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obstinacy than wisdom ; the former suffered a terrible defeat at Crecy, the most glorious field ever won by English valor ; King John was taken prisoner at the battle of Poictiers. But these achievements, however glorious, could not ensure the conquest of France, the country was too large, the French nation too hostile to the invaders, and Edward's army too small for such a revolution. Both sides became weary of the contest, a treaty was concluded at Bretigni, by which several important provinces were ceded to Edward, on the condition of his renouncing his claims to the French crown (A. D. 1360). A troubled period of eight years followed, which can scarcely be called a peace, although there was a cessation from open hostilities.
There is scarcely a calamity by which a nation can be afflicted that did not visit France during this disastrous season. A foreign enemy was in the heart of the kingdom ; the seditions of the 'apital deluged its streets with blood; and a treacherous prince of the biood, Charles the Bad, king of Navarre, was in arms against the sovereign authority. Famine devastated the land, and a plague of unparalleled virulence (A. D. 1348) consummated the work of hunger and the sword nies of adventurers and mercenary troops that remamed unemployed during the truce that followed the victory of Poictiers, spread themselves over the land, in marauding troops, which there was no force to withstand. So little scrupulous were they, that they assailed the pope in Avignon, and compelled the pontisf to redeem himself by a ransom of forty thousand crowns. Finally, the peasantry of several districts, impatient of distress, and maddened by the oppressions of their lords, broke out into a fearful insurrection. This was named the Jacquerie, from the contemptuous phrase, “ Jacques bon homme," applied by the nobles to their serfs, and it was marked by all the horrors that necessarily attend a servile war, when men, brutalized by tyranny, and maddened by wrongs, seek vengeance on their oppressors.
Edward the Black Prince was intrusted by his father to the government of the French provinces. A brave and adventurous warrior, Edward was deficient in the qualities of a statesman. Having exhausted his finances by an unwise and fruitless invasion of Castile, he laid heavy taxes on his subjects, and they in anger appealed for protection to their ancien sovereigns. Charles V., who had succeeded his father John on the throne of France, gladly received this appeal, and summoned Edward to appear before him as his liege lord (4 d. 1368). Though enfeebled by sickness, the answer of the gallant prince to this summons was a declaration of war, but the tide of fortune was changed, and in a few campaigns the English lost all their acquisitions in France, with the exception of a few important seaports.
The weakness of Richard II., and the doubtful title of Henry IV. prevented the English from renewing the war with France during their reigns ; indeed they would probably have been expelled from all their continental possessions, but for the deplorable imbecility of the French monarch, Charles VI., and the sanguinary contests of the factions of Orleans and Burgundy. The English nation had been long commer cially connected with Flanders, and when that country was annexed tu the dutchy of Burgundy, provision had been made for the continuance of trade by separate truces. Encouraged by the promised neutrality if not the active co-operation of the Burgundian duke, Henry V. invaded France, and destroyed the flower of the French chivalry on the memorable field of Agincourt (A. D. 1415). The progress of the English was uninterrupted until the defection of the duke of Bnrgundy (A. D. 1419), an event which seemed to threaten Henry with ruin ; but that prince having been assassinated, his partisans in revenge joined the English, and this circumstance, combined with the unnatural hatred of the French queen Isabel to her son the dauphin, led to the treaty of Troyes, by which Henry, on condition of marrying the princess Catharine, was appointed regent of France, and heir to the unconscious Charles VI.
Notwithstanding this arrangement, Charles VII. on the death of his father, was recognised as king in the southern provinces of France, while Henry VI., the infant inheritor of the crowns of England and France, was proclaimed in the northern provinces, under the reign of his uncle, the duke of Bedford (A. D. 1422). At first the fortunes of Charles wore the most unfavorable appearance; and the siege of Orleans (A. D. 1428) threatened to deprive him of hope. A simple country girl overthrew the power of England. Joan of Arc, called also the Maid of Orleans, whether influenced by enthusiasm or imposture, it is not easy to determine, declared herself supernaturally inspired to undertake the deliverance of her country. The English felt a superstitious awe, and lost their conquests one by one, and after a protracted but feeble struggle no memorial of the victories of Edward and Henry remained but the town of Calais and an empty title (A. D. 1449). The destruction of the French nobility in this long series of wars, enabled Charles VII. to mould the government into a despotic form, which was permanently fixed by his crafty successor Louis XI. Scarcely a less important change was made in ecclesiastical affairs ; Charles VII. secured the Gallican church from any future encroachment of the holy see, by adopting several decrees of the council of Basil, which were solemnly recognised in a national assembly held at Bourges (A. D. 1438), and published under the name of the Pragmatic Sanction.
