Albert: King of the Belgians by Evelyn Graham. An authorized biography, first published in In August , the German Empire invaded Belgium. Because of their heroic defense, Belgium and King Albert I enjoyed enormous international prestige. Outrageous Fortune by Roger Keyes. Belgium: A History by Bernard A. This history of Belgium and the Netherlands is the first major study in English to treat them as nations in their own right, while placing them in a wider European and world context. The history of the Benelux area Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg from Roman frontier provinces to the year Historical Dictionary of Belgium by Robert Staellaerts.
Highlights significant people, describes political and social institutions, and touches on Belgian culture. A House Divided by Carl Strikwerda. Belgian politics before World War I. All for Love by Dan Jacobson. Ahead of them lay assignations, a duel, imprisonment, bankruptcy, madness. Fiction All for Love by Dan Jacobson. In they actually withdrew their residence from Rome to Avignon in southern France, there to remain till Philip IV was survived by three sons. None of them, however, in his turn left sons to succeed him. When, after a colorless reign of two years, Louis X died leaving only a daughter, his next brother came promptly forward with the claim that women could not inherit the crown of France.
A weak, female rule was not popular with responsible men; it opened the possibilities of all kinds of confusion. The crown lawyers and the States General therefore confirmed, or rather invented, the socalled "Salic Law" alleged to be derived from the Salian Franks that no woman could be a reigning queen over France. Philip V accordingly reigned in his brother's stead, but after another short, uneventful government he also died without a son, and in his place came the third brother, Charles IV No better fortune attended him.
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Like the rest he died in his prime without male heirs. In any case Charles was the last ruler of the direct Capetian line. With this change in the dynasty evil days were to come to France. Philip VI "of Valois" was not an entirely incapable prince, but he was inconsistent, reckless, and anything but an ideal ruler for guiding the nation in a time of dangerous attack from abroad. He was not tactful in dealing with his great nobles, and, in particular, he soon quarreled with Robert of Artois, a prince of the blood, who presently fled to the court of Edward III of England and stirred up mischief.
The King also became embroiled in Flemish affairs. The freedom-loving Flemish cities had resisted their local prince, and Philip took sides with his vassal, the Count of Flanders, against them. The wealthy and powerful burghers, "the most industrious, the richest and the freest people in Europe," promptly began negotiating with Edward III, who was impelled to help them because Flanders was the great market for the English raw-wool exports.
Edward was the less disinclined to dip in French affairs because he had colorable claim to the crown of Philip himself. The English King was a thoroughly capable monarch, a skillful captain, and he possessed as Europe was soon to know a military weapon in his "long-bow archers" that was to make him a great power in Europe.
Fighting began in a desultory way in , at first in an attempt of the English to detach Flanders from French control. Nothing decisive eventuated. Then in the strife deepened, when two claimants struggled for the ducal crown of Brittany. Philip upheld the claims of one faction; the other naturally turned to Edward, who, to give color to his intervention in France, made more or less bold pretensions to the French crown itself. However, the Breton war, although not decisive, in the main favored the French party. It was not until that Edward found his hands sufficiently free to cross the Channel in considerable force.
Up to this point, the contest had considerably favored Philip. The English had failed to master either Flanders or Brittany. But now Edward trusted no longer to local risings to help him, but to the strength of his good right arm. He quickly captured Caen, swept across Normandy almost to the gates of Paris, then turned north — burning and pillaging the open country but seldom stopping to besiege the cities. If Philip had trusted to Fabian tactics the English must have presently retreated from the devastated land with little really accomplished.
But it was intolerable for a king of France to see his country devastated like the fields of a petty baron. He called out the entire levy of the realm. The French nobles responded with alacrity. A great force of Italian cross-bowmen were hired to offset the English archers. Then all the world was to learn that a new factor had come in warfare. Hitherto upon any kind of a fair field, the feudal knights on their great war-horses and clothed in ponderous armor, had been able almost always to ride down even the best and bravest footmen.
Edward, however, used his English archers with consummate skill. These long-bowmen with their great yew bows and "cloth-yard" arrows could shoot many scores of paces with remarkable speed and accuracy, and with force enough to penetrate all but the very best armor. The long-bow was in fact more powerful than the later musket, until generations after the coming of gunpowder.
