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

End of the Hundred Years' War
Charles VII (the Victorious) [1422-1461]

The King was crowned, but all was not yet done, for there still remained many English in the land. Paris was in their hands. Paris the capital must be freed, and with the same splendid courage and purpose which had led her until now, Joan marched to Paris. On the way town after town yielded to her, but Paris itself she could not take. For she was ill aided, indeed wellnigh betrayed by the languid, idle King. With a heavy heart Joan turned back from Paris.

Next spring she again led her soldiers into the field. But at the siege of Compiegne she was wounded and taken prisoner. Then for a year Joan suffered cruel imprisonments. Both the Burgundians and the English hated her. They feared her, too. She was a witch, they said, and it was from the Evil One she drew her power. So they resolved that she should die. After a long cruel and unfair trial they condemned her to death. On May 30, 1431, she was burned to death in the marketplace of Rouen.

Alas for the glorious Maid of Orleans!

Yet the King for whom Joan had worked and suffered did nothing. He raised not a finger to save her from a horrible prison and a ghastly death.

Now that the witch was dead the English and Burgundians hoped that all would go well for them. But they were mistaken. Joan they had killed, but they could not kill her work.

For in one year this simple girl changed the fate of France. She awoke in hearts of Frenchmen something unknown before—love of country—patriotism. In one year she carved for herself such a name that wherever brave deeds are told the name of Joan of Arc is known. In the heart of every true Frenchman who reads the story of Joan, must rise the cry " France forever!" And surely it may find an echo in the heart of every generous Briton. She takes so high a place among the great men and women of the world that wherever noble deeds and noble lives are held in honor the name of Joan of Arc is reverenced.

Everywhere now the English began to lose. The Burgundians, tired of the strife, made peace with King Charles, and thus the quarrels between Burgundians and Armagnacs, which for twenty-five years had torn France asunder, were at an end. The English were driven out of Paris and the King entered in triumph. And now Charles showed himself in a new light. He was no longer idle and listless, but became a wise and skillful ruler, and did much for the good of his people and country. At length in 1445 a truce with England was signed.

A few years later this truce was suddenly broken and the last campaign of the Hundred Years' War began. When it ended there remained to the English nothing of their once great French possessions save Calais.

Charles VII was the first king to have a standing army—that is, an army which was always at command. Instead of hiring a lot of soldiers when he went to war and paying them off when it was over he kept his soldiers and paid them all the year round. This was of great benefit to the country, for bands of idle soldiers no longer strayed about, a terror to peaceful folk.

Charles made many other good changes in the realm, and he found so many people willing to do his bidding and help him that he came to be called Charles the Well-served. Among those who served him best was Jacques Coeur, a wealthy merchant of Bourges. When the King was penniless, with no money to pay his soldiers to fight the English, Jacques Coeur came to him.

"Sire," he said, "all that I have is yours." So the King took Jacques's money and used it. Jacques soon rose to great power. He took charge of the money of the kingdom and made those under him give account of how it was spent. Soon the money affairs of the kingdom were in a better state than they had ever been.

But Jacques made many enemies, for the nobles hated this rich merchant who had such power with the King. They hated him because of his wealth. He had so much money that "As rich as Jacques Coeur" became a proverb. So they began to whisper all sorts of evil about him. Charles had no spark of gratitude in his being. He forsook Jacques Coeur as he had forsaken Joan of Arc. Charles believed, or pretended to believe, the evil things which were said of Jacques, and, forgetting all he owed to him, cast him into prison. For three years Jacques remained a prisoner. Then with the help of some faithful friends he escaped. He fled from the country, and two years later died in exile.

But Charles, who had shown himself so ungrateful to others, had himself to suffer from ingratitude. His last years were troubled and made bitter by the plots and revolts of his son Louis the Dauphin. Louis went against his father in every way he could, till at length Charles hated him. At length, Louis fled from his father's anger and took refuge with the Duke of Burgundy. "Ah," said Charles when he heard of it, "he has taken into his house a fox who will soon steal his chickens." By this he meant that Louis would repay the Duke's kindness with treachery.

Year by year the King's unhappiness increased. By degrees he lost faith in all his friends, and at length believed himself to be surrounded by rebels who sought to poison him. He feared poison in everything. At last he refused to eat or drink. In vain his friends told him it was madness to cause his own death by fear of dying. In vain his favorite son, Charles, tasted the food before him to prove that it held no poison. The King would listen to no one. For eight days he touched no food and at length died of starvation. He was fifty-eight and had reigned thirty-nine years. The black blot of ingratitude can never be wiped from the name of Charles VII. But apart from that he did much for this country, and left the kingdom prosperous and at peace.