These historical essays were actually an occasion for Schiller to analyze, according to his own criteria, the greatness and frailties of past rulers. This profiling of men in command and their government are dealt in essays such as: “Memorable facts about the life of Marshall of Vieilleville”, „History of the turmoil in France which preceded the ascension of Henry IV”, “The government of the Jesuits in Paraguay”, or “Overview of the most remarkable state events in the times of Emperor Frederick I”. These essays are completed with other historical fragments and articles on the subject of Universal History.
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In the history books which describe the remarkable times of Francis I, Henry II and his three sons, people rarely see the name of Marshall Vieilleville. Yet, he has very closely taken part in the greatest negotiations of his era, and an honourable place close to the great statesmen and war leaders of these times is attributed to him. Among all the contemporary historians, only Brantome gives him justice, and his testimony has even more weight as both were running after the namely goals and yet, belonged to different parties.
Vieilleville was not one of those powerful natures who can overcome great hinders through the power of their genius or their passion, and through individual, outstanding enterprises which are universal, force History to talk about them. His merits consisted in avoiding the attention which the other people are seeking, and in seeking to be in peace with everyone, rather than to be admired and liked by everyone. Vieilleville was a member of the court in the highest and most dignified sense of this word, where it means taking one of the most difficult and most glorious roles on this world. He was devoted to the throne, even if he saw the persons on the same throne changing three times, without vacillating himself, observing the same perseverance; and he knew to interact so intimately with the Prince, that his dutiful devotedness showed the warmth of personal inclination toward all the successive persons on the throne. The beautiful image of the old french nobility and chivalry was again alive in him, and he exhibited to us the standing to which he belonged in such a dignified manner, that he could make us instantly understand the excesses of the same nobility and chivalry.
He was noble, brilliant, selfless up to oblivion of his own self, serviceable to all the human beings, full of a sense of honour, faithful to his word, constant in his inclinations, active for his friends, noble towards his enemies, heroically courageous, liking order up to a certain severity, and fearsome to anyone showing any liberality of morals and implacable towards the enemies of laws. He understood to a high degree the art of relating to people having personality opposed to his, without sacrificing his own character, of pleasing the honour seeking people without paying homage to them blindly, of being pleasant to the zealots without flattering them. He was never used, like the heartless and weak courtesan, to throw away his personal dignity to be a friend of his Prince; however, with a stronger soul and a more glorious self-sacrifice, he could be submitting his own wishes to the needs of his relationships. Through such character, and through an ever active intelligence, he succeeded, in a time when everyone took party, to stay impartial, without losing his active circle, and in the confrontation of so many interests, to remain friend with everyone; he succeeded a three successive throne changes without changing his own luck, and has taken to his tomb the princely favour with which he has started his career. For it must be remarked, that he died when Catherine of Medici visited him with her state court in his castle of Durestal; and he has ended his life, so to speak, in the arms of the same sovereigns at the service of whom he has devoted sixty years of his life.
However, precisely this character also explains to us in a very natural manner the silence prevailing about him. All the historians have taken a party; they were enthusiasts either for the old, or for the new teachings, and a vivid interest for their own leader have directed their feather. A person like Marshall Vieilleville whose head was too cold for fanaticism, offered to them hence nothing that could be praised or despised. He recognized himself as being part of the class of the restrained people, which sometimes is derided under the name of politician; a class of people, which, already in times of citizen unrest, chose the destiny of displeasing both parties, because they strove to unite both. He also kept himself imperturbably attached to the King during all the storms caused by the factions, and neither the Montmorency and Guise party, nor that of Condé and Coligny could pretend to possess his loyalty.
Characters of this kind will always come short in History which tells more about what violence has accomplished than what intelligence has prevented from happening; and its attention must be more directed onto decisive actions than onto capturing the beautiful, calm development of a whole life. The more grateful, hence, are such characters for those biographers who rather chose as their hero Ulysses than Achilles.
Two hundred years after his death, the justice about Marshall Vieilleville must be fully restored. In the family archives at Durestal Castle were found memoirs about his life in ten books, written by Carloix, his secret writer. These memoirs are, in truth, written in the praiseful style which is also specific to Brantome and all the historians of this period; however, it is not the rhetorical tone of the flatterer who wants to acquire for himself a protector, but rather the speech of a grateful heart which pours itself involuntarily for a benefactor. This inclination will also not be hidden, in any way, in the account; and the historical truth differentiates itself very easily from the account which the historian only allows himself to write out of grateful preference for his benefactor. These memoirs were published for the first time in the year 1757, in five volumes, even if they have already been known earlier by some individuals and have also partly been used.
Francis of Scepeaux, Lord Vieilleville was the son of Renatus of Scepeaux, Lord Vieilleville and Margaret of La Jaille, from the House of Estouteville. His parents had a great fortune, maintained their honour and lived an exemplary life for the whole nobility of Anjou and Maine; their House was also one of the most respected and was always full of the best society. Francis of Vieilleville served, early in his life, as a page for the mother of Francis I, Regent of France, a Princess from Savoy; however, an incident which happened to him there, drove him away from this place after a four-year service. Namely, a nobleman has given him a slap as he was taking his service at midday. After lunch, the page would slip away from his court master, went to the nobleman who was the regent's first pastry master and pierced his body with a sword, after demanding him to give him back his honour. He was eighteen years old when this incident took place. As the King learned about this action which would not be totally disapproved by all the Grands and preferably by the King himself because the house officers did not have the right to mistreat the pages, he called for the young Lord Vieilleville to present him to his mother, the Regent, and to present him excuses.
However, this one has already left court and gone to his father in Durestal to obtain from this one the necessary support for a trip to Neaples where Lord Lautrec was recruiting for his beautiful army. After putting everything in order, he chose twenty five noblemen from Anjou and Brittany as his accompaniers, for he wanted to appear with decency and in accordance to his birth; he presented himself in Chambery to Lord Lautrec who received him amicably as his relative and took him under his flags. Vieilleville distinguished himself at every occasion and dared his life in front of the whole army, particularly in the capture of Pavia whereby the Frenchs in memory of the last five-year war, at the end of which their King would be taken prisoner, would be enticed to commit too many excesses, of which hence Vieilleville with two hundred men, put a halt to as best as he could.
Shortly afterwards, Vieilleville would be made prisoner by Lord Monaco, on a galleon with his nobleman Cornillon who has sworn never to abandon him. People put his price of release from capture at three thousand and that of Cornillon at one thousand Thalers; and set him free to gather this money, on the condition that his companion would remain all his lifetime in chains, if he does not come back within a determined time.
Vieilleville who feared that he would not be able to return on time because of the long trip and the danger of carrying the money, did not accept this solution, and proposed only that Lautrec be told about his capture; this one sent, in truth, the money for his release, only that the ransom money for his companion was not being included; hence, Vieilleville sent the money meant for his sole release back and then proposed his capturers that they write to his father asking for the accurate amount of money; for he wanted rather to rot in prison than abandon the companion who has promised to share his destiny. Lord Monaco admired this noble renunciation, contented himself with whatever money was already being received and gave both men their freedom. A short time afterwards, Vieilleville captured the son of the same Lord Monaco and released him without asking for any money.
In the meantime, Vieilleville renewed the acquaintance with the nephew of the great Andreas Doria, Philip Doria who has been the King's chamber page when he himself was the Regent's page. Vieilleville visited him one day on his galleons which he commanded for the King. Doria offered him to command one of his galleons; and he chose the one which was named “The Regent”, where he would be immediately appointed commander with solemnity. In the evening, he would go back again in the encampment which was approximately two miles away; hence it went for six to seven days, and little by little, all the excellent army officers would also be visiting the encampment.
Moncade, Viceroy of Neaples to whom it would be told that the officers and soldiers of this galleon mostly spent the night at the french camp, sent six galleons with guns to surprise Count Doria; only that people received news about this attack, and the enemy surprise attack failed so lamentably, that the Viceroy himself who found himself on one of the galleons, would be killed during this expedition; two of the same galleons would be sunken, and two others captured. At this occasion, it happened that Vieilleville who has really done whatever was possible from “The Regent”, so much that of his fifty soldiers, only twelve remained alive, would still resolve to attack one of the two remaining enemy galleons. He accosted and jumped over them with his soldiers.
However, while he was fighting on this other ship, the sailors have detached their ship from “The Regent”, pulled the sail up and went directly to Neaples where the sailors of the other galleons, already during the combat, have preceded them; Vieilleville who lost most of his soldiers, had also to surrender himself.
When the first spanish galleon came on to the harbour, the Prince of Orange ordered the Captain and many more of the crew members to be hanged. The Captain of the galleon on which Vieilleville found himself as prisoner learned about this situation and feared going into the harbour. Vieilleville used this indecision and convinced the Captain who would accept his proposition, to work for the King and made him take the oath of allegiance before the whole crew.
In the meantime, Count Doria has searched the whole day and the whole night for his friend Vieilleville among the bodies which were floating on the water, and was totally inconsolable over this loss. To receive news from him, he allowed Captain Napoleon, an officer from Corsica, to take command of “The Regent” and to sail to Neaples. They have not gone far when they saw a galleon which seemed to be an imperial one; yet they saw on the mast a sailor holding a white flag: soon afterwards, they heard also music and someone speaking French. Vieilleville recognized immediately “The Regent” and the joy of reunion was general. He took still another galleon which people have sent from Neaples to fetch him; he thanks all this to his war tactics, and instead of being a prisoner, came back to his army as master of two galleons; however, he did not find any more there his friend Doria who was being sent to France with two galleons. As the siege of Neaples which Lautrec has taken over, went on very slowly; hence, Vieilleville took his farewell from the army and this for his own sake; for three months afterwards, plague appeared and killed most of the army officers.
As he presented himself to the King upon his return, and asked him for forgiveness for his youthful haste, the same King told him that everything was already forgiven, as the Regent, his mother, was not any more alive. He ordered him to diligently work for him, and presented him to the Duke of Orleans, his second son (who followed him under the name of Henry II on the throne), with the words: ”He is not older than you, my son; however, see what he has already done. If war does not deprive you of him; hence, you should at once elevate him into the rank of Marshall of France.”
Some time afterwards, Charles V took the disposition to attack France; the King pulled together for that reason his army in Lyon. The first priority was to make himself master of Avignon, so that the imperial troops could not possess this city which was key in accessing the provinces. After a long council, the King himself chose Lord Vieilleville, even if many people, because of his great youth, were against it. He would be sent there with six thousand men from the infantry, without any artillery, to precede the Emperor's troops.
When he arrived before Avignon and found the gates closed, he demanded to enter into talk with the Vice Legate who appeared on the walls. Vieilleville offered him, very pressingly, to come down as he had something important for his own good and that of his city to share with him. He himself only wanted to bring for this negotiation six persons whom he showed around him; the Legate, to the contrary, could take as many accompaniers as he wanted, should he have any mistrust. This one came to the gate with fifteen or twenty men, among the most excellent persons in the city. Vieilleville assured him that he was not interested in besieging the city; however, the King asked him to make the Vice Legate swear not to allow the imperial army into the city, and for that reason, to take any intruder hostage. The Vice Legate accorded with the first point; however, he did not want, in any case, to take hostages.
From the six soldiers who were with Vieilleville, four were Captains; they were, however, poorly dressed; Vieilleville asked for a permission to allow them in the city to care about themselves, buy powder and replace their weapons, a demand which would be voluntarily granted them. Their plan was to position themselves under the gate and prevent it from being closed. In the meantime, many more soldiers came in, one after the other, without arousing any attention, for the members of the other party were still vividly quarreling around the Vice Legate about making or not hostages. They feared that their city would be devastated only in two hours, if they would not make hostage any intruding imperial soldier or officer. As finally Vieilleville saw that his people were numerous enough, he gave to the Vice Legate a blow which threw this one on the soil, pulled out his sword, and together with his people penetrated under the gate where he had to make use of his gun; hence, he would kill two or three people by himself; seven to eight would be pierced by the others.
The inhabitants of Avignon wanted then to run to the gate; there, however, were standing four soldiers who kept them away very boldly and hindered them from coming closer. At the sound of the gun shots, one thousand to twelve hundred men appeared, who have hidden themselves all over the city during the night, made an incursion and held their position with the greatest courage. Vieilleville has also called for his remaining army, and now, the soldiers were coming with their floating flags and noisy military march. He then took the keys of the other gates which remained closed, except from the Rhone gate, leading to Villeneuve which was already french. As Vieilleville, through this war malice, has made himself master of the city; hence, he started to put some order there and to keep watch of the soldiers, hence preventing inhabitants who behaved calmly, from being brutalized and women from being mistreated. And yet, putting things in order was not an easy task which did not cost him some effort; he even had to kill five to six soldiers and a Captain who wanted to give in into plundering with violence. As the Constable was now camping in Avignon, Vieilleville pulled himself from the city to report to the King in Tournon where he would be welcomed with great joy. As he came before the King, this one greeted him in this way: “Come closer among the Knights, beautiful light! I will call you sun if you were older, for if you continue in this way, you will shine over all the others. In the meantime, receive this ennoblement from your King who loves and honours you!” and inducted him into a Knight, while putting the hand on the sword.
Since then, Lord Chateaubriand, his relative, who was Governor and General Lieutenant of the King in Brittany, offered him to take over his company of fifty men (Gendarmes) as it otherwise must remain in Brittany and did not have any occasion to distinguish itself. He wanted, at the same time, to propose, that he should be the King's Lieutenant in Brittany during his absence. Vieilleville took over, in truth, the company of gendarmes, but he refused the position of Province Lieutenant, as he hoped to lead his own government.
It seems peculiar that Vieilleville did not want a company of gendarmes for himself; but it was then not so easy to keep it; and his delicate attention was reluctant to thank favour for this position which he hoped to acquire through merit. The proof of such reluctance is the answer which he gave to the King who offered him this company after Lord Chateaubriand's death: he said that he has done nothing yet to deserve such a honour; on which the King, very admirative and yet almost irritated, said: “Vieilleville, you have deceived me, for I believed that if you were two hundred miles away, you would ride day and night to demand this company, and now that I give it to you by myself, I know not what a more favourable occasion you have been waiting for!?” “The occasion of a battle, Sir!” answered Vieilleville, “If Your Majesty will see that I deserve it. Should I take it now; hence, my comrades could ridicule this honour and say that I have only received it as a relative of Lord Chateaubriand; however, I would rather risk my life than obtain even just a promotion through something else than my merit!”
A few hours before the death of Francis I, this Monarch who still remembered Vieilleville's merit, called for the Dauphin to recommend him the same Marshall: “I know well, my son, you would rather promote Saint Andrew than Vieilleville; your inclination determines you to that. If you, however, want to make a reasonable comparison between both; then, do not hurry yourself to make the decision. At least, I ask you, if you will not promote both, at least may the promotion of the last one be followed soon by that of the other. The Dauphin made the promise, only with the reserve to give Saint Andrew the preference. The King called immediately Vieilleville, tendered him the hand and said these words to him: “Vieilleville, in the weakness in which I find myself, I cannot say nothing else than that I die too early for you; however, here is my son who has promised to me never to forget you. His father was never ungrateful, and still today he wants to give to you the second available position of Marshall of France, for I know well to whom the first is already determined. However, I pray God, that he never gives it than to someone who is worthy of it, like you. Is this not also your opinion, my son?” The Dauphin answered yes. Then, the King threw his arms around Vieilleville; all three of them had tears in their eyes. Shortly afterwards, the doctors told the Dauphin and all the others to leave the room, and soon afterwards, the King gave his last breath.
Then Henry, the former Duke of Orleans and Dauphin of France after the death of his older brother, became King, and Vieilleville, as envoy, received the commission to go to England to make peace with the under-aged Edward and his council only seven days afterwards; a mission which he, as envoy, undertook with much dignity and performed with the greatest satisfaction.
Soon after the old King's funerals, the trial of Marshall Biez and his son-in-law Vervin who has delivered to the English the port of Boulogne, would be undertaken; the last one would be condemned to death and the first one, however, to imprisonment and loss of his possessions and title. The King, by his own initiative, wanted to give Vieilleville fifty of the hundred lancers whom Marshall Biez commanded; Vieilleville thanked him very much for this graciousness; however, refused it because he did not want to be the successor of such a man. “And why not?” asked the King to him. “Sir,” answered Vieilleville, “it would be as if I have married the widow of a condemned criminal. My advancement does also not demand any haste; for I know that Your Majesty, immediately after His solemn entry in Paris, has decided to take Boulogne again from the Englishmen. Maybe there is still a Captain there, a man of honour, whose place You will give to me; or, I may remain at my current position; for in order to serve my King, I will not spare myself, and therefore, I need not any more company.” This took place in presence of Marshall Saint Andrew. The King convinced him again, only that Vieilleville remained firm in his answer. “I would rather be the Lieutenant of the Marshall who is present here, than receiving the company of Lord Biez who is a betrayer.”
Marshall Saint Andrew who previously has already expressed the same wish to the King, was most extremely happy with this declaration. “Remind yourself, my best friend, of this instance whereby the King was witness to your speech!”. Vieilleville saw himself, now, forced to accept the position of Lieutenant; even if he has made this proposition only in the intention of refusing the King's original request.
This company of gendarmes was put together very negligently by the Marshall's father. It consisted mostly of the sons of inn- and tavern- keepers, and as the emblems of these places represented usually saints; hence, these people called these servicemen according to these saints. For that reason, this company was ridiculed in the whole Lyon. Some thanked God for sending a company of saints from paradise to watch over them; others called them the litany gendarmes. Hence, people did not even find fifty horses in the whole company. In addition to that, because of a favour from their chef, they have never been on the battlefield: they were indispensable to the Governor to keep in bridle such a great city as Lyon. Through this trick, people deprived them of their necessary horses and weaponry, and hence, this disorder lasted nine to ten years until the old Saint Andrew died; and now, his son received the commandment of these gendarmes, but left them in the same condition, because he did not want to cover their shame. Precisely for that reason, however, it was dear to him to have Vieilleville as Lieutenant, because he knew him as a severe and unforgivable man in terms of discipline and honour.
Vieilleville has ordered this company to go to Clermont in Auvergne, so it could not be so easily deprived of its weapons and horses. He then appeared there with sixty to eighty brave noblemen from the best houses of Brittany, Anjou and Maine, who mostly have taken part in war in Piedmont. Hardly has he arrived, that people gave to him a list of thirty to forty gendarmes who, by the means of an attestation from the doctor, have remained home, whom he therefore stripped off the company immediately. He did the same with the recruits issued from the commissioners, servants and the same, who have been accepted in the company as a favour to their excellent masters and mistresses. He allowed the remaining people who were left still in the ranks, to maneuver on horse, and as they really did not manage well, hence they were laughed at by the experienced soldiers. He sent them, however, also immediately back to their inns to wait guests there, advising that only noblemen belonged to the gendarmes' corps. Some of them complained, in truth, about it and used inappropriate expressions; however, seeing how the noblemen fell upon them with their stabs, the others simply fled, to the great amusement of society. And hence did Vieilleville sever himself of these rascals who have never used their weapons in the King's service, and filled their vacant positions with good noblemen who kept their honour and could equip themselves decently. Then, they would also recruit many other noble people from Gascony, Perigord and Limousin, who previously would never want to serve under disgraceful condition, so that this company, in the next army inspection, was counting five hundred horses and was one of the best among the whole gendarmes' corps.
Some time afterwards, Vieilleville accompanied the King through Burgundy to Savoy where, in general, a solemn entry would be held into the big cities. As they came to Saint John of Maurienne, where a Bishop resided, this one offered to the King an entry of honour to this city, and promised, in that respect, to give for him a reception like he has never seen before. The King, curious about this new solemnity, accepted it and made his entry solemnly the next morning. Hardly was he two hundred steps away from the gate, that a company of hundred men appeared, dressed like bears from head to toe, and this in such a natural manner, that people really took them for bears. They came rapidly onto the street in a noisy sound and carrying floating flags, their lances on their shoulders, took the King in their midst, and accompanied him hence until the church, to the great amusement of the whole court. They precisely led the King to his residence before which they made thousands jumps like bears and also funny gestures; they climbed up the houses from the pillars and archways like bears and roared, very naturally, also like bears. As they saw that the King liked the scene, they all gathered together and started to shout such a loud hurray, that the horses which were remaining with the servants before the house, became fearful and ran over everything around them, something which increased very much the fun even if many people would be injured in the incident. Despite of this fact, they performed still a round dance in which the people from Switzerland also participated.
From there, the King went over the Cenis mountain to Piedmont where his father, Francis I, has already established the Prince of Melfi as Viceroy. This Prince, as he met the King, showed honours to Vieilleville in particular, so that he even gave him quarters in Turin, and threw the Constable of Montmorency's people out of many more places booked for them, to make room for Vieilleville's people; an incident which the Constable took very badly and noticed to the Prince, that it was the travel Marshall's duty to accommodate each person according to his rank. The Prince said to him: “Lord, we are up in the mountains, while you are down in the valleys; in France, you command the way you want, even with the stick; however, here, it is totally different; and I ask you myself not to give any counter order which will not be followed.” The Prince went so far in honouring Vieilleville as to allowing him to take the floor many times and never accepted that the orders which the Constable gave for the King's troops, be in general valid. Vieilleville, as a finer courtesan, made hence as little as possible use of these distinctions, not to upset the other Grands. Everyone was, now, turning upon him to receive orders in the King's service. All the Captains were present when he woke up and went to sleep; he kept, however, also an open table, and this was so richly provided, that the Prince of Melfi's seemed very meager in comparison.
In the meantime, the King received the news that an upheaval broke out in Guyenne, and that people in Bourdeaux have killed the Governor and other appointed officers like creatures from the river. The Constable said to the King, that this population has always been rebellious and that the inhabitants of this territory must be mastered. He offered himself to take care of this situation. The King sent him there, in truth, but ordered to punish severely only the guilty and to keep there a good discipline. He also gave him as accompanier the Duke of Anmale whom Vieilleville accompanied. The popular upheaval just stopped upon hearing news abouts the troops coming, so that the Constable entered in total calm in Bourdeaux where he, within a month, executed around one hundred and forty persons through the most painful way of dying. In particular, the three rebels who have thrown the royal officers into the water, with the words: “Sirs, jump and give salt to the fish in the Charente river!” would be dismembered in a very terrible manner and then burned with the words: “Rascals, jump and broil the fish in the Charente river, which you have salted with the bodies of your King’s servants!”
On the whole way to Bourdeaux, Vieilleville commanded Marshall Saint Andrew's company, whose Lieutenant he was, and kept it under such a good discipline, that everything would be run like a private business. He would not even climb on his own horse, until his people has sworn to him that they have done everything right. As he came with this company in a large village three hours from Bourdeaux; his stable master found hidden under the hay and straw a great number of very beautiful lances, pistols, cuirasses, helms, shields and halberds. The innkeeper whom he questioned about this in person, answered with fear and trembling, that his neighbours have hidden these weapons there, because they knew well, that he was an innocent man.
“And because I have not received, in the two days you have been with me, any harsh word from anyone,” he added, “hence, I will even say to you that thirty five coffers and boxes belonging to different noblemen who believed it not secure to keep them in their homes, were brought here, which I enclosed inside the walls, because it is known that I have never had anything to do with the insanity of the last events; I ask you, however, gracious Lord, behave in such a way, that neither you, nor I suffer any damages from this situation!”. Vieilleville who well saw that he was innocent, but was nevertheless a miserable rascal, ordered him not to tell anyone about this situation; however, told him to put the weapons openly in a barn, and showed him a proof, that he himself has bought, paid and brought them there. The innkeeper should only call him upon, if people wanted to use violence against him. Moved by this human action, this man who believed to owe him his life, almost begged him and asked him on his knees, at least, to take the weapons, particularly the lances which were brand new and very beautiful. But Vieilleville would be irritated and ordered him to remain silent, if he did not want to be delivered to Justice.
The company remained in garrison in a village, an hour away from Bourdeaux. He, however, stayed in Bourdeaux at Member of Parliament Valvyn's. This one came forward to him immediately and felt himself lucky to have a man of such caliber and authority in his house, and even more as he was very much under pressure because of false accusations made upon him by the Constable, and was indeed even under house arrest. Vieilleville secured him all the needed assistance and promised to defend his cause. Hardly has he entered into the room, when Lady Valvyn also appeared with her two daughters of extraordinary beauty. She was still totally confused by a fright caused the previous night when people wanted to break into her sister's house, the widow of a Member of Parliament, who, for that reason, has sent her two nieces to seek refuge at Valvyn's home and would recommend to him the honour of these four young ladies most pressingly. She threw herself before him, on her knees, but Vieilleville lifted her up and said to her, that he also has daughters. He would rather endanger his own life than allow something regrettable to happen to them. As the mother saw herself in confidence, she started to tell that the people of the Lord who lived at her sister’s and was called Count Sancerre, and particularly a young nobleman, wanted to force the doors of the young ladies; however, these young ladies have jumped from the windows onto the brushwood and have fled there.
Vieilleville asked her if the young nobleman was not Beuil's bastard. So he is called, they said. “Now, people must not be surprised”, replied Vieilleville, “that for a son of a b..., there will never be peace, nor security for young ladies of honour, under the same conditions; for it embarrasses him, that all the women are not like his mother.” In the meantime, the widow also came by and complained, that the bastard has also mistreated her and has demanded her to deliver him the young ladies. After meal, Vieilleville went to see the Constable and told him the bad behaviour of Sancerre's recognized son. The Count of Sancerre, to soften Vieilleville's acquaintances, went with him at their home for dinner where he excused himself and sought to leave them, in the future, in security; only that they did not trust him and never came by their own initiative to see him, so long the army was in Bourdeaux. They spared themselves hence many unpleasantness and shame which the other citizens had to go through, for all the inhabitants of the city, without any exception of gender, had to knee, apologizing before him, only the Valvyn family were spared from this treatment, even if the Constable reminded Vieilleville not to spare this family, to which he answered, totally irritated, that if people would force his hosts to this shameful excuse; hence, he will abide together with them; he assured, however, not to make any noise about the incident.
It happened very often, that from the companies which were garrisoned in the villages, many more soldiers came to Bourdeaux to buy supplies, or also to see executions. One of the gendarmes and two archers profited from this situation and told themselves to the priest of their villages, that two of their comrades whom they have seen being hanged, have told them that the priest should toll the bell of his church for them. They have, in that respect, the commission to take him prisoner; however, would allow him to escape if he gave them an important sum of money. The poor priest who did not feel really totally guiltless, promised them eight hundred Thalers; however, still not happy with this amount, they forced him to confess, with a knife on his throat, where he has hidden the rich church adornment. The fear of death made him confess everything. They tied him, afterwards, in a remote, large room and resolved themselves to kill him, after putting their loot in security.
But the priest's nephew run to Bourdeaux to tell this event to Vieilleville who immediately jumped on his horse and without the villains remarking him, arrived at the priest's home, precisely when these ones would exit from it with three richly charged horses. He immediately hit in rage the first one who approached him, saying the following words: “Good for nothing! Are you heretics that you robbery the priest and steal the church?” The other two would be killed by their comrades from the same company themselves, so that the company would not be ashamed, should these soldiers be condemned to the gallows. People found the priest tied, and beside him two servants who held the knife on his neck, to prevent him from shouting. He threw himself before Vieilleville and thanked him for his life and the recovery of his possessions, this one ordered him to bury the three deads and to say a mass for their souls.
Then, after that the Constable has given to this city a dreadful example of his severity in the punishment of the rebels, he dissolved the main army; he wanted, however, to inspect the remaining troops. Jokingly, he told Vieilleville, that he would be his troops' Commissar, for he has learned that Marshall Saint Andrew's company is neither sufficient in number, nor well equipped to perform the services; and that he knew well, that only twenty service horses were available. Afterwards, Vieilleville offered him, in total humility, not to spare him the dissolution of his company of soldiers, if he found it necessary. However, he should be fully aware, that if he wanted to keep the honour of inspecting his company of soldiers, he should not act like the other Commissars. “And why then?” asked him the Constable who thought that something unpleasant might happen to them. “Because these ones take their lunch with me!”, answered Vieilleville. The Constable also found during the inspection, at everyone's very great surprise, that this company was in excellent condition. It was in parade on a great field, and seemed to be around six hundred horses strong, for he had allowed the riding servants, the same servants who were holding their masters' horses by the hand, to stand not far from the company of soldiers and not behind it, as usual. He himself came toward the Constable and all the Grands who accompanied him, on a splendid dapple-grey which was worth two thousand Thalers, passed before the company and showed it how well he knew to ride a horse. He then invited the Constable and all these Lords into a field, close to the village, for an excellent meal under the tents which he has allowed to erect very artfully upon tree branches.
He led his company out of Bordeaux to their usual place of garrison in Xaintonge, and went home where the wedding of the young Marquis of Espinay with his daughter would be celebrated, for which occasion an innumerable crowd of foreigners were to be found, who all would be treated with the best and the most expensive meals. He also arranged more than ten delicate honour cases relating to some brave and courageous noblemen and officers from the neighbourhood; and if he found them somehow very confused; hence, he knew well to oppose and to emulate them with each others, by means of the great skillfulness which he has acquired in the surrounding of representatives from so many nations and already for a long time, so that people from all sides, even the Marshalls of France who constituted the highest tribunal in matters regarding the honour of French nobility, turned to him for this kind of matters.
Hardly eight days after the wedding, Vieilleville would be summoned to the court where he also took with him the young Espinay, for he did not neglect any occasion to show himself, and he presumed that people, immediately after the King's coronation, would take again Boulogne from the Englishes. One day, Marshall Saint Andrew's son-in-law, Apechon, besides the Lords of Sennecterre, Biron, Forguel and La Roue came to him and gave an affidavit, signed by the King, offering him and the bringers of the affidavit the belongings confiscated from all the Lutherans in Guyenne, Limousin, Quercy, Perigord, Xaintonge and Aulny. They wanted to bring him in advance this affidavit to be even more certain of receiving this considerable present which after deduction of all the costs of collecting the belongings, could bring everyone twenty thousand Thalers. Vieilleville thanked them for thinking about him in this occasion, declared however, that he would never enrich himself through such a hateful and sad means, for such proceedings were only about humiliating the poor people and ruining so many good families through false complaints.
The Constable has hardly left this country for eight days with his huge army which has caused so many damages; and he held it to be below his dignity and against the Christian duty to cause even more misery to the King's poor subjects; and he would rather lose fortune than have his name dragged to the tribunal because of these confiscations.
He added, “for our names will be registered in all the parliaments, and we will have the reputation of feeding ourselves upon people's misery; for twenty thousand Thalers, we will burden ourselves with the curses of so many women, young ladies and children who must die in hospital, which means that we might as well throw ourselves voluntarily into hell! We will turn all the tribunal officers whose services we will demand, into our opponents and deadly enemies.“
He then took his knife and cut the paper at the spot where his name appeared on the affidavit; then Apechon who became so red of shame, did also the same with his name, and also Biron; all three left and threw the document on the floor. The others, however, who have counted so much on this piece of paper, were very reluctant to consider Vieilleville's scruples, took the affidavit anyway and tore it thousand pieces while proffering some gross swearings.
Shortly afterwards, Boulogne would be besieged by the King whereby Vieilleville and his son-in-law Espinay were also present. One day, he recalled that as he was an envoy in England, the Duke of Somerset has made to him some taunting remarks about the Frenchs' bravery. Vieilleville offered, in that respect, to Lord Espinay to wear his best armour as if on the day of a tournament. He dressed himself in the same way, took three more noblemen with him and rode with this retinue, totally in silence, towards the gates of Boulogne. The herald sounded his trumpet, and people asked what he wanted. He asked whether the Duke of Somerset was in the city, and asked to tell him that Vieilleville was here and wanted to duell with him. It would be answered him that the Duke was sick in London, even if it meant that he was in Boulogne. He then asked if another high-ranking, bold Knight would be taking his place; but no one showed up. “Then, at least,” he said, “maybe one of Mylord's sons will measure himself with a young Lord from Brittany, Espinay, who is still not twenty. May such a young man come to fight, so that we do not have to besiege the camp again, without having measured ourselves in a fight; for the honour of our nation is at stake if no one shows up.”
Finally, Lord Dudley's son showed up on a beautiful Spanish horse with a splendid retinue. As soon as one person in Vieilleville’s retinue saw him, he said to Espinay: “This Lord is yours; don't you see how he rides the English way, he almost moves the saddle with his knees. Sit firmly on your horse and do not lower your lance earlier than when you are three or four steps before him, for if you lower it before, its tip will point downward, then you will lose the opportunity of the moment, for your eye will be blinded by the visor.” Both sides would then agree that he who throws down his enemy, should take him captured with his horse and equipment.
Then, each fighter would take his place, fetch his lance, ready to fight each other; the English intruded and let his lance fall, just for a short moment. Espinay then gave him such a strong blow on the side, that his lance broke. Tailladé, one person from Espinay’s retinue, immediately jumped on the horse and seized Dudley’s Spanish horse; the others pulled him from the soil, the trumpet sounded the victory, and then, the Frenchs rushed with their captives to their camp and left the Englishes rather in confusion.
The King has, in the meantime, already received news of the battle and prepared to receive them with many Grands. Hardly have they seen the King, that they descended from their horse, and Espinay presented his captive and delivered him to the King; this one, while giving Espinay the captive back again, pulled his sword and inducted him into a Knight.
Soon afterwards, a terrible storm necessitated the King to cease the siege of Boulogne and to pull back his army. The young Dudley proposed now to Lord Espinay, as they went further into the land, to determine his ransom; he could not travel further with the Frenchs and has some pressing occupations to care about in England. One person from his retinue took Espinay on the side and said to him that Dudley was in love with Count of Bedford's daughter and that everything was ready for their marriage. As Espinay heard this, he said to Dudley that he can go, if so it pleases him; he only asked him to remember that the House of Espinay does not go to war to become rich, for they have already enough fortune, but rather for the honour and the old glory of their family. Hence, he wanted very much him to accept four of his most beautiful English steed; a generosity which left Dudley no less than admirative.
The german Princes have decided in Augsburg to send an envoy to France, to motivate the King to assist them against the Emperor (Charles V) who held severely captive some Princes and treated them in an outrageous manner. The envoy consisted of the Duke of Simmern, Count of Nassau whose son, later on, would be known as the famous Prince William of Orange, and other excellent lords and scholars. People sent them to Saint Dizier and gave them all the needed comfort; for they travelled only five to six hours a day, and in truth, before lunchtime, after which they always remained at the same place until nine or ten o'clock in the night; during this time, people ought not to bother them. They have also chosen this route diligently to be able to drink to satiety, for the best wine countries of France are situated between Saint Dizier and Fontainebleau.
Vieilleville would be sent to meet this envoy when it was in Moret, two hours from Fontainebleau, to welcome them in the King's name; the whole envoy was very well pleased, particularly as he attended to its members very well. He learned that Count of Nassau was one of his relatives; this one turned himself particularly to him, as he was very skilled in trade and also spoke the French language very well. One day, as Vieilleville had for lunch many of the envoy, among others two members of the Imperial Court of Justice in Speier and the Mayors of Strasbourg and Nuremberg, Count Nassau took Vieilleville aside to tell him more precisely about their mission. This interview has lasted already for almost one hour when the four judges and mayors became impatient and started to speak in German with the Count in a very dry tone. This one, however, ridiculed their rage in a very skilled manner, while he said out loud in French, a language which they did not understand: “Do not be surprised, my Lord, that these Germans are so irritated, for they are not used to leave table so soon after having eaten so excellently and drunken such refined wine.”
Vieilleville reported to the King everything he saw and heard. This one was so happy with him, that he summoned him the next morning and appointed him member of the state council. The envoy had a solemn audience with the King, and immediately afterwards, the state council would be held, in which Henry II reported how little advisable it was to start a war with the Emperor. Immediately after the King, the Constable of Montmorency took, outside the agenda of the council, the floor and declared himself against the war; the others followed him, until it was Vieilleville's turn, who asked the whole gathering in a very convincing manner, in honour of the crown, to assist the german Princes. He revealed then to the King in person, what Count Nassau has entrusted him; namely, that the Emperor would put himself in possession of the cities of Metz, Toul, Verdun and Strasbourg, a project which would be very disadvantageous to the King.
In that respect, the King wanted to conquer totally in secret these cities which constituted a rampart against Champagne and Picardy. “And what reproach, Lord Constable,” while turning himself to him, “did you want to express precisely by withdrawing your agreement? That the Germans change their mind as soon as their stomach are empty, and could quickly hide a treason behind their request; hence, I would rather lose my whole fortune than allow such comments to come to their ears; for if among such sovereign Princes as these ones are, one will put the imperial orb, the symbol of monarchy, in the german Emperor's left hand after his election, and another will give him the sword to protect himself in the right hand, and a third one will put on his head the imperial crown; if they all are neither trustworthy, nor loyal, among what race of human beings should we then find people for such duties?”
War would be decided upon this council, and at the end of March 1552, the army would be gathered on the border of Champagne, a move which took place with unbelievable rapidity. The Constable conquered Metz through war malice; and shortly afterwards, the King made his entry in the same city. At this occasion, he inspected his army and found among them five hundred noblemen unknown to him, all very well equipped. The King tendered this beautiful corps to the young Espinay, Vieilleville’s son-in-law, at the head of which he undertook some bold acts.
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