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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 92 pages of information about History of France.
families, such as the house of Armagnac, were treated with frightful severity.  But his was not wanton violence.  He acted on a regular system of depressing the lawless nobility and increasing the royal authority, by bringing the power of the cities forward, by trusting for protection to the standing army, chiefly of hired Scots, Swiss, and Italians, and by saving money.  By this means he was able to purchase the counties of Roussillon and Perpignan from the King of Aragon, thus making the Pyrenees his frontier, and on several occasions he made his treasury fight his battles instead of the swords of his knights.  He lived in the castle of Plessis les Tours, guarded by the utmost art of fortification, and filled with hired Scottish archers of his guard, whom he preferred as defenders to his own nobles.  He was exceedingly unpopular with his nobles; but the statesman and historian, Philip de Comines, who had gone over to him from Charles of Burgundy, viewed him as the best and ablest of kings.  He did much to promote trade and manufacture, improved the cities, fostered the university, and was in truth the first king since Philip Augustus who had any real sense of statesmanship.  But though the burghers throve under him, and the lawless nobles were depressed, the state of the peasants was not improved; feudal rights pressed heavily on them, and they were little better than savages, ground down by burthens imposed by their lords.

6.  Provence and Brittany.—­Louis had added much to the French monarchy.  He had won back Artois; he had seized the duchy and county of Burgundy; he had bought Roussillon.  His last acquisition was the county of Provence.  The second Angevin family, beginning with Louis, the son of King John, had never succeeded in gaining a footing in Naples, though they bore the royal title.  They held, however, the imperial fief of Provence, and Louis XI., whose mother had been of this family, obtained from her two brothers, Rene and Charles, that Provence should be bequeathed to him instead of passing to Rene’s grandson, the Duke of Lorraine.  The Kings of France were thenceforth Counts of Provence; and though the county was not viewed as part of the kingdom, it was practically one with it.  A yet greater acquisition was made soon after Louis’s death in 1483.  The great Celtic duchy of Brittany fell to a female, Anne of Brittany, and the address of Louis’s daughter, the Lady of Beaujeu, who was regent of the realm, prevailed to secure the hand of the heiress for her brother, Charles VIII.  Thus the crown of France had by purchase, conquest, or inheritance, obtained all the great feudal states that made up the country between the English Channel and the Pyrenees; but each still remained a separate state, with different laws and customs, and a separate parliament in each to register laws, and to act as a court of justice.

CHAPTER IV.

THE ITALIAN WARS.

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