And the editor goes on to regret that the municipal authorities, so far from occupying themselves exclusively with these details of public hygiene, street lighting, facility of transport, etc., should so frequently expend themselves upon "violent discussions of politique pure." "Is it not true that in what concerns the general progress of urban life, whether it be the question of transportation, or that of gas, or that of electricity, we are behind, and very greatly behind, the condition which has been attained in London, in New York, in Berlin, and even in Geneva and in some of our cities of the provinces?" These reflections appeared to be especially opportune on the evening of the election which was to replace in the Municipal Council those members who were about to leave it for the Chamber of Deputies. "The electors who are interested in the aspect under which the city will present itself to foreigners in 1900, at the moment of the Exposition Universelle, will not allow to escape this opportunity of manifesting their sentiments upon this subject.... All those who labor to augment its prosperity accomplish much more—be it known—for the amelioration of the condition of the work-people than the dreamers of national confiscations and of obligatory collectivism, and their efforts, if they are in the majority, will be otherwise efficacious in retaining the foreigners than by the moving forward some fifteen days of the date of the Grand Prix. Although it is not to be despised, a season of fifteen days' duration is, taking it altogether, but a slight gain. The foreigners flock hither the whole year round, and it is the whole year round that it is necessary to make them find it safe and agreeable to visit here, visits to which they are inclined and from which the entire city derives such great benefits."
This exposition may be considered as an authentic, contemporary document, and, as has been premised, these opinions are coeval and coterminous with an admirable civic self-satisfaction. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to stipulate that in these general observations it is the frame of mind and the mode of speech of what are known everywhere as the upper classes, the more intelligent and refined, which are taken into account,—the Parisian workman, day-laborer, and semi-criminal, though they figure very largely in the results of the general elections (worse luck!), do not necessarily appear in the discussion of these questions of high importance. It may be remembered that, at the period of this much-discussed Grand Prix, there was much contradictory testimony as to the existence of a general feeling of hostility toward America and the Americans among the French because of the Spanish war. Many depositions were made on both sides, but there was a general consensus of opinion among the heads of the larger Parisian commercial and manufacturing establishments as to that of their work-people. "Their political views and manner of looking at things have no other horizon than that of the newspaper they are in the habit of reading," said one chief of an important house, "they take no notice of the effect which such crises may have upon their work." "We believe them to be absolutely indifferent," said another; "I can assure you that the workmen take not the slightest interest in this question, and they probably would not understand it if it were put to them," testified a third. "As to the working-class," said a merchant in the Rue de Rivoli, "they occupy themselves with their own affairs, and nothing beyond. Apart from the social question, all they want is to earn as much money as possible, and do the least work possible for it." One of these sons of toil corroborated these statements very frankly. "I can assure you," said he, "that neither my comrades nor myself side with one or the other. I assure you that it matters nothing to us. We have something better to do than to gossip about the war."
Much the same conditions have obtained in the formation and development of this superior intellectual and aristocratic Parisian society as in that of other civilized nations. We are all more or less familiar with the general demonstrations by which the historians demonstrate the development of the wealthy classes, by the aid and support of which alone the letters and the arts arise and flourish. In the earliest stages of society, the struggle for life absorbs all possible energy; a little comfort and security, and consequent leisure, bring in the arts. The half-starved hunting-dog follows the game steadily, stealthily, without a superfluous sign or motion; after the chase, and the subsequent feast and the subsequent luxurious slumber, he awakes to indulge in unpractical gambols and barkings around his master,—it is the dance; Art is invented! The three superior social classes, the king, the clergy, and the nobles, which were definitely established in France at the outbreak of the Revolution, were the legitimate development of the feudal system, and had, apparently, legitimately conquered their position. They had been the protectors of the people even before the Carlovingian epoch, and when the people finally arose and overturned them, it was only because they had completely forgotten their high mission through a long course of years.
To Stendhal's observation, that, in the tenth century, a man considered himself lucky if he were not killed, and had a good leathern jacket for winter, Taine adds, and a woman, if she were not violated by a whole band of ruffians. In those truly Dark Ages the peasant accepted quite willingly the hardest feudal obligations as a harbor of refuge from the ills that menaced him on every side. The sixth and seventh centuries of our era are considered to have been among the worst that the world has seen; it was declared that it was not with water, but with His tears, that God moistened the earth out of which He made man. After the fall of the Romans, it was the Church alone that saved human society from "a Mongol anarchy;" in the last years of the Empire, the cities, illy defended by their natural protectors, gave to their bishops, with the title of defensor civitatis, the principal municipal authority. The Church alone retained any influence over the conquering barbarian; before the shaven monk or the mitred abbot, the wolfish and ignorant chief, long-haired, filthy, and half-clad in furs, hesitated, listened to his words in the council, stooped before his altars,—"like Saint Lupicin before the Burgonde king Chilperic, Saint Karileff before the king Childebert." In his moments of repose, after the chase, or the battle, or the feast, the menaces of the prelate began to stir in his guilty soul,—aided, perhaps, by the reproaches or the advice of his wife or his concubine; he hesitated to violate the sanctuary lest he should fall dead with a broken neck on the threshold; if he had been carried away by his passions, and committed murder or robbery, he repented and made reparation, sometimes a hundred-fold. The cloister offered a refuge to those who fled aghast from the world and sought meditation and solitude; the abbey was not only an asylum, but a haunt of learning and practical industry, a seat of instruction for the farmer, the workman, the student. "Thus the most evil centuries of the Middle Ages," says Duruy, "were acquainted with virtues of which the finest ages of paganism were ignorant; and thus, thanks to a few souls of the elect, animated by the pure spirit of Christianity, humanity was arrested on the edge of the abyss in which it seemed about to precipitate itself."
Nevertheless, this historian admits that Christianity, which had not modified the manners of Roman society, was itself an element in the dissolution of the Empire, and that the Church itself acquired some of the rudeness of the barbarians with which it came into such intimate contact. "Germans and Franks aspired to the honor of the episcopate, and carried into the basilicas customs and manners which were strange there. The great intellectual movement which had formerly animated religious society slackened, then ceased; the shadows descended upon the Church itself."
After Charlemagne's short-lived empire, the universal dissolution set in again. Against the bands of brigands, four or five hundred strong each, that traversed the country, any defender was welcome, and a second upholder of society arose,—the stout warrior, skilled in arms, who gathered retainers around him, secured a hold or a castle, and offered protection in return for service rendered. His title or his lineage mattered but little in the tenth century, his defence was much too welcome for any carping about his arms or his ancestry,—he was an ancestor himself. The original source of many noble houses is more than doubtful,—Tertulle, the founder of the Plantagenets; Rollo, Duke of Normandy; the ancestors of Robert le Fort; the Capetiens were said to have been descended from a butcher of Paris. "'In these times,'" says Taine, quoting the Spanish chronicle, "'the kings, counts, nobles, and all the knights, in order to be ready at any moment, kept their horses in the hall in which they slept with their wives.' The viscount in the tower which defends the entrance to the valley, or the passage of the ford, the marquis thrown as a forlorn hope on the devastated frontier, sleeps on his arms, like the American lieutenant in a blockhouse in the far West, among the Sioux. His house is only a camp and a refuge; some straw and a pile of leaves are thrown on the pavement of the great hall; it is there that he sleeps with his horsemen, unbuckling a spur when he has a chance for repose; the loopholes scarcely allow the day-light to enter,—it is important, above all, that the arrows do not. All inclinations, all sentiments, are subordinated to the service; there are posts on the European frontier where the boy of fourteen is called upon to march, and where the widow, up to sixty years of age, is compelled to marry again. Men in the ranks, to fill up the vacancies, men at the posts, to mount guard,—this is the cry that issues at this moment from all human institutions, like the call of a voice of bronze." Thanks to these stout defenders, some form of society is again made possible.
A later historian, M. Flach, in his Origines de l'ancienne France, finds the germ from which sprang the whole feudal system in this patronage, the system of defence of the serf and vassal by the landed proprietor. In the great disorganization of the Roman Empire, a portion of the public authority passed into the hands of individuals; when the Frankish kings invaded Gaul, they found there a system of patronage similar to their own. These great proprietors were maintained under the first Merovingian kings, who kept them in due subjection; but as this regulation gradually weakened under the growing power of the land-owner, the private individual found himself ground between these two millstones. A private patron then became his only defence, and thus was hastened the strictly feudal system. With regard to the royal function, which crowned this feudal system, the historian cites two quotations in support of his thesis: "Under Louis d'Outre-mer, the legate of the Pope, Marin, defined the royal authority,—he called it patronage [patrocinium]. Forty years later the decisive argument of the Archbishop of Reims, Adalberon, in sustaining the claims of Hugues Capet to the throne, was: 'You will have in him a father. No one, up to the present time, has invoked in vain his patronage [patrocinium].'"
