History of France eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 109 pages of information about History of France.
a contest between the French and German peoples which has gone on to the present day.  After the siege a five years’ truce was made, during which Charles V. resigned his crowns.  His brother had been already elected to the Empire, but his son Philip II. became King of Spain and Naples, and also inherited the Low Countries.  The Pope, Paul IV., who was a Neapolitan, and hated the Spanish rule, incited Henry, a vain, weak man, to break the truce and send one army to Italy, under the Duke of Guise, while another attacked the frontier of the Netherlands.  Philip, assisted by the forces of his wife, Mary I. of England, met this last attack with an army commanded by the Duke of Savoy.  It advanced into France, and besieged St. Quentin.  The French, under the Constable of Montmorency, came to relieve the city, and were utterly defeated, the Constable himself being made prisoner.  His nephew, the Admiral de Coligny, held out St. Quentin to the last, and thus gave the country time to rally against the invader; and Guise was recalled in haste from Italy.  He soon after surprised Calais, which was thus restored to the French, after having been held by the English for two hundred years.  This was the only conquest the French retained when the final peace of Cateau Cambresis was made in the year 1558, for all else that had been taken on either side was then restored.  Savoy was given back to its duke, together with the hand of Henry’s sister, Margaret.  During a tournament held in honour of the wedding, Henry II. was mortally injured by the splinter of a lance, in 1559; and in the home troubles that followed, all pretensions to Italian power were dropped by France, after wars which had lasted sixty-four years.



1.  The Bourbons and Guises.—­Henry II. had left four sons, the eldest of whom, Francis II., was only fifteen years old; and the country was divided by two great factions—­one headed by the Guise family, an offshoot of the house of Lorraine; the other by the Bourbons, who, being descended in a direct male line from a younger son of St. Louis, were the next heirs to the throne in case the house of Valois should become extinct.  Antony, the head of the Bourbon family, was called King of Navarre, because of his marriage with Jeanne d’Albret, the queen, in her own right, of this Pyrenean kingdom, which was in fact entirely in the hands of the Spaniards, so that her only actual possession consisted of the little French counties of Foix and Bearn.  Antony himself was dull and indolent, but his wife was a woman of much ability; and his brother, Louis, Prince of Conde, was full of spirit and fire, and little inclined to brook the ascendancy which the Duke of Guise and his brothers enjoyed at court, partly in consequence of his exploit at Calais, and partly from being uncle to the young Queen Mary of Scotland, wife of Francis II.  The Bourbons likewise headed the party among the nobles who hoped to profit by the king’s youth to recover the privileges of which they had been gradually deprived, while the house of Guise were ready to maintain the power of the crown, as long as that meant their own power.

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History of France from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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