Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with imposts. The two brothers of Louis, Philip the Long and Charles IV., followed successively. Philip signalized himself by a number of wise regulations in the courts of justice. Charles followed his brother's steps in this particular, but the state was loaded with debts and badly governed.

Second BRANCH.--House of Valois. A. D. 1328.-Queen Jane, wife of Charles IV., being delivered of a pos. thumous daughter, the house of Valois mounted the throne, the states of France having decreed females to be incapable of inheriting the crown of France. This is called the Salic law, from its having been the practice of a tribe of Franks, called Salians, to exclude females from all inheritance to landed property. Philip IV., soon after his succesoion, defeated the Flemings, but was defeated by the English in a sea-fight near Sluys, also at Cressy and Calais. In this reign Dauphiny was annexed to the crown of France.

A. D. 1350.-John, a brave prince, but without genius or political discernment, succeeded Philip. He continued to war against England, but was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Poitiers. The kingdom became the theatre of factions and carnage, and was drained of its valuables to ransom the king. He had stipulated for the cession of one third of the kingdom, and 3,000,000 of gold crowns. Not being able to raise this enormous sum, John voluntarily returned to London, and died soon after, A. D. 1364. His son, Charles, surnamed the Wise, succeeded him. Charles V., seconded by De Guesclin, constable of France, avenged the honour of the nation, and re-established order in the state. Everything wore a new face under this king, who was wise, laborious, and economical; a friend to the arts, to letters, and to virtue.

A. D. 1380.--Charles VI. succeeded to the crown, and France, under his government, fell into great disorder. This prince having lost his reason, and recovering it at intervals, nothing decisive could be effected. The English king, Henry V., entered France, and gained the battle of Agincourt. Henry, by treaty, became heir to the crown, but died a few days before Charles VI. Henry VI. of England was crowned king of France at a very early age. His uncle, John, duke of Bedford, acted as regent, and during his life the power of the English increased in France. About this time Joan of Arc, an enthusiast in the cause of her country, reanimated the valour and patriotism of the French nation. She fought several batiles with success, but was at length taken at Compiégne, and burnt as a witch, by order of the English. [See “ENGLAND,Henry VI.] During this time, Charles VII. reigned only over a part of France. But the duke of Bedford was no sooner dead, than the duke of Burgundy became reconciled with Charles. Normandy, Guienne, and the other provinces, which nad been held by the power of the duke of Bedford, acknowledged Charles, and the English were compelled to evacuate France. - Charles VII. was succeeded by Louis XI., his rebellious son. He established the posts. He was a bad son, and as bad a father; a severe prince, but a deep politician. Some important changes in the political condition and the manners of the nation were produced in this reign. The royal power was extended and consolidated, the knights and nobles assisting in this, because i gave scope for their exploits. The gendarmerie, or body of permanent cavalry, was formed, and a corps of foot archers. Charles VIII., who succeeded him, married Anne of Brittany, thereby putting an end to the last of the great feudal fiefs of France. He restored to Ferdinand V. Cardagne and Roussillon. He was an amiable prince, and his death was con widered as a public loss.

[ocr errors]

The House of Valois-Orleans. Ai D. 1495.-Charles VIII. dying without children, Louis, duke of Or leans, descended from Charles V., obtained the crown, of which he ap. peared worthy by his good qualities and his virtues. He commenced his reign by forgiving his enemies, and befriending his people. He conquered Milan, which he afterwards lost. He made himself master of the kingdom of Naples, conjointly with the king of Arragon. He made war also against Pope Julius II. Gaston, duke of Nemours, and the chevalier Bayard, greatly distinguished themselves; but the French were obliged to quit Italy. Louis XII. acquired glory more durable, by gaining the love of his people, and by his extraordinary affability, than by his wars .

House of Valois-Angouleme. : . . A. D. 1515.- A prince of the house of Valois-Angoulême ascended the throne after the death of Louis XII., who left an only daughter, married to Francis, count of Angoulême, heir to the crown. Francis defeated the Swiss at Marignan, reunited Brittany to the crown, and conquered Lux embourg. He was the protector and the promoter of the fine arts, and a great encourager of the learned. He died with the reputation of being the most polite prince in Europe..

