He was doubtful whether he should seize upon his towns in Burgundy or not; which he judged not very difficult to do, since most of the brave men of that country had been slain in those three battles.
Continuing France Annexes Burgundy,
our selection from The Reign of Louis XI 1461-83 by Philippe De Comines published in 1524. The selection is presented in four easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in France Annexes Burgundy.
The King having established posts in all parts of his kingdom — which before never had been done — it was not long ere he received the news of the Duke of Burgundy’s defeat; and he was in hourly expectation of the report, for letters of advice had reached him before, importing that the German army was advancing toward the Duke of Burgundy’s, and that a battle was expected between them. Upon which many persons kept their ears open for the news, in order to carry it to the King. For his custom was to reward liberally any person who brought him the first tidings of any news of importance, and to remember the messenger besides. His majesty also took great delight in talking of it before it arrived, and would say, “I will give so much to any man who first brings me such and such news.” The Lord du Bouchage and I, being together, happened to receive the first news of the battle of Morat, and we went with it to the King, who gave each of us two hundred marks of silver. The Lord du Lude, who lay without the Plessis, had the first news of the arrival of the courier, with the letters concerning the battle of Nancy; he commanded the courier to deliver him the packet, and as he was a great favorite of the King’s he durst not refuse him. By break of day the next morning, the Lord du Lude knocked at the door next to the King’s chamber, and, it being opened, he delivered in the packet from the Lord of Craon and other officers. But none of the first letters gave any certainty of the Duke’s death; they only stated that he was seen to run away, and that it was supposed he had made his escape.
The King was at first so transported with joy at the news he scarce knew how to behave himself; however, his majesty was still in some perplexity. On one hand, he was afraid that if the Duke should be taken prisoner by the Germans, by means of his money, of which he had great store, he would make some composition with them. On the other, he was doubtful, if the Duke had made his escape, though defeated for the third time, whether he should seize upon his towns in Burgundy or not; which he judged not very difficult to do, since most of the brave men of that country had been slain in those three battles. As to this last point, he came to this resolution — which I believe few were acquainted with but myself — that if the Duke were alive and well, he would command the army which lay ready in Champagne and Barrois to march immediately into Burgundy, and seize upon the whole country while it was in that state of terror and consternation; and when he was in possession of it he would inform the Duke that the seizure he had made was only to preserve it for him, and secure it against the Germans, because it was held under the sovereignty of the crown of France, and therefore he was unwilling it should fall into their hands, and whatever he had taken should be faithfully restored; and truly I am of opinion his majesty would have done it, though many people who are ignorant of the motives that guided the King will not easily believe it. But this resolution was altered as soon as he was certain of the Duke of Burgundy’s death.
Upon the King’s receiving the above-mentioned first letter — which gave no account of the Duke’s death — he immediately sent to Tours, to summon all his captains and other great personages to attend him. Upon their arrival he communicated his letters to them. They all pretended great joy; but to such as more narrowly observed their behavior, it was easy to be discerned that most of them did but feign it; and, notwithstanding all their outward dissimulation, they had been better pleased if the Duke of Burgundy had been successful. The reason of this might be, because the King was greatly feared, and now, if he should find himself clear and secure from his enemies, they were afraid they would be reduced, or at least their offices and pensions retrenched; for there were several present who had been engaged against him with his brother the Duke of Guienne in the confederacy called the “Public Good.” After his majesty had discourse with them for some time, he went to mass, and then ordered dinner to be laid in his chamber, and made them all dine with him; there being with him his chancellor and some other lords of his council. The King’s discourse at dinner-time was about this affair, and I well remember that myself and others took particular notice how those who were present dined; but to speak truth — whether for joy or sorrow I cannot tell — there was not one of them that half filled his belly; and certainly it could not have been from modesty or bashfulness before the King, for there was not one among them but had dined with his majesty many times before.
As soon as the King rose from table he retired, and distributed to some persons certain lands belonging to the Duke of Burgundy, as though he had been dead. He dispatched the Bastard of Bourbon, Admiral of France, and myself into those parts, with full power to receive the homage of all such as were willing to submit and become his subjects. He ordered us to set out immediately, and gave us commission to open all his letters and packets which we might meet by the way, that thereby we might ascertain whether the Duke was dead or alive. We departed with all speed, though it was the coldest weather I ever felt in my life. We had not ridden above half a day’s journey when we met a courier, and commanding him to deliver his letters we learned by them that the Duke of Burgundy was slain, and that his body had been found among the dead, and recognized by an Italian page that attended him and by one Monsieur Louppe, a Portuguese, who was his physician, and who assured the Lord of Craon that it was the Duke his master, and the Lord of Craon notified the same at once to the King.
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