All day long, with mad and disastrously brave valor, the French knights strove to charge home through the deadly volleys of the bowmen. In the evening the remnants of the assailants drifted in rout from the field. Never had Frenchmen met so terrible a defeat. The King of Bohemia Philip's ally lay slain, and with him eleven princes, eighty knight-bannerets, twelve hundred knights, and, it is alleged, thirty thousand of the rank and file.
France was stunned for the moment by the loss.
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Edward made hard-headed use of his victory. He laid siege to Calais, the chief door into France from across the English Channel, and starved the town out despite a very brave defense and vain efforts of Philip to send in succor. Henceforth the English had a most convenient sally-port from which to invade France, whenever they listed. Calais was to remain in English hands until Philip of Valois died in He had been saved from further defeats and losses more by the advent of the Black Death, a terrible plague which swept over Europe in , destroying French and English impartially, and for the nonce suspending all wars along with almost all peaceful forms of life, than by any forbearance on the part of Edward.
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In his stead reigned his son John, a brave, impetuous, but entirely light-headed and extravagant prince, who soon emptied the treasury by his luxuries and his careless generosity to his courtiers, and then almost ruined the economic life of the land by his equally reckless debasement of the coinage in a vain attempt to make money out of nothing. Such a king was no leader to confront a second great English attack.
In Edward, the Prince of Wales, often called the "Black Prince" to distinguish him from his father, commenced another invasion. This time the English started in from Bordeaux and Guienne a fragment of which they had always retained out of the wreck of the old possessions of Henry of Anjou and worked northward, headed possibly for Calais. It was an exceedingly risky venture, even if the Black Prince were at least as able a general as his father.
His force barely exceeded eight thousand men, and he was in danger of being swallowed up in a hostile land. King John again called out all his liegemen and again the French chivalry loyally responded. With over fifty thousand men, he hemmed in the English upon a hill near Poitiers. The odds seemed so uneven that if the King had only held his lines in a tight blockade the invaders must have been starved into surrender.
But no such tame victory would content John and his adventurous counselors. The French horsemen with indescribable folly charged up a narrow lane whereof the hedges on either side were lined with English archers who shot down their foes at ease. When the attacking host reeled back in confusion, the Black Prince counter-attacked. In the end John, after showing much personal valor, was taken prisoner along with his youngest son, thirteen counts, an archbishop, seventy barons, and some thousands of lesser warriors.
France was not merely defeated but deprived of her head. The next few years were little better than anarchy. The King was prisoner in London. The nominal regent was the Crown Prince, the "Dauphin," Charles, as yet inexperienced, weak, and cowardly. Charles the Bad, King of the little country of Navarre, and a great French noble to boot, contested the government in an unscrupulous manner, and added to the terrors of foreign invasion all the miseries of civil war.
The Dauphin convened the States General, but no real help came from this gathering of the estates of the realm.
Moderns will sympathize with this bold move towards democracy; but in truth it was no time for rash political experiments. The radical party soon indulged in deeds of bloody violence. Marcel was presently murdered while trying to surrender Paris to Charles the Bad.
It was not a pleasant treaty for France. Edward did not, indeed, press home his very dubious claim for the French crown, but otherwise his demands were galling. John had to pay a ransom of three million gold crowns an enormous sum for that age and cede an absolute sovereignty not merely Calais, but practically the whole of old Aquitaine. The French monarchy thus lost fully half of the South Country, and the Black Prince set up a viceregal court for his father at Bordeaux.
The best that could be said was that at last there was peace, and a chance for rehabilitation. No real improvement could be expected under John, however, but that headlong, pleasure-loving King died in The Dauphin now took the crown as King Charles V His experience and record as crown prince had assuredly been unlucky, but he had learned by adversity.
There was nothing heroic about him, but also nothing rash. His physical weakness gave him the aspect of a recluse and student. He was destined to go into history as "Charles the Sage," one of the cleverest monarchs of the whole French line.
