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Earliest Times, by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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Title: A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
       Volume V. of VI.

Author: Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

Release Date: April 8, 2004 [EBook #11955]
Last Updated: September 6, 2016

Language: English

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Henry IV.——11


Henry IV. At Ivry——26

Rosny Castle——30

“Do Not Lose Sight of My White Plume.”——30

Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma——32

Charles de Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne——35

Lemaitre, Mayenne, and the Archbishop of Lyons——53

Henry IV.‘s Abjuration——56

The Castle of Monceaux——91

The Castle of St. Germain in the Reign Of Henry IV.—107

The Castle of Fontainbleau——124

Gabrielle D’estrees—130

Henry IV. And his Ministers——138

The Arsenal in the Reign of Henry IV.——143

Marie de Medicis——147

Concini, Leonora Galigai, and Mary De’ Medici——149

Louis XIII. And Albert de Luynes——154

Murder of Marshal D’Ancre——155


Double Duel——188

“Tapping With his Finger-tips on the Window-pane.”——191

Henry, Duke of Montmorency, at Castelnaudary——199

The King and the Cardinal——204

Cinq-Mars and de Thou Going to Execution——215

The Parliament of Paris Reprimanded——217

The Barefoots——221

The Abbot of St. Cyran——234

Demolishing the Fortifications——244

The Harbor of La Rochelle—-248

The King and Richelieu at La Rochelle——250

John Guiton’s Oath——254

The Defile of Suza Pass——278

Richelieu and Father Joseph——280

Gustavus Adolphus——282

Death of Gustavus and his Page——290

The Palais-Cardinal——305

The Tomb of Richelieu——308

Descartes at Amsterdam——316

The King’s Press——323

Peter Corneille——334

The Representation of “The Cid.”——335

Corneille at the Hotel Rambouillet—-342

Louis XIV.——344

The Great Conde——348

Arrest of Broussel——352

Cardinal de Retz——352

“Ah, Wretch, if Thy Father Saw Thee!”——354

President Mole——355

The Great Mademoiselle——373

Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin——394

Death of Mazarin.——399



Vaux Le Vicomte——405b

Louis XIV. Dismissing Fouquet——407


William III., Prince of Orange——434

The Brothers Witt——436

Death of Turenne——443


An Exploit of John Bart’s——446

Duquesne Victorious over Ruyter—446a

Marshal Luxembourg—461


Battle of St. Vincent 465a

The Battle of Neerwinden——465

“Here is the King of Spain.”——475

News for William III.——481

Bivouac of Louis XIV.——503

The Grand Dauphin——505

Marshal Villars and Prince Eugene——512


Colonnade of the Louvre 525a



Misery of the Peasantry——543

The Torture of the Huguenots—552

Revocation of the Edict Of Nantes——556

Death of Roland the Camisard——569

Abbey of Port-Royal——580

Reading the Decree 581


Blaise Pascal——597

Fenelon and the Duke of Burgundy——610

La Rochefoucauld and his Fair Friends——629

La Bruyere——633

Corneille Reading to Louis XIV.——642



La Fontaine, Boileau, Moliere, and Racine——657


Death of Moliere——669


Le Poussin and Claude Lorrain——675


Mignard 677

Perrault 678









On the 2d of August, 1589, in the morning, upon his arrival in his quarters at Meudon, Henry of Navarre was saluted by the Protestants King of France. They were about five thousand in an army of forty thousand men. When, at ten o’clock, he entered the camp of the Catholics at St. Cloud, three of their principal leaders, Marshal d’Aumont, and Sires d’Humieres and de Givry, immediately acknowledged him unconditionally, as they had done the day before at the death-bed of Henry III., and they at once set to work to conciliate to him the noblesse of Champagne, Picardy, and Ile-de-France. “Sir,” said Givry, “you are the king of the brave; you will be deserted by none but dastards.” But the majority of the Catholic leaders received him with such expressions as, “Better die than endure a Huguenot king!” One of them, Francis d’O, formally declared to him that the time had come for him to choose between the insignificance of a King of Navarre and the grandeur of a King of France; if he pretended to the crown, he must first of all abjure. Henry firmly rejected these threatening entreaties, and left their camp with an urgent recommendation, to them to think of it well before bringing dissension into the royal army and the royal party which were protecting their privileges, their property, and their lives against the League. On returning to his quarters, he noticed the arrival of Marshal de Biron, who pressed him to lay hands without delay upon the crown of France, in order to guard it and save it. But, in the evening of that day and on the morrow, at the numerous meetings of the lords to deliberate upon the situation, the ardent Catholics renewed their demand for the exclusion of Henry from the throne if he did not at once abjure, and for referring the election of a king to the states-general. Biron himself proposed not to declare Henry king, but to recognize him merely as captain-general of the army pending his abjuration. Harlay de Sancy vigorously maintained the cause of the Salic law and the hereditary rights of monarchy. Biron took him aside and said, “I had hitherto thought that you had sense; now I doubt it. If, before securing our own position with the King of Navarre, we completely establish his, he will no longer care for us. The time is come for making our terms; if we let the occasion escape us, we shall never recover it.” “What are your terms?” asked Sancy. “If it please the king to give me the countship of Perigord, I shall be his forever.” Sancy reported this conversation to the king, who promised Biron what he wanted.

Though King of France for but two days past, Henry IV. had already perfectly understood and steadily taken the measure of the situation. He was in a great minority throughout the country as well as the army, and he would have to deal with public passions, worked by his foes for their own ends, and with the personal pretensions of his partisans. He made no mistake about these two facts, and he allowed them great weight; but he did not take for the ruling principle of his policy and for his first rule of conduct the plan of alternate concessions to the different parties and of continually humoring personal interests; he set his thoughts higher, upon the general and natural interests of France as he found her and saw her. They resolved themselves, in his eyes, into the following great points: maintenance of the hereditary rights of monarchy, preponderance of Catholics in the government, peace between Catholics and Protestants, and religious liberty for Protestants. With him these points became the law of his policy and his kingly duty, as well as the nation’s right. He proclaimed them in the first words that he addressed to the lords and principal personages of state assembled around him. “You all know,” said he, “what orders the late king my predecessor gave me, and what he enjoined upon me with his dying breath. It was chiefly to maintain my subjects, Catholic or Protestant, in equal freedom, until a council, canonical, general, or national, had decided this great dispute. I promised him to perform faithfully that which he bade me, and I regard it as one of my first duties to be as good as my word. I have heard that some who are in my army feel scruples about remaining in my service unless I embrace the Catholic religion. No doubt they think me weak enough for them to imagine that they can force me thereby to abjure my religion and break my word. I am very glad to inform them here, in presence of you all, that I would rather this were the last day of my life than take any step which might cause me to be suspected of having dreamt of renouncing the religion that I sucked in with my mother’s milk, before I have been better instructed by a lawful council, to whose authority I bow in advance. Let him who thinks so ill of me get him gone as soon as he pleases; I lay more store by a hundred good Frenchmen than by two hundred who could harbor sentiments so unworthy. Besides, though you should abandon me, I should have enough of friends left to enable me, without you and to your shame, with the sole assistance of their strong arms, to maintain the rights of my authority. But were I doomed to see myself deprived of even that assistance, still the God who has preserved me from my infancy, as if by His own hand, to sit upon the throne, will not abandon me. I nothing doubt that He will uphold me where He has placed me, not for love of me, but for the salvation of so many souls who pray, without ceasing, for His aid, and for whose freedom He has deigned to make use of my arm. You know that I am a Frenchman and the foe of all duplicity. For the seventeen years that I have been King of Navarre, I do not think that I have ever departed from my word. I beg you to address your prayers to the Lord on my behalf, that He may enlighten me in my views, direct my purposes, bless my endeavors. And in case I commit any fault or fail in any one of my duties,—for I acknowledge that I am a man like any other,—pray Him to give me grace that I may correct it, and to assist me in all my goings.”

Henry IV.——11

On the 4th of August, 1589, an official manifesto of Henry IV.‘s confirmed the ideas and words of this address. On the same day, in the camp at St. Cloud, the majority of the princes, dukes, lords, and gentlemen present in the camp expressed their full adhesion to the accession and the manifesto of the king, promising him “service and obedience against rebels and enemies who would usurp the kingdom.” Two notable leaders, the Duke of Epernon amongst the Catholics, and the Duke of La Tremoille amongst the Protestants, refused to join in this adhesion; the former saying that his conscience would not permit him to serve a heretic king, the latter alleging that his conscience forbade him to serve a prince who engaged to protect Catholic idolatry. They withdrew, D’Epernon into Angoumois and Saintonge, taking with him six thousand foot and twelve thousand horse; and La Tremoille into Poitou, with nine battalions of Reformers. They had an idea of attempting, both of them, to set up for themselves independent principalities. Three contemporaries, Sully, La Force, and the bastard of Angouleme, bear witness that Henry IV. was deserted by as many Huguenots as Catholics. The French royal army was reduced, it is said, to one half. As a make-weight, Saucy prevailed upon the Swiss, to the number of twelve thousand, and two thousand German auxiliaries, not only to continue in the service of the new king, but to wait six months for their pay, as he was at the moment unable to pay them. From the 14th to the 20th of August, in Ile-de-France, in Picardy, in Normandy, in Auvergne, in Champagne, in Burgundy, in Anjou, in Poitou, in Languedoc, in Orleanness, and in Touraine, a great number of towns and districts joined in the determination of the royal army. The last instance of such adherence had a special importance. At the time of Henry III.‘s rupture with the League, the Parliament of Paris had been split in two; the royalists had followed the king to Tours, the partisans of the League had remained at Paris. After the accession of Henry IV., the Parliament of Tours, with the president, Achille de Harlay, as its head, increased from day to day, and soon reached two hundred members, whilst the Parliament of Paris, or Brisson Parliament, as it was called from its leader’s name, had only sixty-eight left. Brisson, on undertaking the post, actually thought it right to take the precaution of protesting privately, making a declaration in the presence of notaries “that he so acted by constraint only, and that he shrank from any rebellion against his king and sovereign lord.” It was, indeed, on the ground of the heredity of the monarchy and by virtue of his own proper rights that Henry IV. had ascended the throne; and M. Poirson says quite correctly, in his learned Histoire du Regne d’Henri IV. [t. i. p. 29, second edition, 1862], “The manifesto of Henry IV., as its very name indicates, was not a contract settled between the noblesse in camp at St. Cloud and the claimant; it was a solemn and reciprocal acknowledgment by the noblesse of Henry’s rights to the crown, and by Henry of the nation’s political, civil, and religious rights. The engagements entered into by Henry were only what were necessary to complete the guarantees given for the security of the rights of Catholics. As touching the succession to the throne, the signataries themselves say that all they do is to maintain and continue the law of the land.”

There was, in 1589, an unlawful pretender to the throne of France; and that was Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, younger brother of Anthony de Bourbon, King of Navarre, and consequently uncle of Henry IV., sole representative of the elder branch. Under Henry III., the cardinal had thrown in his lot with the League; and, after the murder of Guise, Henry III. had, by way of precaution, ordered him to be arrested and detained him in confinement at Chinon, where he still was when Henry III. was in his turn murdered. On becoming king, the far-sighted Henry IV. at once bethought him of his uncle and of what he might be able to do against him. The cardinal was at Chinon, in the custody of Sieur de Chavigny, “a man of proved fidelity,” says De Thou, “but by this time old and blind.” Henry IV. wrote to Du Plessis-Mornay, appointed quite recently governor of Saumur, “bidding him, at any price,” says Madame de Mornay, “to get Cardinal de Bourbon away from Chinon, where he was, without sparing anything, even to the whole of his property, because he would incontinently set himself up for king if he could obtain his release.” Henry IV. was right. As early as the 7th of August, the Duke of Mayenne had an announcement made to the Parliament of Paris, and written notice sent to all the provincial governors, “that, in the interval until the states-general could be assembled, he urged them all to unite with him in rendering with one accord to their Catholic king, that is to say, Cardinal de Bourbon, the obedience that was due to him.” The cardinal was, in fact, proclaimed king under the name of Charles X.; and eight months afterwards, on the 5th of March, 1590, the Parliament of Paris issued a decree “recognizing Charles X. as true and lawful king of France.” Du Plessis-Mornay, ill though he was, had understood and executed, without loss of time, the orders of King Henry, going bail himself for the promises that had to be made and for the sums that had to be paid to get the cardinal away from the governor of Chinon. He succeeded, and had the cardinal removed to Fontenay-le-Comte in Poitou, “under the custody of Sieur de la Boulaye, governor of that place, whose valor and fidelity were known to him.” “That,” said Henry IV. on receiving the news, “is one of the greatest services I could have had rendered me; M. du Plessis does business most thoroughly.” On the 9th of May, 1590, not three months after the decree of the Parliament of Paris which had proclaimed him true and lawful King of France, Cardinal de Bourbon, still a prisoner, died at Fontenay, aged sixty-seven. A few weeks before his death he had written to his nephew Henry IV. a letter in which he recognized him as his sovereign.

The League was more than ever dominant in Paris; Henry IV. could not think of entering there. Before recommencing the war in his own name, he made Villeroi, who, after the death of Henry III., had rejoined the Duke of Mayenne, an offer of an interview in the Bois de Boulogne to see if there were no means of treating for peace. Mayenne would not allow Villeroi to accept the offer. “He had no private quarrel,” he said, “with the King of Navarre, whom he highly honored, and who, to his certain knowledge, had not looked with approval upon his brothers’ death; but any appearance of negotiation would cause great distrust amongst their party, and they would not do anything that tended against the rights of King Charles X.” Renouncing all idea of negotiation, Henry IV. set out on the 8th of August from St. Cloud, after having told off his army in three divisions. Two were ordered to go and occupy Picardy and Champagne; and the king kept with him only the third, about six thousand strong. He went and laid the body of Henry III. in the church of St. Corneille at Compiegne, took Meulan and several small towns on the banks of the Seine and Oise, and propounded for discussion with his officers the question of deciding in which direction he should move, towards the Loire or the Seine, on Tours or on Rouen. He determined in favor of Normandy; he must be master of the ports in that province in order to receive there the re-enforcements which had been promised him by Queen Elizabeth of England, and which she did send him in September, 1589, forming a corps of from four to five thousand men, Scots and English, “aboard of thirteen vessels laden with twenty-two thousand pounds sterling in gold and seventy thousand pounds of gunpowder, three thousand cannon-balls, and corn, biscuits, wine, and beer, together with woolens and even shoes.” They arrived very opportunely for the close of the campaign, but too late to share in Henry IV.‘s first victory, that series of fights around the castle of Arques which, in the words of an eye-witness, the Duke of Angouleme, “was the first gate whereby Henry entered upon the road of his glory and good fortune.”

After making a demonstration close to Rouen, Henry IV., learning that the Duke of Mayenne was advancing in pursuit of him with an army of twenty-five thousand foot and eight thousand horse, thought it imprudent to wait for him and run the risk of being jammed between forces so considerable and the hostile population of a large city; so he struck his camp and took the road to Dieppe, in order to be near the coast and the re-enforcements from Queen Elizabeth. Some persons even suggested to him that in case of mishap he might go thence and take refuge in England; but at this prospect Biron answered, “There is no King of France out of France;” and Henry IV. was of Biron’s opinion. At his arrival before Dieppe, he found as governor there Aymar de Chastes, a man of wits and honor, a very moderate Catholic, and very strongly in favor of the party of policists. Under Henry III. he had expressly refused to enter the League, saying to Villars, who pressed him to do so, “I am a Frenchman, and you yourself will find out that the Spaniard is the real head of the League.” He had organized at Dieppe four companies of burgess-guards, consisting of Catholics and Protestants, and he assembled about him, to consider the affairs of the town, a small council, in which Protestants had the majority. As soon as he knew, on the 26th of August, that the king was approaching Dieppe, he went with the principal inhabitants to meet him, and presented to him the keys of the place, saying, “I come to salute my lord and hand over to him the government of this city.” “Ventre-saint-gris!” answered Henry IV., “I know nobody more worthy of it than you are!” The Dieppese overflowed with felicitations. “No fuss, my lads,” said Henry: “all I want is your affections, good bread, good wine, and good hospitable faces.” When he entered the town, “he was received,” says a contemporary chronicler, “with loud cheers by the people; and what was curious, but exhilarating, was to see the king surrounded by close upon six thousand armed men, himself having but a few officers at his left hand.” He received at Dieppe assurance of the fidelity of La Verune, governor of Caen, whither, in 1589, according to Henry III.‘s order, that portion of the Parliament of Normandy which would not submit to the yoke of the League at Rouen, had removed. Caen having set the example, St. Lo, Coutances, and Carentan likewise sent deputies to Dieppe to recognize the authority of Henry IV. But Henry had no idea of shutting himself up inside Dieppe: after having carefully inspected the castle, citadel, harbor, fortifications, and outskirts of the town, he left there five hundred men in garrison, supported by twelve or fifteen hundred well-armed burgesses, and went and established himself personally in the old castle of Arques, standing, since the eleventh century, upon a barren hill; below, in the burgh of Arques, he sent Biron into cantonments with his regiment of Swiss and the companies of French infantry; and he lost no time in having large fosses dug ahead of the burgh, in front of all the approaches, enclosing within an extensive line of circumvallation both burgh and castle. All the king’s soldiers and the peasants that could be picked up in the environs worked night and day. Whilst they were at work, Henry wrote to Countess Corisande de Gramont, his favorite at that time, “My dear heart, it is a wonder I am alive with such work as I have. God have pity upon me and show me mercy, blessing my labors, as He does in spite of a many folks! I am well, and my affairs are going well. I have taken Eu. The enemy, who are double me just now, thought to catch me there; but I drew off towards Dieppe, and I await them in a camp that I am fortifying. Tomorrow will be the day when I shall see them, and I hope, with God’s help, that if they attack me they will find they have made a bad bargain. The bearer of this goes by sea. The wind and my duties make me conclude. This 9th of September, in the trenches at Arques.”

All was finished when the scouts of Mayenne appeared. But Mayenne also was an able soldier: he saw that the position the king had taken and the works he had caused to be thrown up rendered a direct attack very difficult. He found means of bearing down upon Dieppe another way, and of placing himself, says the latest historian of Dieppe, M. Vitet, between the king and the town, “hoping to cut off the king’s communications with the sea, divide his forces, deprive him of his re-enforcements from England, and, finally, surround him and capture him,” as he had promised the Leaguers of Paris, who were already talking of the iron cage in which the Bearnese would be sent to them. “Henry IV.,” continues M. Vitet, “felt some vexation at seeing his forecasts checkmated by Mayenne’s manoeuvre, and at having had so much earth removed to so little profit; but he was a man of resources, confident as the Gascons are, and with very little of pig-headedness. To change all his plans was with him the work of an instant. Instead of awaiting the foe in his intrenchments, he saw that it was for him to go and feel for them on the other side of the valley, and that, on pain of being invested, he must not leave the Leaguers any exit but the very road they had taken to come.” Having changed all his plans on this new system, Henry breathed more freely; but he did not go to sleep for all that: he was incessantly backwards and forwards from Dieppe to Arques, from Arques to Dieppe and to the Faubourg du Pollet. Mayenne, on the contrary, seemed to have fallen into a lethargy; he had not yet been out of his quarters during the nearly eight and forty hours since he had taken them. On the 17th of September, 1589, in the morning, however, a few hundred light-horse were seen putting themselves in motion, scouring the country and coming to fire their pistols close to the fosses of the royal army. The skirmish grew warm by degrees. “My son,” said Marshal de Biron to the young count of Auvergne [natural son of Charles IX. and Mary Touchet], “charge: now is the time.” The young prince, without his hat, and his horsemen charged so vigorously that they put the Leaguers to the rout, killed three hundred of them, and returned quietly within their lines, by Biron’s orders, without being disturbed in their retreat. These partial and irregular encounters began again on the 18th and 19th of September, with the same result. The Duke of Mayenne was nettled and humiliated; he had his prestige to recover. He decided to concentrate all his forces right on the king’s intrenchments, and attack them in front with his whole army. The 20th of September passed without a single skirmish. Henry, having received good information that he would be attacked the next day, did not go to bed. The night was very dark. He thought he saw a long way off in the valley a long line of lighted matches; but there was profound silence; and the king and his officers puzzled themselves to decide if they were men or glow-worms. On the 21st, at five A. M., the king gave orders for every one to be ready and at his post. He himself repaired to the battle-field. Sitting in a big fosse with all his officers, he had his breakfast brought thither, and was eating with good appetite, when a prisoner was brought to him, a gentleman of the League, who had advanced too far whilst making a reconnaissance. “Good day, Belin,” said the king, who recognized him, laughing: “embrace me for your welcome appearance.” Belin embraced him, telling him that he was about to have down upon him thirty thousand foot and ten thousand horse. “Where are your forces?” he asked the king, looking about him. “O! you don’t see them all, M. de Belin,” said Henry: “you don’t reckon the good God and the good right, but they are ever with me.”

The action began about ten o’clock. The fog was still so thick that there was no seeing one another at ten paces. The ardor on both sides was extreme; and, during nearly three hours, victory seemed to twice shift her colors. Henry at one time found himself entangled amongst some squadrons so disorganized that he shouted, “Courage, gentlemen; pray, courage! Can’t we find fifty gentlemen willing to die with their king?” At this moment Chatillon, issuing from Dieppe with five hundred picked men, arrived on the field of battle. The king dismounted to fight at his side in the trenches; and then, for a quarter of an hour, there was a furious combat, man to man. At last, “when things were in this desperate state,” says Sully, “the fog, which had been very thick all the morning, dropped down suddenly, and the cannon of the castle of Arques getting sight of the enemy’s army, a volley of four pieces was fired, which made four beautiful lanes in their squadrons and battalions. That pulled them up quite short; and three or four volleys in succession, which produced marvellous effects, made them waver, and, little by little, retire all of them behind the turn of the valley, out of cannon-shot, and finally to their quarters.” Mayenne had the retreat sounded. Henry, master of the field, gave chase for a while to the fugitives, and then returned to Arques to thank God for his victory. Mayenne struck his camp and took the road towards Amiens, to pick up a Spanish corps which he was expecting from the Low Countries.


For six months, from September, 1589, to March, 1590, the war continued without any striking or important events. Henry IV. tried to stop it after his success at Arques; he sent word to the Duke of Mayenne by his prisoner Belin, whom he had sent away free on parole, “that he desired peace, and so earnestly, that, without regarding his dignity or his victory, he made him these advances, not that he had any fear of him, but because of the pity he felt for his kingdom’s sufferings.” Mayenne, who lay beneath the double yoke of his party’s passions and his own ambitious projects, rejected the king’s overtures, or allowed them to fall through; and on the 21st of October, 1589, Henry, setting out with his army from Dieppe, moved rapidly on Paris, in order to effect a strategic surprise, whilst Mayenne was rejecting at Amiens his pacific inclinations. The king gained three marches on the Leaguers, and carried by assault the five faubourgs situated on the left bank of the Seine. He would perhaps have carried terror-stricken Paris itself, if the imperfect breaking up of the St. Maixent bridge on the Somme had not allowed Mayenne, notwithstanding his tardiness, to arrive at Paris in time to enter with his army, form a junction with the Leaguers amongst the population, and prevail upon the king to carry his arms elsewhither. “The people of Paris,” says De Thou, “were extravagant enough to suppose that this prince could not escape Mayenne. Already a host of idle and credulous women had been at the pains of engaging windows, which they let very dear, and which they had fitted up magnificently, to see the passage of that fanciful triumph for which their mad hopes had caused them to make every preparation—before the victory.” Henry left some of his lieutenants to carry on the war in the environs of Paris, and himself repaired, on the 21st of November, to Tours, where the royalist Parliament, the exchequer-chamber, the court of taxation, and all the magisterial bodies which had not felt inclined to submit to the despotism of the League, lost no time in rendering him homage, as the head and the representative of the national and the lawful cause. He reigned and ruled, to real purpose, in the eight principal provinces of the North and Centre—Ile-de-France, Picardy, Champagne, Normandy, Orleanness, Touraine, Maine, and Anjou; and his authority, although disputed, was making way in nearly all the other parts of the kingdom. He made war not like a conqueror, but like a king who wanted to meet with acceptance in the places which he occupied and which he would soon have to govern. The inhabitants of Le Mans and of Alencon were able to reopen their shops on the very day on which their town fell into his hands, and those of Vendome the day after. He watched to see that respect was paid by his soldiers, even the Huguenots, to Catholic churches and ceremonies. Two soldiers, having made their way into Le Mans, contrary to orders, after the capitulation, and having stolen a chalice, were hanged on the spot, though they were men of acknowledged bravery. He protected carefully the bishops and all the ecclesiastics who kept aloof from political strife. “If minute details are required,” says a contemporary pamphleteer, “out of a hundred or a hundred and twenty archbishops or bishops existing in the realm of France not a tenth part approve of the counsels of the League.” It was not long before Henry reaped the financial fruits of his protective equity; at the close of 1589 he could count upon a regular revenue of more than two millions of crowns, very insufficient, no doubt, for the wants of his government, but much beyond the official resources of his enemies. He had very soon taken his proper rank in Europe: the Protestant powers which had been eager to recognize him—England, Scotland, the Low Countries, the Scandinavian states, and Reformed Germany—had been joined by the republic of Venice, the most judiciously governed state at that time in Europe, but solely on the ground of political interests and views, independently of any religious question. On the accession of Henry IV., his ambassador, Hurault de Maisse, was received and very well treated at Venice; he was merely excluded from religious ceremonies: the Venetian people joined in the policy of their government; the portrait of the new King of France was everywhere displayed and purchased throughout Venice. Some Venetians went so far as to take service in his army against the League. The Holy Inquisition commenced proceedings against them for heresy; the government stopped the proceedings, and even, says Count Daru, had the Inquisitor thrown into prison. The Venetian senate accredited to the court of Henry IV. the same ambassador who had been at Henry III.‘s; and, on returning to Tours, on the 21st of November, 1589, the king received him to an audience in state. A little later on he did more; he sent the republic, as a pledge of his friendship, his sword—the sword, he said in his letter, which he had used at the battle of Ivry. “The good offices were mutual,” adds M. de Daru; “the Venetians lent Henry IV. sums of money which the badness of the times rendered necessary to him; but their ambassador had orders to throw into the fire, in the king’s presence, the securities for the loan.”

As the government of Henry IV. went on growing in strength and extent, two facts, both of them natural, though antagonistic, were being accomplished in France and in Europe. The moderate Catholics were beginning, not as yet to make approaches towards him, but to see a glimmering possibility of treating with him and obtaining from him such concessions as they considered necessary at the same time that they in their turn made to him such as he might consider sufficient for his party and himself. It has already been remarked with what sagacity Pope Sixtus V. had divined the character of Henry IV., at the very moment of condemning Henry III. for making an alliance with him. When Henry IV. had become king, Sixtus V. pronounced strongly against a heretic king, and maintained, in opposition to him, his alliance with Philip II. and the League. “France,” said he, “is a good and noble kingdom, which has infinity of benefices and is specially dear to us; and so we try to save her; but religion sits nearer than France to our heart.” He chose for his legate in France Cardinal Gaetani, whom he knew to be agreeable to Philip II. and gave him instructions in harmony with the Spanish policy. Having started for his post, Gaetani was a long while on the road, halting at Lyons, amongst other places, as if he were in no hurry to enter upon his duties. At the close of 1589, Henry IV., king for the last five months and already victorious at Arques, appointed as his ambassador at Rome Francis de Luxembourg, Duke of Pinei, to try and enter into official relations with the pope. On the 6th of January, 1590, Sixtus V., at his reception of the cardinals, announced to them this news. Badoero, ambassador of Venice at Rome, leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “We must pray God to inspire the King of Navarre. On the day when your Holiness embraces him, and then only, the affairs of France will be adjusted. Humanly speaking, there is no other way of bringing peace to that kingdom.” The pope confined himself to replying that God would do all for the best, and that, for his own part, he would wait. On arriving at Rome, “the Duke of Luxembourg repaired to the Vatican with two and twenty carriages occupied by French gentlemen; but, at the palace, he found the door of the pope’s apartments closed, the sentries doubled, and the officers on duty under orders to intimate to the French, the chief of the embassy excepted, that they must lay aside their swords. At the door of the Holy Father’s closet, the duke and three gentlemen of his train were alone allowed to enter. The indignation felt by the French was mingled with apprehensions of an ambush. Luxembourg himself could not banish a feeling of vague terror; great was his astonishment when, on his introduction to the pontiff, the latter received him with demonstrations of affection, asked him news of his journey, said he would have liked to give him quarters in the palace, made him sit down,—a distinction reserved for the ambassadors of kings, —and, lastly, listened patiently to the French envoy’s long recital. In fact, the receptions intra et, extra muros bore very little resemblance one to the other, but the difference between them corresponded pretty faithfully with the position of Sixtus V., half engaged to the League by Gaetani’s commission and to Philip II. by the steps he had recently taken, and already regretting that he was so far gone in the direction of Spain.” [Sixtus V, by Baron Hubner, late ambassador of Austria at Paris and at Rome, t. ii. pp. 280-282.]

Unhappily Sixtus V. died on the 27th of August, 1590, before having modified, to any real purpose, his bearing towards the King of France and his instructions to his legate. After Pope Urban VIII.‘s apparition of thirteen days’ duration, Gregory XIV. was elected pope on the 5th of December, 1590; and, instead of a head of the church able enough and courageous enough to comprehend and practise a policy European and Italian as well as Catholic in its scope, there was a pope humbly devoted to the Spanish policy, meekly subservient to Philip II.; that is, to the cause of religious persecution and of absolute power, without regard for anything else. The relations of France with the Holy See at once felt the effects of this; Cardinal Gaetani received from Rome all the instructions that the most ardent Leaguers could desire; and he gave his approval to a resolution of the Sorbonne to the effect that Henry de Bourbon, heretic and relapsed, was forever excluded from the crown, whether he became a Catholic or not. Henry IV., had convoked the states-general at Tours for the month of March, and had summoned to that city the archbishops and bishops to form a national council, and to deliberate as to the means of restoring the king to the bosom of the Catholic church. The legate prohibited this council, declaring, beforehand, the excommunication and deposition of any bishops who should be present at it. The Leaguer Parliament of Paris forbade, on pain of death and confiscation, any connection, any correspondence, with Henry de Bourbon and his partisans. A solemn procession of the League took place at Paris, on the 14th of March, and a few days afterwards the union was sworn afresh by all the municipal chiefs of the population. In view of such passionate hostility, Henry IV., a stranger to any sort of illusion at the same time that he was always full of hope, saw that his successes at Arques were insufficient for him, and that, if he were to occupy the throne in peace, he must win more victories. He recommenced the campaign by the siege of Dreux, one of the towns which it was most important for him to possess in order to put pressure on Paris, and cause her to feel, even at a distance, the perils and evils of war.

On Wednesday, the 14th of March, 1590, was fought the battle of Ivry, a village six leagues from Evreux, on the left bank of the Eure. “Starting from Dreux on the 12th of March” [Poirson, Histoire du Regne d’Henri IV., t. i. p. 180], “the royal army had arrived the same day at Nonancourt, marching with the greatest regularity by divisions and always in close order, through fearful weather, frost having succeeding rain; moreover, it traversed a portion of the road during the shades of evening. The soldier was harassed and knocked up. But scarcely had he arrived at his destination for the day, when he found large fires lighted everywhere, and provisions in abundance, served out with intelligent regularity to the various quarters of cavalry and infantry. He soon recovered all his strength and daring.” The king, in concert with the veteran Marshal de Biron, had taken these prudent measures. All the historians, contemporary and posterior, have described in great detail the battle of Ivry, the manoeuvres and alternations of success that distinguished it; by rare good fortune, we have an account of the affair written the very same evening in the camp at Rosny by Henry IV. himself, and at once sent off to some of his principal partisans who were absent, amongst others to M. de la Verune, governor of Caen. We will content ourselves here with the king’s own words, striking in their precision, brevity, and freedom from any self-complacent gasconading on the narrator’s part, respecting either his party or himself.

Henry IV. At Ivry——26


“It hath pleased God to grant me that which I had the most desired, to have means of giving battle to mine enemies; having firm confidence that, having got so far, God would give me grace to obtain the victory, as it hath happened this very day. You have heretofore heard how that, after the capture of the town of Honfleur, I went and made them raise the siege they were laying to the town of Meulan, and I offered them battle, which it seemed that they ought to accept, having in numbers twice the strength that I could muster. But in the hope of being able to do so with more safety, they made up their minds to put it off until they had been joined by fifteen hundred lances which the Duke of Parma was sending them; which was done a few days ago. And then they spread abroad everywhere that they would force me to fight, wheresoever I might be; they thought to have found a very favorable opportunity in coming to encounter me at the siege I was laying before the town of Dreux; but I did not give them the trouble of coming so far; for, as soon as I was advertised that they had crossed the river of Seine and were heading towards me, I resolved to put off the siege rather than fail to go and meet them. Having learned that they were six leagues from the said Dreux, I set out last Monday, the 12th of this month, and went and took up my quarters at the town of Nonancourt, which was three leagues from them, for to cross the river there. On Tuesday, I went and took the quarters which they meant to have for themselves, and where their quarter-masters had already arrived. I put myself in order of battle, in the morning, on a very fine plain, about a league from the point which they had chosen the day before, and where they immediately appeared with their whole army, but so far from me that I should have given them a great advantage by going so forward to seek them; I contented myself with making them quit a village they had seized close by me; at last, night constrained us both to get into quarters, which I did in the nearest villages.

“To-day, having had their position reconnoitered betimes, and after it had been reported to me that they had shown themselves, but even farther off than they had done yesterday, I resolved to approach so near to them that there must needs be a collision. And so it happened between ten and eleven in the morning; I went to seek them to the very spot where they were posted, and whence they never advanced a step but what they made to the charge; and the battle took place, wherein God was pleased to make known that His protection is always on the side of the right; for in less than an hour, after having spent all their choler in two or three charges which they made and supported, all their cavalry began to take its departure, leaving their infantry, which was in large numbers. Seeing which, their Swiss had recourse to my compassion, and surrendered, colonels, captains, privates, and all their flags. The lanzknechts and French had no time to take this resolution, for they were cut to pieces, twelve hundred of one and as many of the other; the rest prisoners and put to the rout in the woods, at the mercy of the peasants. Of their cavalry there are from nine hundred to a thousand killed, and from four to five hundred dismounted and prisoners; without counting those drowned in crossing the River Eure, which they crossed to Ivry for to put it between them and us, and who are a great number. The rest of the better mounted saved themselves by flight, in very great disorder, having lost all their baggage. I did not let them be until they were close to Mantes. Their white standard is in my hands, and its bearer a prisoner; twelve or fifteen other standards of their cavalry, twice as many more of their infantry, all their artillery; countless lords prisoners, and of dead a great number, even of those in command, whom I have not yet been able to find time to get identified. But I know that amongst others Count Egmont, who was general of all the forces that came from Flanders, was killed. Their prisoners all say that their army was about four thousand horse, and from twelve to thirteen thousand foot, of which I suppose not a quarter has escaped. As for mine, it may have been two thousand horse and eight thousand foot. But of this cavalry, more than six hundred horse joined me after I was in order of battle, on the Tuesday and Wednesday; nay, the last troop of the noblesse from Picardy, brought up by Sire d’Humieres, and numbering three hundred horse, came up when half an hour had already passed since the battle began.

“It is a miraculous work of God’s, who was pleased, first of all, to give me the resolution to attack them, and then the grace to be able so successfully to accomplish it. Wherefore to Him alone is the glory; and so far as any of it may, by His permission, belong to man, it is due to the princes, officers of the crown, lords, captains, and all the noblesse, who with so much ardor rushed forward, and so successfully exerted themselves, that their predecessors did not leave them more beautiful examples than they will leave to their posterity. As I am greatly content and satisfied with them, so I think that they are with me, and that they have seen that I had no mind to make use of them anywhere without I had also shown them the way. I am still following up the victory with my cousins the princes of Conti, Duke of Montpensier, Count of St. Paul, Marshal-duke of Aumont, grand prior of France, La Tremoille, Sieurs de la Guiche and de Givry, and several other lords and captains. My cousin Marshal de Biron remains with the main army awaiting my tidings, which will go on, I hope, still prospering. You shall hear more fully in my next despatch, which shall follow this very closely, the particulars of this victory, whereof I desired to give you these few words of information, so as not to keep you longer out of the pleasure which I know that you will receive therefrom. I pray you to impart it to all my other good servants yonder, and, especially, to have thanks given therefor to God, whom I pray to have you in His holy keeping.


“From the camp at Rosny, this 14th day of March, 1590.”

Rosny Castle——30

History is not bound to be so reserved and so modest as the king was about himself. It was not only as able captain and valiant soldier that Henry IV. distinguished himself at Ivry; there the man was as conspicuous for the strength of his better feelings, as generous and as affectionate as the king was farsighted and bold. When the word was given to march from Dreux, Count Schomberg, colonel of the German auxiliaries called reiters, had asked for the pay of his troops, letting it be understood that they would not fight if their claims were not satisfied. Henry had replied harshly, “People don’t ask for money on the eve of a battle.” At Ivry, just as the battle was on the point of beginning, he went up to Schomberg. “Colonel,” said he, “I hurt your feelings. This may be the last day of my life. I can’t bear to take away the honor of a brave and honest gentleman like you. Pray forgive me and embrace me.” “Sir,” answered Schomberg, “the other day your Majesty wounded me, to-day you kill me.” He gave up the command of the reiters in order to fight in the king’s own squadron, and was killed in action. As he passed along the front of his own squadron, Henry halted; and, “Comrades,” said he, “if you run my risks, I also run yours. I will conquer or die with you. Keep your ranks well, I beg. If the heat of battle disperse you for a while, rally as soon as you can under those three pear trees you see up yonder to my right; and if you lose your standards, do not lose sight of my white plume; you will always find it in the path of honor, and, I hope, of victory too.”

'do Not Lose Sight of My White Plume.’——30

Having galloped along the whole line of his army, he halted again, threw his horse’s reins over his arm, and clasped his hands, exclaiming, “O God, Thou knowest my thoughts, and Thou dost see to the very bottom of my heart; if it be for my people’s good that I keep the crown, favor Thou my cause and uphold my arms. But if Thy holy will have otherwise ordained, at least let me die, O God, in the midst of these brave soldiers who give their lives for me!” When the battle was over and won, he heard that Rosny had been severely wounded in it; and when he was removed to Rosny Castle, the king, going close up to his stretcher, said, “My friend, I am very glad to see you with a much better countenance than I expected; I should feel still greater joy if you assure me that you run no risk of your life or of being disabled forever; the rumor was, that you had two horses killed under you; that you had been borne to earth, rolled over and trampled upon by the horses of several squadrons, bruised and cut up by so many blows that it would be a marvel if you escaped, or if, at the very least, you were not mutilated for life in some limb. I should like to hug you with both arms. I shall never have any good fortune or increase of greatness but you shall share it. Fearing that too much talking may be harmful to your wounds, I am off again to Mantes. Adieu, my friend; fare you well, and be assured that you have a good master.”

Henry IV. had not only a warm but an expansive heart; he could not help expressing and pouring forth his feelings. That was one of his charms, and also one of his sources of power.

The victory of Ivry had a great effect in France and in Europe. But not immediately and as regarded the actual campaign of 1590. The victorious king moved on Paris, and made himself master of the little towns in the neighborhood with a view of investing the capital. When he took possession of St. Denis [on the 9th of July, 1590], he had the relics and all the jewelry of the church shown to him. When he saw the royal crown, from which the principal stones had been detached, he asked what had become of them. He was told that M. de Mayenne had caused them to-be removed. “He has the stones, then,” said the king; “and I have the soil.” He visited the royal tombs, and when he was shown that of Catherine de’ Medici, “Ah!” said he smiling, “how well it suits her!” And, as he stood before Henry III.‘s he said, “Ventre-saint-gris! There is my good brother; I desire that I be laid beside him.” As he thus went on visiting and establishing all his posts around Paris, the investment became more strict; it was kept up for more than three months, from the end of May to the beginning of September, 1590; and the city was reduced to a severe state of famine, which would have been still more severe if Henry IV. had not several times over permitted the entry of some convoys of provisions and the exit of the old men, the women, the children, in fact, the poorest and weakest part of the population. “Paris must not be a cemetery,” he said; “I do not wish to reign over the dead.” “A true king,” says De Thou, “more anxious for the preservation of his kingdom than greedy of conquest, and making no distinction between his own interests and the interests of his people.” Two famous Protestants, Ambrose Pare and Bernard Palissy, preserved, one by his surgical and the other by his artistic genius, from the popular fury, were still living at that time in Paris, both eighty years of age, and both pleading for the liberty of their creed and for peace. “Monseigneur,” said Ambrose Pare one day to the Archbishop of Lyons, whom he met at one end of the bridge of St. Michael, “this poor people that you see here around you is dying of sheer hunger-madness, and demands your compassion. For God’s sake show them some, as you would have God’s shown to you. Think a little on the office to which God hath called you. Give us peace or give us wherewithal to live, for the poor folks can hold out no more.” The Italian Danigarola himself, Bishop of Asti and attache to the embassy of Cardinal Gaetani, having publicly said that peace was necessary, was threatened by the Sixteen with being sewn up in a sack and thrown into the river if he did not alter his tone. Not peace, but a cessation of the investment of Paris, was brought about, on the 23d of August, 1590, by Duke Alexander of Parma, who, in accordance with express orders from Philip II., went from the Low Countries, with his army, to join Mayenne at Meaux and threaten Henry IV. with their united forces if he did not retire from the walls of the capital.

Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma——32

Henry IV. offered the two dukes battle, if they really wished to put a stop to the investment; but “I am not come so far,” answered the Duke of Parma, “to take counsel of my enemy; if my manner of warfare does not please the King of Navarre, let him force me to change it, instead of giving me advice that nobody asks him for.” Henry in vain attempted to make the Duke of Parma accept battle. The able Italian established himself in a strongly intrenched camp, surprised Lagny, and opened to Paris the navigation of the Marne, by which provisions were speedily brought up. Henry decided upon retreating; he dispersed the different divisions of his army into Touraine, Normandy, Picardy, Champagne, Burgundy, and himself took up his quarters at Senlis, at Compiegne, in the towns on the banks of the Oise. The Duke of Mayenne arrived on the 18th of September at Paris; the Duke of Parma entered it himself with a few officers, and left it on the 13th of November with his army on his way back to the Low Countries, being a little harassed in his retreat by the royal cavalry, but easy, for the moment, as to the fate of Paris and the issue of the war, which continued during the first six months of the year 1591, but languidly and disconnectedly, with successes and reverses see-sawing between the two parties and without any important results.

Then began to appear the consequences of the victory of Ivry and the progress made by Henry IV., in spite of the check he received before Paris and at some other points in the kingdom. Not only did many moderate Catholics make advances to him, struck with his sympathetic ability and his valor, and hoping that he would end by becoming a Catholic, but patriotic wrath was kindling in France against Philip II. and the Spaniards, those fomenters of civil war in the mere interest of foreign ambition. We quoted but lately the words used by the governor of Dieppe, Aymar de Chastes, when he said to Villars, governor of Rouen, who pressed him to enter the League, “You will yourself find out that the Spaniard is the real head of this League.” On the 5th of August, 1590, during the investment of Paris, a placard was pasted all over the city. “Poor Parisians,” it said, “I deplore your misery, and I feel even greater pity towards you for being still such simpletons. See you not that this son of perdition of a Spanish ambassador [Bernard de Mendoza], who had our good king murdered, is making game of you, cramming you so with pap that he would fain have had you burst before now in order to lay hands on your goods and on France if he could? He alone prevents peace and the repose of desolated France, as well as the reconciliation of the king and the princes in real amity. Why are ye so tardy to cast him in a sack down stream, that he may return the sooner to Spain?” On the 6th of August, there was found written with charcoal, on the gate of St. Anthony, the following eight lines:—

               “Some folks, for Holy League bear more
               Than the prodigal son in the Bible bore;
               For he, together with his swine,
               On bean, and root, and husk would dine;
               Whilst they, unable to procure
               Such dainty morsels, must endure
               Between their skinny lips to pass
               Offal and tripe of horse or ass.”

“These,” said a Latin inscription on the awnings of the butchers’ shops, “are the rewards of those who expose their lives for Philip” [Haec sunt munera pro iis qui vitam pro Philippo proferunt: Memoires de L’Estoile, t. ii. pp. 73, 74]. In 1591 these public sentiments, reproduced and dilated upon in numerous pamphlets, imported dissension into the heart of the League itself, which split up into two parties, the Spanish League and the French League. The Committee of Sixteen labored incessantly for the formation and triumph of the Spanish League; and its principal leaders wrote, on the 2d of September, 1591, a letter to Philip II., offering him the crown of France, and pledging their allegiance to him as his subjects. “We can positively assure your Majesty,” they said, “that the wishes of all Catholics are to see your Catholic Majesty holding the sceptre of this kingdom and reigning over us, even as we do throw ourselves right willingly into your arms as into those of our father, or at any rate establishing one of your posterity upon the throne.” These ringleaders of the Spanish League had for their army the blindly fanatical and demagogic populace of Paris, and were, further, supported by four thousand Spanish troops whom Philip II. had succeeded in getting almost surreptitiously into Paris. They created a council of ten, the sixteenth century’s committee of public safety; they proscribed the policists; they, on the 15th of November, had the president, Brisson, and two councillors of the Leaguer Parliament arrested, hanged them to a beam and dragged the corpses to the Place de Grove, where they strung them up to a gibbet with inscriptions setting forth that they were heretics, traitors to the city and enemies of the Catholic princes. Whilst the Spanish League was thus reigning at Paris, the Duke of Mayenne was at Laon, preparing to lead his army, consisting partly of Spaniards, to the relief of Rouen, the siege of which Henry IV. was commencing. Being summoned to Paris by messengers who succeeded one another every hour, he arrived there on the 28th of November, 1591, with two thousand French troops; he armed the guard of Burgesses, seized and hanged, in a ground-floor room of the Louvre, four of the chief leaders of the Sixteen, suppressed their committee, re-established the Parliament in full authority, and, finally, restored the security and preponderance of the French League, whilst taking the reins once more into his own hands. But the French League before long found itself, in its turn, placed in a situation quite as embarrassing, if not so provocative of odium, as that in which the Spanish League had lately been; for it had become itself the tool of personal and unlawful ambition. The Lorraine princes, it is true, were less foreign to France than the King of Spain was; they had even rendered her eminent service; but they had no right to the crown. Mayenne had opposed to him the native and lawful heir to the throne, already recognized and invested with the kingly power by a large portion of France, and quite capable of disputing his kingship with the ablest competitors. By himself and with his own party alone, Mayenne was not in a position to maintain such a struggle; in order to have any chance he must have recourse to the prince whose partisans he had just overthrown and chastised.

Charles de Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne——35

On the 11th of November, 1591, Henry IV. had laid siege to Rouen with a strong force, and was pushing the operations on vigorously. In order to obtain the troops and money without which he could not relieve this important place, the leader of the French League treated humbly with the patron of the Spanish League. “In the conferences held at La Fere and at Lihom-Saintot, between the 10th and the 18th of January, 1592,” says M. Poirson, “the Duke of Parma, acting for the King of Spain, and Mayenne drew up conventions which only awaited the ratification of Philip II. to be converted into a treaty. Mayenne was to receive four millions of crowns a year and a Spanish army, which together would enable him to oppose Henry IV. He had, besides, a promise of a large establishment for himself, his relatives, and the chiefs of his party. In exchange, he promised, in his own name and that of the princes of his house and the great lords of the League, that Philip II.‘s daughter, the Infanta Isabella (Clara Eugenia), should be recognized as sovereign and proprietress of the throne of France, and that the states-general, convoked for that purpose, should proclaim her right and confer upon her the throne. It is true,” adds M. Poirson, “that Mayenne stipulated that the Infanta should take a husband, within the year, at the suggestion of the councillors and great officers of the crown, that the kingdom should be preserved in its entirety, and that its laws and customs should be maintained. . . . It even appears certain that Mayenne purposed not to keep any of these promises, and to emend his infamy by a breach of faith. . . . But a conviction generally prevailed that he recognized the rights of the Infanta, and that he would labor to place her on the throne. The lords of his own party believed it; the legate reported it everywhere; the royal party regarded it as certain. During the whole course of the year 1592, this opinion gave the most disastrous assistance to the intrigues and ascendency of Philip II., and added immeasurably to the public dangers.” [Poirson, Histoire du Regne d’Henri IV., t. i. pp. 304-306.]

Whilst these two Leagues, one Spanish and the other French, were conspiring thus persistently, sometimes together and sometimes one against the other, to promote personal ambition and interests, at the same time national instinct, respect for traditional rights, weariness of civil war, and the good sense which is born of long experience, were bringing France more and more over to the cause and name of Henry IV. In all the provinces, throughout all ranks of society, the population non-enrolled amongst the factions were turning their eyes towards him as the only means of putting an end to war at home and abroad, the only pledge of national unity, public prosperity, and even freedom of trade, a hazy idea as yet, but even now prevalent in the great ports of France and in Paris. Would Henry turn Catholic? That was the question asked everywhere, amongst Protestants with anxiety, but with keen desire, and not without hope, amongst the mass of the population. The rumor ran that, on this point, negotiations were half opened even in the midst of the League itself, even at the court of Spain, even at Rome, where Pope Clement VIII., a more moderate man than his predecessor, Gregory XIV., “had no desire,” says Sully, “to foment the troubles of France, and still less that the King of Spain should possibly become its undisputed king, rightly judging that this would be laying open to him the road to the monarchy of Christendom, and, consequently, reducing the Roman pontiffs to the position, if it were his good pleasure, of his mere chaplains.” [OEconomies royales, t. ii. p. 106.] Such being the existing state of facts and minds, it was impossible that Henry IV. should not ask himself roundly the same question, and feel that he had no time to lose in answering it.

At the beginning of February, 1593, he sent for Rosny, one evening very late. “And so,” says Rosny, “I found his Majesty in bed, having already wished every one a good night; who, as soon as he saw me come in, ordered a hassock to be brought and me to kneel thereon against his bed, and said to me, ‘My friend, I have sent for you so late for to speak with you about the things that are going on, and to hear your opinions thereon; I confess that I have often found them better than those of many others who make great show of being clever. If you continue to leave me the care of that which concerns you, and yourself to take continual care of my affairs, we shall both of us find it to our welfare. I do not wish to hide any longer that for a long time past I have had my eye upon you in order to employ you personally in my most important affairs, especially in those of my finances, for I hold you to be honest and painstaking. For the present, I wish to speak with you about that large number of persons of all parties, all ranks, and different tempers, who would be delighted to exert themselves for the pacification of the kingdom, especially if I can resolve to make some arrangement as regards religion. I am quite resolved not to hear of any negotiation or treaty, save on these two conditions, that some result may be looked for tending both to the advantage of the people of my kingdom and to the real re-establishment of the kingly authority. I know that it is your custom, whenever I put anything before you, to ask me for time to think well thereon before you are disposed to tell me your opinion; in three or four days I shall send for you to tell me what has occurred to you touching all these fine hopes that many would have me anticipate from their interventions; all of them persons very diverse in temper, purposes, interests, functions, and religion.”

“Whereupon,” says Rosny, “the king having dismissed me with a good evening, he did not fail to send for me again three days afterwards, in order that I should go and see him again in bed, near the which having made me kneel as before, he said, ‘Come, now, tell me this moment, and quite at leisurely length, all your foolish fancies, for so you have always called the best counsels you have ever given me, touching the questions I put to you the other evening. I am ready to listen to you right on to the end, without interrupting you.’”

“Sir,” said Rosny, “I have reflected not only on what your Majesty was pleased to tell me three days ago, but also on what I have been able to learn, as to the same affairs, from divers persons of all qualities and religions, and even women who have talked to me in order to make me talk, and to see if I knew any particulars of your private intentions. . . . As it seems to me, sir, all these goings, comings, writings, letters, journeys, interventions, parleys, and conferences cannot be better compared than to that swarming of attorneys at the courts, who take a thousand turns and walks about the great hall, under pretence of settling cases, and all the while it is they who give them birth, and would be very sorry for a single one to die off. In the next place, not a single one of them troubles himself about right or wrong, provided that the crowns are forthcoming, and that, by dint of lustily shouting, they are reputed eloquent, learned, and well stocked with inventions and subtleties. Consequently, sir, without troubling yourself further with these treaty-mongers and negotiators, who do nothing but lure you, bore you, perplex your mind, and fill with doubts and scruples the minds of your subjects, I opine, in a few words, that you must still for some time exercise great address, patience, and prudence, in order that there may be engendered amongst all this mass of confusion, anarchy, and chimera, that they call the holy catholic union, so many and such opposite desires, jealousies, pretensions, hatreds, longings, and designs, that, at last, all the French there are amongst them must come and throw themselves into your arms, bit by bit, recognize your kingship alone as possible, and look to nothing but it for protection, prop, or stay. Nevertheless, sir, that your Majesty may not regard me as a spirit of contradiction for having found nothing good in all these proposals made to you by these great negotiators, I will add to my suggestions just one thing; if a bit of Catholicism were quite agreeable to you, if it were properly embraced and accepted accordingly, in honorable and suitable form, it would be of great service, might serve as cement between you and all your Catholic subjects; and it would even facilitate your other great and magnificent designs whereof you have sometimes spoken to me. Touching this, I would say more to you about it if I were of such profession as permitted me to do so with a good conscience; I content myself, as it is, with leaving yours to do its work within you on so ticklish and so delicate a subject.”

“I quite understand your opinions,” said the king; “they resolve themselves almost into one single point: I must not allow the establishment of any association or show of government having the least appearance of being able to subsist, by itself or by its members, in any part of my kingdom, or suffer dismemberment in respect of any one of the royal prerogatives, as regards things spiritual as well as temporal. Such is my full determination.”

“I answered the king,” continues Rosny, “that I was rejoiced to see him taking so intelligent a view of his affairs, and that, for the present, I had no advice to give him but to seek repose of body and mind, and to permit me likewise to seek the same for myself, for I was dead sleepy, not having slept for two nights; and so, without a word more, the king gave me good night, and, as for me, I went back to my quarters.”

A few days before this conversation between the king and his friend Rosny, on the 26th of January, 1593, the states-general of the League had met in the great hall of the Louvre, present the Duke of Mayenne, surrounded by all the pomp of royalty, but so nervous that his speech in opening the session was hardly audible, and that he frequently changed color during its delivery. On leaving, his wife told him that she was afraid he was not well, as she had seen him turn pale three or four times. A hundred and twenty-eight deputies had been elected; only fifty were present at this first meeting. They adjourned to the 4th of February. In the interval, on the 28th of January, there had arrived, also, a royalist trumpeter, bringing, “on behalf of the princes, prelates, officers of the crown, and principal lords of the Catholic faith, who were with the King of Navarre, an offer of a conference between the two parties, for to lay down the basis of a peace eagerly desired.” On hearing this message, Cardinal Pelleve, Archbishop of Sens, one of the most fiery prelates of the League, said, “that he was of opinion that the trumpeter should be whipped, to teach him not to undertake such silly errands for the future;” “an opinion,” said somebody, “quite worthy of a thick head like his, wherein there is but little sense.”

The states-general of the League were of a different opinion. After long and lively discussion, the three orders decided, each separately, on the 25th of February, to consent to the conference demanded by the friends of the King of Navarre. On the 4th of February, when they resumed session, Cardinal Philip de Sega, Bishop of Placencia (in Spain) and legate of Pope Clement VIII., had requested to be present at the deliberation of the assembly, but his request was refused; the states confined themselves to receiving his benediction and hearing him deliver an address.

The different fate of these two proposals was a clear indication of the feelings of the assembly; they were very diverse in the three orders which constituted it; almost all the clergy, prelates, and popular preachers were devoted to the Spanish League; the noblesse were not at all numerous at these states. “The most brilliant and most active members of it,” says M. Picot correctly, “had ranged themselves behind Henry IV.; and it covered itself with eternal honor by having been the first to discern where to look for the hopes and the salvation of France.” The third estate was very much divided; it contained the fanatical Leaguers, at the service of Philip II. and the court of Rome, the partisans, much more numerous, of the French League, who desired peace, and were ready to accept Henry IV., provided that he turned Catholic, and a small band of political spirits, more powerful in talent than number.

Regularly as the deputies arrived, Mayenne went to each of them, saying privately, “Gentlemen, you see what the question is; it is the very chiefest of all matters (res maxima rerum agitur). I beg you to give your best attention to it, and to so act that the adversaries steal no march on us and get no advantage over us. Nevertheless, I mean to abide by what I have promised them.” Mayenne was quite right: it was certainly the chiefest of all matters. The head of the Protestants of France, the ally of all the Protestants in Europe—should he become a Catholic and King of France? The temporal head of Catholic Europe, the King of Spain —should he abolish the Salic law in France, by placing upon it his daughter as queen, and dismember France to his own profit and that of the leaders of the League, his hirelings rather than his allies? Or, peradventure, should one of these Leaguer-chiefs be he who should take the crown of France, and found a new dynasty there? And which of these Leaguer-chiefs should attain this good fortune? A half-German or a true Frenchman? A Lorraine prince or a Bourbon? And, if a Lorraine prince, which? The Duke of Mayenne, military head of the League, or his uterine brother, the Duke of Nemours, or his nephew the young Duke of Guise, son of the Balafre? All these questions were mooted, all these pretensions were on the cards, all these combinations had their special intrigue. And in the competition upon which they entered with one another, at the same time that they were incessantly laying traps for one another, they kept up towards one another, because of the uncertainty of their chances, a deceptive course of conduct often amounting to acts of downright treachery committed without scruple, in order to preserve for themselves a place and share in the unknown future towards which they were moving. It was in order to have his opinion upon a position so dark and complicated, and upon the behavior it required, that Henry IV., then at Mantes, sent once more for Rosny, and had a second conversation, a few weeks later, with him.

“Well! my friend,” said the king, “what say you about all these plots that are being projected against my conscience, my life, and my kingdom? Since the death of the Duke of Parma [on the 2d of December, 1592, in the Abbey of St. Waast at Arras, from the consequences of a wound received in the preceding April at the siege of Caudebec], it seems that deeds of arms have given place to intrigues and contests of words. I fancy that such gentry will never leave me at rest, and will at last, perhaps, attempt my liberty and my life. I beg you to tell me your opinion freely, and what remedies, short of cruelty and violence, I might now employ to get rid of all these hinderances and cabals (monopoles) that are going on against the rights which have come to me by the will of God, by birth, and by the laws of the realm.”

“Sir,” said Rosny, “I do not fancy that deferments and temporizations, any more than long speeches, would now be seasonable; there are, it seems to me, but two roads to take to deliver yourself from peril, but not from anxiety, for from anxiety kings and princes, the greater they are, can the less secure themselves if they wish to reign successfully. One of the two roads is to accommodate yourself to the desires and wishes of those of whom you feel distrust; the other, to secure the persons of those who are the most powerful, and of the highest rank, and most suspected by you, and put them in such place as will prevent them from doing you hurt; you know them pretty nearly all; there are some of them very rich; you will be able for a long while to carry, on war. As for advising you to go to mass, it is a thing that you ought not, it seems to me, to expect from me, who am of the religion; but frankly will I tell you that it is the readiest and the easiest means of confounding all these cabals (monopoles), and causing all the most mischievous projects to end in smoke.”

The King: “But tell me freely, I beg of you, what you would do if you were in my place.”

Rosny: “I can assure you honestly, sir, that I have never thought about what I should feel bound to do for to be king, it having always seemed to me that I had not a head able or intended to wear a crown. As to your Majesty it is another affair; in you, sir, that desire is not only laudable, but necessary, as it does not appear now this realm can be restored to its greatness, opulence, and splendor but by the sole means of your eminent worth and downright kingly courage. But whatever right you have to the kingdom, and whatever need it has of your courage and worth for its restoration, you will never arrive at complete possession and peaceable enjoyment of this dominion but by two sole expedients and means. In case of the first, which is force and arms, you will have to employ strong measures, severity, rigor, and violence, processes which are all utterly opposed to your temper and inclination: you will have to pass through an infinity of difficulties, fatigues, pains, annoyances, perils, and labors, with a horse perpetually between your legs, harness [halecret, a species of light cuirass] on back, helmet on head, pistol in fist, and sword in hand. And, what is more, you will have to bid adieu to repose, pleasure, pastime, love, mistress, play, hunting, hawking, and building; for you will not get out of such matters but by multiplicity of town-takings, quantity of fights, signal victories, and great bloodshed. By the other road, which is to accommodate yourself, as regards religion, to the wish of the greatest number of your subjects, you will not encounter so many annoyances, pains, and difficulties in this world, but as to the next, I don’t answer for you; it is for your Majesty to take a fixed resolution for yourself, without adopting it from any one else, and less from me than from any other, as you well know that I am of the religion, and that you keep me by you not as a theologian and councillor of church, but as a man of action and councillor of state, seeing that you have given me that title, and for a long space employed me as such.”

The king burst out laughing, and, sitting up in his bed, said, after scratching his head several times, to Rosny,—

“All you say to me is true; but I see so many thorns on every side that it will go very hard but some of them will prick me full sore. You know well enough that my cousins, the princes of the blood, and ever so many other lords, such as D’Epernon, Longueville, Biron, d’O, and Vitry, are urging me to turn Catholic, or else they will join the League. On the other hand, I know for certain that Messieurs de Turenne, de la Tremoille, and their lot, are laboring daily to have a demand made, if I turn Catholic, on behalf of them of the religion, for an assembly to appoint them a protector and an establishment of councils in the provinces; all things that I could not put up with. But if I had to declare war against them to prevent it, it would be the greatest annoyance and trouble that could ever happen to me: my heart could not bear to do ill to those who have so long run my risks, and have employed their goods and their lives in my defence.”

At these last words, Rosny threw himself upon his knees, with his eyes full of tears, and, kissing the king’s hands, he said, “Sir, I am rejoiced beyond measure to see you so well disposed towards them of the religion. I have always been afraid that, if you came to change your religion, as I see full well that you will have to do, you might be persuaded to hate and maltreat those of us others, of the towns as well as of the noblesse, who will always love you heartily and serve you faithfully. And be assured that the number thereof will be so great that, if there rise up amongst them any avaricious, ambitious, and factious, who would fain do the contrary, these will be constrained by the others to return to their duty. What would, in my opinion, be very necessary, would be to prevail upon the zealous Catholics to change that belief which they are so anxious to have embraced by all the rest, to wit, that they of the religion are all damned. There are certainly, also, some ministers and other obtrusive spirits amongst the Huguenots who would fain persuade us of the same as regards Catholics; for my own part, I believe nothing of the kind; I hold it, on the contrary, as indisputable that, of whatever religion men make outward profession, if they die keeping the Decalogue and believing in the Creed (Apostles’), if they love God with all their heart and are charitable towards their neighbor, if they put their hopes in God’s mercy and in obtaining salvation by the death, merits, and justice of Jesus Christ, they cannot fail to be saved, because they are then no longer of any erroneous religion, but of that which is most agreeable to God. If you were pleased to embrace it and put it in practice all the days of your life, not only should I have no doubt of your salvation, but I should remain quite assured that, not regarding us as execrable and damned, you would never proceed to the destruction or persecution of those of our religion who shall love you truly and serve you faithfully. From all such reflections and discourse I conclude that it will be impossible for you ever to reign in peace so long as you make outward profession of a religion which is held in such great aversion by the majority of both great and small in your kingdom, and that you cannot hope to raise it to such general splendor, wealth, and happiness as I have observed you often projecting. Still less could you flatter yourself with the idea of ever arriving at the accomplishment of your lofty and magnificent designs for the establishment of a universal most Christian republic, composed of all the kings and potentates of Europe who profess the name of Christ; for, in order to bring about so great a blessing, you must needs have tranquil possession of a great, rich, opulent, and populous kingdom, and be in a condition to enter into great and trustworthy foreign associations.” [OEconomies royales, or Memoires de Sully, t. ii. pp. 81-100.] One is inclined to believe that, even before their conversations, Henry IV. was very near being of Rosny’s opinion; but it is a long stride from an opinion to a resolution. In spite of the breadth and independence of his mind, Henry IV. was sincerely puzzled. He was of those who, far from clinging to a single fact and confining themselves to a single duty, take account of the complication of the facts amidst which they live, and of the variety of the duties which the general situation or their own imposes upon them. Born in the Reformed faith, and on the steps of the throne, he was struggling to defend his political rights whilst keeping his religious creed; but his religious creed was not the fruit of very mature or very deep conviction; it was a question of first claims and of honor rather than a matter of conscience; and, on the other hand, the peace of France, her prosperity, perhaps her territorial integrity, were dependent upon the triumph of the political rights of the Bearnese. Even for his brethren in creed his triumph was a benefit secured, for it was an end of persecution and a first step towards liberty. There is no measuring accurately how far ambition, personal interest, a king’s egotism, had to do with Henry’s IV.‘s abjuration of his religion; none would deny that those human infirmities were present; but all this does not prevent the conviction that patriotism was uppermost in Henry’s soul, and that the idea of his duty as king towards France, a prey to all the evils of civil and foreign war, was the determining motive of his resolution. It cost him a great deal. To the Huguenot gentry and peasantry who had fought with him he said, “You desire peace; I give it you at my own expense; I have made myself anathema for the sake of all, like Moses and St. Paul.” He received with affectionate sadness the Reformed ministers and preachers who came to see him. “Kindly pray to God for me,” said he to them, “and love me always; as for me, I shall always love you, and I will never suffer wrong to be done to you, or any violence to your religion.” He had already, at this time, the Edict of Nantes in his mind, and he let a glimpse of it appear to Rosny at their first conversation. When he discussed with the Catholic prelates the conditions of his abjuration, he had those withdrawn which would have been too great a shock to his personal feelings and shackled his con duct tod much in the government, as would have been the case with the promise to labor for the destruction of heresy. Even as regarded the Catholic faith, he demand of the doctors who were preparing him for it some latitude for his own thoughts, and “that he should not have such violence done to his conscience as to be bound to strange oaths, and to sign and believe rubbish which he was quite sure that the majority of them did not believe.” [Memoires de L’Estoile, t. ii. p. 472.] The most passionate Protestants of his own time reproached him, and some still reproach him, with having deserted his creed and having repaid with ingratitude his most devoted comrades in arms and brothers in Christ. Perhaps there is some ingratitude also in forgetting that after four years of struggling to obtain the mastery for his religious creed and his political rights simultaneously, Henry IV., convinced that he could not succeed in that, put a stop to religious wars, and founded, to last for eighty-seven years, the free and lawful practice of the Reformed worship in France, by virtue of the Edict of Nantes, which will be spoken of presently.

Whilst this great question was thus discussed and decided between Henry IV. in person and his principal advisers, the states-general of the League and the conference of Suresnes were vainly bestirring themselves in the attempt to still keep the mastery of events which were slipping away from them. The Leaguer states had an appearance of continuing to wish for the absolute proscription of Henry IV., a heretic king, even on conversion to Catholicism, so long as his conversion was not recognized and accepted by the pope; but there was already great, though timidly expressed, dissent as to this point in the assembly of the states and amongst the population in the midst of which it was living. Nearly a year previously, in May, 1592, when he retired from France after having relieved Rouen from siege and taken Caudebec, the Duke of Parma, as clear-sighted a politician as he was able soldier, had said to one of the most determined Leaguers, “Your people have abated their fury; the rest hold on but faintly, and in a short time they will have nothing to do with us.” Philip II. and Mayenne perceived before long the urgency and the peril of this situation: they exerted themselves, at one time in concert and at another independently, to make head against this change in the current of thoughts and facts. Philip sent to Paris an ambassador extraordinary, the Duke of Feria, to treat with the states of the League and come to an understanding with Mayenne; but Mayenne considered that the Duke of Feria did not bring enough money, and did not introduce enough soldiers; the Spanish army in France numbered but four thousand three hundred men, and Philip had put at his ambassador’s disposal but two hundred thousand crowns, or six hundred thousand livres of those times; yet had he ordered that, in respect of the assembly, the pay should not come until after the service was rendered, i.e. after a vote was given in favor of his election or that of his daughter the Infanta Isabella to the throne. It was not the states-general only who had to be won over; the preachers of the League were also, at any rate the majority of them, covetous as well as fiery; both the former and the latter soon saw that the Duke of Feria had not wherewith to satisfy them. “And such as had come,” says Villeroi, “with a disposition to favor the Spaniards and serve them for a consideration, despised them and spoke ill of them, seeing that there was nothing to be gained from them.” The artifices of Mayenne were scarcely more successful than the stingy presents of Philip II.; when the Lorrainer duke saw the chances of Spain in the ascendant as regarded the election of a King of France and the marriage of the Infanta Isabella, he at once set to work—and succeeded without much difficulty—to make them a failure; at bottom, it was always for the house of Lorraine, whether for the marriage of his nephew the Duke of Guise with the Infanta Isabella or for the prolongation of his power, that Mayenne labored; he sometimes managed to excite, for the promotion of this cause, a favorable movement amongst the states-general or a blast of wrath on the part of the preachers against Henry IV.; but it was nothing but a transitory and fruitless effort; the wind no longer sat in the sails of the League; on the 27th of May, 1593, a deputation of a hundred and twenty burgesses, with the provost of tradesmen at their head, repaired to the house of Count de Belin, governor of Paris, begging him to introduce them into the presence of the Duke of Mayenne, to whom they wished to make a demand for peace, and saying that their request would, at need, be signed by ten thousand burgesses. Next day, two colonels of the burgess-militia spoke of making barricades; four days afterwards, some of the most famous and but lately most popular preachers of the League were hooted and insulted by the people, who shouted at them as they passed in the streets that drowning was the due of all those deputies in the states who prevented peace from being made. The conference assembled at Suresnes, of which mention has already been made, had been formed with pacific intentions, or, at any rate, hopes; accordingly it was more tranquil than the states-general, but it was not a whit more efficacious. It was composed of thirteen delegates for the League and eight for the king, men of consideration in the two parties. At the opening of its sessions, the first time the delegates of the League repaired thither, a great crowd shouted at them, “Peace! Peace! Blessed be they who procure it and demand it! Malediction and every devil take all else!” In the villages they passed through, the peasantry threw themselves upon their knees, and, with clasped hands, demanded of them peace. The conference was in session from the 4th of May to the 11th of June, holding many discussions, always temperately and with due regard for propriety, but without arriving at any precise solution of the questions proposed. Clearly neither to this conference nor to the states-general of the League was it given to put an end to this stormy and at the same time resultless state of things; Henry IV. alone could take the resolution and determine the issue which everybody was awaiting with wistfulness or with dread, but without being able to accomplish it. D’Aubigne ends his account of the conference at Suresnes with these words: “Those who were present at it reported to the king that there were amongst the Leaguers so many heart-burnings and so much confusion that they were all seeking, individually if not collectively, some pretext for surrendering to the king, and consequently, that one mass would settle it entirely.” [Histoire Universelle, bk. iii. chap. xx. p. 386.]

Powers that are conscious of their opportuneness and utility do not like to lose time, but are prompt to act. Shortly after his conversations with Rosny, whose opinion was confirmed by that of Chancellor de Chiverny and Count Gaspard de Schomberg, Henry IV. set to work. On the 26th of April, 1593, he wrote to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand de’ Medici, that he had decided to turn Catholic “two months after that the Duke of Mayenne should have come to an agreement with him on just and suitable terms;” and, foreseeing the expense that would be occasioned to him by “this great change in his affairs,” he felicitated himself upon knowing that the grand duke was disposed to second his efforts towards a levy of four thousand Swiss, and advance a year’s pay for them. On the 28th of April, he begged the Bishop of Chartres, Nicholas de Thou, to be one of the Catholic prelates whose instructions he would be happy to receive on the 15th of July, and he sent the same invitation to several other prelates. On the 16th of May, he declared to his council his resolve to become a convert. Next day, the 17th, the Archbishop of Bourges announced it to the conference at Suresnes. This news, everywhere spread abroad, produced a lively burst of national and Bourbonic feeling even where it was scarcely to be expected; at the states-general of the League, especially in the chamber of the noblesse, many members protested “that they would not treat with foreigners, or promote the election of a woman, or give their suffrages to any one unknown to them, and at the choice of his Catholic Majesty of Spain.” At Paris, a part of the clergy, the incumbents of St. Eustache, St. Merri, and St. Sulpice, and even some of the popular preachers, violent Leaguers but lately, and notably Guincestre, boldly preached peace and submission to the king if he turned Catholic. The principal of the French League, in matters of policy and negotiation, and Mayenne’s adviser since 1589, Villeroi, declared “that he would not bide in a place where the laws, the honor of the nation, and the independence of the kingdom were held so cheap;” and he left Paris on the 28th of June. Finally, on this same day, the Parliament of Paris, all chambers assembled, issued a decree known by the name of the decree of President Lemaitre, who had the chief hand in it, and conceived as follows:—

“The court, having, as it has always had, no intention but to maintain the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion, and the state and crown of France, under the protection of a most Christian, Catholic, and French king, hath ordained and doth ordain that representations shall be made, this afternoon, by President Lemaitre, assisted by a proper number of councillors of the said court, to the Duke of Mayenne, lieutenant-general of the state and crown of France, to the end that no treaty be made for the transfer of the crown to the hands of foreign princes or princesses, and that the fundamental laws of the realm be observed. . . . And from the present moment, the said court hath declared and doth declare all treaties made or hereafter to be made for the setting up of foreign prince or princess null and of no effect or value, as being made to the prejudice of the Salic law and other fundamental laws of this realm.”

It was understood that this decree excluded from the crown of France not only Philip II., the Infanta Isabella, Archduke Ernest, and all the Spanish and Austrian princes, but also all the princes of the house of Guise, “because the qualification of foreigners applied to all the princes who were not of the blood royal and who were issue of foreign houses, even though they might have been born in France and were regnicoles.”

Mayenne refused, it is not known on what pretext, to receive the communication of this decree on the same day on which it was voted by the Parliament. When President Lemaitre presented it to him the next day before a large attendance, Mayenne kept his temper, and confined himself to replying gruffly, “My first care has always been to defend the Catholic religion and maintain the laws of the realm. It seems now that I am no longer necessary to the state, and that it will be easy to do without me. I could have wished, considering my position, that the Parliament had not decided anything in a matter of such importance without consulting me. However, I will do all that I find possible for me and that appears reasonable as to the two points of your representations.” On the following day, 30th of June, Mayenne was dining with the Archbishop of Lyons, Peter d’Espinac; President Lemaitre was sent for, and the wrath of the lieutenant-general burst forth. “The insult put upon me is too palpable for me to be quiet under it; since I am played fast and loose with in that way, I have resolved to quash the decree of the Parliament. The Archbishop of Lyons is about to explain to you my feelings and my motives.”

Lemaitre, Mayenne, and the Archbishop of Lyons——53

The archbishop spoke long and bitterly, dwelling upon the expression that “the Parliament had played fast and loose” with the prince. President Lemaitre interrupted him. “I cannot unmoved hear you repeating, sir, that to which my respect made me shut my eyes when the prince spoke. Looking upon me as an individual, you might speak to me in any way, you thought proper; but so soon as the body I represent here is injured by insulting terms, I take offence, and I cannot suffer it. Know then, sir, that the Parliament does not deceive or play fast and loose with anybody, and that it renders to every man his due.” The conversation was continued for some moments in this warm and serious tone; but the quarrel went no further; from the account they received of it, the Parliament applauded the premier president’s firmness, and all the members swore that they would suffer anything rather than that there should be any change in the decree. It remained intact, and Mayenne said no more about it.

During these disputes amongst the civil functionaries, and continuing all the while to make proposals for a general truce, Henry IV. vigorously resumed warlike operations, so as to bring pressure upon his adversaries and make them perceive the necessity of accepting the solution he offered them. He besieged and took the town of Dreux, of which the castle alone persisted in holding out. He cut off the provisions which were being brought by the Marne to Paris. He kept Poitiers strictly invested. Lesdiguieres defeated the Savoyards and the Spaniards in the valleys of Dauphiny and Piedmont. Count Mansfeld was advancing with a division towards Picardy; but at the news that the king was marching to encounter him, he retired with precipitation. From the military as well as the political point of view, there is no condition worse than that of stubbornness mingled with discouragement. And that was the state of Mayenne and the League. Henry IV. perceived it, and confidently hurried forward his political and military measures. The castle of Dreux was obliged to capitulate. Thanks to the four thousand Swiss paid for him by the Grand Duke of Florence, to the numerous volunteers brought to him by the noblesse of his party, “and to the sterling quality of the old Huguenot phalanx, folks who, from father to son, are familiarized with death,” says D’Aubigne, Henry IV. had recovered, in June, 1593, so good an army that “by means of it,” he wrote to Ferdinand de’ Medici, “I shall be able to reduce the city of Paris in so short a time as will cause you great contentment.” But he was too judicious and too good a patriot not to see that it was not by an indefinitely prolonged war that he would be enabled to enter upon definitive possession of his crown, and that it was peace, religious peace, that he must restore to France in order to really become her king. He entered resolutely, on the 15th of July, 1593, upon the employment of the moral means which alone could enable him to attain this end; he assembled at Mantes the conference of prelates and doctors, Catholic and Protestant, which he had announced as the preface to his conversion. He had previously, on the 13th of May, given assurance to the Protestants as to their interests by means of a declaration on the part of eight amongst the principal Catholic lords attached to his person who undertook, “with his Majesty’s authorization, that nothing should be done in the said assemblies to the prejudice of friendly union between the Catholics who recognized his Majesty and them of the religion, or contrary to the edicts of pacification.” On the 21st of July, the prelates and doctors of the conference transferred themselves from Mantes to St. Denis. On Friday, July 23, in the morning, Henry wrote to Gabriel le d’Estrees, “Sunday will be the day when I shall make the summerset that brings down the house” (le, saut perilleux). A few hours after using such flippant language to his favorite, he was having a long conference with the prelates and doctors, putting to them the gravest questions about the religion he was just embracing, asking them for more satisfactory explanations on certain points, and repeating to them the grounds of his resolution. “I am moved with compassion at the misery and calamities of my people; I have discovered what they desire; and I wish to be enabled, with a safe conscience, to content them.” At the end of the conference, “Gentlemen,” he said, “I this day commit my soul to your keeping; I pray you, take heed to it, for, wheresoever you are causing me to enter, I shall never more depart till death; that I swear and protest to you;” and, in a voice of deep emotion, his eyes dim with tears, “I desire no further delay; I wish to be received on Sunday and go to mass; draw up the profession of faith you think I ought to make, and bring it to me this evening;” when the Archbishop of Bourges and the Bishops of Le Mans and Evreux brought it to him on the Saturday morning, he discussed it apart with them, demanding the cutting out of some parts which struck too directly at his previous creed and life; and Chancellor de Chiverny and two presidents of the Parliament, Harlay and Groulart, used their intervention to have him satisfied. The profession of faith was modified. Next day, Sunday, the 25th of July, before he got up, Henry conversed with the Protestant minister Anthony de la Faye, and embraced him two or three times, repeating to him the words already quoted, “I have made myself anathema for the sake of all, like Moses and St. Paul.” A painful mixture of the frivolous and the serious, of sincerity and captious reservations, of resolution and weakness, at which nobody has any right to be shocked who is not determined to be pitiless towards human nature, and to make no allowance in the case of the best men for complication of the facts, ideas, sentiments, and duties, under the influence of which they are often obliged to decide and to act.

Henry IV.‘s Abjuration——56

On Sunday the 25th of July, 1593, Henry IV. repaired in great state to the church of St. Denis. On arriving with all his train in front of the grand entrance, he was received by Reginald de Beaune, Archbishop of Bourges, the nine bishops, the doctors and the incumbents who had taken part in the conferences, and all the brethren of the abbey. “Who are you?” asked the archbishop who officiated. “The king.” “What want you?” “To be received into the bosom of the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church.” “Do you desire it?” “Yes, I will and desire it.” At these words the king knelt and made the stipulated profession of faith. The archbishop gave him absolution together with benediction; and, conducted by all the clergy to the choir of the church, he there, upon the gospels, repeated his oath, made his confession, heard mass, and was fully reconciled with the church. The inhabitants of Paris, dispensing with the passports which were refused them by Mayenne, had flocked in masses to St. Denis and been present at the ceremony. The vaulted roof of the church resounded with their shouts of Hurrah for the king! There was the same welcome on the part of the dwellers in the country when Henry repaired to the valley of Montmorency and to Montmartre to perform his devotions there. Here, then, was religious peace, a prelude to political reconciliation between the monarch and the great majority of his subjects.






HENRY IV., CATHOLIC KING. (1593-1610.)

During the months, weeks, nay, it might be said, days immediately mediately following Henry IV.‘s abjuration, a great number of notable persons and important towns, and almost whole provinces, submitted to the Catholic king. Henry was reaping the fruits of his decision; France was flocking to him. But the general sentiments of a people are far from satisfying and subduing the selfish passions of the parties which have taken form and root in its midst. Religious and political peace responded to and sufficed for the desires of the great majority of Frenchmen, Catholic and Protestant; but it did not at all content the fanatics, Leaguer or Huguenot. The former wanted the complete extirpation of heretics; the latter the complete downfall of Catholicism. Neither these nor those were yet educated up to the higher principle of religious peace, distinction between the civil and the intellectual order, freedom of thought and of faith guaranteed by political liberty. Even at the present day, the community of France, nation and government, all the while that they proclaim this great and salutary truth, do not altogether understand and admit its full bearing. The sixteenth century was completely ignorant of it; Leaguers and Huguenots were equally convinced that they possessed, in the matter of religion, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and that they were in their right to propagate its empire at any price. Thence arose, in respect of religious peace, and of Henry IV., who naturally desired it as the requirement and the wish of France, a great governmental difficulty.

It is honorable to human nature that it never submits freely and sincerely to anything but what it considers not only useful, but essentially true and just; its passions bow to principles only; wherever the higher principle is wanting, there also is wanting the force that compels respect from passion. Now the fanatics, Leaguer and Huguenot, had a fixed principle; with the former, it was the religious sovereignty of the pope, as representative and depositary of the unity of the Christian church; with the others, it was the negation of this sovereignty and the revindication of the free regimen of the primitive Christian church. To these fixed and peremptory principles the government of Henry IV. had nothing similar to oppose; it spoke in the name of social interests, of the public peace, and of mutual toleration; all excellent reasons, but with merits consisting in their practical soundness, not in their logical connection with the superior principle to which the sixteenth century had not yet attained. It was all very well for Henry IV. to maintain the cause and to have the support of the great majority in France; but outside of this majority he was incessantly encountering and incessantly having to put down or to humor two parties, or rather factions, full of discontent and as irreconcilable with him as among themselves, for it was not peace and tolerance that they demanded of him, but victory and supremacy in the name of absolute right.

This, then, was the scene; on one side a great majority of Catholics and Protestants favorable for different practical reasons to Henry IV. turned Catholic king; on the other, two minorities, one of stubborn Catholics of the League, the other of Protestants anxious for their creed and their liberty; both discontented and distrustful. Such, after Henry IV.‘s abjuration, was the striking feature in the condition of France and in the situation of her king. This triple fact was constantly present to the mind of Henry IV., and ruled his conduct during all his reign; all the acts of his government are proof of that.

His first embarrassments arose from the faction of Catholics to the backbone. After his abjuration just as much as at his accession, the League continued to exist and to act against him. The legate, Gaetani, maintained that the bishops of France had no right, without the pope’s approval, to give an excommunicated prince absolution; he opposed the three months’ truce concluded by Mayenne, and threatened to take his departure for Rome. Mayenne, to appease him and detain him, renewed the alliance between the League and Spain, prevailed upon the princes and marshals to renew also the oath of union, caused the states-general of the League to vote the adoption of the Council of Trent, and, on proroguing them, August 8, 1593, received from them a promise to return at the expiration of the truce. For the members of that assembly it was not a burdensome engagement; independently of the compensation they had from their provinces, which was ten livres (thirty-six francs, sixty centimes) a day during each session, they received from the King of Spain a regular retainer, which raised it, for the five months from June to October, to seventy-two thousand one hundred and forty-four francs, which they divided between themselves. “It was presumed,” said Jehan l’Huillier, provost of tradesmen, to one of his colleagues who was pressing him to claim this payment from the ambassador of Spain, “that the money came from M. de Mayenne, not from foreigners;” but honest people, such as Du Vair and Thielement, did not content themselves with this presumption, and sent to the Hotel-Dieu, for maintenance of the poor, the share which was remitted to them. [Poirson, Histoire du Regne de Henry IV., t. i. p. 463. Picot, Histoire des Etats generaux, t. iii. p. 249.]

The states-general of the League did not appear again; their prorogation was their death. The year 1594, which came after them, was for Henry IV. a year of home conquests, some pacific and due to the spontaneous movement of the inhabitants, others obtained after resistance and purchased with gold. The town of Lyons set the example of the first. A rumor spread that the Spaniards were preparing an expedition against it; some burgesses met to consult, and sent a private message to Alphonse d’Ornano, who was conducting the war for the king in Dauphiny, pressing him to move forward, on a day appointed, to the faubourg de la Guillotiere. A small force sent by Ornano arrived, accordingly, on the 7th of February, about daybreak, at the foot of the bridge over the Rhone, in the faubourg, and, after a stubborn resistance, dislodged the outpost on duty there. At sound of the fighting, excitement broke out in the town; and barricades were thrown up, amidst shouts of “Hurrah for French liberty!” without any mention of the king’s name. The archbishop, Peter d’Espignac, a stanch Leaguer, tried to intimidate the burgesses, or at any rate to allay the excitement. As he made no impression, he retired into his palace. The people arrested the sheriffs and seized the arsenal. The king’s name resounded everywhere. “The noise of the cheering was such,” says De Thou, “that there was no hearing the sound of the bells. Everybody assumed the white scarf with so much zeal that by evening there was not a scrap of white silk left at the tradesmen’s. Tables were laid in the streets; the king’s arms were put up on the gates and in the public thoroughfares.” Ornano marched in over the barricades; royalist sheriffs were substituted for the Leaguer sheriffs, and hastened to take the oath of allegiance to the king, who had nothing to do but thank the Lyonnese for having been the first to come over to him without constraint or any exigency, and who confirmed by an edict all their municipal liberties. At the very moment when the Lyonnese were thus springing to the side of their king, there set out from Lyons the first assassin who raised a hand against Henry IV., Peter Parriere, a poor boatman of the Loire, whom an unhappy passion for a girl in the household of Marguerite de Valois and the preachings of fanatics had urged on to this hateful design. Assassin we have called him, although there was not on his part so much as an attempt at assassination; but he had, by his own admission, projected and made preparations for the crime, to the extent of talking it over with accomplices and sharpening the knife he had purchased for its accomplishment. Having been arrested at Melun and taken to Paris, he was sentenced to capital punishment, and to all the tortures that ingenuity could add to it. He owned to everything, whilst cursing those who had assured him that “if he died in the enterprise, his soul, uplifted by angels, would float away to the bosom of God, where he would enjoy eternal bliss.” Moved by his torments and his repentance, the judge who presided at his execution took upon himself to shorten it by having him strangled. The judge was reported to the king for this indulgence. Henry praised him for it, adding that he would have pardoned the criminal if he had been brought before him. Thus commenced, at the opening of his reign, the series of attempts to which he was destined to succumb, after seventeen years of good, able, generous, and mild government.