Quite apart from these valid, historical reasons, the British "love of a lord" is by no means confined to Great Britain. The Parisians, also, have a certain fondness for titles and distinctions of all sorts. For the English aristocracy they profess a genuine admiration, as affording the best example of the success of a certain elite in affecting the social conscience. They quote approvingly John Bright when he admits that his folk—trades-people and commoners—are quite willing to have their public affairs managed by a superior class, specially trained, enjoying an independent and commanding social station. Their titles and their pride of ancestry give them robes and plumes, and a troop follows its officers more readily when they are gorgeously uniformed. Only, it is required that this privilege shall not be abused; no favor to mediocrities, no nepotism. Victor Hugo was more proud of his title of vicomte Hugo than of his greatest work, and Balzac's obstinacy in clinging to his particle of de has lately been shown to have been completely unfounded. To Sainte-Beuve, who infuriated him by constantly speaking of him as M. Honore Balzac, he wrote: "My name is on my register of birth, as M. Fitz-James's is on his." So it is, but without any de. In 1836, at the period of the legal process to which one of his works, Le Lys dans la vallee, gave rise, he wrote: "If my name is that of an old Gaulish family, it is not my fault; but my name, De Balzac, is my name patronymic, an advantage which is not enjoyed by many aristocratic families who called themselves Odet before they called themselves Chatillon, Riquet before Caraman, Duplessis before Richelieu, and which are none the less great families.... If my name resounds well in some ears, if it is envied by some who are not content with their own, I cannot therefore renounce it.... My father ... found in the Tresor des Chartres the concession of land made in the fifth century by the De Balzacs to establish a monastery in the environs of the little town of Balzac (department of La Charente), a copy of which, he told me, was, by their action, enregistered by the Parliament of Paris." It appears that there are existing no Merovingian records of any kind dating earlier than the seventh century; and a keeper of archives, M. Ch. Portal, in the department of Tarn, in which the death of the great novelist's father, "Bernard-Francois Balzac, born at Nougairis," is recorded, having looked the matter up, discovered that his ancestors were simple country-people, laborers, who had never dreamed of a de before their name, which, in fact, was really Balssa or Balsa!
The French have no word in their language which exactly translates "snob," so they adopt with enthusiasm the English syllable (mispronouncing it fearfully); and this curious weakness in so great a writer and so keen a student of humanity would be even more remarkable if it were not so very common among other civilized people. M. Jules Lemaitre, a couple of years ago, read before the five Academies of the Institute a careful study of this particular social class; there were said to be a crowd of amateur playwrights besieging the managers with plays with this title, and the pretentious claimer of things that are not his in the great world, "the great nephew of Mascarille in the Precieuses ridicules," was honored with more analysis, comment, and reconstruction than he was probably entitled to.
In addition to the three great classes that have ruled over France, and which, with the commons or serfs, have been known to almost every European nation, a third class, the tiers etat, still in process of formation elsewhere on the Continent, but which arose in Paris and other great cities in the thirteenth century, is claimed by the historians of this nation as peculiarly French.
Previous to Pepin and Charlemagne, Paris was generally recognized as the capital, though the wandering and barbaric Frankish kings much preferred as places of residence their great country-houses or villas, when they were neither hunting nor fighting. The court of Charlemagne, in the later years of his reign, was held at Aix-la-Chapelle, his favorite abode. In 775 he was present at the dedication of the new church of Saint-Denis, and the Parisians are said to have made a fete of the occasion. Louis le Debonnaire, his son, more monk than king, also neglected the city, excepting in the matter of founding churches and increasing the privileges of the clergy. But under the last of the Carlovingian emperors, Charles le Gros, the capital redeemed its right to that title by its gallant defence against the Northmen, or Normans, and its valiant count, Eudes, having brought the sluggish emperor to the heights of Montmartre only to see him conclude an unworthy peace with the invaders, founded himself the first national dynasty when his fat suzerain was deposed in the following year. "One of the greatest figures of the Carlovingian decadence," says M. Faure, in a recent monograph, "he continued the monarchy of Charlemagne without changing anything in the institutions, and he gave a precise form to a power that before him was still undecided, that of duke of the Franks."
The royal authority waxed and waned, the turbulent nobles exhausted themselves in war, in struggles amongst themselves and against the king, but the wealth and power of the Church steadily increased. Occasionally only, when its interference was too flagrantly unjust, its authority was defied. The first Capetiens, like the first Carlovingians, whether from motives of self-interest or sincere faith, were its faithful allies. Hugues Capet liked better to wear his cope as Abbot of Saint-Martin de Tours than his crown, and he restored to the Church several abbeys which he possessed. His son, Robert the Pious, was almost a saint, and the princes of this dynasty, on the whole, merited the title which Rome gave them, of "eldest sons of the Church." Their piety was not altogether without reward: the bishops of the Ile-de-France and the abbots, chiefs of the abbeys founded by royal grace, brought more than once not only earthly weapons but a spiritual one, that of excommunication, to the defence of the sovereign.
Robert's first care, after his accession to the throne in 996, was to rebuild the church of Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois and the monastery of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, which had been destroyed by the Northmen. He also erected in his palace a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicolas, which, in 1154, entirely restored, became the Sainte-Chapelle. He washed the feet of the poor, he fed, it is said, sometimes a thousand of them a day; nothing was too sacred for them, neither the silver ornaments of his lance nor the gold fringe of his robe. He was constant in his attendance on the church services, he composed hymns, himself, which were long retained. Nevertheless, having espoused his cousin Berthe, he found himself excommunicated by the Pope, Gregory V. Among the earliest works of the painter Jean-Paul Laurens, long in the Luxembourg, is a graphic presentation of this unhappy couple, clinging to each other in the poor, bare splendor of the very early mediaeval throne-room, the overturned great tapers of the excommunication service on the floor before them, the smoke rising like anathema, and the last of the implacable ministers of the Church departing through the open doorway. Every one deserted them, as though plague-stricken; only two poor domestics remained to serve them, and they purified by fire every vessel from which the unhappy monarch had taken food or drink. But Berthe was enceinte, and the king loved her, and so clung to her and would not obey. One morning as he went to pray, according to his custom, at the door of the church of Saint-Barthelemy, into which he was forbidden to enter, Abbon, Abbe de Fleury, followed by two women of the palace, carrying a great silver-gilt plate covered with a linen cloth, approached him, and announced that Berthe had been delivered. Then he uncovered the plate:
"See!" he exclaimed, "the effects of your disobedience to the decrees of the Church, and the seal of anathema on the fruit of your guilty love!"
And Robert recoiled in horror before a little monster with the head and neck of a duck! (Canard, it may be noted, in French, signifies both a duck and a highly improbable story.)
So the poor queen was repudiated, and Robert married Constance, daughter of the Comte de Toulouse, who made his life a burden to him. He hid himself from her to say his prayers, and feared her so much that he did not hesitate to deny his charities and good deeds to her,—though he had such a horror of falsehood, that he had made a casket of crystal, mounted with gold, but in which he was careful not to put any holy relic, so that those who took their oaths on it before him might not perjure themselves.
His son Henri I, who succeeded him, married a daughter of the Grand Duke of Russia, in order that he might be certain of not taking a wife within the degrees of consanguinity prohibited by the Church. This princess, Anne, claimed to descend through her mother, daughter of the Emperor Romanus II, from Philip of Macedon.
The queen Constance brought with her from the Midi some of those troubadours whose romantic airs and graceful verses were so appreciated in the little courts of the south of France and, later, in the gloomy castles of the nobles of the north. Great was the prevalence of ennui in these fortresses, in which there was but little sunshine and a great dearth of all other refining and civilizing influences. It was impossible to be engaged in warfare or the chase all the time, and the wandering pilgrim, with his tales from afar, or, still more, the wandering minstrel, trouvere, as he was called in the north of France, was a welcome relief to the deadly monotony of the days of peace. "Seated at the hearth of the seigneur, he sang, during long evenings, the tragic adventures of the Dame de Fayel and of the Sire de Coucy, or the marvellous exploits of the Knights of the Round Table, of Renaud, and of Roland, of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers; unless, indeed, his audience, in a livelier mood, demanded of him some sarcastic fabliau, or the fine tricks played upon Master Isengrin by his shrewd gossip, Master Renard."
But these Aquitains in the train of Queen Constance, when they first appeared in the court of the good Robert, were singularly offensive to the Parisians by their elegance, their luxurious habits, and their light manners. "As soon as Constance appeared at the court," says Raoul Glaber, "you could have seen France inundated by a species of folk the most vain and the most frivolous of all possible men. Their fashion of living, their garments, their armor, the harness of their horses, were all equally fantastic. Their hair descended scarcely as low as the middle of the head [the northern French still retained the long flowing locks in the German fashion]: true theatricals, in whom the shaved chin, the small-clothes, the ridiculous boots, ending in a curved beak, and the whole outward appearance badly arranged, betrayed the disorder of their minds. Men without faith, without law, without shame, whose contagious example will corrupt the French nation, formerly so decent, and precipitate it into all kinds of debauchery and wickedness."
Notwithstanding Robert's piety, his reign was signalized by a cruel persecution of the Jews, in revenge for the destruction of the church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem by the Fatimite caliph of Egypt, and by the first execution of heretics in France. Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages, the Jews, forbidden to hold any landed property, were constantly persecuted, plundered, and outraged, banished only to be called back again at the price of further exactions. The first thirteen heretics were burned at Orleans in 1022; one of them had been the confessor of Queen Constance, and as he passed her on his way to the stake, she put out one of his eyes with a long rod she held in her hand. Nevertheless, the historian Duruy considers that this certain mental movement, these deviations of the human intelligence from the beaten track, demonstrated that the period in which all thought seemed dead had passed, and that the first Renaissance began in this (eleventh) century.
A more recent writer distinguishes this century also by "that revolution in feudal France," the development of the commune. The great social fact was the disappearance of the three classes, serfs, semi-freemen, and free men (libres), which had existed since the ninth century, and their unity under subjection to the seigneur. This domination of the seigneur, at first justified by the protection afforded, lost its authority when it began to consult only its self-interest, and, toward the close of the century, stirred up revolts which led to the establishment of all kinds of popular associations, guilds, confraternities, charities, communities, etc.
The only church erected in Paris during the thirty years' reign of Henri I was that of Sainte-Marine, founded about 1036, and whose patron, according to the story, was a young virgin named Marine, who conceived a strong desire to be a monk. So she disguised herself as a man, and became Brother Marin in a convent. One of her duties was to go to the city for provisions, with an ox-cart, and on her journeys she frequently passed the night in the house of the Seigneur de Pandoche, whose daughter was found to be with child. To screen her lover, a soldier, she laid the blame on Brother Marin, and he was accordingly driven from his monastery. However, he took the child, which was sent him, nourished it, and the monks, touched by his meekness, finally received him back in their fold. Not till his death was his secret discovered, when he was interred with great religious pomp and canonized under his true name. Consequently, in the church of Sainte-Marine were celebrated all the forced marriages of couples found living together without the sanction of law, the public authorities compelling them to appear before the cure of Sainte-Marine, who wedded them with a ring of straw, slipped on the bride's finger.
Henri's son, Philippe I, contrived, like his grandfather, to get himself excommunicated because of his marriage, but for the space of ten years he seems to have concerned himself but little about the wrath of the Church. He had repudiated his wife, Berthe, and taken Bertrade, whom he had carried off from her husband, Foulque, Comte d'Angers. Finally, wearied of her, he presented himself as a penitent, barefooted, before the council of 1104, Bertrade doing the same; they protested their horror of their past conduct, their resolve to sin no more, and were accordingly absolved. It was this monarch who, by his unseemly jest concerning William the Conqueror, of whom he was both jealous and afraid, nearly brought down upon the Parisians again another Norman. "When is that fat man going to be delivered?" inquired Philippe, with the delicate humor of the Middle Ages. To which the Conqueror replied that he was coming to Paris for his "churching," with ten thousand lances instead of tapers. And, as was his fashion, he started to keep his word: his advance guard was burning villages up to the gates of Paris, when, according to the story, his horse stepped on some hot cinders at Mantes and in his sudden recoil so injured the monarch that he died soon after at Rouen.
The great national assemblies which Charlemagne had so often consulted, and even those convocations of the great lords and bishops which had been so frequent in the tenth century, fell into disuse under the Capetiens, in consequence of the rise of the feudal power and the decline of the royal authority. The king, by his constant donations to his leudes or great vassals, had, in course of time, very nearly stripped himself of domains, and these benefices were retained by the lords and made hereditary in their own families. It was the same with the public charges and the titles of dukes, counts, etc., which carried with them an authority delegated by the prince, and which ended by passing entirely out of his hands. Charlemagne had been able to check the greed and ambition of the feudal lords, but his feebler successors were unable to do so. Even the right of coining money was claimed by the great seigneurs, and in this century there were no less than a hundred and fifty in France who exercised this privilege. Most of them refused to receive any coinage but their own, and the confusion and difficulty in conducting trade may be imagined. The nobles, solicitous to increase their power, founded new towns and took them under their protection, granting certain privileges to the inhabitants, even that of holding land, and under the cover of these privileges, as under those of the communes, the tiers etat, or third estate, was gradually formed. Similar grants were made to some of the ancient cities, including Paris and Orleans, which seemed to have received all their franchises from the Middle Ages and from the kings, excepting, in Paris, the corporation of the Nantes, already referred to, whose privileges were confirmed by Louis VII.
This monarch, father of Philippe-Auguste, fixed the number of peers of France, the great seigneurs who held directly from the crown, at twelve,—six laic and six ecclesiastical. The first were the dukes of Burgundy, Normandy, and Guyenne, the counts of Champagne, Flanders, and Toulouse, and, to counterbalance these puissant lords, six ecclesiastics, all the more attached to the king that they were without landed property and consequently without much temporal power, the Archbishop of Reims and the bishops of Laon, Noyon, Chalons, Beauvais, and Langres. The Court of Peers was, however, not regularly organized before the beginning of the thirteenth century. Notwithstanding the weakness of the royal authority, it still retained elements of strength and superiority which time eventually developed. The king was nominal head of the whole feudal society, he was the chief suzerain, and all the great lords were his vassals and owed him homage. He was the supreme justice of the nation, and the vassals all were bound to appear before the "Court of the King." This court was not only a great council, but also a court of justice; the great vassals had the right to demand a trial by their equals, or peers, and in this case the court became the Court of Peers. The fief, held from the suzerain, could not be diminished or impaired in any way—just as the modern tenant has no right to damage his landlord's property; at the death of the vassal, the suzerain inherited, and in case he left infant children, the suzerain was the guardian.
Two incidents recorded by the chroniclers of the reign of that very capable monarch, Louis VI, called le Gros, or the Fat, will serve to illustrate the manners and customs of the times from two points of view. A short time before the marriage of the king with Adelaide de Savoie, he had, in the exercise of his royal authority, demolished part of a house, the property of the Canon Duranci, in the Rue des Marmousets, because it projected too far out into the street and obstructed the circulation. But the chapter of Notre-Dame protested in the name of its privileges and of its immunities; the king admitted his error, and agreed to pay an indemnity of a denier of gold; the chapter insisted that this should be done on the day of his marriage, before he could be permitted to receive the nuptial benediction, and the crowned culprit was obliged to consent that a formal record of the affair should be placed on the registers of the chapter. It was recognized that he had no right to demolish any house, except for the purpose of erecting a church on the site: this, although the narrowness and crookedness of the streets, as well as their foul and miasmatic condition owing to the lack of all paving and sewerage, were the constant sources of epidemics.
On the 13th of October, 1131, the king was riding with his son on the hillock of Saint-Gervais (to-day the site of the Mairie of the IVth Arrondissement, on the Rue de Rivoli, a little beyond the Hotel de Ville), when a wandering pig ran between the legs of the young man's horse, causing him to bolt and throw his rider, who was so badly injured that he died in a few hours. This led to the promulgation of a royal ordinance forbidding the proprietors of swine in the city to allow them to run at large, under penalty of confiscation for the benefit of the executioner of Paris. This regulation was several times renewed,—in 1261 under Saint Louis, in 1331 under Philippe VI, and in 1369 under Charles V, and extended to the faubourgs of Paris and the surrounding districts. The decree of 1331 gave the sergeants of the city authority to kill all those which they found wandering at liberty, to keep the head for themselves provided they transported the body to the Hotel-Dieu. The pigs of the abbey of Saint-Antoine alone were exempted from this regulation, and, that they might be recognized, they bore a bell marked with a cross.
Louis le Gros, already occupied with measures to repress the growing power of the great nobles, commenced the fortifications of Paris, which were not completed until during the reign of his son, with a view of guarding his capital against any sudden attack. It is recorded that he adopted the habit of the great Caliph of the Arabian Nights, of traversing the streets at night in disguise and mingling familiarly with the people,—but with the design of drawing from them their complaints against their feudal lords and their knowledge of their machinations. They were not without their grievances against the king himself, and it was not till the reign of his son that was abolished the right of the royal officers, when the king came to Paris, to enter the houses of the bourgeoisie and carry off for their own use the bedding and the downy pillows they found therein.
During the long reign of Philippe-Auguste, which even the modern historians call "glorious," the power of the nobles was seriously impaired. The Cour du Roi retained the organization it had received, but its importance increased with that of the royal authority, and the most powerful vassal of the king of France saw himself dispossessed of his fiefs by its decree. The feudal power was attacked in one of its most cherished rights, that of private warfare, by a royal ordinance compelling the observance of a truce of forty days after any injury, so that no one might be assailed without warning. Any seigneur might be at once vassal and suzerain, but when Philippe acquired the fief of the Amienois, for which he was to render homage to the Bishop of Amiens, he refused, saying that the king of France should be the vassal of no man. "To the feudal contract, between man and man, symbolized by the homage and the investiture, the thirteenth century saw succeed the democratic contract between a man and a group, between seigneurs and subjects, carrying an engagement written and public. Then began the conquest of liberty,—liberty of the person, of the family, and of the property; liberty administrative and political; economic liberty.... Of the total sum of partial contracts intervening between the king and the provinces, cities and corporations, has been formed the great national contract tacitly concluded between him and the people." (M. Imbart de la Tour.)
Notwithstanding war, famine, and pestilence, Paris had outgrown the fortifications of Louis le Gros, and, before he departed for the Crusade, Philippe-Auguste ordered the bourgeois of the city to construct a new wall, solidly built of stone, with towers and gates. This was commenced in 1190; the faubourgs were surrounded with a wall of more than two metres in thickness, faced with masonry, flanked by five hundred towers and pierced with fifteen gates. Its course can be traced on any good map of modern Paris, and the size of the mediaeval city thus compared with that of the present one. On the right bank of the river it began with a tower that was called "the tower which makes the corner," and which stood near the northern end of the present Pont des Saints-Peres. Thence it passed to the Porte-Saint-Honore, near the present Oratoire and the statue of Coligny on the Rue de Rivoli, which was defended by two towers, struck northerly to the site of the present square formed by the intersection of the Rues Jean-Jacques-Rousseau and Coquilliere, just north of the Bourse, where was a gate called Bahaigne. Here it turned eastward, cut off the commencements of the Rues Montmartre and Montorgueil, traversed also the Rue Francaise, and, following the direction of the little Rue Mauconseil, arrived at the Rue Saint-Denis, where was another gate called Porte-Saint-Denis, or Porte aux Peintres. Continuing in this direction, it traversed the Boulevard Sebastopol and the Rue Saint-Martin, enclosing the Rue aux Ours, followed the Rues Grenier-Saint-Lazare and Michel-le-Comte, traversed the Rue du Temple, and came to a tower erected nearly on the site of the Mont-de-Piete of to-day, between the Rues des Francs-Bourgeois and des Blancs-Manteaux, opposite to the Palais des Archives. Remains of this tower were discovered in 1878, in demolishing some old houses to make way for the enlargement of the Mont-de-Piete; it served to enclose a circular staircase. The wall continued to follow the Rue Francs-Bourgeois to another gate, the Porte Barbette, at the intersection of the Rue Vieille-du-Temple with the Rue des Rosiers; then, beginning to trend south, it followed nearly the Rue Malher to the Place Birague, not far from where the Rue de Rivoli becomes the Rue Saint-Antoine. Here was another gate, the Porte Baudet or Baudoyer. Thence the line of fortification, crossing the locality of the present church Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, descended to the river in the direction of the Rue des Barres, and ended on the quai, at the Porte Barbel-sur-l'Yeau. Vestiges of this tower were also found in 1878.
On the south side of the river the wall was not commenced till 1208, when that on the northern side was completely terminated. Instead of making a close junction with that on the other shore, it took its start somewhat to the eastward of the "corner tower," at the famous Tour de Nesle, on the locality now occupied by the right wing of the Bibliotheque Mazarine and the Hotel des Monnaies. It crossed the Rue Dauphine and halted on the Rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts at the Porte Buci; crossed the Boulevard Saint-Germain, where was another gate, the Porte des Cordeliers, afterward Porte Saint-Germain; descended the Rue Monsieur-le-Prince to the Boulevard Saint-Michel, where was the Porte de Fert or d'Enfer, which became the Porte Saint-Michel under Charles VI. From this gateway the wall continued southeasterly to that of Notre-Dame-des-Champs, between the Rue Soufflot and the Rue des Fosses-Saint-Jacques, just south of it, enclosed the Place du Pantheon, crossed the Rue Descartes at the Porte Bordet or Bordel, crossed the Rue Clovis, and traversed the locality at present occupied by the buildings of the Ecole Polytechnique. Continuing in a northerly direction, it reached the Porte Saint-Victor near the present junction of the Rue Saint-Victor and the Rue des Ecoles, and finally arrived at the Quai de la Tournelle by following a direction parallel to that of the Rue des Fosses-Saint-Bernard.
It was to Philippe-Auguste also that the city of Paris was indebted for its first paved streets. In 1185, five years before the wall of fortification was begun, he was in one of the great halls of his palace in the Cite, and approached a window whence he was in the habit of watching the traffic on the Seine. Some heavy wagons or carts were being drawn through the streets at the time, says the historian Rigord, and such an insupportable odor was stirred up from the mud and filth that the king was obliged to leave the window, and was even pursued by it into his palace. From this occurrence came his resolve to carry out a work from which all his predecessors had shrunk because of the great expense involved, and which, indeed, discouraged the bourgeois and the prevost of the city when the royal commands were laid upon them. Instead of carrying it out for all the streets and by-ways of the capital, they appear to have contented themselves with paving the environs of the palace, and the two streets which traversed the Cite from north to south and from east to west, and which were called the croisee de Paris. This paving was effected by means of square stones fifteen centimetres long and fifteen to eighteen thick. The bourgeoisie found the expense so heavy that under Louis XIII half of the streets of Paris were still unpaved.
In 1204, the king charged the prevote of Paris to pay to the prior and the monks of Saint-Denis de la Chartre thirty sous parisis for the privilege of building on their land, and he commenced the construction of the Louvre. The site had long been occupied by a sort of suburban house of entertainment, and the king resolved to erect a strong chateau, commanding the Seine. This chateau was square, the thick walls pierced with small windows and loopholes arranged without order, surrounded by wide and deep ditches, and completed by a great tower rising in the middle. Over the pointed roof floated the royal banner, and within were confined the State prisoners, and the royal treasures, crown-jewels, and Tresor des Chartres. In 1200, this indefatigable monarch conceived the idea of uniting all the different schools established in Paris under one head, but the corporation of the Universite was not constituted until twelve years later.
The life and reign of Louis VIII, son of Philippe-Auguste and father of Saint-Louis, have recently been made the subject of special research by M. Petit-Dutaillis, whose history may serve to give his short reign of three years a greater importance in the eyes of subsequent students than it has received. He surrounded himself with the same political advisers that had served his father, and was inspired by the same political and administrative principles: the death of King John and the birth of the infant Henry III caused his expedition to England, while still Dauphin, to fail, and in his attempt to unite the crowns of Hugues Capet and of William the Conqueror he had against him the influence of the Pope. His energetic and persevering obstinacy won for him the surname of "the Lion;" and, moreover, he was haunted "by those visions of sanctity and of power to which the clerical and classical education gave birth, the sole general ideas which enlightened and enlarged the darkened and narrow brains of the men of the Middle Ages." The French historians are of the opinion that it was to his father's victory of Bouvines that England was indebted for her Magna Charta.
His entry into Paris after his coronation at Reims is described enthusiastically by the chroniclers of the times. "The whole city turned out before him; the poets chanted odes in his praise, the musicians filled the air with the sound of the vielle [hurdy-gurdy!], of fifes, of tambours, of the psalterion and of the harp." Another admires the richness of the garments: "It is a pleasure to see the embroideries of gold and the coats of jewelled silk sparkle on all the public places, in the streets, in the squares. Old age, the flower of life, petulant youth, all stoop under the weight of the purple. The servitors and the domestics abandon themselves to the joy of being covered with adornments, and forget their condition of servitude on seeing the splendid stuffs which they display on their persons. Those who had not garments worthy of figuring in such a festival procured them by borrowing."
On the occasion of another procession which took place during this reign, and in which, as in so many other mediaeval demonstrations, the devout participants walked barefoot, the religious zeal of these latter was so great that they appeared, most of them, in their shirts, and very many quite naked. This did not prevent the three queens, Isemberge, widow of Philippe-Auguste; Blanche, wife of Louis VIII, and Berengere, Queen of Jerusalem, from watching the procession with great interest. This chronicler, Guillaume Guiart, records another instance of the manners and customs of the period, in which Queen Blanche again appears. It was the custom, at mass, when the officiating priest pronounced the words: "The peace of the Lord be with you!" for each worshipper to turn to his neighbor on the left and give him the kiss of peace. On one occasion, the queen, having received this chaste salutation, bestowed it in her turn upon a girl of the town who was kneeling next her, but whose dress was that of a respectable married woman. Greatly offended, she procured from her royal husband an edict that, in future, these coureuses d'aiguillettes should be forbidden to appear in robes with trains, in falling collars and gilded girdles. Saint-Louis, Queen Blanche's son, for all his sanctity, appears to have been the first king of France to introduce a royal falconer into his court.
Concerning this monarch, "in whose grand figure," says M. Henri Martin, "is summed up all that there is of pure and elevated in the Catholicism of the Middle Ages," we have, fortunately, abundant information in the chronicles of the Sire de Joinville, his secretary and intimate friend, who, with Villehardouin, is one of the first in date and in merit of these national historians. The piety of the king—like that of most other truly sincere mortals—had about it something simple and ingenuous which Joinville records with equal frankness. When they first embarked on their voyage to the Crusade, the clerks and the seigneurs were fearfully seasick and much repented themselves; when they had somewhat recovered, the king would draw them into serious conversation. On one day, says Joinville:
"'Senechal,' said the king, 'what is it that is God?' 'Sire, it is so sovereign and so good a thing that nothing could be better.' 'Truly, that is very well replied, for this response is written in this little book which I hold in my hand. Another question I will put to you, that is to say: 'Which would you prefer, to be leprous and ugly, or to have committed a mortal sin?' And I," says Joinville, "who never wished to lie to him, I replied to him that I would rather have committed thirty mortal sins than to be a leper. When the brothers had all departed from where we were, he called me back alone and made me sit at his feet, and said to me: 'How have you dared to say that which you said to me?' And I reply to him that I would say so again. And then he says to me: 'Ha, fou musart, musart, you are deceived there, for you know that there is no leprosy so ugly as that of being in mortal sin. And I pray you, for the love of God in the first place, and for the love of me, that you retain this in your heart.'"
The king's piety did not prevent him from showing an unyielding front to the turbulent nobles and duly strengthening the royal authority at their expense. By enforcing the regulations of Philippe-Auguste, he well-nigh put a stop to the private wars and the judicial duel; he decided that the royal coinage alone should circulate in the kingdom; at his death, "Royalty already appeared as the unique centre of jurisdiction and of power, and the tiers etat amassed every day more science and more riches—which always ends by giving also more influence." The French language, disengaging itself from its Latin idioms, had become the language of legislation; it was that of the Assises, or laws of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The poetry of the troubadours had perished in the atrocious crusade against the Albigeois, but, "north of the Loire, the trouveres were still composing the chansons de geste, veritable epic poems which were translated or imitated by Italy, England, and Germany. So that we are quite justified in saying that, from the twelfth century, the intellectual domination of Europe appertained incontestably to France."
The formation of the collection of manuscripts known as the Tresor des Chartes is due to Saint-Louis. These archives he gathered together and placed in the Sainte-Chapelle,—founded to receive the true Crown of Thorns which he had received from Baldwin II, Emperor of Constantinople. He restored and protected the great hospital of the Hotel-Dieu; and when his chaplain, Robert de Sorbon, in 1253, being at that time canon of Paris, conceived the design of erecting a building devoted to the instruction, by a certain number of secular ecclesiastics, doctors in theology, of poor students, who, at that period, were frequently obliged to live in the utmost poverty in order to pursue their studies, the king purchased for the purpose a building situated in the Rue Coupe-Gueule before the Palais des Thermes. The canonization of the monarch was celebrated with great pomp in the spring of 1297, under Philippe IV; all the nobles of the kingdom, clerical and laic, were invited to the capital, the body was placed in a silver casket and carried in a procession from Saint-Denis to Paris, where it was transferred to the church of Saint-Denis. Some time afterward, one of the ribs was placed in Notre-Dame and a part of the head in the Sainte-Chapelle.
It was under very different circumstances that these earthly remains were first carried from Paris to Saint-Denis. The king had died in his second Crusade, under the walls of Tunis; his son and successor, Philippe III, re-entered Paris in 1271, bringing with him five coffins,—that of his father, of his brother, of his brother-in-law, of his wife, and of his son. He insisted upon carrying, unaided, upon his shoulders, the body of his father from Paris to Saint-Denis, and at the localities upon the road where he was obliged to stop and rest, crosses of stone were erected, and remained for several centuries. Fortunately, this was the last of the Crusades.
This filial piety did not save the young king from much tribulation. Soon after his second marriage, with the princess Marie de Brabant (during the rejoicings attending which the Parisians consumed an inordinate quantity of wine, it is said, because the cabaretiers, in revenge for the renewal of an old tax the year before, had put more water than ever in their casks), his eldest son, the child of his first wife, died. The king's chamberlain, the surgeon Pierre de Labrosse, accused the young queen of having poisoned the prince. The queen protested her innocence; the nobles of her train asserted, on the contrary, that Labrosse was probably the murderer, as he was jealous of the confidence which the king bestowed upon her, and which the chamberlain had previously enjoyed. The king was unable to believe either of them guilty; the medical science of the day was quite unequal to the task of determining whether there had been any poisoning; the queen demanded that Labrosse be put to the torture, and, to decide this doubtful question, appeal was had to the judicial duel. The duke, Jean de Brabant, arrived to maintain his sister's innocence in the lists; if he were vanquished, she would be burned at the stake. While the unhappy king was sending messengers to a celebrated beguine, a species of nun, in Brabant, who was reported to have the gift of revelation, and receiving only obscure replies, a certain man suddenly fell ill in a convent in Melun, after having confided to a monk a sealed letter to be sent to the king. The king received it, read it, showed it to his council, which declared that the seal and the writing were undoubtedly those of Labrosse. Whereupon the chamberlain was arrested, accused of high treason, correspondence with the enemies of France, peculation, everything except the real offence, and finally hung upon the celebrated gibbet of Montfaucon,—the first mention of it in history, though it had been long in existence.
It was in the first year of the reign of this monarch that the first Parisian was ennobled,—Raoul, "called the Goldsmith," the king's silversmith. Philippe afterward extended this privilege to several other worthy bourgeois who had distinguished themselves in the arts. Restricted as the space enclosed within the wall of Philippe-Auguste had been, it still contained many cultivated fields and other unbuilt-upon tracts of land; the numerous religious edifices and university establishments erected since that reign had occupied these waste spaces, and the population had even over-flowed in several directions and congregated around the abbeys that had been constructed outside the walls. When Philippe IV, the Bel, succeeded his father in 1285, four principal streets were paved,—those leading to Saint-Denis and to the Portes Baudet, Saint-Honore, and Notre-Dame. The bourgeois successfully resisted the demands of the prevot of Paris that they should pave more.
Under Philippe IV, the conditions regulating the acquisition of the rights of bourgeoisie were definitely determined. Any free colon—i.e., stranger, sojourner—could go before the prevot of the city with two witnesses, engage himself to contribute to the finances of the city, and to build or to purchase within the space of a year a house of the value of, at least, sixty sous parisis; on these conditions he was recognized as a bourgeois of Paris, and, in consequence, was obliged to reside within its limits from the day of Toussaint to that of Saint-Jean, in the summer, or at least to leave his wife there, or his valet, if he were a bachelor. The population of Paris was thus composed of the clergy, of the nobility,—of which the king was the chief,—of the bourgeois or proprietors roturiers, of the colons,—free or still vilains,—and of a few serfs of the soil whom their owners had obstinately refused to emancipate.
One of the strongest grievances which this population had against the king was his repeated debasements of the royal coinage, and on one of these occasions their discontent was so menacing that, notwithstanding he had hastily caused some specie of legal weight and value to be struck, he left his own palace and sought refuge with the Templars. The establishment of this order had greatly increased since they had first found an asylum in Paris under Louis VI; the ancient gate of the tower of the Temple was demolished as late as 1810. Within their walls was asylum for all, as in the churches, and the king was none too prompt, for the angry multitude was soon at the gates. Before these frowning walls, they hesitated, but a few of the more hardy pushed past the guard at the portal and penetrated as far as the kitchens. "What do you want here?" inquired the maitre-queux, the chief cook. "To know what is going on here," replied the boldest of the invaders. "Why, the dinner of our dear lord, the king." "Where is this dinner?" "Here it is." And he presented an appetizing dish to his interlocutor, who passed it on to his comrades, saying: "Here, all of you, it is the King of France who gives the feast." By this time the alarm had been given, and the intruders would have paid dearly for their enterprise had not Philippe ordered that they be allowed to depart unmolested. However, though they went away very proud of having eaten the king's dinner, a few days later the bodies of twenty-eight of their number were seen hanging in a row along the ramparts of the town. It was rumored that the Templars had not been altogether ignorant of the gathering of this popular tumult, and that if the entrance to their fortress had been so easily forced it was not altogether without their knowledge; their ruin is said by some historians to have been determined in the king's mind from this date. On Friday, the 13th (!) of October, 1307, the Parisian population were very much surprised to learn that the grand-master of the order and all the knights had been arrested, their entire property confiscated, and the Temple occupied by the king and his court. In this nefarious enterprise Philippe had taken care to secure the co-operation of the Pope, Clement V; the wildest charges, of idolatry, magic practices, cruelty and outrage, were brought against the order; fifty-six of the knights were burned alive at a slow fire at Vincennes, and, finally, in 1313, the grand-master and another dignitary, on the little Ile aux Vaches, to-day the platform of the Pont-Neuf, in the presence of the king and all his court. A popular legend asserts that as the figure of the grand-master, Jacques de Molay, disappeared finally in the smoke and flame of his pyre, he was heard, in a solemn voice, to summon his executioners to meet him before the bar of God, the Pope within forty days and the king within the year. Certain it is that both these potentates died within the appointed time.
The provincial synod which had condemned the fifty-six Templars had been presided over by one of Philippe's confidants, the Archbishop of Sens, brother of the king's minister of finances, Enguerrand de Marigny. It was this latter who set the melancholy example of being hanged by his royal master's successor, which was followed by other finance ministers in two succeeding reigns. His innocence, however, was formally recognized by the king, Louis X, before the end of his short reign of eighteen months, a sum of ten thousand livres was granted to his children, "in consideration of the great misfortune which has befallen them," and his principal accuser, the Comte de Valois, stricken with paralysis ten years later, made amends by a general distribution of alms to the poor of Paris, with the request that they would "pray to God for Monseigneur Enguerrand and for Monseigneur Charles de Valois." Much the same fate awaited Gerard de la Guette, minister of Philippe V, le Long, who reigned for six years after Louis X,—only, as he had expired under the torture, this minister was hanged after death, and his innocence duly acknowledged in course of time. Pierre Remy, successor of Gerard de la Guette and treasurer of Charles le Bel, who succeeded Philippe le Long, was arrested by Charles's successor, Philippe de Valois, even before he had been crowned, and hanged on the gibbet of Montfaucon, like his predecessors. He was at first intended for the little gibbet of Montigny, reserved for the vulgar, but on his way there—whether moved by sudden remorse, or by ambition for higher honors—he accused himself of a multitude of new crimes, among others, of high treason against the king and against the State. He was accordingly transferred to Montfaucon, where he had the distinction of being hanged above all others. This was in 1328.
"The amount of his property which was confiscated," says the historian Felibien, "was estimated at twelve hundred thousand livres, which was the produce, as well as the proof, of his pillaging; but this example and that of several others of a similar kind did not serve to render any more moderate those who have since had charge of the finances,—as witness Mace de Manches, treasurer-changer of the king's treasury, executed, like Pierre Remy, in 1331; Rene de Siran, director of the mint, treated in the same fashion in 1333, and some others."
Louis X, Philippe V, and Charles IV, the three sons of Philippe le Bel who reigned in succession after him, and who ended the elder branch of the Capetiens, were even more unfortunate in their wives than in their treasurers. These three Burgundian princesses, Marguerite, Jeanne, and Blanche, were of an exceedingly dissolute character; the eldest and the youngest resided in the abbey of Maubuisson and had for lovers two Norman gentlemen, Philippe and Gaultier d'Aulnay. The king, Philippe le Bel, being informed, caused the two Normans to be arrested, in 1314; they confessed under torture, and were condemned to be flayed alive, mutilated, decapitated, and hung up by the arm-pits. The two princesses, after having had their heads shaved, were conducted to the Chateau-Guillard, where they were most ingeniously persecuted. When the husband of Marguerite ascended the throne, in 1315, as Louis le Hutin, or the Quarreller, he disposed of his unworthy spouse by smothering her between two mattresses, or, according to the local legend, strangling her with her own long hair.
Neither Brantome nor Villon gives the name of the sanguinary princess who is said to have inhabited the Tour de Nesle, attracted handsome young men passing by, and in the morning had them strangled and thrown into the Seine, but romance or popular report has ascribed these doings to Marguerite de Bourgogne, though it is certain that she never lived in the Tour de Nesle. Other romances have designated Jeanne, wife of Philippe le Long, as the princess celebrated for her amours with Buridan, rector of the University in 1347; but this story is equally unfounded, as she died in the Hotel de Nesle in 1329, leaving behind her a great reputation for gallantry, royal widow though she was. The Hotel de Nesle occupied nearly the site of the present Mint, adjoining the Institute.
When the question of deciding upon a successor for Louis X arose, the famous Loi Salique, by which at least one modern historian, M. Duruy, thinks France has profited but little, was revived. Louis le Hutin left but one child, a daughter; a posthumous son, Jean, lived but a week. "Should his sister take the crown? A text of Scripture reads: 'The lilies spin not, and yet Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.' This evidently signifies that the kingdom of the lilies shall not fall under the sway of a distaff. In the fourteenth century this was a reason. There were others: it was not to be desired that a foreigner should acquire France by a marriage; and the States-General, applying to the Crown the rule of succession formerly established for the Salic domains, excluded the daughter of Louis X from the throne. Thus the right of inheritance recognized for daughters for the fiefs was denied for the Crown."
Philippe le Long, also, had only daughters, and their uncle, Charles IV, accordingly succeeded, only to see the same fate befall his children. On his death-bed he said to his barons: "If the queen give birth to a son, he will be your king; if a daughter, the crown will belong to Philippe de Valois, whom I declare your regent." Another branch of the Capetiens, the Valois, thus assumed the sceptre. But this interpretation, thus three times renewed in twelve years, was contested abroad. Philippe VI of Valois was a cousin of Charles IV, nephew of Philippe le Bel and grandson of Philippe III. Edward III, King of England, was a grandson of Philippe IV by his mother Isabella, and he protested against this decision and asserted his right to the throne of France, mildly in 1328, on the accession of Philippe VI, and strongly eight years later. Thus came about the Hundred Years' War, and, incidentally, the residence in Paris, as if in his capital, of an English king.
Unfortunately, the French nobility were divided in these evil days coming upon the capital and the nation. In 1329, the Comtesse de Mahaut, who held the comte d'Artois, died in Paris, poisoned. Robert d'Artois, a prince of the blood, one of the royaux de France, claimed the succession, but the king awarded it to the queen Jeanne, widow of Philippe le Long; a month later, as she was about to take possession of the comte, she also died suddenly, poisoned by one of the officers of her table, in the hippocras, or medicated wine, which he handed her. Whereupon Robert produced documents, duly signed and sealed by his grandfather, Robert I, in which he was designated as the successor to his title to the comte; these letters were recognized as forgeries, and Robert was banished from the kingdom forever by the Court of Peers, and his property confiscated. The false witnesses whom he had suborned were arrested,—a demoiselle, Jeanne de Divion; his clerk, Perrot de Sanis; his fille de chambre, Jeannette des Chaines, and Pierre Tesson, notary. All this made a tremendous sensation in Paris; a Jacobin, called as one of the witnesses, refused to reveal the secrets of the confessional; he was threatened with the rack by the Bishop of Paris; the doctors in theology assembled and decided that he must testify, in the interests of justice, which he did, and was accordingly confined in prison for the rest of his days. The demoiselle La Divion was burned alive on the Place of the Marche-aux-Pourceaux, in the presence of the prevot of Paris and a great multitude of people; the same fate finally befell Jeannette de Chaines, after having concealed herself in various localities, in 1334, on the same place; eight other false witnesses were condemned to the pillory and other punishments, the notary to perpetual imprisonment, and others to make amende honorable.
This ceremony, so usual in the Middle Ages, consisted in the culprit walking in his shirt, bareheaded and barefoot, conducted by the public executioner, a rope around his neck, a candle of yellow wax in his hand, a placard explaining his crime on his chest, another on his back, to some public place, usually the Parvis-Notre-Dame, and there, in an audible voice, avowing his crime and professing repentance. No rank of society, not even the monarch himself, was exempt from this punishment, which frequently was only the prelude to execution. The chief criminal, in this case, took refuge in Brabant, and there, to revenge himself, envoulta the king's son.
This was the familiar process in witchcraft by which an image of the person attacked being made in wax, baptized, and the voult duly performed, with a mass said and religious consecration, it is then melted before a fire, or in the sun, or pierced with a needle. This was discovered. Robert, afraid of prosecution for sorcery, thought himself too near France and escaped to England, where he urged Edward III to war against his native country.
Notwithstanding the national troubles, the court and the Parisians seemed disposed to give themselves up to pleasure. The marriage of the king's second son, Philippe, with Blanche, daughter of Charles le Bel, was celebrated with great pomp, and with a tournament at which assisted the most illustrious knights of France and many from abroad. Among these was the Duc de Normandie, against whom the king pitted the Seigneur de Saint-Venant, and the duke was overthrown, horse and man. The Comte d'Eu, Constable of France, received a lance-thrust in the chest, from which he died that night. These casualties were only too common in these celebrations, which were constantly discouraged by the popes, and even forbidden by some of the kings of France. At the close of these particular exercises, Olivier de Clisson, the Baron d'Avangour, Geoffroi and Georges de Malestroit, and other Breton chevaliers were arrested and conducted to the prisons of the Chatelet on charges of high treason and of conspiring with the king of England.
The historian Mezeray declares that in the capital the sumptuousness of apparel, the lascivious dances, the multiplication of entertainments, were common both to the court and the citizens. Nothing was to be seen but jongleurs, farceurs, and other actors and buffoons, extravagance, debauchery, and constant change. "All the misfortunes of the nation did not serve to correct them; the spectacles, the games, and the tourneys constantly succeeded each other. The French danced, as it were, on the bodies of their relatives. They seemed to rejoice at the conflagration of their chateaux and their houses, and at the death of their friends. Whilst some of them were having their throats cut in the country, the others were feasting in the cities. The sound of the violins was not interrupted by that of the trumpets, and there could be heard at the same time the voices of those singing in the balls, and the pitiful cries of those who perished in the flames or under the edge of the sword."
Another chronicler, Robert Gaguin, writing in the fifteenth century, dilates on the constant changes in the Parisian fashions in 1346. "In those times, the garments differed very much from each other. When you saw the manner in which the French clothed themselves, you would have taken them for mountebanks. Sometimes the vestments which they adopted were too large, sometimes they were too narrow; at one period they were too long, at another, too short. Always eager for novelties, they could not retain for ten years the same style of apparel."
Jean II succeeded his father Philippe in 1350, and has preserved his surname of le Bon, or the Good, though his reign was one of the most disastrous in history. One of his very first acts was to cause the arrest, in the Hotel de Nesle, of Raoul, Comte d'Eu, Constable of France, whom he accused of high treason, and, without any form of law, had him beheaded at night in the presence of the Duc de Bourbon, the Comte d'Armagnac, the Comte de Montfort, and several other high personages of the court. All his property was confiscated, his comte was given to the king's cousin, Jean d'Artois, and the king kept the rest. In the following year he founded an order of knighthood, in imitation of that of the Garter, established by Edward III in England, and which, in its turn, served as a model for that of the Toison d'Or, the Golden Fleece, instituted in 1439 by the Duke of Burgundy. King Jean gave to his order the name of Notre-Dame de la Noble maison, but it was more generally known as that of l'Etoile, the Star. According to Froissart, it was "a company after the manner of the Round Table, which should be constituted of three hundred of the most worthy chevaliers." They took an oath never to flee in battle more than four arpents,—about four hundred perches,—and there to die or to yield themselves prisoners; the king gave them for a residence the royal lodging of Saint-Ouen, near Paris. "True chivalry was departing, since the kings endeavored to create an official chivalry."
Ten days after the battle of Poitiers, in which the king and his youngest son, Philippe le Hardi, were taken prisoners, the Dauphin Charles, Duc de Normandie, returned to Paris, took the title of lieutenant of the King of France, and convoked the estates, which assembled in October. The bourgeoisie, irritated at the ineptitude of the royal power, assumed the authority under the prevot of the merchants, Etienne Marcel, and the civil war followed. On the side of the dauphin were the nobility and all those attached to the court; on that of the prevot, the bourgeoisie, the shop-keepers, artisans, and common people. The latter extended the fortifications, especially those on the northern side of the city, so as to include all the buildings erected outside the walls of Philippe-Auguste. The dauphin, with a force of seven thousand lances, occupied alternately Meaux, Melun, Saint-Maur, the bridge of Charenton, and shut off all the supplies coming from the upper Seine and the Marne. The attempt of Marcel to deliver the city to Charles le Mauvais, King of Navarre, was discovered, the prevot was killed at the city gate, and the dauphin entered Paris triumphantly two days later.
In 1364, he succeeded to the throne, under the title of Charles V, and by his wise administration, his prudent conduct of the war, and the judicious management of the finances, secured for himself the surname of "the Sage." He rendered the parliament permanent, instead of occasional, and he gave it for its sittings in the Cite the ancient palace of Saint-Louis, which became the Palais de Justice. A royal ordinance, which remained in force till the Revolution, fixed the majority of the kings of France at thirteen years of age, and provided that the regent should not be the guardian of the young prince; another, dated in 1370, authorized the bourgeois of Paris to wear the spurs of gold and other ornaments of the order of knighthood, and a third, of 1377, awarded titles of nobility to the prevots and echevins, or aldermen, of the city. In 1369, the authority of the prevot of Paris was officially confirmed in regard to all offences and misdemeanors committed within the city by any person whatsoever.
Among the many important buildings which this king erected or commenced was the Bastile, founded in 1370, to replace the old Porte Saint-Antoine, and consisting at first of two towers, united by a fortified gate; the Louvre, repaired and enlarged; the fortifications of the city; the Hotel Saint-Pol, the gardens of which descended to the Seine; the chapelle of Vincennes, and several chateaux in the environs of the city. Nevertheless, and in spite of the encouragement given by Charles V to letters, the capital and the nation shared in the general decadence of the century, in morals, in intellect, and even in physical force. It has been estimated that while the average duration of human life was thirty years during the Roman Empire, it had now diminished to seventeen. The readers of Voltaire will remember that in The Man with the Forty Ecus his "geometer" gives it as twenty-two or twenty-three years for Paris, and contrives to reduce this brief span to practically two or three years of active, enjoyable life,—ten years off the twenty-three for the period of youthful immaturity, ten more for the decline of old age, sleep, sickness, work, worry, etc.!
Duruy cites two instances of feminine peers of France. In 1378, the Duchesse d'Orleans writes to excuse herself from coming to take her seat as a peer in the Parliament of Paris; the Duchesse d'Artois, Mahaut, had been present at the coronation of Philippe V, and had supported, with the other peers, the crown on the head of the king.
The need of funds was so pressing at the very outset of the following reign that the young king, Charles VI, under the tutelage of his uncles, the dukes of Anjou, Burgundy, and Berry, entered into serious negotiations with the bourgeoisie of the city of Paris with a view of persuading them to accept a new tax on commodities. The people were obstinate in their refusal; a statute forbade the imposition of any new duties without previous public proclamation, and, in the actual condition of affairs, this proclamation was likely to lead to a popular outbreak. On the last day of April, 1382, however, a public crier presented himself on horseback at the Halles, where these proclamations were usually made, sounded his trumpet, and when he saw the people assembled around him, lifted his voice and announced that the king's silverware had been stolen and that a liberal reward would be paid for the discovery of the thieves. Then, profiting by the general surprise and commotion, he proceeded: "I have still another proclamation to make to you; to-morrow the new tax on produce will begin to be levied." After which he put spurs to his horse, and disappeared at full speed!
Early the next morning the tax-collectors accordingly presented themselves at the Halles; one of them claimed the percentage on a little cresson which an old woman had just sold, the old woman raised an outcry, the unhappy collector was beaten and thrown in the gutter, another was dragged from the very altar of the church of Saint-Jacques-l'Hopital and killed, and the mob rushed to the Hotel de Ville, where it was known that Charles V had caused to be deposited the maillets or mallets of lead which he had had made in anticipation of an attack by the English, and armed themselves with these weapons,—whence their name of Maillotins. But the new tax was withdrawn, and the popular fury speedily subsided.
When the young king attained his majority, in 1388, the former councillors of his father, the petty nobles, or marmousets, as the great seigneurs contemptuously called them, resumed the direction of affairs, but, with all their prudence and ability, were quite unable to restrain the prodigal wastefulness of the prince. The entry of the queen, Isabeau de Baviere, whom he had married three years before, was made the occasion of extravagant processions, pomps, diversions, and mystery-plays in Paris, as was the marriage of his brother, the Duc d'Orleans, with the beautiful Valentine Visconti, and the conferring of the order of knighthood on the children of the Duc d'Anjou. When, finally, worn out with dissipation, with the license of unlimited power from the age of twelve, the king went mad, his uncles resumed the regency and the marmouset ministry prudently sought safety in flight. The Duc de Bourgogne, Philippe le Hardi, died in 1404; his son, Jean sans Peur, wished to succeed to his father's authority in the State, but found himself opposed at every turn by the Duc d'Orleans; the old Duc de Berry interposed and effected a formal reconciliation; three days later the Duc d'Orleans was assassinated in the Rue Vieille-du-Temple by the bravos of Jean sans Peur, who did not fear to do murder on a prince of the blood.
In the civil war which followed, the Parisians profited at first by the concessions which were made to them in order to secure their support,—open opposition to all new taxes, restoration of their old free constitution, the right to elect their prevot and other officers, to organize their bourgeois militia under officers elected by themselves, even that of holding fiefs like the nobles, with the accompanying privileges, provided they were well born, and of Paris. The nobility, on the contrary, were even less disposed to pardon him for thus seeking the aid of the populace than for having compromised the seignorial inviolability by laying violent hands on a brother of the king. The Comte d'Armagnac, father-in-law of one of the sons of the Duc d'Orleans, placed himself at the head of the opposing party; both parties made advances to the English to secure their aid on different occasions, but it was the Armagnacs who fought Henry V at Azincourt and sustained that disastrous defeat; the Duc de Bourgogne secured possession of the queen and proclaimed her regent; negotiating first with one and then with another, he finally ended by being assassinated in his turn by Tanneguy Duchatel, prevot of Paris, and other servants of the dauphin, on the bridge of Montereau, at the confluence of the Yonne and the Seine.
"That which neither Crecy nor Poitiers nor Azincourt had accomplished, the assassination on the bridge of Montereau did,—it gave the crown of France to a king of England." In the following year, 1420, the treaty of Troyes, concluded between Henry V, the Queen Isabeau, and the new Duc de Bourgogne, Philippe le Bon, recognized the King of England as regent and heir to the throne of France, he having married Isabeau's daughter, Catherine of France. "All the provisions of this treaty were read publicly, in a general assembly held by the Parliament on the 29th of April. The governor of Paris, the chancellor, the prevot, the presidents, counsellors, echevins, merchants, and bourgeois, all were unanimous in accepting this treaty." On the 30th of May it was formally ratified in another general assembly, and on the 1st of December the bourgeois turned out in great state and with much pomp to receive the two kings, who entered, walking side by side, Charles VI on the right. "The streets were richly decorated and tapestried from the Porte Saint-Denis to Notre-Dame, 'and all the people cried Noel! to show their joy.'" The English king, with his two brothers, the dukes of Clarence and of Bedford, were lodged at the Louvre; the poor French king, at the Hotel Saint-Pol, and the Duc de Bourgogne, in his Hotel d'Artois.
The madness of Charles VI was intermittent, but apparently hopeless; it had been greatly aggravated by all the tragic circumstances of his reign, including the terrible bal des ardents, in which he had been saved from being burned to death, with several other maskers disguised as satyrs, by the coolness and courage of the Duchesse de Berry. The queen, Isabeau, was openly dissolute; on one occasion, the king, returning from visiting her at Vincennes, encountered her lover, the chevalier Louis de Bois-Bourdon, had him arrested on the spot, put to the question, sewed up in a sack, and thrown in the river. Probably with a view to her own security, she had placed in the king's bed-chamber "a fair young Burgundian," Odette de Champdivers, and it was this demoiselle who, in his periods of frenzy, was alone able to soothe and persuade him. It is related that they played cards together in his saner moments, this amusement having recently been brought into fashion again. Even the powers of magic were tried in vain to effect his cure.
Nevertheless, few monarchs seem to have been so sincerely mourned. "All the people who were in the streets and at the windows wept and cried as if each one had seen the death of the one he loved the best. 'Ah! tres cher prince, never shall we have another so good! Never shall we see thee again! Cursed be Death! We shall have no longer anything but war, since thou hast left us. Thou goest to repose, we remain in tribulations and sorrow.'"
Queen Isabeau, in addition to disinheriting her son in favor of her daughter, was held responsible by her contemporaries for setting the fashion in wasteful and absurd extravagance in dress. The ladies wore the houppelande, the cotte hardie, tight around the girdle, and looped up their sleeves excessivement to show this cotte hardie; they also had openings in the surcoat to show the girdle. These openings the preachers called "windows of hell." "They made their stomachs prominent, and seemed, all of them, enceinte: this mode they clung to for forty years." "The more the misery increased, the more the luxury augmented; at the Hotel de Boheme, inhabited by Louis d'Orleans, there were chambers hung with cloth of gold a roses, embroidered with velours vermeil, of satin vermeil embroidered with arbalists, of cloth of gold embroidered with mills.... And, during this time, the grass grew in the streets, say the historians of the period, the wolves entered the city at night by the river; the imagination of the people, exalted, saw already in Paris a new Babylon, the ruins of which would presently become the repair of the beasts of prey."
