Front Matter Gauls Defeat Romans Vercingetorix Saints of France Attila, Scourge of God Story of Clovis Sons of Clovis Mayors of the Palace Charles the Hammer Pepin the Short Charlemagne in Lombardy Defeat at Roncesvalles Emperor of the West Louis the Pious War of Three Brothers Louis the Stammerer Paris defies the Sea Kings Rollo the Viking Hugh Capet Becomes King Bishop Betrays the Duke Robert the Pious The Peace of God Harold Visits Duke William William Sails to England The Battle of Hastings Peter the Hermit First War of the Cross Louis the Fat and Laon King Fights his Vassal Second War of the Cross French Queen of England How Normandy Was Lost Albigenses War Battle of Bouvines Story of Hugh de La Marche Reign of St. Louis St. Louis's last Crusade Peter the Barber Knights vs. Weavers Pope vs. Philip the Fair Sons of Philip the Fair Philip VI vs. Flanders Battle and Plague King vs. Charles the Bad The Jacquerie Stephen Marcel Betrays Paris Charles V and du Guesclin Du Guesclin Fights for France The Madness of Charles VI The Battle of Agincourt The Maid of Orleans End of Hundred Years' War King vs. Charles the Bold Troubles of Duchess Mary Charles the Affable Knight Without Reproach Battle of the Spurs Francis I, Gentleman King King Taken Prisoner Duke of Guise Defends Metz Calais Returns to France The Riot of Amboise Huguenot and Catholic St. Bartholomew Massacre War of the Three Henries The Protestant King Edict of Nantes Reign of Favorites Taking of La Rochelle Power of the Cardinal-King Reign of Louis XIV The Man in the Iron Mask The Height of Power Edict of Nantes Revoked War of Spanish Succession

History of France - H. E. Marshall

The Battle of Agincourt and After
Charles VI (the Mad) [1380-1422]

The power was once more in the hands of the King's uncles. And for the rest of the reign the country was torn asunder by quarrels between them and their sons and the King's brother, the Duke of Orleans.

These quarrels became so bitter that at length the Duke of Burgundy, who was the youngest and most powerful of the three, caused the Duke of Orleans to be slain in the streets of Paris. So evil were the times that the Duke of Burgundy was not punished. He fled away for a time and when he returned he was received with joy by the people. But the young Duke of Orleans was eager to avenge his father's murder. So there was war between the Orleanists and the Burgundians.

The Orleanists took the name of Armagnacs from the Count of Armagnac, whose daughter the Duke had married. They wore for a badge a white scarf with a St. George's Cross, while the Burgundians wore a red scarf with a St. Andrew's Cross.

Each side tried to get possession of the King, and of his son the Dauphin, who was now supposed to govern. Now the Armagnacs were in power, now the Burgundians, but whichever was uppermost there was misery for the people. For they did little but suppress the people and kill and put to death those whom they hated. Those were sad days for France.

All this time the war with England had been carried on in a half-hearted way. But now Henry V had come to the throne. He was young and ambitious and, like Edward III, he laid claim to the crown of France, and while the French were thus quarrelling among themselves seemed to him a good time to press his claim. So he asked for the hand of the French King's daughter Catherine in marriage, a large sum of money as her dowry, and all Normandy and much of France besides.

His demands were refused; so gathering a great army he sailed over to France. He landed near Harfleur and after a month's siege took the town.

But this success was of little use to Henry. For already he had lost half of his army from wounds and sickness. He saw that it was impossible to push his conquest farther that year. So he resolved boldly to march across French land from Harfleur to Calais and there spend the winter.

It was a miserable march, for many of the men were sick, and the autumn was wet. Hungry and worn they tramped day by day through the mud and rain.

Had the French fallen on them they must surely have been cut to pieces. But day after day went past and they saw no French army. For the French nobles had been so busy with their own quarrels that they were slow in arming against the English.

