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ico Sforza, duke of Milan, and by some romantic hope of overthrowing the Turkish empire. A French army crossed the Alps (A. D. 1494), and marched through the penir sula without encountering any effective
position. Rome, Florence, and Naples, submitted to the conqueror, and Ferdinand II. fled to the island of Ischia. But during the progress of the expedition, a league was formed for the expulsion of all foreigners from Italy; the Venetian republic was the moving power of the confederacy, in which the pope and even Sforza were associated, while the emperor Maximilian, and Ferdinand of Spain, secretly favored its designs. Alarmed by the coming danger, Charles, leaving half his army to protect his conquests, led the remainder back to France. He encountered the Venetians on his road, and gained a complete victory; but the forces he left in Italy were compelled to capitulate, and Ferdinand II. was restored to the throne of Naples.
Charles VIII. was bent on vengeance, and the distracted state of the peninsula gave him hope of success; but before he could complete his arrangements for a second expedition, he was snatched away by a sudden death (A. D. 1498). The duke of Orleans, Louis XII., in addition to his cousin's claims on Naples, inherited from his grandmother a title to the dutchy of Milan. But the French monarch, before undertaking such an extensive conquest, deemed it necessary to strengthen himself by alliances with the republic of Venice, Pope Alexander VI., and Ferdinand, king of Spain. Thus strengthened, he found little difficulty in overrunning Italy; Milan was captured (A. D. 1499), and the turbulent Sforza, after vain attempts to re-establish his power, died in captivity. Naples was next attacked; Ferdinand of Spain had entered into alliance with the Neapolitan monarch Frederick ; and his invader, Louis, secretly determined to cheat both. By his aid the kingdom of Naples was subdued, and the dupe Frederic imprisoned for life (A. D. 1501); but no sooner was the conquest completed, than the Spaniard prepared to secure the whole of the spoil. Aided by the abilities of Gonsalvo de Cordova, Ferdinand succeeded in expelling the French from Naples ; and the kingdom was finally confirmed to him on his marriage with Germaine de Foix, niece of Louis XII., with whom the French monarch on the receipt of a million of ducats, assigned over his claims on Naples as a dowry (A. D. 1505).
Italy, however, was soon destined to have its tranquillity disturbed by the grasping ambition of Pope Julius II. Anxious to recover the dependencies of the holy see which had been seized by Venice, he organized a confederacy against that republic, of which he was himself the head; while Louis, Maximilian, and Ferdinand, were active members (A. D. 1509). The republic would have been ruined, had the union of the confederates been sincere and permanent; but, owing to the mutual jealousies of its enemies, it escaped when brought to the verge of destruction. The impetuous valor of the French disconcerted all the measures the Venetians had taken to preserve their territories; and the total ruin of their army at Aguadello (A. D. 1509), left them wholly without defence. Julius seized all the towns which they held in the ecclesiastical territories ; Ferdinand added all their seaports in Apulia to his Neapolitan dominions; but at the moment when the dismemberment of the republic seemed inevitable, the mutual jealousies of
Louis and Maximilian dissolved the confederacy. The Venetians ap peased the pope and Ferdinand, by large concessions, which were the more readily accepted, as Julius had now formed the design of expelling all foreigners from Italy, especially the French, of whose valor and ambition he was justly afraid.
From the fragments of the league of Cambray, a new and stronger confederacy was formed against France, and Henry VIII., who had just ascended the throne of England, was engaged to divert the attention of Louis from Italy, by an invasion of his dominions (A. D. 1511). The master-stroke, however, of the pope's policy was winning over the Swiss, whose mercenary infantry was the best body of troops then used
Louis XII. resisted all the efforts of this formidable conspiracy with undaunted fortitude. Hostilities were carried on during several campaigns in Italy, on the frontiers of Spain, and in Picardy, with alternate success. But weakened by the loss of his allies, Florence and Navarre, of which the former having been subjected to the Medicis, joined the league (A. D. 1512), and the latter was conquered and annexed to Spain, Louis would probably have been reduced to great distress, had not the death of Pope Julius (A. D. 1513) come to his relief. Leo, of the princely house of the Medicis, succeeded to the papacy, and immediately made peace with France. Spain, England, and the empire, followed this example, and the war terminated with the loss of everything which the French had acquired in Italy, except the castle of Milan and a few inconsiderable towns in that dutchy.
SECTION IV.- The History of Burgundy under the Princes of the House of
No feudal state was more important in the middle ages than the dutchy of Burgundy, and its history is the best calculated to illustrate the political condition of states, and the relations between powerful princes and their sovereign, produced by the institutions of feudalism. At the same time, the history of Burgundy must in some degree be regarded as an episode in the general annals of Europe, for though its existence was brilliant, it left no permanent trace behind, save the resentment between the houses of France and Austria, arising from the division of its spoils.
