Saturday, September 10, 2011

John the Fearless


‘…John, Duke of Burgundy, who succeeded Philip (the same who, as Count of Nevers, headed the unfortunate expedition to Hungary), was called the Fearless. He inherited his father's power and extensive dominions, although he had two brothers, each of whom succeeded to considerable territories, namely, Anthony, Duke of Brabant, and Philip, who took the title of Count of Nevers, on his elder brother's succession to the dukedom of Burgundy. The young Duke inherited also to the full his father's ambition, and took up the family quarrel with the house of Orleans exactly where Duke Philip had left it.…
The discord between the uncle and nephew came thus to subsist in full force between the two cousins. They disturbed the whole kingdom by their intrigues; and the Duke of Burgundy had, like his father, the address to secure a very strong party in the city of Paris, to which his house and faction had represented themselves as the preservers ot the privileges of the city and university, and enemies to the imposition of excessive taxes. In the dissensions which followed, the Dauphin, a young man of feeble talents, and no fixed principles, would have fled with his mother to the town of Melun, but was pursued by the Burgundian party, and brought back by force.  Bloodshed seemed so near, that each prince chose his device…
On the evening of that day the Duke of Orleans, who was at the Queen's apartments, where he usually spent the evening, received a summons, just after supper, to wait on the King immediately. Suspecting nothing wrong, the Duke hastened to obey this command, and traversed the streets mounted on a mule, accompanied only by two gentlemen and a few valets on foot, when he suddenly fell into an ambush posted for the purpose. The leader of these ruffians was one D'Hacquetonville, personally injured, as he conceived, by the Duke of Orleans. One of them struck at the Duke with his battle-axe, and, missing his head, the blow fell on his right hand, which it struck off. "I am the Duke of Orleans," cried the party assailed. "It is he whom we seek," answered his assassins, with wild exultation, and, striking the Prince from his saddle, they cut him limb from limb by their furious and united assault.…'

Sir Walter Scott writes of John II, Duke of Burgandy, in his “Tales of a Grandfather”.  John gained the upper hand on Louis of Orleans on this occasion, but was later to be done in himself by Louis’ son Charles, the future Charles VII of France.  Charles did not perform the deed himself, but invited John to a meeting, held on the bridge of Montereau, where he was attacked.  John’s hand was severed in the fray, as Louis’ had been, and he was ultimately assassinated by Charles’ men - Tanneguy du Chastel and Jean Louvet.  The date was September 10, 1419.

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