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BOOK it prudent to retreat. The French troops were so much
encumbered with the booty which they had got at Dunkirk, or by ravaging the open country, that they moved slowly; and Egmont, who had left his heavy baggage and artillery behind him, marched with such rapidity, that he came up with them near Gravelines, and attacked them with the utmost impetuosity. De Termes, w bo had the choice of the ground, having posted his troops to advantage in the angle formed by the mouth of the river Aa and the sea, received him with great firmness. Victory remained for some time in suspense, the desperate valour of the French, who foresaw the unavoidable destruction that must follow upon a rout in an enemy's country, counterbalancing the superior number of the Flemings; when one of those accidents to which human prudence does not extend, decided the contest in favour of the latter. A squadron of English ships of war, which was cruising on the coast, being drawn by the noise of the firing towards the place of the engagement, entered the river Aa, and turned its great guns against the right wing of the French, with such elect, as immediately broke that body, and spread terror and confusion through the whole army. The Flemings, to whom assistance so unexpected and so seasonable gave fiesla spirit, redoubled their efforts, that they might not lose the advantage which førtune had presented them, or give the enemy time to recover from their consternation ; and the rout of the French soon became universal. Near two thousand were killed on the spot; a greater number fell by the hands of the peasants, who, in revenge for the cruelty with which their country had been plundered, pursued the fugitives, and massacred them without mercy; the rest were taken
risoners, together with De Termes their general, and
many officers of distinction? The duke This signal victory, for which the count of Egmont' opposed to was afterwards so ill requited by Philip, obliged the duke the victom of Guise to relinquish all other schemes, and to besten to. rous army
1 Thuan. lib. xx. 691,
wards the frontier of Picardy, that he might oppose the progress of the enemy in that province. This disaster,
155S. however, reflected new lustre on his reputation, and once more turned the eyes of his countrymen towards him, as the only general on whose arms victory always attended, and in whose conduct as well as good fortune they could confide in every danger. Henry reinforced the duke of Guise's army with so many troops, drawn from the adjacent garrisons, that it soon amounted to forty thousand men. That of the enemy, after the junction of Egmont with the duke of Savoy, was not inferior in number. They encamped at the distance of a few leagues from one another; and each monarch having joined his respective army, it was expected, after the vicissitudes of good and bad success during this and the former campaign, that a decisive battle would at last determine which of the rivals should take the ascendant for the future, and give law to Europe. But though both had it in their power, neither of them discovered any inclination to bring the determination of such an important point to depend upon the uncertain issue of a single battle. The fatal engagements at St Quintin and Gravelines were too recent to be so soon forgotten, and the prospect of encountering the same troops, commanded by the same generals who had twice triumphed over his arms, inspired Henry with a degree of caution which was not common to him. Philip, of a genius averse to bold operations in war, naturally leaned to cautious measures, and was not disposed to hazard any thing against a general so fortunate and successful as the duke of Guise. Both monarchs, as if by agreement, stood on the defensive, and, fortifying their camps carefully, avoided every skirmislı or rencounter that might bring on a general engagement.
While the armies continued in this inaction, peace be. Both mom gan to be mentioned in each camp, and both Henry and
gia to de Philip discovered an inclination to listen to any overture sire peace. that tended to re-establish it. The kingdoms of France and Spain had been engaged during half a century in alVOL. VI.
BOOK most continual wars, carried on at a great expense, and XII.