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The English menace was waning. After all, Edward III disposed of a realm as yet relatively poor and unable to send a succession of new armies year by year to the Continent — the only proceeding that could really endanger France. The Black Prince was presently induced to march from Bordeaux into Spain to reinstate a very evil king of Castile, Pedro the Cruel, whose subjects had justly banished him.
The Black Prince was victorious The English leader had exhausted the strength of his army, and had weakened the fealty of his new Aquitainian dominions by the heavy taxes he forced upon them. The Southern malcontents soon appealed to Paris, and Charles gave them a ready ear. In the war was renewed. Charles was fortunate in finding a very able captain — Bertrand du Guesclin, a valiant Breton knight, who never shunned battle when it promised advantage, but who understood clearly the folly of trying to ride down the English archers by serried lines of horsemen.
The Black Prince marched again through the land, but everywhere he met cities with barred gates and with no chance for open fighting. These guerrilla tactics presently wore down the small English armies. The leaders left in his place were no match for du Guesclin. Troubles at home prevented the coming of English reinforcements. The first great English attack on France was over. Charles the Sage died at the age of only forty-three.
His passing was a national calamity. His eldest son Charles VI was only twelve years old, and never developed any great clearness of intellect. In he became insane, although possessed of recurring lucid intervals which made it impossible actually to depose him and to appoint a regent. His nominal reign was one long misery for his people. First his covetous and incapable uncles quarreled over the possession of his person and of the reins of government: then their place was taken by factions of younger nobles, with the immoral and unprincipled queen-consort Isabella of Bavaria as the guiding spirit in many of their intrigues.
Presently the contending parties passed from plottings to assassination. In the powerful Duke of Orleans was stabbed at the direct instigation of the Duke of Burgundy, his rival. This made the quarrel unhealable. The "Burgundian" party, notwithstanding this crime, lost possession of the kings' person, which fell to the rival "Armagnac" faction of the nobility that soon became the stronger because the young Dauphin had joined them. John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, was able, however, to embroil almost all the kingdom in civil war, when suddenly a new terror descended — the English under Henry V Shakespeare's winsome "Prince Hal" renewed their invasions.
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It is difficult to withhold personal admiration for Henry V, but the fact cannot be disguised that he was reviving a worthless claim to the throne of France, and that his coming produced nothing but misery for that already distracted kingdom. He landed at Harfleur in Normandy , took that town, and then began a difficult march across the country to Calais. His army numbered barely fifteen thousand effective men. If the French Armagnac, princes who claimed to represent the royal government, had known how to handle their forces, they ought to have cut him off, as surely as John might have cut off the Black Prince at Poitiers.
But these turbulent leaders had learned nothing from the past sixty years. The mounted knight, with lance couched at full charge, was still their only idea of warfare. With fifty thousand men, under the nominal leadership of the Dauphin, the French attacked Henry at Agincourt near Calais. It was the story of the old battles over again. The wet, slippery ground made quick movements impossible. The closely packed formation of the men-at-arms merely improved the targets for the English archers, when the French strove recklessly to advance. The battle ended almost with a massacre when the longbows had finished their work, and the English charged out upon their demoralized enemies.
The Dauphin fled leaving ten thousand men slain on the field, and very many great noblemen captive with Henry. The whole royal power of France was shaken. Henry used his victory well. He let Armagnac and Burgundian rend one another in the interior, while in and he gathered in Caen and Rouen and other strongholds in Normandy.
In the Armagnacs retaliated for the murder of the Duke of. Orleans by assassinating, under circumstances of great treachery, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy. The Dauphin was mixed in the plot, and the deed threw Philip of Burgundy, John's son and heir, into the very arms of the English. Burgundy was already a great principality; many of its domains lay outside of France in "the Empire. Burgundy and Isabella negotiated in the name of the helpless Charles VI the shameful Treaty of Troyes whereby the Dauphin was to be disinherited, Henry was to marry Catherine the daughter of King Charles, and on the death of Charles was to become king both of France and of England.
The Dauphin was still holding out south of the Loire; nevertheless the grip of the English on all of North France seemed tightening. Paris was in their hands and a great block of the old Capetian lands to boot, when in Henry V died, followed in a few weeks by the crazed old Charles VI. The latter had had one of the most calamitous reigns in all French annals. This child's regents were in actual possession of practically all France north of the Loire, also of the country around Bordeaux.
