Charles the Bold - Last Duke Of Burgundy, 1433-1477
by Ruth Putnam
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The Knickerbocker Press


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The Knickerbocker Press, New York

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The admission of Charles, Duke of Burgundy into the series of Heroes of the Nations, is justified by his relation to events rather than by his national or his heroic qualities. "Il n'avait pas assez de sens ni de malice pour conduire ses entreprises," is one phrase of Philip de Commines in regard to the master he had once served. Render sens by genius and malice by diplomacy and the words are not far wrong. Yet in spite of the failure to obtain either a kingly or an imperial crown, the story of those same unaccomplished enterprises contains the germs of much that has happened later in the borderlands of France and Germany where the projected "middle kingdom" might have been erected. A sketch of the duke's character with its traits of ambition and shortcomings may therefore be placed, not unfitly, among the pen portraits of individuals who have attempted to change the map of Europe.

The materials for an exhaustive study of the times, and of the participants in the scenes thereof, are almost overwhelming in quantity. Into this narrative, I have woven the words of contemporaries when these related what they saw and thought, or at least what they said they saw or thought, about events passing within their sight or their ken. The veracity attained is only that of a mosaic of bits, each with its morsel of truth. And the rim in which these bits are set is too slender to contain all the illumination necessary. The narrative is, of necessity, partial and fragmentary, for a complete story would require a series of biographies presented in parallel columns. My own preliminary chapter to this book—a mere explanation of the presence of the dukes of Burgundy in the Netherlands—grew into an account of a sovereign whom they deposed and was published under the title of A Mediaeval Princess.

John Foster Kirk gave 1713 pages to his record of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Forty years have elapsed since that publication appeared and a mass of interesting material pertinent to the subject has been given out to the public, while separate phases of it have been minutely discussed by competent critics, so that at every point there is new temptation for the biographer to expand the theme where the scope of his work demands brevity.

In using the later fruit of historical investigation, it is delightful for an American to find that scholars of all nations do justice to Mr. Kirk's accuracy and industry even when they may differ from his conclusions. It has been my privilege to be permitted free access to this scholar's collection of books, and I would here express my deep gratitude to the Kirk family for their generosity and courtesy towards me.

After some preliminary reading at Brussels and Paris and in England, the work for this volume has been completed in America, where the opportunity of securing the latest results of research and criticism is constantly increasing, although these results are still lodged under many roofs. I have had many reasons to thank the librarians of New York, Boston, and Washington, and also those of Harvard, Columbia, and Cornell universities for courtesies and for serviceable aid; and just as many reasons to regret the meagreness of what can be put between two covers as the gleanings from so rich a harvest.

One word further in explanation of the use of Bold. The adjective has been retained simply because it has been so long identified with Charles in English usage. I should have preferred the word Rash as a better equivalent for the contemporary term, applied to the duke in his lifetime,—le temeraire.



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CHARLES THE BOLD, DUKE OF BURGUNDY Frontispiece From MS. statute book of the Order of the Golden Fleece at Vienna. The artist is unknown. Date of the codex is between 1518 and 1565. This portrait is possibly redrawn from that attributed to Roger van der Weyden. That, however, shows a much stronger face.

PHILIP THE GOOD AS FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN FLEECE From a reproduction of a miniature in MS. at Brussels.

A DUKE OF BURGUNDY AND THE POPE AT AVIGNON From a contemporary miniature reproduced in Petit's Hist. de Bourgogne.

PHILIP THE GOOD, DUKE OF BURGUNDY, AS PATRON OF LETTERS From a reproduction of part of a miniature in a beautiful MS. copy in Brussels Library of Jacques de Guise's Annales. The author is depicted presenting his book to the duke, who is attended by his son and his courtiers. The miniature is attributed by turns to Roger van der Weyden, to Guillaume Wijelant or Vrelant, and to Hans Memling.

A CASTLE IN BURGUNDY From Petit's Hist. de Bourgogne.


COUNT OF ST. POL AND HIS JESTER From reproduction of a miniature in Barante, Les ducs de Bourgogne,


LOUIS XI From an engraving by A. Boilly after a drawing by G. Boilly.

PHILIP AND CHARLES OF BURGUNDY From a drawing in a MS. at Arras.

BATTLE OF MONTL'HERY (JULY 16, 1465) From a contemporary miniature reproduced in Comines-Lenglet.

LOUIS XI, WITH THE PRINCES AND SEIGNEURS OF THE WAR OF THE PUBLIC WEAL From a contemporary miniature reproduced in Comines-Lenglet.

ANTHONY OF BURGUNDY After Hans Memling, Dresden Gallery.



OLIVIER DE LA MARCHE From sketch in MS. at Arras reproduced in Memoires couronnes de l'acad. royale de Belgique, xlix.

MARY OF BURGUNDY From a contemporary miniature reproduced in Barante, Les ducs de Bourgogne.

MAP OF ALSACE AND ADJACENT TERRITORIES From Toutey, Charles le temeraire.



ARNOLD, DUKE OF GUELDERS From engraving by G. Robert in Comines-Lenglet.

MARY OF BURGUNDY After design by C. Laplante.

CHARLES THE BOLD Idealised by P. P. Rubens, Vienna Gallery. (By permission of J. J. Loewy, Vienna.)


A FORTIFIED CHURCH IN BURGUNDY From Petit's Hist. de Bourgogne,

KING RUHMREICH AND HIS DAUGHTER EHRENREICH (These characters in Maximilian's poem of Theuerdank represent Charles and Mary of Burgundy.) From a reproduction of a wood engraving by Schaeufelein in edition of 1517.

A PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF MORAT Used by kind permission of Miss Sophia Kirk and J. B. Lippincott Company.

PHILIBERT, DUKE OF SAVOY After a design by Matthey reproduced in Comines-Lenglet.

PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF NANCY Used by kind permission of Miss Sophia Kirk and the J. B. Lippincott Company.

PLAN OF THE BATTLE OF NANCY From contemporary miniature reproduced in Comines-Lenglet.

A MONUMENT ON THE BATTLEFIELD AT NANCY From Barante, Let ducs de Bourgogne.

THE TOMB OF CHARLES OF BURGUNDY Church of Notre Dame, Bruges


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On St. Andrew's Eve, in the year 1433, the good people of Dijon were abroad, eager to catch what glimpses they might of certain stately functions to be formally celebrated by the Duke of Burgundy. The mere presence of the sovereign in the capital of his duchy was in itself a gala event from its rarity. Various cities of the dominions agglomerated under his sway claimed his attentions successively. His residence was now here and now there, without long tarrying anywhere. His coming was usually very welcome. In times of peaceful submission to his behest, the city of his sojourn reaped many advantages besides the amusement of seeing her streets alive beyond their wont. In the outlay for the necessities and the luxuries of the peripatetic ducal court, the expenditures were lavish, and in the temporary commercial activity enjoyed by the merchants, the fact that the burghers' own contributions to this luxury were heavy, passed into temporary oblivion.[1]

This autumn visit of Philip the Good to Dijon was more significant than usual. It had lasted several weeks, and among its notable occasions was an assembly of the Knights of the Golden Fleece for the third anniversary of their Order. On this November 30th, Burgundy was to witness for the first time the pompous ceremonials inaugurated at Bruges in January, 1430. Three years had sufficed to render the new institution almost as well known as its senior English rival, the Order of the Garter, which it was destined to outshine for a brief period at least. Its foundation had formed part of the elaborate festivities accompanying the celebration of the marriage of Philip, Duke of Burgundy, to Isabella of Portugal. As a signal honour to his bride, Philip published his intention of creating a new order of knighthood which would evince "his great and perfect love for the noble state of chivalry."

Rumour, indeed, told various tales about the duke's real motives. It was whispered that a certain lady of Bruges, whom he had distinguished by his attentions, was ridiculed for her red hair by a few merry courtiers, whereupon Philip declared that her tresses should be immortally honoured in the golden emblem of a new society.[2] But that may be set down as gossip. Philip's own assertion, when he instituted the Order of the Golden Fleece, was that he intended to create a bulwark

"for the reverence of God and the sustenance of our Christian faith, and to honour and enhance the noble order of chivalry, and also for three reasons hereafter declared; first, to honour the ancient knights ...; second, to the end that these present.... may exercise the deeds of chivalry and constantly improve; third, that all gentlemen marking the honour paid to the knights will exert themselves to attain the dignity." [2]

The special homage to the new duchess was expressed in the device

Aultre n'aray Dame Isabeau tant que vivray[4]

This pledge of absolute fidelity to Dame Isabella was, indeed, utterly disregarded by the bridegroom, but in outward and formal honour to her he never failed.

The new institution was, from the beginning, pre-eminently significant of the duke's magnificent state existence, wherein his Portuguese consort proved herself an efficient and able helpmeet. Again and again during a period of thirty years, rich in diplomatic parleying, did Isabella act as confidential ambassador for her husband, and many were the negotiations conducted by her to his satisfaction.[5]

But it must be noted that whatever lay at the exact root of Philip's motives when he conceived the plan of his Order, the actual result of his foundation was not affected. He failed, indeed, to bring back into the world the ancient system of knighthood in its ideal purity and strength. Rather did he make a notable contribution to its decadence and speed its parting. What was brought into existence was a house of peers for the head of the Burgundian family, a body of faithful satellites who did not hamper their chief overmuch with the criticism permitted by the rules of their society, while their own glory added shining rays to the brilliant centre of the Burgundian court.

