Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Conquest of Aquitane 1450

Joan of ArcBut though Joan was gone, her work lasted. The Constable, Artur of Richmond, the Count of Dunois, and other brave leaders, continued to attack the English. After seventeen years' vengeance for his father's death, the Duke of Burgundy made his peace with Charles by a treaty at Arras, on condition of paying no more homage, in 1434. Bedford died soon after, and there were nothing but disputes among the English. Paris opened its gates to the king, and Charles, almost in spite of himself, was restored. An able merchant, named Jacques Cœur, lent him money which equipped his men for the recovery of Normandy, and he himself, waking into activity, took Rouen and the other cities on the coast.

By these successes Charles had recovered all, save Calais, that Henry V. or Edward III. had taken from France. But he was now able to do more. The one province of the south which the French kings had never been able to win was Guienne, the duchy on the river Garonne. Guienne had been a part of Eleanor's inheritance, and passed through her to the English kings; but though they had lost all else, the hatred of its inhabitants to the French enabled them to retain this, and Guienne had never yet passed under French rule. It was wrested, however, from Eleanor's descendants in this flood-tide of conquest. Bordeaux held out as long as it could, but Henry VI. could send no aid, and it was forced to yield. Two years later, brave old Lord Talbot led 5000 men to recover the duchy, and was gladly welcomed; but he was slain in the battle of Castillon, fighting like a lion. His two sons fell beside him, and his army was broken. Bordeaux again surrendered, and the French kings at last found themselves master of the great fief of the south. Calais was, at the close of the great Hundred Years' War, the only possession left to England south of the Channel.