In Normandy, at Rouen, the royalist success was neither so easy nor so disinterested as it had been at Lyons. Andrew de Brancas, Lord of Villars, an able man and valiant soldier, was its governor; he had served the League with zeal and determination; nevertheless, “from the month of August, 1593, immediately after the king’s conversion, he had shown a disposition to become his servant, and to incline thereto all those whom he had in his power.” [Histoire du Parlement de Normandi, by M. Floquet, t. iii. pp. 611-617.] Henry IV. commissioned Rosny to negotiate with him; and Rosny went into Normandy, to Louviers first and then to Rouen itself. The negotiation seemed to be progressing favorably, but a distrustful whim in regard to Villars, and the lofty pretensions he put forward, made Rosny hang back for a while, and tell the whole story to the king, at the same time asking for his instructions. Henry replied,—

“My friend, you are an ass to employ so much delay and import so many difficulties and manoeuvres into a business the conclusion of which is of so great importance to me for the establishment of my authority and the relief of my people. Do you no longer remember the counsels you have so many times given to me, whilst setting before me as an example that given by a certain Duke of Milan to King Louis XI., at the time of the war called that of the Common Weal? It was to split up by considerations of private interest all those who were leagued against him on general pretexts. That is what I desire to attempt now, far preferring that it should cost twice as much to treat separately with each individual as it would to arrive at the same results by means of a general treaty concluded with a single leader, who, in that way, would be enabled to keep up still an organized party within my dominions. You know plenty of folks who wanted to persuade me to that. Wherefore, do not any longer waste your time in doing either so much of the respectful towards those whom you wot of, and whom we will find other means of contenting, or of the economical by sticking at money. We will pay everything with the very things given up to us, the which, if they had to be taken by force, would cost us ten times as much. Seeing, then, that I put entire trust in you and love you as a good servant, do not hesitate any longer to make absolute and bold use of your power, which I further authorize by this letter, so far as there may be further need for it, and settle as soon as possible with M. de Villars. But secure matters so well that there may be no possibility of a slip, and send me news thereof promptly, for I shall be in constant doubt and impatience until I receive it. And then, when I am peaceably king, we will employ the excellent manoeuvres of which you have said so much to me; and you may rest assured that I will spare no travail and fear no peril in order to raise my glory and my kingdom to the height of splendor. Adieu, my friend. Senlis, this 18th day of March, 1594.”

Amongst the pretensions made by Villars there was one which could not be satisfied without the consent of a man still more considerable than he, and one with whom Henry IV. was obliged to settle—Biron. Villars had received from Mayenne the title and office of admiral of France, and he wished, at any price, to retain them on passing over to the king’s service. Now Henry IV. had already given this office to Biron, who had no idea of allowing himself to be stripped of it. It was all very fine to offer him in exchange the baton of a marshal of France, but he would not be satisfied with it. “It was necessary,” says M. Floquet [Histoire du Parlement de Normandie, t. iii. pp. 613-616], “for the king’s sister (Princess Catherine) to intervene. At last, a promise of one hundred and twenty thousand crowns won Biron over, though against the grain.” But he wanted solid securities. Attention was then turned to the Parliament of Caen, always so ready to do anything and sacrifice anything. Saldaigne d’Incarville, comptroller-general of finance, having been despatched to Caen, went straight to the palace and reported to the Parliament the proposals and conditions of Villers and Biron. “The king,” said he, “not having been able to bring Rouen to reason by process of arms, and being impatient to put some end to these miseries, wishes now to try gentle processes, and treat with those whom he has not yet been able to subdue; but co-operation on the part of the sovereign bodies of the provinces is necessary.” “To that which is for the good of our service is added your private interest,” wrote Henry IV. to the Parliament of Caen; and his messenger D’Incarville added, “I have left matters at Rouen so arranged as to make me hope that before a fortnight is over you will be free to return thither and enter your homes once more.” At the first mention of peace and the prospect of a reconciliation between the royalist Parliament of Caen and the leaguer Parliament of Rouen, the Parliament, the exchequer-chamber, and the court of taxation, agreed to a fresh sacrifice and a last effort. The four presidents of the Parliament lost no time in signing together, and each for all, an engagement to guarantee the hundred and twenty thousand crowns promised to Biron. . . . The members of the body bound themselves all together to guarantee the four presidents, in their turn, in respect of the engagement they were contracting, and a letter was addressed on the spot to Henry IV., “to thank the monarch for his good will and affection, and the honor he was doing the members of his Parliament of Normandy, by making them participators in the means and overtures adopted for arriving at the reduction of the town of Rouen.” [M. Floquet, Histoire du Parlement de Normandi, t. iii. pp. 613-616.]

Here is the information afforded, as regards the capitulation of Villars to Henry IV., by the statement drawn up by Sully himself, of “the amount of all debts on account of all the treaties made for the reduction of districts, towns, places, and persons to obedience unto the king, in order to the pacification of the realm.”

“To M. Villars, for himself, his brother, Chevalier d’Oise, the towns of Rouen and Havre and other places, as well as for compensation which had to be made to MM. de Montpensier, Marshal de Biron, Chancellor de Chiverny, and other persons included in his treaty . . . three millions four hundred and forty-seven thousand eight hundred livres.” [Poirson, Histoire du Regne de Henry IV., t. i. p. 667.]

These details have been entered into without hesitation because it is important to clearly understand by what means, by what assiduous efforts, and at what price Henry IV. managed to win back pacifically many provinces of his kingdom, rally to his government many leaders of note, and finally to confer upon France that territorial and political unity which she lacked under the feudal regimen, and which, in the sixteenth century, the religious wars all but put it beyond her power to acquire. To the two instances just cited of royalist reconciliation—Lyons and the spontaneous example set by her population, and Rouen and the dearly purchased capitulation of her governor Villars—must be added a third, of a different sort. Nicholas de Neufville, Lord of Villeroi, after having served Charles IX. and Henry III., had become, through attachment to the Catholic cause, a member of the League, and one of the Duke of Mayenne’s confidants. When Henry IV. was King of France, and Catholic king, Villeroi tried to serve his cause with Mayenne, and induce Mayenne to be reconciled with him. Meeting with no success, he made up his mind to separate from the League, and go over to the king’s service. He could do so without treachery or shame; even as a Leaguer and a servant of Mayenne’s he had always been opposed to Spain, and devoted to a French, but, at the same time, a faithfully Catholic policy. He imported into the service of Henry IV. the same sentiments and the same bearing; he was still a zealous Catholic, and a partisan, for king and country’s sake, of alliance with Catholic powers. He was a man of wits, experience, and resource, who knew Europe well and had some influence at the court of Rome. Henry IV. saw at once the advantage to be gained from him, and, in spite of the Protestants’ complaints, and his sister Princess Catherine’s prayers, made him, on the 25th of September, 1594, secretary of state for foreign affairs. This acquisition did not cost him so dear as that of Villars: still we read in the statement of sums paid by Henry IV. for this sort of conquest, “Furthermore, to M. de Villeroi, for himself, his son, the town of Pontoise, and other individuals, according to their treaty, four hundred and seventy-six thousand five hundred and ninety-four livres.” It is quite true that this statement was drawn up by Sully, the unwavering supporter of Protestant alliances in Europe, and, as such, Villeroi’s opponent in the council of Henry IV.; but the other contemporary documents confirm Sully’s assertion. Villeroi was a faithful servant to Henry, who well repaid him by stanchness in supporting him against the repeated attacks of violent Reformers. In 1594, when he became minister of foreign affairs, the following verse was in vogue at the Louvre:—

               “The king could never beat the League;
               ‘Twas Villeroi who did the thing;
               So well he managed his intrigue,
               That now the League hath got the king.”

It is quite certain, however, that Henry IV. was never of the opinion expressed in that verse; for, ten years later, in 1604, Villeroi having found himself much compromised by the treachery of a chief clerk in his department, who had given up to the Spanish government some important despatches, the king, though very vexed at this mishap, “the consequences of which rankled in his heart far more than he allowed to appear openly, nevertheless continued to look most kindly on Villeroi, taking the trouble to call upon him, to console and comfort him under this annoyance, and not showing him a suspicion of mistrust because of what had happened, any more than formerly; nay, even less.” [Journal de L’Estoile, t. iii. pp. 85-441.] Never had prince a better or nobler way of employing confidence in his proceedings with his servants, old or new, at the same time that he made clear-sighted and proper distinctions between them.

Henry IV., with his mind full of his new character as a Catholic king, perceived the necessity of getting the pope to confirm the absolution which had been given him, at the time of his conversion, by the French bishops. It was the condition of his credit amongst the numerous Catholic population who were inclined to rally to him, but required to know that he was at peace with the head of their church. He began by sending to Rome non-official agents, instructed to quietly sound the pope, amongst others Arnold d’Ossat, a learned professor in the University of Paris, who became, at a later period, the celebrated cardinal and diplomat of that name. Clement VIII. [Hippolytus Aldobrandini] was a clever man, moderate and prudent to the verge of timidity, and, one who was disinclined to take decisive steps as to difficult questions or positions until after they had been decided by events. He refused to have any communication with him whom he still called the Prince of Bearn, and only received the agents of Henry IV. privately in his closet. But whilst he was personally severe and exacting in his behavior to then, he had a hint given them by one of his confidants not to allow themselves to be rebuffed by any obstacle, for the pope would, sooner or later, welcome back the lost child who returned to him. At this report, and by the advice of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand de’ Medici, Henry IV. determined to send a solemn embassy to Rome, and to put it under the charge of a prince of Italian origin, Peter di Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers. But either through the pope’s stubborn resolve or the ambassador’s somewhat impatient temper, devoted as he was, however, to the Holy See, the embassy had no success. The Duke of Nevers could not obtain an official reception as ambassador of the King of France. It was in vain that he had five confidential audiences of the pope; in vain that he represented energetically to him all the progress Henry IV. had already made, all the chances he had of definitive success, all the perils to which the papacy exposed itself by rejecting his advances; Clement VIII. persisted in his determination. Philip II. and Mayenne still reigned in his ideas, and he dismissed the Duke of Nevers on the 13th of January, 1594, declaring once more that he refused to the Navarrese absolution at the inner bar of conscience, absolution at the outer bar, and confirmation in his kingship.

Henry IV. did not put himself out, did not give himself the pleasure of testifying to Rome his discontent; he saw that he had not as yet sufficiently succeeded—sufficiently vanquished his enemies, or won to himself his kingdom with sufficient completeness and definitiveness—to make the pope feel bound to recognize and sanction his triumph. He set himself once more to work to grow still greater in France, and force the gates of Rome without its being possible to reproach him with violence or ill temper.

He had been absolved and crowned at St. Denis by the bishops of France; he had not been anointed at Rheims, according to the religious traditions of the French monarchy. At Rheims he could not be; for it was still in the power of the League. Researches were made, to discover whether the ceremony of anointment might take place elsewhere; numerous instances were found, and in the case of famous kings: Pepin the Short had been anointed first of all at Mayence, Charlemagne and Louis the Debonnair at Rome, Charles the Bald at Mayence, several emperors at Aix-la-Chapelle and at Cologne. The question of the holy phial (ampoule) was also discussed; and it was proved that on several occasions other oils, held to be of miraculous origin, had been employed instead. These difficulties thus removed, the anointment of Henry IV. took place at Chartres on the 27th of February, 1594; the Bishop of Chartres, Nicholas de Thou, officiated, and drew up a detailed account of all the ceremonies and all the rejoicings; thirteen medals, each weighing fifteen gold crowns, were struck, according to custom; they bore the king’s image, and for legend, Invia virtuti nulla est via (To manly worth no road is inaccessible). Henry IV., on his knees before the grand altar, took the usual oath, the form of which was presented to him by Chancellor de Chiverny. With the exception of local accessories, which were acknowledged to be impossible and unnecessary, there was nothing wanting to this religious hallowing of his kingship.

But one other thing, more important than the anointment at Chartres, was wanting. He did not possess the capital of his kingdom the League were still masters of Paris. Uneasy masters of their situation; but not so uneasy, however, as they ought to have been. The great leaders of the party, the Duke of Mayenne, his mother the Duchess of Nemours, his sister the Duchess of Montpensier, and the Duke of Feria, Spanish ambassador, were within its walls, a prey to alarm and discouragement. “At breakfast,” said the Duchess of Montpensier, “they regale us with the surrender of a hamlet, at dinner of a town, at supper of a whole province.” The Duchess of Nemours, who desired peace, exerted herself to convince her son of all their danger. “Set your affairs in order,” she said;—“if you do not begin to make your arrangements with the king before leaving Paris, you will lose this capital. I know that projects are already afoot for giving it up, and that those who can do it, and in whom you have most confidence, are accomplices and even authors of the plot.” Mayenne himself did not hide from his confidants the gravity of the mischief and his own disquietude. “Not a day,” he wrote on the 4th of February, 1594, to the Marquis of Montpezat, “but brings some trouble because of the people’s yearning for repose, and of the weakness which is apparent on our side. I stem and stop this forment with as much courage as I can; but the present mischief is overwhelming; the King of Navarre will in a few days have an army of twenty thousand men, French as well as foreigners. What will become of us, if we have not wherewithal not only to oppose him, but to make him lose the campaign? I can tell you of a verity that, save for my presence, Paris would have already been lost because of the great factions there are in it, which I take all the pains in the world to disperse and break up, and also because of the small aid, or rather the gainsaying, I meet with from the ministers of the King of Spain.” Mayenne tried to restore amongst the Leaguers both zeal and discipline; he convoked on the 2d of March, a meeting of all that remained of the faction of the Sixteen; he calculated upon the presence of some twelve hundred; scarcely three hundred came; he had an harangue delivered to them by the Rev. John Boucher, charged them to be faithful to the old spirit of the League, promised them that he would himself be faithful even to death, and exhorted them to be obedient in everything to Brissac, whom he had just appointed governor of the city, and to the provost of tradesmen. On announcing to them his imminent departure for Soissons, to meet some auxiliary troops which were to be sent to him by the King of Spain, “I leave to you,” he said, “what is dearest to me in the world—my wife, my children, my mother, and my sister.” But when he did set out, four days afterwards, on the 6th of March, 1594, he took away his wife and his children; his mother had already warned him that Brissac was communicating secretly, by means of his cousin, Sieur de Rochepot, with the royalists, and that the provost of tradesmen, L’Huillier, and three of the four sheriffs were agreed to bring the city back to obedience to the king. When the Sixteen and their adherents saw Mayenne departing with his wife and children, great were their alarm and wrath. A large band, with the incumbent of St. Cosmo (Hamilton) at their head, rushed about the streets in arms, saying, “Look to your city; the policists are brewing a terrible business for it.” Others, more violent, cried, “To arms! Down upon the policists! Begin! Let us make an end of it!” The policists, that is, the burgesses inclined to peace, repaired on their side to the provost of tradesmen to ask for his authority to assemble at the Palace or the Hotel de Ville, and to provide for security in case of any public calamity. The provost tried to elude their entreaties by pleading that the Duke of Mayenne would think ill of their assembling. “Then you are not the tradesmen’s but M. de Mayenne’s provost?” said one of them. “I am no Spaniard,” answered the provost; “no more is M. de Mayenne; I am anxious to reconcile you to the Sixteen.” “We are honest folks, not branded and defamed like the Sixteen; we will have no reconciliation with the wretches.” The Parliament grew excited, and exclaimed against the insolence and the menaces of the Sixteen. “We must give place to these sedition-mongers, or put them down.” A decree, published by sound of trumpet on the 14th of March, 1594, throughout the whole city, prohibited the Sixteen and their partisans from assembling on pain of death. That same day, Count de Brissac, governor of Paris, had an interview at the abbey of St. Anthony, with his brother-in-law, Francis d’Epinay, Lord of St. Luc, Henry IV.‘s grand-master of the ordnance; they had disputes touching private interests, which they wished, they said, to put right; and on this pretext advocates had appeared at their interview. They spent three hours in personal conference, their minds being directed solely to the means of putting the king into possession of Paris. They separated in apparent dudgeon. Brissac went to call upon the legate Gaetani, and begged him to excuse the error he had committed in communicating with a heretic; his interest in the private affairs in question was too great, he said, for him to neglect it. The legate excused him graciously, whilst praising him for his modest conduct, and related the incident to the Duke of Feria, the Spanish ambassador. “He is a good fellow, M. de Brissac,” said the ambassador; “I have always found him so; you have only to employ the Jesuits to make him do all you please. He takes little notice, otherwise, of affairs; one day, when we were holding council in here, whilst we were deliberating, he was amusing himself by catching flies.” For four days the population of Paris was occupied with a solemn procession in honor of St. Genevieve, in which the Parliament and all the municipal authorities took part. Brissac had agreed with his brother-in-law D’Epinay that he would let the king in on the 22d of March, and he had arranged, in concert with the provost of tradesmen, two sheriffs, and several district captains, the course of procedure. On the 21st of March, in the evening, some Leaguers paid him a visit, and spoke to him warmly about the rumors current on the subject in the city, calling upon him to look to it. “I have received the same notice,” said Brissac, coolly; “and I have given all the necessary orders. Leave me to act, and keep you quiet, so as not to wake up those who will have to be secured. To-morrow morning you will see a fine to-do and the policists much surprised.” During all the first part of the night between the 21st and 22d of March, Brissac went his rounds of the city and the guards he had posted, “with an appearance of great care and solicitude.” He had some trouble to get rid of certain Spanish officers, “whom the Duke of Feria had sent him to keep him company in his rounds, with orders to throw themselves upon him and kill him at the first suspicious movement; but they saw nothing to confirm their suspicions, and at two A. M., Brissac brought them back much fatigued to the duke’s, where he left them.” Henry IV., having started on the 21st of March from Senlis, where he had mustered his troops, and arrived about midnight at St. Denis, immediately began his march to Paris. The night was dark and stormy; thunder rumbled; rain fell heavily; the king was a little behind time. At three A. M.. the policists inside Paris had taken arms and repaired to the posts that had been assigned to them. Brissac had placed a guard close to the quarters of the Spanish ambassador, and ordered the men to fire on any who attempted to leave. He had then gone in person, with L’Huillier, the provost of tradesmen, to the New Gate, which he had caused to be unlocked and guarded. Sheriff Langlois had done the same at the gate of St. Denis. On the 22d of March, at four A. M., the king had not yet appeared before the ramparts, nor any one for him. Langlois issued from the gate, went some little distance to look out, and came in again, more and more impatient. At last, between four and five o’clock, a detachment of the royal troops, commanded by Vitry, appeared before the gate of St. Denis, which was instantly opened. Brissac’s brother-in-law, St. Luc, arrived about the same time at the New Gate, with a considerable force. The king’s troops entered Paris. They occupied the different districts, and met with no show of resistance but at the quay of L’Ecole, where an outpost of lanzknechts tried to stop them; but they were cut in pieces or hurled into the river. Between five and six o’clock Henry IV., at the head of the last division, crossed the drawbridge of the New Gate. Brissac, Provost L’Huillier, the sheriffs, and several companies of burgesses advanced to meet him. The king embraced Brissac, throwing his own white scarf round his neck, and addressing him as “Marshal.” “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” said Brissac, as he called upon the provost of tradesmen to present to the king the keys of the city. “Yes,” said L’Huillier, “render them, not sell them.” The king went forward with his train, going along Rue St. Honore to the market of the Innocents and the bridge of Notre-Dame; the crowd increased at every step. “Let them come near,” said Henry; “they hunger to see a king.” At every step, too, at sight of the smallest incident, the character of Henry, his natural thoughtful and lovable kindliness, shone forth. He asked if his entry had met with resistance anywhere; and he was told that about fifty lanzknechts had been killed at the quay of L’Ecole. “I would willingly give fifty thousand crowns,” said he, “to be able to say that I took Paris without costing the life of one single man.” As he marched along the Rue St. Honore, he saw a soldier taking some bread by force from a baker’s; he rushed at him, and would have struck him with his sword. As he passed in front of the Innocents, he saw at a window a man who was looking at him, and pointedly keeping his hat on; the man perceived that the king’ observed him, and withdrew, shutting down the window. Henry said, “Let nobody enter this house to vex or molest any one in it.” He arrived in front of Notre-Dame, followed by five or six hundred men-at-arms, who trailed their pikes “in token of a victory that was voluntary on the people’s part,” it was said. There was no uproar, or any hostile movement, save on the left bank of the Seine, in the University quarter, where the Sixteen attempted to assemble their partisans round the gate of St. Jacques; but they were promptly dispersed by the people as well as by the royal troops. On leaving Notre-Dame, Henry repaired to the Louvre, where he installed royalty once more. At ten o’clock he was master of the whole city; the districts of St. Martin, of the Temple, and St. Anthony alone remained still in the power of three thousand Spanish soldiers under the orders of their leaders, the Duke of Feria and Don Diego d’Ibarra. Nothing would have been easier for Henry than to have had them driven out by his own troops and the people of Paris, who wanted to finish the day’s work by exterminating the foreigners; but he was too judicious and too far-sighted to embitter the general animosity by pushing his victory beyond what was necessary. He sent word to the Spaniards that they must not move from their quarters and must leave Paris during the day, at the same time promising not to bear arms any more against him, in France. They eagerly accepted these conditions. At three o’clock in the afternoon, ambassador, officers, and soldiers all evacuated Paris, and set out for the Low Countries. The king, posted at a window over the gate of St. Denis, witnessed their departure. They, as they passed, saluted him respectfully; and he returned their salute, saying, “Go, gentlemen, and commend me to your master; but return no more.”

After his conversion to Catholicism, the capture of Paris was the most decisive of the issues which made Henry IV. really King of France. The submission of Rouen followed almost immediately upon that of Paris; and the year 1594 brought Henry a series of successes, military and civil, which changed very much to his advantage the position of the kingship as well as the general condition of the kingdom. In Normandy, in Picardy, in Champagne, in Anjou, in Poitou, in Brittany, in Orleanness, in Auvergne, a multitude of important towns, Havre, Honfleur, Abbeville, Amiens, Peronue, Montdidier, Poitiers, Orleans, Rheims, Chateau-Thierry, Beauvais, Sens, Riom, Morlaix, Laval, Laon, returned to the king’s authority, some after sieges and others by pacific and personal arrangement, more or less burdensome for the public treasury, but very effective in promoting the unity of the nation and of the monarchy. In the table drawn up by Sully of expenses under that head, he estimated them at thirty-two millions, one hundred and forty-two thousand, nine hundred and eighty-one livres, equivalent at the present day, says M. Poirson, to one hundred and eighteen millions of francs. The rendition of Paris, “on account of M. de Brissac, the city itself and other individuals employed on his treaty,” figures in this sum total at one million, six hundred and forty-five thousand, four hundred livres. Territorial acquisitions were not the only political conquests of this epoch; some of the great institutions which had been disjointed by the religious wars, for instance, the Parliaments of Paris and Normandy, recovered their unity and resumed their efficacy to the advantage of order, of the monarchy, and of national independence; their decrees against the League contributed powerfully to its downfall. Henry IV. did his share in other ways besides warfare; he excelled in the art of winning over or embarrassing his vanquished foes. After the submission of Paris, the two princesses of the house of Lorraine who had remained there, the Duchesses of Nemours and of Montpensier, one the mother and the other the sister of the Duke of Mayenne, were preparing to go and render homage to the conqueror; Henry anticipated them, and paid them the first visit. As he was passing through a room where hung a portrait of Henry de Guise, he halted and saluted it very courteously. The Duchess of Montpensier, who had so often execrated him, did not hesitate to express her regret that “her brother Mayenne had not been there to let down for him the drawbridge of the gate by which he had entered Paris.” “Ventre-saint-gris,” said the king, “he might have made me wait a long while; I should not have arrived so early.” He knew that the Duchess of Nemours had desired peace, and when she allowed some signs of vexation to peep out at her not having been able to bring her sons and grandsons to that determination, “Madame,” said he, “there is still time if they please.” At the close of 1594, he imported disorganization into the household of Lorraine by offering the government of Provence to the young Duke Charles of Guise, son of the Balafre; who eagerly accepted it; and he from that moment paved the way, by the agency of President Jeannin, for his reconciliation with Mayenne, which he brought to accomplishment at the end of 1595.

The close of this happy and glorious year was at hand. On the 27th of September, between six and seven P.M., a deplorable incident occurred, for the second time, to call Henry IV.‘s attention to the weak side of his position. He was just back from Picardy, and holding a court-reception at Schomberg House, at the back of the Louvre. John Chastel, a young man of nineteen, son of a cloth-merchant in the city, slipped in among the visitors, managed to approach the king, and dealt him a blow with a knife just as he was stooping to raise and embrace Francis de la Grange, Sieur de Montigny, who was kneeling before him. The blow, aimed at the king’s throat, merely slit his upper lip and broke a tooth. “I am wounded!” said the king. John Chastel, having dropped his knife, had remained on the spot, motionless and confused. Montigny, according to some, but, according to others, the Count of Soissons, who happened to be near him, laid hands upon him, saying, “Here is the assassin, either he or I.” Henry IV., always prone to pass things over, pooh-poohed the suspicion, and was just giving orders to let the young man go, when the knife, discovered on the ground close to Chastel, became positive evidence. Chastel was questioned, searched, and then handed, over to the grand provost of the household, who had him conveyed to prison at For-l’Eveque. He first of all denied, but afterwards admitted his deed, regretting that he had missed his aim, and saying he was ready to try again for his own salvation’s sake and that of religion. He declared that he had been brought up amongst the Jesuits in Rue St. Jacques, and he gave long details as to the education he had received there and the maxims he had heard there. The rumor of his crime and of the revelations he had made spread immediately over Paris and caused passionate excitement. The people filled the churches and rendered thanks to God for having preserved the king. The burgesses took up arms and mustered at their guard-posts. The mob bore down on the college of Jesuits in Rue St. Jacques with threats of violence. The king and the Parliament sent a force thither; Brizard, councillor in the high chamber, captain of the district, had the fathers removed, and put them in security in his own house. The inquiry was prosecuted deliberately and temperately. It brought out that John Chastel had often heard repeated at his college “that it was allowable to kill kings, even the king regnant, when they were not in the church or approved of by the pope.” The accused formally maintained this maxim, which was found written out and dilated upon under his own hand in a note-book seized at his father’s. “Was it necessary, pray,” said Henry IV., laughing, “that the Jesuits should be convicted by my mouth?” John Chastel was sentenced to the most cruel punishment; and he underwent it on the 20th of December, 1594, by torch-light, before the principal entrance of Notre-Dame, without showing any symptom of regret. His mother and his sisters were set at liberty. His father, an old Leaguer, had been cognizant of his project, and had dissuaded him from it, but without doing anything to hinder it; he was banished from the kingdom for nine years, and from Paris forever. His house was razed to the ground; and on the site was set up a pyramid with the decree of the Parliament inscribed upon it.

The proceedings did not stop there. At the beginning of this same year, and on petition from the University of Paris, the Parliament had commenced a general prosecution of the order of Jesuits, its maxims, tendencies, and influence. Formal discussions had taken place; the prosecution and the defence had been conducted with eloquence, and a decree of the court had ordained that judgment should be deferred. Several of the most respected functionaries, notably President Augustin de Thou, had pronounced against this decree, considering the question so grave and so urgent that the Parliament should make it their duty to decide upon the point at issue. When sentence had to be pronounced upon John Chastel, President de Thou took the opportunity of saying, “When I lately gave my opinion in the matter of the University and the Jesuits, I never hoped, at my age and with my infirmities, that I should live long enough to take part in the judgment we are about to pass to-day. It was that which led me, in the indignation caused me by the course at that time adopted, to lay down an opinion to which I to-day recur with much joy. God be praised for having brought about an occasion whereon we have nothing to do but felicitate ourselves for that the enterprise which our foes did meditate against the state and the life of the king hath been without success, and which proves clearly at the same time how much the then opinion of certain honest men was wiser than that of persons who, from a miserable policy, were in favor of deferment!” The court, animated by the same sentiments as President do Thou, “declared the maxims maintained in the Jesuits’ name to be rash, seditious, contrary to the word of God, savoring of heresy and condemned by the holy canons; it expressly forbade them to be taught publicly or privately, on pain, in case of contraveners, of being treated as guilty of treason against God and man. It decreed, further, that the priests of the college in Rue St. Jacques, their pupils, and, generally, all members of that society, should leave Paris and all the towns in which they had colleges three days after this decree had been made known to them, and the kingdom within a fortnight, as corrupters of youth, disturbers of the public peace, and enemies of the king and of the state. In default of obedience on their part, their property, real and personal, should be confiscated and employed for pious purposes. The court, besides, prohibited all subjects of the king from sending their children as students to any Jesuits out of the kingdom, on pain of being declared enemies of the state.” This decree was issued on the 29th of December, 1594. And as if to leave no doubt about the sense and bearing of this legislation, it was immediately applied in the case of a Jesuit father, John Guignard, a native of Chartres; his papers were examined, and there were found in his handwriting many propositions and provocatives of sedition, such as, “That a great mistake had been made at the St. Bartholomew in not having opened the basilic vein, that is, in not having murdered Henry IV. and the Prince of Conde, who were of the blood royal; 2. That the crown might have been, and ought to have been, transferred to a family other than that of the Bourbons; 3. That the Bearnese, in spite of his pretended conversion, ought to consider himself only too lucky if it were considered sufficient to shave his head and shut him up in a convent to do penance there; that if the crown could not betaken from him without war, then war must be made on him; and that if the state of things did not admit of making war on him, he ought to be got rid of at any price and in any way whatsoever.” For having, not published, but thought and with his own hand written out all this, and probably taught it to his pupils, Father Guignard was obliged to retract, and was afterwards hanged in the Place de Greve on the 7th of January, 1595.

The task of honest men and of right minds is greater and more difficult in our day than it was in the sixteenth century, for we have to reconcile the laws and the requirements of moral and social order with far broader principles and sentiments, as regards right and liberty, than were those of President Augustin de Thou and the worthy functionaries of his time.

It was one of Henry IV.‘s conspicuous qualities that no event, auspicious or inauspicious, affected the correctness of his judgment, and that he was just as much a stranger to illusion or intoxication in the hour of good fortune as to discouragement in the hour of ill. He had sense enough to see, in any case, things as they really were, and to estimate at the proper value the strength they brought or the obstacles they formed to his government. He saw at a glance all the importance there was for him in the submission of Paris, and what change in his conduct was required by that in his position. Certain local successes of the Spaniards at some points in his kingdom, the efforts of Mayenne to resuscitate the dying League, and John Chastel’s attempt at assassination did not for a moment interfere with his confidence in his progress, or cause him to hesitate as to the new bearing he had to assume. He wrote on the 17th of December, 1594, to the estates of Artois and Hainault, “I have hitherto lacked neither the courage nor the power to repel the insults offered me, and to send recoiling upon the head of the King of Spain and his subjects the evils of which he was the author. But just as were the grounds I had for declaring war against him, motives more powerful and concerning the interests of all Christendom restrained me. At the present time, when the principal leaders of the factious have returned to their duty and submitted to my laws, Philip still continues his intrigues to foster troubles in the very heart of my kingdom. After maturely reflecting, I have decided that it is time for me to act. Nevertheless, as I cannot forget the friendship my ancestors always felt for your country, I could not but see with pain that, though you have taken no share in Philip’s acts of injustice, on you will fall the first blows of a war so terrible, and I thought it my duty to warn you of my purpose before I proceed to execute it. If you can prevail upon the King of Spain to withdraw the army which he is having levied on the frontier, and to give no protection for the future to rebels of my kingdom, I will not declare war against him, provided that I have certain proof of your good intentions, and that you give me reasonable securities for them before the 1st of January in the approaching year.” [Lettres missives de Henri IV, p. 280—De Thou, Histoire universelle, t. xii. pp. 328-342.]

These letters, conveyed to Arras by one of the king’s trumpeters, received no answer. The estates of Flanders, in assembly at Brussels, somewhat more bold than those of Artois and Hainault, in vain represented to their Spanish governor their plaints and their desires for peace; for two months Henry IV. heard not a word on the subject. Philip II. persisted in his active hostility, and continued to give the King of France no title but that of Prince of Bearn. On the 17th of January, 1595, Henry, in performance of what he had proclaimed, formally declared war against the King of Spain, forbade his subjects to have any commerce with him or his allies, and ordered them to make war on him for the future just as he persisted in making it on France. This able and worthy resolve was not approved of by Rosny, by this time the foremost of Henry’s IV.‘s councillors, although he had not yet risen in the government, or, probably, in the king’s private confidence, to the superior rank that he did attain by the eminence of his services and the courageous sincerity of his devotion. In his OEconomies royales it is to interested influence, on the part of England and Holland, that he attributes this declaration of war against Philip II., “into which,” he says, “the king allowed himself to be hurried against his own feelings.” It was assuredly in accordance with his own feelings and of his own free will that Henry acted in this important decision; he had a political order of mind greater, more inventive, and more sagacious than Rosny’s administrative order of mind, strong common sense and painstaking financial abilities. To spontaneously declare war against Philip after the capitulation of Paris and the conquest of three quarters of France was to proclaim that the League was at death’s door, that there was no longer any civil war in France, and that her king had no more now than foreign war to occupy him. To make alliance, in view of that foreign war, with the Protestant sovereigns of England, Holland, and Germany, against the exclusive and absolutist patron of Catholicism, was on the part of a king but lately Protestant, and now become resolutely Catholic, to separate openly politics from religion, and to subserve the temporal interests of the realm of France whilst putting himself into the hands of the spiritual head of the church as regarded matters of faith. Henry IV., moreover, discovered another advantage in this line of conduct; it rendered possible and natural the important act for which he was even then preparing, and which will be spoken of directly, the edict of Nantes in favor of the Protestants, which was the charter of religious tolerance and the securities for it, pending the advent of religious liberty and its rights, that fundamental principle, at this day, of moral and social order in France. Such were Henry IV.‘s grand and premonitory instincts when, on the 17th of January, 1595, he officially declared against Philip II. that war which Philip had not for a moment ceased to make on him.

The conflict thus solemnly begun between France and Spain lasted three years and three months, from the 17th of January, 1595, to the 1st of May, 1598, from Henry IV.‘s declaration of war to the peace of Vervins, which preceded by only four months and thirteen days the death of Philip II. and the end of the preponderance of Spain in Europe. It is not worth while to follow step by step the course of this monotonous conflict, pregnant with facts which had their importance for contemporaries, but are not worthy of an historical resurrection. Notice will be drawn only to those incidents in which the history of France is concerned, and which give a good idea of Henry IV.‘s character, the effectiveness of his government, and the rapid growth of his greatness in Europe, contrasted with his rival’s slow decay.

Four months and a half after the declaration of war, and during the campaign begun in Burgundy between the French and the Spaniards, on the 5th of June, 1595, near Fontaine-Francaise, a large burgh a few leagues from Dijon, there took place an encounter which, without ending in a general battle, was an important event, and caused so much sensation that it brought about political results more important than the immediate cause of them. Henry IV. made up his mind to go and reconnoitre in person the approaches of Dijon, towards which the enemy were marching. He advanced, with about a hundred and fifty men-at-arms and as many mounted arquebusiers, close up to the burgh of Saint-Seine; from there he sent the Marquis of Mirebeau with fifty or sixty horse to “go,” says Sully, “and take stock of the enemy;” and he put himself on the track of his lieutenant, marching as a simple captain of light-horse, with the purpose of becoming better acquainted with the set of the country, so as to turn it to advantage if the armies had to encounter. But he had not gone more than a league when he saw Mirebeau returning at more than a foot-pace and in some disorder; who informed him “that he had been suddenly charged by as many as three or four hundred horse, who did not give him leisure to extend his view as he could have desired, and that he believed that the whole army of the Constable of Castille was marching in a body to come and quarter themselves in the burgh of Saint-Seine.” Marshal de Biron, who joined the king at this moment, offered to go and look at the enemy, and bring back news that could be depended upon; but scarcely had he gone a thousand paces when he descried, on the top of a little valley, some sixty horse halted there as if they were on guard; he charged them, toppled them over, and taking their ground, discovered the whole Spanish army marching in order of battle and driving before them a hundred of the king’s horse, who were flying in disorder. Biron halted and showed a firm front to the enemy’s approach; but he was himself hard pressed at many points, and was charged with such impetuosity that he was obliged to begin a retreat which changed before long to a sort of flight, with a few sword-cuts about the ears. Thus he arrived within sight of the king, who immediately detached a hundred horse to support Biron and stop the fugitives; but the little re-enforcement met with the same fate as those it went to support; it was overthrown and driven pell-mell right up to the king, who suddenly found himself with seven or eight hundred horse on his hands, without counting the enemy’s main army, which could already be discerned in the distance. Far from being dumbfounded, the king, “borrowing,” says Sully, “increase of judgment and courage from the greatness of the peril,” called all his men about him, formed them into two squadrons of a hundred and fifty men each, gave one to M. de la Tremoille with orders to go and charge the Spanish cavalry on one flank, put himself at the head of the other squadron, and the two charges of the French were “so furious and so determined,” says Sully, the king mingling in the thickest of the fight and setting an example to the boldest, “that the Spanish squadrons in dismay tumbled one over another, and retired half-routed to the main body of Mayenne’s army; who, seeing a dash made to the king’s assistance by some of his bravest officers with seven or eight hundred horse, thought all the royal army was there, and, fearing to attack those gentry of whose determination he had just made proof, he himself gave his troops the order to retreat, Henry going on in pursuit until he had forced them to recross the Sane below Gray, leaving Burgundy at his discretion.”

A mere abridgment has been given of the story relating to this brilliant affair as it appears in the OEconomies Royales of Sully [t. ii. pp. 377-387], who was present and hotly engaged in the fight. We will quote word for word, however, the account of Henry IV. himself, who sent a report four days afterwards to his sister Catherine and to the Constable Anne de Montmorency. To the latter he wrote on the 8th of June, 1595, from Dijon, “I was informed that the Constable of Castile, accompanied by the Duke of Mayenne, was crossing the River Sane with his army to come and succor the castle of this town. I took horse the day after, attended by my cousin Marshal de Biron and from seven to eight hundred horse, to go and observe his plans on the spot. Whence it happened that, intending to take the same quarters without having any certain advices about one another, we met sooner than we had hoped, and so closely that my cousin the marshal, who led the first troop, was obliged to charge those who had advanced, and I to support him. But our disadvantage was, that all our troops had not yet arrived and joined me, for I had but from two to three hundred horse, whereas the enemy had all his cavalry on the spot, making over a thousand or twelve hundred drawn up by squadrons and in order of battle. However, my said cousin did not haggle about them; and, seeing that they were worsting him, because the game was too uneven, I determined to make one in it, and joined in it to such a purpose and with such luck, thank God, together with the following I had, that we put them to the rout. But I can assure you that it was not at the first charge, for we made several; and if the rest of my forces had been with me, I should no doubt have defeated all their cavalry, and perhaps their foot who were in order of battle behind the others, having at their head the said Constable of Castile. But our forces were so unequal that I could do no more than put to flight those who would not do battle, after having cut in pieces the rest, as we had done; wherein I can tell you, my dear cousin, that my said cousin Marshal de Biron and I did some good handiwork. He was wounded in the head by a blow from a cutlass in the second charge, for he and I had nothing on but our cuirasses, not having had time to arm ourselves further, so surprised and hurried were we. However, my said cousin did not fail, after his wound, to return again to the charge three or four times, as I too did on my side. Finally we did so well that the field and their dead were left to us to the number of a hundred or six score, and as many prisoners of all ranks. Whereat the said Constable of Castile took such alarm that he at once recrossed the Sane; and I have been told that it was not without reproaching the Duke of Mayenne with having deceived him in not telling him of my arrival in this country.”

The day before, June 7, Henry had written to his sister Catherine de Bourbon, “My dear sister, the more I go on, the more do I wonder at the grace shown me by God in the fight of last Monday, wherein I thought to have defeated but twelve hundred horse; but they must be set down at two thousand. The Constable of Castile was there in person with the Duke of Mayenne; and they both of them saw me and recognized me quite well; they sent to demand of me a whole lot of Italian and Spanish captains of theirs, the which were not prisoners. They must be amongst the dead who have been buried, for I requested next day that they should be. Many of our young noblemen, seeing me with them everywhere, were full of fire in this engagement, and showed a great deal of courage; amongst whom I came across Gramont, Termes, Boissy, La Curse, and the Marquis of Mirebeau, who, as luck would have it, found themselves at it without any armor but their neck-pieces and gaillardets (front and back plates), and did marvels. There were others who did not do so well, and many who did very ill. Those who were not there ought to be sorry for it, seeing that I had need of all my good friends, and I saw you very near becoming my heiress.” [Lettres missives de Henri IV., t. iv. pp. 363-369; in the Collection des Documents inedits sur l’Histoire de France.]

This fight, so unpremeditated, at Fontaine-Francaise, and the presence of mind, steady quicksightedness, and brilliant dash of Henry IV., led off this long war gloriously. Its details were narrated and sought after minutely; people were especially struck with the sympathetic attention that in the very midst of the strife the king bestowed upon all his companions in arms, either to give them directions or to warn them of danger. “At the hottest of the fight,” says the contemporary historian Peter Matthieu, “Henry, seizing Mirebeau by the arm, said, ‘Charge yonder!’ which he did: and that troop began to thin off and disappear.” A moment afterwards, seeing one of the enemy’s men-at-arms darting down upon the French, Henry concluded that the attack was intended for Gilbert, de la Cure, a brave and pious Catholic lord, whom he called familiarly Monsieur le Cure, and shouted to him from afar, “Look out, La Curee!” which warned him and saved his life. The roughest warriors were touched by this fraternal solicitude of the king’s, and clung to him with passionate devotion.

It was at Rome, and in the case of an ecclesiastical question that Henry IV.‘s steady policy, his fame for ability as well as valor, and the glorious affair of Fontaine-Francaise bore their first fruits. Mention has already been made of the formal refusal the king had met with from Pope Clement VIII. in January, 1594, when he had demanded of him, by the embassy extraordinary of the Duke of Nevers, confirmation of the absolution granted him by the French bishops after his conversation at St. Denis and his anointment at Chartres. The pope, in spite of his refusal, had indirectly given the royal agents to understand that they were not to be discouraged; and the ablest of them, Arnold d’Ossat, had remained at Rome to conduct this delicate and dark commission. When Clement VIII. saw Henry IV.‘s government growing stronger and more extensive day by day, Paris returned to his power, the League beaten and the Gallican church upheld in its maxims by the French magistracy, fear of schism grew serious at Rome, and the pope had a hint given by Cardinal de Gondi to Henry that, if he were to send fresh ambassadors, they might be favorably listened to. Arnold d’Ossat had acquired veritable weight at the court of Rome, and had paved the way with a great deal of art towards turning to advantage any favorable chances that might offer themselves. Villeroi, having broken with the League, had become Henry IV.‘s minister of foreign affairs, and obtained some confidence at Rome in return for the good will he testified towards the papacy. By his councillor’s advice, no doubt, the king made no official stir, sent no brilliant embassy; D’Ossat quietly resumed negotiations, and alone conducted them from the end of 1594 to the spring of 1595; and when a new envoy was chosen to bring them to a conclusion, it was not a great lord, but a learned ecclesiastic, Abbot James du Perron, whose ability and devotion Henry IV. had already, at the time of his conversion, experienced, and whom he had lately appointed Bishop of Evreux. Even when Du Perron had been fixed upon to go to Rome and ask for the absolution which Clement VIII. had seven or eight months before refused, he was in no hurry to repair thither, and D’Ossat’s letters make it appear that he was expected there with some impatience. He arrived there on the 12th of July, 1595, and, in concert with D’Ossat, he presented to the pope the request of the king, who solicited the papal benediction, absolution from any censure, and complete reconciliation with the Roman church. Clement VIII., on the 2d of August, assembled his consistory, whither went all the cardinals, save two partisans of Spain who excused themselves on the score of health. Parleys took place as to the form of the decree which must precede the absolution. The pope would have liked very much to insert two clauses, one revoking as null and void the absolution already given to the king by the French bishops at the time of his conversion, and the other causing the absolution granted by the pope to be at the same time considered as re-establishing Henry IV. in his rights to the crown, whereof it was contended that he was deprived by the excommunication and censures of Sixtus V. and Gregory XIV., which this absolution was to remove. The two French negotiators rejected these attempts, and steadily maintained the complete independence of the king’s temporal sovereignty, as well as the power of intervention of the French episcopate in his absolution. Clement VIII. was a judicious and prudent pope; and he did not persist. The absolution was solemnly pronounced on the 17th of September, 1595, by the pope himself, from a balcony erected in St. Peter’s Square, and in presence of the population. The gates of the church were thrown open and a Te Deum was sung. A grand ceremony took place immediately afterwards in the church of St. Louis of the French. Rome was illuminated for three days, and, on the 7th of November following, a pope’s messenger left for Paris with the bull of absolution drawn up in the terms agreed upon.

Another reconciliation, of less solemnity, but of great importance, that between the Duke of Mayenne and Henry IV., took place a week after the absolution pronounced by the pope. As soon as the civil war, continued by the remnants of the dying League, was no more than a disgraceful auxiliary to the foreign war between France and Spain, Mayenne was in his soul both grieved and disgusted at it. The affair of Fontaine-Francaise gave him an opportunity of bringing matters to a crisis; he next day broke with the Constable of Castile, Don Ferdinand de Velasco, who declined to follow his advice, and at once entered into secret negotiations with the king. Henry wrote from Lyons to Du Plessis-Mornay, on the 24th of August, 1595, “The Duke of Mayenne has asked me to allow him three months for the purpose of informing the enemy of his determination in order to induce them to join him in recognizing me and serving me. So doing, he has also agreed to bind himself from this present date to recognize me and serve me, whatever his friends may do.” On the 23d of September following, Henry IV., still at Lyons, sent to M. de la Chatre:—

“I forward you the articles of a general truce which I have granted to the Duke of Mayenne at his pressing instance, and on the assurance he has given me that he will get it accepted and observed by all those who are still making war within my kingdom, in his name or that of the League.” This truce was, in point of fact, concluded by a preliminary treaty signed at Chalons, and by virtue of which Mayenne ordered his lieutenants to give up to the king the citadel of Dijon. The negotiations continued, and, in January, 1596, a royal edict, signed at Folembray, near Laon, regulated, in thirty-one articles and some secret articles, the conditions of peace between the king and Mayenne. The king granted him, himself and his partisans, full and complete amnesty for the past, besides three surety-places for six years, and divers sums, which, may be for payment of his debts, and may be for his future provision, amounted to three million five hundred and eighty thousand livres at that time (twelve million eight hundred and eighty-eight thousand francs of the present day). The Parliament of Paris considered these terms exorbitant, and did not consent to enregister the edict until April 9, 1596, after three letters jussory from the king. Henry IV. nobly expressed, in the preamble of the edict, the motives of policy that led to his generous arrangements; after alluding to his late reconciliation with the pope, “Our work,” he said, “would have been imperfect, and peace incomplete, if our most dear and most beloved cousin, the Duke of Mayenne, chief of his party, had not followed the same road, as he resolved to do so soon as he saw that our holy father had approved of our reunion. This hath made us to perceive better than heretofore the aim of his actions, to accept and take in good part all that he hath exhibited against us of the zeal he felt for religion, and to commend the anxiety he hath displayed to preserve the kingdom in, its entirety, whereof he caused not and suffered not the dismemberment when the prosperity of his affairs seemed to give him some means of it; the which he was none the more inclined to do when he became weakened, but preferred to throw himself into our arms rather than betake himself to other remedies, which might have caused the war to last a long while yet, to the great damage of our people. This it is which hath made us desire to recognize his good intent, to love him and treat him for the future as our good relative and faithful subject.” [Memoires de la Ligue, t. vi. p. 349.]

The Castle of Monceaux——91

To a profound and just appreciation of men’s conduct Henry IV. knew how to add a winning grace and the surprising charm of a familiar manner. After having signed the edict of Folembray, he had gone to rest a while at Monceaux. Mayenne went to visit him there on the 31st of January, 1596. There is nothing to be added to or taken from the account given by Sully of their interview. “The king, stepping forward to meet Mayenne, embraced him thrice, assuring him that he was welcome, and that he embraced him as cordially as if there had never been anything between them. M. de Mayenne put one knee on the ground, embraced the king’s thigh, and assured him that he was his very humble servant and subject, saying that he considered himself greatly bounden to him, as well for having with so much, of gentleness, kindness, and special largesses restored him to his duty, as for having delivered him from Spanish arrogance and Italian crafts and wiles. Then the king, having raised him up and embraced him once more, told him that he had no doubt at all of his honor and word, for a man of worth and of good courage held nothing so dear as the observance thereof. Thereupon he took him by the hand and began to walk him about at a very great pace, showing him the alleys and telling all his plans and the beauties and conveniences of this mansion. M. de Mayenne, who was incommoded by a sciatica, followed as best he could, but some way behind, dragging his limbs after him very heavily. Which the king observing, and that he was mighty red, heated, and was puffing with thickness of breath, he turned to Rosny, whom he held, with the other hand, and said in his ear, ‘If I walk this fat carcass here about much longer, then am I avenged without much difficulty for all the evils he hath done us, for he is a dead man.’ And thereupon pulling up, the king said to him, ‘Tell the truth, cousin, I go a little too fast for you; and I have worked you too hard.’ ‘By my faith, sir,’ said M. de Mayenne, slapping his hand upon his stomach, ‘it is true; I swear to you that I am so tired and out of breath that I can no more. If you had continued walking me about so fast, for honor and courtesy did not permit me to say to you, “Hold! enough!” and still less to leave you, I believe that you would have killed me without a thought of it.’ Then the king embraced him, clapped him on the shoulder, and said with a laughing face, open glance, and holding out his hand, ‘Come, take that, cousin, for, by God, this is all the injury and displeasure you shall ever have from me; of that I give you my honor and word with all my heart, the which I never did and never will violate.’ ‘By God, sir,’ answered M. de Mayenne, kissing the king’s hand and doing what he could to put one knee upon the ground, ‘I believe it and all other generous things that may be expected from the best and bravest prince of our age. And you said it, too, in so frank a spirit and with so kindly a grace that my feelings and my obligations are half as deep again. However, I swear to you over again, sir, by the living God, on my faith, my honor, and my salvation, that I will be to you, all my life long, loyal subject and faithful servant; I will never fail you nor desert you; I will have while I live no desires or designs of importance which are not suggested by your Majesty himself; nor will I ever be cognizant of them in the case of others, though they were my own children, without expressly opposing them and giving you notice of them at once.’ ‘There, there, cousin,’ rejoined the king, ‘I quite believe it; and that you may be able to love me and serve me long, go rest you, refresh you, and drink a draught at the castle. I have in my cellars some Arbois wine, of which I will send you two bottles, for well I know that you do not dislike it. And here is Rosny, whom I will lend you to accompany you, to do the honors of the house and to conduct you to your chamber: he is one of my oldest servants, and one of those who have been most rejoiced to see that you would love me and serve me cordially.’” [OEconomies royales, t. iii. pp. 7-10.]

Mayenne was as good as his word. After the edict of Folembray, he lived fourteen years at the court of Henry IV., whom he survived only about sixteen months [for he died on the 4th of October, 1611, and Henry IV. was assassinated by Ravaillac on the 13th of May, 1610], and during all that time he was loyal and faithful to him, never giving him any but good counsels and sometimes rendering him useful services. A rare example of a party-chief completely awakened and tamed by experience: it made him disgusted with fanaticism, faction, civil war, and complicity with the foreigner. He was the least brilliant but the most sensible, the most honest, and the most French of the Guises. Henry IV., when seriously ill at Fontainebleau in 1608, recommended him to Queen Mary de’ Medici as one of the men whom it was most important to call to the councils of state; and, at the approach of death, Mayenne, weary and weak in the lap of repose, could conscientiously address those who were around him in such grand and Christian language as this: “It is no new thing to know that I must die; for twelve years past my lingering and painful life has been for the most part an apprenticeship thereto. My sufferings have so dulled the sting of death that I rather count upon it than dread it; happy to have had so long a delay to teach me to make a good end, and to rid me of the things which formerly kept me from that knowledge. Happy to meet my end amongst mine own people and to terminate by a peaceful death the sufferings and miseries of my life. I formerly sought death amidst arms; but I am better pleased, for my soul’s salvation, to meet it and embrace it on my bed than if I had encountered it in battle, for the sake of the glory of the world.”

Let, us return to Henry IV. Since his declaration of war against Philip II. he had gained much ground. He had fought gloriously, in his own person, and beaten the Spaniards at Fontaine-Francaise. He had obtained from Pope Clement VIII. the complete and solemn absolution which had been refused to him the year before. Mayenne had submitted to him, and that submission had been death to the League. Some military reverses were intermingled with these political successes. Between the 25th of June, 1595, and the 10th of March, 1597, the Spanish armies took, in Picardy and Artois, Le Catelet, Doullens, Cambrai, Ardres, Ham, Guines and two towns of more importance, Calais, still the object of English ambition and of offers on the part of Queen Elizabeth to any one who could hand it over to her, and Amiens, one of the keys to France on the frontier of the north. These checks were not without compensation. Henry invested and took the strong place of La Fere; and he retook Amiens after a six months’ struggle. A Spanish plot for getting possession of Marseilles failed; the young Duke of Guise, whom Henry had made governor of Provence, entered the city amidst shouts of Hurrah for the king! “Now I am king!” cried Henry, on receiving the news, so generally was Marseilles even then regarded as the queen of the Mediterranean. The Duke of Epernon, who had attempted to make of Provence an independent principality for himself, was obliged to leave it and treat with the king, ever ready to grant easy terms to those who could give up to him or sell him any portion of his kingdom. France was thus being rapidly reconstituted. “Since the month of January, 1596, Burgundy, parts of Forez, Auvergne, and Velay, the whole of Provence, half Languedoc, and the last town of Poitou had been brought back to their allegiance to the king. French territory and national unity had nothing more to wait for, to complete their re-establishment, than a portion of Brittany and four towns of Picardy still occupied by the Spaniards.” [Poirson, Histoire du Regne de Henri IV., t. ii. p. 159.]

But these results were only obtained at enormous expense and by means of pecuniary sacrifices, loans, imposts, obligations of every sort, which left the king in inextricable embarrassment, and France in a condition of exhaustion still further aggravated by the deplorable administration of the public finances. On the 15th of April, 1596, Henry IV. wrote from Amiens to Rosny, “My friend, you know as well as any of my servants what troubles, labors, and fatigues I have had to go through to secure my life and my dignity against so many sorts of enemies and perils. Nevertheless I swear to you that all these traverses have not caused me so much affliction and bitterness of spirit as the sorrow and annoyance I now feel at finding thyself in continual controversies with those most in authority of my servants, officers, and councillors of state, when I would fain set about restoring this kingdom to its highest splendor, and relieving my poor people, whom I love as my dear children (God having at present granted me no others), from so many talliages, subsidies, vexations, and oppressions whereof they daily make complaints to me. . . . Having written to them who are of my council of finance how that I had a design of extreme importance in hand for which I had need of a fund of eight hundred thousand crowns, and therefore I begged and conjured them, by their loyalty and sincere affection towards me and France, to labor diligently for the certain raising of that sum, all their answers, after several delays, excuses, and reasons whereof one destroyed another, had finally no other conclusion than representations of difficulties and impossibilities. Nay, they feared not to send me word that so far from being able to furnish me with so notable a sum, they found great trouble in raising the funds to keep my household going. . . . I am resolved to know truly whether the necessities which are overwhelming me proceed from the malice, bad management, or ignorance of those whom I employ, or, good sooth, from the diminution of my revenues and the poverty of my people. And to that end, I mean to convoke the three orders of my kingdom, for to have of them some advice and aid, and meanwhile to establish among those people some loyal servant of mine, whom I will put in authority little by little, in order that he may inform me of what passes in my council, and enlighten me as to that which I desire to know. I have, as I have already told you, cast my eyes upon you to serve me in this commission, not doubting at all that I shall receive contentment and advantage from your administration. And I wish to tell you the state to which I am reduced, which is such that I am very near the enemy, and have not, as you may say, a horse to fight on or a whole suit of harness to my back. My shirts are all torn, my doublets out at elbows; my cupboard is often bare, and for the last two days I have been dining and supping with one and another; my purveyors say they have no more means of supplying my table, especially as for more than six months they have had no money. Judge whether I deserve to be so treated, and fail not to come. I have on my mind, besides, two or three other matters of consequence on which I wish to employ you the moment you arrive. Do not speak of all this to anybody whatsoever, not even to your wife. Adieu, my friend, whom well I love.”

Henry IV. accomplished all that, when he wrote to Rosny, he had showed himself resolved to undertake. External circumstances became favorable to him. Since his conversion to Catholicism, England and her queen, Elizabeth, had been colder in the cause of the French alliance. When, after his declaration of war against Philip II., Henry demanded in London the support on which he had believed that he might rely, Elizabeth answered by demanding in her turn the cession of Calais as the price of her services. Quite determined not to give up Calais to England, Henry, without complaining of the demand, let the negotiation drag, confining himself to saying that he was looking for friends, not for masters. When in April, 1596, it was known in London that Calais had been taken by the Spaniards, Elizabeth sent word to Henry, then at Boulogne, that she would send him prompt assistance if he promised, when Calais was recovered from the Spaniards, to place it in the hands of the English. “If I must be despoiled,” answered Henry, “I would rather it should be by my enemies than by my friends. In the former case it will be a reverse of fortune, in the latter I might be accused of poltroonery.” Elizabeth assured the French ambassador, Harlay de Sancy, “that it had never been her intention to keep Calais, but simply to take care that, in any case, this important place should not remain in the hands of the common enemy whilst the king was engaged in other enterprises; anyhow,” she added, “she had ordered the Earl of Essex, admiral of the English fleet raised against Spain, to arm promptly in order to go to the king’s assistance.” There was anxiety at that time in England about the immense preparations being made by Philip for the invasion he proposed to attempt against England, and for the putting to sea of his fleet, the Grand Armada. In conversation with the high treasurer, Lord Burleigh, Elizabeth’s chief minister, Sancy found him even colder than his queen; Burleigh laid great stress upon all that the queen had already done for France, and on the one million five hundred thousand gold crowns she had lent to the king. “It would be more becoming,” he said, “in the king’s envoys to thank the queen for the aid she had already furnished than to ask for more; by dint of drawing water the well had gone dry; the queen could offer the king only three thousand men, on condition that they were raised at his own expense.” “If the king,” replied Sancy, “must expect neither alliance nor effectual aid on your part, he will be much obliged to the queen to let him know what course she takes, because he, on his side, will take that which will be most expedient for his affairs.” Some of the king’s councillors regarded it as possible that he should make peace with the King of Spain, and did not refrain from letting as much be understood. Negotiations in London seemed to be broken off; the French ambassadors had taken leave of Elizabeth. The news that came from Spain altered the tone of the English government; threats of Spanish invasion became day by day more distinct and the Grand Armada more dreaded. Elizabeth sent word to the ambassadors of France by some of her confidants, amongst others Sir Robert Cecil, son of the high treasurer, that she was willing to give them a last audience before their departure. The result of this audience was the conclusion of a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive between France and England against the King of Spain, with a mutual promise not to make, one without the other, either peace or truce, with precise stipulations as to the number and pay of the troops which the Queen of England should put in the field for the service of the King of France, and, further, with a proviso establishing freedom of trade between the two states. The treaty was drawn up in London on the 24th of May, 1596, ratified at Rouen by Henry IV. on the 19th of October following, and on the 31st of October the States-General of Holland acceded to it, whilst regulating, accordingly, the extent of their engagements.

Easy as to the part to be played by his allies in the war with Spain, Henry IV. set to work upon the internal reforms and measures of which he strongly felt the necessity. They were of two kinds; one administrative and financial, the other political and religious; he wished at one and the same time to consolidate the material forces of his government and to give his Protestant subjects, lately his own brethren, the legal liberty and security which they needed for their creed’s sake, and to which they had a right.

He began, about the middle of October, 1596, by bringing Rosny into the council of finance, saying to him, “You promise me, you know, to be a good manager, and that you and I shall lop arms and legs from Madame Grivelee, as you have so often told me could be done.” Madame Grivelee (Mrs. Pickings) was, in the language of the day, she who presided over illicit gains made in the administration of the public finances. Rosny at once undertook to accomplish that which he had promised the king. He made, in person, a minute examination of four receiver-generals’ offices, in order, with that to guide him, to get a correct idea of the amount derived from imposts and the royal revenues, and of what became of this amount in its passage from collection to employment for the defrayal of the expenses of the state. “When he went on his inspection, the treasurers of France, receivers, accountants, comptrollers, either absented themselves or refused to produce him any register; he suspended some, frightened others, surmounted the obstacles of every kind that were put in his way, and he proved, from the principal items of receipt and expenditure at these four general offices, so much and such fraudulence that he collected five hundred thousand crowns (one million five hundred thousand livres of those times, and about five million four hundred and ninety thousand francs of the present date), had these sums placed in seventy carts, and drove them to Rouen, where the king was and where the Assembly of Notables had just met.”

It was not the states-general properly so called that Henry IV. had convoked; he had considered that his authority was still too feebly constituted, and even too much disputed in a portion of the kingdom, to allow him to put it to such a test; and honest and sensible patriots had been of the same opinion D’Aubigne himself, the most independent and fault-finding spirit amongst his contemporaries, expressly says, “The troubles which were not yet extinguished in France did not admit of a larger convocation; the hearts of the people were not yet subdued and kneaded to obedience, as appeared from the excitement which supervened.” [Histoire universelle, t. iii. p. 526.] Besides, Henry himself acknowledged, in the circular which he published on the 25th of July, 1596, at this juncture, the superior agency of the states-general. “We would gladly have brought them together in full assembly,” he said, “if the armed efforts of our enemies allowed of any longer delay in finding a remedy for the plague which is racking us so violently; our intent is, pending the coming of the said states, to put a stop to all these disorders in the best and quickest way possible.” “The king, moreover,” says Sully, “had no idea of imitating the kings his predecessors in predilection for, and appointment of, certain deputies for whom he had a particular fancy; but he referred the nomination thereof to them of the church, of the noblesse, and of the people; and when they were assembled, he prescribed to them no rules, forms, or limits, but left them complete freedom of their opinions, utterances, suffrages, and deliberations.” [OEconomies royales, t. iii. p. 29.] The notables met at Rouen to the number of eighty, nine of the clergy, nineteen of the noblesse, fifty-two of the third estate. The king opened the assembly on the 4th of November, 1596, with these words, full of dignity, and powerful in their vivid simplicity: “If I desired to win the title of orator, I would have learned by rote some fine, long speech, and would deliver it to you with proper gravity. But, gentlemen, my desire prompts me towards two more glorious titles, the names of deliverer and restorer of this kingdom. In order to attain whereto I have gathered you together. You know to your cost, as I to mine, that when it pleased God to call me to this crown, I found France not only all but ruined, but almost entirely lost to Frenchmen. By the divine favor, by the prayers and the good counsels of my servants who are not in the profession of arms, by the sword of my brave and generous noblesse, from whom I single out not the princes, upon the honor of a gentleman, as the holders of our proudest title, and by my own pains and labors, I have preserved her from perdition. Let us now preserve her from ruin. Share, my dear subjects, in this second triumph as you did in the first. I have not summoned you, like my predecessors, to get your approbation of their own wills. I have had you assembled in order to receive your counsels, put faith in them, follow them, in short, place myself under guardianship in your hands; a desire but little congenial to kings, graybeards, and conquerors. But the violent love I feel towards my subjects, and the extreme desire I have to add those two proud titles to that of king, make everything easy and honorable to me.”

L’Estoile relates that the king’s favorite, Gabrielle d’Estrees, was at the session behind some tapestry, and that, Henry IV. having asked what she thought of his speech, she answered, “I never heard better spoken; only I was astonished that you spoke of placing yourself under guardianship.” “Ventre saint-gris,” replied the king, “that is true; but I mean with my sword by my side.” [Journal de Pierre l’Estoile, t. iii. p. 185.]

The assembly of notables sat from November 4, 1596, to January 29, 1597, without introducing into the financial regimen any really effective reforms; the rating board (conseil de raison), the institution of which they had demanded of the king, in connection with the fixing of imposts and employment of public revenues, was tried without success, and was not long before, of its own accord, resigning its power into the king’s hands; but the mere convocation of this assembly was a striking instance of the homage paid by Henry IV. to that fundamental maxim of free government, which, as early as under Louis XI., Philip de Commynes expressed in these terms: “There is no king or lord on earth who hath power, over and above his own property, to put a single penny on his subjects without grant and consent of those who have to pay, unless by tyranny and violence.” The ideas expressed and the counsels given by the assembly of notables were not, however, without good effect upon the general administration of the state; but the principal and most salutary result of its presence and influence was the personal authority which Sully drew from it, and of which he did not hesitate to make full use. Having become superintendent-general of finance and grand master of the ordnance, he exerted all his power to put in practice, as regarded the financial department, a system of receipts and expenses, and as regarded materials for the service of war, the reforms and maxims of economy, accountability, and supervision, which were suggested to him by his great good sense, and in which Henry IV. supported him with the spirit of one who well appreciated the strength they conferred upon his government, civil and military.

His relations with the Protestants gave him embarrassments to surmount and reforms to accomplish of quite a different sort, and more difficult still. At his accession, their satisfaction had not been untinged by disquietude; they foresaw the sacrifices the king would be obliged to make to his new and powerful friends the Catholics. His conversion to Catholicism threw into more or less open opposition the most zealous and some of the ambitious members of his late church. It was not long before their feelings burst forth in reproaches, alarms, and attacks. In 1597, a pamphlet, entitled The Plaints of the Reformed Churches of France [Memoires de la Ligue, t. vi. pp. 428-486], was published and spread prodigiously. “None can take it ill,” said the anonymous author, “that we who make profession of the Reformed religion should come forward to get a hearing for our plaints touching so many deeds of outrage, violence, and injustice which are daily done to us, and done not here or there, but in all places of the realm; done at a time, under a reign in which they seemed less likely, and which ought to have given us better hopes. . . . We, sir, are neither Spaniards nor Leaguers; we have had such happiness as to see you, almost born and cradled, at any rate brought up, amongst us; we have employed our properties, our lives, in order to prevent the effects of ill will on the part of those who, from your cradle, sought your ruin; we have, with you and under your wise and valiant leadership, made the chiefest efforts for the preservation of the crown, which, thank God, is now upon your head. . . . We do beseech you, sir, to give us permission to have the particulars of our grievances heard both by your Majesty and all your French, for we do make plaint of all the French. Not that in so great and populous a kingdom we should imagine that there are not still to be found some whose hearts bleed to see indignities so inhuman; but of what avail to us is all they may have in them of what is good, humane, and French? A part of them are so soft, so timorous, that they would not so much as dare to show a symptom of not liking that which displeases them; and if, when they see us so maltreated, they do summon up sufficient boldness to look another way, and think that they have done but their duty, still do they tremble with fear of being taken for favorers of heretics.”

The writer then enters upon an exposition of all the persecutions, all the acts of injustice, all the evils of every kind that the reformers have to suffer. He lays the blame of them, as he has just said, upon the whole French community, the noblesse, the commons, the magistracy, as well as the Catholic priests and monks; he enumerates a multitude of special facts in support of his plaints. “Good God!” he cries, “that there should be no class, no estate in France, from which we can hope for any relief! None from which we may not fear lest ruin come upon us!” And he ends by saying, “Stem, then, sir, with your good will and your authority, the tide of our troubles. Direct your counsels towards giving us some security. Accustom your kingdom to at least endure us, if it will not love us. We demand of your Majesty an edict which may give us enjoyment of that which is common to all your subjects, that is to say, of far less than you have granted to your enemies, your rebels of the League.”

We will not stop to inquire whether the matters stated in these plaints are authentic or disputable, accurate or exaggerated; it is probable that they contain a great deal of truth, and that, even under Henry IV., the Protestants had many sufferings to endure and disregarded rights to recover. The mistake they made and the injustice they showed consisted in not taking into, account all the good that Henry IV. had done them and was daily doing them, and in calling upon him, at a moment’s notice, to secure to them by an edict all the good that it was not in his power to do them. We purpose just to give a brief summary of the ameliorations introduced into their position under him, even before the edict of Nantes, and to transfer the responsibility for all they still lacked to the cause indicated by themselves in their plaints, when they take to task all the French on the Catholic side, who, in the sixteenth century, disregarded in France the rights of creed and of religious life, just as the Protestants themselves disregarded them in England so far as the Catholics were concerned.

One fact immediately deserves to be pointed out; and that is the number and the practical character of meetings officially held at this period by the Protestants: an indisputable proof of the liberty they enjoyed. These meetings were of two sorts; one, the synods, were for the purpose of regulating their faith, their worship, their purely religious affairs. Between 1594 and 1609, under the sway of Henry IV., Catholic king, seven national synods of the Protestant church in France held their sessions in seven different towns, and discussed with perfect freedom such questions of religious doctrine and discipline as were interesting to them. At the same epoch, between 1593 and 1608, the French Protestants met at eleven assemblies, specially summoned to deliberate, not in these cases upon questions of faith and religious discipline, but upon their temporal and political interests, upon their relations towards the state, and upon the conduct they were to adopt under the circumstances of their times. The principle to which minds, and even matters, to a certain extent, have now attained, the deep-seated separation between the civil and the religious life, and their mutual independence, this higher principle was unknown to the sixteenth century; the believer and the citizen were then but one, and the efforts of laws and governments were directed towards bringing the whole nation entire into the same state of unity. And as they did not succeed therein, their attempts produced strife instead of unity, war instead of peace. When the French Protestants of the sixteenth century met in the assemblies which they themselves called political, they acted as one nation confronting another nation, and labored to form a state within state. We will borrow from the intelligent and learned Histoire d’Henri IV., by M. Poirson, (t. ii. pp. 497-500), a picture of one of those assemblies and its work. “After the king’s abjuration, and at the end of the year 1593, the French Huguenots renewed at Mantes their old union, and swore to live and die united in their profession of faith. Henry was in hopes that they would stop short at a religious demonstration; but they made it a starting-point for a new political and military organization on behalf of the Calvinistic party. They took advantage of a general permission granted them by Henry, and met, not in synod, but in general assembly, at the town of Sainte Foy, in the month of June, 1594. Thereupon they divided all France into nine great provinces or circles, composed each of several governments or provinces of the realm. Each circle had a separate council, composed of from five to seven members, and commissioned to fix and apportion the separate imposts, to keep up a standing army, to collect the supplies necessary for the maintenance and defence of the party. The Calvinistic republic had its general assemblies, composed of nine deputies or representatives from each of the nine circles. These assemblies were invested with authority to order, on the general account, all that the juncture required, that is to say, with a legislative power distinct from that of the crown and nation. . . . If the king ceased to pay the sums necessary to keep up the garrisons in the towns left to the Reformers, the governors were to seize the talliages in the hands of the king’s receivers, and apply the money to the payment of the garrisons. And in case the central power should attempt to repress these violent procedures, or to substitute as commandant in those places a Catholic for a Protestant, all the Calvinists of the locality and the neighboring districts were to unite and rise in order to give the assistance of the strong hand to the Protestant governors so attacked. Independently of the ordinary imposts, a special impost was laid on the Calvinists, and gave their leaders the disposal of a yearly sum of one hundred and twenty thousand livres (four hundred and forty thousand francs of the present day). The Calvinistic party had thus a territorial area, an administration, finances, a legislative power and an executive power independent of those of the country; or, in other words, the means of taking resolutions contrary to those of the mass of the nation, and of upholding them by revolt. All they wanted was a Huguenot stadtholder to oppose to the King of France, and they were looking out for one.”

Henry IV. did not delude himself as to the tendency of such organization amongst those of his late party. “He rebuffed very sternly (and wisely),” says L’Estoile, “those who spoke to him of it. ‘As for a protector,’ he told them, ‘he would have them to understand that there was no other protector in France but himself for one side or the other; the first man who should be so daring as to assume the title would do so at the risk of his life; he might be quite certain of that.’” Had Henry IV. been permitted to read the secrets of a not so very distant future, he might have told the Huguenots of his day that the time was not so far off when their pretension to political organization and to the formation of a state within the state, would compromise their religious liberty and furnish the absolute government of Louis XIV. with excuses for abolishing the protective edict which Henry IV.‘s sympathy was on the point of granting them, and which, so far as its purely religious provisions went, was duly respected by the sagacity of Cardinal Richelieu.

After his conversion to Catholicism, and during the whole of his reign, it was one of Henry IV.‘s constant anxieties to show himself well-disposed towards his old friends, and to do for them all he could do without compromising the public peace in France, or abdicating in his own person the authority he needed to maintain order and peace. Some of the edicts published by his predecessors during the intervals of civil war, notably the edict of Poitiers issued by Henry III., had granted the Protestants free exercise of their worship in the castles of the Calvinistic lords who had jurisdiction, to the number of thirty-five hundred, and in the faubourgs of one town or borough of each bailiwick of the realm, except the bailiwick of Paris. Further, the holding of properties and heritages, union by marriage with Catholics, and the admission of Protestants to the employments, offices, and dignities of the realm, were recognized by this edict. These rights, in black and white, had often been violated by the different authorities, or suspended during the wars; Henry IV. maintained them or put them in force again, and supported the application of them or decreed the extension of them. It was calculated that there were in France eight hundred towns and three hundred bailiwicks or seneschalties; the treaties concluded with the League had expressly prohibited the exercise of Protestant worship in forty towns and seventeen bailiwicks; Henry IV. tolerated it everywhere else. The prohibition was strict as regarded Paris and ten leagues round; but, as early as 1594, three months after his entry into Paris, Henry aided the Reformers in the unostentatious celebration of their own form in the Faubourg St. Germain; and he authorized the use of it at court for religious ceremonies, especially for marriages. Three successive edicts, two issued at Mantes in 1591 and 1593, and the third at St. Germain in 1597, confirmed and developed these signs of progress in the path of religious liberty.

The Castle of St. Germain in the Reign Of Henry IV.—107

The Parliaments had in general refused to enregister these decrees a fact which gave them an incomplete and provisional character; but equitable and persistent measures on the king’s part prevailed upon the Parliament of Paris to enregister the edict of St. Germain; and the Parliament of Dijon and nearly all the other Parliaments of the kingdom followed this example. One of the principal provisions of this last edict declared Protestants competent to fill all the offices and dignities of the kingdom. It had many times been inserted in preceding edicts, but always rejected by the Parliaments or formally revoked. Henry IV. brought it into force and credit by putting it extensively in practice, without entering upon discussion of it and without adding any comment upon it. In 1590 he had given Palleseuil the government of Neuchatel in Normandy; he had introduced Hurault Dufay, Du Plessis-Mornay and Rosny into the council of state; in 1594 he had appointed the last a member of the council of finance; Soffray de Colignon, La Force, Lesdiguieres, and Sancy were summoned to the most important functions; Turenne, in 1594, was raised to the dignity of marshal of France; and in 1595 La Tremoille was made duke and peer. They were all Protestants. Their number and their rank put the matter beyond all dispute; it was a natural consequence of the social condition of France; it became an habitual practice with the government.

Nevertheless the complaints and requirements of the malcontent Protestants continued, and became day by day more vehement; in 1596 and 1597 the assemblies of Saumur, Loudun, and Vendome became their organs of expression; and messengers were sent with them to the camp before La Fere, which Henry IV. was at that time besieging. He deferred his reply. Two of the principal Protestant leaders, the Dukes of Bouillon and La Tremoille, suddenly took extreme measures; they left the king and his army, carrying off their troops with them, one to Auvergne and the other to Poitou. The deputies from the assembly of Loudun started back again at the same time, as if for the purpose of giving the word to arm in their provinces. Du Plessis-Mornay and his wife, the most zealous of the Protestants who were faithful at the same time to their cause and to the king, bear witness to this threatening crisis. “The deputies,” says Madame du Mornay in her Memoires, “returned each to his own province, with the intention of taking the cure of their evils into their own hands, whence would infallibly have ensued trouble enough to complete the ruin of this state had not the king, by the management of M. du Plessis, been warned of this imminent danger, and by him persuaded to send off and treat in good earnest with the said assembly.” “These gentry, rebuffed at court,” says Du Plessis-Mornay himself in a letter to the Duke of Bouillon, “have resolved to take the cure into their own hands; to that end they have been authorized, and by actions which do not seem to lead them directly thither they will find that they have passed the Rubicon right merrily.” It was as it were a new and a Protestant League just coming to a head. Henry IV. was at that time engaged in the most important negotiation of his reign. After a long and difficult siege he had just retaken. Amiens. He thought it a favorable moment at which to treat for peace with Spain, and put an end to an onerous war which he had been for so long sustaining. He informed the Queen of England of his intention, “begging her, if the position of her affairs did not permit her to take part in the treaty he was meditating with Spain, to let him know clearly what he must do to preserve amity and good understanding between the two crowns, for he would always prefer an ally like her to reconciled foes such as the Spaniards.” He addressed the same notification to the Dutch government. Elizabeth on one hand and the states-general on the other tried to dissuade him from peace with Spain, and to get him actively re-engaged in the strife from which they were not disposed to emerge. He persisted in his purpose whilst setting before them his reasons for it, and binding himself to second faithfully their efforts by all pacific means. A congress was opened in January, 1598, at Vervins in Picardy, through the mediation of Pope Clement VIII., anxious to become the pacificator of Catholic Europe. The French plenipotentiaries, Pomponne de Bellievre and Brulart de Silleri, had instructions to obtain the restoration to the king of all towns and places taken by the Spaniards from France since the treaty of peace of Cateau-Cambresis, and to have the Queen of England and the United Provinces, if they testified a desire for it, included in the treaty, or, at any rate, to secure for them a truce. After three months’ conferences the treaty of peace was concluded at Vervins on the 2d of May, 1598, the principal condition being, that King Philip II. should restore to France the towns of Calais, Ardres, Doullens, Le Catelet, and Blavet; that he should re-enter upon possession of the countship of Charolais; and that, if either of the two sovereigns had any claims to make against one of the states their allies in this treaty, “he should prosecute them only by way of law, before competent judges, and not by force, in any manner whatever.” The Queen of England took no decisive resolution. When once the treaty was concluded, Henry IV., on signing it, said to the Duke of Epernon, “With this stroke of my pen I have just done more exploits than I should have done in a long while with the best swords in my kingdom.”

A month before the conclusion of the treaty of peace at Vervins with Philip II., Henry IV. had signed and published at Paris on the 13th of April, 1598, the edict of Nantes, his treaty of peace with the Protestant malcontents. This treaty, drawn up in ninety-two open and fifty-six secret articles, was a code of old and new laws regulating the civil and religious position of Protestants in France, the conditions and guarantees of their worship, their liberties, and their special obligations in their relations whether with the crown or with their Catholic fellow-countrymen. By this code Henry IV. added a great deal to the rights of the Protestants and to the duties of the state towards them. Their worship was authorized not only in the castles of the lords high-justiciary, who numbered thirty-five hundred, but also in the castles of simple noblemen who enjoyed no high-justiciary rights, provided that the number of those present did not exceed thirty. Two towns or two boroughs, instead of one, had the same religious rights in each bailiwick or seneschalty of the kingdom. The state was charged with the duty of providing for the salaries of the Protestant ministers and rectors in their colleges or schools, and an annual sum of one hundred and sixty-five thousand livres of those times (four hundred and ninety-five thousand francs of the present day) was allowed for that purpose. Donations and legacies to be so applied were authorized. The children of Protestants were admitted into the universities, colleges, schools, and hospitals, without distinction between them and Catholics. There was great difficulty in securing for them, in all the Parliaments of the kingdom, impartial justice; and a special chamber, called the edict-chamber, was instituted for the trial of all causes in which they were interested. Catholic judges could not sit in this chamber unless with their consent and on their presentation. In the Parliaments of Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Grenoble, the edict-chamber was composed of two presidents, one a Catholic and the other a Reformer, and of twelve councillors, of whom six were Reformers. The Parliaments had hitherto refused to admit Reformers into their midst; in the end the Parliament of Paris admitted six, one into the edict-chamber and five into the appeal-chamber (enquetes). The edict of Nantes retained, at first for eight years and then for four more, in the hands of the Protestants the towns which war or treaties had put in their possession, and which numbered, it is said, two hundred. The king was bound to bear the burden of keeping up their fortifications and paying their garrisons; and Henry IV. devoted to that object five hundred and forty thousand livres of those times, or about two million francs of our day. When the edict thus regulating the position and rights of Protestants was published, it was no longer on their part, but on that of the Catholics, that lively protests were raised. Many Catholics violently opposed the execution of the new law; they got up processions at Tours to excite the populace against the edict, and at Le Mans to induce the Parliament of Normandy to reject it. The Parliament of Paris put in the way of its registration retardations which seemed to forebode a refusal. Henry summoned to the Louvre deputies from all the chambers. “What I have done,” he said to them, “is for the good of peace. I have made it abroad; I wish to make it at home. Necessity forced me to this decree. They who would prevent it from passing would have war. You see me in my closet. I speak to you, not in royal robe, or with sword and cape, as my predecessors did, nor as a prince receiving an embassy, but as a father of a family in his doublet conversing familiarly with his children. It is said that I am minded to favor them of the religion; there is a mind to entertain some mistrust of me. . . . I know that cabals have been got up in the Parliament, that seditious preachers have been set on. . . . The preachers utter words by way of doctrine for to build up rather than pull down sedition. That is the road formerly, taken to the making of barricades, and to proceeding by degrees to the parricide of the late king. I will cut the roots of all these factions; I will make short work of those who foment them. I have scaled the walls of cities; you may be sure I shall scale barricades. You must consider that what I am doing is for a good purpose, and let my past behavior go bail for it.”

Parliaments and Protestants, all saw that they had to do not only with a strong-willed king, but with a judicious and clearsighted man, a true French patriot, who was sincerely concerned for the public interest, and who had won his spurs in the art of governing parties by making for each its own place in the state. It was scarcely five years ago that the king who was now publishing the edict of Nantes had become a Catholic; the Parliaments enregistered the decree. The Protestant malcontents resigned themselves to the necessity of being content with it. Whatever their imperfections and the objections that might be raised to them, the peace of Vervins and the edict of Narrtes were, amidst the obstacles and perils encountered at every step by the government of Henry IV., the two most timely and most beneficial acts in the world for France.

Four months after the conclusion of the treaty of Vervins, on the 13th of September, 1598, Philip II. died at the Escurial, “prison, cloister, and tomb all in one,” as M. Rosseau St. Hilaire very well remarks [Histoire d’Espagne, t. x. pp. 335-363], situated eight leagues from Madrid. Philip was so ill, and so cruelly racked by gout and fever, that it was doubted whether he could be removed thither; “but a collection of relics, amassed by his orders in Germany, had just arrived at the Escurial, and the festival of consecration was to take place within a few days. ‘I desire that I be borne alive thither where my tomb already is,’ said Philip.” He was laid in a litter borne by men who walked at a snail’s pace, in order to avoid all shaking. Forced to halt every instant, he took six days to do the eight leagues which separated him from his last resting-place. There he died in atrocious agonies, and after a very painful operation, endured with unalterable courage and calmness; he had ordered to be placed in front of his bed the bier in which his body was to lie and the crucifix which his father, Charles V., at his death in the monastery of Yuste, had held in his hand. During a reign of forty-two years Philip II. was, systematically and at any price, on the score of what he regarded as the divine right of the Catholic church and of his own kingship, the patron of absolute power in Europe. Earnest and sincere in his faith, licentious without open scandal in his private life, unscrupulous and pitiless in the service of the religious and political cause he had embraced, he was capable of any lie, one might almost say of any crime, without having his conscience troubled by it. A wicked man and a frightful example of what a naturally cold and hard spirit may become when it is a prey to all the temptations of despotism and to two sole passions, egotism and fanaticism.

After the death of Philip II. and during the first years of the reign of his son Philip III., war continued between Spain on one side, and England, the United Provinces, and the German Protestants on the other, but languidly and without any results to signify. Henry IV. held aloof from the strife, all the while permitting his Huguenot subjects to take part in it freely and at their own risks. On the 3d of April, 1603, a second great royal personage, Queen Elizabeth, disappeared from the scene. She had been, as regards the Protestantism of Europe, what Philip II. had been, as regards Catholicism, a powerful and able patron; but, what Philip II. did from fanatical conviction, Elizabeth did from patriotic feeling; she had small faith in Calvinistic doctrines, and no liking for Puritanic sects; the Catholic church, the power of the pope excepted, was more to her mind than the Anglican church, and her private preferences differed greatly from her public practices. Besides, she combined with the exigencies of a king’s position the instincts of a woman; she had the vanities rather than the weaknesses of one; she would fain have inspired and responded to the passions natural to one; but policy always had the dominion over her sentiments without extinguishing them, and the proud sovereign sent to the block the overweening and almost rebel subject whom she afterwards grievously regretted. These inconsistent resolutions and emotions caused Elizabeth’s life to be one of agitation, though without warmth, and devoid of serenity as of sweetness. And so, when she grew old, she was disgusted with it and weary of it; she took no pleasure any more in thing or person; she could no longer bear herself, either in her court or in her bed or elsewhere; she decked herself out to lie stretched upon cushions and there remain motionless, casting about her vague glances which seemed to seek after that for which she did not ask. She ended by repelling her physicians and even refusing nourishment. When her ministers saw her thus, almost insensible and dying, they were emboldened to remind her of what she had said to them one day at White-Hall, “My throne must be a king’s throne.” At this reminder she seemed to rouse herself, and repeated the same words, adding, “I will not have a rascal (vaurien) to succeed me.” Sir Robert Cecil asked her what she meant by that expression. “I tell you that I must have a king to succeed me; who can that be but my cousin of Scotland?” After having indicated the King of Scotland, James Stuart, son of the fair rival whom she had sent to the block, Elizabeth remained speechless. The Archbishop of Canterbury commenced praying, breaking off at intervals; twice the queen signed to him to go on. Her advisers returned in the evening, and begged her to indicate to them by signs if she were still of the same mind; she raised her arms and crossed them above her head. Then she seemed to fall into a dreamy state. At three o’clock, during the night, she quietly passed away. Some few hours afterwards, her counsellors in assembly resolved to proclaim James Stuart, King of Scotland, King of England, as the nearest of kin to the late queen, and indicated by her on her death-bed.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century Henry IV. was the only one remaining of the three great sovereigns who, during the sixteenth, had disputed, as regarded religion and politics, the preponderance in Europe. He had succeeded in all his kingly enterprises; he had become a Catholic in France without ceasing to be the prop of the Protestants in Europe; he had made peace with Spain without embroiling himself with England, Holland, and Lutheran Germany. He had shot up, as regarded ability and influence, in the eyes of all Europe. It was just then that he gave the strongest proof of his great judgment and political sagacity; he was not intoxicated with success; he did not abuse his power; he did not aspire to distant conquests or brilliant achievements; he concerned himself chiefly with the establishment of public order in his kingdom and with his people’s prosperity. His well-known saying, “I want all my peasantry to have a fowl in the pot every Sunday,” was a desire worthy of Louis XII. Henry IV. had a sympathetic nature; his grandeur did not lead him to forget the nameless multitudes whose fate depended upon his government.