Twenty-five, inclusive of the duke, was the original number appointed to form the chosen circle of knights. This was speedily increased to thirty-one, and a duty to be performed in the session of 1433, was the election of new members to fill vacancies and to round out the allotted tale.

In their manner of accomplishing the appointed task, the new chevaliers had, from the outset, evinced a readiness to cast their votes to the satisfaction of their chief, even if his pleasure directly conflicted with the regulations they had sworn to obey. No candidate was to be eligible whose birth was not legitimate,[6] a regulation quite ignored when the duke proposed the names of his sons Cornelius and Anthony. For his obedient knights did not refuse to open their ranks to these great bastards of Burgundy, who carried a bar sinister proudly on their escutcheon. So, too, others of Philip's many illegitimate descendants were not rejected when their father proposed their names.

Again, it was plainly stipulated that the new member should have proven himself a knight of renown. Yet, in this session of 1433, one of the candidates proposed for election, though nominally a knight, had assuredly had no time to show his mettle. The dignity was his only because his spurs had been thrown right royally into his cradle before his tiny hands had sufficient baby strength to grasp a rattle, and before he was even old enough to use the pleasant gold to cut his teeth upon.[7]

Among the eight elected at Dijon in 1433, was Charles of Burgundy, Count of Charolais, son of the sovereign duke, born at Dijon on the previous St. Martin's Eve, November 10th.[8]

"The new chevaliers, with the exception of the Count of Virnenbourg who was absent, took the accustomed oath at the hands of the sovereign in a room of his palace."

So runs the record. Jean le Fevre, Seigneur de St. Remy, present on the occasion in his capacity of king-at-arms of the Order, is a trifle more communicative.[9] According to him, all the gentlemen were very joyous at their election as they received their collars and made their vows as stated. He excepted no member in the phrase about the joy displayed, though, as a matter of inference, the pleasure experienced by the Count of Charolais may be reckoned as somewhat problematical.

The heir of Burgundy had attained the ripe age of just twenty days when thus officially listed among the chevaliers present at the festival. Born on November 10th of this same year, 1433,[10] he had been knighted on the very day of his baptism, when Charles, Count of Nevers, and the Seigneur of Croy were his sponsors. The former gave his name to the infant while the latter's name was destined to be identified with many unpleasant incidents in the career of the future man. This brief span of life is sufficient reason for the further item in the archives of the Golden Fleece:

"As to the Count of Charolais, he was carried into the same room. There the sovereign, his father, and the duchess, his mother, took the oath on his behalf. Afterwards the duke put the collars upon all." [11]

Thus was emphasised at birth the parental conviction that Charles of Burgundy was of different metal than the rest of the world. The great duke of the Occident made a distinct epoch in the history of chivalry when he conferred its dignities upon a speechless, unconscious infant. The theory that knighthood was a personal acquisition had been maintained up to this period, the Children of France[12] alone being excepted from the rule, though in his Lay de Vaillance Eustache Deschamps complains that the degree of knighthood is actually conferred on those who are only ten or twelve years old, and who do not know what to do with the honour.[13] That plaint was written not later than the first years of the fifteenth century, and the poet's prediction that ruin of the institution was imminent when affected by such disorders seemed justified if, in 1433, even the years of the eligible age had shrunk to days. Philip himself had not received the accolade until he was twenty-five.

How his predecessor in Holland, Count William VI., had acquitted himself valiantly the moment that he was dubbed knight is told by Froissart, and the tales of other accolades of the period are too well known to need reference.

It is said that the baby cavalier was nourished by his own mother. Having lost her first two infants, Isabella was solicitous for the welfare of this third child, who also proved her last. He was, moreover, Philip's sole legal heir, as Michelle of France and Bonne of Artois, his first wives, had left no offspring. The care and devotion expended on the boy were repaid. Charles became a sturdy child who developed into youthful vigour. In person, he strangely resembled his mother and her Portuguese ancestors, rather than the English Lancastrians, from whom she was equally descended.

His dark hair and his features were very different from the fair type of his paternal ancestors, the vigorous branch of the Valois family. Possibly other characteristics suggesting his Portuguese origin were intensified by close association with his mother, who supervised the education directed by the Seigneur d' Auxy. They often lived at The Hague, where Isabella acted as chief and official adviser to the duke's stadtholder in the administration. [14]

Charles was a diligent pupil, if we may believe his contemporaries, surprisingly so, considering his early taste for all martial pursuits and his intense interest in military operations.

At two years of age he received his first lesson in horsemanship, on a wooden steed constructed for his especial use by Jean Rampart, a saddler of Brussels.

His biographers repeat from each other statements of his proficiency in Latin. This must be balanced by noting that the only texts which he could have read were probably not classic. In the inventory of the various Burgundian libraries of the period, there are not six Greek and Latin classical texts all told, and excepting Sallust, not a single Roman historian in the original.[15] There was a translation of Livy by the Prior of St. Eloi and late abridgments of Sallust, Suetonius, Lucan, and Caesar,[16] with a French version of Valerius Maximus, but nothing of Tacitus. Doubtless these versions and a volume called Les faits des Romains were used as text-books to teach the young count about the world's conquerors. The last mentioned book shows what travesties of Roman history were gravely read in the fifteenth century.

There are stories[17] that the bit of history most enjoyed by the pupil was the narrative of Alexander. Books about that hero were easy to come by long before the invention of printing, though Alexander would have had difficulty in recognising his identity under the strange mediaeval motley in which his namesake wandered over the land. No single man, with the possible exception of Charlemagne, was so much written about or played so brilliantly the part of a hero to the Middle Ages and after.[18] The simplicity and universality of his success were of a type to appeal to the boy Charles, himself built on simple lines. The fact, too, that Alexander was the son of a Philip stimulated his imagination and instilled in his breast hopes of conquering, not the whole world perhaps, but a good slice of territory which should enable him to hold his own between the emperor and the French king. Tales of definite schemes of early ambition are often fabricated in the later life of a conqueror, but in this case they may be believed, as all threads of testimony lead to the same conclusion.

The air breathed by the boy when he first became conscious of his own individuality was certainly heavy with the aroma of satisfied ambition. The period of his childhood was a time when his father stood at the very zenith of his power. In 1435, was signed the Treaty of Arras, the death-blow to the long coalition existing between Burgundy and England to the continual detriment of France. Philip was reconciled with great solemnity to the king, responsible in his dauphin days for the murder of the late Duke of Burgundy. After ostentatiously parading his filial resentment sixteen long years, Philip forgave Charles VII. his share in the death of John the Fearless, on the bridge at Montereau, and swore to lend his support to keep the French monarch on the throne whither the efforts of Joan of Arc had carried him from Bourges, the forlorn court of his exile.

England's pretensions were repudiated. To be sure, the recent coronation of Henry VI. at Paris was not immediately forgotten, but while the Duke of Bedford had actually administered the government as regent, in behalf of his infant nephew, it was a mere shadow of his office that passed to his successor. Bedford's death, in 1435, was almost coincident with the compact at Arras when the English Henry's realms across the Channel shrank to Normandy and the outlying fortresses of Picardy and Maine. Later events on English soil were to prove how little fitted was the son of Henry V. for sovereignty of any kind.

Out of the negotiations at Arras, Philip of Burgundy rose triumphant with a seal set upon his personal importance.[19] His recognition of Charles VII. as lawful sovereign of France, and his reconciliation did not pass without signal gain to himself.

The king declared his own hands unstained by the blood of John of Burgundy, agreed to punish all those designated by Philip as actually responsible for that treacherous murder, and pledged himself to erect a cross on the bridge at Montereau, the scene of the crime. Further, he relinquished various revenues in Burgundy, hitherto retained by the crown from the moment when the junior branch of the Valois had been invested with the duchy (1364); and he ceded the counties of Boulogne, Artois, and all the seigniories belonging to the French sovereign on both banks of the Somme. To this last cession, however, was appended the condition that the towns included in this clause could be redeemed at the king's pleasure, for the sum of four hundred thousand gold crowns. Further, Charles exempted Philip from acts of homage to himself, promised to demand no aides from the duke's subjects in case of war, and to assist his cousin if he were attacked from England. Lastly, he renounced an alliance lately contracted with the emperor to Philip's disadvantage.[20]

One clause in the treaty crowned the royal submissiveness towards the powerful vassal. It provided that in case of Charles's failure to observe all the stipulated conditions, his own subjects would be justified in taking arms against him at the duke's orders. A similar clause occurs in certain treaties between an earlier French king and his Flemish vassals, but always to the advantage of the suzerain, not to that of the lesser lords.

The duke was left in a position infinitely superior to that of the king, whose realm was terribly exhausted by the long contest with England, a contest wherein one nation alone had felt the invader's foot. French prosperity had been nibbled off like green foliage before a swarm of locusts, and the whole north-eastern portion of France was in a sorry state of desolation by 1435. On the other hand, the territories covered by Burgundy as an overlord had greatly increased during the sixteen years that Philip had worn the title. An aggregation of duchies, counties, and lordships formed his domain, loosely hung together by reason of their several titles being vested in one person—titles which the bearer had inherited or assumed under various pretexts.