Spain, during this period, continued to be divided in several kingdoms; the Christian monarchies of Navarre, Castile, and Aragon, could not be brought to combine against the Moors, whose strength was concentrated in the province of Granada. Alphonso XI. was the only Castilian monarch who distinguished himself in war against the Mohammedans; he defeated the combined forces of the kings of Morocco and Granada, who had united to besiege Tariffa (A. D. 1340), and by this victory, not only delivered his own frontiers, but acquired several important fortresses. The power of Castile was weakened by the unexampled tyranny of Peter the Cruel. He was dethroned by his illegitimate brother, Henry, count of Trastamare, but was subsequently restored by Edward the Black Prince. Proving ungrateful to his benefactor, he provoked a second contest, in which he lost his kingdom and life. The kingdom now passed to the house of Trastamare (a. D 1368), and for a considerable period enjoyed peace and prosperity Though the kingdom of Aragon was inferior in extent to that of Castile, yet the advantages of a better government, and wiser sovereign, with those of industry and commerce, along a line of seacoast, rendered it almost equally important. The Aragonese kings acquired the kingdom of the two Sicilies, the Balearic islands, Sardinia, and the county of Barcelona, with several other Catalonian districts. They would probably have struggled for the supremacy of Spain, had not the crowns of Aragon and Castile been united by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella (A. D. 1469).
A similar event had nearly united the crowns of Castile and Portugal. Ferdinand, king of Portugal, having no male heir, wished to secure the succession for his daughter Beatrice, and married her, at the early age of eleven, to John I., king of Castile. On the death of Ferdinand, his illegitimate brother, Don Juan, commonly called John the Bastard, profiting by the national hatred between the Portuguese and Castilians, usurped the regency. A fierce war ensued, the Castilians were overthrown in the decisive battle of Aljubarota (A. D. 1385), and John was proclaimed king by the states of Portugal. The war was continued for several years, but finally a treaty was concluded, by which the Castilian monarchs resigned all claim to the inheritance of Beatrice.
Section V.-The State of England and the Northern Kingdoms in the
Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.
The inglorious reign of Edward II. in England was not on the whole unfavorable to the progress of constitutional liberty. After the weakness of the king and profligacy of his favorites had for four years disgusted the nations, the barons compelled the monarch to grant a reform of abuses in full parliament (A. D. 1311). The Great Charter was renewed, and a fresh clause added, of too much importance to be omitted even in this scanty page : “ Forasmuch as many people be aggrieved by the king's ministers against right, in respect to which grievances no one can recover without a common parliament; we do ordain that the king shall hold a parliament once in the year, or twice, if need be." But this security against mis-government proved inefficacious, the monarch was deposed, and soon after murdered (A. D. 1327). Edward III. was proclaimed king; and during his minority, the administration was intrusted to Queen Isabella. After the lapse of three years, Isabella, who had disgraced herself by a criminal intrigue with Mortimer, earl of March, was stripped of power, and her paramour beheaded.
Edward III. rendered his reign illustrious, not more by his splendid achievements in France, than by the wise laws he sanctioned in England. These, perhaps, must be ascribed less to the wisdom of the sovereign than the increasing spirit of the commons. It was during this long and prosperous reign that parliament established the three fundamental principles of our government--the illegality of raising money without the consent of parliament; the necessity of both houses concurring in any alteration of the laws; and the right of the commons to investigate public abuses, and impeach the royal ministers for mal-administration. While in the midst of victory, able to boast of his queen having conquered and captured the king of Scotland, and of his son having taken the king of France prisoner, Edward found his parliaments well-disposed to second all his efforts, and gratify all his wishes; but, when the tide of fortune turned, he had to encounte- the hostility of a constitutional opposition, at the head of which appeared the prince of Wales. On the death of the heroic Black Prince, the royal favorite the duke of Lancaster became supreme in parliament, but the fruits of the victories acquired by the patriots were not lost, the statute law of the realm was improved, the administration of justice improved, and the great security of ministerial responsibility established. English litera ture began to assume a settled form ; Chaucer, the greatest poet that modern Europe had produced, with the exception of Dante, flourished in the time of Edward ; and the language had become so far perfect, that it was resolved to have all laws written in English, instead of the Norman French, which had been used since the time of the conquest.
Richard II., son of the Black Prince, succeeded his grandfather (A. D. 1377), ere he had attained his twelfth year. The early part of his reign was troubled by the contests of his ambitious uncles for the regency, and by a dangerous insurrection of the peasants, headed by the celebrated blacksmith, Wat Tyler. About the same time, the zeal with which Wickliffe denounced the corruptions of the church, provoked the hostility of the clergy ; his doctrines were condemned by a national synod (1. D. 1382), but they had taken fast hold of the people, and some of his disciples carried them to the continent, more especially into Bohemia, where they continued to flourish in spite of persecution. The continued misgovernment of Richard provoked a revolution, while he was absent in Ireland. Henry of Lancaster, duke of Hereford, enraged at the forfeiture of his paternal estate, headed the revolt ; Richard, on his return, finding the royal cause hopeless, surrendered to his haughty cousin, and was forced to abdicate the crown (A. D. 1399).
The throne, thus vacated, was claimed by Henry, as representative of the duke of Lancaster, the third son of Edward III., but the hereditary right belonged to Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, the lineal descendant of Lionel, duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III. The Mortimer claim, at a later period, was vested by marriage in the family of York, descended from the fourth son of Edward. Henry of Lancaster, however, was the idol of the people, and the master of the parliament; his demand passed without question, and the first acts of his reign were well calculated to make the nation acquiesce in his title. The efforts of some discontented nobles to restore Richard, were crushed by the spontaneous exertions of the populace, and the death of the deposed monarch seemed to secure tranquillity. But the fourth Henry found that discontented friends were the most dangerous enemies ; the proud Percies, to whom he owed his elevation, dissatisfied with the scanty reward of their services, took up arms, and involved the country in civil war. The Percies were overthrown at Shrewsbury (A. D. 1403), but their Welsh ally, Owen Glendower, maintained a' stern resistance to the house of Lancaster for several years.
On the death of Henry IV., his son, Henry of Monmouth, ascended the throne (A. D. 1413). His dissipation in youth gave little promise of a glorious reign, but immediately after his accession he resigned all his follies, and having secured the tranquillity of England by judicious measures of reform, he revived the claims of Edward to the throne of France. The glorious battle of Agincourt left him master of the open field, the crimes and follies of the French court gave him possession of Paris; he died in the midst of victory (A. D. 1422), leaving a son only nine months old to inherit his kingdoms.
The early part of Henry VI.'s reign is occupied by the series of wars that ended in the expulsion of the English from their continental possessions. The loss of trophies so gratifying to popular vanity, alienated the affections of the nation from the house of Lancaster, and this dislike was increased by the haughtiness of Henry's queen, Margaret of Anjou, and the ambition of unprincipled favorites. Richard, duke of York, sure of succeeding to the crown, would probably not have asserted the claims of his house, but for the unexpected birth of a prince, on whose legitimacy some suspicion was thrown. Encouraged by many powerful nobles, he took up arms; the cognizance of the Yorkists was a white rose, that of the Lancastrians, a red rose, and the fierce contests that ensued are usually called the “ wars of the roses.” After a sanguinary struggle, marked by many vicissitudes of fortune, the white rose triumphed, and Edward IV., son of Richard, duke of York, became king of England (A. D. 1461). Ten years afterward, his triumph was completed, and his rights secured, by the battle of Tewkesbury, in which the Lancastrians were decisively overthrown. Edward's reign was sullied by cruelty and debauchery; after his death (A. D. 1483), the crown was usurped by Richard, duke of Gloucester, who endeavored to secure himself by the murder of his nephews. But the claims of the Lancastrian family were now revived by Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, the heir to that house by right of his mother, and a proposal, favored by the principal nobles, was made for uniting this nobleman in marriage to the princess Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV., and thus for ever extinguishing the hostility between the rival houses. At the decisive battle of Bosworth field, Richard was defeated and slain (A. D. 1485); Henry became king of England, and his marriage with Elizabeth united the rival claims of York and Lancaster in the Tudor family.
The wars excited by disputed successions in Scotland, were terminated by the transfer of the crown to the family of the Stuarts (A. D. 1371). Under this dynasty, the royal authority, which had been almost annihilated by the nobles, was greatly extended, and judicious laws enacted for restraining the turbulence of the aristocracy.
Intestine wars long harassed the northern kingdoms, but their tranquillity was restored by Queen Margaret, commonly called the Semiramis of the North, who united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, into one state, by the treaty of Calmar (A. D. 1397). The predilection shown by Margaret's successors for their Danish subjects, displeased the Swedes, and on the death of King Christopher, without issue, they separated from the union, and chose Charles VIII., one of their native nobles, to be their sovereign. The Danes conferred their crown on Christian I., count of Oldenberg (A. D. 1450), and it has ever since continued in his family.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Russia was divided into several principalities, all of which were under the Mongolian yoke, while the western provinces had the additional misery of being ravaged by the Poles and Lithuanians. A diversion in their favor was made by the Teutonic knights, who added several rich provinces to their Prus