He had, besides, the rich, productive, varied, inquiring mind of one who took an interest not only in the welfare of the French peasantry, but in the progress of the whole French community, progress agricultural, industrial, commercial, scientific, and literary. The conversation of an independent thinker like Montaigne had, at the least, as much attraction for him as that of his comrades in arms. Long before Henry IV. was King of France, on the 19th of December, 1584, Montaigne, wrote, “The King of Navarre came to see me at Montaigne where he had never been before, and was there two days, attended by my people without any of his own officers; he permitted neither tasting (essai) nor state-banquet (couvert), and slept in my bed.” On the 24th of October, 1587, after winning the battle of Contras, Henry stopped to dine at Montaigne’s house, though its possessor had remained faithful to Henry III., whose troops had just lost the battle; and on the 18th of January, 1590, when the King of Navarre, now become King of France, besieged and took the town of Lisieux, Montaigne wrote to him, “All the time through, sir, I have observed in you this same fortune that is now yours; and you may remember that even when I had to make confession thereof to my parish-priest I did not omit to regard your successes with a kindly eye. Now, with more reason and freedom, I hug them to my heart. Yonder they do you service by effects; but they do you no less service here by reputation. The report goes as far as the shot. We could not derive from the justice of your cause arguments so powerful in sustaining or reducing your subjects as we do from the news of the prosperity of your enterprises.”

Abroad the policy of Henry IV. was as judicious and far sighted as it was just and sympathetic at home. There has been much writing and dissertation about what has been called his grand design. This name has been given to a plan for the religious and political organization of Christendom, consisting in the division of Europe amongst three religions, the Catholic, the Calvinistic, and the Lutheran, and into fifteen states, great and small, monarchical or republican, with equal rights, alone recognized as members of the Christian confederation, regulating in concert their common affairs, and pacifically making up their differences, whilst all the while preserving their national existence. This plan is lengthily and approvingly set forth, several times over, in the OEconomies royales, which Sully’s secretaries wrote at his suggestion, and probably sometimes at his dictation. Henry IV. was a prince as expansive in ideas as he was inventive, who was a master of the art of pleasing, and himself took great pleasure in the freedom and unconstraint of conversation. No doubt the notions of the grand design often came into his head, and he often talked about them to Sully, his confidant in what he thought as well as in what he did. Sully, for his part was a methodical spirit, a regular downright putter in practice, evidently struck and charmed by the richness and grandeur of the prospects placed before his eyes by his king, and feeling pleasure in shedding light upon them whilst giving them a more positive and more complete shape than belonged to their first and original appearance. And thus came down to us the grand design, which, so far as Henry IV. was concerned, was never a definite project. His true external policy was much more real and practical. He had seen and experienced the evils of religious hatred and persecution. He had been a great sufferer from the supremacy of the house of Austria in Europe, and he had for a long while opposed it. When he became the most puissant and most regarded of European kings, he set his heart very strongly on two things—toleration for the three religions which had succeeded in establishing themselves in Europe and showing themselves capable of contending one against another, and the abasement of the house of Austria, which, even after the death of Charles V. and of Philip II., remained the real and the formidable rival of France. The external policy of Henry from the treaty of Vervins to his death, was religious peace in Europe and the alliance of Catholic France with Protestant England and Germany against Spain and Austria. He showed constant respect and deference towards the papacy, a power highly regarded in both the rival camps, though much fallen from the substantial importance it had possessed in Europe during the middle ages. French policy striving against Spanish policy, such was the true and the only serious characteristic of the grand design.

Four men, very unequal in influence as well as merit, Sully, Villeroi, Du Plessis-Mornay, and D’Aubigne, did Henry IV. effective service, by very different processes and in very different degrees, towards establishing and rendering successful this internal and external policy. Three were Protestants; Villeroi alone was a Catholic. Sully is beyond comparison with the other three. He is the only one whom Henry IV. called my friend; the only one who had participated in all the life and all the government of Henry IV., his evil as well as his exalted fortunes, his most painful embarrassments at home as well as his greatest political acts; the only one whose name has remained inseparably connected with that of a master whom he served without servility as well as without any attempt to domineer. There is no idea of entering here upon his personal history; we would only indicate his place in that of his king. Maximilian de Bethune-Rosny, born in 1559, and six years younger than Henry of Navarre, was barely seventeen when in 1576 he attended Henry on his flight from the court of France to go and recover in Navarre his independence of position and character. Rosny was content at first to serve him as a volunteer, “in order,” he said, “to learn the profession of arms from its first rudiments.” He speedily did himself honor in several actions. In 1580 the King of Navarre took him as chamberlain and counsellor. On becoming King of France, Henry IV., in 1594, made him secretary of state; in 1596, put him on the council of finance; in 1597, appointed him grand surveyor of France, and, in 1599, superintendent-general of finance and master of the ordnance. In 1602 he was made Marquis de Rosny and councillor of honor in the Parliament; then governor of the Bastille, superintendent of fortifications, and surveyor of Paris; in 1603, governor of Poitou. Lastly, in 1606, his estate of Sully-sur-Loire was raised to a duchy-peerage, and he was living under this name, which has become his historical name, when, in 1610, the assassination of Henry IV. sent into retirement, for thirty-one years, the confidant of all his thoughts and the principal minister of a reign which, independently of the sums usefully expended for the service of the state and the advancement of public prosperity, had extinguished, according to the most trustworthy evidence, two hundred and thirty-five millions of debts, and which left in the coffers of the state, in ready money or in safe securities, forty-three million, one hundred and thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and ninety livres.

Nicholas de Neufville, Lord of Villeroi, who was born in 1543, and whose grandfather had been secretary of state under Francis I., was, whilst Henry III. was still reigning, member of a small secret council at which all questions relating to Protestants were treated of. Though a strict Catholic, and convinced that the King of France ought to be openly in the ranks of the Catholics, and to govern with their support, he sometimes gave Henry III. some free-spoken and wise counsels. When he saw him spending his time with the brotherhoods of penitents whose head he had declared himself, “Sir,” said he, “debts and obligations are considered according to dates, and therefore old debts ought to be paid before new ones. You were King of France before you were head of the brotherhoods; your conscience binds you to render to the kingship that which you owe it rather than to the fraternity that which you have promised it. You can excuse yourself from one, but not from the other. You only wear the sackcloth when you please, but you have the crown always on your head.” When the wars of religion broke out, when the League took form and Henry de Guise had been assassinated at Blois, Villeroi, naturally a Leaguer and a moderate Leaguer, became the immediate adviser of the Duke of Mayenne. After Henry III.‘s death, as soon as he heard that Henry IV. promised to have himself instructed in the Catholic religion, he announced his intention of recognizing him if he held to this engagement; and he held to his own, for he was during five years the intermediary between Henry IV. and Mayenne, incessantly laboring to reconcile them, and to prevent the estates of the League from giving the crown of France to a Spanish princess. Villeroi was a Leaguer of the patriotically French type. And so Henry IV., as soon as he was firm upon his throne, summoned him to his councils, and confided to him the direction of foreign affairs. The late Leaguer sat beside Sully, and exerted himself to give the prevalence, in Henry IV.‘s external policy, to Catholic maxims and alliances, whilst Sully, remaining firmly Protestant in the service of his king turned Catholic, continued to be in foreign matters the champion of Protestant policy and alliances. There was thus seen, during the sixteenth century, in the French monarchy, a phenomenon which was to repeat itself during the eighteenth in the republic of the United States of America, when, in 1789, its president, Washington, summoned to his cabinet Hamilton and Jefferson together, one the stanchest of the aristocratic federalists and the other the warm defender of democratic principles and tendencies. Washington, in his lofty and calm impartiality, considered that, to govern the nascent republic, he had need of both; and he found a way, in fact, to make both of service to him. Henry IV. had perceived himself to be in an analogous position with France and Europe divided between Catholics and Protestants, whom he aspired to pacificate.

He likewise succeeded. An incomplete success, however, as generally. happens when the point attained is an adjournment of knotty questions which war has vainly attempted to cut, and the course of ideas and events has not yet had time to unravel.

Henry IV. made so great a case of Villeroi’s co-operation and influence, that, without loving him as he loved Sully, he upheld him and kept him as secretary of state for foreign affairs to the end of his reign. He precisely defined his peculiar merit when he said, “Princes have servants of all values and all sorts; some do their own business before that of their master; others do their master’s and do not forget their own; but Villeroi believes that his master’s business is his own, and he bestows thereon the same zeal that another does in pushing his own suit or laboring at his own vine.” Though short and frigidly written, the Memoires of Villeroi give, in fact, the idea of a man absorbed in his commission and regarding it as his own business as well as that of his king and country.

Philip du Plessis-Mornay occupied a smaller place than Sully and Villeroi in the government of Henry IV.; but he held and deserves to keep a great one in the history of his times. He was the most eminent and also the most moderate of the men of profound piety and conviction of whom the Reformation had made a complete conquest, soul and body, and who placed their public fidelity to their religious creed above every other interest and every other affair in this world. He openly blamed and bitterly deplored Henry IV.‘s conversion to Catholicism, but he did not ignore the weighty motives for it; his disapproval and his vexation did not make him forget the great qualities of his king or the services he was rendering France, or his own duty and his earlier feelings towards him. This unbending Protestant, who had contributed as much as anybody to put Henry IV. on the throne, who had been admitted further than anybody, except Sully, to his intimacy, who ever regretted that his king had abandoned his faith, who braved all perils and all disgraces to keep and maintain his own, this Mornay, malcontent, saddened, all but banished from court, assailed by his friends’ irritation and touched by their sufferings, never took part against the king whom he blamed, and of whom he thought he had to complain, in any faction or any intrigue; on the contrary, he remained unshakably faithful to him, incessantly striving to maintain or re-establish in the Protestant church in France some little order and peace, and between the Protestants and Henry IV. some little mutual confidence and friendliness. Mornay had made up his mind to serve forever a king who had saved his country. He remained steadfast and active in his creed, but without falling beneath the yoke of any narrow-minded idea, preserving his patriotic good sense in the midst of his fervent piety, and bearing with sorrowful constancy his friends’ bursts of anger and his king’s exhibitions of ingratitude. Between 1597 and 1605 three incidents supervened which put to the proof Henry IV.‘s feelings towards his old and faithful servant. In October, 1597, Mornay, still governor of Saumur, had gone to Angers to concert plans with Marshal de Brissac for an expedition which, by order of the king, they were to make into Brittany against the Duke of Mercoeur, not yet reduced to submission. As he was passing along the street with only three or four of his men, he was unexpectedly attacked by one Sieur de Saint-Phal, who, after calling upon him to give some explanation as to a disagreement that had taken place between them five months before, brutally struck him a blow on the head with a stick, knocked him down, immediately mounted a horse that was held all ready on the spot, and fled in haste, leaving Mornay in the hands of ten or a dozen accomplices, who dealt him several sword-thrusts as he was rising to defend himself, and who, in their turn, fled. Some passers-by hurried up; Mornay’s wounds were found to be slight; but the affair, which nobody hesitated to call murder, made a great noise; there was general indignation; the king was at once informed of it; and whilst the question was being discussed at Saumur whether Mornay ought to seek reparation by way of arms or by that of law, Henry IV. wrote to him in his own hand on the 8th of November, 1597:—

“M. du Plessis: I am extremely displeased at the outrage you have met with, wherein I participate both as king and as your friend. As the former I will do you justice and myself too. If I bore only the second title, you have none whose sword would be more ready to leap from its scabbard than mine, or who would put his life at your service more cheerfully than I. Take this for granted, that, in effect, I will render you the offices of king, master, and friend. And on this truthful assurance, I conclude, praying God to have you in His holy keeping.”

Saint-Phal remained for a long while concealed in the very district, amongst his relatives; but on the 12th of January, 1599, he was arrested and put in the Bastille; and, according to the desire of Mornay himself, the king decided that he should be brought before him, unarmed, should place one knee on the ground, should ask his pardon, and then, assuming his arms, should accordingly receive that pardon, first of all from Mornay, whom the king had not permitted to exact in another way the reparation due to him, and afterwards from the mouth of the king himself, together with a severe admonition to take heed to himself for the future. The affair having thus terminated, there was no more heard of Saint-Phal, and Mornay returned to Saumur with a striking mark of the king’s sympathy, who, in his own words, had felt pleasure “in avenging him as king and as friend.”

The second incident was of more political consequence, and neither the king nor Mornay conducted themselves with sufficient discretion and dignity. In July, 1598, Mornay published a treatise on the institution of the eucharist in the Christian church, how and by what degrees the mass was introduced in its place. It was not only an attack upon the fundamental dogma and cult of the Catholic church; the pope was expressly styled Antichrist in it. Clement VIII. wrote several times about it to Henry IV., complaining that a man of such high standing in the government and in the king’s regard should treat so insultingly a sovereign in alliance with the king, and head of the church to which the king belonged. The pope’s complaint came opportunely. Henry IV. was at this time desirous of obtaining from the court of Rome annulment of his marriage with Marguerite de Valois, that he might be enabled to contract another; he did not as yet say with whom. Mornay’s book was vigorously attacked, not only in point of doctrine, but in point of fact; he was charged with having built his foundation upon a large number of misquotations; and the Bishop of Evreux, M. du Perron, a great friend of the king’s, whom he had always supported and served, said that he was prepared to point out as such nearly five hundred. The dispute grew warm between the two theologians; Mornay demanded leave to prove the falsehood of the accusation; the bishop accepted the challenge. For all his defence of his book and his erudition, Mornay did not show any great hurry to enter upon the contest; and, on the other hand, the bishop reduced the number of the quotations against which he objected. The sum total of the quotations found fault with was fixed at sixty. A conference was summoned to look into them, and six commissioners, three Catholic and three Protestant, were appointed to give judgment; De Thou and Pithou amongst the former, Dufresne la Canaye and Casaubon amongst the latter. Erudition was worthily represented there, and there was every probability of justice. The conference met on the 4th of May, 1600, at Fontainebleau, in presence of the king and many great lords, magistrates, ecclesiastics, and distinguished spectators.

The Castle of Fontainbleau——124

Mornay began by owning that “out of four thousand quotations made by him it was unlikely that some would not be found wherein he might have erred, as he was human, but he was quite sure that it was never in bad faith.” He then said that, being pressed for time, he had not yet been able to collate more than nineteen out of the sixty quotations specially attacked. Of these nineteen nine only were examined at this first conference, and nearly all were found to be incorrect. Next day, Mornay was taken “with a violent seizure and repeated attacks of vomiting, which M. de la Riviere, the king’s premier physician, came and deposed to.” The conference was broken off, and not resumed afterwards. The king congratulated himself beyond measure at the result, and even on the part which he had taken. “Tell the truth,” said he to the Bishop of Evreux, “the good right had good need of aid;” and he wrote, on the 6th of May to the Duke of Epernon, “The diocese of Evreux has beaten that of Saumur. The bearer was present, and will tell you that I did wonders. Assuredly it is one of the greatest hits for the church of God that have been made for some time.” He evidently had it very much at heart that the pope should be well informed of what had taken place, and feel obliged to him for it. “Haven’t you wits to see that the king, in order to gratify the pope, has been pleased to sacrifice my father’s honor at his feet?” said young Philip de Mornay to some courtiers who were speaking to him about this sad affair. This language was reported to the king, who showed himself much hurt by it. “He is a young man beside himself with grief,” they said, “and it is his own father’s case.” “Young he is not,” replied the king; “he is forty years old, twenty in age and twenty from his father’s teaching.” The king’s own circle and his most distinguished servants gladly joined in his self-congratulation. “Well,” he said to Sully, “what think you of your pope?” “I think, sir,” answered Sully, “that he is more pope than you suppose; cannot you see that he gives a red hat to M. d’Evreux? Really, I never saw a man so dumbfounded, or one who defended himself so ill. If our religion had no better foundation than his crosswise legs and arms (Mornay habitually kept them so), I would abandon it rather to-day than to-morrow.” [OEconomies royales, t. iii. p. 346.]

Sully desired nothing better than to find Mornay at fault, and to see the king fully convinced of it. Jealousy is nowhere more wide-awake and more implacable than at courts. However, amongst the grandees present at the conference of Fontainebleau there were some who did not share the general impression. “I saw there,” said the Duke of Mayenne as he went away from it, “only a very old and very faithful servant very badly paid for so many services;” and, in spite of the king’s letter, the Duke of Epernon sent word to Mornay that he still took him for a gentleman of honor, and still remained his friend. Henry IV. himself, with his delicate and ready tact, was not slow to perceive that he had gone too far and had behaved badly. Being informed that Mornay was in deep suffering, he sent to him M. de Lomenie, his cabinet-secretary, to fully assure him that the king would ever be his good master and friend. “As for master,” said Mornay, “I am only too sensible of it; as for friend, he belongs not to me: I have known men to make attempts upon the king’s life, honor, and state, nay, upon his very bed; against them, the whole of them, he never displayed so much severity as against me alone, who have done him service all my life.” And he set out on his way back to Saumur without seeing the king again.

He returned thither with all he had dearest in the world, his wife, Charlotte Arbaleste de la Borde, his worthy partner in all his trials— trials of prosperity as well as adversity. She has full right to a few lines in this History, for it was she who preserved to us, in her Memoires, the picture, so salutary to contemplate, of the life and character of Mornay, in the midst of his friends’ outbursts of passion and his adversaries’ brutal exhibitions of hatred. As intelligent as she was devoted, she gave him aid in his theological studies and labors as well as in the confronting of public events. “During this expedition to Fontainebleau, I had remained,” she says, “at Paris, in extreme apprehension, recently recovered from a severe illness, harassed by the deadlock in our domestic affairs. And, as for all that, I felt it not in comparison with the inevitable mishap of this expedition. I had found for M. du Plessis all the books of which he might possibly have need, hunted up, with great diligence considering the short time, in the libraries of all our friends, and I got them into his hands, but somewhat late in the day, because it was too late in the day when he gave me the commission.” The private correspondence of these two noble persons is a fine example of conjugal and Christian union, virtue, and affection. In 1605, their only son, Philip de Mornay, a very distinguished young man, then twenty-six years of age, obtained Henry IV.‘s authority to go and serve in the army of the Prince of Orange, Maurice of Nassau, at deadly war with Spain. He was killed in it on the 23d of October, at the assault upon the town of Gueldres. On receiving news of his death, “I have now no son,” said his father; “therefore I have now no wife.” His sorrowful prediction was no delusion; six mouths after her son’s death Madame de Mornay succumbed, unable any longer to bear the burden she was supporting without a murmur. Her Memoires concludes with this expression: “It is but reasonable that this my book should end with him, as it was only undertaken to describe to him our pilgrimage in this life. And, since it hath pleased God, he hath sooner gone through, and more easily ended his own. Wherefore, indeed, if I feared not to cause affliction to M. du Plessis, who, the more mine grows upon me, makes me the more clearly perceive his affection, it would vex me extremely to survive him.”

On learning by letter from Prince Maurice that the young man was dead, Henry IV. said, with emotion, to those present, “I have lost the fairest hope of a gentleman in my kingdom. I am grieved for the father. I must send and comfort him. No father but he could have such a loss.” “He despatched on the instant,” says Madame de Mornay herself, “Sieur Bruneau, one of his secretaries, with very gracious letters to comfort us; with orders, nevertheless, not to present himself unless he were sure that we already knew of it otherwise, not wishing to be the first to tell us such sad news.” [Memoires, t. ii. p. 107.] This touching evidence of a king’s sympathy for a father’s grief effaced, no doubt, to some extent in Mornay’s mind his reminiscences of the conference at Fontainebleau; one thing is quite certain, that he continued to render Henry IV., in the synods and political assemblies of the Protestants, his usual good offices for the maintenance or re-establishment of peace and good understanding between the Catholic king and his malcontent former friends.

A third Protestant, Theodore Agrippa d’Aubigne, grandfather of Madame de Maintenon, has been reckoned here amongst not the councillors, certainly, but the familiar and still celebrated servants of Henry IV. He held no great post, and had no great influence with the king; he was, on every occasion, a valiant soldier, a zealous Protestant, an indefatigable lover and seeker of adventure, sometimes an independent thinker, frequently an eloquent and bold speaker, always a very sprightly companion. Henry IV. at one time employed him, at another held aloof from him, or forgot him, or considered him a mischief-maker, a faction-monger who must be put in the Bastille, and against whom, if it seemed good, there would be enough to put him on his trial. Madame de Chatillon, who took an interest in D’Aubigne, warned him of the danger, and urged him to depart that very evening. “I will think about it, madame,” said he; “I will implore God’s assistance, and I will see what I have to do.” . . . “The inspiration that came to me,” says he, “was to go next morning very early to see his Majesty, and, after having briefly set before him my past services, to ask him for a pension, which up to that time I had not felt inclined to do. The king, surprised, and at the same time well pleased to observe a something mercenary behind all my proud spirit, embraced me, and granted on the spot what I asked of him.” The next day D’Aubigne went to the Arsenal; Sully invited him to dinner, and took him to see the Bastille, assuring him that there was no longer any danger for him, but only since the last twenty-four hours. [La France Protestante, by MM. Haag, t. i. p. 170.] If D’Aubigne had not been a writer, he would be completely forgotten by this time, like so many other intriguing and turbulent adventurers, who make a great deal of fuss themselves, and try to bring everything about them into a fuss as long as they live, and who die without leaving any trace of their career. But D’Aubigne wrote a great deal both in prose and in verse; he wrote the Histoire universelle of his times, personal Memoires, tales, tragedies, and theological and satirical essays; and he wrote with sagacious, penetrating, unpremeditated wit, rare vigor, and original and almost profound talent for discerning and depicting situations and characters. It is the writer which has caused the man to live, and has assigned him a place in French literature even more than in French history. We purpose to quote two fragments of his, which will make us properly understand and appreciate both the writer and the man. During the civil war, in the reign of Henry III., D’Aubigne had made himself master of the Island of Oleron, had fortified it, and considered himself insufficiently rewarded by the King of Navarre, to whom he had meant to render, and had, in fact, rendered service. After the battle of Coutras, in 1587, he was sleeping with a comrade named Jacques de Caumont la Force, in the wardrobe of the chamber in which the King of Navarre slept. “La Force,” said D’Aubigne to his bed-fellow, “our master is a regular miser, and the most ungrateful mortal on the face of the earth.” “What dost say, D’Aubigne?” asked La Force, half asleep. “He says,” repeated the King of Navarre, who had heard all, “that I am a regular miser, and the most ungrateful mortal on the face of the earth.” D’Aubigne, somewhat disconcerted, was mum. “But,” he adds, “when daylight appeared, this prince, who liked neither rewarding nor punishing, did not for all that look any the more black at me, or give me a quarter-crown more.” Thirty years later, in 1617, after the collapse of the League and after the reign of Henry IV., D’Aubigne, wishing to describe the two leaders of the two great parties, sums them up in these terms: “The Duke of Mayenne had such probity as is human, a good nature and a liberality which made him most pleasant to those about him; his was a judicious mind, which made good use of experience, took the measure of everything by the card; a courage rather steady than dashing; take him for all in all, he might be called an excellent captain. King Henry IV. had all this, save the liberality; but to make up for that item, his rank caused expectations as to the future to blossom, which made the hardships of the present go down. He had, amongst his points of superiority to the Duke of Mayenne, a marvellous gift of promptitude and vivacity, and far beyond the average. We have seen him, a thousand times in his life, make pat replies without hearing the purport of a request, and forestall questions without committing himself. The Duke of Mayenne was incommoded by his great bodily bulk, which could not support the burden either of arms or of fatigue duty. The other, having worked all his men to a stand-still, would send for hounds and horses for to begin a hunt; and when his horses could go no farther, he would run down the game afoot. The former communicated his heaviness and his maladies to his army, undertaking no enterprise that he could not support in person; the other communicated his own liveliness to those about him, and his captains imitated him from complaisance and from emulation.”

Gabrielle D’estrees—130

These politicians, these Christians, these warriors had, in 1600, a grave question to solve for Henry IV., and grave counsel to give him. He was anxious to separate from his wife, Marguerite de Valois, who had, in fact, been separated from him for the last fifteen years, was leading a very irregular life, and had not brought him any children. But, in order to obtain from the pope annulment of the marriage, it was first necessary that Marguerite should consent to it, and at no price would she consent so long as the king’s favorite continued to be Gabrielle d’Estrees, whom she detested, and by whom Henry already had several children. The question arose in 1598, in connection with a son lately born to Gabrielle, who was constantly spreading reports that she would be the king’s wife. To give consistency to this report she took it into her head to have her son presented at baptism as a child of France, and an order was brought to Sully “to pay what was right to the heralds, trumpeters, and hautbois players who had performed at the baptism of Alexander, Monsieur, child of France.” After looking at the order, Sully detained it, and had another made out, which made no mention of Alexander. The men complained, saying, “Sir, the sum we ought to have for our attendance at the baptism of children of France has for a long while been fixed.” “Away, away!” said Sully, in a rage; “I’ll do nothing of the sort; there are no children of France.” And he told the king about it, who said, “There’s malice in that, but I will certainly stop it; tear up that order.” And turning to some of his courtiers, “See the tricks that people play, and the traps they lay for those who serve me well and after my own heart. An order hath been sent to M. de Rosny, with the design of offending me if he honored it, or of offending the Duchess of Beaufort if he repudiated it. I will see to it. Go to her, my friend,” he said to Rosny; “tell her what has taken place; satisfy her in so far as you can. If that is not sufficient, I will speak like the master, and not like the man.” Sully went to the cloister of St. Germain, where the Duchess of Beaufort was lodged, and told her that he came by the king’s command to inform her of what was going on. “I am aware of all,” said Gabrielle, “and do not care to know any more; I am not made as the king is, whom you persuade that black is white.” “Ho! ho! madame,” replied Sully, “since you take it in that way, I kiss your hands, and shall not fail to do my duty for all your furies.” He returned to the Louvre and told the king. “Here, come with me,” said Henry; “I will let you see that women have not possession of me, as certain malignant spirits spread about that they have.” He got into Sully’s carriage, went with him to the Duchess of Beaufort’s, and, taking her by the hand, said, “Now, madame, let us go into your room, and let nobody else enter except you, and Rosny, and me. I want to speak to you both, and teach you to be good friends together.” Then, having shut the door quite close, and holding Gabrielle with one hand and Rosny with the other, he said, “Good God! madame, what is the meaning of this? So you would vex me for sheer wantonness of heart in order to try my patience? By God, I swear to you that, if you continue these fashions of going on, you will find yourself very much out in your expectations. I see quite well that you have been put up to all this pleasantry in order to make me dismiss a servant whom I cannot do without, and who has always served me loyally for five and twenty years. By God, I will do nothing of the kind, and I declare to you that if I were reduced to such a necessity as to choose between losing one or the other, I could better do without ten mistresses like you than one servant like him.”

Gabrielle stormed, was disconsolate, wept, threw herself at the king’s feet, and, “seeing him more strong-minded than had been supposed by those who had counselled her to this escapade, began to calm herself,” says Sully, “and everything was set right again on every side.”

But Sully was not at the end of his embarrassments or of the sometimes feeble and sometimes sturdy fancies of his king. On the 10th of April, 1599, Gabrielle d’Estrees died so suddenly that, according to the bias of the times, when, in the highest ranks, crimes were so common that they were always considered possible and almost probable, she was at first supposed to have been poisoned; but there seemed to be no likelihood of this. The consent of Marguerite de Valois to the annulment of her marriage was obtained; and negotiations were opened at Rome by Arnold d’Ossat, who was made a cardinal, and by Brulart de Sillery, ambassador ad hoc. But a new difficulty supervened; not for the negotiators, who knew, or appeared to know, nothing about it, but for Sully. In three or four weeks after the death of Gabrielle d’Estrees Henry IV. was paying court to a new favorite. One morning, at Fontainebleau, just as he was going out hunting, he took Sully by the hand, led him into the first gallery, gave him a paper, and, turning the other way as if he were ashamed to see it read by Sully, “Read that,” said he, “and then tell me your opinion of it.” Sully found that it was a promise of marriage given to Mdlle. Henriette d’Entraigues, daughter of Francis de Balzac, Lord of Entraigues, and Marie Touchet, favorite of Charles IX. Sully went up to the king, holding in his hand the paper folded up.

“What do you think of it?” said the king. “Now, now, speak freely; your silence offends me far more than your most adverse expressions could. I misdoubt me much that you will not give me your approval, if it were only for the hundred thousand crowns that I made you hand over with so much regret; I promise you not to be vexed at anything you can possibly say to me.” “You mean it, sir, and you promise not to be angry with me, whatever I may say or do?” “Yes, yes; I promise all you desire, since for anything you say it will be all the same, neither more nor less.” Thereupon, taking that written promise as if he would have given it back to the king, Sully, instead of that, tore it in two, saying, a “There, sir, as you wish to know, is what I think about such a promise.” “Ha! morbleu, what are you at? Are you mad?” “It is true, sir; I am a madman and fool; and I wish I were so much thereof as to be the only one in France.” “Very well, very well: I understand you,” said the king, “and will say no more, in order to keep my word to you; but give me back that paper.” “Sir,” replied Sully, “I have no doubt your Majesty is aware that you are destroying all the preparatives for your dismarriage, for, this promise once divulged,—and it is demanded of you for no other purpose,—never will the queen, your wife, do the things necessary to make your dismarriage valid, nor indeed will the pope bestow upon it his Apostolic blessing; that I know of my own knowledge.”

The king made no answer, went out of the gallery, entered his closet, asked for pen and ink, remained there a quarter of an hour, wrote out a second paper like that which had just been torn up, mounted his horse without saying a word to Sully whom he met, went hunting, and, during the day, deposited the new promise of marriage with Henriette d’Entraigues, who kept it or had it kept in perfect secrecy till the 2d of July, the time at which her father, the Count of Entiaigues, gave her up to, the king in consideration of twenty thousand crowns cash.

In the teeth of all these incidents, known or voluntarily ignored, the negotiations for the annulment of the marriage of Henry IV. and Marguerite de Valois were proceeded with at Rome by consent of the two parties. Clement VIII. had pronounced on the 17th of December, 1599, and transmitted to Paris by Cardinal de Joyeuse the decree of annulment. On the 6th of January, 1600, Henry IV. gave his ambassador, Brulart de Sillery, powers to conclude at Florence his marriage with Mary de’ Medici, daughter of Francis I. de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Joan, Archduchess of Austria and niece of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I. de’ Medici, who had often rendered Henry IV. pecuniary services dearly paid for. As early as the year 1592 there had been something said about this project of alliance; it was resumed and carried out on the 5th of October, 1600, at Florence with lavish magnificence. Mary embarked at Leghorn on the 17th with a fleet of seventeen galleys; that of which she was aboard, the General, was all covered over with jewels, inside and out; she arrived at Marseilles on the 3d of November, and at Lyons on the 2d of December, where she waited till the 9th for the king, who was detained by the war with Savoy. He entered her chamber in the middle of the night, booted and armed, and next day, in the cathedral-church of St. John, re-celebrated his marriage, more rich in wealth than it was destined to be in happiness. Mary de’ Medici was beautiful in 1592, when she had first been talked about, and her portrait at that time had charmed the king; but in 1600 she was twenty-seven, tall, fat, with round, staring eyes and a forbidding air, and ill dressed. She knew hardly a word of French; and Henriette d’Entraigues, whom the king had made Marquise do Verneuil, could not help exclaiming when she saw her, “So that is the fat bankeress from Florence!”

Henry IV. seemed to have attained in his public and in his domestic life the pinnacle of earthly fortune and ambition. He was, at one and the same time, Catholic king and the head of the Protestant polity in Europe, accepted by the Catholics as the best, the only possible, king for them in France. He was at peace with all Europe, except one petty prince, the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emmanuel I., from whom he demanded back the marquisate of Saluzzo, or a territorial compensation in France itself on the French side of the Alps. After a short campaign, and thanks to Rosny’s ordnance, he obtained what he desired, and by a treaty of January 17, 1601, he added to French territory La Bresse, Le Bugey, the district of Gex, and the citadel of Bourg, which still held out after the capture of the town. He was more and more dear to France, to which he had restored peace at home as well as abroad, and industrial, commercial, financial, monumental, and scientific prosperity, until lately unknown. Sully covered the country with roads, bridges, canals, buildings, and works of public utility. The moment the king, after the annulment of his marriage with Marguerite de Valois, saw his new wife, Mary de’ Medici, at Lyons, she had disgusted him, and she disgusted him more every day by her cantankerous and headstrong temper; but on the 27th of September, 1601, she brought him a son, who was to be Louis XIII. Henry used to go for distraction from his wife’s temper to his favorite, Henriette d’Entraigues, who knew how to please him at the same time that she was haughty and exacting towards him. He set less store upon the peace of his household than upon that of his kingdom; he had established his favorite at the Louvre itself, close beside his wife; and, his new marriage once contracted, he considered his domestic life settled, as well as his political position.

He was mistaken on both points; he was not at the end of either his political dangers or his amorous fancies. Since 1595, his principal companion in arms, or rather his camp-favorite, Charles de Gontaut, Baron de Biron, whom he had made admiral, duke, and marshal of France, was, all the while continuing to serve him in the field, becoming day by day a determined conspirator against him. He had begun by being a reckless gamester; and in that way he lost fifteen hundred thousand crowns, about six millions (of francs) of our day. “I don’t know,” said he, “whether I shall die on the scaffold or not; but I will never come to the poorhouse.” He added, “When peace is concluded, the king’s love-affairs, the scarcity of his largesses, and the discontent of many will lead to plenty of splits, more than are necessary to embroil the most peaceful kingdoms in the world. And, should that fail, we shall find in religion more than we want to put the most lukewarm Huguenots in a passion and the most penitent Leaguers in a fury.” Henry IV. regarded Biron with tender affection. “I never loved anybody as I loved him,” he used to say; “I would have trusted my son and my kingdom to him. He has done me good service; but he cannot say that I did not save his life three times. I pulled him out of the enemy’s hands at Fontaine-Francaise so wounded and so dazed with blows, that, as I had acted soldier in saving him, I also acted marshal as regarded the retreat.” Biron nevertheless prosecuted his ambitious designs; the independent sovereignty of Burgundy was what he aspired to, and any alliance, any plot, was welcome as a stepping-stone. “Caesar or nothing,” he would say. “I will not die without seeing my head on a quarter-crown piece.” He entered into flagrant conspiracy with the King of Spain, with the Duke of Savoy, with the French malcontents, the Duke of Bouillon, and the Count of Auvergne. Henry IV. knew it, and made every effort to appear ignorant of it, to win Biron back to him; he paid his debts; he sent him on an embassy he tempted him to confessions which should entitle him to a full pardon. “Let him weep,” he would say, “and I will weep with him; let him remember what he owes me, and I will not forget what I owe him. I were loath that Marshal de Biron should be the first example of my just severity, and that my reign, which has hitherto been calm and serene, should be charged all at once with thunder and lightning.” He employed Rosily to bring Biron to confess. “My friend,” said he, “here is an unhappy man, the marshal. It is a serious case. I am anxious to spare him. I cannot bring myself to harm a man who has courage, who has served me so long and been so familiar with me. My fear is that, though I spare him, he will not spare me or my children, or my kingdom. He would never confess anything to me; he behaves to me like a man who has some mischief in his heart. I beg you to see him. If he is open with you, assure him that he may come to me and I will forgive him with all my heart.” Rosny tried and failed. “It is not I who want to destroy this man,” said the king; “it is he who wants to destroy himself. I will myself tell him that, if he lets himself be brought to justice, he has no mercy whatever to expect from me.” He saw Biron at Fontainebleau, received him after dinner, spoke to him with his usual familiarity, and pointing to his own equestrian statue in marble which was on the mantelpiece, said, “What would the King cf Spain say if he saw me like that, eh?” “He would not be much afraid of you,” answered Biron. Henry gave him a stern look. The marshal tried to take back his words: “I mean, sir, if he were to see you in that statue yonder, and not in your own person.” The retreat was not successful; the shot had taken effect; Henry left the room, went back into his closet, and gave orders to his captain of the guard to arrest him. Then he returned to the room and said, “Marshal, reflect upon what I have said to you.” Biron preserved a frigid silence. “Adieu, Baron de Biron!” said the king, thus by a single word annulling all his dignities, and sending him before his proper judges to answer for his treasons. On the 18th of June, 1602, he brought the marshal before the court of Parliament. The inquiry lasted three weeks. Biron was unanimously condemned to death by a hundred and twenty-seven judges “for conspiracies against the king’s person, attempts upon his kingdom, and treasons and treaties with the enemies of the kingdom.” The king gave to this sentence all the alleviations compatible with public interests. He allowed Biron to make his will, remitted the confiscation of his property, and ordered that the execution should take place at the Bastille, in the presence of certain functionaries, and not on the Place de Greve and before the mob. When Biron found himself convicted and sentenced, he burst into a fury, loaded his judges with insults, and roared out that “if he were driven to despair and frenzy, he would strangle half of those present and force the other half to kill him.” The executioner was obliged to strike him unawares. Those present withdrew dumbfounded at the crime, the prisoner’s rage, the execution, and the scene.

When the question of conspiracies and conspirators—with Spain against France and her king had thus been publicly raised and decided, it entailed another: had the Spanish monks, the Jesuits, to call them by their own name, taken part therein? Should proceedings accordingly be taken against them? They were no longer in France; they had been banished on the 29th of December, 1594, by a solemn decree of Parliament, after John Chatel’s attempt. They were demanding their return. The pope was demanding it for them. “If at other times,” they said, “the society had shown hostility to France and her king, it was because, though well received everywhere else, especially in the dominions of the King of Spain, they had met in France with nothing but persecutions and insults. If Henry would be pleased to testify good will towards them, he would soon find them devoted to his person and his throne.” The question was debated at the king’s council, and especially between Henry IV. and Sully when they were together.

Henry IV. And his Ministers——138

Sully did not like the return of the Jesuits. “They are away,” said he; “let them remain so. If they return, it will be all very fine for them to wish, and all very fine for them to act; their presence, their discourse, their influence, involuntary though it be, will be opposed to you, will heat your enemies, will irritate your friends; hatred and mistrust will go on increasing.” The king was of a different opinion. “Of necessity,” he said to Sully, “I must now do one of two things: admit the Jesuits purely and simply, relieve them from the defamation and insults with which they have been blasted, and put to the proof all their fine sentiments and excellent promises, or use against them all severities that can be imagined to keep them from ever coming near me and my dominions. In which latter case, there is no doubt it would be enough to reduce them to utter despair, and to thoughts of attempting my life; which would render me miserable or listless, living constantly in suspicion of being poisoned or assassinated, for these gentry have communications and correspondence everywhere, and great dexterity in disposing men’s minds as it seems good to them. It were better for me to be dead, being therein of Caesar’s opinion that the pleasantest death is that which is least foreseen and apprehended.” The king then called to remembrance the eight projected or attempted assassinations which, since the failure of John Chatel, from 1596 to 1603, had been, and clearly established to have been, directed against him. Upon this, Sully at once went over to the king’s opinion. In September, 1603, letters for the restoration of the Jesuits were issued and referred to the Parliament of Paris. They there met, on the 24th of December, with strong opposition and remonstrances that have remained celebrated, the mouthpiece being the premier president Achille de Harlay, the same who had courageously withstood the Duke of Guise. He conjured the king to withdraw his letters patent, and to leave intact the decree which had banished the Jesuits. This was not, he said, the feeling of the Parliament of Paris only, but also of the Parliaments of Normandy and Burgundy; that is, of two thirds of the magistrates throughout the kingdom. Henry was touched and staggered. He thanked the Parliament most affectionately; but, “We must not reproach the, Jesuits for the League,” said he; “it was the fault of the times. Leave me to deal with this business. I have managed others far more difficult.” The Parliament obeyed, though with regret, and on the 2d of January, 1604, the king’s letters patent were enregistered.

This was not the only business that Henry had at heart; he had another of another sort, and, for him, more difficult to manage. In February, 1609, he saw, for the first time, at the court of France, Charlotte Marguerite, third daughter of the Constable de Montmorency, only sixteen years old. “There was at that time,” say all contemporaries, “nothing so beautiful under heaven, or more graceful, or more perfect.” Before presenting her at court, her father had promised her to Francis de Bassompierre, descended from a branch of the house of Cloves, thirty years old, and already famous for his wit, his magnificence, and his gallantry. He was one of the principal gentlemen of the chamber to the king. Henry IV. sent for him one morning, made him kneel on a hassock in front of his bed, and said that, obtaining no sleep, he had been thinking of him the night before, and of getting him married. “As for me,” says Bassompierre, “who was thinking of nothing so little as of what he wanted to say to me, I answered that, if it were not for the constable’s gout, it would have already been done. ‘No,’ said he to me, ‘I thought of getting you married to Mlle. d’Aumale, and, in consequence of that marriage, of renewing the Duchy of Aumale in your person.’ I asked him if he wanted me to have two wives. Then he said to me with a deep sigh, ‘Bassompierre, I will speak to thee as a friend. I have become not only enamoured, but mad, beside myself, about Mlle. de Montmorency. If thou wed her and she love thee, I shall hate thee; if she loved me, thou wouldst hate me. It is better that this should not be the cause of destroying our good understanding, for I love thee affectionately and sincerely. I am resolved to marry her to my nephew the Prince of Conde, and keep her near my family. That shall be the consolation and the support of the old age which is coming upon me. I shall give my nephew, who is young and loves hunting ten thousand times better than women, a hundred thousand francs a year to pass his time, and I want no other favor from her but her affection, without looking for anything more.”

Thoroughly astounded and put out as he was, Bassompierre reflected that it was, so far as he was concerned, “an amour modified by marriage,” and that it would be better to give way to the king with a good grace: and, “I withdraw, sir,” he said, on very good terms as regarded Mdlle. de Montmorency as well as himself. The king embraced him, wept, promised to love him dearly, saw him again in the evening in company with Mdlle. de Montmorency, who knew nothing, and conversed a long while with the young princess. When she retired, perceiving that Bassompierre was watching her, she shrugged her shoulders, as if to hint to him what the king had said to her. “I lie not,” says Bassompierre: “that single action pierced me to the heart; I spent two days in tormenting myself like one possessed, without sleeping, drinking, or eating.” Two or three days afterwards the Prince of Conde, announced that he intended to marry Mdlle. de Montmorency. The court and the city talked of nothing but this romance and the betrothal which immediately followed.

Henry IV. was fifty-six. He had been given to gallantry all his life; and he had never been faithful or exacting in his attachments. He was not one of those on whom ridicule fastens as fair prey; but he was so under the dominion of his new passion that the young Princess of Conde, who had at first exclaimed, “Jesus, my God, he is mad!” began to fancy to herself that she would be queen before long. Mary de Medici became jealous and uneasy. She determined to take her precautions, and demanded to be crowned before the king set out on the campaign which, it was said, he was about to commence against Austria in accordance with his grand design and in concert with the Protestant princes of Germany, his allies. The Prince of Conde had a fit of jealousy; he carried off his wife first into Picardy; and then to Brussels, where he left her. Henry IV., in respect, first, of going to see her, then of getting her to come back, then of threatening to go after her out of France, took some wild and puerile steps, which, being coincident with his warlike announcements and preparations, caused some strange language to be used, and were injurious to his personal weight as well as to his government’s character for steadiness. Sully grew impatient and uneasy. Mary de’ Medici was insisting strongly upon being crowned. The prospect of this coronation was displeasing to Henry IV., and he did not conceal it. “Hey! my friend,” he said to Sully: “I know not what is the meaning of it, but my heart tells me that some misfortune will happen to me.” He was sitting on a low chair which had been made for him by Sully’s orders at the Arsenal, thinking and beating his fingers on his spectacle-case; then all on a sudden he jumped up, and slapping his hands upon his thighs, “By God,” he said, “I shall die in this city, and shall never go out of it. They will kill me; I see quite well that they have no other remedy in their dangers but my death. Ah! accursed coronation! Thou wilt be the cause of my death.” “Jesus! Sir,” cried Sully, “what fancy of yours is this? If it continue, I am of opinion that you should break off this anointment and coronation, and expedition and war; if you please to give me orders, it shall soon be done.” “Yes, break off the coronation,” said the king: “let me hear no more about it; I shall have my mind at rest from divers fancies which certain warnings have put into it. To bide nothing from you, I have been told that I was to be killed at the first grand ceremony I should undertake, and that I should die in a carriage.” “You never told me that, sir; and so have I often been astounded to see you cry out when in a carriage, as if you had dreaded this petty peril, after having so many times seen you amidst cannon-balls, musketry, lance-thrusts, pike-thrusts, and sword-thrusts; without being a bit afraid. Since your mind is so exercised thereby, if I were you, I would go away to-morrow, let the coronation take place without you, or put it off to another time, and not enter Paris for a long while, or in a carriage. If you please, I will send word to Notre-Dame and St. Denis to stop everything and to withdraw the workmen.” “I am very much inclined,” said the king; “but what will my wife say? For she hath gotten this coronation marvellously into her head.” “She may say what she likes; but I cannot think that, when she knows your opinion about it, she will persist any longer.”

Whatever Sully might say, Mary de’ Medici “took infinite offence at the king for his alarms: the matter was disputed for three days, with high words on all sides, and at last the laborers were sent back to work again.”

Henry, in spite of his presentiments, made no change in his plans; he did not go away; he did not defer the queen’s coronation; on the contrary, he had it proclaimed on the 12th of May, 1610, that she would be crowned next day, the 13th, at St. Denis, and that on Sunday, the 16th, she would make her entry into Paris. On Friday, the 14th, he had an idea of going to the Arsenal to see Sully, who was ill; we have the account of this visit and of the king’s assassination given by Malherbe, at that time attached to the service of Henry IV., in a letter written on the 19th of May, from the reports of eye-witnesses, and it is here reproduced, word for word.

The Arsenal in the Reign of Henry IV.——143

“The king set out soon after dinner to go to the Arsenal. He deliberated a long while whether he should go out, and several times said to the queen, ‘My dear, shall I go or not?’ He even went out two or three times, and then all on a sudden returned, and said to the queen, ‘My dear, shall I really go?’ and again he had doubts about going or remaining. At last he made up his mind to go, and, having kissed the queen several times, bade her adieu. Amongst other things that were remarked he said to her, ‘I shall only go there and back; I shall be here again almost directly.’ When he got to the bottom of the steps, where his carriage was waiting for him, M. de Praslin, his captain of the guard, would have attended him, but said to him, ‘Get you gone; I want nobody; go about your business.’

“Thus having about him only a few gentlemen and some footmen, he got into his carriage, took his place on the back seat at the left hand side, and made M. d’Epernon sit at the right. Next to him, by the door, were M. de Montbazon and M. de la Force; and by the door on M. d’Epernon’s side were Marshal de Lavardin and M. de Cresqui; on the front seat the Marquis of Mirabeau and the first equerry. When he came to the Croix-du-Tiroir he was asked whither it was his pleasure to go; he gave orders to go towards St. Innocent. On arriving at Rue de la Ferronnerie, which is at the end of that of St. Honors on the way to that of St. Denis, opposite the Salamandre he met a cart, which obliged the king’s carriage to go nearer to the ironmongers’ shops which are on the St. Innocent side, and even to proceed somewhat more slowly, without stopping, however, though somebody, who was in a hurry to get the gossip printed, has written to that effect. Here it was that an abominable assassin, who had posted himself against the nearest shop, which is that with the Coeur couronng perce d’une fleche, darted upon the king, and dealt him, one after the other, two blows with a knife in the left side; one, catching him between the armpit and the nipple, went upwards without doing more than graze; the other catches him between the fifth and sixth ribs, and, taking a downward direction, cuts a large artery of those called venous. The king, by mishap, and as if to further tempt this monster, had his left hand on the shoulder of M. de Montbazon, and with the other was leaning on M. d’Epernon, to whom he was speaking. He uttered a low cry and made a few movements. M. de Montbazon having asked, ‘What is the matter, sir?’ he answered, ‘It is nothing,’ twice; but the second time so low that there was no making sure. These are the only words he spoke after he was wounded.

“In a moment the carriage turned towards the Louvre. When he was at the steps where he had got into the carriage, which are those of the queen’s room, some wine was given him. Of course some one had already run forward to bear the news. Sieur de Cerisy, lieutenant of M. de Praslin’s company, having raised his head, he made a few movements with his eyes, then closed them immediately, without opening them again any more. He was carried up stairs by M. de Montbazon and Count de Curzon en Quercy, and laid on the bed in his closet, and at two o’clock carried to the bed in his chamber, where he was all the next day and Sunday. Somebody went and gave him holy water. I tell you nothing about the queen’s tears; all that must be imagined. As for the people of Paris, I think they never wept so much as on this occasion.”

The grief was deep and general, at the court as well as amongst the people, in the provinces as well as at Paris; and with the grief were mingled surprise and alarm, and an idea, also, that the king had died unhappy and uneasy. On the 14th of May, in the morning, before starting upon his visit to the Arsenal, he had gone to hear mass at the Feuillants’ [order of St. Bernard]; and on his return he said to the Duke of Guise and to Bassompierre, who were in attendance, “You do not understand me now, you and the rest; but I shall die one of these days, and, when you have lost me, you will know my worth and the difference there is between me and other kings.” “My God, sir,” said Bassompierre, “will you never cease vexing us by telling us that you will soon die? You will live, please God, some good, long years. You are only in the flower of your age, in perfect bodily health and strength, full of honor more than any mortal man, in the most flourishing kingdom in the world, loved and adored by your subjects, with fine houses, fine women, fine children who are growing up.” Henry sighed as he said, “My friend, all that must be left.”

These are the last words that are to be found of his in contemporary accounts; a few hours afterwards he was smitten to death in his carriage, brought back to the Louvre, laid out on his bed; one of his councillors of state, M. de Vie, seated on the same bed, had put to his mouth his cross of the order, and directed his thoughts to God; Milon, his chief physician, was at the bedside, weeping: his surgeons wanted to dress his wounds; a sigh died away on his lips, and “It is all over,” said the physician; “he is gone.” Guise and Bassompierre went out to look after what was passing out of doors; they met “M. de Sully with some forty horse, who, when he came up to us, said to us in tearful wise, ‘Gentlemen, if the service ye vowed to the king is impressed upon your souls as deeply as it ought to be with all good Frenchmen, swear all of ye this moment to keep towards the king his son and successor the same allegiance that ye showed him, and to spend your lives and your blood in avenging his death?’ ‘Sir,’ said Bassompierre, ‘it is for us to cause this oath to be taken by others; we have no need to be exhorted thereto;’ Sully turned his eyes upon him, he adds, and then went and shut himself up in the Bastille, sending out to ‘seize and carry off all the bread that could be found in the market and at the bakers’. He also despatched a message in haste to M. de Rohan, his son-in-law, bidding him face about with six thousand Swiss, whose colonel-general he was, and march on Paris.” Henry IV. being dead, it was for France and for the kingship that Sully felt alarm and was taking his precautions.

The Louvre——145







On the death of Henry IV. there was extreme disquietude as well as grief in France. To judge by appearances, however, there was nothing to justify excessive alarm. The edict of Nantes (April 13, 1598) had put an end, so far as the French were concerned, to religious wars. The treaty of Vervins (May 2, 1598) between France and Spain, the twelve years’ truce between Spain and the United Provinces (April 9, 1609), the death of Philip II. (September 13, 1598), and the alliance between France and England seemed to have brought peace to Europe. It might have been thought that there remained no more than secondary questions, such as the possession of the marquisate of Saluzzo and the succession to the duchies of Cleves and Juliers. But the instinct of peoples sees further than the negotiations of diplomats. In the public estimation of Europe Henry IV. was the representative of and the security for order, peace, national and equitable policy, intelligent and practical ideas. So thought Sully when, at the king’s death, he went, equally alarmed and disconsolate, and shut himself up in the arsenal; and the people had grounds for being of Sully’s opinion. Public confidence was concentrated upon the king’s personality. Spectators pardoned, almost with a smile, those tender foibles of his which, nevertheless, his proximity to old age rendered still more shocking. They were pleased at the clear-sighted and strict attention he paid to the education of his son Louis, the dauphin, to whose governess, Madame de Montglas, he wrote, “I am vexed with you for not having sent me word that you have whipped my son, for I do wish and command you to whip him every time he shows obstinacy in anything wrong, knowing well by my own case that there is nothing in the world that does more good than that.” And to Mary de’ Medici herself he added, “Of one thing I do assure you, and that is, that, being of the temper I know you to be of, and foreseeing that of your son, you stubborn, not to say headstrong, madame, and he obstinate, you will verily have many a tussle together.”

Henry IV. saw as clearly into his wife’s as into his son’s character. Persons who were best acquainted with the disposition of Mary de’ Medici, and were her most indulgent critics, said of her, in 1610, when she was now thirty-seven years of age, “that she was courageous, haughty, firm, discreet, vain, obstinate, vindictive and mistrustful, inclined to idleness, caring but little about affairs, and fond of royalty for nothing beyond its pomp and its honors.” Henry had no liking for her or confidence in her, and in private had frequent quarrels with her. He had, nevertheless, had her coronation solemnized, and had provided by anticipation for the necessities of government. On the king’s death, and at the imperious instance of the Duke of Epernon, who at once introduced the queen, and said in open session, as he exhibited his sword, “It is as yet in the scabbard; but it will have to leap therefrom unless this moment there be granted to the queen a title which is her due according to the order of nature and of justice,” the Parliament forthwith declared Mary regent of, the kingdom. Thanks to Sully’s firm administration, there were, after the ordinary annual expenses were paid, at that time in the vaults of the Bastille or in securities easily realizable, forty-one million three hundred and forty-five thousand livres, and there was nothing to suggest that extraordinary and urgent expenses would come to curtail this substantial reserve. The army was disbanded, and reduced to from twelve to fifteen thousand men, French or Swiss. For a long time past no power in France had, at its accession, possessed so much material strength and so much moral authority.

Concini, Leonora Galigai, and Mary De’ Medici——149

But Mary de’ Medici had, in her household and in her court, the wherewithal to rapidly dissipate this double treasure. In 1600, at the time of her marriage, she had brought from Florence to Paris her nurse’s daughter, Leonora Galigai, and Leonora’s husband, Concino Concini, son of a Florentine notary, both of them full of coarse ambition, covetous, vain, and determined to make the best of their new position so as to enrich themselves, and exalt themselves beyond measure, and at any price. Mary gave them, in that respect, all the facilities they could possibly desire; they were her confidants, her favorites, and her instruments, as regarded both her own affairs and theirs. These private and subordinate servants were before long joined by great lords, court-folks, ambitious and vain likewise, egotists, mischief-makers, whom the strong and able hand of Henry IV. had kept aloof, but who, at his death, returned upon the scene, thinking of nothing whatever but their own fortunes and their rivalries. They shall just be named here pell-mell, whether members or relatives of the royal family or merely great lords the Condes, the Contis, the Enghiens, the Dukes of Epernon, Guise, Elbeuf, Mayenne, Bouillon, and Nevers, great names and petty characters encountered at every step under the regency of Mary de’ Medici, and, with their following, forming about her a court-hive, equally restless and useless. Time does justice to some few men, and executes justice on the ruck: one must have been of great worth indeed to deserve not to be forgotten. Sully appeared once more at court after his momentary retreat to the arsenal; but, in spite of the show of favor which Mary de’ Medici thought it prudent and decent to preserve towards him for some little time, he soon saw that it was no longer the place for him, and that he was of as little use there to the state as to himself; he sent in, one after the other, his resignation of all his important offices, and terminated his life in regular retirement at Rosny and Sully-sur-Loire. Du Plessis-Mornay attempted to still exercise a salutary influence over his party.

“Let there be no more talk amongst us,” said he, “of Huguenots or Papists; those words are prohibited by our edicts. And, though there were no edict at all, still if we are French, if we love our country, our families, and even ourselves, they ought henceforth to be wiped out of our remembrance. Whoso is a good Frenchman, shall to me be a citizen, shall to me be a brother.” This meritorious and patriotic language was not entirely without moral effect, but it no longer guided, no longer inspired the government; egotism, intrigue, and mediocrity in ideas as well as in feelings had taken the place of Henry IV. Facts, before long, made evident the sad result of this. All the parties, all the personages who walked the stage and considered themselves of some account, believed that the moment had arrived for pushing their pretensions, and lost no time about putting them forward. Those persons we will just pass in review without stopping at any one of them. History has no room for all those who throng about her gates without succeeding in getting in and leaving traces of their stay. The reformers were the party to which the reign of Henry IV. had brought most conquests, and which was bound to strive above everything to secure the possession of them by extracting from them every legitimate and practicable consequence. Mary de’ Medici, having been declared regent, lost no time about confirming, on the 22d of May, 1610, the edict of Nantes and proclaiming religious peace as the due of France. “We have nothing to do with the quarrels of the grandees,” said the people of Paris; “we have no mind to be mixed up with them.” Some of the preachers of repute and of the party’s old leaders used the same language. “There must be nought but a scarf any longer between us,” Du Plessis-Mornay would say. Two great Protestant names were still intact at this epoch: one, the Duke of Sully, without engaging in religious polemics, had persisted in abiding by the faith of his fathers, in spite of his king’s example and attempts to bring him over to the Catholic faith: the other, Du Plessis-Mornay, had always striven, and was continuing to strive, actively for the Protestant cause. These two illustrious champions of the Reformed party were in agreement with the new principles of national right, and with the intelligent instincts of their people, whose confidence they deserved and seemed to possess.

But the passions, the usages, and the suspicions of the party were not slow in reappearing. The Protestants were highly displeased to see the Catholic worship and practices re-established in Bearn, whence Queen Jeanne of Navarre had banished them; the rights of religious liberty were not yet powerful enough with them to surmount their taste for exclusive domination. As a guarantee for their safety, they had been put in possession of several strong places in France; neither the edict of Nantes nor its confirmation by Mary de’ Medici appeared to them a sufficient substitute for this guarantee; and they claimed its continuance, which was granted them for five years. After Henry IV.‘s conversion to Catholicism, his European policy had no longer been essentially Protestant; he had thrown out feelers and entered into negotiations for Catholic alliances; and these, when the king’s own liberal and patriotic spirit was no longer there to see that they did not sway his government, became objects of great suspicion and antipathy to the Protestants. Henry had constantly and to good purpose striven against the spirit of religious faction and civil war; anxious, after his death, about their liberty and their political importance, the Reformers reassumed a blind confidence in their own strength, and a hope of forming a small special state in the midst of the great national state. Their provincial assemblies and their national synods were, from 1611 to 1621, effective promoters of this tendency, which before long became a formal and organized design; at Saumur, at Tonneins, at Privas, at Grenoble, at Loudun, at La Rochelle, the language, the movements, and the acts of the party took more and more the character of armed resistance, and, ere long, of civil war; the leaders, old and new.

Duke Henry of Rohan as well as the Duke of Bouillon, the Marquis of La Force as well as the Duke of Lesdiguieres, more or less timidly urged on the zealous Protestants in that path from which the ancient counsels of Sully and Mornay were not successful in deterring them. On the 10th of May, 1621, in the assembly at La Rochelle, a commission of nine members was charged to present and get adopted a, plan of military organization whereby Protestant France, Warn included, was divided into eight circles, having each a special council composed of three deputies at the general assembly, under a chief who had the disposal of all the military forces; with each army-corps there was a minister to preach; the royal moneys, talliages, aid and gabel, were to be seized for the wants of the army; the property of the Catholic church was confiscated, and the revenues therefrom appropriated to the expenses of war and the pay of the ministers of the religion. It was a Protestant republic, organized on the model of the United Provinces, and disposed to act as regarded the French kingship with a large measure of independence. When, after thus preparing for war, they came to actually make it, the Protestants soon discovered their impotence; the Duke of Bouillon, sixty-five years of age and crippled with gout, interceded for them in his letters to Louis XIII., but did not go out of Sedan; the Duke of Lesdiguieres, to whom the assembly had given the command of the Protestants of Burgundy, Provence, and Dauphiny, was at that very moment on the point of abjuring their faith and marching with their enemies. Duke Henry of Rohan himself, who was the youngest, and seemed to be the most ardent, of their new chiefs, was for doing nothing and breaking up. “If you are not disposed to support the assembly,” said the Marquis of Chateauneuf, who had been sent to him to bring him to a decision, “it will be quite able to defend itself without you.” “If the assembly,” said Rohan, feeling his honor touched, “does take resolutions contrary to my advice, I shall not sever myself from the interest of our churches;” and he sacrificed his better judgment to the popular blindness. The Dukes of La Tremoille and of Soubise, and the Marquises of La Force and of Chatillon followed suit. As M. de Sismondi says, to these five lords and to a small number of towns was the strength reduced of the party which was defying the King of France.

Thus, since the death of Henry IV., the king and court of France were much changed: the great questions and the great personages had disappeared. The last of the real chiefs of the League, the brother of Duke Henry of Guise, the old Duke of Mayenne, he on whom Henry, in the hour of victory, would wreak no heavier vengeance than to walk him to a stand-still, was dead. Henry IV.‘s first wife, the sprightly and too facile Marguerite de Valois, was dead also, after consenting to descend from the throne in order to make way for the mediocre Mary de’ Medici. The Catholic champion whom Henry IV. felicitated himself upon being able to oppose to Du Plessis-Mornay in the polemical conferences between the two communions, Cardinal de Perron, was at the point of death. The decay was general, and the same amongst the Protestants as amongst the Catholics; Sully and Mornay held themselves aloof or were barely listened to. In place of these eminent personages had come intriguing or ambitious subordinates, who were either innocent of or indifferent to anything like a great policy, and who had no idea beyond themselves and their fortunes. The husband of Leonora Galigai, Concini, had amassed a great deal of money and purchased the Marquisate of Ancre; nay, more, he had been created Marshal of France, and he said to the Count of Bassompiere, “I have learned to know the world, and I am aware that a man, when he has arrived at a certain pitch of prosperity, comes down with a greater run the higher he has mounted. When I came to France, I was not worth a son, and I owed more than eight thousand crowns. My marriage and the queen’s kind favor has given me much advancement, office, and honor; I have worked at making my fortune, and I pushed it forward as long as I saw the wind favorable. So soon as I felt it turning, I thought about beating a retreat and enjoying in peace the large property we have acquired. It is my wife who is opposed to this desire. At every crack of the whip we receive from Fortune, I continue to urge her. God knows whether warnings have been wanting. My daughter’s death is the last, and, if we do not heed it, our downfall is at hand.” Then he quietly made out an abstract of all his property, amounting to eight millions, with which he purposed to buy from the pope the usufruct of the duchy of Ferrara, and leave his son, besides, a fine inheritance. But his wife continued her opposition; it would be cowardly and ungrateful, she said, to abandon the queen: “So that,” cried he, “I see myself ruined without any help for it; and, if it were not that I am under so much obligation to my wife, I would leave her and go some whither where neither grandees nor common folk would come to look after me.”

This modest style of language did not prevent Marshal d’Ancre from occasionally having strange fits of domineering arrogance. “By God, sir,” he wrote to one of his friends, “I have to complain of you; you treat for peace without me; you have caused the queen to write to me that, for her sake, I must give up the suit I had commenced against M. de Montbazon to get paid what he owes me. In all the devils’ names, what do the queen and you take me for? I am devoured to my very bones with rage.” In his dread lest influence opposed to his own should be exercised over the young king, he took upon himself to regulate his amusements and his walks, and prohibited him from leaving Paris. Louis XIII. had amongst his personal attendants a young nobleman, Albert de Luynes, clever in training little sporting birds, called butcher-birds (pies grieches, or shrikes), then all the rage; and the king made him his falconer and lived on familiar terms with him. Playing at billiards one day, Marshal d’Ancre, putting on his hat, said to the king, “I hope your Majesty will allow me to be covered.” The king allowed it, but remained surprised and shocked. His young page, Albert de Luynes, observed his displeasure, and being anxious, himself also, to become a favorite, he took pains to fan it.

Louis Xiii. And Albert de Luynes——154

A domestic plot was set hatching against Marshal d’Ancre. What was its extent and who were the accomplices in it? This is not clear. However it may have been, on the 24th of April, 1617, M. de Vitry, captain of the guard (capitaine de quartier) that day in the royal army which was besieging Soissons, ordered some of his officers to provide themselves with a pistol each in their pockets, and he himself went to that door of the Louvre by which the king would have to go to the queenmother’s. When Marshal d’Ancre arrived at this door, “There is the marshal,” said one of the officers; and Vitry laid hands upon him, saying, “Marshal, I have the king’s orders to arrest you.” “Me!” said the marshal in surprise, and attempting to resist.

Murder of Marshal D’ancre——155

The officer fired upon him, and so did several others. It was never known, or, at any rate, never told, whose shot it was that hit him; but, “Sir,” said Colonel d’Ornano, going up to the young king, “you are this minute King of France: Marshal d’Ancre is dead.” And the young king, before the assembled court, repeated with the same tone of satisfaction, “Marshal d’Ancre is dead.” Baron de Vitry was appointed Marshal of France in the room of the favorite whom he had just murdered. The day after the murder, the mob rushed into the church of St. German-l’Auxerrois, where the body of Marshal d’Ancre had been interred; they heaved up the slabs, hauled the body from the ground, dragged it over the pavement as far as the Pont-Neuf, where they hanged it by the feet to a gallows; and they afterwards tore it in pieces, which were sold, burned, and thrown into the Seine. The ferocious passions of the populace were satisfied; but court-hatred and court-envy were not; they attacked the marshal’s widow, Leonora Galigai. She resided at the Louvre, and, at the first rumor of what had happened, she had sent to demand asylum with the queen-mother. Meeting with a harsh refusal, she had undressed herself in order to protect with her body her jewels which she had concealed in her mattresses. The moment she was discovered, she was taken to the Bastille and brought before the Parliament. She began by throwing all the blame upon her husband; it was he, she said, who had prevented her from retiring into Italy, and who had made every attempt to push his fortunes farther. When she was sentenced to death, Leonora recovered her courage and pride. “Never,” said a contemporary, “was anybody seen of more constant and resolute visage.” “What a lot of people to look at one poor creature!” said she at sight of the crowd that thronged upon her passage. There is nothing to show that her firmness at the last earned her more of sympathy than her weaknesses had brought her of compassion. The mob has its seasons of pitilessness. Leonora Galigai died leaving one child, a son, who was so maltreated that he persisted in refusing all food, and, at last, would take nothing but the sweetmeats that the young queen, Anne of Austria, married two years before to Louis XIII., had the kindness to send him.

We encounter in this very insignificant circumstance a trace of one of those important events which marked the earliest years of Mary de’ Medici’s regency and the influence of her earliest favorites. Concini and his wife, both of them, probably, in the secret service of the court of Madrid, had promoted the marriage of Louis XIII. with the Infanta Anne of Austria, eldest daughter of Philip III., King of Spain, and that of Philip, Infante of Spain, who was afterwards Philip IV., with Princess Elizabeth of France, sister of Louis XIII. Henry IV., in his plan for the pacification of Europe, had himself conceived this idea, and testified a desire for this double marriage, but without taking any trouble to bring it about. It was after his death that, on the 30th of April, 1612, Villeroi, minister of foreign affairs in France, and Don Inigo de Caderiias, ambassador of the King of Spain, concluded this double union by a formal deed. They signed on the same day, at Fontainebleau, between the King and Queen-regent of France on one side and the King, of Spain on the other, a treaty of defensive alliance to the effect “that those sovereigns should give one another mutual succor against such as should attempt anything against their kingdoms or revolt against their authority; that they should, in such case, send one to the other, at their own expense for six months, a body of six thousand foot and twelve hundred horse; that they should not assist any criminal charged with high treason, and should even give them over into the hands of the ambassadors of the king who claimed them.” It is quite certain that Henry IV. would never have let his hands be thus tied by a treaty so contrary to his general policy of alliance with Protestant powers, such as England and the United Provinces; he had no notion of servile subjection to his own policy, but he would have taken good care not to abandon it; he was of those, who, under delicate circumstances, remain faithful to their ideas and promises without systematic obstinacy and with a due regard for the varying interests and requirements of their country and their age. The two Spanish marriages were regarded in France as an abandonment of the national policy; France was, in a great majority, Catholic, but its Catholicism differed essentially from the Spanish Catholicism: it affirmed the entire separation of the temporal power and the spiritual power, and the inviolability of the former by the latter; it refused assent, moreover, to certain articles of the council of Trent. It was Gallican Catholicism, determined to keep a pretty large measure of national independence, political and moral, as opposed to Spanish Catholicism, essentially devoted to the cause of the papacy and of absolutist Austria. Under the influence of this public feeling, the two Spanish marriages and the treaty which accompanied them were unfavorably regarded by a great part of France: a remedy was desired; it was hoped that one would be found in the convocation of the states-general of the kingdom, to which the populace always looked expectantly; they were convoked first for the 16th of September, 1614, at Sens; and, afterwards, for the 20th of October following, when the young king, Louis XIII., after the announcement of his majority, himself opened them in state. Amongst the members there were one hundred and forty of the clergy, one hundred and thirty-two of the noblesse, and one hundred and ninety-two of the third estate. The clergy elected for their president Cardinal de Joyeuse who had crowned Mary de’ Medici; the noblesse Henry de Bauffremont, Baron of Senecey, and the third estate Robert Miron, provost of the tradesmen of Paris.

These elections were not worth much, and have left no trace on history. The chief political fact connected with the convocation of the, states-general of 1614, was the entry into their ranks of the youthful Bishop of Lucon, Armand John dot Plessis de Richelieu, marked out by the finger of God to sustain, after the powerful reign of Henry IV. and the incapable regency of Mary de’ Medici, the weight of the government of France. He was in, two cases elected to the states-general, by the clergy of Loudun and by that of Poitou. As he was born on the 5th of September, 1585, he was but twenty-eight years old in 1614. He had not been destined for the church, and he was pursuing a layman’s course of study at the college of Navarre, under the name of the Marquis de Chillon, when his elder brother, Alphonse Louis du Plessis de Richelieu, became disgusted with ecclesiastical life, turned Carthusian, and resigned the unpretending bishopric of Lucon in favor of his brother Armand, whom Henry IV. nominated to it in 1605, instructing Cardinal du Perron, at that time his charge d’affaires at Rome, to recommend to Pope Paul V. that election which he had very much at heart. The young prelate betook himself with so much ardor to his theological studies, that at twenty years of age he was a doctor, and maintained his theses in rochet and camail as bishop-nominate. At Rome some objection was still made to his extreme youth; but he hastened thither, and delivered before the pope a Latin harangue, which scattered all objections to the wind. After consecration at Rome, in 1607, he returned to Paris, and hastened to take possession of his see of Lucon, “the poorest and the nastiest in France,” as he himself said. He could support poverty, but he also set great store by riches, and he was seriously anxious for the expenses of his installation. “Taking after you, that is, being a little vain,” he wrote to one of his fair friends, Madame de Bourges, with whom he was on terms of familiar correspondence about his affairs, “I should very much like, being more easy in my circumstances, to make more show: but what can I do? No house; no carriage; furnished apartments are inconvenient; I must borrow a coach, horses, and a coachman, in order to at least arrive at Lucon with a decent turn-out.” He purchased second-hand the velvet bed of one Madame de Marconnay, his aunt; he made for himself a muff out of a portion of his uncle the Commander’s martenskins. Silver-plate he was very much concerned about. “I beg you,” he wrote to Madame de Bourges, “to send me word what will be the cost of two dozen silver dishes of fair size, as they are made now; I should very much like to get them for five hundred crowns, for my resources are not great. I am quite sure that for a matter of a hundred crowns more, you would not like me to have anything common. I am a beggar, as you know; in such sort that I cannot do much in the way of playing the opulent; but at any rate, when I have silver dishes, my nobility will be considerably enhanced.”

He succeeded, no doubt, in getting his silver dishes and his well-appointed episcopal mansion; for when, in 1614, he was elected to the states-general, he had acquired amongst the clergy and at the court of Louis XIII. sufficient importance to be charged with the duty of speaking, in presence of the king, on the acceptance of the acts of the council of Trent, and on the restitution of certain property belonging to the Catholic church in Warn. He made skilful use of the occasion for the purpose of still further exalting and improving the question and his own position. He complained that for a long time past ecclesiastics had been too rarely summoned to the sovereign’s councils, “as if the honor of serving God,” he said, “rendered them incapable of serving the king;” he took care at the same time to make himself pleasant to the mighty ones of the hour; he praised the young king for having, on announcing his majority, asked his mother to continue to watch over France, and “to add to the august title of mother of the king that of mother of the kingdom.” The post of almoner to the queen-regnant, Anne of Austria, was his reward. He carried still further his ambitious foresight; in February, 1615, at the time when the session of the states-general closed, Marshal d’Ancre and Leonora Galigai were still favorites with the queen-mother; Richelieu laid himself out to be pleasant to them, and received from the marshal in 1616 the post of secretary of state for war and foreign affairs. Marshal d’Ancre was at that time looking out for supports against his imminent downfall. When, in 1617, he fell and was massacred, people were astonished to find Richelieu on good terms with the marshal’s court-rival Albert de Luynes, who pressed him to remain in the council at which he had sat for only five months. To what extent was the Bishop of Lucon at that time on terms of understanding with the victor? There is no saying; but to accept the responsibility of the new favorite’s accession was a compromising act. Richelieu judged it more prudent to remain Bishop of Lucon and to wear the appearance of defeat by following Mary de’ Medici to Blois, whither, since the fall of her favorites, she had asked leave to retire. He would there, he said, be more useful to the government of the young king; for, remaining at the side of Mary de’ Medici, he would be able to advise her and restrain her. He so completely persuaded Louis XIII. and Albert de Luynes, that he received orders to set out for Blois with the queen-mother, which he did on the 4th of May, 1617. The Bishop of Lucon, though still young, was already one of the ambitious sort who stake their dignity upon the ultimate success of their fortunes, success gained no matter at what price, by address or by hardihood, by complaisance or by opposition, according to the requirements of facts and times. Dignity apart, the young bishop had accurately measured the expediency of the step he was taking in the interest of his future, high-soaring ambition.

On arriving at Blois with the queen-mother, he began by dividing his life between that petty court in disgrace and his diocese of Lucon. He wished to set Albert de Luynes at rest as to his presence at the court of Mary de’ Medici, the devotion he showed her, and the counsels he gave her. He had but small success, however. The new favorite was suspicious and anxious. Richelieu appeared to be occupied with nothing but the duties of his office; he presided at conferences; and he published, against the Protestants, a treatise entitled The Complete Christian (De la Perfection du Chretien). Luynes was not disposed to believe in these exclusively religious preoccupations; he urged upon the king that Richelieu should not live constantly in the queen-mother’s neighborhood, and in June, 1617, he had orders given him to retire to the courtship of Avignon. Pope Paul V. complained that the Bishop of Lucon was exiled from his diocese. “What is to be done about residence,” said he, “which is due to his bishopric? and what will the world say at seeing him prohibited from going whither his duty binds him to go?” The king answered that he was surprised at the pope’s complaint. “An ecclesiastic,” said he, “could not possibly be in any better place than Avignon, church territory; my lord the Bishop of Lucon is far from finding time for nothing but the exercises of his profession; I have discovered that he indulged in practices prejudicial to my service. He is one of those spirits that are carried away far beyond their duty, and are very dangerous in times of public disorder.”

Richelieu obeyed without making any objection; he passed two years at Avignon, protesting that he would never depart from it without the consent of Luynes and without the hope of serving him. The favor and fortune of the young falconer went on increasing every day. He had, in 1617, married the daughter of the Duke of Montbazon, and, in 1619, prevailed upon the king to have the estate of Maille raised for him to a duchy-peerage under the title of Luynes. In 1621 he procured for himself the dignity of constable, to which he had no military claim. Louis XIII. sometimes took a malicious pleasure in making fun of his favorite’s cupidity and that of his following. “I never saw,” said he, “one person with so many relatives; they come to court by ship-loads, and not a single one of them with a silk dress.” “See,” said he one day to the Count of Bassompierre, pointing to Luynes surrounded by a numerous following: “he wants to play the king, but I shall know how to prevent it; I will make him disgorge what he has taken from me.” Friends at court warned Luynes of this language; and Luynes replied with a somewhat disdainful impertinence, “It is good for me to cause the king a little vexation from time to time: it revives the affection he feels for me.” Richelieu kept himself well informed of court-rumors, and was cautious not to treat them with indifference. He took great pains to make himself pleasant to the young constable. “My lord,” he wrote to him in August, 1621, “I am extremely pleased to have an opportunity of testifying to you, that I shall never have any possession that I shall not be most happy to employ for the satisfaction of the king and yourself. The queen did me the honor of desiring that I should have the abbey of Redon; but the moment I knew that the king and you, my lord, were desirous of disposing of it otherwise, I gave it up with very good cheer, in order that being in your hands you might gratify therewith whomsoever you pleased; assuring you, my lord, that I have more contentment in testifying to you thereby that which you will on every occasion recognize in me, than I should have had by an augmentation of four thousand crowns’ income. The queen is very well, thank God. I think it will be very meet that from time to time, by means of those who are passing, you should send her news of the king and of you and yours, which will give her great satisfaction “ (Letters of Cardinal Richelieu, t. i. p. 690).

Whilst Richelieu was thus behaving towards the favorite with complaisance and modesty, Mary de’ Medici, whose mouthpiece he appeared to be, assumed a different posture, and used different language; she complained bitterly of the slavery and want of money to which she was reduced at Blois; a plot, on the part of both aristocrats and domestics, were contrived by those about her to extricate her; she entered into secret relations with a great, a turbulent, and a malcontent lord, the Duke of Epernon; two Florentine servants, Ruccellai and Vincenti Ludovici, were their go-betweens; and it was agreed that she should escape from Blois and take refuge at Angouleme, a lordship belonging to the Duke of Epernon. She at the same time wrote to the king to plead for more liberty. He replied, “Madame, having understood that you have a wish to visit certain places of devotion, I am rejoiced thereat. I shall be still more pleased if you take a resolution to move about and travel henceforward more than you have done in the past; I consider that it will be of great service to your health, which is extremely precious to me. If business permitted me to be of the party, I would accompany you with all my heart.” Mary replied to him with formal assurances of fidelity and obedience; she promised before God and His angels “to have no correspondence which could be prejudicial to the king’s service, to warn him of all intrigues, which should come to her knowledge, that were opposed to his will, and to entertain no design of returning to court save when it should please the king to give her orders to do so.” There was between the king, the queen-mother, Albert de Luynes, the Duke of Epernon and their agents, an exchange of letters and empty promises which deceived scarcely anybody, and which destroyed all confidence as well as all truthfulness between them. The Duke of Epernon protested that he had no idea of disobeying the king’s commands, but that he thought his presence was more necessary for the king’s service in Angoumois than at Metz. He complained at the same time that for two years past he had received from the court only the simple pay of a colonel at ten months for the year, which took it out of his power to live suitably to his rank. He set out for Metz at the end of January, 1619, saying, “I am going to take the boldest step I ever took in my life.”

The queen-mother made her exit from Blois on the night between the 21st and 22d of February, 1619, by her closet window, against which a ladder had been placed for the descent to the terrace, whence a second ladder was to enable her to descend right down. On arriving at the terrace she found herself so fatigued and so agitated, that she declared it would be impossible to avail herself of the second ladder; she preferred to have herself let down upon a cloak to the bottom of the terrace, which had a slight slant. Her two equeries escorted her along the faubourg to the end of the bridge. Some officers of her household saw her pass without recognizing her, and laughed at meeting a woman between two men, at night and with a somewhat agitated air. “They take me for a bona roba,” said the queen. On arriving at the end of the faubourg of Blois, she did not find her carriage, which was to have been waiting for her there. When she had come up with it, there was a casket missing which contained her jewels; there was a hundred thousand crowns’ worth in it; the casket had fallen out two hundred paces from the spot; it was recovered, and the queen-mother got into her carriage and took the road to Loches, where the Duke of Epernon had been waiting for her since the day before. He came to meet her with a hundred and fifty horsemen. Nobody in the household of Mary de’Medici had observed her departure.

Great was the rumors when her escape became known, and greater still when it was learned in whose hands she had placed herself. It was civil war, said everybody. At the commencement of the seventeenth century, there were still two possible and even probable chances of civil war in France; one between Catholics and Protestants, and the other between what remained of the great feudal or quasi-feudal lords and the kingship. Which of the two wars was about to commence? Nobody knew; on one side there was hesitation; the most contradictory moves were made. Louis XIII., when he heard of his mother’s escape, tried first of all to disconnect her from the Duke of Epernon. “I could never have imagined,” said be, “that there was any man who, in time of perfect peace, would have had the audacity, I do not say to carry out, but to conceive the resolution of making an attempt upon the mother of his king . . . ; in order to release you from the difficulty you are in, Madame, I have determined to take up arms to put you in possession of the liberty of which your enemies have deprived you.” And he marched troops and cannon to Angoumois. “Many men,” says Duke Henry of Rohan, “envied the Duke of Epernon his gallant deed, but few were willing to submit themselves to his haughty temper, and everybody, having reason to believe that it would all end in a peace, was careful not to embark in the affair merely to incur the king’s hatred, and leave to others the honors of the enterprise.” The king’s troops were well received wherever they showed themselves; the towns opened their gates to them. “It needs,” said a contemporary, “mighty strong citadels to make the towns of France obey their governors when they see the latter disobedient to the king’s. will.” Several great lords held themselves carefully aloof; others determined to attempt an arrangement between the king and his mother; it was known what influence over her continued to be preserved by the Bishop of Lucon, still in exile at Avignon; he was pressed to return; his confidant, Father Joseph du Tremblay, was of opinion that he should; and Richelieu, accordingly, set out. The governor of Lyons had him arrested at Vienne in Dauphiny, and was much surprised to find him armed with a letter from the king, commanding that he should be allowed to pass freely everywhere. Richelieu was prepared to advise a reconciliation between king and queen-mother, and the king was as much disposed to exert himself to that end as the queen-mother’s friends. At Limoges the Bishop of Lucon was obliged to carefully avoid Count Schomberg, commandant of the royal troops, who was not at all in the secret of the negotiation. When he arrived at Angers a fresh difficulty supervened. The most daring, of the queen-mother’s domestic advisers, Ruccellai, had conceived a hatred of the bishop, and tried to exclude him from the privy council. Richelieu let be, “Certain,” as he said, “that they would soon fall back upon him.” He was one of the patient as well as ambitious, who can calculate upon success, even afar off, and wait for it. The Duke of Epernon supported him; Ruccellai, defeated, left the queen-mother, taking with him some of her most warmly attached servants. When the subordinates were gone, recourse was had, accordingly, to Richelieu. On the 10th of August, 1619, he concluded at Angouleme between the king and his mother a treaty, whereby the king promised to consign to oblivion all that had passed since Blois; the queen-mother consented to exchange her government of Touraine against that of Anjou; and the Duke of Epernon received from the town of Boulogne fifty thousand crowns in recompense for what he had done, and he wrote to the king to protest his fidelity. The queen-mother still hesitated to see her son; but, at his entreaty, she at last sent off the Bishop of Lucon from Angouleme to make preparations for the interview, and, five days afterwards, she set out herself, accompanied by the Duke of Epernon, who halted at the limits of his own government, not caring to come to any closer quarters with so recently reconciled a court. The king received his mother, according to some, in the little town of Cousieres, and, according to others, at Tours or Amboise. They embraced, with tears. “God bless me, my boy, how you are grown!” said the queen. “In order to be of more service to you, mother,” answered the king. The cheers of the people hailed their reconciliation; not without certain signs of disquietude on the part of the favorite, Albert de Luynes, who was an eye-witness. After the interview, the king set out for Paris again; and Mary de’ Medici returned to her government of Anjou to take possession of it, promising, she said, to rejoin her son subsequently at Paris. Du Plessis-Mornay wrote to one of his friends at court, “If you do not get the queen along with you, you have done nothing at all; distrust will increase with absence; the malcontents will multiply; and the honest servants of the king will have no little difficulty in managing to live between them.”

How to live between mother and son without being committed to one or the other, was indeed the question. A difficult task. For three months the courtiers were equal to it; from May to July, 1619, the court and the government were split in two; the king at Paris or at Tours, the queen-mother at Angers or at Blois. Two eminent men, Richelieu amongst the Catholics and Du Plessis-Mornay amongst the Protestants, advised them strongly and incessantly to unite again, to live and to govern together. “Apply yourself to winning the king’s good graces,” said Richelieu to the queen-mother: “support on every occasion the interests of the public without speaking of your own; take the side of equity against that of favor, without attacking the favorites and without appearing to envy their influence.” Mornay used the same language to the Protestants. “Do not wear out the king’s patience,” he said to them: “there is no patience without limits.” Louis XIII. listened to them without allowing himself to be persuaded by them; the warlike spirit was striving within the young man; he was brave, and loved war as war rather than for political reasons. The grand provost of Normandy was advising him one day not to venture in person into his province, saying, “You will find there nothing but revolt and disagreeables.” “Though the roads were all paved with arms,” answered the king, “I would march over the bellies of my foes, for they have no cause to declare against me, who have offended nobody. You shall have the pleasure of seeing it; you served the late king my father too well not to rejoice at it.” The queenmother, on her side, was delighted to see herself surrounded at Angers by a brilliant court; and the Dukes of Longueville, of La Tremoille, of Retz, of Rohan, of Mayenne, of Epernon, and of Nemours, promised her numerous troops and effectual support. She might, nevertheless, have found many reasons to doubt and wait for proofs. The king moved upon Normandy; and his quartermasters came to assign quarters at Rouen. “Where have you left the king?” asked the Duke of Longueville. “At Pontoise, my lord; but he is by this time far advanced, and is to sleep to-night at Magny.” “Where do you mean to quarter him here?” asked the duke. “In the house where you are, my lord.” “It is right that I yield him place,” said the duke, and the very same evening took the road back to the district of Caux. It was under this aspect of public feeling that an embassy from the king and a pacific mission from Rome came, without any success, to Rangers, and that on the 4th of July, 1619, a fresh civil war between the king and the partisans of the queen-mother was declared.