A. D. 1547.-Henry II. succeeded Francis. The face of affairs changed at the commencement of the reign of this prince. He joined the league of the protestant princes against the emperor, and made himself master of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. The emperor, Charles. V., besieged Metz; the duke of Guise obliged him to raise the siege, and defeated him at Renti. Henry afterwards entered into a league against the house of Austria in Spain, and Philip II. avenged the honour of the Spaniards at St. Quintin. The duke of Guise took Calais from the English, and the peace of Cateau Canbresis terminated the war. Francis II., his son, succeeded to the throne-a prince without any remarkable vices or virtues. He was married to Mary, queen of Scots, and died at the age of seventeen.

Ai D. 1560.-Francis II. was succeeded by Charles IX. The religious wars, the seeds of which had been previously sown, broke out with fury in this reign. The massacre of Vassi was the signal, and France presented nothing but one continued scene of sanguinary factions for years. The massacre of St. Bartholomew's day covered the land with the bleeding bodies of the protestants. On the eve of St. Bartholomew, orders had been sent to the governors of provinces to fall upon the protestants in every department throughout France; and though an'edict was published before the end of the week, assuring them of the king's protection, and that he by no means designed to exterminate them because of their religion, yet private orders were sent of a nature directly contrary ; in consequence of which the massacre at Paris was repeated in many of the principal towns and in the space of two months fifty thousand protestants were cruelly butchered. From the time of this most atrocious order, given by Charles himself, he was taken ill, and languished with bodily pains, until relieved by death, A. D. 1572. Charles, dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother, Henry III., who, in 1575, concluded the celebrated " edict of pacification with the protestants; the substance of which was, that liberty of conscience, and the public exercise of religion, were granted to the reformed, without any other restriction than that they should not preach within two leagues of Paris, or any other place where the court was. This edict caused the Guises to form an association called the “catholic league." This struck at the very root of the king's authority ; for as the protestants had already their chiefs, so the catho. lics were for the future to depend entirely upon the chief of the league

and execute whatever he commanded. Hence arose another persecution of the protestants, and another reconciliation. In the end, however, the king perished by assassination at the hands of a monk, in the year 1588. Before the king's death he nominated Henry of Bourbon, king of Navarre, as his successor on the throne of France.

.: THIRD BRANCH.-House of Bourbon. A. D. 1589.-Henry IV. took the title of king of France and Navarre . and his first care was to put an end to the religious disputes which had so long distracted the kingdom. For this purpose he subsequently promul. gated the celebrated edict of Nantes, which re-established all the favours that had ever been granted to the reformed by other princes. He was acknowledged by the lords of the court, but opposed by the catholic league, which set up the old cardinal of Bourbon as king, under the title of Charles X. Henry IV., with a small army' and little money, was obliged to conquer his kingdom. He raised the siege of Paris, and defeated the duke of Mayenne, at Arques and at Ivri. After this success he presented himself before Paris, and before Rouen, which places he besieged in form, but was compelled to abandon them by the duke of Parma. The duke of Mayenne assembled the states-general for the election of a king of France ; but the victory gained by Henry at Dreux, and his abjuration of the protestant religion, overthrew all their projects, and Paris and the greater part of the cities in the kingdom, submitted to his government. The duke of Mayenne retired into Burgundy; but the leaguers, supported by Spain, were still in opposition in Brittany: Henry declared war against Spain, and defeated the Spanish army at Fontaine. Francoise. With the assistance of his sagacious friend and minister, Sully, he established order in the finances, and in every department of the state ; and while intent on reducing the dangerous power of the house of Austria, and rendering still greater service to the people, he was stabbed by a fanatical priest named Ravilliac Thus fell the greatest prince ever known in France--the best and bravest of its kings.