productive of no considerable advantage to either. Eshausted by extraordinary and unceasing efforts, which far exceeded those to which the nations of Europe had been accustomed before the rivalship between Charles l'. and Francis I. both nations longed so much for an interval of repose, in order to recruit their strength, that their sovereigns drew from them with difficulty the supplies necessary for carrying on hostilities. The private inclinations of both the kings concurred with those of their people. Philip was prompted to wish for peace by his fond desire of returning to Spain. Accustomed froin his infancy to the climate and manners of that country, he was attached to it with such extreme predilection, that he never felt himself at ease in any other part of his do minions. But as he could not quit the Low Countries, either with decency or safety, and venture on a voyage to Spain during the continuance of the war, the prospect of a pacification, which would put it in his power to execute his favourite scheme, was highly acceptable. Henry was no less desirous of being delivered from the burden and occupations of war, that he might have leisure to turn all his attention, and bend the whole force of his government, towards suppressing the opinions of the reformers, which were spreading with such rapidity in Paris and other great towns of France, that they began to grow
formidable to the established church. Anin. Besides these public and avowed considerations, arising trigue in from the state of the two hostile kingdoms, or from the the court of France wishes of their respective monarchs, there was a secret infacilicatus trigue carried on in the court of France, which contri
buted as much as either of the other, to hasten and to facilitate the negociation of a peace. The constable Moutmorency, during his captivity, beheld the rapid success and growing favour of the duke of Guise with the envy natural to a rival. Every advantage gained by the prigces of Lorrain he considered as a fresh wound to his own reputation, and he knew with what malevolent address it
would be improved to diminish his credit with the king, BOOK and to augment that of the duke of Guise. These arts, he was afraid, might, by degrees, work on the easy and ductile mind of Henry, so as to efface all remains of his ancient affection towards himself. But he could not discover any remedy for this, unless he were allowed to return home, that he might try whether by his presence he could defeat the artifices of his enemies, and revive those warın and tender sentiments which had long attached Henry to him, with a confidence so entire, as resembled rather the cordiality of private friendship, than the cold and selfish connection between a monarch and one of his courtiers. While Montmorency was forming schemes and wishes for his return to France, with much anxiety of mind, but with little hope of success, an unexpected incident prepared the way for it. The cardinal of Lorrain, who had shared with his brother in the king's favour and participated of the power which that conferred, did not bear prosperity with the same discretion as the duke of Guise. Intoxicated with their good fortune, he forgot how much they had been indebted for their present elevation to their connections with the duchess of Valentinois, and vainly ascribed all to the extraordinary merit of their family. This led him not only to neglect his benefactress, but to thwart her schemes, and to talk with a sarcastic liberty of her character and person. That singular woman, who, if we may believe contemporary writers, retained the beauty and charms of youth at the age of threescore, and on whom it is certain that Henry still doated with all the fondness of love, felt this injury with sensibility, and set herself with eagerness to inflict the ven geance which it merited. As there was no method of supplanting the princes of Lorrain so effectually as by a coalition of interests with the constable, she proposed the marriage of her grand-daughter with one of his sons, as the bond of their future union; and Montmorency readily gave his consent to the match. Having thus cemented their alliance, the duchess employed all hier influence with
ation to Montmo
BOOK the king, in order to confirm his inclinations towards
peace, and induce him to take the steps necessary for attaining it. She insinuated that any overture of that kind would come with great propriety from the constable, and if entrusted to the conduct of his prudence, could bardly
fail of success. Henry
Henry, long accustomed to commit all affairs of imcommits the negoci. portance to the management of the constable, and need.
ing only this encouragement to return to his ancient habits, rency
wrote to him immediately with his usual familiarity and affection, empowering him at the same time to take the first opportunity of sounding Philip and his ministers with regard to peace. Montmorency made his application to Philip by the most proper channel. He opened himself to the duke of Savoy, who, notwithstanding the high command to which he had been raised, and the military glory which he had acquired in the Spanish service, was weary of remaining in exile, and languished to return into his paternal dominions. As there was no prospect of his recovering possession of them by force of arms, he considered a definitive treaty of peace between France and Spain, as the only event by which he could hope to obtain restitution. Being no stranger to Philip's private wishes with regard to peace, he easily prevailed on him not only to discover a disposition on his part towards accommodation, but to permit Montmorency to return on his parole to France, that he might confirm his own sovereign in his pacific sentiments. Henry received the constable with the most flattering marks of regard; absence, instead of having abated or extinguished the monarch's friendship, seemed to have given it new ardour. Montmorency, from the moment of his appearance in court, assumed, if possible, a higher place than ever in his affection, and a more perfect ascendant over his mind. The cardinal of Lorrain and duke of Guise prudently gave way to a tide of favour too strong for them to oppose, and confining themselves to their proper departments, permitted, without any struggle, the constable and