Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

59

*

sir William Bardolf was appointed admiral; but without prejudice to the duke of Exeter, the king's uncle, who was admiral of England, Ireland, and Aquitaine for life. Abuses were committed and outrages which no man would have hazarded while he was living. Among the acts of piracy in which great men ventured to engage, one was brought home to Marcellus, the abbot of St. Augustine, in Canterbury. By his name it A.D. may be presumed that he was a foreigner. It was proved 1425. before the lords of the council, that he had been concerned in taking and plundering, upon the high seas, a ship laden with wine, belonging to John Lorsame of Abbotswell, and to certain persons of Boulogne and Bruges; and he was condemned by the council in seven nobles for every tun of the wine (thirty-nine in all), which, by his own confession, came into his hands; in six shillings each for thirty-seven which had been destroyed by his fault; and in sixty nobles for the other damages and expense of the injured parties and of their proctors. + It is not stated whether he incurred any farther punishment.

THE ABBOT OF CANTERBURY.

The English interests in France were greatly shaken by the advantages which the French obtained under Joan of Arc; but the reputation of the English arms suffered little, because those advantages were ascribed to miracles on one part, and to witchcraft on the other; and, by the capture of that extraordinary enthusiast, they re-established the opinion of their strength, and confirmed that opinion at the cost of a national crime, by her barbarous execution. But their affairs were more seriously injured by the profligate connection of duke Humphrey with Jaqueline of Hainault, the most flagitious woman of her age; and by the light marriage of a far abler man, his brother, the great duke of Bedford, regent of France, to a daughter of the Comte de St. Pol, in the seventeenth year of her age. His former wife was sister to the duke of Burgundy by the second he united himself

* Rymer, x. 68.

+ Brees' Cursory Sketch, 235.

to a house between which and the house of Burgundy there was an old ill-will; and Charles VII. did not fail to avail himself of the opportunity thus afforded him, for detaching from England the most efficient of A.D. her allies. He succeeded completely in this object; and 1435. before the terms by which the change of policy was purchased were made known, the duke sent ambassadors to England, notifying the new alliance which he had made, renouncing the old one, and advising the young king and his council to conclude a peace with France. It is said, that when the young Henry heard these letters read, he apprehended the losses that were likely to ensue, and that his eyes were filled with tears. The intelligence seems to have taken the king's council, as well as the people, by surprise. The former are said, on this occasion, to have manifested the discord that prevailed among them, reviling each other not less than the Burgundians; and numbers of those who, in turbulent times, arrogate to themselves the name of the people, gathered together and attacked Flemings, Dutchmen, Brabanters, Picards, Hainaulters, and other foreigners, indiscriminately, as subjects of Burgundy, and murdered many of them before order could be restored. The ringleaders in this mischief were seized and brought to justice. *

The indignation of the English government was increased, when it was known that among the cessions made to Burgundy were many places which had sworn fidelity to England. To remonstrate against this disloyal conduct was in vain: the duke's "ears and senses being strongly mured" against all representations of this kind; "for king Charles had set about them, as it were, a barricado of royalties, privileges, honours, money, cities, towns, and whole provinces."+ Honour, indeed, has had little influence upon ambitious rulers at any time; and the obligations of religion were even more easily removed, two cardinals having absolved him, and the great lords of his party, from the oaths they had taken to the English. Both parties prepared † Speed, 657.

* Monstrelet, vii. 292.

61

for war; and the duke resolved to begin by besieging Calais, which he now claimed as part of the county of Artois, and his by inheritance. The consent of the free states of which his dominions were composed was necessary. Among the arguments which were used to the people of Ghent, one was, that the possession of Calais by the English was very injurious to all Flanders, for the Flemings who went thither to purchase wool, tin, lead, or cheese, were forced to pay in money, according to what rate of alloy the English pleased to put on it, or else in ingots of gold or silver; and this, it was urged, was not done in other countries. The fact proved rather a want of probity on the one part, than any abuse of power on the other. The debasement of the coin was the act of the Flemish government; and the direct consequences of such a measure were felt by the people in their dealings with a nation whose currency was of a different standard. On the part of England, indeed, this was a measure, not of exaction, but of self-defence, enjoined by the statutes of the realm, because of "the great deceit " in the gold and silver money of Flanders and Scotland: such deceit, when that money was current in divers parts of the realm, having been "to the great damage of the king and of his people." And, as if to preclude all pretext for complaint from the Flemings, the act had been made general, prohibiting the circulation of any foreign coin whatsoever in England, and requiring that whatever was received in payment at Calais should there be "put to bullion."* The loss, however, was represented to them as a grievance which they endured from the English; and the Ghentese consented, by acclamation, to support the war, and the whole of Flanders entered into it with equal eagerness.† "What

COMPLAINTS OF THE FLEMINGS.

* 2 Hen. 4. c. vi.

"The duke declared to them," says Hall, "the right, title, and interest that he had to the town of Calais, and the county of Guisnes, as a very patrimony belonging to his inheritance: shewing, farther, that the said town was the gulph and swallower up of all the gold and silver of his countries and dominions; forasmuch as there was the staple of wool, tin, lead, and other merchandize, for the which the Englishmen would take no

was Calais?" they said: " they could make a meal of it at any time!"* Holland also entered into the duke's views, and agreed to assist him with ships for the intended siege. The same ready concurrence was not found in Zeeland: there the people of Zierekzee, who had in those days a good port, listened to the overtures of England, and chose to continue their profitable trade with that country; and when the bailey of Middleburgh embargoed an English ship, which was bound for the fair at Antwerp, and imprisoned the crew, the inhabitants, regarding this as a breach of their privileges, forced open the prison, released the prisoners, and restored the ship and cargo.†

There were none who entered into the enterprise with more alacrity than the men of Ghent. All the burghers of that city, of whatsoever rank, were required to appear within three days before the sheriffs, and enrol themselves, on pain of forfeiting their franchises, and to provide themselves with all necessary habiliments for war. No armour or weapons of any kind were to be taken out of the country, and the punishment for breaking this order was to be ten years' exile. Those who had been ordered to perform certain pilgrimages in expiation for their sins, were now excused from performing them so long as the war should last, and for fourteen days after; and all who had quarrels were placed, for the same term, under the protection of the law. The number of men for which Ghent had engaged was 17,000: every town and village of its de

common current money, but only gold and silver, to the great impoverishment of his seigniories and regions: saying, farther, that Calais only was the common stop between his countries and Bretagne and Spain, so that southward nor westward his subjects could not pass, without the danger of that town: wherefore, these detriments considered, he determined (if they would assent) shortly to recover and conquer that town, and the county of Guisnes. To this purpose all the council and common people not only agreed, but also promised aid, both of men and money. Lord! how the Flemings bragged, and the Hollanders cracked, that Calais should be won, and all the Englishmen slain; swearing and staring that they would have it within three days at the most, thinking verily that the town of Calais could no more resist their puissance than a pot of double beer, when they fall to quaffing." (P. 181.)—"But they reckoned before their host, and so paid more than their shot came to."-Ib. 182.

Sueyro, ii. 279.

† Ib. 277, 278.

[ocr errors]

PREPARATION IN FLANDERS.

63

pendence knew its quota, and every family the sum at which it was taxed. The carriages which were required came in too slowly for the impatience of those by whom the preparations were directed. A proclamation, therefore, was issued, that if they were not forthcoming within three days, the deacon of the Black Hoods and his attendants should be sent round to seize on all the best without exception: upon which the farmers and peasants, in fear lest the Black Hoods should visit them, immediately sent their carts to the appointed place. Every man was to provide himself with a lance and a short mallet, either of lead or iron, spiked on the head. Two mallets would be reckoned as equal to one lance; but those who should present themselves without such arms were warned that they would not pass muster, and that they would be punished. The people of Bruges were, on this occasion, heartily in unison with those of Ghent, and that city began already to feel the license of war. Most of its people who had been ordered on this service had forthwith forsaken their trade, and spent their time and money in drinking houses, where drunkenness led to quarrels, and quarrels to blows, bloodshed, and frequent deaths. *

The Flemings had persuaded themselves that, at their approach, the English would, for very fear, abandon Calais and fly to England; and, therefore, they were particularly desirous that a fleet should be ready before they arrived before the town, hoping thus to cut off the garrison from all means of escape. "They needed not," says Monstrelett, "have been so uneasy on this head, for the English were well inclined to defend themselves; and, in truth, king Henry and all England would as soon have lost their thirty years' conquests in France as the single town of Calais." When the emperor Sigismund was in this country, he advised Henry V. to keep the towns of Dover and Calais as he would his two eyes, because they gave him the com* Monstrelet, vii. 344-347.

+ P. 358.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »