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CHAPTER LXXX. - THE CEREMONY OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING OF ENGLAND WITH A PRINCESS OF FRANCE. - THE KING OF FRANCE DELIVERS HER TO THE KING OF ENGLAND, IN HIS TENT BETWEEN ARDRES AND CALAIS.

You have before heard of the journey of the king of England to Calais, where he resided with his uncles, prelates, and barons of his council, during which time he had held a conference with the duke of Burgundy respecting the articles of peace. The king had returned to London to wait the meeting of his parliament at Michaelmas; but in the meantime great purveyances were made for him and for his barons and sent to Calais and Guines. The larger part were forwarded down the river Thames, but a good deal was collected in Flanders, at Damme, Bruges, and Sluys, which were sent by sea to Calais. In like manner, great preparations were made for the king of France, the duke of Orleans, their uncles, and the barons and prelates of France, at Saint Omer, Aire, Therouenne, Ardres, la Montoire, Leulinghen, and in all the monasteries and houses round about. No expense was spared on either side; and the lords of each country were emulous to outshine one another. In the abbey of Saint Bertin, great were the preparations to receive the royal visitors.

The session of parliament, which usually lasts forty days, and is held in the king's palace at Westminster, was now abridged, for the king attended it only five days: when the business of the nation, and what particularly interested the king, and had caused his return from Calais, was settled, he and his two uncles of Lancaster and Gloucester, and the members of his council, set out from London, and crossed the sea to Calais. The duke of York and the earl of Derby did not attend the king, but remained behind to guard England in his absence. Information was instantly sent to the French lords in Picardy of the king of England's return to Calais; and the duke and duchess of Burgundy came to Saint Omer and fixed their residence in the abbey of Saint Bertin. The king of France sent the count de Saint Pol to king Richard, as soon as he heard of his arrival at Calais, to compliment him in his name, and to lay before him the orders which had been given for the ceremony of his marriage. The king of England eagerly listened to this, for he took much pleasure in the business. The count de Saint Pol, on his return to Saint Omer, was accompanied by the duke of Lancaster, his son Beaufort of Lancaster, the duke of Gloucester, with his son Humphrey, the earl of Rutland, the earl marshal, the earl of Huntingdon, chamberlain of England, and many other barons and knights, who were handsomely received by the duke and duchess of Burgundy. The duke of Brittany came thither also, having left the king of France and the young queen of England at Aire.

You must know that every honour and respect that could be imagined were paid to the English lords. The duchess of Burgundy entertained them splendidly at dinner; at which was present the duchess of Lancaster with her son and two daughters. There was an immense variety of different dishes and decorations on the tables, and very rich presents made of gold and silver plate: nothing, in short, was spared, so that the English were astonished where such riches could come from, and especially the duke of Gloucester, who told his friends that the kingdom of France abounded in wealth and power. To soften the temper of the duke of Gloucester, whom the French lords knew to be proud, and their bitter enemy, they paid him the most flattering attentions. Notwithstanding this, and the handsome presents they offered, which he accepted, the same rancour remained in his breast, and, in spite of everything the French could say or do, whenever the subject of peace was mentioned, his answers were as harsh and severe as ever. The French are very subtle: but, with regard to him, they could never gain his affections; and his conversation was so reserved it was not possible to discover his real sentiments. When the duke of Burgundy saw this, he said to his council, - "We shall never succeed until we gain over this duke of Gloucester: as long as he lives, there will not be any solid peace with England, for he will ever find some cause of quarrel, and renew the hatred of the people of both countries: his whole thoughts are on this subject; and were it not for the amiable qualities of the king of England, which we hope may produce in time more favourable effects, in good truth he should never have our cousin as his wife." After the duchess of Burgundy, the countess of Nevers, the countess of Saint Pol, and the lords and ladies of France, had, as you have heard, magnificently entertained the English lords and ladies (at which time it was determined when and where the two kings should meet, and the king of England receive his wife), the company took leave of each other, and the two dukes, with their duchesses and children, returned with the other barons and knights to Calais, and related to king Richard how grandly they had been received, and the rich presents that had been made to them. Their praises pleased the king; for he was delighted whenever he heard the king of France or the French well spoken of, so much was he already enamoured with them, on account of the king's daughter whom he was to marry.

Shortly after this, the king of France, accompanied by the duke of Brittany, came to saint Omer, and was lodged in the abbey of Saint Bertin: all who had before occupied it were forced to dislodge. The dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon, having been ordered to the king of England at Calais, set out from Saint Omer, and, on their arrival at Calais,were received with every honour and kindness by the king and his lords. They were entertained with splendour; and the three dukes concluded certain treaties with the king of England and his uncles. Many in France and England thought a peace bad been concluded for at that time the duke of Gloucester was well inclined to it, in consideration of the kind promises of the king, who had engaged, if a peace were made, to create his son Humphrey earl of Rochester, and make the annual revenue of it equal to two thousands sterling, and to present the duke of Gloucester with fifty thousand nobles on his return to England. Thus, through his avaricious disposition, was the duke of Gloucester softened in his opinions respecting a peace with France. It was so visible, that the French dukes observed it, for they had never before found him so tractable or moderate in his conversation. When the French lords had concluded the business they had come upon, they took leave of the king, and returned to the king of France and the duke of Orleans at Omer, who were impatient to hear the success of their journey. The king of France departed from St. Omer, and resided in the fort of Ardres: the duke of Burgundy went to Montoire, the duke of Brittany to the town of Esque, and the duke of Berry to Tournehem. The plain was covered with tents and pavilions full of French and English. The king of England and the duke of Lancaster were lodged in Guines, and the duke of Gloucester at Hamme.

On the vigil of the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, which fell on a Friday, in the year of grace 1396, the two kings left their lodgings on the point of ten o'clock, and, accompanied by their attendants, went to the tents that had respectively been prepared for them. Thence they advanced on foot to a certain spot which had been fixed on for their meeting, and which was surrounded by four hundred French and as many English knights, brilliantly armed, with swords in hand. These eight hundred knights were so drawn up, that the two kings passed between their ranks, conducted in the following order: the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester supported the king of France, as did the dukes of Berry and Burgundy the king of England and thus they advanced slowly through the ranks of the knights: when the two kings were on the point of meeting, the eight hundred knights fell on their knees and wept for joy. The two kings met bareheaded, and having saluted, took each other by the hand, when the king of France led the king of England to his tent, which was handsome and richly adorned: the four dukes took each other by the hand, and followed them. The English and French knights remained at their post, looking at their opponents with good humour, and never stirred until the whole ceremony was over. The spot where the two kings had met was marked, and a chapel in honour of the Virgin Mary was proposed to be erected on it, but I know not if it were ever put into execution. On the entrance of the two kings holding each other by the hand into the tent, the dukes of Orleans and of Bourbon came forward and cast themselves on their knees: the kings stopped and made them rise. The six dukes then assembled in front and conversed together: the kings passed on, and had some conversation, while the wine and spices were preparing. The duke of Berry served the king of France with the comfit-box and the duke of Burgundy with the cup of wine. In like manner was the king of England served by the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester. After the kings had been served, the knights of France and England took the wine and spices, and served the prelates, dukes, princes, and counts; and, after them, squires and other officers of the household did the same to all within the tent, until everyone had partaken of the spices and wine; during which time, the two kings freely conversed.

After a short space, the two monarchs took leave of each other, as did the different lords. The king of England and his uncles retired to their tents, while the horses were made ready: they then mounted, and took the road towards Calais; the king to Guines, the dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester to Hamme, and the others to their lodgings at Calais. In like manner did the king of France return to Ardres, accompanied by the duke of Orleans; the duke of Berry to Tournehem, and the duke of Burgundy to la Montoire; for nothing more was done that day, although the tents and pavilions of the king of France and other lords were left standing.

At eleven o'clock of the Saturday morning, the feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, the king of England, attended by his uncles and all the noblemen who had accompanied him from England, waited on the king of France in his tent. They were received by the king, his brother, and uncles, with great pomp and the most affectionate words. The dinner-tables were there laid out: that for the kings was long and handsome, and the side-board covered with the most magnificent plate. The two kings were seated by themselves; the king of France at the top of the table, and the king of England below him, but at a good distance from each other. They were served by the dukes of Berry, Burgundy, and Bourbon: the last entertained the two monarchs with many gay remarks to make them laugh, and those about the table, for he had much drollery and, addressing the king of England, said, - "My lord king of England, you ought to make good cheer, for you have had all your wishes gratified. You have a wife, or shall have one, for she will be speedily delivered to you." "Bourbonnois," replied the king of France, "we wish our daughter were as old as our cousin of Saint Pol, though we were to double her dower, for then she would love our son of England much more." The king of England heard well these words and replied, bowing to the king of France (for he did not address himself to the duke of Bourbon, since the king had compared his daughter with the countess of Saint Pol's), "Good father-in-law, the age of our wife pleases us right well: we pay not much attention concerning her age, as we value your love, and that of our subjects, for we shall now be so strongly united that no king in Christendom can any way hurt us." When dinner was over, which lasted not long, the cloth was removed, the tables carried away, and wine and spices brought. After this, the young queen of England entered the tent, attended by a great number of ladies and damsels. The king led her by the hand, and gave her to the king of England, who instantly after took his leave. The queen was placed in a very rich litter which had been prepared for her; but, of all the French ladies who were there, only the lady of Coucy went with her, for there were many of the principal ladies of England, such as the duchesses of Lancaster York, Gloucester, Ireland, the lady Namur, the lady Poinings, and others of the nobility who received queen Isabella with great joy. When the ladies were ready, the king of England and his lords departed, and, riding at a good pace, arrived at Calais. The king of France and his court returned to Saint Omer, where he had left the queen and duchess of Burgundy, and staid there the Sunday and Monday following. On the Tuesday, which was All-saints day, the king of England was married by the archbishop of Canterbury, in the church of Saint Nicholas at Calais to the lady Isabella of France. Great were the feastings on the occasion, and the heralds and minstrels were so liberally paid they were satisfied.

On the ensuing Thursday, the dukes of Orleans and Bourbon came to Calais, to visit the king and queen of England: they staid that day, and on the following went back to dinner at Saint Omer, where the king and queen of France waited for them. This same morning, the king and queen of England having heard an early mass and drank some wine, embarked on board the vessels which had been prepared for them, with a favourable wind. They weighed anchor, set their sails, and in less than three hours landed at Dover. The king dined at the castle, and lay the next night at Rochester: passing through Dartford, he arrived at his palace of Eltham, where the lords and ladies took leave of the king and queen, and went to their homes.

Fifteen days after, the queen made her entry into London, grandly attended by lords, ladies, and damsels. She lay one night in the Tower, seated on the banks of the Thames, and the next day was conducted in great pomp, through the streets, to Westminster, where the king was waiting in his palace to receive her. This day, the Londoners made very rich presents to the queen, which were graciously accepted. During the time the court was at Westminster, a tournament was ordered to be held at Candlemas in Smithfield, between forty knights and as many squires; and notices of it were given to the heralds, that they might publish it beyond sea, and as far as Scotland.

 

 
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