Flanders and Artois, together with the duchy and county of Burgundy, came to him from his father, John the Fearless, in 1419. In 1421, he bought Namur. In 1430, he declared himself heir to his cousins in Brabant and Limbourg when Duke Anthony's second son followed his equally childless brother into a premature grave, and the claims were made good in spite of all opposition. Holland, Zealand, and Hainaut became his through the unwilling abdication of his other cousin, Jacqueline, in 1433. To save the life of her husband, Frank van Borselen, the last representative of the Bavarian House then formally resigned her titles, which she had already divested of all significance five years previously, when Philip of Burgundy had become her ruward, to relieve a "poor feminine person" of a weight of responsibility too heavy for her shoulders.[21]

Divers items in the accounts show what Philip expended in having the titles of Holland, Zealand, and Hainaut added to his other designations. Also there were various places where his predecessor's name had to be effaced to make room for his. (Laborde, i., 345).]

Antwerp and Mechlin were included in Brabant. Luxemburg was a later acquisition obtained through Elizabeth of Goerlitz.

There were very shady bits in the chapters about Philip's entry into many of his possessions, but it is interesting to note how cleverly the best colour is given to his actions by Olivier de la Marche and other writers who enjoyed Burgundian patronage. Very gentle are the adjectives employed, and a nice cloak of legality is thrown over the naked facts as they are ushered into history. Contemporary criticism did occasionally make itself heard, especially from the emperor, who declared that the Netherland provinces must come to him as a lapsed imperial fief. For a time Philip denied that any links existed between his domain and the empire, but in 1449 he finally found it convenient to discuss the question with Frederic III. at Besancon; still he never came to the point of paying homage.

All these territories made a goodly realm for a mere duke. But they were individual entities centred around one head with little interconnection.

Philip thought that the one thing needed to bring his possessions into a national life, as coherent as that of France, was a unity of legal existence among the dissimilar parts, and the effort to attain this unity was the one thought dominating the career of his successor, whose pompous introduction to life naturally inspired him with a high idea of his own rank, and led him to dream of greater dignities for himself and his successor than a bundle of titles,—a splendid, vain, fatal dream as it proved.

As a final cement to the new friendship between Burgundy and France, it was also agreed at Arras that the heir of the former should wed a daughter of Charles VII. When the Count of Charolais was five years old, the Seigneur of Crevecoeur,[22] "a wise and prudent gentleman" was despatched to the French court on divers missions, among which was the business of negotiating the projected alliance. A very joyous reception was accorded the envoy by the king and the queen, and his proposal was accepted in behalf of the second daughter, Catherine, easily substituted for an older sister, deceased between the first and second stages of negotiation.

A year later, a formal betrothal took place at St Omer, whither the young bride was conducted, most honourably accompanied by the archbishops of Rheims and of Narbonne, by the counts of Vendome, Tonnerre, and Dunois, the young son of the Duke of Bourbon, named the Lord of Beaujeu, and various other distinguished nobles, besides a train of noble dames and demoiselles in special attendance on the princess, and an escort of three hundred horse.

At the various cities where the party made halt they were graciously received, and all honour was paid to the ten-year-old Daughter of France. At Cambray, she was met by the duke's envoys and as she travelled on towards her destination, all the towns of Philip's obedience contributed their quota of welcome.

At St. Omer, the duke was awaiting her coming. When her approach was announced he rode out in person to greet her, attended by a brilliant escort.

Within the city, "melodious festivals" were ready to burst into tune; the betrothal was confirmed amid joyousness and the ceremony was followed by tourneys and jousts, all at the expense of the duke.

What a series of pompous betrothals between infant parties the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries can show! Poor little puppets, in whose persons national interests were supposed to be centred, were made to lisp out their roles in international dramas whose final acts rarely were consistent with the promise of the prologue.

Catherine did not live to become Duchess of Burgundy nor to temper the duel between her husband and her brother Louis. The remainder of her short existence was passed under the care of Duchess Isabella, sometimes in one city of the Netherlands, sometimes in another.

La Marche[23] records one return of Philip to Brussels when his arrival was greeted by Charles of Burgundy, honourably accompanied by children of high birth about his age or less, some only eleven or twelve years old. There were with him Jehan de la Tremoille, Philip de Croy, Philip de Crevecoeur, Philip de Wavrin, and many others. All were mounted on little horses harnessed like that of their governor, a very honest and wise gentleman, named Messire Jehan, Seigneur et Ber d'Auxy. This gentleman was a fine man, well known, of good lineage, ready of speech and able to discuss matters of honour and of state.

He was both hunter and falconer, skilled in all exercise and sport.

"Never [asserts La Marche] have I met a gentleman better adapted to supervise the education of a young prince than he.... Among his pupils were also Anthony, Bastard of Burgundy,[24] son of Philip, and the Marquis Hugues de Rottelin. These lads were older than the first mentioned."

La Marche dilates on the pleasure the duke felt in this youthful band of horse, and then tells how, within Brussels,

"he was received by the magistrates and conducted to his palace, where the Duchess of Burgundy awaited him holding by the hand Madame Catherine of France, Countess of Charolais. She was about twelve and seemed a lady grown, for she was good and wise, and well conditioned for her age."

At various state functions the Count and Countess of Charolais appeared together in public, and witnessed certain of the gorgeous and costly entertainments which were almost the daily food of the gay Burgundian court. One of these occasions was calculated to make a deep impression on the boy and to arouse his pride at the spectacle of a proud city wooing his father's favour, in deep humiliation.

In 1436, an insurrection had occurred in Bruges, when the animosity of the burghers had caused the duchess to flee from their midst, holding her little son in her arms, alarmed for his personal safety. Philip suppressed the revolt, but, in his anger at its insolence, declared that never again would he set foot within the gates unless in company with his superior.

Among the many negotiations wherein Isabella played a prominent part as her husband's representative, were those concerning the liberation of the Duke of Orleans, who had remained in England, a prisoner, after the battle of Agincourt in 1415. The last advice given by Henry V. to his brothers was that they should make this captivity perpetual. Therefore, whenever overtures were made for his redemption, a strong party, headed by Humphrey of Gloucester, rejected them vehemently.

In 1440, however, there was a turn in the tide of sentiment. Possibly the low state of the English exchequer made the duke's ransom more attractive than his person. At any rate, 120,000 golden crowns were accepted as his equivalent, and the exile of twenty-five years returned to France, having pledged himself never to bear arms against England.

Isabella of Burgundy was at Calais to welcome him, and to escort him to St. Omer, where high revels were held in his honour and in that of his alliance with Marie of Cleves, Philip's niece.

The week intervening between the betrothal and the nuptials was passed in a succession of banquets and tourneys, gorgeous in their elaboration. Moreover, St. Andrew's Day chancing to fall just then, the new Burgundian Order was convened and the Duke of Orleans was elected a Knight of the Golden Fleece, while in his turn he presented his cousin with the collar of his own Order of the Porcupine. Lord Cornwallis and other English gentlemen who had accompanied Orleans across the Channel participated in these gaieties, nor were they among the least favoured guests, adds Barante.

Amity was triumphant, and there was a general feeling abroad that the returned exile was henceforth to be the ruling power in France. People began to look to him to act as the go-between in their behalf, to be their mediator with Charles VII., still little known at his best. Many towns turned towards him in hopes of finding a friend, and among them was Bruges. But it was not royal favours that Bruges sought. Her burghers felt great inconvenience from the breach with their sovereign duke. Anxious to be reinstated in his grace, they seized the opportunity of reminding Philip of his assertion, and they besought him to enter their gates in company with the Duke of Orleans, a prince of the blood, closer to the French sovereign than the Duke of Burgundy.

After some demur, Philip consented to grant their petition. Possibly he was not loth to be persuaded. The deputies hastened back to Bruges to rejoice their fellow-citizens with the news, and to prepare a reception for their appeased sovereign, calculated to make him content with the late rebels.

Before the grand cortege, composed of the two dukes, their consorts, and the dignitaries who had assisted in the feasts of marriage and of chivalry, reached the gates of Bruges, the citizens were ready with a touching spectacle of humility and repentance.[25]

A league from the gates, the magistrates and burghers stood in the road awaiting the travellers from St. Omer. All were barefooted and bareheaded. Under the December sky they waited the approach of the stately procession. When the duke arrived, they all fell upon their knees and implored him to forgive the late troubles and to reinstate their city in his favour. Philip did not answer immediately—delay was always a feature of these episodes. Thereupon, the Duke of Orleans, both duchesses, and all the gentlemen joined their entreaties to the citizens' prayers. Again a pause, and then, as if generously yielding to pressure, Philip bade the burghers put on their shoes and their hats while he accepted at their hands the keys of all the gates. Then the long procession moved on towards Bruges. At the gate were the clergy, followed by the monks, nuns, and beguins of the various convents and foundations, bearing crosses, banners, reliquaries, and many precious ecclesiastical treasures. There, too, were the gilds and merchants, on horseback, with magnificent accoutrements freshly burnished to do honour to the welcome they offered their forgiving overlord.

Throughout Bruges, at convenient places, platforms and stages were erected, whereon were enacted dramatic performances, given continuously, to provide amusement for the collected crowds. Sometimes the presentation carried significance beyond mere entertainment. Here a maid, garbed as a wood nymph, appeared leading a swan which wore the collar of the Golden Fleece and a porcupine. This last beast was to symbolise the Orleans device, Near and Far, as the creature was supposed to project his spines to a distance.

One enthusiastic citizen covered his whole house with gold and the roof with silver leaves to betoken his satisfaction. Indeed, if we may believe the chroniclers, never in the memory of man had any city incurred so much expense to honour its lord. The duke permitted his heart to be touched by these proofs of devotion, and on the very evening of his arrival he evinced that his confidence was restored by sending the civic keys and a gracious message to the magistrates. At the news of this condescension the cries of "Noel" re-echoed afresh through the illuminated streets.

Charles was not present at this entry, which took place on Saturday, December 11th, but Philip was so much entertained with the performance that he sent for his son, and on the following Saturday he and the Countess of Charolais came from Ghent to join the party. The Duke of Orleans and many nobles rode out of the city to meet the young couple, who were formally escorted to the palace by magistrates and citizens in a body. On the Sunday there were repetitions of some of the plays and every attention was offered by the Bruges burghers to their young guests. When Orleans departed with his bride on Tuesday, December 14th, what wonder that the lady wept in sorrow at leaving these gay Burgundian doings!

While Charles did not actually witness the humiliation of the citizens, the seven-year-old boy would, undoubtedly, have heard and known sufficient of the cause of the festivals to be fully aware that the citizens who had dared defy his father were glad to buy back his smiles at any cost to their pride and purse. He would have known, too, that merchants from Venice, Genoa, Florence, and elsewhere joined the Bruges burghers in the welcome to the mollified overlord. It was a spectacle of the relations between a city and the ducal father not to be easily forgotten by the son.

[Footnote 1: The indefatigable Gachard has published an itinerary of Philip the Good, so far as he could make it. (Collection des voyages des souverains des Pays Bas, i., 71.) Unfortunately, owing to the destruction of papers, only a few years are complete. Between 1428-1441, there is nothing. But the itinerary for 1441 and for other years shows how often the duke changed his residences. Sometimes he is accompanied by Madame de Bourgogne, sometimes by M. and Madame de Charolais.]

[Footnote 2: It was also said that the woollen manufactures of Flanders were denoted by the emblem of the golden fleece.]

[Footnote 3: Reiffenberg, Histoire de l'Ordre de la Toison d'Or, p. xxi.]

[Footnote 4: Hist. de I'Ordre, etc., p. i.]

[Footnote 5: All the Burgundian embassies were not as patent to the public as were Isabella's. An item like the following from the accounts of 1448-49 whets the reader's curiosity:

"To Jehan Lanternier, barber and varlet of the chamber, for delivering to a certain person for certain causes and for secret matters of which Monseigneur does not wish further declaration to be made, 53 pounds 17 sous."

(Laborde Les Ducs de Bourgogne, etc., "Preuves," i. xiii.)]

[Footnote 6: "Vingt-quatre chevaliers gentilshommes de nom et d'armes et sans reproches nes et procrees en leal mariage" (see description of the first list).—Hist. de l'Ordre, p. xxi.]

[Footnote 7: Jacquemin Dauxonne, a merchant of Lombardy living at Dijon, received twenty-two francs and a half for a rich cloth of black silk draped about the baptismal font. Why mourning was used on this joyful occasion does not appear. (Laborde, i., 321.)]

[Footnote 8: Summary of a register containing the acts of the Order of the Golden Fleece quoted in Histoire de l'Ordre, pp. 12, 13.]

[Footnote 9: St. Remy, Chronique, ii., 284. St. Remy is usually called Toison d'Or.]

[Footnote 10: His full name was Charles Martin. One tower alone remains of the palace where he was born.]

[Footnote 11: Hist, de l'Ordre, p. 13.]

[Footnote 12: Selden (Titles of Honor, p. 457), however, says he knows not by what authority this statement is made and that he knows nothing of it. Seven is the earliest age mentioned by Gautier for receiving knighthood.]

[Footnote 13: Deschamps, OEuvres Completes, ii., 214.]

[Footnote 14: The ancient quarrel between the old Holland parties of Hooks and Cods continually blazed out anew. On one notable occasion, to show her impartiality, the duchess appeared in public accompanied by the stadtholder, Lelaing, a partisan of the Hooks, and by Frank van Borselen, himself a Cod, the widower of Jacqueline, the late Countess of Holland.]

[Footnote 15: Barante, Histoire des Dues de Bourgogne, vi., 2, note by Reiffenberg.]

[Footnote 16: See Catalogue des manuscrits des Ducs de Bourgogne, "Resume historique," i., lxxix.]

[Footnote 17: Barante, vi., 2, note.]

[Footnote 18: Loomis, Medieval Hellenism.]

[Footnote 19: Pirenne, Histoire de Belgique, ii., 231.]

[Footnote 20: It was in June, 1434, that this alliance had been made. Sigismund claimed that Philip had no right in Brabant, Holland, Zealand, and Hainaut, which in his opinion were lapsed fiefs, of the empire.]

[Footnote 21: Putnam, A Medieval Princess.

[Footnote 22: Monstrelet, La Chronique, v., 344.]

[Footnote 23: La Marche, Memoires, ii., 50.]

[Footnote 24: Reiffenberg, Essai sur les enfants naturels de Philippe de Bourgogne.]

[Footnote 25: Meyer, Commentarii sive Annales rerum Flandricarum, p. 296.]




The heir of Burgundy was still in very tender years when he began to take official part in public affairs, sometimes associated with one parent, sometimes with the other.

There was a practical advantage in bringing the boy to the fore by which the duke was glad to profit. With his own manifold interests, it was impossible for him to be present in his various capitals as often as was demanded by the usage of the diverse individual seigniories. It was politic, therefore, to magnify the representative capacity of his son and of his consort in order to obtain the grants and aides which certain of his subjects declared could be given only when requested orally by their sovereign lord. Thus, in 1444, it was Count Charles and the duchess who appeared in Holland to ask an aide.[1] In the following year, Charles accompanied his father when Philip made one of his rare visits—there were only three between 1428 and 1466—to Holland and Zealand.

Olivier de la Marche was among the attendants on this occasion, and he describes with great detail how rejoiced were the inhabitants to have their absentee count in their land.[2] Many matters could only be set aright by his authority. Among the complaints brought to him at Middelburg were accusations against a certain knight of high birth, Jehan de Dombourc. Philip ordered that the man be arrested at once and brought before him for trial. This was easier said than done. Warned of his danger, Dombourc, with four or five comrades, took refuge in the clock tower of the church of the Cordeliers, a sanctuary that could not be taken by storm.[2] He was provided with a good store of food, this audacious criminal, and prepared to stand a siege. There he remained three days, because, for the honour of the Church, they could not fire upon him.

"And I remember [adds La Marche] seeing a nun come out and call to Jehan Dombourc, her brother, advising him to perish defending himself rather than to dishonour their lineage by falling into the hands of the executioner. Nevertheless, finally he was forced to surrender to his prince, and he was beheaded in the market-place at Middelburg, but, at the plea of his sister, the said nun, his body was delivered to her to be buried in consecrated ground."

In this same visit Philip presided over the Zealand estates and the young count sat by his side, not as an idle spectator, but because usage required the presence of the heir as well as that of the Count of Zealand.

When Charles was twelve he was present at an assembly of the Order of the Golden Fleece held in Ghent. It was the first occasion of the kind witnessed by La Marche, and very minute is his description of the lavish magnificence of the affair, undoubtedly intended to awe the citizens into complying with the requests of their Count of Flanders.

Charles played a prominent part in all the functions, and assisted in the election of his tutor, Seigneur et Ber d'Auxy. Another candidate of that year was Frank van Borselen, Count of Ostrevant, widower of Jacqueline, late Countess of Holland.

In 1446, the little Countess of Charolais died at Brussels. "Honourably as befitted a king's daughter" was she buried at Ste. Gudule.[4]

"Tireless in their devotion were the duke and duchess in her last illness, and Charles VII. despatched two skilled doctors to her aid but all efforts were vain.

"Much bemourned was the princess for she was virtuous. God have pity on her soul"

piously ejaculates La Marche.

A little item[5] in the accounts suggests that a pleasant friendship had existed between the two young people:

"To Jehan de la Court, harper of Mme. the Countess of Charolais, for a harp which she had bought from him and given to Ms. the Count of Charolais for him to play and take his amusement, xii francs."[6]

It is easy to surmise that music was not, however, the young count's favourite amusement. In Philip's court, tournaments were still held and afforded a fascinating entertainment for a lad whose bent was undoubtedly towards a military career.

One valiant actor in these tourneys where were revived the ancient traditions of knighthood, was Jacques de Lalaing, a chevalier with all the characteristics of times past, fighting for fame in the present. In his youth, this aspirant for reputation swore a vow to meet thirty knights in combat before he attained his thirtieth year. Dominated by a desire to fulfil his vow, Lalaing haunted the court of Burgundy, because the Netherlands were on the highroad between England and many points in Germany, Italy, and the East, and there he had the best chance of falling in with all the prowess that might be abroad. For stay-at-home prowess he cared naught. A delightful personage is Messire Jacques and a brave role does he play in the series of jousts, sporting gaily on the pages of the various Burgundian chroniclers, who recorded in their old age what they had seen in their youth. One description, however, of these encounters reads much like another and they need not be repeated.

During his childhood Charles was a spectator only on the days of mimic battle. In his seventeenth year he was permitted to enter the lists as a regular combatant, a permission shared by his fellow pupils all eager to flesh their maiden spears. The duke arranged that his son should have a preliminary tilt a few days before the public affair in order to test his ability. All the courtiers—and apparently ladies were not excluded from the discussion on the matter—agreed that no better knight could be found for this purpose than Jacques de Lalaing, who, on his part, was highly honoured by being selected to gauge the untried capabilities of the prince.[7]

In the park at Brussels with the duke and duchess as onlookers, the preliminary encounter took place. At the very first attack, Charles struck Messire Jacques on the shield and shattered his lance into many pieces. The duke was displeased because he thought that the knight had not exerted his full strength and was favouring his son. He accordingly sent word to Jacques that he must play in earnest and not hold his force in leash. Fresh lances were brought; again did the count withstand the attack so sturdily that both lances were shattered. This time the boy's mother was the dissatisfied one, thinking that the knight was too hard with his junior, but the duke only laughed.

"Thus differed the parents. The one desired him to prove his manhood, the other was preoccupied with his safety. With these two courses the trial ended amid rounds of applause for the prince."[8]

The actual tourney was held on the market-place in Brussels before a distinguished assembly. Count Charles was escorted into the arena by his cousin, the Count d'Estampes, and other nobles. Seigneur d'Auxy, his tutor, stood near to watch the maiden efforts of the prince and his mates. He had reason to be proud of Charles, both for his bearing and his skill. He gave and received excellent thrusts, broke more than ten lances, and did his duty so valiantly that in the evening he received the prize from two princesses, and "Montjoye" was cried by the heralds in his honour. From that time forth, the count was considered a puissant and rude jouster and gained great renown.

"And that is the reason why I commence my memoirs about him and his deeds[9] [continues La Marche, on concluding his description of the tournament], and I do not speak from hearsay and rumour. As one who has been brought up with him from his youth in his father's service and in his own, I will touch upon his education, his morals, his character, and his habits from the moment when I first saw him as appears above in my memoirs.

"As to his character, I will commence at the worst features. He was hot, active, and impetuous: as a child he was very eager to have his own way. Nevertheless, he had so much understanding and good sense that he resisted his inclinations and in his youth no one could be found sweeter or more courteous than he. He did not take the name of God or the saints in vain, and held God in great fear and reverence. He learned well and had a retentive memory. He was fond of reading and of hearing read the stories of Lancelot and Gawain, but to both he preferred the sea and boats. Falconry, too, he loved and he hunted whenever he had leave. In archery he early excelled his comrades and was good at other sports. Thus was the count educated, trained, and taught, and thus did he devote himself to good and excellent exercise."

That the report of the lavishness and extravagance of the Burgundian court was no idle rumour, exaggerated by frequent repetitions, is attested to by every bit of contemporary evidence. Enthusiastic and loyal chroniclers dwell on the magnificence, and the arid details of bills paid show what it cost to attain the vaunted perfection, while the protests from taxpayers prove that this splendour did not grow like the lilies of the field.

Philip's treasury had many separate compartments. There were many quarters to which he could turn for his needed supplies, but there were times when his exchequer ran very threateningly low, and his financial stress led him to be very conciliatory towards the burghers with full purses.

In 1445, Ghent had been honoured by the celebration of the feast of the Order of the Golden Fleece within her gates. Two years later, Philip appeared in person at a meeting of the collace, or municipal assembly, and delivered a harangue to the Ghentish magistrates and burghers, flattering them, moreover, by using their vernacular. The tenor of this speech was as follows[10]:

"My good and faithful friends, you know how I have been brought up among you from my infancy. That is why I have always loved you more than the inhabitants of all my other cities, and I have proved this by acceding to all your requests. I believe then that I am justified in hoping that you will not abandon me to-day when I have need of your support. Doubtless you are not ignorant of the condition of my father's treasury at the period of his death. The majority of his possessions had been sold. His jewels were in pawn. Nevertheless, the demands of a legitimate vengeance compelled me to undertake a long and bloody war, during which the defence of my fortresses and of my cities, and the pay of my army have necessitated outlays so large that it is impossible to estimate them. You know, too, that at the very moment when the war on France was at its height, I was obliged, in order to assure the protection of my country of Flanders, to take arms against the English in Hainaut, in Zealand, and in Friesland, a proceeding costing me more than 10,000 saluts d'or, which I raised with difficulty. Was I not equally obliged to proceed against Liege, in behalf of my countship of Namur, which sprang from the bosom of Flanders? It is not necessary to add to all these outlays those which I assume daily for the cause of the Christians in Jerusalem, and the maintenance of the Holy Sepulchre.

"It is true, however, that, yielding to the persuasions of the pope and the Council, I have now consented to put an end to the evils multiplied by war by forgetting my father's death, and by reconciling myself with the king. Since the conclusion of this treaty, I considered that while I had succeeded in preserving to my subjects during the war the advantages of industry and of peace, they had submitted to heavy burdens in taxes and in voluntary contributions, and that it was my duty to re-establish order and justice in the administration. But everything went on as though the war had not ceased. All my frontiers have been menaced, and I found myself obliged to make good my rights in Luxemburg, so useful to the defence of my other lands, especially of Brabant and Flanders.

"In this way, my expenses continued to increase; all my resources are now exhausted, and the saddest part of it all is that the good cities and communes of Flanders and especially the country folk are at the very end of their sacrifices. With grief I see many of my subjects unable to pay their taxes, and obliged to emigrate. Nevertheless, my receipts are so scanty that I have little advantage from them. Nor do I reap more from my hereditary lands, for all are equally impoverished.

"A way must be found to ease the poor people, and at the same time to protect Flanders from insult, Flanders for whose sake I would risk my own person, although to arrive at this end, important measures have become imperative."

After this affectionate preamble, Philip finally states that, in order to raise the requisite revenues, no method seemed to him so good and so simple as a tax on salt, three sous on every measure for a term of twelve years. He promised to dispense with all other subsidies and to make his son swear to demand nothing further as long as the gabelle was imposed.

"Know [he added in conclusion] that even if you consent to it I will renounce it if others prove of a different opinion, for I do not desire that the communes of Flanders be more heavily weighted than any other portion of my territory."

The duke might have spared his trouble and his elaborate condescension. The answer to his conciliatory request was a flat refusal to consider the matter at all. Salt was a vital necessity to Flemish fisheries, and its cost could not be increased to the least degree without serious inconvenience. The Flemings were wroth at his imitating the worst custom of his French kinsmen.

Philip departed from Ghent in great dudgeon. After a time he was persuaded that the indisposition of the town to meet his reasonable wishes was not due to the citizens at large, but to the machinations of a few unruly agitators among the magistrates. In 1449, therefore, he took a high-handed course of trying to direct the issue of the regular municipal elections, so as to ensure the choice of magistrates on whose obedience he could rely. The appearance of Burgundian troops in Ghent, before the election of mid-August, aroused the wrath of the community, who thought that their most cherished franchises were in jeopardy.

This was the beginning of a bitter struggle between Ghent and Philip. The duke found it no light matter to coerce the independent burghers into remembering that they were simply part of the Burgundian state. "Tantae molis erat liberam gentem in servitutem adigere!" ejaculates Meyer in the midst of his chronicle of the details of fourteen months of active hostilities.[11] Matters were long in coming to an outbreak. Various points had been contended over, when Philip had endeavoured to change the seat of the great council, or to take divers measures tending to concentrate certain judicial or legislative functions for his own convenience, but in a manner prejudicial to the autonomy of Ghent. His centripetal policy was disliked, but when his policy went further, and he attempted to control purely civic offices, dislike grew into resentment and the Ghenters rose in open revolt.

For a time, their opposition passed in Philip's estimation as mere insignificant unruliness. By 1452, however, the date of the tourney above described, it became evident that a vital issue was at stake. The Estates of Flanders endeavoured to mediate between overlord and town, but without success. Owing to Philip's interference in the elections, the results were declared void, and when a new election was appointed, the Burgundians accused the city of hastily augmenting its number of legal voters by over-facile naturalisation laws. The gilds, too, evinced a readiness to be very lenient in their scrutiny of candidates for admission to their cherished privileges, preferring, for the nonce, numbers to quality. Occupancy of furnished rooms was declared sufficient for enfranchisement, and there were cases where mere guests of a bourgeois were hastily recorded on the lists as full-fledged citizens.

By these means the popular party waxed very strong numerically. The sheriffs found themselves quite unequal to holding the rampant spirit of democracy in check. The regular government was overthrown, and the demagogues succeeded in electing three captains (hooftmans) invested with arbitrary power for the time being. The decrees of the ex-sheriffs were suspended, and a mass of very radical measures promulgated and joyfully confirmed by the populace, assembled on the Friday market. It was to be the judgment of the town meeting that ruled, not deputed authority. One ordinance stipulated that at the sound of the bell every burgher must hasten to the market-place, to lend his voice to the deliberations.

For a time various negotiations went on between Philip and envoys from Ghent. The latter took a high hand and insinuated in unmistakable terms that if the duke refused an accommodation with them, they would appeal to their suzerain, the King of France. No act of rebellion, overt or covert, exasperated Philip more than this suggestion. Charles VII. was only too ready to ignore those clauses in the treaty of Arras, releasing the duke from homage, and virtually acknowledging his complete independence in his French territories. The king accepted missives from his late vassal's city, without reprimanding the writers for their presumption in signing themselves "Seigneurs of Ghent."[12] His action, however, was confined to mild attempts at mediation.

