Графични страници
PDF файл


of age, who feels the greatest enthusiasm to support the expedition. We follow Ville-Hardouin into the doge's palace, into his council of state, and afterwards into the general assembly of the people in the chapel of St. Mark,

Chapelle la plus belle qui soit.All these scenes are wonderfully interesting. In the first place, Ville-Hardouin and his associates attend a private council of the doge and principal members of the senate; but afterwards, as Venice was still at that time a republican government, it became necessary humbly to petition the people, requerir le peuple humblement. What a spectacle this for the proud feudal barons of France !

It is Geoffrey de Ville-Hardouin, the marshal of Champain, who thus addresses this populous assembly:

Seigneurs, les plus hauts et plus puissans barons de France nous ont envoyés à vous crient merci, afin qu'il vous prenne pitié de Jerusalem, qui est dans le servage des Turcs et qu'au nom de Dieu vous veuillez les accompagner pour venger la honte de J. C., et ils vont ont elus, parcequ'ils savent que nulle nation n'est aussi puissante que vous sur mer, et ils nous ont commandé de tomber à vos pieds, et de ne pas nous lever que vous n'ayez octroyé la promesse d'avoir pitié de la terre saincte d'outre mer.

“Seigneurs, the most high and most powerful barons of France have deputed us to you, and we cry you mercy, that you may take pity on Jerusalem, which is under the slavery of the Turks; and that, in the name of God, you will accompany us thither to avenge the disgrace done to J. C., and they have preferably addressed themselves to you, because they know no nation is so powerful as you are by sea; and they have commanded us to fall down at your feet, and not to rise up


you have given us your promise to have pity on the holy land beyond sea.”

Then the six envoys fell down on their knees, all in tears, at which sight the doge and all the assembly cried out all aloud with one voice: “We grant your request, - we grant it:" and there was so loud an acclamation, and “si grand noise, qu'il se nblait que la terre fondit.

Now, certainly, this speech, and the extreme simplicity of the narrative, place the whole of this scene before our eyes in much more lively colours than modern art could have done.

Ville-Hardouin continues his details of the slow prepara

tions for the voyage. Thibaut, count of Champagne, who was to have commanded the expedition, died suddenly: on his death, the command was first offered to the duke of Burgundy, then to the count of Bar-le-duc, and finally to the marquis of Montserrat. The barons and pilgrims now repaired in crowds, from all parts, to Venice, where the army was to embark; it was then that the venerable old doge, under the weight of his ninety years, declared his determination personally to join the Crusade to the holy land, and to die among the pilgrims of the cross.

At length the armament puts to sea for Corfou. All the perils and difficulties of the voyage, as well as the jealousies and divisions among the ambitious chiefs, form a very animated and interesting picture. The historian, although constantly participating in the events he describes, speaks but little of himself, and that little with great candour and circumspection.

“Moi,” says he, “moi bien temoigne, moi Geoffrey, le marechal de Champagne qui cette œuvre dicta.” “I bear witness of it, I, Geoffrey, the marshal of Champain, who dictate this work."

This precious monument of the early history of France is deserving of our attention in many respects. If we consider the diction, and the peculiar construction of the phrases, we shall discover a close analogy to the Romanesque, or Roman Rustique, of the south of France; and we particularly notice in this work the observation of many of those grammatical rules which have lately been explained with so much taste and judgment by M. Reynouard, in his History of the Grammar of the Troubadours. The Latin examinations are likewise very frequent, such as segnor, tremor, empereor, vos, dolorus, &c. The uniform suppression of the letter s in the oblique cases of the plural number, marks its conformity to the Provençal grammar: the construction of the sentences is, throughout, simple and regular, the expressions short, forcible, and picturesque.

But the great value of this book consists in its historical painting,—in the contrast which it exhibits between the Greeks and the Francs, opposed and united in the same narrative. Nothing can be more singularly striking than his picture of the Greek inhabitants of Constantinople, the petrified ruins of the last decline and fall of the Roman empire receiving among them this young race of Western warriors. Ville-Hardouin depicts in the most lively colours

the crafty timidity of the Greek court, constantly involved in plots and intrigues, and the rude and impetuous ambition of the French Crusaders. No sooner is Alexis placed on the throne by the assistance of his Western allies, than he exerts all his efforts to get rid of his dangerous guests, and to induce them to pursue the original purpose of the Crusade; but they are in no hurry to quit their prey. Mutual complaints and protracted negociations continue until the very moment that war breaks out between those two Christian nations of the Eastern and Western world.

The Greeks burn the ships of the Latin fleet; but a domestic treason within the walls of the imperial palace soon effects the death of Alexis. The Francs now push forward the war with redoubled vigour. Constantinople is at length taken by assault, and given to pillage, on Palm Sunday. The ferocious joy of the conquerors, at finding so much gold and silver, and such immense quantities of precious stones, silk, and ermine, is exquisitely described by the old chronicler. The grave historian here does not fail to recur to his favorite form of expression: “Et bien temoigne, Geoffroi, le marechal de Champagne, à son escient pour verité, que jamais, depuis le commencement de siècles, ne fut tant gagné en une ville.”

The Crusading army, before so poor and ill provided, now became the masters of all these heaps of immense riches. “Chacun prit Hôtel, comme il lui plut, et il y en avait assez-ainsi firent la Pâque fleurie, et la grande Påque après, en cet honneur, et en cette joye que Dieu leur eut données."

But soon afterwards a great part of the booty is ordered to be brought into the common stock at head quarters, under pain of excommunication. The chiefs of the army then proceed to the election of an emperor: and Baldwin, count of Flanders, is chosen in preference to the marquis of Montserrat, who contents himself with becoming king of Thessalonica.

So many and so great events could not have been brought about without frequent debates, in which VilleHardouin often delivered his opinion with great prudence and gravity; this, indeed, is one of the characteristics of the book. In it, history now, for the first time, begins to admit political discussion, which the author introduces with much natural force and simplicity: he leads us into the tumultuous council of the Latins, and there we learn by what

specious reasons this diversion of an army from the delivery of Jerusalem, its original destination, to the invasion of a Christian empire, is attempted to be justified.

The establishment of the new empire, the death of Bald. win, the accession of his brother Henry, chosen by the French barons, to succeed him, form altogether a very interesting and diversified narrative, which we only regret does not extend any further. Ville-Hardouin concludes his memoirs with the death of the marquis of Montserrat, in the

year 1207; and it is froin the Byzantine historians that we must seek for the sequel of this invasion, which placed a foreign dynasty on the throne of Constantinople.

The influence of the Western conquerors was but temporary, and could not prevent, or even delay, for any length of time, the final fall of the Greeks. Constantinople, under her rude masters, still retained her own language and theology, but the Francs imported with them their own chivalric amusements, and their passion for warlike exercises ; they gave tournaments in the Hippodrome, from whence they excluded the Greeks. The latter, ever servile and adulatory, adopted some of the traditions of their masters: of these we find many curious traces in the Byzantine historians, who, without being less ignorant, are certainly less natural than the writers of the French chronicles.

The old French chivalric romances carried to Constantinople, together with the customs and usages of France, were there taken for authentic histories; and fifty years afterwards, when the French conquest had disappeared, and the Greek empire had begun to spin anew the slender thread of its debile existence, there were several families among

the nobility of Constantinople who boasted their descent from the Paladins, Rowland and Renauld. What a singular illusion, which only demonstrates the powerful influence of these chivalric tales, so conformable to the taste and the adventurous spirit of the times !

We must here terminate our rapid review of a book better suited for studious perusal than for analysis. The historian himself, a principal personage in his history, presents us, in the actions which he narrates, with the reality of that chivalry, the ideal picture of which is painted to us in the romances of the middle ages. Distinguished alike in war and in council, Ville-Hardouin seems never, even in his wildest enterprises, to have forgotten his habitual prudence, good faith, and perseverance.


(Commonly called Tum Ifun Prys,)


[The Editors are indebted to an intelligent gentleman of South Wales," for

the following very singular and curious paper, and while they acknowledge the obligation, they beg to add that they express no opinion as to the applicability of the prophetic divinations, to the events coupled with them, by their correspondent.]

He was the son of Tenan ap Rhys, of Blaen Cynllan, in the parish of Llanharan, and was born there; soon afterwards his father went to Pen Hydd, in the parish of Margam,

[ocr errors]

• The name of Mr. Edward Williams is so well known to all who are interested in Welsh literature and antiquities, that I shall offer no apology for occupying a few of your pages, in introducing to your notice a manuscript of his in my possession, which I believe has never been brought before the public. It contains a biographical sketch of a man, in great repute in Glamorganshire, as a prophet

, and concludes with a copy of an ancient Welsh manuscript (rendered into English by Mr. Edward Williams) purporting to be a prediction by the subject of the memoir.

The modern manuscript, with the copy of the ancient one, (I must use repetition to avoid ambiguity,) have fallen into my hands as the representative of a gentleman to whom it was given by Mr. Edward Williams himself, and who has, on an envelope, added the following remarks of his own : (viz.)

“ Prophecy of Thomas ap Ifan ay Rhys, copied by Mr. Edward Williams, from a manuscript given to him by Mr. E L of P-

“ This manuscript has the appearance of being very old.

“ The writing is not that of the above-named Thomas, but of another person, who lived about or near his time, whose name is subscribed, and who

says it is the prophecy of Thomas ap Ifan ap Rhys. “This writer seems to have lived in the reign of King James the First.” Also as follows:

If T. Ifan Rhys died about the year 1617, (as supposed by Edward Williams) and was one hundred and forty-three years old when he died, he must have been born about the year 1474, in the thirteenth year of Edward the Fourth."

What has become of this ancient manuscript I know not. It probably remained in the possession of Mr. Edward Williams till his death.

I have suppressed the names of the gentlemen above alluded to, but I will furnish you with them as well as with my own name and address, so that whoever may be desirous of investigating this interesting subject, may have the means of satisfying his curiosity. I shall content myself for the present with observing that they were persons of undoubted respectability,

Having been favored by a friend with some ingenious remarks upon this and other predictions of Twm Ifan Rhys, with an attempt to apply them to recent events of the world, I cannot refrain from requesting you to give them also place in your valuable Magazine.

December 1, 1832.

« ПредишнаНапред »