The King was overjoyed to see himself rid of all those whom he hated and who were his chief enemies.
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.
Upon receiving this news we rode directly to the suburbs of Abbeville, and were the first that announced the intelligence to the Duke’s adherents in those parts. We found the inhabitants of the town in treaty with the Lord of Torcy, for whom they had held a great affection for a long time. The soldiers and officers of the Duke of Burgundy negotiated with us, by means of a messenger whom he had sent to them beforehand; and in confidence of success they dismissed four hundred Flemings who were then quartered in the town. The citizens, laying hold of this opportunity, opened the gates immediately to the Lord of Torcy, to the great prejudice and disadvantage of the captains and officers of the garrison — for there were seven or eight of them to whom, by virtue of the King’s authority, we had promised money, and pensions for life; but they never enjoyed the benefit of that promise, because the town was not surrendered by them. Abbeville was one of the towns that Charles VII delivered up by the treaty of Arras in the year 1435, which towns were to return to the crown of France upon default of issue male; so that their admitting us so easily is not so much to be wondered at.
From thence we marched to Dourlans, and sent a summons to Arras, the chief town in Artois, and formerly part of the patrimony of the earls of Flanders, which for want of heirs male always descended to the daughters. The Lord of Ravestein and the Lord des Cordes, who were in the town of Arras, offered to enter into a treaty with us at Mount St. Eloy and to bring some of the chief citizens with them. It was concluded that I and some others should meet them in the King’s behalf; but the Admiral refused to go himself, because he presumed they would not consent to grant all our demands. I had not been long at the place of appointment when the two above-mentioned lords of Ravestein and Des Cordes arrived, attended by several persons of quality, and by certain commissioners on the part of the city, one of whom was their pensionary, named Monsieur John de la Vaquerie, whom they appointed to be their spokesman, and who since that time has been made first president of the Parliament of Paris.
We demanded in the King’s name to have the gates immediately opened and to be received into the town, for both the town and the whole country belonged to the King by right of confiscation; and if they refused to obey this summons, they would be in danger of being besieged, and compelled to submit by force, since their Duke was defeated, and his dominions utterly unprovided with means of defense, upon account of their irrecoverable losses in the three late battles. The lords returned answer by their speaker Monsieur John de la Vaquerie that the county of Artois belonged to the lady of Burgundy, daughter of Duke Charles, and descended to her in a right line from Margaret, Countess of Flanders, Artois, Burgundy, Nevers, and Rethel, who was married to Philip I, Duke of Burgundy, son of King John of France, and younger brother to King Charles V; wherefore they humbly entreated the King that he would observe and continue the truce that had existed between him and the late Duke of Burgundy, her father.
Our conference was but short, for we expected to receive this answer; but the chief design of my going thither was to have a private conference with some persons that were thereto try if I could bring them over to the King’s interest. I made overtures to some of them, who soon afterward did his majesty signal service. We found the whole country in a state of very great consternation, and not without cause; for in eight days’ time they would scarce have been able to raise eight men-at-arms, and for other soldiers there were not in the whole country above one thousand five hundred — reckoning horse and foot together — that had escaped from the battle in which the Duke of Burgundy was slain, and they were quartered about Namur and Hainault. Their former haughty language was much altered now, and they spoke with more submission and humility; not that I would upbraid them with excessive arrogance in times past, but, to speak impartially, in my time they thought themselves so powerful that they spoke neither of nor to the King with the same respect as they have done since; and if people were wise, they would always use such moderate language in their days of prosperity that in the time of adversity they would not need to change it.
I returned to the Admiral, to give him an account of our conference; and there I was informed that the King was coming toward us, and that upon receiving the news of the Duke’s death he immediately set out, having dispatched several letters in his own and his officers’ names to send after him what forces could presently be assembled, with which he hoped to reduce the provinces I have just mentioned to his obedience.
The King was overjoyed to see himself rid of all those whom he hated and who were his chief enemies; on some of them he had been personally revenged, as on the Constable of France, the Duke of Nemours, and several others. His brother, the Duke of Guienne, was dead, and his majesty came to the succession of the duchy. The whole house of Anjou was extinct — René, King of Sicily, John and Nicholas, Dukes of Calabria, and since them their cousin, the Count du Maine, afterward made count of Provence. The Count d’Armagnac had been killed at Lestore, and the King had got the estates and movables of all of them. But the house of Burgundy, being greater and more powerful than the rest, having maintained war with Charles VII, our master’s father, for two-and-thirty years together without any cessation, by the assistance of the English, and having their dominions bordering upon the King’s and their subjects always inclinable to invade his kingdom, the King had reason to be more than ordinarily pleased at the death of that Duke, and he triumphed more in his ruin than in that of all the rest of his enemies, as he thought that nobody, for the future, either of his own subjects or his neighbors, would be able to oppose him or disturb the tranquility of his reign. He was at peace with England, and made it his chief business to continue so; yet, though he was freed in this manner from all his apprehensions, God did not permit him to take such courses in the management of his affairs as were most proper to promote his own interests and designs.
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