It was plain to the duke that his other towns would follow Ghent's resistance to his authority if there were hopes of her success. Therefore he threw aside all other interests for the time being, and exerted himself to levy a body of troops to crush Flemish pretensions. His counsellors advised him to sound the temper of other citizens and to ascertain whether their sympathies were with Ghent. Answers of feeble loyalty came back to him from the majority of the other towns. Undoubtedly they highly approved Ghent's efforts. They, too, could not afford to pay taxes fraught with danger to their commerce, nor to relinquish one jot of privileges dearly bought at successive crises throughout a long period of years. The only doubt in their minds was as to the ultimate success of the burghers to stem the course of Burgundian usurpation. Therefore, they first hedged, and then consented to aid the duke. This course was pursued by the Hollanders and the Zealanders, all alike short-sighted.

The Ghenters succeeded in possessing themselves of the castle of Poucque by force, and of the village of Gaveren by stratagem, taking advantage in the latter case of the castellan's absence at church.

When every part of his dominions had been canvassed for troops, and Philip was prepared for his first active campaign against Ghent, he was anxious to leave his heir under the protection of the duchess, conscious that the imminent contest would be bitter and deadly. A pretence was made that the young count's accoutrements were not ready, and that, therefore, he would have to remain in Brussels.

"But he whose ambitions waxed, hastened the completion of his accoutrements, and swore by St. George, the greatest oath he ever used, that he would rather go in his shirt than not accompany his father to punish his impudent rebel subjects."[13]

The approaching hostilities were watched by foreign merchants in dread of commercial disaster.

"On May 18th, the nations[14] of the merchants of Bruges departed thence to go to Ghent to try to make peace between that city and the Duke of Burgundy, and there were nations of Spain, Aragon, Portugal, and Scotland, besides the Venetians, Milanese, Genoese, and Luccans."[15]

But the men of Ghent were beyond the point where commercial arguments could stem their course. The very day that this company arrived in the city, the burghers sallied forth six or seven thousand strong, fully equipped for offensive warfare.

Both the actual engagements and guerilla skirmishes that raged over a minute stretch of territory were characterised by an extraordinary ferocity. Around Oudenarde, which town Philip was determined to relieve, men were beheaded like sheep.

In the first regular engagement in which Charles took part, he showed a brave front and learned the duties of a prince by rewarding others with the honour of knighthood. Among those slain in the course of the war, were Cornelius, Bastard of Burgundy, and the gallant Jacques de Lalaing. Philip grieved deeply over the death of the former, his favourite among his natural sons, and buried him with all honours in the Church of Ste-Gudule in Brussels. The title by which he was known, hardly a proud one it would seem, passed to his brother Anthony. Lalaing, too, was greatly mourned, thus prematurely cut down in his thirty-third year.

There was so much fear lest the duke's sole legitimate heir might also perish in these conflicts where there was no mercy, that Charles was persuaded to go to visit his mother in the hope that she would keep him by her side. She made a feast in his honour, but, to the surprise of all, the duchess, who had wished to protect her son from the mild perils of a tourney, now encouraged him with brave words to return to fight in all earnest for his inheritance.[16] He himself was very indignant at the efforts to treat him as a child.

The first truce and negotiations for peace, initiated in the summer of 1452, were broken off because the conditions were unbearable to the Ghenters. Another year of warfare followed before the decisive battle of Gaveren, in July, 1453, forced them sadly to succumb. There was no other course open to them. Not only were they defeated but their numbers were decimated.[17] With full allowance for exaggeration, it is certain that the loss was very heavy. Terms scornfully rejected at an earlier date were, in 1453, accepted with every humiliating detail. More, the defeated rebels were bidden to be grateful that their kind sovereign had imposed nothing further to the conditions. As to abating the severity of the articles, he declared that he would not change an a for a b.[18]

The chief provisions were as follows: The deans of the gilds were deprived of participation in the election of sheriffs. The privileges of the naturalisation laws were considerably abridged. No sentence of banishment could be pronounced without the intervention of the duke's bailiff, whose authorisation, too, was required before the publication of edicts, ordinances, etc. The sheriffs were forbidden to place their names at the head of letters to the officers of the duke. The banners were to be delivered to the duke and placed under five locks, whose several keys should be deposited with as many different people, without whose consensus the banners could not be brought forth to lead the burghers to sedition. One gate was to be closed every Thursday in memory of the day when the citizens had marched through it to attack their liege lord, and another was to be barred up in perpetuity or at the pleasure of their sovereign. To reimburse the duke for his enforced outlay, a heavy indemnity was to be paid by the city.

July 30th was the date appointed for the final act of submission, the amende honorable of the unfortunate city. The scene was very similar to that played at Bruges in 1440. Two thousand citizens headed by the sheriffs, councillors, and captains of the burgher guard met the duke and his suite a league without the walls of Ghent. Bareheaded, barefooted, and divested of all their robes of office and of dignity, clad only in shirts and small clothes, these magistrates confessed that they had wronged their loving lord by unruly rebellion, and begged his pardon most humbly.

The duke spent the night of July 29th at Gaveren, prepared to march out in the morning with his whole army in handsome array. Philip was magnificently apparelled, but he rode the same horse which he had used on the day of battle, with the various wounds received on that day ostentatiously plastered over to make a dramatic show of what the injured sovereign had suffered at the hands of his disloyal subjects.

The civic procession was headed by the Abbot of St. Bavon and the Prior of the Carthusians. The burghers who followed the half-clad officials were fully dressed but they, too, were barefoot and ungirdled. All prostrated themselves in the dust and cried, "Mercy on the town of Ghent." While they were thus prostrate, the town spokesman of the council made an elaborate speech in French, assuring the duke that if, out of his benign grace. he would take his loving and repentant subjects again into his favour, they would never again give him cause for reproach.

"At the conclusion of this harangue, the duke and the Count of Charolais, there present, pardoned the petitioners for their evil deeds. The men of Ghent re-entered their town more happy and rejoiced than can be expressed, and the duke departed for Lille, having disbanded his army, that every one might return to their several homes." [19]

The joy experienced by the conquered, here described by La Marche, as he looked back at the event from the calm retirement of his old age, was not visible to all eye-witnesses. The progress of this war was watched eagerly from other parts of Philip's dominion. His army was full of men from both the Burgundies, who sent frequent reports to their own homes. Some passages from one of these reports by an unknown war correspondent run as follows:

"As to news from here, Monday after St. Magdalen's Day, Monseigneur the duke got the better of the Ghenters near Gaveren between ten and eleven o'clock. They attacked him near his quarters.... The duke risked his own person in advance of his company in the very worst of the slaughter, which lasted from the said place up to Ghent, a distance of about two leagues. The slain number three or four thousand, more or less, and those drowned in the river of Quaux about two hundred.... This Tuesday, the date of writing, the army departs from their quarters to advance on Ghent to demand the conditions lately offered them, and the bearer of this letter will tell you what is the result. M. the duke and his army marched up to Ghent and I have seen the bearing of the citizens. They are very bitter and despondent. M. the marshall has been parleying. I hear that matters have been settled. I hear that the Ghenters' loss is thirteen to fourteen thousand men. I cannot write more for I have no time owing to the haste of the messenger."

This was written July 23d. There is another despatch of July 31st, giving the last news, which was "very joyous." The public apology had just been enacted—

"and afterwards, in token of being conquered and as a confession that my said seigneur was victorious, those of Ghent have delivered up all their banners to the number of eighty. And on this day my said lord has created seven or eight knights and heralds in honour of his triumph, which is inestimable."[20]

The duke's victory was certainly "inestimable" in its value to him, yet, in spite of the rigour enforced on this defeated people, they were not as crushed as they might have been had they submitted in 1445. Philip was clever enough to be more lenient than appeared at first. Ancient privileges were confirmed in a special compact, and the duke swore to maintain all former concessions in their entirety except in the points above specified. Liberty of person was guaranteed, and it was expressly stipulated that if the bailiff refused to sustain the sheriffs in their exercise of justice, or tried to arrogate to himself more than his due authority, he should forfeit his office. Lastly, and more important than all, the duke made no attempt to revive the demand for the gabelle—salt was left free and untaxed. As a matter of fact, too, the duke was not exigeant in the fulfilment of every item of the treaty and, two years later, he increased certain privileges. He had cut the lion's claws but he had no desire to pit his strength again with Flemish communes. He had taught the audacious rebels a lesson and that sufficed him.[21]

[Footnote 1: Blok, Eene Hollandsche stad onder de Bourg. Oostenrijksche Heerschappij, p. 84.]

[Footnote 2: La Marche, ii., 79, etc.]

[Footnote 3: See also Chronijcke van Nederlant, p. 76, and Vlaamsche Kronijk, p. 203. Ed. C. Piot.]

[Footnote 4: D'Escouchy, Chronique, i., 110.]

[Footnote 5: The items of the funeral expenses can be found in Laborde, i., 380. There were 600 masses at two sous apiece.]

