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accompanied by his queen, who had come over to join him, after having given birth to a son at Windsor Castle on the 6th of the preceding December. But the end of Henry's triumphant career was now at hand. The Dauphin and the constable Buchan having again advanced from the south, and laid siege to the town of Cosne, Henry, though ill at the time, set out to relieve that place, but was unable to proceed farther than Corbeil, about twenty miles from Paris, when, resigning the command to his brother, the duke of Bedford, he was carried back in a litter to the Bois de Vincennes, in the vicinity of the capital, and there, after an illness of about a month, he breathed his last, on the 31st of August, in the 34th year of his age, and the 10th of his reign.
It is unnecessary in the present day to waste a word on either the injustice or the folly of the enterprise on which Henry thus threw away the whole of his reign. In estimating his character it is of more importance to remember that the folly and injustice, which are now so evident, were as little perceived at that day by his subjects in general as by himself, and that there can be no doubt whatever that both he and they thought he was, in the assertion of his fancied rights to the crown of France, pursuing both a most important and a most legitimate object. That motives of personal ambition mingled their influence in his views and proceedings must no doubt be admitted; but that is perfectly consistent with honesty of purpose, and a thorough belief in the rightness both of the object sought, and the means employed to secure it. In following the bright though misleading idea that had captivated him, he certainly displayed many endowments of the loftiest and most admirable kind-energy, both of body and mind, which no fatigue could quell; the most heroic gallantry; patience and endurance, watchfulness and activity, steadiness, determination, policy, and other moral constituents, as they may be called, of genius, as well as mere military skill and resources. Nor does any weighty imputation dim the lustre of these virtues. His slaughter of his prisoners at the battle of Azincourt, almost the only stigma that rests upon his memory, was an act of self-preservation, justified by what appeared to be the circumstances in which he was placed. No monarch evar occupied a throne who was more the idol of his subjects than Henry V.; nor is any trace to be found of popular dissatisfaction with any part of his government, from the beginning to the end of his reign.
Henry VI. was not quite nine months old when the death of his father left him king of England. In the settlement of the government which took place upon the accession of the infant king, the actual administration of affairs in England was entrusted to the younger of his two uncles, Humphrey, popularly called 'The Good,' duke of Gloucester, as substitute for the elder, John, duke of Bedford, who was appointed president of the council, but who remained in France, taking his late brother's place as regent of that kingdom. Gloucester's title was ' Protector of the Realm and Church of England.' The care of the person and education of the king was some time after committed to Richard de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and to the king's great uncle, bishop (afterwards cardinal) Henry Beaufort.
The history of the earlier and longer portion of this reign is the history of the gradual decay and final subversion of the English dominion in France. The death of Henry V. was followed in a few weeks (22nd October) by that of his father-inlaw, the imbecile Charles VI. Immediately on this event the Dauphin was acknowledged by his adherents as Charles VII. ; and Henry VI. was also proclaimed in Paris, and wherever the English power prevailed, as king of France. The next events of importance that occurred were the two great victories of Crevant and Verneuil obtained by the English over the French and their Scottish allies, the former on the 31st of July, 1423, the latter on the 17th of August, 1424. In the interim
king James of Scotland, after his detention of nearly twenty years, had been released by the English council, and had returned to his native country after marrying a near connexion of the royal family, the Lady Jane Beaufort, daughter of the duke of Somerset. One of the engagements made by James on his liberation was that he should not permit any more of his subjects to enter into the service of France : the Scots who were already there were for the most part destroyed a few months afterwards in the slaughter of Verneuil.
