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DAVID HUME, ESQ.
THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND
When we consider such powerful and martial monarchs, inflamed with personal animosity against each other, enraged by mutual injuries, excited by rivalship, impelled by opposite interests, and instigated by the pride and violence of their own temper, our curiosity is naturally raised, and we expect an obstinate and furious war, distinguished by the greatest events, and concluded by some remarkable catastrophe. Yet are the incidents which attended those hostilities so frivolous, that scarce any historian can entertain such a passion for military descriptions as to venture on a detail of them; a certain proof of the extreme weakness of princes in those ages, and of the little authority they possessed over their refractory vassals The whole amount of the exploits on both sides, is the taking of a castle, the surprise of a straggling party, a rencounter of horse, which resembles more a rout than a battle. Richard obliged Philip to raise the siege of Verneuil; he took Loches, a small town in Anjou; he made himself master of Beaumont, and some other places of little consequence; and after these trivial exploits, the two kings began already to hold conferences for an accommodation. Philip insisted that, if a general peace were concluded, the barons on each side should for the future be prohibited from carrying on private wars against each other; but Richard replied, that this was a right claimed by his vassals, and he could not debar them from it After this fruitless negotiation, there ensued an action between the French and English cavalry at Fretteval, in which the former were routed, and the king of France's cartulary and records, which commonly at that time attended his person, were taken. But this victory leading to no important advantages, a truce for a year was at last, from mutual weakness, concluded between the two monarchs. During this war, Prince John deserted from Philip, threw himself at his brother's feet, craved pardon for his offences, and by the intercession of Queen Eleanor was received into favor. "I forgive him, " said the king, "and hope I shall as easily forget his injuries as he will my pardon. " John was incapable even of returning to his duty without committing a baseness. Before he left Philip's party, he invited to dinner all the officers of the garrison which that prince had placed in the citadel of Evreux; he massacred them during the entertainment; fell, with the assistance of the townsmen, on the garrison, whom he put to the sword; and then delivered up the place to his brother. The king of France was the great object of Richard's resentment and animosity. The conduct of John, as well as that of the emperor and duke of Austria, had been so base, and was exposed to such general odium and reproach, that the king deemed himself sufficiently revenged for their injuries; and he seems never to have entertained any project of vengeance against any of them. The duke of Austria, about this time, having crushed his leg by the fall of his horse at a tournament, was thrown into a fever; and being struck, on the approaches of death, with remorse for his injustice to Richard, he ordered by will all the English hostages in his hands to be set at liberty and the remainder of the debt due to him to be remitted: his son, who seemed inclined to disobey these orders, was constrained by his ecclesiastics to execute them.(*)
1195. The emperor also made advances for Richard's friendship, and offered to give him a discharge of all the debt not yet paid to him, provided he would enter into an offensive alliance against the king of France; a proposal which was very acceptable to Richard, and was greedily embraced by him. The treaty with the emperor took no effect; but it served to rekindle the war between France and England before the expiration of the truce.
[* Rymer, vol. i. p. 88, 102.]
This war was not distinguished by any more remarkable incidents than the foregoing. After mutually ravaging the open country, and taking a few insignificant castles, the two kings concluded a peace at Louviers, and made an exchange of some territories with each other.(*)
1196. Their inability to wage war occasioned the peace; their mutual antipathy engaged them again in war before two months expired. Richard imagined that he had now found an opportunity of gaining great advantages over his rival, by forming an alliance with the counts of Flanders, Toulouse, Boulogne, Champagne, and other considerable vassals of the crown of France.(**) But he soon experienced the insincerity of those princes; and; was not able to make any impression on that kingdom, while governed by a monarch of so much vigor and activity as Philip. The most remarkable incident of this war was the taking prisoner, in battle, the bishop of Beauvais, a martial prelate who was of the family of Dreux, and a near relation of the French king. Richard, who hated that bishop, threw him into prison, and loaded him with irons; and when the pope demanded his liberty, and claimed him as his son, the king sent to his holiness the coat of mail which the prelate had worn in battle, and which was all besmeared with blood; and he replied to him in the terms employed by Jacob's sons to that patriarch: "This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. "(***) This new war between England and France, though carried on with such animosity that both kings frequently put out the eyes of their prisoners, was soon finished by a truce of five years; and immediately after signing this treaty, the kings were ready, on some new offence, to break out again into hostilities, when the mediation of the cardinal of St. Mary, the pope's legate, accommodated the difference.(****) This prelate even engaged the princes to commence a treaty for a more durable peace; but the death of Richard put an end to the negotiation.
[* Rymer, vol. i. p. 91]
[** W. Heming, p. 549. Brompton, p. 1273. Rymer, vol i. p. 94.]
[*** Genesis, chap, xxxvii. ver. 32. M. Paris, p; 128. Brompton, p. 1273]
[**** Rymer, vol. i. p. 109, 110.]1199.
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