Page images


Lewis the Eighth. in England were then in arms against John, who was abans doned by almost all the world. Philip summoned him to appear before his court at Paris, and he not appearing, Philip went through all the minute forms of law; John was convicted of felony, and as such, Normandy, and all his pofseflions in France, were judged to be forfeited to that crown. To give this sentence effect, Philip entered Normandy with a strong army, and though Chateau-Galliard, and some other places made a brave resistance, yet John unaccountably retired to England. Philip reduced first the higher, then the lower, Normandy, and at last the city of Rouen itself, rean, nexing them all to his own crown, after they had been fes parated from it three hundred years.

Philip died at Mante, in the fifty-ninth year of his age, and the forty-fourth of his reign. The great success he met with in reviving the luftre of the French monarchy, has screened memory

from the censure due to the many acts of meanness, barbarity and treachery he perpetrated in establishing his greatness. It must be allowed at the same time, that he was the legislator and civilizer of his country. In these respects, he was one of the greatest kings that France had seen since the days of Charlemagne. He improved the military discia pline and fortifications of the kingdom. If he amassed money, it was to lay it out on the noblest purposes; namely, in mak. ing roads, building bridges, and raising magnificent edifices,




Lewis VIII.-Crusade against the Albigenses.--Lewis IX.

His Charafter. - The last Crusade. --- Atchievements of Lewis. He is taken Prisoner and released. - He dies in Africa-Philip 111.-Sicilian Vespers-- Institution of Parliaments, and admission of the Commons.Suppression of the Knights Templars -- Flemish Expedition.Domestic Troubles.-Philip's Death and CharaEter.--Lewis X. surnamed the Boisterous. - Philip the Tall. --Wisdom of the Salique Law. - Charles IV. the last of the Capatine Kings.

A. D. 1223


HILIP left the kingdom of France twice

Jarge as he had received it; fo that

future acquisitions became easy to his fucceffors. Lewis VIII. however, did not enlarge the monarchy. His short reign was chiefly spent in a crusade against the Albigenfes. Christians did not always assume the badge of the cross to fight against infidels. The madness of bigotry, and

a per

a persecuting spirit produced a crusade for the destruction of Christians, Opposition to errors in doctrine, as well as to the pride and ambition of the clergy, had rendered many of the southern provinces of France obnoxious to the church of Rome.

They refused to acknowledge, as ministers of the religion of the humble Jesus, men who were destitute of humility, meekness, and self-denial. These witnesses for the truth were called, by a general name, Albigenses. Innocent III. alarmed at their principles and opposition to the clergy, determined to extirpate them. A crusade was preached against them; and the Pope having prevailed upon Lewis, almost against his will, to put himself at the head of it, he marched with his army into Languedoc, where he demanded entrance into Avignon. This city had belonged to the kings of Naples and Sicily, as kings of Arles and Provence, and having protected many of the Albigenfes, it had been often devoted to destruction by the papal excommunications. The people offered Lewis entrance into their city, if he would give them any assurance of quarter, which he durst not venture to do without the Pope's leave. This rendered their defence very desperate for eight months, and then Lewis, seeing his army reduced to a handful, by the sword, distempers, and famine, granted them a capitulation.

Lewis was then preparing to return to Paris, but falling fick on the road, he died at Montpensier, in the thirty-ninth year of his age. We are told by an English historian *, who lived at this time, that during the fiege of Avignon, famine and pestilence prevailed in the French camp, and killed all kinds of cattle and beasts of burden; that the French being obliged to forage at a great distance from their camp, were cut off by the friends of the besieged, and parties from the towns that the vast number of dead bodies bred such a number of gnats, fies and vermin of every kind, as to render it impoffible for the survivors either to sleep or eat with comfort, or safety. The king of France, upon this, ordered all the dead bodies to be thrown into the Rhone, and retired to Montpensier, that le might avoid the infection. While he remained there, execting every day to hear that the town was surrendered, lenry count of Champagne applied to him for leave to return ome, the forty days being expired, for which he had engaged s service. The king rejected his fuit, and swore, that if he "fifted in it, he would lay waste the count's dominions h fire and sword. The same historian informs us of a report then prevailing 1c count's being deeply in love with the queen, which,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


Of the Inquisition. together with the affront he had received, induced him to give the king poison. The legates and prelates about his person gave out, upon the death of Lewis, that he was only indil. posed, but that he would recover in a short time; and that his orders to the general officers of his army, were to push the fiege with all imaginable vigour. The citizens, however, continuing to make a refolute defence, the legates thought proper to mention an accommodation, and to invite twelve of the chief citizens to a conference. The legate then proposed that he and the other prelates, with their trains only, might be permitted to enter the city, to discourse with the inhabitants concerning the state of their souls, and that they might have an opportunity of clearing them to his holiness from the imputation of heresy. The deputies declared, that their countrymen were resolyed to endure all extremities, rather than submit to French tyranny; but the prelates taking a solemn oath that they meant no more than they pretended, the deputies were, with great difficulty, prevailed upon to take them with them into the town. The gates being opened, a party of the French, as had been preconcerted, rushed in, and getting the better of the centinels, put the inhabitants to the sword, and became masters of the city, which they plundered.

