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The Mohammedan religion, which debases woman into a machine, and regards love as a merely sensual passion, was introduced into the East about the same time that chivalry arose in the West, to exalt women into deities, and chasten passion with the purity of sentiment.
The military spirit induced by chivalry continued in full force through the whole of its existence, and survived its origin. Philippa, wife of Edward the Third, was the principal cause of the victory gained over the Scots at Neville Cross. In the absence of her husband, she rode among the troops, and exhorted them in the name of God to be of good heart and courage, promising to reward them better than if her lord the king were himself in the field. At the surrender of Calais, she displayed a better quality than courage. Her incensed husband demanded that six of the principal inhabitants should be put to death; and six patriotic citizens voluntarily offered their lives to appease the conqueror. When these heroic men knelt at his feet, to deliver the keys of the city, the queen likewise knelt, and begged their lives as a boon to her. Her tears prevailed; and the grateful inhabitants of Calais exclaimed, “ Edward conquers cities, but Philippa conquers hearts !".
Jane, countess of Mountfort, who lived at the same period, and was a lineal descendant of the German women described by Tacitus, possessed a large share of manly courage. While her husband was detained in prison, she defended his right to the duchy of Bretagne against Charles of Blois. She visited all the
principal towns and fortresses, and exhorted the troops to courage, in the name of herself and her infant son. When besieged in the strong town of Hennebon, she herself rode through the streets clad in mail, and mounted on a goodly steed; and her cheering smiles stimulated valor, even when her voice was drowned in the din of battle. Perceiving that the enemy's camp was deserted, she seized a spear, and, accompanied by three hundred of her best knights, rode into the midst of it, and set the tents on fire. Her return being cut off by the French troops, she took the road to Brest, and for five days the good soldiers of Hennebon were ignorant of her fate; but on the sixth, she returned, with her golden banners glittering in the sun, and surrounded by five hundred lances, which her beauty and bravery had drawn around her. Afterward, she went to England, to solicit succor from Edward the Third. Returning with a considerable fleet, she was met by an enemy; and it is recorded that "the countess on that day was worth the bravest knight; she had the heart of a lion, and, with a sharp glaive in her hand, she fought fiercely."
In 1338, the countess of March, called Black Ag. nes, from the color of her eyes and hair, resisted with extraordinary bravery and success the earl of Salisbury, who besieged her in the castle of Dunbar, during the absence of her husband.
In Italy, the prince of Romagna intrusted the defence of Cesena to his wife, Marzia, while he himself maintained a more important post. The noble mą, tron donned the casque and cuirass, which she never laid aside, night or day; and when, in a moment of extreme peril, her father entreated her to surrender, she replied, " My husband has given me a duty to perform, and I must obey his command.” Though unable to obtain the victory, her bravery and skill secured a very favorable treaty.
When Regner Lodbrog waged war against Fro, king of Sweden, a young Norwegian girl, named Lagertha, greatly assisted him in his victory. Regner became in love with her, and made her his wife; but he soon after deserted her for another. Lagertha lived in the utmost retirement, until she heard that her husband was deserted by his friends, and placed in danger by rebellious subjects; then the generous wife forgot her own injuries, hastened to his relief, and was again victorious.
Avilda, daughter of the king of Gothland, scoured the seas with a powerful feet; and king Sigar, who found she was not to be won in the usual manner, gained her heart by fitting out a fleet, and engaging in a furious battle with her for two days without intermission.
Marguerite of France, wife of St. Louis, while besieged by the Turks in Damietta, during the captivity of the king her husband, gave birth to a son, whom she named Tristan, in commemoration of her misfortunes. In this helpless situation, hearing that the crusaders were about to capitulate with the enemy she summoned the knights to her apartment, and the words she uttered stirred their spirits like the tones
of a trumpet. Her address has been immortalized in such beautiful verse, by Mrs. Hemans, that I cannot forbear quoting some of the stanzas :
* The honor of the lily
Is in your hands to keep,
Who died on Calvary's steep:
Hath heard the holy bell-
To the goodless Infidel ?
And a helm, before ye fly,
And on the ramparts die !
But never for disgrace,
Meet for his royal race,
In the shadow of the Lance !
The princely Babe of France !
To perish undefiled ;
Her honor and her child !" No wonder such an appeal met with a thrilling response :
“ We are thy warriors, lady!
True to the Cross and thee !
On every sword shall be !
Rest, we will guard thee well ·
And the Christian citadel!"
Joan of Arc, born of humble parentage, but strong in military courage, and the enthusiasm of prophecy, appeared among the discouraged troops of France, mounted on a milk-white steed, with snowy plumes nodding over her helmet, and in the name of God urged them on to victory. Battle after battle was gained by the consecrated maiden ; and history weeps to record that she at last fell a victim to the cruelty of the English and the base ingratitude of the French.
Margaret of Anjou twice delivered her husband from prison and placed him on the English throne; nor did she yield to an overpowering torrent of misfortunes, till she had decided twelve battles in person.
During the reign of Anne of Austria, the French women often appeared at the head of political factions, wearing scarfs that designated the party to which they belonged. Swords and harps, violins and cuirasses, were seen together in the same saloon. There was a regiment created under the name of Mademoiselle ; and when Monsieur wrote to the ladies who attended his daughter to Orleans, the letter was directed as follows: "A Mesdames, les Comtesses Maréchales de camp, dans l'armée de ma fille, contre le Mazarin.” The gift of a bracelet, or glove, was as much valued by the courteous gentlemen of France, as it had been by the knights of chivalry. M. de Chatillon wore the garter of his beautiful mistress on his arm; and when the Duc de Bellegarde went to take command of the army, he besought the queen to honor him so far as to touch the hilt of his