Read The She Wolf of France Online

Authors: Maurice Druon

The She Wolf of France

THE SHE-WOLF
OF FRANCE

MAURICE DRUON

Translated from the French by
Humphrey Hare

PAN BOOKS LTD
LONDON

`History is a novel that has been lived.'

E. & J. DE GONCOURT

`It is terrifying to think how much research is needed to determine the truth of even the most unimportant fact.'

STENDHAL

'She-wolf
of
France, with unrelenting fangs, That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate ...'

THOMAS GRAY

First published in French as
La Louve de France.
First published in Great Britain 1960 by
Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd.
This edition published 1972 by Pan Books Ltd,
33 Tothill Street, London, SW1.

ISBN 0 330 23329 7

French edition (D Editions Mondiales, Paris, 1959 This translation Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd, 1960

Printed in Great Britain by
Cox & Wyman Ltd, London, Reading and Fakenlzarn

CONTENTS

The characters in this book 9

Prologue
13

I: FROM THE THAMES TO THE GARONNE,

I NO ONE EVER ESCAPES FROM THE TOWER

OF LONDON' I9

2 THE HARASSED QUEEN - 34

3 MESSER TOLOMEI HAS A NEW CUSTOMER 5I

4 THE FALSE CRUSADE 61

5 A TIME OF WAITING 74

6 THE BOMBARDS 83

II
ISABELLA IN LOVE

I DINNER WITH POPE JOHN 99

2 THE HOLY FATHER'S PENANCE 113

3 THE ROAD TO PARIS 121

4 KING CHARLES 125

5 THE CROSS OF BLOOD 128

6 THE HAPPY YEAR OF 1325 136

7 EACH PRINCE WHO DIES ... 145

III: THE DISINHERITED KING

I THE HOSTILE SPOUSES 159

2 THE RETURN TO NEAUPHLE 171

3 THE QUEEN IN THE TEMPLE 186

4 THE COUNCIL AT CHAALIS 195

IV: THE CRUEL INVASION

I HARWICH 211

2 THE SHINING HOUR 222

3 HEREFORD 230

4 VOX POPULI 237

5 KENILWORTH 241

6 THE CAMP-KETTLE WAR 247

7 THE GRASS CROWN 255

8 `BONUM EST' 260

9 THE RED-HOT POKER 267

HISTORICAL NOTES 274

A NOTE FOR ENGLISH READERS 286

The characters in this book

The King of France:
CHARLES IV, called the Fair, fourteenth successor to Hugues Capet, great-grandson of Saint Louis, third and last son of Philip IV, the Fair, and Jeanne of Navarre, formerly husband of Blanche of Burgundy and Count de la Marche, aged 29.

The Queens of France:
MARIE OF LUXEMBURG, eldest

daughter of Henry VII, Emperor of Germany, and of Marguerite of Brabant, aged I9.

JEANNE OF EVREUX, daughter of Louis of France, Count of Evreux, brother of Philip the Fair, and of Marguerite of Artois, aged about I8.

The Queen Dowagers of France:
CLEMENCE OF HUNGARY,

Princess of Anjou-Sicily, niece of King Robert of Naples, second wife and widow of King Louis X Hutin, aged 30.

JEANNE OF BURGUNDY, widow of King Philippe V, the

Long, daughter of Count Othon of Burgundy and of Countess Mahaut of Artois, aged 30.

The King of England:
EDWARD II Plantagenet, ninth successor to William the Conqueror, son of Edward I and of Eleanor of Castille, aged 39.

The Queen of England:
ISABELLA OF FRANCE, wife of the

above, daughter of Philip the Fair and sister of the King of France, aged 31.

The Heir to the Throne of England: The House of Valois:

EDWARD, eldest son of the above and future King Edward III, aged ii.

MONSEIGNEUR CHARLES, grandson of Saint Louis and

brother of Philip the Fair, uncle of the King of France, Count of the Apanage of Valois, of Maine, of Anjou, of Alencon, of Chartres and of Perche, Peer of the Kingdom, ex-Titular Emperor of Constantinople, Count of Romagna, aged 53.

MONSEIGNEUR PHILIPPE, Count of Valois and of
Maine, eldest son of Charles of Valois and of his first wife Marguerite of Anjou-Sicily, future King Philippe VI, aged 30.

JEANNE OF VALOIS, Countess of HAINAUT, daughter of Charles of Valois and of Marguerite of Anjou, sister of the above, wife of Count Guillaume of Hainaut, aged 27.

