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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 257



Navarre graced the nuptials with their presence, and Duke John testified hia joy by keeping an open house for a fortnight afterwards at Nantes, where all comers were sumptuously feasted and entertained with pageants, mummeries, jousts, and other sports and gaieties. Joanna had been a wifo but a few months, when her no less profligate than perfidious father met with a horrible death. "At last," says Mezerai, "by a just punishment from heaven, Charles the Wicked, who had blown up so manv flames, and burnt so many entrails with his deadly poisons, and who had long suffered from so many bodily maladies, was most cruelly burnt himself. He had caused the whole of his body to be wrapped in sheets, saturated with a solution of spirits of wine and sulphur, with a view to restore heat and vigour to his paralytic frame. By some accident this took fire, and burned him so dreadfully that the flesh fell from the bones, and three days afterwards he expired in excruciating agony, on the first of January, 1387." Just previous to his death, which none but his relations moaned, Charles the Bad basely insinuated to Duke John that a criminal intimacy had taken place between his fair young bride, the Duchess of Brittany, and his wealthy vassal, Clisson, the powerful Constable of France. This insinuation so excited the ire of the irrascible duke, that he vowed to be revenged or die in the attempt ; and but for the wise counsel and Btrenuous efforts of Joanna, who possessed great influence over his heart, he, to punish the guiltless Clisson, would, doubtless, have brought ruin on the heads of his friends and himself. Not dreaming of harm, Clisson, in 1387, went to dispatch the fleet destined for the invasion of England, from Triguier in Brittany, to join the armament at Sluys. On hearing that Clisson was in Brittany, Duko John resolved to be revenged upon him. For this purpose he invited him to dinner ; and afterwards prevailed on him, together with the Lords Laval and Beaumanoir, to corno with him and see his newly-built castle of Ermine, After they had examined the chambers, the stables, and the wine-cellars with infinite delight, the constable incautiously went into the keep alone, where he was suddenly seized by four armed men, who loaded him with irons, and shut him in a dark, dank dungeon. As they closed the door upon him it was slammed with violence ; Xaval and Beaumanoir heard the noise, and suspecting a plot against the constable, accused the Duke to his face of treachery, "Words ran high—• villain, traitor, and other opprobrious epithets passed from mouth to mouth; and at length, the Duke, in a fit of fury, ordered Beaumanoir to be arrested, ironed, and locked up. The duke then called in his trusty servant, Bazvalen, and taking him aside, commanded him to see that Clisson was privately assassinated at midnight. Bazvalen, however, had not the heart to commit so brutal a murder ; and on the next morning, when his anger had subsided, the Duke, right glad that his sanguinary mandate was unfulfilled, released Clisson and Beaumanoir for a ransom of one hundred thousand francs, and several castles. The constable, incensed beyond measure against the Duke of Brittany, now hastened to Paris, and accusing him of treason, threw down his gage of battle, which, however, no one took up. The French King, indignant at the arrogance and disloyalty of the duke, addressed to him several sharp reproofs ; but so far from apologizing, John the Valiant replied that he regretted nothing so much as releasing Clisson, when he might have taken his life. The French monarch answered these insolent taunts by a declaration of war, which was met with bombastic threats and scornful defiances from the more valiant than discreet duke. The fury of the gathering storm was, however, averted by the tact and discretion of Joanna, who seconded the efforts of the council of Brittany so effectually, that in 1388, Duke John relented, restored to the constable his money and his castles ; and by the favour of the Dukes of Burgundy and Bern, was received with kindness by his


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