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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 273



and Sir Thomas Grey, whose heads were struck off on the thirteenth of August, 1415, the very day on which Henry put to sea. After a prosperous voyage, Henry disembarked his army, consisting of six thousand mei.-at-arms, and twenty-four thousand archers, on the banks of the Seine, about four miles to the seaward of Harfleur; a strong fortress, which he besieged with such vigour, that on the fifth week the garrison surrendered at discretion. But gratifying as this victory was, it was won at the cost of many brave lives ; and what seemed to heighten the misfortune, the whole army was attacked with a dysentery,which made such ravages,that in a short time three-fourths of the troops were disabled from carrying arms, and the autumn rains bad set in with such force, that the country around appeared one huge swamp. It therefore became necessary to retire to winter quarters, as with such a force, and under such circumstances, no expedition of importance could be attempted. The King's honour was now at stake ; and, although he might have embarked at Harfleur, he, to avoid incurring the imputation of cowardice, and in opposition to the advice of his council, took the bold resolution of retiring by land to Calais. In this retreat, which was at once both painful and dangerous, Henry took every method to inspire his troops with courage and perseverance, and shewed them in himself an extraordinary example of patience and resignation. Meanwhile the Constable of France, at the head of one hundred thousand wellarmed fighting men, obstructed his passage in a strong position, but a few miles from the village of Maisoncelles. To fight or surrender was now the only alternative ; Henry chose the former, and with a few resolute Englishmen completely routed the gigantic French army, r and won the glorious victory of Agincourt,on the twenty-fifth of October, 1415. In this sanguinary battle France lost the flower of her nobility. Amongst the slain, which in all amounted to ten thousand, were numbered the three Dukes of Brabant, Bar, and Alençon, the Constable and Admiral of France, seven counts, more than one nundred baronets, and eight thousand knights and esquires. The prisoners numbered fourteen thousand; amongst whom were the Dukes of Orleans and Bourbon, the Counts of Eu, Vendôme, Riehemont, and Estonterulle, and the Marshal da BouCicaut. The defeat at Agincourt struck consternation into the heart of France, and was followed by calamities the most direful that well can befall a nation. King Charles was suffering from one of those severe fits of insanity to which he was so liable; the Dauphin, Loui3, and John, poisoned, it was said, by their unnatural mother, Isabella, had followed each other to the grave in quick succession ; the reins of government were fiercely contested for by the Count of Armagnac and the Duke of Burgundy ; and, indeed, order and law were trampled underfoot, and anarchy, famine, and pestilence, with their attendants, robbery and murder, were everywhere fearfully rife. "Whilst matters were in this state, the detestable Q,ueen of France, aided by the Duke of Burgundy, escaped from her confinement at Tours, and under pretence that the King, her husband, was captive in the hands of the Dauphin and the Count of Armagnac, assumed the regency, and obtained possession of Katherine, and other of her children. Meanwhile, Henry, bent upon the conquest of France, had returned to England, recruited his forces, and with an army of twenty-six thousand landed in Normandy, where his efforts were crowned with complete success. Bayeau, Villors, Falaise, and, in fact, the whole of Lower Normandy, were conquered in the campaign of 1417. In the following year, the state of France was more deplorable then ever, The Queen and the Duke of Burgundy ruled at Paris, and the Dauphin and hÌ3 partizans at Poictiers, The rival chiefs being more hostile to each other than to their natural enemy, the King of England, they each courted his assistance for their own interest, by offers such as no true French patriot could have made. These offers Henry judiciously rcfused,and theFrench Queen, talented as she was cruel, tried the expedient of sending him the por


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