When the remains of what might well seem to be the last of the kings of France were interred at Saint-Denis, a herald-at-arms recommended the soul of the defunct to the prayers of the assembled multitude; then he cried: "Vive Henri de Lancastre, Roi de France et d'Angleterre!" At this cry, all the officers present reversed their maces, rods, and swords, to signify that they considered themselves as no longer exercising their offices. The English king was not crowned in Paris till nine years later (1431), but his representative, the Duke of Bedford, left his residence in the Hotel de la Riviere, Rue de Paradis, and Rue du Chaume (to-day the Rues des Francs-Bourgeois and des Archives), to establish himself in the Palais de la Cite. On the 8th of September, 1429, Jeanne d'Arc, having brought about the crowning of the sluggish Charles VII at Reims in the preceding July, presented herself at the head of a French corps under the orders of the Duc d'Alencon before the northern walls of Paris, and herself directed the assault on the Porte Saint-Honore. She surmounted the first entrenchment, constructed in front of the pig market there established on the Butte des Moulins,—afterward suppressed to make way for the opening of the Avenue de l'Opera,—drove in the English, sounded the depth of the moat with the staff of her banner, and fell wounded with an arbalist shaft through her thigh, in front of what is now the entrance to the Theatre-Francais. The chronicles of the time differ as to whether the French chiefs failed to support her through jealousy, or fought with acharnement to save her from falling into the hands of the besieged. The attempt was abandoned, and the Maid was carried to Saint-Denis to have her wound dressed.
In Paris, opinions were very much divided, and even those who favored the French king felt that they were too much compromised to open their gates to him without some stipulations. Two years later, Jeanne having been duly burned at Rouen, and the consecration of Charles VII, at Reims, "to which he had been conducted by an agent of the demon, being in itself and of its own nature null and void," the English monarch entered his city of Paris to receive an orthodox and irreprehensible coronation. As he rode by the Hotel Saint-Pol, he perceived the Queen Isabeau on the balcony; he doffed his hat to her and she returned his salute, then burst into tears. On the 17th of December, he was anointed and crowned in Notre-Dame by Cardinal Winchester—which gave great offence to the Bishop of Paris—and surrounded entirely by English lords; there was no liberation of prisoners, no largess to the people, no removal of taxes. "A bourgeois who marries off his daughter would have done the thing better," said the Parisians. However, he manifested some desire to secure their good-will by confirming a number of their minor privileges, their right to acquire titles of nobility, etc.
The discontent grew among the citizens; no coronation of a king of France could be as sacred as that celebrated according to the ancient ceremonial at Reims; the English garrison felt constrained to take such strong measures of precaution as to forbid any one to leave the city without passports, or to mount upon the ramparts under penalty of being hanged. It was not till the 29th of May, 1436, that six citizens, whose names history has preserved, contrived to open the Porte Saint-Jacques, in the quarter of the Halles, to their countrymen outside; the Constable of France, Arthur de Bretagne, Comte de Richemont, with the Comte de Dunois and some two thousand horsemen, were waiting for them; the first twenty men introduced through a little postern gate opened the great doors and let down the drawbridge, all the cavalry trooped in without meeting the least resistance. "Then the Marechal de l'Isle-Adam mounted upon the wall, unfurled the banner of France, and cried 'Ville gagnee!' [City taken!]."
Captain Willoughby, who commanded the English, finding the whole populace rising against him, was compelled to take refuge in the Bastile with some thousand or twelve hundred men, and soon after capitulated and left the city by the Porte Saint-Antoine, pursued by the hootings of the people. Charles VII made his triumphal entry in the following November, and was received with abundant demonstrations of welcome. It was, however, a city devastated by pestilence and famine and with troops of wolves in all the suburbs. Bands of brigands, largely made up of unpaid soldiers, and called, from their outrages, escorcheurs, traversed the country and the environs and were more feared even than the wolves. The universal demoralization caused by the war had removed all bounds to the cruelty of the nobles, and the chronicles of the time are replete with murder, open and secret. "The Duc de Bretagne caused the death of his brother; the Duc de Gueldre, that of his father; the Sire de Giac, that of his wife; the Comtesse de Foix, that of her sister; the King of Aragon, that of his son."
"Above this feudal aristocracy was placed another aristocracy, that of the princes, which royalty had elevated with its own hands, in constituting vast appanages for the royaux de France, the title given to the sons, the brothers, the relatives of the king. Hence those powerful houses of Bourgogne, of Orleans, of Anjou, of Bourbon, which joined to the spirit of independence of the ancient feudality the pride and the pretensions of a royal origin, and which said by one of its members: 'I esteem so much the kingdom of France, that, in the place of one king, I should like to see six.'"
Valuing only that which was acquired by the sword, or professing to do so, this feudal aristocracy affected to look down with disdain upon the great merchants and bankers,—whose large fortunes, indeed, were not always acquired with the strictest probity,—and they viewed with indifference the king's infamous robbery of his minister, Jacques Coeur, which, with his abandonment of Jeanne d'Arc, constitute the blackest stains upon his character. The gens de petit estat, the councillors of humble origin, with which the king surrounded himself, and who served him so well, were also a source of offence to these proud nobles. M. G. du Fresne de Beaucourt, in his exhaustive history of this monarch, in six octavo volumes, dwells at length on the constantly increasing influence in the grand council, during the period of national reorganization in the latter part of the reign, of these humble councillors. "And it was, above all, the people of France themselves," says M. Funck-Brentano, "who, in the midst of all the secular struggles, acquired, little by little, the sentiment of its unity, of the common solidarity of the public welfare. The day on which they were found grouped, admirable in their energy and devotion, around the royal throne which, for them, was the concentrating point of these sentiments, the cause of the foreign enemy was lost."
Son though he was "of an imbecile father and a debauched mother," Charles VII did not lack for intelligence, and in his diplomacy, directed during the first part of his reign against a foreign enemy and, in the latter part, against a domestic one, the Burgundians, he gave proof of the highest qualities. He had a taste for letters, and was—"unique, doubtless, in this among the kings of France"—a good Latin scholar. His mistresses, of whom Agnes Sorel was only the first, were imposed upon his wife, Marie d'Anjou, and upon his court with unusual effrontery. The queen was even obliged to distribute gifts to the "filles joyeuses who followed the court in its peregrinations." This moral depravation, naturally, extended downward to the whole court. M. Brentano, who is one of the few French historians who venture to lay disrespectful hands on the grand Roi-soleil, says: "Charles VII was the original source of the crapulous debauchery of the last Valois; he traced the way for the crimes of Louis XIV, and the turpitudes of Louis XV." This, although the higher clergy of the reigns both of Charles and of Louis Quatorze did not fail in their duty, and did denounce openly from the pulpit the sins of these all-powerful monarchs.
On his re-entry into Paris, Charles did not take up his residence in the Hotel Saint-Pol, the sorrowful lodging of his father, but in the Tournelles, which he made a "delightful sojourn," and where his successors installed themselves until Francois II, who established his dwelling in the Louvre. In the time of Louis XI, however, the Tournelles partook of the sordid and melancholy character of its master. "The king lived there alone and stingily," says the historian Michelet. "He had had the odd taste to retain some servitors whom he had brought from Brabant; he lived there as if in exile.... As soon as he was king, he assumed the pilgrim's habit, the cape of coarse gray cloth, with the gaiters of a travelling costume, and he took them off only at his death.... If he came out of the Tournelles, it was in the evening, like an owl, in his melancholy gray cape. His gossip, companion, and friend (he had a friend) was a certain Bische, whom he had formerly set as a spy on his father, Charles VII, and whom afterward he kept near the Comte de Charolais, to induce him to betray his father, the Duc de Bourgogne."
The king had, indeed been one of the worst of sons,—at the period of his accession to the throne he was almost in open rebellion against his father, and had sought refuge at the court of Burgundy. The great nobles consequently looked with complacency upon his coming into power, and were very far from foreseeing that through him their privileges and authority throughout the kingdom were to be finally ruined. During his reign, the capital prospered,—"the king made of it his refuge, his citadel and his arsenal for all his enterprises against the feudality." In one respect, he followed his father's example and even bettered it,—his counsellors were chosen by preference among the tiers etat, and frequently even among men of base extraction. When occasion required, he did not disdain any of the arts of the demagogue: on entering Paris after the indecisive battle of Montlhery, with the Burgundians, almost under the walls of the capital, he took supper with the principal ladies of the city in the house of Charles de Melun, and so moved them with the recital of the dangers he had undergone that all the dames bourgeoises wept. He was in the habit of visiting familiarly the principal bourgeois, seating himself at their table or inviting them to his own, and interesting himself in their private affairs. By this means, he endeavored to ascertain their opinions concerning his political measures, and the amount of obedience which they were likely to render to them. In 1471, "he honored the city by starting the fire with his own hand in the Place de Greve, the evening of Saint John the Baptist." On a mast, twenty-five metres in height and surrounded by combustibles of all kinds, was hung a great basket containing a dozen black cats and a fox, symbols of the devil. "The more the grilled cats cried, the more the people laughed."