This however was the last great success obtained by the English in France. From this time their dominion began to loosen and shake, and then to crumble faster and faster away, until it fell wholly to ruin. The first thing which materially contributed to unsettle it was the disgust given to the duke of Burgundy by the marriage of the duke of Gloucester with Jacqueline of Hainault, and their subsequent invasion and seizure of her hereditary states, then held by her former husband John, duke of Brabant, who was the cousin of the duke of Burgundy. Although Burgundy, on being left to pursue his quarrel with Jacqueline, whom he soon succeeded in crushing, after she had been abandoned by Gloucester, did not go the length of openly breaking with the English on acocunt of this matter, his attachment was never afterwards to be much relied upon, and he merely waited for a favourable occasion to change sides. Meanwhile another of the most powerful of the English allies, the duke of Brittany, openly declared for Charles VII. Other embarrassments also arose about the same time out of the mutual jealousies and opposition of Gloucester and Bishop Beaufort, which at last blazed up into open and violent hostility. It required all the moderating prudence and steadiness of the duke of Bedford to break as much as possible the shock of these various adverse occurrences. For some years accordingly he had enough to do in merely maintaining his actual position. It was not till the close of 1428 that he proceeded to attempt the extension of the English authority beyond the Loire. With this view the siege of Orleans was commenced on the 12th of October in that year by the earl of Salisbury, and, on his death from a wound received a few weeks after, carried on by the earl of Suffolk. The extraordinary succession of events that followed --the appearance of Joan of Arc on the scene; her arrival in the besieged city (29th April, 1429); the raising of the siege (8th May); the defeat of the English at the battle of Patay (18th June); the coronation of king Charles at Rheims (15th July); the attack on Paris (12th September); the capture of Joan at Compiegne (25th May, 1430); her trial and execution at Rouen (30th May, 1431)-all belong to the singular story of the heroic maid.
The young King of England, now in his ninth year, had in the meantime been brought to Rouen (May, 1430), and was about a year and a half afterwards solemnly crowned at Paris (17th December, 1431). The death of the duchess of Bedford, the sister of the Duke of Burgundy, in November, 1432, and the marriage of Bedford in May of the following year with Jacquetta of Luxembourg, aided materially in still further detaching Burgundy from the English connection, till, his remaining scruples gradually giving way under his resentment, in September, 1435, he concluded a peace with king Charles. This important transaction was managed at a great congress of representatives from all the sovereign powers of Europe assembled at Arras, with the view of effecting a general peace under the mediation of the pope. On the 14th of September, a few days after the treaty between Charles and Burgundy had been signed, but before it was proclaimed, died the great duke of Bedford. This event gave the finishing blow to the dominion of the English in France. In April, 1436, the English garrison in Paris was compelled to capitulate. The struggle lingered on for about fifteen years more ; but although some partial successes, and especially the brilliant exertions of the famous Talbot (afterwards earl
of Shrewsbury), in Normandy and elsewhere, gave a check from time to time to the progressive dissolution of the English power, the prevailing current of events ran decidedly in the contrary direction. In 1444 a truce was agreed upon, to last till 1st April, 1446; and in this interval a marriage was arranged between king Henry and Margaret, the beautiful daughter of René, king of Sicily and Jerusalem, and duke of Anjou, Maine, and Bar. These lofty dignities however were all merely titular; with all his kingdoms and dukedoms, René was at this time nearly destitute both of land and revenue. Thus circumstanced, in return for the hand of his daughter, he demanded the restoration of his hereditary states of Maine and Anjou, which were in the possession of the English, and the proposal was at length assented to. Nor was this cession of territory the only thing that tended from the first to excite popular feeling in England against the marriage. Margaret was a near relation of the French king, and had been in great part brought up at the court of Charles. The connexion therefore seemed to be one thoroughly French in spirit, and it is no wonder that the earl of Suffolk, by whom it had been negotiated, bebecame from this time the object of much general odium and suspicion, the more especially when it was found that Margaret, who soon evinced both commanding talent and a most imperious temper, distinguished him by every mark of her favour, and made him almost exclusively her confidential adviser and assistant in winding to her purposes her feeble and pliant husband. The marriage was solemnized in the abbey of Tichfield, 22nd April, 1445, Suffolk having a few months before, on the conclusionof the negotiatijns, been created a marquess. The truce with France was now prolonged till the 1st of April, 1449. The first remarkable event that followed was the destruction of the duke of Gloucester, who, although he appears not to have openly opposed the marriage, was certainly the most formidable obstacle in the way of the complete ascendancy of Suffolk and the queen. Having been arrested on a charge of high treason, 11th February, 1447, he was on the seventeenth day thereafter found dead in his bed. In the popular feeling, which however may very possibly have been mistaken, ais death was generally attributed to the agency of Suffolk, who now, raised to the dignity of duke, became, ostensibly as well as really, prime, or rather sole minister.
