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of Bretagne, which, being submitted to the estates, was rejected by them as inconsistent with the honour of France. Henry, glad of so favourable a pretext for renewing the claims of the English kings to the throne of France, landed with a considerable army on the coast of Normandy, and reduced the strong fortress of Harfleur; but an epidemic breaking out in the English ranks, the army was so diminished that when D'Albret, the marshal of France, appeared with a force of 100,000 men, the English numbered only 12,000. The king of England, however, refused to halt in the presence of this superior force, and emulating the prowess of his great ancestor Edward III., continued his march on Calais: when he had proceeded as far as the village of Agincourt, he came in sight of the French lines drawn up on the rising ground to oppose his progress. Stopping for the night to reconnoitre the enemy's position he bivouacked at Maisoncelles, and in the morning of the 25th of October, 1415, led on his little army to the charge. The conflict which ensued was one of the most desperate recorded in history. The English were only one-tenth the number of the enemy, but they were spurred to frenzy by the alternative of victory or death, while all the chivalry and youth of France were on the other side. The duke of Alençon, the bravest of the French generals, cleared his way through the English ranks to the royal standard, and having slain the duke of York, cleft the coronet on the king's head; but that instant he fell, and the showers of arrows which came from the English archers threw the enemy into confusion: as the shout of victory rose, the archers threw down their bows, and seizing their battle-axes rushed forward with the men-at-arms to the charge. The French lines were broken the dukes of Brabant, Bar, and Alençon, and the constable and admiral of France, were slain, with 80,000 knights, bannerets and esquires, while the dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, and the counts of Vendôme, Eu, and Richemont, were made prisoners. The loss of the French was further increased by an unfortunate accident which occurred during the battle: a band of peasants having entered the village of Maisoncelles, which was in the rear of the English, began to plunder the baggage and set fire to the houses; Henry, fearing that the enemy had gained his rear, gave orders for the prisoners to be slain, as they were twice as many as the English who held them, and might attempt an ambuscade if the enemy should approach; but as soon as the true cause of the disturbance was known, the English king gave command to stay the slaughter, and those of the French who remained were mercifully treated. This battle, on account of the number of the nobility who were slain or made prisoners, proved very disastrous to the interests of France; and had Henry been able to follow up his conquests he


might have reduced the whole kingdom, but being obliged to
return to England for supplies, the fruits of his victory were in a
measure lost, and he was compelled again to renew the campaign.
The parliament, elated by the glories of the English arms, voted
a supply to the king for life to be raised on wool and hides, a
precedent copied from the worst times of Richard II.; but Henry's
extraordinary expenses and untiring ambition rendered this in-
fringement of the constitution comparatively harmless, and like
his predecessor Edward III., he found it easier to court the
friendship of the commons than to incur their opposition.
more readily to procure supplies, Henry submitted all his ac-
counts to parliament, a circumstance which contributed in no
slight degree to establish a regular correspondence between re-
dress and supply, which for several centuries proved the balance-
spring of the constitution.


The next year (1416) Henry V. again renewed the war, and took nearly all the towns and fortresses of Normandy; but the difficulty of maintaining a large force in a hostile country, and the number of his enemies, who, although quarrelling amongst themselves, were yet all leagued against the English, prolonged the campaign for several years. However, in 1420 an accommodation was agreed to, termed the Perpetual Peace, or, as it is better known in England, the treaty of Troyes, by which Henry accepted the hand of the princess Catherine, daughter of Charles VI., with the regency of France during the king's lifetime and the crown on his death. This termination of the war was highly gratifying to Henry's ambition and flattered the national pride; still the more keen sighted saw in it the commencement of inextricable evils, and indeed had the treaty of Troyes ever come into operation, it may well be doubted whether England would not have become an appanage of the French crown; for although the latter had been conquered by the blood and treasure of the former, yet it was not to be compared with it in superficial extent, while other political reasons pointed to Paris as the capital of the united empire. The union of two such countries as England and France must have produced the very results it was most desirable to avoid, for had the prince been the ruler of two independent kingdoms with their separate parliaments and administrations, the ascendancy of the crown could no longer have been resisted: it would have been in vain for the parliament of one part of the empire to refuse supplies, or to resist oppressive impositions, while its submission might have been compelled by the force the king could bring from the other; it was only while the country continued one and indivisible that the guarantees of liberty were secure: instead of opposing his will, each province would rather have sought to court


