Bayard, Peter Du Terrail, Chevalier De

, a brave and celebrated French officer, was born in 1476. The faroily name was Terrail, and Bayard the name of the castle in which he was born. The family of Terrail, now extinct, once held a very distinguished rank among the nobility of Dauphiny. It was one of the houses, which, in that province, were honoured with the name of the Scarlet Nobility, which served to distinguish the ancient nobility from those who were created by the letters patent of Louis XL which, when he invaded Dauphiny, he distributed witiiout distinction to whoever would purchase them. Although descended from a line of heroes, our chevalier eclipsed them all. His inclination for arms discovered itself very early, and an answer which he made to his father, when he was only thirteen years old, was a sufficient presage of his future achievements. His father asked him what kind of life he would chuse, to which he answered, that having derived from his ancestors an illustrious name, and the advantage of many shining examples of heroic virtue, he hoped he should at least be permitted to imitate them.

His father, affected and delighted with this answer, sent next day to the bishop of Grenoble, his brother-in-law, and requested him to present young Bayard to the duke of Savoy, in the quality of his page. His clothes and equipage being prepared in a lew hours, he mounted a horse, which having never before felt a spur, gave three or four springs, which greatly alarmed the company; but the young hero, without being at all disconcerted, fixed himself in the saddle, and repeated the discipline of his heel until his steed submitted to his direction. The parting of the father and the son was affecting, and, his biographer observes, is a lively picture of that noble simplicity of manners, from which his nation has so much degenerated, by the false refinements of an effeminate politeness. His mother recommended three things to him the first was, “to fear, and love, and to serve God” the second, “to be gentle and courteous to the nobility, without pride or haughtiness to any;” and the third was, “to be generous and charitable to the poor and necessitous;” adding, that | to give for the love of God never made any man poor.Bayard promised to follow these good precepts, and although his deviations were not unfrequent, he preserved a sense of religion which led him to fulfil all its external duties at least with exemplary punctuality and zeal: neither his youth, nor the tumults and hurry of a military life, nor the dissolute company into which he naturally fell, nor even the failings, from which he was not himself exempt, could ever extinguish in his breast a certain veneration for the religion in which he had been brought up.

Bayard continued about six months in the service of the duke of Savoy, by whom he was then presented to Charles VIII. who sent him to the count de Ligny, of the imperial house of Luxembourg, that he might be brought up in his family. At the age of seventeen years he carried away all the honour of a tournament, which the lord of Vaudrey, one of the roughest knights of his time, held in the city of Lyons. In 1494, Charles VIII. resolved to assert his right to the crown of Naples, and therefore passed into Italy at the head of a numerous army, consisting of the prime nobility of his kingdom: so great an expedition, says Berville (from whom this article is taken) was never fitted out with so much speed, splendour, and success. The conquest, however, was almost as soon lost as gained. Charles, as he was returning to France with less than 10,000 men, was attacked near Fornoue by an army of six times the number. Upon this occasion he behaved with the greatest intrepidity, and gained a complete victory, and Bayard distinguished himself in an extraordinary manner. He took a standard from a party of fifty men, and presented it to the king, who rewarded him with a present of 500 crowns.

Soon after Charles VIII. was succeeded by Louis XIL Bayard followed the new king to the war, which broke out in Italy, and was always at the head of the most dangerous enterprizes. He undertook singly, and alone, as his biographer expresses it, to defend a bridge over the Carillon against two hundred Spanish cavaliers; and actually sustained their whole force until the French troops came to his assistance. Another time, with only thirty-six men, he stopped the whole Swiss army near Pavia. Most of the advantages gained by the French, in the course of this war, were owing to his valour: and it was by one of these achievements that he obtained the name of the “Chevalier | sans peur et sans reproche,” the knight without fear and without reproach; a distinction, which did him the more honour as it was never possessed by any other, and as he acquired it at a time when the military honour of France was at its height, in the time of the Nemours, the Foixes, the Lautrecs, Trimouilles,and Chabunnes; but he seemed to surpass himself in the battle of Kavennes, which was planned and conducted by him alone.

The confidence with which he inspired the troops, and the love which they had for him, were not merely the effects of his courage: they knew that his prudence was not inferior to his valour, and that he never would expose them wantonly or rashly: he was besides so disinterested, that he left the booty wholly to others, without reserving any part of it for himself. One day, when he had taken 15,Ooo ducats of gold from the Spaniards, he gave half of them to capt. Terdieu, and distributed the rest among the soldiers who accompanied him in the expedition. With the same generous spirit he divided 2,400 ounces of silver plate, which he received as a present from the count de Ligny, among his friends and followers. Having defeated Audre, the Venetian general, he took Brisse, and a lady of that city presenting him with 2,500 pistoles, to prevent her house from being pillaged, Jie divided them into three parts; 1000 he gave to each of the two daughters of the lady, to help, as he said, to marry them, and the 500 which remained he caused to be distributed among the poor nunneries that had suffered most in the pillage of the place. In this lady’s house he lodged until he had recovered from a dangerous wound which he received in the action.

