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They elected a leader, called William Karl, or Callet, Chap. and rushed to the attack and destruction of the houses X1, of the nobles. These hundreds soon swelled to thousands, and there was no excess of which they were not guilty: they slew the nobles themselves, with their wives and children, first treating the women with every indignity, their avowed purpose being to extinguish the race. They roasted a noble before the eyes of his family, and sought to make it eat the flesh of the victim. Saracen or Christian, says Froissart, never committed such iniquities.
The name given to the French peasant by the wits of the time was Jacques Bonhomme. The truth of the latter epithet it seemed their aim to disprove, for never was greater malignity shown. There remains a doubt as to how far the townsfolk may have excited their rustic brethren to this revolt; but it does not appear that any great town made common cause with them. They were repulsed from Compiegne though they entered Senlis. Marcel endeavoured to make use of the Jacques in humbling the noblesse and destroying their strongholds, without the infamy of outraging women and slaying children. But whilst Marcel was politic enough to make this attempt, the King of Navarre could not but sympathise with the noblesse, and fly to their aid. The Jacques, knowing his liberal reputation, were inclined to negotiate with him, which enabled the King of Navarre to entice the chief and some of his officers to parley. While thus engaged, they were surprised, bound, and decapitated. This is not the last instance of a magnate betraying those who trusted, and massacring those who could have best supported him. Charles afterwards attacked the army of Jacques, and slew 3000 of them.
The regent, after holding the estates of Champagne and of Vermandois, and procuring their adhesion, took his principal military post at Meaux in order to
Chap, straiten Paris. To this place not only did his troops L repair, but the ladies of the court, the Duchess of Normandy and of Orleans, as well as the wives of the noblesse, betook themselves to Meaux as to a place of safety. The market of this town, surrounded by walls and by water, had been rendered a fortress by the regent. The Jacques attacked the town, in concert with a few Parisians, and easily made themselves masters of all save the market. The Count of Foix, and the Captal de Buch, Gascon nobles, were returning from a campaign with the Teutonic Knights of Prussia against the pagans, when they heard of the peril of the noble ladies at Meaux. Though the captal was a subject of King Edward, he still flew with De Foix to the rescue of the 300 ladies menaced by the Jacques; and these were routed and driven into the Maine with great slaughter. The victors of Meaux then attacked Senlis; there the citizens and Jacques fought together, and made a most obstinate resistance. But the nobles, reinforced by knights and nobles from Brabant, Hainault, and the Gascon hordes, annihilated the peasantry, notwithstanding their numbers; and the insurrection of the Jacques was drowned in blood.
The remarkable feature of the Jacquerie is its extreme ferocity: the refinement of cruelty practised by the peasant upon the lord, the indignities offered to the women, the pitiless massacre of children. Such acts would appear impossible in a Christian country, had not the prelates and high churchmen themselves set the example in their crusades against the Albigenses. Ever since that time, ferocity had been increasing,—kings, judges, and politicians grew every day less scrupulous and more sanguinary. The honour of the feudal gentleman was extinct, at least in the breast of princes. The equity of the Roman law, boasted to have superseded barbarism, was but chicanery in the service of tyranny and bloodshed. Religion was silent; its benevolent action seemed suspended. The Popes from Avi- Cl^'
gnon sent legates from time to time, to recommend peace
between England and France. But no one seemed to pay the least attention to them: there were no eminent, no influential ecclesiastics; the only churchmen who showed talent were in the ranks of the Parisian democracy. Rienzi lorded it at Rome, as Marcel did in Paris. The French patronage or absorption of the Papacy had paralysed the religion of which it was the chief. No marvel that such events gave birth to a Wicliffe in England. In France, the struggle between citizen and noble, between the representative of the king and the chief prince of the blood, between the functionary and the reformer, the debaser of the coin and the town politician, so absorbed every thought and every energy, that the cause of religious freedom, or that of religious orthodoxy, were alike forgotten : and, whether fortunately or unfortunately, fanaticism did not form an element of the time.