JEANNE OF VALOIS, Countess of BEAUMONT, daughter of Charles of Valois and his second wife Catherine de Courtenay, half-sister of the above, wife of Robert III of Artois,
Count of Beaumont, aged about 1
9.

MAHAUT DE CHATILLON-SAINT-POL, Countess of VALOIS, third wife of Monseigneur Charles.

JEANNE, called THE LAME, Countess Of VALOIS, daughter of the Duke of Burgundy and Agnes of France, sister of Marguerite of Burgundy, granddaughter, of Saint Louis, wife of Monseigneur Philippe, aged 28.

The House of Navarre: JEANNE OF NAVARRE, daughter of Louis X Hutin and of Marguerite of Burgundy, heir to the Kingdom of Navarre, aged 12.

PHILIPPE OF
FRANCE, Count of EVREUX
, husband of the above, son of Louis of France, Count of Evreux, and cousin-german of Charles the Fair, future King of Navarre,

aged about 15.

The House of Artois: THE COUNTESS MAHAUT OF ARTOIS, Peer of the Kingdom, wid
ow of the Count Palatine Othon I
V of Burgundy, mother of Jeanne and Blanche of Burgundy, aged about 54.

ROBERT III of
ARTOIS
, nephew and adversary of the above, Count of Beaumont-le-Roger, Lord of Conches, son
-
in-law of Charles of Valois, aged 36.

THIERRY LARCHER D'HIRSO
N, Canon, Chancellor to the Countess Mahaut, aged 53

BEATRICE D'HIRSON, niece of the above, lady-in-waiting to the Countess Mahaut, aged about 29.

The House of Hainaut: JOHN OF HAINAUT, brother of Guillaime the Good, Count of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland. '

PHILIPPA OF HAINAUT, his niece, second daughter of Guillaume the Good and of Jeanne of Valois; affianced to Prince Edward of England,, aged 9.

The Great Officers of the Crown of France: Louis OF CLERMONT, Lord, then first Duke, of BOURBON, grandson of Saint Louis, Great Chamberlain of France.

GAUCHER DE CHATILLON, Lord of Crevecoeur, Count of Porcien, Constable of France since 1302.

JEAN DE CHERCHEMONT, Chancellor.

HUGUES DE BOUVILLE, one-time Great Chamberlain to Philip IV, the Fair, Ambassador.

The Relations of the King of England:

THOMAS DE BROTHERTON, Earl of Norfolk, Marshal of England, son of Edward I of England and of his second wife Margaret of France, half-brother to King Edward II and cousin to the King of France, aged 23.

EDMUND, Earl of KENT, younger brother of the above, Governor of Dover, Warden of the Cinque Ports, aged 22.

HENRY, Earl of LEICESTER and LANCASTER, called Crouchback, grandson of Henry III of England, cousingerman to King Edward II, aged 42.

The Councillors:

HUGH DESPENSER, the elder, Earl of Winchester, aged 61.

HUGH DESPENSER, the younger, son of the above, Earl
of Gloucester, the favourite of King Edward II, aged 33.

BALDOCK, Archdeacon, Chancellor to Edward II.

WALTER STAPLEDON, Bishop of Exeter, Lord Treasurer.

The Earls of ARUNDEL and WARENNE.

The Ladies in Waiting to Queen Isabella:
LADY JEANNE MO
RTIMER, nee Joinville, great-niece of the Seneschal de Joinville, the wife of Roger Mortimer, Baron of Wigmore, aged 37. LADY ALIENOR DESPENSER, nee Clare, the wife of Hugh Despenser, the younger.

The Barons of the Opposition:

ROGER MORTIMER, the elder,
Lord of CHIRK, one-time Justiciar of Wales, aged 67.

ROGER MORTIMER, the younger, eighth Baron of WIGMORE, the King's former Lord-Lieutenant and Justiciar of Ireland, nephew of the above, aged 36.

JOHN MALTRAVERS, THOMAS DE BERKELEY, THOMAS GOURNAY, JOHN DE CROMWELL, etc, English lords.

The English Bishops: ADAM ORLETON, Bishop of Hereford. WALTER REYNOLDS, Archbishop of Canterbury. JOHN DE STRATFORD, Bishop of Winchester.

The Guardians of the Tower of London: STEPHENS SEAGRAVE, Constable.

GERARD DE ALSPAYE, Lieutenant.

OGLE, Barber.

The Court of Avignon: POPE JOHN XX
II, ex-Cardinal Jacques DUETZ
E, elected at the Conclave of 1316, aged 79.