The Pope, at this time, established the court of inquisition, which, in the name of the God of peace, has exercised for several centuries the most shocking cruelties. Of all the unjust tribunals established upon earth, the inquisition is the most iniquitous. This tribunal allows suspicions to be good proof, the appearance of a crime to be really a crime, fuftains the evidence of the most infamous informer, and, withcut mercy, commits thousands of unfortunate victims to the flames. The

power of this infernal tribunal is now much less than it once was; and we may indulge the hope, that the time is not distant, when it will be totally annihilated.

The innocent Albigenses, pursued by their enemies, fell by the swords of the crusaders, or expired in the midst of fames kindled by the inquisition. Many cities were pillaged and destroyed,' and their inhabitants massacred, while the priests, who accompanied the armies, were the first to set fire to the towns and villages. Kaymond, count of Thouloufe, sovereign' of Languedoc, was excommunicated for attempting to assist his subjects; and to save his life, obliged to humble himself before a haughty legate, and submit to the most ignominious penance. But all the cruelties Rome could inflict, did not wholly extirpate the Albigenses; they continued till the reformation, and became a part of the Protestants.

Lewis IX. commonly called St. Lewis, was A.D. 1226. scarce twelve years of age when his father died. During his minority, a variety of dif


orders arofe in France, occafioned chiefly by the ambition of the powerful vassals of the crown. But all these were happily composed by the prudence and firmness of Blanche of Caftile the regent and queen-mother.

Lewis no sooner came of age than he was universally ac, knowledged to be the greatest prince in Europe ; and his character is, perhaps, the most singular in the annals of history, To the mean and abject fuperftition of a monk, he united áll the courage of a hero; nay, what may be deemed still more wonderful, the justice and integrity of the fincere patriot; and, where religion was not concerned, the mildness and hų. manity of the true philosopher.

Being seized with a dangerous illness, which deprived him of his lenses, and almoft of his life, his heated imagination took fire, and he thought he heard a voice commanding him to thed the blood of infidels. He accordingly made a vow, as soon as he recovered to engage in a crusade. His mother, wife, and council, used every argument to dissuade him from such an undertaking. But the circumstances of his kingdom, the interest of his family, and the danger attending fo rash an enterprise, were not fufficient to divert him from his design. He was told that a raih vow is not binding, and that the first duty of a king is to consult the happiness of his people. This salutary advice made no impression on Lewis. After spending four years in preparation, and in settling the government of his kingdom, which he left to the care of his mother, he set out, accompanied by his queen, his three brothers, and almost all the knights of France. Edward, son of Henry III. king of England, joined the crusade with a numerous body of nobility. The army embarked at Aguemortes, failed for Egypt, and landed near Damietta, a strong city, at the mouth of the Nile. "The Mahometans, who lined the shore, attempted, in vain, to hinder the Christians from landing: Lewis, in compléte armour, leaped first on shore. The city of Damietta, which had formerly resisted the attack of the Christians for sixteen months, was evacuated by the infidels on the first assault. But the career of the French king, as he proceeded towards Cairo, was checked by an inundation of the Nile, and by an epidemical disease which this occasioned in his camp. The barons and knights of France exhibited, under the command of their intrepid sovereign, an invincible contempt of danger. About two thousand of the flower of the army, led by the count of Artois, passed the deep and rapid Nile, and with rash valour asfaulted the town of Malfoura. The consternation of the inhabitants disappeared when they learned that the main body of the French were separated by the Nile from the assailants; and, before the




Philip the Third. Christians could arrive, the count of Artois and his companions had gloriously perished in the conflict.

After an arduous contest the French were victorious over the Saracens. This conquest served only to increase their diitress ; they were compelled by the accumulating forces of the infidels, to shelter themselves in a strong camp; while the Nile was occupied by the gallies of Egypt, and the open country by the Arabs. All provision was intercepted, and to retreat was impracticable. Lewis indeed might have escaped by sea; but he gloriously disdained to forsake his subjects in this diftress. After suffering all the horrors of disease and famine, and the inceffant fire of the surrounding Saracens, the king, with his brothers, the count of Anjou, the chief part of his nobles, and the small remains of his army, were taken captives by the victorious infidels.

The splendor of his triumph was obscured by the barbarity of the conquerors, who loaded even their royal prisoners with chains; and who, after having cruelly massacred his subjects who were unable to ransom their lives, expofed their heads on the walls of Cairo, the capital of Egypt. The strength of Damejtta, to which he had intrusted the queen

and his treasures, was the security of Lewis; who at length obtained his deliverance, with that of his queen and his soldiers, by restoring that city, and paying four hundred thoufand pieces of silver.

Thus ended the crufades, undertaken for the recovery of the holy land. These expeditions were the consequence of the religious sentiments and manners of the middle ages, and a lasting proof of the bad effect of wrong principles. The Christians of Europe, took no farther concern in the affairs of their brethren in the caft; and the settlements they had made there, being deprived of assistance, foon came to nothing.

Lewis afterwards led a new army against the infidels of Africa, where he was seized with an epidemic distemper, and died. His son and successor, Philip III. kept the field

ainst the Moors, and saved the remains of the French army, which procured him the name of the Hardy.

The most remarkable circumstance in the A D. 1270. reign of Philip III. a prince of some merit, but

much inferior to his father, is the interest that he took in the affairs of his uncle Charles of Anjou, king of Naples and Sicily, whose subjects-had for fome time submitted with indignation to his cruelty and tyranny. A conspiracy was formed under the auspices of Michael Palæologus, the Greck emperor; a Sicilian nobleman having secretly prepar


« PreviousContinue »