, to forget all past differences, and, in fact, everything but the national welfare, these wretched princes thus deliberately sought each other's lives, and stabbed their country through their party antagonists.

The savage troops of the dauphin stripped the body of the duke of everything of value, and would have thrown it into the river, but a priest resisted their design, and had it conveyed to the church of Montereau. The horror which this most detestable deed excited throughout France, familiar as it was with crimes and tragedies, was intense. One burst of execration was heard throughout the country against the dauphin. That a young man of seventeen could stand calmly and see so vile a murder perpetrated - a murder which, it was plain, had been planned in his own councils - promised but a gloomy future to France. The people vowed to renounce all allegiance to him, or regard for his power. The Parisians in particular swore vengeance on him and his accomplices. They demanded a truce of the English, sent in all haste for the Count of Charolais, the son of their murdered leader, and demanded immediate alliance with the English, as the most certain means of exterminating the diabolical faction of the dauphin.

This storm of indignant contempt aroused the dauphin to vindicate his concern in the affair. He issued a proclamation, declaring that the Duke of Burgundy had made an attempt upon his (the dauphin's) life, and had been slain by his attendants in defence of their prince. But this was so notoriously false that it only deepened the scorn of the public against him; and his more honest followers went about boasting of the deed as a grand stratagem and a truly glorious exploit.

Meantime, Philip, the new Duke of Burgundy, afterwards so well known by the title of Philip the Good, received the news of his father's assassination at Ghent, and immediately set out to take vengeance for it. He was married to a sister of the dauphin, and exclaimed bluntly, on learning the bloody fact, "Michelle, your brother has murdered my father!" The duke had been very popular with his Flemish subjects, and with one voice they vowed to support his heir in punishing to the utmost the assassins. At Arras the new duke was met by deputations from Isabella, from the city of Paris, and from his own Burgundian subjects, all offering alliance and support in his righteous work of retribution.

The duke at once made overtures to Henry of England, as the certain means of crushing the dauphin and his furious partisans. Henry proposed, as the price of his co-operation, the hand of the Princess Catherine, that he should be announced as regent of the kingdom, and as the successor to Charles, setting wholly aside the dauphin. These terms were at once accepted, placing Henry at the height of his ambition, for nothing was too dear for the vengeance required. Within two weeks these preliminaries were signed, but the minor points occupied five months, and, in fact, were the business of the whole winter. These were, that Henry should settle on Catherine 20,000 nobles, the usual income of an English queen; that during his regency he should govern with the advice of a council of Frenchmen; lay aside the title of King of France during the present king's life; should re-annex Normandy to the crown of France 011 ascending the throne, and conquer the territories held by the dauphin for the benefit of the king, his father. He was bound to preserve the Parliaments and nobles, the charters of all cities, and the liberties and privileges of all classes of subjects, as they then existed; and to administer justice according to the laws and customs of the realm.

It was, moreover, stipulated between Henry and the Duke of Burgundy, that the Duke of Bedford, one of the king's brothers, should marry a sister of Burgundy; that together the king and the duke should pursue the dauphin and the other murderers; and that Henry should on no account allow the dauphin to go out of his hands, if he took him, without the consent of the duke. Besides this, Henry was to settle on Burgundy and his duchess, Michelle, lands in France of the annual value of 20,000 livres.

Accompanied by 16,000 men-at-arms, Henry entered Troyes, where the French court was, on the 30th of May, 1419, and the next day "the perpetual peace" was ratified by Isabella and Philip of Burgundy as the commissioners of Charles. The treaty was accepted with the most apparent alacrity and unanimity by the Parliament, the nobles, the heads of the church, the municipality, and all the corporate bodies of Paris. The highest eulogiums were pronounced by the Government authorities on Henry. He was declared, in addresses to the public bodies, to be a most wise and virtuous prince, a lover of peace and justice; a prince who maintained the most admirable discipline in his army, driving thence all lewd women, and protecting the women and the poor of the country from injury and insult; that he was a fast friend of the Church and of learning. Equal laudation was bestowed on his piety and the graces of his person. In short, there was no virtue and no advantage which they did not attribute to him; and though much of this was true, the whole had such an air of the sycophancy of an unprincipled court, as deprived it of any real value. Under all this yet lurked the feeling, especially in the people, that Henry was still a foreigner, and that France had ceased to be an independent country.

The young monarch was introduced to his intended bride, whom he found enthroned with her mother in the church of Notre Dame. Henry appeared, as became his warrior character, in a magnificent suit of burnished armour, and instead of a plume he wore in his helmet a fox's tail, ornamented with precious stones. This same fox's tail he had had carried on a spear before him when he entered Rouen as conqueror, from what whim or circumstance no historian has satisfactorily stated. The queen apologised for the absence of the king on account of his infirm health; but probably the real cause was that he had not nerve enough to go through the duty of depriving his own son of the succession.

Henry conducted the queen and princess to the high altar, and the young couple were there affianced, and "on the 3rd of June, Trinity Sunday," says Monstrelet, "the King of England wedded the Lady Catherine, at Troyes, in the parish church, near which he lodged. Great pomp and magnificence were displayed by him and his princes, as if he had been king of the whole world." The next day he gave a splendid entertainment, where, the knights of both nations preparing a series of tournaments in honour of the marriage, Henry, continues Monstrelet, said, "I pray my lord the king to permit, and I command his servants and mine to be" all ready by to-morrow morning to go and lay siege to Sens, wherein are our enemies. There every man may have jousting and tourneying enough, and may give proof of his prowess; for there is no finer prowess than that of doing justice on the wicked, in order that poor people may breathe and live."

The concluding sentiment of this royal address is very noble, and the glory of it was, that in Henry, as we have already stated, it was the genuine sentiment and practice of his life. In all his campaigns he protected the poor and defenceless.

On the second day after his marriage he accordingly set out on his march to Sens, carrying his young queen with him. In two days Sens opened its gates, and the king and queen entered it in great state. The Archbishop of Sens, who married him, had been expelled from his diocese by the Armagnacs, and Henry had the pleasure of reinstating him, which he did in this graceful manner: - "Now, Monseigneur Archevesque, we are quits; you gave me my wife the other day, and I this day restore you to yours."

From Sens he marched upon Montereau, accompanied by the Duke of Burgundy, who was particularly anxious to reduce and punish the governor, who had assisted at the murder of his father. Montereau made a desperate, but not a long resistance. During this siege, Henry's bride resided with her father and mother and their court at Bray-sur-Seine, where Henry visited them.

On entering the town, the first care of the Duke of Burgundy was to visit the tomb of his father. The poor women of the place showed him the way, and the next day he caused the grave to be opened, and gazed in horror and indignation on the mangled corpse. The body was taken out and removed to the family mausoleum at Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, and the body of the bastard of Croy, who had just been slain in the siege, was placed in the vacant grave. The castle of Montereau still held out, and here Henry gave an example of one of his occasional acts of severity. As the governor was not only immovable, but insulted his herald who was sent to summon him to surrender, Henry brought before the castle some of the Armagnac prisoners, whom he had taken in the town, and declared that he would hang them up there if De Guitry, the governor, would not yield. No notice was taken of the threat, and Henry proceeded to erect gibbets: still the governor was unmoved, though the prisoners knelt down on the edge of the castle moat, and implored him to open his gates and save their lives, as it was clear he could not hold out long. The governor was as impassable as his walls; the threat of Henry was carried into execution, and the poor fellows having been sacrificed to his obstinacy, in eight days afterwards the governor flung open his gates

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