He was recognized as "king" by the Duke of Burgundy and by the Parlement of Paris, the supreme legal body of France. He was "a young man of nineteen, of engaging manners, but weak in body, pale in countenance, and deficient in courage. The taint of the murder of John of Burgundy clung foully to him. Most of the French governors and nobles of the South Country adhered to Charles. The prejudice against an English king was violent. The Duke of Bedford's armies were small if very efficient, and it was clear enough that Henry was acknowledged as king in the North only because of constant acts of coercion.
Nevertheless the case of France seemed almost desperate. Charles's government was so weak that he was usually known as the "Dauphin" not the "King," or was sarcastically called "the King of Bourges," his residence city, the one place he held in fairly sure possession.
His captains and noblemen were constantly at odds. His treasury was empty and the taxes were nigh uncollectable. The South Country was regularly harried and terrorized by "free companies" of roving mercenary soldiers, who, when they were not fighting for the pay of some prince, were wandering hither and yon, eating up the land and plundering impartially on every side.
Alike in North France and the South commerce and orderly economic and cultural life appeared to be perishing. Under those circumstances, it seemed to Bedford as if one bold, fierce stroke would win the undisputed crown for his nephew Henry. The defense had been brave; but efforts at succor had failed, and provisions were running low.
Already for years there had been a keen sense of national humiliation passing through all thoughtful Frenchmen.
The English had been often tactless and brutal in their dealings with the conquered. The terrible miseries of the land, economic prostration, famine, pestilence, massacre, were all traceable to one cause — the invader. Yet the case seemed so hopeless, the Dauphin's government so inert, that, even while men ground their teeth and gripped their sword hilts, they said there was no help possible "save from God.
It is very hard to exclude the personal story when dealing with Jeanne Darc; but this is a sketch of French history, not a study of even its most important and interesting characters. In bald, matter-of-fact language, what happened was this Jeanne Darc was born a peasant girl in in the village of Domremy, on the borders of Champagne. The region was one of the few eastern districts still held by Charles. As she grew up as a pious village maid she began to have elaborate visions of a France redeemed from the yoke of the English, and the Virgin kept telling her, " Jeanne, go and deliver the King of France, and restore him to his kingdom.
There is no doubt she honestly believed that she had them. The force placed under her command she handled with considerable military skill, conducted it through the English lines into the city, and then directed a successful sortie. The French fought boldly, confident in being under the orders of a saint. The English archers broke in terror, being pitted so they swore against a diabolical "sorceress. Jeanne now successfully conducted Charles across a country partly held by the enemy to Reims. Here he was crowned King of France in the great cathedral, and was "Dauphin" no longer.
At the coronation ceremony Jeanne stood proudly by the altar holding the royal standard. Jeanne had now fulfilled her original mission. She is said to have stated "she would be glad to be sent back to her father and mother, that she might tend their sheep and oxen as she was accustomed. Her warfare was now less successful. At the court, jealous captains and selfish counselors began to intrigue against her. The support of the King grew cold.
Was it dignified for a King of France to owe his throne and power to a peasant maiden? Duke Philip deliberately sold his captive to the English who were greedy for vengeance. The disloyal and subservient Bishop of Beauvais undertook to serve them by acting as her judge and trying her in the Church courts on the charge of "witchcraft. Every art, coercion, and some of the milder forms of torture were used to trap Jeanne into a confession of guilt. At last although resisting her questioners with great adroitness she went through the forms of a recantation. It was easy then by a little trickery to allege that she had lapsed back to her former "damnable practices.
Her bearing at the stake, however, was heroic and devout, her executioners trembled, and brutal English archers were filled with terror.
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The guilt of her destruction was shared by many: by the venal Burgundians, by the infamous bishop, by the terrified and pitiless English, and last but not least by Charles VII himself, who callously let the woman who had probably rescued his crown be done to death, and yet never stirred, although he could readily have saved her by the threat of retaliation upon several great English noblemen he held as prisoners.
Even at the moment, not many took the charge of "sorcery" against Jeanne very seriously.