Today’s installment concludes Collapse Of The Power Of Charles V,
our selection from The Court of France in the Sixteenth Century: 1514-1559 by Lady Catherine Charlotte Jackson published in 1886. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of four thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Collapse Of The Power Of Charles V.
But Maurice’s propositions being at first rejected, and no counter ones proposed, he at once set off for his army to renew hostilities, as though the negotiations were closed. Charles doubtless renounced the realization of the dream of his life with a pang of despair. That it should vanish at the very moment when he looked for its fulfilment was anguish to him. But pressed by Ferdinand, convinced, too, that resistance is useless, Charles yields an unwilling assent to the demands of the princes, and the “Treaty of Public Peace” is signed on August 2d. Henceforth “the two religions are to be on a footing of equality in the empire”; Germany divided between Luther and the Pope, who are to live side by side in peace, neither interrupting the other. The ban of the empire to be withdrawn from all persons and places; the captive princes, detained for five years in prison if not in fetters, released; while many other matters relating to imperial encroachments are to be satisfactorily settled within six months.
“The defender of German liberty” was not included in this treaty. As he proposed to keep the cities he was to occupy but as vicar of the empire, he would have to fight a battle for them with Charles himself. Though compelled to renounce absolute sway over Germany, he yet thought it incumbent on him to reestablish the territory of the empire in its full integrity. His valiant sister, the Dowager-queen of Hungary, who governed the Netherlands so ably for him, was diligently collecting an army for the destitute monarch of many kingdoms, and troops were on their way from Spain.
In spite of his infirmities, Charles was in such haste to chastise the French, and revenge himself on Henry — having succeeded in raising an army sixty thousand strong, besides seven thousand pioneers — that he rejected the prudent counsels of his generals, who begged him to wait until the spring, when Metz might be attacked with much greater advantage. But his excessive obstinacy, which had led to so many of his disasters, again prevailed. The Duc de Guise, now Governor of Metz, had put the citadel into a state of defense. The garrison was numerous, and, as was usual wherever he commanded, thither followed all the young, ardent spirits among the great families of France.
The siege of Metz was a terrible disaster for the Emperor. The extreme severity of the winter, a scant supply of clothing and other necessaries, were soon followed by sickness, typhus, and many deaths. Desertions were numerous; for the sufferings of the troops had quenched all war and subverted all discipline. Desperate efforts to take Metz were continued for nearly three months without avail, when Charles, thoroughly disheartened, and unable to rise from his couch except for removal to his litter, raised the siege — abandoning the greater part of his artillery, which was half buried in the mud. “Fortune,” he exclaimed, “I perceive is indeed a woman; she prefers a young king to an old emperor.” The spectacle that met the eyes of the victorious defenders of Metz, on issuing forth in pursuit of the enemy, is said to have been one of so harrowing a nature that even rough soldiers, accustomed to the horrors of war, looked on the misery around them with emotions of deepest pity. There lay the dying and the dead heaped up together; the wounded and those who had been stricken down by fever stretched side by side on the gory, muddy earth. Others had sunk into it, and, unable to extricate themselves, were frozen to their knees, and plaintively asked for death to put an end to their wretchedness. Scattered along the route of the retreat lay dead horses, tents, arms, portions of the baggage, and many sick soldiers who had fallen by the way in their efforts to keep up with the hasty march of the remnant of the army — a sad and terrible scene indeed in a career called one of glory.
François de Guise greatly distinguished himself as a general, and added to his military renown by his defense of Metz; but far greater glory attaches to his name for his humane and generous conduct to the suffering, abandoned troops of Charles’ army. All whose lives could be saved, or sufferings relieved, received every care and attention that he and the surgeons of his army could bestow on them. Following his example, instead of the savage brutality with which the victors were then accustomed to treat their fallen foes, kindness and good offices were rendered by all to the poor victims of the Emperor’s revenge for the loss of Metz. So utterly contrary was such treatment to the practice of the age that the generosity and humanity of François de Guise toward an enemy’s troops passed into a proverb as the “Courtoisie de Metz.”
This ends our series of passages on Collapse Of The Power Of Charles V by Lady Catherine Charlotte Jackson from his book The Court of France in the Sixteenth Century: 1514-1559 published in 1886. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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