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BATTLE OF CRESSY.
in-law of Philip vI., Geoffrey d'Harcourt, and Charles the Bad,1 king of Navarre, son of that Jane whom the States had excluded from the throne. In the course of the long war that followed, the rich, commercial, and democratic Flemings, under their leader James Arteveldt, the Brewer, 2 were Edward's most valuable allies, as the Scots were those of the French king. The first engagement was a naval action off the Sluys, in which the English and Flemings were victorious (1340).
At the same time that this war for the inheritance of the throne of France was being waged, a minor one was carried on for the succession to the duchy of Brittany between Jean de Montfort supported by the English, and Charles de Blois supported by the French. This war, which lasted twenty-four years, is interesting for the heroism, ability, and personal bravery exhibited by the wives (both, like other French heroines, bearing the name of Jane) of the two competitors, who, when their husbands were made prisoners, led armies and fleets, directed sieges, and took towns. It terminated in the triumph of the Montfort claim.
In 1346 Edward recommenced war, and, entering Normandy, laid waste the country, and pillaged and burned the towns. His army consisted to a large extent of English bowmen. Philip, in order to hem in Edward, ordered the bridges to be destroyed; and, had it not been for a traitor, a peasant, who for a sum of money pointed out a ford on the Somme, Edward would have been in dangerous plight. He succeeded, however, in crossing the river in the face of a detachment of the French army, and chose an admirable position near the village of Cressy, planting his cannon (which on that day were used for the first time by the English) on favourable ground. The French, although three times the number of the English, were defeated with great slaughter. Amongst their slain was their ally the old blind King of Bohemia, whose crest, three ostrich feathers, and motto, Ich dien, "I serve," were adopted by the Black Prince,3 eldest son of Edward III., to 1 Philip IV. Louis X. Jane married Philip d'Evreux. Charles the Bad.
2 That is to say, a member of the Guild of Brewers, but not himself in the trade.
whose extraordinary daring and valour the victory at Cressy was greatly due (1346).
In order to secure a permanent key to France, Edward resolved to follow up his victory by taking possession of Calais, which was defended by John of Vienne. Never was there a more valiant resistance than that made by the brave burgesses of Calais. last, reduced to extremities by famine, they, after twelve months' blockade, consented to capitulate. Edward then ordered six of the principal citizens to be given up to him, and six were found who volunteered by their own death to save their fellow-townsThe first who offered himself was Eustache de Saint Pierre. The others followed, and with ropes round their necks, came bearing the keys of Calais to Edward, who ordered their immediate execution. But Philippa of Hainault, Edward's queen, who, after gaining a victory over the Scots at Neville's Cross, and taking prisoner David Bruce, had just arrived in the camp, pleaded earnestly for the heroic captives. Kneeling before the king, she said, "Gentle sir, since I passed the sea in much peril, I have desired nothing of you; therefore now I require of you, in honour of the Son of the Virgin Mary, and for the love of me, that you will have mercy on these six burgesses." The king beheld the queen, and stood still awhile in a study, and then said, “Ah, Philippa! I would you had been now in some other place; but I cannot deny you—I give these men to you to do your pleasure with them ;" and, after entertaining, she sent them back to their homes with presents. Such is the story as it has been handed down.
Philip vi. of France, dying in the year 1350, was succeeded by his son John. Charles the Bad, king of Navarre, though King John's son-in-law, urged Edward to resume hostilities against France. The Black Prince began the war by laying waste the provinces adjacent to Guienne, while Edward destroyed all before him in Normandy. King John, at the head of 50,000 men, came up with the Black Prince at Poictiers. The latter, with only 10,000 men, gained a victory which is noted as one of the most memorable on record (1356). The French king was taken prisoner and con
DEATH OF THE BLACK PRINCE.
veyed to London, receiving the most courteous treatment, and in London he died (1364). Two years afterwards, the French peasantry, attributing to the nobles the calamities which had befallen them, rose and committed the dreadful massacre known as the Jacquerie. The devastation and misery which had resulted from these wars are recorded by Petrarch, the Italian poet, who at this time visited Paris on an embassy. "When I viewed this kingdom," he writes, " which had been desolated by fire and sword, I could not persuade myself it was the same I had formerly beheld, fertile, rich, and flourishing. On every side it now appeared a dreadful desert; extreme poverty, lands untilled, fields laid waste, houses gone to ruin, except here and there one that was defended by some fortification, or which was enclosed within walls; everywhere were seen the traces of the English (and he might have added the Jacquerie), and of the dreadful havoc they had made. Touched by such mournful effects of the rage of man, I could not withhold my tears." Charles V., King John's son and successor, aided by the skill and valour of his famous general Duguesclin, repaired the fortunes of France; so that when Edward III. died in 1377, the industry of the country had recovered its life, and the English, after all their expenditure of blood and treasure, possessed only Calais, Bordeaux, and Bayonne.
