Front Matter France Long Ago The Gauls In France The Priests of the Gauls Sailor Stories Conquests of the Gauls Two Great Battles Caesar in Gaul Gaul under the Romans First Christian Martyrs Patron Saint of France Franks Come to Gaul The First Kings Conquests of Clovis Clotaire and His Relatives Two Rival Queens Good King Dagobert The Saracens Checked End of the Merovingians Charlemagne's Wars Charlemagne's Manners Charlemagne, Emperor Feudalism Troublesome Sons The Strassburg Oath Normans Besiege Paris Last of the Carolingians The Year One Thousand Robert's Two Wives Wealth of the Clergy The First Crusade A Love Story The Second Crusade More Crusades The Battle of Bouvines Blanche of Castile The Sixth Crusade The Reign of Louis IX Effect of the Crusades The Battle of the Spurs End of Knights Templar The Hundred Years' War The Siege of Calais The Battle of Poitiers Seven Years of Misery The Brave du Guesclin Achievements of Charles V Charles VI Misrule in France The Disgraceful Treaty Joan to the Rescue Orleans and Rheims Joan's Martyrdom Charles's Successes The Crafty King Louis XI Louis XI's Reign Achievements of Louis XI Charles VIII The Second Italian War Death of Louis XII Francis I Rivalry of Kings Achievements of Francis I End of Francis's Reign Reign of Henry II A Young King and Queen Catherine's Regency The Forced Wedding Massacre of the Huguenots Death of Charles IX An Effeminate King he Battle of Coutras The Murder of the Guises Winning a Crown Conversion of Henry IV Henry IV's Second Marriage Death of Henry IV The Minority of Louis XIII Rule of the Favorites Richelieu and Louis XIII End of Louis XIII's Reign Beginning of a Great Reign Wars of the Fronde Death of Mazarin Versailles The Iron Mask Louis XIV's Campaigns Madame de Maintenon Later Wars of Louis XIV The Spanish Succession The Age of Louis XIV

Story of Old France - Helene Guerber

Charles's Successes

When Joan breathed her last at Rouen in 1431, the English, still masters of Normandy, had already begun to be disliked there on account of the heavy taxes they kept imposing to pay for the long war. Besides, the Duke of Burgundy now began to quarrel with the English general; so in 1435, by the treaty of Arras, he became reconciled to the French king, whom he now proceeded to help against the English, his former allies.

It was shortly after this reconciliation that the infamous Isabella of Bavaria died. She was buried at St. Denis with no more ado than if she had been a common woman, although all her lifetime she had delighted in pomp and dress.

Two years later Charles VII entered Paris for the first time as its king (1437), only to find the city so waste and desolate that grass grew in some of the streets, and wolves ranged through them at night. This sight seems to have roused the king at last from his lethargy, for he now ceased to lavish all his time, attention, and money on his pleasures, and proceeded to govern with wisdom. Indeed, the end of his reign proved as beneficial to France as the beginning had been disastrous. He was greatly helped in his wise reforms by a merchant named Jacques Coeur, who had grown very rich by trading with the East, and who assisted the king not only by his advice, but also with his money whenever pressing need arose.

Charles VII, who, as we have seen, proved so ungrateful towards Joan of Arc, was equally so in regard to this merchant. He not only believed false and slanderous reports about him, but unjustly deprived him of all means to prove his innocence, and finally banished him from France, after subjecting him to all manner of humiliations. Among the articles of property confiscated from him was a beautiful building in Bourges (still known as the House of Jacques Coeur), a superb example of the architecture of the day, and of the artistic taste of the owner.

With sufficient funds, a permanent army,—which he was the first to organize, and a loyal people, Charles managed to end successfully the weary Hundred Years' War (1453), after having conquered Normandy and Guienne, the last provinces to be held by the enemy. Thus, as Joan had predicted, the English were driven out of France, which they were never again to claim as their own, although they retained possession of the city of Calais for some time longer.

This epoch had also been a troublesome one for the Church, as difficulties had arisen, and for more than threescore years there had been two great religious parties and part of the time two rival Popes. The same year that saw Joan's trial and death witnessed the convocation of a council at Basel, where an attempt was made to settle these religious disputes. Charles, who after Joan's death became quite noted as an administrator, adopted all those measures of this council which could result to his advantage, and, by what is known as the Pragmatic Sanction, secured the royal privilege of nominating candidates to the French sees, a privilege which in the hands of unscrupulous successors was responsible for many misfortunes in the Church of France.

It was during the reign of Charles VII that the art of printing was discovered (1450), and that Constantinople was taken by the Turks (1453), thus causing a great scattering of manuscript libraries and learned men, which helped greatly to further civilization and progress throughout the Western world.

Charles not only made a complete collection of all the old laws of France, but arranged that Parliaments should be instituted both at Toulouse and Grenoble, so that Frenchmen in the south should have courts near at hand for the settlement of their disputes.

Charles VII was to be duly punished for the ingratitude he showed to those who served him, by the unfilial conduct of his son, the Dauphin Louis. Not only did this prince join the nobles when they rebelled against the king's reforms in 1440, but he also headed a new revolt fifteen years later. Then fearing his father's just anger, Louis sought refuge in Burgundy, with the old enemy of his race, Duke Philip the Good.

Charles VII, who had twice succeeded in putting down serious rebellions,—thus showing the lords and people that he was truly master of his realm,—finally fell seriously ill. In his weakness, he imagined that his illness was due to an attempt on his son's part to poison him, so refusing all food, he died miserably, having reigned thirty-nine eventful years. During the first few years, as we have seen, he nearly lost the realm of his ancestors, but then he regained it slowly but surely, for Charles "the Victorious" was also "the Well-served," having been ably aided by true patriots like Joan of Arc, Dunois La Hire, and Jacques Coeur, to mention only a few of the great names of his period.