A. D. 1610.--Louis XIII., surnamed the Just, succeeded Henry IV Being a minor, Mary de Medicis was declared regent of the kingdom, and dispensed with profusion the riches which Henry had amassed to render France powerful. The queen's favourite, a Florentine, named Concini, governed the state. The lords, dissatisfied with the pride and despotism of this stranger, took to arms; and the death of the favourite calmed the intestine division. But no sooner was Concini in his grave, than another favourite, De Luynes appeared, possessing more power, if possible, than the former. Louis banished his mother to Blois. The celebrated Riche lieu, then bishop of Lucon, effected a reconciliation between them, and received, as a reward, a cardinal's hat. The protestants, much aggrieved by the catholics, took to arms. The king marched against them, and was victorious in every quarter, except at Montaubon, from whence he was obliged to retire with great loss. The credit and ambition of Richelieu increased daily, until he was declared minister of the state. The war was renewed with the protestants, and Rochelle, the bulwark of the Calvinists, was, after a severe conflict, reduced by the king. The queen. mother, and Gaston d'Orleans, became jealous of the authority of Richelieu, and, disgusted with his pride, left the kingdom; and the duke de Montmorenci was beheaded at Toulouse. Richelieu died in the fiftyeighth year of his age, and his death was soon followed by that of the king, who was succeeded by his son. · A. D. 1543.-Louis XIV. being only six years old when his father died, che queen, Anne of Austria, was declared regent of the kingdom, and appointed Cardinal Mazarine as minister. Condé defeated the emperor at Rocroy, at Fribourg, at Nordlingen, and at Lens, and these successes

[graphic]

seconded by those of Turenne, determined the emperor to conclude peace The Spaniards still continued the war. The young king took the field in person at the head of his armies, and Stenay and Montmedi were the fruits of his first efforts for military fame. Peace was soon after con

Cardinal Mazarine, on that of the French. The cardinal died soon aster, leaving the finances in the most deranged state, and the navy nearly ruined. Louis XIV. now took the reins of government into his own hands. He thirsted for glory, and had the discernment to choose great mén as his ministers. Colbert and Louvois filled the first offices of the state. The finances, the commerce, the marine, the civil and military government, the sciences and the arts, experienced a happy change. The death of Philip IV. of Spain occasioned the renewal of war. Louis head. ed his troops, showing a great example of activity and courage ; and his conquests were the means of re-establishing peace. The success of his arms alarmed the neighbouring powers, who entered into à defensive league against France. Louis again took the field, and conquered the greater part of Holland, which he was obliged to evacuate through the firmness and intrepidity of the stadtholder, afterwards William III., king of Great Britain. The theatre of the war was soon after changed, and Franche Compté was reconquered. In the zenith of his conquests, Louis dictated the conditions of the peace of Nimeguen; but this peace was soon after infracted. The Spaniards lost Luxembourg ; Algiers, Tripoli, and Geneva were bombarded, and obtained peace by making reparation in proportion to the offences they had given. The princes of Europe formed the league of Augsburg against Louis, of which William, prince of Orange, was the soul. Louis impoliticly revoked the edict of Nantes, thereby depriving himself of the services of many thousands of his best and most useful subjects, the protestants, whom he threw into the arms of his enemies. Having so done, he marched against the allied powers. He took, in person, Mons and Namur; and under Luxembourg, Catinat, and Vendome, the French signalized themselves at Fleurus, at Steinkirk, at Neuvinde, at Barcelona, and elsewhere. James II., of England, having abdicted his throne, flew to France as an asylum; and Louis endeavoured, but in vain, to re-establish him. Peace was made at Ryswick, and Europe once more enjoyed repose. :

Peace was of short duration ; the death of Charles II. of Spain rekindled the flames of war. Philip, duke of Berri, by the will of the late king, was named heir to the Spanish throne, which he ascended by the