But at length the two armies met near the castle of Agincourt. All that night it rained; most of the French, both men and horses, had no protection from it, and passed the night in the middle of muddy, ploughed fields. Their feet sank in the mud, while the rain beat upon them and the wind chilled them to the bone.

When morning dawned they were already exhausted. The English, on the other hand, although they were a worn and ragged, hungry company, had at least been under cover. They were dry and rested.

In those days both men and horses were covered with heavy plate armor, and now, finding it impossible to ride thus heavily weighted over the soaked fields, most of the French knights sent away their horses and resolved to fight on foot. So ankle deep in mud they stood awaiting the attack. Among them were the greatest nobles of France. In glittering array of steel, they stood, their embroidered surcoats and gay pennons making a brave show.

Against them was a mere handful of ragged, hungry men. King Henry hesitated to fight. At the last minute he sent to the French offering to make peace. The French leader said he would grant it if Henry would give up all claim to the crown. This Henry refused to do, and the battle began.

Uttering a loud cry, the English archers advanced a few steps. The French remained still.

Again the English shouted, and again advancing a few steps let fly their arrows.

Then the French horsemen advanced. But as they rode over the sticky, heavy mud, the first stumbled and fell, those who followed fell upon them, and soon the whole field was a scene of utter confusion. The English archers then threw away their bows and, seizing swords and battle-axes, rushed upon the French, slaying them at will.

The French were utterly defeated, and among the ten thousand who lay dead, eight thousand at least were of noble blood. Not even at Crecy or Poitiers had the French suffered as at Agincourt.

But even after this great victory Henry did not feel himself strong enough to enforce his claim to the French throne. So he marched on to Calais and set sail for England.

Thus once more France was left to the fight for power which raged between Burgundians and Armagnacs round its poor mad King. But Henry of England had no mind to give up his claim to the French throne, and he soon returned.

He overran Normandy, took Rouen, and was marching on Paris. Then the rival princes agreed to make friends and join against this common foe.

The Duke of Normandy, John the Fearless, was asked to meet the Dauphin, who was now of the Armagnac party. They met on a bridge across the Seine. In the middle of the bridge a pavilion had been built. Into this each of the princes entered with only a few followers.

As he came into the presence of the Dauphin John the Fearless took off his velvet cap and bent his knee. "Sire," he said, "I am come at your command. You know the desolation of the kingdom which will one day be yours. As for me, I am ready to give for it myself, and my goods, my vassals, my subjects, and my friends. Do I say well?"

"Fair Cousin," replied the Dauphin, "you say so well that no one could say better. Rise and be covered."

But soon the talk which had begun in friendly wise grew bitter. "It is time!" suddenly cried one of the Dauphin's men, and struck the Duke with his battle-axe.

The Duke fell to the ground, and soon lay dead, pierced by many wounds. All his attendants were also slain, only one escaping. Thus was the Duke of Orleans avenged.

It is not known whether or no the Dauphin knew that this murder was intended. But whether he knew or not it did his cause much harm. What neither Crecy nor Poitiers nor Agincourt had done, the murder of the Duke of Burgundy did. It gave the crown of France to the King of England. For John the Fearless left a son, afterward called Philip the Good. He was eager to avenge his father's death, so he turned to the King of England and offered to help him. The Queen, too, who was not a good woman, and hated her son, the Dauphin, offered to help Henry

The young Duke and the Queen were so powerful for the time that on May 21, 1420, the treaty of Troyes was signed. By this treaty Henry V of England married the French Princess Catherine and became Regent of France. It was arranged that as soon as Charles died Henry should become King, and that France and England should be one kingdom forever after.

So weary were the people of constant war and struggle that many of them were really glad when this wicked and foolish treaty put an end to them.

But Henry of England was never to be Henry of France; for two years later, in 1422, he died, still young and in the very height of his splendor. He left a baby boy of only nine months to succeed him.

Two months later Charles VI also died. He was but a poor mad old man, yet the people wept for him. In spite of all the miseries they had suffered during the forty-two years he had borne the empty title of King, to them he was still the Well-beloved.