Soon after hostilities were renewed in France, and a numerous force having been poured by king Charles into Normandy, through the adjacent country of Maine, no longer a hostile frontier, town after town was speedily reduced, till at last Rouen, the capital, surrendered, 4th November, 1449. Early in the next year another heavy reverse was sustained in the defeat of Sir Thomas Kyriel at Fourmigny; and at last the fall of Cherbourg, 12th August, 1450, completed the loss of the duchy. Before this catastrophe however the public indignation in England had swept away the unhappy minister on whose head all this accumulation of disasters and disgraces was laid ; the duke of Suffolk, after having been committed to the Tower, on the impeachment of the House of Commons, and banished from the kingdom by the judgment of his peers, was seized as he was sailing across from Dover to Calais, and being carried on board one of the king's ships, was there detained for a few days, and at last had his head struck off by an executioner who came alongside in a boat from the shore, May 2nd, 1450. The murder of Suffolk was immediately followed by a popular insurrection, unparalleled in its extent and violence since the rebellion of Wat Tyler, seventy years before. Before the close of the following year the French, in addition to Normandy, had recovered all Guienne; and with the exception of Calais, not a foot of ground remained to England of all her recent continental possessions. Bordeaux, which had been subject to the English government for three centuries and a half, revolted the following year; and the brave Talbot, now eighty
years of age, was sent to Guienne to take advantage of that movement; but both he and his son fell in battle, zoth July, 1453 ; and on the 10th of October following Bordeaux surrendered to Charles.
131.—THE SLAUGHTER OF THE PRISONERS AT AGINCOURT.
Rev. J. E. TYLER. The name of Henry of Monmouth is inseparable from the battle of Agincourt; and immeasurably better had it been for his fair fame had himself and his little army been crushed in that tremendous struggle, by the overwhelming chivalry of France, than that he should have stained that day of conquest and giory by an act of cruelty or vengeance. If any cause except palpable and inevitable necessity could be proved to have suggested the dreadful mandate for his soldiers to put their prisoners to the sword, his memory must be branded by a stigma which no personal courage, not a whole life devoted to deeds of arms, nor any unprecedented career of conquest, could obliterate. The charge of cruelty, however, like some other accusations, examined at length in these memoirs, is of comparatively recent origin; and as in those former instances, so in this, our duty is to ascertain the facts from the best evidence, and dispassionately to draw our inference from those facts after an upright scrutiny and patient weighing of the whole question in all its bearings. Our abhorrence of the crime may well make us hesitate before we pronource judgment against one to whose mercy and chivalrous honour his contemporaries bore willing and abundant testimony; the enormity of so dreadful an example compels us, in the name of humanity and of justice, not to screen the guilty. We may be wisely jealous of the bias and prejudice which his brilliant talents, and his life of patriotism and glory, may unconsciously communicate to our minds ; we must be also upon our guard lest an excessive resolution to do justice, foster imperceptibly a morbid acquiescence in the condemnation of the accused.
The facts, then, as they are gleaned from those authors who wrote nearest to the time (two of whom are French, the other English, were actually themselves present on the field of battle, and were eye-witnesses of some portion at least of the circumstances which they narrate,) seem to have been these, in their order and character.