It was short and not very bloody, though pretty vigorously contested. The two armies met at Ponts de Ce; they had not, either of them, any orders or any desire to fight; and pacific negotiations were opened at La Fleche. The queen-mother declared that she had made up her mind to live henceforth at her son’s court, and that all she desired was to leave honorably the party with which she was engaged. That was precisely the difficulty. The king also declared himself resolved to receive his mother affectionately; but he required her to abandon the lords of her party, and that was what she could not make up her mind to do. In the unpremeditated conflict that took place at Ponts de Ce, the troops of the queen-mother were beaten. “They had two hundred men killed or drowned,” says Bassompierre, “and about as many taken prisoners.” This reverse silenced the queen’s scruples; there was clearly no imperative cause for war between her and the king, and the queen’s partisans could not be blind to the fact that, if the struggle were prolonged, they would be beaten.

The kingship had the upper hand in the country, and a consent was given to the desired arrangements. “Assure the king that I will go and see him to-morrow at Brissac,” said the queen-mother. “I am perfectly satisfied with him, and all I think of is to please him, and pray God for him personally, and for the prosperity of his kingdom.” A treaty was concluded at Angers on the 10th of August, 1620; the queen-mother returned to Paris; and the civil war at court was evidently, not put an end to never to recur, but stricken with feebleness and postponed.

Two men of mark, Albert de Luynes and Richelieu, came out of this crisis well content. The favorite felicitated himself on the king’s victory over the queen-mother, for he might consider the triumph as his own; he had advised and supported the king’s steady resistance to his mother’s enterprises. Besides, he had gained by it the rank and power of constable; it was at this period that he obtained them, thanks to the retirement of Lesdiguieres, who gave them up to assume the title of marshal-general of the king’s camps and armies. The royal favor did not stop there for Luynes; the keeper of the seals, Du Vair, died in 1621; and the king handed over the seals to the new constable, who thus united the military authority with that of justice, without being either a great warrior or a great lawyer. All he had to do was to wait for an opportunity of displaying his double power. The defaults of the French Protestants soon supplied one. In July, 1567, Henry IV.‘s mother, Jeanne d’Albret, on becoming Queen of Navarre, had, at the demand of the Estates of Bearn, proclaimed Calvinism as the sole religion of her petty kingdom; all Catholic worship was expressly forbidden there; religious liberty, which Protestants everywhere invoked, was proscribed in Bearn; moreover, ecclesiastical property was confiscated there. The Catholics complained, loudly; the Kings of France were supporters of their plaint; it had been for a long time past repudiated or eluded; but on the 13th of August, 1620, Louis XIII. issued two edicts for the purpose of restoring in Bearn free Catholic worship, and making restitution of their property to the ecclesiastical establishments. The council of Pau, which had at first repudiated them, hastened to enregister these edicts in the hope of retarding at least their execution; but the king said, “In two days I shall be at Pau; you want me there to assist your weakness.” He was asked how he would be received at Pau. “As sovereign of Warn,” said he. “I will dismount first of all at the church, if there be one; but, if not, I want no canopy or ceremonial entry; it would not become me to receive honors in a place where I have never been, before giving thanks to God, from whom I hold all my dominions and all my power.” Religious liberty was thus reestablished at Pau. “It is the king’s intention,” said the Duke of Montmorency to the Protestants of Villeneuve-de-Berg, who asked that they might enjoy the liberty promised them by the edicts, “that all his subjects, Catholic or Protestant, be equally free in the exercise of their religion; you shall not be hindered in yours, and I will take good care that you do not hinder the Catholics in theirs.” The Duke of Montmorency did not foresee that the son and successor of the king in whose name he was so energetically proclaiming religious liberty, Louis XIV., would abolish the edict of Nantes whereby his grandfather, Henry IV., had founded it. Justice and iniquity are often all but contemporary.

It has just been said that not only Luynes, but Richelieu too, had come well content out of the crisis brought about by the struggle between Louis XIII. and the queen-mother. Richelieu’s satisfaction was neither so keen nor so speedy as the favorite’s. Pope Paul V. had announced, for the 11th of January, 1621, a promotion of ten cardinals. At the news of this, the queen-mother sent an express courier to Rome with an urgent demand that the Bishop of Lucon should be included in the promotion. The Marquis of Coeuvres, ambassador of France at Rome, insisted rather strongly, in the name of the queen-mother and of the Duke of Luynes, from whom he showed the pope some very pressing letters. The pope, in surprise, gave him a letter to read in the handwriting of King Louis XIII., saying that he did not at all wish the Bishop of Lucon to become cardinal, and begging that no notice might be taken of any recommendations which should be forwarded on the subject. The ambassador, greatly surprised in his turn, ceased to insist. It was evidently the doing of the Duke of Luynes, who, jealous of the Bishop of Lucon and dreading his influence, had demanded and obtained from the king this secret measure. It was effectual; and, at the beginning of the year 1621, Richelieu had but a vague hope of the hat. He had no idea, when he heard of this check, that at the end of a few months Luynes would undergo one graver still, would die almost instantaneously after having practised a policy analogous to that which Richelieu was himself projecting, and would leave the road open for him to obtain the cardinal’s hat, and once more enter into the councils of the king, who, however, said to the queen-mother, “I know him better than you, madame; he is a man of unbounded ambition.”

The two victories won in 1620 by the Duke of Luynes, one over the Protestants by the re-establishment in Warn of free worship for the Catholics, and the other over his secret rival Richelieu, by preventing him from becoming cardinal, had inspired him with great confidence in his good fortune. He resolved to push it with more boldness than he had yet shown. He purposed to subdue the Protestants as a political party whilst respecting their religious creed, and to reduce them to a condition of subjection in the state whilst leaving them free, as Christians, in the church. A fundamentally contradictory problem; for the different liberties are closely connected, one with another, and have need to be security one for another; but, at the commencement of the seventeenth century, people were not so particular in point of consequence, and it was thought possible to give religious liberty its guarantees whilst refusing them to general political liberty. That is what the Duke of Luynes attempted to do; to all the towns to which Henry IV. had bound himself by the edict of Nantes, he made a promise of preserving to them their religious liberties, and he called upon them at the same time to remain submissive and faithful subjects of the sovereign kingship. La Rochelle, Montauban, Saumur, Sancerre, Charite-sur-Loire, and St. Jean d’Angely were in this category; and it was to Montauban, as one of the most important of those towns, that Louis XIII. first addressed his promise and his appeal, inconsistent one with the other.

Some years previously, in May, 1610, amidst the grief and anxiety awakened by the assassination of Henry IV. by Ravaillac, the population of Montauban had maintained and testified a pacific and moderate disposition. The synod was in assembly when the news of the king’s death arrived there. We read in the report of the town-council, under date of May 19, 1610,

“The ecclesiastics (Catholic) having come to the council, the consuls gave them every assurance for their persons and property, and took them under the protection and safeguard of the king and the town, without suffering or permitting any hurt, wrong, or displeasure to be done them. . . . The ecclesiastics thanked them, and protested their desire to live and die in that town, as good townsmen and servants of the king . .” On the 22d of May, in a larger council-general, the council gives notice to the Parliament of Toulouse that everything shall remain peaceable. . . . Consul Beraud moves that “every one take forthwith the oath of fidelity we owe to his Majesty, and that every one also testify, by acclamation, his wishes and desires for the prosperity and duration of his reign.”

Ten years later, in 1620, the disposition of the Protestants was very much changed; distrust and irritation had once more entered into their hearts. Henry IV. was no longer there to appease them or hold them in. The restoration of the freedom of Catholic worship in Warn had alarmed and offended them as a violation of their own exclusive right proclaimed by Jeanne d’Albret. In January, 1621, during an assembly held at La Rochelle, they exclaimed violently against what they called “the woes experienced by their brethren of Warn.” Louis XIII. considered their remonstrances too arrogant to be tolerated. On the 24th of April, 1621, by a formal declaration, he confirmed all the edicts issued in favor of the liberty of Protestants, but with a further announcement that he would put down with all the rigor of the laws those who did not remain submissive and tranquil in the enjoyment of their own rights. This measure produced amongst the Protestants a violent schism. Some submitted, and their chiefs gave up to the king the places they commanded. On the 10th of May, 1621, Saumur opened her gates to him. Others, more hot-tempered and more obstinate, persisted in their remonstrances. La Rochelle, Montauban, and St. Jean d’Angely took that side. Duke Henry of Rohan and the Duke of Soubise, his brother, supported them in their resistance. Rohan went to Montauban, and, mounting into the pulpit, said to the assembly, “I will not conceal from you that the most certain conjecture which can be formed from the current news is, that in a short time the royal army will camp around your walls, since St. Jean d’Angely is surrendered, and all that remains up to here is weakened, broken down, and ready to receive the yoke, through the factions of certain evil spirits. I have no fear lest the consternation and cowardice of the rest should reach by contagion to you. In days past you swore in my presence the union of the churches. Of a surety we will get peace restored to you here. I pray you to have confidence in me, that on this occasion I will not desert you, whatever happen. Though there should be but two men left of my religion, I will be one of the two. My houses and my revenues are seized, because I would not bow beneath the proclamation. I have my sword and my life left. Three stout hearts are better than thirty that quail.”

The whole assembly vehemently cheered this fiery speech. The premier consul of Montauban, Dupuy, swore to live and die in the cause of union of the churches. “The Duke of Rohan exerted himself to place Montauban in a position to oppose a vigorous resistance to the royal troops. Consul Dupuy, for his part, was at the same time collecting munitions and victuals.” It was announced that the king’s army was advancing; and reports were spread, with the usual exaggeration, of the deeds of violence it was already committing. At the news thereof, every nerve is strained to advance the fortifications “there is none that shirks, of whatever age, or sex, or condition; every other occupation ceases; night serves to render the day’s work bigger; the inhabitants are all a-sweat, soiled with dust, laden with earth.” Whilst the multitude was thus working pell-mell to put the town substantially in a state of defence, the warlike population, gentlemen and burgesses, were arming and organizing for the struggle. They had chosen for their chief a younger son of Sully’s, Baron d’Orval, devoted to the Protestant cause, even to the extent of rebellion, whilst his elder brother, the Marquis of Rosny, was serving in the royal army. Their aged father, Sully, went to Montauban to counsel peace; not that he exactly blamed the resistance, but he said that it would be vain, and that a peace on good terms was possible. He was listened to with respect, though he was not believed, and though the struggle was all the while persisted in. The royal army, with a strength of twenty thousand men, and commanded by the young Duke of Mayenne, son of the great Leaguer, came up on the 18th of August, 1621, to besiege Montauban, with its population of from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand. Besiegers and besieged were all of them brave; the former the more obstinate, the latter the more hare-brained and rash. The siege lasted two months and a half with alternate successes and reverses. The people of the town were directed and supported by commissions charged with the duty of collecting meal, preparing quarters for the troops, looking after the sick and wounded, and distributing ammunition. “Day and night, from hour to hour, one of the consuls went to inspect these services. All was done without confusion, without a murmur.” Ministers of the Reformed church, to the number of thirteen, were charged to keep up the enthusiasm with chants, psalms, and prayers. One of them, the pastor Chamier, was animated by a zealous and bellicose fanaticism; he was never tired of calling to mind the calamities undergone by the towns that had submitted to the royal army; he was incessantly comparing Montauban to Bethulia, Louis XIII. to Nabuchodonosor, the Duke of Mayenne to Holofernes, the Montalbanese to the people of God, and the Catholics to the Assyrians. The indecision and diversity of views in the royal camp formed a singular contrast to the firm resolution, enthusiasm, and union which prevailed in the town. On the 16th and 17th of August the king passed his army in review; several captains were urgent in dissuading him from prosecuting the siege; they proposed to build forts around Montauban, and leave there the Duke of Mayenne “to harass the inhabitants, make them consume both their gunpowder and their tooth-powder, and, peradventure, bring them to a composition.” But the self-respect of the king and of the army was compromised; the Duke of Luynes ardently desired to change his name for that of Duke of Montauban; there was promise of help from the Prince of Conde and the Duke of Vendome, who were commanding, one in Berry and the other in Brittany. These personal interests and sentiments carried the day; the siege was pushed forward with ardor, although without combined effort; the Duke of Mayenne was killed there on the 16th of September, 1621; and, amongst the insurgents, the preacher Chamier met, on the 17th of October, the same fate. It was in the royal army and the government that fatigue and the desire of putting a stop to a struggle so costly and of such doubtful issue first began to be manifested. And, at the outset, in the form of attempts at negotiation. The Duke of Luynes himself had a proposal made to the Duke of Rohan, who was in residence at Castres, for an interview, which Rohan accepted, notwithstanding the mistrust of the people of Castres, and of the majority of his friends. The conference was held at a league’s distance from Montauban. After the proper compliments, Luynes drew Rohan aside into an alley alone, and, “I thank you,” he said, “for having put trust in me; you shall not find it misplaced; your safety is as great here as in Castres. Having become connected with you, I desire your welfare; but you deprived me, whilst my favor lasted, of the means of procuring the greatness of your house. You have succored Montauban in the very teeth of your king. It is a great feather in your cap; but you must not make too much of it. It is time to act for yourself and your friends. The king will make no general peace; treat for them who acknowledge you. Represent to them of Montauban that their ruin is but deferred for a few days; that you have no means of helping them. For Castres and other places in your department, ask what you will, and you shall obtain it. For your own self, anything you please (carte blanche) is offered you. . . . If you will believe me, you will get out of this miserable business with glory, with the good graces of the king, and with what you desire for your own fortunes, which I am anxious to promote so as to be a support to mine.”

Rohan replied, “I should be my own enemy if I did not desire my king’s good graces and your friendship. I will never refuse from my king benefits and honors, or from you the offices of a kind connection. I do well consider the peril in which I stand; but I beg you also to look at yours. You are universally hated, because you alone possess what everybody desires. Wars against them of the religion have often commenced with great disadvantages for them; but the restlessness of the French spirit, the discontent of those not in the government, and the influence of foreigners have often retrieved them. If you manage to make the king grant us peace, it will be to his great honor and advantage, for, after having humbled the party, without having received any check, and without any appearance of division within or assistance from without, he will have shown that he is not set against the religion, but only against the disobedience it covers, and he will break the neck of other parties without having met with anything disagreeable. But, if you push things to extremity, and the torrent of your successes does not continue,—and you are on the eve of seeing it stopped in front of Montauban,—every one will recover his as yet flurried senses, and will give you a difficult business to unravel. Bethink you that you have gathered in the harvest of all that promises mingled with threats could enable you to gain, and that the remnant is fighting for the religion in which it believes. For my own part, I have made up my mind to the loss of my property and my posts; if you have retarded the effects thereof on account of our connection, I am obliged to you for it; but I am quite prepared to suffer everything, since my mind is made up, having solemnly promised it and my conscience so bidding me, to hear of nothing but a general peace.”

The reply was worthy of a great soul devoted to a great cause, a soul that would not sacrifice to the hopes of fortune either friends or creed. It was a mark of Duke Henry of Rohan’s superior character to take account, before everything, of the general interests and the moral sentiments of his party. The chief of the royal party, the Duke of Luynes, was, on the contrary, absorbed in the material and momentary success of his own personal policy; he refused to treat for a general peace with the Protestants, and he preferred to submit to a partial and local defeat before Montauban, rather than be hampered with the difficulties of national pacification. At a council held on the 26th of October, 1621, it was decided to publicly raise the siege. The king and the royal army departed in November from the precincts of Montauban, which they purposed to attack afresh on the return of spring: the king was in a hurry to go and receive at Toulouse the empty acclamations of the mob, and he ordered Luynes to go and take, on the little town of Monheur, in the neighborhood of Toulouse, a specious revenge for his check before Montauban. Monheur surrendered on the 11th of December, 1621. Another little village in the neighborhood, Negrepelisse, which offered resistance to the royal army, was taken by assault, and its population infamously massacred. But in the midst of these insignificant victories, on the 14th of December, 1621, the royal favorite, the constable, interim keeper of the seals, Duke Albert of Luynes, had an attack of malignant fever, and died in three days at the camp of Longueville. “What was marvellously surprising, and gave a good idea of the world and its vanity,” says his contemporary, the Marquis of Fontaine Mareuil, “was that this man, so great and so powerful, found himself, nevertheless, to such a degree abandoned and despised, that for two days, during which he was in agony, there was scarcely one of his people who would stay in his room, the door being open all the time, and anybody who pleased coming in, as if he had been the most insignificant of men; and when his body was taken to be interred, I suppose, to his duchy of Luynes, instead of priests to pray for him, I saw some of his valets playing piquet on his bier whilst they were having their horses baited.”

It was not long before magnificence revisited the favorite’s bier. “On the 11th of January, 1622, his mortal remains having arrived at Tours, all the religious bodies went out to receive it; the constable was placed in a chariot drawn by six horses, accompanied by pages, Swiss, and gentlemen in mourning. He was finally laid in the cathedral-church, where there took place a service which was attended by Marshal de Lesdiguieres, the greatest lords of the court, the judicature, and the corporation.” It is a contemporary sheet, the Mercure Francais, which has preserved to us these details as to the posthumous grandeur of Albert de Luynes, after the brutal indifference to which he had been subjected at the moment of his death.

His brothers after him held a high historical position, which the family have maintained, through the course of every revolution, to the present day; a position which M. Cousin took pleasure in calling to mind, and which the last duke but one of Luynes made it a point of duty to commemorate by raising to Louis XIII. a massive silver statue almost as large as life, the work of that able sculptor, M. Rudde, which figured at the public exhibition set on foot by Count d’Haussonville, in honor of the Alsace-Lorrainers whom the late disasters of France drove off in exile to Algeria.

Richelieu, when he had become cardinal, premier minister of Louis XIII. and of the government of France, passed a just but severe judgment upon Albert de Luynes. “He was a mediocre and timid creature,” he said, “faithless, ungenerous, too weak to remain steady against the assault of so great a fortune as that which ruined him incontinently; allowing himself to be borne away by it as by a torrent, without any foothold, unable to set bounds to his ambition, incapable of arresting it, and not knowing what he was about, like a man on the top of a tower, whose head goes round and who has no longer any power of discernment. He would fain have been Prince of Orange, Count of Avignon, Duke of Albret, King of Austrasia, and would not have refused more if he had seen his way to it.” [Memoires de Richelieu, p. 169, in the Petitot Collection, Series v., t. xxii.]

This brilliant and truthful portrait lacks one feature which was the merit of the Constable de Luynes: he saw coming, and he anticipated, a long way off and to little purpose, but heartily enough, the government of France by a supreme kingship, whilst paying respect, as long as he lived, to religious liberty, and showing himself favorable to intellectual and literary liberty, though he was opposed to political and national liberty. That was the government which, after him, was practised with a high hand and rendered triumphant by Cardinal Richelieu to the honor, if not the happiness, of France.







The characteristic of Louis XIV.‘s reign is the uncontested empire of the sovereign over the nation, the authority of the court throughout the country. All intellectual movement proceeded from the court or radiated about it; the whole government, whether for war or peace, was concentrated in its hands. Conde, Turenne, Catinat, Luxembourg, Villars, Vendome belonged, as well as Louvois or Colbert, to the court; from the court went the governors and administrators of provinces; there was no longer any greatness existing outside of the court; there were no longer any petty private courts. As for the state, the king was it.

For ages past, France had enjoyed the rare good fortune of seeing her throne successively occupied by Charlemagne and Charles V., by St. Louis and Louis XI., by Louis XII., Francis I. and Henry IV., great conquerors or wise administrators, heroic saints or profound politicians, brilliant knights or models of patriot-kings. Such sovereigns had not only governed, but also impressed the imagination of the people; it was to them that the weak, oppressed by the great feudal lords, had little by little learned to apply for support and assistance; since the reign of Francis I., especially, in the midst of the religious struggles which had caused division amongst the noblesse and were threatening to create a state within the state, the personal position of the grandees, and that of their petty private courts, had been constantly diminishing in importance; the wise policy, the bold and prudent courage of Henry IV., and his patriotic foresight had pacified hatred and stayed civil wars; he had caused his people to feel the pleasure and pride of being governed by a man of a superior order. Cardinal Richelieu, more stern than Henry IV., set his face steadily against all the influences of the great lords; he broke them down one after another; he persistently elevated the royal authority; it was the hand of Richelieu which made the court and paved the way for the reign of Louis XIV. The Fronde was but a paltry interlude and a sanguinary game between parties. At Richelieu’s death, pure monarchy was founded.


In the month of December, 1622, the work was as yet full of difficulty. There were numerous rivals for the heritage of royal favor that had slipped from the dying hands of Luynes. The Prince of Conde, a man of ability and moderation, “a good managing man (homme de bon menage),” as he was afterwards called by the cardinal, was the first to get possession of the mind of the king, at that time away from his mother, who was residing at Paris. “It was not so much from dislike that they opposed her,” says Richelieu, “as from fear lest, when once established at the king’s council, she might wish to introduce me there. They acknowledged in me some force of judgment; they dreaded my wits, fearing lest, if the king were to take special cognizance of me, it might come to his committing to me the principal care of his affairs.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 193.] On returning to Paris, the king, nevertheless, could not refuse this gratification to his mother. However, “the prince, who was in the habit of speaking very freely, and could not be mum about what he had on his mind, permitted himself to go so far as to say that she had been received into the council on two conditions, one, that she should have cognizance of nothing but what they pleased, and the other, that, though only a portion of affairs was communicated to her, she would serve as authority for all in the minds of the people.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 194.] In fact, the queen-mother quite perceived that she was only shown the articles in the window, and did not enter the shop; “but, with all the prudence and patience of an Italian, when she was not carried away by passion, she knew how to practise dissimulation towards the Prince of Conde and his allies, Chancellor Sillery and his son Puisieux, secretary of state.” She accompanied her son on an expedition against the Huguenots of the South, which she had not advised, “foreseeing quite well that, if she were separated from the king, she would have no part either in peace or war, and that, if they got on without her for ten months, they would become accustomed to getting on without her.” She had the satisfaction of at last seeing the Bishop of Lucon promoted to the cardinalship she had so often solicited for him in vain; but, at the same time, the king called to the council Cardinal Rochefoucauld, “not through personal esteem for the old cardinal,” says Richelieu, “but to cut off from the new one all hope of a place for which he might be supposed to feel some ambition.” Nevertheless, in spite of his enemies’ intrigues, in spite of a certain instinctive repugnance on the part of the king himself, who repeated to his mother, “I know him better than you, madame; he is a man of unbounded ambition,” the “new cardinal” was called to the council at the opening of the year 1624, on the instance of the Marquis of La Vieuville, superintendent of finance and chief of the council, who felt himself unsteady in his position, and sought to secure the favor of the queen-mother. It was as the protege and organ of Mary de’ Medici that the cardinal wrote to the Prince of Conde, on the 11th of May, 1624, “The king having done me the honor to place me on his council, I pray God with all my heart to render me worthy of serving him as I desire; and I feel myself bound thereto by every sort of consideration. I cannot sufficiently thank you for the satisfaction that you have been pleased to testify to me thereat. Therefore would I far rather do so in deed by serving you than by bootless words. And in that I cannot fail without failing to follow out the king’s intention. I have made known to the queen the assurance you give her by your letter of your affection, for which she feels all the reciprocity you can desire. She is the more ready to flatter herself with the hope of its continuance, in that she will be very glad to incite you thereto by all the good offices she has means of rendering you with His Majesty.” [Lettres du Cardinal de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 5.] On the 12th of August, however, M. de la Vieuville fell irretrievably, and was confined in the castle of Amboise. A pamphlet of the time had forewarned him of the danger which threatened him when he introduced Richelieu into the council. “You are both of the same temper,” it said; “that is, you both desire one and the same thing, which is, to be, each of you, sole governor. That which you believe to be your making will be your undoing.”

From that moment the cardinal, in spite of his modest resistance based upon the state of his health, became the veritable chief of the council. “Everybody knew that, amidst the mere private occupations he had hitherto had, it would have been impossible for him to exist with such poor health, unless he took frequent recreation in the country.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 289.] Turning his attention to founding his power and making himself friends, he authorized the recall of Count Schomberg, lately disgraced, and of the Duke of Anjou’s, the king’s brother’s, governor, Colonel Ornano, imprisoned by the Marquis of La Vieuville. He, at the same time, stood out against the danger of concentrating all the power of the government in a single pair of hands. “Your Majesty,” he said, “ought not to confide your public business to a single one of your councillors and hide it from the rest; those whom you have chosen ought to live in fellowship and amity in your service, not in partisanship and division. Every time, and as many times as a single one wants to do everything himself, he wants to ruin himself; but in ruining himself he will ruin your kingdom and you, and as often as any single one wants to possess your ear and do in secret what should be resolved upon openly, it must necessarily be for the purpose of concealing from Your Majesty either his ignorance or his wickedness.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 349.] Prudent rules and acute remarks, which Richelieu, when he became all-powerful, was to forget.

Eighteen months had barely rolled away when Colonel Ornano, lately created a marshal at the Duke of Anjou’s request, was again arrested and carried off a prisoner “to the very room where, twenty-four years ago, Marshal Biron had been confined.” For some time past “it had been current at court and throughout the kingdom that a great cabal was going on,” says Richelieu in his Memoires, “and the cabalists said quite openly that under his ministry, men might cabal with impunity, for he was not a dangerous enemy.” If the cabalists had been living in that confidence, they were most woefully deceived. Richelieu was neither meddlesome nor cruel, but he was stern and pitiless towards the sufferings as well as the supplications of those who sought to thwart his policy. At this period, he wished to bring about a marriage between the Duke of Anjou, then eighteen years old, and Mdlle. de Montpensier, the late Duke of Montpensier’s daughter, and the richest heiress in France. The young prince did not like it. Madame de Chevreuse, it was said, seeing the king an invalid and childless, was already anticipating his death, and the possibility of marrying his widowed queen to his successor. “I should gain too little by the change,” said Anne of Austria one day, irritated by the accusations of which she was the object. Divers secret or avowed motives had formed about the Duke of Anjou what was called the “aversion” party, who were opposed to his marriage; but the arrest of Colonel Ornano dismayed the accomplices for a while. The Duke of Anjou protested his fidelity to his brother, and promised the cardinal to place in the king’s hands a written undertaking to submit his wishes and affections to him. The intrigue appeared to have been abandoned. But the “dreadful (epouvantable) faction,” as the Cardinal calls it in his Memoires, conspired to remove the young prince from the court. The Duke of Vendome, son of Henry IV. and Gabrielle d’Estrees, had offered him an asylum in his government of Brittany; but the far-sighted policy of the minister took away this refuge from the heir to the throne, always inclined as he was to put himself at the head of a party. The Duke of Vendome and his brother the Grand Prior, disquieted at the rumors which were current about them, hastened to go and visit the king at Blois. He received them with great marks of affection. “Brother,” said he to the Duke of Vendome, laying his hand upon his shoulder, “I was impatient to see you.” Next morning, the 15th of June, the two princes were arrested in bed. “Ah! brother,” cried Vendome, “did not I tell you in Brittany that we should be arrested?” “I wish I were dead, and you were there,” said the Grand Prior. “I told you, you know, that the castle of Blois was a fatal place for princes,” rejoined the duke. They were conducted to Amboise. The king, continually disquieted by the projects of assassination hatched against his minister, gave him a company of musketeers as guards, and set off for Nantes, whither the cardinal was not slow to go and join him. In the interval, a fresh accomplice in the plot had been discovered.

This time it was in the king’s own household that he had been sought and found. Henry de Talleyrand, Count of Chalais, master of the wardrobe, hare-brained and frivolous, had hitherto made himself talked about only for-his duels and his successes with women. He had already been drawn into a plot against the cardinal’s life; but, under the influence of remorse, he had confessed his criminal intentions to the minister himself. Richelieu appeared touched by the repentance, but he did not forget the offence, and his watch over this “unfortunate gentleman,” as he himself calls him, made him aware before long that Chalais was compromised in an intrigue which aimed at nothing less, it was said, than to secure the person of the cardinal by means an ambush, so as to rid him at need. Chalais was arrested in his bed on the 8th of July. The Marquis la Valette, son of the Duke of Epernon and governor or Metz had been asked to give an asylum to Monsieur in case he decided upon flying from the court, had answered after embarrassed fashion; the cardinal had his enemies in a trap He went to call on Monsieur; it was in Richelieu’s own house, and under pretext of demanding hospitality of him, that the conspirators calculated upon striking their blow. “I very much, regret,” said the cardinal to Gaston, “that your Highness did, not warn me that you and your friends meant to do me the honor of coming to sup with me. I would have exerted myself, to entertain them and receive them to the best of my ability.” [Journal de Bassompierre, t. ii.] Monsieur seemed to be dumbfounded; he still thought of flight, but Madame de Guise had just arrived at Nantes with her daughter, Mdlle. de Montpensier; Madame de Chevreuse had been driven from court; the young prince’s friends had been scared or won over; and President le Coigneux, his most honest adviser, counselled him get the cardinal’s support with the king. “That rascal,” said the president, “gets so sharp an edge on his wits, that it is necessary to avail one’s self of all sorts of means to undo what he does.” Monsieur at last gave way, and consented to married, provided that the king would treat it as appanage. Louis XIII., in his turn, hesitated, being attracted by the arguments of certain underlings, “folks ever welcome, as being apparently out of the region of political interests, and seeming to have an eye in everything to their master’s person only.” They represented to the king that if the Duke of Anjou were to have children, he would become of more importance in the country, which would be to the king’s detriment. The minister, boldly demanded of the king the dismissal of “those petty folks who insolently abused his ear.” Louis XIII., in his turn gave way; and on the 5th of August, 1626, the cardinal celebrated the marriage of Gaston, who became Duke of Orleans on, the occasion, with Mary of Bourbon, Mdlle. de Montpesier. “No viols or music were heard that day and it was said in the bridegroom’s circle that there was no occasion for having Monsieur’s marriage stained with blood. This was reported to the king, and to the cardinal who did not at all like it.”

When Chalais, in his prison, heard of the marriage, he undoubtedly conceived some hope of a pardon, for he exclaimed, as the cardinal himself says, “That is a mighty sharp trick, to have not only scattered a great faction, but, by removing its object, to have annihilated all hopes of re-uniting it. Only the sagacity of the king and his minister could have made such a hit; it was well done to have caught Monsieur between touch-and-go (entre bond et volee). The prince, when he knows of this, will be very vexed, though he do not say so, and the count (of Soissons, nephew of Conde) will weep over it with his mother.”

The hopes of Chalais were deceived. He had written to the king to confess his fault. “I was only thirteen days in the faction,” he said; but those thirteen days were enough to destroy him. In vain did his friends intercede passionately for him; in vain did his mother write to the king the most touching letter. “I gave him to you, sir, at eight years of age; he is a grandson of Marshal Montluc and President Jeannin; his family serve you daily, but dare not throw themselves at your feet for fear of displeasing you; nevertheless, they join with me in begging of you the life of this wretch, though he should have to end his days in perpetual imprisonment, or in serving you abroad.” Chalais was condemned to death on the 18th of August, 1626, by the criminal court established at Nantes for that purpose; all the king’s mercy went no farther than a remission of the tortures which should have accompanied the execution. He sent one of his friends to assure his mother of his repentance. “Tell him,” answered the noble lady, “that I am very glad to have the consolation he gives me of, his dying in God; if I did not think that the sight of me would be too much for him, I would go to him and not leave him until his head was severed from his body; but, being unable to be of any help to him in that way, I am going to pray God for him.” And she returned into the church of the nuns of Sainte-Claire. The friends of Chalais had managed to have the executioner carried off, so as to retard his execution; but an inferior criminal, to whom pardon had been granted for the performance of this service, cut off the unfortunate culprit’s head in thirty-one strokes. [Memoires d’un Favori du Duc d’ Orleans (Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France), 2d series, t. iii.] “The sad news was brought to the Duke of Orleans, who was playing abbot; he did not leave the game, and went on as if instead of death he had heard of deliverance.” An example of cruelty which might well have discouraged the friends of the Duke of Orleans “from dying a martyr’s death for him” like the unhappy Chalais.

It has been said that Richelieu was neither meddlesome nor cruel, but that he was stern and pitiless; and he gave proof of that the following year, on an occasion when his personal interests were not in any way at stake. At the outset of his ministry, in 1624, he had obtained from the king a severe ordinance against duels—a fatal custom which was at that time decimating the noblesse.

Double Duel——188

Already several noblemen, amongst others M. du Plessis-Praslin, had been deprived of their offices or sent into exile in consequence of their duels, when M. de Bouteville, of the house of Montmorency, who had been previously engaged in twenty-one affairs of honor, came to Paris to fight the Marquis of Beuvron on the Place Royale. The Marquis’s second, M. de fussy d’Amboise, was killed by the Count of Chapelles, Bouteville’s second. Beuvron fled to England. M. de Bouteville and his comrade had taken post for Lorraine; they were recognized and arrested at Vitry-le-Brule and brought back to Paris; and the king immediately ordered Parliament to bring them to trial. The crime was flagrant and the defiance of the kings orders undeniable; but the culprit was connected with the greatest houses in the kingdom; he had given striking proofs of bravery in the king’s service; and all the court interceded for him. Parliament, with regret, pronounced condemnation, absolving the memory of Bussy d’Amboise, who was a son of President De Mesmes’s wife, and reducing to one third of their goods the confiscation to which the condemned were sentenced. “Parliament has played the king,” was openly said in the queen’s ante-chamber; “if the things proceed to execution, the king will play Parliament.”

“The cardinal was much troubled in spirit,” says he himself “it was impossible to have a noble heart and not pity this poor gentleman, whose youth and courage excited so much compassion.” However, whilst expounding, according to his practice, to the king the reasons for and against the execution of the culprits, Richelieu let fall this astounding expression: “It is a question of breaking the neck of duels or of your Majesty’s edicts.”

Louis XIII. did not hesitate: though less stern than his brother, he was, more indifferent, and “the love he bore his kingdom prevailed over his compassion for these two gentlemen.” Both died with courage. “There was no sign of anything weak in their words or mean in their actions. They received the news that they were to die with the same visage as they would have that of pardon,” “in such sort that they who had lived like devils were seen dying like saints, and they who had cared for nothing but to foment duels serving towards the extinction of them.” [Memoires d’un Favori du Due d’ Orleans (Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France), t. ii.]

The cardinal had got Chalais condemned as a conspirator; he had let Bouteville be executed as a duellist; the greatest lords bent beneath his authority, but the power that depends on a king’s favor is always menaced and tottering. The enemies of Richelieu had not renounced the idea of overthrowing him; their hopes even went on growing, since, for some time past the queen-mother had been waxing jealous of the all powerful minister, and no longer made common cause with him. The king had returned in triumph from the siege of La Rochelle; the queen-mother hoped to retain him by her at court; but the cardinal, ever on the watch over the movements of Spain, prevailed upon Louis XIII. to support his subject, the Duke of Nevers, legitimate heir to Mantua and Montferrat, of which the Spaniards were besieging the capital. The army began to march, but the queen designedly retarded the movements of her son. The cardinal was appointed generalissimo, and the king, who had taken upon himself the occupation of Savoy, was before long obliged by his health to return to Lyons, where he fell seriously ill. The two queens hurried to his bedside; and they were seconded by the keeper of the seals, M. de Marillac, but lately raised to power by Richelieu as a man on whom he could depend, and now completely devoted to the queen-mother’s party.

At the news of the king’s danger, the cardinal quitted St. Jean de Maurienne for a precipitate journey to Lyons; but he was soon obliged to return to his army. During the king’s convalescence, the resentment of the queen-mother against the minister, as well as that of Anne of Austria, had free course; and when the royal train took the road slowly back to Paris, in the month of October, the ruin of the cardinal had been resolved upon.

What a trip was that descent of the Loire from Roanne to Briare in the same boat and “at very close quarters between the queen-mother and the cardinal!” says Bassompierre. “She hoped that she would more easily be able to have her will, and crush her servant with the more facility, the less he was on his guard against it; she looked at him with a kindly eye, accepted his dutiful attentions and respects as usual, and spoke to him with as much appearance of confidence as if she had wholly given it him.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. pp. 303-305.]

The king had requested his mother “to put off for six weeks or two months the grand move against the cardinal, for the sake of the affairs of his kingdom, which were then at a crisis in Italy” [Memoires de Bassompierre, t. iii. p. 276], and she had promised him; but Richelieu “suspected something wrong, and discovered more,” and, on the 12th of November, 1630, when mother and son were holding an early conference at the Luxembourg, a fine palace which Mary de’ Medici had just finished, “the cardinal arrived there; finding the door of the chamber closed, he entered the gallery and went and knocked at the door of the cabinet, where he obtained no answer. Tired of waiting, and knowing the ins and outs of the mansion, he entered by the little chapel; whereat the king was somewhat dismayed, and said to the queen in despair, ‘Here he is!’ thinking, no doubt, that he would blaze forth. The cardinal, who perceived this dismay, said to them, ‘I am sure you were speaking about me.’ The queen answered, ‘We were not.’ Whereupon, he having replied, ‘Confess it, madam,’ she said yes, and thereupon conducted herself with great tartness towards him, declaring to the king ‘that she would not put up with the cardinal any longer, or see in her house either him or any of his relatives and friends, to whom she incontinently gave their dismissal, and not to them only, but even down to the pettiest of her officers who had come to her from his hands.’” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. p. 428.]

The struggle was begun. Already the courtiers were flocking to the Luxembourg; the keeper of the seals, Marillac, had gone away to sleep at his country-house at Glatigny, quite close to Versailles, where the king was expected; and he was hoping that Louis XIII. would summon him and put the power in his hands. The king was chatting with his favorite St. Simon, and tapping with his finger-tips on the window-pane. “What do you think of all this?” he asked. “Sir,” was the reply, “I seem to be in another world, but at any rate you are master.” “Yes, I am,” answered the king, “and I will make it felt too.” He sent for Cardinal La Vallette, son of the Duke of Epernon, but devoted to Richelieu. “The cardinal has a good master,” he said: “go and make my compliments to him, and tell him to come to me without delay.” [Memoires de Bassompierre, t. iii. p. 276.]

'tapping With his Finger-tips on the Window-pane.’——191

With all his temper and the hesitations born of his melancholy mind, Louis XIII. could appreciate and discern the great interests of his kingdom and of his power. The queen had supposed that the king would abandon the cardinal, and “that her private authority as mother, and the pious affection and honor the king showed her as her son, would prevail over the public care which he ought, as king, to take of his kingdom and his people. But God, who holds in His hand the hearts of princes, disposed things otherwise: his Majesty resolved to defend his servant against the malice of those who prompted the queen to this wicked design.” [Memoires de Richelieu.] He conversed a long while with the cardinal, and when the keeper of the seals awoke the next morning, it was to learn that the minister was at Versailles with the king, who had lodged him in a room under his own, that his Majesty demanded the seals back, and that the exons were at his, Marillac’s, door to secure his person.

At the same time was despatched a courier to headquarters at Foglizzo in Piedmont. The three marshals Schomberg, La Force, and Marillac, had all formed a junction there. Marillac, brother of the keeper of the seals, held the command that day; and he was awaiting with patience the news, already announced by his brother, of the cardinal’s disgrace. Marshal Schomberg opened the despatches; and the first words that met his eye were these, written in the king’s own hand: “My dear cousin, you will not fail to arrest Marshal Marillac; it is for the good of my service and for your own exculpation.” The marshal was greatly embarrassed; a great part of the troops had come with Marillac from the army of Champagne and were devoted to him. Schomberg determined, on the advice of Marshal La Force, in full council of captains, to show Marillac the postcript. “Sir,” answered the marshal, “a subject must not murmur against his master, nor say of him that the things he alleges are false. I can protest with truth that I have done nothing contrary to his service. The truth is, that my brother the keeper of the seals and I have always been the servants of the queen-mother; she must have had the worst of it, and Cardinal Richelieu has won the day against her and her servants.” [Memoires de Puy-Seyur.]

Thus arrested in the very midst of the army he commanded, Marshal Marillac was taken to the castle of St. Menehould and thence to Verdun, where a court of justice extraordinary sat upon his case. It was cleared of any political accusation: the marshal was prosecuted for peculation and extortion, common crimes at that time with many generals, and always odious to the nation, which regarded their punishment with favor. “It is a very strange thing,” said Marillac, “to prosecute me as they do; my trial is a mere question of hay, straw, wood, stones, and lime; there is not case enough for whipping a lackey.” There was case enough for sentencing to death a marshal of France. The proceedings lasted eighteen months; the commission was transferred from Verdun to Ruel, to the very house of the cardinal. Marillac was found guilty by a majority of one only. The execution took place on the 10th of May, 1632. The former keeper of the seals, Michael de Marillac, died of decline at Chateaudun, three months after the death of his brother.

Dupes’ Day was over and lost. The queen-mother’s attack on Richelieu had failed before the minister’s ascendency and the king’s calculating fidelity to a servant he did not like; but Mary de’ Medici’s anger was not calmed, and the struggle remained set between her and the cardinal. The Duke of Orleans, who had lost his wife after a year’s marriage, had not hitherto joined his mother’s party, but all on a sudden, excited by his grievances, he arrived at the cardinal’s, on the 30th of January, 1631, “with a strong escort, and told him that he would consider it a strange purpose that had brought him there; that, so long as he supposed that the cardinal would serve him, he had been quite willing to show him amity; now, when he saw that he foiled him in everything that be had promised, to such extent that the way in which he, Monsieur, had behaved himself, had served no end but to make the world believe that he had abandoned the queen his mother, he had come to take back the word he had given him to show him affection.” On leaving the cardinal’s house, Monsieur got into his carriage and went off in haste to Orleans, whilst the king, having received notice from Richelieu, was arriving with all despatch from Versailles to assure his minister “of his protection, well knowing that nobody could wish him ill, save for the faithful services he rendered him.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 444.]

The queen-mother had undoubtedly been aware of the Duke of Orleans’ project, for she had given up to him Madame’s jewels which he had confided to her; she nevertheless sent her equerry to the king, protesting “that she had been much astonished when she heard of Monsieur’s departure, that she had almost fainted on the spot, and that Monsieur had sent her word that he was going away from court because he could no longer tolerate the cardinal’s violent proceedings against her.

“When the king signified to her that he considered this withdrawal very strange, and let her know that he had much trouble in believing that she knew nothing about it, she took occasion to belch forth fire and flames against the cardinal, and made a fresh attempt to ruin him in the king’s estimation, though she had previously bound herself by oath to take no more steps against him.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. ii. p. 465.]

The cardinal either had not sworn at all or did not consider himself more bound than the queen by oaths. Their Majesties set out for Compiegne; there the minister brought the affair before the council, explaining with a skilful appearance of indifference the different courses to be taken, and ending by propounding the question of his own retirement or the queen-mother’s. “His Majesty, without hesitation, made his own choice, taking the resolution of returning to Paris and of begging the queen-mother to retire for the time being to one of his mansions, particularly recommending Moulins, which she had formerly expressed to the late king a wish to have; and, in order that she might be the better contented with it, he offered her the government of it and of all the province.” Next day, February 23, 1631, before the queen-mother was up, her royal son had taken the road back to Paris, leaving Marshal D’Estrees at Compiegne to explain to the queen his departure and to hasten his mother’s, a task in which the marshal had but small success, for Mary de’ Medici declared that, if they, meant to make her depart, they would have to drag her stark naked from her bed. She kept herself shut up in the castle, refusing to go out and complaining of the injury the seclusion did to her health; then she fled by night from Compiegne, attended by one gentleman only, to go and take refuge in Flanders, whence she arrived before long at Brussels.

The cardinal’s game was definitively won. Mary de’ Medici had lost all empire over her son, whom she was never to see again.

The Duke of Orleans meanwhile had taken the road to Lorraine, seeking a refuge in the dominions of a prince able, crafty, restless, and hostile to France from inclination as well as policy. Smitten, before long, with the duke’s sister, Princess Margaret, Gaston of Orleans married her privately, with a dispensation from the Cardinal of Lorraine, all which did not prevent either duke or prince from barefacedly denying the marriage when the king reproached them with having contracted this marriage without his consent. In the month of June, 1632, the Duke of Orleans entered France again at the head of some wretched regiments, refuse of the Spanish army, given to him by Don Gonzalvo di Cordova. For the first time, he raised the standard of revolt openly. For him it was of little consequence, accustomed as he was to place himself at the head of parties that he abandoned without shame in the hour of danger; but he dragged along with him in his error a man worthy of another fate and of another chief. Henry, Duke of Montmorency, marshal of France, and governor of Languedoc, was a godson of Henry IV., who said one day to M. de Villeroy and to President Jeannin, “Look at my son Montmorency, how well made he is; if ever the house of Bourbon came to fail, there is no family in Europe which would so well deserve the crown of France as, his, whose great men have always supported it, and even added to it at the price of their blood.” Shining at court as well as in arms, kind and charitable, beloved of everybody and adored by his servants, the Duke of Montmorency had steadily remained faithful to the king up to the fatal day when the Duke of Orleans entangled him in his hazardous enterprise. Languedoc was displeased with Richelieu, who had robbed it of some of its privileges; the duke had no difficulty in collecting adherents there; and he fancied himself to be already wielding the constable’s sword, five times borne by a Montmorency, when Gaston of Orleans entered France and Languedoc sooner than he had been looked for, and with a smaller following than he had promised. The eighteen hundred men brought by the king’s brother did not suffice to re-establish him, with the queen his mother, in the kingdom; the governor of Languedoc made an appeal to the Estates then assembled at Pezenas; he was supported by the Bishop of Alby and by that of Nimes; the province itself proclaimed revolt. The sums demanded by the king were granted to the duke, whom the deputies prayed to remain faithful to the interests of the province, just as they promised never to abandon his. The Archbishop of Narbonne alone opposed this rash act; he left the Estates, where he was president, and the duke marched out to meet Monsieur as far as Lunel. “Troops were levied throughout the province and the environs as openly as if it had been for the king.” But the regiments were slow in forming; the Duke of Orleans wished to gain over some of the towns; Narbonne and Montpellier closed their gates. The bishop’s influence had been counted upon for making sure of Nimes, and Montmorency everywhere tried to practise on the Huguenots; “but the Reformed ministers of Nimes, having had advices by letter from his Majesty, whereby he represented himself to have been advertised that the principal design of Monsieur was to excite them of the religion styled Reformed, considered themselves bound in their own defence to do more than the rest for the king’s service. They assembled the consistory, resolved to die in obedience to him, went to seek the consuls and requested them to have the town-council assembled, in order that it might be brought to take a similar resolution; which the consuls, gained over by M. de Montmorency, refused.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. p. 160.] Thereupon the ministers sent off in haste to Marshal La Force, who had already taken position at Pont-Saint-Esprit with his army; and, he having despatched some light horse on the 26th of July, the people cried, “Hurrah! for the king!” the bishop was obliged to fly, and the town was kept to its allegiance. “Beaucaire, the governor of which had been won over,” made armed resistance. “If we beat the king’s army,” said the Duke of Montmorency on returning to Pezenas after this incident, “we shall have no lack of towns; if not, we shall have to go and make our court at Brussels.”

At the news of his brother’s revolt, the king, who happened to be on the frontiers of Lorraine, had put himself in motion, but he marched at his ease and by short stages, “thinking that the fire Monsieur would kindle would be only a straw fire.”

He hurried his movements when he heard of Montmorency’s uprising, and left Paris after having put the seals upon the duke’s house, who had imprudently left five hundred and fifty thousand livres there; the money was seized and lodged in the royal safe. The Princess of Guemene, between whom and Montmorency there were very strong ties, went to see the cardinal, who was in attendance on the king. “Sir,” she said to him, “you are going to Languedoc; remember the great marks of attachment that M. de Montmorency showed you not long ago; you cannot forget then without ingratitude.” Indeed, when the king believed himself to be dying at Lyons, he had recommended the cardinal to the Duke of Montmorency, who had promised to receive him into his government. “Madam,” replied Richelieu coldly, “I have not been the first to break off.”

Already the Parliament of Toulouse, remaining faithful to the king, had annulled the resolutions of the Estates, the letters and commissions of the governor; and the Parliament of Paris had just enregistered a resolution against the servants and adherents of the Duke of Orleans, as rebels guilty of high treason and disturbers of the common peace. Six weeks were granted the king’s brother to put an end to all acts of hostility; else the king was resolved to decree against him, after that interval of delay, “whatsoever he should consider it his duty to do for the preservation of his kingdom, according to the laws of the realm and the example of his predecessors.”

It was against Marshal Schomberg that Montmorency was advancing. The latter found himself isolated in his revolt, shut up within the limits of his government, between the two armies of the king, who was marching in person against him. Calculations had been based upon an uprising of several provinces and the adhesion of several governors, amongst others of the aged Duke of Epernon, who had sent to Monsieur to say, “I am his very humble servant; let him place himself in a position to be served;” but no one moved, the king every day received fresh protestations of fidelity, and the Duke of Epernon had repaired to Montauban to keep that restless city to its duty, and to prevent any attempt from being made in the province.

At three leagues’ distance from Castelnaudary, Marshal Schomberg was besieging a castle called St. Felix-de-Carmain, which held out for the Duke of Orleans. Montmorency advanced to the aid of the place; he had two thousand foot and three thousand horse; and the Duke of Orleans accompanied him with a large number of gentlemen. The marshal had won over the defenders of St. Felix, and he was just half a league from Castelnaudary when he encountered the rebel army. The battle began almost at once. Count de Moret, natural son of Henry IV. and Jacqueline de Bueil, fired the first shot. Hearing the noise, Montmorency, who commanded the right wing, takes a squadron of cavalry, and, “urged on by that impetuosity which takes possession of all brave men at the like juncture, he spurs his horse forward, leaps the ditch which was across the road, rides over the musketeers, and, the mishap of finding himself alone causing him to feel more indignation than fear, he makes up his mind to signalize by his resistance a death which he cannot avoid.” Only a few gentlemen had followed him, amongst others an old officer named Count de Rieux, who had promised to die at his feet and he kept his word. In vain had Montmorency called to him his men-at-arms and the regiment of Ventadour; the rest of the cavalry did not budge. Count de Moret had been killed; terror was everywhere taking possession of the men. The duke was engaged with the king’s light horse; he had just received two bullets in his mouth. His horse, “a small barb, extremely swift,” came down with him and he fell wounded in seventeen places, alone, without a single squire to help him. A sergeant of a company of the guards saw him fall, and carried him into the road; some soldiers who were present burst out crying; they seemed to be lamenting their general’s rather than their prisoner’s misfortune. Montmorency alone remained as if insensible to the blows of adversity, and testified by the grandeur of his courage that “in him it had its seat in a place higher than the heart.” [Journal du Duc de Montmorency (Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France), t. iv.]

Henry, Duke of Montmorency, at Castelnaudary——199

Whilst the army of the Duke of Orleans was retiring, carrying off their dead, nearly all of the highest rank, the king’s men were bearing away Montnmorency, mortally wounded, to Castelnaudary. His wife, Mary Felicia des Ursins, daughter of the Duke of Bracciano, being ill in bed at Beziers, sent him a doctor, together with her equerry, to learn the truth about her husband’s condition. “Thou’lt tell my wife,” said the duke, “the number and greatness of the wounds thou hast seen, and thou’lt assure her that it which I have caused her spirit is incomparably more painful, to me than all the others.” On passing through the faubourgs of the town, the duke desired that his litter should be opened, “and the serenity that shone through the pallor of his visage moved the feelings of all present, and forced tears from the stoutest and the most stolid.” [Journal du Due de Montmorency (Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France), t. iv.]

The Duke of Orleans did not lack the courage of the soldier; he would fain have rescued Montmorency and sought to rally his forces; but the troops of Languedoc would obey none but the governor; the foreigners mutinied, and the king’s brother had no longer an army. “Next day, when it was too late,” says Richelieu, “Monsieur sent a trumpeter to demand battle of Marshal Schomberg, who replied that he would not give it, but that, if he met him, he would try to defend himself against him.” Monsieur considered himself absolved from seeking the combat, and henceforth busied himself about nothing but negotiation. Alby, Beziers, and Pezenas hastened to give in their submission. It was necessary for the Duchess of Montmorency, ill and in despair, to quicken her departure from Beziers, where she was no longer safe. “As she passed along the streets she heard nothing but a confusion of voices amongst the people, speaking insolently of those who would withdraw in apprehension.” The king was already at Lyons.

He was at Pont-Saint-Esprit when he sent a message to his brother, from whom he had already received emissaries on the road. The first demands of Gaston d’Orleans were still proud; he required the release of Montmorency, the rehabilitation of all those who had served his party and his mother’s, places of surety and money. The king took no notice; and a second envoy from the prince was put in prison. Meanwhile, the superintendent of finance, M. de Bullion, had reached him from the king, and “found the mind of Monsieur very penitent and well disposed, but not that of all the rest, for Monsieur confessed that he had been ill-advised to behave as he did at the cardinal’s house, and afterwards leave the court; acknowledging himself to be much obliged to the king for the clemency he had shown to him in his proclamation, which had touched him to the heart, and that he was bounden therefor to the cardinal, whom he had always liked and esteemed, and believed that he also on his side liked him.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. viii. p. 196.]

The Duchess of Montmorency knew Monsieur, although she, it was said, had pressed her husband to join him; and all ill as she was, had been following him ever since the battle of Castelnaudary, in the fear lest he should forget her husband in the treaty. She could not, unfortunately, enter Beziers, and it was there that the arrangements were concluded. Monsieur protested his repentance, cursing in particular Father Chanteloube, confessor and confidant of the queen his mother, “whom he wished the king would have hanged; he had given pretty counsel to the queen, causing her to leave the kingdom; for all the great hopes he had led her to conceive, she was reduced to relieve her weariness by praying to God.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. viii. p. 196.] As for Monsieur, he was ready to give up all intelligence with Spain, Lorraine, and the queen his mother, “who could negotiate her business herself.” He bound himself to take no interest “in him or those who had connected themselves with him on these occasions for their own purposes, and he would not complain should the king make them suffer what they had deserved.” It is true that he added to these base concessions many entreaties in favor of M. de Montmorency; but M. de Bullion did not permit him to be under any delusion. “It is for your Highness to choose,” he said, “whether or not you prefer to cling to the interests of M. de Montmorency, displease the king and lose his good graces.” The prince signed everything; then he set out for Tours, which the king had assigned for his residence, receiving on the way, from town to town, all the honors that would have been paid to his Majesty himself. M. de Montmorency remained in prison.

“He awaited death with a resignation which is inconceivable,” says the author of his Memoires; “never did man speak more boldly than he about it; it seemed as if he were recounting another’s perils when he described his own to his servants and his guards, who were the only witnesses of such lofty manliness.” His sister, the Princess of Conde, had a memorial prepared for his defence put before him. He read it carefully, then he tore it up, “having always determined,” he said, “not to (chicaner) go pettifogging for (or, dispute) his life.” “I ought by rights to answer before the Parliament of Paris only,” said he to the commission of the Parliament of Toulouse instructed to conduct his trial, “but I give up with all my heart this privilege and all others that might delay my sentence.”

There was not long to wait for the decree. On arriving at Toulouse, October 27, at noon, the duke had asked for a confessor. “Father,” said he to the priest, “I pray you to put me this moment in the shortest and most certain path to heaven that you can, having nothing more to hope or wish for but God.” All his family had hurried up, but without being able to obtain the favor of seeing the king. “His Majesty had strengthened himself in the resolution he had taken from the first to make in the case of the said Sieur de Montmorency a just example for all the grandees of his kingdom in the future, as the late king his father had done in the person of Marshal Biron,” says Richelieu in his Memoires. The Princess of Conde could not gain admittance to his Majesty, who lent no ear to the supplications of his oldest servants, represented by the aged Duke of Epernon, who accused himself by his own mouth of having but lately committed the same crime as the Duke of Montmorency. “You can retire, duke,” was all that Louis XIII. deigned to reply. “I should not be a king if I had the feelings of private persons,” said he to Marshal Chatillon, who pointed out to him the downcast looks and swollen eyes of all his court.

It was the 30th of October, early: and the Duke of Montmorency was sleeping peacefully. His confessor came and awoke him. “Surgite, eamus (rise, let us be going),” he said, as he awoke; and when his surgeon would have dressed his wounds, “Now is the time to heal all my wounds with a single one,” he said, and he had himself dressed in the clothes of white linen he had ordered to be made at Lectoure for the day of execution. When the last questions were put to him by the judges, he answered by a complete confession; and when the decree was made known to him, “I thank you, gentlemen,” said he to the commissioners, “and I beg you to tell all them of your body from me, that I hold this decree of the king’s justice for a decree of God’s mercy.” He walked to the scaffold with the same tranquillity, saluting right and left those whom he knew, to take leave of them; then, having with difficulty placed himself upon the block, so much did his wounds still cause him to suffer, he said out loud, “Domine Jesu, accipe spiritum meum (Lord Jesus, receive my spirit)!” As his head fell, the people rushed forward to catch his blood and dip their handkerchiefs in it.

Henry de Montmorency was the last of the ducal branch of his house, and was only thirty-seven.

It was a fine opportunity for Monsieur to once more break his engagements. Shame and anxiety drove him equally. He was universally reproached with Montmorency’s death; and he was by no means easy on the subject of his marriage, of which no mention had been made in the arrangements. He quitted Tours and withdrew to Flanders, writing to the king to complain of the duke’s execution, saying that the life of the latter had been the tacit condition of his agreement, and that, his promise being thus not binding, he was about to seek a secure retreat out of the kingdom. “Everybody knows in what plight you were, brother, and whether you could have done anything else,” replied the king.

“What think you, gentlemen, was it that lost the Duke of Montmorency his head?” said Cardinal Zapata to Bautru and Barrault, envoys of France, whom he met in the antechamber of the King of Spain. “His crimes,” replied Bautru. “No,” said the cardinal, “but the clemency of his Majesty’s predecessors.” Louis XIII. and Cardinal Richelieu have assuredly not merited that, reproach in history.

So many and such terrible examples were at last to win the all-powerful minister some years of repose. Once only, in 1636, a new plot on the part of Monsieur and the Count of Soissons threatened not only his power, but his life. The king’s headquarters were established at the castle of Demuin; and the princes, urged on by Montresor and Saint-Ibal, had resolved to compass the cardinal’s death. The blow was to be struck at the exit from the council. Richelieu conducted the king back to the bottom of the staircase.

The King and the Cardinal——204

The two gentlemen were awaiting the signal; but Monsieur did not budge, and retired without saying a word. The Count of Soissons dared not go any further, and the cardinal mounted quietly to his own rooms, without dreaming of the extreme peril he had run. Richelieu was rather lofty than proud, and too clear-sighted to mistake the king’s feelings towards him. Never did he feel any confidence in his position; and never did he depart from his jealous and sometimes petty watchfulness. Any influence foreign to his own disquieted him in proximity to a master whose affairs he governed altogether, without ever having been able to get the mastery over his melancholy and singular mind.

Women filled but a small space in the life of Louis XIII. Twice, however, in that interval of ten years which separated the plot of Montmorency from that of Cinq-Mars, did the minister believe himself to be threatened by feminine influence; and twice he used artifice to win the monarch’s heart and confidence from two young girls of his court, Louise de La Fayette and Marie d’Hautefort. Both were maids of honor to the queen. Mdlle. d’Hautefort was fourteen years old when, in 1630, at Lyons, in the languors of convalescence, the king first remarked her blooming and at the same time severe beauty, and her air of nobility and modesty; and it was not long before the whole court knew that he had remarked her, for his first care, at the sermon, was to send the young maid of honor the velvet cushion on which he knelt for her to sit upon. Mdlle. d’Hautefort declined it, and remained seated, like her companions, on the ground; but henceforth the courtiers’ eyes were riveted on her movements, on the interminable conversations in which she was detained by the king, on his jealousies, his tiffs, and his reconciliations. After their quarrels, the king would pass the greater part of the day in writing out what he had said to Mdlle. d’Hautefort and what she had replied to him. At his death, his desk was found full of these singular reports of the most innocent, but also most stormy and most troublesome love-affair that ever was. The king was especially jealous of Mdlle. d’Hautefort’s passionate devotion to the queen her mistress, Anne of Austria. “You love an ingrate,” he said, “and you will see how she will repay your services.” Richelieu had been unable to win Mdlle. d’Hautefort; and he did his best to embitter the tiff which separated her from the king in 1635. But Louis XIII. had learned the charm of confidence and intimacy; and he turned to Louise de La Fayette, a charming girl of seventeen, who was as virtuous as Mdlle. d’Hautefort, but more gentle and tender than she, and who gave her heart in all guilelessness to that king so powerful, so a-weary, and so melancholy at the very climax of his reign. Happily for Richelieu, he had a means, more certain than even Mdlle. d’Hautefort’s pride, of separating her from Louis XIII.; Mdlle. de La Fayette, whilst quite a child, had serious ideas of becoming a nun; and scruples about being false to her vocation troubled her at court, and even in those conversations in which she reproached herself with taking too much pleasure, Father Coussin, her confessor, who was also the king’s, sought to quiet her conscience; he hoped much from the influence she could exercise over the king; but Mdlle. de La Fayette, feeling herself troubled and perplexed, was urgent. When the Jesuit reported to Louis XIII. the state of his fair young friend’s feelings, the king, with tears in his eyes, replied, “Though I am very sorry she is going away, nevertheless I have no desire to be an obstacle to her vocation; only let her wait until I have left for the army.” She did not wait, however. Their last interview took place at the queen’s, who had no liking for Mdlle. de La Fayette; and, as the king’s carriage went out of the court-yard, the young girl, leaning against the window, turned to one of her companions and said, “Alas! I shall never see him again!” But she did see him again often for some time. He went to see her in her convent, and “remained so long glued to her grating,” says Madame de Motteville, “that Cardinal Richelieu, falling a prey to fresh terrors, recommenced his intrigues to tear him from her entirely. And he succeeded.” The king’s affection for Mdlle. d’Hautefort awoke again. She had just rendered the queen an important service. Anne of Austria was secretly corresponding with her two brothers, King Philip IV. and the Cardinal Infante, a correspondence which might well make the king and his minister uneasy, since it was carried on through Madame de Chevreuse, and there was war at the time with Spain. The queen employed for this intercourse a valet named Laporte, who was arrested and thrown into prison. The chancellor removed to Val-de-Grace, whither the queen frequently retired; he questioned the nuns and rummaged Anne of Austria’s cell. She was in mortal anxiety, not knowing what Laporte might say or how to unloose his tongue, so as to keep due pace with her own confessions to the king and the cardinal. Mdlle. d’Hautefort disguised herself as a servant, went straight to the Bastille, and got a letter delivered to Laporte, thanks to the agency of Commander de Jars, her friend, then in prison. The confessions of mistress and agent being thus set in accord, the queen obtained her pardon, but not without having to put up with reproaches and conditions of stern supervision. Madame de Chevreuse took fright, and went to seek refuge in Spain. The king’s inclination towards Mdlle. d’Hautefort revived, without her having an idea of turning it to profit on her own account. “She had so much loftiness of spirit that she could never have brought herself to ask anything for herself and her family; and all that could be wrung from her was to accept what the king and queen were pleased to give her.”

Richelieu had never forgotten Mdlle. d’Hautefort’s airs: he feared her, and accused her to the king of being concerned in Monsieur’s continual intrigues. Louis XIII.‘s growing affection for young Cinq-Mars, son of Marshal d’Effiat, was beginning to occupy the gloomy monarch; and he the more easily sacrificed Mdlle. d’Hautefort. The cardinal merely asked him to send her away for a fortnight. She insisted upon hearing the order from the king’s own mouth. “The fortnight will last all the rest of my life,” she said: “and so I take leave of your Majesty forever.” She went accompanied by the regrets and tears of Anne of Austria, and leaving the field open to the new favorite, the king’s “rattle,” as the cardinal called him.

M. de Cinq-Mars was only nineteen when he was made master of the wardrobe and grand equerry of France. Brilliant and witty, he amused the king and occupied the leisure which peace gave him. The passion Louis XIII. felt for his favorite was jealous and capricious. He upbraided the young man for his flights to Paris to see his friends and the elegant society of the Marais, and sometimes also Mary di Gonzaga, daughter of the Duke of Mantua, wooed but lately by the Duke of Orleans, and not indifferent, it was said, to the vows of M. Le Grand, as Cinq-Mars was called. The complaints were detailed to Richelieu by the king himself in a strange correspondence, which reminds one of the “reports” of his quarrels with Mdlle. d’Hautefort. “I am very sorry,” wrote Louis XIII. on the 4th of January, 1641, “to trouble you about the ill tempers of M. Le Grand. I upbraided him with his heedlessness; he answered that for that matter he could not change, and that he should do no better than he had done. I said that, considering his obligations to me, he ought not to address me in that manner. He answered in his usual way: that he didn’t want my kindness, that he could do very well without it, and that he would be quite as well content to be Cinq-Mars as M. Le Grand, but, as for changing his ways and his life, he couldn’t do it. And so, he continually knagging at me and I at him, we came as far as the court-yard, when I said to him that, being in the temper he was in, he would do me the pleasure of not coming to see me. I have not seen him since. Signed, Louis.” This time the cardinal reconciled the king and the favorite, whom he had himself placed near him, but whose constant attendance upon the king his master he was beginning to find sometimes very troublesome. “One day he sent word to him not to be for the future so continually at his heels, and treated him even to his face with so much tartness and imperiousness as if he had been the lowest of his valets.” Cinq-Mars began to lend an ear to those who were egging him on against the cardinal.

Then began a series of negotiations and intrigues; the Duke of Orleans had come back to Paris, the king was ill and the cardinal more so than he; thence arose conjectures and insensate hopes; the Duke of Bouillon, being sent for by the king, who confided to him the command of the army of Italy, was at the same time drawn into the plot which was beginning to be woven against the minister; the Duke of Orleans and the queen were in it; and the town of Sedan, of which Bouillon was prince-sovereign, was wanted to serve the authors of the conspiracy as an asylum in case of reverse. Sedan alone was not sufficient; there was need of an army. Whence was it to come? Thoughts naturally turned towards Spain.

For so perilous a treaty a negotiator was required, and the grand equerry proposed his friend, Viscount de Fontrailles, a man of wit, who detested the cardinal, and who would have considered it a simpler plan to assassinate him; he consented, however, to take charge of the negotiation, and he set out for Madrid, where his treaty was soon concluded, in the name of the Duke of Orleans. The Spaniards were to furnish twelve thousand foot and five thousand horse, four hundred thousand crowns down, twelve thousand crowns’ pay a month, and three hundred thousand livres to fortify the frontier-town which was promised by the duke. Sedan, Cinq-Mars, and the Duke of Bouillon were only mentioned in a separate instrument.

The king was then at Narbonne, on his way to his army, which was besieging Perpignan. The grand equerry was with him. Fontrailles went to call upon him. “I do not intend to be seen by anybody,” said he, “but to make speedily for England, as I do not think I am strong enough to undergo the torture the cardinal might put me to in his own room on the least suspicion.” On the 21st of April, the cardinal was dangerously ill, and the king left him at Narbonne a prey to violent fever, with an abscess on the arm which prevented him from writing, whilst Cinq-Mars, ever present and ever at work, was doing his best to insinuate into his master’s mind suspicion of the minister, and the hopes founded upon his disgrace or death. The king listened, as he subsequently avowed, in order to discover his favorite’s wicked thoughts and make him tell all he had in his heart. “The king was tacitly the head of this conspiracy,” says Madame de Motteville: “the grand equerry was the soul of it; the name made use of was that of the Duke of Orleans, the king’s only brother; and their counsel was the Duke of Bouillon, who joined with them because, having belonged to the party of M. de Soissons, he was in very ill odor at court. They all formed fine projects touching the change that was to take place to the advantage of their aggrandizement and fortunes, persuading themselves that the cardinal could not live above a few days, during which he would not be able to set himself right with the king.” Such were their projects and their hopes when the Gazette de France, on the 21st of June, 1642, gave these two pieces of news both together. “The cardinal-duke, after remaining two days at Arles, embarked on the 11th of this month for Tarascon, his health becoming better and better. The king has ordered under arrest Marquis de Cinq-Mars, grand equerry of France.”

Great was the surprise, and still greater was the dismay, amongst the friends of Cinq-Mars. “Your grand designs are as well known at Paris as that the Seine flows under the Pont Neuf,” wrote Mary di Gonzaga to him a few days previously.

Those grand designs so imprudently divulged caused a presentiment of great peril. When left alone with his young favorite, and suddenly overwhelmed, amidst his army, with cares and business of which his minister usually relieved him, the king had too much wit not to perceive the frivolous insignificance of Cinq-Mars compared with the mighty capability of the cardinal. “I love you more than ever,” he wrote to Richelieu: “we have been too long together to be ever separated, as I wish everybody to understand.” In reply, the cardinal had sent him a copy of the treaty between Cinq-Mars and Spain.

The king could not believe his eyes; and his wrath equalled his astonishment. Together with that of the grand equerry he ordered the immediate arrest of M. de Thou, his intimate friend; and the order went out to secure the Duke of Bouillon, then at the head of the army of Italy. He, caught, like Marshal Marillac, in the midst of his troops, had vainly attempted to conceal himself; but he was taken and conducted to the castle of Pignerol. Fontrailles had seen the blow coming. He went to visit the grand equerry, and, “Sir,” said he, “you are a fine figure; if you were shorter by the whole head, you would not cease to be very tall; as for me, who am already very short, nothing could be taken off me without inconveniencing me and making me cut the poorest figure in the world; you will be good enough, if you please, to let me get out of the way of edged tools.” And he set out for Spain, whence he had hardly returned.

What had become of the most guilty, if not the most dangerous, of all the accomplices? Monsieur, “the king’s only (unique) brother,” as Madame de Motteville calls him, had come as far as Moulins, and had sent to ask the grand equerry to appoint a place of meeting, when he heard of his accomplice’s arrest, and, before long, that of the Duke of Bouillon. Frightened to death as he was, he saw that treachery was safer than flight, and, just as the king had joined the all but dying cardinal at Tarascon, there arrived an emissary from the Duke of Orleans bringing letters from him. He assured the king of his fidelity; he entreated Chavigny, the minister’s confidant, to give him “means of seeing his Eminence before he saw the king, in which case all would go well.” He appealed to the cardinal’s generosity, begging him to keep his letter as an eternal reproach, if he were not thenceforth the most faithful and devoted of his friends.

Abbe de La Riviere, who was charged to implore pardon for his master, was worthy of such a commission: he confessed everything, he signed everything, though he “all but died of terror,” and, at the cardinal’s demand, he soon brought all those poltrooneries written out in the Duke of Orleans’ own hand. The prince was all but obliged to appear at the trial and deliver up his accomplices in the face of the whole world. The respect, however, of Chancellor Seguier for his rank spared him this crowning disgrace. The king’s orders to his brother, after being submitted to the cardinal, bore this note in the minister’s hand: “Monsieur will have in his place of exile twelve thousand crowns a month, the same sum that the King of Spain had promised to give him.”

“Paralysis of the arm did not prevent the head from acting;” the dying cardinal had dictated to the king, stretched on a couch at his side, in a chamber of his house at Monfrin, near Tarascon, those last commands which completed the dishonor of the Duke of Orleans and the ruin of the favorite. Louis XIII. slowly took the road back to Fontainebleau in the cardinal’s litter, which the latter had lent him. The prisoners were left in the minister’s keeping, who ordered them before long to Lyons, whither he was himself removed. The grand equerry coming from Montpellier, M. de Thou from Tarascon, in a boat towed by that of the cardinal, and the Duke of Bouillon from Pignerol, were all three lodged in the castle of Pierre-Encise. Their examination was put off until the arrival of such magistrates “as should be capable of philosophizing and perpetually thinking of the means they must use for arriving at their ends.” That was useless, inasmuch as the grand equerry “never ceased to say quite openly that he had done nothing to which the king had not consented.”

Louis XIII. was, no doubt, affected by such language; for, scarcely had he arrived at Fontainebleau, whither he had been preceded by news of the end of the queen his mother, who had died at Cologne in exile and poverty, when he wrote to all the parliaments of his kingdom, to the governors of the provinces, and to the ambassadors at foreign courts, to give his own account of the arrest of the guilty and the part he himself had played in the matter. “The notable and visible change which had for the last year appeared in the conduct of Sieur de Cinq-Mars, our grand equerry, made us resolve, as soon as we perceived it, to carefully keep watch on his actions and his words, in order to fathom them and discover what could be the cause. To this end, we resolved to let him act and speak with us more freely than heretofore.” And in a letter written straight to the chancellor, the king exclaims in wrath, “It is true that having seen me sometimes dissatisfied with the cardinal, whether from the apprehension I felt lest he should hinder me from going to the siege of Perpignan, or induce me to leave it, for fear lest my health might suffer, or from any other like reason, the said Sieur de Cinq-Mars left nothing undone to chafe me against my said cousin, which I put up with so long as his evil offices were confined within the bounds of moderation. But when he went so far as to suggest to me that the cardinal must be got rid of, and offered to carry it out himself, I conceived a horror of his evil thoughts, and held them in detestation. Although I have only to say so for you to believe it, there is nobody who can deem but that it must have been so; for, otherwise, what motive would he have had for joining himself to Spain against me, if I had approved of what he desired?”

The trial was a foregone conclusion; the king and his brother made common cause in order to overwhelm the accused, “an earnest of a peace which was not such as God announced with good will to man on Christmas day,” writes Madame de Motteville, “but such as may exist at court and amongst brothers of royal blood.”

The cardinal did not think it necessary to wait for the sentence. He had arrived at his house at Lyons, in a sort of square chamber, covered with red damask, and borne on the shoulders of eighteen guards; there, stretched upon his couch, a table covered with papers beside him, he worked and chatted with whomsoever of his servants he had been pleased to have as his companion on the road. It was in the same equipage that he left Lyons to gain the Loire and return to Paris. On his passage, it was necessary to pull down lumps of wall and throw bridges over the fosses to make way for this vast litter and the indomitable man that lay dying within it.

It was on the 12th of September, 1642, that the accused appeared before the commission; there were now but two of them; the Duke of Bouillon had made his private arrangement with the cardinal, confessing everything, and requesting “to have his life spared in order that he might employ it to preserve to the Catholic church five little children whom his death would leave to persons of the opposite religion.” In consideration of this pardon, a demand was made upon him to give up Sedan to the king, “though it were easy to gain possession of-it by investment.” The duke consented to all, and he awaited in his dungeon at Pierre-Encise the execution of his accomplices who had no town to surrender. Their death was to be the signal of his liberation.

The two accused denied nothing. M. de Thou merely maintained that he had not been in any way mixed up with the conspiracy, proving that he had blamed the treaty with Spain, and that his only crime was not having revealed it. “He believed me to be his friend, his one faithful friend,” said he, speaking of Cinq-Mars, “and I had no mind to betray him.” The grand equerry told in detail the story of the plot, his connection with the Duke of Orleans, who had missed no opportunity of paying court to him, the resolutions taken in concert with the Duke of Bouillon, and the treaty concluded with Spain, “confessing that he had erred, and had no hope but in the clemency of the king, and of the cardinal, whose generosity would be so much the more shown in asking pardon for him as he was the less bound to do so.” There was not long to wait for the decree; the votes were unanimous against the grand equerry, a single one of the judges pronouncing in favor of M. de Thou. The latter turned towards Cinq-Mars, and said, “Ah! well, sir; humanly speaking, I might complain of you; you have placed me in the dock, and you are the cause of my death; but God knows how I love you. Let us die, sir, let us die courageously, and win Paradise.”

The decree against Cinq-Mars sentenced him to undergo the question in order to get a more complete revelation of his accomplices. “It had been resolved not to put him to it,” says Tallemant des Reaux: “but it was exhibited to him nevertheless; it gave him a turn, but it did not make him do anything to belie himself, and he was just taking off his doublet, when he was told to raise his hand in sign of telling the truth.”

The execution was not destined to be long deferred; the very day on which the sentence was delivered saw the execution of it. “The grand equerry showed a never-changing and very resolute firmness to the death, together with admirable calmness and the constancy and devoutness of a Christian,” wrote M. du Marca, councillor of state, to the secretary of state Brionne; and Tallemant des Reaux adds, “He died with astoundingly great courage, and did not waste time in speechifying; he would not have his eyes bandaged, and kept them open when the blow was struck.” M. de Thou said not a word save to God, repeating the Credo even to the very scaffold, with a fervor of devotion that touched all present. “We have seen,” says a report of the time, “the favorite of the greatest and most just of kings lose his head upon the scaffold at the age of twenty-two, but with a firmness which has scarcely its parallel in our histories. We have seen a councillor of state die like a saint after a crime which men cannot justly pardon. There is nobody in the world who, knowing of their conspiracy against the state, does not think them worthy of death, and there will be few who, having knowledge of their rank and their fine natural qualities, will not mourn their sad fate.”

Cinq-mars and de Thou Going to Execution——215

“Now that I make not a single step which does not lead me to death, I am more capable than anybody else of estimating the value of the things of the world,” wrote Cinq-Mars to his mother, the wife of Marshal d’Effiat. “Enough of this world; away to Paradise!” said M. de Thou, as he marched to the scaffold. Chalais and Montmorency had used the same language. At the last hour, and at the bottom of their hearts, the frivolous courtier and the hare-brained conspirator, as well as the great soldier and the grave magistrate, had recovered their faith in God.







The story has been told of the conspiracies at court and the repeated checks suffered by the great lords in their attempts against Cardinal Richelieu. With the exception of Languedoc, under the influence of its governor the Duke of Montmorency, the provinces took no part in these enterprises; their opposition was of another sort; and it is amongst the parliaments chiefly that we must look for it.

“The king’s cabinet and his bed-time business (petit coucher) cause me more embarrassment than the whole of Europe causes me,” said the cardinal in the days of the great storms at court; he would often have had less trouble in managing the parliaments and the Parliament of Paris in particular, if the latter had not felt itself supported by a party at court. For a long time past a pretension had been put forward by that great body to give the king advice, and to replace towards him the vanished states-general. “We hold the place in council of the princes and barons, who from time immemorial were near the person of the kings,” was the language used, in 1615, in the representations of the Parliament, which had dared, without the royal order, to summon the princes, dukes, peers, and officers of the crown to deliberate upon what was to be done for the service of the king, the good of the state, and the relief of the people.

This pretension on the part of the parliaments was what Cardinal Richelieu was continually fighting against. He would not allow the intervention of the magistrates in the government of the state. When he took the power into his hands, nine parliaments sat in France—Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Dijon, Rouen, Aix, Rennes, and Pau: he created but one, that of Metz, in 1633, to severe in a definitive manner the bonds which still attached the three bishoprics to the Germanic empire. Trials at that time were carried in the last resort to Spires.

Throughout the history of France we find the Parliament of Paris bolder and more enterprising than all the rest: and it did not belie its character in the very teeth of Richelieu. When, after Dupes’ Day was over, Louis XIII. declared all the companions of his brother’s escape guilty of high treason, the Parliament of Dijon, to which the decree was presented by the king himself, enregistered it without making any difficulty. All the other parliaments followed the example; that of Paris alone resisted, and its decision on the 25th of April contained a bitter censure upon the cardinal’s administration. On the 12th of May, the decision of that Parliament was quashed by a decree of the royal council, and all its members were summoned to the Louvre; on their knees they had to hear the severe reprimand delivered by Chateauneuf, keeper of the seals; and one president and three counsellors were at the same time dismissed. When the Parliament, still indomitable, would have had those magistrates sit in defiance of the royal order, they were not to be found in their houses; the soldiery had carried them off.

The Parliament of Paris Reprimanded——217

The trial of Marshal Marillac, before a commission, twice modified during the course of proceedings, of the Parliament of Dijon, was the occasion of a fresh reclamation on the part of the Parliament of Paris; and the king’s ill-humor against the magistrates burst forth on the occasion of a commission constituted at the Arsenal to take cognizance of the crime of coining. The Parliament made some formal objections the king, who was at that time at Metz with his troops, summoned President Seguier and several counsellors. He quashed the decree of the Parliament. “You are only constituted,” said he, “to judge between Master Peter and Master John (between John Doe and Richard Roe); if you go on as at present, I will pare your nails so close that you’ll be sorry for it.” Five counsellors were interdicted, and had great trouble in obtaining authority to sit again. So many and such frequent squabbles, whether about points of jurisdiction or about the registration of edicts respecting finances, which the Parliament claimed to have the right of looking into, caused between the king, inspired by his minister, and the Parliament of Paris an irritation which reached its height during the trial of the Duke of La Valette, third son of the Duke of Epernon, accused, not without grounds, of having caused the failure of the siege of Fontarabia from jealousy towards the Prince of Conde. The affair was called on before a commission composed of dukes and peers, some councillors of state and some members of the Parliament, which demanded that the duke should be removed to its jurisdiction. “I will not have it,” answered the king; “you are always making difficulties; it seems as if you wanted to keep me in leading-strings; but I am master, and shall know how to make myself obeyed: It is a gross error to suppose that I have not a right to bring to judgment whom I think proper and where I please.” The king himself asked the judges for their opinion. [Isambert, Recueil des anciennes Lois Francaises, t. xvi.] “Sir,” replied Counsellor Pinon, dean of the grand chamber, “for fifty years I have been in the Parliament, and I never saw anything of this sort; M. de La Valette had the honor of wedding a natural sister of your Majesty, and he is, besides, a peer of France; I implore you to remove him to the jurisdiction of the Parliament.” “Your opinion!” said the king, curtly. “I am of opinion that the Duke of La Valette be removed to be tried before the Parliament.” “I will not have that; it is no opinion.” “Sir, removal is a legitimate opinion.” “Your opinion on the case!” rejoined the king, who was beginning to be angry; “if not, I know what I must do.” President Bellievre was even bolder. “It is a strange thing,” said he to Louis XIII.‘s face, “to see a king giving his vote at the criminal trial of one of his subjects; hitherto kings have reserved to themselves the rights of grace, and have removed to their officers’ province the sentencing of culprits. Could your Majesty bear to see in the dock a nobleman, who might leave your presence only for the scaffold? It is incompatible with kingly majesty.” “Your opinion on the case!” bade the king. “Sir, I have no other opinion.” The Duke of La Valette had taken refuge in England: he was condemned and executed in effigy. The attorney-general, Matthew Mold, “did not consider it his business to carry out an execution of that sort: “and recourse was obliged to be had to the lieutenant-governor of convicts at the Chatelet of Paris.

The cup had overflowed, and the cardinal resolved to put an end to an opposition which was the more irritating inasmuch as it was sometimes legitimate. A notification of the king’s, published in 1641, prohibited the Parliament from any interference in affairs of state and administration. The whole of Richelieu’s home-policy is summed up in the preamble to that instrument, a formal declaration of absolute power concentrated in the hands of the king. “It seemeth that, the institution of monarchies having its foundation in the government of a single one, that rank is as it were the soul which animates them and inspires them with as much force and vigor as they can have short of perfection. But as this absolute authority raises states to the highest pinnacle of their glory, so, when it happens to be enfeebled, they are observed, in a short time, to fall from their high estate. There is no need to go out of France to find instances of truth. . . . The fatal disorders and divisions of the League, which ought to be buried in eternal oblivion, owed their origin and growth to disregard of the kingly authority Henry the Great, in whom God had put the most excellent virtues of a great prince, on succeeding to the crown of Henry III., restored by his valor the kingly authority which had been as it were cast down and trampled under foot. France recovered her pristine vigor, and let all Europe see that power concentrated in the person of the sovereign is the source of the glory and greatness of monarchies, and the foundation upon which their preservation rests. . . . We, then, have thought it necessary to regulate the administration of justice, and to make known to our parliaments what is the legitimate usage of the authority which the kings, our predecessors, and we have deposited with them, in order that a thing which was established for the good of the people may not produce contrary effects, as would happen if the officers, instead of contenting themselves with that power which makes them judges in matters of life and death and touching the fortunes of our subjects, would fain meddle in the government of the state which appertains to the prince only.”

The cardinal had gained the victory. Parliament bowed the head; its attempts at independence during the Fronde were but a flash, and the yoke of Louis XIV. became the more heavy for it. The pretensions of the magistrates were often foundationless, the restless and meddlesome character of their assemblies did harm to their remonstrances; but for a long while they maintained, in the teeth of more and more absolute kingly power, the country’s rights in the government, and they had perceived the dangers of that sovereign monarchy which certainly sometimes raises states to the highest pinnacle of their glory, but only to let them sink before long to a condition of the most grievous abasement.

Though always first in the breach, the Parliament of Paris was not alone in its opposition to the cardinal. The Parliament of Dijon protested against the sentence of Marshal Marillac, and refused, to its shame, to bear its share of the expenses for the defence of Burgundy against the Duke of Lorraine, in 1636, a refusal which cost it the suspension of its premier president.

The Parliament of Brittany, in defence of its jurisdictional privileges, refused to enregister the decree which had for object the foundation of a company trading with the Indies, “for the general trade between the West and the East,” a grand idea of Richelieu’s, the seat of which was to be in the roads of Morbihan; the company, already formed, was disheartened, thanks to the delays caused by the Parliament, and the enterprise failed. The Parliament of Grenoble, fearing a dearth of corn in Dauphiny, quashed the treaties of supply for the army of Italy, at the time of the second expedition to Mantua; it went so far as to have the dealers’ granaries thrown open, and the superintendent of finance, D’Emery, was obliged to come to terms with the deputies of Dauphiny, “in order that they of the Parliament of Grenoble, who said they had no interests but those of the province, might have no reason to prevent for the future the transport of corn,” says Richelieu himself in his Memoires.

The Parliament of Rouen had always passed for one of the most recalcitrant. The province of Normandy was rich, and, consequently, overwhelmed with imposts; and several times the Parliament refused to enregister financial edicts which still further aggravated the distress of the people. In 1637 the king threatened to go in person to Rouen and bring the Parliament to submission, whereat it took fright and enregistered decrees for twenty-two millions. It was, no doubt, this augmentation of imposts that brought about the revolt of the Nu-pieds (Barefoots) in 1639. Before now, in 1624 and in 1637, in Perigord and Rouergue, two popular risings of the same sort, under the name of Croquants (Paupers), had disquieted the authorities, and the governor of the province had found some trouble in putting them down. The Nu-pieds were more numerous and more violent still; from Rouen to Avranches all the country was a-blaze. At Coutances and at Vire, several monopoliers and gabeleurs, as the fiscal officers were called, were massacred; a great number of houses were burned, and most of the receiving-offices were pulled down or pillaged. Everywhere the army of suffering (armee de souffrance), the name given by the revolters to themselves, made, appeal to violent passions; popular rhymes were circulated from hand to hand, in the name of General Nu-pieds (Barefoot), an imaginary personage whom nobody ever saw. Some of these verses are fair enough.

The Barefoots——221
                         TO NORMANDY.

