The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 4

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 4

Author: François Guizot

Illustrator: Alphonse Marie de Neuville

Translator: Robert Black

Release date: April 1, 2004 [eBook #11954]
Most recently updated: January 26, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Widger


spines2 (154K)








CHAPTER XXXI.  HENRY II. (1547-1559.)





Cardinal Ximenes——14

All Night A-horseback——19

Bayard Knighting Francis I——19

Leo X.——21

Anthony Duprat——24

Charles V——39

Francis I. Surprises Henry Viii.——44

The Field of the Cloth Of Gold——45

The Constable de Bourbon——53

The Death of Bayard——76

Capture of Francis I.——91

Louise of Savoy and Marguerite de Valois——102

Francis I.——115

The Duke of Orleans and Charles V.——128

Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise——130

Francis I.——137

St. Thomas Aquinas and Abelard——140

Clement Marot——162

Francis I. Waits for Robert Estienne——168


The First Protestants——178

The Castle of Pau——183

William Farel——181

Burning of Reformers at Meaux——188


Berquin Released by John de La Barre——198

Heretic Iconoclasts——201

Massacre of the Vaudians——218


Gallery Henry Ii——230

Anne de Montmorency——235

Henry Ii.——235

Diana de Poitiers——243

Guise at Metz——244

Francis Ii. And Mary Stuart Love Making——251

Catherine De’ Medici (in Her Young Days)——255

Joust Between Henri Ii. And Count de Montgomery——268

Francis Ii——269

Mary Stuart——270

Death of La Renaudie——283

Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condo——285

Mary Stuart——284

Coligny at the Death-bed of Francis Ii.——295

Francis de Lorraine, Duke of Aumale and Of Guise——302

Massacre of Protestants—-305

The Duke of Guise Waylaid—-315

Conde at the Ford—-328

Henry of Lorraine (duke Of Guise)——332

Parley Before the Battle of Moncontour——337

Admiral Gaspard de Coligny——346

Charles Ix. And Catherine De’ Medici——354

Henry de Guise and the Corpse of Coligny——369

The Queen of Navarre and the Huguenot——372

Chancellor Michael de L’hospital——376

The St. Bartholomew——383

Henry Iii——388

Indolence of Henry Iii—-390

Henry Le Balafre——400

The Castle of Blois——428

Henry Iii. and the Murder of Guise——437

Henry of Navarre and the Scotch Guard——448












The closer the study and the wider the contemplation a Frenchman bestows upon his country’s history, the deeper will be his feelings of patriotic pride, dashed with a tinge of sadness. France, in respect of her national unity, is the most ancient amongst the states of Christian Europe. During her long existence she has passed through very different regimens, the chaos of barbarism, the feudal system, absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, and republicanism. Under all these regimens she has had no lack of greatness and glory, material power and intellectual lustre, moral virtues and the charms of social life. Her barbarism had its Charlemagne; her feudal system St. Louis, Joan of Arc, and Bayard; her absolute monarchy Henry IV. and Louis XIV. Of our own times we say nothing. France has shone in war and in peace, through the sword and through the intellect: she has by turns conquered and beguiled, enlightened and troubled Europe; she has always offered to the foreigner a spectacle or an abode full of the curious and the attractive, of noble pleasures and of mundane amusements. And still, after so many centuries of such a grand and brilliant career, France has not yet attained the end to which she ever aspired, to which all civilized communities aspire, and that is, order in the midst of movement, security and liberty united and lasting. She has had shortcomings which have prevented her from reaping the full advantage of her merits; she has committed faults which have involved her in reverses. Two things, essential to political prosperity amongst communities of men, have hitherto been to seek in her; predominance of public spirit over the spirit of caste or of profession, and moderation and fixity in respect of national ambition both at home and abroad. France has been a victim to the personal passions of her chiefs and to her own reckless changeability.

We are entering upon the history of a period and a reign during which this intermixture of merits and demerits, of virtues and vices, of progress and backsliding, was powerfully and attractively exhibited amongst the French. Francis I., his government and his times commence the era of modern France, and bring clearly to view the causes of her greatnesses and her weaknesses.

Francis I. had received from God all the gifts that can adorn a man: he was handsome and tall and strong; his armor, preserved in the Louvre, is that of a man six feet high; his eyes were brilliant and soft, his smile was gracious, his manners were winning. From his very childhood he showed that he had wits, enterprise, skill, and boldness. He was but seven years old when, “on the day of the conversion of St. Paul, January 25, 1501, about two P. M., my king, my lord, my Caesar, and my son, was run away with, near Amboise, by a hackney which had been given him by Marshal de Gye; and so great was the danger that those who were present thought it was all over; howbeit God, the protector of widowed women and the defender of orphans, foreseeing things to come, was pleased not to forsake me, knowing that, if accident had so suddenly deprived me of my love, I should have been too utter a wretch.” Such is the account given of this little incident by his mother, Louise of Savoy, who was at that time habitually kept, by Anne of Brittany’s jealousy, at a distance from Paris and the court. [Journal de Louise de Savoie in the Petitot collection of Memoires sur l’Histoire de France, Series I. t. xvi. p. 390.] Some years later the young prince, who had become an ardent huntsman, took the fancy into his head one day to let loose in the courtyard of the castle of Amboise a wild boar which he had just caught in the forest. The animal came to a door, burst it open with a blow of his snout, and walked up into the apartments. Those who were there took to their heels; but Francis went after the boar, came up with him, killed him with a swordthrust, and sent him rolling down the staircase into the courtyard. When, in 1513, Louis XII. sent for the young Duke of Angouleme and bade him go and defend Picardy against the English, Francis had scarcely done anything beyond so employing his natural gifts as to delight the little court of which he was the centre; an estimable trait, but very insufficient for the government of a people.

When, two years afterwards, on the 1st of January, 1515, he ascended the throne before he had attained his one and twentieth year, it was a brilliant and brave but spoiled child that became king. He had been under the governance of Artus Gouffier, Sire de Boisy, a nobleman of Poitou, who had exerted himself to make his royal pupil a loyal knight, well trained in the moral code and all the graces of knighthood, but without drawing his attention to more serious studies or preparing him for the task of government. The young Francis d’Angouleme lived and was moulded under the influence of two women, his mother, Louise of Savoy, and his eldest sister, Marguerite, who both of them loved and adored him with passionate idolatry. It has just been shown in what terms Louise of Savoy, in her daily collection of private memoranda, used to speak to herself of her son, “My king, my lord, my Caesar, and my son!” She was proud, ambitious, audacious, or pliant at need, able and steadfast in mind, violent and dissolute in her habits, greedy of pleasure and of money as well as of power, so that she gave her son neither moral principles nor a moral example: for him the supreme kingship, for herself the rank, influence, and wealth of a queen-mother, and, for both, greatness that might subserve the gratification of their passions—this was all her dream and all her aim as a mother. Of quite another sort were the character and sentiments of Marguerite de Valois. She was born on the 11th of April, 1492, and was, therefore, only two years older than her brother Francis; but her more delicate nature was sooner and more richly cultivated and developed. She was brought up with strictness by a most excellent and most venerable dame, in whom all the virtues, at rivalry one with another, existed together. [Madame de Chatillon, whose deceased husband had been governor to King Charles VIII.] As she was discovered to have rare intellectual gifts and a very keen relish for learning, she was provided with every kind of preceptors, who made her proficient in profane letters, as they were then called. Marguerite learned Latin, Greek, philosophy, and especially theology. “At fifteen years of age,” says a contemporary, “the spirit of God began to manifest itself in her eyes, in her face, in her walk, in her speech, and. generally in all her actions.” “She had a heart,” says Brantome, “mighty devoted to God, and she loved mightily to compose spiritual songs. . . . She also devoted herself to letters in her young days, and continued them as long as she lived, loving and conversing with, in the time of her greatness, the most learned folks of her brother’s kingdom, who honored her so that they called her their Maecenas.” Learning, however, was far from absorbing the whole of this young soul. “She,” says a contemporary, “had an agreeable voice of touching tone, which roused the tender inclinations that there are in the heart.” Tenderness, a passionate tenderness, very early assumed the chief place in Marguerite’s soul, and the first object of it was her brother Francis. When mother, son, and sister were spoken of, they were called a Trinity, and to this Marguerite herself bore witness when she said, with charming modesty,—

“Such boon is mine, to feel the amity
That God hath putten in our trinity,
Wherein to make a third, I, all unfitted
To be that number’s shadow, am admitted.”

Marguerite it was for whom this close communion of three persons had the most dolorous consequences: we shall fall in with her more than once in the course of this history; but, whether or no, she was assuredly the best of this princely trio, and Francis I. was the most spoiled by it. There is nothing more demoralizing than to be an idol.

The first acts of his government were sensible and of good omen. He confirmed or renewed the treaties or truces which Louis XII., at the close of his reign, had concluded with the Venetians, the Swiss, the pope, the King of England, the Archduke Charles, and the Emperor Maximilian, in order to restore peace to his kingdom. At home Francis I. maintained at his council the principal and most tried servants of his predecessor, amongst others the finance-minister, Florimond Robertet; and he raised to four the number of the marshals of France, in order to confer that dignity on Bayard’s valiant friend, James of Chabannes, Lord of La Palice, who even under Louis XII. had been entitled by the Spaniards “the great marshal of France.” At the same time he exalted to the highest offices in the state two new men, Charles, Duke of Bourbon, who was still a mere youth, but already a warrior of renown, and Anthony Duprat, the able premier president of the Parliament of Paris; the former he made constable, and the latter chancellor of France. His mother, Louise of Savoy, was not unconcerned, it is said, in both promotions; she was supposed to feel for the young constable something more than friendship, and she regarded the veteran magistrate, not without reason, as the man most calculated to unreservedly subserve the interests of the kingly power and her own.

These measures, together with the language and the behavior of Francis I., and the care he took to conciliate all who approached him, made a favorable impression on France and on Europe. In Italy, especially, princes as well as people, and Pope Leo X. before all, flattered themselves, or were pleased to appear as if they flattered themselves, that war would not come near them again, and that the young king had his heart set only on making Burgundy secure against sudden and outrageous attacks from the Swiss. The aged King of Spain, Ferdinand the Catholic, adopting the views of his able minister, Cardinal Ximenes, alone showed distrust and anxiety. “Go not to sleep,” said he to his former allies; “a single instant is enough to bring the French in the wake of their master whithersoever he pleases to lead them; is it merely to defend Burgundy that the King of France is adding fifteen hundred lances to his men-at-arms, and that a huge train of artillery is defiling into Lyonness, and little by little approaching the mountains?”

Cardinal Ximenes——14

Ferdinand urged the pope, the Emperor Maximilian, the Swiss, and Maximilian Sforza, Duke of Milan, to form a league for the defence of Italy; but Leo X. persisted in his desire of remaining or appearing neutral, as the common father of the faithful. Meanwhile the French ambassador at Rome, William Bude, “a man,” says Guicciardini, “of probably unique erudition amongst the men of our day,” and, besides, a man of keen and sagacious intellect, was unfolding the secret working of Italian diplomacy, and sending to Paris demands for his recall, saying, “Withdraw me from this court full of falsehoods; this is a residence too much out of my element.” The answer was, that he should have patience, and still negotiate; for France, meeting ruse by ruse, was willing to be considered hoodwinked, whilst the eyes of the pope, diverted by a hollow negotiation, were prevented from seeing the peril which was gathering round the Italian league and its declared or secret champions. [Gaillard, Histoire de Francois 1er, t. i. p. 208.]

Neither the king nor the pope had for long to take the trouble of practising mutual deception. It was announced at Rome that Francis I., having arrived at Lyons in July, 1515, had just committed to his mother, Louise, the regency of the kingdom, and was pushing forward towards the Alps an army of sixty thousand men and a powerful artillery. He had won over to his service Octavian Fregoso, Doge of Genoa; and Barthelemy d’Alviano, the veteran general of his allies the Venetians, was encamped with his troops within hail of Verona, ready to support the French in the struggle he foresaw. Francis I., on his side, was informed that twenty thousand Swiss, commanded by the Roman, Prosper Colonna, were guarding the passes of the Alps in order to shut him out from Milaness. At the same time he received the news that the Cardinal of Sion, his most zealous enemy in connection with the Roman Church, was devotedly employing, with the secret support of the Emperor Maximilian, his influence and his preaching for the purpose of raising in Switzerland a second army of from twenty to five and twenty thousand men, to be launched against him, if necessary, in Italy. A Spanish and Roman army, under the orders of Don Raymond of Cardone, rested motionless at some distance from the Po, waiting for events and for orders prescribing the part they were to take. It was clear that Francis I., though he had been but six months king, was resolved and impatient to resume in Italy, and first of all in Milaness, the war of invasion and conquest which had been engaged in by Charles VIII. and Louis XII.; and the league of all the states of Italy save Venice and Genoa, with the pope for their half-hearted patron, and the Swiss for their fighting men, were collecting their forces to repel the invader.

It was the month of August; the snow was diminishing and melting away among the Alps; and the king, with the main body of the army, joined at Embrun the Constable de Bourbon, who commanded the advance-guard. But the two passes of Mount Cenis and Mount Ginevra were strongly guarded by the Swiss, and others were sought for a little more to the south. A shepherd, a chamois-hunter, pointed out one whereby, he said, the mountains might be crossed, and a descent made upon the plains of the marquisate of Saluzzo. The young constable went in person to examine the spots pointed out by the shepherd; and, the statement having been verified, it did not seem impossible to get the whole army over, even the heavy artillery; and they essayed this unknown road. At several points, abysses had to be filled up, temporary bridges built, and enormous rocks pierced; the men-at-arms marched on foot, with great difficulty dragging their horses; with still greater difficulty the infantry hauled the cannon over holes incompletely stopped and fragments of yawning rock. Captains and soldiers set to work together; no labor seems too hard to eager hope; and in five days the mountain was overcome, and the army caught sight of the plain where the enemy might be encountered. A small body of four hundred men-at-arms, led by Marshal de Chabannes, were the first to descend into it; and among them was Bayard. “Marshal,” said he to Chabannes, “we are told that over the Po yonder is Sir Prosper Colonna, with two thousand horse, in a town called Villafranca, apprehending nought and thinking of nought but gaudies. We must wake up his wits a little, and this moment get into the saddle with all our troops, that he be not warned by any.” “Sir Bayard,” said the marshal, “it is right well said; but how shall we cross the River Po, which is so impetuous and broad?” “Sir,” said Bayard, “here is my Lord de Morette’s brother, who knows the ford; he shall cross first, and I after him.” So they mounted their horses, crossed the Po, and “were soon there, where Sir Prosper Colonna was at table and was dining, as likewise were all his folk.” Bayard, who marched first, found the archers on guard in front of the Italian leader’s quarters. “Yield you and utter no sound,” cried he, “else you are dead men.” Some set about defending themselves; the rest ran to warn Colonna, saying, “Up, sir; for, here are the French in a great troop already at this door.” “Lads,” said Colonna to them, “keep this door a little till we get some armor on to defend ourselves.” But whilst the fight was going on at the door Bayard had the windows scaled, and, entering first, cried out, “Where are you, Sir Prosper? Yield you; else you are a dead man.” “Sir Frenchman, who is your captain?” asked Colonna. “I am, sir.” “Your name, captain?” “Sir, I am one Bayard of France, and here are the Lord of La Palice, and the Lords d’Aubigny and d’Himbercourt, the flower of the captains of France.” Colonna surrendered, cursing Fortune, “the mother of all sorrow and affliction, who had taken away his wits, and because he had not been warned of their coming, for he would at least have made his capture a dear one;” and he added, “It seems a thing divinely done; four noble knights at once, with their comrades at their backs, to take one Roman noble!”

Francis I. and the main body of his army had also arrived at the eastern foot of the Alps, and were advancing into the plains of the country of Saluzzo and Piedmont. The Swiss, dumbfounded at so unexpected an apparition, fell back to Novara, the scene of that victory which two years previously had made them so proud. A rumor spread that negotiation was possible, and that the question of Milaness might be settled without fighting. The majority of the French captains repudiated the idea, but the king entertained it. His first impulses were sympathetic and generous. “I would not purchase,” said he to Marshal de Lautrec, “with the blood of my subjects, or even with that of my enemies, what I can pay for with money.” Parleys were commenced; and an agreement was hit upon with conditions on which the Swiss would withdraw from Italy and resume alliance with the French. A sum of seven hundred thousand crowns, it was said, was the chief condition; and the king and the captains of his army gave all they had, even to their plate, for the first instalment which Lautrec was ordered to convey to Bufalora, where the Swiss were to receive it. But it was suddenly announced that the second army of twenty thousand Swiss, which the Cardinal of Sion had succeeded in raising, had entered Italy by the valley of the Ticino. They formed a junction with their countrymen; the cardinal recommenced his zealous preaching against the French; the newcomers rejected the stipulated arrangements; and, confident in their united strength, all the Swiss made common accord. Lautrec, warned in time, took with all speed his way back to the French army, carrying away with him the money he had been charged to pay over; the Venetian general, D’Alviano, went to the French camp to concert with the king measures for the movements of his troops; and on both sides nothing was thought of but the delivery of a battle.

On the 13th of September, 1515, about midday, the Constable de Bourbon gave notice to the king, encamped at Melegnano (a town about three leagues from Milan), that the Swiss, sallying in large masses from Milan, at the noisy summons of the bull of Uri and the cow of Unterwalden, were advancing to attack. “The king, who was purposing to sit down to supper, left it on the spot, and went off straight towards the enemy, who were already engaged in skirmishing, which lasted a long while before they were at the great game. The king had great numbers of lanzknechts, the which would fain have done a bold deed in crossing a ditch to go after the Swiss; but these latter let seven or eight ranks cross, and then thrust you them back in such sort that all that had crossed got hurled into the ditch. The said lanzknechts were mighty frightened; and but for the aid of a troop of men-at-arms, amongst the which was the good knight Bayard, who bore down right through the Swiss, there had been a sad disaster there, for it was now night, and night knows no shame. A band of Swiss came passing in front of the king, who charged them gallantly. There was heavy fighting there and much danger to the king’s person, for his great buffe [the top of the visor of his helmet] was pierced, so as to let in daylight, by the thrust of a pike. It was now so late that they could not see one another; and the Swiss were, for this evening, forced to retire on the one side, and the French on the other. They lodged as they could; but well I trow that none did rest at ease. The King of France put as good a face on matters as the least of all his soldiers did, for he remained all night a-horseback like the rest (according to other accounts he had a little sleep, lying on a gun-carriage).

All Night A-horseback——19

On the morrow at daybreak the Swiss were for beginning again, and they came straight towards the French artillery, from which they had a good peppering. Howbeit, never did men fight better, and the affair lasted three or four good hours. At last they were broken and beaten, and there were left on the field ten or twelve thousand of them. The remainder, in pretty good order along a high road, withdrew to Milan, whither they were pursued sword-in-hand.” [Histoire du bon Chevalier sans Peur et sans Reproehe, t. ii. pp. 99-102.]

The very day after the battle Francis I. wrote to his mother the regent a long account, alternately ingenuous and eloquent, in which the details are set forth with all the complacency of a brave young man who is speaking of the first great affair in which he has been engaged and in which he did himself honor. The victory of Melegnano was the most brilliant day in the annals of this reign. Old Marshal Trivulzio, who had taken part in seventeen battles, said that this was a strife of giants, beside which all the rest were but child’s play. On the very battle-field, “before making and creating knights of those who had done him good service, Francis I. was pleased to have himself made knight by the hand of Bayard. ‘Sir,’ said Bayard, ‘the king of so noble a realm, he who has been crowned, consecrated and anointed with oil sent down from heaven, he who is the eldest son of the church, is knight over all other knights.’ ‘Bayard, my friend,’ said the king, ‘make haste; we must have no laws or canons quoted here; do my bidding.’ ‘Assuredly, sir,’ said Bayard, ‘I will do it, since it is your pleasure;’ and, taking his sword, ‘Avail it as much,’ said he, ‘as if I were Roland or Oliver, Godfrey or his brother Baldwin; please God, sir, that in war you may never take flight!’ and, holding up his sword in the air, he cried, ‘Assuredly, my good sword, thou shalt be well guarded as a relic and honored above all others for having this day conferred upon so handsome and puissant a king the order of chivalry; and never will I wear thee more if it be not against Turks, Moors, and Saracens!’ Whereupon he gave two bounds and thrust his sword into the sheath.” [Les testes et la Vie du Chevalier Bayard, by Champier, in the Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France, Series I. t. ii. p. 160.]

Bayard Knighting Francis I——19

The effect of the victory of Melegnano was great, in Italy primarily, but also throughout Europe. It was, at the commencement of a new reign and under the impulse communicated by a young king, an event which seemed to be decisive and likely to remain so for a long while. Of all the sovereigns engaged in the Italian league against Francis I., he who was most anxious to appear temperate and almost neutral, namely, Leo X., was precisely he who was most surprised and most troubled by it. When he knew that a battle was on the eve of being fought between the French and the Swiss, he could not conceal his anxiety and his desire that the Swiss might be victorious. The Venetian ambassador at Rome, Marino Giorgi, whose feelings were quite the other way, took, in his diplomatic capacity, a malicious pleasure in disquieting him. “Holy father,” said he, “the Most Christian King is there in person with the most warlike and best appointed of armies; the Swiss are afoot and ill armed, and I am doubtful of their gaining the day.” “But the Swiss are valiant soldiers, are they not?” said the pope. “Were it not better, holy father,” rejoined the ambassador, “that they should show their valor against the infidel?” When the news of the battle arrived, the ambassador, in grand array, repaired to the pope’s; and the people who saw him passing by in such state said, “The news is certainly true.” On reaching the pope’s apartment the ambassador met the chamberlain, who told him that the holy father was still asleep. “Wake him,” said he; but the other refused. “Do as I tell you,” insisted the ambassador. The chamberlain went in; and the pope, only half dressed, soon sallied from his room. “Holy father,” said the Venetian, “your Holiness yesterday gave me some bad news which was false; to-day I have to give you some good news which is true: the Swiss are beaten.” The pope read the letters brought by the ambassador, and some other letters also. “What will come of it for us and for you?” asked the pope. “For us,” was the answer, “nothing but good, since we are with the Most Christian king; and your Holiness will not have aught of evil to suffer.” “Sir Ambassador,” rejoined the pope, “we will see what the Most Christian king will do; we will place ourselves in his hands, demanding mercy of him.” “Holy father, your Holiness will not come to the least harm, any more than the holy See: is not the Most Christian king the church’s own son?” And in the account given of this interview to the Senate of Venice the ambassador added, “The holy father is a good sort of man, a man of great liberality and of a happy disposition; but he would not like the idea of having to give himself much trouble.”

Leo X.——21

Leo X. made up his mind without much trouble to accept accomplished facts. When he had been elected pope, he had said to his brother, Julian de’ Medici, “Enjoy we the papacy, since God hath given it us” [Godiamoci il papato, poiche Dio ci l’ ha dato]. He appeared to have no further thought than how to pluck from the event the advantages he could discover in it. His allies all set him an example of resignation. On the 15th of September, the day after the battle, the Swiss took the road back to their mountains. Francis I. entered Milan in triumph. Maximilian Sforza took refuge in the castle, and twenty days afterwards, on the 4th of October, surrendered, consenting to retire to France with a pension of thirty thousand crowns, and the promise of being recommended for a cardinal’s hat, and almost consoled for his downfall “by the pleasure of being delivered from the insolence of the Swiss, the exactions of the Emperor Maximilian, and the rascalities of the Spaniards.” Fifteen years afterwards, in June, 1530, he died in oblivion at Paris. Francis I. regained possession of all Milaness, adding thereto, with the pope’s consent, the duchies of Parma and Piacenza, which had been detached from it in 1512. Two treaties, one of November 7, 1515, and the other of November 29, 1516, re-established not only peace, but perpetual alliance, between the King of France and the thirteen Swiss cantons, with stipulated conditions in detail. Whilst these negotiations were in progress, Francis I. and Leo X., by a treaty published at Viterbo on the 13th of October, proclaimed their hearty reconciliation. The pope guaranteed to Francis I. the duchy of Milan, restored to him those of Parma and Piacenza, and recalled his troops which were still serving against the Venetians; being careful, however, to cover his concessions by means of forms and pretexts which gave them the character of a necessity submitted to rather than that of an independent and definite engagement. Francis I., on his side, guaranteed to the pope all the possessions of the church, renounced the patronage of the petty princes of the ecclesiastical estate, and promised to uphold the family of the Medici in the position it had held at Florence since, with the King of Spain’s aid, in 1512, it had recovered the dominion there at the expense of the party of republicans and friends of France.

The King of France and the pope had to discuss together questions far more important on both sides than those which had just been thus settled by their accredited agents. When they signed the treaty of Viterbo, it was agreed that the two sovereigns should have a personal interview, at which they should come to an arrangement upon points of which they had as yet said nothing. Rome seemed the place most naturally adapted for this interview; but the pope did not wish that Francis I. should go and display his triumph there. Besides, he foresaw that the king would speak to him about the kingdom of Naples, the conquest of which was evidently premeditated by the king; and when Francis I., having arrived at Rome, had already done half the journey, Leo X. feared that it would be more difficult to divert him. He resolved to make to the king a show of deference to conceal his own disquietude; and offered to go and meet him at Bologna, the town in the Roman States which was nearest to Milaness. Francis accepted the offer. The pope arrived at Bologna on the 8th of December, 1515, and the king the next day. After the public ceremonies, at which the king showed eagerness to tender to the pope acts of homage which the pope was equally eager to curtail without repelling them, the two sovereigns conversed about the two questions which were uppermost in their minds. Francis did not attempt to hide his design of reconquering the kingdom of Naples, which Ferdinand the Catholic had wrongfully usurped, and he demanded the pope’s countenance. The pope did not care to refuse, but he pointed out to the king that everything foretold the very near death of King Ferdinand; and “Your majesty,” said he, “will then have a natural opportunity for claiming your rights; and as for me, free, as I shall then be, from my engagements with the King of Arragon in respect of the crown of Naples, I shall find it easier to respond to your majesty’s wish.” The pope merely wanted to gain time. Francis, setting aside for the moment the kingdom of Naples, spoke of Charles VII.‘s Pragmatic Sanction, and the necessity of putting an end to the difficulties which had arisen on this subject between the court of Rome and the Kings of France, his predecessors. “As to that,” said the pope, “I could not grant what your predecessors demanded; but be not uneasy; I have a compensation to propose to you which will prove to you how dear your interests are to me.” The two sovereigns had, without doubt, already come to an understanding on this point, when, after a three days’ interview with Leo X., Francis I. returned to Milan, leaving at Bologna, for the purpose of treating in detail the affair of the Pragmatic Sanction, his chancellor, Duprat, who had accompanied him during all this campaign as his adviser and negotiator.

In him the king had, under the name and guise of premier magistrate of the realm, a servant whose bold and complacent abilities he was not slow to recognize and to put in use. Being irritated “for that many, not having the privilege of sportsmen, do take beasts, both red and black, as hares, pheasants, partridges, and other game, thus frustrating us of our diversion and pastime that we take in the chase,” Francis I. issued, in March, 1516, an ordinance which decreed against poachers the most severe penalties, and even death, and which “granted to all princes, lords, and gentlemen possessing forests or warrens in the realm, the right of upholding therein by equally severe punishments the exclusive privileges of their preserves.” The Parliament made remonstrances against such excessive rigor, and refused to register the ordinance. The chancellor, Duprat, insisted, and even threatened. “To the king alone,” said he, “belongs the right of regulating the administration of his state obey, or the king will see in you only rebels, whom he will know how to chastise.” For a year the Parliament held out; but the chancellor persisted more obstinately in having his way, and, on the 11th of February, 1517, the ordinance was registered under a formal order from the king, to which the name was given of “letters of command.”

Anthony Duprat——24

At the commencement of the war for the conquest of Milaness there was a want of money, and Francis I. hesitated to so soon impose new taxes. Duprat gave a scandalous extension to a practice which had been for a long while in use, but had always been reprobated and sometimes formally prohibited, namely, the sale of public appointments or offices: not only did he create a multitude of financial and administrative offices, the sale of which brought considerable sums into the treasury, but he introduced the abuse into the very heart of the judicial body; the tribunals were encumbered by newly-created magistrates. The estates of Languedoc complained in vain. The Parliament of Paris was in its turn attacked. In 1521, three councillors, recently nominated, were convicted of having paid, one three thousand eight hundred livres, and the two others six thousand livres. The Parliament refused to admit them. Duprat protested. The necessities of the state, he said, made borrowing obligatory; and the king was free to prefer in his selections those of his subjects who showed most zeal for his service. Parliament persisted in its refusal. Duprat resolved to strike a great blow. An edict of January 31, 1522, created within the Parliament a fourth chamber, composed of eighteen councillors and two presidents, all of fresh, and, no doubt, venal appointment, though the edict dared not avow as much. Two great personages, the Archbishop of Aix and Marshal de Montmorenci, were charged to present the edict to Parliament and require its registration. The Parliament demanded time for deliberation. It kept an absolute silence for six weeks, and at last presented an address to the queen-mother, trying to make her comprehend the harm such acts did to the importance of the magistracy and to her son’s government. Louise appeared touched by these representations, and promised to represent their full weight to the king, “if the Parliament will consent to point out to me of itself any other means of readily raising the sum of one hundred and twenty thousand livres, which the king absolutely cannot do without.” The struggle was prolonged until the Parliament declared “that it could not, without offending God and betraying its own conscience, proceed to the registration; but that if it were the king’s pleasure to be obeyed at any price, he had only to depute his chancellor or some other great personage, in whose presence and on whose requirement the registration should take place.” Chancellor Duprat did not care to undertake this commission in person. Count de St. Pol, governor of Paris, was charged with it, and the court caused to be written at the bottom of the letters of command, “Read and published in presence of Count de St. Pol, specially deputed for this purpose, who ordered viva voce, in the king’s name, that they be executed.”

Thus began to be implanted in that which should be the most respected and the most independent amongst the functions of government, namely, the administration of justice, not only the practice, but the fundamental maxim, of absolute government. “I am going to the court, and I will speak the truth; after which the king will have to be obeyed,” was said in the middle of the seventeenth century by the premier president Mold to Cardinal de Retz. Chancellor Duprat, if we are not mistaken, was, in the sixteenth century, the first chief of the French magistracy to make use of language despotic not only in fact, but also in principle. President Mole was but the head of a body invested, so far as the king was concerned, with the right of remonstrance and resistance; when once that right was exercised, he might, without servility, give himself up to resignation. Chancellor Duprat was the delegate, the organ, the representative of the king; it was in the name of the king himself that he affirmed the absolute power of the kingship and the absolute duty of submission. Francis I. could not have committed the negotiation with Leo X. in respect of Charles VII.‘s Pragmatic Sanction to a man with more inclination and better adapted for the work to be accomplished.

The Pragmatic Sanction had three principal objects:—

1.  To uphold the liberties and the influence of the faithful in the
government of the church, by sanctioning their right to elect
ministers of the Christian faith, especially parish priests and

2.  To guarantee the liberties and rights of the church herself in
her relations with her head, the pope, by proclaiming the necessity
for the regular intervention of councils and their superiority in
regard to the pope;

3.  To prevent or reform abuses in the relations of the papacy with
the state and church of France in the matter of ecclesiastical
tribute, especially as to the receipt by the pope, under the name of
annates, of the first year’s revenue of the different ecclesiastical
offices and benefices.

In the fifteenth century it was the general opinion in France, in state and in church, that there was in these dispositions nothing more than the primitive and traditional liberties and rights of the Christian church. There was no thought of imposing upon the papacy any new regimen, but only of defending the old and legitimate regimen, recognized and upheld by St. Louis in the thirteenth century as well as by Charles VII. in the fifteenth.

The popes, nevertheless, had all of them protested since the days of Charles VII. against the Pragmatic Sanction as an attack upon their rights, and had demanded its abolition. In 1461, Louis XI., as has already been shown, had yielded for a moment to the demand of Pope Pius II., whose countenance he desired to gain, and had abrogated the Pragmatic; but, not having obtained what he wanted thereby, and having met with strong opposition in the Parliament of Paris to his concession, he had let it drop without formally retracting it, and, instead of engaging in a conflict with Parliament upon the point, he thought it no bad plan for the magistracy to uphold in principle and enforce in fact the regulations of the Pragmatic Sanction. This important edict, then, was still vigorous in 1515, when Francis I., after his victory at Melegnano and his reconciliation with the pope, left Chancellor Duprat at Bologna to pursue the negotiation reopened on that subject. The compensation, of which Leo X., on redemanding the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction, had given a peep to Francis I., could not fail to have charms for a prince so little scrupulous, and for his still less scrupulous chancellor. The pope proposed that the Pragmatic, once for all abolished, should be replaced by a Concordat between the two sovereigns, and that this Concordat, whilst putting a stop to the election of the clergy by the faithful, should transfer to the king the right of nomination to bishoprics and other great ecclesiastical offices and benefices, reserving to the pope the right of presentation of prelates nominated by the king. This, considering the condition of society and government in the sixteenth century, in the absence of political and religious liberty, was to take away from the church her own existence, and divide her between two masters, without giving her, as regarded either of them, any other guarantee of independence than the mere chance of their dissensions and quarrels.

Egotism, even in kings, has often narrow and short-sighted views. It was calculated that there were in France at this period ten archbishoprics, eighty-three bishoprics, and five hundred and twenty-seven abbeys. Francis I. and his chancellor saw in the proposed Concordat nothing but the great increment of influence it secured to them, by making all the dignitaries of the church suppliants at first and then clients of the kingship. After some difficulties as to points of detail, the Concordat was concluded and signed on the 18th of August, 1516. Five months afterwards, on the 5th of February, 1517, the king repaired in person to Parliament, to which he had summoned many prelates and doctors of the University. The chancellor explained the points of the Concordat, and recapitulated all the facts which, according to him, had made it necessary. The king ordered its registration, “for the good of his kingdom and for quittance of the promise he had given the pope.” Parliament on one side, and the prelates and doctors of the University on the other, deliberated upon this demand. Their first answer was that, as the matter concerned the interest of the whole Gallican church, they could not themselves decide about it, and that the church, assembled in national council, alone had the right of pronouncing judgment. “Oho! so you cannot,” said the king; “I will soon let you see that you can, or I will send you all to Rome to give the pope your reasons.” To the question of conscience the Parliament found thenceforth added the question of dignity. The magistrates raised difficulties in point of form, and asked for time to discuss the matter fundamentally; and deputies went to carry their request to the king. He admitted the propriety of delay, but with this comment: “I know that there are in my Parliament good sort of men, wise men; but I also know that there are turbulent and rash fools; I have my eye upon them; and I am informed of the language they dare to hold about my conduct. I am king as my predecessors were; and I mean to be obeyed as they were. You are constantly vaporing to me about Louis XII. and his love of justice; know ye that justice is as dear to me as it was to him; but that king, just as he was, often drove out from the kingdom rebels, though they were members of Parliament; do not force me to imitate him in his severity.” Parliament entered upon a fundamental examination of the question; their deliberations lasted from the 13th to the 24th of July, 1517; and the conclusion they came to was, that Parliament could not and ought not to register the Concordat; that, if the king persisted in his intention of making it a law of the realm, he must employ the same means as Charles VII. had employed for establishing the Pragmatic Sanction, and that, therefore, he must summon a general council. On the 14th of January, 1518, two councillors arrived at Amboise, bringing to the king the representations of the Parliament. When their arrival was announced to the king, “Before I receive them,” said he, “I will drag them about at my heels as long as they have made me wait.” He received them, however, and handed their representations over to the chancellor, bidding him reply to them. Duprat made a learned and specious reply, but one which left intact the question of right, and, at bottom, merely defended the Concordat on the ground of the king’s good pleasure and requirements of policy. On the last day of February, 1518, the king gave audience to the deputies, and handed them the chancellor’s reply. They asked to examine it. “You shall not examine it,” said the king; “this would degenerate into an endless process. A hundred of your heads, in Parliament, have been seven months and more painfully getting up these representations, which my chancellor has blown to the winds in a few days. There is but one king in France; I have done all I could to restore peace to my kingdom; and I will not allow nullification here of that which I brought about with so much difficulty in Italy. My Parliament would set up for a Venetian Senate; let it confine its meddling to the cause of justice, which is worse administered than it has been for a hundred years; I ought, perhaps, to drag it about at my heels, like the Grand Council, and watch more closely over its conduct.” The two deputies made an attempt to prolong their stay at Amboise: but, “If before six to-morrow morning,” said the king, “they be not gone, I will send some archers to take them and cast them into a dungeon for six months; and woe to whoever dares to speak to me for them!”

On returning to Paris the deputies were beginning to give their fellows an account of how harsh a reception they met with, when Louis de la Tremoille, the most respected amongst the chiefs of the army, entered the hall. He came by order of the king to affirm to the Parliament that to dismiss the Concordat was to renew the war, and that it must obey on the instant or profess open rebellion. Parliament upheld its decision of July 24, 1517, against the Concordat, at the same time begging La Tremoille to write to the king to persuade him, if he insisted upon registration, to send some person of note or to commission La Tremoille himself to be present at the act, and to see indorsed upon the Concordat, “Read, published, and registered at the king’s most express command several times repeated, in presence of . . . , specially deputed by him for that purpose.” Tremoille hesitated to write, and exhibited the letters whereby the king urged him to execute the strict orders laid upon him. “What are those orders, then?” asked the premier president. “That is the king’s secret,” answered La Tremoille: “I may not reveal it; all that I can tell you is, that I should never have peace of mind if you forced me to carry them out.” The Parliament in its excitement begged La Tremoille to withdraw, and sent for him back almost immediately. “Choose,” said the premier president to him, “between Saturday or Monday next to be present at the registration.” La Tremoille chose Monday, wishing to allow himself time for an answer even yet from the king. But no new instructions came to him; and on the 22d of March, 1518, Parliament proceeded to registration of the Concordat, with the forms and reservations which they had announced, and which were evidence of compulsion. The other Parliaments of France followed with more or less zeal, according to their own particular dispositions, the example shown by that of Paris. The University was heartily disposed to push resistance farther than had been done by Parliament: its rector caused to be placarded on the 27th of March, 1518, in the streets of Paris, an order forbidding all printers and booksellers to print the Concordat on pain of losing their connection with the University. The king commanded informations to be filed against the authors and placarders of the order, and, on the 27th of April, sent to the Parliament an edict, which forbade the University to meddle in any matter of public police, or to hold any assembly touching such matters, under pain, as to the whole body, of having its privileges revoked, and, as to individuals, of banishment and confiscation. The king’s party demanded of Parliament registration of this edict. Parliament confined itself to writing to the king, agreeing that the University had no right to meddle in affairs of government, but adding that there were strong reasons, of which it would give an account whenever the king should please to order, why it, the Parliament, should refuse registration of the edict. It does not appear that the king ever asked for such account, or that his wrath against the University was more obstinately manifested. The Concordat was registered, and Francis I., after having achieved an official victory over the magistrates, had small stomach for pursuing extreme measures against the men of letters.

We have seen that in the course of the fifteenth century, there were made in France two able and patriotic attempts; the Pragmatic Sanction, in 1458, under Charles VII., and the States General of 1484, under Charles VIII. We do not care to discuss here all the dispositions of those acts; some of them were, indeed, questionable; but they both of them, one in respect of the church and the other of the state, aimed at causing France to make a great stride towards a national, free and legalized regimen, to which French feudal society had never known how or been willing to adjust itself. These two attempts failed. It would be unjust to lay the blame on the contemporary governments. Charles VII. was in earnest about the Pragmatic Sanction which he submitted to the deliberations and votes of a national council; and Louis XI., after having for a while given it up to the pope, retraced his steps and left it in force. As to the States General of 1484, neither the regent, Anne de Beaujeu, nor Charles VIII., offered the slightest hinderance to their deliberations and their votes; and if Louis XII. did not convoke the States afresh, he constantly strove in the government of his kingdom to render them homage and give them satisfaction. We may feel convinced that, considering the social and intellectual condition of France at this time, these two patriotic attempts were premature; but a good policy, being premature, is not on that account alone condemned to failure; what it wants is time to get itself comprehended, appreciated, and practised gradually and consistently. If the successors of Louis XII. had acted in the same spirit and with the same view as their predecessor, France would probably have made progress in this salutary path. But exactly the contrary took place. Instead of continuing a more and more free and legal regimen, Francis I. and his chancellor, Duprat, loudly proclaimed and practised the maxims of absolute power; in the church, the Pragmatic Sanction was abolished; and in the state, Francis I., during a reign of thirty-two years, did not once convoke the States General, and labored only to set up the sovereign right of his own sole will. The church was despoiled of her electoral autonomy; and the magistracy, treated with haughty and silly impertinence, was vanquished and humiliated in the exercise of its right of remonstrance. The Concordat of 1516 was not the only, but it was the gravest pact of alliance concluded between the papacy and the French kingship for the promotion mutually of absolute power.

Whilst this question formed the subject of disputes in France between the great public authorities, there was springing up, outside of France, between the great European powers another not more grave in regard to a distant future, but more threatening in regard to the present peace of nations. King Ferdinand the Catholic had died on the 23d of January, 1516; and his grandson and successor, Archduke Charles, anxious to go and take possession of the throne of Spain, had hastily concluded with Francis I., on the 13th of August, 1516, at Noyon, a treaty intended to settle differences between the two crowns as to the kingdoms of Naples and Navarre. The French and Spanish plenipotentiaries, Sires de Boisy and de Chievres, were still holding meetings at Montpellier, trying to come to an understanding about the execution of this treaty, when the death of Emperor Maximilian at Wels, in Austria, on the 12th of January, 1519, occurred to add the vacant throne of a great power to the two second-rate thrones already in dispute between two powerful princes. Three claimants, Charles of Austria, who was the new King of Spain, Francis I., and Henry VIII., King of England, aspired to this splendid heritage. In 1517, Maximilian himself, in one of his fits of temper and impecuniosity, had offered to abdicate and give up the imperial dignity to Henry VIII. for a good round sum; but the King of England’s envoy, Dr. Cuthbert Tunstall, a stanch and clearsighted servant, who had been sent to Germany to deal with this singular proposal, opened his master’s eyes to its hollowness and falsehood, and Henry VIII. held himself aloof. Francis I. remained the only rival of Charles of Austria; Maximilian labored eagerly to pave the way for his grandson’s success; and at his death the struggle between the two claimants had already become so keen that Francis I., on hearing the news, exclaimed, “I will spend three millions to be elected emperor, and I swear that, three years after the election, I will be either at Constantinople or dead.”

The Turks, who had been since 1453 settled at Constantinople, were the terror of Christian Europe; and Germany especially had need of a puissant and valiant defender against them. Francis I. calculated that the Christians of Germany and Hungary would see in him, the King of France and the victor of Melegnano, their most imposing and most effectual champion.

Having a superficial mind and being full of vain confidence, Francis I. was mistaken about the forces and chances on his side, as well as about the real and natural interests of France, and also his own. There was no call for him to compromise himself in this electoral struggle of kings, and in a distant war against triumphant Islamry. He miscalculated the strong position and personal valor of the rival with whom he would have to measure swords. Charles of Austria was but nineteen, and Francis I. was twenty-three, when they entered, as antagonists, into the arena of European politics. Charles had as yet gained no battle and won no renown; while Francis I. was already a victorious king and a famous knight. But the young archduke’s able governor, William de Croy, Lord of Chievres, “had early trained him,” says M. Mignet, “to the understanding and management of his various interests; from the time that he was fifteen, Charles presided every day at his council; there he himself read out the contents of despatches which were delivered to him the moment they arrived, were it even in the dead of night; his council had become his school, and business served him for books. . . . Being naturally endowed with superior parts, a penetrating intellect and rare firmness of character, he schooled himself to look Fortune in the face without being intoxicated by her smiles or troubled at her frowns, to be astonished by nothing that happened, and to make up his mind in any danger. He had even now the will of an emperor and an overawing manner. ‘His dignity and loftiness of soul are such,’ says a contemporary writer, ‘that he seems to hold the universe under his feet.’” Charles’s position in Germany was as strong as the man himself; he was a German, a duke of Austria, of the imperial line, as natural a successor of his grandfather Maximilian at Frankfort as of his grandfather Ferdinand at Madrid. Such was the adversary, with such advantages of nationality and of person, against whom Francis I., without any political necessity, and for the sole purpose of indulging an ambitious vision and his own kingly self-esteem, was about to engage in a struggle which was to entail a heavy burden on his whole life, and bring him not in triumph to Constantinople, but in captivity to Madrid.

Before the death of Maximilian, and when neither party had done more than foresee the struggle and get ready for it, Francis I. was for some time able to hope for some success. Seven German princes, three ecclesiastical and four laic, the Archbishops of Mayence, Cologne, and Troves, and the Duke of Saxony, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, and the King of Bohemia, had the sole power of electing the emperor. Four of them, the Archbishops of Troves and of Cologne, the Count Palatine of the Rhine and the Margrave of Brandenburg, had favorably received the overtures of Francis I., and had promised him their suffrages. His devoted servant, Robert de la Marck, Lord of Fleuranges, had brought to him at Amboise a German gentleman from the Palatinate, Franz von Sickingen, “of very petty family, but a very gentle companion,” says Fleuranges, “the most beautiful talker that I think I ever saw in my life, and in so much that there was no gentleman in Germany, prince or man of war, who would not have been glad to do him pleasure.” Francis I. had received him with very chivalrous grace, and had given him a pension of three thousand livres and handsome presents for his comrades in adventure; and Sickingen was so charmed that he said to Fleuranges on leaving Amboise, “The king did not open his heart to me on the subject of the empire; however, I know all about it, and I beg you to tell him that I will do his service and keep the oath I gave him.” A more important personage than Sickingen, Leo X., would have been very glad to have for emperor in Germany neither the King of France nor the King of Spain, both of them being far too powerful in Europe and far too emulous in Italy not to be dangerous enemies or inconvenient allies for him; and he tried to dissuade Francis I. from making any claim to the empire, and to induce him to employ his influence in bringing about the election of a second-rate German prince, Frederick the Wise, Duke of Saxony, who was justly popular in Germany, and who would never be in a condition to do France any harm. It was judicious advice and a policy good for France as well as for Europe in general; but Francis I., infatuated by his desire and his hope, did not relish it at all; and Leo X., being obliged to choose between the two great claimants, declared for Francis I., without any pleasure or confidence, but also without any great perplexity, for he had but little faith in the success which he made a show of desiring. Francis, deceived by these appearances and promises, on the part both of ecclesiastics and laics, held language breathing a gallant and almost careless confidence. “We are not enemies, your master and I,” he said to the ambassadors of Spain; “we are two lovers courting the same mistress: whichever of the two she may prefer, the other will have to submit, and harbor no resentment.” But when, shortly after Maximilian’s death, the struggle became closer and the issue nearer, the inequality between the forces and chances of the two rivals became quite manifest, and Francis I. could no longer affect the same serenity. He had intrusted the management of his affairs in Germany to a favorite comrade of his early youth, Admiral de Bonnivet, a soldier and a courtier, witty, rash, sumptuous, eager to display his master’s power and magnificence. Charles of Austria’s agents, and at their head his aunt Margaret, who had the government of the Low Countries in his absence, were experienced, deliberate, discreet, more eager to succeed in their purpose than to make a brilliant appearance, and resolved to do quietly whatever was necessary for success. And to do so they were before long as fully authorized as they were resolved. They discovered that Francis I. had given Bonnivet four hundred thousand crowns in gold that he might endeavor to bribe the electors; it was, according to report, double the sum Charles of Austria had promised for the same object; and his agents sent him information of it, and received this answer: “We are wholly determined to spare nothing and to stake all for all upon it, as the matter we most desire and have most at heart in this world. . . . The election must be secured, whatever it may cost me.” The question before the seven elective princes who were to dispose of the empire was thenceforth merely which of the two claimants would be the higher and the safer bidder. Francis I. engaged in a tussle of wealth and liberality with Charles of Austria. One of his agents wrote to him, “All will go well if we can fill the maw of the Margrave Joachim of Brandenburg; he and his brother the elector from Mayence fall every day into deeper depths of avarice; we must hasten to satisfy them with speed, speed, speed.” Francis I. replied, “I will have Marquis Joachim gorged at any price;” and he accordingly made over to him in ready money and bills of short dates all that was asked for by the margrave, who on the 8th of April, 1519, gave a written undertaking to support the candidature “of the most invincible and Most Christian prince, Francis, by the grace of God King of the French, Duke of Milan, and Lord of Genoa, who, what with his vigorous age, his ability, his justice, his military experience, the brilliant fortune of his arms, and all other qualities required for war and the management of the commonwealth, surpasses, in the judgment of every one, all other Christian princes.” But Charles of Austria did not consider himself beaten because two of the seven electors displayed avarice and venality. His aunt Margaret and his principal agent in Germany, the Chamberlain Armerstoff, resumed financial negotiations with the Archbishop of Mayence, for his brother the margrave as well as for himself, and the archbishop, without any formal engagement, accepted the Austrian over-bid. “I am ashamed at his shamelessness,” wrote Armerstorff to Charles. Alternate and antagonistic bargaining went on thus for more than two months. The Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann von Wied, kept wavering between the two claimants; but he was careful to tell John d’Albret, Francis I.‘s agent, that “he sincerely hoped that his Majesty would follow the doctrine of God, who gave as much to those who went to work in His vineyard towards the middle of the day as to those who had been at it all the morning.” Duke Frederick of Saxony was the only one of the seven electors who absolutely refused to make any promise, as well as to accept any offer, and preserved his independence, as well as his dignity. The rumor of all these traffickings and these uncertainties rekindled in Henry VIII., King of England, a fancy for placing himself once more in the ranks; but his agent, Richard Pace, found the negotiations too far advanced and the prices too high for him to back up this vain whim of his master’s; and Henry VIII. abandoned it. The diet had been convoked for the 17th of June at Frankfort. The day was drawing near; and which of the two parties had the majority was still regarded as, uncertain. Franz von Sickingen appeared in the outskirts of Frankfort with more than twenty thousand men of the German army, “whereat marvellously astonished,” says Fleuranges, “were they who wished well to the King of France and very mightily rejoiced they who wished well to the Catholic king.” The gentleman-adventurer had not been less accessible than the prince-electors to bribery. The diet opened on the 18th of June. The Archbishop of Mayence made a great speech in favor of Charles of Austria; and the Archbishop of Troves spoke in favor of Francis I., to whom he had remained faithful. Rival intrigues were kept up; Sickingen and his troops were a clog upon deliberation; the electors were embarrassed and weary of their dissensions; and the Archbishop of Troves proposed by way of compromise the election of the Duke of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, who, at this crisis so shameful for his peers, had just given fresh proofs of his sound judgment, his honesty, and his patriotic independence. But Frederick declined the honor it was intended to do him, and which he considered beyond his powers to support; and he voted for Archduke Charles, “a real German prince,” said he, “the choice of whom seemed to him most natural in point of right and most suitable in point of fact under the present circumstances of Europe.” The six other electors gave in to his opinion, and that same day, June 18, 1519, unanimously elected the King of Spain, Charles, King of the Romans and Emperor of Germany, with the title of Charles V.

Charles V——39

Whatever pains were taken by Francis I. to keep up a good appearance after this heavy reverse, his mortification was profound, and he thought of nothing but getting his revenge. He flattered himself he would find something of the sort in a solemn interview and an appearance of alliance with Henry VIII., King of England, who had, like himself, just undergone in the election to the empire a less flagrant but an analogous reverse. It had already, in the previous year and on the occasion of a treaty concluded between the two kings for the restitution of Tournai to France, been settled that they should meet before long in token of reconciliation. Allusion had even been made, at that period, to a much more important restitution, of Calais in fact, for which Francis I., at what price we know not, had obtained the advocacy of Cardinal Wolsey, who was then all-powerful with Henry VIII. “Of what use to Us,” Wolsey had said, “is this town of Calais, where in time of peace as well as of war we have to keep up such numerous garrisons, which costs us so much money, and which so often forces us to measures contrary to the real interests of England?” But this idea was vehemently scouted by the English, and the coming interview between the two kings remained the sole accessory of the treaty of 1518. After Charles V.‘s election to the empire, Francis I. was eager to claim this interview, which was sure to cause in Europe the impression of a close understanding between the two kings before the very eyes of their common rival. A convention, signed on the 26th of March, 1520, regulated its details. It was stipulated that the two kings should meet in Picardy between Guines, an English possession in the neighborhood of Calais, and Ardres, which belonged to France. But, so soon as Charles V., at that time in Spain, was informed of this design, he used all his efforts to make it abortive. Henry, however, stood firm; not that he had resolved to knit himself closely with Francis I. against the new emperor, whom, a few months previously, he had shown alacrity in felicitating upon his accession to the empire, but he was unwilling to fail in his promise to the King of France, and he liked to assume in respect of the two rivals the part of an arbiter equally courted by both. Charles V., still actively working against the interview, entered into secret negotiation with Cardinal Wolsey to obtain for himself also an interview with Henry VIII., which would destroy the effect of that in course of arrangement between the Kings of France and England. In writing to Wolsey he called him his “very dear friend,” and guaranteed him a pension of seven thousand ducats, secured upon two Spanish bishoprics; and on the 26th of May, 1520, Henry VIII. received at Canterbury, as he was passing by on his way to embark at Dover for the interview in France, the as it were unexpected information that Charles V. had just arrived with his fleet at the port of Hythe. The king immediately sent Wolsey to meet the emperor, who disembarked at Dover, whither Henry went to visit him; and the two sovereigns repaired together to Canterbury, where they went in state to the cathedral, “resplendent,” says Erasmus, “with all the precious gifts it had received for so many centuries, especially with the most precious of all, the chest containing the remains of Thomas a-Becket, so magnificent that gold was the least of its ornaments.” There they passed three days, treating of their affairs in the midst of galas, during which Charles V. completely won over Wolsey by promising to help him to become pope. On the 31st of May, 1520, Charles, quite easy about the interview in France, embarked at Sandwich for his Flemish possessions, and Henry VIII. made sail for Calais, his point of departure to the place agreed upon for Francis to meet him, and where they had made up their minds, both of them, to display all the splendors of their two courts.

This meeting has remained celebrated in history far more for its royal pomp, and for the personal incidents which were connected with it, than for its political results. It was called The Field of Cloth of Gold; and the courtiers who attended the two sovereigns felt bound to almost rival them in sumptuousness, “insomuch,” says the contemporary Martin du Bellay, “that many bore thither their mills, their forests, and their meadows on their backs.” Henry VIII. had employed eleven hundred workmen, the most skilful of Flanders and Holland, in building a quadrangular palace of wood, one hundred and twenty-eight feet long every way; on one side of the entrance-gate was a fountain, covered with gilding, and surmounted by a statue of Bacchus, round which there flowed through subterranean pipes all sorts of wines, and which bore in letters of gold the inscription, “Make good cheer, who will;” and on the other side a column, supported by four lions, was surmounted by a statue of Cupid armed with bow and arrows. Opposite the palace was erected a huge figure of a savage wearing the arms of his race, with this inscription, chosen by Henry VIII.: “He whom I back wins.” The frontage was covered outside with canvas painted to represent freestone; and the inside was hung with rich tapestries. Francis I., emulous of equalling his royal neighbor in magnificence, had ordered to be erected close to Ardres an immense tent, upheld in the middle by a colossal pole firmly fixed in the ground and with pegs and cordage all around it. Outside, the tent, in the shape of a dome, was covered with cloth of gold; and, inside, it represented a sphere with a ground of blue velvet and studded with stars, like the firmament. At each angle of the large tent there was a small one equally richly decorated. But before the two sovereigns exchanged visits, in the midst of all these magnificent preparations, there arose a violent hurricane, which tore up the pegs and split the cordage of the French tent, scattered them over the ground, and forced Francis I. to take up his quarters in an old castle near Ardres. When the two kings’ two chief councillors, Cardinal Wolsey on one side and Admiral Bonnivet on the other, had regulated the formalities, on the 7th of June, 1520, Francis I. and Henry VIII. set out on their way, at the same hour and the same pace, for their meeting in the valley of Ardres, where a tent had been prepared for them. As they drew near, some slight anxiety was manifested by the escort of the King of England, amongst whom a belief prevailed that that of the King of France was more numerous; but it was soon perceived to be nothing of the sort. The two kings, mounted upon fine horses and superbly dressed, advanced towards one another; and Henry VIII.‘s horse stumbled, which his servants did not like. The two kings saluted each other with easy grace, exchanged embraces without getting off their horses, dismounted, and proceeded arm-in-arm to the tent where Wolsey and De Bonnivet were awaiting them. “My dear brother and cousin,” immediately said Francis with his easy grace, “I am come a long way, and not without trouble, to see you in person. I hope that you hold me for such as I am, ready to give you aid with the kingdoms and lordships that are in my power.” Henry, with a somewhat cold reserve, replied, “It is not your kingdoms or your divers possessions that I regard, but the soundness and loyal observance of the promises set down in the treaties between you and me. My eyes never beheld a prince who could be dearer to my heart, and I have crossed the seas at the extreme boundary of my kingdom to come and see you.” The two kings entered the tent and signed a treaty whereby the Dauphin of France was to marry Princess Mary, only daughter at that time of Henry VIII., to whom Francis I. undertook to pay annually a sum of one hundred thousand livres [two million eight hundred thousand francs, or one hundred and twelve thousand pounds in the money of our day], until the marriage was celebrated, which would not be for some time yet, as the English princess was only four years old. The two kings took wine together, according to custom, and reciprocally presented the members of their courts. “King Francis,” says Henry VIII.‘s favorite chronicler, Edward Hall, who was there, “is an amiable prince, proud in bearing and gay in manner, with a brown complexion, large eyes, long nose, thick lips, broad chest and shoulders, short legs, and big feet.” Titian’s portrait gives a loftier and more agreeable idea of Francis I.

When the two kings proceeded to sign, in their tent, the treaty they had just concluded, “the King of England,” according to Fleuranges’ Memoires, “himself took up the articles and began to read them. When he had read those relating to the King of France, who was to have the priority, and came to speak of himself, he got as far as, ‘I, Henry, King’ . . . (he would have said of France and England), but he left out the title as far as France was concerned, and said to King Francis, ‘I will not put it in as you are here, for I should lie;’ and he said only, ‘I Henry, King of England.’” But, as M. Mignet very properly says, “if he omitted the title in his reading, he left it in the treaty itself, and, shortly afterwards, was ambitious to render it a reality, when he invaded France and wished to reign over it.”

After the diplomatic stipulations were concluded, the royal meeting was prolonged for sixteen days, which were employed in tourneys, jousts, and all manner of festivals. The personal communication of the two kings was regulated with all the precautions of official mistrust and restraint; and when the King of England went to Ardres to see the Queen of France, the King of France had to go to Guines to see the Queen of England, for the two kings were hostages for one another. “The King of France, who was not a suspicious man,” says Fleuranges, “was mighty vexed at there being so little confidence in one another. He got up one morning very early, which is not his habit, took two gentlemen and a page, the first three he could find, mounted his horse, and went to visit the King of England at the castle of Guines. When he came on to the castle-bridge, all the English were mighty astonished. As he rode amongst them, the king gayly called upon them to surrender to him, and asked them the way to the chamber of the king his brother, the which was pointed out to him by the governor of Guines, who said to him, ‘Sir, he is not awake.’ But King Francis passed on all the same, went up to the said chamber, knocked at the door, awoke the King of England, and walked in.

Francis I. Surprises Henry Viii.——44

Never was man more dumbfounded than King Henry, who said to King Francis, ‘Brother, you have done me a better turn than ever man did to another, and you show me the great trust I ought to have in you. I yield myself your prisoner from this moment, and I proffer you my parole.’ He undid from his neck a collar worth fifteen thousand angels, and begged the King of France to take it and wear it that very day for his prisoner’s sake. And, lo, the king, who wished to do him the same turn, had brought with him a bracelet which was worth more than thirty thousand angels, and begged him to wear it for his sake, which thing he did, and the King of France put what had been given him on his neck. Thereupon the King of England was minded to get up, and the King of France said that he should have no other chamber-attendant but himself, and he warmed his shirt and handed it to him when he was up. The King of France made up his mind to go back, notwithstanding that the King of England would have kept him to dinner; but, inasmuch as there was to be jousting after dinner, he mounted his horse and went back to Ardres. He met a many good folk who were coming to meet him, amongst the rest l’Aventureux [a name given to Fleuranges himself], who said to him, ‘My dear master, you are mad to have done what you have done; I am very glad to see you back here, and devil take him who counselled you.’ Whereupon the king said that never a soul had counselled him, and that he knew well that there was not a soul in his kingdom who would have so counselled him; and then he began to tell what he had done at the said Guines, and so returned, conversing, to Ardres, for it was not far.”

“Then began the jousts, which lasted a week, and were wondrous fine, both a-foot and a-horseback. After all these pastimes the King of France and the King of England retired to a pavilion, where they drank together. And there the King of England took the King of France by the collar, and said to him, ‘Brother, I should like to wrestle with you,’ and gave him a feint or two; and the King of France, who is a mighty good wrestler, gave him a turn and threw him on the ground. And the King of England would have had yet another trial; but all that was broken off, and it was time to go to supper. After this they had yet three or four jousts and banquets, and then they took leave of one another [on the 24th of June, 1520], with the greatest possible peace between the princes and princesses. That done, the King of England returned to Guines, and the King of France to France; and it was not without giving great gifts at parting, one to another.” [Memoires de Fleuranges, pp. 349-363.]

The Field of the Cloth Of Gold——45

Having left the Field of Cloth of Gold for Amboise, his favorite residence, Francis I. discovered that Henry VIII., instead of returning direct to England, had gone, on the 10th of July, to Gravelines, in Flanders, to pay a visit to Charles V., who had afterwards accompanied him to Calais. The two sovereigns had spent three days there, and Charles V., on separating from the King of England, had commissioned him to regulate, as arbiter, all difficulties that might arise between himself and the King of France. Assuredly nothing was less calculated to inspire Francis I. with confidence in the results of his meeting with Henry VIII. and of their mutual courtesies. Though he desired to avoid the appearance of taking the initiative in war, he sought every occasion and pretext for recommencing it; and it was not long before he found them in the Low Countries, in Navarre, and in Italy. A trial was made of Henry VIII.‘s mediation and of a conference at Calais; and a discussion was raised touching the legitimate nature of the protection afforded by the two rival sovereigns to their petty allies. But the real fact was, that Francis I. had a reverse to make up for and a passion to gratify; and the struggle recommenced in April, 1521, in the Low Countries. Charles V., when he heard that the French had crossed his frontier, exclaimed, “God be praised that I am not the first to commence the war, and that the King of France is pleased to make me greater than I am, for, in a little while, either I shall be a very poor emperor or he will be a poor King of France.” The campaign opened in the north, to the advantage of France, by the capture of Hesdin; Admiral Bonnivet, who had the command on the frontier of Spain, reduced some small forts of Biscay and the fortress of Fontarabia; and Marshal de Lautrec, governor of Milaness, had orders to set out at once to go and defend it against the Spaniards and Imperialists, who were concentrating for its invasion.

Lautrec was but little adapted for this important commission. He had been made governor of Milaness in August, 1516, to replace the Constable de Bourbon, whose recall to France the queen-mother, Louise of Savoy, had desired and stimulated. Lautrec had succeeded ill in his government. He was active and brave, but he was harsh, haughty, jealous, imperious, and grasping; and he had embroiled himself with most of the Milanese lords, amongst others with the veteran J. J. Trivulzio, who, under Charles VIII. and Louis XII., had done France such great service in Italy. Trivulzio, offensively treated at Milan, and subjected to accusations at Paris, went, at eighty-two years of age, to France to justify himself before the king; but Francis I. gave him a cold reception, barely spoke to him, and declined his explanations. One day, at Arpajon, Trivulzio heard that the king was to pass on horseback through the town; and, being unable to walk, had himself carried, ill as he was, in his chair to the middle of the street. The king passed with averted head, and without replying to Trivulzio, who cried, “Sir, ah! sir, just one moment’s audience!” Trivulzio, on reaching home, took to his bed, and died there a month afterwards, on the 5th of December, 1518, having himself dictated this epitaph, which was inscribed on his tomb, at Milan, “J. J. Trivulzio, son of Anthony: he who never rested, rests. Hush!” [J. J. Trivultius, Antonii filius, qui nunquam quievit, quiescit. Tace!]

Francis I., when informed that Trivulzio was near his end, regretted, it is said, his harsh indifference, and sent to express to him his regret; but, “It is too late,” answered the dying man. In the king’s harshness there was something more than ungrateful forgetfulness of a veteran’s ancient services. While Francis was bringing about a renewal of war in Italy, in the Low Countries, and on the frontier of Spain, he was abandoning himself at Paris, Tours, Amboise, and wherever he resided, to all the diversions and all the enticements of the brilliant court which was gathered around him. Extravagance and pleasure were a passion with him. “There has been talk,” says Brantome, “of the great outlay, magnificence, sumptuousness and halls of Lucullus; but in nought of that kind did he ever come near our king . . . and what is most rare is, that in a village, in the forest, at the meet, there was the same service as there would have been in Paris. . . . One day, when the king was expecting the Emperor Charles to dinner, word came that he had slipped away, and had gone to give a sudden surprise to the constable, just as he was sitting down to table, and to dine with him and all his comrades comradewise. He found this table as well furnished and supplied, and laden with victuals as well cooked and flavored, as if they had been in Paris or some other good city of France; whereat the emperor was so mightily astonished that he said that there was no such grandeur in the world as that of such a King of France. . . . In respect of ladies, of a surety it must be confessed that before the time of King Francis they set foot in and frequented the court but little and in but small numbers. It is true that Queen Anne (of Brittany) began to make her ladies’ court larger than it had been under former queens; and, without her, the king her husband (Louis XII.) would have taken no trouble about it. But Francis I., coming to reign, and considering that the whole grace of the court was the ladies, was pleased to fill it up with them more than had been the ancient custom. Since, in truth, a court without ladies is a garden without any pretty flowers, and more resembles a Satrap’s or a Turk’s court than that of a great Christian king. . . . As for me, I hold that there was never anything better introduced than the ladies’ court. Full often have I seen our kings go to camp, or town, or elsewhither, remain there and divert themselves for some days, and yet take thither no ladies. But we were so bewildered, so lost, so moped, that for the week we spent away from them and their pretty eyes it appeared to us a year; and always a-wishing, ‘When shall we be at the court?’ Not, full often, calling that the court where the king was, but that where the queen and ladies were.” [OEuvres de Brantome, edition of the Societe de l’Histoire de France, t. iii. pp. 120-129.]

Now, when so many fair ladies are met together in a life of sumptuousness and gayety, a king is pretty sure to find favorites, and royal favorites rarely content themselves with pleasing the king; they desire to make their favor serviceable their family and their friends. Francis I. had made choice one, Frances de Foix, countess of Chateaubriant, beautiful ambitious, dexterous, haughty, readily venturing upon rivalry with even the powerful queen-mother. She had three brothers; Lautrec was one of the three, and she supported him in all his pretensions and all his trials of fortune. When he set out to go and take the command in Italy, he found himself at the head of an army numerous indeed, but badly equipped, badly paid, and at grips with Prosper Colonna, the most able amongst the chiefs of the coalition formed at this juncture between Charles V. and Pope Leo X. against the French. Lautrec did not succeed in preventing Milan from falling into the hands of the Imperialists, and, after an uncertain campaign of some months’ duration, he lost at La Bicocca, near Monza, on the 27th of April, 1522, a battle, which left in the power of Francis I., in Lombardy, only the citadels of Milan, Cremona, and Novara. At the news of these reverses, Francis I. repaired to Lyons, to consult as to the means of applying a remedy. Lautrec also arrived there. “The king,” says Martin du Bellay, “gave him a bad reception, as the man by whose fault he considered he had lost his duchy of Milan, and would not speak to him.” Lautrec found an occasion for addressing the king, and complained vehemently of “the black looks he gave him.” “And good reason,” said the king, “when you have lost me such a heritage as the duchy of Milan.” “‘Twas not I who lost it,” answered Lautrec; “‘twas your Majesty yourself: I several times warned you that, if I were not helped with money, there was no means of retaining the men-at-arms, who had served for eighteen months without a penny, and likewise the Swiss, who forced me to fight at a disadvantage, which they would never have done if they had received their pay.” “I sent you four hundred thousand crowns when you asked for them.” “I received the letters in which your Majesty notified me of this money, but the money never.” The king sent at once for the superintendent-general of finance, James de Beaune, Baron of Semblancay, who acknowledged having received orders on the subject from the king, but added that at the very moment when he was about to send this sum to the army, the queen-mother had come and asked him for it, and had received it from him, whereof he was ready to make oath. Francis I. entered his mother’s room in a rage, reproaching her with having been the cause of losing him his duchy of Milan. “I should never have believed it of you,” he said, “that you would have kept money ordered for the service of my army.” The queen-mother, somewhat confused at first, excused herself by saying, that “those were moneys proceeding from the savings which she had made out of her revenues, and had given to the superintendent to take care of.” Semblancay stuck to what he had said. The question became a personal one between the queen-mother and the minister; and commissioners were appointed to decide the difference. Chancellor Duprat was the docile servant of Louise of Savoy and the enemy of Semblancay, whose authority in financial matters he envied; and he chose the commissioners from amongst the mushroom councillors he had lately brought into Parliament. The question between the queen-mother and the superintendent led to nothing less than the trial of Semblancay. The trial lasted five years, and, on the 9th of April, 1527, a decree of Parliament condemned Semblancay to the punishment of death and confiscation of all his property; not for the particular matter which had been the origin of the quarrel, but “as attained and convicted of larcenies, falsifications, abuses, malversations, and maladministration of the king’s finances, without prejudice as to the debt claimed by the said my lady, the mother of the king.” Semblancay, accordingly, was hanged on the gibbet of Montfaucon, on the 12th of August. In spite of certain ambiguities which arose touching some acts of his administration and some details of his trial, public feeling was generally and very strongly in his favor. He was an old and faithful servant of the crown; and Francis I. had for a long time called him “his father.” He was evidently the victim of the queen-mother’s greed and vengeance. The firmness of his behavior, at the time of his execution, became a popular theme in the verses of Clement Marot:—

When Maillart, officer of hell, escorted
To Montfaucon Semblancay, doomed to die,
Which, to your thinking, of the twain supported
The better havior?  I will make reply:
Maillart was like the man to death proceeding;
And Semblancay so stout an ancient looked,
It seemed, forsooth, as if himself were leading
Lieutenant Maillard—to the gallows booked!

It is said that, at the very moment of execution, Semblancay, waiting on the scaffold for at least a commutation of the penalty, said, “Had I served God as I have served the king, He would not have made me wait so long.” Nearly two centuries later, in 1683, a more celebrated minister than Semblancay, Colbert, in fact, as he was dying tranquilly in his bed, after having for twenty years served Louis XIV., and in that service made the fortune of his family as well as his own, said also, “Had I done for God what I have done for yonder man, I had been twice saved; and now I know not what will become of me.” A striking similarity in language and sentiment, in spite of such different ends, between two great councillors of kings, both devoted during their lives to the affairs of the world, and both passing, at their last hour, this severe judgment, as Christians, upon the masters of the world and upon themselves.

About the same time the government of Francis I. was involved, through his mother’s evil passions, not in an act more morally shameful, but in an event more politically serious, than the execution of Semblancay. There remained in France one puissant prince, the last of the feudal semi-sovereigns, and the head of that only one of the provincial dynasties sprung from the dynasty of the Capetians which still held its own against the kingly house. There were no more Dukes of Burgundy, Dukes of Anjou, Counts of Provence, and Dukes of Brittany; by good fortune or by dexterous management the French kingship had absorbed all those kindred and rival states. Charles II., Duke of Bourbon, alone was invested with such power and independence as could lead to rivalry. He was in possession of Bourbonness, of Auvergne, of Le Forez, of La Marche, of Beaujolais, and a large number of domains and castles in different parts of France. Throughout all these possessions he levied taxes and troops, convoked the local estates, appointed the officers of justice, and regulated almost the whole social organism. He was born on the 10th of February, 1490, four years before Francis I.; he was the head of the younger branch of the Bourbons-Montpensier; and he had married, in 1515, his cousin, Suzanne of Bourbon, only daughter of Peter II., head of the elder branch, and Anne of France, the able and for a long while puissant daughter of Louis XI. Louis XII. had taken great interest in this marriage, and it had been stipulated in the contract “that the pair should make a mutual and general settlement of all their possessions in favor of the survivor.” Thus the young duke, Charles, had united all the possessions of the house of Bourbon; and he held at Moulins a brilliant princely court, of which he was himself the most brilliant ornament. Having been trained from his boyhood in all chivalrous qualities, he was an accomplished knight before becoming a tried warrior; and he no sooner appeared upon the field of battle than he won renown not only as a valiant prince, but as an eminent soldier. In 1509, at the battle of Agnadello, under the eye of Louis XII. himself, he showed that he was a worthy pupil of La Tremoille, of La Palice, and of Bayard; and in 1512, at that of Ravenna, his reputation was already so well established in the army that, when Gaston de Foix was killed, they clamored for Duke Charles of Bourbon, then twenty-two years old, as his successor. Louis XII. gave him full credit for his bravery and his warlike abilities; but the young prince’s unexpansive character, haughty independence, and momentary flashes of audacity, caused the veteran king some disquietude. “I wish,” said he, “he had a more open, more gay, less taciturn spirit; stagnant water affrights me.” In 1516, the year after Louis XII.‘s death, Andrew Trevisani, Venetian ambassador at Milan, wrote to the Venetian council, “This Duke of Bourbon handles a sword most gallantly and successfully; he fears God, he is devout, humane, and very generous; he has a revenue of one hundred and twenty thousand crowns, twenty thousand from his mother-in-law, Anne of France, and two thousand a month as constable of France; and, according to what is said by M. de Longueville, governor of Paris, he might dispose of half the king’s army for any enterprise he pleased, even if the king did not please.”

Scarcely had Francis I. ascended the throne, on the 12th of January, 1515, when he made the Duke of Bourbon’s great position still greater by creating him constable of France. Was it solely to attach to himself the greatest lord and one of the most distinguished soldiers of the kingdom, or had, perhaps, as has already been hinted, the favor of the queen-mother something to do with the duke’s speedy elevation? The whole history of Charles of Bourbon tends to a belief that the feelings of Louise of Savoy towards him, her love or her hate, had great influence upon the decisive incidents of his life. However that may be, the young constable, from the moment of entering upon his office, fully justified the king’s choice.

The Constable de Bourbon——53

He it was who, during the first campaign in Italy, examined in person, with the shepherd who had pointed it out, an unknown passage across the Alps; and, on the 13th and 14th of September, he contributed greatly to the victory of Melegnano. “I can assure you,” wrote Francis I. to his mother, the regent, “that my brother the constable and M. de St. Pol splintered as many lances as any gentlemen of the company whosoever; and I speak of this as one who saw; they spared themselves as little as if they had been wild boars at bay.” On returning to France the king appointed the constable governor of conquered Milaness; and to give him a further mark of favor, “he granted him the noble privilege of founding trades in all the towns of the kingdom. This, when the Parliament enregistered the king’s letters patent, was expressly stated to be in consideration of Bourbon’s extraordinary worth, combined with his quality as a prince of the blood, and not because of his office of constable.” [Histoire de la Maison de Bourbon, by M. Desormeaux, t. ii. p. 437.] The constable showed that he was as capable of governing as of conquering. He foiled all Emperor Maximilian’s attempts to recover Milaness; and, not receiving from the king money for the maintenance and pay of his troops, he himself advanced one hundred thousand livres, opened a loan-account in his own name, raised an army-working-corps of six thousand men to repair the fortifications of Milan, and obtained from the Swiss cantons permission to enlist twelve thousand recruits amongst them. His exercise of authority over the Lombard population was sometimes harsh, but always judicious and efficient. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1516, eight months after the victory of Melegnano and but two months after he had driven Emperor Maximilian from Milaness, the Duke of Bourbon was suddenly recalled, and Marshal de Lautrec was appointed governor in his place. When the constable arrived at Lyons, where the court then happened to be, “the king,” says Fleuranges in his Memoires, “gave him marvellously good welcome;” but kings are too ready to imagine that their gracious words suffice to hide or make up for their acts of real disfavor; and the Duke of Bourbon was too proud to delude himself. If he had any desire to do so, the way in which the king’s government treated him soon revealed to him his real position: the advances he had made and the debts he had contracted for the service of the crown in Milaness, nay, his salary as constable and his personal pensions, were unpaid. Was this the effect of secret wrath on the part of the queen-mother, hurt because he seemed to disdain her good graces, or an act arising may be from mistrust and may be from carelessness on the king’s part, or merely a result of the financial disorder into which the affairs of Francis I. were always falling? These questions cannot be solved with certainty. Anyhow the constable, though thus maltreated, did not cry out; but his royal patroness and mother-in-law, Anne of France, daughter of Louis XI., dowager-duchess of the house of Bourbon, complained of these proceedings to the king’s mother, and uttered the word ingratitude. The dispute between the two princesses grew rancorous; the king intervened to reconcile them; speedy payment was promised of all that was due to the constable, but the promise was not kept. The constable did not consider it seemly to wait about; so he quitted the court and withdrew into his own duchy, to Moulins, not openly disgraced, but resolved to set himself, by his proud independence, above the reach of ill-will, whether on the king’s part or his mother’s.

Moulins was an almost kingly residence. “The dukes,” said the Venetian traveller Andrew Navagero, in 1528, “have built there fortress-wise a magnificent palace, with beautiful gardens, groves, fountains, and all the sumptuous appliances of a prince’s dwelling.” No sooner did the constable go to reside there than numbers of the nobility flocked thither around him. The feudal splendor of this abode was shortly afterwards enhanced by an auspicious domestic incident. In 1517 the Duchess of Bourbon was confined there of a son, a blessing for some time past unhoped for. The delighted constable determined to make of the child’s baptism a great and striking event; and he begged the king to come and be godfather, with the dowager Duchess of Bourbon as godmother. Francis I. consented and repaired to Moulins with his mother and nearly all his court. The constable’s magnificence astonished even the magnificent king “five hundred gentlemen, all clad in velvet, and all wearing a chain of gold going three times round the neck,” were in habitual attendance upon the duke; “the throng of the invited was so great that neither the castle of Moulins nor the town itself sufficed to lodge them; tents had to be pitched in the public places, in the streets, in the park.” Francis I. could not refrain from saying that a King of France would have much difficulty in making such a show; the queen-mother did not hide her jealousy; regal temper came into collision with feudal pride. Admiral Bonnivet, a vassal of the constable and a favorite of the king, was having built, hard by Chatellerault, a castle so vast and so magnificent, “that he seemed,” says Brantome, “to be minded to ride the high horse over the house of M. de Bourbon, in such wise that it should appear only a nest beside his own.” Francis I., during a royal promenade, took the constable one day to see the edifice the admiral was building, and asked him what he thought of it. “I think,” said Bourbon, “that the cage is too big and too fine for the bird.” “Ah!” said the king, “do you not speak with somewhat of envy?” “I!” cried the constable; “I feel envy of a gentleman whose ancestors thought themselves right happy to be squires to mine!” In their casual and familiar conversations the least pretext would lead to sharp words between the Duke of Bourbon and his kingly guest. The king was rallying him one day on the attachment he was suspected of having felt for a lady of the court. “Sir,” said the constable, “what you have just said has no point for me, but a good deal for those who were not so forward as I was in the lady’s good graces.” [At this period princes of the blood, when speaking to the king, said Monsieur; when they wrote to him, they called him Monseigneur.] Francis I., to whom this scarcely veiled allusion referred, was content to reply, “Ah! my dear cousin, you fly out at everything, and you are mighty short-tempered.” The nickname of short-tempered stuck to the constable from that day, and not without reason. With anybody but the king the constable was a good deal more than short-tempered the chancellor, Duprat, who happened to be at Moulins, and who had a wish to become possessed of two estates belonging to the constable, tried to worm himself into his good graces; but Bourbon gave him sternly to understand with what contempt he regarded him, and Duprat, who had hitherto been merely the instrument of Louise of Savoy’s passions, so far as the duke was concerned, became henceforth his personal enemy, and did not wait long for an opportunity of making the full weight of his enmity felt. The king’s visit to Moulins came to an end without any settlement of the debts due from the royal treasury to the constable. Three years afterwards, in 1520, he appeared with not a whit the less magnificence at the Field of Cloth of Gold, where he was one of the two great lords chosen by Francis I. to accompany him at his interview with Henry VIII.; but the constable had to put up with the disagreeableness of having for his associate upon that state occasion Admiral Bonnivet, whom he had but lately treated with so much hauteur, and his relations towards the court were by no means improved by the honor which the king conferred upon him in summoning him to his side that day. Henry VIII., who was struck by this vassal’s haughty bearing and looks, said to Francis I., “If I had a subject like that in my kingdom, I would not leave his head very long on his shoulders.”

More serious causes of resentment came to aggravate a situation already so uncomfortable. The war, which had been a-hatching ever since the imperial election at Frankfort, burst out in 1521, between Francis I. and Charles V. Francis raised four armies in order to face it on all his frontiers, in Guienne, in Burgundy, in Champagne, and in Picardy, “where there was no army,” says Du Bellai, “however small.” None of these great commands was given to the Duke of Bourbon; and when the king summoned him to the army of Picardy, whither he repaired in all haste with six thousand foot and three hundred men-at-arms raised in his own states, the command of the advance-guard, which belonged to him by right of his constableship, was given to the Duke of Alencon, who had nothing to recommend him beyond the fact that he was the husband of Marguerite de Valois and brother-in-law of the king. Bourbon deeply resented this slight; and it was remarked that he frequently quoted with peculiar meaning a reply made by a Gascon gentleman to King Charles VII., who had asked him if anything could shake his fidelity, “Nothing, sir, nothing; not even an offer of three such kingdoms as yours; but an affront might.” The constable did not serve a whit the less valiantly and brilliantly in this campaign of Picardy; he surprised and carried the town of Hesdin, which was defended by a strong garrison; but after the victory he treated with a generosity which was not perhaps free from calculation the imperialist nobility shut up in the castle; he set all his prisoners at large, and paid particular attention to the Countess de Roeux, of the house of Croy, whom he knew to have influence with Charles V. He was certainly not preparing just then to abandon the King of France and go over to the camp of the emperor; but he was sufficiently irritated against Francis I. to gladly seize an opportunity of making new friends on the rival side.

Meanwhile there occurred the event which was to decide his conduct and his destiny. His wife, Suzanne of Bourbon, died at Chatellerault, in April, 1521, after having lost the son whose birth had been celebrated with such brilliancy at Moulins, and having confirmed by her will the settlement upon her husband of all her possessions, which had already been conferred upon him by their marriage contract. From whom came the first idea of the proposal to which this death was ere long to lead? Was it the chancellor, Duprat, who told the mother of Francis I. that the will and the settlement might be disputed at law, and that she would then enter into possession of a great part of what belonged to the House of Bourbon? Was it Louise of Savoy herself who conceived the hope of satisfying at one and the same time her cupidity and the passion she felt for the constable, by having an offer made to him of her hand, with the retention secured to him of those great possessions which, otherwise, would be disputed, and which a decree of Parliament might take away from him? Between these two explanations of what occurred at that time, there is no certain choice afforded by historical documents; but the more reasonable conviction is, that the passion of Louise of Savoy was the first and the decisive cause of the proposal made to the constable. He was then thirty years old; Louise of Savoy was forty-five, but she was still beautiful, attractive, and puissant; she had given the constable unmistakable proofs of her inclination for him and of the influence which his inclinations exercised over her: she might well flatter herself that he would be attracted by the prospect of becoming the king’s step-father and almost a sharer in the kingly power, whilst retaining that of the great feudal lord. The chancellor, Duprat, full of ability and servility, put all his knowledge, all his subtlety in argument, and all his influence in the Parliament at the disposal of Madame Louise, who, as a nearer relative than the constable, claimed the possessions left by his wife, Suzanne of Bourbon. Francis I., in the name of the crown, and in respect of the constable’s other possessions, joined his claims to those of his mother. Thus the lawsuit with which the duke was threatened affected him in every part of his fortune. It was in vain that more or less direct overtures, on behalf of Madame Louise and of the king himself, were made to induce him to accept the bargain offered: his refusal was expressed and given with an open contempt that verged upon coarseness. “I will never,” said he, “marry a woman devoid of modesty.”

The lawsuit was begun and prosecuted with all the hatred of a great lady treated with contempt, and with all the knowingness of an unscrupulous lawyer eager to serve, in point of fact, his patroness, and to demonstrate, in point of law, the thesis he had advanced. Francis I., volatile, reckless, and ever helpless as he was against the passions of his mother, who whilst she adored, beguiled him, readily lent himself to the humiliation of a vassal who was almost his rival in puissance, and certainly was in glory. Three lawyers of renown entered upon the struggle. Poyet maintained the pretensions of the queen-mother; Lizet developed Duprat’s argument in favor of the king’s claims; Montholon defended the constable. The Parliament granted several adjournments, and the question was in suspense for eleven months. At last, in August, 1523, the court interest was triumphant; Parliament, to get rid of direct responsibility, referred the parties, as to the basis of the question, to the king’s council; but it placed all the constable’s possessions under sequestration, withdrawing the enjoyment of them wholly from him. A few years afterwards Poyet became chancellor, and Lizet premier-president of Parliament. “Worth alone,” say the historians, “carved out for Montholon at a later period the road to the office of keeper of the seals.”

The constable’s fall and ruin were complete. He at an early stage had a presentiment that such would be the issue of his lawsuit, and sought for safeguards away from France. The affair was causing great stir in Europe. Was it, however, Charles V. who made the first overtures as the most efficient supporter the constable could have? Or was it the constable himself who, profiting by the relations he had established after the capture of Hesdin with the Croys, persons of influence with the emperor, made use of them for getting into direct communication with Charles V., and made offer of his services in exchange for protection against his own king and his own country? In such circumstances and in the case of such men the sources of crime are always surrounded with obscurity. One is inclined to believe that Charles V., vigilant and active as he was, put out the first feelers. As soon as he heard that Bourbon was a widower, he gave instructions to Philibert Naturelli, his ambassador in France, who said, “Sir, you are now in a position to marry, and the emperor, my master, who is very fond of you, has a sister touching whom I have orders to speak to you if you will be pleased to hearken.” It was to Charles V.‘s eldest sister, Eleanor, widow of Manuel the Fortunate, King of Portugal, that allusion was made. This overture led to nothing at the time; but the next year, in 1522, war was declared between Francis I. and Charles V.; the rupture between Francis I. and the Duke of Bourbon took place; the Bourbon lawsuit was begun; and the duke’s mother-in-law, Anne of France, daughter of Louis XI., more concerned for the fate of her House than for that of her country, and feeling herself near her end, said one day to her son-in-law, “My son, reflect that the House of Bourbon made alliance with the House of Burgundy, and that during that alliance it always prospered. You see at the present moment what is the state of our affairs, and the lawsuit in which you are involved is proceeded with only for want of alliances. I do beg and command you to accept the emperor’s alliance. Promise me to use thereto all the diligence you can, and I shall die more easy.” She died on the 14th of November, 1522, bequeathing all her possessions to the constable, who was day by day more disposed to follow her counsels. In the summer of 1522, he had, through the agency of Adrian de Croy, Lord of Beaurain, entered into negotiations not only with Charles V., but also with Henry VIII., King of England, deploring the ill behavior of Francis I. and the enormity of existing abuses, and proposing to set on foot in his own possessions a powerful movement for the reformation of the kingdom and the relief of the poor people, if the two sovereigns would send “persons of trust and authority into the vicinity of his principality of Dombes, to Bourg-en-Bresse, whither he on his side would send his chancellor to come to an agreement with them and act in common.” In the month of March, 1523, whilst the foreign negotiations thus commenced and the home-process against the constable were pursuing a parallel course, Bourbon one day paid a visit to Queen Claude of France at the hour when she was dining alone. She was favorably disposed towards him, and would have liked to get him married to her sister Renee, who subsequently became Duchess of Ferrara. She made him sit down. Francis I., who was at dinner in an adjacent room, came in. Bourbon rose to take leave. “Nay, keep your seat,” said the king; “and so it is true that you are going to be married?” “Not at all, sir.” “O, but I know it; I am sure of it; I know of your dealings with the emperor. And bear well in mind what I have to say to you on the subject.” “Sir! is this a threat, pray? I have not deserved such treatment.” After dinner he departed and went back to his hotel hard by the Louvre; and many gentlemen who happened to be at court accompanied him by way of escort. He was as yet a powerful vassal, who was considered to be unjustly persecuted.