The dutchy of Burgundy lapsed to the crown of France soon after the liberation of King John from the captivity in which he had been detained by the English after the battle of Poictiers. He resolved to bestow this rich inheritance upon his third son, Philip, surnamed the Hardy, who had fought gallantly by his side in the unfortunate battle of Poictiers, though only sixteen years of age, and who when John was taken prisoner had accompanied him to England to share his captivity. John's bequest_was honorably executed by his son and successor, Charles V. of France ; he gave to Philip the investiture of the dutchy with all legal forms, and on the 2d of June, 1364, the new duke entered upon his inheritance; he soon afterward married the only daughter of the count of Flanders, and thus became involved in the wars which that nobleman waged against the insurgent citizens of Ghent, and at the same time he actively assisted his brother against the English.
After a long war, in which the burgesses of the free cities of Flan ders sustained with great bravery their municipal franchises against the feudal chivalry of their count and his allies, the insurgents suffered a severe defeat at Rosebecque, in which their gallant leader, the younger Artavelde, was slain. Philip took advantage of the crisis to mediate a peace between the count of Flanders and the revolted cities, which was finally concluded on very equitable conditions. When tranquillity was restored, the duke directed his whole attention to the affairs of France, and during the reign of his unfortunate nephew, Charles VI., took a principal share in the government of that kingdom. While he was thus engaged, ambassadors arrived from the king of Hungary to announce that the Turks not only menaced his territories with ruin, but avowed their determination to subdue the whole of Christendom. Sultan Bayezíd openly vaunted that his cavalry should trample on the cross in every European city, and that he would himself feed his horses on the altar of St. Peter's in Rome.
Duke Philip eagerly seconded the solicitations of the Hungarian ambassadors : under his auspices a crusade was proclaimed ; the great body of French chivalry and all the young nobility embraced the project with the greatest ardor, and the young count de Nevers, heir of Burgundy, was appointed to command the expedition (1396).
Sigismund of Luxemburg, king of Hungary, was far from being gratified by the arrival of such auxiliaries. Bayezíd, engaged in suppressing some petty insurrections in his Asiatic dominions, had concluded a truce with the Hungarians, and the prudent king was far from being disposed to revive a war with so dangerous an enemy. His remonstrances were wasted on the proud chivalry of France ; the count de Nevers at once crossed the Turkish frontier, and after capturing some places of minor importance, laid siege to Nicopolis. In the hurry of their advance the French had left their battering artillery behind ; they were therefore compelled to blockade the place in the hope of reducing it by famine.
So little vigilance was exhibited by the Christians, that the garrison of N copolis had intelligence of the near approach of Bayezid before the Christians knew that he had commenced his march. The news that the sultan was close at hand filled their camp with confusion ; the siege of Nicopolis was precipitately raised, and in the first alarm the knights massacred all their prisoners, forgetting that the chances of war might expose them to a terrible retribution. They, however, were all eager to come to an immediate engagement; the Hungarians vainly advised them not to hazard a battle until they had ascertained the number of the Turks, and the tactics which the sultan intended to employ. Some of the more aged and experienced warriors seconded this advice, but they were overborne by the clamors of the young knights, whose ardor was far too great to be moderated by prudence.
Bayezíd had arranged his troops in the form of a crescent, with the convex side turned toward the enemy: he expected thus to induce the Christians to attack his centre, by gradually withdrawing which he might reverse the form of his line, and thus getting his enemies into the concavity of the crescent, avail himself of his vast superiority of numbers to overwhelm them on both flanks. The Christians fell into the snare, and were surrounded. The Hungarian infantry, left exposed by the rapid advance of the French knights, was broken by a charge of a select body of the Turkish cavalry ; Sigismund and the grand master of Rhodes escaped in a small boat, leaving their allies to their fate; the palatine of Hungary alone remained with a small body of his countrymen to rescue the French from the consequences of their rashness.
Friends and foes have equally celebrated the desperate valor of the French knights on this fatal day. The Turks at first gave no quarter; it was late in the day before Bayezíd commanded them to make prisoners, and even then he was induced to do so by no feelings of mercy, but by his desire to have an opportunity of revenging the fate of the Turks who had been slaughtered in the camp before Nicopolis.