The Black Prince died a year before his father, after a successful expedition into Spain, where he went as champion of Peter the Cruel, king of Castile, a tyrant, who, after poisoning his queen, and putting several members of his family to death, had been opposed by his natural brother Henry de Transtamare. The latter was supported by the French king, who, to rid his kingdom of the wild brigands that infested it, after the disbanding of the army, had them enrolled under the popular banner of Duguesclin, and sent to Spain. From the time of undertaking this campaign, the health of the Black Prince began to languish, and in 1376 he died, leaving a son (afterwards Richard II.) by his wife Joan of Kent.
In the reign of Edward III. cloth was brought from Flanders to England by John Kemp. The castle of Windsor was built, the
architect being the celebrated William of Wykeham, founder of a college at Oxford, and of a school at Winchester. The French language, which had been introduced by the Normans, ceased to be used in pleadings, laws, and public acts, in consequence of the advance of the Saxon tongue, and the amalgamation of the Norman and Saxon races. The Commons now for the first time sat in a separate house, and a law was passed declaring that spoken words should not be construed into high treason, unless attended by overt acts, thus giving to the subject freedom of speech, and to the representatives full liberty of debate, and serving as a protection to all against spies and informers. It was Edward III. who instituted the order of the garter, with its motto, Honi soit qui mal y pense. Wycliffe, the famous precursor of the Reformation, and Chaucer, the father of English poetry, adorned this reign.
Cotemporary Sovereigns and Events.-France: Charles Iv. Philip vI. John 11. Charles v. Scotland: Robert I. David II. Robert II. In 1337, there was a massacre of the Jews in Germany, in consequence of a plague of locusts attributed to them. In 1348, a pestilence swept over Europe, which carried away a third of the population. The Turks enter Europe (1352).
Questions.-1. What led to the long war with France? 2. State the leading events of this war, with their dates. 3. In what respects did the House of Parliament progress during this reign? 4. What distinguished men flourished?
2. Richard II.
A. D. 1377-1399.
CONDITION OF ENGLAND-INSURRECTION OF THE PEASANTRY UNDER WAT TYLER -GLOUCESTER'S TYRANNY AS GUARDIAN OF THE KING-RICHARD'S ARBITRARY CONDUCT-MISGOVERNMENT-REBELLION UNDER HENRY BOLINGBROKE, Duke OF LANCASTER, AND DEPOSITION OF RICHARD BY THE PARLIAMENT.
Edward the Black Prince.
Richard, son of the Black Prince, was eleven years old when he succeeded his grandfather Edward III. By the advice of the House of Commons, which had greatly
gained in importance, a Council of nine persons was appointed
INSURRECTION UNDER WAT TYLER.
The real direction of affairs
to manage the affairs of the nation. lay, however, in the hands of the young king's three uncles, the Dukes of Lancaster, York, and Gloucester.
In the short account of the state of society under the feudal system, which was given on p. 24, we pointed to the tyranny and turbulence of the feudal chiefs, to the injustice caused by their petty feuds, and to their oppression of the peasantry (serfs), as likely to lead to their own final subjection to a higher power. The monarchy, by the aid of the increasing influence of towns, and the growing importance of the middle classes, had been able gradually to establish itself as supreme over its vassals. The tendency was now towards despotism, and the abuse of the great prerogatives of the Crown had led to Magna Charta, as we have seen; and this again to the development of the old Saxon Witenagemote into a Parliament, representing pretty fairly the various interests of the country.
The lower classes, too, now began to be sensible of their own importance in the social fabric, and to desire to throw off the yoke of serfdom by which they were oppressed. No doubt, the preachings and denunciations of Wycliffe, the great church reformer, and his followers, had made all men more reflective, and led them to question the institutions under which they lived; but the great scarcity of labourers during the previous reign, which gave so great value and importance to the labouring man as to require the interference of government to protect proprietors against "strikes," and the fact that by a certain length of residence in a town a serf became free, had probably more to do with the short-lived rebellion of Richard's reign. was a sad thing that the peasantry were led by men who were as incapable of organizing any movement, as they were of restraining the unreasoning violence of the mob that soon gathered round them. The story as it has come down to us is soon told.
In 1381, there broke out an insurrection of the lower classes, under the leadership of Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, and John Ball, against the heavy oppressions imposed on them by their condition