[Footnote 6: In that same year, 1440, in which this gift is recorded, there is another item showing how Charles took his amusement not only on the harp but in planning some of the elaborate surprises regularly introduced between courses in the banquets. "To Barthelmy the painter, for making the cover of a pasty for the Count of Charolais to present to Monseigneur on the night of St. Martin in the previous year, v francs" (Laborde, i., 381).]

[Footnote 7: La Marche, ii., 214.]

[Footnote 8: Gachard puts this tournament in Lent, 1452. Charles's outfit cost 360 livres.]

[Footnote 9: La Marche, i., ch. 21.]

[Footnote 10: Kervyn, Histoire de Flandre, iv. Kervyn quotes from the Dagboek des gentsche collatie, M. Schayes.]

[Footnote 11: Meyer, xvi., 303.]

[Footnote 12: They were charged with using this phrase. Gachard says that they placed at the top of their letter their titles of sheriffs and deans, as princes and lords take the title of their seignories.—(La Marche, ii., 221. See also d'Escouchy, ii., 25.)]

[Footnote 13: La Marche, ii., 230.]

[Footnote 14: Associations of merchants in foreign cities.]

[Footnote 15: Chastellain, OEuvres, ii., 221.]

[Footnote 16: La Marche, ii., 312. Chastellain, ii., 278. See also Chronique d'Adrian de Budt, p. 242, etc.]

[Footnote 17: Meyer, p. 313. La Marche, ii., 313. Lavisse, Histoire de France, accepts 13,000 as the number slain. Chastellain (ii., 375) puts the number at 22-30,000, including those drowned by the duke's order. Du Clercq lets a certain sympathy for the rebellious people escape his pen. Chastellain and La Marche treat the antagonism to taxes as unreasonable.]

[Footnote 18: Chastellain, ii., 387.]

[Footnote 19: La Marche, ii., 331. The Chastellain MS. is lacking for this event.]

[Footnote 20: Revue des societes savantes des departements, 7me. serie, 6, p. 209.

These two reports were enclosed with brief notes dated July 31 and August 8, 1453, from the ducal attorney at Amont to the magistrates of Baume. The former was one of the highest officials in the Franche-Comte. The reporter might have been one of his secretaries. The two notes with their unsigned enclosures were discovered (1881)in the archives of the town of Baume-les-Dames.]

[Footnote 21: Kervyn, Histoire de Flandre, iv., 494.]




After the fatigues of this contest with Ghent, followed a period of relaxation for the Burgundian nobles at Lille, where a notable round of gay festivities was enjoyed by the court. Adolph of Cleves inaugurated the series with an entertainment where, among other things, he delighted his friends by a representation of the tale of the miraculous swan,[1] famous in the annals of his house for bringing the opportune knight down the Rhine to wed the forlorn heiress.

When his satisfied guests took their leave, Adolph placed a chaplet on the head of one of the gentlemen, thus designating him to devise a new amusement for the company; and under the invitation lurked a tacit challenge to make the coming occasion more brilliant than the first. Again and again was this process repeated. Entertainment followed entertainment, all a mixture of repasts and vaudeville shows in whose preparation the successive hosts vied with each other to attain perfection.

The hard times, the stress of ready money, so eloquently painted when the merchants were implored to take pity on their poverty-stricken lord, were cast into utter oblivion. It was harvest tide for skilled craftsmen and artisans. Any one blessed with a clever or fantastic idea easily found a market for the product of his brain. He could see his poetic or quaint conception presented to an applauding public with a wealth of paraphernalia that a modern stage manager would not scorn. How much the nobles spent can only be inferred from the ducal accounts, which are eloquent with information about the creators of all this mimic pomp. About six sous a day was the wage earned by a painter, while the plumbers received eight. These latter were called upon to coax pliable lead into all sorts of shapes, often more grotesque than graceful.

One fete followed another from the early autumn of 1453 to February, 1454, when "The Feast of the Pheasant," as the ducal entertainment was called, crowned the series with an elaborate magnificence that has never been surpassed.

Undoubtedly Philip possessed a genius for dramatic effect and it is more than possible that he instigated the progressive banquets for the express purpose of leading up to the occasion with which he intended to dazzle Europe.[2]

For the duke's thoughts were now turned from civic revolts to a great international movement which he hoped to see set in motion. Almost coincident with the capitulation of Ghent to Philip's will had been the capitulation of Constantinople to the Turks. The event long dreaded by pope and Christendom had happened at last (May 29, 1453). Again and again was the necessity for a united opposition to the inroads of the dangerous infidels urged by Rome. On the eve of St. Martin, 1453, a legate arrived in Lille bringing an official letter from the pope, setting forth the dire stress of the Christian Church, and imploring the mightiest duke of the Occident to be her saviour, and to assume the leadership of a crusade in her behalf against the encroaching Turk.[2]

Philip was ready to give heed to the prayer. Whatever the exact sequence of his plans in relation to the court revels, the result was that his own banquet was utilised as a proper occasion for blazoning forth to the world with a flourish of trumpets his august intention of dislodging the invader from the ancient capital of the Eastern empire.

The superintendence of the arrangements for this all-eclipsing fete was entrusted, as La Marche relates,

"to Messire Jehan, Seigneur de Lannoy, Knight of the Golden Fleece, and a skilful ingenious gentleman, and to one Squire Jehan Boudault, a notable and discreet man. And the duke honoured me so far that he desired me to be consulted. Several councils were held for the matter to which the chancellor and the first chamberlain were invited. The latter had just returned from the war in Luxemburg already described.

"These council meetings were very important and very private, and after discussion it was decided what ceremonies and mysteries were to be presented. The duke desired that I should personate the character of Holy Church of which he wished to make use at this assembly."

As in many half amateur affairs the preparations took more time than was expected. At the first date set, all was not in readiness and the performance was postponed until February 17th. This entailed serious loss upon the provision merchants and they received compensation for the spoiled birds and other perishable edibles.[4]

The gala-day opened with a tournament at which Adolph of Cleves again sported as Knight of the Swan to the applause of the onlookers. After the jousting, the guests adjourned to the banqueting hall, where fancy had indeed, run riot, to make ready for their admiring eyes and their sagacious palates. Entremets is the term applied to the elaborate set pieces and side-shows provided to entertain the feasters between courses, and these were on an unprecedented scale.

Three tables stood prepared respectively for the duke and his suite, for the Count of Charolais, his cousins, and their comrades, and for the knights and ladies. The first table was decorated with marvellous constructions, among which was a cruciform church whose mimic clock tower was capacious enough to hold a whole chorus of singers. The enormous pie in which twenty-eight musicians were discovered when the crust was cut may have been the original of that pasty whose opening revealed four-and-twenty blackbirds in a similar plight. Wild animals wandered gravely at a machinist's will through deep forests, but in the midst of the counterfeit brutes there was at least one live lion, for Gilles le Cat[5] received twenty shillings from the duke for the chain and locks he made to hold the savage beast fast "on the day of the said banquet."

Again there was an anchored ship, manned with a full crew and rigged completely. "I hardly think," observes La Marche, "that the greatest ship in the world has a greater number of ropes and sails."

Before the guests seated themselves they wandered around the hall and inspected the decorations one by one. Nor was their admiration exhausted when they turned to the discussion of the toothsome dainties provided for their delectation.

During the progress of the banquet, the story of Jason was enacted. Time there certainly was for the play. La Marche estimated forty-eight dishes to every course, though he qualifies his statement by the admission that his memory might be inexact. These dishes were wheeled over the tables in little chariots before each person in turn.

"Such were the mundane marvels that graced the fete," is the conclusion of La Marche's[6] exhaustive enumeration of the masterpieces from artists' workshops and ducal kitchen.

"I will leave them now to record a pity moving entremets which seemed to be more special than the others. Through the portal whence the previous actors had made their entrance, came a giant larger without artifice than any I had ever seen, clad in a long green silk robe, a turban on his head like a Saracen in Granada. His left hand held a great, old-fashioned two-bladed axe, his right hand led an elephant covered with silk. On its back was a castle wherein sat a lady looking like a nun, wearing a mantle of black cloth and a white head-dress like a recluse.[7]

"Once within the hall and in sight of the noble company, like one who had work before her, she said to the giant, her conductor:

"'Giant, prithee let me stay For I spy a noble throng To whom I wish to speak.'

"At these words her guide conducted his charge before the ducal table and there she made a piteous appeal to all assembled to come to rescue her, Holy Church, fallen into the hands of unbelieving miscreants. As soon as she ceased speaking a body of officers entered the hall, Toison d'Or, king-at-arms, bringing up the rear. This last carried a live pheasant ornamented with a rich collar of gold studded with jewels. Toison d'Or was followed by two maidens, Mademoiselle Yolande, bastard daughter of the duke, and Isabelle of Neufchatel, escorted by two gentlemen of the Order. They all proceeded to the host. After greetings, Toison d'Or then said:

"'High and puissant prince and my redoubtable lord, here are ladies who recommend themselves very humbly to you because it is, and has been, the custom at great feasts and noble assemblies to present to the lords and nobles a peacock or some other noble bird whereon useful and valid vows may be made. I am sent hither with these two demoiselles to present to you this noble pheasant, praying you to remember them.'

