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THE DEATH OF BAYARD
 THE constable of France at this time was Charles, Duke
of Bourbon, one of the
proudest and wealthiest of the French nobles. He had
been at the "Field of the Cloth
of Gold" with Francis; and Henry, seeing his greatness
and his riches had said in
his rough way, that if he had such a subject in
England, he would not long leave his
head on his shoulders
Louise of Savoy, the king's mother, who had no love for
the constable, quarrelled
with him, and then persuaded Francis to take from him
all his wealth and estates.
Bourbon was indignant with the king for treating him so harshly, and left his
service, offering to fight for the Emperor Charles. The emperor was too wise to
refuse Bourbon's offer, and soon the constable found himself commander of part of
Charles's troops in Italy, and forced to fight against
his king and his country. For
Francis had again sent an army to Italy to lay siege to
The siege was not successful, Bourbon forcing the
French to raise it, and so
harassing the army that it broke its ranks and seemed
as though it would flee in
Bayard, although not commander of the French, rallied
the troops, and charged the
emperor's troops. The brave knight, however, was
wounded, his reins falling from his
hands as he cried, "Jesus, my Lord, I am dead."
Then lifting the sword to his lips, he kissed the
handle as though it were a cross,
saying as he did so, "Have pity on me, O God, according
to Thy great mercy."
One of his servants helped the wounded knight to
dis-  mount, and placed him
under a tree, his face to the enemy. Then weeping
bitterly, for he saw that his
master was nigh to death, the servant refused to leave
As Bayard lay beneath the tree. Bourbon rode past in
hot pursuit of the French. But
seeing the good knight, he drew up, and dismounting
came near to him and said,
"Bayard, my friend, I am sore distressed at your
mishap; there is nothing for it but
patience. Give not way to melancholy. I will send in
search of the best surgeons in
the country, and by God's help you will soon be
"My lord," answered the knight without fear and without
reproach, "there is no pity
for me. I die, having done my duty; but I have pity for
you to see you serving
against your king, your country, and your oath."
Then Bourbon, silent and ashamed, turned and left the
brave knight alone with his
faithful servant. A few hours later Bayard died, a
captive in the enemy's camp. And
bitterly was he missed by all who loved him.
A loyal servant, or servitor as he was called, in after
days wrote the life of the
good knight Bayard, and he tells us that "among all
sorts of men Bayard was the most
gracious person imaginable. Of worldly pelf he took no
thought at all, as he clearly
proved, being at his death little richer than he was at
his birth-hour. It was his
creed that riches ennoble not the heart." Soon after
Bayard's death the king's army
returned to France.
Bourbon, you remember, was silent and ashamed when
Bayard reproached him for his
disloyalty, but he did not alter his conduct. In 1525,
one year after Bayard's
death, Bourbon actually led the army of the emperor
into France and besieged
Marseilles, boasting that he would soon dethrone
But so angry were the French with the constable for
daring to lead a foreign foe
into France, that they fought with unconquerable
determination, until the siege was
given up. Bourbon was pursued for a long way by his
 angry fellow-countrymen,
and he found it wise to retreat as quickly as he was
able toward Italy.
Francis was so pleased that the enemy had been forced
to retreat, that, against the
advice of his counsellors, he resolved himself to carry
the war into Italy and
besiege the town of Pavia.
Thinking that he could easily hold the town, Francis,
again refusing to listen to
his advisers, sent a body of his soldiers away from
Pavia to seize Naples.
But soon the French king found that he had been foolish
to weaken his forces. For
Pescara, leader of the emperor's forces, as well as
Bourbon, with a large band of
German mercenaries, were advancing upon the town.
Francis might still have raised the siege and withdrawn
to a place of safety, but
again he refused to listen to his older counsellors,
while his favourites swayed him
as they pleased.
"A French king does not change his plans for his
enemies," they said to him more
than once, and Francis was soon ready to echo their
words. Believing them, he would
not raise the siege of Pavia, but waited beneath her
walls for Pescara and the
It was February 1525 when the emperor's troops reached
the French camp, and even got
inside the entrenchments.
They were fiercely attacked by the French artillery,
and, being exposed on every
side, the cannonade was so deadly that "you could see
nothing but heads and arms
flying in the air."
To escape from this terrific fire, the emperor's troops
turned to find shelter; but
Francis, thinking that they had taken to flight, at
once left his entrenchments to
Unfortunately the king and those who were with him now
placed themselves between the
enemy and their own soldiers, who were no longer able
to let their cannon play on
the foe, lest they should strike their king.
Pescara, seeing what had happened, led his troops on,
 and soon he had
completely cut Francis off from his camp and the main
body of his army.
The French king, hemmed in by the Spanish, fought
bravely. Even when he was wounded
in his face, arms, legs, he still fought on.
Erelong his horse fell, mortally wounded, dragging his
rider with him to the ground.
In a moment, however, Francis was on his feet, fighting
as fiercely as before.
The Spanish soldiers crowded round this knight who was
so tall, so strong, so brave.
They did not know it was the king, yet they knew that
to capture this gallant prince
would be to win a prize. Golden buttons studded his
coat of mail, which also bore
upon it the royal lilies of France, while long thick
plumes waved upon his helmet.
It seemed that the soldiers did not notice the royal
lilies. As the soldiers pressed
ever more closely upon him, a friend of Bourbon rode
along, and, seeing the king,
defenceless now amid the rough soldiers, he drove them
away, begging Francis to
surrender to the constable, who was not far away.
"No, by my faith," answered the king, "rather would I
die than surrender to a
traitor." And as Francis spoke those words he was every
inch a king.
At this moment a Spanish officer arrived, and kneeling
before Francis received from
him his sword.
The battle of Pavia was over, the French king being a
prisoner in the hands of the
emperor, while half the nobles of France lay slain upon
the battlefield. Francis
wrote sadly to his mother to tell her of the great
disaster. "There is nothing in
the world left to me," he told her, "but honour and my
life, which is safe."
Charles meanwhile ordered his royal prisoner to be
taken to Spain, where he was shut
up in a gloomy tower in Madrid. Poor pleasure-loving
The loneliness and dullness of the days soon made the
king long to make terms with
the emperor, which at
 first he had declared he
would never do, not if he
remained a prisoner all his life.
So in 1526, that he might gain his freedom, Francis
signed the Treaty of Madrid, and
agreed to send his two little sons as hostages to
Spain. The king was then free to
return to France. When he reached French soil he sprang
gaily upon a fine Arab horse
that awaited him, and galloped off to his mother and
sister, who were ready to
welcome him. As he rode away he cried to his courtiers,
"So now I am once more a
king." But that Francis might be free his two little
sons were banished from their