LOUIS XI VISITS CHARLES THE BOLD
 LOUIS had been forced to sign the Treaty of Conflans,
but he meant to win back all
that the treaty had yielded as soon as possible, either
by force or craft.
His first move was to persuade the parliament of Paris
to disown the agreement. This
left the king free to march into Normandy, which by the
treaty he had given to his
brother Charles, and, wresting it from him, to join
Normandy again to the kingdom of
By the death of Philip, in 1467, Charles the Bold
became Duke of Burgundy. He found
his hands full, quelling the rebellions which
continually broke out among his
These rebellions, as perhaps Charles guessed, were
stirred up and encouraged by King
Louis. The French king was growing more powerful than
Charles liked. He determined,
therefore, to make an alliance with Edward IV. of
England, and persuade him to
As King Louis had a large and well-trained army, he
might easily have marched at
once against the Duke of Burgundy, and crushed his
plans in the bud. But, urged by
Cardinal Balue, he determined, instead of fighting, to
try to make terms with
Charles the Bold.
Nor would the king be persuaded to send an ambassador
to arrange matters with his
enemy. His vanity whispered to him that his was the
only brain that could outwit the
duke; and some of his counsellors, more especially
 knowing that it
would please the king, assured him that it was indeed
In due time. therefore, the king sent to ask his enemy
for a safe-conduct, to which
Charles answered, "My lord, if it is your pleasure to
come to this town of Peronne
for to see us, I swear to you and promise you, by my
faith and on my honour, that
you may come, remain, sojourn, and go back safely . . .
at your pleasure, as many
times as it may please you."
King Louis, having received this letter, set out for
Peronne, taking with him, to
the dismay of his subjects only a small escort of his
Scottish archers and sixty
men-at-arms. When the wiser of his counsellors spoke of
peril Louis laughed. Had he
not with him the duke's letter of safe-conduct?
As the king approached Peronne, Charles came to the
entrance of the town to meet his
guest, and bareheaded they embraced one another. Then
together they walked through
the streets of the town, Louis's hand resting in
friendly fashion on the duke's
The king was taken to a comfortable house, within sight
of the tower of Peronne,
where once, said Charles grimly, "a King of France lay
It nowise disturbed Louis to hear of the royal prisoner
of past years, but when he
found the royal prisoner of past years, but when he
found that his guards were to be
lodged at the other end of the town he liked it little
Still less was he pleased
when, looking out of a window he saw some of his
bitterest enemies riding through
Turning to the duke, he begged that he might be lodged
in the castle, for Louis felt
that he would be safer under the same roof as his host.
Charles at once gave orders that the king should be
moved to the castle, at the same
time assuring him that he had no cause for doubt.
The next day King Louis and the duke were discussing
 terms of peace, when they
were interrupted by tidings from Liege that roused
Charles to fury.
Before Louis had gone to Peronne he had foolishly sent
two men to this very town,
which belonged to the duke, bidding them encourage the
citizens to revolt against
their lord. They were to promise the citizens the help
of the King of France in
The trouble between the duke and his subjects at Liege
was chiefly concerned with
the bishop, who was under Charles's protection. He had
lately been sent to a town
called Tongres, to be safe from the dislike of the
citizens of Liège, and was there
under the care of a nobleman.
But now the people of Liège, urged by Louis's
ambassadors, rose in a body, rushed to
Tongres, and (so ran the story which was brought to the
duke) killed both the bishop
and the nobleman.
Charles had little doubt that it was the King of France
who had encouraged the
citizens of Liege to revolt. For three days, so great
was his anger, he shut himself
up in his own rooms, striding up and down in his rage,
and crying, "So the king came
here only to deceive me! It is he who by his
ambassadors excited these bad folk of
Liege, but by St. George they shall be severely
punished for it, and he himself
shall have cause to repent."
For a time it seemed that Louis was hardly likely to
leave the castle alive. Orders
were given to close the gates of the town as well as
every entrance to the castle.
At the end of three days Charles went to see King
Louis, who had been kept more or
less as a prisoner in his room.
Louis had already tried to appease the angry duke by
offering, through Charles's
courtiers, to accept any conditions of peace that the
duke should propose.
Meanwhile Charles, finding himself in the presence of
the king, found it impossible
to conceal his anger,
 As he spoke his voice
trembled with rage and his words
"Brother," said Louis, dismayed at the duke's manner,
"I am safe, am I not, in your
house and your country?"
"Yes, sire," answered Charles, making a violent effort
to control his temper; "yes,
sire, so safe that if I saw an arrow from a bow coming
towards you, I would throw
myself in the way to protect you."