"When these words were said, Monseigneur the duke, who knew for what purpose he had given the banquet, looked at the personified Church, and then, as though in pity for her stress, drew from his bosom a document containing his vow to succour Christianity, as will appear later. The Church manifested her joy, and seeing that my said seigneur had given his vow to Toison d'Or, she again burst forth forth into rhyme:

"'God be praised and highly served By thee, my son, the foremost peer in France. Thy sumptuous bearing have I close observed Until it seemed thou wert reserved To bring me my deliverance. Near and far I seek alliance And pray to God to grant thee grace To work His pleasure in thy place.

"'0 every prince and noble, man and knight, Ye see your master pledged to worthy deed. Abandon ease, abjure delight, Lift up your hand, each in his right, Offer God the savings from thy greed. I take my leave, imploring each, indeed, To risk his life for Christian gain, To serve his God and 'suage my pain.'

"At this the giant led off the elephant and departed by the same way in which he had entered.

"When I had seen this entremets, that is, the Church and a castle on the back of such a strange beast, I pondered as to whether I could understand what it meant and could not make it out otherwise except that she had brought this beast, rare among us, in sign that she toiled and laboured in great adversity in the region of Constantinople, whose trials we know, and the castle in which she was signified Faith. Moreover, because this lady was conducted by this mighty giant, armed, I inferred that she wished to denote her dread of the Turkish arms which had chased her away and sought her destruction.

"As soon as this play was played out, the noble gentlemen, moved by pity and compassion, hastened to make vows, each in his own fashion."

The vow of the Count of Charolais was as follows: "I swear to God my creator, and to His glorious mother, to the ladies and to the pheasant, that, if my very redoubtable lord and father embark on this holy journey, and if it be his pleasure that I accompany him, I will go and will serve him as well as I can and know how to do."

Other vows were less simple: all kinds of fantastic conditions being appended according to individual fancy. One gentleman decided never to go to bed on a Saturday until his pledge were accomplished. Another that he would eat nothing on Fridays that had ever lived until he had had an opportunity of meeting the enemy hand to hand, and of attacking, at peril of his life, the banner of the Grand Turk.

Philip Pot vowed never to sit at table on a Tuesday and to wear no protection on his right arm. This last the duke refused to permit. Hugues de Longueval vowed that when he had once turned his face to the East he would abstain from wine until he had plunged his sword in an infidel's blood, and that he would devote two years to the crusade even if he had to remain all alone, provided Constantinople were not recovered. Louis de Chevelast swore that no covering should protect his head until he had come to within four leagues of the infidels, and that he would fight a Turk on foot with nothing on his arm but a glove. There was the same emulation in the vows as in the banquets and many of the self-imposed penalties were as bizarre as the side-shows.

There were so many chevaliers eager to bind themselves to the enterprise that the prolonged ceremony threatened to become tedious. The duke, therefore, declared that the morrow would be equally valid as the day.[8]

The Count of St. Pol was the only knight present who made his going dependent on the consent of the King of France, a condition very displeasing to his liege lord of Burgundy.]

"To abridge my tale [continues La Marche], the banquet was finished and the cloth removed and every one began to walk around the room. To me it seemed like a dream, for, of all the decorations, soon nothing remained but the crystal fountain. When there was no further spectacle to distract me, then my understanding began to work and various considerations touching this business came into my mind. First, I pondered upon the outrageous excess and great expense incurred in a brief space by these banquets, for this fashion of progressive entertainments, with the hosts designated by chaplets, had lasted a long time. All had tried to outshine their predecessors, and all, especially my said lord, had spent so much that I considered the whole thing outrageous and without any justification for the expense, except as regarded the entremets of the Church and the vows. Even that seemed to me too lightly treated for an important enterprise.

"Meditating thus I found myself by chance near a gentleman, councillor and chamberlain, who was in my lord's confidence and with whom I had some acquaintance. To him I imparted my thoughts in the course of a friendly chat and his comment was as follows:

"'My friend, I know positively that these chaplet entertainments would never have occurred except by the secret desire of the duke to lead up to this very banquet where he hoped to achieve a holy purpose and to resist the enemies of our faith. It is three years now since the distress of our Church was presented to the Knights of the Golden Fleece at Mons. My lord there dedicated his person and his wealth to her service. Since then occurred the rebellion of Ghent, which entailed upon him a loss of time and money. Thanks be to God, he has attained there a good and honourable peace, as every one knows. Now it has chanced that, during this very period, the Turks have encroached on Christianity still further in their capture of Constantinople. The need of succour is very pressing and all that you have witnessed to-day is proof that the good duke is intent on the weal of Christendom.'"

During the progress of this conversation, a new company was ushered into the hall, preceded by musicians. Here came Grace Dieu, clad as a nun followed by twelve knights dressed in grey and black velvet ornamented with jewels. Not alone did they come. Each gentleman escorted a dame wearing a coat of satin cramoisy over a fur-edged round skirt a la Portuguaise. Grace Dieu declared in rhyme that God had heard the pious resolution of Duke Philip of Burgundy. He had forthwith sent her with her twelve attendants to promise him a happy termination to his enterprise. Her ladies, Faith, Charity, Justice, Reason, Prudence, and their sisters, were then presented to him. Grace Dieu departs alone and no sooner has she disappeared than Philip's new attributes begin to dance to add to the good cheer. Among the knights was Charles and one of his half-brothers; among the ladies was Margaret, Bastard of Burgundy, and the others were all of high birth. Not until two o'clock did the revels finally cease.

It must be noted that La Marche's reflections upon the extravagance of the entertainment occur also in Escouchy's memoirs. Probably both drew their moralising from another author. It is stated by several reputable chroniclers that Olivier de la Marche himself represented the Church. That he merely wrote her lines is far more probable. Female performers certainly appeared freely in these as in other masques, and there was no reason for putting a handsome youth in this role of the captive Church. In mentioning the plans that La Marche claims to have heard discussed in the council meeting, he says plainly that he was to play the role of Holy Church, but as he makes no further allusion to the fact, it may be dismissed as one of his careless statements.

This pompous announcement of big plans was the prelude to nothing! Yet it was by no means a farce when enacted. Philip fully intended to make this crusade the crowning event of his life, and his proceedings immediately after the great fete were all to further that end. To obtain allies abroad, to raise money at home, and to ensure a peaceful succession for his son in case of his own death in the East—such were the cares demanding the duke's attention.

The twenty-year-old Count of Charolais was entrusted with the regency for the term of his father's sojourn abroad in quest of allies, and he hastened to Holland to assume the reins of government, but he was speedily recalled to Lille to submit once more to paternal authority before being left to his own devices and to maternal bias.

For the ducal pair disagreed seriously on the subject of their son's second marriage. Isabella wished that a bride should be sought in England, and this wish was apparently echoed by Charles himself. The important topic was discussed with more or less freedom among the young courtiers, until the drift of the conversations, whose burden was wholly adverse to his own fixed purpose, came to Philip's ears, together with the information that one of his own children was among those who incited the count to independent desires about his future wife. Very stern was the duke in his reprimand to the two young men. He acknowledged that force of circumstances had once led him into friendly bonds with the foes of his own France, but never had he been "English at heart." Charles must accept his father's decision on pain of disinheritance. "As for this bastard," Philip added, turning to the other son, destitute of status in the eyes of the law, "if I find that he counsels you to oppose my will, I will have him tied up in a sack and thrown into the sea."[9]

The bride selected for the heir was Isabella of Bourbon, daughter of the duke's sister, and the betrothal was hastily made. Even the approval of the bride's parents was dispensed with. This passed the more easily as the young lady herself was conveniently present in the Burgundian court under the guardianship of her aunt, the duchess, who had superintended her education. A papal dispensation was more necessary than paternal consent, but that, too, was waived as far as the betrothal was concerned. To that extent was Philip obeyed. Then Charles returned to Holland and his father proceeded to Germany to obtain imperial co-operation in his Eastern enterprise.

The duke's departure from Lille was made very privately at five o'clock in the morning. He was off before his courtiers were aware of his last preparations. That was a surprise, but not the only one in store for those left behind. In order to save every penny for his journey, Philip ordered radical retrenchment in his household expenses. The luxurious repasts served to his retainers were abolished and all alike found themselves forced to restrict their appetites to the dainties they could purchase with the table allowance accorded them. "The court's leg is broken," said Michel, the rhetorician.[10]

In his own outlay there was no stinting; the duke's progress was pompous and stately as was his wont. As he traversed Switzerland, Berne, Zurich, and Constance asked and obtained permission to show their friendship with ceremonious receptions. Loud were the cries of "Vive Bourgogne." Equally hospitable were the German cities. Game, wine, fodder, were offered for the traveller's use at every stage, as he and his suite rode to the imperial diet.

At Ratisbon, disappointment greeted him. The emperor whom he had come so far to see in person failed to appear. Unwilling to accede to the plan of co-operation, afraid to give an open refusal, Frederic simply avoided hearing the request. Essentially lazy, he shrank from committing himself to a difficult enterprise, nor was his ambition tempted by possible glory. It had cost no pang to refuse the crown of Bohemia and Hungary. But even had he been personally ambitious he might still have been slow to lend his adherence to the duke's project, in the not unnatural dread lest the flashing renown of the greatest duke of the Occident might throw a poor emperor as ally into the shade. The very warmth of Philip's reception in Germany had chilled Frederic. From a retreat in Austria, he sent his secretary, AEneas Sylvius, to represent him at Ratisbon, a substitution far from pleasing to the visitor.

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