The muster of knights and nobles to put down the Jacques came exceedingly opportune for the regent. In their minds, the excesses of the peasants, and those of the Parisians, were equally subversive of order, of loyalty, and of right. The duke was therefore able to approach Paris from the east with 7000 lances. He occupied the bridge of St. Maur and that of Charenton, thus stopping all the provisions that reached the capital by either the Seine or the Marne. Marcel had recourse to the King of Navarre, who came to Paris, harangued as usual, and was elected captain. But those who " wore mail," the knights and nobles, would not trust themselves in the hands of the Parisians, much less espouse their cause; and their new chief could only bring an army of mercenaries, English, as they were all called, of whatever nation they might be, with James Pype at their head. These soldiers agreed ill with the Parisians, and even created by their licentiousness a beginning of
Chap, disaffection towards Marcel, as well as disgust towards XL his ally. The mercenaries, moreover, infinitely preferred the sojourn of open fields and villages, with large opportunities for plunder, to being shut up in a walled town. Their head-quarters were therefore removed to St. Denys, a detachment of them occupying St. Cloud. Several skirmishes took place between the two armies: on one occasion the King of Navarre, advancing upon Charenton, met the regent's forces "with long discourses, and no combat," says the continuator of Nangis, which raised considerable suspicion. The discourses led to an interview between them; and the interview to an agreement, of which some of the conditions remained secret. The King of Navarre received a large sum of money, and promised that the Parisians should furnish a much larger sum, for the king's ransom. Froissart says, it was stipulated that Marcel and his colleagues should be punished for the murder of the marshals. The king, if he really made such promises, was in no condition to perform them. Summoned by the Parisians, he and his mercenaries were obliged to join in a fresh attack, which did not prevent negotiations from being renewed. The evident relations and understanding between the King of Navarre and the regent, had different effects upon the Provost Marcel, and upon the mass of the Parisians, who habitually supported him. The latter was alarmed at a desertion which must prove fatal to hiin. The people were not less alarmed than indignant: and they could neither approve nor comprehend the sacri"fices which Marcel daily made to keep his royal associate true to his trust. The provost sent money in considerable quantities to St. Denys, and promised, it is said, to proclaim the King of Navarre Monarch of France, and thus protect his English mercenaries against the justice or the rage of the people. These soldiers had pillaged all the environs of the capital; driven monks and nuns, even those of Montmartre, to take
refuge within the walls; and even in the city committed Chap. the greatest excesses. At last there sprung up a deter- XL mined war between the mercenaries and the Parisians, the latter making expeditions to surprise and punish them, but being generally themselves surprised and slain by those hardy and wary soldiers. It became, at last, impossible for Marcel to keep his position and defend the capital, whilst the citizens treated at once the troops of the regent and those of the opposite faction as enemies. They no longer listened to the orders or reproaches of the provost, who therefore determined to introduce the King of Navarre at the head of his army of mercenaries into the capital, for the purpose of crushing all opposed to them. The chiefs, however, of the royalist party, as it might be called, were vigilant, and watched the steps of the provost. These were the brothers Maillart, De Charny, a friend of the regent, and Pepin des Essarts. One night in July 1358 especially, Marcel stayed and slept at the bastille, or fortress, which guarded the gate of St. Antoine, with the intention of letting in the Navarrese. Froissart even says he had the keys of the gate in his hand for the purpose of handing them to the king's officers, when Maillart coming up, exclaimed, that the provost was there for no good purpose, and that the keys should not be given up. An altercation ensued, which is differently related; but, in the scuffle, Marcel was struck down, by either Maillart or Charny, with the blow of an axe. Six or seven of his companions were slain also. The followers most attached to him were arrested in their homes and conveyed to prison. Two of the most prominent, Josseran, the King of Navarre's treasurer, and Toussac, one of the echevins, or sheriffs, were executed the next day. The regent, who was at Meaux, was immediately informed of the revolution which had been accomplished in his favour: he lost no time to take advantage of it, and returned to the capital. He
VOL. I. II