Bayezid recognised Sir James de Helly (one of the prisoners) as one of his old companions in arms, and ordered him to be set at liberty by his captors. He then commanded him to point out who were the greatest lords among the Christian captives, that they might be spared for the sake of their ransoms. The count de Nevers and several other princes were pointed out to the sultan as “ of the noblest blood in Trance, nearly related to the king, and willing to pay for their liberty a great sum of money." The sultan said, “Let these alone be spared, and all the other prisoners put to death, to free the country from them, and that others may take example from their fate."
Heavy taxes were laid on the states of Burgundy to raise the enormous sum which the sultan demanded as a ransom for the heir of the dutchy. To increase the difficulty of the transaction, the king of Hungary refused to allow such rich treasures to pass through his dominions for the purpose of strengthening his enemies. It was not until after the lapse of several months that a Genoese merchant, named Pellegrini, in the island of Chios, undertook to arrange the terms of ransom; and the sultan more readily accepted the security of a commercial house, which could only exist by credit, than the plighted oaths of kings and princes, which he knew were too often most flagrantly and shamelessly violated.
While the count de Nevers was thus engaged in the east, his brotherin-law, the count of Ostrerant, aided by his father, Albert, duke of Bavaria, was carrying on a war scarcely less destructive against the Fris
These barbarous tribes sent out piratical expeditions, which ravaged the coasts of Holland, Flanders, and sometimes of France; the naval forces maintained to keep them in check were found very expen sive, and not always efficacious, so that the Flemings and Hollanders supplicated their princes to attack the Frisons in their native fastnesses. An immense armament was prepared for this hazardous enterprise ; auxiliaries were obtained from England, France, and western Germany, while crowds of Hollanders and Flemings hastened to volunteer their services against enemies who had been their constant plague.
In about five weeks after the landing, winter set in with unusual severity, and at an earlier period than had been known for many years before. The duke was forced to evacuate the country and disband his army ; but about three years after he took advantage of the civil dissensions among
the Frisons to reduce the entire country to obedience. The administration of the government of France by Philip, duke of Burgundy, was on the whole advantageous to the nation. It was chiefly owing to his prudence that the insanity of Charles VI did not produce
the calamities of civil war. He had, however, one great fault ; his expenditure, both public and private, was most extravagant, and at his death his sons were forced to sell his plate in order to defray the expenses of his funeral. He died of fever (April 27th, 1404), generally regretted, for it was not dislicult to foresee the commotions that would ensue when the conduct of the state, which had taxed his talents and energies to the utmost, should be intrusted to a feebler hand.
SECTION V.-The History of Burgundy (continued). John the Fearless succeeded Philip the Hardy, and immediately began to take measure for procuring to himself the same influence in the government of France which his father had possessed; he was opposed by the queen and the duke of Orleans, who justly dreaded his ambition. In the fury of civil contest he hired assassins to murder the duke of Orleans ; and this atrocious crime was perpetrated in the very midst of Paris. Such, however, were the power of the duke and the apathy of the times, that he would probably have obtained a justification of his conduct from the court, had he not been obliged to retire to his territories to quell an insurrection of the citizens of Liege; the partisans of Orleans took advantage of his absence to raise a cry for justice, and being joined by all the enemies of Burgundy, they soon formed a very powerful faction.
The general belief that the duke had committed treason against the state, enabled the faction of Orleans to persuade the dauphin that his death was necessary for the safety of the kingdom, and to join in a perfidious plot for his assassination. Ambassadors were sent to invite John the Fearless to an interview with the dauphin on the bridge of Montereau, in order that they might in common concert measures for the defence of the kingdom. He went to the appointed rendezvous with a very scanty train, armed only with such weapons as gentlemen of the period usually wore on visits of ceremony. So soon as he came into the dauphin's presence, he took off his velvet cap, and bent his knee in token of homage ; but before he could rise, he was struck down by the axes and swords of the royal guards, and butchered with such of his tra n as had entered the saloon (A. D. 1419). "The murder of the duke of Orleans was almost the only stain upon the memory of John the Fearless ; his Flemish subjects, whose franchises he had protected, and whose trade he had fostered, were most grieved for his loss; but they respected his memory most for his having intrusted the education of his eldest son to the magistrates of the free cities, and in fact the young prince had been educated as a Fleming rather than as a Burgundian.
Philip the Good, immediately after his accession, prepared to take vengeance for the murder of his father; his Flemish education had prevented him from having any very strong sense of the feudal obligations which bound the dutchy of Burgundy to the crown of France, he therefore did not hesitate to enter into alliance with Henry V. of England, and recognised him as the legitimate heir to the crown of France, un condition that Charles VI. should not be deprived of his regal dignity during the remainder of his unhappy existence.