               “Dear land of mine, thou canst no more
               What boots it to have served so well?
               For see! thy faithful service bore
               This bitter fruit—the cursed gabelle.
               Is that the guerdon earned by those
               Who succored France against her foes,
               Who saved her kings, upheld her crown,
               And raised the lilies trodden down,
               In spite of all the foe could do,
               In spite of Spain and England too?

               “Recall thy generous blood, and show
               That all posterity may know—
               Duke William’s breed still lives at need:
               Show that thou hast a heavier hand
               Than erst came forth from Northern land;
               A hand so strong, a heart so high,
               These tyrants all shall beaten cry,
               ‘From Normans and the Norman race
               Deliver us, O God of grace!’”

The tumult was more violent at Rouen than anywhere else, and the Parliament energetically resisted the mob. It had sent two counsellors as a deputation to Paris to inform the king about the state of affairs. “You may signify to the gentlemen of the Parliament of Rouen,” said Chancellor Seguier, in answer to the delegates, “that I thank them for the trouble they have taken on this occasion; I will let the king know how they have behaved in this affair. I beg them to go on as they have begun. I know that the Parliament did very good service there.”

In fact, several counsellors, on foot in the street and in the very midst of the revolters, had, at the peril of their lives, defended Le Tellier de Tourneville, receiver-general of gabels, and his officers, whilst the whole Parliament, in their robes, with the premier president at their head, perambulated Rouen, amidst the angry mob, repairing at once to the points most threatened, insomuch that the presidents and counsellors were “in great danger and fear for their skins.” [Histoire du Parlement de Normandy, by M. Floquet, t. iv.] It was this terror, born of tumults and the sight of an infuriated populace, which, at a later period, retarded the Parliament in dealing out justice, and brought down upon it the wrath of the king and of the cardinal.

Meanwhile the insurrection was gaining ground, and the local authorities were powerless to repress it. There was hesitation at the king’s council in choosing between Marshal Rantzau and M. de Gassion to command the forces ordered to march into Normandy. “That country yields no wine,” said the king “that will not do for Rantzau, or be good quarters for him.” And they sent Colonel Gession, not so heavy a drinker as Rantzau, a good soldier and an inflexible character. First at Caen, then at Avranches, where there was fighting to be done, at Coutances and at Elbeuf, Gassion’s soldiery everywhere left the country behind them in subjection, in ruin, and in despair. They entered Rouen on the 31st of December, 1639, and on the 2d of January, 1640, the chancellor himself arrived to do justice on the rebels heaped up in the prisons, whom the Parliament dared not bring up for judgment. “I come to Rouen,” he said, on entering the town, “not to deliberate, but to declare and execute the matters on which my mind is made up.” And he forbade all intervention on the part of the archbishop, Francis de Harlay, who was disposed, in accordance with his office of love as well as the parliamentary name he bore, to implore pity for the culprits, and to excuse the backward judges. The chancellor did not give himself the trouble to draw up sentences. “The decree is at the tip of my staff,” replied Picot, captain of his guards, when he was asked to show his orders. The executions were numerous in Higher and Lower Normandy, and the Parliament received the wages of its tardiness. All the members of the body, even the most aged and infirm, were obliged to leave Rouen. A commission of fifteen councillors of the Parliament of Paris came to replace provisionally the interdicted Parliament of Normandy; and, when the magistrates were empowered at last to resume their sitting, it was only a six months’ term: that is, the Parliament henceforth found itself divided into two fragments, perfect strangers one to the other, which were to sit alternately for six months. “A veritable thunderbolt for that sovereign court, for by the six months’ term,” says M. Floquet, “there was no longer any Parliament, properly speaking, but two phantoms of Parliament, making war on each other, whilst the government had the field open to carve and cut without control.”

“All obedience is now from fear,” wrote Grotius to Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden; “the idea is to exorcise and annihilate hatred by means of terror.” “This year,” wrote an inhabitant of Rouen, “there have been no New Year’s presents [etrennes], no singing of ‘the king’s drinking-song [le roi boit], in any house. Little children will be able to tell tales of it when they have attained to man’s estate; for never, these fifty years past, so far as I can learn, has it been so.” [Journal de l’Abbe de la Rue.] The heaviest imposts weighed upon the whole province, which thus expiated the crime of an insignificant portion of its inhabitants. “The king shall not lose the value of this handkerchief that I hold,” said the superintendent Bullion, on arriving at Rouen. And he kept his word: Rouen alone had to pay more than three millions. The province and its Parliament were henceforth reduced to submission.

It was not only the Parliaments that resisted the efforts of Cardinal Richelieu to concentrate all the power of the government in the hands of the king. From the time that the sovereigns had given up convoking the states-general, the states-provincial had alone preserved the right of bringing to the foot of the throne the plaints and petitions of subjects. Unhappily few provinces enjoyed this privilege; Languedoc, Brittany, Burgundy, Provence, Dauphiny, and the countship of Pau alone were states-districts, that is to say, allowed to tax themselves independently and govern themselves to a certain extent. Normandy, though an elections-district, and, as such, subject to the royal agents in respect of finance, had states which continued to meet even in 1666. The states-provincial were always convoked by the king, who fixed the place and duration of assembly.

The composition of the states-provincial varied a great deal, according to the districts. In Brittany all noblemen settled in the province had the right of sitting, whilst the third estate were represented by only forty deputies. In Languedoc, on the contrary, the nobility had but twenty-three representatives, and the class of the third estate numbered sixty-eight deputies. Hence, no doubt, the divergences of conduct to be remarked in those two provinces between the Parliament and the states-provincial. In Languedoc, even during Montmorency’s insurrection, the Parliament remained faithful to the king and submissive to the cardinal, whilst the states declared in favor of the revolt: in Brittany, the Parliament thwarted Richelieu’s efforts in favor of trade, which had been enthusiastically welcomed by the states.

In Languedoc as well as in Dauphiny the cardinal’s energy was constantly directed towards reducing the privileges which put the imposts, and, consequently, the royal revenues, at the discretion of the states. Montmorency’s insurrection cost Languedoc a great portion of its liberties, which had already been jeoparded, in 1629, on the occasion of the Huguenots’ rising; and those of Dauphiny were completely lost; the states were suppressed in 1628.

The states of Burgundy ordinarily assembled every three years, but they were accustomed, on separating, to appoint “a chamber of states-general,” whereat the nobility, clergy, and third estate were represented, and which was charged to watch over the interests of the province in the interval between the sessions. When, in 1629, Richelieu proposed to create, as in Languedoc, a body of “elect” to arrange with the fiscal agents for the rating of imposts without the concurrence of the states, the assembly proclaimed that “it was all over with the liberties of the province if the edict passed,” and, in the chamber of the nobility, two gentlemen were observed to draw their swords. But, spite of the disturbance which took place at Dijon, in 1630, on occasion of an impost on wines, and which was called, from the title of a popular ditty, la Sedition de Lanturlu, the province preserved its liberties, and remained a states-district.

It was the same subject that excited in Provence the revolt of the Cascaveous, or bell-bearers. Whenever there was any question of elections or “elect,” the conspirators sounded their bells as a rallying signal, and so numerous was the body of adherents that the bells were heard tinkling everywhere. The Prince of Conde was obliged to march against the revolters, and the states assembled at Tarascon found themselves forced to vote a subsidy of one million five hundred thousand livres. At this cost the privileges of Provence were respected.

The states of Brittany, on the contrary, lent the cardinal faithful support, when he repaired thither with the king, in 1626, at the time of the conspiracy of Chalais; the Duke of Vendome, governor of Brittany, had just been arrested; the states requested the king “never to give them a governor issue of the old dukes, and to destroy the fortifications of the towns and castles which were of no use for the defence of the country.” The petty noblemen, a majority in the states, thus delivered over the province to the kingly power, from jealousy of the great lords. The ordinance, dated from Nantes on the 31st of July, 1626, rendered the measure general throughout France. The battlements of the castles fell beneath the axe of the demolishers, and the masses of the district welcomed enthusiastically the downfall of those old reminiscences of feudal oppression.

As a sequel to the systematic humiliation of the great lords, even when provincial governors, and to the gradual enfeeblement of provincial institutions, Richelieu had to create in all parts of France, still so diverse in organization as well as in manners, representatives of the kingly power, of too modest and feeble a type to do without him, but capable of applying his measures and making his wishes respected. Before now the kings of France had several times over perceived the necessity of keeping up a supervision over the conduct of their officers in the provinces. The inquisitors (enquesteurs) of St. Louis, the ridings of the revising-masters (chevauehees des maitres des requetes), the departmental commissioners (commissaires departis) of Charles IX., were so many temporary and travelling inspectors, whose duty it was to inform the king of the state of affairs throughout the kingdom. Richelieu substituted for these shifting commissions a fixed and regular institution, and in 1637 he established in all the provinces overseers of justice, police, and finance, who were chosen for the most part from amongst the burgesses, and who before long concentrated in their hands the whole administration, and maintained the struggle of the kingly power against the governors, the sovereign courts, and the states-provincial.

At the time when the overseers of provinces were instituted, the battle of pure monarchy was gained; Richelieu had no further need of allies, he wanted mere subjects; but at the beginning of his ministry he had felt the need of throwing himself sometimes for support on the nation, and this great foe of the states-general had twice convoked the Assembly of Notables. The first took place at Fontainebleau, in 1625-6. The cardinal was at that time at loggerheads with the court of Rome: “If the Most Christian King,” said he, “is bound to watch over the interests of the Catholic church, he has first of all to maintain his own reputation in the world. What use would it be for a state to have power, riches, and popular government, if it had not character enough to bring other people to form alliance with it?” These few words summed up the great minister’s foreign policy, to protect the Catholic church whilst keeping up Protestant alliances. The Notables understood the wisdom of this conduct, and Richelieu received their adhesion. It was just the same the following year, the day after the conspiracy of Chalais; the cardinal convoked the Assembly of Notables. “We do protest before the living God,” said the letters of convocation, “that we have no other aim and intention but His honor and the welfare of our subjects; that is why we do conjure in His name those whom we convoke, and do most expressly command them, without fear or desire of displeasing or pleasing any, to give us, in all frankness and sincerity, the counsels they shall judge on their consciences to be the most salutary and convenient for the welfare of the commonwealth.” The assembly so solemnly convoked opened its sittings at the palace of the Tuileries on the 2d of December, 1626. The state of the finances was what chiefly occupied those present; and the cardinal himself pointed out the general principles of the reform he calculated upon establishing. “It is impossible,” he said, “to meddle with the expenses necessary for the preservation of the state; it were a crime to think of such a thing. The retrenchment, therefore, must be in the case of useless expenses. The most stringent rules are and appear to be, even to the most ill-regulated minds, comparatively mild, when they have, in deed as well as in appearance, no object but the public good and the safety of the state. To restore the state to its pristine splendor, we need not many ordinances, but a great deal of practical performance.”

The performance appertained to Richelieu, and he readily dispensed with many ordinances. The Assembly was favorable to his measures; but amongst those that it rejected was the proposal to substitute loss of offices and confiscation for the penalty of death in matters of rebellion and conspiracy. “Better a moderate but certain penalty,” said the cardinal, “than a punishment too severe to be always inflicted.” It was the notables who preserved in the hands of the inflexible minister the terrible weapon of which he availed himself so often. The Assembly separated on the 24th of February, 1627, the last that was convoked before the revolution of 1789. It was in answer to its demands, as well as to those of the states of 1614, that the keeper of the seals, Michael Marillac, drew up, in 1629, the important administrative ordinance which has preserved from its author’s name the title of Code Michau.

The cardinal had propounded to the Notables a question which he had greatly at heart—the foundation of a navy. Already, when disposing, some weeks previously, of the government of Brittany, which had been taken away from the Duke of Vendome, he had separated from the office that of admiral of Brittany; already he was in a position to purchase from M. de Montmorency his office of grand admiral of France, so as to suppress it and substitute for it that of grand master of navigation, which was personally conferred upon Richelieu by an edict enregistered on the 18th of March, 1627.

“Of the power which it has seemed agreeable to his Majesty that I should hold,” he wrote on the 20th of January, 1627, “I can say with truth, that it is so moderate that it could not be more so to be an appreciable service, seeing that I have desired no wage or salary so as not to be a charge to the state, and I can add without vanity that the proposal to take no wage came from me, and that his Majesty made a difficulty about letting it be so.”

The Notables had thanked the king, for the intention he had “of being pleased to give the kingdom the treasures of the sea which nature had so liberally proffered it, for without [keeping] the sea one cannot profit by the sea nor maintain war.” Harbors repaired and fortified, arsenals established at various points on the coast, organization of marine regiments, foundation of pilot-schools, in fact, the creation of a powerful marine which, in 1642, numbered sixty-three vessels and twenty-two galleys, that left the roads of Barcelona after the rejoicings for the capture of Perpignan and arrived the same evening at Toulon—such were the fruits of Richelieu’s administration of naval affairs. “Instead,” said the bailiff of Forbin, “of having a handful of rebels forcing us, as of late, to compose our naval forces of foreigners and implore succor from Spain, England, Malta, and Holland, we are at present in a condition to do as much for them if they continue in alliance with us, or to beat them when they fall off from us.”

So much progress on every point, so many efforts in all directions, eighty-five vessels afloat, a hundred regiments of infantry, and three hundred troops of cavalry, almost constantly on a war footing, naturally entailed enormous expenses and terrible burdens on the people. It was Richelieu’s great fault to be more concerned about his object than scrupulous as to the means he employed for arriving at it. His principles were as harsh as his conduct. “Reason does not admit of exempting the people from all burdens,” said he, “because in such case, on losing the mark of their subjection, they would also lose remembrance of their condition, and, if they were free from tribute, would think that they were from obedience also.” Cruel words those, and singularly destitute of regard for Christian charity and human dignity, beside which, however, must be placed these: “If the subsidies imposed on the people were not to be kept within moderate bounds, even when they were needed for the service of the country, they would not cease to be unjust.” The strong common sense of this great mind did not allow him to depart for long from a certain hard equity. Posterity has preserved the memory of his equity less than of his hardness: men want sympathy more than justice.







Cardinal Richelieu has often been accused of indifference towards the Catholic church; the ultramontanes called him the Huguenots’ cardinal; in so speaking there was either a mistake or a desire to mislead; Richelieu was all his life profoundly and sincerely Catholic; not only did no doubt as to the fundamental doctrines of his church trouble his mind, but he also gave his mind to her security and her aggrandizement. He was a believer on conviction, without religious emotions and without the mystic’s zeal; he labored for Catholicism whilst securing for himself Protestant alliances, and if the independence of his mind caused him to feel the necessity for a reformation, it was still in the church and by the church that he would have had it accomplished.

Spirits more fervent and minds more pious than Richelieu’s felt the same need. On emerging from the violent struggles of the religious wars, the Catholic church had not lost her faith, but she had neglected sweetness and light. King Henry IV.‘s conversion had secured to her the victory in France, but she was threatened with letting it escape from her hands by her own fault. God raised up for her some great servents who preserved her from this danger.

The oratorical and political brilliancy of the Catholic church in the reign of Louis XIV. has caused men to forget the great religious movement in the reign of Louis XIII. Learned and mystic in the hands of Cardinal Berulle, humane and charitable with St. Vincent de Paul, bold and saintly with M. de Saint Cyran, the church underwent from all quarters quickening influences which roused her from her dangerous lethargy.

The effort was attempted at all points at once. The priests had sunk into an ignorance as perilous as their lukewarmness. Mid all the diplomatic negotiations which he undertook in Richelieu’s name, and the intrigues he, with the queen-mother, often hatched against him, Cardinal Berulle founded the congregation of the Oratory, designed to train up well-informed and pious young priests with a capacity for devoting themselves to the education of children as well as the edification of the people. “It is a body,” said Bossizet, “in which everybody obeys and nobody commands.” No vow fettered the members of this celebrated congregation, which gave to the world Malebranche and Massillon. It was, again, under the inspiration of Cardinal Berulle, renowned for the pious direction of souls, that the order of Carmelites, hitherto confined to Spain, was founded in France. The convent in Rue St. Jacques soon numbered amongst its penitents women of the highest rank.

The labors of Mgr. de Berulle tended especially to the salvation of individual souls; those of St. Vincent de Paul embraced a vaster field, and one offering more scope to Christian humanity. Some time before, in 1610, St. Francis de Sales had founded, under the direction of Madame de Chantal, the order of Visitation, whose duty was the care of the sick and poor; he had left the direction of his new institution to M. Vincent, as was at that time the appellation of the poor priest without birth and without fortune, who was one day to be celebrated throughout the world under the name of St. Vincent de Paul. This direction was not enough to satisfy his zeal for charity; children and sick, the ignorant and the convict, all those who suffered in body or spirit, seemed to summon M. Vincent to their aid; he founded in 1617, in a small parish of Bresse, the charitable society of Servants of the poor, which became in 1633, at Paris, under the direction of Madame Legras, niece of the keeper of the seals Marillac, the sisterhood off Servants of the sick poor, and the cradle of the Sisters of Charity. “They shall not have, as a regular rule,” said St. Vincent, “any monastery but the houses of the sick, any chapel but their parish-church, any cloister but the streets of the town and the rooms of the hospitals, any enclosure but obedience, any grating but the fear of God, or any veil but the holiest and most perfect modesty.” Eighteen thousand daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, of whom fourteen thousand are French, still testify at this day to the far-sighted wisdom of their founder; his regulations have endured like his work and the necessities of the poor.

It was to the daughters of Charity that M. Vincent confided the work in connection with foundlings, when his charitable impulses led him, in 1638, to take up the cause of the poor little abandoned things who were perishing by heaps at that time in Paris. Appealing for help, on their account, to the women of the world, one evening when he was in want of money, he exclaimed at the house of the Duchess of Aiguillon, Cardinal Richelieu’s niece, “Come now, ladies; compassion and charity have made you adopt these, little creatures as your own children; you have been their mothers according to grace, since their mothers according to nature have abandoned them. Consider, then, whether you too will abandon them; their life and their death are in your hands; it is time to pronounce their sentence, and know whether you will any longer have pity upon them. They will live if you continue to take a charitable care of them; they will die and perish infallibly if you abandon them.” St. Vincent de Paul had confidence in human nature, and everywhere on his path sprang up good works in response to his appeals; the foundation of Mission-priests or Lazarists, designed originally to spread about in the rural districts the knowledge of God, still testifies in the East, whither they carry at one and the same time the Gospel and the name of France, to that great awakening of Christian charity which signalized the reign of Louis XIII. The same inspiration created the seminary of St. Sulpice, by means of M. Olier’s solicitude, the brethren of Christian Doctrine and the Ursulines, devoted to the education of childhood, and so many other charitable or pious establishments, noble fruits of devoutness and Christian sacrifice.

Nowhere was this fructuating idea of the sacrifice, the immolation of man for God and of the present in prospect of eternity, more rigorously understood and practised than amongst the disciples of John du Vergier de Hauranne, Abbot of St. Cyran. More bold in his conceptions than Cardinal Berulle and St. Vincent de Paul, of a nature more austere and at the same time more ardent, he had early devoted himself to the study of theology. Connected in his youth with a Fleming, Jansen, known under the name of Jansenius and afterwards created Bishop of Ypres, he adopted with fervor the doctrines as to the grace of God which his friend had imbibed in the school of St. Augustin, and employing in the direction of souls that zealous ardor which makes conquerors, he set himself to work to regenerate the church by penance, sanctity, and sacrifice; God supreme, reigning over hearts subdued, that was his ultimate object, and he marched towards it without troubling himself about revolts and sufferings, certain that he would be triumphant with God and for Him.

The Abbot of St. Cyran——234

Victories gained over souls are from their very nature of a silent sort: but M. de St. Cyran was not content with them. He wrote also, and his book “Petrus Aurelius,” published under the veil of the anonymous, excited a great stir by its defence of the rights of the bishops against the monks, and even against the pope. The Gallican bishops welcomed at that time with lively satisfaction, its eloquent pleadings in favor of their cause. But, at a later period, the French clergy discovered in St. Cyran’s book free-thinking concealed under dogmatic forms. “In case of heresy any Christian may become judge,” said Petrus Aurelius. Who, then, should be commissioned to define heresy? So M. de St. Cyran was condemned.

He had been already by an enemy more formidable than the assemblies of the clergy of France. Cardinal Richelieu, naturally attracted towards greatness as he was at a later period towards the infant prodigy of the Pascals, had been desirous of attaching St. Cyran to himself. “Gentlemen,” said he one day, as he led back the simple priest into the midst of a throng of his courtiers, “here you see the most learned man in Europe.” But the Abbot of St. Cyran would accept no yoke but God’s: he remained independent, and perhaps hostile, pursuing, without troubling himself about the cardinal, the great task he had undertaken. Having had, for two years past, the spiritual direction of the convent of Port Royal, he had found in Mother Angelica Arnauld, the superior and reformer of the monastery, in her sister, Mother Agnes, and in the nuns of their order, souls worthy of him and capable of tolerating his austere instructions.

Before long he had seen forming, beside Port Royal and in the solitude of the fields, a nucleus of penitents, emulous of the hermits of the desert. M. Le Maitre, Mother Angelica’s nephew, a celebrated advocate in the Parliament of Paris, had quitted all “to have no speech but with God.” A howling (rugissant) penitent, he had drawn after him his brothers, MM. de Sacy and de Sericourt, and, ere long, young Lancelot, the learned author of Greek roots: all steeped in the rigors of penitential life, all blindly submissive to M. de St. Cyran and his saintly requirements. The director’s power over so many eminent minds became too great. Richelieu had comprehended better than the bishops the tendency of M. de St. Cyran’s ideas and writings. “He continued to publish many opinions, new and leading to dangerous conclusions,” says Father Joseph in his Memoires, “in such sort that the king, being advertised, commanded him to be kept a prisoner in the Bois de Vincennes.” “That man is worse than six armies,” said Cardinal Richelieu; “if Luther and, Calvin had been shut up when they began to dogmatize, states would have been spared a great deal of trouble.”

The consciences of men and the ardor of their souls are not so easily stifled by prison or exile. The Abbot of St. Cyran, in spite of the entreaties of his powerful friends, remained at Vincennes up to the death of Cardinal Richelieu; the seclusionists of Port Royal were driven from their retreat and obliged to disperse; but neither the severities of Richelieu, nor, at a later period, those of Louis XIV., were the true cause of the ultimate powerlessness of Jansenism to bring about that profound reformation of the church which had been the dream of the Abbot of St. Cyran. He had wished to immolate sinful man to God, and he regarded sanctity as the complete sacrifice of human nature corrupt to its innermost core. Human conscience could not accept this cruel yoke; its liberty revolted against so narrow a prison; and the Protestant reformation, with a doctrine as austere as that of M. de St. Cyran, but more true and more simple in its practical application, offered strong minds the satisfaction of direct and personal relations between God and man; it saw the way to satisfy them without crushing them; and that is why the kingly power in France succeeded in stifling Jansenism without having ever been able to destroy the Protestant faith.

Cardinal Richelieu dreaded the doctrines of M. de St. Cyran, and still more those of the reformation, which went directly to the emancipation of souls; but he had the wit to resist ecclesiastical encroachments, and, for all his being a cardinal, never did minister maintain more openly the independence of the civil power. “The king, in things temporal, recognizes no sovereign save God.” That had always been the theory of the Gallican church. “The church of France is in the kingdom, and not the kingdom in the church,” said the jurisconsult Loyseau, thus subjecting ecclesiastics to the common law of all citizens.

The French clergy did not understand it so; they had recourse to the liberties of the Gallican church in order to keep up a certain measure of independence as regarded Rome, but they would not give up their ancient privileges, and especially the right of taking an independent share in the public necessities without being taxed as a matter of law and obligation. Here it was that Cardinal Richelieu withstood them: he maintained that, the ecclesiastics and the brotherhoods not having the right to hold property in France by mortmain, the king tolerated their possession, of his grace, but he exacted the payment of seignorial dues. The clergy at that time possessed more than a quarter of the property in France; the tax to be paid amounted, it is said, to eighty millions. The subsidies further demanded reached a total of eight millions six hundred livres.

The clergy in dismay wished to convoke an assembly to determine their conduct; and after a great deal of difficulty it was authorized by the cardinal. Before long he intimated to the five prelates who were most hostile to him that they must quit the assembly and retire to their dioceses. “There are,” said the Bishop of Autun, who was entirely devoted to Richelieu, “some who show great delicacy about agreeing to all that the king demands, as if they had a doubt whether all the property of the church belonged to him or not, and whether his Majesty, leaving the ecclesiastics wherewithal to provide for their subsistence and a moderate establishment, could not take all the surplus.” That sort of doctrine would never do for the clergy; still they consented to pay five millions and a half, the sum to which the minister lowered his pretensions. “The wants of the state,” said Richelieu, “are real; those of the church are fanciful and arbitrary; if the king’s armies had not repulsed the enemy, the clergy would have suffered far more.”

Whilst the cardinal imposed upon the French clergy the obligations common to all subjects, he defended the kingly power and majesty against the Ultramoutanes, and especially against the Jesuits. Several of their pamphlets had already been censured by his order when Father Sanctarel published a treatise on heresy and schism, clothed with the pope’s approbation, and containing, amongst other dangerous propositions, the following: “The pope can depose emperor and kings for their iniquities or for personal incompetence, seeing that he has a sovereign, supreme, and absolute power.” The work was referred to the Parliament, who ordered it to be burned in Place de Greve; there was talk of nothing less than the banishment of the entire order.

Father Cotton, superior of the French Jesuits, was summoned to appear before the council; he gave up Father Sanctarel unreservedly, making what excuse he best could for the approbation of the pope and of the general of the Jesuits. The condemnation of the work was demanded, and it was signed by sixteen French fathers. The Parliament was disposed to push the matter farther, when Richelieu, always as prudent as he was firm in his relations with this celebrated order, represented to the king that there are “certain abuses which are more easily put down by passing them over than by resolving to destroy them openly, and that it was time to take care lest proceedings should be carried to a point which might be as prejudicial to his service as past action had been serviceable to it.” The Jesuits remained in France, and their college at Clermont was not closed; but they published no more pamphlets against the cardinal. They even defended him at need.

Richelieu’s grand quarrel with the clergy was nearing its end when the climax was reached of a disagreement with the court of Rome, dating from some time back. The pope had never forgiven the cardinal for not having accepted his mediation in the affair with Spain on the subject of the Valteline; he would not accede to the desire which Richelieu manifested to become legate of the Holy See in France, as Cardinal d’Amboise had been; and when Marshal d’Estrees arrived as ambassador at Rome, his resolute behavior brought the misunderstanding to a head: the pope refused the customary funeral honors to Cardinal La Valette, who had died in battle, without dispensation, at the head of the king’s army in Piedmont. Richelieu preserved appearances no longer; the king refused to receive the pope’s nuncio, and prohibited the bishops from any communication with him. The quarrel was envenomed by a pamphlet called Optatus Gallus. The cardinal’s enemies represented him as a new Luther ready to excite a schism and found a patriarchate in France. Father Rabardeau, of the Jesuits’ order, maintained, in reply, that the act would not be schismatical, and that the consent of Rome would be no more necessary to create a patriarchate in France than it had been to establish those of Constantinople and Jerusalem.

Urban VIII. took fright; he sent to France Julius Mazarin, at that time vice-legate, and already frequently employed in the negotiations between the court of Rome and Cardinal Richelieu, who had taken a great fancy to him. The French clergy had just obtained authority to vote the subsidy in an assembly; and the pope contented himself with this feeble concession. Mazarin put the finishing touch to the reconciliation, and received as recompense the cardinal’s hat. In fact, the victory of the civil power was complete, and the independence of the crown clearly established. “His Holiness,” said the cardinal, “ought to commend the zeal shown by his Majesty for the welfare of the church, and to remain satisfied with the respect shown him by an appeal to his authority which his Majesty might have dispensed with in this matter, having his Parliaments to fall back upon for the chastisement of those who lived evilly in his kingdom.” In principle, the supreme question between the court of Rome and the kingly power remained undecided, and it showed wisdom on the part of Urban VIII., as well as of Cardinal Richelieu, never to fix fundamentally and within their exact limits the rights and pretensions of the church or the crown.

Cardinal Richelieu had another battle to deliver, and another victory, which was to be more decisive, to gain. During his exile at Avignon, he had written against the Reformers, violently attacking their doctrines and their precepts; he was, therefore, personally engaged in the theological strife, and more hotly than has been made out; but he was above everything a great politician, and the rebellion of the Reformers, their irregular political assemblies, their alliances with the foreigner, occupied him, far more than their ministers’ preaching. It was state within state that the reformers were seeking to found, and that the cardinal wished to upset. Seconded by the Prince of Conde, the king had put an end to the war which cost the life of the constable De Luynes, but the peace concluded at Montpellier on the 19th of November, 1622, had already received many a blow; pacific counsels amongst the Reformers were little by little dying out together with the old servants of Henry IV.; Du Plessis-Mornay had lately died (November 11, 1623) at his castle of Foret-sur-Sevres, and the direction of the party fell entirely into the hands of the Duke of Rohan, a fiery temper and soured by misfortunes as well as by continual efforts made on the part of his brother, the Duke of Soubise, more restless and less earnest than he. Hostilities broke out afresh at the beginning of the year 1625. The Reformers complained that, instead of demolishing Fort Louis, which commanded La Rochelle, all haste was being made to complete the ramparts they had hoped to see razed to the ground: a small royal fleet mustered quietly at Le Blavet, and threatened to close the sea against the Rochellese. The peace of Montpellier had left the Protestants only two surety-places, Montauban and La Rochelle; and they clung to them with desperation. On the 6th of January, 1625, Soubise suddenly entered the harbor of Le Blavet with twelve vessels, and seizing without a blow the royal ships, towed them off in triumph to La Rochelle—a fatal success, which was to cost that town dear.

The royal marine had hardly an existence; after the capture made by Soubise, help had to be requested from England and Holland; the marriage of Henrietta of France, daughter of Henry IV., with the Prince of Wales, who was soon to become Charles I., was concluded; the English promised eight ships; the treaties with the United Provinces obliged the Hollanders to supply twenty, which they would gladly have refused to send against their brethren, if they could; the cardinal even required that the ships should be commanded by French captains. “One lubber may ruin a whole fleet,” said he, “and a captain of a ship, if assured by the enemy of payment for his vessel, may undertake to burn the whole armament, and that the more easily inasmuch as he would think he was making a grand sacrifice to God, for the sake of his religion.”

Meanwhile, Soubise had broken through the feeble obstacles opposed to him by the Duke of Vendome, and, making himself master of all the trading-vessels he encountered, soon took possession of the Islands of Re and Oleron and effected descents even into Medoc, whilst the Duke of Rohan, leaving the duchess his wife, Sully’s daughter, at Castres, where he had established the seat of his government, was scouring Lower Languedoc and the Cevennes to rally his partisans. The insurrection was very undecided, and the movement very irregular. Nimes, Uzes, and Alais closed their gates; even Montauban hesitated a long while before declaring itself. The Duke of Epernon ravaged the outskirts of that place. “At night,” writes his secretary, “might be seen a thousand fires. Wheat, fruit trees, vines, and houses were the food that fed the flames.” Marshal Themine did the same all round Castres, defended by the Duchess of Rohan.

There were negotiations, nevertheless, already. Rohan and Soubise demanded to be employed against Spain in the Valteline, claiming the destruction of Fort Louis; parleys mitigated hostilities; the Duke of Soubise obtained a suspension of arms from the Dutch Admiral Haustein, and then, profiting by a favorable gust of wind, approached the fleet, set fire to the admiral’s ship, and captured five vessels, which he towed off to the Island of Re. But he paid dear for his treachery: the Hollanders, in their fury, seconded with more zeal the efforts of the Duke of Montmorency, who had just taken the command of the squadron; the Island of Re was retaken and Soubise obliged to retreat in a shallop to Oleron, leaving for “pledge his sword and his hat, which dropped off in his flight.” Nor was the naval fight more advantageous for Soubise. “The battle was fierce, but the enemy had the worst,” says Richelieu in his Memoires: “night coming on was favorable to their designs; nevertheless, they were so hotly pursued, that on the morrow, at daybreak, eight of their vessels were taken.” Soubise sailed away to England with the rest of his fleet, and the Island of Oleron surrendered.

The moment seemed to have come for crushing La Rochelle, deprived of the naval forces that protected it; but the cardinal, still at grips with Spain in the Valteline, was not sure of his allies before La Rochelle. In Holland all the churches echoed with reproaches hurled by the preachers against states that gave help against their own brethren to Catholics; at Amsterdam the mob had besieged the house of Admiral Haustein; and the Dutch fleet had to be recalled. The English Protestants were not less zealous; the Duke of Soubise had been welcomed with enthusiasm, and, though Charles I., now King of England and married, had refused to admit the fugitive to his presence, he would not restore to Louis XIII. the vessels, captured from that king and his subjects, which Soubise had brought over to Portsmouth.

The game was not yet safe; and Richelieu did not allow himself to be led astray by the anger of fanatics who dubbed him State Cardinal. “The cardinal alone, to whom God gave the blessedness of serving the king and restoring to his kingdom its ancient lustre, and to his person the power and authority meet for royal Majesty which is the next Majesty after the divine, saw in his mind the means of undoing all those tangles, clearing away all those mists, and emerging to the honor of his master from all those confusions.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 2.]

Marshal Bassompierre was returning from his embassy to Switzerland, having secured the alliance of the Thirteen Cantons in the affair of the Valteline, when it was noised abroad that peace with Spain was signed. Count du Fargis, it was said, had, in an excess of zeal, taken upon himself to conclude without waiting for orders from Paris. Bassompierre was preparing a grand speech against this unexpected peace, but during the night he reflected that the cardinal had perhaps been not so much astonished as he would have made out. “I gave up my speech,” says he, “and betook myself to my jubilee.”

The Huguenots, on their side, yielded at the entreaties of the ambassadors who had been sent by the English to France, “with orders to beg the Rochellese to accept the peace which the king had offered them,” and who omitted neither arguments nor threats in order to arrive at that conclusion; whence it came to pass that, by a course of conduct full of unwonted dexterity, the Huguenots were brought to consent to peace for fear of that with Spain, and the Spaniards to make peace for fear of that with the Huguenots.

The greatest difficulty the cardinal had to surmount was in the king’s council; he was not ignorant that by getting peace made with the Huguenots, and showing him that he was somewhat inclined to favor their cause with the king, he might expose himself to the chance of getting into bad odor at Rome. But in no other way could he arrive at his Majesty’s ends. His cloth made him suspected by the Huguenots; it was necessary, therefore, to behave so that they should think him favorable to them, for by so doing he found means of waiting more conveniently for an opportunity of reducing them to the terms to which all subjects ought to be reduced in a state, that is to say, inability to form any separate body, and liability to accept their sovereign’s wishes.

“It was a grievous thing for him to bear, to see himself so unjustly suspected at the court of Rome, and by those who affected the name of zealous Catholics; but he resolved to take patiently the rumors that were current about him, apprehending that if he had determined to clear himself of them effectually, he might not find that course of advantage to his master or the public.”

The cardinal, in fact, took it patiently, revising and then confirming the treaty with Spain, and imposing on the Huguenots a peace so hard, that they would never have accepted it but for the hope of obtaining at a later period some assuagements, with the help of England, which refused formally to help them to carry on the war. At the first parleys the king had said, “I am disposed enough towards peace; I am willing to grant it to Languedoc and the other provinces. As for La Rochelle, that is another thing.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii.] It was ultimately La Rochelle that paid the expenses of the war, biding the time when the proud city, which had resisted eight kings in succession, would have to succumb before Louis XIII. and his all-powerful minister. Already her independence was threatened on all sides; the bastions and new fortifications had to be demolished; no armed vessel of war might be stationed in her harbor. “The way was at last open,” said the cardinal, “to the extermination of the Huguenot party, which, for a hundred years past, had divided the kingdom.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. p. 17.]

Demolishing the Fortifications——244

The peace of 1626, then, was but a preliminary to war. Richelieu was preparing for it by land and sea; vessels of war were being built, troops were being levied; and the temper of England furnished a pretext for commencing the struggle. King Charles I., at the instigation of his favorite the Duke of Buckingham, had suddenly and unfeelingly dismissed the French servants of the queen his wife, without giving her even time to say good by to them, insomuch that “the poor princess, hearing their voices in the court-yard, dashed to the window, and, breaking the glass with her head, clung with her hands to the bars to show herself to her women and take the last look at them. The king indignantly dragged her back with so great an effort that he tore her hands right away.” Louis XIII. had sent Marshal Bassompierre to England to complain of the insult done to his sister; the Duke of Buckingham wished to go in person to France to arrange the difference, but the cardinal refused. “Has Buckingham ever undertaken any foreign commission without going away dissatisfied and offended with the princes to whom he was sent?” said Cardinal Richelieu to the king. So the favorite of Charles I. resolved to go to France “in other style and with other attendants than he had as yet done; having determined to win back the good graces of the Parliament and the people of England by the succor he was about to carry to the oppressed Protestant churches,” he pledged his property; he sold the trading-vessels captured on the coasts of France; and on the 17th of July, 1627, he set sail with a hundred and twenty vessels, heading for La Rochelle. Soubise was on board his ship; and the Duke of Rohan, notified of the enterprise, had promised to declare himself the moment the English set foot in France. Already he was preparing his manifesto to the churches, avowing that he had summoned the English to his legitimate defence, and that, since the king had but lately been justified in employing the arms of the Hollanders to defeat them, much more reasonably might he appeal to those of the English their brethren for protection against him.

This time the cardinal was ready; he had concluded an alliance with Spain against England, “declaring merely to the King of Spain that he was already at open war with England, and that he would put in practice with all the power of his forces against his own states all sorts of hostilities permissible in honorable warfare, which his Majesty also promised to do by the month of June, 1628, at the latest.” The king set out to go and take in person the command of the army intended to give the English their reception. He had gone out ill from the Parliament, where he had been to have some edicts enregistered. “I did nothing but tremble all the time I was holding my bed of justice,” he said to Bassompierre. “It is there, however, that you make others tremble,” replied the marshal. Louis XIII. was obliged to halt at Villeroy, where the cardinal remained with him, “being all day at his side, and most frequently not leaving him at night; he, nevertheless, had his mind constantly occupied with giving orders, taking care above everything to let it appear before the king that he had no fear; he preferred to put himself in peril of being blamed or ruined in well-doing, rather than, in order to secure himself, to do anything which might be a cause of illness to his Majesty.” In point of fact, Richelieu was not without anxiety, for Sieur de Toiras, a young favorite of the king’s, to whom he had entrusted the command in the Island of Re, had not provided for the defence of that place so well as had been expected; Buckingham had succeeded in effecting his descent. The French were shut up in the Fort of St. Martin, scarcely finished as it was, and ill-provisioned. The cardinal “saw to it directly, sending of his own money because that of the king was not to be so quickly got at, and because he had at that time none to spare; he despatched Abbe Marcillac, who was in his confidence, to see that everything was done punctually and no opportunity lost. He did not trouble himself to make reports of all the despatches that passed, and all the orders that were within less than a fortnight given on the subject of this business during the king’s illness, in order to provide for everything that was necessary, and to prepare all things in such wise that the king and France might reap from them the fruit which was shortly afterwards gathered in.”

Meanwhile La Rochelle had closed her gates to the English, and the old Duchess of Rohan had been obliged to leave the town in order to bring Soubise in with her. “Before taking any resolution,” replied the Rochellese authorities to the entreaties of the duke, who was pressing them to lend assistance to the English, “we must consult the whole body of the religion of which La Rochelle is only one member.” An assembly was already convoked to that end at Uzes; and when it met, on the 11th of September, the Duke of Rohan communicated to the deputies from the churches the letter of the inhabitants of La Rochelle, “not such an one,” he said, “as he could have desired, but such as he must make the best of.” The King of England had granted his aid and promised not to relax until the Reformers had firm repose and solid contentment, provided that they seconded his efforts. “I bid you thereto in God’s name,” he added, “and for my part, were I alone, abandoned of all, I am determined to prosecute this sacred cause even to the last drop of my blood and to the last gasp of my life.” The assembly fully approved of their chief’s behavior, accepting “with gratitude the King of England’s powerful intervention, without, however, loosing themselves from the humble and inviolable submission which they owed to their king.” The consuls of the town of Milhau were bolder in their reservations. “We have at divers time experienced,” they wrote to the Duke of Rohan, whilst refusing to join the movement, “that violence is no certain means of obtaining observation of our edicts, for force extorts many promises, but the hatred it engenders prevents them from taking effect.” The duke was obliged to force an entrance into this small place. La Rochelle had just renounced her neutrality and taken sides with the English, “flattering ourselves,” they said in their proclamation, “that, having good men for our witnesses and God for our judge, we shall experience the same assistance from His goodness as our fathers had aforetime.”

M. de La Milliere, the agent of the Rochellese, wrote to one of his friends at the Duke of Rohan’s quarters, “Sir, I am arrived from Villeroy, where the English are not held as they are at Paris to be a mere chimera. Only I am very apprehensive of the September tides, and lest the new grapes should kill us off more English than the enemy will. I am much vexed to hear nothing from your quarter to second the exploits of the English, being unable to see without shame foreigners showing more care for our welfare than we ourselves show. I know that it will not be M. de Rohan’s fault nor yours that nothing good is done.

“I forgot to tell you that the cardinal is very glad that he is no longer a bishop, for he has put so many rings in pawn to send munitions to the islands, that he has nothing remaining wherewith to give the episcopal benediction. The most zealous amongst us pray God that the sea may swallow up his person as it has swallowed his goods. As for me, I am not of that number, for I belong to those who offer incense to the powers that be.” It was as yet a time when the religious fatherland was dearer than the political; the French Huguenots naturally appealed for aid to all Protestant nations. It was even now an advance in national ideas to call the English who had come to the aid of La Rochelle foreigners.

Toiras, meanwhile, still held out in the Fort of St. Martin, and Buckingham was beginning to “abate somewhat of the absolute confidence he had felt about making himself master of it, having been so ill-advised as to write to the king his master that he would answer for it.” The proof of this was that a burgess of La Rochelle, named Laleu, went to see the king with authority from the Duke of Angouleme, who commanded the army in his Majesty’s absence, and that he proposed that the English should retire, provided that the king would have Fort Louis dismantled. The Duke of Angouleme was inclined to accept this proposal, but the cardinal forcibly represented all the reasons against it: “It will be said, perhaps, that if the Island of Re be lost, it will be very difficult to recover it;” this he allowed, but he put forward, to counterbalance this consideration, another, that, if honor were lost, it would never be recovered, and that, if the Island of Re were lost, he considered that his Majesty was bound to stick to the blockade of Rochelle, and that he might do so with success. Upon this, his Majesty resolved to push the siege of Rochelle vigorously, and to give the command to Mylord his brother; “but Monsieur was tardy as usual, not wanting to serve under the king when the health of his Majesty might permit him to return to his army, so that the cardinal wrote to President Le Coigneux, one of the favorite counsellors of the Duke of Orleans, to say that if imaginary hydras of that sort were often taking shape in the mind of Monsieur, he had nothing more to say than that there would be neither pleasure nor profit in being mixed up with his affairs. As for himself, he would always do his duty.” Monsieur at last made up his mind to join the army, and it was resolved to give aid to the forts in the Island of Re.

The Harbor of La Rochelle—248

It was a bold enterprise that was about to be attempted to hold La Rochelle invested and not quit it, and, nevertheless, to send the flower of the force to succor a citadel considered to be half lost; to make a descent upon an island blockaded by a large naval armament; “to expose the best part of the army to the mercy of the winds and the waves of the sea, and of the English cannons and vessels, in a place where there was no landing in order and under arms.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. p. 361]; but it had to be resolved upon or the Island of Re lost. Toiras had already sent to ask the Duke of Buckingham if he would receive him to terms.

On the 8th of October, at eight A. M., the Duke of Buckingham was preparing to send a reply to the fort, and he was already rejoicing “to see his felicity and the crowning of his labors,” when, on nearing the citadel, “there were exhibited to him at the ends of pikes lots of bottles of wine, capons, turkeys, hams, ox-tongues, and other provisions, and his vessels were saluted with lots of cannonades, they having come too near in the belief that those inside had no more powder.” During the night, the fleet which was assembled at Oleron, and had been at sea for two days past, had succeeded in landing close to the fort, bringing up re-enforcements of troops, provisions, and munitions. At the same time the king and the cardinal had just arrived at the camp before La Rochelle.

The King and Richelieu at La Rochelle——250

Before long the English could not harbor a doubt but that the king’s army had recovered its real heads: a grand expedition was preparing to attack them in the Island of Re, and the cardinal had gone in person to Oleron and to Le Brouage in order to see to the embarkation of the troops. “The nobility of the court came up in crowds to take leave of his Majesty, and their looks were so gay that it must be allowed that to no nation but the French is it given to march so freely to death for the service of their king or for their own honor as to make it impossible to remark any difference between him that inflicts it and him that receives.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iii. p. 398.] Marshal Schomberg took the road to Marennes, whence he sent to the cardinal for boats to carry over all his troops. “This took him greatly by surprise, and as his judgments are always followed by the effect he intended, he thought that this great following of nobility might hinder the said sir marshal from executing his design so promptly. However, by showing admirable diligence, doubling both his vessels and his provisions, he found sufficient to embark the whole.” [Siege de La Rochelle. Archives curieuses de l’Histoire de France, t. iii. p. 76.] By this time the king’s troops, in considerable numbers, had arrived in the island without the English being able to prevent their disembarkation; the enemy therefore took the resolution of setting sail, in spite of the entreaties which the Duke of Soubise sent them on the part of the Rochellese, those latter promising great assistance in men and provisions, more than they could afford. To satisfy them, the Duke of Buckingham determined to deliver a general assault before he departed.

The assault was delivered on the 5th and 6th of November, and everywhere repulsed, exhausted as the besieged were. “Those who were sick and laid up in their huts appeared on the bastions. There were some of them so weak that, unable to fight, they loaded their comrades’ muskets; and others, having fought beyond their strength, being able to do no more, said to their comrades, ‘Friend, here are my arms for thee; prithee, make my grave;’ and, thither retiring, there they died.” The Duke of Buckingham wrote to M. de Fiesque, who was holding Fort La Pree, that he was going to embark, without waiting for any more men to make their descent upon the island; but the king, who trusted not his enemies, and least of all the English, from whom, even when friends, he had received so many proofs of faithlessness and falsehood, besides that he knew Buckingham for a man who, from not having the force of character to decide on such an occasion, did not know whether to fight or to fly, continued in his first determination to transport promptly all those who remained, in order to encounter the enemy on land, fight them, and make them for the future quake with fear if it were proposed to them to try another descent upon his dominions.

Marshal Schomberg, thwarted by bad weather, had just rallied his troops which had been cast by the winds on different parts of the coast, when it was perceived that the enemy had sheered off. M. De Toiras, issuing from his fortress to meet the marshal, would have pursued them at once to give them battle; but Schomberg refused, saying, “I ought to make them a bridge of gold rather than a barrier of iron;” and he contented himself with following the English, who retreated to a narrow causeway which led to the little Island of Oie. There, a furious charge of French cavalry broke the ranks of the enemy, disorder spread amongst them, and when night came to put an end to the combat, forty flags remained in the hands of the king’s troops, and he sent them at once to Notre-Dame, by Claude de St. Simon, together with a quantity of prisoners, of whom the King made a present to his sister, the Queen of England.

“Such,” says the Duke of Rohan, in his Hemoires, “was the success of the Duke of Buckingham’s expedition, wherein he ruined the reputation of his nation and his own, consumed a portion of the provisions of the Rochellese, and reduced to despair the party for whose sake he had come to France. The Duke of Rohan first learned this bad news by the bonfires which all the Roman Catholics lighted for it all through the countship of Foix, and, later on, by a despatch from the Duke of Soubise, who exhorted him not to lose courage, saying that he hoped to come back next spring in condition to efface the affront received.” This latter prince had not covered himself with glory in the expedition. “As recompense and consolation for all their losses,” says the cardinal, “they carried off Soubise to England. He has not been mentioned all through this siege, because, whenever there was any question of negotiation, no one would apply to him, but only to Buckingham. When there was nothing for it but to fight, he would not hear of it. On the day the English made their descent, he was at La Rochelle; nobody knows where he was at the time of the assault, but he was one of the first and most forward in the rout.”

Soubise had already been pronounced guilty of high-treason by decree of the Parliament of Toulouse; but the Duke of Rohan had been degraded from his dignities, and “a title offered to those who would assassinate him, which created an inclination in three or four wretches to undertake it, who had but a rope or the wheel for recompense, it not being in any human power to prolong or shorten any man’s life without the permission of God.” The Prince of Conde had been commissioned to fight the valiant chief of the Huguenots, “for that he was their sworn enemy,” says the cardinal. In the eyes of fervent Catholics the name of Conde had many wrongs for which to obtain pardon.

The English were ignominiously defeated; the king was now confronted by none but his revolted subjects; he resolved to blockade the place at all points, so that it could not be entered by land or sea; and, to this end, he claimed from Spain the fleet which had been promised him, and which did not arrive. “The whole difficulty of this enterprise,” said the cardinal to the king, “lies in this, that the majority will only labor therein in a perfunctory manner.”

His ordinary penetration did not deceive him: the great lords intrusted with commands saw with anxiety the increasing power of Richelieu. “You will see,” said Bassompierre, “that we shall be mad enough to take La Rochelle.” “His Majesty had just then many of his own kingdom and all his allies sworn together against him, and so much the more dangerously in that it was secretly. England at open war, and with all her maritime power but lately on our coasts; the King of Spain apparently united to his Majesty, yet, in fact, not only giving him empty words, but, under cover of the emperor’s name, making a diversion against him in the direction of Germany. Nevertheless the king held firm to his resolve; and then the siege of La Rochelle was undertaken with a will.”

The old Duchess of Rohan (Catherine de Parthenay Larcheveque) had shut herself up in La Rochelle with her daughter Anne de Rohan, as pious and as courageous as her mother, and of rare erudition into the bargain; she had hitherto refused to leave the town; but, when the blockade commenced, she asked leave to retire with two hundred women. The town had already been refused permission to get rid of useless mouths. “All the Rochellese shall go out together,” was the answer returned to Madame de Rohan. She determined to undergo with her brethren in the faith all the rigors of the siege. “Secure peace, complete victory, or honorable death,” she wrote to her son the Duke of Rohan: the old device of Jeanne d’Albret, which had never been forgotten by the brave chief of the Huguenots.

At the head of the burgesses of La Rochelle, as determined as the Duchess of Rohan to secure their liberties or perish, was the president of the board of marine, soon afterwards mayor of the town, John Gutton, a rich merchant, whom the misfortunes of the times had wrenched away from his business to become a skilful admiral, an intrepid soldier, accustomed for years past to scour the seas as a corsair. “He had at his house,” says a narrative of those days, “a great number of flags, which he used to show one after another, indicating the princes from whom he had taken them.” When he was appointed mayor, he drew his poniard and threw it upon the council-table. “I accept,” he said, “the honor you have done me, but on condition that yonder poniard shall serve to pierce the heart of whoever dares to speak of surrender, mine first of all, if I were ever wretch enough to condescend to such cowardice.” Of indomitable nature, of passionate and proud character, Guiton, in fact, rejected all proposals of peace. “My friend, tell the cardinal that I am his very humble servant,” was his answer to insinuating speeches as well as to threats; and he prepared with tranquil coolness for defence to the uttermost. Two municipal councillors, two burgesses, and a clergyman were commissioned to judge and to punish spies and traitors; attention was concentrated upon getting provisions into the town; the country was already devastated, but reliance was placed upon promises of help from England; and religious exercises were everywhere multiplied. “We will hold out to the last day,” reiterated the burgesses.

John Guiton’s Oath——254

It was the month of December; bad weather interfered with the siege-works; the king was having a line of circumvallation pushed forward to close the approaches to the city on the land side; the cardinal was having a mole of stone-work, occupying the whole breadth of the roads, constructed; the king’s little fleet, commanded by M. de Guise, had been ordered up to protect the laborers; Spain had sent twenty-eight vessels in such bad condition that those which were rolled into the sea laden with stones were of more value. “They were employed Spanish-fashion,” says Richelieu, “that is, to make an appearance so as to astound the Rochellese by the union of the two crowns.” A few days after their arrival, at the rumor of assistance coming from England, the Spanish admiral, who had secret orders to make no effort for France, demanded permission to withdraw his ships. “It was very shameful of them, but it was thought good to let them go without the king’s consent, making believe that he had given them their dismissal, and desired them to go and set about preparing, one way or another, a large armament by the spring.” The Rochellese were rejoicing over the treaty they had just concluded with the King of England, who promised “to aid them by land and sea, to the best of his kingly power, until he should have brought about a fair and secure peace.” The mole was every moment being washed away by the sea; and, “whilst the cardinal was employing all the wits which God had given him to bring to a successful issue the siege of La Rochelle to the glory of God and the welfare of the state, and was laboring to that end more than the bodily strength granted to him by God seemed to permit, one would have said that the sea and the winds, favoring the English and the islands, were up in opposition and thwarting his designs.”

The king was growing tired, and wished to go to Paris; but this was not the advice of the cardinal, and “the truths he uttered were so displeasing to the king that he fell somehow into disgrace. The dislike the king conceived for him was such that he found fault with him about everything.” The king at last took his departure, and the cardinal, who had attended him “without daring, out of respect, to take his sunshade to protect him against the heat of the sun, which was very great that day,” was on his return taken ill with fever. “I am so downhearted that I cannot express the regret I feel at quitting the cardinal, fearing lest some accident may happen to him,” the king had said to one of his servants: “tell him from me to take care of himself, to think what a state my affairs would be in if I were to lose him.” When the king returned to La Rochelle on the 10th of April, he found his army strengthened, the line of circumvallation finished, and the mole well advanced into the sea; the assault was becoming possible, and the king summoned the place to surrender. [Siege de La Rochelle. Archives eurieuses de l’Histoire de France, t. iii. p. 102.] “We recognize no other sheriffs and governors than ourselves,” answered the sergeant on guard to the improvised herald sent by the king; “nobody will listen to you; away at once!” It was at last announced that the re-enforcements so impatiently expected were coming from England. “The cardinal, who knew that there was nothing so dangerous as to have no fear of one’s enemy, had a long while before set everything in order, as if the English might arrive any day.” Their fleet was signalled at sea; it numbered thirty vessels, and had a convoy of twenty barks laden with provisions and munitions, and it was commanded by the Earl of Denbigh, Buckingham’s brother-in-law. The Rochellese, transported with joy, “had planted a host of flags on the prominent points of their town.” The English came and cast anchor at the tip of the Island of Re. The cannon of La Rochelle gave them a royal salute. A little boat with an English captain on board found means of breaking the blockade; and “Open a passage,” said the envoy to the Rochellese, “as you sent notice to us in England, and we will deliver you.” But the progress made in the works of the mole rendered the enterprise difficult; the besieged could not attempt anything; they waited and waited for Lord Denbigh to bring on an engagement; on the 19th of May, all the English ships got under sail and approached the roads. The besieged hurried on to the ramparts; there was the thunder of one broadside, and one only; and then the vessels tacked and crowded sail for England, followed by the gaze “of the king’s army, who returned to make good cheer without any fear of the enemy, and with great hopes of soon taking the town.”

Great was the despair in La Rochelle: “This shameful retreat of the English, and their aid which had only been received by faith, as they do in the Eucharist,” wrote Cardinal Richelieu, “astounded the Rochellese so mightily that they would readily have made up their minds to surrender, if Madame de Rohan, the mother, whose hopes for her children were all centred in the preservation of this town, and the minister Salbert, a very seditious fellow, had not regaled them with imaginary succor which they made them hope for.” The cardinal, when he wrote these words, knew nothing of the wicked proposals made to Guiton and to Salbert. “Couldn’t the cardinal be got rid of by the deed of one determined man?” it was asked: but the mayor refused; and, “It is not in such a way that God willeth our deliverance,” said Salbert; “it would be too offensive to His holiness.” And they suffered on.

Meanwhile, on the 24th of May, the posterns were observed to open, and the women to issue forth one after another, with their children and the old men; they came gliding towards the king’s encampment, but “he ordered them to be driven back by force; and further, knowing that they had sown beans near the counterscarps of their town, a detachment was sent out to cut them down as soon as they began to come up, and likewise a little corn that they had sown in some dry spots of their marshes.” Louis the Just fought the Rochellese in other fashion than that in which Henry the Great had fought the Parisians.

The misery in the place became frightful; the poor died of hunger, or were cut down by the soldiery when they ventured upon shore at low tide to look for cockles; the price of provisions was such that the richest alone could get a little meat to eat; a cow fetched two thousand livres, and a bushel of wheat eight hundred livres. Madame de Rohan had been the first to have her horses killed, but this resource was exhausted, and her cook at last “left the town and allowed himself to be taken, saying that he would rather be hanged than return to die of hunger.” A rising even took place amongst the inhabitants who were clamorous to surrender, but Guiton had the revolters hanged. “I am ready,” said he, “to cast lots with anybody else which shall live or be killed to feed his comrade with his flesh. As long as there is one left to keep the gates shut, it is enough.” The mutineers were seized with terror, and men died without daring to speak. “We have been waiting three months for the effect of the excellent letters we received from the King of Great Britain,” wrote Guiton on the 24th of August, to the deputies from La Rochelle who were in London, “and, meanwhile, we cannot see by what disasters it happens that we remain here in misery without seeing any sign of succor; our men can do no more, our inhabitants are dying of hunger in the streets, and all our families are in a fearful state from mourning, want, and perplexity; nevertheless, we will hold out to the last day, but in God’s name delay no longer, for we perish.” This letter never reached its destination; the watchmaker, Marc Biron; who had offered to convey it to England, was arrested whilst attempting to pass the royal lines, and was immediately hanged. La Rochelle, however, still held out. “Their rabid fury,” says the cardinal, “gave them new strength, or rather the avenging wrath of God caused them to be supplied therewith in extraordinary measure by his evil spirit, in order to prolong their woes; they were already almost at the end thereof, and misery found upon them no more substance whereon it could feed and support itself; they were skeletons, empty shadows, breathing corpses, rather than living men.” At the bottom of his heart, and in spite of the ill temper their resistance caused in him, the heroism of the Rochellese excited the cardinal’s admiration. Buckingham had just been assassinated. “The king could not have lost a more bitter or a more idiotic enemy; his unreasoning enterprises ended unluckily, but they, nevertheless, did not fail to put us in great peril and cause us much mischief,” says Richelieu “the idiotic madness of an enemy being more to be feared than his wisdom, inasmuch as the idiot does not act on any principle common to other men, he attempts everything and anything, violates his own interests, and is restrained by impossibility alone.”

It was this impossibility of any aid that the cardinal attempted to impress upon the Rochellese by means of letters which he managed to get into the town, representing to them that Buckingham, their protector, was dead, and that they were allowing themselves to be unjustly tyrannized over by a small number amongst them, who, being rich, had wheat to eat, whereas, if they were good citizens, they would take their share of the general misery. These manoeuvres did not remain without effect: the besieged resolved to treat, and a deputation was just about to leave the town, when a burgess who had broken through the lines arrived in hot haste, on his return from England; he had seen, he said, the armament all ready to set out to save them or perish; it must arrive within a week; the public body of La Rochelle had promised not to treat without the King of England’s participation; he was not abandoning his allies; and so the deputies returned home, and there was more waiting still.

On the 29th of September, the English flag appeared before St. Martin de Re; it was commanded by the Earl of Lindsay, and was composed of a hundred and forty vessels, which carried six thousand soldiers, besides the crews; the French who were of the religion were in the van, commanded by the Duke of Soubise and the Count of Laval, brother of the Duke of La Tremoille, who had lately renounced his faith in front of La Rochelle, being convinced of his errors by a single lesson from the cardinal. “This armament was England’s utmost effort, for the Parliament which was then being holden had granted six millions of livres to fit it out to avenge the affronts and ignominy which the English nation had encountered on the Island of Re, and afterwards by the shameful retreat of their armament in the month of May.” But it was too late coming; the mole was finished, and the opening in it defended by two forts; and a floating palisade blocked the passage as well. The English sent some petards against this construction, but they produced no effect; and when, next day, they attacked the royal fleet, the French crews lost but twenty-eight men; “the fire-ships were turned aside by men who feared fire as little as water.” Lord Lindsay retired with his squadron to the shelter of the Island of Aix, sending to the king “Lord Montagu to propose some terms of accommodation.” He demanded pardon for the Rochellese, freedom of conscience, and quarter for the English garrison in La Rochelle; the answer was, “that the Rochellese were subjects of the king, who knew quite well what he had to do with them, and that the King of England had no right to interfere. As for the English, they should meet with the same treatment as was received by the French whom they held prisoners.” Montagu set out for England to obtain further orders from the king his master.

All hope of effectual aid was gone, and the Rochellese felt it; the French who were on board the English fleet had taken, like them, a resolution to treat; and they had already sent to the cardinal when, on the 29th of October, the deputies from La Rochelle arrived at the camp. “Your fellows who were in the English army have already obtained grace,” said the cardinal to them; and when they were disposed not to believe it, the cardinal sent for the pastors Vincent and Gobert, late delegates to King Charles I. “they embraced with tears in their eyes, not daring to speak of business, as they had been forbidden to do so on pain of death.”

The demands of the Rochellese were more haughty than befitted their extreme case. “Though they were but shadows of living men, and their life rested solely on the king’s mercy, they actually dared, nevertheless, to propose to the cardinal a general treaty on behalf of all those of their party, including Madame de Rohan and Monsieur de Soubise, the maintenance of their privileges, of their governor, and of their mayor, together with the right of those bearing arms to march out with beat of drum and lighted match” [with the honors of war].

The cardinal was amused at their impudence, he writes in his Memoires, and told them that they had no right to expect anything more than pardon, which, moreover, they did not deserve. “He was nevertheless anxious to conclude, wishing that Montagu should find peace made, and that the English fleet should see it made without their consent, which would render the rest of the king’s business easier, whether as regarded England or Spain, or the interior of the kingdom.” On the 28th the treaty, or rather the grace, was accordingly signed, “the king granting life and property to those of the inhabitants of the town who were then in it, and the exercise of the religion within La Rochelle.” These articles bore the signature of a brigadier-general, M. de Marillac, the king not having thought proper to put his name at the bottom of a convention made with his subjects.

Next day, twelve deputies issued from the town, making a request for horses to Marshal de Bassompierre, whose quarters were close by, for they had not strength to walk. They dismounted on approaching the king’s quarters, and the cardinal presented them to his Majesty. “Sir,” said they, “we do acknowledge our crimes and rebellions, and demand mercy; promising to remain faithful for the future, if your Majesty deigns to remember the services we were able to render to the king your father.”

The king gazed upon these suppliants kneeling at his feet, deputies from the proud city which had kept him more than a year at her gates; fleshless, almost fainting, they still bore on their features the traces of the haughty past. They had kept the lilies of France on their walls, refusing to the last to give themselves to England. “Better surrender to a king who could take Rochelle, than to one who couldn’t succor her,” said the mayor, John Guiton, who was asked if he would not become an English subject. “I know that you have always been malignants,” said the king at last, “and that you have done all you could to shake off the yoke of obedience to me; I forgive you, nevertheless, your rebellions, and will be a good prince to you, if your actions conform to your protestations.” Thereupon he dismissed them, not without giving them a dinner, and sent victuals into the town; without which, all that remained would have been dead of hunger within two days.

The fighting men marched out, “the officers and gentlemen wearing their swords and the soldiery with bare (white) staff in hand,” according to the conventions; as they passed they were regarded with amazement, there not being more than sixty-four Frenchmen and ninety English: all the rest had been killed in sorties or had died of want. The cardinal at the same time entered this city, which he had subdued by sheer perseverance; Guiton came to meet him with six archers; he had not appeared during the negotiations, saying that his duty detained him in the town. “Away with you!” said the cardinal, “and at once dismiss your archers, taking care not to style yourself mayor any more on pain of death.” Guiton made no reply, and went his way quietly to his house, a magnificent dwelling till lately, but now lying desolate amidst the general ruin. He was not destined to reside there long; the heroic defender of La Rochelle was obliged to leave the town and retire to Tournay-Boutonne. He returned to La Rochelle to die, in 1656.

The king made his entry into the subjugated town on the 1st of November, 1628: it was full of corpses in the chambers, the houses, the public thoroughfares; for those who still survived were so weak that they had not been able to bury the dead. Madame de Rohan and her daughter, who had not been included in the treaty, were not admitted to the honor of seeing his Majesty. “For having been the brand that had consumed this people,” they were sent to prison at Niort; “there kept captive, without exercise of their religion, and so strictly that they had but one domestic to wait upon them, all which, however, did not take from them their courage or wonted zeal for the good of their party. The mother sent word to the Duke of Rohan, her son, that he was to put no faith in her letters, since she might be made to write them by force, and that no consideration of her pitiable condition should make her flinch to the prejudice of her party, whatever harm she might be made to suffer.” [Memoires du Duc de Rohan, t. i. p. 395.] Worn out by so much suffering, the old Duchess of Rohan died in 1631 at her castle Du Pare: she had been released from captivity by the pacification of the South.

With La Rochelle fell the last bulwark of religious liberties. Single-handed, Duke Henry of Rohan now resisted at the head of a handful of resolute men. But he was about to be crushed in his turn. The capture of La Rochelle had raised the cardinal’s power to its height; it had, simultaneously, been the death-blow to the Huguenot party and to the factions of the grandees. “One of them was bold enough to say,” on seeing that La Rochelle was lost, “Now we may well say that we are all lost.” [Memoires de Richelieu]

Upper Languedoc had hitherto refused to take part in the rising, and the Prince of Conde was advancing on Toulouse when the Duke of Rohan attempted a bold enterprise against Montpellier. He believed that he was sure of his communications with the interior of the town; but when the detachment of the advance-guard got a footing on the draw-bridge the ropes that held it were cut, and “the soldiers fell into a ditch, where they were shot down with arquebuses, at the same time that musketry played upon them from without.” The lieutenant fell back in all haste upon the division of the Duke of Rohan, who retreated “to the best Villages between Montpellier and Lunel, without ever a man from Montpellier going out to follow and see whither he went.” The war was wasting Languedoc, Viverais, and Rouergue; the Dukes of Montmorency and Ventadour, under the orders of the Prince of Conde, were pursuing the troops of Rohan in every direction; the burgesses of Montauban had declared for the Reformers, and were ravaging the lands of their Catholic neighbors in return for the frightful ruin everywhere caused by the royal troops. The wretched peasantry laid the blame on the Duke of Rohan, “for one of the greatest misfortunes connected with the position of party-chiefs is this necessity they lie under of accounting for all their actions to the people, that is, to a monster composed of numberless heads, amongst which there is scarcely one open to reason.” [Memoires de Montmorency.] “Whoso has to do with a people that considers nothing difficult to undertake, and, as for the execution, makes no sort of provision, is apt to be much hampered,” writes the Duke of Rohan in his Memoires (t. i. p. 376). It was this extreme embarrassment that landed him in crime. One of his emissaries, returning from Piedmont, where he had been admitted to an interview with the ambassador of Spain, made overtures to him on behalf of that power “which had an interest, he said, in a prolongation of the hostilities in France, so as to be able to peaceably achieve its designs in Italy. The great want of money in which the said duke then found himself, the country being unable to furnish more, and the towns being unwilling to do anything further, there being nothing to hope from England, and nothing but words without deeds having been obtained from the Duke of Savoy, absolutely constrained him to find some means of raising it in order to subsist.” And so, in the following year, the Duke of Rohan treated with the King of Spain, who promised to allow him annually three hundred thousand ducats for the keep of his troops and forty thousand for himself. In return the duke, who looked forward to “the time when he and his might make themselves sufficiently strong to canton themselves and form a separate state,” promised, in that state, freedom and enjoyment of their property to all Catholics. A piece of strange and culpable blindness for which Rohan was to pay right dearly.

It was in the midst of this cruel partisan war that the duke heard of the fall of La Rochelle; he could not find fault “with folks so attenuated by famine that the majority of them could not support themselves without a stick, for having sought safety in capitulation;” but to the continual anxiety felt by him for the fate of his mother and sister was added disquietude as to the effect that this news might produce on his troops. “The people, weary of and ruined by the war, and naturally disposed to be very easily cast down by adversity; the tradesmen annoyed at having no more chance of turning a penny; the burgesses seeing their possessions in ruins and uncultivated; all were inclined for peace at any price whatever.” The Prince of Conde, whilst cruelly maltreating the countries in revolt, had elsewhere had the prudence to observe some gentle measures towards the peaceable Reformers in the hope of thus producing submission. He made this quite clear himself when writing to the Duke of Rohan: “Sir, the king’s express commands to maintain them of the religion styled Reformed in entire liberty of conscience have caused me to hitherto preserve those who remain in due obedience to his Majesty in all Catholic places, countries as well as towns, in entire liberty. Justice has run its free course, the worship continues everywhere, save in two or three spots where it served not for the exercise of religion, but to pave the way for rebellion. The officers who came out of rebel cities have kept their commissions; in a word, the treatment of so-styled Reformers, when obedient, has been the same as that of Catholics faithful to the king . . .” To which Henry de Rohan replied, “I confess to have once taken up arms unadvisedly, in so far as it was not on behalf of the affairs of our religion, but of those of yourself personally, who promised to obtain us reparation for the infractions of our treaties, and you did nothing of the kind, having had thoughts of peace before receiving news from the general assembly. Since that time everybody knows that I have had arms in my hands only from sheer necessity, in order to defend our properties, our lives, and the freedom of our consciences. I seek my repose in heaven, and God will give me grace to always find that of my conscience on earth. They say that in this war you have, not made a bad thing of it. This gives me some assurance that you will leave our poor Uvennes at peace, seeing that there are more hard knocks than pistoles to be got there.” The Prince of Conde avenged himself for this stinging reply by taking possession, in Brittany, of all the Duke of Rohan’s property, which had been confiscated, and of which the king had made him a present. There were more pistoles to be picked up on the duke’s estates than in the Cevennes.

The king was in Italy, and the Reformers hoped that his affairs would detain him there a long while; but “God, who had disposed it otherwise, breathed upon all those projects,” and the arms of Louis XIII. were everywhere victorious; peace was concluded with Piedmont and England, without the latter treaty making any mention of the Huguenots. The king then turned his eyes towards Languedoc, and, summoning to him the Dukes of Montmorency and Schomberg, he laid siege to Privas. The cardinal soon joined him there, and it was on the day of his arrival that the treaty with England was proclaimed by heralds beneath the walls. The besieged thus learned that their powerful ally had abandoned them without reserve; at the first assault the inhabitants fled into the country, the garrison retired within the forts, and the king’s-soldiers, penetrating into the deserted streets, were able, without resistance, to deliver up the town to pillage and flames. When the affrighted inhabitants came back by little and little within their walls, they found the houses confiscated to the benefit of the king, who invited a new population to inhabit Privas.

Town after town, “fortified Huguenot-wise,” surrendered, opening to the royal armies the passage to the Uvennes. The Duke of Rohan, who had at first taken position at Nimes, repaired to Anduze for the defence of the mountains, the real fortress of the Reformation in Languedoc. Alais itself had just opened its gates. Rohan saw that he could no longer impose the duty of resistance upon a people weary of suffering, “easily believing ill of good folks, and readily agreeing with those whiners who blame everything and do nothing.” He sent “to the king, begging to be received to mercy, thinking it better to resolve on peace, whilst he could still make some show of being able to help it, than to be forced, after a longer resistance, to surrender to the king with a rope round his neck.” The cardinal advised the king to show the duke grace, “well knowing that, together with him individually, the other cities, whether they wished it or not, would be obliged to do the like, there being but little resolution and constancy in people deprived of leaders, especially when they are threatened with immediate harm, and see no door of escape open.”

The general assembly of the Reformers, which was then in meeting at Nimes, removed to Anduze to deliberate with the Duke of Rohan; a wish was expressed to have the opinion of the province of the Cevennes, and all the deputies repaired to the king’s presence. No more surety-towns; fortifications everywhere razed, at the expense and by the hands of the Reformers; the Catholic worship re-established in all the churches of the Reformed towns; and, at this price, an amnesty granted for all acts of rebellion, and religious liberties confirmed anew,—such were the conditions of the peace signed at Alais on the 28th of June, 1629, and made public the following month at Nimes, under the name of Edict of Grace. Montauban alone refused to submit to them.

The Duke of Rohan left France and retired to Venice, where his wife and daughter were awaiting him. He had been appointed by the Venetian senate generalissimo of the forces of the republic, when the cardinal, who had no doubt preserved some regard for his military talents, sent him an offer of the command of the king’s troops in the Valteline. There he for several years maintained the honor of France, being at one time abandoned and at another supported by the cardinal, who ultimately left him to bear the odium of the last reverse. Meeting with no response from the court, cut off from every resource, he brought back into the district of Gex the French troops driven out by the Grisons themselves, and then retired to Geneva. Being threatened with the king’s wrath, he set out for the camp of his friend Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar; and it was whilst fighting at his side against the imperialists that he received the wound of which he died in Switzerland, on the 16th of April, 1638. His body was removed to Geneva amidst public mourning. A man of distinguished mind and noble character, often wild in his views and hopes, and so deeply absorbed in the interests of his party and of his church, that he had sometimes the misfortune to forget those of his country.

Meanwhile the king had set out for Paris, and the cardinal was marching on Montauban. Being obliged to halt at Pezenas because he had a fever, he there received a deputation from Montauban, asking to have its fortifications preserved. On the minister’s formal refusal, supported by a movement in advance on the part of Marshal Bassompierre with the army, the town submitted unreservedly. “Knowing that the cardinal had made up his mind to enter in force, they found this so bitter a pill that they could scarcely swallow it;” they, nevertheless, offered the dais to the minister, as they had been accustomed to do to the governor, but he refused it, and would not suffer the consuls to walk on foot beside his horse. Bassompierre set guards at the doors of the meeting-house, that things might be done without interruption or scandal; it was ascertained that the Parliament of Toulouse, “habitually intractable in all that concerned religion,” had enregistered the edict without difficulty; the gentlemen of the neighborhood came up in crowds, the Reformers to make their submission and the Catholics to congratulate the cardinal; on the day of his departure the pickaxe was laid to the fortifications of Montauban; those of Castres were already beginning to fall; and the Huguenot party in France was dead. Deprived of the political guarantees which had been granted them by Henry IV., the Reformers had nothing for it but to retire into private life. This was the commencement of their material prosperity; they henceforth transferred to commerce and, industry all the intelligence, courage, and spirit of enterprise that they had but lately displayed in the service of their cause, on the battle-field or in the cabinets of kings.

“From that time,” says Cardinal Richelieu, “difference in religion never prevented me from rendering the Huguenots all sorts of good offices, and I made no distinction between Frenchmen but in respect of fidelity.” A grand assertion, true at bottom, in spite of the frequent grievances that the Reformers had often to make the best of; the cardinal was more tolerant than his age and his servants; what he had wanted to destroy was the political party; he did not want to drive the Reformers to extremity, nor force them to fly the country; happy had it been if Louis XIV. could have listened to and borne in mind the instructions given by Richelieu to Count de Sault, commissioned to see after the application in Dauphiny of the edicts of pacification: “I hold that, as there is no need to extend in favor of them of the religion styled Reformed that which is provided by the edicts, so there is no ground for cutting down the favors granted them thereby; even now, when, by the grace of God, peace is so firmly established in the kingdom, too much precaution cannot be used for the prevention of all these discontents amongst the people. I do assure you that the king’s veritable intention is to have all his subjects living peaceably in the observation of his edicts, and that those who have authority in the provinces will do him service by conforming thereto.” The era of liberty passed away with Henry IV.; that of tolerance, for the Reformers, began with Richelieu, pending the advent with Louis XIV. of the day of persecution.







France was reduced to submission; six years of power had sufficed for Richelieu to obtain the mastery; from that moment he directed his ceaseless energy towards Europe. “He feared the repose of peace,” said the ambassador Nani in his letters to Venice; “and thinking himself more safe amidst the bustle of arms, he was the originator of so many wars, and of such long-continued and heavy calamities, he caused so much blood and so many tears to flow within and without the kingdom, that there is nothing to be astonished at, if many people have represented him as faithless, atrocious in his hatred, and inflexible in his vengeance. But no one, nevertheless, can deny him the gifts that this world is accustomed to attribute to its greatest men; and his most determined enemies are forced to confess that he had so many and such great ones, that he would have carried with him power and prosperity wherever he might have had the direction of affairs. We may say that, having brought back unity to divided France, having succored Italy, upset the empire, confounded England, and enfeebled Spain, he was the instrument chosen by divine Providence to direct the great events of Europe.”

The Venetian’s independent and penetrating mind did not mislead him; everywhere in Europe were marks of Richelieu’s handiwork. “There must be no end to negotiations near and far,” was his saying: he had found negotiations succeed in France; he extended his views; numerous treaties had already marked the early years of the cardinal’s power; and, after 1630, his activity abroad was redoubled. Between 1623 and 1642 seventy-four treaties were concluded by Richelieu: four with England; twelve with the United Provinces; fifteen with the princes of Germany; six with Sweden; twelve with Savoy; six with the republic of Venice; three with the pope; three with the emperor; two with Spain; four with Lorraine; one with the Grey Leagues of Switzerland; one with Portugal; two with the revolters of Catalonia and Roussillon; one with Russia; two with the Emperor of Morocco: such was the immense network of diplomatic negotiations whereof the cardinal held the threads during nineteen years.

An enumeration of the alliances would serve, without further comment, to prove this: that the foreign policy of Richelieu was a continuation of that of Henry IV.; it was to Protestant alliances that he looked for their support in order to maintain the struggle against the house of Austria, whether the German or the Spanish branch. In order to give his views full swing, he waited till he had conquered the Huguenots at home: nearly all his treaties with Protestant powers are posterior to 1630. So soon as he was secure that no political discussions in France itself would come to thwart his foreign designs, he marched with a firm step towards that enfeeblement of Spain and that upsetting of the empire of which Nani speaks. Henry IV. and Queen Elizabeth, pursuing the same end, had sought and found the same allies: Richelieu had the good fortune, beyond theirs, to meet, for the execution of his designs, with Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden.

Richelieu had not yet entered the king’s council (1624), when the breaking off of the long negotiations between England and Spain, on the subject of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta, was officially declared to Parliament. At the very moment when Prince Charles, with the Duke of Buckingham, was going post-haste to Madrid, to see the Infanta Mary Anne of Spain, they were already thinking, at Paris, of marrying him to Henrietta of France, the king’s young sister, scarcely fourteen years of age. King James I. was at that time obstinately bent upon his plan of alliance with Spain; when it failed, his son and big favorite forced his hand to bring him round to France. His envoys at Paris, the Earl of Carlisle and Lord Holland, found themselves confronted by Cardinal Richelieu, commissioned, together with some of his colleagues, to negotiate the affair. M. Guizot, in his Projet de Mariage royal (1 vol. 18mo: 1863; Paris, Hachette et Cie), has said that the marriage of Henry IV.‘s daughter with the Prince of Wales was, in Richelieu’s eyes, one of the essential acts of a policy necessary to the greatness of the kingship and of France. He obtained the best conditions possible for the various interests involved, but without any stickling and without favor for such and such a one of these interests, skilfully adapting words and appearance, but determined upon attaining his end.

The tarryings and miscarriages of Spanish policy had warned Richelieu to make haste. “In less than nine moons,” says James I.‘s private secretary, James Howell, “this great matter was proposed, prosecuted, and accomplished; whereas the sun might, for as many years, have run his course from one extremity of the zodiac to the other, before the court of Spain would have arrived at any resolution and conclusion. That gives a good idea of the difference between the two nations—the leaden step of the one and the quicksilver movements of the other. It also shows that the Frenchman is more noble in his proceedings, less full of scruple, reserve, and distrust, and that he acts more chivalrously.”

In France, meanwhile, as well as in Spain, the question of religion was the rock of offence. Richelieu confined himself to demanding, in a general way, that, in this matter, the King of England should grant, in order to obtain the sister of the King of France, all that he had promised in order to obtain the King of Spain’s. “So much was required,” he said, “by the equality of the two crowns.”

The English negotiators were much embarrassed; the Protestant feelings of Parliament had shown themselves very strongly on the subject of the Spanish marriage. “As to public freedom for the Catholic religion,” says the cardinal, “they would not so much as hear of it, declaring that it was a design, under cover of alliance, to destroy their constitution even to ask such a thing of them.” “You want to conclude the marriage,” said Lord Holland to the queen-mother, “and yet you enter on the same paths that the Spaniards took to break it off; which causes all sorts of doubts and mistrusts, the effect whereof the premier minister of Spain, Count Olivarez, is very careful to aggravate by saying that, if the pope granted a dispensation for the marriage with France, the king his master would march to Rome with an army, and give it up to sack.”

“We will soon stop that,” answered Mary de’ Medici quickly; “we will cut out work for him elsewhere.” At last it was agreed that King James and his son should sign a private engagement, not inserted in the contract of marriage, “securing to the English Catholics more liberty and freedom in all that concerns their religion,” than they would have obtained by virtue of any articles whatsoever accorded by the marriage treaty with Spain, provided that they made sparing use of them, rendering to the King of England the “obedience owed by good and true subjects; the which king, of his benevolence, would not bind them by any oath contrary to their religion.” The promises were vague and the securities anything but substantial; still, the vanity as well as the fears of King James were appeased, and Richelieu had secured, simultaneously with his own ascendency, the policy of France. Nothing remained but to send to Rome for the purpose of obtaining the dispensation. The ordinary ambassador, Count de Bethune, did not suffice for so delicate a negotiation; Richelieu sent Father Berulle. Father Berulle, founder of the brotherhood of the Oratory, patron of the Carmelites, and the intimate friend of Francis de Sales, though devoid of personal ambition, had, been clever enough to keep himself on good terms with Cardinal Richelieu, whose political views he did not share, and with the court of Rome, whose most faithful allies, the Jesuits, he had often thwarted. He was devoted to Queen Mary de’ Medici, and willingly promoted her desires in the matter of her daughter’s marriage. He found the court of Rome in confusion, and much exercised by Spanish intrigue. “This court,” he wrote to the cardinal, “is, in conduct and in principles, very different from what one would suppose before having tried it for one’s self; for my part, I confess to having learned more of it in a few hours, since I have been on the spot, than I knew by all the talk that I have heard. The dial constantly observed in this country is the balance existing between France, Italy, and Spain.” “The king my master,” said Count de Bethune, quite openly, “has obtained from England all he could; it is no use to wait for more ample conditions, or to measure them by the Spanish ell; I have orders against sending off any courier save to give notice of concession of the dispensation: otherwise there would be nothing but asking one thing after another.” “If we determine to act like Spain, we, like her, shall lose everything,” said Father Berulle. Some weeks later, on the 6th of January, 1625, Berulle wrote to the cardinal, “For a month I have been on the point of starting, but we have been obliged to take so much trouble and have so many meetings on the subject of transcripts and missives as well as the kernel of the business . . . I will merely tell you that the dispensation is pure and simple.”

King James I. had died on the 6th of April, 1625; and so it was King Charles I., and not the Prince of Wales, whom the Duke of Chevreuse represented at Paris on the 11th of May, 1625, at the espousals of Princess Henrietta Maria. She set out on the 2d of June for England, escorted by the Duke of Buckingham, who had been sent by the king to fetch her, and who had gladly prolonged his stay in France, smitten as he was by the young Queen Anne of Austria. Charles I. went to Dover to meet his wife, showing himself very amiable and attentive to her. Though she little knew how fatal they would be to her, the king of England’s palaces looked bare and deserted to the new queen, accustomed as she was to French elegance; she, however, appeared contented. “How can your Majesty reconcile yourself to a Huguenot for a husband?” asked one of her suite, indiscreetly. “Why not?” she replied, with spirit. “Was not my father one?”

By this speech Henrietta Maria expressed, undoubtedly without realizing all its grandeur, the idea which had suggested her marriage and been prominent in France during the whole negotiations. It was the policy of Henry IV. that Henry IV.‘s daughter was bringing to a triumphant issue. The marriage between Henrietta Maria and Charles I., negotiated and concluded by Cardinal Richelieu, was the open declaration of the fact that the style of Protestant or Catholic was not the supreme law of policy in Christian Europe, and that the interests of nations should not remain subservient to the religious faith of the reigning or governing personages.

Unhappily the policy of Henry IV., carried on by Cardinal Richelieu, found no Queen Elizabeth any longer on the throne of England to comprehend it and maintain it. Charles I., tossed about between the haughty caprices of his favorite Buckingham and the religious or political passions of his people, did not long remain attached to the great idea which had predominated in the alliance of the two crowns. Proud and timid, imperious and awkward, all at the same time, he did not succeed, in the first instance, in gaining the affections of his young wife, and early infractions of the treaty of marriage; the dismissal of all the queen’s French servants, hostilities between the merchant navies of the two nations, had for some time been paving the way for open war, when the Duke of Buckingham, in the hope of winning back to him the House of Commons (June, 1626), madly attempted the expedition against the Island of Re. What was the success of it, as well as of the two attempts that followed it, has already been shown.

Three years later, on the 24th of April, 1629, the King of England concluded peace with France without making any stipulation in favor of the Reformers whom hope of aid from him had drawn into rebellion. “I declare,” says the Duke of Rohan, “that I would have suffered any sort of extremity rather than be false to the many sacred oaths we had given him not to listen to any treaty without him, who had many times assured us that he would never make peace without including us in it.” The English accepted the peace “as the king had desired, not wanting the King of Great Britain to meddle with his rebellious Huguenot subjects any more than he would want to meddle with his Catholic subjects if they were to rebel against him.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 421.] The subjects of Charles I. were soon to rebel against him: and France kept her word and did not interfere.

