Imatges de pàgina
[ocr errors]



into tears of admiration." When he passed CHAP. through the streets of London, “ the prisoner was clad in royal apparel, and mounted on a white steed, distinguished by its size and beauty, and by the richness of its fure , niture. The conqueror rode by his side in a meaner attire, and carried by a black palfrey.” Edward III “ advanced to meet the royal stranger, and received him with the same courtesy as if he had been a neighbouring potentate that had voluntarily come to pay him a friendly visit.”

But, glorious as these moments were, and Malignant generous and elevated as were the feelings of the which stamped them, and which they are calculated to inspire, they were certainly bought at infinitely too high a price. This graceful situation, this beautiful and impressive exhibition, were not purchased but with the almost entire ruin of one of the finest countries in the world. Take the picture of this ruin in the words of the historian who has placed in so enchanting a point of view the triumphs of the Black Prince.

6 Mean

system he pursued.



CHAP. while, the captivity of John, joined to the

preceding disorders of the French government, had produced in that country a dissolution, almost total, of civil authority, and had occasioned confusions, the most horrible and destructive that had ever been experienced in any age or in


nation. Marcel, provost of the merchants, and first magistrate of Paris, put himself at the head of the unruly populace; and from the violence and temerity of his character, pushed them to commit the most criminal outrages against the royal authority. They detained the dauphin in a sort of captivity ; they murdered in his presence Robert de Clermont and John de Conflans, mareschals, the one of Normandy, the other of Burgundy. The other cities of the kingdom, in imitation of the capital, shook off the dauphin's authority; took the government into their own hands; and spread the disorder into every province. The troops, who, from the deficiency of pay, were no longer retained in discipline, sought the means of subsistence by plunder and rob

[ocr errors]



bery, and associating to them all the disor- CHAP.
derly people, with whom that age abounded,
formed numerous bands, which infested all
parts of the kingdom. They desolated the
open country ; burned and plundered the vil-
lages; and by cutting off all means of com-
munication or subsistence, reduced even the
inhabitants of the walled towns to the most
extreme necessity. The gentry were hunted
like wild beasts, and put to the sword with-
out mercy: Their castles were consumed
with fire, and levelled to the ground: Their
wives and daughters were first ravished, then
murdered: The savages proceeded so far as
to impale some gentlemen, and roast them
alive before a slow fire. In other civil wars,
the opposite factions, falling under the go-
vernment of their several leaders, commonly
preserve still the vestige of some rule and
order : But here the wild state of nature
seemed to be renewed : Every man was
thrown loose and independent of his fel-
lows : And the populousness of the country,
derived from the preceding police of civil
society, served only to increase the horror



Sons of Ed. ward III.

CHAP. and confusion of the scene." This was cer

tainly too much to pay for the most enchanting theatrical exhibition that was ever performed : and these were the effects of the detestable pretensions set up by Edward III. to the crown of France.

We have already said that Edward III. was fortunate in his sons.

It does not appear

that he had ever a serious misunderstanding with any of them.

of them. They beheld him surrounded with the lustre which the battle of Cressy, and his gallant and honourable demeanour on that and many other occasions, had thrown upon him, and thought it the greatest honour of their lives to be the sons of such a father. Edward the Black Prince, the eldest of them, has universallybeen considered as the most consummate hero the school of chivalry ever bred; and he passed a glorious life of forty-six years, untarnished with the breath of a censure. Lionel of Antwerp, the king's second son,

• Hume, ubi supra.


was frank, generous, polite, and eminently CHAP. popular : he was guileless, easy and sincere,

1358, with the understanding of a gentleman in the purest sense of that word, and the carriage which might best become a prince. John of Gaunt, Edward's third son, the patron and friend of Chaucer, was in a great degree the favourite and confident of his father. Ed. mund of Langley, the fourth son, was a weak prince, but of unblemished character ; and Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest, a youth of great promise and splendid abilities,

At the period at which we here take up the history of the English court, Edward III, had attained his forty-sixth year, and his queen was nearly of the same age. The Black Prince, who had already distinguished himself at the field of Cressy, won the battle of Poitiers, and taken the king of France prisoner, but who was yet a bachelor, was now twenty-eight. Lionel of Antwerp was twenty, years

of age, John of Gaunt eighteen, Edmund of Langley seventeen, and Thomas of Woodstock still an infant. Lionel had been contracted, as a compliment to the Irish na

« AnteriorContinua »