Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

1557.

BOO K impatience for action, as well as by his own desire of perXII.

forming some part of what he had so confidently undertaken, he marched towards Naples, and began his operations. But the success of these fell far short of his former reputation, of what the world expected, and of what he himself had promised. He opened the campaign with the siege of Civitelle, a town of some importance on the Neapolitan frontier. But the obstinacy with which the Spanish governor defended it, baffled all the impetuous efforts of the French valour, and obliged the Duke of Guise, after a siege of three weeks, to retire from the town with disgrace. He endeavoured to wipe off that stain, by advancing boldly towards the Duke of Alva's camp, and offering him battle. But that prudent commander, sensible of all the advantages of standing on the defensive before an invading enemy, declined an engagement, and kept within his intrenchments; and adhering to his plan with the steadiness of a Castilian, eluded, with great address, fill the Duke of Guise's stratagems to draw him into action. By this time sickness began to waste the French army; violent dissentions had arisen between the Duke of Guise and the commander of the Pope's forces; the Spaniards renewed their incursions into the ecclesiastical state ; the Pope, when he found, inc stead of the conquests and triumphs which he had fondly expected, that he could not secure his own territories from depredation, murmured, complained, and began to talk of peace. The Duke of Guise, mortified to the last degree with having acted such an inglorious part, not only solicited his court either to reinforce his army, or to recal him, but urged Paul to fulfil his engagements; and called on Cardinal Caraffa, sometimes with reproaches, sometimes with threats, to make good those magnificent promises, from a rash confidence in which he had advised his master to renounce the truce of Vaucelles, and to join in league with the Pope 8.

Hostilities But while the French affairs in Italy were in this wretchin theLowCountries.

ed situation, an unexpected event happened in the Low

f Herrera Vida de Felipe, 181. g Thuan. lib. xxviii. 614. Pallav. lib. xiii, 181. Burn. ii. app. 317.

XII.

Countries, which called the Duke of Guise from a station B OOK wherein he could acquire no honour, to the most dignified and important charge which could be committed to a sub

1557 ject. As soon as the French had discovered their purpose of violating the truce of Vaucelles, not only by sending an army into Italy, but by attempting to surprise some of the frontier towns in Flanders, Philip, though willing to have avoided a rupture, determined to prosecute the war with such spirit, as should make his enemies sensible that his father had not erred, when he judged him to be so capable of government, that he had given up the reins into his hands. As he knew that Henry had been at great expense in fitting out the army under the Duke of Guise, and that his treasury was hardly able to answer the exorbitant and endless demands of a distant war, he foresaw that all his operations in the Low-Countries must, of consequence, prove feeble, and be considered only as secondary to those in Italy. For that reason, he prudently resolved to make his principal effort in that place where he expected the French to be weakest, and to bend his chief force against that quarter where they would feel a blow most sensibly. With this view, he assembled in the Low-Countries an army of about fifty thousand men, the Flemings serving him on this occasion with that active zeal which subjects are wont to exert in obeying the first commands of a new sovereign. But Philip, cautious and provident, even at this early period of life, did not rest all his hopes of success on that formidable force alone.

the war.

He had been labouring for some time to engage the En. Philip english to espouse his quarrel; and though it was manifestly to engage the interest of that kingdom to maintain a strict neutrality, England in and the people themselves were sensible of the advantages which they derived from it ; though he knew how odious his name was to the English, and how averse they would be to co-operate with him in any measure, he nevertheless did not despair of accomplishing his point. He relied on the affection with which the queen doated on him, which was so violent, that even his coldness and neglect had not extinguished it; he knew her implicit reverence for his opinion, and her fond desire of gratifying him in every particular.

BOO K That he might work on these with greater facility and more XII.

certain success, he set out for England. The Queen, who,

during her husband's absence, had languished in perpetual 1557.

dejection, resumed fresh spirits on his arrival ; and, without paying the least attention either to the interest or to the inclinations of her people, entered warmly into all his schemes. In vain did her privy-council remonstrate against the imprudence as well as danger of involving the nation in an unnecessary war ; in vain did they put her in mind of the solemn treaties of peace subsisting between England and France, which the conduct of that nation had afforded her no pretext to violate. Mary, soothed by Philip's caresses, or intimidated by the threats which his ascendant over her emboldened him at some times to throw out, was deaf to every thing that could be urged in opposition to his sentiments, and insisted with the greatest vehemence on an immediate declaration of war against France. The council, though all Philip's address and Mary's authority were employed to gain or overawe them, after struggling long, yielded at last, not

from conviction, but merely from deference to the will of Jane 20. their sovereign. War was declared against France, the only

one perhaps against that kingdom into which the English ever entered with reluctance. As Mary knew the aversion of the nation to this measure, she durst not call a parliament in order to raise money for carrying on the war. She supplied this want, however, by a stretch of royal prerogative, not unusual in that age ; and levied large sums on her subjects by her own authority. This enabled her to assemble a sufficient body of troops, and to send eight thousand men under the conduct of the Earl of Pembroke to join Philip's army h.

