Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

throwing the remaining power of the Saracens in Spain. Two candidates then contended for the throne of that country ;-Henry, surnamed Transtamare, and Don Pedro, or Peter the Cruel. The French King, agreeably to Duguesclin's proposition, adopted the side of the former ; but the Black Prince of England and his martial father at first ranged themselves on that of the latter. With foes thus redoubted to meet, the Grand Companies commenced their march to Avignon : but they immediately got embroiled with the Pope, of whom, as representative of the Roman Empire, it was then the seat. With more consistency to their former predatory character than respect for his Holiness, they demanded to be relieved from the ban of excommunication, under which they laboured, and to be favoured with two hundred thousand francs, for the purpose of assisting them on their journey. The Holy Father offered to concede the one, but he evinced not the expected disposition to comply with the other. Yet the money, still more than the benediction, was an object of necessity to the soldiers. Rejecting the offer of being received into communion, therefore, they furiously assailed the city, and committed such excesses that the anathema of excommunication, which had been in the first instance withdrawn, was speedily reimposed. The church, however, found it vain to contend with such unruly warriors; and the pontiff having, by way of compromise, consented to give absolution and a hundred thousand francs, they proceeded on their march to the south. Entering Arragon, they continued their progress to Castile ; and after a short but decisive encounter with Peter, they invested Henry with the thrones of Castile, Leon, and Seville, driving his rival to seek refuge in Portugal, and finally crowning the other at Burgos.

Duguesclin, on the termination of this short but decisive campaign, returned to France with the title of Duke of Molines, bestowed on him by the new Spanish sovereign; but he had not long reposed on his laurels, when the Black Prince, with the scarcely less redoubtable Chandos, penetrated into the Peninsula and overturned all. In less time than Duguesclin had raised him, Henry was precipitated from his throne, and Peter elevated in his stead. Duguesclin no sooner learned the intelligence, than with ten thousand men he burst the passes of the Pyrenees, and came up with Henry just as he was upon the point of engaging the enemy at Navarette. Both armies were about equal in number, and are said to have amounted to two hundred thousand in all ; but the French were exhausted by their march, and their Spanish allies not equipped like their opposers. Above all, the dreaded leaders of England were present ; and Duguesclin consequently attempted to dissuade the Spanish sovereign from an encounter. Henry, however, persisted ; and that decisive action was fought. Duguesclin's anticipations were realized. The new sovereign was defeated; and Duguesclin with difficulty escaped being cut down in the sanguinary cry which arose from his opponent:-“No quarter to Duguesclin.” The Black Prince, riding up at this moment, saved him from slaughter, and Duguesclin found himself a prisoner in the hands of the English. Yet he had not escaped from danger. The savage Peter made an attempt to assassinate him on entering the victor's tent; and, foiled in this, he made a still more atrocious offer for his head, which Edward magnanimously spurned. But the English king had not the generosity to treat his prisoner with clemency : Duguesclin being conducted to a prison in Bordeaux, while Henry was constrained to seek refuge in France.

As a matter of course, all the recent acquisitions fell to the share of the victor. Peter was inmediately installed in the government of Seville, Cordova, and Toledo, but he suon disgusted the Black Prince by his perfidy. This had the effect of facilitating Duguesclin's restoration to libertv, independently of the high impression which his lofty character bad made on the chivalrous Prince. We accordingly find Edward, after a short parley, consenting to his liberation on payment of a hundred francs ; but some disparaging words added on the smallness of the ransom, caused Duguesclin himself to insist that it should be rised to seventy thousand golden florins; the Princess of Wales, however, con. tributed thirty thousand of the amount, with a view of expressing her honourable estimation of the prisoner; and a chronicler of the period adds, that, had the French nobles permitted it, the whole ransom would readily have been paid by members of the English court; but Duguesclin's friends interposed, and enabled him quickly to return to Paris, and thence to the seat of hostilities in Spain, where he arrived at the critical moment of an impending action between Henry and Peter, the former of whom had been enabled by the French king's aid to renew the combat, while the other had called in the assistance of the Sanccns from the southern shores of the country. The belligerents had previously been equal in resources and success, but the balance was thus turned on llenry's side. Duguesclin defeated first the Moorish sovereigns, or chiefs, who had arrived to Peter's aid, and, afterwards, the usurper himself, whom he took prisoner in the action. The fury of Petor on his capture transcended all bounds. Previously remarkable for his virulence to Duguesclin, his ferocity burst forth on meeting him in Henry's tent; and having atteinpted treacherously to stab him, he was struck down, mortally wounded, by his indignant captor. With his death terminated the war in Spain, and Duguesclin returned to France, where his presence was again required by the never-ccasing hostilities between that country and England. Charles V'. had summoned Edward, as a vassal, to yield allegiance for the lands he held, and the province of Guienne, on his refusal, was immicdiately stirred to revolt against his lofty son. Duguesclin, who had been appointed Constable in his absence, “as the greatest warrior of his time," accordingly, no sooner arrived, than he found himself in collision with his former foes, and on the present occasion, he fought with more than his former success The English were quickly expelled from their hereditary province of Normandy ; and Duguesclin, thence returning to Paris to stand godfather to one of the Princes (a high honour for a subject in those days.) pased on to Guienne, which, along with Poitou, the Limousin, and adjoining province, he speedily reduced as well as repressed the civil war in Bretagne, where the Duke of Montfort, in conjunction with the English, had raised the standard of revolt. It was after the repression of this struggle that the terrible retreat of the English and their ally, so memorable in history, took place. Of its horrors it would be beyond our province to furnish even an outline. Suffice it to say, that out of an army sixty thousand strong, scarcely a tenth reached Bordeaux; the others having fallen by the way victims to hunger, despair, and the sword of the pursuer, who eventually constrained Montfort to sue for peace, and consent to the annexation of Bretagne to France.

