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40
LOUIS XI.


of England, who was to be given the old Plantagenet inheritance. The country was saved a desperate civil war by the death of the king's brother, Charles, the nominal head of the coalition, on the 24th of May 1472. Louis' joy on receiving news of this death knew no bounds. Charles the Bold, who had again invaded France, failed to take Beauvais, and was obliged to make a lasting truce. His projects were henceforth to be directed towards Germany. Louis then forced the duke of Brittany to make peace, and turned against John V. count of Armagnac, whose death at the opening of March 1473 ended the power of one of the most dangerous houses of the south. The first period of Louis' reign was closed, and with it closed for ever the danger of dismemberment of France. John of Aragon continued the war in Roussillon and Cerdagne, which Louis had seized ten years before, and a most desperate rising of the inhabitants protracted the struggle for two years. After the capture of Perpignan on the 10th of March 1475, the wise and temperate government of Imbert de Batarnay and Boffile de Iuge slowly pacified the new provinces. The death of Gaston IV. count of Foix in 1472 opened up the long diplomatic struggle for Navarre, which was destined to pass to the loyal family of Albret shortly after the death of Louis. His policy had won the line of the Pyrenees for France.

The overthrow of Charles the Bold was the second great task of Louis XI. This he accomplished by a policy much like that of Pitt against Napoleon. Louis was the soul of all hostile coalitions, especially urging on the Swiss and Sigismund of Austria, who ruled Tirol and Alsace. Charles's ally, Edward IV., invaded France in June 1475, but Louis bought him off on the 29th of August at Picquigny-where the two sovereigns met on a bridge cver the Somme, with a strong grille between them, Edward receiving 7 5,000 crowns, and a promise of a pension of 50,000 crowns annually. The dauphin Charles was to marry Edward's daughter. Bribery of the English ministers was not spared, and in September the invaders recrossed to England. The count of Saint Pol, who had continued to play his double part, was surrendered by Charles to Louis, and executed, as was also Jacques d'Armagnac, duke of Nemours. With his vassals terrorized and subdued, Louis continued to subsidize the Swiss and René II. of Lorraine in their war upon Charles. The defeat and death of the duke of Burgundy at Nancy on the 5th of January 1477 was the crowning triumph of Louis' diplomacy. But in his eagerness to seize the whole inheritance of his rival, Louis drove his daughter and heiress, Mary of Burgundy, into marriage with Maximilian of Austria (afterwards the emperor Maximilian I.), who successfully defended Flanders after a savage raid by Antoine de Chabannes. The battle of Guinegate on the 7th of August 1479 was indecisive, and definite peace was not established until after the death of Mary, when by the treaty of Arras (1482) Louis received Picardy, Artois and the Boulonnais, as well as the duchy of Burgundy and Franche Comté. The Austrians were left in Flanders, a menace and a danger. Louis failed here and in Spain; this failure being an indirect cause of that vast family compact which surrounded France later with the empire of Charles V. His interference in Spain had made both John II. of Aragon and Henry IV. of Castile his enemies, and so he was unable to prevent the marriage of their heirs, Ferdinand and Isabella. But the results of these marriages could not be foreseen, and the unification of France proved of more value than the possession of so wide-spread an empire. This unification was completed (except for Brittany) and the frontiers enlarged by the acquisition, upon the death of René of Anjou in 1480, of the duchies of Anjou and Bar, and in 1481 of Maine and Provence upon the death of Charles II., count of Maine. Of the inheritance of the house of Anjou only Lorraine escaped the king.

Failure in Spain was compensated for in Italy. Without waging war Louis made himself virtual arbiter of the fate of the principalities in the north, and his court was always besieged by ambassadors from them. After the death of Charles the Bold, Yolande, duchess of Savoy, was obliged to accept the control of Louis, who was her brother. In Milan he helped to place Lodovico il Moro in power in 1479, but he reaped less from this supple tyrant than he had expected. Pope Sixtus IV. the enemy of the Medici, was also the enemy of the king of France. Louis, who at the opening of his reign had denounced the Pragmatic Sanction of 1438, had played fast and loose with the papacy. When Sixtus threatened Florence after the Pazzi conspiracy, 1478, Louis aided Lorenzo dei Medici to form ar alliance with Naples, which forced the papacy to come to terms. More than any other king of France, Louis XI. was a “ bourgeois king.” The upper bourgeois, the aristocracy of his “ good cities, ” were his allies both against the nobles and against the artisan class, whenever they revolted, driven to desperation by the oppressive royal taxes which furnished the money for his wars or diplomacy. He ruled like a modern capitalist; placed his bribes like investments in the courts of his enemies; and, while draining the land of enormous sums, was pitiless toward the two productive portions of his realm, the country population and the artisans. His' heartlessness toward the former provoked even an accomplice like Commines to protest. The latter were kept down by numerous edicts, tending to restrict to certain privileged families the rank of master workman in the gilds. There was the paternalism of a Frederick the Great in his encouragement of the silk industry, -“ which all idle people ought to be made to work at, ”-in his encouragement of commerce through the newly acquired port of Marseilles and the opening up of market placed. He even dreamed of a great trading company “ of two hundred thousand livres or more, ” to monopolize the trade of the Mediterranean, and planned to unify the various systems of weights and measures; In 1479 he called a meeting of two burgesses from each “ good city ” of his realm to consider means for preventing the influx of foreign coin. Impatient of all restraint upon his personal rule, he was continually in Violent dispute with the parlement of Paris, and made “ justice ” another name for arbitrary government; yet he dreamed of a unification of the local customary laws (codtumes) of France. He was the perfect model of a tyrant. The states-general met but once in his reign, in 1468, and then no talk of grievances was allowed; his object was only to get them to declare Normandy inalienable from the crown. They were informed that the king could raise his revenue without consulting them. Yet his budgets were enormously greater than ever before. In 1481 the taille alone brought in 4,600,000 livres, and even at the peaceful close of his reign his whole budget was 4,65 5,000 livres—as against 1,800,000 livres at the close of his father's reign.

The king who did most for French royalty would have made a sorry figure at the court of a Louis XIV. He was ungainly, with rickety legs. His eyes were keen and piercing, but a long hooked nose lent grotesqueness to a face marked with cunning rather than with dignity. Its ugliness was emphasized by the old felt hat which he wore, -~its sole ornament the leaden figure of a saint. Until the close of his life, when he tried to mislead ambassadors as to the state of his health by gorgeous robes, he wore the meanest clothes. Dressed in grey like a pilgrim, and accompanied by five or six trustworthy servants, he would set out on his interminable travels, “ ambling along on a good mule.” Thus he traversed France, avoiding all ceremony, entering towns by back streets, receiving ambassadors in wayside huts, dining in public houses, enjoying the loose manners and language of his associates, and incidentally learning at first hand the condition of his people and the possibilities of using or taxing them-his needs of them rather than theirs of him. He loved to win men, especially those of the middle class, by affability and familiarity, employing all his arts to cajole and seduce those whom he needed. Yet his honied words easily turned to gall. He talked rapidly and much, sometimes for hours at a time, and most indiscreetly. He was not an agreeable companion, violent in his .passions, nervous, restless, and in old age extremely irascible. Utterly unscrupulous, and without a. trace of pity, he treated men like pawns, and was content only with absolute obedience.

But this Machiavellian prince was the genuine son of St Louis.