CHAPTER VIII. THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, 1066.
1199-1204. On the death of King Richard, his brother John claims and makes himself master of England and Normandy and the other large continental possessions of the early Plantagenet princes. Philip Augustus asserts the cause of Prince Arthur, John's nephew, against him. Arthur is murdered, but the French king continues the war against John, and conquers from him Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Touraine, and Poictiers.
1216. The barons, the freeholders, the citizens, and the yeomen of England rise against the tyranny of John and his foreign favourites. They compel him to sign Magna Charta. This is the commencement of our nationality: for our history from this time forth is the history of a national life, then complete, and still in being. All English history before this period is a mere history of elements, of their collisions, and of the processes of their fusion. For upwards of a century after the Conquest, Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon had kept aloof from each other: the one in haughty scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence. They were two peoples, though living in the same land. It is not until the thirteenth century, the period of the reigns of John and his son and grandson, that we can perceive the existence of any feeling of common patriotism among them. But in studying the history of these reigns, we read of the old dissensions no longer. The Saxon no more appears in civil war against the Norman; the Norman no longer scorns the language of the Saxon, or refuses to bear together with him the name of Englishman. No part of the community think themselves foreigners to another part. They feel that they are all one people, and they have learned to unite their efforts for the common purpose of protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of all. The fortunate loss of the Duchy of Normandy in John's reign greatly promoted these new feelings. Thenceforth our barons' only homes were in England. One language had, in the reign of Henry III., become the language of the land; and that, also, had then assumed the form in which we still possess it. One law, in the eye of which all freemen are equal without distinction of race, was modelled, and steadily enforced, and still continues to form the groundwork of our judicial system. [Creasy's Text-book of the Constitution, p. 4.]
1273. Rudolph of Hapsburg chosen Emperor of Germany.
1283. Edward I. conquers Wales.
1346. Edward III. invades France, and gains the battle of Cressy.
1356. Battle of Poictiers.
1360. Treaty of Bretigny between England and France. By it Edward III. renounces his pretensions to the French crown. The treaty is ill kept, and indecisive hostilities continue between the forces of the two countries.
1414. Henry V. of England claims the crown of France, and resolves to invade and conquer that kingdom. At this time France was in the most deplorable state of weakness and suffering, from the factions that raged among her nobility, and from the cruel oppressions which the rival nobles practised on the mass of the community. "The people were exhausted by taxes, civil wars, and military executions; and they had fallen into that worst of all states of mind, when the independence of one's country is thought no longer a paramount and sacred object. 'What can the English do to us worse than the things we suffer at the hands of our own princes?' was a common exclamation among the poor people of France." [Pictorial Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 28.]
1415. Henry invades France, takes Harfleur, and wins the great battle of Agincourt.
1417-1419. Henry conquers Normandy. The French Dauphin assassinates the Duke of Burgundy, the most powerful of the French nobles, at Montereau. The successor of the murdered duke becomes the active ally of the English.
1420. The Treaty of Troyes is concluded between Henry V. of England and Charles VI. of France, and Philip, duke of Burgundy. By this treaty it was stipulated that Henry should marry the Princess Catherine of France; that King Charles, during his life- time, should keep the title and dignity of King of France, but that Henry should succeed him, and should at once be entrusted with the administration of the government, and that the French crown should descend to Henry's heirs; that France and England should for ever be united under one king, but should still retain their several usages, customs, and privileges; that all the princes, peers, vassals, and communities of France should swear allegiance to Henry as their future king, and should pay him present obedience as regent; that Henry should unite his arms to those of King Charles and the Duke of Burgundy, in order to subdue the adherents of Charles, the pretended dauphin; and that these three princes should make no truce or peace with the Dauphin, but by the common consent of all three.
1421. Henry V. gains several victories over the French, who refuse to acknowledge the treaty of Troyes. His son, afterwards Henry VI., is born.
1422. Henry V. and Charles VI. of France die. Henry VI. is proclaimed at Paris, King of England and France. The followers of the French Dauphin proclaim him Charles VII., King of France. The Duke of Bedford, the English Regent in France, defeats the army of the Dauphin at Crevant.
1424. The Duke of Bedford gains the great victory of Verneuil over the French partizans of the Dauphin, and their Scotch auxiliaries.
1428. The English begin the siege of Orleans.