The annexed province, however, soon revolted, excited by attachment to its formur lond, and also, it was surinisd, by the arts of the English:and now the gloomy era of Duguesclin's career begins. Having been sent to repress the disturbances, his natural clemency induced him to dea. lightly with the vanquished ; and this compassion gave rise to calumny and suspicion at the head-quarters of the French court. His traducers represented him as in league with the former duke ; and Duguesclin, now old and wearied, was so humiliated on learning that Charles, who owed him so much, had leant ear to these aspersions, that he threw up his command and the Constable's sword in disgust, and made a vow of retiring to Spain, swearing never to resume them. Before quitting, he wrote a letter, equally tender and magnanimous to Charles, asseverating, upon the sword lately relinquished, that he had never swerved from duty; and Charles seems to have relented, or become conscious of his innocence, as emissaries of the highest rank were dispatched to him, entreating that he would resume the distinction and command. With the former request he appears to have complied, but no solicitations could induce him to yield the other. He persisted in his resolutions to join the standard of Henry, his old companion in Spain, and journeyed southwards by gentle stages, with the design of meeting him. Age and fatigue, however, had now debilitated his frame ; and finding his end drew nigh he halted at Ran. dam, in order that he might once more breathe the air of war, and assist the Marquis of Sancerre in conducting its siege.

The operations proceeded, inspired by his presence. But camps and courts with him were now alike at an end. Each day increased his debility, and on the 12th of July, 1380, a tender parting with his old sword and comrades took place. The enemy agreed to capitulate next day ; but this day witnessed the conclusion of Duguesclin's career; and a scene equally impressive and unprecedented followed. The governor and garrison refused to surrender, on the plea that they had yielded only to Duguesclin, and that he was no longer living. It soon transpired, how. ever, that this arose from no breach of faith or latent perfidy ; for the following morn beheld the commander and the whole of his troops sally out in solemn array, to surrender the keys of the city on Duguesclin's tomb, s in order," as they said, “that he might triumph even when dead." His remains were reconducted to the metropolis, and the provinces through which they passed, received them with equal honour; the King finally, as was supposed, paying them the last compliment of all, by ordering their interment in the royal vault of St. Denis, adjoining a tomb designed for himself, amid the sovereigns of France.

The great captains of France testified their sense of his merits, by long refusing the constable's sword, vacant on his demise,—which Clisson, at last, was induced to accept; and posterity has confirmed their judgment. Of the warriors of those ages, indeed, few seem to have equalled, and none surpassed him. Humane, generous, and modest, he recalls to recollection Desaix in later times. He was not merely a soldier, but, like Turenne, a great captain : and if inferior to this celebrated leader in strategy, it was merely because he lived in an earlier era, when the art of war was in its infancy. Beloved by his troops, like those two great generals, he possessed qualities which rendered him an object of respect to contemporaneous foes, and are yet a subject for eulogy. He is one of the few heroes of the period who are now remembered ; and that less on account of being one of the first to introduce science into war, substitute able marches, methodic positions, and regular maneuvres, for the previously predominating brute violence, than for the lofty, chivalrous and equitable bearing which marked his conduct.

· J. *

III.-SPINOLA.

“ THERE were but three intuitive conquerors," said Napoleon-"Alexander, Spinola, and Condé." All the others on record had either progressively developed their capacity, or been trained to the art of war. But those at once started into the rank of great commanders, and seemed to have been designed by nature for the distinction.

AMBROISE SPINOLA, the second of this trio, descended from an ancient Italian family which had long been identified with a small town or ham. let of the name on the confines of Montferrat and the Milanese territories; but the branch of it from which he sprang had been established in Genoa since the twelfth or thirteenth century, when Obert de Spinola received the name of Captain or Preserver of Genoese Liberty, in consequence of having quelled å formidable insurrection against it in the year 1270. After that period, however, until the sixteenth century, when, in 1571, Ambroise was born, it was chiefly engaged in commercial pursuits, and one of the most distinguished of those princely mercantile houses which then maintained the rank and opulence of Italy, and carried its fame, in the persons of such families as the Medicis, to a point which no succeeding age perhaps has equalled, and assuredly not surpassed.