The Hollanders, with more prudence and ability than distinguished Buckingham and Charles I., had done better service to the Protestant cause without ever becoming entangled in the quarrels that divided France; natural enemies as they were of Spain and the house of Austria, they readily seconded Richelieu in the struggle he maintained against them; besides, the United Provinces were as yet poor, and the cardinal always managed to find money for his allies; nearly all the treaties he concluded with Holland were treaties of alliance and subsidy; those of 1641 and 1642 secured to them twelve hundred thousand livres a year out of the coffers of France. Once only the Hollanders were faithless to their engagements: it was during the siege of Rochelle, when the national feeling would not admit of war being made on the French Huguenots. All the forces of Protestantism readily united against Spain; Richelieu had but to direct them. She, in fact, was the great enemy, and her humiliation was always the ultimate aim of the cardinal’s foreign policy; the struggle, power to power, between France and Spain, explains, during that period, nearly all the political and military complications in Europe. There was no lack of pretexts for bringing it on. The first was the question of the Valteline, a lovely and fertile valley, which, extending from the Lake of Como to the Tyrol, thus serves as a natural communication between Italy and Germany. Possessed but lately, as it was, by the Grey Leagues of the Protestant Swiss, the Valteline, a Catholic district, had revolted at the instigation of Spain in 1620; the emperor, Savoy, and Spain had wanted to divide the spoil between them; when France, the old ally of the Grisons, had interfered, and, in 1623, the forts of the Valteline had been intrusted on deposit to the pope, Urban VIII. He still retained them in 1624, when the Grison lords, seconded by a French re-enforcement under the orders of the Marquis of Coeuvres, attacked the feeble garrison of the Valteline; in a few days they were masters of all the places in the canton; the pope sent his nephew, Cardinal Barberini, to Paris to complain of French aggression, and with a proposal to take the sovereignty of the Valteline from the Grisons; that was, to give it to Spain. “Besides,” said Cardinal Richelieu, “the precedent and consequences of it would be perilous for kings in whose dominions it hath pleased God to permit diversity of religion.” The legate could obtain nothing. The Assembly of Notables, convoked by Richelieu in 1625, approved of the king’s conduct, and war was resolved upon. The siege of La Rochelle retarded it for two years; Richelieu wanted to have his hands free; he concluded a specious peace with Spain, and the Valteline remained for the time being in the hands of the Grisons, who were one day themselves to drive the French out of it. Whilst the cardinal was holding La Rochelle besieged, the Duke of Mantua had died in Italy, and his natural heir, Charles di Gonzaga, who was settled in France with the title of Duke of Nevers, had hastened to put himself in possession of his dominions. Meanwhile the Duke of Savoy claimed the marquisate of Montferrat; the Spaniards supported him; they entered the-dominions of the Duke of Mantua, and laid siege to Casale. When La Rochelle succumbed, Casale was still holding out; but the Duke of Savoy had already made himself master of the greater part of Montferrat; the Duke of Mantua claimed the assistance of the King of France, whose subject he was; here was a fresh battle-field against Spain; and scarcely had he been victorious over the Rochellese, when the king was on the march for Italy. The Duke of Savoy refused a passage to the royal army, which found the defile of Suza Pass fortified with three barricades.

The Defile of Suza Pass——278

Marshal Bassompierre went to the king, who was a hundred paces behind the storming party, ahead of his regiment of guards. “‘Sir,’ said he, ‘the company is ready, the violins have come in, ‘and the masks are at the door; when your Majesty pleases, we will commence the ballet.’ ‘The king came up to me, and said to me angrily, “Do you know, pray, that we have but five hundred pounds of lead in the park of artillery?” ‘I said to him, ‘It is a pretty time to think of that. Must the ballet not dance, for lack of one mask that is not ready? Leave it to us, sir, and all will go well.’ “Do you answer for it?” said he to me. ‘Sir,’ replied. the cardinal, ‘by the marshal’s looks I prophesy that all will be well; rest assured of it.’” [Memoires de Bassompiere.] The French dashed forward, the marshals with the storming party, and the barricades were soon carried. The Duke of Savoy and his son had hardly time to fly. “Gentlemen,” cried the Duke to some Frenchmen, who happened to be in his service, “gentlemen, allow me to pass; your countrymen are in a temper.”

With the same dash, on debouching from the mountains, the king’s troops entered Suza. The Prince of Piedmont soon arrived to ask for peace; he gave up all pretensions to Montferrat, and promised to negotiate with the Spanish general to get the siege of Casale raised; and the effect was that, on the 18th of March, Casale, delivered “by the mere wind of the renown gained by the king’s arms, saw, with tears of joy, the Spaniards retiring desolate, showing no longer that pride which they had been wont to wear on their faces,—looking constantly behind them, not so much from regret for what they were leaving as for fear lest the king’s vengeful sword should follow after them, and come to strike their death-blow.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 370.]

The Spaniards remained, however, in Milaness, ready to burst again upon the Duke of Mantua. The king was in a hurry to return to France in order to finish the subjugation of the Reformers in the south, commanded by the Duke of Rohan. The cardinal placed little or no reliance upon the Duke of Savoy, whose “mind could get no rest, and going more swiftly than the rapid movements of the heavens, made every day more than twice the circuit of the world, thinking how to set by the ears all kings, princes, and potentates, one with another, so that he alone might reap advantage from their divisions.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. iv. p. 375.] A league, however, was formed between France, the republic of Venice, the Duke of Mantua, and the Duke of Savoy, for the defence of Italy in case of fresh aggression on the part of the Spaniards; and the king, who had just concluded peace with England, took the road back to France. Scarcely had the cardinal joined him before Privas when an imperialist army advanced into the Grisons, and, supported by the celebrated Spanish general Spinola, laid siege to Mantua. Richelieu did not hesitate: he entered Piedmont in the month of March, 1630, to march before long on Pignerol, an important place commanding the passage of the Alps; it, as well as the citadel, was carried in a few days; the governor having asked for time to “do his Easter” (take the sacrament), Marshal Crequi, who was afraid of seeing aid arrive from the Duke of Savoy, had all the clocks in the town put on, to such purpose that the governor had departed and the place was in the hands of the French when the re-enforcements came up. The Duke of Savoy was furious, and had the soldiers who surrendered Pignerol cut in pieces.

The king had put himself in motion to join his army. “The French noblesse,” said Spinola, “are very fortunate in seeing themselves honored by the presence of the king their master amongst their armies; I have nothing to regret in my life but never to have seen the like on the part of mine.” This great general had resumed the siege of Casale when Louis XIII. entered Savoy; the inhabitants of Chambery opened their gates to him; Annecy and Montmelian succumbed after a few days’ siege; Maurienne in its entirety made its submission, and the king fixed his quarters there, whilst the cardinal pushed forward to Casale with the main body of the army. Rejoicings were still going on for a success gained before Veillane over the troops of the Duke of Savoy, when news arrived of the capture of Mantua by the Imperialists. This was the finishing blow to the ambitious and restless spirit of the Duke of Savoy. He saw Mantua in the hands of the Spaniards, “who never give back aught of what falls into their power, whatever justice and the interests of alliance may make binding on them;” it was all hope lost of an exchange which might have given him back Savoy; he took to his bed and died on the 26th of July, 1630, telling his son that peace must be made on any terms whatever. “By just punishment of God, he who, during forty or fifty years of his reign, had constantly tried to set his neighbors a-blaze, died amidst the flames of his own dominions, which he had lost by his own obstinacy, against the advice of his friends and his allies.”

The King of France, in ill health, had just set out for Lyons; and thither the cardinal was soon summoned, for Louis XIII. appeared to be dying. When he reached convalescence, the truce suspending hostilities since the death of the Duke of Savoy was about to expire; Marshal Schomberg was preparing to march on the enemy, when there was brought to him a treaty, signed at Ratisbonne, between the emperor and the ambassador of France, assisted by Francis du Tremblay, now known as Father Joseph, perhaps the only friend and certainly the most intimate confidant of the cardinal, who always employed him on delicate or secret business.

Richelieu and Father Joseph——280

But Marshal Schomberg was fighting against Spain; he did not allow himself to be stopped by a treaty concluded with the emperor, and speedily found himself in front of Casale. The two armies were already face to face, when there was seen coming out of the intrenchments an officer in the pope’s service, who waved a white handkerchief; he came up to Marshal Schomberg, and was recognized as Captain Giulio Mazarini, often employed on the nuncio’s affairs; he brought word that the Spaniards would consent to leave the city, if, at the same time, the French would evacuate the citadel. Spinola was no longer there to make a good stand before the place; he had died a month previously, complaining loudly that his honor had been filched from him; and, determined not to yield up his last breath in a town which would have to be abandoned, he had caused himself to be removed out of Casale, to go and die in a neighboring castle.

Casale evacuated, the cardinal broke out violently against the negotiators of Ratisbonne, saying that they had exceeded their powers, and declaring that the king regarded the treaty as null and void; there was accordingly a recommencement of negotiations with the emperor as well as the Spaniards.

It was only in the month of September, 1631, that the states of Savoy and Mantua were finally evacuated by the hostile troops. Pignerol had been given up to the new Duke of Savoy, but a secret agreement had been entered into between that prince and France: French soldiers remained concealed in Pignerol; and they retook possession of the place in the name of the king, who had purchased the town and its territory, to secure himself a passage into Italy. The Spaniards, when they bad news of it, made so much the more uproar as they had the less foreseen it, and as it cut the thread of all the enterprises they were meditating against Christendom. The affairs of the emperor in Germany were in too bad a state for him to rekindle war, and France kept Pignerol. The house of Austria, in fact, was threatened mortally. For two years Cardinal Richelieu had been laboring to carry war into its very heart. Ferdinand II. had displeased many electors of the empire, who began to be disquieted at the advances made by his power. “It is, no doubt, a great affliction for the Christian commonwealth,” said the cardinal to the German princes, “that none but the Protestants should dare to oppose such pernicious designs; they must not be aided in their enterprises against religion, but they must be made use of in order to maintain Germany in the enjoyment of her liberties.” The Catholic league in Germany, habitually allied as it was with the house of Austria, did not offer any leader to take the field against her. The King of Denmark, after a long period of hostilities, had just made peace with the emperor; and, “in their need, all these offended and despoiled princes looked, as sailors look to the north,” towards the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus.

Gustavus Adolphus——282

“The King of Sweden was a new rising sun, who, having been at war with all his neighbors, had wrested from them several provinces; he was young, but of great reputation, and already incensed against the emperor, not so much on account of any real injuries he had received from him as because he was his neighbor. His Majesty had kept an eye upon him with a view of attempting to make use of him in order to draw off, in course of time, the main body of the emperor’s forces, and give him work to do in his own dominions.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. v. p. 119.] Through Richelieu’s good offices, Gustavus Adolphus had just concluded a long truce with the Poles, with whom he had been for some time at war: the cardinal’s envoy, M. de Charnace, at once made certain propositions to the King of Sweden, promising the aid of France if he would take up the cause of the German princes; but Gustavus turned a cold ear to these overtures, “not seeing in any quarter any great encouragement to undertake the war, either in England, peace with the Spaniards being there as good as determined upon, or in Holland, for the same reason, or in the Hanseatic towns, which were all exhausted of wealth, or in Denmark, which had lost heart and was daily disarming, or in France, whence he got not a word on which he could place certain reliance.” The emperor, on his side, was seeking to make peace with Sweden, “and the people of that country were not disinclined to listen to him.”

God, for the accomplishment of his will, sets at nought the designs and intentions of men. Gustavus Adolphus was the instrument chosen by Providence to finish the work of Henry IV. and Richelieu. Negotiations continued to be carried on between the two parties, but, before his alliance with France was concluded, the King of Sweden, taking a sudden resolution, set out for Germany, on the 30th of May, 1630, with fifteen thousand men, “having told Charnace that he would not continue the war beyond that year, if he did not agree upon terms of treaty with the king; so much does passion blind us,” adds the cardinal, “that he thought it to be in his power to put an end to so great a war as that, just as it had been in his power to commence it.”

By this time Gustavus Adolphus was in Pomerania, the duke whereof, maltreated by the emperor, admitted him on the 10th of July into Stettin, after a show of resistance. The Imperialists, in their fury, put to a cruel death all the inhabitants of the said city who happened to be in their hands, and gave up all its territory to fire and sword. “The King of Sweden, on the contrary, had his army in such discipline, that it seemed as if every one of them were living at home, and not amongst strangers; for in the actions of this king there was nothing to be seen but inexorable severity towards the smallest excesses on the part of his men, extraordinary gentleness towards the populations, and strict justice on every occasion, all which conciliated the affections of all, and so much the more in that the emperor’s army, unruly, insolent, disobedient to its leaders, and full of outrage against the people, made their enemy’s virtues shine forth the brighter.” [Memoires de Richelieu, t. vi. p. 419.]

Gustavus Adolphus had left Sweden under the impulse of love for those glorious enterprises which make great generals, but still more of a desire to maintain the Protestant cause, which he regarded as that of God. He had assembled the estates of Sweden in the castle of Stockholm, presenting to them his daughter Christina, four years old, whom he confided to their faithful care. “I have hopes,” he said to them, “of ending by bringing triumph to the cause of the oppressed; but, as the pitcher that goes often to the well gets broken, so I fear it may be my fate. I who have exposed my life amidst so many dangers, who have so often spilt my blood for the country, without, thanks to God, having been wounded to death, must in the end make a sacrifice of myself; for that reason I bid you farewell, hoping to see you again in a better world.” He continued advancing into Germany. “This snow king will go on melting as he comes south,” said the emperor, Ferdinand, on hearing that Gustavus Adolphus had disembarked; but Mecklenburg was already in his hands, and the Elector of Brandenburg had just declared in his favor: he everywhere made proclamation, “that the inhabitants were to come forward and join him to take the part of their princes, whom he was coming to replace in possession.” He was investing all parts of Austria, whose hereditary dominions he had not yet attacked; it was in the name of the empire that he fought against the emperor.

The diet was terminating at Ratisbonne, and it had just struck a fatal blow at the imperial cause. The electors, Catholic and Protestant, jealous of the power as well as of the glory of the celebrated Wallenstein, creator and commander-in-chief of the emperor’s army, who had made him Duke of Friedland, and endowed him with the duchies of Mecklenburg, had obliged Ferdinand II. to withdraw from him the command of the forces. At this price he had hoped to obtain their votes to designate his son King of the Romans; the first step towards hereditary empire had failed, thanks to the ability of Father Joseph. “This poor Capuchin has disarmed me with his chaplet,” said the emperor, “and for all that his cowl is so narrow he has managed to get six electoral hats into it.” The treaty he had concluded, disavowed by France, did not for an instant hinder the progress of the King of Sweden; and the cardinal lost no time in letting him know that “the king’s intention was in no wise to abandon him, but to assist him more than ever, insomuch as he deemed it absolutely necessary in order to thwart the designs of those who had no end in view but their own augmentation, to the prejudice of all the other princes of Europe.” On the 25th of January, 1631, at Bernwald, the treaty of alliance between France and Sweden was finally signed. Baron Charnace had inserted in the draft of the treaty the term protection as between France and Gustavus Adolphus. “Our master asks for no protection but that of Heaven,” said the Swedish plenipotentiaries; “after God, his Majesty holds himself indebted only to his sword and his wisdom for any advantages he may gain.” Charnace did not insist; and the victories of Gustavus Adolphus were an answer to any difficulties.

The King of Sweden bound himself to furnish soldiers,—thirty thousand men at the least; France was to pay, by way of subsidy, four hundred thousand crowns a year, and to give a hundred thousand crowns to cover past expenses. Gustavus Adolphus promised to maintain the existing religion in such countries as he might conquer, “though he said, laughingly, that there was no possibility of promising about that, except in the fashion of him who sold the bear’s skin;” he likewise guaranteed neutrality to the princes of the Catholic league, provided that they observed it towards him. The treaty was made public at once, through the exertions of Gustavus Adolphus, though Cardinal Richelieu had charged Charnace to keep it secret for a time.

Torquato Conti, one of the emperor’s generals, who had taken Wallenstein’s place, wished to break off warfare during the long frosts. “My men do not recognize winter,” answered Gustavus Adolphus. “This prince, who did not take to war as a pastime, but made it in order to conquer,” marched with giant strides across Germany, reducing everything as he went. He had arrived, by the end of April, before Frankfurt-on-the Oder, which he took; and he was preparing to succor Magdeburg, which had early pronounced for him, and which Tilly, the emperor’s general, kept besieged. The Elector of Saxony hesitated to take sides; he refused Gustavus Adolphus a passage over the bridge of Dessau, on the Elbe. On the 20th of May Magdeburg fell, and Tilly gave over the place to the soldiery; thirty thousand persons were massacred, and the houses committed to the flames. “Nothing like it has been seen since the taking of Troy and of Jerusalem,” said Tilly in his savage joy. The Protestant princes, who had just been reconstituting the Evangelical Union, in the diet they had held in February at Leipzig, revolted openly, ordering levies of soldiers to protect their territories; the Catholic League, renouncing neutrality, flew to arms on their side; the question became nothing less than that of restoring to the Protestants all that had been granted them by the peace of Passau. The soldiery of Tilly were already let loose on electoral Saxony; the elector, constrained by necessity, intrusted his soldiers to Gustavus Adolphus, who had just received re-enforcements from Sweden, and the king marched against Tilly, still encamped before Leipzig, which he had forced to capitulate.

The Saxons gave way at the first shock of the imperial troops, but the King of Sweden had dashed forward, and nothing could withstand him; Tilly himself, hitherto proof against lead and steel, fell wounded in three places; five thousand dead were left on the field of battle; and Gustavus Adolphus dragged at his heels seven thousand prisoners. “Never did the grace of God pull me out of so bad a scrape,” said the conqueror. He halted some time at Mayence, which had just opened its gates to him. Axel Oxenstiern, his most faithful servant and oldest friend, whose intimacy with his royal master reminds one of that between Henry IV. and Sully, came to join him in Germany; he had hitherto been commissioned to hold the government of the conquests won from the Poles. He did not approve of the tactics of Gustavus Adolphus, who was attacking the Catholic League, and meanwhile leaving to the Elector of Saxony the charge of carrying the war into the hereditary dominions of Austria. . . . “Sir,” said he, “I should have liked to offer you my felicitations on your victories, not at Mayence, but at Vienna.” “If, after the battle of Leipzig, the King of Sweden had gone straight to attack the emperor in his hereditary provinces, it had been all over with the house of Austria,” says Cardinal Richelieu; “but either God did not will the certain destruction of that house, which would perhaps have been too prejudicial to the Catholic religion, and he turned him aside from the counsel which would have been more advantageous for him to take, or the same God, who giveth not all to any, but distributeth his gifts diversely to each, had given to this king, as to Hannibal, the knowledge how to conquer, but not how to use victory.”

Gustavus Adolphus had resumed his course of success: he came up with Tilly again on the Leek, April 10, 1632, and crushed his army; the general was mortally wounded, and the King of Sweden, entering Augsburg in triumph, proclaimed religious liberty there. He had moved forward in front of Ingolstadt, and was making a reconnaissance in person. “A king is not worthy of his crown who makes any difficulty about carrying it wherever a simple soldier can go,” he said. A cannon-ball carried off the hind quarters of his horse and threw him down. He picked himself up, all covered with blood and mud. “The fruit is not yet ripe,” he cried, with that strange mixture of courage and fatalism which so often characterizes great warriors; and he marched to Munich, on which he imposed a heavy war-contribution. The Elector of Bavaria, strongly favored by France, sought to treat in the name of the Catholic League; but Gustavus Adolphus required complete restitution of all territories wrested from the Protestant princes, the withdrawal of the troops occupying the dominions of the evangelicals, and the absolute neutrality of the Catholic princes. “These conditions smacked rather of your victorious prince, who would lay down and not accept the law.” He summoned to him all the inhabitants of the countries he traversed in conqueror’s style: “Surgite d mortuis,” he said to the Bavarians, “et venite ad judieium” (Rise from the dead, and come to judgment). Protestant Suabia had declared for him, and Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, one of his ablest lieutenants, carried the Swedish arms to the very banks of the Lake of Constance. The Lutheran countries of Upper Austria had taken up arms; and Switzerland had permitted the King of Sweden to recruit on her territory. “Italy began to tremble,” says Cardinal Richelieu; “the Genevese themselves were fortifying their town, and, to see them doing so, it seemed as if the King of Sweden were at their gates; but God had disposed it otherwise.”

The Emperor Ferdinand had recalled the only general capable of making a stand against Gustavus Adolphus. Wallenstein, deeply offended, had for a long while held out; but, being assured of the supreme command over the fresh army which Ferdinand was raising in all directions, he took the field at the end of April, 1632. Wallenstein effected a junction with the Elector of Bavaria, forcing Gustavus Adolphus back, little by little, on Nuremberg. “I mean to show the King of Sweden a new way of making war,” said the German general. The sufferings of his army in an intrenched camp soon became intolerable to Gustavus Adolphus. In spite of inferiority of forces, he attacked the enemy’s redoubts, and was repulsed; the king revictualled Nuremberg, and fell back upon Bavaria. Wallenstein at first followed him, and then flung himself upon Saxony, and took Leipzig; Gustavus Adolphus advanced to succor his ally, and the two armies met near the little town of Lutzen, on the 16th of November, 1632.

There was a thick fog. Gustavus Adolphus, rising before daybreak, would not put on his breastplate, his old wounds hurting him under harness: “God is my breastplate,” he said. When somebody came and asked him for the watchword, he answered, “God with us;” and it was Luther’s hymn, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (Our God is a strong tower), that the Swedes sang as they advanced towards the enemy. The king had given orders to march straight on Lutzen. “He animated his men to the fight,” says Richelieu, “with words that he had at command, whilst Wallenstein, by his mere presence and the sternness of his silence, seemed to let his men understand that, as he had been wont to do, he would reward them or chastise them, according as they did well or ill on that great day.”

It was ten A. M., and the fog had just lifted; six batteries of cannon and two large ditches defended the Imperialists; the artillery from the ramparts of Lutzen played upon the king’s army, the balls came whizzing about him; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was the first to attack, pushing forward on Lutzen, which was soon taken; Gustavus Adolphus marched on to the enemy’s intrenchments; for an instant the Swedish infantry seemed to waver; the king seized a pike and flung himself amidst the ranks. “After crossing so many rivers, scaling so many walls, and storming so many places, if you have not courage enough to defend yourselves, at least turn your heads to see me die,” he shouted to the soldiers. They rallied: the king remounted his horse, bearing along with him a regiment of Smalandaise cavalry. “You will behave like good fellows, all of you,” he said to them, as he dashed over the two ditches, carrying, as he went, two batteries of the enemy’s cannon. “He took off his hat and rendered thanks to God for the victory He was giving him.”

Two regiments of Imperial cuirassiers rode up to meet him; the king charged them at the head of his Swedes; he was in the thickest of the fight; his horse received a ball through the neck; Gustavus had his arm broken; the bone came through the sleeve of his coat; he wanted to have it attended to, and begged the Duke of Saxe-Altenburg to assist him in leaving the battle-field; at that very moment, Falkenberg, lieutenant-colonel in the Imperial army, galloped his horse on to the king and shot him, point-blank, in the back with a pistol. The king fell from his horse; and Falkenberg took to flight, pursued by one of the king’s squires, who killed him. Gustavus Adolphus was left alone with a German page, who tried to raise him; the king could no longer speak; three Austrian cuirassiers surrounded him, asking the page the name of the wounded man; the youngster would not say, and fell, riddled with wounds, on his master’s body; the Austrians sent one more pistol-shot into the dying man’s temple, and stripped him of his clothes, leaving him only his shirt. The melley recommenced, and successive charges of cavalry passed over the hero’s corpse; there were counted nine open wounds and thirteen scars on his body when it was recovered towards the evening.

Death of Gustavus and his Page——290

One of the king’s officers, who had been unable to quit the fight in time to succor him, went and announced his fall to Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. To him a retreat was suggested; but, “We mustn’t think of that,” said he, “but of death or victory.” A lieutenant-colonel of a cavalry regiment made some difficulty about resuming the attack: the duke passed his sword through his body, and, putting himself at the head of the troops, led them back upon the enemy’s intrenchments which he carried and lost three times. At last he succeeded in turning the cannon upon the enemy, and “that gave the turn to the victory, which, nevertheless, was disputed till night.”

“It was one of the most horrible ever heard of,” says Cardinal Richelieu; “six thousand dead or dying were left on the field of battle, where Duke Bernard encamped till morning.”

When day came, he led the troops off to Weisenfeld. The army knew nothing yet of the king’s death. The Duke of Saxe-Weimar had the body brought to the front. “I will no longer conceal from you,” he said, “the misfortune that has befallen us; in the name of the glory that you have won in following this great prince, help me to exact vengeance for it, and to let all the world see that he commanded soldiers who rendered him invincible, and, even after his death, the terror of his enemies.” A shout arose from the host, “We will follow you whither you will, even to the end of the earth.”

“Those who look for spots on the sun, and find something reprehensible even in virtue itself, blame this king,” says Cardinal Richelieu, “for having died like a trooper; but they do not reflect that all conqueror-princes are obliged to do not only the duty of captain, but of simple soldier, and to be the first in peril, in order to lead thereto the soldier who would not run the risk without them. It was the case with Caesar and with Alexander, and the Swede died so much the more gloriously than either the one or the other, in that it is more becoming the condition of a great captain and a conqueror to die sword in hand, making a tomb for his body of his enemies on the field of battle, than to be hated of his own and poniarded by the hands of his nearest and dearest, or to die of poison or of drowning in a wine-butt.”

Just like Napoleon in Egypt and Italy, Gustavus Adolphus, had performed the prelude, by numerous wars against his neighbors, to the grand enterprise which was to render his name illustrious. Vanquished in his struggle with Denmark in 1613, he had carried war into Muscovy, conquered towns and provinces, and as early as 1617 he had effected the removal of the Russians from the shores of the Baltic. The Poles made a pretence of setting their own king, Sigismund, upon the throne of Sweden; and for eighteen years Gustavus Adolphus had bravely defended his rights, and protected and extended his kingdom up to the truce of Altenmarket, concluded in 1629 through the intervention of Richelieu, who had need of the young King of Sweden in order to oppose the Emperor Ferdinand and the dangerous power of the house of Austria. Summoned to Germany by the Protestant princes who were being oppressed and despoiled, and assured of assistance and subsidies from the King of France, Gustavus Adolphus had, no doubt, ideas of a glorious destiny, which have been flippantly taxed with egotistical ambition. Perhaps, in the noble joy of victory, when he “was marching on without fighting,” seeing provinces submit, one after another, without his being hardly at the pains to draw his sword, might he have sometimes dreamed of a Protestant empire and the imperial crown upon his head; but, assuredly, such was not the aim of his enterprise and of his life. “I must in the end make a sacrifice of myself,” he had said on bidding farewell to the Estates of Sweden; and it was to the cause of Protestantism in Europe that he made this sacrifice. Sincerely religious in heart, Gustavus Adolphus was not ignorant that his principal political strength was in the hands of the Protestant princes; and he put at their service the incomparable splendor of his military genius. In two years the power of the house of Austria, a work of so many efforts and so many years, was shaken to its very foundations. The evangelical union of Protestant princes was re-forming in Germany, and treating, as equal with equal, with the emperor; Ferdinand was trembling in Vienna, and the Spaniards, uneasy even in Italy, were collecting their forces to make head against the irresistible conqueror, when the battle-field of Lutzen saw the fall, at thirty years of age, of the “hero of the North, the bulwark of Protestantism,” as he was called by his contemporaries, astounded at his greatness. God sometimes thus cuts off His noblest champions in order to make men see that He is master, and He alone accomplishes His great designs; but to them whom He deigns to thus employ He accords the glory of leaving their imprint upon the times they have gone through and the events to which they have contributed. Two years of victory in Germany at the head of Protestantism sufficed to make the name of Gustavus Adolphus illustrious forever.

Richelieu had continued the work of Henry IV.; and Chancellor Oxenstiern did not leave to perish that of his master and friend. Scarcely was Gustavus Adolphus dead when Oxenstiern convoked at Erfurt the deputies from the Protestant towns, and made them swear the maintenance of the union. He afterwards summoned to Heilbronn all the Protestant princes; the four circles of Upper Germany (Franconia, Suabia, the Palatinate, and the Upper Rhine), and the elector of Brandenburg alone sent their representatives; but Richelieu had delegated M. de Feuquieres, who quietly brought his weight to bear on the decision of the assembly, and got Oxenstiern appointed to direct the Protestant party; the Elector of Saxony, who laid claim to this honor, was already leaning towards the treason which he was to consummate in the following year; France at the same time renewed her treaty with Sweden and Holland; the great general of the armies of the empire, Wallenstein, displeased with his master, was making secret advances to the cardinal and to Oxenstiern; wherever he did not appear in person the Imperial armies were beaten. The emperor was just having his eyes opened, when Wallenstein, summoning around him at Pilsen his generals and his lieutenants, made them take an oath of confederacy for the defence of his person and of the army, and, begging Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and the Saxon generals to join him in Bohemia, he wrote to Feuquieres to accept the king’s secret offers.

Amongst the generals assembled at Pilsen there happened to be Max Piccolomini, in whom Wallenstein had great confidence: he at once revealed to the emperor his generalissimo’s guilty intrigues. Wallenstein fell, assassinated by three of his officers, on the 15th of February, 1634; and the young King of Hungary, the emperor’s eldest son, took the command-in chief of the army under the direction of the veteran generals of the empire. On the 6th of September, by one of those reversals which disconcert all human foresight, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and the Swedish marshal, Horn, coming up to the aid of Nordlingen, which was being besieged by the Austrian army, were completely beaten in front of that place; and their army retired in disorder, leaving Suabia to the conqueror. Protestant Germany was in consternation; all eyes were turned towards France.

Cardinal Richelieu was ready; the frequent treasons of Duke Charles of Lorraine had recently furnished him with an opportunity, whilst directing the king’s arms against him, of taking possession, partly by negotiation and partly by force, first of the town of Nancy, and then of the duchy of Bar; the duke had abdicated in favor of the cardinal, his brother, who, renouncing his ecclesiastical dignity, espoused his cousin, Princess Claude of Lorraine, and took refuge with her at Florence, whilst Charles led into Germany, to the emperor, all the forces he had remaining. The king’s armies were coming to provisionally take possession of all the places in Lothringen, where the Swedes, beaten in front of Nordlingen, being obliged to abandon the left bank of the Upper Rhine, placed in the hands of the French the town of Philipsburg, which they had but lately taken from the Spaniards. The Rhinegrave Otto, who was commanding in Elsass for the confederates, in the same way effected his retreat, delivering over to Marshal La Force Colmar, Schlestadt, and many small places; the Bishop of Basle and the free city of Mulhausen likewise claimed French protection.

On the 1st of November, the ambassadors of Sweden and of the Protestant League signed at Paris a treaty of alliance, soon afterwards ratified by the diet at Worms, and the French army, entering Germany, under Marshals La Force and Breze, caused the siege of Heidelberg to be raised on the 23d of December. Richelieu was in treaty at the same time with the United Provinces for the invasion of the Catholic Low Countries. It was in the name of their ancient liberties that the cardinal, in alliance with the heretics of Holland, summoned the ancient Flanders to revolt against Spain; if they refused to listen to this appeal, the confederates were under mutual promises to divide their conquest between them. France confined herself to stipulating for the maintenance of the Catholic religion in the territory that devolved to Holland. The army destined for this enterprise was already in preparation, and the king was setting out to visit it, when, in April, 1635, he was informed of Chancellor Oxenstiern’s arrival. Louis XIII. awaited him at Compiegne. The chancellor was accompanied by a numerous following, worthy of the man who held the command of a sovereign over the princes of the Protestant League; he had at his side the famous Hugo Grotius, but lately exiled from his country on account of religious disputes, and now accredited as ambassador to the King of France from the little queen, Christina of Sweden. It was Grotius who acted as interpreter between the king and the chancellor of Sweden. A rare and grand spectacle was this interview between, on the one side, the Swede and the Hollander, both of them great political philosophers in theory or practice, and, on the other, the all-powerful minister of the King of France, in presence of that king himself. When Oxenstiern and Richelieu conferred alone together, the two ministers had recourse to Latin, that common tongue of the cultivated minds of their time, and nobody was present at their conversation. Oxenstiern soon departed for Holland, laden with attentions and presents: he carried away with him a new treaty of alliance between Sweden and France, and the assurance that the king was about to declare war against Spain.

And it broke out, accordingly, on the 19th of May, 1635. The violation of the electorate of Treves by the Cardinal Infante, and the carrying-off of the elector-archbishop served as pretext; and Louis XIII. declared himself protector of a feeble prince who had placed in his hands the custody of several places. Alencon, herald-at-arms of France, appeared at Brussels, proclamation of war in hand; and, not be able to obtain an interview with the Cardinal Infante, he hurled it at the feet of the Belgian herald-at-arms commissioned to receive him, and he affixed a copy of it to a post he set up in the ground in the last Flemish village, near the frontier. On the 6th of June, a proclamation of the king’s summoned the Spanish Low Countries to revolt. A victory had already been gained in Luxembourg, close to the little town of Avein, over Prince Thomas of Savoy, the duke-regnant’s brother, who was embroiled with him, and whom Spain had just taken into her service. The campaign of 1635 appeared to be commencing under happy auspices. These hopes were deceived; the Low Countries did not respond to the summons of the king and of his confederates; there was no rising anywhere against the Spanish yoke; traditional jealousy of the heretics of Holland prevented the Flanders from declaring for France; it was necessary to undertake a conquest instead of fomenting an insurrection. The Prince of Orange was advancing slowly into Germany; the Elector of Saxony had treated with the emperor, and several towns were accepting the peace concluded between them at Prague; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, supported by Cardinal Valette, at the head of French troops, had been forced to fall back to Metz in order to protect Lothringen and Elsass. In order to attach this great general to himself forever, the king had just ceded to Duke Bernard the landgravate of Elsass, hereditary possession, as it was, of the house of Austria. The Prince of Conde was attacking Franche-Comte; the siege of Dole was dragging its slow length along, when the emperor’s most celebrated lieutenants, John van Weert and Piccolomini, who had formed a junction in Belgium, all at once rallied the troops of Prince Thomas, and, advancing rapidly towards Picardy, invaded French soil at the commencement of July, 1636. La Capelle and Le Catelet were taken by assault, and the Imperialists laid siege to Corbie, a little town on the Somme four leagues from Amiens.

Great was the terror at Paris, and, besides the terror, the rage; the cardinal was accused of having brought ruin upon France; for a moment the excitement against him was so violent that his friends were disquieted by it: he alone was unmoved. The king quitted St. Germain and returned to Paris, whilst Richelieu, alone, without escort, and with his horses at a walk, had himself driven to the Hotel de Ville right through the mob in their fury. “Then was seen,” says Fontenay-Mareuil, “what can be done by a great heart (vertu), and how it is revered even of the basest souls, for the streets were so full of folks that there was hardly room to pass, and all so excited that they spoke of nothing but killing him: as soon as they saw him approaching, they all held their peace or prayed God to give him good speed, that he might be able to remedy the evil which was apprehended.”

On the 15th of August, Corbie surrendered to the Spaniards, who crossed the Somme, wasting the country behind them; but already alarm had given place to ardent desire for vengeance; the cardinal had thought of everything and provided for everything: the bodies corporate, from the Parliament to the trade-syndicates, had offered the king considerable sums; all the gentlemen and soldiers unemployed had been put on the active list of the army; and the burgesses of Paris, mounting in throngs the steps of the Hotel de Ville, went and shook hands with the veteran Marshal La Force, saying, “Marshal, we want to make war with you.” They were ordered to form the nucleus of the reserve army which was to protect Paris. The Duke of Orleans took the command of the army assembled at Compiegne, at the head of which the Count of Soissons already was; the two princes advanced slowly; they halted two days to recover the little fortress of Roze; the Imperialists fell back; they retired into Artois; they were not followed, and the French army encamped before Corbie.

Winter was approaching; nobody dared to attack the town; the cardinal had no confidence in either the Duke of Orleans or the Count of Soissons. He went to Amiens, whilst the king established his headquarters at the castle of Demuin, closer to Corbie. Richelieu determined to attack the town by assault; the trenches were opened on the 5th of November; on the 10th the garrison parleyed; on the 14th the place was surrendered. “I am very pleased to send you word that we have recovered Corbie,” wrote Voiture to one of his friends, very hostile to the cardinal [OEuvres de Voiture, p. 175]: “the news will astonish you, no doubt, as well as all Europe; nevertheless, we are masters of it. Reflect, I beg you, what has been the end of this expedition which has made so much noise. Spain and Germany had made for the purpose their supremest efforts. The emperor had sent his best captains and his best cavalry. The army of Flanders had given its best troops. Out of that is formed an army of twenty-five thousand horse, fifteen thousand foot, and forty cannon. This cloud, big with thunder and lightning, comes bursting over Picardy, which it finds unsheltered, our arms being occupied elsewhere. They take, first of all, La Capelle and Le Catelet; they attack, and in nine days take, Corbie; and so they are masters of the river; they cross it, and they lay waste all that lies between the Somme and the Oise. And so long as there is no resistance, they valiantly hold the country, they slay our peasants and burn our villages; but, at the first rumor that reaches them to the effect that Monsieur is advancing with an army, and that the king is following close behind him, they intrench themselves behind Corbie; and, when they learn that there is no halting, and that the march against them is going on merrily, our conquerors abandon their intrenchments. And these determined gentry, who were to pierce France even to the Pyrenees, who threatened to pillage Paris, and recover there, even in Notre-Dame, the flags of the battle of Avein, permit us to effect the circumvallation of a place which is of so much importance to them, give us leisure to construct forts, and, after that, let us attack and take it by assault before their very eyes. Such is the end of the bravadoes of Piccolomini, who sent us word by his trumpeters to say, at one time, that he wished we had some powder, and, at another, that we had some cavalry coming, and, when we had both one and the other, he took very good care to wait for us. In such sort, sir, that, except La Capelle and Le Catelet, which are of no consideration, all the flash made by this grand and victorious army has been the capture of Corbie, only to give it up again and replace it in the king’s hands, together with a counterscarp, three bastions, and three demilunes, which it did not possess. If they had taken ten more of our places with similar success, our frontier would be in all the better condition for it, and they would have fortified it better than those who hitherto have had the charge of it. . . . Was it not said that we should expend before this place many millions of gold and many millions of men with a chance of taking it, perhaps, in three years? Yet, when the resolution was taken to attack it by assault, the month of November being well advanced, there was not a soul but cried out. The best intentioned avowed that it showed blindness, and the rest said that we must be afraid lest our soldiers should not die soon enough of misery and hunger, and must wish to drown them in their own trenches. As for me, though I knew the inconveniencies which necessarily attend sieges undertaken at this season, I suspended my judgment; for, sooth to say, we have often seen the cardinal out in matters that he has had done by others, but we have never yet seen him fail in enterprises that he has been pleased to carry out in person and that he has supported by his presence. I believed, then, that he would surmount all difficulties; and that he who had taken La Rochelle in spite of Ocean, would certainly take Corbie too in spite of Winter’s rains. . . . You will tell me, that it is luck which has made him take fortresses without ever having conducted a siege before, which has made him, without any experience, command armies successfully, which has always led him, as it were, by the hand, and preserved him amidst precipices into which he had thrown himself, and which, in fact, has often made him appear bold, wise, and far-sighted: let us look at him, then, in misfortune, and see if he had less boldness, wisdom, and far sightedness. Affairs were not going over well in Italy, and we had met with scarcely more success before Dole. When it was known that the enemy had entered Picardy, that all is a-flame to the very banks of the Oise, everybody takes fright, and the chief city of the realm is in consternation. On top of that come advices from Burgundy that the siege of Dole is raised, and from Saintonge that there are fifteen thousand peasants revolted, and that there is fear lest Poitou and Guienne may follow this example. Bad news comes thickly, the sky is overcast on all sides, the tempest beats upon us in all directions, and from no quarter whatever does a single ray of good fortune shine upon us. Amidst all this darkness, did the cardinal see less clearly? Did he lose his head during all this tempest? Did he not still hold the helm in one hand, and the compass in the other? Did he throw himself into the boat to save his life? Nay, if the great ship he commanded were to be lost, did he not show that he was ready to die before all the rest? Was it luck that drew him out of this labyrinth, or was it his own prudence, steadiness, and magnanimity? Our enemies are fifteen leagues from Paris, and his are inside it. Every day come advices that they are intriguing there to ruin him. France and Spain, so to speak, have conspired against him alone. What countenance was kept amidst all this by the man who they said would be dumbfounded at the least ill-success, and who had caused Le Havre to be fortified in order to throw himself into it at the first misfortune? He did not make a single step backward all the same. He thought of the perils of the state, and not of his own; and the only change observed in him all through was that, whereas he had not been wont to go out but with an escort of two hundred guards, he walked about, every day, attended by merely five or six gentlemen. It must be owned that adversity borne with so good a grace and such force of character is worth more than a great deal of prosperity and victory. To me he did not seem so great and so victorious on the day he entered La Rochelle as then; and the journeys he made from his house to the arsenal seem to me more glorious for him than those which he made beyond the mountains, and from which he returned with the triumphs of Pignerol and Suza.”

This was Cardinal Richelieu’s distinction, that all his contemporaries, in the same way as Voiture, identified the mishaps and the successes of their country with his own fortunes, and that upon him alone were fixed the eyes of Europe, whether friendly or hostile, when it supported or when it fought against France.

For four years the war was carried on with desperation by land and sea in the Low Countries, in Germany, and in Italy, with alternations of success and reverse. The actors disappeared one after another from the scene; the emperor, Ferdinand II., had died on the 15th of February, 1637;—the election of his son, Ferdinand III., had not been recognized by France and Sweden; Bernard of Saxe-Weimar succumbed, at thirty-four years of age, on the 15th of July, 1639, after having beaten, in the preceding year, the celebrated John van Weert, whom he sent a prisoner to Paris. At his death the landgravate of Elsass reverted to France, together with the town of Brisach, which he had won from the Imperialists.

The Duke of Savoy had died in 1637; his widow, Christine of France, daughter of Henry IV., was, so far as her brother’s cause in Italy was concerned, but a poor support; but Count d’Harcourt, having succeeded, as head of the army, Cardinal Valette, who died in 1638, had retaken Turin and Casale from the Imperialists in the campaign of 1640; two years later, in the month of June, 1642, the Princes Thomas and Maurice, brothers-in-law of the Duchess Christine, wearied out by the maladdress and haughtiness of the Spaniards, attached themselves definitively to the interests of France, drove out the Spanish garrisons from Nice and Ivrea, in concert with the Duke of Longueville, and retook the fortress of Tortona as well as all Milaness to the south of the Po. Perpignan, besieged for more than two years past by the king’s armies, capitulated at the same moment. Spain, hard pressed at home by the insurrection of the Catalans and the revolt of Portugal at the same time, both supported by Richelieu, saw Arras fall into the hands of France (August 9, 1640), and the plot contrived with the Duke of Bouillon and the Count of Soissons fail at the battle of La Marfee, where this latter prince was killed on the 16th of July, 1641. In Germany, Marshal Guebriant and the Swedish general Torstenson, so paralyzed that he had himself carried in a litter to the head of his army, had just won back from the empire Silesia, Moravia, and nearly all Saxony; the chances of war were everywhere favorable to France, a just recompense for the indomitable perseverance of Cardinal Richelieu through good and evil fortune. “The great tree of the house of Austria was shaken to its very roots, and he had all but felled that trunk which with its two branches covers the North and the West, and throws a shadow over the rest of the earth.” [Lettres de Malherbe, t. iv.] The king, for a moment shaken in his fidelity towards his minister by the intrigues of Cinq-Mars, had returned to the cardinal with all the impetus of the indignation caused by the guilty treaty made by his favorite with Spain. All Europe thought as the young captain in the guards, afterwards Marshal Fabert, who, when the king said to him, “I know that my army is divided into two factions, royalists and cardinalists; which are you for?” answered, “Cardinalists, sir, for the cardinal’s party is yours.” The cardinal and France were triumphing together, but the conqueror was dying; Cardinal Richelieu had just been removed from Ruel to Paris.

For several months past, the cardinal’s health, always precarious, had taken a serious turn; it was from his sick-bed that he, a prey to cruel agonies, directed the movements of the army, and, at the same time, the prosecution of Cinq-Mars. All at once his chest was attacked; and the cardinal felt that he was dying. On the 2d of December, 1642, public prayers were ordered in all the churches; the king went from St. Germain to see his minister. The cardinal was quite prepared. “I have this satisfaction,” he said, “that I have never deserted the king, and that I leave his kingdom exalted, and all his enemies abased.” He commended his relatives to his Majesty, “who on their behalf will remember my services;” then, naming the two secretaries of state, Chavigny and De Noyers, he added, “Your Majesty has Cardinal Mazarin; I believe him to be capable of serving the king.” And he handed to Louis XIII. a proclamation which he had just prepared for the purpose of excluding the Duke of Orleans from any right to the regency in case of the king’s death. The preamble called to mind that the king had five times already pardoned his brother, recently engaged in a new plot against him.

The king had left the cardinal, but without returning to St. Germain. He remained at the Louvre. Richelieu had in vain questioned the physicians as to how long he had to live. One, only, dared to go beyond commonplace hopes. “Monsignor,” he said, “in twenty-four hours you will be dead or cured.” “That is the way to speak!” said the cardinal; and he sent for the priest of St. Eustache, his parish. As they were bringing into his chamber the Holy Eucharist, he stretched out his hand, and, “There,” said he, “is my Judge before whom I shall soon appear; I pray him with all my heart to condemn me if I have ever had any other aim than the welfare of religion and of the state.” The priest would have omitted certain customary questions, but, “Treat me as the commonest of Christians,” said the cardinal. And when he was asked to pardon his enemies, “I never had any but those of the state,” answered the dying man.

The cardinal’s family surrounded his bed; and the attendance was numerous. The Bishop of Lisieux, Cospdan, a man of small wits, but of sincere devoutness, listened attentively to the firm speech, the calm declarations, of the expiring minister. “So much self-confidence appalls me,” he said below his breath. Richelieu died as he had lived, without scruples and without delicacies of conscience, absorbed by his great aim, and but little concerned about the means he had employed to arrive at it. “I believe, absolutely, all the truths taught by the church,” he had said to his confessor, and this faith sufficed for his repose. The memory of the scaffolds he had caused to be erected did not so much as recur to his mind. “I have loved justice, and not vengeance. I have been severe towards some in order to be kind towards all,” he had said in his will, written in Latin. He thought just the same on his death-bed.

The king left him, not without emotion and regret. The cardinal begged Madame d’Aiguillon, his niece, to withdraw. “She is the one whom I have loved most,” he said. Those around him were convulsed with weeping. A Carmelite whom he had sent for turned to those present, and, “Let those,” he said, “who cannot refrain from showing the excess of their weeping and their lamentation leave the room; let us pray for this soul.” In presence of the majesty of death and eternity human grandeur disappears irrevocably; the all-powerful minister was at that moment only this soul. A last gasp announced his departure; Cardinal Richelieu was dead.

He was dead, but his work survived him. On the very evening of the 3d of December, Louis XIII. called to his council Cardinal Mazarin; and next day he wrote to the Parliaments and governors of provinces, “God having been pleased to take to himself the Cardinal de Richelieu, I have resolved to preserve and keep up all establishments ordained during his ministry, to follow out all projects arranged with him for affairs abroad and at home, in such sort that there shall not be any change. I have continued in my councils the same persons as served me then, and I have called thereto Cardinal Mazarin, of whose capacity and devotion to my service I have had proof, and of whom I feel no less sure than if he had been born amongst my subjects.” Scarcely had the most powerful kings yielded up their last breath, when their wishes had been at once forgotten: Cardinal Richelieu still governed in his grave.

The Palais-Cardinal——305

The king had distributed amongst his minister’s relatives the offices and dignities which he had left vacant; the fortune that came to them was enormous; the legacies left to mere domestics amounted to more than three hundred thousand-livres. During his lifetime Richelieu had given to the crown “my grand hotel, which I built, and called Palais-de-Cardinal, my chapel (or chapel-service) of gold, enriched with diamonds, my grand buffet of chased silver, and a large diamond that I bought of Lopez.” In his will he adds, “I most humbly beseech his Majesty to think proper to have placed in his hands, out of the coined gold and silver that I have at my decease, the sum of fifteen hundred thousand livres, of which sum I can truly say that I made very good use for the great affairs of his kingdom, in such sort, that if I had not had this money at my disposal, certain matters which have turned out well would have, to all appearances, turned out ill; which gives me ground for daring to beseech his Majesty to destine this sum, that I leave him, to be employed on divers occasions which cannot abide the tardiness of financial forms.”

The minister and priest who had destroyed the power of the grandees in France had, nevertheless, the true instinct respecting the perpetuation of families. “Inasmuch as it hath pleased God,” he says in his will, “to bless my labors, and make them considered by the king, my kind master, showing recognition of them by his royal munificence, beyond what I could hope for, I have esteemed it a duty to bind my heirs to preserve the estate in my family, in such sort that it may maintain itself for a long while in the dignity and splendor which it hath pleased the king to confer upon it, in order that posterity may know that, as I served him faithfully, he, by virtue of a complete kingliness, knew what love to show me, and how to load me with his benefits.”

The cardinal had taken pleasure in embellishing the estate of Richelieu, in Touraine, where he was born, and which the king had raised to a duchy-peerage. Mdlle. de Montpensier, in her Memoires, gives an account of a visit she paid to it in her youth. “I passed,” she says, “along a very fine street of the town, all the houses of which are in the best style of building, one like another, and quite newly made, which is not to be wondered at. MM. de Richelieu, though gentlemen of good standing, had never built a town; they had been content with their village and with a mediocre house. At the present time it is the most beautiful and most magnificent castle you could possibly see, and all the ornament that could be given to a house is found there. This will not be difficult to believe if one considers that it is the work of the most ambitious and most ostentatious man in the world, premier minister of state too, who for a long while possessed absolute authority over affairs. It is, nevertheless, inconceivable that the apartments should correspond so ill in size with the beauty of the outside. I hear that this arose from the fact that the cardinal wished to have the chamber preserved in which he was born. To adjust the house of a simple gentleman to the grand ideas of the most powerful favorite there has ever been in France, you will observe that the architect must have been hampered; accordingly he did not see his way to planning any but very small quarters, which, by way of recompense, as regards gilding or painting, lack no embellishment inside.

“Amidst all that modern invention has employed to embellish it, there are to be seen, on the chimney-piece in a drawingroom, the arms of Cardinal Richelieu, just as they were during the lifetime of his father, which the cardinal desired to leave there, because they comprise a collar of the Holy Ghost, in order to prove to those who are wont to misrepresent the origin of favorites that he was born a gentleman of a good house. In this point, he imposed upon nobody.”

The castle of Richelieu is well nigh destroyed; his family, after falling into poverty, is extinct; the Palais-Cardinal has assumed the name of Palais-Royal; and pure monarchy, the aim of all his efforts and the work of his whole life, has been swept away by the blast of revolution. Of the cardinal there remains nothing but the great memory of his power and of the services he rendered his country. Evil has been spoken, with good reason, of glory; it lasts, however, more durably than material successes even when they rest on the best security. Richelieu had no conception of that noblest ambition on which a human soul can feed, that of governing a free country, but he was one of the greatest, the most effective, and the boldest, as well as the most prudent servants that France ever had.

Cardinal Richelieu gave his age, whether admirers or adversaries, the idea which Malherbe expressed in a letter to one of his friends: “You know that my humor is neither to flatter nor to lie; but I swear to you that there is in this man a something which surpasses humanity, and that if our bark is ever to outride the tempests, it will be whilst this glorious hand holds the rudder. Other pilots diminish my fear, this one makes me unconscious of it. Hitherto, when we had to build anew or repair some ruin, plaster alone was put in requisition. Now we see nothing but marble used; and, whilst the counsels are judicious and faithful, the execution is diligent and magnanimous. Wits, judgment, and courage never existed in any man to the degree that they do in him. As for interest, he knows none but that of the public. To that he clings with a passion so unbridled, if I may dare so to speak, that the visible injury it does his constitution is not capable of detaching him from it. Sees he anything useful to the king’s service, he goes at it without looking to one side or the other. Obstacles tempt him, resistance piques him, and nothing that is put in his way diverts him; the disregard he shows of self, and of all that touches himself, as if he knew no sort of health or disease but the health or disease of the state, causes all good men to fear that his life will not be long enough for him to see the fruit of what he plants; and moreover, it is quite evident that what he leaves undone can never be completed by any man that holds his place. Why, man, he does a thing because it has to be done! The space between the Rhine and the Pyrenees seems to him not field enough for the lilies of France. He would have them occupy the two shores of the Mediterranean, and waft their odors thence to the extremest countries of the Orient. Measure by the extent of his designs the extent of his courage.” [Letters to Racan and to M. de Mentin. OEuvres de Malherbe, t. iv.]

The Tomb of Richelieu——308

The cardinal had been barely four months reposing in that chapel of the Sorbonne which he had himself repaired for the purpose, and already King Louis XIII. was sinking into the tomb. The minister had died at fifty-seven, the king was not yet forty-two; but his always languishing health seemed unable to bear the burden of affairs which had been but lately borne by Richelieu alone. The king had permitted his brother to appear again at court. “Monsieur supped with me,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier, “and we had the twenty-four violins; he was as gay as if MM. Cinq-Mars and De Thou had not tarried by the way. I confess that I could not see him without thinking of them, and that in my joy I felt that his gave me a pang.” The prisoners and exiles, by degrees, received their pardon; the Duke of Vendome, Bassompierre, and Marshal Vitry had been empowered to return to their castles, the Duchess of Chevreuse and the ex-keeper of the seals, Chateauneuf, were alone excepted from this favor. “After the peace,” said the declaration touching the regency, which the king got enregistered by the Parliament on the 23d of April. The little dauphin, who had merely been sprinkled, had just received baptism in the chapel of the Castle of St. Germain. The king asked him, next day, if he knew what his name was. “My name is Louis XIV.,” answered the child. “Not yet, my son, not yet,” said the king, softly.

Louis XIII. did not cling to life: it had been sad and burdensome to him by the mere fact of his own melancholy and singular character, not that God had denied him prosperity or success. He had the windows opened of his chamber in the new castle of St. Germain looking towards the Abbey of St. Denis, where he had, at last, just laid the body of the queen his mother, hitherto resting at Cologne. “Let me see my last resting-place,” he said to his servants. The crowd of courtiers thronged to the old castle, inhabited by the queen; visits were made to the new castle to see the king, who still worked with his ministers; when he was alone, “he was seen nearly always with his eyes open towards heaven, as if he talked with God heart to heart.” [Memoires sur la Mort de Louis XIII., by his valet-de-chambre Dubois; Archives curieuses, t. v. p. 428.] On the 23d of April, it was believed that the last moment had arrived: the king received extreme unction; a dispute arose about the government of Brittany, given by the king to the Duke of La Meilleraye and claimed by the Duke of Vendome; the two claimants summoned their friends; the queen took fright, and, being obliged to repair to the king, committed the imprudence of confiding her children to the Duke of Beaufort, Vendome’s eldest son, a young scatter-brain who made a great noise about this favor. The king rallied and appeared to regain strength. He was sometimes irritated at sight of the courtiers who filled his chamber. “Those gentry,” he said to his most confidential servants, “come to see how soon I shall die. If I recover, I will make them pay dearly for their desire to have me die.” The austere nature of Louis XIII. was awakened again with the transitory return of his powers; the severities of his reign were his own as much as Cardinal Richelieu’s.

He was, nevertheless, dying, asking God for deliverance. It was Thursday, May 14. “Friday has always been my lucky day,” said Louis XIII.: “on that day I have undertaken assaults that I have carried; I have even gained battles: I should have liked to die on a Friday.” His doctors told him that they could find no more pulse; he raised his eyes to heaven and said out loud, “My God, receive me to mercy!” and addressing himself to all, he added, “Let us pray!” Then, fixing his eyes upon the Bishop of Meaux, he said, “You will, of course, see when the time comes for reading the agony prayers; I have marked them all.” Everybody was praying and weeping; the queen and all the court were kneeling in the king’s chamber. At three o’clock, he softly breathed his last, on the sane day and almost at the same moment at which his father had died beneath the dagger of Ravaillac, thirty-three years before.

France owed to Louis XIII. eighteen years of Cardinal Richelieu’s government; and that is a service which she can never forget. “The minister made his sovereign play the second part in the monarchy and the first in Europe,” said Montesquieu: “he abased the king, but he exalted the reign.” It is to the honor of Louis XIII. that he understood and accepted the position designed for him by Providence in the government of his kingdom, and that he upheld with dogged fidelity a power which often galled him all the while that it was serving him.







Cardinal Richelieu was dead, and “his works followed him,” to use the words of Holy Writ. At home and abroad, in France and in Europe, he had to a great extent continued the reign of Henry IV., and had completely cleared the way for that of Louis XIV. “Such was the strength and superiority of his genius that he knew all the depths and all the mysteries of government,” said La Bruyere in his admission-speech before the French Academy; “he was regardful of foreign countries, he kept in hand crowned heads, he knew what weight to attach to their alliance; with allies he hedged himself against the enemy. . . . And, can you believe it, gentlemen? this practical and austere soul, formidable to the enemies of the state, inexorable to the factious, overwhelmed in negotiations, occupied at one time in weakening the party of heresy, at another in breaking up a league, and at another in meditating a conquest, found time for literary culture, and was fond of literature and of those who made it their profession!” From inclination and from personal interest therein this indefatigable and powerful mind had courted literature; he had foreseen its nascent power; he had divined in the literary circle he got about him a means of acting upon the whole nation; he had no idea of neglecting them; he did not attempt to subjugate them openly; he brought them near to him and protected them. It is one of Richelieu’s triumphs to have founded the French Academy.

We must turn back for a moment and cast a glance at the intellectual condition which prevailed at the issue of the Renaissance and the Reformation.

For sixty years a momentous crisis had been exercising language and literature as well as society in France. They yearned to get out of it. Robust intellectual culture had, ceased to be the privilege of the erudite only; it began to gain a footing on the common domain; people no longer wrote in Latin, like Erasmus; the Reformation and the Renaissance spoke French. In order to suffice for this change, the language was taking form; everybody had lent a hand to the work; Calvin with his Christian Institutes (Institution Chretienne) at the same time as Rabelais with his learned and buffoonish romance, Ramus with his Dialectics, and Bodin with his Republic, Henry Estienne with his essays in French philology, as well as Ronsard and his friends by their classical crusade. Simultaneously with the language there was being created a public intelligent, inquiring, and eager. Scarcely had the translation of Plutarch by Amyot appeared, when it at once became, as Montaigne says, “the breviary of women and of ignoramuses.” “God’s life, my love,” wrote Henry IV. to Mary de’ Medici, “you could not have sent me any more agreeable news than of the pleasure you have taken in reading. Plutarch has a smile for me of never-failing freshness; to love him is to love me, for he was during a long while the instructor of my tender age; my good mother, to whom I owe everything, and who set so great store on my good deportment, and did not want me to be (that is what she used to say) an illustrious ignoramus, put that book into my hands, though I was then little more than a child at the breast. It has been like my conscience to me, and has whispered into my ear many good hints and excellent maxims for my behavior and for the government of my affairs.”

Thanks to Amyot, Plutarch “had become a Frenchman:” Montaigne would not have been able to read him easily in Greek. Indifferent to the Reformation, which was too severe and too affirmative for him, Montaigne, “to whom Latin had been presented as his mother-tongue,” rejoiced in the Renaissance without becoming a slave to it, or intoxicated with it like Rabelais or Ronsard. “The ideas I had naturally formed for myself about man,” he says, “I confirmed and fortified by the authority of others and by the sound examples of the ancients, with whom I found my judgment in conformity.” Born in 1533, at the castle of Montaigne in Perigord, and carefully brought up by “the good father God had given him,” Michael de Montaigne was, in his childhood, “so heavy, lazy, and sleepy, that he could not be roused from sloth, even for the sake of play.” He passed several years in the Parliament of Bordeaux, but he had never taken a liking to jurisprudence, though his father had steeped him in it, when quite a child, to his very lips, and he was always asking himself why common language, so easy for every other purpose, becomes obscure and unintelligible in a contract or will, which made him fancy that the men of law had “muddled everything in order to render themselves necessary.” He had lost the only man he had ever really loved, Stephen de la Boetie, an amiable and noble philosopher, counsellor in the Parliament of Bordeaux. “If I am pressed to declare why I loved him,” Montaigne used to say, “I feel that it can only be expressed by answering, because he was he, and I was I.” Montaigne gave up the Parliament, and travelled in Switzerland and Italy, often stopping at Paris, and gladly returning to his castle of Montaigne, where he wrote down what he had seen; “hungering for self-knowledge,” inquiring, indolent, without ardor for work, an enemy of all constraint, he was at the same time frank and subtle, gentle, humane, and moderate. As an inquiring spectator, without personal ambition, he had taken for his life’s motto, “Who knows? (Que sais-je?)” Amidst the wars of religion he remained without political or religious passion. “I am disgusted by novelty, whatever aspect it may assume, and with good reason,” he would say, “for I have seen some very disastrous effects of it.” Outside as well as within himself, Montaigne studied mankind without regard to order and without premeditated plan. “I have no drill-sergeant to arrange my pieces (of writing) save hap-hazard only,” he writes; “just as my ideas present themselves, I heap them together; sometimes they come rushing in a throng, sometimes they straggle single file. I like to be seen at my natural and ordinary pace, all a-hobble though it be; I let myself go, just as it happens. The parlance I like is a simple and natural parlance, the same on paper as in the mouth, a succulent and a nervous parlance, short and compact, not so much refined and finished to a hair as impetuous and brusque, difficult rather than wearisome, devoid of affectation, irregular, disconnected, and bold, not pedant-like, not preacher-like, not pleader-like.” That fixity which Montaigne could not give to his irresolute and doubtful mind he stamped upon the tongue; it came out in his Essays supple, free, and bold; he had made the first decisive step towards the formation of the language, pending the advent of Descartes and the great literature of France.

The sixteenth century began everything, attempted everything; it accomplished and finished nothing; its great men opened the road of the future to France; but they died without having brought their work well through, without foreseeing that it was going to be completed. The Reformation itself did not escape this misappreciation and discouragement of its age; and nowhere do they crop out in a more striking manner than in Montaigne. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Rabelais is a satirist and a cynic, he is no sceptic; there is felt circulating through his book a glowing sap of confidence and hope; fifty years later, Montaigne, on the contrary, expresses, in spite of his happy nature, in vivid, picturesque, exuberant language, only the lassitude of an antiquated age. Henry IV. was still disputing his throne with the League and Spain. Several times, amidst his embarrassments and his wars, the king had manifested his desire to see Montaigne; but the latter was ill, and felt “death nipping him continually in the throat or the reins.” And he died, in fact, at his own house, on the 13th of September, 1592, without having had the good fortune to see Henry IV. in peaceable possession of the kingdom which was destined to receive from him, together with stability and peace, a return of generous hope. All the writers of mark in the reign of Henry IV. bear the same imprint; they all yearn to get free from the chaos of those ideas and sentiments which the sixteenth century left still bubbling up. In literature as well as in the state, one and the same need of discipline and unity, one universal thirst for order and peace was bringing together all the intellects and all the forces which were but lately clashing against and hampering one another; in literature, as well as in the state, the impulse, everywhere great and effective, proceeded from the king, without pressure or effort. “Make known to Monsieur de Geneve,” said Henry IV. to one of the friends of St. Francis de Sales, “that I desire of him a work to serve as a manual for all persons of the court and the great world, without excepting kings and princes, to fit them for living Christianly each according to their condition. I want this manual to be accurate, judicious, and such as any one can make use of.” St. Francis de Sales published, in 1608, the Introduction to a Devout Life, a delightful and charming manual of devotion, more stern and firm in spirit than in form, a true Christian regimen softened by the tact of a delicate and acute intellect, knowing the world and its ways. “The book has surpassed my hope,” said Henry IV. The style is as supple, the fancy as rich, as Montaigne’s; but scepticism has given place to Christianism; St. Francis de Sales does not doubt, he believes; ingenious and moderate withal, he escapes out of the controversies of the violent and the incertitudes of the sceptics. The step is firm, the march is onward towards the seventeenth century, towards the reign of order, rule, and method.

The vigorous language and the beautiful arrangement in the style of the magistrates had already prepared the way for its advent. Descartes was the first master of it and its great exponent.

Descartes at Amsterdam——316

Never was any mind more independent in voluntary submission to an inexorable logic. Rene Descartes, who was born at La Haye, near Tours, in 1596, and died at Stockholm in 1650, escaped the influence of Richelieu by the isolation to which he condemned himself, as well as by the proud and somewhat uncouth independence of his character. Engaging as a volunteer, at one and twenty, in the Dutch army, he marched over Germany in the service of several princes, returned to France, where he sold his property, travelled through the whole of Italy, and ended, in 1629, by settling himself in Holland, seeking everywhere solitude and room for his thoughts. “In this great city of Amsterdam, where I am now,” he wrote to Balzac, “and where there is not a soul, except myself, that does not follow some commercial pursuit, everybody is so attentive to his gains, that I might live there all my life without being noticed by anybody. I go walking every day amidst the confusion of a great people with as much freedom and quiet as you could do in your forest-alleys, and I pay no more attention to the people who pass before my eyes than I should do to the trees that are in your forests and to the animals that feed there. Even the noise of traffic does not interrupt my reveries any more than would that of some rivulet.” Having devoted himself for a long time past to the study of geometry and astronomy, he composed in Holland his Treatise on the World (Traite du Monde). “I had intended to send you my World for your New Year’s gift,” he wrote to the learned Minime, Father Mersenne, who was his best friend; “but I must tell you that, having had inquiries made, lately, at Leyden and at Amsterdam, whether Galileo’s system of the world was to be obtained there, word was sent me that all the copies of it had been burned at Rome, and the author condemned to some fine, which astounded me so mightily that I almost resolved to burn all my papers, or at least not let them be seen by anybody. I confess that if the notion of the earth’s motion is false, all the foundations of my philosophy are too, since it is clearly demonstrated by them. It is so connected with all parts of my treatise that I could not detach it without rendering the remainder wholly defective. But as I would not, for anything in the world, that there should proceed from me a discourse in which there was to be found the least word which might be disapproved of by the church, so would I rather suppress it altogether than let it appear mutilated.”

Descartes’ independence of thought did not tend to revolt, as he had proved: in publishing his Discourse on Method he halted at the threshold of Christianism without laying his hand upon the sanctuary. Making a clean sweep of all he had learned, and tearing himself free, by a supreme effort, from the whole tradition of humanity, he resolved “never to accept anything as true until he recognized it to be clearly so, and not to comprise amongst his opinions anything but what presented itself so clearly and distinctly to his mind that he could have no occasion to hold it in doubt.” In this absolute isolation of his mind, without past and without future, Descartes, first of all assured of his own personal existence by that famous axiom, “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), drew from it, as a necessary consequence, the fact of the separate existence of soul and of body; passing oft by a sort of internal revelation which he called innate ideas, he came to the pinnacle of his edifice, concluding for the existence of a God from the notion of the infinite impressed on the human soul. A laborious reconstruction of a primitive and simple truth which the philosopher could not, for a single moment, have banished from his mind all the while that he was laboring painfully to demonstrate it.

By a tacit avowal of the weakness of the human mind, the speculations of Descartes stopped short at death. He had hopes, however, of retarding the moment of it. “I felt myself alive,” he said, at forty years of age, “and, examining myself with as much care as if I were a rich old man, I fancied I was even farther from death than I had been in my youth.” He had yielded to the entreaties of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had promised him an observatory, like that of Tycho Brahe. He was delicate, and accustomed to follow a regimen adapted to his studies. “O flesh!” he wrote to Gassendi, whose philosophy contradicted his own: “O idea!” answered Gassendi. The climate of Stockholm was severe; Descartes caught inflammation of the lungs; he insisted upon doctoring himself, and died on the 11th of February, 1650. “He didn’t want to resist death,” said his friends, not admitting that their master’s will could be vanquished by death itself. His influence remained for a long while supreme over his age. Bossuet and Fenelon were Cartesians. “I think, therefore I am,” wrote Madame de Sevigne to her daughter. “I think of you tenderly, therefore I love you; I think only of you in that manner, therefore I love you only.” Pascal alone, though adopting to a certain extent Descartes’ form of reasoning, foresaw the excess to which other minds less upright and less firm would push the system of the great philosopher. “I cannot forgive Descartes,” he said; “he would have liked, throughout his philosophy, to be able to do without God, but he could not help making Him give just a flick to set the world in motion; after that he didn’t know what to do with God.” A severe, but a true saying; Descartes had required everything of pure reason; he had felt a foreshadowing of the infinite and the unknown without daring to venture into them. In the name of reason, others have denied the infinite and the unknown. Pascal was wiser and bolder when, with St. Augustine, he found in reason itself a step towards faith. “Reason would never give in if she were not of opinion that there are occasions when she ought to give in.”

By his philosophical method, powerful and logical, as well as by the clear, strong, and concise style he made use of to expound it, Descartes accomplished the transition from the sixteenth century to the seventeeth; he was the first of the great prose-writers of that incomparable epoch, which laid forever the foundations of the language. At the same moment the great Corneille was rendering poetry the same service.

It had come out of the sixteenth century more disturbed and less formed than prose; Ronsard and his friends had received it from the hands of Marot, quite young, unsophisticated and undecided; they attempted, at the first effort, to raise it to the level of the great classic models of which their minds were full. The attempt was bold, and the Pleiad did not pretend to consult the taste of the vulgar. “The obscurity of Ronsard,” says M. Guizot, in his Corneille et son Temps, “is not that of a subtle mind torturing itself to make something out of nothing; it is the obscurity of a full and a powerful mind, which is embarrassed by its own riches, and has not learned to regulate the use of them. Furnished, by his reading of the ancients, with that which was wanting in our poetry, Ronsard thought he could perceive in his lofty and really poetical imagination what was needed to supply it; he cast his eyes in all directions, with the view of enriching the domain of poetry. ‘Thou wilt do well to pick dexterously,’ he says, in his abridgment of the art of French poetry, ‘and adopt to thy work the most expressive words in the dialects of our own France; there is no need to care whether the vocables are Gascon, or Poitevin, or Norman, or Mancese, or Lyonnese, or of other districts, provided that they are good, and properly express what thou wouldst say.’ Ronsard was too bold in extending his conquests over the classical languages; it was that exuberance of ideas, that effervescence of a genius not sufficiently master over its conceptions, which brought down upon him, in after times, the contempt of the writers who, in the seventeenth century, followed, with more wisdom and taste, the road which he had contributed to open. ‘He is not,’ said Balzac, ‘quite a poet; he has the first beginnings and the making of a poet; we see in his works nascent and half-animated portions of a body which is in formation, but which does not care to arrive at completion.’”

This body is that of French poetry; Ronsard traced out its first lineaments, full of elevation, play of fancy, images, and a poetic fire unknown before him. He was the first to comprehend the dignity which befits grand subjects, and which earned him in his day the title of Prince of poets. He lived in stormy times, not much adapted for poetry, and steeped in the most cruel tragedies; he felt deeply the misfortunes of his country rent by civil war, when he wrote,—

          “A cry of dread, a din, a thundering sound
          Of men and clashing harness roars around;
          Peoples ‘gainst peoples furiously rage;
          Cities with cities deadly battle wage;
          Temples and towns—one heap of ashes lie;
          Justice and equity fade out and die
          Unchecked the soldier’s wicked will is done
          With human blood the outraged churches run;
          Bedridden Age, disbedded, perisheth,
          And over all grins the pale face of Death.”

There was something pregnant, noble, and brilliant about Ronsard, in spite of his exaggerations of style and faults of taste; his friends and disciples imitated and carried to an extreme his defects, without possessing his talent; the unruliness was such as to call for reform. Peace revived with Henry IV., and the court, henceforth in accord with the nation, resumed that empire over taste, manners, and ideas, which it was destined to exercise so long and so supremely under Louis XIV. Malherbe became the poet of the court, whose business it was to please it, to adopt for it that literature which had but lately been reserved for the feasts of the learned. “He used often to say, and chiefly when he was reproached with not following the meaning of the authors he translated or paraphrased, that he did not dress his meat for cooks, as if he had meant to infer that he cared very little to be praised by the literary folks who understood the books he had translated, provided that he was understood by the court-folks.” A complete revolution in the opposite direction to that which Ronsard attempted appeared to have taken place, but the human mind never loses all the ground it has once won; in the verses of Malherbe, often bearing the imprint of beauties borrowed from the ancients, the language preserved, in consequence of the character given to it by Ronsard, a dignity, a richness of style, of which the times of Marot showed no conception; and it was falling, moreover, under the chastening influence of an elegant correctness. It was for the court that Malherbe made verses, “striving,” as he said, “to degasconnize it,” seeking there his public and the source of honor as well as profit. As passionate an admirer of Richelieu as of Henry IV., naturally devoted to the service of the order established in the state as well as in poetry, he, under the regency of Mary de’ Medici, favored the taste which was beginning to show itself for intellectual things, for refined pleasures, and elegant occupations. It was not around the queen that this honorable and agreeable society gathered; it was at the Hotel Rambouillet, around Catherine de Vivonne, in Rue St. Thomas du Louvre. Literature was there represented by Malherbe and Racan, afterwards by Balzac and Voiture, Gombault and Chapelain, who constantly met there, in company with Princess de Conde and her daughter, subsequently Duchess de Longueville, Mademoiselle du Vigean, Madame and Mdlle. d’Epernon, and the Bishop of Lucon himself, quite young as yet, but already famous. “All the wits were received at the Hotel Rambouillet, whatever their condition,” says M. Cousin: “all that was asked of them was to have good manners; but the aristocratic tone was established there without any effort, the majority of the guests at the house being very great lords, and the mistress being at one and the same time Rambouillet and Vivonne. The wits were courted and honored, but they did not hold the dominion.” At that great period which witnessed the growth of Richelieu’s power, and of the action he universally exercised upon French society, at the outcome from the moral licentiousness which Henry IV.‘s example had encouraged in his court, and after a certain roughness, the fruit of long civil wars, a lesson was taught at Madame de Rambouillet’s of modesty, grace, and lofty politeness, together with the art of forming good ideas and giving them good expression, sometimes with rather too much of far-fetched and affected cleverness, always in good company, and with much sweetness and self-possession on the part of the mistress of the house. In 1627, Cardinal Richelieu, having become minister, sent the Marquis of Rambouillet as ambassador to Spain. He wanted to be repaid for this favor. One of his friends went to call upon Madame de Rambouillet. At the first hint of what was expected from her, “I do not believe that there are any intrigues between Cardinal Valette and the princess,” said she, “and, even if there were, I should not be the proper person for the office it is intended to put upon me. Besides, everybody is so convinced of the consideration and friendship I have for his Eminence that nobody would dare to speak ill of him in my presence; I cannot, therefore, ever have an opportunity of rendering him the services you ask of me.”

The cardinal did not persist, and remained well disposed towards Hotel Rambouillet. Completely occupied in laying solidly the foundations of his power, in checkmating and punishing conspiracies at court, and in breaking down the party of the Huguenots, he had no leisure just yet to think of literature and the literary. He had, nevertheless, in 1626, begun removing the ruins of the Sorbonne, with a view of reconstructing the buildings on a new plan and at his own expense. He wrote, in 1627, to M. Saintot, “I thank him for the care he has taken of the Sorbonne, begging him to continue it, assuring him that, though I have many expenses on my hands, I am as desirous of continuing to build up that house as of contributing, to the best of my little ability, to pull down the fortifications of La Rochelle.” The works were not completely finished at the death of the cardinal, who provided therefor by his will.

The King’s Press——323

At the same time that he was repairing and enriching the Sorbonne, the cardinal was helping Guy de la Brosse, the king’s physician, to create the Botanic Gardens (Le Jardin des Plantes), he was defending the independence of the College of France against the pretensions of the University of Paris, and gave it for its Grand Almoner his brother, the Archbishop of Lyons. He was preparing the foundation of the King’s Press (Imprimerie royale), definitively created in 1640; and he gave the Academy or King’s College (college royal) of his town of Richelieu a regulation-code of studies which bears the imprint of his lofty and strong mind. He prescribed a deep study of the French tongue. “It often happens, unfortunately, that the difficulties which must be surmounted and the long time which is employed in learning the dead languages, before any knowledge of the sciences can be arrived at, have the effect, at the outset, of making young gentlemen disgusted and hasten to betake themselves to the exercise of arms without having been sufficiently instructed in good literature, though it is the fairest ornament of their profession. . . . It has, therefore, been thought necessary to establish a royal academy at which discipline suitable to their condition may be taught them in the French tongue, in order that they may exercise themselves therein, and that even foreigners, who are curious about it, may learn to know its riches and the graces it hath in unfolding the secrets of the highest discipline.” Herein is revealed the founder of the French Academy, skilful as he was in divining the wants of his day, and always ready to profit by new means of action, and to make them his own whilst doing them service.

Associations of the literary were not unknown in France; Ronsard and his friends, at first under the name of the brigade and then under that of the Pleiad, often met to read together their joint productions, and to discuss literary questions; and the same thing was done, subsequently, in Malherbe’s rooms.

“Now let us speak at our ease,” Balzac would say, when the sitting was over, “and without fear of committing solecisms.”

When Malherbe was dead and Balzac had retired to his country house on the borders of the Charente, some friends, “men of letters and of merits very much above the average,” says Pellisson in his Histoire de l’Academie Francaise, “finding that nothing was more inconvenient in this great city than to go often and often to call upon one another without finding anybody at home, resolved to meet one day in the week at the house of one of them. They used to assemble at M. Conrart’s, who happened to be most conveniently quartered for receiving them, and in the very heart of the city (Rue St. Martin). There they conversed familiarly as they would have on an ordinary visit, and upon all sorts of things, business, news, and literature. If any one of the company had a work done, as, often happened, he readily communicated its contents to all the others, who freely gave him their opinion of it, and their conferences were followed sometimes by a walk and sometimes by a collation which they took together. Thus they continued for three or four years, as I have heard many amongst them say; it was an extreme pleasure and an incredible gain, insomuch that, when they speak nowadays of that time and of those early days of the Academy, they speak of it as a golden age during the which, without bustle and without show, and without any other laws but those of friendship, they enjoyed all that is sweetest and most charming in the intercourse of intellects and in rational life.”

Even after the intervention and regulationizing of Cardinal Richelieu, the French Academy still preserved something of that sweetness and that polished familiarity in their relations which caused the regrets of its earliest founders. [They were MM. Godeau, afterwards Bishop of Grasse, Conrart and Gombault who were Huguenots, Chapelain, Giry, Habert, Abbe de Cerisy, his brother, M. de Serizay and M. de Maleville.] The secret of the little gatherings was not so well kept but that Bois-Robert, the cardinal’s accredited gossip, ever on the alert for news to divert his patron, heard of them and begged before long to be present at them. “There was no probability of his being refused, for, besides that he was on friendly terms with many of these gentlemen, the very favor he enjoyed gave him some sort of authority and added to his consequence. He was full of delight and admiration at what he saw, and did not fail to give the cardinal a favorable account of the little assembly, insomuch that the cardinal, who had a mind naturally inclined towards great things, and who loved the French language, which he himself wrote extremely well, asked if those persons would not be disposed to form a body and assembly regularly and under public authority.” Bois-Robert was intrusted with the proposal.

Great was the consternation in the little voluntary and friendly Academy. “There was scarcely one of these gentlemen who did not testify displeasure:” MM. de Serizay and de Maleville, who were attached to the households of the Duke of La Rochefoucauld and Marshal Bassompierre, one in retirement on his estates and the other a prisoner in the Bastille, were for refusing and excusing themselves as best they might to the cardinal. Chapelain, who had a pension from his Eminence, represented that “in good truth he could have been well pleased to dispense with having their conferences thus bruited abroad, but in the position to which things were reduced, it was not open to them to follow the more agreeable of the two courses; they had to do with a man who willed in no half-hearted way whatever he willed, and who was not accustomed to meet resistance or to stiffer it with impunity; he would consider as an insult the disregard shown for his protection, and might visit his resentment upon each individual; he could, at any rate, easily prohibit their assemblies, breaking up by that means a society which every one of them desired to be eternal.” The arguments were strong, the members yielded; Bois-Robert was charged to thank his Eminence very humbly for the honor he did them, assuring him that they were all resolved to follow his wishes. “I wish to be of that assembly the protector and the father,” said Richelieu, giving at once divers proofs that he took a great interest in that establishment, a fact which soon brought the Academy solicitations from those who were most intimate with the cardinal, and who, being in some sort of repute for wit, gloried in being admitted to a body which he regarded with favor.

In making of this little private gathering a great national institution, Cardinal Richelieu yielded to his natural yearning for government and dominion; he protected literature as a minister and as an admirer; the admirer’s inclination was supported by the minister’s influence. At the same time, and perhaps without being aware of it, he was giving French literature a centre of discipline and union whilst securing for the independence and dignity of writers a supporting-point which they had hitherto lacked. Whilst recompensing them by favors nearly always conferred in the name of the state, he was preparing for them afar off the means of withdrawing themselves from that private dependence, the yoke of which they nearly always had to bear. Set free at his death from the weight of their obligations to him, they became the servants of the state; ere long the French Academy had no other protector but the king.

Order and rule everywhere accompanied Cardinal Richelieu; the Academy drew up its statutes, chose a director, a chancellor, and a perpetual secretary: Conrart was the first to be called to that honor; the number of Academicians was set down at forty by letters patent from the king. “As soon as God had called us to the conduct of this realm, we had for aim, not only to apply a remedy to the disorders which the civil wars had introduced into it, but also to enrich it with all ornaments suitable for the most illustrious and the most ancient of the monarchies that are at this day in the world. Although we have labored without ceasing at the execution of this design, it hath been impossible for us hitherto to see the entire fulfilment thereof. The disturbances so often excited in the greater part of our provinces, and the assistance we have been obliged to give to many of our allies, have diverted us from any other thought but that of war, and have hindered us for a long while from enjoying the repose we procured for others. . . . Our very clear and very much beloved cousin, the cardinal-duke of Richelieu, who hath had the part that everybody knows in all these things, hath represented to us that one of the most glorious signs of the happiness of a kingdom was that the sciences and arts should flourish there, and that letters should be in honor there as well as arms; that, after having performed so many memorable exploits, we had nothing further to do but to add agreeable things to the necessary, and ornament to utility; and he was of opinion that we could not begin better than with the most noble of all the arts, which is eloquence; that the French tongue, which up to the present hath only too keenly felt the neglect of those who might have rendered it the most perfect of the day, is more than ever capable of becoming so, seeing the number of persons who have knowledge of the advantages it possesses; it is to establish fixed rules for it that he hath ordained an assembly whose propositions were satisfactory to him. For these reasons and in order to secure the said conferences, we will that they continue henceforth, in our good city of Paris, under the name of French Academy, and that letters patent be enregistered to that end by our gentry of the Parliament of Paris.”

The Parliament was not disposed to fulfil the formality of enregistration. The cardinal had compressed it, stifled it, but he had never mastered it; the Academy was a new institution, it was regarded as his work; on that ground it inspired great distrust in the public as well as the magistrates. “The people, to whom everything that came from this minister looked suspicious, knew not whether beneath these flowers there were not a serpent concealed, and were apprehensive that this establishment was, at the very least, a new prop to support is domination, that it was but a batch of folks in his pay, hired to maintain all that he did and to observe the actions and sentiments of others. It went about that he cut down scavenging expenses of Paris by eighty thousand livres in order to give them a pension of two thousand livres apiece; the vulgar were so frightened, without attempting to account for their terror, that a tradesman of Paris, who had taken a house that suited him admirably in Rue Cinq Diamants, where the Academy then used to meet at M. Chapelain’s, broke off his bargain on no other ground but that he did not want to be in a street where a ‘Cademy of Conspirators (une Cademie e Manopoleurs) met every week.” The wits, like St. Evremond, in his comedy of the Academistes, turned into ridicule the body which, as it was said, claimed to subject the language of the public to its decisions:—

               “So I, with hoary head, to’ school
               Must, like a child, go day by day,
               And learn my parts of speech, poor fool, when
               Death is taking speech away!”

said Maynard, who, nevertheless, was one of the forty.

The letters patent for establishment of the French Academy had been sent to the Parliament in 1635; they were not registered until 1637 at the express instance of the cardinal, who wrote to the premier President to assure him that “the foundation of the Academy was useful and necessary to the public, and the purpose of the Academicians was quite different from what it had been possible to make people believe hitherto.”

The decree of verification, when it at length appeared, bore traces of the jealous prejudices of the Parliament. “They the said assembly and academy,” it ran, “shall not be powered to take cognizance of anything but the ornamentation, embellishment, and augmentation of the French language, and of the books that shall be made by them and by other persons who shall desire it and want it.”

The French Academy was founded; it was already commencing its Dictionary in accordance with the suggestion enunciated by Chapelain at the second meeting; the cardinal was here carrying out that great moral idea of literature which he had expressed but lately in a letter to Balzac: “The conceptions in your letters,” said he, “are forcible and as far removed from ordinary imaginations as they are in conformity with the common sense of those who have superior judgment. Truth has this advantage, that it forces those who have eyes and mind sufficiently clear to discern what it is to represent it without disguise.” Neither Balzac and his friends, nor the protection of Cardinal Richelieu, sufficed as yet to give lustre to the Academy; great minds and great writers alone could make the glory of their society. The principle of the association of men of letters was, however, established: men of the world, friendly to literature, were already preparing to mingle with them; the literary, but lately servitors of the great, had henceforth at their disposal a privilege envied and sought after by courtiers; their independence grew by it and their dignity gained by it. The French Academy became an institution, and took its place amongst the glories of France. It had this piece of good fortune, that Cardinal Richelieu died without being able to carry out the project he had conceived. He had intended to open on the site of the horse-market, near Porte St. Honore and behind the Palais-Cardinal, “a great Place which he would have called Ducale in imitation of the Royale, which is at the other end of the city,” says Pellisson; he had placed in the hands of M. de la Mesnardiere, a memorandum drawn up by himself for the plan of a college “which he was meditating for all the noble sciences, and in which he designed to employ all that was most telling for the cause of literature in Europe. He had an idea of making the members of the Academy directors and as it were arbiters of this great establishment, and aspired, with a feeling worthy of the immortality with which he was so much in love, to set up the French Academy there in the most distinguished position in the world, and to offer an honorable and pleasant repose to all persons of that class who had deserved it by their labors.” It was a noble and a liberal idea, worthy of the great mind which had conceived it; but it would have stifled the fertile germ of independence and liberty which he had unconsciously buried in the womb of the French Academy. Pensioned and barracked, the Academicians would have remained men of letters, shut off from society and the world. The Academy grew up alone, favored indeed, but never reduced to servitude; it alone has withstood the cruel shocks which have for so long a time agitated France; in a country where nothing lasts, it has lasted, with its traditions, its primitive statutes, its reminiscences, its respect for the past. It has preserved its courteous and modest dignity, its habits of polite neutrality, the suavity and equality of the relations between its members. It was said just now that Richelieu’s work no longer existed save in history, and that revolutions have left him nothing but his glory; but that was a mistake: the French Academy is still standing, stronger and freer than at its birth, and it was founded by Richelieu, and has never forgotten him.