Charles V. accepted eagerly the overtures made to him by Bourbon in response to his own; but, before engaging in action, he wished to be certified about the disposition of Henry VIII., King of England, and he sent Beaurain to England to take accurate soundings. Henry at first showed hesitation. When, Beaurain set before him all the advantages that would accrue to their coalition from the Duke of Bourbon’s alliance: “And I,” said the king, brusquely, “what, pray, shall I get?” “Sir,” answered Beaurain, “you will be King of France.” “Ah!” rejoined Henry, “it will take a great deal to make M. de Bourbon obey me.” Henry remembered the cold and proud bearing which the constable had maintained towards him at the Field of Cloth of Gold. He, nevertheless, engaged to supply half the expenses and a body of troops for the projected invasion of France. Charles V. immediately despatched Beaurain to the Duke of Bourbon, who had removed to Montbrison, in the most mountainous part of his domains, on pretext of a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame du Puy. Beaurain was conducted thither, in great secrecy, on the 17th July, 1523, by two of the duke’s gentlemen, and passed two days there shut up in a room adjoining the constable’s apartment, never emerging save at night to transact business with him. On the 18th of July, in the evening, he put into Bourbon’s hands his letters of credit, running thus: “My dear cousin, I send to you Sieur de Beaurain, my second chamberlain. I pray you to consider him as myself, and, so doing, you will find me ever your good cousin and friend.” The negotiation was speedy. Many historians have said that it was confined to verbal conventions, and that there was nothing in writing between the two contracting parties. That is a mistake. A treaty was drawn up in brief terms by Beaurain’s secretary, and two copies were made, of which one was to be taken to Charles V. and the other to be left with the Duke of Bourbon. It stipulated the mutual obligations of the three contracting parties in their offensive and defensive league. Bourbon engaged to attack Francis I. but he would not promise to acknowledge Henry VIII. as King of France. “I am quite willing to be his ally,” he said, “but his subject, his vassal, no! All I can do is to leave myself, as to my relations towards him, in the emperor’s hands.” A strange and noble relic of patriotism in that violent and haughty soul, more concerned for its rights than its duties, and driven to extremity by the acts of ungrateful and unthoughtful injustice, to which the great lord and the valiant warrior had been subjected. The treaty having been signed with this reservation, Bourbon sent, about midnight, for Saint-Bonnet, Lord of Branon, whom he intended to despatch to Charles V., and, after having sworn him, “I send you,” said he, “to the emperor, to whom you will say that I commend myself humbly to his good graces, that I beg him to give me his sister in marriage, and that, doing me this honor, he will find me his servant, his good brother, and friend.”

The fatal step was taken. Bourbon was now engaged in revolt against his king and his country, as well as in falsehood and treason—preliminary conditions of such a course. He needed tools and accomplices; and though he had a numerous and devoted following, he could not feel sure of them all for such a purpose. The very day after the conclusion of his treaty with Charles V., one of his most intimate and important confidants, John of Poitiers, Lord of St. Vallier, who was present at Montbrison during the negotiation of the treaty, said to him in the morning, “Sir, it was your wish; I heard all; and I spent the whole night thinking about it; tell me, I pray you, do you feel sure of your friend?” “I was not more fond of the brother I lost at Melegnano,” said the constable; “I should not have felt more sure of him.” “Well, then,” rejoined St. Vallier, “fancy that it is that brother who is speaking to you, and take in good part what he is about to say to you. This alliance which is offered to you will bring upon France the Germans, the Spaniards, and the English; think of the great mischief which will ensue—human bloodshed, destruction of towns, of good families and of churches, violation of women, and other calamities that come of war. Reflect also on the great treason you are committing; when the king has started for Italy and left you in France, putting his trust in you, you will go and stab him in the back, and destroy him as well as his kingdom. You belong to the House of France, and are one of the chief princes of the country, so beloved and esteemed by all that everybody is gladdened at the very sight of you. If you should come to be the cause of so great ruin, you will be the most accursed creature that ever was, accursed for a thousand years after your death. For the love of God consider all this; and if you have no regard for the king and Madame his mother, who, you say, are treating you wrongfully, at least have some regard for the queen and the princes her children, and do not wilfully cause the perdition of this kingdom, whose enemies, when you have let them into it, will drive you out of it yourself.” “But, cousin,” said the constable, quite overcome, “what would you have me to do? The king and Madame mean to destroy me; they have already taken away a part of my possessions.” “Sir,” replied Saint-Vallier, “give up, I pray you, all these wicked enterprises; commend yourself to God, and speak frankly to the king.” If we are to believe Saint-Vallier’s deposition, when, six months afterwards, he was put on his trial and convicted for his participation in the plot and treason, the constable was sufficiently affected by his representations to promise that he would abandon his design and make his peace with the king: but facts refute this assertion. In the latter months of 1523, the stipulations of the treaty concluded at Montbrison on the 18th of July were put into execution by all the contracting parties; letters of exchange from Henry VIII. were sent to Bale for the German lanzknechts he was to pay; the lanzknechts crossed the Rhine on the 26th of August, and marched through Franche-Comte in spite of its neutrality; the English landed at Calais between the 23d and 30th of August, to co-operate with the Flemings; the Spaniards began the campaign, on the 6th of September, in the direction of the Pyrenees; and the Duke, of Bourbon on his side took all the necessary measures for forming a junction with his allies, and playing that part in the coalition which had been assigned to him.

According to what appears, he had harbored a design of commencing his enterprise with a very bold stroke. Being informed that Francis I. was preparing to go in person and wage war upon Italy, he had resolved to carry him off on the road to Lyons, and, when once he had the king in his hands, he flattered himself he would do as he pleased with the kingdom. If his attempt were unsuccessful, be would bide his time until Francis I. was engaged in Milaness, Charles V. had entered Guienne, and Henry VIII. was in Picardy: he would then assemble a thousand men-at-arms, six thousand foot and twelve thousand lanzknechts, and would make for the Alps to cut the king off from any communication with France. This plan rested upon the assumption that the king would, as he had announced, leave the constable in France with an honorable title and an apparent share in the government of the kingdom, though really isolated and debarred from action. But Francis had full cognizance of the details of the conspiracy through two Norman gentlemen whom the constable had imprudently tried to get to join in it, and who, not content with refusing, had revealed the matter at confession to the Bishop of Lisieux, who had lost no time in giving information to Sire de Breze, grand seneschal of Normandy. Breze at once reported it to the king, and his letter ran: “Sir, there is need also to take care of yourself, for there has been talk of an attempt to carry you off between here and Lyons, and conduct you to a strong place in the Bourbon district or on the borders of Auvergne.” Being at last seriously disquieted for the consequences of his behavior towards the constable, Francis took two resolutions: one was, not to leave him in France during his own absence; the other was, to go and see him at Moulins, at the same time taking all necessary precautions for his own safety, and win him over once more by announcing an intention of taking him off to Italy and sharing with him the command of the army. On approaching Moulins the king recalled the lanzknechts who had already passed the town, entered it himself surrounded by his guards, and took up his quarters in the castle, of which he seized the keys. At his first interview with the constable, who was slightly indisposed and pretended to be very much so, “I know,” said he, “that you are keeping up a connection with the emperor, and that he is trying to turn your discontent to advantage, so as to beguile you; but I have faith in you; you are of the House of France and of the line of Bourbon, which has never produced a traitor.” “It is true, sir,” said the constable, without any confusion; “the emperor, informed by public rumor of the position to which I am reduced, sent Beaurain to offer me an asylum in his dominions and a fortune suitable to my birth and my rank; but I know the value of empty compliments. Hearing that your Majesty was to pass by Moulins, I thought it my duty to wait and disclose this secret to you myself rather than intrust it to a letter.” The king showed signs of being touched. “I have an idea of taking you away with me to Italy,” said he: “would you come with me willingly?” “Not only to Italy,” was the answer, “but to the end of the world. The doctors assure me that I shall soon be in a condition to bear the motion of a litter; I already feel better; your Majesty’s kindnesses will soon complete my cure.” Francis testified his satisfaction. Some of his advisers, with more distrust and more prevision, pressed him to order the arrest of so dangerous a man, notwithstanding his protestations; but Francis refused. According to what some historians say, if he had taken off the sequestration laid upon the constable’s possessions, actually restored them to him, as well as discharged the debts due to him and paid his pensions, and carried him off to Italy, if, in a word, he had shown a bold confidence and given back to him at once and forever the whole of his position, he would, perhaps, have weaned him from his plot, and would have won back to himself and to France that brave and powerful servant. But Francis wavered between distrust and hope; he confined himself to promising the constable restitution of his possessions if the decree of Parliament was unfavorable to him; he demanded of him a written engagement to remain always faithful to him and to join him in Italy as soon as his illness would allow him; and, on taking leave of him, left with him one of his own gentlemen, Peter de Brentonniere, Lord of Warthy, with orders to report to the king as to his health. In this officer Bourbon saw nothing more or less than a spy, and in the king’s promises nothing but vain words dependent as they were upon the issue of a lawsuit which still remained an incubus upon him. He had no answer for words but words; he undertook the engagements demanded of him by the king without considering them binding; and he remained ill at Moulins, waiting till events should summon him to take action with his foreign allies.

This state of things lasted far nearly three weeks. The king remained stationary at Lyons waiting for the constable to join him; and the constable, saying he was ready to set out and going so far as to actually begin his march, was doing his three leagues a day by litter, being always worse one day than he was the day before. Peter de Warthy, the officer whom the king had left with him, kept going and coming from Lyons to Moulins and from Moulins to Lyons, conveying to the constable the king’s complaints and to the king the constable’s excuses, without bringing the constable to decide upon joining the king at Lyons and accompanying him into Italy, or the king upon setting out for Italy without the constable. “I would give a hundred thousand crowns,” the king sent word to Bourbon, “to be in Lombardy.” “The king will do well,” answered Bourbon, “to get there as soon as possible, for despatch is needful beyond everything.” When Warthy insisted strongly, the constable had him called up to his bedside; and “I feel myself,” said he, “the most unlucky man in the world not to be able to serve the king; but if I were to be obstinate, the doctors who are attending me would not answer for my life, and I am even worse than the doctors think. I shall never be in a condition to do the king service any more. I am going back to my native air, and, if I recover a day’s health, I will go to the king.” “The king will be terribly put out,” said Warthy; and he returned to Lyons to report these remarks of the real or pretended invalid. While he was away, the constable received from England and Spain news which made him enter actively upon his preparations; he heard at the same time that the king was having troops marched towards Bourbonness so as to lay violent hands on him if he did not obey; he, therefore, decided to go and place himself in security in his strong castle of Chantelle, where he could await the movements of his allies; he mounted his horse, did six leagues at one stretch, and did not draw bridle until he had entered Chantelle. Warthy speedily came and rejoined him. He found the constable sitting on his bed, dressed like an invalid and with his head enveloped in a night-cap. “M. de Warthy,” said Bourbon, “you bring your spurs pretty close after mine.” “My lord,” was the reply, “you have better ones than I thought.” “Think you,” said Bourbon, “that I did not well, having but a finger’s breadth of life, to put it as far out of the way as I could to avoid the king’s fury?” “The king,” said Warthy, “was never furious towards any man; far less would he be so in your case.” “Nay, nay,” rejoined the constable, “I know that the grand master and Marshal de Chabannes set out from Lyons with the archers of the guard and four or five thousand lanzknechts to seize me; and that is what made me come to this house whilst biding my time until the king shall be pleased to hear me.” He demanded that the troops sent against him should be ordered to halt till the morrow, promising not to stir from Chantelle without a vindication of himself. “Whither would you go, my lord?” said Warthy: “if you wished to leave the kingdom, you could not; the king has provided against that everywhere.”

“Nay,” said Bourbon, “I have no wish to leave the kingdom; I have friends and servants there.” Warthy went away from Chantelle in company with the Bishop of Autun, Chiverny, who was one of the constable’s most trusted friends, and who was bearer to the king of a letter which ran thus: “Provided it please the king to restore to him his possessions, my lord of Bourbon promises to serve him well and heartily, in all places and at all times at which it shall seem good to him. In witness whereof, he has signed these presents, and begs the king to be pleased to pardon those towards whom he is ill disposed on account of this business. CHARLES.” In writing this letter the constable had no other object than to gain a little time, for, on bidding good by to the Bishop of Autun, he said to him, “Farewell, my dear bishop; I am off to Carlat, and from Carlat I shall slip away with five or six horses on my road to Spain.” On the next day but one, indeed, the 8th of September, 1523, whilst the Bishop of Autun was kept prisoner by the troops sent forward to Chantelle, the constable sallied from it about one in the morning, taking with him five-and-twenty or thirty thousand crowns of gold sewn up in from twelve to fifteen jackets, each of which was intrusted to a man in his train. For a month he wandered about Bourbonness, Auvergne, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Vienness, Languedoc, and Dauphiny, incessantly changing his road, his comrades, his costume, and his asylum, occasionally falling in with soldiers of the king who were repairing to Italy, and seeking for some place whence he might safely concert with and act with his allies. At last, in the beginning of October, he arrived at Saint-Claude, in Franche-Comte, imperial territory, and on the 9th of October he made his entry into Besancon, where there came to join him some of his partisans who from necessity or accident had got separated from him, without his having been able anywhere in his progress to excite any popular movement, form any collection of troops, or intrench himself strongly in his own states. To judge from appearances, he was now but a fugitive conspirator, without domains and without an army.

Such, however, were his fame and importance as a great lord and great warrior, that Francis I., as soon as he knew him to be beyond his reach and in a fair way to co-operate actively with his enemies, put off his departure for Italy, and “offered the redoubtable fugitive immediate restitution of his possessions, reimbursement from the royal treasury of what was due to him, renewal of his pensions and security that they would be paid him with punctuality.” Bourbon refused everything. “It is too late,” he replied. Francis I.‘s envoy then asked him to give up the sword of constable and the collar of the order of St. Michael. “You will tell the king,” rejoined Bourbon, “that he took from me the sword of constable on the day that he took from me the command of the advance-guard to give it to M. d’Alencon. As for the collar of his order, you will find it at Chantelle under the pillow of my bed.” Francis I., in order to win back Bourbon, had recourse to his sister, the Duchess of Lorraine [Renee de Bourbon, who had married, in 1515, Antony, called the Good, Duke of Lorraine, son of Duke Rend II. and his second wife, Philippine of Gueldres]: but she was not more successful. After sounding him, she wrote to Francis I. that the duke her brother “was determined to go through with his enterprise, and that he proposed to draw off towards Flanders by way of Lorraine with eighteen hundred horse and ten thousand foot, and form a junction with the King of England.” [M. Mignet, Etude sur le Connetable de Bourbon, in the Revue des Deux Mondes of January 15, 1854, and March 15 and April 1, 1858.]

Under such grave and urgent circumstances, Francis I. behaved on the one hand with more prudence and efficiency than he had yet displayed, and on the other with his usual levity and indulgence towards his favorites. Abandoning his expedition in person into Italy, he first concerned himself for that internal security of his kingdom, which was threatened on the east and north by the Imperialists and the English, and on the south by the Spaniards, all united in considerable force and already in motion. Francis opposed to them in the east and north the young Count Claude of Guise, the first celebrity amongst his celebrated race, the veteran Louis de La Tremoille, the most tried of all his warriors, and the Duke of Vendome, head of the younger branch of the House of Bourbon. Into the south he sent Marshal de Lautrec, who was more brave than successful, but of proved fidelity. All these captains acquitted themselves honorably. Claude of Guise defeated a body of twelve thousand lanzknechts who had already penetrated into Champagne; he hurled them back into Lorraine, and dispersed them beneath the walls of the little town of Neufchateau, where the princesses and ladies of Lorraine, showing themselves at the windows, looked on and applauded their discomfiture. La Tremoille’s only forces were very inferior to the thirty-five thousand Imperialists or English who had entered Picardy; but he managed to make of his small garrisons such prompt and skilful use that the invaders were unable to get hold of a single place, and advanced somewhat heedlessly to the very banks of the Oise, whence the alarm spread rapidly to Paris. The Duke of Vendome, whom the king at once despatched thither with a small body of men-at-arms, marched night and day to the assistance of the Parisians, harangued the Parliament and Hotel de Ville vehemently on the conspiracy of the Constable de Bourbon, and succeeded so well in reassuring them that companies of the city militia eagerly joined his troops, and the foreigners, in dread of finding themselves hemmed in, judged it prudent to fall back, leaving Picardy in a state of equal irritation and devastation. In the south, Lautrec, after having made head for three days and three nights against the attacks of a Spanish army which had crossed the Pyrenees under the orders of the Constable of Castille, forced it to raise the siege and beat a retreat. Everywhere, in the provinces as well as at the court, the feudal nobility, chieftains and simple gentlemen, remained faithful to the king; the magistrates and the people supported the military; it was the whole nation that rose against the great lord, who, for his own purposes, was making alliance with foreigners against the king and the country.

In respect of Italy, Francis I. was less wise and less successful. Not only did he persist in the stereotyped madness of the conquest of Milaness and the kingdom of Naples, but abandoning for the moment the prosecution of it in person, he intrusted it to his favorite, Admiral Bonnivet, a brave soldier, alternately rash and backward, presumptuous and irresolute, who had already lost credit by the mistakes he had committed and the reverses he had experienced in that arena. At the very juncture when Francis I. confided this difficult charge to Bonnivet, the Constable de Bourbon, having at last got out of France, crossed Germany, repaired to Italy, and halted at Mantua, Piacenza, and Genoa; and, whilst waiting for a reply from Charles V., whom he had informed of his arrival, he associated with the leaders of the imperial armies, lived amongst the troops, inoculated them with his own ardor as well as warlike views, and by his natural superiority regained, amongst the European coalition, the consideration and authority which had been somewhat diminished by his ill-success in his own country and his flight from it. Charles V. was some time about sending an answer; for, in his eyes also, Bourbon had fallen somewhat. “Was it prudent,” says the historian of Bourbon himself, “to trust a prince who, though born near the throne, had betrayed his own blood and forsworn his own country? Charles V. might no doubt have insured his fidelity, had he given him in marriage Eleanor of Austria, who was already affianced to him; but he could not make up his mind to unite the destiny of a princess, his own sister, with that of a prince whose position was equally pitiable and criminal. At last, however, he decided to name him his lieutenant-general in Italy; but he surrounded him with so many colleagues and so much surveillance that he had nothing to fear from his remorse and repentance.” [Histoire de la Maison de Bourbon, t. ii. p. 531.] Bourbon, however, though thus placed in a position of perplexity and difficulty, was none the less an adversary with whom Bonnivet was not in a condition to cope.

It was not long before this was proved by facts. The campaign of 1524 in Italy, brilliant as was its beginning, what with the number and the fine appearance of the troops under Bonnivet’s orders, was, as it went on, nothing but a series of hesitations, contradictory movements, blunders, and checks, which the army itself set down to its general’s account. Bonnivet, during his investment of Milan, had posted Bayard with a small corps in the village of Rebec. “The good knight, who was never wont to murmur at any commission given him, said, ‘Sir Admiral, you would send me to a village hard by the enemy, the which is without any fortress, and would need four times so many men as I have, for to be in safety and to hold it.’ ‘Sir Bayard,’ said the admiral, ‘go in peace; on my faith I promise you that within three days I will send you plenty of men with you for to hold Rebec, since I well know that it is not to be held with so few men; but never you mind; there shall not a mouse get out of Milan without you have notice of it.’ And so much did he say of one sort and another that the good knight, with great disgust, went away with the men told off to him to his post in Rebec. He wrote many times to the admiral that he was in very dangerous plight, and that, if he would have them hold out long, he should send him aid; but he got no answer. The enemies who were inside Milan were warned that the good knight was in Rebec with very little company; so they decided on a night to go and surprise and defeat him. And the good knight, who was ever on his guard, set nearly every night half his men to watch and to listen, and himself passed two or three nights at it, in such sort that he fell ill, as much from melancholy as from cold, and far more than he let it appear; howbeit he was forced to keep his room that day. When it came on towards night, he ordered some captains who were with him to go on the watch. They went, or made show of going; but, because it rained a little, back went all those who were on the watch, save three or four poor archers, the which, when the Spaniards approached within bow-shot of the village, made no resistance, but took to flight, shouting, ‘Alarm alarm!’ The good knight, who in such jeopardy never slept but with his clothes on, rose at once, had the bridle put on a charger that was already saddled, and went off with five or six men-at-arms of his, straight to the barrier whither incontinently came up Captain Lorges and a certain number of his foot, who bore themselves mighty well. The uproar was great and the alarm was hot. Then said the good knight to Captain Lorges, ‘Lorges, my friend, this is an unequal sort of game; if they pass this barrier we are cooked. I pray you, retire your men, keep the best order you can, and march straight to the camp at Abbiate-Grasso; I, with the horse I have, will remain in the rear. We must leave our baggage to the enemy; there is no help for it. Save we the lives if possible.’ . . . The enemy sought on all sides for the good knight, but he had already arrived at Abbiate-Grasso, where he had some unpleasant words with the admiral; howbeit, I will not make any mention of them; but if they had both lived longer than they did live, they would probably have gone a little farther. The good knight was like to die of grief at the mishap that had befallen him, even though it was not his fault; but in war there is hap and mishap more than in all other things.” [Histoire du bon Chevalier sans Peur et sans Reproche, t. ii. pp. 120-123. Les Gestes et la Vie du Chevalier Bayard, by Champier, pp. 171-174.]

The situation of the French army before Milan was now becoming more and more, not insecure only, but critical. Bonnivet considered it his duty to abandon it and fall back towards Piedmont, where he reckoned upon finding a corps of five thousand Swiss who were coming to support their compatriots engaged in the service of France. Near Romagnano, on the banks of the Sesia, the retreat was hotly pressed by the imperial army, the command of which had been ultimately given by Charles V. to the Constable de Bourbon, with whom were associated the Viceroy of Naples, Charles de Lannoy, and Ferdinand d’Avalos, Marquis of Pescara, the most able amongst the Neapolitan officers. On the 30th of April, 1524, some disorder took place in the retreat of the French; and Bonnivet, being severely wounded, had to give up the command to the Count of St. Pol and to Chevalier Bayard. Bayard, last as well as first in the fight, according to his custom, charged at the head of some men-at-arms upon the Imperialists, who were pressing the French too closely, when he was himself struck by a shot from an arquebuse, which shattered his reins. “Jesus, my God,” he cried, “I am dead!” He then took his sword by the handle, and kissed the cross-hilt of it as the sign of the cross, saying aloud as he did so, “Have pity on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy” (Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam); thereupon he became incontinently quite pale, and all but fell; but he still had heart enough to grasp the pommel of the saddle, and remained in that condition until a young gentleman, his own house-steward, helped him to dismount and set him down under a tree, with his face to the enemy. The poor gentleman burst into tears, seeing his good master so mortally hurt that remedy there was none; but the good knight consoled him gently, saying, “Jacques, my friend, leave off thy mourning; it is God’s will to take me out of this world; by His grace I have lived long therein, and have received therein blessings and honors more than my due. All the regret I feel at dying is that I have not done my duty so well as I ought. I pray you, Jacques, my friend, let them not take me up from this spot, for, when I move, I feel all the pains that one can feel, short of death, which will seize me soon.” The Constable de Bourbon, being informed of his wound, came to him, saying, “Bayard, my friend, I am sore distressed at your mishap; there is nothing for it but patience; give not way to melancholy; I will send in quest of the best surgeons in this country, and, by God’s help, you will soon be healed.” “My lord,” answered Bayard, “there is no pity for me; I die having done my duty; but I have pity for you, to see you serving against your king, your country, and your oath.” Bourbon withdrew without a word. The Marquis of Pescara came passing by. “Would to God, gentle Sir Bayard,” said he, “that it had cost me a quart of my blood, without meeting my death, that I had been doomed not to taste meat for two years, and that I held you safe and sound my prisoner, for by the treatment I showed you, you should have understanding of how much I esteemed the high prowess that was in you.” He ordered his people to rig up a tent over Bayard, and to forbid any noise near him, so that he might die in peace. Bayard’s own gentlemen would not, at any price, leave him. “I do beseech you,” he said to them, “to get you gone; else you might fall into the enemy’s hands, and that would profit me nothing, for all is over with me. To God I commend ye, my good friends; and I recommend to you my poor soul; and salute, I pray you, the king our master, and tell him that I am distressed at being no longer able to do him service, for I had good will thereto. And to my lords the princes of France, and all my lords my comrades, and generally to all gentlemen of the most honored realm of France when ye see them.”

The Death of Bayard——76

“He lived for two or three hours yet. There was brought to him a priest, to whom he confessed, and then he yielded up his soul to God; whereat all the enemy had mourning incredible. Five days after his death, on the 5th of May, 1524, Beaurain wrote to Charles V., ‘Sir, albeit Sir Bayard was your enemy’s servant, yet was it pity of his death, for ‘twas a gentle knight, well beloved of every one, and one that lived as good a life as ever any man of his condition. And in truth he fully showed it by his end, for it was the most beautiful that I ever heard tell of.’ By the chiefs of the Spanish army certain gentlemen were commissioned to bear him to the church, where solemn service was done for him during two days. Then, by his own servitors was he carried into Dauphiny, and, on passing through the territory of the Duke of Savoy, where the body was rested, he did it as many honors as if it had been his own brother’s. When the news of his death was known in Dauphiny, I trow that never for a thousand years died there gentleman of the country mourned in such sort. He was borne from church to church, at first near Grenoble, where all my lords of the parliament court of Dauphiny, my lords of the Exchequer, pretty well all the nobles of the country and the greater part of all the burgesses, townsfolk, and villagers came half a league to meet the body: then into the church of Notre-Dame, in the aforesaid Grenoble, where a solemn service was done for him; then to a house of Minimes, which had been founded aforetime by his good uncle the bishop of Grenoble, Laurens Alment; and there he was honorably interred. Then every one withdrew to his own house; but for a month there was a stop put to festivals dances, banquets, and all other pastimes. ‘Las! they had good reason; for greater loss could not have come upon the country.” [Histoire du bon Chevalier sans Peur et sans Reproche, t. ii. pp. 125-132.]

It is a duty and an honor for history to give to such lives and such deaths, as remarkable for modesty as for manly worth, the full place which they ought to occupy in the memory of mankind.

The French army continued its retreat under the orders of the Count of St. Pol, and re-entered France by way of Suza and Briancon. It was Francis I.‘s third time of losing Milaness. Charles V., enchanted at the news, wrote on the 24th of May to Henry VIII., “I keep you advertised of the good opportunity it has pleased God to offer us of giving a full account of our common enemy. I pray you to carry into effect on your side that which you and I have for a long while desired, wherein I for my part will exert myself with all my might.” Bourbon proposed to the two sovereigns a plan well calculated to allure them. He made them an offer to enter France by way of Provence with his victorious army, to concentrate there all the re-enforcements promised him, to advance up the Rhone, making himself master as he went of the only two strong places, Monaco and Marseilles, he would have to encounter, to march on Lyons from the side on which that city was defenceless, and be in four months at Paris, whether or no he had a great battle to deliver on the march. “If the king wishes to enter France without delay,” said he to Henry VIII.‘s ambassador, “I give his Grace leave to pluck out my two-eyes if I am not master of Paris before All Saints. Paris taken, all the kingdom of France is in my power. Paris in France is like Milan in Lombardy; if Milan is taken, the duchy is lost; in the same way, Paris taken, the whole of France is lost.” By this plan Bourbon calculated on arriving victorious at the centre of France, in his own domains, and there obtaining, from both nobles and people, the co-operation that had failed him at the outset of his enterprise. The two sovereigns were eager to close with the proposal of the Frenchman, who was for thus handing over to them his country; a new treaty was concluded between them on the 25th of May, 1524, regulating the conditions and means of carrying out this grand campaign; and it was further agreed that Provence and Dauphiny should be added to the constable’s old possessions, and should form a state, which Charles V. promised to raise to a kingdom. There was yet a difficulty looming ahead. Bourbon still hesitated to formally acknowledge Henry VIII. as King of France, and promise him allegiance. But at last his resistance was overcome. At the moment of crossing the frontier into France, and after having taken the communion, he said to the English ambassador, Sir Richard Pace, in the presence of four of his gentlemen, “I promise you, on my faith, to place the crown, with the help of my friends, on the head of our common master.” But, employing a ruse of the old feudal times, the last gasp of a troubled conscience, Bourbon, whilst promising allegiance to Henry VIII., persisted in refusing to do him homage. Sir Richard Pace none the less regarded the question as decided; and, whilst urging Cardinal Wolsey to act swiftly and resolutely in the interests of their master, he added, “If you do not pay regard to these matters, I shall set down to your Grace’s account the loss of the crown of France.”

Bourbon entered Provence on the 7th of July, 1524, with an army of eighteen thousand men, which was to be joined before long by six or seven thousand more. He had no difficulty in occupying Antibes, Frejus, Draguignan, Brignoles, and even Aix; and he already began to assume the title of Count of Provence, whilst preparing for a rapid march along by the Rhone and a rush upon Lyons, the chief aim of the campaign; but the Spanish generals whom Charles V. had associated with him, and amongst others the most eminent of them, the Marquis of Pescara, peremptorily insisted that, according to their master’s order, he should besiege and take Marseilles. Charles V. cared more for the coasts of the Mediterranean than for those of the Channel; he flattered himself that he would make of Marseilles a southern Calais, which should connect Germany with Spain, and secure their communications, political and commercial. Bourbon objected and resisted; it was the abandonment of his general plan for this war and a painful proof how powerless he was against the wishes of the two sovereigns, of whom he was only the tool, although they called him their ally. Being forced to yield, he began the siege of Marseilles on the 19th of August. The place, though but slightly fortified and ill supplied, made an energetic resistance; the name and the presence of Bourbon at the head of the besiegers excited patriotism; the burgesses turned soldiers; the cannon of the besiegers laid open their walls, but they threw up a second line, an earthen rampart, called the ladies’ rampart, because all the women in the city had worked at it. The siege was protracted; the re-enforcements expected by Bourbon did not arrive; a shot from Marseilles penetrated into Pescara’s tent, and killed his almoner and two of his gentlemen. Bourbon rushed up. “Don’t you see?” said Pescara to him, ironically, “here are the keys sent to you by the timid consuls of Marseilles.” Bourbon resolved to attempt an assault; the lanzknechts and the Italians refused; Bourbon asked Pescara for his Spaniards, but Pescara would only consent on condition that the breach was reconnoitered afresh. Seven soldiers were told off for this duty; four were killed and the other three returned wounded, reporting that between the open breach and the intrenchment extended a large ditch filled with fireworks and defended by several batteries. The assembled general officers looked at one another in silence. “Well, gentlemen,” said Pescara, “you see that the folks of Marseilles keep a table well spread for our reception; if you like to go and sup in paradise, you are your own masters so far; as for me, who have no desire to go thither just yet, I am off. But believe me,” he added seriously, “we had best return to Milaness; we have left that country without a soldier; we might possibly find our return cut off.” Whereupon Pescara got up and went out; and the majority of the officers followed him. Bourbon remained almost alone, divided between anger and shame. Almost as he quitted this scene he heard that Francis I. was advancing towards Provence with an army. The king had suddenly decided to go to the succor of Marseilles, which was making so good a defence. Nothing could be a bitterer pill for Bourbon than to retire before Francis I., whom he had but lately promised to dethrone; but his position condemned him to suffer everything, without allowing him the least hesitation; and on the 28th of September, 1524, he raised the siege of Marseilles and resumed the road to Italy, harassed even beyond Toulon by the French advance-guard, eager in its pursuit of the traitor even more than of the enemy.

In the course of this year, 1524, whilst Bourbon was wandering as a fugitive, trying to escape from his country, then returning to it, after a few months, as a conqueror, and then leaving it again at the end of a few weeks of prospective triumph, pursued by the king he had betrayed, his case and that of his accomplices had been inquired into and disposed of by the Parliament of Paris, dispassionately and almost coldly, probably because of the small esteem in which the magistrates held the court of Francis I., and of the wrong which they found had been done to the constable. The Parliament was not excited by a feeling of any great danger to the king and the country; it was clear that, at the core, the conspiracy and rebellion were very circumscribed and impotent; and the accusations brought by the court party or their servants against the conspirators were laughable from their very outrageousness and unlikelihood; according to them, the accomplices of the constable meant not only to dethrone, and, if need were, kill the king, but “to make pies of the children of France.” Parliament saw no occasion to proceed against more than a half score of persons in confinement, and, except nineteen defaulters who were condemned to death together with confiscation of their property, only one capital sentence was pronounced, against John of Poitiers, Lord of Saint-Vallier, the same who had exerted himself to divert the constable from his plot, but who had nevertheless not refrained from joining it, and was the most guilty of all the accomplices in consequence of the confidential post he occupied near the king’s person. The decree was not executed, however; Saint-Vallier received his reprieve on the scaffold itself. Francis I. was neither rancorous nor cruel; and the entreaties, or, according to some evil-speakers of the day, the kind favors, of the Lady de Brew, Saint-Vallier’s daughter and subsequently the celebrated Diana of Poitiers, obtained from the king her father’s life.

Francis I., greatly vexed, it is said, at the lenity of the Parliament of Paris, summoned commissions chosen amongst the Parliaments of Rouen, Dijon, Toulouse, and Bordeaux, and made them reconsider the case. The provincial Parliaments decided as that of Paris had. The procedure against the principal culprit was several times suspended and resumed according to the course of events, and the decree was not pronounced so long as the Duke of Bourbon lived. It was abroad and in his alliance with foreign sovereigns that all his importance lay.

After Bourbon’s precipitate retreat, the position of Francis I. was a good one. He had triumphed over conspiracy and invasion; the conspiracy had not been catching, and the invasion had failed on all the frontiers. If the king, in security within his kingdom, had confined himself to it, whilst applying himself to the task of governing it well, he would have obtained all the strength he required to make himself feared and deferred to abroad. For a while he seemed to have entertained this design: on the 25th of September, 1523, he published an important ordinance for the repression of disorderliness and outrages on the part of the soldiery in France itself; and, on the 28th of December following, a regulation as to the administration of finances established a control over the various exchequer-officers, and announced the king’s intention of putting some limits to his personal expenses, “not including, however,” said he, “the ordinary run of our little necessities and pleasures.” This singular reservation was the faithful exponent of his character; he was licentious at home and adventurous abroad, being swayed by his coarse passions and his warlike fancies. Even far away from Paris, in the heart of the provinces, the king’s irregularities were known and dreaded. In 1524, some few weeks after the death [at Blois, July 20, 1524] of his wife, Queen Claude, daughter of Louis XII., a virtuous and modest princess more regretted by the people than by her husband, Francis made his entry into Manosque, in Provence. The burgesses had the keys of their town presented to him by the most beautiful creature they could find within their walls; it was the daughter of Antony Voland, one of themselves. The virtuous young girl was so frightened at the king’s glances and the signs he made to his gentry, evidently alluding to her, that, on returning home, she got some burning sulphur and placed herself for a long while under the influence of its vapor, in order to destroy the beauty which made her run the risk of being only too pleasing to the king. Francis, who was no great or able captain, could not resist the temptations of war any more than those of the flesh. When Bourbon and the imperial army had evacuated Provence, the king loudly proclaimed his purpose of pursuing them into Italy, and of once more going forth to the conquest of Milaness, and perhaps also of the kingdom of Naples, that incurable craze of French kings in the sixteenth century. In vain did his most experienced warriors, La Tremoille and Chabannes, exert themselves to divert him from such a campaign, for which he was not prepared; in vain did his mother herself write to him, begging him to wait and see her, for that she had important matters to impart to him. He answered by sending her the ordinance which conferred upon her the regency during his absence; and, at the end of October, 1524, he had crossed the Alps, anxious to go and risk in Milaness the stake he had just won in Provence against Charles V.

Arriving speedily in front of Milan, he there found the imperial army which had retired before him; there was a fight in one of the outskirts; but Bourbon recognized the impossibility of maintaining a siege in a town of which the fortifications were in ruins, and with disheartened troops. On the line of march which they had pursued, from Lodi to Milan, there was nothing to be seen but cuirasses, arquebuses tossed hither and thither, dead horses, and men dying of fatigue and scarcely able to drag themselves along. Bourbon evacuated Milan, and, taking a resolution as bold as it was singular, abruptly abandoned, so far as he was personally concerned, that defeated and disorganized army, to go and seek for and reorganize another at a distance. Being informed that Charles III., Duke of Savoy, hitherto favorable to France, was secretly inclining towards the emperor, he went to Turin, made a great impression by his confidence and his grand spirit in the midst of misfortune upon both the duke and his wife, Beatrix of Portugal, and obtained from them not only a flattering reception, but a secret gift of their money and their jewelry; and, equipped with these resources, he passed into Germany to recruit soldiers there. The lanzknechts, who had formerly served under him in France, rushed to him in shoals; he had received from nature the gifts most calculated to gain the hearts of campaigners: kind, accessible, affable and even familiar with the common soldier, he entered into the details of his wants and alleviated them. His famous bravery, his frankness, and his generosity gained over those adventurers who were weary of remaining idle; their affection consoled Bourbon and stood him in stead of all: his army became his family and his camp his country. Proscribed and condemned in France, without any position secured to him in the dominions of Charles V., envied and crossed by that prince’s generals, he had found full need of all the strong tempering of his character and of his warlike genius to keep him from giving way under so many trials. He was beginning to feel himself near recovery: he had an army, an army of his own; he had chosen for it men inured to labor and fatigue, accustomed to strict discipline; and thereto he added five hundred horsemen from Franche-Comte for whose devotion and courage he could answer: and he gave the second command in this army to George of Freundsberg, an old captain of lanzknechts and commandant of the emperor’s guard, the same who, three years before, on seeing Luther boldly enter Worms, said to him, with a slap on the shoulder, “Little monk, this is a daring step thou art going to take! Nor I, nor any captain of us, ever did the like. If thy cause is good, and if thou have faith in thy cause, forward! little monk, in God’s name forward!” With such comrades about him, Bourbon re-entered Milaness at the head of twelve or thirteen thousand fighting men, three months after having left it, alone and moneyless. His rivals about the person of Charles V., Lannoy, Viceroy of Naples, and the Marquis of Pescara, could not help admiring him, and he regained in the imperial camp an ascendency which had but lately been very much shaken.

He found the fresh campaign begun in earnest. Francis I.‘s veteran generals, Marshals La Tremoille and Chabannes, had advised him to pursue without pause the beaten and disorganized imperial army, which was in such plight that there was placarded on the statue of Pasquin at Rome, “Lost—an army—in the mountains of Genoa; if anybody knows what has become of it, let him come forward and say: he shall be well rewarded.” If the King of France, it was said, drove back northward and forced into the Venetian dominions the remnants of this army, the Spaniards would not be able to hold their own in Milaness, and would have to retire within the kingdom of Naples. But Admiral Bonnivet, “whose counsel the king made use of more than of any other,” says Du Bellay, pressed Francis I. to make himself master, before everything, of the principal strong places in Lombardy, especially of Pavia, the second city in the duchy of Milan. Francis followed this counsel, and on the 26th of August, 1524, twenty days after setting out from Aix in Provence, he appeared with his army in front of Pavia. On learning this resolution, Pescara joyously exclaimed, “We were vanquished; a little while and we shall be vanquishers.” Pavia had for governor a Spanish veteran, Antony de Leyva, who had distinguished himself at the battle of Ravenna, in 1512, by his vigilance and indomitable tenacity: and he held out for nearly four months, first against assaults, and then against investment by the French army. Francis I. and his generals occasionally proceeded during this siege to severities condemned by the laws and usages of war. A small Spanish garrison had obstinately defended a tower situated at the entrance of a stone bridge which led from an island on the Ticino into Pavia. Marshal de Montmorency at last carried the tower, and had all the defenders hanged “for having dared,” he said, “to offer resistance to an army of the king’s in such a pigeon-hole.” Antony de Leyva had the bridge forthwith broken down, and De Montmorency was stopped on the borders of the Ticino. In spite of the losses of its garrison in assaults and sorties, and in spite of the sufferings of the inhabitants from famine and from lack of resources of all sorts, Pavia continued to hold out. There was a want of wood as well as of bread; and they knocked the houses to pieces for fuel. Antony de Leyva caused to be melted down the vessels of the churches and the silvern chandeliers of the university, and even a magnificent chain of gold which he habitually wore round his neck. He feared he would have to give in at last, for want of victuals and ammunition, when, towards the end of January, 1525, he saw appearing, on the northern side, the flags of the imperial army: it was Bourbon, Lannoy, and Pescara, who were coming up with twenty thousand foot, seven hundred men-at-arms, a troop of Spanish arquebusiers, and several pieces of cannon. Bourbon, whilst on the march, had written, on the 5th of January, to Henry VIII., and, after telling him what he meant to do, had added, “I know through one of my servants that the French have said that I retired from Provence shamefully. I remained there a space of three months and eight days, waiting for battle. I hope to give the world to know that I have no fear of King Francis, for, please God, we shall place ourselves so close together that we shall have great trouble to get disentangled without battle, and I shall so do that neither he nor they who have held such talk about me shall say that I was afraid of being there.” The situation was from that moment changed. The French army found themselves squeezed between the fortress which would not surrender and the imperial army which was coming to relieve it. Things, however, remained stationary for three weeks. Francis I. intrenched himself strongly in his camp, which the Imperialists could not attack without great risk of unsuccess. “Pavia is doomed to fall,” wrote Francis to his mother the regent on the 3d of February, “if they do not reenforce it somehow; and they are beating about to make it hold on to the last gasp, which, I think, will not be long now, for it is more than a month since those inside have had no wine to drink and neither meat nor cheese to eat; they are short of powder even.” Antony de Leyva gave notice to the Imperialists that the town was not in a condition for further resistance. On the other hand, if the imperial army put off fighting, they could not help breaking up; they had exhausted their victuals, and the leaders their money; they were keeping the field without receiving pay, and were subsisting, so to speak, without resources. The prudent Marquis of Pescara himself was for bringing on a battle, which was indispensable. “A hundred years in the field,” said he, in the words of an old Italian proverb, “are better than one day of fighting, for one may lose in a doubtful melley what one was certain of winning by skilful manoeuvres; but when one can no longer keep the field, one must risk a battle, so as not to give the enemy the victory without a fight.” The same question was being discussed in the French camp. The veteran captains, La Tremoille and Chabannes, were of opinion that by remaining in the strong position in which they were encamped they would conquer without fighting. Bonnivet and De Montmorency were of the contrary opinion. “We French,” said Bonnivet, “have not been wont to make war by means of military artifices, but handsomely and openly, especially when we have at our head a valiant king, who is enough to make the veriest dastards fight. Our kings bring victory with them, as our little king Charles VIII. did at the Taro, our king Louis XII. at Agnadello, and our king who is here present at Melegnano.” Francis I. was not the man to hold out against such sentiments and such precedents; and he decided to accept battle as soon as it should be offered him. The imperial leaders, at a council held on the 23d of February, determined to offer it next day. Bourbon vigorously supported the opinion of Pescara.

Antony de Leyva was notified the same evening of their decision, and was invited to make, as soon as he heard two cannon-shots, a sortie which would place the French army between two fires. Pescara, according to his custom, mustered the Spaniards; and, “My lads,” said he, “fortune has brought you to such extremity that on the soil of Italy you have for your own only that which is under your feet. All the emperor’s might could not procure for you to-morrow morning one morsel of bread. We know not where to get it, save in the Frenchman’s camp, which is before your eyes. There they have abundance of everything, bread, meat, trout and carp from the Lake of Garda. And so, my lads, if you are set upon having anything to eat tomorrow, march we down on the Frenchmen’s camp.” Freundsberg spoke in the same style to the German lanzknechts. And both were responded to with cheers. Eloquence is mighty powerful when it speaks in the name of necessity.

The two armies were of pretty equal strength: they had each from twenty to five and twenty thousand infantry, French, Germans, Spaniards, lanzknechts, and Swiss. Francis I. had the advantage in artillery and in heavy cavalry, called at that time the gendarmerie, that is to say, the corps of men-at-arms in heavy armor with their servants; but his troops were inferior in effectives to the Imperialists, and Charles V.‘s two generals, Bourbon and Pescara, were, as men of war, far superior to Francis I. and his favorite Bonnivet. In the night between the 23d and 24th of February they opened a breach of forty or fifty fathoms in the wall around the park of Mirabello, where the French camp was situated; a corps immediately passed through it, marching on Pavia to re-enforce the garrison, and the main body of the imperial army entered the park to offer the French battle on that ground. The king at once set his army in motion; and his well-posted artillery mowed down the corps of Germans and Spaniards who had entered the park. “You could see nothing,” says a witness of the battle, “but heads and arms flying about.” The action seemed to be going ill for the Imperialists; Pescara urged the Duke of Bourbon and Lannoy, the Viceroy of Naples, to make haste and come up; Lannoy made the sign of the cross, and said to his men, “There is no hope but in God; follow me and do every one as I do.” Francis I., on his side, advanced with the pick of his men-at-arms, burst on the advance-guard of the enemy, broke it, killed with his own hand the Marquis of Civita-San-Angelo, and dispersed the various corps he found in his way. In the confidence of his joy he thought the victory decided, and, turning to Marshal de Foix, who was with him, “M. de Lescun,” said he, “now am I fain to call myself Duke of Milan.” But Bourbon and Pescara were not the men to accept a defeat so soon; they united all their forces, and resumed the offensive at all points; the French batteries, masked by an ill-considered movement on the part of their own troops, who threw themselves between them and the enemy, lost all serviceability; and Pescara launched upon the French gendarmerie fifteen hundred Basque arquebusiers, whom he had exercised and drilled to penetrate into the midst of the horses, shoot both horses and riders, and fall back rapidly after having discharged their pieces. Being attacked by the German lanzknechts of Bourbon and Freundsberg, the Swiss in the French service did not maintain their renown, and began to give way. “My God, what is all this!” cried Francis I., seeing them waver, and he dashed towards them to lead them back into action; but neither his efforts, nor those of John of Diesbach and the Lord of Fleuranges, who were their commanders, were attended with success. The king was only the more eager for the fray; and, rallying around him all those of his men-at-arms who would neither recoil nor surrender, he charged the Imperialists furiously, throwing himself into the thickest of the melley, and seeking in excess of peril some chance of victory; but Pescara, though wounded in three places, was none the less stubbornly fighting on, and Antony de Leyva, governor of Pavia, came with the greater part of the garrison to his aid. At this very moment Francis I. heard that the first prince of the blood, his brother-in-law the Duke of Alencon, who commanded the rear-guard, had precipitately left the field of battle. The oldest and most glorious warriors of France, La Tremoille, Marshal de Chabannes, Marshal de Foix, the grand equerry San Severino, the Duke of Suffolk, Francis of Lorraine, Chaumont, Bussy d’Amboise, and Francis de Duras fell, here and there, mortally wounded. At this sight Admiral Bonnivet in despair exclaimed, “I can never survive this fearful havoc;” and raising the visor of his helmet, he rushed to meet the shots which were aimed at him, and in his turn fell beside his comrades in arms. Bourbon had expressly charged his men to search everywhere in the melley for the admiral, and bring him in a prisoner. When, as he passed along that part of the battle-field, he recognized the corpse, “Ah! wretch,” he cried, as he moved away, “it is thou who hast caused the ruin of France and of me!” Amidst these dead and dying, Francis still fought on; wounded as he was in the face, the arms, and the legs, he struck right and left with his huge sword, and cut down the nearest of his assailants; but his horse, mortally wounded, dragged him down as it fell; he was up again in an instant, and, standing beside his horse, he laid low two more Spaniards who were pressing him closely; the ruck of the soldiers crowded about him; they did not know him, but his stature, his strength, his bravery, his coat of mail studded with golden lilies, and his helmet overshadowed by a thick plume of feathers pointed him out to all as the finest capture to make; his danger was increasing every minute, when one of Bourbon’s most intimate confidants, the Lord of Pomperant, who, in 1523, had accompanied the constable in his flight through France, came up at this critical moment, recognized the king, and, beating off the soldiers with his sword, ranged himself at the king’s side, represented to-him the necessity of yielding, and pressed him to surrender to the Duke of Bourbon, who was not far off. “No,” said the king, “rather die than pledge my faith to a traitor where is the Viceroy of Naples?” It took some time to find Lannoy; but at last he arrived and put one knee on the ground before Francis I., who handed his sword to him. Lannoy took it with marks of the most profound respect, and immediately gave him another. The battle was over, and Francis I. was Charles V.‘s prisoner.

Capture of Francis I.——91

He had shown himself an imprudent and unskilful general, but at the same time a hero. His conquerors, both officers and privates, could not help, whilst they secured his person, showing their admiration for him. When he sat down to table, after having had his wounds, which were slight, attended to, Bourbon approached him respectfully and presented him with a dinner-napkin; and the king took it without embarrassment and with frigid and curt politeness. He next day granted him an interview, at which an accommodation took place with due formalities on both sides, but nothing more. All the king’s regard was for the Marquis of Pescara, who came to see him in a simple suit of black, in order, as it were, to share his distress. “He was a perfect gentleman,” said Francis I., “both in peace and in war.” He heaped upon him marks of esteem and almost of confidence. “How do you think,” he asked, “the emperor will behave to me?” “I think,” replied Pescara, “I can answer for the emperor’s moderation; I am sure that he will make a generous use of his victory. If, however, he were capable of forgetting what is due to your rank, your merits, and your misfortunes, I would never cease to remind him of it, and I would lose what little claim upon him my services may have given me, or you should be satisfied with his behavior.” The king embraced him warmly. He asked to be excused from entering Pavia, that he might not be a gazing-stock in a town that he had so nearly taken. He was, accordingly, conducted to Pizzighittone, a little fortress between Milan and Cremona. He wrote thence two letters, one to his mother the regent and the other to Charles V., which are here given word for word, because they so well depict his character and the state of his mind in his hour of calamity:—

1.  “To the Regent of France: Madame, that you may know how stands
the rest of my misfortune: there is nothing in the world left to me
but honor and my life, which is safe.  And in order that, in your
adversity, this news might bring you some little comfort, I prayed
for permission to write you this letter, which was readily granted
me; entreating you, in the exercise of your accustomed prudence, to
be pleased not to do anything rash, for I have hope, after all, that
God will not forsake me.  Commending to you my children your
grandchildren, and entreating you to give the bearer a free passage,
going and returning, to Spain, for he is going to the emperor to
learn how it is his pleasure that I should be treated.”

2.  “To the Emperor Charles V.: If liberty had been sooner granted
me by my cousin the viceroy, I should not have delayed so long to do
my duty towards you, according as the time and the circumstances in
which I am placed require; having no other comfort under my
misfortune than a reliance on your goodness, which, if it so please,
shall employ the results of victory with honorableness towards me;
having steadfast hope that your virtue would not willingly constrain
me to anything that was not honorable; entreating you to consult
your own heart as to what you shall be pleased to do with me;
feeling sure that the will of a prince such as you are cannot be
coupled with aught but honor and magnanimity.  Wherefore, if it
please you to have so much honorable pity as to answer for the
safety which a captive King of France deserves to find, whom there
is a desire to render friendly and not desperate, you may be sure of
obtaining an acquisition instead of a useless prisoner, and of
making a King of France your slave forever.”

The former of these two letters has had its native hue somewhat altered in the majority of histories, in which it has been compressed into those eloquent words, “All is lost save honor.” The second needs no comment to make apparent what it lacks of kingly pride and personal dignity. Beneath the warrior’s heroism there was in the qualities of Francis I. more of what is outwardly brilliant and winning than of real strength and solidity.

But the warrior’s heroism, in conjunction with what is outwardly brilliant and winning in the man, exercises a great influence over people. The Viceroy of Naples perceived and grew anxious at the popularity of which Francis I. was the object at Pizzighittone. The lanzknechts took an open interest in him and his fortunes; the Italians fixed their eyes on him; and Bourbon, being reconciled to him, might meditate carrying him off. Lannoy resolved to send him to Naples, where there would be more certainty of guarding him securely. Francis made no objection to this design. On the 12th of May, 1525, he wrote to his mother, “Madame, the bearer has assured me that he will bring you this letter safely; and, as I have but little time, I will tell you nothing more than I shall be off to Naples on Monday—, and so keep a lookout at sea, for we shall have only fourteen galleys to take us and eighteen hundred Spaniards to man them; but those will be all their arquebusiers. Above all, haste: for, if that is made, I am in hopes that you may soon see your most humble and most obedient son.” There was no opportunity for even attempting to carry off the king as he went by sea to Naples; instead of taking him to Naples, Lannoy transported him straight to Spain, with the full assent of the king and the regent themselves, for it was in French galleys manned by Spanish troops that the voyage was made. Instead of awaiting the result of such doubtful chances of deliverance as might occur in Italy, Francis I., his mother, and his sister Margaret, entertained the idea that what was of the utmost importance for him was to confer and treat in person with Charles V., which could not be done save in Spain itself. In vain did Bourbon and Pescara, whose whole influence and ambitious hopes lay in Italy, and who, on that stage, regarded Francis I. as their own prisoner rather than Charles V.‘s, exert themselves to combat this proposal; the Viceroy of Naples, in concert, no doubt, with Charles V. himself as well as with Francis I. and his mother, took no heed of their opposition; and Francis I., disembarking at the end of June at Barcelona first and then at Valentia, sent, on the 2d of July, to Charles V. the Duke de Montmorency, with orders to say that he had desired to approach the emperor, “not only to obtain peace and deliverance in his own person, but also to establish and confirm Italy in the state and fact of devotion to the emperor, before that the potentates and lords of Italy should have leisure to rally together in opposition.” The regent, his mother, and his sister Margaret congratulated him heartily on his arrival in Spain, and Charles V. himself wrote to him, “It was a pleasure to me to hear of your arrival over here, because that, just now, it will be the cause of a happy general peace for the great good of Christendom, which is what I most desire.”

It is difficult to understand how Francis I. and Charles V. could rely upon personal interviews and negotiations for putting an end to their contentions and establishing a general peace. Each knew the other’s pretensions, and they knew how little disposed they were, either of them, to abandon them. On the 28th of March, 1525, a month after the battle of Pavia, Charles V. had given his ambassadors instructions as to treating for the ransom and liberation of the King of France. His chief requirements were, that Francis I. should renounce all attempts at conquest in Italy, that he should give up the suzerainty of the countships of Flanders and Artois, that he should surrender to Charles V. the duchy of Burgundy with all its dependencies, as derived from Mary of Burgundy, daughter of the last duke, Charles the Rash; that the Duke of Bourbon should be reinstated in possession of all his domains, with the addition thereto of Provence and Dauphiny, which should form an independent state; and, lastly, that France should pay England all the sums of money which Austria owed her. Francis I., on hearing, at Pizzighittone, these proposals read out, suddenly drew his sword as if to stab himself, saying, “It were better for a king to end thus.” His custodian, Alancon, seized his arm, whilst recalling him to his senses. Francis recovered calmness, but without changing his resolution; he would rather, he said, bury himself in a prison forever than subscribe to conditions destructive of his kingdom, and such as the States General of France would never accept. When Francis I. was removed to Spain he had made only secondary concessions as to these requirements of Charles V., and Charles V. had not abandoned any one of his original requirements. Marshal de Montmorency, when sent by the king to the emperor on the 2d of July, 1525, did not enter at all into the actual kernel of the negotiation; after some conventional protestations of a pacific kind, he confined himself to demanding “a safe conduct for Madame Marguerite of France, the king’s only sister, Duchess of Alencon and Berry, who would bring with her such and so full powers of treating for peace, the liberation of the king, and friendly alliance to secure the said peace, that the emperor would clearly see that the king’s intentions were pure and genuine, and that he would be glad to conclude and decide in a month what might otherwise drag on for a long while to the great detriment of their subjects.” The marshal was at the same time to propose the conclusion of a truce during the course of the negotiations.

Amongst the letters at that time addressed to Francis I., a prisoner of war, is the following, dated March, 1525, when he was still in Italy:—

“My lord, the joy we are still feeling at the kind letters which you
were pleased to write yesterday to me and to your mother, makes us
so happy with the assurance of your health, on which our life
depends, that it seems to me that we ought to think of nothing but
of praising God and desiring a continuance of your good news, which
is the best meat we can have to live on.  And inasmuch as the
Creator bath given us grace that our trinity should be always
united, the other two do entreat you that this letter, presented to
you, who are the third, may be accepted with the same affection with
which it is cordially offered you by your most humble and most
obedient servants, your mother and sister—

This close and tender union of the three continued through all separations and all trials; the confidence of the captive king was responsive to the devotion of his mother the regent and of his sister who had become his negotiatrix. When the news came of the king’s captivity, the regency threatened for a moment to become difficult and stormy; all the ambition and the hatred that lay dormant in the court awoke; an attempt was made to excite in the Duke of Vendome, the head of the younger branch of the House of Bourbon, a desire to take the regent’s place; the Parliament of Paris attacked the chancellor, Duprat, whom they hated—not without a cause; but the Duke of Vendome was proof against the attempts which were made upon him, and frankly supported the regent, who made him the chief of her council; and the regent supported the chancellor. She displayed, in these court-contentions, an ability partaking both of firmness and pliancy. The difficulties of foreign policy found her equally active and prudent. The greatest peril which France could at that time incur arose from the maintenance of the union between the King of England and Charles V. At the first news of the battle of Pavia, Henry VIII. dreamed for a moment of the partition of France between Charles and himself, with the crown of France for his own share; demonstrations of joy took place at the court of London; and attempts were made to levy, without the concurrence of Parliament, imposts capable of sufficing for such an enterprise. But the English nation felt no inclination to put up with this burden and the king’s arbitrary power in order to begin over again the Hundred Years’ War. The primate, Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to Cardinal Wolsey, “It is reported to me that when the people had orders to make bonfires for the capture of the King of France, many folks said that it was more reason for weeping than for rejoicing. Others openly expressed their desire that the King of France might be set at liberty, that a happy peace might be concluded, and that the king might not attempt to conquer France again, a conquest more burdensome than profitable, and more difficult to keep than to make.” Wolsey himself was cooled towards Charles V., who, instead of writing to him as of old, and signing with his own hand, “your son and cousin,” now merely put his name, Charles. The regent, Louise of Savoy, profited ably by these feelings and circumstances in England; a negotiation was opened between the two courts; Henry VIII. gained by it two millions of crowns payable by annual instalments of fifty thousand crowns each, and Wolsey received a pension of a hundred thousand crowns. At first a truce for four months, and then an alliance, offensive and defensive, were concluded on the 30th of August, 1525, between France and England; and the regent, Louise of Savoy, had no longer to trouble herself about anything except the captivity of the king her son and the departure of her daughter Margaret to go and negotiate for the liberation of the prisoner.

The negotiation had been commenced, as early as the 20th of July, at Toledo, between the ambassadors of Francis I. and the advisers of Charles V., but without any symptom of progress. Francis I., since his arrival in Spain, had been taken from strong castle to strong castle, and then removed to Madrid, everywhere strictly guarded, and leading a sad life, without Charles V.‘s coming to visit him or appointing him any meeting-place. In vain did the emperor’s confessor, the Bishop of Osma, advise him to treat Francis I. generously, and so lay upon him either the obligation of thankfulness or the burden of ingratitude; the majority of his servants gave him contrary counsel. “I know not what you mean to do,” wrote his brother, the Archduke Ferdinand; “but, if I were wise enough to know how to give you good counsel, it seems to me that such an opportunity should not be lost, but that you should follow up your good fortune and act in such wise that neither the King of France nor his successors should have power hereafter to do harm to you or yours.” That, too, was Charles V.‘s own way of thinking; but, slow and patient as he was by nature, he relied upon the discomforts and the wearisomeness of prolonged captivity and indecision for tiring out Francis I. and overcoming his resistance to the harsh conditions he would impose upon him. The regent, Louise, made him an offer to go herself and treat with him, at Perpignan, for the king’s liberation; but he did not accept that overture. The Duke of Alencon, son-in-law of Louise, had died at Lyons, unable to survive the shame of his flight at the battle of Pavia; and the regent hinted that her daughter Marguerite, three months a widow, “would be happy if she could be agreeable to his Imperial Majesty,” but Charles let the hint drop without a reply. However, at the end of August, 1525, he heard that Francis I. was ill: “from great melancholy he had fallen into a violent fever.” The population of Madrid was in commotion; Francis I. had become popular there; many people went to pray for him in the churches; the doctors told the emperor that there was fear for the invalid’s life, and that he alone could alleviate the malady by administering some hope. Charles V. at once granted the safe-conduct which had been demanded of him for Marguerite of France, and on the 18th of September he himself went to Madrid to pay a visit to the captive. Francis, on seeing him enter the chamber, said, “So your Majesty has come to see your prisoner die?” “You are not my prisoner,” answered Charles, “but my brother and my friend: I have no other purpose than to give you your liberty and every satisfaction you can desire.” Next day Marguerite arrived; her mother, the regent, had accompanied her as far as Pont-Saint-Esprit; she had embarked, on the 27th of August, at Aigues-Mortes, and, disembarking at Barcelona, had gone to Madrid by litter; in order to somewhat assuage her impatience she had given expression to it in the following tender stanzas:

“For the bliss that awaits me so strong
Is my yearning that yearning is pain;
One hour is a hundred years long;
My litter, it bears me in vain;
It moves not, or seems to recede;
Such speed would I make if I might:
O, the road, it is weary indeed,
Where lies—at the end—my delight!

“I gaze all around me all day
For some one with tidings to bring,
Not ceasing—ne’er doubt me—to pray
Unto God for the health of my king
I gaze; and when none is descried,
Then I weep; and, what else? if you ask,
To my paper my grief I confide
This, this is my sorrowful task.

“O, welcome be he who at length
Shall tap at my door and shall cry,
‘The king to new health and new strength
Is returning; the king will not die!’
Then she, who were now better dead,
Will run, the news-bearer to see,
And kiss him for what he hath said,
That her brother from danger is free.”

Francis was not “free from danger” when his sister arrived; she took her post at his side; on the 25th of September a serious crisis came on; and he remained for some time “without speaking, or hearing, or seeing.” Marguerite had an altar set up in her chamber; and all the French, of the household, great lords and domestics, knelt beside the sick man’s sister, and received the communion from the, hands of the Archbishop of Embrun, who, drawing near the bed, entreated the king to turn his eyes to the holy sacrament. Francis came out of his lethargy, and asked to communicate likewise, saying, “God will cure me, soul and body.” He became convalescent, and on the 20th of October he was sufficiently recovered for Marguerite to leave Madrid, and go and resume negotiations at Toledo, whither Charles V. had returned.

The day but one after her arrival she wrote to the king, “The emperor gave me courteous and kind reception, and, after coming to meet me at the entrance of this house, he used very kind and courteous language to me. He desired that he and I should be alone in the same room, and one of my women to keep the door. This evening I will send you word of what has been done; entreating you, my lord, to put on before Sieur Alancon (the king’s custodian) an air of weakness and weariness, for your debility will strengthen me and will hasten my despatch, which seems to me slower than I can tell you; as well for the sake of seeing you liberated, which you will be by God’s help, as of returning and trying whether your dear hand can be of any use to you.” Marguerite was impressed by the good-will she discovered at the court of Toledo in respect of the King of France, his liberation, and the establishment of peace; she received from the people in the streets, as well as from the great lords in their houses, the most significant proofs of favor. Charles V. took umbrage at it, and had the Duke of Infantado, amongst others, informed that, if he wished to please the emperor, neither he nor his sons must speak to Madame d’Alencon. “But,” said she, “I am not tabooed to the ladies, to whom I will speak double.” She contracted a real intimacy with even the sister of Charles V., Eleanor, widow of the King of Portugal, whom Charles had promised to the Duke of Bourbon, and between whom and her brother, King Francis, Marguerite set brewing a marriage, which was not long deferred. But, in spite of her successes at the court, and even in the family of the emperor, Marguerite had no illusions touching the small chance of bringing her grand object of negotiation to a happy issue. “Every one tells me,” she wrote, “that he loves the king; but there is small experience of it. . . . If I had to do with good sort of people, who understand what honor is, I would not care; but the contrary is the case.” She did not lose courage, however: “she spoke to the emperor so bravely and courteously,” says Brantome, “that he was quite astounded, and she said still worse to those of his council, at which she had audience; there she had full triumph of her good speaking and haranguing, with an easy grace in which she was not deficient; and she did so well with her fine speaking that she made herself rather agreeable than hateful or tiresome, that her reasons were found good and pertinent, and that she remained in high esteem with the emperor, his council, and his court.”

But neither good and pertinent reasons, nor the charm of eloquence in the mouth of a pleasing and able woman, are sufficient to make head against the passions and interests of the actors who are at a given moment in possession of the political arena; it needs time, a great deal of time, before the unjust or unreasonable requirements and determinations of a people, a generation, and the chief of a state become acknowledged as such and abandoned. At the negotiations entered upon, in 1525, between Francis I. and Charles V., Francis I. was prompt in making large and unpalatable concessions: he renounced his pretensions, so far as Italy was concerned, to the duchy of Milan, to Genoa, and to the kingdom of Naples; his suzerainty over the countships of Flanders and Artois, and possession of Hesdin and Tournay; he consented to reinstate Duke Charles of Bourbon in all his hereditary property and rights, and to pay three millions of crowns in gold for his own ransom; but he refused to cede Provence and Dauphiny to the Duke of Bourbon as an independent state, and to hand over the duchy of Burgundy to Charles V., as heir of his grandmother, Mary of Burgundy, only daughter of Charles the Rash. Charles V., after somewhat lukewarmly persisting, gave up the demand he had made on behalf of the Duke of Bourbon, for having Provence and Dauphiny erected into an independent state; but he insisted absolutely, on his own behalf, in his claim to the duchy of Burgundy as a right and a condition, sine qua non, of peace. The question at the bottom of the negotiations between the two sovereigns lay thus: the acquisition of Burgundy was for Charles V. the crowning-point of his victory and of his predominance in Europe; the giving up of Burgundy was for Francis I. a lasting proof of his defeat and a dismemberment of his kingdom: one would not let his prisoner go at any price but this, the other would not purchase at this price even his liberty and his restoration to his friends. In this extremity Francis I. took an honorable and noble resolution; in October, 1525, he wrote to Charles V., “Sir, my brother, I have heard from the Archbishop of Embrun and my premier-president at Paris of the decision you have expressed to them as to my liberation, and I am sorry that what you demand of me is not in my power. But feeling that you could not take a better way of telling me that you mean to keep me prisoner forever than by demanding of me what is impossible on my part, I have made up my mind to put up with imprisonment, being sure that God, who knows that I have not deserved a long one, being a prisoner of fair war, will give me strength to bear it patiently. And I can only regret that your courteous words, which you were pleased to address to me in my illness, should have come to nothing.” [Documents inedits sur l’Histoire de France. Captivite du roi Francois I., p. 384.]

The resolution announced in this letter led before long to the official act which was certain to be the consequence of it. In November, 1525, by formal letters patent, Francis I., abdicating the kingship which he could not exercise, ordered that his eldest son, the dauphin Francis, then eight years old, should be declared, crowned, anointed, and consecrated Most Christian King of France, and that his grandmother, Louise of Savoy, Duchess of Angouleme, or, in default of her, his aunt Marguerite, Duchess of Alencon, should be regent of the kingdom: “If it should please God that we should recover our personal liberty, and be able to proceed to the government and conduct of our kingdom, in that case our most dear and most beloved son shall quit and give up to us the name and place of king, all things re-becoming just as they were before our capture and captivity.” The letters patent ordered the regent “to get together a number of good and notable personages from the three estates in all the districts, countries, and good towns of France, to whom, either in a body or separately, one after another, she should communicate the said will of the king, as above, in order to have their opinion, counsel, and consent.” Thus, during the real king’s very captivity, and so, long as it lasted, France was again about to have a king whom the States General of France would be called upon to support with their counsels and adhesion.

Louise of Savoy and Marguerite de Valois——102

This resolution was taken and these letters patent prepared just at the expiry of the safe-conduct granted to the Princess Marguerite, and, consequently, just when she would have to return to France. Charles V. was somewhat troubled at the very different position in which he was about to find himself, when he would have to treat no longer at Madrid with a captive king, but at Paris with a young king out of his power and with his own people about him. Marguerite fully perceived his embarrassment. From Toledo, where she was, she wrote to her brother, “After having been four days without seeing the emperor, when I went to take leave I found him so gracious that I think he is very much afraid of my going; those gentry yonder are in a great fix, and, if you will be pleased to hold firm, I can see them coming round to your wishes. But they would very much like to keep me here doing nothing, in order to promote their own affairs, as you will be pleased to understand.” Charles V., in fact, signified to the king his desire that the negotiations should be proceeded with at Madrid or Toledo, never ceasing to make protestations of his pacific intentions. Francis I. replied that, for his part, “he would not lay any countermand on the duchess, that he would willingly hear what the emperor’s ambassadors had to say, but that, if they did not come to any conclusion as to a peace and his own liberation, he would not keep his own ambassadors any longer, and would send them away.” Marguerite set out at the end of November; she at first travelled slowly, waiting for good news to reach her and stop her on the road; but, suddenly, she received notice from Madrid to quicken her steps; according to some historians, it was the Duke of Bourbon who, either under the influence of an old flame or in order to do a service to the king he had betrayed, sent word to the princess that Charles V., uneasy about what she was taking with her to France, had an idea of having her arrested the moment her safe-conduct had expired. According to a more probable version, it was Francis I. himself who, learning that three days after Marguerite’s departure Charles V. had received a copy of the royal act of abdication, at once informed his sister, begging her to make all haste. And she did so to such purpose that, “making four days’ journey in one,” she arrived at Salces, in the Eastern Pyrenees, an hour before the expiry of her safe-conduct. She no doubt took to her mother, the regent, the details of the king’s resolutions and instructions; but the act itself containing them, the letters patent of Francis I., had not been intrusted to her; it was Marshal de Montmorency who, at the end of December, 15225, was the first bearer of them to France.

Did Francis I. flatter himself that his order to have his son the dauphin declared and crowned king, and the departure of his sister Marguerite, who was going, if not to carry the actual text of the resolution, at any rate to announce it to the regent and to France, would embarrass Charles V. so far as to make him relax in his pretensions to the duchy of Burgundy and its dependencies? There is nothing to show that he was allured by such a hope; any how, if it may have for a moment arisen in his mind, it soon vanished. Charles V. insisted peremptorily upon his requirements; and Francis I. at once gave up his attitude of firmness, and granted, instead, the concession demanded of him, that is, the relinquishment of Burgundy and its dependencies to Charles V., “to hold and enjoy with every right of supremacy until it hath been judged, decided, and determined, by arbiters elected on the emperor’s part and our own, to whom the said duchy, countships, and other territories belong. . . . And for guarantee of this concession, the dauphin, the king’s eldest son, and his second son, Henry, Duke of Orleans, or other great personages, to the number of twelve, should be sent to him and remain in his keeping as hostages.” The regent, Louise, was not without a hand in this determination of the king; her maternal affection took alarm at the idea of her son’s being for an indefinite period a prisoner in the hands of his enemy. Besides, in that case, war seemed to her inevitable; and she dreaded the responsibility which would be thrown upon her. Charles V., on his side, was essentially a prudent man; he disliked remaining, unless it were absolutely necessary, for a long while in a difficult position. His chancellor, Gattinera, refused to seal a treaty extorted by force and violated, in advance, by lack of good faith. “Bring the King of France so low,” he said, “that he can do you no harm, or treat him so well that he can wish you no harm, or keep him a prisoner: the worst thing you can do is to let him go half satisfied.” Charles V. persisted in his pacific resolution. There is no knowing whether he was tempted to believe in the reality of Francis I.‘s concession, and to regard the guarantees as seriously meant; but it is evident that Francis I. himself considered them a mere sham; for four months previously, on the 22d of August, 1525, at the negotiations entered into on this subject, he had taken care to deposit in the hands of his negotiators a nullifying protest “against all pacts, conventions, renunciations, quittances, revocations, derogations, and oaths that he might have to make contrary to his honor and the good of his crown, to the profit of the said emperor or any other whosoever.” And on the 13th of January, 1526, four weeks after having given his ambassadors orders to sign the treaty of Madrid containing the relinquishment of Burgundy and its dependencies, the very evening before the day on which that treaty was signed, Francis I. renewed, at Madrid itself, and again placed in the hands of his ambassadors, his protest of the 22d of August preceding against this act, declaring “that it was through force and constraint, confinement and length of imprisonment, that he had signed it, and that all that was contained in it was and should remain null and of no effect.” We may not have unlimited belief in the scrupulosity of modern diplomats; but assuredly they would consider such a policy so fundamentally worthless that they would be ashamed to practise it. We may not hold sheer force in honor; but open force is better than mendacious weakness, and less debasing for a government as well as for a people.

“As soon as the treaty of Madrid was signed, the emperor came to Madrid to see the king; then they went, both in one litter, to see Queen Eleanor, the emperor’s sister and the king of Portugal’s widow, whom, by the said treaty, the king was to espouse before he left Spain, which he did.” [Memoires de Martin Du Bellay, t. ii. p. 15.] After which Francis was escorted by Lannoy to Fontarabia, whilst, on the other hand, the regent Louise, and the king’s two sons who were to go as hostages to Spain, were on their way to Bayonne. A large bark was anchored in the middle of the Bidassoa, the boundary of the two kingdoms, between Irun and Andaye. Lannoy put the king on board, and received in exchange, from the hands of Marshal Lautrec, the little princes Francis and Henry. The king gave his children his blessing, and reached the French side whilst they were being removed to the Spanish; and as soon as he set foot on shore, he leaped upon a fine Turkish horse, exclaiming, as he started at a gallop for Bayonne, where his mother and his sister awaited him, “So now I am king again!”

On becoming king again, he fell under the dominion of three personal sentiments, which exercised a decisive influence upon his conduct, and, consequently, upon the destiny of France joy at his liberation, a thirsting for revenge, we will not say for vengeance, to be wreaked on Charles V., and the burden of the engagement he had contracted at Madrid in order to recover his liberty, alternately swayed him. From Bayonne he repaired to Bordeaux, where he reassembled his court, and thence to Cognac, in Saintonge, where he passed nearly three months, almost entirely abandoning himself to field-sports, galas, diversions, and pleasures of every kind, as if to indemnify himself for the wearisomeness and gloom in which he had lived at Madrid. “Age subdues the blood, adversity the mind, risks the nerve, and the despairing monarch has no hope but in pleasures,” says Tavannes in his Memoires: “such was Francis I., smitten of women both in body and mind. It is the little circle of Madame d’Etampes that governs.” One of the regent’s maids of honor, Anne d’Heilly, whom Frances I. made Duchess of Etampes, took the place of the Countess of Chateaubriant as his favorite. With strange indelicacy Francis demanded back from Madame de Chateaubriant the beautiful jewels of gold which he had given her, and which bore tender mottoes of his sister Marguerite’s composition. The countess took time enough to have the jewels melted down, and said to the king’s envoy, “Take that to the king, and tell him that, as he has been pleased to recall what he gave me, I send it back to him in metal. As for the mottoes, I cannot suffer any one but myself to enjoy them, dispose of them, and have the pleasure of them.” The king sent back the metal to Madame de Chateaubriant; it was the mottoes that he wished to see again, but he did not get them.

At last it was absolutely necessary to pass from pleasure to business. The envoys of Charles V., with Lannoy, the Viceroy of Naples, at their head, went to Cognac to demand execution of the treaty of Madrid. Francis waited, ere he gave them an answer, for the arrival of the delegates from the estates of Burgundy, whom he had summoned to have their opinion as to the cession of the duchy. These delegates, meeting at Cognac in June, 1527, formally repudiated the cession, being opposed, they said, to the laws of the kingdom, to the rights of the king, who could not by his sole authority alienate any portion of his dominions, and to his coronation-oath, which superseded his oaths made at Madrid. Francis invited the envoys of Charles V. to a solemn meeting of his court and council present at Cognac, at which the delegates from Burgundy repeated their protest. Whilst availing himself of this declaration as an insurmountable obstacle to the complete execution of the treaty of Madrid, Francis offered to give two million crowns for the redemption of Burgundy, and to observe the other arrangements of the treaty, including the relinquishment of Italy and his marriage with the sister of Charles V. Charles formally rejected this proposal. “The King of France,” he said, “promised and swore, on the faith of an honest king and prince, that, if he did not carry out the said restitution of Burgundy, he would incontinently come and surrender himself prisoner to H. M. the emperor, wherever he might be, to undergo imprisonment in the place where the said lord the emperor might be pleased to order him, up to and until the time when this present treaty should be completely fulfilled and accomplished. Let the King of France keep his oath.” [Traite de Madrid, 14th of January, 1526: art. vi.]

However determined he was, at bottom, to elude the strict execution of the treaty of Madrid, Francis was anxious to rebut the charge of perjury by shifting the responsibility on to the shoulders of the people themselves and their representatives. He did not like to summon the states-general of the kingdom, and recognize their right as well as their power; but, after the meeting at Cognac, he went to Paris, and, on the 12th of December, 1527, the Parliament met in state with the adjunct of the princes of the blood, a great number of cardinals, bishops, noblemen, deputies from the Parliaments of Toulouse, Bordeaux, Rouen, Dijon, Grenoble, and Aix, and the municipal body of Paris. In presence of this assembly the king went over the history of his reign, his expeditions in Italy, his alternate successes and reverses, and his captivity. “If my subjects have suffered,” he said, “I have suffered with them.” He then caused to be read the letters patent whereby he had abdicated and transferred the crown to his son the dauphin, devoting himself to captivity forever. He explained the present condition of the finances, and what he could furnish for the ransom of his sons detained as hostages; and he ended by offering to return as a prisoner to Spain if no other way could be found out of a difficult position, for he acknowledged having given his word, adding, however, that he had thought it pledged him to nothing, since it had not been given freely.

This last argument was of no value morally or diplomatically; but in his bearing and his language Francis I. displayed grandeur and emotion. The assembly also showed emotion; they were four days deliberating; with some slight diversity of form the various bodies present came to the same conclusion; and, on the 16th of December, 1527, the Parliament decided that the king was not bound either to return to Spain or to execute, as to that matter, the treaty of Madrid, and that he might with full sanction and justice levy on his subjects two millions of crowns for the ransom of his sons and the other requirements of the state.

Before inviting such manifestations Francis I. had taken measures to prevent them from being in vain. Since the battle of Pavia and his captivity at Madrid the condition and disposition of Europe, and especially of Italy, had changed. From 1513 to 1523, three popes, Leo X., Adrian VI., and Clement VII. had occupied the Holy See. Adrian VI. alone embraced the cause of Charles V., whose preceptor he had been; but he reigned only one year, eight months, and five days; and even during that short time he made only a timid use of his power on his patron’s behalf. His successor, Clement VII., was a Florentine and a Medici, and, consequently, but little inclined to favor the emperor’s policy. The success of Charles V. at Pavia and the captivity of Francis I. inspired the pope and all Italy with great dread of the imperial pretensions and predominance. A league was formed between Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan for the maintenance of Italian independence; and, as the pope was at its head, it was called the Holy League. Secret messages and communications were interchanged between these Italian states, the regent Louise of Savoy at Paris, and King Henry VIII. in London, to win them over to this coalition, not less important, it was urged, for the security of Europe than of Italy. The regent of France and the King of England received these overtures favorably; promises were made on either side and a commencement was even made of preparations, which were hastily disavowed both at Paris and in London, when Charles V. testified some surprise at them. But when Francis I. was restored to freedom and returned to his kingdom, fully determined in his own mind not to execute the treaty of Madrid, the negotiations with Italy became more full of meaning and reality. As early as the 22d of May, 1526, whilst he was still deliberating with his court and Parliament as to how he should behave towards Charles V. touching the treaty of Madrid, Francis I. entered into the Holy League with the pope, the Venetians, and the Duke of Milan for the independence of Italy; and on the 8th of August following Francis I. and Henry VIII. undertook, by a special treaty, to give no assistance one against the other to Charles V., and Henry VIII. promised to exert all his efforts to get Francis I.‘s two sons, left as hostages in Spain, set at liberty. Thus the war between Francis I. and Charles V., after fifteen months’ suspension, resumed its course.

It lasted three years in Italy, from 1526 to 1529, without interruption, but also without result; it was one of those wars which are prolonged from a difficulty of living in peace rather than from any serious intention, on either side, of pursuing a clear and definite object. Bourbon and Lannoy commanded the imperial armies, Lautrec the French army. Only two events, one for its singularity and the other for its tragic importance, deserve to have the memory of them perpetuated in history.

After the battle of Pavia and whilst Francis I. was a captive in Spain, Bourbon, who had hitherto remained in Italy, arrived at Madrid on the 13th of November, 1525, almost at the same time at which Marguerite de Valois was leaving it for France. Charles V. received the hero of Pavia with the strongest marks of consideration and favor; and the Spanish army were enthusiastic in their attachment to him. Amongst the great Spanish lords there were several who despised him as a traitor to his king and country. Charles V. asked the Marquis de Villena to give him quarters in his palace. “I can refuse the king nothing,” said the marquis; “but as soon as the traitor is out of the house, I will fire it with my own hand; no man of honor could live in it any more.” Holding this great and at the same time doubtful position, Bourbon remained in Spain up to the moment when the war was renewed between Francis I. and Charles V. The latter could not at that time dispense with his services in Italy for the only soldier who could have taken his place there, the Marquis of Pescara, had died at Milan on the 30th of November, 1525, aged thirty-six. Charles V. at once sent Bourbon to take the command of the imperial armies in Italy. On arriving at Milan in July, 1527, Bourbon found not only that town, but all the emperor’s party in Italy, in such a state of disorder, alarm, and exhaustion as to render them incapable of any great effort. In view of this general disturbance, Bourbon, who was as ambitious as able, and had become the chief of the great adventurers of his day, conceived the most audacious hopes. Charles V. had promised him the duchy of Milan; why should he not have the kingdom of Naples also, and make himself independent of Charles V.? He had immense influence over his Spanish army; and he had recruited it in Germany with from fourteen to fifteen thousand lanzknechts, the greater part of them Lutherans, and right glad to serve Charles V., then at war with the pope. Their commander, Freundsberg, a friend of Bourbon’s, had got made a handsome gold chain, “expressly,” he said, “to hang and strangle the pope with his own hand, because ‘honor to whom honor is due;’ and since the pope called himself premier in Christendom, he must be deferred to somewhat more than others.” [Brantome, t. i. p. 354.] On the 30th of January, 1527, at Piacenza, Bourbon, late Constable of France, put himself at the head of this ruck of bold and greedy adventurers. “I am now,” said he to them, “nothing but a poor gentleman, who hasn’t a penny to call his own any more than you have; but, if you will have a little patience, I will make you all rich or die in the attempt;” and, so saying, he distributed amongst them all he had left of money, rings, and jewels, keeping for himself nothing but his clothes and a jacket of silver tissue to put on over his armor. “We will follow you everywhere, to the devil himself!” shouted the soldiers; “no more of Julius Caesar, Hannibal, and Scipio! Hurrah! for the fame of Bourbon!” Bourbon led this multitude through Italy, halting before most of the towns, Bologna and Florence even, which he felt a momentary inclination to attack, but, after all, continuing his march until, having arrived in sight of Rome on the 5th of March, 1527, in the evening, he had pitched his camp, visited his guards, and ordered the assault for the morrow. “The great chances of our destiny,” said he to his troops, “have brought us hither to the place where we desired to be, after traversing so many bad roads, in midwinter, with snows and frosts so great, with rain, and mud, and encounters of the enemy, in hunger and thirst, and without a halfpenny. Now is the time to show courage, manliness, and the strength of your bodies. If this bout you are victorious, you will be rich lords and mighty well off; if not, you will be quite the contrary. Yonder is the city whereof, in time past, a wise astrologer prophesied concerning me, telling me that I should die there; but I swear to you that I care but little for dying there, if, when I die, my corpse be left with endless glory and renown throughout the world.” Afterwards he gave the word for retiring, some to rest, and some on guard, and for every one to be ready to assault on the morrow early. . . . “After that the stars became obscured by the greater resplendency of the sun and the flashing arms of the soldiers who were preparing for the assault, Bourbon, clad all in white that he might be better known and seen (which was not the sign of a coward), and armor in hand, marched in front close up to the wall, and, when he had mounted two rungs of his ladder, just as he had said the night before, so did it happen to him, that envious, or, to more properly speak, traitorous Fortune would have an arquebuse-shot to hit him full in the left side and wound him mortally. And albeit she took from him his being and his life, yet could she not in one single respect take away his magnanimity and his vigor so long as his body had sense, as he well showed out of his own mouth, for, having fallen when he was hit, he told certain of his most faithful friends who were nigh him, and especially the Gascon captain, Jonas, to cover him with a cloak and take him away, that his death might not give occasion to the others to leave an enterprise so well begun. . . . Just then, as M. de Bourbon had recommended,—to cover and hide his body,—so did his men; in such sort that the escalade and assault went on so furiously that the town, after a little resistance, was carried; and the soldiers, having by this time got wind of his death, fought the more furiously that it might be avenged, the which it certainly was right well, for they set up a shout of, ‘Slay, slay! blood, blood! Bourbon, Bourbon!’” [Brantome, t. i. pp. 262-269.]

The celebrated artist-in-gold, Benvenuto Cellini, says, in his Life written by himself, that it was he who, from the top of the wall of the Campo Santo at Rome, aiming his arquebuse at the midst of a group of besiegers, amongst whom he saw one man mounted higher than the rest, hit him, and that he then saw an extraordinary commotion around this man, who was Bourbon, as he found out afterwards. [Vita di Benvenuto Cellini, ch. xvii. pp. 157-159.] “I have heard say at Rome,” says Brantome on the contrary, “that it was held that he who fired that wretched arquebuse-shot was a priest.” [Brantome, t. ii. p. 268.]

Whatever hand it was that shot down Bourbon, Rome, after his death, was plundered, devastated and ravaged by a brutal, greedy, licentious, and fanatical soldiery. Europe was moved at the story of the sack of Rome and the position of the pope, who had taken refuge in the castle of St. Angelo. Francis I. and Henry VIII. renewed their alliance; and a French army under the command of Lautrec advanced into Italy. Charles V., fearing lest it should make a rapid march to Rome and get possession of the pope whilst delivering him from captivity, entered into negotiations with him; and, in consideration of certain concessions to the emperor, it was arranged that the pope should be set at liberty without delay. Clement VII. was so anxious to get out of his position, lately so perilous and even now so precarious, that he slank out of the castle of St. Angelo in the disguise of a tradesman the very night before the day fixed by the emperor for his liberation; and he retired to Orvieto, on the territory occupied by the French army. During this confusion of things in Italy, Charles V. gave orders for arresting in Spain the ambassadors of Francis I. and of Henry VIII., who were in alliance against him, and who, on their side, sent him two heralds-at-arms to declare war against him. Charles V. received them in open audience at Burgos, on the 22d of January, 1528. “I am very much astonished,” said he to the French envoy, “to find the King of France declaring against me a war which he has been carrying on for seven years; he is not in a position to address to me such a declaration; he is my prisoner. Why has he taken no notice of what I said to his ambassador immediately after his refusal to execute the treaty of Madrid?” Charles V. now repeated, in the very terms addressed to the French ambassador, the communication to which he alluded: “The king your master acted like a Bastard and a scoundrel in not keeping his word that he gave me touching the treaty of Madrid; if he likes to say to the contrary, I will maintain it against him with my body to his.” When these words were reported to Francis I., he summoned, on the 27th of March, 1528, the princes of the blood, the cardinals, the prelates, the grandees of the kingdom, and the ministers from foreign courts, and, after having given a vivid account of his relations with Charles V., “I am not the prisoner of Charles,” he said: “I have not given him my word; we have never met with arms in our hands.” He then handed his herald, Guyenne, a cartel written with his own hand, and ending with these words addressed to Charles V.: “We give you to understand that, if you have intended or do intend to charge us with anything that a gentleman loving his honor ought not to do, we say that you have lied in your throat, and that, as often as you say so, you will lie. Wherefore for the future write us nothing at all; but appoint us the time and place of meeting, and we will bring our sword for you to cross; protesting that the shame of any delay in fighting shall be yours, seeing that, when it comes to an encounter, there is an end of all writing.” Charles V. did not receive Francis I.‘s challenge till the 8th of June; when he, in his turn, consulted the grandees of his kingdom, amongst others the Duke of Infantado, one of the most considerable in rank and character, who answered him in writing: “The jurisdiction of arms extends exclusively to obscure and foggy matters in which the ordinary rules of justice are at a discount; but, when one can appeal to oaths and authentic acts, I do not think that it is allowable to come to blows before having previously tried the ordinary ways of justice. . . It seems to me that this law of honor applies to princes, however great they may be, as well as to knights. It would be truly strange, my lord, that a debt so serious, so universally recognized, as that contracted by the King of France, should be discharged by means of a personal challenge.” Charles V. thereupon sent off his herald, Burgundy, with orders to carry to Francis I. “an appointment for a place of meeting between Fontarabia and Andaye, in such a spot as by common consent should be considered most safe and most convenient by gentlemen chosen on each side;” and this offer was accompanied by a long reply which the herald was at the same time to deliver to the King of France, whilst calling on him to declare his intention within forty days after the delivery of that letter, dated the 24th of June, “in default whereof,” said Charles, “the delay in fighting will be yours.”

Francis I.——115

On arriving at the frontier of France the Spanish herald demanded a safe-conduct. He was made to wait seven weeks, from the 30th of June to the 19th of August, without the king’s cognizance, it is said. At last, on the 19th of September, 1528, Burgundy entered Paris, and was conducted to the palace. Francis I. received him in the midst of his court; and, as soon as he observed the entrance of the herald, who made obeisance preliminary to addressing him, “Herald,” cried the king, “all thy letters declare that thou bringest appointment of time and place; dost thou bring it?” “Sir,” answered the Spaniard, “permit me to do my office, and say what the emperor has charged me to say.” “Nay, I will not listen to thee,” said Francis, “if thou do not first give me a patent signed by thy master, containing an appointment of time and place.” “Sir, I have orders to read you the cartel, and give it you afterwards.” “How, pray!” cried the king, rising up angrily: “doth thy master pretend to introduce new fashions in my kingdom, and give me laws in my own court?” Burgundy, without being put out, began again: “Sir, . . . “ “Nay,” said Francis, “I will not suffer him to speak to me before he has given me appointment of time and place. Give it me, or return as thou hast come.” “Sir, I cannot, without your permission, do my office; if you will not deign to grant it to me, let me have your refusal handed me, and your ratification I of my safe-conduct for my return.” “I am quite willing,” said the king; “let him have it!” Burgundy set off again for Madrid, and the incident was differently reported by the two courts; but there was no further question of a duel between the two kings.

One would not think of attempting to decide, touching this question of single combat, how far sincerity was on the side of Francis or of Charles. No doubt they were both brave; the former with more brilliancy than his rival, the latter, at need, with quite as much firmness. But in sending challenges one to the other, as they did on this occasion, they were obeying a dying-out code, and rather attempting to keep up chivalrous appearances than to put seriously in practice the precedents of their ancestors. It was no longer a time when the fate of a people could be placed in the hands of a few valiant warriors, such as the three Horatii and the three Curiatii, or the thirty Bretons and thirty English. The era of great nations and great contests was beginning, and one is inclined to believe that Francis I. and Charles V. were themselves aware that their mutual challenges would not come to any personal encounter. The war which continued between them in Italy was not much more serious or decisive; both sides were weary of it, and neither one nor the other of the two sovereigns espied any great chances of success. The French army was wasting itself, in the kingdom of Naples, upon petty, inconclusive engagements; its commander, Lautrec, died of the plague on the 15th of August, 1528; a desire for peace became day by day stronger; it was made, first of all, at Barcelona, on the 20th of June, 1529, between Charles V. and Pope Clement VII.; and then a conference was opened at Cambrai for the purpose of bringing it about between Charles V. and Francis I. likewise. Two women, Francis I.‘s mother and Charles V.‘s aunt, Louise of Savoy and Margaret of Austria, had the real negotiation of it; they had both of them acquired the good sense and the moderation which come from experience of affairs and from difficulties in life; they did not seek to give one another mutual surprises and to play-off one another reciprocally; they resided in two contiguous houses, between which they had caused a communication to be made on the inside, and they conducted the negotiation with so much discretion, that the petty Italian princes who were interested in it did not know the results of it until peace was concluded on the 5th of August, 1529. Francis I. yielded on all the Italian and Flemish questions; and Charles V. gave up Burgundy, and restored to liberty the King of France’s two sons, prisoners at Madrid, in consideration of a ransom put at two millions of crowns and of having the marriage completed between his sister Eleanor and Francis I. King Henry VIII. complained that not much account had been made of him, either during the negotiations or in the treaty; but his discontent was short-lived, and he none the less came to the assistance of Francis I. in the money-questions to which the treaty gave rise. Of the Italian states, Venice was most sacrificed in this accommodation between the kings. “The city of Cambrai,” said the doge, Andrew Gritti, “is the purgatory of the Venetians; it is the place where emperors and kings of France make the Republic expiate the sin of having ever entered into alliance with them.” Francis went to Bordeaux to meet his sons and his new wife. At Bordeaux, Cognac, Amboise, Blois, and Paris, galas, both at court and amongst the people, succeeded one another for six months; and Europe might consider itself at peace.

The peace of Cambrai was called the ladies’ peace, in honor of the two princesses who had negotiated it. Though morally different and of very unequal worth, they both had minds of a rare order, and trained to recognize political necessities, and not to attempt any but possible successes. They did not long survive their work: Margaret of Austria died on the 1st of December, 1530, and Louise of Savoy on the 22d of September, 1531. All the great political actors seemed hurrying away from the stage, as if the drama were approaching its end. Pope Clement VII. died on the 26th of September, 1534. He was a man of sense and moderation; he tried to restore to Italy her independence, but he forgot that a moderate policy is, above all, that which requires most energy and perseverance. These two qualities he lacked totally; he oscillated from one camp to the other without ever having any real influence anywhere. A little before his death he made France a fatal present; for, on the 28th of October, 1533, he married his niece Catherine de’ Medici to Francis I.‘s second son, Prince Henry of Valois, who by the death of his elder brother, the Dauphin Francis, soon afterwards became heir to the throne. The chancellor, Anthony Duprat, too, the most considerable up to that time amongst the advisers of Francis I., died on the 9th of July, 1535. According to some historians, when he heard, in the preceding year, of Pope Clement VII.‘s death, he had conceived a hope, being already Archbishop of Sens, and a cardinal, of succeeding him; and he spoke to the king about it. “Such an election would cost too dear,” said Francis I.; “the appetite of cardinals is insatiable; I could not satisfy it.” “Sir,” replied Duprat, “France will not have to bear the expense; I will provide for it; there are four hundred thousand crowns ready for that purpose.” “Where did you get all that money, pray?” asked Francis, turning his back upon him; and next day he caused a seizure to be made of a portion of the chancellor-cardinal’s property. “This, then,” exclaimed Duprat, “is the king’s gratitude towards the minister who has served him body and soul!” “What has the cardinal to complain of?” said the king: “I am only doing to him what he has so often advised me to do to others.” [Trois Magestrats Francais du Seizieme Siecle, by Edouard Faye de Brys, 1844, pp. 77-79.] The last of the chancellor’s biographers, the Marquis Duprat, one of his descendants, has disputed this story. [Vie d’Antoine Duprat, 1857, p. 364.] However that may be, it is certain that Chancellor Duprat, at his death, left a very large fortune, which the king caused to be seized, and which he partly appropriated. We read in the contemporary Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris [published by Ludovic Lalanne, 1854, p. 460], “When the chancellor was at the point of death, the king sent M. de Bryon, Admiral of France, who had orders to have everything seized and all his property placed in the king’s hands. . . . They found in his place at Nantouillet eight hundred thousand crowns, and all his gold and silver plate . . . and in his Hercules-house, close to the Augustins’, at Paris, where he used to stay during his life-time, the sum of three hundred thousand livres, which were in coffers bound with iron, and which were carried off by the king for and to his own profit.” In the civil as well as in the military class, for his government as well as for his armies, Francis I. had, at this time, to look out for new servants.

He did not find such as have deserved a place in history. After the deaths of Louise of Savoy, of Chancellor Duprat, of La Tremoille, of La Palice, and of all the great warriors who fell at the battle of Pavia, it was still one more friend of Francis I.‘s boyhood, Anne de Montmorency, who remained, in council as well as army, the most considerable and the most devoted amongst his servants. In those days of war and discord, fraught with violence, there was no man who was more personally rough and violent than Montmorency. From 1521 to 1541, as often as circumstances became pressing, he showed himself ready for anything and capable of anything in defence of the crown and the re-establishment of order. “Go hang me such a one,” he would say, according to Brantome. “Tie you fellow to this tree; give yonder one the pike or arquebuse, and all before my eyes; cut me in pieces all those rascals who chose to hold such a clock-case as this against the king; burn me this village; set me everything a-blaze, for a quarter of a league all round.” In 1548, a violent outbreak took place at Bordeaux on account of the gabel or salt-tax; and the king’s lieutenant was massacred in it. Anne de Montmorency, whom the king had made constable in 1538, the fifth of his family invested with that dignity, repaired thither at once. “Aware of his coming,” says Brantome, “MM. de Bordeaux went two days’ journey to meet him and carry him the keys of their city: ‘Away, away,’ said he, ‘with your keys; I will have nothing to do with them; I have others which I am bringing with me, and which will make other sort of opening than yours (meaning his cannon); I will have you all hanged; I will teach you to rebel against your king, and kill his governor and lieutenant.’ Which he did not fail to do,” adds Brantome, “and inflicted exemplary punishment, but not so severe assuredly as the case required.” The narrator, it will be seen, was not more merciful than the constable. Nor was the constable less stern or less thorough in battles than in outbreaks. In 1562, at the battle of Dreux, he was aged and so ill that none expected to see him on horseback. “But in the morning,” says Brantome, “knowing that the enemy was getting ready, he, brimful of courage, gets out of bed, mounts his horse, and appears at the moment the march began; whereof I do remember me, for I saw him and heard him, when M. de Guise came forward to meet him to give him good day, and ask how he was. He, fully armed, save only his head, answered him, ‘Right well, sir: this is the real medicine that hath cured me for the battle which is toward and a-preparing for the honor of God and our king.’” In spite of this indomitable aptness for rendering the king everywhere the most difficult, nay, the most pitiless services, the Constable de Montmorency none the less incurred, in 1541, the disfavor of Francis I.; private dissensions in the royal family, the intrigues of rivals at court, and the enmity of the king’s mistress, the Duchess of Etampes, effaced the remembrance of all he had done and might still do. He did accept his disgrace; he retired first to Chantilly, and then to Ecouen; and there he waited for the dauphin, when he became King Henry II., to recall him to his side and restore to him the power which Francis I., on his very death-bed, had dissuaded his son from giving back. The ungratefulnesses of kings are sometimes as capricious as their favors.

The ladies’ peace, concluded at Cambrai in 1529, lasted up to 1536; incessantly troubled, however, by far from pacific symptoms, proceedings, and preparations. In October, 1532, Francis I. had, at Calais, an interview with Henry VIII., at which they contracted a private alliance, and undertook “to raise between them an army of eighty thousand men to resist the Turk, as true zealots for the good of Christendom.” The Turks, in fact, under their great sultan, Soliman II., were constantly threatening and invading Eastern Europe. Charles V., as Emperor of Germany, was far more exposed to their attacks and far more seriously disquieted by them than Francis I. and Henry VIII. were; but the peril that hung over him in the East urged him on at the same time to a further development of ambition and strength; in order to defend Eastern Europe against the Turks he required to be dominant in Western Europe; and in that very part of Europe a large portion of the population were disposed to wish for his success, for they required it for their own security. “To read all that was spread abroad hither and thither,” says William du Bellay, “it seemed that the said lord the emperor was born into this world to have fortune at his beck and call.” Two brothers, Mussulman pirates, known under the name of Barbarossa, had become masters, one of Algiers and the other of Tunis, and were destroying, in the Mediterranean, the commerce and navigation of Christian states. It was Charles V. who tackled them. In 1535 he took Tunis, set at liberty twenty thousand Christian slaves, and remained master of the regency. At the news of this expedition, Francis I., who, in concert with Henry VIII., was but lately levying an army to “offer resistance,” he said, “to the Turk,” entered into negotiations with Soliman II., and concluded a friendly treaty with him against what was called the common enemy. Francis had been for some time preparing to resume his projects of conquest in Italy; he had effected an interview at Marseilles, in October, 1533, with Pope Clement VII., who was almost at the point of death, and it was there that the marriage of Prince Henry of France with Catherine de’ Medici was settled. Astonishment was expressed that the pope’s niece had but a very moderate dowry. “You don’t see, then,” said Clement VII.‘s ambassador, “that she brings France three jewels of great price, Genoa, Milan, and Naples?” When this language was reported at the court of Charles V., it caused great irritation there. In 1536 all these combustibles of war exploded; in the month of February, a French army entered Piedmont, and occupied Turin; and, in the month of July, Charles V. in person entered Provence at the head of fifty thousand men. Anne de Montmorency having received orders to defend southern France, began by laying it waste in order that the enemy might not be able to live in it; officers had orders to go everywhere and “break up the bake-houses and mills, burn the wheat and forage, pierce the wine-casks, and ruin the wells by throwing the wheat into them to spoil the water.” In certain places the inhabitants resisted the soldiers charged with this duty; elsewhere, from patriotism, they themselves set fire to their corn-ricks and pierced their casks. Montmorency made up his mind to defend, on the whole coast of Provence, only Marseilles and Arles; he pulled down the ramparts of the other towns, which were left exposed to the enemy. For two months Charles V. prosecuted this campaign without a fight, marching through the whole of Provence an army which fatigue, shortness of provisions, sickness, and ambuscades were decimating ingloriously. At last he decided upon retreating. “From Aix to Frejus, where the emperor at his arrival had pitched his camp, all the roads were strewn with the sick and the dead pell-mell, with harness, lances, pikes, arquebuses, and other armor of men and horses gathered in a heap. I say what I saw,” adds Martin du Bellay, “considering the toil I had with my company in this pursuit.” At the village of Mery, near Frejus, some peasants had shut themselves up in a tower situated on the line of march; Charles V. ordered one of his captains to carry it by assault; from his splendid uniform the peasants, it is said, took this officer for the emperor himself, and directed their fire upon him; the officer, mortally wounded, was removed to Nice, where he died at the end of a few days. It was Garcilaso de la Vega, the prince of Spanish poesy, the Spanish Petrarch, according to his fellow-countrymen. The tower was taken, and Charles V. avenged his poet’s death by hanging twenty-five of these patriot-peasants, being all that survived of the fifty who had maintained the defence.

On returning from his sorry expedition, Charles V. learned that those of his lieutenants whom he had charged with the conduct of a similar invasion in the north of France, in Picardy, had met with no greater success than he himself in Provence. Queen Mary of Hungary, his sister and deputy in the government of the Low Countries, advised a local truce; his other sister, Eleanor, the Queen of France, was of the same opinion; Francis I. adopted it; and the truce in the north was signed for a period of three months. Montmorency signed a similar one for Piedmont. It was agreed that negotiations for a peace should be opened at Locate in Roussillon, and that, to pursue them, Francis should go and take up his quarters at Montpellier, and Charles V. at Barcelona. Pope Paul III. (Alexander Farnese), who, on the 13th of October, 1534, had succeeded Clement VII., came forward as mediator. He was a man of capacity, who had the gift of resolutely continuing a moderate course of policy, well calculated to gain time, but insufficient for the settlement of great and difficult questions. The two sovereigns refused to see one another officially; they did not like the idea of discussing together their mutual pretensions, and they were so different in character that, as Marguerite de Valois used to say, “to bring them to accord, God would have had to re-make one in the other’s image.” They would only consent to treat by agents; and on the 15th of June, 1538, they signed a truce for ten years, rather from weariness of a fruitless war than from any real desire of peace; they, both of them, wanted time to bring them unforeseen opportunities for getting out of their embarrassments. But for all their refusal to take part in set negotiations, they were both desirous of being personally on good terms again, and to converse together without entering into any engagement. Charles V. being forced by contrary winds to touch at the Island of Sainte-Marie, made a proposal to Francis I. for an interview at Aigues Mortes; Francis repaired thither on the 14th of July, 1538, and went, the very same day, in a small galley, to pay a visit to the emperor, who stepped eagerly forward, and held out a hand to him to help him on to the other vessel. Next day, the 15th of July, Charles V., embarking on board one of the king’s frigates, went and returned the visit at Aigues-Mortes, where Francis, with his whole court, was awaiting him; after disembarkation at the port they embraced; and Queen Eleanor, glad to see them together, “embraced them both,” says an eyewitness, “a round the waist.” They entered the town amidst the roar of artillery and the cheers of the multitude, shouting, “Hurrah! for the emperor and the king!” The dauphin, Henry, and his brother Charles, Duke of Orleans, arriving boot and spur from Provence, came up at this moment, shouting likewise, “Hurrah! for the emperor and the king!” “Charles V. dropped on his knees,” says the narrator, and embraced the two young princes affectionately. They all repaired together to the house prepared for their reception, and, after dinner, the emperor, being tired, lay down to rest on a couch. Queen Eleanor, before long, went and tapped at his door, and sent word to the king that the emperor was awake. Francis, with the Cardinal de Lorraine and the Constable de Montmorency, soon arrived. On entering the chamber, he found the emperor still lying down and chatting with his sister the queen, who was seated beside him on a chair. At sight of the king Charles V. sprang from the couch and went towards him without any shoes on. “Well, brother,” said the king, “how do you feel? Have you rested well?” “Yes,” said Charles; “I had made such cheer that I was obliged to sleep it off.” “I wish you,” said Francis, “to have the same power in France as you have in Flanders and in Spain;” whereupon he gave him, as a mark of affection, a diamond valued at thirty thousand crowns, and having on the ring in which it was set this inscription: “A token and proof of affection” (Dilectionis testis et exemplum). Charles put the ring on his finger; and, taking from his neck the collar of the order (the Golden Fleece) he was wearing, he put it upon the king’s neck. Francis did the converse with his own collar. Only seven of the attendants remained in the emperor’s chamber; and there the two sovereigns conversed for an hour, after which they moved to the hall, where a splendid supper awaited them. After supper the queen went in person to see if the emperor’s room was ready; she came back to tell him when it was, and Charles V. retired. Next morning, July 16, Francis went to see him again in his room; they heard mass together; Charles re-embarked the same day for Spain; Francis I. went and slept, on the 17th, at Nimes; and thus ended this friendly meeting, which left, if not the principal actors, at any rate the people all around, brimful of satisfaction, and feeling sure that the truce concluded in the previous month would really at last be peace. The people are easily deceived; and whenever they are pleased with appearances they readily take them for realities.

An unexpected event occurred to give this friendly meeting at Aigues-Mortes a value which otherwise it would probably never have attained. A year afterwards, in August, 1539, a violent insurrection burst out at Ghent. The fair deputy of the Low Countries had obtained from the estates of Flanders a gratuitous grant of twelve hundred thousand florins for the assistance of her brother the emperor, whom his unfortunate expedition in Provence had reduced to great straits for want of money; and the city of Ghent had been taxed, for its share, to the extent of four hundred thousand florins. The Ghentese pleaded their privilege of not being liable to be taxed without their own consent. To their plea Charles V. responded by citing the vote of the estates of Flanders and giving orders to have it obeyed. The Ghentese drove out the officers of the emperor, entered upon open rebellion, incited the other cities of Flanders, Ypres and Bruges amongst the rest, to join them, and, taking even more decisive action, sent a deputation to Francis I., as their own lord’s suzerain, demanding his support, and offering to make him master of the Low Countries if he would be pleased to give them effectual assistance. The temptation was great; but whether it were from prudence or from feudal loyalty, or in consequence of the meeting at Aigues-Mortes, and of the prospects set before him by Charles of an arrangement touching Milaness, Francis rejected the offer of the Ghentese, and informed Charles V. of it. The emperor determined resolutely upon the course of going in person and putting down the Ghentese; but how to get to Ghent? The sea was not safe; the rebels had made themselves masters of all the ports on their coasts; the passage by way of Germany was very slow work, and might be difficult by reason of ill-will on the part of the Protestant states which would have to be traversed. France was the only direct and quick route. Charles V. sent to ask Francis I. for a passage, whilst thanking him for the loyalty with which he had rejected the offers of the Ghentese, and repeating to him the fair words that had been used as to Milaness. Francis announced to his council his intention of granting the emperor’s request. Some of his councillors pressed him to annex some conditions, such, at the least, as a formal and written engagement instead of the vague and verbal promises at Aigues-Mortes. “No,” said the king, with the impulsiveness of his nature, “when you do a generous thing, you must do it completely and boldly.” On leaving the council he met his court-fool Triboulet, whom he found writing in his tablets, called Fools’ Diary, the name of Charles V., “A bigger fool than I,” said he, “if he comes passing through France.” “What wilt thou say, if I let him pass?” said the king. “I will rub out his name and put yours in its place.” Francis I. was not content with letting Charles V. pass; he sent his two sons, the dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, as far as Bayonne to meet him, went in person to receive him at Chatellerault, and gave him entertainments at Amboise, at Blois, at Chambord, at Orleans, and Fontainebleau, and lastly at Paris, which they entered together on the 1st of January, 1540. Orders had been sent everywhere to receive him “as kings of France are received on their joyous accession.” “The king gave his guest,” says Du Bellay, “all the pleasures that can be invented, as royal hunts, tourneys, skirmishes, fights a-foot and a-horseback, and in all other sorts of pastimes.” Some petty incidents, of a less reassuring kind, were intermingled with these entertainments. One day the Duke of Orleans, a young prince full of reckless gayety, jumped suddenly on to the crupper of the emperor’s horse, and threw his arms round Charles, shouting, “Your Imperial Majesty is my prisoner.” Charles set off at a gallop, without turning his head.

The Duke of Orleans and Charles V.——128

Another day the king’s favorite, the Duchess of Etampes, was present with the two monarchs. “Brother,” said Francis, “you see yonder a fair dame who is of opinion that I should not let you out of Paris without your having revoked the treaty of Madrid.” “Ah! well,” said Charles, “if the opinion is a good one, it must be followed.” Such freedom of thought and speech is honorable to both sovereigns. Charles V., impressed with the wealth and cheerful industry that met his eye, said, according to Brantome, “There is not in the world any greatness such as that of a King of France.” After having passed a week at Paris he started for the Low Countries, halted at Chantilly, at the Constable de Montmorency’s, who, as well as the king’s two sons, the dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, was in attendance upon him, and did not separate from his escort of French royalty until he arrived at Valenciennes, the first town in his Flemish dominions. According to some historians there had been at Chantilly, amongst the two young princes and their servants, some idea of seizing the emperor and detaining him until he had consented to the concessions demanded of him; others merely say that the constable, before leaving him, was very urgent with him that he should enter into some positive engagement as to Milaness. “No,” said Charles, “I must not bind myself any more than I have done by my words as long as I am in your power; when I have chastised my rebellious subjects I will content your king.”

He did chastise, severely, his Flemish subjects, but he did not content the King of France. Francis I. was not willing to positively renounce his Italian conquests, and Charles V. was not willing to really give them up to him. Milaness was still, in Italy, the principal object of their mutual ambition. Navarre, in the south-east of France, and the Low Countries in the north, gave occasion for incessantly renewed disputes between them. The two sovereigns sought for combinations which would allow them to make, one to the other, the desired concessions, whilst still preserving pretexts for and chances of recovering them. Divers projects of marriage between their children or near relatives were advanced with that object, but nothing came of them; and, after two years and a half of abortive negotiations, another great war, the fourth, broke out between Francis I. and Charles V., for the same causes and with the same by-ends as ever. It lasted two years, from 1542 to 1544, with alternations of success and reverse on either side, and several diplomatic attempts to embroil in it the different European powers. Francis I. concluded an alliance in 1543 with Sultan Soliman II., and, in concert with French vessels, the vessels of the pirate Barbarossa cruised about and made attacks upon the shores of the Mediterranean. An outcry was raised against such a scandal as this. “Sir Ambassador,” said Francis I. to Marino Giustiniano, ambassador from Venice, “I cannot deny that I eagerly desire to see the Turk very powerful and ready for war; not on his own account, for he is an infidel and all we are Christians, but in order to cripple the power of the emperor, to force him into great expense, and to give all other governments security against so great an enemy.” “As for me,” says the contemporary Montluc in his Memoires, “if I could summon all the spirits of hell to break the head of my enemy who would fain break mine, I would do it with all my heart, God forgive me!” On the other hand, on the 11th of February, 1543, Charles V. and Henry VIII., King of England, concluded an alliance against Francis I. and the Turks. The unsuccess which had attended the grand expedition conducted by Charles V. personally in 1541, with the view of attacking Barbarossa and the Mussulmans in Algiers itself, had opened his eyes to all the difficulty of such enterprises, and he wished to secure the co-operation of a great maritime power before engaging therein afresh. He at the same time convoked a German diet at Spires in order to make a strong demonstration against the alliance between Francis I. and the Turks, and to claim the support of Germany in the name of Christendom. Ambassadors from the Duke of Savoy and the King of Denmark appeared in support of the propositions and demands of Charles V. The diet did not separate until it had voted twenty-four thousand foot and four thousand horse to be employed against France, and had forbidden Germans, under severe penalties, to take service with Francis I. In 1544 the war thus became almost European, and in the early days of April two armies were concentrated in Piedmont, near the little town of Ceresole, the Spanish twenty thousand strong and the French nineteen thousand; the former under the orders of the Marquis del Guasto, the latter under those of the Count d’Enghien; both ready to deliver a battle which was, according to one side, to preserve Europe from the despotic sway of a single master, and, according to the other, to protect Europe against a fresh invasion of Mussulmans.

Francis of Bourbon, Count d’Enghien, had received from the king a prohibition to give battle. He was believed to be weaker than the Marquis del Guasto, who showed eagerness to deliver it. Convinced that such a position was as demoralizing as it was disagreeable for him, the young Count d’Enghien sent a valiant and intelligent gentleman, Blaise de Montluc, who had already had experience in the great wars of the reign, to carry his representations to the king. Francis I. summoned the messenger to a meeting of the council, at which the dauphin, Henry, stood behind his father’s chair. “Montluc,” said the king, “I wish you to return and report my deliberation and the opinion of my council to M. d’Enghien, and to listen here to the difficulty that stands in the way of our being able to grant him leave to give battle, as he demands.” The Count de St. Pol spoke and set forth the reasons the king had for not desiring battle; and the end of them all was that there was a chance of losing, which would be a matter for regret beyond all comparison with the advantage to be gained from winning. “I stamped with impatience to speak,” says Montluc, “and would have broken in; but M. de St. Pol made me a sign with his hand, saying, ‘Quiet! quiet!’ which made me hold my tongue, and I saw that the king set on a-laughing. Then he told me that he wished me to say freely what I thought about it. ‘I consider myself most happy, sir,’ said I, ‘for when you were dauphin, and before you were called to this great charge which God hath given you, you tried the fortune of war as much as any king that ever hath been in France, without sparing your own person any more than the meanest gentleman. Well, a soldier-king is the only one I can address.’ The dauphin, who was facing me,” continued Montluc, “made me a sign with his head, which caused me to think that he wished me to speak boldly. Then said I, ‘Sir, I count that there will be forty-five hundred or forty-six hundred of us Gascons, all told; and all of us, captains and soldiers, will give you our names and the places whence we come, and will stake our heads that we will fight on the day of battle, if it should please you to grant it. It is a matter that we have been awaiting and desiring this long while, without much taking of counsel; be assured, sir, there are not more resolute soldiers than yonder. There are, besides, thirteen companies of Swiss, who will give you the same pledge as we who are your subjects; and we will hand in to you the names of them all for to be sent to their cantons in order that, if there be any who shall not do his duty, he may die. You have thus nine thousand men and more of whom you may be certain that they will fight to the last gasp of their lives. As for the Italians and Provencals, I will not answer to you for them; but perhaps they will all do as well as we, when they see us getting to work;’ and then I raised my arm up, as if to strike, whereat the king smiled. Sir,’ said I, ‘I have heard from wise captains that it is not the great number that wins, but the stout heart; on a day of battle, a moiety doth not fight at all. We desire no more; leave it to us.’ The king, who had very favorably listened to me, and who took pleasure in seeing my impatience, turned his eyes towards M. de St. Pol, who said, ‘Sir, would you change your opinion at the words of this madcap, who has no thought for the calamity it would be if we were to lose the battle? It is a matter too important to be left for settlement to the brains of a young Gascon.’ I answered him, ‘Sir, let me assure you that I am no braggart, nor so hare-brained as you consider me. All we have to do is not to go and attack the enemy in a stronghold, as we did at La Bicocca; but M. d’Enghien has too many good and veteran captains about him to commit such an error. The only question will be to find means of coming at them in open country, where there is neither hedge nor ditch to keep us from setting to work; and then, sir, you shall hear talk of the most furious fights that ever were. I do entreat you most humbly, sir, to admit no thought of anything but a victory.’ The dauphin,” continues Montluc, “went on more and more smiling, and making signs to me, which gave me still greater boldness in speaking. All the rest spoke and said that the king must not place any reliance upon my words. Admiral d’Annebaut said not a syllable, but smiled; I suppose he had seen the signs the dauphin was making to me. M. de St. Pol turns to speak to the king, and says, ‘How, sir! You seem disposed to change your opinion, and listen to the words of this rabid madman!’ To whom the king replied, ‘On my honor as a gentleman, cousin, he has given me such great and clear reasons, and has represented to me so well the good courage of my men, that I know not what to do.’ ‘I see quite well,’ said the Lord of St. Pol, ‘that you have already turned round.’ Whereupon the king, addressing the admiral, asked him what he thought about it. ‘Sir,’ answered the admiral, ‘you have a great mind to give them leave to fight. I will not be surety to you, if they fight, for gain or loss, since God alone can know about that; but I will certainly pledge you my life and my honor that all they whom he has mentioned to you will fight, and like good men and true, for I know what they are worth from having commanded them. Only do one thing; we know well that you are half brought round and inclined rather to fighting than the contrary; make, then, your prayer to God, and entreat Him to be pleased this once to aid you and counsel you as to what you ought to do.’ Then the king lifted his eyes towards heaven, and, clasping his hands and throwing his cap upon the table, said, ‘O God, I entreat Thee that it may please Thee to this day give me counsel as to what I ought to do for the preservation of my kingdom, and that all may be to Thy honor and glory!’ Whereupon the admiral asked him, ‘Sir, what opinion occurs to you now?’ The king, after pausing a little, turned towards me, saying, with a sort of shout, ‘Let them fight! let them fight!’ ‘Well, then, there is no more to be said,’ replied the admiral; ‘if you lose, you alone will be the cause of the loss; and, if you win, in like manner; and you, all alone, will have the satisfaction of it, you alone having given the leave.’ Then the king and every one rose up, and, as for me, I tingled with joy. His Majesty began talking with the admiral about my despatch and about giving orders for the pay which was in arrears. And M. de St. Pol accosted me, saying with a laugh, ‘Rabid madman, thou wilt be cause of the greatest weal that could happen to the king, or of the greatest woe.’”

Montluc’s boldness and Francis I.‘s confidence in yielding to it were not unrewarded. The battle was delivered at Ceresole on the 14th of April, 1544; it was bravely disputed and for some time indecisive, even in the opinion of the anxious Count d’Enghien, who was for a while in an awkward predicament; but the ardor of the Gascons and the firmness of the Swiss prevailed, and the French army was victorious. Montluc was eagerly desirous of being commissioned to go and carry to the king the news of the victory which he had predicted and to which he had contributed; but another messenger had the preference; and he does not, in his Memoires, conceal his profound discontent; but he was of those whom their discontent does not dishearten, and he continued serving his king and his country with such rigorous and stubborn zeal as was destined hereafter, in the reign of Henry III., to make him Marshal of France at last. He had to suffer a disappointment more serious than that which was personal to himself; the victory of Ceresole had not the results that might have been expected. The war continued; Charles V. transferred his principal efforts therein to the north, on the frontiers of the Low Countries and France, having concluded an alliance with Henry VIII. for acting in concert and on the offensive. Champagne and Picardy were simultaneously invaded by the Germans and the English; Henry VIII. took Boulogne; Charles V. advanced as far as Chateau-Thierry and threatened Paris. Great was the consternation there; Francis I. hurried up from Fontainebleau and rode about the streets, accompanied by the Duke of Guise, and everywhere saying, “If I cannot keep you from fear, I will keep you from harm.” “My God,” he had exclaimed, as he started from Fontainebleau, “how dear Thou sellest me my kingdom!” The people recovered courage and confidence; they rose in a body; forty thousand armed militiamen defiled, it is said, before the king. The army arrived by forced marches, and took post between Paris and Chateau-Thierry.

Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Guise——130

Charles V. was not rash; he fell back to Crespy in Laonness, some few leagues from his Low Countries. Negotiations were opened; and Francis I., fearing least Henry VIII., being master of Boulogne, should come and join Charles V., ordered his negotiator, Admiral d’Annebaut, to accept the emperor’s offers, “for fear lest he should rise higher in his demands when he knew that Boulogne was in the hands of the King of England.” The demands were hard, but a little less so than those made in 1540; Charles V. yielded on some special points, being possessed beyond everything with the desire of securing Francis I.‘s co-operation in the two great contests he was maintaining, against the Turks in eastern Europe and against the Protestants in Germany. Francis I. conceded everything in respect of the European policy in order to retain his rights over Milaness and to recover the French towns on the Somme. Peace was signed at Crespy on the 18th of September, 1544; and it was considered so bad an one that the dauphin thought himself bound to protest, first of all secretly before notaries and afterwards at Fontainebleau, on the 12th of December, in the presence of three princes of the royal house. This feeling was so general that several great bodies, amongst others the Parliament of Toulouse (on the 22d of January, 1545), followed the dauphin’s example.

Francis I. was ill, saddened, discouraged, and still he thought of nothing but preparing for a fifth great campaign against Charles V. Since his glorious victory at Melegnano in the beginning of his reign, fortune had almost invariably forsaken his policy and all his enterprises, whether of war or of diplomacy; but, falling at one time a victim to the defects of his mind and character, and being at another hurried away by his better qualities and his people’s sympathy, he took no serious note of the true causes or the inevitable consequences of his reverses, and realized nothing but their outward and visible signs, whilst still persisting in the same hopeful illusions and the same ways of government. Happily for the lustre of his reign and the honor of his name, he had desires and tastes independent of the vain and reckless policy practised by him with such alternations of rashness and feebleness as were more injurious to the success of his designs than to his personal renown, which was constantly recovering itself through the brilliancy of his courage, the generous though superficial instincts of his soul, and the charm of a mind animated by a sincere though ill-regulated sympathy for all the beautiful works of mankind in literature, science, and art, and for all that does honor and gives embellishment to the life of human beings.







Francis I.——137

Francis I., in his life as a king and a soldier, had two rare pieces of good fortune: two great victories, Melegnano and Ceresole, stand out at the beginning and the end of his reign; and in his direst defeat, at Pavia, he was personally a hero. In all else, as regards his government, his policy was neither an able nor a successful one; for two and thirty years he was engaged in plans, attempts, wars, and negotiations; he failed in all his designs; he undertook innumerable campaigns or expeditions that came to nothing; he concluded forty treaties of war, peace, or truce, incessantly changing aim, and cause, and allies; and, for all this incoherent activity, he could not manage to conquer either the empire or Italy; he brought neither aggrandizement nor peace to France.

Outside of the political arena, in quite a different field of ideas and facts, that is, in the intellectual field, Francis I. did better and succeeded better. In this region he exhibited an instinct and a taste for the grand and the beautiful; he had a sincere love for literature, science, and art; he honored and protected, and effectually too, their works and their representatives. And therein it is that more than one sovereign and more than one age have found their purest glory to consist. Virgil, Horace, and Livy contributed quite as much as the foundation of the empire to shed lustre on the reign of Augustus. Bossuet, Pascal, and Fenelon, Corneille, Racine, Boileau, Moliere, and La Fontaine, count for quite as much as his great warriors and his able administrators in regard to the splendor of the age of Louis XIV. People are quite right to set this estimate upon the heroes of the human mind and upon their works; their portion in the history of mankind is certainly not the most difficult, but it is that which provides both those who give and those who take with the purest delights, and which is the least dear in respect of what it costs the nation.

The reign of Francis I. occupies the first half of the century (the sixteenth), which has been called the age of Renaissance. Taken absolutely, and as implying a renaissance, following upon a decay of science, literature, and art, the expression is exaggerated, and goes beyond the truth; it is not true that the five centuries which rolled by between the establishment of the Capetians and the accession of Francis I. (from 987 to 1515), were a period of intellectual barrenness and decay; the middle ages, amidst the anarchy, violence, and calamities of their social condition, had, in philosophy, literature, and art, works of their own and a glory of their own, which lacked not originality, or brilliancy, or influence over subsequent ages. There is no idea of telling their history here; we only desire to point out, with some sort of precision, their special character and their intellectual worth.

At such a period, what one would scarcely expect to find is intellectual ambition on a very extensive scale and great variety in the branches of knowledge and in the scope of ideas. And yet it is in the thirteenth century that we meet for the first time in Europe and in France with the conception and the execution of a vast repertory of different scientific and literary works produced by the brain of man, in fact with a veritable Encyclopaedia. It was a monk, a preaching friar, a simple Dominican reader (lector qualiscumque), whose life was passed, as he himself says, by the side and under the eye of the superior-general of his order, who undertook and accomplished this great labor. Vincent of Beauvais, born at Beauvais between 1184 and 1194, who died at his native place in 1264, an insatiable glutton for books (librorum helluo), say his contemporaries, collected and edited what he called Bibliotheca Mundi, Speculum majus (Library of the World, an enlarged Mirror), an immense compilation, the first edition of which, published at Strasbourg in 1473, comprises ten volumes folio, and would comprise fifty or sixty volumes octavo. The work contains three, and, according to some manuscripts, four parts, entitled Speculum naturale (Mirror of Natural Science), Speculum historiale (Mirror of Historical Science), Speculum doctrinale (Mirror of Metaphysical Science), and Speculum morale (Mirror of Moral Science). M. Daunou, in the notice he has given to it [in the xviiith volume of the Histoire litteraire de la France, begun by the Benedictines and continued by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belleslettres de l’Institut, pp. 449-519], disputes, not without reason, the authenticity of this last part. Each of these Specula contains a summary, extracted from the various writings which have reference to the subject of it, and the authors of which Vincent of Beauvais takes care to name. M. Daunou, at the end of his learned notice, has described the nature, the merit, and the interest of the work in the following terms: “The writings and documents which we have to thank Vincent of Beauvais for having preserved to us are such as pertain to veritable studies, to doctrines, to traditions, and even to errors which obtained a certain amount of credit or exercised a certain amount of influence in the course of ages. . . . Whenever it is desirable to know what were in France, about 1250, the tendency and the subjects of the most elevated studies, what sciences were cultivated, what books, whether ancient, or, for the time, modern, were or might have been read, what questions were in agitation, what doctrines were prevalent in schools, monasteries, churches, and the world, it will be to Vincent of Beauvais, above all, that recourse must be had.” There is nothing to be added to this judicious estimate; there is no intention of entering here into any sort of detail about the work of Vincent of Beauvais; only it is desirable to bring some light to bear upon the intellectual aspirations and activity of the middle ages in France previously to the new impulse which was to be communicated to them by the glorious renaissance of Greek and Roman antiquity. A scientific, historical, and philosophical encyclopaedia of the thirteenth century surely deserves to find a place in the preface to the sixteenth.

After the encyclopaedist of the middle ages come, naturally, their philosophers. They were numerous; and some of them have remained illustrious. Several of them, at the date of their lives and labors, have already been met with and remarked upon in this history, such as Gerbert of Aurillac, who became Pope Sylvester II., St. Anselm, Abelard, St. Bernard, Robert of Sorbon, founder of the Sorbonne, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas and Abelard——140

To these names, known to every enlightened man, might be added many others less familiar to the public, but belonging to men who held a high place in the philosophical contests of their times, such as John Scot Erigena, Berenger, Roscelin, William of Champeaux, Gilbert of La Poree, &c. The questions which always have taken and always will take a passionate hold of men’s minds in respect of God, the universe, and man, in respect of our origin, our nature, and our destiny, were raised and discussed, from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, if not with so much brilliancy, at any rate with as much boldness and earnest thought, as at any other period. The middle ages had, in France, their spiritualists, their materialists, their pantheists, their rationalists, their mystics, and their sceptics, not very clear or refined in their notions, but such as lacked neither profundity in their general view of the questions, nor ingenious subtilty in their argumentative process. We do not care to give in this place any exposition or estimate of their doctrines; we shall simply point out what there was original and characteristic in their fashion of philosophizing, and wherein their mental condition differed essentially from that which was engendered and propagated, in the sixteenth century, by the resuscitation of Greek and Roman antiquity.

It is the constant idea of the philosophers and theologians of that period to affirm and to demonstrate the agreement between Christian faith and reason. They consider themselves placed between two fixed points, faith in the Christian truths inculcated from the very first or formally revealed by God to man, and reason, which is the faculty given to man to enable him to recognize the truth. “Faith,” wrote Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours, in the eleventh century, “is not contrary to reason, but it is above reason. If, like the philosophers, one willeth not to believe anything but what reason comprehends, faith, in this case, hath no merit. The merit is in believing that which, without being contrary to reason, is above it. . . . Faith is certainty in respect of things which fall not under the perceptions of the body; it is below knowledge, for to believe is less than to know; and it is above opinion, for to believe is more than to imagine.” “I do not seek to understand in order to believe,” says St. Anselm; “I believe in order to understand. . . . Authority requires faith in order to prepare man for reason.” But “authority,” said St. Columban, in the sixth century, “proceeds from right reason, not at all reason from authority. Every authority whereof the decrees are not approved of by right reason appears mighty weak.” Minds so liberal in the face of authority, and at the same time attached to revealed and traditional faith, could not but be sometimes painfully perplexed. “My wounded spirit,” said Adam of the Premontre-order (le premontre), in the twelfth century, “calls to her aid that which is the source of all grace and all life. But where is it? What is it? In her trouble the spirit hath love abiding; but she knows no longer what it is she loves, what she ought to love. She addresseth herself to the stones and to the rocks, and saith to them, ‘What are ye?’ And the stones and the rocks make answer, ‘We are creatures of the same even as thou art.’ To the like question the sun, the moon, and the stars make the like answer. The spirit doth interrogate the sand of the sea, the dust of the earth, the drops of rain, the days of the years, the hours of the days, the moments of the hours, the turf of the fields, the branches of the trees, the leaves of the branches, the scales of fish, the wings of birds, the utterances of men, the voices of animals, the movements of bodies, the thoughts of minds; and these things declare, all with one consent, unto the spirit, ‘We are not that which thou demandest; search up above us, and thou wilt find our Creator!’” In the tenth century, Remigius the theologian had gone still farther: “I have resolved,” said he, “to make an investigation as to my God; for it doth not suffice me to believe in Him; I wish further to see somewhat of Him. I feel that there is somewhat beyond my spirit. If my spirit should abide within herself without rising above herself, she would see only herself; it must be above herself that my spirit will reach God.”

God, creator, lawgiver, and preserver of the universe and of man, everywhere and always present and potent, in permanent connection, nay, communication, with man, at one time by natural and at another by supernatural means, at one time by the channel of authority and at another by that of free-agency, this is the point of departure, this the fixed idea of the philosopho-theologians of the middle ages. There are great gaps, great diversities, and great inconsistencies in their doctrines; they frequently made unfair use of the subtile dialectics called scholastics (la scolastique), and they frequently assigned too much to the master’s authority (l’autorite du maitre); but Christian faith, more or less properly understood and explained, and adhesion to the facts, to the religious and moral precepts, and to the primitive and essential testimonies of Christianity, are always to be found at the bottom of their systems and their disputes. Whether they be pantheists even or sceptics, it is in an atmosphere of Christianity that they live and that their thoughts are developed.

A breath from the grand old pagan life of Greece and Rome heaved forth again and spread, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, throughout this Christian atmosphere of the middle ages. Greek and Roman antiquity, with its ideas and its works, had never been completely forgotten therein. Aristotle and Plato, Seneca, Epictetus, Boetius, and other ancients had taken their place amongst the studies and philosophical notions of that period; but their influence had been limited to professional scholars, and had remained without any social influence. In spite of the stateliness of its ceremonies and the charm of its traditions, paganism had never been, in plain truth, a religion; faith and piety had held but a paltry place in it; instead of a God, the creator and acting sovereign of the world, its gods were of human invention and human nature: their adventures and the parts they played were pleasing to the imagination, but gave no sort of satisfaction to the deep instincts and higher aspirations of the soul. Christianity is God hovering over, watching over, and descending to earth; paganism is earth, its children and the stories of their lives transported, with their vices rather than their virtues, to heaven. Olympus was peopled with nothing but personages belonging to popular tradition, mythology, or allegory; and in the fifteenth century this mythology was in full course of decay; all that it might have commanded of credence or influence had vanished; there remained of it nothing but barren memories or a contemptuous incredulity. Speaking from the religious point of view, the Renaissance was but a resurrection of paganism dying out before the presence of the Christian world, which was troubled and perplexed, but full of life and futurity.

The religious question thus set on one side, the Renaissance was a great and happy thing, which restored to light and honor the works and glories of the Greek and Roman communities, those two communities which, in history anterior to the sixteenth century, had reached the greatest prosperity and splendor under a civil regimen, in the midst of a more or less stormy but real and strong political freedom, and had attained by the mere development of human thought and human energy the highest degree of civilization yet known in Europe, and, one would be inclined to say, in the world. The memorials and monuments of this civilization, which were suddenly removed, at the fall of the Greek empire, to Italy first and then from Italy to France, and throughout the whole of Western Europe, impressed with just admiration people as well as princes, and inspired them with the desire of marching forward in their turn in this attractive and glorious career. This kind of progress, arrived at by the road of imitation, often costs dear in the interruption it causes to the natural course of the peculiar and original genius of nations; but this is the price at which the destinies of diverse communities get linked together and interpenetrate, and the general progress of humanity is accomplished.

It was not only in religious questions and by their philosopho- theologians that the middle ages, before the Renaissance, displayed their activity and fecundity. In literature and in art, in history and in poesy, in architecture and in sculpture, they had produced great and beautiful works, which were quite worthy of surviving, and have, in fact, survived the period of their creation. Here, too, the Renaissance of Greek and Roman antiquity came in, and altered the originality of the earliest productions of the middle ages, and gave to literature and to art in France a new direction. It will be made a point here to note with some exactness the peculiar and native character of French literature at its origin. It is a far cry from the middle ages to the time of Louis XIV.; but the splendors of the most lovely days do not efface the charm belonging to the glimmerings of dawn.

The first amongst the literary creations of the middle ages is that of the French language itself. When we pass from the ninth to the thirteenth century, from the oath of Charles the Bald and Louis the Germanic at Strasbourg, in 842, to the account of the conquest of Constantinople in 1203, given by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, seneschal of Champagne, what a space has been traversed, what progress accomplished in the language of France! It was, at first, nothing but a coarse and irregular mixture of German and Latin, the former still in a barbarous and the latter already in a corrupted state; and amidst this mixture appear some fragments of the Celtic idioms of Gaul, without any literary tradition to regulate this mass of incoherence and confusion. As for following the development, regulation, and transformation of the French national language during these three centuries, and marking how it issued from this formless and vulgar chaos, there are not facts and documents enough for our guidance throughout that long travail; but when the thirteenth century begins, when Villehardouin tells the tale of the crusade, which put, for seventy years, Constantinople and the Greek empire of the East in the hands of the Latin and German warriors of the West, the French language, though still rude and somewhat fluctuating, appears already rich, varied, and capable of depicting with fidelity and energy events, ideas, characters, and the passions of men. There we have French prose and French poesy in their simple and lusty youth; the Conquest of Constantinople by Geoffrey de Villehardouin, and the Song of Roland by the unknown poet who collected and put together in the form of an epopee the most heroic amongst the legends of the reign of Charlemagne, are the first great and beautiful monuments of French literature in the middle ages.

The words are French literature; and of that alone is there any intention of speaking here. The middle ages had, up to the sixteenth century, a Latin literature; philosophers, theologians, and chroniclers all wrote in Latin. The philosophers and theologians have already been spoken of. Amongst the chroniclers some deserve the name of historians; not only do they alone make us acquainted with the history of their times, but they sometimes narrate it with real talent as observers and writers. Gregory of Tours, Eginhard, William of Tyre, Guibert of Nogent, William of Jumieges, and Orderic Vital are worthy of every attention from those whose hearts are set upon thoroughly understanding the history of the periods and the provinces of which those laborers of the middle ages have, in Latin, preserved the memorials. The chief of those works have been gathered together and translated in a special collection bearing the name of Guizot. But it is with the reign of Francis I. that, to bid a truce to further interruption, we commence the era of the real grand literature of France, that which has constituted and still constitutes the pride and the noble pleasure of the French public. Of that alone we would here denote the master-works and the glorious names, putting them carefully at the proper dates and places in the general course of events; a condition necessary for making them properly understood and their influence properly appreciated. As to the reign of Francis I., however, it must be premised as follows: several of the most illustrious of French writers, in poesy and prose, Ronsard, Montaigne, Bodin, and Stephen Pasquier, were born during that king’s lifetime and during the first half of the sixteenth century; but it is to the second half of that century and to the first of the seventeenth that they belong by the glory of their works and of their influence; their place in history will be assigned to them when we enter upon the precise epoch at which they performed and shone. We will at present confine ourselves to the great survivors of the middle ages, whether in prose or poesy, and to the men who shed lustre on the reign of Francis I. himself, and led French literature in its first steps along the road on which it entered at that period.

The middle ages bequeathed to French literature four prose-writers whom we cannot hesitate to call great historians: Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, and Commynes. Geoffrey de Villehardouin, after having taken part, as negotiator and soldier, in the crusade which terminated in the capture of Constantinople, and having settled in Thessaly, at Messinopolis, as holder of considerable fiefs, with the title of Marshal of Romania (Roumelia), employed his leisure in writing a history of this great exploit. He wrote with a dignified simplicity, epic and at the same time practical, speaking but little of himself, narrating facts with the precision of one who took part in them, and yet without useless detail or personal vanity, finding pleasure in doing justice to his comrades, amongst others the veteran Doge of Venice, Henry Dandolo, and sometimes intermingling with his story the reflections of a judicious and sincere Christian, without any pious fanaticism and without ostentation. Joinville wrote his History of St. Louis at the request of Joan of Navarre, wife of Philip the Handsome, and five years after that queen’s death; his manuscripts have it thus: “The things which I personally saw and heard were written in the year of grace 1309, in the month of October.” He was then eighty-five, and he dedicated his book to Louis le Hutin (the quarreller), great-grandson of St. Louis. More lively and more familiar in style than Villehardouin, he combines the vivid and natural impressions of youth with an old man’s fond clinging to the memories of his long life; he likes to bring himself upon the scene, especially as regards his relations towards and his conversations with St. Louis, for whom he has a tender regard and admiration, at the same time that he maintains towards him a considerable independence of ideas, conduct, and language; he is a valiant and faithful knight, who forms a very sensible opinion as to the crusade in which he takes part, and who will not enter upon it a second time even to follow the king to whom he is devoted, but whose pious fanaticism and warlike illusions he does not share; his narrative is at one and the same time very full of himself without any pretension, and very spirited without any show of passion, and fraught with a graceful and easy carelessness which charms the reader and all the while inspires confidence in the author’s veracity. Froissart is an insatiable Fry, who revels in all the sights of his day, events and personages, wars and galas, adventures of heroism or gallantry, and who is incessantly gadding about through all the dominions and all the courts of Europe, everywhere seeking his own special amusement in the satisfaction of his curiosity. He has himself given an account of the manner in which he collected and wrote his Chronicles. “Ponder,” says he, “amongst yourselves, such of ye as read me, or will read me, or have read me, or shall hear me read, how I managed to get and put together so many facts whereof I treat in so many parts. And, for to inform you of the truth, I began young, at the age of twenty years, and I came into the world amidst the deeds and adventures, and I did always take great delight in them, more than in aught else. And God gave me such grace that I was well with all parties, and with the households of the kings, and, especially, the household of King Edward of England, and the noble queen his wife, Madame Philippa of Hainault, unto whom, in my youth, I was clerk, and I did minister unto her with beautiful ditties and amorous treatises. And for love of the service of the noble and valiant dame with whom I was, all the other lords, kings, dukes, counts, barons, and knights, of whatsoever nation they might be, did love me and hear me and see me gladly, and brought me great profit. . . . Thus, wherever I went, I made inquiry of the old knights and squires who had been at deeds of arms, and who were specially fit to speak thereof, and also of certain heralds in good credit for to verify and justify all matters. Thus have I gotten together this lofty and noble history.” This picture of Froissart and his work by his own hand would be incomplete without the addition of a characteristic anecdote. In one of his excursions in search of adventures and stories, “he fell in at Pamiers with a good knight, Messire Espaing of Lyons, who had been in all the wars of the time, and managed the great affairs of princes. They set out to travel together, Messire Espaing telling his comrade what he knew about the history of the places whereby they passed, and Froissart taking great care to ride close to him for to hear his words. Every evening they halted at hostels where they drained flagons full of white wine as good as the good canon had ever drunk in his life; then, after drinking, so soon as the knight was weary of relating, the chronicler wrote down just the substance of his stories, so as to better leave remembrance of them for time to come, as there is no way of retaining so certain as writing down.”

There is no occasion to add to these quotations; they give the most correct idea that can be formed of Froissart’s chronicles and their literary merit as well as their historical value.

Philip de Commynes is quite another affair, and far more than Froissart, nay, than Joinville and Villehardouin. He is a politician proficient in the understanding and handling of the great concerns and great personages of his time. He served Charles the Rash and Louis XI.; and, after so trying an experience, he depicted them and passed judgment upon them with imperturbable clearsightedness and freedom of thought. With the recital of events, as well as the portrayal of character, he mingles here and there the reflections, expressed in precise, firm, and temperate language, of a profound moralist, who sets before himself no other aim but that of giving his thoughts full utterance. He has already been spoken of in the second volume of this History, in connection with his leaving the Duke of Burgundy’s service for that of Louis XI., and with his remarks upon the virtues as well as the vices of that able but unprincipled despot. We will not go again over that ground. As a king’s adviser, Commynes would have been as much in place at the side of Louis XIV. as at that of Louis XI.; as a writer, he, in the fifteenth century, often made history and politics speak a language which the seventeenth century would not have disowned.

Let us pass from the prose-writers of the middle ages to their poets.

The grand name of poesy is here given only to poetical works which have lived beyond their cradles and have taken rank amongst the treasures of the national literature. Thanks to sociability of manners, vivacity of intellect, and fickleness of taste, light and ephemeral poesy has obtained more success and occupied more space in France than in any other country; but there are successes which give no title to enter into a people’s history; quality and endurance of renown are even more requisite in literature than in politics; and many a man whose verses have been very much relished and cried up in his lifetime has neither deserved nor kept in his native land the beautiful name of poet. Setting aside, of course, the language and poems of the troubadours of Southern France, we shall find, in French poesy previous to the Renaissance, only three works which, through their popularity in their own time, still live in the memory of the erudite, and one only which, by its grand character and its superior beauties, attests the poetical genius of the middle ages and can claim national rights in the history of France. The Romance of the Rose in the erotic and allegorical style, the Romances of Renart in the satirical, and the Farce of Patelin, a happy attempt in the line of comedy, though but little known nowadays to the public, are still and will remain subjects of literary study. The Song of Roland alone is an admirable sample of epic poesy in France, and the only monument of poetical genius in the middle ages which can have a claim to national appreciation in the nineteenth century. It is almost a pity not to reproduce here the whole of that glorious epopee, as impressive from the forcible and pathetic simplicity of its sentiments and language as from the grandeur of the scene and the pious heroism of the actors in it. It is impossible, however, to resist the pleasure of quoting some fragments of it. The best version to refer to is that which has been given almost word for word, from the original text, by M. Leon Gaultier, in his beautiful work, so justly crowned by the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-lettres, on Lee Epopees Francaises.

In 778 Charlemagne was returning from a great expedition in Spain, during which, after having taken Pampeluna, he had failed before Saragossa, and had not considered himself called upon to prolong his struggle with the Arab Mussulmans. He with the main body of his army had crossed the Pyrenees, leaving as rearguard a small division under his nephew Roland, prefect of the Marches of Brittany, Anselm, count of the palace, Oliver, Roland’s comrade, Archbishop Turpin, and several other warriors of renown. When they arrived at the little valley of Roncesvalles, between the defiles of Sizer and Val Carlos, this rearguard was unexpectedly attacked by thousands of Basque mountaineers, who were joined by thousands of Arabs eager to massacre and plunder the Christians and Franks, who, indeed, perished to a man in this ambuscade. “The news of this disaster,” says Eginhard, in his Annales, “obscured the glory of the successes the king had but lately obtained in Spain.” This fact, with large amplifications, became the source of popular legends and songs, which, probably towards the end of the eleventh century, became embodied in the Song of Roland, attributed, in two manuscripts, but without any certainty, to a certain Thuroulde (Turold), Abbot of Malmesbury and Peterborough under William the Conqueror. It must suffice to reproduce here only the most beautiful and most characteristic passages of this little national epopee, a truly Homeric picture of the quasi-barbarous times and manners of knightly Christendom.

The eighty-second strophe of the poem commences thus:

“‘Of Paynim yonder, saw I more,’
Quoth Oliver, ‘than e’er before
The eye of man hath seen
An hundred thousand are a-field,
With helm and hauberk, lance and shield,
And pikes and pike-heads gleaming bright;
Prepare for fight, a fiercer fight
Than ever yet hath been.
Blow Olifant, friend Roland, blow,
That Charles and all his host may know.’

“To whom Sir Roland in reply:
‘A madman, then, good faith, were I
For I should lose all countenance
Throughout the pleasant land of France
Nay, rather, facing great and small,
I’ll smite amain with Durandal,
Until the blade, with blood that’s spilt,
Is crimson to the golden hilt.’
‘Friend Roland, sound a single blast
Ere Charles beyond its reach hath passed.’
‘Forbid it, God,’ cried Roland, then,
‘It should be said by living men
That I a single blast did blow
For succor from a Paynim foe!’
When Roland sees what moil will be,
Lion nor pard so fierce as he.

“Archbishop Turpin looks around,
Then forward pricks to higher ground
He halts, he speaks; the French give ear:
‘Lords barons, Charles hath left us here,
And for our king we’re bound to die;
For him maintain the Christian cause;
Behold! how near the battle draws;
Behold! where yonder Paynim lie;
Confess to God; and I will give
Absolvement, that your souls may live.
Pure martyrs are ye if ye fall;
And Paradise awaits ye all.’

“Down leap the French, on bended knee
They fall for benison; and he
Doth lay on all a penance light—
To strike their hardest in the fight.

“The French have risen to their feet;
They leap upon their chargers fleet;
Into the defiles rides their chief
On his good war-horse, Veillantif.
O, in his harness he looks grand!
On, on he goes with lance on high
Its tip is pointed to the sky;
It bears a snow-white pennon, and
Its golden fringes sweep his hand.
He scans the foe with haughty glance,
With meek and sweet the men of France
‘Lords barons, gently, gently ride;
Yon Paynim rush to suicide;
No king of France could ever boast
The wealth we’ll strip from yonder host.’
And as the words die off his lips,
Christian and Paynim are at grips.

“A wondrous fight! The men of France
Thrust fiercely with the burnished lance!
O, ‘twas a sight of grief and dread,
So many wounded, bleeding, dead!
On back or face together they,
One on another falling, lay!
The Paynim cannot choose but yield,
And, willy-nilly, quit the field
The eager French are on their track,
With lances pointed at the back. . . .

“Then pricketh forth a Saracen,
Abyme by name, but worst of men
No faith hath he in God the One,
No faith in Holy Mary’s Son;
As black as melted pitch is he,
And not for all Galicia’s gold
Could he be bribed his hand to hold
From murder and from treachery;
No merry laugh, no sportive mien
In him was ever heard or seen. . . .
The good archbishop could not brook
On pagan such as he to look;
He saw and fain would strike him dead,
And calmly to himself he said,
‘Yon pagan, as it seems to me,
A grievous heretic must be;
‘There best to slay him, though I died;
Cowards I never could abide.’

“He mounts his steed, won, so they tell,
From Denmark’s monarch, hight Grosselle;
He slew the king and took the steed
The beast is light and built for speed;
His hoofs are neat, his legs are clean,
His thigh is short, his flanks are lean,
His rump is large, his back full height,
His mane is yellow, his tail is white;
With little ears and tawny head,
No steed like him was ever bred.
The good archbishop spurs a-field,
And smites Abyme upon the shield,
His emir’s shield, so thickly sown
With many a gem and precious stone,
Amethyst and topaz, crystals bright,
And red carbuncles flashing light:
The shield is shivered by the blow;
No longer worth a doit, I trow;
Stark dead the emir lies below.
‘Ha! bravely struck!’ the Frenchmen yell:
‘Our bishop guards the Cross right well!’

“To Oliver Sir Roland cried,
‘Sir comrade, can it be denied
Our bishop is a gallant knight?
None better ever saw the light!
How he doth strike
With lance and pike!’
Quoth Oliver, ‘Then in the fight
Haste we to aid him with our might!’
And so the battle is renewed:
The blows are hard, the melley rude;
The Christians suffer sore
Four times they charge and all is well,
But at the fifth—dread tale to tell—
The knights of France are doomed to fall,—
All, all her knights; for of them all
God spareth but threescore.
But O, their lives they dearly sell!
Sir Roland marks what loss is there,
And turns him to Sir Oliver
‘Dear comrade, whom pray God to bless,
In God’s own name see what distress—
Such heaps of vassals lying low—
Fair France hath suffered at a blow
Well may we weep for her, who’s left
A widow, of such lords bereft!
And why, O, why art thou not near,
Our king, our friend, to aid us here?
Say, Oliver, how might we bring
Our mournful tidings to the king?’
Quoth Oliver, ‘I know not, I
To fly were shame; far better die.’
Quoth Roland, ‘I my horn will blow,
That Charles may hear and Charles may know;
And, in the defiles, from their track
The French, I swear, will hasten back.’
Quoth Oliver, ‘'Twere grievous shame;
‘Twould bring a blush to all thy name
When I said thus thou scornedst me,
And now I will not counsel thee.
And shouldst thou blow, ‘twere no great blast;
Already blood is gushing fast
From both thine arms.’ ‘That well may be,’
Quoth he, ‘I struck so lustily!
The battle is too strong: I’ll blow
Mine Olifant, that Charles may know.’
Quoth Oliver, ‘Had Charles been here,
This battle had not cost so dear;
But as for yon poor souls, I wis,
No blame can rest with them for this.’
‘Why bear me spite?’ Sir Roland said.
‘The fault,’ said he, ‘lies on thy head.
And mark my words; this day will see
The end of our good company;
We twain shall part—not as we met—
Full sadly ere yon sun bath set.’
The good archbishop hears the stir,
And thither pricks with golden spur;
And thus he chides the wrangling lords
‘Roland, and you, Sir Oliver,
Why strive ye with such bitter words
Horns cannot save you; that is past;
But still ‘twere best to sound a blast;
Let the king come: he’ll strike a blow
For vengeance, lest the Paynim foe
Back to their homes in triumph go.’

“With pain and dolor, groan and pant,
Count Roland sounds his Olifant:
The crimson stream shoots from his lips;
The blood from bursten temple drips;
But far, O, far the echoes ring,
And, in the defiles, reach the king;
Reach Naymes, and the French array:
‘Tis Roland’s horn,’ the king doth say;
‘He only sounds when brought to bay.’
How huge the rocks! How dark and steep!
The streams are swift! The valleys deep!
Out blare the trumpets, one and all,
As Charles responds to Roland’s call.
Round wheels the king, with choler mad,
The Frenchmen follow grim and sad;
Not one but prays for Roland’s life,
Till they have joined him in the strife.
But ah! what prayer can alter fate?
The time is past; too late! too late!
As Roland scans both plain and height,
And sees how many Frenchmen lie
Stretched in their mortal agony,
He mourns them like a noble knight:
‘Comrades, God give ye grace to-day,
And grant ye Paradise, I pray!
No lieges ever fought as they.
What a fair land, O France, art thou!
But ah! forlorn and widowed now!
O Oliver, at least to thee,
My brother, I must faithful be
Back, comrade mine, back let us go,
And charge once more the Paynim foe!’

“When Roland spies the cursed race,
More black than ink, without a trace,
Save teeth, of whiteness in the face,
‘Full certified,’ quoth he, ‘am I,
That we this very day shall die.
Strike, Frenchmen, strike; that’s all my mind!’
‘A curse on him who lags behind!’
Quoth gallant Oliver; and so
Down dash the Frenchmen on the foe. . . .
Sir Oliver with failing breath,
Knowing his wound is to the death,
Doth call to him his friend, his peer,
His Roland: ‘Comrade, come thou here;
To be apart what pain it were!’
When Roland marks his friend’s distress,
His face all pale and colorless,
‘My God!’ quoth he, ‘what’s now to do?
O my sweet France, what dole for you,
Widowed of all your warriors true!
You needs must perish!’ At such plaint,
Upon his steed he falls a-faint.

“See Roland riding in a swound:
And Oliver with mortal wound;
With loss of blood so dazed is he
He neither near nor far can see
What manner of man a man may be:
And, meeting with Sir Roland so,
He dealeth him a fearful blow
That splits the gilded helm in two
Down to the very nasal, though,
By luck, the skull it cleaves not through.
With blank amaze doth Roland gaze,
And gently, very gently, says,
‘Dear comrade, smit’st thou with intent?
Methinks no challenge hath been sent
I’m Roland, who doth love thee so.’
Quoth Oliver, ‘Thy voice I know,
But see thee not; God save thee, friend:
I struck thee; prithee pardon me.
No hurt have I; and there’s an end.’
Quoth Roland, ‘And I pardon thee
‘Fore man and God right willingly.’
They bow the head, each to his brother,
And so, in love, leave one another.”

(Oliver dies: Roland and Archbishop Turpin continue the fight.)

“Then Roland takes his horn once more;
His blast is feebler than before,
But still it reaches the emperor
He hears it, and he halts to shout,
‘Let clarions, one and all, ring out!’
Then sixty thousand clarions ring,
And rocks and dales set echoing.
And they, too, hear—the pagan pack;
They force the rising laughter back;
‘Charles, Charles,’ they cry, ‘is on our track!’
They fly; and Roland stands alone—
Alone, afoot; his steed is gone—
Brave Veillantif is gone, and so,
He, willy-nilly, afoot must go.
Archbishop Turpin needs his aid:
The golden helm is soon unlaced,
The light, white hauberk soon unbraced;
And gently, gently down he laid
On the green turf the bishop’s head;
And then beseechingly he said,—
“‘Ah! noble sir, your leave I crave
The men we love, our comrades brave,
All, all are dead; they must not lie
Here thus neglected; wherefore I
Will seek for them, each where he lies,
And lay them out before your eyes.’
‘Go,’ said the bishop, ‘and speed be thine
Thank God! the field is thine and mine.’

“Sir Roland searched the plain, and found
His comrade’s body on the ground;
Unto his heart he strained it tight,
And bore it off, as best he might.
Upon a shield he lays his friend
Beside the rest, and, for an end,
The bishop gives them, all and one,
Absolvement and a benison.
As Roland marks them lying there,
His peers all dead—and Oliver,
His mighty grief he cannot stay,
And, willy-nilly, swoons away.

“The bishop feeleth grief profound
To see Sir Roland in a swound.
Through Roncesvalles, well he knows,
A stream of running water flows,
And fain would he a journey make
To fetch thereof for Roland’s sake,
He totters forth; he makes essay;
But all! his feeble limbs give way;
Breaks his great heart; he falls and lies,
Face downward, in death’s agonies!
So Charles’s soldier-priest is dead
He who with mighty lance and sword
And preacher’s craft incessant warred
Against the scorners of the Lord:
God’s benediction on his head!
Count Roland laid him to his rest
Between his shoulders, on his breast,
He crossed the hands so fine and fair,
And, as his country’s customs were,
He made oration o’er him there
‘Ah! noble knight, of noble race,
I do commend thee to God’s grace
Sure never man of mortal birth
Served Him so heartily on earth.
Thou hadst no peer in any clime
To stoutly guard the Christian cause
And turn bad men to Christian laws,
Since erst the great Apostles’ time.
Now rest thy soul from dolor free,
And Paradise be oped to thee!’”

(A last encounter takes place: a Saracen left wounded on the battle-field, seeing Roland in a swoon, gets up, and approaches him, saying, “Vanquished, he is vanquished, the nephew of Charles! There is his sword, which I will carry off to Arabia!”)

“And as he makes to draw the steel,
A something doth Sir Roland feel;
He opes his eyes, says nought but this,
‘Thou art not one of us, I wis,’
Raises the horn he would not quit,
And cracks the pagan’s skull with it. . .
And then the touch of death that steals
Down, down from head to heart he feels
Under yon pine he hastes away
On the green turf his head to lay
Placing beneath him horn and sword,
He turns towards the Paynim horde,
And, there, beneath the pine, he sees
A vision of old memories
A thought of realms he helped to win,
Of his sweet France, of kith and kin,
And Charles, his lord, who nurtured him.
He sighs, and tears his eyes bedim.
Then, not unmindful of his case,
Once more he sues to God for grace
‘O Thou, true Father of us all,
Who hatest lies, who erst did call
The buried Lazarus from the grave,
And Daniel from the lions save,
From all the perils I deserve
For sinful life my soul preserve!’
Then to his God outstretcheth he
The glove from his right hand; and, see!
St. Gabriel taketh it instantly.
God sends a cherub-angel bright,
And Michael, Saint of Peril hight;
And Gabriel comes; up, up they rise,
And bear the Count to Paradise.”

It is useless to carry these quotations any further; they are sufficient to give an idea of the grand character of the poem in which so many traits of really touching affection and so many bursts of patriotic devotion and pious resignation are mingled with the merest brute courage. Such, in its chief works, philosophical, historical, and poetical, was the literature which the middle ages bequeathed to the reign of Francis I. In history only, and in spite of the new character assumed afterwards by the French language, this literature has had the honor of preserving its nationality and its glory. Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, and Commynes have remained great writers. In philosophy and in poesy a profound revolution was approaching; the religious reform and the fine literary genius as well as the grand French language of the seventeenth century were preparing to rise above the intellectual horizon. But between the moment when such advances dawn and that when they burst forth there is nearly always a period of uncertain and unfruitful transition: and such was the first half of the sixteenth century, that is to say, the actual reign of Francis I.; it is often called the reign of the Renaissance, which certainly originated in his reign, but it did not grow and make any display until after him; the religious, philosophical, and poetical revolution, Calvin, Montaigne, and Ronsard, born in the earlier half of the seventeenth century, did not do anything that exercised any power until the later. One single poet, a third-rate one, Clement Marot, attained lustre under Francis I. Rabelais is the only great prose writer who belongs strictly to that period. The scholars, the learned critics of what had been left by antiquity in general and by Greek and Roman antiquity in particular, Bude (Budaeus), J. C. Scaliger; Muretus, Danes (Danesius), Arnyot, Ramus (Peter la Ramee), Robert Estienne (Stephanus), Vatable (Watebled), Cujas, and Turnebius make up the tale of literature specially belonging to and originating in the reign of Francis I., just as the foundation of the College Royal, which became the College de France, is his chief personal claim to renown in the service of science and letters.

Let us return to the poets of the actual reign of Francis I. The first we encounter speaks thus of himself:—

“I am not rich; that, certes, I confess;
But, natheless, well born and nobly bred;
I’m read by both the people and noblesse,
Throughout the world: ‘That’s Clement,’ it is said.
Men live their span; but I shall ne’er be dead.
And thou—thou hast thy meadow, well, and spring,
Wood, field, and castle—all that wealth can bring.
There’s just that difference ‘twixt thee and me.
But what I am thou couldst not be: the thing
Thou art, why, anybody else might be.”

Now who was this who, with perfect confidence, indulged in such proud language? Was it a Homer, a Dante, a Corneille, one of those great poetical geniuses whose works can move a whole people, are addressed to all the world, and “will live forever”? No; it was a poet of the court and of the fashionable world of Paris, of Blois, and of Amboise, in the sixteenth century, a groom-of-the-chamber to Marguerite de Valois, and one of Francis I.‘s favorites, who had written elegies, eclogues, epistles, complaints, roundelays, and epigrams on the incidents and for his masters and mistresses of the hour; France owed to him none of those great poetical works consecrated to description of the grand destinies and grand passions of man, and to the future as well as to the writer’s own time.

Clement Marot——162

Clemont Marot, the son of a petty burgess of Cahors, named John Marot, himself a poet in a small way, who had lived some time at the court of Louis XII., under the patronage of Queen Anne of Bretagne, had a right to style himself, “well born and nobly bred;” many of the petty burgesses of Cahors were of noble origin, and derived therefrom certain privileges; John Marot, by a frugal and regular life, had acquired and left to his son two estates in the neighborhood of Cahors, where, no doubt, Clement resided but little, for he lived almost constantly at the court, or wandering about Europe, in every place where at one time the fortunes of the king his protector and at another the storm of the nascent religious reform left him stranded willy-nilly. He was present in 1525 at the battle of Pavia, where he was wounded and taken prisoner with his king, but soon released, since the Imperialists let go on easy terms gentlemen of whom it was impossible to make a rich booty. From that time we do not meet any more with Clement Marot in war or politics; to Marguerite de Valois, to adventures of gallantry, and to success in his mundane line of poesy his life was thenceforth devoted. The scandal of history has often been directed against his relations with his royal patroness; but there seems to be no real foundation for such a suspicion; the manners of the sixteenth century admitted of intimacies in language, and sometimes even of familiarities in procedure, contrasting strangely with demonstrations of the greatest respect, nay, humility. Clement Marot was the king of poesy and set the fashion of wit in his time; Marguerite had a generous and a lively sympathy with wit, talent, success, renown; the princess and the poet were mutually pleased with and flattered one another; and the liberties allowed to sympathy and flattery were great at that time, but far less significant than they would be in our day.

What were the cause, the degree, and the real value of this success and this renown of which Clement Marot made so much parade, and for which his contemporaries gave him credit? What change, what progress effected by him, during his lifetime, in French literature and the French language won for him the place he obtained and still holds in the opinion of the learned?

A poet who no more than Clement Marot produced any great poetical work, and was very different from him in their small way, Francis Villon, in fact, preceded him by about three quarters of a century. The most distinguished amongst the literary critics of our time have discussed the question as to which of the two, Villon or Marot, should be regarded as the last poet of the middle ages and the first of modern France. M. Sainte-Beuve, without attempting to precisely solve that little problem, has distinguished and characterized the two poets with so much of truth and tact that there can be no hesitation about borrowing his words: “Was Villon,” is the question he puts to himself, “an originator? Did he create a style of poesy? Had he any idea of a literary reaction, as we should say nowadays? What is quite certain is, that he possessed original talent; that amidst all the execrable tricks wherein he delighted and wherein he was a master, he possessed the sacred spark. . . . A licentious scamp of a student, bred at some shop in the Cite or the Place Maubert, he has a tone which, at least as much as that of Regnier, has a savor of the places the author frequented. The beauties whom he celebrates—and I blush for him—are none else than la blanche Savetiere (the fair cobbleress), or la gente Saul cissiere, du coin (the pretty Sausage girl at the corner). But he has invented for some of those natural regrets which incessantly recur in respect of vanished beauty and the flight of years a form of expression, truthful, charming, and airy, which goes on singing forever in the heart and ear of whosoever has once heard it. He has flashes, nothing more than flashes, of melancholy. . . . It is in reading the verses of Clement Marot that we have, for the first time as it seems to me, a very clear and distinct feeling of having got out from the circumbendibus of the old language, from the Gallic tangle. We are now in France, in the land and amidst the language of France, in the region of genuine French wit, no longer that of the boor, or of the student, or of the burgess, but of the court and good society. Good society, in poesy, was born with Marot, with Francis I., and his sister Marguerite, with the Renaissance: much will still have to be done to bring it to perfection, but it exists and will never cease again. . . . Marot, a poet of wits rather than of genius or of great talent, but full of grace and breeding, who has no passion, but is not devoid of sensibility, has a way of his own of telling and saying things; he has a turn of his own; he is, in a word, the agreeable man, the gentleman-like man, who is bound to be pleasant and amusing, and who discharges his duty with an easy air and unexceptionable gallantry.”

There we have exactly the new character which Marot, coming between Villon and Ronsard, gave in the sixteenth century to French poesy. We may be more exacting than M. Sainte-Beuve; we may regret that Marot, whilst rescuing it from the streets, confined it too much to the court; the natural and national range of poesy is higher and more extensive than that; the Hundred Years’ War and Joan of Arc had higher claims. But it is something to have delivered poesy from coarse vulgarity, and introduced refinement into it. Clement Marot rendered to the French language, then in labor of progression, and, one might say, of formation, eminent service: he gave it a naturalness, a clearness, an easy swing, and, for the most part, a correctness which it had hitherto lacked. It was reserved for other writers, in verse and prose, to give it boldness, the richness that comes of precision, elevation, and grandeur.

In 1534, amidst the first violent tempest of reform in France, Clement Marot, accused of heresy, prudently withdrew and went to seek an asylum at Ferrara, under the protection of the duchess, Renee of France, daughter of Louis XII. He there met Calvin, who already held a high position amongst the Reformers, and who was then engaged on a translation of the Psalms in verse. The reformer talked to the poet about this grand Hebrew poesy, which, according to M. Villemain’s impression, “has defrayed in sublime coin the demands of human imagination.” Marot, on returning to France, found the College Royal recently instituted there, and the learned Vatable [Francis Watebled, born at Gamaches, in Picardy, died at Paris in 1547] teaching Hebrew with a great attendance of pupils and of the curious. The professor engaged the poet to translate the Psalms, he himself expounding them to him word by word. Marot translated thirty of them, and dedicated them to Francis I., who not only accepted the dedication, but recommended the work and the author to Charles V., who was at that time making a friendly passage through France on his way to put down the insurrection at Ghent. “Charles V. accepted the said translation graciously” [as appears by a letter in 1559 to Catherine de’ Medici from Villemadon, one of Marguerite of Navarre’s confidential servants], “commended it both by words and by a present of two hundred doubloons, which he made to Marot, thus giving him courage to translate the rest of the Psalms, and praying him to send him as soon as possible the Psalm Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus [Trust in the Lord, for He is good], so fond was he of it.” Singular fellow-feeling between Charles V. and his great adversary Luther, who said of that same psalm, “It is my friend; it has saved me in many a strait from which emperor, kings, sages, nor saints could have delivered me!” Clement Marot, thus aided and encouraged in this work which gave pleasure to Francis I. and Charles V., and must have been still more interesting to Calvin and Luther, prosecuted his work and published in 1541 the first thirty psalms; three years afterwards, in 1543, he added twenty others, and dedicated the collection “to the ladies of France,” in an epistle wherein the following verses occur:

“Happy the man whose favored ear
In golden days to come shall hear
The ploughman, as he tills the ground,
The tarter, as he drives his round,
The shopman, as his task he plies,
With psalms or sacred melodies
Whiling the hours of toil away!
O, happy he who hears the lay
Of shepherd and of shepherdess,
As in the woods they sing and bless,
And make the rocks and pools proclaim
With them their great Creator’s name!
O, can ye brook that God invite
Them before you to such delight?
Begin, ladies, begin!  .  .  .”

A century after Marot’s time, in 1649, a pious and learned Catholic, Godeau, Bishop of Grasse and member of the nascent French Academy, was in his turn translating the Psalms, and rendered full justice to the labors of the poet, his predecessor, and to the piety of the Reformers, in the following terms “Those whose separation from the church we deplore have rendered the version they make use of famous by the pleasing airs that learned musicians set them to when they were composed. To know them by heart is, amongst them, a sign of the communion to which they belong, and in the towns in which they are most numerous the airs may be heard coming from the mouths of artisans, and in the country from those of tillers.”

In 1555, eight years after the death of Francis I., Estienne Pasquier wrote to Ronsard, “In good faith, there was never seen in France such a glut of poets. I fear that in the long run people will weary of them. But it is a vice peculiar to us that as soon as we see anything succeeding prosperously for any one, everybody wants to join in.” Estienne Pasquier’s fear was much better grounded after the death of Francis I., and when Ronsard had become the head of the poet-world, than it would have been in the first half of the sixteenth century. During the reign of Francis I. and after the date of Clement Marot, there is no poet of any celebrity to speak of, unless we except Francis I. himself and his sister Marguerite; and it is only in compliment to royalty’s name that they need be spoken of. They, both of them, had evidently a mania for versifying, even in their most confidential communications, for many of their letters to one another, those during the captivity of Francis I. at Madrid amongst the rest, are written in verse; but their verses are devoid of poesy; they are prose, often long-winded and frigid, and sometimes painfully labored. There is, however, a distinction to be made between the two correspondents. In the letters and verses of Marguerite there is seen gleaming forth here and there a sentiment of truth and tenderness, a free and graceful play of fancy. We have three collections of her writings: 1. her Heptameron, ou les Sept Journees de la Reine de Navarre, a collection of sixty-eight tales more or less gallant, published for the first time in 1558, without any author’s name; 2. her OEuvres poetiques, which appeared at Lyons in 1547 and 1548, in consequence of her being alive, under the title of Les Marguerites de la Marguerite des Princesses (the Pearls of the Pearl of Princesses), and of which one of her grooms of the chamber was editor; in addition to which there is a volume of Poesies inedites, collected by order of Marguerite herself, but written by the hand of her secretary John Frotte, and preserved at Paris amongst the manuscripts of the Bibliotheque nationale; 3. the Collection of her Letters, published in 1841, by M. F. Genin. This last collection is, morally as well as historically, the most interesting of the three. As for Francis I. himself, there is little, if anything, known of his posies beyond those which have been inserted in the Documents relatifs a sa Captivite a Madrid, published in 1847 by M. Champollion-Figeac; some have an historical value, either as regards public events or Francis I.‘s relations towards his mother, his sister, and his mistresses; the most important is a long account of his campaign, in 1525, in Italy, and of the battle of Pavia; but the king’s verses have even less poetical merit than his sister’s.

Francis I.‘s good will did more for learned and classical literature than for poesy. Attention has already been drawn to the names of the principal masters in the great learned and critical school which devoted itself, in this reign, to the historical, chronological, philological, biographical, and literary study of Greek and Roman antiquity, both Pagan and Christian. It is to the labors of this school and to their results that the word Renaissance is justly applied, and that the honor is especially to be referred of the great intellectual progress made in the sixteenth century. Francis I. contributed to this progress, first by the intelligent sympathy he testified towards learned men of letters, and afterwards by the foundation of the College Royal, an establishment of a special, an elevated, and an independent sort, where professors found a liberty protected against the routine, jealousy, and sometimes intolerance of the University of Paris and the Sorbonne. The king and his sister Marguerite often went to pay a visit, at his printing-place in St. Jean de Beauvais Street, to Robert Estienne (Stephanus), the most celebrated amongst that family of printer-publishers who had so much to do with the resurrection of ancient literature. It is said that one day the king waited a while in the work-room, so as not to disturb Robert Estienne in the correction of a proof.

Francis I. Waits for Robert Estienne——168

When the violence bred of religious quarrels finally forced the learned and courageous printer to expatriate himself, his first care was to say, at the head of his apology, “When I take account of the war I have carried on with the Sorbonne for a space of twenty years or thereabouts, I cannot sufficiently marvel how so small and broken-down a creature as I am had strength to maintain it. When I was seen being harried on all sides, how often have I been the talk on street and at banquets, whilst people said, ‘It is all over with him; he is caught, he cannot escape; even if the king would, he could not save him.’ . . . I wish to justify myself against the reproach of having left my country, to the hurt of the public weal, and of not having acknowledged the great liberality displayed towards me by the king; since it was a high honor for me that the king, having deigned to make me his printer, always kept me under his protection, in the face of all who envied me and wished me ill, and never ceased to aid me graciously in all sorts of ways.”

The College Royal, no less than Robert Estienne, met with obstacles and ill-wishers; it was William Bude (Budeaus) who first suggested the idea of the college to the king, primarily with the limited purpose of securing instruction in Greek and Hebrew, after the fashion of the College of Young Grecians and the College of the Three Languages (the Trilingual, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), of which the former was founded at Rome by Leo X., the latter at Louvain by Canon Jerome Busleyden. Francis I. readily surrendered himself to more magnificent projects; he was anxious to erect a splendid building on the site of the Hotel de Nesle, and to put Erasmus at the head of the College Royal. War incessantly renewed and the nascent religious troubles interfered with his resolutions; but William Bude never ceased to urge upon the king an extension of the branches of learning in the establishment; and after the Peace of Cambrai in 1529, chairs of mathematics, Oriental languages, Latin oratory, Greek and Latin philosophy, and medicine were successively added to the chairs of Hebrew and Greek which had been the original nucleus of instruction in the College Royal. It continued to be an object of suspicion to the Sorbonne and of hesitation in the Parliament, to which royalty had recourse against the attacks of its adversaries. But it had no lack of protectors, nevertheless: the Cardinal of Lorraine, Charles IX., and Catherine de’ Medici herself supported it in its trials; and Francis I. had the honor of founding a great school of the higher sort of education, a school, which, throughout all the religious dissensions and all the political revolutions of France, has kept its position and independence, whatever may have been elsewhere, in the matter of public instruction, the system and the regimen of state establishments.

A few words have already been said about the development of the arts, especially architecture and sculpture, in the middle ages, and of the characteristics, original and national, Gallic and Christian, which belonged to them at this period, particularly in respect of their innumerable churches, great and small. A foreglance has been given of the alteration which was brought about in those characteristics, at the date of the sixteenth century, by the Renaissance, at the same time that the arts were made to shine with fresh and vivid lustre. Francis I. was their zealous and lavish patron; he revelled in building and embellishing palaces, castles, and hunting-boxes, St. Germain, Chenonceaux, Fontainebleau, and Chambord; his chief councillors, Chancellor Duprat and Admiral Bonnivet, shared his taste and followed his example; several provinces, and the banks of the Loire especially, became covered with splendid buildings, bearing the marks of a complicated character which smacked of imitations from abroad. Italy, which, from the time of Charles VIII. and Louis XII., had been the object of French kings’ ambition and the scene of French wars, became also the school of French art; national and solemn Christian traditions were blended, whilst taking an altered form, with the Italian resuscitation of Greek and Roman antiquity. Italian artists, such as Rosso of Florence, Primatice of Bologna, Niccolo dell’ Abbate of Modena, and Benvenuto Cellini of Florence, came and settled in France, and there inspired and carried out the king’s projects and works. Leonardo da Vinci, full of years and discontented with his Italian patrons, accompanied Francis I. to France, and died in his arms at the castle of Clou, near Amboise, where he had fixed his residence. Some great French artists, such as the painter John Cousin and the sculptor John Goujon, strove ably to uphold the original character and merits of French art; but they could not keep themselves entirely aloof from the influence of this brilliant Italian art, for which Francis I.‘s successors, even more than he, showed a zealous and refined attachment, but of which he was, in France, the first patron.

We will not quit the first half of the sixteenth century and the literary and philosophical Renaissance which characterizes that period, without assigning a place therein at its proper date and in his proper rank to the name, the life, and the works of the man who was not only its most original and most eminent writer, but its truest and most vivid representative, Rabelais.


Francis Rabelais, who was born at Chinon in 1495, and died at Paris in 1553, wandered during those fifty-eight years about France and Europe from town to town, from profession to profession, from good to bad and from bad to good estate; first a monk of the Cordeliers; then, with Pope Clement VII.‘s authority, a Benedictine; then putting off the monk’s habit and assuming that of a secular priest in order to roam the world, “incurring,” as he himself says, “in this vagabond life, the double stigma of suspension from orders and apostasy;” then studying medicine at Montpellier; then medical officer of the great hospital at Lyons, but, before long, superseded in that office “for having been twice absent without leave;” then staying at Lyons as a corrector of proofs, a compiler of almanacs, an editor of divers books for learned patrons, and commencing the publication of his Vie tres-horrifique du grand Gargantua, pere de Pantagruel (Most horrifying life of the great Gargantua, father of Pantagruel), which was immediately proceeded against by the Sorbonne “as an obscene tale.” On grounds of prudence or necessity Rabelais then quitted Lyons and set out for Rome as physician attached to the household of Cardinal John Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris and envoy from France to the Holy See; the which bishop “having relished the profound learning and competence of Rabelais, and having, besides, discovered in him fine humor and a conversation capable of diverting the blackest melancholy, retained him near his person in the capacity of physician in ordinary to himself and all his family, and held him ever afterwards in high esteem.” After two years passed at Rome, and after rendering all sorts of service in his patron’s household, Rabelais, “feeling that the uproarious life he was leading and his licentious deeds were unworthy of a man of religion and a priest,” asked Pope Paul III. for absolution, and at the same time permission to resume the habit of St. Benedict, and to practise “for piety’s sake, without hope of gain and in any and every place,” the art of medicine, wherein he had taken, he said, the degrees of bachelor, licentiate, and doctor. A brief of Pope Paul III.‘s, dated January 17, 1536, granted his request. Seventeen months afterwards, on the 22d of May, 1537, Rabelais reappears at Montpellier, and there receives, it is said, the degree of doctor, which he had already taken upon himself to assume. He pursues his life of mingled science and adventure, gives lessons, and gads about so much that “his doctor’s gown and cap are preserved at Montpellier, according to tradition, all dirty and torn, but objects of respectful reminiscence.” In 1538 Rabelais leaves Montpellier, and goes to practise medicine at Narbonne, Castres, and Lyons. In 1540 he tires of it, resumes, as he had authority to do, the habit of a canon of St. Maur, and settles in that residence, “a paradise,” as he himself says, “of salubrity, amenity, serenity, convenience, and all the chaste pleasures of agriculture and country-life.” Between 1540 and 1551 he is, nevertheless, found once more wandering, far away from this paradise, in France, Italy, and, perhaps, England; he completes and publishes, under his own name, the Faits et Dicts heroiques de Pantagruel, and obtains from Francis I. a faculty for the publication of “these two volumes not less useful than delightful, which the printers had corrupted and perverted in many passages, to the great displeasure and detriment of the author, and to the prejudice of readers.” The work made a great noise; the Sorbonne resolved to attack it, in spite of the king’s approbation; but Francis I. died on the 31st of March, 1547. Rabelais relapsed into his life of embarrassment and vagabondage; on leaving France he had recourse, first at Metz and afterwards in Italy, to the assistance of his old and ever well-disposed patron, Cardinal John Du Bellay. On returning to France he obtained from the new king, Henry II., a fresh faculty for the printing of his books “in Greek, Latin, and Tuscan;” and, almost at the same time, on the 18th of January, 1551, Cardinal Du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, conferred upon him the cure of St. Martin at Meudon, “which he discharged,” says his biographer Colletet, “with all the sincerity, all the uprightness, and all the charity that can be expected of a man who wishes to do his duty, and to the satisfaction of his flock.” Nevertheless, when the new holder of the cure at Meudon, shortly after his installation, made up his mind to publish the fourth book of the Faits et Dicts heroiques du bon Pantagruel, the work was censured by the Sorbonne and interdicted by decree of Parliament, and authority to offer it for sale was not granted until, on the 9th of February, 1552, Rabelais had given in his resignation of his cure at Meudon, and of another cure which he possessed, under the title of benefice, in the diocese of Le Mans. He retired in bad health to Paris, where he died shortly afterwards, in 1553, “in Rue des Jardins, parish of St. Paul, in the cemetery whereof he was interred,” says Colletet, “close to a large tree which was still to be seen a few years ago.”

Such a life, this constant change of position, profession, career, taste, patron, and residence, bore a strong resemblance to what we should nowadays call a Bohemian life; and everything shows that Rabelais’ habits, without being scandalous, were not more regular or more dignified than his condition in the world. Had we no precise and personal information about him in this respect, still his literary work, Gargantua and Pantagruel, would not leave us in any doubt: there is no printed book, sketch, conversation, or story, which is more coarse and cynical, and which testifies, whether as regards the author or the public for whom the work is intended, to a more complete and habitual dissoluteness in thought, morals, and language. There is certainly no ground for wondering that the Sorbonne, in proceeding against the Vie tres-horrifique du grand Gargantua, pere de Pantagruel, should have described it as “an obscene tale;” and the whole part of Panurge, the brilliant talker of the tale,

“Take him for all in all the best boy in the world,”

fully justifies the Sorbonne. But, by way of striking contrast, at the same time that the works of Rabelais attest the irregularity of men’s lives and minds, they also reveal the great travail that is going on and the great progress that has already been made in the intellectual condition of his day, in the influence of natural and legitimate feelings, and in the appreciation of men’s mutual rights and duties. Sixty-two years ago M. Guizot published, in a periodical collection entitled Annales de l’Education, a Study of Rabelais’ ideas compared with the practice and routine of his day in respect of Education; an important question in the sixteenth as it is in the nineteenth century. It will be well to quote here from that Study certain fragments which will give some notion of what new ideas and tendencies were making their way into the social life of France, and were coincident with that great religious and political ferment which was destined to reach bursting-point in the reign of Francis I., and to influence for nearly a century the fortunes of France.

“It was no easy matter,” were the words used by M. Guizot in 1811, “to speak reasonably about education at the time when Rabelais wrote. There was then no idea of home-education and the means of rendering it practicable. As to public education, there was no extensive range and nothing really useful to the community in the instruction received by children at college; no justice and no humanity in the treatment they experienced; a fruitless and ridiculously prolonged study of words succeeded by a no less fruitless study of interminable subtilties, and all this fruitless knowledge driven into the brains of children by help of chastisements, blows, and that barbarous severity which seems to regard the Compelle intrare as the principal law and object of instruction. How proceed, in such a state of things, to conceive a plan of liberal, gentle, and reasonable education? Rabelais, in his book, had begun by avoiding the danger of directly shocking received ideas; by transporting both himself and his heroes to the regions of imagination and extravagance he had set himself at liberty to bring them up in quite a different fashion than that of his times; the rectors of colleges could not pretend that Pantagruel, who was hardly born before he sucked down at every meal the milk of four thousand six hundred cows, and for whose first shirt there had been cut nine hundred ells of Chatellerault linen, was a portrait of any of the little boys who trembled at their ferules. . . . Pantagruel is in his cradle; he is bound and swathed in it like all children at that time; but, ere long, Gargantua, his father, perceives that these bands are constraining his movements, and that he is making efforts to burst there; he immediately, by advice of the princes and lords present, orders the said shackles to be undone, and lo! Pantagruel is no longer uneasy. . . . And thus became he big and strong full early. . . . There came, however, the time when his instruction must begin. ‘My will,’ said Gargantua, ‘is to hand him over to some learned man for to indoctrinate him according to his capacity, and to spare nothing to that end.’ He, accordingly, put Pantagruel under a great teacher, who began by bringing him up after the fashion of those times. He taught him his charte (alphabet) to such purpose that he could say it by heart backwards, and he was five years and three months about it. Then he read with him Donotus and Facetus (old elementary works on Latin grammar), and he was thirteen years, six months, and two weeks over that. Then he read with him the De Modis significandi, with the commentaries of Hurtebisius, Fasquin, and a heap of others, and he was more than eighteen years and eleven months over them, and knew them so well that he proved on his fingers to his mother that de modis signifieandi non erat scientia. After so much labor and so many years, what did Pantagruel know? Gargantua was no bigot: he did not shut his eyes that he might not see, and he believed what his eyes told him. He saw that Pantagruel worked very hard and spent all his time at it, and yet he got no good by it. And what was worse, he was becoming daft, silly, dreamy, and besotted through it. So Pantagruel was taken away from his former masters and handed over to Ponocrates, a teacher of quite a different sort, who was bidden to take him to Paris to make a new creature of him and complete his education there. Ponocrates was very careful not to send him to any college. Rabelais, as it appears, had a special aversion for Montaigu College. ‘Tempeste,’ says he, ‘was a great boy-flogger at Montaigu College. If for flogging poor little children, unoffending school-boys, pedagogues are damned, he, upon my word of honor, is now on Ixion’s wheel, flogging the dock-tailed cur that turns it.’ Pantagruel’s education was now humane and gentle. Accordingly he soon took pleasure in the work which Ponocrates was at the pains of rendering interesting to him by the very nature and the variety of the subjects of it. . . . Is it not a very remarkable phenomenon that at such a time and in such a condition of public instruction a man should have had sufficient sagacity not only to regard the natural sciences as one of the principal subjects of study which ought to be included in a course of education, but further to make the observation of nature the basis of that study, to fix the pupil’s attention upon examination of facts, and to impress upon him the necessity of applying his knowledge by studying those practical arts and industries which profit by such applications? That, however, Rabelais did, probably by dint of sheer good sense, and without having any notion himself about the wide bearing of his ideas. Ponocrates took Pantagruel through a course of what we should nowadays call practical study of the exact and natural sciences as they were understood in the sixteenth century; but, at the same time, far from forgetting the moral sciences, he assigns to them, for each day, a definite place and an equally practical character. ‘As soon as Pantagruel was up,’ he says, ‘some page or other of the sacred Scripture was read with him aloud and distinctly, with pronunciation suited to the subject. . . . In accordance with the design and purport of this lesson, he at frequent intervals devoted himself to doing reverence and saying prayers to the good God, whose majesty and marvellous judgments were shown forth in what was read. . . . When evening came, he and his teacher briefly recapitulated together, after the manner of the Pythagoreans, all that he had read, seen, learned, and heard in the course of the whole day. They prayed to God the Creator, worshipping Him, glorifying Him for his boundless goodness, giving Him thanks for all the time that was past, and commending themselves to His divine mercy for all that was to come. This done, they went to their rest.’ And at the end of this course of education, so complete both from the worldly and the religious point of view, Rabelais shows us young Pantagruel living in affectionate and respectful intimacy with his father Gargantua, who, as he sees him off on his travels, gives him these last words of advice: Science without conscience is nought but ruin to the soul; it behooves thee to serve, love, and fear God. Have thou in suspicion the abuses of the world; set not thine heart on vanity, for this life is transitory, but the word of God abideth forever. Reverence thy teachers; flee the company of those whom thou wouldest not resemble. . . . And when thou feelest sure that thou hast acquired all that is to be learned yonder, return to me that I may see thee and give thee my blessing ere I die.’”

After what was said above about the personal habits and the works of Rabelais, these are certainly not the ideas, sentiments, and language one would expect to find at the end and as the conclusion of his life and his book. And it is precisely on account of this contrast that more space has been accorded in this history to the man and his book than would in the natural course of things have been due to them. At bottom and, beyond their mere appearances the life and the book of Rabelais are a true and vivid reflection of the moral and social ferment characteristic of his time. A time of innovation and of obstruction, of corruption and of regeneration, of decay and of renaissance, all at once. A deeply serious crisis in a strong and complicated social system, which had been hitherto exposed to the buffets and the risks of brute force, but was intellectually full of life and aspiration, was in travail of a double yearning for reforming itself and setting itself in order, and did indeed, in the sixteenth century, attempt at one and the same time a religious and a political reformation, the object whereof, missed as it was at that period, is still at the bottom of all true Frenchmen’s trials and struggles. This great movement of the sixteenth century we are now about to approach, and will attempt to fix its character with precision and mark the imprint of its earliest steps.







Nearly half a century before the Reformation made any noise in France it had burst out with great force and had established its footing in Germany, Switzerland, and England. John Huss and Jerome of Prague, both born in Bohemia, one in 1373 and the other in 1378, had been condemned as heretics and burned at Constance, one in 1415 and the other in 1416, by decree and in the presence of the council which had been there assembled. But, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, Luther in Germany and Zwingle in Switzerland had taken in hand the work of the Reformation, and before half that century had rolled by they had made the foundations of their new church so strong that their powerful adversaries, with Charles V. at their head, felt obliged to treat with them and recognize their position in the European world, though all the while disputing their right. In England, Henry VIII., under the influence of an unbridled passion, as all his passions were, for Anna Boleyn, had, in 1531, broken with the church of Rome, whose pope, Clement VII., refused very properly to pronounce him divorced from his wife Catherine of Aragon, and the king had proclaimed himself the spiritual head of the English church without meeting either amongst his clergy or in his kingdom with any effectual opposition. Thus in these three important states of Western Europe the Reformers had succeeded, and the religious revolution was in process of accomplishment.

The First Protestants——178

In France it was quite otherwise. Not that, there too, there were not amongst Christians profound dissensions and ardent desires for religious reform. We will dwell directly upon its explosion, its vicissitudes, and its characteristics. But France did not contain, as Germany did, several distinct states, independent and pretty strong, though by no means equally so, which could offer to the different creeds a secure asylum, and could form one with another coalitions capable of resisting the head of that incohesive coalition which was called the empire of Germany. In the sixteenth century, on the contrary, the unity of the French monarchy was established, and it was all, throughout its whole extent, subject to the same laws and the same master, as regarded the religious bodies as well as the body politic. In this monarchy, however, there did not happen to be, at the date of the sixteenth century, a sovereign audacious enough and powerful enough to gratify his personal passions at the cost of embroiling himself, like Henry VIII., with the spiritual head of Christendom, and, from the mere desire for a change of wife, to change the regimen of the church in his dominions. Francis I., on the contrary, had scarcely ascended the throne when, by abolishing the Pragmatic Sanction and signing the Concordat of 1516, he attached himself more closely to the papacy. The nascent Reformation, then, did not meet in France with either of the two important circumstances, politically considered, which in Germany and in England rendered its first steps more easy and more secure. It was in the cause of religious creeds alone, and by means of moral force alone, that she had to maintain the struggles in which she engaged.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, there lived, at a small castle near Gap in Dauphiny, in the bosom of a noble and unostentatiously pious family, a young man of ardent imagination, fiery temperament, and energetic character, who shared his relatives’ creeds and joined in their devotions, but grew weary of the monotony of his thoughts and of his life. William Farel heard talk of another young man, his contemporary and neighbor, Peter du Terrail, even now almost famous under the name of Bayard. “Such sons,” was said in his hearing, “are as arrows in the hand of a giant; blessed is he who has his quiver full of them!” Young Farel pressed his father to let him go too and make himself a man in the world. The old gentleman would willingly have permitted his son to take up such a life as Bayard’s; but it was towards the University of Paris, “that mother of all the sciences, that pure and shining mirror of the faith,” that the young man’s aspirations were directed. The father at first opposed, but afterwards yielded to his wishes; and, about 1510, William Farel quitted Gap and arrived at Paris. The questions raised by the councils of Bale and Florence, and by the semi-political, semi-ecclesiastical assembly at Tours, which had been convoked by Louis XII., the instruction at the Parisian University, and the attacks of the Sorbonne on the study of Greek and Hebrew, branded as heresy, were producing a lively agitation in the public mind. A doctor of theology, already advanced in years, of small stature, of mean appearance, and of low origin, Jacques Lefevre by name, born at Etaples in Picardy, had for seventeen years filled with great success a professorship in the university. “Amongst many thousands of men,” said Erasmus, “you will not find any of higher integrity and more versed in polite letters.” “He is very fond of me,” wrote Zwingle about him; “he is perfectly open and good; he argues, he sings, he plays, and be laughs with me at the follies of the world.” Some circumstance or other brought the young student and the old scholar together; they liked one another, and soon became friends. Farel was impressed by his master’s devotion as well as learning; he saw him on his knees at church praying fervently; and, “Never,” said he, “had I seen a chanter of mass who chanted it with deeper reverence.” But this old-fashioned piety did not interfere at all with the freedom of the professor’s ideas and conversations touching either the abuses or the doctrines of the church. “How shameful it is,” he would say, “to see a bishop soliciting people to drink with him, caring for nought but gaming, constantly handling the dice and the dice-box, constantly hunting, hallooing after birds and game, frequenting bad houses! . . . Religion has but one foundation, but one end, but one head, Jesus Christ blessed forever; he alone trod the wine-press. Let us not, then, call ourselves by the name of St. Paul, or Apollos, or St. Peter.” These free conversations worked, not all at once, but none the less effectually, upon those who heard them. “The end was,” says Farel, “that little by little the papacy slipped from its place in my heart; it did not come down at the first shock.” At the same time that he thus talked with his pupils, Lefevre of Etaples published a commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, and then a commentary on the Gospels. “Christians,” said he, “are those only who love Jesus Christ and His word. May everything be illumined with His light! Through it may there be a return of times like those of that primitive church which devoted to Jesus Christ so many martyrs! May the Lord of the harvest, foreseeing a new harvest, send new and diligent laborers! . . . My dear William,” he added, turning to Farel and taking his hand, “God will renew the world, and you will see it!”

It was not only professors and pupils, scholars grown old in meditation and young folks eager for truth, liberty, action, and renown, who welcomed passionately those boundless and undefined hopes, those yearnings towards a brilliant and at the same time a vague future, at which they looked forward, according to the expression used by Lefevre of Etaples to Farel, to a “renewal of the world.” Men holding a social position very different from that of the philosophers, men with minds formed on an acquaintance with facts and in the practice of affairs, took part in this intellectual and religious ferment, and protected and encouraged its fervent adherents. William Briconnet, Bishop of Meaux, a prelate who had been Louis XII.‘s ambassador to Pope Julius II., and one amongst the negotiators of Francis I.‘s Concordat with Leo X., opened his diocese to the preachers and writers recommended to him by his friend Lefevre of Staples, and supported them in their labors for the translation and propagation, amongst the people, of the Holy Scriptures. They had at court, and near the king’s own person, the avowed support of his sister, Princess Marguerite, who was beautiful, sprightly, affable, kind, disposed towards all lofty and humane sentiments as well as all intellectual pleasures, and an object of the sometimes rash attentions of the most eminent and most different men of her time, Charles V., the Constable de Bourbon, Admiral Bonnivet, and Clement Marot. Marguerite, who was married to the Duke d’Alencon, widowed in 1525, and married a second time, in 1527, to Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre, was all her life at Pau and at Nerac, as well as at Paris, a centre, a focus of social, literary, religious, and political movement. “The king her brother loved her dearly,” says Brantome, “and always called her his darling. . . Very often, when he had important business, he left it to her, waiting for her definitive and conclusive decision.

The Castle of Pau——183

The ambassadors who talked with her were enchanted by her, and always went to see her after having paid their first ambassadorial visit. She had so great a regard and affection for the king, that when she heard of his dangerous illness she said, ‘Whosoever shall come to my door, and announce to me the recovery of the king my brother, such courier, should he be tired, and worn out, and muddy, and dirty, I will go and kiss and embrace as if he were the sprucest prince and gentleman of France; and, should he be in want of a bed and unable to find one whereon to rid him of his weariness, I would give him mine, and I would rather lie on the hard, for the good news he brought me.’ . . . She was suspected of inclining to the religion of Luther, but she never made any profession or sign thereof; and, if she believed it, she kept it in her heart very secret, inasmuch as the king did hate it sorely.” . . . “The heresy was seen glimmering here and there,” says another contemporary witness [Florimond de Raimond in his Histoire de l’Heresie], “but it appeared and disappeared like a nightly meteor which has but a flickering brightness.”—At bottom this reserve was quite in conformity with the mental condition of that class, or as one might he inclined to say, that circle of Reformers at court. Luther and Zwingle had distinctly declared war on the papacy; Henry VIII. had with a flourish separated England from the Romish church; Marguerite de Valois and Bishop Briconnet neither wished nor demanded so much; they aspired no further than to reform the abuses of the Romish church by the authority of that church itself, in concert with its heads and according to its traditional regimen; they had no idea of more than dealing kindly, and even sympathetically, with the liberties and the progress of science and human intelligence. Confined within these limits, the idea was legitimate and honest enough, but it showed want of foresight, and was utterly vain. When, whether in state or church, the vices and defects of government have lasted for ages and become habits not only inveterate but closely connected with powerful personal interests, a day at last comes when the deplorable result is seen in pig-headedness and weakness. Then there is an explosion of deep-seated and violent shocks, from which infinitely more is expected than they can accomplish, and which, even when they are successful, cost the people very dear, for their success is sullied and incomplete. A certain amount of good government and general good sense is a necessary preface and preparation for any good sort of reform. Happy the nations who are spared by their wisdom or their good fortune the cruel trial of only obtaining such reforms as they need when they have been reduced to prosecute them beneath the slings and arrows of outrageous revolution! Christian France in the sixteenth century was not so favorably situated.

During the first years of Francis I.‘s reign (from 1515 to 1520) young and ardent Reformers, such as William Farel and his friends, were but isolated individuals, eager after new ideas and studies, very favorable towards all that came to them from Germany, but without any consistency yet as a party, and without having committed any striking act of aggression against the Roman church. Nevertheless they were even then, so far as the heads and the devoted adherents of that church were concerned, objects of serious disquietude and jealous supervision.

William Farel——181

The Sorbonne, in particular, pronounced vehemently against them. Luther and his progress were beginning to make a great noise in France. After his discussion with Dr. Eck at Leipzig in 1519 he had consented to take for judges the Universities of Erfurt and Paris; on the 20th of January, 1520, the quoestor of the nation of France bought twenty copies of Luther’s conference with Dr. Eck to distribute amongst the members of his committee; the University gave more than a year to its examination. “All Europe,” says Crevier, “was waiting for the decision of the University of Paris.” Whenever an incident occurred or a question arose, “We shall see,” said they of the Sorbonne, “what sort of folks hold to Luther. Why, that fellow is worse than Luther!” In April, 1521, the University solemnly condemned Luther’s writings, ordering that they should be publicly burned, and that the author should be compelled to retract. The Syndic of the Sorbonne, Noel Bedier, who, to give his name a classical twang, was called Beda, had been the principal and the most eager actor in this procedure; he was a theologian full of subtlety, obstinacy, harshness, and hatred. “In a single Beda there are three thousand monks,” Erasmus used to say of him. The syndic had at court two powerful patrons, the king’s mother, Louise of Savoy, and the chancellor, Duprat, both decided enemies of the Reformers. Louise of Savoy, in consequence of her licentious morals and her thirst for riches; Duprat, by reason of the same thirst, and of his ambition to become an equally great lord in the church as in the state; and he succeeded, for in 1525 he was appointed Archbishop of Sens. They were, moreover, both of them, opposed to any liberal reform, and devoted, in any case, to absolute power. Beaucaire de Peguilhem, a contemporary and most Catholic historian,—for he accompanied the Cardinal of Lorraine to the Council of Trent,—calls Duprat “the most vicious of bipeds.” Such patrons did not lack hot-headed executants of their policy; friendly relations had not ceased between the Reformers and their adversaries; a Jacobin monk, De Roma by name, was conversing one day at Meaux with Farel and his friends; the Reformers expressed the hopes they had in the propagation of the gospel; De Roma all at once stood up, shouting, “Then I and all the rest of the brotherhood will preach a crusade we will stir up the people; and if the king permits the preaching of your gospel, we will have him expelled by his own subjects from his own kingdom.” Fanatical passions were already at work, though the parties were too unequal as yet to come to actual force.

Against such passions the Reformers found Francis I. a very indecisive and very inefficient protector. “I wish,” said he, “to give men of letters special marks of my favor.” When deputies from the Sorbonne came and requested him to put down the publication of learned works taxed with heresy, “I do not wish,” he replied, “to have those folks meddled with; to persecute those who instruct us would be to keep men of ability from coming to our country.” But in spite of his language, orders were given to the bishops to furnish the necessary funds for the prosecution of heretics, and, when the charge of heresy became frequent, Francis I. no longer repudiated it. “Those people,” he said, “do nothing but bring trouble into the state.” Troubles, indeed, in otherwise tranquil provinces, where the Catholic faith was in great force, often accompanied the expression of those wishes for reform to which the local clergy themselves considered it necessary to make important concessions. A serious fire took place at Troyes in 1524. “It was put down,” says M. Boutiot, a learned and careful historian of that town, “to the account of the new religious notions, as well as to that of the Emperor Charles V.‘s friends and the Constable de Bourbon’s partisans. As early as 1520 there had begun to be felt at Troyes the first symptoms of repressive measures directed against the Reformation; in 1523, 1527, and 1528, provincial councils were held at Meaux, Lyons, Rouen, Bourges, and Paris, to oppose the Lutherans. These councils drew up regulations tending to reformation of morals and of religious ceremonies; they decided that the administration of the sacraments should take place without any demand for money, and that preachers, in their sermons, should confine themselves to the sacred books, and not quote poets or profane authors; they closed the churches to profane assemblies and burlesques (fetes des fous); they ordered the parish priests, in their addresses (au prone), to explain the gospel of the day; they ruled that a stop should be put to the abuses of excommunication; they interdicted the publication of any book on religious subjects without the permission of the bishop of the diocese. . . . Troyes at that time contained some enlightened men; William Bude (Budaeus) was in uninterrupted communication with it; the Pithou family, represented by their head, Peter Pithou, a barrister at Troyes and a man highly thought of, were in correspondence with the Reformers, especially with Lefevre of Etaples.” [Histoire de la Ville de Troyes et de la Champagne meridionale, by T. Boutiot, 1873, t. iii. p. 379.] And thus was going on throughout almost the whole of France, partly in the path of liberty, partly in that of concessions, partly in that of hardships, the work of the Reformation, too weak as yet and too disconnected to engage to any purpose in a struggle, but even now sufficiently wide-spread and strong to render abortive any attempt to strangle it.

The defeat at Pavia and the captivity of Francis I. at Madrid placed the governing power for thirteen months in the hands of the most powerful foes of the Reformation, the regent Louise of Savoy and the chancellor Duprat. They used it unsparingly, with the harsh indifference of politicians who will have, at any price, peace within their dominions and submission to authority. It was under their regimen that there took place the first martyrdom decreed and executed in France upon a partisan of the Reformation for an act of aggression and offence against the Catholic church. John Leclerc, a wool-carder at Meaux, seeing a bull of indulgences affixed to the door of Meaux cathedral, had torn it down, and substituted for it a placard in which the pope was described as Antichrist. Having been arrested on the spot, he was, by decree of the Parliament of Paris, whipped publicly, three days consecutively, and branded on the forehead by the hangman in the presence of his mother, who cried, “Jesus Christ forever!” He was banished, and retired in July, 1525, to Metz; and there he was working at his trade when he heard that a solemn procession was to take place, next day, in the environs of the town. In his blind zeal he went and broke down the images at the feet of which the Catholics were to have burned incense. Being arrested on his return to the town, he, far from disavowing the deed, acknowledged it and gloried in it. He was sentenced to a horrible punishment; his right hand was cut off, his nose was torn out, pincers were applied to his arms, his nipples were plucked out, his head was confined in two circlets of red-hot iron, and, whilst he was still chanting, in a loud voice, this versicle from the cxvth Psalm,—

“Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.”

his bleeding and mutilated body was thrown upon the blazing fagots. He had a younger brother, Peter Leclerc, a simple wool-carder like himself, who remained at Meaux, devoted to the same faith and the same cause. “Great clerc,” says a contemporary chronicler, playing upon his name, “who knew no language but that which he had learned from his nurse, but who, being thoroughly grounded in the holy writings, besides the integrity of his life, was chosen by the weavers and became the first minister of the gospel seen in France.” An old man of Meaux, named Stephen Mangin, offered his house, situated near the market-place, for holding regular meetings. Forty or fifty of the faithful formed the nucleus of the little church which grew up. Peter Leclerc preached and administered the sacraments in Stephen Mangin’s house so regularly that, twenty years after his brother John’s martyrdom, the meetings, composed partly of believers who flocked in from the neighboring villages, were from three to four hundred in number. One day when they had celebrated the Lord’s Supper, the 8th of September, 1546, the house was surrounded, and nearly sixty persons, men, women, and children, who allowed themselves to be arrested without making any resistance, were taken. They were all sent before the Parliament of Paris; fourteen of the men were sentenced to be burned alive in the great marketplace at Meaux, on the spot nearest to the house in which the crime of heresy had been committed; and their wives, together with their nearest relatives, were sentenced to be present at the execution, “the men bare-headed and the women ranged beside them individually, in such sort that they might be distinguished amongst the rest.” The decree was strictly carried out.

Burning of Reformers at Meaux——188

It costs a pang to recur to these hideous exhibitions, but it must be done; for history not only has a right, but is bound to do justice upon the errors and crimes of the past, especially when the past had no idea of guilt in the commission of them. A wit of the last century, Champfort, used to say, “There is nothing more dangerous than an honest man engaged in a rascally calling.” There is nothing more dangerous than errors and crimes of which the perpetrators do not see the absurd and odious character. The contemporary historian, Sleidan, says, expressly, “The common people in France hold that there are no people more wicked and criminal that heretics; generally, as long as they are a prey to the blazing fagots, the people around them are excited to frenzy and curse them in the midst of their torments.” The sixteenth century is that period of French history at which this intellectual and moral blindness cost France “Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands,”— most dear; it supplied the bad passions of men with a means, of which they amply availed themselves, of gratifying then without scruple and without remorse. If, in the early part of this century, the Reformation was as yet without great leaders, it was not, nevertheless, amongst only the laborers, the humble and the poor, that it found confessors and martyrs. The provincial nobility, the burgesses of the towns, the magistracy, the bar, the industrial classes as well as the learned, even then furnished their quota of devoted and faithful friends. A nobleman, a Picard by birth, born about 1490 at Passy, near Paris, where he generally lived, Louis de Berquin by name, was one of the most distinguished of them by his social position, his elevated ideas, his learning, the purity of his morals, and the dignity of his life. Possessed of a patrimonial estate, near Abbeville, which brought him in a modest income of six hundred crowns a year, and a bachelor, he devoted himself to study and to religious matters with independence of mind and with a pious heart. “Most faithfully observant,” says Erasmus, “of the ordinances and rites of the church, to wit, prescribed fasts, holy days, forbidden meats, masses, sermons, and, in a word, all, that tends to piety, he strongly reprobated the doctrines of Luther.” He was none the less, in 1523, denounced to the Parliament of Paris as being on the side of the Reformers. He had books, it was said; he even composed them himself on questions of faith, and he had been engaged in some sort of dispute with the theologian William de Coutance, head of Harcourt College.


The attorney-general of the Parliament ordered one of his officers to go and make an examination of Berquin’s books as well as papers, and to seize what appeared to him to savor of heresy. The officer brought away divers works of Luther, Melancthon, and Carlostadt, and some original treatises of Berquin himself, which were deposited in the keeping of the court. The theological faculty claimed to examine them as being within their competence. On being summoned by the attorney-general, Berquin demanded to be present when an inventory was made of his books or manuscripts, and to give such explanations as he should deem necessary; and his request was granted without question. On the 26th of June, 1523, the commissioners of the Sorbonne made their report. On the 8th of July, Peter Lizet, king’s advocate, read it out to the court. The matter came on again for hearing on the 1st of August. Berquin was summoned and interrogated, and, as the result of this interrogatory, was arrested and carried off to imprisonment at the Conciergerie in the square tower. On the 5th of August sentence was pronounced, and Louis de Berquin was remanded to appear before the Bishop of Paris, as being charged with heresy, “in which case,” says the Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, “he would have been in great danger of being put to death according to law, as he had well deserved.” The public were as ready as the accusers to believe in the crime and to impatiently await its punishment.

It was not without surprise or without displeasure that, on the 8th of August, just as they had “made over to the Bishop of Paris, present and accepting” the prisoner confined in the Conciergerie, the members of the council-chamber observed the arrival of Captain Frederic, belonging to the archers of the king’s guard, and bringing a letter from the king, who changed the venue in Berquin’s case so as to decide it himself at his grand council; in consequence of which the prisoner would have to be handed over, not to the bishop, but to the king. The chamber remonstrated; Berquin was no longer their prisoner; the matter had been decided; it was the bishop to whom application must be made. But these remonstrances had been foreseen; the captain had verbal instructions to carry off Louis de Berquin by force in case of a refusal to give him up. The chamber decided upon handing over the bishop’s prisoner to the king, contenting themselves with causing the seized books and manuscripts to be burned that very day in the space in front of Notre Dame. It was whilst repairing to the scene of war in Italy, and when he was just entering Melun, where he merely passed through, that the king had given this unexpected order, on the very day, August 5, on which the Parliament pronounced the decree which sent Berquin to appear before the Bishop of Paris. There is no clear trace of the vigilant protect, or who had so closely watched the proceedings against Berquin, and so opportunely appealed for the king’s interference. In any incident of this sort there is a temptation to presume that the influence was that of Princess Marguerite; but it is not certain that she was at this time anywhere near the king; perhaps John du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne, acted for her. Francis I. was, moreover, disposed to extend protection, of his own accord, to gentlemen and scholars against furious theologians, when the latter were not too formidable for him. However that may be, Berquin, on becoming the king’s prisoner, was summoned before the chancellor, Duprat, who, politely reproaching him with having disquieted the church, confined himself to requesting that he would testify some regret for it. Berquin submitted with a good grace, and, being immediately set at liberty, left Paris and repaired to his estate in Picardy.

Whilst he there resumed his life of peaceful study, the Parliament continued to maintain in principle and openly proclaim its right of repression against heretics. On the 12th of August, 1523, it caused notice to be given, by sound of trumpet, throughout the whole of Paris, that clergy and laymen were to deposit in the keeping of the Palace all Luther’s books that they possessed. Laymen who did not comply with this order would have their property confiscated; clergymen would be deprived of their temporalities and banished. Toleration, in a case of suspected heresy, was an act of the king’s which itself required toleration; proceedings against heresy remained the law of the land, constantly hanging over every head.

Eighteen months later, in May, 1525, there seemed to be no further thought about Berquin; but the battle of Pavia was lost; Francis I. was a prisoner at Madrid; Louise of Savoy and the chancellor, Duprat, wielded the power. The question of heretics again came to the front. “The queen must be told,” said Peter Lizet, king’s advocate, “as St. Gregory told Brunehaut, Queen of the Franks, that the best way of driving away the enemies of the kingdom is to drive away from it the enemies of God and His spouse, the Church.” On the 10th of April, 1525, on occasion of giving the regent some counsel as to her government, the Parliament strongly recommended her to take proceedings against the heretics. “The court,” they said to her, “has before now passed several provisional decrees against the guilty, which have not been executed because of the evil disposition of the times and the hinderances effected by the delinquents, who have found means of suspending and delaying the judgments given against them, as well by transference of the venue to the grand council as by seizure and removal of certain of them, prisoners at the time, whom they have had withdrawn from their prisons by exercise of sovereign and absolute power, which has given the rest occasion and boldness to follow the evil doctrine.” It was impossible to reproach the king more broadly with having set Berquin at liberty. The Parliament further advised the regent to ask the pope to send over to France pontifical delegates invested with his own powers to watch and to try in his name “even archbishops, bishops, and abbots, who by their deeds, writings, or discourses, should render themselves suspected of a leaning towards heresy.” Louise of Savoy, without any appearance of being hurt by the attack made by the Parliament on the acts of the king her son, eagerly followed the advice given her; and on the 20th of May, 1525, Clement VII., in his turn, eagerly appointed four delegates commissioned to try all those suspected of heresy, who, in case of condemnation, were to be left to the secular arm. On the very day on which the pope appointed his delegates, the faculty of theology at Paris passed censure upon divers writings of Erasmus, translated and spread abroad in France by Berquin; and on the 8th of January, 1526, the Bishop of Amiens demanded of the Parliament authority “to order the body to be seized of Louis de Berquin, who resided in his diocese and was scandalizing it by his behavior.” The Parliament authorized his arrest; and, on the 24th of January, Berquin was once more a prisoner in the Conciergerie, at the same time that orders were given to seize all his books and papers, whether at his own house or at that of his friend the Lord of Rambure at Abbeville. The great trial of Berquin for heresy was recommenced, and in it the great name of Erasmus was compromised.

When the question was thus solemnly reopened, Berquin’s defenders were much excited. Defenders, we have said; but, in truth, history names but one, the Princess Marguerite, who alone showed any activity, and alone did anything to the purpose. She wrote at once to the king, who was still at Madrid “My desire to obey your commands was sufficiently strong without having it redoubled by the charity you have been pleased to show to poor Berquin according to your promise; I feel sure that He for whom I believe him to have suffered will approve of the mercy which, for His honor, you have had upon His servant and yours.” Francis I. had, in fact, written to suspend until his return the proceedings against Berquin, as well as those against Lefevre, Roussel, and all the other doctors suspected of heresy. The regent transmitted the king’s orders to the pope’s delegates, who presented themselves on the 20th of February before the Parliament to ask its advice. “The king is as badly advised as he himself is good,” said the dean of the faculty of theology. The Parliament answered that “for a simple letter missive” it could not adjourn; it must have a letter patent; and it went on with the trial. Berquin presented several demands for delay, evidently in order to wait for the king’s return and personal intervention. The court refused them; and, on the 5th of March, 1526, the judgment was read to him in his prison at the Conciergerie. It was to the effect that his books should be again burned before his eyes, that he should declare his approval of so just a sentence, and that he should earn the compassion of the church by not refusing her any satisfaction she might demand; else he should himself go to the stake.

Whilst Berquin’s trial was thus coming to an end, Francis I. was entering France once more in freedom, crying, “So I am king again!” During the latter days of March, amongst the numerous personages who came to congratulate him was John de Selve, premier president of the Parliament of Paris. The king gave him a very cold reception. “My lords,” wrote the premier president to his court, “I heard, through M. de Selve, my nephew, about some displeasure that was felt as regards our body, and I also perceived it myself. I have already begun to speak of it to Madame [the king’s mother]. I will do, as I am bound to, my duty towards the court, with God’s help.” On the 1st of April the king, who intended to return by none but slow stages to Paris, wrote from Mont-de-Marsan, to the judges holding his court of Parliament at Paris:—

“We have presently been notified how that, notwithstanding that, through our dear and much-loved lady and mother, regent in France during our absence, it was written unto you and ordered that you would be pleased not to proceed in any way whatever with the matter of Sieur Berquin, lately detained a prisoner, until we should have been enabled to return to this our kingdom, you have, nevertheless, at the request and pursuance of his ill-wishers, so far proceeded with his business that you have come to a definitive judgment on it. Whereat we cannot be too much astounded. . . . For this cause we do will and command and enjoin upon you . . that you are not to proceed to execution of the said judgment, which, as the report is, you have pronounced against the said Berquin, but shall put him, himself and the depositions and the proceedings in his said trial, in such safe keeping that you may be able to answer to us for them. . . . And take care that you make no default therein, for we do warn you that, if default there be, we shall look to such of you as shall seem good to us to answer to us for it.”

Here was not only a letter patent, but a letter minatory. As to the execution of their judgment, the Parliament obeyed the king’s injunction, maintaining, however, the principle as well as the legality of Berquin’s sentence, and declaring that they awaited the king’s orders to execute it. “According to the teaching of the two Testaments,” they said, “God ever rageth, in His just wrath, against the nations who fail to enforce respect for the laws prescribed by Himself. It is important, moreover, to hasten the event in order as soon as possible to satisfy, independently of God, the people who murmur and whose impatience is becoming verily troublesome.” Francis I. did not reply. He would not have dared, even in thought, to attack the question of principle as to the chastisement of heresy, and he was afraid of weakening his own Authority too much if he humiliated his Parliament too much; it was sufficient for him that he might consider Berquin’s life to be safe. Kings are protectors who are easily satisfied when their protection, to be worth anything, might entail upon them the necessity of an energetic struggle and of self-compromise. “Trust not in princes nor their children,” said Lord Strafford, after the Psalmist [Nolite confidere principibus et filiis eorum, quia non est sales in illis, Ps. cxlvi.], when, in the seventeenth century, he found that Charles I. was abandoning him to the English Parliament and the executioner. Louis de Berquin might have felt similar distrust as to Francis I., but his nature was confident and hopeful; when he knew of the king’s letter to the Parliament, he considered himself safe, and he testified as much to Erasmus in a long letter, in which he told him the story of his trial, and alluded to “the fresh outbreak of anger on the part of those hornets who accuse me of heresy,” said he, “simply because I have translated into the vulgar tongue some of your little works, wherein they pretend that they have discovered the most monstrous pieces of impiety.” He transmitted to Erasmus a list of the paragraphs which the pope’s delegates had condemned, pressing him to reply, “as you well know how. The king esteems you much, and will esteem you still more when you have heaped confusion on this brood of benighted theologians whose ineptitude is no excuse for their violence.” By a strange coincidence, Berquin’s most determined foe, Noel Beda, provost of the Sorbonne, sent at the same time to Erasmus a copy of more than two hundred propositions which had been extracted from his works, and against which he, Beda, also came forward as accuser. Erasmus was a prudent man, and did not seek strife; but when he was personally and offensively attacked by enemies against whom he was conscious of his strength, he exhibited it proudly and ably; and he replied to Beda by denouncing him, on the 6th of June, to the Parliament of Paris itself, as an impudent and ignorant calumniator. His letter, read at the session of Parliament on the 5th of July, 1526, was there listened to with profound deference, and produced a sensation which did not remain without effect; in vain did Beda persist in accusing Erasmus of heresy and in maintaining that he was of the brotherhood of Luther; Parliament considered him in the wrong, provisionally prohibited the booksellers from vending his libels against Erasmus, and required previous authorization to be obtained for all books destined for the press by the rectors of the Sorbonne.

The success of Erasmus was also a success for Berquin; but he was still in prison, ill and maltreated. The king wrote on the 11th of July to Parliament to demand that he should enjoy at least all the liberties that the prison would admit of, that he should no longer be detained in an unhealthy cell, and that he should be placed in that building of the Conciergerie where the court-yard was. “That,” was the answer, “would be a bad precedent; they never put in the court-yard convicts who had incurred the penalty of death.” An offer was made to Berquin of the chamber reserved for the greatest personages, for princes of the blood, and of permission to walk in the court-yard for two hours a day, one in the morning and the other in the evening, in the absence of the other prisoners. Neither the king nor Berquin was inclined to be content with these concessions. The king in his irritation sent from Beaugency, on the 5th of October, two archers of his guard with a letter to this effect: “It is marvellously strange that what we ordered has not yet been done. We do command and most expressly enjoin upon you, this once for all, that you are incontinently to put and deliver the said Berquin into the hands of the said Texier and Charles do Broc, whom we have ordered to conduct him to our castle of the Louvre.” The court still objected; a prisoner favored by so high a personage, it was said, would soon be out of such a prison. The objection resulted in a formal refusal to obey. The provost of Paris, John de la Barre, the king’s premier gentleman, was requested to repair to the palace and pay Berquin a visit, to ascertain from himself what could be done for him. Berquin, for all that appears, asked for nothing but liberty to read and write. “It is not possible,” was the reply; “such liberty is never granted to those who are condemned to death.” As a great favor, Berquin was offered a copy of the Letters of St. Jerome and some volumes of history; and the provost had orders not to omit that fact in his report: “The king must be fully assured that the court do all they can to please him.”

Berquin Released by John de La Barre——198

But it was to no purpose. On the 19th of November, 1526, the provost of Paris returned to the palace with a letter from the king, formally commanding him to remove Berquin and transfer him to the Louvre. The court again protested that they would not deliver over the said Berquin to the said provost; but, they said, “seeing what the times are, the said provost will be able to find free access to the Conciergerie, for to do there what he hath a mind to.” The same day, about six in the evening, John de la Barre repaired to the Conciergerie, and removed from it Louis de Berquin, whom he handed over to the captain of the guard and four archers, who took him away to the Louvre. Two months afterwards, in January, 1527, Princess Marguerite married Henry d’Albret, King of Navarre, and about the same time, though it is difficult to discover the exact day, Louis de Berquin issued forth a free man from the Louvre, and the new queen, on taking him at once into her service, wrote to the Constable Anne de Montmorency, whom the king had charged with the duty of getting Berquin set at liberty, “I thank you for the pleasure you have done me in the matter of poor Berquin, whom I esteem as much as if he were myself; and so you may say that you have delivered me from prison, since I consider in that light the pleasure done to me.”

Marguerite’s sympathetic joy was as natural as touching; she must have thought Berquin safe; he was free and in the service of one who was fundamentally a sovereign-prince, though living in France and in dependence upon the King of France, whose sister he had just married. In France, Berquin was under the stigma of having been condemned to death as a heretic, and was confronted by determined enemies. In so perilous a position his safety depended upon his courting oblivion. But instead of that, and consulting only the dictates of his generous and blind confidence in the goodness of his cause, he resolved to assume the offensive and to cry for justice against his enemies. “Beneath the cloak of religion,” he wrote to Erasmus, “the priests conceal the vilest passions, the most corrupt morals, and the most scandalous infidelity. It is necessary to rend the veil which covers them, and boldly bring an accusation of impiety against the Sorbonne, Rome, and all their flunkies.” Erasmus, justly alarmed, used all his influence to deter him: but “the more confidence he showed,” says he, “the more I feared for him. I wrote to him frequently, begging him to get quit of the case by some expedient, or even to withdraw himself on the pretext of a royal ambassadorship obtained by the influence of his friends. I told him that the theologians would probably, as time went on, let his affair drop, but that they would never admit themselves to be guilty of impiety. I told him to always bear in mind what a hydra was that Beda, and at how many mouths he belched forth venom. I told him to reflect well that he was about to commit himself with a foe that was immortal, for a faculty never dies, and to rest assured that after having brought three monks to bay, he would have to defend himself against numerous legions, not only opulent and powerful, but, besides, very dishonest and very experienced in the practice of every kind of cheatery, who would never rest until they had effected his ruin, were his cause as just as Christ’s. I told him not to trust too much to the king’s protection, the favor of princes being unstable and their affections easily alienated by the artifices of informers. . . . And if all this could not move him, I told him not to involve me in his business, for, with his permission, I was not at all inclined to get into any tangle with legions of monks and a whole faculty of theology. But I did not succeed in convincing him; whilst I argued in so many ways to deter him from his design, I did nothing but excite his courage.”

Not only did Berquin turn a deaf ear to the wise counsels of Erasmus, but his protectress, Marguerite, being moved by his courage, and herself also as imprudent as she was generous, persuaded herself that he was in the right, and supported him in his undertaking. She wrote to the king her brother, “Poor Berquin, who, through your goodness, holds that God has twice preserved his life, throws himself upon you, having no longer any one to whom he can have recourse, for to give you to understand his innocence; and whereas, Monseigneur, I know the esteem in which you hold him and the desire he hath always had to do you service, I do not fear to entreat you, by letter instead of speech, to be pleased to have pity on him. And if it please you to show signs of taking his matter to heart, I hope that the truth, which he will make to appear, will convict the forgers of heretics of being slanderers and disobedient towards you rather than zealots for the faith.”

In his complaisance and indifference Francis I. attended to his sister’s wishes, and appeared to support Berquin in his appeal for a fresh and definite investigation of his case. On the other hand, Parliament, to whom the matter was referred, showed a disposition to take into account the king’s good will towards Berquin, lately convicted, but now become in his turn plaintiff and accuser. “We have no wish to dispute your power,” said the president, Charles de Guillard, to the king at a bed of justice held on the 24th of July, 1527: “it would be a species of sacrilege, and we know well that you are above the laws, and that neither laws nor ordinances can constrain you. Your most humble and most obedient court is comforted and rejoiced at your presence and advent, just as the apostles were when they saw their God after the resurrection. We are assured that your will is to be the peculiar protector and defender of religion, and not to permit or suffer in your kingdom any errors, heresies, or false doctrines.”

The matter thus reopened pursued its course slowly; twelve judges were appointed to give a definite decision; and the king himself nominated six, amongst whom he placed Berquin’s friend, William Bude. Various incidents unconnected with religious disputes supervened. The Queen of Navarre was brought to bed at Pau, on the 7th of January, 1528, of a daughter, Jeanne d’Albret, the future mother of Henry IV. The marriage of Princess Renee of France, daughter of Louis XII., with Duke Hercules of Ferrara, was concluded, and the preparations for its celebration were going on at Fontainebleau, when, on Monday, June 1, 1528, the day after the Feast of Pentecost, “some heretics came by night,” says the Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, “to an image of Notre-Dame de Pierre, which is at a corner of the street behind the church of Petit St. Antoine; to the which image they gave several blows with their weapons, and cut off her head and that of her little child, Our Lord. But it was never known who the image-breakers were.

Heretic Iconoclasts——201

The king, being then at Paris, and being advertised thereof, was so wroth and upset that, it is said, he wept right sore. And, incontinently, during the two days following, he caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet throughout the cross-roads of the city that if any persons knew who had done it they should make their report and statement to justice and to him, and he would give them a thousand crowns of gold. Nevertheless nothing could be known about it, although the king showed great diligence in the matter, and had officers commissioned to go from house to house to make inquiry. . . . On Tuesday and other days following there were special processions from the parish churches and other churches of the city, which nearly all of them went to the said place. . . . And on the day of the Fete-Dieu, which was the 11th day of the said month of June, the king went in procession, most devoutly, with the parish of St. Paul and all the clergy, to the spot where was the said image. He himself carried a lighted waxen taper, bareheaded, with very great reverence, having with him the band and hautbois with several clarions and trumpets, which made a glorious show, so melodiously did they play. And with him were the Cardinal of Lorraine, and several prelates and great lords, and all the gentlemen, having each a taper of white wax in their hands, and all his archers had each a waxen taper alight, and thus they went to the spot where was the said image, with very great honor and reverence, which was a beautiful sight to see, and with devotion.” [Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, pp. 347-351.]

In the sixteenth century men were far from understanding that respect is due to every religious creed sincerely professed and practised; the innovators, who broke the images of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, did not consider that by thus brutally attacking that which they regarded as a superstition, they were committing a revolting outrage upon Christian consciences. Such an incident was too favorable for Berquin’s enemies not to be eagerly turned to profit by them. Although his prosecution had been resumed, he had hitherto remained at large, and been treated respectfully; he repaired without any guard over him from the Louvre to the Palace of Justice. But now he was arrested, and once more confined in the tower of the Conciergerie. Some books of his, seized hap-hazard and sent to the syndic Beda, were found covered with notes, which were immediately pronounced to be heretical. On the 16th of April, 1529, he was brought before the court. “Louis Berquin,” said the president to him, “you are convicted of having belonged to the sect of Luther, and of having made wicked books against the majesty of God and of His glorious Mother. In consequence, we do sentence you to make honorable amends, bareheaded and with a waxen taper alight in your hand, in the great court of the palace, crying for mercy to God, the king, and the law, for the offence by you committed. After that, you will be conducted bareheaded and on foot to the Place de Greve, where your books will be burned before your eyes. Then you will be taken in front of the church of Notre-Dame, where you will make honorable amends to God and to the glorious Virgin His Mother. After which a hole will be pierced in your tongue, that member wherewith you have sinned. Lastly, you will be placed in the prison of Monsieur de Paris (the bishop), and will be there confined between two stone walls for the whole of your life. And we forbid that there be ever given you book to read or pen and ink to write.” This sentence, which Erasmus called atrocious, appeared to take Berquin by surprise; for a moment he remained speechless, and then he said, “I appeal to the king:” whereupon he was taken back to prison. The sentence was to be carried out the same day about three P. M. A great crowd of more than twenty thousand persons, says a contemporary chronicler, rushed to the bridges, the streets, the squares, where this solemn expiation was to take place. The commissioner of police, the officer of the Chatelet, the archers, crossbowmen, and arquebusiers of the city had repaired to the palace to form the escort; but when they presented themselves at the prison to take Berquin, he told them that he had appealed to the king, and that he would not go with them. The escort and the crowd retired disappointed. The president convoked the tribunal the same evening, and repairing to the prison, he made Berquin sign the form of his appeal. William Bude hurried to the scene, and vehemently urged the prisoner to give it up. “A second sentence,” said he, “is ready, and it pronounces death. If you acquiesce in the first, we shall be able to save you later on. All that is demanded of you is to ask pardon: and have we not all need of pardon?” It appears that for a moment Berquin hesitated, and was on the point of consenting; but Bude remained anxious. “I know him,” said he; “his ingenuousness and his confidence in the goodness of his cause will ruin him.” The king was at Blois, and his sister Marguerite at St. Germain; on the news of this urgent peril she wrote to her brother, “I for the last time, make you a very humble request; it is, that you will be pleased to have pity upon poor Berquin, whom I know to be suffering for nothing but loving the word of God and obeying yours. You will be pleased, Monseigneur, so to act that it be not said that separation has made you forget your most humble and most obedient subject and sister, Marguerite.” We can discover no trace of any reply whatever from Francis I. According to most of the documentary evidence, uncertainty lasted for three days. Berquin persisted in his resolution. “No,” he to his friend Bude, who again came to the prison, “I would rather endure death than give my approval, even by silence only to condemnation of the truth.” The president of the court went once more to pay him a visit, and asked him if he held to his appeal. Berquin said, “Yes.” court revised its original sentence, and for the penalty of perpetual imprisonment substituted that of the stake. On the 22d of April, 1529, according to most of the documents, but on the 17th, according to the Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, which the details of the last days render highly improbable, the officers of Parliament entered Berquin’s gloomy chamber. He rose quietly and went with them; the procession set out, and at about three arrived at the Place de Greve; where the stake was ready. “Berquin had a gown of velvet, garments of satin and damask, and hosen of gold thread,” says the Bourgeois de Paris. “‘Alas!’ said some as they saw him pass, ‘he is of noble lineage, a mighty great scholar, expert in science and subtile withal, and nevertheless he hath gone out of his senses.’” We borrow the account of his actual death from a letter of Erasmus, written on the evidence of an eye-witness: “Not a symptom of agitation appeared either in his face or the attitude of his body: he had the bearing of a man who is meditating in his cabinet on the subject of his studies, or in a temple on the affairs of heaven. Even when the executioner, in a rough voice, proclaimed his crime and its penalty, the constant serenity of his features was not at all altered. When the order was given him to dismount from the tumbrel, he obeyed cheerfully without hesitating; nevertheless he had not about him any of that audacity, that arrogance, which in the case of malefactors is sometimes bred of their natural savagery; everything about him bore evidence to the tranquillity of a good conscience. Before he died he made a speech to the people; but none could hear him, so great was the noise which the soldiers made, according, it is said, to the orders they had received. When the cord which bound him to the post suffocated his voice, not a soul in the crowd ejaculated the name of Jesus, whom it is customary to invoke even in favor of parricides and the sacrilegious, to such extent was the multitude excited against him by those folks who are to be found everywhere, and who can do anything with the feelings of the simple and ignorant.” Theodore de Beze adds that the grand penitentiary of Paris, Merlin, who was present at the execution, said, as he withdrew from the still smoking stake, “I never saw any one die more Christianly.” The impressions and expressions of the crowd, as they dispersed, were very diverse; but the majority cried, “He was a heretic.” Others said, “God is the only just Judge, and happy is the man whom He absolves.” Some said below their breath, “It is only through the cross that Christ will triumph in the kingdom of the Gauls.” A man went up to the Franciscan monk who had placed himself at Berquin’s side in the procession, and had entreated him without getting from him anything but silence, and asked him, “Did Berquin say that he had erred?” “Yes, certainly,” answered the monk, “and I doubt not but that his soul hath departed in peace.” This expression was reported to Erasmus; but “I don’t believe it,” said he; “it is the story that these fellows are obliged to invent after their victim’s death, to appease the wrath of the people.”

We have dwelt in detail upon these two martyrs, Leclerc and Berquin, the wool-carder and the scholarly gentleman, because they are faithful and vivid representatives of the two classes amongst which, in the sixteenth century, the Reformation took root in France. It had a double origin, morally and socially, one amongst the people and the other amongst the aristocratic and the learned; it was not national, nor was it embraced by the government of the country. Persecution was its first and its only destiny in the reign of Francis I., and it went through the ordeal with admirable courage and patience; it resisted only in the form of martyrdom. We will give no more of such painful and hideous pictures; in connection with this subject, and as regards the latter portion of this reign, we will dwell upon only those general facts which bear the impress of public morals and the conduct of the government rather than of the fortunes and the feelings of individuals. It was after Francis I.‘s time that the Reformation, instead of confining itself to submitting with dignity to persecution, made a spirited effort to escape from it by becoming a political party, and taking up, in France, the task of the opposition—a liberal and an energetic opposition, which claims its rights and its securities. It then took its place in French history as a great public power, organized and commanded by great leaders, and no longer as a multitude of scattered victims falling one after another, without a struggle, beneath the blows of their persecutors.

The martyrdom of Berquin put a stop to the attempt at quasi-tolerance in favor of aristocratic and learned Reformers which Francis I. had essayed to practise; after having twice saved Berquin from a heretic’s doom, he failed to save him ultimately; and, except the horrible details of barbarity in the execution, the scholarly gentleman received the same measure as the wool-carder, after having been, like him, true to his faith and to his dignity as a man and a Christian. Persecution thenceforward followed its course without the king putting himself to the trouble of applying the drag for anybody; his sister Marguerite alone continued to protect, timidly and dejectedly, those of her friends amongst the reformers whom she could help or to whom she could offer an asylum in Bearn without embroiling herself with the king, her brother, and with the Parliaments. We will not attempt to enumerate the martyrdoms which had to be undergone by the persevering Reformers in France between 1529 and 1547, from the death of Louis de Berquin to that of Francis I.; the task would be too long and intermingled with too many petty questions of dates or proper names; we will confine ourselves to quoting some local computations and to conning over the great historic facts which show to what extent the persecution was general and unrelenting, though it was ineffectual, in the end, to stifle the Reformation and to prevent the bursting out of those religious wars which, from the death of Francis I. to the accession of Henry IV., smothered France in disaster, blood, and crime.

In the reign of Francis I., from 1524 to 1547, eighty-one death-sentences for heresy were executed. At Paris only, from the 10th of November to the 2d of May, a space of some six months, one hundred and two sentences to death by fire for heresy were pronounced; twenty-seven were executed; two did not take place, because those who ought to have undergone them denounced other Reformers to save themselves; and seventy-three succeeded in escaping by flight. The Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris (pp. 444- 450) does not mention sentences to lesser penalties. In a provincial town, whose history one of its most distinguished inhabitants, M. Boutiot, has lately written from authentic documents and local traditions, at Troyes in fact, in 1542 and 1546, two burgesses, one a clerk and the other a publisher, were sentenced to the stake and executed for the crime of heresy: “on an appeal being made by the publisher, Mace Moreau, the Parliament of Paris confirmed the sentence pronounced by the bailiff’s court,” and he underwent his punishment on the Place St. Pierre with the greatest courage. The decree of the Parliament contains the most rigorous enactments against books in the French language treating of religious matters; and it enjoins upon all citizens the duty of denouncing those who, publicly or not, make profession of the new doctrine. “The Lutheran propaganda,” say the documents, “is in great force throughout the diocese; it exercises influence not only on the class of artisans, but also amongst the burgesses. Doubt has made its way into many honest souls. The Reformation has reached so far even where the schism is not complete. Catholic priests profess some of the new doctrines, at the same time that they remain attached to their offices. Many bishops declare themselves partisans of the reformist doctrines. The Protestant worship, however, is not yet openly conducted. The mass of the clergy do not like to abandon the past; they cling to their old traditions, and, if they have renounced certain abuses, they yield only on a few points of little importance. The new ideas are spreading, even in the country. . . . Statues representing the Virgin and the saints are often broken, and these deeds are imputed to those who have adopted the doctrines of Luther and of Calvin. A Notre-Dame de Pitie, situated at the Hotel-Dieule-Comte, was found with its head broken. This event excites to madness the Catholic population. The persecutions continue.” Many people emigrated for fear of the stake. “From August, 1552, to the 6th of January, 1555,” says the chronicler, “Troyes loses in consequence of exile, probably voluntary, a certain number of its best inhabitants,” and he names thirteen families with the style and title of “nobleman.” He adds, “There is scarcely a month in the year when there are not burned two or three heretics at Paris, Meaux, and Troyes, and sometimes more than a dozen.” Troyes contained, at that time, says M. Boutiot, eighteen thousand two hundred and eighty-five inhabitants, counting five persons to a household. [Histoire de la Ville de Troyes, t. iii. pp. 381, 387, 398, 415, 431.] Many other provincial towns offered the same spectacle.

During the long truce which succeeded the peace of Cambrai, from 1532 to 1536, it might have been thought for a while that the persecution in France was going to be somewhat abated. Policy obliged Francis I. to seek the support of the Protestants of Germany against Charles V.; he was incessantly fluctuating between that policy and a strictly Catholic and papal policy; by marrying his son Henry, on the 28th of October, 1533, to Catherine de’ Medici, niece of Pope Clement VII., he seemed to have decided upon the latter course; but he had afterwards made a movement in the contrary direction; Clement VII. had died on the 26th of September, 1524; Paul III. had succeeded him; and Francis I. again turned towards the Protestants of Germany; he entered into relations with the most moderate amongst their theologians, with Melancthon, Bucer, and Sturm; there was some talk of conciliation, of a re-establishment of peace and harmony in the church; nor did the king confine himself to speaking by the mouth of diplomatists; he himself wrote to Melancthon, on the 23d of June, 1535, “It is some time now since I heard from William du Bellay, my chamberlain and councillor, of the zeal with which you are exerting yourself to appease the altercations to which Christian doctrine has given rise. I now hear that you are very much disposed to come to us for to confer with some of our most distinguished doctors as to the means of re-establishing in the church that sublime harmony which is the chief of all my desires. Come, then, either in an official capacity or in your own private character; you will be most welcome to me, and you shall in either case have proof of the interest I feel in the glory of your own Germany and in the peace of the world.” Melancthon had, indeed, shown an inclination to repair to Paris; he had written, on the 9th of May, 1535, to his friend Sturm, “I will not let myself be stopped by domestic ties or by fear of danger. There is no human greatness before which I do not prefer Christ’s glory. One thought alone gives me pause: I doubt my ability to do any good; I fear it is impossible to obtain from the king that which I regard as necessary for the Lord’s glory and for the peace of France. You know that kingdom. Pronounce your judgment. If you think that I shall do well to undertake the journey, I am off.”

Melancthon had good reason to doubt whether success, such as he deemed necessary, were possible. Whilst Francis I. was making all these advances to the Protestants of Germany, he was continuing to proceed against their brother Christians in France more bitterly and more flagrantly than ever. Two recent events had very much envenomed party feeling between the French Catholics and Reformers, and the king had been very much compromised in this fresh crisis of the struggle. In 1534 the lawless insurrection of Anabaptists and peasants, which had so violently agitated Germany in 1525, began again; the insurgents seized the town of Munster, in Westphalia, and there renewed their attempt to found the kingdom of Israel, with community of property and polygamy. As in 1525, they were promptly crushed by the German princes, Catholic and Protestant, of the neighborhood; but their rising had created some reverberation in France, and the Reformers had been suspected of an inclination to take part in it. “It is said,” wrote the Chancellor de Granvelle, in January, 1535, to the ambassador of France at the court of Charles V., “that the number of the strayed from the faith in France, and the danger of utter confusion, are very great; the enterprise of the said strayed, about which you write to me, to set fire to the churches and pillage the Louvre, proves that they were in great force. Please God the king may be able to apply a remedy!” [Papiers d’Etat du Cardinal de Granvelle, t. ii. p. 283.] The accusation was devoid of all foundation; but nothing is absurd in the eyes of party hatred and suspicion, and an incident, almost contemporaneous with the fresh insurrection of the Anabaptists, occurred to increase the king’s wrath, as well as the people’s, against the Reformers, and to rekindle the flames of persecution. On the 24th of October, 1534, placards against the mass, transubstantiation, and the regimen as well as the faith of the Catholic church, were posted up during the night in the thoroughfares of Paris, and at Blois on the very chamberdoor of Francis I., whose first glance, when he got up in the morning, they caught. They had been printed at Neufchatel, in Switzerland, where the influence of the refugee William Farel was strong, and their coarse violence of expression could not fail to excite the indignation of even the most indifferent Catholics. In their fanatical blindness factions say only what satisfies their own passions, without considering moral propriety or the effect which will be produced by their words upon the feelings of their adversaries, who also have creeds and passions. Francis I., equally shocked and irritated, determined to give the Catholic faith striking satisfaction, and Protestant audacity a bloody lesson. On the 21st of January, 1535, a solemn procession issued from the church of St. Germain l’Auxerrois. John du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, held in his hands the holy sacrament, surrounded by the three sons of France and the Duke de Vendome, who were the dais-bearers; and the king walked behind, with a taper in his hand, between the Cardinals of Bourbon and Lorraine. At each halting-place he handed his taper to the Cardinal of Lorraine, folded his hands, and humbly prostrating himself, implored divine mercy for his people. After the procession was over, the king, who had remained to dine with John du Bellay, assembled in the great hall of the palace the heads of all the companies, and taking his place on a sort of throne which had been prepared for him, said, “Whatever progress may have already been made by the pest, the remedy is still easy if each of you, devoured by the same zeal as I, will forget the claims of flesh and blood to remember only that he is a Christian, and will denounce without pity all those whom he knows to be partisans or favorers of heresy. As for me, if my arm were gangrened, I would have it cut off though it were my right arm, and if my sons who hear me were such wretches as to fall into such execrable and accursed opinions, I would be willing to give them up to make a sacrifice of them to God.” On the 29th of January there was published an edict which sentenced concealers of heretics, “Lutheran or other,” to the same penalties as the said heretics, unless they denounced their guests to justice; and a quarter of the property to be confiscated was secured to the denouncers. Fifteen days previously Francis I. had signed a decree still stranger for a king who was a protector of letters; he ordered the abolition of printing, that means of propagating heresies, and “forbade the printing of any book on pain of the halter.” Six weeks later, however, on the 26th of February, he became ashamed of such an act, and suspended its execution indefinitely. Punishments in abundance preceded and accompanied the edicts; from the 10th of November, 1534, to the 3d of May, 1535, twenty-four heretics were burned alive in Paris, without counting many who were sentenced to less cruel penalties. The procedure had been made more rapid; the police commissioner of the Chatelet dealt with cases summarily, and the Parliament confirmed. The victims had at first been strangled before they were burned; they were now burned alive, after the fashion of the Spanish Inquisition. The convicts were suspended by iron chains to beams which alternately “hoisted” and “lowered” them over the flames until the executioner cut the cord to let the sufferer fall. The evidence was burned together with the convicts; it was undesirable that the Reformers should be able to make a certified collection of their martyrs’ acts and deeds.

After a detailed and almost complacent enumeration of all these executions, we find in the Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris this paragraph: “The rumor was, in June, 1535, that Pope Paul III., being advertised of the execrable and horrible justice which the king was doing upon the Lutherans in his kingdom, did send word to the King of France that he was advertised of it, and that he was quite willing to suppose that he did it in good part, as he still made use of the beautiful title he had to be called the Most Christian king; nevertheless, God the Creator, when he was in this world, made more use of mercy than of rigorous justice, which should never be used rigorously; and that it was a cruel death to burn a man alive because he might have to some extent renounced the faith and the law. Wherefore the pope did pray and request the king, by his letters, to be pleased to mitigate the fury and rigor of his justice by granting grace and pardon. The king, wishing to follow the pope’s wishes, according as he had sent him word by his letters patent, sent word to the court of Parliament not to proceed any more with such rigor as they had shown heretofore. For this cause were there no more rigorous proceedings on the part of justice.” [Journal d’un Bourgeois de Paris, p. 456.]

Search has been made to discover whether the assertion of the Bourgeois de Paris has any foundation, whether Pope Paul III. really did write in June, 1535, the letter attributed to him, and whether its effect was, that the king wrote to Parliament not to proceed against the Reformers “with such rigor.” No proof has, however, been obtained as to the authenticity of the pope’s letter, and in any case it was not very effectual, for the same Bourgeois de Paris reports, that in September, 1535, three months after that, according to him, it was written: Two fellows, makers of silk ribbons and tissues, were burned all alive, one in the Place Maubert and the other in St. John’s cemetery, as Lutherans, which they were. They had handed over to their host at Paris some Lutheran books to take care of, saying, ‘Keep this book for us while we go into the city, and show it to nobody.’ When they were gone, this host was not able to refrain from showing this book to a certain priest, the which, after having looked at it, said incontinently, ‘This is a very wicked book, and proscribed.’ Then the said host went to the commissioner of police to reveal that he had such and such a book of such an one, the which sent forth with to the house of the said host to take and carry off the said two fellows to the Chatelet. Being questioned, they confessed the state of the case. Whereupon, by sentence of the said commissioner, confirmed by decree, “they made honorable amends in front of the church of Notre-Dame de Paris, had their tongues cut out, and were burned all alive and with unshaken obstinacy.” Proceedings and executions, then, did not cease, even in the case of the most humble class of Reformers, and at the very moment when Francis I. was exerting himself to win over the Protestants of Germany with the cry of conciliation and re-establishment of harmony in the church. Melancthon, Bucer, and Luther himself had allowed themselves to be tempted by the prospect; but the German politicians, princes, and counsellors were more clear-sighted. “We at Augsburg,” wrote Sailer, deputy from that city, “know the King of France well; he cares very little for religion, or even for morality. He plays the hypocrite with the pope, and gives the Germans the smooth side of his tongue, thinking of nothing but how to cheat them of the hopes he gives them. His only aim is to crush the emperor.” The attempt of Francis I. thus failed, first in Germany, and then at Paris also, where the Sorbonne was not disposed, any more than the German politicians were, to listen to any talk about a specious conciliation; and the persecution resumed its course in France, paving the way for civil war.

The last and most atrocious act of persecution in the reign of Francis I. was directed not against isolated individuals, but against a whole population, harried, despoiled, and banished or exterminated on account of heresy. About the year 1525 small churches of Reformers began to assume organization between the Alps and the Jura. Something was there said about Christians who belonged to the Reformation without having ever been reformed. It was said that, in certain valleys of the Piedmontese Alps and Dauphiny and in certain quarters of Provence, there were to be found believers who for several centuries had recognized no authority save that of the Holy Scriptures. Some called them Vaudians (Waldensians), others poor of Lyons, others Lutherans. The rumor of the Reformation was heard in their valleys, and created a lively emotion amongst them. One of them determined to go and see what this reformation was; and he returned to his valleys with good news and with pious books. Regular relations were from that time established between the Reformers of Switzerland, France, and Germany, and the Christian shepherds of these mountains. Visits were exchanged Farel and Saunier went amongst the Vaudians and conversed with them about their common faith, common in spite of certain differences. Rustic conferences, composed of the principal landholders, barbas or pastors, and simple members of the faithful, met more than once in the open air under the pines of their mountains. The Vaudians of Provence had been settled there since the end of the thirteenth century; and in the course of the fourteenth other Vaudians from Dauphiny, and even from Calabria, had come thither to join them. “Their barbas,” says a contemporary monk [Histoire des Guerres excitees dans le Comtat venaissin par les Calvinistes du seizieme siecle, par le pere Justin, capucin], “used to preside at their exercises of religion, which were performed in secret. As they were observed to be quiet and circumspect, as they faithfully paid taxes, tithe, and seigniorial dues, and as they were besides very laborious, they were not troubled on the score of their habits and doctrines.” Their new friends from Switzerland and Germany reproached them with concealment of their faith and worship. As soon as they had overtly separated from the Roman church, persecution began; Francis I. checked its first excesses, but it soon began again; the episcopal prisons were filled with Vaudians, who bristled at the summons to abjure; and on the 29th of March, 1535, thirteen of them were sentenced to be burned alive. Pope Paul III. complained to Francis I. of their obstinacy; the king wrote about it to the Parliament of Aix; the Parliament ordered the lords of the lands occupied by the Vaudians to force their vassals to abjure or leave the country. When cited to appear before the court of Aix to explain the grounds of their refusal, several declined. The court sentenced them, in default, to be burned alive. Their friends took up arms and went to deliver the prisoners. Merindol was understood to be the principal retreat of the sectaries; by decree of November 18, 1540, the Parliament ordered that “the houses should be demolished and razed to the ground, the cellars filled up, the woods cut down, the trees of the gardens torn up, and that the lands of those who had lived in Merindol should not be able to be farmed out to anybody whatever of their family or name.” In the region of Parliament itself complaints were raised against such hardships; the premier president, Barthelemy Chassaneuz, was touched, and adjourned the execution of the decree. The king commissioned William du Bellay to examine into the facts; the report of Du Bellay was favorable to the Vaudians, as honest, laborious, and charitable farmers, discharging all the duties of civil life; but, at the same time, he acknowledged that they did not conform to the laws of the church, that they did not recognize the pope or the bishops, that they prayed in the vulgar tongue, and that they were in the habit of choosing certain persons from amongst themselves to be their pastors. On this report, Francis I., by a declaration of February 18, 1541, pardoned the Vaudians for all that had been irregular in their conduct, on condition that within the space of three months they should abjure their errors; and he ordered the Parliament to send to Aix deputies from their towns, burghs, and villages, to make abjuration in the name of all, at the same time authorizing the Parliament to punish, according to the ordinances, those who should refuse to obey, and to make use, if need were, of the services of the soldiery. Thus persecuted and condemned for their mere faith, undemonstrative as it was, the Vaudians confined themselves to asking that it might be examined and its errors pointed out. Those of Merindol and those of Cabriere in the countship of Venasque drew up their profession of faith and sent it to the king and to two bishops of the province, Cardinal Sadolet, Bishop of Carpentras, and John Durandi, Bishop of Cavaillon, whose equity and moderation inspired them with some confidence. Cardinal Sadolet did not belie their expectation; he received them with kindness, discussed with them their profession of faith, pointed out to them divers articles which might be remodelled without disavowing the basis of their creed, and assured them that it would always be against his sentiments to have them treated as enemies. “I am astonished,” he wrote to the pope, “that these folks should be persecuted when the Jews are spared.” The Bishop of Cavaillon testified towards them a favor less unalloyed: “I was quite sure,” said he, “that there was not so much mischief amongst you as was supposed; however, to calm men’s minds, it is necessary that you should submit to a certain appearance of abjuration.” “But what would you have us abjure, if we are already within the truth?” “It is but a simple formality that I demand of you; I do not require in your case notary or signature; if you are unwilling to assent to this abjuration, none can argue you into it.” “We are plain men, monseigneur; we are unwilling to do anything to which we cannot assent;” and they persisted in their refusal to abjure. Cardinal Sadolet was summoned to Rome, and the premier president Chassaneuz died suddenly. His successor, John de Maynier, Baron of Oppede, was a violent man, passionately bigoted, and moreover, it is said, a personal enemy of the Vaudians of Cabrieres, on which his estates bordered; he recommenced against them a persecution which was at first covert; they had found protectors in Switzerland and in Germany; at the instance of Calvin, the Swiss Protestant cantons and the German princes assembled at Smalkalden wrote to Francis I. in their favor; it was to his interest to humor the Protestants of Germany, and that fact turned out to the advantage of the Vaudians of Provence; on the 14th of June, 1544, he issued an edict which, suspending the proceedings commenced against them, restored to them their privileges, and ordered such of them as were prisoners to be set at large; “and as the attorney-general of Provence,” it goes on to say, “is related to the Archbishop of Aix, their sworn enemy, there will be sent in his place a counsellor of the court for to inform me of their innocence.” But some months later the peace of Crespy was made; and Francis I. felt no longer the same solicitude about humoring the Protestants of Switzerland and Germany. Baron d’Oppede zealously resumed his work against the Vaudians; he accused them of intriguing; with foreign Reformers, and of designing to raise fifteen thousand men to surprise Marseilles and form Provence into a republic. On the 1st of January, 1545, Francis I. signed, without reading it they say, the revocation of his edict of 1544, and ordered execution of the decree issued by the Parliament of Aix, dated November 18, 1540, on the subject of the Vaudians, “notwithstanding all letters of grace posterior to that epoch, and ordered the governor of the province to give, for that purpose, the assistance of the strong hand to justice.” The duty of assisting justice was assigned to Baron d’Oppede; and from the 7th to the 25th of April, 1545, two columns of troops, under the orders, respectively, of Oppede himself and Baron de la Garde, ravaged with fire and sword the three districts of Merindol, Cabrieres, and La Coste, which were peopled chiefly by Vaudians.

Massacre of the Vaudians——218

We shrink from describing in detail all the horrors committed against a population without any means of self-defence by troops giving free rein to their brutal passions and gratifying the hateful passions of their leaders. In the end three small towns and twenty-two villages were completely sacked; seven hundred and sixty-three houses, eighty-nine cattle-sheds, and thirty-one barns burned; three thousand persons massacred; two hundred and fifty-five executed subsequently to the massacre, after a mockery of trial; six or seven hundred sent to the galleys; many children sold for slaves; and the victors, on retiring, left behind them a double ordinance, from the Parliament of Aix and the vice-legate of Avignon, dated the 24th of April, 1545, forbidding “that any one, on pain of death, should dare to give asylum, aid, or succor, or furnish money or victuals, to any Vaudian or heretic.”

It is said that Francis I., when near his end, repented of this odious extermination of a small population, which, with his usual fickleness and carelessness, he had at one time protected, and at another abandoned to its enemies. Amongst his last words to his son Henry II. was an exhortation to cause an inquiry to be made into the iniquities committed by the Parliament of Aix in this instance. It will be seen, at the opening of Henry II.‘s reign, what was the result of this exhortation of his father’s.

Calvin was lately mentioned as having pleaded the cause of the Vaudians, in 1544, amongst the Protestants of Switzerland and Germany. It was from Geneva, where he had lived and been the dominant spirit for many years, that the French Reformer had exercised such influence over the chiefs of the German Reformation in favor of that small population whose creed and morals had anticipated by several centuries the Reformation in the sixteenth century. He was born, in 1509 at Noyon in Picardy, was brought up in the bosom of the Catholic church, and held a cure in 1527 at Pont-l’Eveque, where he preached several times, “joyous and almost proud,” as he said himself, “that a single dissertation had brought me a cure.” In 1534, study, meditation on the Gospels, discussion of the religious and moral questions raised on every side, and the free atmosphere of the new spirit that was abroad, changed his convictions and his resolves; he abandoned the career of the law as well as that of the established church, resigned his cure at Pont-l’Eveque, and devoted himself entirely to the work of the nascent and much opposed Reformation. Having a mind that was judicious and free from illusion in the very heat of passion, he soon saw to what an extent the success of the Reformation in France was difficult and problematical; in 1535, impressed by the obstacles it met with even more than by the dangers it evoked, he resolved to leave his country and go else whither in search of security, liberty, and the possibility of defending a cause which became the dearer to him in proportion as it was the more persecuted. He had too much sagacity not to perceive that he was rapidly exhausting his various places of asylum: Queen Marguerite of Navarre was unwilling to try too far the temper of the king her brother; Canon Louis du Tillet was a little fearful lest his splendid library should be somewhat endangered through the use made of it by his guest, who went about, arguing or preaching, in the vicinity of Angouleme; the queen’s almoner, Gerard Roussel, considered that Calvin was going too far, and grew apprehensive lest, if the Reformation should completely succeed, it might suppress the bishopric of Oleron which he desired, and which, indeed, he at a later period obtained. Lefevre of Etaples, who was the most of all in sympathy with Calvin, was seventy-nine years old, and had made up his mind to pass his last days in peace. Calvin quitted Angouleme and Nerac, and went to pass some time at Poitiers, where the friends of the Reformation, assembling round him and hanging upon his words, for the first time celebrated the Lord’s Supper in a grotto close to the town, which still goes by the name of Calvin’s Grotto. Being soon obliged to leave Poitiers, Calvin went to Orleans, then secretly to Paris, then to Noyon to see his family once more, and set out at last for Strasbourg, already one of the strongholds of the Reformation, where he had friends, amongst others the learned Bucer, with whom he had kept up a constant correspondence. He arrived there at the beginning of the year 1535; but it was not at Strasbourg that he took up his quarters; he preferred Bale, where also there was a reunion of men of letters, scholars, and celebrated printers, Erasmus, Simon Grynee (Grymeus), and the Frobens, and where Calvin calculated upon finding the leisure and aid he required for executing the great work he had been for some time contemplating—his Institution de la Religion chretienne (Christian Institutes). This would not be the place, and we have no intention, to sum up the religious doctrines of that book; we might challenge many of them as contrary to the true meaning and moral tendency of Christianity; but we desire to set in a clear light their distinctive and original characteristics, which are those of Calvin himself in the midst of his age. These characteristics are revealed in the preface and even in the dedication of the book. It is to Francis I., the persecutor of the French Reformers, during one of the most cruel stages of the persecution, and at the very moment when he had just left his own country in order that he may live in security and speak with freedom, that Calvin dedicates his work. “Do not imagine,” he says to the king, “that I am attempting here my own special defence in order to obtain permission to return to the country of my birth, from which, although I feel for it such human affection as is my bounden duty, yet, as things are now, I do not suffer any great anguish at being cut off. But I am taking up the cause of all the faithful, and even that of Christ, which is in these days so mangled and down-trodden in your kingdom that it seems to be in a desperate plight. And this has no doubt come to pass rather through the tyranny of certain Pharisees than of your own will.” Calvin was at the same time the boldest and the least revolutionary amongst the innovators of the sixteenth century; bold as a Christian thinker, but full of deference and consideration towards authority, even when he was flagrantly withdrawing himself from it. The idea of his book was at first exclusively religious, and intended for the bulk of the French Reformers; but at the moment when Calvin is about to publish it, prudence and policy recur to his mind, and it is to the King of France that he addresses himself; it is the authority of the royal persecutor that he invokes; it is the reason of Francis I. that he attempts to convince. He acts like a respectful and faithful subject, as well as an independent and innovating Christian.


After having wandered for some time longer in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, Calvin in 1536 arrived at Geneva. It was at this time a small independent republic, which had bravely emancipated itself from the domination of the Dukes of Savoy, and in which the Reformation had acquired strength, but it had not yet got rid of that lawless and precarious condition which is the first phase presented by revolutionary innovations after victory; neither the political nor the religious community at Geneva had yet received any organization which could be called regular or regarded as definitive; the two communities had not yet understood and regulated their reciprocal positions and the terms on which they were to live together. All was ferment and haze in this little nascent state, as regarded the mental as well as the actual condition, when Calvin arrived there; his name was already almost famous there; he had given proofs of devotion to the cause of the Reformation; his book on the Institution de la Religion chretienne had just appeared; a great instinct for organization was strikingly evinced in it, at the same time that the dedication to Francis I. testified to a serious regard for the principle of authority and for its rights, as well as the part it ought to perform in human communities. Calvin had many friends in Switzerland, and they urged him to settle at once at Geneva, and to labor at establishing there Christian order in the Reformed church simultaneously with its independence and its religious liberties in its relations with the civil estate. At first Calvin hesitated and resisted; he was one of those who take strict account, beforehand, of the difficulties to be encountered and the trials to be undergone in any enterprise for the success of which they are most desirous, and who inwardly shudder at the prospect of such a burden. But the Christian’s duty, the Reformer’s zeal, the lively apprehension of the perils which were being incurred by the cause of the Reformation, and the nobly ambitious hope of delivering it,—these sentiments united prevailed over the first misgivings of that great and mighty soul, and Calvin devoted himself in Geneva to a work which, from 1536 to 1564, in a course of violent struggles and painful vicissitudes, was to absorb and rapidly consume his whole life.

From that time forth a principle, we should rather say a passion, held sway in Calvin’s heart, and was his guiding star in the permanent organization of the church which he founded, as well as in his personal conduct during his life. That principle is the profound distinction between the religious and the civil community. Distinction we say, and by no means separation; Calvin, on the contrary, desired alliance between the two communities and the two powers, but each to be independent in its own domain, combining their action, showing mutual respect and lending mutual support. To this alliance he looked for the reformation and moral discipline of the members of the church placed under the authority of its own special religious officers and upheld by the indirect influence of the civil power.

In this principle and this fundamental labor of Calvin’s there were two new and bold reforms attempted in the very heart of the great Reformation in Europe, and over and above the work of its first promoters. Henry VIII., on removing the church of England from the domination of the papacy, had proclaimed himself its head, and the church of England had accepted this royal supremacy. Zwingle, when he provoked in German Switzerland the rupture with the church of Rome, had approved of the arrangement that the sovereign authority in matters of religion should pass into the hands of the civil powers. Luther himself, at the same time that he reserved to the new German church a certain measure of spontaneity and liberty, had placed it under the protection and preponderance of laic sovereigns. In this great question as to the relations between church and state Calvin desired and did more than his predecessors; even before he played any considerable part in the European Reformation, as soon as he heard of Henry VIII.‘s religious supremacy in England, he had strongly declared against such a regimen; with an equitable spirit rare in his day, and in spite of his contest with the church of Rome, he was struck with the strength and dignity conferred upon that church by its having an existence distinct from the civil community, and by the independence of its head. When he himself became a great Reformer, he did not wish the Reformed church to lose this grand characteristic; whilst proclaiming it evangelical, he demanded for it in matters of faith and discipline the independence and special authority which had been possessed by the primitive church; and in spite of the resistance often shown to him by the civil magistrates, in spite of the concessions he was sometimes obliged to make to them, he firmly maintained this principle, and he secured to the Reformed church of Geneva, in purely religious questions and affairs, the right of self-government, according to the faith and the law as they stand written in the Holy Books.

He at the same time put in force in this church a second principle of no less importance. In the course of ages, and by a series of successive modifications, some natural and others factitious and illegitimate, the Christian church had become, so to speak, cut in two, into the ecclesiastical community and the religious community, the clergy and the worshippers. In the Catholic church the power was entirely in the hands of the clergy; the ecclesiastical body completely governed the religious body; and, whilst the latter was advancing more and more in laic ideas and sentiments, the former remained even more and more distinct and sovereign. The German and English Reformations had already modified this state of things, and given to the lay community a certain portion of influence in religious questions and affairs. Calvin provided for the matter in a still more direct and effectual fashion, not only as regarded affairs in general, but even the choice of pastors; he gave admission to laymen, in larger number too than that of the ecclesiastics, into the consistories and synods, the governing authorities in the Reformed church. He thus did away with the separation between the clergy and the worshippers; he called upon them to deliberate and act together; and he secured to the religious community, in its entirety, their share of authority in the affairs and fortunes of the church.

Thus began at Geneva, under the inspiration and through the influence of Calvin, that ecclesiastical organization which, developing, completing, and modifying itself according to the requirements of places and times, became, under the name of Presbyterian regimen, the regimen of the Reformed churches in France, French Switzerland, Holland, Scotland, and amongst a considerable portion of the Protestant population in England and in the United States of America—a regimen evangelical in origin and character, republican in some of its maxims and institutions, but no stranger to the principle of authority, one which admitted of discipline and was calculated for duration, and which has kept for three centuries, amongst the most civilized people, a large measure of Christian faith, ecclesiastical order, and civil liberty. It was a French refugee who instituted, in a foreign city, this regimen, and left it as a legacy to the French Reformation and to the numerous Christian communities who were eager to adopt it. It is on this ground that Calvin takes a place in the history of France, and has a fair right to be counted amongst the eminent men who have carried to a distance the influence, the language, and the fame of the country in the bosom of which it was not permitted them to live and labor. In 1547, when the death of Francis I. was at hand, that ecclesiastical organization of Protestantism which Calvin had instituted at Geneva was not even begun in France. The French Protestants were as yet but isolated and scattered individuals, without any bond of generally accepted and practised faith or discipline, and without any eminent and recognized heads. The Reformation pursued its course; but a Reformed church did not exist. And this confused mass of Reformers and Reformed had to face an old, a powerful, and a strongly constituted church, which looked upon the innovators as rebels over whom it had every right as much as against them it had every arm. In each of the two camps prevailed errors of enormous magnitude, and fruitful of fatal consequences; Catholics and Protestants both believed themselves to be in exclusive possession of the truth, of all religious truth, and to have the right of imposing it by force upon their adversaries the moment they had the power. Both were strangers to any respect for human conscience, human thought, and human liberty. Those who had clamored for this on their own account when they were weak had no regard for it in respect of others when they felt themselves to be strong. On the side of the Protestants the ferment was at full heat, but as yet vague and unsettled; on the part of the Catholics the persecution was unscrupulous and unlimited. Such was the position and such the state of feeling in which Francis I., at his death on the 31st of March, 1547, left the two parties that had already been at grips during his reign. He had not succeeded either in reconciling them or in securing the triumph of that which had his favor and the defeat of that which he would have liked to vanquish. That was, in nearly all that he undertook, his fate; he lacked the spirit of sequence and steady persistence, and his merits as well as his defects almost equally urged him on to rashly attempt that which he only incompletely executed. He was neither prudent nor persevering, and he may be almost said to have laid himself out to please everybody rather than to succeed in one and the same great purpose. A short time before his death a Venetian ambassador who had resided a long while at his court, Marino Cavalli, drew up and forwarded to the Senate of Venice a portrait of him so observantly sketched and so full of truth that it must be placed here side by side with the more exacting and more severe judgment already pronounced here touching this brilliant but by no means far-sighted or effective king.

“The king is now fifty years of age; his aspect is in every respect kingly, insomuch that, without ever having seen his face or his portrait, any one, on merely looking at him, would say at once: ‘That is the king.’ All his movements are so noble and majestic that no prince could equal them. His constitution is robust, in spite of the excessive fatigue he has constantly undergone and still undergoes in so many expeditions and travels. He eats and drinks a great deal, sleeps still better, and, what is more, dreams of nothing but leading a jolly life. He is rather fond of being an exquisite in his dress, which is slashed and laced, and rich with jewelry and precious stones; even his doublets are daintily worked and of golden tissue; his shirt is very fine, and it shows through an opening in the doublet, according to the fashion of France. This delicate and dainty way of living contributes to his health. In proportion as the king bears bodily fatigue well, and endures it without bending beneath the burden, in the same proportion do mental cares weigh heavily upon him, and he shifts them almost entirely on to Cardinal de Tournon and Admiral Annebault. He takes no resolve, he makes no reply, without having had their advice; and if ever, which is very rare, an answer happens to be given or a concession made without having received the approval of these two advisers, he revokes it or modifies it. But in what concerns the great affairs of state, peace or war, his Majesty, docile as he is in everything else, will have the rest obedient to his wishes. In that case there is nobody at court, whatever authority he may possess, who dare gainsay his Majesty. This prince has a very sound judgment and a great deal of information; there is no sort of thing, or study or art, about which he cannot converse very much to the point. It is true that, when people see how, in spite of his knowledge and his fine talk, all his warlike enterprises have turned out ill, they say that all his wisdom lies on his lips, and not in his mind. But I think that the calamities of this king come from lack of men capable of properly carrying out his designs. As for him, he will never have anything to do with the execution, or even with the superintendence of it in any way; it seems to him quite enough to know his own part, which is to command and to supply plans. Accordingly, that which might be wished for in him is a little more care and patience, not by any means more experience and knowledge. His Majesty readily pardons offences; and he becomes heartily reconciled with those whom he has offended.” [Relations des Ambassadeurs venitiens sur les Affaires de France au seizieme siecle, in the Documents inedits sur l’Histoire de France, translated by M. Tommaseo, t. i. pp. 279-283.]

It is said that at the close of his reign Francis I., in spite of all the resources of his mind and all his easy-going qualities, was much depressed, and that he died in sadness and disquietude as to the future. One may be inclined to think that, in his egotism, he was more sad on his own account than disquieted on that of his successors and of France. However that may be, he was assuredly far from foreseeing the terrible civil war which began after him, and the crimes, as well as disasters, which it caused. None of his more intimate circle was any longer in a position to excite his solicitude: his mother, Louise of Savoy, had died sixteen years before him (September 22, 1531); his most able and most wicked adviser, Chancellor Duprat, twelve years (July 29, 1535). His sister Marguerite survived him two years (she died December 21, 1549,) “disgusted with everything,” say the historians, and “weary of life,” said she herself:—

“No father now have I, no mother,
Sister or brother.
On God alone I now rely,
Who ruleth over earth and sky.
O world, I say good by to you;
To relatives and friendly ties,
To honors and to wealth, adieu;
I hold them all for enemies.”

And yet Marguerite was loath to leave life. She had always been troubled at the idea of death; when she was spoken to about eternal life, she would shake her head sometimes, saying, “All that is true; but we remain a mighty long while dead underground before arriving there.” When she was told that her end was near, she “considered that a very bitter word,” saying that “she was not so old but that she might still live some years.” She had been the most generous, the most affectionate, and the most lovable person in a family and a court which were both corrupt, and of which she only too often acquiesced in the weaknesses and even vices, though she always fought against their injustice and their cruelty. She had the honor of being the grandmother of Henry IV.






HENRY II. (1547-1559.)

