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

How Stephen Marcel Would Have Betrayed Paris
John II (The Good) [1350-1364]

Charles of Navarre (the Bad), who you remember had been put in prison by John, had by his time escaped. He was as much a scoundrel and traitor as ever. And in those days of terrible confusion and distress he joined in turn whichever side seemed likely to serve his own ends. He made friends with the Jacques, and betrayed them, putting their leader to death with most frightful cruelty. He made friends with Marcel, he made friends with the Dauphin, and betrayed them both. All he wanted was to make himself King of France, and he cared not what means he used.

Marcel had trusted in the help of the peasants, and they were slaughtered and hunted like wild beasts. Now he put his faith in Charles the Bad. The Dauphin was at the gates of Paris. So Marcel begged Charles to go out and drive him away.

Charles went, but instead of fighting the Dauphin he made a league with him, promising to deliver up to him both Paris and Marcel. When Charles and his men returned to the City, having done nothing, the citizens suspected him of treachery and drove him out.

Marcel, too, suspected him, but he felt that without his aid his own cause was lost. For already the people of Paris had lost confidence in him, and many were willing again to submit to the Dauphin. Rather than do that Marcel plotted with Charles. He promised to open the gates of Paris to him, and to mark all the houses in which his enemies lived. And when Charles was once master of Paris, and his enemies had all been killed. he promised to proclaim him King of France.

Thus Stephen Marcel, who had loved his country and his town, ended by betraying both. He had begun with high desires. He had wished to free his people, and curb the too great power of the King. He failed, and became a traitor.

All was ready. But on the very day upon which Marcel had agreed to betray the town the plot was discovered by John Maillart, one of the chief citizens. Quickly arming himself, and gathering his friends about him, he hurried to the gate. For with many others of the citizens he felt that if yield he must he would rather yield to the Dauphin than to Charles the Bad. As the hour of midnight struck with slow deep tones on the great town clock Maillart and his men reached the gate. There already stood Marcel with the keys in his hand.

"Stephen, Stephen" cried Maillart, "what do you here at this hour?"

"John," replied Marcel, "what is that to you? I am here to guard the town of which I have the governing."

"By heaven," said John, "you do not so! You are not here at this hour for any good. That may well be seen by the keys in your hands. I think it is to betray the town that you are come."

"John, you lie falsely!"

"By heaven, traitor, it is you who lie!" returned Maillart, and as he said the words he struck Marcel in the face.

Then turning to his companions he pointed to Marcel and his men, crying, "Kill them, for they are traitors!"

Quickly Maillart's men set upon those of Marcel. Marcel tried to flee, but he could not, for he was surrounded on every side. With his own hand John Maillart struck him so that he fell dead to the ground. Yet once these two had been loving friends.

The fight thus begun went on until all Marcel's followers were killed or taken prisoner. The whole night long the city was in uproar and confusion, for the poor people hardly knew what was happening. But the next morning all the red and blue hoods had vanished, and the following evening the Dauphin rode once more into Paris.

The revolt of the people was over. Their attempt to put some check on the unlimited power of their kings had ended in utter failure. This was partly owing to Marcel having taken as a friend such a selfish traitor as Charles the Bad. Partly because neither Marcel nor the people really knew how to use the power they had fought for.

But although the civil war was at an end there was still Charles the Bad to fight. And for a year longer the war with him lasted. Then Charles the Dauphin and Charles of Navarre made peace.

King John was all this time a prisoner in England. And although he was treated as an honored guest rather than as a prisoner he had grown tired of his splendid exile. So he now made a treaty with Edward giving up to him the better half of France in return for his freedom. When, however, the Dauphin heard of this treaty he utterly refused to agree to it. Not even to free his father would he consent to the loss of half of his kingdom.

But Edward meant to force the Dauphin to yield, and he once more invaded France. The Dauphin had hardly any soldiers, so he avoided a battle. He fortified the towns, and left Edward free to march through the barren, deserted land, already wasted to the utmost by fire and sword. The nobles shut themselves into their strong castles, the townsfolk into their walled cities, and it was upon the peasants again that the misery fell.

But at length Edward grew tired of this sort of warfare which brought him little glory and much loss. He made peace with the Dauphin. This peace was called the Treaty of Bretigny. By it Edward's right to a large part of France was acknowledged. For himself and his son he gave up his claim to the French crown, and in return for a huge sum of money consented to set King John free.

So after four years' imprisonment King John once more returned to France, where he was received with great joy. But three years later one of his sons, who had promised to remain with the King of England until the whole of his father's ransom had been paid, grew tired of living in exile and ran away.

John, who was a true knight if not a great King, was deeply grieved at this. He felt that it was a slur upon his honor and he returned to England. Edward received him as a friend, and made great feasting and rejoicing at his return. In the midst of this display and splendor King John fell ill and died.

He was buried very splendidly in St. Paul's, but a few years later his body was taken to France and buried in the abbey of St. Denis.