Bayard, in his progress to military command, passed through all the subordinate stations; and if he^did not arrive at the first military dignity in France, he was universally thought to deserve it. And after all, the title of marshal of France was an honour which he would have possessed in common with many others; bnt to arm his king as a knight was a personal and peculiar honour, which no other could ever boast. The occasion was this: Francis I. who was himself one of the bravest men of his time, determined, after his victory of Marignan, to receive the order of knighthood from the hands of Bayard. Bayard modestly represented to his majesty, that so high an“honour belonged only to princes of the blood; but the kinoreplied in a positive tone,” My friend Bayard, I will this | day be made a knight by your hands.“” It is then my duty,“said Bayard,” to obey,“and taking his sword, said,” Siro autant vaiile que si c’etoit Roland ou Olivier,“May it avail as much as if it was Roland or Olivier," two heroes in the annals of chivalry, of whom many romantic tales are told. When the ceremony was over, Bayard addressed his sword with an ardour which the occasion inspired, and declared it was a weapon hereafter to be laid up as a sacred relic, and never to be drawn, except against Turks, Saracens, and Moors. This sword has been lost; Charles Emmanuel, duke of Savoy, having applied for it to the heirs of Bayard, without being able to procure it.

Bayard also made an expedition into Piedmont, where he took Prosper Colonnes, the pope’s lieutenant-general, prisoner. Chabannes, who was marshal of France, and Humbercourt and d‘Aubigny, two general officers, all much superior in rank to Bayard, gave up the honour of conducting the expedition to him, and served in it under his orders. But the defence of Mezieres completed the military reputation of this extraordinary man. This place was far from being in a condition to sustain a siege, and it had been resolved in a council of war to burn it, and ruin the adjacent country, that the enemy might find neither shelter nor subsistence. But Bayard opposed this resolution,­and told the king that no place was weak which had honest men to defend it. He then offered to undertake its defence, and engaged to give a good account of it. His proposal was accepted; and he went immediately and locked liimself up in the town. Two days after he had entered it, the count de Nassau, and capt.’ de Sickengen invested the place with 40,000 men. Bayard so animated his soldiers, sowed such dissention between the two generals who besieged him, and so effectually defeated all the attempts of the Imperialists, that in three weeks he obliged them to raise the siege, with the loss of many men, and without once making the assault. All France now resounded with the praises of Bayard: the king received him at Fervagues with caresses and encomiums of the most extraordinary kind: he created him a knight of his own order, and gave him, by way of distinction, a company of an hundred men armed in chief, which was scarce ever given but to princes of the blood.

In 1523, Bayard followed admiral Bonnivet into Italy, and, in a defeat which the French suffered near Re’oec m | April 1524, he received a musket-shot in the reins, which broke the spinal bone. The moment he was struck he pronounced himself a dead man, kissed the guard of his sword, whicn had the figure of a cross, and recommended himself to God in prayer. He then ordered them to lay him under a tree, with his face towards the enemy, and to support his head by placing a stone under it, which he saw lying upon the ground. “Having never yet turned rny back upon an enemy,” said he, “I will not begin the last day of my life.” He desired the seigneur d’Alegre to tell the king that he should die contented because he died in his service, and that he regretted nothing but that with his life he should lose the power of serving him longer. He then made his military testament, and confessed himself. When the constable, Charles de Bourbon, who pursued the French army after the defeat, came up to the spot where Bayard was dying, he expressed his concern to see him in that condition. “Alas, captain Bayard, how sorry am I to see you thus! I have always loved and honoured you for your wisdom and valour, and I now sincerely pity your misfortune.” “Sir,” said Bayard, “I thank you; but there is no reason why you should pity me who die like an honest man in the service of my king, though there is great reason to pity you who are carrying arms against your prince, your country, and your oath.” The constable, far from taking offence at the freedom of Bayard’s address, endeavoured to justify himself by motives arising from the disgrace he had endured; but Bayard exhorted him, with a feeble and faltering voice, to reconcile himself to his sovereign, and quit the part which he had unjustly and precipitately taken, in obedience to the dictates of his passion. Bayard very soon after expired, in the forty-eighth year of his age, and was buried in the cathedral of Grenoble, with great funeral honours. Many anecdotes are told highly to the honour of Bayard’s courage, disinterested spirit, generosity, and presence of mind; but the religion so often attributed to him, seems to have consisted in a superstitious regard to forms and ceremonies; if, for example, before righting a duel, he heard mass, he was satisfied with the propriety of his conduct; but this, however, is to be attributed to the times in which he lived. His life was first written by Champier, Paris, 1525, 4to. 2. By one of his secretaries, 1619, 4to. 3. By Lazare Bocquiliot, prior of Louval, 1702, ISmoj and 4. by Guyard de BerviSle, | 1760, 12mo, from which the present article is principally taken. A short, but well written memoir of him was published at London by the Rev. Joseph Stirling in 1781. 1


See also —Dict. Hist.Moreri.