BERTRAND DU POUGET, GAUCELIN DUEZE, GAILLARD DE LA MOT
HE, ARNAUD DE VIA, RAYMOND LE ROUX
; Cardinals and relations of the Pope.

JACQUES FOURNIER, Counsellor to John XXII, future Pope Benedict XII.

The Lombards: SPINELLO TO
LOME
I, a Sienese banker in business in Paris, aged about 69.

GUCCIO BAGLIO
NI, his nephew, a Sienese banker of the Tolomei Company.

BO
CCACCIO, a traveller for the Bardi Company, father of the poet.

The Cressay Family: PIERRE and JEAN DE CRESSAY, Sons Of the late Lord of Cressay, aged about 31 and 29.

MARIE, their sister, secret wife to Guccio Baglioni, aged
25

JEAN, called Jeannot or Giannino, supposed son of Guccio Baglioni and of Marie de Cressay, in fact JEAN THE POSTHUUMOUS, son of Louis X Hutin and of Clemence of Hungary, aged 7.

All the above names have their place in history; their ages are given as in the year 1323.

Prologue

THE CHASTISEMENTS prophesied by the Grand Master of the Templars and the curses he had hurled from amid the faggots of his pyre continued to fall on France.. Fate had destroyed her kings like pieces on a chessboard.

Philip the Fair having died as if struck down by lightning, and his eldest son, Louis X, having been murdered after eighteen months on the throne, Philippe V, his second son, seemed destined for a long reign. But now six years had gone by and Philippe V had died in his turn before attaining the age of thirty.

Let us look for a moment at his reign which, compared with the tragedies and disasters that were to follow, seems something of a respite from calamity. If you glance casually through a history of the period, it may seem a colourless reign, possibly because your hand comes away from the page unstained with blood. And yet, if we look deeper, we shall see of what a great king's days consist, if Fate is against him.

For Philippe V, the Long, had been a great king. By a mixture of force and cunning, of legality and crime, he had seized the crown, when it was at auction to the ambitious, while still a young man. An imprisoned conclave, a royal palace taken by assault, an invented Law of Succession, a provincial revolt put down in a ten-days' campaign, a great lord cast into prison and a royal child murdered in its cradle - or so at least it was supposed - had all been stages on his rapid path to the throne.

On that January morning in 1317, when, as the bells rang out in the heavens, the second son of the Iron King had come out of Rheims Cathedral, he had reason to believe that he had triumphed, and was now free to pursue his father's grand policies, which he had so much admired. His family had all had to bow to his will. The barons were checkmated; Parliament had submitted to his ascendancy, and the middle classes had acclaimed him, delighted to have a strong prince again; his wife had been washed clean, of the stain of the Tour de Nesle; his succession seemed assured by the son who had recently been born to him; and, finally, coronation had endued him with intangible majesty. There seemed to be nothing lacking to Philippe V's enjoyment of
the relative happiness of kings, not least the wisdom to desire , peace and recognize its worth.

Three weeks later his son died. It was his only male child, and Queen Jeanne, barren from henceforth, would give him no more.

At the beginning of summer the country was ravaged by famine and the towns were strewn with corpses.

And then, soon afterwards, a wave of madness broke over the whole of France.

Driven by blind and vaguely mystical impulses, primitive dreams of sanctity and adventure, by their condition of poverty and by a sudden frenzy for destruction
, country boys and girls, sheep, cow
and swineherds, young artisans, young spinners and weavers, nearly all of them between fifteen and twenty, abruptly left their families and villages, and formed barefoot, errant bands, provided with neither food nor money. Some wild idea of a crusade was the pretext for the exodus.

Indeed, madness had been born amid the wreckage of the Temple. Many of the ex-Templars had gone half crazy through imprisonment, persecution, torture, disavowals torn from them by hot irons, and by the spectacle of their brothers delivered to the flames. A longing for vengeance, nostalgia for lost power, and the possession and knowledge of certain magic practices learnt in the East had turned them into fanatics, who were all the more dangerous because they disguised themselves in a cleric's humble robe or in a workman's smock. They had re-formed themselves into a secret society; and they obeyed the mysteriously transmitted orders of a clandestine Grand Master, who had replaced the Grand Master burned at the stake.

It was these men who had suddenly transformed themselves one winter into village preachers and, like the Pied Piper of the Rhine legends, had led away the youth of France: to the Holy Land, they said. But their real goal was to wreck the kingdom and ruin the Papacy.

And Pope and King were equally powerless in the face of these visionary hordes travelling the roads, these human rivers swelling at every crossroads as if the lands of Flanders, Normandy, Brittany and Poitou were bewitched.

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