Amongst the earliest members of the Academy the cardinal had placed his most habitual and most intimate literary servants, Bois-Robert, Desmarets, Colletet, all writers for the theatre, employed by Richelieu in his own dramatic attempts. Theatrical representations were the only pleasure the minister enjoyed, in accord with the public of his day. He had everywhere encouraged this taste, supporting with marked favor Hardy and the Theatre Parisien. With his mind constantly exercised by the wants of the government, he soon sought in the theatre a means of acting upon the masses. He had already foreseen the power of the press; he had laid hands on Doctor Renaudot’s Gazette de France; King Louis XIII. often wrote articles in it; the manuscript exists in the National Library, with some corrections which appear to be Richelieu’s. As for the theatre, the cardinal aspired to try his own hand at the work; his literary labors were nearly all political pieces; his tragedy of Mirame, to which he attached so much value, and which he had represented at such great expense for the opening of his theatre in the Palais-Cardinal, is nothing but one continual allusion, often bold even to insolence, to Buckingham’s feelings towards Anne of Austria. The comedy, in heroic style, of Europe, which appeared in the name of Desmarets, after the cardinal’s death, is a political allegory touching the condition of the world. Francion and Ibere contend together for the favors of Europe, not without, at the same time, paying court to the Princess Austrasia (Lorraine). All the cardinal’s foreign policy, his alliances with Protestants, are there described in verses which do not lack a certain force: Germanique (the emperor) pleads the cause of Ibere with Europe:—

          “No longer can he brook to gaze on such as these,
          Destroyers of the shrines, foes of the Deities,
          By Francion evoked from out the Frozen Main,[1]
          That he might cope with us and equal war maintain.

          O, call not by those names th’ indomitable race,
          Who ‘midst my champions hold honorable place.
          Unlike to us, they own no shrine, no sacrifice;
          But still, unlike Ibere, they use no artifice;
          About the Gods they speak their mind as seemeth best,
          Whilst he, with pious air, still keepeth me opprest;
          Through them I hold mine own, from harm and insult free,
          Their errors I deplore, their valor pleases me.
          What was that noble king,[2] that puissant conqueror,
          Who through thy regions, like a mighty torrent, tore?
          Who marched with giant strides along the path of fame,
          And, in the hour of death, left victory with his name?
          What are those gallant chiefs, who from his ashes rose,
          Whom still, methinks, his shade assists against their foes?

          [1]  The Swedes. [2] Gustavus Adolphus.
          What was that Saxon heart,[1] so full of noble rage,
          He, whom thine own decrees drove from his heritage?
          Who, with his gallant few, full many a deed hath done
          Within thine own domains, and many a laurel won?
          Who, wasting not his strength in strife with granite walls,
          Routs thee in open field, and lo! the fortress falls?
          Who, taking just revenge for loss of all his own,
          Compressed thy boundaries, and cut thy frontiers down.
          How many virtues in that prince’s [2] heart reside
          Who leads yon free-set [3] people’s armies in their pride,
          People who boldly spurned Ibere and all his laws,
          Bravely shook off his yoke and bravely left his cause?
          Francion, without such aid, thou say’st would helpless be;
          What were Ibere without thy provinces and thee?

          But I am of his blood:—own self same Deities.

          All they are of my blood:—gaze on the self-same skies
          Do all your hosts adore the Deities we own?
          Nay, from your very midst come errors widely sown.
          Ibere for chief support on erring men relies
          Yet, what himself may do, to others he denies.
          What!  Francion favor error!  This is idle prate:
          He who from irreligion thoroughly purged the state!
          Who brought the worship back to altars in decay;
           Who built the temples up that in their ashes lay;
          True son of them, who, spite of all thy fathers’ feats,
          Replaced my reverend priests upon their holy seats!
          ‘Twixt Francion and Ibere this difference remains:
          One sets them in their seats, and one in iron chains.”

[1] Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. [2] Prince of Orange. [3] The Hollanders.

Already, in Mirame, Richelieu had celebrated the fall of Rochelle and of the Huguenot party, bringing upon the scene the King of Bithynia, who is taking arms

                         “To tame a rebel slave,
          Perched proudly on his rock washed by the ocean-wave.”

As epigraph to Europe there were these lines:—

          “All friends of France to this my work will friendly be;
          And all unfriends of her will say the author ill;
          Yet shall I be content, say, reader, what you will;
          The joy of some, the rage of others, pleases me.”

The enemies of France did not wait for the comedy, in heroic style, of Europe in order to frequently say ill of Cardinal Richelieu.

Occupied as he was in governing the affairs of France and of Europe otherwise than in verse, the cardinal chose out work-fellows; there were five of them, to whom he gave his ideas and the plan of his piece; he intrusted to each the duty of writing an act, and “by this means finished a comedy a month,” says Pellisson. Thus was composed the comedy of the Tuileries and the Aveugle de Smyrne, which were printed in 1638; Richelieu had likewise taken part in the composition of the Visionnaires of Desmarets, and supported in a rather remarkable scene the rule of the three unities against its detractors. A new comedy, the Grande Pastorale, was in hand. “When he was purposing to publish it,” says the History of the Academy, “he desired M. Chapelain to look over it, and make careful observations upon it. These observations were brought to him by M. de Bois-Robert, and, though they were written with much discretion and respect, they shocked and nettled him to such a degree, either by their number or by the consciousness they caused him of his faults, that, without reading them through, he tore them up. But on the following night, when he was in bed, and all his household asleep, having thought over the anger he had shown, be did a thing incomparably more estimable than the best comedy in the world, that is to say, he listened to reason, for he gave orders to collect and glue together the pieces of that torn paper, and, having read it from one end to the other, and given great thought to it, he sent and awakened M. de Bois-Robert to tell him that he saw quite well that the gentlemen of the Academy were better informed about such matters than he, and that there must be nothing more said about that paper and print.”

The cardinal ended by permitting the liberties taken in literary matters by Chapelain and even Colletet. His courtiers were complimenting him about some success or other obtained by the king’s arms, saying that nothing could withstand his Eminence. “You are mistaken,” he answered, laughing; “and I find even in Paris persons who withstand me. There’s Colletet, who, after having fought with me yesterday over a word, does not give in yet; look at this long letter that he has just written me!” He counted, at any rate, in the number of his five work-fellows one mind too independent to be subservient for long to the ideas and wishes of another, though it were Cardinal Richelieu and the premier minister. In conjunction with Colletet, Bois-Robert, De l’Etoile, and Rotrou, Peter Corneille worked at his Eminence’s tragedies and comedies. He handled according to his fancy the act intrusted to him, with so much freedom that the cardinal was shocked, and said that he lacked, in his opinion, “the follower-spirit” (l’esprit de suite). Corneille did not appeal from this judgment; he quietly took the road to Rouen, leaving henceforth to his four work-fellows the glory of putting into form the ideas of the all-powerful minister; he worked alone, for his own hand, for the glory of France and of the human mind.

Peter Corneille——334

Peter Corneille, born at Rouen on the 6th of June, 1606, in a family of lawyers, had been destined for the bar from his infancy; he was a briefless barrister; his father had purchased him two government posts, but his heart was otherwise set than “on jurisprudence;” in 1635, when he quietly renounced the honor of writing for the cardinal, Corneille had already had several comedies played. He himself said of the first, Melite, which he wrote at three and twenty, “It was my first attempt, and it has no pretence of being according to the rules, for I did not know then that there were any. I had for guide nothing but a little common sense, together with the models of the late Hardy, whose vein was rather fertile than polished.” “The comedies of Corneille had met with success; praised as he was by his competitors in the career of the theatre, he was as yet, in their eyes, but one of the supports of that literary glory which was common to them all. Tranquil in their possession of bad taste, they were far from foreseeing the revolution which was about to overthrow its sway and their own.” [Corneille et son Temps, by M. Guizot.]

Corneille made his first appearance in tragedy, in 1633, with a Medee. “Here are verses which proclaim Corneille,” said Voltaire:—

          “After so many boons, to leave me can he bear?
          After so many sins, to leave me can he dare?”

They proclaimed tragedy; it had appeared at last to Corneille; its features, roughly sketched, were nevertheless recognizable. He was already studying Spanish with an old friend of his family, and was working at the Cid, when he brought out his Illusion Comique, a mediocre piece, Corneille’s last sacrifice to the taste of his day. Towards the end of the year 1636, the Cid was played for the first time at Paris. There was a burst of enthusiasm forthwith. “I wish you were here,” wrote the celebrated comedian Mondory to Balzac, on the 18th of January, 1637, “to enjoy amongst other pleasures that of the beautiful comedies that are being played, and especially a Cid who has charmed all Paris. So beautiful is he that he has smitten with love all the most virtuous ladies, whose passion has many times blazed out in the public theatre. Seated in a body on the benches of the boxes have been seen those who are commonly seen only in gilded chamber and on the seat with the fleurs-de-lis. So great has been the throng at our doors, and our place has turned out so small, that the corners of the theatre, which served at other times as niches for the pageboys, have been given as a favor to blue ribbons, and the scene has been embellished, ordinarily, with the crosses of knights of the order.” “It is difficult,” says Pellisson, “to imagine with what approbation this piece was received by court and people.” It was impossible to tire of seeing it, nothing else was talked of in company; everybody knew some portion by heart; it was taught to children, and in many parts of France it had passed into a proverb to say, “Beautiful as the Cid.” Criticism itself was silenced for a while; carried along in the general twirl, bewildered by its success, the rivals of Corneille appeared to join the throng of his admirers; but they soon recovered their breath, and their first sign of life was an effort of resistance to the torrent which threatened to carry them away; with the exception of Rotrou, who was worthy to comprehend and enjoy Corneille, the revolt was unanimous. The malcontents and the envious had found in Richelieu an eager and a powerful auxiliary.

The Representation of ‘the Cid.’——335

Many attempts have been made to fathom the causes of the cardinal’s animosity to the Cid. It was a Spanish piece, and represented in a favorable light the traditional enemies of France and of Richelieu; it was all in honor of the duel which the cardinal had prosecuted with such rigorous justice; it depicted a king simple, patriarchal, genial in the exercise of his power, contrary to all the views cherished by the minister touching royal majesty; all these reasons might have contributed to his wrath, but there was something more personal and petty in its bitterness. In tacit disdain for the work that had been entrusted to him, Corneille had abandoned Richelieu’s pieces; he had retired to Rouen; far away from the court, he had only his successes to set against the perfidious insinuations of his rivals. The triumph of the Cid seemed to the resentful spirit of a neglected and irritated patron a sort of insult. Therewith was mingled a certain shade of author’s jealousy. Richelieu saw in the fame of Corneille the success of a rebel. Egged on by base and malicious influences, he attempted to crush him as he had crushed the house of Austria and the Huguenots.

The cabal of bad taste enlisted to a man in this new war. Scudery was standard-bearer; astounded that such fantastic beauties should have seduced knowledge as well as ignorance, and the court as well as the cit, and conjuring decent folks to suspend judgment for a while, and not condemn without a hearing Sophonisbe, Cesar, Cleopdtre, Hercule, Marianne, Cleomedon, and so many other illustrious heroes who had charmed them on the stage. Corneille might have been satisfied; his adversaries themselves recognized his great popularity and success.

A singular mixture of haughtiness and timidity, of vigorous imagination and simplicity of judgment! It was by his triumphs that Corneille had become informed of his talents; but, when once aware, he had accepted the conviction thereof as that of those truths which one does not arrive at by one’s self absolutely, without explanation, without modification.

          “I know my worth, and well believe men’s rede of it;
          I have no need of leagues, to make myself admired;
          Few voices may be raised for me, but none is hired;
          To swell th’ applause my just ambition seeks no claque,
          Nor out of holes and corners hunts the hireling pack:
          Upon the boards, quite self-supported, mount my plays,
          And every one is free to censure or to praise;
          There, though no friends expound their views or preach my
          It hath been many a time my lot to win applause;
          There, pleased with the success my modest merit won,
          With brilliant critics’ laws I seek to dazzle none;
          To court and people both I give the same delight,
          Mine only partisans the verses that I write;
          To them alone I owe the credit of my pen,
          To my own self alone the fame I win of men;
          And if, when rivals meet, I claim equality,
          Methinks I do no wrong to whosoe’er it be.”

“Let him rise on the wings of composition,” said La Bruyere, “and he is not below Augustus, Pompey, Nicodemus, Sertorius; he is a king and a great king; he is a politician, he is a philosopher.” Modest and bashful in what concerns himself, when it has nothing to do with his works and his talents, Corneille, who does not disdain to receive a pension from Cardinal Richelieu, or, in writing to Scudery, to call him “your master and mine,” becomes quite another creature when he defends his genius:

          “Leaving full oft the earth, soon as he leaves the goal,
          With lofty flight he soars into the upper air,
          Looks down on envious men, and smiles at their despair.”

The contest was becoming fierce and bitter; much was written for and against the Cid; the public remained faithful to it; the cardinal determined to submit it to the judgment of the Academy, thus exacting from that body an act of complaisance towards himself as well as an act of independence and authority in the teeth of predominant opinion. At his instigation, Scudery wrote to the Academy to make them the judges in the dispute. “The cardinal’s desire was plain to see,” says Pellisson; “but the most judicious amongst that body testified a great deal of repugnance to this design. They said that the Academy, which was only in its cradle, ought not to incur odium by a judgment which might perhaps displease both parties, and which could not fail to cause umbrage to one at least, that is to say, to a great part of France; that they were scarcely tolerated, from the mere fancy which prevailed that they pretended to some authority over the French tongue; what would be the case if they proved to have exercised it in respect of a work which had pleased the majority and won the approbation of the people? M. Corneille did not ask for this judgment, and, by the statutes of the Academy, they could only sit in judgment upon a work with the consent and at the entreaty of the author.” Corneille did not facilitate the task of the Academicians: he excused himself modestly, protesting that such occupation was not worthy of such a body, that a mere piece (un libelle) did not deserve their judgment. . . . “At length, under pressure from M. de Bois-Robert, who gave him pretty plainly to understand what was his master’s desire, this answer slipped from him: ‘The gentlemen of the Academy can do as they please; since you write me word that my Lord would like to see their judgment, and it would divert his Eminence, I have nothing further to say.’”

These expressions were taken as a formal consent, and as the Academy still excused themselves, “Let those gentlemen know,” said the cardinal at last, “that I desire it, and that I shall love them as they love me.”

There was nothing for it but to obey. Whilst Bois-Robert was amusing his master by representing before him a parody of the Cid, played by his lackeys and scullions, the Academy was at work drawing up their Sentiments respecting the Cid.

Thrice submitted to the cardinal, who thrice sent it back with some strong remarks appended, the judgment of the Academicians did not succeed in satisfying the minister. “What was wanted was the complaisance of submission, what was obtained was only that of gratitude.” “I know quite well,” says Pellisson, “that his Eminence would have wished to have the Cid more roughly handled, if he had not been adroitly made to understand that a judge must not speak like a party to a suit, and that in proportion as he showed passion, he would lose authority.”

Balzac, still in retirement at his country-place, made no mistake as to the state of mind either in the Academy or in the world when he wrote to Scudery, who had sent him his Observations sur le Cid, “Reflect, sir, that all France takes sides with M. Corneille, and that there is not one, perhaps, of the judges with whom it is rumored that you have come to an agreement, who has not praised that which you desire him to condemn; so that, though your arguments were incontrovertible and your adversary should acquiesce therein, he would still have the wherewith to give himself glorious consolation for the loss of his case, and be able to tell you that it is something more to have delighted a whole kingdom than to have written a piece according to regulation. This being so, I doubt not that the gentlemen of the Academy will find themselves much hampered in delivering a judgment on your case, and that, on the one hand, your arguments will stagger them, whilst, on the other, the public approbation will keep them in check. You have the best of it in the closet; he has the advantage on the stage. If the Cid be guilty, it is of a crime which has met with reward; if he be punished, it will be after having triumphed; if Plato must banish him from his republic, he must crown him with flowers whilst banishing him, and not treat him worse than he formerly treated Homer.”

The Sentiments de l’Academie at last saw the light in the month of December, 1637, and as Chapelain had foreseen, they did not completely satisfy either the cardinal or Scudery, in spite of the thanks which the latter considered himself bound to express to that body, or Corneille, who testified bitter displeasure. “The Academy proceeds against me with so much violence, and employs so supreme an authority to close my mouth, that all the satisfaction I have is to think that this famous production, at which so many fine intellects have been working for six months, may no doubt be esteemed the opinion of the French Academy, but will probably not be the opinion of the rest of Paris. I wrote the Cid for my diversion and that of decent folks who like Comedy. All the favor that the opinion of the Academy can hope for is to make as much way; at any rate, I have had my account settled before them, and I am not at all sure that they can wait for theirs.”

Corneille did not care to carry his resentment higher than the Academy. At the end of December, 1637, when writing to Bois-Robert a letter of thanks for getting him his pension, which he calls “the liberalities of my Lord,” he adds, “As you advise me not to reply to the Sentiments de l’Academie, seeing what personages are concerned therein, there is no need of interpreters to understand that; I am somewhat more of this world than Heliodorus was, who preferred to lose his bishopric rather than his book; and I prefer my master’s good graces to all the reputations on earth. I shall be mum, then, not from disdain, but from respect.”

The great Corneille made no further defence he had become a servitor again; but the public, less docile, persisted in their opinion.

          “In vain against the Cid a minister makes league;
          All Paris, gazing on Chimene, thinks with Rodrigue;
          In vain to censure her th’ Academy aspires;
          The stubborn populace revolts and still admires;”

said Boileau subsequently.

The dispute was ended, and, in spite of the judgment of the Academy, the cardinal did not come out of it victorious; his anger, however, had ceased: the Duchess of Aiguillon, his niece, accepted the dedication of the Cid; when Horace appeared, in 1639, the dedicatory epistle, addressed to the cardinal, proved that Corneille read his works to him beforehand; the cabal appeared for a while on the point of making head again. “Horace, condemned by the decemvirs, was acquitted by the people,” said Corneille. The same year Cinna came to give the finishing touch to the reputation of the great poet:—

          “To the persecuted Cid the Cinna owed its birth.”

Corneille had withdrawn to the obscurity which suited the simplicity of his habits; the cardinal, it was said, had helped him to get married; he had no longer to defend his works, their fame was amply sufficient. “Henceforth Corneille walks freely by himself and in the strength of his own powers; the circle of his ideas grows larger, his style grows loftier and stronger, together with his thoughts, and purer, perhaps, without his dreaming of it; a more correct, a more precise expression comes to him, evoked by greater clearness in idea, greater fixity of sentiment; genius, with the mastery of means, seeks new outlets. Corneille writes Polyeucte.” [Corneille et son Temps, by M. Guizot.]

It was a second revolution accomplished for the upsetting of received ideas, at a time when paganism was to such an extent master of the theatre that, in the midst of an allegory of the seventeenth century, alluding to Gustavus Adolphus and the wars of religion, Richelieu and Desmarets, in the heroic comedy of Europe, dared not mention the name of God save in the plural. Corneille read his piece at the Hotel Rambouillet. “It was applauded to the extent demanded by propriety and the reputation already achieved by the author,” says Fontenelle; “but some days afterwards, M. de Voiture went to call upon M. Corneille, and took a very delicate way of telling him that Polyeucte had not been so successful as he supposed, that the Christianism had been extremely displeasing.” “The story is,” adds Voltaire, “that all the Hotel Rambouillet, and especially the Bishop of Vence, Godeau, condemned the attempt of Polyeucte to overthrow idols.” Corneille, in alarm, would have withdrawn the piece from the hands of the comedians who were learning it, and he only left it on the assurance of one of the comedians, who did not play in it because he was too bad an actor. Posterity has justified the poor comedian against the Hotel Rambouillet; amongst so many of Corneille’s masterpieces it has ever given a place apart to Polyeucte; neither the Saint-Genest of Rotrou, nor the Zaire of Voltaire, in spite of their various beauties, have dethroned Polyeucte; in fame as well as in date it remains the first of the few pieces in which Christianism appeared, to gain applause, upon the French classic stage.

Corneille at the Hotel Rambouillet—342

Richelieu was no longer there to lay his commands upon the court and upon the world: he was dead, without having been forgiven by Corneille:—

         “Of our great cardinal let men speak as they will,
          By me, in prose or verse, they shall not be withstood;
          He did me too much good for me to say him ill,
          He did me too much ill for me to say him good!”

The great literary movement of the seventeenth century had begun; it had no longer any need of a protector; it was destined to grow up alone during twenty years, amidst troubles at home and wars abroad, to flourish all at once, with incomparable splendor, under the reign and around the throne of Louis XIV. Cardinal Richelieu, however, had the honor of protecting its birth; he had taken personal pleasure in it; he had comprehended its importance and beauty; he had desired to serve it whilst taking the direction of it. Let us end, as we began, with the judgment of La Bruyere: “Compare yourselves, if you dare, with the great Richelieu, you men devoted to fortune, you who say that you know nothing, that you have read nothing, that you will read nothing. Learn that Cardinal Richelieu did know, did read; I say not that he had no estrangement from men of letters, but that he loved them, caressed them, favored them, that he contrived privileges for them, that he appointed pensions for them, that he united them in a celebrated body, and that he made of them the French Academy.”

The Academy, the Sorbonne, the Botanic Gardens (Jardin des Plantes), the King’s Press have endured; the theatre has grown and been enriched by many masterpieces, the press has become the most dreaded of powers; all the new forces that Richelieu created or foresaw have become developed without him, frequently in opposition to him and to the work of his whole life; his name has remained connected with the commencement of all these wonders, beneficial or disastrous, which he had grasped and presaged, in a future happily concealed from his ken.







Louis Xiv.——344

Louis XIII. had never felt confidence in the queen his wife; and Cardinal Richelieu had fostered that sentiment which promoted his views. When M. de Chavigny came, on Anne of Austria’s behalf, to assure the dying king that she had never had any part in the conspiracy of Chalais, or dreamt of espousing Monsieur in case she was left a widow, Louis XIII. answered, “Considering the state I am in, I am bound to forgive her, but not to believe her.” He did not believe her, he never had believed her, and his declaration touching the Regency was entirely directed towards counteracting by anticipation the power intrusted to his wife and his brother. The queen’s regency and the Duke of Orleans’ lieutenant- generalship were in some sort subordinated to a council composed of the Prince of Conde, Cardinal Mazarin, Chancellor Seguier, Superintendent Bouthillier, and Secretary of State Chavigny, “with a prohibition against introducing any change therein, for any cause or on any occasion whatsoever.” The queen and the Duke of Orleans had signed and sworn the declaration.

King Louis XIII. was not yet in his grave when his last wishes were violated; before his death the queen had made terms with the ministers; the course to be followed had been decided. On the 18th of May, 1643, the queen, having brought back the little king to Paris, conducted him in great state to the Parliament of Paris to hold his bed of justice there. The boy sat down and said with a good grace that he had come to the Parliament to testify his good will to it, and that his chancellor would say the rest. The Duke of Orleans then addressed the queen. “The honor of the regency is the due altogether of your Majesty,” said he, “not only in your capacity of mother, but also for your merits and virtues; the regency having been confined to you by the deceased king, and by the consent of all the grandees of the realm, I desire no other part in affairs than that which it may please your Majesty to give me, and I do not claim to take any advantage from the special clauses contained in the declaration.” The Prince of Condo said much the same thing, but with less earnestness, and on the evening of the same day the queen regent, having sole charge of the administration of affairs, and modifying the council at her pleasure, announced to the astounded court that she should retain by her Cardinal Mazarin. Not a word had been said about him at the Parliament; the courtiers believed that he was on the point of leaving France; but the able Italian, attractive as he was subtle, had already found a way to please the queen. She retained as chief of her council the heir to the traditions of Richelieu, and deceived the hopes of the party of Importants, those meddlers of the court at whose head marched the Duke of Beaufort, all puffed up with the confidence lately shown to him by her Majesty. Potier, Bishop of Beauvais, the queen’s confidant during her troubles, “expected to be all-powerful in the state; he sought out the Duke of Orleans and the Prince of Conde, promising them governorships of places, and, generally, anything they might desire. He thought he could set the affairs of state going as easily as he could his parish-priests; but the poor prelate came down from his high hopes when he saw that the cardinal was advancing more and more in the queen’s confidence, and that, for him, too much was already thought to have been done in according him admittance to the council, whilst flattering him with a hope of the purple.” [Memoires de Brienne, ii. 37.]

Cardinal Mazarin soon sent him off to his diocese. Continuing to humor all parties, and displaying foresight and prudence, the new minister was even now master. Louis XIII., without any personal liking, had been faithful to Richelieu to the death; with different feelings, Anne of Austria was to testify the same constancy towards Mazarin.

A stroke of fortune came at the very first to strengthen the regent’s position. Since the death of Cardinal Richelieu, the Spaniards, but recently overwhelmed at the close of 1642, had recovered courage and boldness; new counsels prevailed at the court of Philip IV., who had dismissed Olivarez; the house of Austria vigorously resumed the offensive; at the moment of Louis XIII.‘s death, Don Francisco de Mello, governor of the Low Countries, had just invaded French territory by way of the Ardennes, and laid siege to Rocroi, on the 12th of May. The French army was commanded by the young Duke of Enghien, the Prince of Conde’s son, scarcely twenty-two years old; Louis XIII. had given him as his lieutenant and director the veteran Marshal de l’Hopital; and the latter feared to give battle. The Duke of Enghien, who “was dying with impatience to enter the enemy’s country, resolved to accomplish by address what he could not carry by authority. He opened his heart to Gassion alone. As he was a man who saw nothing but what was easy even in the most dangerous deeds, he had very soon brought matters to the point that the prince desired. Marshal de l’Hopital found himself imperceptibly so near the Spaniards that it was impossible for him any longer to hinder an engagement.” [Relation de 31 de la Houssaye.] The army was in front of Rocroi, and out of the dangerous defile which led to the place, without any idea on the part of the marshal and the army that Louis XIII. was dead. The Duke of Enghien, who had received the news, had kept it secret. He had merely said in the tone of a master “that he meant to fight, and would answer for the issue. His orders given, he passed along the ranks of his army with an air which communicated to it the same impatience that he himself felt to see the night over, in order to begin the battle. He passed the whole of it at the camp-fire of the officers of Picardy.” In the morning “it was necessary to rouse from deep slumber this second Alexander. Mark him as he flies to victory or death! As soon as he had kindled from rank to rank the ardor with which he was animated, he was seen, in almost the same moment, driving in the enemy’s right, supporting ours that wavered, rallying the half-beaten French, putting to flight the victorious Spaniards, striking terror everywhere, and dumbfounding with his flashing looks those who escaped from his blows. There remained that dread infantry of the army of Spain, whose huge battalions, in close order, like so many towers, but towers that could repair their breaches, remained unshaken amidst all the rest of the rout, and delivered their fire on all sides. Thrice the young conqueror tried to break these fearless warriors; thrice he was driven knack by the valiant Count of Fuentes, who was seen carried about in his chair, and, in spite of his infirmities, showing that a warrior’s soul is mistress of the body it animates. But yield they must: in vain through the woods, with his cavalry all fresh, does Beck rush down to fall upon our exhausted men the prince has been beforehand with him; the broken battalions cry for quarter, but the victory is to be more terrible than the fight for the Duke of Enghien. Whilst with easy mien he advances to receive the parole of these brave fellows, they, watchful still, apprehend the surprise of a fresh attack; their terrible volley drives our men mad; there is nothing to be seen but slaughter; the soldier is drunk with blood, till that great prince, who could not bear to see such lions butchered like so many sheep, calmed excited passions, and to the pleasure of victory joined that of mercy. He would willingly have saved the life of the brave Count of Fuentes, but found him lying amidst thousands of the dead whose loss is still felt by Spain. The prince bends the knee, and, on the field of battle, renders thanks to the God of armies for the victory he hath given him. Then were there rejoicings over Rocroi delivered, the threats of a dread enemy converted to their shame, the regency strengthened, France at rest, and a reign, which was to be so noble, commenced with such happy augury.” [Bossuet, Oraison funebre de Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Conde.] Victory or death, below the cross of Burgundy, was borne upon most of the standards taken from the Imperialists; and “indeed,” says the Gazette de France, “the most part were found dead in the ranks where they had been posted.” Which was nobly brought home by one of the prisoners to our captains when, being asked how many there had been of them, he replied, “Count the dead.” Conde was worthy to fight such enemies, and Bossuet to recount their defeat. “The prince was a born captain,” said Cardinal de Retz. And all France said so with him, on hearing of the victory of Rocroi.

The delight was all the keener in the queen’s circle, because the house of Conde openly supported Cardinal Mazarin, bitterly attacked as he was by the Importants, who accused him of reviving the tyranny of Richelieu.

The Great Conde——348

A ditty on the subject was current in the streets of Paris:—

          “He is not dead, he is but changed of age,
          The cardinal, at whom men gird with rage,
          But all his household make thereat great cheer;
          It pleaseth not full many a chevalier
          They fain had brought him to the lowest stage.
          Beneath his wing came all his lineage,
          By the same art whereof he made usage
          And, by my faith, ‘tis still their day, I fear.
                         He is not dead.

          “Hush! we are mum, because we dread the cage
          For he’s at court—this eminent personage
          There to remain of years to come a score.
          Ask those Importants, would you fain know more
          And they will say in dolorous language,
                        ‘He is not dead.’”

And indeed, on pretext offered by a feminine quarrel between the young Duchess of Longueville, daughter of the Prince of Conde, and the Duchess of Montbazon, the Duke of Beaufort and some of his friends resolved to assassinate the cardinal. The attempt was a failure, but the Duke of Beaufort, who was arrested on the 2d of September, was taken to the castle of Vincennes. Madame de Chevreuse, recently returned to court, where she would fain have exacted from the queen the reward for her services and her past sufferings, was sent into exile, as well as the Duke of Vendome. Madame d’Hautefort, but lately summoned by Anne of Austria to be near her, was soon involved in the same disgrace. Proud and compassionate, without any liking for Mazarin, she was daring enough, during a trip to Vincennes, to ask pardon for the Duke of Beaufort. “The queen made no answer, and, the collation being served, Madame d’Hautefort, whose heart was full, ate nothing; when she was asked why, she declared that she could not enjoy anything in such close proximity to that poor boy.” The queen could not put up with reproaches; and she behaved with extreme coldness to Madame d’Hautefort. One day, at bedtime, her ill temper showed itself so plainly, that the old favorite could no longer be in doubt about the queen’s sentiments. As she softly closed the curtains, “I do assure you, Madame,” she said, “that if I had served God with as much attachment and devotion as I have your Majesty all my life, I should be a great saint.” And, raising her eyes to the crucifix, she added, “Thou knowest, Lord, what I have done for her.” The queen let her go to the convent where Mademoiselle de la Fayette had taken refuge ten years before. Madame d’Hautefort left it ere long to become the wife of Marshal Schomberg; but the party of the Importants was dead, and the power of Cardinal Mazarin seemed to be firmly established. “It was not the thing just then for any decent man to be on bad terms with the court,” says Cardinal de Retz.

Negotiations for a general peace, the preliminaries whereof had been signed by King Louis XIII. in 1641, had been going on since 1644 at Munster and at Osnabruck, without having produced any result; the Duke of Enghien, who became Prince of Conde in 1646, was keeping up the war in Flanders and Germany, with the co-operation of Viscount Turenne, younger brother of the Duke of Bouillon, and, since Rocroi, a marshal of France. The capture of Thionville and of Dunkerque, the victories of Friburg and Nordlingen, the skilful opening effected in Germany as far as Augsburg by the French and the Swedes, had raised so high the reputation of the two generals, that the Prince of Conde, who was haughty and ambitious, began to cause great umbrage to Mazarin. Fear of having him unoccupied deterred the cardinal from peace, and made all the harder the conditions he presumed to impose upon the Spaniards. Meanwhile the United Provinces, weary of a war which fettered their commerce, and skilfully courted by their old masters, had just concluded a private treaty with Spain; the emperor was trying, but to no purpose, to detach the Swedes likewise from the French alliance, when the victory of Lens, gained on the 20th of August, 1648, over Archduke Leopold and General Beck, came to throw into the balance the weight of a success as splendid as it was unexpected; one more campaign, and Turenne might be threatening Vienna whilst Conde entered Brussels; the emperor saw there was no help for it, and bent his head. The house of Austria split in two; Spain still refused to treat with France, but the whole of Germany clamored for peace; the conditions of it were at last drawn up at Munster by MM. Servien and de Lionne; M. d’Avaux, the most able diplomatist that France possessed, had been recalled to Paris at the beginning of the year. On the 24th of October, 1648, after four years of negotiation, France at last had secured to her Elsass and the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun; Sweden gained Western Pomerania, including Stettin, the Isle of Rugen, the three mouths of the Oder, and the bishoprics of Bremen and Werden, thus becoming a German power: as for Germany, she had won liberty of conscience and political liberty; the rights of the Lutheran or reformed Protestants were equalized with those of Catholics; henceforth the consent of a free assembly of all the Estates of the empire was necessary to make laws, raise soldiers, impose taxes, and decide peace or war. The peace of Westphalia put an end at one and the same time to the Thirty Years’ War and to the supremacy of the house of Austria in Germany.

So much glory and so many military or diplomatic successes cost dear; France was crushed by imposts, and the finances were discovered to be in utter disorder; the superintendent, D’Emery, an able and experienced man, was so justly discredited that his measures were, as a foregone conclusion, unpopular; an edict laying octroi or tariff on the entry of provisions into the city of Paris irritated the burgesses, and Parliament refused to enregister it. For some time past the Parliament, which had been kept down by the iron hand of Richelieu, had perceived that it had to do with nothing more than an able man, and not a master; it began to hold up its head again; a union was proposed between the four sovereign courts of Paris, to wit, the Parliament, the grand council, the chamber of exchequer, and the court of aids or indirect taxes; the queen quashed the deed of union; the magistrates set her at nought; the queen yielded, authorizing the delegates to deliberate in the chamber of St. Louis at the Palace of Justice; the pretensions of the Parliament were exorbitant, and aimed at nothing short of resuming, in the affairs of the state, the position from which Richelieu had deposed it; the concessions which Cardinal Mazarin with difficulty wrung from the queen augmented the Parliament’s demands. Anne of Austria was beginning to lose patience, when the news of the victory of Lens restored courage to the court. “Parliament will be very sorry,” said the little king, on hearing of the Prince of Conde’s success. The grave assemblage, on the 26th of August, was issuing from Notre Dame, where a Te Deum had just been sung, when Councillor Broussel and President Blancmesnil were arrested in their houses, and taken one to St. Germain and the other to Vincennes. This was a familiar proceeding on the part of royal authority in its disagreements with the Parliament. Anne of Austria herself had practised it four years before.

Arrest of Broussel——352

It was a mistake on the part of Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin not to have considered the different condition of the public mind. A suppressed excitement had for some months been hatching in Paris and in the provinces. “The Parliament growled over the tariff-edict,” says Cardinal de Retz; “and no sooner had it muttered than everybody awoke. People went groping as it were after the laws; they were no longer to be found. Under the influence of this agitation the people entered the sanctuary and lifted the veil that ought always to conceal whatever can be said about the right of peoples and that of kings, which never accord so well as in silence.” The arrest of Broussel, an old man in high esteem, very keen in his opposition to the court, was like fire to flax. “There was a blaze at once, a sensation, a rush, an outcry, and a shutting up of shops.” Paul de Gondi, known afterwards as Cardinal de Retz, was at that time coadjutor of the Archbishop of Paris, his uncle witty, debauched, bold, and restless, lately compromised in the plots of the Count of Soissons against Cardinal Richelieu, he owed his office to the queen, and “did not hesitate,” he says, “to repair to her, that he might stick to his duty above all things.”

Cardinal de Retz——352

There was already a great tumult in the streets when he arrived at the Palais-Royal: the people were shouting, “Broussel! Broussel!” The coadjutor was accompanied by Marshal la Meilleraye; and both of them reported the excitement amongst the people. The queen grew angry. “There is revolt in imagining that there can be revolt,” she said: “these are the ridiculous stories of those who desire it; the king’s authority will soon restore order.” Then, as old M. de Guitaut, who had just come in, supported the coadjutor, and said that he did not understand how anybody could sleep in the state in which things were, the cardinal asked him, with some slight irony, “Well, M. de Guitaut, and what is your advice?” “My advice,” said Guitaut, “is to give up that old rascal of a Broussel, dead or alive.” “The former,” replied the coadjutor, “would not accord with either the queen’s piety or her prudence; the latter might stop the tumult.” At this word the queen blushed, and exclaimed, “I understand you, Mr. Coadjutor; you would have me set Broussel at liberty. I would strangle him with these hands first!” “And, as she finished the last syllable, she put them close to my face,” says De Retz, “adding, ‘And those who . . . ‘ The cardinal advanced and whispered in her ear.” Advices of a more and more threatening character continued to arrive; and, at last, it was resolved to promise that Broussel should be set at liberty, provided that the people dispersed and ceased to demand it tumultuously. The coadjutor was charged to proclaim this concession throughout Paris; he asked for a regular order, but was not listened to. “The queen had retired to her little gray room. Monsignor pushed me very gently with his two hands, saying, ‘Restore the peace of the realm.’ Marshal Meilleraye drew me along, and so I went out with my rochet and camail, bestowing benedictions right and left; but this occupation did not prevent me from making all the reflections suitable to the difficulty in which I found myself. The impetuosity of Marshal Meilleraye did not give me opportunity to weigh my expressions; he advanced sword in hand, shouting with all his might, ‘Hurrah for the king! Liberation for Broussel!’ As he was seen by many more folks than heard him, he provoked with his sword far more people than he appeased with his voice.” The tumult increased; there was a rush to arms on all sides; the coadjutor was felled to the ground by a blow from a stone. He had just picked himself up, when a burgess put his musket to his head. “Though I did not know him a bit,” says Retz, “I thought it would not be well to let him suppose so at such a moment; on the contrary, I said to him, ‘Ah! wretch, if thy father saw thee!’ He thought I was the best friend of his father, on whom, however, I had never set eyes.”

'Ah, Wretch, if Thy Father Saw Thee!’——354

The coadjutor was recognized, and the crowd pressed round him, dragging him to the market-place. He kept repeating everywhere that “the queen promised to restore Broussel.” The flippers laid down their arms, and thirty or forty thousand men accompanied him to the Palais-Royal. “Madame,” said Marshal Meilleraye as he entered, “here is he to whom I owe my life, and your Majesty the safety of the Palais-Royal.” The queen began to smile. “The marshal flew into a passion, and said with an oath, ‘Madame, no proper man can venture to flatter you in the state in which things are; and if you do not this very day set Broussel at liberty, to-morrow there will not be left one stone upon another in Paris.’ I wished to speak in support of what the marshal said, but the queen cut me short, saying, with an air of raillery, ‘Go and rest yourself, sir; you have worked very hard.’”

The coadjutor left the Palais-Royal “in what is called a rage;” and he was in a greater one in the evening, when his friends came and told him that he was being made fun of at the queen’s supper-table; that she was convinced that he had done all he could to increase the tumult; that he would be the first to be made a great example of; and that the Parliament was about to be interdicted. Paul de Gondi had not waited for their information to think of revolt. “I did not reflect as to what I could do,” says he, “for I was quite certain of that; I reflected only as to what I ought to do, and I was perplexed.” The jests and the threats of the court appeared to him to be sufficient justification. “What effectually stopped my scruples was the advantage I imagined I had in distinguishing myself from those of my profession by a state of life in which there was something of all professions. In disorderly times, things lead to a confusion of species, and the vices of an archbishop may, in an infinity of conjunctures, be the virtues of a party leader.” The coadjutor recalled his friends. “We are not in such bad case as you supposed, gentlemen,” he said to them; “there is an intention of crushing the public; it is for me to defend it from oppression; to-morrow before midday I shall be master of Paris.”

For some time past the coadjutor had been laboring to make himself popular in Paris; the general excitement was only waiting to break out, and when the chancellor’s carriage appeared in the streets in the morning, on the way to the Palace of Justice, the people, secretly worked upon during the night, all at once took up arms again. The chancellor had scarcely time to seek refuge in the Hotel de Luynes; the mob rushed in after him, pillaging and destroying the furniture, whilst the chancellor, flying for refuge into a small chamber, and believing his last hour had come, was confessing to his brother, the Bishop of Meaux. He was not discovered, and the crowd moved off in another direction. “It was like a sudden and violent conflagration lighted up from the Pont Neuf over the whole city. Everybody without exception took up arms. Children of five and six years of age were seen dagger in hand; and the mothers themselves carried them. In less than two hours there were in Paris more than two hundred barricades, bordered with flags and all the arms that the League had left entire. Everybody cried, ‘Hurrah! for the king!’ but echo answered, ‘None of your Mazarin!’”

The coadjutor kept himself shut up at home, protesting his powerlessness; the Parliament had met at an early hour; the Palace of Justice was surrounded by an immense crowd, shouting, “Broussel! Broussel!” The Parliament resolved to go in a body and demand of the queen the release of their members arrested the day before. “We set out in full court,” says the premier president Mole, “without sending, as the custom is, to ask the queen to appoint a time, the ushers in front, with their square caps and a-foot: from this spot as far as the Trahoir cross we found the people in arms and barricades thrown up at every hundred paces.” [Memoires de Matthieu Mole, iii. p. 255.]

President Mole——355

“If it were not blasphemy to say that there was any one in our age more intrepid than the great Gustavus and the Prince, I should say it was M. Mole, premier president,” writes Cardinal de Retz. Sincerely devoted to the public weal, and a magistrate to the very bottom of his soul, Mole, nevertheless, inclined towards the side of power, and understood better than his brethren the danger of factions. He represented to the queen the extreme danger the sedition was causing to Paris and to France. “She, who feared nothing because she knew but little, flew into a passion and answered, furiously, ‘I am quite aware that there is disturbance in the city, but you shall answer to me for it, gentlemen of the Parliament, you, your wives, and your children.’” “The queen was pleased,” says Mole, in his dignified language, “to signify in terms of wrath that the magisterial body should be answerable for the evils which might ensue, and which the king on reaching his majority would remember.”

The queen had retired to her room, slamming the door violently; the Parliament turned back to the Palace of Justice; the angry mob thronged about the magistrates; when they arrived at Rue St. Honore, just as they were about to turn on to the Pont Neuf, a band of armed men fell upon them, “and a cookshop-lad, advancing at the head of two hundred men, thrust his halbert against the premier president’s stomach, saying, ‘Turn, traitor, and, if thou wouldst not thyself be slain, give up to us Broussel, or Mazarin and the chancellor as hostages.’” Matthew Mole quietly put the weapon aside, and, “You forget yourself,” he said, “and are oblivious of the respect you owe to my office.” “Thrice an effort was made to thrust me into a private house,” says his account in his Memoires, “but I still kept my place; and, attempts having been made with swords and pistols on all sides of me to make an end of me, God would not permit it, some of the members (Messieurs) and some true friends having placed themselves in front of me. I told President de Mesmes that there was no other plan but to return to the Palais-Royal and thither take back the body, which was much diminished in numbers, five of the presidents having dropped away, and also many of the members on whom the people had inflicted unworthy treatment.” “Thus having given himself time to rally as many as he could of the body, and still preserving the dignity of the magistracy both in his words and in his movements, the premier president returned at a slow pace to the Palais-Royal, amidst a running fire of insults, threats, execrations, and blasphemies.” [Memoires de Retz.]

The whole court had assembled in the gallery: Mole spoke first. “This man,” says Retz, “had a sort of eloquence peculiar to himself. He knew nothing of apostrophes, he was not correct in his language, but he spoke with a force which made up for all that, and he was naturally so bold that he never spoke so well as in the midst of peril. Monsieur made as if he would throw himself on his knees before the queen, who remained inflexible; four or five princesses, who were trembling with fear, did throw themselves at her feet; the Queen of England, who had come that day from St. Germain, represented that the troubles had never been so serious at their commencement in England, nor the feelings so heated or united.” [Histoire du Temps, 1647-48. (Archives curieuses, vi. p. 162.)] At last the cardinal made up his mind; he “had been roughly handled in the queen’s presence by the presidents and councillors in their speeches, some of them telling him, in mockery, that he had only to give himself the trouble of going as far as the Pont Neuf to see for himself the state in which things were,” and he joined with all those present in entreating Anne of Austria; finally, the release of Broussel was extorted from her, “not without a deep sigh, which showed what violence she did her feelings in the struggle.”

“We returned in full court by the same road,” says Matthew Mole, “and the people demanding, with confused clamor of voices, whether M. Broussel were at liberty, we gave them assurances thereof, and entered by the back-door of my lodging; before crossing the threshold, I took leave of Presidents De Mesmes and Le Coigneux, and waited until the members had passed, testifying my sentiments of gratitude for that they had been unwilling to separate until they had seen to the security of my person, which I had not at all deserved, but such was their good pleasure. After this business, which had lasted from six in the morning until seven o’clock, there was need of rest, seeing that the mind had been agitated amidst so many incidents, and not a morsel had been tasted.” [Memoires de Matthieu Mole, t. iii. p. 265.]

Broussel had taken his seat in the Parliament again. The Prince of Conde had just arrived in Paris; he did not like the cardinal, but he was angry with the Parliament, which he considered imprudent and insolent. “They are going ahead,” said he:—“if I were to go ahead with them, I should perhaps do better for my own interests, but my name is Louis de Bourbon, and I do not wish to shake the throne; these devils of squarecaps, are they mad about bringing me either to commence a civil war before long, or to put a rope round their own necks, and place over their heads and over my own an adventurer from Sicily, who will be the ruin of us all in the end? I will let the Parliament plainly see that they are not where they suppose, and that it would not be a hard matter to bring them to reason.” The coadjutor, to whom he thus expressed himself, answered that “the cardinal might possibly be mistaken in his measures, and that Paris would be a hard nut to crack.” Whereupon the prince rejoined, angrily, “It will not be taken, like Dunkerque, by mining and assaults, but if the bread of Gonesse were to fail them for a week . . .” The coadjutor took the rest as said. Some days afterwards, during the night between the 5th and 6th of January, 1649, the queen, with the little king and the whole court, set out at four A. M. from Paris for the castle of St. Germain, empty, unfurnished, as was then the custom in the king’s absence, where the courtiers had great difficulty in finding a bundle of straw. “The queen had scarcely a bed to lie upon,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier, “but never did I see any creature so gay as she was that day; had she won a battle, taken Paris, and had all who had displeased her hanged, she could not have been more so, and nevertheless she was very far from all that.”

Paris was left to the malcontents; everybody was singing,

               “A Fronde-ly wind
                Got up to-day,
               ‘Gainst Mazarin
                It howls, they say.”

On the 8th of January the Parliament of Paris, all the chambers in assembly, issued a decree whereby Cardinal Mazarin was declared an enemy to the king and the state, and a disturber of the public peace, and injunctions were laid upon all subjects of the king to hunt him down; war was declared.

Scarcely had it begun, when the greatest lords came flocking to the popular side. On the departure of the court for St. Germain, the Duchess of Longueville had remained in Paris; her husband and her brother the Prince of Conti were not slow in coming to look after her; and already the Duke of Elbeuf, of the house of Lorraine, had offered his services to the Parliament. Levies of troops were beginning in the city, and the command of the forces was offered to the Prince of Conti; the Dukes of Bouillon and Beaufort and Marshal de la Mothe likewise embraced the party of revolt; the Duchesses of Longueville and Bouillon established themselves with their children at the Hotel de Ville as hostages given by the Fronde of princes to the Fronde of the people; the Parliaments of Aix and Rouen made common cause with that of Paris; a decree ordered the seizure, in all the exchequers of the kingdom, of the royal moneys, in order that they might be employed for the general defence. Every evening Paris wore a festive air; there was dancing at the Hotel de Ville, and the gentlemen who had been skirmishing during the day around the walls came for recreation in the society of the princesses. “This commingling of blue scarfs, of ladies, of cuirasses, of violins in the hall, and of trumpets in the square, offered a spectacle which is oftener seen in romances than elsewhere.” [Memoires du Cardinal de Retz, t. i.] Affairs of gallantry were mixed up with the most serious resolves; Madame de Longueville was of the Fronde because she was in love with M. de Marsillac (afterwards Duke of La Rochefoucauld), and he was on bad terms with Cardinal Mazarin.

Meanwhile war was rumbling round Paris; the post of Charenton, fortified by the Frondeurs, had been carried by the Prince of Conde at the head of the king’s troops; the Parliament was beginning to perceive its mistake, and desired to have peace again, but the great lords engaged in the contest aspired to turn it to account; they had already caused the gates of Paris to be closed against a herald sent by the queen to recall her subjects to their duty; they were awaiting the army of Germany, commanded by M. de Turenne, whom his brother, the Duke of Bouillon, had drawn into his culpable enterprise; nay, more, they had begun to negotiate with Spain, and they brought up to the Parliament a pretended envoy from Archduke Leopold, but the court refused to receive him. “What! sir,” said President de Mesmes, turning to the Prince of Conti, “is it possible that a prince of the blood of France should propose to give a seat upon the fleurs-de-lis to a deputy from the most cruel enemy of the fleurs-de-lis?”

The Parliament sent a deputation to the queen, and conferences were opened at Ruel on the 4th of March; the great lords of the Fronde took no part in it; “they contented themselves with having at St. Germain low-voiced (a basses notes)—secret agents,” says Madame de Motteville, “commissioned to negotiate in their favor.” Paris was beginning to lack bread; it was festival-time, and want began to make itself felt; a “complaint of the Carnival” was current amongst the people:—

               “In my extreme affliction, yet
               I can this consolation get,
               That, at his hands, my enemy,
               Old Lent, will fare the same as I:
               That, at the times when people eat,
               We both shall equal worship meet.
               Thus, joining with the whole of France
               In war against him a outrance,
               Grim Lent and festive Carnival,
               Will fight against the cardinal.”

It was against the cardinal, in fact, that all attacks were directed, but the queen remained immovable in her fidelity. “I should be afraid,” she said to Madame de Motteville, “that, if I were to let him fall, the same thing would happen to me that happened to the King of England (Charles I. had just been executed), and that, after he had been driven out, my turn would come.” Grain had found its way into Paris during the truce; and when, on the 13th of March, the premier president, Molt, and the other negotiators, returned to Paris, bringing the peace which they had signed at Ruel, they were greeted with furious shouts: “None of your peace! None of your Mazarin! We must go to St. Germain to seek our good king! We must fling into the river all the Mazarins!” A rioter had just laid his hand on the premier president’s arm. “When you have killed me,” said the latter, calmly, “I shall only want six feet of earth;” and, when he was advised to get back into his house by way of the record-offices, “The court never hides itself,” he said; “if I were certain to perish, I would not commit this poltroonery, which, moreover, would but serve to give courage to the rioters. They would, of course, come after me to my house if they thought that I shrank from them here.” The deputies of the Parliament were sent back to Ruel, taking a statement of the claims of the great lords: “according to their memorials, they demanded the whole of France.” [Memoires de Madame de Motteville, t. iii. p. 247.]

Whilst Paris was in disorder, and the agitation, through its example, was spreading over almost the whole of France, M. de Turenne, obliged to fly from his army, was taking refuge, he and five others, with the landgrave of Hesse; his troops had refused to follow him in revolt; the last hope of the Frondeurs was slipping from them.

They found themselves obliged to accept peace, not without obtaining some favors from the court.

There was a general amnesty; and the Parliament preserved all its rights. “The king will have the honor of it, and we the profit,” said Guy-Patin. The great lords reappeared one after another at St. Germain. “It is the way of our nation to return to their duty with the same airiness with which they depart from it, and to pass in a single instant from rebellion to obedience.” [La Rochefoucauld.] The return to rebellion was not to be long delayed. The queen had gone back to Paris, and the Prince of Conde with her; he, proud of having beaten the parliamentary Fronde, affected the conqueror’s airs, and the throng of his courtiers, the “petits maitres,” as they were called, spoke very slightingly of the cardinal. Conde, reconciled with the Duchess of Longueville, his sister, and his brother, the Prince of Conti, assumed to have the lion’s share in the government, and claimed all the favors for himself or his friends; the Fondeurs made skilful use of the ill-humor which this conduct excited in Cardinal Mazarin; the minister responded to their advances; the coadjutor was secretly summoned to the Louvre; the dowager Princess of Conde felt some apprehensions; but, “What have I to fear?” her son said to her; “the cardinal is my friend.” “I doubt it,” she answered. “You are wrong; I rely upon him as much as upon you.” “Please God you may not be mistaken!” replied the princess, who was setting out for the Palais-Royal to see the queen, said to be indisposed that day.

Anne of Austria was upon her bed; word was brought to her that the council was waiting; this was the moment agreed upon; she dismissed the princess, shut herself up in her oratory with the little king, to whom she gave an account of what was going to be done for his service; then, making him kneel down, she joined him in praying to God for the success of this great enterprise. As the Prince of Conde arrived in the grand gallery, he saw Guitaut, captain of the guards, coming towards him; at the same instant, through a door at the bottom, out went the cardinal, taking with him Abbe de la Riviere, who was the usual confidant of the Duke of Orleans, but from whom his master had concealed the great secret. The prince suppposed that Guitaut was coming to ask him some favor; the captain of the guards said in his ear, “My lord, what I want to say is, that I have orders to arrest you, you, the Prince of Conti your brother, and M. de Longueville.” “Me, M. Guitaut, arrest me?” Then, reflecting for a moment, “In God’s name,” he said, “go back to the queen and tell her that I entreat her to let me have speech of her!” Guitaut went to her, whilst the prince, returning to those who were waiting for him, said, “Gentlemen, the queen orders my arrest, and yours too, brother, and yours too, M. de Longueville; I confess that I am astonished, I who have always served the king so well, and believed myself secure of the cardinal’s friendship.” The chancellor, who was not in the secret, declared that it was Guitaut’s pleasantry. “Go and seek the queen then,” said the prince, “and tell her of the pleasantry that is going on; as for me, I hold it to be very certain that I am arrested.” The chancellor went out, and did not return. M. Servien, who had gone to speak to the cardinal, likewise did not appear again. M. de Guitaut entered alone. “The queen cannot see you, my lord,” he said. “Very well; I am content; let us obey,” answered the prince: “but whither are you going to take us? I pray you let it be to a warm place.” “We are going to the wood of Vincennes, my lord,” said Guitaut. The prince turned to the company and took his leave without uneasiness and with the calmest countenance: as he was embracing M. de Brienne, secretary of state, he said to him, “Sir, as I have often received from you marks of your friendship and generosity, I flatter myself that you will some day tell the king the services I have rendered him.” The princes went out; and, as they descended the staircase, Conde leaned towards Comminges, who commanded the detachment of guards, saying, “Comminges, you are a man of honor and a gentleman; have I anything to fear?” Comminges assured him he had not, and that the orders were merely to escort him to the wood of Vincennes. The carriage upset on the way; as soon as it was righted, Comminges ordered the driver to urge on his horses. The prince burst out laughing. “Don’t be afraid, Comminges,” he said; “there is nobody to come to my assistance; I swear to you that I had not taken any precautions against this trip.” On arriving at the castle of Vincennes, there were no beds to be found, and the three princes passed the night playing at cards; the Princess of Conde and the dowager princess received orders to retire to their estates; the Duchess of Longueville, fearing with good cause that she would be arrested, had taken with all speed the road to Normandy, whither she went and took refuge at Dieppe, in her husband’s government.

The state-stroke had succeeded; Mazarin’s skill and prudence once more check-mated all the intrigues concocted against him; when the news was told to Chavigny, in spite of all his reasons for bearing malice against the cardinal, who had driven him from the council and kept him for some time in prison, he exclaimed, “That is a great misfortune for the prince and his friends; but the truth must be told: the cardinal has done quite right; without it he would have been ruined.” The contest was begun between Mazarin and the great Conde, and it was not with the prince that the victory was to remain.

Already hostilities were commencing; Mazarin had done everything for the Frondeurs who remained faithful to him, but the house of Conde was rallying all its partisans; the Dukes of Bouillon and La Rochefoucauld had thrown themselves into Bordeaux, which was in revolt against the royal authority, represented by the Duke of Epernon. The Princess of Conde and her young son left Chantilly to join them; Madame de Longueville occupied Stenay, a strong place belonging to the Prince of Conde: she had there found Turenne; on the other hand, the queen had just been through Normandy; all the towns had opened their gates to her; it was just the same in Burgundy; the Princess of Conde’s able agent, Lenet, could not obtain a declaration from the Parliament of Dijon in her favor. Bordeaux was the focus of the insurrection; the people, passionately devoted to “the dukes,” as the saying was, were forcing the hand of the Parliament; riots were frequent in the town; the little king, with the queen and the cardinal, marched in person upon Bordeaux; one of the faubourgs was attacked, the dukes negotiated and obtained a general amnesty, but no mention was made of the princes’ release.

The Parliament of Paris took the matter up. The premier president spoke in so bitter a tone of the unhappy policy of the minister, that the little king, feeling hurt, told his mother that, if he had thought it would not displease her, he would have made the premier president hold his tongue, and would have dismissed him. On the 30th of January, Anne of Austria sent word to the Parliament that she would consent to grant the release of the princes, “provided that the armaments of Stenay and of M. de Turenne might be discontinued.” But it was too late; the Duke of Orleans had made a treaty with the princes. England served as pretext. Mazarin compared the Parliament to the House of Commons, and the coadjutor to Cromwell. Monsieur took the matter up for his friends, and was angry. He openly declared that he would not set foot again in the Palais-Royal as long as he was liable to meet the cardinal there, and joined the Parliament in demanding the removal of Mazarin. The queen replied that nobody had a right to interfere in the choice of ministers. By way of answer, the Parliament laid injunctions upon all the officers of the crown to obey none but the Duke of Orleans, lieutenant general of the kingdom. A meeting of the noblesse, at a tumultuous assembly in the house of the Duke of Nemours, expressed themselves in the same sense. It was the 6th of February, 1651: during the night, Cardinal Mazarin set out for St. Germain; a rumor spread in Paris that the queen was preparing to follow him with the king; a rush was made to the Palais-Royal: the king was in his bed. Next day, Anne of Austria complained to the Parliament. “The prince is at liberty,” said the premier president, “and the king, the king our master, is a prisoner.” “Monsieur, who felt no fear,” says Retz, “because he had been more cheered in the streets and the hall of the palace than he had ever been,” answered with vivacity, “The king was a prisoner in the hands of Mazarin; but, thank God, he is not any longer.” The premier president was right; the king was a prisoner to the Parisians; patrols of burgesses were moving incessantly round the Palais-Royal; one night the queen was obliged to let the people into her chamber; the king was asleep; and two officers of the town-guard watched for some hours at his pillow. The yoke of Richelieu and the omnipotence of Mazarin were less hard for royalty to bear than the capricious and jealous tyranny of the populace.

The cardinal saw that he was beaten; he made up his mind, and, anticipating the queen’s officers, he hurried to Le Havre to release the prisoners himself; he entered the castle alone, the governor having refused entrance to the guards who attended him. “The prince told me,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier, “that, when they were dining together, Cardinal Mazarin was not so much in the humor to laugh as he himself was, and that he was very much embarrassed. Liberty to be gone had more charms for the prince than the cardinal’s company. He said that he felt marvellous delight at finding himself outside Le Havre, with his sword at his side; and he might well be pleased to wear it; he is a pretty good hand at using it. As he went out he turned to the cardinal and said, ‘Farewell, Cardinal Mazarin,’ who kissed ‘the tip of sleeve’ to him.”

The cardinal had slowly taken the road to exile, summoning to him his nieces, Mdlles. Mancini and Martinozzi, whom he had, a short time since, sent for to court; he crossed from Normandy into Picardy, made some stay at Doullens, and, impelled by his enemies’ hatred, he finally crossed the frontier on the 12th of March. The Parliament had just issued orders for his arrest in any part of France. On the 6th of April, he fixed his quarters at Bruhl, a little town belonging to the electorate of Cologne, in the same territory which had but lately sheltered the last days of Mary de’ Medici.

The Frondeurs, old and new, had gained the day; but even now there was disorder in their camp. Conde had returned to the court “like a raging lion, seeking to devour everybody, and, in revenge for his imprisonment, to set fire to the four corners of the realm.” [Memoires de Montglat.] After a moment’s reconciliation with the queen, be began to show himself more and more haughty towards her in his demands every day; he required the dismissal of the ministers Le Tellier, Servien, and Lionne, all three creatures of the cardinal and in correspondence with him at Bruhl; as Anne of Austria refused, the prince retired to St. Maur; he was already in negotiation with Spain, being inveigled into treason by the influence of his sister, Madame de Longueville, who would not leave the Duke of La Rochefoucauld or return into Normandy to her husband. Fatal results of a guilty passion which enlisted against his country the arms of the hero of Rocroi! When he returned to Paris, the queen had, in fact, dismissed her ministers, but she had formed a fresh alliance with the coadjutor, and, on the 17th of August, in the presence of an assembly convoked for that purpose at the Palais-Royal, she openly denounced the intrigues of the prince with Spain, accusing him of being in correspondence with the archduke. Next day Conde brought the matter before the Parliament. The coadjutor quite expected the struggle, and had brought supporters; the queen had sent some soldiers; the prince arrived with a numerous attendance. On entering, he said to the company, that he could not sufficiently express his astonishment at the condition in which he found the palace, which seemed to him more like a camp than a temple of justice, and that it was not merely that there could be found in the kingdom people insolent enough to presume to dispute (superiority) the pavement (disputer le pave) with him. “I made him a deep obeisance,” says Retz, “and said that, I very humbly begged his Highness to pardon me if I told him that I did not believe that there was anybody in the kingdom insolent enough to dispute the wall (le haut du pave) with him, but I was persuaded that there were some who could not and ought not, for their dignity’s sake, to yield the pavement (quitter le pave) to any but the king. The prince replied that he would make me yield it. I said that that would not be easy.” The dispute grew warm; the presidents flung themselves between the disputants; Conde yielded to their entreaties, and begged the Duke of La Rochefoucauld to go and tell his friends to withdraw. The coadjutor went out to make the same request to his friends. “When he would have returned into the usher’s little court,” writes Mdlle. de Montpensier, “he met at the door the Duke of La Rochefoucauld, who shut it in his face, just keeping it ajar to see who accompanied the coadjutor; he, seeing the door ajar, gave it a good push, but he could not pass quite through, and remained as it were jammed between the two folds, unable to get in or out. The Duke of La Rochefoucauld had fastened the door with an iron catch, keeping it so to prevent its opening any wider. The coadjutor was ‘in an ugly position, for he could not help fearing lest a dagger should pop out and take his life from behind. A complaint was made to the grand chamber, and Champlatreux, son of the premier president, went out, and, by his authority, had the door opened, in spite of the Duke of La Rochefoucauld.” The coadjutor protested, and the Duke of Brissac, his relative, threatened the Duke of La Rochefoucauld; whereupon the latter said that, if he had them outside, he would strangle them both; to which the coadjutor replied, “My dear La Franchise (the duke’s nickname), do not act the bully; you are a poltroon and I am a priest; we shall not do one another much harm.” There was no fighting, and the Parliament, supported by the Duke of Orleans, obtained from the queen a declaration of the innocence of the Prince of Conde, and at the same time a formal disavowal of Mazarin’s policy, and a promise never to recall him. Anne of Austria yielded everything; the king’s majority was approaching, and she flattered herself that under cover of his name she would be able to withdraw the concessions which she felt obliged to make as regent. Her declaration, nevertheless, deeply wounded Mazarin, who was still taking refuge at Bruhl, whence he wrote incessantly to the queen, who did not neglect his counsels. “Ten times I have taken up my pen to write to you,” he said on the 26th of September, 1651 [Lettres du Cardinal Mazarin a la Reine, pp. 292, 293], “but could not, and I am so beside myself at the mortal wound I have just received, that I am not sure whether anything I could say to you would have rhyme or reason. The king and the queen, by an authentic deed, have declared me a traitor, a public robber, an incapable, and an enemy to the repose of Christendom, after I had served them with so many signs of my devotion to the advancement of peace: it is no longer a question of property, repose, or whatever else there may be of the sort. I demand the honor which has been taken from me, and that I be let alone, renouncing very heartily the cardinalate and the benefices, whereof I send in my resignation joyfully, consenting willingly to have given up to France twenty-three years of the best of my life, all my pains and my little of wealth, and merely to withdraw with the honor which I had when I began to serve her.” The persistent hopes of the adroit Italian appeared once more in the postscript of the letter: “I had forgotten to tell you that it was not the way to set me right in the eyes of the people to impress upon their mind that I am the cause of all the evils they suffer, and of all the disorders of the realm, in such sort that my ministry will be held in horror forever.”

Conde did not permit himself to be caught by the queen’s declarations: of all the princes he alone was missing at the ceremony of the bed of justice whereat the youthful Louis XIV., when entering his fourteenth year, announced, on the 7th of September, to his people that, according the laws of his realm, he “intended himself to assume the government, hoping of God’s goodness that it would be with piety and justice.” The prince had retired to Chantilly, on the pretext that the new minister, the president of the council, Chateauneuf, and the keeper of the seals, Matthew Mole, were not friends of his. The Duchess of Longueville at last carried the day; Conde was resolved upon civil war. “You would have it,” he said to his sister on repelling the envoy, who had followed him to Bourges, from the queen and the Duke of Orleans; “remember that I draw the sword in spite of myself, but I will be the last to sheathe it.” And he kept his word.

A great disappointment awaited the rebels; they had counted upon the Duke of Bouillon and M. de Turenne, but neither of them would join the faction. The relations between the two great generals had not been without rubs; Turenne had, moreover, felt some remorse because he, being a general in the king’s army, had but lately declared against the court, “doing thereby a deed at which Le Balafro and Admiral de Coligny would have hesitated,” says Cardinal de Retz. The two brothers went, before long, and offered their services to the queen.

Meanwhile Conde had arrived at Bordeaux: a part of Guienne, Saintonge, and Porigord had declared in his favor; Count d’Harcourt, at the head of the royal troops, marched against La Rochelle, which he took from the revolters under the very beard of the prince, who had come from Bordeaux to the assistance of the place, whilst the king and the queen, resolutely quitting Paris, advanced from town to town as far as Poitiers, keeping the centre of France to its allegiance by their mere presence. The treaty of the Prince of Conde with Spain was concluded: eight Spanish vessels, having money and troops on board, entered the Gironde. Conde delivered over to them the castle and harbor of Talmont. The queen had commissioned the cardinal to raise levies in Germany, and he had already entered the country of Liege, embodying troops and forming alliances. On the 17th of November, Anne of Austria finally wrote to Mazarin to return to the king’s assistance. In the presence of Conde’s rebellion she had no more appearances to keep up with anybody; and it was already in the master’s tone that Mazarin wrote to the queen, on the 30th of October, to put her on her guard against the Duke of Orleans: “The power committed to his Royal Highness and the neutrality permitted to him, being as he is wholly devoted to the prince, surrounded by his partisans, and adhering blindly to their counsels, are matters highly prejudicial to the king’s service, and, for my part, I do not see how one can be a servant of the king’s, with ever so little judgment and knowledge of affairs, and yet dispute these truths. The queen, then, must bide her time to remedy all this.”

The cardinal’s penetration had not deceived him; the Duke of Orleans was working away in Paris, where the queen had been obliged to leave him, on the Prince of Conde’s side. The Parliament had assembled to enregister against the princes the proclamation of high treason despatched from Bourges by the court; Gaston demanded that it should be sent back, threatened as they were, he said, with a still greater danger than the rebellion of the princes in the return of Mazarin, who was even now advancing to the frontier; but the premier president took no notice, and put the proclamation to the vote in these words “It is a great misfortune when princes of the blood give occasion for such proclamations, but this is a common and ordinary misfortune in the kingdom, and, for five or six centuries past, it may be said that they have been the scourges of the people and the enemies of the monarchy.” The decree passed by a hundred votes to forty.

On the 24th of December, the cardinal crossed the frontier with a large body of troops, and was received at Sedan by Lieutenant General Fabert, faithful to his fortunes even in exile. The Parliament was furious, and voted, almost unanimously, that the cardinal and his adherents were guilty of high treason; ordering the communes to hound him down, and promising, from the proceeds of his furniture and library which were about to be sold, a sum of five hundred thousand livres to whoever should take him dead or alive. At once began the sale of the magnificent library which the cardinal had liberally opened to the public. The dispersion of the books was happily stopped in time to still leave a nucleus for the Mazarin Library.

Meanwhile Mazarin had not allowed himself to be frightened by parliamentary decrees or by dread of assassins. Re-entering France with six thousand men, he forced the passage of Pontsur-Yonne, in spite of the two councillors of the Parliaments who were commissioned to have him arrested; the Duke of Beaufort, at the head of Monsieur’s troops, did not even attempt to impede his march; and, on the 28th of January, the cardinal entered Poitiers, at once resuming his place beside the king, who had come to meet him a league from the town. The court took leisurely the road to Paris.

The coadjutor had received the price of his services in the royal cause; he was a cardinal “sooner,” said he, “than Mazarias would have had him;” and so the new prince of the church considered himself released from any gratitude to the court, and sought to form a third party, at the head of which was to be placed the Duke of Orleans as nominal head. Monsieur, harried by intrigues in all directions, remained in a state of inaction, and made a pretension of keeping Paris neutral; his daughter, Mdlle. de Montpensier, who detested Anne of Austria and Mazarin, and would have liked to marry the king, had boldly taken the side of the princes; the court had just arrived at Blois, on the 27th of March, 1652; the keeper of the seals, Mole, presented himself in front of Orleans to summon the town to open its gates to the king; at that very moment arrived Mdlle., the great Mdlle., as she was then called; and she claimed possession of Orleans in her father’s name. “It was the appanage of Monsieur; but the gates were shut and barricaded. After they had been told that it was I,” writes Mdlle., “they did not open; and I was there three hours. The governor sent me some sweetmeats, and what appeared to me rather funny was that he gave me to understand that he had no influence. At the window of the sentry-box was the Marquis d’Halluys, who watched me walking up and down by the fosse. The rampart was fringed with people who shouted incessantly, ‘Hurrah for the king! hurrah for the princes! None of your Mazarin!’ I could not help calling out to them, ‘Go to the Hotel de Ville and get the gate opened to me!’ The captain made signs that he had not the keys. I said to him, ‘It must be burst open, and you owe me more allegiance than to the gentlemen of the town, seeing that I am your master’s daughter.’ The boatmen offered to break open for me a gate which was close by there. I told them to make haste, and I mounted upon a pretty high mound of earth overlooking that gate. I thought but little about any nice way of getting thither; I climbed like a cat; I held on to briers and thorns, and I leapt all the hedges without hurting myself at all; two boats were brought up to serve me for a bridge, and in the second was placed a ladder by which I mounted. The gate was burst at last. Two planks had been forced out of the middle; signs were made to me to advance; and as there was a great deal of mud, a footman took me up, carried me along, and put me through this hole, through which I had no sooner passed my head than the drums began beating. I gave my hand to the captain, and said to him, ‘You will be very glad that you can boast of having managed to get me in.’”

The Great Mademoiselle——373

The keeper of the seals was obliged to return to Blois, and Mdlle. kept Orleans, but without being able to effect an entrance for the troops of the Dukes of Nemours and Beaufort, who had just tried a surprise against the court. Had it not been for the aid of Turenne, who had defended the bridge of Jargeau, the king might have fallen into the hands of his revolted subjects. The queen rested at Gien whilst the princes went on as far as Montargis, thus cutting off the communications of the court with Paris. Turenne was preparing to fall upon his incapable adversaries when the situation suddenly changed: the, Prince of Conde, weary of the bad state of his affairs in Guienne, where the veteran soldiers of the Count of Harcourt had the advantage everywhere over the new levies, had traversed France in disguise, and forming a junction, on the 1st of April, with the Dukes of Nemours and Beaufort, threw himself upon the quarters of Marshal d’Hocquincourt, defeated him, burned his camp, and drove him back to Bleneau; a rapid march on the part of Turenne, coming to the aid of his colleague, forced Conde to fall back upon Chatillon; on the 11th of April he was in Paris.

The princes had relied upon the irritation caused by the return of Mazarin to draw Paris into the revolt, but they were only half successful; the Parliament would scarcely give Conde admittance; President de Bailleul, who occupied the chair in the absence of Mole, declared that the body always considered it an honor to see the prince in their midst, but that they would have preferred not to see him there in the state in which he was at the time, with his hands still bloody from the defeat of the king’s troops. Amelot, premier president of the Court of Aids, said to the prince’s face, “that it was a matter of astonishment, after many battles delivered or sustained against his Majesty’s troops, to see him not only returning to Paris without having obtained letters of amnesty, but still appearing amongst the sovereign bodies as if he gloried in the spoils of his Majesty’s subjects, and causing the drum to be beaten for levying troops, to be paid by money coming from Spain, in the capital of the realm, the most loyal city possessed by the king.” The city of Paris resolved not to make “common cause or furnish money to assist the princes against the king under pretext of its being against Mazarin.” The populace alone were favorable to the princes’ party.

Meanwhile Turenne had easy work with the secondary generals remaining at the head of the factious army; by his able manoeuvres he had covered the march of the court, which established itself at St. Germain.

Conde assembled his forces encamped around Paris: he intended to fortify himself at the confluence of the Seine and the Marne, hoping to be supported by the little army which had just been brought up by Duke Charles of Lorraine, as capricious and adventurous as ever. Turenne and the main body of his troops barred the passage. Conde threw himself back upon Faubourg St. Antoine, and there intrenched himself, at the outlet of the three principal streets which abutted upon Porte St. Antoine (now Place do la Bastille). Turenne had meant to wait for re-enforcements and artillery, but the whole court had flocked upon the heights of Charonne to see the fight; pressure was put upon him, and the marshal gave the word to attack. The army of the Fronde fought with fury. “I did not see a Prince of Conde,” Turenne used to say; “I saw more than a dozen.” The king’s soldiers had entered the houses, thus turning the barricades; Marshal Ferte had just arrived with the artillery, and was sweeping Rue St. Antoine. The princes’ army was about to be driven back to the foot of the walls of Paris, when the cannon of the Bastille, replying all on a sudden to the volleys of the royal troops, came like a thunderbolt on M. de Turenne; the Porte St. Antoine opened, and the Parisians, under arms, fringing the streets, protected the return of the rebel army. Mdlle. de Montpensier had taken the command of the city of Paris.

For a week past the Duke of Orleans had been ill, or pretended to be; he refused to give any order. When the prince began his movement, on the 2d of July, early, he sent to beg Mdlle. not to desert him. “I ran to the Luxembourg,” she says, “and I found Monsieur at the top of the stairs. ‘I thought I should find you in bed,’ said I; ‘Count Fiesque told me that you didn’t feel well.’ He answered, ‘I am not ill enough for that, but enough not to go out.’ I begged him to ride out to the aid of the prince, or, at any rate, to go to bed and assume to be ill; but I could get nothing from him. I went so far as to say, ‘Short of having a treaty with the court in your pocket, I cannot understand how you can take things so easily; but can you really have one to sacrifice the prince to Cardinal Mazarin?’ He made no reply: all I said lasted quite an hour, during which every friend we had might have been killed, and the prince as well as another, without anybody’s caring; nay, there were people of Monsieur’s in high spirits, hoping that the prince would perish; they were friends of Cardinal de Retz. At last Monsieur gave me a letter for the gentlemen of the Hotel, leaving it to me to tell them his intention. I was there in a moment, assuring those present that, if ill luck would have it that the enemy should beat the prince, no more quarter would be shown to Paris than to the men who bore arms. Marshal de l’Hopital, governor of Paris for the king, said to me, ‘You are aware, Mdlle., that if your troops had not approached this city, those of the king would not have come thither, and that they only came to drive them away.’ Madame de Nemours did not like this, and began to argue the point. I broke off their altercation. ‘Consider, sir, that, whilst time is being wasted in discussing useless matters, the prince is in danger in your faubourgs.’” She carried with her the aid of the Duke of Orleans’ troops, and immediately moved forwards, meeting everywhere on her road her friends wounded or dying. “When I was near the gate, I went into the house of an exchequer-master (maitre des comptes). As soon as I was there, the prince came thither to see me; he was in a pitiable state; he had two fingers’ breadth of dust on his face, and his hair all matted; his collar and his shirt were covered with blood, although he was not wounded; his breastplate was riddled all over; and he held his sword bare in his hand, having lost the scabbard. He said to me, ‘You see a man in despair; I have lost all my friends; MM. de Nemours, de la Rochefoucauld, and Clinchamps are wounded to death.’ I consoled him a little by telling him that they were in better case than he supposed. Then I went off to the Bastille, where I made them load the cannon which was trained right upon the city; and I gave orders to fire as soon as I had gone. I went thence to the Porte St. Antoine. The soldiers shouted, ‘Let us do something that will astonish them; our retreat is secure; here is Mdlle. at the gate, and she will have it opened for us, if we are hard pressed.’ The prince gave orders to march back into the city; he seemed to me quite different from what he had been early in the day, though he had not changed at all; he paid me a thousand compliments and thanks for the great service he considered that I had rendered him. I said to him, ‘I have a favor to ask of you: that is, not to say anything to Monsieur about the laches he has displayed towards you.’ At this very moment up came Monsieur, who embraced the prince with as gay an air as if he had not left him at all in the lurch. The prince confessed that he had never been in so dangerous a position.”

The fight at Porte St. Antoine had not sufficiently compromised the Parisians, who began to demand peace at any price. The mob, devoted to the princes, set themselves to insult in the street all those who did not wear in their hats a tuft of straw, the rallying sign of the faction. On the 4th of July, at the general assembly of the city, when the king’s attorney-general proposed to conjure his Majesty to return to Paris without Cardinal Mazarin, the princes, who demanded the union of the Parisians with themselves, rose up and went out, leaving the assembly to the tender mercies of the crowd assembled on the Place de Greve. “Down on the Mazarins!” was the cry; “there are none but Mazarins any longer at the Hotel de Ville!” Fire was applied to the doors defended by the archers; all the outlets were guarded by men beside themselves; more than thirty burgesses of note were massacred; many died of their wounds, the Hotel de Ville was pillaged, Marshal de l’Hopital escaped with great difficulty, and the provost of tradesmen yielded up his office to Councillor Broussel. Terror reigned in Paris: it was necessary to drag the magistrates to the Palace of Justice to decree, on the 19th of July, by seventy-four votes against sixty-nine, that the Duke of Orleans should be appointed “lieutenant-general of the kingdom, and the Prince of Conde commandant of all the armies.” The usurpation of the royal authority was flagrant, the city-assembly voted subsidies, and Paris wrote to all the good towns of France to announce to them her resolution. Chancellor Seguier had the poltroonery to accept the presidency of the council, offered him by the Duke of Orleans; he thus avenged himself for the preference the, queen had but lately shown for Mole by confiding the seals to him. At the same time the Spaniards were entering France; for all the strong places were dismantled or disgarrisoned. The king, obliged to confront civil war, had abandoned his frontiers; Gravelines had fallen on the 18th of May, and the arch-duke had undertaken the siege of Dunkerque. At Conde’s instance, he detached a body of troops, which he sent, under the orders of Count Fuendalsagna, to join the Duke of Lorraine, who had again approached Paris. Everywhere the fortune of arms appeared to be against the king. “This year we lost Barcelona, Catalonia, and Casale, the key of Italy,” says Cardinal de Retz. “We saw Brisach in revolt, on the point of falling once more into the hands of the house of Austria. We saw the flags and standards of Spain fluttering on the Pont Neuf, the yellow scarfs of Lorraine appeared in Paris as freely as the isabels and the blues.” Dissension, ambition, and poltroonery were delivering France over to the foreigner.

The evil passions of men, under the control of God, help sometimes to destroy and sometimes to preserve them. The interests of the Spaniards and of the Prince of Conde were not identical. He desired to become the master of France, and to command in the king’s name; the enemy were laboring to humiliate France and to prolong the war indefinitely: The arch-duke recalled Count Fuendalsagna to Dunkerque; and Turenne, withstanding the terrors of the court, which would fain have fled first into Normandy and then to Lyons, prevailed upon the queen to establish herself at Pontoise, whilst the army occupied Compiegne. At every point cutting off the passage of the Duke of Lorraine, who had been re-enforced by a body of Spaniards, Turenne held the enemy in check for three weeks, and prevented them from marching on Paris. All parties began to tire of hostilities.

Cardinal Mazarin took his line, and loudly demanded of the king permission to withdraw, in order, by his departure, to restore peace to the kingdom. The queen refused. “There is no consideration shown,” she said, “for my son’s honor and my own; we will not suffer him to go away.” But the cardinal insisted. Prudent and far-sighted as he was, he knew that to depart was the only way of remaining. He departed on the 19th of August, but without leaving the frontier: he took up his quarters at Bouillon. The queen had summoned the Parliament to her at Pontoise. A small number of magistrates responded to her summons, enough, however, to give the queen the right to proclaim rebellious the Parliament remaining at Paris. Chancellor Seguier made his escape, in order to go and rejoin the court. Nobody really believed in the cardinal’s withdrawal; men are fond of yielding to appearances in order to excuse in their own eyes a change in their own purposes. Disorder went on increasing in Paris; the great lords, in their discontent, were quarrelling one with another; the Prince of Conde struck M. de Rieux, who returned the blow; the Duke of Nemours was killed in a duel by M. de Beaufort; the burgesses were growing weary of so much anarchy; a public display of feeling in favor of peace took place on the 24th of September in the garden of the Palais-Royal; those present stuck in their hats pieces of white paper in opposition to the Frondeurs’ tufts of straw. People fought in the streets on behalf of these tokens. For some weeks past Cardinal de Retz had remained inactive, and his friends pressed him to move. “You see quite well,” they said, “that Mazarin is but a sort of jack-in-the-box, out of sight to-day and popping up to-morrow; but you also see that, whether he be in or out, the spring that sends him up or down is that of the royal authority, the which will not, apparently, be so very soon broken by the means taken to break it. The obligation you are under towards Monsieur, and even towards the public, as regards Mazarin, does not allow you to work for his restoration; he is no longer here, and, though his absence may be nothing but a mockery and a delusion, it nevertheless gives you an opportunity for taking certain steps which naturally lead to that which is for your good.” Retz lost no time in going to Compiegne, where the king had installed himself after Mazarin’s departure; he took with him a deputation of the clergy, and received in due form the cardinal’s hat. He was the bearer of proposals for an accommodation from the Duke of Orleans, but the queen cut him short. The court perceived its strength, and the instructions of Cardinal Mazarin were precise. The ruin of De Retz was from that moment resolved upon.

The Prince of Conde was ill; he had left the command of his troops to M. do Tavannes; during the night between the 5th and 6th of October, Turenne struck his camp at Villeneuve St. Georges, crossed the Seine at Corbeil, the Marne at Meaux, without its being in the enemy’s power to stop him, and established himself in the neighborhood of Dammartin. Conde was furious. “Tavannes and Vallon ought to wear bridles,” he said; “they are asses;” he left his house, and placed himself once more at the head of his army, at first following after Turenne, and soon to sever himself completely from that Paris which was slipping away from him. “He would find himself more at home at the head of four squadrons in the Ardennes than commanding a dozen millions of such fellows as we have here, without excepting President Charton,” said the Duke of Orleans. “The prince was wasting away with sheer disgust; he was so weary of hearing all the talk about Parliament, court of aids, chambers in assembly, and Hotel de Ville, that he would often declare that his grandfather had never been more fatigued by the parsons of La Rochelle.” The great Conde was athirst for the thrilling emotions of war; and the crime he committed was to indulge at any price that boundless passion. Ever victorious at the head of French armies, he was about to make experience of defeat in the service of the foreigner.

The king had proclaimed a general amnesty on the 18th of October; and on the 21st he set out in state for Paris. The Duke of Orleans still wavered. “You wanted peace,” said Madame, “when it depended but on you to make war; you now want war when you can make neither war nor peace. It is of no use to think any longer of anything but going with a good grace to meet the king.” At these words he exclaimed aloud, as if it had been proposed to him to go and throw himself in the river. “And where the devil should I go?” he answered. He remained at the Luxembourg. On drawing near Paris, the king sent word to his uncle that he would have to leave the city. Gaston replied in the following letter:—

     “MONSEIGNEUR: Having understood from my cousin the Duke of Danville
     and from Sieur d’Aligre, the respect that your Majesty would have me
     pay you, I most humbly beseech your Majesty to allow me to assure
     you by these lines that I do not propose to remain in Paris longer
     than till to-morrow; and that I will go my way to my house at
     Limours, having no more passionate desire than to testify by my
     perfect obedience that I am, with submission,

     “Your most humble and most obedient servant and subject,

The Duke of Orleans retired before long to his castle at Blois, where he died in 1660; deserted, towards the end of his life, by all the friends he had successively abandoned and betrayed. “He had, with the exception of courage, all that was necessary to make an honorable man,” says Cardinal de Retz, “but weakness was predominant in his heart through fear, and in his mind through irresolution; it disfigured the whole course of his life. He engaged in everything because he had not strength to resist those who drew him on, and he always came out disgracefully, because he had not the courage to support them.” He was a prey to fear, fear of his friends as well as of his enemies.

The Fronde was all over, that of the gentry of the long robe as well as that of the gentry of the sword. The Parliament of Paris was once more falling in the state to the rank which had been assigned to it by Richelieu, and from which it had wanted to emerge by a supreme effort. The attempt had been the same in France as in England, however different had been the success. It was the same yearnings of patriotism and freedom, the same desire on the part of the country to take an active part in its own government, which had inspired the opposition of the Parliament of England to the despotism of Charles I., and the opposition of the French Parliaments to Richelieu as well as to Mazarin. It was England’s good fortune to have but one Parliament of politicians, instead of ten Parliaments of magistrates, the latter more fit for the theory than the practice of public affairs; and the Reformation had, beforehand, accustomed its people to discussion as well as to liberty. Its great lords and its gentlemen placed themselves from the first at the head of the national movement, demanding nothing and expecting nothing for themselves from the advantages they claimed for their country. The remnant of the feudal system had succumbed with the Duke of Montmorency under Richelieu; France knew not the way to profit by the elements of courage, disinterestedness, and patriotism offered her by her magistracy; she had the misfortune to be delivered over to noisy factions of princes and great lords, ambitious or envious, greedy of honors and riches, as ready to fight the court as to be on terms with it, and thinking far more of their own personal interests than of the public service. Without any unity of action or aim, and by turns excited and dismayed by the examples that came to them from England, the Frondeurs had to guide them no Hampden or Cromwell; they had at their backs neither people nor army; the English had been able to accomplish a revolution; the Fronde failed before the dexterous prudence of Mazarin and the queen’s fidelity to her minister. In vain did the coadjutor aspire to take his place; Anne of Austria had not forgotten the Earl of Strafford.—Cardinal de Retz learned before long the hollowness of his hopes. On the 19th of December, 1652, as he was repairing to the Louvre, he was arrested by M. de Villequier, captain of the guards on duty, and taken the same evening to the Bois de Vincennes; there was a great display of force in the street and around the carriage; but nobody moved, “whether it were,” says Retz, “that the dejection of the people was too great, or that those who were well-inclined towards me lost courage on seeing nobody at their head.” People were tired of raising barricades and hounding down the king’s soldiers.

