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THE

Gentleman's Magazine

DECEMBER, 1870.

SIEGES OF PARIS.

HEN Cæsar came first to Gaul, Lutece, or Paris, had

no walls, and was merely a cluster of poor huts, defended by a river that wound its way between forest

and marsh. In the great insurrection when the wild Gauls refused any longer to contribute cavalry to the Roman armies, Cæsar, before his defeat in Auvergne and his retreat to Champagne, sent Labienus, his lieutenant, to attack the Parisians. The barbarians on his approach burnt their fortresses, destroyed their bridges, forsook their woods, and encamped to the north of the town.

In the battle that ensued the Gauls were routed and their chieftain, Camulogene, slain. In 356 Julian the Apostate cleared Paris and its environs of the hordes of German barbarians who had overrun it for five years, gave the town a municipality, and built the Palais des Thermes (now the Hotel Cluny). The Roman camp then stood on part of what is now the garden of the Luxembourg.

Lutetia--the favourite city of Julian the Apostate, the pleasant capital of Roman Gaul—was much tormented by those rapacious Danes who in the ninth century came down in hungry swarms from their northern pine forests upon the unhappy countries of their choice. In 842, fresh from burning Nantes and spoiling the Saracens of Spain, the Danes rushed on Paris. The river was wider then, and as Sir F. Palgrave learnedly explains, there were but two bridges to the city island, and probably only one gate. The Palais des Thermes was still a noble structure, the great monasteries of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, St. Germain des Près, Ste. Genevieve, and St. Victor, were castellated fortresses, used as strong

VOL. VI., N.S. 1870.

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holds in such hours of need. On the approach of Regner Lodbrok and his horde, Charles the Bald concentratıd his army at St. Denis, before the Abbey (St. Germain des Près), and opposite to an island of the Seine. The Danes did not attack, but spread over the country, burning and ravaging. The frightened inhabitants abandoned Paris, and on Easter Eve the Danes entered it. The monks had fled with their shrines' relics, the citizens had borne away or hidden their valuables, so the Danes carried off only the iron gates and the roof beams of St. Germain, to show as trophies to King Eric of Denmark, and when the too free use of wine brought on dysentery in their army, they consented to depart on Charles the Bald paying them the enormous subsidy of seven thousand pounds of silver, a sum equal, say the Academicians, to 520,000 livres.

In 857, these pirates were again on the Seine. The monasteries, heretofore sacked, were now destroyed. St. Denis was burnt and a heavy ransom demanded for the Abbot, Charlemagne's grandso Notre Dame (then St. Etienne) and St. Germain des Près alone escaped. The savages also broke open the tombs of the Merovingian kings, and scattered the bones of Clovis. Even till the era of Louis XIII. a clause was retained in the Ste. Genevieve Litany, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us.”

These sea robbers came again in 885. Rollo had then reoccupied Rouen and advanced on Paris ; Sigfried leading their host of 40,000 men in boats and barges that covered the Seine for two leagues. The city was now fortified, a painted bridge stopped their vessels, and the Grand Chatelet was defended by Eudes, son of the Count of Paris. This is the defence that Ariosto has immortalised in his gay and chivalrous verse. A treaty refused, on Ste. Catherine's Day the Danes fell to it, trying to storm the Grand Chatelet, and wounding Bishop Gauzelaine. The siege lingered on for four years, but the Danes made no great way. One spring the Seine swelled ; carried off several piers of the Petit Pont, and opened a way to the Danish vessels, but Bishop Gauzelaine instantly repaired the bridge and manned an adjoining tower with twelve brave citizens of the mer. chant forces. The Danes tried in vain to burn the painted bridge with fire ships, but the Bishop sunk them; the tower however they burnt and butchered the defenders, who surrendered. Bishop Gauzelaine dying of vexation, the Emperor sent a grand army to raise the siege, but the Danes caught the leader, Count Henry, in a pitfall outside their camp and killed him. Eventually Charles came and gave them a subsidy of 1,400 silver marks and Burgundy, which had recently revolted from him. Sigfried' was soon after killed in a foray in Holland. The Parisians refusing to allow the Danes to ascend the Seine, the Lorthmen dragged their vessels round over land; and about 50 years since, says Sir F. Palgrave, a curious Danish boat, hollowed out of a single piece of timber, that had been swallowed up by the silt, was dug up near the Champ de Mars. The Danes lingered for a year or two round Paris, till every stiver of the black mail was paid.

Paris had then some little rest, nearly a century's repose, till 978 in fact, when the Emperor Otho attacked Lothaire, one of the last of the Carlovingian race, with 60,000 steadfast Germans. The French refused to fight, all except one knight, who slew a German ritter who rode up in defiance to the Chatelet gate. Enraged at this reticence, Otho ascended the heights of Montmartre, and there sang exulting hallelujahs over the city, having first ridden to the Chatelet, and contemptuously stuck his lance into the door.

The great wars between France and England in the reign of Edward III. originated in Edward's claim to the French throne on the death of Charles IV. Philip of Valois derived his title by being cousin-german to the deceased monarch, while Edward claimed it as nephew of Charles, ignoring the Salic law, which forbad women to ascend the throne, and which debarred his mother, a sister of Charles, from any right. Edward also espousing the cause of a fugitive Count of Artois, and of Artevelt the rebel brewer of Ghent, an enemy of France, furnished fresh causes of quarrel where none were needed. As a climax to these sources of hatred, King Edward added this also, that the Emperor Louis at a diet at Coblentz put Philip under the ban, and appointed Edward vicar for all lands held by France on the left bank of the Rhine. Chivalrous Sir Walter Manny broke the first spear by attacking Mortaigne, the French retaliated by landing at Southampton and pillaging the town. About St. John the Baptist's Day, 1346, says Froissart, King Edward, leaving his brave wife in the care of her cousin, the Earl of Kent, embarked with his men-at-arms and archers at Southampton. The English were to have landed in Gascony, but afterwards decided on Normandy, as being fuller of rich towns and handsome castles. Our army landed at La Hogue, and took Caen, sacking the place and obtaining great plunder of rich robes, jewels, and gold and silver plate. The English then took Louviers and burnt Gisors, Mantes, and Meulan, and pushed forward to Poissy, only seven leagues from Paris. The bridge here being broken down, the patient army remained five days while it was repairing, our knights in the meantime solacing themselves by burning St. Germain-en-Laye, five leagues from Paris, St. Cloud, Boulogne

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