Operations Philip, who was not ambitious of military glory, gave of Philip's the command of his army to Emanuel Philibert, Duke of the Low. Savoy, and fixed his own residence at Cambray, that he Countries. might be at hand to receive the earliest intelligence of his

motions, and to aid him with his counsels. The Duke opened the campaign with a masterly stroke of address,

h Carte, iii. 337.

XII.

which justified Philip's choice, and discovered such a su- BOOK periority of genius over the French generals, as almost ensured success in his subsequent operations. He appointed

1557. the general rendezvous of his troops at a place considerably distant from the country which he destined to be the scene of action; and having kept the enemy in suspense for a good time with regard to his intentions, he at last deceived them so effectually by the variety of his marches and countermarches, as led them to conclude that he meant to bend all his force against the province of Champagne, and would attempt to penetrate into the kingdom on that side. In consequence of this opinion, they drew all their strength towards that quarter, and reinforcing the garrison there, left the towns on other parts of the frontier destitute of troops sufficient to defend them.

The Duke of Savoy, as soon as he perceived that this Invests St. feint had its full effect, turned suddenly to the right, advanc

Quintin. ed by rapid marches into Picardy, and sending his cavalry, in which he was extremely strong, before him, invested St. Quintin. This was a town deemed in that

age

of considerable strength, and of great importance, as there were few fortified cities between it and Paris. The fortifications, however, had been much neglected; the garrison, weakened by draughts sent towards Champagne, did not amount to a fifth part of the number requisite for its defence ; and the governor, though a brave officer, was neither of rank, nor authority, equal to the command in a place of so much consequence, besieged by such a formidable army. A few days must have put the Duke of Savoy in possession of the town, if the Admiral de Coligny, who thought it concerned his honour to attempt saving a place of such importance to his country, and which lay within his jurisdiction as governor of Picardy, had not taken the gallant resolution of throwing himself into it, with such a body of men as he could collect on a sudden. This resolution he executed with great intrepidity, and if the nature of the enterprise be considered, with no contemptible success ; for though one half of his small body of troops was cut off, he, with the other, broke through the enemy, and entered the town.

XII.

BOO K The unexpected arrival of an officer of such high rank and

reputation, and who had exposed himself to such danger, in 1557.

order to join them, inspired the desponding garrison with courage. Every thing that the Admiral's great skill and ex. perience in the art of war could suggest, for annoying the enemy, or defending the town, was attempted ; and the citizens, as well as the garrison, seconding his zeal with equal ardour, seemed to be determined that they would hold out to the last, and sacrifice themselves in order to save their country i

TheFrench

The Duke of Savoy, whom the English, under the Earl endeavour to relieve of Pembroke, joined about this time, pushed on the siege the town. with the greatest vigour. An army so numerous, and so

well supplied with every thing requisite, carried on its approaches with great advantage against a garrison which was still so feeble that it durst seldom venture to disturb or retard the enemy's operations by sallies. The Admiral, sensible of the approaching danger, and unable to avert it, acquainted his uncle the Constable Montmorency, who had the command of the French army, with his situation, and pointed out to him a method by which he might throw relief into the town. The Constable, solicitous to save a town, the loss of which would open a passage for the enemy into the heart of France ; and eager to extricate his nephew out of that perilous situation, in which zeal for the public had engaged him ; resolved, though aware of the danger, to attempt what he desired. With this view, he marched from La Fere towards St. Quintin at the head of his army, which was not by one half so numerous as that of the enemy, and having given the command of a body of chosen men to Coligny's brother Dandelot, who was colonel general of the French infantry, he ordered him to force his way into the town by that avenue which the Admiral had represented as most practicable, while he himself, with the main army, would give the alarm to the enemy's camp on the opposite side, and endeavour to draw all their attention towards that quarter. Dandelot executed his orders with greater intrepidity

i Thuan. lib. xix. 647.

« VorigeDoorgaan »