the king's favour by its ready submission and unswerving loyalty, so that the liberties of both England and France would have been lost in the overwhelming power of the crown. To prevent this result, the commons procured the confirmation of the statutes of Edward III. declaring the independence of the English crown, and further secured the national existence by requiring that all petitions of parliament should be decided within the realm, and not sent to the king beyond the seas for the royal assent. Could these statutes have been inviolably preserved, undoubtedly they Iwould have secured the free action of the constitution; but in times when the royal prerogative is most powerful, the barriers which have been raised against it are the least effectual. Fortunately, however, there was no occasion for the experiment: before two years had passed, a new cause of dispute had arisen: the dauphin having become of age refused to observe the treaty, and Henry again crossed the seas to recover the towns he had taken. Having spent some weeks in feasting at Paris, the king was on his march to raise the siege of Cosne, when he was seized with an acute disease; and finding his end approaching, commended his queen and infant son to the protection of his brother the duke of Bedford. Henry V. died in the 34th year of his age and the tenth of his reign, equally loved by his subjects and feared by his enemies. As a general and a statesman he has never been surpassed; under his vigorous administration the country enjoyed internal peace, while the success of his foreign campaigns surpassed in brilliancy even the dazzling victories of Edward III.; but what is more to his praise than all that history can record, is the absence on the rolls of parliament of any vestiges of disaffection, "a circumstance," says Mr. Hallam, " very honourable, whether we ascribe it to the justice of his administration or the affection of his people."


Costume of Henry V. and Henry VI.-1420-1439.






Minority of Henry VI.-Renewal of the war in France--Joan of Arc-Loss of the English conquests -Beneficial effects of the Plantagenet warsImbecility of the young king-Winchester--Supposed murder of Gloucester -Impeachment of Suffolk - Maladministration - Rebellion under John Cade--The country divided into the factions of Yorkists and Lancastrians -Civil wars-The duke of York lays claim to the crown-Deliberative authority of the upper house-York acknowledged successor-Battle of Wakefield-Defeat of the Lancastrians-The earl of March proclaimed by the title of Edward IV.-Restoration of Henry VI.-Battle of Barnet, and expulsion of the house of Lancaster-Prejudice of the chroniclers against the house of York-Successful war with France-First example of loans and benevolences-Edward endeavours to reform the revenue- - Supported by the commons Complete statutes-Triple division of the legislatureEdward V. His minority-Jealousy against the Woodvilles - Richard usurps the authority of government, and is made protector-Execution of Hastings-Buckingham offers the crown to Richard-Murder of the princes in the Tower-Richard III.-Revolt of Buckingham-Project for placing the crown on the head of Henry Tudor-Forced loans declared illegalHenry lands at Milford Haven-Battle of Bosworth.

HENRY VI. A. D. 1422-1461.

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THE design of uniting into one empire the dominions of England and France seemed on the verge of completion, and the whole nation was filled with joy and exultation, when the sudden decease of Henry V. threw a cloud over those visions of conquest which for more than a century had dazzled the ambition of the Plantagenet princes. Henry's son and successor was but a child of nine months old, when he was proclaimed at London and Paris simultaneously, by the title of Henry VI.; and although the young king's uncles, the dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, energetically conducted the affairs of the state, yet their exertions were ineffectual to restrain the general disorder invariably consequent upon a minority in those days: the mass of the people were discontented at the largeness of the contributions they were called upon to pay for the French war, while the nobles disturbed the

peace of the kingdom by their continual dissensions and animosities.

In France the war was carried on with varying success; the dauphin, who now inherited the claims of the male line, was a prince of superior ability, and used every effort to rouse the spirit of his countrymen. The dukes of Burgundy and Brittany, and a great part of the people, adhered to the English interest, but many preferred to submit to the legitimate heir of their ancient line, and the contest was carried on with much severity: for a long time the duke of Bedford was almost invariably successful, and had so far advanced his conquests as to lay siege to Orleans, the stronghold of the enemy's cause. Every means which his ingenuity could devise for the relief of this important place, the dauphin had essayed in vain. At this critical moment, the daughter of a poor innkeeper, named Jacques d'Arc, dreamed she heard the saints Margaret and Catharine_inviting her to restore the throne of France and expel the invaders. When she awoke, the vision made such an impression upon her mind that she believed herself inspired, and demanded to be led to the king, who was then at Chinon: the king's councillors present, not knowing what to advise in the desperate condition of affairs, and perhaps rightly judging the effect of enthusiasm on the public mind, counselled the king to accept her proffered service, and she was accordingly entrusted with the important duty of throwing provisions into the town of Orleans, then closely besieged by the earl of Salisbury, one of the best generals of the day. The town being too extensive to admit of circumvallation, Joan of Arc, or, as she was now called, the Maid of Orleans, succeeded in evading the vigilance of the guard, and relieved the garrison. The tide of fortune from this moment turned; the spirit resulting from success was on a sudden transferred from the victors to the vanquished, and the French believed themselves invincible under the guidance of their prophetess. The siege of Orleans was raised, and the dauphin, advancing to Rheims, was crowned king of France by the title of Charles VII. The English affairs grew more desperate every day; and although Joan of Arc was taken at the siege of Compiegne, and delivered over to an ecclesiastical tribunal, which barbarously condemned her to be burned alive, the partisans of Charles continued to gain ground, and after a few years there was nothing left to the English of all their conquests but the town of Calais. Thus ended the struggle which had been maintained above a century by the Plantagenet princes for the throne of France; and although the loss of all that had been acquired by the hardwon victories of Crecy and Agincourt must read like a disaster,

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