“I was taken into a large room where there were neither hangings nor bed; that which was brought in about eleven o’clock at night was of Chinese taffeta, not at all the thing for winter furniture. I slept very well, which must not be attributed to stout-heartedness, because misfortune has naturally that effect upon me. I have on more than one occasion discovered that it wakes me in the morning and sends me to sleep at night. I was obliged to get up the next day without a fire, because there was no wood to make one, and the three exons who had been posted near me had the kindness to assure me that I should not be without it the next day. He who remained alone on guard over me took it for himself, and I was a whole fortnight, at Christmas, in a room as big as a church, without warming myself. I do not believe that there could be found under heaven another man like this exon. He stole my linen, my clothes, my boots, and I was sometimes obliged to stay in bed eight or ten days for lack of anything to put on. I could not believe that I was subjected to such treatment without orders from some superior, and without some mad notion of making me die of vexation. I fortified myself against that notion, and I resolved at any rate not to die that kind of death. At last I got him into the habit of not tormenting me any more, by dint of letting him see that I did not torment myself at all. In point of fact I had risen pretty nearly superior to all these ruses, for which I had a supreme contempt; but I could not assume the same loftiness of spirit in respect of the prison’s entity (substance), if one may use the term, and the sight of myself, every morning when I awoke, in the hands of my enemies made me perceive that I was anything rather than a stoic.” The Archbishop of Paris had just died, and the dignity passed to his coadjutor; as the price of his release, Mazarin demanded his resignation. The clergy of Paris were highly indignant; Cardinal de Retz was removed to the castle of Nantes, whence he managed to make his escape in August, 1653; for nine years he lived abroad, in Spain, Italy, and Germany, everywhere mingling in the affairs of Europe, engaged in intrigue, and not without influence; when at last he returned to France, in 1662, he resigned the archbishopric of Paris, and established himself in the principality of Commercy, which belonged to him, occupied up to the day of his death in paying his debts, doing good to his friends and servants, writing his memoirs, and making his peace with God. This was in those days a solicitude which never left the most worldly: the Prince of Conti had died very devout, and Madame de Longueville had just expired at the Carmelites’, after twenty-five years’ penance, when Cardinal de Retz died on the 24th of August, 1679. At the time of his arrest, it was a common saying of the people in the street that together with “Cardinal de Retz it would have been a very good thing to imprison Cardinal Mazarin as well, in order to teach them of the clergy not to meddle for the future in the things of this world.” Language which was unjust to the grand government of Cardinal Richelieu, unjust even to Cardinal Mazarin. The latter was returning with greater power than ever at the moment when Cardinal de Retz, losing forever the hope of supplanting him in power, was beginning that life of imprisonment and exile which was ultimately to give him time to put retirement and repentance between himself and death.

Cardinal Mazarin had once more entered France, but he had not returned to Paris. The Prince of Conde, soured by the ill-success of the Fronde and demented by illimitable pride, had not been ashamed to accept the title of generalissimo of the Spanish armies; Turenne had succeeded in hurling him back into Luxembourg, and it was in front of Bar, besieged, that Mazarin, with a body of four thousand men, joined the French army; Bar was taken, and the campaign of 1652, disastrous at nearly every point, had just finished with this success, when the cardinal re-entered Paris at the end of January, 1653. Six months later, at the end of July, the insurrection in Guienne was becoming extinguished by a series of private conventions; the king’s armies were entering Bordeaux; the revolted princes received their pardon, waiting, meanwhile, for the Prince of Conti to marry, as he did next year, Mdlle. Martinozzi, one of Mazarin’s nieces; Madame de Longueville retired to Moulin’s into the convent where her aunt, Madame de Montmorency, had for the last twenty years been mourning for her husband; Conde was the only rebel left, more dangerous, for France, than all the hostile armies he commanded. Cardinal Mazarin was henceforth all-powerful; whatever may have been the nature of the ties which united him to the queen, he had proved their fidelity and strength too fully to always avoid the temptation of adopting the tone of a master; the young king’s confidence in his minister, who had brought him up, equalled that of his mother; the merits as well as the faults of Mazarin were accordingly free to crop out: he was neither vindictive nor cruel towards even his most inveterate enemies, whom he could not manage, as Richelieu did, to confound with those of the state; the excesses of the factions had sufficed to destroy them. “Time is an able fellow,” the cardinal would frequently say; if people often complained of being badly compensated for their services, Mazarin could excuse himself on the ground of the deplorable, condition of the finances. He nevertheless feathered his own nest inordinately, taking care, however, not to rob the people, it was said. He confined himself to selling everything at a profit to himself, even the offices of the royal household, without making, as Richelieu had made, any “advance out of his own money to the state, when there was none in the treasury.” The power had been honestly won, if the fortune were of a doubtful kind. M. Mignet has said with his manly precision of language, “Amidst those unreasonable disturbances which upset for a while the judgment of the great Turenne, which, in the case of the great Conde, turned the sword of Rocroi against France, and which led Cardinal Retz to make so poor a use of his talent, there was but one firm will, and that was Anne of Austria’s; but one man of good sense, and that was Mazarin.” [Introduction aux Negotiations pour la Succession d’Espagne.]

From 1653 to 1657, Turenne, seconded by Marshal La Ferte and sometimes by Cardinal Mazarin in person, constantly kept the Spaniards and the Prince of Conde in check, recovering the places but lately taken from France and relieving the besieged towns; without ever engaging in pitched battles, he almost always had the advantage. Mazarin resolved to strike a decisive blow. It was now three years since, after long negotiations, the cardinal had concluded with Cromwell, Protector of the Commonwealth of England, a treaty of peace and commerce, the prelude and first fruits of a closer alliance which the able minister of Anne of Austria had not ceased to wish for and pave the way for. On the 23d of March, 1657, the parleys ended at last in a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive; it was concluded at Paris between France and England. Cromwell promised that a body of six thousand English, supported by a fleet prepared to victual and aid them along the coasts, should go and join the French army, twenty thousand strong, to make war on the Spanish Low Countries, and especially to besiege the three forts of Gravelines, Mardyk, and Dunkerque, the last of which was to be placed in the hands of the English and remain in their possession. Six weeks after the conclusion of the treaty, the English troops disembarked at Boulogne; they were regiments formed and trained in the long struggles of the civil war, drilled to the most perfect discipline, of austere manners, and of resolute and stern courage; the king came in person to receive them on their arrival; Mardyk was soon taken and placed as pledge in the hands of the English. Cromwell sent two fresh regiments for the siege of Dunkerque. In the spring of 1658, Turenne invested the place. Louis XIV. and Mazarin went to Calais to be present at this great enterprise.

“At Brussels,” says M. Guizot in his Histoire de la Republique d’Angleterre et de Cromwell, “neither Don Juan nor the Marquis of Carracena would believe that Dunkerque was in danger; being at the same time indolent and proud, they disdained the counsel, at one time of vigilant activity and at another of prudent reserve, which was constantly given them by Conde; they would not have anybody come and rouse them during their siesta if any unforeseen incident occurred, nor allow any doubt of their success when once they were up and on horseback. They hurried away to the defence of Dunkerque, leaving behind them their artillery and a portion of their cavalry. Conde, conjured them to intrench themselves whilst awaiting them; Don Juan, on the contrary, was for advancing on to the dunes and marching to meet the French army. ‘You don’t reflect,’ said Conde ‘that ground is fit only for infantry, and that of the French is more numerous and has seen more service.’ ‘I am persuaded,’ replied Don Juan, ‘that they will not ever dare to look His Most Catholic Majesty’s army in the face.’ ‘Ah! you don’t know M. de Turenne; no mistake is made with impunity in the presence of such a man as that.’ Don Juan persisted, and, in fact, made his way on to the ‘dunes.’ Next day, the 13th of June, Conde, more and more convinced of the danger, made fresh efforts to make him retire. ‘Retire!’ cried Don Juan: ‘if the French dare fight, this will be the finest day that ever shone on the arms of His Most Catholic Majesty.’ ‘Very fine, certainly,’ answered Conde, ‘if you give orders to retire.’ Turenne put an end to this disagreement in the enemy’s camp. Having made up his mind to give battle on the 14th, at daybreak, he sent word to the English general, Lockhart, by one of his officers who wanted at the same time to explain the commander-in-chief’s plan and his grounds for it. ‘All right,’ answered Lockhart: ‘I leave it to M. de Turenne; he shall tell me his reasons after the battle, if he likes.’ A striking contrast between the manly discipline of English good sense and the silly blindness of Spanish pride. Conde was not mistaken: the issue of a battle begun under such auspices could not be doubtful. ‘My lord,’ said he to the young Duke of Gloucester, who was serving in the Spanish army by the side of his brother, the Duke of York, ‘did you ever see a battle?’ ‘No, prince.’ ‘Well, then, you are going to see one lost.’ The battle of the Dunes was, in fact, totally lost by the Spaniards, after four hours’ very hard fighting, during which the English regiments carried bravely, and with heavy losses, the most difficult and the best defended position; all the officers of Lockhart’s regiment, except two, were killed or wounded before the end of the day; the Spanish army retired in disorder, leaving four thousand prisoners in the hands of the conqueror. ‘The enemy came to meet us,’ wrote Turenne, in the evening, to his wife; ‘they were beaten, God be praised! I have worked rather hard all day; I wish you good night, and am going to bed.’ Ten days afterwards, on the 23d of June, 1658, the garrison of Dunkerque was exhausted; the aged governor, the Marquis of Leyden, had been mortally wounded in a sortie; the place surrendered, and, the next day but one, Louis XIV. entered it, but merely to hand it over at once to the English. ‘Though the court and the army are in despair at the notion of letting go what he calls a rather nice morsel,’ wrote Lockhart, the day before, to Secretary Thurloe, ‘nevertheless the cardinal is staunch to his promises, and seems as well satisfied at giving up this place to his Highness as I am to take it. The king, also, is extremely polite and obliging, and he has in his soul more honesty than I had supposed.’”

The surrender of Dunkerque was soon followed by that of Gravelines and several other towns; the great blow against the Spanish arms had been struck; negotiations were beginning; tranquillity reigned everywhere in France; the Parliament had caused no talk since the 20th of March, 1655, when, they having refused to enregister certain financial edicts, for want of liberty of suffrage, the king, setting out from the castle of Vincennes, “had arrived early at the Palace of Justice, in scarlet jacket and gray hat, attended by all his court in the same costume, as if he were going to hunt the stag, which was unwonted up to that day. When he was in his bed of justice, he prohibited the Parliament from assembling, and, after having said a word or two, he rose and went out, without listening to any address.” [Memoires de Montglat, t. ii.] The sovereign courts had learned to improve upon the old maxim of Matthew Mole: “I am going to court; I shall tell the truth; after which the king must be obeyed.” Not a tongue wagged, and obedience at length was rendered to Cardinal Mazarin as it had but lately been to Cardinal Richelieu.

The court was taking its diversion. “There were plenty of fine comedies and ballets going on. The king, who danced very well, liked them extremely,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier, at that time exiled from Paris; “all this did not affect me at all; I thought that I should see enough of it on my return; but my ladies were different, and nothing could equal their vexation at not being in all these gayeties.” It was still worse when announcement was made of the arrival of Queen Christina of Sweden, that celebrated princess, who had reigned from the time she was six years old, and had lately abdicated, in 1654, in favor of her cousin, Charles Gustavus, in order to regain her liberty, she said, but perhaps, also, because she found herself confronted by the ever-increasing opposition of the grandees of her kingdom, hostile to the foreign fashions favored by the queen, as well as to the design that was attributed to her of becoming converted to Catholicism. When Christina arrived at Paris, in 1656, she had already accomplished her abjuration at Brussels, without assigning her motives for it to anybody. “Those who talk of them know nothing about them,” she would say; “and she who knows something about them has never talked of them.” There was great curiosity at Paris to see this queen. The king sent the Duke of Guise to meet her, and he wrote to one of his friends as follows:

“She is not tall, she has a good arm, a hand white and well made, but rather a man’s than a woman’s, a high shoulder,—a defect which she so well conceals by the singularity of her dress, her walk, and her gestures, that you might make a bet about it. Her face is large without being defective, all her features are the same and strongly marked, a pretty tolerable turn of countenance, set off by a very singular head-dress; that is, a man’s wig, very big, and very much raised in front; the top of the head is a tissue of hair, and the back has something of a woman’s style of head-dress. Sometimes she also wears a hat; her bodice, laced behind, crosswise, is made something like our doublets, her chemise bulging out all round her petticoat, which she wears rather badly fastened and not over straight. She is always very much powdered, with a good deal of pomade, and almost never puts on gloves. She has, at the very least, as much swagger and haughtiness as the great Gustavus, her father, can have had; she is mighty civil and coaxing, speaks eight languages, and principally French, as if she had been born in Paris. She knows as much about it as all our Academy and the Sorbonne put together, has an admirable knowledge of painting as well as of everything else, and knows all the intrigues of our court better than I. In fact, she is quite an extraordinary person.” “The king, though very timid at that time,” says Madame de Motteville, “and not at all well informed, got on so well with this bold, well-informed, and haughty princess, that, from the first moment, they associated together with much freedom and pleasure on both sides. It was difficult, when you had once had a good opportunity of seeing her, and above all of listening to her, not to forgive all her irregularities, though some of them were highly blamable.” All the court and all Paris made a great fuss about this queen, who insisted upon going everywhere, even to the French Academy, where no woman had ever been admitted. Patru thus relates to one of his friends the story of her visit: “No notice was given until about eight or nine in the morning of this princess’s purpose, so that some of our body could not receive information in time. M. de Gombault came without having been advertised; but, as soon as he knew of the queen’s purpose, he went away again, for thou must know that he is wroth with her because, he having written some verses in which he praised the great Gustavus, she did not write to him, she who, as thou knowest, has written to a hundred impertinent apes. I might complain, with far more reason; but, so long as kings, queens, princes, and princesses do me only that sort of harm, I shall never complain. The chancellor [Seguier, at whose house the Academy met] had forgotten to have the portrait of this princess, which she had given to the society, placed in the room; which, in my opinion, ought not to have been forgotten. Word was brought that the carriage was entering the court-yard. The chancellor, followed by the whole body, went to receive the princess. . . . As soon as she entered the room, she went off-hand, according to her habit, and sat down in her chair; and, at the same moment, without any order given us, we also sat down. The princess, seeing that we were at some little distance from the table, told us that we could draw up close to it. There was some little drawing up, but not as if it were a dinner-party. . . . Several pieces were read; and then the director, who was M. de la Chambre, told the queen that the ordinary exercise of the society was to work at the Dictionary, and that, if it were agreeable to her Majesty, a sheet should be read. ‘By all means,’ said she. M. de Mezeray, accordingly, read the word Jeux, under which, amongst other proverbial expressions, there was, ‘Jeux de princes, qui ne plaisent qu’a ceux qui les font.’ (Princes’ jokes, which amuse only those who make them.) She burst out laughing. The word, which was in fair copy, was finished. It would have been better to read a word which had to be weeded, because then we should all have spoken; but people were taken by surprise—the French always are. . . . After about an hour, the princess rose, made a courtesy to the company, and went away as she had come. Here is really what passed at this famous interview, which, no doubt, does great honor to the Academy.—The Duke of Anjou talks of coming to it, and the zealous are quite transported with this bit of glory.” [OEuvres diverses de Patru, t. ii. p. 512.]

Queen Christina returned the next year and passed some time at Fontainebleau. It was there, in a gallery that King Louis Philippe caused to be turned into apartments, which M. Guizot at one time occupied, that she had her first equerry, Monaldeschi, whom she accused of having betrayed her, assassinated almost before her own eyes; and she considered it astonishing, and very bad taste, that the court of France should be shocked at such an execution. “This barbarous princess,” says Madame de Motteville, “after so cruel an action as that, remained in her room laughing and chatting as easily as if she had done something of no consequence or very praiseworthy. The queen-mother, a perfect Christian, who had met with so many enemies whom she might have punished, but who had received from her nothing but marks of kindness, was scandalized by it. The king and Monsieur blamed her, and the minister, who was not a cruel man, was astounded.”

The queen-mother had other reasons for being less satisfied than she had been at the first trip of Queen Christina of Sweden. The young king testified much inclination for Mary de Mancini, Cardinal Mazarin’s niece, a bold and impassioned creature, whose sister Olympia had already found favor in his eyes before her marriage with the Count of Soissons. The eldest of all had married the Duke of Mercoeur, son of the Duke of Vendome; the other two were destined to be united, at a later period, to the Dukes of Bouillon and La Meilleraye; the hopes of Mary went still higher; relying on the love of young Louis XIV., she dared to dream of the throne; and the Queen of Sweden encouraged her. “The right thing is to marry one’s love,” she told the king. No time was lost in letting Christina understand that she could not remain long in France: the cardinal, “with a moderation for which he cannot be sufficiently commended,” says Madame de Motteville, “himself put obstacles in the way of his niece’s ambitious designs; he sent her to the convent of Brouage, threatening, if that exile were not sufficient, to leave France and take his niece with him.”

“No power,” he said to the king, “can wrest from me the free authority of disposal which God and the laws give me over my family.” “You are king; you weep; and yet I am going away!” said the young girl to her royal lover, who let her go. Mary de Mancini was mistaken; he was not yet King.

Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin——394

Cardinal Mazarin and the queen had other views regarding the marriage of Louis XIV.; for a long time past the object of their labors had been to terminate the war by an alliance with Spain. The Infanta, Maria Theresa, was no longer heiress to the crown, for King Philip at last had a son; Spain was exhausted by long-continued efforts, and dismayed by the checks received in the, campaign of 1658; the alliance of the Rhine, recently concluded at Frankfurt between the two leagues, Catholic and Protestant, confirmed immutably the advantages which the treaty of Westphalia had secured to France. The electors had just raised to the head of the empire young Leopold I., on the death of his father, Ferdinand III., and they proposed their mediation between France and Spain. Whilst King Philip IV. was still hesitating, Mazarin took a step in another direction; the king set out for Lyons, accompanied by his mother and his minister, to go and see Princess Margaret of Savoy, who had been proposed to him a long time ago as his wife. He was pleased with her, and negotiations were already pretty far advanced, to the great displeasure of the queen-mother, when the cardinal, on the 29th of November, 1659, in the evening, entered Anne of Austria’s room. “He found her pensive and melancholy, but he was all smiles. ‘Good news, madam,’ said he. ‘Ah!’ cried the queen, ‘is it to be peace?’ ‘More than that, Madame; I bring your Majesty both peace and the Infanta.’” The Spaniards had become uneasy; and Don Antonio de Pimentel had arrived at Lyons at the same time with the court of Savoy, bearing a letter from Philip IV. for the queen his sister. The Duchess of Savoy had to depart and take her daughter with her, disappointed of her hopes; all the consolation she obtained was a written promise that the king would marry Princess Margaret, if the marriage with the Infanta were not accomplished within a year.

The year had not yet rolled away, and the Duchess of Savoy had already lost every atom of illusion. Since the 13th of August, Cardinal Mazarin had been officially negotiating with Don Louis de Haro, representing Philip IV. The ministers had held a meeting in the middle of the Bidassoa, on the Island of Pheasants, where a pavilion had been erected on the boundary-line between the two states. On the 7th of November the peace of the Pyrenees was signed at last; it put an end to a war which had continued for twenty-three years, often internecine, always burdensome, and which had ruined the finances of the two countries. France was the gainer of Artois and Roussillon, and of several places in Flanders, Hainault, and Luxembourg; and the peace of Westphalia was recognized by Spain, to whom France restored all that she held in Catalonia and in Franche-Comte. Philip IV. had refused to include Portugal in the treaty. The Infanta received as dowry five hundred thousand gold crowns, and renounced all her rights to the throne of Spain; the Prince of Conde was taken back to favor by the king, and declared that he would fain redeem with his blood all the hostilities he had committed in and out of France. The king restored him to all his honors and dignities, gave him the government of Burgundy, and bestowed on his son, the Duke of Enghien, the office of Grand Master of France. The honor of the King of Spain was saved, he did not abandon his allies, and he made a great match for his daughter. But the eyes of Europe were not blinded; it was France that triumphed; the policy of Cardinal Richelieu and of Cardinal Mazarin was everywhere successful. The work of Henry IV. was completed, the house of Austria was humiliated and vanquished in both its branches; the man who had concluded the peace of Westphalia and the peace of the Pyrenees had a right to say, “I am more French in heart than in speech.”

The Prince of Conde returned to court, “as if he had never gone away,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier. [Memoires, t. iii. p. 451.] “The king talked familiarly with him of all that he had done both in France and in Flanders, and that with as much gusto as if all those things had taken place for his service.” “The prince discovered him to be so great in every point that, from the first moment at which he could approach him, he comprehended, as it appeared, that the time had come to humble himself. That genius for sovereignty and command which God had implanted in the king, and which was beginning to show itself, persuaded the Prince of Conde that all which remained of the previous reign was about to be annihilated.” [Memoires de Madame de Motteville, t. v. p. 39.] From that day King Louis XIV. had no more submissive subject than the great Conde.

The court was in the South, travelling from town to town, pending the arrival of the dispensations from Rome. On the 3d of June, 1660, Don Louis de Haro, in the name of the King of France, espoused the Infanta in the church of Fontfrabia. Mdlle. de Montpensier made up her mind to be present, unknown to anybody, at the ceremony. When it was over, the new queen, knowing that the king’s cousin was there, went up to her, saying, “I should like to embrace this fair unknown,” and led her away to her room, chatting about everything, but pretending not to know her. The queen-mother and King Philip IV. met next day, on the Island of Pheasants, after forty-five years’ separation. The king had come privately to have a view of the Infanta, and he watched her, through a door ajar, towering a whole head above the courtiers. “May I, ask my niece what she thinks of this unknown?” said Anne of Austria to her brother. “It will be time when she has passed that door,” replied the king. Young Monsieur, the king’s brother, leaned forward towards his sister-in-law, and, “What does your Majesty think of this door?” he whispered. “I think it very nice and handsome,” answered the young queen. The king had thought her handsome, “despite the ugliness of her head-dress and of her clothes, which had at first taken him by surprise.” King Philip IV. kept looking at M. de Turenne, who had accompanied the king. “That man has given me dreadful times,” he repeated twice or thrice. “You can judge whether M. de Turenne felt himself offended,” says Mdlle. de Montpensier. The definitive marriage took place at Saint-Jean-de-Luz on the 9th of June, and the court took the road leisurely back to Vincennes. Scarcely had the arrival taken place, when all the sovereign bodies sent a solemn deputation to pay their respects to Cardinal Mazarin and thank him for the peace he had just concluded. It was an unprecedented honor, paid to a minister upon whose head the Parliament had but lately set a price. The cardinal’s triumph was as complete at home as abroad; all foes had been reduced to submission or silence, Paris and France rejoicing over the peace and the king’s marriage; but, like Cardinal Richelieu, Mazarin succumbed at the very pinnacle of his glory and power; the gout, to which he was subject, flew to his stomach, and he suffered excruciating agonies. One day, when the king came to get his advice upon a certain matter, “Sir,” said the cardinal, “you are asking counsel of a man who no longer has his reason and who raves.” He saw the approach of death calmly, but not unregretfully. Concealed, one day, behind a curtain in the new apartments of the Mazarin Palace (now the National Library), young Brienne heard the cardinal coming. “He dragged his slippers along like a man very languid and just recovering from some serious illness. He paused at every step, for he was very feeble; he fixed his gaze first on one side and then on the other, and letting his eyes wander over the magnificent objects of art he had been all his life collecting, he said, ‘All that must be left behind!’ And, turning round, he added, ‘And that too! What trouble I have had to obtain all these things! I shall never see them more where I am going.’” He had himself removed to Vincennes, of which he was governor. There he continued to regulate all the affairs of state, striving to initiate the young king in the government. “Nobody,” Turenne used to say, “works so much as the cardinal, or discovers so many expedients with great clearness of mind for the terminating of much business of different sorts.” The dying minister recommended to the king MM. Le Tellier and de Lionne, and he added, “Sir, to you I owe everything; but I consider that I to some extent acquit myself of my obligation to your Majesty by giving you M. Colbert.” The cardinal, uneasy about the large possessions he left, had found a way of securing them to his heirs by making, during his lifetime, a gift of the whole of them to the king. Louis XIV. at once returned it. The minister had lately placed his two nieces, the Princess of Conti and the Countess of Soissons, at the head of the household of two queens; he had married his niece, Hortensia Mancini, to the Duke of La Meilleraye, who took the title of Duke of Mazarin. The father of this duke was the relative and protege of Cardinal Richelieu, for whom Mazarin had always preserved a feeling of great gratitude. It was to him and his wife that he left the remainder of his vast possessions, after having distributed amongst all his relatives liberal bequests to an enormous amount. The pictures and jewels went to the king, to Monsieur, and to the queens. A considerable sum was employed for the foundation and endowment of the College des Quatre Nations (now the Palais de l’Institut), intended for the education of sixty children of the four provinces re-united to France by the treaties of Westphalia and the Pyrenees, Alsace, Roussillon, Artois, and Pignerol. The cardinal’s fortune was estimated at fifty millions.

Mazarin had scarcely finished making his final dispositions when his malady increased to a violent pitch. “On the 5th of March, forty hours’ public prayers were ordered in all the churches of Paris, which is not generally done except in the case of kings,” says Madame de Motteville. The cardinal had sent for M. Jolt, parish-priest of St. Nicholas des Champs, a man of great reputation for piety, and begged him not to leave him. “I have misgivings about not being sufficiently afraid of death,” he said to his confessor. He felt his own pulse himself, muttering quite low, “I shall have a great deal more to suffer.” The king had left him on the 7th of March, in the evening. He did not see him again and sent to summon the ministers. Already the living was taking the place of the dying, with a commencement of pomp and circumstance which excited wonder at the changes of the world. “On the 9th, between two and three in the morning, Mazarin raised himself slightly in his bed, praying to God and suffering greatly; then he said aloud, ‘Ah holy Virgin, have pity upon me; receive my soul,’ and so he expired, showing a fair front to death up to the last moment.” The queen-mother had left her room for the last two, days, because it was too near that of the dying man. “She wept less than the king,” says Madame de Motteville, “being more disgusted with the creatures of his making by reason of the knowledge she had of their imperfections, insomuch that it was soon easy to see that the defects of the dead man would before long appear to her greater than they had yet been in her eyes, for he did not content himself with exercising sovereign power over the whole realm, but he exercised it over the sovereigns themselves who had given it him, not leaving them liberty to dispose of anything of any consequence.” [Memoires de Madame de Motteville, t. v. p. 103.]

Death of Mazarin.——399

Louis XIV. was about to reign with a splendor and puissance without precedent; his subjects were submissive and Europe at peace; he was reaping the fruits of the labors of his grandfather Henry IV., of Cardinal Richelieu, and of Cardinal Mazarin. Whilst continuing the work of Henry IV. Richelieu had rendered possible the government of Mazarin; he had set the kingly authority on foundations so strong that the princes of the blood themselves could not shake it. Mazarin had destroyed party and secured to France a glorious peace. Great minister had succeeded great king, and able man great minister; Italian prudence, dexterity, and finesse had replaced the indomitable will, the incomparable judgment, and the grandeur of view of the French priest and nobleman. Richelieu and Mazarin had accomplished their patriotic work: the king’s turn had come.







Cardinal Mazarin on his death-bed had given the young king this advice: “Manage your affairs yourself, sir, and raise no more premier ministers to where your bounties have placed me; I have discovered, by what I might have done against your service, how dangerous it is for a king to put his servants in such a position.” Mazarin knew thoroughly the king whose birth he had seen. “He has in him the making of four kings and one honest man,” he used to say. Scarcely was the minister dead, when Louis XIV. sent to summon his council: Chancellor Seguier, Superintendent Fouquet, and Secretaries of State Le Tellier, de Lionne, Brienne, Duplessis-Gueneguaud, and La Vrilliere. Then, addressing the chancellor, “Sir,” said he, “I have had you assembled together with my ministers and my secretaries of state to tell you that until now I have been well pleased to leave my affairs to be governed by the late cardinal; it is time that I should govern them myself; you will aid me with your counsels when I ask for them. Beyond the general business of the seal, in which I do not intend to make any alteration, I beg and command you, Mr. Chancellor, to put the seal of authority to nothing without my orders and without having spoken to me thereof, unless a secretary of state shall bring them to you on my behalf. . . . And for you, gentlemen,” addressing the secretaries of state, “I warn you not to sign anything, even a safety-warrant or passport, without my command, to report every day to me personally, and to favor nobody in your monthly rolls. Mr. Superintendent, I have explained to you my intentions; I beg that you will employ the services of M. Colbert, whom the late cardinal recommended to me.”

The king’s councillors were men of experience; and they, all recognized the master’s tone. From timidity or respect, Louis XIV. had tolerated the yoke of Mazarin, not, however, without impatience and in expectation of his own turn. [Portraits de la Cour, Archives curieuses, t. viii. p. 371.] “The cardinal,” said he one day, “does just as he pleases, and I put up with it because of the good service he has rendered me, but I shall be master in my turn;” and he added, “the king my grandfather did great things, and left some to do; if God gives me grace to live twenty years longer, perhaps I may do as much or more.” God was to grant Louis XIV. more time and power than he asked for, but it was Henry IV.‘s good fortune to maintain his greatness at the sword’s point, without ever having leisure to become intoxicated with it. Absolute power is in its nature so unwholesome and dangerous that the strongest mind cannot always withstand it. It was Louis XIV.‘s misfortune to be king for seventy-two years, and to reign fifty-six as sovereign master.

“Many people made up their minds,” says the king in his Memoires [t. ii. p. 392], “that my assiduity in work was but a heat which would soon cool; but time showed them what to think of it, for they saw me constantly going on in the same way, wishing to be informed of all that took place, listening to the prayers and complaints of my meanest subjects, knowing the number of my troops and the condition of my fortresses, treating directly with foreign ministers, receiving despatches, making in person part of the replies and giving my secretaries the substance of the others, regulating the receipts and expenditures of my kingdom, having reports made to myself in person by those who were in important offices, keeping my affairs secret, distributing graces according to my own choice, reserving to myself alone all my authority, and confining those who served me to a modest position very far from the elevation of premier ministers.”

The young king, from the first, regulated his life and his time: “I laid it down as a law to myself,” he says in his Instructions au Dauphin, “to work regularly twice a day. I cannot tell you what fruit I reaped immediately after this resolution. I felt myself rising as it were both in mind and courage; I found myself quite another being; I discovered in myself what I had no idea of, and I joyfully reproached myself for having been so long ignorant of it. Then it dawned upon me that I was king, and was born to be.”

A taste for order and regularity was natural to Louis XIV., and he soon made it apparent in his councils. “Under Cardinal Mazarin, there was literally nothing but disorder and confusion; he had the council held whilst he was being shaved and dressed, without ever giving anybody a seat, not even the chancellor or Marshal Villeroy, and he was often chattering with his linnet and his monkey all the time he was being talked to about business. After Mazarin’s death the king’s council assumed a more decent form. The king alone was seated, all the others remained standing, the chancellor leaned against the bedrail, and M. de Lionne upon the edge of the chimney-piece. He who was making a report placed himself opposite the king, and, if he had to write, sat down on a stool which was at the end of the table where there was a writing-desk and paper.” [Histoire de France, by Le P. Daniel, t. xvi. p. 89.] “I will settle this matter with your Majesty’s ministers,” said the Portuguese ambassador one day to the young king. “I have no ministers, Mr. Ambassador,” replied Louis XIV.; “you mean to say my men of business.”

Long habituation to the office of king was not destined to wear out, to exhaust, the youthful ardor of King Louis XIV. He had been for a long while governing, when he wrote, “You must not imagine, my son, that affairs of state are like those obscure and thorny passages in the sciences which you will perhaps have found fatiguing, at which the mind strives to raise itself, by an effort, beyond itself, and which repel us quite as much by their, at any rate apparent, uselessness as by their difficulty. The function of kings consists principally in leaving good sense to act, which always acts naturally without any trouble. All that is most necessary in this kind of work is at the same time agreeable; for it is, in a word, my son, to keep an open eye over all the world, to be continually learning news from all the provinces and all nations, the secrets of all courts, the temper and the foible of all foreign princes and ministers, to be informed about an infinite number of things of which we are supposed to be ignorant, to see in our own circle that which is most carefully hidden from us, to discover the most distant views of our own courtiers and their most darkly cherished interests which come to us through contrary interests, and, in fact, I know not what other pleasure we would not give up for this, even if it were curiosity alone that caused us to feel it.” [Memoires de Louis XIV., t. ii. p. 428.]

At twenty-two years of age, no more than during the rest of his life, was Louis XIV. disposed to sacrifice business to pleasure, but he did not sacrifice pleasure to business. It was on a taste so natural to a young prince, for the first time free to do as he pleased, that Superintendent Fouquet counted to increase his influence and probably his power with the king. “The attorney-general [Fouquet was attorney-general in the Parliament of Paris], though a great thief, will remain master of the others,” the queen-mother had said to Madame de Motteville at the time of Mazarin’s death. Fouquet’s hopes led him to think of nothing less than to take the minister’s place.


Fouquet, who was born in 1615, and had been superintendent of finance in conjunction with Servien since 1655, had been in sole possession of that office since the death of his colleague in 1659. He had faithfully served Cardinal Mazarin through the troubles of the Fronde. The latter had kept him in power in spite of numerous accusations of malversation and extravagance. Fouquet, however, was not certain of the cardinal’s good faith; he bought Belle-Ile to secure for himself a retreat, and prepared, for his personal defence, a mad project which was destined subsequently to be his ruin. From the commencement of his reign, the counsels of Mazarin on his death-bed, the suggestions of Colbert, the first observations made by the king himself, irrevocably ruined Fouquet in the mind of the young monarch. Whilst the superintendent was dreaming of the ministry and his friends calling him the Future, when he was preparing, in his castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte, an entertainment in the king’s honor at a cost of forty thousand crowns, Louis XIV., in concert with Colbert, had resolved upon his ruin. The form of trial was decided upon. The king did not want to have any trouble with the Parliament; and Colbert suggested to Fouquet the idea of ridding himself of his office of attorney-general. Achille de Harlay bought it for fourteen hundred thousand livres; a million in ready money was remitted to the king for his Majesty’s urgent necessities; the superintendent was buying up everybody, even the king.


On the 17th of August, 1661, the whole court thronged the gardens of Vaux, designed by Le Netre; the king, whilst admiring the pictures of Le Brun, the Facheux of Moliere represented that day for the first time, and the gold and silver plate which encumbered the tables, felt his inward wrath redoubled. “Ah! Madame,” he said to the queen his mother, “shall not we make all these fellows disgorge?” He would have had the superintendent arrested in the very midst of those festivities, the very splendor of which was an accusation against him. Anne of Austria, inclined in her heart to be indulgent towards Fouquet, restrained him. “Such a deed would scarcely be to your honor, my son,” she said; “everybody can see that this poor man is ruining himself to give you good cheer, and you would have him arrested in his own house!”

Vaux Le Vicomte——405a

“I put off the execution of my design,” says Louis XIV. in his Memoires, “which caused me incredible pain, for I saw that during that time he was practising new devices to rob me. You can imagine that at the age I then was it required my reason to make a great effort against my feelings in order to act with so much self-control. All France commended especially the secrecy with which I had for three or four months kept a resolution of that sort, particularly as it concerned a man who had such special access to me, who had dealings with all that approached me, who received information from within and from without the kingdom, and who, of himself, must have been led by the voice of his own conscience to apprehend everything.” Fouquet apprehended and became reassured by turns; the king, he said, had forgiven him all the disorder which the troubles of the times and the absolute will of Mazarin had possibly caused in the finances. However, he was anxious when he followed Louis XIV. to Nantes, the king being about to hold an assembly of the states of Brittany. “Nantes, Belle-Ile! Nantes, Belle-Ile!” he kept repeating. On arriving, Fouquet was ill and trembled as if he had the ague; he did not present himself to the king.

On the 5th of September, in the evening, the king himself wrote to the queen-mother: “My dear mother, I wrote you word this morning about the execution of the orders I had given to have the superintendent arrested; you know that I have had this matter for a long while on my mind, but it was impossible to act sooner, because I wanted him first of all to have thirty thousand crowns paid in for the marine, and because, moreover, it was necessary to see to various matters which could not be done in a day; and you cannot imagine the difficulty I had in merely finding means of speaking in private to D’Artagnan. I felt the greatest impatience in the world to get it over, there being nothing else to detain me in this district.

Louis Xiv. Dismissing Fouquet——407

At last, this morning, the superintendent having come to work with me as usual, I talked to him first of one matter and then of another, and made a show of searching for papers, until, out of the window of my closet, I saw D’Artagnan in the castle-yard; and then I dismissed the superintendent, who, after chatting a little while at the bottom of the staircase with La Feuillade, disappeared during the time he was paying his respects to M. Le Tellier, so that poor D’Artagnan thought he had missed him, and sent me word by Maupertuis that he suspected that somebody had given him warning to look to his safety; but he caught him again in the place where the great church stands, and arrested him for me about midday. They put the superintendent into one of my carriages, followed by my musketeers, to escort him to the castle of Angers, whilst his wife, by my orders, is off to Limoges. . . . I have told those gentlemen who are here with me that I would have no more superintendents, but myself take the work of finance in conjunction with faithful persons who will do nothing without me, knowing that this is the true way to place myself in affluence and relieve my people. During the little attention I have as yet given thereto, I observed some important matters which I did not at all understand. You will have no difficulty in believing that there have been many people placed in a great fix; but I am very glad for them to see that I am not such a dupe as they supposed, and that the best plan is to hold to me.”

Three years were to roll by before the end of Fouquet’s trial. In vain had one of the superintendent’s valets, getting the start of all the king’s couriers, shown sense enough to give timely warning to his distracted friends; Fouquet’s papers were seized, and very compromising they were for him as well as for a great number of court-personages, of both sexes. Colbert prosecuted the matter with a rigorous justice that looked very like hate; the king’s self-esteem was personally involved in procuring the condemnation of a minister guilty of great extravagances and much irregularity rather than of intentional want of integrity. Public feeling was at first so greatly against the superintendent that the peasants shouted to the musketeers told off to escort him from Angers to the Bastille, “No fear of his escaping; we would hang him with our own hands.” But the length and the harshness of the proceedings, the efforts of Fouquet’s family and friends, the wrath of the Parliament, out of whose hands the case had been taken in favor of carefully chosen commissioners, brought about a great change; of the two prosecuting counsel (conseillers rapporteurs), one, M. de Sainte-Helene, was inclined towards severity; the other, Oliver d’Ormesson, a man of integrity and courage, thought of nothing but justice, and treated with contempt the hints that reached him from the court. Colbert took the trouble one day to go and call upon old M. d’Ormesson, the counsel’s father, to complain of the delays that the son, as he said, was causing in the trial: “It is very extraordinary,” said the minister, “that a great king, feared throughout Europe, cannot finish a case against one of his own subjects.” “I am sorry,” answered the old gentleman, “that the king is not satisfied with my son’s conduct; I know that he practises what I have always taught him,—to fear God, serve the king, and render justice without respect of persons. The delay in the matter does not depend upon him; he works at it night and day, without wasting a moment.” Oliver d’Ormesson lost the stewardship of Soissonness, to which he had the titular right, but he did not allow himself to be diverted from his scrupulous integrity. Nay, he grew wroth at the continual attacks of Chancellor Seguier, more of a courtier than ever in his old age, and anxious to finish the matter to the satisfaction of the court. “I told many of the Chamber,” he writes, “that I did not like to have the whip applied to me every morning, and that the chancellor was a sort of chastiser I would not put up with.” [Journal d’ Oliver d’ Ormesson, t. ii. p. 88.]

Fouquet, who claimed the jurisdiction of the Parliament, had at first refused to answer the interrogatory; it was determined to conduct his case “as if he were dumb,” but his friends had him advised not to persist in his silence. The courage and presence of mind of the accused more than once embarrassed his judges. The ridiculous scheme which had been discovered behind a looking-glass in Fouquet’s country-house was read; the instructions given to his friends in case of his arrest seemed to foreshadow a rebellion; Fouquet listened, with his eyes bent upon the crucifix. “You cannot be ignorant that this is a state-crime,” said the chancellor. “I confess that it is outrageous, sir,” replied the accused; “but it is not a state-crime. I entreat these gentlemen,” turning to the judges, “to kindly allow me to explain what a state-crime is. It is when you hold a chief office, when you are in the secrets of your prince, and when, all at once, you range yourself on the side of his enemies, enlist all your family in the same interest, cause the passes to be given up by your son-in-law, and the gates to be opened to a foreign army, so as to introduce it into the heart of the kingdom. That, gentlemen, is what is called a state-crime.” The chancellor could not protest; nobody had forgotten his conduct during the Fronde. M. d’Ormesson summed up for banishment, and confiscation of all the property of the accused; it was all that the friends of Fouquet could hope for. M. de Sainte-Helene summed up for beheadal. “The only proper punishment for him would be rope and gallows,” exclaimed M. Pussort, the most violent of the whole court against the accused; “but, in consideration of the offices he has held, and the distinguished relatives he has, I relent so far as to accept the opinion of M. de Sainte-Helene.” “What say you to this moderation?” writes Madame de Sevigne to M. de Pomponne, like herself a faithful friend of Fouquet’s: “it is because he is Colbert’s uncle, and was objected to, that he was inclined for such handsome treatment. As for me, I am beside myself when I think of such infamy. . . . You must know that M. Colbert is in such a rage that there is apprehension of some atrocity and injustice which will drive us all to despair. If it were not for that, my poor dear sir, in the position in which we now are, we might hope to see our friend, although very unfortunate, at any rate with his life safe, which is a great matter.”

“Pray much to your God and entreat your judges,” was the message sent to Mesdames Fouquet by the queen-mother, “for, so far as the king is concerned, there is nothing to be expected.” “If he is sentenced, I shall leave him to die,” proclaimed Louis XIV. Fouquet was not sentenced; the court declared for the view of Oliver d’Ormesson. “Praise God, sir, and thank Him,” wrote Madame de Sevigne, on the 20th of December, 1664, “our poor friend is saved; it was thirteen for M. d’Ormesson’s summing-up, and nine for Sainte-Helene’s. It will be a long while before I recover from my joy; it is really too overwhelming; I can hardly restrain it. The king changes exile into imprisonment, and refuses him permission to see his wife, which is against all usage; but take care not to abate one jot of your joy; mine is increased thereby, and makes me see more clearly the greatness of our victory.” Fouquet was taken to Pignerol, and all his family were removed from Paris. He died piously in his prison, in 1680, a year before his venerable mother, Marie Maupeou, who was so deeply concerned about her son’s soul at the very pinnacle of greatness, that she threw herself upon her knees on hearing of his arrest, and exclaimed, “I thank thee, O God; I have always prayed for his salvation, and here is the way to it!” Fouquet was guilty; the bitterness of his enemies and the severities of the king have failed to procure his acquittal from history any more than from his judges.

Even those who, like Louis XIV. and Colbert, saw the canker in the state, deceived themselves as to the resources at their disposal for the cure of it; the punishment of the superintendent and the ruin of the farmers of taxes (traitants) might put a stop for a while to extravagances; the powerful hand of Colbert might re-establish order in the finances, found new manufactures, restore the marine, and protect commerce; but the order was but momentary, and the prosperity superficial, as long as the sovereign’s will was the sole law of the state. Master as he was over the maintenance of peace in Europe, after so many and such long periods of hostility, young Louis XIV. was only waiting for an opportunity of recommencing war. “The resolutions I had in my mind seemed to me very worthy of execution,” he says: “my natural activity, the ardor of my age, and the violent desire I felt to augment my reputation, made me very impatient to be up and doing; but I found at this moment that love of glory has the same niceties, and, if I may say so, the same timidities, as the most tender passions; for, the more ardent I was to distinguish myself, the more apprehensive I was of failing, and, regarding as a great misfortune the shame which follows the slightest errors, I intended, in my conduct, to take the most extreme precautions.”

The day of reverses was farther off from Louis XIV. than that of errors. God had vouchsafed him incomparable instruments for the accomplishment of his designs. Whilst Colbert was replenishing the exchequer, all the while diminishing the imposts, a younger man than the king himself, the Marquis of Louvois, son of Michael Le Tellier, admitted to the council at twenty years of age, was eagerly preparing the way for those wars which were nearly always successful so long as he lived, however insufficient were the reasons for them, however unjust was their aim.


Foreign affairs were in no worse hands than the administration of finance and of war. M. de Lionne was an able diplomatist, broken in for a long, time past to important affairs, shrewd and sensible, more celebrated amongst his contemporaries than in history, always falling into the second rank, behind Mazarin or Louis XIV., “who have appropriated his fame,” says M. Mignet. The negotiations conducted by M. de Lionne were of a delicate nature. Louis XIV. had never renounced the rights of the queen to the succession in Spain. King Philip IV. had not paid his daughter’s dowry, he said; the French ambassador at Madrid, the Archbishop of Embrun, was secretly negotiating to obtain a revocation of Maria Theresa’s renunciation, or, at the very least, a recognition of the right of devolution over the Catholic Low Countries. This strange custom of Hainault secured to the children of the first marriage succession to the paternal property, to the exclusion of the offspring of the second marriage. Louis XIV. claimed the application of it to the advantage of the queen his wife, daughter of Elizabeth of France. “It is absolutely necessary that justice should sooner or later be done the queen, as regards the rights that may belong to her, or that I should try to exact it myself,” wrote Louis XIV. to the Archbishop of Embrun. This justice and these rights were, sooth to say, the pivot of all the negotiations and all the wars of King Louis XIV. “I cannot, all in a moment, change from white to black all the ancient maxims of this crown,” said the king. He obtained no encouragement from Spain, and he began to make preparations, in anticipation, for war.

In this view and with these prospects, he needed the alliance of the Hollanders. Shattered as it had been by the behavior of the United Provinces at the Congress of Munster and by their separate peace with Spain, the friendship between the States General and France had been re-soldered by the far-sighted policy of John Van Witt, grand pensionary of Holland, and preponderant, with good right, in the policy of his country. Bold and prudent, courageous and wise, he had known better than anybody how to estimate the true interests of Holland, and how to maintain them everywhere, against Cromwell as well as Mazarin, with high-spirited moderation. His great and cool judgment had inclined him towards France, the most useful ally Holland could have. In spite of the difficulties put in the way of their friendly relations by Colbert’s commercial measures, a new treaty was concluded between Louis XIV. and the United Provinces. “I am informed from a good quarter,” says a letter to John van Witt from his ambassador at Paris, Boreel, June 8, 1662, “that his Majesty makes quite a special case of the new alliance between him and their High Mightinesses, which he regards as his own particular work. He expects great advantages from it as regards the security of his kingdom and that of the United Provinces, which, he says, he knows to have been very affectionately looked upon by Henry the Great and he desires that, if their High Mightinesses looked upon his ancestor as a father, they should love him from this moment as a son, taking him for their best friend and principal ally.” A secret negotiation was at the same time going on between John van Witt and Count d’Estrades, French ambassador in Holland, for the formation and protection of a Catholic republic in the Low Countries, according to Richelieu’s old plan, or for partition between France and the United Provinces. John van Witt was anxious to act; but Louis XIV. seemed to be keeping himself hedged, in view of the King of Spain’s death, feeling it impossible, he said, with propriety and honor, to go contrary to the faith of the treaties which united him to his father-in-law. “That which can be kept secret for some time cannot be forever, nor be concealed from posterity,” he said to Count d’Estrades, in a private letter: “any how, there are certain things which are good to do and bad to commit to writing.” An understanding was come to without any writing. Louis XIV. well understood the noble heart and great mind with which he had to deal, when he wrote to Count d’Estrades, April 20, 1663, “It is clear that God caused M. de Witt to be born [in 1632] for great things, seeing that, at his age, he has already for many years deservedly been the most considerable person in his state; and I believe, too, that my having obtained so good a friend in him was not a simple result of chance, but of Divine Providence, who is thus early arranging the instruments of which He is pleased to make use for the glory of this crown, and for the advantage of the United Provinces. The only complaint I make of him is, that, having so much esteem and affection as I have for his person, he will not be kind enough to let me have the means of giving him some substantial tokens of it, which I would do with very great joy.” Louis XIV. was not accustomed to meet, at foreign courts, with the high-spirited disinterestedness of the burgess-patrician, who, since the age of five and twenty, had been governing the United Provinces.

Thus, then, it was a case of strict partnership between France and Holland, and Louis XIV. had remained faithful to the policy of Henry IV. and Richelieu when Philip IV. died, on the 17th of September, 1665. Almost at the same time the dissension between England and Holland, after a period of tacit hostility, broke out into action. The United Provinces claimed the aid of France.

Close ties at that time united France and England. Monsieur, the king’s only brother, had married Henrietta of England, sister of Charles II. The King of England, poor and debauched, had scarcely been restored to the throne when he sold Dunkerque to France for five millions of livres, to the great scandal of Cromwell’s old friends, who had but lately helped Turenne to wrest it from the Spaniards. “I knew without doubt that the aggression was on the part of England,” writes Louis XIV. in his Memoires, “and I resolved to act with good faith towards the Hollanders, according to the terms of my treaty: but as I purposed to terminate the war on the first opportunity, I resolved to act towards the English as handsomely as could be, and I begged the Queen of England, who happened to be at that time in Paris, to signify to her son that, with the singular regard I had for him, I could not without sorrow form the resolution which I considered myself bound by the obligation of my promise to take; for, at the origin of this war, I was persuaded that he had been carried away by the wishes of his subjects farther than he would have been by his own, insomuch that, between ourselves, I thought I had less reason to complain of him than for him. It is certain that this subordination which places the sovereign under the necessity of receiving the law from his people is the worst calamity that can happen to a man of our rank. I have pointed out to you elsewhere, my son, the miserable condition of princes who commit their people and their own dignity to the management of a premier minister; but it is little beside the misery of those who are left to the indiscretion of a popular assembly; the more you grant, the more they claim; the more you caress, the more they despise; and that which is once in their possession is held by so many arms that it cannot be wrenched away without an extreme amount of violence.” In his compassion for the misery of the king of a free country, Louis XIV. contented himself with looking on at the desperate engagements between the English and the Dutch fleets. Twice the English destroyed the Dutch fleet under the orders of Admiral van Tromp. John van Witt placed himself at the head of the squadron. “Tromp has courage enough to fight,” he said, “but not sufficient prudence to conduct a great action. The heat of battle is liable to carry officers away, confuse them, and not leave them enough independence of judgment to bring matters to a successful issue. That is why I consider myself bound by all the duties of manhood and conscience to be myself on the watch, in order to set bounds to the impetuosity of valor when it would fain go too far.” The resolution of the grand pensionary and the skill of Admiral Ruyter, who was on his return from an expedition in Africa, restored the fortunes of the Hollanders; their vessels went and offered the English battle at the very mouth of the Thames. The French squadron did not leave the Channel. It was only against the Bishop of Munster, who had just invaded the Dutch territory, that Louis XIV. gave his allies effectual aid; M. de Turenne marched against the troops of the bishop, who was forced to retire, in the month of April, 1666. Peace was concluded at Breda, between England and Holland, in the month of July, 1667. Louis XIV. had not waited for that moment to enter Flanders.

Everything, in fact, was ready for this great enterprise: the regent of Spain, Mary Anne of Austria, a feeble creature, under the thumb of one Father Nithard, a Jesuit, had allowed herself to be sent to sleep by the skilful manoeuvres of the Archbishop of Embrun; she had refused to make a treaty of alliance with England and to recognize Portugal, to which Louis XIV. had just given a French queen, by marrying Mdlle. de Nemours to King Alphonso VI. The league of the Rhine secured to him the neutrality, at the least, of Germany; the emperor was not prepared for war; Europe, divided between fear and favor, saw with astonishment Louis XIV. take the field in the month of May, 1667. “It is not,” said the manifesto sent by the king to the court of Spain, “either the ambition of possessing new states, or the desire of winning glory by arms, which inspires the Most Christian King with the design of maintaining the rights of the queen his wife; but would it not be shame for a king to allow all the privileges of blood and of law to be violated in the persons of himself, his wife, and his son? As king, he feels himself obliged to prevent this injustice; as master, to oppose this usurpation; and, as father, to secure the patrimony to his son. He has no desire to employ force to open the gates, but he wishes to enter, as a beneficent sun, by the rays of his love, and to scatter everywhere, in country, towns, and private houses, the gentle influences of abundance and peace, which follow in his train.” To secure the gentle influences of peace, Louis XIV. had collected an army of fifty thousand men, carefully armed and equipped under the supervision of Turenne, to whom Louvois as yet rendered docile obedience. There was none too much of this fine army for recovering the queen’s rights over the duchy of Brabant, the marquisate of Antwerp, Limburg, Hainault, the countship of Namur, and other territories. “Heaven not having ordained any tribunal on earth at which the Kings of France can demand justice, the Most Christian King has only his own arms to look to for it,” said the manifesto. Louis XIV. set out with M. de Turenne. Marshal Crequi had orders to observe Germany.

The Spaniards were taken unprepared: Armentieres, Charleroi, Douai, and Tournay had but insufficient garrisons, and they fell almost without striking a blow. Whilst the army was busy with the siege of Courtray, Louis XIV. returned to Compiegne to fetch the queen. The whole court followed him to the camp. “All that you have read about—the magnificence of Solomon and the grandeur of the King of Persia, is not to be compared with the pomp that attends the king in his expedition,” says a letter to Bussy-Rabutin from the Count of Coligny. “You see passing along the streets nothing but plumes, gold-laced uniforms, chariots, mules superbly harnessed, parade-horses, housings with embroidery of fine gold.” “I took the queen to Flanders,” says Louis XIV., “to show her to the peoples of that country, who received her, in point of fact, with all the delight imaginable, testifying their sorrow at not having had more time to make preparations for receiving her more befittingly.” The queen’s quarters were at Courtrai. Marshal Turenne had moved on Dendermonde, but the Flemings had opened their sluices; the country was inundated; it was necessary to fall back on Audenarde; the town was taken in two days; and the king, still attended by the court, laid siege to Lille. Vauban, already celebrated as an engineer, traced out the lines of circumvallation; the army of M. de Crequi formed a junction with that of Turenne; there was expectation of an attempt on the part of the governor of the Low Countries to relieve the place; the Spanish force sent for that purpose arrived too late, and was beaten on its retreat; the burgesses of Lille had forced the garrison to capitulate; and Louis XIV. entered it on the 27th of August, after ten days’ open trenches. On the 2d of September, the king took the road back to St. Germain; but Turenne still found time to carry the town of Alost before taking up his winter-quarters.

Louis XIV.‘s first campaign had been nothing but playing at war, almost entirely without danger or bloodshed; it had, nevertheless, been sufficient to alarm Europe. Scarcely had peace been concluded at Breda, when another negotiation was secretly entered upon between England, Holland, and Sweden.

It was in vain that King Charles II. leaned personally towards an alliance with France; his people had their eyes “opened to the dangers” —incurred by Europe from the arms of Louis XIV. “Certain persons of the greatest influence in Parliament come sometimes to see me, without any lights and muffled in a cloak in order not to be recognized,” says a letter of September 26, 1669, from the Marquis of Ruvigny to M. de Lionne; “they give me to understand that common sense and the public security forbid them to see, without raising a finger, the whole of the Low Countries taken, and that they are bound in good policy to oppose the purposes of this conquest if his Majesty intend to take all for himself.” On the 23d of January, 1668, the celebrated treaty of the Triple Alliance was signed at the Hague. The three powers demanded of the King of France that he should grant the Low Countries a truce up to the month of May, in order to give time for treating with Spain and obtaining from her, as France demanded, the definitive cession of the conquered places or Franche-Comte in exchange. At bottom, the Triple Alliance was resolved to protect helpless Spain against France; a secret article bound the three allies to take up arms to restrain Louis XIV., and to bring him back, if possible, to the peace of the Pyrenees. At the same moment, Portugal was making peace with Spain, who recognized her independence.

The king refused the long armistice demanded of him. “I will grant it up to the 31st of March,” he had said, “being unwilling to miss the first opportunity of taking the field.” The Marquis of Castel-Rodriguo made merry over this proposal. “I am content,” said he, “with the suspension of arms that winter imposes upon the King of France.” The governor of the Low Countries made a mistake: Louis XIV. was about to prove that his soldiers, like those of Gustavus Adolphus, did not recognize winter. He had intrusted the command of his new army to the Prince of Conde, amnestied for the last nine years, but, up to that time, a stranger to the royal favor. Conde expressed his gratitude with more fervor than loftiness when he wrote to the king on the 20th of December, 1667, “My birth binds me more than any other to your Majesty’s service, but the kindnesses and the confidence you deign to show me after I have so little deserved them bind me still more than my birth. Do me the honor to believe, sir, that I hold neither property nor life but to cheerfully sacrifice them for your glory and for the preservation of your person, which is a thousand times dearer to me than all the things of the world.”

“On pretence of being in Burgundy at the states,” writes Oliver d’Ormesson, the prosecutor of Fouquet, “the prince had obtained perfect knowledge that Franche-Comte was without troops and without apprehension, because they had no doubt that the king would accord them neutrality as in the last war, the inhabitants having sent to him to ask it of him. He kept them amused. Meanwhile the king had set his army in motion without disclosing his plan, and the inhabitants of Franche-Comte found themselves attacked without having known that they were to be. Besancon and Salins surrendered at sight of the troops. The king, on arriving, went to Dole, and superintended an affair of counterscarps and some demilunes, whereat there were killed some four or five hundred men. The inhabitants, astounded, and finding themselves without troops or hope of succor, surrendered on Shrove Tuesday, February 14. The king at the same time marched to Gray. The governor made some show of defending himself, but the Marquis of Yenne, governor-general under Castel-Rodriguo, who belongs to the district and has all his property there, came and surrendered to the king, and then, having gone to Gray, persuaded the governor to surrender. Accordingly, the king entered it on Sunday, February 19, and had a Te Deum sung there, having at his right the governor-general, and at his left the special governor of the town; and, the same day, he set out on his return. And so, within twenty-two days of the month of February, he had set out from St. Germain, been in Franche-Comte, taken it entirely, and returned to St. Germain. This is a great and wonderful conquest from every point of view. Having paid a visit to the prince to make my compliments, I said that the glory he had won had cost him dear, as he had lost his shoes; he replied, laughing, that it had been said so, but the truth was, that, happening to be at the guards’ attack, somebody came and told him that the king had pushed forward to M. de Gadaignes’ attack, that he had ridden up full gallop to bring back the king, who had put himself in too great peril, and that, having dismounted at a very moist spot, his shoe had come off, and he had been obliged to re-shoe himself in the king’s presence.” [Journal d’ Oliver d’ Ormesson, t. ii. p. 542.]

Louis XIV. had good reason to “push forward to the attack and put himself in too great peril;” a rumor had circulated that, having run the same risk at the siege of Lille, he had let a moment’s hesitation appear; the old Duke of Charost, captain of his guards, had come up to him, and, “Sir,” he had whispered in the young king’s ear, “the wine is drawn, and it must be drunk.” Louis XIV. had finished his reconnoissance, not without a feeling of gratitude towards Charost for preferring before his life that honor which ended by becoming his idol.

The king was back at St. Germain, preparing enormous armaments for the month of April. He had given the Prince of Conde the government of Franche-Comte. “I had always esteemed your father,” he said to the young Duke of Enghien, “but I had never loved him; now I love him as much as I esteem him.” Young Louvois, already in high favor with the king, as well as his father, Michael Le Tellier, had contributed a great deal towards getting the prince’s services appreciated; they still smarted under the reproaches of M. de Turenne touching the deficiency of supplies for the troops before Lille in 1667.

War seemed to be imminent; the last days of the armistice were at hand. “The opinion prevailing in France as to peace is a disease which is beginning to spread very much,” wrote Louvois in the middle of March, “but we shall soon find a cure for it, as here is the time approaching for taking the field. You must publish almost everywhere that it is the Spaniards who do not want peace.” Louvois lied brazenfacedly; the Spaniards were without resources, but they had even less of spirit than of resources; they consented to the abandonment of all the places won in the Low Countries during 1667. A congress was opened at Aix-la-Chapelle, presided over by the nuncio of the new pope, Clement IX., as favorable to France as his predecessor, Innocent X., had been to Spain. “A phantom arbiter between phantom plenipotentiaries,” says Voltaire, in the Siecle de Louis XIV. The real negotiations were going on at St. Germain. “I did not look merely,” writes Louis XIV., “to profit by the present conjuncture, but also to put myself in a position to turn to my advantage those which might probably arrive. In view of the great increments that my fortune might receive, nothing seemed to me more necessary than to establish for myself amongst my smaller neighbors such a character for moderation and probity as might assuage in them those emotions of dread which everybody naturally experiences at sight of too great a power. I was bound not to lack means of breaking with Spain when I pleased; Franche-Comte, which I gave up, might become reduced to such a condition that I should be master of it at any moment, and my new conquests, well secured, would open for me a surer entrance into the Low Countries.” Determined by these wise motives, the king gave orders to sign the peace. “M. de Turenne appeared yesterday like a man who had received a blow from a club,” writes Michael Le Tellier to his son: “when Don Juan arrives, matters will change; he says that, meanwhile, all must go on just the same, and he repeated it more than a dozen times, which made the prince laugh.” Don Juan did not protest, and on the 2d of May, 1668, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was concluded. Before giving up Franche-Comte, the king issued orders for demolishing the fortifications of Dole and Gray; he at the same time commissioned Vauban to fortify Ath, Lille, and Tournay. The Triple Alliance was triumphant, the Hollanders at the head. “I cannot tell your Excellency all that these beer-brewers write to our traders,” said a letter to M. de Lionne from one of his correspondents; “as there is just now nothing further to hope for, in respect of they Low Countries, I vent all my feelings upon the Hollanders, whom I hold at this day to be our most formidable enemies, and I exhort your Excellency, as well for your own reputation as for the public satisfaction, to omit from your policy nothing that may tend to the discovery of means to abase this great power, which exalts itself too much.”

Louis XIV. held the same views as M. de Lionne’s correspondent, not merely from resentment against the Hollanders, who had stopped him in his career of success, but because he quite saw that the key to the barrier between the Catholic Low Countries and himself remained in the hands of the United Provinces. He had relied upon his traditional influence in the Estates as well as on the influence of John van Witt; but the latter’s position had been shaken. “I learn from a good quarter that there are great cabals forming against the authority of M. de Witt, and for the purpose of ousting him from it,” writes M. de Lionne on the 30th of March, 1668; Louis XIV. resolved to have recourse to arms in order to humiliate this insolent republic which had dared to hamper his designs. For four years, every effort of his diplomacy tended solely to make Holland isolated in Europe.

It was to England that France would naturally first turn her eyes. The sentiments of King Charles II. and of his people, as regarded Holland, were not the same. Charles had not forgiven the Estates for having driven him from their territory at the request of Cromwell; the simple and austere manners of the republican patricians did not accord with his taste for luxury and debauchery; the English people, on the contrary, despite of that rivalry in, trade and on the seas which had been the source of so much ancient and recent hostility between the two nations, esteemed the Hollanders and leaned towards an alliance with them. Louis XIV., in the eyes of the English Parliament, was the representative of Catholicism and absolute monarchy, two enemies which it had vanquished, but still feared. The king’s proceedings with Charles II. had, therefore, necessarily to be kept secret; the ministers of the King of England were themselves divided; the Duke of Buckingham, as mad and as prodigal as his father, was favorable to France; the Earl of Arlington had married a Hollander, and persisted in the Triple Alliance. Louis XIV. employed in this negotiation his sister-in-law, Madame Henriette, who was much attached to her brother, the King of England, and was intelligent and adroit; she was on her return from a trip to London, which she had with great difficulty snatched from the jealous susceptibilities of Monsieur, when she died suddenly at Versailles on the 30th of June, 1670. “It were impossible to praise sufficiently the incredible dexterity of this princess in treating the most delicate matters, in finding a remedy for those hidden suspicions which often keep them in suspense, and in terminating all difficulties in such a manner as to conciliate the most opposite interests; this was the subject of all talk, when on a sudden resounded, like a clap of thunder, that astounding news, Madame is dying! Madame is dead! And there, in spite of that great heart, is this princess, so admired and so beloved; there, as death has made her for us!” [Bossuet, Oraison funebre d’Henriette d’Angleterre.]

Madame’s work was nevertheless accomplished, and her death was not destined to interrupt it. The treaty of alliance was secretly concluded, signed by only the Catholic councillors of Charles II.; it bore that the King of England was resolved to publicly declare his return to the Catholic church; the King of France was to aid him towards the execution of this project with assistance to the amount of two millions of livres of Tours; the two princes bound themselves to remain faithful to the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle as regarded Spain, and to declare war together against the United Provinces the King of France would have to supply to his brother of England, for this war, a subsidy of three million livres of Tours every year. When the Protestant ministers were admitted to share the secret, silence was kept as to the declaration of Catholicity, which was put off till after the war in Holland; Parliament had granted the king thirteen hundred thousand pounds sterling to pay his debts, and eight hundred thousand pounds to “equip in the ensuing spring” a fleet of fifty vessels, in order that he might take the part he considered most expedient for the glory of his kingdom and the welfare of his subjects. “The government of our country is like a great bell which you cannot stop when it is once set going,” said King Charles II., anxious to commence the war in order to handle the subsidies the sooner; he was, nevertheless, obliged to wait. Louis XIV. had succeeded in dragging him into an enterprise contrary to the real interests of his country as well as of his national policy; in order to arrive at his ends he had set at work all the evil passions which divided the court of England; he had bought up the king, his mistresses, and his ministers; he had dangled before the fanaticism of the Duke of York the spectacle of England converted to Catholicism; but his work was not finished in Europe; he wished to assure himself of the neutrality of Germany in the great duel he was meditating with the republic of the United Provinces.

As long ago as 1667 Louis XIV. had practically paved the way towards the neutrality of the empire by a secret treaty regulating the eventual partition of the Spanish, monarchy. In case the little King of Spain died without children, France was to receive the Low Countries, Franche-Comte, Navarre, Naples, and Sicily; Austria was to keep Spain and Milaness. The Emperor Leopold therefore turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of the Hollanders who would fain have bound him down to the Triple Alliance; a new convention between France and the empire, secretly signed on the 1st of November, 1670, made it reciprocally obligatory on the two princes not to aid their enemies. The German princes were more difficult to win over; they were beginning to feel alarm at the pretensions of France. The electors of Treves and of Mayence had already collected some troops on the Rhine; the Duke of Lorraine seemed disposed to lend them assistance; Louis XIV. seized the pretext of the restoration of certain fortifications contrary to the treaty of Marsal; on the 23d of August, 1675, he ordered Marshal Crequi to enter Lorraine; at the commencement of September, the whole duchy was reduced, and the duke a fugitive. “The king had at first been disposed to give up Lorraine to some one of the princes of that house,” writes Louvois; “but, just now, he no longer considers that province to be a country which he ought to quit so soon, and it appears likely that, as he sees more and more every day how useful that conquest will be for the unification of his kingdom, he will seek the means of preserving it for himself.” In point of fact, the king, in answer to the emperor’s protests, replied that he did not want to turn Lorraine to account for his own profit, but that he would not give it up at the solicitations of anybody. Brandenburg and Saxony alone refused point blank to observe neutrality; France had renounced Protestant alliances in Germany, and the Protestant electors comprehended the danger that threatened them. Sweden also comprehended it, but Gustavus Adolphus and Oxenstiern were no longer there; there remained nothing but the remembrance of old alliances with France; the Swedish senators gave themselves up to the buyer one after another. “When you have made some stay at Stockholm,” wrote Courtin, the French ambassador in Sweden, to M. do Pomponne, “and seen the vanity of the Gascons of the North, the little honesty there is in their conduct, the cabals which prevail in the Senate, and the feebleness and inertness of those who compose it, you cannot be surprised at the delays and changes which take place. If the Senate of Rome had shown as little inclination as that of Sweden at the present time for war, the Roman empire would not have been of so great an extent.” The treaty, however, was signed on the 14th of April, 1672; in consideration of an annual subsidy of six hundred thousand livres Sweden engaged to oppose by arms those princes of the empire who should determine to support the United Provinces. The gap was forming round Holland.

In spite of the secrecy which enveloped the negotiations of Louis XIV., Van Witt was filled with disquietude; favorable as ever to the French alliance, he had sought to calm the irritation of France, which set down the Triple Alliance to the account of Holland. “I remarked,” says a letter in 1669, from M. de Pomponne, French ambassador at the Hague, “that it seemed to me a strange thing that, whereas this republic had two kings for its associates in the triple alliance, it affected in some sort to put itself at their head so as to do all the speaking, and that it was willing to become the seat of all the manoeuvres that were going on against France, which was very likely to render it suspected of some prepossession in favor of Spain.” John Van Witt defended his country with dignified modesty. “I know not whether to regard as a blessing or a curse,” said he, “the incidents which have for several years past brought it about that the most important affairs of Europe have been transacted in Holland. It must no doubt be attributed to the situation and condition of this state, which, whilst putting it after all the crowned heads, cause it to be readily agreed to as a place without consequence; but, as for the prepossession of which we are suspected in favor of Spain, it cannot surely be forgotten what aversion we have as it were sucked in with our milk towards that nation, the remnants that still remain of a hatred fed by so much blood and such long wars, which make it impossible, for my part, that my inclinations should ever turn towards that crown.”

Hatred to Spain was not so general in Holland as Van Witt represented; and internal dissensions amongst the Estates, sedulously fanned by France, were slowly ruining the authority of the aristocratic and republican party, only to increase the influence of those who favored the house of Nassau. In his far-sighted and sagacious patriotism, John van Witt had for a long time past foreseen the defeat of his cause, and he had carefully trained up the heir of the stadtholders, William of Nassau, the natural head of his adversaries. It was this young prince whom the policy of Louis XIV. at that time opposed to Van Witt in the councils of the United Provinces, thus strengthening in advance the indomitable foe who was to triumph over all his greatness and vanquish him by dint of defeats. The despatch of an ambassador to Spain, to form there an alliance offensive and defensive, was decided upon. “M. de Beverninck, who has charge of this mission, is without doubt a man of strength and ability,” said M. de Pomponne, “and there are many who put him on a par with M. de Witt; it is true that he is not on a par with the other the whole day long, and that with the sobriety of morning he often loses the desert and capacity that were his up to dinner-time.” The Spaniards at first gave but a cool reception to the overtures of the Hollanders. “They look at their monarchy through the spectacles of Philip II.,” said Beverninck, “and they take a pleasure in deceiving themselves whilst they flatter their vanity.” Fear of the encroachments of France carried the day, however. “They consider,” wrote M. de Lionne, “that, if they left the United Provinces to ruin, they would themselves have but the favor granted by the Cyclops, to be eaten last;” a defensive league was concluded between Spain and Holland, and all the efforts of France could not succeed in breaking it.

John van Witt was negotiating in every direction. The treaty of Charles II. with France had remained a profound secret, and the Hollanders believed that they might calculate upon the good-will of the English nation. The arms of England were effaced from the Royal Charles, a vessel taken by Van Tromp in 1667, and a curtain was put over a picture, in the town-hall of Dordrecht, of the victory at Chatham, representing the ruart [inspector of dikes] Cornelius van Witt leaning on a cannon. These concessions to the pride of England were not made without a struggle. “Some,” says M. de Pomponne, “thought it a piece of baseness to despoil themselves during peace, of tokens of the glory they had won in the war; others, less sensitive on this point of delicacy, and more affected by the danger of disobliging a crown which formed the first and at this date the most necessary of their connections, preferred the less spirited but safer to the honorable but more dangerous counsels.” Charles II. played with Boreel, ambassador of the United Provinces at the court of London; taking advantage of the Estates’ necessity in order to serve his nephew the Prince of Orange, he demanded for him the office of captain-general, which had been filled by his ancestors. Already the prince had been recognized as premier noble of Zealand, and he had obtained entrance to the council; John van Witt raised against him the vote of the Estates of Holland, still preponderant in the republic. “The grand pensionary soon appeased the murmurs and complaints that were being raised against him,” writes M. de Pomponne. “He prefers the greatest dangers to the re-establishment of the Prince of Orange, and to his re-establishment on the recommendation of the King of England; he would consider that the republic accepted a double yoke, both in the person of a chief who, from the post of captain general, might rise to all those which his fathers had filled, and in accepting him at the instance of a suspected crown.” The grand pensionary did not err. In the spring of 1672, in spite of the loss of M. de Lionne, who died September 1, 1671, all the negotiations of Louis XIV. had succeeded; his armaments were completed; he was at last about to crush that little power which had for so long a time past presented an obstacle to his designs. “The true way of arriving at the conquest of the Spanish Low Countries is to abase the Hollanders and annihilate them if it be possible,” said Louvois to the Prince of Conde on the 1st of November, 1671; and the king wrote in an unpublished memorandum, “In the midst of all my successes during my campaign of 1667, neither England nor the empire, convinced as they were of the justice of my cause, whatever interest they may have had in checking the rapidity of my conquests, offered any opposition. I found in my path only my good, faithful, and old friends the Hollanders, who, instead of interesting themselves in my fortune as the foundation of their dominion, wanted to impose laws upon me and oblige me to make peace, and even dared to use threats in case I refused to accept their mediation. I confess that their insolence touched me to the quick, and that, at the risk of whatever might happen to my conquests in the Spanish Low Countries, I was very near turning all my forces against this proud and ungrateful nation; but, having summoned prudence to my aid, and considered that I had neither number of troops nor quality of allies requisite for such an enterprise, I dissimulated, I concluded peace on honorable conditions, resolved to put off the punishment of such perfidy to another time.” The time had come; to the last attempt towards conciliation, made by Van Groot, son of the celebrated Grotius, in the name of the States General, the king replied with threatening haughtiness. “When I discovered that the United Provinces were trying to debauch my allies, and were soliciting kings, my relatives, to enter into offensive leagues against me, I made up my mind to put myself in a position to defend myself, and I levied some troops; but I intend to have more by the spring, and I shall make use of them at that time in the manner I shall consider most proper for the welfare of my dominions and for my own glory.”

“The king starts to-morrow, my dear daughter,” writes Madame de Sevigne to Madame de Grignan on the 27th of April “there will be a hundred thousand men out of Paris; the two armies will form a junction; the king will command Monsieur, Monsieur the prince, the prince M. de Turenne, and M. de Turenne the two marshals and even the army of Marshal Crequi. The king spoke to M. de Bellefonds and told him that his desire was that he should obey M. de Turenne without any fuss. The marshal, without asking for time (that was his mistake), said that he should not be worthy of the honor his Majesty had done him if he dishonored himself by an obedience without precedent. Marshal d’Humieres and Marshal Crequi said much the same. M. de la Rochefoucauld says that Bellefonds has spoilt everything because he has no joints in his mind. Marshal Crequi said to the king, ‘Sir, take from me my baton, for are you not master? Let me serve this campaign as Marquis of Crequi; perhaps I may deserve that your Majesty give me back the baton at the end of the war.’ The king was touched; but the result is, that they have all three been at their houses in the country planting cabbages (have ceased to serve).”

“You will permit me to tell you that there is nothing for it but to obey a master who says that he means to be obeyed,” wrote Louvois to M. de Crequi. The king wanted to have order and one sole command in his army: and he was right.

The Prince of Orange, who had at last been appointed captain-general for a single campaign, possessed neither the same forces nor the same authority; the violence of party-struggles had blinded patriotic sentiment and was hampering the preparations for defence. Out of sixty-four thousand troops inscribed on the registers of the Dutch army, a great number neglected the summons; in the towns, the burgesses rose up against the magistrates, refusing to allow the faubourgs to be pulled down, and the peasants threatened to defend the dikes and close the sluices. “When word was sent yesterday to the peasants to come and work on the Rhine at the redoubts and at piercing the dikes, not a man presented himself,” says a letter of June 28, from John van Witt to his brother Cornelius; “all is disorder and confusion here.” “I hope that, for the moment, we shall not lack gunpowder,” said Beverninck; “but as for guncarriages there is no help for it; a fortnight hence we shall not have more than seven.” Louvois had conceived the audacious idea of purchasing in Holland itself the supplies of powder and ball necessary for the French army and the commercial instincts of the Hollanders had prevailed over patriotic sentiment. Ruyter was short of munitions in the contest already commenced against the French and English fleet. “Out of thirty-two battles I have been in I never saw any like it,” said the Dutch admiral after the battle of Soultbay (Solebay) on the 7th of June. “Ruyter is admiral, captain, pilot, sailor, and soldier all in one,” exclaimed the English. Cornelius van Witt in the capacity of commissioner of the Estates had remained seated on the deck of the admiral’s vessel during the fight, indifferent to the bullets that rained around him. The issue of the battle was indecisive; Count d’Estrees, at the head of the French flotilla, had taken little part in the action.

It was not at sea and by the agency of his lieutenants that Louis XIV. aspired to gain the victory; he had already arrived at the banks of the Rhine, marching straight into the very heart of Holland. “I thought it more advantageous for my designs, and less common on the score of glory,” he wrote to Colbert on the 31st of May, “to attack four places at once on the Rhine, and to take the actual command in person at all four sieges... I chose, for that purpose, Rheinberg, Wesel, Burick, and Orsoy, and I hope that there will be no complaint of my having deceived public expectation.” The four places did not hold out four days. On the 12th of June, the king and the Prince of Conde appeared unexpectedly on the right bank of the intermediary branch of the Rhine, between the Wahal and the Yssel. The Hollanders were expecting the enemy at the ford of, the Yssel, being more easy to pass; they were taken by surprise; the king’s cuirassier regiment dashed into the river, and crossed it partly by fording and partly by swimming; the resistance was brief; meanwhile the Duke of Longueville was killed, and the Prince of Conde was wounded for the first time in his life. “I was present at the passage, which was bold, vigorous, full of brilliancy, and glorious for the nation,” writes Louis XIV. Arnheim and Deventer had just surrendered to Turenne and Luxembourg; Duisbourg resisted the king for a few days; Monsieur was besieging Zutphen. John van Witt was for evacuating the Hague and removing to Amsterdam the centre of government and resistance; the Prince of Orange had just abandoned the province of Utrecht, which was immediately occupied by the French; the defensive efforts were concentrated upon the province of Holland; already Naarden, three leagues from Amsterdam, was in the king’s hands. “We learn the surrender of towns before we have heard of their investment,” wrote Van Witt. A deputation from the States was sent on the 22d of June to the king’s headquarters to demand peace. Louis XIV. had just entered Utrecht, which, finding itself abandoned, opened its gates to him. On the same day, John van Witt received in a street of the Hague four stabs with a dagger from the hand of an assassin, whilst the city of Amsterdam, but lately resolved to surrender and prepared to send its magistrates as delegates to Louis XIV., suddenly decided upon resistance to the bitter end. “If we must perish, let us at any rate be the last to fall,” exclaimed the town-councillor Walkernier, “and let us not submit to the yoke it is desired to impose upon us until there remain no means of securing ourselves against it.” All the sluices were opened and the dikes cut. Amsterdam floated amidst the waters. “I thus found myself under the necessity of limiting my conquests, as regarded the province of Holland, to Naarden, Utrecht, and Werden,” writes Louis XIV. in his unpublished Memoire touching the campaign of 1672, and he adds, with rare impartiality, “the resolution to place the whole country under water was somewhat violent; but what would not one do to save one’s self from foreign domination? I cannot help admiring and commending the zeal and stout-heartedness of those who broke off the negotiation of Amsterdam, though their decision, salutary as it was for their country, was very prejudicial to my service; the proposals made to me by the deputies from the States General were very advantageous, but I could never prevail upon myself to accept them.”

Louis XIV. was as yet ignorant what can be done amongst a proud people by patriotism driven to despair; the States General offered him Maestricht, the places on the Rhine, Brabant and Dutch Flanders, with a war-indemnity of ten millions; it was an open door to the Spanish Low Countries, which became a patch enclosed by French possessions; but the king wanted to annihilate the Hollanders; he demanded Southern Gueldres, the Island of Bonmel, twenty-four millions, the restoration of Catholic worship, and, every year, an embassy commissioned to thank the king for having a second time given peace to the United Provinces. This was rather too much; and, whilst the deputies were negotiating with heavy hearts, the people of Holland had risen in wrath.

From the commencement of the war, the party of the house of Nassau had never ceased to gain ground. John van Witt was accused of all the misfortunes of the state; the people demanded with loud outcries the restoration of the stadtholderate, but lately abolished by a law voted by the States under the presumptuous title of perpetual edict. Dordrecht, the native place of the Van Witts, gave the signal of insurrection. Cornelius van Witt, who was confined to his house by illness, yielded to the prayers of his wife and children, and signed the municipal act which destroyed his brother’s work; the contagion spread from town to town, from province to province; on the 4th of July the States General appointed William of Orange stadtholder, captain-general, and admiral of the Union; the national instinct had divined the savior of the country, and with tumultuous acclamations placed in his hands the reins of the state.

William III., Prince of Orange——434

William of Orange was barely two and twenty when the fate of revolutions suddenly put him at the head of a country invaded, devastated, half conquered; but his mind as well as his spirit were up to the level of his task. He loftily rejected at the assembly of the Estates the proposals brought forward in the king’s name by Peter van Groot. “To subscribe them would be suicide,” he said: “even to discuss them is dangerous; but, if the majority of this assembly decide otherwise, there remains but one course for the friends of Protestantism and liberty, and that is, to retire to the colonies in the West Indies, and there found a new country, where their consciences and their persons will be beyond the reach of tyranny and despotism.” The States General decided to “reject the hard and intolerable conditions proposed by their lordships the Kings of France and Great Britain, and to defend this state and its inhabitants with all their might.” The province of Holland in its entirety followed the example of Amsterdam; the dikes were everywhere broken down, at the same time that the troops of the electors of Brandenburg and Saxony were advancing to the aid of the United Provinces, and that the emperor was signing with those two princes a defensive alliance for the maintenance of the treaties of Westphalia, the Pyrenees, and Aix-la-Chapelle.

Louis XIV. could no longer fly from conquest to conquest; henceforth his troops had to remain on observation; care for his pleasures recalled him to France; he left the command-in-chief of his army to M. de Turenne, and set out for St. Germain, where he arrived on the 1st of August. Before leaving Holland, he had sent home almost without ransom twenty thousand prisoners of war, who before long entered the service of the States again. “It was an excess of clemency of which I had reason afterwards to repent,” says the king himself. His mistake was, that he did not understand either Holland or the new chief she had chosen.

Dispirited and beaten, like his country, John van Witt had just given in his resignation as councillor pensionary of Holland. He wrote to Ruyter on the 5th of August, as follows: “The capture of the towns on the Rhine in so short a time, the irruption of the enemy as far as the banks of the Yssel, and the total loss of the provinces of Gueldres, Utrecht, and Over-Yssel, almost without resistance and through unheard-of poltroonery, if not treason, on the part of certain people, have more and more convinced me of the truth of what was in olden times applied to the Roman republic: Successes are claimed by everybody, reverses are put down to one (Prospera omnes sibi vindicant, adversa uni imputantur). That is my own experience. The people of Holland have not only laid at my door all the disasters and calamities that have befallen our republic; they have not been content to see me fall unarmed and defenceless into the hands of four individuals whose design was to murder me; but when, by the agency of Divine Providence, I escaped the assassins’ blows and had recovered from my wounds, they conceived a violent hatred against such of their magistrates as they believed to have most to do with the direction of public affairs; it is against me chiefly that this hatred has manifested itself, although I was nothing but a servant of the state; it is this that has obliged me to demand my discharge from the office of councillor-pensionary.” He was at once succeeded by Gaspard van Fagel, passionately devoted to the Prince of Orange.

Popular passion is as unjust as it is violent in its excesses. Cornelius van Witt, but lately sharing with his brother the public confidence, had just been dragged, as a criminal, to the Hague, accused by a wretched barber of having planned the assassination of the Prince of Orange. In vain did the magistrates of the town of Dordrecht claim their right of jurisdiction over their fellow-citizen. Cornelius van Witt was put to the torture to make him confess his crime. “You will not force me to confess a thing I never even thought of,” he said, whilst the pulleys were dislocating his limbs. His baffled judges heard him repeating Horace’s ode: Just um et tenacem propositi virum. . . . At the end of three hours he was carried back to his cell, broken but indomitable. The court condemned him to banishment; his accuser, Tichelaer, was not satisfied.

Before long, at his instigation, the mob collected about the prison, uttering imprecations against the judges and their clemency. “They are traitors!” cried Tichelaer, “but let us first take vengeance on those whom we have.” John van Witt had been brought to the prison by a message supposed to have come from the ruart. In vain had his daughter conjured him not to respond to it. “What are you come here for?” exclaimed Cornelius, on seeing his brother enter. “Did you not send for me?” “No, certainly not.” “Then we are lost,” said John van Witt, calmly. The shouts of the crowd redoubled; a body of cavalry still preserved order; a rumor suddenly spread that the peasants from the environs were marching on the Hague to plunder it; the States of Holland sent orders to the Count of Tilly to move against them; the brave soldier demanded a written order. “I will obey,” he said, “but the two brothers are lost.”

The Brothers Witt——436

The troops had scarcely withdrawn, and already the doors of the prison were forced; the ruart, exhausted by the torture, was stretched upon his bed, whilst his brother sat by his side reading the Bible aloud; the madmen rushed into the chamber, crying, “Traitors, prepare yourselves; you are going to die.” Cornelius van Witt started up, joining his hands in prayer; the blows aimed at him did not reach him. John was wounded. They were both dragged forth; they embraced one another; Cornelius, struck from behind, rolled to the bottom of the staircase; his brother would have defended him; as he went out into the street, he received a pike-thrust in the face; the ruart was dead already; the murderers vented their fury on John van Witt; he had lost nothing of his courage or his coolness, and, lifting his arms towards heaven, he was opening his mouth in prayer to God, when a last pistol-shot stretched him upon his back. “There’s the perpetual edict floored!” shouted the assassins, lavishing upon the two corpses insults and imprecations. It was only at night, and after having with difficulty recognized them, so disfigured had they been, that poor Jacob van Witt was able to have his sons’ bodies removed; he was before long to rejoin them in everlasting rest.

William of Orange arrived next day at the Hague, too late for his fame, and for the punishment of the obscure assassins, whom he allowed to escape. The compassers of the plot obtained before long appointments and rewards. “He one day assured me,” says Gourville, “that it was quite true he had not given any orders to have the Witts killed, but that, having heard of their death without having contributed to it, he had certainly felt a little relieved.” History and the human heart have mysteries which it is not well to probe to the bottom.

For twenty years John van Witt had, been the most noble exponent of his country’s traditional policy. Long faithful to the French alliance, he had desired to arrest Louis XIV. in his dangerous career of triumph; foreseeing the peril to come, he had forgotten the peril at hand; he had believed too much and too long in the influence of negotiations and the possibility of regaining the friendship of France. He died unhapp