War was declared, and the fortune of arms appeared to have abandoned Louis, who, as well as Philip, sued for peace; but the terms offered by the allies were so hard, as to excite the indignation of the Bourbons. The war was continued, and at length terminated in favour of France, who saw Philip in peaceable possession of the crown of Spain, secured by the peace of Utrecht in 1713. Two years after, Louis died, having reigned seventy-two years. The reign of Louis XIV. has been celebrated as the era which produced everything great and noble in France. He has been held up to the world as the munificent patron of the arts, and a přince whose conceptions and plans were always grand and dignified. The true character of kings can only be justly determined by posterity, and the reputation of this celebrated monarch has not been strengthened by time. After every proper tribute of applause is rendered him, it may be asserted, that, in general, he rather displayed a preposterous vanity than true greatness of character, which has been productive of such baneful effects, that the decline of the French monarchy may said to have mainly originated from his conduct. It must be adinitted that in the earlier years of his reign, Louis was a liberal patron of letters, and many of the post celebrated writers flourished ; as Corneille and Racine, the two greatest tragic poets of France, and Moliere, the first comic writer; Boileau, the satirist; Fontaine, Fenelon, Massilon, and others. The close of the long career of Louis, once styled by the French “ the great,” was disgraced by gloomy and bigoted intolerance.

A.D. 1715.-Louis XV. succeeded his grandfather at the age of five years and a half. The regency was conferred on his uncle, the duke of Orleans, under whose auspices the unfortunate Mississippi scheme, planned by Law, a. Scotchman, took place. The king took the government upon himself at the age of fifteen, and appointed Cardinal Fleury, his preceptor, prime minister. The emperor disturbing the peace of Europe, Spain and Sardinia united with France, and declared war. The taking of Philipsburg, the victories of Parma and Placentia, and the conquests of Don Carlos, put an end to this short war, which gave Lorraine to France. The death of the Emperor Charles VI. plunged Europe again into war.. France favoured the pretensions of the elector of Bavaria. The combined armies of France and Bavaria subdued Upper Austria, and possessed themselves of Prague, where the elector was crowned king of Bohemia. But a sad reverse was soon after experienced. Austria and Bohemia were torn from Charles VII., who had been elected emperor by the assistance of France; and peace was demanded of the Hungarian queen, but refused. Louis XV., who, after the death of Cardinal Fleury, governed for some time in his own person, set four armies on foot, and marched into Flanders. He took Menin, Ypres, and Furnes; while the prince of Conti signalized himself in Italy. In the meantime Alsace was attacked; Louis flew to its assistance, and fell sick at-Mentz. As soon as his health was re-established, he beseiged Friburg, which surrendered. Several campaigns followed with various success, until peace was made at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. War recommenced in 1755, between the English and French. In Germany it was carried on with advantage to the latter. Hanover was taken, and the duke of Cumber. land made the capitulation of Closterseven disgraceful to the English. The king of Prussia defeated the French and Austrians at Rosbach, which instantly changed the face of affairs. Hanover was retaken, and the French beaten at Crevelt, by the prince of Brunswick. They were defeated at Warburg, and at Minden, by the English, who proved successful both by sea and land. Spain, alarmed at the many conquests of their arms, joined a confederacy of the princes of the house of Bourbon, known by the name of the “family compact ;" and the flame of war raged in both hemispheres, to the glory of the English nation, and the loss of the Bourbons. The peace of 1763 put an end to this war. During the interval of peace, Louis conquered Corsica, after a desperate struggle on the part of that brave people for their independence, under Pascal Paoli. He died in 1774. He was a prince of very moderate parts, and was governed in a great measure by his mistresses and favourites, who also governed France,

A. D. 1774.-Louis XVI., grandson of the last king, succeeded to the throne, and soon after his accession married Antoinette, princess of Aus. tria. : He regenerated the marine, much weakened by the successes of the English in the late war and the navy of France, in a few years after his succession, could boast of one hundred sail of the line. He assisted the Anglo-Americans to throw off the yoke of the mother country, which they effected; but it was in this war that the seeds were sown of that revolution which proved his ruin. The war of American independence had, in truth, taught the people of every country to know their power; and in France, the influence of the nobility and the crown had been annihilated by their profligacy in the preceding reign. A set of powerful but intoler ant writers had also arisen, at the head of whom were Voltaire and Rousseall, who attacked all existing institutions with a wit and eloquence that

« ZurückWeiter »