Gallery Henry Ii——230

Henry II. had all the defects, and, with the exception of personal bravery, not one amongst the brilliant and amiable qualities of the king his father. Like Francis I., he was rash and reckless in his resolves and enterprises, but without having the promptness, the fertility, and the suppleness of mind which Francis I. displayed in getting out of the awkward positions in which he had placed himself, and in stalling off or mitigating the consequences of them. Henry was as cold and ungenial as Francis had been gracious and able to please: and whilst Francis I., even if he were a bad master to himself, was at any rate his own master, Henry II. submitted without resistance, and probably without knowing it, to the influence of the favorite who reigned in his house as well as in his court, and of the advisers who were predominant in his government. Two facts will suffice to set in a clear light, at the commencement of the new reign, this regrettable analogy in the defects, and this profound diversity in the mind, character, and conduct of the two kings.

Towards the close of 1542, a grievous aggravation of the tax upon salt, called Babel, caused a violent insurrection in the town of Rochelle, which was exempted, it was said, by its traditional privileges from that impost. Not only was payment refused, but the commissioners were maltreated and driven away. Francis I. considered the matter grave enough to require his presence for its repression. He repaired to Rochelle with a numerous body of lanzknechts. The terrified population appeared to have determined upon submission, and, having assembled in a mass at the town-hall, there awaited anxiously the king’s arrival. On the 1st of January, 1543, Francis I. entered the town in state, surrounded by his escort. The people’s advocate fell on his knees, and appealed to the king’s clemency in dealing with a revolt of which every one repented. The king, who was seated on a wooden boarding, rose up. “Speak we no more of revolt,” said he; “I desire neither to destroy your persons nor to seize your goods, as was lately done by the Emperor Charles to the Ghentese, whereby his hands are stained with blood; I long more for the hearts of my subjects than for their lives and their riches. I will never at any time of my life think again of your offence, and I pardon you without excepting a single thing. I desire that the keys of your city and your arms be given back to you, and that you be completely reinstated in your liberties and your privileges.” The cheers of the people responded to these words of the king. “I think I have won your hearts,” said the king on retiring; “and I assure you, on the honor of a gentleman, that you have mine. I desire that you ring your bells, for you are pardoned.” The Rochellese were let off for a fine of two hundred thousand francs, which the king gave to his keeper of the seals, Francis de Montholon, whom he wished to compensate for his good service. The keeper of the seals in his turn made a present of them to the town of Rochelle to found a hospital. But the ordinances as to the salt-tax were maintained in principle, and their extension led, some years afterwards, to a rising of a more serious character, and very differently repressed.

In 1548, hardly a year after the accession of Henry II., and in the midst of the rejoicings he had gone to be present at in the north of Italy, he received news at Turin to the effect that in Guienne, Angoumois, and Saintonge a violent and pretty general insurrection had broken out against the salt-tax, which Francis I., shortly before his death, had made heavier in these provinces. The local authorities in vain attempted to repress the rising; the insurgent peasants scoured the country in strong bodies, giving free rein not only to their desires, but also to their revengeful feelings; the most atrocious excesses of which a mob is capable were committed; the director-general of the gabel was massacred cruelly; and two of his officers, at Angouleme, were strapped down stark naked on a table, beaten to death, and had their bodies cast into the river with the insulting remark, “Go, wicked gabellers, and salt the fish of the Charente.” The King of Navarre’s lieutenant, being appealed to for aid, summoned, but to no purpose, the Parliament of Bordeaux; he was forced to take refuge in Chateau-Trompette, and was massacred by the populace whilst he was trying to get out; the president of the Parliament, a most worthy magistrate, and very much beloved, it is said, by the people, only saved his own life by taking the oath prescribed by the insurgents. “This news,” says Vieilleville, in his contemporary Memoires, “grievously afflicted the king; and the Constable de Montmorency represented to him that it was not the first time that these people had been capricious, rebellious, and mutinous; for that in the reign of his lord and father, the late king, the Rochellese and surrounding districts had forgotten themselves in like manner. They ought to be exterminated, and, in case of need, be replaced by a new colony, that they might never return. The said sir constable offered to take the matter in hand, and with ten companies of the old hands whom he would raise in Piedmont, and as many lanzknechts, a thousand men-at-arms all told, he promised to exact a full account, and satisfy his Majesty.”

Montmorency was as good as his word. When he arrived with his troops in Guienne, the people of Bordeaux, in a fit of terror, sent to Langon a large boat, most magnificently fitted up, in which were chambers and saloons emblazoned with the arms of the said sir constable, with three or four deputies to present it to him, and beg him to embark upon it, and drop down to their city. He repulsed them indignantly. “Away, away,” said he, “with your boat and your keys; I will have nought to do with them; I have others here with me which will make me other kind of opening than yours. I will have you all hanged; I will teach you to rebel against your king and murder his governor and his lieutenant.” And he did, in fact, enter Bordeaux on the 9th of October, 1548, by a breach which he had opened in the walls, and, after having traversed the city between two lines of soldiers and with his guns bearing on the suspected points, he ordered the inhabitants to bring all their arms to the citadel. Executions followed immediately after this moral as well as material victory. “More than a hundred and forty persons were put to death by various kinds of punishments,” says Vieilleville; “and, by a most equitable sentence, when the executioner had in his hands the three insurgents who had beaten to death and thrown into the river the two collectors of the Babel at Angouleme, he cast them all three into a fire which was ready at the spot, and said to them aloud, in conformity with the judgment against them, ‘Go, rabid hounds, and grill the fish of the Charente, which ye salted with the bodies of the officers of your king and sovereign lord.’ As to civil death (loss of civil rights),” adds Vieilleville, “nearly all the inhabitants made honorable amends in open street, on their knees, before the said my lords at the window, crying mercy and asking pardon; and more than a hundred, because of their youth, were simply whipped. Astounding fines and interdictions were laid as well upon the body composing the court of Parliament as upon the town-council and on a great number of private individuals. The very bells were not exempt from experiencing the wrath and vengeance of the prince, for not a single one remained throughout the whole city or in the open country—to say nothing of the clocks, which were not spared either —which was not broken up and confiscated to the king’s service for his guns.”

The insurrection at Bordeaux against the gabel in 1548 was certainly more serious than that of Rochelle in 1542; but it is also quite certain that Francis I. would not have set about repressing it as Henry II. did; he would have appeared there himself and risked his own person instead of leaving the matter to the harshest of his lieutenants, and he would have more skilfully intermingled generosity with force, and kind words with acts of severity. And that is one of the secrets of governing. In 1549, scarcely a year after the revolt at Bordeaux, Henry II., then at Amiens, granted to deputies from Poitou, Rochelle, the district of Aunis, Limousin, Perigord, and Saintonge, almost complete abolition of the Babel in Guienne, which paid the king, by way of compensation, two hundred thousand crowns of gold for the expenses of war or the redemption of certain alienated domains. We may admit that on the day after the revolt the arbitrary and bloody proceedings of the Constable de Montmorency must have produced upon the insurgents of Bordeaux the effect of a salutary fright; but we may doubt whether so cruel a repression was absolutely indispensable in 1548, when in 1549 the concession demanded in the former year was to be recognized as necessary.

According to De Thou and the majority of historians, it was on the occasion of the insurrection in Guienne against the Babel that Stephen de la Boetie, the young and intimate friend of Montaigne, wrote his celebrated Discours de la Servitude voluntaire, ou le Contre-un, an eloquent declamation against monarchy. But the testimony of Montaigne himself upsets the theory of this coincidence; written in his own hand upon a manuscript, partly autograph, of the treatise by De la Boetie, is a statement that it was the work “of a lad of sixteen.” La Boetie was born at Sarlat on the 1st of November, 1530, and was, therefore, sixteen in 1546, two years before the insurrection at Bordeaux. The Contre-un, besides, is a work of pure theory and general philosophy, containing no allusion at all to the events of the day, to the sedition in Guienne no more than to any other. This little work owed to Montaigne’s affectionate regard for its author a great portion of its celebrity. Published for the first time, in 1578, in the Memoires de l’Etat de France, after having up to that time run its course without any author’s name, any title, or any date, it was soon afterwards so completely forgotten that when, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Cardinal de Richelieu for the first time heard it mentioned, and “sent one of his gentlemen over the whole street of Saint-Jacques to inquire for la Servitude volontaire, all the publishers said, ‘We don’t know what it is.’ The son of one of them recollected something about it, and said to the cardinal’s gentleman, ‘Sir, there is a book-fancier who has what you seek, but with no covers to it, and he wants five pistoles for it.’ ‘Very well,’ said the gentleman;” and the Cardinal do Richelieu paid fifty francs for the pleasure of reading the little political pamphlet by “a lad of sixteen,” which probably made very little impression upon him, but which, thanks to the elegance and vivacity of its style, and the affectionate admiration of the greatest independent thinker of the sixteenth century, has found a place in the history of French literature. [Memoires de Tallemant des Reaux, t. i. p. 395.]

Anne de Montmorency——235

History must do justice even to the men whose brutal violence she stigmatizes and reproves. In the case of Anne do Montmorency it often took the form of threats intended to save him from the necessity of acts. When he came upon a scene of any great confusion and disorder, “Go hang me such an one,” he would say; “tie yon fellow to that tree; despatch this fellow with pikes and arquebuses, this very minute, right before my eyes; cut me in pieces all those rascals who chose to hold such a clock-case as this against the king; burn me yonder village; light me up a blaze everywhere, for a quarter of a mile all round.” The same man paid the greatest attention to the discipline and good condition of his troops, in order to save the populations from their requisitions and excesses. “On the 20th of November, 1549, he obtained and published at Paris,” says De Thou, “a proclamation from the king doubling the pay of the men-at-arms, arquebusiers and light-horse, and forbidding them at the same time, on pain of death, to take anything without paying for it. A bad habit had introduced itself amongst the troops, whether they were going on service or returning, whether they were in the field or in winter quarters, of keeping themselves at the expense of those amongst whom they lived. Thence proceeded an infinity of irregularities and losses in the towns and in the country, wherein the people had to suffer at the hands of an insolent soldiery the same vexatious as if it had been an enemy’s country. Not only was a stop put to such excesses, but care was further taken that the people should not be oppressed under pretext of recruitments which had to be carried out.” [Histoire de J. A. de Thou, t. i. p. 367.] A nephew of the Constable de Montmorency, a young man of twenty-three, who at a later period became Admiral de Coligny, was ordered to see to the execution of these protective measures, and he drew up, between 1550 and 1552, at first for his own regiment of foot, and afterwards as colonel-general of this army, rules of military discipline which remained for a long while in force.

There was war in the atmosphere. The king and his advisers, the court and the people, had their minds almost equally full of it, some in sheer dread, and others with an eye to preparation. The reign of Francis I. had ended mournfully; the peace of Crespy had hurt the feelings both of royalty and of the nation; Henry, now king, had, as dauphin, felt called upon to disavow it. It had left England in possession of Calais and Boulogne, and confirmed the dominion or ascendency of Charles V. in Germany, Italy, and Spain, on all the French frontiers. How was the struggle to be recommenced? What course must be adopted to sustain it successfully? To fall back upon, there were the seven provincial legions, which had been formed by Francis I. for Normandy, Picardy, Burgundy, Dauphiny, and Provence united, Languedoc, Guienne, and Brittany; but they were not like permanent troops, drilled and always ready; they were recruited by voluntary enlistment; they generally remained at their own homes, receiving compensation at review time and high pay in time of war. The Constable de Montmorency had no confidence in these legions; he spoke of them contemptuously, and would much rather have increased the number of the foreign corps, regularly paid and kept up, Swiss or lanzknechts. Two systems of policy and warfare, moreover, divided the king’s council into two: Montmorency, now old and worn out in body and mind (he was born in 1492, and so was sixty in 1552), was for a purely defensive attitude, no adventures or battles to be sought, but victuals and all sorts of supplies to be destroyed in the provinces which might be invaded by the enemy, so that instead of winning victories there he might not even be able to live there. In 1536 this system had been found successful by the constable in causing the failure of Charles V.‘s invasion of Provence; but in 1550 a new generation had come into the world, the court, and the army; it comprised young men full of ardor and already distinguished for their capacity and valor; Francis de Lorraine, Duke of Guise (born at the castle of Bar, February 17, 1519), was thirty-one; his brother, Charles de Guise, Cardinal of Lorraine, was only six-and-twenty (he was born at Joinville, February 17, 1524); Francis de Scepeaux (born at Durdtal, Anjou, in 1510), who afterwards became Marshal de Vieilleville, was at this time nearly forty; but he had contributed in 1541 to the victory of Ceresole, and Francis I. had made so much of it that he had said, on presenting him to his son Henry, “He is no older than you, and see what he has done already; if the wars do not swallow him up, you will some day make him constable or marshal of France.” Gaspard de Coligny (born at Chatillon-sur-Loing, February 16, 1517) was thirty-three; and his brother, Francis d’Andelot (born at Chatillon, in 1521), twenty-nine. These men, warriors and politicians at one and the same time, in a high social position and in the flower of their age, could not reconcile themselves to the Constable de Montmorency’s system, defensive solely and prudential to the verge of inertness; they thought that, in order to repair the reverses of France and for the sake of their own fame, there was something else to be done, and they impatiently awaited the opportunity.

Henry II.——235

It was not long coming. At the close of 1551, a deputation of the Protestant princes of Germany came to Fontainebleau to ask for the king’s support against the aggressive and persecuting despotism of Charles V. The Count of Nassau made a speech “very long,” says Vieilleville in his Memoires, “at the same time that it was in very elegant language, whereby all the presence received very great contentment.” Next day the king put the demand before his council for consideration, and expressed at the very outset his own opinion that “in the present state of affairs, he ought not to take up any enterprise, but leave his subjects of all conditions to rest; for generally,” said he, “all have suffered and do suffer when armies pass and repass so often through my kingdom, which cannot be done without pitiable oppression and trampling-down of the poor people.” The constable, “without respect of persons,” says Vieilleville, “following his custom of not giving way to anybody, forthwith began to speak, saying that the king, who asked counsel of them, had very plainly given it them himself and made them very clearly to understand his own idea, which ought to be followed point by point without any gainsaying, he having said nothing but what was most equitable and well known to the company.” Nearly all the members of the council gave in their adhesion, without comment, to the opinion of the king and the constable. “But when it came to the turn of M. de Vieilleville, who had adopted the language of the Count of Nassau,” he unhesitatingly expressed a contrary opinion, unfolding all the reasons which the king had for being distrustful of the emperor and for not letting this chance of enfeebling him slip by. “May it please your Majesty,” said he, “to remember his late passage through France, to obtain which the emperor submitted to carteblanche; nevertheless, when he was well out of the kingdom, he laughed at all his promises, and, when he found himself inside Cambrai, he said to the Prince of Infantado, ‘Let not the King of France, if he be wise, put himself at my mercy, as I have been at his, for I swear by the living God that he shall not be quit for Burgundy and Champagne; but I would also insist upon Picardy and the key of the road to the Bastille of Paris, unless he were minded to lose his life or be confined in perpetual imprisonment until the whole of my wish were accomplished.’ Since thus it is, sir, and the emperor makes war upon you covertly, it must be made upon him overtly, without concealing one’s game or dissimulating at all. No excuses must be allowed on the score of neediness, for France is inexhaustible, if only by voluntary loans raised on the most comfortable classes of the realm. As for me, I consider myself one of the poorest of the company, or at any rate one of the least comfortable; but yet I have some fifteen thousand francs’ worth of plate, dinner and dessert, white and red [silver and gold], which I hereby offer to place in the hands of whomsoever you shall appoint, in order to contribute to the expenses of so laudable an enterprise as this. Putting off, moreover, for the present the communication to you of a certain secret matter which one of the chiefs of this embassy hath told me; and I am certain that when you have discovered it, you will employ all your might and means to carry out that which I propose to you.”

The king asked Vieilleville what this secret matter was which he was keeping back. “If it please your Majesty to withdraw apart, I will tell it you,” said Vieilleville. All the council rose; and Vieilleville, approaching his Majesty, who called the constable only to his side, said, “Sir, you are well aware how the emperor got himself possessed of the imperial cities of Cambrai, Utrecht, and Liege, which he has incorporated with his own countship of Flanders, to the great detriment of the whole of Germany. The electoral princes of the holy empire have discovered that he has a project in his mind of doing just the same with the imperial cities of Metz, Strasbourg, Toul, Verdun, and such other towns on the Rhine as he shall be able to get hold of. They have secretly adopted the idea of throwing themselves upon your resources, without which they cannot stop this detestable design, which would be the total ruin of the empire and a manifest loss to your kingdom. Wherefore, take possession of the said towns, since opportunity offers, which will be about forty leagues of country gained without the loss of a single man, and an impregnable rampart for Champagne and Picardy; and, besides, a fine and perfectly open road into the heart of the duchy of Luxembourg and the districts below it as far as Brussels.”

However pacific the king’s first words had been, and whatever was the influence of the constable, the proposal of Vieilleville had a great effect upon the council. The king showed great readiness to adopt it. “I think,” said he to the constable, “that I was inspired of God when I created Vieilleville of my council to-day.” “I only gave the opinion I did,” replied Montmorency, “in order to support the king’s sentiments; let your Majesty give what orders you please.” The king loudly proclaimed his resolve. “Then let every one,” he said, “be ready at an early date, with equipment according to his ability and means, to follow me; hoping, with God’s help, that all will go well for the discomfiture of so pernicious a foe of my kingdom and nation, and one who revels and delights in tormenting all manner of folks, without regard for any.” There was a general enthusiasm; the place of meeting for the army was appointed at Chalons-sur-Marne, March 10, 1552; more than a thousand gentlemen flocked thither as volunteers; peasants and mechanics from Champagne and Picardy joined them; the war was popular. “The majority of the soldiers,” says Rabutin, a contemporary chronicler, “were young men whose brains were on fire.” Francis de Guise and Gaspard de Coligny were their chief leaders. The king entered Lorraine from Champagne by Joinville, the ordinary residence of the Dukes of Guise. He carried Pont-a-Mousson; Toul opened its gates to him on the 13th of April; he occupied Nancy on the 14th, and on the 18th he entered Metz, not without some hesitation amongst a portion of the inhabitants and the necessity of a certain show of military force on the part of the leaders of the royal army. The king would have given the command of this important place to Vieilleville, but he refused it, saying, “I humbly thank your Majesty, but I do not think that you should establish in Metz any governor in your own name, but leave that duty to the mayor and sheriffs of the city, under whose orders the eight captains of the old train-bands who will remain there with their companies will be.” “How say you!” said the king: “can I leave a foreign lieutenant in a foreign country whose oath of fidelity I have only had within the last four-and-twenty hours, and with all the difficulties and disputes in the world to meet too?” “Sir,” rejoined Vieilleville, “to fear that this master sheriff, whose name is Tallanges, might possibly do you a bad turn, is to wrongly estimate his own competence, who never put his nose anywhere but into a bar-parlor to drink himself drunk; and it is also to show distrust of the excellent means you have for preventing all the ruses and artifices that might be invented to throw your service into confusion.” The king acquiesced, but not without anxiety, in Vieilleville’s refusal, and, leaving at Metz as governor a relative of the constable’s, whom the latter warmly recommended to him, he set out on the 22d of April, 1552, with all his household, to go and attempt in Alsace the same process that he had already carried out in Lorraine. “But when we had entered upon the territory of Germany,” says Vieilleville, “our Frenchmen at once showed their insolence in their very first quarters, which so alarmed all the rest that we never found from that moment a single man to speak to, and, as long as the expedition lasted, there never appeared a soul with his provisions to sell on the road; whereby the army suffered infinite privations. This misfortune began with us at the approach to Saverne (Zabern), the episcopal residence of Strasbourg.” When the king arrived before Strasbourg he found the gates closed, and the only offer to open them was on the condition that he should enter alone with forty persons for his whole suite. The constable, having taken a rash fit, was of opinion that he should enter even on this condition. This advice was considered by his Majesty to be very sound, as well as by the princes and lords who were about him, according to the natural tendency of the Frenchman, who is always for seconding and applauding what is said by the great. But Vieilleville, on being summoned to the king’s quarters, opposed it strongly. “Sir,” said he, “break this purpose, for in carrying it out you are in danger of incurring some very evil and very shameful fate; and, should that happen, what will become of your army which will be left without head, prince, or captain, and in a strange country, wherein we are already looked upon with ill will because of our insolence and indiscretions? As for me, I am off again to my quarters to quaff and laugh with my two hundred men-at-arms, in readiness to march when your standard is a-field, but not thither.” Nothing has a greater effect upon weak and undecided minds than the firm language of men resolved to do as they say. The king gave up the idea of entering Strasbourg, and retired well pleased nevertheless, for he was in possession of Metz, Toul, Verdun, and Pont-a-Mousson, the keys for France into Germany, and at the head of an army under young commanders who were enterprising without being blindly rash.

Charles V. also had to know what necessity was, and to submit to it, without renouncing the totality of his designs. On the 2d of August, 1552, he signed at Passau, with the Protestant princes, the celebrated treaty known under the name of “treaty of public peace,” which referred the great questions of German pacification to a general diet to be assembled in six months, and declared that, pending definitive conciliation, the two religions should be on an equal footing in the empire, that is, that the princes and free towns should have the supreme regulation of religious matters amongst themselves. Charles V. thus recovered full liberty of action in his relations with France, and could no longer think of anything but how to recover the important towns he had lost in Lorraine. Henry II., on the other hand, who was asked by his Protestant allies on what conditions he would accept the peace of Passau, replied that at no price would he dispossess himself of the Three-Bishoprics of Lorraine, and that he would for his part continue the contest he had undertaken for the liberation of Germany. The siege of Metz then became the great question of the day: Charles V. made all his preparations to conduct it on an immense scale, and Henry II. immediately ordered Francis de Guise to go and defend his new conquest at all hazards.

Diana de Poitiers——243

Ambition which is really great accepts with joy great perils fraught with great opportunities. Guise wrote to Henry II.‘s favorite, Diana de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois, to thank her for having helped to obtain for him this favor, which was about to bring him “to the emperor’s very beard.” He set out at once, first of all to Toul, where the plague prevailed, and where he wished to hurry on the repair of the ramparts. Money was wanting to pay the working-corps; and he himself advanced the necessary sum. On arriving at Metz on the 17th of August, 1552, he found there only twelve companies of infantry, new levies; and every evening he drilled them himself in front of his quarters. A host of volunteers, great lords, simple gentlemen, and rich and brave burgesses, soon came to him, “eager to aid him in repelling the greatest and most powerful effort ever made by the emperor against their country and their king.” This concourse of warriors, the majority of them well known and several of them distinguished, redoubled the confidence and ardor of the rank and file in the army. We find under the title of Chanson faite en 1552 par un souldar etant en Metz en garnison this couplet:—

“My Lord of Guise is here at home,
With many a noble at his side,
With the two children of Vendome,
With bold Nemours, in all his pride,
And Strozzi too, a warrior tried,
Who ceases not, by night or day,
Around the city-walls to stride,
And strengthen Metz in every way.”

[Peter Strozzi, “the man in all the world,” says Brantome, “who
could best arrange and order battles and battalions, and could
best post them to his advantage.”]

To put into condition the tottering fortifications of Metz, and to have the place well supplied, was the first task undertaken by its indefatigable governor; he never ceased to meet the calls upon him either in person or in purse; he was seen directing the workmen, taking his meals with them, and setting them a good example by carrying the hod for several hours. He frequently went out on horseback to reconnoitre the country, visit the points of approach and lodgment that the enemy might make use of around the town, and take measures of precaution at the places whereby they might do harm as well as at those where it would be not only advantageous for the French to make sallies or to set ambuscades, but also to secure a retreat. Charles V., naturally slow as he was in his operations no less than in his resolves, gave the activity of Guise time to bear fruit. “I mean to batter the town of Metz in such style as to knock it about the ears of M. de Guise,” said he at the end of August, 1552, “and I make small account of the other places that the king may have beyond that.”

Guise at Metz——244

On the 15th of September following, Charles was still fifteen leagues from Metz, on the territory of Deux-Ponts, and it was only on the 19th of October that the Duke of Alba, his captain-general, arrived with twenty-four thousand men, the advance-guard, within a league of the place which, it it is said, was to be ultimately besieged by one hundred thousand foot, twenty-three thousand horse, one hundred and twenty pieces of artillery, and seven thousand pioneers. “After one and the first encounter,” says a journal of the siege, “the enemy held our soldiers in good repute, not having seen them, for any sort of danger, advance or retreat, save as men of war and of assured courage; which was an advantage, for M. de Guise knew well that at the commencement of a war it was requisite that a leader should try, as much as ever he could, to win.” It was only on the 20th of November that Charles V., ill of gout at Thionville, and unable to stand on his legs, perceived the necessity of being present in person at the siege, and appeared before Metz on an Arab horse, with his face pale and worn, his eyes sunk in his head, and his beard white. At sight of him there was a most tremendous salute of arquebuses and artillery, the noise of which brought the whole town to arms. The emperor, whilst waiting to establish himself at the castle of La Horgne, took up his quarters near the Duke of Alba, in a little wooden house built out of the ruins of the Abbey of Saint-Clement: “a beautiful palace,” said he, “when the keys of Metz are brought to me there.” From the 20th to the 26th the attack was continued with redoubled vigor; fourteen thousand cannon-shots were fired, it is said, in a single day Guise had remarked that the enemy seemed preparing to direct the principal assault against a point so strong that nobody had thought of pulling down the houses in its vicinity. This oversight was immediately repaired, and a stout wall, the height of a man, made out of the ruins. “If they send us peas,” said Guise, “we will give them back beans” (“we will give them at least as good as they bring “). On the 26th of November the old wall was battered by a formidable artillery; and, breached in three places, it crumbled down on the 28th into the ditch, “at the same time making it difficult to climb for to come to the assault.” The assailants uttered shouts of joy; but, when the cloud of dust had cleared off, they saw a fresh rampart eight feet in height above the breach, “and they experienced as much and even more disgust than they had felt pleasure at seeing the wall tumble.” The besieged heaped mockery and insult upon them; but Guise “imperatively put a stop to the disturbance, fearing, it is said, lest some traitor should take advantage of it to give the assailants some advice, and the soldiers then conceived the idea of sticking upon the points of their pikes live cats, the cries of which seemed to show derision of the enemy.”

The siege went on for a month longer without making any more impression; and the imperial troops kicked against any fresh assaults. “I was wont once upon a time to be followed to battle,” Charles V. would say, “but I see that I have no longer men about me; I must bid farewell to the empire, and go and shut myself up in some monastery; before three years are over I shall turn Cordelier.” Whilst Metz was still holding out, the fortress of Toul was summoned by the Imperialists to open its gates; but the commandant replied, “When the town of Metz has been taken, when I have had the honor of being besieged in due form by the emperor, and when I have made as long a defence as the Duke of Guise has, such a summons may be addressed to me, and I will consider what I am to do.” On the 26th of December, 1552, the sixty-fifth day since the arrival of the imperial army and the forty-fifth since the batteries had opened fire, Charles V. resolved to raise the siege. “I see very well,” said he, “that fortune resembles women; she prefers a young king to an old emperor.” His army filed off by night, in silence, leaving behind its munitions and its tents just as they stood, “driven away, almost, by the chastisement of Heaven,” says the contemporary chronicler Rabutin, “with but two shots by way of signal.” The ditty of the soldier just quoted ends thus:—

“At last, so stout was her defence, From Metz they moved their guns away; And, with the laugh at their expense, A-tramping went their whole array. And at their tail the noble Lord Of Guise sent forth a goodly throng Of cavalry, with lance and sword, To teach them how to tramp along.”

Guise was far from expecting so sudden and decisive a result. “Sing me no more flattering strains in your letters about the emperor’s dislodgment hence,” he wrote on the 24th of December to his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine; “take it for certain that unless we be very much mistaken in him, he will not, as long as he has life, brook the shame of departing hence until he has seen it all out.”

Irritated, and, perhaps, still more shocked, at so heavy a blow to his power and his renown, Charles V. looked everywhere for a chance of taking his revenge. He flattered himself that he had found it in Therouanne, a fortress of importance at that time between Flanders and Artois, which had always been a dependency of the kingdom of France, and served as a rampart against the repeated incursions of the English, the masters of Calais. Charles knew that it was ill supplied with troops and munitions of war; and the court of Henry II., intoxicated with the deliverance of Metz, spoke disdainfully of the emperor, and paid no heed to anything but balls, festivities, and tournaments in honor of the marriage between Diana d’Angouleme, the king’s natural daughter, and Horatio Farnese, Duke of Castro. All on a sudden it was announced that the troops of Charles V. were besieging Therouanne. The news was at first treated lightly; it was thought sufficient to send to Therouanne some re-enforcements under the orders of Francis de Montmorency, nephew of the constable; but the attack was repulsed with spirit by the besiegers, and brave as was the resistance offered by the besieged, who sustained for ten hours a sanguinary assault, on the 20th of June, 1553, Francis de Montmorency saw the impossibility of holding out longer, and, on the advice of all his officers, offered to surrender the place; but he forgot to stipulate in the first place for a truce; the Germans entered the town, thrown open without terms of capitulation; it was given up as prey to an army itself a prey to all the passions of soldiers as well as to their master’s vengeful feelings, and Therouanne, handed over for devastation, was for a whole month diligently demolished and razed to the ground. When Charles V., at Brussels, received news of the capture, “bonfires were lighted throughout Flanders; bells were rung, cannon were fired.” It was but a poor revenge for so great a sovereign after the reverse he had just met with at Metz; but the fall of Therouanne was a grievous incident for France. Francis I. was in the habit of saying that Therouanne in Flanders and Acqs (now Dax) on the frontier of Guienne were, to him, like two pillows on which he could rest tranquilly. [Histoire universelle, t. ii. p. 352.]

Whilst these events were passing in Lorraine and Flanders, Henry II. and his advisers were obstinately persisting in the bad policy which had been clung to by Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., that, in fact, of making conquests and holding possessions in Italy. War continued, from Turin to Naples, between France, the emperor, the pope, and the local princes, with all sorts of alliances and alternations, but with no tangible result. Blaise de Montluc defended the fortress of Sienna for nine months against the Imperialists with an intelligence and a bravery which earned for him twenty years later the title of Marshal of France. Charles de Brissac was carrying on the war in Piedmont with such a combination of valor and generosity that the king sent him as a present his own sword, writing to him at the same time, “The opinion I have of your merit has become rooted even amongst foreigners. The emperor says that he would make himself monarch of the whole world if he had a Brissac to second his plans.” His men, irritated at getting no pay, one day surrounded Brissac, complaining vehemently. “You will always get bread by coming to me,” said he; and he paid the debt of France by sacrificing his daughter’s dowry and borrowing a heavy sum from the Swiss on the security of his private fortune. It was by such devotion and such sacrifices that the French nobility paid for and justified their preponderance in the state; but they did not manage to succeed in the conduct of public affairs, and to satisfy the interests of a nation progressing in activity, riches, independence, and influence. Disquieted at the smallness of his success in Italy, Henry II. flattered himself that he would regain his ascendency there by sending thither the Duke of Guise, the hero of Metz, with an army of about twenty thousand men, French or Swiss, and a staff of experienced officers; but Guise was not more successful than his predecessors had been. After several attempts by arms and negotiation amongst the local sovereigns, he met with a distinct failure in the kingdom of Naples before the fortress of Civitella, the siege of which he was forced to raise on the 15th of May, 1557. Wearied out by want of success, sick in the midst of an army of sick, regretting over “the pleasure of his field-sports at Joinville, and begging his mother to have just a word or two written to him to console him,” all he sighed for was to get back to France. And it was not long before the state of affairs recalled him thither. It was now nearly two years ago that, on the 25th of October, 1555, and the 1st of January, 1556, Charles V. had solemnly abdicated all his dominions, giving over to his son Philip the kingdom of Spain, with the sovereignty of Burgundy and the Low Countries, and to his younger brother, Ferdinand, the empire together with the original heritage of the House of Austria, and retiring personally to the monastery of Yuste, in Estramadura, there to pass the last years of his life, distracted with gout, at one time resting from the world and its turmoil, at another vexing himself about what was doing there now that he was no longer in it. Before abandoning it for good, he desired to do his son Philip the service of leaving him, if not in a state of definite peace, at any rate in a condition of truce with France. Henry II. also desired rest; and the Constable de Montmorency wished above everything for the release of his son Francis, who had been a prisoner since the fall of Thorouanne. A truce for five years was signed at Vaucelles on the 5th of February, 1556; and Coligny, quite young still, but already admiral and in high esteem, had the conduct of the negotiation. He found Charles V. dressed in mourning, seated beside a little table, in a modest apartment hung with black. When the admiral handed to the emperor the king’s letter, Charles could not himself break the seal, and the Bishop of Arras drew near to render him that service. “Gently, my Lord of Arras,” said the emperor; “would you rob me of the duty I am bound to discharge towards the king my brother-in-law? Please God, none but I shall do it;” and then turning to Coligny, he said, “What will you say of me, admiral? Am I not a pretty knight to run a course and break a lance, I who can only with great difficulty open a letter?” He inquired with an air of interest after Henry II.‘s health, and boasted of belonging himself, also, to the house of France through his grandmother Mary of Burgundy. “I hold it to be an honor,” said he, “to have issued, on the mother’s side, from the stock which wears and upholds the most famous crown in the world.” His son Philip, who was but a novice in kingly greatness, showed less courtesy and less good taste than his father; he received the French ambassadors in a room hung with pictures representing the battle of Pavia. There were some who concluded from that that the truce would not be of long duration. [Histoire d’Espagne, by M. Rosseeuw Saint-Hilaire, t. viii. p. 64.]

And it was not long before their prognostication was verified. The sending of the Duke of Guise into Italy, and the assistance he brought to Pope Paul IV., then at war with the new King of Spain, Philip II., were considered as a violation of the truce of Vaucelles. Henry II. had expected as much, and had ordered Coligny, who was commanding in Picardy and Flanders, to hold himself in readiness to take the field as soon as he should be, if not forced, at any rate naturally called upon, by any unforeseen event. It cost Coligny, who was a man of scrupulous honor, a great struggle to lightly break a truce he had just signed; nevertheless, in January, 1557, when he heard that the French were engaged in Italy in the war between the pope and the Spaniards, he did not consider that he could possibly remain inactive in Flanders. He took by surprise the town of Lens, between Lille and Arras. Philip II., on his side, had taken measures for promptly entering upon the campaign. By his marriage with Mary Tudor, Queen of England, he had secured for himself a powerful ally in the north; the English Parliament were but little disposed to compromise themselves in a war with France; but in March, 1557, Philip went to London; the queen’s influence and the distrust excited in England by Henry II. prevailed over the pacific desires of the nation; and Mary sent a simple herald to carry to the King of France at Rheims her declaration of war. Henry accepted it politely, but resolutely. “I speak to you in this way,” said he to the herald, “because it is a queen who sends you; had it been a king, I would speak to you in a very different tone;” and he ordered him to be gone forthwith from the kingdom. A negotiation was commenced for accomplishing the marriage, long since agreed upon, between the young Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart, and Henry II.‘s son, Francis, dauphin of France. Mary, who was born on the 8th of December, 1542, at Falkland Castle in Scotland, had, since 1548, lived and received her education at the court of France, whither her mother, Mary of Lorraine, eldest sister of Francis of Guise and queen-dowager of Scotland, had lost no time in sending her as soon as the future union between the two children had been agreed upon between the two courts. The dauphin of France was a year younger than the Scottish princess; but “from his childhood,” says the Venetian Capello, “he has been very much in love with her Most Serene little Highness the Queen of Scotland, who is destined for his wife. It sometimes happens that, when they are exchanging endearments, they like to retire quite apart into a corner of the rooms, that their little secrets may not be overheard.” On the 19th of April, 1558, the espousals took place in the great hall of the Louvre, and the marriage was celebrated in the church of Notre-Dame.

Francis Ii. And Mary Stuart Love Making——251

From that time Mary Stuart was styled in France queen-dauphiness, and her husband, with the authorization of the Scottish commissioners, took the title of king-dauphin. “Etiquette required at that time that the heir to the throne should hold his court separately, and not appear at the king’s court save on grand occasions. The young couple resigned themselves without any difficulty to this exile, and retired to Villers-Cotterets.” [Histoire de Marie Stuart, by Jules Gauthier, t. i. p. 36.]

Whilst preparations were being made at Paris for the rejoicings in honor of the union of the two royal children, war broke out in Picardy and Flanders. Philip II. had landed there with an army of forty-seven thousand men, of whom seven thousand were English. Never did any great sovereign and great politician provoke and maintain for long such important wars without conducting them in some other fashion than from the recesses of his cabinet, and without ever having exposed his own life on the field of battle. The Spanish army was under the orders of Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, a young warrior of thirty, who had won the confidence of Charles V. He led it to the siege of Saint-Quentin, a place considered as one of the bulwarks of the kingdom. Philip II. remained at some leagues’ distance in the environs. Henry II. was ill prepared for so serious an attack; his army, which was scarcely twenty thousand strong, mustered near Laon under the orders of the Duke of Nevers, governor of Champagne; at the end of July, 1557, it hurried into Picardy, under the command of the Constable de Montmorency, who was supported by Admiral de Coligny, his nephew, by the Duke of Enghien, by the Prince of Condo, and by the Duke of Montpensier, by nearly all the great lords and valiant warriors of France; they soon saw that Saint- Quentin was in a deplorable state of defence; the fortifications were old and badly kept up; soldiers, munitions of war, and victuals were all equally deficient. Coligny did not hesitate, however he threw himself into the place on the 2d of August, during the night, with a small corps of seven hundred men and Saint-Remy, a skilful engineer, who had already distinguished himself in the defence of Metz; the admiral packed off the useless mouths, repaired the walls at the points principally threatened, and reanimated the failing courage of the inhabitants. The constable and his army came within hail of the place; and D’Andelot, Coligny’s brother, managed with great difficulty to get four hundred and fifty men into it. On the 10th of August the battle was begun between the two armies. The constable affected to despise the Duke of Savoy’s youth. “I will soon show him,” said he, “a move of an old soldier.” The French army, very inferior in numbers, was for a moment on the point of being surrounded. The Prince of Conde sent the constable warning. “I was serving in the field,” answered Montmorency, “before the Prince of Conde came into the world; I have good hopes of still giving him lessons in the art of war for some years to come.” The valor of the constable and his comrades in arms could not save them from the consequences of their stubborn recklessness and their numerical inferiority; the battalions of Gascon infantry closed their ranks, with pikes to the front, and made an heroic resistance, but all in vain, against repeated charges of the Spanish cavalry: and the defeat was total. More than three thousand men were killed; the number of prisoners amounted to double; and the constable, left upon the field with his thigh shattered by a cannon-ball, fell into the hands of the Spaniards, as was also the case with the Dukes of Longueville and Montpensier, La Rochefoucauld, D’Aubigne, &c. . . . The Duke of Enghien, Viscount de Turenne, and a multitude of others, many great names amidst a host of obscure, fell in the fight. The Duke of Nevers and the Prince of Conde, sword in hand, reached La Fere with the remnants of their army. Coligny remained alone in Saint-Quentin with those who survived of his little garrison, and a hundred and twenty arquebusiers whom the Duke of Nevers threw into the place at a loss of three times as many. Coligny held out for a fortnight longer, behind walls that were in ruins and were assailed by a victorious army. At length, on the 27th of August, the enemy entered Saint-Quentin by shoals. “The admiral, who was still going about the streets with a few men to make head against them, found himself hemmed in on all sides, and did all he could to fall into the hands of a Spaniard, preferring rather to await on the spot the common fate than to incur by flight any shame and reproach. He who took him prisoner, after having set him to rest a while at the foot of the ramparts, took him away to their camp, where, as he entered, he met Captain Alonzo de Cazieres, commandant of the old bands of Spanish infantry, when up came the Duke of Savoy, who ordered the said Cazieres to take the admiral to his tent.” [Commentaire de Francois de Rabutin sur les Guerres entre Henri II., roi de France, et Charles Quint, empereur, t. ii. p. 95, in the Petitot collection.] D’Andelot, the admiral’s brother, succeeded in escaping across the marshes. Being thus master of Saint-Quentin, Philip II., after having attempted to put a stop to carnage and plunder, expelled from the town, which was half in ashes, the inhabitants who had survived; and the small adjacent fortresses, Ham and Catelet, were not long before they surrendered.

Philip, with anxious modesty, sent information of his victory to his father, Charles, who had been in retirement since February 21, 1556, at the monastery of Yuste. “As I did not happen to be there myself,” he said at the end of his letter, “about which I am heavy at heart as to what your Majesty will possibly think, I can only tell you from hearsay what took place.” We have not the reply of Charles V. to his son; but his close confidant, Quejada, wrote, “The emperor felt at this news one of the greatest thrills of satisfaction he has ever had; but, to tell you the truth, I perceive by his manner that he cannot reconcile himself to the thought that his son was not there; and with good reason.” After that Saint-Quentin had surrendered, the Duke of Savoy wanted to march forward and strike affrighted France to the very heart; and the aged emperor was of his mind. “Is the king my son at Paris?” he said, when he heard of his victory. Philip had thought differently about it instead of hurling his army on Paris, he had moved it back to Saint-Quentin, and kept it for the reduction of places in the neighborhood. “The Spaniards,” says Rabutin, “might have accomplished our total extermination, and taken from us all hope of setting ourselves up again. . . . But the Supreme Ruler, the God of victories, pulled them up quite short.” An unlooked-for personage, Queen Catherine de’ Medici, then for the first time entered actively upon the scene. We borrow the very words of the Venetian ambassadors who lived within her sphere. The first, Lorenzo Contarini, wrote in 1552, “The queen is younger than the king, but only thirteen days; she is not pretty, but she is possessed of extraordinary wisdom and prudence; no doubt of her being fit to govern; nevertheless she is not consulted or considered so much as she well might be.” Five years later, in 1557, after the battle and capture of Saint-Quentin, France was in a fit of stupor; Paris believed the enemy to be already beneath her walls; many of the burgesses were packing up and flying, some to Orleans, some to Bourges, some still farther. The king had gone to Compiegne “to get together,” says Brantome, “a fresh army.”

Catherine De’ Medici (in Her Young Days)——255

Queen Catherine was alone at Paris. Of her own motion “she went to the Parliament (according to the Memoires de la Chatre it was to the Hotel de Ville that she went and made her address) in full state, accompanied by the cardinals, princes, and princesses; and there, in the most impressive language, she set forth the urgent state of affairs at the moment. She pointed out that, in spite of the enormous expenses into which the Most Christian king had found himself drawn in his late wars, he had shown the greatest care not to burden the towns. In the continuous and extreme pressure of requirements her Majesty did not think that any further charge could be made on the people of the country places, who in ordinary times always bear the greatest burden. With so much sentiment and eloquence that she touched the heart of everybody, the queen then explained to the Parliament that the king had need of three hundred thousand livres, twenty-five thousand to be paid every two months; and she added that she would retire from the place of session, so as not to interfere with liberty of discussion; and she, accordingly, retired to an adjoining room. A resolution to comply with the wishes of her Majesty was voted, and the queen, having resumed her place, received a promise to that effect. A hundred notables of the city offered to give at once three thousand francs apiece. The queen thanked them in the sweetest form of words; and thus terminated this session of Parliament with so much applause for her Majesty and such lively marks of satisfaction at her behavior that no idea can be given of them. Throughout the whole city nothing was spoken of but the queen’s prudence and the happy manner in which she proceeded in this enterprise.”

Such is the account, not of a French courtier, but of the Venetian ambassador, Giacomo Lorenzo, writing confidentially to his government. From that day the position of Catherine de’ Medici was changed in France, amongst the people as well as at court. “The king went more often to see her; he added to his habits that of holding court at her apartments for about an hour every day after supper in the midst of the lords and ladies.” It is not to be discovered anywhere in the contemporary Memoires, whether Catherine had anything to do with the resolution taken by Henry II. on returning from Compiegne; but she thenceforward assumed her place, and gave a foretaste of the part she was to play in the government of France. Unhappily for the honor of Catherine and for the welfare of France, that part soon ceased to be judicious, dignified, and salutary, as it had been on that day of its first exhibition.

On entering Paris again the king at once sent orders to the Duke of Guise to return in haste from Italy with all the troops he could bring. Every eye and every hope were fixed upon the able and heroic defender of Metz, who had forced Charles V. to retreat before him. A general appeal was at the same time addressed to “all soldiers, gentlemen and others, who had borne or were capable of bearing arms, to muster at Laon under the Duke of Nevers, in order to be employed for the service of the king and for the tuition [protection] of their country, their families, and their property.” Guise arrived on the 20th of October, 1557, at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where the court happened to be just then: every mark of favor was lavished upon him; all the resources of the state were put at his disposal; there was even some talk of appointing him viceroy; but Henry II. confined himself to proclaiming him, on the very day of his arrival, lieutenant-general of the armies throughout the whole extent of the monarchy, both within and without the realm. His brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, who was as ambitious and almost as able as he, had the chief direction in civil, financial, and diplomatic affairs; never, since the great mayors-of-the-palace under the Merovingian kings, had similar power been in the hands of a subject. Like a man born to command, Guise saw that, in so complicated a situation, a brilliant stroke must be accomplished and a great peril be met by a great success. “He racked his brains for all sorts of devices for enabling him to do some remarkable deed which might humble the pride of that haughty Spanish nation and revive the courage of his own men; and he took it that those things which the enemy considered as the most secure would be the least carefully guarded. Some years previously it had been suggested to the constable that an attempt might be made upon Calais, negligently guarded as it was, and the place itself not being in good order. The Duke of Guise put the idea of this enterprise forward once more, and begged the king’s permission to attempt it, without saying a word about it to anybody else, which the king considered to be a very good notion.” Guise took the command of the army, and made a feint of directing its movements towards an expedition in the east of the kingdom; but, suddenly turning westwards, he found himself on the night of January 1, 1558, beneath the walls of Calais, “whither, with right good will, all the princes, lords, and soldiers had marched.” On the 3d of January he took the two forts of Nieullay and Risbank, which covered the approaches to the place. On the 4th he prepared for, and on the 6th he delivered, the assault upon the citadel itself, which was carried; he left there his brother, the Duke of Aumale, with a sufficient force for defence; the portion of the English garrison which had escaped at the assault fell back within the town; the governor, Lord Wentworth, “like a man in desperation, who saw he was all but lost,” made vain attempts to recover this important post under cover of night and of the high sea, which rendered impossible the prompt arrival of any aid for the French; but “they held their own inside the castle.” The English requested the Duke of Aumale “to parley so as to come to some honorable and reasonable terms;” and Guise assented. On the 8th of January, whilst he was conferring in his tent with the representatives of the governor, Coligny’s brother, D’Andelot, entered the town at the solicitation of the English themselves, who were afraid of being all put to the sword. The capitulation was signed. The inhabitants, with their wives and children, had their lives spared, and received permission to leave Calais freely and without any insult, and withdraw to England or Flanders. Lord Wentworth and fifty other persons, to be chosen by the Duke of Guise, remained prisoners of war; with this exception, all the soldiers were to return to England, but with empty hands. The place was left with all the cannons, arms, munitions, utensils, engines of war, flags and standards which happened to be in it. The furniture, the gold and silver, coined or other, the merchandise, and the horses passed over to the disposal of the Duke of Guise. Lastly the vanquished, when they quitted the town, were to leave it intact, having no power to pull down houses, unpave streets, throw up earth, displace a single stone, pull out a single nail. The conqueror’s precautions were as deliberate as his audacity had been sudden. On the 9th of January, 1558, after a week’s siege, Calais, which had been in the hands of the English for two hundred and ten years, once more became a French town, in spite of the inscription which was engraved on one of its gates, and which may be turned into the following distich:—

“A siege of Calais may seem good
When lead and iron swim like wood.”

The joy was so much the greater in that it was accompanied by great surprise: save a few members of the king’s council, nobody expected this conquest. “I certainly thought that you must be occupied in preparing for some great exploit, and that you wished to wait until you could apprise me of the execution rather than the design,” wrote Marshal de Brissac to the Duke of Guise, on the 22d of January, from Italy. Foreigners were not less surprised than the French themselves; they had supposed that France would remain for a long while under the effects of the reverse experienced at Saint-Quentin. “The loss of Calais,” said Pope Paul IV., “will be the only dowry that the Queen of England will obtain from her marriage with Philip. For France such a conquest is preferable to that of half the kingdom of England.” When Mary Tudor, already seriously ill, heard the news, she exclaimed from her deathbed, on the 20th of January, “If my heart is opened, there will be found graven upon it the word Calais.” And when the Grand Prior of France, on repairing to the court of his sister, Mary of Lorraine, in Scotland, went to visit Queen Elizabeth, who had succeeded Mary Tudor, she, after she had made him dance several times with her, said to him, “My dear prior, I like you very much, but not your brother, who robbed me of my town of Calais.”

Guise was one of those who knew that it is as necessary to follow up a success accomplished as to proceed noiselessly in the execution of a sudden success. When he was master of Calais he moved rapidly upon the neighboring fortresses of Guines and Ham; and he had them in his power within a few days, notwithstanding a resistance more stout than he had encountered at Calais. During the same time the Duke of Nevers, encouraged by such examples, also took the field again, and gained possession, in Champagne and the neighborhood, of the strong castles of Herbemont, Jamoigne, Chigny, Rossignol, and Villemont. Guise had no idea of contenting himself with his successes in the west of France; his ambition carried him into the east also, to the environs of Metz, the scene of his earliest glory. He heard that Vieilleville, who had become governor of Metz, was setting about the reduction of Thionville, “the best picture of a fortress I ever saw,” says Montluc. “I have heard,” wrote Guise to Vieilleville, “that you have a fine enterprise on hand; I pray you do not commence the execution of it, in any fashion whatever, until I be with you: having given a good account of Calais and Guines, as lieutenant-general of his Majesty in this realm, I should be very vexed if there should be done therein anything of honor and importance without my presence.” He arrived before Thionville on the 4th of June, 1558. Vieilleville and his officers were much put out at his interference. “The duke might surely have dispensed with coming,” said D’Estrees, chief officer of artillery; “it will be easy for him to swallow what is all chewed ready for him.” But the bulk of the army did not share this feeling of jealousy. When the pioneers, drawn up, caught sight of Guise, “Come on, sir,” they cried, “come and let us die before Thionville; we have been expecting you this long while.” The siege lasted three weeks longer. Guise had with him two comrades of distinction, the Italian Peter Strozzi, and the Gascon Blaise do Montluc. On the 20th of June Strozzi was mortally wounded by an arquebuse-shot, at the very side of Guise, who was talking to him with a hand upon his shoulder. “Ah! by God’s head, sir,” cried Strozzi, in Italian, “the king to-day loses a good servant, and so does your excellency.” Guise, greatly moved, attempted to comfort him, and spoke to him the name of Jesus Christ; but Strozzi was one of those infidels so common at that time in Italy. “‘Sdeath,” said he, “what Jesus are you come hither to remind me of? I believe in no God; my game is played.” “You will appear to-day before His face,” persisted Guise, in the earnestness of his faith. “‘Sdeath,” replied Strozzi, “I shall be where all the others are who have died in the last six thousand years.” The eyes of Guise remained fixed a while upon his comrade dying in such a frame of mind; but he soon turned all his thoughts once more to the siege of Thionville. Montluc supported him valiantly. A strong tower still held out, and Montluc carried it at the head of his men. Guise rushed up and threw his arm round the warrior’s neck, saying, “Monseigneur, I now see clearly that the old proverb is quite infallible: ‘A good horse will go to the last.’ I am off at once to my quarters to report the capture to the king. Be assured that I shall not conceal from him the service you have done.” The reduction of Thionville was accomplished on that very day, June 22, 1558. That of Arlon, a rich town in the neighborhood, followed very closely. Guise, thoroughly worn out, had ordered the approaches to be made next morning at daybreak, requesting that he might be left to sleep until he awoke of himself; when he did awake, he inquired whether the artillery had yet opened fire; he was told that Montluc had surprised the place during the night. “That is making the pace very fast,” said he, as he made the sign of the cross; but he did not care to complain about it. Under the impulse communicated by him the fortunes of France were reviving everywhere. A check received before Gravelines, on the 13th of July, 1558, by a division commanded by De Termes, governor of Calais, did not subdue the national elation and its effect upon the enemy themselves. “It is an utter impossibility for me to keep up the war,” wrote Philip II., on the 15th of February, 1559, to Granvelle. On both sides there was a desire for peace; and conferences were opened at Cateau-Cambresis. On the 6th of February, 1559, a convention was agreed upon for a truce which was to last during the whole course of the negotiation, and for six days after the separation of the plenipotentiaries, in case no peace took place.

It was concluded on the 2d of April, 1559, between Henry II. and Elizabeth, who had become Queen of England at the death of her sister Mary (November 17, 1558); and next day, April 3, between Henry II., Philip II., and the allied princes of Spain, amongst others the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, who, whilst serving in the Spanish army, was fitting himself to become the leader of the Reformers, and the liberator of the Low Countries. By the treaty with England, France was to keep Calais for eight years in the first instance, and on a promise to pay five hundred thousand gold crowns to Queen Elizabeth or her successors. The money was never paid, and Calais was never restored, and this without the English government’s having considered that it could make the matter a motive for renewing the war. By the treaty with Spain, France was to keep Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and have back Saint-Quentin, Le Catelet, and Ham; but she was to restore to Spain or her allies a hundred and eighty-nine places in Flanders, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Corsica. The malcontents—for the absence of political liberty does not suppress them entirely—raised their voices energetically against this last treaty signed by the king, with the sole desire, it was supposed, of obtaining the liberation of his two favorites, the Constable de Montmorency and Marshal de Saint-Andre, who had been prisoners in Spain since the defeat at Saint-Quentin. “Their ransom,” it was said, “has cost the kingdom more than that of Francis I.” Guise himself said to the king, “A stroke of your Majesty’s pen costs more to France than thirty years of war cost.” Ever since that time the majority of historians, even the most enlightened, have joined in the censure that was general in the sixteenth century; but their opinion will not be indorsed here; the places which France had won during the war, and which she retained by the peace,—Metz, Toul, and Verdun on her frontier in the north-east, facing the imperial or Spanish possessions, and Boulogne and Calais on her coasts in the north-west, facing England,—were, as regarded the integrity of the state and the security of the inhabitants, of infinitely more importance than those which she gave up in Flanders and Italy. The treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, too, marked the termination of those wars of ambition and conquest which the Kings of France had waged beyond the Alps an injudicious policy, which, for four reigns, had crippled and wasted the resources of France in adventurous expeditions, beyond the limits of her geographical position and her natural and permanent interests.

More or less happily, the treaty of Cateau-Cambreis had regulated all those questions of external policy which were burdensome to France; she was once more at peace with her neighbors, and seemed to have nothing more to do than to gather in the fruits thereof. But she had in her own midst questions far more difficult of solution than those of her external policy, and these perils from within were threatening her more seriously than any from without. Since the death of Francis I., the religious ferment had pursued its course, becoming more general and more fierce; the creed of the Reformers had spread very much; their number had very much increased; permanent churches, professing and submitting to a fixed faith and discipline, had been founded; that of Paris was the first, in 1555; and the example had been followed at Orleans, at Chartres, at Lyons, at Toulouse, at Rochelle, in Normandy, in Touraine, in Guienne, in Poitou, in Dauphiny, in Provence, and in all the provinces, more or less. In 1561, it was calculated that there were twenty-one hundred and fifty reformed, or, as the expression then was, rectified (dressees), churches. “And this is no fanciful figure; it is the result of a census taken at the instigation of the deputies who represented the reformed churches at the conference of Poissy on the demand of Catherine de’ Medici, and in conformity with the advice of Admiral de Coligny.” [La Reformation en France pendant sa premiere periode, by Henri Luttheroth, pp. 127-132.] It is clear that the movement of the Reformation in the sixteenth century was one of those spontaneous and powerful movements which have their source and derive their strength from the condition of men’s souls and of whole communities, and not merely from the personal ambitions and interests which soon come and mingle with them, whether it be to promote or to retard them. One thing has been already here stated and confirmed by facts; it was specially in France that the Reformation had this truly religious and sincere character; very far from supporting or tolerating it, the sovereign and public authorities opposed it from its very birth; under Francis I. it had met with no real defenders but its martyrs; and it was still the same under Henry II. During the reign of Francis I., within a space of twenty-three years, there had been eighty-one capital executions for heresy; during that of Henry II., twelve years, there were ninety-seven for the same cause, and at one of these executions Henry II. was present in person, on the space in front of Notre-Dame: a spectacle which Francis I. had always refused to see. In 1551, 1557, and 1559, Henry II., by three royal edicts, kept up and added to all the prohibitions and penalties in force against the Reformers. In 1550, the massacre of the Vaudians was still in such lively and odious remembrance that a noble lady of Provence, Madame de Cental, did not hesitate to present a complaint, in the name of her despoiled, proscribed, and murdered vassals, against the Cardinal de Tournon, the Count de Grignan, and the Premier President Maynier d’Oppede, as having abused, for the purpose of getting authority for this massacre, the religious feelings of the king, who on his death-bed had testified his remorse for it. “This cause,” says De Thou, “was pleaded with much warmth, and occupied fifty audiences, with a large concourse of people, but the judgment took all the world by surprise. Guerin alone, advocate-general in 1545, having no support at court, was condemned to death, and was scape-goat for all the rest. D’Oppede defended himself with fanatical pride, saying that he only executed the king’s orders, like Saul, whom God commanded to exterminate the Amalekites. He had the Duke of Guise to protect him; and he was sent back to discharge the duties of his office. Such was the prejudice of the Parliament of Paris against the Reformers that it interdicted the hedge-schools (ecoles buissonnieres), schools which the Protestants held out in the country to escape from the jurisdiction of the precentor of Notre-Dame de Paris, who had the sole supervision of primary schools. Hence comes the proverb, to play truant (faire l’ecole buissonniere—to go to hedge school). All the resources of French civil jurisdiction appeared to be insufficient against the Reformers. Henry II. asked the pope for a bull, transplanting into France the Spanish Inquisition, the only real means of extirpating the root of the errors.” It was the characteristic of this Inquisition, that it was completely in the hands of the clergy, and that its arm was long enough to reach the lay and the clerical indifferently. Pope Paul IV. readily gave the king, in April, 1557, the bull he asked for, but the Parliament of Paris refused to enregister the royal edict which gave force in France to the pontifical brief. In 1559 the pope replied to this refusal by a bull which comprised in one and the same anathema all heretics, though they might be kings or emperors, and declared them to have “forfeited their benefices, states, kingdoms, or empires, the which should devolve on the first to seize them, without power on the part of the Holy See itself to restore them.” [Magnum Bullarium Romanum, a Beato Leone Magno ad Paulum IV., t. i. p. 841: Luxembourg, 1742.] The Parliament would not consent to enregister the decree unless there were put in it a condition to the effect that clerics alone should be liable to the inquisition, and that the judges should be taken from amongst the clergy of France. For all their passionate opposition to the Reformation, the Magistrates had no idea of allowing either the kingship or France to fall beneath the yoke of the papacy.

Amidst all these disagreements and distractions in the very heart of Catholicism, the Reformation went on growing from day to day. In 1558, Lorenzo, the Venetian ambassador, set down even then the number of the Reformers at four hundred thousand. In 1559, at the death of Henry II., Claude Haton, a priest and contemporary chronicler on the Catholic side, calculated that they were nearly a quarter of the population of France. They held at Paris, in May, 1559, their first general synod; and eleven fully established churches sent deputies to it. This synod drew up a form of faith called the Gallican Confession, and likewise a form of discipline. “The burgess-class, for a long while so indifferent to the burnings that took place, were astounded at last at the constancy with which the pile was mounted by all those men and all those women who had nothing to do but to recant in order to save their lives. Some could not persuade themselves that people so determined were not in the right; others were moved with compassion. ‘Their very hearts,’ say contemporaries, ‘wept together with their eyes.’” It needed only an opportunity to bring these feelings out. Some of the faithful one day in the month of May, 1558, on the public walk in the Pre-aux-Clercs, began to sing the psalms of Marot. Their singing had been forbidden by the Parliament of Bordeaux, but the practice of singing those psalms had but lately been so general that it could not be looked upon as peculiar to heretics. All who happened to be there, suddenly animated by one and the same feeling, joined in with the singers, as if to protest against the punishments which were being repeated day after day. This manifestation was renewed on the following days. The King of Navarre, Anthony de Bourbon, Prince Louis de Conde, his brother, and many lords took part in it together with a crowd, it is said, of five or six thousand persons. It was not in the Pre-aux-Clercs only and by singing that this new state of mind revealed itself amongst the highest classes as well as amongst the populace. The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, in her early youth, “was as fond of a ball as of a sermon,” says Brantome, “and she had advised her spouse, Anthony de Bourbon, who inclined towards Calvinism, not to perplex himself with all these opinions.” In 1559 she was passionately devoted to the faith and the cause of the Reformation. With more levity, but still in sincerity, her brother-in-law, Louis de Conde, put his ambition and his courage at the service of the same cause. Admiral de Coligny’s youngest brother, Francis d’Andelot, declared himself a Reformer to Henry II. himself, who, in his wrath, threw a plate at his head, and sent him to prison in the castle of Melun. Coligny himself, who had never disguised the favorable sentiments he felt towards the Reformers, openly sided with them on the ground of his own personal faith, as well as of the justice due to them. At last the Reformation had really great leaders, men who had power and were experienced in the affairs of the world; it was becoming a political party as well as a religious conviction; and the French Reformers were henceforth in a condition to make war as well as die at the stake for their faith. Hitherto they had been only believers and martyrs; they became the victors and the vanquished, alternately, in a civil war.

A new position for them, and as formidable as it was grand. It was destined to bring upon them cruel trials and the worth of them in important successes; first, the Saint-Bartholomew, then the accession of Henry IV. and the edict of Nantes. At a later period, under Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., the complication of the religious question and the political question cost them the advantages they had won; the edict of Nantes disappeared together with the power of the Protestants in the state. They were no longer anything but heretics and rebels. A day was to come, when, by the force alone of moral ideas, and in the name alone of conscience and justice, they would recover all the rights they had for a time possessed, and more also; but in the sixteenth century that day was still distant, and armed strife was for the Reformers their only means of defence and salvation. God makes no account of centuries, and a great deal is required before the most certain and the most salutary truths get their place and their rights in the minds and communities of men.

On the 29th of June, 1559, a brilliant tournament was celebrated in lists erected at the end of the street of Saint-Antoine, almost at the foot of the Bastille. Henry II., the queen, and the whole court had been present at it for three days. The entertainment was drawing to a close. The king, who had run several tilts “like a sturdy and skilful cavalier,” wished to break yet another lance, and bade the Count de Montgomery, captain of the guards, to run against him. Montgomery excused himself; but the king insisted. The tilt took place. The two jousters, on meeting, broke their lances skilfully; but Montgomery forgot to drop at once, according to usage, the fragment remaining in his hand; he unintentionally struck the king’s helmet and raised the visor, and a splinter of wood entered Henry’s eye, who fell forward upon his horse’s neck. All the appliances of art were useless; the brain had been injured. Henry II. languished for eleven days, and expired on the 10th of July, 1559, aged forty years and some months. An insignificant man, and a reign without splendor, though fraught with facts pregnant of grave consequences.

Joust Between Henri II. And Count de Montgomery——268






FRANCIS II., JULY 10, 1559—DECEMBER 5, 1560.

During the course, and especially at the close of Henry II.‘s reign, two rival matters, on the one hand the numbers, the quality, and the zeal of the Reformers, and on the other, the anxiety, prejudice, and power of the Catholics, had been simultaneously advancing in development and growth. Between the 16th of May, 1558, and the 10th of July, 1559, fifteen capital sentences had been executed in Dauphiny, in Normandy, in Poitou, and at Paris. Two royal edicts, one dated July 24, 1558, and the other June 14, 1559, had renewed and aggravated the severity of penal legislation against heretics. To secure the registration of the latter, Henry II., together with the princes and the officers of the crown, had repaired in person to Parliament; some disagreement had already appeared in the midst of that great body, which was then composed of a hundred and thirty magistrates; the seniors who sat in the great chamber had in general shown themselves to be more inclined to severity, and the juniors who formed the chamber called La Tournelle more inclined to indulgence towards accusations of heresy. The disagreement reached its climax in the very presence of the king. Two councillors, Dubourg and Dufaure, spoke so warmly of reforms which were, according to them, necessary and legitimate, that their adversaries did not hesitate to tax them with being Reformers themselves. The king had them arrested, and three of their colleagues with them. Special commissioners were charged with the preparation of the case against them. It has already been mentioned that one of the most considerable amongst the officers of the army, Francis d’Andelot, brother of Admiral Coligny, had, for the same cause, been subjected to a burst of anger on the part of the king. He was in prison at Meaux when Henry II. died. Such were the personal feelings and the relative positions of the two parties when Francis II., a boy of sixteen, a poor creature both in mind and body, ascended the throne.

Francis II.——270a

Deputies from Parliament went, according to custom, to offer their felicitations to the new king, and to ask him “to whom it was his pleasure that they should, thenceforward, apply for to learn his will and receive his commands.” Francis II. replied, “With the approbation of the queen my mother, I have chosen the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, my uncles, to have the direction of the state; the former will take charge of the department of war, the latter the administration of finance and justice.” Such had, in fact, been his choice, and it was no doubt with his mother’s approbation that he had made it. Equally attentive to observe the proprieties and to secure her own power, Catherine de’ Medici, when going out to drive with her son and her daughter-in-law Mary Stuart, on the very day of Henry II.‘s death, said to Mary, “Step in, madame; it is now your turn to go first.”

Mary Stuart——270

During the first days of mourning she kept herself in a room entirely hung with black; and there was no light beyond two wax-candles burning on an altar covered with black cloth. She had upon her head a black veil, which shrouded her entirely, and hid her face; and, when any one of the household went to speak to her, she replied in so agitated and so weak a tone of voice that it was impossible to catch her words, whatever attention might be paid to them. But her presence of mind and her energy, so far as the government was concerned, were by no means affected by it; he who had been the principal personage at the court under Henry II., the Constable de Montmorency, perfectly understood, at his first interview with the queen-mother, that he was dismissed, and all he asked of her was, that he might go and enjoy his repose in freedom at his residence of Chantilly, begging her at the same time to take under her protection the heirs of his house. Henry II.‘s favorite, Diana de Poitiers, was dismissed more harshly. “The king sent to tell Madame de Valentinois,” writes the Venetian ambassador, “that for her evil influence (mali officii) over the king his father she would deserve heavy chastisement; but, in his royal clemency, he did not wish to disquiet her any further; she must, nevertheless, restore to him all the jewels given her by the king his father.” “To bend Catherine de’ Medici, Diana was also obliged,” says De Thou, “to give up her beautiful house at Chenonceaux on the Cher, and she received in exchange the castle of Chaumont on the Loire.” The Guises obtained all the favors of the court at the same time that they were invested with all the powers of the state.

In order to give a good notion of Duke Francis of Guise and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, the two heads of the house, we will borrow the very words of those two men of their age who had the best means of seeing them close and judging them correctly, the French historian De Thou and the Venetian ambassador John Micheli. “The Cardinal of Lorraine,” says De Thou, “was of an impetuous and violent character; the Duke of Guise, on the contrary, was of a gentle and moderate disposition. But as ambition soon overleaps the confines of restraint and equity, he was carried away by the violent counsels of the cardinal, or else surrendered himself to them of his own accord, executing with admirable prudence and address the plans which were always chalked out by his brother.” The Venetian ambassador enters into more precise and full details. “The cardinal,” he says, “who is the leading man of the house, would be, by common consent, if it were not for the defects of which I shall speak, the greatest political power in this kingdom. He has not yet completed his thirty-seventh year; he is endowed with a marvellous intellect, which apprehends from half a word the meaning of those who converse with him; he has an astonishing memory, a fine and noble face, and a rare eloquence which shows itself freely on any subject, but especially in matters of politics. He is very well versed in letters: he knows Greek, Latin, and Italian. He is very strong in the sciences, chiefly in theology. The externals of his life are very proper and very suitable to his dignity, which could not be said of the other cardinals and prelates, whose habits are too scandalously irregular. But his great defect is shameful cupidity, which would employ, to attain its ends, even criminal means, and likewise great duplicity, whence comes his habit of scarcely ever saying that which is. There is worse behind. He is considered to be very ready to take offence, vindictive, envious, and far too slow in benefaction. He excited universal hatred by hurting all the world as long as it was in his power to. As for Mgr. de Guise, who is the eldest of the six brothers, he cannot be spoken of save as a man of war, a good officer. None in this realm has delivered more battles and confronted more dangers. Everybody lauds his courage, his vigilance, his steadiness in war, and his coolness, a quality wonderfully rare in a Frenchman. His peculiar defects are, first of all, stinginess towards soldiers; then he makes large promises, and even when he means to keep his promise he is infinitely slow about it.”

To the sketch of the Cardinal of Lorraine Brantome adds that he was, “as indeed he said, a coward by nature.” a strange defect in a Guise.

It was a great deal, towards securing the supremacy of a great family and its leading members, to thus possess the favor of the court and the functions of government; but the power of the Guises had a still higher origin and a still deeper foundation. “It was then,” said Michael de Castelnau, one of the most intelligent and most impartial amongst the chroniclers of the sixteenth century, “that schism and divisions in religious matters began to be mixed up with affairs of state. Well, all the clergy of France, and nearly all the noblesse and the people who belonged to the Roman religion, considered that the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duke of Guise were, as it were, called of God to preserve the Catholic religion established in France for the last twelve hundred years. And it seemed to them not only an act of impiety to change or alter it in any way whatever, but also an impossibility to do so without ruin to the state. The late king, Henry, had made a decree in the month of June, 1559, being then at Ecouen, by which the judges were bound to sentence all Lutherans to death, and which was published and confirmed by all the Parliaments, without any limitation or modification whatever, and with a warning to the judges not to mitigate the penalty, as they had done for some years previously. Different judgments were pronounced upon the decree: those who took the most political and most zealous view of religion considered that it was necessary, as well to preserve and maintain the Catholic religion as to keep down the seditious, who, under the cloak of religion, were doing all they could to upset the political condition of the kingdom. Others, who cared nothing for religion, or for the state, or for order in the body politic, also thought the decree necessary, not at all for the purpose of exterminating the Protestants, —for they held that it would tend to multiply them,—but because it would offer a means of enriching themselves by the confiscations ensuing upon condemnation, and because the king would thus be able to pay off forty-two millions of livres which he owed, and have money in hand, and, besides that, satisfy those who were demanding recompense for the services they had rendered the crown, wherein many placed their hopes.” [Memoires de Michael de Castelnau, in the Petitot collection, Series I., t. xxxiii. pp. 24-27.]

The Guises were, in the sixteenth century, the representatives and the champions of these different cliques and interests, religious or political, sincere in their belief or shameless in their avidity, and all united under the flag of the Catholic church. And so, when they came into power, “there was nothing,” says a Protestant chronicler, “but fear and trembling at their name.” Their acts of government soon confirmed the fears as well as the hopes they had inspired. During the last six months of 1559 the edict issued by Henry II. from Ecouen was not only strictly enforced, but aggravated by fresh edicts; a special chamber was appointed and chosen amongst the Parliament of Paris, which was to have sole cognizance of crimes and offences against the Catholic religion. A proclamation of the new king, Francis II., ordained that houses in which assemblies of Reformers took place should be razed and demolished. It was death to the promoters of “unlawful assemblies for purposes of religion or for any other cause.” Another royal act provided that all persons, even relatives, who received amongst them any one condemned for heresy should seize him and bring him to justice, in default whereof they would suffer the same penalty as he. Individual condemnations and executions abounded after these general measures; between the 2d of August and the 31st of December, 1559, eighteen persons were burned alive for open heresy, or for having refused to communicate according to the rites of the Catholic church, or go to mass, or for having hawked about forbidden books. Finally, in December, the five councillors of the Parliament of Paris, whom, six months previously, Henry II. had ordered to be arrested and shut up in the Bastille, were dragged from prison and brought to trial. The chief of them, Anne Dubourg, nephew of Anthony Dubourg, Chancellor of France under Francis I., defended himself with pious and patriotic persistency, being determined to exhaust all points of law and all the chances of justice he could hope for without betraying his faith. Everything shows that he had nothing to hope for from his judges; one of them, the President Minard, as he was returning from the palace on the evening of December 12, 1559, was killed by a pistol-shot; the assassin could not be discovered; but the crime, naturally ascribed to some friend of Dubourg, served only to make certain and to hasten the death of the prisoner on trial. Dubourg was condemned on the 22d of December, and heard unmoved the reading of his sentence. “I forgive my judges,” said he; “they have judged according to their own lights, not according to the light that comes from on high. Put out your fires, ye senators; be converted, and live happily. Think without ceasing of God and on God.” After these words, which were taken down by the clerk of the court, “and which I have here copied,” says De Thou, Dubourg was taken on the 23d of December, in a tumbrel to the Place de Greve. As he mounted the ladder he was heard repeating several times, “Forsake me not, my God, for fear lest I forsake thee.” He was strangled before he was cast into the flames (De Thou, t. iii. pp. 399-402), the sole favor his friends could obtain for him.

But extreme severity on the part of the powers that be is effectual only when it falls upon a country or upon parties that are effete with age, or already vanquished and worn out by long struggles; when, on the contrary, it is brought to bear upon parties in the flush of youth, eager to proclaim and propagate themselves, so far from intimidating them, it animates them, and thrusts them into the arena into which they were of themselves quite eager to enter. As soon as the rule of the Catholic, in the persons and by the actions of the Guises, became sovereign and aggressive, the threatened Reformers put themselves into the attitude of defence. They too had got for themselves great leaders, some valiant and ardent, others prudent or even timid, but forced to declare themselves when the common cause was greatly imperilled. The house of Bourbon, issuing from St. Louis, had for its representatives in the sixteenth century Anthony de Bourbon, King of Navarre and husband of Jeanne d’Albret, and his brother Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conde. The King of Navarre, weak and irresolute though brave enough, wavered between Catholicism and the Reformation, inclining rather in his heart to the cause of the Reformation, to which the queen his wife, who at first showed indifference, had before long become Passionately attached. His brother, the Prince of Conde, young, fiery, and often flighty and rash, put himself openly at the head of the Reformed party. The house of Bourbon held itself to be the rival perforce of the house of Lorraine. It had amongst the high noblesse of France two allies, more fitted than any others for fighting and for command, Admiral de Coligny and his brother, Francis d’Andelot, both of them nephews of the Constable Anne de Montmorency, both of them already experienced and famous warriors, and both of them devoted, heart and soul, to the cause of the Reformation. Thus, at the accession of Francis II., whilst the Catholic party, by means of the Guises, and with the support of the majority of the country, took in hand the government of France, the reforming party ranged themselves round the King of Navarre, the Prince of Conde, and Admiral de Coligny, and became, under their direction, though in a minority, a powerful opposition, able and ready, on the one hand, to narrowly watch and criticise the actions of those who were in power, and on the other to claim for their own people, not by any means freedom as a general principle in the constitution of the state, but free manifestation of their faith, and free exercise of their own form of worship.

Apart from—we do not mean to say above-these two great parties, which were arrayed in the might and appeared as the representatives of the national ideas and feelings, the queen-mother, Catherine de’ Medici, was quietly laboring to form another, more independent of the public, and more docile to herself, and, above all, faithful to the crown and to the interests of the kingly house and its servants; a party strictly Catholic, but regarding as a necessity the task of humoring the Reformers and granting them such concessions as might prevent explosions fraught with peril to the state; a third party (tiers part), as we should say nowadays, politic and prudent, somewhat lavish of promises without being sure of the power to keep them, not much embarrassed at having to change attitude and language according to the shifting phases of the moment, and anxious above everything to maintain public peace and to put off questions which it could not solve pacifically. In the sixteenth century, as at every other time, worthy folks of moderate views and nervous temperaments, ambitious persons combining greed with suppleness, old servants of the crown, and officials full of scruples and far from bold in the practical part of government, were the essential elements of this party. The Constable de Montmorency sometimes issued forth from Chantilly to go and aid the queen-mother, in whom he had no confidence, but whom he preferred to the Guises. A former councillor of the Parliament, for a long while chancellor under Francis I. and Henry II., and again summoned, under Francis II., by Catherine de’ Medici to the same post, Francis Olivier, was an honorable executant of the party’s indecisive but moderate policy. He died on the 15th of March, 1560; and Catherine, in concert with the Cardinal of Lorraine, had the chancellorship thus vacated conferred upon Michael de l’Hospital, a magistrate already celebrated, and destined to become still more so. As soon as he entered upon this great office he made himself remarkable by the marvellous ability he showed in restraining within bounds “the Lorraines themselves, whose servant he was,” says the Protestant chronicler Regnier de la Planche; “to those who had the public weal at heart he gave hope that all would at last turn out well, provided that he were let alone; and, to tell the truth, it would be impossible to adequately describe the prudence he displayed; for, assuredly, although if he had taken a shorter road towards manfully opposing the mischief he would have deserved more praise, and God would perhaps have blessed his constancy, yet, so far as one can judge, he alone, by his moderate behavior, was the instrument made use of by God for keeping back many an impetuous flood under which every Frenchman would have been submerged. External appearances, however, seemed to the contrary. In short, when any one represented to him some trouble that was coming, he always had these words on his lips: ‘Patience, patience; all will go well.’” This philosophical and patriotic confidence on the part of Chancellor de l’Hospital was fated to receive some cruel falsifications.

A few months, and hardly so much, after the accession of Francis II., a serious matter brought into violent collision the three parties whose characteristics and dispositions have just been described. The supremacy of the Guises was insupportable to the Reformers, and irksome to many lukewarm or wavering members of the Catholic nobility. An edict of the king’s had revoked all the graces and alienations of domains granted by his father. The crown refused to pay its most lawful debts, and duns were flocking to the court. To get rid of them, the Cardinal of Lorraine had a proclamation issued by the king, warning all persons, of whatever condition, who had come to dun for payment of debts, for compensations, or for graces, to take themselves off within twenty-four hours on pain of being hanged; and, that it might appear how seriously meant the threat was, a very conspicuous gibbet was erected at Fontainebleau close to the palace. It was a shocking affront. The malcontents at once made up to the Reformers. Independently of the general oppression and perils under which these latter labored, they were liable to meet everywhere, at the corners of the streets, men posted on the lookout, who insulted them and denounced them to the magistrates if they did not uncover themselves before the madonnas set up in their way, or if they did not join in the litanies chanted before them. A repetition of petty requisitions soon becomes an odious tyranny. An understanding was established between very different sorts of malcontents; they all said and spread abroad that the Guises were the authors of these oppressive and unjustifiable acts. They made common cause in seeking for means of delivering themselves, at the same time drawing an open distinction between the Guises and the king, the latter of whom there was no idea of attacking. The inviolability of kings and the responsibility of ministers, those two fundamental maxims of a free monarchy, had already become fixed ideas; but how were they to be taken advantage of and put in practice when the institutions whereby political liberty exerts its powers and keeps itself secure were not in force? The malcontents, whether Reformers or Catholics, all cried out for the states-general. Those of Tours, in 1484, under Charles VIII., had left behind them a momentous and an honored memory. But the Guises and their partisans energetically rejected this cry. “They told the king that whoever spoke of convoking the states-general was his personal enemy and guilty of high treason; for his people would fain impose law upon him from whom they ought to take it, in such sort that there would be left to him nothing of a king but the bare title. The queen-mother, though all the while giving fair words to the malcontents, whether Reformers or others, was also disquieted at their demands, and she wrote to her son-in-law, Philip II., King of Spain, ‘that they wanted, by means of the said states, to reduce her to the condition of a maid-of-all-work.’ Whereupon Philip replied ‘that he would willingly employ all his forces to uphold the authority of the king his brother-in-law and of his ministers, and that he had forty thousand men all ready in case anybody should be bold enough to attempt to violate it.’”

In their perplexity, the malcontents, amongst whom the Reformers were becoming day by day the most numerous and the most urgent, determined to take the advice of the greatest lawyers and most celebrated theologians of France and Germany. They asked whether it would be permissible, with a good conscience and without falling into the crime of high treason, to take up arms for the purpose of securing the persons of the Duke of Guise and the Cardinal of Lorraine, and forcing them to render an account of their administration. The doctors, on being consulted, answered that it would be allowable to oppose by force the far from legitimate supremacy of the Guises, provided that it were done under the authority of princes of the blood, born administrators of the realm in such cases, and with the consent of the orders composing the state, or the greatest and soundest portion of those orders. A meeting of the princes who were hostile to the Guises were held at Vendome to deliberate as to the conduct to be adopted in this condition of opinions and parties; the King of Navarre and his brother the Prince of Conde, Coligny, D’Andelot, and some of their most intimate friends took part in it; and D’Ardres, confidential secretary to the Constable de Montmorency, was present. The Prince of Conde was for taking up arms at once and swoop down upon the Guises, taking them by surprise. Coligny formally opposed this plan; the king, at his majority, had a right, he said, to choose his own advisers; no doubt it was a deplorable thing to see foreigners at the head of affairs, but the country must not, for the sake of removing them, be rashly exposed to the scourge of civil war; perhaps it would be enough if the queen-mother were made acquainted with the general discontent. The constable’s secretary coincided with Coligny, whose opinion was carried. It was agreed that the Prince of Conde should restrain his ardor, and let himself be vaguely regarded as the possible leader of the enterprise if it were to take place, but without giving it, until further notice, his name and co-operation. He was called the mute captain.

There was need of a less conspicuous and more pronounced leader for that which was becoming a conspiracy. And one soon presented himself in the person of Godfrey de Barri, Lord of La Renaudie, a nobleman of an ancient family of Perigord, well known to Duke Francis of Guise, under whose orders he had served valiantly at Metz in 1552, and who had for some time protected him against the consequences of a troublesome trial, at which La Renaudie had been found guilty by the Parliament of Paris of forging and uttering false titles. Being forced to leave France, he retired into Switzerland, to Lausanne and Geneva, where it was not long before he showed the most passionate devotion for the Reformation. “He was a man,” says De Thou, “of quick and insinuating wits, ready to undertake anything, and burning with desire to avenge himself, and wipe out, by some brilliant deed, the infamy of a sentence which he had incurred rather through another’s than his own crime. He, then, readily offered his services to those who were looking out for a second leader, and he undertook to scour the kingdom in order to win over the men whose names had been given him. He got from them all a promise to meet him at Nantes in February, 1560, and he there made them a long and able speech against the Guises, ending by saying, ‘God bids us to obey kings even when they ordain unjust things, and there is no doubt but that they who resist the powers that God has set up do resist His will. We have this advantage, that we, ever full of submission to the prince, are set against none but traitors hostile to their king and their country, and so much the more dangerous in that they nestle in the very bosom of the state, and, in the name and clothed with the authority of a king who is a mere child, are attacking the kingdom and the king himself. Now, in order that you may not suppose that you will be acting herein against your consciences, I am quite willing to be the first to protest and take God to witness that I will not think, or say, or do anything against the king, against the queen his mother, against the princes his brothers, or against those of his blood; and that, on the contrary, I will defend their majesty and their dignity, and, at the same time, the authority of the laws and the liberty of the country against the tyranny of a few foreigners.’” [De Thou, t. iii. pp. 467-480.]

“Out of so large an assemblage,” adds the historian, “there was not found to be one whom so delicate an enterprise caused to recoil, or who asked for time to deliberate. It was agreed that, before anything else, a large number of persons, without arms and free from suspicion, should repair to court and there present a petition to the king, beseeching him not to put pressure upon consciences any more, and to permit the free exercise of religion; that at almost the same time a chosen body of horsemen should repair to Blois, where the king was, that their accomplices should admit them into the town and present a new petition to the king against the Guises, and that, if these princes would not withdraw and give an account of their administration, they should be attacked sword in hand; and, lastly, that the Prince of Conde, who had wished his name to be kept secret up to that time, should put himself at the head of the conspirators. The 15th of June was the day fixed for the execution of it all.”

But the Guises were warned; one of La Renaudie’s friends had revealed the conspiracy to the Cardinal of Lorraine’s secretary; and from Spain, Germany, and Italy they received information as to the conspiracy hatched against them. The cardinal, impetuous and pusillanimous too, was for calling out the troops at once; but his brother the duke, “who was not easily startled,” was opposed to anything demonstrative. They removed the king to the castle of Amboise, a safer place than the town of Blois; and they concerted measures with the queen-mother, to whom the conspirators were, both in their plans and their persons, almost as objectionable as to them. She wrote, in a style of affectionate confidence, to Coligny, begging him to come to Amboise and give her his advice. He arrived in company with his brother D’Andelot, and urged the queen-mother to grant the Reformers liberty of conscience and of worship, the only way to checkmate all the mischievous designs and to restore peace to the kingdom. Something of what he advised was done: a royal decree was published and carried up to the Parliament on the 15th of March, ordaining the abolition of every prosecution on account of religion, in respect of the past only, and under reservations which rendered the grace almost inappreciable. The Guises, on their side, wrote to the Constable de Montmorency to inform him of the conspiracy, “of which you will feel as great horror as we do,” and they signed, Your thoroughly best friends. The Prince of Conde himself, though informed about the discovery of the plot, repaired to Amboise without showing any signs of being disconcerted at the cold reception offered him by the Lorraine princes. The Duke of Guise, always bold, even in his precautions, “found an honorable means of making sure of him,” says Castelnau, “by giving him the guard at a gate of the town of Amboise,” where he had him under watch and ward himself. The lords and gentlemen attached to the court made sallies all around Amboise to prevent any unexpected attack. “They caught a great many troops badly led and badly equipped. Many poor folks, in utter despair and without a leader, asked pardon as they threw down upon the ground some wretched arms they bore, and declared that they knew no more about the enterprise than that there had been a time appointed them to see a petition presented to the king which concerned the welfare of his service and that of the kingdom.” [Memoires de Castelnau, pp. 49, 50.] On the 18th of March, La Renaudie, who was scouring the country, seeking to rally his men, encountered a body of royal horse who were equally hotly in quest of the conspirators; the two detachments attacked one another furiously; La Renaudie was killed, and his body, which was carried to Amboise, was strung up to a gallows on the bridge over the Loire with this scroll: “This is La Renaudie, called La Forest, captain of the rebels, leader and author of the sedition.” Disorder continued for several days in the surrounding country; but the surprise attempted against the Guises was a failure, and the important result of the riot of Amboise (tumulte d’Amboise), as it was called, was an ordinance of Francis II., who, on the 17th of March, 1560, appointed Duke Francis of Guise “his lieutenant-general, representing him in person absent and present in this good town of Amboise and other places of the realm, with full power, authority, commission, and special mandate to assemble all the princes, lords, and gentlemen, and generally to command, order, provide, and dispose of all things requisite and necessary.”

Death of La Renaudie——283

The young king was, nevertheless, according to what appears, somewhat troubled at all this uproar and at the language of the conspirators. “I don’t know how it is,” said he sometimes to the Guises, “but I hear it said that people are against you only. I wish you could be away from here for a time, that we might see whether it is you or I that they are against.” But the Guises set about removing this idea by telling the king that neither he nor his brothers would live one hour after their departure, and “that the house of Bourbon were only seeking how to exterminate the king’s house.” The caresses of the young queen Mary Stuart were enlisted in support of these assertions of her uncles. They made a cruel use of their easy victory “for a whole month,” according to contemporary chronicles, “there was nothing but hanging or drowning folks. The Loire was covered with corpses strung, six, eight, ten, and fifteen, to long poles. . . .” “What was strange to see,” says Regnier de la Planche, “and had never been wont under any form of government, they were led out to execution without having any sentence pronounced against them publicly, or having the cause of their death declared, or having their names mentioned. They of the Guises reserved the chief of them, after dinner, to make sport for the ladies; the two sexes were ranged at the windows of the castle, as if it were a question of seeing some mummery played. And what is worse, the king and his young brothers were present at these spectacles, as if the desire were to ‘blood’ them; the sufferers were pointed out to them by the Cardinal of Lorraine with all the signs of a man greatly rejoiced, and when the poor wretches died with more than usual firmness, he would say, ‘See, sir, what brazenness and madness; the fear of death cannot abate their pride and felonry. What would they do, then, if they had you in their clutches?’”

It was too much vengeance to take and too much punishment to inflict for a danger so short-lived and so strictly personal. So hideous was the spectacle that the Duchess of Guise, Anne d’Este, daughter of Renee of France, Duchess of Ferrara, took her departure one day, saying, as she did so, to Catherine de’ Medici, “Ah! madame, what a whirlwind of hatred is gathering about the heads of my poor children!” There was, throughout a considerable portion of the country, a profound feeling of indignation against the Guises. One of their victims, Villemongey, just as it came to his turn to die, plunged his hands into his comrades’ blood, saying, “Heavenly Father, this is the blood of Thy children: Thou wilt avenge it!” John d’Aubigne, a nobleman of Saintonge, as he passed through Amboise one market-day with his son, a little boy eight years old, stopped before the heads fixed upon the posts, and said to the child, “My boy, spare not thy head, after mine, to avenge these brave chiefs; if thou spare thyself, thou shalt have my curse upon thee.” The Chancellor Olivier himself, for a long while devoted to the Guises, but now seriously ill and disquieted about the future of his soul, said to himself, quite low, as he saw the Cardinal of Lorraine, from whom he had just received a visit, going out, “Ah! cardinal, you are getting us all damned!”

Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condo——285

The mysterious chieftain, the mute captain of the conspiracy of Amboise, Prince Louis of Conde, remained unattainted, and he remained at Amboise itself. People were astounded at his security. He had orders not to move away; his papers were seized by the grand prelate; but his coolness and his pride did not desert him for an instant. We will borrow from the Histoire des Princes de Conde (t. i. pp. 68-71), by the Duke of Aumale, the present heir, and a worthy one, of that line, the account of his appearance before Francis II., “in full council, in presence of the two queens, the knights of the order, and the great officers of the crown. ‘As I am certified,’ said he, ‘that I have near the king’s person enemies who are seeking the ruin of me and mine, I have begged him to do me so much favor as to hear my answer in this company here present. Now, I declare that, save his own person and the persons of his brothers, of the queen his mother and of the queen regnant, those who have reported that I was chief and leader of certain sedition-mongers, who are said to have conspired against his person and state, have falsely and miserably lied. And renouncing, for the nonce, my quality as prince of the blood, which I hold, however, of God alone, I am ready to make them confess, at the sword’s point, that they are cowards and rascals, themselves seeking the subversion of the state and the crown, whereof I am bound to promote the maintenance by a better title than my accusers. If there be, amongst those present, any one who has made such a report and will maintain it, let him declare as much this moment.’ The Duke of Guise, rising to his feet, protested that he could not bear to have so great a prince any longer calumniated, and offered to be his second. Conde, profiting by the effect produced by his proud language, demanded and obtained leave to retire from the court, which he quitted at once.”

All seemed to be over; but the whole of France had been strongly moved by what had just taken place; and, though the institutions which invite a people to interfere in its own destinies were not at the date of the sixteenth century in regular and effective working order, there was everywhere felt, even at court, the necessity of ascertaining the feeling of the country. On all sides there was a demand for the convocation of the states-general. The Guises and the queen-mother, who dreaded this great and independent national power, attempted to satisfy public opinion by calling an assembly of notables, not at all numerous, and chosen by themselves. It was summoned to meet on August 21, 1560, at Fontainebleau, in the apartments of the queen-mother. Some great lords, certain bishops, the Constable de Montmorency, two marshals of France, the privy councillors, the knights of the order, the secretaries of state and finance, Chancellor de l’Hospital and Coligny, took part in it; the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde did not respond to the summons they received; the constable rode up with a following of six hundred horse. The first day was fully taken up by a statement, presented to the assembly by L’Hospital, of the evils that had fallen upon France, and by a declaration on the part of the Guises that they were ready to render an account of their administration and of their actions. Next day, just as the Bishop of Valence was about to speak, Coligny went up to the king, made two genuflections, stigmatized in energetic terms the Amboise conspiracy and every similar enterprise, and presented two petitions, one intended for the king himself and the other for the queen-mother. “They were forwarded to me in Normandy,” said he, “by faithful Christians, who make their prayers to God in accordance with the true rules of piety. They ask for nothing but the liberty of holding their own creed, and that of having temples and celebrating their worship in certain fixed places. If necessary, this petition would be signed by fifty thousand persons.” “And I,” said the Duke of Guise brusquely, “would find a million to sign a contrary petition.” This incident went no further between the two speakers. A great discussion began as to the reforms desirable in the church, and as to the convocation of a general council, or, in default thereof, a national council. The Cardinal of Lorraine spoke last, and vehemently attacked the petitions presented by Admiral de Coligny. “Though couched in moderate and respectful terms,” said he, “this document is, at bottom, insolent and seditious; it is as much as to say that those gentry would be obedient and submissive if the king would be pleased to authorize their mischievous sentiments. For the rest,” he added, “as it is merely a question of improving morals and putting in force strict discipline, the meeting of a council, whether general or national, appears to me quite unnecessary. I consent to the holding of the states-general.”

The opinion of the Cardinal of Lorraine was adopted by the king, the queen-mother, and the assemblage. An edict dated August 26 convoked a meeting of the states-general at Meaux on the 10th of December following. As to the question of a council, general or national, it was referred to the decision of the pope and the bishops of France. Meanwhile, it was announced that the punishment of sectaries would, for the present, be suspended, but that the king reserved to himself and his judges the right of severely chastising those who had armed the populace and kindled sedition. “Thus it was,” adds De Thou, “that the Protestant religion, hitherto so hated, began to be tolerated, and in a manner authorized, by consent of its enemies themselves.” [Histoire Universelle, t. iii. p. 535.]

The elections to the states-general were very stormy; all parties displayed the same ardor; the Guises by identifying themselves more and more with the Catholic cause, and employing, to further its triumph, all the resources of the government; the Reformers by appealing to the rights of liberty and to the passions bred of sect and of local independence. A royal decree was addressed to all the bailiffs of the kingdom. “Ye shall not fail,” said the king to them, “to keep your eyes open, and give orders that such mischievous spirits as may be composed of the remnants of the Amboise rebellion or other gentry, studious of innovation and alteration in the state, be so discovered and restrained that they be not able to corrupt by their machinations, under whatsoever pretexts they may hide them, simple folks led on by confidence in the clemency whereof we have heretofore made use.” The bailiffs followed, for the most part successfully, but in some cases vainly, the instructions they had received. One morning in December, 1560, the Duke of Guise was visited by a courier from the Count de Villars, governor of Languedoc; he informed the duke that the deputies of that province had just been appointed, and that they all belonged to the new religion, and were amongst the most devoted to the sect; there was not a moment to lose, “for they were men of wits, great reputation, and circumspection. The governor was very vexed at not having been able to prevent their election and departure; but plurality of votes had carried the day against him.” This despatch was “no sooner received than some men were got ready to go and meet those deputies, in order to put them in a place where they would never have been able to do good or harm.” The deputies of Languedoc escaped this ambuscade, and arrived safe and sound at Orleans; but they “were kept under strict watch, and their papers were confiscated up to the moment when the death of the king occurred to deliver them from all fear.” [Histoire des Etats generaux, by G. Picot, t. ii. pp. 25-29.] In Provence, in Dauphiny, in the countship of Avignon, at Lyons, on occasion and in the midst of the electoral struggle, several local risings, seizures of arms, and surprisals of towns took place and disturbed the public peace. There was not yet religious civil war, but there were the preparatory note and symptoms of it.

At the same time that they were thus laboring to keep out of the approaching states-general adversaries of obscure rank and belonging to the people, the Guises had very much at heart a desire that the great leaders of the Reformers and of the Catholic malcontents, especially the two princes of the house of Bourbon, the King of Navarre and the Prince of Conde, should come to this assembly, and there find themselves under the thumb of their enemies. They had not gone to the assemblage of notables at Fontainebleau, and their hostility to the Guises had been openly shown during and since that absence. Nothing was left untried to attract them, not to Meaux any longer, but to Orleans, whither the meeting of the states-general had been transferred. King Francis II., a docile instrument in the hands of his uncles and his young queen their niece, wrote letter after letter to the King of Navarre, urging him to bring with him his brother the Prince of Conde to clear himself of the accusations brought against him “by these miserable heretics, who made marvellous charges against him. . . . Conde would easily prove the falsity of the assertions made by these rascals.” The King of Navarre still hesitated; the king insisted haughtily. “I should be sorry,” he wrote on the 30th of August, 1560, “that into the heart of a person of such good family, and one that touches me so nearly, so miserable an inclination should have entered; being able to assure you that whereinsoever he refuses to obey me I shall know perfectly well how to make it felt that I am king.” The Prince of Conde’s mother-in-law, the Countess of Roye, wrote to the queen-mother that the prince would appear at court if the king commanded it; but she begged her beforehand not to think it strange if, on going to a place where his most cruel enemies had every power, he went attended by his friends. Whether she really were, or only pretended to be, shocked at what looked like a threat, Catherine replied that no person in France had a right to approach the king in any other wise than with his ordinary following, and that, if the Prince of Conde went to court with a numerous escort, he would find the king still better attended. At last the King of Navarre and his brother made up their minds. How could they elude formal orders? Armed resistance had become the only possible resource, and the Prince of Conde lacked means to maintain it; his scarcity of money was such that, in order to procure him a thousand gold crowns, his mother-in-law had been obliged to pledge her castle of Germany to the Constable de Montmorency. In spite of fears and remonstrances on the part of their most sincere friends, the two chiefs of the house of Bourbon left their homes and set out for Orleans. On their arrival before Poitiers, great was their surprise: the governor, Montpezat, shut the gates against them as public enemies. They were on the point of abruptly retracing their steps; but Montpezat had ill understood his instructions; he ought to have kept an eye upon the Bourbons without displaying any bad disposition towards them, so long as they prosecuted their journey peacefully; the object was, on the contrary, to heap upon them marks of respect, and neglect nothing to give them confidence. Marshal de Termes, despatched in hot haste, went to open the gates of Poitiers to the princes, and receive them there with the honors due to them. They resumed their route, and arrived on the 30th of October at Orleans.

The reception they there met with cannot be better described than it has been by the Duke of Aumale: “Not one of the crown’s officers came to receive the princes; no honor was paid them; the streets were deserted, silent, and occupied by a military guard. In conformity with usage, the King of Navarre presented himself on horseback at the great gate of the royal abode; it remained closed. He had to pocket the insult, and pass on foot through the wicket, between a double row of gentlemen wearing an air of insolence. The king awaited the princes in his chamber; behind him were ranged the Guises and the principal lords; not a word, not a salutation on their part. After this freezing reception, Francis II. conducted the two brothers to his mother, who received them, according to Regnier de la Planche’s expression, ‘with crocodile’s tears.’ The Guises did not follow them thither, in order to escape any personal dispute, and so as not to be hearers of the severe words which they had themselves dictated to the young monarch. The king questioned Conde sharply; but the latter, ‘who was endowed with great courage, and spoke as well as ever any prince or gentleman in the world, was not at all startled, and defended his cause with many good and strong reasons,’ protesting his own innocence and accusing the Guises of calumniation. When he haughtily alluded to the word of honor which had been given him, the king, interrupting him, made a sign; and the two captains of the guard, Breze and Chavigny, entered and took the prince’s sword. He was conducted to a house in the city, near the Jacobins’, which was immediately barred, crenelated, surrounded by soldiers, and converted into a veritable bastile. Whilst they were removing him thither, Conde exclaimed loudly against this brazen violation of all the promises of safety by which he had been lured on when urged to go to Orleans. The only answer he received was his committal to absolutely solitary confinement and the withdrawal of his servants. The King of Navarre vainly asked to have his brother’s custody confided to him; he obtained nothing but a coarse refusal; and he himself, separated from his escort, was kept under ocular supervision in his apartment.”

The trial of the Prince of Conde commenced immediately. He was brought before the privy council. He claimed, as a prince of the blood and knight of the order of St. Michael, his right to be tried only by the court of Parliament furnished with the proper complement of peers and knights of the order. This latter safeguard was worth nothing in his case, for there had been created, just lately, eighteen new knights, all friends and creatures of the Guises. His claim, however, was rejected; and he repeated it, at the same time refusing to reply to any interrogation, and appealing “from the king ill advised to the king better advised.” A priest was sent to celebrate mass in his chamber: but “I came,” said he, “to clear myself from the calumnies alleged against me, which is of more consequence to me than hearing mass.” He did not attempt to conceal his antipathy towards the Guises, and the part he had taken in the hostilities directed against them. An officer, to whom permission had been given to converse with him in presence of his custodians, told him “that an appointment (accommodation) with the Duke of Guise would not be an impossibility for him.” “Appointment between him and me!” answered Conde: “it can only be at the point of the lance.” The Duchess Renee of Ferrara, daughter of Louis XII., having come to France at this time, went to Orleans to pay her respects to the king. The Duke of Guise was her son-in-law, and she reproached him bitterly with Conde’s trial. “You have just opened,” said she, “a wound which will bleed a long while; they who have dared to attack persons of the blood royal have always found it a bad job.” The prince asked to see, in the presence of such persons as the king might appoint, his wife, Eleanor of Roye, who, from the commencement of the trial, “solicited this favor night and day, often throwing herself on her knees before the king with tears incredible; but the Cardinal of Lorraine, fearing lest his Majesty should be moved with compassion, drove away the princess most rudely, saying that, if she had her due, she would herself be placed in the lowest dungeon.” For them of Guise the princess was a thorn in the flesh, for she lacked not wits, or language, or courage, insomuch that they had some discussion about making away with her. [Memoires de Castelnau, p. 119; Histoire de l’Etat de France, Cant de la Republique que de la Religion, sous Francois II., by L. Regnier, Sieur de la Planche.] She demanded that at any rate able lawyers might act as counsel for her husband. Peter Robert and Francis de Marillac, advocates of renown in the Parliament of Paris, were appointed by the king for that purpose, but their assistance proved perfectly useless; on the 26th of November, 1560, the Prince of Conde was sentenced to death; and the sentence was to be carried out on the 10th of December, the very day of the opening of the states-general. Most of the historians say that, when it came to the question of signing it, three judges only, Chancellor de l’Hospital, the councillor of state, Duportail, and the aged Count of Sancerre, Louis de Bueil, refused to put their names to it. “For my part,” says the scrupulous De Thou, “I can see nothing quite certain as to all that. I believe that the sentence of death was drawn up and not signed. I remember to have heard it so said a long while afterwards by my father, a truthful and straightforward man, to whom this form of sentence had always been distasteful.”

Many contemporaries report, and De Thou accords credence to the report, that, in order to have nothing more to fear from the house of Bourbon, the Guises had resolved to make away with King Anthony of Navarre as well as his brother the Prince of Conde, but by another process. Feeling persuaded that it would be impossible to obtain against the elder brother a sentence ever so little in accordance with justice, for his conduct had been very reserved, they had, it is said, agreed that King Francis II. should send for the King of Navarre into his closet and reproach him severely for his secret complicity with his brother Conde, and that if the King of Navarre defended himself stubbornly, he should be put to death on the spot by men posted there for the purpose. It is even added that Francis II. was to strike the first blow. Catherine de’ Medici, who was beginning to be disquieted at the arrogance and successes of the Lorraine princes, sent warning of this peril to the King of Navarre by Jacqueline de Longwy, Duchess of Montpensier; and, just as he was proceeding to the royal audience from which he was not sure to return, Anthony de Bourbon, who was wanting in head rather than in heart, said to Renty, one of his gentlemen, “If I die yonder, carry my blood-stained shirt to my wife and my son, and tell my wife to send it round to the foreign princes of Christendom, that they may avenge my death, as my son is not yet of sufficient age.” We may remark that the wife was Jeanne d’Albret, and the son was to be Henry IV. According to the chroniclers, when Francis II. looked in the eyes of the man he was to strike, his fierce resolve died away: the King of Navarre retired, safe and sound, from the interview, and the Duke of Guise, irritated at the weakness of the king his master, muttered between his teeth, “‘Tis the very whitest liver that ever was.”

In spite of De Thou’s indorsement of this story, it is doubtful whether its authenticity can be admitted; if the interview between the two kings took place, prudence on the part of the King of Navarre seems to be quite as likely an explanation of the result as hesitation to become a murderer on the part of Francis II.

One day Conde was playing cards with some officers on guard over him, when a servant of his who had been permitted to resume attendance on his master, pretending to approach him for the purpose of picking up a card, whispered in his ear, “Our gentleman is croqued.” The prince, mastering his emotion, finished his game. He then found means of being for a moment alone with his servant, and learned from him that Francis II. was dead. [Histoire des Princes de Conde, by the Duke d’Aumale, t. i. p. 94.] On the 17th of November, 1560, as he was mounting his horse to go hunting, he fainted suddenly. He appeared to have recovered, and was even able to be present when the final sentence was pronounced against Conde; but on the 29th of November there was a fresh fainting-fit. It appears that Ambrose Pare, at that time the first surgeon of his day, and a faithful Reformer, informed his patron, Admiral Coligny, that there would not be long to wait, and that it was all over with the king. Up to the very last moment, either by themselves or through their niece Mary Stuart, the Guises preserved their influence over him: Francis II. sent for the King of Navarre, to assure him that it was quite of his own accord, and not by advice of the Guises, that he had brought Conde to trial. He died on the 5th of December, 1560, of an effusion on the brain, resulting from a fistula and an abscess in the ear.

Mary Stuart——284

Through a fog of brief or doubtful evidence we can see at the bedside of this dying king his wife Mary Stuart, who gave him to the last her tender ministrations, and Admiral de Coligny, who, when the king had heaved his last sigh, rose up, and, with his air of pious gravity, said aloud before the Cardinal of Lorraine and the others who were present, “Gentlemen, the king is dead. A lesson to us to live.” At the same moment the Constable de Montmorency, who had been ordered some time ago to Orleans, but had, according to his practice, travelled but slowly, arrived suddenly at the city gate, threatened to hang the ill-informed keepers of it, who hesitated to let him enter, and hastened to fold in his arms his niece, the Princess of Conde, whom the death of Francis II. restored to hope.

Coligny at the Death-bed of Francis II.——295







We now enter upon the era of the civil wars, massacres, and assassinations caused by religious fanaticism or committed on religious pretexts. The latter half of the sixteenth century is the time at which the human race saw the opening of that great drama, of which religious liberty is the beginning and the end; and France was then the chief scene of it. At the close of the fifteenth and at the commencement of the sixteenth centuries, religious questions had profoundly agitated Christian Europe; but towards the middle of the latter century they had obtained in the majority of European states solutions which, however incomplete, might be regarded as definitive. Germany was divided into Catholic states and Protestant states, which had established between themselves relations of an almost pacific character. Switzerland was entering upon the same course. In England, Scotland, the Low Countries, the Scandinavian states, and the free towns their neighbors, the Reformation had prevailed or was clearly tending to prevail. In Italy, Spain, and Portugal, on the contrary, the Reformation had been stifled, and Catholicism remained victorious. It was in France that, notwithstanding the inequality of forces, the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism was most obstinately maintained, and appeared for the longest time uncertain. After half a century of civil wars and massacres it terminated in Henry IV., a Protestant king, who turned Catholic, but who gave Protestants the edict of Nantes; a precious, though insufficient and precarious pledge, which served France as a point of departure towards religious liberty, and which protected it for nearly a century, in the midst of the brilliant victory won by Catholicism. [The edict of Nantes, published by Henry IV. in 1598, was revoked by Louis XIV. in 1685.]

For more than three centuries civilized Europe has been discussing, pro or con, the question of religious liberty, but from instinct and with passion far more than with a serious understanding of what is at the bottom of things. Even in our own day it is not without difficulty that a beginning is being made to understand and accept that principle in its true sense and in all its bearings. Men were wonderfully far from it in 1560, at the accession of Charles IX., a child ten years old; they were entering, in blind confidence, upon a religious war, in order to arrive, only after four centuries of strife and misconception, at a vindication of religious liberty. “Woe to thee, O country, that hast a child for king!” said, in accordance with the Bible, the Venetian Michael Suriano, ambassador to France at that time. Around that royal child, and seeking to have the mastery over France by being masters over him, were struggling the three great parties at that time occupying the stage in the name of religion. The Catholics rejected altogether the idea of religious liberty for the Protestants; the Protestants had absolute need of it, for it was their condition of existence; but they did not wish for it in the case of the Catholics, their adversaries. The third party (tiers parti), as we call it nowadays, wished to hold the balance continually wavering between the Catholics and the Protestants, conceding to the former and the latter, alternately, that measure of liberty which was indispensable for most imperfect maintenance of the public peace, and reconcilable with the sovereign power of the kingship. On such conditions was the government of Charles IX. to establish its existence.

The death of Francis II. put an end to a grand project of the Guises, which we do not find expressly indicated elsewhere than in the Memoires of Michael de Castelnau, one of the best informed and most intelligent historians of the time. “Many Catholics,” says he, “were then of opinion that, if the authority of the Duke of Guise had continued to be armed with that of the king as it had been, the Protestants would have had enough to do. For orders had been sent to all the principal lords of the kingdom, officers of the crown and knights of the order, to show themselves in the said city of Orleans on Christmas-day at the opening of the states, for that they might be all made to sign the confession of the Catholic faith in presence of the king and the chapter of the order; together with all the members of the privy council, reporting-masters (of petitions), domestic officers of the king’s household, and all the deputies of the estates. The same confession was to be published throughout all the said kingdom, in order to have it sworn by all the judges, magistrates, and officers, and, finally, all private persons from parish to parish. And in default of so doing, proceedings were to be taken by seizures, condemnations, executions, banishments, and confiscations. And they who did repent themselves and abjured their Protestant religion were to be absolved.” [Memoires de Michel de Castelnau, book ii. chap. xii. p. 121, in the Petitot collection.] It is not to be supposed that, even if circumstances had remained as they were under the reign of Francis II., such a plan could have been successful; but it is intelligible that the Guises had conceived such an idea: they were victorious; they had just procured the condemnation to death of the most formidable amongst the Protestant princes, their adversary Louis de Conde; they were threatening the life of his brother the King of Navarre; and the house of Bourbon seemed to be on the point of disappearing beneath the blows of the ambitious, audacious, and by no means scrupulous house of Lorraine. Not even the prospect of Francis II.‘s death arrested the Guises in their work and their hopes; when they saw that he was near his end, they made a proposal to the queen-mother to unite herself completely with them, leave the Prince of Conde to execution, rid herself of the King of Navarre, and become regent of the kingdom during the minority of her son Charles, taking them, the Lorraine princes and their party, for necessary partners in her government. But Catherine de’ Medici was more prudent, more judicious, and more egotistical in her ambition than the Guises were in theirs; she was not, as they were, exclusively devoted to the Catholic party; it was power that she wanted, and she sought for it every day amongst the party or the mixtures of parties in a condition to give it her. She considered the Catholic party to be the strongest, and it was hers; but she considered the Protestant party strong enough to be feared, and to give her a certain amount of security and satisfaction: a security necessary, moreover, if peace at home, and not civil war, were to be the habitual and general condition of France. Catherine was, finally, a woman, and very skilful in the strifes of court and of government, whilst, on the field of battle, the victories, though won in her name, would be those of the Guises more than her own. Without openly rejecting the proposals they made to her under their common apprehension of Francis II.‘s approaching death, she avoided making any reply. She had, no doubt, already taken her precautions and her measures in advance; her confidante, Jacqueline de Longwy, Duchess of Montpensier and a zealous Protestant, had brought to her rooms at night Antony de Bourbon, King of Navarre, and Catherine had come to an agreement with him about the partition of power between herself and him at the death of the king her son. She had written to the Constable de Montmorency, a rival of the Guises and their foe though a stanch Catholic, to make haste to Orleans, where his presence would be required. As soon as Chancellor de l’Hospital became aware of the proposals which were being made by the Guises to the queen-mother, he flew to her and opposed them with all the energy of his great and politic mind and sterling nature. Was she going to deliver the Prince of Conde to the scaffold, the house of Bourbon to ruin, France to civil war, and the independence of the crown and of that royal authority which she was on the point of wielding herself to the tyrannical domination of her rivals the Lorraine princes and of their party? Catherine listened with great satisfaction to this judicious and honest language. When the crown passed to her son Charles she was free from any serious anxiety as to her own position and her influence in the government. The new king, on announcing to the Parliament the death of his brother, wrote to them that “confiding in the virtues and prudence of the queen-mother, he had begged her to take in hand the administration of the kingdom, with the wise counsel and advice of the King of Navarre and the notables and great personages of the late king’s council.” A few months afterwards the states-general, assembling first at Orleans and afterwards at Pontoise, ratified this declaration by recognizing the placement of “the young King Charles IX.‘s guardianship in the hands of Catherine de’ Medici, his mother, together with the principal direction of affairs, but without the title of regent.” The King of Navarre was to assist her in the capacity of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. Twenty-five members specially designated were to form the king’s privy council. [Histoire des Etats generaux, by M. Picot, t. ii. p. 73.] And in the privacy of her motherly correspondence Catherine wrote to the Queen of Spain, her daughter Elizabeth, wife of Philip II., “Madame, my dear daughter, all I shall tell you is, not to be the least anxious, and to rest assured that I shall spare no pains to so conduct myself that God and everybody may have occasion to be satisfied with me. . . . You have seen the time when I was as happy as you are, not dreaming of ever having any greater trouble than that of not being loved as I should have liked to be by the king your father. God took him from me, and is not content with that; He has taken from me your brother, whom I loved you well know how much, and has left me with three young children, and in a kingdom where all is division, having therein not a single man in whom I can trust, and who has not some particular object of his own.”

The queen-mother of France, who wrote to her daughter the Queen of Spain with such firmness of tone and such independence of spirit, was, to use the words of the Venetian ambassador John Michieli, who had lived at her court, “a woman of forty-three, of affable manners, great moderation, superior intelligence, and ability in conducting all sorts of affairs, especially affairs of state. As mother, she has the personal management of the king; she allows no one else to sleep in his room; she is never away from him. As regent and head of the government, she holds everything in her hands, public offices, benefices, graces, and the seal which bears the king’s signature, and which is called the cachet (privy-seal or signet). In the council, she allows the others to speak; she replies to any one who needs it; she decides according to the advice of the council, or according to what she may have made up her own mind to. She opens the letters addressed to the king by his ambassadors and by all the ministers. . . . She has great designs, and does not allow them to be easily penetrated. As for her way of living, she is very fond of her ease and pleasure; she observes few rules; she eats and drinks a great deal; she considers that she makes up for it by taking a great deal of exercise a-foot and a-horseback; she goes a-hunting; and last year she always joined the king in his stag-chases, through the woods and thick forests, a dangerous sort of chase for anyone who is not an excellent rider. She has an olive complexion, and is already very fat; accordingly the doctors have not a good opinion of her life. She has a dower of three hundred thousand francs a year, double that of other queens-dowager. She was formerly always in money-difficulties and in debt; now, she not only keeps out of debt, but she spends and gives more liberally than ever.” [Relations des Ambassadeurs venztzens, published by A. N. Tommaseo, t. i. pp. 427-429.]

As soon as the reign of Charles IX. and the queen-mother’s government were established, notice was sent to the Prince of Conde that he was free. He refused to stir from prison; he would wait, he said, until his accusers were confined there. He was told that it was the king’s express order, and was what Francis II. on his death-bed had himself impressed upon the King of Navarre. Conde determined to set out for La Fere, a place belonging to his brother Anthony de Bourbon, and there await fresh orders from the king. In February, 1561, he left La Fare for Fontainebleau. On his road to Paris his friends flocked to him and made him a splendid escort. On approaching the king’s palace Conde separated himself from his following, and advanced alone with two of his most faithful friends. All the lords of the court, the Duke of Guise amongst them, went to meet him. On the 15th of March he was admitted to the privy council. Chancellor de l’Hospital, on the prince’s own demand, affirmed that no charge had been found against him. The king declared his innocence in a deed signed by all the members of the council. On the 13th of June, in solemn session, the Parliament of Paris, sitting as a court of peers, confirmed this declaration. Notwithstanding the Duke of Guise’s co-operation in all these acts, Conde desired something of a more personal kind on his part.

Francis de Lorraine, Duke of Aumale and Of Guise——302

On the 24th of August, at St. Germain, in presence of the king, the queen-mother, the princes, and the court, the Duke of Guise, in reply to a question from the king, protested “that he had not, and would never have desired to, put forward anything against the prince’s honor, and that he had been neither the author nor the instigator of his imprisonment.” “Sir,” said Conde, “I consider wicked and contemptible him or them who caused it.” “So I think, sir,” answered Guise, “and it does not apply to me at all.” Whereupon they embraced, and a report was drawn up of the ceremony, which was called their reconciliation. Just as it was ending, Marshal Francis de Montmorency, eldest son of the constable, and far more inclined than his father was towards the cause of the Reformers, arrived with a numerous troop of friends, whom he had mustered to do honor to Conde. The court was a little excited at this incident. The constable declared that, having the honor to be so closely connected with the princes of Bourbon, his son would have been to blame if he had acted differently. The aged warrior had himself negotiated this reconciliation; and when it was accomplished, and the Duke of Guise had performed his part in it with so much complaisance, the constable considered himself to be quits with his former allies, and free to follow his leaning towards the Catholic party. “The veteran,” says the Duke of Autnale, “did not pique himself on being a theologian; but he was sincerely attached to the Catholic faith because it was the old religion and the king’s; and he separated himself definitively from those religious and political innovators whom he had at first seemed to countenance, and amongst whom he reckoned his nearest relatives.” In vain did his eldest son try to hold him back; a close union was formed between the Constable de Montmorency, the Duke of Guise, and Marshal de Saint-Andre, and it became the Catholic triumvirate against which Catherine de’ Medici had at one time to defend herself, and of which she had at another to avail herself in order to carry out the policy of see-saw she had adopted as her chief means of government.

Before we call to mind and estimate as they deserve the actions of that government, we must give a correct idea of the moral condition of the people governed, of their unbridled passions, and of the share of responsibility reverting to them in the crimes and shocking errors of that period. It is a mistake and an injustice, only too common, to lay all the burden of such facts, and the odium justly due to them, upon the great actors almost exclusively whose name has remained attached to them in history; the people themselves have very often been the prime movers in them; they have very often preceded and urged on their masters in the black deeds which have sullied their history; and on the masses as well as on the leaders ought the just sentence of posterity to fall. The moment we speak of the St. Bartholomew, it seems as if Charles IX., Catherine de’ Medici, and the Guises issued from their grave to receive that sentence; and God forbid that we should wish to deliver them from it; but it hits the nameless populace of their day as well as themselves, and the hands of the people, far more than the will of kings, began the tale of massacres for religion’s sake. This is no vague and general assertion; and, to show it, we shall only have to enumerate, with their dates, the principal facts of which history has preserved the memory, whilst stigmatizing them, with good reason, as massacres or murders. The greater number, as was to be expected, are deeds done by Catholics, for they were by far the more numerous and more frequently victorious; but Protestants also have sometimes deserved a place in this tragic category, and when we meet with them, we will assuredly not blot them out.

We confine the enumeration to the reign of Charles IX., and in it we place only such massacres and murders as were not the results of any legal proceeding. We say nothing of judicial sentences and executions, however outrageous and iniquitous they may have been.

The first fact which presents itself is a singular one. Admiral de Coligny’s eldest brother, Odet de Chatillon, was a Catholic, Bishop of Beauvais, and a cardinal; in 1550, he had gone to Rome and had co-operated in the election of Pope Julius III.; in 1554, he had published some Constitutions synodales (synodal regulations), to remedy certain abuses which had crept into his diocese, and, in 1561, he proposed to make in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper some modifications which smacked, it is said, of the innovations of Geneva. The populace of Beauvais were so enraged at this that they rose up against him, massacred a schoolmaster whom he tried to protect, and would have massacred the bishop himself if troops sent from Paris had not come to his assistance.

In the same year, 1561, the Protestants had a custom of meeting at Paris, for their religious exercises, in a house called the Patriarch’s house, very near the church of St. Medard. On the 27th of December, whilst the Reformed minister was preaching, the Catholics had all the bells of St. Medard rung in full peal. The minister sent two of his congregation to beg the incumbent to have the bell-ringing stopped for a short time. The mob threw themselves upon the two messengers: one was killed, and the other, after making a stout defence, returned badly wounded to the Patriarch’s house, and fell dead at the preacher’s feet. The provost of tradesmen was for having the bells stopped; the riot became violent; the house of the Reformers was stormed; and the provost’s archers had great difficulty in putting a stop to the fight. More than a hundred persons, it is said, were killed or wounded.

Massacre of Protestants—-305

In 1562, in the month of February, whilst the Guises were travelling in Germany, with the object of concluding, in the interests of policy, alliances with some German Lutheran princes, disturbances broke out at Cahors, Amiens, Sens, and Tours, between the Protestants and the Catholics. Which of the two began them? It would be difficult to determine. The passions that lead to insult, attack, defence, and vengeance were mutually felt and equally violent on both sides. Montluc was sent to Guienne by the queen-mother to restore order there; but nearly everywhere he laid the blame on the Protestants. His Memoires prove that he harried them without any form of justice. “At Sauveterre,” says he, “I caught five or six, all of whom I had hanged without expense of paper or ink, and without giving them a hearing, for those gentry are regular Chrysostoms (parlent d’or).” “I was informed that at Gironde there were sixty or eighty Huguenots belonging to them of La Reole, who had retreated thither; the which were all taken, and I had them hanged to the pillars of the market-place without further ceremony. One hanged has more effect than a hundred slain.” When Montluc took Monsegur, “the massacre lasted for ten hours or more,” says he, “because search was made for them in the houses; the dead were counted and found to be more than seven hundred.” [Memoires de Montluc, t. ii. pp. 442, 443-447.]

Almost at the very time at which Montluc, who had been sent to Guienne to restore order there between the Catholics and the Protestants, was treating the latter with this shocking severity, an incident, more serious because of the rank of the persons concerned, took place at Vassy, a small town in Champagne, near which the Duke of Guise passed on returning from Germany. Hearing, as he went, the sound of bells, he asked what it meant. “It is the church of the Huguenots of Vassy,” was the answer. “Are there many of them?” asked the duke. He was told that there were, and that they were increasing more and more. “Then,” says the chronicler, “he began to mutter and to put himself in a white heat, gnawing his beard, as he was wont to do when he was enraged or had a mind to take vengeance.” Did he turn aside out of his way with his following, to pass right through Vassy, or did he confine himself to sending some of his people to bring him an account of what was happening there? When a fact which was at the outset insignificant has become a great event, it is hardly possible to arrive at any certain knowledge of the truth as to the small details of its origin. Whatever may have been the case in the first instance, a quarrel, and, before long, a struggle, began between the preacher’s congregation and the prince’s following. Being informed of the matter whilst he was at table, the Duke of Guise rose up, went to the spot, found the combatants very warmly at work, and himself received several blows from stones; and, when the fight was put a stop to, forty-nine persons had been killed in it, nearly all on the Protestant side; more than two hundred others, it is said, came out of it severely wounded; and, whether victors or vanquished, all were equally irritated. The Protestants complained vehemently; and Conde offered, in their name, fifty thousand men to resent this attack, but his brother, the King of Navarre, on the contrary, received with a very bad grace the pleading of Theodore de Beze. “It is true that the church of God should endure blows and not inflict them,” said De Beze, “but remember, I pray you, that it is an anvil which has used up a great many hammers.”

The massacre of Vassy, the name which has remained affixed to it in history, rapidly became contagious. From 1562 to 1572, in Languedoc, in Provence, in Dauphiny, in Poitou, in Orleanness, in Normandy even and in Picardy, at Toulouse, at Gaillac, at Frejus, at Troyes, at Sens, at Orleans, at Amiens, at Rouen, and in many other towns, spontaneous and disorderly outbreaks between religiously opposed portions of the populace took place suddenly, were repeated, and spread, sometimes with the connivance of the local authorities, judicial or administrative, but more often through the mere brutal explosion of the people’s passions. It is distasteful to us to drag numerous examples from oblivion; but we will cite just two, faithful representations of those sad incidents, and attested by authentic documents. The little town of Gaillac was almost entirely Catholic; the Protestants, less numerous, had met the day after Pentecost, May 18, 1562, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. “The inhabitants in the quarter of the Chateau de l’Orme, who are all artisans or vine-dressers,” says the chronicler, “rush to arms, hurry along with them all the Catholics of the town, invest the place of assembly, and take prisoners all who were present. After this capture, they separate: some remain in the meeting-house, on guard over the prisoners; the rest go into dwellings to work their will upon those of the religion who had remained there. Then they take the prisoners, to the number of sixty or eighty, into a gallery of the Abbey of St. Michael, situated on a steep rock, at the base of which flows the River Tarn; and there, a field laborer, named Cabral, having donned the robe and cape of the judge’s deputy, whom he had slain with his own hand, pronounces judgment, and sentences all the prisoners to be thrown from the gallery into the river, telling them to go and eat fish, as they had not chosen to fast during Lent; which was done forthwith. Divers boatmen who were on the river despatched with their oars those who tried to save themselves by swimming.” [Histoire generale du Languedoc, liv. xxxviii. f. v., p. 227.] At Troyes, in Champagne, “during the early part of August, 1572, the majority of the Protestants of the town, who were returning from Esleau-Mont, where they had a meeting-house and a pastor under authorization from the king, were assailed in the neighborhood of Croncels by the excited populace. A certain number of individuals, accompanying a mother carrying a child which had just received baptism, were pursued with showers of stones; several were wounded, and the child was killed in its mother’s arms.” This affair did not give rise to any prosecution. “It is no use to think about it any longer,” said the delegate of the bailiff and of the mayor of Troyes, in a letter from Paris on the 27th of August. The St. Bartholomew had just taken place on the 24th of August. [Histoire de la Ville de Troyes, by H. Boutiot, t. iii. p. 25.]

Where they happened to be the stronger, and where they had either vengeance to satisfy or measures of security to take, the Protestants were not more patient or more humane than the Catholics. At Nimes, in 1567, they projected and carried out, in the town and the neighboring country, a massacre in which a hundred and ninety-two Catholics perished; and several churches and religious houses were damaged or completely destroyed. This massacre, perpetrated on St. Michael’s day, was called the Michaelade. The barbarities committed against the Catholics in Dauphiny and in Provence by Francis de Beaumont, Baron of Adrets, have remained as historical as the massacre of Vassy, and he justified them on the same grounds as Montluc had given for his in Guienne. “Nobody commits cruelty in repaying it,” said he; “the first are called cruelties, the second justice. The only way to stop the enemy’s barbarities is to meet them with retaliation.” Though experience ought to have shown them their mistake, both Adrets and Montluc persisted in it. A case, however, is mentioned in which Adrets was constrained to be merciful. After the capture of Montbrison, he had sentenced all the prisoners to throw themselves down, with their hands tied behind them, from the top of the citadel; one of them made two attempts, and thought better of it; “Come, twice is enough to take your soundings,” shouted the baron, who was looking on. “I’ll give you four times to do it in,” rejoined the soldier. And this good saying saved his life.

The weak and undecided government of Catherine de’ Medici tried several times, but in vain, to prevent or repress these savage explosions of passion and strife amongst the people; the sterling moderation of Chancellor de l’Hospital was scarcely more successful than the hypocritical and double-faced attentions paid by Catherine de’ Medici to both the Catholic and the Protestant leaders; the great maladies and the great errors of nations require remedies more heroic than the adroitness of a woman, the wisdom of a functionary, or the hopes of a philosopher. It was formal and open civil war between the two communions and the two parties that, with honest and patriotic desire, L’Hospital and even Catherine were anxious to avoid. From 1561 to 1572 there were in France eighteen or twenty massacres of Protestants, four or five of Catholics, and thirty or forty single murders sufficiently important to have been kept in remembrance by history; and during that space of time formal civil war, religious and partisan, broke out, stopped and recommenced in four campaigns, signalized, each of them, by great battles, and four times terminated by impotent or deceptive treaties of peace which, on the 24th of August, 1572, ended, for their sole result, in the greatest massacre of French history, the St. Bartholomew.

The first religious war, under Charles IX., appeared on the point of breaking out in April, 1561, some days after that the Duke of Guise, returning from the massacre of Vassy, had entered Paris, on the 16th of March, in triumph. The queen-mother, in dismay, carried off the king to Melun at first, and then to Fontainebleau, whilst the Prince of Conde, having retired to Meaux, summoned to his side his relatives, his friends, and all the leaders of the Reformers, and wrote to Coligny, “that Caesar had not only crossed the Rubicon, but was already at Rome, and that his banners were beginning to wave all over the neighboring country.” For some days Catherine and L’Hospital tried to remain out of Paris with the young king, whom Guise, the Constable de Montmorency, and the King of Navarre, the former being members and the latter an ally of the triumvirate, went to demand back from them. They were obliged to submit to the pressure brought to bear upon them. The constable was the first to enter Paris, and went, on the 2d of April, and burned down the two places of worship which, by virtue of the decree of January 17, 1561, had been granted to the Protestants. Next day the King of Navarre and the Duke of Guise, in their turn, entered the city in company with Charles IX. and Catherine. A council was assembled at the Louvre to deliberate as to the declaration of war, which was deferred. Whilst the king was on his way back to Paris, Conde hurried off to take up his quarters at Orleans, whither Coligny went promptly to join him. They signed, with the gentlemen who came to them from all parts, a compact of association “for the honor of God, for the liberty of the king, his brothers and the queen-mother, and for the maintenance of decrees;” and Conde, in writing to the Protestant princes of Germany to explain to them his conduct, took the title of protector of the house and crown of France. Negotiations still went on for nearly three months. The chiefs of the two parties attempted to offer one another generous and pacific solutions; they even had two interviews; but Catherine was induced by the Catholic triumvirate to expressly declare that she could not allow in France more than one single form of worship. Conde and his friends said that they could not lay down their arms until the triumvirate was overthrown, and the execution of decrees granting them liberty of worship, in certain places and to a certain extent, had been secured to them. Neither party liked to acknowledge itself beaten in this way without having struck a blow. And in the early part of July, 1562, the first religious war began.

We do not intend to dwell upon any but its leading facts, facts which at the moment when they were accomplished might have been regarded as decisive in respect of the future. In this campaign there were two; the battle of Dreux, on the 19th of December, 1562; and the murder of the Duke of Guise by Poltrot, on the 18th of February, 1563.

The two armies met in the plain of Dreux with pretty nearly equal forces, the royal army being superior in artillery and the Protestant in cavalry. When they had arrived in front of one another, the triumvirs sent to ask the queen-mother’s authority to give battle. “I am astounded,” said Catherine to her favorite adviser, Michael de Castelnau, “that the constable, the Duke of Guise, and Saint-Andre, being good, prudent, and experienced captains, should send to ask counsel of a woman and a child, both full of sorrow at seeing things in such extremity as to be reduced to the risk of a battle between fellow-countrymen.” “Hereupon,” says Castelnau, “in came the king’s nurse, who was a Huguenot, and the queen, at the same time that she took me to see the king, who was still in bed, said to me with great agitation and jeeringly, ‘We had better ask the king’s nurse whether to give battle or not; what think you?’ Then the nurse, as she followed the queen into the king’s chamber according to her custom, said several times that, as the Huguenots would not listen to reason, she would say, ‘Give battle.’ Whereupon there was, at the privy council, much discourse about the good and the evil that might result therefrom; but the resolution arrived at was, that they who had arms in their hands ought not to ask advice or orders from the court; and I was despatched on the spot to tell them from the king and the queen, that, as good and prudent captains, they were to do what they considered most proper.” Next day, at ten in the morning, the armies met. “Then every one,” says La Noue, one of the bravest amongst the Reformers’ leaders, “steadied himself, reflecting that the men he saw coming towards him were not Spaniards, or English, or Italians, but Frenchmen, that is, the bravest of the brave, amongst whom there were some who were his own comrades, relatives, and friends, and that within an hour they would have to be killing one another, which created some sort of horror of the fact, without, however, diminution of courage. . . . One thing worthy of being noted,” continues La Noue, “is the long duration of the fight, it being generally seen in battles that all is lost or won within a single hour, whereas this began about one P. M., and there was no issue until after five. Of a surety, there was marvellous animosity on both sides, whereof sufficient testimony is to be found in the number of dead, which exceeded seven thousand, as many persons say; the majority whereof were killed in the fight rather than the pursuit. . . . Another incident was the capture of the two chiefs of the armies, a thing which rarely happens, because generally they do not fight until the last moment and in extremity; and often a battle is as good as won before they come to this point. But in this case they did not put it off so long, for, at the very first, each was minded to set his men an example of not sparing themselves. The Constable de Montmorency was the first taken, and seriously wounded, having always received wounds in seven battles at which he was present, which shows the boldness that was in him. The Prince of Conde was taken at the end, also wounded. As both of them had good seconds, it made them the less fearful of danger to their own persons, for the constable had M. de Guise, and the Prince of Conde Admiral de Coligny, who showed equally well to the front in the melley. . . . Finally I wish to bring forward another matter, which will be supernumerary because it happened after the battle; and that is, the courteous and honorable behavior of the Duke of Guise victorious towards the Prince of Conde a prisoner; which most men, on one side as well as on the other, did not at all think he would have been disposed to exhibit, for it is well known how hateful, in civil wars, are the chiefs of parties, and what imputations are made upon them. Nevertheless here quite the contrary happened: for, when the prince was brought before the duke, the latter spoke to him respectfully and with great gentleness of language, wherein he could not pretend that there was any desire to pique him or blame him. And whilst the prince staid in the camp, the duke often dined with him. And forasmuch as on this day of the battle there were but few beds arrived, for the baggage had been half-plundered and dispersed, the Duke of Guise offered his own bed to the Prince of Conde, which the prince would accept in respect of the half only. And so these two great princes, who were like mortal foes, found themselves in one bed, one triumphant and the other captive, taking their repast together.” [Memoires de Francois de La Noue, in the Petitot collection; 1st series, t. xxxiv. pp. 172-178.]

The results of the battle of Dreux were serious, and still more serious from the fate of the chiefs than from the number of the dead. The commanders of the two armies, the Constable de Montmorency, and the Prince of Conde, were wounded and prisoners. One of the triumvirs, Marshal de Saint-Andre, had been killed in action. The Catholics’ wavering ally, Anthony de Bourbon, King of Navarre, had died before the battle of a wound which he had received at the siege of Rouen; and on his death-bed had resumed his Protestant bearing, saying that, if God granted him grace to get well, he would have nothing but the gospel preached throughout the realm. The two staffs (etats-majors), as we should now say, were disorganized: in one, the Duke of Guise alone remained unhurt and at liberty; in the other, Coligny, in Conde’s absence, was elected general-in-chief of the Protestants. At Paris, for a while, it was believed that the battle was lost. “If it had been,” says Montluc, “I think that it was all over with France, for the state would have changed, and so would the religion; a young king can be made to do as you please;” Catherine de’ Medici showed a facile resignation to such a change. “Very well,” she had said, “then we will pray to God in French.” When the victory became known there was general enthusiasm for the Duke. of Guise; but he took only a very modest advantage of it, being more anxious to have his comrades’ merits appreciated than his own. At Blois, as he handed the queen-mother her table-napkin at dinner-time, he asked her if he might have an audience of her after the repast. “Jesu! my dear cousin,” said Catherine, “whatever are you saying?” “I say it, madame, because I would fain show you in the presence of everybody what I have done, since my departure from Paris, with your army which you gave in charge to me together with the constable, and also present to you all the good captains and servants of the king and of yourself who have served you faithfully, as well your own subjects as also foreigners, and horsemen and foot;” whereupon he discoursed about the battle of Dreux, “and painted it so well and so to the life,” says Brantome, “that you would have said that they were still about it, whereat the queen felt very great pleasure. . . . Every one listened very attentively, without the least noise in the world; and he spoke so well that there was none who was not charmed, for the prince was the best of speakers and eloquent, not with a forced and overladen eloquence, but simple and soldierly, with a grace of his own to match; so much so that the queen-mother said that she had never seen him in such good form.” [Brantome, Tries des Brands Capitaines, t. ii. pp. 247-250.] The good form, however, was not enough to prevent the ill-humor and jealousy felt by the queen-mother and her youthful son the king at such a great success which made Guise so great a personage. After the victory of Dreux he had written to the king to express his wish to see conferred upon a candidate of his own choosing the marshal’s baton left vacant by the death of Saint-Andre. “See now,” said Charles IX. to his mother and some persons who were by, “if the Duke of Guise does not act the king well; you would really say that the army was his, and that victory came from his hand, making no mention of God, who, by His great goodness, hath given it us. He thrusts the bargain into my fist (dictates to me). Yet must I give him a civil answer to satisfy him; for I do not want to make trouble in my kingdom, and irritate a captain to whom my late father and I have given so much credit and authority.” The king almost apologized for having already disposed of the baton in favor of the Marquis de Vieilleville, and he sent the Duke of Guise the collar of the order for two of his minions, and at the same time the commission of lieutenant-general of the kingdom and commander-in-chief of the army for himself. Guise thanked him, pretending to be satisfied: the king smiled as he read his letter; and “Non ti fidar, e non sarai gabbato” (Don’t trust, and you’ll not be duped), he said in the words of the Italian proverb.

He had not to disquiet himself for long about this rival. On the 18th of February, 1563, the Duke of Guise was vigorously pushing forward the siege of Orleans, the stronghold of the Protestants, stoutly defended by Coligny. He was apprised that his wife, the Duchess Anne d’Este, had just arrived at a castle near the camp with the intention of using her influence over her husband in order to spare Orleans from the terrible consequences of being taken by assault. He mounted his horse to go and join her, and he was chatting to his aide-de-camp Rostaing about the means of bringing about a pacification, when, on arriving at a cross-road where several ways met, he felt himself struck in the right shoulder, almost under the arm, by a pistol-shot fired from behind a hedge at a distance of six or seven paces. A white plume upon his head had made him conspicuous, and as, for so short a ride, he had left off his cuirass, three balls had passed through him from side to side. “That shot has been in keeping for me a long while,” said he: “I deserve it for not having taken precautions.” He fell upon his horse’s neck, as he vainly tried to draw his sword from the scabbard; his arm refused its office.

The Duke of Guise Waylaid—-315

When he had been removed to the castle, where the duchess, in tears, received him, “I am vexed at it,” said he, “for the honor of France;” and to his son Henry, Prince of Joinville, a boy of thirteen, he added, kissing him, “God grant you grace, my son, to become a good man.” He languished for six days, amidst useless attentions paid him by his surgeons, giving Catherine de’ Medici, who came daily to see him, the most pacific counsels, and taking of the duchess his wife the most tender farewells mingled with the most straightforward and honest avowals. “I do not mean to deny,” he said to her, “that the counsels and frailties of youth have led me sometimes into something at which you had a right to be offended; I pray you to be pleased to excuse me and forgive me.” His brother, the Cardinal de Guise, Bishop of Metz, which the duke had so gloriously defended against Charles V., warned him that it was time to prepare himself for death by receiving the sacraments of the church. “Ah! my dear brother,” said the duke to him, “I have loved you greatly in times past, but I love you now still more than ever, for you are doing me a truly brotherly turn.” On the 24th of February they still offered him aliment to sustain his rapidly increasing weakness but “Away, away,” said he; “I have taken the manna from heaven, whereby I feel myself so comforted that it seems to me as if I were already in paradise. This body has no further need of nourishment;” and so he expired on the 24th of February, 1563, an object, at his death, of the most profound regret amongst his army and his party, as well as his family, after having been during his life the object of their lively admiration. “I do not forget,” says his contemporary Stephen Pasquier in reference to him, “that it was no small luck for him to die at this period, when he was beyond reach of the breeze, and when shifting Fortune had not yet played him any of those turns whereby she is so cunning in lowering the horn of the bravest.”

It is a duty to faithfully depict this pious and guileless death of a great man, at the close of a vigorous and a glorious life, made up of good and evil, without the evil’s having choked the good. This powerful and consolatory intermixture of qualities is the characteristic of the eminent men of the sixteenth century, Catholics or Protestants, soldiers or civilians; and it is a spectacle wholesome to be offered in times when doubt and moral enfeeblement are the common malady even of sound minds and of honest men.

The murderer of Duke Francis of Guise was a petty nobleman of Angoumois, John Poltrot, Lord of Mere, a fiery Catholic in his youth, who afterwards became an equally fiery Protestant, and was engaged with his relative La Renaudie in the conspiracy against the Guises. He had been employed constantly from that time, as a spy it is said, by the chiefs of the Reformers—a vocation for which, it would seem, he was but little adapted, for the indiscretion of his language must have continually revealed his true sentiments. When he heard, in 1562, of the death of Anthony de Bourbon, King of Navarre, “That,” said he, “is not what will put an end to the war; what is wanted is the dog with the big collar.” “Whom do you mean?” asked somebody. “The great Guisard; and here’s the arm that will do the trick.” “He used to show,” says D’Aubigne, “bullets cast to slay the Guisard, and thereby rendered himself ridiculous.” After the battle of Dreux he was bearer of a message from the Lord of Soubise to Admiral de Coligny, to whom he gave an account of the situation of the Reformers in Dauphiny and in Lyonness. His report no doubt interested the admiral, who gave him twenty crowns to go and play spy in the camp of the Duke of Guise, and, some days later, a hundred crowns to buy a horse. It was thus that Poltrot was put in a position to execute the design he had been so fond of proclaiming before he had any communication with Coligny. As soon as, on the 18th of February, 1563, in the outskirts of Orleans, he had, to use his own expression, done his trick, he fled full gallop, so as not to bear the responsibility of it; but, whether it were that he was troubled in his mind, or that he was ill acquainted with the region, he wandered round and round the place where he had shot the Duke of Guise, and was arrested on the 20th of February by men sent in search of him. Being forthwith brought before the privy council, in the presence of the queen-mother, and put to the torture, he said that Admiral de Coligny, Theodore de Beze, La Rochefoucauld, Soubise, and other Huguenot chiefs had incited him to murder the Duke of Guise, persecutor of the faithful, “as a meritorious deed in the eyes of God and men.” Coligny repudiated this allegation point blank. Shrinking from the very appearance of hypocrisy, he abstained from any regret at the death of the Duke of Guise. “The greatest blessing,” said he, “which could come to this realm and to the church of God, especially to myself and all my house;” and he referred to conversations he had held with the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Duchess of Guise, and to a notice which he had sent, a few days previously, to the Duke of Guise himself, “to take care, for there was somebody under a bond to kill him.” Lastly, he demanded that, to set in a clear light “his integrity, innocence, and good repute,” Poltrot should be kept, until peace was made, in strict confinement, so that the admiral himself and the murderer might be confronted. It was not thought to be obligatory or possible to comply with this desire; amongst the public there was a passionate outcry for prompt chastisement. Poltrot, removed to Paris, put to the torture and questioned by the commissioners of Parliament, at one time confirmed and at another disavowed his original assertions. Coligny, he said, had not suggested the project to him, but had cognizance of it, and had not attempted to deter him. The decree sentenced Poltrot to the punishment of regicides. He underwent it on the 18th of March, 1563, in the Place de Greve, preserving to the very end that fierce energy of hatred and vengeance which had prompted his deed. He was heard saying to himself in the midst of his torments, and as if to comfort himself, “For all that, he is dead and gone,—the persecutor of the faithful,—and he will not come back again.” The angry populace insulted him with yells; Poltrot added, “If the persecution does not cease, vengeance will fall upon this city, and the avengers are already at hand.”

Catherine de’ Medici, well pleased, perhaps, that there was now a question personally embarrassing for the admiral and as yet in abeyance, had her mind entirely occupied apparently with the additional weakness and difficulty resulting to the position of the crown and the Catholic party from the death of the Duke of Guise; she considered peace necessary; and, for reasons of a different nature, Chancellor de l’Hospital was of the same opinion: he drew attention to “scruples of conscience, the perils of foreign influence, and the impossibility of curing by an application of brute force a malady concealed in the very bowels and brains of the people.” Negotiations were entered into with the two captive generals, the Prince of Conde and the Constable de Montmorency; they assented to that policy; and, on the 19th of March, peace was concluded at Amboise in the form of an edict which granted to the Protestants the concessions recognized as indispensable by the crown itself, and regulated the relations of the two creeds, pending “the remedy of time, the decisions of a holy council, and the king’s majority.” Liberty of conscience and the practice of the religion “called Reformed” were recognized “for all barons and lords high-justiciary, in their houses, with their families and dependants; for nobles having fiefs without vassals and living on the king’s lands, but for them and their families personally.” The burgesses were treated less favorably; the Reformed worship was maintained in the towns in which it had been practised up to the 7th of March in the current year; but, beyond that and noblemen’s mansions, this worship might not be celebrated save in the faubourgs of one single town in every bailiwick or seneschalty. Paris and its district were to remain exempt from any exercise of the said “Reformed religion.”

During the negotiations and as to the very basis of the edict of March 19, 1563, the Protestants were greatly divided; the soldiers and the politicians, with Conde at their head, desired peace, and thought that the concessions made by the Catholics ought to be accepted. The majority of the Reformed pastors and theologians cried out against the insufficiency of the concessions, and were astonished that there should be so much hurry to make peace when the Catholics had just lost their most formidable captain. Coligny, moderate in his principles, but always faithful to his church when she made her voice heard, showed dissatisfaction at the selfishness of the nobles. “To confine the religion to one town in every bailiwick,” he said, “is to ruin more churches by a stroke of the pen than our enemies could have pulled down in ten years; the nobles ought to have recollected that example had been set by the towns to them, and by the poor to the rich.” Calvin, in his correspondence with the Reformed churches of France, severely handled Conde on this occasion. At the moment when peace was made, the pacific were in the right; the death of the Duke of Guise had not prevented the battle of Dreux from being a defeat for the Reformers; and, when war had to be supported for long, it was especially the provincial nobles and the people on their estates who bore the burden of it. But when the edict of Amboise had put an end to the first religious war, when the question was no longer as to who won or lost battles, but whether the conditions of that peace to which the Catholics had sworn were loyally observed, and whether their concessions were effective in insuring the modest amount of liberty and security promised to the Protestants, the question changed front, and it was not long before facts put the malcontents in the right. Between 1563 and 1567 murders of distinguished Protestants increased strangely, and excited amongst their families anxiety accompanied by a thirst for vengeance. The Guises and their party, on their side, persisted in their outcries for proceedings against the instigators, known or presumed, of the murder of Duke Francis. It was plainly against Admiral de Coligny that these cries were directed; and he met them by a second declaration, very frank as a denial of the deed which it was intended to impute to him, but more hostile than ever to the Guises and their party. “The late duke,” said he, “was of the whole army the man I had most looked out for on the day of the last battle; if I could have brought a gun to bear upon him to kill him, I would have done it; I would have ordered ten thousand arquebusiers, had so many been under my command, to single him out amongst all the others, whether in the field, or from over a wall, or from behind a hedge. In short, I would not have spared any of the means permitted by the laws of war in time of hostility to get rid of so great an enemy as he was for me and for so many other good subjects of the king.”

After three years of such deadly animosity between the two parties and the two houses, the king and the queen-mother could find no other way of stopping an explosion than to call the matter on before the privy council, and cause to be there drawn up, on the 29th of January, 1566, a solemn decree, “declaring the admiral’s innocence on his own affirmation, given in the presence of the king and the council as before God himself, that he had not had anything to do with or approved of the said homicide. Silence for all time to come was consequently imposed upon the attorney-general and everybody else; inhibition and prohibition were issued against the continuance of any investigation or prosecution. The king took the parties under his safeguard, and enjoined upon them that they should live amicably in obedience to him.” By virtue of this injunction, the Guises, the Colignies, and the Montmorencies ended by embracing, the first-named accommodating themselves with a pretty good grace to this demonstration: “but God knows what embraces!” [Words used in La Harenga, a satire of the day in burlesque verse upon the Cardinal of Lorraine.] Six years later the St. Bartholomew brought the true sentiments out into broad daylight.

At the same time that the war was proceeding amongst the provinces with this passionate doggedness, royal decrees were alternately confirming and suppressing or weakening the securities for liberty and safety which the decree of Amboise, on the 19th of March, 1563, had given to the Protestants by way of re-establishing peace. It was a series of contradictory measures which were sufficient to show the party-strife still raging in the heart of the government. On the 14th of June, 1563, Protestants were forbidden to work, with shops open, on the days of Catholic festivals. On the 14th of December, 1563, it was proclaimed that Protestants might not gather alms for the poor of their religion, unless in places where that religion was practised, and nowhere else. On the 24th of June, 1564, a proclamation from the king interdicted the exercise of the Reformed religion within the precincts of any royal residence. On the 4th of August, 1564, the Reformed churches were forbidden to hold synods and make collections of money, and their ministers to quit their places of residence and to open schools. On the 12th of November, 1567, a king’s ordinance interdicted the conferring of judiciary offices on non-Catholics. In vain did Conde and Coligny cry out loudly against these violations of the peace of Amboise; in vain, on the 16th of August, 1563, at the moment of proclaiming the king’s majority, was an edict issued giving full and entire confirmation to the edict of the 19th of March preceding, with the addition of prescriptions favorable to the royal authority, as well as, at the same time, to the maintenance of the public peace; scarcely any portion of these prescriptions was observed; the credit of Chancellor de l’Hospital was clearly very much on the decline; and, whilst the legal government was thus falling to pieces or languishing away, Gaspard de Tavannes, a proved soldier and royalist, who, however, was not yet marshal of France, was beginning to organize, under the name of Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit, a secret society intended to renew the civil war “if it happened that occasion should offer for repressing and chastising them of the religion called Reformed.” It was the League in its cradle. At the same time, the king had orders given for a speedy levy of six thousand Swiss, and an army-corps was being formed on the frontiers of Champagne. The queen-mother neglected no pains, no caresses, to hide from Conde the true moving cause at the bottom of all these measures; and as “he was,” says the historian Davila, “by nature very ready to receive all sorts of impressions,” he easily suffered himself to be lulled to sleep. One day, however, in June, 1567, he thought it about time to claim the fulfilment of a promise that had been made him at the time of the peace of Amboise of a post which would give him the rank and authority of lieutenant-general of the kingdom, as his late brother, the King of Navarre, had been; and he asked for the sword of constable which Montmorency, in consequence of his great age, seemed disposed to resign to the king. Catherine avoided giving any answer; but her favorite son, Henry, Duke of Anjou, who was as yet only sixteen, repudiated this idea with so much haughtiness that Conde felt called upon to ask some explanations; there was no longer any question of war with Spain or of an army to be got together. “What, pray, will you do,” he asked, “with the Swiss you are raising?” The answer was, “We shall find good employment for them.”

It is the failing of a hypocritical and lying policy, however able, that, if it do not succeed promptly, a moment arrives when it becomes transparent and lets in daylight. Even Conde could not delude himself any longer; the preparations were for war against the Reformers. He quitted the court to take his stand again with his own party. Coligny, D’Andelot, La Rochefoucauld, La Noue, and all the accredited leaders amongst the Protestants, whom his behavior, too full of confidence or of complaisance towards the court, had shocked or disquieted, went and joined him. In September, 1567, the second religious war broke out.

It was short, and not decisive for either party. At the outset of the campaign, success was with the Protestants; forty towns, Orleans, Montereau, Lagny, Montauban, Castres, Montpellier, Uzes, &c., opened their gates to them or fell into their hands.

They were within an ace of surprising the king at Monceaux, and he never forgot, says Montluc, that “the Protestants had made him do the stretch from Meaux to Paris at something more than a walk.” It was around Paris that Conde concentrated all the efforts of the campaign. He had posted himself at St. Denis with a small army of four thousand foot and two thousand horse. The Constable de Montmorency commanded the royal army, having a strength of sixteen thousand foot and three thousand horse. Attempts were made to open negotiations; but the constable broke them off brusquely, roaring out that the king would never tolerate two religions. On the 10th of November, 1567, the battle began at St. Denis, and was fought with alternations of partial success and reverse, which spread joy and sadness through the two hosts in turn; but in resisting a charge of cavalry, led to victory by Conde, the constable fell with and under his horse; a Scot called out to him to surrender; for sole response, the aged warrior, “abandoned by his men, but not by his manhood,” says D’Aubigne, smashed the Scot’s jaw with the pommel of his broken sword; and at the same moment he fell mortally wounded by a shot through the body. His death left the victory uncertain and the royal army disorganized. The campaign lasted still four months, thanks to the energetic perseverance of Coligny and the inexhaustible spirits of Conde, both of whom excelled in the art of keeping up the courage of their men. “Where are you taking us now?” asked an ill-tempered officer one day. “To meet our German allies,” said Conde. “And suppose we don’t find them?” “Then we will breathe on our fingers, for it is mighty cold.” They did at last, at Pont-a-Mousson, meet the German re-enforcements, which were being brought up by Prince John Casimir, son of the elector-palatine, and which made Conde’s army strong enough for him to continue the war in earnest. But these new comers declared that they would not march any farther unless they were paid the hundred thousand crowns due to them. Conde had but two thousand. “Thereupon,” says La Noue, “was there nothing for it but to make a virtue of necessity; and he as well as the admiral employed all their art, influence, and eloquence to persuade every man to divest himself of such means as he possessed for to furnish this contribution, which was so necessary. They themselves were the first to set an example, giving up their own silver plate. . . . Half from love and half from fear, this liberality was so general, that, down to the very soldiers’ varlets, every one gave; so that at last it was considered a disgrace to have contributed little. When the whole was collected, it was found to amount, in what was coined as well as in plate and gold chains, to more than eighty thousand livres, which came in so timely, that without it there would have been a difficulty in satisfying the reiters. . . . Was it not a thing worthy of astonishment to see an army, itself unpaid, despoiling itself of the little means it had of relieving its own necessities and sparing that little for the accommodation of others, who, peradventure, scarcely gave them a thankee for it?” [Memoires de La Noue, in the Petitot collection, 1st Series, t. xxxiv. p. 207.]

So much generosity and devotion, amongst the humblest as well as the most exalted ranks of the army, deserved not to be useless: but it turned out quite differently. Conde and Coligny led back to Paris their new army, which, it is said, was from eighteen to twenty thousand strong, and seemed to be in a condition either to take Paris itself, or to force the royal army to enter the field and accept a decisive battle. To bring that about, Conde thought the best thing was to besiege Chartres, “the key to the granary of Paris,” as it was called, and “a big thorn,” according to La Noue, “to run into the foot of the Parisians.” But Catherine de’ Medici had quietly entered once more into negotiations with some of the Protestant chiefs, even with Conde himself. Charles IX. published an edict in which he distinguished between heretics and rebels, and assured of his protection all Huguenots who should lay down arms. Chartres seemed to be on the point of capitulating, when news came that peace had just been signed at Longjumeau, on the 23d of March. The king put again in force the edict of Amboise of 1563, suppressing all the restrictions which had been tacked on to it successively. The Prince of Conde and his adherents were reinstated in all their possessions, offices, and honors; and Conde was “held and reputed good relative, faithful subject, and servant of the king.” The Reformers had to disband, restore the new places they had occupied, and send away their German allies, to whom the king undertook to advance the hundred thousand gold crowns which were due to them. He further promised, by a secret article, that he too would at a later date dismiss his foreign troops and a portion of the French.

This news caused very various impressions amongst the Protestant camp and people. The majority of the men of family engaged in the war, who most frequently had to bear the expense of it, desired peace. The personal advantages accruing to Conde himself—made it very acceptable to him. But the ardent Reformers, with Coligny at their head, complained bitterly of others being lured away by fine words and exceptional favors, and not prosecuting the war when, to maintain it, there was so good an army and the chances were so favorable. A serious dispute took place between the pacific negotiators and the malcontents. Chancellor de l’Hospital wrote, in favor of peace, a discourse on the pacific settlement of the troubles of the year 1567, containing the necessary causes and reasons of the treaty, together with the means of reconciling the two parties to one another, and keeping them in perpetual concord; composed by a high personage, true subject, and faithful servant of the French crown. But, if the chancellor’s reasons were sound, the hopes he hung upon them were extravagant; the parties were at that pitch of passion at which reasoning is in vain against impressions, and promises are powerless against suspicions. Concluded “through the vehemence of the desire to get home again,” as La Noue says, the peace of Longjumeau was none the less known as the little peace, the patched-up peace, the lame and rickety peace; and neither they who wished for it nor they who spurned it prophesied its long continuance.

Scarcely six months having elapsed, in August, 1568, the third religious war broke out. The written guarantees given in the treaty of Longjumeau for security and liberty on behalf of the Protestants were misinterpreted or violated. Massacres and murders of Protestants became more numerous, and were committed with more impunity than ever: in 1568 and 1569, at Amiens, at Auxerre, at Orleans, at Rouen, at Bourges, at Troyes, and at Blois, Protestants, at one time to the number of one hundred and forty or one hundred and twenty, or fifty-three, or forty, and at another singly, with just their wives and children, were massacred, burned, and hunted by the excited populace, without any intervention on the part of the magistrates to protect them or to punish their murderers. The contemporary Protestant chroniclers set down at ten thousand the number of victims who perished in the course of these six months, which were called a time of peace: we may, with De Thou, believe this estimate to be exaggerated; but, without doubt, the peace of Longjumeau was a lie, even before the war began again.

During this interval Conde was living in Burgundy, at Noyers, a little fortress he possessed through his wife, Frances of Orleans, and Coligny was living not far from Noyers, at Tanlay, which belonged to his brother D’Andelot. They soon discovered, both of them, not only what their party had to suffer, but what measures were in preparation against themselves. Agents went and sounded the depth of the moats of Noyers, so as to report upon the means of taking the place. The queen-mother had orders given to Gaspard de Tavannes to surround the Prince of Conde at Noyers. “The queen is counselled by passion rather than by reason,” answered the old warrior; “I am not the sort of man to succeed in this ill-planned enterprise of distaff and pen; if her Majesty will be pleased to declare open war, I will show how I understand my duty.” Shocked at the dishonorable commands given him, Tavannes resolved to indirectly raise Conde’s apprehensions, in order to get him out of Burgundy, of which he, Tavannes, held the governorship; and he sent close past the walls of Noyers bearers of letters containing these words: “The stag is in the toils; the hunt is ready.” Conde had the bearers arrested, understood the warning, and communicated it to Coligny, who went and joined him at Noyers, and they decided, both of them, upon quitting Burgundy without delay, to go and seek over the Loire at La Rochelle, which they knew to be devoted to their cause, a sure asylum and a place suitable for their purposes as a centre of warlike operations. They set out together on the 24th of August, 1568. Conde took with him his wife and his four children, two of tender age. Coligny followed him in deep mourning; he had just lost his wife, Charlotte de Laval, that worthy mate of his, who, six years previously, in a grievous crisis for his soul as well as his cause, had given him such energetic counsels: she had left him one young daughter and three little children, the two youngest still in the nurse’s arms. His sister-in-law, Anne do Salm, wife of his brother D’Andelot, was also there with a child of two years, whilst her husband was scouring Anjou and Brittany to rally the friends of his cause and his house. A hundred and fifty men, soldiers and faithful servants, escorted these three noble and pious families, who were leaving their castles to go and seek liberties and perils in a new war. When they arrived at the bank of the Loire, they found all points in the neighborhood guarded; the river was low; and a boatman pointed out to them, near Sancerre, a possible ford. Conde went over first, with one of his children in his arms.

Conde at the Ford—-328

They all went over singing the psalm, When Israel went out of Egypt, and on the 16th of September, 1568, Conde entered La Rochelle. “I fled as far as I could,” he wrote the next day, “but when I got here I found the sea; and, inasmuch as I don’t know how to swim, I was constrained to turn my head round and gain the land, not with feet, but with hands.” He assembled the burgesses of La Rochelle, and laid before them the pitiable condition of the kingdom, the wicked designs of people who were their enemies as well as his own: he called upon them to come and help; he promised to be aidful to them in all their affairs, and, “as a pledge of my good faith,” said he, “I will leave you my wife and children, the dearest and most precious jewels I have in this world.” The mayor of La Rochelle, La Haise, responded by offering him “lives and property in the name of all the citizens,” who confirmed this offer with an outburst of popular enthusiasm. The Protestant nobles of Saintonge and Poitou flocked in. A royal ally was announced; the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, was bringing her son Henry, fifteen years of age, whom she was training up to be Henry IV. Conde went to meet them, and, on the 28th of September, 1568, all this flower of French Protestantism was assembled at La Rochelle, ready and resolved to commence the third religious war.

It was the longest and most serious of the four wars of this kind which so profoundly agitated France in the reign of Charles IX. This one lasted from the 24th of August, 1568, to the 8th of August, 1570, between the departure of Conde and Coligny for La Rochelle and the treaty of peace of St. Germain-en-Laye: a hollow peace, like the rest, and only two years before the St. Bartholomew. On starting from Noyers with Coligny, Conde had addressed to the king, on the 23d of August, a letter and a request, wherein, “after having set forth the grievances of the Reformers, he attributed all the mischief to the Cardinal of Lorraine, and declared that the Protestant nobles felt themselves constrained, for the safety of the realm, to take up arms against that infamous priest, that tiger of France, and against his accomplices.” He bitterly reproached the Guises “with treating as mere policists, that is, men who sacrifice religion to temporal interests, the Catholics inclined to make concessions to the Reformers, especially the Chancellor de l’Hospital and the sons of the late Constable de Montmorency.” The Guises, indeed, and their friends did not conceal their distrust of De l’Hospital, any more than he concealed his opposition to their deeds and their designs. Whilst the peace of Longjumeau was still in force, Charles IX. issued a decree interdicting all Reformers from the chairs of the University and the offices of the judicature; L’Hospital refused to seal it: “God save us from the chancellor’s mass!” was the remark at court. L’Hospital, convinced that he would not succeed in preserving France from a fresh civil war, made up his mind to withdraw, and go and live for some time at his estate of Vignay [a little hamlet in the commune of Gironville, near Etampes, Seine-et-Oise]. The queen-mother eagerly took advantage of his withdrawal to demand of him the seals, of which, she said, she might have need daily. L’Hospital gave them up at once, at the same time retaining his title of chancellor, and letting the queen know “that he would take pains to recover his strength in order to return to his post, if and when it should be the king’s and the queen’s pleasure.” From his rural home he wrote to his friends, “I am not downhearted because the violence of the wicked has snatched from me the seals of the kingdom. I have not done as sluggards and cowards do, who hide themselves at the first show of danger, and obey the first impulses of fear. As long as I was strong enough, I held my own. Deprived of all support, even that of the king and the queen, who dared no longer defend me, I retired, deploring the unhappy condition of France. Now I have other cares; I return to my interrupted studies and to my children, the props of my old age and my sweetest delight. I cultivate my fields. The estate of Vignay seems to me a little kingdom, if any man may consider himself master of anything here below. . . . I will tell you more; this retreat, which satisfies my heart, also flatters my vanity; I like to imagine myself in the wake of those famous exiles of Athens or Rome whom their virtues rendered formidable to their fellow-citizens. Not that I dare compare myself with those great men, but I say to myself that our fortunes are similar. I live in the midst of a numerous family whom I love; I have books; I read, write, and meditate; I take pleasure in the games of my children; the most frivolous occupations interest me. In fine, all my time is filled up, and nothing would be wanting to my happiness if it were not for the awful apparition hard by which sometimes comes, bringing trouble and desolation to my heart.”

This “apparition hard by” was war, everywhere present or imminent in the centre and south-west of France, accompanied by all those passions of personal hatred and vengeance which are characteristic of religious wars, and which add so much of the moral sufferings to the physical calamities of life. L’Hospital, when sending the seals to the queen-mother, who demanded them of him, considered it his bounden duty to give her without any mincing, and the king whom she governed, a piece of patriotic advice. “At my departure,” he says in his will and testament, “I prayed of the king and queen this thing, that, as they had determined to break the peace, and proceed by war against those with whom they had previously made peace, and as they were driving me from the court because they had heard it said that I was opposed to and ill content with their enterprise, I prayed them, I say, that if they did not acquiesce in my counsel, they would, at the very least, some time after they had glutted and satiated their hearts and their thirst with the blood of their subjects, embrace the first opportunity that offered itself for making peace, before that things were reduced to utter ruin; for, whatever there might be at the bottom of this war, it could not but be very pernicious to the king and the kingdom.” During the two years that it lasted, from August, 1568, to August, 1570, the third religious war under Charles IX. entailed two important battles and many deadly faction-fights, which spread and inflamed to the highest pitch the passions of the two parties. On the 13th of March, 1569, the two armies, both about twenty thousand strong, and appearing both of them anxious to come to blows, met near Jarnac, on the banks of the Charente; the royal army had for its chief Catherine de’ Medici’s third son, Henry, Duke of Anjou, advised by the veteran warrior Gaspard de Tavannes, and supported by the young Duke Henry of Guise, who had his father to avenge and his own spurs to win.

Henry of Lorraine (duke Of Guise)——332
The Prince of Conde, with Admiral de Coligny for second, commanded the
Protestant army.  We make no pretension to explain and discuss here the
military movements of that day, and the merits or demerits of the two
generals confronted; the Duke of Aumale has given an account of them and
criticised them in his Histoire des Princes de Conde, with a complete
knowledge of the facts and with the authority that belongs to him.  “The
encounter on the 13th of March, 1569, scarcely deserves,” he says, “to be
called a battle; it was nothing but a series of fights, maintained by
troops separated and surprised, against an enemy which, more numerous to
begin with, was attacking with its whole force united.”.  A tragic
incident at the same time gave this encounter an importance which it has
preserved in history.  Admiral de Coligny, forced to make a retrograde
movement, had sent to ask the Prince of Conde for aid; by a second
message he urged the prince not to make a fruitless effort, and to fall
back himself in all haste.  “God forbid,” answered Conde, “that Louis de
Bourbon should turn his back to the enemy!” and he continued his march,
saying to his brother-in-law, Francis de la Rochefoucauld, who was
marching beside him, “My uncle has made a ‘clerical error’ (pas de
clerc, a slip); but the wine is drawn, and it must be drunk.”  On
arriving at the battle-field, whither he had brought with him but three
hundred horse, at the very moment when, with this weak escort, he was
preparing to charge the deep column of the Duke of Anjou, he received
from La Rochefoucauld’s horse a kick which broke one of the bones of his
leg; and he had already crushed an arm by a fall.  We will borrow from
the Duke of Aumale the glorious and piteous tale of this incident.
“Conde turned round to his men-at-arms, and showing first his injured
limbs and then the device, ‘Sweet is danger for Christ and for
fatherland!’ which fluttered upon his banner in the breeze, ‘Nobles of
France,’ he cried, ‘this is the desired moment Remember in what plight
Louis de Bourbon enters the battle for Christ and fatherland!’  Then,
lowering his head, he charges with his three hundred horse upon the eight
hundred lances of the Duke of Anjou.  The first shock of this charge was
irresistible; such for a moment was the disorder amongst the Catholics
that many of them believed the day was lost; but fresh bodies of
royalists arrive one after another.  The prince has his horse killed
under him; and, in the midst of the confusion, hampered by his wounds, he
cannot mount another.  In spite of all, his brave comrades do not desert
him; Soubise and a dozen of them, covered with wounds, are taken; an old
man, named La Vergne, who had brought with him twenty-five sons or
nephews, is left upon the field with fifteen of them, ‘all in a heap,’
says D’Aubigne.  Left almost alone, with his back against a tree, one
knee upon the ground, and deprived of the use of one leg, Conde still
defends himself; but his strength is failing him; he sees two Catholic
gentlemen to whom he had rendered service, Saint-Jean and D’Argence; he
calls to them, raises the vizor of his helmet, and holds out to them his
gauntlets.  The two horsemen dismount, and swear to risk their lives to
save his.  Others join them, and are eager to assist the glorious
captive.  Meanwhile the royal cavalry continues the pursuit; the
squadrons successively pass close by the group which has formed round
Conde.  Soon he spies the red cloaks of the Duke of Anjou’s guards.  He
points to them with his finger.  D’Argence understands him, and, ‘Hide
your face!’ he cries.  ‘Ah D’Argence, D’Argence, you will not save me,’
replies the prince.  Then, like Caesar, covering up his face, he awaited
death the poor soul knew only too well the perfidious character of the
Duke of Anjou, the hatred with which he was hunting him down, and the
sanguinary orders he would give.  The guards had gone by when their
captain, Montesquion, learned the name of this prisoner.  ‘Slay, slay,
mordioux!’ he shouted; then suddenly wheeling his horse round, he returns
at a gallop, and with a pistol-shot, fired from behind, shatters the
hero’s skull.”  [Histoire des Princes de Conde, by M. le Duc d’Aumale,
t. ii.  pp. 65-72.]

The death of Conde gave to the battle of Jarnac an importance not its own. A popular ditty of the day called that prince “the great enemy of the mass.” “His end,” says the Duke of Aumale, “was celebrated by the Catholics as a deliverance; a solemn Te Deum was chanted at court and in all the churches of France. The flags taken were sent to Rome, where Pope Pius IV. went with them in state to St. Peter’s. As for the Duke of Anjou, he showed his joy and his baseness together by the ignoble treatment he caused to be inflicted upon the remains of his vanquished relative, a prince of the blood who had fallen sword in hand. At the first rumor of Conde’s death, the Duke of Montpensier’s secretary, Coustureau, had been despatched from headquarters with Baron de Magnac to learn the truth of the matter. ‘We found him there,’ he relates, ‘laid upon an ass; the said sir baron took him by the hair of the head for to lift up his face, which he had turned towards the ground, and asked me if I recognized him. But as he had lost an eye from his head, he was mightily disfigured; and I could say no more than it was certainly his figure and his hair, and further than that I was unable to speak.’ Meanwhile,” continues the Duke of Aumale, “the accounts of those present removed all doubt; and the corpse, thus thrown across an ass, with arms and legs dangling, was carried to Jarnac, where the Duke of Anjou lodged on the evening of the battle. There the body of Conde was taken down amidst the sobs of some Protestant prisoners, who kissed, as they wept, the remains of their gallant chief. This touching spectacle did not stop the coarse ribaldry of the Duke of Anjou and his favorites; and for two days the prince’s remains were left in a ground-floor room, there exposed to the injurious action of the air and, to the gross insults of the courtiers. The Duke of Anjou at last consented to give up the body of Conde to the Duke of Longueville, his brother-in-law, who had it interred with due respect at Vendome in the burial-place of his ancestors.”

When in 1569 he thus testified, from a mixture of hatred and fear, an ignoble joy at the death of Louis de Conde, the valiant chief of Protestantism, the Duke of Anjou did not foresee that, nearly twenty years later, in 1588, when he had become Henry III., King of France, he would also testify, still from a mixture of hatred and fear, the same ignoble joy at sight of the corpse of Henry de Guise, the valiant chief of Catholicism, murdered by his order and in his palace.

As soon as Conde’s death was known at La Rochelle, the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, hurried to Tonnay-Charente, whither the Protestant army had fallen back; she took with her her own son Henry, fifteen years old, and Henry de Bourbon, the late Prince of Conde’s son, who was seventeen; and she presented both of them to the army. The younger, the future Henry IV., stepped forward briskly. “Your cause,” said he, “is mine; your interests are mine; I swear on my soul, honor, and life, to be wholly yours.” The young Conde took the same oath. The two princes were associated in the command, under the authority of Coligny, who was immediately appointed lieutenant-general of the army. For two years their double signature figured at the bottom of the principal official acts of the Reformed party; and they were called “the admiral’s pages.” On both of them Jeanne passionately enjoined union between themselves, and equal submission on their part to Coligny, their model and their master in war and in devotion to the common cause. Queen, princes, admiral, and military leaders of all ranks stripped themselves of all the diamonds, jewels, and precious stones which they possessed, and which Elizabeth, the Queen of England, took in pledge for the twenty thousand pounds sterling she lent him. The Queen of Navarre reviewed the army, which received her with bursts of pious and warlike enthusiasm; and leaving to Coligny her two sons, as she called them, she returned alone to La Rochelle, where she received a like reception from the inhabitants, “rough and loyal people,” says La Noue, “and as warlike as mercantile.” After her departure, a body of German horse, commanded by Count Mansfeld, joined Coligny in the neighborhood of Limoges. Their arrival was an unhoped-for aid. Coligny distributed amongst them a medal bearing the effigy of Queen Jeanne of Navarre with this legend: “Alone, and with the rest, for God, the king, the laws, and peace.”

With such dispositions on one side and the other, war was resumed and pushed forward eagerly from June, 1569, to June, 1570, with alternations of reverse and success. On the 23d of June, 1569, a fight took place at Roche l’Abeille, near St. Yrieix in Limousin, wherein the Protestants had the advantage. The young Catholic noblemen, with Henry de Guise at their head, began it rashly, against the desire of their general, Gaspard de Tavannes, to show off their bravery before the eyes of the queen-mother and the Cardinal of Lorraine, both of whom considered the operations of the army too slow and its successes too rare. They lost five hundred men and many prisoners, amongst others Philip Strozzi, whom Charles IX. had just made colonel-general of the infantry. They took their revenge on the 7th of September, 1569, by forcing Coligny to raise the siege of Poitiers, which he had been pushing forward for more than two months, and on the 3d of October following, at the battle of Moncontour in Poitou, the most important of the campaign, which they won brilliantly, and in which the Protestant army lost five or six thousand men and a great part of their baggage. Before the action began, “two gentlemen on the side of the Catholics, being in an out-of-the-way spot, came to speech,” says La Noue, “with some of the (Protestant) religion, there being certain ditches between them.

Parley Before the Battle of Moncontour——337

‘Sirs,’ said they, ‘we bear the marks of enemies, but we do not hate you in any wise, or your party. Warn the admiral to be very careful not to fight, for our army is marvellously strong by reason of re-enforcements that have come in to it, and it is very determined withal. Let the admiral temporize for a month only, for all the nobles have sworn and said to Monseigneur that they will not wait any longer, that he must employ them within that time, and they will then do their duty. Let the admiral remember that it is dangerous to stem the fury of Frenchmen, the which, however, will suddenly ooze away; if they have not victory speedily, they will be constrained to make peace, and will offer it you on advantageous terms. Tell him that we know this from a good source, and greatly desired to advertise him of it.’ Afterwards they retired. The others,” continues La Noue, “went incontinently to the admiral for to make their report, which was to his taste. They told it also to others of the principals; and some there were who desired that it should be acted upon; but the majority opined that this notice came from suspected persons, who had been accustomed to practise fraud and deceit, and that no account should be made of it.” The latter opinion prevailed; and the battle of Moncontour was fought with extreme acrimony, especially on the part of the Catholics, who were irritated by the cruelties, as La Noue himself says, which the Protestants had but lately practised at the fight of La Roche l’Abeille. Coligny was wounded in the action, after having killed with his own hand the Marquis Philibert of Baden; and the melley had been so hot that the admiral’s friends found great difficulty in extricating him and carrying him off the field to get his wound attended to. Three weeks before the battle, on the 13th of September, Coligny had been sentenced to death by the Parliament of Paris, and hanged in effigy on the Place de Greve; and a reward of fifty thousand gold crowns had been offered to whosoever should give him up to the king’s justice dead or alive, words added, it is said, to the decree at the desire of Charles IX. himself. Family sorrows were in Coligny’s case added to political reverses; on the 27th of May, in this same year 1569, he had lost his brother D’Andelot, his faithful comrade in his religious as well as his warlike career. “He found himself,” says D’Aubigne, “saddled with the blame due to accident, his own merits being passed over in silence; with the remnant of an army which, when it was whole, was in despair even before the late disaster; with weak towns, dismayed garrisons, and foreigners without baggage; himself moneyless, his enemies very powerful, and pitiless towards all, especially towards him; abandoned by all the great, except one woman, the Queen of Navarre, who, having nothing but the title, had advanced to Niort in order to lend a hand to the afflicted and to affairs in general. This old man, worn down by fever, endured all these causes of anguish and many others that came to rack him more painfully than his grievous wound. As he was being borne along in a litter, Lestrange, an old nobleman, and one of his principal counsellors, travelling in similar fashion, and wounded likewise, had his own litter, where the road was broad, moved forward in front of the admiral’s, and putting his head out at the door, he looked steadily at his chief, saying, with tears in his eyes, ‘Yet God is very merciful.’ Thereupon they bade one another farewell, perfectly at one in thought, without being able to say more. This great captain confessed to his intimates that these few friendly words restored him, and set him up again in the way of good thoughts and firm resolutions for the future.” He was so much restored, that, between the end of 1569 and the middle of 1570, he marched through the south and the centre of France the army which he had reorganized, and with which, wherever he went, he restored, if not security, at any rate confidence and zeal, to his party.

On arriving at Arnay-le-Duc, in Burgundy, he found himself confronted by Marshal de Cosse with thirteen thousand men of the king’s troops. Coligny had barely half as many; but he did not hesitate to attack, and on the 13th of June, 1570, he was so near victory that the road was left open before him. On the 7th of July he arrived at Charite-sur-Loire. Alarm prevailed at Paris. A truce for ten days was signed, and negotiations were reopened for a fresh attempt at peace.

“If any one, in these lamentable wars, worked hard, both with body and mind,” says La Noue, “it may be said to have been the admiral, for, as regards the greatest part of the burden of military affairs and hardships, it was he who supported them with much constancy and buoyancy; and he was as respectful in his bearing towards the princes his superiors as he was modest towards his inferiors. He always had piety in singular esteem, and a love of justice, which made him valued and honored by them of the party which he had embraced. He did not seek ambitiously for commands and honors; they were thrust upon him because of his competence and his expertness. When he handled arms and armies, he showed that he was very conversant with them, as much so as any captain of his day, and he always exposed himself courageously to danger. In difficulties, he was observed to be full of magnanimity and resource in getting out of them, always showing himself quite free from swagger and parade. In short, he was a personage worthy to re-establish an enfeebled and a corrupted state. I was fain to say these few words about him in passing, for, having known him and been much with him, and having profited by his teaching, I should have been wrong if I had not made truthful and honorable mention of him.” [Memoires de La Noue, in the Petitot collection, 1st series, t. xxxiv. p. 288.]

The negotiations were short. The war had been going on for two years. The two parties, victorious and vanquished by turns, were both equally sick of it. In vain did Philip II., King of Spain, offer Charles IX. an aid of nine thousand men to continue it. In vain did Pope Pius V. write to Catherine de’ Medici, “As there can be no communion between Satan and the children of the light, it ought to be taken for certain that there can be no compact between Catholics and heretics, save one full of fraud and feint.” “We have beaten our enemies,” says Montluc, “over and over again; but notwithstanding that, they had so much influence in the king’s council that the decrees were always to their advantage. We won by arms, but they won by those devils of documents.” Peace was concluded at St. Germain-en-Laye on the 8th of August, 1570, and it was more equitable and better for the Reformers than the preceding treaties; for, besides a pretty large extension as regarded free exercise of their worship and their civil rights in the state, it granted “for two years, to the princes of Navarre and Conde and twenty noblemen of the religion, who were appointed by the king, the wardenship of the towns of La Rochelle, Cognac, Montauban, and La Charite, whither those of the religion who dared not return so soon to their own homes might retire.” All the members of the Parliament, all the royal and municipal officers, and the principal inhabitants of the towns where the two religions existed were further bound over on oath “to maintenance of the edict.”