The house of Spinola was one of the most considerable of these for wealth, and Ambroise was destined to maintain its consequence, when his elder brother, Frederick, led away by a thirst for glory, suddenly exchanged the pursuit of wealth for war. In the midst of these pacific avocations, indeed, the family of Spinola appear always to have retained their old, or martial, predilections. The grandame of our hero had been noted for a romantic attachment to Louis the Twelfth of France, for whose cause she sacrificed fortune, and ultimately life; and by a like impulse his elder brother was now led to embark the riches of the house in equipping six galleys for the service of Philip the Third of Spain. His success was so great, that he speedily communicated his ardour to Ambroise, although the latter had now passed his thirtieth year, and been remarkable for no characteristic beyond devotion to the study of a few ancient classics. The art of war, however, had engaged his attention so far as it can be inculcated by theories ; and hence, when he joined, he was not ignorant of its principles, though utterly unacquainted with its practice. Between them, the brothers raised and equipped a force of nine thousand men--a circumstance which may impress us with an idea of their wealth, as it must have cost them at least £80,000 of our present money, equal to at least thrice the amount in that day—and with the command of it, in two divisions, Ambroise, in May 1602, set out from Milan to support the cause of Philip in the Netherlands. The Spanish king's affairs were then all but desperate. The States of Holland, long in revolt, had reduced his arms to extremity, and his troops were on the point of disbanding, or joining the enemy, when Spinola (as we shall henceforth name Ambroise) arrived, by a rapid and able march through Italy, Switzerland, and Franche-Compté, at the head-quarters of the Archduke Albert. He immediately engaged to pay the troops for three · years-a debt apparently never repaid-and thus at once became the master of a considerable Spanish army, opposed to Prince Maurice of Nassau, who, in behalf of the States, had arrived with the force of

vol. V., no. XXI.

twenty-four thousand men to raise the siege of Ostend, which, for more than a year, had been invested by the troops of Spain. Spinola, by the ability of his arrangements, prevented the accomplishment of this object; but he could not interrupt him from assailing and taking Gavre, in Brabant, though, by the rapidity of his movements and the variety of his manæuvres, he precluded him, with forces far superior, from reaping any other decisive advantage.

Yet defeat, or at least a check, on the whole, characterised the first action of Spinola, and affairs looked still more inauspicious when he took up his position around Ostend. All the troops of the Spanish king, except Spinola's, were there openly in mutiny, and intelligence about the same time arrived that his brother Frederick had been slain in a naval engagement. Philip, on learning the catastrophe, offered the post of Grand Admiral to Spinola; but, though great commands by sea and land were then held in common, Spinola seems to have discerned their incompatibility, and he accordingly refused it. He received instead the appointment of General-in-Chief of the Spanish forces in the Netherlands, with special instructions to complete the siege of Ostend, which had now been protracted to such a period as to compromise the reputation of Spain, and excite the astonishment of Europe. The task, however, was not easy. The city, strong by position, was rendered almost impregnable by art, and one of the most courageous garrisons on record defended the walls. Murmurs, too, broke out amongst the Spaniards at Spinola's elevation, and it was only by the summary process of breaking at once two hundred officers, that he quelled a mutiny which might have been fatal to his power. He at the same time, from his own resources, discharged the arrears of the soldiers; and having thus, by his firmness and liberality, quelled the revolt, he led the troops to the beleaguered city; and they ever afterwards followed him with the same devotion as his own adherents. With vehemence unprecedented the operations were renewed, and, in spite of strenuous efforts by the Prince of Nassau, who arrived with a large force to interrupt him, the city at last was taken on the 14th of September, 1604, after having stood for three years a siege which had proved fatal to a hundred and thirty thousand men, and given rise to an expenditure of eight hundred thousand shots, many of them so large and unintermittent that their discharge is said to have been heard in London.

During the course of this siege, or immediately after it Spinola fought no less than fifteen actions with the er:emy, in all of which he was victorivus; but into the details of these it would be vain now to follow him. On their conclusion he was summoned by Philip to the Court of Madrid ; and, proceeding by Paris, obtained a distinguished reception from a congenial hero, Henry the Fourth, who then sat on the throne of France. Henry, however, was not negligent of either his own or his country's interest amidst all his romance. He was already secretly dallying with the Dutch, and the next year he surmised might see him arrayed in their alliance against Spain. With much shrewdness, therefore, he now endeavoured to ascertain Spinola's designs; inferring --but as it proved, erroneously—that the great leader would disclose the very opposite of what he intended to practice. Spinola, with penetration deeper still, detected and baffled the manæuvre. With apparent simplicity, but cal. culation profound, he luminously developed the great features of his next

« ElőzőTovább »