At the close of one of the most desperate struggles ever recorded in the annals of antient or modern warfare, whilst the enemy were in the act of quitting the field, but had not left it, the English were employing what remained of their well nigh exhausted strength in guarding their prisoners, and separating the living from the dead, who lay upon each other, heaps upon heaps, in one confused and indiscriminate mass. On a sudden a shout was raised, and reached Henry, that a fresh reinforcement of the enemy in overwhelming numbers had attacked the baggage, and were advancing in battle array against him. He was himself just released from the furious conflict in which, at the close of his almost unparalleled personal exertion, he engaged with the Duke of Alençon, and slew him on the spot. Precisely, also, at this juncture, the main body of the French who had been engaged in the battle, and were apparently retreating, were seen to be collecting in great numbers, and forming themselves into bodies throughout the plain, with the purpose, as it appeared, of returning to the engagement.
To delay might have been the total sacrifice of himself and his gallant little band; to hesitate might have been death. Henry instantly, without a moment's interval, by sound of trumpet ordered his men to form themselves, and attack the body who were advancing upon his rear, and to put the prisoners to death, “ lest they should rush upon his men during the fight.” These mandates were obeyed
The French reinforcement, advancing from the quarter where the baggage was stationed, no sooner felt a shower of arrows, and saw a body of men ready to give them battle, than they turned to flight; and instantly Henry, on seeing them run, stopped the slaughter of the prisoners, and made it known to all that he had had recourse the measure only in self-defence. Henry, in order to prevent the recurrence of such a dreadful catastrophe, sent forthwith a herald to those companies of the enemy who were still lingering very suspiciously through the field, and charged them either to come to battle at once, or to withdraw from his sight; adding, that, should they array themselves afterwards to renew the battle, he would show no mercy, nor spare either fighting-men or prisoners.
Of the general accuracy of this statement of the facts little doubt can be entertained, though in the midst of the confusion of such a battle-field it would not be matter of surprise were some of the circumstances mistaken or exaggerated. In reflecting on this course of incidents, the thought forces itself upon our mind, that the mandate was given not in cool blood, nor when there was time and opportunity for deliberation and for calculating upon the means and chances of safety, but upon the instant, on a sudden unexpected renewal of the engagement from a quarter from which no danger was anticipated ; at a moment, too, when, just after the heat of the battle was passing over, the routed enemy were collecting again in great numbers in various parts of the field, with a view evidently of returning to the charge and crushing their conquerors ; at a moment, too, when the English were scattered about, separating the living from the dead, and all was yet confusion and uncertainty. Another fact, as clearly and distinctly recorded as the original issuing of the mandate, is, that no sooner was the danger of the immediate and inevitable sacrifice of the lives of his men removed by the retreat of the assailants, than, without waiting for the dispersion of those menacing bodies then congregating around him, Henry instantly countermanded the order, and saved the remainder of the prisoners. The bare facts of the case, from first to last, admit of no other alternative than for our judgment to pronounce it to have been altogether an imperative inevitable act of self-preservation, without the sacrifice of any life, or the suffering of any human being, beyond the absolute and indispensable necessity of the case.
But, perhaps, the most striking and conclusive testimony in vindication of Henry's character on that day of slaughter and victory, is borne both by the silence and also by the expressed sentiments of the contemporary historians. This evidence deserves to be put more prominently forward than it has ever yet been. Indeed, as long as there was no charge of cruelty, or unnecessary violence, brought against his name in this particular, there was little need of alleging any evidence in his defence. It remained for modern writers, after a lapse of centuries, to stigmatize the command as an act of barbarity, and to represent it as having tarnished and stained the victory of him who gave it. It is, however, a most remarkable and satisfactory circumstance that, of the contemporary historians, and those who followed most closely upon them, who have detailed the proceedings with more or less minuteness, and with a great variety though no inconsistency of circumstances, in whose views, moreover, all subsequent writers, with few exceptions, have unreservedly acquiesced, not one single individual is found to cast the slightest imputation on Henry for injustice or cruelty ; while some, in their account of the battle, have not made the most distant allusion to the circumstance. All the earlier writers who refer to it appear, with one consent, to have considered the order as the result of dire and unavoidable necessity on the part of the English king. Not only so: whilst no one who witnessed the engagement, or lived at the time, ever threw the shadow of reproach or of complaint on Henry or his army,