The duke then laid a treaty before Louis, asking him if
he were willing to sign it.
Louis did not dare to anger his host anew by refusing.
But, although he solemnly
swore upon a piece of the true Cross, he was no sooner
safe in Paris than he did all
he could to evade the treaty he had been forced to sign
But there was further penance than signing a treaty
before Louis ere he was free to
go home. Charles the Bold was going with an army to
Liege to punish his rebellious
subjects, and he blandly proposed to Louis that he also
should go to help him.
You can imagine how unpleasant this would be to Louis.
The citizens of Liège had
been promised his help, had hung his banners from their
However, the French king could not afford to displease
Charles, and he agreed to
As they approached the walls of the town, Louis saw his
own banners waving in the
air, heard his own battle-cry, "Viva France!" ringing
in his ears; while the
citizens, to their surprise and dismay, saw the false
king riding against them with
their angry lord.
There was no mistake. The townsfolk looked again. Yes,
there was Louis, side by side
with Duke Charles; in his hat the Cross of St. Andrew
of Burgundy. They not only
saw, they heard, for Louis was shouting valiantly,
"Hurrah for Duke Charles! Hurrah
Surprise was soon lost in indignation, for the citizens
 knew that without
Louis's aid they were helpless in the hands of their
The duke was in no mood to show mercy. He first pulled
down the walls of the city,
and then put many of the inhabitants to death. Only
when Liege lay in ruins did
Charles allow the King of France to go home.
Louis got safely back to Paris, but he was downcast and
disappointed. His journey to
Peronne had been a failure.
Cardinal Balue, who had urged the king to visit
Charles, had all the while been in
the pay of the duke. This Louis had discovered while he
was in Peronne, and now that
he was safely home again he speedily wreaked his
vengeance on his former favourite.
He ordered the cardinal to be imprisoned in a cage
which he had himself invented.
When Balue heard his sentence he knew that it would be
hopeless to think of escape.
He had planned the cage too skilfully for that to be
possible. For ten long years
the unfortunate man was thus "snared in the work of
his hands," and only when Louis
was old and ill was he released by the request of the
In 1470, about a year after Louis had been at Peronne,
he ordered an assembly of
notables to meet him at Tours. These notables were all
lawyers and magistrates whom
the king himself had chosen.
Before these men the king declared that the Duke of
Burgundy had not kept his side
of the Treaty of Peronne, whereupon the notables said
that since the duke had broken
faith, he, the king, might well evade his part of the
Thereupon Louis sent his constable St. Pol to seize
some of the duke's border towns.
Among these was Amiens. Many other towns also,
frightened by Charles's severity to
the inhabitants of Liège, seemed inclined to go over to
the French king.
Charles the Bold, seeing that in the meantime the king
had got the upper hand, was
forced to lay aside his pride, and sign a truce with
Louis at Amiens in 1471.
 The constable St. Pol meanwhile, bent on gaining
more power for himself, tried
to form a new league against the king. He and the Duke
of Brittany even encouraged
Louis's enemy, Charles the Bold, to give his daughter
Mary to the king's brother,
the Duke of Guienne.
To protect himself from the league, Louis turned to the
Pope for help. He also
ordered that the bells of all the Paris churches should
be rung at noon, that men
might pray each day for peace. He even offered splendid
terms to the Duke of
Burgundy, if he would promise not to give his daughter
to the Duke of Guienne.
During these months, while Louis did all he could to
defeat his foes, his brother,
who had never been strong, grew gradually worse, and in
May 1472 he died.
The king had watched, with an eagerness he did not try
to hide, for the news of his
brother's death, knowing that it would spoil his
When at length the tidings he wished arrived, he sent
his soldiers into Guienne, and
speedily dismissed the ambassadors from Burgundy.
Charles the Bold saw that his league with St. Pol and
the Duke of Brittany was
likely to be useless now that the king's brother was
dead. In his rage he at once
broke the truce of Amiens and crossed into France,
burning towns and villages
wherever he went.
At length, having been beaten by the king's troops,
Charles marched into Normandy,
hoping that the Duke of Brittany would join him.
But Louis invaded Brittany and kept the duke busy
defending his own possessions,
until at length he was glad to give up his alliance
with Charles, and make peace
with the king.
The Duke of Burgundy, finding that the lords who had
joined the league were all
either dead or beaten by Louis, hastened back to
Burgundy with his army, and in
November 1472 he again signed a truce with the King of
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics