AFTER the King returned from over-seas, he behaved himself so devoutly, that thenceforth he never wore neither beaver, nor squirrel's fur, nor scarlet, nor gilded stirrups and spurs; his garments were of hair-cloth, or of dark-blue woollen. The trimmings of his coverlets and robes were of hares' feet or lamb's wool.
When the rich men's minstrels came to his house after dinner, and brought their viols, he would wait to hear grace until the minstrel had ended his lay; then he would rise, and before him stood the priests who said his grace. When we were in private, he would sit at the foot of his bed; and when the preachers or friars who were there put him in mind of some good book, to which he liked to listen, he would say to them, "You shall not read to me; for after meals there is no book so good as a 'quolibet,' and that means ' let each say what he pleases."
When any rich men dined with him they found him very good company.
I will tell you about his wisdom. On various occasions he showed himself to be the wisest man in his Council; as for instance when, apart from his Council and on the spur of the moment, he replied to a petition from all the prelates of the kingdom of France. It was as follows:
Bishop Guy of Auxerre addressed him for them all: " Sir " said he " these archbishops and bishops here present, have charged me to tell you that Christendom is falling to pieces and melting away in your hands, and will fall away still further, unless you study to remedy It; inasmuch as no one, nowadays, has any dread of excommunication. Wherefor we desire you, Sir, to order your serjeants and bailiffs to use compulsion on such as have been excommunicated a year and a day, that they may give satisfaction to the Church." And the King, without taking counsel at all, made answer, that he would willingly order his bailiffs and serjeants to use compulsion on those that were excommunicated as they demanded; but that he must be allowed to have cognisance whether the sentence were legal or no.
They consulted together and replied to the King; that they would not give him cognisance of what pertained to religion; and the King in his turn replied; that he would never give them cognisance of what pertained to him; nor would he ever order his serjeants to force those who were excommunicated to procure absolution whether right or wrong. "For if I did so, I should be flying in the face of God and of justice; and I will give you this as an instance: The bishops of Brittany kept the Count of Brittany no less than seven years under sentence of excommunication, and in the end the Court of Rome absolved him. Now, if I had put compulsion on him after the first year, I should have done so wrongly."
It happened after our return from over-seas, that the monks of St. Urban elected two abbots. Bishop Peter of Châlons God rest his soul! turned them both out, and consecrated as abbot my Lord John of Mymery, and gave him the crozier. I would not acknowledge him, because he had wronged Abbot Geoffrey, who had appealed against him and gone to Rome. I kept the abbey in my own hands until the said Geoffrey carried off the crozier, and the bishop's man lost it. While the dispute was going on, the bishop had excommunicated me. In consequence of this, there was a great fuss made, in a parliament held at Paris, about me and Bishop Peter, and Countess Margaret of Flanders, and the Archbishop of Rheims to whom she gave the lie.
At the next parliament, all the prelates begged the King that he would come and speak with them alone. On his return from talking with the bishops, he came to us who were awaiting him in the Chamber of Pleas, and told us laughing how the bishops had baited him. It began with the Archbishop of Rheims saying to the King, "Sir, what are you going to do about thewardship of St. Rémy of Rheims, of which you are robbing me? I would not have such a sin as yours on my conscience for the kingdom of France." " By the holy relics of this place," said the King, "you would, though, for Compiegne, such is your greed. So some one is perjured!,"
"The Bishop of Chartres," said the King, "desired me to restore him on credit what I held of his; and I told him that I should not do so until my castle were paid for. And I told him that he was my sworn liegeman, and that he was behaving neither well nor loyally towards me, in trying to rob me of my heritage."
"The Bishop of Châlons said to me," said the King, " 'What are you going to do about the Lord of Joinville, who is robbing that poor monk of the abbey of St. Urban's?' Sir Bishop," quoth the King, " you have settled amongst your own selves that no excommunicated person shall be heard in a lay court. Now I have seen in letters sealed with thirty-two seals, that you are excommunicated; so I shall not hear you until you be absolved."
I tell you these things to show you how by his own unaided wits he despatched whatever business he had to do.
Abbot Geoffrey of St. Urban's, though I had done his business for him, rendered me evil for good afterwards, and appealed against me. He gave our holy King to understand that he was in his ward.
I begged the King to have the truth declared, whether the wardship were his or mine. " Sir," said the Abbot, "you shall never do that, please God rather admit us to a formal suit between us and the Lord of Joinville; seeing that we, to whom the property belongs, would rather have our abbey in your ward than in his."
Then said the King to me: " Is it true what they say, that the wardship of the abbey is mine " Certainly not, Sir," said I, " on the contrary, it is mine. "
Then the King said to them, " The property is very possibly yours; but with the wardship of your abbey you have nothing to do; so, by your leave, it must needs belong, according to what you say and to what the Seneschal says, either to me or to him. Neither will anything you say ever dissuade me from having the truth declared. For if I were to involve him in a formal suit, I should be acting disloyally towards him, who is my liegeman, by putting his rights to a trial when he offers to have them plainly declared."
He caused the truth to be declared, and when it was declared, he delivered me the wardship of the abbey, and gave me his letters.
It came about, through the exertions of the holy King, that the King of England, with his wife and children, came to France to treat of the peace between him and them. His Council was strongly opposed to the said peace, and addressed him thus: " Sir, we are greatly astonished at your purpose, that you intend to give the King of England so large a portion of your territory, which you and your forbears have conquered from him and by their own fault. It appears to us, that if you believe yourself to have no right to it, you are making but poor restitution to the King of England, unless you give him back the whole of what you and your forbears have conquered; whereas if you think that you have a right to it, it seems to us, that whatever you give him is so much lost."
To this the holy King replied as follows. " Sirs, I am quite sure that the King of England's forbears rightly and justly lost the conquered lands that I hold, and what I give him, I give him not because I am in any wise beholden to him nor to his heirs, but to put bonds of love betwixt my children and his who are first cousins. And methinks that what I give him is well spent; for whereas he was not my liege-man, now he comes into homage to me."
Indeed, he was the man of all the world who worked hardest for peace among his subjects, particularly among the rich men on his borders, and the princes of the realm; as for instance, between the Count of Châlons (the Lord of Joinville's uncle) and his son the Count of Burgundy, between whom there was great strife, when we returned from overseas. And to make peace between father and son he sent some of his Council into Burgundy at his own expense, and through his exertions peace was made between them.
Again, there was great strife between King Tibald II of Champagne, and Count John of Châlons, and his son the Count of Burgundy, over the abbey of Luxeuil; to pacify which my Lord the King sent thither Lord Gervaise Desoraines, who at that time was Chief Cook of France, and by his exertions he made peace. After the King had pacified this war, a fresh war sprang up, between Count Tibald of Bar, and Count Henry of Luxemburg, who had his sister to wife; and it fell out that they fought with each other below Pigney, and Count Tibald of Bar took Count Henry of Luxemburg prisoner, and also captured the castle of Liney, which belonged to the Count of Luxemburg by right of his wife. To end this war the King despatched my Lord Peter the Chamberlain, the man of all the world whom he most trusted all at the King's expense; and finally the King succeeded in pacifying them.
As for these foreigners whose quarrels the King had settled, some of his Council told him that he would have done better to have let them go on fighting, for, that if he let them thoroughly ruin themselves, they would not be so ready to turn against himself as if they were wealthy. To this the King replied, that they argued ill: For if the neighbouring princes became aware that I encouraged their quarrelling, they might lay their heads together and say, "The King out of his malice encourages our fighting"; and so it would come to pass that out of the hatred they would conceive against me, they would turn on me."
The result was, that the Burgundians and the Lorrainers whom he had pacified, loved and obeyed him so well that I have seen them come to the King's court to plead in their private quarrels before him, at Rheims, at Paris, and at Orleans.
THE King loved God and His sweet Mother so well that if anybody within his reach used any foul language or lewd oath about God or His Mother, the King caused them to be very severely punished. For this I saw him cause a goldsmith at Cesarea to be put on a ladder in his shirt and breeches, with the entrails of a pig hung round his neck, right up to his ears. I heard say, after I returned from over-seas that he had a burgher of Paris seared through the nose and lips for the same offence, but I did not see it. And the holy King said, " I would gladly be branded with a hot iron, on condition that all lewd oaths were done away with out of my kingdom."
I was about twenty-two years in his company; and never heard him swear by God, nor by His Mother nor by His Saints; but whenever he wanted to affirm anything, he used to say, " Truly it was thus," or " Truly it shall be thus."
Never did I hear him name the devil, unless it were in some book where the name came in, or in the life of the Saints of whom the book was speaking. And a great disgrace it is to the realm of France, and to the King who allows it, that a man can hardly open his lips without saying " Deuce take it!" and a great abuse it is of language to devote to the devil a man or woman who was given to God at baptism. In the household of Joinville, whoever uses such an expression, pays for it with a buffet or a slap, and such bad language has been almost entirely put down.
Before he went to bed, he used to send for his children, and would tell them stories of the deeds of good kings and emperors; and he used to tell them that they must take example by people such as these. He would tell them too, about the deeds of wicked rich men, who by their lechery and their rapine and their avarice, had lost their kingdoms. "And these things," he used to say, " I tell you as a warning to avoid them, lest you incur the anger of God."
He had them taught the Hours of Our Lady, and caused the Hours for the Day to be repeated to them, in order to give them the habit of hearing their Hours when they should come into their estates.
The King was so liberal an almsgiver, that wherever he went throughout his kingdom, he made gifts to poor churches, to lazar-houses, to alms houses, to asylums, and to poor gentlemen and gentlewomen.
From his childhood up, he was compassionate towards the poor and the suffering; and it was the custom that, wherever he went, six score poor should always be replenished in his house with bread and wine, and meat or fish every day. In Lent and Advent, the number was increased, and many a time the King would wait on them, and place their meat before them, and would carve their meat before them, and with his own hand would give them money when they went away.
Likewise on the high vigils of solemn feasts, he would serve the poor with all these things, before he either ate or drank.
Besides all this, he had every day old broken-down men to dine and sup with him, and had them served with the same food that he himself was eating. And when they had feasted, they took away with them a certain sum of silver.
Over and above all these things, the King used every day to give large and liberal alms to poor men of religion, to poor asylums, to the sick poor, and all sorts of poor colleges, to poor gentlemen and married women and spinsters, to fallen women, to poor widows, and to women in child-bed, and to such poor as by reason of old age or sickness were unable to labour or pursue their trade in number past all telling. So that we may say that he was herein more fortunate than Titus, Emperor of Rome, of whom old writers tell us, that he was passing sorrowful and downcast, because of one day in which he had conferred no benefit.
He asked me whether I washed the feet of the poor on Shrove Thursday; and I replied No, that I thought it unseemly. And he told me that I ought not to contemn it, for God had done it. "For you would find it very hard to do what the King of England does, who washes the feet of lepers and kisses them."
When any of the benefices of Holy Church escheated to the King, before bestowing it, he would first take counsel with good persons of religion and others; and after consultation he would bestow the benefices in good faith, honourably and according to God. Nor would he give any benefice to any cleric, unless he resigned all the other Church benefices that he might hold.
In all the towns of his realm where he had never been before, he would seek out the Preachers and Grey Friars, if there were any, and desire their prayers.
From the very first, when he came into his kingdom and to years of discretion, he began building monasteries and various religious houses, amongst which the Abbey of Royaumont bears the palm for eminence and renown.
He founded the Abbey of St. Anthony near Paris; and the Abbey of St. Matthew of Rouen, into which he put women of the order of Preaching Friars; and that of Longchamp for women of the Minorite order; and endowed them highly. He allowed his mother to found the Abbey of Liz by Melun-sur-Seine, and that of Pontoise, which is called Maubuisson.
He founded several almshouses: the Almshouse of Paris, that of Pontoise, and that of Compiegne and of Vernon, and endowed them highly; besides the Grey Friars Nunnery of St. Cloud, which his sister, my Lady Isabel, founded by his leave.
Also he founded the Blind Asylum near Paris to receive the blind of the city of Paris, and had a chapel built for them to hear divine service. And the good King built the Charterhouse outside Paris, and assigned sufficient revenues to the monks who dwelt there for the service of Our Lord. Shortly afterwards he had another house built outside Paris, which was called the House of the Daughters of God, and caused a great number of women to be boarded there, who by reason of poverty had fallen into the sin of wantonness, and granted them four hundred pounds' worth of revenue to support them. Also in many places of his kingdom he founded houses of female Begouins, and gave them revenues to live upon, and gave orders to admit such as gave promise of a chaste life.
Some of his kindred used to grumble at his liberal almsgiving, and because he spent so much on this kind of thing; but he used to say: " I would much rather be extravagant in alms, for the love of God, than in the pomp and vainglories of this world."
Yet, though the King spent so much in charity, his daily household expenses were none the less very great. He lived in a free and open-handed style at the parliaments and assemblies of barons and knights; and the hospitality at his Court was so courteous, generous, and plentiful that nothing like it had been known for a long time past at the courts of his predecessors.
The King loved all people who devoted themselves to the service of God and wore the religious habit, and all such as came to him were secure of a livelihood. He made provision for the Brethren of Carmel, and bought them a site on the banks of the Seine in the direction of Charenton; and he built a house for them, and bought them vestments and chalices and all the things needful for performing divine service.
Next, he provided for the Austin Friars, and bought them a grange belonging to a burgher of Paris, with all its appurtenances, outside the gate of Montmartre, and had it turned into a monastery for them.
He provided for the Brethren of the Bag, and granted them a site on the Seine, over against St. Germain des Prés, where they took up their quarters; but they did not stay long there, for they were soon suppressed.
When the Brethren of the Bag were provided for, another sort of Brotherhood sprang up, called the " Order of White Mantles," and demanded that the King should help them to settle in Paris; and to harbour them he bought them a house and several old sites round about, close to the old Temple Gate at Paris, not far from the Weavers' quarter. These White Monks were put down by the Council of Lyons, that Gregory X held.
Again there came a new sort of Friars, who entitled themselves " Brethren of the Holy Cross," and wore the cross on their breasts; and they begged the King to help them. The King did so readily, and lodged them in a street called Temple Crossing, which nowadays is called the street of the Holy Cross.
Thus did the good King fence about the city of Paris with men of religion.About the print version