Margaret of Anjou - Jacob Abbott
In the fall of 1469, Margaret's mind was aroused to new life and excitement by news which came from England that great opposition had gradually grown up in the realm against the government of Edward, that many of his best friends had forsaken him, and that the friends and partisans of the Lancaster line were increasing in strength and courage to such a degree as to make it probable that the time was drawing nigh when Henry might be restored to the throne. The most important circumstance connected with the change which had taken place was that the great Earl of Warwick, who had been the most efficient and powerful supporter of the house of York, and the most determined enemy of Margaret and Henry during the whole war, had now abandoned Edward, and had come to France, and was ready to throw all the weight of his power and influence on the other side.
Of course, these tidings produced a great excitement all over France. King Louis XI. was specially interested in them, as they afforded a hope that Margaret might regain her throne, and so be able to redeem her mortgage, or else deliver up to him the security; so he called a council at Tours to consider what was best to be done, .and he sent for Margaret at Verdun to come with the prince and. attend it. He also sent for René, her father, and other influential family friends. It is said that when Margaret arrived and met her father, she was so much agitated by the news, and by the hopes which it awakened in her bosom, that, in embracing him, she burst into tears from the excess of her excitement and joy.
But she could not endure the idea of a reconciliation with Warwick. At first she positively refused to see or to speak to him. When, however, at, length he arrived at Tours, the king introduced him into Margaret's presence, but for a longtime she refused to have any thing to do with him.
"She could never forgive him,'' she said. "He had been the chief author of the downfall of her husband, and of all the sorrows and calamities which had since befallen her and her son.
"Besides," she said, "even if she were willing to forgive him for the intolerable wrongs which he had inflicted upon her, it would be very prejudicial to her husband's cause to enter into any agreement or alliance with him whatever; for all her party and friends in England, whom Warwick had done so much to injure, and who had so long looked upon him as their worst and deadliest foe, would be wholly alienated from her if they were to know that she had taken him into favor, and thus she would lose much more than she would gain."
Warwick replied to this as well as he could, pleading the injuries which he had himself received from the Lancaster party as an excuse for his hostility against them. Then, moreover, he had been the means of unsettling King Edward in his realm, and of preparing the way for King Henry to return; and he promised that, if Margaret would receive him into her service, he would thenceforth be true and faithful to her as long as he lived, and be as much King Edward's foe as he had hitherto been his friend. He appealed, moreover, to the King of France to be his surety that he would faithfully perform these stipulations.
The King of France said that he would be his surety, and he begged that Margaret would pardon Warwick, and receive him into favor for his sake, and for the great love that he, the king, bore to him. He would do more for him, he added, than for any man living.
Margaret at last allowed herself to be persuaded, and Warwick was forgiven.
There were several other great nobles, who had come over with Warwick, that were received into Margaret's favor at the same time, and, when the grand reconciliation was completely effected, the whole party set out together to go down the Loire to Angers, where the Countess of Warwick, the earl's wife, and his youngest daughter, Anne, were awaiting them. The countess and Anne were presented to the queen, and a short time afterward Louis ventured to propose a marriage between Anne and Prince Edward.
Margaret received this proposal with astonishment, and rejected it with scorn. She said she could see neither honor nor profit in it, either for herself or for her son. But at length, after a fortnight had been spent in reasoning with her on the advantages of the connection, and the aid which she would derive from such an alliance with Warwick in endeavoring to recover her husband's kingdom, she finally yielded. She was influenced at last, in coming to this decision, by the advice of her father, who counseled her to consent to the match.
The parties united in a grand religious ceremony in the cathedral church of Angers to seal and ratify the covenants and agreements by which they were now to be bound.
There was a fragment of the true cross, so supposed, among the relics in the cathedral; and this was an object of such veneration that an oath taken upon it was considered as imposing an obligation of the highest sanctity. Each of the three great parties took an oath, in turn, upon this holy emblem.
First, the Earl of Warwick swore that he would, without change, always hold to the party of King Henry, and serve him, the queen, and the prince, as a true and faithful subject ought to serve his sovereign lord.
Next; the King of France swore that he would help and. sustain, to the utmost of his power, the Earl of Warwick in the quarrel of King Henry.
And, finally, Queen Margaret swore to treat the earl as true and faithful to King Henry and the prince, and "for his deeds past never to make him any reproach."
It was furthermore agreed at this time that Anne, the Earl of Warwick's daughter, who was betrothed to the prince, should be delivered to Queen Margaret, and should remain under her charge until the marriage should be consummated. But this, was not to take place until the Earl of Warwick had been into England and had recovered the realm, or the greater portion of it at least, and restored it to King Henry. Thus the consummation of the marriage was to depend upon Warwick's success in restoring Henry his crown.
Still, a sort of marriage ceremony, or, more strictly, a ceremony of betrothal, was celebrated at Angers between the prince and' his affianced bride a few days afterward, with great parade, and then Warwick, leaving his countess and his daughter behind with Margaret, set out for England with a troop of two thousand men which Louis had furnished him.
After Warwick had gone, Margaret remained at Angers for some weeks, and then set out for Paris, escorted by a guard of honor. Her party arrived at the capital in November, and Margaret, by Louis's orders, was received with all the ceremonies and marks of distinction due to a queen. The streets through which she passed were hung with tapestry, and ornamented with flags and banners, and with every other suitable decoration. The people came out in throngs to see the grand procession pass; for, in addition to the guard of honor which had conducted the party to the capital, all the great public functionaries and high officials joined in the procession at the gates, and accompanied it through the city, thus forming a grand and imposing spectacle.
Queen Margaret and her party were in this way conducted to the palace, and lodged there in great splendor. Their hearts were gladdened, too, on their arrival, by receiving the news that Warwick had landed in England, and had been completely successful in his undertaking. King Edward was deposed, and King Henry had been released from his imprisonment in the Tower and placed upon the throne.
Margaret, of course, at once determined that she would immediately make preparations for returning to England.