Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Invasion of Henry V

All this time the war with England had smouldered on, only broken by brief truces; and when France was in this wretched state Henry V. renewed the claim of Edward III., and in 1415 landed before Harfleur. After delaying till he had taken the city, the dauphin called together the whole nobility of the kingdom, and advanced against Henry, who, like Edward III., had been obliged to leave Normandy and march towards Calais in search of supplies. The armies met at Agincourt, where, though the French greatly outnumbered the English, the skill of Henry and the folly and confusion of the dauphin's army led to a total defeat, and the captivity of half the chief men in France of the Armagnac party—among them the young Duke of Orleans. It was Henry V.'s policy to treat France, not as a conquest, but as an inheritance; and he therefore refused to let these captives be ransomed till he should have reduced the country to obedience, while he treated all the places that submitted to him with great kindness. The Duke of Burgundy held aloof from the contest, and the Armagnacs, who ruled in Paris, were too weak or too careless to send aid to Rouen, which was taken by Henry after a long siege. The Dauphin Louis died in 1417; his next brother, John, who was more inclined to Burgundy, did not survive him a year; and the third brother, Charles, a mere boy, was in the hands of the Armagnacs. In 1418 their reckless misuse of power provoked the citizens of Paris into letting in the Burgundians, when an unspeakably horrible massacre took place. Bernard of Armagnac himself was killed; his naked corpse, scored with his red cross, was dragged about the streets; and men, women, and even infants of his party were slaughtered pitilessly. Tanneguy Duchatel, one of his partisans, carried off the dauphin; but the queen, weary of Armagnac insolence, had joined the Burgundian party.

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