Peace was made; but it was the third in seven years, and very shortly after each new treaty civil war had recommenced. No more was expected from the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye than had been effected by those of Amboise and Longjumeau, and on both sides men sighed for something more stable and definitive. By what means to be obtained and with what pledges of durability? A singular fact is apparent between 1570 and 1572; there is a season, as it were, of marriages and matrimonial rejoicings. Charles IX. went to receive at the frontier of his kingdom his affianced bride, Archduchess Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the emperor, Maximilian II., who was escorted by the Archbishop of Treves, chancellor of the empire; the nuptials were celebrated at Mezieres, on the 26th of November, 1570; the princes and great lords of the Protestant party were invited; they did not think it advisable to withdraw themselves from their asylum at La Rochelle; but Coligny wrote to the queen-mother to excuse himself, whilst protesting his forgetfulness of the past and his personal devotion. Four months afterwards, Coligny himself married again; it was three years since he had lost his noble wife, Charlotte de Laval, and he had not contemplated anything of the kind, when, in the concluding weeks of 1570, he received from the castle of St. Andre de Briord, in Le Bugey, a letter from a great lady, thirty years of age, Jacqueline de Montbel, daughter of Count d’Entremont, herself a widow, who wrote to him “that she would fain marry a saint and a hero, and that he was that hero.” “I am but a tomb,” replied Coligny. But Jacqueline persisted, in spite of the opposition shown by her sovereign, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, who did not like his fair subjects to marry foreigners; and in February, 1571, she furtively quitted her castle, dropped down the Rhone in a boat as far as Lyons, mounted on horseback, and, escorted by five devoted friends, arrived at La Rochelle. All Coligny’s friends were urgent for him to accept this passionate devotion proffered by a lady who would bring him territorial possessions valuable to the Protestants, “for they were an open door to Geneva.” Coligny accepted; and the marriage took place at La Rochelle on the 24th of March, 1571. “Madame Jacqueline wore, on this occasion,” says a contemporary chronicler, “a skirt in the Spanish fashion, of black gold-tissue, with bands of embroidery in gold and silver twist, and, above, a doublet of white silver-tissue embroidered in gold, with large diamond-buttons.” She was, nevertheless, at that moment almost as poor as the German arquebusiers who escorted her litter; for an edict issued by the Duke of Savoy on the 31st of January, 1569, caused her the loss of all her possessions in her own country. She was received in France with the respect due to her; and when, five months after the marriage, Charles; IX. summoned Coligny to Paris, “to serve him in his most important affairs, as a worthy minister, whose virtues were sufficiently known and tried,” he sent at the same time to Madame l’Amirale a safe-conduct in which he called her my fair cousin. Was there any one belonging to that august and illustrious household who had, at that time, a presentiment of their impending and tragic destiny?

At the same period, the Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, obtained for her young nephew, Henry de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, son of the hero of Jarnac, and companion of Henry of Navarre, the hand of his cousin, Mary of Cleves; and there was still going on in London, on behalf of one of Charles IX.‘s brothers,—at one time the Duke of Anjou and at another the Duke of Alencon,—the negotiation which was a vain attempt to make Queen Elizabeth espouse a French prince.

Coincidently with all these marriages or projects of marriage amongst princes and great lords came the most important of all, that which was to unite Henry of Navarre and Charles IX.‘s sister, Marguerite de Valois. There had already, thirteen or fourteen years previously, been some talk about it, in the reign of King Henry II., when Henry of Navarre and Margaret de Valois, each born in 1553, were both of them mere babies. This union between the two branches of the royal house, one Catholic and the other Protestant, ought to have been the most striking sign and the surest pledge of peace between Catholicism and Protestantism. The political expediency of such a step appeared the more evident and the more urgent in proportion as the religious war had become more direful and the desire for peace more general. Charles IX. embraced the idea passionately. At the outset he encountered an obstacle. The young Duke of Guise had already paid court to Marguerite, and had obtained such marked favor with her that the ambassador of Spain wrote to the king, “There is no public topic in France just now save the marriage of my Lady Marguerite with the Duke of Guise.” People even talked of a tender correspondence between the princess and the duke, which was carried on through one of the queen’s ladies, the Countess of Mirandola, who was devoted to the Guises and a favorite with Marguerite. “If it be so,” said Charles IX., savagely, “we will kill him;” and he gave such peremptory orders on this subject, that Henry de Guise, somewhat disquieted, avoided for a while taking part in the royal hunts, and thought it well that there should be resumed on his behalf a project of marriage with Catherine of Cleves, widow of the Prince of Portien (Le Porcien) and the wealthy heiress to some great domains, especially the countship of Eu. So long as he had some hope of marrying Marguerite de Valois, the Duke of Guise had repudiated, not without offensiveness, all idea of union with Catherine of Cleves. “Anybody who can make me marry the Princess of Portien,” said he, “could make me marry a negress.” He, nevertheless, contracted this marriage, so greatly disdained, on the 4th of October, 1570; and at this price recovered the good graces of Charles IX. The queen-mother charged the Cardinal Louis de Lorraine, him whom the people called Cardinal Bottles (from his conviviality), to publicly give the lie to any rumor of a possible engagement between her daughter Marguerite and Henry de Guise; and a grand council of the kings, after three holdings, adopted in principle the marriage of Marguerite de Valois with “the little Prince of Bearn.”

Charles IX. at once set his hand to the work to turn this resolution to good account, being the only means, he said, of putting a stop at last to this incessantly renewed civil war, which was the plague of his life as well as of his kingdom. He first of all sent Marshal de Cosse to La Rochelle, to sound Coligny as to his feelings upon this subject, and to urge him to thus cut short public woes and the Reformers’ grievances. “The king has always desired peace,” said the marshal; “he wishes it to be lasting; he has proved only too well, to his own misery and that of his people, that of all the evils which can afflict a state, the most direful is civil war. But what means this withdrawal, since the signing of peace at St. Germain, of the Queen of Navarre and her children, of the Prince of Conde, and so many lords and distinguished nobles, still separated from their houses and their families, and collected together in a town like Rochelle, which has great advantages by land and sea for all those who would fain begin the troubles again? Why have they not returned home? During the hottest part of the war, they ardently desired to see once more their houses, their wives, and their children; and now, when peace leaves them free to do so, they prefer to remain in a land which is in some sort foreign, and where, in addition to great expenses, they are deprived of the conveniences they would find at home. The king cannot make out such absurdity; or, rather, he is very apprehensive that this long stay means the hatching of some evil design.” The Protestants defended themselves warmly against this supposition; they alleged, in explanation of their persistent disquietude, the very imperfect execution of the conditions granted by the peace of St. Germain, and the insults, the attacks which they had still to suffer in many parts of the kingdom, and quite recently at Rouen and at Orange. The king attempted, without any great success, to repress these disorders amongst the populace. The Queen of Navarre, the two princes, Coligny, and many Protestant lords remained still at La Rochelle, where was being held at this time a general synod of the Reformed churches. Charles IX. sent thither Marshal de Biron, with formal orders to negotiate the marriage of Marguerite de Valois and the Prince of Navarre, and to induce that prince, his mother the Queen of Navarre, and Coligny to repair to the court in order to conclude the matter. The young prince was at that time in Warn. The queen, his mother, answered, “That she would consult her spiritual advisers, and, as soon as her conscience was at rest, there were no conditions she would not accept with a view of giving satisfaction to the king and the queen, of marking her obedience and respect towards them, and of securing the tranquillity of the state, an object for which she would willingly sacrifice her own life. . . . But,” she added, “I would rather sink to the condition of the humblest damoisel in France than sacrifice to the aggrandizement of my family my own soul and my son’s.”

In September, 1571, Charles IX. and the queen-mother repaired to Blois; and at their urgent request Coligny went thither to talk over the projected marriage and the affairs of Europe. The king received him with emotional satisfaction, calling him my father, and saying to him, “Now we have you, and you shall not escape us when you wish to.” Jeanne d’Albret, more distrustful, or, one ought rather to say, more clear-sighted, refused to leave La Rochelle, and continued to negotiate vaguely and from a distance. Catherine de’ Medici insisted. “Satisfy,” she wrote to her, “the extreme desire we have to see you in this company; you will be loved and honored therein as accords with reason and with what you are.” Jeanne still waited. It was only in the following year, at the end of January, that, having earnestly exhorted her son “to remain Bearn-wards whilst she was at the court of France,” she set out for Blois, where Charles IX. received her most affectionately, calling her my good aunt, my dear aunt, and lavishing upon her promises as well as endearments. Jeanne was a strict and a judicious person; and the manners and proceedings of the court at Blois displeased her. On the 8th of March, 1572, she wrote to her son, “I find it necessary to negotiate quite contrariwise to what I had expected and what had been promised me; I have no liberty to speak to the king or my Lady Marguerite, only to the queen-mother, who treats me as if I were dirt. . . . Seeing, then, that no advance is made, and that the desire is to make me hurry matters, and not conduct them orderly, I have thrice spoken thereof to the queen, who does nothing but make a fool of me, and tell everybody the opposite of what I told her; in such sort that my friends find fault with me, and I know not how to bring her to book, for when I say to her, ‘Madame, it is reported that I said so-and-so to you,’ though it was she herself who reported it, she denies it flatly, and laughs in my face, and uses me in such wise that you might really say that my patience passes that of Griselda. . . . Thenceforward I have a troop of Huguenots, who come to converse with me, rather for the purpose of being spies upon me than of assisting me. Then I have some of another humor, who hamper me no less, and who are religious hermaphrodites. I defend myself as best I may. . . I am sure that if you only knew the trouble I am in, you would have pity upon me, for they give me empty speeches and raillery instead of treating with me gravely, as the matter deserves; in such sort that I am bursting, because I am so resolved not to lose my temper that my patience is a miracle to see. . . . I found your letter very much to my taste; I will show, it to my Lady Marguerite if I can. She is beautiful, and discreet, and of good demeanor, but brought up in the most accursed and most corrupt society that ever was. I would not, for anything in the world, have you here to remain here. That is why I desire to get you married, and you and your wife withdraw from this corruption; for though I believed it to be very great, I find it still more so. Here it is not the men who solicit the women; it is the women who solicit the men. If you were here, you would never escape without a great deal of God’s grace.”

Admiral Gaspard de Coligny——346

Side by side with this motherly and Christianly scrupulous negotiation, Coligny set on foot another, noble and dignified also, but even less in harmony with the habits and bent of the government which it concerned. The puritan warrior was at the same time an ardent patriot: he had at heart the greatness of France as much as he had his personal creed; the reverses of Francis I. and the preponderance of Spain in Europe oppressed his spirit with a sense of national decadence, from which he wanted France to lift herself up again. The moment appeared to him propitious; let the king ally himself with Queen Elizabeth of England, the Prince of Orange in the Low Countries, and the Protestant princes of Germany; here was for France a certain guarantee of power in Europe, and at the same time a natural opportunity for conquering Flanders, a possession so necessary to her strength and her security. But high above this policy, so thoroughly French, towered a question still more important than that of even the security and the grandeur of France; that was the partition of Europe between Catholicism and Protestantism; and it was in a country Catholic in respect of the great majority, and governed by a kingship with which Catholicism was hereditary, that, in order to put a stop to civil war between French Catholics and Protestants, Coligny pressed the king to put himself at the head of an essentially Protestant coalition, and make it triumphant in Europe. This was, in the sixteenth century, a policy wholly chimerical, however patriotic its intention may have been; and the French Protestant hero who recommended it to Charles IX. did not know that Protestantism was on the eve of the greatest disaster it would have to endure in France.

A fact of a personal character tended to mislead Coligny. By his renown, by the loftiness of his views, by the earnest gravity of his character and his language he had produced a great effect upon Charles IX., a young king of warm imagination and impressible and sympathetic temperament, but, at the same time, of weak judgment. He readily gave way, in Coligny’s company, to outpourings which had all the appearance of perfect and involuntary frankness. “Speaking one day to the admiral about the course of conduct to be adopted as to the enterprise against Flanders, and well knowing that the queen-mother lay under his suspicion, ‘My dear father,’ said he, ‘there is one thing herein of which we must take good heed; and that is, that the queen, my mother, who likes to poke her nose everywhere, as you know, learn nothing of this enterprise, at any rate as regards the main spring of it, for she would spoil all for us.’ ‘As you please, sir; but I take her to be so good a mother, and so devoted to the welfare of your kingdom, that when she knows of it she will do nothing to spoil it.’ ‘You are mistaken, my dear father,’ said the king; ‘leave it to me only; I see quite well that you do not know my mother; she is the greatest meddler in all the world.’” Another time, when he was speaking likewise to Teligny, Coligny’s son-in-law, about this enterprise against Flanders, the king said, “Wouldst have me speak to thee freely, Teligny? I distrust all these gentry; I am suspicious of Tavannes’ ambition; Vieilleville loves nothing but good wine; Cosse is too covetous; Montmorency cares only for his hunting and hawking; the Count de Retz is a Spaniard; the other lords of my court and those of my council are mere blockheads; my Secretaries of State, to hide nothing of what I think, are not faithful to me; insomuch that, to tell the truth, I know not at what end to begin.” This tone of freedom and confidence had inspired Coligny with reciprocal confidence; he believed himself to have a decisive influence over the king’s ideas and conduct; and when the Protestants testified their distrust upon this subject, he reproached them vehemently for it; he affirmed the king’s good intentions and sincerity; and he considered himself in fact, said Catherine de’ Medici with temper, “a second king of France.”

How much sincerity was there about these outpourings of Charles IX. in his intercourse with Coligny, and how much reality in the admiral’s influence over the king? We are touching upon that great historical question which has been so much disputed: was the St. Bartholomew a design, long ago determined upon and prepared for, of Charles IX. and his government, or an almost sudden resolution, brought about by events and the situation of the moment, to which Charles IX. was egged on, not without difficulty, by his mother Catherine and his advisers?

We recall to mind here what was but lately said in this very chapter as to the condition of minds and morals in the sixteenth century, and as to the tragic consequences of it. Massacre, we add no qualifying term to the word, was an idea, a habit, we might say almost a practice, familiar to that age, and one which excited neither the surprise nor the horror which are inseparable from it in our day. So little respect for human life and for truth was shown in the relations between man and man! Not that those natural sentiments, which do honor to the human race, were completely extinguished in the hearts of men; they reappeared here and there as a protest against the vices and the crimes of the period; but they were too feeble and too rare to struggle effectually against the sway of personal passions and interests, against atrocious hatreds and hopes, against intellectual aberrations and moral corruption. To betray and to kill were deeds so common that they caused scarcely any astonishment, and that people were almost resigned to them beforehand. We have cited fifteen or twenty cases of the massacres which in the reign of Charles IX., from 1562 to 1572, grievously troubled and steeped in blood such and such a part of France, without leaving any lasting traces in history. Previously to the massacre called the St. Bartholomew, the massacre of Vassy is almost the only one which received and kept its true name. The massacre of Vassy was, undoubtedly, an accident, a deed not at all forecast or prepared for. The St. Bartholomew massacre was an event for a long time forecast and announced, promised to the Catholics and thrown out as a threat to the Protestants, written beforehand, so to speak, in the history of the religious wars of France, but, nevertheless, at the moment at which it was accomplished, and in the mode of its accomplishment, a deed unexpected so far as the majority of the victims were concerned, and a cause of contest even amongst its originators. Accordingly it was, from the very first, a subject of surprise and horror, throughout Europe as well as in France; not only because of the torrents of blood that were shed, but also because of the extraordinary degree in which it was characterized by falsehood and ferocious hatred.

We will bring forward in support of this double assertion only such facts and quotations as appear to us decisive.

In 1565, Charles IX. and Catherine de’ Medici had an interview at Bayonne with the Duke of Alba, representative of Philip II., to consult as to the means of delivering France from heretics. “They agreed at last,” says the contemporary historian Adriani [continuer of Guicciardini; he had drawn his information from the Journal of Cosmo de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who died in 1574], “in the opinion of the Catholic king, who thought that this great blessing could not have accomplishment save by the death of all the chiefs of the Huguenots, and by a new edition, as the saying was, of the Sicilian Vespers. ‘Take the big fish,’ said the Duke of Alba, ‘and let the small fry go; one salmon is worth more than a thousand frogs.’ They decided that the deed should be done at Moulins in Bourbonness, whither the king was to return. The execution of it was afterwards deferred to the date of the St. Bartholomew, in 1572, at Paris, because of certain suspicions which had been manifested by the Huguenots, and because it was considered easier and more certain to get them all together at Paris than at Moulins.”

Catherine de’ Medici charged Cardinal Santa Croce to assure Pope Pius V. “that she and her son had nothing more at heart than to get the admiral and all his confidants together some day and make a massacre (un macello) of them; but the matter,” she said, “was so difficult that there was no possibility of promising to do it at one time more than at another.”

La Noue bears witness in his Memoires to “the resolution taken at Bayonne, with the Duke of Alba aiding, to exterminate the Huguenots of France and the beggars (gueux) of Flanders; whereof warning had been given by those about whom there was no doubt. All these things, and many others as to which I am silent, mightily waked up those,” he adds, “who had no desire to be caught napping. And I remember that the chiefs of the religion held, within a short time, three meetings, as well at Valeri as at Chatillon, to deliberate upon present occurrences, and to seek out legitimate and honorable expedients for securing themselves against so much alarm, without having recourse to extreme remedies.”

De Thou regards these facts as certain, and, after having added some details, he sums them all up in the words, “This is what passed at Bayonne in 1565.”

In 1571, after the third religious war and the peace of St. Germain-en-Laye, Marshal de Tavaunes wrote to Charles IX., “Peace has a chance of lasting, because neither of the two parties is willing or able to renew open war; but, if one of the two sees quite a safe opportunity for putting a complete end to what is at the root of the question, this it will take; for to remain forever in the state now existing is what nobody can or ought to hope for. And there is no such near approximation to a complete victory as to take the persons. For to surprise what they (the Reformers) hold, to put down their religion, and to break off all at once the alliances which support them—this is impossible. Thus there is no way but to take the chiefs all together for to make an end of it.”

Next year, on the 24th of August, 1572, when the St. Bartholomew broke out, Tavannes took care to himself explain what he meant in 1571 by those words, to take the chiefs all together for to make an end of it. Being invested with the command in Paris, “he went about the city all day,” says Brantome, “and, seeing so much blood spilt, he said and shouted to the people, ‘Bleed, bleed; the doctors say that bleeding is as good all through this month of August as in May.’”

In the year which preceded the outbreak of the massacre, when the marriage of Marguerite de Valois with the Prince of Navarre was agreed upon, and Coligny was often present at court, sometimes at Blois and sometimes at Paris, there arose between the king and the queen-mother a difference which there had been up to that time nothing to foreshadow. It was plain that the union between the two branches, Catholic and Protestant, of the royal house and the patriotic policy of Coligny were far more pleasing to Charles IX. than to his mother.

On the matrimonial question the king’s feeling was so strong that he expressed it roughly. Jeanne d’Albret having said to him one day that the pope would make them wait a long while for the dispensation requested for the marriage, “No, no, my clear aunt,” said the king; “I honor you more than I do the pope, and I love my sister more than I fear him. I am not a Huguenot, but no more am I an ass. If the pope has too much of his nonsense, I will myself take Margot by the hand and carry her off to be married in open conventicle.” Toligny, for his part, was so pleased with the measures that Charles IX. had taken in favor of the Low Countries in their quarrels with Philip II., and so confident himself of his influence over the king, that when Tavannes was complaining in his presence “that the vanquished should make laws for the victors,” Coligny said to his face, “Whoever is not for war with Spain is not a good Frenchman, and has the red cross inside him.” The Catholics were getting alarmed and irritated. The Guises and their partisans left the court. It was near the time fixed for the marriage of Henry of Navarre and Marguerite de Valois; the new pope, Gregory XIII., who had at first shown more pliancy than his predecessor Pius V., attached to the dispensation conditions to which neither the intended husband nor King Charles IX. himself was inclined to consent. The Queen of Navarre, Jeanne d’Albret, who had gone to Paris in preparation for the marriage, had died there on the 8th of June, 1572; a death which had given rise to very likely ill-founded accusations of poisoning. “A princess,” says D’Aubigne, “with nothing of a woman but the sex, with a soul full of everything manly, a mind fit to cope with affairs of moment, and a heart invincible in adversity.” It was in deep mourning that her son, become King of Navarre, arrived at court, attended by eight hundred gentlemen, all likewise in mourning. “But,” says Marguerite de Valois herself, “the nuptials took place a few days afterwards with such triumph and magnificence as none others of my quality; the King of Navarre and his troop having changed their mourning for very rich and fine clothes, and I being dressed royally, with crown and corset of tufted ermine, all blazing with crown-jewels, and the grand blue mantle with a train four ells long borne by three princesses, the people choking one another down below to see us pass.” The marriage was celebrated on the 18th of August, by the Cardinal of Bourbon, in front of the principal entrance of Notre-Dame. When the Princess Marguerite was asked if she consented, she appeared to hesitate a moment; but King Charles IX. put his hand a little roughly on her head, and made her lower it in token of assent. Accompanied by the king, the queen-mother, and all the Catholics present, Marguerite went to hear mass in the choir; Henry and his Protestant friends walked about the cloister and the nave; Marshal de Damville pointed out to Coligny the flags, hanging from the vaulted roof of Notre-Dame, which had been taken from the vanquished at the battle of Moncontour. “I hope,” said the admiral, “that they will soon have others better suited for lodgement in this place.” He was already dreaming of victories over the Spaniards.

Meanwhile Charles IX. was beginning to hesitate. He was quite willing to disconnect himself from the King of Spain, and even to incur his displeasure, but not to be actively embroiled with him and make war upon him; he could not conceal from himself that this policy, thoroughly French though it was, was considered in France too Protestant for a Catholic king. Coligny urged him vehemently. “If you want men,” he said, “I have ten thousand at your service;” whereupon Tavannes said to the king, “Sir, whoever of your subjects uses such words to you, you ought to have his head struck off. How is it that he offers you that which is your own? It is that he has won over and corrupted them, and that he is a party-leader to your prejudice.” Tavannes, a rough and faithful soldier, did not admit that there could be amongst men moral ties of a higher kind than political ties. Charles IX., too weak in mind and character to think and act with independence and consistency in the great questions of the day, only sought how to elude them, and to leave time, that inscrutable master, to settle them in his place. His indecision brought him to a state of impotence, and he ended by inability to do anything but dodge and lie, like his mother, and even with his mother. Whilst he was getting his sister married to the King of Navarre and concerting his policy with Coligny, he was adopting towards the three principal personages who came to talk over those affairs with him three different sorts of language; to Cardinal Alessandrino, whom Pope Pius V. had sent to him to oppose the marriage, he said, “My lord cardinal, all that you say to me is sound; I acknowledge it, and I thank the pope and you for it; if I had any other means of taking vengeance on my enemies, I would not make this marriage; but I have no other.” With Jeanne d’Albret, he lauded himself for the marriage as the best policy he could pursue. “I give my sister,” he said, “not to the Prince of Navarre, but to all the Huguenots, to marry them as it were, and take from them all doubt as to the unchangeable fixity of my edicts.” And to humor his mother Catherine, he said to her, on the very evening of his interview with Jeanne d’Albret, “What think you, madam? Do I not play my partlet well?” “Yes, very well; but it is nothing if it is not continued.” And Charles continued to play his part, even after the Bartholomew was over, for he was fond of saying with a laugh, “My big sister Margot caught all those Huguenot rebels in the bird-catching style. What has grieved me most is being obliged to dissimulate so long.”

His contemporary Catholic biographer, Papirius Masson, who was twenty-eight years old at the time of the St. Bartholomew, says of him, “He is impatient in waiting, ferocious in his fits of anger, skilfully masked when he wishes, and ready to break faith as soon as that appears to his advantage.”

Charles Ix. And Catherine De’ Medici——354

Such was the prince, fiery and flighty, inconsistent and artful, accessible to the most opposite sympathies as well as hatreds, of whom Catherine de’ Medici and Admiral Coligny were disputing the possession.

In the spring of 1572 Coligny might have considered himself the victor in this struggle; at his instance Charles IX. had written on the 27th of April to Count Louis of Nassau, leader of the Protestant insurrection in Hainault, “that he was determined, so far as opportunities and the arrangements of his affairs permitted him, to employ the powers which God had put into his hands for the deliverance of the Low Countries from the oppression under which they were groaning.” Fortified by this promise of the king’s, Coligny had raised a body of French Protestants, and had sent it under the command of La Noue to join the army of Louis of Nassau. The Reformers had at first had some successes; they had taken Valenciennes and Mons; but the Duke of Alba restored the fortunes of the King of Spain; he re-entered Valenciennes and he was besieging Mons. Coligny sent to the aid of that place a fresh body of French under the orders of Senlis, one of his comrades in faith and arms. Before setting out, Senlis saw Charles IX., received from him money together with encouragement, and, in the corps he led, some Catholics were mixed with the Protestants. But from the very court of France there came to the Duke of Alba warnings which put him in a position to surprise the French corps; and Senlis was beaten and made prisoner on the 10th of July. “I have in my hands,” the Duke of Alba sent word to his king, “a letter from the King of France which would strike you dumb if you were to see it; for the moment, it is expedient to say nothing about it.” “News of the defeat of Senlis,” says Tavannes, “comes flying to court, and changes hearts and counsels. Disdain, despite, is engendered in the admiral, who hurls this defeat upon the heads of those who have prevented the king from declaring himself; he raises a new levy of three thousand foot, and, not regarding who he is and where he is, he declares, in the presumption of his audacity, that he can no longer hold his partisans, and that it must be one of two wars, Spanish or civil. It is all thunder-storm at court; everyone remains on the watch at the highest pitch of resolution.” A grand council was assembled. Coligny did not care. He had already, at the king’s request, set forth in a long memorial all the reasons for his policy of a war with Spain; the king had appeared struck with them; but, “as he only sought,” says De Thou, “to gain time without its being perceived,” he handed the admiral’s memorial to the keeper of the seals, John de Morvilliers, requesting him to set forth also all the reasons for a pacific policy. Coligny, a man of resolution and of action, did not take any pleasure in thus prolonging the discussion; nevertheless he again brought forward and warmly advocated, at the grand council, the views he had so often expressed. They were almost unanimously rejected. Coligny did not consider himself bound to give them up. “I have promised,” said he, “on my own account, my assistance to the Prince of Orange; I hope the king will not take it ill if by means of my friends, and perhaps in person, I fulfil my promise.” This reservation excited great surprise. “Madam,” said Coligny to the queen-mother, “the king is to-day shunning a war which would promise him great advantages; God forbid that there should break out another which he cannot shun!” The council broke up in great agitation. “Let the queen beware,” said Tavannes, “of the king her son’s secret councils, designs, and sayings; if she do not look out, the Huguenots will have him. At any rate, before thinking of anything else, let her exert herself to regain the mother’s authority which the admiral has caused her to lose.”

The king was hunting at Brie. The queen-mother went and joined him; she shut herself up with him in a cabinet, and, bursting into tears, she said, “I should never have thought that, in return for having taken so much pains to bring you up and preserve to you the crown, you would have had heart to make me so miserable a recompense. You hide yourself from me, me who am your mother, in order to take counsel of your enemies. I know that you hold secret counsels with the admiral; you desire to plunge rashly into war with Spain, in order to give your kingdom, yourself, and the persons that are yours, over as a prey to them of the religion. If I am so miserable a creature, yet before I see that, give me leave to withdraw to the place of my birth; remove from you your brother, who may call himself unfortunate in having employed his own life to preserve yours; give him at least time to withdraw out of danger and from the presence of enemies made in doing you service; Huguenots who desire not war with Spain, but with France, and the subversion of all the Estates in order to set up themselves.”

Tavannes himself terms these expressions “an artful harangue;” but he says, “it moved, astounded, and dismayed the king, not so much on the score of the Huguenots as of his mother and brother, whose subtlety, ambition, and power in the state he knew; he marvelled to see his counsels thus revealed; he avowed them, asked pardon, promised obedience. Having sown this distrust, having shot this first bolt, the queen-mother, still in displeasure, withdrew to Monceaux. The trembling king followed her; he found her with his brother and Sieurs de Tavannes, de Retz, and the Secretary of State de Sauve, the last of whom threw himself upon his knees and received his Majesty’s pardon for having revealed his counsels to his mother. The infidelity, the bravado, the audacity, the menaces, and the enterprises of the Huguenots were magnified with so much of truth and art that from friends behold them converted into enemies of the king, who, nevertheless, wavering as ever, could not yet give up the desire he had conceived of winning glory and reputation by war with Spain.”

A fresh incident increased the agitation in the royal circle. In July, 1572, the throne of Poland had become vacant. A Polish embassy came to offer it to the Duke of Anjou. On his part and his mother’s, there was at first great eagerness to accept it; Catherine was charmed to see her favorite son becoming a king. “If we had required,” says a Polish historian, “that the French should build a bridge of solid gold over the Vistula, they would have agreed.” Hesitation soon took the place of eagerness; Henry demanded information, and took time to reply. He had shown similar hesitation at the time of the negotiations entered upon in London, in 1571, with a view of making him the husband of Elizabeth, Queen of England: Coligny, who was very anxious to have him away, pressed Charles IX. to insist upon a speedy solution. “If Monsieur,” said he, “who would not have England by marriage, will not have Poland either by election, let him declare once for all that he will not leave France.” The relations between the two brothers became day by day more uncomfortable: two years later, Henry, for a brief period King of Poland, himself told the story of them to his physician Miron. “When, by any chance,” he said, “the queen-mother and I, after the admiral’s departure, approached the king to speak to him of any matters, even those which concerned merely his pleasure, we found him marvellously quick-tempered and cross-grained, with rough looks and bearing, and his answers still more so. One day, a very short time before the St. Bartholomew, setting out expressly from my quarters to go and see the king, somebody told me on inquiry that he was in his cabinet, whence the admiral, who had been alone with him a very long while, had just that instant gone out. I entered at once, as I had been accustomed to do. But as soon as the king my brother perceived me, he, without saying anything to me, began walking about furiously and with long steps, often looking towards me askance and with a very evil eye, sometimes laying his hand upon his dagger, and in so excited a fashion that I expected nothing else but that he would come and take me by the collar to poniard me. I was very vexed that I had gone in, reflecting upon the peril I was in, but still more upon how to get out of it; which I did so dexterously, that, whilst he was walking with his back turned to me, I retreated quickly towards the door, which I opened, and, with a shorter obeisance than at my entry, I made my exit, which was scarcely perceived by him until I was outside. And straightway I went to look for the queen my mother; and, putting together all reports, notifications, and suspicions, the time, and past circumstances, in conjunction with this last meeting, we remained both of us easily persuaded, and as it were certain, that it was the admiral who had impressed the king with some bad and sinister opinion of us, and we resolved from that moment to rid ourselves of him.”

One idea immediately occurred to Catherine and her son. Two persons felt a passionate hatred towards Coligny; they were the widow of Duke Francis of Guise, Anne d’Este, become Duchess of Nemours by a second marriage, and her son Henry de Guise, a young man of twenty-two. They were both convinced that Coligny had egged on Poltrot to murder Duke Francis, and they had sworn to exact vengeance. Being informed of the queen-mother’s and the Duke of Anjou’s intention, they entered into it eagerly; the young Duke of Guise believed his mother quite capable of striking down the admiral in the very midst of one of the great assemblies at court; the fair ladies of the sixteenth century were adepts in handling dagger and pistol. In default of the Duchess of Nemours, her son was thought of for getting rid of Coligny. “It was at one time decided,” says the Duke de Bouillon in his Memoires, “that M. de Guise should kill the admiral during a tilt-at-the-ring which the king gave in the garden of the Louvre, and in which all Messieurs were to lead sides. I was on that of the duke, who was believed to have an understanding with the admiral. On this occasion, it was so managed that our dresses were not ready, and the late duke and his side did not tilt at all. The resolution against the admiral was changed prudently; inasmuch as it was very perilous, for the person of the king and of Messieurs, to have determined to kill him in that place, there being present more than four hundred gentlemen of the religion, who might have gone very far in case of an assault upon that lord, who was so much beloved by them.” Everything considered, it was thought more expedient to employ for the purpose an inferior agent; Catherine and the Duke of Anjou sent for a Gascon captain, a dependant of the house of Lorraine, whom they knew to be resolute and devoted. “We had him shown the means he should adopt,” says the Duke of Anjou, “in attacking him whom we had in our eye; but, having well scanned him, himself and his movements, and his speech and his looks, which had made us laugh and afforded us good pastime, we considered him too hare-brained and too much of a wind-bag to deal the blow well.” They then applied to an officer “of practice and experience in murder,” Charles de Louviers, Sieur de Maurevert, who was called the king’s slaughterman (le tueur du roi), because he had already rendered such a service, and they agreed with him as to all the circumstances of place, time, and procedure most likely to secure the success of the deed, whilst giving the murderer chances of escape.

In such situations there is scarcely any project the secret of which is so well kept that there does not get abroad some rumor to warn an observant mind; and when it is the fate of a religious or a popular hero that is in question, there is never any want of devoted friends or servants about him, ready to take alarm for him. When Coligny mounted his horse to go from Chatillon to Paris, a poor countrywoman on his estates threw herself before him, sobbing, “Ah! sir, ah! our good master, you are going to destruction; I shall never see you again if once you go to Paris; you will die there, you and all those who go with-you.” At Paris, on the approach of the St. Bartholomew, the admiral heard that some of his gentlemen were going away. “They treat you too well here,” said one of them, Langoiran, to him; “better to be saved with the fools than lost for the sake of being thought over-wise.” “The admiral was beset by letters which reminded him of the queen-mother’s crooked ways, and the detestable education of the king, trained to every sort of violence and horrible sin; his Bible is Macchiavelli; he has been prepared by the blood of beasts for the shedding of human blood; he has been persuaded that a prince is not bound to observe an edict extorted by his subjects.” To all these warnings Coligny replied at one time by affirming the king’s good faith, and at another by saying, “I would rather be dragged dead through the muck-heaps of Paris than go back to civil war.” This great soul had his seasons, not of doubt as to his faith or discouragement as to his cause, but of profound sorrow at the atrocious or shameful spectacles and the public or private woes which had to be gone through.

Charles IX. himself felt some disquietude as to the meeting of the Guises and Coligny at his court. The Guises had quitted it before the 18th of August, the day fixed for the marriage of King Henry of Navarre with Marguerite de Valois. When the marriage was over, they were to return, and they did. At the moment of their returning, the king said to Coligny, with demonstrations of the most sincere friendship, “You know, my dear father, the promise you made me not to insult any of the Guises as long as you remained at court. On their side, they have given me their word that they will have for you, and all the gentry of your following, the consideration you deserve. I rely entirely upon your word, but I have not so much confidence in theirs; I know that they are only looking for an opportunity of letting their vengeance burst forth; I know their bold and haughty character; as they have the people of Paris devoted to them, and as, on coming hither, under pretext of the rejoicings at my sister’s marriage, they have brought a numerous body of well-armed soldiers, I should be inconsolable if they were to take anything in hand against you; such an outrage would recoil upon me. That being so, if you think as I do, I believe the best thing for me is to order into the city the regiment of guards, with such and such captains (he mentioned none but those who were not objects of suspicion to Coligny); this re-enforcement,” added the king, “will secure public tranquillity, and, if the factious make any disturbance, there will be men to oppose to them.” The admiral assented to the king’s proposal. He added that he was ready to declare “that never had he been guilty or approving of the death of Duke Francis of Guise, and that he set down as a calumniator and a scoundrel whoever said, that he had authorized it.” Though frequently going to the palace, both he and the Guises, they had not spoken when they met. Charles had promised the Lorraine princes “not to force them to make friends with Coligny more than was agreeable to them.” He believed that he had taken every precaution necessary to maintain in his court, for some time at least, the peace he desired.

On Friday, the 22d of August, 1572, Coligny was returning on foot from the Louvre to the Rue des Fosses—St.-Germain-l’Auxerrois, where he lived; he was occupied in reading a letter which he had just received; a shot, fired from the window of a house in the cloister of St. Germain-l’Auxerrois, smashed two fingers of his right hand and lodged a ball in his left arm; he raised his eyes, pointed out with his injured hand the house whence the shot had come, and reached his quarters on foot. Two gentlemen who were in attendance upon him rushed to seize the murderer; it was too late; Maurevert had been lodging there and on the watch for three days at the house of a canon, an old tutor to the Duke of Guise; a horse from the duke’s stable was waiting for him at the back of the house; and, having done his job, he departed at a gallop. He was pursued for several leagues without being overtaken.

Coligny sent to apprise the king of what had just happened to him. “There,” said he, “was a fine proof of fidelity to the agreement between him and the Duke of Guise.” “I shall never have rest, then!” cried Charles, breaking the stick with which he was playing tennis with the Duke of Guise and Teligny, the admiral’s son-in-law; and he immediately returned to his room. The Duke of Guise took himself off without a word. Teligny speedily joined his father-in-law. Ambrose Pare had already attended to him, cutting off the two broken fingers; somebody expressed a fear that the balls might have been poisoned. “It will be as God pleases as to that,” said Coligny; and, turning towards the minister, Merlin, who had hurried to him, he added, “pray that He may grant me the gift of perseverance.” Towards midday, Marshals de Damville, De Cosse, and De Villars went to see him “out of pure friendship,” they told him, “and not to exhort him to endure his mishap with patience: we know that you will not lack patience.” “I do protest to you,” said Coligny, “that death affrights me not; it is of God that I hold my life; when He requires it back from me, I am quite ready to give it up. But I should very much like to see the king before I die; I have to speak to him of things which concern his person and the welfare of his state, and which I feel sure none of you would dare to tell him of.” “I will go and inform his Majesty, . . .” rejoined Damville; and he went out with Villars and Teligny, leaving Marshal de Cosse in the room. “Do you remember,” said Coligny to him, “the warnings I gave you a few hours ago? You will do well to take your precautions.”

About two P. M., the king, the queen-mother, and the Dukes of Anjou and Alencon, her two other sons, with many of their high officers, repaired to the admiral’s. “My dear father,” said the king, as he went in, “the hurt is yours; the grief and the outrage mine; but I will take such vengeance that it shall never be forgotten;” to which he added his usual imprecations. “Then the admiral, who lay in bed sorely wounded,” says the Duke of Anjou himself, in his account of this interview, “requested that he might speak privately to the king, which the king granted readily, making a sign to the queen my mother, and to me, to withdraw, which we did incontinently into the middle of the room, where we remained standing during this secret colloquy, which caused us great misgiving. We saw ourselves surrounded by more than two hundred gentlemen and captains of the admiral’s party, who were in the room and another adjoining, and, besides, in a ball below, the which, with sad faces and the gestures and bearing of malcontents, were whispering in one another’s ears, frequently passing and repasssing before and behind us, not with so much honor and respect as they ought to have done, and as if they had some suspicion that we had somewhat to do with the admiral’s hurt. We were seized with astonishment and fear at seeing ourselves shut in there, as my mother has since many times confessed to me, saying that she had never been in any place where there was so much cause for fright, and whence she had gone away with more relief and pleasure. This apprehension caused us to speedily break in upon the conversation the admiral was having with the king, under a polite excuse invented by the queen my mother, who, approaching the king, said out loud that she had no idea he would make the admiral talk so much, and that she saw quite well that his physicians and surgeons considered it bad for him, as it certainly was very dangerous, and enough to throw him into a fever, which was, above everything, to be guarded against. She begged the king to put off the rest of their conversation to another time, when the admiral was better. This vexed the king mightily, for he was very anxious to hear the remainder of what the admiral had to say to him. However, he being unable to gainsay so specious an argument, we got the king away. And incontinently the queen-mother (and I too) begged the king to let us know the secret conversation which the admiral had held with him, and in which he had been unwilling that we should be participators; which the king refused several times to do. But finding himself importuned and hard pressed by us, he told us abruptly and with displeasure, swearing by God’s death that what the admiral said was true, that kings realized themselves as such in France only in so far as they had the ‘power of doing harm or good to their subjects and servants, and that this power and management of affairs had slipped imperceptibly into the hands of the queen my mother and mine.’ ‘This superintendent domination, the admiral told me, might some day be very prejudicial to me and to all my kingdom, and that I should hold it in suspicion and beware of it; of which he was anxious to warn me, as one of my best and most faithful subjects, before he died. There, God’s death, as you wish to know, is what the admiral said to me.’ This, said as it was with passion and fury, went straight home to our hearts, which we concealed as best we might, both of us, however, defending ourselves in the matter. We continued this conversation all the way from the admiral’s quarters to the Louvre, where, having left the king in his room, we retired to that of the queen my mother, who was piqued and hurt to the utmost degree at this language used by the admiral to the king, as well as at the credence which the king seemed to accord to it, and was fearful lest it should bring about some change and alteration in our affairs and in the management of the state. Being unable to resolve upon any course at the moment, we retired, putting off the question till the morrow, when I went to see my mother, who was already up. I had a fine racket in my head, and so had she, and for the time there was no decision come to save to have the admiral despatched by some means or other. It being impossible any longer to employ stratagems and artifices, it would have to be done openly, and the king brought round to that way of thinking. We agreed that, in the afternoon, we would go and pay him a visit in his closet, whither we would get the Sieur de Nevers, Marshals de Tavannes and de Retz, and Chancellor de Birague to come, merely to have their opinion as to the means to be adopted for the execution, which we had already determined upon, my mother and I.”

On Saturday, the 23d of August, in the afternoon, the queen-mother, the Duke of Anjou, Marshals do Tavannes and de Retz, the Duke of Nevers, and the Chancellor de Birague met in the king’s closet, who was irresolute and still talking of exacting from the Guises heavy vengeance for the murderous attack upon Coligny. Catherine “represented to him that the party of the Huguenots had already seized this occasion for taking up arms against him; they had sent,” she said, “several despatches to Germany to procure a levy of ten thousand reiters, and to the cantons of the Swiss for another levy of ten thousand foot; the French captains, partisans of the Huguenots, had already, most of them, set out to raise levies within the kingdom time and place of meeting had already been assigned and determined. All the Catholics, on their side,” added Catherine, “disgusted with so long a war and harassed by so many kinds of calamities, have resolved to put a stop to them; they have decided amongst them to elect a captain-general, to form a league offensive and defensive against the Huguenots. The whole of France would thus be seen armed and divided into two great parties, between which the king would remain isolated, without any command and with about as much obedience. For so much ruin and calamity in anticipation and already within a finger’s reach, and for the slaughter of so many thousands of men, a preventive may be found in a single sword-thrust; all that is necessary is to kill the admiral, the head and front of all the civil wars; the designs and the enterprises of the Huguenots will die with him, and the Catholics, satisfied with the sacrifice of two or three men, will remain forever in obedience to the king. . . .” “At the beginning,” continues the Duke of Anjou, in his account, “the king would not by any means consent to have the admiral touched; feeling, however, some fear of the danger which we had so well depicted and represented, to him, he desired that, in a case of such importance, every one should at once state his opinion.” When each of those present had spoken, the king appeared still undecided. The queen-mother then resolved “to let him hear the truth in toto from Marshal de Retz, from whom she knew that he would take it better than from any other,” says his sister Marguerite de Valois in her Memoires, “as one who was more in his confidence and favor than any other. The which came to see him in the evening, about nine or ten, and told him that, as his faithful servant, he could not conceal from him the danger he was in if he were to abide by his resolution to do justice on M. de Guise, because it was necessary that he should know that the attack upon the admiral was not M. de Guise’s doing alone, but that my brother Henry, the King of Poland, afterwards King of France, and the queen my mother, had been concerned in it; which M. de Guise and his friends would not fail to reveal, and which would place his Majesty in a position of great danger and embarrassment.” Towards midnight, the queen-mother went down to the king, followed by her son Henry and four other councillors. They found the king more put out than ever. The conversation began again, and resolved itself into a regular attack upon the king. “The Guises,” he was told, “will denounce the king himself, together with his mother and brother; the Huguenots will believe that the king was in concert with the party, and they will take the whole royal family to task. War is inevitable. Better to win a battle in Paris, where we hold all the chiefs in our clutches, than put it to hazard in the field. After a struggle of an hour and a half, Charles, in a violent state of agitation, still hesitated; when the queen-mother, fearing lest, if there were further delay, all would be discovered, said to him, ‘Permit me and your brother, sir, to retire to some other part of the kingdom.’ Charles rose from his seat. ‘By God’s death,’ said he, ‘since you think proper to kill the admiral, I consent; but all the Huguenots in Paris as well, in order that there remain not one to reproach me afterwards. Give the orders at once.’” And he went back into his room.

In order to relieve and satisfy her own passions and those of her favorite son, which were fear and love of power, the queen-mother had succeeded in working her king-son into a fit of weakness and mad anger. Anxious to profit by it, “she gave orders on the instant for the signal, which was not to have been given until an hour before daybreak,” says De Thou, “and, instead of the bell at the Palace of Justice, the tocsin was sounded by the bell of St.-Germain-Auxerrois, which was nearer.”

Even before the king had given his formal consent, the projectors of the outrage had carefully prepared for its execution; they had apportioned out amongst themselves or to their agents the different quarters of the city. The Guises had reserved for themselves that in which they considered they had personal vengeance as well as religious enmity to satisfy, the neighborhood of St.-Germain-l’Auxerrois, and especially Rue de Bethisy and Rue des Fosses-St.-Germain. Awakened by the noise around his house, and, before long, by arquebuse-shots fired in his court-yard, Coligny understood what was going to happen; he jumped out of bed, put on his dressing-gown, and, as he stood leaning against the wall, he said to the clergyman, Merlin, who was sitting up with him, “M. Merlin, say me a prayer; I commit my soul to my Saviour.” One of his gentlemen, Cornaton, entered the room. “What is the meaning of this riot?” asked Ambrose Pare, who had also remained with the admiral.

“My lord,” said Cornaton to Coligny, “it is God calling us.” “I have long been ready to die,” said the admiral; “but you, my friends, save yourselves, if it is still possible.” All ran up stairs and escaped, the majority by the roof; a German servant, Nicholas Muss, alone remained with the admiral, “as little concerned,” says Cornaton, “as if there were nothing going on around him.” The door of his room was forced. Two men, servants of the Guises, entered first. One of them, Behme, attached to the Duke of Guise’s own person, came forward, saying, “Art thou not the admiral?” “Young man,” said Coligny, “thou comest against a wounded and an aged man. Thou’lt not shorten my life by much.” Behme plunged into his stomach a huge pointed boar-spear which he had in his hand, and then struck him on the head with it. Coligny fell, saying, “If it were but a man! But ‘tis a horse-boy.” Others came in and struck him in their turn. “Behme!” shouted the Duke of Guise from the court-yard, “hast done?” “‘Tis all over, my lord,” was the answer; and the murderers threw the body out of the window, where it stuck for an instant, either accidentally or voluntarily, and as if to defend a last remnant of life. Then it fell. The two great lords, who were waiting for it, turned over the corpse, wiped the blood off the face, and said, “Faith, ‘tis he, sure enough.”

Henry de Guise and the Corpse of Coligny——369

Some have said that Guise gave him a kick in the face. A servant of the Duke of Nevers cut off the head, and took it to the queen-mother, the king, and the Duke of Anjou. It was embalmed with care, to be sent, it is said, to Rome. What is certain is that, a few days afterwards, Mandelot, governor of Lyons, wrote to the king, “I have received, sir, the letter your Majesty was pleased to write to me, whereby you tell me that you have been advertised that there is a man who has set out from over yonder with the head he took from the admiral after killing him, for to convey it to Rome, and to take care, when the said man arrives in this city, to have him arrested, and to take from him the said head. Whereupon I incontinently gave such strict orders, that, if he presents himself, the command which it pleases your Majesty to lay upon me will be acted upon. There hath not passed, for these last few days, by way of this city, any person going Romewards save a squire of the Duke of Guise’s, named Paule, the which had departed four hours previously on the same day on which I received the said letter from your Majesty.”

We do not find anywhere, in reference to this incident, any information going further than this reply of the governor of Lyons to Charles IX. However it may be, the remains of Coligny’s body, after having been hung and exposed for some days on the gibbet of Montfaucon, were removed by Duke Francis de Montmorency, the admiral’s relative and friend, who had them transferred to Chantilly and interred in the chapel of the castle. After having been subjected, in the course of three centuries, at one time to oblivion and at others to divers transferences, these sad relics of a great man, a great Christian, and a great patriot, have been resting, for the last two and twenty years, in the very castle of Chatillon-sur-Loing, his ancestors’ own domain having once more become the property of a relative of his family, the Duke of Luxembourg, to whom Count Anatole de Montesquiou transferred them, and who, in 1851, had them sealed up in a bit of wall in ruins, at the foot of an old tower, under the site of the bed-chamber of the Duchesses of Chatillon, where, in all probability, Coligny was born. The more tardy the homage, the greater.

The actual murderers of Coligny, the real projectors of the St. Bartholomew, Catherine de’ Medici and her son the Duke of Anjou, at the very moment when they had just ordered the massacre, were seized with affright at the first sound of their crime. The Duke of Anjou finishes his story with this page “After but two hours’ rest during the night, just as the day was beginning to break, the king, the queen my mother, and I went to the frontal of the Louvre, adjoining the tennis-court, into a room which looks upon the area of the stable-yard, to see the commencement of the work. We had not been there long when, as we were weighing the issues and the consequence of so great an enterprise, on which, sooth to say, we had up to that time scarcely bestowed a thought, we heard a pistol-shot fired. I could not say in what spot, or whether it knocked over anybody; but well know I that the sound wounded all three of us so deeply in spirit that it knocked over our senses and judgment, stricken with terror and apprehension at the great troubles which were then about to set in. To prevent them, we sent a gentleman at once and with all haste to M. de Guise, to tell him and command him expressly from us to retire into his quarters, and be very careful to take no steps against the admiral, this single command putting a stop to everything else, because it had been determined that in no spot in the city should any steps be taken until, as a preliminary, the admiral had been killed. But soon afterwards the gentleman returning told us that M. de Guise had answered him that the command came too late, that the admiral was dead, and the work was begun throughout the rest of the city. So we went back to our original determination, and let ourselves follow the thread and the course of the enterprise.”

The enterprise, in fact, followed its thread and natural course without its being in the power of anybody to arrest or direct it. It had been absolutely necessary to give information of it the evening before to the provost of tradesmen of Paris, Le Charron, president in the court of taxation (Board of Excise), and to the chief men of the city. According to Brantome, “they made great difficulties and imported conscience into the matter; but M. de Tavannes, in the king’s presence, rebuked them strongly, and threatened them that, if they did not make themselves busy, the king would have them hanged. The poor devils, unable to do aught else, thereupon answered, ‘Ha! is that the way you take it, sir, and you, monsieur? We swear to you that you shall hear news thereof, for we will ply our hands so well right and left that the memory shall abide forever of a right well kept St. Bartholomew.’” “Wherein they did not fail,” continues Brantome, “but they did not like it at first.” According to other reports, the first opposition of the provost of tradesmen, Le Charron, was not without effect; it was not till the next day that he let the orders he had received take their course; and it was necessary to apply to his predecessor in his office, the ex-provost Marcel, a creature of the queen-mother’s, to set in motion the turbulent and the fanatical amongst the populace, “which it never does to ‘blood,’ for it is afterwards more savage than is desirable.” Once let loose upon the St. Bartholomew, the Parisian populace was eager indeed, but not alone in its eagerness, for the work of massacre; the gentlemen of the court took part in it passionately, from a spirit of vengeance, from religious hatred, from the effect of smelling blood, from covetousness at the prospect of confiscations at hand. Teligny, the admiral’s son-in-law, had taken refuge on a roof; the Duke of Anjou’s guards make him a mark for their arquebuses. La Rochefoucauld, with whom the king had been laughing and joking up to eleven o’clock the evening before, heard a knocking at his door, in the king’s name; it is opened; enter six men in masks and poniard him. The new Queen of Navarre, Marguerite de Valois, had gone to bed by express order of her mother Catherine. “Just as I was asleep,” says she, “behold a man knocking with feet and hands at the door and shouting, Navarre! Navarre! My nurse, thinking it was the king my husband, runs quickly to the door and opens it. It was a gentleman named M. de Leran, who had a sword-cut on the elbow, a gash from a halberd on the arm, and was still pursued by four archers, who all came after him into my bedroom. He, wishing to save himself, threw himself on to my bed; as for me, feeling this man who had hold of me, I threw myself out of bed towards the wall, and he after me, still holding me round the body. I did not know this man, and I could not tell whether he had come thither to offer me violence, or whether the archers were after him in particular, or after me. We both screamed, and each of us was as much frightened as the other. At last it pleased God that M. de Nanqay, captain of the guards, came in, who, finding me in this plight, though he felt compassion, could not help laughing; and, flying into a great rage with the archers for this indiscretion, he made them begone, and gave me the life of that poor man who had hold of me, whom I had put to bed and attended to in my closet, until he was well.”

The Queen of Navarre and the Huguenot——372

We might multiply indefinitely these anecdotical scenes of the massacre, most of them brutally ferocious, others painfully pathetic, some generous and calculated to preserve the credit of humanity amidst one of its most direful aberrations. History must show no pity for the vices and crimes of men, whether princes or people; and it is her duty as well as her right to depict them so truthfully that men’s souls and imaginations may be sufficiently impressed by them to conceive disgust and horror at them; but it is not by dwelling upon them and by describing them minutely, as if she had to exhibit a gallery of monsters and madmen, that history can lead men’s minds to sound judgments and salutary impressions; it is necessary to have moral sense and good sense always in view, and set high above great social troubles, just as sailors, to struggle courageously against the tempest, need to see a luminous corner where the sky is visible, and a star which reveals to them the port. We take no pleasure, and we see no use, in setting forth in detail the works of evil; we should be inclined to fear that, by familiarity with such a spectacle, men would lose the perception of good, and cease to put hope in its legitimate and ultimate superiority. Nor will we pause either to discuss the secondary questions which meet us at the period of which we are telling the story; for example, the question whether Charles IX. fired with his own hand on his Protestant subjects whom he had delivered over to the evil passions of the aristocracy and of the populace, or whether the balcony from which he is said to have indulged in this ferocious pastime existed at that time, in the sixteenth century, at the palace of the Louvre, and overlooking the Seine. These questions are not without historic interest, and it is well for learned men to study them; but we consider them incapable of being resolved with certainty; and, even were they resolved, they would not give the key to the character of Charles IX. and to the portion which appertains to him in the deed of cruelty with which his name remains connected. The great historic fact of the St. Bartholomew is what we confine ourselves to; and we have attempted to depict it accurately as regards Charles IX.‘s hesitations and equally feverish resolutions, his intermixture of open-heartedness and double-dealing in his treatment of Coliguy, towards whom he felt himself drawn without quite understanding him, and his puerile weakness in presence of his mother, whom he feared far more than he trusted. When he had plunged into the orgies of the massacre, when, after having said, “Kill them all!” he had seen the slaughter of his companions in his royal amusements, Teligny and La Rochefoucauld, Charles IX. abandoned himself to a fit of mad passion. He was asked whether the two young Huguenot princes, Henry of Navarre and Henry de Conde, were to be killed also; Marshal de Retz had been in favor of it; Marshal de Tavannes had been opposed to it; and it was decided to spare them. On the very night of the St. Bartholomew, the king sent for them both. “I mean for the future,” said he, “to have but one religion in my kingdom; the mass or death; make your choice.” Henry of Navarre reminded the king of his promises, and asked for time to consider; Henry de Conde “answered that he would remain firm in the true religion though he should have to give up his life for it.” “Seditious madman, rebel, and son of a rebel,” said Charles, “if within three days you do not change your language, I will have you strangled.” At this first juncture, the king saved from the massacre none but his surgeon, Ambrose Pare, and his nurse, both Huguenots; on the very night after the murder of Coligny, he sent for Ambrose Pare into his chamber, and made him go into his wardrobe, says Brantome, “ordering him not to stir, and saying that it was not reasonable that one who was able to be of service to a whole little world should be thus massacred.” A few days afterwards, “Now,” said the king to Pare, “you really must be a Catholic.” “By God’s light,” answered Pars, “I think you must surely remember, sir, to have promised me, in order that I might never disobey you, never, on the other hand, to bid me do four things—find my way back into my mother’s womb, catch myself fighting in a battle, leave your service, or go to mass.” After a moment’s silence Charles rejoined, “Ambrose, I don’t know what has come over me for the last two or three days, but I feel my mind and my body greatly excited, in fact, just as if I had a fever; meseems every moment, just as much waking as sleeping, that those massacred corpses keep appearing to me with their faces all hideous and covered with blood. I wish the helpless and the innocent had not been included.” “And in consequence of the reply made to him,” adds Sully in his (Economies royales t. i. p. 244, in the Petitot collection), “he next day issued his orders, prohibiting, on pain of death, any slaying or plundering; the which were, nevertheless, very ill observed, the animosities and fury of the populace being too much inflamed to defer to them.”

The historians, Catholic or Protestant, contemporary or researchful, differ widely as to the number of the victims in this cruel massacre; according to De Thou, there were about two thousand persons killed in Paris the first day; D’Aubigne says three thousand; Brantome speaks of four thousand bodies that Charles IX. might have seen floating down the Seine; La Popeliniere reduces them to one thousand. There is to be found, in the account-books of the city of Paris, a payment to the grave-diggers of the cemetery of the Innocents for having interred eleven hundred dead bodies stranded at the turns of the Seine near Chaillot, Auteuil, and St. Cloud; it is probable that many corpses were carried still farther, and the corpses were not all thrown into the river. The uncertainty is still greater when one comes to speak of the number of victims throughout the whole of France; De Thou estimates it at thirty thousand, Sully at seventy thousand, Perefixe, Archbishop of Paris in the seventeenth century, raises it to one hundred thousand; Papirius Masson and Davila reduce it to ten thousand, without clearly distinguishing between the massacre of Paris and those of the provinces; other historians fix upon forty thousand. Great uncertainty also prevails as to the execution of the orders issued from Paris to the governors at the provinces; the names of the Viscount d’Orte, governor of Bayonne, and of John le Hennuyer, Bishop of Lisieux, have become famous from their having refused to take part in the massacre; but the authenticity of the letter from the Viscount d’Orte to Charles IX. is disputed, though the fact of his resistance appears certain; and as for the bishop, John le Hennuyer, M. de Formeville seems to us to have demonstrated in his Histoire de l’ancien Eveche-comte de Lisieux (t. ii. pp. 299-314), “that there was no occasion to save the Protestants of Lisieux, in 1572, because they did not find themselves in any danger of being massacred, and that the merit of it cannot be attributed to anybody, to the bishop, Le Hennuyer, any more than to Captain Fumichon, governor of the town. It was only the general course of events and the discretion of the municipal officers of Lisieux that did it all.” One thing which is quite true, and which it is good to call to mind in the midst of so great a general criminality, is that, at many spots in France, it met with a refusal to be associated in it; President Jeannin at Dijon, the Count de Tende in Provence, Philibert de la Guiche at Macon, Tanneguy le Veneur de Carrouge at Rouen, the Count de Gordes in Dauphiny, and many other chiefs, military or civil, openly repudiated the example set by the murderers of Paris; and the municipal body of Nantes, a very Catholic town, took upon this subject, as has been proved from authentic documents by M. Vaurigaud, pastor of the Reformed Church at Nantes [in his Essai sur l’Histoire des Eglises reformees de Bretagne, t. i. pp. 190-194], a resolution which does honor to its patriotic firmness as well as to its Christian loyalty.

Chancellor Michael de L’hospital——376

A great, good man, a great functionary, and a great scholar, in disgrace for six years past, the Chancellor Michael de l’Hospital, received about this time, in his retreat at Vignay, a visit from a great philosopher, Michael de Montaigne, “anxious,” said the visitor, “to come and testify to you the honor and reverence with which I regard your competence and the special qualities which are in you; for, as to the extraneous and the fortuitous, it is not to my taste to put them down in the account.” Montaigne chose a happy moment for disregarding all but the personal, and special qualities of the chancellor; shortly after his departure, L’Hospital was warned that some sinister-looking horsemen were coming, and that he would do well to take care of himself. “No matter, no matter,” he answered; “it will be as God pleases when my hour has come.” Next day he was told that those men were approaching his house, and he was asked whether he would not have the gates shut against them, and have them fired upon, in case they attempted to force an entrance. “No,” said he, “if the small gate will not do for them to enter by, let the big one be opened.” A few hours afterwards, L’Hospital was informed that the king and the queen-mother were sending other horsemen to protect him. “I didn’t know,” said the old man, “that I had deserved either death or pardon.” A rumor of his death flew abroad amongst his enemies, who rejoiced at it. “We are told,” wrote Cardinal Granvelle to his agent at Brussels (October 8, 1572), “that the king has had Chancellor de l’Hospital and his wife despatched, which would be a great blessing.” The agent, more enlightened than his chief, denied the fact, adding, “They are a fine bit of rubbish left, L’Hospital and his wife.” Charles IX. wrote to his old adviser to reassure him, “loving you as I do.” Some time after, however, he demanded of him his resignation of the title of chancellor, wishing to confer it upon La Birague, to reward him for his co-operation in the St. Bartholomew. L’Hospital gave in his resignation on the 1st of February, 1573, and died six weeks afterwards, on the 18th of March. “I am just at the end of my long journey, and shall have no more business but with God,” he wrote to the king and the queen-mother. “I implore Him to give you His grace, and to lead you with His hand in all your affairs, and in the government of this great and beautiful kingdom which He hath committed to your keeping, with all gentleness and clemency towards your good subjects, in imitation of Himself, who is good and, patient in bearing our burdens, and prompt to forgive you and pardon you everything.”

From the 24th to the 31st of August, 1572, the bearing and conduct of Charles IX. and the queen-mother produced nothing but a confused mass of orders and counter-orders, affirmations and denials, words and actions incoherent and contradictory, all caused by a habit of lying and the desire of escaping from the peril or embarrassment of the moment. On the very first day of the massacre, about midday, the provost of tradesmen and the sheriffs, who had not taken part in the “Paris matins,” came complaining to the king “of the pillage, sack, and murder which were being committed by many belonging to the suite of his Majesty, as well as to those of the princes, princesses, and lords of the court, by noblemen, archers, and soldiers of the guard, as well as by all sorts of gentry and people mixed with them and under their wing.” Charles ordered them “to get on horseback, take with them all the forces in the city, and keep their eyes open day and night to put a stop to the said murder, pillage, and sedition arising,” he said, “because of the rivalry between the houses of Guise and Chatillon, and because they of Guise had been threatened by the admiral’s friends, who suspected them of being at the bottom of the hurt inflicted upon him.” He, the same day, addressed to the governors of the provinces a letter in which he invested the disturbance with the same character, and gave the same explanation of it. The Guises complained violently at being thus disavowed by the king, who had the face to throw upon them alone the odium of the massacre which he had ordered. Next day, August 25, the king wrote to all his agents, at home and abroad, another letter, affirming that “what had happened at Paris had been done solely to prevent the execution of an accursed conspiracy which the admiral and his allies had concocted against him, his mother, and his brothers;” and, on the 26th of August, he went with his two brothers to hold in state a bed of justice, and make to the Parliament the same declaration against Coligny and his party. “He could not,” he said, “have parried so fearful a blow but by another very violent one; and he wished all the world to know that what had happened at Paris had been done not only with his consent, but by his express command.” Whereupon it was enjoined upon the court, says De Thou, “to cause investigations to be made as to the conspiracy of Coligny, and to decree what it should consider proper, conformably with the laws and with justice.” The next day but one, August 28, appeared a royal manifesto running, “The king willeth and intendeth that all noblemen and others whosoever of the religion styled Reformed be empowered to live and abide in all security and liberty, with their wives, children, and families, in their houses, as they have heretofore done and were empowered to do by benefit of the edicts of pacification. And nevertheless, for to obviate the troubles, scandals, suspicion, and distrust, which might arise by reason of the services and assemblies that might take place both in the houses of the said noblemen and elsewhere, as is permitted by the aforesaid edicts of pacification, his Majesty doth lay very express inhibitions and prohibitions upon all the said noblemen and others of the said religion against holding assemblies, on any account whatsoever, until that, by the said lord the king, after having provided for the tranquillity of his kingdom, it be otherwise ordained. And that, on pain of confiscation of body and goods in case of disobedience.”

These tardy and lying accusations officially brought against Coligny and his friends; these promises of liberty and security for the Protestants, renewed in the terms of the edicts of pacification, and, in point of fact, annulled at the very moment at which they were being renewed; the massacre continuing here and there in France, at one time with the secret connivance and at another notwithstanding the publicly-given word of the king and the queen-mother; all this policy, at one and the same time violent and timorous, incoherent and stubborn, produced amongst the Protestants two contrary effects: some grew frightened, others angry. At court, under the direct influence of the king and his surroundings, “submission to the powers that be” prevailed; many fled; others, without abjuring their religion, abjured their party. The two Reformer-princes, Henry of Navarre and Henry de Conde, attended mass on the 29th of September, and, on the 3d of October, wrote to the pope, deploring their errors and giving hopes of their conversion. Far away from Paris, in the mountains of the Pyrenees and of Languedoc, in the towns where the Reformers were numerous and confident, at Sancerre, at Montauban, at Nimes, at La Rochelle, the spirit of resistance carried the day. An assembly, meeting at Milhau, drew up a provisional ordinance for the government of the Reformed church, “until it please God, who has the hearts of kings in His keeping, to change that of King Charles IX. and restore the state of France to good order, or to raise up such neighboring prince as is manifestly marked out, by his virtue and by distinguishing signs, for to be the liberator of this poor afflicted people.” In November, 1572, the fourth religious war broke out. The siege of La Rochelle was its only important event. Charles IX. and his councillors exerted themselves in vain to avoid it. There was everything to disquiet them in this enterprise: so sudden a revival of the religious war after the grand blow they had just struck, the passionate energy manifested by the Protestants in asylum at La Rochelle, and the help they had been led to hope for from Queen Elizabeth, whom England would never have forgiven for indifference in this cause. Marshal de Biron, who was known to favor the Reformers, was appointed governor of La Rochelle; but he could not succeed in gaining admittance within the walls, even alone and for the purpose of parleying with the inhabitants. The king heard that one of the bravest Protestant chiefs, La Noue Ironarm, had retired to Mons with Prince Louis of Nassau. The Duke of Longueville, his old enemy, induced him to go to Paris. The king received him with great favor, gave up to him the property of Teligny, whose sister La Noue had married, and pressed him to go to La Rochelle and prevail upon the inhabitants to keep the peace. La Noue refused, saying that he was not at all fitted for this commission. The king promised that he would ask nothing of him which could wound his honor. La Noue at last consented, and repaired, about the end of November, 1572, to a village close by La Rochelle, whither it was arranged that deputies from the town would come and confer with him. And they came, in fact, but at their first meeting, “We are come,” they said, “to confer with M. de La Noue, but we do not see him here.” La Noue got angry. “I am astonished,” he said, “that you have so soon forgotten one who has received so many wounds and lost an arm fighting for you.” “Yes, there is a M. de La Noue, who was one of us, and who bravely defended our cause; but he never flattered us with vain hopes, he never invited us to conferences to betray us.” La Noue got more fiercely angry. “All I ask of you is, to report to the senate what I have to say to them.” They complied, and came back with permission for him to enter the town. The people looked at him, as he passed, with a mixture of distrust and interest. After hearing him, the senate rejected the pacific overtures made to them by La Noue. “We have no mind to treat specially and for ourselves alone; our cause is that of God and of all the churches of France; we will accept nothing but what shall seem proper to all our brethren. For yourself, we give you your choice between three propositions: remain in our town as a simple burgess, and we will give you quarters; if you like better to be our commandant, all the nobility and the people will gladly have you for their head, and will fight with confidence under your orders; if neither of these propositions suits you, you shall be welcome to go aboard one of our vessels and cross over to England, where you will find many of your friends.” La Noue did not hesitate; he became, under the authority of the mayor Jacques Henri, the military head of La Rochelle, whither Charles IX. had sent him to make peace. The king authorized him to accept this singular position. La Noue conducted himself so honorably in it, and everybody was so convinced of his good faith as well as bravery, that for three months he commanded inside La Rochelle, and superintended the preparations for defence, all the while trying to make the chances of peace prevail. At the end of February, 1573, he recognized the impossibility of his double commission, and he went away from La Rochelle, leaving the place in better condition than that in which he had found it, without either king or Rochellese considering that they had any right to complain of him.

Biron first and then the Duke of Anjou in person took the command of the siege. They brought up, it is said, forty thousand men and sixty pieces of artillery. The Rochellese, for defensive strength, had but twenty-two companies of refugees or inhabitants, making in all thirty-one hundred men. The siege lasted from the 26th of February to the 13th of June, 1573; six assaults were made on the place; in the last, the ladders had been set at night against the wall of what was called Gospel bastion; the Duke of Guise, at the head of the assailants, had escaladed the breach, but there he discovered a new ditch and a new rampart erected inside; and, confronted by these unforeseen obstacles, the men recoiled and fell back. La Rochelle was saved. Charles IX. was more and more desirous of peace; his brother, the Duke of Anjou, had just been elected King of Poland; Charles IX. was anxious for him to leave France and go to take possession of his new kingdom. Thanks to these complications, the peace of La Rochelle was signed on the 6th of July, 1573. Liberty of creed and worship was recognized in the three towns of La Rochelle, Montauban, and Nimes. They were not obliged to receive any royal garrison, on condition of giving hostages to be kept by the king for two years. Liberty of worship throughout the extent of their jurisdiction continued to be recognized in the case of lords high-justiciary. Everywhere else the Reformers had promises of not being persecuted for their creed, under the obligation of never holding an assembly of more than ten persons at a time. These were the most favorable conditions they had yet obtained.

Certainly this was not what Charles IX. had calculated upon when he consented to the massacre of the Protestants. “Provided,” he had said, “that not a single one is left to reproach me.” The massacre had been accomplished almost without any resistance but that offered by certain governors of provinces or towns, who had refused to take part in it. The chief leader of French Protestantism, Coligny, had been the first victim. Far more than that, the Parliament of Paris had accepted the royal lie which accused Coligny of conspiring for the downfall of the king and the royal house; a decree, on that very ground, sentenced to condemnation the memory, the family, and the property of Coligny, with all sorts of rigorous, we should rather say atrocious, circumstances. And after having succeeded so well against the Protestants, Charles IX. saw them recovering again, renewing the struggle with him, and wresting from him such concessions as he had never yet made to them. More than ever might he exclaim, “Then I shall never have rest!” The news that came to him from abroad was not more calculated to satisfy him.

The St. Bartholomew——383

The St. Bartholomew had struck Europe with surprise and horror; not only amongst the princes and in the countries that were Protestant, in England, Scotland, and Northern Europe, but in Catholic Germany itself, there was a very strong feeling of reprobation; the Emperor Maximilian II. and the Elector Palatine Frederic III., called the Pious, showed it openly; when the Duke of Anjou, elected King of Poland, went through Germany to go and take possession of his kingdom, he was received at Heidelberg with premeditated coolness. When he arrived at the gate of the castle, not a soul went to meet him; alone he ascended the steps, and found in the hall a picture representing the massacre of St. Bartholomew; the elector called his attention to the portraits of the principal victims, amongst others that of Coligny, and at table he was waited upon solely by French Protestant refugees. At Rome itself, in the midst of official satisfaction and public demonstrations of it exhibited by the pontifical court, the truth came out, and Pope Gregory XIII. was touched by it when certain of my lords the cardinals who were beside him “asked wherefore he wept and was sad at so goodly a despatch of those wretched folk, enemies of God and of his Holiness: ‘I weep,’ said the pope, ‘at the means the king used, exceeding unlawful and forbidden of God, for to inflict such punishment; I fear that one will fall upon him, and that he will not have a very long bout of it (will not live very long). I fear, too, that amongst so many dead folk there died as many innocent as guilty.’” [Brantome, t. iv. p. 306. He attributes this language to Pope Pius V., who died four months before the St. Bartholomew. Gregory XIII., elected May 15, 1572, was pope when the massacre took place.] Only the King of Spain, Philip II., a fanatical despot, and pitiless persecutor, showed complete satisfaction at the event; and he offered Charles IX. the assistance of his army, if he had need of it, against what there was remaining of heretics in his kingdom.

Charles IX. had not mind or character sufficiently sound or sufficiently strong to support, without great perturbation, the effect of so many violent, repeated, and often contradictory impressions. Catherine de Medici had brought up her three sons solely with a view of having their confidence and implicit obedience. “All the actions of the queen-mother,” said the Venetian ambassador Sigismund Cavalli, who had for a long while resided at her court, “have always been prompted and regulated by one single passion, the passion of ruling.” Her son Charles had yielded to it without an effort in his youth. “He was accustomed to say that, until he was five and twenty, he meant to play the fool; that is to say, to think of nothing but of enjoying his heyday; accordingly he showed aversion for speaking and treating of business, putting himself altogether in his mother’s hands. Now, he no longer thinks and acts in the same way. I have been told that, since the late events, he requires to have the same thing said more than three times over by the queen, before obeying her.” It was not with regard to his mother only that Charles had changed. “His looks,” says Cavalli, “have become melancholy and sombre; in his conversations and audiences he does not look the speaker in the face; he droops his head, closes his eyes, opens them all at once, and, as if he found the movement painful, closes them again with no less suddenness. It is feared that the demon of vengeance has possessed him; he used to be merely severe; it is feared that he is becoming cruel. He is temperate in his diet; drinks nothing but water. To tire himself at any price, is his object. He remains on horseback for twelve or fourteen consecutive hours; and so he goes hunting and coursing through the woods the same animal, the stag, for two or three days, never stopping but to eat, and never resting but for an instant during the night.” He was passionately fond of all bodily exercises, the practice of arms, and the game of tennis. “He had a forge set up for himself,” says Brantome, “and I have seen him forging cannon, and horseshoes, and other things as stoutly as the most robust farriers and forgemen.” He, at the same time, showed a keen and intelligent interest in intellectual works and pleasures. He often had a meeting, in the evening, of poets, men of letters, and artists—Ronsard, Amadis Jamin, Jodelle, Daurat, Baif; in 1570 he gave them letters patent for the establishment of an Academy of poetry and music, the first literary society founded in France by a king; but it disappeared amidst the civil wars. Charles IX. himself sang in the choir, and he composed a few hunting-airs. Ronsard was a favorite, almost a friend, with him; he used to take him with him on his trips, and give him quarters in his palace, and there was many an interchange of verse between them, in which Ronsard did not always have the advantage. Charles gave a literary outlet to his passion for hunting; he wrote a little treatise entitled La Chasse royale, which was not published until 1625, and of which M. Henry Chevreul brought out, in 1857, a charming and very correct edition. Charles IX. dedicated it to his lieutenant of the hunt, Mesnil, in terms of such modest and affectionate simplicity that they deserve to be kept in remembrance. “Mesnil,” said the king, “I should feel myself far too ungrateful, and expect to be chidden for presumption, if, in this little treatise that I am minded to make upon stag hunting, I did not, before any one begins to read it, avow and confess that I learnt from you what little I know. . . . I beg you, also, Mesnil, to be pleased to correct and erase what there is wrong in the said treatise, the which, if peradventure it is so done that there is nothing more required than to re-word and alter, the credit will be firstly yours for having so well taught me, and then mine for having so well remembered. Well, then, having been taught by so good a master, I will be bold enough to essay it, begging you to accept it as heartily as I present it and dedicate it to you.”

These details and this quotation are allowable in order to shed full light upon the private and incoherent character of this king, who bears the responsibility of one of the most tragic events in French history. In the spring of 1574, at the age of twenty-three years and eleven months, and after a reign of eleven years and six months, Charles IX. was attacked by an inflammatory malady, which brought on violent hemorrhage; he was revisited, in his troubled sleep, by the same bloody visions about which, a few days after the St. Bartholomew, he had spoken to Ambrose Pare. He no longer retained in his room anybody but two of his servants and his nurse, “of whom he was very fond, although she was a Huguenot,” says the contemporary chronicler Peter de l’Estoile. “When she had lain down upon a chest, and was just beginning to doze, hearing the king moaning, weeping, and sighing, she went full gently up to the bed. ‘Ah, nurse, nurse,’ said the king, ‘what bloodshed and what murders! Ah! what evil counsel have I followed! O, my God! forgive me them and have mercy upon me, if it may please Thee! I know not what hath come to me, so bewildered and agitated do they make me. What will be the end of it all? What shall I do? I am lost; I see it well.’ Then said the nurse to him, ‘Sir, the murders be on the heads of those who made you do them! Of yourself, sir, you never could; and since you are not consenting thereto, and are sorry therefor, believe that God will not put them down to your account, and will hide them with the cloak of justice of His Son, to whom alone you must have recourse. But for God’s sake, let your Majesty cease weeping!’ And thereupon, having been to fetch him a pocket-handkerchief, because his own was soaked with tears, after that the king had taken it from her hand, he signed to her to go away and leave him to his rest.”

On Sunday, May 30, 1574, Whitsunday, about three in the afternoon, Charles IX. expired, after having signed an ordinance conferring the regency upon his mother Catherine, “who accepted it,” was the expression in the letters patent, “at the request of the Duke of Alencon, the King of Navarre, and other princes and peers of France.” According to D’Aubigne, Charles used often to say of his brother Henry, that, “when he had a kingdom on his hands, the administration would find him out, and that he would disappoint those who had hopes of him.” The last words he said were, “that he was glad not to have left any young child to succeed him, very well knowing that France needs a man, and that, with a child, the king and the reign are unhappy.”







Henry III.——388

Though elected King of Poland on the 9th of May, 1573, Henry, Duke of Anjou, had not yet left Paris at the end of the summer. Impatient at his slowness to depart, Charles IX. said, with his usual oath, “By God’s death! my brother or I must at once leave the kingdom: my mother shall not succeed in preventing it.” “Go,” said Catherine to Henry; “you will not be away long.” She foresaw, with no great sorrow one would say, the death of Charles IX., and her favorite son’s accession to the throne of France. Having arrived in Poland on the 25th of January, 1574, and been crowned at Cracow on the 24th of February, Henry had been scarcely four months King of Poland when he was apprised, about the middle of June, that his brother Charles had lately died, on the 30th of May, and that he was King of France. “Do not waste your time in deliberating,” said his French advisers; “you must go and take possession of the throne of France without abdicating that of Poland: go at once and without fuss.” Henry followed this counsel. He left Cracow, on the 18th of June, with a very few attendants. Some Poles were apprehensive of his design, but said nothing about it. He went a quarter of a league on foot to reach the horses which were awaiting him, set off at a gallop, rode all night, and arrived next day early on the frontier of Moravia, an Austrian province. The royal flight created a great uproar at Cracow; the noblemen, and even the peasants, armed with stakes and scythes, set out in pursuit of their king. They did not come up with him; they fell in with his chancellor only, Guy du Faur, Sieur de Pibrac, who had missed him at the appointed meeting-place, and who, whilst seeking to rejoin him, had lost himself in the forests and marshes, concealed himself in the osiers and reeds, and been obliged now and then to dip his head, in the mud to avoid the arrows discharged on all sides by the peasants in pursuit of the king. Being arrested by some people who were for taking him back to Cracow and paying him out for his complicity in his master’s flight, he with great difficulty obtained his release and permission to continue his road. Destined to become more celebrated by his writings and by his Quatrains moraux than by his courtly adventures, Pibrac rejoined King Henry at Vienna, where the Emperor Maximilian II. received him with great splendor. Delivered from fatigue and danger, Henry appeared to think of nothing but resting and diverting himself; he tarried to his heart’s content at Vienna, Venice, Ferrara, Mantua, and Turin. He was everywhere welcomed with brilliant entertainments, which the Emperor Maximilian and the senators of Venice accompanied with good advice touching the government of France in her religious troubles; and the nominal sovereign of two kingdoms took nearly three months in going from that whence he had fled to that of which he was about to take possession. Having started from Cracow on the 18th of June, 1574, he did not arrive until the 5th of September at Lyons, whither the queen-mother had sent his brother, the Duke of Alencon, and his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, to receive him, going herself as far as Bourgoin in Dauphiny, in order to be the first to see her darling son again.

The king’s entry into France caused, says De Thou, a strange revulsion in all minds. “During the lifetime of Charles IX., none had seemed more worthy of the throne than Henry, and everybody desired to have him for master. But scarcely had he arrived when disgust set in to the extent of auguring very ill of his reign. There was no longer any trace in this prince, who had been nursed, so to speak, in the lap of war, of that manly and warlike courage which had been so much admired. He no longer rode on horseback; he did not show himself amongst his people, as his predecessors had been wont to do; he was only to be seen shut up with a few favorites in a little painted boat which went up and down the Saone he no longer took his meals without a balustrade, which did not allow him to be approached any Hearer; and if anybody had any petitions to present to him, they had to wait for him as he came out from dinner, when he took them as he hurried by. For the greater part of the day he remained closeted with some young folks, who alone had the prince’s ear, without any body’s knowing how they had arrived at this distinction, whilst the great, and those whose services were known, could scarcely get speech of him. Showiness and effeminacy had taken the place of the grandeur and majesty which had formerly distinguished our kings.” [De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. vii. p. 134.]

Indolence of Henry III.—-390

“The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and ideas of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of quite a different character and to receive development in quite a different direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king’s government or malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the practice of independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The bonds of the feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet replaced by those of a hierarchically organized administration. Religious creeds and political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and straightforward spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action, and they furnished the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians of the Catholic church and of the Reformed churches—on one side the Cardinal of Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned priests or prelates, and on the other side Calvin, who had been nursed, so to speak, in the lap of war, of that manly and warlike courage which had been so much admired. He no longer rode on horseback; he did not show himself amongst his people, as his predecessors had been wont to do; he was only to be seen shut up with a few favorites in a little painted boat which went up and down the Saone he no longer took his meals without a balustrade, which did not allow him to be approached any nearer; and if anybody had any petitions to present to him, they had to wait for him as he came out from dinner, when he took them as he hurried by. For the greater part of the day he remained closeted with some young folks, who alone had the prince’s ear, without anybody’s knowing how they had arrived at this distinction, whilst the great, and those whose services were known, could scarcely get speech of him. Showiness and effeminacy had taken the place of the grandeur and majesty which had formerly distinguished our kings.” [De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. vii. p. 134.]

The time was ill chosen by Henry III. for this change of habits and for becoming an indolent and voluptuous king, set upon taking his pleasure in his court and isolating himself from his people. The condition and ideas of France were also changing, but to issue in the assumption of quite a different character and to receive development in quite a different direction. Catholics or Protestants, agents of the king’s government or malcontents, all were getting a taste for and adopting the practice of independence and a vigorous and spontaneous activity. The bonds of the feudal system were losing their hold, and were not yet replaced by those of a hierarchically organized administration. Religious creeds and political ideas were becoming, for thoughtful and straightforward spirits, rules of conduct, powerful motives of action, and they furnished the ambitious with effective weapons. The theologians of the Catholic church and of the Reformed churches—on one side the Cardinal of Lorraine, Cardinals Campeggi and Sadolet, and other learned priests or prelates, and on the other side Calvin, Theodore de Beze, Melancthon, and Bucer—were working with zeal to build up into systems of dogma their interpretations of the great facts of Christianity, and they succeeded in implanting a passionate attachment to them in their flocks. Independently of these religious controversies, superior minds, profound lawyers, learned scholars were applying their energies to founding, on a philosophical basis and historic principles, the organization of governments and the reciprocal rights of princes and peoples. Ramus, one of the last and of the most to be lamented victims of the St. Bartholomew; Francis Hotman, who, in his Franco-Gallia, aspired to graft the new national liberties upon the primitive institutions of the Franks; Hubert Languet, the eloquent author of the Vindicice contra tyrannos, or de la Puissance legitime du Prince cur le Peuple et du Peuple sur le Prince; John Bodin, the first, in original merit, amongst the publicists of the sixteenth century, in his six livres de LA REPUBLIQUE; all these eminent men boldly tackled the great questions of political liberty or of legislative reforms. Le Contre-un, that republican treatise by De la Boetie, written in 1546, and circulated, at first, in manuscript only, was inserted, between 1576 and 1578, in the Memoires de l’Etat de France, and passionately extolled by the independent thinker Michael de Montaigne in his Essais, of which nine editions were published between 1580 and 1598, and evidently very much read in the world of letters. An intellectual movement so active and powerful could not fail to have a potent effect upon political life. Before the St. Bartholomew, the great religious and political parties, the Catholic and the Protestant, were formed and at grips; the house of Lorraine at the head of the Catholics, and the house of Bourbon, Conde, and Coligny at the head of the Protestants, with royalty trying feebly and vainly to maintain between them a hollow peace. To this stormy and precarious, but organized and clearly defined condition, the St. Bartholomew had caused anarchy to succeed. Protestantism, vanquished but not destroyed, broke up into provincial and municipal associations without recognized and dominant heads, without discipline or combination in respect of either their present management or their ultimate end. Catholicism, though victorious, likewise underwent a break-up; men of mark, towns and provinces, would not accept the St. Bartholomew and its consequences; a new party, the party of the policists, sprang up, opposed to the principle and abjuring the practice of persecution, having no mind to follow either the Catholics in their outrages or royalty in its tergiversations, and striving to maintain in the provinces and the towns, where it had the upper hand, enough of order and of justice to at least keep at a distance the civil war which was elsewhere raging. Languedoc owed to Marshal de Damville, second son of the Constable Anne de Montmorency, this comparatively bearable position. But the degree of security and of local peace which it offered the people was so imperfect, so uncertain, that the break-up of the country and of the state went still farther. In a part of Languedoc, in the Vivarais, the inhabitants, in order to put their habitations and their property in safety, resolved to make a league amongst themselves, without consulting any authority, not even Marshal de Damville, the peace-seeking governor of their province. Their treaty of alliance ran, that arms should be laid down throughout the whole of the Vivarais; that none, foreigner or native, should be liable to trouble for the past; that tillers of the soil and traders should suffer no detriment in person or property; that all hostilities should cease in the towns and all forays in the country; that there should everywhere be entire freedom for commerce; that cattle which had been lifted should be immediately restored gratis; that concerted action should be taken to get rid of the garrisons out of the country and to raze the fortresses, according as the public weal might require; and finally that whosoever should dare to violate these regulations should be regarded as a traitor and punished as a disturber of the public peace. “As soon as the different authorities in the state, Marshal de Damville as well as the rest, were informed of this novelty,” says De Thou, “they made every effort to prevent it from taking effect. ‘Nothing could be of more dangerous example,’ they said, ‘than to suffer the people to make treaties in this way and on their own authority, without waiting for the consent of his Majesty or of those who represented him in the provinces.’ The folks of the Vivarais, on the contrary, presumed to justify themselves by saying that the step they had taken did not in any way infringe the king’s authority; that it was rather an opening given by them for securely establishing tranquillity in the kingdom; that nothing was more advantageous or could contribute more towards peace than to raze all those fortresses set up in the heart of the state, which were like so many depots of revolt; that by a diminution of the garrisons the revenues of his Majesty would be proportionately augmented; that, at any rate, there would result this advantage, that the lands, which formed almost the whole wealth of the kingdom, would be cultivated, that commerce would flourish, and that the people, delivered from fear of the many scoundrels who, found a retreat in those places, would at last be able to draw breath after the many misfortunes they had experienced.”

It was in this condition of disorganization and red-hot anarchy that Henry III., on his return from Poland, and after the St. Bartholomew, found France; it was in the face of all these forces, full of life, but scattered and excited one against another, that, with the aid of his mother, Catherine, he had to re-establish unity in the state, the effectiveness of the government, and the public peace. It was not a task for which the tact of an utterly corrupted woman and an irresolute prince sufficed. What could the artful manoeuvrings of Catherine and the waverings of Henry III. do towards taming both Catholics and Protestants at the same time, and obliging them to live at peace with one another, under one equitable and effective power? Henry IV. was as yet unformed, nor was his hour yet come for this great work. Henry III. and Catherine de’ Medici failed in it completely; their government of fifteen years served only to make them lose their reputation for ability, and to aggravate for France the evils which it was their business to heal. In 1575, a year only after Henry III.‘s accession, revolt penetrated to the royal household. The Duke of Alencon, the king’s younger brother, who, since his brother’s coronation, took the title of Duke of Anjou, escaped on the 15th of September from the Louvre by a window, and from Paris by a hole made in the wall of circumvallation. He fled to Dreux, a town in his appanage, and put himself at the head of a large number of malcontents, nobles and burgesses, Catholic and Reformed, mustered around him under this name of no religious significance between the two old parties. On the 17th of September, in his manifesto, he gave as reasons for his revolt, excessive taxation, waste of the public revenues, the feebleness of the royal authority, incapable as it was of putting a stop to the religious troubles, and the disgrace which had been inflicted upon himself “by pernicious ministers who desire to have the government in their sole patronage, excluding from it the foremost and the most illustrious of the court, and devouring all that there is remaining to the poor people.” He protested his devotion to the king his brother, at the same time declaring war against the Guises.

King Henry of Navarre, testifying little sympathy with the Duke of Anjou, remained at court, abandoning himself apparently to his pleasures alone. Two of his faithful servants (the poet-historian D’Aubigne was one of them) heard him one night sighing as he lay in bed, and humming half aloud this versicle from the eighty-eighth Psalm:—

“Removed from friends, I sigh alone,
In a loathed dungeon laid, where none
A visit will vouchsafe to me,
Confined past hope of liberty.”

“Sir,” said D’Aubigne eagerly, “it is true, then, that the Sprit of God worketh and dwelleth in you still? You sigh unto God because of the absence of your friends and faithful servants; and all the while they are together, sighing because of yours and laboring for your freedom. But you have only tears in your eyes, and they, arms in hand, are fighting your enemies. As for us two, we were talking of taking to flight tomorrow, when your voice made us draw the curtain. Bethink you, sir, that, after us, the hands that will serve you would not dare refuse to employ poison and the knife.” Henry, much moved, resolved to follow the example of the Duke of Anjou. His departure was fixed for the 3d of February, 1576. He went and slept at Senlis; hunted next day very early, and, on his return from hunting, finding his horses baited and ready, “What news?” he asked. “Sir,” said D’Aubigne, “we are betrayed; the king knows all; the road to death and shame is Paris; that to life and glory is anywhere else.” “That is more than enough; away!” replied Henry. They rode all night, and arrived without misadventure at Alencon. Two hundred and fifty gentlemen, having been apprised in time, went thither to join the King of Navarre. He pursued his road in their company. From Senlis to the Loire he was silent but when he had crossed the river, “Praised be God, who has delivered me!” he cried; “at Paris they were the death of my mother; there they killed the admiral and my best servants; and they had no mind to do any better by me, if God had not had me in his keeping. I return thither no more unless I am dragged. I regret only two things that I have left behind at Paris—mass and my wife. As for mass, I will try to do without it; but as for my wife, I cannot; I mean to see her again.” He disavowed the appearances of Catholicism he had assumed, again made open profession of Protestantism by holding at the baptismal font, in the conventicle, the daughter of a physician amongst his friends. Then he reached Bearn, declaring that he meant to remain there independent and free. A few days before his departure he had written to one of his Bearnese friends, “The court is the strangest you ever saw. We are almost always ready to cut one another’s throats. We wear daggers, shirts of mail, and very often the whole cuirass under the cape. I am only waiting for the opportunity to deliver a little battle, for they tell me they will kill me, and I want to be beforehand.” Mesdames de Carnavalet and de Sauve, two of his fair friends, had warned him that, far from giving him the lieutenant-generalship, which had been so often promised him, it had been decided to confer this office on the king’s brother, in order to get him back to court and seize his person as soon as he arrived.

It was the increasing preponderance of the Guises, at court as well as in the country, which caused the two princes to take this sudden resolution. Since Henry III.‘s coming to the throne, war had gone on between the Catholics and the Protestants, but languidly and with frequent suspensions through local and shortlived truces. The king and the queen-mother would have been very glad that the St. Bartholomew should be short-lived also, as a necessary but transitory crisis; it had rid them of their most formidable adversaries, Coligny and the Reformers of note who were about him. Henry and Catherine aspired to no more than resuming their policy of manoeuvring and wavering between the two parties engaged in the struggle; but it was not for so poor a result that the ardent Catholics had committed the crime of the St. Bartholomew; they promised themselves from it the decisive victory of their church and of their supremacy. Henry de Guise came forward as their leader in this grand design; there are to be read, beneath a portrait of him done in the sixteenth century, these verses, also of that date:—

“The virtue, greatness, wisdom from on high,
Of yonder duke, triumphant far and near,
Do make bad men to shrink with coward fear,
And God’s own Catholic church to fructify.
In armor clad, like maddened Mars he moves;
The trembling Huguenot cowers at his glance;
A prop for holy church is his good lance;
His eye is ever mild to those he loves.”

Guise cultivated very carefully this ardent confidence on the part of Catholic France; he recommended to his partisans attention to little pious and popular practices. “I send you some paternosters [meaning, in the plural, the beads of a chaplet, or the chaplet entire],” he wrote to his wife, Catherine of Cleves; “you will have strings made for them and string them together. I don’t know whether you dare offer some of them to the queens and to my lady mother. Ask advice of Mesdames de Retz and de Villeroy about it.” The flight and insurrection of the Duke of Anjou and the King of Navarre furnished the Duke of Guise with a very natural occasion for re-engaging in the great struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism, wherein the chief part belonged to him. Let us recur, for a moment, to the origin of that struggle and the part taken in it, at the outset, by the princes of the house of Lorraine. “As early as the year 1562, twenty-six years before the affair of the barricades,” says M. Vitet in the excellent introduction which he has put at the head of his beautiful historic dramas from the last half of the sixteenth century, “Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, being at the Council of Trent, conceived the plan of a Holy League, or association of Catholics, which was to have the triple object of defending, by armed force, the Romish church in France, of obtaining for the cardinal’s brother, Duke Francis de Guise, the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom, and of helping him to ascend the throne, in case the line of the Valois should become extinct. The death of Duke Francis, murdered in front of Orleans by Poltrot, did not permit the cardinal to carry out his plan. Five years afterwards, Henry de Guise, eldest son of Francis, and then eighteen years of age, caused to be drawn up, for the first time, a form of oath whereby the dignitaries bound themselves to sacrifice their goods and lives in defence of the Catholic religion in the face of and against all, except the king, the royal family, and the princes of their connection. This form was signed by the nobility of Champagne and Brie, a province of which Henry de Guise was governor, and on the 25th of July, 1568, the bishop and clergy of Troyes signed it likewise. The association is named, in the form, Holy League, Christian and royal. Up to the year 1576 it remained secret, and did not cross the boundaries of Champagne.” To this summary of M. Vitet’s may be added that independently of the Champagnese league of 1568 and in the interval between 1568 and 1575 there had been formed, in some provinces and towns, other local associations for the defence of the Catholic church against the heretics. When, in 1575, first the Duke of Anjou and after him the King of Navarre were seen flying from the court of Henry III. and commencing an insurrection with the aid of a considerable body of German auxiliaries and French refugees, already on French soil and on their way across Champagne, the peril of the Catholic church appeared so grave and so urgent that, in the threatened provinces, the Catholics devoted themselves with ardor to the formation of a grand association for the defence of their cause. Then and thus was really born the League, secret at first, but, before long, publicly and openly proclaimed, which held so important a place in the history of the sixteenth century. Picardy and Champagne were the first scene of its formation; but in the neighboring provinces the same travail took place and brought forth fruits. At Paris, a burgess named La Roche-Blond, and devoted to the Guises, a perfumer named Peter de la Bruyere and his son Matthew de la Bruyere, councillor at the Chatelet, were, says De Thou, the first and most zealous preachers of the Union. “At their solicitation,” continues the austere magistrate, “all the debauchees there were in this great city, all folks whose only hope was in civil war for the indulgence of their libertinism or for a safe means of satisfying their avarice or their ambition, enrolled themselves emulously in this force. Many, even of the richest burgesses, whose hatred for Protestants blinded them so far as not to see the dangers to which such associations expose public tranquillity in a well-regulated state, had the weakness to join the seditious.”

Many asked for time to consider, and, before making any engagement, they went to see President de Thou [Christopher, premier president of the Parliament of Paris since 1562, and father of the historian James Augustus de Thou], informed him of these secret assemblies and all that went on there, and begged him to tell them whether he approved of them, and whether it was true that the court authorized them. M. de Thou answered them at once, with that straightforwardness which was innate in him, that these kinds of proceedings had not yet come to his knowledge, that he doubted whether they had the approbation of his Majesty, and that they would do wisely to hold aloof from all such associations. The authority of this great man began to throw suspicion upon the designs of the Unionists, and his reply prevented many persons from casting in their lot with the party; but they who found themselves at the head of this faction were not the folks to so easily give up their projects, for they felt themselves too well supported at court and amongst the people. They advised the Lorraine princes to have the Union promulgated in the provinces, and to labor to make the nobility of the kingdom enter it.

Henry de Guise did not hesitate. At the same time that he avowed the League and labored to propagate it, he did what was far more effectual for its success: he entered the field and gained a victory. The German allies and French refugees who had come to support Prince Henry de Conde and the Duke of Anjou in their insurrection advanced into Champagne. Guise had nothing ready, neither army nor money; he mustered in haste three thousand horse, who were to be followed by a body of foot and a moiety of the king’s guards. “I haven’t a son,” he wrote to his wife; “take something out of the king’s chest, if there is anything there; provided you know that there is something there, don’t be afraid; take it and send it me at once. As for the reitres, they are more afraid of us than we of them; don’t be frightened about them on my account; the greatest danger I shall run will be that a glass of wine may break in my hand.” He set out in pursuit of the Germans, came up with them on the 10th of October, 1575, at Port-a-Binson, on the Marne, and ordered them to be attacked by his brother the Duke of Mayenne, whom he supported vigorously. They were broken and routed. The hunt, according to the expression at the time, lasted all the rest of the day and during the night. “A world of dead covers the field of battle,” wrote Guise. He had himself been wounded: he went in obstinate pursuit of a mounted foe whom he had twice touched with his sword, and who, in return, had fired two pistol-shots, of which one took effect in the leg, and the other carried away part of his cheek and his left ear. Thence came his name of Henry the Scarred (le Balafre), which has clung to him in history.

Henry Le Balafre——400

Scarcely four years had rolled away since the St. Bartholomew. In vain had been the massacre of ten thousand Protestants, according to the lowest, and of one hundred thousand, according to the highest estimates, besides nearly all the renowned chiefs of the party. Charles IX.‘s earnest prayer, “That none remain to reproach me!” was so far from accomplishment that the war between Catholicism and Protestantism recommenced in almost every part of France with redoubled passion, with a new importance of character, and with symptoms of much longer duration than at its first outbreak. Both parties had found leaders made, both from their position and their capacity, to command them. Admiral Coligny was succeeded by the King of Navarre, who was destined to become Henry IV.; and Duke Francis of Guise by his son Henry, if not as able, at any rate as brave a soldier, and a more determined Catholic than he. Amongst the Protestants, Sully and Da Plessis-Mornay were assuming shape and importance by the side of the King of Navarre. Catherine de’ Medici placed at her son’s service her Italian adroitness, her maternal devotion, and an energy rare for a woman between sixty and seventy years of age, for forty-three years a queen, and worn out by intrigue, and business, and pleasure. Finally, to the question of religion, the primary cause of the struggle, was added a question of kingship, kept in the background, but ever present in thought and deed: which of the three houses of Valois, Bourbon, and Lorraine should remain in or enter upon possession of the throne of France. The interests and the ambition of families and of individuals were playing their part simultaneously with the controversies and the passions of creed.

This state of things continued for twelve years, from 1576 to 1588, with constant alternations of war, truce, and precarious peace, and in the midst of constant hesitation, on the part of Henry III., between alliance with the League, commanded by the Duke of Guise, and adjustment with the Protestants, of whom the King of Navarre was every day becoming the more and more avowed leader. Between 1576 and 1580, four treaties of peace were concluded; in 1576, the peace called Monsieur’s, signed at Chastenay in Orleanness; in 1577, the peace of Bergerac or of Poitiers; in 1579, the peace of Nerac; in 1580, the peace of Fleix in Perigord. In November, 1576, the states-general were convoked and assembled at Blois, where they sat and deliberated up to March, 1577, without any important result. Neither these diplomatic conventions nor these national assemblies had force enough to establish a real and lasting peace between the two parties, for the parties themselves would not have it; in vain did Henry III. make concessions and promises of liberty to the Protestants; he was not in a condition to guarantee their execution and make it respected by their adversaries. At heart neither Protestants nor Catholics were for accepting mutual liberty; not only did they both consider themselves in possession of all religious truth, but they also considered themselves entitled to impose it by force upon their adversaries. The discovery (and the term is used advisedly, so slow to come and so long awaited has been the fact which it expresses), the discovery of the legitimate separation between the intellectual world and the political world, and of the necessity, also, of having the intellectual world free in order that it may not make upon the political world a war which, in the inevitable contact between them, the latter could not support for long, this grand and salutary discovery, be it repeated, and its practical influence in the government of people cannot be realized save in communities already highly enlightened and politically well ordered. Good order, politically, is indispensable if liberty, intellectually, is to develop itself regularly and do the community more good than it causes of trouble and embarrassment. They only who have confidence in human intelligence sincerely admit its right to freedom; and confidence in human intelligence is possible only in the midst of a political regimen which likewise gives the human community the guarantees whereof its interests and its lasting security have absolute need. The sixteenth century was a long way from these conditions of harmony between the intellectual world and the political world, the necessity of which is beginning to be understood and admitted by only the most civilized and best governed amongst modern communities. It is one of the most tardy and difficult advances that people have to accomplish in their life of labor. The sixteenth century helped France to make considerable strides in civilization and intellectual development; but the eighteenth and nineteenth have taught her how great still, in the art of governing and being governed as a free people, are her children’s want of foresight and inexperience, and, to what extent they require a strong and sound organization of political freedom in order that they may without danger enjoy intellectual freedom, its pleasures and its glories.

From 1576 to 1588, Henry III. had seen the difficulties of his government continuing and increasing. His attempt to maintain his own independence and the mastery of the situation between Catholics and Protestants, by making concessions and promises at one time to the former and at another to the latter, had not succeeded; and in 1584 it became still more difficult to practise. On the 10th of June in that year Henry III.‘s brother, the Duke of Anjou, died at Chateau-Thierry. By this death the leader of the Protestants, Henry, King of Navarre, became lawful heir to the throne of France. The Leaguers could not stomach that prospect. The Guises turned it to formidable account. They did not hesitate to make the future of France a subject of negotiation with Philip II. of Spain, at that time her most dangerous enemy in Europe. By a secret convention concluded at Joinville on the 31st of December, 1584, between Philip and the Guises, it was stipulated that at the death of Henry III. the crown should pass to Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, sixty-four years of age, the King of Navarre’s uncle, who, in order to make himself king, undertook to set aside his nephew’s hereditary right, and forbid, absolutely, heretical worship in France. He published on the 31st of March, 1585, a declaration wherein he styled himself premier prince of the blood, and conferred upon the Duke of Guise the title of lieutenant-general of the League. By a bull of September 10, 1585, Sixtus V., but lately elected pope, excommunicated the King of Navarre as a heretic and relapsed, denying him any right of succession to the crown of France, and releasing his Narvarrese subjects from their oath of fidelity. Sixtus V. did not yet know what manner of man he was thus attacking. The King of Navarre did not confine himself to protesting in France, on the 10th of June, 1585, against this act of the pope’s: he had his protest placarded at Rome itself upon the statues of Pasquin and Marforio, and at the very doors of the Vatican, referring the pope, as to the question of heresy, to a council which he claimed at an early date, and at the same time appealing against this alleged abuse of power to the court of peers of France, “of whom,” said he, “I have the honor to be the premier.” The whole of Italy, including Sixtus V. himself, a pope of independent mind and proud heart, was struck with this energetic resistance on the part of a petty king. “It would be a good thing,” said the pope to Marquis Pasani, Henry III.‘s ambassador, “if the king your master showed as much resolution against his enemies as the King of Navarre shows against those who attack him.” At the first moment Henry III. had appeared to unravel the intentions of the League and to be disposed to resist it; by an edict of March 28, 1585, he had ordered that its adherents should be prosecuted; but Catherine de’ Medici frightened him with the war which would infallibly be kindled, and in which he would have for enemies all the Catholics, more irritated than ever. And Henry III. very easily took fright. Catherine undertook to manage the recoil for him. “I care not who likes it and who doesn’t,” she was wont to say in such cases. She asked the Duke of Guise for an interview, which took place, first of all at Epernay, and afterwards at Rheims. The hard demands of the Lorrainers did not deter the queen-mother, and, on the 7th of July, 1585, a treaty was concluded at Nemours between Henry III. and the League, to the effect “that by an irrevocable edict the practice of the new religion should be forbidden, and that there should henceforth be no other practice of religion, throughout the realm of France, save that of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman; that all the ministers should depart from the kingdom within a month; that all the subjects of his Majesty should be bound to live according to the Catholic religion and make profession thereof within six months, on pain of confiscation both of person and goods; that heretics, of whatsoever quality they might be, should be declared incapable of holding benefices, public offices, positions, and dignities; that the places which had been given in guardianship to them for their security should be taken back again forthwith; and, lastly, that the princes designated in the treaty, amongst whom were all the Guises at the top, should receive as guarantee certain places to be held by them for five years.”

This treaty was signed by all the negotiators, and specially by the queen-mother, the Cardinals of Bourbon and Guise, and the Dukes of Guise and Mayenne. It was the decisive act which made the war a war of religion.

On the 18th of July following, Henry III., on his way to the Palace of Justice to be present at the publication of the edict he had just issued in virtue of this treaty with the League, said to the Cardinal of Bourbon, “My dear uncle, against my conscience, but very willingly, I published the edicts of pacification, because they were successful in giving relief to my people; and now I am going to publish the revocation of those edicts in accordance with my conscience, but very unwillingly, because on its publication hangs the ruin of my kingdom and of my people.” When he issued from the palace, cries of “Long live the king!” were heard; “at which astonishment was expressed,” says Peter de l’Estoile (t. i. p. 294), “because for a long time past no such favor had been shown him. But it was discovered that these acclamations were the doing of persons posted about by the Leaguers, and that, for doing it, money had been given to idlers and sweetmeats to children.” Some days afterwards, the King of Navarre received news of the treaty of Nemours. He was staying near Bergerac, at the castle of the Lord of La Force, with whom he was so intimate that he took with him none of his household, as he preferred to be waited upon by M. de la Force’s own staff. “I was so grievously affected by it,” said he himself at a later period to M. de la Force, “that, as I pondered deeply upon it and held my head supported upon my hand, my apprehensions of the woes I foresaw for my country were such as to whiten one half of my mustache.” [Memoires du Due de la Force, t. i. p. 50.] Henry III., for his part, was but little touched by the shouts of Long live the king! that he heard as he left the palace; he was too much disquieted to be rejoiced at them. He did not return the greeting of the municipal functionaries or of the mob that blocked his way. “You see how reluctant he is to embroil himself with the Huguenots,” said the partisans of the Guises to the people.

It was the recommencement of religious civil war, with more deadliness than ever. The King of Navarre left no stone unturned to convince everybody, friends and enemies, great lords and commonalty, Frenchmen and foreigners, that this recurrence of war was not his doing, and that the Leaguers forced it upon him against his wish and despite of the justice of his cause. He wrote to Henry III., “Monseigneur, as soon as the originators of these fresh disturbances had let the effects appear of their ill-will towards your Majesty and your kingdom, you were pleased to write to me the opinion you had formed, with very good title, of their intentions; you told me that you knew, no matter what pretext they assumed, that they had designs against your person and your crown, and that they desired their own augmentation and aggrandizement at your expense and to your detriment. Such were the words of your letters, Mon seigneur, and you did me the honor, whilst recognizing the connection between my fortunes and those of your Majesty, to add expressly that they were compassing my ruin together with your own. . . . And now, Monseigneur, when I hear it suddenly reported that your Majesty has made a treaty of peace with those who have risen up against your service, providing that your edict be broken, your loyal subjects banished, and the conspirators armed, and armed with your power and your authority against me, who have the honor of belonging to you, I leave your Majesty to judge in what a labyrinth I find myself. . . . If it is I whom they seek, or if under my shadow (on my account) they trouble this realm, I have begged that, without henceforth causing the orders and estates of this realm to suffer for it, and without the intervention of any army, home or foreign, this quarrel be decided in the Duke of Guise’s person and my own, one to one, two to two, ten to ten, twenty to twenty, in any number that the said Lord of Guise shall think proper, with the arms customary amongst gentlemen of honor. ... It will be a happiness for us, my cousin [Henry de Conde] and myself, to deliver, at the price of our blood, the king our sovereign lord from the travails and trials that are a-brewing for him, his kingdom from trouble and confusion, his noblesse from ruin, and all his people from extreme misery and calamity.”

The Duke of Guise respectfully declined, at the same time that he thanked the King of Navarre for the honor done him, saying that he could not accept the offer, as he was maintaining the cause of religion, and not a private quarrel. On his refusal, war appeared to everybody, and in fact became, inevitable. At his re-engagement in it, the King of Navarre lost no time about informing his friends at home and his allies abroad, the noblesse, the clergy, and the third estate of France, the city of Paris, the Queen of England. the Protestant princes of Germany, and the Swiss cantons, of all he had done to avoid it; he evidently laid great store upon making his conduct public and his motives understood. He had for his close confidant and his mouth-piece Philip du Plessis-Mornay, at that time thirty-six years of age, one of the most learned and most hard-working as well as most zealous and most sterling amongst the royalist Protestants of France. It was his duty to draw up the documents, manifestoes, and letters published by the King of Navarre, when Henry did not himself stamp upon them the seal of his own language, vivid, eloquent, and captivating in its brevity.

Henry III. and the queen-mother were very much struck with this intelligent energy on the part of the King of Navarre, and with the influence he acquired over all that portion of the French noblesse and burgesses which had not fanatically enlisted beneath the banner of the League. Catherine, accustomed to count upon her skill in the art of seductive conversation, was for putting it to fresh proof in the case of the King of Navarre. Louis di Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, an Italian, like herself, and one of her confidants, was sent in advance to sound Henry of Navarre. He wrote to Henry III., “Such, sir, as you have known this prince, such is he even now; nor years nor difficulties change him; he is still agreeable, still merry, still devoted, as he has sworn to me a hundred times, to peace and your Majesty’s service.” Catherine proposed to him an interview. Henry hesitated to comply. From Jarnac, where he was, he sent Viscount de Turenne to Catherine to make an agreement with her for a few days’ truce. “Catherine gave Turenne to understand that, in order to have peace, the King of Navarre must turn Catholic, and put a stop to the exercise of the Reformed religion in the towns he held.” When this was reported by his envoy, Henry, who had set out for the interview, was on the point of retracing his steps; he went on, however, as he was curious to see Catherine, to satisfy his mind upon the point and to answer her.” They met on the 14th of December, 1586, at the castle of St. Brice, near Cognac, both of them with gloomy looks. Catherine asked Henry whether Turenne had spoken to him about what, she said, was her son’s most express desire.

“I am astounded,” said Henry, “that your Majesty should have taken so much pains to tell me what my ears are split with hearing; and likewise that you, whose judgment is so sound, should delude yourself with the idea of solving the difficulty by means of the difficulty itself. You propose to me a thing that I cannot do without forfeiture of conscience and honor, and without injury to the king’s service. I should not carry with me all those of the religion; and they of the League would be so much the more irritated in that they would lose their hope of depriving me of the right which I have to the throne. They do not want me with you, madame, for they would then be in sorry plight, you better served, and all your good subjects more happy.” The queen-mother did not dispute the point. She dwelt “upon the inconveniences Henry suffered during the war.” “I bear them patiently, madame,” said Henry, “since you burden me with them in order to unburden yourself of them.” She reproached him with not doing as he pleased in Rochelle. “Pardon me, madame,” said he, “I please only as I ought.” The Duke of Nevers, who was present at the interview, was bold enough to tell him that he could not impose a tax upon Rochelle. “That is true,” said Henry: “and so we have no Italian amongst us.” He took leave of the queen-mother, who repeated what she had said to Viscount de Turenne, “charging him to make it known to the noblesse who were of his following.” “It is just eighteen months, madame,” said he, “since I ceased to obey the king. He has made war upon me like a wolf, you like a lioness.” “The king and I seek nothing but your welfare.” “Excuse me, madame; I think it would be the contrary.” “My son, would you have the pains I have taken for the last six months remain without fruit?” “Madame, it is not I who prevent you from resting in your bed; it is you who prevent me from lying down in mine.” “Shall I be always at pains, I who ask for nothing but rest?” “Madame, the pains please you and agree with you; if you were at rest you could not live long.” Catherine had brought with her what was called her flying squadron of fair creatures of her court: but, “Madame,” said Henry, as he withdrew, “there is nothing here for me.”

Before taking part in the war which was day by day becoming more and more clearly and explicitly a war of religion, the Protestant princes of Germany and the four great free cities of Strasbourg, Ulm, Nuremberg, and Frankfort resolved to make, as the King of Navarre had made, a striking move on behalf of peace and religious liberty. They sent to Henry III. ambassadors, who, on the 11th of October, 1586, treated him to some frank and bold speaking. “Our princes and masters,” they said to him, “have been moved with surprise and Christian compassion towards you, as faithful friends and good neighbors of yours, on hearing that you, not being pleased to suffer in your kingdom any person not of the Roman religion, have broken the edict of peace which was so solemnly done and based upon your Majesty’s faith and promise, and which is the firm prop of the tranquillity of your Majesty and your dominions; the which changes have appeared to them strange, seeing that your royal person, your dominions, your conscience, your honor, your reputation and good fame happened to be very much concerned therewith.” Shocked at so rude an admonition, Henry III. answered, “It is God who made me king; and as I bear the title of Most Christian King, I have ever been very zealous for the preservation of the Catholic religion. . . . It appertains to me alone to decide, according to my discernment, what may contribute to the public weal, to make laws for to procure it, to interpret those laws, to change them, and to abolish them, just as I find it expedient. I have done so hitherto, and I shall still do so for the future;” and he dismissed the ambassadors. That very evening, on reflecting upon his words, and considering that his answer had not met the requirements of the case, he wrote with his own hand on a small piece of paper, “that whoever said that in revoking the edict of pacification he had violated his faith or put a blot upon his honor, had lied;” and he ordered one of his officers, though the night was far advanced, to carry that paper to the ambassadors, and read it to them textually. They asked for a copy; but Henry III., always careful not to have to answer for his words, had bidden his officer to suppress the document after having read it; and the Germans departed, determined upon war as well as quite convinced of the king’s arrogant pusillanimity.

Except some local and short-lived truces, war was already lazing throughout nearly the whole of France, in Provence, in Dauphiny, in Nivernais, in Guienne, in Anjou, in Normandy, in Picardy, in Champagne. We do not care to follow the two parties through the manifold but monotonous incidents of their tumultuous and passionate strife; we desire to review only those events that were of a general and a decisive character. They occurred, naturally, in those places which were the arena, and in those armies which were under the command, of the two leaders, Duke Henry of Guise and King Henry of Navarre. The former took upon himself the duty of repulsing, in the north-west of France, the German and Swiss corps which were coming to the assistance of the French Reformers; the latter put himself at the head of the French Protestant forces summoned to face, in the provinces of the centre and south-west, the royalist armies. Guise was successful in his campaign against the foreigners: on the 26th of October, 1587, his scouts came and told him that the Germans were at Vimory, near Montargis, dispersed throughout the country, without vedettes or any of the precautions of warfare; he was at table with his principal officers at Courtenay, almost seven leagues away from the enemy; he remained buried in thought for a few minutes, and then suddenly gave the order to sound boot-and-saddle [boute-selle, i.e., put-on saddle]. “What for, pray?” said his brother, the Duke of Mayenne. “To go and fight.” “Pray reflect upon, what you are going to do.” “Reflections that I haven’t made in a quarter of an hour I shouldn’t make in a year.” Mounting at once, the leader and his squadrons arrived at midnight at the gates of Vimory; they found, it is said, the Germans drunk, asleep, and scattered; according to the reporters on the side of the League, the victory of Guise was complete; he took from the Germans twenty-eight hundred horses: the Protestants said that the body he charged were nothing but a lot of horse-boys, and that the two flags he took had for device nothing but a sponge and a currycomb. But fifteen days later, on the 11th of November, at Auneau, near Chartres, Guise gained an indisputable and undisputed victory over the Germans; and their general, Baron Dohna, and some of his officers only saved themselves by cutting their way through sword in hand. The Swiss, being discouraged, and seeing in the army of Henry III. eight thousand of their countrymen, who were serving in it not, like themselves, as adventurers, but under the flags and with the authorization of their cantons, separated from the Germans and withdrew, after receiving from Henry III. four hundred thousand crowns as the price of their withdrawal. In Burgundy, in Champagne, and in Orleanness, the campaign terminated to the honor of Guise, which Henry III. was far from regarding as a victory for himself.

But almost at the same time at which the League obtained this success in the provinces of the east and centre, it experienced in those of the south-west a reverse more serious for the Leaguers than the Duke of Guise’s victory had been fortunate for them. Henry III. had given the command of his army south of the Loire to one of his favorites, Anne, Duke of Joyeuse, a brilliant, brave, and agreeable young man, whose fortunes he had advanced beyond measure, to the extent of marrying him to Marguerite de Lorraine, the queen’s sister, and raising for him the viscountship of Joyeuse to a duchy-peerage, giving him rank, too, after the princes of the blood and before the dukes of old creation. Joyeuse was at the head of six thousand foot, two thousand horse, and six pieces of cannon. He entered Poitou and marched towards the Dordogne, whilst the King of Navarre was at La Rochelle, engaged in putting into order two pieces of cannon, which formed the whole of his artillery, and in assembling round him his three cousins, the Prince of Conde, the Count of Soissons, and the Prince of Conti, that he might head the whole house of Bourbon at the moment when he was engaging seriously in the struggle with the house of Valois and the house of Lorraine. A small town, Coutras, situated at the confluence of the two rivers of L’Isle and La Dronne, in the Gironde, offered the two parties an important position to occupy. “According to his wont,” says the Duke of Aumale in his Histoire des Princes de Conde, “the Bearnese was on horseback whilst his adversary was banqueting.” He outstripped Joyeuse; and when the latter drew near to Contras, he found the town occupied by the Protestant advance-guard, and had barely time to fall back upon La Roche-Chalais. The battle began on the 20th of October, 1587, shortly after sunrise. We will here borrow the equally dramatic and accurate account of it given by the Duke of Aumale: “At this solemn moment the King of Navarre calls to his side his cousins and his principal officers; then, in his manly and sonorous voice, he addresses his men-at-arms: ‘My friends, here is a quarry for you very different from your past prizes. It is a brand-new bridegroom, with his marriage-money still in his coffers; and all the cream of the courtiers are with him. Will you let yourselves go down before this handsome dancing-master and his minions? No, they are ours; I see it by your eagerness to fight. Still we must all of us understand that the event is in the hands of God. Pray we Him to aid us. This deed will be the greatest that we ever did; the glory will be to God, the service to our sovereign lord the king, the honor to ourselves, and the benefit to the state.’ Henry uncovers; the clergymen Chandieu and Damours intone the army’s prayer, and the men-at-arms repeat in chorus the twenty-fourth versicle of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm: ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’ As they were hastening each to his post, the king detains his cousins a moment. ‘Gentlemen,’ he shouts, ‘I have just one thing to say: remember that you are of the house of Bourbon; and, as God liveth, I will let you see that I am your senior.’ ‘And we will show you some good juniors,’ answered Conde.”

Before midday the battle was won and the royalist army routed, but not without having made a valiant stand. During the action, D’Epinay Saint-Luc, one of the bravest royalist soldiers, met the Duke of Joyeuse already wounded. “What’s to be done?” he asked. “Die,” answered Joyeuse; and a few moments afterwards, as he was moving away some paces to the rear in order to get near to his artillery, says D’Aubigne, he was surrounded by several Huguenots, who recognized him. “There are a hundred-thousand crowns to be gained,” he shouted; but rage was more powerful than cupidity, and one of them shattered his skull with a pistol-shot. “His body was taken to the king’s quarters: there it lay, in the evening, upon a table in the very room where the conqueror’s supper had been prepared: but the King of Navarre ordered all who were in the chamber to go out, had his supper things removed else-whither, and, with every mark of respect, committed the remains of the vanquished to the care of Viscount de Turenne, his near relative. Henry showed a simple and modest joy at his splendid triumph. It was five and twenty years since the civil war commenced, and he was the first Protestant general who had won a pitched battle; he had to regret only twenty-five killed, whereas the enemy had lost more than three thousand, and had abandoned to him their cannon, together with twenty-nine flags or standards. The victory was so much the more glorious in that it was gained over an army superior in numbers and almost equal in quality. It was owing to the king’s valor, decision, vigilance, quick eye, comprehension of tactics, and that creative instinct which he brought into application in politics as well as in war, and which was destined to render him so happily inspired in the beautiful defensive actions of Arques, at the affair of Ivry, and on so many other occasions.” [Histoire des Princes de Conde, &c., by M. le Due D’Aumale, t. ii. pp. 164-177.]

And what was Henry III., King of France, doing whilst two great parties and two great men were thus carrying on, around his throne and in his name, so passionate a war, on the one side to maintain the despotic unity of Catholic Christianism, and on the other to win religious liberty for Christian Protestantism? We will borrow here the words of the most enlightened and most impartial historian of the sixteenth century, M. de Thou; if we acted upon our own personal impressions alone, there would be danger of appearing too severe towards a king whom we profoundly despise.

“After having staid some time in Bourbonness, Henry III. went to Lyons in order to be within hail of his two favorites, Joyeuse and Epernon, who were each on the march with an army. Whilst he was at Lyons as unconcerned as if all the realm were enjoying perfect peace, he took to collecting those little dogs which are thought so much of in that town. Everybody was greatly surprised to see a King of France, in the midst of so terrible a war and in extreme want of money, expending upon such pleasures all the time he had at disposal and all the sums he could scrape together. How lavish soever this prince may have been, yet, if comparison be made between the expenditure upon the royal household and that incurred at Lyons for dogs, the latter will be found infinitely higher than the former; without counting expenses for hunting-dogs and birds, which always come to a considerable sum in the households of kings, it cost him, every year, more than a hundred thousand gold crowns for little Lyonnese dogs; and he maintained at his court, with large salaries, a multitude of men and women who had nothing to do but to feed them. He also spent large sums in monkeys, parrots, and other creatures from foreign countries, of which he always kept a great number. Sometimes he got tired of them, and gave them all away then his passion for such creatures returned, and they had to be found for him at no matter what cost. Since I am upon the subject of this prince’s attachment to matters anything but worthy of the kingly majesty, I will say a word about his passion for those miniatures which were to be found in manuscript prayer-books, and which, before the practice of printing, were done by the most skilful painters. Henry III. seemed to buy such works, intended for princes and laid by in cabinets of curiosities, only to spoil them; as soon as he had them, he cut them out, and then pasted them upon the walls of his chapels, as children do. An incomprehensible character of mind: in certain things, capable of upholding his rank; in some, rising above his position; in others, sinking below childishness.” [Histoire universelle de F. A. de Thou, t. ix. p. 599.]

A mind and character incomprehensible indeed, if corruption, lassitude, listlessness, and fear would not explain the existence of everything that is abnormal and pitiable about human nature in a feeble, cold, and selfish creature, excited, and at the same time worn out, by the business and the pleasures of kingship, which Henry III. could neither do without nor bear the burden of. His perplexity was extreme in his relations with the other two Henries, who gave, like himself, their name to this war, which was called by contemporaries the war of the three Henries. The successes of Henry de Guise and of Henry de Bourbon were almost equally disagreeable to Henry de Valois. It is probable that, if he could have chosen, he would have preferred those of Henry de Bourbon; if they caused him like jealousy, they did not raise in him the same distrust; he knew the King of Navarre’s loyalty, and did not suspect him of aiming to become, whilst he himself was living, King of France. Besides, he considered the Protestants less powerful and less formidable than the Leaguers. Henry de Guise, on the contrary, was evidently, in his eyes, an ambitious conspirator, determined to push his own fortunes on to the very crown of France if the chances were favorable to him, and not only armed with all the power of Catholicism, but urged forward by the passions of the League, perhaps further and certainly more quickly than his own intentions travelled. Since 1584, the Leaguers had, at Paris, acquired strong organization amongst the populace; the city had been partitioned out into five districts under five heads, who, shortly afterwards, added to themselves eleven others, in order that, in the secret council of the association, each amongst the sixteen quarters of Paris might have its representative and director. Thence the famous Committee of Sixteen, which played so great and so formidable a part in the history of that period. It was religious fanaticism and democratic fanaticism closely united, and in a position to impose their wills upon their most eminent leaders, upon the Duke of Guise himself.

In vain did Henry III. attempt to resume some sort of authority in Paris; his government, his public and private life, and his person were daily attacked, insulted, and menaced from the elevation of the pulpit and in the public thoroughfares by qualified preachers or mob-orators. On the 16th of December, 1587, the Sorbonne voted, after a deliberation which, it was said, was to be kept secret, “that the government might be taken away from princes who were found not what they ought to be, just as the administration of a property from a guardian open to suspicion.” On the 30th of December, the king summoned to the Louvre his court of Parliament and the faculty of theology. “I know of your precious resolution of the 16th of this month,” said he to the Sorbonne; “I have been requested to take no notice of it, seeing that it was passed after dinner. I have no mind to avenge myself for these outrages, as I might, and as Pope Sixtus V. did when he sent to the galleys certain Cordeliers for having dared to slander him in their sermons. There is not one of you who has not deserved as much, and more; but it is my good pleasure to forget all, and to pardon you, on condition of its not occurring again. If it should, I beg my court of Parliament, here present, to exact exemplary justice, and such as the seditious, like you, may take warning by, so as to mind their own business.” At their exit after this address, the Parliament and the Sorbonne, being quite sure that the king would not carry the matter further, withdrew smiling, and saying, “He certainly has spirit, but not enough of it” (habet quidem animum, sed non satis animi). The Duke of Guise’s sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, took to getting up and spreading about all sorts of pamphlets against the king and his government. “The king commanded her to quit his city of Paris; she did nothing of the kind; and three days after she was even brazen enough to say that she carried at her waist the scissors which would give a third crown to brother Henry de Valois.” At the close of 1587, the Duke of Guise made a trip to Rome, “with a suite of five; and he only remained three days, so disguised that he was not recognized there, and discovered himself to nobody but Cardinal Pelleve, with whom he was in communication day and night.” [Journal de L’Estoile, t. i. p. 345.] Eighteen months previously, the cardinal had given a very favorable reception to a case drawn up by an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, named David, who maintained that, “although the line of the Capets had succeeded to the temporal administration of the kingdom of Charlemagne, it had not succeeded to the apostolic benediction, which appertained to none but the posterity of the said Charlemagne, and that, the line of Capet being some of them possessed by a spirit of giddiness and stupidity, and others heretic and excommunicated, the time had come for restoring the crown to the true heirs,” that is to say, to the house of Lorraine, which claimed to be issue of Charlemagne. This case was passed on, it is said, from Rome to Philip II., King of Spain, and M. de Saint-Goard, ambassador of France at Madrid, sent Henry III. a copy of it. [Memoires de la Ligue, t. i. pp. 1-7.]

Whatever may have been the truth about this trip to Rome on the part of the Duke of Guise, and its influence upon what followed, the chiefs of the Leaguers resolved to deal a great blow. The Lorraine princes and their intimate associates met at Nancy in January, 1588, and decided that a petition should be presented to the king; that he should be called upon to join himself more openly and in good earnest to the League, and to remove from offices of consequence all the persons that should be pointed out to him; that the Holy Inquisition should be established, at any rate in the good towns; that important places should be put into the hands of specified chiefs, who should have the power of constructing fortifications there; that heretics should be taxed a third, or at the least, a fourth of their property as long as the war lasted; and, lastly, that the life should be spared of no enemy taken prisoner, unless upon his swearing and finding good surety to live as a Catholic, and upon paying in ready money the worth of his property if it had not already been sold. These monstrous proposals, drawn up in eleven articles, were immediately carried to the king. He did not reject them, but he demanded and took time to discuss them with the authors. The negotiation was prolonged; the ferment in Paris was redoubled; the king, it was said, meant to withdraw; his person must be secured; the Committee of Sixteen took measures to that end; one of its members got into his hands the keys of the gate of St. Denis. From Soissons, where he was staying, the Duke of Guise sent to Paris the Count of Brissac, with four other captains of the League, to hold themselves in readiness for any event, and he ordered his brother the Duke of Aumale to stoutly maintain his garrisons in the places of Picardy, which the king, it was said, meant to take from him. “If the king leaves Paris,” the duke wrote to Bernard de Mendoza, Philip II.‘s ambassador in France, “I will make him think about returning thither before he has gone a day’s march towards the Picards.” Philip II. made Guise an offer of three hundred thousand crowns, six thousand lanzknechts, and twelve hundred lances, as soon as he should have broken with Henry III. “The abscess will soon burst,” wrote the ambassador to the king his master.

On the 8th of May, 1588, at eleven P. M., the Duke of Guise set out from Soissons, after having commended himself to the prayers of the convents in the town. He arrived the next morning before Paris, which he entered about midday by the gate of St. Martin. The Leaguers had been expecting him for several days. Though he had covered his head with his cloak, he was readily recognized and eagerly cheered; the burgesses left their houses and the tradesmen their shops to see him and follow him, shouting, “Hurrah! for Guise; hurrah! for the pillar of the church!” The crowd increased at every step. He arrived in front of the palace of Catherine de’ Medici, who had not expected him, and grew pale at sight of him. “My dear cousin,” said she to him, “I am very glad to see you, but I should have been better pleased at another time.” “Madame, I am come to clear myself from all the calumnies of my enemies; do me the honor to conduct me to the king yourself.” Catherine lost no time in giving the king warning by one of her secretaries. On receipt of this notice, Henry III., who had at first been stolid—and silent, rose abruptly from his chair. “Tell my lady mother that, as she wishes to present the Duke of Guise to me, I will receive him in the chamber of the queen my wife.” The envoy departed. The king, turning to one of his officers, Colonel Alphonso Corso, said to him, “M. de Guise has just arrived at Paris, contrary to my orders. What would you do in my place?” “Sir, do you hold the Duke of Guise for friend or enemy?” The king, without speaking, replied by a significant gesture. “If it please your, Majesty to give me the order, I will this very day lay the duke’s head at your feet.” The three councillors who happened to be there cried out. The king held his peace. During this conversation at the Louvre, the Duke of Guise was advancing along the streets, dressed in a doublet of white damask, a cloak of black cloth, and boots of buffalo-hide; he walked on foot, bareheaded, at the side of the queen-mother in a sedan-chair. He was tall, with fair clustering hair and piercing eyes; and his scar added to his martial air. The mob pressed upon his steps; flowers were thrown to him from the windows; some, adoring him as a saint, touched him with chaplets which they afterwards kissed; a young girl darted towards him, and, removing her mask, kissed him, saying, “Brave prince, since you are here, we are all saved.” Guise, with a dignified air, “saluted and delighted everybody,” says a witness, “with eye, and gesture, and speech.” “By his side,” said Madame de Retz, “the other princes are commoners.” “The Huguenots,” said another, “become Leaguers at the very sight of him.” On arriving at the Louvre, he traversed the court between two rows of soldiers, the archers on duty in the hall, and the forty-five gentlemen of the king’s chamber at the top of the staircase. “What brings you hither?” said the king, with difficulty restraining his anger. “I entreat your Majesty to believe in my fidelity, and not allow yourself to go by the reports of my enemies.” “Did I not command you not to come at this season so full of suspicions, but to wait yet a while?”

“Sir, I was not given to understand that my coming would be disagreeable to you.” Catherine drew near, and, in a low tone, told her son of the demonstrations of which the duke had been the object on his way. Guise was received in the chamber of the queen, Louise de Vaudemont, who was confined to her bed by indisposition; he chatted with her a moment, and, saluting the king, retired without being attended by any one of the officers of the court. Henry III. confined himself to telling him that results should speak for the sincerity of his words.

Guise returned to his house in the Faubourg St. Antoine, still accompanied by an eager and noisy crowd, but somewhat disquieted at heart both by the king’s angry reception and the people’s enthusiastic welcome. Brave as he was, he was more ambitious in conception than bold in execution, and he had not made up his mind to do all that was necessary to attain the end he was pursuing. The committee of Sixteen, his confidants, and all the staff of the League, met at his house during the evening and night between the 9th and 10th of May, preparing for the morrow’s action without well knowing what it was to be, proposing various plans, collecting arms, and giving instructions to their agents amongst the populace. An agitation of the same sort prevailed at the Louvre; the king, too, was deliberating with his advisers as to what he should do on the morrow: Guise would undoubtedly present himself at his morning levee; should he at once rid himself of him by the poniards of the five and forty bravoes which the Duke of Epernon had enrolled in Gascony for his service? Or would it be best to summon to Paris some troops, French and Swiss, to crush the Parisian rebels and the adventurers that had hurried up from all parts to their aid? But on the 10th of May, Guise went to the Louvre with four hundred gentlemen well armed with breastplates and weapons under their cloaks. The king did nothing; no more did Guise. The two had a long conversation in the queen-mother’s garden; but it led to no result. On the 11th of May, in the evening, the provost of tradesmen, Hector de Perreuse, assembled the town-council and those of the district-colonels on whom he had reliance to receive the king’s orders. Orders came to muster the burgher companies of certain districts, and send them to occupy certain positions that had been determined upon. They mustered slowly and incompletely, and some not at all; and scarcely had they arrived when several left the posts which had been assigned to them. The king, being informed of this sluggishness, sent for the regiment of the French Guards, and for four thousand Swiss cantoned in the outskirts of Paris; and he himself mounted his horse, on the 12th of May, in the morning, to go and receive them at the gate of St. Honord. These troops “filed along, without fife or drum, towards the cemetery of the Innocents.” The populace regarded them as they passed with a feeling of angry curiosity and uneasy amazement. When all the corps had arrived at the appointed spot, “they put themselves in motion towards different points, now making a great noise with their drums and fifes, which marvellously astonished the inhabitants of the quarter.” Noise provokes noise. “In continently,” says L’Estoile, “everybody seizes his arms, goes out on guard in the streets and cantons; in less than no time chains are stretched across and barricades made at the corners of the streets; the mechanic leaves his tools, the tradesman his business, the University their books, the attorneys their bags, the advocates their bands; the presidents and councillors themselves take halberds in hand; nothing is heard but shouts, murmurs, and the seditious speeches that heat and alarm a people.” The tocsin sounded everywhere; barricades sprang up in the twinkling of an eye; they were made within thirty paces of the Louvre. The royal troops were hemmed in where they stood, and deprived of the possibility of moving; the Swiss, being attacked, lost fifty men, and surrendered, holding up their chaplets and exclaiming that they were good Catholics. It was thought sufficient to disarm the French Guards. The king, remaining stationary at the Louvre, sent his marshals to parley with the people massed in the thoroughfares; the queen-mother had herself carried over the barricades in order to go to Guise’s house and attempt some negotiation with him. He received her coldly, demanding that the king should appoint him lieutenant-general of the kingdom, declare the Huguenot princes incapacitated from succeeding to the throne, and assemble the states-general. At the approach of evening, Guise determined to go himself and assume the conqueror’s air by putting a stop to the insurrection. He issued from his house on horseback, unarmed, with a white wand in his hand; he rode through the different districts, exhorting the inhabitants to keep up their barricades, whilst remaining on the defensive and leaving him to complete their work. He was greeted on all sides with shouts of “Hurrah! for Guise!” “You wrong me, my friends,” said he; “you should shout, ‘Hurrah! for the king!’” He had the French Guards and the Swiss set at liberty; and they defiled before him, arms lowered and bareheaded, as before their preserver. Next morning, May 13, he wrote to D’Entragues, governor of Orleans, “Notify our friends to come to us in the greatest haste possible, with horses and arms, but without baggage, which they will easily be able to do, for I believe that the roads are open hence to you. I have defeated the Swiss, and cut in pieces a part of the king’s guards, and I hold the Louvre invested so closely that I will render good account of whatsoever there is in it. This is so great a victory that it will be remembered forever.” That same day, the provost of tradesmen and the royalist sheriffs repaired to the Louvre, and told the king that, without great and immediate concessions, they could not answer for anything; the Louvre was not in a condition of defence; there were no troops to be depended upon for resistance, no provisions, no munitions; the investment was growing closer and closer every hour, and the assault might commence at any instant. Henry III. sent his mother once more to the Duke of Guise, and himself went out about four o’clock, dressed in a country suit and scantily attended, as if for a walk in the Tuileries. Catherine found the duke as inflexible as he had been the day before. He peremptorily insisted upon all the conditions he had laid down already, the lieutenant-generalship of the kingdom for himself, the unity of the Catholic faith, forfeiture on the part of the King of Navarre and every other Huguenot prince as heir to the throne, perpetual banishment of the king’s favorites, and convocation of the states-general. “The king,” he said, “purposes to destroy all the grandees of the kingdom and to harry all those who oppose his wishes and the elevation of his minions; it is my duty and my interest to take all the measures necessary for my own preservation and that of the people.” Catherine yielded on nearly every point, at the same time, however, continually resuming and prolonging the discussion. One of the duke’s most trusty confidants, Francis de Mainville, entered and whispered in his ear. “Madame,” cried the duke, “whilst your Majesty has been amusing me here, the king is off from Paris to harry me and destroy me!” Henry III., indeed, had taken horse at the Tuileries, and, attended by his principal councillors, unbooted and cloakless, had issued from the New gate, and set out on the road to St. Cloud. Equipping him in haste, his squire, Du Halde, had put his spur on wrong, and would have set it right, but, “That will do,” said the king; “I am not going to see my mistress; I have a longer journey to make.” It is said that the corps on guard at the Nesle gate fired from a distance a salute of arquebuses after the fugitive king, and that a crowd assembled on the other bank of the river shouted insults after him. At the height of Chaillot Henry pulled up, and turning round towards Paris, “Ungrateful city,” he cried, “I have loved thee more than my own wife; I will not enter thy walls again but by the breach.”

It is said that on hearing of the Duke of Guise’s sudden arrival at Paris, Pope Sixtus V. exclaimed, “Ah! what rashness! To thus go and put himself in the hands of a prince he has so outraged!” And some days afterwards, on the news that the king had received the Duke of Guise and nothing had come of it, “Ah, dastard prince! poor creature of a prince, to have let such a chance escape him of getting rid of a man who seems born to be his destruction!” [De Thou, t. x. p. 266.]

When the king was gone, Guise acted the master in Paris. He ordered the immediate delivery into his hands of the Bastille, the arsenal, and the castle of Vincennes. Ornano, governor of the Bastille, sent an offer to the king, who had arrived at Chartres, to defend it to the last extremity. “I will not expose to so certain a peril a brave man who may be necessary to me elsewhere,” replied the king. Guise caused to be elected at Paris a new town-council and a new provost of tradesmen, all taken from amongst the most ardent Leaguers. He at the same time exerted himself to restore order; he allowed all royalists who wished to depart to withdraw to Chartres; he went in person and pressed the premier president of Parliament, Achille de Harlay, to resume the course of justice. “It is great pity, sir,” said Harlay, “when the servant drives out the master; this assembly is founded (seated) on the fleur-de-lis; being established by the king, it can act only for his service. We will all lose our lives to a man rather than give way a whit to the contrary.” “I have been in many battles,” said Guise, as he went out, “in assaults and encounters the most dangerous in the world; and I have never been so overcome as at my reception by this personage.” At the same time that he was trying to exercise authority and restore order, unbridled violence and anarchy were making head around him; the Sixteen and their friends discharged from the smallest offices, civil or religious, whoever was not devoted to them; they changed all the captains and district-officers of the city militia; they deposed all the incumbents, all the ecclesiastics whom they termed Huguenots and policists; the pulpits of Christians became the platforms of demagogues; the preachers Guiticestre, Boucher, Rose, John Prevost, Aubry, Pigenat, Cueilly, Pelletier, and a host of others whose names have fallen into complete obscurity, were the popular apostles, the real firebrands of the troubles of the League, says Pasquier; there was scarcely a chapel where there were not several sermons a day. “You know not your strength,” they kept repeating to their auditors: “Paris knows not what she is worth; she has wealth enough to make war upon four kings. France is sick, and she will never recover from that sickness till she has a draught of French blood given her. . . . If you receive Henry de Valois into your towns, make up your minds to see your preachers massacred, your sheriffs hanged, your women violated, and the gibbets garnished with your members.” One of these raving orators, Claude Trahy, provincial of the Cordeliers, devoted himself to hounding on the populace of Auxerre against their bishop, James Amyot, the translator of Plutarch, whom he reproached with “having communicated with Henry III. and administered to him the eucharist;” brother John Moresin, one of Trahy’s subalterns, went about brandishing a halberd in the public place at Auxerre, and shouting, “Courage, lads! messire Amyot is a wicked man, worse than Henry de Valois; he has threatened to have our master Trahy hanged, but he will repent it;” and, “at the voice of this madman, there hurried up vine-dressers, boatmen, and marchandeaux (costermongers), a whole angry mob, who were for having Amyot’s throat cut, and Trahy made bishop in his stead.”

Whilst the blind passions of fanatics and demagogues were thus let loose, the sensible and clear-sighted spirits, the earnest and moderate royalists, did not all of them remain silent and motionless. After the appearance of the letters written in 1588 by the Duke of Guise to explain and justify his conduct in this crisis, a grandson of Chancellor de l’Hospital, Michael Hurault, Sieur du Fay, published a document, entitled Frank and Free Discourse upon the Condition of France, one of the most judicious and most eloquent pamphlets of the sixteenth century, a profound criticism upon the acts of the Duke of Guise, their causes and consequences, and a true picture of the falsehoods and servitude into which an eminent man may fall when he makes himself the tool of a popular faction in the hope of making that faction the tool of his personal ambition. But even the men who were sufficiently enlightened and sufficiently courageous to tell the League and its leader plain truths spoke only rather late in the day, and at first without giving their names; the document written by L’Hospital’s grandson did not appear until 1591, after the death of Henry III. and Henry de Guise, and it remained anonymous for some time. One cannot be astonished at such timidity; Guise himself was timid before the Leaguers, and he always ended by yielding to them in essentials, after having attempted to resist them upon such and such an incidental point. His own people accused him of lacking boldness; and his sister, the Duchess of Montpensier, openly patronized the most violent preachers, whilst boasting that she wielded more influence through them than her brother by his armies. Henry III., under stress of his enemies’ zeal and his own servants’ weakness, Catherine de’ Medici included, after having fled from Paris and taken refuge at Chartres to escape the triumph of the Barricades, once more began to negotiate, that is, to capitulate with the League; he issued at Rouen, on the 19th of July, 1588, an edict in eleven articles, whereby he granted more than had been demanded, and more than he had promised in 1585 by the treaty of Nemours; over and above the measures contained in that treaty against the Huguenots, in respect of the present and the future, he added four fresh surety-towns, amongst others Bourges and Orleans, to those of which the Leaguers were to remain in possession. He declared, moreover, “that no investigation should be made into any understandings, associations, and other matters into which our Catholic subjects might have entered together; inasmuch as they have given us to understand and have informed us that what they did was but owing to the zeal they felt for the preservation and maintenance of the Catholic religion.” By thus releasing the League from all responsibility for the past, and by giving this new treaty the name of edict of union, Henry III. flattered himself, it is said, that he was thus putting himself at the head of a new grand Catholic League which would become royalist again, inasmuch as the king was granting it all it had desired. The edict of union was enregistered at the Parliament of Paris on the 21st of July. The states-general were convoked for the 15th of October following. “On Tuesday, August 2, his Majesty,” says L’Estoile, “being entertained by the Duke of Guise during his dinner, asked him for drink, and then said to him, ‘To whom shall we drink?’ ‘To whom you please, sir,’ answered the duke; ‘it is for your Majesty to command.’ ‘Cousin,’ said the king, ‘drink we to our good friends the Huguenots.’ ‘It is well said, sir,’ answered the duke. ‘And to our good barricaders,’ said the king; ‘let us not forget them.’ Whereupon the duke began to laugh a little,” adds L’Estoile, “but a sort of laugh that did not go beyond the knot of the throat, being dissatisfied at the novel union the king was pleased to make of the Huguenots with the barricaders.” What must have to some extent reassured the Duke of Guise was, that a Te Deum was celebrated at Notre-Dame for the King of Navarre’s exclusion from all right to the crown, and that, on the 14th of August Henry de Guise was appointed generalissimo of the royal armies.

The Castle of Blois——428

The states-general met at Blois on the 16th of October, 1588. They numbered five hundred and five deputies; one hundred and ninety-one of the third estate, one hundred and eighty of the noblesse, one hundred and thirty-four of the clergy. The king had given orders “to conduct each deputy as they arrived to his cabinet, that he might see, hear, and know them all personally.” When the five hundred and five deputies had taken their places in the hall, the Duke of Guise went to fetch the king, who made his entry attended by the princes of the blood, and opened the session with the dignity and easy grace which all the Valois seemed to have inherited from Francis I. The Duke of Guise, in a coat of white satin, was seated at the king’s feet, as high steward of his household, scanning the whole assembly with his piercing glance, as if to keep watch over those who were in his service. “He seemed,” says a contemporary, “by a single flash of his eye to fortify them in the hope of the advancement of his designs; his fortunes, and his greatness, and to say to them, without speaking, I see you.” The king’s speech was long, able, well delivered, and very much applauded, save by Guise himself and his particular friends; the firmness of tone had displeased them, and one sentence excited in them a discontent which they had found difficulty in restraining: certain grandees of my kingdom have formed such leagues and associations as, in every well-ordered monarchy, are crimes of high treason, without the sovereign’s permission. But, showing my wonted indulgence, I am quite willing to let bygones be bygones in this respect. Guise grew pale at these words. On leaving the royal session, he got his private committee to decide that the Cardinal of Guise and the Archbishop of Lyons should go to see the king, and beg him to abandon the printing of his speech, and meanwhile Guise himself sent to the printer’s to stop the immediate publication. Discussion took place next day in the king’s cabinet; and a threat was held out to him that a portion of the deputies would quit the meeting of states. The queen-mother advised her son to compromise. The king yielded, according to his custom, and gave authority for cutting out the strongest expressions, amongst others those just quoted. “The correction was accordingly made,” says M. Picot, the latest and most able historian of the states-general, “and Henry III. had to add this new insult to all that were rankling at the bottom of his heart since the affair of the Barricades.”

This was, for the Duke of Guise, a first trial of his power, and great was his satisfaction at this first success. On leaving the opening session of the states-general, he wrote to the Spanish ambassador Mendoza, “I handled our states so well that I made them resolve to require confirmation of the edict of union (of July 21 preceding) as fundamental law of the state. The king refused to do so, in rather sharp terms, to the deputies who brought the representation before him, and from that it is presumed that he inclines towards a peace with the heretics. But, at last, he was so pressed by the states, the which were otherwise on the point of breaking up, that he promised to swear the edict and have it sworn before entering upon consideration of any matter.”

The next day but one, in fact, on the 18th of October, at the second session of the states-general, “the edict of July 21 was read and published with the greatest solemnity; the king swore to maintain it in terms calculated to dissipate all anxieties on the part of the Catholics. The deputies swore after him. The Archbishop of Bourges delivered an address on the sanctity of oaths, and those present began to think the session over, when the king rose a second time to recommend the deputies not to leave Blois before the papers were drawn up and the ordinances made. He reminded them that at the last assembly of the states the suggestions and counsels of the three estates had been so ill carried out that, instead of a reformation and an establishment of good laws, everything had been thrown into confusion. Accordingly the king added to this suggestion a solemn oath that he would not budge from the city until he had made an edict, sacred and inviolable. The enthusiasm of the deputies was at its height; a rush took place to the church of St. Sauveur to chant a Te Deum. All the princes were there to give thanks to God. Never were king, court, and people so joyous.” The Duke of Guise wrote to the Spanish ambassador, “At length we have, in full assembly of the states, had our edict of union solemnly sworn and established as fundamental law of this realm, having surmounted all the difficulties and hinderances which the king was pleased to throw in the way; I found myself four or five times on the point of rupture: but I was verily assisted by so many good men.”

After as well as before the opening of the states-general, the friends of the Duke of Guise were far from having, all of them, the same confidence that he had in his position and in his success. “Stupid owl of a Lorrainer!” said Sieur de Vins, commanding, on behalf of the League, in Dauphiny, on reading the duke’s despatches, “has he so little sense as to believe that a king whose crown he, by dissimulating, has been wanting to take away, is not dissimulating in turn to take away his life?” “As they are so thick together,” said M. de Vins’ sister, when she knew that the Duke of Guise was at Blois with the king, “you will hear, at the very first opportunity, that one or the other has killed his fellow.” Guise himself was no stranger to this idea. “We are not without warnings from all quarters that there is a design of attempting my life,” he wrote on the 21st of September, 1588: “but I have, thank God, so provided against it, both by the gathering I have made of a good number of my friends, and in having, by presents and money, secured a portion of those whose services are relied upon for the execution of it, that, if once things begin, I shall finish more roughly than I did at Paris.”

After the opening of the states-general and the success he obtained thereat, Guise appeared, if not more anxious, at any rate more attentive to the warnings he received. On the 10th of December, 1588, he wrote to Commander Moreo, confidential agent from the King of Spain to him, “You cannot imagine what alarms have been given me since your departure. I have so well provided against them that my enemies have not seen their way to attempting anything. . . . But expenses have grown upon me to such an extent that I have great need of your prompt assistance. . . . I have now so much credit with this assembly that I have hitherto made it dance to my tune, and I hope that as to what remains to be decreed I shall be quite able to maintain the same authority.” Some of his partisans advised him to go away for a while to Orleans; but he absolutely refused, repeating, with the Archbishop of Lyons, “He who leaves the game loses it.” One evening, in a little circle of intimates, on the 21st of December, a question arose whether it would not be advisable to prevent the king’s designs by striking at his person. The Cardinal of Guise begged his brother to go away, assuring him that his own presence would suffice for the direction of affairs: but, “They are in such case, my friend,” said the Balafre, “that, if I saw death coming in at the window, I would not consent to go out by the door to avoid it.” His cousin, the Duke of Elbeuf, paid him a visit at night to urge him to withdraw himself from the plot hatched against him. “If it were necessary to lose my life in order to reap the proximate fruits of the states’ good resolution,” said Guise, “that is what I have quite made up my mind to. Though I had a hundred lives, I would devote them all to the service of God and His church, and to the relief of the poor people for whom I feel the greatest pity;” then, touching the Duke of Elbeuf upon the shoulder, he said, “Go to bed, cousin;” and, taking away his hand and laying it upon his own heart, he added, “Here is the doublet of innocence.” On the evening of the 22d of December, 1588, when Charlotte de Semblancay, Marchioness of Noirmoutiers, to whom he was tenderly attached, pressed him to depart, or at any rate not to be present at the council next day, the only answer he made her was to hum the following ditty, by Desportes, a poet of the day:—

“My little Rose, a little spell
Of absence changed that heart of thine;
And I, who know the change full well,
Have found another place for mine.
No more such fair but fickle she
Shall find me her obedient;
And, flighty shepherdess, we’ll see
Which of the twain will first repent.”

Henry III. was scarcely less disturbed, but in quite a different way, than the Duke of Guise. For a long time past he had been thinking about getting rid of the latter, just as he had thought for a long time, twenty years before, about getting rid of Admiral de Coligny; but since the date of his escape from the popular rising on the day of the Barricades, he had hoped that, thanks to the adoption of the edict of union and to the convocation of the states-general, he would escape the yoke of the Duke of Guise. He saw every day that he had been mistaken; the League, and consequently the Duke of Guise, had more power than he with the states-general; in vain had the king changed nearly all his ministers; in vain had he removed his principal favorite, the Duke of Epernon, from the government of Normandy to that of Provence; he did not obtain from the states-general what he demanded, that is, the money he wanted; and the states required of him administrative reforms, sound enough at bottom, but suggested by the Duke of Guise with an interested object, and calculated to shackle the kingly authority even more than could be done by Guise himself directly. At the same time that Guise was urging on the states-general in this path, he demanded to be made constable, not by the king any longer, but by the states themselves. The kingship was thus being squeezed between the haughty supremacy of the great lords, substitutes for the feudal regimen, and the first essays of that free government which is nowadays called the parliamentary regimen. Henry III. determined with fear and trembling to disembarrass himself of his two rivals, of the Duke of Guise by assassination, and of the states-general by packing them off home. He did not know how intimately the two great questions of which the sixteenth century was the great cradle, the question of religious liberty and that of political liberty, were connected one with the other, and would be prosecuted jointly or successively in the natural progress of Christian civilization, or through what trials kings and people would have to pass before succeeding in any effectual solution of them.

On the 18th of December, 1588, during an entertainment given by Catherine de’ Medici on the marriage of her niece, Christine de Lorraine, with Ferdinand de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Henry III. summoned to his cabinet three of his most intimate and safest confidants, Marshal d’Aumont, Nicholas d’Angennes, Lord of Rambouillet, and Sieur de Beauvais Nangis. After having laid before them all the Duke of Guise’s intrigues against him and the perils of the position in which they placed him, “What ought I to do?” he said; “help me to save myself by some speedy means.” They asked the king to give them twenty-four hours to answer in. Next day, the 19th, Sieur de Maintenon, brother of Rambouillet, and Alphonso Corso d’Ornano Were added to the party; only one of them was of opinion that the Duke of Guise should at once be arrested and put upon his trial; the four others were for a shorter and a surer process, that of putting the duke to death by a sudden blow. He is evidently making war upon the king, they said; and the king has a right to defend himself. Henry III., who had his mind made up, asked Crillon, commandant of the regiment of guards, “Think you that the Duke of Guise deserves death?” “Yes, sir.” “Very well; then I choose you to give it him.” “I am ready to challenge him.” “That is not what is wanted; as leader of the League, he is guilty of high treason.” “Very well, sir; then let him be tried and executed.” “But, Crillon, nothing is less certain than his conviction in a court of law; he must be struck down unexpectedly.” “Sir, I am a soldier, not an assassin.” The king did not persist, but merely charged Crillon, who promised, to keep the proposal secret. At this very time Guise was requesting the king to give him a constable’s grand provost and archers to form his guard in his quality of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. The king deferred his reply. Catherine de’ Medici supported the Lorrainer prince’s request. “In two or three days it shall be settled,” said Henry. He had ordered twelve poniards from an armorer’s in the city; on the 21st of December he told his project to Loignac, an officer of his guards, who was less scrupulous than Crillon, and undertook to strike the blow, in concert with the forty-five trusty guards. At the council on the 22d of December, the king announced his intention of passing Christmas in retreat at Notre-Dame de Cleri, and he warned the members of the council that next day the session would take place very early in order to dispose of business before his departure. On the evening of the 22d, the Duke of Guise, on sitting down at table, found under his napkin a note to this effect: “The king means to kill you.” Guise asked for a pen, wrote at the bottom of the note, “He dare not,” and threw it under the table. Next day, December 23, Henry III., rising at four A. M., after a night of great agitation, admitted into his cabinet by a secret staircase the nine guards he had chosen, handed them the poniards he had ordered, placed them at the post where they were to wait for the meeting of the council, and bade Charles d’Entragues to go and request one of the royal chaplains “to say mass, that God might give the king grace to be able to carry out an enterprise which he hoped would come to an issue within an hour, and on which the safety of France depended.” Then the king retired into his closet. The members of the council arrived in succession; it is said that one of the archers on duty, when he saw the Duke of Guise mounting the staircase, trod on his foot, as if to give him warning; but, if he observed it, Guise made no account of it, any more than of all the other hints he had already received. Before entering the council-chamber, he stopped at a small oratory connected with the chapel, said his prayer, and as he passed the door of the queen-mother’s apartments, signified his desire to pay his respects and have a few words with her. Catherine was indisposed, and could not receive him. Some vexation, it is said, appeared in Guise’s face, but he said not a word. On entering the council-chamber he felt cold, asked to have some fire lighted, and gave orders to his secretary, Pericard, the only attendant admitted with him, to go and fetch the silver-gilt shell he was in the habit of carrying about him with damsons or other preserves to eat of a morning. Pericard was some time gone; Guise was in a hurry, and, “Be kind enough,” he said to M. de Morfontaines, “to send word to M. de Saint-Prix [first groom of the chamber to Henry III.], that I beg him to let me have a few damsons or a little preserve of roses, or some trifle of the king’s.” Four Brignolles plums were brought him; and he ate one. His uneasiness continued; the eye close to his scar became moist; according to M. de Thou, he bled at the nose. He felt in his pocket for a handkerchief to use, but could not find one. “My people,” said he, “have not given me my necessaries this morning: there is great excuse for them; they were too much hurried.” At his request, Saint-Prix had a handkerchief brought to him. Pericard passed his bonbon-box to him, as the guards would not let him enter again. The duke took a few plums from it, threw the rest on the table, saying, “Gentlemen, who will have any?” and rose up hurriedly upon seeing the secretary of state Revol, who came in and said to him, “Sir, the king wants you; he is in his old cabinet.”

As soon as he knew that the Duke of Guise had arrived, and whilst these little incidents were occurring in the council-chamber, Henry III. had in fact given orders to his secretary Revol to go on his behalf and summon the duke. But Nambu, usher to the council, faithful to his instructions, had refused to let anybody, even the king’s secretary, enter the hall. Revol, of a timid disposition, and impressed, it is said, with the sinister importance of his commission, returned to the cabinet with a very troubled air. The king, in his turn, was troubled, fearing lest his project had been discovered. “What is the matter, Revol?” said he; “what is it? How pale you are! You will spoil all. Rub your cheeks; rub your cheeks.” “There is nothing wrong, sir: only M. de Nambu would not let me in without your Majesty’s express command.” Revol entered the council-chamber and discharged his commission. The Duke of Guise pulled up his cloak as if to wrap himself well in it, took his hat, gloves, and his sweetmeat-box, and went out of the room, saying, “Adieu, gentlemen,” with a gravity free from any appearance of mistrust. He crossed the king’s chamber contiguous to the council-hall, courteously saluted, as he passed, Loignac and his comrades, whom he found drawn up, and who, returning him a frigid obeisance, followed him as if to show him respect. On arriving at the door of the old cabinet, and just as he leaned down to raise the tapestry that covered it, Guise was struck five poniard blows in the chest, neck, and reins. “God ha’ mercy!” he cried, and, though his sword was entangled in his cloak, and he was himself pinned by the arms and legs and choked by the blood that spurted from his throat, he dragged his murderers, by a supreme effort of energy, to the other end of the room, where he fell down backwards and lifeless before the bed of Henry III., who, coming to the door of his room and asking “if it was done,” contemplated with mingled satisfaction and terror the inanimate body of his mighty rival, “who seemed to be merely sleeping, so little was he changed.” “My God! how tall he is!” cried the king; “he looks even taller than when he was alive.”

Henry III.  and the Murder of Guise——437

“They are killing my brother!” cried the Cardinal of Guise, when he heard the noise that was being made in the next room; and he rose up to run thither. The Archbishop of Lyons, Peter d’Espinac, did the same. The Duke of Aumont held them both back, saying, “Gentlemen, we must wait for the king’s orders.” Orders came to arrest them both, and confine them in a small room over the council-chamber. They had “eggs, bread, wine from the king’s cellar, their breviaries, their night-gowns, a palliasse, and a mattress,” brought to them there; and they were kept under ocular supervision for four and twenty hours. The Cardinal of Guise was released the next morning, but only to be put to death like his brother. The king spared the Archbishop of Lyons.

“I am sole king,” said Henry III. to his ministers, as he entered the council-chamber; and shortly afterwards, going to see the queen-mother, who was ill of the gout, “How do you feel?” he asked. “Better,” she answered. “So do I,” replied the king: “I feel much better; this morning I have become King of France again; the King of Paris is dead.” “You have had the Duke of Guise killed?” asked Catherine “have you reflected well? God grant that you become not king of nothing at all. I hope the cutting is right; now for the sewing.” According to the majority of the historians, Catherine had neither been in the secret nor had anything to do with the preparations for the measure. Granted that she took no active part in it, and that she avoided even the appearance of having any previous knowledge of it; she was not fond of responsibility, and she liked better to negotiate between the different parties than to make her decisive choice between them; prudent tendencies grow with years, and in 1588 she was sixty-nine. It is difficult, however, to believe that, being the habitual confidant of her favorite son, she was ignorant of a design long meditated, and known to many persons many days before its execution. The event once accomplished, ill as she was, and contrary to the advice of her physicians, she had herself carried to the Cardinal of Bourbon’s, who was still under arrest by the king’s orders, to promise him speedy release. “Ah! madame,” said the cardinal, as he saw her enter, “these are some of your tricks; you are death to us all.” However it may be, thirteen days after the murder of the Duke of Guise, on the 5th of January, 1589, Catherine de’ Medici herself died. Nor was her death, so far as affairs and the public were concerned, an event: her ability was of the sort which is worn out by the frequent use made of it, and which, when old age comes on, leaves no long or grateful reminiscence. Time has restored Catherine de’ Medici to her proper place in history; she was quickly forgotten by her contemporaries.

She had good reason to say to her son, as her last advice, “Now for the sewing.” It was not long before Henry III. perceived that to be king, it was not sufficient to have murdered his rival. He survived the Duke of Guise only seven months, and during that short period he was not really king, all by himself, for a single day; never had his kingship been so embarrassed and impotent; the violent death of the Duke of Guise had exasperated much more than enfeebled the League; the feeling against his murderer was passionate and contagious; the Catholic cause had lost its great leader; it found and accepted another in his brother the Duke of Mayenne, far inferior to his elder brother in political talent and prompt energy of character, but a brave and determined soldier, a much better man of party and action than the sceptical, undecided, and indolent Henry III. The majority of the great towns of France—Paris, Rouen, Orleans, Toulouse, Lyons, Amiens—and whole provinces declared eagerly against the royal murderer. He demanded support from the states-general, who refused it; and he was obliged to dismiss them. The Parliament of Paris, dismembered on the 16th of January, 1589, by the council of Sixteen, became the instrument of the Leaguers. The majority of the other Parliaments followed the example set by that of Paris. The Sorbonne, consulted by a petition presented in the name of all Catholics, decided that Frenchmen were released from their oath of allegiance to Henry III., and might with a good conscience turn their arms against him. Henry made some obscure attempts to come to an arrangement with certain chiefs of the Leaguers; but they were rejected with violence. The Duke of Mayenne, having come to Paris on the 15th of February, was solemnly received at Notre-Dame, amidst shouts of “Hurrah for the Catholic princes! hurrah for the house of Lorraine!” He was declared lieutenant-general of the crown and state of France. He organized a council-general of the League, composed of forty members and charged with the duty of providing for all matters of war, the finance and the police of the realm, pending a fresh convocation of states-general. To counterbalance in some degree the popular element, Mayenne introduced into it fourteen personages of his own choice and a certain number of magistrates and bishops; the delegates of the united towns were to have seats at the council whenever they happened to be at Paris. “Never,” says M. Henry Martin [Histoire de France, t. i. p. 134] very truly, “could the League have supposed itself to be so near becoming a government of confederated municipalities under the directorate of Paris.”

There was clearly for Henry III. but one possible ally who had a chance of doing effectual service, and that was Henry of Navarre and the Protestants. It cost Henry III. a great deal to have recourse to that party; his conscience and his pusillanimity both revolted at it equally; in spite of his moral corruption, he was a sincere Catholic, and the prospect of excommunication troubled him deeply. Catholicism, besides, was in a large majority in France: how, then, was he to treat with its foes without embroiling himself utterly with it? Meanwhile the case was urgent. Henry was apprised by one of his confidants, Nicholas de Rambouillet, that one of the King of Navarre’s confidants, Sully, who was then only Sieur de Rosny, was passing by Blois on his way to his master; he saw him and expressed to him his “desire for a reconciliation with the King of Navarre, and to employ him on confidential service;” the difficulty was to secure to the Protestant king and his army, then engaged in the siege of Chatellerault, a passage across the Loire. Rosny undertook Henry III.‘s commission. He at the same time received another from Sieur de Brigueux, governor of the little town of Beaugency, who said to him, “I see well, sir, that the king is going the right way to ruin himself by timidity, irresolution, and bad advice, and that necessity will throw us into the hands of the League: for my part, I will never belong to it, and I would rather serve the King of Navarre. Tell him that I hold, at Beaugency, a passage over the Loire, and that if he will be pleased to send to me you or M. de Rebours, I will admit into the town him whom he sends to me.” Upon receiving these overtures, the King of Navarre thought a while, scratching his head; then he said to Rosny, “Do you think that the king has good intentions towards me, and means to treat with me in good faith?” “Yes, sir, for the present; and you need have no doubt about it, for his straits constrain him thereto, having nothing to look to in his perils but your assistance.” He had some dinner brought into his own cabinet for Rosny, and then made him post off at once. On arriving in the evening at Tours, whither Henry III. had fallen back, Rosny was taken to him, about midnight, at the top of the castle; the king sent him off that very night; he consented to everything that the King of Navarre proposed; promised him a town on the Loire, and said he was ready to make with him not a downright peace just at first, but “a good long truce, which, in their two hearts, would at once be an eternal peace and a sincere reconciliation.”

When Rosny got back to Chatellerault, “there was nothing but rejoicing; everybody ran to meet him; he was called ‘god Rosny,’ and one of his friends said to the rest, ‘Do you see yon man? By God, we shall all worship him, and he alone will restore France; I said so six years ago, and Villandry was of my opinion.’”

Thus was the way paved and the beginning made, between the two kings, of an alliance demanded by their mutual interests, and still more strongly by the interests of France, ravaged and desolated, for nearly thirty years past, by religious civil wars. Henry of Navarre had profound sympathy for his country’s sufferings, an ardent desire to put a stop to them, and at the same time the instinct to see clearly that the day had come when the re-establishment of harmony and common action between himself and Henry de Valois was the necessary and at the same time possible means of attaining that great result. On the 4th of March, 1589, soon after the states of Blois had been dismissed, he set before France, in an eloquent manifesto, the expression of his anxieties and his counsels: “I will speak freely,” said he, “to myself first and then to others, that we may be all of us without excuse. Let us not be puffed up with pride on one side or another. As for me, although I have received more favors from God in this than in all past wars, and, whilst the two other parties (how sad that they must be so called!) are enfeebled, mine, to all appearance, has been strengthened, nevertheless I well know that, whenever I go beyond my duty, God will no longer bless me; and I shall do so whenever, without reason and in sheer lightness of heart, I attack my king and trouble the repose of his kingdom. . . . I declare, then, first of all to those who belong to the party of the king my lord, that if they do not counsel him to make use of me, and of the means which God hath given me, for to make war, not on them of Lorraine, not on Paris, Orleans, or Toulouse, but on those who shall hinder the peace and the obedience owed to this crown, they alone will be answerable for the woes which will come upon the king and the kingdom. . . . And as to those who still adhere to the name and party of the League, I, as a Frenchman, conjure them to put up with their losses as I do with mine, and to sacrifice their quarrels, vengeance, and ambition to the welfare of France, their mother, to the service of their king, to their own repose and ours. If they do otherwise, I hope that God will not abandon the king, and will put it into his heart to call around him his servants, myself the first, who wish for no other title, and who shall have sufficient might and good right to help him wipe out their memory from the world and their party from France. . . . I wish these written words to go proclaiming for me throughout the world that I am ready to ask my lord the king for peace, for the repose of his kingdom and for my own. . . . And finally, if I find one or another so sleepy-headed or so ill-disposed that none is moved thereby, I will call God to my aid, and, true servant of my king, worthy of the honor that belongs to me as premier prince of this realm, though all the world should have conspired for its ruin, I protest, before God and before man, that, at the risk of ten thousand lives, I will essay—all alone—to prevent it.”

It is pleasing to think that this patriotic step and these powerful words were not without influence over the result which was attained. The King of Navarre set to work, at the same time with Rosny, one, of the most eminent, and with Philip du Plessis-Mornay, the most sterling of his servants; and a month after the publication of his manifesto, on the 3d of April, 1589, a truce for a year was concluded between the two kings. It set forth that the King of Navarre should serve the King of France with all his might and main; that he should have, for the movements of his troops on both banks of the Loire, the place of Saumur; that the places of which he made himself master should be handed over to Henry III., and that he might not anywhere do anything to the prejudice of the Catholic religion; that the Protestants should be no more disquieted throughout the whole of France, and that, before the expiration of the truce, King Henry III. should give them assurance of peace. This negotiation was not concluded without difficulty, especially as regarded the town of Saumur; there was a general desire to cede to the King of Navarre only some place of less importance on the Loire; and when, on the 15th of April, Du Plessis-Mornay, who had been appointed governor of it, presented himself for admittance at the head of his garrison, the royalist commandant, who had to deliver the keys to him, limited himself to letting them drop at his feet. Mornay showed alacrity in picking them up.

On the 29th of April, the two kings had, each on his own behalf, made their treaty public. Henry III. sent word to the King of Navarre that he wished to see him and have some conversation with him. Many of the King of Navarre’s friends dissuaded him from this interview, saying, “They are traitors; do not put yourself in their power; remember the St. Bartholomew.” This counsel was repeated to him on the 30th of April, at the very moment when he was stepping aboard the boat to cross the Loire and go to pay Henry III. a visit at the castle of Plessis-les- Tours. The King of Navarre made no account of it. “God hath bidden me to cross and see him,” he answered: “it is not in the power of man to keep me back, for God is guiding me and crossing with me. Of that I am certain;” and he crossed the river. “It is incredible,” says L’Estoile, “what joy everybody felt at this interview; there was such a throng of people that, notwithstanding all efforts to preserve order, the two kings were a full quarter of an hour in the roadway of Plessis park holding out their hands to one another without being able to join them; people climbed trees to see them; all shouted with great vigor and exultation, Hurrah for the king! hurrah for the King of Navarre! hurrah for the kings! At last, having joined hands, they embraced very lovingly, even to tears. The King of Navarre, on retiring in the evening, said, ‘I shall now die happy, since God hath given me grace to look upon the face of my king and make him an offer of my services.’ I know not if those were his own words; but what is certain is, that everybody at this time, both kings and people, except fanatical Leaguers, regarded peace as a great public blessing, and were rejoiced to have a prospect of it before their eyes. The very day of the interview, the King of Navarre wrote to Du Plessis-Mornay, ‘M. du Plessis, the ice is broken; not without numbers of warnings that if I went I was a dead man. I crossed the water, commending myself to God, who, by His goodness, not only preserved me, but caused extreme joy to appear on the king’s countenance, and the people to cheer so that never was the like, even shouting, Hurrah for the kings! whereat I was much vexed.’”

Some days afterwards, during the night of May 8, the Duke of Mayenne made an attack upon Tours, and carried for the moment the Faubourg St. Symphorien, which gave Henry III. such a fright that he was on the point of leaving the city and betaking himself to a distance. But the King of Navarre, warned in time, entered Tours; and at his approach the Leaguers fell back. “When the white scarfs appeared, coming to the king’s rescue, the Duke of Mayenne and his troops began shouting to them, ‘Back! white scarfs; back! Chatillon: we are not set against you, but against the murderers of your father!’ meaning thereby that they were set against King Henry de Valois only, and not against the Huguenots. But Chatillon, amongst the rest, answered them, ‘You are all of you traitors to your country: I trample under foot all vengeance and all private interests when the service of my prince and of the state is concerned; ‘which he said so loudly that even his Majesty heard it, and praised him for it, and loved him for it.” The two kings determined to move on Paris and besiege it; and towards the end of July their camp was pitched before the walls.

Great was the excitement throughout Europe as well as France, at the courts of Madrid and Rome as well as in the park of Plessis-les-Tours. A very serious blow for Philip II., and a very bad omen for the future of his policy, was this alliance between Henry de Valois and Henry of Navarre, between a great portion of the Catholics of France and the Protestants. Philip II. had plumed himself upon being the patron of absolute power in religious as well as political matters, and the dominant power throughout Europe in the name of Catholicism and Spain. In both these respects he ran great risk of being beaten by a King of France who was a Protestant or an ally of Protestants and supported by the Protestant influence of England, Holland, and Germany. In Italy itself and in Catholic Europe Philip did not find the harmony and support for which he looked. The republic of Venice was quietly but certainly well disposed towards France, and determined to live on good terms with a King of France, a friend of Protestants or even himself Protestant. And what hurt Philip II. still more was, that Pope Sixtus V. himself, though all the while upholding the unity and authority of the Roman church, was bent upon not submitting to the yoke of Spain, and upon showing a favorable disposition towards France. “France is a very noble kingdom,” he said to the Venetian ambassador Gritti; “the church has always obtained great advantages from her. We love her beyond measure, and we are pleased to find that the Signiory shares our affection.” Another day he expressed to him his disapprobation of the League. “We cannot praise, indeed we must blame, the first act committed by the Duke of Guise, which was to take up arms and unite with other princes against the king; though he made religion a pretext, he had no right to take up arms against his sovereign.” And again: “The union of the King of France with the heretics is no longer a matter of doubt; but, after all, Henry of Navarre is worth a great many of Henry III.; this latter will have the measure he meted to the Guises.” So much equity and mental breadth on the pope’s part was better suited for the republic of Venice than for the King of Spain. “We have but one desire,” wrote the Doge Cicogna to Badoero, his ambassador at Rome, “and that is to keep the European peace. We cannot believe that Sixtus V., that great pontiff, is untrue to his charge, which is to ward off from the Christian world the dangers that threaten it; in imitation of Him whom he represents on earth, he will show mercy, and not proceed to acts which would drive the King of France to despair.” During the great struggle with which Europe was engaged in the sixteenth century, the independence of states, religious tolerance, and political liberty thus sometimes found, besides their regular and declared champions, protectors, useful on occasion although they were timid, even amongst the habitual allies of Charles V.‘s despotic and persecuting successor.

On arriving before Paris towards the end of July, 1589, the two kings besieged it with an army of forty-two thousand men, the strongest and the best they had ever had under their orders. “The affairs of Henry III.,” says De Thou, “had changed face; fortune was pronouncing for him.” Quartered in the house of Count de Retz, at St. Cloud, he could thence see quite at his ease his city of Paris. “Yonder,” said he, “is the heart of the League; it is there that the blow must be struck. It was great pity to lay in ruins so beautiful and goodly a city. Still, I must settle accounts with the rebels who are in it, and who ignominiously drove me away.” “On Tuesday, August 1, at eight A. M., he was told,” says L’Estoile, “that a monk desired to speak with him, but that his guards made a difficulty about letting him in. ‘Let him in,’ said the king: ‘if he is refused, it will be said that I drive monks away and will not see them.’ Incontinently entered the monk, having in his sleeve a knife unsheathed. He made a profound reverence to the king, who had just got up and had nothing on but a dressing-gown about his shoulders, and presented to him despatches from Count de Brienne, saying that he had further orders to tell the king privately something of importance. Then the king ordered those who were present to retire, and began reading the letter which the monk had brought asking for a private audience afterwards; the monk, seeing the king’s attention taken up with reading, drew his knife from his sleeve and drove it right into the king’s small gut, below the navel, so home that he left the knife in the hole; the which the king having drawn out with great exertion struck the monk a blow with the point of it on his left eyebrow, crying, ‘Ah! wicked monk! he has killed me; kill him!’ At which cry running quickly up, the guards and others, such as happened to be nearest, massacred this assassin of a Jacobin who, as D’Aubigne says, stretched out his two arms against the wall, counterfeiting the crucifix, whilst the blows were dealt him. Having been dragged out dead from the king’s chamber, he was stripped naked to the waist, covered with his gown and exposed to the public.”

Whilst Henry de Valois was thus struck down at St. Cloud, Henry of Navarre had moved with a good number of troops to the Pre-aux-Clercs; and seeing Rosny, who was darting along, pistol in hand, amongst the foremost, he called one of his gentlemen and said, “Maignan, go and tell M. de Rosny to come back; he will get taken or wounded in that rash style.” “I should not care to speak so to him,” answered Maignan. “I will tell him that your Majesty wants him.” Meanwhile up came a gentleman at a gallop, who said three or four words in the King of Navarre’s ear. “My friend,” said Henry to Rosny, “the king has just been wounded with a knife in the stomach; let us go and see about it; come with me.” Henry took with him five and twenty gentlemen. The king received him affectionately, exhorted him to change his religion for his salvation’s sake in another world and his fortunes in this; and, addressing the people of quality who thronged his chamber, he said, “I do pray you as my friends, and as your king I order you, to recognize after my death my brother here. For my satisfaction and as your bounden duty, I pray you to swear it to him in my presence.” All present took the oath. Henry III. spoke in a firm voice; and his wound was not believed to be mortal. Letters were sent in his name to the queen, to the governors of the provinces and to the princes allied to the crown, to inform them of the accident that had happened to the king, “which, please God, will turn out to be nothing.” The King of Navarre asked for some details as to the assassin. James Clement was a young Dominican who, according to report, had been a soldier before he became a monk. He was always talking of waging war against Henry de Valois, and he was called “Captain Clement.” He told a story about a vision he had of an angel, who had bidden him “to put to death the tyrant of France, in return for which he would have the crown of martyrdom.” Royalist writers report that he had been placed in personal communication with the friends of Henry de Guise, even with his sister the Duchess of Montpensier, and his brother the Duke of Mayenne. When well informed of the facts, the King of Navarre returned to his quarters at Meudon, and Rosny to his lodging at the foot of the castle. Whilst Rosny was at supper, his secretary came and said to him, “Sir, the King of Navarre, peradventure the King of France, wants you. M. d’Orthoman writes to him to make haste and come to St. Cloud if he would see the king alive.” The King of Navarre at once departed. Just as he arrived at St. Cloud, he heard in the street cries of “Ah! my God, we are lost!” He was told that the king was dead. Henry III., in fact, expired on the 2d of August, 1589, between two and three in the morning. The first persons Henry of Navarre encountered as he entered the Hotel de Retz were the officers of the Scottish guard, who threw themselves at his feet, saying, “Ah! sir, you are now our king and our master.”

Henry of Navarre and the Scotch Guard——448